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Title: Socratic Discourses

Date of first publication: 1910

Author: Plato - 427-347 B.C. & Xenophon - 435-354 B.C.

Date first posted: July 6, 2019

Date last updated: July 6, 2019

Faded Page eBook #20190713

This eBook was produced by: Mardi Desjardins, Howard Ross & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at https://www.pgdpcanada.net

Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide,

      In thy most need to go by thy side.




This is No. 457 of Everyman’s Library



Founded 1906 by J. M. Dent (d. 1926)

Edited by Ernest Rhys (d. 1946)











PLATO, born at Athens or Ægina in 427 B.C. Became a pupil of Socrates. Visited Sicily. Formed academy in 386 B.C. Died in 347 B.C.

XENOPHON, born at Athens c. 435 B.C. Disciple of Socrates. Entered the service of Cyrus of Persia and led the retreat of the Ten Thousand from the Tigris to the Black Sea. Banished from Athens in 399 B.C. Died at Corinth in 354 B.C.












All rights reserved

Made in Great Britain

by Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co. Ltd.

The Hythe, Colchester


J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Aldine House Bedford St. London

First published in this edition 1910

Last reprinted 1947





Aristotle in the Poetics refers to “Socratic discourses” as a form of poetic imitation, and he seems to regard them as genuine poetry in spite of their not being written in metre. Other evidence makes it abundantly clear that in the first half of the fourth century this new form of literature sprang into being, the writings of “those whose habit was to praise Socrates,” as Isocrates calls them. Xenophon refers to them in Memorabilia IV, c. iii. We know some of their names—Alexamenus, Antisthenes, Æschines, Polycrates, Phædo. But of all this mass of literature which centred round the character of Socrates, only two writers have left discourses which have come down to us—Plato and Xenophon. This volume contains the Memorabilia, Apology, and Symposium of Xenophon and five dialogues of Plato. These are but a minority of the discourses written round the name of Socrates by Xenophon and Plato, and only a very small part of the literature of which Socrates was the source.

It is, perhaps, unique in literary history that a single life should form the subject of a new form of writing. The Gospels are the nearest parallel. We know from the opening words of St. Luke’s Gospel that “many took in hand to set forth in a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us.” But the Gospels had, as these words witness, primarily a historical or strictly biographical purpose. The Socratic discourses were poetry, not history. No doubt all went back somehow to the historical Socrates, but the dialogues we possess are enough to prove that they must have done so in very different ways. The philosophy of Plato is contained in dialogues in all of which, with one exception, Socrates is a speaker. For the Socratic discourse became in his hands the medium of his philosophical expression. Xenophon also expresses his own opinions in the form of a Socratic conversation in the Economist.

The discourses contained in this volume have been chosen for their biographical interest because they in especial seem to furnish materials to help us to get beyond Plato and Xenophon to the real Socrates, but they are not biographies. An attempt has often been made to divide the writings of Plato into Socratic and Platonic dialogues as though in the first he was merely representing the historical Socrates, in the second using him merely as a vehicle for his own opinions. The distinction has partial justification. There is little doubt that some dialogues represent more nearly than others the way in which Socrates talked and the principles of his philosophy, while in others there are put into the mouth of Socrates doctrines which are Plato’s own. To deny this would be to deny the existence of a Platonic philosophy. But the distinction breaks down when we try to force it. Some of those dialogues which seem to tell us most about Socrates, the Phædo or the Meno, for example, contain doctrines which we must almost certainly attribute to Plato as distinguished from Socrates. There are no dialogues which are not Platonic, as there are none which are not Socratic.

It is almost as hard to distinguish between Socrates and Xenophon. For the Memorabilia is as much a work of art as any Platonic dialogue, though the manner of it is as different as was Xenophon from Plato. We are only better off because Xenophon wrote much besides his Socratic discourses. In his histories, his ideal life of Cyrus, his many anecdotes on all subjects from hunting to financial reform in Athens and the glories of the Spartan constitution, he has revealed his own character plainly enough: a thorough sportsman in the best sense of that word, an ideal country gentleman with a taste for soldiering and a turn for practical ideas: religious in a rather conventional sense, with strong prejudices that spoil him as a historian, redeemed from the commonplace by his thorough soundness. Thus if we do not know what is Socrates in the Memorabilia, we can sometimes say what is Xenophon. It is clear, for example, that the Economist, though a Socratic dialogue, is almost entirely an expression of Xenophon’s views, while in the Memorabilia we come on something quite different. We are getting, however indirectly, into contact with the impression Socrates actually made on Xenophon; but as certainly there is much that is Xenophon’s own.

In the attempt to get at the real Socrates two different canons of investigation have been assumed. Sometimes Xenophon, the bluff truth-telling if rather prosaic soldier, has been preferred to Plato the artist. Xenophon has been regarded as a kind of Boswell, a poor fellow but a faithful witness, while the fascinations of Plato’s style, his vivid portraiture and his philosophical grandeur have been admired and distrusted. Others have said with as much force that inasmuch as the great man is only understood by his greatest disciple, the difference between the Memorabilia and the dialogues of Plato represents the difference between Socrates as he appeared to a commonplace and eminently respectable sportsman, and Socrates as he appeared to genius akin to his own. These positions are equally plausible, and both ignore the nature of the Socratic discourse and its entire unlikeness to any kind of modern biography. The first position involves the assumption that Xenophon is in intention more the faithful biographer than Plato, for which there is no ground, unless the more commonplace is always the more true; the second assumes that Plato always wanted to depict Socrates and not to expound his own philosophy which he had developed from Socrates’ teaching.

We have, then, no account of Socrates which can be taken as simply biographical, but that does not mean that we have no means of knowing at all what manner of man he was. We know Socrates almost entirely through his influence upon other people, but that influence was varied and many-sided. For we have plenty of evidence besides the Socratic discourses as to the influence which Socrates exercised on his contemporaries. He is not only the hero of Xenophon and Plato, he is also the villain of Aristophanes. The Clouds is no doubt a caricature, as all Aristophanes’ portraits are, but caricatures are never meaningless; and it is clear enough that Aristophanes was not alone in his opinion of Socrates. The Athenian public confirmed it when they put to death the best man Xenophon ever knew on a charge of impiety and of corrupting the youth of Athens. We know Socrates further through his disciples. Others besides Plato claimed to carry on his teaching; Antisthenes the Cynic, for example, when he made virtue consist in self-sufficiency and in abandoning all but the bare necessities of life: when he said to Plato that he could see a horse but not horseness, and developed a logic that made predication and science impossible. The Megarians claimed to follow Socrates when they made virtue consist in knowledge, as Aristippus claimed to follow him when he identified virtue with the pursuit of pleasure. If these were misunderstandings of Socrates, as Plato would have asserted, there must have been something in the master’s teaching to make such misunderstanding possible.

We can state our problem thus: What must Socrates have been to have so impressed an honest soldier like Xenophon by his surpassing goodness and by the improving character of his conversations; to have been regarded by a profound philosopher and poet like Plato as the source and spring of his own philosophy; to have inspired such different schools as the Cynics, Megarians and Cyrenaics; to have been attacked by a brilliant conservative like Aristophanes as the arch-representative of the new school of rationalists and the most dangerous man in Athens; to have barely escaped with his life at the hands of the clever unscrupulous politicians of that new school who held Athens under a reign of terror in the brief triumph of the oligarchic revolutionists of 404; and to have been put to death by the restored democracy partly because of his supposed responsibility for that revolution five years later? His relation to the Sophists raises the same question. Plato’s dialogues are full of Socrates’ encounters with the Sophists. The Protagoras and the Gorgias present admirable instances. Socrates there is always in opposition to the Sophists. They may be treated with respect like Protagoras and Gorgias, or with ridicule like Polus, but it is made clear that their teaching is thoroughly erroneous and likely to have the most evil effects. Plato is largely responsible for the odium which has since his time attached to their name. Xenophon is almost more careful to show how very far removed Socrates was from a man like Antiphon. Yet clearly Aristophanes took for granted that Socrates was a Sophist. It did not matter to Athens whether Socrates took pay or not for his teaching, if he taught the same pernicious doctrines as the Sophists did. There are passages in Plato which seem to allow that this identification was natural. In the dialogue called the Sophist it is admitted that the word may be so defined as to include Socrates. In the Republic Plato makes Socrates say that what is wrong with the Sophists is not that they want to upset society, but that they are not revolutionary enough, and give the public what it wants. The most indiscriminate abuse of the Sophists in Plato is significantly put into the mouth of Anytus, one of the accusers of Socrates. The truth is, that Plato takes such pains to show the opposition between them and Socrates, because the community was plain to every one. What must Socrates have been if the public took for granted that he was a Sophist, and those who best understood him believed that he was the only man who could refute the Sophists and could counteract their pernicious influence?

This abundant evidence of what different people thought of Socrates, and of the opinions of men who owed to him their inspiration, is obscured by the difficulty that in all these cases the evidence is indirect, or the medium through which we see Socrates has a character of its own, and we can never tell with certainty how much of the picture is due to Socrates and how much to the character of the draughtsman: how much allowance we must make for Aristophanes’ prejudice and perversity; for Xenophon’s evident enthusiasm for moral improvement and desire to make out that Socrates was eminently respectable; for Plato’s idealism of Socrates the martyr.

Fortunately there is one witness more strictly historical than the rest. Aristotle refers to Socrates in several passages, and distinguishing him from his successors including Plato, mentions his special characteristics as a philosopher, and several times criticizes his teaching on Ethics. It will be worth while to notice these passages, scanty as they are. In the thirteenth book of the Metaphysics he says that there are two things which can justly be attributed to Socrates, “dialectical discourses and the art of universal definition.” The word translated “dialectical” means a discourse in which you take your opponent along with you by means of admissions. That Socrates used this method of arguing is evident in all our sources. “Universal definition” is what Xenophon refers to when he says, Memorabilia IV, that Socrates always endeavoured to find out the nature of each thing and what in Plato becomes the search for the Form or Idea. These two points are both logical.

The other passages refer to Ethics. In the Magna Moralia Book I, c. i, Aristotle says that Socrates was better in his teaching on Ethics than Pythagoras, but was not correct because “he made the virtues sciences (or forms of knowledge), but this is an impossible view.” Aristotle explains why it is impossible, and continues, “It follows, therefore, that in making the virtues sciences he did away with the unreasoning part of the soul, and thus did away with both passion and moral character. Therefore he was wrong here in what he said of the virtues. Afterwards Plato divided the soul correctly into the reasoning and unreasoning parts.” The other passages in Aristotle are all concerned with this point, that Socrates identified virtue with knowledge and got into difficulties by not seeing that virtue involves something else. “Many say that it is impossible if a man has knowledge that he should have no strength of will. For it would be a strange thing, so Socrates thought, if when knowledge were in a man, something else should master him and drag him about like a slave. For Socrates stoutly resisted the notion that there was such a thing as weakness of will. He said that no man acts on purpose against what is best but only through ignorance. But this reasoning,” Aristotle concludes, “is in plain contradiction with the facts” (Nicomachean Ethics, vii. 3). So again: “For these reasons some say that all virtues are forms of insight, and in this Socrates was partly right and partly wrong: wrong in thinking all virtues forms of insight, but right in that they involve insight. Socrates thought that the virtues were forms of reasoning, while we think that they involve reasoning” (Nicomachean Ethics, vi. 13). Aristotle points out that this involved Socrates in determinism. “Socrates said that it was not in our power to be good or bad. For, he said, if you were to ask a man whether he would rather be just or unjust, no one would choose injustice: similarly with courage and cowardice and all the other virtues. So clearly if men were bad it was not of their will; and therefore,” Aristotle adds, “not of their will if they were good” (Magna Moralia, I. c. 9). In criticism of a further consequence of this one-sidedness Aristotle points out how Socrates confused virtue with the arts. “The old Socrates believed that the knowledge of virtue was the end, and therefore inquired what justice is and what courage, and so with each of the elements of virtue. And he did this on principle. For he thought that all the virtues were forms of knowledge, so that knowing what was just and being just were the same. For if we have learnt geometry and house-building, we are in having done so house-builders and geometers. That is why Socrates inquired what justice is, and not how and from what conditions it comes into being. Now this is perfectly right in the theoretical sciences; for astronomy and natural science and geometry are concerned with nothing but the knowledge and contemplation of the nature of the subject of these sciences; though that does not prevent them being incidentally useful to us for many necessary purposes. But in the productive sciences the end is something separate from the science and knowledge, as health is different from medicine and a well-ordered constitution from politics. No doubt the knowledge of all good things is good; but with virtue the most valuable thing is not to know what virtue is, but to know its conditions. For we do not want to know what bravery is, but to be brave; nor what justice is, but to be just; just as being healthy is better than to know what health is, and being in a good condition better than knowing what a good condition is” (Eudemian Ethics, I, 5).

All this evidence, and the rest of it is to the same effect, goes to show that Socrates’ principal doctrine was the identification of knowledge and virtue or the complete rationalisation of morality, and that, as was natural for a pioneer, his rationalism was one-sided. In claiming persistently that science and reasoning should be applied to conduct as well as to everything else, he seems to have asserted that knowledge or the power of defining the virtues was all that was necessary, and therefore that if a man had that knowledge he must necessarily be good; if he had not, he could not be good. This meant, as Aristotle says, that he ignored the irrational elements in the soul, that he could give no explanation of the fact that men may know what is right without doing it, and may do what is right without being able to explain it.

This is one consideration suggested by the many-sided character of Socrates’ influence. If among his disciples opinions as to the essence of his teaching were so conflicting, the inference is that his teaching was not complete and systematic, or at least that it involved some central contradiction or omission which his different disciples worked out in different ways. One striking element in his teaching bears this out: his confession of his own ignorance. He insisted on the necessity of knowledge, and yet admitted that he himself had none except the knowledge of his own ignorance. What he taught was a method of approaching moral questions, and that method in different hands gave the most varying results. Further, Socrates was not a philosopher of the schools. He wrote nothing, he only talked, questioned and argued. What impressed itself upon his hearers and disciples was not so much any definite truths which he proclaimed, but the way in which he talked and the man he was. Socrates’ method in questioning and arguing was the common source of all the philosophies which followed as it is the source of all Socratic discourses.

Both Xenophon and Plato bear witness to the untechnical character of Socrates’ teaching. The best account of it is given by Alcibiades in Plato’s Symposium, p. 221: “If any one will listen to the talk of Socrates, it will appear to him at first extremely ridiculous. He is always talking about great market-asses and brass-founders, and leather-cutters, and skin-dressers; and this is his perpetual custom, so that any dull and unobservant person might easily laugh at his discourse.” Compare the following passage in the Gorgias, 491. Callicles: “How you go on, always talking in the same way, Socrates!” Socrates: “Yes, Callicles, and also about the same things.” Callicles: “Yes, by the gods, you are literally always talking of cobblers and pedlars and cooks and doctors, as if this had to do with our argument.” So in the Memorabilia I, c. ii, Xenophon makes Critias say to Socrates, “But it will be necessary for you to abstain from speaking of those shoemakers and smiths: indeed, I think that they must now be worn out from being so often in your mouth.” There is a passage to the same effect in Memorabilia IV, c. iv. “Hippias of Elis, on his return to Athens after an absence of some time, happened to come in the way of Socrates as he was observing to some people how surprising it was that if a man wished to have another taught to be a shoemaker or a carpenter or a worker in brass or a rider, he was at no loss whither he should send him to effect his object; while as to justice, if any one wished either to learn it himself, or to have his son or slave taught it, he did not know whither he should go to obtain his desire. Hippias, hearing this remark, said as if jesting with him, ‘What! are you still saying the same things, Socrates, that I heard from you so long ago?’ ”

These passages may seem at first sight only to show how little technical were Socrates’ discourses, how they reflected the busy life of the Athenian streets. Socrates was clearly a man of unbounded interest in all things human; as his clear penetrating mind occupied itself with the concerns of one citizen after another, we may be sure that he made many enlightening remarks on the details of their work and asked many a suggestive question. So we get the Socrates of Xenophon, who, “whenever he conversed with any of those who were engaged in arts or trades, and who wrought at them for gain, proved of service to them,” who talks with Parrhasius the painter, Cleito the statuary and Pistias the corselet-maker, a man of shrewd observation and wide experience, well fitted to give advice to young men ignorant of the world. That was clearly the side of Socrates which Xenophon most admired. But on further consideration these passages will be found to indicate the kernel of Socrates’ teaching. He talked of cobblers and carpenters not to improve cobbling and carpentering, but to learn a lesson from them. The point of the conversation which Hippias interrupted is that the carpenters know their business and can teach it: it is unfortunately not the case with just men. Socrates was always talking of carpenters and cobblers because he was always contrasting the knowledge which men had of their trades with their ignorance of life or virtue. In the last of the passages cited from Aristotle, Aristotle is trying to show where Socrates went wrong in this comparison of virtue with the crafts. In Plato’s Apology Socrates, in describing how he has found all men ignorant, makes a partial exception of the artisans. They do know their own craft though they spoil their knowledge by thinking they know many other things of which they are ignorant. In Plato we continually find Socrates asking: Who can teach virtue, as a carpenter can teach carpentering? Any one can say what medicine is, why can you not say in the same way what justice is? He is continually holding up as an example the businesslike and scientific procedure of the craftsman and asking why it is not followed in morals. He was always talking of carpenters and cobblers because the likeness between virtue and the crafts was the most important part of his teaching.

In this Socrates was a true son of Athens. Hippias in the Protagoras calls Athens “the home and altar of Grecian wisdom.” It was the ideal of Pericles that Athens “should be the school of Hellas,” and throughout that great funeral oration where these words occur, Pericles insists that the greatest glory of the Athenians is their belief in counsel and insight, their conviction that whatever fortune the gods may send it is always better to have thought things out. Foresight and contrivance are the great Athenian virtues.

“Many wonders there be, but nought more wondrous than man.”

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

“Master of cunning he. . . .

Speech and the wind-swift speed of counsel and civic wit,

He hath learnt for himself all these: and the arrowy rain to fly,

And the nipping airs that freeze, ’neath the open winter sky.

He hath provision for all.”

The speeches of Pericles in Thucydides express an outlook on life very like that of Socrates. There is much in war that cannot be foreseen. The final issue of events is in the hands of the gods. But that does not alter the fact that there is a sphere where skill or ignorance, foresight or carelessness make all the difference. Socrates likewise distinguished between what was and what was not in the power of man. There were many things out of man’s power. Into these there was no use in inquiring. They should be left to the gods. But if we are to render to God the things which are God’s, we are to keep the tighter hold of the things that are man’s. Man was concerned with what he should do, how he should act and what he should choose. There knowledge was powerful and necessary. Plato in his Laws compares man’s life to a boat in a storm. The storm may overwhelm the most skilful seamen, but it is always better to know how to steer.

If the Athenians loved wisdom, it was because they were largely a community of skilled craftsmen, because every one of them knew what was good and what was bad work, and that “tools do not teach their own use.” Success only came with learning and knowledge. Socrates is always appealing to men who know the difference between the expert and the amateur and asking how they can hope for success in life, without knowledge of rule and standard, when they would never hope for success in their craft under such conditions. Who would start a trade without a teacher? Where is the teacher who will instruct men in the art of life?

It is easy to see how Socrates’ rationalism developed from this position. The first essential in a skilled craft is to know what you want to produce. It is unthinkable that a craftsman should start out to make something he knows not what. He must first know what is wanted, the size of the shoe or the specifications of the ship, and then proceed to discover how the desired result comes about. Given knowledge of the end and of the means to effect it no more is needed. Without such knowledge nothing can be done. This working principle Socrates applied to life. All men seek the good. That is the end of life. Then they must first know what it is and what produces it. Such knowledge should differentiate the good man from the bad as it differentiates the good from the bad craftsman. Hence the double paradox of Socrates: men only do wrong through ignorance since obviously all men desire the good, and if they fail to obtain it, it is because they have not apprehended it clearly or have taken the wrong means to effect it; and secondly no one can be good without knowledge and skill, although when questioned nobody seemed to have that knowledge.

It is customary to settle Socrates’ difficulties by asserting that he ignored the will. As this criticism does not explain what the will is, it says little more than that Socrates ignored something, and the paradoxes into which his teaching leads make that obvious enough. If we are to criticize him by examining his argument, we must find why skill cannot be applied to life so simply as it is to a craft. These are the lines of Aristotle’s criticism. In craftsmanship the desirability of the ends is taken for granted. It is not the shoemaker’s business whether people do well to wear shoes or not. They decide that, and the craftsman accepts the end their wants prescribe. Further, the end can be clearly described. It can be pointed to and measured—a shoe to fit this foot, a ship of such and such a size. But when we come to life as a whole, we have to consider the desirability of any end, to find something which is good not for anything else but in itself; and the end of life, whatever it be, is certainly not a thing which can be measured or pointed to. The rules of skill which are so successful in the crafts are not immediately applicable to conduct, because in conduct we are concerned with questions which the crafts never raise. To say with Socrates that if we know what is good we shall do it, we shall have to give a new meaning to knowledge, a meaning which will involve an element of appreciation or value, and therefore it will not be a knowledge which can be taught in the ordinary way. It was on those lines that Plato developed Socrates’ paradox of the involuntariness of evil. He says in the Laws that we must distinguish between two kinds of ignorance. We may be ignorant that this is right or that is wrong; this ignorance can be cured by instruction; or we may have the fatal and incurable ignorance of thinking that doing wrong does not matter. The second kind of ignorance cannot be cured by instruction. The knowledge which is contrasted with it is not like the knowledge of a craftsman at all. Plato maintains Socrates’ doctrine that virtue is knowledge only by giving up the meaning of knowledge on which the doctrine was originally based.

So we must change the meaning we give to ignorance if we are to explain how it is that people who are obviously good cannot say what the good is. Socrates confessed that he himself could not say what virtue was, and he had never found any man who could. Were all men, including himself, therefore bad? Plato discusses this difficulty in the Meno, and solves it by inserting between knowledge and ignorance a third state of right opinion. Men act rightly because they believe rightly without knowing. Such right belief comes to men by the grace of God, and cannot be imparted by instruction or argument. By this modification Plato escapes the difficulty into which Socrates fell, and he yet retains the belief in the primacy of knowledge. For only the man who has knowledge of virtue is able to instruct others or is fit to set up by legislation a standard which others are blindly to follow. Therefore the philosopher who has knowledge will be the only perfect good man, for his goodness will be all his own, and his knowledge can only be attained in the way which Socrates laid down: dialectical inquiry into the nature of the good. That search is for Plato much more complex and all-embracing than anything which Socrates had conceived. It follows the Socratic method, but the end it seeks is not an isolated one which can be described like the end of the craftsman, but the unity of all experience, intelligible but not perceivable.

Others solved the difficulty in other ways. There are some things in life which seem obviously not to be mere means to something else. Knowledge and pleasure are the most obvious of those. The Megarians identified the former with the good, the Cyrenaics the latter, quite probably following some hints in Socrates’ teaching, as the Protagoras suggests.

We have discussed so far the solutions which others found to the difficulties of the Socratic position. He himself was probably not troubled with them. A discoverer very rarely sees where his discovery is one-sided or deficient, but apart from such general considerations Socrates solved in his character difficulties which were too great for his theory. If he never faced the difficulty involved in weakness of the will, it was because he himself had no experience of it. He was clearly a man to whom conceiving a thing as right and doing it inevitably went together. He had that strength and constancy of character which is not troubled with the psychology of weakness because it has no inkling of it. Further, though he never discovered the good, he never gave up his belief in it and his determination to follow the best knowledge he had. The irrational part of the soul, though no room was found for it in his theory, was evident enough in his practice. Whatever his peculiar inner sign may have been, whether, as some writers have held, he was of a nervous mystical temperament and had sudden mysterious mental impressions, or whether he only meant what we should call the voice of conscience, in either case the inner sign was not the outcome of reasoning and inquiry. It was given by God to help him in the perplexities of conduct. Plato makes him mention it in the Republic as one of the ways in which by God’s grace men are saved to true philosophy when all external influences are against them. As a man, therefore, he had not the one-sidedness of his theory, he was a good upright citizen, the best in Athens. Yet his opponents were not without excuse. He atoned for his own part for the defects of his theory, but was there any guarantee that his disciples would not take the theory with its defects without making up for them by their character? Socrates taught that no goodness was worth having unless it could stand the test of his questioning, and he had found none which would. To that he himself added an unquenchable belief in the goodness for which he was searching, but what would the result of his teaching be on men without that faith? His opponents might well say, Here is a man who criticizes and pulls to pieces all our beliefs, who makes ridiculous all our most honoured teachers and examples, and who does not profess to put anything in their place; confesses, indeed, that he cannot. What must be the result of such conduct? What are we to do if we must give up everything that holds society together because we cannot exactly justify it on a rational basis? Two very different answers were given to such questions. Plato’s answer might be expressed in the famous words of Hegel, “The wounds of reason can only be healed by deeper reason.” He believed that if the work of criticism was at first destructive, it only destroyed in order to build better. It was not thinking that was wrong but insufficient thinking. Even Plato admitted that some might take harm from criticism. He urges in the Republic that dialectic should not be begun at too early an age, for the young “in their first taste of dialectic treat it as a game and use it only for purposes of contradiction. They imitate those who refute them, and refute others in their turn, delighting like puppies in dragging about and pulling to pieces whoever happens to be near them.” But dialectic and criticism thoroughly pursued alone could put morality and goodness on a sure foundation. Others thought or at least felt differently. They only saw the destructive side of Socratic teaching. Again and again they must have felt, after being criticized by Socrates, that while he beat them in argument, in their hearts they were unconvinced, and that for the sake of all that they counted of value in life they must cling to beliefs and practices which reason could not defend. Plato in the Apology makes Socrates say that his accusers represent the politicians, the orators and the poets. The collocation is significant. For all these rely on what Plato calls persuasion as opposed to knowledge; all these, however much they may use definite knowledge, appeal to deep instinctive elements in the soul; all these were criticized by Socrates and denounced as shams. The politician could see how Socrates, by applying the analogy of the skilled trades to politics, made democracy seem ridiculous. The rhetorician could not tolerate a teacher who insisted that persuasiveness came only from knowledge, nor the poet a mode of criticism which made the authority of poetry to consist only in the scientific truth of the information it conveyed. If Socrates were right, politics and rhetoric and poetry must go. Plato was prepared to say that society must be revolutionized and all elements in it subordinated to philosophy. But there is little to wonder at if most men who only saw the threatened destruction and had not Socrates’ and Plato’s heroic faith in philosophy, should feel that Socrates’ teaching was the ruin of Athens. There are some now-a-days who agree with them. It must be the verdict of all those who believe that in the end life is irrational, that it rests on beliefs which not only cannot be reduced to logical grounds but which are obviously illogical, that religion and morality and art are instinctive and are destroyed if subjected to a reasoning power which should be confined to the working out of the details and the machinery of life. We differ from the Athenian people only if we have the belief of Plato, that while the bases of life and society are not to be apprehended and explained by the same methods as are required for the demonstration of a mathematical problem, while our life may often be more profound than our powers of explaining it, yet apprehension of the ends of life, the power to see life as a whole and its meaning, is not contrary to reason but demands its highest exercise.

A. D. Lindsay.

Note.—The translation of Xenophon’s Memorabilia in this volume is by the Rev. J. S. Watson, first published in 1848, as edited by the Rev. R. J. Hughes for the Temple Classics, 1904. The translation of Xenophon’s Apology is by Sarah Fielding, sister of the novelist, published in 1762; of his Symposium by James Welwood, M.D., published in 1710. The translations of Plato’s Lysis and Protagoras are by J. Wright, first published in 1848; and of the Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito, by F. M. Stawell, published in Temple Greek and Latin Classics, 1904.



Translations:—Memorabilia: E. Bysshe, 1712, 1758, with Introduction by H. Morley (Cassell’s National Library), 1889, 1904; S. Fielding (with Apology), 1762, 1767, 1788; E. Levien, 1872 (Bayard Series); J. S. Watson (with Anabasis), Bohn, 1848, Lubbock’s Hundred Books, 78, 1894.

Symposium: J. Welwood, 1710, 1750; C. I. Brownson and Todd, 1914.

Works: (Minor), translated by several hands, 1813; A. Cooper, Spelman, Smith, Fielding, and others, 1831; (Minor), J. S. Watson, Bohn, 1848; H. G. Dakyns, 1890.


Translations:—The Republic: H. Spens, 1763; Davies and Vaughan, 1852, 1858, 1866; B. Jowett, 1881, 3rd edition 1888, 1908; T. Taylor, with Introduction by T. Wratislaw, 1894; W. L. Bryan and C. L. Bryan, 1898; Translation by Sydenham and Taylor, revised by W. H. D. Rouse (Methuen’s Standard Library), 1906; A. D. Lindsay, 1907, 1908.

Symposium: by Percy Bysshe Shelley, in Cassell’s National Library (with other pieces), 1887; 1905; F. Sydenham (with Io, Hippias, Alcibiades and Philebus, also separately), 1759–80.

Meno: by R. W. Mackay, 1869; From the text of Baiter and Orelli (Oxford trans. of classics), 1880; with Apology and Crito, St. George Stock and C. A. Marcon, 1887.

Phædo: by Theobald, 1713; Mme. Dacier (New York), 1833; C. S. Stanford, 1873; E. M. Cope, 1875; with one or more other works: 1675; 1730 (?); by T. Taylor, 1793; C. S. Stanford, 1835; with Introduction by W. W. Goodwin (parts only), 1879, 1887; F. J. Church, 1880, 1886; H. Cary, Bohn, 1888; Lubbock’s Hundred Books, 34, 1892; Cassell’s National Library, 1888; reprint from W. Whewell, 1892.

Phædrus: T. Taylor, 1792; J. Wright, with Lysis and Protagoras, 1848, 1888.

Euthyphro: F. J. Church, 1890; H. N. Fowler, 1914–26.

Crito: H. Cary, 1848; F. J. Church, 1890; H. N. Fowler, 1914.

Apology: F. J. Church, 1890; H. N. Fowler, 1914.

Works: Floyer Sydenham, 1759, 1776; T. Taylor and Sydenham, 1804; H. Cary and H. Davis, 1848–52 (Bohn), 1900; W. Whewell (Dialogues), 3 vols. 1859–61; B. Jowett, The Dialogues of Plato, 1871, 1875, 1892.


Translated by Rev. J. S. Watson, M.A. 
Apology, or The Defence of Socrates152
Translated by Sarah Fielding. 
Symposium, or Banquet162
Translated by James Welwood, M.D. 
Translated by J. Wright. 
Translated by J. Wright. 
Translated by Miss F. M. Stawell. 
Translated by Miss F. M. Stawell. 
Translated by Miss F. M. Stawell. 




The two charges on which Socrates was condemned to death by the Athenians, sect. 1. The first charge refuted by several arguments: for Socrates used to sacrifice to the gods, 2; he practised divination, and his dæmon was no new god, 2–5; he recommended that the gods should be consulted by man in perplexing circumstances, 6–9; he was guilty of no impiety, he avoided vain speculations respecting the gods, and said that the business of philosophy was the study of virtue, 10–17; his life was in accordance with the precepts of morality, 18–20.

1. I have often wondered by what arguments the accusers of Socrates persuaded the Athenians that he deserved death from the state; for the indictment against him was to this effect: Socrates offends against the laws in not paying respect to those gods whom the city respects, and introducing other new deities; he also offends against the laws in corrupting the youth.

2. In the first place, that he did not respect the gods whom the city respects, what proof did they bring? For he was seen frequently sacrificing at home, and frequently on the public altars of the city; nor was it unknown that he used divination; as it was a common subject of talk, that “Socrates used to say that the divinity instructed him;” and it was from this circumstance, indeed, that they seem chiefly to have derived the charge of introducing new deities. 3. He however introduced nothing newer than those who, practising divination, consult auguries, voices, omens, and sacrifices; for they do not imagine that birds, or people who meet them, know what is advantageous for those seeking presages, but that the gods, by their means, signify what will be so; and such was the opinion that Socrates entertained. 4. Most people say that they are diverted from an object, or prompted to it, by birds, or by the people who meet them; but Socrates spoke as he thought, for he said it was the divinity that was his monitor. He also told many of his friends to do certain things, and not to do others, intimating that the divinity had forewarned him; and advantage attended those who obeyed his suggestions, but repentance, those who disregarded them.

5. Yet who would not acknowledge that Socrates wished to appear to his friends neither a fool nor a boaster? But he would have seemed to be both, if, after saying that intimations were given him by a god, he had then been proved guilty of falsehood. It is manifest, therefore, that he would have uttered no predictions, if he had not trusted that they would prove true. But who, in such matters, would trust to any one but a god? And how could he, who trusted the gods, think that there were no gods?

6. He also acted towards his friends according to his convictions, for he recommended them to perform affairs of necessary consequence in such a manner as he thought that they would be best managed; but concerning those of which it was doubtful how they would terminate, he sent them to take auguries whether they should be done or not. 7. Those who would govern families or cities well, he said, had need of divination; for to become skilful in architecture, or working in brass, or agriculture, or in commanding men, or to become a critic in any such arts, or a good reasoner, or a skilful regulator of a household, or a well-qualified general, he considered as wholly matters of learning, and left to the choice of the human understanding; 8. but he said that the gods reserved to themselves the most important particulars attending such matters, of which nothing was apparent to men; for neither was it certain to him who had sown his field well, who should reap the fruit of it; nor certain to him who had built a house well, who should inhabit it; nor certain to him who was skilled in generalship, whether it would be for his advantage to act as a general; nor certain to him who was versed in political affairs, whether it would be for his profit to be at the head of the state; nor certain to him who had married a beautiful wife in hopes of happiness, whether he should not incur misery by her means; nor certain to him who had acquired powerful connections in the state, whether he might not be banished by them; 9. and those who thought that none of these things depended on the gods, but that all were dependent on the human understanding, he pronounced to be insane; as he also pronounced those to be insane who had recourse to omens respecting matters which the gods had granted to men to discover by the exercise of their faculties; as if, for instance, a man should inquire whether it would be better to take for the driver of his chariot, one who knows how to drive, or one who does not know; or whether it would be better to place over his ship one who knows how to steer it, or one who does not know; or if men should ask respecting matters which they may learn by counting, or measuring, or weighing; for those who inquired of the gods concerning such matters he thought guilty of impiety, and said that it was the duty of men to learn whatever the gods had enabled them to do by learning, and to try to ascertain from the gods by augury whatever was obscure to men; as the gods always afford information to those to whom they are (rendered) propitious.

10. He was constantly in public, for he went in the morning to the places for walking and the gymnasia; at the time when the market was full he was to be seen there; and the rest of the day he was where he was likely to meet the greatest number of people; he was generally engaged in discourse, and all who pleased were at liberty to hear him; 11. yet no one ever either saw Socrates doing, or heard him saying, anything impious or profane; for he did not dispute about the nature of things as most other philosophers disputed, speculating how that which is called by sophists the world was produced, and by what necessary laws everything in the heavens is effected, but endeavoured to show that those who chose such objects of contemplation were foolish; 12. and used in the first place to inquire of them whether they thought that they already knew sufficient of human affairs, and therefore proceeded to such subjects of meditation, or whether, when they neglected human affairs entirely, and speculated on celestial matters, they thought that they were doing what became them. 13. He wondered, too, that it was not apparent to them that it is impossible for man to satisfy himself on such points, since even those who pride themselves most on discussing them, do not hold the same opinions one with another, but are disposed towards each other like madmen; 14. for of madmen some have no fear of what is to be feared, and others fear what is not to be feared; some think it no shame to say or do anything whatever before men, and others think that they ought not to go among men at all; some pay no respect to temple, or altar, or anything dedicated to the gods, and others worship stones, and common stocks, and beasts: so of those who speculate on the nature of the universe, some imagine that all that exists is one, others that there are worlds infinite in number; some that all things are in perpetual motion, others that nothing is ever moved; some that all things are generated and decay, and others that nothing is either generated or decays.

15. He would ask, also, concerning such philosophers, whether, as those who have learned arts practised by men, expect that they will be able to carry into effect what they have learned, either for themselves, or for any one else whom they may wish, so those who inquire into celestial things, imagine that, when they have discovered by what laws everything is effected, they will be able to produce, whenever they please, wind, rain, changes of the seasons, and whatever else of that sort they may desire, or whether they have no such expectation, but are content merely to know how everything of that nature is generated. 16. Such were the observations which he made about those who busied themselves in such speculations; but for himself, he would hold discourse, from time to time, on what concerned mankind, considering what was pious, what impious; what was becoming, what unbecoming; what was just, what unjust; what was sanity, what insanity; what was fortitude, what cowardice; what a state was, and what the character of a statesman; what was the nature of government over men, and the qualities of one skilled in governing them; and touching on other subjects, with which he thought that those who were acquainted were men of worth and estimation, but that those who were ignorant of them might justly be deemed no better than slaves.

17. As to those matters, then, on which Socrates gave no intimation what his sentiments were, it is not at all wonderful that his judges should have decided erroneously concerning him; but it is wonderful that they should have taken no account of such things as all men knew. 18. For when he was a member of the senate, and had taken the senator’s oath, in which it was expressed that he would vote in accordance with the laws, he, being president in the assembly of the people when they were eager to put to death Thrasyllus, Erasinides, and their colleagues, by a single vote contrary to the law, refused, though the multitude were enraged at him, and many of those in power uttered threats against him, to put the question to the vote, but considered it of more importance to observe his oath than to gratify the people contrary to what was right, or to seek safety against those who menaced him; 19. for he thought that the gods paid regard to men, not in the way in which some people suppose, who imagine that the gods know some things and do not know others, but he considered that the gods know all things, both what is said, what is done, and what is meditated in silence, and are present everywhere, and give admonitions to men concerning everything human.

20. I wonder, therefore, how the Athenians were ever persuaded that Socrates had not right sentiments concerning the gods; a man who never said or did anything impious towards the gods, but spoke and acted in such a manner with respect to them, that any other who had spoken and acted in the same manner, would have been, and have been considered, eminently pious.


Reply to the other charge against Socrates. He did not corrupt the youth, for his whole teaching dissuaded them from vice, and encouraged them to temperance and virtue of every kind, sect. 1–8. He exhorted them to obey the laws, 9–11. If Critias and Alcibiades, who listened to his discourses, became corrupt, the fault was not his, 11–28; he endeavoured to reclaim them, till they deserted him; and others, who resigned themselves wholly to his instructions, became virtuous and honourable men, 28–48. Other frivolous assertions refuted, 49–60. His benevolence, disinterestedness, and general merits, 61–64.

1. It also seems wonderful to me, that any should have been persuaded that Socrates corrupted the youth; Socrates, who, in addition to what has been said of him, was not only the most rigid of all men in the government of his passions and appetites, but also most able to withstand cold, heat, and every kind of labour; and, besides, so inured to frugality, that, though he possessed very little, he very easily made it a sufficiency. 2. How, then, being of such a character himself, could he have rendered others impious, or lawless, or luxurious, or incontinent, or too effeminate to endure labour? On the contrary, he restrained many of them from such vices, leading them to love virtue, and giving them hopes, that if they would take care of themselves, they would become honourable and worthy characters. 3. Not indeed that he ever professed to be an instructor in that way, but, by showing that he was himself such a character, he made those in his society hope that, by imitating him, they would become such as he was.

4. Of the body he was not neglectful, nor did he commend those who were. He did not approve that a person should eat to excess, and then use immoderate exercise, but recommended that he should work off, by a proper degree of exercise, as much as the appetite received with pleasure; for such a habit, he said, was peculiarly conducive to health, and did not prevent attention to the mind. 5. He was not, however, fine or ostentatious in his clothes or sandals, or in any of his habits of life; yet he did not make those about him lovers of money, for he checked them in this as well as other passions, and asked no remuneration from those who desired his company. 6. He thought that those who refrained from this (demanding a fee) consulted their liberty, and called those who took money for their discourses their own enslavers, since they must of necessity hold discussions with those from whom they received pay. 7. He expressed wonder, too, that any one who professed to teach virtue, should demand money, and not think that he gained the greatest profit in securing a good friend, but fear that he whom he had made an honourable and worthy character would not retain the greatest gratitude towards his greatest benefactor. 8. Socrates, indeed, never expressed so much to any one; yet he believed that those of his associates who imbibed what he approved, would be always good friends both to himself and to others. How then could a man of such a character corrupt the young, unless, indeed, the study of virtue be corruption?

9. “But assuredly,” said the accuser, “he caused those who conversed with him to despise the established laws, by saying how foolish it was to elect the magistrates of a state by beans, when nobody would be willing to take a pilot elected by beans, or an architect, or a flute-player, or a person in any other profession, which, if erroneously exercised, would cause far less harm than errors in the administration of a state;” and declared that “such remarks excited the young to contemn the established form of government, and disposed them to acts of violence.” 10. But I think that young men who exercise their understanding, and expect to become capable of teaching their fellow-citizens what is for their interest, grow by no means addicted to violence, knowing that on violence attend enmity and danger, but that, by persuasion, the same results are attained without peril, and with goodwill; for those who are compelled by us, hate us as if despoiled of something, while those who are persuaded by us, love us as if they had received a favour. It is not the part, therefore, of those who cultivate the intellect to use violence; for to adopt such a course belongs to those who possess brute force without intellect. 11. Besides, he who would venture to use force, had need of no small number of allies, but he who can succeed with persuasion, has need of none, for, though left alone, he would think himself still able to persuade; and it by no means belongs to such men to shed blood, for who would wish to put another man to death rather than to have him as a living subject persuaded to obey?

12. “But,” said the accuser, “Critias and Alcibiades, after having been associates of Socrates, inflicted a great number of evils on the state; for Critias was the most avaricious and violent of all that composed the oligarchy, and Alcibiades was the most intemperate, insolent, and turbulent of all those in the democracy.” 13. For whatever evil they did the state, I shall make no apology; but as to their intimacy with Socrates, I will state how it took place. 14. These two men were by nature the most ambitious of all the Athenians, and wished that everything should be done by their means, and that they themselves should become the most celebrated of all men. But they knew that Socrates lived with the utmost contentment on very small means, that he was most abstinent from every kind of pleasure, and that he swayed those with whom he conversed just as he pleased by his arguments; 15. and, seeing such to be the case, and being such characters as they have just been stated to be, whether will any one say that they sought his society from a desire to lead such a life as Socrates led, and to practise such temperance as he practised, or from an expectation that, if they associated with him, they would become eminently able to speak and act? 16. I myself, indeed, am of opinion, that if a god had given them their choice, whether they would live their whole lives as they saw Socrates living, or die, they would have chosen rather to die; and they showed this disposition by what they did; for as soon as they considered themselves superior to their associates, they at once started away from Socrates, and engaged in political life, to qualify themselves for which they had sought the society of Socrates.

17. Perhaps some one may observe on this point, that Socrates should not have taught his followers politics before he taught them self-control. To this remark I make no reply at present; but I see that all teachers make themselves examples to their pupils how far they practise what they teach, and stimulate them by precepts; 18. and I know that Socrates made himself an example to those who associated with him as a man of honourable and excellent character, and that he discoursed admirably concerning virtue and other things that concern mankind. I know, too, that those men exercised self-control as long as they conversed with Socrates, not from fear lest they should be fined or beaten by him, but from a persuasion at the time that it was best to observe such conduct.

19. Perhaps, however, many of those who profess to be philosophers may say that a man once just, can ever become unjust, or once modest, immodest; and that no one who has once learned any of those things which can be taught can ever become ignorant of it. But regarding such points I am not of that opinion; for I see that as those who do not exercise the body, cannot perform what is proper to the body, so those who do not exercise the mind, cannot perform what is proper to the mind; for they can neither do that which they ought to do, nor refrain from that from which they ought to refrain. 20. For which reason fathers keep their sons, though they be of a virtuous disposition, from the society of bad men, in the belief that association with the good is an exercise of virtue, but that association with the bad is the destruction of it. One of the poets also bears testimony to this truth, who says,

Ἐσθλῶν μὲν γὰρ ἄπ᾽ ἐσθλὰ διδάξεαι: ἢν δὲ κακοῖσι

Συμμίσγῃς, ἀπολεῖς καὶ τὸν ἐόντα νόον.

From good men you will learn what is good; but if you associate

with the bad, you will lose the understanding which is in you.

And another, who observes,

Αὐτὰρ ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς τό μέν κακὸς, ἄλλοτε δ᾽ ἐσθλός.

A good man is at one time good and at another bad.

21. I also concur with them; for I see that as people forget metrical compositions when they do not practise the repetition of them, so forgetfulness of precepts of instruction is produced in those who neglect them. But where a person forgets moral admonitions, he forgets also what the mind felt when it had a desire for self-government; and, when he forgets this, it is not at all wonderful that he forgets self-government also. 22. I see, too, that those who are given up to a fondness for drinking, and those who have fallen in love, are less able to attend to what they ought to do, and to refrain from what they ought not to do; for many, who can be frugal in their expenses before they fall in love, are, after falling in love, unable to continue so; and, when they have exhausted their resources, they no longer abstain from means of gain from which they previously shrunk as thinking them dishonourable. 23. How is it impossible, then, that he who has once had a control over himself, may afterwards cease to maintain it, and that he who was once able to observe justice, may subsequently become unable? To me everything honourable and good seems to be maintained by exercise, and self-control not the least; for sensual desires, generated in the same body with the soul, are constantly exciting it to abandon self-control, and to gratify themselves and the body as soon as possible.

24. Critias and Alcibiades, then, as long as they associated with Socrates, were able, with the assistance of his example, to maintain a mastery over their immoral inclinations; but, when they were separated from him, Critias, fleeing to Thessaly, formed connections there with men who practised dishonesty rather than justice; and Alcibiades also, being sought by many women, even of high rank, for his beauty, and being corrupted by many men, who were well able to seduce him by their flattery, on account of his influence in the city and among the allies, and being also honoured by the people, and easily obtaining the pre-eminence among them, became like the wrestlers in the gymnastic games, who, when they are fairly superior to others, neglect their exercise; so he grew neglectful of self-control. 25. When such was their fortune, and when they were proud of their birth, elated with their wealth, puffed up with their power, corrupted by many associates, demoralised by all these means, and long absent from Socrates, what wonder is it if they became headstrong? 26. And then, if they did anything wrong, does the accuser blame Socrates for it? and does Socrates seem to the accuser deserving of no praise, for having, when they were young, and when it is likely that they were most inconsiderate and intractable, rendered them discreet? 27. Yet other affairs are not judged of in such a way; for what flute-player, or what teacher of the harp, or what other instructor, if he produces competent pupils, and if they, attaching themselves to other masters, become less skilful, is blamed for their deterioration? Or what father, if his son, while he associated with one man, should be virtuous, but afterwards, on uniting himself to some other person, should become vicious, would blame the former of the two? would he not rather, the more corrupt his son became with the second, bestow the greater praise on the first? Not even parents themselves, when they have their sons in their society, are blamed if their sons do anything wrong, provided they themselves are correct in their conduct. 28. In the same manner it would be right to judge of Socrates; if he had done anything immoral, he would justly be thought to be a bad man; but if he constantly observed morality, how can he reasonably bear the blame of vice which was not in him?

29. Or even if he himself did nothing wrong, but commended others when he saw them doing wrong, he would justly be censured. When he perceived, however, that Critias was enamoured of Euthydemus, and was seeking to have the enjoyment of his society, like those who abuse the persons of others for licentious purposes, he dissuaded him from his intention, by saying that it was illiberal, and unbecoming a man of honour and proper feeling, to offer supplications to the object of his affections, with whom he wished to be held in high esteem, beseeching and entreating him, like a beggar, to grant a favour, especially when such favour was for no good end. 30. But as Critias paid no regard to such remonstrances, and was not diverted from his pursuit, it is said that Socrates, in the presence of many others as well as of Euthydemus, observed that “Critias seemed to him to have some feeling like that of a pig, as he wished to rub against Euthydemus as swine against stones.” 31. Critias, in consequence, conceived such a hatred to Socrates, that when he was one of the Thirty Tyrants, and was appointed a law-maker with Charicles, he remembered the circumstance to his disadvantage, and inserted in his laws that “none should teach the art of disputation,” intending an insult to Socrates, yet not knowing how to affect him in particular, but laying to his charge what was imputed to the philosophers by the multitude, and calumniating him to the people; at least such is my opinion; for I myself never heard this from Socrates, nor do I remember having known any one say that he heard it from him. 32. But Critias made it appear so; for when the Thirty had put to death many of the citizens, and those not of the inferior class, and had encouraged many to acts of injustice, Socrates happened to observe, that “it seemed surprising to him if a man, becoming herdsman of a herd of cattle, and rendering the cattle fewer and in worse condition, should not confess that he was a bad herdsman, and still more surprising if a man, becoming governor of a city, and rendering the people fewer and in worse condition, should not feel ashamed, and be conscious of being a bad governor of the city.” 33. This remark being repeated to the Thirty, Critias and Charicles summoned Socrates before them, showed him the law, and forbade him to hold discourse with the youth. Socrates inquired of them, if he might be permitted to ask a question as to any point in the prohibitions that might not be understood by him. They gave him permission. 34. “Then,” said he, “I am prepared to obey the laws; but that I may not unconsciously transgress through ignorance, I wish to ascertain exactly from you, ‘whether it is because you think that the art of reasoning is an auxiliary to what is rightly spoken, or to what is not rightly spoken, that you give command to abstain from it; for if it be an adjunct to what is rightly spoken, it is plain that we have to abstain from speaking rightly; but if to what is not rightly spoken, it is plain that we ought to endeavour to speak rightly.’ ” 35. Charicles, falling into a passion with him, said, “Since, Socrates, you are ignorant of this particular, we give you an order more easy to be understood, not to discourse at all with the young.” “That it may not be doubtful, then,” said Socrates, “whether I do anything contrary to what is enjoined, define for me till what age I must consider men to be young.” “As long,” replied Charicles, “as they are not allowed to fill the office of senator, as not being yet come to maturity of understanding; and do not discourse with such as are under thirty years of age.” 36. “And if I wish to buy anything,” said Socrates, “and a person under thirty years of age has it for sale, may I not ask him at what price he sells it?” “Yes, such questions as these,” replied Charicles, “but you are accustomed to ask most of your questions about things, when you know very well how they stand; such questions, therefore, do not ask.” “If then any young man,” said he, “should ask me such a question as ‘where does Charicles live?’ or ‘where is Critias?’ may I not answer him if I know?” “Yes, you may answer such questions,” said Charicles. 37. “But,” added Critias, “it will be necessary for you to abstain from speaking of those shoemakers, and carpenters, and smiths; indeed I think that they must now be worn out, from being so often in your mouth.” “I must therefore,” said Socrates, “abstain from the lessons I draw from these people, viz., lessons of justice, piety, and other such subjects.” “Yes, by Jupiter,” retorted Charicles, “and you must abstain from lessons taken from herdsmen; for, if you do not, take care lest you yourself make the cattle fewer.” 38. Hence it was evident that they were angry with Socrates on account of his remark about the cattle having been reported to them.

What sort of intercourse Critias had with Socrates, and how they stood towards each other, has now been stated. 39. But I would say that no regular training is derived by any one from a teacher who does not please him; and Critias and Alcibiades did not associate with Socrates, while their association with him lasted, as being an instructor that pleased them, but they were, from the very first, eager to be at the head of the state, for, while they still attended Socrates, they sought to converse with none more than with those who were most engaged in affairs of government. 40. Alcibiades, it is said, before he was twenty years of age, held the following discourse with Pericles, who was his guardian, and chief ruler of the state, about laws. 41. “Tell me,” said he, “Pericles, can you teach me what a law is?” “Certainly,” replied Pericles. “Teach me then, in the name of the gods,” said Alcibiades, “for I, hearing some persons praised as being obedient to the laws, consider that no one can fairly obtain such praise who does not know what a law is.” 42. “You desire no very difficult matter, Alcibiades,” said Pericles, “when you wish to know what a law is; for all those regulations are laws, which the people, on meeting together and approving them, have enacted, directing what we should do and what we should not do.” “And whether do they direct that we should do good things, or that we should do bad things?” “Good, by Jupiter, my child,” said he, “but bad by no means.” 43. “And if it should not be the whole people, but a few, as where there is an oligarchy, that should meet together, and enact what we are to do, what are such enactments?” “Everything,” replied Pericles, “which the supreme power in the state, on determining what the people ought to do, has enacted, is called a law.” “And if a tyrant, holding rule over the state, prescribes to the citizens what they must do, is such prescription called a law?” “Whatever a tyrant in authority prescribes,” returned Pericles, “is also called a law.” 44. “What then, Pericles,” asked Alcibiades, “is force and lawlessness? Is it not when the stronger obliges the weaker, not by persuasion, but by compulsion, to do what he pleases?” “So it appears to me,” replied Pericles. “Whatever then a tyrant compels the people to do, by enacting it without gaining their consent, is that an act of lawlessness?” “Yes,” said Pericles, “it appears to me that it is, for I retract my admission that what a tyrant prescribes to the people without persuading them, is a law.” 45. “But what the few enact, not from gaining the consent of the many, but from having superior power, should we say that that is force, or that it is not?” “Everything,” said Pericles, “which one man obliges another to do without gaining his consent, whether he enact it in writing or not, seems to me to be force rather than law.” “Whatever, then, the whole people, when they are stronger than the wealthier class, enact without their consent, would be an act of force rather than a law?” 46. “Certainly, Alcibiades,” said Pericles; “and I, when I was of your age, was very acute at such disquisitions; for we used to meditate and argue about such subjects as you now appear to meditate.” “Would therefore,” said Alcibiades, “that I had conversed with you, Pericles, at the time when you were most acute in discussing such topics!” 47. When Alcibiades and Critias, therefore, began to think themselves superior to those who were then governing the state, they no longer attended Socrates (for he was not agreeable to them in other respects, and they were offended, if they went to him at all, at being reproved for any error that they had committed), but devoted themselves to political employments, with a view to which they had at first associated with Socrates. 48. But Crito was also an attendant on Socrates, as well as Chærephon, Chærecrates, Hermocrates, Simmias, Cebes, and Phædondes, who, with others that attended him, did not seek his society that they might be fitted for popular orators or forensic pleaders, but that, becoming honourable and good men, they might conduct themselves irreproachably towards their families, connections, dependants, and friends, as well as towards their country and their fellow-citizens; and no one of all these, whether in youth or at a more advanced age, either was guilty, or was accused, of any crime.

49. “But Socrates,” said the accuser, “taught children to show contempt for their parents, persuading his followers that he rendered them wiser than their fathers, and observing that a son was allowed by the law to confine his father on convicting him of being deranged, using that circumstance as an argument that it was lawful for the more ignorant to be confined by the wiser.” 50. But what Socrates said was, that he thought he who confined another for ignorance, might justly be himself confined by those who knew what he did not know; and, with a view to such cases, he used to consider in what respect ignorance differed from madness, and expressed his opinion that madmen might be confined with advantage to themselves and their friends, but that those who did not know what they ought to know, might reasonably learn from those who did know.

51. “But Socrates,” proceeded the accuser, “not only caused parents, but other relations, to be held in contempt by his followers, saying that relatives were of no profit to people who were sick, or to people going to law, but that physicians aided the one, and lawyers the other.” 52. The accuser asserted, too, that Socrates said concerning friends that “it was of no profit that they were well-disposed, unless they were able also to assist; and that he insisted that those only were deserving of honour who knew what was for the advantage of others and could make it intelligible to them; and that by thus persuading the young that he himself was the wisest of mankind, and most capable of making others wise, he so disposed his pupils towards him, that other people were of no account with them in comparison with himself.” 53. I am aware, indeed, that he did express himself concerning parents and other relatives, and concerning friends, in such a manner as this; and used to say, besides, that when the soul has departed, in which alone intelligence exists, men take away the body of their dearest friend, and put it out of sight as soon as possible. 54. He was accustomed to say, also, that every man, while he is alive, removes of himself from his own body, which he loves most of all things, and allows others to remove from it, everything that is useless and unprofitable; since men themselves take off portions of their nails, and hair, and callous parts, and resign themselves to surgeons to cut and burn them with labour and pain, and think it their duty even to pay them money for their operations; and the saliva from the mouth, he said, men spit away as far as possible, because, while it is in the mouth, it profits them nothing, but is far more likely to harm them. 55. But such observations Socrates uttered, not to teach any one of his followers to bury his father alive, or to cut himself to pieces, but, by showing that what is senseless is worthless, he exhorted each to study to become as intelligent and useful as possible, so that, whether he wished to be honoured by his father, by his brother, or by any one else, he might not be neglectful of himself through trusting to his relationship, but might endeavour to be serviceable to those by whom he desired to be respected.

56. The accuser also said that Socrates, selecting the worst passages of the most celebrated poets, and using them as arguments, taught those who kept him company to be unprincipled and tyrannical. The verse of Hesiod, for example,

Ἔργον δ᾽ οὐδὲν ὄνειδος, ἀεργίη δέ ὄνειδος,

Work is no disgrace, but idleness is a disgrace,

they say that he used to explain as intimating that the poet bids us abstain from no kind of work, dishonest or dishonourable, but to do such work for the sake of profit. 57. But when Socrates maintained that to be busy was useful and beneficial for a man, and that to be unemployed was noxious and ill for him, that to work was a good, and to be idle an evil, he at the same time observed that those only who do something good really work, and are useful workmen, but those who gamble, or do anything bad and pernicious, he called idle; and in this view the sentiment of the poet will be unobjectionable,

Work is no disgrace, but idleness is a disgrace.

58. That passage of Homer, too, the accuser stated that he often used to quote, in which it is said that Ulysses,

Whatever king or eminent hero he found,

Stood beside him, and detained him with gentle words:

“Illustrious chief, it is not fit that you should shrink back as a coward;

Sit down yourself, and make the rest of the people sit down.”

But whatever man of the people he noticed, and found clamouring,

He struck him with his staff, and rebuked him with words:

“Worthless fellow, sit down in peace, and hear the exhortations of others.

Who are much better than you; for you are unwarlike and powerless,

Neither of account in the field nor in the council.”

59. And he said that he used to explain it as if the poet recommended that plebeians and poor people should be beaten. Socrates, however, said no such thing (for he would thus have given an opinion that he himself ought to be beaten), but what he did say was, that those who benefited others neither by word nor deed, and who were incapable of serving the army, or the state, or the common people, if necessity should arise, should, especially if, in addition to their incapacity, they were of an insolent spirit, be curbed in every way, even though they might be ever so rich. 60. But, contrary to the charge of the accuser, Socrates was evidently a friend to the common people, and of a liberal disposition; for though he received numbers of persons desirous to hear him discourse, as well citizens as foreigners, he never required payment for his communications from any one, but imparted to every one in abundance from his stores, of which some receiving fragments from him for nothing, sold them at a great price to others, and were not, like him, friends to the common people, for they declined to converse with such as had not money to give them. 61. But Socrates, in the eyes of other men, conferred glory on the city, far more than Lichas, who was celebrated in this respect, on that of the Lacedæmonians; for Lichas indeed entertained the strangers that visited Lacedæmon at the Gymnopædiæ, but Socrates, through the whole course of his life, freely imparted whatever he had to bestow, and thus benefited in the highest degree all who were willing to receive from him, making those who associated with him better before he let them go.

62. To me, therefore, Socrates, being a man of such a character, appeared to be worthy of honour rather than of death; and any one, considering his case according to the laws, would find such to be the fact; for, by the laws, death is the punishment for a man if he be found stealing, or stripping people of their clothes, or cutting purses, or housebreaking, or kidnapping, or committing sacrilege, of which crimes Socrates was the most innocent of all men. 63. Nor was he ever the cause of any war ending unfortunately for the state, or of any sedition or treachery; nor did he ever, in his private transactions, either deprive any man of what was for his good, or involve him in evil; nor did he ever lie under suspicion of any of the crimes which I have mentioned.

64. How then could he have been guilty of the charges brought against him? a man who, instead of not acknowledging the gods, as was stated in the indictment, evidently paid respect to the gods more than other men; and instead of corrupting the youth, as the accuser laid to his charge, plainly led such of his associates as had vicious inclinations, to cease from indulging them, and exhorted them to cherish a love of that most honourable and excellent virtue, by which men successfully govern states and families. How then, pursuing such a course of conduct, was he not deserving of great honour from the city?


Confirmation of the character of Socrates given in the preceding chapters. He worshipped the gods, and exhorted others to worship them, sect. 1. His notions how the gods were to be supplicated, 2. His judgment as to what was acceptable to them in a sacrifice, 3. His regard for omens, 4. His observance of temperance, and recommendation of it to others, 5–15.

1. But to show how he appeared to improve those who associated with him, partly by showing them what his character was, and partly by his conversation, I shall record whatever I can remember of him relating to these points.

As to what had reference to the gods, then, he evidently acted and spoke in conformity with the answer which the priestess of Apollo gives to those who inquire how they ought to proceed with regard to a sacrifice, to the worship of their ancestors, or to any such matter; for the priestess replies that they will act piously, if they act in agreement with the law of their country; and Socrates both acted in this manner himself, and exhorted others to act similarly; and such as acted in any other way he regarded as doing what was not to the purpose, and guilty of folly.

2. To the gods he simply prayed that they would give him good things, as believing that the gods knew best what things are good; and those who prayed for gold, or silver, or dominion, or anything of that kind, he considered to utter no other sort of requests than if they were to pray that they might play at dice, or fight, or do anything else of which it is quite uncertain what the result will be.

3. When he offered small sacrifices from his small means, he thought that he was not at all inferior in merit to those who offered numerous and great sacrifices from ample and abundant means; for he said that it would not become the gods to delight in large rather than in small sacrifices; since, if such were the case, the offerings of the bad would oftentimes be more acceptable to them than those of the good; nor would life be of any account in the eyes of men, if oblations from the bad were better received by the gods than oblations from the good; but he thought that the gods had most pleasure in the offerings of the most pious. He also used to quote, with approbation, the verse,

Κάδ᾽ δύναμιν δ᾽ ἔρδειν ἱέρ᾽ ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι,

Perform sacrifices to the gods according to your ability,

and used to say that it was a good exhortation to men, with regard to friends, and guests, and all other relations of life, to perform according to their ability.

4. If anything appeared to be intimated to him from the gods, he could no more have been persuaded to act contrary to such intimation, than any one could have persuaded him to take for his guide on a journey a blind man, or one who did not know the way, instead of one who could see, and did know it; and he condemned the folly of others, who act contrary to what is signified by the gods, through anxiety to avoid the ill opinion of men. As for himself, he undervalued everything human, in comparison with counsel from the gods.

5. He disciplined his mind and body by such a course of life, that he who should adopt a similar one, would, if no supernatural influence prevented, live in good spirits and uninterrupted health; nor would he ever be in want of the necessary expenses for it. So frugal was he, that I do not know whether any one could earn so little by the labour of his hands, as not to procure sufficient to have satisfied Socrates. He took only so much food as he could eat with a keen relish; and, to this end, he came to his meals so disposed that the appetite for his meat was the sauce to it. Every kind of drink was agreeable to him, because he never drank unless he was thirsty. 6. If he ever complied with an invitation to go to a feast, he very easily guarded, what is extremely difficult to most men, against loading his stomach to excess. Those who were unable to do so, he advised to be cautious of eating when they were not hungry, and of drinking when they were not thirsty; for he said that those were the things that disordered the stomach, the head, and the mind; 7. and he used to say, in jest, that he thought Circe transformed men into swine, by entertaining them with abundance of such luxuries, but that Ulysses, through the admonition of Mercury, and through being himself temperate, and forbearing to partake of such delicacies to excess, was in consequence not changed into a swine.

8. Such jests he would utter on these subjects, but with an earnest meaning. As to love, his counsel was to abstain rigidly from familiarity with beautiful persons; for he observed that it was not easy to be in communication with such persons, and observe continence. Hearing, on one occasion, that Critobulus, the son of Criton, had kissed the son of Alcibiades, a handsome youth, he asked Xenophon, in the presence of Critobulus, saying, “Tell me, Xenophon, did you not think that Critobulus was one of the modest rather than the forward, one of the thoughtful rather than of the thoughtless and inconsiderate?” 9. “Certainly,” replied Xenophon. “You must now, then, think him extremely headstrong and daring; one who would even spring upon drawn swords, and leap into the fire.” 10. “And what,” said Xenophon, “have you seen him doing, that you form this opinion of him?” “Why, has he not dared,” rejoined Socrates, “to kiss the son of Alcibiades, a youth extremely handsome, and in the flower of his age?” “If such a deed,” returned Xenophon, “is one of daring and peril, I think that even I could undergo such peril.” 11. “Unhappy man!” exclaimed Socrates, “and what do you think that you incur by kissing a handsome person? Do you not expect to become at once a slave instead of a freeman? To spend much money upon hurtful pleasures? To have too much occupation to attend to anything honourable and profitable? And to be compelled to pursue what not even a madman would pursue?” 12. “By Hercules,” said Xenophon, “what extraordinary power you represent to be in a kiss!” “Do you wonder at this?” rejoined Socrates; “are you not aware that the Tarantula, an insect not as large as half an obolus, by just touching a part of the body with its mouth, wears men down with pain, and deprives them of their senses?” “Yes, indeed,” said Xenophon, “but the Tarantula infuses something when it bites.” 13. “And do you not think, foolish man,” rejoined Socrates, “that beautiful persons infuse something when they kiss, something which you do not see? Do you not know that the animal, which they call a handsome and beautiful object, is so much more formidable than the Tarantula, as those insects instil something when they touch, but this creature, without even touching, but if a person only looks at it, though from a very great distance, instils something of such potency, as to drive people mad? Perhaps indeed Cupids are called archers for no other reason but because the beautiful wound from a distance. But I advise you, Xenophon, whenever you see any handsome person, to flee without looking behind you; and I recommend to you, Critobulus, to absent yourself from hence for a year, for perhaps you may in that time, though hardly indeed, be cured of your wound.”

14. Thus he thought that those should act with regard to objects of love who were not secure against the attractions of such objects; objects of such a nature, that if the body did not at all desire them, the mind would not contemplate them, and which, if the body did desire them, should cause us no trouble. For himself, he was evidently so disciplined with respect to such matters, that he could more easily keep aloof from the fairest and most blooming objects than others from the most deformed and unattractive.

15. Such was the state of his feelings in regard to eating, drinking, and amorous gratification; and he believed that he himself, with self-restraint, would have no less pleasure from them, than those who took great trouble to pursue such gratifications, and that he would suffer far less anxiety.


Socrates not only exhorted men to practise virtue, but led them to the practice of it; his dialogue with Aristodemus, sect. 1, 2. Things formed for a purpose, must be the production, not of chance, but of reason, 3, 4. The human frame is a structure of great excellence, and admirably fitted for its purposes; and we must therefore suppose that man is the object of divine forethought, 5–7. The order of things throughout the universe shows that it is under the providence of a superior nature, 8, 9. The superiority of man over the inferior animals proves that he is more immediately under the care of the higher powers, 10–14. The gods also give instruction to man as to his conduct, 15. That they care for man both individually and collectively is evident from various considerations, 15, 16. As the mind governs the body, so the providence of the gods governs the world, 17. If men therefore worship the gods rightly, they may feel persuaded that the gods will be ready to aid them, 18, 19.

1. But if any suppose that Socrates, as some write and speak of him on conjecture, was excellently qualified to direct men to virtue, but incapable of leading them forward in it, let them, considering not only the arguments with which he refuted those who thought that they knew everything; asking them questions in order to check them; but what he used to say in his daily intercourse with his associates, form an opinion whether he was capable of making those who conversed with him better. 2. I will first mention what I myself once heard him advance in a dialogue with Aristodemus, surnamed The Little, concerning the gods; for having heard that Aristodemus neither sacrificed to the gods, when engaged on any enterprise, nor attended to auguries, but ridiculed those who regarded such matters, he said to him, “Tell me, Aristodemus, do you admire any men for their genius?” “I do,” replied he. “Tell us their names, then,” said Socrates. 3. “In epic poetry I most admire Homer, in dithyrambic Melanippides, in tragedy Sophocles, in statuary Polycletus, in painting Zeuxis.” 4. “And whether do those who form images without sense and motion, or those who form animals endowed with sense and vital energy, appear to you the more worthy of admiration?” “Those who form animals, by Jupiter, for they are not produced by chance, but by understanding.” “And regarding things of which it is uncertain for what purpose they exist, and those evidently existing for some useful purpose, which of the two would you say were the productions of chance, and which of intelligence?” “Doubtless those which exist for some useful purpose must be the productions of intelligence.” 5. “Does not he, then,” proceeded Socrates, “who made men at first, appear to you to have given them, for some useful purpose, those parts by which they perceive different objects, the eyes to see what is to be seen, the ears to hear what is to be heard? What would be the use of smells, if no nostrils had been assigned us? What perception would there have been of sweet and sour, and of all that is pleasant to the mouth, if a tongue had not been formed in it to have a sense of them? 6. In addition to these things, does it not seem to you like the work of forethought, to guard the eye, since it is tender with eyelids, like doors, which, when it is necessary to use the sight, are set open, but in sleep are closed? To make the eyelashes grow as a screen, that winds may not injure it? To make a coping on the parts above the eyes with the eyebrows, that the perspiration from the head may not annoy them? To provide that the ears may receive all kinds of sounds, yet never be obstructed? and that the front teeth in all animals may be adapted to cut, and the back teeth to receive food from them and grind it? To place the mouth, through which animals take in what they desire, near the eyes and the nose? and since what passes off from the stomach is offensive, to turn the channels of it away, and remove them as far as possible from the senses?—can you doubt whether such a disposition of things, made thus apparently with attention, is the result of chance or of intelligence?” 7. “No, indeed,” replied Aristodemus, “but to one who looks at those matters in this light, they appear like the work of some wise maker who studied the welfare of animals.” “And to have engendered in them a love of having offspring, and in mothers a desire to rear their progeny, and to have implanted in the young that are reared a desire of life, and the greatest dread of death?” “Assuredly these appear to be the contrivances of some one who designed that animals should continue to exist.”

8. “And do you think that you yourself have any portion of intelligence?” “Question me, at least, and I will answer.” “And can you suppose that nothing intelligent exists anywhere else? When you know that you have in your body but a small portion of the earth, which is vast, and a small portion of the water, which is vast, and that your frame is constituted for you to receive only a small portion of each of other things, that are vast, do you think that you have seized for yourself, by some extraordinary good fortune, intelligence alone which exists nowhere else, and that this assemblage of vast bodies, countless in number, is maintained in order by something void of reason?” 9. “Yes; for I do not see the directors of these things, as I see the makers of things which are done here.” “Nor do you see your own soul, which is the director of your body; so that, by like reasoning, you may say that you yourself do nothing with understanding, but everything by chance.”

10. “However, Socrates,” said Aristodemus, “I do not despise the gods, but consider them as too exalted to need my attention.” “But,” said Socrates, “the more exalted they are, while they deign to attend to you, the more ought you to honour them.” 11. “Be assured,” replied Aristodemus, “that if I believed the gods took any thought for men, I would not neglect them.” “Do you not, then, believe that the gods take thought for men? the gods who, in the first place, have made man alone, of all animals, upright (which uprightness enables him to look forward to a greater distance, and to contemplate better what is above, and to be less liable to injury, and have placed the eyes, and ears, and mouth); and, in the next place, have given to other animals only feet, which merely give them the capacity of walking, while to men they have added hands, which execute most of those things through which we are better off than they. 12. And though all animals have tongues, they have made that of man alone of such a nature, as, by touching sometimes one part of the mouth, and sometimes another, to express articulate sounds, and to signify everything that we wish to communicate one to another. Do you not see, too, that to other animals they have so given the pleasures of sexual intercourse as to limit them to a certain season of the year, but that they allow them to us uninterruptedly till extreme old age? 13. Nor did it satisfy the gods to take care of the body merely, but, what is most important of all, they implanted in him the soul, his most excellent part. For what other animal has a soul to understand, first of all, that the gods, who have arranged such a vast and noble order of things, exist? What other species of animal, besides man, offers worship to the gods? What other animal has a mind better fitted than that of man, to guard against hunger or thirst, or cold or heat, or to relieve disease, or to acquire strength by exercise, or to labour to attain knowledge; or more capable of remembering whatever it has heard, or seen, or learned? 14. Is it not clearly evident to you, that, in comparison with other animals, men live like gods, excelling them by nature, both in body and mind? For an animal, having the body of an ox, and the understanding of a man, would be unable to execute what it might meditate; and animals which have hands, but are without reason, have no advantage over others; and do you, who share both these excellent endowments, think that the gods take no thought for you? What then must they do, before you will think that they take thought for you?” 15. “I will think so,” observed Aristodemus, “when they send me, as you say that they send to you, monitors, to show what I ought, and what I ought not, to do.” “But when they send admonitions to the Athenians, on consulting them by divination, do you not think that they admonish you also? Or when they give warnings to the Greeks by sending portents, or when they give them to the whole human race, do they except you alone from the whole, and utterly neglect you? 16. Do you suppose, too, that the gods would have engendered a persuasion in men that they are able to benefit or injure them, unless they were really able to do so, and that men, if they had been thus perpetually deluded, would not have become sensible of the delusion? Do you not see that the oldest and wisest of human communities, the oldest and wisest cities and nations, are the most respectful to the gods, and that the wisest age of man is the most observant of their worship? 17. Learn also, my good youth,” continued Socrates, “that your mind, existing within your body, directs your body as it pleases; and it becomes you therefore to believe that the intelligence pervading all things directs all things as may be agreeable to it, and not to think that while your eye can extend its sight over many furlongs, that of the divinity is unable to see all things at once, or that while your mind can think of things here, or things in Ægypt or Sicily, the mind of the deity is incapable of regarding everything at the same time. 18. If, however, as you discover, by paying court to men, those who are willing to pay court to you in return, and, by doing favours to men, those who are willing to return your favours, and as, by asking counsel of men, you discover who are wise, you should, in like manner, make trial of the gods by offering worship to them, whether they will advise you concerning matters hidden from man, you will then find that the divinity is of such power, and of such a nature, as to see all things and hear all things at once, to be present everywhere, and to have a care for all things at the same time.”

19. By delivering such sentiments, Socrates seems to me to have led his associates to refrain from what was impious, or unjust, or dishonourable, not merely when they were seen by men, but when they were in solitude, since they would conceive that nothing that they did would escape the knowledge of the gods.


Temperance and self-control recommended: he that is destitute of temperance can be profitable or agreeable neither to himself nor others, sect. 1–4. Without temperance nothing can be learned or done with due effect, 5. Socrates not only encouraged to temperance by precepts, but by his example, 6.

