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phaedo   


up his head and seen, nor ever heard from one who had seen, this

region which is so much purer and fairer than his own. Now this is

exactly our case: for we are dwelling in a hollow of the earth, and

fancy that we are on the surface; and the air we call the heaven,

and in this we imagine that the stars move. But this is also owing

to our feebleness and sluggishness, which prevent our reaching the

surface of the air: for if any man could arrive at the exterior limit,

or take the wings of a bird and fly upward, like a fish who puts his

head out and sees this world, he would see a world beyond; and, if the

nature of man could sustain the sight, he would acknowledge that

this was the place of the true heaven and the true light and the

true stars. For this earth, and the stones, and the entire region

which surrounds us, are spoilt and corroded, like the things in the

sea which are corroded by the brine; for in the sea too there is

hardly any noble or perfect growth, but clefts only, and sand, and

an endless slough of mud: and even the shore is not to be compared

to the fairer sights of this world. And greater far is the superiority

of the other. Now of that upper earth which is under the heaven, I can

tell you a charming tale, Simmias, which is well worth hearing.

And we, Socrates, replied Simmias, shall be charmed to listen.

The tale, my friend, he said, is as follows: In the first place, the

earth, when looked at from above, is like one of those balls which

have leather coverings in twelve pieces, and is of divers colors, of

which the colors which painters use on earth are only a sample. But

there the whole earth is made up of them, and they are brighter far

and clearer than ours; there is a purple of wonderful luster, also the

radiance of gold, and the white which is in the earth is whiter than

any chalk or snow. Of these and other colors the earth is made up, and

they are more in number and fairer than the eye of man has ever

seen; and the very hollows (of which I was speaking) filled with air

and water are seen like light flashing amid the other colors, and have

a color of their own, which gives a sort of unity to the variety of

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