previous next
[611a] either its own or alien, it is evident that it must necessarily exist always, and that if it always exists it is immortal.” “Necessarily,” he said.

“Let this, then,” I said, “be assumed to be so. But if it is so, you will observe that these souls must always be the same. For if none perishes they could not, I suppose, become fewer nor yet more numerous.1 For if any class of immortal things increased you are aware that its increase would come from the mortal and all things would end by becoming immortal.2” “You say truly.” “But,” said I, “we must not suppose this, [611b] for reason will not suffer it nor yet must we think that in its truest nature the soul is the kind of thing that teems with infinite diversity and unlikeness and contradiction in and with itself.3” “How am I to understand that?” he said. “It is not easy,” said I, “for a thing to be immortal that is composed of many elements4 not put together in the best way, as now appeared to us5 to be the case with the soul.” “It is not likely.” “Well, then, that the soul is immortal our recent argument and our other6 proofs would constrain us to admit. But to know its true nature [611c] we must view it not marred by communion with the body7 and other miseries as we now contemplate it, but consider adequately in the light of reason what it is when it is purified, and then you will find it to be a far more beautiful thing and will more clearly distinguish justice and injustice and all the matters that we have now discussed. But though we have stated the truth of its present appearance, its condition as we have now contemplated it [611d] resembles that of the sea-god Glaucus8 whose first nature can hardly be made out by those who catch glimpses of him, because the original members of his body are broken off and mutilated and crushed and in every way marred by the waves, and other parts have attached themselves9 to him, accretions of shells10 and sea-weed and rocks, so that he is more like any wild creature than what he was by nature—even such, I say, is our vision of the soul marred by countless evils. But we must look elsewhere, Glaucon.” “Where?” said he. “To its love of wisdom. [611e] And we must note the things of which it has apprehensions, and the associations for which it yearns, as being itself akin to the divine11 and the immortal and to eternal being, and so consider what it might be if it followed the gleam unreservedly and were raised by this impulse out of the depths of this sea in which it is now sunk, and were cleansed and scraped free12 of the rocks and barnacles which,

1 Cf. Carveth Read, Man and His Superstitions p. 104: “Plato thought that by a sort of law of psychic conservation there must always be the same number of souls in world. There must therefore be reincarnation. . . . ”

2 Cf. Phaedo 72 C-D.

3 The idea of self-contradiction is frequent in Plato. See What Plato said, p. 505, on Gorg. 482 B-C.

4 σύνθετον: Cf. Phaedo 78 C, Plotinus, Enneades i. 1. 12, Berkeley, Principles, 141: “We have shown that the soul is indivisible, incorporeal, unextended; and it is consequently incorruptible. . . . cannot possibly affect an active, simple, uncompounded substance.” See also Zeller, Ph. d. Gr. ii. 1, pp. 828-829.

5 603 D. see also Frutiger, Mythes de Platon, pp. 90 f.

6 Such as are given in the Phaedo, Phaedrus, and perhaps elsewhere.

7 Cf. also Phaedo 82 E, 83 D-E, 81 C, and Wisdom of Solomon ix 14φθαρτὸν γὰρ σῶμα βαρύνει ψυχήν, καὶ βρίθει τὸ γεῶδες σκῆνος νοῦν πολυφρόντιδα, “for the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things.”

8 See schol. Hermann vi. 362, Eurip.Or. 364 f., Apollonius, Argon. 1310 ff., Athenaeus 296 B and D, Anth. Pal. vi. 164, Frazer on Pausanias ix. 22. 7, Gädecker, Glaukos der Meeresgott,Göttingen, 1860.

9 Cf. Tim. 42 Cπροσφύντα.

10 Cf. Phaedr. 250 Cὀστρέου τρόπον δεδεσμευμένοι, Phaedo 110 A.

11 Cf. Phaedo 79 D, Laws 899 D, and 494 Dτὸ σιγγενὲς τῶν λόγων.

12 Cf. Phileb. 55 Cπερικρούωμεν, 519 Aπεριεκόπη.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (James Adam)
load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1860 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: