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The Last Argument of Plato's Phaedo.

Author(s): D. O'Brien
Source: The Classical Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Nov., 1967), pp. 198-231
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association
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THIS study offers a new analysis of the last argument of Pl

immortality of the soul.
Interpretations of this argument and especially of the las
fered considerably.' Judgements on its value have usuall
scholar speaks of the 'screen of unreal argument' which co
and writes that 'from the standpoint of logic the argument
futility'.z Another describes the final stage of the proof a
principii'.3 A third remarks that the conclusion follows 'if
The main purpose of the present study is to discover how Plato thought he
arrived at his conclusion, not how valid we may judge his argument to have
been. The analysis of the argument, and especially of the final section, reveals,
however, certain ideas of such a kind that Plato was unable to extricate them
fully from the course of his reasoning, and unable therefore to carry the argu-
ment to its full conclusion. These ideas, which Plato leaves largely implicit,
prove to be of peculiar interest to the historian of philosophy. For they antici-
pate to a certain very limited extent Anselm's ontological argument for the
existence of God.

Plato's argument consists in relating the nature of soul to three primary

examples of opposites. There is first the simple example of large and small.
There are then two more complex examples: the example of hot and cold and
fire and snow, and the example of odd and even and three and two. The pur-
pose of the argument is to show that fire is characterized by hot and so excludes
the opposite of hot, which is cold, and that in the same way the soul is charac-
terized by life and so excludes the opposite of life, which is death.
Plato has already outlined the theory of forms and established that large
things are large in virtue of largeness and that small things are small in virtue
of smallness, Iooc-IoI e. It is therefore already implied, and it will be clear

The following commentaries will be Geddes, The Phaedo of Plato, etc., 2nd edi-
cited by author's name alone: D. Keyt, tion, London, 1885. W. Wagner, Plato's
'The fallacies in Phaedo 102 A-107 B', Phronesis Phaedo, etc., Cambridge, 1870. H. Schmidt,
viii (1963), I67-72. D. S. Scarrow, 'Phaedo Kritischer Commentar zu Plato's Phaedon, 2
106 A-I 06 E', Philos. Rev. lxx (1961), 245-52. Hitlfte, Halle, 1850-2. G. Stallbaum, Platonis
W. J. Verdenius, 'Notes on Plato's Phaedo', opera omnia, etc., Phaedo, editio quarta...
Mnemosyne, ser. 4, vol. xi (1958), 193-243. curavit M. Wohlrab, Lipsiae, 1864. I. Bekker,
R. S. Bluck, A Translation of Plato's Phaedo, Platonis . . scripta graece omnia, etc., Phaedo,
etc., London 1955. R. Hackforth, Plato's vol. 5, London, 1826.
Phaedo, etc., Cambridge, 1955. J. Burnet, 2 Hackforth, p. 164-
Plato's Phaedo, etc., Oxford, 1911. H. Wil- 3 J. B. Skemp, The Theory of Motion in
liamson, The Phaedo of Plato, etc., London, Plato's Later Dialogues, p. 8.
9o104. R. D. Archer-Hind, The Phaedo of 4 I. M. Crombie, An examination of Plato's
Plato, etc., 2nd edition, London, 1894. W. D. doctrines, ii. 164-

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from the course of the argument,' that the opposite character in e

is the particularization of an opposite form.z
Socrates begins the argument by distinguishing the particular ch
largeness from the subject in which the character inheres, 102 a Io

This was agreed. It was admitted that each of the forms was som
and that other things by having a share in them bore the nam
same forms. Socrates' next question was:
'If you admit that that is so, then it is the case, isn't it, that w
say that Simmias is larger than Socrates and smaller than Phaedo
imply that there are both things present in Simmias, largeness and
'Yes, I do.'
'But now you admit, don't you, that the fact of Simmias ov
Socrates isn't expressed in language in a way that answers to the tr
case ? Simmias is not born by nature to overtop Socrates by the f
being Simmias. It is in virtue of the largeness that he happen
In the same way, he doesn't overtop Socrates because Socrates
but because of the smallness Socrates has in relation to his largen
'And again in the same way, he isn't overtopped by Phaedo in virtue of
the fact that Phaedo is Phaedo, but because of the largeness that Phaedo
has in relation to Simmias' smallness. Isn't that so?'

'It follows then that Simmias has the name of being small as well as large,
because he is in the middle of both of them. He holds down his smallness
to the largeness of one of them, for the largeness to overtop it. He presents
the other with his largeness, a largeness overtopping the smallness.'
Socrates smiled at this point. 'It sounds just as if I'm going to start talking
in literary formulae. But anyway things are evidently the way I say they are.'
Cebes agreed.

When Socrates says that Simmias is 'small as well as large' and that he is
not 'born by nature' (rrE-vKEvat, IO2 C I) to be large, we are at this point
intended to think in terms of a contrast between Simmias and the character
of largeness in Simmias, which Socrates will go on to show can be only large
and which, we may say, is 'born by nature' to be large.
However, as the argument develops, the notion of 'not by nature large' will
lead in effect to a distinction between accidental and essential predication.
Simmias is not by nature larger than Socrates. He is so in virtue of the largeness
which he happens to have. Later, in the numerical example, we shall be told
that three is by nature odd, Io4a3 and 7, and must of necessity be odd as well as

three (dvcyK4ELa and &vdyKrq Io4d2 and 6). The point is that Simmias can
be both things, he 'has the name of being small as well as large', whereas three

I e.g. from av3 rc ~- L/EyE0oS Io12d6, fromgests something substantial and so, as we
shall see, in the case of an attribute en-
atl?d I6 dSoS of hot or cold, I03 e3, from --a
courages a false notion of immanent form.
~ r 74a
-rc r!Wivvr'ia of odd
7 EL'SOS, and even, I 04c 7, from
i o6d6. 3 Burnet's text has been used, except
2 I use the term 'particularization' to ex-
where otherwise stated. Occasional turns of
press the sensible manifestation of the form
expression have been taken from Hackforth's
of an attribute as well as of the form of a translation. Once or twice the translation is
substance. 'Particular' used as a noun sug-
deliberately literal at the expense of fluency.

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200 D. O'BRIEN

can be only odd. Simm

Socrates, whereas thre
Thus the distinction in
Simmias and the larg
reveal the distinction b
Socrates) and essential
Plato has no technic
sense. In the present ar
essential predication
argument Socrates is
that snow is always c
even, that two is alway
that the soul is always
The distinction betwee
element in Plato's pro
analysis. Hackforth, p.
passage and for Plato's


Socrates has distinguished Simmias from the largeness in Simmias

shown that Simmias can contain opposite particularizations: he can be
once large and small. Socrates now argues that the particular character, unl
Simmias, shares with the form of largeness the power of excluding an oppos
Like the form itself, the particularization cannot become its opposite. Simm
can be at once large and small, because he can be larger than one thing
smaller than another. But Simmias' largeness in relation to Socrates cannot
small, because Simmias cannot be at once larger and smaller than Socra
This is expressed in language with a consistently metaphorical flavour, 102
'Well now, the aim of my remarks is to get you to see things the wa
It seems to me that not only does largeness itself never consent to be
large and small. In addition, the largeness in us never admits the sma
does it consent to be overtopped by it. One or other of two thing
happen. Either the large in us will escape and get out of the way whe

I Hackforth remarks, p. 155, as for,

the essential hotness of fire and the essen-
tial aliveness
have done, that large and small are not of soul. (It is true of course
that relative attribution in this case provides
qualities but relations. It might be thought
therefore that, when Plato introduces fire,
a particularly striking example of accidental
which can be only hot, and snow, which attribution.
can That no doubt is one reason why
Plato chooses the example which he does.)
be only cold, he is concerned to draw a distinc-
tion between absolute and relative attribu- 2 dI is repeated at 103 e2-5, e6, 04 a 2,
tion. We shall observe below, p. 228 n.a6, I, b i, b4, b8, d3, and in the case of soul
that this difference may in fact have some 105 d, d3, dIo. Variations of 'never' occur
secondary significance. But the fact that at o2d6, d8, e6-7, 103b4-5, ci, c7, d5,
Socrates' example of accidental attribution diI, 10o4a3, dio, eI, 105a5, in the case
has to be expressed in terms of one thing's
relation to another is incidental to the main of soul Io5do0-Ii, and with dcri6,AAvo0a
I o6 a 9, d 7. These instances include occasions
purpose of the argument. The colour of an when the opposite form is said to be 'always'
apple, which is an accidental but not itself
a and 'never' its opposite. For the point
relative attribute, would have served equally
of the analysis is that fire, for example, is like
well as a contrast to, and as a preparation
the form of hot in being always hot.

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opposite the small comes near it; or, as the opposite approach
perish. What it cannot do is consent, by staying behind an
accepted smallness, to be other than what it was. Thus I have sta
and accepted smallness, and I am still what I am: still this sa
short. But the large in us cannot ever bring itself to be small whil
'All this applies also to the small in us. It can never consent to
be large. Nor can any other of the opposites become and be its o
at the same time as still being what it was. When such a situatio
it must either go away or perish.'
Cebes said that that was precisely what he thought.

Two misunderstandings have confused the interpretation of this

(i) First, 'the large in us' has been described as an immanent form
has been taken to be in some way distinct from the particularizati
as though there were three levels in Plato's world: transcendent form
form, and particularization.' This line of interpretation appears to
from Socrates' distinction between the particular character of larg
the subject, Simmias, which contains the largeness. But this distin
no way equivalent to the distinction between form and the particu
form. The truth is that Plato in the Phaedo, from the point of view
of forms, thinks only of two levels, form and the particularizatio
'The large in us' is the pluralization of largeness in the sensible
the particularization of the form, 'the large itself'. The fact that
the form of a quality, so that its particularization inheres in some
is irrelevant. Simmias, if he were to be included in the theory of fo
be another particularization, the particularization presumably of t

Similarly, if we take 'the hotness in fire', which app

ment, Io6b6-7, and if we allow for a moment that there
then the hotness and the fire will be equally particular
hotness and the form of fire. One is subordinated to th
hotness is an attribute of fire. But they are on the sam
the particularization of a form.
The confusion has perhaps been encouraged by the fa
chooses as forms the forms of attributes, not the form

This way of thinking is logical

clearly repre-
Research viii (1947-8), 456-60; Bluck,
sented in Shorey, see p. 209 n. and
pp. 17-18, I below.
less confidently Phronesis ii
Mills, Phronesis ii (1957), (1957),
139-40,123 n.distin-
I, cf. C.Q. N.s. vi (1956),
guished 'the opposite in us' from
33-34; both forms
Verdenius, pp. 232-3; Scarrow,
and 'sensible participants'Keyt,or p.'sensibles',
169 n. I.
without making it clear whether he
Mills, op. means
cit., p. 143, seeks to contrast
sensible qualities or sensible substances: with the present aspassage
will of the Phaedo two
be seen, the distinction is crucial. Hackforth's
passages in the Parmenides, I28e6-I29a6
constant references to 'immanent and 30ob, form', cf. only forms and
where he finds
pp. 143-4, not infrequently 'sensible cause difficulty:
participants'. In fact Plato's dis-
some instances are discussed at the end of tinction in the Parmenides between the form of
this section, see also pp. 212 n. 2 and 217 n.
likeness and 'the likeness which we have' is
2. Others who have tried to deal with im- precisely the same as the distinction in the
manent form in the Phaedo are: D. Tarrant, Phaedo between the form of large and 'the
The Hippias Major (Cambridge, 1928), large in us'.
pp. Ivi-lvii; R. Demos, 'Note on Plato's 2 Specific substances clearly described as
Theory of Ideas', Philosophy and Phenomeno-forms are the shuttle in the Cratylus 389,

