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1 The concept μηχανή or ingenious device employed by a superior intelligence to circumvent necessity or play providence with the vulgar holds a prominent place in Plato's physics, and is for Rousseau-minded readers one of the dangerous features of his political and educational philosophy. Cf. 415 C, Laws 664 A, 752 C, 769 E, 798 B, 640 B.
2 Cf. 389 B.
3 389 B f.
4 As was the Cadmus legend of the men who sprang from the dragon's teeth, which the Greks believed οὕτως ἀπίθανον ὄν, Laws 663 E. Pater, who translates the passage (Plato and Platonism, p. 223), fancifully suggests that it is a “miners' story.” Others read into it an allusion to Egyptian castes. The proverb ψεῦσμα Φοινικικόν(Strabo 259 B) probably goes back to the Phoenician tales of the Odyssey.
5 Plato never attempts a Voltairian polemic against the general faith in the supernatural, which he is willing to utilize for ethical ends, but he never himself affirms “le surnaturel particulier.”
7 Perhaps “that so it is that” would be better.ὡς ἄρα as often disclaims responsibility for the tale. Plato's fancy of men reared beneath the earth is the basis of Bulwer-Lytton's Utopia, The Coming Race, as his use of the ring of Gyges (359 D-360 B) is of H. G. Wells'Invisible Man.
8 The symbolism expresses the Athenian boast of autochthony and Plato's patriotic application of it, Menexenus 237 E-238 A. Cf. Burgess, “Epideictic Literature,”University of Chicago Studies in Classical Philology, vol. iii. pp. 153-154;Timaeus 24 C-D, Aeschylus Septem 17, Lucretius ii. 641 f., and Swineburne, “Erechtheus”: “All races but one are as aliens engrafted or sown,/ Strange children and changelings, but we, O our mother, thine own.”
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