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[506d] to contemplate, things blind and crooked, when you might hear from others what is luminous1 and fair?” “Nay, in heaven's name, Socrates,” said Glaucon, “do not draw back, as it were, at the very goal.2 For it will content us if you explain the good even as you set forth the nature of justice, sobriety, and the other virtues.” “It will right well3 content me, my dear fellow,” I said, “but I fear that my powers may fail and that in my eagerness I may cut a sorry figure and become a laughing-stock.4 Nay, my beloved,

1 Probably an allusion to the revelation of the mysteries. Cf. Phaedr. 250 C, Phileb. 16 C, rep. 518 C, 478 C, 479 D, 518 A. It is fantastic to see in it a reference to what Cicero calls the lumina orationis of Isocratean style. The rhetoric and synonyms of this passage are not to be pressed.

2 Cf. Phileb. 64 Cἐπὶ μὲν τοῖς τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἤδη προθύροις, “we are now in the vestibule of the good.”

3 καὶ μάλα, “jolly well,” humorous emphasis on the point that it is much easier to “define” the conventional virtues than to explain the “sanction.” Cf. Symp. 189 A, Euthydem. 298 D-E, Herod. viii. 66. It is frequent in the Republic. Ritter gives forty-seven cases. I have fifty-four! But the point that matters is the humorous tone. Cf. e.g. 610 E.

4 Excess of Zeal,προθυμία, seemed laughable to the Greeks. Cf. my interpretation of Iliad i. in fine, Class. Phil. xxii. (1927) pp. 222-223.

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