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[424a]

Hermogenes
Certainly.

Socrates
And what will you call him who can do this, as you called the others musician and painter? What will you call this man?

Hermogenes
I think, Socrates, he is what we have been looking for all along, the name-maker.

Socrates
If that is the case, is it our next duty to consider whether in these names about which you were asking—flow, motion, and restraint—the namemaker grasps with his letters and syllables the reality [424b] of the things named and imitates their essential nature, or not?

Hermogenes
Certainly.

Socrates
Well now, let us see whether those are the only primary names, or there are others.

Hermogenes
I think there are others.

Socrates
Yes, most likely there are. Now what is the method of division with which the imitator begins his imitation? Since the imitation of the essential nature is made with letters and syllables, would not the most correct way be for us to separate the letters first, [424c] just as those who undertake the practice of rhythms separate first the qualities of the letters, then those of the syllables, and then, but not till then, come to the study of rhythms?

Hermogenes
Yes.

Socrates
Must not we, too, separate first the vowels, then in their several classes the consonants or mutes, as they are called by those who specialize in phonetics, and also the letters which are neither vowels nor mutes, as well as the various classes that exist among the vowels themselves? [424d] And when we have made all these divisions properly, we must in turn give names to the things which ought to have them, if there are any names to which they can all, like the letters, be referred, from which it is possible to see what their nature is and whether there are any classes among them, as there are among letters. When we have properly examined all these points, we must know how to apply each letter with reference to its fitness, whether one letter is to be applied to one thing or many are to be combined; just as painters, when they wish to produce an imitation, sometimes use only red, [424e] sometimes some other color, and sometimes mix many colors, as when they are making a picture of a man or something of that sort, employing each color, I suppose, as they think the particular picture demands it. In just this way we, too, shall apply letters to things, using one letter for one thing, when that seems to be required, or many letters together, forming syllables, as they are called, and in turn combining syllables,


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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 1369
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