1. If temperance, moreover, be an honourable and valuable quality in a man, let us consider whether he at all led (men) to it by reflections of the following kind. “If, my friends, when a war was coming upon us, we should wish to choose a man by whose exertions we might ourselves be preserved, and might gain the mastery over our enemies, should we select one whom we knew to be unable to resist gluttony, or wine, or sensuality, or fatigue, or sleep? How could we think that such a man would either serve us, or conquer our adversaries? 2. Or if, being at the close of life, we should wish to commit to any one the guardianship of our sons, or the care of our unmarried daughters, or the preservation of our property, should we think an intemperate man worthy of confidence for such purposes? Should we intrust to an intemperate slave our herds, our granaries, or the superintendence of our agriculture? Should we be willing to accept such a slave as an agent, or purveyor, even for nothing? 3. But if we would not even accept an intemperate slave, how can it be otherwise than important for every man to take care that he himself does not become such a character? For the intemperate man is not injurious to his neighbour and profitable to himself (like the avaricious, who, by despoiling others of their property, seem to enrich themselves), but, while he is mischievous to others, is still more mischievous to himself, if it is, indeed, mischievous in the highest degree, to ruin not only his family, but his body and mind. 4. In society, too, who could find pleasure in the company of such a man, who, he would be aware, felt more delight in eating and drinking than in intercourse with his friends, and preferred the company of harlots to that of his fellows? Is it not the duty of every man to consider that temperance is the foundation of every virtue, and to establish the observance of it in his mind before all things? 5. For who, without it, can either learn anything good, or sufficiently practise it? Who, that is a slave to pleasure, is not in an ill condition both as to his body and his mind? It appears to me, by Juno, that a freeman ought to pray that he may never meet with a slave of such a character, and that he who is a slave to pleasure should pray to the gods that he may find well-disposed masters; for by such means only can a man of that sort be saved.”

6. While such were the remarks that he made, he proved himself more a friend to temperance by his life than by his words; for he was not only superior to all corporeal pleasures, but also to those attendant on the acquisition of money; thinking that he who received money from any one, set up a master over himself, and submitted to a slavery as disgraceful as any that could be.


Three dialogues of Socrates with Antipho. I. Antipho ridicules the poverty and frugality of Socrates, and his forbearance to receive pay for his instructions, sect. 1–3; Socrates replies that, by not receiving remuneration, he is more at liberty to choose his audience, 4, 5; that there are various advantages attendant on plainness of diet and dress, 6, 7; that the frugal man has the advantage over the man of pleasure in facilities for self-improvement, for doing his duty to his country, and for securing general happiness, 8–10. II. Antipho asserts that Socrates might be a just man, but was by no means wise, in accepting no payment, 11, 12; Socrates replies that to sell wisdom is to degrade it, and that more good is gained by the acquisition of friends than of money, 13, 14. III. Antipho asks Socrates why, when he trained others to manage public affairs, he took no part in public affairs himself; Socrates replies that he was of more service to his country by training many to govern it, than he could have been by giving his single aid in the government of it, 15.

1. It is due to Socrates, also, not to omit the dialogues which he held with Antipho the sophist. Antipho, on one occasion, wishing to draw away his associates from him, came up to Socrates, when they were present, and said, 2. “I thought, Socrates, that those who studied philosophy were to become happier than other men; but you seem to have reaped from philosophy fruits of an opposite kind; at least you live in a way in which no slave would continue to live with his master; you eat food, and drink drink, of the worst kind; you wear a dress, not only bad, but the same both summer and winter, and you continue shoeless and coatless. 3. Money, which cheers men when they receive it, and enables those who possess it to live more generously and pleasantly, you do not take; and if, therefore, as teachers in other professions make their pupils imitate themselves, you also shall produce a similar effect on your followers, you must consider yourself but a teacher of wretchedness.” 4. Socrates, in reply to these remarks, said, “You seem to me, Antipho, to have conceived a notion that I live so wretchedly, that I feel persuaded you yourself would rather choose to die than pass your life as I pass mine. Let us then consider what it is that you find disagreeable in my mode of life. 5. Is it that while others, who receive money, must perform the service for which they receive it, while I, who receive none, am under no necessity to discourse with any one that I do not like? Or do you despise my way of living, on the supposition that I eat less wholesome or less strengthening food than yourself? Or is it that my diet is more difficult to procure than yours, as being more rare and expensive? Or is it that what you procure for yourself is more agreeable to you than what I provide for myself is to me? Do you not know that he who eats with the most pleasure is he who least requires sauce, and that he who drinks with the greatest pleasure is he who least desires other drink than that which he has? 6. You know that those who change their clothes, change them because of cold and heat, and that men put on sandals that they may not be prevented from walking through annoyances to the feet; but have you ever observed me remaining at home, on account of cold, more than any other man, or fighting with any one for shade because of heat, or not walking wherever I please because my feet suffer? 7. Do you not know that those who are by nature the weakest, become, by exercising their bodies, stronger in those things for which they exercise them, than those who neglect them, and bear the fatigue of exercise with greater ease? And do you not think that I, who am constantly preparing my body by exercise to endure whatever may happen to it, bear everything more easily than you who take no exercise? 8. And to prevent me from being a slave to gluttony, or sleep, or other animal gratifications, can you imagine any cause more efficient than having other objects of attention more attractive than they, which not only afford pleasure in the moment of enjoying them, but give hopes that they will benefit me perpetually? You are aware of this also, that those who think themselves successful in nothing, are far from being cheerful, but that those who regard their agriculture, their seamanship, or whatever other occupation they pursue, as going on favourably for them, are delighted as with present success? 9. But do you think that from all these gratifications so much pleasure can arise as from the consciousness that you are growing better yourself, and are acquiring more valuable friends? Such is the consciousness, then, which I continue to enjoy.

“But if there should be occasion to assist our friends or our country, which of the two would have most leisure to attend to such objects, he who lives as I live now, or he who lives, as you think, in happiness? Which of the two would most readily seek the field of battle, he who cannot exist without expensive dishes, or he who is content with whatever comes before him? Which of the two would sooner be reduced by a siege, he who requires what is most difficult to be found, or he who is fully content with what is easiest to be met with? 10. You, Antipho, resemble one who thinks that happiness consists in luxury and extravagance; but I think that to want nothing is to resemble the gods, and that to want as little as possible is to make the nearest approach to the gods; that the Divine nature is perfection, and that to be nearest to the Divine nature is to be nearest to perfection.”

11. On another occasion, Antipho, in a conversation with Socrates, said, “I consider you indeed to be a just man, Socrates, but by no means a wise one; and you appear to me yourself to be conscious of this; for you ask money from no one for the privilege of associating with you; although, if you considered a garment of yours, or a house, or any other thing that you possess, to be worth money, you would not only not give it to anybody for nothing, but you would not take less than its full value for it. 12. It is evident, therefore, that if you thought your conversation to be worth anything, you would demand for it no less remuneration than it is worth. You may, accordingly, be a just man, because you deceive nobody from covetousness, but wise you cannot be, as you have no knowledge that is of any value.” 13. Socrates, in reply, said, “It is believed among us, Antipho, that it is possible to dispose of beauty, or of wisdom, alike honourably or dishonourably; for if a person sells his beauty for money to any one that wishes to purchase, men call him a male prostitute; but if any one makes a friend of a person whom he knows to be an admirer of what is honourable and worthy, we regard him as prudent: and, in like manner, those who sell their wisdom for money, to any that will buy, men call sophists, or, as it were, prostitutors of wisdom; but whoever makes a friend of a person whom he knows to be deserving, by teaching him all the good that he knows, we consider him to act the part which becomes an honourable and good citizen. 14. As any other man, therefore, Antipho, takes delight in a good horse, or dog, or bird, so I, to a still greater degree, take delight in valuable friends; and, if I know anything good, I communicate it to them, and recommend them, also, to any other teachers by whom I conceive that they will be at all advanced in virtue. The treasures, too, of the wise men of old, which they have left written in books, I turn over and peruse in company with my friends, and if we find anything good in them, we pick it out, and think it a great gain if we thus become useful to one another.” To me, who heard him utter these sentiments, Socrates appeared to be both happy himself, and to lead those that listened to him to honour and virtue.

15. Again, when Antipho asked him how he imagined that he could make men statesmen, when he himself took no part in state affairs, if indeed he knew anything of them, “In which of the two ways,” said he, “Antipho, should I better promote the management of affairs; if I myself engage in them alone, or if I make it my care that as many as possible may be qualified to engage in them?”


Dissuasions from ostentation. He that desires to be distinguished, should endeavour to be what he would wish to seem. He that pretends to be what he is not, exposes himself to great inconvenience and ridicule, and may bring disgrace and detriment on his country.

1. Let us consider also, whether, by dissuading his followers from ostentation, he excited them to pursue virtue. He always used to say that there was no better road to honourable distinction, than that by which a person should become excellent in that in which he wished to appear excellent.

2. That he said what was just, he used to prove by the following arguments. “Let us consider,” he would say, “what a person must do, if, not being a good flute-player, he should wish to appear so? Must he not imitate good flute-players in the adjuncts of their art? In the first place, as flute-players procure fine dresses, and go about with a great number of attendants, he must act in a similar manner; and as many people applaud them, he must get many to applaud him; yet he must never attempt to perform, or he will at once be shown to be ridiculous, and not only a bad flute-player, but a vain boaster. Thus, after having been at great expense without the least benefit, and having, in addition, incurred evil repute, how will he live otherwise than in uneasiness, unprofitableness, and derision?

3. “In like manner, if any one should wish to be thought a good general, or a good steersman of a ship, without being so, let us reflect what would happen. If, when he longed to seem capable of performing the duties of those characters, he should be unable to persuade others of his capability, would not this be a trouble to him? and, if he should persuade them of it, would it not be still more unfortunate for him? For it is evident that he who is appointed to steer a vessel, or to lead an army, without having the necessary knowledge, would be likely to destroy those whom he would not wish to destroy, and would come off himself with disgrace and suffering.”

4. By similar examples he showed that it was of no profit for a man to appear rich, or valiant, or strong, without being so; for he said that demands were made upon such persons too great for their ability, and that, not being able to comply with them, when they seemed to be able, they met with no indulgence.

5. He called him, also, no small impostor, who, obtaining money or furniture from his neighbour by persuasion, should defraud him; but pronounced him the greatest of all impostors, who, possessed of no valuable qualifications, should deceive men by representing himself capable of governing his country. To me he appeared, by discoursing in this manner, to deter his associates from vain boasting.



Socrates, suspecting that Aristippus, a man of pleasure, was aspiring to a place in the government, admonishes him that temperance is an essential qualification in a statesman, sect. 1–7. But as Aristippus says that he looked only to a life of leisure and tranquil enjoyment, Socrates introduces the question, whether those who govern, or those who are governed, live the happier life, 8–10. Aristippus signifies that he wished neither to govern nor to be governed, but to enjoy liberty; and Socrates shows that such liberty as he desired is inconsistent with the nature of human society, 11–13. Aristippus still adhering to his own views, and declaring his intention not to remain in any one country, but to visit and sojourn in many, Socrates shows him the dangers of such a mode of life, 14–16. But as Aristippus proceeds to accuse those of folly who prefer a life of toil in the affairs of government to a life of ease, Socrates shows the difference between those who labour voluntarily, and those who labour from compulsion, and observes that nothing good is given to mortals without labour, 17–20; in illustration of which remark he relates the fable of Prodicus, The Choice of Hercules, 21–34.

1. He appeared also to me, by such discourses as the following, to exhort his hearers to practise temperance in their desires for food, drink, sensual gratification, and sleep, and endurance of cold, heat, and labour. But finding that one of his associates was too intemperately disposed with regard to such matters, he said to him, “Tell me, Aristippus, if it were required of you to take two of our youths and educate them, the one in such a manner that he would be qualified to govern, and the other in such a manner that he would never seek to govern, how would you train them respectively? Will you allow us to consider the matter by commencing with their food, as with the first principles?” “Food, indeed,” replied Aristippus, “appears to me one of the first principles; for a person could not even live if he were not to take food.” 2. “It will be natural for them both, then,” said Socrates, “to desire to partake of food when a certain hour comes?” “It will be natural,” said Aristippus. “And which of the two, then,” said Socrates, “should we accustom to prefer the discharge of any urgent business to the gratification of his appetite?” “The one undoubtedly,” rejoined Aristippus, “who is trained to rule, that the business of the state may not be neglected through his laziness.” “And on the same person,” continued Socrates, “we must, when they desire to drink, impose the duty of being able to endure thirst?” “Assuredly,” replied Aristippus. 3. “And on which of the two should we lay the necessity of being temperate in sleep, so as to be able to go to rest late, to rise early, or to remain awake if it should be necessary?” “Upon the same, doubtless.” “And on which of the two should we impose the obligation to control his sensual appetites, that he may not be hindered by their influence from discharging whatever duty may be required of him?” “Upon the same.” “And on which of the two should we enjoin the duty of not shrinking from labour, but willingly submitting to it?” “This also is to be enjoined on him who is trained to rule.” “And to which of the two would it more properly belong to acquire whatever knowledge would assist him to secure the mastery over his rivals?” “Far more, doubtless, to him who is trained to govern, for without such sort of acquirements there would be no profit in any of his other qualifications.” 4. “A man, then, who is thus instructed, would appear to you less liable to be surprised by his enemies than other animals, of which some, we know, are caught by their greediness; and others, though very shy, are yet attracted to the bait by their desire to swallow it, and consequently taken; while others also are entrapped by drink.” “Indisputably,” replied Aristippus. “Are not others, too, caught through their lust, as quails and partridges, which, being attracted to the call of the female by desire and hope of enjoyment, and losing all consideration of danger, fall into traps?” To this Aristippus expressed his assent. 5. “Does it not then,” proceeded Socrates, “appear to you shameful for a man to yield to the same influence as the most senseless of animals; as adulterers, for instance, knowing that the adulterer is in danger of suffering what the law threatens, and of being watched, and disgraced if caught, yet enter into closets; and, though there are such dangers and dishonours hanging over the intriguer, and so many occupations that will safely keep him from the desire of sensual gratification, does it not seem to you the part of one tormented with an evil genius, to run, nevertheless, into imminent peril?” “It does seem so to me,” said Aristippus. 6. “And since the greater part of the most necessary employments of life, such as those of war and agriculture, and not a few others, are to be carried on in the open air, does it not appear to you to show great negligence, that the majority of mankind should be wholly unexercised to bear cold and heat?” Aristippus replied in the affirmative. “Does it not then appear to you that we ought to train him who is intended to rule, to bear these inconveniences also without difficulty?” “Doubtless,” answered Aristippus. 7. “If, therefore, we class those capable of enduring these things among those who are qualified to govern, shall we not class such as are incapable of enduring them among those who will not even aspire to govern?” Aristippus expressed his assent. “In conclusion, then, since you know the position of each of these classes of men, have you ever considered in which of them you can reasonably place yourself?” 8. “I have indeed,” said Aristippus, “and I by no means place myself in the class of those desiring to rule; for it appears to me that, when it is a task of great difficulty to procure necessaries for one’s self, it is the mark of a very foolish man not to be satisfied with that occupation, but to add to it the labour of procuring for his fellow-countrymen whatever they need. And is it not the greatest folly in him, that while many things which he desires are out of his reach, he should, by setting himself at the head of the state, subject himself, if he does not accomplish all that the people desire, to be punished for his failure? 9. For the people think it right to use their governors as I use my slaves; for I require my slaves to supply me with the necessaries of life in abundance, but to touch none of them themselves; and the people think it the duty of their governors to supply them with as many enjoyments as possible, but themselves to abstain from all of them. Those, therefore, who wish to undertake much business themselves, and to provide it for others, I would train in this manner, and rank among those qualified to govern; but myself I would number with those who wish to pass their lives in the greatest possible ease and pleasure.”

10. Socrates then said, “Will you allow us to consider this point also, whether the governors or the governed live with the greater pleasure?” “By all means,” said Aristippus. “In the first place, then, of the nations of which we have any knowledge, the Persians bear rule in Asia, and the Syrians, Phrygians, and Lydians are under subjection; the Scythians govern in Europe, and the Mæotians are held in subjection; the Carthaginians rule in Africa, and the Libyans are under subjection. Which of these do you regard as living with the greater pleasure? Or among the Greeks, of whom you yourself are, which of the two appear to you to live more happily, those who rule, or those who are in subjection?” 11. “Yet, on the other hand,” said Aristippus, “I do not consign myself to slavery; but there appears to me to be a certain middle path between the two, in which I endeavour to proceed, neither through power nor through slavery, but through liberty, a path that most surely conducts to happiness.” 12. “If this path of yours, indeed,” said Socrates, “as it lies neither through sovereignty nor servitude, did not also lie through human society, what you say would perhaps be worth consideration; but if, while living among mankind, you shall neither think proper to rule nor to be ruled, and shall not willingly pay respect to those in power, I think that you will see that the stronger know how to treat the weaker as slaves, making them to lament both publicly and privately. 13. Do those escape your knowledge who cut their corn and fell their trees when others have sown and planted them, and who assail in every way such as are inferior to them, and are unwilling to flatter them, until they prevail on them to prefer slavery to carrying on war against their superiors? In private life, too, do you not see that the spirited and strong enslave the timorous and weak, and enjoy the fruits of their labours?” “But for my part,” answered Aristippus, “in order that I may not suffer such treatment, I shall not shut myself up in any one state, but shall be a traveller everywhere.” 14. “Doubtless,” rejoined Socrates, “this is an admirable trick that you propose; for since Sinnis, and Sciron, and Procrustes were killed, nobody injures travellers. Yet those who manage the government in their several countries, even now make laws, in order that they may not be injured, and attach to themselves, in addition to such as are called their necessary connections, other supporters; they also surround their cities with ramparts, and procure weapons with which they may repel aggressors, securing, besides all these means of defence, other allies from abroad; and yet those who have provided themselves with all these bulwarks, nevertheless suffer injury; 15. and do you, having no protection of the sort, spending a long time on roads on which a very great number are outraged, weaker than all the inhabitants of whatever city you may arrive at, and being such a character as those who are eager to commit violence most readily attack, think, nevertheless, that you will not be wronged because you are a stranger? Or are you without fear, because these cities proclaim safety to any one arriving or departing? Or because you think that you are such a slave as would profit no master, for who would wish to keep in his house a man not at all disposed to labour, and delighting in the most expensive fare? 16. But let us consider how masters treat slaves of such a sort. Do they not tame down their fondness for dainties by hunger? Do they not hinder them from stealing by excluding them from every place from whence they may take anything? Do they not prevent them from running away by putting fetters on them? Do they not overcome their laziness by stripes? Or how do you yourself act, when you find any one of your slaves to be of such a disposition?” 17. “I chastise him,” said Aristippus, “with every kind of punishment, until I compel him to serve me. But how do those, Socrates, who are trained to the art of ruling, which you seem to me to consider as happiness, differ from those who undergo hardships from necessity, since they will have (though it be with their own consent) to endure hunger, and thirst, and cold, and want of sleep, and suffer all other inconveniences of the same kind? 18. For I, for my own part, do not know what difference it makes to a man who is scourged on the same skin, whether it be voluntarily or involuntarily, or, in short, to one who suffers with the same body in all such points, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, except that folly is to be attributed to him who endures troubles voluntarily.” “What then, Aristippus,” said Socrates, “do not voluntary endurances of this kind seem to you to differ from the involuntary, inasmuch as he who is hungry from choice may eat when he pleases, and he who is thirsty from choice may drink when he pleases, the same being the case with regard to other voluntary sufferings, while he who endures such hardships from necessity has no liberty to relieve himself from them when he wishes? Besides, he who undergoes trouble willingly, is cheered contemplating a successful issue, as the hunters of wild animals bear fatigue with pleasure in the hope of capturing them. 19. And such rewards of toil are indeed but of small worth; but as for those who toil that they may acquire valuable friends, or that they may subdue their enemies, or they may, by becoming vigorous in body and mind, manage their own household judiciously, and be of service to their friends and of advantage to their country, how can you think that they labour for such objects otherwise than cheerfully, or that they do not live in happiness, esteeming themselves, and being praised and envied by others? 20. But indolence, moreover, and pleasures which offer themselves without being sought, are neither capable of producing a good constitution of body, as the teachers of gymnastic exercises say, nor do they bring to the mind any knowledge worthy of consideration; but exercises pursued with persevering labour lead men to the attainment of honourable and valuable objects, as worthy men inform us; and Hesiod somewhere says,

Vice it is possible to find in abundance and with ease; for the way to it is smooth, and lies very near. But before the temple of Virtue the immortal gods have placed labour, and the way to it is long and steep, and at the commencement rough; but when the traveller has arrived at the summit, it then becomes easy, however difficult it was at first.

A sentiment to which Epicharmus gives his testimony in this verse,

The gods for labour sell us all good things;

and in another place he says,

O wretched mortal, desire not what is soft, lest you find what is hard.

21. Prodicus the sophist, also, in his narrative concerning Hercules, which indeed he declaims to most people as a specimen of his ability, expresses a similar notion respecting virtue, speaking, as far as I remember, to the following effect: For he says that Hercules, when he was advancing from boyhood to manhood, a period at which the young, becoming their own masters, begin to give intimations whether they will enter on life by the path of virtue or that of vice, went forth into a solitary place, and sat down, perplexed as to which of these two paths he should pursue; 22. and that two female figures, of lofty stature, seemed to advance towards him, the one of an engaging and graceful mien, gifted by nature with elegance of form, modesty of look, and sobriety of demeanour, and clad in a white robe; the other fed to plumpness and softness, but made up both in her complexion, so as to seem fairer and rosier than she really was, and in her gesture, so as to seem more upright than she naturally was; she had her eyes wide open, and a robe through which her beauty would readily show itself; she frequently contemplated her figure, and looked about to see if any one else was observing her; and she frequently glanced back at her own shadow. 23. As they approached nearer to Hercules, she, whom I first described, came forward at the same pace, but the other, eager to get before her, ran up to Hercules, and exclaimed, “I see that you are hesitating, Hercules, by what path you shall enter upon life; if, then, you make a friend of me, I will conduct you by the most delightful and easy road, and you shall taste of every species of pleasure, and pass through life without experiencing difficulties. 24. In the first place, you shall take no thought of wars or state affairs, but shall pass your time considering what meat or drink you may find to gratify your appetite, what you may delight yourself by seeing or hearing, what you may be pleased with smelling or touching, with what objects of affection you may have most pleasure in associating, how you may sleep most softly, and how you may secure all these enjoyments with the least degree of trouble. 25. If an apprehension of want of means, by which such delights may be obtained, should ever arise in you, there is no fear that I shall urge you to procure them by toil or suffering either of body or mind; but you shall enjoy what others acquire by labour, abstaining from nothing by which it may be possible to profit, for I give my followers liberty to benefit themselves from any source whatever.”

26. Hercules, on hearing this address, said, “And what, O woman, is your name?” “My friends,” she replied, “call me Happiness, but those who hate me, give me, to my disparagement, the name of Vice.”

27. In the meantime the other female approached, and said, “I also am come to address you, Hercules, because I know your parents, and have observed your disposition in the training of your childhood, from which I entertain hopes that if you direct your steps along the path that leads to my dwelling, you will become an excellent performer of whatever is honourable and noble, and that I shall appear more honourable and distinguished in goodness. I will not deceive you, however, with promises of pleasure, but will set before you things as they really are, and as the gods have appointed them; 28. for of what is valuable and excellent, the gods grant nothing to mankind without labour and care; and if you wish the gods, therefore, to be propitious to you, you must worship the gods; if you seek to be beloved by your friends, you must serve your friends; if you desire to be honoured by any city, you must benefit that city; if you claim to be admired by all Greece for your merit, you must endeavour to be of advantage to all Greece; if you are anxious that the earth should yield you abundance of fruit, you must cultivate the earth; if you think that you should enrich yourself from herds of cattle, you must bestow care upon herds of cattle; if you are eager to increase your means of war, and to secure freedom to your friends and subdue your enemies, you must learn the arts of war, and learn them from such as understand them, and practise how to use them in the right way; or if you wish to be vigorous in body, you must accustom your body to obey your mind, and exercise it with toil and exertion.”

29. Here Vice, interrupting her speech, said (as Prodicus relates), “Do you see, Hercules, how difficult and tedious a road to gratification this woman describes to you, while I shall lead you, by an easy and short path, to perfect happiness?”

30. “Wretched being,” rejoined Virtue, “of what good are you in possession? Or what real pleasure do you experience, when you are unwilling to do anything for the attainment of it? You, who do not even wait for the natural desire of gratification, but fill yourself with all manner of dainties before you have an appetite for them, eating before you are hungry, drinking before you are thirsty, procuring cooks that you may eat with pleasure, buying costly wines that you may drink with pleasure, and running about seeking for snow in summer; while, in order to sleep with pleasure, you prepare not only soft beds, but couches, with rockers under your couches, for you do not desire sleep in consequence of labour, but in consequence of having nothing to do; you force the sensual inclinations before they require gratification, using every species of contrivance for the purpose, and abusing male and female; for thus it is that you treat your friends, insulting their modesty at night, and making them sleep away the most useful part of their day. 31. Though you are one of the immortals, you are cast out from the society of the gods, and despised by the good among mankind; the sweetest of all sounds, the praises of yourself, you have never heard, nor have you ever seen the most pleasing of all sights, for you have never beheld one meritorious work of your own hand. Who would believe you when you give your word for anything? Or who would assist you when in need of anything? Or who, that has proper feeling, would venture to join your company of revellers? for while they are young they grow impotent in body, and when they are older they are impotent in mind; they live without labour, and in fatness, through their youth, and pass laboriously, and in wretchedness, through old age; ashamed of what they have done, oppressed with what they have to do, having run through their pleasures in early years, and laid up afflictions for the close of life. 32. But I am the companion of the gods; I associate with virtuous men; no honourable deed, divine or human, is done without me; I am honoured, most of all, by the deities, and by those among men to whom it belongs to honour me, being a welcome co-operator with artisans, a faithful household guardian to masters, a benevolent assistant to servants, a benign promoter of the labours of peace, a constant auxiliary to the efforts of war, an excellent sharer in friendship. 33. My friends have a sweet and untroubled enjoyment of meat and drink, for they refrain from them till they feel an appetite. They have also sweeter sleep than the idle; and are neither annoyed if they lose a portion of it, nor neglect to do their duties for the sake of it. The young are pleased with praises from the old; the old are delighted with honours from the young. They remember their former acts with pleasure, and rejoice to perform their present occupations with success; being, through my influence, dear to the gods, beloved by their friends, and honoured by their country. And when the destined end of life comes, they do not lie in oblivion and dishonour, but, celebrated with songs of praise, flourish for ever in the memory of mankind. By such a course of conduct, O Hercules, son of noble parents, you may secure the most exalted happiness.”

34. Nearly thus it was that Prodicus related the instruction of Hercules by Virtue; adorning the sentiments, however, with far more magnificent language than that in which I now give them. It becomes you, therefore, Aristippus, reflecting on these admonitions, to endeavour to think of what concerns the future period of your life.


A dialogue between Socrates and his son Lamprocles, who had expressed resentment against his mother, on the duty of children to their parents. The ungrateful are to be deemed unjust, sect. 1, 2. The greater benefits a person has received, the more unjust is he if he is ungrateful; and there are no greater benefits than those which children experience from their parents, 3–6. Hence it follows that a son ought to reverence his mother, though she be severe, when he knows that her severity proceeds from kind motives, 7–12. How great a crime the neglect of filial duty is, appears from the fact that it is punished by the laws and execrated by mankind, 13, 14.

1. Having learned, one day, that Lamprocles, the eldest of his sons, had exhibited anger against his mother, “Tell me, my son,” said he, “do you know that certain persons are called ungrateful?” “Certainly,” replied the youth. “And do you understand how it is they act that men give them this appellation?” “I do,” said Lamprocles, “for it is those that have received a kindness, and that do not make a return when they are able to make one, whom they call ungrateful.” “They then appear to you to class the ungrateful with the unjust?” “I think so.” 2. “And have you ever considered whether, as it is thought unjust to make slaves of our friends, but just to make slaves of our enemies, so it is unjust to be ungrateful towards our friends, but just to be so towards our enemies?” “I certainly have,” answered Lamprocles, “and from whomsoever a man receives a favour, whether friend or enemy, and does not endeavour to make a return for it, he is in my opinion unjust.”

3. “If such, then, be the case,” pursued Socrates, “ingratitude must be manifest injustice?” Lamprocles expressed his assent. “The greater benefits, therefore, a person has received, and makes no return, the more unjust he must be.” He assented to this position also. “Whom, then,” asked Socrates, “can we find receiving greater benefits from any persons than children receive from their parents? children whom their parents have brought from non-existence into existence, to view so many beautiful objects, and to share in so many blessings, as the gods grant to men; blessings which appear to us so inestimable, that we shrink, in the highest degree, from relinquishing them; and governments have made death the penalty for the most heinous crimes, in the supposition that they could not suppress injustice by the terror of any greater evil. 4. You do not, surely, suppose that men beget children merely to gratify their passions, since the streets are full, as well as the brothels, of means to allay desire; but what we evidently consider, is, from what sort of women the finest children may be born to us, and, uniting with them, we beget children. 5. The man maintains her who joins with him to produce offspring, and provides, for the children that are likely to be born to him, whatever he thinks will conduce to their support, in as great abundance as he can; while the woman receives and bears the burden, oppressed and endangering her life, and imparting a portion of the nutriment with which she herself is supported; and, at length, after bearing it the full time, and bringing it forth with great pain, she suckles and cherishes it, though she has received no previous benefit from it, nor does the infant know by whom it is tended, nor is it able to signify what it wants, but she, conjecturing what will nourish and please it, tries to satisfy its calls, and feeds it for a long time, both night and day, submitting to the trouble and not knowing what return she will receive for it. 6. Nor does it satisfy the parents merely to feed their offspring, but as soon as the children appear capable of learning anything, they teach them whatever they know that may be of use for their conduct in life; and whatever they consider another more capable of communicating than themselves, they send their sons to him at their own expense, and take care to adopt every course that their children may be as much improved as possible.”

7. Upon this the young man said, “But, even if she has done all this, and many times more than this, no one, assuredly, could endure her ill-humour.” “And which do you think,” asked Socrates, “more difficult to be endured, the ill-humour of a wild beast, or that of a mother?” “I think,” replied Lamprocles, “that of a mother, at least of such a mother as mine is.” “Has she ever then inflicted any hurt upon you, by biting or kicking you, as many have often suffered from wild beasts?” 8. “No; but, by Jupiter, she says such things as no one would endure to hear for the value of all that he possesses.” “And do you reflect,” returned Socrates, “how much grievous trouble you have given her by your peevishness, by voice and by action, in the day and in the night, and how much anxiety you have caused her when you were ill?” “But I have never said or done anything to her,” replied Lamprocles, “at which she could feel ashamed.” 9. “Do you think it, then,” inquired Socrates, “a more difficult thing for you to listen to what she says, than for actors to listen when they utter the bitterest reproaches against one another in tragedies?” “But actors, I imagine, endure such reproaches easily, because they do not think that, of the speakers, the one who utters reproaches, utters them with intent to do harm, or that the one who utters threats, utters them with any evil purpose.” “Yet you are displeased at your mother, although you well know that whatever she says, she not only says nothing with intent to do you harm, but that she wishes you more good than any other human being. Or do you suppose that your mother meditates evil towards you?” “No indeed,” said Lamprocles, “that I do not imagine.” 10. “Do you then say that this mother,” rejoined Socrates, “who is so benevolent to you, who, when you are ill, takes care of you, to the utmost of her power, that you may recover your health, and that you may want nothing that is necessary for you, and who, besides, entreats the gods for many blessings on your head, and pays vows for you, is a harsh mother? For my part, I think that if you cannot endure such a mother, you cannot endure anything that is good. 11. But tell me,” continued he, “whether you think that you ought to pay respect to any other human being, or whether you are resolved to try to please nobody, and to follow or obey neither a general nor any other commander?” “No indeed,” replied Lamprocles, “I have formed no such resolution.” 12. “Are you then willing,” inquired Socrates, “to cultivate the goodwill of your neighbour, that he may kindle a fire for you when you want it, or aid you in obtaining some good, or, if you happen to meet with any misfortune, may assist you with willing and ready help?” “I am,” replied he. “Or would it make no difference,” rejoined Socrates, “whether a fellow-traveller, or fellow-voyager, or any other person that you met with, should be your friend or enemy? Or do you think that you ought to cultivate their goodwill?” “I think that I ought,” replied Lamprocles. 13. “You are then prepared,” returned Socrates, “to pay attention to such persons; and do you think that you ought to pay no respect to your mother, who loves you more than any one else? Do you not know that the state takes no account of any other species of ingratitude, nor allows any action at law for it, overlooking such as receive a favour and make no return for it, but that if a person does not pay due regard to his parents, it imposes a punishment on him, rejects his services, and does not allow him to hold the archonship, considering that such a person cannot piously perform the sacrifices offered for the country, or discharge any other duty with propriety and justice? Indeed if any one does not keep up the sepulchres of his dead parents, the state inquires into it in the examinations of candidates for office. 14. You therefore, my son, if you are wise, will entreat the gods to pardon you if you have been wanting in respect towards your mother, lest, regarding you as an ungrateful person, they should be disinclined to do you good; and you will have regard, also, to the opinion of men, lest, observing you to be neglectful of your parents, they should all contemn you, and you should then be found destitute of friends; for if men surmise that you are ungrateful towards your parents, no one will believe that if he does you a kindness he will meet with gratitude in return.”


Socrates, hearing that two brothers, Chærephon and Chærecrates, had quarrelled, recommends brotherly love to Chærecrates by the following arguments. A brother ought to be regarded as a friend, and esteemed more than wealth, sect. 1; for wealth is an uncertain possession, if the possessor of it is destitute of friends, 2, 3. Fraternal love an appointment of Nature; and men who have brothers are more respected than those who have none, 4. Even though a brother should conceive ill feelings towards us, we should still endeavour to conciliate him, 5–9. How such conciliation may be effected, 10–14. The endeavour to conciliate is still more the duty of a younger than of an elder brother, and the more noble the disposition of a brother is, the more easy will it be to conciliate him, 15–17. Brothers should act in unison with one another, like different members of the same body, 18, 19.

1. Socrates, having observed that Chærephon and Chærecrates, two brothers well known to him, were at variance with each other, and having met with Chærecrates, said, “Tell me, Chærecrates, you surely are not one of those men, are you, who think wealth more valuable than brothers, when wealth is but a senseless thing, and a brother endowed with reason, when wealth needs protection, while a brother can afford protection, and when wealth, besides, is plentiful, and a brother but one? 2. It is wonderful, too, that a man should consider brothers to be a detriment to him, because he does not possess his brothers’ fortunes, while he does not consider his fellow-citizens to be a detriment, because he does not possess their fortunes; but, in the latter case, he can reason with himself, that it is better for him, living in society with many, to enjoy a competency in security, than, living alone, to possess all the property of his fellow-citizens in fear of danger, while, with regard to brothers, he knows not how to apply such reasoning. 3. Those who are able, too, purchase slaves, that they may have helpers in their work, and procure friends, as being in need of supporters, while they neglect their brothers, as if friends could be made of fellow-citizens, but could not be made of brothers. 4. Yet it surely conduces greatly to friendship to have been born of the same parents, and to have been brought up together, since, even among brutes, a certain affection springs up between those that are reared together. In addition to these considerations, men pay more respect to those who have brothers than to those who have none, and are less forward to commit aggression on them.”

5. To this Chærecrates made answer, “If, indeed, Socrates, the dissension between us were not great, it might perhaps be my duty to bear with my brother, and not shun his society for slight causes; for a brother, as you say, is a valuable possession, if he be such as he ought to be; but when he is nothing of the sort, and is indeed quite the reverse of what he should be, why should any one attempt impossibilities?” 6. “Whether, then, Chærecrates,” rejoined Socrates, “is Chærephon unable to please anybody, as he is unable to please you, or are there some whom he certainly can please?” “Yes,” replied Chærecrates, “for it is for this very reason that I justly hate him, that he can please others, while to me he is on all occasions, whenever he comes in contact with me, a harm rather than a good, both in word and deed.” 7. “Is the case then thus,” said Socrates, “that as a horse is a harm to him who knows not how to manage him, and yet tries to do so, so a brother is a harm, when a person tries to manage him without knowing how to do it?” 8. “But how can I be ignorant,” replied Chærecrates, “how to manage my brother, when I know how to speak well of him who speaks well of me, and to do well to him who does well to me? As to one, however, who seeks to vex me both by word and deed, I should not be able either to speak well of him, or to act well towards him, nor will I try.” 9. “You speak strangely, Chærecrates,” rejoined Socrates, “for if a dog of yours were of service to watch your sheep, and fawned upon your shepherds, but snarled when you approached him, you would forbear to show any ill feeling towards him, but would endeavour to tame him by kindness; but as for your brother, though you admit that he would be a great good to you if he were such as he ought to be, and though you confess that you know how to act and speak well with respect to him, you do not even attempt to contrive how he may be of as great service as possible to you.” 10. “I fear, Socrates,” replied Chærecrates, “that I have not wisdom enough to render Chærephon such as he ought to be towards me.” “Yet there is no need to contrive anything artful or novel to act upon him,” said Socrates, “as it appears to me; for I think that he may be gained over by means which you already know, and may conceive a high esteem for you.” 11. “Will you not tell me first,” said the other, “whether you have observed that I possess any love-charm, which I was not aware that I knew?” “Answer me this question,” said Socrates: “if you wished to induce any one of your acquaintance, when he offered sacrifice, to invite you to his feast, what would you do?” “I should doubtless begin by inviting him when I offered sacrifice.” 12. “And if you wished to prevail on any of your friends to take care of your property, when you went from home, what would you do?” “I should certainly first undertake to take care of his property, when he went from home.” 13. “And if you wished to induce an acquaintance in a foreign land to receive you hospitably when you visited his country, what would you do?” “I should unquestionably be the first to receive him hospitably when he came to Athens; and if I wished him to be desirous to effect for me the objects for which I went thither, it is clear that I must first confer a similar service on him.” 14. “Have you not long been concealing that you are acquainted with all the love-charms that exist among mankind? Or are you afraid,” continued Socrates, “to make the first advances, lest you should seem to degrade yourself, if you should be the first to propitiate your brother? Yet he is thought to be a man deserving of great praise, who is the first to do harm to the enemy, and to do good to his friends. If, then, Chærephon had appeared to me more likely than you to lead to this frame of mind, I would have endeavoured to persuade him first to try to make you his friend; but, as things stand, you seem more likely, if you take the lead, to effect the desired object.” 15. “You speak unreasonably, Socrates,” rejoined Chærecrates, “and not as might be expected from you, when you desire me, who am the younger, to take the lead; for the established practice among all men is quite the reverse, being that the elder should always be first, both to act and speak.” 16. “How,” said Socrates; “is it not the custom everywhere that the younger should yield the path to the elder when he meets him, not to receive him sitting, to honour him with a soft couch, and give place to him in conversation? Do not therefore hesitate, my good young friend, but endeavour to conciliate the man, and he will very soon listen to you. Do you not see how fond of honour, and how liberal-minded, he is? Mean-minded persons you cannot attract more effectually than by giving them something; but honourable and good men you may best gain by treating them in a friendly spirit.” 17. “But what if he should become no kinder,” said Chærecrates, “after I have done what you advise?” “What other risk,” said Socrates, “will you run but that of showing that you are kind and full of brotherly affection, and that he is mean-spirited and unworthy of any kindness? But I apprehend no such result; for I conceive that when he finds you challenging him to such a contest, he will be extremely emulous to excel you in doing kindnesses both by word and deed. 18. At present, you are in the same case as if the two hands, which the gods have made to assist each other, should neglect this duty, and begin to impede each other; or as if the two feet, formed by divine providence to co-operate with one another, should give up this office, and obstruct one another. 19. Would it not be a great folly and misfortune to use for our hurt what was formed for our benefit? And indeed, as it appears to me, the gods have designed brothers to be of greater mutual service than the hands, or feet, or eyes, or other members which they have made in pairs for men; for the hands, if required to do things, at the same time, at greater distance than a fathom, would be unable to do them; the feet cannot reach two objects, at the same time, that are distant even a fathom; and the eyes, which seem to reach to the greatest distance, cannot, of objects that are much nearer, see at the same time those that are before and behind them; but brothers, if they are in friendship, can, even at the greatest distance, act in concert and for mutual benefit.”


On the value of friendship. Many are more desirous to acquire property than friends, sect. 1–4. But no species of property is more valuable, lasting, and useful than a good friend: his qualities enumerated, 5–7.

1. I heard him, also, on one occasion, holding a discourse concerning friends, by which, as it seems to me, a person might be greatly benefited, both as to the acquisition and use of friends; for he said that he had heard many people observe that a true and honest friend was the most valuable of all possessions, but that he saw the greater part of mankind attending to anything rather than securing friends. 2. He observed them, he added, industriously endeavouring to procure houses and lands, slaves, cattle, and furniture; but as for a friend, whom they called the greatest of blessings, he saw the majority considering neither how to procure one, nor how those whom they had might be retained. 3. Even when friends and slaves were sick, he said that he noticed people calling in physicians to their slaves, and carefully providing other means for their recovery, but paying no attention to their friends; and that, if both died, they grieved for their slaves, and thought that they had suffered a loss, but considered that they lost nothing in losing friends. Of their other possessions they left nothing untended or unheeded, but when their friends required attention, they utterly neglected them.

4. In addition to these remarks, he observed that he saw the greater part of mankind acquainted with the number of their other possessions, although they might be very numerous, but of their friends, though but few, they were not only ignorant of the number, but even when they attempted to reckon it to such as asked them, they set aside again some that they had previously counted among their friends; so little did they allow their friends to occupy their thoughts. 5. Yet in comparison with what possession, of all others, would not a good friend appear far more valuable? What sort of horse, or yoke of oxen, is so useful as a truly good friend? What slave is so well-disposed or so attached, or what other acquisition so beneficial? 6. For a good friend interests himself in whatever is wanting on the part of his friend, whether in his private affairs, or for the public interests; if he is required to do a service to any one, he assists him with the means; if any apprehension alarms him, he lends him his aid, sometimes sharing expenditure with him, sometimes co-operating with him, sometimes joining with him to persuade others, sometimes using force towards others; frequently cheering him when he is successful, and frequently supporting him when he is in danger of falling. 7. What the hands do, what the eyes foresee, what the ears hear, what the feet accomplish, for each individual, his friend, of all such services, fails to perform no one; and oftentimes, what a person has not effected for himself, or has not seen, or has not heard, or has not accomplished, a friend has succeeded in executing for his friend; and yet, while people try to foster trees for the sake of their fruit, the greater portion of mankind are heedless and neglectful of that most productive possession which is called a friend.


On the different estimation in which different friends are to be held. We ought to examine ourselves, and ascertain at what value we may expect our friends to hold us.

1. I heard one day another dissertation of his, which seemed to me to exhort the hearer to examine himself, and ascertain of how much value he was to his friends. Finding that one of his followers was neglectful of a friend who was oppressed with poverty, he asked Antisthenes, in the presence of the man that neglected his friend, and of several others, saying, “Are there certain settled values for friends, Antisthenes, as there are for slaves? 2. For, of slaves, one, perhaps, is worth two minæ, another not even half a mina, another five minæ, another ten. Nicias, the son of Niceratus, is said to have bought an overseer for his silver mines at the price of a whole talent. Let us therefore consider whether, as there are certain values for slaves, there are also certain values for friends.” 3. “There are, undoubtedly,” replied Antisthenes; “at least I, for my part, should wish one man to be my friend rather than have two minæ; another I should not value even at half a mina; another I should prefer to ten minæ; and another I would buy for my friend at the sacrifice of all the money and trouble in the world.” 4. “If such be the case, therefore,” said Socrates, “it would be well for each of us to examine himself, to consider of what value he is in the estimation of his friends; and to try to be of as much value to them as possible, in order that his friends may be less likely to desert him; for I often hear one man saying that his friend has abandoned him, and another, that a person whom he thought to be his friend has preferred a mina to him. 5. I am considering, accordingly, whether, as one sells a bad slave, and parts with him for whatever he will fetch, so there may be a temptation to give up a worthless friend, when there is an opportunity of receiving more than he is worth. Good slaves I do not often see sold at all, or good friends abandoned.”


What sort of persons we should choose for our friends, sect. 1–5. How we may ascertain the characters of men, before we form a friendship with them, 6, 7. How we may attach men to us as friends, 8–13. Friendship can exist only between the good and honourable, 14–19; between whom it will continue to subsist in spite of differences of opinion, 19–28. Deductions from the preceding remarks, 29–39.

1. He appeared to me, also, to make his followers wise in examining what sort of persons it was right to attach to themselves as friends, by such conversations as the following. “Tell me, Critobulus,” said he, “if we were in need of a good friend, how should we proceed to look for one? Should we not, in the first place, seek for a person who can govern his appetite, his inclination to wine or sensuality, and sleep and idleness; for one who is overcome by such propensities would be unable to do his duty either to himself or his friend.” “Assuredly he would not,” said Critobulus. “It appears then to you that we must avoid one who is at the mercy of such inclinations?” “Undoubtedly,” replied Critobulus. 2. “Besides,” continued Socrates, “does not a man who is extravagant and yet unable to support himself, but is always in want of assistance from his neighbour, a man who, when he borrows, cannot pay, and when he cannot borrow, hates him who will not lend, appear to you to be a dangerous friend?” “Assuredly,” replied Critobulus. “We must therefore avoid such a character?” “We must indeed.” 3. “Again: what sort of friend would he be who has the means of getting money, and covets great wealth, and who, on this account, is a driver of hard bargains, and delights to receive, but is unwilling to pay?” “Such a person appears to me,” said Critobulus, “to be a still worse character than the former.” 4. “What then do you think of him, who, from love of getting money, allows himself no time for thinking of anything else but whence he may obtain it?” “We must avoid him, as it seems to me; for he would be useless to any one that should make an associate of him.” “And what do you think of him who is quarrelsome, and likely to raise up many enemies against his friends?” “We must avoid him also, by Jupiter.” “But if a man have none of these bad qualities, but is content to receive obligations, taking no thought of returning them?” “He also would be useless as a friend. But what sort of person, then, Socrates, should we endeavour to make our friend?” 5. “A person, I think, who, being the reverse of all this, is proof against the seductions of bodily pleasures, is upright and fair in his dealings, and emulous not to be outdone in serving those who serve him, so that he is of advantage to those who associate with him.” 6. “How then shall we find proof of these qualities in him, Socrates, before we associate with him?” “We make proof of statuaries,” rejoined Socrates, “not by forming opinions from their words, but, whomsoever we observe to have executed his previous statues skilfully, we trust that he will execute others well.” 7. “You mean, then, that the man who is known to have served his former friends, will doubtless be likely to serve such as may be his friends hereafter?” “Yes; for whomsoever I know to have previously managed horses with skill, I expect to manage other horses also with skill.”

8. “Be it so,” said Critobulus; “but by what means must we make a friend of him who appears to us worthy of our friendship?” “In the first place,” answered Socrates, “we must consult the gods, whether they recommend us to make him our friend.” “Can you tell me, then,” said Critobulus, “how he, who appears eligible to us, and whom the gods do not disapprove, is to be secured?” 9. “Assuredly,” returned Socrates, “he is not to be caught by tracking him like the hare, or by wiles, like birds, or by making him prisoner by force, like enemies; for it would be an arduous task to make a man your friend against his will, or to hold him fast if you were to bind him like a slave; for those who suffer such treatment are rendered enemies rather than friends.” 10. “How then are men made friends?” inquired Critobulus. “They say that there are certain incantations, which those who know them, chant to whomsoever they please, and thus make them their friends; and that there are also love-potions, which those who know them, administer to whomsoever they will, and are in consequence beloved by them.” 11. “And how can we discover these charms?” “You have heard from Homer the song which the Sirens sung to Ulysses, the commencement of which runs thus:

‘Come hither, much-extolled Ulysses, great glory of the Greeks.’ ”

“Did the Sirens then, by singing this same song to other men also, detain them so that they were charmed and could not depart from them?” “No; but they sang thus to those who were desirous of being honoured for virtue.” 12. “You seem to mean that we ought to apply as charms to any person, such commendations as, when he hears them, he will not suspect that his eulogist utters to ridicule him; for, if he conceived such a suspicion, he would rather be rendered an enemy, and would repel men from him; as, for instance, if a person were to praise as beautiful, and tall, and strong, one who is conscious that he is short, and deformed, and weak.

“But,” added Critobulus, “do you know any other charms?” 13. “No,” said Socrates, “but I have heard that Pericles knew many, which he used to chant to the city, and make it love him.” “And how did Themistocles make the city love him?” “Not, by Jupiter, by uttering charms to it, but by conferring on it some advantage.” 14. “You appear to me to mean, Socrates, that if we would attach to us any good person as a friend, we ourselves should be good both in speaking and acting.” “And did you think it possible,” said Socrates, “for a bad person to attach to himself good men as his friends?” 15. “I have seen,” rejoined Critobulus, “bad orators become friends to good orators, and men bad at commanding an army become friends to men eminently good in the military art.” 16. “Do you, then,” said Socrates, “regarding the subject of which we are speaking, know any persons, who, being themselves useless, can make useful persons their friends?” “No, by Jupiter,” replied Critobulus; “but if it is impossible for a worthless person to attach to himself good and honourable friends, then tell me this, whether it is possible for one who is himself honourable and good, to become, with ease, a friend to the honourable and good.” 17. “What perplexes you, Critobulus, is, that you often see men who are honourable in their conduct, and who refrain from everything disgraceful, involved, instead of being friends, in dissensions with one another, and showing more severity towards each other than the worthless part of mankind.” 18. “Nor is it only private persons,” rejoined Critobulus, “that act in this manner, but even whole communities, which have the greatest regard for what is honourable, and are least inclined to anything disgraceful, are often hostilely disposed towards one another.

19. “When I reflect on these things,” continued Critobulus, “I am quite in despair about the acquisition of friends; for I see that the bad cannot be friends with one another; for how can the ungrateful, or careless, or avaricious, or faithless, or intemperate, be friends to each other? indeed the bad appear to me to be altogether disposed by nature to be mutual enemies rather than friends. 20. Again, the bad, as you observe, can never harmonise in friendship with the good; for how can those who commit bad actions be friends with those who abhor such actions? And yet, if those also who practise virtue fall into dissensions with one another about pre-eminence in their respective communities, and, being zealous of their own ‘interests,’ even hate each other, who will ever be friends, or among what class of mankind shall affection and attachment be found?” 21. “But these affections act in various ways,” rejoined Socrates, “for men have by nature inclinations to attachment, since they stand in need of each other, and feel compassion for each other, and co-operate for mutual benefit, and, being conscious that such is the case, have a sense of gratitude towards one another; but they have also propensities to enmity, for such as think the same objects honourable and desirable, engage in contention for them, and, divided in feelings, become enemies. Disputation and anger lead to war; avarice excites ill-will; and envy is followed by hatred. 22. But, nevertheless, friendship, insinuating itself through all these hindrances, unites together the honourable and good; for such characters, through affection for virtue, prefer the enjoyment of a moderate competency without strife, to the attainment of unlimited power by means of war; they can endure hunger and thirst without discontent, and take only a fair share of meat and drink, and, though delighted with the attractions of youthful beauty, they can control themselves, so as to forbear from offending those whom they ought not to offend. 23. By laying aside all avaricious feelings too, they can not only be satisfied with their lawful share of the common property, but can even assist one another. They can settle their differences, not only without mutual offence, but even to their mutual benefit. They can prevent their anger from going so far as to cause them repentance; and envy they entirely banish, by sharing their own property with their friends, and considering that of their friends as their own.

24. “How, then, can it be otherwise than natural, that the honourable and good should be sharers in political distinctions, not only without detriment, but even with advantage, to each other? Those indeed who covet honour and office in states, merely that they may have power to embezzle money, to do violence to others, and to live a life of luxury, must be regarded as unprincipled and abandoned characters, and incapable of harmonious union with other men. 25. But when a person wishes to attain honours in a community, in order, not merely that he may not suffer wrong himself, but that he may assist his friends as far as is lawful, and may endeavour, in his term of office, to do some service to his country, why should he not, being of such a character, form a close union with another of similar character? Will he be less able to benefit his friends if he unite himself with the honourable and good, or will he be less able to serve his country if he have the honourable and good for his colleagues? 26. In the public games, indeed, it is plain, that if the strongest were allowed to unite and attack the weaker, they would conquer in all the contests, and carry off all the prizes; and accordingly people do not permit them, in those competitions, to act in such a manner; but since, in political affairs, in which honourable and good men rule, no one hinders another from serving his country in concert with whomsoever he pleases, how can it be otherwise than profitable for him to conduct affairs with the best men as his friends, having these as colleagues and co-operators, rather than antagonists, in his proceedings? 27. It is evident, too, that if one man commences hostilities against another, he will need allies, and will need a greater number of them, if he oppose the honourable and good; and those who consent to be his allies must be well treated by him, that they may be zealous in his interests; and it is much better for him to serve the best characters, who are the fewer, than the inferior, who are more numerous; for the bad require far more favours than the good. 28. But strive with good courage, Critobulus,” he continued, “to be good yourself, and, having become so, endeavour to gain the friendship of men of honour and virtue. Perhaps I myself also may be able to assist you in this pursuit of the honourable and virtuous, from being naturally disposed to love, for, for whatever persons I conceive a liking, I devote myself with ardour, and with my whole mind, to love them, and be loved in return by them, regretting their absence to have mine regretted by them, and longing for their society while they on the other hand long for mine. 29. I know that you also must cultivate such feelings, whenever you desire to form a friendship with any person. Do not conceal from my knowledge, therefore, the persons to whom you may wish to become a friend; for, from my carefulness to please those who please me, I do not think that I am unskilled in the art of gaining men’s affections.”

30. “Indeed, Socrates,” replied Critobulus, “I have long desired to receive such instructions as yours, especially if the same knowledge will help me in regard to those who are amiable in mind, and handsome in person.” 31. “But, Critobulus,” replied Socrates, “there is nothing in the knowledge that I communicate to make those who are handsome in person endure him who lays hands upon them; for I am persuaded that men shrunk from Scylla because she offered to put her hands on them; while every one, they say, was ready to listen to the Sirens, and were enchanted as they listened, because they laid hands on no one, but sang to all men from a distance.” 32. “On the understanding, then, that I shall lay my hands on no one,” said Critobulus, “tell me if you know any effectual means for securing friends.” “But will you never,” asked Socrates, “apply your lips to theirs?” “Be of good courage, Socrates,” said Critobulus, “for I will never apply my lips to those of any person, unless that person be beautiful.” “You have now said,” rejoined Socrates, “the exact contrary to what will promote your object; for the beautiful will not allow such liberties, though the deformed submit to them with pleasure, thinking that they are accounted beautiful for their mental qualities.” 33. “As I shall caress the beautiful, then,” said Critobulus, “and caress the good, teach me, with confidence, the art of attaching my friends to me.” “When, therefore, Critobulus,” said Socrates, “you wish to become a friend to any one, will you permit me to say to him concerning you, that you admire him, and desire to be his friend?” “You may say so,” answered Critobulus, “for I have never known any one dislike those who praised him.” 34. “But if I say of you, in addition, that, because you admire him, you feel kindly disposed towards him, will you not think that false information is given of you by me?” “No: for a kind feeling springs up in myself also towards those whom I regard as kindly disposed towards me.” 35. “Such information, then,” continued Socrates, “I may communicate regarding you to such as you may wish to make your friends; but if you enable me also to say concerning you, that you are attentive to your friends; that you delight in nothing so much as in the possession of good friends; that you pride yourself on the honourable conduct of your friends not less than on your own; that you rejoice at the good fortune of your friends not less than at your own; that you are never weary of contriving means by which good fortune may come to your friends; and that you think it the great virtue of a man to surpass his friends in doing them good and his enemies in doing them harm, I think that I shall be a very useful assistant to you in gaining the affections of worthy friends.” 36. “But why,” said Critobulus, “do you say this to me, as if you were not at liberty to say of me anything you please?” “No, by Jupiter,” replied Socrates; “I have no such liberty, according to a remark that I once heard from Aspasia; for she said that skilful match-makers, by reporting with truth good points of character, had great influence in leading people to form unions, but that those who said what was false, did no good by their praises, for that such as were deceived hated each other and the match-maker alike; and as I am persuaded that this opinion is correct, I think that I ought not to say, when I praise you, anything that I cannot utter with truth.” 37. “You are, therefore,” returned Critobulus, “a friend of such a kind to me, Socrates, as to assist me, if I have myself any qualities adapted to gain friends; but if not, you would not be willing to invent anything to serve me.” “And whether, Critobulus,” said Socrates, “should I appear to serve you more by extolling you with false praises, or by persuading you to endeavour to become a truly deserving man? 38. If this point is not clear to you, consider it with the following illustrations: If, wishing to make the owner of a ship your friend, I should praise you falsely to him, pronouncing you a skilful pilot, and he, believing me, should intrust his ship to you to steer when you are incapable of steering it, would you have any expectation that you would not destroy both yourself and the ship? Or if, by false representations, I should persuade the state, publicly, to intrust itself to you as a man skilled in military tactics, in judicial proceedings, or in political affairs, what do you think that yourself and the state would suffer at your hands? Or if, in private intercourse, I should induce any of the citizens, by unfounded statements, to commit their property to your care, as being a diligent manager, would you not, when you came to give proof of your abilities, be convicted of dishonesty, and make yourself appear ridiculous? 39. But the shortest, and safest, and best way, Critobulus, is, to strive to be really good in that in which you wish to be thought good. Whatever are called virtues among mankind, you will find, on consideration, capable of being increased by study and exercise. I am of opinion, that it is in accordance with these sentiments, that we ought to endeavour to acquire friends; if you know any other way, make me acquainted with it.” “I should be indeed ashamed,” replied Critobulus, “to say anything in opposition to such an opinion; for I should say what was neither honourable nor true.”


Socrates endeavoured to alleviate the necessities of his friends by his instructions, and by exhorting them to assist each other. In this chapter it is particularly shown that any person of liberal education may, when oppressed by poverty, honourably use his talents and accomplishments for his support.

1. Such difficulties of his friends as arose from ignorance, he endeavoured to remedy by his counsel; such as sprung from poverty, by admonishing them to assist each other according to their means. With reference to this point, I will relate what I know of him.

Observing Aristarchus, on one occasion, looking gloomily, “You seem,” said he, “Aristarchus, to be taking something to heart; but you ought to impart the cause of your uneasiness to your friends; for perhaps we may by some means lighten it.” 2. “I am indeed, Socrates,” replied Aristarchus, “in great perplexity; for since the city has been disturbed, and many of our people have fled to the Piræeus, my surviving sisters, and nieces, and cousins have gathered about me in such numbers, that there are now in my house fourteen free-born persons. At the same time, we receive no profit from our lands, for the enemy are in possession of them; nor any rent from our houses, for but few inhabitants are left in the city; no one will buy our furniture, nor is it possible to borrow money from any quarter; a person, indeed, as it seems to me, would sooner find money by seeking it on the road, than get it by borrowing. It is a grievous thing to me, therefore, to leave my relations to perish; and it is impossible for me to support such a number under such circumstances.” 3. Socrates, on hearing this, replied, “And how is it that Ceramon, yonder, though maintaining a great number of people, is not only able to procure what is necessary for himself and them, but gains so much more, also, as to be positively rich, while you, having many to support, are afraid lest you should all perish for want of necessaries?” “Because, assuredly,” replied Aristarchus, “he maintains slaves, while I have to support free-born persons.” 4. “And which of the two,” inquired Socrates, “do you consider to be the better, the free-born persons that are with you, or the slaves that are with Ceramon?” “I consider the free persons with me as the better.” “Is it not then a disgrace that he should gain abundance by means of the inferior sort, and that you should be in difficulties while having with you those of the better class?” “Such certainly is the case; but it is not at all wonderful; for he supports artisans; but I, persons of liberal education.” 5. “Artisans, then,” asked Socrates, “are persons that know how to make something useful?” “Unquestionably,” replied Aristarchus. “Is barley-meal, then, useful?” “Very.” “Is bread?” “Not less so.” “And are men’s and women’s garments, coats, cloaks, and mantles, useful?” “They are all extremely useful.” “And do those who are residing with you, then, not know how to make any of these things?” “They know how to make them all, as I believe.” 6. “And are you not aware that from the manufacture of one of these articles, that of barley-meal, Nausicydes supports not only himself and his household, but a great number of swine and oxen besides, and gains, indeed, so much more than he wants, that he often even assists the government with his money? Are you not aware that Cyrebus, by making bread, maintains his whole household, and lives luxuriously; that Demea, of Collytus, supports himself by making cloaks, Menon by making woollen cloaks, and that most of the Megarians live by making mantles?” “Certainly they do,” said Aristarchus; “for they purchase barbarian slaves and keep them, in order to force them to do what they please; but I have with me free-born persons and relatives.” 7. “Then,” added Socrates, “because they are free and related to you, do you think that they ought to do nothing else but eat and sleep? Among other free persons, do you see that those who live thus spend their time more pleasantly, and do you consider them happier, than those who practise the arts which they know, and which are useful to support life? Do you find that idleness and carelessness are serviceable to mankind, either for learning what it becomes them to know, or for remembering what they have learned, or for maintaining the health and strength of their bodies, or for acquiring and preserving what is useful for the support of life, and that industry and diligence are of no service at all? 8. And as to the arts which you say they know, whether did they learn them as being useless to maintain life, and with the intention of never practising any of them, or, on the contrary, with a view to occupy themselves about them, and to reap profit from them? In which condition will men be more temperate, living in idleness, or attending to useful employments? In which condition will they be more honest, if they work, or if they sit in idleness meditating how to procure necessaries? 9. Under present circumstances, as I should suppose, you neither feel attached to your relatives, nor they to you, for you find them burdensome to you, and they see that you are annoyed with their company. From such feelings there is danger that dislike may grow stronger and stronger, and that previous friendly inclinations may be diminished. But if you take them under your direction, so that they may be employed, you will love them, when you see that they are serviceable to you, and they will grow attached to you, when they find that you feel satisfaction in their society; and remembering past services with greater pleasure, you will increase the friendly feeling resulting from them, and consequently grow more attached and better disposed towards each other. 10. If, indeed, they were going to employ themselves in anything dishonourable, death would be preferable to it; but the accomplishments which they know, are, as it appears, such as are most honourable and becoming to women; and all people execute what they know with the greatest ease and expedition, and with the utmost credit and pleasure. Do not hesitate, therefore,” concluded Socrates, “to recommend to them this line of conduct, which will benefit both you and them; and they, as it is probable, will cheerfully comply with your wishes.” 11. “By the gods,” exclaimed Aristarchus, “you seem to me to give such excellent advice, Socrates, that though hitherto I did not like to borrow money, knowing that, when I had spent what I got, I should have no means of repaying it, I now think that I can endure to do so, in order to gain the necessary means for commencing work.”

12. The necessary means were accordingly provided; wool was bought; and the women took their dinners as they continued at work, and supped when they had finished their tasks; they became cheerful instead of gloomy in countenance, and, instead of regarding each other with dislike, met the looks of one another with pleasure; they loved Aristarchus as their protector, and he loved them as being of use to him. At last he came to Socrates, and told him with delight of the state of things in his house: adding that “the women complained of him as being the only person in the house that ate the bread of idleness.” 13. “And do you not tell them,” said Socrates, “the fable of the dog? For they say that when beasts had the faculty of speech, the sheep said to her master, ‘You act strangely, in granting nothing to us who supply you with wool, and lambs, and cheese, except what we get from the ground; while to the dog, who brings you no such profits, you give a share of the food which you take yourself.’ 14. The dog, hearing these remarks, said, ‘Yes, by Jove, for I am he that protects even yourselves, so that you are neither stolen by men, nor carried off by wolves; while, if I were not to guard you, you would be unable even to feed, for fear lest you should be destroyed.’ In consequence it is said that the sheep agreed that the dog should have superior honour. You, accordingly, tell your relations that you are, in the place of the dog, their guardian and protector, and that, by your means, they work and live in security and pleasure, without suffering injury from any one.”


Socrates persuades Eutherus, who was working for hire, to seek some more eligible employment, as his present occupation was not suited for old age, and recommends to him the post of steward to some rich man. An objection on the part of Eutherus, that he should dislike to have to render an account to a master, Socrates opposes with the remark that there is no office in the world free from responsibility.

1. Seeing an old friend one day, after a considerable interval of time, he said, “Whence do you come, Eutherus?” “I am returned, Socrates,” replied Eutherus, “from my retirement abroad at the conclusion of the war; and I come now from the immediate neighbourhood; for since we were robbed of all our possessions beyond the borders, and my father left me nothing in Attica, I am obliged to live in the city and work with my own hands to procure the necessaries of life; but this seems to me better than to ask aid of anybody, especially as I have nothing on which I could borrow.” 2. “And how long,” said Socrates, “do you think that your body is able to work for hire?” “Not very long, by Jupiter,” replied Eutherus. “Then,” said Socrates, “when you grow older, you will doubtless be in want of money for your expenses, and no one will be willing to give you wages for your bodily labour.” “What you say is true,” rejoined Eutherus. 3. “It will be better for you, therefore,” continued Socrates, “to apply yourself immediately to some employment which will maintain you when you are old, and, attaching yourself to some one of those that have larger fortunes (who requires a person to assist him), and, superintending his works, helping to gather in his fruits, and preserve his property, to benefit him, and to be benefited by him in return.” 4. “I should with great reluctance, Socrates,” said he, “submit to slavery.” “Yet those who have the superintendence in states, and who take care of the public interests, are not the more like slaves on that account, but are thought to have more of the freeman.” 5. “In a word, however,” rejoined Eutherus, “I am not at all willing to make myself responsible to any one.” “But assuredly, Eutherus,” said Socrates, “it is not very easy to find an employment in which a person would not be responsible; for it is difficult to do anything so as to commit no error; and it is difficult, even if you have done it without error, to meet with a considerate judge; for even in the occupation in which you are now engaged I should wonder if it be easy for you to go through it without blame. 6. But you must endeavour to avoid such employers as are given to censure, and seek such as are candid; to undertake such duties as you are able to do, and to decline such as you cannot fulfil; and to execute whatever you take upon you in the best manner and with the utmost zeal; for I think that, by such conduct, you will be least exposed to censure, you will most readily find assistance in time of need, and you will live with the greatest ease and freedom from danger, and with the best provision for old age.”


Crito, a rich man, complaining that he is harassed by informers, Socrates recommends him to secure the services of Archidemus, a poor man well skilled in the law, to defend him against them; a plan by which both are benefited. Archidemus also assists others, and gains both reputation and emolument.

1. I know that he also heard Crito once observe, how difficult it was for a man who wished to mind his own business to live at Athens. “For at this very time,” added he, “there are people bringing actions against me, not because they have suffered any wrong from me, but because they think that I would rather pay them a sum of money than have the trouble of law proceedings.” 2. “Tell me, Crito,” said Socrates, “do you not keep dogs, that they may drive away the wolves from your sheep?” “Certainly,” answered Crito, “for it is more profitable to me to keep them than not.” “Would you not then be inclined to keep a man also, who would be willing and able to drive away from you those that try to molest you?” “I would with pleasure,” returned Crito, “if I were not afraid that he would turn against me.” 3. “But do you not see,” said Socrates, “that it would be much more pleasant for him to serve himself by gratifying such a man as you than by incurring your enmity? And be assured that there are such characters here, who would be extremely ambitious to have you for a friend.”

4. In consequence of this conversation, they fixed upon Archidemus, a man of great ability both in speaking and acting, but poor; for he was not of a character to make money by every means, but was a lover of honesty, too noble to take money from the informers. Crito, therefore, whenever he gathered in his corn, or oil, or wine, or wool, or anything else that grew on his land, used to select a portion of it, and give it to Archidemus; and used to invite him whenever he sacrificed, and paid him attention in every similar way. 5. Archidemus, accordingly, thinking that Crito’s house would be a place of refuge for him, showed him much respect, and quickly discovered, on the part of Crito’s accusers, many illegal acts, and many persons who were enemies to those accusers, (one of) whom he summoned to a public trial, in which it would be settled what he should suffer or pay. 6. This person, being conscious of many crimes, tried every means to get out of the hands of Archidemus; but Archidemus would not let him off, until he ceased to molest Crito, and gave himself a sum of money besides.

7. When Archidemus had succeeded in this and some other similar proceedings, then, as when any shepherd has a good dog, other shepherds wish to station their flocks near him, in order to have the benefit of his dog, so likewise many of the friends of Crito begged him to lend them the services of Archidemus as a protector. 8. Archidemus willingly gratified Crito in this respect, and thus not only Crito himself was left at peace, but his friends. And if any of those with whom he was at variance taunted him with receiving favours from Crito, and paying court to him, Archidemus would ask, “whether is it disgraceful to be benefited by honest men, and to make them your friends by serving them in return, and to be at variance with the unprincipled, or to make the honourable and good your enemies by trying to wrong them, and to make the bad your friends by co-operating with them, and associate with the vicious instead of the virtuous?” From this time Archidemus was one of Crito’s friends, and was honoured by the other friends of Crito.


Socrates exhorts Diodorus, a rich man, to aid his friend Hermogenes, who is in extreme poverty. A man endeavours to preserve the life of a slave, and ought surely to use greater exertions to save a friend, who will well repay our kindness.

1. I am aware that he also held a conversation with Diodorus, one of his followers, to the following effect. “Tell me, Diodorus,” said he, “if one of your slaves runs away, do you use any care to recover him?” 2. “Yes, indeed,” answered he, “and I call others to my aid, by offering rewards for capturing him.” “And if any of your slaves falls ill,” continued Socrates, “do you pay any attention to him, and call in medical men, that he may not die?” “Certainly,” replied the other. “And if any one of your friends, who is far more valuable to you than all your slaves, is in danger of perishing of want, do you not think that it becomes you to take care of him, that his life may be saved?” 3. But you are not ignorant that Hermogenes is not ungrateful, and would be ashamed, if, after being assisted by you, he were not to serve you in return; and indeed to secure such a supporter as him, willing, well-disposed, steady, and not only able to do what he is directed, but capable of being useful of himself, and of taking forethought, and forming plans for you, I consider equivalent to the value of many slaves. 4. Good economists say that you ought to buy, when you can purchase for a little what is worth much; but now, in consequence of the troubled state of affairs, it is possible to obtain good friends at a very easy rate.” 5. “You say well, Socrates,” rejoined Diodorus; “and therefore tell Hermogenes to come to me.” “No, by Jupiter,” said Socrates, “I shall not; for I think it not so honourable for you to send for him as to go yourself to him; nor do I consider it a greater benefit to him than to you that this intercourse should take place.” 6. Diodorus accordingly went to Hermogenes, and secured, at no great expense, a friend who made it his business to consider by what words or deeds he could profit or please Diodorus.



Socrates used to exhort those who aspired to public offices to learn the duties that would be required in them. The duties of a military commander, and his responsibilities, sect. 1–5. He must know many things besides military tactics, 6–11.

1. I will now show that Socrates was of great service to those who aspired to posts of honour, by rendering them attentive to the duties of the offices which they sought.

Having heard that Dionysodorus had arrived at the city, offering to teach the art of a general, he said to one of those who were with him, whom he observed to be desirous of obtaining that honour in the state, 2. “It is indeed unbecoming, young man, that he who wishes to be commander of an army in his country should neglect to learn the duties of that office when he has an opportunity of learning them; and such a person would be far more justly punished by his country than one who should contract to make statues (for it), when he had not learned to make them; 3. for as the whole state, in the perils of war, is intrusted to the care of the general, it is likely that great advantages will occur if he act well, and great evils if he fall into error. How, then, would not he, who neglects to learn the duties of the office, while he is eager to be elected to it, be deservedly punished?” By making such observations, he induced the young man to go and learn.

4. When, after having learned, he returned to Socrates again, he began to joke upon him, saying, “Since Homer, my friends, has represented Agamemnon as dignified, does not this young man, after learning to be a general, seem to you to look more dignified than before? For as he who has learned to play the lyre is a lyrist, though he may not use the instrument, and he who has learned the art of healing is a physician, though he may not practise his art, so this youth will from henceforth be a general, though no one may elect him to command; but he who wants the proper knowledge is neither general nor physician, even though he be chosen to act as such by all the people in the world. 5. But,” he continued, “in order that we may have a better knowledge of the military art, in case any one of us should have to command a troop or company under you, tell us how he began to teach you generalship?” “He began,” replied the youth, “with the same thing with which he ended; for he taught me tactics, and nothing else.” 6. “But,” said Socrates, “how small a part of the qualifications of a general is this! For a general must be skilful in preparing what is necessary for war, able in securing provisions for his troops, a man of great contrivance and activity, careful, persevering, and sagacious; kind, and yet severe; open, yet crafty; careful of his own, yet ready to steal from others; profuse, yet rapacious; lavish of presents, yet eager to acquire money; cautious, yet enterprising; and many other qualities there are, both natural and acquired, which he, who would fill the office of general with ability, must possess. 7. It is good, indeed, to be skilled in tactics; for a well-arranged army is very different from a disorderly one; as stones and bricks, wood and tiles, if thrown together in confusion, are of no use whatever; but when the stones and tiles, materials not likely to rot or decay, are placed at the bottom and the top, and the bricks and wood are arranged in the middle (as in building), a house, which is a valuable piece of property, is formed.” 8. “What you have said, Socrates,” rejoined the youth, “is an exact illustration of our practice; for in the field of battle we must place the bravest troops in the front and rear, and the cowardly in the middle, that they may be led on by those before them, and pushed forward by those behind.” 9. “If indeed he has taught you to distinguish the brave and cowardly,” rejoined Socrates, “that rule may be of use; but if not, what profit is there in what you have learned? for if he ordered you, in arranging a number of coins, to lay the best first and last, and the worst in the middle, and gave you no instructions how to distinguish the good and bad, his orders to you would be to no purpose.” “But indeed,” he replied, “he did not teach me this; so that we must distinguish the brave from the cowardly ourselves.” 10. “Why should we not consider then,” said Socrates, “how we may avoid mistakes as to that matter?” “I am willing,” returned the young man. “If then we had to capture a sum of money, and were to place the most covetous men in front, should we not arrange them properly?” “It appears so to me.” “And what must generals do when entering on a perilous enterprise? Must they not place the most ambitious in front?” “They at least,” said the young man, “are those who are ready to brave danger for the sake of praise; and they are by no means difficult to discover, but will be everywhere conspicuous and easy to be selected.” 11. “But did your instructor,” inquired Socrates, “teach you to arrange an army, merely, or did he tell you in what direction, and in what manner, you must employ each division of your forces?” “Not at all,” replied he. “Yet there are many occasions, on which it is not proper to draw up an army, or to conduct it, in the same way.” “But, by Jupiter, he gave me no explanation as to such occasions.” “Go again, then, by all means,” said Socrates, “and question him; for if he knows, and is not quite shameless, he will blush, after taking your money, to send you away in ignorance.”


