More Attention to Wheels (Less to Walls)

Pindar, Fr. 194

“Come, let us build walls now,
A speaking, intricate, construction of words”

εἶα τειχίζωμεν ἤδη ποικίλον
κόσμον αὐδάεντα λόγων

Aristotle, Mechanical Problems, 851b

“Why do round and circular things move most easily of all shapes? A wheel has three different types of movement. It can move along the rim of the wheel as the center moves too (the way a wheel of a simple cart turns). It can also move around the center, the way that pulleys do, when the center stays still. Or, it may move parallel to the ground with the center still too, the way a potter’s wheel moves.

These movements are really fast because of the limited friction with the ground—this is the same as how a circle only touches a single point on a line and for that reason there is little resistance.”

Διὰ τί τὰ στρογγύλα καὶ περιφερῆ τῶν σχημάτων εὐκινητότερα; τριχῶς δὲ ἐνδέχεται τὸν κύκλον κυλισθῆναι· ἢ γὰρ κατὰ τὴν ἁψῖδα, συμμεταβάλλοντος τοῦ κέντρου, ὥσπερ ὁ τροχὸς ὁ τῆς ἁμάξης κυλίεται· ἢ περὶ τὸ κέντρον μόνον, ὥσπερ αἱ τροχιλέαι, τοῦ κέντρου μένοντος· ἢ παρὰ τὸ ἐπίπεδον, τοῦ κέντρου μένοντος, ὥσπερ ὁ εραμεικὸς τροχὸς κυλίνδεται. εἰ μὲν δὴ τάχιστα τὰ τοιαῦτα, διά τε τὸ μικρῷ ἅπτεσθαι τοῦ ἐπιπέδου, ὥσπερ ὁ κύκλος κατὰ στιγμήν, καὶ διὰ τὸ μὴ προσκόπτειν·

Plotinus, Ennead, 4.3

“There is a certain kind of center and over it there is a circle shining out from it. In addition to these, there is another and light comes from light. Outside of these, there is no other circle of light, but a circle which, because it lacks its own illumination, requires rays of light from somewhere else. Let’s call this a wheel, or, instead, a kind of ball which emerges from the third (since it is situated around it) and it is illuminated by however much light the third has.

In this way, the great light remains, shining and its brilliance expands into the world in proper order. Other lights join its brightness: some remain in place, but others, pulled by the gleam of the light, are moved. And then, while those things that are filled with light require more consideration, they also bend inward to their own concerns, just as captains of ships in a storm pay more attention to the operation of their ships and forget to care for themselves and run the risk of drowning along with the wreck of their ship.”

ἔστι γάρ τι οἷον κέντρον, ἐπὶ δὲ τούτῳ κύκλος ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐκλάμπων, ἐπὶ δὲ τούτοις ἄλλος, φῶς ἐκ φωτός· ἔξωθεν δὲ τούτων οὐκέτι φωτὸς κύκλος ἄλλος, ἀλλὰ δεόμενος οὗτος οἰκείου φωτὸς ἀπορίᾳ αὐγῆς ἀλλοτρίας. ἔστω δὲ ῥόμβος οὗτος, μᾶλλον δὲ σφαῖρα τοιαύτη, ἣ δὴ κομίζεται ἀπὸ τῆς τρίτης—προσεχὴς γὰρ αὐτῇ—ὅσον ἐκείνη ἐναυγάζεται.

τὸ μὲν οὖν μέγα φῶς μένον ἐλλάμπει, καὶ διήκει κατὰ λόγον ἐξ αὐτοῦ αὐγή, τὰ δ᾿ ἄλλα συνεπιλάμπει, τὰ μὲν μένοντα, τὰ δ᾿ ἐπιπλέον ἐπισπᾶται τῇ τοῦ ἐλλαμπομένου ἀγλαΐᾳ. εἶτα δεομένων τῶν ἐλλαμπομένων πλείονος φροντίδος, ὥσπερ χειμαζομένων πλοίων κυβερνῆται ἐναπερείδονται πρὸς τὸ πλέον τῇ τῶν νεῶν φροντίδι καὶ ἀμελήσαντες αὑτῶν ἔλαθον, ὡς κινδυνεύειν συνεπισπασθῆναι πολλάκις τῷ τῶν νεῶν ναυαγίῳ, ἔρρεψαν τὸ πλέον καὶ αὗται καὶ τοῖς ἑαυτῶν

Image result for medieval manuscript wheel of lights
British Library Harley MS 4431, f. 129.

There’s also always this:

But, I think this will be a good soundtrack for the weekend:


One thought on “More Attention to Wheels (Less to Walls)

  1. These are great sources; thanks. Do you mind if I use them in my Classics club? I can mock up some fake sources and the students can try to guess which is which.

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