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202 D. O'BRIEN

Plato's forms are usual

may be described as imm
substances. The particul
as immanent form: for in the Phaedo what could the form of fire be immanent
in ? It cannot be immanent in the sensible fire itself, for Plato would have seen
no difference between sensible fire and the fieriness in sensible fire, or between
particular three, thought of simply as number, and the threeness in particular
three.' Sensible fire will be the only particularization of the form of fire.
Particular three will be the only particularization of the form of three. There
will be no 'third thing', no fieriness in fire that is not particular fire and not
the form of fire.
Thus applied to the Phaedo 'immanent form' means no more than the par-
ticularization of form. 'Immanent form' is a confusing term. It wrongly
suggests something other than the particularization of form. It sets up a distinc-
tion, which Plato in the Phaedo does not consciously or deliberately set up,
between the forms of attributes and the forms of substances.
It is true that in the Timaeus there is in some sense a 'third level', space, the
receptacle of becoming. All forms are immanent in the receptacle. This leads
to forms of substances becoming adapted in a sense to forms of qualities. For
fire in the Timaeus characterizes the receptacle in something like the way in
which an attribute characterizes its subject, and for this reason in the Timaeus
Plato tells us that strictly fire is not a 'this' but a 'such', 49 a-5oa.
We probably see in the Timaeus part of the reason why in his earlier dialogues
Plato seemed to shy away from forms of substances. It was comparatively
simple to envisage the particularization of the form of an attribute: for in the
case of an attribute there is always a subject to support, as it were, or to contain
the particularization. The forms of substances raise more acutely the question
of how a form can be particularized in the sensible world. The Timaeus helps
to overcome this difficulty by providing a receptacle in which the form of a
substance can be particularized in something like the way in which the form
of an attribute is particularized in the subject which it characterizes.
In the Phaedo, however, there is no 'third level'. There is simply form and
the particularization of form. The hotness in fire or the largeness in us are not
immanent forms in the sense of being something between form and the par-
ticularization of form.
Later in the argument a number of passages relevant to our analysis have
been misinterpreted by Hackforth through the introduction of immanent form.
It will be simplest to deal with these at once.
(i) -rv OEpp~dv and 7- /vXpdv in the passage from 103 c I o-e I are categorized
table and bed in the 'appendix' to the Re- x We observe below, p. 213, that Plato
public 595-8, and, reasonably clearly, fire in probably thinks of Ta -rpla simply as num-
the Timaeus 5 1 b-52 a, on which cf. Cornford, ber. If rd 7plIa meant three as an attribute
Plato's Cosmology, pp. 188-91. Vlastos speaks of numbered objects, then three oxen would
of the 'marginal status' of forms designated be like large Simmias. Three oxen would
by the common noun, Philos. Rev. 1xv (1956), contain as an attribute the particulariza-
93-94. Ross writes, Plato's Theory of Ideas, tion of the form of three. Oxen themselves,
p. 24: 'Ideas of substances ... are not men- if they were to be included in the theory,
tioned in the Phaedo, and are nowhere would be the particularization of another
prominent except in the Timaeus, though form. Thus there would still be no 'immanent
form' that was other than the form of three
they were involved in the theory, since it was
and other than the particular three that
the theory that there is an Idea answering to
every common noun (Rep. 596 a6)'. characterized oxen.

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by Hackforth, p. 150 n. I, as 'immanent forms-characters.

approach and reside in concrete subjects'. The argument from
entirely inconclusive. It is true that in a later example what app
is described as bvXp&v rT, Io6a 9, which must mean the cold in
and so the particularization of cold. But 'approach' is part of Pla
and can also be used of form: the subject is explicitly form at 10
There is in the present passage no way of telling whether Plato t
of particular coldness approaching fire or metaphorically of the f
proaching fire. Possibly the hot that would be 'accepted' or rece
is thought of as particularization, since if it were received it wou
hotness in something. This could still mean that what 'appro
form, for the transition from form to particularization would not b
The form of hot might in terms of the metaphor 'approach' sn
snow 'perishes' the water that is left might 'receive' and have in
cularization of hot. The truth is that in the present passage
whether hot and cold are form or particularization. Plato would
found it cumbersome to specify at this point which he had in m
of specification does not mean that the passage should be interp
of 'immanent form'.
(2) Hackforth, p. 150 n. I, claims that a;do 7-b ET ~8 at Io3e3 i
form', thus contradicting Cornford, Plato's Cosmology, p. 184 n
phrase suggests, this is form, not particular. For at the equi
the 'large and small' example we have a~T7 70 tLdEyEoE which is
cisely to O E'v j'[V LE7E,OS, I0o2d6-e i. In the present example,
we shall see in a moment, there is an additional feature, fire an
which are characterized by the opposites without themselves be
But the examples are similar in this: that in either case somethin
large in us in one case, fire in the other, is shown to share the
form, avTo T O~E)YEOos, av7- TO E13OS, in that it cannot coexist wit
of opposites. Even if hot and cold in the preceding lines were p
and not form (the point we have just discussed as (i) above), it wo
as Hackforth supposes, that avto6 7' ET38o0 was likewise particular

(3) Hackforth, p. 15o n. I, designates q 'W v Tptwv 8C'a at Io4d5 as 'im-

manent form', partly on the ground of a supposed distinction between Plato's

use of 18'a and E8OS. But in the phrase & av q Tc-v 7pcWv 18Ea KaTaoXrx the dis-
tinction between subject and object clearly corresponds simply to a distinction
between form and particular. To argue, as Hackforth apparently would, that
the threeness which possesses three must be in three and so somehow distinct
from the threeness which is apart from three is a perfect example of the kind
of thinking that would set up immanent form as something between form and the
particularization of form.

(ii) The second confusion has arisen over the interpretation of Plato's meta-
phorical language. 'Withdraw'2 has been interpreted as the withdrawal of
' Later in the sentence we are told of form'. The phrase is in fact a simple one.
something other than the opposite receiving
Something like snow has the particularized
characteristic, ?topo', of an opposite form,
-Tnv dKEVOV / opc-9v, 103 e 5, where EKELVOV re-
fers to aT3r6 rT6 ELSo. Hackforth acknowledges

his difficulty in explaining this phrase if

2 'Withdraw' is used to cover, in the
EKELVOV as well as ?topriq means 'immanent
present passage, OEVYEL~, 67TEKXWopEv, and

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204 D. O'BRIEN

'immanent form'from the p

the same as 'perish'. If Simm
mias' largeness in compariso
example, the coldness in sn
'perishes'.2 But Plato's langu
ment, that 'withdraw or per
The metaphor is used thre
the 'large and small' exam
three, and again in the fina
occurrences in turn.

(a) In the first example the subject of the metaphor-with one slight ex-
ception, which we discuss in a moment-is the particularization of form, 'the
large in us' or 'the small in us'. There are three images in the metaphor.
(i) The first image is that of the garrison which 'stays behind' and admits or
'accepts' the enemy. The application of this image to the 'large and small'
example represents the impossibility of anything being at once larger and
smaller in respect of the same thing.
(2) The second image in the metaphor is that of the garrison which 'escapes'
and 'gets out of the way'. This means that the largeness in us, by escaping,
continues to be large. Simmias remains larger than Socrates. He does not
change. The slight initial confusion that a thing stays as it is by running away
is probably the result simply of the fact that 'staying behind' has already been
used by Plato for the first part of his metaphor.
(3) The third image in the metaphor is that of the garrison which is slaugh-
tered or 'perishes'. This means that the largeness in us disappears. We become
smaller than the object in question. Whether we do so by our becoming smaller
or by the object with which we are compared becoming larger is irrelevant.
It is also irrelevant that in the latter case the 'active' form would appear to
be the form of largeness. If Simmias becomes smaller instead of larger than
Socrates, then for the purposes of the metaphor, and of the argument, he has
done so because the particularization of largeness in him has 'perished' at the
onslaught of smallness.4
aiTEpXEaOat; and later in the argument
and in either case (my italics) the thing, the
fire or the snow, is no longer the thing it was'.
v7TErEvac, lo6a4, and dcTEAOdv or dmnov
oLXEcrat, io6aio and e7.- Bluck writes, p. 118: 'If a man who is bad
1 This is the interpretation of earlier
in a certain respect is to become good in the
v riters and of Burnet, notes on 102 d9 same
and respect, the "bad in him" must first
e2; A. E. Taylor, Plato, the Man and depart-it
his must either "flee and give way" or
"perish"'. Taylor and Bluck have reduced
Work3, pp. 204-6 (criticized by Ross, P. T.L,
Plato's two events in effect to a single event.
pp. 30-31); Cornford, Plato and Parmenides,
p. 79 (cf. Plato's Cosmology, p. 184); and 3 Apart from the phrase 3voiv -rO ETEpov
Bluck, pp. 17-18, 24, 118, 191 n. 2, and, the present passage, io2d9, Plato con-
passing, C.Q. N.S. vi (1956), 35. A cause of
confusion has perhaps been the mistaken sistently writes 'the
time he presents o....formula:
. or '-rot. .. .9-e2,
io2d each
application to the metaphor of Aristotle's
i3oa , d8, dio-iI, Io4b Io-c I.
criticism of the Phaedo at De gen. et corr., 4 It has seemed slightly simpler in explain-
335b 14-15. ing this third image to speak of physical
2 The result is particularly clear in two change, Simmias or Socrates becoming
remarks by Taylor and by Bluck. Taylor actually larger or smaller. This is in effect
writes, op. cit., p. 205: 'When "cold" at- how the thought recurs at Theaetetus,
tempts to "occupy" fire, or "heat" to "oc- 155 b6-c i. But very possibly Plato is think-
cupy" snow, an essential character of the thing ing simply of comparison. Simmias can
must either "withdraw" or be "annihilated", cease to be compared with Socrates-rather

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The exception we referred to is when Socrates speaks of himse

'stayed behind' and 'accepted' smallness, I02 e3-5. But this is intr
in order to show what it would be like for the large in us to 'st
'accept' something.
'Staying behind' and 'accepting' the opposite is in this instance
in another way. Every other time this image is used it represen
happen.' Here it represents what has happened. The reason for t
is that in every other case 'stay behind' is applied to an opposite
thing characterized essentially by an opposite. Socrates is chosen
that is not an opposite, to show what kind of thing it is that can
the approach of an opposite, and so to make clearer what kind o
that cannot stay behind at the approach of an opposite.
Since Socrates can stay behind at the approach of an opposite,
not intended to be the subject of the other parts of the metaph
something which cannot stay behind that must therefore, 'withd
Hackforth translates the final application of the metaphor to
small example in a way that makes form the subject of the met
I03 a2. This is the result of a series of misunderstandings of th
(I) First, JdoCrTEP, e3, does not look forward to W S 8' atzows,
forth's translation.2 Although those expressions might initially
pair, it is fairly evident that down to e6 it is 'the large in us' w
explaining: and that Ws 8' aczws introduces the application
principle to the small in us. c(a,-rEp should be taken with what
thus: 'the large in us cannot stay behind and be small and large, i
(0o7rEp) Socrates can stay behind and be small and large'. This g
the repetition of I5rmopvov 8v KacL 8E &ClEVOV, e2, in 8E LGEVO-9 Ka
e 3-4.4
(2) Next, Hackforth translates dKE^vo at o2e5 as 'the Form that is tall'.
But EKEFVo is still clearly r 'v ler^v tEE60oS, d 7, by way of contrast to E'O, e 3.
It is not aVib ?EYE60, d 6, which would not be strictly relevant. For from d 7
Plato is concerned to show not that the form of large cannot be small, but that
the large in us cannot be small. As we have seen, the meaning of dOarrEp is that
Socrates shows what it would be like to stay behind at the approach of an
than Simmias' actually growing smaller or ... 7TE.7 nLE (LI V 7 XLV ov'aa aU Kal (L77t7KTOsf oV
Socrates' actually growing larger-and in ydp av TwAT rd yE, o00' aV V)TO/IVOvUC E.3E5aVo
that case the comparative 'largeness' in av -rv) O8EPd7r-7a. The point of this is not
Simmias 'perishes'. that snow would 'stay behind' if it were not
Equally, in the previous image the point imperishable. For snow is never hot. It can
may be not so much that Simmias and never 'stay behind' at the approach of the
Socrates stay the same size, though that willopposite. The exclusion of the alternative,
in fact have to be so, but that despite the os ' a rrot/Evovaa E~E5 ar7o av, depends on the
approach in some way of smallness Simmias preceding argument, where the metaphor is
continues to be compared to Socrates. first introduced, not, as does drd[AETro, on the
Possibly the approach of smallness means conditional clause.
that Simmias is compared to Phaedo. De- 2 This follows Heindorf ap. Bekker.
spite his now being seen to be smaller than 3 This is the interpretation of Stallbaum,
Phaedo, Simmias is still larger than Socrates, followed by Schmidt, ii, pp. 43-46 and
because the largeness in him has 'with- Williamson.
drawn'. 4 It follows that it would be clearer to
I io2d7-e3, io3d5-8, dIo-12, Io4b8- reverse Burnet's punctuation: to print a
c3, c7-9, e7-Io5a5, a6-b3, Io5dIoff., colon instead of a full stop at I o2 e 3, and
io6 a5-6, b 3-4, At i o6 a 3-6 Plato writes a full stop instead of a colon at e 6.
that if 7r cOEp/lov were imperishable, ovKovl'