A good general ought to take measures for the safety, maintenance, and success of his troops; and not to study his own honour alone, but that of his whole army.

1. Having met, on some occasion, a person who had been elected general, Socrates said to him, “Why is it, do you think, that Homer has styled Agamemnon ‘Shepherd of the people’? Is it not for this reason, that as a shepherd must be careful that his sheep be safe, and have food, so a general must take care that his soldiers be safe, and have provisions, and that the object be effected for which they serve? and they serve, no doubt, that they may increase their gratifications by conquering the enemy. 2. Or why has he praised Agamemnon in the following manner, saying that he was

Both characters, a good king, and an efficient warrior?

Does he not mean that he would not have been ‘an efficient warrior,’ if he had fought courageously alone against the enemy, and if he had not been the cause of courage to his whole army; and that he would not have been ‘a good king,’ if he had attended to his own subsistence only, and had not been the cause of comfort to those over whom he ruled? 3. For a man is chosen king, not that he may take good care of himself, but that those who have chosen him may prosper by his means; and all men, when they take the field, take it that their lives may be rendered as happy as possible, and choose generals that they may conduct them to the accomplishment of that object. 4. It is incumbent on the leader of an army, therefore, to render this to those who have chosen him their leader. Nor is it easy to find anything more honourable than such exertion, or more disgraceful than an opposite course of conduct.”

Thus considering what was the merit of a good leader, he omitted other points in his character, and left only this, that he should render those whom he commanded happy.


The duty of a commander of cavalry is twofold, to improve the condition both of his men and his horses; and not to leave the care of the horses to the troops, sect. 1–4. How he should train his men, and how he should be himself qualified to do so, 5–10. He should acquire oratorical power, that he may incite his men to exertion, and fire them with the desire of glory, 11–14.

1. I remember that he held a dialogue with a person who had been chosen Hipparch, to the following purport. “Could you tell me, young man,” said he, “with what object you desired to be a Hipparch? It certainly was not for the sake of riding first among the cavalry; for the horse-archers are honoured with that dignity, as they ride even before the Hipparchs.” “You say the truth,” said the youth. “Nor was it, surely, for the sake of being noticed, for even madmen are noticed by everybody.” “You say the truth in that respect also.” 2. “But was it, then, that you expect to render the cavalry better, and present them in that condition to your country, and that, if there should be need for the services of cavalry, you hope, as their leader, to be the author of some advantage to the state?” “I do hope so, certainly.” “And it will be truly honourable to you,” continued Socrates, “if you are able to effect that object. But the command, to which you have been chosen, takes charge of both the horses and riders?” “It does so,” said the young man. 3. “Come, then, tell me this first of all, how you propose to render the horses better?” “That,” replied the other, “I do not consider to be my business; for I think that each man, individually, must take care of his own horse.” 4. “If, then,” said Socrates, “some of the men should present their horses before you so diseased in the feet, so weak in the legs, or so feeble in body, and others theirs so ill-fed, that they could not follow you; others, theirs so unmanageable, that they would not remain where you posted them; others, theirs so vicious that it would not be possible to post them at all; what would be the use of such cavalry to you? Or how would you be able, at the head of them, to be of any service to your country?” “You admonish me well,” said the youth, “and I will try to look to the horses as far as may be in my power.” 5. “And will you not also endeavour,” asked Socrates, “to make the riders better?” “I will,” said he. “You will first of all, then, make them more expert in mounting their horses.” “I ought to do so; for if any of them should fall off, they would thus be better prepared to recover themselves.” 6. “If, then,” said Socrates, “you should be obliged to hazard an engagement, whether will you order your men to bring the enemy down to the level sand on which you have been accustomed to ride, or will you try to exercise them on such ground as that on which the enemy may show themselves?” “The latter method will be the better,” said the young man. 7. “Will you also take any care that the greatest possible number of your men may be able to hurl the dart on horseback?” “That will be better too,” replied he. “And have you considered how to whet the courage of your cavalry, which makes them more courageous, and animate them against the enemy?” “If I have not yet considered,” said he, “I will now try to do so.” 8. “And have you at all considered how your cavalry may be induced to obey you? For without obedience you will have no profit either from horses or horsemen, spirited and valiant as they may be.” “You say the truth, Socrates,” said he; “but by what means can a leader most effectually induce them to obedience?” 9. “You are doubtless aware that in all circumstances men most willingly obey those whom they consider most able to direct; for in sickness patients obey him whom they think the best physician; on ship-board, the passengers obey him whom they think the best pilot, and in agriculture, people obey him whom they deem the best husbandman.” “Unquestionably,” said the young man. “Is it not then likely,” said Socrates, “that in horsemanship also, others will be most willing to obey him who appears to know best what he ought to do?” 10. “If, therefore, Socrates, I should myself appear the best horseman among them, will that circumstance be sufficient to induce them to obey me?” “If you convince them in addition,” said Socrates, “that it is better and safer for them to obey you.” “How, then, shall I convince them of that?” “With much more ease,” replied Socrates, “than if you had to convince them that bad things are better and more profitable than good.” 11. “You mean,” said the young man, “that a commander of cavalry, in addition to his other qualifications, should study to acquire some ability in speaking.” “And did you think,” asked Socrates, “that you would command cavalry by silence? Have you not reflected, that whatever excellent principles we have learned according to law, principles by which we know how to live, we learned all through the medium of speech; and that whatever other valuable instruction any person acquires, he acquires it by means of speech likewise? Do not those who teach best, use speech most; and those who know the most important truths, discuss them with the greatest eloquence? 12. Or have you not observed, that when a band of dancers and musicians is formed from this city, as that, for instance, which is sent to Delos, no one from any other quarter can compete with it; and that in no other city is manly grace shown by numbers of people like that which is seen here?” “What you say is true,” said he. 13. “But it is not so much in sweetness of voice, or in size and strength of body, that the Athenians excel other people, as in ambition, which is the greatest incitement to whatever is honourable and noble.” “This also is true,” said he. 14. “Do you not think, then,” said Socrates, “that if any one should study to improve the cavalry here, the Athenians would excel other people in that department also (as well in the equipment of their arms and horses as in the good order of the men, and in boldly defying danger to encounter the enemy), if they thought that by such means they would acquire praise and honour?” “It is probable,” said the young man. “Do not delay, therefore,” added Socrates, “but try to excite your men to those exertions by which you will both be benefited yourself, and your countrymen through your means.” “I will assuredly try,” replied he.


Nicomachides complaining that the Athenians had not chosen him general, though he was experienced in war, but Antisthenes, who had seen no military service, Socrates proceeds to show that Antisthenes, although he had never filled the office of commander, might have qualities to indicate that he would fill it with success.

1. Seeing Nicomachides, one day, coming from the assembly for the election of magistrates, he asked him, “Who have been chosen generals, Nicomachides?” “Are not the Athenians the same as ever, Socrates?” he replied; “for they have not chosen me, who am worn out with serving from the time I was first elected, both as captain and centurion, and with having received so many wounds from the enemy (he then drew aside his robe, and showed the scars of the wounds), but have elected Antisthenes, who has never served in the heavy-armed infantry, nor done anything remarkable in the cavalry, and who indeed knows nothing, but how to get money.” 2. “Is it not good, however, to know this,” said Socrates, “since he will then be able to get necessaries for the troops?” “But merchants,” replied Nicomachides, “are able to collect money; and yet would not, on that account, be capable of leading an army.” 3. “Antisthenes, however,” continued Socrates, “is given to emulation, a quality necessary in a general. Do you not know that whenever he has been chorus-manager he has gained the superiority in all his choruses?” “But, by Jupiter,” rejoined Nicomachides, “there is nothing similar in managing a chorus and an army.” 4. “Yet Antisthenes,” said Socrates, “though neither skilled in music nor in teaching a chorus, was able to find out the best masters in these departments.” “In the army, accordingly,” exclaimed Nicomachides, “he will find others to range his troops for him, and others to fight for him!” 5. “Well, then,” rejoined Socrates, “if he find out and select the best men in military affairs, as he has done in the conduct of his choruses, he will probably attain superiority in this respect also; and it is likely that he will be more willing to spend money for a victory in war on behalf of the whole state, than for a victory with a chorus in behalf of his single tribe.” 6. “Do you say, then, Socrates,” said he, “that it is in the power of the same man to manage a chorus well, and to manage an army well?” “I say,” said Socrates, “that over whatever a man may preside, he will, if he knows what he needs, and is able to provide it, be a good president, whether he have the direction of a chorus, a family, a city, or an army.” 7. “By Jupiter, Socrates,” cried Nicomachides, “I should never have expected to hear from you that good managers of a family would also be good generals.” “Come, then,” proceeded Socrates, “let us consider what are the duties of each of them, that we may understand whether they are the same, or are in any respect different.” “By all means,” said he. 8. “Is it not, then, the duty of both,” asked Socrates, “to render those under their command obedient and submissive to them?” “Unquestionably.” “Is it not also the duty of both to appoint fitting persons to fulfil the various duties?” “That is also unquestionable.” “To punish the bad, and to honour the good, too, belongs, I think, to each of them.” “Undoubtedly.” 9. “And is it not honourable in both to render those under them well-disposed towards them?” “That also is certain.” “And do you think it for the interest of both to gain for themselves allies and auxiliaries or not?” “It assuredly is for their interest.” “Is it not proper for both also to be careful of their resources?” “Assuredly.” “And is it not proper for both, therefore, to be attentive and industrious in their respective duties?” 10. “All these particulars,” said Nicomachides, “are common alike to both; but it is not common to both to fight.” “Yet both have doubtless enemies,” rejoined Socrates. “That is probably the case,” said the other. “Is it not for the interest of both to gain the superiority over those enemies?” 11. “Certainly; but to say nothing on that point, what, I ask, will skill in managing a household avail, if it be necessary to fight?” “It will doubtless, in that case, be of the greatest avail,” said Socrates; “for a good manager of a house, knowing that nothing is so advantageous or profitable as to get the better of your enemies when you contend with them, nothing so unprofitable and prejudicial as to be defeated, will zealously seek and provide everything that may conduce to victory, will carefully watch and guard against whatever tends to defeat, will vigorously engage if he sees that his force is likely to conquer, and, what is not the least important point, will cautiously avoid engaging if he find himself insufficiently prepared. 12. Do not, therefore, Nicomachides,” he added, “despise men skilful in managing a household; for the conduct of private affairs differs from that of public concerns only in magnitude; in other respects they are similar; but what is most to be observed, is, that neither of them are managed without men, and that private matters are not managed by one species of men, and public matters by another; for those who conduct public business make use of men not at all differing in nature from those whom the managers of private affairs employ; and those who know how to employ them, conduct either private or public affairs judiciously, while those who do not know, will err in the management of both.”


Conversation of Socrates with Pericles the younger on the manner in which the Athenians might be made to recover their ancient spirit and ambition. They ought to be reminded of the deeds of their ancestors, sect. 1–12; and to be taught that indolence has been the cause of their degeneracy, 13. They ought to revive the institutions of their forefathers, or imitate those of the Lacedæmonians, 14; and to pay great attention to military affairs, 15–25. How the territory of Attica might be best secured against invasion, 26–28.

1. Conversing, on one occasion, with Pericles, the son of the great Pericles, Socrates said, “I have hopes, Pericles, that under your leadership the city will become more eminent and famous in military affairs, and will get the better of her enemies.” “I wish, Socrates,” said Pericles, “that what you say may happen; but how such effects are to be produced, I cannot understand.” “Are you willing, then,” asked Socrates, “that we should have some conversation on these points, and consider how far there is a possibility of effecting what we desire?” “I am quite willing,” replied Pericles. 2. “Are you aware, then,” said Socrates, “that the Athenians are not at all inferior in number to the Bœotians?” “I am,” said Pericles. “And whether do you think that a greater number of efficient and well-formed men could be selected from the Bœotians, or from the Athenians?” “The Athenians do not appear to me to be inferior in this respect.” “And which of the two peoples do you consider to be best disposed towards each other?” “I think that the Athenians are; for many of the Bœotians, being oppressed by the Thebans, entertain hostile feelings towards them. But at Athens I see nothing of the kind.” 3. “But the Athenians are moreover of all people most eager for honour and most friendly in disposition; qualities which most effectually impel men to face danger in the cause of glory and of their country.” “The Athenians are certainly not to be found fault with in these respects.” “And assuredly there is no people that have a record of greater or more numerous exploits of their ancestors than the Athenians; a circumstance by which many are prompted and stimulated to cultivate manly courage and to become brave.” 4. “All that you say is true, Socrates, but you see that since the slaughter of the thousand occurred at Lebadeia under Tolmides, and that at Delium under Hippocrates, the reputation of the Athenians has been lessened as far as regards the Bœotians, and the spirit of the Bœotians has been raised as far as regards the Athenians, so that the Bœotians, indeed, who formerly did not dare, even on their own soil, to meet the Athenians in the field without the aid of the Spartans and other Peloponnesians, now threaten to invade Attica single-handed; while the Athenians, who formerly, when the Bœotians were unsupported, ravaged Bœotia, are afraid lest the Bœotians should lay waste Attica.” 5. “I perceive, indeed,” said Socrates, “that such is the case; but the city seems to me now to be more favourably disposed for any good general; for confidence produces in men carelessness, indolence, and disobedience, but fear renders them more attentive, obedient, and orderly. 6. You may form a notion of this from people in a ship; for as long as they fear nothing, they are all in disorder, but as soon as they begin to dread a storm, or the approach of an enemy, they not only do everything that they are told to do, but are hushed in silence, waiting for the directions to be given, like a band of dancers.” 7. “Well then,” said Pericles, “if they would now, assuredly, obey, it would be time for us to discuss how we might incite them to struggle to regain their ancient spirit, glory, and happiness.” 8. “If then,” said Socrates, “we wished them to claim property of which others were in possession, we should most effectively urge them to lay claim to it, if we proved that it belonged to their fathers, and was their rightful inheritance; and since we wish that they should strive for pre-eminence in valour, we must show them that such pre-eminence was indisputably theirs of old, and that if they now exert themselves to recover it, they will be the most powerful of all people.” 9. “How, then, can we convince them of this?” “I think that we may do so, if we remind them that they have heard that their most ancient forefathers, of whom we have any knowledge, were the bravest of men.” 10. “Do you allude to the dispute between the gods, of which Cecrops and his assessors had the decision on account of their valour?” “I do allude to that, and to the education and birth of Erechtheus, and the war which occurred in his time with the people of the whole adjoining continent, as well as that which was waged under the Heracleidæ against the Peloponnesians, and all the wars that were carried on under Theseus, in all of which they showed themselves the bravest people of their time; 11. and also, if you please, to what their descendants have since done, who lived not long before our day, not only contending, with their own unassisted strength, against the lords of all Asia and Europe, as far as Macedonia (who inherited vast power and wealth from their ancestors, and who had themselves performed great achievements), but also distinguished themselves, in conjunction with the Peloponnesians, both by land and sea. They, doubtless, are celebrated as having far surpassed other men of their time.” “They are so,” said Pericles. 12. “In consequence, though many migrations occurred in Greece, they remained in their own country; and many, when contending for their rights, submitted their claims to their arbitration, while many others, also, when persecuted by more powerful people, sought refuge with them.” 13. “I wonder, indeed, Socrates,” said Pericles, “how our city ever degenerated.” “I imagine,” said Socrates, “that as some athletes, owing to being prominent and distinguished, grow idle, and are left behind by their antagonists, so likewise the Athenians, after attaining great pre-eminence, grew neglectful of themselves, and consequently became degenerate.”

14. “By what means, then,” said Pericles, “could they now recover their pristine dignity?” “It appears to me,” replied Socrates, “not at all difficult to discover; for I think that if they learn what were the practices of their ancestors, and observe them not less diligently than they, they will become not at all inferior to them; but if they do not take that course, yet, if they imitate those who are now at the head of Greece, adopting the same principles as they do, and practising the same with diligence equal to theirs, they will stand not at all below them, and, if they use greater exertion, even above them.” 15. “You intimate,” returned Pericles, “that honour and virtue are far away from our city; for when will the Athenians reverence their elders as the Spartans do, when they begin, even by their own fathers, to show disrespect to older men? Or when will they exercise themselves like them, when they not only are regardless of bodily vigour, but deride those who cultivate it? 16. Or when will they obey the magistrates like them, when they make it their pride to set them at nought? Or when will they be of one mind like them, when, instead of acting in concert for their mutual interests, they inflict injuries on one another, and envy one another more than they envy the rest of mankind? More than any other people, too, do they dispute in their private and public meetings; they institute more law-suits against one another, and prefer thus to prey upon one another than to unite for their mutual benefit. They conduct their public affairs as if they were those of a foreign state; they contend about the management of them, and rejoice, above all things, in having power to engage in such contests. 17. From such conduct much ignorance and baseness prevail in the republic, and much envy and mutual hatred are engendered in the breasts of the citizens; on which accounts I am constantly in the greatest fear lest some evil should happen to the state too great for it to bear.” 18. “Do not by any means suppose, Pericles,” rejoined Socrates, “that the Athenians are thus disordered with an incurable depravity. Do you not see how orderly they are in their naval proceedings, how precisely they obey the presidents in the gymnastic games, and how, in the arrangement of the choruses, they submit to the directions of their teachers in a way inferior to none?” 19. “This is indeed surprising,” said Pericles, “that men of that class should obey those who are set over them, and that the infantry and cavalry, who are thought to excel the ordinary citizens in worth and valour, should be the least obedient of all the people.” 20. “The council of the Areopagus, too,” said Socrates, “is it not composed of men of approved character?” “Undoubtedly,” replied Pericles. “And do you know of any judges who decide causes, and conduct all their business, with more exact conformity to the laws, or with more honour and justice?” “I find no fault with them,” said Pericles. “We must not therefore despair,” said Socrates, “as if we thought that the Athenians are not inclined to be lovers of order.” 21. “Yet in military affairs,” observed Pericles, “in which it is most requisite to act with prudence, and order, and obedience, they pay no regard to such duties.” “It may be so,” returned Socrates, “for perhaps in military affairs men who are greatly deficient in knowledge have the command of them. Do you not observe that of harp-players, choristers, dancers, wrestlers, or pancratiasts, no one ventures to assume the direction who has not the requisite knowledge for it, but that all, who take the lead in such matters, are able to show from whom they learned the arts in which they are masters; whereas the most of our generals undertake to command without previous study? 22. I do not, however, imagine you to be one of that sort; for I am sensible that you can tell when you began to learn generalship not less certainly than when you began to learn wrestling. I am sure, too, that you have learned, and keep in mind, many of your father’s principles of warfare, and that you have collected many others from every quarter whence it was possible to acquire anything that would add to your skill as a commander. 23. I have no doubt that you take great care that you may not unawares be ignorant of anything conducive to generalship, and that, if you have ever found yourself deficient in any such matters, you have applied to persons experienced in them, sparing neither presents nor civilities, that you might learn from them what you did not know, and might render them efficient helpers to you.” 24. “You make me well aware, Socrates,” said Pericles, “that you do not say this from a belief that I have diligently attended to these matters, but from a wish to convince me that he who would be a general must attend to all such studies; and I indeed agree with you in that opinion.”

25. “Have you considered this also, Pericles,” asked Socrates, “that on the frontier of our territories lie great mountains, extending down to Bœotia, through which there lead into our country narrow and precipitous defiles; and that our country is girded by strong mountains, as it lies in the midst of them?” “Certainly,” said he. 26. “Have you heard, too, that the Mysians and Pisidians, who occupy extremely strong positions in the country of the Great King, and who are lightly armed, are able to make descents on the king’s territory, and do it great damage, while they themselves preserve their liberty?” “This, too, I have heard,” said Pericles. 27. “And do you not think that the Athenians,” said Socrates, “if equipped with light arms while they are of an age for activity, and occupying the mountains that fence our country, might do great mischief to our enemies, and form a strong bulwark for the inhabitants of our country?” “I think, Socrates,” said he, “that all these arrangements would be useful.” 28. “If these plans, then,” concluded Socrates, “appear satisfactory to you, endeavour, my excellent friend, to act upon them; for whatsoever of them you carry into execution, it will be an honour to yourself and an advantage to the state; and if you fail in the attempt for want of power, you will neither injure the state nor disgrace yourself.”


Socrates, by his usual process of interrogation, leads Glaucon, a young man who was extravagantly desirous of a post in the government, to confess that he was entirely destitute of the knowledge necessary for the office to which he aspired. He then shows that, unless a ruler has acquired an exact knowledge of state affairs, he can do no good to his country or credit to himself.

1. When Glaucon, the son of Ariston, attempted to harangue the people, from a desire, though he was not yet twenty years of age, to have a share in the government of the state, no one of his relatives, or other friends, could prevent him from getting himself dragged down from the tribunal, and making himself ridiculous; but Socrates alone, who had a friendly feeling towards him on account of Charmides the son of Glaucon, as well as on account of Plato, stopped him. 2. Meeting him by chance, he first stopped him by addressing him as follows, that he might be willing to listen to him: “Glaucon,” said he, “have you formed an intention to govern the state for us?” “I have, Socrates,” replied Glaucon. “By Jupiter,” rejoined Socrates, “it is an honourable office, if any other among men be so; for it is certain that, if you attain your object, you will be able yourself to secure whatever you may desire, and will be in a condition to benefit your friends; you will raise your father’s house, and increase the power of your country; you will be celebrated, first of all in your own city, and afterwards throughout Greece, and perhaps also, like Themistocles, among the Barbarians; and, wherever you may be, you will be an object of general admiration.” 3. Glaucon, hearing this, was highly elated, and cheerfully stayed to listen. Socrates next proceeded to say, “But it is plain, Glaucon, that if you wish to be honoured, you must benefit the state.” “Certainly,” answered Glaucon. “Then, in the name of the gods,” said Socrates, “do not hide from us, but inform us with what proceeding you will begin to benefit the state?” 4. But as Glaucon was silent, as if just considering how he should begin, Socrates said, “As, if you wished to aggrandise the family of a friend, you would endeavour to make it richer, tell me whether you will in like manner also endeavour to make the state richer?” “Assuredly,” said he. 5. “Would it then be richer, if its revenues were increased?” “That is at least probable,” said Glaucon. “Tell me then,” proceeded Socrates, “from what the revenues of the state arise, and what is their amount; for you have doubtless considered, in order that if any of them fall short, you may make up the deficiency, and that if any of them fail, you may procure fresh supplies.” “These matters, by Jupiter,” replied Glaucon, “I have not considered.” 6. “Well then,” said Socrates, “if you have omitted to consider this point, tell me at least the annual expenditure of the state; for you undoubtedly mean to retrench whatever is superfluous in it.” “Indeed,” replied Glaucon, “I have not yet had time to turn my attention to that subject.” “We will therefore,” said Socrates, “put off making our state richer for the present; for how is it possible for him who is ignorant of its expenditure and its income to manage those matters?” 7. “But, Socrates,” observed Glaucon, “it is possible to enrich the state at the expense of our enemies.” “Extremely possible indeed,” replied Socrates, “if we be stronger than they; but if we be weaker, we may lose all that we have.” “What you say is true,” said Glaucon. 8. “Accordingly,” said Socrates, “he who deliberates with whom he shall go to war, ought to know the force both of his own country and of the enemy, so that, if that of his own country be superior to that of the enemy, he may advise it to enter upon the war, but, if inferior, may persuade it to be cautious of doing so.” “You say rightly,” said Glaucon. 9. “In the first place, then,” proceeded Socrates, “tell us the strength of the country by land and sea, and next that of the enemy.” “But, by Jupiter,” exclaimed Glaucon, “I should not be able to tell you on the moment, and at a word.” “Well, then, if you have it written down,” said Socrates, “bring it, for I should be extremely glad to hear what it is.” “But to say the truth,” replied Glaucon, “I have not yet written it down.” 10. “We will therefore put off considering about war before everything else,” said Socrates, “for it is very likely that, on account of the magnitude of those subjects, and as you are just commencing your administration, you have not yet examined into them. But to the defence of the country, I am quite sure that you have directed your attention, and that you know how many garrisons are in advantageous positions, and how many not so, what number of men would be sufficient to maintain them, and what number would be insufficient, and that you will advise your countrymen to make the garrisons in advantageous positions stronger, and to remove the useless ones.” 11. “By Jove,” replied Glaucon, “(I shall recommend them to remove) them all, as they keep guard so negligently, that the property is secretly carried off out of the country.” “Yet if we remove the garrisons,” said Socrates, “do you not think that liberty will be given to anybody that pleases to pillage? But,” added he, “have you gone personally, and examined as to this fact, or how do you know that the garrisons conduct themselves with such negligence?” “I form my conjectures,” said he. “Well then,” inquired Socrates, “shall we settle about these matters also, when we no longer rest upon conjecture, but have obtained certain knowledge?” “Perhaps that,” said Glaucon, “will be the better course.” 12. “To the silver mines, however,” continued Socrates, “I know that you have not gone, so as to have the means of telling us why a smaller revenue is derived from them than came in some time ago.” “I have not gone thither,” said he. “Indeed the place,” said Socrates, “is said to be unhealthy, so that, when it is necessary to bring it under consideration, this will be a sufficient excuse for you.” “You jest with me,” said Glaucon. 13. “I am sure, however,” proceeded Socrates, “that you have not neglected to consider, but have calculated, how long the corn, which is produced in the country, will suffice to maintain the city, and how much it requires for the year, in order that the city may not suffer from scarcity unknown to you, but that, from your own knowledge, you may be able, by giving your advice concerning the necessaries of life, to support the city, and preserve it.” “You propose a vast field for me,” observed Glaucon, “if it will be necessary for me to attend to such subjects.” 14. “Nevertheless,” proceeded Socrates, “a man cannot order his house properly, unless he ascertains all that it requires, and takes care to supply it with everything necessary; but since the city consists of more than ten thousand houses, and since it is difficult to provide for so many at once, how is it that you have not tried to aid one first of all, suppose that of your uncle, for it stands in need of help? If you be able to assist that one, you may proceed to assist more; but if you be unable to benefit one, how will you be able to benefit many? Just as it is plain that, if a man cannot carry the weight of a talent, he need not attempt to carry a greater weight.” 15. “But I would improve my uncle’s house,” said Glaucon,” if he would but be persuaded by me.” “And then,” resumed Socrates, “when you cannot persuade your uncle, do you expect to make all the Athenians, together with your uncle, yield to your arguments? 16. Take care, Glaucon, lest, while you are eager to acquire glory, you meet with the reverse of it. Do you not see how dangerous it is for a person to speak of, or undertake, what he does not understand? Contemplate, among other men, such as you know to be characters that plainly talk of, and attempt to do, what they do not know, and consider whether they appear to you, by such conduct, to obtain more applause or censure, whether they seem to be more admired or despised. 17. Contemplate, again, those who have some understanding of what they say and do, and you will find, I think, in all transactions, that such as are praised and admired are of the number of those who have most knowledge, and that those who incur censure and neglect are among those that have least. 18. If therefore you desire to gain esteem and reputation in your country, endeavour to succeed in gaining a knowledge of what you wish to do; for if, when you excel others in this qualification, you proceed to manage the affairs of the state, I shall not wonder if you very easily obtain what you desire.”


Socrates exhorts Charmides, a man of ability, and acquainted with public affairs, to take part in the government, that he may not be charged with indolence, sect. 1–4. As Charmides distrusts his abilities for public speaking, Socrates encourages him by various observations, 5–9.

1. Observing that Charmides, the son of Glaucon, a man of worth, and of far more ability than those who then ruled the state, hesitated to address the people, or to take part in the government of the city, he said to him, “Tell me, Charmides, if any man, who was able to win the crown in the public games, and, by that means, to gain honour for himself, and make his birthplace more celebrated in Greece, should nevertheless refuse to become a combatant, what sort of person would you consider him to be?” “I should certainly think him indolent and wanting in spirit,” replied Charmides. 2. “And if any one were able,” continued Socrates, “by taking part in public affairs, to improve the condition of his country, and thus to attain honour for himself, but should yet shrink from doing so, might not he be justly regarded as wanting in spirit?” “Perhaps so,” said Charmides; “but why do you ask me that question?” “Because,” replied Socrates, “I think that you yourself, though possessed of sufficient ability, yet shrink from engaging even in those affairs in which it is your duty as a citizen to take a share.” 3. “But in what transaction have you discovered my ability,” said Charmides, “that you bring this charge against me?” “In those conferences,” answered Socrates, “in which you meet those who are engaged in the government of the state; for when they consult you on any point, I observe that you give them excellent advice, and that, when they are in any way in the wrong, you offer judicious objections.” 4. “But it is not the same thing, Socrates,” said he, “to converse with people in private, and to try one’s powers at a public assembly.” “Yet,” said Socrates, “he that is able to count, can count with no less exactness before a multitude than alone, and those who can play the harp best in solitude are also the best performers on it in company.” 5. “But do you not see,” said Charmides, “that bashfulness and timidity are naturally inherent in mankind, and affect us far more before a multitude than in private conversations?” “But I am prompted to remind you,” answered Socrates, “that while you neither feel bashfulness before the most intelligent, nor timidity before the most powerful, it is in the presence of the most foolish and weak that you are ashamed to speak. 6. And is it the fullers among them, or the cobblers, or the agricultural labourers, or the carpenters, or the copper-smiths, or the ship-merchants, or those who barter in the market, and meditate what they may buy for little and sell for more, that you are ashamed to address? For it is of all such characters that the assembly is composed. 7. How then do you think that your conduct differs from him, who, being superior to well-practised opponents, should yet fear the unpractised? For is not this the case with you, that though you converse at your ease with those who have attained eminence in state affairs, and of whom some undervalue you, and though you are far superior to many who make it their business to address the people, you yet shrink from uttering your sentiments before men who have never thought of political affairs, and who have shown no disrespect for your talents, from an apprehension that you may be laughed at?” 8. “And do not the people in the assembly,” asked Charmides, “appear to you often to laugh at those who speak with great judgment?” “Yes,” said Socrates, “and so do the other sort of people; and therefore I wonder at you, that you so easily silence one class of persons when they do so, and yet think that you shall not be able to deal with another. 9. Be not ignorant of yourself, my friend, and do not commit the error which the majority of men commit; for most persons, though they are eager to look into the affairs of others, give no thought to the examination of their own. Do not you, then, neglect this duty, but strive more and more to attend to yourself; and do not be regardless of the affairs of your country, if any department of them can be improved by your means; for, if they are in a good condition, not only the rest of your countrymen, but your own friends and yourself, will reap the greatest benefit.”


Socrates meets the captious questions of Aristippus about goodness and beauty in such a manner as to show that nothing is good or bad in itself, but only with reference to some object, sect. 1–3; and that nothing is beautiful or otherwise in itself, but that the beautiful must be considered with regard to the useful, 4–7. His remarks on buildings, to the same effect, 8–10.

1. When Aristippus attempted to confute Socrates, as he himself had previously been confuted by him, Socrates, wishing to benefit those who were with him, gave his answers, not like those who are on their guard lest their words be perverted, but like those who are persuaded that they ought above all things to do what is right. 2. What Aristippus had asked him, was, “whether he knew anything good,” in order that if he should say any such thing as food, or drink, or money, or health, or strength, or courage, he might prove that it was sometimes an evil. But Socrates, reflecting that if anything troubles us, we want something to relieve us from it, replied, as it seemed best to do, “Do you ask me whether I know anything good for a fever?” 3. “I do not.” “Anything good for soreness of the eyes?” “No.” “For hunger?” “No, nor for hunger either.” “Well then,” concluded Socrates, “if you ask me whether I know anything good that is good for nothing, I neither know anything, nor wish to know.”

4. Aristippus again asking him if he knew anything beautiful, he replied, “Many things.” “Are they then,” inquired Aristippus, “all like each other?” “Some of them,” answered Socrates, “are as unlike one another as it is possible for them to be.” “How then,” said he, “can what is beautiful be unlike what is beautiful?” “Because, assuredly,” replied Socrates, “one man, who is beautifully formed for wrestling, is unlike another who is beautifully formed for running; and a shield, which is beautifully formed for defence, is as unlike as possible to a dart, which is beautifully formed for being forcibly and swiftly hurled.” 5. “You answer me,” said Aristippus, “in the same manner as when I asked you whether you knew anything good.” “And do you imagine,” said Socrates, “that the good is one thing, and the beautiful another? Do you not know that with reference to the same objects all things are both beautiful and good? Virtue, for instance, is not good with regard to some things and beautiful with regard to others; and persons, in the same way, are called beautiful and good with reference to the same objects; and human bodies, too, with reference to the same objects, appear beautiful and good; and in like manner all other things, whatever men use, are considered beautiful and good with reference to the objects for which they are serviceable.” 6. “Can a dung-basket, then,” said Aristippus, “be a beautiful thing?” “Yes, by Jupiter,” returned Socrates, “and a golden shield may be an ugly thing, if the one be beautifully formed for its particular uses, and the other ill formed.” 7. “Do you say, then, that the same things may be both beautiful and ugly?” “Yes, undoubtedly, and also that they may be good and bad; for oftentimes what is good for hunger is bad for a fever, and what is good for a fever is bad for hunger; oftentimes what is beautiful in regard to running is the reverse in regard to wrestling, and what is beautiful in regard to wrestling is the reverse in regard to running; for whatever is good is also beautiful, in regard to purposes for which it is well adapted, and whatever is bad is the reverse of beautiful, in regard to purposes for which it is ill adapted.”

8. When Socrates said, too, that the same houses that were beautiful were also useful, he appeared to me to instruct us what sort of houses we ought to build. He reasoned on the subject thus, “Should not he, who purposes to have a house such as it ought to be, contrive that it may be most pleasant, and at the same time most useful, to live in? 9. This being admitted,” he said, “is it not, then, pleasant to have it cool in summer, and warm in winter?” When his hearers had assented to this, he said, “In houses, then, that look to the south, does not the sun, in the winter, shine into the porticoes, while, in the summer, it passes over our heads, and above the roof, and casts a shade? If it is well, therefore, that houses should thus be made, ought we not to build the parts towards the south higher, that the sun in winter may not be shut out, and the parts towards the north lower, that the cold winds may not fall violently on them? 10. To sum up the matter briefly, that would be the most pleasant and the most beautiful residence, in which the owner, at all seasons, would find the most satisfactory retreat, and deposit what belongs to him with the greatest safety.”

Paintings and coloured decorations of the walls deprive us, he thought, of more pleasure than they give.

The most suitable ground for temples and altars, he said, was such as was most open to view, and least trodden by the public; for that it was pleasant for people to pray as they looked on them, and pleasant to approach them in purity.


Various definitions of fortitude, prudence and temperance, madness, envy, idleness, command, happiness, given by Socrates. Fortitude is not equal in all men; it may be increased by exercise, sect. 1–3. Prudence and temperance not distinct from each other, 4. Justice, as well as other virtues, is wisdom, 5. The opposite to prudence is madness; ignorance distinct from madness, 6, 7. Envy is uneasiness of mind at the contemplation of the happiness of others, 8. Idleness is forbearance from useful occupation, 9. Command is exercised not by those who bear the name, merely, of kings and rulers, but by those who know how to command, 10–13. The best object of human life is to act well; the difference between acting well and acting fortunately, 14, 15.

1. Being asked, again, whether Fortitude was a quality acquired by education, or bestowed by nature, “I think,” said he, “that as one body is by nature stronger for enduring toil than another body, so one mind may be by nature more courageous in meeting dangers than another mind; for I see that men who are brought up under the same laws and institutions differ greatly from each other in courage. 2. I am of opinion, however, that every natural disposition may be improved, as to fortitude, by training and exercise; for it is evident that the Scythians and Thracians would not dare to take bucklers and spears and fight with the Lacedæmonians; and it is certain that the Lacedæmonians would not like to fight the Thracians with small shields and javelins, or the Scythians with bows. 3. In other things, also, I see that men differ equally from one another by nature, and make great improvements by practice; from which it is evident that it concerns all, as well the naturally ingenious as the naturally dull, to learn and study those arts in which they desire to become worthy of commendation.”

4. Prudence and Temperance he did not distinguish; for he deemed that he who knew what was honourable and good, and how to practise it, and who knew what was dishonourable, and how to avoid it, was both prudent and temperate. Being also asked whether he thought that those who knew what they ought to do, but did the contrary, were prudent and temperate, he replied, “No more than I think the [openly] imprudent and intemperate to be so; for I consider that all [prudent and temperate] persons choose from what is possible what they judge for their interest, and do it; and I therefore deem those who do not act [thus] judiciously to be neither prudent nor temperate.”

5. He said, too, that justice, and every other virtue, was [a part of] prudence, for that everything just, and everything done agreeably to virtue, was honourable and good; that those who could discern those things, would never prefer anything else to them; that those who could not discern them, would never be able to do them, but would even go wrong if they attempted to do them; and that the prudent, accordingly, did what was honourable and good, but that the imprudent could not do it, but went wrong even if they attempted to do it; and that since, therefore, all just actions, and all actions that are honourable and good, are done in agreement with virtue, it is manifest that justice, and every other virtue, is [comprehended in] prudence.

6. The opposite to prudence, he said, was Madness; he did not, however, regard ignorance as madness; though for a man to be ignorant of himself, and to fancy and believe that he knew what he did not know, he considered to be something closely bordering on madness. The multitude, he observed, do not say that those are mad who make mistakes in matters of which most people are ignorant, but call those only mad who make mistakes in affairs with which most people are acquainted; 7. for if a man should think himself so tall as to stoop when going through the gates in the city wall, or so strong as to try to lift up houses, or attempt anything else that is plainly impossible to all men, they say that he is mad; but those who make mistakes in small matters are not thought by the multitude to be mad; but just as they call “strong desire” “love,” so they call “great disorder of intellect” “madness.”

8. Considering what Envy was, he decided it to be a certain annoyance, not such as arises, however, at the ill success of friends, nor such as is felt at the good success of enemies, but those only, he said, were envious who were annoyed at the good success of their friends. When some expressed surprise, that any one who had a friendly feeling for another should feel annoyed at his good fortune, he reminded them that many are so disposed towards others as to be incapable of neglecting them if they are unfortunate, but would relieve them in ill fortune, though they are annoyed at their good fortune. This feeling, he said, could never arise in the breast of a sensible man, but that the foolish were constantly affected with it.

9. Considering what Idleness was, he said that he found most men did something; for that dice-players and buffoons did something; but he said that all such persons were idle, for it was in their power to go and do something better; he observed that a man was not idle, however, in passing from a better employment to a worse, but that, if he did so, he, as he [previously] had occupation, acted in that respect viciously.

10. Kings and Commanders, he said, were not those who held sceptres merely, or those elected by the multitude, or those who gained authority by lot, or those who attained it by deceit, but those who knew how to command. 11. For when some one admitted that it was the part of a commander to enjoin what another should do, and the part of him who was commanded, to obey, he showed that in a ship the skilful man is the commander, and that the owner and all the other people in the ship were obedient to the man of knowledge; that, in agriculture, those who had farms, in sickness, those who were ill, in bodily exercises, those who practised them, and indeed all other people, who had any business requiring care, personally took the management of it if they thought that they understood it, but if not, that they were not only ready to obey men of knowledge who were present, but even sent for such as were absent, in order that, by yielding to their directions, they might do what was proper. In spinning, too, he pointed out that women commanded men, as the one knew how to spin, and the other did not know. 12. But if any one remarked in reply to these observations, that a tyrant is at liberty not to obey judicious advisers, he would say, “And how is he at liberty not to obey, when a penalty hangs over him that does not obey a wise monitor? for in whatever affair a person does not obey a prudent adviser, he will doubtless err, and, by erring, will incur a penalty.” 13. If any one also observed that a tyrant might put to death a wise counsellor, “And do you think,” he would say, “that he who puts to death the best of his allies goes unpunished, or that he is exposed only to casual punishment? Whether do you suppose that a man who acts thus lives in safety, or, rather, by such conduct brings immediate destruction on himself?”

14. When some one asked him what pursuit he thought best for a man, he replied, “good conduct.” When he asked him again whether he thought “good fortune” a pursuit, he answered, “ ‘Fortune’ and ‘Conduct’ I think entirely opposed; for, for a person to light on anything that he wants without seeking it, I consider to be ‘good fortune,’ but to achieve anything successfully by learning and study, I regard as ‘good conduct;’ and those who make this the object of their pursuit appear to me to do well.”

15. The best men, and those most beloved by the gods, he observed, were those who, in agriculture, performed their agricultural duties well, those who, in medicine, performed their medical duties well, and those who, in political offices, performed their public duties well; but he who did nothing well, he said, was neither useful for any purpose, nor acceptable to the gods.


Socrates was desirous to benefit artisans by discoursing with them on the principles of their several arts. Of painting, sect. 1. Of representing perfect beauty, 2. Of expressing the affections of the mind, 3–5. Of statuary, 6–8. In what the excellence of a corslet consists, 9–14.

1. Whenever he conversed with any of those who were engaged in arts or trades, and who wrought at them for gain, he proved of service to them. Visiting Parrhasius the painter one day, and entering into conversation with him, he said, “Pray, Parrhasius, is not painting the representation of visible objects! At least you represent substances, imitating them by means of colour, hollow and high, dark and light, hard and soft, rough and smooth, fresh and old.” “What you say is true,” said Parrhasius. 2. “And when you would represent beautiful figures, do you, since it is not easy to find one person with every part perfect, select, out of many, the most beautiful parts of each, and thus represent figures beautiful in every part?” “We do so,” said he. 3. “And do you also,” said Socrates, “give imitations of the disposition of the mind, as it may be most persuasive, most agreeable, most friendly, most full of regret, or most amiable? Or is this inimitable?” “How can that be imitated, Socrates,” said he, “which has neither proportion, nor colour, nor any of the qualities which you just now mentioned, and is not even a visible object?” 4. “Is it not often observable in a man that he regards others with a friendly or unfriendly look?” “I think so,” said he. “Is this then possible to be copied in the eyes?” “Assuredly.” “And at the good or ill fortune of people’s friends, do those who are affected at it, and those who are not, appear to you to have the same sort of look?” “No, indeed; for they look cheerful at their good, and sad at their evil, fortune.” “Is it possible, then, to imitate these looks?” “Unquestionably.” 5. “Surely, also, nobleness and generosity of disposition, meanness and illiberality, modesty and intelligence, insolence and stupidity, show themselves both in the looks and gestures of men, whether they stand or move.” “What you say is just.” “Can these peculiarities be imitated?” “Certainly.” “Whether, then,” said Socrates, “do you think that people look with more pleasure on paintings in which beautiful, and good, and lovely characters are exhibited, or those in which the deformed, and evil, and detestable are represented?” “There is a very great difference indeed, Socrates,” replied Parrhasius.

6. Going once, too, into the workshop of Cleito, the statuary, and beginning to converse with him, he said, “I see and understand, Cleito, that you make figures of various kinds, runners and wrestlers, pugilists and pancratiasts, but how do you put into your statues that which most attracts the beholders through the eye, the lifelike appearance?” 7. As Cleito hesitated, and did not immediately answer, Socrates proceeded to ask, “Do you make your statues appear more lifelike by assimilating your work to the figures of the living?” “Certainly,” said he. “Do you not then make your figures appear more like reality, and more striking, by imitating the parts of the body, that are drawn up or drawn down, compressed or spread out, stretched or relaxed, by the gesture?” “Undoubtedly,” said Cleito. “And the representation of the passions of men engaged in any act, does it not excite a certain pleasure in the spectators?” “It is natural, at least, that it should be so,” said he. “Must you not, then, copy the menacing looks of combatants? And must you not imitate the countenance of conquerors, as they look joyful?” “Assuredly,” said he. “A statuary, therefore,” concluded Socrates; “must express the workings of the mind by the form.”

9. Entering the shop of Pistias, a corslet-maker, and Pistias having shown him some well-made corslets, Socrates observed, “By Juno, Pistias, this is an excellent invention, that the corslet should cover those parts of a man’s body that need protection, and yet should not hinder him from using his hands. 10. But tell me, Pistias,” he added, “why do you sell your corslets at a higher price than other makers, though you neither make them stronger nor of more costly materials?” “Because, Socrates,” said he, “I make them better proportioned.” “And do you make this proportion appear in the measure or weight of your corslets, that you set a higher price on them? For I suppose that you do not make them all equal or similar, if you make them to fit (different persons).” “Indeed,” replied he, “I do make them to fit, for there would be no use in a corslet without that quality.” 11. “Are not then,” said Socrates, “the bodies of some men well-proportioned, and those of others ill-proportioned?” “Certainly,” said Pistias. “How, then,” asked Socrates, “do you make a well-proportioned corslet fit an ill-proportioned body?” “As I make it fit,” answered Pistias; “for one that fits is well-proportioned.” 12. “You seem to me,” said Socrates, “to speak of proportion considered not independently, but with respect to the wearer, as if you should say of a shield, or a cloak, that it is well-proportioned to him whom it suits; and such appears to be the case with regard to other things, according to what you say. 13. But, perhaps, there may be some other considerable advantage in making to fit.” “Tell me, Socrates,” said he, “if you know any.” “Those corslets which fit,” answered Socrates, “are less oppressive by their weight than those which do not fit, though they be both of equal weight; while those which do not fit are, either from hanging wholly on the shoulders, or from pressing heavily on some other part of the body, inconvenient and uneasy; but those which fit, as they have their weight distributed (so as to be borne) partly by the collar-bone and shoulder, partly by the upper part of the arm, and partly by the breast, back, and stomach, appear almost like, not a burden to be borne; but a natural appendage.” 14. “You have hit upon the very quality,” said Pistias, “for which I consider my manufacture deserving of the very highest price; some, however, prefer purchasing ornamented and gilded corslets.” “Yet if on this account,” said Socrates, “they purchase such as do not fit, they appear to me to purchase an ornamented and gilded annoyance. But,” added he, “since the body does not continue always in the same position, but is at one time bent, and at another straight, how can a corslet, which is exactly fitted to it, suit it?” “It cannot by any means,” said Pistias. “You mean, therefore,” said Socrates, “that it is not those which are exactly fitted to the body that suit, but those that do not gall in the wearing.” “I say what is clearly the case, Socrates,” replied he, “and now you exactly comprehend the matter.”


The visit of Socrates to Theodota, and his discourse with her, sect. 1–9. He tells her that true friends are not acquired without the manifestation of kind and good feelings, 9–12. He reminds her that in gratifying the appetites we must guard against satiety, 13, 14. His jests on taking leave of her, 15–18.

1. There being at one time a beautiful woman in the city, whose name was Theodota, a woman ready to form a connection with any one that made advances to her, and somebody in company with Socrates making mention of her, and saying that the beauty of this woman was beyond description, and that painters went to her to take her portrait, to whom she showed as much of her person as she could with propriety. “We ought then to go and see her,” remarked Socrates, “for it is not possible to comprehend by hearing that which surpasses description.” “Will you not be quick and follow me, then,” said he who had mentioned her.

2. Going, accordingly, to the house of Theodota, and finding her standing to a painter, they contemplated her figure; and when the painter had left off, Socrates said, “My friends, whether ought we to feel obliged to Theodota for having shown us her beauty, or she to us for having viewed it with admiration? If the exhibition be rather of advantage to her, ought not she to feel grateful to us, or if the sight has given rather more pleasure to us, ought not we to feel grateful to her?” 3. Somebody saying that he spoke reasonably, he added, “She, then, for the present, gains praise from us, and, when we have spoken of her to others, will gain profit in addition; but as for us, we now desire to embrace what we have seen, and shall go away excited, and long for her after we are away from her; the natural consequence of which is that we shall be her adorers, and that she will be worshipped as our mistress.” “If this be the case, indeed,” said Theodota, “I must feel gratitude to you for coming to see me.”

4. Soon after, Socrates, seeing her most expensively attired, and her mother with her in a dress and adornment above the common, with several handsome female attendants, not unbecomingly apparelled, and her house richly furnished in other respects, said to her, “Tell me, Theodota, have you an estate?” “Not I, indeed,” replied she. “But perhaps you have a house that brings you an income?” “Nor a house either,” said she. “Have you then any slaves that practise handicrafts?” “No, nor any slaves.” “How then,” said Socrates, “do you procure subsistence?” “If any one becomes my friend,” she replied, “and is willing to benefit me, he is my means of subsistence.” 5. “By Juno, Theodota,” rejoined Socrates, “and he is an excellent acquisition to you; and it is much better to have a flock of friends than of sheep, oxen, and goats. But,” added he, “do you leave it to chance whether a friend, like a fly, shall wing his way to you, or do you use any contrivance (to attract them)?” 6. “And how,” said she, “can I find a contrivance for such a purpose?” “Much more readily,” said he, “than spiders can; for you know how they try to get subsistence; they weave fine nets, and feed upon whatever falls into them.” 7. “And do you advise me, too,” said she, “to weave a net?” “Yes,” said he, “for you ought not to think that you will catch friends, the most valuable prey that can be taken, without art. Do you not see how many arts hunters use to catch hares, an animal of but little worth? 8. As the hares feed in the night, they procure dogs for hunting by night, with which they chase them; as they conceal themselves in the day, they provide other dogs, which, perceiving by the smell the way that they have gone from their feeding-place to their forms, trace them out; and as they are swift of foot, so as soon to escape from view by running, they procure also other dogs, of great speed, that they may be caught by pursuit; and because some of them escape even from these dogs, they stretch nets across the path by which they flee, that they may fall into them and be entangled.” 9. “By what art of this kind, then,” said she, “can I catch friends?” “If,” said he, “instead of a dog, you get somebody to track and discover the lovers of beauty, and the wealthy, and who, when he has found them, will contrive to drive them into your nets.” “And what nets have I?” said she. 10. “You have one at least,” he replied, “and one that closely embraces its prey, your person; and in it you have a mind, by which you understand how you may gratify a person by looking at him, and what you may say to cheer him, and learn that you ought to receive with transport him who shows concern for you, and to shut out him who is insolent, to attend carefully on a friend when he is ill, to rejoice greatly with him when he has succeeded in anything honourable, and to cherish affection in your whole soul for the man who sincerely cares for you. To love I am sure that you know, not only tenderly, but with true kindness of heart; and your friends try to please you, I know, because you conciliate them, not with words merely, but by your behaviour towards them.” “Indeed,” replied Theodota, “I use none of these schemes.” 11. “Yet,” said Socrates, “it is of great importance to deal with a man according to his disposition, and with judgment; for by force you can neither gain nor keep a friend, but by serving and pleasing him the animal is easily taken and attached to you.” “What you say is true,” said she.

12. “It becomes you, therefore,” proceeded Socrates, “in the first place, to request of your lovers only such favours as they will perform with least cost to themselves; and you must then make a return by obliging them in a similar way; for thus they will become most sincerely attached to you, and will love you longest, and benefit you most. 13. But you will please them most, if you grant them favours only when they solicit them; for you see that even the most savoury meats, if a person offer them to another before he has an appetite for them, appear to him distasteful; and in the satisfied they excite even loathing; but if one offers food to another after having raised an appetite in him, it seems, though it be of a very ordinary kind, extremely agreeable.” 14. “How then can I,” said she, “excite such an appetite in any one of those that visit me?” “If when they are satiated,” said he, “you, in the first place, neither offer yourself to them, nor remind them of you, until, coming to an end of their satiety, they again feel a desire for you; and, when they do feel such desire, remind them (of your fondness) by the most modest address, and by showing yourself willing to gratify them, holding back, at the same time, until they are filled with impatient longing; for it is far better to grant the same favours at such a time, than before they had an appetite for them.” 15. “Why do not you, then, Socrates,” said she, “become my helper in securing friends?” “I will indeed,” said he, “if you can persuade me.” “And how then,” said she, “can I persuade you?” “You yourself will seek and find means to do so, if you should at all need me.” “Come often to see me, then,” said she. 16. Then Socrates, joking upon her easy life, said, “But, Theodota, it is not easy for me to find leisure; for my own numerous occupations, private and public, allow me no rest; and I have female friends also, who will not suffer me to leave them day or night, learning from me love-charms and incantations.” 17. “Do you then know such arts, too, Socrates?” said Theodota. “Through what other influence do you suppose that Apollodorus here, and Antisthenes, never leave me? and through what other influence do you suppose that Cebes and Simmias come to me from Thebes? Be assured, that such effects were not produced without many love-charms, incantations, and magic wheels.” 18. “Lend me, then, your magic wheel,” said she, “that I may set it a-going, first of all, against yourself.” “But, by Jupiter,” exclaimed Socrates, “I do not wish that I should be drawn to you, but that you should come to me.” “I will come then,” said she, “only take care to let me in.” “I will let you in,” replied he, “if another more acceptable than you be not within.”


Socrates shows the benefit of gymnastic exercises, as well on the health of the mind as on that of the body, sect. 1–4. The advantages of health and vigour, 5–8.

1. Noticing that Epigenes, one of his followers, was both very young and weak in body, he said to him, “How very unlike an athlete you are in frame, Epigenes!” “I am not an athlete, Socrates,” replied he. “You are not less of an athlete,” rejoined Socrates, “than those who are going to contend at the Olympic games. Does the struggle for life with the enemy, which the Athenians will demand of you when circumstances require, seem to you to be a trifling contest? 2. Yet, in the dangers of war, not a few, through weakness of body, either lose their lives, or save them with dishonour; many, from the same cause, are taken alive, and, as prisoners of war, endure for the rest of their lives, if such should be their fate, the bitterest slavery; or, falling into the most grievous hardships, and paying for their ransom sometimes more than they possess, pass the remainder of their existence in want of necessaries, and in the endurance of affliction; and many, too, incur infamy, being thought to be cowards merely from the imbecility of their bodily frame. 3. Do you think lightly of such penalties attached to weakness of body, or do you expect that you will endure such calamities with ease? I believe that what he must bear who attends to the health of his body, is far lighter and more pleasant than such afflictions. Or do you suppose that an ill condition of body is more salutary and advantageous than a good condition? Or do you despise the benefits secured by a good state of the body? 4. Yet the lot which falls to those who have their bodies in good condition is exactly the reverse of that which falls to those who have them in ill condition; for those who have their bodies in a good state are healthy and strong; and many, from being possessed of this advantage, save themselves with honour amid the struggles of war, and escape every peril; many, also, assist their friends and benefit their country, and, for such services, are thought worthy of favour, acquire great glory, and attain the highest dignities; and, on these accounts, pass the rest of their lives with greater pleasure and honour, and bequeath finer fortunes to their children. 5. Nor, because the city does not require warlike exercises publicly, ought we, on that account, to neglect them privately, but rather to practise them the more; for be well assured that neither in any other contest, nor in any affair whatever, will you at all come off the worse because your body is better trained (than that of other men); since the body must bear its part in whatever men do; and in all the services required from the body, it is of the utmost importance to have it in the best possible condition; 6. for even in that in which you think that there is least exercise for the body, namely, thinking, who does not know that many fail greatly from ill-health? and loss of memory, despondency, irritability, and madness, often, from ill-health of body, attack the mind with such force as to drive out all previous knowledge. 7. But to those who have their bodies in good condition, there is great assurance from danger, and no danger of suffering any such calamity from weakness of constitution; whilst it is likely, rather, that a healthy state of body will avail to produce consequences the reverse of those which result from an unhealthy state of it; and, indeed, to secure consequences the reverse of what we have stated, what would a man in his senses not undergo? 8. It is disgraceful, too, for a person to grow old in self-neglect, before he knows what he would become by rendering himself well-formed and vigorous in body; but this a man who neglects himself cannot know; for such advantages are not wont to come spontaneously.”


Several brief sayings of Socrates. We should not be offended at rudeness of manner more than at personal defects, sect. 1. Fasting the best remedy for loathing of food, 2. We should not be too nice as to food or drink, 3. He that punishes his slave, should consider whether he himself deserves like punishment, 4. Admonitions to travellers, 5. It is disgraceful to him who has been trained in the gymnasium to be outdone by a slave in enduring toil, 6.

1. A person being angry, because, on saluting another, he was not saluted in return, “It is an odd thing,” said Socrates to him, “that if you had met a man ill-conditioned in body, you would not have been angry, but to have met a man rudely disposed in mind provokes you.”

2. Another person saying that he ate without pleasure, “Acumenus,” said Socrates, “prescribes an excellent remedy for that disease.” The other asking, “What sort of remedy?” “To abstain from eating,” said Socrates; “for he says that, after abstaining, you will live with more pleasure, less expense, and better health.”

3. Another saying that the water which he had to drink at his house was warm, “When you wish to bathe in warm water, then,” said Socrates, “it will be ready for you.” “But it is (too) cold to bathe in,” said the other. “Are your slaves, then,” asked Socrates, “inconvenienced by drinking or bathing in it?” “No, by Jupiter,” replied he; “for I have often wondered how cheerfully they use it for both those purposes.” “And is the water in your house,” said Socrates, “or that in the temple of Æsculapius, the warmer for drinking?” “That at the temple of Æsculapius,” replied he. “And which is the colder for bathing in, that at your house, or that in the temple of Amphiaraus?” “That in the temple of Amphiaraus,” said he. “Consider, then,” said Socrates, “that you run the risk of being harder to please than your slaves or the sick.”

4. Another person beating his attendant severely, Socrates asked him why he was so angry at the slave. “Because,” said he, “he is very gluttonous and very stupid, very covetous and very idle.” “And have you ever reflected,” rejoined Socrates, “which of the two deserves the greater number of stripes, you or your slave?”

5. A person being afraid of the journey to Olympia, “Why,” said Socrates to him, “do you fear the journey? Do you not walk about at home almost all day? And, if you set out thither, you will walk and dine, walk and sup, and go to rest. Do you not know that if you were to extend (in a straight line) the walks which you take in five or six days, you would easily go from Athens to Olympia? But it will be better for you to start a day too soon than a day too late; for to be obliged to extend your days’ journeys beyond a moderate length is disagreeable; but to spend one day more on the road gives great ease; and it is better, therefore, to hasten to start than to hurry on the way.”

6. Another saying that he was utterly wearied with a long journey, Socrates asked him whether he carried any burden. “No, by Jupiter,” said he, “I did not, except my cloak.” “And did you travel alone,” said Socrates, “or did an attendant accompany you?” “An attendant was with me.” “Was he empty-handed, or did he carry anything?” “He carried, certainly, the bedding and other utensils.” “And how did he get over the journey?” “He appeared to me to come off better than myself.” “If you, then, had been obliged to carry his burden, how do you imagine that you would have fared?” “Very ill, by Jupiter; or rather, I should not have been able to carry it at all.” “And how can you think that it becomes a man trained to exercise to be so much less able to bear fatigue than a slave?”


Table-talk of Socrates in praise of frugality. In contributions to feasts, one guest should not strive to surpass another in the quality or quantity of what he contributes, sect. 1. He may be called ὀψοφάγος, flesh-eater, who eats flesh alone, or with very little bread, 2–4. He that eats of many dishes at once acts foolishly in various ways, 5, 6. He may be truly said εὐωχεῖσθαι, to banquet, who lives on plain and wholesome food, 7.

1. When, among a number of persons who had met together to sup, some brought little meat, and others a great quantity, Socrates desired the attendant either to set the smallest dish on the table for common participation, or to distribute a portion of it to each. They, accordingly, who had brought a great deal were ashamed not to partake of what was put on table for the company in general, and not, at the same time, to put their own on table in return. They therefore offered their own dishes for the participation of the company; and when they had no greater share than those who brought but little, they ceased to buy meat at great cost.

2. Observing one of those at table with him taking no bread, but eating meat by itself, and a discussion having arisen at the same time about names, for what cause any particular name was given, “Can we tell,” said Socrates, “for what cause a man should be called ὀψοφάγο? For everybody eats flesh with his bread when he has it; but I do not suppose that people are called ὀψοφάγοι on that account.” “I should think not,” said one of the company. 3. “But,” said Socrates, “if a person should eat meat by itself without bread, not for the purpose of training, but of gratifying his appetite, whether would he seem to be an ὀψοφάγος or not?” “Scarcely any other would more justly seem so,” said he. “And he that eats a great deal of meat with very little bread,” said another of the company, “what should he be called?” “To me,” replied Socrates, “it appears that he would justly be called ὀψοφάγος, and when other men pray to the gods for abundance of corn, he may pray for abundance of flesh.” 4. When Socrates said this, the young man, thinking that the words were directed at him, did not indeed leave off eating meat, but took some bread with it. Socrates, observing him do so, said, “Notice this young man, you that sit near him, whether he takes bread to his meat, or meat to his bread.”

5. Seeing another of the company taste of several dishes with the same piece of bread, “Can any cookery be more extravagant,” said he, “or more adapted to spoil dishes, than that which he practises who eats of several at the same time, putting all manner of sauces into his mouth at once? For as he mixes together more ingredients than the cooks, he makes what he eats more expensive; and as he mixes what they forbear to mix as being incongruous, he, if they do right, is in the wrong, and renders their art ineffectual. 6. And how can it be otherwise than ridiculous,” he added, for a man to provide himself with cooks of the greatest skill, and then, though he pretends to no knowledge of their art, to undo what has been done by them? But another thing happens to him who is accustomed to eat of several dishes at once; for, if he has not several sorts of meat before him, he thinks himself stinted, missing what he has been used to. But he who is accustomed to make one piece of bread, and one piece of meat, go together, will be able to partake contentedly of one dish when several are just at hand.”

7. He observed also that εὐωχεῖσθαι, “to fare well,” was in the language of the Athenians called ἐσθίειν “to eat;” and that the εὖ, “well,” was added to denote that we should eat such food as would disorder neither mind nor body, and such as would not be difficult to be procured; so that he applied εὐωχεῖσθαι, “to fare well,” to those who fared temperately.



Socrates liked the society of young men; how he judged of them; his desire that they should be well educated, sect. 1, 2. The more powerful the mind in youth, the more likely it is, if ill trained, to run into vice, 3, 4. Happiness does not depend on riches, but on knowledge, and on being useful to our fellow-creatures, and gaining their esteem, 5.

1. So serviceable was Socrates to others, in every kind of transaction, and by every possible means, that to any one who reflects on his usefulness (even though he possess but moderate discernment), it is manifest that nothing was of greater benefit than to associate with Socrates, and to converse with him, on any occasion, or on any subject whatever; since even the remembrance of him, when he is no longer with us, benefits in no small degree those who were accustomed to enjoy his society, and accepted him (as a Teacher); for he sought to improve his associates not less in his humorous than in his serious conversation. 2. He would often say that he loved some particular person; but he was evidently enamoured, not of those formed by nature to be beautiful, but of those naturally inclined to virtue. He judged of the goodness of people’s abilities from their quickness in learning the things to which they gave their attention, from their remembrance of what they learned, and from their desire for all those branches of knowledge by means of which it is possible to manage a family, state, and the universe well, and to govern men and their affairs with success; for he thought that such characters, when instructed, would not only be happy themselves, and regulate their own families judiciously, but would be able to render other men, and other communities (besides their own) happy. 3. He did not however make advances to all in the same manner. Those who thought that they had good natural abilities, but despised instruction, he endeavoured to convince that minds which show most natural power have most need of education, pointing out to them that horses of the best breed, which are high-spirited and obstinate, become, if they are broken in when young, most useful and valuable, but if they are left unbroken, remain quite unmanageable and worthless; and that when hounds are of the best blood, able to endure toil, and eager to attack beasts, those well trained are most serviceable for the chase, and every way excellent, but, if untrained, are useless, rabid, and disobedient. 4. In like manner, he showed that men of the best natural endowments, possessed of the greatest strength of mind, and most energetic in executing what they undertake, became, if well disciplined and instructed in what they ought to do, most estimable characters, and most beneficent to society (as they then performed most numerous and important services), but that, if uninstructed, and left in ignorance, they proved utterly worthless and mischievous; for that, not knowing what line of conduct they ought to pursue, they often entered upon evil courses, and, being haughty and impetuous, were difficult to be restrained or turned from their purpose, and thus occasioned very many and great evils.

5. But those who prided themselves on their wealth, and thought that they required no education, but imagined that their riches would suffice to effect whatsoever they desired, and to gain them honour from mankind, he tried to reduce to reason by saying that the man was a fool who thought that he could distinguish the good and the evil in life without instruction; and that he also was a fool, who, though he could not distinguish them, thought that he would procure whatever he wished, and effect whatever was for his interest, by means of his wealth. He also said that the man was void of sense, who, not being qualified to pursue what was for his good, fancied that he would be prosperous in the world, and that everything necessary for his comfort was fully, or at least sufficiently, provided for him; and that he was equally void of sense, who, though he knew nothing, thought that he would seem good for something because of his riches, and, though evidently despicable, would gain esteem (through their influence).


No dependence to be placed on natural abilities without education. Socrates proceeds to show Euthydemus, a self-conceited young man, that in every art it is proper to have recourse to instructors, sect. 1, 2. He shows the folly of a man who should pretend to have learned everything of himself, 3–5. The necessity of instruction in the art of government, 6–7. By a long series of interrogations Socrates reduces Euthydemus to acknowledge his ignorance and incompetence, 8–23. The value of self-knowledge, 24–30. Further instructions given to Euthydemus, 30–40.

1. I will now show how Socrates addressed himself to such as thought that they had attained the highest degree of knowledge, and prided themselves on their ability. Hearing that Euthydemus, surnamed the Handsome, had collected many writings of the most celebrated poets and sophists, and imagined that by that means he was outstripping his contemporaries in accomplishments, and had great hopes that he would excel them all in talent for speaking and acting, and finding, by his first inquiries about him, that he had not yet engaged in public affairs on account of his youth, but that, when he wished to do any business, he usually sat in a bridle-maker’s shop near the Forum, he went himself to it, accompanied by some of his hearers; 2. and as somebody asked, first of all, “whether it was from his intercourse with some of the wise men, or from his own natural talents, that Themistocles attained such a pre-eminence above his fellow-citizens, that the republic looked to him whenever it wanted the service of a man of ability,” Socrates, wishing to excite the attention of Euthydemus, said that “it was absurd to believe that men of ability could not master the lowest mechanical arts without competent instructors, and to imagine that ability to govern a state, the most important of all arts, might spring up in men by the unassisted efforts of nature.”

3. On another occasion, when Euthydemus was one of the company, and Socrates saw him leaving the meeting, from apprehension lest he should seem to admire him for his wisdom, he observed, “It is evident, my friends, from the studies that he pursues, that Euthydemus here, when he comes of age, and the government give liberty of discussion on any point, will not refrain from offering his counsel; and I imagine that he has already framed an exordium for his public oration, taking precaution that he may not be thought to have learned anything from anybody; and it is pretty certain, therefore, that when he begins to speak, he will make his opening thus: 4. ‘I, O men of Athens, have never learned anything from any person, nor, though I heard of some that were skilled in speaking and acting, have I sought to converse with them; nor have I been anxious that any one of the learned should become my master; but I have done the exact contrary; for I have constantly avoided not only learning anything from any one, but even the appearance of learning anything; nevertheless I will offer you such advice as may occur to me without premeditation.’ 5. So it might be proper for those to commence a speech who desired to obtain a medical appointment from the government; indeed it would be necessary for them to commence their speech in this way: ‘I, O men of Athens, have never learned the medical art from any one, nor have been desirous that any physician should be my instructor; for I have constantly been on my guard, not only against learning anything of the art from any one, but even against appearing to have learned the medical art; nevertheless confer on me this medical appointment; for I will endeavour to learn by making experiments upon you.’ ” At this mode of opening a speech all who were present burst out into laughter.

6. As Euthydemus had now evidently begun to attend to what Socrates was saying, but was cautious of speaking himself, as thinking by his silence to clothe himself with reputation for modesty, Socrates, wishing to cure him of that fancy, said, “It is indeed strange, that those who desire to play on the lyre, or on the flute, or to ride, or to become expert in any such accomplishment, should endeavour to practise, as constantly as possible, that in which they desire to excel, and not by themselves merely, but with the aid of such as are considered eminent in those attainments, attempting and undergoing everything, so as to do nothing without their sanction, as supposing that they can by no other means attain reputation; but that of those who wish to become able to speak and act in affairs of government, some think that they will be suddenly qualified to achieve their object, without preparation or study, and by their own unassisted efforts. 7. Yet these pursuits are manifestly more difficult of attainment than those, inasmuch as of the very many who attempt them a much smaller number succeed in them; and it is evident, therefore, that those who pursue the one are required to submit to longer and more diligent study than those who pursue the other.”

8. Socrates used at first to make such remarks, while Euthydemus merely listened; but when he observed that he stayed, while he conversed, with more willingness, and hearkened to him with more attention, he at last came to the bridle-maker’s shop unattended. As Euthydemus sat down beside him, he said, “Tell me, Euthydemus, have you really, as I hear, collected many of the writings of men who are said to have been wise?” “I have indeed, Socrates,” replied he, “and I am still collecting, intending to persevere till I get as many as I possibly can.” 9. “By Juno,” rejoined Socrates, “I feel admiration for you, because you have not preferred acquiring treasures of silver and gold rather than of wisdom; for it is plain you consider that silver and gold are unable to make men better, but that the thoughts of wise men enrich their possessors with virtue.” Euthydemus was delighted to hear this commendation, believing that he was thought by Socrates to have sought wisdom in the right course. 10. Socrates, observing that he was gratified with the praise, said, “And in what particular art do you wish to become skilful, that you collect these writings?” As Euthydemus continued silent, considering what reply he should make, Socrates again asked, “Do you wish to become a physician? for there are many writings of physicians.” “Not I, by Jupiter,” replied Euthydemus. “Do you wish to become an architect, then? for a man of knowledge is needed for that art also.” “No, indeed,” answered he. “Do you wish to become a good geometrician, like Theodorus?” “Nor a geometrician either,” said he. “Do you wish then to become an astronomer?” said Socrates. As Euthydemus said “No,” to this, “Do you wish then,” added Socrates, “to become a rhapsodist? for they say that you are in possession of all the poems of Homer.” “No indeed,” said he, “for I know that the rhapsodists, though accurate in the knowledge of poems, are, as men, extremely foolish.” 11. “You are perhaps desirous then,” proceeded Socrates, “of attaining that talent by which men become skilled in governing states, in managing households, able to command, and qualified to benefit other men as well as themselves?” “I indeed greatly desire,” said he, “Socrates, to acquire that talent.” “By Jupiter,” returned Socrates, “you aspire to a most honourable accomplishment, and a most exalted art, for it is the art of kings, and is called the royal art. But,” added he, “have you ever considered whether it is possible for a man who is not just to be eminent in that art?” “I have certainly,” replied he; “and it is not possible for a man to be even a good citizen without justice.” 12. “Have you yourself, then, made yourself master of that virtue?” “I think,” said he, “Socrates, that I shall be found not less just than any other man.” “Are there then works of just men, as there are works of artisans?” “There are, doubtless,” replied he. “Then,” said Socrates, “as artisans are able to show their works, would not just men be able also to tell their works?” “And why should not I,” asked Euthydemus, “be able to tell the works of justice; as also indeed those of injustice; for we may see and hear of no small number of them every day?”

13. “Are you willing then,” said Socrates, “that we should make a delta on this side, and an alpha on that, and then that we should put whatever seems to us to be a work of justice under the delta, and whatever seems to be a work of injustice under the alpha?” “If you think that we need those letters,” said Euthydemus, “make them.” 14. Socrates, having made the letters as he proposed, asked, “Does falsehood then exist among mankind?” “It does assuredly,” replied he. “Under which head shall we place it?” “Under injustice, certainly.” “Does deceit also exist?” “Unquestionably.” “Under which head shall we place that?” “Evidently under injustice.” “Does mischievousness exist?” “Undoubtedly.” “And the enslaving of men?” “That, too, prevails.” “And shall neither of these things be placed by us under justice, Euthydemus?” “It would be strange if they should be,” said he. 15. “But,” said Socrates, “if a man, being chosen to lead an army, should reduce to slavery an unjust and hostile people, should we say that he committed injustice?” “No, certainly,” replied he. “Should we not rather say that he acted justly?” “Indisputably.” “And if, in the course of the war with them, he should practise deceit?” “That also would be just,” said he. “And if he should steal and carry off their property, would he not do what was just?” “Certainly,” said Euthydemus; “but I thought at first that you asked these questions only with reference to our friends.” “Then,” said Socrates, “all that we have placed under the head of injustice, we must also place under that of justice.” “It seems so,” replied Euthydemus. 16. “Do you agree, then,” continued Socrates, “that, having so placed them, we should make a new distinction, that it is just to do such things with regard to enemies, but unjust to do them with regard to friends, and that towards his friends our general should be as guileless as possible?” “By all means,” replied Euthydemus. 17. “Well, then,” said Socrates, “if a general, seeing his army dispirited, should tell them, inventing a falsehood, that auxiliaries were coming, and should, by that invention, check the despondency of his troops, under which head should we place such an act of deceit?” “It appears to me,” said Euthydemus, “that we must place it under justice.” “And if a father, when his son requires medicine, and refuses to take it, should deceive him, and give him the medicine as ordinary food, and, by adopting such deception, should restore him to health, under which head must we place such an act of deceit?” “It appears to me that we must put it under the same head.” “And if a person, when his friend was in despondency, should, through fear that he might kill himself, steal or take away his sword, or any other weapon, under which head must we place that act?” “That, assuredly, we must place under justice.” 18. “You say, then,” said Socrates, “that not even towards our friends must we act on all occasions without deceit?” “We must not indeed,” said he, “for I retract what I said before, if I may be permitted to do so.” “It is indeed much better that you should be permitted,” said Socrates, “than that you should not place actions on the right side. 19. But of those who deceive their friends in order to injure them (that we may not leave even this point unconsidered), which of the two is the more unjust, he who does so intentionally or he who does so involuntarily?” “Indeed, Socrates,” said Euthydemus, “I no longer put confidence in the answers which I give; for all that I said before appears to me now to be quite different from what I then thought; however, let me venture to say that he who deceives intentionally is more unjust than he who deceives involuntarily.”

20. “Does it appear to you, then, that there is a way of learning and knowing what is just, as there is of learning and knowing letters?” “I think there is.” “And which should you consider the better scholar, him who should purposely write or read incorrectly, or him who should do so unawares?” “Him who should do so purposely, for, whenever he pleased, he would be able to do both correctly.” “He, therefore, that purposely writes incorrectly may be a good scholar, but he who does so involuntarily is destitute of scholarship?” “How can it be otherwise?” “And whether does he who lies and deceives intentionally know what is just, or he who does so unawares?” “Doubtless he who does so intentionally.” “You therefore say that he who knows letters is a better scholar than he who does not know?” “Yes.” “And that he who knows what is just is more just than he who does not know?” “I seem to say so; but I appear to myself to say this I know not how.” 21. “But what would you think of the man, who, wishing to tell the truth, should never give the same account of the same thing, but, in speaking of the same road, should say at one time that it led towards the east, and at another towards the west, and, in stating the result of the same calculation, should sometimes assert it to be greater and sometimes less, what, I say, would you think of such a man?” “It would be quite clear that he knew nothing of what he thought he knew.”

