Plato, Cratylus (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Pl. Cra.].
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401b

Socrates

Shall we, then, begin with Hestia, according to custom?

Hermogenes

That is the proper thing.

Socrates

Then what would you say the man had in mind who gave Hestia her name?

Hermogenes

By Zeus, I think that is no more easy question than the other.

Socrates

At any rate, my dear Hermogenes, the first men who gave names were no ordinary persons, but high thinkers and great talkers.

Hermogenes

What then?

Socrates

I am sure the names were given by men of that kind; and if foreign names are examined, 401cthe meaning of each of them is equally evident. Take, for instance, that which we call οὐσία (reality, essence); some people call it ἐσσία, and still others ὠσία. First, then, in connection with the second of these forms, it is reasonable that the essence of things be called Hestia; and moreover, because we ourselves say of that which partakes of reality “it is” (ἔστιν), the name Hestia would be correct in this connection also; for apparently we also called οὐσία (reality) ἐσσία in ancient times. And besides, if you consider it in connection with sacrifices, 401dyou would come to the conclusion that those who established them understood the name in that way; for those who called the essence of things ἐσσία would naturally sacrifice to Hestia first of all the gods. Those on the other hand, who say ὠσία would agree, well enough with Heracleitus that all things move and nothing remains still. So they would say the cause and ruler of things was the pushing power (ὠθοῦν), wherefore it had been rightly named ὠσία. But enough of this, considering that we know nothing. 401eAfter Hestia it is right to consider Rhea and Cronus. The name of Cronus, however, has already been discussed. But perhaps I am talking nonsense.

Hermogenes

Why, Socrates?

Socrates

My friend, I have thought of a swarm of wisdom.

Hermogenes

What is it? 402a

Socrates

It sounds absurd, but I think there is some probability in it.

Hermogenes

What is this probability?

Socrates

I seem to have a vision of Heracleitus saying some ancient words of wisdom as old as the reign of Cronus and Rhea, which Homer said too.

Hermogenes

What do you mean by that?

Socrates

Heracleitus says, you know, that all things move and nothing remains still, and he likens the universe to the current of a river, saying that you cannot step twice into the same stream.

Hermogenes

True. 402b

Socrates

Well, don't you think he who gave to the ancestors of the other gods the names “Rhea” and “Cronus” had the same thought as Heracleitus? Do you think he gave both of them the names of streams merely by chance? Just so Homer, too, says— Ocean the origin of the gods, and their mother Tethys;
Hom. Il. 14.201, 302. and I believe Hesiod says that also. Orpheus, too, says— Fair-flowing Ocean was the first to marry,
402c and he wedded his sister Tethys, daughter of his mother.
Orpheus Fr.
See how they agree with each other and all tend towards the doctrine of Heracleitus.

Hermogenes

I think there is something in what you say, Socrates; but I do not know what the name of Tethys means.

Socrates

Why, the name itself almost tells that it is the name of a spring somewhat disguised; for that which is strained (διαττώμενον) 402dand filtered (ἠθούμενον) represents a spring, and the name Tethys is compounded of those two words.

Hermogenes

That is very neat, Socrates.

Socrates

Of course it is. But what comes next? Zeus we discussed before.

Hermogenes

Yes.

Socrates

Let us, then, speak of his brothers, Poseidon and Pluto, including also the other name of the latter.

Hermogenes

By all means.

Socrates

I think Poseidon's name was given by him who first applied it, 402ebecause the power the sea restrained him as he was walking and hindered his advance; it acted as a bond (δεσμός) of his feet (ποδῶν). So he called the lord of this power Poseidon, regarding him as a foot-bond (ποσί-δεσμον). The e is inserted perhaps for euphony. But possibly that may not be right; possibly two lambdas were originally pronounced instead of the sigma, because the god knew (εἰδότος) many (πολλά) things. 403aOr it may be that from his shaking he was called the Shaker (ὁ σείων), and the pi and delta are additions. As for Pluto, he was so named as the giver of wealth (πλοῦτος), because wealth comes up from below out of the earth. And Hades—I fancy most people think that this is a name of the Invisible (ἀειδής), so they are afraid and call him Pluto.



Plato, Cratylus (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Pl. Cra.].
<<Pl. Cra. 399e Pl. Cra. 402a (Greek) >>Pl. Cra. 403e

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