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206 D. O'BRIEN

opposite, what sort of

large in us' cannot be s
(3) Finally, Hackforth's

lation of Kat 7b 'cr?Kpo

Plato is dealing only w
large in us apply also
Hackforth tries to intro
subject of the metaph
TO d EE0oS has been ref
(b) The later examples
into the argument, as
the same. In these lat
one slight exception, w
hot or oddness; it is s
either continues to be
stay behind and 'accep
approach of cold, fire
guished, 'perishes'. Fi
fire, 10o3d I o-e I. At t
three, 'withdraw', or
'accept' even and so b
The exception in this

Plato says that opposite

approach of each othe
to forms, for the point
and admit an opposite
to forms, for a form c
On this one occasion w
Plato at once goes on
approach of an opposit
characterized by an o
opposite forms on this
tween opposite forms
in that neither can bec

(c) In the final page of

Even were we
supply to
'AA' ,'a Et871 adopt
and so think of the form H
of three,
Hackforth's or whether we think of particular
3' ai~rwt, three, doesdKELVO
then not affect the interpretation woul
of the
in us. For metaphor. combination
the We may either look back to
6' aiviTwS would show that what was com- 104b8-c4, where Plato is speaking of things
pared to EKELVO was not the small itself, but that perish, and so must be thinking of
the small in us. particular three; or we may look back to
2 54aOu6aL alone, without Vr5TO/Levetv, cis5 and forward to di ff., where, so we shall
applied to opposite forms at Io4b7-8 and argue, pp. 216-2 1, Plato introduces the form
of three. The form of three could properly
105 a 2. Elsewhere the fact that one opposite
be said not to 'stay behind' at the approach
form will not accept its opposite is expressed
in terms of OVK E dEAELV, 102d6, 103cI, of or an opposite form. On the other hand the
'always having the right to its own name', form of three could not have applied to it the
Io3e3-4, e6-7, or simply in terms ofrest of the metaphor. For the form of three,
ylyvEaOat and ELva~, io3b4-5, C7-8. being a form, could no more 'withdraw or
3 Whether at this moment, o104c8-9, perish'
we than could the opposite forms.

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subject is now -7 avap-rtov, 7 odOEpptov, and -7d WIVK70V, Io5

cise meaning of these terms is disputed.'
The positive adjective joined with the neuter article is used
(2) for particularization of the form.
(I) Earlier in the argument 7r 6Epptdv and -7 twvXpdv are
ro EL1SO3, 103e3.2 Similarly, -rd 7rEp-ro'd and 7r oprTov are sp
ra ELavrta at 10o4c7
(2) At the conclusion of the present passage 7r r 7TEpLrTdv i
ticularization of the form. For 7 7rpla and -r rTEpt7r'dv at i
made precisely equivalent to Trrp and -" v rJw- &Tvpal tEEpp1dr0
The negative adjective -r avdprtov in the present passage
a form: i.e. it is not equivalent in status to n TrEpTTrr, 04d 1
dprTlov 1&Ea, Io4d I4-e I. For Socrates asks, i05 e 10, El To Jva
dvowAdE'pwt Elval, dAAo -rt 7 r7pla l dvdchAEpa av v; The con
one, and the point therefore is that 7r dvivpfrtov can be thoug
which would be impossible for a form.
It might be thought therefore that -r dcvadprtov is the particu
ness, were it not for the example of 7r o6Od'va-rov. In the final w
To da&varov which 'gets out of the way of death and clears o
and inextinguishable' is clearly intended to be the soul, in
r70v-rdyv is clearly intended to be the body, Io6e5-7. So too
of the present passage 7r J6OdJvarov is at once replaced by
El T1V 6' 1 5L0/V %a5 vhEOa'Apdv EU'r7w, Jv'varov vx7... a'7T
reasonably clear that -r dOdva-rov is here again thought of as
namely the soul, not as the deathlessness in soul. It is of
natural transition from deathlessness to what is typically dea
In the same way as /vXw replaces 7r d aOdvarov, so ra rpla repla

xtyv replaces 7ro W8Epptov, and larvp replaces 7ro WUvKrTOV. These negative adjec-
tives have all been coined by Plato as parallels for 7 dO advarov.4 Very probably
therefore they are used in the same way as 7r d6Odvarov: i.e. they mean what
is not-even, not-hot, and not-coolable, namely three, snow, and fire, and not
the particularization of oddness, cold, and heat. Thus the subject of the
metaphor when it is reintroduced in the final page of the argument is in effect
the same as the subject of the metaphor when it is first presented.
We may observe that in the examples of temperature and number Plato
could perhaps have made the subject of the metaphor the direct particulariza-
tion of the opposite form, the coldness in snow, the hotness in fire, the oddness in
three, and so on, as he has done in the 'large and small' example. For the
effect of the metaphor would have been the same. If the hot in fire perished,
then the fire would perish. If the hot in fire withdrew, then it would have to
withdraw with fire and notfrom fire, in the same way as the large in us is meant
to withdraw with us and notfrom us. Plato has in fact consistently chosen things
which are characterized essentially by the opposites, and not the opposites
themselves. For it is these which carry the burden of the argument and which
lead to soul.

I See Hackforth, p. 165 n. I, and Scarrow. 3 Jackson ap. Archer-Hind conjectures (

2 For the meaning of a3i- -r Et~'o see
p. 203. r~- ep/Ldv and i- r vxpdv may be used 4 davdprto is used in later Greek in a dif-
ferent sense, see L.S.J., s.v. Plato happens
in the lines immediately before this of the
particularization of form, see pp. 202-3. not to mention 'not-odd'.

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208 D. O'BRIEN

We conclude that the pr

direct particularization of
or to something which co
an essential attribute, as
are two exceptions in the
subject of 'stay behind' in
subject of 'stay behind'
tional element is limited
simply in order to clarif
Once the subject of the
phor is clear. 'Withdraw'
particular. 'Stay behind' d
in the primary application
cannot happen. The purp
change or lack of chang
There is thus no truth in the notion that 'withdraw' is introduced solely to
provide for the case of soul, as Hackforth supposes.' The withdrawal of snow
and fire is in fact described at Io6a8-II, e.g. a; 8' avT;w oqLt/a, Kv El 7T
/4KOV J.VEBO po"I, QITOTdE CEI m7To irp /v pdv - EW7LECL, Ov7ToT , (V7TEOE'VVVETO
o0'3' CdTWTAAvro, &JAAa ucv ov a TEAOv d LXE-ro. The form of 'unreal' condition
does not mean that fire and snow would only ever withdraw if they were
avoAEOpov like the soul. The point is that if fire or snow, like the soul, were
avo&AEOpov, then they would do always and by necessity what now they do
As we have seen, to 'withdraw' is for largeness to continue to be large, for
fire to continue to be fire, for snow to continue to be snow, for three to con-
tinue to be three. The metaphor as applied initially to soul would be that on the
approach of death soul either 'withdraws' and continues to be soul, or perishes,
i.e. ceases to be. The soul cannot 'stay behind' and 'accept' death, i.e. it can-
not be at once alive and dead. Thus the sense of 'withdraw', when it is applied
to the soul at io6e5-8, is not that the soul withdraws from the body at the
approach of death (although it will in fact leave the body), but that the soul
continues to be soul. The point of the argument will be to try to establish that
in the case of soul the impossibility of 'staying behind' and being at once alive
and dead entails the exclusion of the alternative 'to perish'.


Socrates pauses to consider the relation of the present sche

opposites to the first argument, where opposite came from oppo
from smaller as waking from sleeping or better from worse or liv
The reconciliation of the two arguments turns on the distinctio
has already established between the opposite character and t
which the character inheres, Io3a4-c9:
On hearing the last remark one of those present, I don'
exactly who it was, intervened: 'Just a moment. Didn't we
earlier argument to just the opposite of what we're saying
Sp. 148 n. 3, cf. pp. 155-6 and 164-5. The idea is derived from Cornfo
from Ross, as cited on p. 205 n. I above.

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that the larger came from the smaller, and the smaller from the lar
was precisely what coming into being was for opposites: they came
their opposites. Now you seem to be saying that this could never h
Socrates turned his head towards the speaker and listened a
'That's a brave upstanding account your memory has served to
But you don't realize the difference between what we are saying no
what we were saying then. Then we were saying that an oppos
comes from an opposite object. What we are saying now is that the
itself can never become opposite to itself, whether it is the opposit
or the opposite as it really is in nature. Then, you see, we were talki
things that have the opposites in them, and we were calling the
names they have from the opposites. Now we are talking about
posites themselves, whose presence it is in things which gives things
such a name the name we call them by. These opposites themse
claim, could never consent to accept coming into being from one a
With this he looked hard at Cebes and said: 'I don't suppose you c
been bothered, Cebes, by anything of what our friend here said ?'
'No', Cebes said. 'I'm all right this time. But I won't deny that
things do bother me.'
'We're agreed then', said Socrates, 'without reserve on this po
an opposite will never be opposite to itself.'
'Yes, definitely.'

There is a superficial difficulty here in that for once Plato uses th

'the opposite itself' to mean not form as distinct from the particula
form, but to distinguish the opposite, whether as form or as particu
from the subject in which the opposite inheres. Thus in the present
'the opposite itself' includes both 'the opposite in us', i.e. the particu
of the opposite form, and 'the opposite in nature', i.e. the opposite f
This peculiarity in Plato's phraseology is easily understandable in th
of the over-all purpose of the argument, which is precisely to ap
a certain class of particularizations to the nature of forms. Forms excl
opposites. So also do the particularizations of these opposite forms. In

case it is the opposite itself, i.e. ai3-r --r dgvavlov, which resists its opposite, not the
subject in which the opposite inheres.
Socrates' reply fits the first example well enough. According to the law of the
first argument, larger comes from smaller. In the light of Socrates' present
distinction this will mean that according to the first argument larger Simmias

Shorey allows that in general in Plato's fore we have here in effect nothing more than
world 'there are really only two things', form the normal twofold division of form and
and particular, but writes of the present pas- particularization: largenesss and the large-
sage that it 'seems to yield three things: the ness in Simmias. Shorey reveals the source
idea per se, the idea in the particular, and the of his error when he goes on to speak of 'the
particular as affected by the idea', The Unity duplication of the idea' in this passage as
ofPlato's Thought (Chicago, repr. I96o), p. 41 'a device employed here only ... for the pur-
n. 284. This obscures the point that the pose of the argument'. For 'the duplication
initial idea, largeness, is not the idea precisely of the idea', i.e. the opposite itself as the
of what Shorey calls the particular, namely opposite in us and the opposite in nature, is
Simmias. For there are in effect two possible not a duplication in some strange sense of
particularizations: the particular attribute, the form, but the normal division between
relative largeness or smallness, and the form and particularization of form Cf. Keyt,
dvav-riov rpdiya, Simmias or Socrates. There- p. 169 n. i.

