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Pages of republic (books 6 - 10)



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republic (books 6 - 10)   


of the other spirit was: "He comes not hither, and will never
come." And this, said he, was one of the dreadful sights
which we ourselves witnessed. We were at the mouth of the
cavern, and, having completed all our experiences, were about
to reascend, when of a sudden Ardiaeus appeared and several
others, most of whom were tyrants; and there were also, be-
sides the tyrants, private individuals who had been great crimi-
nals: they were just, as they fancied, about to return into the
upper world, but the mouth, instead of admitting them, gave a
roar, whenever any of these incurable sinners or someone who
had not been sufficiently punished tried to ascend; and then wild
men of fiery aspect, who were standing by and heard the sound,
seized and carried them off; and Ardiaeus and others they
bound head and foot and hand, and threw them down and
flayed them with scourges, and dragged them along the road
at the side, carding them on thorns like wool, and declaring to
the passers-by what were their crimes, and that they were
being taken away to be cast into hell. And of all the many
terrors which they had endured, he said that there was none
like the terror which each of them felt at that moment, lest they
should hear the voice; and when there was silence, one by one
they ascended with exceeding joy. These, said Er, were the
penalties and retributions, and there were blessings as great.

Now when the spirits which were in the meadow had tarried
seven days, on the eighth they were obliged to proceed on their
journey, and, on the fourth day after, he said that they came
to a place where they could see from above a line of light,
straight as a column, extending right through the whole heaven
and through the earth, in color resembling the rainbow, only
brighter and purer; another day's journey brought them to the
place, and there, in the midst of the light, they saw the ends of
the chains of heaven let down from above: for this light is the
belt of heaven, and holds together the circle of the universe,
like the under-girders of a trireme. From these ends is extend-
ed the spindle of Necessity, on which all the revolutions turn.
The shaft and hook of this spindle are made of steel, and the
whorl is made partly of steel and also partly of other materials.
Now the whorl is in form like the whorl used on earth; and
the description of it implied that there is one large hollow whorl
which is quite scooped out, and into this is fitted another lesser
one, and another, and another, and four others, making eight
in all, like vessels which fit into one another; the whorls show
their edges on the upper side, and on their lower side all to-
gether form one continuous whorl. This is pierced by the
spindle, which is driven home through the centre of the eighth.
The first and outermost whorl has the rim broadest, and the
seven inner whorls are narrower, in the following proportions
--the sixth is next to the first in size, the fourth next to the
sixth; then comes the eighth; the seventh is fifth, the fifth is
sixth, the third is seventh, last and eighth comes the second.
The largest (or fixed stars) is spangled, and the seventh (or
sun) is brightest; the eighth (or moon) colored by the reflected
light of the seventh; the second and fifth (Saturn and Mer-
cury) are in color like one another, and yellower than the pre-
ceding; the third (Venus) has the whitest light; the fourth
(Mars) is reddish; the sixth (Jupiter) is in whiteness second.
Now the whole spindle has the same motion; but, as the whole
revolves in one direction, the seven inner circles move slowly in
the other, and of these the swiftest is the eighth; next in swift-
ness are the seventh, sixth, and fifth, which move together;
third in swiftness appeared to move according to the law of
this reversed motion, the fourth; the third appeared fourth, and
the second fifth. The spindle turns on the knees of Necessity;

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