ᾗ ἐκείνη ὑφηγεῖται

Plato’s Phaedo 82d-83e.  It is too long a passage to fight with the copy/paste issues from the Loeb database.

…but they themselves consider that they must not do anything contrary to philosophy, and by both the release of the soul and its purification they are turned this way and follow it where it leads (ᾗ ἐκείνη ὑφηγεῖται)..

“How, Socrates?”

“I’ll tell you,” he said. “You see those who love learning recognize that philosophy takes in hand their soul, which is utterly bound up in the body and fastened to it and forced to examine reality through it, as if through prison bars, but not by itself on its own, and is wallowing in total ignorance; and philosophy has discerned that the cunning thing about the prisonis that it comes from desire,as if the prisoner were himself the chief accomplice in his being tied up. So what I’m saying is that the lovers of learning recognize that philosophy, in taking their soul in hand in this state, gently reassures it and tries to release it by demonstrating that inquiry through the eyes is full of deception, as also is that through the ears and the other senses. It persuades it to retreat from these senses except where it is necessary to use them, and encourages the soul to gather and collect itself togetherand trust nothing else but itself in itself, whichever of the realities alone by itself it thinks about alone by itself; but to consider nothing as true that it examines through other means, what is variable in varying conditions: that kind of thingis perceivable and visible, but the soul sees what is intelligible and invisible. So thinking it mustn’t oppose this release, the soul of a true philosopher for that reason keeps away from pleasures, desires, pains, and fears as far as it can, reckoning that whenever you’re over much affected by pleasure or pain or fear or desire you don’t suffer so great harm from these, the ones that you’d think,c for example falling ill, or spending money on your desires, but you do suffer the greatest and ultimate of all evils and take no account of it.”

“What is this, Socrates?” said Cebes.

“That the soul of every person, at the same time as experiencing extreme pleasure or pain over something, is compelled to suppose that whatever it is suffering in particularis the most palpable and most real, even though it’s not so. Things like this are especially those seen, or is that not so?”

“Very much so.”

“Isn’t it in this experience that the soul is especially bound fast by the body?”

“How do you mean?”

“Because each pleasure and pain fixes it as if with a nail and pins it to the body and makes it body-like, supposing that whatever the body says is the truth. You see as a result of sharing the body’s beliefsand enjoying the same things, it’s compelled, I think, to become the same in its habits and upbringing that are such that it never reaches Hades in purity but must always depart infected by the body, eso that it quickly falls backinto another body again and grows there like a seed sown, and as a result of this has no part in communion with the divine, the pure and uniform.”

Nunc profunde manum in vulnus adegisti

The concluding words of Book 1 of Petrarch’s Secretum.  Translation is the Gutenberg by William Draper, though I’ve been reading the I Tatti Library dual-language edition by Nicholas Mann.

Augustine: . Hec tibi pestis nocuit; hec te, nisi provideas perditum ire festinat. Siquidem fantasmatibus suis obrutus, multisque et variis ac secum sine pace pugnantibus curis animus fragilis oppressus, cui primum occurrat, quam nutriat, quam perimat, quam repellat, examinare non potest; vigorque eius omnis ac tempus, parca quod tribuit manus, ad tam multa non sufficit. Quod igitur evenire solet in angusto multa serentibus, ut impediant se sata concursu, idem tibi contingit, ut in animo nimis occupato nil utile radices agat, nichilque fructiferum coalescat; tuque inops consilii modo huc modo illuc mira fluctuatione volvaris, nusquam integer, nusquam totus. Hinc est ut quotiens ad hanc cogitationem mortis aliasque, per quas iri possit ad vitam, generosus, si sinatur, animus accessit, inque altum naturali descendit acumine, stare ibi non valens, turba curarum variarum pellente, resiliat. Ex quo fit ut tam salutare propositum nimia mobilitate fatiscat, oriturque illa intestina discordia de qua multa iam diximus, illaque anime sibi irascentis anxietas, dum horret sordes suas ipsa nec diluit, vias tortuosas agnoscit nec deserit, impendensque periculum metuit nec declinat.
Francesco: . Heu mi misero! Nunc profunde manum in vulnus adegisti.


S. Augustine. This, then, is that plague that has hurt you, this is what will quickly drive you to destruction, unless you take care. Overwhelmed with too many divers impressions made on it, and everlastingly fighting with its own cares, your weak spirit is crushed so that it has not strength to judge what it should first attack or to discern what to cherish, what to destroy, what to repel; all its strength and what time the niggard hand of Fate allows are not sufficient for so many demands. So it suffers that same evil which befalls those who sow too many seeds in one small space of ground.

As they spring up they choke each other. So in your overcrowded mind what there is sown can make no root and bear no fruit. With no considered plan, you are tossed now here now there in strange fluctuation, and can never put your whole strength to anything. Hence it happens that whenever the generous mind approaches (if it is allowed) the contemplation of death, or some other meditation that might help it in the path of life, and penetrates by its own acumen to the depths of its own nature, it is unable to stand there, and, driven by hosts of various cares, it starts back. And then the work, that promised so well and seemed so good, flags and grows unsteady; and there comes to pass that inward discord of which we have said so much, and that worrying torment of a mind angry with itself; when it loathes its own defilements, yet cleanses them not away; sees the crooked paths, yet does not forsake them; dreads the impending danger, yet stirs not a step to avoid it.

Petrarch. Ah, woe is me! Now you have probed my wound to the quick.

Meditari condiscere, loquitari dediscere

Found in a footnote to Christopher Celenza’s edition of Angelo Poliziano’s Lamia but originally from Apuleius’ Florida (15.22-25).  Poliziano – see bottom for the full passage –  had echoed and tweaked the phrase rudimentum sapientiae.

Tot ille [Pythagoras] doctoribus eruditus, tot tamque multiiugis calicibus disciplinarum toto orbe haustis, vir praesertim ingenio ingenti ac profecto super captum hominis animi augustior, primus philosophiae nuncupator et conditor, nihil prius discipulos suos docuit quam tacere, primaque apud eum meditatio sapienti futuro linguam omnem coercere, verbaque, quae volantia poetae appellant, ea verba detractis pinnis intra murum candentium dentium premere. Prorsus, inquam, hoc erat primum sapientiae rudimentum: meditari condiscere, loquitari dediscere

Educated by so many masters, and after draining so many cups of knowledge of such different kinds throughout the world, that master of truly great genius [Pythagoras], more venerable than the human mind can encompass, the first to give a name and foundation to philosophy, made silence the first lesson he taught his students, and the first exercise of the would-be philosopher in his school was to suppress all speech and, stripping the feathers from those words that poets call “winged,” to imprison them within “the wall of shining teeth.” This, I repeat, was absolutely their first exercise in philosophy—to learn meditation and to unlearn chatter.

And Poliziano’s modified reference in the opening of Lamia:

Fabulari paulisper lubet, sed ex re, ut Flaccus ait; nam fabellai, etiam quae aniles putantur, non rudimentum modo sed et instrumentum quandoque phiosophiae sunt.

Le’ts tell stories for a while, if you please, but let’s make them relevant, as Horace says.  For stories, even those that are considered the kinds of things that foolish old women discuss, are not only the first beginnings of philosophy.  Stories are also – and just as often – philosophy’s instrument.