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Divine Plato hath spoken many things of the immortality of the soul in that book which he calls his Phaedo; not a few in his Republic, his Menon, and his Gorgias; and hath some scattered expressions in the rest of his dialogues. The things which are written by himin his Dialogue concerning the Soul I will send you by themselves, illustrated with my commentaries upon them, according to your request. I will now only quote those which are opportune and to the present purpose, and they are the words of Socrates to Callicles the Athenian, who was the companion and scholar of Gorgias the rhetorician. For so saith Socrates in Plato:

‘Hear then,’ saith he, ‘a most elegant story, which you, 1 fancy, will think to be a fable, but I take it to be a truth, for the things which I shall tell you have nothing but reality in them. Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, as Homer tells us, divided amongst themselves the kingdom which they received by inheritance from their father; but there was a law established concerning men in the reign of Saturn, which was then valid and still remains in force atnongst the Gods, that that mortal which had led a just and pious life should go, when he died, into the fortunate islands of the blest, and there dwell in happiness, free from all misery; but he that had lived impiously and in contempt of the Gods should be shackled with vengeance, and be thrust into that prison which they call Tartarus. In the time of Saturn, and in the first beginning of Jove's empire, the living judged the living, and that the same day that they were to die; whereupon the decisions of the bench were not rightly managed. Therefore Pluto and his curators under him came out of these fortunate islands, and complained to Jupiter that men were sent to both places who were not worthy. I, saith Jupiter, will take care that this thing be not practised for the future; for the reason that the sentences are now unjustly passed is that the guilty come [p. 338] clothed to the tribunal, and whilst they are yet alive. For some of profligate dispositions are yet palliated with a beautiful outside, with riches, and titles of nobility; and so when they come to be arraigned, many will offer themselves as witnesses to swear that they have lived very pious lives. The judges are dazzled with these appearances, and they sit upon them too in their robes; so that their minds are (as it were) covered and obscured with eyes and ears, and indeed with the encumbrance of the whole body. The judges and the prisoners being clothed is thus a very great impediment. Therefore in the first place the foreknowledge of death is to be taken away; for now they see the end of their line, and Prometheus has been commanded to see that this be no longer allowed. Next they ought to be divested of all dress and ornament, and come dead to the tribunal. The judge himself is to be naked and dead too, that with his own soul he may view the naked soul of each one so soon as he is dead, when he is now forsaken of his relations, and has left behind him all his gayeties in the other world; and so justice will be impartially pronounced. Deliberating on this with myself before I received your advice, I have constituted my sons judges, Minos and Rhadamanthus from Asia, and Aeacus from Europe; these therefore, after they have departed this life, shall assume their character, and exercise it in the field, and in the road where two ways divide themselves, the one leading to the fortunate islands, and the other to the deep abyss; so Rhadamanthus shall judge the Asians, and Aeacus the Europeans. But to Minos I will grant the authority of a final appeal, that if any thing hath escaped the notice of the others, it shall be subjected to his cognizance, as to the last resort of a supreme judge; that so it may be rightly decided what journey every one ought to take. These are the things, Callicles, which I have heard and think to be true; and I draw this rational inference from them, that [p. 339] death in my opinion is nothing else but the separation of two things nearly united, which are soul and body.’ 1

1 Plat Gorg. 523 A-524 B.

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