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[95a] agree neither with Homer, the divine poet, nor with ourselves.”

“That is true,” said he.

“Very well,” said Socrates, “Harmonia, the Theban goddess, has, it seems, been moderately gracious to us; but how, Cebes, and by what argument can we find grace in the sight of Cadmus?”

“I think,” said Cebes, “you will find a way. At any rate, you conducted this argument against harmony wonderfully and better than I expected. For when Simmias was telling of his difficulty, I wondered if anyone could make head against [95b] his argument; so it seemed to me very remarkable that it could not withstand the first attack of your argument. Now I should not be surprised if the argument of Cadmus met with the same fate.”

“My friend,” said Socrates, “do not be boastful, lest some evil eye put to rout the argument that is to come. That, however, is in the hands of God. Let us, in Homeric fashion, charge the foe and test the worth of what you say. Now the sum total of what you seek is this: You demand a proof that our soul is indestructible [95c] and immortal, if the philosopher, who is confident in the face of death and who thinks that after death he will fare better in the other world than if he had lived his life differently, is not to find his confidence senseless and foolish. And although we show that the soul is strong and godlike and existed before we men were born as men, all this, you say, may bear witness not to immortality, but only to the fact that the soul lasts a long while, and existed somewhere an immeasurably long time before our birth, and knew and did various things; yet it was none the more immortal for all that, [95d] but its very entrance into the human body was the beginning of its dissolution, a disease, as it were; and it lives in toil through this life and finally perishes in what we call death. Now it makes no difference, you say, whether a soul enters into a body once or many times, so far as the fear each of us feels is concerned; for anyone, unless he is a fool, must fear, if he does not know and cannot prove that the soul is immortal. That, [95e] Cebes, is, I think, about what you mean. And I restate it purposely that nothing may escape us and that you may, if you wish, add or take away anything.”

And Cebes said, “I do not at present wish to take anything away or to add anything. You have expressed my meaning.”

Socrates paused for some time and was absorbed in thought. Then he said: “It is no small thing that you seek; for the cause of generation and decay must be completely investigated.


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