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[50a] coming severally into existence, and “wherefrom” in turn they perish, in describing that and that alone should we employ the terms “this” and “that”; whereas, in describing what is “suchlike”—hot, for instance, or white, or any of the opposite qualities, or any compounds thereof—we ought never to apply to it any of these terms.

But we must bestir ourselves to explain this matter again yet more clearly. Now imagine that a man were to model all possible figures out of gold, and were then to proceed without cessation to remodel each of these into every other, then, if someone were to point to one of the figures and ask what it is, [50b] by far the safest reply, in point of truth, would be that it is gold; but as for the triangle and all the other figures which were formed in it, one should never describe them as “being” seeing that they change even while one is mentioning them; rather one should be content if the figure admits of even the title “suchlike” being applied to it with any safety. And of the substance which receives all bodies [50c] the same account must be given. It must be called always by the same name; for from its own proper quality it never departs at all for while it is always receiving all things, nowhere and in no wise does it assume any shape similar to any of the things that enter into it. For it is laid down by nature as a molding-stuff for everything, being moved and marked by the entering figures, and because of them it appears different at different times. And the figures that enter and depart are copies of those that are always existent, being stamped from them in a fashion marvellous and hard to describe, which we shall investigate hereafter.1

For the present, then, we must conceive of three kinds,—the Becoming, that “Wherein” it becomes, and the source” Wherefrom” the Becoming [50d] is copied and produced. Moreover, it is proper to liken the Recipient to the Mother, the Source to the Father, and what is engendered between these two to the Offspring; and also to perceive that, if the stamped copy is to assume diverse appearances of all sorts, that substance wherein it is set and stamped could not possibly be suited to its purpose unless it were itself devoid of all those forms which it is about to receive from any quarter. [50e] For were it similar to any of the entering forms, on receiving forms of an opposite or wholly different kind, as they arrived, it would copy them badly, through obtruding its own visible shape. Wherefore it is right that the substance which is to receive within itself all the kinds should be void of all forms; just as with all fragrant ointments, men bring about this condition by artistic contrivance and make the liquids which are to receive the odors as odorless as possible; and all who essay to mold figures in any soft material utterly refuse to allow any previous figure to remain visible therein, and begin by making it even and as smooth as possible before they execute the work.


1 Cf. 53 C.

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