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Plato - Dialogues

Plato - Dialogues

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The Dialogues of Plato 

The Dialogues of Plato were compiled by the Socratic Method Research Portal at www.socraticmethod.net from texts provided by the Project Guttenberg Collection. The full Guttenberg license to distribute these texts is at the end of this file. This PDF file has no security so that any portion of the text may be exported into other applications. The purpose of this file is to provide the ability to do text searches on all the dialogues of Plato at once. It is recommended that you upgrade to the latest PDF player. All the Platonic dialogues in this file are translated by Benjamin Jowett and are in the public domain. The use and distribution of this file is subject to the full Project Guttenberg license.


The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Apology, by Plato This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: Apology Also known as "The Death of Socrates" Author: Plato Translator: Benjamin Jowett Release Date: November 3, 2008 [EBook #1656] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK APOLOGY ***

Produced by Sue Asscher, and David Widger

By Plato
Translated by Benjamin Jowett


The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

In what relation the Apology of Plato stands to the real defence of Socrates, there are no means of determining. It certainly agrees in tone and character with the description of Xenophon, who says in the Memorabilia that Socrates might have been acquitted 'if in any moderate degree he would have conciliated the favour of the dicasts;' and who informs us in another passage, on the testimony of Hermogenes, the friend of Socrates, that he had no wish to live; and that the divine sign refused to allow him to prepare a defence, and also that Socrates himself declared this to be unnecessary, on the ground that all his life long he had been preparing against that hour. For the speech breathes throughout a spirit of defiance, (ut non supplex aut reus sed magister aut dominus videretur esse judicum', Cic. de Orat.); and the loose and desultory style is an imitation of the 'accustomed manner' in which Socrates spoke in 'the agora and among the tables of the money-changers.' The allusion in the Crito may, perhaps, be adduced as a further evidence of the literal accuracy of some parts. But in the main it must be regarded as the ideal of Socrates, according to Plato's conception of him, appearing in the greatest and most public scene of his life, and in the height of his triumph, when he is weakest, and yet his mastery over mankind is greatest, and his habitual irony acquires a new meaning and a sort of tragic pathos in the face of death. The facts of his life are summed up, and the features of his character are brought out as if by accident in the course of the defence. The conversational manner, the seeming want of arrangement, the ironical simplicity, are found to result in a perfect work of art, which is the portrait of Socrates. Yet some of the topics may have been actually used by Socrates; and the recollection of his very words may have rung in the ears of his disciple. The Apology of Plato may be compared generally with those speeches of Thucydides in which he has embodied his conception of the lofty character and policy of the great Pericles, and which at the same time furnish a commentary on the situation of affairs from the point of view of the historian. So in the Apology there is an ideal rather than a literal truth; much is said which was not said, and is only Plato's view of the situation. Plato was not, like Xenophon, a chronicler of facts; he does not appear in any of his writings to have aimed at literal accuracy. He is not therefore to be supplemented from the Memorabilia and Symposium of Xenophon, who belongs to an entirely different class of writers. The Apology of Plato is not the report of what Socrates said, but an elaborate composition, quite as much so in fact as one of the Dialogues. And we may perhaps even indulge in the fancy that the actual defence of Socrates was as much greater than the Platonic defence as the master was greater than the disciple. But in any case, some of the words used by him must have been remembered, and some of the facts recorded must have actually occurred. It is significant that Plato is said to have been present at the defence (Apol.), as he is also said to have been absent at the last scene in the Phaedo. Is it fanciful to suppose that he meant to give the stamp of authenticity to the one and not to the other?—especially when we consider that these two passages are the only ones in which Plato makes mention of himself. The circumstance that Plato was to be one of his sureties for the payment of the fine which he proposed has the appearance of truth. More suspicious is the statement that Socrates received the first impulse to his favourite calling of cross-examining the world from the Oracle of Delphi; for he must already have been famous before Chaerephon went to consult the Oracle (Riddell), and the story is of a kind which is very likely to have been invented. On the whole we arrive at the conclusion that the Apology is true to the character of Socrates, but we cannot show that any single sentence in it was actually spoken by him. It breathes the spirit of Socrates, but has been cast anew in the mould of Plato.

