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559D - 562A Let us now return and explain the genesis of the democratical man. An oligarchical father has a son, whom he brings up on narrow and parsimonious principles. The young man tastes the ‘honey of drones,’ and sedition is engendered within his soul. A struggle ensues, and after perhaps a temporary check the unnecessary desires prevail; but with the help of fortune and advancing years a sort of equality of all desires is finally established; and the man becomes an impartial devotee of pleasure in all its forms—a beautiful and many-coloured creature, ‘everything by starts and nothing long.’ πάλιν τοίνυν κτλ. Plato's description of the genesis of the democratical man is one of the most royal and magnificent pieces of writing in the whole range of literature, whether ancient or modern. Throughout most of this chapter, in the words of Longinus, the style πλουσιώτατα καθάπερ τι πέλαγος εἰς ἀναπεπταμένον κέχυται—μέγεθος (περὶ ὕψους 12. 2), and no better example will ever be discovered of that full tide of lofty thoughts and images and words—a tide ‘too full for sound and foam’—in which the author of the treatise On the Sublime places the essence of <*>ψος. We owe to Longinus what is by far the best appreciation of Plato's hierophantic vein: see especially cc. 33—36, where we can hear more than a mere echo of that sublimity which is itself, according to Longinus, the ‘echo of high-mindedness’ (ὕψος μεγαλοφροσύνης ἀπήχημα ib. 9. 2). For a very different estimate the student may be referred to Dionysius of Halicarnassus (ad Cn. Pomp. Gem. 753—765 Reiske), whose pedantic criticisms make it tolerably plain that a study of the Attic orators does not qualify a man to sit in judgment upon Plato. The present episode is hardly less remarkable for psychological insight than for elevation of style, and the description of the democratic man as the chameleon of human society paints him for all time (561 C ff.). As a representation of actual fact, the picture is doubtless somewhat exaggerated, as usual; but it is extraordinarily vivid and powerful, and shews that the Platonic analogy between the individual and the State may prove in the hands of a master an admirable clue whereby to unravel the workings of the human soul in the individual as well as in the State. νῦν δὴ κτλ. See 558 C, D. With ἀπαιδεύτως cf. 552 E note κηφήνων κτλ. It is clear from the summary of this passage in IX 572 C συγγενόμενος δὲ κομψοτέροις ἀνδράσι καὶ μεστοῖς ὧν ἄρτι διήλθομεν ἐπιθυμιῶν that κηφήνων and αἴθωσι θηρσὶ καὶ δεινοῖς refer to human drones, and not to the κηφηνώδεις ἐπιθυμίαι in the young man's heart. αἴθωσι ‘furious,’ ‘wild’ (Jebb on Soph. Ajax 221) shews that the drones are of the ‘stinging’ order (552 C ff., 555 D ff.).
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