Aion: concepts of time

“Aion (Aevum, Saeculum) is time in an absolute sense, in opposition to Chronos, that is, time in relation to something, and especially to human life. The epigram attributed to Plato, … well expresses the difference between the two: “Aion brings everything; the long Time knows how to change name and shape and nature and fate as well.” In a passage of the Timaeus (37 D) Plato outlines also the philosophical definition of Aion, which will long have currency – although not obtaining a universal acceptance – as the conception of ideal eternity, in contrast with Chronos, empirical time.” (Levi, 1944: 274)

” … investigations on the time conceptions are taken up again and with new vigor … by the philosophical schools of the Neopythagoreans and the Neoplatonics. The idea of Aion, eternal Time, is now clearly dis- tinguished from the subdivisions of Chronos into past, present, and future, of which indeed the non-existence is pointed out.” (Levi, 1944: 278-279) “On the other hand, Chronos is distinguished from [Kairos], time in a generic sense, from time in relation to human activity, from “opportune time”. (Levi, 1944: 279)


Levi, D. (1944). Aion. The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. 13 (4), 269–314. Available from: Accessed on 27 October 2014