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[493a] and we really, it may be, are dead; in fact I once heard sages say that we are now dead, and the body is our tomb,1 and the part of the soul in which we have desires is liable to be over-persuaded and to vacillate to and fro, and so some smart fellow, a Sicilian, I daresay, or Italian,2 made a fable in which—by a play of words3—he named this part, as being so impressionable and persuadable, a jar, and the thoughtless he called uninitiate:4


1 The sage was perhaps Philolaus, a Pythagorean philosopher contemporary with Socrates. The phrase σῶμα σῆμα, suggesting a mystical similarity between “body” and “tomb,” was part of the Orphic doctrine.

2 “Sicilian” may refer to Empedocles; “Italian” to one of the Pythagoreans.

3 The play is with πιθανόν and πίθον:πειστοκόν is added to explain that πιθανόν is not used in its ordinary active sense of “impressive.”

4 The σοφός seems to have falsely derived ἀμυήτους from μύω (=close), with the meaning “unclosed,” in order to connect it with the notion of “cracked” or “leaky.”

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