PLATO'S REPUBLIC TRANSLATED BY DITIES AND VAUGHAN.. Ma. COBDEN, blind Sampson that he is, once made sport for the Philistines by declaring his opinion that a single number of the Times newspaper contained more valuable knowledge than all the works of Thuoydides. To make the assertion true, there must be a large negative value in those other works of Thuoydides of which the Member for the West Riding has the sole andexclusive secret; for the single work of this author with which the rest of the world is acquainted, the history °foa portion of the Peloponnesian War, is not only a record of most important and interesting facts, but a treasury of political philosophy available for ever, because founded on the experience and reflection of a wise thinker and accomplished practical man. We fear that this plea can only be put in a modi- fied form in bar of a similar assertion respecting the comparative value of' a modern newspaper and all the works of him who has been called with heartfelt sincerity "the divine Plato." The facts that he records are few, and only available to help out an already tolerably complete outline of the political history of his times; while his reflections soar for the most part into a region from which modern politicians shrink as a prescient ox from the slaughterhouse, where Parliamentary eloquence is put to the ques- tion and rapidly extinguished in inarticulate meanings, and (heart- rending fact!) majorities and minorities are not held to be at all decisive of any the minutest point. Yet, pace Mr. Cobden, we venture to congratulate those classes whom he most especially aims at representing, that of late years they have been enabled to study the Dialogues of Plato in English, indifferent though it be ; and we now further congratulate them on the appearance of a really good, by which we mean a literal and elegant, translation of the greatest of those Dialogues, by two gentlemen in every way competent to fulfil the task whioh they have undertaken.
Strong reasons may be urged why persons of whose education the
study of the ancient languages has formed no part should derive peculiar advantage from the careful perusal of the principal works of ancient poetry and philosophy, especially the latter, as they do not suffer so much in translation from change of form. The most obvious is, that the technical terms of our modern philosophy are current in conversation, are learned like other words by hearsay, and come to be used like other words without any conscious and definite effort to realize the mental states, active or passive, they were originally coined to represent. Thus, a person may skim us books or conversation the whole surface of our ethics and metaphy- sics without one clear glance into the realities of which they treat. An ancient work on philosophy will pull such a reader up at once. He finds himself in the midst of terms, phrases, and forms of reasoning, with which he is not familiar; and, if he is not content to go on without understanding what he reads, he must reflect, look inward upon his own mind, rouse his conceptive faculty into exer- cise, ask himself what each word means-' and whether he gain positive knowledge or not, he will have at least the benefit of a vigorous mental effort, and have given himself a practical exercise in the analysis of language, and therefore of nations. A repetition of such efforts will habituate him very soon, if his mind is origin- ally of a vigorous habit, to a like process with the words and phrases of modern books and conversation ; and thus, in gaining an acquaintance with the thoughts and sayings of men of old, he will also gain into the bargain a new mastery over the thoughts and words of his contemporaries. He will in fact be improved just as travelling improves a man, by having his eyes opened for the first time, through the strange things he sees abroad, to the equally wonderful though accustomed things that lie around him at home. Any foreign literature does this to a certain extent; but as all modern European nations are in somewhat the same stage of civi- lization, have a similar religion, and share more or less in the same general influence of ideas, the advantage of this sort to be gained from ancient literature is plainly much greater in degree.
Bat, apart from the training which ancient books in general
supply, the positive influence which Plato's writings have had upon philosophical inquiry in all succeeding times, renders an ac- quaintance with them highly important to any one who interests himself in the history, progress, and present state of philosophy. The principal antitheses of philosophy, the opposite poles of truth, which have attracted opposite classes of mina, and given rise to the formation of schools and systems, are found in Plato's Dia- logues as clearly stated, and as copiously illustrated, as they could be today in the lecture-rooms of Edinburgh, Paris, or Berlin. Plato may be said to have stood at the well-head, and to have dug the beginnings of those main channels in which the waters have flowed forth ever since, alas ! not often so brightly, not often so purely re- flective of sun and sky, as when they first burst from
"the olive grove of Academe Plato's retirement, where the Attic drd Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long."
Viewed, however, as an intellectual athlete, or as a man whose opinions and methods have powerfully influenced the speculations of all ages down to our own Plato has perhaps his match in Aris- totle especially if quantity ;mikes up for quality, and any number of logical heads will turn the balance against one grand soul, which, as the plant towards the sun, struggles upward instinctively towards the central light, and realizes even here, in this cavern of • The Republic of Plato. Translated into English. With an Introduction. Ananias, and Notes. By John Llewelyn Davies, M.A., and David James Vaughan. M.A., Fel- lows of Trinity College, Cambridge. Published by Macmillan and Co., Cambridge. our earthly life, God, Freedom, and Immortality. But look at the fine nature of the man as a whole; at his marvellous combination of gifts—his subtile analysis, his clear insight, his soaring imagi- nation, his sense of beauty, his aptness of illustration, his generous temper, his polished courtesy, his piquant irony, his profound pathos, all expressing themselves in a style at once graceful, vigorous, and majestic, doing for thought and feeling what style should always do but seldom does, pouring them into the mind as singing pours words, with their force and ex- pression unimpaired, fresh and living as they come from the soul of the speaker in the moment of creative passion. And such thought and feeling! Blend Kant and Goethe into one, and the
aids and appliances fought so well the battle of life; and there are moods of mind, surely not rare in our day, in which many of us may be thankful to draw strength and hope from the sources whence Socrates learned to die the death of a martyr, and Plato to live the life of what our German neighbours would call "a beauti- ful soul."
