Plato writes in Republic Bk 7:
"Picture further the light from a fire burning higher up and at a distance behind them, and between the fire and the prisoners and above them a road along which a low wall has been built, as the exhibitors of puppet-shows have partitions before the men themselves, above which they show the puppets.”
“See also, then, men carrying past the wall implements of all kinds that rise above the wall, and human images and shapes of animals as well, wrought in stone and wood and every material, some of these bearers presumably speaking and others silent.”
In Greek, the first part of the passage reads:
φῶς δὲ αὐτοῖς πυρὸς ἄνωθεν καὶ πόρρωθεν καόμενον ὄπισθεν αὐτῶν, μεταξὺ δὲ τοῦ πυρὸς καὶτῶν δεσμωτῶν ἐπάνω ὁδόν, παρ᾽ ἣν ἰδὲ τειχίον παρῳκοδομημένον, ὥσπερ τοῖς θαυματοποιοῖςπρὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρόκειται τὰ παραφράγματα, ὑπὲρ ὧν τὰ θαύματα δεικνύασιν
ὄμβρου δὲ πολλοῦ γενομένου καὶ σεισμοῦ ῥαγῆναί τι τῆςγῆς καὶ γενέσθαι χάσμα κατὰ τὸν τόπον ᾗ ἔνεμεν. ἰδόνταδὲ καὶ θαυμάσαντα καταβῆναι καὶ ἰδεῖν ἄλλα τε δὴ ἃ μυθολογοῦσιν θαυμαστὰ
This also seems the same as the later thaumata that Er describes.
Yet this is a monologue. Plato assumes the role of Socrates, who is actually remembering his words and the interlocutors' in discussion. This creates several layers of "masking" (thaumatapoiois). Why? To whom? Does he believe it or just use it? Is it real or is it just shadow puppets.
There is, consequently, a balance in the dialogue between the "sleeping" man (Thrasymachus; the minotaur) and the "awakened" man (Odysseus; the sun hero, who chooses the life of the ordinary man in the myth of Er); between the unborn man (Cephalus; the head) and the born man (Er; the man of the air - man of earth); between doxa and gnosis; eikoni and eidoi; the cave and the world of forms.
All metaphors must at some point be abandoned, all guiding stars at some point must be relinquished, all ships at some point must be burned if we are to see the new world. The point is, therefore, beyond the point. Not simply to scrutinize the thaumatapoioi that comprise any work of literature, but to see the literature in part and in whole simultaneously and thus to "live dear to one another and to the gods, both while remaining here and when, like conquerors in the games who go round to gather gifts, we receive our reward." Or to borrow from Dante a more poetical way of saying this,
Io ritornai da la santissima onda
rifatto sì come piante novelle
rinnovellate di novella fronda,
puro e disposto a salire alle stelle
From the most holy water I returned
Regenerate, in the manner of new trees
That are renewed with a new foliage,
Pure and disposed to mount unto the stars.