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phaedrus   



only retain an adequate remembrance of them; and they, when they

behold here any image of that other world, are rapt in amazement;

but they are ignorant of what this rapture means, because they do

not clearly perceive. For there is no light of justice or temperance

or any of the higher ideas which are precious to souls in the

earthly copies of them: they are seen through a glass dimly; and there

are few who, going to the images, behold in them the realities, and

these only with difficulty. There was a time when with the rest of the

happy band they saw beauty shining in brightness-we philosophers

following in the train of Zeus, others in company with other gods; and

then we beheld the beatific vision and were initiated into a mystery

which may be truly called most blessed, celebrated by us in our

state of innocence, before we had any experience of evils to come,

when we were admitted to the sight of apparitions innocent and

simple and calm and happy, which we beheld shining impure light,

pure ourselves and not yet enshrined in that living tomb which we

carry about, now that we are imprisoned in the body, like an oyster in

his shell. Let me linger over the memory of scenes which have passed

away.

But of beauty, I repeat again that we saw her there shining in

company with the celestial forms; and coming to earth we find her here

too, shining in clearness through the clearest aperture of sense.

For sight is the most piercing of our bodily senses; though not by

that is wisdom seen; her loveliness would have been transporting if

there had been a visible image of her, and the other ideas, if they

had visible counterparts, would be equally lovely. But this is the

privilege of beauty, that being the loveliest she is also the most

palpable to sight. Now he who is not newly initiated or who has become

corrupted, does not easily rise out of this world to the sight of true

beauty in the other; he looks only at her earthly namesake, and

instead of being awed at the sight of her, he is given over to

pleasure, and like a brutish beast he rushes on to enjoy and beget; he

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