Plato - Republic X - 05 Tale of Er
Type of Spiritual Experience
Soul = Immortal soul = Higher spirit
Philosophy = pursuit of wisdom = spiritual path
A description of the experience
Plato - Republic X
He was one of those who had come down from heaven, having lived his previous life under an orderly constitution, where he had participated in virtue through habit and without philosophy. Broadly speaking, indeed, most of those who were caught out in this way were souls who had come down from heaven and who were untrained in suffering as a result. The
majority of those who had come up from the earth, on the other hand, having suffered themselves and seen others suffer, were in no rush to make their choices. Because of this and because of the chance of the lottery, there was an interchange of goods and evils for most of the souls. However, if someone pursues philosophy in a sound manner when he comes to live
here on earth and if the lottery doesn't make him one of the last to choose, then, given what Er has reported about the next world, it looks as though not only will he be happy here, but his journey from here to there and back again won't be along the rough underground path, but along the smooth heavenly one.
Er said that the way in which the souls chose their lives was a sight worth seeing, since it was pitiful, funny, and surprising to watch. For the most part, their choice depended upon the character of their former life.
For example, he said that he saw the soul that had once belonged to Orpheus choosing a swan's life, because he hated the female sex because of his death at their hands, and so was unwilling to have a woman conceive and give birth to him.
Er saw the soul of Thamyris [a priest and singer] choosing the life of a nightingale, a swan choosing to change over to a human life, and other musical animals doing the same thing. The twentieth soul chose the life of a lion. This was the soul of Ajax, son of Telamon [Ajax was a great Homeric hero]. He avoided human life because he remembered the judgment about the armor. [He committed suicide when he was not given the armour of the dead Achilles]
The next soul was that of Agamemnon, whose sufferings also had made him hate the human race, so he changed to the life of an eagle.
Atalantals [a mythical huntress] had been assigned a place near the middle, and when she saw great honors being given to a male athlete, she chose his life, unable to pass them-by. After
her, he saw the soul of Epeius, the son of Panopeus, [the man who made the Trojan horse] taking on the nature of a craftswoman. And very close to last, he saw the soul of the ridiculous
Thersites [a soldier in the Iliad] clothing itself as a monkey.
The source of the experiencePlato
Concepts, symbols and science items
Perceptions - what happens to perceptions
Perceptions - what has perceptions