The special qualities of the translation which has been our ex- cuse for these general remarks, are close fidelity to the meaning of the original, neither adding nor omitting aught, and such easy and idiomatic English as might well pass for original composition. The effect is produced by an accurate knowledge of Greek,—words, eonstruction, and idiom, combined with the tasteful choice of Eng- lish words, and the graceful construction of English sentences, which is attributable to a familiarity with good English literature. The writers do not follow the most recent translator of the Repub- lic in rendering ALI, indeed, ai but, and 7s at least, nor in introduc- ing unheard-of constructions into the English language : on the other hand, they are not ignorant of common Greek constructions. The passage subjoined is a well-known one from the sixth book, on the Socratic method of argument. "Here Adeimantus interposed and said, It is true, Socrates, that no one can dispute these conclusions ; but still, every time that such theories are propounded by you, the hearers feel certain misgivings of the following kind. They fancy that, from want of practice in your method of question and an- swer, they are at each question led a little astray by the reasoning, until, at the close of the discussion, these little divergences are found to amount to a serious false step, which makes them contradict their original notions. And, as unskilful draught-players are in the end hemmed into a corner by the skilful, till they cannot make a move, just in the same way your hearers conceive themselves to be at last hemmed in and reduced to silence by this novel kind of draughts, played with words instead of counters. For they are not at all the more convinced that the conclusion to which they are brought is the true one. And, in saying this, I have the present occasion before my eye. For at this moment a person will tell you, that though at each ques- tion he cannot oppose you with words, yet in practice he sees that all the students of philosophy, who have devoted themselves to it for any length of time, instead of taking it up for educational purposes, and relinquishing it while still young, in most cases become exceedingly eccentric, not to say quite depraved, while even those who appear the most respectable are not- withstanding so far the worse for the pursuit which you commend, that they become useless to their country."
dexterous, themselves being unskilful, are in the end driven into a corner and cannot move a piece, so your hearers have nothing to say, being driven into a corner, at this different kind of play, not with the dice, but with, your reasonings ;—though the truth at least is not thus at all advanced,' &c. (Bohn, Vol. II. p. 173. By Henry. Davis, M.A.) The English reader will feel the vast difference of the two ver- sions; the classical scholar, on turning to the Greek, will compre- hend that Mr. Bohn's translator has failed to hold fast the clue through the tangled anacolutha of this sentence, simply through a somewhat disgraceful ignorance both of Plato's usages and of a by no means uncommon Greek construction of the nominative participle. Here is a piece of genuine Platonism from the same sixth book. "In the course of the discussion we have distinctly maintained the ex-
istente of a multiplicity of things that are beautiful and good, and so on. "True, we have.
"And also the existence of an essential beauty, and an essential good, and so on ; reducing all those things which before we regarded as manifold,. to a single form and a single entity in each case, and addressing each as an inde- pendent being.
"And we assert that the former address themselves to the eye, and not to
the pure reason ; whereas the forms address themselves to the reason, and not to the eye. " Certairdy. "Now with what part of ourselves do we see visible objects? "With the eyesight. "In the same way we hear sounds with the hearing and perceive every- thin =le with the other senses, do we not ? ,g • Y.
"Then said Adimantus: No one, indeed, Socrates, can contradict you on logous case, it. is right to regard light and vision as resembling the sun, but these points ; but all who from time to time hear you advancing what you wrong. to identify them with the sun ; so, in the case of science and truth, do at present, feel somehow thus ;—being led a little astray by your reason- it is right to regard both of them as resembling good, but wrong to identify lag on each question, through inexperience in this mode of question and either of them with good ; because, on the contrary, the quality of the good answer, when all these littles are collected together, they reckon at the close ought to have a still higher value set upon it. of the discussion that the mistake appears considerable, and the contrary of "That implies an inexpressible beauty, if it not only is the source of sci- their first concessions; and just as those who play at talus with such as are ence and truth, but also surpasses them in beauty ; for, I presume, you do the human and divine souls, and of the ultimate restoration of liar- visible. . . . . . mony to man's being and activity. If all this, and kindred topics of ancient speculation, with which wise men of old were wont to "You are right.
region of thought and action, and has made way for a more defi-
"Then have you noticed with what transcendent costliness the architect of the senses has wrought out the faculty of seeing and being seen ?
"Not exactly, he replied. "Well, then, look at it in this light. Is there any other kind of thing which the ear and the voice require, to enable the one to hear, and the oth4 to be heard, in the absence of which third thing the one will not hear, and the other will not be heard ?
