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to give relief to feeling in imaginative expression. The explanation offered in the Vision of Er is that the Soul, before each incarnation, is free, within certain limits, to choose, and as a matter of fact does choose, its station in life whether it be the station of a tyrant with large opportunity of doing evil, or that of a private person with narrow opportunity. In this way the mystery of the Gorgias Myth is “ explained explained by another Myth.

So much for the “Philosophy” of the Gorgias Myth-S0 much for the great problems raised in it. Now let me add a few notes on some other points, for the better appreciation of the Myth itself as concrete product of creative imagination.



The judged are marked (Gorg. 526 B) as “corrigible” or “incorrigible." So, too, in the Myth of Er (Rep. 614 c) those sent to Heaven have tablets fixed in front, those sent to Tartarus tablets fixed behind, on which their deeds and sentences are recorded. The idea of tablets may have been derived from the Orphic custom of placing in the graves of the dead tablets describing the way to be taken and the things to be done on the journey through the other world.

Before Dante enters Purgatory the Angel at the Gate marks him with “ seven P's, to denote the seven sins (peccata) of which he was to be cleansed in his passage through Purgatory”

Seven times
The letter that denotes the inward stain
He on my forehead, with the blunted point
Of his drawn sword, inscribed. And “Look,” he cried,

“ When entered, that thou wash these scars away.” ? The judgment-seat of Minos, Rhadamanthys, and Aeacus is εν τω λειμώνι, εν τη τριόδω, εξ ης φέρετoν τω οδώ, η


1 See Comparetti, J. H. S. iii. 111, and Dieterich, Nekyin, 85, on the gold tablets of Thurii and Petelia ; and cf. p. 156 ff. infra. The Orphic custom itself may have come from Egypt, where texts from the Book of the Dead were buried with the corpse. The Book of the Dead was a guide-book for the Ka, or Double, which is apt to wander from the body and lose its way. See Jevons' Introduction to the History of Religion, p. 323, and Flinders Petrie's Egyptian Tales, second series, p. 124.

2 Purg. ix. 101, and see Cary's note ad loc.

μεν εις μακάρων νήσους, ή δ' είς Τάρταρον (Gorg. 524 Α). The topography of this passage corresponds with that of Rep. 614 c ff., where, however, it is added that the netuóv of the judgment-seat is also the spot in which the souls, returned from their thousand years' sojourn in Tartarus and Heaven (i.e. the Islands of the Blessed), meet, and rest, before going on to the place where they choose their new lives before drinking of the water of Lethe. In the Gorgias the two ways mentioned are (1) that to Tartarus, and (2) that to the Islands of the Blessed; and the leluóv of judgment is “at the parting of the ways”-év Tpióda,—no reference being made to a third way leading to the throne of Necessity, and thence to the Plain of Lethe. In the parallel passage in Rep. 614 c ff. the ways are not mentioned as three; but they are three-(1) the way to Tartarus, (2) the way to Heaven, and (3) the way to the Plain of Lethe-all three diverging from the λειμών. .

The “ Three Ways," as indicated in the Myth of Er,-one to Tartarus, one to Heaven, and the third to Lethe (a river of the surface of the Earth),—constantly occur in the literature which reflects Orphic influence. They even appear in the folk-lore represented by the story of Thomas the Rhymer :

Light down, light down now, true Thomas,
And lean

upon my

knee :
Abide, and rest a little space,
And I will show you ferlies three.

Oh see ye not yon narrow road,
So thick beset wi' thorns and briars ?
That is the path of righteousness,
Though after it but few inquires.

And see not ye that braid braid road,
That lies across the lily leven ?
That is the path of wickedness,
Though some call it the road to Heaven.

And see not ye that bonny road,
That winds about the fernie brae ?
That is the road to fair Elf-land,
Where thou and I this night maun gae.

See Dietericb, Nekyia, 89, 90, and especially Rohde, Psy. ii. 221, note.

The three parts of the Divina Commedia correspond, in the main, to the “Three Ways." The theological doctrine of Purgatory, to which Dante gives such noble imaginative expression, is alien to the Hebrew spirit, and came to the Church mainly from the Platonic doctrine of κάθαρσιςespecially as the doctrine found expression in Eschatological Myths reflecting Orphic teaching.

