“Now,” said I, “do you know what qualities they have, and what they most resemble?”

“What?” he asked.

“Do you think,” said I, “that in nature there is an up, a down and a middle?”

“I do.”

“Now, do you think that someone being carried from below towards the middle would think he is being carried upwards? Could he think otherwise? And once he is standing in the middle, looking back to where he had been carried from, would he not presume without question that he is above, never having seen the truly above?”

“By Zeus,” said he, “I really do not think a person in such a position could think otherwise.”

“And if he were carried back again,” said I, “would he think he was being carried down, and would that be true?”

“How could it not be?”

“And would not all this happen because he has no experience of what is truly above, in the middle, and below?”


“And would you be at all surprised if people who, in like manner, have no experience of the truth about many other matters, hold unsound opinions? Might they hold a view of pleasure and pain, and the intermediate state according to which, when they move in the direction of pain, they think they really and truly are in pain? But on the other hand, when they move from pain to the intermediate state, might they be convinced that they are approaching fulfilment and pleasure, and be deceived by comparing an absence of pain to pain, without any experience of pleasure, as if they were comparing black to grey with no experience of white?”

“By Zeus,” said he, “I would not be surprised. No, I would be much more surprised if this did not happen.”