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[414c] so as by one noble lie to persuade if possible the rulers themselves, but failing that the rest of the city?” “What kind of a fiction do you mean?” said he. “Nothing unprecedented,” said I, “but a sort of Phoenician tale,1 something that has happened ere now in many parts of the world, as the poets aver and have induced men to believe, but that has not happened and perhaps would not be likely to happen in our day2 and demanding no little persuasion to make it believable.” “You act like one who shrinks from telling his thought,” he said. “You will think that I have right good reason3 for shrinking when I have told,” I said.

1 As was the Cadmus legend of the men who sprang from the dragon's teeth, which the Greks believed οὕτως ἀπίθανον ὄν, Laws 663 E. Pater, who translates the passage (Plato and Platonism, p. 223), fancifully suggests that it is a “miners' story.” Others read into it an allusion to Egyptian castes. The proverb ψεῦσμα Φοινικικόν(Strabo 259 B) probably goes back to the Phoenician tales of the Odyssey.

2 Plato never attempts a Voltairian polemic against the general faith in the supernatural, which he is willing to utilize for ethical ends, but he never himself affirms “le surnaturel particulier.”

3 καὶ μάλ᾽ here as often adds a touch of humorous colloquial emphasis, which our conception of the dignity of Plato does not allow a translator to reproduce.

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