Page images

sophers. The great difficulty is to find the requisite qualifications of mind united in one person. Quickness of apprehension and a retentive memory, vivacity and application, gentleness and magnanimity, rarely go together.

P. 505. The idea of the supreme good is the foundation of philosophy, without which all acquisitions are useless. The cause of knowledge and of truth is compared to light; truth, to the power which bodies have of reflecting light, or of becoming visible; and the sovereign good itself is compared to the sun, the lord and father of light.


P. 509. The author of being is superiour to all being. P. 510. There are different degrees of certainty in the objects of our understanding.2

1 Пaтηρ και Kupios. Vid. Plat. Epist. 6. et Epist. 2. p. 312. et Macrob. L. 1. c. 2.

2 See Aristot. Metaphys. on these opinions of Plato, L. 1. p. 338. and L. 6. p. 365.


Ρ. 499. Εν βασιλείαις οντων ὑιεσιν, η αυτοις.] I do not doubt, but that this was meant as a compliment and incitement to the younger Dionysius (See Plato Epist. 7. p. 327), of whom both Dion and Plato had once entertained great hopes; and I understand what follows, p. 502, Αλλα μεν εις ἱκανος γενομενος, &c. in the same manner. Hence it seems that this part of the dialogue was written after his first voyage to Sicily, and probably not long before his second, about Ol. 103, 1, when the elder Dionysius was just dead.

504. Τριττα ειδη ψυχης.] See Lib. 4. Πολιτ. p. 439. et sequent.

505. Ουκ έχουσι δειξαι τις φρονησις. ] Vid. Platonis Philebum, passim.




P. 514. The state of mankind is compared to that of persons confined in a vast cavern from their birth, with their legs fettered, and with their heads so placed in a machine that they cannot turn them to the light, which shines full in at the entrance of the cave, nor can they see such bodies as are continually in motion, passing and repassing behind them, but only the shadows of them, as they fall on the sides of the grotto directly before their eyes.

If any one should set them free from this confinement, oblige them to walk, and drag them from their cavern into open day, they would hang back or move


Ρ. 514. Εν δεσμοις.] The machine called Κυφων οι Κλοιον, and the Πεντεσυριγγον ξυλον, which served at once as a pillory and a pair of stocks, confining at the same time the head, arms, and legs of the prisoner, was commonly used in Greece. See Aristophan. Equites. v. 1046.

Ib. Ta Tapappayμата.] A screen or fence of three or four feet in height, still in use round the stages of mountebanks and jugglers.

with unwillingness or pain; their eyes would be dazzled with the brightness of each new object, and comprehend nothing distinctly; they would long for their shadows and darkness again, till, being more habituated to light, they would first be brought to gaze on the images of things reflected in the water, or elsewhere; then on the bodies themselves; then on the skies, on the stars and the moon, and gradually on the sun himself, whom they would learn to be the source and the author of all these beautiful appearances.

If any thing should induce one of these persons to descend again into his native cavern, his eyes would not for a long time be reconciled to darkness, his old fellow-prisoners would treat him as stupid and blind, would say that he had spoiled his eyes in those upper regions, and grow angry with him, if he proposed to set them at liberty.

P. 519. An early good education is the only thing which can turn the eyes of our mind from the darkness and uncertainty of popular opinion to the clear light of truth. It is the interest of the publick neither to suffer unlettered and unphilosophick minds to meddle with government, nor to allow men of knowledge to give themselves up for their whole life to contemplation, as the first will have no principle to act upon, and the others no practice nor inclination to business.

P. 522. The use of the mathematicks,1 in education, is principally to abstract the mind from sensible and

1 Arithmetick and geometry, to which studies astronomy, and the mathematical musick, and lastly logick to crown the whole, are to succeed. See also Phileb. p. 58 and 61.

material objects, and to turn it to contemplate certain general and immutable truths whence it may aspire to the knowledge of the supreme good, who is immutable, and is the object only of the understanding.

The great improvement of a mind versed in these sciences which quicken and enlarge the apprehension, and inure us to intense application, and what are their practical uses, particularly in military knowledge, is eloquently described.

P. 537. The Pulakes are to be initiated in mathematical knowledge and studies before seventeen, and for three years more are to be confined to their continual and necessary1 exercises of the body, that is, till about twenty years of age; they are not to enter upon logick till after thirty, in which they are to continue five years.

Knowledge is not to be implanted in a free-born mind by force and violence, but by gentleness accompanied with art and by every kind of 2 invitation.

The dangerous situation of the mind, when it is quitting the first prejudices of education and has not

1 When they are to be presented with a general view of the sciences, of which they have hitherto tasted separately, and are to compare them all together.

2 Among which honour is the most prevailing. See p. 551.


P. 531. Aλašovelas Xopdwv.] Terms of art used by the professed musicians.


Ib. Tov pov.] A musical prelude to introduce a more regular composition, called ò Nouos "Oyun cantus est, et citharœdi pauca illa, quæ, antequam legitimum carmen inchoent, emerendi favoris gratiâ canunt, prooemium vocaverunt." Quintil. L. 4.

yet discovered the true principles of action, is here admirably described. It is compared to a youth brought up in affluence (and surrounded by flatterers) by persons who have passed hitherto for his parents, but are not really so; when he has found out the imposition, he will neglect those whom he has hitherto obeyed and honoured, and will naturally incline to the advice of his flatterers, till he can discover those persons to whom he owes his duty and his birth.

The levity, the heat, and the vanity of our first youth make it an improper time to be trusted with reasoning and disputation, which is only fit for a mind grown cooler and more settled by years; as old age on the other hand weakens the apprehension, and renders us incapable of application.

From thirty-five to fifty years of age the vλAKES are to be obliged to administer the publick affairs, and to act in the inferiour offices of the magistracy; after fifty they are to be admitted into the highest philosophy, the doctrine of the supreme good, and are in their turn to submit to bear the superiour offices of the state.


c. 7. Vid. et de Legibus, L. 3. p. 700. Noμovs de (avтo тOÛTO τ' ουνομα) εκαλοῦν, ωδην ὡς τινα ετεραν επελεγον δε και κιθαρωδικους. And in L. 4. p. 722. Και δη που κιθαρωδικής ωδης λεγομενων Νόμων, και πασης μουσης, προοιμια θαυμαστως εσπουδασμενα προκειται.

P. 540. AEкETWv.] This is undoubtedly a false reading for ἑξηκονταετων οι ἑβδομηκονταετων ; so that, till some MSS. inform us better, we must remain in the dark as to the age, when Plato would permit his statesmen to retire wholly from the world.

« PreviousContinue »