Prometheus Trust
TTS Catalogue
Texts and Translations
Other books
ISNS Collections
Complete Catalogue
Zoom Courses
Essentials Course
Exploring Platonism
Warburg Neoplatonic Reading
London Monday  Evenings
Bristol Monthly sessions
Academy Appeal
Virtual Events
ISNS Scholars Articles
Meadow 1
Editorial 1
Caveman to Contemplative
Chariot Symbology
Holy Basil
Scolia on Eros
Meadow 2
Meadow 3
Thomas Taylor
The Trust
Files to download
Seeds and fruits
Contact us
Study weeks in Italy
Latest books
Reading group
Weekend on Myth


A Note on the Chariot of Zeus

I W Cleeve

    But the first of The Twelve Leaders (i.e. TheLiberated Gods)C, izeus-chariot-02s said by Socrates to drive a Winged Chariot (pthnpon arma)C in The Heavens. How therefore, can he who is connected with The Kosmos , and who approximates to The Gods in The Heavens, be considered as the same with him (i.e. The Demiurgos)C who is exempt from all [Kosmic Natures,]T and who abides, as Timaeus says, in his own accustomed manner?

    (Proclos, Theol. Plat. VI, Ch. 19 tr. Taylor)


    ο μεν δη μηγας ηγεμων εν ουρανω Ζευς, ελαυνων πτηνον αρμα, προτος πορευεται, διακοσμων παντα και επιμελουμενος (Phaedr. 246e)

    "Now The Great Leader in Heaven, Zeus, driving a Winged Chariot, goes first, arranging all things and caring for all things." (Fowler, Loeb 36)

arma does not merely mean a chariot, but a complete equipage, including the horses (LSJ9[1996] s.v., as an organised and disciplined unity - in fact, arma is a Pythagorean word for 'Unity' (ibid . s.v. III).

It especially signifies a war-chariot, but is also used for a racing-chariot, and even just for the team of horses yoked to either. (ibid. s.v. I., I.3)

    It should be noted that Liberated Zeus leads an army of Gods and Daimons, an organised group united to a single purpose and way of Life, and so rides in a war-chariot.

    The Contrast between The Divine CHARIOT (arma) of ZEUS
    ochma-pneuma) of Human SOULS

arma is opposite to ochma (LSJ9 [1996], s.v. I), which is the term used for the Irrational Vehicle or Pneuma (Ochma-Pneuma) of the Human Soul in the Timaeus (41E). In the myth of thePhaedrus, it is 'heated' by the Inspiration of Intelligible Beauty, and so is energised to
grow its Wings.

 (See the Scholia on EROS-3.REF, Ann. 6:  "The HEAT of INTELLECTUAL FIRE and The WINGS of The Dry SOUL".) - This scholia is to be found later in this issue.

In exoteric terms ochma signifies a vehicle drawn by mules (ibid.). What a powerful image this creates: on the one hand there is the sleek, light, rapid war-chariot (arma) of Zeus; on the other amule-cart (ochma ) dragged by an ill-matched and inharmonious pair of mules - each of them born of ill-matched parents - as the Vehicle of a Human Soul.

arma is also opposite to armamaxa (ibid.), a covered carriage, generally luxuriously appointed, and used by women and Persian notables, e.g. the Persian ambassadors to Susa. (ibid. s.v. armamaxa ); for, esoterically, the arma is not a vehicle of the Senses, but of the vaulting purpose of Reason and Intellect.

Note: Superscript C indicates interpretation by the author; superscript T indicates expansion by the translator, T Taylor.


For the next article click here Morpho-Cypres-icon  To return to the contents page click here Morpho-Amphitrion-icon