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

There is not much in the other Dialogues which can be compared with the Apology. The same recollection of his master may have been present to the mind of Plato when depicting the sufferings of the Just in the Republic. The Crito may also be regarded as a sort of appendage to the Apology, in which Socrates, who has defied the judges, is nevertheless represented as scrupulously obedient to the laws. The idealization of the sufferer is carried still further in the Gorgias, in which the thesis is maintained, that 'to suffer is better than to do evil;' and the art of rhetoric is described as only useful for the purpose of self-accusation. The parallelisms which occur in the so-called Apology of Xenophon are not worth noticing, because the writing in which they are contained is manifestly spurious. The statements of the Memorabilia respecting the trial and death of Socrates agree generally with Plato; but they have lost the flavour of Socratic irony in the narrative of Xenophon. The Apology or Platonic defence of Socrates is divided into three parts: 1st. The defence properly so called; 2nd. The shorter address in mitigation of the penalty; 3rd. The last words of prophetic rebuke and exhortation. The first part commences with an apology for his colloquial style; he is, as he has always been, the enemy of rhetoric, and knows of no rhetoric but truth; he will not falsify his character by making a speech. Then he proceeds to divide his accusers into two classes; first, there is the nameless accuser—public opinion. All the world from their earliest years had heard that he was a corrupter of youth, and had seen him caricatured in the Clouds of Aristophanes. Secondly, there are the professed accusers, who are but the mouth-piece of the others. The accusations of both might be summed up in a formula. The first say, 'Socrates is an evil-doer and a curious person, searching into things under the earth and above the heaven; and making the worse appear the better cause, and teaching all this to others.' The second, 'Socrates is an evil-doer and corrupter of the youth, who does not receive the gods whom the state receives, but introduces other new divinities.' These last words appear to have been the actual indictment (compare Xen. Mem.); and the previous formula, which is a summary of public opinion, assumes the same legal style. The answer begins by clearing up a confusion. In the representations of the Comic poets, and in the opinion of the multitude, he had been identified with the teachers of physical science and with the Sophists. But this was an error. For both of them he professes a respect in the open court, which contrasts with his manner of speaking about them in other places. (Compare for Anaxagoras, Phaedo, Laws; for the Sophists, Meno, Republic, Tim., Theaet., Soph., etc.) But at the same time he shows that he is not one of them. Of natural philosophy he knows nothing; not that he despises such pursuits, but the fact is that he is ignorant of them, and never says a word about them. Nor is he paid for giving instruction—that is another mistaken notion:—he has nothing to teach. But he commends Evenus for teaching virtue at such a 'moderate' rate as five minae. Something of the 'accustomed irony,' which may perhaps be expected to sleep in the ear of the multitude, is lurking here. He then goes on to explain the reason why he is in such an evil name. That had arisen out of a peculiar mission which he had taken upon himself. The enthusiastic Chaerephon (probably in anticipation of the answer which he received) had gone to Delphi and asked the oracle if there was any man wiser than Socrates; and the answer was, that there was no man wiser. What could be the meaning of this—that he who knew nothing, and knew that he knew nothing, should be declared by the oracle to be the wisest of men? Reflecting upon the answer, he determined to refute it by finding 'a wiser;' and first he went to the politicians, and then to the poets, and then to the craftsmen, but

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

always with the same result—he found that they knew nothing, or hardly anything more than himself; and that the little advantage which in some cases they possessed was more than counter-balanced by their conceit of knowledge. He knew nothing, and knew that he knew nothing: they knew little or nothing, and imagined that they knew all things. Thus he had passed his life as a sort of missionary in detecting the pretended wisdom of mankind; and this occupation had quite absorbed him and taken him away both from public and private affairs. Young men of the richer sort had made a pastime of the same pursuit, 'which was not unamusing.' And hence bitter enmities had arisen; the professors of knowledge had revenged themselves by calling him a villainous corrupter of youth, and by repeating the commonplaces about atheism and materialism and sophistry, which are the stock-accusations against all philosophers when there is nothing else to be said of them. The second accusation he meets by interrogating Meletus, who is present and can be interrogated. 'If he is the corrupter, who is the improver of the citizens?' (Compare Meno.) 'All men everywhere.' But how absurd, how contrary to analogy is this! How inconceivable too, that he should make the citizens worse when he has to live with them. This surely cannot be intentional; and if unintentional, he ought to have been instructed by Meletus, and not accused in the court. But there is another part of the indictment which says that he teaches men not to receive the gods whom the city receives, and has other new gods. 'Is that the way in which he is supposed to corrupt the youth?' 'Yes, it is.' 'Has he only new gods, or none at all?' 'None at all.' 'What, not even the sun and moon?' 'No; why, he says that the sun is a stone, and the moon earth.' That, replies Socrates, is the old confusion about Anaxagoras; the Athenian people are not so ignorant as to attribute to the influence of Socrates notions which have found their way into the drama, and may be learned at the theatre. Socrates undertakes to show that Meletus (rather unjustifiably) has been compounding a riddle in this part of the indictment: 'There are no gods, but Socrates believes in the existence of the sons of gods, which is absurd.' Leaving Meletus, who has had enough words spent upon him, he returns to the original accusation. The question may be asked, Why will he persist in following a profession which leads him to death? Why?—because he must remain at his post where the god has placed him, as he remained at Potidaea, and Amphipolis, and Delium, where the generals placed him. Besides, he is not so overwise as to imagine that he knows whether death is a good or an evil; and he is certain that desertion of his duty is an evil. Anytus is quite right in saying that they should never have indicted him if they meant to let him go. For he will certainly obey God rather than man; and will continue to preach to all men of all ages the necessity of virtue and improvement; and if they refuse to listen to him he will still persevere and reprove them. This is his way of corrupting the youth, which he will not cease to follow in obedience to the god, even if a thousand deaths await him. He is desirous that they should let him live—not for his own sake, but for theirs; because he is their heaven-sent friend (and they will never have such another), or, as he may be ludicrously described, he is the gadfly who stirs the generous steed into motion. Why then has he never taken part in public affairs? Because the familiar divine voice has hindered him; if he had been a public man, and had fought for the right, as he would certainly have fought against the many, he would not have lived, and could therefore have done no good. Twice in public matters he has risked his life for the sake of justice—once at the trial of the generals; and again in resistance to the tyrannical commands of the Thirty.

