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[620a] He said it was a strange, pitiful, and ridiculous spectacle, as the choice was determined for the most part by the habits of their former lives.1 He saw the soul that had been Orpheus’, he said, selecting the life of a swan,2 because from hatred of the tribe of women, owing to his death at their hands, it was unwilling to be conceived and born of a woman. He saw the soul of Thamyras3 choosing the life of a nightingale; and he saw a swan changing to the choice of the life of man, and similarly other musical animals. [620b] The soul that drew the twentieth lot chose the life of a lion; it was the soul of Ajax, the son of Telamon, which, because it remembered the adjudication of the arms of Achilles, was unwilling to become a man. The next, the soul of Agamemnon, likewise from hatred of the human race because of its sufferings, substituted the life of an eagle.4 Drawing one of the middle lots the soul of Atalanta caught sight of the great honors attached to an athlete's life and could not pass them by but snatched at them. [620c] After her, he said, he saw the soul of Epeius,5 the son of Panopeus, entering into the nature of an arts and crafts woman. Far off in the rear he saw the soul of the buffoon Thersites6 clothing itself in the body of an ape. And it fell out that the soul of Odysseus drew the last lot of all and came to make its choice, and, from memory of its former toils having flung away ambition, went about for a long time in quest of the life of an ordinary citizen who minded his own business,7 and with difficulty found it lying in some corner disregarded by the others, [620d] and upon seeing it said that it would have done the same had it drawn the first lot, and chose it gladly. And in like manner, of the other beasts some entered into men8 and into one another, the unjust into wild creatures, the just transformed to tame, and there was every kind of mixture and combination. But when, to conclude, all the souls had chosen their lives in the order of their lots, they were marshalled and went before Lachesis. And she sent with each, [620e] as the guardian of his life and the fulfiller of his choice, the genius9 that he had chosen, and this divinity led the soul first to Clotho, under her hand and her turning10 of the spindle to ratify the destiny of his lot and choice; and after contact with her the genius again led the soul to the spinning of Atropos11 to make the web of its destiny12 irreversible, and then without a backward look it passed beneath the throne of Necessity.

1 Cf. Phaedo 81 E ff., Phaedr. 248-249, Tim. 42 A-D, 91 D ff. For the idea of reincarnation in Plato see What Plato Said, p. 529, on Phaedo 81 E-82 B.

2 Urwiek, The Message of Plato, p. 213, says: “If Plato knew anything at all of Indian allegory, he must have known that the swan (Hamsa) is in Hinduism the invariable symbol of the immortal Spirit; and to say, as he does, that Orpheus chose the life of a swan, refusing to be born again of a woman, is just an allegorical way of saying that he passed on into the spiritual life. . . . ”

3 Like Orpheus a singer. He contended with the Muses in song and was in consequence deprived by them of sight and of the gift of song. Cf. also Ion 533 B-C, Laws 829 D-E, Iliad ii. 595.

4 Cf. Aesch.Ag. 114 ff.

5 Who built the Trojan horse. See Hesychius s.v.

6 Cf. Iliad ii. 212 ff.

7 For ἀπράγμονος cf. on 565 A, p. 316, note b.

8 Phaedr. 249 specifies that only beasts who had once been men could return to human form.

9 Cf. 617 E, and for daemons in Plato What Plato Said, pp. 546-547, on Symp. 202 E, Dieterich, Nekyia, p. 59.

10 δίνης: Cf. Cratyl. 439 C and Phaedo 99 B.

11 Cf. Laws 960 C.

12 τὰ ἐπικλωσθέντα: Cf. Laws 957 E, Theaet. 169 C, and the Platonic epigram on Dion, Anth. Pal. vii. 99Μοῖραι ἐπέκλωσαν, Od. i. 17, iii. 208, etc., Aesch.Eumen. 335, Callinus i. 9Μοῖραι ἐπικλώσωσ᾽.

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