Autokrates

phallus4

Τῶν γενομένων ἀνδρῶν ὅσοι δειλοὶ καὶ τὸν βίον ἀδίκως διῆλθον, κατὰ λόγον τὸν εἰκότα γυναῖκες μετεφύοντο ἐν τῇ δευτέρᾳ γενέσει· καὶ κατ’ ἐκεῖνον δὴ τὸν χρόνον διὰ ταῦτα θεοὶ τὸν τῆς συνουσίας ἔρωτα ἐτεκτήναντο, ζῷον τὸ μὲν ἐν ἡμῖν, τὸ δ’ ἐν ταῖς γυναιξὶν συστήσαντες ἔμψυχον, τοιῷδε τρόπῳ ποιήσαντες ἑκάτερον. τὴν τοῦ ποτοῦ διέξοδον, ᾗ διὰ τοῦ πλεύμονος τὸ πῶμα ὑπὸ τοὺς νεφροὺς εἰς τὴν κύστιν ἐλθὸν καὶ τῷ πνεύματι θλιφθὲν συνεκπέμπει δεχομένη, συνέτρησαν εἰς τὸν ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς κατὰ τὸν αὐχένα καὶ διὰ τῆς ῥάχεως μυελὸν συμπεπηγότα, ὃν δὴ σπέρμα ἐν τοῖς πρόσθεν λόγοις εἴπομεν· ὁ δέ, ἅτ’ ἔμψυχος ὢν καὶ λαβὼν ἀναπνοήν, τοῦθ’ ᾗπερ ἀνέπνευσεν, τῆς ἐκροῆς ζωτικὴν ἐπιθυμίαν ἐμποιήσας αὐτῷ, τοῦ γεννᾶν ἔρωτα ἀπετέλεσεν. διὸ δὴ τῶν μὲν ἀνδρῶν τὸ περὶ τὴν τῶν αἰδοίων φύσιν ἀπειθές τε καὶ αὐτοκρατὲς γεγονός, οἷον ζῷον ἀνυπήκοον τοῦ λόγου, πάντων δι’ ἐπιθυμίας οἰστρώδεις ἐπιχειρεῖ κρατεῖν· αἱ δ’ ἐν ταῖς γυναιξὶν αὖ μῆτραί τε καὶ ὑστέραι λεγόμεναι διὰ τὰ αὐτὰ ταῦτα, ζῷον ἐπιθυμητικὸν ἐνὸν τῆς παιδοποιίας, ὅταν ἄκαρπον παρὰ τὴν ὥραν χρόνον πολὺν γίγνηται, χαλεπῶς ἀγανακτοῦν φέρει, καὶ πλανώμενον πάντῃ κατὰ τὸ σῶμα, τὰς τοῦ πνεύματος διεξόδους ἀποφράττον, ἀναπνεῖν οὐκ ἐῶν εἰς ἀπορίας τὰς ἐσχάτας ἐμβάλλει καὶ νόσους παντοδαπὰς ἄλλας παρέχει, μέχριπερ ἂν ἑκατέρων ἡ ἐπιθυμία καὶ ὁ ἔρως συναγαγόντες, οἷον ἀπὸ δένδρων καρπὸν καταδρέψαντες, ὡς εἰς ἄρουραν τὴν μήτραν ἀόρατα ὑπὸ σμικρότητος καὶ ἀδιάπλαστα ζῷα κατασπείραντες καὶ πάλιν διακρίναντες μεγάλα ἐντὸς ἐκθρέψωνται καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο εἰς φῶς ἀγαγόντες ζῴων ἀποτελέσωσι γένεσιν. γυναῖκες μὲν οὖν καὶ τὸ θῆλυ πᾶν οὕτω γέγονεν…
(Plato, Timaeus 90e-91d)

Some men, once they had been incarnated, lived unmanly or immoral lives, and it’s plausible to suggest that they were reborn in their next incarnation as women. That, therefore, was when the gods invented sexual desire,* a living being that they formed, though different in men and in women, and endowed with a soul. Here’s how they made each of these creatures. At the point where the channel for drink receives liquid (once it has passed through the lung, behind the kidneys, and into the bladder) and discharges it under pressure from air, they bored a channel into the marrow they had constructed, that extends from the head, down through the neck, and through the spine — that is, the marrow we described earlier as seed. The marrow, as something endowed with soul and now granted an outlet, generated, in the part where the outlet is, a lively appetite for emission and the result was the male yearning for procreation. And this is why men’s sex organs, like a creature which is incapable of listening to reason, are disobedient and headstrong, and, goaded by their frantic appetites, try to have everything their way. To turn to women and the ‘womb’ or ‘uterus’ they possess: there exists inside the womb, for the same purpose, a living being with an appetite for child-making, and so if it remains unproductive long past puberty, it gets irritated and fretful. It takes to wandering all around the body and generating all sorts of ailments, including potentially fatal problems, if it blocks up the air-channels and makes breathing impossible. This goes on until a woman’s appetite for childbearing and a man’s yearning for procreation bring the two of them together and they strip the fruit from the tree, so to speak. They sow in the field of the womb tiny creatures, too small to be seen. At first not fully formed, these creatures then become articulated, while the womb nourishes them until they’ve grown enough to emerge into the light of day. The result of this process, then, is the creation of living creatures. So this is how women and females of any species were created. (tr. Robin Waterfield)

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