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[415a] But do not, my friend, demand too much precision, lest you ““enfeeble me of my sight.””Hom. Il. 6.265 For now that τέχνη (art) is disposed of, I am nearing the loftiest height of my subject, when once we have investigated μηχανή(contrivance). For I think μηχανή signifies ἄνειν ἐπὶ πολύ (much accomplishment); for μῆκος (length) has about the same meaning as τὸ πολύ (much), and the name μηχανή is composed of these two, μῆκος and ἄνειν. But, as I was just saying, we must go on to the loftiest height of our subject; we must search for the meaning of the words ἀρετή (virtue) and κακία (wickedness). Now one of them I cannot yet see; [415b] but the other seems to be quite clear, since it agrees with everything we have said before. For inasmuch as all things are in motion, everything that moves badly (κακῶς ἰόν) would be evil (κακία); and when this evil motion in relation to its environment exists in the soul, it receives the general name κακία (evil) in the special sense of wickedness. But the nature of evil motion (κακῶς ἰέναι) is made clear, I think, also in the word δειλία (cowardice), which we have not yet discussed. We passed it by, [415c] when we ought to have examined it after ἀνδρεία (courage); and I fancy we passed over a good many other words. Now the meaning of δειλία is “a strong bond of the soul”; for λίαν (excessively) is, in a way, expressive of strength; so δειλία would be the excessive or greatest bond (δεσμός, δεῖν) of the soul; and so, too, ἀπορία (perplexity) is an evil, as is everything, apparently, which hinders motion and progress (πορεύεσθαι). This, then, seems to be the meaning of evil motion (κακῶς ἰέναι), that advance is halting and impeded; and the soul that is infected by it becomes filled with wickedness (κακία). If these are the reasons for the name of wickedness, virtue (ἀρετή) would be the opposite of this; it would signify first ease of motion, [415d] and secondly that the flow of the good soul is always unimpeded, and therefore it has received this name, which designates that which always flows (ἀεὶ ῥέον) without let or hindrance. It is properly called ἀειρειτή, or perhaps also αἱρετή, indicating that this condition is especially to be chosen; but it has been compressed and is pronounced ἀρετή. Perhaps you will say this is another invention of mine; but I say if what I said just now about κακία is right, [415e] this about the name of ἀρετή is right too.


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