I. THE CONTEXT OF PLATO
IF you look at a map of Europe you will observe that Greece is a skeleton-like hand stretching its crooked（ 弯曲的） fingers out into the Mediterranean Sea地中海. South of it lies the great island of Crete, from which those grasping fingers captured, in the second millennium before Christ, the beginnings of civilization and culture. To the east, across the Aegean Sea（爱琴海）, lies Asia Minor（小亚细亚）, quiet and apathetic now, but throbbing, in pre-Platonic days, with industry, commerce and speculation. To the west, across the Ionian, Italy stands, like a leaning tower in the sea, and Sicily and Spain, each in those days（当时） with thriving Greek colonies; and at the end, the “Pillars of Hercules” (which we call Gibraltar（直布罗陀）), that sombre portal through which not many an ancient mariner（水手） dared to pass. And on the north those still untamed and half-barbaric（野蛮、蒙昧） regions, then named Thessaly（塞萨利） and Epirus（伊庇鲁斯） and Macedonia（马其顿）, from which or through which the vigorous bands（一伙人） had come which fathered the geniuses of Homeric and Periclean Greece.
stretch out 延伸; 绵延; 伸直; 满足需要;
crooked 弯曲的; 不正当的; 歪扭的; 用不正当手段得来的;
speculation 思辨 投机（经济学）