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[517a] in 'evaluating' these shadows while his vision was still dim and before his eyes were accustomed to the dark—and this time required for habituation would not be very short—would he not provoke laughter,1 and would it not be said of him that he had returned from his journey aloft with his eyes ruined and that it was not worth while even to attempt the ascent? And if it were possible to lay hands on and to kill the man who tried to release them and lead them up, would they not kill him2?” “They certainly would,” he said.

“This image then, dear Glaucon, we must apply as a whole to all that has been said, [517b] likening the region revealed through sight to the habitation of the prison, and the light of the fire in it to the power of the sun. And if you assume that the ascent and the contemplation of the things above is the soul's ascension to the intelligible region,3 you will not miss my surmise, since that is what you desire to hear. But God knows4 whether it is true. But, at any rate, my dream as it appears to me is that in the region of the known the last thing to be seen and hardly seen is the idea of good, [517c] and that when seen it must needs point us to the conclusion that this is indeed the cause for all things of all that is right and beautiful, giving birth5 in the visible world to light, and the author of light and itself in the intelligible world being the authentic source of truth and reason, and that anyone who is to act wisely6 in private or public must have caught sight of this.” “I concur,” he said, “so far as I am able.” “Come then,” I said, “and join me in this further thought, and do not be surprised that those who have attained to this height are not willing7 to occupy themselves with the affairs of men, but their souls ever feel the upward urge and [517d] the yearning for that sojourn above. For this, I take it, is likely if in this point too the likeness of our image holds” “Yes, it is likely.” “And again, do you think it at all strange,” said I, “if a man returning from divine contemplations to the petty miseries8 of men cuts a sorry figure9 and appears most ridiculous, if, while still blinking through the gloom, and before he has become sufficiently accustomed to the environing darkness, he is compelled in courtrooms10 or elsewhere to contend about the shadows of justice or the images11 that cast the shadows and to wrangle in debate [517e] about the notions of these things in the minds of those who have never seen justice itself?” “It would be by no men strange,” he said. “But a sensible man,”

1 Like the philosopher in the court-room. Cf. Theaet. 172 C, 173 C ff., Gorg.. 484 D-e. Cf. also on 387 C-D. 515 D, 517 D, Soph. 216 D, Laches 196 B, Phaedr. 249 D.

2 An obvious allusion to the fate of Socrates. For other stinging allusions to this Cf. Gorg. 486 B, 521 C, Meno 100 B-C. Cf. Hamlet's “Wormwood, wormwood” (III. ii. 191). The text is disputed. See crit. note. A. Drachmann, “Zu Platons Staat,”Hermes, 1926, p. 110, thinks that an οἴει or something like it must be understood as having preceded, at least in Plato's thought, and that ἀποκτείνειν can be taken as a gloss or variant of ἀποκτεινύναι and the correct reading must be λαβεῖν, καὶ ἀποκτεινύναι ἄν. See also Adam ad loc.

3 Cf. 508 B-C, where Arnou (Le Désir de dieu dans la philos. de Plotin, p. 48 and Robin (La Théorie plat. de l'amour, pp. 83-84) make τόπος νοητός refer to le ciel astronomique as opposed to the ὑπερουράνιος τόπος of the Phaedrus 247 A-E, 248 B, 248 D-249 A. The phrase νοητὸς κόσμος, often attributed to Plato, does not occur in his writings.

4 Plato was much less prodigal of affirmation about metaphysical ultimates than interpreters who take his myths literally have supposed. Cf. What Plato Said, p. 515, on Meno 86 B.

5 Cf. 506 E.

6 This is the main point for the Republic. The significance of the idea of good for cosmogony is just glanced at and reserved for the Timaeus. Cf. on 508 B, p. 102, note a and p. 505-506. For the practical application Cf. Meno 81 D-E. See also Introd. pp. xxxv-xxxvi.

7 Cf. 521 A, 345 E, and Vol. I. on 347 D, p. 81, note d.

8 Cf. 346 E.

9 Cf. Theaet. 174 Cἀσχημοσύνη.

10 For the contrast between the philosophical and the pettifogging soul Cf. Theaet. 173 C-175 E. Cf. also on 517 A, p 128, note b.

11 For ἀγαλμάτων cf. my Idea of Good in Plato's Republic, p. 237, Soph. 234 C, Polit. 303 C.

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