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Damascius- Gleans From The ‘Commentaries Upon Plato’s ‘Phaedo”-GAIA, The Mother Goddess

School of Jan Brueghel the Younger and School of Hendrik van Balen – Earth, One of the four Elements. Picture for Sotheby’s 2004 Old Master’s Paintings catalog, lot 108.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA are chosen gleans from Leendert Gerrit Westerink’s fine text and parallel translation of the surviving Greek two Commentaries on Plato’s Phaedo by Damascius  (Damascius I and Damascius II), here, on the subject of GAIA, Mother Earth.


Plato’s ‘Timaeus. 40.c2-3. English translation by Donald J. Zeyl.

And Earth, our nurse, which is globed around the pole that stretches through all, [40c] He framed to be the wardress and fashioner of night and day, she being the first and eldest of all the gods which have come into existence within the Heaven.

Original Greek

γῆν δὲ τροφὸν μὲν ἡμετέραν, ἰλλομένην δὲ [40ξ] τὴν περὶ τὸν διὰ παντὸς πόλον τεταμένον, φύλακα καὶ δημιουργὸν νυκτός τε καὶ ἡμέρας ἐμηχανήσατο, πρώτην καὶ πρεσβυτάτην θεῶν ὅσοι ἐντὸς οὐρανοῦ γεγόνασιν.


Commentaries upon Plato’s ‘Phaedo’.
Damascius I

508. Earth is a Goddess, according to Timaeus [40c2-3], to authorities on ritual, and to the theologians. Besides, if the world is a total made up of totals, it follows that it is a God made up of Gods; that it is a God is true, therefore so are its parts, therefore so is the Earth as one of its parts. Furthermore, if Earth is contradistinguished from Heaven, and Heaven is a God (as it certainly must be, if the Sun and the Moon are), the same holds true of the Earth. Furthermore, if the subterranean Gods are parts of the Earth, Earth itself is a fortiori a Deity. Now this Earth of ours is an intra- mundane being, since it has this lowest kind of body attached to it; but if even we, human beings, have the luminous body prior to the earthly body, this is all the more certainly true of the whole Earth, and consequently there is also a soul beyond it, and an intelligence beyond the soul.

Original Greek


Coptic textile with representation of Gaia-Isis in a medallion (Egypt. 4th century AD, 25 cm diam). Collections of the Hermitage Museum.

532. [11 lb7] Since Plato states that there are Gods living on the Earth and even calls the Earth itself ‘the most venerable of the Gods’ [Tim. 40c3], the Epinomis cannot be a genuine work of Plato, with its doctrine that the Gods exist only in heaven [983c6-987d2].

Original Greek


Commentaries upon Plato’s ‘Phaedo’
Damascius II

114. The earth described here has been interpreted by some as in¬ corporeal, by others are corporeal, and in each case there are two views: those who take it to be incorporeal explain it either as the idea or as nature, those who regard it as corporeal say either that it is the whole world, or that it is the sublunary world. Plato, however, apparently means our earth, as the text shows.

115. The Earth, as a constituent of the Universe, is a Deity. For if the Universe is a God, so of course are the parts that constitute this God. Secondly, if the Earth is an integral part, not a fraction, the Earth must be a Deity; how indeed, as a wholly complete part of the world, can she be otherwise? That which makes the whole a God, confers the same status upon the complete part, containing the plenitude of all forms. Thirdly, if the Earth comprises other Gods, she must a fortiori be a Goddess herself, as Timaeus also says [40b8-c3], so that she must also have an intelligence dependent upon her and a rational soul; and a luminous body before this visible body.

Original Greek









Panel of Tellus (Gaia, Mother Earth). Left part of the east façade of the Ara Pacis Augustae (upper panel). Marble. Rome, Museum of the Altar of Augustan Peace (Ara Pacis Augustae)(Roma, Museo dell’Ara Pacis). Credits:© 2012. Photo: Ilya Shurygin.


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Damascius- Gleans From The ‘Commentaries Upon Plato’s ‘Phaedo”-GAIA, The Mother Goddess

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