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

But, though not a public man, he has passed his days in instructing the citizens without fee or reward—this was his mission. Whether his disciples have turned out well or ill, he cannot justly be charged with the result, for he never promised to teach them anything. They might come if they liked, and they might stay away if they liked: and they did come, because they found an amusement in hearing the pretenders to wisdom detected. If they have been corrupted, their elder relatives (if not themselves) might surely come into court and witness against him, and there is an opportunity still for them to appear. But their fathers and brothers all appear in court (including 'this' Plato), to witness on his behalf; and if their relatives are corrupted, at least they are uncorrupted; 'and they are my witnesses. For they know that I am speaking the truth, and that Meletus is lying.' This is about all that he has to say. He will not entreat the judges to spare his life; neither will he present a spectacle of weeping children, although he, too, is not made of 'rock or oak.' Some of the judges themselves may have complied with this practice on similar occasions, and he trusts that they will not be angry with him for not following their example. But he feels that such conduct brings discredit on the name of Athens: he feels too, that the judge has sworn not to give away justice; and he cannot be guilty of the impiety of asking the judge to break his oath, when he is himself being tried for impiety. As he expected, and probably intended, he is convicted. And now the tone of the speech, instead of being more conciliatory, becomes more lofty and commanding. Anytus proposes death as the penalty: and what counter-proposition shall he make? He, the benefactor of the Athenian people, whose whole life has been spent in doing them good, should at least have the Olympic victor's reward of maintenance in the Prytaneum. Or why should he propose any counter-penalty when he does not know whether death, which Anytus proposes, is a good or an evil? And he is certain that imprisonment is an evil, exile is an evil. Loss of money might be an evil, but then he has none to give; perhaps he can make up a mina. Let that be the penalty, or, if his friends wish, thirty minae; for which they will be excellent securities. (He is condemned to death.) He is an old man already, and the Athenians will gain nothing but disgrace by depriving him of a few years of life. Perhaps he could have escaped, if he had chosen to throw down his arms and entreat for his life. But he does not at all repent of the manner of his defence; he would rather die in his own fashion than live in theirs. For the penalty of unrighteousness is swifter than death; that penalty has already overtaken his accusers as death will soon overtake him. And now, as one who is about to die, he will prophesy to them. They have put him to death in order to escape the necessity of giving an account of their lives. But his death 'will be the seed' of many disciples who will convince them of their evil ways, and will come forth to reprove them in harsher terms, because they are younger and more inconsiderate. He would like to say a few words, while there is time, to those who would have acquitted him. He wishes them to know that the divine sign never interrupted him in the course of his defence; the reason of which, as he conjectures, is that the death to which he is going is a good and not an evil. For either death is a long sleep, the best of sleeps, or a journey to another world in which the souls of the dead are gathered together, and in which there may be a hope of seeing the heroes of old—in

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

which, too, there are just judges; and as all are immortal, there can be no fear of any one suffering death for his opinions. Nothing evil can happen to the good man either in life or death, and his own death has been permitted by the gods, because it was better for him to depart; and therefore he forgives his judges because they have done him no harm, although they never meant to do him any good. He has a last request to make to them—that they will trouble his sons as he has troubled them, if they appear to prefer riches to virtue, or to think themselves something when they are nothing.

