Yes, Socrates, said Parmenides; that is because you are still young;
the time will come, if I am not mistaken, when philosophy will have
a firmer grasp of you, and then you will not despise even the
meanest things; at your age, you are too much disposed to regard
opinions of men. But I should like to know whether you mean that there
are certain ideas of which all other things partake, and from which
they derive their names; that similars, for example, become similar,
because they partake of similarity; and great things become great,
because they partake of greatness; and that just and beautiful
things become just and beautiful, because they partake of justice
Yes, certainly, said Socrates that is my meaning.
Then each individual partakes either of the whole of the idea or
else of a part of the idea? Can there be any other mode of
There cannot be, he said.
Then do you think that the whole idea is one, and yet, being one, is
in each one of the many?
Why not, Parmenides? said Socrates.
Because one and the same thing will exist as a whole at the same
time in many separate individuals, and will therefore be in a state of
separation from itself.
Nay, but the idea may be like the day which is one and the same in
many places at once, and yet continuous with itself; in this way
each idea may be one; and the same in all at the same time.
I like your way, Socrates, of making one in many places at once. You
mean to say, that if I were to spread out a sail and cover a number of
men, there would be one whole including many-is not that your meaning?
I think so.
And would you say that the whole sail includes each man, or a part
of it only, and different parts different men?