Thursday, February 23, 2012

Still Battling Poseidon!

Plato, "Cratylus"
Soc. - Moreover, there is a remarkable coincidence in the words of Hesiod, when he speaks of Oceanus, 'the origin of Gods;' and in the verse of Orpheus, in which he describes Oceanus espousing his sister Tethys. Tethys is nothing more than the name of a spring—to diattomenon kai ethoumenon. Poseidon is posidesmos, the chain of the feet, because you cannot walk on the sea—the epsilon is inserted by way of ornament; or perhaps the name may have been originally polleidon, meaning, that the God knew many things (polla eidos): he may also be the shaker, apo tou seiein,—in this case, pi and delta have been added. Pluto gives wealth (Ploutos), and his name means the giver of wealth, which comes out of the earth beneath. People in general appear to imagine that the term Hades is connected with the invisible (aeides) and so they are led by their fears to call the God Pluto instead.

Her. - And what is the true derivation?

Soc. - In spite of the mistakes which are made about the power of this deity, and the foolish fears which people have of him, such as the fear of always being with him after death, and of the soul denuded of the body going to him, my belief is that all is quite consistent, and that the office and name of the God really correspond.

Her. - Why, how is that?

Soc. - I will tell you my own opinion; but first, I should like to ask you which chain does any animal feel to be the stronger? and which confines him more to the same spot,- desire or necessity?

Her. - Desire, Socrates, is stronger far.

Soc. - And do you not think that many a one would escape from Hades, if he did not bind those who depart to him by the strongest of chains?

Her. - Assuredly they would.

Soc. - And if by the greatest of chains, then by some desire, as I should certainly infer, and not by necessity?

Her. - That is clear.