'Few persons will be found to wish that Socrates should have defended himself otherwise,'—if, as we must add, his defence was that with which Plato has provided him. But leaving this question, which does not admit of a precise solution, we may go on to ask what was the impression which Plato in the Apology intended to give of the character and conduct of his master in the last great scene? Did he intend to represent him (1) as employing sophistries; (2) as designedly irritating the judges? Or are these sophistries to be regarded as belonging to the age in which he lived and to his personal character, and this apparent haughtiness as flowing from the natural elevation of his position? For example, when he says that it is absurd to suppose that one man is the corrupter and all the rest of the world the improvers of the youth; or, when he argues that he never could have corrupted the men with whom he had to live; or, when he proves his belief in the gods because he believes in the sons of gods, is he serious or jesting? It may be observed that these sophisms all occur in his crossexamination of Meletus, who is easily foiled and mastered in the hands of the great dialectician. Perhaps he regarded these answers as good enough for his accuser, of whom he makes very light. Also there is a touch of irony in them, which takes them out of the category of sophistry. (Compare Euthyph.) That the manner in which he defends himself about the lives of his disciples is not satisfactory, can hardly be denied. Fresh in the memory of the Athenians, and detestable as they deserved to be to the newly restored democracy, were the names of Alcibiades, Critias, Charmides. It is obviously not a sufficient answer that Socrates had never professed to teach them anything, and is therefore not justly chargeable with their crimes. Yet the defence, when taken out of this ironical form, is doubtless sound: that his teaching had nothing to do with their evil lives. Here, then, the sophistry is rather in form than in substance, though we might desire that to such a serious charge Socrates had given a more serious answer. Truly characteristic of Socrates is another point in his answer, which may also be regarded as sophistical. He says that 'if he has corrupted the youth, he must have corrupted them involuntarily.' But if, as Socrates argues, all evil is involuntary, then all criminals ought to be admonished and not punished. In these words the Socratic doctrine of the involuntariness of evil is clearly intended to be conveyed. Here again, as in the former instance, the defence of Socrates is untrue practically, but may be true in some ideal or transcendental sense. The commonplace reply, that if he had been guilty of corrupting the youth their relations would surely have witnessed against him, with which he concludes this part of his defence, is more satisfactory.

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

Again, when Socrates argues that he must believe in the gods because he believes in the sons of gods, we must remember that this is a refutation not of the original indictment, which is consistent enough—'Socrates does not receive the gods whom the city receives, and has other new divinities'— but of the interpretation put upon the words by Meletus, who has affirmed that he is a downright atheist. To this Socrates fairly answers, in accordance with the ideas of the time, that a downright atheist cannot believe in the sons of gods or in divine things. The notion that demons or lesser divinities are the sons of gods is not to be regarded as ironical or sceptical. He is arguing 'ad hominem' according to the notions of mythology current in his age. Yet he abstains from saying that he believed in the gods whom the State approved. He does not defend himself, as Xenophon has defended him, by appealing to his practice of religion. Probably he neither wholly believed, nor disbelieved, in the existence of the popular gods; he had no means of knowing about them. According to Plato (compare Phaedo; Symp.), as well as Xenophon (Memor.), he was punctual in the performance of the least religious duties; and he must have believed in his own oracular sign, of which he seemed to have an internal witness. But the existence of Apollo or Zeus, or the other gods whom the State approves, would have appeared to him both uncertain and unimportant in comparison of the duty of self-examination, and of those principles of truth and right which he deemed to be the foundation of religion. (Compare Phaedr.; Euthyph.; Republic.) The second question, whether Plato meant to represent Socrates as braving or irritating his judges, must also be answered in the negative. His irony, his superiority, his audacity, 'regarding not the person of man,' necessarily flow out of the loftiness of his situation. He is not acting a part upon a great occasion, but he is what he has been all his life long, 'a king of men.' He would rather not appear insolent, if he could avoid it (ouch os authadizomenos touto lego). Neither is he desirous of hastening his own end, for life and death are simply indifferent to him. But such a defence as would be acceptable to his judges and might procure an acquittal, it is not in his nature to make. He will not say or do anything that might pervert the course of justice; he cannot have his tongue bound even 'in the throat of death.' With his accusers he will only fence and play, as he had fenced with other 'improvers of youth,' answering the Sophist according to his sophistry all his life long. He is serious when he is speaking of his own mission, which seems to distinguish him from all other reformers of mankind, and originates in an accident. The dedication of himself to the improvement of his fellowcitizens is not so remarkable as the ironical spirit in which he goes about doing good only in vindication of the credit of the oracle, and in the vain hope of finding a wiser man than himself. Yet this singular and almost accidental character of his mission agrees with the divine sign which, according to our notions, is equally accidental and irrational, and is nevertheless accepted by him as the guiding principle of his life. Socrates is nowhere represented to us as a freethinker or sceptic. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity when he speculates on the possibility of seeing and knowing the heroes of the Trojan war in another world. On the other hand, his hope of immortality is uncertain;—he also conceives of death as a long sleep (in this respect differing from the Phaedo), and at last falls back on resignation to the divine will, and the certainty that no evil can happen to the good man either in life or death. His absolute truthfulness seems to hinder him from asserting positively more than this; and he makes no attempt to veil his ignorance in mythology and figures of speech. The gentleness of the first part of the speech contrasts with the aggravated, almost threatening, tone of the conclusion. He characteristically remarks that he will not speak as a rhetorician, that is to say, he will not make a regular defence such as Lysias or one of the orators might have composed for him, or, according to some accounts, did compose for him. But he first procures himself a hearing by conciliatory words. He does not attack the Sophists; for they were open

