Archive for the ‘Plato’ Category
FOREWARD. The present short article presents two ideas. One is that, contrary to the received opinion, Plato’s Republic is not mainly a book on civil politics, but an allegory for the managing the inner city of ones soul. The second is that one particular way Plato’s theories can benefit modern psychology is that they successfully integrate traditional concepts of morality with the issue of personality integration. Plato’s works, and the Republic in particular, offer a bridge between modern personality psychology and the perennial philosophy.
ONE of the most consistent and important findings in the vast 20th century literature on personality theory is that the psyche is not unitary, but plural. The subselves which jointly constitute the personality have been variously called subpersonalities, subegos, part selves, schemata, complexes, and numerous other terms. While there are some differences amongst these theoretical models, they largely agree. Herein we will use the term subpersonality in a comprehensive sense to include all these other related concepts.
Excellent reviews of this literature have been supplied by Rowan (1990), Carter (2008), and Lester (2010). Lester’s work is especially valuable for present discussion because he has attempted to lay out the principles of subpersonality theory in a compelling, axiomatic way. In the same spirit of axiomatic and scientific development, the present article, which is concerned with the psychological interpretation of Plato’s Republic, builds on the existing framework of Lester (2010) with a series of hypotheses, conjectures, or postulates.
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Postulates and Conjectures
1. Each person has, besides well-developed subpersonalities, a larger number of less well developed complexes which we might call proto-personalities (or part personalities; cf. Carter’s concept of minors and micros). Each desire, interest, appetite, ambition, goal, project, social role, attachment, possession, relationship etc. has its own sub- or proto-personality. The number of such entities may therefore easily range into the hundreds or thousands. Herein we will understand the term subpersonality to include proto-personalities.
2. Subpersonalities have affective and intellectual components. At the intellectual level, a subpersonality may be more, or less reasonable. Many (if not most) subpersonalities have impaired ‘reality-testing.’
3. Subpersonalities may be conscious, subconscious, or unconscious. One benefit of bringing a sub- or unconscious subpersonalities into conscious awareness is that one may then teach them to become more reasonable (i.e., have better reality testing).
4. Subpersonalities have individual construct systems (Kelly, 1955).
5. Construct systems contain first principles and supporting premises. Some construct systems are reality-based; others are fantasy-based.
6. Human beings have certain ultimate innate values. These are experienced as eternal verities (Love, Truth, Beauty, Goodness, etc.) in transient peak experiences and more enduring plateau experiences (Maslow, 1971), and are culturally reinforced in myriad ways.
7. Subpersonalities whose construct systems are founded on eternal verities harmonize more readily with other such ‘truly informed’ subpersonalities. The more subpersonalities there are which are truly informed, the more harmonious the self-community will be.
8. Conversely, in the degree to which subpersonalities are based on narrow self-interest, pleasure-seeking, and distorted beliefs, their construct systems conflict with those of other subpersonalities. Then inner confusion, competition, and disharmony are the norm.
9. Because psychic plurality (i.e., the self as a community of subpersonalities ) is so deeply important to the human condition, we can be certain it has been recognized before modern times.
10. Traditional systems, religious and philosophical, concerned with the attainment of self-realization, happiness, psychic integration, etc., would of necessity have to consider the multiplicity of self.
11. Plato’s unique fame and status as the most eminent Western philosopher testifies to the deep relevance of his writings to the human condition. Inasmuch as Plato is explicitly concerned with promoting psychic harmony, happiness, and a blessed life, we would expect him to address and resolve difficulties associated with psychic pluralism.
12. Plato’s most famous work, the Republic, is an allegory for the governance of the polity of the psyche, and not mainly a work on civil politics. Evidence supporting this hypothesis include:
(12a) Plato says this explicitly in Book 1 (1.368), and reminds us of it repeatedly throughout the work (see Waterfield, 1993, Introduction for a large list of relevant passages).
(12b) This has been recognized by many leading commentators on the Republic (e.g., Annas, 1999; Guthrie, 1986; and Waterfield, 1993, to name a few).
(12c) Unlike Aristotle, Plato’s writings do not stray from the theme of philosophia, that is, the moral salvation of the individual by love of Wisdom and Virtue. (Aristotle, in contrast, delved into every form of science.) It would be strange for Plato to put aside his immense project of individual salvation to embark on a scientific treatise on political science.
