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[516a] he came out into the light, that his eyes would be filled with its beams so that he would not be able to see1 even one of the things that we call real?” “Why, no, not immediately,” he said. “Then there would be need of habituation, I take it, to enable him to see the things higher up. And at first he would most easily discern the shadows and, after that, the likenesses or reflections in water2 of men and other things, and later, the things themselves, and from these he would go on to contemplate the appearances in the heavens and heaven itself, more easily by night, looking at the light [516b] of the stars and the moon, than by day the sun and the sun's light.3” “Of course.” “And so, finally, I suppose, he would be able to look upon the sun itself and see its true nature, not by reflections in water or phantasms of it in an alien setting,4 but in and by itself in its own place.” “Necessarily,” he said. “And at this point he would infer and conclude that this it is that provides the seasons and the courses of the year and presides over all things in the visible region, [516c] and is in some sort the cause5 of all these things that they had seen.” “Obviously,” he said, “that would be the next step.” “Well then, if he recalled to mind his first habitation and what passed for wisdom there, and his fellow-bondsmen, do you not think that he would count himself happy in the change and pity them6?” “He would indeed.” “And if there had been honors and commendations among them which they bestowed on one another and prizes for the man who is quickest to make out the shadows as they pass and best able to remember their customary precedences, [516d] sequences and co-existences,7 and so most successful in guessing at what was to come, do you think he would be very keen about such rewards, and that he would envy and emulate those who were honored by these prisoners and lorded it among them, or that he would feel with Homer8 and “‘greatly prefer while living on earth to be serf of another, a landless man,’”Hom. Od. 11.489 and endure anything rather than opine with them [516e] and live that life?” “Yes,” he said, “I think that he would choose to endure anything rather than such a life.” “And consider this also,” said I, “if such a one should go down again and take his old place would he not get his eyes full9 of darkness, thus suddenly coming out of the sunlight?” “He would indeed.” “Now if he should be required to contend with these perpetual prisoners

1 Cf. Laws 897 D, Phaedo 99 D.

2 Cf. Phaedo 99 D. Stallbaum says this was imitated by Themistius, Orat. iv. p. 51 B.

3 It is probably a mistake to look for a definite symbolism in all the details of this description. There are more stages of progress than the proportion of four things calls for. all that Plato's thought requires is the general contrast between an unreal and a real world, and the goal of the rise from one to the other in the contemplation of the sun, or the idea of good, Cf. 517 B-C.

4 i.e. a foreign medium.

5 Cf. 508 B, and for the idea of good as the cause of all things cf. on 509 B, and Introd. pp. xxxv-xxxvi. P. Corssen, Philol. Wochenschrift, 1913, pp. 287-299, unnecessarily proposes to emend ὧν σφεῖς ἑώρων to ὧν σκιὰς . or ὧν σφεῖς σκιὰς ., “ne sol umbrarum, quas videbant, auctor fuisse dicatur, cum potius earum rerum, quarum umbras videbant, fuerit auctor.”

6 Cf. on 486 a, p. 10, note a.

7 Another of Plato's anticipations of modern thought. This is precisely the Humian, Comtian, positivist, pragmatist view of causation. Cf. Gorg. 501 Aτριβῇ καὶ ἐμπειρίᾳ μνήμην μόνον σωζομένη τοῦ εἰθότος γίγνεσθαι“relying on routine and habitude for merely preserving a memory of what is wont to result.” (Loeb tr.)

8 The quotation is almost as apt as that at the beginning of the Crito.

9 On the metaphor of darkness and light cf. also Soph. 254 A.

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