« EdellinenJatka »
namely, to add certain preliminary elucidations concerning the particular details of the work. The Introduction is praised by Dionysius, and without taking offence at the piece of natural description in it, he accounts it an instance of that homely and temperate style, which, as the peculiar province of the school of Socrates, belongs, he thinks, to Plato in even an eminent degree. The first speech which Phaedrus reads to Socrates he clearly recognizes as a work of the celebrated orator, a point upon which no one will entertain a doubt, although an English Philologist has laid a penalty on the belief of it. Now if more had remained to us of the collection of Lysias’ erotic publications, we should be better able to judge of the relation of this speech to others of that writer, as regards the art and character displayed in it. This here however is not deserving of much praise in itself; for the uniformity in the moulding of the particular propositions, as well as the mode of connecting them, could hardly be given in the translation to the vicious extent to which they exist, and the indefiniteness of expression which almost always admits of several meanings, is a crual for the interpreter. Now supposing the others to have been like this, the whole was an attempt, not indeed thoughtlessly entered upon, but still perfectly unsuccessful, towards an extension in the Art of Speaking. Then the first Socratic speech carries forward the principle of Lysias more thoroughly and clearly worked out. Now here Dionysius at once censures the invocation to the Muses which precedes it, thinking that it comes down suddenly like storm and tempest from a clear sky, destroying the pure prose—a tastless piece of poetastry. And Dionysius adds that Plato means soon to acknowledge himself that this is a specimen of high sounding sentences and dithyrambs, with great pomp of words and little meaning, when he says to Phaedrus that he should be surprised at nothing in the sequel, for that what he is now uttering is not far short of dithyrambs. Now as to that invocation to the Muses, we might perhaps allow an affectation in the sportive derivations in it; but, looking to the whole structure, scarcely any one would be disposed to deny its claim to the title of prose. By the surprise, on the contrary, which Plato expresses at the dithyrambic nature of his sentences, he certainly did not intend to express any censure upon himself. For any one who pays attention to the passage in which this occurs, will easily discover that it does not refer to any kind of Poetic inspiration; but that Plato only intended, certainly not to his own disadvantage, to attract notice to the distinction between his own rythmus and that of Lysias. For in the latter all the periods are turned with a monotonous uniformity, one like another split into antetheses; and the whole speech is pervaded by one and the same extremely flat melody. In that of Plato on the contrary, the rhythmus is in continuous gradation, so that he begins, where his ideas are far-fetched, with short propositions at a quick step, and as the speech advances from the general to the particular, the sentences also become more developed and articulated ; until at last the orator, when he has reached a culminating point, hovers around it, and as it were poises himself in a slowly revolving period. Yet, notwithstanding, the structure of these periods appears, to us at least, perfectly prosaic, as also the epithets are taken from the philosophical and not from the poetical province of the subject. So that to see how far the censure of Dionysius, which can strictly refer only to the feet of the words, is grounded in truth, could be the privilege of Grecian ears alone, as it is evident that Plato's Theory upon this point, rests upon different grounds from that of Dionysius. To us, who do not inquire quite so much into this matter, the fulness of expression seems actually to reach only to the extremest limits of language unfettered by metre, and in this respect certainly Plato himself intended to be epideictic. In the second speech of Socrates, that famous Myth is, lastly, beyond doubt the most important part, for sake of which all other matter in this dialogue has been unfairly thrown into the back-ground. The consequence of this has been, that not even the Myth itself has been throughout rightly understood. For the Love has, for the most part, been taken in a far too abstract and limited sense, and much has been overlooked or childishly trifled away. Least of all has the fact been remarked, that it is the fundamental Myth from which all that succeed and enter into the whole system of the Platonic Philosophy are developed; so that the more the subject-matter of it, at advanced stages, passes from the mythic into the scientific, the remainder is ever shaped out with less pretension, and becomes more vividly mythical. So that Plato here seems most expressly to assume the privilege of interweaving Myths with the expositions of his Philosophy. Though all this cannot be here regularly proved, but must verify itself by the sequel. Now as to what relates to the particular subject of the Myth, but little definite can be adduced in illustration of the imaginative in it; and the cosmographical conceptions especially which are the basis of it, are the more difficult to explain, as the Myth rests quite on the boundary
between the Natural and Supernatural. More accurate solutions of it would certainly be more welcome than
that discovery which Heyne some time since communicated, that the horses in this Myth were borrowed from Parmenides, which will hardly be discovered after a perusal of the fragment referred to. For the identity in a comparison, rests not so much upon the image, as upon a similar application of it to the object. Moreover, more would be implied in that assertion than that learned person probably intended, namely, that Plato borrowed his division of the Soul from Parmenides. In our confessed uncertainty as to particulars, it may however be said in general, that several of the conceptions in this Myth seem to be worked out from one another; and that, as several expressions are derived from the mysteries, a more perfect understanding of them would probably contribute most towards an explanation. On this account a still more accurate acquaintance with the Pythagorean Philosophemes may not be supposed to be the true key even to the mythology, still less to the doctrine of the human mind, as also the Platonic doctrine of renewed recollection is hardly to be explained from Pythagoras. Moreover the bulk of this Myth is evidently treated as a by-work to add to the pomp of the whole, and to harmonize the strictly allegorical parts of it. Wherefore we must beware of entering too much into details in the explanation, and rather be satisfied with only comprehending aright those philosophical indications, which Plato himself marks as such in the delivery. It might be adduced as a consequence, sufficiently immediate and but little attended to, that in every case a man's character is not originated during the course of his life, but exists in him from the first. What Tiedemann however has discovered in the notion that the essentially existent is beheld, not in heaven, but in the region beyond heaven, can hardly be implied in it. But it might be most difficult to explain what is said very particularly of the various character of men according as they have been more or less penetrated by the Eternal. If therefore still greater faults do not lie concealed under the considerable varieties in the readings, the whole passage might perhaps belong to that class of deeorations in which we are not to look for too much. And, generally, it is impossible to draw attention too much to the fact, how completely every thing in this dialogue is meant and applied rhetorically, so that even here, where untamed imagination has been so often discovered, like the wild horse as it were of the Platonic philosophy hurrying the wiser one along with it, Plato appears rather with all the judgment of a master. And even supposing that in the detail this composition carried him near the borders of a province that did not belong to him, as Dionysius even compares one passage with a passage in Pindar, still the style is in the main prosaic throughout. For to sketch an image, as is here done, first with a few strokes in the outline, and then to work it out further step by step, as regularity required, could *: endured in a poem.
/With regard to the second part of the dialogue, after all that has already been said in general, there is nothing further to remark, except that, although not fully applied to practice, it was the origin of that improved rhetoric which dates its commencement from Aristotle, who owes much to this work. The remarks will explain particular difficulties, and thus the reader will be detained no longer in the vestibule of this splendid and genial work.