| Stories from Plato and Other Classic Writers|
|by Mary E. Burt|
|Twenty-seven stories adapted for young children from selections of works of classic writers of the ancient world. The stories were chosen by the author for their inspirational value, either 'because they contained fine moral points, or else because they were poetic statements of natural phenomena which might enhance the study of natural science.' Writers represented in the collection include Plato, Homer, Hesiod, Aristophanes, Pliny, and Ovid. Ages 6-9 |
WHAT PLATO SAID ABOUT THE SPHERE
 A LITTLE boy was told that he might do anything he pleased, and this is what he did. He helped
himself to a large handful of clay and sat down and made it into a beautiful sphere,
which was admired very much. But after awhile we looked again, and the little boy
had put a big nose onto his sphere and some eyes and lips, and he had attached long
arms with hands of amazing size, and legs and feet. He told us that it was a man, but
we thought it was a wild fellow. One would suppose that a
 sphere with legs and feet would run away, but the little boy said that his sphere kept
rolling around until he gave it feet so that it could stand still.
The Sphere Family is a strange company. It is said that everything in the universe would
like to be a sphere. Apples and oranges try to be round. Cherries, and blueberries, and
snowballs, and sleighbells, and marbles, try their best to look like spheres. Ages ago,
when everything used to be a gas, even that went whirling round and round until it came
together in shape of a ball, which rolled over and over until it had thrown off a countless
number of smaller balls,
 which turned out to be suns, and moons, and stars, and the earth on which we live.
It seems to be the nature of everything that has nothing on which to stand, to go
whirling around and turn into balls just like the universe.
When rain falls from the clouds, the drops turn round and round and become little
spheres. When they freeze we call them hail-stones. Molten lead, dropped from the
top of a shot tower, falls at the base in balls which we call shot. But Plato told a story
about a sphere which is more marvelous than ally of these stories.
Long before man lived on the earth or had a body, he had a Mind
 or Spirit. The Mind or Spirit was good and holy. It could see the truth, and understand
the truth, and love the truth. It came from the Creator of the universe. He created the
seed which should produce it, and gave it to the gods, and made it immortal. And he
told them to weave this immortal .part into a mortal body, because the mind would
need contact with objects to become wise.
Now, when the gods saw the universe, that it was full of spheres, and that these spheres
moved around each other, and around the sun, all in the greatest harmony, they thought
it would be quite proper to create a body for Man on
 the same plan, and so they made a head, in which he might carry his Mind. They made it
in the form of a ball, and said that since it was the part of him which recognized justice
and truth, it should be the lord over all that was in Man.
But the head could not get on very well all alone. It could do nothing but go rolling
every which way, unless something helped it to stand still. So the gods gave all the
rest of the body to it, to be its servant, in order that it might not tumble about among
the deep and high places of the earth, but might be able to get across ditches without
falling in, and over mountains without tumbling down. They
 placed the head at the top of the body, so that each man might carry his Mind high up
above everything base. And so it became the temple of the holy Spirit, the dwelling-place
of the most sacred and divine part of us. The arms were attached merely to take care of the
head, and the trunk to support it, and the legs to carry it.
Each side of a sphere seems to be exactly like every other side, but the gods easily told one
side from another, for they considered the front more honorable than the back. So they put
a nose on the front of it, and a mouth also, with lips and teeth. They put ears on the right
side and left and hair on
 the back, and gave the whole body a forward motion. And they contrived the eyes, to
give light to the head, so that it could have all the fire it needed, but not enough to burn it up.
The gift of the eyes was very important, for it enabled the head to see the sun, moon,
and stars. If it had not been for that, the head could never have told night from day,
nor summer from winter, nor one month from another, because the sun makes the
day and the night, and measures off the year, while the moon measures off the month.
God gave us eyes for this reason, that we might behold the
 intelligence in the heaven, how great it is, how serene and undisturbed, and that we
might apply it to our own intelligence, and become serene and happy.
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