Platos Usage

1. He employs the noun as his predecessors did. I give an illustration*-"Leading a life (aiona) involved in troubles."

2. The Adjective.(30) Referring to certain souls in Hades, he describes them as in aionion intoxication. But that he does not use the word in the sense of endless is evident from the Phsdon, where he says, "It is a very ancient opinion that souls quitting this world, repair to the infernal regions, and return after that, to live in this world." After the aionion intoxication is over, they return to earth, which demonstrates that the world was not used by him as meaning endless. Again,(31) he speaks of that which is indestructible, (anolethron) and not aionion. He places the two words in contrast, whereas, had he intended to use aionion as meaning endless, he would have said indestructible and aionion.

Once more,(32) Plato quotes four instances of aion, and three of aionios, and one ofdiaionios in a single passage, in contrast with aidios (eternal.) The gods he calls eternal, (aidios) but the soul and the corporeal nature, he says, are aionios, belonging to time, and "all these," he says, "are part of time." And he calls Time [Kronos] an aionios image of Aionos. Exactly what so obscure an author may mean here is not apparent, but one thing is perfectly clear, he cannot mean eternity and eternal by aionios and aionion, for nothing is wider from the fact than that fluctuating, changing Time, beginning and ending, and full of mutations, is an image of Eternity. It is in every possible particular its exact opposite.

In De Mundo,(33) Aristotle says: "Which of these things separately can be compared with the order of the heaven, and the relation of the stars, sun, and also the moon moving in most perfect measures from one aion to another aion,"- ex aionos eis eteron aiona. Now even if Aristotle had said that the word was at first derived from two words that signify always being, his own use of it demonstrates that it had not that meaning then [B.C. 350.] Again,(34) he says of the earth, "All these things seem to be done for her good, in order to maintain safety during her aionos," duration, or life. And still more to the purpose is this quotation concerning God's existence.(35) Life and an aionCONTINUOUS AND ETERNAL, "zoe kai aion, sunekes kai aidios, etc." Here the word aidios, [eternal] is employed to qualify aion and impart to it what it had not of itself, the sense of eternal. Aristotle could be guilty of no such language as "an eternal eternity." Had the word aion contained the idea of eternity in his time, or in his mind, he would not have added aidios. "For the limit enclosing the time of the life of every man,.. .is called his continuous existence, aion. On the same principle, the limit of the whole heaven, and the limit enclosing the universal system, is the divine and immortal ever-existing aion, deriving the name aion from ever-existing [aei on.]"(36) In eleven out of twelve instances in the works of Aristotle, aion isused either doubtfully, or in a manner similar to the instance above cited, [from one aion to another, that is, from one age to another,] but in this last instance it is perfectly clear that an aion is only without end when it is described by and adjective like aidios, whose meaning is endless. Nobody cares how the word originated, after hearing from Aristotle himself that created objects exist from one aion to another, and that the existence of the eternal God is not described by a word so feeble, but by the addition of another that expresses endless duration. Here aion only obtains the force of eternal duration by being reinforced by the word immortal. If it meant eternity, the addition of immortal is like adding gilding to refined gold, and daubing paint on the petal of the lily.

In most of these the word is enlarged by descriptive adjectives. ^schylus calls Jupiter "king of the never-ceasing aion," and Aristotle expressly states in one case that the aion of heaven "has neither beginning nor end," and in another instance he calls man's life his aion, and the aion of heaven "immortal." If aion denotes eternity, why add "neither beginning nor end," or "immortal," to describe its meaning? These quotations unanswerable show that aion in the Classics, never means eternity unless a qualifying word or subject connected with it add to its intrinsic value.

Says Dr. Beecher: In Rome there were certain periodical games known as the secular games, from the Latin seculum, a period, or age. The historian, Herodian, writing in Greek, calls these aionian games, that is, periodical, occurring at the end of a seculum. It would be singular, indeed, to call them eternal or everlasting games. Cremer, in his masterly Lexicon of New Testament Greek, states the general meaning of the word to be 'Belonging to the aion.'" Herodotus, Isocrates, Xenophon, Sophocles, Diodorus Siculus use the word in precisely the same way. Diodorus Siculus says ton apeiron aiona, "indefinite time."

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