republic (books 6 - 10)
of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came
from the passing shadow?
No question, he replied.
To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the
shadows of the images.
That is certain.
And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if
the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At
first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to
stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look toward the
light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and
he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state
he had seen the shadows; and then conceive someone saying to
him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now,
when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned
toward more real existence, he has a clearer vision--what will
be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor
is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to
name them--will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that
the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects
which are now shown to him?
And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he
not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to
take refuge in the objects of vision which he can see, and which
he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which
are now being shown to him?
True, he said.
And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up
a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he is forced into
the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and
irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be daz-
zled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are
now called realities.
Not all in a moment, he said.
He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper
world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflec-
tions of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects
themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and
the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and
the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun
Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflec-
tions of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper
place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the
season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the
visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which