Memory & Prophecy
“Just as the sun does not become bright when it bursts through the clouds, but is bright always, and yet in a fog appears to us indistinct and dim, even so the soul does not acquire the prophetic power when it goes forth from the body as from a cloud ; it possesses that power even now, but is blinded by being combined and commingled with the mortal nature. We ought not to feel surprised or incredulous at this when we see in the soul, though we see naught else, that faculty which is the complement of prophecy, and which we call memory, and how great an achievement is displayed in preserving and guarding the past, or rather what has been the present, since nothing of all that has come to pass has any existence or substantiality, because the very instant when anything comes to pass, that is the end of it — of actions, words, experiences alike ; for Time like an everflowing stream bears all things onward.
But this faculty of the soul lays hold upon them, I know not how, and invests with semblance and being things not now present here. The oracle given to the Thessalians about Arnê bade them note ‘A deaf man’s hearing, a blind man’s sight.’ But memory is for us the hearing of deeds to which we are deaf and the seeing of things to which we are blind. Hence, as I said, it is no wonder that, if it has command over things that no longer are, it anticipates many of those which have not yet come to pass, since these are more closely related to it, and with these it has much in common ; for its attachments and associations are with the future, and it is quit of all that is past and ended, save only to remember it.”
- Plutarch, The Obsolescence of Oracles