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that Zeno and Parmenides once came to the Great Panathenaea; that Parmenides was already quite elderly, about sixty-five years old, very white-haired, and of handsome and noble countenance; Zeno was at that time about forty years of age; he was tall and good-looking, and there was a story that Parmenides had been in love with him.
He said that they lodged with Pythodorus outside of the wall, in Cerameicus, and that Socrates and many others with him went there because they wanted to hear Zeno's writings, which had been brought to Athens for the first time by them. Socrates was then very young. So Zeno himself read aloud to them, and Parmenides was not in the house.
“Zeno, what do you mean by this? That if existences are many, they must be both like and unlike, which is impossible; for the unlike cannot be like, nor the like unlike? Is not that your meaning?”“Yes,” said Zeno.“Then if it is impossible for the unlike to be like and the like unlike, it is impossible for existences to be many; for if they were to be many, they would experience the impossible. Is that the purpose of your treatises, to maintain against all arguments that existences are not manyZeno.“Then if it is impossible for the unlike to be like and the like unlike, it is impossible for existences to be many; for if they were to be many, they would experience the impossible. Is that the purpose of your treatises, to maintain against all arguments that existences are not many? And you think each of your treatises is a proof of this very thing, and therefore you believe that the proofs you offer that existences are not many are as many as the treatises you have written? Is that yo
or have I misunderstood?”“No,” said Zeno, “you have grasped perfectly the general intent of the work.”“I see, Parmenides,” said Socrates, “that Zeno here wishes to be very close to you not only in his friendship, but also in his writing. For he has written much the same thing as you, but by reversing the process he tries to cheat us into the belief that he is saying something new. For you, in your poems, say that the all is one, or have I misunderstood?”“No,” said Zeno, “you have grasped perfectly the general intent of the work.”“I see, Parmenides,” said Socrates, “that Zeno here wishes to be very close to you not only in his friendship, but also in his writing. For he has written much the same thing as you, but by reversing the process he tries to cheat us into the belief that he is saying something new. For you, in your
and you furnish proofs of this in fine and excellent fashion; and he, on the other hand, says it is not many, and he also furnishes very numerous and weighty proofs. That one of you says it is one, and the other that it is not many, and that each of you expresses himself so that although you say much the same you seem not to have said the same things at all, appears to the rest of us a feat of expression quite beyond our power.”“Yes, Socrates,” said Zeno, “but you have not perceived all aspects of the truth about my writings. You follow the arguments with
what is there wonderful about that? For if anyone showed that the absolute like becomes unlike, or the unlike like, that would, in my opinion, be a wonder; but if he shows that things which partake of both become both like and unlike, that seems to me, Zeno, not at all strange, not even if he shows that all things are one by participation in unity and that the same are also many by participation in multitude; but if he shows that absolute unity is also many and the absolute many again are one, then I shall be amazed.
multitude and unity, rest and motion, and the like, and then shows that they can be mingled and separated, I should,” said he, “be filled with amazement, Zeno. Now I think this has been very manfully discussed by you; but I should, as I say, be more amazed if anyone could show in the abstract ideas, which are intellectual conceptio
this same multifarious and perplexing entanglement which you described in visible objects.”Pythodorus said that he thought at every word, while Socrates was saying this, Parmenides and Zeno would be angry, but they paid close attention to him and frequently looked at each other and smiled, as if in admiration of Socrates, and when he stopped speaking Parmenides expressed their approval. “Socrate
he said, “what an admirable talent for argument you have! Tell me, did you invent this distinction yourself, which separates abstract ideas from the things which partake of them? And do you think there is such a thing as abstract likeness apart from the likeness which we possess, and abstract one and many, and the other abstractions of which you heard Zeno speaking just now?”“Yes, I do,” said Socrates.“And also,” said Parmenides, “abstract ideas of the just, the beautiful, the good, and all such conceptions?”“
You see I noticed it when I heard you talking yesterday with Aristoteles here. Your impulse towards dialectic is noble and divine, you may be assured of that; but exercise and train yourself while you are still young in an art which seems to be useless and is called by most people mere loquacity; otherwise the truth will escape you.”“What, then, Parmenides,” he said, “is the method of training?”“That which you heard Zeno practising