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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

Plato Bilingual Anthology : WISDOM

from the 7th Epistle, * 341b-345a, translated by B. Jowett

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Page 3

For everything that exists there are three instruments by which the knowledge of it is necessarily imparted; fourth, there is the knowledge itself, and, as fifth, we must count the thing itself which is known and truly exists. The first is the name, the, second the definition, the third. the image, and the fourth the knowledge. If you wish to learn what I mean, take these in the case of one instance, and so understand them in the case of all. A circle is a thing spoken of, and its name is that very word which we have just uttered. The second thing belonging to it is its definition, made up names and verbal forms. For that which has the name "round," "annular," or, "circle," might be defined as that which has the distance from its circumference to its centre everywhere equal. Third, comes that which is drawn and rubbed out again, or turned on a lathe and broken up-none of which things can happen to the circle itself-to which the other things, mentioned have reference; for it is something of a different order from them. Fourth, comes knowledge, intelligence and right opinion about these things. Under this one head we must group everything which has its existence, not in words nor in bodily shapes, but in souls-from which it is dear that it is something different from the nature of the circle itself and from the three things mentioned before. Of these things intelligence comes closest in kinship and likeness to the fifth, and the others are farther distant.

Ἔστιν τῶν ὄντων ἑκάστῳ͵ δι΄ ὧν τὴν ἐπιστήμην ἀνάγκη παραγίγνεσθαι͵ τρία͵ τέταρτον δ΄ αὐτή, πέμπτον δ΄ αὐτὸ τιθέναι δεῖ ὃ δὴ γνωστόν τε καὶ ἀληθῶς ἐστιν ὄν, ἓν μὲν ὄνομα͵ δεύτερον δὲ λόγος͵ τὸ δὲ τρίτον εἴδωλον͵ τέταρτον δὲ ἐπιστήμη. περὶ ἓν οὖν λαβὲ βουλόμενος μαθεῖν τὸ νῦν λεγόμενον͵ καὶ πάντων οὕτω πέρι νόησον. κύκλος ἐστίν τι λεγόμενον͵ ᾧ τοῦτ΄ αὐτό ἐστιν ὄνομα ὃ νῦν ἐφθέγμεθα. λόγος δ΄ αὐτοῦ τὸ δεύτερον͵ ἐξ ὀνομάτων καὶ ῥημάτων συγ κείμενος· τὸ γὰρ ἐκ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἐπὶ τὸ μέσον ἴσον ἀπέχον πάντῃ͵ λόγος ἂν εἴη ἐκείνου ᾧπερ στρογγύλον καὶ περιφερὲς ὄνομα καὶ κύκλος. τρίτον δὲ τὸ ζωγραφούμενόν τε καὶ ἐξαλειφόμενον καὶ τορνευόμενον καὶ ἀπολλύμενον· ὧν αὐτὸς ὁ κύκλος͵ ὃν πέρι πάντ΄ ἐστὶν ταῦτα͵ οὐδὲν πάσχει͵ τούτων ὡς ἕτερον ὄν. τέταρτον δὲ ἐπιστήμη καὶ νοῦς ἀληθής τε δόξα περὶ ταῦτ΄ ἐστίν· ὡς δὲ ἓν τοῦτο αὖ πᾶν θετέον͵ οὐκ ἐν φωναῖς οὐδ΄ ἐν σωμάτων σχήμασιν ἀλλ΄ ἐν ψυχαῖς ἐνόν͵ ᾧ δῆλον ἕτερόν τε ὂν αὐτοῦ τοῦ κύκλου τῆς φύσεως τῶν τε ἔμπροσθεν λεχθέντων τριῶν. τούτων δὲ ἐγγύτατα μὲν συγγενείᾳ καὶ ὁμοιότητι τοῦ πέμπτου νοῦς πεπλησίακεν͵ τἆλλα δὲ πλέον ἀπέχει.

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