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Λήθης πεδίον. The first mention in Greek literature of the plain of Lethe occurs in Ar. Frogs 186 τίς ἐς τὸ Λήθης πεδίον κτλ., but Aristophanes clearly presumes that his audience is already familiar with the idea, and Plato may well have borrowed it from Orphic and Pythagorean eschatologies. Cf. Ettig Acherunt. l.c. p. 310 note 6. The πεδίον Λήθης was probably a counter-picture to the πεδίον Ἀληθείας, of which we hear in Phaedr. 248 B: cf. also [Axioch.] 371 B. So also Proclus l.c. 346. 19 ff. ὅτι μὲν οὖν ἀντίθετόν ἐστι πρὸς τὸ τῆς Ἀληθείας πεδίον τὸ τῆς Λήθης πεδίον, δῆλον: εἴπερ τοῦτο μὲν ἄκαρπον καὶ ἄγονον καὶ αὐχμηρόν, ἐκεῖνο δὲ ζωῆς πλῆρες, τροφὸν τῶν ψυχῶνὡς ἐν Φαίδρῳ (248 B) μεμαθήκαμεν. For the later history of this conception see Rohde Psyche^{2} I p. 316 note 2, II p. 390 note 1 and Dieterich Nek. pp. 90 ff.

διὰ καύματός τε κτλ. J. and C. explain this by saying that “they are passing through the pillar of light.” I do not think that this idea was present to the mind of Plato, though the souls are no doubt somewhere in this region. The καῦμα and πνῖγος δεινόν are sufficiently appropriate touches without having recourse to so realistic an explanation.

Ἀμέλητα ποταμόν. Cf. Virg. Aen. VI 714 f. Lethaei ad fluminis undam Securos latices, et longa oblivia potant. Many other parallels are quoted by Dieterich Nek. pp. 90—94. As the πεδίον Λήθης has its counterpart in the πεδίον Ἀληθείας, so also we find traces in Greek legend of a ὕδωρ Μνημοσύνης as well as the ὕδωρ Λήθης (Paus. IX 39. 8).

τοὺς δὲ -- μέτρου is missing in q and several other MSS. “Fortasse supervacanea adeoque inepta haec videbantur alicui, qui statim quemlibet postquam bibisset omnia obliviscentem videret. Sed oblivionis vis et pertinacia varia est. Qui nimium bibit, in perpetuum obliviscitur, qui moderate, discere aliquando seu recordando scientiam repetere potest” (Schneider). μάθησις, we remember, is ἀνάμνησις (Phaed. 76 A: cf. also 75 D and 76 D). It is likely enough that the Platonic doctrine of ἀνάμνησις was suggested by earlier Pythagorean beliefs of the same kind (Dieterich l.c. p. 122: cf. also Rohde l.c. p. 186 note).

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Aristophanes, Frogs, 186
    • Plato, Phaedo, 76a
    • Plato, Phaedrus, 248b
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