Str. Why, because only the most divine things of all remain ever
unchanged and the same, and body is not included in this
and the universe, as we have termed them, although they have been
endowed by the Creator with many glories, partake of a bodily
nature, and therefore cannot be entirely free from perturbation. But
their motion is, as far as possible, single and in the same
of the same kind; and is therefore only subject to a reversal, which
is the least alteration possible. For the lord of all moving
alone able to move of himself; and to think that he moves them at
one time in one direction and at another time in another is
Hence we must not say that the world is either self-moved always, or
all made to go round by God in two opposite courses; or that
having opposite purposes, make it move round. But as I have already
said (and this is the only remaining alternative) the world is
guided at one time by an external power which is divine and receives
fresh life and immortality from the renewing hand of the Creator,
and again, when let go, moves spontaneously, being set free at such
a time as to have, during infinite cycles of years, a reverse
movement: this is due to its perfect balance, to its vast
size, and to
the fact that it turns on the smallest pivot.
Y. Soc. Your account of the world seems to be very reasonable
Str. Let us now reflect and try to gather from what has been said
the nature of the phenomenon which we affirmed to be the cause of
all these wonders. It is this.
Y. Soc. What?
Str. The reversal which takes place from time to time of the
motion of the universe.
Y. Soc. How is that the cause?
Str. Of all changes of the heavenly motions, we may
consider this to
be the greatest and most complete.
Y. Soc. I should imagine so.
Str. And it may be supposed to result in the greatest
changes to the
human beings who are the inhabitants of the world at the time.
Y. Soc. Such changes would naturally occur.
Str. And animals, as we know, survive with difficulty great and
serious changes of many different kinds when they come upon them at
Y. Soc. Very true.
Str. Hence there necessarily occurs a great destruction of them,
which extends also to-the life of man; few survivors of the race are
left, and those who remain become the subjects of several novel and
remarkable phenomena, and of one in particular, which takes place at
the time when the transition is made to the cycle opposite to that
in which we are now living.
Y. Soc. What is it?
Str. The life of all animals first came to a standstill, and the
mortal nature ceased to be or look older, and was then reversed and
grew young and delicate; the white locks of the aged darkened again,
and the cheeks the bearded man became smooth, and recovered their
former bloom; the bodies of youths in their prime grew softer and
smaller, continually by day and night returning and becoming
assimilated to the nature of a newly-born child in mind as well as
body; in the succeeding stage they wasted away and wholly
And the bodies of those who died by violence at that time quickly