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2889Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Odysseus in the myth of Er

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  • John Uebersax
    Dec 1, 2009
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      Hello Les,

      Excellent question.

      First, perhaps one shouldn't rule out that Plato placed this as a bit of humor or literary irony to briefly entertain the reader.

      Second, what this suggests to me is that the eventual success of Odysseus' journey does not exclusively symbolize some kind of world-detached contemplative union with the One. It *does* include that, but also something more: an new, ongoing psychologically 'redeemed' level of involvement in ones daily life. This would be something like the unitive state discussed by Evelyn Underhill in her writings on mysticism -- and have something to do with a new level of egolessness.

      This idea is well expressed for me in (one interpretation of) the Zen Buddhist proverb: "Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment - chop wood, carry water." But afterward -- what a difference! The simple of joy of existence, of chopping wood and carrying water, is more evident.

      Third, if it doesn't distract from the main question, maybe it could be noted by way of context that Rep 10.620 lists choices by several people:

      Orpheus -> swan
      Thamyras -> nightingale
      Ajax -> lion
      Agamemnon -> eagle
      Atalanta -> athlete
      Epeus -> "a skilled or workmanlike woman"
      Thersites -> monkey
      Odysseus -> common man


      Shorey:
      http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Plat.+Rep.+10.620a

      Jowett:
      http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=767&chapter=93816&layout=html&Itemid=27

      John Uebersax

      --- On Tue, 12/1/09, leslie greenhill <neoplatonist2000@...> wrote:

      From: leslie greenhill <neoplatonist2000@...>
      Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Odysseus in the myth of Er
      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 2:51 AM

      We have discussed Penelope weaving.  Anyone have any thoughts about the following passage from the myth of Er in the Republic?

      And it so happened that it fell to the soul of Odysseus to choose last of all.  The memory of his former sufferings had cured him of all ambition and he looked round for a long time to find the uneventful life of an ordinary man; at last he found it lying neglected by the others, and when he saw it he chose it with joy and said that had his lot fallen first he would have made the same choice. 

       
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