(12d) Read literally, Plato’s Republic contains numerous implausibilities and nonsense, such as the holding of wives in common, the sanctioning of eugenics and slavery, and the endorsement of government lying. Read as a political treatise, the Republic is absurd and amateurish. But read as an allegory it is accurate, sublime, deeply relevant, and a work worthy of someone regarded as the West’s greatest philosopher.
(12e) The most emblematic sections of the Republic, namely the central discussions of the Cave, the Sun, and the Divided Line, have little practical relevance to political science. But they are of utmost importance to solving the problem of how to govern the city of the soul.
13. We now proceed to outline Plato’s model for the optimal governance of the psyche. Our interpretative key is that the citizens referred to in Plato’s Republic correspond to subpersonalities of the individual psyche.
14. Citizens (subpersonalities) are roughly grouped into three categories: Workers, Soldiers, and Guardians. It’s not difficult to see how these may correspond to different classes of subpersonalities, but this detail need not concern us at present; it suffices to note that, in the Republic, each class contains many individual citizens (subpersonalities). Due partly to the sheer number of citizens, some system of government for psychopolis, and one more complex than a simple committee, is needed. We may find models, Plato suggests, by examining how actual cities are governed.
15. In Book 8 of the Republic, Plato considers a variety of forms of civil government: monarchy, aristocracy, timocracy (rule by honor/status), oligarchy, democracy (including mob rule), and tyranny. In each case he makes a point to say that it corresponds to a form of inner self-governance. (Indeed, we can easily see examples of personality structures that correspond to each of these five types of civil government.)
16. When each inner citizen is concerned only with narrow self-interest, there is inevitable conflict in the polity; there then tends to be a progression from more benign to more tyrannical forms of self-government.
17. Plato agrees with modern subpersonality theorists that there is a common tendency towards development of an autocratic or tyrannical subpersonality. However whereas some modern theorists seem most concerned about an overly moralistic autocrat, Plato more often associates inner tyranny with a disproportionate attachment to some pleasure or appetite (e.g., addiction). Mendlovic’s theory of how inner totalitarianism may develop (see Lester, 2012, p. 3) is more in line with Plato’s.
18. Plato’s solution to inner faction and conflict is the Rule of Wisdom (philosophia). In modern terms this would correspond to a psyche where subpersonalities anchor their construct systems on core values (eternal verities), rather than transient pleasures and narrow self-interest.
19. The prisoners in Plato’s cave symbolize subpersonalities which have not attained to right reasoning (based on core values), and are instead chained to egoistic, pleasure-seeking delusion (parataxic distortion).
20. In Plato’s allegory, climbing out of the cave and seeing the Sun symbolizes an ascent of the mind in peak experiences and plateau experiences, giving it a vision of eternal verities, on which basis it may then develop nondistorted construct systems and rules of action.
21. The philosopher king for Plato symbolizes the development of a new ruling or leading (Greek: hegemonikon) subpersonality. One function of this subpersonality is to educate other subpersonalities (expressed allegorically as the philosopher, having himself escaped the cave and seen Truth, returns to help liberate the other prisoners).
22. In a later work, the Statesman, Plato continues to allegorically explore the theme of what qualities make for the best (internal) leader. He likens optimal leadership to art, music, shepherding, and weaving, as opposed to ruling dogmatically and arbitrarily.
23. Throughout his works Plato supplies several means by which a person may experience ultimate truths, thereby helping to constellate the new philosopher king subpersonality, and to educate and harmonize other subpersonalities. Roughly speaking, three means of ascent are presented: dialectic (ascent by Truth), contemplation of Beauty), and moral excellence. In each case we may find parallels in Maslow’s writings to conditions which may trigger peak experiences.
24. Plato’s system differs from much modern personality theory in that it is an explicitly moral system. It allows for, in fact requires, the existence of objective, universally true moral principles. It also acknowledges that humans ought to be moral, and that moral error is something real, and with definite negative psychological sequelae.
25. Modern psychology, in contrast, has tended to follow (or lead) in the broader cultural tendency to consider all morality relative and conditioned (e.g., Freud, Skinner). This overall trend has contributed to a widespread dissociation of a traditionally recognized higher moral faculty (Conscience) from the rest of the psyche. Psychic balance and harmony require integration of moral Conscience into conscious psychic life.
