Vision of Timarchus
Type of Spiritual Experience
Plutarch was a Greek historian, biographer, and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. Plutarch was a follower of Plato and also a member of the Greek and then Roman Mysteries, as it appears was Timarchus.
Plutarch's Timarchus, who voluntarily entered the oracular Crypt of Trophonius in order to find out about the mysterious Sign of Socrates, lost consciousness of his body and, as he seemed to exit through the top of his skull 'faintly caught the whirr of something revolving overhead with a pleasant sound'. When he saw the glorious spectacle of the revolving spheres, he fancied that their circular movement made a musical whirring in the 'aether' for 'the gentleness of the sound resulting from the harmony of all the separate sounds corresponded to the evenness of their motion'
A description of the experience
Plutarch of Chaeronela – The Vision of Timarchus from Moralia [translated by Philip H de Lacy and Benedict Einarson]
When he lifted his eyes the earth was nowhere to be seen, but he saw islands illuminated by one another with soft fire, taking on now one colour, now another, like a dye, as the light kept varying with their mutations.
They appeared countless in number and huge in size, and though not all equal, yet all alike round; and he fancied that their circular movement made a musical whirring in the aether, for the gentleness of the sound resulting from the harmony of all the separate sounds corresponded to the evenness of their motion. In their midst lay spread a sea or lake through whose blue transparency the colours passed in their migrations; and of the islands a few sailed out in a channel and crossed the current, while many others were carried along with it, the sea itself drifting around, as it were, smoothly and evenly in a circle. In places it was very deep, mainly towards the south, but elsewhere, there were faint shoals and shallows; and in many parts it overflowed and again receded, never extending very far. Some of it was of the pure hue of the high seas, while elsewhere the colour was not unmixed, but turbid and like that of a pool.
As they crested the surge the islands came back, without, however, returning to their point of departure or completing a circle, but with each new circuit, they advanced slightly beyond the old, describing a single spiral in their revolution. The sea containing these was inclined at an angle of somewhat less than eight parts of the whole toward the midmost and largest portion of the surrounding envelope, as he made out; and it had two openings receiving rivers of fire emptying into it across from one another so that it was forced far back, boiling, and its blue colour was turned to white. All this he viewed with enjoyment of the spectacle