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[78a] “Where then, Socrates,” said he, “shall we find a good singer of such charms, since you are leaving us?''

Hellas, Cebes,” he replied, “is a large country, in which there are many good men, and there are many foreign peoples also. You ought to search through all of them in quest of such a charmer, sparing neither money nor toil, for there is no greater need for which you could spend your money. And you must seek among yourselves, too, for perhaps you would hardly find others better able to do this than you.”

“That,” said Cebes, “shall be done. But let us return to the point where we left off, [78b] if you are willing.”

“Oh, I am willing, of course.”

“Good,” said he.

“Well then,” said Socrates, “must we not ask ourselves some such question as this? What kind of thing naturally suffers dispersion, and for what kind of thing might we naturally fear it, and again what kind of thing is not liable to it? And after this must we not inquire to which class the soul belongs and base our hopes or fears for our souls upon the answers to these questions?”

“You are quite right,” he replied.

“Now is not that which is compounded [78c] and composite naturally liable to be decomposed, in the same way in which it was compounded? And if anything is uncompounded is not that, if anything, naturally unlikely to be decomposed?”

“I think,” said Cebes, “that is true.”

“Then it is most probable that things which are always the same and unchanging are the uncompounded things and the things that are changing and never the same are the composite things?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Let us then,” said he, “turn to what we were discussing before. [78d] Is the absolute essence, which we in our dialectic process of question and answer call true being, always the same or is it liable to change? Absolute equality, absolute beauty, any absolute existence, true being—do they ever admit of any change whatsoever? Or does each absolute essence, since it is uniform and exists by itself, remain the same and never in any way admit of any change?”

“It must,” said Cebes, “necessarily remain the same, [78e] Socrates.”

“But how about the many things, for example, men, or horses, or cloaks, or any other such things, which bear the same names as the absolute essences and are called beautiful or equal or the like? Are they always the same? Or are they, in direct opposition to the essences, constantly changing in themselves, unlike each other, and, so to speak, never the same?”

“The latter,” said Cebes; “they are never the same.”


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