26. Human beings have a telos, an intended optimal state designed by Nature. There exists a real, innate force of self-actualization. This means we are, so to speak, hard-wired to integrate the personality, which has definite implications for therapy and counseling. There is also an opposing innate self-destructive principle; this also has implications for therapy and counseling.
27. Understanding Plato’s Republic as an allegorical work on psychology has decided benefits. One is that we may mine from it important new insights about personality structure, dynamics, and integration.
28. Another is clinical: for some individuals, the study of Plato may be better for promoting personality integration and self-actualization, or removing obstacles to these, than psychotherapy.
29. Platonism has the same objective as traditional religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Vedanta, Buddhism, etc.) It may therefore be pursued in conjunction with traditional religion, and then the two are mutually supportive.
30. Just as it is helpful to travel with multiple maps, individual self-actualization is best pursued as a venture that is simultaneously scientific, philosophical, and religious.
Annas, Julia. The Inner City: Ethics Without Politics in the Republic. In: Platonic Ethics, Old and New. Ed. Julia Annas. Ithaca, 1999, pp. 72–95 (Ch. 4).
Carter, Rita. Multiplicity. New York: Little Brown, 2008.
Guthrie, William K. C. A History of Greek Philosophy. Vol. 4, Plato: The Man and His Dialogues: Earlier Period. Cambridge, 1986.
Hermans, H. J. M.; Kempen, Harry J.G. The Dialogical Self. Academic Press, 1993.
Kelly, George. The Psychology of Personal Constructs. New York, 1955.
Lester, David. A Multiple Self Theory of Personality. New York, 2010.
Lester, David. A multiple self theory of the mind. Comprehensive Psychology, 2012, 1, 5.
Maslow, Abraham. Toward a Psychology of Being. 2nd ed. New York, 1968.
Rowan, John. Subpersonalities: The People Inside Us. London, 1990.
Uebersax, John. Psychological Allegorical Interpretation of the Bible. Paso Robles: El Camino Real Books, 2012.
Uebersax, John. The Republic: Plato’s Allegory for the Human Soul. Online article. Last modified: August 29, 2014; accessed: January 12, 2017.
Uebersax, John. Psychological Correspondences in Plato’s Republic. Online article. Last modified: December 1, 2014; accessed: January 12, 2017.
Uebersax, John. Is Plato’s Republic About Psychology or Politics? What Can Bayes’ Rule Tell Us? Online article. Last modified: December 21, 2015; accessed: January 12, 2017.
Uebersax, John. On the Psychological Meaning of Plato’s Nuptial Number. Online article. Last modified: January 10, 2016; accessed: January 12, 2017.
Uebersax, John. Plato Divinus: Is Plato a Religious Figure? (to appear, Kronos Philosophical Journal, 2017).
Waterfield, Robin (tr.). The Republic of Plato. Oxford, 1993 (re-issued 1998).
v2.0 January 2017
IN HIS Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Diogenes Laertius cites Thrasylus (d. 36 CE) to the effect that the work of Plato we call The Republic had two Greek titles, Politeia (Πολιτεία) and peri dikaiou (περὶ δικαίου; DL 3.60). From the better-known former one, we get (somewhat indirectly) our title The Republic. We will return to that, but first let’s consider the second title. This is usually translated as On Justice, but that is incorrect. The Greek word for justice is dikaiosune. While derived from the same root (dike), the word dikaiou, a pronoun, means a just man or person. Further, the word ‘just’ here is somewhat misleading. In modern English we tend to equate justice with social justice. In that sense a just man would be one who deals fairly with others. But the Greek concept of dike is broader — more like what we call ‘in right measure’ (the goddess Dike is sometimes pictured holding a balance scale). A more accurate translation of dikaiou therefore is a rightly ordered or righteous person.
The word politeia means a system of government, a form of political regime, or, by extension, a constitution. We get the word Republic not from the Greek word, but from the title of Cicero’s dialogue, Res publica (the public thing), which he styled in imitation of Plato’s work. However, as noted by Tarrant (2012) and others, some manuscripts give this title as politeiai, a plural form. This would be translated as systems of government, constitutions, or regimes.
We end up with the possibility that (although Plato, as far as we know, himself named none of his dialogues) the title of the work we call The Republic would, by ancient readers, have been understood as something like Regimes: On the Righteous Person. This would have made it clear that the dialogue is a work on ethics and psychology, with discussion of city governments supplying an allegorical framework for investigating the good and bad government of ones soul or psyche.
