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ἐγγείων -- ζῴων. These are possessive genitives. Richards says that “τῶν should probably be omitted before ζῴων or added before ἐγγείων.” Cf. however IV 438 C note In this instance I think Plato wrote τῶν ζῴων in order to call special attention to ζῷα as opposed to ἔγγεια. They are not on the same level of importance, as far as the argument is concerned, for it is the degeneration of ζῷα, not of ἔγγεια, which Plato has to explain.

πλειόνων is much more elegant than Madvig's conjecture πλεῖον. Plato's position on this matter, in the way in which he states it, is open to objection. It might be argued that the naturally strong nature is the best fitted to resist the corrupting influences of its environment. But the philosophic nature is remarkable for sensibility as well as strength, and the sensitive plant needs careful fostering. The general sentiment of this passage is Socratic, as Hermann (Gesch. u. System p. 330 note 33) and Krohn (Pl. St. p. 365) have pointed out: cf. Mem. IV 1. 3, 4 τῶν ἀνθρώπων τοὺς εὐφυεστάτους ἐρρωμενεστάτους τε ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὄνταςπαιδευθέντας μὲν καὶ μαθόντας δεῖ πράττειν, ἀρίστους τε καὶ ὠφελιμωτάτους γίγνεσθαιἀπαιδεύτους δὲ καὶ ἀμαθεῖς γενομένους κακίστους τε καὶ βλαβερωτᾴτους γίγνεσθαι.

τὴν ἀρίστην φύσιν κτλ. The contrast is between the ἀρίστη φύσις and the φαύλη, where both are subjected to (οὖσαν ἐν cf. 495 A) bad τροφή. The former ‘comes off worse,’ ‘suffers more’ (κάκιον ἀπαλλάττειν), because the τροφή is more alien to its nature than to that of the others: cf. τοσούτῳ πλειόνων ἐνδεῖ τῶν πρεπόντων. So Schneider correctly explains the passage. Cf. generally Dante Inferno VI 106—108 “Ritorna a tua scienza, Che vuol, quanto la cosa è più perfetta, Più senta 'l bene, e così la doglienza.” Van Heusde's ἐν ἀλλοτρίῳ τραφεῖσαν misses the point. Even more unhappy is Boeckh's κακίον᾽ ἀπαλλάττειν, which Stallbaum adopts. κάκιον ἀπαλλάττειν is simply the comparative of κακῶς ἀπαλλάττειν: see Cobet in Mnem. XI p. 168, where Stallbaum is severely rebuked.

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