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will come from smaller Simmias.
that the characterization of small
itself become large. If Simmias bec
particularization of smallness, wil
It will not be quite so simple to a
examples of fire and snow, two an
still to say that 'opposite comes
substrate for fire and snow, some
which can be characterized in tur
Two and three would perhaps be
in a sense an attribute: three thin
present argument Plato is not in
below, p. 212). In that case, if we
law of the first argument that op
need some substrate for numbers
three, which can be characterized
ness of three.
In the case of soul the law of the
For soul in the last argument is su
soul in the first argument. In the
soul from body, and the living ca
attributes characterizing the so
the body or separated from it, an
can be larger or smaller and stil
there has been, as we shall see, a c
death the destruction of soul. If
applied to this definition of death
existing soul. But there can be n
Thus we find here a first hint of the necessary divergence between soul and
things such as fire and snow whose supposed similarity with soul forms the
foundation of Plato's method of argument.


Socrates now moves on to his second example. The opposites are hot an
cold, Io3c Io-e5:
'Now please consider this further point, and see whether you will agree wit
it. There is something you call hot and something you call cold, isn't there ?
'Yes, there is.'
'Do you mean the same as snow and fire ?'
'Why no, of course I don't.'
'Quite. By the hot you mean something different from fire and by the
cold something different from snow ?'

so far as soul characterized by life is an

I The scope of the law of opposites was
defined at 7od7-e6 to include all opposites
rvav-rlov 7rp~y/a we might expect it to fall
within the scope of the law. (Similarly, fire
and avAAgS/3-v oaaTep EXEL y VELew. Strictly
perhaps soul does not offend this law. itself
For is not an opposite; but in so far as it is
under the new definition of death soul has characterized by hot it is, we may suppose,
no yeveaLg nor is it itself an opposite. But
Evav-lov 7rpaytLa.)

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'But I think you would agree that while snow is still s

on the lines of what we were saying before,' accept the
be what it was, snow and hot. No: when the hot app
either get out of its way or perish.'
'And the same is so with fire. When cold approaches, fire must either
get out of the way or perish. What it will never bring itself to do is accept
coldness and then still be what it was, fire and cold.'
'You're quite right.'
'The situation then is this, as regards certain of our cases.2 Not only is
the form itself entitled to its own name for all time. There is something else
too which isn't the same as the form, but which always, whenever it exists,
has the character of the form.'

Socrates now introduces a third example of the same type as fire and snow.
The opposites are odd and even. Three and five can be only odd. Two and
four can be only even, 1o3e5-1o4b5:
'Here is something else which will perhaps make my meaning clearer.
The odd must always I suppose be given the name which we have just called
it. That's so, isn't it ?'
'Now is this the only thing there is to be given the name of odd-and
this is the point I'm asking you-or is there something else which isn't the
same as the odd, and yet demands that in addition to its own name we call
it always by this name, odd, because that is how it is born by nature to be,
born never to leave go of the odd ? What I mean is the sort of thing that
happens with threeness and in many other cases. Take the example of three-
ness. You would say, wouldn't you, that it always has to be called by its
own name and in addition by the name of the odd, although the odd isn't
the same as threeness? They are not the same: and yet threeness and five-
ness and half of the whole number series are born by nature in such a way
that each of them is always odd while not being the same as the odd. The
same is true of two and four and all the other row of numbers in the same
way: they are not the same as the even and yet each of them is always even.
Do you agree or not ?'
'Yes, obviously.'
The examples of temperature and number illustrate not accidental but
Iz o3d6. The first example said that anThe point of his remark is precisely to show
opposite character, 'the large in us', couldthat the earlier law applies to these sub-
never become its opposite, but must with-stances.
draw or perish. Now we have a substance, 2 7rEpl EVaT 7V 7rOLOvrWV, 103e2. Thi
snow, which in virtue of an opposite charac- qualification may apply in two ways. I. Onl
teristic cannot admit an opposite, but mustsome opposite forms have things essentiall
withdraw or perish. Hackforth, p. 149 n. 3,characterized by them: for there is nothin
therefore describes adrE" p v 7-o0LS 7rpdothat in Plato's sense is only large and not
AdMyo/LEV as a 'formal inaccuracy'. But thissmall. 2. Only some things characterized b
is too strict an interpretation of WcrJTEp. Platoopposite forms are characterized essentiall
has immediately before this deliberately in-by them: as well as fire which is only hot
troduced a new element into the argumentthere is water which can be at once both hot
and cold. The latter qualification is essential
(Lrt 8 OL Kal
substances such7dO aKEcKat,
as fire IO2einIo)
and snow : namely,
addition to the understanding of Socrates' question
to the particularizations of opposite forms. at 10o5b8-c2, see pp. 224-5-

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212 D. O'BRIEN

essential predication. S
he could be larger than
being small as well as
and later grow to be ta
In the same way water,
than another, and at di
Socrates introduces fire
only hot and only cold.
say, respectively essent
More or less the sam
true that a group of th
in the way that water c
than something else.
another time-by addi
number two and the
odd. Two, as Plato tell
may say, respectively e
The purpose of Plato's
introduces two and thr
as the attribute of a gr
not born by nature to
might say that Plato m
essentially odd and wou
stay behind and while
to suppose that Plato m
and must of necessity b
That this is in fact P
argument, I5 c4-6. So
make it hot, and then
The substitution of dpt
that Plato is thinking i
sensible objects.
The reader should no
name 'for all time', the
r a rpla The alternative notion,
thought of ofsimplythree as the
three attribute of
thought of a group
asof numbered
particu objects,
as associatedis one that cannot ina
with principle
group be easily de- o
should lead,fended.
we The idea of number as the property
might thin
intermediates. We
of an agglomeration of thingsdo
on a level per
indication of how Plato's mind worked tocolour or shape is criticized by Frege, Die
produce such a theory. But 7r rpla inGrundlagen
this der Arithmetik, ?? 21-25. But
Frege's highly speculative considerations
argument cannot as yet properly be inter-
mediate three, for at Io4c 1-3 and byneedim-not have occurred to Plato at this
point. Plato could have thought of the three
plication at io6 ai (cf. p. 208) Plato speaks
of the possibility of rd rpla perishing, in three oxen as simply analogous to the large
whereas according to Aristotle, Met. 987b16,
in large oxen. In fact, to provide an example
the intermediates are everlasting. On the of essential predication, Plato has chosen
question of intermediates in the Phaedo to see
concentrate on three simply as number.
Ross, P. T.L, p. 25, which is not entirely con-a2 r;d ELr oS, 103e3, discussed above,
p. 203. If this phrase meant 'immanent form'
sistent with p. 60o. For more recent discussion
references are given by Verdenius, p. as Hackforth supposes, there would be no
To these add Bluck, Phronesis iv (1959), 7point
n. 2, in the difference between E3s 7rv det
and Rist, Phronesis ix (1964), 27ff. Xpovov and dEl, irav7TEp 7L.

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does so only 'always, whenever it exists'.' The point is that the op

on the one hand, and the particularization of opposite form, or w
the particularization of opposite form as an essential attribute, on
are alike in never admitting the opposite. But the way in whic
admitting the opposite is different. The form is impregnable
simply never is its opposite. It therefore has its name 'for all tim
ticularization on the other hand, or what contains the particulari
essential attribute, may have to perish in order not to be its oppo
the particularization, or what contains the particularization a
attribute, may perish, it avoids the opposite only 'whenever it ex
Strato of Lampsacus complained that in his last argument Plato
only that: 'Just as fire, so long as it is, is not-coolable, so too the so
it is, is not-dead: for it brings up life, so long as it is.'Z
Strato's criticism is significant in that it attempts to apply to s
the analysis which Plato applies to fire and snow and two and thr
that Plato's method of argument is founded on the similarity
fire and three. But the conclusion of Plato's argument in fact tak
the schema of opposite forms. For the conclusion of Plato's argum
signed, as we shall see, to render the qualification 'whenever it ex
long as it is' in the one case of soul otiose. The particular soul, lik
will be shown to have its name 'for all time'.
From the example of fire and snow and two and three it follows, as Socrates
will go on to emphasize, that fire and snow, although they are not opposites,
behave like opposites in that they can be characterized by only one of a pair
of opposites and exclude the other. The distinction between things which
are opposites and things which are not opposites but which behave like
opposites is essential to the argument. For in the last argument soul has no
opposite. It has not even a pair in the way in which snow is paired with fire
or two with three. For soul in the last argument, as we shall see, is charac-
terized implicitly by existence, and there can be nothing which is characterized
by non-existence. Plato therefore must establish that it is possible to apply
the exclusion of opposites to things which are not opposites, if he is to argue
that soul is able to exclude death without itself being an opposite, or even one
of a pair.

Plato elaborates the numerical example, Io4b6-o5a5 :

'Take a good look then at what I want to show. It's this. Apparently
not only do the opposites we spoke of not accept each other. In addition,
whatever things are not opposite to each other but always have the opposites,
these too it seems will not accept the character, whatever it may be, that
is opposite to the character that is in them. When this opposite character
advances towards them, they either perish or get out of the way. We will

Essentially the same qualification is con- same criticism is echoed by Keyt, p. 169,
when he complains that laughter, as well as
tained in iEt O O'C37TEp ELL, I0o2e4, e9' OSv
o7TEp v, Io02e8, iE I ETaL OTcEp rv, vo3d7, soul, 'always comes to whatever it occupies
EtL ELVa O7TEp r 7v, d12, ieL rpLa vra, IO4c3. bearing life'. For Keyt's point is in effect
2 Fr. I23m Wehrli. Strato's criticism is re- that laughter would come to a man, as hot-
peated with approval by Hackforth, p. 163, ness to fire, 'so long as he is'.
and by some earlier critics. Essentially the
4599.2 P

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214 D. O'BRIEN

in fact admit, won't we, th

anything, than stay behind
'Yes, indeed,' said Cebes.
'Further, twoness is not op
'No, it isn't.'
'Not only therefore will th
them advances upon the o
that will not stay behind at
'Yes, you're quite right.'
'Will you agree then to our d
'By all means.'
'Is this what they would b
they possess to have not onl
opposite as well, as a charac
'What do you mean quite
'I mean just what we said b
the form of three possesses m
'Well, we maintain that the form opposite to the character which brings
this about could never come to such an object.'
'No, it couldn't.'
'And what brought it about was in this case the form odd ?'
'Opposite to this is the form of even ?'
'So the form of even will never come to three ?'
'No, it won't.'
'Three then has no share in the even ?'
'No, it hasn't.'
'Threeness therefore is not-even?'
'So what I was suggesting we define, what sort of things are not opposite
to something and yet will not accept it, the opposite-the example we have
had just now is threeness which is not opposite to the even and yet all the
same will not accept it, for the reason that threeness always brings along the
opposite of the even, and in the same way twoness brings along the opposite
of the odd, and fire brings along the opposite of the cold, and so on and so
forth-: well see whether you would define them in this way. Not only
will the opposite not accept its opposite. There is in addition that which
brings along a certain opposite into whatever object it comes to. The thing
that brings along the opposite will never accept the opposite of what is
brought along.'