Diogenes Laertius. Lives of Eminent Philosophers. R.D. Hicks (tr.). Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA. 1925 (repr. 1972).
Tarrant, Harold. Plato’s Republics. Journal of the International Plato Society, 12, 2012. Online version: mar 2013.
This excerpt from Emerson describes so well the ascent to love and knowledge of God by of Beauty in Plato’s Symposium, or Diotima’s Ladder, that I thought I should share it:
In like manner, personal beauty is then first charming and itself when it dissatisfies us with any end; when it becomes a story without an end; when it suggests gleams and visions and not earthly satisfactions; when it makes the beholder feel his unworthiness; when he cannot feel his right to it, though he were Caesar; he cannot feel more right to it than to the firmament and the splendors of a sunset.
Hence arose the saying, “If I love you, what is that to you?” We say so because we feel that what we love is not in your will, but above it. It is not you, but your radiance. It is that which you know not in yourself and can never know.
This agrees well with that high philosophy of Beauty which the ancient writers delighted in; for they said that the soul of man, embodied here on earth, went roaming up and down in quest of that other world of its own out of which it came into this, but was soon stupefied by the light of the natural sun, and unable to see any other objects than those of this world, which are but shadows of real things. Therefore the Deity sends the glory of youth before the soul, that it may avail itself of beautiful bodies as aids to its recollection of the celestial good and fair; and the man beholding such a person in the female sex runs to her and finds the highest joy in contemplating the form, movement and intelligence of this person, because it suggests to him the presence of that which indeed is within the beauty, and the cause of the beauty.
If however, from too much conversing with material objects, the soul was gross, and misplaced its satisfaction in the body, it reaped nothing but sorrow; body being unable to fulfil the promise which beauty holds out; but if, accepting the hint of these visions and suggestions which beauty makes to his mind, the soul passes through the body and falls to admire strokes of character, and the lovers contemplate one another in their discourses and their actions, then they pass to the true palace of beauty, more and more inflame their love of it, and by this love extinguishing the base affection, as the sun puts out fire by shining on the hearth, they become pure and hallowed. By conversation with that which is in itself excellent, magnanimous, lowly, and just, the lover comes to a warmer love of these nobilities, and a quicker apprehension of them. Then he passes from loving them in one to loving them in all, and so is the one beautiful soul only the door through which he enters to the society of all true and pure souls. In the particular society of his mate he attains a clearer sight of any spot, any taint which her beauty has contracted from this world, and is able to point it out, and this with mutual joy that they are now able, without offence, to indicate blemishes and hindrances in each other, and give to each all help and comfort in curing the same. And beholding in many souls the traits of the divine beauty, and separating in each soul that which is divine from the taint which it has contracted in the world, the lover ascends to the highest beauty, to the love and knowledge of the Divinity, by steps on this ladder of created souls.
Somewhat like this have the truly wise told us of love in all ages. The doctrine is not old, nor is it new. If Plato, Plutarch and Apuleius taught it, so have Petrarch, Angelo and Milton.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (‘Love‘; Essays, 1st Series)
HROUGHOUT Plato’s dialogues, and especially in the Phaedo (which describes Socrates’ final conversations), he presents many logical arguments and proofs for the immortality of the human soul. He also implies that we ought to be convinced that the soul is immortal. Yet, in truth, his arguments and proofs are not fully persuasive at the logical level. Sometimes the premises of his arguments are open to question, and other times the conclusion does not automatically follow from the premises.
This has puzzled many scholars, and some have gone to great lengths to reconcile Plato’s assertion of confidence with the seemingly flawed arguments. The logical gaps are plain enough that surely even Plato sees them. So what’s going on?
I think the answer partly lies in Plato’s unique teaching method, which we might sum up in two words: dialectic and anamnesis. Dialectic is the term Plato uses for his general method for approaching philosophical and moral problems. Through the conversations between Socrates and other characters in the dialogues, Plato likes to approach problems methodically and analytically, often using specific techniques like division, collection or aggregation, contradiction, and so on. His real aim, however, is not by such methods to come up with a specific logical answer. In fact, we find that Plato’s dialogues often end in a condition of what is called aporia, or perplexity, in which none of the various solutions proposed seem correct or fully satisfactory.
