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[92a] before it was imprisoned in the body?”

“I,” said Cebes, “was wonderfully convinced by it at the time and I still believe it more firmly than any other argument.”

“And I too,” said Simmias, “feel just as he does, and I should be much surprised if I should ever think differently on this point.”

And Socrates said: “You must, my Theban friend, think differently, if you persist in your opinion that a harmony is a compound and that the soul is a harmony made up of the elements that are strung like harpstrings in the body. [92b] For surely you will not accept your own statement that a composite harmony existed before those things from which it had to be composed, will you?”

“Certainly not, Socrates.”

“Then do you see,” said he, “that this is just what you say when you assert that the soul exists before it enters into the form and body of a man, and that it is composed of things that do not yet exist? For harmony is not what your comparison assumes it to be. The lyre and the strings and the sounds [92c] come into being in a tuneless condition, and the harmony is the last of all to be composed and the first to perish. So how can you bring this theory into harmony with the other?”

“I cannot at all,” said Simmias.

“And yet,” said Socrates, “there ought to be harmony between it and the theory about harmony above all others.”

“Yes, there ought,” said Simmias.

“Well,” said he, “there is no harmony between the two theories. Now which do you prefer, that knowledge is recollection or that the soul is a harmony?”

“The former, decidedly, Socrates,” he replied. “For this other came to me without demonstration; it merely seemed probable [92d] and attractive, which is the reason why many men hold it. I am conscious that those arguments which base their demonstrations on mere probability are deceptive, and if we are not on our guard against them they deceive us greatly, in geometry and in all other things. But the theory of recollection and knowledge has been established by a sound course of argument. For we agreed that our soul before it entered into the body existed just as the very essence which is called the absolute exists. [92e] Now I am persuaded that I have accepted this essence on sufficient and right grounds. I cannot therefore accept from myself or anyone else the statement that the soul is a harmony.”

“Here is another way of looking at it, Simmias,” said he. “Do you think a harmony or any other composite thing can be in any other state


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