previous next
[614a] that the just man receives from gods and men in addition to those blessings which justice herself bestowed.” “And right fair and abiding rewards,” he said. “Well, these,” I said, “are nothing in number and magnitude compared with those that await both1 after death. And we must listen to the tale of them,” said I, “in order that each may have received in full2 what is due to be said of him by our argument.” “Tell me,” he said, [614b] “since there are not many things to which I would more gladly listen.” “It is not, let me tell you,” said I, “the tale3 to Alcinous told4 that I shall unfold, but the tale of a warrior bold,5 Er, the son of Armenius, by race a Pamphylian.6 He once upon a time was slain in battle, and when the corpses were taken up on the tenth day already decayed, was found intact, and having been brought home, at the moment of his funeral, on the twelfth day7 as he lay upon the pyre, revived,8 and after coming to life related what, he said, he had seen in the world beyond. He said that when his soul9 went forth from his body he journeyed with a great company [614c] and that they came to a mysterious region10 where there were two openings side by side in the earth, and above and over against them in the heaven two others, and that judges were sitting11 between these, and that after every judgement they bade the righteous journey to the right and upwards through the heaven with tokens attached12 to them in front of the judgement passed upon them, and the unjust to take the road to the left13 and downward, they too wearing behind signs [614d] of all that had befallen them, and that when he himself drew near they told him that he must be the messenger14 to mankind to tell them of that other world,15 and they charged him to give ear and to observe everything in the place. And so he said that here he saw, by each opening of heaven and earth, the souls departing after judgement had been passed upon them, while, by the other pair of openings, there came up from the one in the earth souls full of squalor and dust, and from the second there came down from heaven a second procession of souls clean and pure, [614e] and that those which arrived from time to time appeared to have come as it were from a long journey and gladly departed to the meadow16 and encamped17 there as at a festival,18 and acquaintances greeted one another, and those which came from the earth questioned the others about conditions up yonder, and those from heaven asked how it fared with those others. And they told their stories to one another, the one lamenting

1 i.e. the just and unjust man.

2 τελέως: cf. 361 A.

3 See Proclus, In Remp.,Kroll ii. 96 ff., Macrob. in Somnium Scip. i. 2. The Epicurean Colotes highly disapproved of Plato's method of putting his beliefs in this form. See Chassang, Histoire du roman, p. 15. See also Dieterich, Nekyia, pp. 114 ff., and Adam ad loc.

4 Odyssey ix.-xii. The term also became proverbial for a lengthy tale. See K. Tümpel, Ἀλκίνου ἀπόλογος, Philologus 52. 523 ff.

5 Plato puns on the name Alcinous. For other puns on proper names see on 580 B. See Arthur Platt, “Plato's Republic, 614 B,” CIass. Review, 1911, pp. 13-14. For the ἀλλὰ μέν without a corresponding δέ he compares Aristoph.Acharn. 428οὐ Βελλεροφόντης: ἀλλὰ κἀκεῖνος μὲν χωλός . . .(which Blaydes changed to ἀλλὰ μήν), Odyssey xv. 405 and Eryxias 308 B.

6 Perhaps we might say, “of the tribe of Everyman.” For the question of his identity see Platt, loc. cit.

7 Thomas Browne, Urn Burial, ch. iii., “Plato's historian of the other world lies twelve days incorrupted, while his soul was viewing the large stations of the dead,” See also Rohde, Psyche ii.6 pp. 92-93.

8 Stories of persons restored to life are fairly common in ancient literature. There are Eurydice and Alcestis in Greek mythology, in the Old Testament the son of the widow revived by Elijah (1Kings xvii. 17 ff. Cf. 2Kings iv. 34 ff. and xiii. 21), in the New Testament the daughter of Jairus (Matt. ix. 23 f.), the son of the widow of Nain (Luke vii. 11 ff.), and Lazarus(John xi.). but none of these recount their adventures. Cf. also Luke xvi. 31 “If they hear not Moses and the prophets neither will they be persuaded through one rose from the dead.” But in that very parable Lazarus is shown in Abraham's bosom and the rich man in torment. See further, Proclus, In Remp. ii. pp. 113-116, Rohde, Psyche ii.6 p. 191.

9 For the indirect reflexive cf. p. 507, note f, on 617 E.

10 For the description of the place of judgement cf. also Gorg. 524 A. Cf. Phaedo 107 D, 113 D, where there is no description but simply the statement that the souls are brought to a place and judged. On the topography of the myth in general cf. Bréhier, La Philos. de Plot. pp. 28-29: “Voyez, par exemple, la manière dont Numénius . . . interprète le mythe du Xe livre de Ia République, et comment il précise, avec Ia lourdeur d'un théologien, les traits que la poésie de Platon avait abandonnés à l'imagination du lecteur. Le lieu du jugement devient le centre du monde; le ciel platonicien devient Ia sphère des fixes; le ‘lieu sonterrain’ où sont punies les âmes, ce sont les planètes; la ‘bouche du ciel,’ par laquelle les âmes descendront à la naissance, est le tropique du Cancer; et c'est par le Capricorne qu'elles remontent.”

11 Cf. Gorg. 523 E f., 524 E-525 B, 526 B-C.

12 Gorg. 526 B.

13 Cf. Gorg. 525 A-B, 526 B. For “right” and “left” cf. the story of the last judgement, Matt. xxv. 33-34 and 41.

14 Cf. the rich man's request that a messenger be sent to his brethren, Luke xvi. 27-31.

15 ἐκεῖ: so in 330 D, 365 A, 498 C, Phaedo 61 E, 64 A, 67 B, 68 E, Apol. 40 E, 41 C, Crito 54 B, Symp. 192 E. In 500 D and Phaedr. 250 A it refers to the world of the ideas, in 516 C and 520 C to the world of the cave.

16 Cf. Gorg. 524 A.

17 Cf. 621 A, 610 E, and John i. 14ἐσκήνωσεν.

18 Cf. 421 B.

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.
1911 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: