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19 f.

ἔγωγε καὶ ἤκουσά του: the following comparisons are probably taken from the book of Philolaus, a Pythagorean who, after having been driven from Italy, wandered to Thebes, and there engaged in teaching and writing. Socrates was acquainted with the Pythagorean teaching probably only orally, from association with his Theban friends Simmias and Cebes. For this reason Plato implies by the manner of expression that this knowledge, which Socrates himself in nowise valued, was as general as possible. See Thompson.

20 f.

τὸ μὲν σῶμά ἐστι σῆμα: this comparison, though ascribed to the Pythagoreans, is connected also with the Orphic saying that the body is the custodian of the soul. Plato combines both in the same manner in Crat. 400 b καὶ γὰρ σῆμά τινές φασιν αὐτὸ (sc. τὸ σῶμα) εἶναι τῆς ψυχῆς. Cf. Phaedo 62 b.

τῆς δὲ ψυχῆς τοῦτο: in order to continue the discussion, a distinction between the separate parts of the soul is necessary. This could not be given here scientifically; but as much as is needful is stated by the comparison. Elsewhere Plato distinguishes three parts of the soul,—τὸ λογιστικόν, τὸ θυμοειδές (θυμός), and τὸ ἐπιθυμητικόν. For his present purpose two are sufficient,—the really spiritual, the reason, and that part which clings greedily to the body; for the question to be decided is: Shall life be directed according to the nature of the soul or of the body?

μεταπίπτειν: the active is found in 481 d, e. Cf. 517 b μεταβιβάζειν τὰς ἐπιθυμίας.

μυθολογῶν: “speaking in mythical (here allegorical) form,” in contradistinction with the dialectical method. Cf. Phaedo 61 e διασκοπεῖν τε καὶ μυθολογεῖν.—

κομψός: of delicate perceptions. Often with irony, but not here. See on 486 c. Σικελός refers to Empedocles, Ἰταλικός to Philolaus. Neither was able, in the infancy of the science, to clothe his profound thoughts in philosophical form. Cf. Cron-Dyer Introd. to Apol. §§ 3 and 8. Σικελός, and not Σικελικός, may be due to the old love song of Timocreon Rhodius, which began: Σικελὸς κομψὸς ἀνὴρ | ποτὶ τὰν ματέρ᾽ ἔφα.

παράγων τῷ ὀνόματι: by a slight variation of the word. παράγειν is otherwise used of etymologies which are effected by small variations in the sound.

διὰ τὸ πιθανόν τε καὶ πειστικόν: Philolaus was very fond of such tricks of derivation (cf. Boeckh, Philolaos, p. 188). Both words are obviously, as was shown above by ἀναπείθεσθαι and μεταπίπτειν, to be considered as passive, and applying to something that can be easily persuaded. In form πιθανόν approaches closest to πίθον, and hence stands first. It is usually active, yet it occurs also as a passive, i.e. Xen. Cyr. ii. 2. 10 πιθανοὶ δ̓ οὕτως εἰσί τινες, ὥστε, πρὶν εἰδέναι τὸ προσταττόμενον, πρότερον πείθονται.—

πειστικόν: adapted and inclined to belief, presupposes also some persuasion.

ἀνοήτους: is chosen here as the opposite of σώφρονες, on account of its assonance with ἀμυήτους, and denotes those who are under the control, not of the νοῦς, but of the ἐπιθυμία. ἀμύητοι, according to the regular usage, denotes those who are not initiated into the mysteries. Hence Plato applies it also, in Phaedo 69 c and Theaet. 155 e, to those who have not been initiated into wisdom, or Philosophy, which causes—as the mysteries were also designed to do—an actual inner purification of the soul. But here is also probably, at the same time, an allusion to the actual untransferred meaning of μύειν, close, —i.e. the “unconfined.” With this agrees the following explanation, οὐ στεγανόν and τετρημένος πίθος. The ἀμύητοι stand open to all the charms of sense and the outer world.

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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Plato, Cratylus, 400b
    • Plato, Gorgias, 481d
    • Plato, Gorgias, 486c
    • Plato, Gorgias, 517b
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