22. “Do you know any persons called slave-like?” “I do.” “Whether for their knowledge or their ignorance?” “For their ignorance, certainly.” “Is it then for their ignorance of working in brass that they receive this appellation?” “Not at all.” “Is it for their ignorance of the art of building?” “Nor for that.” “Or for their ignorance of shoe-making?” “Not on any one of these accounts; for the contrary is the case, as most of those who know such trades are servile.” “Is this, then, an appellation of those who are ignorant of what is honourable, and good, and just?” “It appears so to me.” 23. “It therefore becomes us to exert ourselves in every way to avoid being like slaves.” “But, by the gods, Socrates,” rejoined Euthydemus, “I firmly believed that I was studying philosophy, by which I should, as I expected, be made fully acquainted with all that was proper to be known by a man striving after honour and virtue; but now, how dispirited must you think I feel, when I see that, with all my previous labour, I am not even able to answer a question about what I ought most of all to know, and am acquainted with no other course which I may pursue to become better!”

24. Socrates then said, “Tell me, Euthydemus, have you ever gone to Delphi?” “Yes, twice,” replied he. “And did you observe what is written somewhere on the temple wall, Know thyself?” “I did.” “And did you take no thought of that inscription, or did you attend to it, and try to examine yourself, to ascertain what sort of character you are?” “I did not indeed try, for I thought that I knew very well already, since I should hardly know anything else if I did not know myself.” 25. “But whether does he seem to you to know himself, who knows his own name merely, or he who (like people buying horses, who do not think that they know the horse that they want to know, until they have ascertained whether he is tractable or unruly, whether he is strong or weak, swift or slow, and how he is as to other points which are serviceable or disadvantageous in the use of a horse, so he), having ascertained with regard to himself how he is adapted for the service of mankind, knows his own abilities?” “It appears to me, I must confess, that he who does not know his own abilities, does not know himself.” 26. “But is it not evident,” said Socrates, “that men enjoy a great number of blessings in consequence of knowing themselves, and incur a great number of evils, through being deceived in themselves? For they who know themselves know what is suitable for them, and distinguish between what they can do and what they cannot; and, by doing what they know how to do, procure for themselves what they need, and are prosperous, and, by abstaining from what they do not know, live blamelessly, and avoid being unfortunate. By this knowledge of themselves, too, they can form an opinion of other men, and, by their experience of the rest of mankind, obtain for themselves what is good, and guard against what is evil. 27. But they who do not know themselves, but are deceived in their own powers, are in similar case with regard to other men, and other human affairs, and neither understand what they require, nor what they are doing, nor the characters of those with whom they connect themselves, but, being in error as to all these particulars, they fail to obtain what is good, and fall into evil. 28. They, on the other hand, who understand what they take in hand, succeed in what they attempt, and become esteemed and honoured; those who resemble them in character willingly form connections with them; those who are unsuccessful in their affairs desire to be assisted with their advice, and to prefer them to themselves; they place in them their hopes of good, and love them, on all these accounts, beyond all other men. 29. But those, again, who do not know what they are doing, who make an unhappy choice in life, and are unsuccessful in what they attempt, nor only incur losses and sufferings in their own affairs, but become, in consequence, disreputable and ridiculous, and drag out their lives in contempt and dishonour. Among states, too, you see that such as, from ignorance of their own strength, go to war with others that are more powerful, are, some of them, utterly overthrown, and others reduced from freedom to slavery.”

30. “Be assured, therefore,” replied Euthydemus, “that I feel convinced we must consider self-knowledge of the highest value; but as to the way in which we must begin to seek self-knowledge, I look to you for information, if you will kindly impart it to me.” 31. “Well, then,” said Socrates, “you doubtless fully understand what sort of things are good, and what sort are evil.” “Yes, by Jupiter,” replied Euthydemus, “for if I did not understand such things, I should be in a worse condition than slaves are.” “Come then,” said Socrates, “tell me what they are.” “That is not difficult,” said he, “for, in the first place, health I consider to be a good, and sickness an evil, and, in the next, looking to the causes of each of them, as drink, food, and employments, I esteem such as conduce to health to be good, and such as lead to sickness to be evil.” 32. “Consequently,” said Socrates, “health and sickness themselves, when they are the causes of any good, will be good, and when they are the causes of any evil, will be evil.” “But when,” exclaimed Euthydemus, “can health be the cause of evil, and sickness of good?” “When, for example,” said Socrates, “some portion of a community, from being in good health, take part in a disgraceful expedition by land, or a ruinous voyage by sea, or in any other such matters, which are sufficiently common, and lose their lives, while others, who are left behind from ill-health, are saved.” “What you say is true,” said Euthydemus, “but you see that some men share in successful enterprises from being in health, while others, from being in sickness, are left out of them.” “Then,” said Socrates, “those things which are sometimes beneficial, and sometimes injurious are not more good than evil?” “Nothing, by Jupiter, is clear according to this way of reasoning. 33. But as to wisdom, Socrates, it is indisputably a good thing; for what business will not one who is wise conduct better than one who is untaught?” “Have you not heard, then, of Dædalus,” said Socrates, “how he was made prisoner by Minos on account of his wisdom, and compelled to serve him as a slave; how he was cut off, at once, from his country and from liberty, and how, when he endeavoured to escape with his son, he lost the child, and was unable to save himself, but was carried away among barbarians, and made a second time a slave?” “Such a story is told, indeed,” said Euthydemus. “Have you not heard, too, of the sufferings of Palamedes? for everybody says that it was for his wisdom he was envied and put to death by Ulysses.” “That, too, is said,” replied Euthydemus. “And how many other men do you think have been carried off to the king on account of their wisdom, and made slaves there?”

34. “But as to happiness, Socrates,” said Euthydemus, “that at least appears to be an indisputable good.” “Yes, Euthydemus,” replied Socrates, “if we make it consist in things that are themselves indisputably good.” “But what,” said he, “among things constituting happiness can be a doubtful good?” “Nothing,” answered Socrates, “unless we join with it beauty, or strength, or wealth, or glory, or any other such thing.” 35. “But we must assuredly join them with it,” said Euthydemus; “for how can a person be happy without them?” “We shall then join with it, by Jupiter,” said Socrates, “things from which many grievous calamities happen to mankind; for many, on account of their beauty, are ruined by those who are maddened with passion for their youthful attractions; many, through confidence in their strength, have entered upon undertakings too great for it, and involved themselves in no small disasters; many, in consequence of their wealth, have become enervated, been plotted against, and destroyed; and many, from the glory and power that they have acquired in their country, have suffered the greatest calamities.” 36. “Well, then,” said Euthydemus, “if I do not say what is right when I praise happiness, I confess that I do not know what we ought to pray for to the gods.”

“These points, however,” proceeded Socrates, “you have perhaps not sufficiently considered, from too confident a belief that you were already well acquainted with them; but since you intend to be at the head of a democratic government, you doubtless know what a democracy is.” “Assuredly,” said he. 37. “Do you think it possible for a person to know what a democracy is, without knowing what the Demos is?” “No, indeed.” “And what do you conceive the Demos to be?” “I conceive it to be the poorer class of citizens.” “Do you know, then, which are the poor?” “How can I help knowing?” “You know then which are the rich?” “Just as well as I know which are the poor.” “Which sort of persons then do you call poor, and which sort rich?” “Those who have not sufficient means to pay for the necessaries of life, I regard as poor; those who have more than sufficient, I consider rich.” 38. “Have you ever observed, then, that to some who have very small means, those means are not only sufficient, but that they even save from them, while, to many, very large fortunes are not sufficient?” “I have indeed,” said Euthydemus, “(for you very properly put me in mind of it), since I have known some princes, who, from poverty, have been driven to commit injustice like the very poorest people.” 39. “Then,” said Socrates, “if such be the case, we must rank such princes among the Demos, and those that have but little we must rank, if they be good managers, among the rich?” “My own want of knowledge, indeed,” said Euthydemus, “obliges me to admit even this; and I am considering whether it would not be best for me to be silent; for I seem to know absolutely nothing.”

He went away, accordingly, in great dejection, holding himself in contempt, and thinking that he was in reality no better than a slave.

40. Of those who were thus treated by Socrates, many came to him no more; and these he regarded as too dull to be improved. But Euthydemus, on the contrary, conceived that he could by no other means become an estimable character, than by associating with Socrates as much as possible; and he in consequence never quitted him, unless some necessary business obliged him to do so. He also imitated many of his habits.

When Socrates saw that he was thus disposed, he no longer puzzled him with questions, but explained to him, in the simplest and clearest manner, what he thought that he ought to know, and what it would be best for him to study.


The necessity of temperance or self-control, and of right notions concerning the gods, sect. 1, 2. The gods have a providential care for mankind, 3–9. Other animals are formed by the gods for the use of man, 10. In addition to the senses common to man with the inferior animals, the gods have given him reason and speech, 11, 12. Though we do not see the gods, we are convinced of their existence from their works, 13, 14. We ought therefore to pay them honour according to our means, 15–18.

1. Socrates was never in haste that his followers should become skilful in speaking, in action, or in invention, but, previous to such accomplishments, he thought it proper that a love of self-control should be instilled into them; for he considered that those who had acquired those qualifications were, if devoid of self-control, only better fitted to commit injustice and to do mischief. 2. In the first place, therefore, he endeavoured to impress his associates with right feelings towards the gods. Some, who were present with him when he conversed with others on this subject, have given an account of his discourses; but I myself was with him when he held a conversation with Euthydemus to the following effect.

3. “Tell me,” said he, “Euthydemus, has it ever occurred to you to consider how carefully the gods have provided for men everything that they require?” “It has indeed never occurred to me,” replied he. “You know at least,” proceeded Socrates, “that we stand in need, first of all, of light, with which the gods supply us.” “Yes, by Jupiter,” answered Euthydemus, “for if we had no light, we should be, as to the use of our eyes, like the blind.” “But, as we require rest, they afford us night, the most suitable season for repose.” “That is assuredly,” said Euthydemus, “a subject for thankfulness.” 4. “Then because the sun, being luminous, shows us the hours of the day, and everything else, while the night, being dark, prevents us from making such distinctions in it, have they not caused the stars to shine in the night, which show us the night-watches, and under the direction of which we perform many things that we require?” “So it is,” said he. “The moon, too, makes plain to us not only the divisions of the night, but also of the month.” “Assuredly,” said he. 5. “But that, since we require food, they should raise it for us from the earth, and appoint suitable seasons for the purpose, which prepare for us, in abundance and every variety, not only things which we need, but also things from which we derive pleasure, (what do you think of such gifts?)” “They certainly indicate love for man.” 6. “And that they should supply us with water, an element of such value to us, that it causes to spring up, and unites with the earth and the seasons in bringing to maturity, everything useful for us, and assists also to nourish ourselves, and, being mixed with all our food, renders it easier of digestion, more serviceable, and more pleasant; and that, as we require water in great quantities, they should supply us with it in such profusion, (what do you think of such a gift?)” “That also,” said he, “shows thought for us.” 7. “That they should also give us fire, a protection against cold and darkness, an auxiliary in every art and in everything that men prepare for their use, (for, in a word, men produce nothing of any consequence among the various things necessary to life, without the aid of fire,) (what do you think of such a gift?)” “That, likewise,” said he, “excels in philanthropy.” 8. (“That they should diffuse the air also around us everywhere in such abundance, as not only to preserve and support life, but to enable us to cross the seas by means of it, and to get provisions by sailing hither and thither among foreign lands, is not this a boon inexpressibly valuable?” “It is indeed inexpressibly so,” replied he.) “That the sun, too, when it turns towards us in the winter, should approach to mature some things, and to dry up others whose season (for ripening) has passed away; and that, having effected these objects, he should not come nearer to us, but turn back, as if taking care lest he should hurt us by giving us more heat than is necessary; and that when again, in his departure, he arrives at the point at which it becomes evident that, if he were to go beyond it, we should be frozen by the cold, he should again turn towards us, and approach us, and revolve in that precise part of the heaven in which he may be of most advantage to us, what do you think of things so regulated?” “By Jupiter,” replied Euthydemus, “they appear to be appointed solely for the sake of man.” 9. “Again, that the sun, because it is certain that we could not endure such heat or cold if it should come upon us suddenly, should approach us so gradually, and retire from us so gradually, that we are brought imperceptibly to the greatest extremes of both, (what do you think of that appointment?)” “I am reflecting, indeed,” said Euthydemus, “whether the gods can have any other business than to take care of man; only this thought embarrasses me, that other animals partake in these benefits.”

10. “But is not this also evident,” said Socrates, “that these animals are produced and nourished for the sake of man? For what other animal derives so many benefits from goats, sheep, horses, oxen, asses, and other such creatures, as man? To me it appears that he gains more advantages from them than from the fruits of the earth; at least he is fed and enriched not less from the one than from the other; and a great portion of mankind do not use the productions of the earth for food, but live by herds of cattle, supported by their milk, and cheese, and flesh; and all men tame and train the useful sort of animals, and use them as help for war and other purposes.” “I agree with what you say on that point,” said Euthydemus, “for I see some animals much stronger than we, rendered so subservient to men that they use them for whatever they please.” 11. “But that, since there are numberless beautiful and useful objects in the world, greatly differing from one another, the gods should have bestowed on men senses adapted to each of them, by means of which we enjoy every advantage from them; that they should have implanted understanding in us, by means of which we reason about what we perceive by the senses, and, assisted by the memory, learn how far everything is beneficial, and contrive many plans, by which we enjoy good and avoid evil; 12. and that they should have given us the faculty of speech, by means of which by information we impart to one another, whatever is good, and participate in it, enact laws, and enjoy constitutional government, what think you of such blessings?” “The gods certainly appear, Socrates, to exercise the greatest care for man in every way.” “And that, since we are unable to foresee what is for our advantage with regard to the future, they should assist us in that respect, communicating what will happen to those who inquire of them by divination, and instructing them how their actions may be most for their benefit, (what thoughts does that produce in you?)” “The gods seem to show you, Socrates,” rejoined he, “more favour than other men, since they indicate to you, without being asked, what you ought to do, and what not to do.”

13. “And that I speak the truth, you yourself also well know, if you do not expect to see the bodily forms of the gods, but will be content, as you behold their works, to worship and honour them. Reflect, too, that the gods themselves give us this intimation; for the other deities that give us blessings, do not bestow any of them by coming manifestly before our sight; and he that orders and holds together the whole universe, in which are all things beautiful and good, and who preserves it, for us who enjoy it, always unimpaired, undisordered, and undecaying, obeying his will swifter than thought and without irregularity, is himself manifested (only) in the performance of his mighty works, but is invisible to us while he regulates them. 14. Consider also that the sun, which appears manifest to all, does not allow men to contemplate him too curiously, but, if any one tries to gaze on him steadfastly, deprives him of his sight. The instruments of the deities you will likewise find imperceptible; for the thunderbolt, for instance, though it is plain that it is sent from above, and works its will with everything with which it comes in contact, is yet never seen either approaching, or striking, or retreating; the winds, too, are themselves invisible, though their effects are evident to us, and we perceive their course. The soul of man, moreover, which partakes of the divine nature if anything else in man does, rules, it is evident, within us, but is itself unseen. Meditating on these facts, therefore, it behoves you not to despise the unseen gods, but, estimating their power from what is done by them, to reverence what is divine.”

15. “I feel clearly persuaded, Socrates,” said Euthydemus, “that I shall never fail, in the slightest degree, in respect for the divine power, but I am dejected at the thought that no one among mankind seems to me ever to requite the favours of the gods without due gratitude.” 16. “But be not dejected at that reflection, Euthydemus,” said Socrates, “for you know that the deity at Delphi, whenever any one consults him how he may propitiate the gods, answers, According to the law of your country; and it is the law, indeed, everywhere, that every man should propitiate the gods with offerings according to his ability; and how, therefore, can any man honour the gods better or more piously, than by acting as they themselves direct? 17. It behoves us, however, not to do less than we are able, for, when any one acts thus, he plainly shows that he does not honour the gods. But it becomes him who fails, in no respect, to honour the gods according to his means, to be of good courage, and to hope for the greatest blessings; for no one can reasonably hope for greater blessings from others than from those who are able to benefit him most; nor on any other grounds than by propitiating them; and how can he propitiate them better than by obeying them to the utmost of his power?”

18. By uttering such sentiments, and by acting according to them himself, he rendered those who conversed with him more pious and prudent.


Socrates inculcated a love of justice into his followers. He gave them an example of adherence to justice in his own life, sect. 1–4. He commences a conversation with Hippias, a sophist, 4–9. It is better to be just than merely to talk of justice, 10, 11; it is a part of justice to obey the laws; what a law is, 12–14; who are the best magistrates in states, 15; a general observance of the laws maintains concord, 16–18; there are certain unwritten laws, which it is not possible to transgress without incurring punishment, 19–24; to observe the divine laws is to be just, 25.

1. Concerning justice, too, he did not conceal what sentiments he entertained, but made them manifest even by his actions, for he conducted himself, in his private capacity, justly and beneficently towards all men, and, as a citizen, he obeyed the magistrates in all that the laws enjoined, both in the city and on military expeditions, so that he was distinguished above other men for his observance of order. 2. When he was president in the public assembly, he would not permit the people to give a vote contrary to law, but opposed himself, in defence of the laws, to such a storm of rage on the part of the populace as I think that no other man could have withstood. 3. When the Thirty Tyrants commanded him to do anything contrary to the laws, he refused to obey them; for both when they forbade him to converse with the young, and when they ordered him, and some others of the citizens, to lead a certain person away to death, he alone did not obey, because the order was given contrary to the laws. 4. When he was accused by Meletus, and others were accustomed, before the tribunal, to speak so as to gain the favour of the judges, and to flatter them, and supplicate them, in violation of the laws, and many persons, by such practices, had often been acquitted by the judges, he refused, on his trial, to comply with any practices opposed to the laws, and though he might easily have been acquitted by his judges, if he had but in a slight degree adopted any of those customs, he chose rather to die abiding by the laws than to save his life by transgressing them.

5. He held conversations to this effect with others on several occasions, and I know that he once had a dialogue of the following kind, concerning justice, with Hippias of Elis; for Hippias, on his return to Athens after an absence of some time, happened to come in the way of Socrates as he was observing to some people how surprising it was that, if a man wished to have another taught to be a shoemaker, or a carpenter, or a worker in brass, or a rider, he was at no loss whither he should send him to effect his object; [nay, that every place, as some say, was full of persons who would make a horse or an ox observant of right for any one that desired;] while as to justice, if any one wished either to learn it himself, or to have his son or his slave taught it, he did not know whither he should go to obtain his desire. 6. Hippias, hearing this remark, said, as if jesting with him, “What! are you still saying the same things, Socrates, that I heard from you so long ago?” “Yes,” said Socrates, “and what is more wonderful, I am not only still saying the same things, but am saying them on the same subjects; but you, perhaps, from being possessed of such variety of knowledge, never say the same things on the same subjects.” “Certainly,” replied Hippias, “I do always try to say something new.” 7. “About matters of which you have certain knowledge, then,” said Socrates, “as, for instance, about the letters of the alphabet, if any one were to ask you how many and what letters are in the word ‘Socrates,’ would you try to say sometimes one thing, and sometimes another; or to people who might ask you about numbers, as whether twice five are ten, would you not give the same answer at one time as at another?” “About such matters, Socrates,” replied Hippias, “I, like you, always say the same thing; but concerning justice I think that I have certainly something to say now which neither you nor any other person can refute.” 8. “By Juno,” returned Socrates, “it is a great good that you say you have discovered, since the judges will now cease from giving contradictory sentences, the citizens will cease from disputing about what is just, from going to law, and from quarrelling, and communities will cease from contending about their rights and going to war; and I know not how I can part with you till I have learned so important a benefit from its discoverer.” 9. “You shall not hear it, by Jupiter,” rejoined Hippias, “until you yourself declare what you think justice to be; for it is enough that you laugh at others, questioning and confuting everybody, while you yourself are unwilling to give a reason to anybody, or to declare your opinion on any subject.” 10. “What then, Hippias,” said Socrates, “have you not perceived that I never cease declaring my opinion as to what I conceive to be just?” “And what is this opinion of yours?” said Hippias. “If I make it known to you, not by words merely, but by actions, do not deeds seem to you to be a stronger evidence than words?” “Much stronger, by Jupiter,” said Hippias, “for many who say what is just do what is unjust, but a man who does what is just cannot be himself unjust.” 11. “Have you ever then found me bearing false witness, or giving malicious information, or plunging my friends or the state into quarrels, or doing anything else that is unjust?” “I have not.” “And do you not think it justice to refrain from injustice?” “You are plainly now,” said Hippias, “endeavouring to avoid expressing an opinion as to what you think just; for what you say is, not what the just do, but what they do not do.” 12. “But I thought,” rejoined Socrates, “that to be unwilling to do injustice was a sufficient proof of justice. If this, however, does not satisfy you, consider whether what I next say will please you better; for I assert that what is in conformity with the laws is just.” “Do you say, Socrates, that to be conformable to the laws, and to be just, is the same thing?” “I do indeed.” 13. “(I am puzzled); for I do not understand what you call conformable to law, or what you call just.” “Do you know the laws of the state?” said Socrates. “I do,” said the other. “And what do you consider them to be?” “What the citizens in concert have enacted as to what we ought to do, and what we ought to avoid doing.” “Would not he, therefore,” asked Socrates, “be an observer of the laws, who should conduct himself in the community agreeably to those enactments, and he be a violator of the laws who transgresses them?” “Undoubtedly,” said Hippias. “Would not he then do what is just who obeys the laws, and he do what is unjust who disobeys them?” “Certainly.” “Is not he then just who does what is just, and he unjust who does what is unjust?” “How can it be otherwise?” “He therefore that conforms to the laws is just,” added Socrates, “and he who violates the laws, unjust.”

14. “But,” objected Hippias, “how can any one imagine the laws, or obedience to them, to be a matter of absolute importance, when the very persons who make them often reject and alter them?” “(That objection is of no consequence,” said Socrates), “for states, which have commenced war, often make peace again.” “Undoubtedly they do,” said Hippias. “What difference will there be in your conduct, then, think you, if you throw contempt on those who obey the laws, because the laws may be changed, and if you blame those who act properly in war, because peace may be made? Do you condemn those who vigorously support their country in war?” “I do not indeed,” replied Hippias. 15. “Have you ever heard it said of Lycurgus the Lacedæmonian, then,” said Socrates, “that he would not have made Sparta at all different from other states, if he had not established in it, beyond others, a spirit of obedience to the laws? Do you not know, too, that of magistrates in states, those are thought the best who are most efficient in producing obedience to the laws, and that that state, in which the citizens pay most respect to the laws, is in the best condition in peace, and invincible in war? 16. The greatest blessing to states, moreover, is concord; and the senates and principal men in them often exhort the citizens to unanimity; and everywhere throughout Greece it is a law that the citizens shall take an oath to observe concord, an oath which they everywhere do take; but I conceive that this is done, not that the citizens may approve of the same choruses, or that they may praise the same flute-players, or that they may prefer the same poets, or that they may take delight in the same spectacles, but that they may obey the laws; for while the citizens adhere to these, states will be eminently powerful and happy; but without such unanimity, no state can be well governed, nor any family well regulated. 17. As an individual citizen, too, how could any person render himself less liable to penalties from the government, or more likely to have honours bestowed upon him, than by being obedient to the laws? How else would he incur fewer defeats in the courts of justice, or how more certainly obtain sentence in his favour? To whom would any one believe that he could more safely confide his money, or his sons or daughters? Whom would the whole community deem more trustworthy than him who respects the laws? From whom would parents, or relatives, or domestics, or friends, or citizens, or strangers, more certainly obtain their rights? To whom would the enemy sooner trust in cessation of arms, or in making a truce, or articles of peace? To whom would people more willingly become allies than to the observer of the laws, and to whom would the allies more willingly trust the leadership, or command of a fortress, or of a city? From whom would any one expect to meet with gratitude, on doing him a kindness, sooner than from the observer of the laws? Or whom would any one rather serve than him from whom he expects to receive a return? To whom would any one more desire to be a friend, or less desire to be an enemy, than such a man? With whom would any one be less inclined to go to war, than with him to whom he would most wish to be a friend, and least of all an enemy, and to whom the greatest part of mankind would wish to be friends and allies, and but a small number to be antagonists and enemies? 18. I, therefore, Hippias, pronounce that to obey the laws and to be just is the same; if you hold an opinion to the contrary, tell me.” “Indeed, Socrates,” rejoined Hippias, “I do not know that I entertain any sentiments opposed to what you have said of justice.”

19. “But are you aware, Hippias,” continued Socrates, “that there are unwritten laws?” “You mean those,” said Hippias, “that are in force about the same points everywhere.” “Can you affirm, then, that men made those laws?” “How could they,” said Hippias, “when they could not all meet together, and do not all speak the same language?” “Whom then do you suppose to have made these laws?” “I believe,” said he, “that it was the gods who made these laws for men, for among all men the first law is to venerate the gods.” 20. “Is it not also a law everywhere to honour parents?” “It is so.” “Is it not a law, too, that parents shall not intermarry with their children, nor children with their parents?” “This does not as yet, Socrates, appear to me to be a law of the gods?” “Why?” “Because I find that some nations transgress it.” 21. “Many others, too, they transgress,” said Socrates; “but those who violate the laws made by the gods incur punishment which it is by no means possible for man to escape, as many transgressors of the laws made by men escape punishment, some by concealment, others by open violence.” 22. “And what sort of punishment, Socrates,” said he, “cannot parents escape who intermarry with their children, and children who intermarry with their parents?” “The greatest of all punishments, by Jupiter,” replied Socrates, “for what greater penalty can those who beget children incur, than to have bad children?” 23. “How then,” said Hippias, “do they necessarily have bad children, when nothing hinders but that they may be good themselves, and have children by good partners?” “Because,” returned Socrates, “it is not only necessary that those who have children by each other should be good, but that they should be in full bodily vigour. Or do you suppose that the seed of those who are at the height of maturity is similar to that of those who have not yet reached maturity, or to that of those who are far past it?” “By Jupiter,” replied Hippias, “it is not at all likely that it should be similar.” “Which of the two then is the better?” “Doubtless that of those at full maturity.” “That of those who are not at full maturity, then, is not sufficiently energetic.” “Probably not.” “Accordingly they ought not to have children?” “No.” “Do not those, therefore, who have children under such circumstances, have them as they ought not?” “So it appears to me.” “What other persons, therefore, will have bad children, if not these?” “Well,” said Hippias, “I agree with you on this point also.”

24. “Is it not everywhere a law, also,” said Socrates, “that men should do good to those who do good to them?” “It is a law,” answered Hippias, “but it is transgressed.” “Those therefore who transgress it incur punishment,” continued Socrates, “by being deprived of good friends, and being compelled to have recourse to those who hate them. Are not such as do service to those who seek it of them good friends, and are not those who make no return to such as serve them hated by them for their ingratitude; and yet, because it is for their advantage to have their support, do they not pay the greatest court to them?” “Indeed, Socrates,” replied Hippias, “all these things seem to suit the character of the gods; for that the laws themselves should carry with them punishments for those who transgress them, appears to me to be the appointment of a lawgiver superior to man.”

25. “Whether, therefore, Hippias,” added Socrates, “do you consider that the gods appoint as laws, what is agreeable to justice, or what is at variance with justice?” “Not what is at variance with justice, certainly,” said Hippias, “for scarcely would any other make laws in conformity with justice, if a god were not to do so.” “It is the pleasure of the gods, therefore, Hippias,” concluded Socrates, “that what is in conformity with justice should also be in conformity with the laws.”

By uttering such sentiments, and acting in agreement with them, he rendered those who conversed with him more observant of justice.


Socrates rendered his followers better qualified for public life. The necessity of temperance, sect. 1, 2; the evils of intemperance, 3–7; the benefits arising from temperance, 8–10; the conduct of the temperate man, 11, 12.

1. I will now relate how he rendered his followers better qualified for the management of public business. Thinking it expedient that temperance should be observed by him who would succeed in anything honourable, he first made it evident to those who conversed with him, that he practised this virtue beyond all other men, and then, by his discourse, he exhorted his followers, above everything, to the observance of temperance. He continued always, therefore, both himself to be mindful of, and to remind all his followers of, whatever was conducive to virtue; and I know that he once held a conversation on temperance with Euthydemus to the following effect: 2. “Tell me,” said he, “Euthydemus, do you regard liberty as an excellent and honourable possession for an individual or a community?” “The most excellent and honourable that can be,” replied he. 3. “Do you consider him, then, who is held under control by the pleasures of the body, and is rendered unable, by their influence, to do what is best for him, to be free?” “By no means,” replied Euthydemus. “Perhaps, then, to do what is best seems to you to be freedom, but to be under influences which will hinder you from doing it, you consider to be want of freedom?” “Assuredly,” said he. 4. “Do not the intemperate appear to you, then, to be absolutely without freedom?” “Yes, by Jupiter, and naturally so.” “And whether do the intemperate appear to you to be merely prevented from doing what is best, or to be forced, also, to do what is most dishonourable?” “They appear to me,” replied Euthydemus, “to be not less forced to do the one than they are hindered from doing the other.” 5. “And what sort of masters do you consider those to be, who hinder men from doing what is best, and force them to do what is worst?” “The very worst possible, by Jupiter,” replied he. “And what sort of slavery do you consider to be the worst?” “That,” said he, “under the worst masters.” “Do not then the intemperate,” said Socrates, “endure the very worst of slavery?” “It appears so to me,” answered Euthydemus. 6. “And does not intemperance seem to you, by banishing from men prudence, the greatest good, to drive them into the very opposite evil? Does it not appear to you to hinder them from attending to useful things, and learning them, by drawing them away to pleasure, and frequently, by captivating those who have a perception of good and evil, to make them choose the worse instead of the better?” “Such is the case,” said he. 7. “And whom can we suppose, Euthydemus, to have less participation in self-control than the intemperate man? for assuredly the acts of self-control and of intemperance are the very opposite to each other.” “I assent to this also,” said he. “And do you think that anything is a greater hindrance to attention to what is becoming, than intemperance?” “I do not.” “And do you imagine that there is any greater evil to man, than that which makes him prefer the noxious to the beneficial, which prompts him to pursue the one and to neglect the other, and which forces him to pursue a contrary course of conduct to that of the wise?” “There is none,” said Euthydemus.

8. “Is it not natural, then,” said Socrates, “that temperance should be the cause of producing in men effects contrary to those which intemperance produces?” “Undoubtedly,” said Euthydemus. “Is it not natural, therefore, also, that what produces those contrary effects should be best for man?” “It is natural,” said he. “Is it not consequently natural, then, Euthydemus, that temperance should be best for man?” “It is so, Socrates,” said he. 9. “And have you ever reflected upon this, Euthydemus?” “What?” “That even to those pleasures, to which alone intemperance seems to lead men, it cannot lead them, but that temperance produces greater pleasure than anything else?” “How?” said he. “Because intemperance, by not allowing men to withstand hunger, thirst, or the desire of sensual gratification, or want of sleep (through which privations alone is it possible for them to eat, and drink, and gratify other natural appetites, and go to rest and sleep with pleasure, waiting and restraining themselves until the inclinations may be most happily indulged), hinders them from having any due enjoyment in acts most necessary and most habitual; but temperance, which alone enables men to endure the privations which I have mentioned, alone enables them to find any delight worthy of mention in the gratifications to which I have alluded.” “What you say,” observed Euthydemus, “is indisputably true.” 10. “To learn what is honourable and good, moreover, and to study those accomplishments by which a man may ably govern himself, judiciously regulate his household, become useful to his friends and the state, and gain the mastery over his enemies (from which studies arise not only the greatest advantages, but also the greatest pleasures), and of which the temperate have enjoyment while they practise them, but the intemperate have no share in any of them, to whom can we say that it less belongs to attend to such things, than to him who has the least power to pursue them, being wholly occupied in attention to present pleasures?” 11. “You seem to me, Socrates,” said Euthydemus, “to say that the man who is under the influence of bodily pleasures, has no participation in any one virtue.” “For what difference is there, Euthydemus,” said he, “between an intemperate man and the most ignorant brute? How will he, who has no regard to what is best, but seeks only to enjoy what is most seductive by any means in his power, differ from the most senseless cattle? To the temperate alone it belongs to consider what is best in human pursuits, to distinguish those pursuits, according to experience and reason, into their several classes, and then to choose the good and refrain from the evil.”

12. Thus it was, he said, that men became most virtuous and happy, and most skilful in reasoning; and he observed that the expression διαλέγεσθαι, “to reason,” had its origin in people’s practice of meeting together to reason on matters, and distinguishing them, διαλέγοντας, according to their several kinds. It was the duty of every one, therefore, he thought, to make himself ready in this art, and to study it with the greatest diligence; for that men, by the aid of it, became most accomplished, most able to guide others, and most acute in discussion.


The value of skill in argument and definition, sect. 1. Definition of PIETY, 2–4; of JUSTICE, 5, 6; of WISDOM, 7; of GOODNESS and BEAUTY, 8, 9; of COURAGE, 10, 11. Some other definitions, 12. Remarks on the Socratic method of argument, 13–15.

1. I will now endeavour to show that Socrates rendered those who associated with him more skilful in argument. For he thought that those who knew the nature of things severally, would be able to explain them to others; but as to those who did not know, he said that it was not surprising that they fell into error themselves, and led others into it. He therefore never ceased to reason with his associates about the nature of things. To go through all the terms that he defined, and to show how he defined them, would be a long task; but I will give as many instances as I think will suffice to show the nature of his reasoning.

2. In the first place, then, he reasoned of PIETY, in some such way as this. “Tell me,” said he, “Euthydemus, what sort of feeling do you consider piety to be?” “The most noble of all feelings,” replied he. “Can you tell me, then, who is a pious man?” “The man, I think, who honours the gods.” “Is it allowable to pay honour to the gods in any way that one pleases?” “No; there are certain laws in conformity with which we must pay our honours to them.” 3. “He, then, who knows these laws, will know how he must honour the gods?” “I think so.” “He therefore who knows how to pay honour to the gods, will not think that he ought to pay it otherwise than as he knows?” “Doubtless not.” “But does any one pay honours to the gods otherwise than as he thinks that he ought to pay them?” “I think not.” 4. “He therefore who knows what is agreeable to the laws with regard to the gods, will honour the gods in agreement with the laws?” “Certainly.” “Does not he, then, who honours the gods agreeably to the laws honour them as he ought?” “How can he do otherwise?” “And he who honours them as he ought, is pious?” “Certainly.” “He therefore who knows what is agreeable to the laws with regard to the gods, may be justly defined by us as a pious man?” “So it appears to me,” said Euthydemus.

5. “But is it allowable for a person to conduct himself towards other men in whatever way he pleases?” “No; but with respect to men also, he who knows what is in conformity with the laws, and how men ought, according to them, to conduct themselves towards each other, will be an observer of the laws.” “Do not those, then, who conduct themselves towards each other according to what is in conformity with the law’s, conduct themselves towards each other as they ought?” “How can it be otherwise?” “Do not those, therefore, who conduct themselves towards each other as they ought, conduct themselves well?” “Certainly.” “Do not those, then, that conduct themselves well towards each other, act properly in transactions between man and man?” “Surely.” “Do not those, then, who obey the laws, do what is just?” “Undoubtedly.” 6. “And do you know what sort of actions are called just?” “Those which the laws sanction.” “Those, therefore, who do what the laws sanction, do what is just, and what they ought?” “How can it be otherwise?” “Do you think that any persons yield obedience to the laws who do not know what the laws sanction?” “I do not.” “And do you think that any who know what they ought to do, think that they ought not to do it?” “I do not think so.” “And do you know any persons that do other things than those which they think they ought to do?” “I do not.” “Those, therefore, who know what is agreeable to the laws in regard to men, do what is just?” “Certainly.” “And are not those who do what is just, just men?” “Who else can be so?” “Shall we not define rightly, therefore,” concluded Socrates, “if we define those to be just who know what is agreeable to the laws in regard to men?” “It appears so to me,” said Euthydemus.

7. “And what shall we say that WISDOM is? Tell me, whether do men seem to you to be wise, in things which they know, or are there some who are wise in things which they do not know?” “In what they know, certainly; for how can a man be wise in things of which he knows nothing?” “Those, then, who are wise, are wise by their knowledge?” “By what else can a man be wise, if not by his knowledge?” “Do you think wisdom, then, to be anything else than that by which men are wise?” “I do not.” “Is knowledge, then, wisdom?” “It appears so to me.” “Does it appear to you, however, that it is possible for a man to know all things that are?” “No, by Jupiter; not even, as I think, a comparatively small portion of them.” “It is not therefore possible for a man to be wise in all things?” “No, indeed.” “Every man is wise, therefore, in that only of which he has a knowledge?” “So it seems to me.”

8. “Shall we thus, too, Euthydemus,” said he, “inquire what is GOOD?” “How?” said Euthydemus. “Does the same thing appear to you to be beneficial to everybody?” “No.” “And does not that which is beneficial to one person appear to you to be sometimes hurtful to another?” “Assuredly.” “Would you say, then, that anything is good that is not beneficial?” “I would not.” “What is beneficial, therefore, is good, to whomsoever it is beneficial?” “It appears so to me,” said Euthydemus.

9. “And can we define the BEAUTIFUL in any other way than if you term whatever is beautiful, whether a person, or a vase, or anything else whatsoever, beautiful for whatever purpose you know that it is beautiful?” “No, indeed,” said Euthydemus. “For whatever purpose, then, anything may be useful, for that purpose it is beautiful to use it?” “Certainly.” “And is anything beautiful for any other purpose than that for which it is beautiful to use it?” “For no other purpose,” replied he. “What is useful is beautiful, therefore, for that purpose for which it is useful?” “So I think,” said he.

10. “As to COURAGE, Euthydemus,” said Socrates, “do you think it is to be numbered among excellent things?” “I think it one of the most excellent,” replied Euthydemus. “But you do not think courage a thing of use for small occasions?” “No, by Jupiter, but for the very greatest.” “Does it appear to you to be useful, with regard to formidable and dangerous things, to be ignorant of their character?” “By no means.” “They, therefore, who do not fear such things, because they do not know what they are, are not courageous?” “Certainly not; for, in that case, many madmen and even cowards would be courageous.” “And what do you say of those who fear things that are not formidable?” “Still less, by Jupiter, should they be called courageous.” “Those, then, that are good, with reference to formidable and dangerous things, you consider to be courageous, and those that are bad, cowardly?” “Certainly.” 11. “But do you think that any other persons are good, with reference to terrible and dangerous circumstances, except those who are able to conduct themselves well under them?” “No, those only.” said he. “And you think those bad with regard to them, who are of such a character as to conduct themselves badly under them?” “Whom else can I think so?” “Do not each, then, conduct themselves under them as they think they ought?” “How can it be otherwise?” “Do those, therefore, who cannot conduct themselves properly under them, know how they ought to conduct themselves under them?” “Doubtless not.” “Those then who know how they ought to conduct themselves under them, can do so?” “And they alone.” “Do those, therefore, who do not fail under such circumstances, conduct themselves badly under them?” “I think not.” “Those, then, who do conduct themselves badly under them, do fail?” “It seems so.” “Those, therefore, who know how to conduct themselves well in terrible and dangerous circumstances are courageous, and those who fail to do so are cowards?” “They at least appear so to me,” said Euthydemus.

12. Monarchy and tyranny he considered to be both forms of government, but conceived that they differed (greatly) from one another; for a government over men with their own consent, and in conformity with the laws of free states, he regarded as a monarchy; but a government over men against their will, and not according to the law of free states, but just as the ruler pleased, a tyranny; and wherever magistrates were appointed from among those who complied with the injunctions of the laws, he considered the government to be an aristocracy; wherever they were appointed according to their wealth, a plutocracy; and wherever they were appointed from among the whole people, a democracy.

13. Whenever any person contradicted him on any point, who had nothing definite to say, and who perhaps asserted, without proof, that some person, whom he mentioned, was wiser, or better skilled in political affairs, or possessed of greater courage, or worthier in some such respect [than some other whom Socrates had mentioned], he would recall the whole argument, in some such way as the following, to the primary proposition: 14. “Do you say that he whom you commend, is a better citizen than he whom I commend?” “I do say so.” “Why did we not then consider, in the first place, what is the duty of a good citizen?” “Let us do so.” “Would not he then be superior in the management of the public money who should make the state richer?” “Undoubtedly.” “And he in war who should make it victorious over its enemies?” “Assuredly.” “And in an embassy he who should make friends of foes?” “Doubtless.” “And he in addressing the people who should check dissension and inspire them with unanimity?” “I think so.” When the discussion was thus brought back to fundamental principles, the truth was made evident to those who had opposed him.

15. When he himself went through any subject in argument, he proceeded upon propositions of which the truth was generally acknowledged, thinking that a sure foundation was thus formed for his reasoning. Accordingly, whenever he spoke, he, of all men that I have known, most readily prevailed on his hearers to assent to his arguments; and he used to say that Homer had attributed to Ulysses the character of a sure orator, as being able to form his reasoning on points acknowledged by all mankind.


How Socrates rendered his followers μηχανικούς, ingenious and adapted for business; his frankness and sincerity, 1. How far he thought that Geometry should be studied, 2, 3. How far he recommended that Astronomy should be pursued, 4–7. Vain investigations to be avoided, 8. Regard to be paid to health, 9. Counsel to be asked of the gods, 10.

1. That Socrates expressed his sentiments with sincerity to those who conversed with him, is, I think, manifest from what I have said. I will now proceed to show how much it was his care that his followers should be competently qualified for employments suited to their powers. Of all men that I have known, he was the most anxious to discover in what occupation each of those who attended him was likely to prove skilful; and of all that it becomes a man of honour and virtue to know, he taught them himself, whatever he knew, with the utmost cheerfulness; and what he had not sufficient knowledge to teach, he took them to those who knew, to learn.

2. He taught them also how far it was proper that a well-educated man should be versed in any department of knowledge. Geometry, for instance, he said that a man should study until he should be capable, if occasion required, to take or give land correctly by measurement; or to divide it or portion it out for cultivation; and this, he observed, it was so easy to learn, that he who gave any attention at all to mensuration, might find how large the whole earth was, and perfectly understand how it was measured. 3. But of pursuing the study of geometry to diagrams hard to understand, he disapproved; for he said that he could not see of what profit they were, though he himself was by no means unskilled in them; but he remarked that they were enough to consume a man’s whole life, and hinder him from attaining many other valuable branches of knowledge.

4. He recommended his followers to learn astronomy also, but only so far as to be able to know the hour of the night, the month, and the season of the year, with a view to travelling by land or sea, or distinguishing the earth, the periods of their revolutions, and the divisions of the above mentioned times, to profit by the signs for whatever other things are done at a certain period of the night, or month, or year. These particulars, he said, were easily learned from men who hunted by night, from pilots, and from many others whose business it was to know them. 5. But to continue the study of astronomy so far as to distinguish the bodies which do not move in the same circle with the heaven, the planets, and the irregular stars, and to weary ourselves in inquiring into their distances from the earth, the periods of their revolutions, and the causes of all these things, was what he greatly discountenanced; for he saw, he said, no profit in these studies either, though he had himself given attention to them; since they also, he remarked, were enough to wear out the life of a man, and prevent him from attending to many profitable pursuits.

6. Concerning celestial matters in general, he dissuaded every man from becoming a speculator how the divine power contrives to manage them; for he did not think that such points were discoverable by man, nor did he believe that those pleased the gods who inquired into things which they did not wish to make known. He observed, too, that a man who was anxious about such investigations, was in danger of losing his senses, not less than Anaxagoras, who prided himself highly on explaining the plans of the gods, lost his. 7. For Anaxagoras, when he said that fire and the sun were of the same nature, did not reflect that people can easily look upon fire, but cannot turn their gaze on the sun, and that men, if exposed to the rays of the sun, have complexions of a darker shade, but not if exposed to fire; he omitted to consider, too, that of the productions of the earth, none can come fairly to maturity without the rays of the sun, while, if warmed by the heat of the fire, they all perish; and when he said that the sun was a heated stone, he forgot that a stone placed in the fire does not shine, or last long, but that the sun continues perpetually the most luminous of all bodies.

8. He advised his followers also to learn computations, but in these, as in other things, he exhorted them to avoid useless labour; as far as it was of any profit, he investigated everything himself, and went through it with his associates.

9. He earnestly recommended those who conversed with him to take care of their health, both by learning whatever they could respecting it from men of experience, and by attending to it, each for himself, throughout his whole life, studying what food or drink, or what exercise, was most suitable for him, and how he might act in regard to them so as to enjoy the best health; for he said it would be difficult for a person who thus attended to himself to find a physician that would tell better than himself what was conducive to his health.

10. But if any one desired to attain to what was beyond human wisdom, he advised him to study divination; for he said that he who knew by what signs the gods give indications to men respecting human affairs, would never fail of obtaining counsel from the gods.


Socrates, though condemned to death, was not convicted of falsehood with regard to his Dæmon. His resolution to die. His innocence inspires him with courage. He thinks it good to die, and escape the evils of old age. Summary of the arguments of the Memorabilia.

1. But if any one thinks that he was convicted of falsehood with regard to his Dæmon, because sentence of death was pronounced on him by the judges although he said that the dæmon admonished him what he ought and what he ought not to do, let him consider, in the first place, that he was already so advanced in years that he must have ended his life, if not then, at least not long after; and, in the next, that he relinquished only the most burdensome part of life, in which all feel their powers of intellect diminished, while, instead of enduring this, he acquired great glory by proving the firmness of his mind, pleading his cause, above all men, with the greatest regard to truth, ingenuousness, and justice, and bearing his sentence at once with the utmost resignation and the utmost fortitude.

2. It is indeed acknowledged that no man, of all that are remembered, ever endured death with greater glory; for he was obliged to live thirty days after his sentence, because the Delian festival happened in that month, and the law allowed no one to be publicly put to death until the sacred deputation should return from Delos; and during that time he was seen by all his friends living in no other way than at any preceding period; and, let it be observed, throughout all the former part of his life he had been admired beyond all men for the cheerfulness and tranquillity with which he lived. 3. How could any one have died more nobly than thus? Or what death could be more honourable than that which any man might most honourably undergo? Or what death could be happier than the most honourable? Or what death more acceptable to the gods than the most happy?

4. I will also relate what I heard respecting him from Hermogenes, the son of Hipponicus, who said that after Meletus had laid the accusation against him, he heard him speaking on any subject rather than that of his trial, and remarked to him that he ought to consider what defence he should make, but that he said at first, “Do I not appear to you to have passed my whole life meditating on that subject?” and then, when he asked him “How so?” he said that “he had gone through life doing nothing but considering what was just and abstaining from what was unjust, which he conceived to be the best meditation for his defence.” 5. Hermogenes said again, “Do you not see, Socrates, that the judges at Athens have already put to death many innocent persons, from being offended at their language, and have allowed many that were guilty to escape?” “But, by Jupiter, Hermogenes,” replied he, “when I was proceeding, a while ago, to study my address to the judges, the dæmon testified disapprobation.” “You say what is strange,” rejoined Hermogenes. “And do you think it strange,” inquired Socrates, “that it should seem better to the divinity that I should now close my life? Do you not know, that, down to the present time, I would not admit to any man that he has lived either better or with more pleasure than myself? for I consider that those live best who study best to become as good as possible; and that those live with most pleasure who feel the most assurance that they are daily growing better and better. 7. This assurance I have felt, to the present day, to be the case with respect to myself; and, associating with other men, and comparing myself with others, I have always retained this opinion respecting myself; and, not only I, but my friends also, maintain a similar feeling with regard to me, not because they love me (for those who love others may be thus affected towards the objects of their love), but because they think that while they associated with me they became greatly advanced in virtue. 8. If I shall live a longer period, perhaps I shall be destined to sustain the evils of old age, to find my sight and hearing weakened, to feel my intellect impaired, to become less apt to learn, and more forgetful, and, in fine, to grow inferior to others in all those qualities in which I was once superior to them. If I should be insensible to this deterioration, life would not be worth retaining; and, if I should feel it, how could I live otherwise than with less profit, and with less comfort? 9. If I am to die unjustly, my death will be a disgrace to those who unjustly kill me; for if injustice is a disgrace, must it not be a disgrace to do anything unjustly? But what disgrace will it be to me, that others could not decide or act justly with regard to me? 10. Of the men who have lived before me, I see that the estimation left among posterity with regard to such as have done wrong, and such as have suffered wrong, is by no means similar; and I know that I also, if I now die, shall obtain from mankind far different consideration from that which they will receive who took my life; for I know that they will always bear witness to me that I have never wronged any man, or rendered any man less virtuous, but that I have always endeavoured to make those better who conversed with me.” Such discourse he held with Hermogenes, and with others.

11. Of those who knew what sort of man Socrates was, such as were lovers of virtue, continue to regret him above all other men, even to the present day, as being most useful to them in their pursuit of virtue. To me, being such as I have described him, so pious that he did nothing without the sanction of the gods; so just, that he wronged no man even in the most trifling affair, but was of service, in the most important matters, to those who enjoyed his society; so temperate, that he never preferred pleasure to virtue; so wise, that he never erred in distinguishing better from worse, needing no counsel from others, but being sufficient in himself to discriminate between them; so able to explain and settle such questions by argument; and besides, so capable of discerning character, of confuting those who were in error, and of exhorting them to virtue and honour, he seemed to be such as the best and happiest of men would be. But if any one disapproves of my opinion, let him compare the conduct of others with that of Socrates, and determine accordingly.



I have always considered the manner, in which Socrates behaved after he had been summoned to his trial, as most worthy of our remembrance; and that, not only with respect to the defence he made for himself, when standing before his judges; but the sentiments he expressed concerning his dissolution. For, although there be many who have written on this subject, and all concur in setting forth the wonderful courage and intrepidity wherewith he spake to the assembly; so that it remaineth incontestable, that Socrates did thus speak;—yet that it was his full persuasion, that death was more eligible for him than life at such a season, they have by no means so clearly manifested; whereby the loftiness of his style, and the boldness of his speech, may wear at least the appearance of being imprudent and unbecoming.

But Hermogenes, the son of Hipponicus, was his intimate friend; and from him it is we have heard those things of Socrates, as sufficiently prove the sublimity of his language was only conformable to the sentiments of his mind. For, having observed him, as he tells us, choosing rather to discourse on any other subject than the business of his trial; he asked him, “If it was not necessary to be preparing for his defence?” And “What!” said he, “my Hermogenes—suppose you I have not spent my whole life in preparing for this very thing?” Hermogenes desiring he would explain himself, “I have,” said he, “steadily persisted, throughout life, in a diligent endeavour to do nothing which is unjust; and this I take to be the best, and most honourable preparation.”

“But see you not,” said Hermogenes, “that ofttimes here in Athens, the judges, influenced by the force of oratory, condemn those to death who no way deserve it; and, not less frequently, acquit the guilty, when softened into compassion by the moving complaints, or the insinuating eloquence of those who plead their cause before them?”

“I know it,” replied Socrates; “and therefore, twice have I attempted to take the matter of my defence under consideration: but the genius always opposed me.”

Hermogenes having expressed some astonishment at these words, Socrates proceeded:

“Doth it then appear marvellous to you, my Hermogenes, that God should think this the very best time for me to die? Know you not, that hitherto I have yielded to no man, that he hath lived more uprightly, or even more pleasurably than myself; possessed, as I was, of that well-grounded self-approbation, arising from the consciousness of having done my duty, both to the gods and men:—my friends also bearing their testimony to the integrity of my conversation! But now—if my life is prolonged and I am spared even to old age—what can hinder, my Hermogenes, the infirmities of old age from falling upon me? My sight will grow dim, my hearing, heavy: less capable of learning, as more liable to forget what I have already learnt; and if, to all this, I become sensible of my decay, and bemoan myself on the account of it, how can I say that I still lived pleasantly? It may be too,” continued Socrates, “that God, through His goodness, hath appointed for me, not only that my life should terminate at a time which seems the most seasonable, but the manner in which it will be terminated shall also be the most eligible: for, if my death is now resolved upon, it must needs be that they who take charge of this matter, will permit me to choose the means supposed the most easy; free, too, from those lingering circumstances which keep our friends in anxious suspense for us, and fill the mind of the dying man with much pain and perturbation. And when nothing offensive—nothing unbecoming, is left on the memory of those who are present; but the man is dissolved while the body is yet found; and the mind still capable of exerting itself benevolently; who can say, my Hermogenes, that so to die is not most desirable? And with good reason,” continued Socrates, “did the gods oppose themselves at what time we took the affair of my escape under deliberation; and determined that every means should be diligently sought after to effect it; since, if our designs had been carried into execution, instead of terminating my life in the manner I am now going; I had only gained the unhappy privilege of finding it put an end to by the torments of some disease, or the lingering decays incident to old age; when all things painful flow in upon us together, destitute of every joy which might serve to soften and allay them.

“Yet think not, my Hermogenes, the desire of death shall influence me beyond what is reasonable; I will not set out with asking it at their hands; but if, when I speak my opinion of myself, and declare what I think I have deserved, both of gods and men, my judges are displeased, I will much sooner submit to it, than meanly intreat the continuance of my life, whereby I should only bring upon myself many, and far greater evils, than any I had taken such unbecoming pains to deprecate.”

In this manner Socrates replied to Hermogenes and others; and his enemies having accused him of “not believing in the gods, whom the city held sacred; but, as designing to introduce other and new deities; and, likewise, of his having corrupted the youth,” Hermogenes farther told me that Socrates, advancing towards the Tribunal, thus spake:

“What I chiefly marvel at, O ye judges! is this: whence Melitus inferreth, that I esteem not those as gods whom the city hold sacred. For that I sacrificed at the appointed festivals, on our common altars, was evident to all others; and might have been to Melitus, had Melitus been so minded. Neither yet doth it seem to be asserted with greater reason that my design was to introduce new deities among us, because I have often said, ‘That it is the voice of God which giveth me significations of what is most expedient;’ since they themselves who observe the chirping of birds, or those ominous words spoken by men, ground their conclusions on no other than voices. For, who among you doubteth whether thunder sendeth forth a voice? or whether it be not the very greatest of all auguries? The Pythian priestess herself; doth not she likewise, from the tripod, declare, by a voice, the divine oracles? And, truly, that God foreknoweth the future; and also showeth it to whomsoever He pleaseth, I am no way singular, either in believing or asserting; since all mankind agree with me herein; this difference only excepted, that whereas they say, it is from auguries, omens, symbols and diviners, whence they have their notices of the future: I, on the contrary, impute all those premonitions, wherewith I am favoured, to a Genius; and I think, that in so doing, I have spoken, not only more truly, but more piously, than they who attribute to birds the divine privilege of declaring things to come; and that I lied not against God, I have this indisputable proof; that whereas I have often communicated to many of my friends the divine counsels, yet hath no man ever detected me of speaking falsely.”

No sooner was this heard, but a murmuring arose among his judges; some disbelieving the truth of what he had said, while others envied him for being, as they thought, more highly favoured of the gods than they. But Socrates, still going on, “Mark,” said he, “I pray; and attend to what is yet more extraordinary, that such of you as are willing may still the more disbelieve that I have been thus favoured of the Deity. Chærephon, inquiring of the oracle at Delphos concerning me, was answered by Apollo himself, in the presence of many people, ‘That he knew no man more free, more just, or more wise than I.”

On hearing this the tumult among them visibly increased; but Socrates, still going on, “And yet, Lycurgus, the Lacedæmonian lawgiver, had still greater things declared of him; for, on his entering into the temple, the Deity thus accosted him, ‘I am considering,’ said he, ‘whether I shall call thee a god, or a man!’ Now Apollo compared me not to a god. This, indeed, he said, ‘That I by far excelled man:’ howbeit, credit not too hastily what ye have heard, though coming from an oracle; but let us thoroughly examine those things which the Deity spake concerning me.

“Say then, where have you ever known any one less enslaved to sensual appetite; whom more free than the man who submits not to receive gift or reward from the hands of any other? Whom can you deservedly esteem more just than he who can so well accommodate himself to what he hath already in his own possession as not even to desire what belongeth to another? Or how can he fail of being accounted wise who, from the time he first began to comprehend what was spoken, never ceased to seek and search out, to the very best of his power, whatever was virtuous and good for man? And, as a proof that in so doing I have not laboured in vain, ye yourselves know that many of our citizens, yea, and many foreigners also, who made virtue their pursuit, always preferred as their chief pleasure the conversing with me. Whence was it, I pray you, that when every one knew my want of power to return any kind of pecuniary favour, so many should be ambitious to bestow them on me? Why doth no man call me his debtor, yet many acknowledge they owe me much? When the city is besieged, and every other person bemoaning his loss, why do I appear as in no respect the poorer than while it remained in its most prosperous state? And what is the cause that when others are under a necessity to procure their delicacies from abroad at an exorbitant rate, I can indulge in pleasures far more exquisite by recurring to the reflections in my own mind? And now, O ye judges! if, in whatsoever I have declared of myself, no one is able to confute me as a false speaker, who will say I merit not approbation, and that not only from the gods, but men!

“Nevertheless, you, O Melitus, have asserted that I—diligently applying myself to the contemplation and practice of whatever is virtuous—‘corrupt the youth;’ and, indeed, we well know what it is to corrupt them. But show us, if in your power, whom of pious I have made impious; of modest, shameless; of frugal, profuse? Who, from temperate is become drunken; from laborious, idle or effeminate by associating with me? Or, where is the man who hath been enslaved, by my means, to any vicious pleasure whatsoever?”

“Nay, verily!” said Melitus, “but I know of many whom thou hast persuaded to obey thee rather than their parents.”

“And with good reason,” replied Socrates, “when the point in question concerned education; since no man but knows that I made this my chief study; and which of you, if sick, prefers not the advice of the physician to his parents? Even the whole body of the Athenian people,—when collected in the public assembly,—do not they follow the opinion of him whom they think the most able, though he be not of their kindred? And, in the choice of a general, do you not to your fathers, brothers, nay even to yourselves, prefer the man whom ye think the best skilled in military discipline?”

“Certainly,” returned Melitus; “neither can any one doubt of its being most expedient.”

“How then could it escape being regarded even by you, Melitus, as a thing deserving the highest admiration; that, while in every other instance the man who excels in any employment is supposed not only entitled to a common regard, but receives many, and those very distinguishing marks of honour, I, on the contrary, am persecuted even to death because I am thought by many to have excelled in that employment which is the most noble; and which hath for its aim the greatest good to mankind, by instructing our youth in the knowledge of their duty, and planting in the mind each virtuous principle!”

Now, doubtless, there were many other things spoken at the trial, not only by Socrates, but his friends, who were most zealous to support him; but I have not been careful to collect all that was spoken, yet think I have done enough to show, and that most plainly, that the design of Socrates in speaking at this time was no other than to exculpate himself from anything that might have the least appearance of impiety towards the gods, or of injustice towards men. For, with regard to death, he was no way solicitous to importune his judges, as the custom was with others: on the contrary, he thought it the best time for him to die. And that he had thus determined with himself was still the more evident after his condemnation; for when he was ordered to fix his own penalty, he refused to do it, neither would he suffer any other to do it for him: saying that to fix a penalty implied a confession of guilt. And afterwards, when his friends would have withdrawn him privately, he would not consent; but asked them with a smile, “If they knew of any place beyond the borders of Attica where death could not approach him?”

The trial being ended, Socrates, as it is related, spake to his judges in the following manner:

“It is necessary, O ye judges, that all they who instructed the witnesses to bear, by perjury, false testimony against me; as well as all those who too readily obeyed their instructions, should be conscious to themselves of much impiety and injustice; but that I, in any wise, should be more troubled and cast down than before my condemnation, I see not, since I stand here unconvicted of any of the crimes whereof I was accused; for no one hath proved against me that I sacrificed to any new deity, or by oath appealed to, or even made mention of, the names of any other than Jupiter, Juno, and the rest of the deities, which, together with these, our city holds sacred; neither have they once shown what were the means I made use of to corrupt the youth at the very time that I was enuring them to a life of patience and frugality. As for those crimes to which our laws have annexed death as the only proper punishment—sacrilege, man-stealing, undermining of walls, or betraying of the city—my enemies do not even say that any of these things were ever once practised by me. Wherefore I the rather marvel that ye have now judged me worthy to die.

“But it is not for me to be troubled on that account; for if I die unjustly, the shame must be theirs who put me unjustly to death; since, if injustice is shameful, so likewise every act of it; but no disgrace can it bring on me, that others have not seen that I was innocent. Palamedes likewise affords me this farther consolation; for being, like me, condemned undeservedly, he furnishes, to this very day, more noble subjects for praise than the man who had iniquitously caused his destruction; and I am persuaded that I also shall have the attestation of the time to come, as well as of that which is past already; that I never wronged any man or made him more depraved; but, contrariwise, have steadily endeavoured throughout life to benefit those who conversed with me; teaching them, to the very utmost of my power, and that without reward, whatever could make them wise and happy.”

Saying this, he departed; the cheerfulness of his countenance, his gesture and whole deportment bearing testimony to the truth of what he had just declared. And, seeing some of those who accompanied him weeping, he asked what it meant? and why they were now afflicted? “For knew ye not,” said he, “long ago, even by that whereof I was produced, that I was born mortal? If, indeed, I had been taken away, when the things which are most desirable flowed in upon me abundantly, with good reason it might have been lamented, and by myself as well as others. But if I am only to be removed when difficulties of every kind are ready to break in upon me, we ought rather to rejoice, as though my affairs went on the most prosperously.”

Apollodorus being present, one who loved Socrates extremely, though otherwise a weak man, he said to him, “But it grieveth me, my Socrates, to have you die so unjustly!” Socrates, with much tenderness, laying his hand upon his head, answered, smiling, “And what, my much-loved Apollodorus! wouldst thou rather they had condemned me justly?”

It is likewise related that on seeing Anytus pass by, “There goes a man,” said he, “not a little vainglorious on supposing he shall have achieved something great and noble in putting me to death because I once said, ‘that since he himself had been dignified with some of the chief offices in the city, it was wrong in him to breed up his son to the trade of a tanner;’ but he must be a fool,” continued Socrates, “who seeth not that he who at all times performs things useful and excellent is alone the hero. And truly,” added Socrates, “as Homer makes some who were near the time of their dissolution look forward into futurity, I, likewise, have a mind to speak somewhat oraculously. Now it happened I was once for a short time with this same son of Anytus; and plainly perceiving he neither wanted talents nor activity, therefore I said it was not fitting that the young man should continue in such a station. But continuing as he still doth, destitute at the same time of any virtuous instructor to guide and restrain him within the bounds of duty, he must soon fall a prey to some evil inclination that will hurry him headlong into vice and ruin.”

And in thus speaking Socrates prophesied not untruly; for the young man delighted so much in wine that he ceased not drinking whether night or day; whereby he became perfectly useless to his country, to his friends, and even to himself. The memory of Anytus was likewise held in the highest detestation; and that not only on the account of his other crimes, but for the scandalous manner in which he had educated his son.

Now it cannot be doubted but Socrates, by speaking thus highly of himself, incurred the more envy, and made his judges still the more eager to condemn him: yet I think, indeed, he only obtained that fate which the gods decree to those they most love: a discharge from life when life is become a burthen; and that, by a means, of all others the most easy. Yet here, as well as on every other occasion, Socrates demonstrated the firmness of his soul. For although he was fully persuaded that to die would be the best for him, yet did he not discover any anxious solicitude, any womanish longings for the hour of his dissolution, but waited its approach with the same steady tranquillity and unaffected complacency with which he afterwards went out of life. And truly, when I consider the wisdom and greatness of soul, so essential to this man, I find it not more out of my power to forget him than to remember and not praise him. And if among those who are most studious to excel in virtue there be any who hath found a person to converse with more proper than Socrates, for promoting his design, verily we may well pronounce him the most fortunate of all mankind.


I. I am of opinion that as well the sayings as the actions of great men deserve to be recorded, whether they treat of serious subjects with the greatest application of mind, or, giving themselves some respite, unbend their thoughts to diversions worthy of them. You will know, by the relation I am going to make, what it was inspired me with this thought, being myself present.

During the festival of Minerva there was a solemn tournament whither Callias, who tenderly loved Autolicus, carried him, which was soon after the victory which that youth had obtained at the Olympic games. When the show was over, Callias, taking Autolicus and his father with him, went down from the city to his house at the Piræum, with Nicerates the son of Nicias.

But upon the way meeting Socrates, Hermogenes, Critobulus, Antisthenes and Charmides discoursing together, he gave orders to one of his people to conduct Autolicus and those of his company to his house, and addressing himself to Socrates and those who were with him, “I could not,” says he, “have met with you more opportunely; I treat to-day Autolicus and his father, and if I am not deceived, persons who like you have their souls purified by refined contemplations would do much more honour to our assembly than your colonels of horse, captains of foot, and other gentlemen of business, who are full of nothing but their offices and employments. You are always upon the banter, said Socrates; for since you gave so much money to Protagoras, Gorgias and Prodicus to be instructed in wisdom, you make but little account of us, who have no other assistance but from ourselves to acquire knowledge. It is true, said Callias, hitherto I have concealed from you a thousand fine things I learnt in the conversation of those gentlemen; but if you will sup with me this evening, I will teach you all I know, and after that, I do not doubt, you will say I am a man of consequence.

Socrates and the rest thanked him with the civility that was due to a person of so high a rank that had invited them in so obliging a manner; and Callias, showing an unwillingness to be refused, they at last accepted the invitation, and went along with him. After they had done bathing and anointing, as was the custom before meals, they all went into the eating-room, where Autolicus was seated by his father’s side, and each of the rest took his place according to his age or quality.

The whole company became immediately sensible of the power of beauty, and every one at the same time silently confessed that by natural right the sovereignty belonged to it, especially when attended with modesty and a virtuous bashfulness. Now Autolicus was one of that kind of beauties; and the effect which the sight of so lovely a person produced was to attract the eyes of the whole company to him as one would do to flashes of lightning in a dark night. All hearts surrendered to his power and paid homage to the sweet and noble mien and features of his countenance and the manly gracefulness of his shape.

It is very certain that in those who are divinely inspired by some good dæmon there appears something which makes them beheld with the strictest attention and a pleasing astonishment; whereas those who are possessed by some evil genius or power, besides the terror that appears in their looks, they talk in a tone that strikes horror, and have a sort of unbounded vehemence in all they say and do that comes but little short of madness. Thence it is, as it was in this case, that those who are touched with a just and well regulated love discover in their eyes a charming sweetness, in the tone of the voice a musical softness, and in their whole deportment something that expresses in dumb show the innate virtue of their soul.

At length they sat down to supper, and a profound silence was observed, as though it had been enjoined, when a certain buffoon named Philip knocked at the door and bade the servant that opened it tell the gentlemen he was there, and that he came to sup with them; adding, there was no occasion to deliberate whether he should let him in, for that he was perfectly well furnished with everything that could be necessary towards supping well on free-cost, his boy being weary with carrying nothing in his belly, and himself extremely fatigued with running about to see where he could fill his own. Callias, understanding the arrival of this new guest, ordered him to be let in, saying, we must not refuse him his dish, and at the same time turned his eyes towards Autolicus, to discover, probably, the judgment he made of what had passed in the company with relation to him; but Philip coming into the room, “Gentlemen,” says he, “you all know I am a buffoon by profession, and therefore am come of my own accord. I chose rather to come uninvited than put you to the trouble of a formal invitation, having an aversion to ceremony.” “Very well,” said Callias, “take a place, then, Philip; the gentlemen here are full of serious thoughts, and I fancy they will have occasion for somebody to make them laugh.”

While supper lasted Philip failed not to serve them up now and then a dish of his profession; he said a thousand ridiculous things; but not having provoked one smile, he discovered sufficient dissatisfaction. Some time after he fell to it again, and the company heard him again without being moved. Thereupon up he got, and throwing his cloak over his head, laid himself down at his full length on his couch without eating one bit more. What is the matter? says Callias; has any sudden illness taken you? Alas, cried he, fetching a deep sigh from his heart, the quickest and most sensible pain that ever I felt in my whole life, for since there is no more laughing in the world, it is plain my business is at an end, and I have nothing now to do but to make a decent exit. Heretofore I have been called to every jolly entertainment to divert the company with my buffooneries; but to what purpose should they now invite me? I can as soon become a god as say one serious word, and to imagine any one will give me a meal in hopes of a return in kind is a mere jest, for my spit was never yet laid down for supper; such a custom never entered my doors.

While Philip talked in this manner he held his handkerchief to his eyes and personated to admiration a man grievously afflicted. Upon which every one comforted him, and promised if he would eat they would laugh as much as he pleased. The pity which the company showed Philip having made Critobulus almost burst his sides, Philip uncovered his face and fell to his supper again, saying, Rejoice, my soul, and take courage, this will not be thy last good meal; I see thou wilt yet be good for something.

II. They had now taken away and made effusion of wine in honour of the gods, when a certain Syracusian entered, leading in a handsome girl, who played on the flute, another that danced and showed very nimble feats of activity, and a beautiful little boy, who danced, and played perfectly well on the guitar. After these had sufficiently diverted the company, Socrates, addressing himself to Callias, In truth, says he, you have treated us very handsomely, and have added to the delicacy of eating other things delightful to our seeing and hearing.

But we want perfumes to make up the treat, answered Callias, what say you to that? Not at all, replied Socrates; perfumes like habits are to be used according to decency: some become men, and others women; but I would not that one man should perfume himself for the sake of another; and for the women, especially such as the wife of Critobulus or Nicerates, they have no occasion for perfumes, their natural sweetness supplying the want of them. But it is otherwise if we talk of the smell of that oil that is used in the Olympic games or other places of public exercise; this indeed is sweeter to the men than perfumes to the women; and when they have been for some time disused to it, they only think on it with a greater desire. If you perfume a slave and a freeman, the difference of their birth produces none in the smell; and the scent is perceived as soon in the one as the other; but the odour of honourable toil, as it is acquired with great pains and application, so it is ever sweet and worthy of a brave man. This is agreeable to young men, said Lycon, but as for you and me, who are past the age of these public exercises, what perfumes ought we to have? That of virtue and honour, said Socrates.

Lycon. And where is this sort of perfume to be had?

Soc. Not in the shops, I assure you.

Lycon. Where, then?

Soc. Theognis sufficiently discovers where when he tells us in his poem,

When virtuous thoughts warm the celestial mind

With generous heat, each sentiment’s refin’d;

The immortal perfumes breathing from the heart,

With grateful odours, sweeten every part.

But when our vicious passions fire the soul,

The clearest fountains grow corrupt and foul;

The virgin springs which should untainted flow,

Run thick, and blacken all the stream below.

Do you understand this, my son, said Lycon to Autolicus? He not only understands it, but will practise it too, said Socrates, and I am satisfied when he comes to contend for that noble prize he will choose a master to instruct him such as you shall approve of, who will be capable of giving him rules to attain it.

Then they began all to reassume what Socrates had said; one affirmed there was no master to be found that was qualified to instruct others in virtue; another said it could not be taught; and a third maintained that if virtue could not be taught, nothing else could. Very well, said Socrates; but since we cannot agree at present in our opinions about this matter, let us defer the question to another opportunity and apply ourselves to what is before us; for I see the dancing girl entering at the other end of the hall; and she has brought her cymbals along with her. At the same time the other girl took her flute, the one played and the other danced to admiration; the dancing girl throwing up and catching again her cymbals so as to answer exactly the cadency of the music, and that with a surprising dexterity. Socrates, who observed her with pleasure, thought it deserved some reflection; and therefore, said he, this young girl has confirmed me in the opinion I have had of a long time, that the female sex are nothing inferior to ours, excepting only in strength of body, or perhaps steadiness of judgment. Now you gentlemen that have wives amongst us may take my word for it, they are capable of learning anything you are willing they should know to make them more useful to you. If so, sir, said Antisthenes, if this be the real sentiment of your heart, how comes it you do not instruct Xantippe, who is, beyond dispute, the most insupportable woman that is, has been, or ever will be? I do with her, said Socrates, like those who would learn horsemanship; they do not choose easy tame horses, or such as are manageable at pleasure, but the highest mettled and hardest mouthed, believing if they can tame the natural heat and impetuosity of these, there can be none too hard for them to manage. I propose to myself very near the same thing, for having designed to converse with all sorts of people, I believed I should find nothing to disturb me in their conversation or manners, being once accustomed to bear the unhappy temper of Xantippe.

The company relished what Socrates said, and the thought appeared very reasonable. Then a hoop being brought in, with swords fixed all around it, their points upwards, and placed in the middle of the hall, the dancing girl immediately leapt head foremost into it through the midst of the points and then out again with a wonderful agility. This sight gave the company more surprise and fear than pleasure, every one believing she would wound herself; but she received no harm, and performed her feats with all the courage and assurance imaginable.

The company may say what they please, said Socrates, but if I am not mistaken nobody will deny but courage may be learnt, and that there are masters for this virtue in particular; though they will not allow it in the other virtues we were just now speaking of; since a girl, you see, has the courage to throw herself through the midst of naked swords which I believe none of us dare venture upon. Truly, said Antisthenes, to whom Socrates spoke, the Syracusian may soon make his fortune if he would but show this girl in a full theatre, and promise the Athenians that for a considerable sum of money he would instruct them to be as little afraid of the Lacedæmonian lances as this girl of her swords. Ah! cries the buffoon, what pleasure should I take to see Pisander, that grave counsellor of state, taking lessons from this girl; he that is like to swoon away at the sight of a lance, and says it is a barbarous cruel custom to go to war and kill men.