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

to the same charges as himself; they were equally ridiculed by the Comic poets, and almost equally hateful to Anytus and Meletus. Yet incidentally the antagonism between Socrates and the Sophists is allowed to appear. He is poor and they are rich; his profession that he teaches nothing is opposed to their readiness to teach all things; his talking in the marketplace to their private instructions; his tarryat-home life to their wandering from city to city. The tone which he assumes towards them is one of real friendliness, but also of concealed irony. Towards Anaxagoras, who had disappointed him in his hopes of learning about mind and nature, he shows a less kindly feeling, which is also the feeling of Plato in other passages (Laws). But Anaxagoras had been dead thirty years, and was beyond the reach of persecution. It has been remarked that the prophecy of a new generation of teachers who would rebuke and exhort the Athenian people in harsher and more violent terms was, as far as we know, never fulfilled. No inference can be drawn from this circumstance as to the probability of the words attributed to him having been actually uttered. They express the aspiration of the first martyr of philosophy, that he would leave behind him many followers, accompanied by the not unnatural feeling that they would be fiercer and more inconsiderate in their words when emancipated from his control. The above remarks must be understood as applying with any degree of certainty to the Platonic Socrates only. For, although these or similar words may have been spoken by Socrates himself, we cannot exclude the possibility, that like so much else, e.g. the wisdom of Critias, the poem of Solon, the virtues of Charmides, they may have been due only to the imagination of Plato. The arguments of those who maintain that the Apology was composed during the process, resting on no evidence, do not require a serious refutation. Nor are the reasonings of Schleiermacher, who argues that the Platonic defence is an exact or nearly exact reproduction of the words of Socrates, partly because Plato would not have been guilty of the impiety of altering them, and also because many points of the defence might have been improved and strengthened, at all more conclusive. (See English Translation.) What effect the death of Socrates produced on the mind of Plato, we cannot certainly determine; nor can we say how he would or must have written under the circumstances. We observe that the enmity of Aristophanes to Socrates does not prevent Plato from introducing them together in the Symposium engaged in friendly intercourse. Nor is there any trace in the Dialogues of an attempt to make Anytus or Meletus personally odious in the eyes of the Athenian public.

How you, O Athenians, have been affected by my accusers, I cannot tell; but I know that they almost made me forget who I was—so persuasively did they speak; and yet they have hardly uttered a word of truth. But of the many falsehoods told by them, there was one which quite amazed me;—I mean when they said that you should be upon your guard and not allow yourselves to be deceived by the force of my eloquence. To say this, when they were certain to be detected as soon as I opened my lips and proved myself to be anything but a great speaker, did indeed appear to me most shameless—unless by the force of eloquence they mean the force of truth; for is such is their meaning, I admit that I am eloquent. But in how different a way from theirs! Well, as I was saying,