(i) There are three preliminary points of language that need to be resolved
in the interpretation of this passage.

(I) IO4C I-6. n o7 0 o1 r LEV ra Tip KKalt C7roAELtOrc 7To6J-p0ov KKC ,aAAo OTLOtvV
TlUEUOcaL, 7TpLv 1Y7oTJiEvac ErTL "rpLa 'v'ra cpTrca LyvEaOcL;

oi3&p ,v, ~ o5 aq, vav'riov yC u-rt sv~S -rpLJta.

oi3 yap oiv.

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Hackforth, p. 151 n. 3, writes that oA UC tiv, etc., 'seems to h

and proposes to insert immediately before it a similar question a
8vo. Hackforth's emendation is rejected by Verdenius, p. 23
enlightening comment: 'But 8v4s is mentioned as a concrete ex
yEVEIOaO.' The sentence is in fact essential to Plato's thesis and
for an insertion. For Plato must remind us, as we observed at t
section, that three excludes an opposite, the even, although it
The slight awkwardness that Plato has made twoness the
sentence and not threeness, although three was the subject of
sentence, is not important. The point of the remark is that thr
ness are not opposites. It hardly matters whether Plato expres
form 'threeness is not opposite to twoness' or vice versa. P
written 8vls -rpca't for no other reason than that two comes be
order of counting. It is in any case natural enough for Plato to
AB (three will not become even) : BA (twoness is not the opposit
and not the sequence AB: AB.
The use of twoness, not even, is determined by the context. Pl
us that threeness is not an opposite. He can do so by tellin
threeness is not the opposite of evenness, or that threeness is
of twoness. In his summary of the numerical example he will
threeness is not the opposite of evenness, 1 o4e 8-9. This too is m
Plato implies when in his preliminary remarks he says that th
characterized by oddness, although oddness is not the sam

cast his But immediately
thesis before writing
in the alternative form,oi3'
whentwvqv, etc.,that
he says Plato
opposites not accept each other' and then speaks of 'whatever
opposite to each other'. 2AA-qAa and dAA-qAoLs indicate two
although in the second case the things concerned are said not
to each other. In the numerical example the first pair, the oppo
are oddness and evenness. The second pair will have to be threen
Threeness and evenness are not a pair. The addition of dAA-qA
choice of the alternative form of the thesis has probably been
symmetry: to the influence of dAAArla immediately preceding
The precise force of otS& rv itself is not 'nevertheless', as H
lates it, but 'nor again', for the preceding statement is negativ
Denniston, Greek Particles, pp. 338-40. The two negative statem
to justify the conclusion, marked by dpa 104c 7.
(2) Io4d I-3. 0p' ov, r, cl, KJi-r/s , -aCLE Et'- qLv, CL O% (CL'V KaTaXI
aVaay~a"Et r7v at'TOV ILE'va aro LXELV, ctAAc KaL E'VLVTloV' vav-o [

translate a as subject of Ka7raaLX7L and "7r as object. This mak

a plural pronoun, an irregularity for which Burnet compar
667b5-7. The combination of plural subject and singular o
enough from the point of view of sense; and if the object is to
it would be more confusing to write a-rc,3v than to write acd
translation gives essentially the same sense by taking l as subjec
airot0 to &iT: 'must they not be those which compel the object
to occupy to have not only its own character', etc. But it seem
of a's forcing b to have b's own character.)
The alternative is to take 0"7 as subject and & as object: '

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216 D. O'BRIEN

things which whatever p

character', etc. This now
a3rd refer to a. W has a7
governed by vayKc ELV.
from rTXEwV.
It might be thought tha

pretation: olarOa ydp G4nro

Kc-A., d 5-6. But the initi
in the numerical example
while the subject of Ka7-
to a single instance. Wh
subject and object are sin
It is hardly an argumen
Plato's conclusion is now
finition applies was phras
ra rpta, C 1-3. The increa
aXr-t is too slight to be si

(3) I04e7-8. IToFaL oVK E'vavla 7'wi ov7a /olS O 1) XETGL aci7-o, dTo EvavrlOV.
Wyttenbach ap. Bekker wanted either to delete -r 'vav-rlov or to write --r o03K
dvav-rlov. Burnet remarks, in his note on 104 e 8: 'The former proposal would
simplify the sentence; the latter shows that he understood it.' Wyttenbach is also
followed by Hackforth, p. 152 n. 3, and Verdenius, both of whom speak of ro
Evav-lov as a 'misguided gloss'. Wyttenbach's reasoning is most clearly stated
by Geddes: 'a3-r '... refers to 7rwl, which, by the previous part of the sentence,
cannot be E'vavrlov'. The fault in this is obvious. Socrates denied that rrota
were Evavwrla. He did not thereby deny that -rvi was an invavrYov. For example,
the even, in Plato's eyes, will be an Jvav-rov, although three is not the opposite
of it.
It remains true that a-rd follows more naturally in the sentence than does
avTro TO Eavr~Vov. Burnet's comma after av-ro preserves avdro as a pronoun. But
the division of a standard phrase, av-' -r drvav-rlov, is awkward. It may well
be therefore that -rd ivav-rtov is a gloss. But if so, it is a correct one.

(ii) We turn to a more important point of interpretation. Hitherto there

had been no obvious indication that there were forms other than the forms
of opposites, apart perhaps from the general indication at the beginning of the
argument that each of the forms was something, and other things by having
a share in them bore the name of these same forms, 102 b I-2. Indeed, since
snow and fire could 'perish' they must have been thought of as sensible snow
and fire.
In the numerical example there is for the first time' a distinction of form
and particular in the things which are characterized essentially by the
opposites: a distinction between 'the form of three', -4 r6Cv rpC6v 1dta, and
particular three, d --rpla. This distinction is kept up thoughout the passage.
(i) At Io4C1-3 the three, -r -rpta, that will 'sooner perish' must be par-
ticular three, since only the particular can perish, not the form.
(2) Socrates' preliminary definition at Io4dI-3 is fairly clearly cast in
terms of form and particular. It will be forms which 'possess' particulars and
S The view that before this there has been a form of fire and a form of snow is considered
under (iii) below, pp. 219 ff.

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impress their character, 18dav, upon them.' The definition is at

to 'the form of three', -r-ov - rptcov 1da, which possesses (part
Irplcrv, 1o04d5-7-
(3) At the end of the passage the three, -rd rpla, that 'has no
o104e3, must be particular three. For a -rpta at e3 repeats Ed= -a
picks up from l -d 70oCofrov, d9, which in turn refers to the
rWV TrpLWOV 83Ea Ka'7crx~ L d 5-6.2
(4) Later in the argument it is again implied that r- rpla can perish, 106 a 1.3
Hackforth, p. 165 n. I, notes this later use of ra -rpla as ambiguous between
'three things' and the supposedly immanent form 'threeness'. r& -rpla here
will in fact mean precisely the same as ra -rpla earlier in the argument, namely
particular three, probably thought of, here as elsewhere (cf. p. 212), simply as
number and not as an attribute of numbered objects.
This leaves in doubt the meaning of 'threeness', rptads. Hackforth, pp. 151
n. 2 and 152 n. I, argues that Plato has telescoped rd rpla and q rpads as mean-
ing both of them 'immanent form'. However, Hackforth shows himself almost
aware of the weakness of his position when he writes, p. 156: 'I think Plato
has expressed his meaning with perfect clarity except... for the fact that
expressions like ra 8lo and ra rpla are used in the sense of the characters "two-
ness" and "threeness" immanent in sets of two or three things, i.e. as equivalent
to SvJs and rptas, instead of the more ordinary sense of those sets themselves.'
(We have already noted that Plato probably thinks simply of numbers, not of
sets of numbered objects.)
As we have seen, ra rpla are spoken of as perishing and therefore cannot be
form. r 7rpla are also spoken of as the object, or as equivalent to the object,
of 'whatever the form of three possesses'. Again therefore rd rpla cannot be

It is true that on some counts -rplas might likewise appear to be particular

three. When he first introduces the numerical example Plato speaks of - rptd'
and ~ 7TE~LT7rd-a as parallel with -r &a'o and ra -r+apa, o104a 7-b 4. Also, some-
what similar terms can be used of particularization: there is the OCrLKpd7rlS in
Simmias, Io2 b5-6, and O BEpdrorq in fire, Io6b6-7.
But rpta's as particularization runs counter to Plato's language in his state-
ment of the theory of forms immediately before the last argument. There
Sva's and ovd~s were used precisely for the form of two and the form of one,
I oic. Probably we should look for the same use of -rplas in the present passage.
(I) Plato says that threeness is not the opposite of twoness, oi08 kV ...
E'vavrlov yd E cr~ Svds 'rp1~8L, I04C5. Plato's thought is probably that forms
determine the behaviour of particulars, and that in this case the behaviour of
particular three is determined by the oppositeness, or the lack of it, in the form

I Burnet, note ad loc., denies that Plato's -rptl and -rptd? in this passage as 'immanent
language here describes forms. There will form'. Since the sequence of Plato's thought
be the distinction between form and par- and language demands that a 7prpla is the
ticular whichever translation we adopt, cf. same as 'whatever the form of three possesses',
pp. 216-17 above. it follows on Hackforth's interpretation that
2 Hackforth's interpretations of this pas- the same thing, immanent form, will be at
sage, if carried to their conclusion, lead to the same time object and subject of the verb
hopeless confusion. We have observed above,
p. 203, that Hackforth designates 4 r Tv 7rptwv 3We have already commented, p. 208,
125a as 'immanent form'. We shall see in
on the implication of the 'unreal' form of
a moment that Hackforth also equates -ir at this point.

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218 D. O'BRIEN

of three. Earlier Plato h

it were, of the large itse

(2) Plato concludes his a

probably because the arg
definition, Io4d 1-3, wh
perhaps also intended t
(3) The final instance of
particular. - -rpt'd, an
Io4e8-Io. Now sensible
water for example. In th
along' odd to a group o
that an expression later
ject of his numerical exa
as numbers, of three, th
The only thing that can
three. 'Immanent' thre
thought of simply as nu
impossible distinction be
three and the threeness in three.
It is true that in the elaboration of the numerical example the two earlier
uses of ptJS, I and 2 above, follow immediately on the use of 7r -rpla. In either
case the swift transition from particularization to form is sufficiently under-
standable. In the first case, Io4c 1-5, it is natural enough, we have suggested,
for Plato to think of the nature of forms determining the behaviour of particu-
lars. In the second case, 104 e 3-6, it is natural enough for Plato to argue from
the behaviour of particulars to the nature of forms.
It will remain the case that in the opening statement of the numerical
example q -rptac is listed parallel with -rd a\ o, particular two. But it is natural
enough for Plato's language to become firmer with the elaboration of his
Hackforth's error has had considerable ramifications. The equation of 7ra
-pla and -rpTld has been adopted in passing by Bluck, Phronesis ii (1957), I 19,
Verdenius, p. 21o, and Haynes, Phronesis ix (1964), 18 n. 7; and is made the
basis of an article by Rist, ibid., see especially pp. 29-30, who adds, p. 35,
that -ra ~EKa and -r ErT-TE at Io5 a6-7 are equivalent to 8EKJS and ' rrE/rdS.
(There is no need to refute this latter identification in detail, since it rests
entirely on the false assumption that -ra -rpl and -pta's were used equivalently
earlier in the argument.) The supposed identity of 7 r rpla and - qptas- Verdenius

uses to illustrate the identity of avT-a& ra c'aa and l25dTrr earlier in the dialogue,
74c I. Verdenius refers also to a'a -r~ d Ztota replacing dltoL'-rrgS in the Par-
menides, 129 b I and d 8. He quotes also a-ra7I E'V7E in the Theaetetus, 196a2, and
aVr- a- 5EKa in the Cratylus, 432 a9. But these comparisons are superficial.
Plato has not written a'-ra - rpla. av'a' is obviously important. av'-ra T- eaa,
avTra Tr apoLa, avra 7d VTTE Katl 7r, T, avTa 7 KEKa are not sufficiently similar to
the bare -ra 7rpla to have any influence against our analysis.2 (In the Parmenides

It follows that ra 8vo... ovK cv orrpTE ovaa Evavrla, o04e8-io.

