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earnest and in jest; who have also heard and seen their parents offering up sacrifices and prayers—sights and sounds delightful to children,- sacrificing, I say, with all earnestness on behalf of them and of themselves, and communing with the Gods in vows and supplications as though they were firmly convinced of their existence; who likewise see and hear the genuflexions and prostrations which are made at the rising and setting of the sun and moon both by Greeks and barbarians in all the various turns of good and evil fortune, not as if they thought that there were no Gods, but as if there could be no doubt of their existence, and no suspicion of their non-existence ;-if men know all these things, and without reason disregard them, how is it possible in gentle terms to remonstrate with them, when one has to begin by proving to them the very existence of the Gods? Yet the attempt must be made, for it would be unseemly that one half of mankind should go mad in their lust of pleasure, and the other half in righteous indignation at them. Our address to these lost and perverted natures should not be spoken in passion; let us suppose ourselves to select some one of them, and gently to reason with him, smothering our anger :-0 my son, we will say to him, you are young, and the advance of time will make you reverse many of the opinions which you now hold. Wait therefore, until the time comes, and do not attempt to judge of high matters at present; and that is the highest of all of which you now think nothing—to know the Gods rightly and to live accordingly. And in the first place let me indicate to you one point which is of great importance, and of the truth of which I am quite certain :-you and your friends are not the first who have
held this opinion about the Gods. There have always been persons more or less numerous who have had the same disorder. I have known many of them, and can tell you, that no one who had taken up in youth this opinion, that the Gods do not exist, ever continued in the same till he was old. The two other notions certainly do continue in some cases, but not in many; the notion I mean, that the Gods exist, but take no heed of human beings, and the notion that they do take heed of them, but are easily propitiated' with offerings and prayers. Now, if you will take my advice, you will continue to examine whether the opinion which might seem to you to have been established to the best of your power, is really true or not, asking help both of others and above all of the legislator. And meanwhile beware of committing any impiety against the Gods'. After this prelude the speaker proceeds to give a proof of theism from the essential and necessary priority of mind to matter, and from the movements of the heavenly bodies. A 'divine word' needed to dispel the darkness of the future.
Simmias and Cebes are not quite satisfied with the grounds alleged by Socrates for his belief in the immortality of the soul, but they shrink from saying any. thing which could disturb the serenity of his last hours. Socrates encourages them to speak fearlessly, since his patron, Apollo, has granted to him that same foretaste of future blessedness, which makes the dying swan burst forth into its hymn of praise. Simmias, thus encouraged, excuses his own hardness of belief in the following words: 'I do not doubt, Socrates, that you are as fully convinced as we are of the impossibility, or at least the extreme difficulty, of arriving at actual certainty in regard to these matters, whilst we are on earth. Still you would justly blame our faint-heartedness, if we desisted from the search for truth, before we had tried every possible means of attaining it. You would tell us that, if a man has failed to learn the truth from another, or to discover it for himself, it is his duty at any rate to find the best and most irrefragable of human words, and trusting himself to this, as to a raft, to set forth on the hazardous voyage of life, unless it were possible to find a surer and less dangerous way on board a stronger vessel, some word of God.'
1 By 'propitiation' here, as in the 2nd book of the Republic, Plato means the supposed power, on the part of an unrepentant sinner, to avert the Divine wrath by votive offerings.
I conclude with one example of Plato's allegorical style, the famous simile of the Cave from the Seventh book of the Republic.
Imagine human beings living in a sort of underground den which has a mouth wide open towards the light: they have been there from childhood and, having their necks and legs chained, can only see before them. At a distance there is a fire, and between the fire and the prisoners a raised way, and a low wall built along the way, like that over which marionette players show their puppets. Above the wall are seen moving figures, who hold in their hands various works of art, and among them figures of men and animals, wood and stone, and some of the passers-by are talking and others silent. The captives see nothing but the shadows which the fire throws on the wall of the cave ; to these they give names; and, if we add an echo which returns from the wall, the voices of the passengers will seem to proceed from the shadows. Suppose now that you suddenly turn them round and make them look with pain and grief to themselves at the real images; will they believe them to be real? Will not their eyes be dazzled, and will they not try to get away from the light to something which they are able to behold without blinking? And suppose further, that they are dragged up a steep and rugged ascent into the presence of the sun himself, will not their sight be darkened with excess of light? Some time will pass before they get the habit of perceiving at all; and at first they will be able to perceive only shadows and reflexions in the water; then they will recognize the moon and the stars, and will at length behold the sun in his own proper place as he is. Last of all they will conclude: This is he who gives us the year and the seasons, and is the author of all that we see. How will they rejoice in passing from darkness to light! How worthless to them will seem the honours and glories of the den or cave out of which they came! And now imagine further that they descend into their old habitations. In that underground dwelling they will not see as well as their fellows, and will not be able to compete with them in the measurement of the shadows on the wall; there will be many jokes about the man who went on a visit to the sun and lost his eyes; and if those imprisoned there find any one trying to set free and enlighten one of their number, they will put him to death if they can catch him.
1 τον γούν βέλτιστον των ανθρωπίνων λόγων λαβόντα και δυσεξελεγκτότατον, επί τούτου οχούμενον, ώσπερ επί σχεδίας, κινδυνεύοντα διαπλεύσαι τον βίον, ει μή τις δύναιτο ασφαλέστερον και ακινδυνότερον επί βεβαιοτέρου οχήματος, λόγου θείου τινός, διαπορευθήναι,
Now in this allegory, the cave or den is the world of sight, the fire is the sun, the way upwards is the way to knowledge; and in the world of knowledge the Idea of Good is last seen and with difficulty, but, when seen, is inferred to be the author of good and right, parent of the lord of light in this world and of truth and understanding in the other. He who attains to the beatific vision is always going upwards; he is unwilling to descend into political assemblies and courts of law; for his eyes are apt to blink at the images or shadows of images which they behold in them; he cannot enter into the ideas of
2 those who have never in their lives understood the relation of the shadow to the substance. Now blindness is of two kinds, and may be caused either by passing out of darkness into light, or out of light into darkness, and a man of sense will distinguish between them, and the blindness which arises from fulness of light he will deem blessed, and pity the other. There is a further lesson taught by this parable of ours. Some persons fancy that instruction is like giving eyes to the blind, but we say that the faculty of sight was always there, and that the soul only requires to be turned round towards the light. And this is conversion : other virtues are not innate but acquired by exercise like bodily habits; but intelligence has a diviner life and is indestructible, turning either to good or evil according to the direction given. Did you never observe how the mind of a clever rogue peers out of lis eyes, and the more clearly he sees, the more evil he does ? Now, if you take such an one and cut away from him the leaden weights which drag him down and keep the eye of the soul fixed on the ground, the same faculty in him will be turned round, and he will behold the truth as