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Headword: *ei)de/a
Adler number: epsiloniota,22
Translated headword: idea, form, aspect, figure
Vetting Status: high
Plato makes use of different names with the same meaning. At any rate he names an idea 'form', 'genus', 'paradigm', 'principle', 'cause',[1] [this form being] neither liable to change nor remaining [the same], and it is the same thing, both one and many things.[2] And again [he is using] only one name in different cases [as having the same] meaning. For example, what is ordinary, which means 'simple' and 'easy', such as Euripides [says] in the Likymnios: 'ordinary, rude, what is supremely good',[3] meaning simple and harmless. It is possible that when [one] lays down [something] also in what is evil, [one does the same] in any chance thing. Plato [says] in [his treatise] on the soul: 'Cebes, he said, you are looking for an ordinary thing'.[4] And he would also lay down [this] in any chance thing. For example, "it will be [no] ordinary thing."[5] [Meaning] a chance thing. [One] would also lay down [something] in what is simple with regard to any chance thing in this way. Plato [says]: 'this will be no ordinary thing, it seems, and will require not a little virtue'.[6]
Greek Original:
*ei)de/a: o(/ti *pla/twn diafo/rois o)no/masin e)pi\ tou= au)tou= shmainome/nou xrh=tai. th\n gou=n ei)de/an ei)=dos o)noma/zei kai\ ge/nos kai\ para/deigma kai\ a)rxh\n kai\ ai)/tion kai\ ou)/te kinou/menon ou)/te me/non kai\ tau)to\ kai\ e(\n kai\ polla/. kai\ pa/lin e(\n o)/noma e)n diafo/rois shmaino/menon. oi(=on to\ fau=lon, o(\ shmai/nei to\ a(plou=n kai\ eu)xere/s, w(s *eu)ripi/dhs e)n tw=| *likumni/w|: fau=lon, a)/komyon, ta\ me/gist' a)gaqo/n. a(plou=n kai\ a)po/nhron le/gwn. e)/sti d' o(/te ti/qetai kai\ e)pi\ kakou=, kai\ tou= tuxo/ntos. *pla/twn e)n tw=| peri\ yuxh=s: fau=lon pra=gma, e)/fh, *ke/bhs zhtei=s. teqei/h d' a)\n kai\ e)pi\ tou= tuxo/ntos, oi(=on, fau=lon pra=gma e)/stai. to\ tuxo\n pra=gma. kai\ e)pi\ tou= a(plw=s teqei/h a)\n pro\s to\ ou(/tw tuxo/n. *pla/twn: pra=gma d' e)/stai, w(s e)/oiken, ou) fau=lon, ou)de\ mikra=s deo/menon a)reth=s.
This entry draws on (and rearranges) material in Diogenes Laertius 3.63-64.
cf. iota 96, phi 141. For the headword see also epsiloniota 23.
[1] For Plato’s identification of Forms with genus, paradigm, and cause see Sophist (253D-E; 254D; 256D; 259A: web address 1), Republic (472C-D, web address 2; 500E, where the Form is in fact a model or paradigm for the sensible things, which turn out to be mere copies), and Phaedo (98A-99B, where the distinction between what is cause in the sense of necessary condition and the cause in the strict sense –- the Form –- is made: web address 3).
[2] Probably a reference to Plato, Sophist 249A, where the subject under discussion is whether or not 'what is absolutely' (to\ pantelw=s o)/n), i.e. the Form, remains unchangeable and standing.
[3] Euripides fr. 473; cf. lambda 502 and generally OCD(4) 'Licymnius(1)'.
[4] Plato, Phaedo 95E. Actually, in omitting the negation (ou)) before 'ordinary' (fau=lon), the Suda text changes completely the meaning of the sentence and obscures it. If one follows Burnet’s text, with a reading that makes a better sense, we should translate: 'Cebes, you are not looking for an ordinary thing'. In fact Cebes' remarks aim at dealing with the cause of generation and corruption.
[5] cf. Plato, Symposium 213C (web address 4), where also ou) appears before fau=lon, and verb is in the perfect tense.
[6] Plato, Laws 918C (web address 5).
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4,
Web address 5
Keywords: definition; ethics; philosophy; rhetoric; tragedy
Translated by: Marcelo Boeri on 17 September 2004@03:28:58.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (rearranged and augmented notes; added a keyword; cosmetics) on 17 September 2004@04:23:09.
David Whitehead (augmented n.3; cosmetics) on 17 September 2004@10:40:05.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics, links) on 17 September 2004@11:21:02.
Catharine Roth (another link) on 17 September 2004@12:29:00.
David Whitehead (tweaking) on 22 November 2012@08:48:28.
Catharine Roth (upgraded links) on 25 November 2012@23:36:40.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 3 August 2014@05:56:33.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation) on 30 March 2018@17:02:12.


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