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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Plato Bilingual Anthology : SEARCHING FOR THE THINGS' REASON

from Politicus, * 285.d-286.b, Theaetetus * 155.d, 173c-176a, translated by B. Jowett

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UT PEOPLE seem to forget that some things have sensible images, which are readily known, and can be easily pointed out when any one desires to answer an enquirer without any trouble or argument; whereas the greatest and highest truths have no outward image of themselves visible to man, which he who wishes to satisfy the soul of the enquirer can adapt to the eye of sense, and therefore we ought to train ourselves to give and accept a rational account of them; for immaterial things, which are the noblest and greatest, are shown only in thought and idea, and in no other way, and all that we are now saying is said for the sake of them. Moreover, there is always less difficulty in fixing the mind on small matters than on great.

μελετᾶν λόγον ἑκάστου δοῦναι καὶ δέξασθαι

ἀλλ΄ οἶμαι τοὺς πλείστους λέληθεν ὅτι τοῖς μὲν τῶν ὄντων ῥᾳδίως καταμαθεῖν αἰσθηταί τινες ὁμοιότητες πεφύκασιν͵ ἃς οὐδὲν χαλεπὸν δηλοῦν͵ ὅταν αὐτῶν τις βουληθῇ τῷ λόγον αἰτοῦντι περί του μὴ μετὰ πραγμάτων ἀλλὰ χωρὶς λόγου ῥᾳδίως ἐνδείξασθαι· τοῖς δ΄ αὖ μεγίστοις οὖσι καὶ τιμιωτάτοις οὐκ ἔστιν εἴδωλον οὐδὲν πρὸς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους εἰργασμένον ἐναργῶς͵ οὗ δειχθέντος τὴν τοῦ πυνθανομένου ψυχὴν ὁ βουλόμενος ἀποπληρῶσαι͵ πρὸς τῶν αἰσθήσεών τινα προσαρμόττων͵ ἱκανῶς πληρώσει. διὸ δεῖ μελετᾶν λόγον ἑκάστου δυνατὸν εἶναι δοῦναι καὶ δέξασθαι· τὰ γὰρ ἀσώματα͵ κάλλιστα ὄντα καὶ μέγιστα͵ λόγῳ μόνον ἄλλῳ δὲ οὐδενὶ σαφῶς δείκνυται͵ τούτων δὲ ἕνεκα πάντ΄ ἐστὶ τὰ νῦν λεγόμενα. ῥᾴων δ΄ ἐν τοῖς ἐλάττοσιν ἡ μελέτη παντὸς πέρι μᾶλλον ἢ περὶ τὰ μείζω.

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