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[387a] and:“ Under the earth like a vapor vanished the gibbering soul,
Hom. Il. 23.100and:“ Even as bats in the hollow of some mysterious grotto
Fly with a flittermouse shriek when one of them falls from the cluster
Whereby they hold to the rock and are clinging the one to the other,
Flitted their gibbering ghosts.
Hom. Od. 24.6-101 [387b] We will beg Homer and the other poets not to be angry if we cancel those and all similar passages, not that they are not poetic and pleasing2 to most hearers, but because the more poetic they are the less are they suited to the ears of boys and men who are destined to be free and to be more afraid of slavery than of death.” “By all means.”

“Then we must further taboo in these matters the entire vocabulary of terror and fear, Cocytus3 [387c] named of lamentation loud, abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate, the people of the infernal pit and of the charnel-house, and all other terms of this type, whose very names send a shudder4 through all the hearers every year. And they may be excellent for other purposes,5 but we are in fear for our guardians lest the habit of such thrills make them more sensitive6 and soft than we would have them.” “And we are right in so fearing.” “We must remove those things then?” “Yes.” “And the opposite type to them is what we must require in speech and in verse?” “Obviously.” “And shall we also do away with the [387d] wailings and lamentations of men of repute?” “That necessarily follows,” he said, “from the other.” “Consider,” said I, “whether we shall be right in thus getting rid of them or not. What we affirm is that a good man7 will not think that for a good man, whose friend he also is, death is a terrible thing.” “Yes, we say that.” “Then it would not be for his friend's8 sake as if he had suffered something dreadful that he would make lament.” “Certainly not.” “But we also say this, that such a one is most of all men sufficient unto himself9 [387e] for a good life and is distinguished from other men in having least need of anybody else.” “True,” he replied. “Least of all then to him is it a terrible thing to lose son10 or brother or his wealth or anything of the sort.” “Least of all.” “Then he makes the least lament and bears it most moderately when any such misfortune overtakes him.” “Certainly.” “Then we should be right in doing away with the lamentations of men of note and in attributing them to women,11

1 Said of the souls of the suitors slain by Odysseus.

2 Cf. Theaetetus 177 Cοὐκ ἀηδέστερα ἀκούειν.

3 Milton's words, which I have borrowed, are the best expression of Plato's thought.

4 φρίττειν and φρίκη are often used of the thrill or terror of tragedy. Cf. Sophocles Electra 1402, Oedipus Rex. 1306, Aeschylus Prometheus Bound 540.

5 Some say, to frighten the wicked, but more probably for their aesthetic effect. Cf. 390 Aεἰ δέ τινα ἄλλην ἡδονὴν παρέχεται, Laws 886 C.

6 θερμότεροι contains a playful suggestion of the fever following the chill; Cf. Phaedrus 251 A. With μαλακώτεροι the image passes into that of softened metal; cf. 411 B, Laws 666 B-C, 671 B.

7 That only the good can be truly friends was a favorite doctrine of the ancient moralists. Cf. Lysis 214 C, Xenophon Memorabilia ii. 6. 9, 20.

8 Cf. Phaedo 117 C “I wept for myself, for surely not for him.”

9 αὐτάρκης is the equivalent of ἱκανὸς αὑτῷ in Lysis 215 A. For the idea Cf. Menexenus 247 E. Self-sufficiency is the mark of a good man, of God, of the universe (Timaeus 33 D), of happiness in Aristotle, and of the Stoic sage.

10 Cf. the anecdotes of Pericles and Xenophon and the comment of Pater on Marcus Aurelius in Marius the Epicurean. Plato qualifies the Stoic extreme in 603 E. The Platonic ideal is μετριοπάθεια, the Stoic ἀπάθεια,

11 Cf. Plat. Rep. 398e.

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