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ἐκ τῆς εἰωθυίας μεθόδου κτλ. As in V 476 A (see note ad loc.), so here, Plato does not try to prove the Ideal Theory, but treats Glauco as already a loyal Platonist. The account which Plato here gives of his Ideas has been widely canvassed from many different points of view. Bosanquet (Companion pp. 381 ff.) appears to me to err by interpreting it throughout only in terms of modern life and thought. Others refuse to regard it as serious, in view of the inherent difficulties, and because of Aristotle's remark διὸ δὴ οὐ κακῶς Πλάτων ἔφη ὅτι εἴδη ἔστιν ὁπόσα φύσει Met. Λ 4. 1070^{a} 18: cf. also A 991^{b} 3 ff. with Bonitz's note. Others, again, like Krohn (Pl. St. pp. 242 ff.), hold that the Ideal Theory in Bk X is inconsistent with the theory expounded in V—VII, where we do not hear of Ideas corresponding to concrete and artificial objects, but only of Ideas of qualities (such as Justice) and the like. In reply to the last school of critics, we may point out that Plato is not bound to give an exhaustive account of the Ideal theory whenever he has occasion to make use of it. On the previous occasion he confined himself to Ideas of the virtues etc., because they only were relevant to his immediate purpose (see on V 476 A and cf. Grimmelt de reip. Pl. comp. et unit. pp. 81 ff., Hirmer l.c. pp. 646 ff. and Dümmler zur Comp. d. Pl. St. p. 14), and it is exactly the same reason which makes him cite Ideas of concrete and artificial objects in Book X. The view that Plato should not be taken seriously is as old as Proclus, who (in Tim. 104 F) observes οὐ γὰρ κατά: τινας ἰδέας τεχνίτης ποιεῖ ποιεῖ, εἰ καὶ δοκεῖ τοῦτο λέγειν ἐν Πολιτείᾳ Σωκράτης, ἀλλ᾽ ἐκεῖ μὲν τὰ εἰρημένα παραδείγματος εἴρηται χάριν καὶ οὐ περὶ αὐτῶν τῶν ἰδεῶν, but, apart from other considerations, the recurrence of the same form of the theory in other dialogues (see on 596 B, C) justifies us in taking Plato here also at his word. The history of the controversy is ably reviewed by Dr Beckmann (Num Plato artefactorum ideas statuerit, Bonn 1889), with whom and with Zeller^{4} II pp. 666, 701 al. I agree in believing this passage to be an authoritative exposition of the Ideal theory on one of its many sides.

εἶδος γάρ που κτλ.: ‘for we are, as you know, in the habit of assuming a certain idea—always one idea—in connexion with each group of particulars to which we apply the same name’: lit. ‘an Idea, one each’ i.e. each being one. There cannot be two or more Ideas of Bed for example: cf. 597 C. Unnecessary trouble has been raised about the translation of this sentence by Krohn (Pl. St. p. 240), whose version “in Bezug auf jedes der vielen Dinge nehmen wir je. eine Einheit als εἶδός τι an” is both strained and inaccurate. For the statement itself cf. V 476 A, 479 A, B, E, 480 A, VI 493 E and VII 507 B note Plato might have written any of the foregoing passages without believing in Ideas of anything beyond qualities and attributes: but that he did believe in other Ideas also is evident not only from Book X, but also from Phil. 15 A, 16 C, D and many other places quoted by Zeller^{4} II p. 701 note 1.

πολλαί πού εἰσι κλῖναι κτλ. Why does Plato select examples of artificial objects, when the Painter can equally well paint the features of Nature, as is virtually allowed in C? One reason is that otherwise he could not have constructed the descending scale θεός, κλινοποιός, ζῳγράφος 597 B ff. Had he selected e.g. mountains, it would be difficult to specify the middle term. Moreover in Soph. 266 B ff. we have a distinction drawn between θεία and ἀνθρωπίνη εἰδωλοποιική, the first producing likenesses of natural objects by natural agencies, the second likenesses of artificial objects by artificial means, and Painting is there also classed under the second head: τί δὲ τὴν ἡμετέραν τέχνην; ἆῤ οὐκ αὐτὴν μὲν οἰκίαν οἰκοδομικῇ φήσομεν ποιεῖν, γραφικῇ δέ τιν̓ ἑτέραν, οἷον ὄναρ ἀνθρώπινον ἐγρηγορόσιν ἀπειργασμένην; (266 C). Inasmuch as σκευαστά are elsewhere credited with less reality than φυτευτά (see on VII 532 B, C notes), the choice of these examples is also specially appropriate to Plato's main object, that is to say, the depreciation of imitative art.

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  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Plato, Sophist, 266b
    • Plato, Philebus, 15a
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