After this the little boy danced, which gave occasion to Socrates to say, you see this child who appeared beautiful enough before is yet much more so now, by his gesture and motion, than when he stood still. You talk, said Charmides, as if you were inclinable to esteem the trade of a dancing-master. Without doubt, said Socrates, when I observe the usefulness of that exercise, and how the feet, the legs, the neck, and indeed the whole body are all in action, I believe whoever would have his body supple, easy, and healthful should learn to dance. And in good earnest I am resolved to take a lesson of the Syracusian whenever he pleases. But it was replied, when you have learnt to do all this little boy does, what advantage can it be to you? I shall then dance, said Socrates. At which all the company burst out a-laughing; but Socrates, with a composed and serious countenance, methinks you are pleasant, said he; what is it tickles you? is it because dancing is not a wholesome exercise, or that after it we do not eat and sleep with more pleasure? You know those who accustom themselves to the long foot-race have generally thick legs and narrow shoulders; and on the contrary, our gladiators and wrestlers have broad shoulders and small legs. Now, instead of producing such effects, the exercise of dancing occasions in us so many various motions, and agitating all the members of the body with so equal a poise, renders the whole of a just proportion, both with regard to strength and beauty. What reason then can you find to laugh when I tell you I design to dance? I hope you would not think it decent for a man of my age to go into a public school and unrobe myself before all the company to dance; I need not do that; a parlour like this we are in will serve my turn. You may see by this little boy that one may sweat as well in a little room as an academy or a public place; and in a winter you may dance in a warm apartment; in summer, if the heat be excessive, in the shade. When I have told you all this, laugh on, if you please, at my saying I design to dance. Besides, you know I have a belly something larger than I could wish; and are you surprised if I endeavour to bring it down by exercise? Have you not heard that Charmides, the other morning, when he came to visit me, found me dancing? Very true, said Charmides, and I was extremely surprised, and afraid you had lost your senses; but when you had given me the same reasons you have now, I went back to my house, and, though I cannot dance, I began to move my hands and legs and practise over some lessons which I remembered something of when I was young.

Faith, said Philip to Socrates, I believe your thighs and shoulders are exactly of the same weight, so that if you put one into one scale, and the other into the other, as the civil magistrate weighs bread in the market-place, you will not be in danger of being forfeited, for there is not an ounce, no, not a grain difference between them. Well, then, said Callias, when you have an inclination for a lesson of dancing, Socrates, pray call upon me, that we may learn together. With all my heart, answered Socrates. And I could wish, said Philip, that some one would take the flute and I let Socrates and me dance before this good company; for methinks I have a mighty mind that way. With that he jumped up and took two or three frisks round the hall in imitation of the dancing boy and girl. Upon which everybody took notice that all those gestures or motions that were so beautiful and easy in the little boy appeared awkward and ridiculous in Philip; and when the little girl, bending backwards, touched her heels with her head and flung herself swiftly round three or four times like a wheel, Philip would needs do the same, but in a manner very different; for bending himself forward, and endeavouring to turn round, you may imagine with what success he came off. Afterwards, when every one praised the child for keeping her whole body in the exactest and most regular motion in the dance, Philip bade the music strike up a brisker tune and began to move his head, his arms and his heels all at once, till he could hold out no longer; then, throwing himself on the couch, he cried out, I have exercised myself so thoroughly that I have already one good effect of it, I am plaguey thirsty. Boy, bring the great glass that stands on the sideboard and fill it up to me, for I must drink. Very well, said Callias, the whole company shall drink, if you please, master Philip, for we are thirsty too with laughing at you. It is my opinion, too, said Socrates, that we drink; wine moistens and tempers the spirits and lulls the cares of the mind to rest, as opium does the body. On the other hand it revives our joys, and is oil to the dying flame of life. It is with our bodies as with seeds sown in the earth; when they are over-watered they cannot shoot forth, and are unable to penetrate the surface of the ground; but when they have just so much moisture as is requisite, we may behold them break through the clod with vigour; and pushing boldly upwards, produce their flowers and then their fruits. It is much the same thing with us; if we drink too much, the whole man is deluged, his spirits are overwhelmed, and is so far from being able to talk reasonably, or indeed to talk at all, that it is with the utmost pain he draws his breath. But if we drink temperately and small draughts at a time, the wine distils upon our lungs like sweetest morning dew (to use the words of that noble orator Gorgias). It is then the wine commits no rape upon our reason, but pleasantly invites us to agreeable mirth. Every one was of his opinion, and Philip said he had something to offer, which was this: your servants, said he, that wait at the sideboard should imitate good coachmen, who are never esteemed such till they can turn dexterously and quick. The advice was immediately put in practice, and the servants went round and filled every man his glass.

III. Then the little boy, tuning his guitar to the flute, sung and played at the same time; which gave mighty satisfaction to all the company. Upon this Charmides spoke. What Socrates, said he, just now offered about the effects of wine may, in my opinion, with little difference, be applied to music and beauty, especially when they are found together; for I begin, in good earnest, to be sensible that this fine mixture buries sorrow, and is at the same time the parent of love. Whereupon Socrates took occasion to say, if these people are thus capable of diverting us, I am well assured we are now capable ourselves, and I believe nobody here doubts it. In my judgment it would be shameful for us, now we are met together, not to endeavour to benefit one another by some agreeable or serious entertainment. What say you, gentlemen? They generally replied, begin then the discourse from which we are to hope so good an effect. I hope, said Socrates, to obtain that favour of Callias, if he would but give us a taste of those fine things he learnt of Prodicus: you know he promised us this, when we came to sup with him. With all my heart, said Callias; I am willing, but on condition that you will all please to contribute to the conversation, and every one tell, in his turn, what it is he values himself most upon. Be it so, said Socrates. I will tell you, then, added Callias, what I esteem most and value myself chiefly upon; it is this, that I have it in my power to make men better. How so, said Antisthenes, will you teach them to become rich or honest? Justice is honesty, replied Callias. You are in the right, said Antisthenes, I do not dispute it; for though there are some occasions when even courage or wisdom may be hurtful to one’s friends or the government, yet justice is ever the same, and can never mix with dishonesty. When therefore every one of us, says Callias, has told wherein he chiefly values himself, and is most useful to others, I shall then likewise make no scruple to tell you by what arts I am able to perform what I told you; that is, to make men better.

Soc. But, Nicerates, what is the thing that you value yourself most upon?

Nic. It is that my father, designing to make a virtuous man of me, ordered me to get by heart every verse of Homer; and I believe I can repeat you at this minute the whole Iliad and Odysses. But you know very well, said Antisthenes, every public rehearser or ballad-singer does the same at all the corners of the streets. I acknowledge it, said Nicerates, nor does a day pass but I go to hear them.

Ant. I think them a pack of scandalous wretches. What say you?

Nic. I am of your opinion.

Soc. It is certain they do not know the sense of one verse they recite; but you who have given so much money to Hesimbrotus, Anaximander and other wise men to instruct you in wisdom, you cannot be ignorant of anything.

Now it is your turn, Critobulus, continued Socrates; tell us, then, if you please, what is it you value yourself most upon? On beauty, replied he. But will you say, Socrates, that yours is such as will help to make us better?

Soc. I understand you, but if I do not make that out anon, then blame me. What says Antisthenes? Upon what does he value himself?

Ant. I think I can value myself upon nothing in this world equal to that of being rich.

He had scarce done speaking when Hermogenes took him up and asked him how much he was worth? Faith, not one halfpenny, said Antisthenes.

Her. But you have a good estate in land.

Ant. I may perhaps have just as much as may afford dust for Autolicus the next time he has a mind to wrestle.

Soc. Charmides, will you, in few words, acquaint us what it is you value yourself most upon?

Char. Poverty.

Soc. Very well; you have made an excellent choice; it is indeed in itself of an admirable nature; nobody will be your rival; you may preserve it without care, and even negligence is its security. There are not small reasons, you see.

Call. But since you have asked the whole company, may we not inquire of you, Socrates, what it is you value yourself upon?

When Socrates, putting on a very grave and solemn air, answered coldly and without hesitation, I value myself upon procuring. The gravity of the speaker, and the manner of speaking a word so little expected from Socrates, set the whole company a-laughing. Very well, gentlemen, said he, I am glad you are pleased, but I am very certain this profession of mine, if I apply myself closely to it, will bring in money enough if I pleased.

When Lycon, pointing to Philip, well, what say you? You, I suppose, value yourself upon making men laugh? Yes, certainly, said Philip, and have I not more reason to be proud of myself for this than that fine spark Callipides, who is so fond, you know, of making his audience weep when he recites his verses in the theatre? But, Lycon, said Antisthenes, let us know what it is you value yourself most upon? What gives you greatest content? You know very well, answered he, what I esteem the most, and which gives me the greatest pleasure: it is to be the father of such a son as Autolicus.

And for your son, said some of the company, he, no question, values himself most upon carrying the prize the other day at the Olympic games. Not so, I assure you, said Autolicus, blushing. And then the whole company, turning their eyes with pleasure towards him, one of them asked him, what is it then, Autolicus, you value yourself most upon? It is, replied he, that I am the son of such a father; and at the same time turned himself lovingly towards him for a kiss. Callias, who observed it, said to Lycon, do not you know yourself to be the richest man in the world? I cannot tell that, replied Lycon; and yet it is true, said Callias, for you would not change this son of yours for the wealth of Persia.

Lycon. Be it so, I am then the richest man in the world, nor will I contradict your opinion.

Then Nicerates, addressing himself to Hermogenes, what is it, said he, that you value yourself most upon? On virtue, answered he, and the power of my friends; and that with these two advantages I have yet the good fortune to be beloved by these friends.

Then every one, looking upon him, began to inquire who were his friends? “I will satisfy you,” said he, “as you shall see when it comes to my turn.”

IV. Then Socrates resumed the discourse; now you have all, said he, declared your opinions as to what you value yourselves most upon; it remains that you prove it. Let us now, then, hear every man’s reasons, if you please, for his opinion.

Hear me first, then, said Callias, for though you have all been long inquiring what justice is, I alone have found the secret to make men just and honest.

Soc. How so?

Call. By giving them money.

At these words, Antisthenes, rising up, asked him hastily, is justice to be found in the heart or the pocket?

Call. In the heart.

Ant. And would you then make us believe that by filling a bag with money you can make the heart honest or just?

Call. Most assuredly.

Ant. How?

Call. Because when they have all things necessary for life, they will not for the world run any hazard by committing evil actions.

Ant. But do they repay you again what they receive of you?

Call. Not at all.

Ant. Nothing but gratitude, I hope, good thanks for good money.

Call. Not that neither; for I can tell you something you will hardly believe; I have found some people of so evil a nature that they love me less for receiving benefits from me. Then Antisthenes replied briskly:

Ant. That is wonderful, you make men just and honest to others, and they prove unjust and dishonest only to you?

Call. Not so wonderful neither! Have we not architects and masons who build houses for other men and live in hired lodgings themselves? Have patience, my master, said he, turning to Socrates, and I will prove this beyond dispute. You need not, said Socrates, for besides what you allege for a proof there is another that occurs to me: do you not see there are certain diviners who pretend to foretell everything to other people and are entirely ignorant of what is to happen to themselves. Socrates said no more.

It is now my turn to speak, said Nicerates; hear then what I am going to say, attend to a conversation which will necessarily make you better and more polite. You all know, or I am much mistaken, there is nothing that relates to human life but Homer has spoke of it. Whoever then would learn Economy, Eloquence, Arms, whoever would be master of every qualification that is to be found in Achilles, Ajax, Ulysses or Nestor, let him but apply himself to me and he shall become perfect in them, for I am entirely master of all that. Very well, said Antisthenes, you have learnt likewise the art of being a king; for you may remember Homer praises Agamemnon for that he was,

A noble warrior and a mighty prince.

Nic. I learnt too from Homer how a coachman ought to turn at the end of his career. He ought to incline his body to the left and give the word to the horse that is on the right, and make use at the same time of a very loose rein. I have learnt all this from him, and another secret too, which, if you please, we will make trial of immediately: the same Homer says somewhere that an onion relishes well with a bottle. Now let some of your servants bring an onion, and you will see with what pleasure you will drink. I know very well, said Charmides, what he means; Nicerates, gentlemen, thinks deeper than you imagine. He would willingly go home with the scent of an onion in his mouth that his wife may not be jealous or suspect he has been kissing abroad. A very good thought, said Socrates, but perhaps I have one full as whimsical and worthy of him: it is, that an onion does not only relish wine but victuals too, and gives a higher seasoning; but if we should eat them now after supper, they would say we had committed a debauch at Callias’s; no, no, said Callias, you can never think so; but onions, they say, are very good to prepare people for the day of battle and inspire courage; you know they feed cocks so against they fight; but our business at present, I presume, is love, not war, and so much for onions.

Then Critobulus began; I am now, said he, to give my reasons why I value myself so much upon my beauty; “if I am not handsome (and I know very well what I think of the matter), you ought all of you to be accounted impostors, for without being obliged to it upon oath, when you were asked what was your opinion of me, you all swore I was handsome; and I thought myself obliged to believe you, being men of honour that scorned a lie; if then I am really handsome, and you feel the same pleasure that I do when I behold another beautiful person, I am ready to call all the gods to witness that were it in my choice either to reign king of Persia or be that beauty, I would quit the empire to preserve my form. In truth, nothing in this world touches me so agreeably as the sight of Kleinias; and I could willingly be blind to all other objects if I might but always enjoy the sight of Kleinias alone.

I curse my slumbers, doubly curse the night,

That hides the lovely boy from my desiring sight:

But, oh! I bless the chearful god’s return,

And welcome with my praise the ruddy morn:

Light with the morn returns, return my fair,

He is my light, the morn restores my dear.

“There is something more in the matter besides this to be considered. A person that is vigorous and strong cannot attain his designs but by his strength and vigour; a brave man by his courage; a scholar by his learning and conversation; but the beautiful person does all this without any pains by being only looked at. I know very well how sweet the possession of wealth is, but I would sacrifice all to Kleinias, and I should with more pleasure give all my estate to him than to receive a thousand times more from any other. I would lay my liberty at his feet if he would accept me for his slave; fatigue would be much more agreeable to me than repose, and dangers than ease if endured in the service of Kleinias. If then you boast yourself so much, Callias, that you can make men honester by your wealth, I have much more reason to believe I am able to produce in them all sorts of virtue by the mere force of beauty; for when beauty inspires, it makes its votaries generous and industrious; they thereby acquire a noble thirst after glory and a contempt of dangers; and all this attended with an humble and respectful modesty; which makes them blush to ask what they wish most to possess. I think the government is stark mad that they do not choose for generals the most beautiful persons in the state; for my part I would go through fire to follow such a commander, and I believe you would all do the same for me. Doubt not, then, Socrates, but beauty may do much good to mankind; nor does it avail to say beauty does soon fade; for there is one beauty of a child, another of a boy, another of a man. There is likewise a beauty of old age, as in those who carry the consecrated branches at the feast of Minerva; for you know for that ceremony they make choice always of the handsomest old men. Now if it is desirable to obtain without trouble what one wishes, I am satisfied that without speaking one word I should sooner persuade that little girl and boy to kiss me than any of you, with all the arguments you can use, no, not you yourself, Socrates, with all the strength of your extolled eloquence.” Why, Critobulus, do you give yourself this air of vanity, said Socrates, as if you were handsomer than me? Doubtless, replied Critobulus, if I have not the advantage of you in beauty, I must be uglier than the Sileni, as they are painted by the poets. (Now Socrates had some resemblance to those figures.)

Soc. Take notice, if you please, that this article of beauty will be soon decided anon, after every one has taken his turn to speak; nor shall we call Paris to make a judgment for us, as he did in the case of the three goddesses about the apple; and all these present, who you would make us believe desire to kiss you, shall determine it.

Crit. And why may not Kleinias be as good a judge of this matter?

Soc. Kleinias must needs have a large possession of your heart, seeing by your goodwill you would never name any other name but his.

Crit. True, and yet when I do not speak of him, do you think he lives not in my memory? I assure you if I were a painter or a statuary, I could draw his picture or statue by the Idea of him in my mind as well as if he were to sit to it.

Soc. Since then you have his image in your heart, and that image resembles him so strongly, why is it that you importune me continually to carry you to places where you are sure to meet him?

Crit. It is because the sight of Kleinias only gives me real joy.

The idea does no solid pleasure give.

He must within my sight, as well as fancy, live.

Hermogenes interrupted the discourse, and addressing himself to Socrates, said, you ought not to abandon Critobulus in the condition he is in, for the violent transport and fury of his passion makes me uneasy for him, and I know not where it may end.

Soc. What? Do you think he is become thus only since he was acquainted with me? You are mightily deceived; for I can assure you this fire has been kindled ever since they were children. Critobulus’s father having observed it, begged of me that I would take care of his son, and endeavour, if I could, by all means, to cure him of it. He is better now; things were worse formerly: for I have seen when Kleinias appeared in company, Critobulus, poor creature, would stand as one struck dead, without motion, and his eyes so fixed upon him as if he had beheld Medusa’s head, insomuch that it was impossible almost for me to bring him to himself.

I remember one day after certain amorous glances (this is between ourselves only) he ran up to him and kissed him; and, heaven knows, nothing gives more fuel to the fire of love than kisses. For this pleasure is not like others, which either lessen or vanish in the enjoyment; on the contrary it gathers strength the more it is repeated; and flattering our souls with sweet and favourable hopes, bewitches our minds with a thousand beautiful images. Thence it may be that to love and to kiss are frequently expressed by the same word in the Greek; and it is for that reason, I think, he that would preserve the liberty of his soul should abstain from kissing handsome people. What then, said Charmides, must I be afraid of coming near the fair? Nevertheless I remember very well, and I believe you do so too, Socrates, that being one day in company with Critobulus, as we were searching together for a passage in some author, you held your head very close to his; and I thought you seemed to take pleasure in touching his naked shoulder with yours. Ah! replied Socrates, I will tell you truly how I was punished for it for five days after; I thought I felt in my shoulder a certain tickling pain as if I had been bit by gnats or pricked with nettles; and I must confess, too, that during all that time I felt a certain, hitherto unknown, pain at my heart. But Critobulus, take notice what I am going to tell you before this good company; it is, that I would not have you come too near me till you have as many hairs upon your chin as your head.

Thus the conversation between these gentlemen was sometimes serious, sometimes in raillery. After this Callias took up the discourse; it is your turn now, says he, Charmides, to tell us what reasons you have for valuing yourself so much upon poverty; I will, replied Charmides, and without delay. “Is anything more certain than that it is better to be brave than a coward, a freeman than a slave, to be credited than distrusted, to be inquired after for your conversation than to court others or theirs? These things I believe may be granted me without much difficulty; now when I was rich, I was in continual fear of having my house broken by thieves and my money stole, or my throat cut upon the account of it. Besides all this, I was forced to keep in fee with some of these pettifogging rascals that retain to the law, who swarm all over the town like so many locusts. This I was forced to do, because they were always in a condition to hurt me; and I had no way to retaliate upon them. Then I was obliged to bear public offices at my own charges, and to pay taxes; nor was it permitted me to go abroad to travel to avoid that expense. But now that my estate which I had without the frontiers of our republic is all gone, and my land in Attica brings me in no rent, and all my household goods are exposed to sale, I sleep wonderfully sound, and stretched upon my bed as one altogether fearless of officers. The government is now no more jealous of me, nor I of it; thieves fright me not, and I myself affright others. I travel abroad when I please; and when I please I stay at Athens. What is to be free, if this is not? Besides, rich men pay respect to me; they run from me to leave me the chair or to give me the wall. In a word, I am now perfectly a king; I was then perfectly a slave. I have yet another advantage from my poverty: I then paid tribute to the republic; now the republic pays tribute to me; for it maintains me. Then every one snarled at me because I was often with Socrates: now that I am poor I may converse with him or any other I please without anybody’s being uneasy at it. I have yet another satisfaction; in the days of my estate either the government or my ill fortune were continually clipping it: now that is all gone, it is impossible to get anything of me; he that has nothing can lose nothing. And I have the continual pleasure of hoping to be worth something again one time or other.”

Do not you pray heartily against riches, says Callias? And if you should happen to dream you were rich, would you not sacrifice to the gods to avert the ill omen? No, no, replied Charmides; but when any flattering hope presents I wait patiently for the success. Then Socrates, turning to Antisthenes, and what reason have you, said he, who have very little or no money, to value yourself upon wealth?

Ant. “Because I am of opinion, gentlemen, that poverty and wealth are not in the coffers of those we call rich or poor, but in the heart only; for I see numbers of very rich men who believe themselves poor; nor is there any peril or labour they will not expose themselves to, to acquire more wealth. I knew two brothers the other day who shared equally their father’s estate. The first had enough and something to spare; the other wanted everything. I have heard likewise of some princes so greedy of wealth that they were more notoriously criminal in the search of it than private men; for though the latter may sometimes steal, break houses, and sell free persons to slavery to support the necessities of life, yet those do much worse: they ravage whole countries, put nations to the sword, enslave free states; and all this for the sake of money, and to fill the coffers of their treasury. The truth is, I have a great deal of compassion for these men when I consider the distemper that afflicts them. Is it not an unhappy condition to have a great deal to eat, to eat a great deal, and yet never be satisfied? For my part, though I confess I have no money at home, yet I want none; because I never eat but just as much as will satisfy my hunger; nor drink but to quench my thirst. I clothe myself in such manner that I am as warm abroad as Callias, with all his great abundance. And when I am at home, the floor and the wall, without mats or tapestry, make my chamber warm enough for me. And as for my bed, such as it is, I find it more difficult to awake than to fall asleep in it. If at any time a natural necessity requires me to converse with women, I part with them as well satisfied as another. For those to whom I make my addresses, having not much practice elsewhere, are as fond of me as if I were a prince. But do not mistake me, gentlemen, for governing my passion in this as in other things: I am so far from desiring to have more pleasure in the enjoyment that I wish it less; because, upon due consideration, I find those pleasures that touch us in the most sensible manner deserve not to be esteemed the most worthy of us. But observe the chief advantage I reap from my poverty; it is, that in case the little I have should be taken entirely from me, there is no occupation so poor, no employment in life so barren, but would maintain me without the least uneasiness, and afford me a dinner without any trouble. For if I have an inclination at any time to regale myself and indulge my appetite, I can do it easily; it is but going to market, not to buy dainties (they are too dear), but my temperance gives that quality to the most common food; and by that means the contentedness of my mind supplies me with delicacies that are wanting in the meat itself. Now it is not the excessive price of what we eat that gives it a relish; but it is necessity and appetite. Of this I have experience just now while I am speaking; for this generous wine of Thasos that I am now drinking, the exquisite flavour of it is the occasion that I drink it now without thirst, and consequently without pleasure. Besides all this, I find it is necessary to live thus in order to live honestly. For he that is content with what he has will never covet what is his neighbour’s. Further, it is certain, the wealth I am speaking of makes men liberal: for Socrates, from whom I have all mine, never gave it me by number or weight; but whenever I was willing to receive he loads me always with as much as I can carry. I do the same by my friends; I never conceal my plenty. On the contrary, I show them all I have, and at the same time I let them share with me. It is from this, likewise, I am become master of one of the most delightful things in the world; I mean that soft and charming leisure that permits me to see everything that is worthy to be seen; and to hear everything that is worthy to be heard. It is, in one word, that which affords me the happiness of hearing Socrates from morning to night; for he, having no great veneration for those that can only count vast sums of gold and silver, converses only with them who he finds are agreeable to him, and deserve his company.” Truly, said Callias, I admire you and these your excellent riches for two reasons: first, that hereby you are no slave to the government; and secondly, that nobody can take it ill you do not lend them money. Pray do not admire him for the last, said Nicerates; for I am about to borrow of him what he most values; that is, to need nothing; for by reading Homer, and especially that passage where he says,

Ten golden talents, seven three-legg’d stools,

Just twenty cisterns, and twelve charging steeds,

I have so accustomed myself from this passage to be always upon numbering and weighing, that I begin to fear I shall be taken for a miser. Upon this they all laughed heartily; for there was nobody there but believed Nicerates spoke what he really thought, and what were his real inclinations.

After this, one spoke to Hermogenes; it is yours now, said he, to tell us who are your friends; and make it appear that if they have much power they have equal will to serve you with it; and consequently that you have reason to value yourself upon them.

Her. There is one thing, gentlemen, universally received among barbarians as well as Greeks; and that is, that the gods know both the present and what is to come; and for that reason they are consulted and applied to by all mankind with sacrifices to know of them what they ought to do. This supposes that they have the power to do us good or evil; otherwise why should we pray to them to be delivered from evils that threaten us, or to grant us the good we stand in need of? Now these very gods, who are both all-seeing and all-powerful, they are so much my friends, and have so peculiar a care of me, that be it night, be it day, whether I go anywhere or take anything in hand, they have me ever in their view and under their protection, and never lose me out of their sight. They foreknow all the events and all the thoughts and actions of us poor mortals; they forewarn us by some secret prescience impressed on our minds, or by some good angel or dream, what we ought to avoid and what we ought to do. For my part, I have never had occasion yet to repent these secret impulses given me by the gods, but have been often punished for neglecting them. There is nothing in what you have said, added Socrates, that should look incredible; but I would willingly hear by what services you oblige the gods to be so much your friends, and to love and take all this care of you? That is done very cheap, and at little or no expense, replied Hermogenes, for the praises I give them cost me nothing. If I sacrifice to them after I have received a blessing from them, that very sacrifice is at their own charge. I return them thanks on all occasions; and if at any time I call them to witness, it is never to a lie, or against my conscience. Truly, said Socrates, if such men as you have the gods for their friends, and I am sure they have, it is certain those gods take pleasure in good actions and the practice of virtue.”

Here ended their serious entertainment. What followed was of another kind; for all of them turning to Philip asked him what it was he found so very valuable in his profession? Have I not reason to be proud of my trade, said he, all the world knowing me to be a buffoon? If any good fortune happens to them, they cheerfully invite me; but when any misfortune comes they avoid me like the plague, lest I should make them laugh in spite of themselves. Nicerates interrupting him, you have reason indeed, said he, to boast of your profession, for it is quite otherwise with me. When my friends have no occasion for me they avoid me like the plague; but in misfortunes they are ever about me, and by a forged genealogy will needs claim kindred with me, and at the same time carry my family up as high as the gods. Very well, said Charmides, now to the rest of the company.

Well, Mr. Syracusian, what is it gives you the greatest satisfaction, or that you value yourself most upon? I suppose it is that pretty little girl of yours. Quite contrary, says he, I have much more pain than pleasure upon her account. I am in constant apprehension and fear when I see certain people so busy about her and trying all insinuating ways to ruin her. Ah! said Socrates, what wrong could they pretend to have received from that poor young creature, to do her a mischief? Would they kill her?

Syr. I do not speak of killing; you do not take me; they would willingly go to bed to her.

Soc. Suppose it were so; why must the girl be ruined therefore?

Syr. Ay, doubtless.

Soc. Do not you lie in bed with her yourself?

Syr. Most certainly, all night long.

Soc. By Juno, thou art a happy fellow to be the only man in the world that doth not ruin those you lie with. Well, then, according to your account, what you are proudest of must be that you are so wholesome and so harmless a bedfellow?

Syr. But you are mistaken; it is not her I value myself for, neither.

Soc. What, then?

Syr. That there are so many fools in the world. For it is these kind of gentlemen who come to see my children dance and sing that supply me with the necessaries of life, which otherwise I might want.

I suppose then, said Philip, that was the meaning of your prayer you made the other day before the altar, when you asked the gods that there might be plenty of everything in this world wherever you came, but of judgment and good sense?

Immortal Beings, grant my humble prayer;

Give Athens all the blessings you can spare;

Let them abound in plenty, peace, and pence,

But never let them want a dearth of sense.

All is well hitherto, said Callias; but, Socrates, what reason have you to make us believe you are fond of the profession you attributed to yourself just now? for really I take it for a scandalous one.

Soc. First let us understand one another; and know in few words what this artist is properly to do whose very name has made you so merry. But, to be brief, let us, in short, fix upon some one thing that we may all agree in. Shall it be so? Doubtless, answered all the company. And during the thread of his discourse they made him no other answer but Doubtless. Having begun so; is it not certainly true, said Socrates, that the business of an artist of that kind is to manage so as that the person they introduce be perfectly agreeable to one that employs him? Doubtless, they replied. Is it not certain, too, that a good face and fine clothes does mightily contribute towards the making such a person agreeable? Doubtless. Do you not observe that the eyes of the same person look, at some times, full of pleasure and kindness; and at other times with an air of aversion and scorn? Doubtless. What, does not the same voice sometimes express itself with modesty and sweetness, and sometimes with anger and fierceness? Doubtless. Are there not some discourses that naturally beget hatred and aversion; and others that conciliate love and affection? Doubtless. If then this artist be excellent in his profession, ought he not to instruct those that are under his direction which way to make themselves agreeable to others in all these things I have mentioned? Doubtless. But who is most to be valued? He who renders them agreeable to one person only, or he that renders them agreeable to many? Are you not for the last? Some of them answered him as before, with Doubtless; and the rest said it was very plain that it was much better to please a great many than a few. That is very well, said Socrates; we agree upon every head hitherto; but what if the person we are speaking of can instruct his pupil to gain the hearts of a whole state? Will you not say he is excellent in his art? This they all agreed was clear. And if he can raise his scholars to such perfection, has he not reason to be proud of his profession? And deserves he not to receive a handsome reward? Every one answered it was their opinion he did. Now, said Socrates, if there is such a man to be found in the world, it is Antisthenes, or I am mistaken.

Ant. How, Socrates! Will you make me one of your scurvy profession?

Soc. Certainly, for I know you are perfectly skilled in what may properly be called an Appendix to it.

Ant. What is that?

Soc. Bringing people together.

To this Antisthenes with some concern replied, Did you ever know me guilty of a thing of this kind?

Soc. Yes, but keep your temper. You procured Callias for Prodicus, finding the one was in love with philosophy, and the other in want of money. You did the same before, in procuring Callias for Hippias, who taught him the art of memory, and he is become such a proficient that he is more amorous now than ever; for whatever beauty he sees he can never forget, so perfectly has he learnt of Hippias the art of memory. You have done yet more than this, Antisthenes; for lately praising a friend of yours, of Heraclea, to me, it gave me a great desire to be acquainted with him. At the same time you praised me to him, which occasioned his desire to be acquainted with me; for which I am mightily obliged to you, for I find him a very worthy man. Praising likewise in the same manner Esquilius to me, and me to him, did not your discourse inflame us both with such mutual affection that we searched every day for one another with the utmost impatience till we became acquainted? Now, having observed you capable of bringing about such desirable things, had not I reason to say you are an excellent bringer of people together? I know very well that one who is capable of being useful to his friend in fomenting mutual friendship and love between that friend and another he knows to be worthy of him, is likewise capable of begetting the same disposition between towns and states: he is able to make state-marriages; nor has our republic or our allies a subject that may be more useful to them. And yet you were angry with me, as if I had affronted you when I said you were master of this art.

Ant. That is true, Socrates; but my anger is now over, and were I really what you say I am, I must have a soul incomparably rich.

V. Now you have heard in what manner every one spoke, when Callias began again, and said to Critobulus, will you not then venture into the lists with Socrates and dispute beauty with him?

Soc. I believe not; for he knows my art gives me some interest with the judges.

Crit. Come, I will not refuse to enter the lists for once with you; pray, then, use all your eloquence, and let us know how you prove yourself to be handsomer than me.

Soc. That shall be done presently; bring but a light, and the thing is done.

Crit. But in order to state the question well, you will give me leave to ask a few questions?

Soc. I will.

Crit. But, on second thoughts, I will give you leave to ask what questions you please first.

Soc. Agreed. Do you believe beauty is nowhere to be found but in man?

Crit. Yes, certainly, in other creatures too, whether animate, as a horse or bull, or inanimate things, as we say, that is a handsome sword, or a fine shield, etc.

Soc. But how comes it, then, that things so very different as these should yet all of them be handsome?

Crit. Because they are well made, either by art or nature, for the purposes they are employed in.

Soc. Do you know the use of eyes?

Crit. To see.

Soc. Well! it is for that very reason mine are handsomer than yours.

Crit. Your reason?

Soc. Yours see only in a direct line; but as for mine, I can look not only directly forward as you, but sideways too, they being seated on a kind of ridge on my face and staring out.

Crit. At that rate a crab has the advantage of all other animals in matter of eyes.

Soc. Certainly; for theirs are incomparably more solid and better situated than any other creature’s.

Crit. Be it so as to eyes; but as to your nose, would you make me believe that yours is better shaped than mine?

Soc. There is no room for doubt, if it be granted, that God made the nose for the sense of smelling; for your nostrils are turned downward, but mine are wide and turned up towards heaven. To receive smells that come from every part, whether from above or below.

Crit. What! is a short flat nose then more beautiful than another?

Soc. Certainly; because being such, it never hinders the sight of both eyes at once; whereas a high nose parts the eyes so much by its rising that it hinders their seeing both of them in a direct line.

Crit. As to your mouth, I grant it you, for if God has given us a mouth to eat with, it is certain yours will receive and chew as much at once as mine at thrice.

Soc. Do not you believe, too, that my kisses are more luscious and sweet than yours, having my lips so thick and large?

Crit. According to your reckoning, then, an ass’s lips are more beautiful than mine.

Soc. And lastly, I must excel you in beauty for this reason; the Naiades, notwithstanding they are sea-goddesses, are said to have brought forth the Sileni; and sure I am much more like them than you can pretend to be. What say you to that?

Crit. I say it is impossible to hold a dispute with you, Socrates; and therefore let us determine this point by ballotting, and so we shall know presently who has the best of it, you or I; but pray let it be done in the dark, lest Antisthenes’ riches and your eloquence should corrupt the judges.

Whereupon the little dancing boy and girl brought in the ballotting box, and Socrates called at the same time for a flambeau to be held before Critobulus that the judges might not be surprised in their judgment. He desired likewise that the conqueror, instead of garters and ribbands, as were usual in such victories, should receive a kiss from every one of the company. After this they went to ballotting, and it was carried unanimously for Critobulus. Whereupon Socrates said to him, indeed, Critobulus, your money has not the same effect with Callias’s, to make men juster; for yours, I see, is able to corrupt a judge upon the bench.

VI. After this some of the company told Critobulus he ought to demand the kisses due to his victory; and the rest said it was proper to begin with him who made the proposition. In short, every one was pleasant in his way except Hermogenes, who spoke not one word all the time, which obliged Socrates to ask him if he knew the meaning of the word Paroinia?

Her. If you ask me what it is precisely, I do not know; but if you ask my opinion of it, perhaps I can tell you what it may be.

Soc. That is enough.

Her. I believe then that Paroinia signifies the pain and uneasiness we undergo in the company of people that we are not pleased with. Be assured then, said Socrates, this is what has occasioned that prudent silence of yours all this time.

Her. How my silence? When you were all speaking.

Soc. No, but your silence when we have done speaking and made a full stop.

Her. Well said, indeed! No sooner one has done, but another begins to speak; and I am so far from being able to get in a sentence that I cannot find room to edge in a syllable. Ah, then, said Socrates, cannot you assist a man that is thus out of humour? Yes, said Callias; for I will be bold to say when the music begins again everybody will be silent as well as Hermogenes.

Her. You would have me do then as the poet Nicostrates, who used to recite his grand Iambics to the sound of his flute. And it would be certainly very pretty if I should talk to you all the time the music played; for God’s sake do so, said Socrates, for as the harmony is the more agreeable that the voice and the instrument go together, so your discourse will be more entertaining for the music that accompanies it; and the more delightful still if you give life to your words by your gesture and motion, as the little girl does with her flute. But when Antisthenes, said Callias, is pleased to be angry in company, what flute will be tuneable enough to his voice?

Ant. I do not know what occasion there will be for flutes tuned to my voice; but I know that when I am angry with any one, in dispute, I am loud enough, and I know my own weak side.

As they were talking thus the Syracusian, observing they took no great notice of anything he could show them, but that they entertained one another with subjects out of his road, he was out of all temper with Socrates, who he saw gave occasion at every turn for some new discourse. Are you, said he to him, that Socrates who is surnamed the Contemplative?

Soc. Yes, said Socrates; and is it not much more preferable to be called so than by another name for some opposite quality?

Syr. Let that pass; but they do not only say in general that Socrates is contemplative, but that he contemplates things that are sublime.

Soc. Know you anything in the world so sublime and elevated as the gods?

Syr. No; but I am told your contemplations run not that way; they say they are but trifling, and that in stretching after things above your reach your inquiries are good for nothing.

Soc. It is by this, if I deceive not myself, that I attain to the knowledge of the gods, for it is from above that the gods make us sensible of their assistance; it is from above they inspire us with knowledge. But if what I have said appears dry and insipid, you are the cause for forcing me to answer you.

Syr. Let us then talk of something else; tell me then the just measure of the skip of a flea, for I hear you are a subtle geometrician and understand the mathematics perfectly well.

But Antisthenes, who was displeased with his discourse, addressing himself to Philip, told him, you are wonderful happy, I know, in making comparisons; pray who is this Syracusian like, Philip; does he not resemble a man that is apt to give affronts and say shocking things in company? Faith, said Philip, he appears so to me, and I believe to everybody else. Have a care, said Socrates, do not affront him, lest you fall under the same character yourself that you would give him.

Phil. Suppose I compare him to a well-bred person, I hope nobody will say I affront him then?

Soc. So much the more, said Socrates; such a comparison must needs affront him to some purpose.

Phil. Would you then that I compare him to some one that is neither honest nor good?

Soc. By no means.

Phil. Who must I compare him to then? To nobody?

Soc. Nobody.

Phil. But it is not proper we should be silent at a feast.

Soc. That is true, but it is as true we ought rather to be silent than say anything we ought not to say.

VII. Thus ended the dispute between Socrates and Philip; however, some of the company were for having Philip make his comparisons, others were against it, as not liking that sort of diversion; so that there was a great noise about it in the room. Which Socrates, observing, very well, said he, since you are for speaking all together, it were as well in my opinion that we should sing together, and with that he began to sing himself. When he had done they brought the dancing girl one of those wheels the potters use with which she was to divert the company in turning herself round it. Upon which Socrates, turning to the Syracusian, I believe I shall pass for a contemplative person indeed, said he, as you called me just now, for I am now considering how it comes to pass that those two little actors of yours give us pleasure in seeing them perform their tricks without any pain to themselves, which is what I know you design. I am sensible that for the little girl to jump head foremost into the hoop of swords with their points upwards, as she has done just now, must be a very dangerous leap, but I am not convinced that such a spectacle is proper for a feast; I confess likewise it is a surprising sight to see a person writing and reading at the same time that she is carried round with the motion of the wheel as the girl has done; but yet I must own it gives me no great pleasure. For would it not be much more agreeable to see her in a natural easy posture than putting her handsome body into an unnatural agitation merely to imitate the motion of a wheel? Neither is it so rare to meet with surprising and wonderful sights, for here is one before our eyes, if you please to take notice of it. Why does that lamp, whose flame is pure and bright, give all the light to the room when that looking-glass gives none at all; and yet represents distinctly all objects in its surface? Why does that oil which is in its own nature wet augment the flame, and that water which is wet likewise extinguish it? But these questions are not proper at this time; and indeed if the two children were to dance to the sound of the flute, dressed in the habits of nymphs, the Graces, or the four seasons of the year, as they are commonly painted, they might undergo less pain and we receive more pleasure. You are in the right, sir, said the Syracusian to Socrates, and I am going to represent something of that kind that certainly must divert you; and at the same time went out to make it ready, when Socrates began a new discourse.

VIII. “What then,” said he, “must we part without saying a word of the attributes of that great dæmon or power who is present here, and equals in age the immortal gods, though to look at he resembles but a child? That dæmon who, by his mighty power, is master of all things; and yet is ingrafted into the very essence and constitution of the soul of man (I mean love). We may, indeed, with reason extol his empire as having more experience of it than the vulgar, who are not initiated into the mysteries of that great God as we are. Truly to speak for one, I never remember, I was without being in love; I know too that Charmides has had a great many lovers, and being much beloved has loved again. As for Critobulus, he is still of an age to love and to be beloved; and Nicerates too, who loves so passionately his wife, at least as report goes, is equally beloved by her. And who of us does not know that the object of that noble passion and love of Hermogenes is virtue and honesty? Consider, pray, the severity of his brows, his piercing and fixed eyes, his discourse so composed and strong, the sweetness of his voice, the gaiety of his manners. And, what is yet more wonderful in him, that so beloved as he is by his friends the gods, he does not disdain us mortals. But for you, Antisthenes, are you the only person in the company that does not love?”

Ant. No! for in faith I love you, Socrates, with all my heart.

Then Socrates, rallying him, and counterfeiting an angry air, said, do not trouble me with it now; you see I have other business upon my hands at present.

Ant. I confess you must be an expert master of the trade you valued yourself so much upon a while ago; for sometimes you will not be at the pains to speak to me, and at other times you pretend your dæmon will not permit you, or that you have other business.

Soc. Spare me a little, Antisthenes; I can bear well enough any other troubles that you give me, and I will always bear them as a friend; but I blush to speak of the passion you have for me, since I fear you are not enamoured with the beauty of my soul, but with that of my body.

“As for you, Callias, you love as well as the rest of us; for who is it that is ignorant of your love for Autolicus? It is the town talk, and foreigners as well as our citizens are acquainted with it. The reasons for your loving him I believe to be that you are both of you born of illustrious families, and at the same time are both possessed of personal qualities that render you yet more illustrious. For me, I always admired the sweetness and evenness of your temper; but much more, when I consider that your passion for Autolicus is placed on a person who has nothing luxurious or affected in him; but in all things shows a vigour and temperance worthy of a virtuous soul, which is a proof at the same time that if he is infinitely beloved, he deserves to be so.

“I confess indeed I am not firmly persuaded whether there be but one Venus or two, the celestial and the vulgar; and it may be with this goddess as with Jupiter, who has many different names, though there is still but one Jupiter. But I know very well that both the Venuses have altogether different altars, temples and sacrifices; the vulgar Venus is worshipped after a common negligent manner; whereas the celestial one is adored in purity and sanctity of life. The vulgar inspires mankind with the love of the body only, but the celestial fires the mind with the love of the soul, with friendship and a generous thirst after noble actions. I hope that it is this last kind of love that has touched the heart of Callias; this I believe, because the person he loves is truly virtuous; and whenever he desires to converse with him, it is in the presence of his father, which is a proof his love is perfectly honourable.

“Upon which Hermogenes began to speak: I have always admired you, Socrates, on every occasion, but much more now than ever. You are complaisant to Callias and indulge his passion. And this your complaisance is agreeable to him, so it is wholesome and instructive, teaching him in what manner he ought to love. That is true, said Socrates; and that my advice may please him yet the more, I will endeavour to prove that the love of the soul is incomparably preferable to that of the body. I say, then, and we all feel the truth of it, that no company can be truly agreeable to us without friendship; and we generally say, whoever entertains a great value and esteem for the manners and behaviour of a man, he must necessarily love him. We know likewise, that among those who love the body only, they many times disapprove the humour of the person they so love, and hate perhaps at the same time the mind and temper, while they endeavour to possess the body. Yet further, let us suppose a mutual passion between two lovers of this kind, it is very certain that the power of beauty, which gives birth to that love, does soon decay and vanish; and how is it possible that love built on such a weak foundation should subsist, when the cause that produced it has ceased? But it is otherwise with the soul, for the more she ripens, and the longer she endures, the more lovely she becomes. Besides, as the constant use of the finest delicates is attended in progress of time with disgust, so the constant enjoyment of the finest beauty palls the appetite at last. But that love that terminates on the bright qualities of the soul becomes still more and more ardent; and, because it is in its nature altogether pure and chaste, it admits of no satiety. Neither let us think with some people that this passion, so pure and so chaste, is less charming or less strong than the other. On the contrary, those who love in this manner are possessed of all that we ask, in that our common prayer to Venus, ‘Grant, O goddess, that we say nothing but what is agreeable, and do nothing but what does please.’ Now I think it is needless to prove that a person of a noble mien, generous and polite, modest and well-bred, and in a fair way to rise in the state, ought first to be touched with a just esteem for the good qualities of the person he courts, for this will be granted by all. But I am going to prove in few words, that the person thus addressed to must infallibly return the love of a man that is thus endued with such shining accomplishments. For is it possible for any one to hate a man who he believes has infinite merit, and who makes his addresses to him upon the motive of doing justice to his honour and virtue, rather than from a principle of pleasing his appetite? And how great is the contentment we feel when we are persuaded that no light faults or errors shall ever disturb the course of a friendship so happily begun, or that the diminution of beauty shall never lessen one’s affection! How can it ever happen otherwise, but that persons who love one another thus tenderly, and with all the liberties of a pure and sacred friendship, should take the utmost satisfaction in one another’s company, in discoursing together, with an entire confidence, in mingling their mutual interests and rejoicing in their good fortune and bearing a share in their bad? Such lovers must needs partake of one another’s joy or grief, be merry and rejoice with one another in health, and pay the closest and tenderest attendance on one another when sick, and express rather a greater concern for them when absent than present. Does not Venus and the Graces shower down their blessings on those who love thus? For my part, I take such to be perfectly happy; and a friendship like this must necessarily persevere to the end of their lives, uninterrupted and altogether pure. But I confess I cannot see any reason why one that loves only the exterior beauty of the person he courts should be loved again. Is it because he endeavours to obtain something from the other that gives him pleasure, but the other shame? Or is it because in the conduct of their passion they carefully conceal the knowledge of it from their parents or friends? Somebody, perhaps, may object that we ought to make a different judgment of those who use violence and of those who endeavour to gain their point by the force of persuasion; but I say these last deserve more hatred than the first. The first appear in their proper colours for wicked persons; and so every one is on their guard against such open villainy; whereas the last, by sly insinuations, does insensibly corrupt and defile the mind of the person they pretend to love. Besides, why should they who barter their beauty for money be supposed to have a greater affection for the purchasers than the trader who sells his goods in the market-place has for his chapman that pays him down the price? Do not be surprised, then, if such lovers as these meet often with the contempt they deserve. There is one thing more in this case worthy of your consideration; we shall never find that the love which terminates in the noble qualities of the mind has ever produced any dismal effects. But there are innumerable examples of tragical consequences which have attended that love which is fixed only on the beauty of the body. Chiron and Phœnix loved Achilles, but after a virtuous manner, without any other design than to render him a more accomplished person. Achilles likewise loved and honoured them in return, and held them both in the highest veneration. And indeed I should wonder if one that is perfectly accomplished should not entertain the least contempt for those who admire only their personal beauty. Nor is it hard to prove, Callias, that gods and heroes have always had more passion and esteem for the charms of the soul than those of the body: at least, this seems to have been the opinion of our ancient authors. For we may observe in the fables of antiquity that Jupiter, who loved several mortals upon the account of their personal beauty only, never conferred upon them immortality. Whereas it was otherwise with Hercules, Castor, Pollux and several others; for having admired and applauded the greatness of their courage and the beauty of their minds, he enrolled them in the number of the gods. And whatever some affirm to the contrary of Ganymede, I take it he was carried up to heaven from mount Olympus, not for the beauty of his body but that of his mind. At least his name seems to confirm my opinion, which in the Greek seems to express as much as ‘To take pleasure in good counsel and in the practice of wisdom.’ When Homer represents Achilles so gloriously revenging the death of Patroclus, it was not properly the passion of love that produced that noble resentment, but that pure friendship and esteem he had for his partner in arms. Why is it that the memory of Pylades and Orestes, Theseus and Perithous and other demi-gods are to this day so highly celebrated? Was it for the love of the body, think you? No! by no means: it was the particular esteem and friendship they had for one another, and the mutual assistance every one gave to his friend in those renowned and immortal enterprises which are to this day the subject of our histories and hymns. And, pray, who are they that performed those glorious actions? Not they that abandoned themselves to pleasure, but they that thirsted after glory; and who to acquire that glory underwent the severest toils and almost insuperable difficulties.

“You are then infinitely obliged to the gods, Callias, who have inspired you with love and friendship for Autolicus. It is certain Autolicus has the most ardent passion for glory; since, in order to carry the prize at the Olympic games and be proclaimed victor by the heralds with sound of trumpet as he lately was, he must needs have undergone numberless hardships and the greatest fatigues; for no less was required towards gaining the victory in so many different exercises. But if he proposes to himself, as I am sure he does, to acquire further glory to become an ornament to his family, beneficent to his friends, to extend the limits of his country by his valour, and by all honest endeavours to gain the esteem of barbarians as well as Greeks, do not you believe he will always have the greatest value for one who he believes may be useful and assistant to him in so noble a design? If you would then prove acceptable, Callias, to any one you love, you ought to consider and imitate those methods by which Themistocles rose to the first dignities of the state and acquired the glorious title of the deliverer of Greece; the methods by which Pericles acquired that consummate wisdom which proved so beneficial, and brought immortal honour to his native country. You ought to ponder well how it was that Solon became the lawgiver to this republic of Athens, and by what honourable means the Lacedæmonians have arrived to such wonderful skill in the art of war: and this last you may easily acquire by entertaining, as you do at your house, some of the most accomplished Spartans. When you have sufficiently pondered all these things and imprinted those noble images upon your mind, doubt not but your country will some time or other court you to accept the reins of government, you having already the advantage of a noble birth and that important office of high priest which gives you a greater lustre already than any of your ancestors could ever boast of. And let me add that air of greatness which shines in your person, and that strength and vigour that is lodged in so handsome a body, capable of the severest toils and the most difficult enterprises.”

Socrates, having said all this to Callias, addressed himself to the company and said, “I know very well this discourse is too serious for a feast, but you will not be surprised when you consider that our commonwealth has been always fond of those who, to the goodness of their natural temper, have added an indefatigable search after glory and virtue. And in this fondness of mine for such men I but imitate the genius of my country.”

After this the company began to entertain one another upon the subject of this last discourse of Socrates; when Callias, with a modest blush in his face, addressed himself to him; you must then lend me, said he, the assistance of your art, to which you gave such a surprising name a while ago, to render me acceptable to the commonwealth, and that when it shall please my country to instruct me with the care of its affairs, I may so behave myself as to preserve its good opinion, and never do anything but what tends to the public good. You will certainly succeed, do not doubt it, said Socrates. You must apply yourself in good earnest to virtue, and not content yourself, as some people do, with the appearance of it only, as if that might suffice. For know, Callias, that false glory can never subsist long. Flattery or dissimulation may for a while varnish over such a rotten structure; but it must tumble down at last. On the contrary, solid glory will always maintain its post; unless God, for some secret reasons hid from us, think fit to oppose its progress; otherwise, that sublime virtue, which every man of honour should aim at, does naturally reflect back upon him such rays of glory as grow brighter and brighter every day in proportion as his virtue rises higher and higher.

IX. The discourse being ended, Autolicus rose to take a walk, and his father, following him, turned towards Socrates and said, Socrates, I must declare my opinion, that you are a truly honest man.

After this there was an elbow chair brought into the middle of the room, and the Syracusian appearing at the same time, gentlemen, said he, Ariadne is just now entering, and Bacchus, who has made a debauch to-day with the gods, is coming down to wait upon her; and I can assure you they will both divert the company and one another. Immediately Ariadne entered the room, richly dressed in the habit of a bride, and placed herself in the elbow chair. A little after Bacchus appeared, while at the same time the girl that played on the flute struck up an air that used to be sung at the festival of that god. It was then that the Syracusian was admired for an excellent master in his art: for Ariadne, being perfectly well instructed in her part, failed not to show, by her pretty insinuating manner, that she was touched with the air of the music; and that though she rose not from her chair to meet her lover, yet she expressed sufficiently the great desire she had to do it. Bacchus, perceiving it, came on dancing towards her in the most passionate manner, then sat himself down on her lap, and taking her in his arms kissed her. As for Ariadne, she personated to the life a bride’s modesty, and for a while, looking down to the ground, appeared in the greatest confusion; but at length, recovering herself, she threw her arms about her lover’s neck and returned his kisses. All the company expressed the great satisfaction the performance gave them; and indeed nothing could be better acted, nor accompanied with more grace in the acting. But when Bacchus rose and took Ariadne by the hand to lead her out, they were still more pleased; for the pretty couple appeared to embrace and kiss one another after a much more feeling manner than is generally acted on the stage. Then Bacchus addressing himself to Ariadne, said, “Doest thou love me, my dearest creature? Yes, yes, answered she; let me die if I do not; and will love thee to the last moment of my life.” In fine, the performance was so lively and natural that the company came to be fully convinced of what they never dreamed of before; that the little boy and girl were really in love with one another: which occasioned both the married guests, and some of those that were not, to take horse immediately and ride back full speed to Athens with the briskest resolutions imaginable. I know not what happened afterwards; but for Socrates and some who stayed behind, they went a-walking with Lycon, Autolicus and Callias.


I was walking straight from the Academy to the {St. II p. 203} Lyceum, by the road which skirts the outside of the walls, and had reached the little gate where is the source of the Panops, when I fell in with Hippothales, the son of Hieronymus, Ctesippus the Pæanian, and some more young men, standing together in a group. Hippothales, seeing me approach, called out, Ha, Socrates, whither and whence?

From the Academy, I replied, and I am going straight to the Lyceum.

Straight to us, I hope, cried he. Won’t you turn in? it will be worth your while.

Turn in where? said I; and whom do you mean by us? There, he replied, pointing out to me an enclosure facing the wall, with a door open. There we are passing our time, he added; we whom you see, and a great many other fine fellows too.

And what’s all this, pray? and how are you passing your time?

This is a palæstra that has been lately erected, and {204} we are passing our time principally in conversations, of which we should be very glad to give you a share.

You are very kind, I answered. And who is your teacher there?

A friend and admirer of yours, Miccus.

And no ordinary man either, I rejoined; a most competent sophist.

Won’t you come with us, then, he said, to see both him and all our party there too?

Here, where I am, was my reply, I should like first to be informed, what I am to enter for, and who is your prime beauty?

Some think one, and some another, Socrates. But whom do you think, Hippothales? tell me this. He answered only with a blush. So I added, Hippothales, son of Hieronymus, there is no longer any need for you to tell me whether you are in love or not, since I am sure you are not only in love, but pretty far gone in it too by this time. For though in most matters I am a poor useless creature, yet by some means or other I have received from heaven the gift of being able to detect at a glance both a lover and a beloved. On hearing this, he blushed still more deeply than before. Whereupon Ctesippus broke in, It is very fine of you, Hippothales, turning red in this way, and making such a fuss about telling Socrates the name, when he is quite sure, if he stays ever so short a time in your company, to be bored to death by hearing it always repeated. At any rate, Socrates, he has deafened our ears for us, and filled them full of Lysis. Nay, if he be but a little tipsy when he talks of him, we can easily fancy, on waking, even the next morning, that we are still hearing the name of Lysis. But his constant talk about him, bad as it is, is not the worst; nothing like so bad as when he begins to deluge us with his poems and speeches, and, worse and worse, to sing a song on his darling in a portentous voice, which we are compelled to listen to with patience.

Your Lysis must be quite a juvenile, I rejoined; I conjecture this from my not knowing the name when you mentioned it.

Why, they don’t often call him by his own name, Socrates; he still goes by his father’s, the latter being so well known. Still, I am sure, you cannot be a stranger to the boy’s appearance; that’s quite enough to know him by.

Say, then, whose son he is.

Democrates’s of Œxone, his eldest.

Well done, Hippothales, said I. A noble, and in every way a brilliant choice is this which you have {205} made. But come now, go on about him with me, just as you do with your friends here, that I may know what language a lover ought to hold with regard to his favourite, either to his face or before others.

And do you really, Socrates, set any value on what this fellow says?

Do you mean, I asked, absolutely to deny being in love with the person he mentions?

No, not that, he answered; but I do the making verses or speeches on him.

He is out of his senses, doting, mad, cried Ctesippus; but, I replied, I don’t want to hear any of your verses, Hippothales, nor any song either that you may have composed upon your darling; but I should like to have an idea of their sense, that I may know how you behave toward your favourite.

Ctesippus will tell you all about it, Socrates, I don’t doubt; he must remember it well enough, if it be true, as he says, that I dinned it into his ears till he was deaf.

Oh, I know it, cried Ctesippus, right thoroughly too. It is such a joke, Socrates. The idea of a lover devoting himself exclusively to the object of his love, and yet having nothing of a personal interest to say to him that any child might not say; isn’t it absurd? But stories that all the city rings with, about Democrates, and Lysis the boy’s grandfather, and all his ancestors—their wealth, their breeds of horses, their victories at the Pythian, Isthmian, Nemean with four steeds and single—all these he works into poem and speech, aye, and stories too, still further out of date than these. For in a sort of poem the other day, he gave us the whole account of Hercules’s entertainment, telling us how their ancestor received that hero into his house on the strength of his relationship, being himself son of Zeus, by the daughter of the founder of Œxone. Yes, Socrates, such, among others, are the old wives’ tales that our lover here is ever singing and reciting, and condemning us moreover to listen to.

On hearing this, I said to the lover, You ridiculous Hippothales, before you have gained the victory, you compose and sing a hymn of praise on yourself.

It isn’t on myself, Socrates, that I either make or sing it.

You fancy not, said I.

How is it so? said he.

In every way, I replied, these songs have reference to you. If you succeed in winning such a youth as you describe, all that you have said and sung will redound to your honour, and be in fact your hymn of triumph, as if you had gained a victory in obtaining such a favourite. But if he escape your grasp, then the higher the eulogium you have passed on him, the greater will be the blessings which you will seem to have missed, and the greater consequently the ridicule you will incur. All connoisseurs, therefore, in matters of love, are careful {206} of praising their favourites before they have won them, from their doubts as to the result of the affair. Moreover, your beauties, when lauded and made much of, become gorged with pride and arrogance. Don’t you think so?

I do, he replied.

And the more arrogant they are, the harder they become to be caught?

It is to be expected, at any rate.

Well, what should you say to a huntsman that frightened the prey he was in chase of, and rendered it harder to be caught?

That he was a very sorry one, certainly.

And if by speech and song he renders it wild instead of luring it, he can be no favourite of the Muses; can he?

I think not.

Have a care then, Hippothales, that you do not lay yourself open with your poetry to all these reproaches. And yet I am sure, that to a man who injured himself by his poetry, you would not be willing to accord the title of a good poet, so long as he did himself harm.

No, indeed, that would be too unreasonable, he replied. But it is on this very account, Socrates, that I put myself in your hands, and beg you to give me any advice you may have to bestow, as to the course of conduct or conversation that a lover ought to adopt in order to render himself agreeable to the object of his affection.

That were no such easy matter, I replied. But if you would bring me to speech of Lysis, perhaps I could give you a specimen of what you ought to say to him, in place of the speeches and songs which you are in the habit of treating him with, according to your friends here.

Well, there is no difficulty in that, he rejoined. If you will only go into the palæstra with Ctesippus, and sit down and begin to talk, I have little doubt that he will come to you of his own accord; for he is singularly fond of listening; and, moreover, as they are keeping the Hermæa, boys and men are all mixed up together to-day. So he is pretty certain to join you. But if he does not, Ctesippus knows him, through his cousin Menexenus, who is Lysis’s particular friend. You can get Ctesippus, therefore, to summon him, in case he does not come of himself.

This be our plan, I cried. And taking Ctesippus with me, I walked towards the palæstra, the rest following.

On entering we found that the boys had finished their sacrifices, and, the ceremony being now pretty well over, were playing together at knuckle-bones, all in their holiday-dress. The greater part were carrying on their game in the court outside, but some of them were in a corner of the undressing-room, playing at odd and even with a number of bones which they drew out of small baskets. Round these were stationed others looking on, among whom was Lysis; and he stood in the midst of boys and youths with a chaplet on his head, unmatched in face or form. You would say he {207} was not beautiful merely, but even of a noble mien. For ourselves, we withdrew to the opposite part of the room, and sitting down, as nothing was going on there, began to talk. While thus engaged, Lysis kept turning round and eyeing us, evidently wishing to join us. For some time though he remained in doubt, not liking to walk up alone. But when Menexenus looked in from his game in the court, and on seeing Ctesippus and me, came to sit down with us, Lysis also followed at sight of his friend, and took a seat by his side. There came up, moreover, the rest of our party, among them Hippothales; who, seeing them form into a good-sized group, screened himself behind them in a position where he did not think he could be seen by Lysis; so fearful was he of giving him offence. And thus placed near him, he listened to our conversation.

I began it by turning my eyes on Menexenus, and saying, Son of Demophon, which of you two is the elder?

It is a disputed point, he replied.

And do you dispute, too, which is the better fellow?

Right heartily, was his answer.

And so too, I suppose, which is the more beautiful?

At this they both laughed. I will not ask you, I added, which is the wealthier; for you are friends, are you not?

Oh dear, yes! they both cried.

And friends, they tell us, share and share alike; so in this respect, at any rate, there will be no difference between you, if only you give me a true account of your friendship.

To this they both assented.

I was then proceeding to enquire which of the two excelled in justice, and which in wisdom, when some one came up and carried off Menexenus, telling him that the master of the palæstra wanted him—I presume, on business connected with the sacrifice. Accordingly he left us, and I went on questioning Lysis. Lysis, said I, I suppose your father and mother love you very dearly?

Very dearly, he answered.

They would wish you then to be as happy as possible.

Of course.

Do you think a man happy if he is a slave, and may not do anything he wants?

No, that indeed I don’t.

Well, if your father and mother love you, and wish you to become happy, it is clear that they try in every way to make you happy.

To be sure they do.

They allow you then, I suppose, to do what you wish, and never scold you, or hinder you from doing what you want to do?

Yes, but they do though, Socrates, and pretty frequently too.

How? said I. They wish you to be happy, and yet {208} hinder you from doing what you want. But tell me this: If you wanted to ride on one of your father’s chariots, and take the reins during a race, would they not allow you?

No, most assuredly they would not.

Whom would they then? I asked.

There is a charioteer paid by my father.

Paid! cried I. Do they allow a paid servant in preference to you to do what he pleases with the horses, and, what is more, give him money for so doing?

Not a doubt about it, Socrates, he replied.

Well, but your pair of mules I am sure they let you drive; and even if you wished to take the whip and whip them, they would allow you.

Allow me, would they? said he.

Would they not? said I. Is there no one allowed to whip them?

Of course there is; the mule-driver.

Is he a slave or free?

A slave, he answered.

A slave then, it appears, they think of more account than you, their son; they entrust their property to him rather than to you: and they allow him to do what he pleases, while you they hinder. But answer me further. Do they let you rule yourself, or not even allow you this?

Rule myself! I should think not, said he.

You have some one to rule you, then?

Yes, my governor here.

Not a slave?

Yes, but he is, though, ours.

Shocking! I exclaimed. A free man to be ruled by a slave. But how, pray, does this governor exercise his authority?

He takes me to school, of course.

And do you mean to say that they rule you there, too,—the schoolmasters?

Most certainly they do.

Very many then, it appears, are the masters and rulers whom your father sets over you on purpose. But come now, when you go home to your mother, she, I am sure, lets you do what you please—that you may be as happy as she can make you—either with her wool or her loom, when she is spinning. It cannot possibly be that she hinders you from touching her comb or her shuttle, or any other of her spinning implements.

He burst out a-laughing. I can assure you, Socrates, he said, she not only hinders me, but would get me a good beating if I did touch them.

Beating! cried I. You haven’t done your father or mother any wrong, have you?

Not I, he answered.

Whatever is the reason, then, that they hinder you, in this shocking manner, from being happy, and acting as you please; and keep you, all the day long, in a state of bondage to some one or other,—and, in a word, of doing hardly anything at all you want to do? So that it seems you get no good whatever from your fortune, large as it is, but all have control over it, rather than you; nor, again, from that beautiful person of yours; {209} for it, too, is under the care and charge of other people, while you, poor Lysis, have control over nothing at all, nor do a single thing you wish.

Because I’m not old enough yet, Socrates.

That should be no hindrance, son of Democrates, since there are things, I fancy, which both your father and mother allow you to do, without waiting for you to be old enough. When they wish, for example, to have anything written or read, it is you, I conceive, whom they appoint to the office, before any one else in the house. Isn’t it?

Beyond a question, he replied.

In these matters, then, you are allowed to do as you please: you may write whichever letter you like first, and whichever you like second. And in reading you enjoy the same liberty. And when you take up your lyre, neither father nor mother, I imagine, hinders you from tightening or loosening such strings as you choose, or from playing with your fingers or stick, as you may think proper. Or do they hinder you in such matters?

Oh dear, no! he exclaimed.

What in the world, then, can be the reason, Lysis, that in these matters they don’t hinder you, while in the former they do?

I suppose it is, Socrates, because I understand the one, and don’t understand the other.

Oh! that’s it, is it, my fine fellow? It is not, then, for you to be old enough that your father is waiting in all cases; but on the very day that he thinks you are wiser than he is, he will hand over to you himself and his property.

I shouldn’t wonder, said he.

Nor I, said I. But again. Does your neighbour follow the same rule that your father does with regard to you? Do you expect he will hand over to you his house to manage, as soon as he thinks you have a better idea of the management of a house than he has himself; or will he keep it in his own hands?

Hand it over to me, I should think.

And the Athenians? Will they, do you imagine, hand over to you their matters directly they perceive that you are wise enough to manage them?

Yes, I expect so.

But come now, I asked, what will the great king do? When his meat is cooking, will he allow his eldest son, heir to the throne of Asia, to throw into the gravy whatever he chooses; or us, rather, if we come before him, and prove that we have a better idea than his son has of dressing a dish?

Us, to be sure, said he.

And the prince he won’t allow to put in the least morsel even; while with us he would make no difficulty, though we wished to throw in salt by handfuls?


Once more. If his son had something the matter with his eyes, would he allow him to touch them himself, if he thought him ignorant of the healing art, or rather {210} hinder him?

Hinder him.

But against us, on the other hand, if he conceived us to be skilled in the art, he would, I imagine, make no objection, even though we wished to force open the eyes, and sprinkle in ashes, as he would suppose us to be rightly advised.

True, he would not.

And so, with everything else whatsoever, he would entrust it to us rather than to himself or his son, if he believed that we knew more about it than either of them did.

Necessarily he would, Socrates.

You see then, said I, how the case stands, dear Lysis. All matters of which we have a good idea will be put into our hands by all people, whether Greeks or barbarians, men or women; we shall act, with regard to them, exactly as we please; no one will intentionally stand in our way; and not only shall we be free ourselves in these matters, but we shall be lords over others, and they will be in fact our property, as we shall have the enjoyment of them. With regard to matters, on the other hand, into which we have acquired no insight, no one will ever allow us to act as we think proper, but all persons, to the best of their power, will hinder us from meddling with them; not only strangers, but even our own father and mother, and if we possess any nearer relation; and we ourselves, in these matters, shall be subject to others, and they will be, in fact, the property of others, as we shall derive no advantage from them. Do you allow this to be the case?

I do.

Will any one, then, count us his friends, will any one love us in those matters in which we are of no use?

Indeed no.

According to this, then, not even you are loved by your own father, nor is any one else by any one else in the world, in so far as you or he is useless?

So it would appear, he said.

If, therefore, you acquire knowledge, my son, all men will be friendly to you, all men will be attached to you; for you will be useful and good. If not, you will have no friend in any one, not even in your father or mother, or any of your own family. Now is it possible, Lysis, for a man to have a great idea of himself in those matters of which he has as yet no idea?

How can he possibly? he replied.

And if you still require, as you do, an instructor, you are still without ideas.

True, he answered.

It cannot be, then, that you have a great idea of yourself, if as yet you have no idea.

No, really, Socrates, I don’t see how I can.

On receiving this reply from Lysis, I turned my eyes on Hippothales, and was on the point of making a great blunder. For it came into my head to say, This is the way, Hippothales, that you should talk to your favourite, humbling and checking, instead of puffing him up and pampering him, as you now do. However, on seeing him writhing with agitation at the turn the conversation was taking, I recollected that though standing so near, he didn’t wish to be seen by Lysis. So I recovered myself in time, and forbore to address him.

At this moment, too, Menexenus returned and took {211} the seat by Lysis, from which he had previously arisen. Whereupon Lysis, in a boyish fondling way, said to me in a low voice, so that Menexenus couldn’t hear, I say, Socrates, say over again to Menexenus what you have been saying to me.

No, Lysis, I replied; you must tell him that: you were certainly attending.

I should think I was too, he rejoined.

Try to remember it then, as well as you can, that you may give him a clear account of the whole; and if there’s anything you forget, ask me about it some other day—the first time you meet me.

Well, I’ll do as you tell me, Socrates, with all my heart; you may rely upon that. But say something else to him now, will you, that I, too, may hear it, till it’s time for me to go home.

Well, I must do so, I replied, since it’s you who bid me. But mind you come to my aid, if Menexenus tries to baffle me. You know, don’t you, that he’s fond of a dispute?

Oh yes, desperately, I know. And that’s the very reason I want you to talk with him.

That I may make myself ridiculous, eh?

Oh dear, no, Socrates, but that you may put him down.

Put him down, indeed, cried I; that’s no such easy matter. He’s a redoubtable man, this; a scholar of Ctesippus’s. And here’s his master too, himself, to help him—don’t you see?—Ctesippus.

Trouble yourself about no one, Socrates, he said; but begin, attack him.

As you will, said I.

At this point of our bye-play Ctesippus cried out, What’s that you two there are feasting on by yourselves, without giving us a share?

Never fear, said I, you shall have a share. There’s something I’ve said that Lysis here doesn’t understand. He says, though, he thinks Menexenus knows, and bids me ask him.

Why don’t you ask him then? he rejoined.

Just what I mean to do, I replied. Answer, Menexenus, the questions I ask. From my earliest childhood I have had a particular fancy; every one has. One longs for horses, another for dogs, a third for money, a fourth for office. For my part, I look on these matters with equanimity, but on the acquisition of friends, with all a lover’s passion; and I would choose to obtain a good friend rather than the best quail or cock in the world; I should prefer one to both horse and dog; nay, I fully believe, that I would far sooner acquire a friend and companion, than all the gold of Darius, aye, or than Darius himself. So fond am I of friendship. On {212} seeing, therefore, you and Lysis, I am lost in wonder, while I count you most happy, at your being able, at your years, to acquire this treasure with such readiness and ease; in that you, Menexenus, have gained so early and true a friend in Lysis, and he the same in you; while I, on the contrary, am so far from making the acquisition, that I do not even know how one man becomes the friend of another, but wish on this very point to appeal to you as a connoisseur. Answer me this. As soon as one man loves another, which of the two becomes the friend? the lover of the loved, or the loved of the lover? Or does it make no difference?

None in the world, that I can see, he replied.

How? said I; are both friends, if only one loves?

I think so, he answered.

Indeed! is it not possible for one who loves, not to be loved in return by the object of his love?

It is.

Nay, is it not possible for him even to be hated? treatment, if I mistake not, which lovers frequently fancy they receive at the hands of their favourites. Though they love their darlings as dearly as possible, they often imagine that they are not loved in return, often that they are even hated. Don’t you believe this to be true?

Quite true, he replied.

Well, in such a case as this, the one loves, the other is loved.

Just so.

Which of the two, then, is the friend of the other? the lover of the loved, whether or no he be loved in return, and even if he be hated, or the loved of the lover? or is neither the friend of the other, unless both love each other?

The latter certainly seems to be the case, Socrates.

If so, I continued, we think differently now from what we did before. Then it appeared that if one loved, both were friends; but now, that unless both love, neither are friends.

Yes, I’m afraid we have contradicted ourselves.

This being the case then, the lover is not a friend to anything that does not love him in return.

Apparently not.

People, then, are not friends to horses, unless their horses love them in return, nor friends to quails or to dogs, nor again, to wine or to gymnastics, unless their love be returned; nor friends to wisdom, unless wisdom loves them in return. But in each of these cases, the individual loves the object, but is not a friend to it, and the poet is wrong who says:

Happy the man who, to whom he’s a friend, has children, and horses

Mettlesome, dogs of the chase, guest in a far away land.

I don’t think he is wrong, Socrates.

But do you think he’s right?

Yes, I do.

The lover then, it appears, Menexenus, is a friend to the object of his love, whether the object love, or even hate him. Just as to quite young children, who are either not yet old enough to love, or who are old {213} enough to feel hatred when punished by father or mother, their parents, all the time even that they are being hated, are friends in the very highest degree.

Yes, such appears to be the case.

By this reasoning, then, it is not the object of love that is the friend, but the lover.


And so, not the object of hatred that is the enemy, but the hater.


It frequently happens, then, that people are enemies to those who love them, and friends to those who hate them; that is, are enemies to their friends, and friends to their enemies; if it be true that the lover is the friend, but not the loved. But surely, my dear friend, it were grossly unreasonable, nay, rather, I think altogether impossible, for a man to be a friend to his enemy, and an enemy to his friend.

Yes, Socrates, it does seem impossible.

Well, then, if this be impossible, it must be the object of the love that is the friend to the lover.


And so again, the object of the hatred that is the enemy to the hater.


But if this be true, we cannot help arriving at the same conclusion as we did in the former case; namely, that it often happens that a man is not a friend, but even an enemy to a friend; as often, that is, as he is not loved, but even hated by the man whom he loves: and often again, that he is not an enemy, but even a friend to an enemy, as often, in fact, as he is not hated, but even loved by the man whom he hates.

No, I’m afraid we can’t.

What are we to do then, said I, if neither those who love are to be friends, nor those who are loved, nor, again, those who both love and are loved? Are there any other people beside these that we can say become friends to each other?

To tell you the truth, Socrates, said he, I don’t see my way at all.

Is it possible, Menexenus, said I, that from first to last we have been conducting our search improperly?

I am sure I think it is, Socrates, cried Lysis. And he blushed as he said so. For the words seemed to burst from him against his will in the intensity of the interest he was paying to the conversation; an interest which his countenance had evinced all the time we were talking.

I then, wishing to relieve Menexenus, and charmed with the other’s intelligence, turned to Lysis, and directing my discourse to him, observed, Yes, Lysis, you are quite right, I think, in saying that if we had conducted our search properly, we should never have lost ourselves in this manner. Let us proceed, however, on this line of inquiry no longer—for I look upon it as a very difficult sort of road—but let us go back again to that point at which we turned aside, and follow in the steps of the poets. For poets, I conceive, are as good {214} as fathers and guides to us in matters of wisdom. Well, the poets, if I mistake not, put forward no slight claims for those who happen to be friends, but tell us that it is God himself who makes them friends, by leading them one to another. They express, if I remember right, their opinion thus:

Like men, I trow, to like God ever leads,

and makes them known. You have met with the verse, have you not?

Oh, yes.

And also with the writings of those learned sages which tell the same story; namely, that like must of necessity be ever friendly with like. And these are they, if I mistake not, who talk and write on nature and the universe.

True, they are.

Well, do you think they are right in what they say? I asked.

Perhaps, said he.

Perhaps, I answered, in half; perhaps, too, even in all; only we don’t understand. For, as it appears to us, the nearer wicked men come to each other, and the more they see of each other, the greater enemies they become. For they injure each other. And it is impossible, I take it, for men to be friends, if they injure and are injured in turn.

So it is, he replied.

By this, then, it would appear, that half of their assertion cannot be true, if we suppose them to mean that wicked men are like one another.

So it would.

But they mean to say, I imagine, that the good are like and friendly with the good; but that the bad, as is remarked of them in another place, are not ever even like themselves, but are variable and not to be reckoned upon. And if a thing be unlike and at variance with itself, it will be long, I take it, before it becomes like to or friendly with anything else. Don’t you think so too?

