Fun with Perseus

Histories of Meaning
A Seminar
Earl Jackson, Jr.
University of California, Santa Cruz.
Winter 1999

Sometimes, in preparing to do a „close reading“ of a passage such as Epistle VII 342a-344, [from which you may have just hyperleapt] I download both the English and the Greek from Perseus, then make a page with a table, and fill in the English and the Greek in columns side by side. It makes a handy guide and reference. Then I can take notes and attach the notes to the text as hyperlinks. It allows for various bird’s eye views of the texts and their topography.

Here’s one of the tables I used in the previous reading:

Every existing object has three things which are the necessary means by which knowledge of that object is acquired; and the knowledge itself is a fourth thing; and as a fifth one must postulate the object itself which is cognizable
[7.342b] and true. First of these comes the name; secondly the definition; thirdly the image; fourthly the knowledge. If you wish, then, to understand what I am now saying, take a single example and learn from it what applies to all. There is an object called a circle, which has for its name the word we have just mentioned and, secondly, it has a definition, composed of names and verbs; for „that which is everywhere equidistant from the extremities to the center“ will be the definition of that object which has for its name „round“ and „spherical“ and „circle.“ 

[7.342c] And in the third place there is that object which is in course of being portrayed and obliterated, or of being shaped with a lathe, and falling into decay; but none of these affections is suffered by the circle itself, whereto all these others are related inasmuch as it is distinct therefrom. Fourth comes knowledge and intelligence and true opinion regarding these objects; and these we must assume to form a single whole, which does not exist in vocal utterance or in bodily forms but in souls; whereby it is plain that it differs both from the nature of the circle itself and from the three previously mentioned. And of those four[7.342d] intelligence approaches most nearly in kinship and similarity to the fifth,1 and the rest are further removed.The same is true alike of the straight and of the spherical form, and of color, and of the good and the fair and the just, and of all bodies whether manufactured or naturally produced (such as fire and water and all such substances), and of all living creatures, and of all moral actions or passions in souls. For unless[7.342e] a man somehow or other grasps the four of these, he will never perfectly acquire knowledge of the fifth. Moreover, these four attempt to express the quality of each object no less than its real essence, owing to the weakness inherent in language1;

estin tôn ontôn hekastôi, di‘ hôn tên epistêmên anankê paragignesthai, tria, tetarton d‘ autê–pempton d‘ auto[7.342b] tithenai dei ho dê gnôston te kai alêthôs estin on–hen men onoma, deuteron de logos, to de triton eidôlon, tetarton de epistêmê. peri hen oun labe boulomenos mathein to nun legomenon, kai pantôn houtô peri noêson. kuklos estin ti legomenon, hôi tout‘ auto estin onoma ho nun ephthegmetha. logos d‘ autou to deuteron, ex onomatôn kai rhêmatôn sunkeimenos: to gar ek tôn eschatôn epi to meson ison apechon pantêi, logos an eiê ekeinou hôiper strongulon kai peripheres[7.342c] onoma kai kuklos. triton de to zôgraphoumenon te kai exaleiphomenon kai torneuomenon kai apollumenon: hôn autos ho kuklos, hon peri pant‘ estin tauta, ouden paschei, toutôn hôs heteron on. tetarton de epistêmê kai nous alêthês te doxa peri taut‘ estin: hôs de hen touto au pan theteon, ouk en phônais oud‘ en sômatôn schêmasin all‘ en psuchais enon, hôi dêlon heteron te on autou tou kuklou tês phuseôs tôn 


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