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[382a] said I; “would a god wish to deceive, or lie, by presenting in either word or action what is only appearance?” “I don't know,” said he. “Don't you know,” said I, “that the veritable lie, if the expression is permissible, is a thing that all gods and men abhor?” “What do you mean?” he said. “This,” said I, “that falsehood in the most vital part of themselves, and about their most vital concerns, is something that no one willingly accepts, but it is there above all that everyone fears it.” “I don't understand yet either.” “That is because you suspect me of some grand meaning,” [382b] I said; “but what I mean is, that deception in the soul about realities, to have been deceived and to be blindly ignorant and to have and hold the falsehood there, is what all men would least of all accept, and it is in that case that they loathe it most of all.” “Quite so,” he said. “But surely it would be most wholly right, as I was just now saying, to describe this as in very truth falsehood—ignorance namely in the soul of the man deceived. For the falsehood in words is a copy1 of the affection in the soul, [382c] an after-rising image of it and not an altogether unmixed falsehood. Is not that so?” “By all means.”

“Essential falsehood, then, is hated not only by gods but by men.” “I agree.” “But what of the falsehood in words, when and for whom is it serviceable so as not to merit abhorrence? Will it not be against enemies? And when any of those whom we call friends owing to madness or folly attempts to do some wrong, does it not then become useful [382d] to avert the evil—as a medicine? And also in the fables of which we were just now speaking owing to our ignorance of the truth about antiquity, we liken the false to the true as far as we may and so make it edifying.2” “We most certainly do,” he said. “Tell me, then, on which of these grounds falsehood would be serviceable to God. Would he because of his ignorance of antiquity make false likenesses of it?” “An absurd supposition, that,” he said. “Then there is no lying poet in God.” “I think not.” [382e] “Well then, would it be through fear of his enemies that he would lie?” “Far from it.” “Would it be because of the folly or madness of his friends?” “Nay, no fool or madman is a friend of God.” “Then there is no motive for God to deceive.” “None.” “From every point of view3 the divine and the divinity are free from falsehood.” “By all means.” “Then God is altogether simple and true in deed and word, and neither changes himself nor deceives others by visions or words or the sending of signs

1 Cf. Aristotle De Interp. 1. 12ἔστι μὲν οὖν τὰ ἐν τῇ φωνῇ τῶν ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ παθημάτων σύμβολα. Cf. also Cratylus 428 D, 535 E, Laws730 C, Bacon, Of Truth: “But it is not the lie that passes through the mind but the lie that sinketh in and settleth in it that doth the hurt.”

2 Cf. Phaedrus 245 Aμυρία τῶν παλαιῶν ἔργα κοσμοῦσα τοὺς ἐπιγιγνομένους παιδεύει, Isocrates xii. 149 and Livy's Preface. For χρήσιμον Cf. Politicus 274 E. We must not infer that Plato is trying to sophisticate away the moral virtue of truth-telling.

3 Generalizing from the exhaustive classification that precedes.

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