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ἀλλ᾽ ἐᾷ κτλ. The bearing of this remarkable chapter on the theory of divination did not escape Cicero, who has translated, or rather paraphrased, from ὅταν 571 C to ἅπτεται 572 A: see his de div. I 60, 61. In Tim. 71 D— 72 B it is not, as here, the best part of soul which is said to perceive ‘past, present, or future’ in dreams, but περὶ τὸ ἧπαρ ψυχῆς μοῖρα κατῳκισμένη, the function of λογισμός being to interpret the visions seen by the ἐπιθυμητικόν in divination (whether ὄναρ or ὕπαρ), ὅπῃ τι σημαίνει καὶ ὅτῳ μέλλοντος παρελθόντος παρόντος κακοῦ ἢἀγαθοῦ (ib. 72 A). In the present passage Plato appeals to the widespread popular view that the soul during sleep is freed from the trammels of the body, foresees the future, and has access to a region of truth denied, with few exceptions, to the waking mind: “viget enim animus in somnis, liberque est sensibus et omni impeditione curarum, iacente et mortuo paene corpore” (Cic. de div. I 115): see Pind. Frag. 131 3-5 Bergk τὸ γὰρ ἐστὶ μόνον | ἐκ θεῶν: εὕδει δὲ πρασσόντων μελέων, ἀτὰρ εὑδόντεσσιν ἐν πολλοῖς ὀνείροις | δείκνυσι τερπνῶν ἐφέρποισαν χαλεπῶν τε κρίσιν, Aesch: Ag. 179 ff. (στάζει δ᾽ ἔν θ᾽ ὕπνῳ κτλ.), Eum. 104 εὕδουσα γὰρ φρὴν ὄμμασιν λαμπρύνεται and Xen. Cyr. VIII 7. 21, and cf. generally Rohde Psyche^{2} I pp. 6 ff., II pp. 309 note 2 and 414. On this view the Stoic theory of divination by dreams was based (see Cic. l.c. I 110 ff.), and the same idea appears also in Aristotle Frag. 12 ὅτανἐν τῷ ὑπνοῦν καθ᾽ ἑαυτὴν γένηται ψυχή, τότε τὴν ἴδιαν ἀπολαβοῦσα φύσιν προμαντεύεταί τε καὶ προαγορεύει τὰ μέλλοντα. We may compare the lines of Wordsworth:

“that serene and blessed mood In which the affections gently lead us on Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul: While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things.”

ὀρέγεσθαί του. Schneider and Stallbaum read ὀρέγεσθαι τοῦ αἰσθάνεσθαι with II (see cr. n.) and a majority of MSS; but such an expression would be heavy and unpleasing. Jowett and Campbell think “καὶ αἰσθάνεσθαι should perhaps be struck out and the accent restored to του,” while Burnet omits καί, reading ὀρέγεσθαί του αἰσθάνεσθαι. The text, I believe, is sound, but cannot mean ‘to aspire further (καὶ) to perceive something which it knows not’ (J. and C.). We may translate ‘to yearn after it knows not what and perceive what it knoweth not.’ Just as in evil dreams the baser part of soul reaches out after the object of its desires (571 C), so also the βέλτιστον, in these happier visions of the night, has longings which are all its own. ὀρέγεσθαι expresses the instinctive and unconscious turning of the soul towards the fountain of her being, and the waking counterpart of these visions of the night are just

“those shadowy recollections, Which, be they what they may, Are yet the fountain light of all our day, Are yet a master light of all our seeing.”

With the use of ὀρέγεσθαι cf. Phaed. 65 C ὀρέγηται τοῦ ὄντος κτλ., a passage which throws light on Plato's meaning here in more ways than one.

ἡσυχάσας . ἡσυχάζω is used transitively only in the aorist: cf. Solon ap. Arist. Ath. Pol. 5. 3. Schleiermacher (Platons Staat p. 601) thinks that Plato recognises here, and in ἐγείρας, ἑστιάσας, πραύνας, κινήσας etc., a fourth principle or ‘part’ of soul, that viz. which is able to excite or calm the others. Krohn on the other hand sees in this passage a sort of implicit recognition of the ‘ego’ as a separate and distinct entity (Pl. St. p. 217). The latter view is nearer the truth (cf. V 462 C, D notes); but we ought not to press the words too much: cf. ἐπιεικεῖ τινι ἑαυτοῦ βίᾳ κατέχει ἄλλας κακὰς ἐπιθυμίας VIII 554 C, and III 411 B note

εἴδη. Other examples of this rare form of the dual in Plato are cited by Roeper de dual. usu Plat. p. 12.

μάλιστα: i.e. more than when he retires to sleep in any other condition. It is better, in view especially of the second half of this clause, to understand μάλιστα in this way, than to take the word generally, as if divination by dreams were the best way of grasping truth. Plato would hardly say this, nor indeed would the average Greek. See especially Tim. 71 D ff.

παράνομοι. 571 B note

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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 179
    • Plato, Phaedo, 65c
    • Plato, Timaeus, 71d
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 8.7.21
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