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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Plato Bilingual Anthology : PAIDEIA - OUT OF THE CAVE

from Politeia, * 514a-518d, translated by B. Jowett
* Parts translated by Elpenor in <angle brackets>

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Page 2

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners. Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave? True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads? And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows? Yes, he said. And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them? Very true. And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow? No question, he replied. To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images. That is certain.

Ἄτοπον͵ ἔφη͵ λέγεις εἰκόνα καὶ δεσμώτας ἀτόπους. Ὁμοίους ἡμῖν͵ ἦν δ΄ ἐγώ· τοὺς γὰρ τοιούτους πρῶτον μὲν ἑαυτῶν τε καὶ ἀλλήλων οἴει ἄν τι ἑωρακέναι ἄλλο πλὴν τὰς σκιὰς τὰς ὑπὸ τοῦ πυρὸς εἰς τὸ καταντικρὺ αὐτῶν τοῦ σπηλαίου προσπιπτούσας; Πῶς γάρ͵ ἔφη͵ εἰ ἀκινήτους γε τὰς κεφαλὰς ἔχειν ἠναγκασμένοι εἶεν διὰ βίου; Τί δὲ τῶν παραφερομένων; οὐ ταὐτὸν τοῦτο; Τί μήν; Εἰ οὖν διαλέγεσθαι οἷοί τ΄ εἶεν πρὸς ἀλλήλους͵ οὐ ταῦτα ἡγῇ ἂν τὰ ὄντα αὐτοὺς νομίζειν ἅπερ ὁρῷεν; Ἀνάγκη. Τί δ΄ εἰ καὶ ἠχὼ τὸ δεσμωτήριον ἐκ τοῦ καταντικρὺ ἔχοι; ὁπότε τις τῶν παριόντων φθέγξαιτο͵ οἴει ἂν ἄλλο τι αὐτοὺς ἡγεῖσθαι τὸ φθεγγόμενον ἢ τὴν παριοῦσαν σκιάν; Μὰ Δί΄ οὐκ ἔγωγ΄͵ ἔφη. Παντάπασι δή͵ ἦν δ΄ ἐγώ͵ οἱ τοιοῦτοι οὐκ ἂν ἄλλο τι νομίζοιεν τὸ ἀληθὲς ἢ τὰς τῶν σκευαστῶν σκιάς. Πολλὴ ἀνάγκη͵ ἔφη.

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