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

they have scarcely spoken the truth at all; but from me you shall hear the whole truth: not, however, delivered after their manner in a set oration duly ornamented with words and phrases. No, by heaven! but I shall use the words and arguments which occur to me at the moment; for I am confident in the justice of my cause (Or, I am certain that I am right in taking this course.): at my time of life I ought not to be appearing before you, O men of Athens, in the character of a juvenile orator—let no one expect it of me. And I must beg of you to grant me a favour:—If I defend myself in my accustomed manner, and you hear me using the words which I have been in the habit of using in the agora, at the tables of the money-changers, or anywhere else, I would ask you not to be surprised, and not to interrupt me on this account. For I am more than seventy years of age, and appearing now for the first time in a court of law, I am quite a stranger to the language of the place; and therefore I would have you regard me as if I were really a stranger, whom you would excuse if he spoke in his native tongue, and after the fashion of his country:—Am I making an unfair request of you? Never mind the manner, which may or may not be good; but think only of the truth of my words, and give heed to that: let the speaker speak truly and the judge decide justly. And first, I have to reply to the older charges and to my first accusers, and then I will go on to the later ones. For of old I have had many accusers, who have accused me falsely to you during many years; and I am more afraid of them than of Anytus and his associates, who are dangerous, too, in their own way. But far more dangerous are the others, who began when you were children, and took possession of your minds with their falsehoods, telling of one Socrates, a wise man, who speculated about the heaven above, and searched into the earth beneath, and made the worse appear the better cause. The disseminators of this tale are the accusers whom I dread; for their hearers are apt to fancy that such enquirers do not believe in the existence of the gods. And they are many, and their charges against me are of ancient date, and they were made by them in the days when you were more impressible than you are now—in childhood, or it may have been in youth—and the cause when heard went by default, for there was none to answer. And hardest of all, I do not know and cannot tell the names of my accusers; unless in the chance case of a Comic poet. All who from envy and malice have persuaded you—some of them having first convinced themselves—all this class of men are most difficult to deal with; for I cannot have them up here, and cross-examine them, and therefore I must simply fight with shadows in my own defence, and argue when there is no one who answers. I will ask you then to assume with me, as I was saying, that my opponents are of two kinds; one recent, the other ancient: and I hope that you will see the propriety of my answering the latter first, for these accusations you heard long before the others, and much oftener. Well, then, I must make my defence, and endeavour to clear away in a short time, a slander which has lasted a long time. May I succeed, if to succeed be for my good and yours, or likely to avail me in my cause! The task is not an easy one; I quite understand the nature of it. And so leaving the event with God, in obedience to the law I will now make my defence. I will begin at the beginning, and ask what is the accusation which has given rise to the slander of me, and in fact has encouraged Meletus to proof this charge against me. Well, what do the slanderers say? They shall be my prosecutors, and I will sum up their words in an affidavit: 'Socrates is an evildoer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others.' Such is the nature of the accusation: it is just what you have yourselves seen in the comedy of Aristophanes (Aristoph., Clouds.), who has introduced a man whom he calls Socrates, going about and saying that

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

he walks in air, and talking a deal of nonsense concerning matters of which I do not pretend to know either much or little—not that I mean to speak disparagingly of any one who is a student of natural philosophy. I should be very sorry if Meletus could bring so grave a charge against me. But the simple truth is, O Athenians, that I have nothing to do with physical speculations. Very many of those here present are witnesses to the truth of this, and to them I appeal. Speak then, you who have heard me, and tell your neighbours whether any of you have ever known me hold forth in few words or in many upon such matters...You hear their answer. And from what they say of this part of the charge you will be able to judge of the truth of the rest. As little foundation is there for the report that I am a teacher, and take money; this accusation has no more truth in it than the other. Although, if a man were really able to instruct mankind, to receive money for giving instruction would, in my opinion, be an honour to him. There is Gorgias of Leontium, and Prodicus of Ceos, and Hippias of Elis, who go the round of the cities, and are able to persuade the young men to leave their own citizens by whom they might be taught for nothing, and come to them whom they not only pay, but are thankful if they may be allowed to pay them. There is at this time a Parian philosopher residing in Athens, of whom I have heard; and I came to hear of him in this way:—I came across a man who has spent a world of money on the Sophists, Callias, the son of Hipponicus, and knowing that he had sons, I asked him: 'Callias,' I said, 'if your two sons were foals or calves, there would be no difficulty in finding some one to put over them; we should hire a trainer of horses, or a farmer probably, who would improve and perfect them in their own proper virtue and excellence; but as they are human beings, whom are you thinking of placing over them? Is there any one who understands human and political virtue? You must have thought about the matter, for you have sons; is there any one?' 'There is,' he said. 'Who is he?' said I; 'and of what country? and what does he charge?' 'Evenus the Parian,' he replied; 'he is the man, and his charge is five minae.' Happy is Evenus, I said to myself, if he really has this wisdom, and teaches at such a moderate charge. Had I the same, I should have been very proud and conceited; but the truth is that I have no knowledge of the kind. I dare say, Athenians, that some one among you will reply, 'Yes, Socrates, but what is the origin of these accusations which are brought against you; there must have been something strange which you have been doing? All these rumours and this talk about you would never have arisen if you had been like other men: tell us, then, what is the cause of them, for we should be sorry to judge hastily of you.' Now I regard this as a fair challenge, and I will endeavour to explain to you the reason why I am called wise and have such an evil fame. Please to attend then. And although some of you may think that I am joking, I declare that I will tell you the entire truth. Men of Athens, this reputation of mine has come of a certain sort of wisdom which I possess. If you ask me what kind of wisdom, I reply, wisdom such as may perhaps be attained by man, for to that extent I am inclined to believe that I am wise; whereas the persons of whom I was speaking have a superhuman wisdom which I may fail to describe, because I have it not myself; and he who says that I have, speaks falsely, and is taking away my character. And here, O men of Athens, I must beg you not to interrupt me, even if I seem to say something extravagant. For the word which I will speak is not mine. I will refer you to a witness who is worthy of credit; that witness shall be the God of Delphi—he will tell you about my wisdom, if I have any, and of what sort it is. You must have known Chaerephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend of yours, for he shared in the recent exile of the people, and returned with you. Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi and boldly asked the oracle to tell him whether—as I was saying, I must beg you not to interrupt—he asked the