But that is precisely Plato’s purpose. For him the real aim of dialectic is not to deduce an answer, but to focus ones attention, intentions, and Intellect on a problem. In making that strenuous mental effort, one may find that a spontaneous insight into the problem being considered arises. One catches a fleeting but definitive glimpse of some important thing, say the beauty of Moral Virtue.
This flash of insight Plato calls anamnesis. Etymologically, this means recollection or un-forgetting (an = not, amnesis = forgetting). Taken literally, it implies that the insight is not something seen for the first time, but is actually a remembering of a truth previously known. That has implications, some perhaps controversial, concerning other aspects of Plato’s theories, which there is no need to consider here. It suffices to note that a hallmark formula for Plato is: perform dialectic to produce anamnesis.
With this principle in mind, Plato’s seemingly less-than-perfect arguments for the soul’s immortality make more sense. We wouldn’t expect him to prove by deductive logic that the soul is immortal. Rather, it is more characteristic of his modus operandi to use the outward form of a logical argument as an exercise of dialectic, the real aim being to have us see the true nature of the soul. And in doing this, we may see that the soul is divine and immortal.
Again, I present this only as a proposal or conjecture. The best or perhaps only way to verify it is to study Plato’s arguments, become engaged with them, and see if they may indeed elicit some experiential insight into the soul’s divine nature.
As noted, this view comports with Plato’s general didactic method (whereas an attempt to logically prove the soul’s immortality would not). Some corroboratory evidence comes from Plotinus, in Enneads 4.7. In this treatise, Plotinus reviews arguments for the immortality of the soul. In section 4.7.1 he says:
To know the nature of a thing we must observe it in its unalloyed state, since any addition obscures the reality. Clear, then look: or, rather, let a man first purify himself and then observe: he will not doubt his immortality when he sees himself thus entered into the pure, the Intellectual. For, what he sees is an Intellectual-Principle looking on nothing of sense, nothing of this mortality, but by its own eternity having intellection of the eternal: he will see all things in this Intellectual substance, himself having become an Intellectual Kosmos and all lightsome, illuminated by the truth streaming from The Good, which radiates truth upon all that stands within that realm of the divine. (Plotinus, Enneads 4.7.10; MacKenna translation)
This comes just after Plotinus has referred to some of Plato’s logical arguments for the soul’s immortality. Plotinus’ language is, as is often the case, a bit obscure, but it seems he is basically saying: “If you want to know without doubt that the soul is immortal, see it.” (cf. “Know Thyself”), which I take to generally support the claim I’m raising.
It also seems fitting to note a comment Cicero makes in Book 1 of the Tusculan Disputations. (The latter part of this Book is in many respects a commentary on Plato’s Phaedo.)
Even if Plato gave no reasons for his belief—see how much confidence I have in the man—he would break down my opposition by his authority alone; but he brings forward so many reasons as to make it perfectly obvious that he is not only fully persuaded himself, but desirous of convincing others. (Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 1.21; Peabody translation.)
In other words, even if his arguments are not fully convincing at the logical level, we sense the conviction of Plato in the skillful and earnest way that he presents the issue to us, and this itself is evidence that his beliefs in the soul’s immortality are correct.
I hope in future posts to list, categorize and summarize all of Plato’s arguments for the soul’s immortality, and perhaps to explore some of them in detail. It might be mentioned that the four main arguments in the Phaedo for the immortality of the soul are the cyclicity argument, the recollection argument, the affinity argument, and the Form of Life argument. A good summary of these can be found here. Other major proofs Plato presents include the self-moved mover argument of Phaedrus 245c–246a, and the vitiating principle argument of Republic 10.608e–10.611a.
A few hours after writing the above, the thought occurred — in connection with a different project — to consult Marsilio Ficino’s Platonic Theology. There I was first surprised to learn that its full title is actually The Platonic Theology: On the Immortality of the Soul (Theologia Platonica De immortalitate animorum). He says much of value in the proem, for example:
Whatever subject he [Plato] deals with, be it ethics, dialectic, mathematics or physics, he quickly brings it round, in a spirit of utmost piety, to the contemplation and worship of God. He considers man’s soul to be like a mirror in which the image of the divine countenance is readily reflected; and in his eager hunt for God, as he tracks down every footprint, he everywhere turns hither and thither to the form of the soul. For he knows that this is the most important meaning of those famous words of the oracle, “Know thyself,” namely “If you wish to be able to recognize God, you must first learn to know yourself.” So anyone who reads very carefully the works of Plato that I translated in their entirety into Latin some time ago will discover among many other matters two of utmost importance: the worship of God with piety and understanding, and the divinity of souls. On these depend our whole perception of the world, the way we lead our lives, and all our happiness. (Marsilio Ficino, The Platonic Theology, proem; Allen translation)
Ficino also says that “in the sphere of moral philosophy one must purify the soul until its eye becomes unclouded and it can see the divine light and worship God,” and that it is a mistake to “divorce the study of philosophy from sacred religion.” (Ibid.)