'ro apTpov in the preliminary statement of the 2 Verdenius's comparisons are accepted in
numerical example, 04 b 2-3, is later ex- effect by Rist, op. cit., pp. 30 and 34-35,
who writes mistakenly, p. 30, of a'r"d rT "rpia
pressed as ~1 vas TaL 7TEPL77ZL (sc. oV3 o0uaa
evavira) in line with 7 7rpLda riL dapr7- oVIj in the present passage, just as on p. 27 he

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Plato writes merely ra %ivdotota, but only because we supply a

expression immediately preceding, 129b 1-3.)
We conclude therefore that in the elaboration of the numeric
from io4b6) there is a consistent distinction between form and
tion. The form is described as 4 - 7rv -rpv 18E'a or more simply
particularization is described as r a-rpla.

(iii) Is fire also treated as a form?' Burnet, in his notes o

10o5d 3, thinks it 'improbable' that fire and snow are regarded
writes that there is 'not a word' about soul being a form. Burne
in effect by Allan, Philos. Qu. ii (1952), 370. Vlastos argues that f
soul are forms, Philos. Rev. lxv (1956), 93 n. 14. Keyt agrees tha
are forms, p. 168 n. 2, and that 'Plato treats soul as if it were an i
p. 169. He adds: 'we need not make the stronger statement that
to be a form.' Hackforth, p. 162 n. 3, cf. p. 156, thinks that fir
between being thought of as form and thought of as particular.
treats in the same way. He thinks that Plato changes his m
course of the argument, regarding soul at first as form and later
pp. 162-3 and 165, cf. p. 165 n. I.
Vlastos and Keyt argue that fire and snow are thought of a
they are first introduced, despite their then being said to perish
forward from the introductory formula at Io2 b 1-2. But this for
general. When it is applied to the temperature example the o
result need be that hot and cold are forms, and that fire and sn
them. Keyt argues back from the formulae at Io3e2-5 and o
first of these again treats only hot and cold as forms. The s
tinguish form and particular in 'the things which are not themse
but appears after the first statement of the numerical example
once entitled to read back that distinction into the preceding p
is no need to interpret so strictly the phrase which joins the num

to the example of hot and cold, 103 e 5-6: E L 83iv S -E3E ' Ews Icrw

This leaves it open whether fire is a form later in the argumen

Socrates' preliminary definition, Io4d 1-3, we have already
pressed in terms of forms. The language of the final definition

has perhaps been encouraged to write a3i-

writes a3;7- - lao'77, where in the text cited,
74c, we have the plain ladrqST. We Ta LtaO
may byalso
the example of the plurals im-
question Rist's ai3-ri7 1tovLd, p. 35. At least
mediately in
preceding, ALGOL tiv L aoL Ka v"Aa.
the Phaedo, 105 c 6, Plato writes simply
(Earlier tovds.
when he speaks of eu'Aov ... u)tAwt
and Alo0v Altw Plato uses the singular ex-
The meaning of av13-r rr 'aa in the Phaedo
has recently been much debated.pression
The latest
av'ro -ro aov, 74a9-12.) Plato is then
additions are the articles by Rist and Haynes
perhaps moved to add q " lao'-dr!oY dvaado-s,
already cited, where references to earlier
simply because he feels that the plural ex-
contributions may be found. Most likely
pression is an unusual one for a form. Con-
av-ra 7 raaa and a3rda -r /oLa trast Bluck, op. cit., p. I17: the addition of
do simply
replace ladro' and d4LoL7o'-. If so, 7 4 they
lad'r~ aVLTdrT
are 'can hardly be because
probably exceptional, in that byPlato theirwanted
very to make it plain that he had
meaning it is natural to think, at least referred to the Form'.
casually, of equality and likeness as pairs of IWe deal with fire not snow because fire
equal and like things, even though strictlyis mentioned more often. Whatever is true
it is a form that is being spoken of and aof fire will fairly obviously be intended to
form should be a unity. In the Phaedo Plato be true of snow.

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220 D. O'BRIEN

probably intended to d
definition. Plato describ
they 'come to'. Both ver
The 'opposite form' an
three, Io4d9-Io and e
Probably it is intended
opposite) which in the f
it 'comes to'.'

At o5a I fire is offered as an example of the two definitions, alongside

q L-ptpLS and 7 8vS. Probably therefore Plato is now thinking of fire to some
extent as form, in the same way as he is thinking of there being a form of
three and a form of two.
There, is, however, a difference of fact between the implications of Socrates'
two definitions. In the preliminary definition it is the object of KaTcdaX'XL which is
said always to have the character of a certain opposite. If this preliminary
definition were applied to fire, then fire would have to be the object ofKa7a'qX7C,
for it is fire which will always have the character of a certain opposite. What
brings fire would be the form of fire, if we are right to interpret Ka'daXo7L and
WE8av of the action of form.2 But in the final definition it is what brings an

opposite, av3'-o 70b ' rbEMpov and not KE VWL Oq' 07 a' aiv-m tt, which is said never
to accept the opposite. Strictly therefore dKEdVWL, etc., could be something other
than fire, e.g. water or wood. And in that case what brings the opposite could
be sensible fire.
We might argue therefore that fire is introduced to exemplify only the
final definition, and that there Plato is thinking of sensible fire.
But it is unlikely that at this point Plato intends to exploit this difference
between the two definitions. The earlier account of fire invited us to think only
of what was essentially hot. If we now introduce the distinction between fire
and wood or water we shall have to think of what is accidentally hot. Probably
Plato intends us still to think only of what is essentially hot. In that way the dis-
tinction in the final definition between a-ro'd - d-o 'E'pov and EKELVwL, etc., when
applied to fire, will be the distinction between form and particular, precisely
as it is in the numerical example.
Thus when fire was first introduced it could 'perish' and so Plato must have
been thinking of sensible fire. But in the final paragraph translated above, fire
is listed with j 7 -rpd and q 8vais, which we have argued are forms, and the two
definitions which it is intended to exemplify, IO4d l-3 and 10o5a 1-5, reflect,
2 It would be difficult to interpret the
E'ntEvaL, 104 b o and c 7, Er... E'AOEV
1o4dg-io, and E. ... KELV e I had hitherto definition at 10o4d 1-3 in terms of the distinc-
been used of one opposite, whether form or tion between fire and wood, even if, like
particularization, 'advancing upon' or at- Burnet, we were to suppose that KatrdaX'-q
tacking another opposite, or something and 13dav need not apply to forms. For we
which contains the other opposite. Now, if might perhaps argue that sensible fire 'pos-
our interpretation is correct, '7TI . . . iva sesses' wood and impresses its 'character'
105 a 3-4 is used without this implication of upon it. But how could snow 'possess' some
hostility of a form occupying a particular. thing and impress its 'character' upon it?
Similarly, KEv dT' will be used in a moment, For fire can turn something into fire: but
we shall argue, of the form of soul coming to it is not obvious that snow can turn some-
particular soul, 105 d 3. Later, Edvaa, as one thing into snow. And yet, for the purposes
word or two, will be used again in the hostile of the argument, whatever is true of fire
sense, I0o6b 3, b 8, e 5. This shift in meaning should presumably be true also of snow.
does not seem too strained.

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we have suggested, the language of forms. Probably therefo

of to some extent as form.
If fire is treated as form in the elaboration of Plato's
find no 'fluctuation' in the sense of inconsistency. The
form and particular in 'the things which are not opposite
and without inconsistency in the elaboration of the nume
Later the language of Socrates' two definitions will be ap
we shall argue that Plato also speaks of soul to some ex
with fire as form and with the form of three.


Plato now repeats his law, noting an exception, Io5a5-b4:

'Remind yourself of it once more. It does no harm to hear a thing more
than once. Five will not accept the character of even. Nor will ten, the doub
of five, accept the character of odd. (It is true' that this, the double, is itse
alsoz the opposite of something else, and yet it won't accept the character
of the odd.) Nor again will one-and-a-half and all that series, involving as
they do the half,3 accept the character of the whole: nor will a third and
all that series. Do you follow and do you agree that that is so?'
'Yes indeed I do agree-and I do follow what you mean.'
(i) In the sentence given here in parenthesis Plato notes an exception
his rule. Fire and snow, two and three, exclude an opposite without themselv
being one of a pair of opposites. (This, as we have observed, is crucial to the
argument: for soul will be something which rejects an opposite and yet is no
itself an opposite.) Similarly ten excludes the odd by being characterized by
the even. Yet at the same time ten is characterized by one of another pa
of opposites, double and half.4 This reminds Plato that the double is charac-
terized by the even and excludes the odd while being at the same time itself
one of another pair of opposites. In this way the double infringes Plato's rul
that things characterized by the even exclude the odd without themsel
being opposites.s
sages quoted by Verdenius, p. 235. Cf. also
r~v otv, 105 a 8. Perhaps we should prefer
the commoner transitional sense, 'of course';
so Hackforth. Aristotle, Top. 135bi7-26, I47a29-3I, De
soph. el. I8Ib27-28, Met. 1020b26. In the
present instance ten is double five; five is
2 Ka T a0d I o5 a 8. Also, i.e. as well as being
characterized by the even and excluding the half ten.
odd. Other possible renderings are 'althoughs This interpretation seems to be suggested
itself' and 'actually itself'. Cornford in his by Cornford's article on the passage. How-
article on this passage, C.Q. iii (1909),
ever, at least at one point (there is some
189-91, adopts the latter translation at one
inconsistency in his exposition) Cornford
point; another time he translates 'itself also'.
speaks of ten 'qua "double"' as the subject
Verdenius, p. 235, wrongly interprets: of
as the sentence, and so appears to follow
well as 'other things, such as, for example,
earlier commentators, e.g. Wyttenbach ap.
five, which as being "half" is the oppositeBekker,
of in making out that it is specific
'double", 'not of "even" '. numbers like ten and five, not the opposites
double and half, which constitute the excep-
3 AAa d "roLa-ara, "r oUOav, Io5b I--2.
Perhaps this is too much meaning to give totion to Plato's earlier statement of his thesis.
If ten were the subject of the sentence, -oG7ro
i-ro "-qrav. Verdenius may be right, that r6
7pCLav is a gloss. at Io5a8 would have to refer to 7d 3EKa,
4 The opposites are almost certainly which with a singular neuter noun, -r 8S-
double and half, not double and single, as7rAdatov, intervening would be very awkward.
Hackforth prefers, p. 153 n. I. See the pas-The phrase 'qua double' destroys Plato's

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222 D. O'BRIEN

The understanding of
105 oa 8, a word whic
and Verdenius, p. 235, c
the 5oLw at o104a 7, b
Schmidt, p. 7o, and G
making Plato's present
fire, things which reje
this. Plato's first norm
use of &xows:g 'thing
opposites.' This now be
in the present sentenc
pair of opposites.'
A minor point. Corn
coincide, of which all t
even, 2, 6, Io, etc. But
probably therefore we
half of twenty. In tha
odd and even, but oppo
particular, though of c

