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[85a] sing most and best in their joy that they are to go to the god whose servants they are. But men, because of their own fear of death, misrepresent the swans and say that they sing for sorrow, in mourning for their own death. They do not consider that no bird sings when it is hungry or cold or has any other trouble; no, not even the nightingale or the swallow or the hoopoe which are said to sing in lamentation. I do not believe they sing for grief, nor do the swans; [85b] but since they are Apollo's birds, I believe they have prophetic vision, and because they have foreknowledge of the blessings in the other world they sing and rejoice on that day more than ever before. And I think that I am myself a fellow-servant of the swans; and am consecrated to the same God and have received from our master a gift of prophecy no whit inferior to theirs, and that I go out from life with as little sorrow as they. So far as this is concerned, then, speak and ask what ever questions you please, so long as the eleven of the Athenians permit.”

“Good,” said Simmias. [85c] “I will tell you my difficulty, and then Cebes in turn will say why he does not agree to all you have said. I think, Socrates, as perhaps you do yourself, that it is either impossible or very difficult to acquire clear knowledge about these matters in this life. And yet he is a weakling who does not test in every way what is said about them and persevere until he is worn out by studying them on every side. For he must do one of two things; either he must learn or discover the truth about these matters, or if that is impossible, he must take whatever human doctrine is best [85d] and hardest to disprove and, embarking upon it as upon a raft, sail upon it through life in the midst of dangers, unless he can sail upon some stronger vessel, some divine revelation, and make his voyage more safely and securely. And so now I am not ashamed to ask questions, since you encourage me to do so, and I shall not have to blame myself hereafter for not saying now what I think. For, Socrates, when I examine what has been said, either alone or with Cebes, it does not seem quite satisfactory.” [85e] And Socrates replied: “Perhaps, my friend, you are right. But tell me in what respect it is not satisfactory.”

“In this,” said he, “that one might use the same argument about harmony and a lyre with its strings. Once might say that the harmony is invisible and incorporeal, and very beautiful and

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