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τριττὰ -- ὄντος: ‘are three stages removed from Truth.’ One of Schneider's MSS has τριτὰ (sic), and Herwerden conjectures τρίτα, comparing τρίτος ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας in D. Possibly Proclus also read τρίτα: see the critical note in Kroll's edition of the in remp. I p. 203. 22. If the numeral is an adjective agreeing with ἔργα, we must certainly read τρίτα, but it may be an accusative of extent, i. q. τρία ἀπέχοντα. I therefore think it safer to retain the MS reading, especially as τριττά was more likely to be corrupted into τρίτα than conversely. φαντάσματα -- ποιοῦσιν. 596 E. ἤ τι καὶ κτλ.: ‘or whether again there is something in what they say.’ ἢ καί is sometimes thus used instead of ἤ, from a feeling that it introduces something additional, viz. an additional alternative. Cf. (with Schneider) Hom. Il. II 238 and Pl. Laws 744 A. The force of ἢ καί in Ap. 27 E, Phaedr. 269 A and infra 602 D, 605 D is nearly, but not quite, the same. ἐπὶ -- δημιουργίᾳ depends on σπουδάζειν, rather than on ἀφεῖναι. The word σπουδάζειν is emphatic: he might occasionally παίζειν ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις, but he would never make it the serious business of his life: cf. infra 602 B, VII 536 C note and Phaedr. 276 C ff. The whole of this passage reminds us very strongly of the depreciatory estimate of written books in the Phaedrus. Cf. 599 B note τοῦτο -- ἔχοντα: ‘set this in the forefront of his life as his best possession,’ in accordance with the maxim τὰ καλὰ τρέψαι ἔξω in Pind. Pyth. 3. 83. προστήσασθαι is used like πρόστασις IX 577 A, and προστησάμενοι in VII 531 B is not very different. Others (Schneider, Stallbaum, etc.) think προστήσασθαι κτλ. means ‘to set before his life’ as an aim or goal. In itself, this rendering is unexceptionable; but it does not suit with ὡς βέλτιστον ἔχοντα. The word ἔχοντα cannot be equivalent to ἡγούμενον ‘considering’ (in spite of the exceptional phrase ἐντίμως ἔχειν VII 528 B note); nor is it easy to accept the version of Schneider “und dieses als das beste was er könnte.” The emphasis requires us to take ἔχοντα in its full sense (“als das beste was er habe” Schleiermacher). Stallbaum conjectures ὡς βέλτιστ᾽ ἂν ἔχοντα, but the text is sound. For βέλτιστον instead of τὸ βέλτιστον cf. (with Schneider) μέγιστον ἀγαθόν in I 330 D.
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