"No, there is not. "And I believe that very few, if any, of the other senses require any such third thing. Can you mention one that does ? "No, I cannot. "But do you not perceive that, in the case of vision and visible objects, there is a demand for something additional ?
"How so ?
granting that vision is seated in the eye, and that the owner of it not mean by it pleasure."
We have but one fault to find with this book. The introduction is meagre and unsatisfactory ; not even noticing Aristotle's famous criticism. The writer is evidently capable of one far better, and the translation deserves the best that can be written. Were the book intended simply for classical readers, such an introduction would not be needed; but it is quite otherwise with the audience which probably will welcome it: classical students may at the same time take this translation with perfect confidence as a model of the style that is approved and the licence that is allowed In Cambridge classical examinations.
evidently alludes to the sun. "Then the relation subsisting between the eyesight and this deity is of the following nature, is it not?
"Neither the sight itself, nor the eye, which is the seat of sight, can be identified with the sun.
"Certainly not. "And yet, of all the organs of sensation, the eye, methinks, bears the closest resemblance to the sun.
"Yes, quite so. "Further, is not the faculty which the eye possesses dispensed to it from the sun and held by it as something adventitious ? "Certainly it is. "Then is it not also true, that the sun, though not identical with sight, nevertheless the cause of sight, and is moreover seen by its aid. "Yes, quite true. "Well then, I continued, believe that I meant the sun, when I spoke of the offspring of the chief good, begotten by it in a certain resemblance to it- self,—that is to say, bearing the same relation in the visible world to sight and its objects, which the chief good bears in the intellectual world to pure reason and its objects. "How so ? Be so good as to explain it to me more at length.
"Are you aware, that whenever a person makes an end of looking at ob- jects upon which the light of day is shedding colour, and looks instead at objects coloured by the light of the moon and stars, his eyes grow dim and appear almost blind, as if they were not the seat of distinct vision ?
I am fully aware of it.
"But whenever the same person looks at objects on which the EillII is shining, these very eyes, I believe, see clearly, and are evidently the seat of distinct vision ?
"Unquestionably it is so.
"Just in the same way understand the condition of the soul to be as fol- lows. Whenever it has fastened upon an object, over which truth and real existence are shining, it seizes that object by an act of reason, and knows it, and thus proves itself to be possessed of reason : but whenever it has fixed upon objects that are blent with darkness,—the world of birth and death,— then it rests in opinion, and its sight grows dim, as its opinions shift back- wards and forwards, and it has the appearance of being destitute of reason.
"True, it has. "Now, this power, which supplies the objects of real knowledge with the truth that is in them, and which renders to him who knows them the faculty of knowing them, you must consider to be the essential Form of Good, and yeu must regard it as the origin of science, and of truth, so far as the latter comes within the range of knowledge: and though knowledge and truth are both very beautiful things, you will be right in looking upon good as some-
Contrast with this the version most recently published, thing distinct from them, and even more beautiful. And just as, in the ana- "Then said Adimantus: No one, indeed, Socrates, can contradict you on logous case, it. is right to regard light and vision as resembling the sun, but these points ; but all who from time to time hear you advancing what you wrong. to identify them with the sun ; so, in the case of science and truth, do at present, feel somehow thus ;—being led a little astray by your reason- it is right to regard both of them as resembling good, but wrong to identify lag on each question, through inexperience in this mode of question and either of them with good ; because, on the contrary, the quality of the good answer, when all these littles are collected together, they reckon at the close ought to have a still higher value set upon it. of the discussion that the mistake appears considerable, and the contrary of "That implies an inexpressible beauty, if it not only is the source of sci- their first concessions; and just as those who play at talus with such as are ence and truth, but also surpasses them in beauty ; for, I presume, you do resultant man could not have approached the deep problems of life is attempting to use it, and that colour is resident m the objects, still, unless with a clearer or more masculine intellect in union with a serene there be present a third kind of thing, devoted to this especial purpose, you faith, or a more sublime and self-assuring sense of the congruity of are aware that the eye-sight will see nothing, and the colours will be in_ "Pray, what is this third thing to which you refer ?
"Of course I refer to what you call light.
comfort and to strengthen themselves, to nerve themselves with "Hence it appears, that of all the pairs aforesaid, the sense of sight, and hope beyond the grave, and with heroic effort and no less heroic en- the faculty of being seen, are coupled by the noblest link, whose nature is durance for the duties of this life,—if all this has passed from our anztInginhc'luetedinsivrvaenrt, anr17.rssomligbhetint an ifinloeble thing. " To whom, then, of thye gods in heaven, can you refer as the author and nite religious belief, and a more lucid and complete arrangement of dispenser of this blessing ? And whose light is it that enables our sight to material phtenomena it may still, even at the lowest estimate, be see so excellently well, and makes visible objects appear. not unprofitable to ;wall the examples of those who without our "There can be but one opinion on the subject, he replied : your question