(ii) The simplest way

third is to suppose that
but which are charac
other. One-and-a-half
exclude wholeness. In this case fractional and wholeness are an additional
example parallel to odd and even, in the way in which sickness and by implica-
tion health will be an additional example parallel to hot and cold, I05 c2-4. On
this interpretation the choice of fractions with a denominator of two and three
respectively is of no significance for the example.
But there may be more to the example than this. Plato may suppose that
fractions with the denominator two are a special series of fractions, in some
way even fractions, while fractions with a denominator three are an opposite
series of fractions, in some way odd fractions. It is true that a third cannot be
odd according to any of the usual classifications of odd: it does not divide
only into unequal parts (for this and other classifications see Heath, A History
of Greek Mathematics, i. 70 ff.). But a third may be thought odd simply in
the sense that it is a division of the unit into an unequal number of parts, while
a half is even simply in the sense that it is a division of the unit into an equal
number of parts. jEqLdtAov evidently shows that Plato is thinking of the series
, I, 21, etc., and 1, I1, 21, etc. On this interpretation there would be further
series falling in to either class.1, j1, 24, etc., and -, 1, 21, etc., would be even
fractions. 1, iJ, 21, etc., and }, I3, 2}, etc., would be odd fractions.
If we think of all the series of even fractions having a form, then this form
will provide another exception to Plato's rule. The form of even fractions will
exclude wholeness while being itself one of another pair of opposites, the form
of even fractions and the form of odd fractions, in the same way as the double,
we have seen, excludes oddness, while itself being one of another pair of
opposites, double and half.'
point, that numbers like ten and three areposites odd and even or double and half.
precisely to be distinguished from the op- I There would in fact be this difference

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If the first and simpler interpretation is correct, the introductory

10o5b I will look back to o3 svEraT, a 7. If the second interpretation i
o06z 8& will look back to o0i SeTraL immediately preceding.

Socrates prepares to apply his analysis to soul, 10o5b 5-c8:

'Now please start answering again from the beginning. But d
me simply in the terms of my question. Copy me instead. I am
a different answer from the old safe answer that I gave initiall
course of what we have been saying has led me to see a new kin
If you ask me what it is that, whatever thing it comes to be
the same thing will be hot, I shall not give you in reply my e
simple-minded answer, that whatever hotness comes to be in
shall give you instead a smarter answer, which follows from w
been saying now, that whateverfire comes to be in will be hot.
ask me what it is that, whatever body it comes to be in, that bo
I shall not answer that whatever sickness comes to be in w
whateverfever comes to be in will be sick. Again, what is it th
number it comes to be in, that number will be odd, I shall no
whatever oddness comes to be in will be odd, but whatever on
be in. And so on. I wonder if by now you've got hold well eno
I want?'
'Oh yes, I've got hold of it quite well enough now', he said.

The 'old safe answer' refers to Plato's description of the theory of forms i
his introduction to the present argument.2 There he concluded that the only
explanation that seemed to him thoroughly safe was that 'by the beautif
all beautiful things are beautiful'. The present answer is to be in terms
things which are not opposites, but which are essentially characterized by th

The first question runs, 0o5b8-c2: El yap Epood [LE .Lt av t7 1 -v r (- v t s

delendum existimat Stephanus) ar;ta1L eryyVpear GOEp~Lov O orraic, o0 v-r dacrOaA'
UOLt Epw u7rKtporLVC EKECWTV T7V cdL[oLL, oTc wL t av OEpIuoo~', JAA KO/OOTEpa- ov, I-K wYv
0v v, Jrt cot av rip. The complexity of this and the following questions is initially
the result of the interrogative's being placed in the subordinate clause. We may
compare Meno 87 b 5-6, and for a very close example Hippias Major 288a7-I I.
The difficulty is further caused by the fact that OEpLd'v, nominative, agrees
not with rI, nominative, but with aartalL, which is in the dative because it has
been attracted into the relative clause: , u4la, .&La vv t -r 'yyEvyrac has become
co av OoLa4aL (or C v E wa awtLaTL) 71 EC7/EVr7TaL. The agreement is obvious
in the third example, where manuscripts B and W make rTEpLT-r-ro agree with
apthOLosn: oi38' c L v dpLOtui frtL EyyEVIrtaL I TET S.rro Eg pirat, c4-5.
In this numerical question the first hand in T has rITEPL~-r-rdv. But ifrvE1-o4dv or
between the two examples. The halves of A less literal translation will be: 'What
double numbers, e.g. 5 the half of Io and 6 makes whatever body it comes to be in hot...
the half of 12, are (except on Cornford's hotness makes whatever it comes to be in hot.'
thesis) either odd or even, unlike the doubles 2 7rKptatL 77jV docraAi dECdv-qV, 105 b 7,
which can be only even. The series of odd looks back to iooc-e and Iorid2, where
fractions like the series of even fractions ex-
dkoiaAIjs is used three times. Kop4LorTpav,
cludes wholeness.
o5 c2, looks back to Ko?cldata, IoIc8.

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224 D. O'BRIEN

0EpJ~dv agreed with rl, the an

would be that 'the form of fir
a plausible statement. It is in f

has said a moment before, 105 a

EKELVOL, EO o-r t cv a0270 L7t, CO To E7TtCPopOV T7 o oV) 7ETo 4 EPOZLEVOV o EVvTLT7TCL
JIr77ToTrE s~cieOat. Here EKE VW corresponds to yac-ta-t, while aV;-7r O- '7LEPOV
corresponds to 7-. It is av'ro' 0 d TutpE'pov not EKEtVMt, form not particular, which
is said never to admit the opposite. But this version of the theory does not
suit the present passage. For it does not correspond to the 'old safe answer'.
In Plato's earlier statement of the theory of forms the point was not that the
form of beautiful was itself beautiful, but that the form of beautiful was the
cause of particular things being beautiful. The 'old safe answer' here therefore
will be not that the form of hot is itself hot, but that the form of hot is the cause
of particular things being hot. So too the 'new smart answer' will be not that the
form of fire is itself hot, but that the form of fire is the cause of particular things
being fire and so hot. The question therefore that suits the present context is
not 'what is it that will be hot, whatever body it comes to be in ?' but 'what is
it that, whatever body it comes to be in, that body will be hot ?'
There is a further complication. Hackforth translates the first question:
'what must come to be present in a thing's body to make it hot ?' This implies
that the answer, fire, is a necessary condition of hotness: that without which
something cannot be hot.' Plato may possibly have thought that fire was the only
cause of heat in the sensible world: that in hot water, for example, there are
invisible particles of fire. But snow could hardly have been thought to be the
only cause of cold, nor is fever likely to have been thought to be the only
cause of sickness.2 It is more probable therefore, as Burnet points out in his
note on 105 c 2, that fire will not be the only cause of heat. The point will not
be that heat entails fire, but that fire entails heat.
Hackforth translates the numerical question: 'what must be present in
a number for it to be odd?' This again implies that the answer uovds will be
a necessary cause of oddness: that without which something cannot be odd.
Hackforth translates tovd's as 'a unit', and explains this as a common factor
of oddness: the unit that is 'left over' when an odd number is divided into
tovads will more likely mean 'oneness' or the form of one, in the same way
as -pt:ds, we have argued, means threeness or the form of three in the numerical
example. jwovds, we have already noted, was used to mean precisely the form
of one in Plato's account of the theory of forms before the opening of the last
argument: 'whatever is to be one, Ev, must have a share in oneness, JLovd'oS',
Io c 6-7.
If jovdas in the present passage again means the form of one, the point will
be that it is the first of a series, oneness, threeness, fiveness, and so on, numbers
which are essentially odd, but none of which is the sole or necessary cause of
oddness. This will bring the example into line with fire and fever. Fire entails
heat, but heat does not entail fire. Fever entails sickness, but sickness does not

I Hackforth's translation follows Archer- 2 That fever is not the only cause of sick-
ness happens to be stated explicitly in the
Hind. It is curious that in his commentary,
p. 161, Hackforth should go out of his second
way Alcibiades 140oa-b. Cf. Rep. 6Iob I-2.
to criticize Plato precisely for making fire
3 p. 158 n. 2, quoting Stob. Ecl. I, p. 22. 19
the only cause of heat. Wachsmuth; and p. 161.

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entail fever. Similarly, on this interpretation, oneness entails oddn

ness does not entail oneness.,
If ptovds is the form of one, then in this question and answer there will be
a distinction between form and particular. The form of one will make a par-
ticular number one and so odd.
Now the example of fire and fever could at first sight be interpreted of form
or of particular. We can perhaps think of already existing sensible fire coming
to another body, a heap of wood, a pot of water, and making it hot. Or we can
think of aform of fire coming to a body and making it fire and hot. Similarly,
we can perhaps think of an already existing particular fever coming to be in a
body, an animal, and making it sick. Or we can think of theform of fever coming
to be in a body and making it feverish and sick.
But, as we observed earlier, so far Plato has led us to think only of what is
essentially hot, fire. If therefore we think now of sensible fire coming to
another body, a heap of wood, a pot of water, we shall be introducing a new
element into the argument: something which is only accidentally hot. Further,
the examples of fire and number have on our interpretation been hitherto
almost precisely parallel.2 In particular, in Socrates' definition at Io5a, just
before the present passage, what 'brings' the opposite, we have argued, is
form, the form of three or the form of fire. In the present passage we are
again dealing in effect with what brings an opposite to a particular body or
to a particular number. Again therefore we are probably intended to think of
fire to some extent as form. In that case the new 'smart' answer will be given in
both examples, fire and number,3 in terms of form, in the same way as 'the
old safe answer' was given in terms of form.


Socrates repeats his question of soul and life, 10o5 c 9-e 5:

'Answer then: what is it that, whatever body it comes t
will be alive ?'
'Whatever soul comes to be in will be alive.'
'And is this always so ?'
'Yes, it must be.'
'So whatever soul possesses, she always comes to it bringing life?'
'She does indeed.'

Is soul here form or particular?

(i) The earlier answers, fire and oneness, we have argued, are given in terms
offormn. We might expect soul to follow suit; and in fact Plato's language does
It may be true, however, that soul is theof course allowed for the notion of dprto-
only cause of life, in that other things are7rdpLrrog, see L.S.J., s.v., in part corrected by
alive only through the agency of soul. This Hager, C.R. N.S. xii (1962), 1-2.)
at least is the notion presented in Phaedrus 3 Whatever is true of fire will presumably
245 c-e. Perhaps, however, in the present be true also of fever: but it is best to found
argument Plato thinks of animal bodiesour as analysis on those examples which Plato
alive and of the soul as essentially alive. has described more in detail. Plato has added
fever and sickness, as earlier he has added
2 There is, as we have noted before, p. 212,
this difference: that a group of things cannot
'the form of whole' (if we take the simpler
at the same time be odd as well as even,
interpretation of that passage), I o5 b i-3,
whereas water, for example, can at the samesimply to remind us that his laws are of wide
time be hot as well as cold. (Some systemsapplication.

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226 D. O'BRIEN

suggest that soul too is t

always comes to it bring

(I) The first definition

thing they possess to ha
some opposite as well,
definition, we have argu
that compels whatever
so be a particular soul,
namely life.2
(2) 'Comes to' and 'brin
terms taken from, or pa
n. I). The final definition
It might be argued that
Plato therefore cannot i
it were at a specific poin
metaphor too literally.
There is no reason why
should be 'a metaphysic
Plato will worry over w
248 e ff. But in the early
than the form of life,
already fairly clearly im
and small, hot and cold
that Plato does not appea
ment. (-rd 7- VqVXq- ES8o
that Plato has been led t
the present argument an
If soul is treated here as
of soul is immortal. All
will be that deathlessnes
particular souls, in the s
three uneven as well as three.

