[621a] And after it had passed through that, when the others also had passed, they all journeyed to the Plain of Oblivion,1 through a terrible and stifling heat, for it was bare of trees and all plants, and there they camped at eventide by the River of Forgetfulness,2 whose waters no vessel can contain. They were all required to drink a measure of the water, and those who were not saved by their good sense drank more than the measure, and each one as he drank forgot all things. [621b] And after they had fallen asleep and it was the middle of the night, there was a sound of thunder and a quaking of the earth, and they were suddenly wafted thence, one this way, one that, upward to their birth like shooting stars.3 Er himself, he said, was not allowed to drink of the water, yet how and in what way he returned to the body he said he did not know, but suddenly recovering his sight4 he saw himself at dawn lying on the funeral pyre.—And so, Glaucon, the tale was saved,5 as the saying is, and was not lost. [621c] And it will save us6 if we believe it, and we shall safely cross the River of Lethe, and keep our soul unspotted from the world.7 But if we are guided by me we shall believe that the soul is immortal and capable of enduring all extremes of good and evil, and so we shall hold ever to the upward way and pursue righteousness with wisdom always and ever, that we may be dear to ourselves8 and to the gods both during our sojourn here and when we receive our reward, [621d] as the victors in the games9 go about to gather in theirs. And thus both here and in that journey of a thousand years, whereof I have told you, we shall fare well.10

1 Cf. Aristoph.Frogs 186.

2 In later literature it is the river that is called Lethe. Cf. Aeneid vi. 714 f.

3 In Tim. 41 D-E each soul is given a star as its vehicle. Cf. Aristoph.Peace 833 f.ὡς ἀστέρες γιγνόμεθ᾽ ὁταν τις ἀποθάνῃ . . . with the Platonic epigram to Ἄστηρ: . . νῦν δὲ θανὼν λάμπεις Ἕσπερος ἐν φθιμένοιςThere is an old superstition in European folklore to the effect that when a star falls a soul goes up to God. Cf. also Rohde, Psyche, ii.6 p. 131.

4 Cf. Phaedrus 243 Bἀνέβλεψεν.

5 Cf. Phileb. 14 A, Laws 645 B, Theaet. 164 D.

6 Phaedo 58 Bἔσωσε τε καὶ αὐτὸς ἐσώθη. σώζειν is here used in its higher sense, approaching the idea of salvation, not as in Gorg. 511 C f., 512 D-E, Laws 707 D, where Plato uses it contemptuously in the tone of “whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it.”

7 Cf. James i. 27, Phaedo 81 B, 2Peter iii. 14, and the Emperor Julian's last speech “animum . . . immaculatum conservavi.” Cf. Marius the Epicurean, pp. 15-16: “A white bird, she told him once, looking at him gravely, a bird which he must carry in his bosom across a crowded public place his own soul was like that.”

8 Cf. Laws 693 Bἑαυτῇ φίλην, Rep. 589 B, Horace, Epist. i. 3. 29 “si nobis vivere cari.” Jowett's “dear to one another” misses the point. Cf. my review of Lemercier, Les Pensées de Marc-Aurèle, in Class. Phil. vii. p. 115: “In iii. 4, in fine, the words οἵγε οὐδὲ αὐτοὶ ἑαυτοῖς ἀρέσκονται are omitted because ‘le gens que méprise Marc-Aurèle sont loin de mépriser eux-mêmes.’ That is to forget that Seneca's ‘omnis stultitia fastidio laborat sui’ is good Stoic doctrine, and that the idea that only the wise and good man can be dear to himself is found in the last sentence of Plato's Republic.” Cf. also Soph. OC 309 τίς γὰρ ἐσθλὸς οὐχ αὑτῷ φίλος;.

9 Cf. Vol. I. p. 480, note c, on 465 D.

10 For the thought Cf. Gorg. 527 Cεὐδαιμονήσεις καὶ ζῶν καὶ τελευτήσας. Cf. Vol. I. p. 104, note b, on 353 E. The quiet solemnity of εὖ πράττωμεν illustrates the same characteristic of style that makes Plato begin his Laws with the word θεός, and Dante close each of the three sections of the Divine Comedy with “stelle.”

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