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[96a] Now I will tell you my own experience in the matter, if you wish; then if anything I say seems to you to be of any use, you can employ it for the solution of your difficulty.”

“Certainly,” said Cebes, “I wish to hear your experiences.”

“Listen then, and I will tell you. When I was young, Cebes, I was tremendously eager for the kind of wisdom which they call investigation of nature. I thought it was a glorious thing to know the causes of everything, why each thing comes into being and why it perishes and why it exists; [96b] and I was always unsettling myself with such questions as these: Do heat and cold, by a sort of fermentation, bring about the organization of animals, as some people say? Is it the blood, or air, or fire by which we think? Or is it none of these, and does the brain furnish the sensations of hearing and sight and smell, and do memory and opinion arise from these, and does knowledge come from memory and opinion in a state of rest? And again I tried to find out [96c] how these things perish, and I investigated the phenomena of heaven and earth until finally I made up my mind that I was by nature totally unfitted for this kind of investigation. And I will give you a sufficient proof of this. I was so completely blinded by these studies that I lost the knowledge that I, and others also, thought I had before; I forgot what I had formerly believed I knew about many things and even about the cause of man's growth. For I had thought previously that it was plain to everyone that man grows through eating and [96d] drinking; for when, from the food he eats, flesh is added to his flesh and bones to his bones, and in the same way the appropriate thing is added to each of his other parts, then the small bulk becomes greater and the small man large. That is what I used to think. Doesn't that seem to you reasonable?”

“Yes,” said Cebes.

“Now listen to this, too. I thought I was sure enough, when I saw a tall man standing by a short one, that he was, say, taller by a head than the other, [96e] and that one horse was larger by a head than another horse; and, to mention still clearer things than those, I thought ten were more than eight because two had been added to the eight, and I thought a two-cubit rule was longer than a one-cubit rule because it exceeded it by half its length.”

“And now,” said Cebes, “what do you think about them?”

“By Zeus,” said he, “I am far from thinking that I know the cause of any of these things, I who do not even dare to say, when one is added to one, whether the one to which the addition was made has become two, or the one which was added, or the one which was added and

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 203
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