(ii) However, the phrase 'whatever body' makes us think of another process:
the process by which an already existing particular soul comes to a body and
makes it alive.
For the phrase 'whatever body' does not have the same implication when
applied to soul as when applied to fire or fever. The form of fire can come to
a body and make it fire. The form of soul cannot come to a body and make it
soul. For Plato does not believe that a soul is bodily.4 The form of soul comes

with the less likely alternative translation,

I Opinions on the possibility of soul as
form have been given above, p. 219. It isalthough the verbal parallelism would be
perhaps not too cavilling to question Hack- slightly less exact.
forth's distinction between soul as form and 3 There is the same implication at Rep.
61 Ia 4-6.
soul as substance, pp. 162, 163, and 165. For
Plato forms are substances, if we are using 4 This is especially clear in the argument
on the similarity of soul to forms, 78 b-8 Ia,
that word in the Aristotelian sense, see, e.g.,
although the sinful soul can of course be
Met. Io8oa , where the forms of the Phaedo

are2described as oral, "-r6v 7rrpayttdrowv described as entangled with what is di flpt8Os,

There would be the same implication oaat.
papd, yewES, and so forth, 8Ic.

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to a body only indirectly. What directly comes to a body to ma

the particular soul.'
The transition from the implication of body in the case of fire
tion of body in the case of soul has perhaps been facilitated by
number. Here too there is something which is particularized no
a body. For if three in this argument is simply the number thr
then there will be a sense in which three as particularization de
form of three and then--a logical not necessarily a temporal
a group of objects and makes them three. So too a particula
upon a form of soul and then comes to a body and makes it aliv
Now we could perhaps also interpret Socrates' sentence a line o
in terms of particular soul: 'whatever soul possesses, she alw
bringing life.' We have argued that Plato's earlier use of lan
course of the argument up to this point suggest the meaning th
soul possesses particular soul and makes it alive. But the sentenc
could mean that particular soul possesses a body and makes it al
There has in fact been an ambiguity running through Plat
from I o5a. We have interpreted the distinction between aivr3 rd
EdKdEVW, etc., at Io5a and the question Jt & v -71 v 7<t adcvuar
in terms of the distinction between the form of fire and parti
in both cases there was the possible alternative distinction b
fire and some other body such as wood or water. There is
ambiguity in the case of soul. We may think either of the form
to particular soul, or of the particular soul coming to a body. Wha

is that in the case of soul the use of ac`a-rt brings the alternativ
into the open for the first time; for the first time the alternativ
has positive support.
If we do interpret the passage to mean that a particular soul co
the conclusion of the argument will not then be that the body
alive and never dead. The living body will be only a sign t
essentially characterized by life. In the same way, were we to ta
native interpretation in the other examples, then a sick and feve
be a sign that fever is essentially characterized by sickness; wat
fire would be a sign that fire is essentially characterized by hea
For we must remember that Plato has made his law of the exclusion of
opposites apply both to what has the opposite brought to it and to what brings
the opposite. Thus at io4e3-6 both particular three, r 7rpla, and the form of
three, q rpt&s, which brings the opposite, TL!E'pEL1, Io4e IO, are said to be uneven.
(We have argued above, pp. 216-19, for the distinction between ra rplt and
-4 7ptgs.) So too Socrates' preliminary definition at Io4d 1-3 says that it is
what has form imposed upon it which must have in addition the character of
a certain opposite; while the final definition at 10o5a 1-5 says that it is what
brings an opposite, dTtE'pp7... . aTrb iTb mE'pov, that will never have the
character of the other opposite. Thus Plato is justified in concluding that the
soul which brings life, CE'povaa, 1o5d 4, and ~1TLE'pEL, e IO, can never admit the
other opposite. For this will follow, at least formally, even if it is no longer

I The argument concludes with L>twv atL

vxaal, o107a . Individual souls have been rEAvrqaavUJV o-rc>v dvOpdorrov and Td' 7~sL'-ripag
vxds?, see 7ob2-4, c4-5, 71e2, 72d9-eI,
Plato's concern throughout the dialogue, as76e6.
is evident from such phrases as at 'vXat'

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228 D. O'BRIEN

the form which 'bring

particular soul which

(iii) Thus there is an a

(I) The earlier answers
repetition from the
think of the dependenc
(2) But the implication
tion of body by a part
It would probably be
the other. Plato has pr
pation of body by a
process the behaviour
fact it cannot be, with
For Plato has chosen
with fire and three. T
form and with the for
write 'whatever body'.
fact of the occupatio
been added at least p
the form of fire coming
coming to number to
exclude the treatment
it was probably inclu
It follows from our a
in the things which ar
intended, to some ex
well as two and three,
precludes this distincti
tially large or essent
between form and p
'threeness' or 'the form
rdT rpla. Plato does no
ideal nature of fire an
which Plato speaks at t
to the form of three.
There is usually in P
forms of what we wou
soul and fire are not l
argument there has b
the numerical examp
form and particular in

It is perhapsandnotatfancifu
as well as than
the the same
between is
form in and
Plato's se
between accidental
tially and
small, ess
there has for a
been example,
scious or unconscious,
whole, but in t
examples of something
opposites. I. els
large and small.) at
small: This
the th
than one of
and exam

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The opposite of life is death. Socrates argues that in being characterized

life the soul is essentially 'not-dead' or deathless, Io5d6-e9:

'And is there an opposite to life, or is there none?'

'There is an opposite.'
'Now soul will never ever accept the opposite of what she brings along.
That follows, doesn't it, from what has been agreed before?'
'Yes, most certainly it does.'
'Well now. What name did we give a moment ago to what doesn't accept
the character of even ?'
'And what name do we give to what doesn't accept the just and to what-
ever won't accept the musical?'
'Not-musical and not-just.'
'All right. So what do we call whatever won't accept death?'
'And the soul won't accept death?'
'No, it won't.'
'The soul is not-dead therefore ?'
'Yes, the soul is not-dead.'
'Very well. May we say that this much' has been proved ? Or how do you
feel about it ?'
'Yes, and proved very adequately, Socrates.'

dOdva-ros, the word for not-dead, is also the word for immortal, meaning
something which lives for ever and is incapable of death. It has been thought
that a fallacy in Plato's proof hinges on the ambiguity in this word.2 Plato's

hot and cold: at the same time hotter than in the way in which three can be only odd and
one thing and colder than another, and two
at can be only even. But life in soul ex-
different times hotter and colder than the cludes, as we shall see, the possibility of
same thing. Now Plato introduces a new change. In this way the opposite form of
feature: things like fire and snow that life
can exhibits a new degree of exclusiveness.
be only hot or only cold. Hot and cold This development of Plato's thought, if such
therefore can be manifested as more exclu- it is, is not unlike the development of thought
sive opposites than large and small. 3. Num-
and expression in the images of the line, the
bers can be only odd or only even in the same
sun, and the cave in the Republic.
way as fire can be only hot and snow can beI v 875 105 e8. The qualification, which
only cold. Numbered objects can be odd Hackforth
and leaves untranslated, looks for-
even at different times, in the same wayward as to -r obv, e 1o, and the addition of
water can be hotter and colder at different
times. But there is nothing that can be odd 2 This view follows essentially from
and even at the same time, in the way thatStrato's criticism, see p. 213 above. It is
water can be at the same time hotter than adopted by Keyt, and earlier, for example,
one thing and colder than another. In bythis
T. Landmann, 'Tendenz und Gedanken-
way odd and even are a degree more ex-des platonischen Dialogs "Phaedo"'
clusive than hot and cold. 4. A body Gymnasialprogramm
can be (K6nigsberg in Pr., 1871),
alive at one time and later dead. Nothing
p. 8, and G. Schneider, Die Weltanschauung
can be alive and dead at the same time. To Platos dargestellt im Anschlusse an den Dialog
this extent alive and dead are as exclusive Phddon (Berlin, 1898), pp. Io6-8.
as odd and even. Soul can be only alive,
4599.2 Q

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230 D. O'BRIEN

argument should lead to the

not-dead, in the sense that f

'while it is still three' is not

Plato is alleged to have leapt
dead and so not-dead in the sense of immortal.
In fact, Plato probably supposes that in the case of soul he is entitled to omit
the qualification 'whenever it exists' or 'while it is still soul' or 'so long as it is'
in virtue of the distinction he has established between accidental and essential
predication, and the effect this has on the predicate not-dead.
Simmias is not by nature large. He only happens to be so. But fire is always
hot and never cold. Three is always odd and never even. So too Plato em-
phasizes now that soul always brings life and never admits death. 'And is this
always so ?' was made a separate question (1o05d I). The form of never is emphatic

(o01 12).
I05d T rr1w' Io5d Io), and meets with an enthusiastic reply (Kal p~Aa ao'8pa,
'Always' and 'never', as we have noted (p. 200), are Plato's words for
expressing what is essential as opposed to what is accidental. What is always
so Plato supposes is necessarily so. What never happens Plato supposes cannot
happen. Fire is always hot. Plato supposes that therefore fire is necessarily hot.
Fire is never cold. Plato supposes that fire cannot be cold. Three is always
odd. Plato supposes that three is necessarily odd. Three is never even. Plato
supposes that three cannot be even. Equally soul is always alive. Plato sup-
poses that soul is necessarily alive. Soul is never dead. Plato supposes that soul
cannot be dead.
Thus by the use of 'always' and 'never' in the case of soul we are intended
to understand that the soul is essentially not-dead. The implication is that the
soul is 'born by nature' to be not-dead, in the way in which three is 'born by
nature' to be odd. Plato supposes that for the soul to be dead is as impossible
as for fire to be cold or for three to be even.
Now further, Plato has already told us that the small in us cannot 'become
or be large' and that no one of the opposites can 'become and be its own opposite
at the same time as still being what it was', 102 e. Similarly, what cannot be
dead Plato supposes cannot become dead. For what is dead Plato supposes
would have 'accepted' or 'received' death, and that the soul, in virtue of being
always or essentially alive, can never do. It is impossible therefore for the soul
ever to be or to become dead.
The point is this. Plato evidently thinks of dying as though there would be
a moment when death would coexist as it were with soul, when the soul would
'stay behind' and 'accept' or 'receive' death, and so the soul would die. There
is, Plato's argument implies, nothing to prevent death (or perhaps rather in
these cases destruction) coexisting momentarily with snow or with fire or
with three. If this happens, then snow will melt, fire will be extinguished,
three things will become two things. But for death to coexist with soul is as
impossible as for hot to coexist with snow or for cold to coexist with fire or for
even to coexist with three. Thus the process by which snow ceases to be cold
and melts or three ceases to be odd and gives way to the even is not a process
that is in any way excluded by the nature of the cold in snow or the odd in
three. But the process by which the soul would cease to be alive and die is a
process which is excluded precisely by the nature of the opposite form which is
present essentially in soul.

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'Perish' is the word that Plato has used for the process by wh
to be cold and melts and by which three ceases to be odd and gi
even. Because the soul can never cease to be alive, because the
'stay behind' and 'accept' death, Plato supposes that the soul can
In the one case of soul the alternative 'to perish' is as impos
particularization of an opposite, or for what contains the partic
an opposite as an essential attribute, to 'stay behind' and 'accept
The soul therefore, at the approach of death, can only 'with
There is thus no need, in saying that the soul is not-dead, to a
cation 'whenever it exists' or 'while still being what it was' or 's
That qualification, as we have observed, is needed only for thin
perish. In the same way as the form itself 'is entitled to its nam
o03e2-5 (cf. pp. 212-13 above), so too the soul is not-dead 'fo

Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge D. O'BRIEN

(To be concluded)

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