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Mightily would I requite thee if only my hands had the power.
”Hom. Il. 22.152 [391b] And how he was disobedient to the river,3 who was a god and was ready to fight with him, and again that he said of the locks of his hair, consecrated to her river Spercheius: “‘This let me give to take with him my hair to the hero, Patroclus,’”Hom. Il. 23.1514 who was a dead body, and that he did so we must believe. And again the trailings5 of Hector's body round the grave of Patroclus and the slaughter6 of the living captives upon his pyre, all these we will affirm to be lies, [391c] nor will we suffer our youth to believe that Achilles, the son of a goddess and of Peleus the most chaste7 of men, grandson8 of Zeus, and himself bred under the care of the most sage Cheiron, was of so perturbed a spirit as to be affected with two contradictory maladies, the greed that becomes no free man and at the same time overweening arrogance towards gods and men.” “You are right,” he said.“Neither, then,” said I, “must we believe this or suffer it to be said, that Theseus, the son of Poseidon, [391d] and Peirithous, the son of Zeus, attempted such dreadful rapes,9 nor that any other child of a god and hero would have brought himself to accomplish the terrible and impious deeds that they now falsely relate of him. But we must constrain the poets either to deny that these are their deeds or that they are the children of gods, but not to make both statements or attempt to persuade our youth that the gods are the begetters of evil, and that heroes are no better than men. [391e] For, as we were saying, such utterances are both impious and false. For we proved, I take it, that for evil to arise from gods is an impossibility.” “Certainly.” “And they are furthermore harmful to those that hear them. For every man will be very lenient with his own misdeeds if he is convinced that such are and were the actions of“ The near-sown seed of gods,
Close kin to Zeus, for whom on Ida's top
Ancestral altars flame to highest heaven,
Nor in their life-blood fails10 the fire divine.
”Aesch. Niobe Fr.For which cause we must put down such fables, lest they breed
1 Cf. 368 B.
9 Theseus was assisted by Perithous in the rape of Helen and joined Perithous in the attempt to abduct Persephone. Theseus was the theme of epics and of lost plays by Sophocles and Euripides.
10 Plato was probably thinking of this passage when he wrote the last paragraph of the Critias.
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