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Complete Works of Plutarch — Volume 3: Essays and Miscellanies By Plutarch Characters: 1846

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Chrysippus affirms, these four are different one from another. Imagination is that passion raised in the soul which discovers itself and that which was the efficient of it; to use example, after the eye hath looked upon a thing that is white, the sight of which produceth in the mind a certain impression, this gives us reason to conclude that the object of this impression is white, which affecteth us. So with touching and smelling Phantasy or imagination is denominated from [Greek omitted] which denotes light; for as light discovers itself and all other things which it illuminates, so this imagination discovers itself and that which is the cause of it. The imaginable is the efficient cause of imagination; as anything that is white, or anything that is cold, or everything that may make an impression upon the imagination. Fancy is a vain impulse upon the mind of man, proceeding from nothing which is

really conceivable; this is experienced in those that whirl about their idle hand and fight with shadows; for to the imagination there is always some real imaginable thing presented, which is the efficient cause of it; but to the fancy nothing. A phantom is that to which we are brought by such a fanciful and vain attraction; this is to be seen in melancholy and distracted persons. Of this sort was Orestes in the tragedy, pronouncing these words:

Mother, these maids with horror me affright;

Oh bring them not, I pray, into my sight!

They're smeared with blood, and cruel, dragon-like,

Skipping about with deadly fury strike.

These rave as frantic persons, they see nothing, and yet imagine they see. Thence Electra thus returns to him:

O wretched man, securely sleep in bed;

Nothing thou seest, thy fancy's vainly led.

(Euripides, "Orestes", 255.)

After the same manner Theoclymenus in Homer.

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