[53a] but fly off and settle elsewhere if they are spongy and light. So it was also with the Four Kinds when shaken by the Recipient: her motion, like an instrument which causes shaking, was separating farthest from one another the dissimilar, and pushing most closely together the similar; wherefore also these Kinds occupied different places even before that the Universe was organized and generated out of them.Before that time, in truth, all these things were in a state devoid of reason or measure, but when the work of setting in order this Universe was being undertaken, [53b] fire and water and earth and air, although possessing some traces of their own nature, were yet so disposed as everything is likely to be in the absence of God; and inasmuch as this was then their natural condition, God began by first marking them out into shapes by means of forms and numbers. And that God constructed them, so far as He could, to be as fair and good as possible, whereas they had been otherwise,—this above all else must always be postulated in our account. Now, however, it is the disposition and origin [53c] of each of these Kinds which I must endeavor to explain to you in an exposition of an unusual type; yet, inasmuch as you have some acquaintance with the technical method which I must necessarily employ in my exposition, you will follow me.In the first place, then, it is plain I presume to everyone that fire and earth and water and air are solid bodies; and the form of a body, in every case, possesses depth also. Further, it is absolutely necessary that depth should be bounded by a plane surface; and the rectilinear plane is composed of triangles. [53d] Now all triangles derive their origin from two triangles, each having one angle right and the others acute1; and the one of these triangles has on each side half a right angle marked off by equal sides, while the other has the right angle divided into unequal parts by unequal sides. These we lay down as the principles of fire and all the other bodies, proceeding according to a method in which the probable is combined with the necessary; but the principles which are still higher than these are known only to God and the man who is dear to God. [53e] We must now declare what will be the four fairest bodies, dissimilar to one another, but capable in part of being produced out of one another by means of dissolution; for if we succeed herein we shall grasp the truth concerning the generation of earth and fire and the mean proportionals. For to no one will we concede that fairer bodies than these, each distinct of its kind, are anywhere to be seen. Wherefore we must earnestly endeavor to frame together these four kinds of bodies which excel in beauty, and to maintain that we have apprehended
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1 i.e., the rectangular isosceles triangle and the rectangular scalene; all other triangles can be built up from these two (e.g. see 54 E N.).
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