We come now to the Myth of Er (Rep. 614 A ff.), the greatest of Plato's Eschatological Myths, whether the fulness of its matter or the splendour of its form be considered.

See Thompson's note on Gorg. 525 B.




The subject of the Republic is Justice that character in the individual which manifests itself in the steady performance of Duty-Duty being what a man does for the maintenance of a certain Type of Social Life, the good of which he has been educated to identify with his own good.

What, then, is this Type of Social Life, in living for which a man does his Duty and finds his true Happiness?

The Republic is mainly concerned with the description of it, and of the Education which fits men for it; and as the Dialogue proceeds, the reader, who enters into the feelings of the dramatis personae, becomes, with them, more and more convinced that true Happiness, in this world, is to be found only in the steady performance of Duty in and for a State ordered according to the spirit, if not according to the letter, of the Constitution described by Socrates. In this world, certainly, the man who does his Duty, as Socrates defines it, has his great reward. He is 729 times happier than the man who, despising the law of Duty, has fallen under the tyranny of Pleasure.

But a greater reward awaits the Righteous man, and greater torments are prepared for the Unrighteous man, in the world to come.

For the Soul is immortal ; and an ontological proof of its immortality is given.

Then, as though this proof were insufficient, the Republic ends with the Myth of Er (told by Socrates), which proves, indeed, nothing for the Understanding, but visualises, for the Imagination, the hope of the Heart.

Republic 613 E-621D

"Α μεν τοίνυν, ήν δ' εγώ, ζωντι το δικαίω παρά θεών 614 τε και ανθρώπων αθλά τε και μισθοί και δώρα γίγνεται

προς εκείνους τους αγαθοίς οίς αυτή παρείχετο ή δικαιοσύνη, τοιαύτ' αν είη. Και μάλ', έφη, καλά τε και βέβαια. Ταύτα τοίνυν, ήν δ' εγώ, ουδέν έστι πλήθει ουδε μεγέθει προς εκείνα, και τελευτήσαντα εκάτερον περιμένει. χρή δ' αυτά ακούσαι, ίνα τελέως εκάτερος αυτών απειλήφη τα υπό του

λόγου οφειλόμενα ακούσαι. Λέγοις άν, έφη, ως ου πολλά Β άλλ' ήδιον ακούοντι. 'Αλλ' ου μέντοι σοι, ήν δ' εγώ, 'Αλκί

νου γε απόλογον έρω, αλλ' άλκίμου μεν άνδρός, Ηρός του 'Αρμενίου, το γένος Παμφύλου: ός ποτε εν πολέμω τελευτήσας, αναιρεθέντων δεκαταίων των νεκρών ήδη διεφθαρμένων, υγιής μεν ανηρέθη, κομισθείς δ' οίκαδε μέλλων θάπτεσθαι, δωδεκαταίος επί τη πυρά

τη πυρά κείμενος ανεβίω, αναβιούς δ' έλεγεν & εκεί ίδοι, έφη δε, επειδή ου εκβήναι στην ψυχήν, πορεύεσθαι μετά πολλών, και αφικνείσθαι σφάς

εις τόπον τινά δαιμόνιον, εν ω της τε γής δύο είναι χάσματα έχoμένω αλλήλοιν και του ουρανού αυ εν τώ άνω άλλα καταντικρύ. δικαστάς δε μεταξύ τούτων καθήσθαι, ούς, επειδή διαδικάσειαν, τους μεν δικαίους κελεύειν πορεύεσθαι την εις δεξιάν τε και άνω διά του ουρανού, σημεία περιάψαντας των δεδικασμένων εν τώ πρόσθεν, τους δε αδίκους

την εις αριστεράν τε και κάτω, έχοντας και τούτους εν τω D όπισθεν σημεία πάντων ων έπραξαν. εαυτού δε προσελ.

θόντος ειπείν, ότι δέοι αυτόν άγγελον ανθρώποις γενέσθαι

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