Then, Socrates, the ideas themselves will be divisible, and things
which participate in them will have a part of them only and not the
whole idea existing in each of them?
That seems to follow.
Then would you like to say, Socrates, that the one idea is really
divisible and yet remains one?
Certainly not, he said.
Suppose that you divide absolute greatness, and that of the many
great things, each one is great in virtue of a portion of greatness
less than absolute greatness-is that conceivable?
Or will each equal thing, if possessing some small portion of
equality less than absolute equality, be equal to some other thing
by virtue of that portion only?
Or suppose one of us to have a portion of smallness; this is but a
part of the small, and therefore the absolutely small is greater; if
the absolutely small be greater, that to which the part of the small
is added will be smaller and not greater than before.
Then in what way, Socrates, will all things participate in the
ideas, if they are unable to participate in them either as parts or
Indeed, he said, you have asked a question which is not easily
Well, said Parmenides, and what do you say of another question?
I imagine that the way in which you are led to assume one idea of
each kind is as follows: -You see a number of great objects, and
when you look at them there seems to you to be one and the same idea
(or nature) in them all; hence you conceive of greatness as one.
Very true, said Socrates.