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phaedrus   



also a soul which are united throughout all time. Let that, however,

be as God wills, and be spoken of acceptably to him. And now let us

ask the reason why the soul loses her wings!

The wing is the corporeal element which is most akin to the

divine, and which by nature tends to soar aloft and carry that which

gravitates downwards into the upper region, which is the habitation of

the gods. The divine is beauty, wisdom, goodness, and the like; and by

these the wing of the soul is nourished, and grows apace; but when fed

upon evil and foulness and the opposite of good, wastes and falls

away. Zeus, the mighty lord, holding the reins of a winged chariot,

leads the way in heaven, ordering all and taking care of all; and

there follows him the array of gods and demigods, marshalled in eleven

bands; Hestia alone abides at home in the house of heaven; of the rest

they who are reckoned among the princely twelve march in their

appointed order. They see many blessed sights in the inner heaven, and

there are many ways to and fro, along which the blessed gods are

passing, every one doing his own work; he may follow who will and can,

for jealousy has no place in the celestial choir. But when they go

to banquet and festival, then they move up the steep to the top of the

vault of heaven. The chariots of the gods in even poise, obeying the

rein, glide rapidly; but the others labour, for the vicious steed goes

heavily, weighing down the charioteer to the earth when his steed

has not been thoroughly trained:-and this is the hour of agony and

extremest conflict for the soul. For the immortals, when they are at

the end of their course, go forth and stand upon the outside of

heaven, and the revolution of the spheres carries them round, and they

behold the things beyond. But of the heaven which is above the

heavens, what earthly poet ever did or ever will sing worthily? It

is such as I will describe; for I must dare to speak the truth, when

truth is my theme. There abides the very being with which true

knowledge is concerned; the colourless, formless, intangible

essence, visible only to mind, the pilot of the soul. The divine

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