I do, he answered.

When, therefore, my friend, our authors assert that like is friendly with like, they mean, I imagine, to intimate, though obscurely enough, that the good man is a friend to the good man only; but that the bad man never engages in a true friendship either with a good or a bad man. Do you agree? He nodded assent. We know then now, I continued, who it is that are friends; for our argument shows us that it must be those who are good.

Quite clearly too, I think, said he.

And so do I, I rejoined. Still there is a something in the way that troubles me; so let us, with the help of heaven, see what it is that I suspect. Like men are friendly with like men, in so far as they are like, and such a man is useful to such a man. Or rather, let us put it in this way. Is there any good or harm that a like thing can do to a like thing, which it cannot also do to itself? is there any that can be done {215} to it, which cannot also be done to it by itself? And if not, how can such things be held in regard by each other, when they have no means of assisting one another? Can this possibly be?

No, not possibly.

And if a thing be not held in regard, can it be a friend?

Certainly not.

But, you will say, the like man is not a friend to the like man; but the goodwill be a friend to the good, in so far as he is good, not in so far as he is like.

Perhaps I may.

And I should rejoin, Will not the good man, in so far as he is good, be found to be sufficient for himself?


And if sufficient, he will want nothing so far as his sufficiency goes.

Of course not.

And if he does not want anything, he won’t feel regard for anything either.

To be sure not.

And what he does not feel regard for, he cannot love.

Not he.

And if he does not love, he won’t be a friend.

Clearly not.

How then, I wonder, will the good be ever friends at all with the good, when neither in absence do they feel regret for each other, being sufficient for themselves apart, nor when present together have they any need of one another? Is there any possible way by which such people can be brought to care for each other?

None whatever.

And if they do not care for each other, they cannot possibly be friends.

True, they cannot.

Look and see then, Lysis, how we have been led into error; if I mistake not, we are deceived in the whole, and not only in the half.

How so? he asked.

Once upon a time, I replied, I heard a statement made which has just this moment flashed across my mind; it was, that nothing is so hostile to like as like, none so hostile to the good as the good. And among other arguments, my informant adduced the authority of Hesiod, telling me that, according to him,

Potter ever jars with potter, bard with bard, and poor with poor.

And so, he added, by a universal and infallible law the nearer any two things resemble one another, the fuller do they become of envy, strife, and hatred; and the greater the dissimilarity, the greater the friendship. For the poor are obliged to make themselves friends of the rich, and the weak of the strong, for the sake of their assistance; the sick man also must be friendly with the physician; and, in short, every one who is without knowledge must feel regard and affection for those who possess it. Nay, he proceeded with increased magnificence of position to assert, that the like was so far from being friendly with the like, that the exact opposite was the case; the more any two things were contrary, the more were they friendly to each other. For everything, he says, craves for its contrary, and not for its like; the dry craves for moisture, the cold for heat, the bitter for sweetness, the sharp for bluntness, the empty to be filled, the full to be emptied. And everything else follows the same rule. For the contrary, he added, is food to the contrary, the like can derive no advantage from the like. And I can assure you I thought him extremely clever as he said all this, he stated his case {216} so well. But you, my friends, what do you think of it?

Oh, it seems very fair at first hearing, said Menexenus.

Shall we admit then that nothing is so friendly to a thing as its contrary?

By all means.

But if we do, Menexenus, will there not spring upon us suddenly and uncouthly and exultingly those universal-knowledge men, the masters of dispute, and ask us, whether there is anything in the world so contrary to enmity as friendship? And if they do, what must be our answer? Can we possibly help admitting that they are right?

No, we cannot.

Well then, they will say, is friendship a friend to enmity, or enmity to friendship?

Neither one nor the other, he replied.

But justice, I suppose, is a friend to injustice, temperance to intemperance, good to evil.

No, I don’t think this can be the case.

Well but, I rejoined, if one thing is friend to another thing in virtue of being its contrary, these things must of necessity be friendly.

So they must, he allowed.

It follows then, I think, that neither like is friendly with like, nor contrary with contrary.

Apparently it does.

Well, then, said I, let us look again, and see whether we be not still as far as ever from finding friendship, since it is clearly none of these things I have mentioned, but whether that which is neither good nor evil may not possibly turn out, however late, to be friendly with the good.

How do you mean? he asked.

Why, to tell you the truth, said I, I don’t know myself, being quite dizzied by the entanglement of the subject. I am inclined though to think that, in the words of the old proverb, the Beautiful is friendly. Certainly the friendly has the appearance of being something soft and smooth and slippery; and probably it is from being of this character that it slides and slips through our fingers so easily. Now I am of this opinion, because the good, I assert, is beautiful. Don’t you think so?

I do, said he.

I further assert, with a diviner’s foresight, that to the beautiful and good that which is neither good nor evil is friendly. And my reasons for divining this I will tell you. I conceive I recognize three distinct classes, good, evil, and, thirdly, that which is neither good nor evil. Do you allow this distinction?

I do.

Now that good is friendly with good, or evil with evil, or good with evil, we are hindered by our previous arguments from believing. It remains then that, if there be anything friendly with anything, that which is neither good nor evil must be friendly either with the good or with that which resembles itself. For nothing, I am sure, can be friendly with evil.


But neither can like be friendly with like; this we also said, did we not?

We did.

That then which is neither good nor evil will not be friendly with that which resembles itself.

Clearly not.

It follows then, I conceive, that friendship can only exist between good and that which is neither evil nor good.

Necessarily, as it appears. {217}

What think you then, my children, I proceeded to say; is our present position guiding us in a right direction? If we look attentively, we perceive that a body which is in health has no need whatever of the medical art or of any assistance; for it is sufficient in itself. And therefore no one in health is friendly with a physician on account of his health.

Just so, he replied.

But the sick man is, I imagine, on account of his sickness.


Sickness, you will allow, is an evil, the art of medicine both useful and good.


But a body, if I mistake not, in so far as it is a body, is neither good nor evil.


A body though is compelled, on account of sickness, to embrace and love the medical art.

I think so.

That, then, which is neither evil nor good becomes friendly with good, on account of the presence of evil.


But evidently it becomes so, before it is itself made evil by the evil which it contains; for, once become evil, it can no longer, you will allow, be desirous of or friendly with good; for evil, we said, cannot possibly be friendly with good.

No, it cannot possibly.

Now mark what I say. I say that some things are themselves such as that which is present with them, some things are not such. For example, if you dye a substance with any colour, the colour which is dyed in is present, I imagine, with the substance which is dyed.

To be sure it is.

After the process then, is the dyed substance such, in point of colour, as that which is applied?

I don’t understand, he said.

But you will thus, said I. If any one were to dye your locks of gold with white-lead, would they, after the dyeing, be, or appear, white?


And yet whiteness would, at any rate, be present with them.


But still they would not, as yet, be at all the more white on that account; but though whiteness is present with them, they are neither white nor black.


But when, my dear Lysis, old age has brought upon them this same colour, then they become really such as that which is present with them, white by the presence of white.

Yes, indeed they do.

This, then, is the question I want to ask. If a thing be present in a substance, will the substance be such as that which is present with it; or will it be such, if the thing is present under certain conditions, under certain conditions, not?

The latter rather, said he.

That then which is neither evil nor good is, in some cases, when evil is present with it, not evil as yet; in other cases it has already become such.


Well then, said I, when it is not evil as yet, though evil be present with it, this very presence of evil makes it desirous of good; but the presence which makes it evil deprives it, at the same time, of its desire and friendship {218} for good. For it is no longer a thing neither evil nor good, but already evil; and evil, we said, cannot be friendly with good.

True, it cannot be.

On the same ground then we may further assert, that those who are already wise are no longer friends to wisdom, be they gods, or be they men; nor, again, are those friends to wisdom who are so possessed of foolishness as to be evil; for no evil and ignorant man is a friend to wisdom. There remain then those who possess indeed this evil, the evil of foolishness, but who are not, as yet, in consequence of it, foolish or ignorant, but still understand that they do not know the things they do not know. And thus, you see, it is those who are neither good nor evil, as yet, that are friends to wisdom, (philosophers), but those who are evil are not friends; nor again are the good. For that contrary is not friendly with contrary, nor like with like, was made apparent in the former part of our discourse. Do you remember?

Oh perfectly, they both cried.

Now then, Lysis and Menexenus, I continued, we have, as it appears, discovered, beyond a dispute, what it is that is friendly, and not friendly. Whether in respect of the soul, or of the body, or of anything else whatsoever, that, we pronounce, which is neither evil nor good is friendly with good on account of the presence of evil. To this conclusion they both yielded a hearty and entire assent.

For myself, I was rejoicing, with all a hunter’s delight, at just grasping the prey I had been so long in chase of, when presently there came into my mind, from what quarter I cannot tell, the strangest sort of suspicion. It was, that the conclusions to which we had arrived were not true; and, sorely discomfited, I cried, Alack-a-day, Lysis, alack, Menexenus; we have, I fear me, but dreamed our treasure.

Why so? said Menexenus.

I am afraid, I answered, that, just as if with lying men, we have fallen in with some such false reasonings in our search after friendship.

How do you mean? he asked.

Look here, said I. If a man be a friend, is he a friend to some one, or not?

To some one, of course.

For the sake of nothing, and on account of nothing, or for the sake and on account of something?

For the sake of and on account of something.

Is he a friend to that thing, for the sake of which he is a friend to his friend, or is he to it neither friend nor foe?

I don’t quite follow, he said.

No wonder, said I; but perhaps you will if we take this course; and I too, I think, shall better understand what I am saying. The sick man, as we just now said, is a friend to the physician. Is he not?

He is.

On account of sickness, for the sake of health?


Sickness is an evil?

Beyond a doubt.

But what is health? I asked; a good, an evil, or neither one nor the other?

A good, he replied.

We further stated, I think, that the body, a thing {219} neither good nor evil, is, on account of sickness,—that is to say, on account of an evil,—a friend to the medical art. And the medical art is a good; and it is for the sake of health that the medical art has received the friendship; and health is a good, is it not?

It is.

Is the body a friend, or not a friend, to health?

A friend.

And a foe to sickness?

Most decidedly.

That, then, it appears, which is neither good nor evil, is a friend to good on account of an evil to which it is a foe, for the sake of a good to which it is a friend?

So it seems.

The friendly, then, is a friend for the sake of that to which it is a friend, on account of that to which it is a foe?


Very well, said I. But arrived as we are, I added, at this point, let us pay all heed, my children, that we be not misled. That friend is become friend to friend, that is to say, that like is become friend to like, which we declared to be impossible, is a matter I will allow to pass; but there is another point which we must attentively consider, in order that we may not be deceived by our present position. A man is a friend, we said, to the medical art for the sake of health.

We did.

Is he a friend to health too?

To be sure he is.

For the sake of something?


For the sake of something, then, to which he is friendly, if this, too, is to follow our previous admission?


But is he not again a friend to that thing for the sake of some other thing to which he is a friend?


Can we possibly help, then, being weary of going on in this manner; and is it not necessary that we advance at once to a beginning, which will not again refer us to friend upon friend, but arrive at that to which we are in the first instance friends, and for the sake of which we say we are friends to all the rest?

It is necessary, he answered.

This, then, is what I say we must consider, in order that all those other things, to which we said we were friendly, for the sake of that one thing, may not, like so many shadows of it, lead us into error, but that we may establish that thing as the first, to which we are really and truly friends. For let us view the matter thus: If a man sets a high value upon a thing; for instance, if, as is frequently the case, a father prizes a son above everything else he has in the world, may such a father be led by the extreme regard he has for his son, to set a high value upon other things also? Suppose, for example, he were to hear of his having drunk some hemlock; would he set a high value on wine, if he believed that wine would cure his son?

Of course he would.

And on the vessel also which contained the wine?


Do you mean to say, then, that he sets an equal value on both, on a cup of earthenware and his own son, on his own son and a quart of wine? Or is the truth rather thus? all such value as this is set not on those things which are procured for the sake of another thing, but on that for the sake of which all such things are procured. We often talk, I do not deny, about setting a high value on gold and silver; but is the truth on this account at all the more thus? No, what we value supremely is that, whatever it may be found to be, for the sake of which gold, and all other subsidiaries, are procured. Shall we not say so?


And does not the same reasoning hold with regard to friendship? When we say we are friendly to things {220} for the sake of a thing to which we are friendly, do we not clearly use a term with regard to them which belongs to another? And do we not appear to be in reality friendly only with that in which all these so called friendships terminate?

Yes, he said, this would appear to be the truth.

With that, then, to which we are truly friendly, we are not friendly for the sake of any other thing to which we are friendly.

True, we are not.

This point, then, we dismiss, as sufficiently proved. But, to proceed, are we friends to good?

I imagine so.

And good is loved on account of evil, and the case stands thus. If, of the three classes that we just now distinguished, good, evil, and that which is neither evil nor good, two only were to be left to us, but evil were to be removed out of our path, and were never again to come in contact either with body or soul, or any other of these things, which in themselves we say are neither good nor evil, would it not come to pass that good would no longer be useful to us, but have become useless? for if there were nothing any more to hurt us, we should have no need whatever of any assistance. And thus you see it would then be made apparent that it was only on account of evil that we felt regard and affection for good, as we considered good to be a medicine for evil, and evil to be a disease; but where there is no disease, there is, we are aware, no need of medicine. This, then, it appears, is the nature of good; it is loved on account of evil by us who are intermediate between evil and good; but in itself, and for itself, it is of no use.

Yes, he said, such would seem to be the case.

It follows, then, I think, that the original thing to which we are friendly, that wherein all those other things terminate to which we said we were friendly for the sake of another thing, bears to these things no resemblance at all. For to these things we called ourselves friendly for the sake of another thing to which we were friendly; but that to which we are really friendly appears to be of a nature exactly the reverse of this, since we found that we were friendly to it for the sake of a thing to which we were unfriendly, and, if this latter be removed, we are, it seems, friendly to it no longer.

Apparently not, said he, according at least to our present position.

But tell me this, said I. If evil be extinguished, will it no longer be possible to feel hunger or thirst, or any similar desire? or will hunger exist, as long as man {221} and the whole animal creation exists, but exist without being hurtful? And will thirst, too, and all other desires exist, but not be evil, inasmuch as evil is extinct?

It is ridiculous though, to ask what will exist or not exist, in such a case; for who can know? but this, at any rate, we do know, that even at present it is possible for a man to be injured by the sensation of hunger, and possible for him also to be profited. Is it not?

Certainly it is.

And so, too, a man who feels thirst, or any similar desire, may feel it in some cases with profit to himself, in other cases with hurt, and in other cases again, with neither one nor the other.

Assuredly he may.

Well, if evil is being extinguished, is there any reason in the world for things that are not evil to be extinguished with it?

None whatever.

There will exist, then, those desires which are neither evil nor good, even if evil be extinct.


Is it possible for a man who is desirous and enamoured not to love that of which he is desirous and enamoured?

I think not.

There will exist then, it appears, even if evil be extinct, certain things to which we are friendly.

Yes, there will.

But if evil were the cause of our being friendly to anything, it would not be possible, when evil was extinct, for any man to be friendly to anything; for if a cause be extinct, surely it is no longer possible for that to exist of which it was the cause.

True, it is not.

But above, we agreed that the friendly loved something, and on account of something, and at the same time we were of opinion, that it was on account of evil, that that, which is neither good nor evil, loved the good.

So we were.

But now, it appears, we have discovered some other cause of loving and being loved.

So it does.

Is it true, then, as we were just now saying, that desire is the cause of friendship, and that whatever desires is friendly to that which it desires, and friendly at the time of its feeling the desire; and was all that, which we previously said about being friendly, mere idle talk, put together after the fashion of a lengthy poem?

I am afraid it was, he replied.

But that, I continued, which feels desire, feels desire for that of which it is in want. Does it not?


And that which is in want is friendly with that of which it is in want.

I imagine so.

And becomes in want of that which is taken from it?

Of course.

That then which belongs to a man, is found, it seems, Lysis and Menexenus, to be the object of his love, and friendship, and desire.

They both assented.

If, then, you two are friendly to each other, by some tie of nature you belong to each other?

To be sure we do, they cried together.

And so, in general, said I, if one man, my children, is desirous and enamoured of another, he can never have conceived his desire, or love, or friendship, without {222} in some way belonging to the object of his love, either in his soul, or in some quality of his soul, or in disposition, or in form.

I quite believe you, cried Menexenus; but Lysis said not a word.

Well, then, I continued, that which by nature belongs to us, it has been found necessary for us to love.

So it appears, said Menexenus.

It cannot possibly be then, but that a true and genuine lover is loved in return by the object of his love. To this conclusion Lysis and Menexenus nodded a sort of reluctant assent, while Hippothales in his rapture kept changing from colour to colour.

I, however, with a view of reconsidering the subject, proceeded to say, Well, if there is a difference between that which belongs to us and that which is like, we are now, I conceive, in a condition to say what is meant by a friend; but if they happen to be the same, it’s no such easy matter to get rid of our former assertion, that like was useless to like, in so far as it was like; for to admit ourselves friendly with that which is useless, were outrageous. What say you then, said I, since we are, as it were, intoxicated by our talk, to our allowing that there is a difference between that which belongs and that which is like?

Let us do so by all means, he replied.

Shall we further say, that good belongs to every one, and that to every one evil is a stranger; or rather, that good belongs to good, evil to evil, and that which is neither evil nor good, to that which is of the same nature?

They both agreed that the latter was their opinion in each particular.

It appears then, said I, that we have fallen again into positions, with regard to friendship, which we previously rejected. For, according to our present admission, the unjust will be no less friendly to the unjust, and the evil no less friendly to the evil, than the good to the good.

So it would appear, said he.

And again, said I, if we assert, that what is good, and what belongs to us, are one and the same, will it not result that none are friendly with the good but the good? And this, too, I think, is a position in which we imagined that we proved ourselves wrong. Don’t you remember?

Oh, yes, they both cried.

What other way then is left us of treating the subject? Clearly none. I therefore, like our clever pleaders at the bar, request you to reckon up all that I have said. If neither those who love or are loved, neither the like nor the unlike, nor the good, nor those who belong to us, nor any other of all the suppositions which we passed in review—they are so numerous that I can remember no more—if, I say, not one of them is the object of friendship, I no longer know what I am to say.

With this confession, I was just on the point of rousing to my aid one of the elders of our party, when all of a sudden, like beings of another world, there came down upon us the attendants of Menexenus and Lysis, holding their brothers by the hand, and calling out to the young gentlemen to come home, as it was already late. At first, both we and the bystanders were for driving them off, but finding that they did not mind us at all, but grumbled at us in sad Greek, and persisted in calling the boys; fancying, moreover, that from having tippled at the feast, they would prove awkward people to deal with, we owned ourselves vanquished, and broke up the party.

However, just as they were leaving, I managed to call out, Well, Lysis and Menexenus, we have made ourselves rather ridiculous to-day, I, an old man, and you children. For our hearers here will carry away the report, that though we conceive ourselves to be friends with each other—you see I class myself with you—we have not as yet been able to discover what we mean by a friend.



Friend. Ha, Socrates, where do you appear from? {St. I. p. 309} though I can hardly doubt that it is from a chase after the bloom of Alcibiades. Well, I saw the man only the other day, and I can assure you I thought him looking still beautiful, though between ourselves, Socrates, he is a man by this time, and his chin is getting pretty well covered with beard.

Soc. And what of that? Sure you don’t disapprove of Homer’s assertion, “that no age is so graceful as the beardling’s prime”? And this is just the age of Alcibiades.

Fr. Be that as it may, Socrates, I want to know about matters now. Is it from him that you make your appearance, and how is the youth disposed towards you?

Soc. Very well, I think, and never better than to-day. For he has been taking my side, and saying a great deal in my favour. And in point of fact, I have only just left him. I have, however, something strange to tell you. Though he was in the room all the while, he was so far from engrossing my attention, that I frequently forgot his existence altogether.

Fr. Why, whatever can have happened between you and him, to produce such an effect as this? You surely don’t mean to say that you have met with any one more beautiful here in Athens?

Soc. Yes I do, much more beautiful.

Fr. More beautiful! a citizen or a foreigner?

Soc. A foreigner.

Fr. From what country?

Soc. Abdera.

Fr. And did this stranger really appear to you so beautiful a person that you accounted him more beautiful than the son of Clinias?

Soc. Indeed he did. For how, my good friend, can the supremely wise fail of being accounted more beautiful?

Fr. Ho, ho, Socrates, you have just left one of our wise men, have you?

Soc. Say, rather, the wisest man of the present day, unless you would refuse this title to Protagoras.

Fr. Protagoras, do you say? is he in Athens?

Soc. He is, and has been here now two days.

Fr. And you are just come, I suppose, from his company? {310}

Soc. Yes, and from a very long conversation with him.

Fr. Oh pray repeat it to us, then, unless you have something to hinder you. Just turn out this boy, and sit down in his place.

Soc. With all my heart; and I shall be much obliged to you for listening.

Fr. And I am sure we shall be so to you for speaking.

Soc. The obligation, then, will be mutual. I will therefore begin.

Last night, or rather very early this morning, Hippocrates, the son of Apollodorus, and brother of Phason, came and knocked very violently at my door with his stick, and as soon as they opened to him, rushed into the house in the greatest haste, calling out with a loud voice, Socrates, are you awake or asleep? Recognising his voice, I said to myself, Ho, Hippocrates here; turning to him, Have you any news?

None but what is good, he answered.

So much the better, I rejoined. But what is the matter; what has made you come here so early?

Protagoras is arrived, said he, standing by my side.

Yes, the day before yesterday, I replied; have you only just heard it?

Only just, I assure you, only last night. While thus speaking, he felt about the bed on which I lay, and sitting down at my feet, continued, Only yesterday evening, on my return at a very late hour from Œnoe. For my slave Satyrus ran away; and I was just going to tell you that I meant to pursue him, when something else came into my head, and I forgot it. And when I came back, it was not till we had supped and were going to bed, that my brother informed me of the arrival of Protagoras. Whereupon, late as it was, I started up with the intention of coming immediately to you, but on second thoughts it seemed too far gone in the night. As soon, however, as sleep released me after my fatigue, I rose up at once and hurried here.

On hearing this, being well acquainted with my friend’s vehement and excitable nature, I said to him, Well, what does this matter to you? does Protagoras do you any harm?

Yes, that he does, said he with a laugh; he keeps his wisdom to himself, and does not make me wise.

But I have no doubt, said I, that if you only give him money enough, he will make you wise too.

I would, ye gods! he cried, it only depended on this; if it did, I would not spare the last farthing of my own fortune, or of my friends’ either. But in point of fact, Socrates, the very object I have in coming here now is to ask you to speak to him on my behalf. For, to say nothing of my being so young, I have never even seen Protagoras in my life, or heard him speak; for I was quite a boy when he was here before. However, all the world applaud the man, and say that he is wonderfully clever in discourse. So pray let us go to him {311} at once, that we may find him indoors. He is staying, I am told, with Callias, the son of Hipponicus. Let us start.

Not yet, said I, it is too early. Rather let us turn into the court here, and walk about and talk, till it is light. And then we can go. For Protagoras seldom stirs out; so that you need not be afraid, we shall in all probability find him at home.

After this we rose up from the bed, and went out into the court. And while we were walking up and down, with a view of trying the strength of Hippocrates, I sifted him with the following questions. Hippocrates, said I, you are now proposing to call upon Protagoras and pay him a sum of money as a fee for your attendance. Now tell me; in what capacity, on his part, do you mean to visit him, and what do you expect to become yourself by so doing? Take a similar case. If you had conceived the idea of going to your namesake Hippocrates of Cos, of the house of the Asclepiads, and paying him a sum of money as a fee for your tuition; and if you were to be asked what Hippocrates was, that you meant to pay him this money, what should you answer?

I should say, he replied, a physician.

And what do you expect to become?

A physician, he answered.

Again, if you had taken it into your head to go to Polyclitus of Argos or our Athenian Phidias, and pay them a fee for your tuition, and you were to be asked, what Polyclitus and Phidias were, that you intended to pay them this money, what should you reply?

Statuaries, of course.

And what do you expect to become yourself?

A statuary, to be sure.

Well, said I, here are you and I now going to Protagoras; and when arrived there we shall be prepared to pay him a sum of money as a fee for your tuition. If our own funds prove adequate to his demand, so much the better; if they are deficient, we shall not hesitate to drain the purses of our friends. Now, suppose some man were to see us thus earnestly bent on the matter, and to say, My good friends, Socrates and Hippocrates, what do you mean to pay Protagoras as? Tell me, what would be our answer to this question? What distinct name is currently given to Protagoras, in the same way that the name of statuary is given to Phidias, and of poet to Homer? what analogous designation do we hear applied to Protagoras?

Well, there is no denying, he replied, that men do call our friend a sophist.

It is then, I suppose, as a sophist that we are going to pay him our monies.


Now, suppose you were further asked, And what do you expect to become yourself, that you go to Protagoras? {312} At this he blushed. By this time there was just a glimpse of day, so that I could see his face. Why, said he, if this be at all like the two former cases, it is clear that I must expect to become a sophist.

And should not you, I solemnly ask, be ashamed of showing yourself a sophist in the eyes of Greece?

Yes, Socrates, I certainly should, if I must speak what I really think.

But possibly, Hippocrates, you are of opinion that the instructions to be afforded by Protagoras will not be given on this sort of principle, but rather resemble those you received from your masters in writing and music and gymnastics. For you were instructed in each of these latter professions, not with a view of becoming a craftsman therein yourself, but of accomplishing the education which is deemed proper for an unprofessional gentleman.

Yes, Socrates, said he, I am quite of opinion that this is rather the character of Protagoras’s instructions.

Are you aware then, I asked, what you are now about to do, or are you blind?

To what?

Blind to the fact, that you are about to consign your soul to the care of a man, who is, you say, a sophist, while what in the world such sophist is, you know not, or I am much surprised. And yet if you know not this, neither do you know to what you are abandoning your soul, whether it be to a good or an evil thing.

I think I know, he answered.

Well, what do you think a sophist means?

I think, said he, as the name imports, that it means a man who is learned in wisdom.

Yes, said I, but as much may be said for painters and architects; they also may be described as men learned in wisdom. But if we were asked, what the wisdom is in which painters are learned, we should doubtless say, In that which relates to the production of pictures. And so for the rest. But if we were to be further asked, What is the wisdom in which a sophist is learned? what is the production that he superintends? what would be our reply?

Why, what else should it be, Socrates, but that he superintends the production of an able speaker?

If so, said I, our answer might possibly be true, but certainly not sufficient. For it would draw on us the further inquiry, But what is the subject on which the sophist makes a man able to speak? The musician makes his pupil able to speak on the subject in which it makes him learned, in music, that is, does he not?

He does.

Well, said I, what is the subject on which the sophist makes a man able to speak? obviously on that in which he makes him learned, is it not?

One would expect so, at any rate.

What, then, I proceeded, is that, in which the sophist is both learned himself and makes his pupil learned also?

This, Socrates, I confess, I cannot tell you.

Young man, I rejoined, what are you doing? are you {313} aware of the danger to which you are about to expose your soul? If you had had occasion to entrust your body to any one’s care, on the chance of its becoming either healthy or depraved, frequent would have been your deliberations on the propriety of the measure; you would have summoned both friends and relatives to a consultation, and taken many days to consider the matter; yet now, when your soul is concerned, your soul, which you prize far more highly than your body, and whereon your all depends for good or ill, according as it turns out healthy or depraved; when this, I say, is at stake, you communicate neither with your father, nor your brother, nor with any of us your friends; you ask none of us whether or no you ought to entrust your soul to this stranger who is come to Athens; but having heard of his arrival only last evening, as you tell me, you come here early in the morning, not to take thought or counsel on the matter, but prepared to spend both your own fortune and your friends’, as if you had already made up your mind that, come what might, you must be the pupil of Protagoras; a man whom, as you admit, you are neither acquainted with, nor have even so much as spoken to in your life, but whom you call a sophist, while what this sophist is, to whom you are about to entrust yourself, you are plainly ignorant.

Yes, Socrates, said he; such would appear, from what you say, to be the case.

Hippocrates, I continued, is not a sophist a sort of merchant, or retail-dealer in the wares upon which the soul subsists? for myself, I esteem him something of the kind.

And what does the soul subsist upon, Socrates? he asked.

Instruction, of course, I replied; and let us be careful, my dear friend, that the sophist does not impose upon us, by praising the quality of his wares, just as is done by those who traffic in food for the body, by the merchant, that is, and the tradesman. For these dealers are ignorant, if I mistake not, of the commodities which they supply; they cannot tell which article is good or bad for the body—though they praise them all alike in the sale—any more than their customers can unless they happen to be versed in the gymnastic or medical art. And, exactly in the same way, those who hawk about their instructions from city to city, selling wholesale and retail to all who bid, are in the habit of praising their whole stock alike; yet some of these too, my good friend, may very likely be unable to tell us which of their wares is good, and which bad for the soul, while their customers will be equally ignorant, unless here again there chance to be among them some skilled in the medicine of the soul. If then you happen to be a judge of these matters, and can say which is good, and which is bad, there is no danger in your buying instructions from Protagoras, or any other person whatever; but if not, take care, my good Hippocrates, that {314} you do not stake and imperil your dearest treasures. For, I can assure you, there is a far greater risk in the purchase of instruction than in that of food. When you buy meat and drink from the tradesman and merchant, you may carry them away in different vessels; and before admitting them into your body, by eating or drinking, you are at liberty to lay them down in your house, and, calling in qualified advisers, deliberate what is fit to be eaten or drunk, and what to be rejected; what, moreover, is the proper quantity that may be taken, and what the proper time for taking it. So that in this purchase the danger is not great. But instruction you cannot possibly carry away in a different vessel; as soon as you have paid down the price, you must of necessity receive the instruction in your soul itself; and when you have learnt it, go home a worse, or a better man. Let us, therefore, take advice on this question with our elders, for we are still too young to settle so great a matter. Since, however, we have started the plan, let us go and hear our sophist, and afterwards confer with others on what we have heard; for, beside Protagoras, we shall find there Hippias of Elis, and, I think, also Prodicus of Ceos, and many other learned professors.

This resolution taken, we set out on our expedition. When arrived at the gate, we stopped to discuss a question which had fallen out, between us on the road, and which we wished to bring to a satisfactory conclusion before entering the house. Accordingly we stood talking at the entrance till we had settled the matter. Now the porter, an eunuch, must, I imagine, have overheard us; and I am inclined to think that, on account of the multitude of sophist-callers, he feels disgust for all who come to the house. At any rate, when we had knocked at the door, and he had opened it, and caught sight of us, Bah! he cried out, more sophists, I declare. My master’s engaged. At the same time, with both his hands, he slammed the door in our faces, with all the will in the world. So we knocked again; but our friend, without opening, called out, Sirs, have you not heard that my master is engaged? But, good porter, I urged, we are neither come to call upon Callias, nor are we sophists; so cheer up. It is Protagoras that we want to see,—take in our names. At length, with the greatest difficulty, we prevailed on the fellow to open us the door.

On entering, we found Protagoras walking up and down one of the porticoes. And, in the same line with him, there walked on one side Callias, the son of Hipponicus, and his half-brother Paralus, the son of {315} Pericles, and Charmides, the son of Glaucon; on the other there was Pericles’ other son, Xanthippus, and Philippides, the son of Philomelus; and, moreover, Antimœrus of Mende, who enjoys the greatest reputation of all Protagoras’s pupils, and is taking lessons professionally, with the view of becoming a sophist himself. Behind these distinguished individuals there followed a crowd of listeners, composed principally, as it appeared to me, of the foreigners whom Protagoras sweeps with him from the several cities he passes through, luring them, like an Orpheus, with his voice, and they follow at the sound, enchanted. There were, however, among them some of our own countrymen as well. On looking at this attendant band, I was particularly charmed to observe the excellent care they took never to get into the way of Protagoras. The moment the great master and his party turned, deftly and daintily did these gentlemen file off to the right and left, and, wheeling round, take their places, on each occasion, behind him, in the most admirable order.

Next after him my eyes observed, as Homer has it, Hippias of Elis, sitting in the opposite portico on a high chair; and on stools around him, I remarked Eryximachus the son of Acumenus, Phædrus of Myrrhine, and Andron the son of Androtion, beside a number of foreigners from his own town of Elis and other cities. And they appeared to be plying him with questions on natural science, and especially on astronomy, while he sitting aloft on his throne, was dispensing to them their several answers, and explaining all their difficulties.

There too, moreover, I beheld a Tantalus; for Prodicus of Ceos had lately come to Athens. Now this professor was established in a small room which Hippocrates had been in the habit of using as a store closet. On the present occasion, however, Callias has been forced, by the influx of guests, to empty it of its contents and turn it into a spare bed-chamber. Here then was Prodicus, still in bed, and wrapped up in what appeared to be a great quantity of sheep-skins and blankets. On sofas near him were sitting Pausanias of Ceramis, and close by the side of Pausanias a young lad of a noble disposition, as far as I could judge, and certainly of a most beautiful form. I thought I heard his name was Agathon, and I should not be surprised if he turns out to be Pausanias’s favourite. Beside this stripling there were the two Adimantuses, sons of Cepis and Leucolopides, and some others. But what they were talking about I was unable to catch from the outside, notwithstanding my intense anxiety to hear Prodicus,—so supremely, nay divinely clever do I account the man;—for the gruffness of his voice caused {316} a kind of buzzing in the room, which rendered all he said indistinct. We had not been long in the house, when there came in after us Alcibiades the fair, as you call him with my full assent, and Critias the son of Callœschrus.

After we had spent a few minutes in noticing the particulars I have mentioned, we walked up to Protagoras, and I said, Protagoras, it is to see you that I and my friend Hippocrates here have called.

Would you like, said he, to speak with me alone, or before the rest?

To us, I replied, it makes no difference in the world; when you have heard our object in coming, you can judge for yourself. Well, what is your object? he asked.

Hippocrates, said I, presenting him, is a native of Athens, son of Apollodorus, of a great and wealthy house. For himself, he is considered in point of natural ability a fair match for the youth of his age: and he is desirous, I believe, of making a figure in the state, a result which he expects more readily to attain by attaching himself to you. Now then that you have heard our errand, consider whether it ought to be discussed between ourselves alone, or in public.

You do well, Socrates, he answered, to take these precautions in my behalf. When a stranger visits powerful cities, and in each of them calls upon the flower of the youth to abandon the society of their countrymen, both related and not related, both old and young, and attach themselves solely to him, in the hope of becoming better by such intercourse; when he does this, I say, he cannot take too many precautions; for his course is attended by no slight jealousy, by ill-will moreover, and actual plots. Now the trade of sophist is, I maintain, of ancient date; but its professors in ancient times were so afraid of this odium ever attaching to it, that they uniformly covered it with an assumed disguise. Some among them veiled it under poetry, as Homer, Hesiod, and Simonides; others, again, under mystic rites and prophetic inspiration, like Orpheus, Musæus, and their followers. I have heard of others putting forward even the gymnastic art, as a screen; Iccus of Tarentum, for instance, and that sophist of the present day, who is inferior to none of his contemporaries, Herodicus of Selymbria, and formerly of Megara. Music, again, was the cover assumed by your own countryman, Agathocles, a very eminent sophist, by Pythoclides of Ceos, and a number of others. Now it was, I repeat, for fear of becoming generally odious, that all these distinguished sophists shrouded their one trade beneath the veil of the several arts I have mentioned. But I, for my part, differ from them {317} all, so far as this concealment is concerned. For I conceive that they were very far from attaining the object they desired, inasmuch as their secret was discovered by men of authority in their respective states, that is to say, by the very men to deceive whom these disguises were assumed; since the vulgar herd may be said to perceive nothing at all of themselves, but merely to echo the opinions which the former promulgate. Now, whenever a man attempts to escape, and instead of succeeding, is caught in the act, he is not only thought a great fool for his pains, but necessarily renders himself still more obnoxious than before: for men consider that such a person adds knavery to his other delinquencies. On such grounds, then, the course I have pursued has been exactly the opposite to this. I have ever avowed myself a sophist and a teacher of youth; and I esteem this precaution of mine to be more effectual than theirs,—avowal, that is to say, I esteem safer than denial. Added to this, I have devised other precautions, so that, thanks be to Heaven, no harm has ever come to me from avowing my profession. Yet, I have now been engaged in it many years, as may well be the case, considering the number I have lived altogether—so many, that there is not one among you whose father I am not old enough to be. I shall, therefore, consider it far more agreeable, if you do not object, to discuss your errand in the presence of all the inmates of the house. On hearing this, I at once suspected that he had a mind to parade us before Prodicus and Hippias, and make it appear that we had come as his ardent admirers. Accordingly I said, Why don’t we then summon Prodicus and Hippias to come with their followers, and listen to our conversation?

Let us do so by all means, he replied.

What say you, suggested Callias, to our making a regular divan, so that you may talk sitting? His proposal being accepted, we all set to work with delight at the idea of listening to such clever men, and with our own hands seized on the stools and sofas, and ranged them in order by the side of Hippias, as the stools were already in his neighbourhood. Before we had finished, Callias and Alcibiades, who had gone to fetch Prodicus, returned with him and his coterie, having succeeded in getting the professor out of bed.

As soon as we had all taken our seats, Protagoras began. Now then, Socrates, said he, that these gentlemen have joined our party, you had better repeat what you mentioned to me a few minutes ago, with regard to this young man.

I open my account of our errand, said I, in the same way as I did before. I present to you my friend Hippocrates, {318} who is possessed with a desire of becoming your disciple, and would be glad, he says, to hear what advantages he may expect to derive from your tuition. So much for our part of the business. In answer to this, Protagoras said to Hippocrates, My young friend, if you are to be my disciple, you will find that on the very day of your becoming such, you will go home a better man than you came; on the second day the result will be similar, and each succeeding day will be marked with the same gradual improvement.

But, Protagoras, I replied, there is nothing wonderful in this promise of yours; it is only what may naturally be expected. Since I am sure that even you yourself, advanced in years and wisdom as you are, could not fail of being improved by receiving information on a subject with which you might possibly chance to be unacquainted. No, this is not the sort of answer we want; but something of the following kind. Suppose our friend here were ere long to take a new fancy into his head, and conceive the desire of attaching himself to the young painter, Zeuxippus of Heraclea, who has lately come to Athens, and were to make the same application to him, that he is now making to you, and were to hear from him in reply, exactly as he has heard from you, that each day of his attendance would be marked by fresh improvement and progress. If our youth, however, not content with this answer, were further to inquire, In what do you mean that I shall improve, and wherein shall I make progress? Zeuxippus would say, In painting. And so, if on applying to Orthagoras of Thebes, and hearing from him the same answer that he hears from you, he were to proceed to ask, what would be the particular point in which he would daily improve by his daily attendance? the flute-player would reply, In playing the flute. This, then, is the kind of answer I wish you to give to Hippocrates, and to me who am questioning you on his behalf.

If my friend here becomes a pupil of yours, Protagoras, he will go home on the first day of his attendance a better man than he came, and on each succeeding day he will make similar progress—to what, Protagoras? In what will he improve?

Socrates, he answered, your question is a fair one, and I delight in answering fair questions. If Hippocrates comes to me, he will not be served as he would be served if he were to attach himself to any other sophist. Sophists in general misuse their pupils sadly. Just escaped as the lads are from their school-studies, these teachers drive them back again, sorely against their will, into the old routine, and give them lessons (while saying this, he glanced at Hippias,) in arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music; whereas, if a youth comes to me, he will receive instruction on no other subject than that which he is come to learn. And what he will learn is this; such prudence in domestic concerns as will best enable him to regulate his own household; such wisdom in public affairs as will best qualify him for becoming a statesman and orator. {319}

I wonder, said I, whether I follow your meaning: I understand you to speak of the political art, and that you undertake to make men good citizens.

This is exactly the profession I do make, Socrates, he replied.

Glorious truly then, said I, is the art you possess, if so be that you do possess it; for to a man like you I will say nothing else than what I really think. Since for my part, Protagoras, I always imagined that this art was not capable of being taught, but when you say it is, I know not how to disbelieve you. My reasons, however, for believing that it cannot be taught, or communicated from man to man, I am bound to declare. I hold, as all Greece holds, that the Athenians are a wise people. Now, I observe in all our meetings in the assembly, that whenever there is occasion to transact any public business connected with house-building, they invariably send for house-builders, to advise them on the matter; whenever connected with ship-building, for ship-builders; and the same practice is observed with regard to all the arts which they consider capable of being learnt and taught. But should any individual, whom they believe to be no member of the trade in question, obtrude his advice on the matter, be he ever so beautiful, or wealthy, or high-born, they do not a whit the more allow him a hearing on this account, but shower on him jeers and hisses, till our would-be speaker either gives way of himself to this storm of clamour, or is pulled down from the bema by the bowmen, and turned out of the house by command of the prytanes. Such then is the course they pursue with all business which they consider belongs to a craft. But whenever a matter connected with the public administration requires discussion, up starts any member who pleases, and proffers them his advice, no matter whether he be carpenter, smith, or shoemaker, merchant or skipper, rich or poor, high or low. And in this case, no one thinks, as in the former, of objecting to the speaker, that without having received instruction from any quarter, without having any teacher to show, he yet presumes to offer advice; clearly, because they all believe that this knowledge is not capable of being taught. Nay, not only is public business conducted on this principle, but in private life we see our best and wisest citizens unable to impart to others the excellence which themselves possess. Take, for example, Pericles, the father of these two young men. In all that a master could teach, he has educated them, liberally, {320} and well; but in his own wisdom he neither instructs them himself, nor sends them anywhere else to be instructed; but, like oxen consecrated to the gods, they are left to roam and pasture at will, if haply somewhere or other they may light by good fortune on virtue. Do you wish another case?—There is Clinias, the younger brother of our friend here, Alcibiades. His guardian, this same Pericles, for fear, as he said, of his being corrupted by Alcibiades, tore him from the society of the latter, and placed him in Ariphron’s house to be educated. But he had not been there six months before Ariphron restored him to his guardian, as not being able to make anything of him. And so I could cite instance upon instance of men, who, good themselves, have been unable to render better either their own sons or other people’s; and it is, Protagoras, from the observation of such instances as these that I have been led to the belief, that virtue is not a thing that can be taught. Now, however, that I hear you maintain the contrary, that belief is shaken, and I am inclined to think that there must be something in what you say; since I esteem you a man of vast experience, of extensive acquirements, and no inconsiderable invention. If, therefore, you are able to make it clear, by demonstration, that the nature of virtue admits of its being taught, do not grudge us, I beseech you, your proof.

No, Socrates, I will not, he replied. But say, should you prefer me, as beseems an elder when addressing his juniors, to convey my proof in the form of a mythical story, or to go through it step by step in a serious discussion? Many of the party calling out in reply, that he might do whichever he pleased, Well, said he, since you leave me the choice, I think it pleasanter to tell you a story.

There was once a time when, though gods were, mortal races were not. But when there came, by law of fate, a time for these too to be created, the gods fashioned them in the bowels of the earth, out of a mixture of earth and fire, and substances which combine the two. And when they were ready to bring them forth to the light, they charged Prometheus and Epimetheus with the office of equipping them, and dispensing to each of them suitable endowments. Epimetheus, however, entreated his brother to leave the distribution to him; and when I have completed my work, do you, says he, review it.

Having obtained his request, he began to distribute. To some he assigned strength without speed; others, that were weaker, he equipped with speed. Some he furnished with weapons; while for those whom he left weaponless, he devised some other endowment to save them. Animals, which he clad with puny frames, were to find safety in the flight of their wings, or subterranean retreats; those which he invested with size, were {321} by this very size to be preserved. And so throughout the whole of the distribution he maintained the same equalising principle; his object in all these contrivances being to prevent any species from becoming extinct. Having thus supplied them with means of escaping mutual destruction, he proceeded to arm them against the seasons, by clothing them with thick furs and strong hides, proof against winter-frost and summer-heat, and fitted also to serve each of them, when seeking rest, as his own proper and native bed: and under the feet he furnished some with hoofs, others with hair and thick and bloodless skins. His next care was to provide them with different kinds of food: to one class he gave herbs of the field; to another, fruits of trees; to a third, roots; while a fourth he destined to live by making other animals their prey. Such, however, he allowed to multiply but slowly, while their victims he compensated with fecundity, thus ensuring preservation to the species. Forasmuch, though, as Epimetheus was not altogether wise, he unawares exhausted all the endowments at his command on the brute creation; so he still had left on his hands without provision the human family, and he knew not what to do.

While thus embarrassed, Prometheus came up to review his distribution, and found that, while other animals were in all points well suited, man was left naked and barefoot, unbedded and unarmed. Yet now the fated day was close at hand on which man, too, was to go forth, from earth to light. Prometheus therefore, being sorely puzzled what means of safety to devise, steals in his extremity the inventive skill of Hephæstus and Athene, together with fire; for without fire it could neither be acquired, nor used by any; and presented them to the human race.

Thus man obtained the arts of life, but the art of polity he had not; for it was kept in the house of Zeus, and into the citadel, the dwelling of Zeus, Prometheus was no longer allowed to enter; moreover, the watchmen of Zeus were terrible. But into the joint abode of Athene and Hephæstus, where they worked together at the craft they loved, he stole unnoticed, and purloining the fiery art of Hephæstus, and the other proper to Athene, bestowed them on man; and hence man derives {322} abundance for life. But Prometheus, for his brother’s fault, was visited not long after, as the story goes, by the penalty of his theft.

Man being thus made partaker of a divine condition, was, in the first place, by reason of his relationship to God, the only animal that acknowledged gods, and attempted to erect to gods altars and statues. Secondly, by his art he soon articulated sounds and words, and devised for himself houses, and raiment, and shoes, and beds, and food out of the ground.

Thus furnished, men lived at first scattered here and there, but cities there were none. So they fell a prey piecemeal to the beasts of the field, because wherever they met them they were weaker than they, and their mechanical art, though sufficient for their support, was found unequal to the war with beasts. For as yet they had not the art of polity, which comprises the art of war. So they sought to assemble together, and save their lives by founding cities. But often as they assembled they injured one another, for lack of the political art; so that again they dispersed, and again were perishing. Zeus, therefore, fearing for our race that it would be quite destroyed, sent Hermes to take to men justice and shame, that they might be orderers of cities, and links to bring together friendship. Whereupon Hermes inquired of Zeus in what manner he was to present shame and justice to men. Am I to dispense them, he asked, in the same way that the arts have been dispensed? which have been dispensed on this wise: One man received the art of medicine for the use of many not physicians, and so with the other crafts. Is it thus that I am to distribute shame and justice among men, or bestow them on all alike? On all alike, said Zeus; let all partake, for cities cannot be formed if only a few are to partake of them, as of other arts. Nay, more, enact a law from me, that whosoever is incapable of partaking in shame and in justice, be put to death as a pest to a city.

Thus you see the reason, Socrates, why the Athenians and others, when there is a question on excellence in carpentering, or any other manual art, conceive that few only are qualified to advise them; and why, if any one not of the number of the few, presumes to offer his counsel, they refuse him a hearing, as you assert; and refuse it justly, as I maintain. But whenever they come to a debate on political virtue, which ought altogether {323} to depend on justice and prudence, they listen with good reason to every speaker whatsoever, esteeming it every man’s duty to partake of this virtue, if he partakes of no other, as otherwise no city can exist. This, Socrates, is the true reason of the fact. That you may not, however, fancy yourself imposed upon, but may understand that it is really the universal opinion, that all men have a share of justice and political virtue in general, receive this additional proof. In all other kinds of excellence, for instance, if a man professes himself skilled in playing the flute, or in any other art whatsoever, while in reality he is not so, he is pursued, as you observe, with either ridicule or indignation, and his relations come up and reprimand him as a madman. But in the case of justice and political virtue, albeit a man is known to be deficient in such virtue, yet if he tells the truth of himself before many hearers, this confession of the truth, which in the former case was considered good sense, is here looked upon as madness; and it is said that all men ought to profess to be just, whether they are so or not, and that he who does not profess it is out of his senses; it being necessary that every single person should in some degree partake of justice, if he is to live among men.

So much, then, to prove that on this particular virtue they with good reason allow every man to offer his advice, because they believe that every man has a share in it; and further, that they consider it to be, not of natural or spontaneous growth, but that, wherever it exists, it is the result of teaching and study, I will next endeavour to demonstrate. If you take notice of all the evils which men believe their neighbours possess by the fault of nature or of fortune, you will observe that no one is angry with those who are thus afflicted; no one takes them to task; no one attempts to instruct or correct them with a view to their alteration for the better; pity is the only feeling entertained. Who, for instance, is so unreasonable as to visit another with any of these modes of treatment for being low in stature, feeble, or deformed? No one, clearly, because no one, I imagine, is ignorant that evils of this kind, as well as their opposite advantages, accrue to men either by nature or fortune. Look, on the other hand, at those merits which it is believed may be acquired by application, exercise, and instruction; if a man, instead of possessing these merits, possesses the opposite vices, here, if I mistake not, is indignation excited, punishment inflicted, and reproof administered. Now of this kind injustice and impiety are individual instances, while the entire opposite to political virtue composes {324} the class. And for this every man is angry with his neighbour, every man takes his neighbour to task, clearly because every man believes that it is acquired by education and habit. Nay, Socrates, if you will but observe the purport of punishment, it will itself teach you that in the opinion of the world, at any rate, virtue is a thing capable of being acquired. No one when punishing a criminal directs his thought to the fact, or punishes him for the fact of his having committed the crime, unless he be pursuing his victim with the blind vengeance of a reasonless brute. No, he that would punish with reason, punishes not on account of the past offence—for what has been done he surely cannot undo—but for the sake of the future, in order that the offender himself, and all who have witnessed his punishment, may be prevented from offending hereafter. And if he conceives such a notion as this, he also conceives the notion that virtue may be taught; at any rate he punishes with a view of deterring from vice. This, therefore, is the opinion entertained by all who inflict punishment, either in a private or public capacity. Now, punishment and correction are inflicted by all the world on those whom they believe to be guilty, and by none more than by your own citizens, the Athenians; so that, by this reasoning, the Athenians also are in the number of those who consider that virtue may be acquired and taught. That your countrymen, then, have good reason for listening to the advice of a smith or a shoemaker, on political affairs, and that in their opinion virtue is a thing susceptible of being taught and acquired, has been proved to you, Socrates, with arguments which, for my part, I consider convincing.

There still remains, however, a difficulty which puzzles you. You ask how it is that good fathers instruct their children in all knowledge that depends upon teachers, and make them wise therein, but in the virtue wherein they are good themselves they make them no better than others. In answering this question, Socrates, I shall address you no more in fable, but in serious argument. And let us view the matter thus. Is there not some one thing of which all members of a state must partake, if a state it is to be? for here, if anywhere, shall we find the solution of your difficulty. For if such a thing there be, and if this single thing be neither the art of the carpenter, nor of the brazier, nor of the potter, but justice and discretion and holiness, and, in a word, that which I call compendiously a man’s virtue; {325} if this be a thing of which all must partake, and with which every lesson must be learnt, and every deed done, without which no lesson learnt and no deed done; if all who do not partake of it must be instructed and corrected, be they men or women, or children, until by such treatment they are improved; while those who refuse to hearken to the voice of correction and instruction are to be expelled from their country, or put to death as incurable:—if all this be true, and in spite of this being true, virtuous men have their children instructed in all other knowledge, but fail to have them instructed in this, just think what extraordinary people you make of your virtuous men. For we have proved that as individuals and statesmen they believe virtue to be the fruit of education and culture; and, with this belief on their part, is it possible to suppose that they instruct their sons in knowledge where death is not the punishment of ignorance, but that in the knowledge of that, wherein if they fail to instruct their children, they entail upon them the penalty of death, and of exile, and beside death the confiscation of their goods; and, in a word, the utter ruin of their house;—is it possible, I say, to suppose that in the knowledge of this, that is, in the knowledge of virtue, they do not instruct their children and bestow thereon all their care? Surely we must believe they do. Yes, Socrates, from infancy upwards they instruct and admonish them as long as they live. The moment that a child understands what is said to him, the one point contended for by nurse, and mother, and governor, and the father himself, is the progress of their charge in virtue; from every thing that is said and done they take occasion to tell and explain to him, that such a thing is just, and such another unjust, that this conduct is honourable, and that disgraceful, that one deed is holy, and another impious; this you must do, they say, and that you must not do. If the child yield a willing obedience, all is well; if not, they treat him like a young tree that is twisted and bent, and try to straighten him with threats and blows. After this, they send him to school, with a strict charge to the master to pay far greater heed to the good behaviour of the children than to their progress in reading and music. And the master does make this his principal care, and as soon as his boys have learned their letters, and are in a condition to understand what is written, as before what was spoken, he sets before them on their benches the works of good poets to read, and compels them to learn them by heart, choosing such poems as contain moral admonitions, and many a narrative interwoven with praise and panegyric {326} on the worthies of old, in order that the boy may admire, and emulate, and strive to become such himself. And exactly on a similar principle the study of the music-master is to produce sobriety of character, and deter the young from the commission of evil; and further, when he has taught them to play, he again instructs them in the works of other good poets, selecting lyric poems for their use, which he sets to his music, and compels the minds of his pupils to be familiarized with measure and harmony, to the end that their natures may be softened, and that, by becoming more sensible to time and tune, they may be better qualified to speak and to act. For the life of man in all its stages requires modulation and harmonizing. Nay more, they send them to gymnastic schools, in order that by an increase of bodily strength they may be better able to serve their virtuous minds, and not be compelled by physical infirmity to shrink from their post in war and other emergencies. Such is the course of education adopted by those fathers who are best able to follow it, that is to say, by the wealthiest citizens; and their sons are the first to go to school, and the last to leave it. And as soon as they are released from school, the state on its part constrains them to learn its laws, and live by them as by a model, that they may not follow the random bent of their own inclinations. And exactly as writing-masters underrule lines with their pen for such pupils as are still awkward at writing, before they give them their writing lesson, and oblige them to follow in their writing the direction of the lines; so, too, does the state mark out a line of laws, the discoveries of good and ancient lawgivers, which it forces its members to be guided by, as well in exercising as in obeying authority, while it visits with punishment all who transgress the line; and the name given to this punishment, both here and in other places, is correction, under the notion that justice directs. So great then being the attention paid to virtue both by states and individuals, do you wonder, Socrates, and doubt if virtue is capable of being taught? You ought not to wonder at that, but much rather, if it were not capable.

How does it happen, then, that virtuous fathers have frequently unworthy sons? Hear the reason; for neither in this is there anything to wonder at, if it be true, as I previously remarked, that virtue is a pursuit wherein no member of a state, if it is to be a state, must {327} be altogether uninitiated. For if what I say be true, as most incontestably it is, consider the case by selecting in the way of example some other pursuit and subject of instruction. Suppose for instance, that it were impossible for a state to exist without all its members being flute-players in a greater or less degree, according to their several capacities; suppose that all both publicly and privately were taught to play, and reproached if they played ill, and that no one envied another this attainment, just as under existing circumstances no one either envies a man his justice and his obedience to law, or affects to conceal his own, as he does his other accomplishments—for each of us, I imagine, finds his own interest in his neighbour’s justice and virtue, and therefore all are eager to tell and teach to all the dictates of justice and law. Suppose, I repeat, that in the art of playing the flute we were all ready to instruct one another with the same zeal and freedom from jealousy; do you imagine, Socrates, that the sons of superior flute-players would be at all more likely to turn out superior performers than the sons of inferior players? I think they would not; but any man’s son who chanced to be born with a genius for flute-playing would rise to distinction, and if the genius were wanting, so would be the distinction; and often would it happen that a skilful player would be followed by an unskilful son, and an unskilful father by a skilful son. But still I feel sure that all would be competent players by the side of those who did not make flute-playing their business or their study. This then is the light in which I wish you to view our present condition. Select the individual whom you consider the most deficient in justice of all who have been trained in law and society, and you will find him not only just, but a perfect master in justice when compared with men who have neither training, nor tribunal, nor laws, nor any necessity ever compelling them to cultivate virtue, but who are in fact savages, like the wild men represented on the stage last year by the poet Pherecrates, at the Lenæan festival. I am confident that if you were thrown among such men as those, like the misanthropical chorus in the play, you would be only too happy to fall in with a Eurybates or a Phrynondas, and would mourn with tears of regret for the villainy of your worst citizens here. But now you are fastidious, Socrates, and because all men are teachers of virtue to the best of their several abilities, you believe that it is taught by none. Again, if you were to search in Athens for a teacher of Greek, you would not find a single one, and equally unsuccessful, I imagine, would {328} you be if you were to look for a master competent to instruct the sons of our mechanics in the very trade which they have learnt from their father, as well as their father and his fellow-craftsmen were able to teach it. No, Socrates, if you wanted a teacher for such proficients as these, it would be no easy matter to discover one; but if for boys quite ignorant of the trade, you would find one with no trouble at all. And similar is the difficulty with respect to virtue and all those other qualities. But if there be any among us ever so little more capable than others of advancing men on the road to virtue, you may be well content. Now of this number I conceive that I am one; and I flatter myself that far above all other men do I understand the art of making a virtuous gentleman, and that my lessons are well worth the price I demand, aye and a still larger one, so much so that even the pupil himself allows it. And therefore the plan I have adopted in asking my terms is this. As soon as a pupil has finished his course, he pays me, if willing, the full amount of my demand; if not, he goes to an altar, and there he makes on oath his own estimate of the value of my instructions, and pays me accordingly.

Such are my proofs, Socrates, both in fable and serious argument, in favour of the propositions, that virtue is capable of being taught, and that it is such in the opinion of the Athenians, and that there is nothing surprising in good fathers having bad sons, or in bad fathers having good sons; since to take from the various professions one case out of many, the sons of Polyclitus, the companions of our friends here, Paralus and Xanthippus, are nothing in comparison with their father. But of Paralus and Xanthippus, it is not as yet fair to predicate this; for their youth allows us to hope.

After this lengthened and varied display, Protagoras ceased to speak. And for a long while I sat enchanted, with my eyes still fixed on him, in the expectation of his saying something more, and in my eagerness to hear it. At last, when I perceived that he had really finished, I with some difficulty recovered myself, and turning to Hippocrates, said, How thankful I am to you, son of Apollodorus, for having induced me to come hither—so high a privilege do I account it to have heard what I have heard from Protagoras. For, heretofore, I was of opinion that there was no method of human culture by which the virtuous acquired their virtue; but now I am persuaded there is. Only one slight difficulty remains in my mind, which I am sure that Protagoras will easily elucidate, since he has elucidated so much. For if you were to apply to any of our public men for {329} an explanation of these very matters, to Pericles, for instance, or some other able speaker, you might possibly hear from them as fine a speech as has just been delivered; but if you were to proceed with your interrogations, you would find them like books, unable either to give you an answer, or to ask any question themselves; but if you start ever so slight an inquiry with respect to any remark they have made, exactly in the way that a vessel of brass, when struck, rings loud, and continues to ring, unless you stop it by laying on your finger, so do these orators respond to the shortest question, with an harangue of inordinate length. But not so our Protagoras. He is not only equal, as the fact proves, to the delivery of long and beautiful speeches, but he is also able to return a short answer to a short question, and when questioner in his turn, he can wait till he has received his answer—gifts these of rare attainment. Now, therefore, Protagoras, as I only want one slight explanation to be entirely satisfied, I trust to you for answering me this: You assert that virtue is susceptible of being taught, and if there be a man in the world on whose word I would believe it, I believe it on yours. But there was one thing that puzzled me, as you were speaking, and on this pray satisfy my mind. You said that Zeus sent justice and shame as a present to men; and again, in several places in your discourse, you spoke of justice, and discretion, and holiness, and similar qualities, as making all together one thing, which you called virtue. This, then, is the point that I wish to be accurately explained. Is virtue one thing, and are justice, discretion, holiness, parts of it, or are all these but so many names of one and the same thing? This is what I still want to know.

Well, Socrates, he said, if this be all, I shall have no difficulty in answering you. These qualities of which you ask are all parts of one thing, of virtue.

But are they parts, I asked, like the parts of a face, like the mouth, nose, ears, and eyes; or, like the parts of gold, do they exactly resemble one another and the whole, except in being greater or smaller?

Like the former, I consider, Socrates. They bear the same relation to virtue that the parts of a face bear to the entire face.

How then, said I, are these parts of virtue distributed among men? Do some men have one, and some another; or, if a man has received one, must he of necessity have all?

Certainly not, Socrates. Many men are courageous without being just, many are just without being wise.

Then these, too, are parts of virtue, said I, wisdom {330} and courage?

Most assuredly they are, said he. Why, wisdom is chief of all the parts.

And every one of these parts is different from every other. Is it not so? I asked.

It is, he replied.

And every one of them has a distinct function, like the parts of a face? An eye, you know, is not like an ear, nor is its function the same; and so of the other parts, there is not one like any other, either in function or in anything else. Is it the same then with the parts of virtue? do they all differ from one another, at once in themselves and their functions? Is it not clear though, that such must be the case, at least, if we are to keep to our comparison?

Well, Socrates, it is the case.

If so, I continued, there are none of the other parts of virtue like wisdom, or like justice, or like courage, or like discretion, or like holiness.

None, he said.

Come then, said I, let us examine together into the character of each of these parts. And, first, of justice. Is justice a thing, or not a thing? For my part, I believe it to be a thing. But what do you?

I believe so, too.

To proceed. If a man were to say to you and me, Protagoras and Socrates, be good enough to tell me whether this thing, as you have just called it, this justice, is, in itself, just or unjust? I should answer, Just; but what would be your decision? The same as mine, or different?

The same, he replied.

The nature, then, of justice is to be just, I should say, if he were to ask me the question. Should you?

I should.

And if he were to proceed to enquire whether we believed in the existence of holiness as well, we should doubtless assent.

True, he answered.

And if he were to ask whether we called this a thing also, we should assent again.

So we should.

But if he were further to enquire whether we considered the nature of this thing to be holy, or unholy, I, for my part, should be indignant at the question, and should reply, Speak reverently, my good sir; it were hard for anything else to be holy, if holiness itself were not holy. And you, should you not answer thus?

Most certainly I should.

If, however, to these questions he were to add the following, But what was it, my good friends, that you said a little time ago? Did I not hear you aright? I fancied you said that the parts of virtue were so disposed among themselves, as to bear no resemblance one to another. To this I should reply, For the rest you heard aright; but when you thought that I too made this remark, your hearing deceived you. No, this was {331} Protagoras’s answer to a question of mine. On hearing this, if he were to turn to you, and say, Protagoras, does Socrates speak the truth? do you maintain that the different parts of virtue are all unlike each other? was this assertion yours? what would be your reply?

I should be forced to allow that it was, said he.

After this admission, Protagoras, what would be our answer if he were to proceed thus? It appears, then, that it is not the nature of holiness to be a just thing, nor of justice to be a holy thing; but, rather, of holiness to be a thing that is not just, and of justice to be a thing that is not holy; that is to say, holiness is an unjust thing, and justice an unholy thing. Well, what is to be our answer? On my own account I should reply, that, as for myself, I believed justice to be holy, and holiness just; and on yours, too, I should be glad, if you would allow me, to make the same answer; at any rate, to say that justice and holiness, if not exactly the same, resembled each other as nearly as possible; and that nothing was so like holiness as justice, or like justice as holiness. Determine, then, whether you would forbid me to make this reply, or whether your opinion coincides with mine.

I certainly do not think, Socrates, that it is so unconditionally true, as to demand my unqualified assent, that justice is holy, and holiness just. There appears to me to be a difference between them. But what matters that? If you wish it, I am quite ready to allow that holiness is just, and justice holy.

Pardon me, said I. It is not at all my object to examine into an “If you wish it,” or an “If you think so;” but into what you think, and what I think: that is to say, I consider that our argument will be most successfully investigated by putting “ifs” altogether out of the question.

Well, Socrates, said he, there is no doubt that justice and holiness are somewhat alike; for there are no two things in the world that do not, in some point of view, resemble one another. There are points of resemblance between black and white, hard and soft, and other qualities which are believed to be most diametrically opposed to each other. In fact, those very parts which we said just now had different functions and different natures—the parts, that is, of the face—do, in certain respects, resemble one another. So that, in this way, you might go on to prove, if you chose, that all things are alike. But it is not fair to call things like, because they have some point of resemblance; nor unlike, because they have some point of dissimilarity, if, in either case, the point be a very small one.

To this I replied with wonder, Do you mean to say then, that, in your opinion, the relation between justice and holiness is that of the faintest resemblance?

I don’t quite say this, he replied; but neither, on the other hand, am I inclined to take your view of the {332} matter.

Well, said I, since this question seems to put you out of humour, let us allow it to pass; and from the other things you said select the following for consideration.

Is there a thing you call folly?

There is.

And is not the direct contrary of this thing wisdom?

I think so.

When men act correctly and beneficially, are they discreet, think you, in so acting; or would they be, if they were to act in the opposite manner?

Discreet in so acting.

Are they not discreet by virtue of discretion?

Of course they are.

And do not those who do not act correctly, act foolishly, and show themselves not discreet in so acting?

He assented.

It appears then that acting foolishly is the contrary to acting discreetly.

It does, he said.

Is it not true, I asked, that what is done foolishly is done through folly, and what is done discreetly, through discretion?

To this he agreed.

And that if a thing be done through strength, it is done strongly; if through weakness, weakly?

Yes, he answered.

And if with quickness, quickly; and if with slowness, slowly?


And, in short, that if anything is done in such and such wise, it is done by virtue of the corresponding quality; and if contrariwise, by the contrary quality?


To proceed, said I, Is there such a thing as beauty?

There is.

And has it any contrary except deformity?


Again, is there such a thing as good?


Has it any contrary except evil?


Once more, is there such a thing as high in sound?

There is, he said.

And is there any contrary to it except low?

Not any.

Has every single thing then only one contrary, and not many?

Only one, I admit.

Come then, said I, let us reckon up our admissions. We have admitted that each thing has one contrary, and no more, have we not?

We have.

And that whatever is done contrariwise, is done by virtue of contraries?


And that whatever is done foolishly, is done contrariwise to that which is done discreetly?


And that what is done discreetly, is done through discretion; what foolishly, through folly?


Well, if they be done contrariwise, they must be done through contraries, must they not?

They must.

And the one is done through discretion, the other through folly, is it not?

Just so.


Of course.

Through contraries then?


It follows then that folly is contrary to discretion?


Do you remember though our agreeing before that folly was contrary to wisdom?

I do.

And that one thing had only one contrary?


Well then, said I, which of our two assertions are we to retract, Protagoras? the one which maintains {333} that one thing has only one contrary, or that, in which it was stated that wisdom and discretion were distinct, both being parts of virtue, and not only distinct but unlike, both in nature and function, just as the parts of the face are unlike? Which of the two, I repeat, are we to retract? for when set side by side these two statements do not present a very musical appearance, as they neither accord nor harmonize with one another. For how can they possibly accord, if on the one hand it is necessary that one thing have only one contrary and no more, and on the other it appears that folly, which is one thing, has wisdom for a contrary and likewise discretion? I state the case correctly, do I not, Protagoras?

He confessed that I did, though sorely against his will.

Might it not be then, said I, that wisdom and discretion are one and the same thing? Just as before we found that justice and holiness were pretty nearly the same. But come now, Protagoras, I added, let us not be fainthearted, but examine the rest. If a man commits injustice, does he appear to you to be discreet in committing it?

I, for my part, Socrates, should be ashamed to avow this; there are many though who do.

Shall I maintain then my argument with them or with you? I asked.

If you like, said he, address yourself to this statement first, the statement of the many.

Well, it makes no difference to me, I said, if you will only answer whether this be your own opinion or not. For it is the statement itself that I am bent on sifting, though it may possibly happen that we are at the same time sifted ourselves—I in asking, and you in answering.

With this proposal Protagoras at first coquetted. The subject is so awkward, he pleaded. At last, however, he agreed to answer.

Come then, said I, answer me from the beginning. Do people appear to you to be discreet when committing injustice?

Be it so, he replied.

By their being discreet, do you mean that they are well advised?

I do.

And by their being well advised, that they take good counsel in committing injustice?


Is this the case if they fare well in committing it, or if they fare ill?

If they fare well.

Do you say then that there are certain good things?

I do.

Are those things good which are advantageous to mankind?

Yes, and there are things, I can tell you, that I call good, though they be not advantageous to mankind. And by this time Protagoras seemed to be fairly exasperated and sorely fretted, and to be stedfastly set against answering any more. So, seeing him in this state, I was cautious, and asked him softly, Will you {334} tell me, Protagoras, whether you speak of things which are advantageous to no man, or of things which in no respect whatever are advantageous? Is it the latter sort that you call good?

By no means, he answered. I know of many things which are disadvantageous to men, meats, and drinks, and drugs, and a thousand other things, and of things too which are advantageous. There are things also which to men are neither the one nor the other, though they are to horses, or to oxen, or to dogs; while there are other things again which are neither good nor bad for any animal, but only for trees. And here again there is a distinction; some things are good for the roots, but bad for the branches. Dung, for instance, is a capital thing for the roots of all plants when laid at the roots, but if you choose to lay it on the branches and young shoots, you destroy the tree. Then again there is oil, which is very bad for all plants, and most destructive to the hair of every animal but man, while to man it is of service not only for his hair, but also for the rest of his body. Nay, so varied and multifarious a thing is good, that even this very thing of which we are speaking is good for external application, but the worst thing in the world to be taken internally. And for this reason medical men make a point of forbidding their patients the use of oil, save only of the smallest possible quantity in what they are going to eat, of just enough, in fact, to drown the disagreeableness in their viands and seasonings which impresses itself on their organs of smell.

This harangue was received by the party present with clamorous approval. For myself, I said, Protagoras, it is my misfortune to be a forgetful sort of person, and if a man makes me a long speech, I forget what it is all about. Just then as, if I had chanced to be short of hearing, you would have considered it necessary, if intending to converse with me, to speak louder than you do to other people; so now, since I happen to be short of memory, you must curtail me your answers, and make them briefer, if you mean me to keep up with you.

In what sense do you bid me make them briefer? he asked. Are they to be briefer than is proper?

Oh dear no, I replied.

Are they to be the proper length?

Precisely, I said.

Pray then must I answer you at the length which I consider proper, or which you consider proper?

Protagoras, I answered, I have certainly heard that you both possess yourself the gift, and can teach it to others, of speaking, if you choose, on any given subject at such a length, that your speech never comes to an end, and then again on the same subject so concisely that no one expresses himself in fewer words. If therefore you intend to converse with me, I must request {335} you to adopt your latter style, your brevity.

Socrates, he answered, I in my time have entered the lists of argument with many men, and had I been in the habit of doing as you recommend, of talking, that is, as my antagonist bade me talk, I should be still a mere nobody, and the name of Protagoras would never have been heard in Greece.

Then I, knowing that he had not pleased himself with his former answers, and that he would not consent if he could help it to go on answering, and feeling in consequence that it was no longer my business to be present at the meeting, addressed him thus: I can assure you, Protagoras, that I for my part am not desirous of carrying on our conversation in a way that you dislike, but as soon as you like to talk in such a manner that I can keep pace with you, I shall then be happy to converse. For you, as fame says, and you say yourself, are capable of conducting a discourse in a style both of brevity and prolixity—for you are a clever man; but I have not the gift for these long speeches, albeit I should have liked well to possess it. It was your place therefore, as master of both styles, to have given me the choice, that so we might have managed a conversation. But now since you refuse to do so, and I have an engagement, and could not wait while you launched out into long orations—being required elsewhere—I will take myself off; otherwise I might possibly have heard even long speeches from you not unpleasantly.

With these words I rose to depart. And as I was rising, Callias seized my hand with his right, and with his left laid hold of my cloak thus, and said, We won’t let you go, Socrates; for if you leave us, we shall find our conversation no longer the same thing. I beg, therefore, that you will remain with us; for I know nothing that I would more gladly hear than a discussion between you and Protagoras. So pray oblige us all. To this I replied, having already risen to leave the house, Son of Hipponicus, charmed as I always am with your philosophic spirit, I now love and admire it more than ever. So that it would give me great pleasure to comply with your request, if it were but feasible. But now it’s just as if you were to ask me to keep up with a runner in his prime, like Crison of Himera; or to compete in speed with one of our long-distance runners or couriers. Were you to ask me to do this, I should reply, You cannot be so anxious for me, as I am {336} for myself, to keep up with such runners as these; but as I cannot, I do not try. No, if you want to see me and Crison running together, you must ask him to come down to my level; for he can manage a slow pace, though I cannot a fast. And so in the present matter, if you are desirous of hearing Protagoras and me, you must request him to answer, as he did at first, briefly, and to the question. Otherwise, what is to be the plan of our conversation? for my part, I always thought there was a distinction between conversing and haranguing.

But you see, Socrates, said he, Protagoras’s proposal is only just; he demands for himself permission to converse as he pleases, and leaves the same liberty to you.

That’s not fair, Callias, broke in Alcibiades. My friend Socrates here confesses that he has no notion of making long speeches, and yields the palm therein to Protagoras; but, in the power of conversing, and knowing how to give and answer a question, I should be surprised if he finds his master anywhere. If, therefore, Protagoras, on his side, admits that he is a worse hand than Socrates at conversing, Socrates is content; but if he professes to be his match, let him maintain the conversation with question and answer, and not launch out into a long harangue, whenever a question is proposed, for the purpose of eluding his opponent’s arguments; and, instead of rendering a simple answer, protracting his speech to such a length, that most of the hearers forget what the question was about; though, as for Socrates himself, I’ll be bound that he will not forget, for all his joking and pretending to have a bad memory. I, therefore, (as every one of us ought to declare his opinion,) maintain that Socrates’s proposal is the fairer of the two.

After Alcibiades, it was Critias, if I remember right, who spoke. Prodicus and Hippias, he said, Callias appears to me to be very much on the side of Protagoras; and Alcibiades, as usual, is a vehement stickler for whatever he has set his heart upon. It is our business, however, to take no part in the quarrel, either with Socrates or Protagoras; but impartially request of them both not to break up our meeting in the middle.

Critias having thus spoken, Prodicus began. Very {337} well said, Critias, in my opinion. It is the duty of all who are present in a conversation of this kind, to regard both sides with impartiality, but not with equality. For I conceive there is a difference. To both we should give an impartial hearing; but not reward both with an equal meed: but the cleverer of the two with a greater, and the less clever with a less. I therefore, in my turn, Protagoras and Socrates, request of you both to make concessions; and in considering the question, to debate, if you will, but not to wrangle; for friends debate with friends, just out of friendship, but those only wrangle who are at variance and feud with one another. And thus your conversation will be best for us all. For, on the one hand, you, the speakers, will by this means be most likely to obtain from us, the hearers, approbation, and not praise,—for approbation is felt in the mind of the listener, and there is no deception in it; but praises are often bestowed by those who falsify with their lips the belief of their hearts;—and we, on the other hand, the hearers, shall thus be most likely to feel delight, not pleasure;—for a man feels delight in learning, and in partaking of wisdom in his mind: but pleasure in eating and experiencing any other agreeable sensation merely in the body.