The other day I noticed an interesting and often-overlooked detail of Plato’s Republic. The entire conversation which it records took place in the midst of an all-night festival dedicated to Bendis, the Thracian Artemis, a goddess associated with the Moon and the sister of Apollo.
Imagine, if you will, the goings on. Socrates, the protagonist of the Republic, walks 10 miles from Athens to the port of Piraeus, where the newly established festival in honor of Bendis takes place. First there are opening ceremonies and rituals, then a procession. At night there is a mysterious horse race where riders carry torches. Finally, the crowds disperse to enjoy a night-long festival, the details of which we know little.
Between the afternoon and evening festivities, Socrates runs into some acquaintances, who invite him to their nearby house for conversation. There they carry on into the late hours or morning in conversing about the nature of Justice. Meanwhile, all around them, the religious festival to Bendis is taking place. Surely this must have created a unique ambient energy that charged and inspired the conversation. (Anyone who has experienced such an all-night festival will understand this, and those who have not can easily imagine it.)
My musing (no pun intended) on all this produced something like a personal epiphany: I suddenly realized how, while Plato is so often considered the ‘son of Apollo,’ that is, a philosopher of the intellectual or solar aspect of the psyche, he is also a philosopher of the lunar, feminine element — and arguably no less so.
Indeed, it is testimony to the vice-grip that rationalism has had on philosophy during the last 150 years that Plato’s strong feminine aspect is not readily apparent. In earlier centuries this was not always so. The ‘other’ Plato — the mystic, the philosopher of love and Beauty, of poetry and music — was known and celebrated. Thus we have the vast European esoteric tradition which owes so much to Plato, the love philosophy of the pivotal Renaissance Platonist, Marsilio Ficino, and the Platonic/Neoplatonic great chain of being central to Medieval art and culture.
Academic philosophers for the last century-and-a-half have explored every nuance of Plato’s rationalism. Indeed, this has reached the point where the productions are too often sterile exercises in vanity and mere scholasticism. To ignore Plato’s lunar side and his love mysticism, is to remove the heart and soul of his philosophy — indeed to deny the very meaning of his word philosophia, love of Wisdom.
The place to begin, of course, is with Plato’s Symposium, Plato’s great work on love. An indication of the extent of modern neglect of this dialogue is that the last book on the topic that even tried to be definitive was written in 1963 (Thomas Gould, Platonic Love, Oxford). Meanwhile dozens, if not hundreds of books have appeared since then treating of Plato’s more rationalistic dialogues, exploring in excessive detail every part and nuance of them.
We are indeed living in a hyper-rationalistic age. A good term to describe this is orthocentrism — the oxymoronic nature of which describes precisely the issue: a rationalistic bias which removes us from our center, assuring disharmony, conflict, incompleteness, and, in the end, untruth.
Of course, it may be objected that the opposite error can occur — to be too mystical, to intuitive, not rational enough. Let us not forever operate at the level of excess, reaction, and counter-reaction. We must have both: rationalism and mysticism, Apollo and Artemis.
But we must not imagine that Plato, the wisest of the Greeks, was oblivious to this. Let us gain a new understanding of Plato as a holy (whole, holistic) philosopher.
How better to conclude than with verse? Here is a beautiful specimen of Platonic cosmic love poetry by the Florentine, Girolamo Benivieni (1453—1542; J. B. Fletcher, transl.)
In Primal Good flows to the world of sense;
When it had birth; and whence;
How moves the heavens, refines the soul, gives laws
To all; in men’s hearts taking residence,
With what arms keen and ready in resource,
It is the gracious force
Which mortal minds from earth to heaven draws;
How it may light, warm, burn; and what the cause
One love may earthward bend, one heavenward bear,
A third sustain midway ‘twixt earth and heaven …