Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Plato
Pages of republic (books 6 - 10)



Previous | Next
                  

republic (books 6 - 10)   


the name of evil to the life which will make his soul more un-
just, and good to the life which will make his soul more just;
all else he will disregard. For we have seen and know that this
is the best choice both in life and after death. A man must
take with him into the world below an adamantine faith in truth
and right, that there too he may be undazzled by the desire of
wealth or the other allurements of evil, lest, coming upon tyran-
nies and similar villanies, he do irremediable wrongs to others
and suffer yet worse himself; but let him know how to choose
the mean and avoid the extremes on either side, as far as possi-
ble, not only in this life but in all that which is to come. For
this is the way of happiness.

And according to the report of the messenger from the other
world this was what the prophet said at the time: "Even for
the last comer, if he chooses wisely and will live diligently, there
is appointed a happy and not undesirable existence. Let not
him who chooses first be careless, and let not the last despair."
And when he had spoken, he who had the first choice came for-
ward and in a moment chose the greatest tyranny; his mind
having been darkened by folly and sensuality, he had not
thought out the whole matter before he chose, and did not at
first sight perceive that he was fated, among other evils, to de-
vour his own children. But when he had time to reflect, and
saw what was in the lot, he began to beat his breast and lament
over his choice, forgetting the proclamation of the prophet;
for, instead of throwing the blame of his misfortune on himself,
he accused chance and the gods, and everything rather than
himself. Now he was one of those who came from heaven, and
in a former life had dwelt in a well-ordered State, but his virtue
was a matter of habit only, and he had no philosophy. And
it was true of others who were similarly overtaken, that the
greater number of them came from heaven and therefore they
had never been schooled by trial, whereas the pilgrims WhO
came from earth, having themselves suffered and seen others
suffer, were not in a hurry to choose. And owing to this inex-
perience of theirs, and also because the lot was a chance, many
of the souls exchanged a good destiny for an evil or an evil for
a good. For if a man had always on his arrival in this world
dedicated himself from the first to sound philosophy, and had
been moderately fortunate in the number of the lot, he might,
as the messenger reported, be happy here, and also his journey
to another life and return to this, instead of being rough and
underground, would be smooth and heavenly. Most curious,
he said, was the spectacle--sad and laughable and strange; for
the choice of the souls was in most cases based on their experi-
ence of a previous life. There he saw the soul which had once
been Orpheus choosing the life of a swan out of enmity to
the race of women, hating to be born of a woman because they
had been his murderers; he beheld also the soul of Thamyras
choosing the life of a nightingale; birds, on the other hand,
like the swans and other musicians, wanting to be men. The
soul which obtained the twentieth lot chose the life of a lion,
and this was the soul of Ajax the son of Telamon, who would
not be a man, remembering the injustice which was done him
in the judgment about the arms. The next was Agamemnon,
who took the life of an eagle, because, like Ajax, he hated
human nature by reason of his sufferings. About the middle
came the lot of Atalanta; she, seeing the great fame of an ath-
lete, was unable to resist the temptation: and after her there
followed the soul of Epeus the son of Panopeus passing into
the nature of a woman cunning in the arts; and far away among
the last who chose, the soul of the jester Thersites was putting
on the form of a monkey. There came also the soul of Odys-

Previous | Next
Site Search