The fourfold vision

The Greek philosopher Socrates in Plato’s Phaedrus says that there are four essential qualities of a human life worth living.

These qualities are the prophetic, the mystical, the poetic and the erotic.

Without these states of being, it is difficult to have the 'furies', or the energies that help you overcome odds and sustain your courage.

These qualities correspond to the Greek Gods apollo, dionysus, the muses, aphrodite, and eros.

They are the complete unfolding of states of beings that involve the completeness or divine image of life.


The good life combines all four passions of these divine beings. Someone who has experienced these states of being begins to see the world with a fourfold vision.


Because this vision cannot be controlled by others, the inspired person is in constant tension with the republic of docile bodies.

Socrates was for Plato the best character who represented the fourfold vision that in moments of great clarity witnessed divine images.


In The Trial of Socrates, Plato wrote about the forces that seek to contain and destroy this fourfold vision. Socrates was put on trial by the jurors of Athens for corrupting youth with the experiences of old age.

Plato, who escaped trial, remained loyal to the fourfold vision he found in socratic philosophy, but couched it in allegorical terms that were more acceptable to Greek society.

This unique understanding of the Platonic vision comes from Thomas Taylor’s translation, The Phaedrus of Plato; a dialogue concerning Beauty and Love, 1792. This translation is one of the most important unknown books in English literature, a work that inspired much of British Romanticism and American Transcendentalism. We'll learn who Thomas Taylor was another time.

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