Thus spake Prodicus, and was very generally applauded; and after Prodicus, Hippias the learned took up the word. My friends who are here present, he began, I regard you all as of one kin and family and country by nature, though not by law: for like is akin to like by nature, but law, which lords it over men, does frequently violence to nature. It were a shame then in us to know the nature of things, to be the wisest men of Greece, and in this very character to have now met together in that city of Greece which is the home and altar of Grecian wisdom, and in that city’s greatest and wealthiest house, and yet to exhibit no result worthy of this our rank, but, like the lowest of mankind, to quarrel with one another. It is at once therefore my entreaty and my advice to you, Protagoras and Socrates, that you will allow us as arbiters to mediate between you; and do not you, Socrates, insist {338} upon this your strict method of talking, which admits only of the extremest brevity, if such a method is disagreeable to Protagoras, but allow yourself more liberty, and give the rein to your words, in order that they may appear before us with greater majesty and grace; and for you, Protagoras, do not stretch every rope, spread every sail, and, losing sight of land, run before the wind into your ocean of words, but see both of you whether you cannot cut out some middle course between you. Such then is the plan you should adopt, and, if you take my advice, you will elect an umpire, and a chairman, and a president, who will take care that neither of you transgress on either side the bounds of moderation.

This proposal pleased the party, and, all approving it, Callias repeated that he would not let me go, and I was requested to name a president. To which I replied, that it would be unworthy of us to select an umpire for our conversation. If, I urged, the object of our choice is found to be our inferior, it cannot be well for such a person to preside over his betters, nor can it be well if he turn out to be an equal, for being himself no better than we are, his acts will be no better either; so that our election will prove to have been superfluous. But you will appoint, you say, a superior to the post. To tell you the truth, I do not believe that it is in your power to elect a wiser man than Protagoras; but if you appoint one who is not superior, though you maintain he is, Protagoras is still exposed to the indignity of having a president set over him like a common man. For myself, I say nothing—it makes no difference to me. But I will tell you what I will do to gratify your desire for the continuance of our meeting and conversation. If Protagoras does not like answering, let him take the questioning part, and I will answer, and in doing so will endeavour to show the sort of answers that, in my opinion, ought to be given. And as soon as I have answered all the questions he may choose to propose, let him in turn answer mine in a similar manner. And should he still evince an unwillingness to keep to the question in his answers, I will then join with you all in entreating him, as you are now entreating me, not to destroy our party. And so there will be no need for a single president to be appointed; you will all discharge the office jointly. This plan of mine being universally sanctioned, Protagoras was compelled, though with a very bad grace, to agree to begin by asking questions, and when he had asked enough, to give brief answers in his turn to any question of mine. He commenced then pretty nearly thus:

In my opinion, Socrates, one of the most important elements in a gentleman’s education is a critical knowledge of poetry, and by this I understand the capacity of distinguishing between such passages in the poets {339} as are correctly and incorrectly composed, and the power of discussing them scientifically, and giving reasons when questioned about them. Accordingly, the question which I now have to propose, though it will relate to the subject which you and I are at present discussing, that is to say, to virtue, shall be transferred to the region of poetry. This shall be the only difference. If I remember right, Simonides says to Scopas, son of Creon the Thessalian, No doubt to become a good man truly is hard, a man in hand and foot and heart complete, wrought to a faultless work. Do you know the ode, or shall I give it you entire?

Not the slightest occasion, thank you, I replied. I not only know the piece, but have studied it with considerable attention.

I am glad to hear it, he returned. Pray then do you consider it a beautiful and correct composition?

Certainly I do, very beautiful and correct.

And do you think it beautiful if the poet contradicts himself?

Certainly not, said I.

Look at it closer then, said he.

You are very good, I answered; but I have looked at it close enough.

Are you aware, then, he continued, that in the course of the poem he proceeds, if I mistake not, to say, Ill do I accord with that word of Pittacus, though it fell from the lips of a sage, “ ’Tis hard to be good.” You observe, that it is the same person who makes both this remark and the former one?

I do, I answered.

And do you think them consistent with each other?

I must confess I do, I replied. At the same time, though, I was sorely frightened, lest there should be something in what he said. However I continued, but perhaps you don’t.

Why how, said he, can I possibly think a writer consistent with himself who makes both these assertions? who in the first place premises in his own person, that it is hard truly to become a good man, and yet, before he has advanced any distance in his poem is so oblivious as to find fault with Pittacus for saying, as he had said himself, that it is hard to be good, and declares that he cannot admit such an assertion, though it is exactly the same as his own. Surely it is evident that in finding fault with a man, who says only what he has said himself, he finds fault with himself as well; so that in the first passage or the second he is clearly wrong.

These remarks drew from many of the hearers clapping and applause. For myself, at first, just as if a blow had been dealt me by a skilful boxer, I was blinded and stunned at once by the speech of my antagonist, and the plaudits of his supporters. At last, with a view (to confess to you the truth) of gaining time to consider the sense of the poet, I turned to Prodicus, and calling out to him, said, Prodicus, sure Simonides {340} is a countryman of yours. You are bound to come to his aid. And in thus inviting your assistance, I can fancy myself using the words of Scamander to Simois, when beset by Achilles; for according to Homer he summons him thus:

Come, brother, hasten; let us both unite

To quell a mortal’s too presumptuous might.

And so I now call upon you to join me in saving our friend Simonides from being demolished by Protagoras. And I can assure you, the defence requires all that exquisite art of yours, whereby you prove that to wish and to desire are not the same, and which supplied you with those numerous and delicate distinctions which you just now established. And now consider whether your opinion agrees with mine. Mine is, that Simonides does not contradict himself in this matter; but before I support it, I wish you to publish yours.

Do you conceive that becoming and being are identical or different?

Different, to be sure, said Prodicus.

And did not Simonides in the first passage declare his own opinion, that to become a good man truly is hard?

He did, was the reply.

And afterwards he condemns Pittacus,—not, as Protagoras supposes, for making the same assertion that he had made himself, but for a different one. For Pittacus does not make, like Simonides, the difficulty to consist in becoming good, but in being good. And let me tell you, Protagoras, on the authority of Prodicus, that being good and becoming are not the same. And if being is not the same with becoming, Simonides does not contradict himself. And I should not wonder if Prodicus and many others of the party were to bring forward Hesiod, to prove that no doubt to become good is hard; for in front of virtue, he says, the gods have placed sweat; but when you are come to the top, for all its being so hard, it is easy to possess.

As soon as I had finished, Prodicus complimented me, but Protagoras rejoined:

Your amendment, Socrates, involves a greater error than what you would amend.

If so, I replied, my work has been unfeatly done, and I am a sorry sort of physician; in attempting to cure I augment the disease.

Well, it is so, Socrates, he said.

How do you mean? I asked.

Why, said he, it would argue great folly in the poet, if he really maintained that virtue was so common a thing to possess, when in the universal opinion of mankind it is the hardest thing of all.

How very luckily it happens, said I, that Prodicus is present at our conversation. For you must know, Protagoras, I apprehend, that the art of Prodicus was in old time of a godlike sort, and commenced either {341} with Simonides, or at some still more ancient date. But you, though acquainted with a great many things, are apparently not acquainted with this, whereas I on the contrary am, thanks to the teaching of Prodicus. And so in the present instance you appear to me not to be aware that this very word hard was possibly not understood by Simonides in the sense in which you understand it, but that he was like our friend here, who is constantly taking me to task on the meaning of the word δεινός (terrible, also sharp, clever). For whenever, in lauding you or any other distinguished person, I say of the object of my panegyric, that he is a terrible clever man, Prodicus asks me whether I am not ashamed of myself, for calling good things terrible? Whatever is terrible, says he, is evil; at any rate, no one ever thinks of talking of terrible wealth, or terrible peace, or terrible good health; but men do talk of terrible sickness, and terrible war, and terrible poverty; thereby implying, that whatever is terrible is evil. And so perhaps too the Ceans, with Simonides at their head, conceive what is hard to be evil, or give it some other signification with which you are not acquainted. But what says Prodicus to the question? for he is the person to apply to about Simonides’s language. What did Simonides mean, Prodicus, by the word hard?

Evil, said he.

This then, I suppose, is the reason why he finds fault with Pittacus for saying, “ ’Tis hard to be good,” just as if he had heard him say, that it was evil to be good.

Why what else, Socrates, do you suppose that Simonides does mean? This of course; and he makes it a reproach to Pittacus that he did not know how to distinguish rightly the meaning of words, as being a Lesbian, and reared in a barbarous dialect.

You hear, Protagoras, what Prodicus says. Have you any answer to make?

You are altogether wrong, Prodicus, he answered. I am confident that Simonides meant by hard, just as we all do, not what is evil, but that which, instead of being easy, is done with a great deal of trouble.

Well, to tell you the truth, Protagoras, I said, I agree with you. I believe Simonides did mean this, and what is more, Prodicus knows he did; only he is bantering you, and thinks to try whether you are able to back your own assertions. Since a very strong proof, that, at any rate, Simonides did not understand hard to be evil, is afforded by his very next remark. For he says, that God alone can possess this boon; and I am sure that if he had meant to say that it was evil to be good, he could not at once have added, that none but God can possess good, and have assigned this as a special attribute to the deity. Were this the case, Prodicus would call his countryman an impious profligate, and no true son of Ceos. But what appears to me to be in this poem the intention of Simonides throughout, I am willing to tell you, if you would like, Protagoras, to have a sample of my capacity for the {342} criticism of poetry that you talk about. To this proposal Protagoras answered, Exactly as you please, Socrates; but Prodicus, Hippias, and the rest, pressed me strongly to begin.

Well then, said I, I will endeavour thoroughly to explain to you, the view which I, for my part, take of the poem.

In no countries of Greece is philosophy of higher antiquity, or more generally prevalent, than in Crete and Lacedæmon, and nowhere in the world are sophists more numerous than there. But the inhabitants of these countries deny the fact, and, like those sophists of whom Protagoras told us, affect an unlearned exterior, in order that their superiority in Greece may not be discovered to consist in wisdom, but be thought to depend upon their valour in war, as they imagine that if the secret of their ascendancy were known, it would at once be universally practised. As it is, however, they have so skilfully concealed it, that they have taken in all the would-be Spartans in other states; and, accordingly, you may see these gentlemen getting their ears battered in their ardent emulation, encircling their arms with the straps of the cestus, toiling in the palæstra, and wearing brief cloaks, under the impression, doubtless, that these are the practices to which the Spartans owe their supremacy in Greece. But the Lacedæmonians, wishing to enjoy the society of their native sophists without restraint, and getting wearied of having to meet them in secret, made a clearance by alien-acts of these foreign imitators, and all other strangers in their country, and thenceforward lived in intercourse with their sophists, without foreigners being aware of the fact. And, further, they allow none of their own youth to visit other cities, for fear of their there unlearning the lessons they have learnt at home—a practice which is observed by the Cretans as well. Nay, not only are there men in these countries who pique themselves on their erudition, but women also share their zeal. Now, that my statement is correct, and that the Lacedæmonians are admirably trained in philosophy and the art of words, may be discovered from the following fact. If you converse with the most ordinary Spartan, you find him for a long while in the conversation appearing an ordinary sort of person, but just wait for an opportunity to present itself, and he will shoot at you, like a skilful archer, a notable saying of terse and pointed brevity, so that you, his antagonist, will show no better than a child by his side. And it was observing this very fact which led certain men, in times both past and present, to believe that the Spartan idiosyncrasy consisted rather in a devotion to wisdom than gymnastics, as they were aware that the capacity for uttering pithy sentences of this sort implied in its possessor a finished education. Of this number were Thales of Miletus, Pittacus of Mitylene, Bias the Prienian, {343} Solon among ourselves, Cleobulus of Lindus, Myson of Chene, and the Lacedæmonian Chilon, who was reckoned to make up the seven. All these sages were admirers and lovers and disciples of the Spartan system, and easily may you discover their wisdom to have been after the Spartan model, by the brief and memorable sayings that were uttered by each. Nay, more, when they met together to dedicate the choice offering of their wisdom to Apollo, in his temple at Delphi, they inscribed thereon, in their joint capacity, those famous sayings, which are, you know, on everybody’s lips, Know thyself, and, Nothing in extremes.

What is my object, you will ask, in saying this? It is to show, that among the ancients, philosophy was couched in a style of Laconic pith and brevity. A particular instance of which is afforded by this very saying of Pittacus, “ ’Tis hard to be good;” which, being received with applause by the learned, was passed in private circles from mouth to mouth. Simonides, then, being a man ambitious of philosophic distinction, felt sure that if he were to succeed in overturning this famous dictum, he would, like a novice who had defeated a champion wrestler, establish himself a reputation among the men of his day. It was in opposition, then, to this current saying, and with this ambitious view in thus seeking to suppress it, that he composed the entire ode, according to my view of the matter.

Let us now then all unite in examining the piece, to see whether my view be a correct one. To begin, the very commencement would appear to be insane, if the author wished simply to state the fact that it was hard to be good; for he inserts the words “no doubt,” which seem to be inserted with no object in the world, unless we conceive him engaged in a sort of quarrel with the saying of Pittacus, and that, when Pittacus asserts that it is hard to be good, Simonides contradicts him and says, “It is not so, but to become a good man is hard, Pittacus, in very truth.” Mind, he does not say, “truly good;” it is not to good that he applies the word “truly,” as though he thought that some things were truly good, and others good indeed, but not good truly. No, this would be silly, and not like Simonides. But we must make a transposition of the word “truly,” and presuppose that the two remarks were made in something like the following manner. Pittacus enunciates thus, Mortals, it is hard to be good; and Simonides {344} replies, You are wrong, Pittacus; “be” is not the word, but no doubt to become a good man, in hand and word and thought complete, wrought to a faultless work, is hard in very truth. Thus you see we find a reason for inserting “no doubt,” and the word “truly” seems to be correctly placed at the end of the sentence. And that this is here the sense of the poet, is attested by all the remainder of the poem. For were I to review each passage in it separately, I could abundantly prove it to be a perfect composition; for it is all very charming and elaborate. As, however, it would be too long a matter to analyse it thus, I will content myself with making it clear by a general sketch that the scope of the entire poem is nothing more or less, from beginning to end, than a refutation of Pittacus’s dictum.

For after a brief interval the poet proceeds to assert, just as he would do if maintaining an argument, that though no doubt to become a good man is truly hard, yet for a certain time at least it is possible; but when become so, to remain in this condition, and be, as you say, Pittacus, a good man, is altogether impossible, and more than human. God alone may possess this boon, “but for man, he cannot possibly be other than evil, whom helpless misfortune prostrates.” Who is it then that helpless misfortune prostrates in the command of a ship? Clearly not the landsman; for the landsman is always prostrate. Just then as you cannot throw down a man who is on the ground, but he must be on his legs before you can so throw him as to lay him on the ground; exactly in the same way a man must be possessed of help and resource before he can be prostrated by helpless misfortune, while the man who is ever without help can never possibly be prostrated. A violent storm may overtake the pilot, and make him helpless; a severe season may surprise the farmer, and make him helpless, and so may the physician be made helpless by an analogous professional calamity. For the good man is capable of becoming evil, as is attested by another poet, who says,

The good are sometimes evil, sometimes good;

but the evil man cannot possibly become, but must of necessity ever be, evil. Thus it appears, then, that whenever a helpful, a wise, and a virtuous man is prostrated by helpless misfortune, he cannot possibly be other than evil. But, you say, Pittacus, it is hard to be good; no, the truth is, that to become good no doubt is hard, yet possible; but to be good is impossible quite. For, as the poet continues, “Every man is good by faring well, and evil by faring ill.” What then is faring well with regard to letters? and what makes a man good in letters? Clearly the learning of letters. {345} And what kind of faring well makes a good physician? Clearly the learning of the treatment of the sick. “And evil,” he says, “by faring ill.” Who then is capable of becoming an evil physician? Clearly the man who starts with being in the first instance a physician, and in the second a good physician. For he can also become a bad physician. But we who are unprofessional cannot possibly become, by faring ill, either physicians, or carpenters, or anything of the kind; and whosoever cannot become a physician by faring ill, obviously cannot become an evil physician either. Thus you see it is only the good man that can ever become evil, whether he become so by decay, or pain, or disease, or any other casualty—for this alone is evil faring, to lose one’s knowledge—but the evil man can never become evil, for he is alway evil; if he would fain become evil, he must first become good. So that this part of the poem also tends to prove that it is not possible to be a good man in the sense of continuing good, but to become good is possible, just as it is to become evil. And they, adds the poet, are best for the longest time whom the gods love.

And if it be plain that these passages are directed against Pittacus, the aim of the poet in the following is still more clearly marked. For thus he proceeds: “Wherefore never will I, in quest of that which cannot be, throw away a part of life on empty bootless hope; in quest, I say, of an all-blameless man among us, who feeds on the fruits of the wide-bosomed earth. When I find one, I will let you know.” So vehemently and uniformly throughout the poem does he persist in attacking that expression of Pittacus. “But all I praise and love willingly who do nought vile—with necessity not even gods contend.” And this again is directed to the same point. For Simonides was not so ill-informed as to express his admiration of those who committed no evil willingly, as though he imagined there were any in the world who did commit evil willingly. I had almost said, that no wise man ever entertained the opinion, that any mortal errs willingly, or commits base and wicked actions willingly. On the contrary, wise men well know that all who do base and evil deeds, do them involuntarily. And so Simonides, as a wise man, does not profess himself an admirer of those who do not commit evil willingly; but he predicates the willingness of himself. For he conceived it to be frequently the duty of a good and noble man to force himself to become the friend and admirer of others,—for instance, {346} when a man is unfortunate enough to have an unworthy father or mother or country, or any similar tie. Now wicked men, when subject to any evil of this kind, observe it with a kind of satisfaction; and draw attention to it by their vituperations, and enlarge on the enormity,—whether in their parents or their country,—in order that, while they neglect their own duty towards them, men may not make such neglect a ground of accusation, or reproach. And thus their censure far exceeds what is merited; and, to unavoidable causes of dislike, they add causes of their own making. Whereas good men, on the contrary, dissemble in such cases, and compel themselves to speak even the language of praise; and, if ever at all enraged with their parents, or country, for wrong inflicted, they sober and tranquillize their feelings, and seek a reconciliation by forcing themselves into a condition to love and admire those who are thus connected with them. And so, I imagine, did Simonides frequently find it his duty to speak of a tyrant, or some similar character, in terms of admiration and panegyric,—not willingly, remember, but by compulsion. This, then, explains what he says to Pittacus. If I blame you, Pittacus, it is not because I am fond of blaming; since I, for my part, am content with a man who is not evil or helpless quite; who does but know the justice that saves a city, and is of sound mind. Such a man I will not censure; for censure I do not love: besides, infinite is the family of fools (thereby implying, that if a man were fond of blaming, he might take his fill by blaming these). Sure, all is fair wherewith foul is not mixt. And by this he does not mean the same as if he had said, Sure, all is white wherewith black is not mixt; for this would be absurd, in more ways than one: but what he does mean to say is, that he admits of a mean which he does not condemn. And I search not, he says, for an all-blameless man among us, who feeds on the fruits of the wide-bosomed earth; when I find one, I will let you know. So that if on this depended praise, I should praise none; but I am content with one who holds the mean, and does no evil; since all I love and praise (here, as addressing Pittacus, he used the dialect of Mitylene); since all I love and praise willingly (here, at the word willingly, we must make the pause in reading) who do nought vile; there are some, though, whom I praise and love against my will. Thee, therefore, Pittacus, hadst thou spoken but moderate sooth and reason, I {347} would never have blamed; but now, as thy lie is uttered, and on the greatest things, while thou fanciest thyself speaking truth, I cannot choose but give thee blame.

Such, Prodicus and Protagoras, I conclude to have been the object which Simonides had in view in the composition of this poem.

And a very fair exposition you have made of it, too, Socrates, in my opinion, said Hippias. I however, gentlemen, he continued, possess a critique of my own on this piece,—a very good one,—which I am willing to propound to you, if you would like to hear it.

Thank you, Hippias, cried Alcibiades; another day, if you please. To-day it’s only fair that Protagoras and Socrates should fulfil their mutual agreement; which binds Socrates to reply, if Protagoras has any further question to propose: but to ask questions himself, if Protagoras prefers to answer.

Yes, I said, I leave it to Protagoras to choose whichever is more agreeable to him. But, Protagoras, I added, if you have no objection, I should like to drop these criticisms on songs and poems, and should much prefer coming to a conclusion on the former subject of our inquiry, by investigating it in company with you. For, I must confess, I think that talking about poetry bears a close resemblance to the festive amusements of the vulgar and uneducated. For these people, being too ignorant to converse together over their cups, through the medium of their own voices and words, keep up the prices of flute-players, by hiring, for large sums, the foreign aid of their flutes, and entertaining each other through their voices. But in the banquets of gentlemen and scholars, you will see neither dancing-girls nor women that play on the flute or the lyre; but you will find the guests themselves equal to the task of conversing, without these puerile toys, by their own voices; both speaking and listening in turn, with decency and order, even though they have drunk a great quantity of wine. And so, too, parties like the present, if indeed composed of such men as most of us profess to be, have no need to borrow the foreign voices even of poets, whom it is impossible to interrogate as to their meaning; but who are cited as authorities by combatants in their talk, while both sides assign a different sense to the citation, and persist in disputing a point, which they can never satisfactorily settle. No; wise men care nothing for such entertainment as this: but entertain each other with their own stores, by {348} giving and receiving mutually, in their own conversation, proofs of their capacity. And such is the example which, it appears to me, you and I ought rather to imitate; let us throw the poets on one side, and, conducting the discourse by our own unaided efforts, bring at once truth and our own selves to the test. Should you, therefore, wish still to interrogate, I am ready to lend myself to you in reply: but if you prefer answering, do you lend me your aid in bringing to a conclusion that enquiry, of which we abandoned the discussion in the middle.

Notwithstanding these and similar remarks on my part, Protagoras continued to keep us in the dark as to the course he should prefer, upon which Alcibiades looked at Callias, and said, Callias, do you still think that Protagoras acts fairly in refusing to let us know whether he will answer or not? For my part, I certainly do not think that he does. No, let him either continue the conversation, or tell us at once that he is unwilling to do so, in order that his unwillingness being once clearly understood, we may either get Socrates to converse with some one else, or find another pair willing to engage in a discussion. Whereupon, Protagoras being piqued, as it appeared to me, by this remark of Alcibiades, and being pressed by Callias and nearly all the remainder of the party, was at length induced, though with great difficulty, to renew the conversation, which he did by requesting me to start my inquiries, as he was now ready to reply.

So I began. Pray do not imagine, Protagoras, that I have ever any other design in conversing with you, than a wish to examine thoroughly into difficulties which I cannot of myself unravel. I think that Homer was very right in saying, When two go together, one observes before the other. For so do all of us mortals acquire a greater facility for every deed, and word, and thought. But if haply a man has thought alone, he straightway goes up and down, and searches till he find some one else to whom he may communicate his thought, and in concert with whom he may verify it. And this is the reason why I have great pleasure in conversing with you than with any other man in the world, as I am persuaded that none are so well capable of investigating all subjects which are worth the good man’s study, and in particular the subject of virtue. For to whom but you should I apply? when not only do you profess yourself a virtuous gentleman, just as is professed by many good people, who cannot impart their goodness to others, but when, besides being virtuous yourself, you are able to make others virtuous also; when, further, your confidence in yourself is so implicit, that, whereas it is the custom with other masters of your art to dissemble it with care, you, on {349} the other hand, have yourself publicly cried under the name of a sophist before all the Greeks, and advertise yourself a teacher of accomplishment and virtue; being moreover the first to conceive yourself entitled to receive a price for your instructions. Is it not then every man’s duty to appeal to you for the investigation of these matters, to enquire into your opinions, and communicate his own? Most assuredly it is. And so on the present occasion I am anxious to renew, from the beginning, those questions which I in the first instance proposed to you on these subjects, hoping that you will remind me of points which we decided, and join me in considering others. My enquiry, if I remember right, was this: Wisdom, discretion, courage, holiness, and justice, are these all but five names for one and the same thing; or is there attached to each of these names a distinct idea, and a distinct thing possessing a separate function of its own, whereby it is distinguished from all the rest? To this you replied, that they were not names of one thing, but that each of these names was applied to a distinct thing, and that all these things were parts of virtue, not like the parts of gold, which resemble both one another, and the whole whereof they are parts, but like the parts of the face, which are dissimilar from the whole and from one another, each being possessed of a distinct function. If then you still adhere to your former opinion, tell me; but if you have altered it at all, mark the alteration clearly, as I hold you in no wise accountable for any difference of opinion you may choose to express. Nay, I should not be surprised if your previous answer was merely intended to try me.

Well, Socrates, he said, I tell you that all these qualities are parts of virtue, and that four of them bear a reasonably close resemblance to one another, but that courage is very different indeed from them all. And the following fact will prove my assertion. You will find many men distinguished for injustice, impiety, intemperance, and stupidity, who are yet eminently conspicuous for their courage.

Hold there a moment, I cried, your observation is worth examining. By the courageous, do you mean the daring?

Yes, he said, and those who are ready to plunge into dangers which most men are afraid to encounter.

Again, do you pronounce virtue to be a beautiful thing, and as being a beautiful thing do you come forward to teach it?

Nay, Socrates, as I’m a sane man, I pronounce it to be of all things most beautiful.

Is, however, one part of it beautiful and another ugly, or is it all beautiful?

All beautiful, I consider, and in the highest degree.

Do you know who they are that dive into wells daringly?

Of course I do, said he. Divers. {350}

Is it because they know how to dive, or for some other reason?

Because they know how to dive.

And who are daring fighters on horseback, good riders or bad?

Good riders.

And who are daring as targeteers, those who understand the service or those who do not?

Those who do. And so in everything else, he added, if this is what you are driving at, the scientific are more daring than the unscientific, and the same person when he has acquired the science is more daring than he was before he acquired it.

Have you ever in your life, said I, met with persons who were unscientific in all these matters, and yet engaged in them all with daring?

Certainly I have, and with excessive daring.

Are these daring people also courageous?

If they were, he answered, courage would be far from being a beautiful thing; for these are mere madmen.

Pray how do you define the courageous? I asked. Did you not say they were the daring?

I did, and I say so now.

It would appear then, said I, that those who are daring in this way are not courageous, but mad; and from the former instances I adduced, that the wisest men are also most daring, and as being most daring are most courageous. So that by this reasoning, wisdom would be courage, would it not?

You do not rightly remember, Socrates, he answered, what I said in reply to your question. When asked by you whether the courageous were daring, I agreed they were, but whether the daring also were courageous, you did not ask me then. Had you done so, I should have replied, Not all. But that the courageous are not daring, and that I was wrong in admitting they were, you have nowhere proved. Instead of doing so, you take the trouble of showing, that those who possess science are more daring than they were themselves before they possessed it, and more daring than others who do not possess it, and thereby you conclude that courage and wisdom are identical. But, by pursuing this method of enquiry, you might equally well arrive at the conclusion, that bodily strength is wisdom. For if, in following out this course, you were in the first place, to ask me whether the strong were powerful, I should say, Yes; if you were to proceed to enquire whether scientific wrestlers were more powerful than unscientific wrestlers, and more powerful than they were themselves before they had learnt the science of wrestling, I should again reply, Yes; and after I had made these admissions, you would be in a condition, by availing yourself of the same logic as before, to state that by my admission wisdom was bodily strength. But here, again observe, I nowhere admit that the powerful are strong, though I do that the strong are powerful. For I do not consider strength and power to be the same; but the one, power, to arise from {351} science, yes, and from madness, too, and passion; but strength from sound nature and good bodily nourishment. In like manner, I maintain that courage and daring are not the same. Courageous men are daring, but it is not all daring men that are courageous; for daring, like power, arises from scientific skill and from passion, too, and madness, but courage, from nature and good mental nurture.

Do you allow, Protagoras, said I, that some men live well, and others ill?

I do, he replied.

Do you think that a man lives well if he lives in vexation and pain?


But if he lives in pleasure to the day of his death, you would consider him then, would you not, to have lived well?

I should.

To live pleasantly, then, it appears, is a good thing; to live unpleasantly, an evil thing.

Yes, if the pleasures a man lives in be but honest.

How, Protagoras, I exclaimed, do you maintain with the many, that some pleasant things are evil, and some painful things good? For myself, I say, as far as things are pleasant, are they not so far good, if they are to have no other results? And, on the other hand, are not painful things in the same way evil, in so far as they are painful?

I am not sure, Socrates, he replied, whether I ought to answer as unreservedly as you ask, that pleasant things are all good, and painful things all evil. No, I conceive that it would be safer for me, not only in reference to my present answer, but also to all the rest of my life, if I were to reply that there are some pleasant things which are not good, some painful things which are not evil, others again which are such, while there is a third class which are neither the one nor the other, neither evil nor good.

By pleasant things, I asked, do you not mean those with which pleasure is connected or which cause pleasure?

To be sure I do, he replied.

I ask, then, whether they be not good, in so far as they are pleasant, meaning by this question to ask, whether pleasure itself be not a good thing.

Well, Socrates, he answered, I say to you, as you are always saying yourself, let us examine the matter, and if the question seem germane to our subject, and it appears that pleasure and good are the same, we will agree on the point; if not, we will then join issue.

Would you like, I asked, to take the lead in the examination yourself, or shall I?

You are the proper person to lead, he answered; for it was you who started the subject.

Perhaps, then, said I, by some way like the following, we shall arrive at a clear view of the question. {352} Just as a person who was forming an estimate of a man’s health or physical capacity in any particular, from a survey of his bodily form, would be sure to say to him, if he saw no more than his face and hands, Come, my good friend, strip, if you please, and show me your chest and your back, that I may inspect you more closely; so do I now crave some disclosure of the kind for our present investigation. Having observed, from what you have told me, the state of your mind with regard to pleasure and good, I still require to say, Come, friend Protagoras, uncover your mind further, and show me its state with regard to knowledge. On this point, also, do you think as the many do, or differently? Their opinion of knowledge is, that it is not a strong, nor a commanding, nor a governing thing; nor do they form their notions with reference to it, as though it were such, but conceive that though knowledge is often to be found in a man, it is not his knowledge that governs him, but some other thing, at one time passion, at another pleasure, at another pain, sometimes love, and often fear; so that they plainly think of knowledge as of a poor slave, liable to be dragged about at will by all those other things. Is this, then, your opinion also? or do you conceive knowledge to be a noble thing, well fitted to govern mankind; and that if a man does but know what is good and evil, he can never be so swayed by any other thing, as to do aught else than what his knowledge prescribes, and, in fine, that wisdom is well able to defend mankind?

I quite think as you say, Socrates, he answered. And, besides, if for any man in the world, it were a shame for me, to deny that wisdom and knowledge are of all human things the mightiest.

Well and truly said, I rejoined. Are you aware, though, that most men do not believe you and me in this matter, but say that many people who know what is best, do not choose to practise it, though it is in their power to practise it, but practise other things? And never have I asked the reason of this conduct, but I have been told that such people act thus from being overpowered by pleasure or pain, or mastered by some one of those things which I just now mentioned.

I don’t doubt it, Socrates, he replied. There are many other points on which men speak incorrectly.

Come then, said I, and join me in endeavouring to persuade these men, and teach them what that state is, which they call being overpowered by pleasure, and {353} which prevents people from doing, although they know, what is best. For I should not wonder if on our saying to them, You speak incorrectly, my friends, you are deceived, they were to turn upon us with the question; Protagoras and Socrates, if being overpowered by pleasure is not this, pray what is it? what do you declare it to be? tell us both of you.

What business is it of ours, Socrates, to examine into the opinion of the vulgar herd, who just say what comes first into their head?

I think, I replied, that we shall find this enquiry help us somewhat in discovering the relation which courage bears to the other parts of virtue. If it is your intention then to abide by our late agreement which assigned the lead to me, let me beg you to follow me on the road which I expect will best conduct us to the light. But if you are unwilling to do so, I will drop this question, if such be your pleasure.

No, Socrates, said he; you are right, finish as you have begun.

Again then, said I, if they were to ask us, What do you declare this to be, which we called being subject to pleasures? I for my part should answer, Hearken, my friends, we will endeavour to tell you, Protagoras and I. Do you not allow that you experience this subjection in the following circumstances? that often you are so swayed by eating and drinking and love, all pleasant things, that though you know them to be evil, you still indulge in them?

We do, they would say, was the reply of Protagoras.

You and I then, Protagoras, will ask them again, In what point of view do you say that they are evil? Is it because they afford this pleasure at the moment, and because each of them is pleasant for the moment, or because they lay up for your future life diseases and poverty, and many other similar evils? Or, if they produced none of these effects, but merely created pleasure, should you still pronounce them evil for making a man pleased under any circumstances and in any way whatsoever? Can we conceive, Protagoras, that they would return us any other answer, than that these things were evil, not for the mere fact of creating the momentary pleasure, but on account of the diseases and other results which follow in their train?

Such, I imagine, said Protagoras, would be the answer of the many.

And when they create diseases, do they create pain; and when they create poverty, do they create pain? They would assent to this, I think.

And so do I, said Protagoras.

Are you of opinion then, my friends, as I and Protagoras hold, that these things are evil for no other reason than because they terminate in pain, and deprive us of other pleasures? They would assent?

We both agreed that they would. {354}

But suppose we were to reverse our question, and ask, When you speak, on the other hand, good people, of painful things being good, do you not mean such things as gymnastic exercises, and military service, and the treatment of diseases by cautery and the knife, by dosing and starving? Is it not such things you call good, but painful? Yes, they would say.

Granted, said Protagoras.

Do you call these things good then for the reason that they afford us at the moment the utmost pain and annoyance, or because their after results are the health and good condition of bodies, the safety, empire, and wealth of states? For the latter reason, would be their answer, I think.

Certainly it would, said he.

Are these things good on any other account than because they terminate in pleasures, and in deliverance from, and prevention of, pains? Or can you tell me of some other end which you have in view when you call them good, than that of pleasure and pain? No, they would answer, in my opinion.

And in mine too, said he.

Do you pursue then pleasure as being a good thing, and shun pain as being an evil thing?

They do, replied Protagoras.

This then, pain, you esteem to be an evil, and pleasure to be a good; since you say that even the enjoyment of pleasure itself is evil, when it deprives you of greater pleasures than itself contains, or produces pains which exceed its own pleasures. For, if you call pleasure itself an evil for any other reason, or with any other end in view than this, you may tell us, if you can; but you cannot.

No, I do not think they can, said Protagoras.

And is it not exactly the same, on the other hand, with suffering pain? Do you not call pain itself a good, when it rids you of greater pains than its own, or produces pleasures which exceed its pains? Since, if you have any other end in view when you call pain itself a good, you may tell us, if you can; but you cannot.

Quite true, Socrates, they cannot.

But if, my friends, you were on your side to interrogate me and ask, Why ever do you say so much on this question, and turn it in so many ways? Bear with me, I should reply, for, in the first place, it is no easy matter to prove what that is which you call being subject to pleasures; and secondly, on this very question hinges all my proof. But even now, late as it is, you are at liberty to retract, if you can say that good is anything else than pleasure; evil, anything else than {355} pain; if you can tell me that you are not content to live out your life pleasantly in freedom from pain. But if you are so content, and cannot tell me of anything being good or evil, which does not terminate in these, hearken to what follows. I maintain, that if this be the case, your words become ridiculous, when you say, that often a man who knows evil to be evil, practises it nevertheless, when he is not obliged to practise it, from being led and carried out of himself by pleasures; and when, on the other hand, you say, that the man who knows what is good, does not choose to practise it, on account of the immediate pleasures by which he is overmastered.

Now the absurdity of these statements will be clearly seen, if we abstain from using the many names of pleasant and painful, and good and evil; but agree, since the things have been found to be only two, to call them only by two names; first, by those of good and evil, and then by those of pleasant and painful. This being established, let us say, that a man, knowing evil to be, evil, nevertheless does it. If any one ask us, Why? We shall answer, Because he is overpowered. By what? will be the next question. But we are no longer at liberty to say, By pleasure; for it has received another name, and instead of pleasure, is now called good. Let us answer him then and say, Because he is overpowered. By what? he will repeat. By good, we shall reply. Now should our friend be disposed to raillery, he will laugh at us, and say, Ridiculous conduct this you speak of, when a man does evil knowing it to be evil, with no obligation to do it, because he is overpowered by good. Is it by a good, he will ask, which is worthy or not worthy in your opinion to overcome the evil? To this, of course, we shall reply, Not worthy; for otherwise the man whom we say is subject to pleasure would not be in fault. And in what respect, he will probably continue, are good things unworthy to overcome evil, or evil to overcome good? is it any other than in that of magnitude or quantity? We shall not be able to mention any other than this. It is evident then, he will conclude, that by this case of being overpowered, you mean, choosing greater evil for the sake of less good. So far then on this track. Now let us change our names, and again applying the terms pleasant and painful to these same things, let us say that a man does things, which we before called evil and now call painful, knowing them to be painful, being overpowered by pleasant things, which are of course unworthy to obtain the mastery. And what other rate {356} is there of pleasure in comparison with pain, than that of excess and defect? that is to say, of one being greater or smaller than the other, more or less, stronger or weaker? For if it be said, But, Socrates, there is a great difference between that which is pleasant at the moment, and that which is ultimately pleasant or painful; Does it lie, I should ask, in anything else than in pleasure and in pain? In nothing else, I am sure. No, like a man expert at weighing, put together all the pleasures, and put together all the pains, after you have weighed both their nearness and remoteness in the scales, and tell me which are the more numerous. If you weigh pleasures with pleasures, the greater and the greater number are always to be chosen; if pains with pains, the smaller and the smaller number; if pleasures with pains, then, if the pains be exceeded by the pleasures, whether near by remote, or remote by near, the line of conduct is to be pursued in which this excess is contained; but if the pleasures be exceeded by the pains, then it is not to be pursued. Good people, I should ask, can these matters be settled in any other way? I am sure that they could tell me of no other.

Protagoras did not think they could either.

Seeing, then, that this is the case, answer me the following question. Do the same objects appear to your sight to be greater in size when near, and smaller in size when remote? or do they not?

They do, would be their answer.

And is it not the same with the thickness and number of objects? And do not equal sounds appear louder when near, fainter at a distance?

Yes, they would say.

If, then, our well-being depended upon our making and choosing great lengths, and our avoiding and not making small ones, what would, to all appearance, be the safeguard of our life? Would it be the art of mensuration, or the force of appearances? Or would this latter lead us astray, and cause us to be ever choosing and ever rejecting the same things; and ever repenting, in our practice and choice of lengths, both great and small? while the art of mensuration would bring to nought this phantom-show, and, pointing out to us the truth, would anchor our soul thereon, and bid it rest, and assure us our life’s safety. Would they allow, think you, that, in this case, the art of mensuration would save us, or some other art?

None other, said he.

Again, if the security of our life depended on the choice of odd and even numbers, on choosing, at the proper time, the larger, and at the proper time the smaller, by comparison both between themselves and one another, whether they might be far or whether they might be near; what would, in this case, be our life’s safeguard? Would it not be a science? and would {357} it not, further, be one of measurement, since it relates to excess and defect? and since it has numbers for its object, could it be any other than arithmetic? To this would our friends assent, or would they not?

Protagoras agreed with me that they would.

Come then, my friends, I proceeded, since the security of our life has been found to depend on our choice of pleasure and pain, being correct, with reference at once to quantity and degree and distance, does not our security appear to you, in the first instance, to consist in measurement, since it has to consider excess and defect and respective equality?

Yes, it must.

And if in measurement, it must, of necessity, be an art and a science.

Assuredly, they will say.

What art, what science this is, we will inquire some other time. That it is a science, is quite sufficient for the explanation which Protagoras and I have to give you of the question that you asked us. You proposed it, if you remember, at the time when Protagoras and I had agreed that nothing was so powerful as scientific knowledge; and that knowledge was ever dominant, wherever it existed, over both pleasure and everything else. But you, on the other hand, said that pleasure was often dominant, even over the man that was possessed of knowledge; and when we refused to agree with you, you proceeded to ask: Socrates and Protagoras, you said, if being vanquished by pleasure is not this, pray what is it? what do you declare it to be? Tell us. If, then, at that moment we had answered you, that it was ignorance, you would have laughed at us; but now, if you laugh at us, you will laugh at yourselves as well. For you have yourselves agreed, that whoever commits error in the choice of pleasure and pain,—that is, of good and evil,—commits it through defect of knowledge; and not only of knowledge, but, as you further agreed, a knowledge of measurement. Now all action that errs for want of knowledge, is committed, you must yourselves know, through ignorance. Being vanquished, therefore, by pleasure is ignorance, of all ignorance the greatest. Now of this, Protagoras here professes himself a physician; and so do Prodicus and Hippias. But you, because you believe it to be something else than ignorance, neither go yourselves, nor send your children, to these sophists to be instructed in this matter, as though you imagined it could not be taught; but, by being chary of your gold, and by refusing to bestow it upon these men, succeed badly in your transactions, both public and private. Such would be the answer we {358} would render to the crowd. But you, Hippias and Prodicus, I ask you, in concert with Protagoras, wishing you to join in our conversation, do you judge that what I say is true or false?

They all agreed that nothing was more true.

You admit, then, said I, that the pleasant is good, and the painful evil. But I would enter a protest against our friend Prodicus’s verbal distinctions. Yes, my very excellent Prodicus, whether you call it pleasant, or agreeable, or enjoyable; whatever be the name, from whatever quarter derived, which you may be pleased to give it, restrict yourself to that answer which I wish to hear.

Prodicus laughed, and said he quite agreed with me, and so did all the rest.

But what do you say to the following? I continued. All actions which tend to this, to living, that is, pleasantly and without pain, are they not honourable, and, being honourable, are they not both good and useful?

They assented.

If then, I added, the pleasant is good, no man who either knows or believes that other things are better than that which he is doing, if they are such things as he can do, proceeds to do the less good, when he might do the better. Neither is subjection to self aught else than ignorance; mastery over self aught else than wisdom.

They all assented.

But tell me. What is ignorance, according to you? is it not having a false opinion and being deceived on matters of great moment?

Here again there was no dissenting voice.

Is it not true then, said I, that no one enters willingly into evil, or into that which he considers evil; that it is not, in fact, in the nature of man to engage with deliberate purpose in what he believes to be evil instead of in good; that no man, when compelled to choose one of two evils, will choose the greater, when he might choose the less?

All these questions met with universal assent.

To the point then, I said. Do you say that there is such a thing as terror or fear? Do you understand by it the same as I do? To you, Prodicus, I address myself. I understand by it a certain expectation of evil, whether you call it terror or fear.

Protagoras and Hippias were of opinion that this was the meaning both of terror and fear; Prodicus thought it was of terror, but not of fear.

No matter for that, Prodicus, said I. But this does matter. If our former conclusions are true, will any man in the world deliberately enter into what he fears, when he might enter into that which he does not fear? or is it impossible by our previous admissions? for we have admitted that, what he fears he believes to be evil, and what he believes to be evil, he never engages in or chooses willingly.

All agreed to this also. {359}

Prodicus and Hippias, said I, now that we have established these points, let us call on Protagoras to defend the answer which he gave us at first—no, not quite at first. At first he said, that of the parts of virtue, which were five in number, there was not one like any other, and that each had a distinct function of its own. This is not the statement I mean, but a later one; for afterwards he said, that four of these parts bore a reasonably close resemblance to one another, but that the fifth was widely different from the rest, this fifth being courage. And he told me that I should be convinced of this by the following fact. Socrates, said he, you will find men of the greatest impiety, and injustice, and intemperance, and ignorance most distinguished for courage. This will show you that courage differs greatly from the other parts of virtue. And astonished as I was at this answer at the moment, it has astonished me still more since my late investigations with you. However, at the time I asked him whether by the courageous he meant the daring. Yes, said he, and men eager for encounter. Do you remember giving this answer, Protagoras?

I do, he replied.

Come then, said I, tell us what it is which, according to you, the courageous are eager to encounter? Is it the same as cowards?


Is it different then?


Do cowards engage in what is safe, brave men in what is formidable?

So it is generally said, Socrates.

You are right, said I; but this is not my question. According to you, what is it which brave men are eager to encounter? that which is formidable, believing it to be formidable, or that which is not formidable?

Why the former, Socrates, your late arguments have shown to be impossible.

Again you are right, said I. If our reasoning was correct, no man engages in what he believes to be formidable, since we found that want of self-command was want of knowledge.

Granted, said he.

But on the other hand, all men engage in that which inspires them with confidence, whether they be cowardly or courageous, and in this point of view, at any rate, both the one and the other encounter the same things.

But I can assure you, Socrates, he said, that no things can be more opposed to each other than the things which cowards and brave men encounter. To take the first instance that comes, the latter are willing to encounter war, the former are not.

When it is honourable, I asked, to engage in it, or disgraceful?

When it is honourable, he answered.

And if it is honourable, it is also good by our former admission; for we admitted that all honourable actions were good.

We did, said he; and I am always of this opinion.

And very properly too, I rejoined. But which class do you say are not willing to encounter war, when it {360} is honourable and good?

Cowards, he replied.

And if it be honourable and good, it is also pleasant?

Certainly, according to our premises.

Do cowards refuse to engage in what they know to be honourable, and pleasant, and good?

No; for if we allow this, we overturn all our former admissions.

And the courageous man? does not he engage in what is honourable, and pleasant, and good?

I must allow he does.

In a word then, courageous men fear no disgraceful fears, when they do fear, nor are they inspired with disgraceful confidences. Is not this true?

It is, he answered.

And if not disgraceful, are they not honourable?


And if honourable, good?


And are not the cowardly, the daring, and the frenzied, possessed on the contrary with disgraceful fears, and inspired with disgraceful confidences?

They are.

And when they dare what is disgraceful and evil, do they dare it in consequence of anything else than ignorance and want of understanding?

No, he replied.

Again, said I. That which makes cowards cowardly, do you call it cowardice or courage?

Cowardice, of course.

And have they not been found to be cowardly in consequence of their ignorance of that which is formidable?

Certainly they have.

It is this ignorance then, it appears, which makes them cowardly?


And that which makes them cowardly you have allowed to be cowardice?

I have, he said.

Ignorance then of that which is formidable and not formidable proves to be cowardice?

He nodded his head.

Again, said I, is courage opposite to cowardice?


Is knowledge of that which is formidable and not formidable opposite to ignorance of the same?

Here again he nodded his head.

And ignorance of this is cowardice?

Though with a very bad grace, he here nodded again.

Knowledge then of that which is formidable and not formidable is courage, since it is opposite to ignorance of the same.

At this he would neither make a sign nor utter a word.

So I said: How is it, Protagoras, that you will not say either yes or no to my question?

Finish by yourself, said he.

Only one more question will I ask you. Do you still think, as you did formerly, that there are some men very ignorant, and at the same time very courageous?

You seem to stickle, Socrates, for the answer coming from me. Well, I’ll indulge you so far. I allow that by our previous admissions this appears to me to be impossible.

I can assure you, said I, that I have no other motive in proposing all these questions than a wish to observe the relations of virtuous things, and the nature of virtue itself. For certain am I, that, if this point be once discovered, we shall clearly discern that other, on which {361} both you and I launched out into a long harangue, I in maintaining that virtue could not be taught, and you in maintaining that it could. And I can fancy the issue of our conversation attacking and deriding us like a human being, and that, if it could speak, it would say, You are strange persons, both of you, Socrates and Protagoras. You, Socrates, who formerly maintained that virtue could not be taught, are now bent on contradicting yourself, by endeavouring to prove that all virtue is knowledge, both justice, and discretion, and courage; a course of argument which leads most clearly to the result that virtue is a thing which can be taught. For if virtue were something different from knowledge, as Protagoras has been attempting to maintain, it evidently would not be susceptible of being taught; but now if it be found to be knowledge, as you, Socrates, are insisting, it will be strange indeed if it cannot be taught. Protagoras, on the other hand, who started with asserting that he could teach it, seems now bent on proving, in contradiction to that assertion, that it is almost anything rather than knowledge, and consequently the last thing in the world to be taught. I therefore, Protagoras, on observing how terrible is the confusion in which all these matters are thrown together, am all-desirous of bringing them to the light, and should be glad to follow up our late investigation by inquiring into the nature of virtue, and then reconsidering whether or no it is capable of being taught, lest haply the Epimetheus of your story deceive us treacherously in our examination, just as in the distribution of functions he neglected us carelessly, according to your account. The forethought of your Prometheus pleased me far more than his brother’s afterthought; and it is because I take Prometheus for my counsellor, and look forward with his forethought to all my future life, that I busy myself with all these studies, and should be most delighted, as I said before, to join you, if you have no objection, in fathoming them to the bottom.

To this Protagoras replied, I for my part, Socrates, applaud your zeal, and your skill in the evolution of arguments. For I consider that in no point of view am I a bad man, and that I am the last person in the world to be jealous. Thus often ere now have I said of you, that among all whom I am in the habit of meeting, I admire you the most, and among those of your own age by far the most; and I add, that I should not be surprised if you win yourself a place among our distinguished sages. And with regard to the present discussion, we will continue it on some future occasion, when agreeable to you, but to-day it is high time for me to betake myself to other business.

So be it, said I, since such is your pleasure. For I too ought long ago to have departed on the errand I mentioned; only I stayed to oblige the beautiful Callias.

Our conversation thus concluded, we left the house.


Characters in the Dialogue



I. What can have happened, Socrates, to make you {St. I. p. 2} desert your place in the Lyceum and be waiting here at this hour in the King Archon’s porch? You cannot, of course, have a suit for him to hear, as I have.

Soc. Well, no, Euthyphro, they do not call it a suit, but a charge.

Euth. What do you mean? I suppose, that some one has brought a charge against you? For I am not to hear, I know, that you have charged any one else.

Soc. Certainly not.

Euth. Then somebody else has accused you?

Soc. Exactly.

Euth. Who is it?

Soc. Well, Euthyphro, I really cannot say I know the man myself; he is young, I think, and unknown. His name, I understand, is Meletus, and the deme to which he belongs is Pitthos,—if you happen to remember a certain Meletus of Pitthos, a lank-haired, hook-nosed fellow, with not much of a beard.

Euth. I have no recollection of him, Socrates. But what on earth is the charge he has brought against you?

Soc. The charge? Oh, it shows great spirit, I think. It is no small thing for a young man to understand such matters. He knows, so he says, how the young are ruined, and who ruin them. He must be a shrewd fellow; he has realised how unprincipled I am, and how I ruin the men of his own age, and he runs to tell his mother, the State, about me. I consider him the only man who has taken up politics by the right end. It is quite right to care for the young first and foremost, and for their good,—just as it is natural for a wise farmer to think of his young plants before the rest. So, no doubt, Meletus intends to weed us out first, those who ruin the {3} growth of the young, according to him: and then of course he will proceed to the care of our grown men and confer the greatest of all benefits upon the State, as we may well expect after a beginning of this kind.

II. Euth. I only wish it might be so, Socrates, but I am terribly afraid of the reverse. I think he has simply begun to destroy the State from its foundations when he sets about harming you. Tell me now, how in the world does he suppose that you are ruining the young?

Soc. Well, my friend, in ways that certainly do sound extraordinary. He asserts that I create gods, and for creating the new gods and not believing in the old, he attacks me,—it is just for that, he says.

Euth. I see, Socrates. I suppose it is because you speak of the supernatural sign that comes to you. So he has brought this charge against you of coining a new religion, and comes into the law-courts prepared to rouse prejudice against you, because he knows that the majority are easy to prejudice in these matters. Why, when I begin to speak on religion in the Assembly and prophesy what is going to happen, they laugh at me and shout me down as though I were insane. And yet I have never foretold them one thing that was not true,—but they are so jealous of men like us. Still we must grapple with our work, and not think of them.

III. Soc. Oh, dear Euthyphro, to be laughed down may be of no consequence at all. Athenians, it seems to me, do not much object to a man’s being clever, provided he does not teach what he knows, but if they think he makes others like himself, they get angry,—perhaps through envy, as you say, or for some other reason.

Euth. Well, as far as that goes, I do not particularly care to test their feeling about me.

Soc. No; and very likely they think you are sparing of your company and do not care to impart your knowledge; but, in my case, I fear that my fondness for people makes them believe I pour forth all I know to any and every man,—not only without pay, but ready to pay myself, and that with the utmost pleasure, if I could get any one to hear me.

Well, as I said just now, if they are only going to laugh at me, as you say they laugh at you, there would be nothing unpleasant in that,—just a little amusement and laughter in court,—but if they are in earnest, well, what the end of it will be, none but you prophets can say.

Euth. Oh, Socrates, most likely it will be of no consequence at all; you will conduct your case to your own satisfaction, and so, I think, shall I.

IV. Soc. And this case of yours, Euthyphro, what is it about? Are you defending or prosecuting?

Euth. Prosecuting.

Soc. Who is it you are after?

Euth. Ah, somebody that people think me mad to go {4} after.

Soc. Why, has he got wings? Can he fly?

Euth. Far from that, he happens to be very old.

Soc. And who is he?

Euth. My father.

Soc. Your own father, my friend?

Euth. Precisely.

Soc. And what do you charge him with?

Euth. With murder, Socrates.

Soc. With murder! Well, Euthyphro, it is plain that the majority do not understand the rights of this. To do such a thing, and be right in doing it, cannot be possible, I am sure, for every man; but only for him who has reached the heights of wisdom.

Euth. Yes, Socrates, the very heights.

Soc. So it is one of your relatives, is it not? that has been killed by your father? Oh, but of course it must be. You would never have accused him, I know, of murder for a stranger’s sake.

Euth. You make me smile, Socrates, by supposing it could make any difference whether the murdered man was a stranger or no, and not that the only question we have to ask is, whether the man who killed him killed him lawfully or not; if lawfully, we have to let him go, if not, we have to prosecute; that is, if the murderer lives under the same roof and eats at the same board. For the contamination is just as great if you associate with such a creature, and do not purify yourself, and him too, by bringing him to justice. As a matter of fact the murdered man was a dependant of mine, one of the labourers we hired on a farm of ours in Naxos. He got drunk one day and had a quarrel with a servant of the house, and cut his throat. My father had him bound hand and foot and flung into a pit, while he sent a man over here to ask the Interpreter[1] what ought to be done. Meanwhile he left his prisoner alone and neglected,—thinking him a murderer, and that it was no matter if he did die; which is exactly what occurred. He perished through hunger and cold and the pain of the bonds before the messenger returned. Now my father is quite angry with me and so are the other servants, because, as they say, I accuse him of murder on the murderer’s account, although he did not kill him, according to them, and even if he did twenty times over, yet since the dead man was a murderer no one ought to trouble about him: it is an unholy thing for a son to prosecute his father for murder; but they entirely misunderstand—do they not?—the divine law of holiness.

Soc. And you, my friend, do you believe that you understand the divine laws so well and everything they mean, that, after this has happened as you describe, you have no fear in bringing this action against your father that you may be doing an unholy deed in your turn?

Euth. No, Socrates, none; there would be no use in me,—Euthyphro would be no different from other men, {5} if I did not understand all these matters perfectly.

V. Soc. How splendid, Euthyphro! Will it not be the best thing in all the world for me to become your scholar? And then, before facing Meletus in court, I may challenge[2] him and tell him that I also have earnestly desired before this to learn the laws of God, and now that he says I am guilty of inventing theories of my own, and coining new religions, why, I have made myself your pupil,—and I could say, “See here, Meletus, if you admit that Euthyphro is wise in these matters, and that the views he holds are right, then admit it of me as well, and give up the prosecution. And if not, call my teacher into court and not me, and accuse him of ruining the old—me, for instance, and his father, by teaching the one and punishing the other.” And if Meletus will not listen to me nor give up the case nor accuse you instead of me, then I will state in court the challenge that I made to him.

A board of three members called Interpreters or Advisers was appointed at Athens, to perform certain religious duties, and especially to give advice for purification from blood-guiltiness.

“Before the trial began either party could challenge the other in the presence of witnesses to take some particular step. In case the challenge was declined, evidence was given at the trial that the challenge had been refused, with a view to prejudice the refuser’s ease.” (Abridged from Dr. Adam’s edition of the Euthyphro.)

Euth. Indeed, Socrates, if he really did try to accuse me I would soon find out, I think, where his weak point lay. There would be far more talk about him in court, I know, than about me.

Soc. And I, my dear friend, just because I recognise that, desire to became your pupil. For I realise that this man Meletus, among others, does not appear so much as to see you; but he has seen through me so quickly and so completely, that he has accused me of impiety. So you must really tell me what you assured me just now you understood so well: what you consider holiness and unholiness to be, in questions of murder and in general. Is not holiness always one and the same thing in every case, and unholiness, of course, the opposite of holiness, always like itself, always of one and the same type in relation to holiness, whatever it be that is unholy?

Euth. Most assuredly so, Socrates.

VI. Soc. Tell me then, what do you say is holiness and what unholiness?

Euth. Well, I say holiness is to do just what I am doing now,—to prosecute the wrong-doer in a case of murder or sacrilege, or any similar offender, be it father or mother or whoever it be, and not to prosecute is unholy. For observe, Socrates, what a strong proof I can give you that the law is as I say,—a proof I have already used with others,—that shows it must be right never to spare the impious, whoever they happen to be. Men’s own judgment tells them that Zeus is the best and most righteous of the gods, and they admit that he {6} put his father in chains for the crime of swallowing his sons; that Cronus, in his turn, mutilated his father for a similar cause; and now they are indignant with me because I prosecute my father when he has done wrong, and so they contradict themselves about the gods and me.

Soc. Now I wonder, Euthyphro, if this can be the reason why I am attacked, because I find it hard to accept such stories as these about the gods? That is really why some people will say, I believe, that I am guilty. Yet now if you accept them too, you who understand these things, it would seem I must agree. For what can I have to say who confess myself wholly ignorant in the matter? But tell me, in the name of our friendship, do you really believe that these things occurred?

Euth. Yes, Socrates, I do; and other things, too, even more astounding, which ordinary people do not know.

Soc. Then do you really think there is warfare among the gods, and terrible strife, and enmities and quarrels, as the poets say, and as we see in the decorations our great artists put in our temples and on our sacred things? At Athena’s holy festival, you know, the garment that is carried up the Acropolis for her is covered with such devices. Are we to say that they are true, Euthyphro?

Euth. And not only they, Socrates. As I said just now, I can tell you ever so many other tales about the gods, if you like, at which you would be thunder-struck, I am sure.

VII. Soc. I should not be surprised if I were. Some other time you will tell me all about them, when we are at leisure. But now could you try to explain more clearly what I asked you a moment ago? You see, my friend, you did not teach me all I wanted at first when I asked you what holiness really was; you only said that what you were doing now,—prosecuting your father for murder,—happened to be holy.

Euth. Yes, and I was quite right in saying so.

Soc. Perhaps you were. But, you see, you say a great many other things are holy too.

Euth. And so they are.

Soc. Now, do you not remember that I begged you to show me,—not one or two holy things out of many, but just that essential character which makes all holiness holy? You said,—did you not?—that holy things were holy and unholy things unholy, through one type and one alone. Do you not remember?

Euth. Yes, I do.

Soc. Then show me that one Type; teach me what it is, so that I can turn to it and use it for a pattern, and declare that what is like it in all that you or others do, is holy, and what is unlike, unholy.

Euth. Well, Socrates, I will answer in that way, if you wish.

Soc. I do, very much.

Euth. I say, then, that what the gods love is holy, and what they do not love is unholy.

Soc. Admirable, Euthyphro, quite admirable! That {7} is exactly the kind of answer I was trying to get from you. Whether it is true or not, I cannot say as yet, but doubtless you will go on to show me you are right.

Euth. Most certainly I will.

Soc. Now, let us see exactly what we mean. What the gods love and the man they love is holy, what they hate and the man they hate, unholy. And holiness is not the same as, but the exact contrary of, unholiness. Is not that what we said?

Euth. Yes, that was it.

Soc. And it seems a very good thing to say.

Euth. Well, yes, I think it does.

Soc. And, moreover, that the gods are at variance, Euthyphro, and differ with one another, and feel enmity towards each other, did we not say that too?

Euth. Yes, we did.

Soc. Now, my friend, what kind of dispute is it that produces enmity and anger? Let us look at it like this. If you and I were to differ about the numbers of two sets, and not agree as to which was the greater, could that make us enemies and fill us with animosity? Should we not proceed to count the numbers, and soon put an end to our dispute?

Euth. Certainly we should.

Soc. And suppose we differed on a question of size, should we not proceed to measure the object, and so compose our difference?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. And by using a balance, I presume, we could settle disputes on weights.

Euth. Of course we could.

Soc. But now what would be the question for which we could find no test and which would make us enemies? It may not be obvious to you at once, but see if you think I am right in saying that such questions are the questions of right and wrong, beauty and ugliness, good and evil? Are not these the matters on which we disagree, and for which we can find no sure criterion, and which make us enemies, you and me and all men,—if enemies we are?

Euth. True, Socrates, there is such a difference of opinion, and it is on such matters.

Soc. Well, now, Euthyphro, surely if the gods have differences at all it must be here that they differ?

Euth. Yes, most certainly.

Soc. Then the gods, like us, my friend, according to what you say, vary in what they hold to be right and beautiful and good. For most assuredly they would not quarrel with each other if they did not differ about these things. Is that not true?

Euth. Quite true.

Soc. Now what each of them believes to be beautiful and good and right, that he will love, and he will loathe the opposite?

Euth. Yes, certainly.

Soc. Yes, but according to you, one and the same thing is considered right by some and wrong by others; {8} and over this they fight, and quarrel with each other and go to war, do they not?

Euth. They do.

Soc. Then the same thing, it would appear, is at once hated and loved by the gods, and would be, I suppose, both dear to them and loathed by them?

Euth. It appears so.

Soc. But then the same thing would be at once holy and unholy, Euthyphro, according to this line of argument.

Euth. Perhaps it would.

IX. Soc. Then, my dear fellow, you cannot have answered what I asked. I did not want to know what happened to be at once holy and unholy, but what is dear to the gods is, it would appear, also loathed by them; and so, my friend, as regards your present action in punishing your father, there would be nothing surprising if, while it is most pleasing to Zeus it is most hateful to Cronus and Uranus, and while it is dear to Hephaestus it is loathed by Hera,—and so with the rest of the gods, if they happen to differ about it.

Euth. Well but, Socrates, I believe none of them will dispute that he who has killed a man unjustly ought to be brought to justice.

Soc. Ah, but, Euthyphro, even among men, have you ever heard it denied that he who kills a man unjustly, or, indeed, does anything unjust, ought to be brought to justice?

Euth. Why, they constantly deny it, especially in court. After all sorts of wickedness they will say and do everything to escape punishment.

Soc. Really, Euthyphro? Even admit they have done wrong and yet assert that they ought not to be punished?

Euth. Oh, no, not that; they always stop short of that.

Soc. Then it is not everything, after all, that they will say. They do not dare to maintain, I imagine, that if they have really done wrong they ought not to be punished. They say, I fancy, that they have not done wrong, do they not?

Euth. They do.

Soc. So it is not that they question whether the wrong-doer should be punished; their question is rather, who is the wrong-doer, and what makes an action wrong?

Euth. Very true.

Soc. Well then, the gods are in just the same position if they quarrel over right and wrong, as you tell me they do, some saying that one side is in the wrong and others that it is not; for most assuredly, my friend, neither god nor man would dare to say that the wrong-doer should not be brought to justice.

Euth. Yes, Socrates, you are right in that, and it is the main point.

Soc. But I suppose, Euthyphro, that every detail in what occurred is argued over by the parties to the dispute, among gods as well as men, if the gods do have disputes. When they differ about an action some say that it was right and others that it was wrong. Is that not so?

Euth. Just so.

X. Soc. Well, and now, dear Euthyphro, instruct me {9} too, and tell me for my greater wisdom what proof you have that all the gods will consider it an unjust slaughter if the man who was killed was a hired labourer and had murdered some one else, and been put in chains by the murdered man’s master, and died because of that, before the master could learn from the Interpreters what he ought to do: and that this is the sort of man on whose behalf a son does well to attack his father and prosecute him for murder. Come and make it clear to me that all the gods beyond all doubt will consider this action right,—and if you really prove it I will never cease to extol you and your wisdom.

Euth. But it is no slight undertaking, Socrates: though, of course, I could prove it for you conclusively.

Soc. I see: you think me slower to learn than your jury,—for of course you will make it clear to them that the deed was unjust, and that all the gods hate actions of the kind.

Euth. Yes, Socrates, I will make it perfectly clear, if only they will listen to my speech.

XI. Soc. Oh, they will listen if they think you a good speaker. But I have just noticed something in what you said, and I keep asking myself: Suppose Euthyphro were to show me to the full that all the gods consider a death of this character unjust, should I have learnt any the more from him what holiness really is, and unholiness? The action in question may be, and very likely is, hateful to the gods. But that is not enough. And even this definition, as we saw just now, was not made distinct, since what was hateful to the gods was shown to be dear to them as well. However, I will let you off this point, Euthyphro: and we will admit if you like that all the gods consider it unjust and all of them hate it. Shall we make this correction first, and say that what all the gods hate is unholy, and what all of them love is holy, while what some love and some hate is neither holy nor unholy, or else both at once? Are you prepared to accept this for our definition?

Euth. Well, Socrates, is there any reason why I should not?

Soc. None, so far as I am concerned, Euthyphro; but you must look to your own position yourself, and see if this will give you the best foundation for teaching me what you promised.

Euth. Well, I am quite ready to say that holiness is what all the gods love, and that its opposite,—what all the gods hate,—is unholiness.

Soc. Well, shall we examine this now we have got it, and see if it is satisfactory, or are we to let it pass, and go on accepting from ourselves and from others, submissively, any assertion that any one chooses to make? Should we not always test what is stated?

Euth. Yes, we should. But I do think this statement is sound.

XII. Soc. Well, my friend, we shall be able to say better soon. Now consider this question: Is holiness loved by the gods because it is holy, or is it holy because {10} it is loved?

Euth. I do not understand you, Socrates.

Soc. Well, I will try to put it more clearly. Can we not speak of what is carried and of what carries, of what is driven and what drives, of what is seen and what sees? You understand, do you not, that all these differ from one another, and how they differ?

Euth. Well, I fancy I understand.

Soc. Now is there not also something that is loved, and again, distinct from it, the lover?

Euth. Yes, surely.

Soc. Tell me now, is the thing that is carried just what it is,—namely, a carried thing,—because it is carried or for some other reason?

Euth. No, just because of that.

Soc. And the driven thing is such because it is driven, and the seen thing is such because it is seen?

Euth. Yes, certainly.

Soc. It is not, of course, seen because it is a seen thing, but on the contrary, it is a seen thing because it is seen. So again it is not carried because it is a carried thing, it is a carried thing because it is carried; and it is not driven because it is a driven thing, it is a driven thing because it is driven. Now, Euthyphro, is my meaning getting clear? What I mean is, that whenever an object becomes anything, or is touched in any way, it does not become something because it is a thing that is in process of becoming, but it is a thing in process of becoming because it becomes something. Nor is it touched because it is a touched thing: it is a touched thing because it is touched. Do you not agree?

Euth. Yes, I do.

Soc. Well now, the beloved thing is either something that is in process of becoming, or something that is touched by something else?

Euth. Most certainly.

Soc. And it is the same in this case, is it not? as in the others. The thing is not loved because it is a beloved thing; it is a beloved thing because it is loved.

Euth. Yes, that must be so.

Soc. Now, Euthyphro, what shall we say about holiness? Just that it is loved by all the gods, as you tell me?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. And loved simply because it is holy, or for some other reason?

Euth. No, simply because of that.

Soc. Then it is loved because it is holy, and it is not holy because it is loved?

Euth. So it seems.

Soc. But, now, it is because it is loved by the gods that it is a thing beloved by them and dear to them.

Euth. No doubt.

Soc. Then, Euthyphro, what is dear to the gods is not the same as holiness, as you assert: the two are quite distinct.

Euth. How do you make that out, Socrates?

Soc. Because we agreed that holiness is loved just because it is holy, and not that it is holy because it is loved. Did we not?

Euth. Yes.

XIII. Soc. And, moreover, that what is dear to the gods is dear to them just through being loved, just because they love it, and not that it is loved because it is dear to them.

Euth. You are quite right.

Soc. Now you see, my friend, if holiness and what is dear to the gods meant exactly the same, then, since holiness was loved because it was holy, what is dear to the gods would have been loved because it was dear, and {11} holiness would have been holy because it was loved.[3] But now, you perceive, the contrary is the case,—and the two things are entirely distinct. One is lovable because it is loved, the other is loved because it is lovable. I fear, Euthyphro, that when I asked you what holiness was, you did not choose to show me its real nature. You would only tell me something that happens to it; and that was, that it is loved by all the gods: what it is in itself you have not told me yet. Now, if you will be so kind, do not hide it from me, but begin once more from the beginning and tell me what holiness can be; it may be loved by the gods or not; we will not quarrel over what happens to it. Tell me, and tell me willingly, what is holiness and what is unholiness?

Because “what is dear το the gods” could be substituted for “holiness” and “holy” in the first statement, and “holiness” and “holy” for “what is dear to the gods” and “dear” in the second.

Euth. But, Socrates, I really do not know how to tell you what I think. Whatever we set up seems somehow to move away: it refuses to stay where we put it.

Soc. Why, Euthyphro, that sounds as though your theories were the work of my ancestor Dædalus. Now had it been I who brought them forward and set them up, you might well have laughed at me for the family likeness you saw, telling me that my works of art in the world of thought insisted on moving like his and refused to stay where they were put.[4] But the theories, you see, are yours, so we must find some other jest. They certainly do refuse to stand where you wish, as you yourself can see.

The statues of the semi-mythic sculptor Dædalus were said to move. Socrates, as the son of a sculptor, claims him in jest as his heroic “eponymous” ancestor.

Euth. What I do see, Socrates, is that the jest seems quite in place. Their shifting and changing is none of my doing; it is yours; you are our Dædalus. They would have stayed quite quiet had it only depended on me.

Soc. Then, my friend, I must think myself so much the better artist than that great man, inasmuch as he only made his own works move, but I, it appears, can give this power to the works of others too. And the most wonderful part of it all is that I am a genius against my will. I would rather have fixed our arguments on a base that could never be shaken than gain all the skill of Dædalus and all the wealth of Tantalus to boot. But enough of this. Since I see you think yourself above the work, I will make bold to suggest a way myself for you to teach me about holiness without tiring yourself out before we have done. Think now, and tell me if it does not seem clear to you that all holiness must be righteous?

Euth. Yes, it does.

Soc. Well now, is all righteousness holy, or is it that all holiness is righteous, but not all righteousness holy, {12} part of it being holy and part something else?

Euth. I do not follow you, Socrates.

Soc. What, and you as much younger than me as you are wiser! Why, it is just as I say, your wealth of wisdom makes you far too proud to work. But gird up your loins, my friend: there is really nothing difficult to understand in my words. What I say is the exact reverse of what the poet said when he wrote:

“Zeus, the maker and father of all,

  You would not utter his name:

Where there is fear and trembling,

  Follow reverence and shame.”

Now here I differ from the poet. Shall I tell you how?

Euth. Please do.

Soc. I do not think that wherever there is fear there is shame. I think a great many people who are afraid of sickness and poverty and similar evils are certainly afraid, but feel no shame before the things they fear. Do not you think so too?

Euth. Indeed I do.

Soc. But wherever there is shame there is certainly fear. Is there any man who could be ashamed of an action and shrink from doing it, and yet not fear the charge of wickedness and be afraid of that?

Euth. No, of course he would be afraid.

Soc. Then it is not right to say “where there is fear follows shame.” Wherever there is shame it is true there is fear, but where there is fear there is not always shame. Fear, I hold, is a wider term than shame; shame is a species of fear, as odd number is a species of number; and so, where there is number there is not always odd number, but wherever there is odd number there is always number. Now, I think, you follow me?

Euth. Yes, perfectly.

Soc. Well, it was just this sort of thing I meant when I asked you a moment ago whether there was holiness wherever there was righteousness; or whether, though there was righteousness wherever there was holiness, there was not always holiness wherever there was righteousness. For holiness is a species of righteousness. Now shall we admit this, or do you think otherwise?

Euth. No, this is what I think. It seems to me you are quite right.

XIV. Soc. Then see what follows. If holiness is a species of righteousness, we ought, it would seem, to discover what kind of species it is. Suppose you had asked me about the subject we mentioned just now, for instance, what species of number even number was, and what kind of number was even, I should have replied:—every number that was not unequal but could be divided by two.[5] Do you not agree?

The Greek means literally “whatever was not unequal-sided but with two sides equal.” The comparison is to a triangle, Greek arithmetic being closely associated with geometry.

Euth. Yes, I do.

Soc. Now it is your turn to try and teach me in this way what part of righteousness is holy; and then I can go and tell Meletus he must give up the prosecution and not trouble me any more since I have learnt from you at last all about piety and holiness.

Euth. Well, Socrates, this is my answer: the kind of righteousness that I call pious and holy is the kind that has to do with the care of the gods. The rest has to do with the care of Man.

XV. Soc. And an excellent answer, Euthyphro, you seem to have given me. But there is one small thing {13} more I want. I do not yet understand what kind of care you mean. You cannot, of course, mean just the same care as we give to other things; for instance, we say it is not every one who understands the care of horses, only the horseman; do we not?

Euth. Yes, certainly we do.

Soc. For the horseman’s work is, I take it, the care of horses.

Euth. Yes.

Soc. Nor does every one understand the care of dogs, but only he who can train them.

Euth. Just so.

Soc. The work of such a trainer being the care of dogs?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. And the work of the herdsman the care of cattle?

Euth. Precisely.

Soc. And piety and holiness, Euthyphro, are they nothing more nor less than the care of the gods? Is this what you say?

Euth. Yes, it is.

Soc. Now, does not all care achieve the same result? I mean it always brings some advantage and some good to the object of the care; we see, for instance, that horses get benefit from the care spent on them and become better. Do you not think they do?

Euth. Yes, I quite think so.

Soc. And dogs get good from their trainer’s care and cattle from their herdsman’s, and so with all the rest; you cannot suppose that the care is ever for the disadvantage of its object?

Euth. No, certainly not.

Soc. It is for its benefit?

Euth. Yes, of course.

