comentarios sobre el mito de la caverna en el proyecto Perseus(en inglés)

James Adam, The Republic of Plato

514A – 517A The following comparison represents our nature in respect of education and the absence thereof. Let us imagine a number of prisoners confined in a subterranean cave, and unable to see anything except shadows of images and other such objects, cast by the light of a fire. Such men will believe that shadows of manufactured things are the only truth. If they are released, and led up step by step towards the light, they will turn and flee back into the cave; but if we compel them to emerge, they will gradually grow accustomed to the brightness, and be able to gaze upon the Sun and understand his sovereignty in the domain of visible things. Pity for their former friends will then begin to mingle with joy at their own escape. Should they redescend into their former place, the darkness will at first affect their vision, and expose them to the laughter of the others, who will, it may be, lay hands upon their deliverer and slay him.

ff. The simile of the Cave presents us with a picture of the life of the uneducated man (τὴν ἡμετέραν φύσιν παιδείας τε πέρι καὶ ἀπαιδευσίας 514 A: cf. also 515 A). From this point of view it should be compared with Theaet. 172 C —177 C, and (in spite of the different situation) with Phaed. 109 A—E, where the equation is:—Depths of Ocean : Hollows of Earth=Hollows of Earth : The true Earth. Plato bids us connect the Cave with the Line (517 A), and does so himself (l.c., and 532 C). We have seen that the lower segment of the line (AC) is spoken of sometimes as ὁρατόν, sometimes as δοξαστόν (VI 510 B note). Plato does not even now distinguish between the two terms; and since the ἀπαίδευτος is concerned with τὸ δοξαστόν in general rather than with τὸ ὁρατόν exclusively, we shall best apprehend Plato’s meaning if we interpret the simile by the following proportion:—Cave : ὁρατὸν s. δοξαστόν = δοξαστόν s. ὁρατόν : νοητόν. See on 517 A and App. I.

ἰδὲ γὰρ κτλ. Empedocles spoke of the terrestrial region as a cave (ἠλύθομεν τόδ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἄντρον ὑπόστεγον 31 ed. Karsten), and similar expressions occur in the Orphic verses e.g. ταῦτα πατὴρ ποίησε κατὰ σπέος ἠεροειδές (ap. Procl. in Tim. 95 D): see Rohde Psyche^{2} II p. 178 note and Dieterich Nekyia p. 159 note There is however nothing to shew that Plato borrowed the underlying idea, much less the details, of his simile from any previous writer: for the metaphorical application of ἄνω, ὑψόθεν and kindred words in connexion with true παιδεία is a favourite usage of Plato’s (cf. Theaet. 175 B, Soph. 216 C, Phaed. 109 A ff.), and the simile might easily have been elaborated from such a metaphor. For a strikingly eloquent imitation see Cic. de nat. deor. II 95 (translated from Aristotle: see Frag. 14. 1476^{a} 34 ff.). With the life of the cave-dwellers Bosanquet aptly compares the account of uncivilized humanity in Aesch. Prom. 447—453. A kindred though not identical figure is employed in Fitzgerald’s Omar Khayya/m LXVIII: “We are no other than a moving row Of magic Shadow-shapes that come and go Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held In Midnight by the Master of the Show.”

ἀναπεπταμένην κτλ. Herwerden suspects corruption, on the ground that the cave is dark, except for the light of the fire. But unless the entrance to the cave is open to the light of day, how are the prisoners ever to emerge, as they ultimately do (515 E)? The εἴσοδος is long (μακρά) and steep (515 E), so that the daylight cannot reach the cave in any case. Prantl is right, I think, in understanding μακράν of length and not width, although Schneider and the English translators apparently hold the other view. See next note.

παρ᾽ ἅπαν τὸ σπήλαιον should (I believe) be taken separately from μακράν. The words define the width of the entrance, which is ‘along the whole of,’ i.e. ‘as wide as,’ the cave. The reason will appear later: see on ὅρα τοίνυν 514 B. The translation “extending along the entire length of the cavern” (D. and V.) seems to render μακράν altogether otiose. See Fig. ii on p. 65.

μένειν τε αὐτοῦ. See cr. n. Hirschig’s emendation, which Cobet approves and Hermann and others adopt, I now think right. μένειν is not, I believe, used absolutely in the sense of μένειν αὐτοῦ, which is the meaning required here. It might be possible to understand μένειν as equivalent to μένειν ἀκινήτους, in view of Crat. 426 E and Phaedr. 261 D, but ‘remain motionless’ is not quite suitable in point of sense. Still less does the possible rendering ‘remain by themselves’ fit the situation. On the other hand μένειν τε αὐτοῦ ‘remain where they are,’ ‘remain in one place’ (cf. I 327 C, II 371 C), corresponds exactly to ἐν δεσμοῖς τὰ σκέλη, just as εἴς τε τὸ πρόσθεν μόνον ὁρᾶν echoes ἐν δεσμοῖς τοὺς αὐχένας. The τετε after καὶκαί suggests that Plato intended this correspondence. There is nothing to be said for Herwerden’s proposal to insert ἀκινήτους.


Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 9:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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