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

oracle to tell him whether anyone was wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered, that there was no man wiser. Chaerephon is dead himself; but his brother, who is in court, will confirm the truth of what I am saying. Why do I mention this? Because I am going to explain to you why I have such an evil name. When I heard the answer, I said to myself, What can the god mean? and what is the interpretation of his riddle? for I know that I have no wisdom, small or great. What then can he mean when he says that I am the wisest of men? And yet he is a god, and cannot lie; that would be against his nature. After long consideration, I thought of a method of trying the question. I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser than myself, then I might go to the god with a refutation in my hand. I should say to him, 'Here is a man who is wiser than I am; but you said that I was the wisest.' Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed him—his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination—and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and still wiser by himself; and thereupon I tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is,—for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. Then I went to another who had still higher pretensions to wisdom, and my conclusion was exactly the same. Whereupon I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him. Then I went to one man after another, being not unconscious of the enmity which I provoked, and I lamented and feared this: but necessity was laid upon me,—the word of God, I thought, ought to be considered first. And I said to myself, Go I must to all who appear to know, and find out the meaning of the oracle. And I swear to you, Athenians, by the dog I swear!—for I must tell you the truth—the result of my mission was just this: I found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that others less esteemed were really wiser and better. I will tell you the tale of my wanderings and of the 'Herculean' labours, as I may call them, which I endured only to find at last the oracle irrefutable. After the politicians, I went to the poets; tragic, dithyrambic, and all sorts. And there, I said to myself, you will be instantly detected; now you will find out that you are more ignorant than they are. Accordingly, I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what was the meaning of them—thinking that they would teach me something. Will you believe me? I am almost ashamed to confess the truth, but I must say that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked better about their poetry than they did themselves. Then I knew that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them. The poets appeared to me to be much in the same case; and I further observed that upon the strength of their poetry they believed themselves to be the wisest of men in other things in which they were not wise. So I departed, conceiving myself to be superior to them for the same reason that I was superior to the politicians. At last I went to the artisans. I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and here I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

artisans fell into the same error as the poets;—because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom; and therefore I asked myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself and to the oracle that I was better off as I was. This inquisition has led to my having many enemies of the worst and most dangerous kind, and has given occasion also to many calumnies. And I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and by his answer he intends to show that the wisdom of men is worth little or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name by way of illustration, as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. And so I go about the world, obedient to the god, and search and make enquiry into the wisdom of any one, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the oracle I show him that he is not wise; and my occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god. There is another thing:—young men of the richer classes, who have not much to do, come about me of their own accord; they like to hear the pretenders examined, and they often imitate me, and proceed to examine others; there are plenty of persons, as they quickly discover, who think that they know something, but really know little or nothing; and then those who are examined by them instead of being angry with themselves are angry with me: This confounded Socrates, they say; this villainous misleader of youth!—and then if somebody asks them, Why, what evil does he practise or teach? they do not know, and cannot tell; but in order that they may not appear to be at a loss, they repeat the ready-made charges which are used against all philosophers about teaching things up in the clouds and under the earth, and having no gods, and making the worse appear the better cause; for they do not like to confess that their pretence of knowledge has been detected—which is the truth; and as they are numerous and ambitious and energetic, and are drawn up in battle array and have persuasive tongues, they have filled your ears with their loud and inveterate calumnies. And this is the reason why my three accusers, Meletus and Anytus and Lycon, have set upon me; Meletus, who has a quarrel with me on behalf of the poets; Anytus, on behalf of the craftsmen and politicians; Lycon, on behalf of the rhetoricians: and as I said at the beginning, I cannot expect to get rid of such a mass of calumny all in a moment. And this, O men of Athens, is the truth and the whole truth; I have concealed nothing, I have dissembled nothing. And yet, I know that my plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but a proof that I am speaking the truth?—Hence has arisen the prejudice against me; and this is the reason of it, as you will find out either in this or in any future enquiry. I have said enough in my defence against the first class of my accusers; I turn to the second class. They are headed by Meletus, that good man and true lover of his country, as he calls himself. Against these, too, I must try to make a defence:—Let their affidavit be read: it contains something of this kind: It says that Socrates is a doer of evil, who corrupts the youth; and who does not believe in the gods of the state, but has other new divinities of his own. Such is the charge; and now let us examine the particular counts. He says that I am a doer of evil, and corrupt the youth; but I say, O men of Athens, that Meletus is a doer of evil, in that he pretends to be in earnest when he is only in jest, and