Soc. Well, now, if holiness is the care of the gods, does that mean that it is a benefit to them and makes them better? Would you be prepared to grant that whenever you do what is holy you make one of the gods better?

Euth. Good heavens! Of course not.

Soc. And of course, Euthyphro, I did not think you meant that; far from it. But the reason I asked you was to find out what kind of care you did mean, for I was sure it could not be this.

Euth. Quite right, Socrates, that was not what I meant.

Soc. So far so good then; but now tell me, what kind of care is it?

Euth. Why, the kind that slaves give to their masters.

Soc. I understand: a sort of service to them.

Euth. Exactly.

XVI. Soc. Now could you tell me what is the aim of the service that a doctor’s servant gives? It is health, would you not say?

Euth. Yes, I would.

Soc. Well, and a shipbuilder’s servant,—at what production does his service aim?

Euth. At the production of a ship, of course.

Soc. And service to a builder aims, I take it, at a building?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. And now, my friend, tell me, finally, about the service of the gods,—what is the work at which it aims? You must know, I am sure, for you told me that you understood religion better than any man.

Euth. And what I said was quite true, Socrates.

Soc. Then tell me at last what that glorious work can be which the gods bring into being, and for which they use our service.

Euth. Their works are many, Socrates, and all are good.

Soc. True, my friend, and so are those of a general. {14} But none the less you could easily sum these up in one, and call it victory, could you not?

Euth. Yes, of course.

Soc. And a farmer’s works are many and good, but still the sum and end of all his labour is the produce of the ground.

Euth. Undoubtedly.

Soc. And now what shall we say of all the good things that the gods produce? What is the sum of their work?

Euth. I told you a moment ago, Socrates, that it is harder than one might think to learn the absolute truth about these things. But this much I can tell you in so many words: if a man can say and do what is grateful to the gods in prayer and sacrifice, there we have holiness, and it is this that preserves the Family and the State, and what is not grateful to them is impious,—and impiety overthrows and destroys everything.

XVII. Soc. Well, Euthyphro, you could have told me the sum of what I asked in very much fewer words, if you had liked. But it is quite plain that you have no wish to teach me. For this very moment when you had reached the point, you turned aside: had you answered my question then, I should have learned from you by now all I wanted to know. But now, since the questioner needs must follow the answerer wherever the latter leads, I must needs ask you again, what do you say is holy and what is holiness? You say it is the knowledge of how to sacrifice and pray?

Euth. Yes, I do.

Soc. Now to sacrifice is to offer something to the gods and to pray is to ask them for something.

Euth. Most certainly.

Soc. Then according to this definition, holiness would be the science of requests and offerings to the gods.

Euth. You have understood my meaning perfectly.

Soc. Because I thirst for your wisdom, my friend, and I wait and watch, so that no word of yours falls to the ground. But tell me once more, what is this service to the gods? A service of requests and offerings?

Euth. Yes, that is what I say.

XVIII. Soc. Well, and to ask aright would be, would it not, to ask them for what we need?

Euth. What else?

Soc. And on the other hand to give aright would be to give them what they need in their turn. For certainly it would not show much intelligence to bring gifts that were not wanted at all.

Euth. Very true.

Soc. In short, Euthyphro, we may call holiness the art of bargaining between gods and men.

Euth. Yes, a kind of bargaining, if it gives you pleasure to call it so.

Soc. No pleasure to me, unless it happens to be true. But now will you show me what benefit accrues to the gods from the gifts we give them? What they give us is plain to every one; there is no good thing we have that is not their gift. But what they get from us,—how {15} do they benefit from that? Are we so much the more grasping that we get all good from them, and they get nothing from us?

Euth. But do you really think, Socrates, that the gods are benefited by what they take from us?

Soc. Well, Euthyphro, if not, what can these gifts of ours be?

Euth. What but reverence, and honour, and, in a word, gratefulness, as I said just now? What else do you expect?

Soc. So then, Euthyphro, holiness is grateful to the gods, but not useful or pleasing to them.

Euth. Why no, I think most certainly it is pleasing to them.

Soc. Then we come back again, it seems, to saying that holiness is what is pleasing to the gods.

Euth. Most decidedly.

XIX. Soc. Can you wonder after this if you see that your theories will not stand? Can you accuse me of being the Dædalus who sets them walking, when all the while you are much cleverer than he and make them move round yourself? Do you not see that the argument has come right round to the very same place as before? You remember, surely, that we have already seen that what is holy and what is dear to the gods are different and not the same. Or can you have forgotten?

Euth. No. I remember.

Soc. And do you not realise now that you say what is pleasing to the gods is holy? But what is pleasing to them must be dear to them, surely?

Euth. Yes, by all means.

Soc. Then either our former conclusion was wrong, or if we were right then, we must have made some mistake now.

Euth. It does seem so.

XX. Soc. Then we must begin again from the beginning to find out what holiness is; for I will never give in until I learn it. Only do not make light of me now, but let me have your whole attention and tell me the truth. You know it, if any man knows, and you must be held, like Proteus, until you speak. For unless you had known, and known perfectly, what holiness is and unholiness, you would never have dreamt of prosecuting your old father for murder on a slave’s account; you would have feared to rouse the anger of the gods by something wrong in the deed, and you would have shrunk from the indignation of men. But as it is, I am sure you believe you understand perfectly the difference between holiness and wickedness: so you must tell me, dear Euthyphro, and not hide your opinion any more.

Euth. Some other time then, Socrates; I am in a great hurry now, and it is time for me to be off.

Soc. Oh, my friend, my friend! You dash all my hopes to the ground and leave me desolate! And I had hoped to learn from you what holiness really was; and then I should have freed myself from the charge Meletus has brought against me; for I could have shown him that I had learnt all about it at last from Euthyphro, and need make no more theories of my own in ignorance, {16} nor coin a new religion, and, above all, that for the rest of my days I should live a better life.




I. I do not know, men of Athens, what you have felt {17} in listening to my accusers, but they almost made even me forget myself, they spoke so plausibly. And yet, I may say, they have not spoken one word of truth. And of all the lies they told, I wondered most at their saying that you ought to be on your guard against being misled by me, as I was a great speaker. To feel no shame when they knew that they would be refuted immediately by my own action, when I show you that I am not a great speaker at all,—that did seem to me the height of their audacity; unless perhaps they mean by a great speaker a man who speaks the truth. If that is their meaning, I should agree that I am an orator, though not like them. For they, as I have told you, have said little or nothing that is true; from me you will hear the whole truth. Not, I assure you, that you will get fine arguments like theirs, men of Athens, decked out in splendid phrases, no, but plain speech set forth in any words that come to hand. I believe what I have to say is true, and I ask that none of you should look for anything else. Indeed, gentlemen, it would hardly suit my age to come before you like a boy, with a made-up speech. And yet, I do ask one thing of you, and I ask it very earnestly: if you find I speak in my defence just as I have been accustomed to speak over the bankers’ tables in the market-place,—as many of you have heard me, there and elsewhere; do not be surprised at it, and do not interrupt. For this is how the matter stands. This is the first time I have ever been in a lawsuit, and I am seventy years old,—so I am really an entire stranger to the language of this place. Now, just as you would have forgiven me, I am sure, had I been actually a foreigner, if I had spoken in the tongue and manner to which I had been born, so I think I have a right to ask {18} you now to let my way of speaking pass—be it good or bad—and to give your minds to this question and this only, whether what I say is right or not. That is the virtue of the judge, as truth is the virtue of the orator.

II. Now in making my defence, men of Athens, it will be well for me to deal first with the first false accusations and my first accusers, and afterwards with those that followed. For I have had many accusers who have come before you now for many years, and have not said one word of truth, and I fear them more than Anytus and his supporters, though they are formidable too. But the others, gentlemen, are still more to be feared, I mean the men who took most of you in hand when you were boys, and have gone on persuading you ever since, and accusing me—quite falsely—telling you that there is a man called Socrates, a philosopher, who speculates about the things in the sky, and has searched into the secrets of the earth, and makes the worse appear the better reason. These men, Athenians, the men who have spread this tale abroad, they are the accusers that I fear: for the listeners think that those who study such matters must be atheists as well. Besides, these accusers of mine are many, and they have been at this work for many years, and that, too, when you were at an age at which you would be most ready to believe them, for you were young, some of you mere striplings, and judgment has really gone by default, since there was no one to make the defence. And what is most troublesome of all, it is impossible even to find out their names, unless there be a comedian among them. As for those who have tried to persuade you through envy and prejudice, some, it is true, convincing others because they were convinced themselves,—these are the hardest to deal with of all. It is not possible to call up any of them here and cross-examine them: one is compelled, as it were, to fight with shadows in making one’s defence, and hold an inquiry where there is nobody to reply. So I would have you understand with me that my accusers have been, as I say, of two kinds: those who have just brought this charge against me, and others of longer standing, of whom I am speaking now; and I ask you to realise that I must defend myself against the latter first of all, for they were the first whom you heard attack me, and at much greater length than these who followed them. And now, I presume, I must make my defence, {19} men of Athens, and try in the short time I have before me to remove from your minds this calumny which has had so long to grow. I could wish for that result, and for some success in my defence, if it would be good for you and me. But I think it a difficult task, and I am not unaware of its nature. However, let the result be what God wills; I must obey the law, and make my defence.

III. Let us begin from the beginning and see what the accusation is that gave birth to the prejudice on which Meletus relied when he brought this charge. Now, what did they say to raise this prejudice? I must treat them as though they were prosecutors and read their affidavit: “Socrates, we say, is a trouble to the State. He is guilty of inquiring into the things beneath the earth, and the things of the firmament, he makes the worse appear the better reason, and he teaches others so.” That is the sort of thing they say: you saw it yourselves in the comedy of Aristophanes,—a character called Socrates carried about in a basket, saying that he walked on air, and talking a great deal more nonsense about matters of which I do not understand one word, great or small. And I do not say this in contempt of such knowledge, if any one is clever at those things. May Meletus never bring so grave a charge against me! But in truth, gentlemen, I have nothing to do with these subjects. I call you yourselves,—most of you,—to witness: I ask you to instruct and tell each other,—those of you who have ever heard me speak, and many of you have,—tell each other, I say, if any of you have ever heard one word from me, small or great, upon such themes; and you will realise from this that the other tales people tell about me are of the same character.

IV. There is, in fact, no truth in them at all, nor yet in what you may have heard from others, that I try to make money by my teaching. Now here again, I think it would be a great thing if one could teach men as Gorgias of Leontini can, and Prodicus of Keos, and Hippias of Elis. They can all go to every one of our cities, and take hold of the young men,—who are able, as it is, to associate free of charge with any of their fellow-citizens they may choose,—and they can persuade them to leave this society for theirs and pay them {20} money and be very grateful to them too. Why, there is another philosopher here from Paros; he is in town, I know: for I happened to meet a friend of mine who has spent more money on sophists than all the rest put together,—Callias the son of Hipponicus. Now I put a question to him,—he has two sons of his own,—“Callias,” I said, “if your two sons were only colts or bullocks we could have hired a trainer for them to make them beautiful and good, and all that they should be; and our trainer would have been, I take it, a horseman or a farmer. But now that they are human beings, have you any trainer in your mind for them? Is there any one who understands what a man and a citizen ought to be? I am sure you have thought of it, because you have sons of your own. Is there any one,” I said, “or not?” “Oh yes,” said he, “certainly there is.” “Who is he?” I asked, “and where does he come from and how much does he charge?” “Euenus,” he answered, “from Paros; five minas a head.” And I thought Euenus the happiest of men if he really has that power and can teach for such a moderate fee. Now I should have been set up and given myself great airs if I had possessed that knowledge; but I do not possess it, Athenians.

V. Some of you will say perhaps:—“But, Socrates, what can your calling be? What has given rise to these calumnies? Surely, if you had done nothing more than any other man, there would not have been all this talk, had you never acted differently from other people. You must tell us what it is, that we may not be left to make our own theories about you.”

That seems to me a fair question, and I will try to show you myself what it can be that has given me my name and produced the calumny. Listen to me then. Some of you may think I am in jest, but I assure you I will only tell the truth. The truth is, men of Athens, that I have won my name because of a kind of wisdom, nothing more nor less. What can this wisdom be? The wisdom, perhaps, that is proper to man. It may really be that I am wise in that wisdom: the men I have just named may have a wisdom greater than man’s,—or else I know not what to call it. Certainly I do not possess it myself; whoever says I do lies, and speaks to calumniate me. And pray, gentlemen, do not interrupt me: not even if you think I boast. The words that I say will not be my own; I will refer you to a speaker whom you must respect. The witness I will bring you of my wisdom,—if such it really is,—and of its nature, is the god whose dwelling is at Delphi. Now you knew Chairephon, I think. He was my friend from boyhood, {21} and the friend of your democracy; he went with you into exile, and came back with you.[6] And you know, I think, the kind of man Chairephon was—how eager in every thing he undertook. Well, he made a pilgrimage to Delphi, and had the audacity to ask this question from the oracle: and now I beg you, gentlemen, do not interrupt me in what I am about to say. He actually asked if there was any man wiser than I. And the priestess answered, No. I have his brother here to give evidence of this, for Chairephon himself is dead.

In 404 B.C. after the submission to Sparta, the democratic government of Athens was overthrown. A body of thirty oligarchs, appointed at first provisionally, got practically the whole power into their hands and acted with great injustice and cruelty. The leading democrats of those who escaped judicial murder went into exile, but in a year’s time effected a re-entry, partly by force of arms, and established the democracy again.

VI. Now see why I tell you this. I am going to show you how the calumny arose. When I heard the answer, I asked myself: What can the god mean? What can he be hinting? For certainly I have never thought myself wise in anything, great or small. What can he mean then, when he asserts that I am the wisest of men? He cannot lie of course: that would be impossible for him. And for a long while I was at a loss to think what he could mean. At last, after much thought, I started on some such course of search as this. I betook myself to one of the men who seemed wise, thinking that there, if anywhere, I should refute the utterance, and could say to the oracle: “This man is wiser than I, and you said I was the wisest.” Now when I looked into the man—there is no need to give his name—it was one of our citizens, men of Athens, with whom I had an experience of this kind—when we talked together I thought, “This man seems wise to many men, and above all to himself, but he is not so;” and then I tried to show him that he thought he was wise, but he was not. Then he got angry with me, and so did many who heard us, but I went away and thought to myself, “Well, at any rate I am wiser than this man: probably neither of us knows anything of beauty or of good, but he thinks he knows something when he knows nothing, and I, if I know nothing, at least never suppose that I do. So it looks as though I really were a little wiser than he, just in so far as I do not imagine myself to know things about which I know nothing at all.” After that I went to another man who seemed to be wiser still, and I had exactly the same experience: and then he got angry with me too, and so did many more.

VII. Thus I went round them all, one after the other, aware of what was happening and sorry for it, and afraid that they were getting to hate me: but still I felt I must put the word of the god first and foremost, and that I must go through all who seemed to have any knowledge in order to find out what the oracle meant. And by the Dog, men of Athens,—for I must tell you the truth,—this {22} was what I experienced. As I went on with the quest the god had imposed on me, it seemed to me that those who had the highest reputation were very nearly the most deficient of all, and that others who were thought inferior came nearer being men of understanding. I must show you, you see, that my wanderings were a kind of labour of Hercules to prove to myself that the oracle was right. After I had tried the statesmen I went to the poets,—tragedians, writers of lyrics, and all,—thinking that there I should take myself in the act and find I really was more ignorant than they. So I took up the poems of theirs on which they seemed to have spent most pains, and asked them what they meant, hoping to learn something from them too. Now I am really ashamed to tell you the truth; but tell it I must. On the whole, almost all the bystanders could have spoken better about the poems than the men who made them. So here again I soon perceived that what the poets make is not made by wisdom, but by a kind of gift and inspiration, as with the prophets and the seers: they, too, utter many glorious sayings, but they understand nothing of what they say. The poets seemed to me in much the same state; and besides, I noticed that on account of their poetry they thought themselves the wisest of men in other matters too, which they were not. So I left them also, thinking that I had just the same advantage over them as over the politicians.

VIII. Finally I turned to the men who work with their hands. I was conscious I knew nothing that could be called anything; and I was quite sure I should find that they knew a great many wonderful things. And in this I was not disappointed; they did know things that I did not, and in this they were wiser than I. But then, gentlemen, the skilled artisans in their turn seemed to me to have just the same failing as the poets. Because of his skill in his own craft every one of them thought that he was the wisest of men in the highest matters too, and this error of theirs obscured the wisdom they possessed. So that I asked myself, on behalf of the oracle, whether I would rather be as I am, without their wisdom and without their ignorance, or like them in both. And I answered for myself and for the oracle that it was better for me to be as I am.

IX. It was this inquiry, men of Athens, that gave rise to so much enmity against me, and that of the worst and {23} bitterest kind: a succession of calumnies followed, and I received the surname of the Wise. For those who meet me think me wise wherever I refute others; but, sirs, the truth may be that God alone has wisdom, and by that oracle he may have meant just this, that human wisdom is of little or no account. It seems as though he had not been speaking of Socrates the individual; but had merely used my name for an illustration, as if to say: “He, O men, is the wisest of you all, who has learnt, like Socrates, that his wisdom is worth nothing.” Such has been my search and my inquiry ever since up to this day, in obedience to the god, whenever I found any one—fellow-citizen or foreigner—who might be considered wise: and if he did not seem so to me I have borne God witness, and pointed out to him that he was not wise at all. And through this incessant work I have had no leisure for any public action worth mentioning, nor yet for my private affairs, but I live in extreme poverty because of this service of mine to God.

X. And besides this, the young men who follow me, those who have most leisure,—sons of our wealthiest citizens,—they take a keen delight themselves in hearing people questioned, and they often copy me and try their hand at examining others on their own account; and, I imagine, they find no lack of men who think they know something but know little or nothing at all. Now those whom they examine get angry—not with themselves, but with me—and say that there is a man called Socrates, an utter scoundrel, who is ruining the young. And when any one asks them what he does or what he teaches, they have really nothing whatever to say, but so as not to seem at a loss they take up the accusations that lie ready to hand against all philosophers, and say that he speaks of the things in the heavens and beneath the earth and teaches men not to believe in the gods and to make the worse appear the better reason. The truth, I imagine, they would not care to say, namely, that they have been convicted of claiming knowledge when they have none to claim. And being, as I think they are, ambitious, energetic, and numerous, well-organised and using great powers of persuasion, they have gone on calumniating me with singular persistence and vigour till your ears are full of it all. After them Meletus attacked me and Anytus and Lycon,—Meletus on behalf of the poets, Anytus for the artisans and the statesmen, Lycon {24} for the orators,—so that, as I said at first, I should be greatly surprised if in the short time before me I could remove the prejudice that has grown to be so great. There, men of Athens, that is the truth;—I have not hidden one thing from you, great or small; I have not kept back one word. Yet I am fairly sure that I have roused hostility by so doing, which is in itself a proof that what I say is true, and that the calumnies against me are of this nature, and the reasons those I have given. And if you look into the matter,—now or afterwards,—you will find it to be so.

XI. Well, that is a sufficient defence in answer to my first accusers. Now I must try to defend myself against Meletus,—the good man and the patriot, as he calls himself,—and the rest who followed. These are my second accusers, and let us take up their affidavit in its turn. It runs somewhat as follows: Meletus asserts that Socrates is guilty of corrupting the young and not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in some strange divinities. That is the sort of charge, and let us take it point by point. He does really say that I am guilty of corrupting the young. But I answer, men of Athens, that Meletus is guilty of an unseemly jest, bringing men to trial on a frivolous charge, pretending that he cares intensely about matters on which he has never spent a thought. That this is so I will try to prove.

XII. Come here, Meletus, and tell me: you really think it of importance that our young men should be as good as possible? “I do indeed.” Well, will you tell the court who it is that makes them better? It is plain that you must know since you have given the matter thought. You have found, so you say, the man who corrupts them in me; you have accused me and brought me to trial before these judges: go on and point out to them who it is that makes them better. See, Meletus, you are silent and have not a word to say: and now, are you not ashamed? Is not this proof enough of what I say, that you have never thought of it at all? Yet once more, my friend, I ask you, who is it makes them better? “The laws.” No, my good fellow, that is not what I ask: I ask what man makes them better, and he, of course, must know the laws already. “Well, then, Socrates, I say these judges are the men.” Really, Meletus, can these men really teach our youth and make them better? “Most certainly they can.” All of them, do you mean, or only some? “All of them.” Splendid! Splendid! What a wealth of benefactors! And what of the audience? Can they do so or not? “Yes, they {25} can do so too.” And what about the Councillors? “Yes, the Councillors too.” Well, Meletus, what of the Assembly and those who sit there? They do not corrupt our young men, I suppose? All of them too, you would say, make them better? “Yes, all of them too.” Then it really seems that all the Athenians except me can make men good, and that I alone corrupt them. Is that what you mean? “That is exactly what I mean.” What a dreadful fate to be cursed with! But answer me: have you the same opinion in the case of horses? Do you think that those who make them better consist of all mankind, with the exception of one single individual who ruins them? Or, on the contrary, that there is only one man who can do them good, or very, very few, the men, namely, who understand them? And that most people, if they use horses and have to do with them, ruin them? Is it not so, Meletus, with horses and all other animals too? Of course it is, whether you and Anytus admit it or not. It would be well, and more than well, with our youth if there was only one man to corrupt them and all the others did them good. However, Meletus, you show us clearly enough that you have never considered our young men: you have made it quite plain that you care nothing about them, that you have never given a thought to the cause for which you have brought me here.

XIII. But tell us now, Meletus, I entreat you, is it better to live in an evil city or a good? Answer us, my friend: it is not a hard question after all. Do not bad men do evil to their nearest neighbours and good men good? “Yes, of course.” Well, is there any man who would rather be injured than aided by his fellows? Answer me, my good man. Indeed the law says you must. Is there any one who wishes to be harmed? “Certainly not.” Well, you accuse me, we know, of corrupting the youth and making them worse: do you suppose that I do it intentionally or unintentionally? “Intentionally, I have no doubt.” Really and truly, Meletus? Is a man of your years so much wiser than a man of mine that you can understand that bad men always do some evil, and good men some good to those who come nearest to them, while I have sunk to such a depth of folly that I am ignorant of it and do not know that if I make one of my fellows wicked I run the risk of getting harm from him,—and I bring about this terrible state of things intentionally, so you say? I do not believe you, Meletus, nor can any one else, I think. Either I do not corrupt them at all, or if I do, it is done unintentionally, so that in either case you are wrong. And if I do it unintentionally, it is not legal to bring me here for such involuntary errors; you ought to have taken me apart and taught me and reproved me in private; for it is evident that when I learn the truth I {26} shall cease to do what I have done in ignorance. But you shrank from meeting me and teaching me,—you did not choose to do that: you brought me here where those should be brought who need punishment, not those who need instruction.

XIV. Well, men of Athens,, it has been plain for some time that Meletus, as I say, has never spent a thought on these matters,—not one, great or small. Nevertheless, you must tell, us, Meletus, how you think I corrupt the youth. No doubt, as you say in the indictment, by teaching them not to believe in the gods in whom our city believes but in some new divinities. Is not that how you say I ruin them? “Certainly, I do say so, as strongly as I can.” Then, in the name of those gods of whom we speak, explain yourself more clearly to me and to the court. I have not been able to discover whether you say I teach belief in divinities of some kind, in which case I do after all believe in gods, and am not an utter atheist, and so far I am not guilty; only they are not the gods in which the city believes, they are quite different, and that is your charge against me. Or perhaps you mean to say that I do not believe in gods of any kind, and that I teach others so. “Yes, that is what I say; you do not believe in them at all.” Meletus, Meletus, you astound me. What makes you say so? Then I do not even believe that the sun and the moon are gods as other men believe? “Most certainly, gentlemen of the court, most certainly; for he says the sun is stone and the moon earth.” My dear Meletus, do you imagine you are attacking Anaxagoras? Or do you think so little of the jury, do you fancy them so illiterate as not to know that the books of Anaxagoras, the philosopher of Clazomenæ, are full of all these theories? The young men, we are to suppose, learn them all from me, when they can buy them in the theatre for tenpence at the most and laugh at Socrates if he should pretend that they were his, especially when they are so extraordinary. Now tell me in heaven’s name, is this really what you think?—that I believe in no god at all? “In none at all.” I cannot believe you, Meletus, I cannot think you can believe yourself. Men of Athens, I think this man an audacious scoundrel, I consider he has framed this indictment in a spirit of sheer insolence, aggression, and arrogance. One would think he was speaking in {27} riddles, to try “whether the wise Socrates will discover that I am jesting and contradicting myself, or whether I shall deceive him and all who hear me.” For he surely contradicts himself in his own indictment, almost as if he said: “Socrates is guilty of not believing in gods but believing in them.” Such words can only be in jest.

XV. Look at the matter with me, gentlemen of the court, and see how it appears to me. And you must answer us, Meletus, and you sirs, I ask you, as I asked you at first, not to interrupt me if I put the questions in my usual way. Now is there any man, Meletus, who believes that human things exist, but not human beings? Let him answer, sirs, but do not allow him only to interrupt. Is there any one who does not believe in horses but does believe in their trappings? Or who does not believe in flute-players but does believe in flutes? There cannot be, my worthy man; for if you will not answer, I must tell you myself and tell the court as well. But answer this at least: is there any one who believes in things divine and disbelieves in divinities? “No, there is not.” How kind of you to answer at last, under pressure from the court! Well, you admit that I believe in things divine, and that I teach others so. They may be new or they may be old, but at the least, according to your own admission, I do believe in things that are divine, and you have sworn to this in your deposition. And if I believe in things divine I must believe in divinities as well. Is that not so? Indeed it is; for since you will not answer I must assume that you assent. And do we not believe that divinities are gods, or the sons of gods? You admit this? “Yes, certainly.” Well, now if I believe in divinities, as you grant I do, and if divinities are gods of some kind, then this is what I meant when I said you were speaking in riddles and jesting with us, saying that I do not believe in gods and yet again that I do, since I believe in divinities. Again if these divinities are the bastards of the gods, with nymphs and other women for their mothers, as people say they are,—what man is there who could believe in sons of gods and not in gods? It would be as absurd as to believe in the offspring of horses and of asses, and not believe in horses and asses too. No, Meletus, it can only be that you were testing me when you drew up that charge, or else it was because you could find nothing to accuse me of with any truth. There is no possible way by which you could persuade any man of the least intelligence to doubt that he who believes in things divine and godlike must believe in divinities and gods, while he who disbelieves the one must disbelieve the other. {28}

XVI. However, men of Athens, I do not think much defence is needed to show that I am innocent of the charge Meletus has made; I think I have now said enough; but what I told you before, namely, that there is deep and widespread enmity against me, that, you must remember, is perfectly true. And this is what will overthrow me, if I am overthrown, not Meletus nor yet Anytus, but the prejudices and envy of the majority, forces that have overthrown many a good man ere now, and will, I imagine, overthrow many more; there is little fear that it will end with me. But maybe some of you will say to me: “And are you not ashamed of a practice that has brought you to the verge of death?” But I have a good answer to give him. “You are not right, my friend,” so I would say, “if you think that a man of any worth at all, however slight, ought to reckon up the chances of life and death, and not consider one thing and one alone, and that is whether what he does is right or wrong, a good man’s deed or a craven’s.” According to you, the sons of the gods who died at Troy would have been foolish creatures, and the son of Thetis above all, who thought so lightly of danger compared with the least disgrace, that, when he was resolved to kill Hector and when his mother, goddess as she was, spoke to him, to this effect, if I remember right: “My son, if you avenge the slaughter of your friend Patroclus, and kill Hector, you will die yourself:—

‘After the fall of Hector, death is waiting for you;’ ”—

those were her words. But he, when he heard, thought scorn of death and danger: he was far more afraid to live a coward’s life and leave his friend unavenged. “Come death then!” he answered, “when I have punished the murderer, that I may not live on here in shame,—

‘Here by my longships lying, a burden for earth to bear!’ ”

Do you think that that man cared for death or danger? Hear the truth, men of Athens! The post that a man has taken up because he thought it right himself or because his captain put him there, that post, I believe, he ought to hold in face of every danger, caring no whit for death or any other peril in comparison with disgrace.

XVII. So it would be a strange part for me to have played, men of Athens, if I had done as I did under the leaders you chose for me, at Potidæa and Amphipolis and Delium, standing my ground like any one else where they had posted me and facing death, and yet, when God, as I thought and believed, had set me to live the life of philosophy, making inquiry into myself and into others, I were to fear death now, or anything else whatever, and desert my post. It would be very strange; {29} and then, in truth, one would have reason to bring me before the court, because I did not believe in the gods, since I disobeyed the oracle and was afraid of death, and thought I was wise where I was not. For to fear death, sirs, is simply to think we are wise when we are not so: it is to think we know what we know not. No one knows whether death is not the greatest of all goods that can come to man; and yet men fear it as though they knew it was the greatest of all ills. And is not this the folly that should be blamed, the folly of thinking we know what we do not know? Here, again, sirs, it may be that I am different from other men, and if I could call myself wiser than any one in any point, it would be for this, that as I have no real knowledge about the world of Death, so I never fancy that I have. But I do know that it is evil and base to do wrong and disobey the higher will, be it God’s or man’s. And so for the sake of evils, which I know right well are evils, I will never fear and never fly from things which are, it may be, good. Therefore, though you should acquit me now and refuse to listen to Anytus when he says that either I ought never to have been brought here at all, or else, now that I have been, it is impossible not to sentence me to death, assuring you that if I am set at liberty, your sons will at once put into practice all that I have taught them, and all become entirely corrupt—if, in face of this, you should say to me, “Socrates, for this once we will not listen to Anytus; we will set you free, but on this condition, that you spend your time no longer in this search, and follow wisdom no more. If you are found doing it again you will be put to death.” If, I repeat, you were to set me free on that condition, I would answer you: Men of Athens, I thank you and I am grateful to you, but I must obey God rather than you, and, while I have life and strength, I will never cease to follow wisdom, and urge you forward, explaining to every man of you I meet, speaking as I have always spoken, saying, “See here, my friend, you are an Athenian, a citizen of the greatest city in the world, the most famous for wisdom and for power; and are you not ashamed to care for money and money-making and fame and reputation, and not care at all, not make one effort, for truth and understanding and the welfare of your soul?” And should he protest, and assert he cares, I will not let him go at once and send him away free: no! I will question him and examine him, and put him to the proof, and if it seems to me that he has not attained to virtue, and yet asserts he has, I will reproach him for holding {30} cheapest what is worth most, and dearer what is worth less. This I will do for old and young,—for every man I meet,—foreigner and citizen,—but most for my citizens, since you are nearer to me by blood. It is God’s bidding, you must understand that; and I myself believe no greater blessing has ever come to you or to your city than this service of mine to God. I have gone about doing one thing and one thing only,—exhorting all of you, young and old, not to care for your bodies or for money above or beyond your souls and their welfare, telling you that virtue does not come from wealth, but wealth from virtue, even as all other goods, public or private, that man can need. If it is by these words that I corrupt our youth, then these words do harm; but if any one asserts that I say anything else, there is nothing in what he says. In face of this I would say, “Men of Athens, listen to Anytus or not, acquit me or acquit me not, but remember that I will do nothing else, not if I were to die a hundred deaths.”

XVIII. No! do not interrupt me, Athenians; keep the promise I asked you to give,—not to interrupt what I had to say, but to hear it to the end. I believe it will do you good. I am about to say something else for which you might shout me down, only I beg you not to do so. You must understand that if you put me to death when I am the kind of man I say I am, you will not injure me so much as your own selves. Meletus or Anytus could not injure me; they have not the power. I do not believe it is permitted that a good man should be injured by a bad. He could be put to death, perhaps, or exiled, or disfranchised, and it may be Meletus thinks, and others think, that these are terrible evils, but I do not believe they are. I think it far worse to do what he is doing now,—trying to put a man to death without a cause. So it comes about, men of Athens, that I am far from making my defence for my own sake, as might be thought: I make it for yours, that you may not lose God’s gift by condemning me. For if you put me to death you will not easily find another of my like; one, I might say,—even if it sounds a little absurd,—who clings to the city at God’s command, as a gadfly clings to a horse; and the horse is tall and thorough-bred, but lazy from his growth, and he needs to be stirred up. And God, I think, has set me here as something of the kind,—to stir you up and urge you, and prick each one of you {31} and never cease, sitting close to you all day long. You will not easily find another man like that; and, sirs, if you listen to me you will not take my life. But probably you have been annoyed, as drowsy sleepers are when suddenly awakened, and you will turn on me and listen to Anytus, and be glad to put me to death; and then you will spend the rest of your life in sleep, unless God, in his goodness, sends you another man like me. That I am what I say I am, given by God to the city, you may realise from this: it is not the way of a mere man to leave all his own affairs uncared for and all his property neglected during so many years, and go about your business all his life, coming to each individual man, as I have come, as though I were his father or his elder brother, and bidding him think of righteousness. If I had got any profit by this, if I had taken payment for these words, there would have been some explanation for what I did; but you can see for yourselves that my accusers—audacious in everything else—have yet not had the audacity to bring witnesses to assert that I have ever taken payment from any man, or ever asked for it. The witness I could bring myself in my own poverty, would be enough, I think, to prove I speak the truth.

XIX. It may perhaps seem strange that while I have gone about in private to give this counsel, and have been so busy over it, yet I have not found it in my heart to come forward publicly before your democracy and advise the State. The reason is one you have heard me give before, at many times and in many places; and it is this: I have a divine and supernatural sign that comes to me. Meletus referred to it scoffingly in his indictment, but, in truth, it has been with me from boyhood, a kind of voice that comes to me; and, when it comes, it always holds me back from what I may intend to do; it never urges me forward. It is this which has stopped me from taking part in public affairs; and it did well, I think, to stop me. For you may be sure, men of Athens, if I had attempted to enter public life, I should have perished long ago, without any good to you or to myself. Do not be angry with me if I tell you the truth. No man will ever be safe who stands up boldly against you, or against any other democracy, and forbids the many sins and crimes that are committed in the State; the man who {32} is to fight for justice—if he is to keep his life at all—must work in private, not in public.

XX. I will give you a remarkable proof of this, a proof not in words, but in what you value—deeds. Listen, and I will tell you something that happened to me, and you may realise from it that I will never consent to injustice at any man’s command for fear of death, but would die on the spot rather than give way. What I have to tell you may seem an arrogant tale and a commonplace of the courts, but it is true.

You know, men of Athens, that I have never held any other office in the State, but I did serve on the Council. And it happened that my tribe, Antiochis, had the Presidency at the time you decided to try the ten generals who had not taken up the dead after the fight at sea.[7] You decided to try them in one body, contrary to law, as you all felt afterwards. On that occasion I was the only one of the Presidents who opposed you, and told you not to break the law; and I gave my vote against it; and when the orators were ready to impeach and arrest me, and you encouraged them and hooted me, I thought then that I ought to take all risks on the side of law and justice, rather than side with you, when your decisions were unjust, through fear of imprisonment or death. That while the city was still under the democracy. When the oligarchy came into power, the Thirty, in their turn, summoned me with four others to the Rotunda, and commanded us to fetch Leon of Salamis from that island, in order to put him to death: the sort of commands they often gave to many others, anxious as they were to incriminate all they could. And on that occasion I showed, not by words only, that for death, to put it bluntly, I did not care one straw,—but I did care, and to the full, about doing what was wicked and unjust. I was not terrified then into doing wrong by that government in all its power: when we left the Rotunda, the other four went off to Salamis and brought Leon back, but I went home. And probably I should have been put to death for it if the government had not been overthrown soon afterwards. Many people will confirm me in what I say.

This was after the sea-fight of Arginusæ, 406 B.C., one of the last Athenian successes in the Peloponnesian war. In spite of the success, twenty-five ships were lost. Their crews were not saved, and it was felt that the generals—eight in number—must have been careless in the matter. The popular indignation was extreme; the case was tried in the Assembly, and the generals were sentenced to death in a body. This was contrary to recognised law, as each should have been tried separately.

XXI. Do you believe now that I should have lived so long as this, if I had taken part in public affairs and done what I could for justice like an upright man, putting it, as I was bound to put it, first and foremost? Far from it, men of Athens. Not I, nor any other man {33} on earth. And all through my life you will find that this has been my character,—in public, if ever I had any public work to do, and the same in private,—never yielding to any man against right and justice, though he were one of those whom my calumniators call my scholars. But I have never been any one’s teacher. Only, if any man, young or old, has ever heard me at my work and wished to listen, I have never grudged him my permission; I have not talked with him if he would pay me, and refused him if he would not; I am ready for questions from rich and poor alike, and equally ready to question them should they care to answer me and hear what I have to say. And for that, if any one is the better or any one the worse, I ought not to be held responsible; I never promised instruction, I never taught, and if any man says he has ever learnt or heard one word from me in private other than all the world could hear, I tell you he does not speak the truth.

XXII. What then can it be that makes some men delight in my company? You have heard my answer, sirs. I told you the whole truth when I said their delight lay in hearing men examined who thought that they were wise but were not so; and certainly it is not unpleasant. And I, as I believe, have been commanded to do this by God, speaking in oracles and in dreams, in every way by which divine grace has ever spoken to man at all and told him what to do. That, men of Athens, is the truth, and easy to verify. For if it were really the case that I corrupt our young men and have corrupted them, then surely, now that they are older, if they have come to understand that I ever meant to do them harm when they were young, some of them ought to come forward here and now, to accuse and punish me, or if they did not care to come themselves, some who are near to them—their fathers, or their brothers, or others of their kin,—ought to remember and punish it now, if it be true that those who are dear to them have suffered any harm from me. In fact, there are many of them here at this very moment; I can see them for myself; there is Crito, my contemporary, who belongs to the same deme as I, the father of Critobulus there; and here is Lusanias of Sphettos, the father of Æschines, who is beside him; and Antiphon of Kephisia, the father of Epigenes; and others too whose brothers have spent their time with me, Nicostratus, the son of Theozotides, brother of Theodotus. Theodotus is dead; so it cannot be his entreaty that has stopped his brother. And Paralus is here, the son of Demodocus, whose brother Theages was; and Adeimantus, {34} the son of Ariston, whose brother Plato I see, and Aiantodorus with his brother Apollodorus too. And I could tell you of many more, one of whom at least Meletus should have called as a witness in his attack; or, if he forgot then, let him call one now, and I will stand aside, and he can speak if he has anything to say. But, gentlemen, you will find precisely the reverse; you will find them all prepared to stand by me, the man who has done the harm, the man who has injured their nearest and dearest, as Meletus and Anytus say. Those, perhaps, who are ruined themselves might have some reason for supporting me, but those who are uncorrupted,—men of advancing years, their relatives,—what other reason could they have for their support except the right and worthy reason that they know Meletus is lying and I am speaking the truth?

XXIII. There, gentlemen, that is on the whole what I had to say in my defence, with something more, perhaps, to the same effect. Now there may be a man among you who will feel annoyed if he remembers his own conduct when undergoing a trial far less serious than this of mine; how he prayed and supplicated the judges with floods of tears, and brought his little children into court to rouse as much pity as possible, and others of his family and many of his friends; but I, it would appear, will not do anything of the kind, and that in the face, as it might seem, of the utmost danger. Such a man, it may be, observing this, will harden himself against me; this one fact will enrage him and he will give his vote in anger. If this is so with any of you,—I do not say it is, but if it is,—I think it would be reasonable for me to say, “I too, my good man, have kindred of my own, I too was not born, as Homer says, ‘from stock or stone,’ but from men, so that I have kinsfolk and sons also, three sons,—the eldest of them is already a stripling, the other two are children. And yet I do not intend to bring one of them here, or entreat you to acquit me.” And why is it that I will not do anything of the kind? Not from pride, men of Athens, nor from disrespect for you: nor is it because I am at peace about death; it is for the sake of my honour and yours and the honour of the city. I do not think it fitting that I should do such things, a man of my years, and with the name I bear; it may be true or false, but at any rate it is believed that Socrates is in some way different from most other men. And if {35} those among you who bear a name for wisdom or courage or any other virtue were to act like this, it would be disgraceful. I have seen it often in others, when they came under trial, men of some repute, but who behaved in a most extraordinary way, thinking, apparently, that it would be a fearful thing for them to die; as though they would be immortal if you did not put them to death. Such men, I think, bring disgrace upon the city, and any stranger might suppose that the Athenians who bore the highest name for virtue, who had been chosen out expressly for office and reward, were no whit better than women. We must not behave so, men of Athens, those of us who are thought to be of any worth at all, and you must not allow it, should we try: you must make it plain, and quite plain, that you will be more ready to condemn the man who acts these pitiful scenes before you and makes the city absurd, than him who holds his peace.

XXIV. Even putting honour aside, gentlemen, it does not seem to me right to supplicate a judge and gain acquittal so: we ought rather to instruct him and convince him. The judge does not sit here to grant justice as a favour, but to try the case; he has sworn, not that he will favour those he chooses, but that he will judge according to the law. So we should not teach you to break your oath, and you should not let yourselves be taught. Neither of us would reverence the gods if we did that. Therefore you must not expect me, men of Athens, to act towards you in a way which I do not think, seemly or right or reverent—more especially when I am under trial for impiety, and have Meletus here to face. For plainly, were I to win you over by my entreaties, and have you do violence to your oath, plainly I should be teaching you not to believe in the gods, and my own speech would accuse me unmistakably of unbelief. But it is far from being so; for I believe, men of Athens, as not one of my accusers believes, and f leave it to you and to God to decide my case as may be best for me and you.



XXV. There are many reasons, men of Athens, why I feel no distress at what has now occurred, I mean {36} your condemnation of me. It is not unexpected; on the contrary, I am surprised at the number of votes on either side. I did not think it would be so close. I thought the majority would be great; but in fact, so it appears, if only thirty votes had gone otherwise, I should have been acquitted. Against Meletus, as it is, I appear to have won, and not only so, but it is clear to every one that if Anytus and Lycon had not come forward to accuse me, he would have been fined a thousand drachmas, for he would not have obtained a fifth part of the votes.

XXVI. The penalty he fixes for me is, I understand, death. Very good. And what am I going to fix in my turn, men of Athens? It must be, must it not, what I deserve? Well, then, what do I deserve to receive or pay because I chose not to sit quiet all my life, and turned aside from what most men care for,—money-making and household affairs, leadership in war and public speaking, and all the offices and associations and factions of the State,—thinking myself, as a matter of fact, too upright to be safe if I went into that life? So I held aloof from it all; I should have been of no use there to you or to myself, but I set about going in private to each individual man and doing him the greatest of all services—as I assert—trying to persuade every one of you not to think of what he had but rather of what he was, and how he might grow wise and good, nor consider what the city had, but what the city was, and so with everything else in the world. What, then, do I deserve for this? A reward, men of Athens, if I am really to consider my deserts, and a reward, moreover, that would suit me. And what reward would suit a poor man who has been a public benefactor, and who is bound to refrain from work because of his services in exhorting you? There could be nothing so suitable, men of Athens, as a place at the table in the Presidents’ Hall; far more suitable than if any of you had won a horse-race at Olympia or a chariot race. The Olympian victor brings you fancied happiness, but I bring you real: he does not need maintenance, but I do. If I am to fix what I deserve in all fairness, then this is what I fix:—a place at the table in the Presidents’ Hall. {37}

XXVII. Perhaps when I say this you will feel that I am speaking much as I spoke about entreaties for pity, that is to say, in a spirit of pride; but it is not so, Athenians. This is how it is: I am convinced that I have never done wrong to any man intentionally, but I cannot convince you; we have only had a little time to talk together. Had it been the custom with you, as with other nations, to spend not one day but many on a trial for life and death, I believe you would have been convinced; but, as matters are, it is not easy to remove a great prejudice in a little time.

Well, with this conviction of mine that I have never wronged any man, I am far from meaning to wrong myself by saying that I deserve any harm, or assigning myself anything whatever of the kind. What should I be afraid of? Of suffering what Meletus has assigned, when I say that I do not know, after all, whether it is not good? And to escape it I am to choose what I know quite well is bad? And what punishment should I fix? Imprisonment? Why should I live in prison, slave to the Eleven[8] of the day? Or should I say a fine, with imprisonment until I pay it? But then there is just the difficulty I mentioned a moment ago: I have no money to pay a fine. Or am I to say exile? You might, I know, choose that for my punishment. My love of life would indeed be great if I were so blind as not to see that you, my own fellow-citizens, have not been able to endure my ways and words, you have found them too trying and too heavy to bear, so that you want to get rid of them now. And if that is so, will strangers put up with them? Far from it, men of Athens. And it would be a grand life for a man of my years to go into exile and wander about from one city to another. For well I know that wherever I went the young men would listen to my talk as they listen here; and if I drove them away, they would drive me out themselves and persuade their elders to side with them, and if I let them come, their fathers and kindred would banish me on their account.

The Eleven formed a board consisting of a secretary and ten members appointed by lot every year. They had charge of the prisons and superintended executions.

XXVIII. Perhaps some one will say: “But, Socrates, cannot you leave us and live in peace and quietness?” Now that is just what it is hardest to make you, some of you, believe. If I were to say that this would be to disobey God, and therefore I cannot hold my peace, you would not believe me; you would say I was using my irony. And if I say again that it is {38} in fact the greatest of all goods for a man to talk about virtue every day, and the other matters on which you have heard me speaking and making inquiry into myself and others: if I say that the life without inquiry is no life for man—you would believe that even less. Yet it is so, even as I tell you—only it is not easy to get it believed. Moreover, I am not accustomed to think myself deserving of punishment. However, if I had had any money I should have fixed a price that I could pay, for that would not have harmed me at all; but as it is, since I have no money—unless perhaps you would consent to fix only so much as I could afford to pay? Perhaps I might be able to pay one mina silver; and I will fix the fine at that. But Plato here, gentlemen, and Crito, and Critobulus, and Apollodorus, beg me to say thirty minas, and they tell me they will guarantee it. So I will fix it at this sum, and these men, on whom you can rely, will be sureties for the amount.



XXIX. You have hastened matters a little, men of Athens, but for that little gain you will be called the murderers of Socrates the Wise by all who want to find fault with the city. For those who wish to reproach you will insist that I am wise, though I may not be so. Had you but waited a little longer, you would have found this happen of itself: for you can see how old I am, far on in life, with death at hand. In this I am not speaking to all of you, but only to those who have sentenced me to death. And to them I will say one thing more. It may be, gentlemen, that you imagine I have been convicted for lack of arguments by which I could have convinced you, had I thought it right to say and do anything in order to escape punishment. Far from it. No; convicted I have been, for lack of—not arguments, but audacity and impudence, and readiness to say what would have been a delight for you to hear, lamenting and bewailing my position, saying and doing all kinds of things unworthy of myself, as I consider, but such as you have grown accustomed to hear from others. I did not think it right then to behave through fear unlike a free-born man, and I do not repent now of my defence; I would far rather die after that defence than live upon your terms. As in war, so in a court of justice, not I nor any man should scheme to escape death by any and every means. Many {39} a time in battle it is plain the soldier could avoid death if he flung away his arms and turned to supplicate his pursuers, and there are many such devices in every hour of danger for escaping death, if we are prepared to say and do anything whatever. But, sirs, it may be that the difficulty is not to flee from death, but from guilt. Guilt is swifter than death. And so it is that I, who am slow and old, have been caught by the slower-paced, and my accusers, who are clever and quick, by the quick-footed, by wickedness. And now I am to go away, under sentence of death from you: but on them truth has passed sentence of unrighteousness and injustice. I abide by the decision, and so must they. Perhaps indeed, it had to be just so: and I think it is very well.

XXX. And now that that is over I desire to prophesy to you, you who have condemned me. For now I have come to the time when men can prophesy—when they are to die. I say to you, you who have killed me, punishment will fall on you immediately after my death, far heavier for you to bear—I call God to witness!—than your punishment of me. For you have done this thinking to escape the need of giving any account of your lives: but exactly the contrary will come to pass, and so I tell you. Those who will call you to account will be more numerous,—I have kept them back till now, and you have not noticed them,—and they will be the harder to bear inasmuch as they are younger, and you will be troubled all the more. For if you think that by putting men to death you can stop every one from blaming you for living as you should not live, I tell you you are mistaken; that way of escape is neither feasible nor noble; the noblest way, and the easiest, is not to maim others, but to fit ourselves for righteousness. That is the prophecy I give to you who have condemned me, and so I leave you.

XXXI. But with those who have acquitted me I should be glad to talk about this matter, until the Archons are at leisure and I go to the place where I am to die. So I will ask you, gentlemen, to stay with me for the time. There is no reason why we should not talk together while we can, and tell each other our dreams. I would like to show you, as my friends, what {40} can be the meaning of this that has befallen me. A wonderful thing, my judges,—for I may call you judges, and not call you amiss,—a wonderful thing has happened to me. The warning that comes to me, my spiritual sign, has always in all my former life been most incessant, and has opposed me in most trifling matters, whenever I was about to act amiss; and now there has befallen me, as you see yourselves, what might really be thought, as it is thought, the greatest of all evils. And yet, when I left my home in the morning, the signal from God was not against me, nor when I came up here into the court, nor in my speech, whatever I was about to say; and yet at other times it has often stopped me in the very middle of what I was saying; but never once in this matter has it opposed me in any word or deed. What do I suppose to be the reason? I will tell you. This that has befallen me is surely good, and it cannot possibly be that we are right in our opinion, those of us who hold that death is an evil. A great proof of this has come to me: it cannot but be that the well-known signal would have stopped me, unless what I was going to meet was good.

XXXII. Let us look at it in this way too, and we shall find much hope that it is so. Death must be one of two things: either it is to have no consciousness at all of anything whatever, or else, as some say, it is a kind of change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if there is no consciousness at all, and it is like sleep when the sleeper does not dream, I say there would be a wonderful gain in death. For I am sure if any man were to take that night in which he slept so deeply that he saw no dreams, and put beside it all the other nights and days of his whole life, and compare them, and say how many of them all were better spent or happier than that one night,—I am sure that not the ordinary man alone, but the King of Persia himself, would find them few to count. If death is of this nature I would consider it a gain; for the whole of time would seem no longer than one single night. But if it is a journey to another land, if what some say is true and all the dead are really there, if this is so, my judges, what greater good could there be? If a man were to go to the House of Death, and leave all these self-styled judges to find the true judges there, who, so {41} it is said, give justice in that world,—Minos and Rhadamanthus, Æacus and Triptolemus, and all the sons of the gods who have done justly in this life,—would that journey be ill to take? Or to meet Orpheus and Musæus, Hesiod and Homer, what would you give for that, any of you? I would give a hundred deaths if it is true. And for me especially it would be a wonderful life there, if I met Palamedes, and Ajax, the son of Telamon, or any of the men of old who died by an unjust decree: to compare my experience with theirs would be full of pleasure, surely. And best of all, to go on still with the men of that world as with the men of this, inquiring and questioning and learning who is wise among them, and who may think he is, but is not. How much would one give, my judges, to question the hero who led the host at Troy, or Odysseus, or Sisyphus, or any of the countless men and women I could name? To talk with them there, and live with them, and question them, would be happiness unspeakable. Certainly there they will not put one to death for that; they are far happier in all things than we of this world, and they are immortal for evermore,—if what some say is true.

XXXIII. And you too, my judges, must think of death with hope, and remember this at least is true, that no evil can come to a good man in life or death, and that he is not forgotten of God; what has come to me now has not come by chance, but it is clear to me that it was better for me to die and be quit of trouble. That is why the signal never came to turn me back, and I cannot say that I am altogether angry with my accusers and those who have condemned me. Yet it was not with that intention that they condemned and accused me; they meant to do me harm, and they are to be blamed for that. This much, however, I will ask of them. When my sons come of age, sirs, will you reprove them and trouble them as I troubled you, if you think they care for money or anything else more than righteousness? And if they seem to be something when they are really nothing, reproach them as I reproached you for not seeking what they need, and for thinking they are somewhat when they are worth nothing. And if you do this, we shall have received {42} justice at your hands, my sons and I.

But now it is time for us to go, I to death, and you to life; and which of us goes to the better state is known to none but God.


Characters in the Dialogue



I. Soc. How is it you have come at this hour, Crito? {43} Is it not quite early still?

Cr. Very early indeed.

Soc. About what time is it?

Cr. Not daybreak yet.

Soc. I wonder the jailer was ready to let you in.

Cr. Oh, he is quite a friend of mine now, Socrates, since I have come here so often, and besides I have been able to do him a kindness.

Soc. Have you just come or have you been here some while?

Cr. Some little while.

Soc. Then why did you not wake me up at once, instead of sitting beside me so quietly?

Cr. Oh, Socrates, if I were you I should not care to be awake in such a time of trial. And I have been wondering at you all this while when I saw how peacefully you slept; I did not wake you on purpose so that you might be at peace as long as possible. Often and often in your past life I have thought how happy your nature was, but more than ever now this has come upon you, when I see how easily and patiently you bear it.

Soc. Well, Crito, it would be much too foolish for a man of my years to complain if his time has come to die.

Cr. But others, Socrates, men as old as you, have had to face what you have, and their age has not stopped them from complaining of their fate.

Soc. No doubt. But please tell me now why you have come so early.

Cr. To bring you news, Socrates, bad news,—not bad for you, I believe,—but for me and all your friends, bad and hard to bear; for me, I think, the hardest of all.

Soc. And what is it? Is it the return of the ship from Delos,—the signal for my death?

Cr. It has not actually returned, but I think it will be here to-day, from the news some travellers bring, who came on from Sunium and left it there. From what they say it is clear that it will be in to-day, and to-morrow, Socrates, you must lay down your life.

II. Soc. Yes, Crito, and we may hope it will be for the best. If it is God’s will, be it so. Still I fancy the ship will not come in to-day.

Cr. What makes you believe that?

Soc. I will tell you. The day after it comes, you {44} know, I have to die.

Cr. Yes. So the authorities say.

Soc. Well, I do not think it will come this very day, but to-morrow. And I believe so because of a dream which came to me a little while ago, in the night that has just passed, and perhaps you did well not to wake me.

Cr. And what can this dream have been?

Soc. I thought a woman came to me, tall and fair and clothed in white,—and she called me and said, “Socrates, Socrates,

‘In three days’ time you will come to the fertile land of Phthia.’ ”

Cr. What a strange dream, Socrates!

Soc. But quite plain, I think, Crito.

III. Cr. Only too plain for me. But listen to me, my dear friend, even now, and let yourself be rescued after all. Think of me: if you die, it will mean more sorrows than one for me; the loss of a comrade whose like I shall never find again; and a great many people, who do not know either of us very well, will believe that I could have saved you had I chosen to spend my money, but that I did not care. And what could be worse than to have it thought that I put my money above my friend? Most people will never believe that we did all we could, and that you yourself refused to come away.

Soc. But, my dear good Crito, why should we care so much for what most people think? The best people, the people we ought to think of first, they will know that things have happened as they have.

Cr. But you must surely see, Socrates, that it is absolutely necessary to take some account of the opinion of the majority. What has happened now is a proof in itself that they have it in their power to do, I may say, the greatest possible harm, if they take a prejudice against a man.

Soc. I only wish, Crito, they had the power of doing the greatest harm, and then they might have the power of doing the greatest good; that would be very well; but, as it is, they have neither the one power nor the other; they cannot make a man wise or witless,—they have no power but what chance has given them.

IV. Cr. Well, it may be as you say; but answer me this, my friend. Are you not really thinking about me and your other friends, for fear that, if you get away, the informers will attack us and say that we carried you off, and we shall lose all our property, or at any rate considerable sums, and possibly undergo further punishment? Now if you fear anything of the kind, do not {45} think about it any more: we have a right to risk this much,—and more than this, if need be,—for the sake of delivering you. So do listen to me, and do not say No.

Soc. Ah, but I do think about it, Crito, and about many other things as well.

Cr. Oh, but do not be afraid of it any more! Why, it would not even take much money to make certain people get you safe out of the country. And can you not see how cheap these informers are, and how little money would be needed for them? You can have all my property, and it would, I am sure, be enough; or if your concern for me will not allow you to spend my money, there are your friends from other cities staying here who are ready to pay: Simmias of Thebes has actually brought enough money with him for the very purpose, and Kebes is ready, too, and a great many others as well. So, as I have been saying, you must not give up the attempt to save yourself for fear of this. And do not let the feeling you spoke of in court trouble you—that if you left Athens you would not know what to do with yourself. There are plenty of other places for you to go where they would love you. If you chose Thessaly, I have friends there who would value you and keep you safe. No one in Thessaly could touch you.

V. And further, Socrates, I really think you are doing wrong in sacrificing yourself deliberately, when you could be saved. You seek for yourself what your enemies would have sought—what they did seek when they tried to destroy you. And besides, it seems to me that you are deserting your own sons; you could bring them up and teach them and train them, but you insist on going away and leaving them alone, and so far as you are concerned you are leaving their fate to chance, and that fate will be in all probability the fate of most orphans who are left desolate. Either we ought not to bring children into the world at all, or we should bring them up and teach them and go through their troubles with them; but you seem to me just to have chosen the easiest course. And yet yours should be the choice of a good man and a brave, especially after professing to care for virtue all your life. It comes to this, that I am actually ashamed for you and all of us, your friends; it will seem that everything that has happened has been due to what is really cowardice on our part, from the first opening of the case in the law-courts,—when it need never have been opened at all,—and then the whole course of the trial, and now this, the climax and end of everything, seems like a mockery of it all, slipping through our hands because of our own weakness and cowardice,—we who did not save you, and you, who would not save yourself, when {46} it was perfectly possible, if we had been of any use. I would have you think, Socrates, if this will not bring disgrace as well as disaster upon yourself and us. Take counsel, or rather be counselled; the time for taking counsel has passed, and there is only one counsel to give: this very night everything ought to be done and over. If we delay any more, it will no longer be possible. Listen to me, Socrates, I entreat you, and do not say No.

VI. Soc. My dear Crito, I must thank you for your eagerness, if your cause is righteous; but if not, the greater your zeal, the greater the harm that it may cause. So we must look carefully and think whether we ought to do this or not. All my life, not now only, I have been a man who can obey no friend but reason, the reason that seems best to me after I have thought the matter out. And the reasons I used before I cannot give up now, because this has befallen me; they seem much the same to me still; I honour and revere what I honoured and reverenced before; and if we have nothing better to bring forward now, you may be sure I shall never give you my consent, no, not if the power of the majority were to scare us, like children, with worse bogies than they have shown us already,—chains and death, and loss of property. Now what would be the best way of examining the question? Perhaps if we take up first the argument you brought forward about what people think, and ask whether it was right or not to say, as I always did, that we ought to attend to some opinions, and not to others; or that it was well enough to say so before I had to die, but now it has become perfectly plain that it was only said for the sake of talk, and that speaking seriously it was nothing but childish nonsense. I want very much to examine this argument with you, dear Crito, and see whether it looks at all different to me now that I am in this position, or just the same, and whether we are to give it up or obey it. It was repeatedly said, I think, by those who thought they had something to say, just as I said a little while ago, that of all the opinions men hold, some ought to be valued highly and some ought not. Now tell me, Crito, do you not think that that was right? You, you see, are, humanly speaking, in no danger of dying to-morrow, and there is no impending fate to lead you {47} astray. Ask yourself then and answer: do you not take it to be established that we ought not to value all the opinions of men but only some? What do you say? Is that not right?

Cr. Yes, quite right.

Soc. We ought to value the good and not the bad?

Cr. Yes.

Soc. The opinions of sensible men are good, and the opinions of foolish men are bad?

Cr. Of course.

VII. Soc. Well now, what used we to say about cases of this kind? If a man is learning gymnastics, does he pay attention to every one’s approval and disapproval and every one’s opinion, or to one man and one man alone, his doctor or his trainer?

Cr. To one man, and one man alone.

Soc. Then he ought to dread the blame and rejoice in the praise of that one man, and not care about the majority?

Cr. Certainly he ought.

Soc. So he ought to act and perform his exercises, and eat and drink just as is thought right by the one man who can teach him and who knows, rather than as all the others think?

Cr. Yes, that is so.

Soc. Very good. And if he disobeys the one and disregards his opinion and his approval, while he values the advice of the majority, who know nothing at all about it,—if he does this, will he be free from harm?

Cr. How could he be?

Soc. And what will this harm be? Where will it end? How will it injure the man who disobeys?

Cr. It will injure his body of course: it means the ruin of that.

Soc. Quite right. And is it not the same with everything else too, Crito,—not to go into details,—above all with justice and injustice, ugliness and beauty, good and evil, with which we are now concerned? Ought we to follow the voice of the many, and fear it, or the voice of the one, if there is one who knows, one whom we ought to reverence and fear more than all the rest? For if we will not follow him, we shall ruin and maim that part which is strengthened in the just man and perishes in the unjust. Or is there nothing of the kind?

Cr. Ah, but I believe there is, Socrates.

VIII. Soc. Well, if we destroy what is strengthened by wholesome treatment and ruined by unwholesome, when we will not listen to the words of those who understand, can we live any longer when this thing is destroyed? What I am speaking of is the body, is it not?

Cr. Yes.

Soc. Is it possible, I ask, for us to live when the body is ruined and destroyed?

Cr. No, quite impossible.

Soc. And could we live with that in us destroyed which is maimed by wickedness and strengthened by righteousness? Or are we to think more meanly of it than of the body, that thing in us, whatever it is, which {48} has to do with right and wrong?

Cr. Surely not.

Soc. Shall we think more highly of it?

Cr. Far more highly.

Soc. Then, dear friend, if that is so, we have not, after all, to think so much of what the many will say about us; but rather of what he will say who knows what is right and what is wrong, he, and the truth itself. So that you are wrong in the first place, in suggesting that we ought to consider the opinion of the majority about justice and beauty and goodness. But then, you see, it might be said the majority can put us to death.

Cr. Yes, certainly, Socrates, it might very well be said.

Soc. It might indeed. But, my dear friend, this argument that we have gone over looks to me just as it did before. And now turn to this other one and see if it still holds true for us or not: I mean the doctrine that it is not mere life, but the good life, that we ought to value most.

Cr. Yes, it still holds true.

Soc. And that the good life is the same as the life of beauty and the life of righteousness, does that hold true or does it not?

Cr. It does.

IX. Soc. Well, it follows from our admissions that what we have to consider is whether it is right or not for me to try to get away when Athens has not set me free; and if it seems right, let us make the attempt, and if not, let us leave it alone. As for those considerations you spoke of, about expense and reputation and the education of my sons, perhaps, Crito, they should really be left to those who would put others to death without hesitation and bring them to life again,—if they could,—without a thought; and these are our majority. But for us, I think, since the argument will have it so, the only question is the one we spoke of just now, whether it would be right in us to pay money and grant favours to these men who are to take me away,—right in you to take me, and right in me to let myself be taken,—or whether we should do wrong if we did anything of the kind: and if it seems wrong, then we ought not,—ought we?—to take into account whether we must die if we stay quietly here, or suffer anything else whatever rather than do wrong.

Cr. I must say that sounds right, Socrates. But think what we are to do.

Soc. Let us think about it together, my friend, and if you have anything to say in answer to me, say it; and I will listen to you. But if not, then, dear good Crito, you must once for all give up telling me the same thing over and over again,—how I ought to come away from here against the will of Athens. I would give a great deal to have you on my side, and not to go against your wish. So will you examine the first step in the inquiry, to see if you consider it established, and then try to {49} answer what I ask you, as you may think best.

Cr. Well, I will try.

X. Soc. Do we hold that we ought never in any way to do wrong willingly, or that we may do wrong in one way though not in another? Or that under no circumstances can wrong-doing be good and beautiful, as we concluded over and over again in former times? Can it be that all those conclusions have been given up and tossed aside in these few days? And that you and I, Crito, old men as we are, have been talking earnestly together all this while and never noticed that we were no better than children? Or is it most assuredly the case, even as we used to say in the old days, that whether the many agree or not, and whether our fate is to be heavier than it is or lighter, whatever happens, none the less, in any and every way wrong-doing is evil and shameful to the doer? Do we agree or not?

Cr. We do.

Soc. Then we ought never to do wrong?

Cr. No, we ought not.

Soc. Not even in return for being wronged ourselves, as most people believe—for we ought not to do wrong at all.

Cr. It appears not.

Soc. And now, tell me, Crito, ought we to do harm or not?

Cr. Certainly not, my friend.

Soc. Even to return harm for harm, can that be just, as most people say it is, or not?

Cr. No, it is not just at all.

Soc. Yes, I feel that to do harm to people cannot be different from doing wrong.

Cr. That is true.

Soc. Well then, we ought never to return evil for evil and never do harm to any man at all, whatever we may suffer at his hands. And, Crito, you must be careful in agreeing to this, not to say that you agree unless you really do. For I know that there are only a few men who hold this belief, or ever will hold it. And there can be no common ground between those who do and those who do not: each side must despise the other when they see what they believe. Therefore look, and look carefully, to see if you stand on the same ground as I, and hold the same opinion, and then we may begin our inquiry with this belief that it can never be a good thing to do wrong, not even in revenge, nor to return evil for evil in self-defence. Or will you stand aloof and refuse to start from this? For my part, I have held this belief for many years, and I hold it still, but if you have come to think otherwise, tell me and teach me. Only, if you hold to our old views, you must listen to what follows.

Cr. But I do hold to them, and I agree with you. Say on.

Soc. I say then—or rather I ask—are we to do what we have admitted to be right, or are we to play false?

Cr. We are to do what is right.

XI. Soc. Bear that in mind now, and see what you think of this. If we go without the State’s consent, {50} shall we or shall we not do harm, and that to the last people who should be harmed? And shall we hold to what we have admitted to be right, or shall we not?

Cr. I cannot answer your question, Socrates, for I do not understand it.

Soc. Then let me put it like this. Suppose we meant to run away—or whatever one ought to call it—and suppose the laws and the State were to come and stand over us and ask me, “Tell us, Socrates, what is it you mean to do? Nothing more nor less than to overthrow us, by this attempt of yours,—to overthrow the laws and the whole commonwealth so far as in you lies. Do you imagine that a city can stand and not be overthrown, when the decisions of the judges have no power, when they are made of no effect and destroyed by private persons?” What are we to answer, Crito, to such words as these? Much could be said, especially by an orator, in defence of this dying law, the law that the judges’ decision must be final. Are we to answer, “Oh, but the State has wronged us, and the decision it gave was unjust”? Shall we say this, or what shall we say?

Cr. Why, of course we shall say this.

XII. Soc. And what if the laws reply: “Was not this the agreement between us and you, that you swore to abide by the decisions the city gave”? And if we show surprise at what they say, they might go on: “Do not be surprised at this, Socrates, but answer us. You are fond, we know, of question and answer. Tell us, what have you against us or against the city that you try to destroy us? Have we not given you life? Is it not through us that your father took your mother to wife and begat you? Tell us, tell those of us who are the marriage-laws, have you any fault to find with us?” “No,” I would say, “none.” “Then perhaps you find fault with the laws for the bringing-up of children and their education, the education that was given to you? Did we not do right, then, we who have been set over this, when we bade your father bring you up to exercise your body and cultivate your mind?” “Yes,” I would answer, “quite right.” “Good,” they would reply, “and now that you have been born and brought up and educated, can you say that you are not ours,—our child and our servant,—you and your descendants? And if this is so, do you think your rights can equal ours? That you have a right to do to us whatever we mean to do to you? Against your father you would grant you had no equality of rights, and none against your master,—if you happened to have a master,—to let you do to him whatever he did to you, return blame for blame, and blows for blows, {51} and harm for harm; and are you to be allowed such rights against your fatherland and its laws? If we mean to kill you because we think it just, must you do your best to kill us in your turn? Can you claim that you have a right to this, you, the lover of virtue? Is this your wisdom, not to know that above father and mother and forefathers stands our country, dearer and holier than they, more sacred, and held in more honour by God and men of understanding? That you ought to reverence her, and submit to her and work for her when she is in need, for your country more than for your father, and either win her consent or obey her will, suffer what she bids you suffer, and hold your peace; be it imprisonment or blows, or wounds in war or death,—it must be borne, and it is right it should be borne; there must be no yielding, no running away, no deserting of one’s post: in war and in the law-courts and everywhere we must do what our city bids us do and our country, or else convince her where justice lies. For it is not lawful to use force against father or mother, and still less against our fatherland.” What shall we say to this, Crito? That the laws speak the truth or not?

Cr. I believe they do.

XIII. Soc. “Then see, Socrates,” they might go on, “if what we say is true, you have no right to do to us what you are thinking of doing. We begat you, we brought you up, we taught you, we gave you and all your fellow-citizens of our fairest and our best, and still we offer full liberty to any Athenian who likes, after he has seen and tested us and all that is done in our city, to take his goods and leave us, if we do not please him, and go wherever he would. None of us stand in his way, none of us forbid him, should he wish to part from us and go elsewhere to live, if we and our city do not satisfy him; he may go where he likes, taking his goods with him. Only if he stays with us after seeing how we judge our cases and how we rule our city, then we hold that he has pledged himself by his action to do our bidding. And if he will not, we say that he is thrice guilty,—because we are his parents and he disobeys us, and because we are his guardians, and because after promising obedience he neither obeys us nor persuades us to obey him, supposing us to have done anything amiss. Yet we are no tyrants, we only {52} suggest that he should do as we bid him, but when we offer him the choice of persuading us or obeying us, he does neither the one thing nor the other.

XIV. “It is of this charge, Socrates, this and of no other, that we say you will be guilty, if you do what you have in mind, and guilty in the last degree, you, of all Athenians.” And if I were to answer: “But why, pray?” they might well retort on me that I of all Athenians had given the pledge of which we spoke. “Socrates,” they would say, “we find abundance of proof that you have been satisfied with us and with our city. You would never have spent, as you have spent, more time in it than any other Athenian if it had not pleased you more; you never left it to go on pilgrimage, or for any other journey whatsoever, unless it were to serve in war; you never once stayed in any other country as other men have done; you never had a wish to see another city or other laws; we and our city were enough for you. So decided was your choice of us, and your pledge to accept our government; yes, and you begat children here, to show that the city pleased you well. Moreover, during your own trial you could have fixed your punishment at exile, if you had wished, and have done with the city’s consent what you are prepared to do now against her will. Yes, you took high ground then, professing that you would not complain if you had to die, that you preferred, so you said, death to exile. And now you have no respect for your own words, you have no consideration for us, your country’s laws, ready as you are to overthrow us; you act as the worst of slaves might act, preparing to run away, breaking the contract—the pledge you gave to accept our government. This is the first question you must answer: are we, or are we not, right in what we say when we assert that you agreed to accept our government in deed and in truth?” What are we to say to this, dear Crito, what but that we agree?

Cr. Yes, Socrates, we must.

Soc. “What is it you are doing,” they might go on, “but breaking your covenant with us and your pledge? You gave it under no compulsion, you were not misled, nor forced to decide in haste; you had seventy years during which you might have gone away if you had not been pleased with us, or had not thought the agreement fair. Yet you did not choose Lacedæmon in preference, nor Crete—though you always say that both of them are governed by good laws—nor any other city, barbarian or Greek;—you left ours more seldom than the {53} lame can leave it, or the blind and maimed:—so far beyond your fellow-citizens did you love Athens, and us with her, her laws, you must have loved. For who could love a city without laws? And now, surely, you will not break your pledge? No, not if you listen to us, Socrates, nor will you make yourself a laughing-stock by banishing yourself.

XV. “For see, if you transgress like this, what good will you get from it for yourself or for your friends? That your friends as well as you will run the risk of exile and banishment and loss of property, is fairly plain. And for yourself, say you go to one of the cities near, to Thebes or Megara, both governed by good laws, your coming, Socrates, will be a danger to their government, and those who love them will suspect you of undermining all their laws, and so you will confirm the opinion of your judges, and they will be sure that their decision was just. For he who overthrows the laws will most assuredly be thought to ruin the young and foolish. Must you then avoid all well-governed cities and all civilised men? And if you do, will it be worth your while to live? Or will you go to them and have the audacity to talk with them and say—what will you say, Socrates?—what you used to say here? That goodness and righteousness are worth all things to men, and lawfulness and law? Do you not think the conduct of Socrates would have an ugly look? You are bound to think so. But suppose you go right away and up to Thessaly and stay with Crito’s friends. There is plenty of lawlessness and licence there, and very likely they would enjoy hearing you tell how neatly you got away from prison, in disguise, wrapped up in some queer dress,—a peasant’s leather coat, or something else of the kind that fugitives always have to wear. But that you, an old man, with but a short while in all probability to live, had sunk to such a craving for life as to transgress the highest laws—will there be no one to tell you that? Perhaps not, if you are careful never to give offence,—but if you do, you will have to listen to much that will be your shame. So you are to live by cringing and truckling to every man—for what? For the good cheer of Thessaly? As though you had gone there for the dinners? And all those talks about justice and righteousness, where are we to find them? Ah, but {54} you must live, you say, for your children’s sake, to bring them up and educate them! What? You will take them away to Thessaly and have them brought up and educated there, to make them foreigners and give them the benefit of that? Or no,—they are to have their education here, but they will be brought up better and taught better if you live, although you will not be with them, because your friends will take care of them. So your friends will care for them if you go to Thessaly, but not if you go to Death? Yet you would expect them to care if they are of any use, those who call themselves your friends.

XVI. “No, Socrates, listen to us, to us who brought you up, and do not set your children or your life or anything else above righteousness, and so when you go to Death have to defend yourself for this before those who govern there. In this life you do not believe that to act thus can be good for you or yours, or just or righteous; and it will not be good when you reach the other world. As it is, if you go, you will go wronged,—wronged by men though not by us,—but if you went in that disgraceful way, rendering evil for evil and wrong for wrong, breaking your own pledge and covenant with us, doing harm to the last that you should harm, to yourself and your dear ones and your country and us, your country’s laws, then we shall bear you anger while you live, and in that other land our brothers, the laws of Death, will not receive you graciously, for they will know you went about to destroy us so far as in you lay. Therefore you must not let Crito overpersuade you against us.”

XVII. Crito, my dear friend Crito, that, believe me, that is what I seem to hear, as the Corybants hear flutes in the air, and the sound of those words rings and echoes in my ears and I can listen to nothing else. Believe me, so far as I see at present, if you speak against them you will speak in vain. Still, if you think you can do any good, say on.

Cr. No, Socrates, I have nothing I can say.

Soc. Then let us leave it so, Crito; and let things go as I have said, for this is the way that God has pointed out.


Transcriber's Notes

A small number of changes to spelling and punctuation have been made silently to achieve consistency.

In the pieces written by Plato, the Stephanus pagination, as indicated in the original text in sidenotes, is here presented inline, enclosed in { } (e.g., {25}).

[The end of Socratic Discourses by Plato & Xenophon]