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ἡλιοειδεστάτην. The Eye is the Body's Sun: cf. Ar. Thesm. 16, 17 μὲν βλέπειν χρὴ πρῶτ᾽ ἐμηχανήσατο | ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντίμιμον ἡλίου τροχῷ. A similar idea appears in St Matth. 6. 22 λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὀφθαλμός. Conversely, the Sun is often in Greek poetry called the Eye of the World or of Day, and Shakespeare invokes the Sun in the words ‘O eye of Eyes!’ (Rape of Lucrece): cf. also Milton Par. Lost V 171 ‘Thou Sun! of this great world both eye and soul.’ Both comparisons rest ultimately on the favourite Greek idea of the Universe as the Macrocosm, and Man as the Microcosm. See on this subject Zeller^{3} II 2. p. 488, III 2. pp. 136, 397 notes, and Stein Psych. d. Stoa I pp. 205—214.

οὐκοῦν κτλ. Pindar Fr. 107 (Bergk) expresses the same idea in the language of poetry: Ἀκτὶς ἀελίου, τί πολύσκοπ᾽ ἐμήσαο, θοῶν μᾶτερ ὀμμάτων.

τὴν δύναμιν is of course τὴν δύναυιν τοῦ ὁρᾶν, ‘the power of seeing.’ The translation ‘faculty’ (D. and V.) for δύναμιν is incorrect; for the faculty of ὄψις is supposed to be present in the eyes even when there is no light (507 D). But the eye has no ‘power’ to see, i.e. cannot exercise the faculty of ὄψις unless such a power is constantly dispensed (ταμιευομένην) to it from the Sun. Cf. Biehl die Id. d. Guten p. 52, where the same view is taken. The word ἐπίρρυτον (‘flowing over,’ ‘overflowing it,’ cf. Tim. 80 D) as well as ταμιευομένην unmistakably points the allusion to Light. See also on ὅταν μὲν κτλ. and τοῦτο τοίνυν κτλ. in 508 D.

508B - 509A So much for our similitude. The interpretation is as follows. The offspring and image of the Good is the Sun, whose relation to Sight and its objects is the same as that of the Good to Thought (νοῦς) and the objects of Thought. The analogue of Light is Truth; as we cannot see without Light, so, where Truth is absent, we cannot know. The Idea of the Good is the source of Truth and Knowledge, although itself apprehended by Knowledge. As Light and Sight resemble the Sun, so Truth and Knowledge resemble the Good, but the Good is not identical with either, for it transcends both.

φάναι. Cf. 473 A note

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  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae, 16
    • Plato, Timaeus, 80d
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