Page:Ferrier Works vol 2 1888 LECTURES IN GREEK PHILOSOPHY.pdf/144

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89
ELEATICS—PARMENIDES.

influence on his contemporaries was powerful and extensive, and the shadow of his great name stretched down through many generations of antiquity, inspiring reverence and wonder. In the dialogue of Plato entitled 'Theætetus,' Socrates, speaking of Parmenides, says: "This man appeared to me, if I may use Homer's language, to be at once august and commanding (αἰδοῖός τε ἅμα δεινός τε), for I have conversed with him, and listened to his eloquent discourses when I was very young and he very old;" and in the dialogue entitled 'Parmenides,' Socrates describes him "as a man with white hair, beautiful to behold, and about sixty-five years of age."

15. I have mentioned the Platonic dialogue entitled 'Parmenides.' I may therefore take the opportunity of remarking, that although Parmenides is introduced as the principal speaker in that dialogue, and although it is to some extent an exposition of Eleatic principles, it is, at the same time, so mixed up with Plato's own dialectic, that it cannot be accepted as an exact account of the Eleatic doctrines. On the surface it appears to be the poorest quibbling, the merest verbal hair-splitting about the one and the many; but to those who go into its depths, and who observe how each member of the antithesis converts itself into its opposite in the very act of being thought, it will appear as the most wonderful and subtle piece of metaphysic ever given to the world. It is the very quintessence of Platonism. It is not,