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

is so eager to bring men to trial from a pretended zeal and interest about matters in which he really never had the smallest interest. And the truth of this I will endeavour to prove to you. Come hither, Meletus, and let me ask a question of you. You think a great deal about the improvement of youth? Yes, I do. Tell the judges, then, who is their improver; for you must know, as you have taken the pains to discover their corrupter, and are citing and accusing me before them. Speak, then, and tell the judges who their improver is.—Observe, Meletus, that you are silent, and have nothing to say. But is not this rather disgraceful, and a very considerable proof of what I was saying, that you have no interest in the matter? Speak up, friend, and tell us who their improver is. The laws. But that, my good sir, is not my meaning. I want to know who the person is, who, in the first place, knows the laws. The judges, Socrates, who are present in court. What, do you mean to say, Meletus, that they are able to instruct and improve youth? Certainly they are. What, all of them, or some only and not others? All of them. By the goddess Here, that is good news! There are plenty of improvers, then. And what do you say of the audience,—do they improve them? Yes, they do. And the senators? Yes, the senators improve them. But perhaps the members of the assembly corrupt them?—or do they too improve them? They improve them. Then every Athenian improves and elevates them; all with the exception of myself; and I alone am their corrupter? Is that what you affirm? That is what I stoutly affirm.

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

I am very unfortunate if you are right. But suppose I ask you a question: How about horses? Does one man do them harm and all the world good? Is not the exact opposite the truth? One man is able to do them good, or at least not many;—the trainer of horses, that is to say, does them good, and others who have to do with them rather injure them? Is not that true, Meletus, of horses, or of any other animals? Most assuredly it is; whether you and Anytus say yes or no. Happy indeed would be the condition of youth if they had one corrupter only, and all the rest of the world were their improvers. But you, Meletus, have sufficiently shown that you never had a thought about the young: your carelessness is seen in your not caring about the very things which you bring against me. And now, Meletus, I will ask you another question—by Zeus I will: Which is better, to live among bad citizens, or among good ones? Answer, friend, I say; the question is one which may be easily answered. Do not the good do their neighbours good, and the bad do them evil? Certainly. And is there anyone who would rather be injured than benefited by those who live with him? Answer, my good friend, the law requires you to answer—does any one like to be injured? Certainly not. And when you accuse me of corrupting and deteriorating the youth, do you allege that I corrupt them intentionally or unintentionally? Intentionally, I say. But you have just admitted that the good do their neighbours good, and the evil do them evil. Now, is that a truth which your superior wisdom has recognized thus early in life, and am I, at my age, in such darkness and ignorance as not to know that if a man with whom I have to live is corrupted by me, I am very likely to be harmed by him; and yet I corrupt him, and intentionally, too—so you say, although neither I nor any other human being is ever likely to be convinced by you. But either I do not corrupt them, or I corrupt them unintentionally; and on either view of the case you lie. If my offence is unintentional, the law has no cognizance of unintentional offences: you ought to have taken me privately, and warned and admonished me; for if I had been better advised, I should have left off doing what I only did unintentionally—no doubt I should; but you would have nothing to say to me and refused to teach me. And now you bring me up in this court, which is a place not of instruction, but of punishment. It will be very clear to you, Athenians, as I was saying, that Meletus has no care at all, great or small, about the matter. But still I should like to know, Meletus, in what I am affirmed to corrupt the young. I suppose you mean, as I infer from your indictment, that I teach them not to acknowledge the gods which the state acknowledges, but some other new divinities or spiritual agencies in their stead. These are the lessons by which I corrupt the youth, as you say. Yes, that I say emphatically.


The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

Then, by the gods, Meletus, of whom we are speaking, tell me and the court, in somewhat plainer terms, what you mean! for I do not as yet understand whether you affirm that I teach other men to acknowledge some gods, and therefore that I do believe in gods, and am not an entire atheist—this you do not lay to my charge,—but only you say that they are not the same gods which the city recognizes—the charge is that they are different gods. Or, do you mean that I am an atheist simply, and a teacher of atheism? I mean the latter—that you are a complete atheist. What an extraordinary statement! Why do you think so, Meletus? Do you mean that I do not believe in the godhead of the sun or moon, like other men? I assure you, judges, that he does not: for he says that the sun is stone, and the moon earth. Friend Meletus, you think that you are accusing Anaxagoras: and you have but a bad opinion of the judges, if you fancy them illiterate to such a degree as not to know that these doctrines are found in the books of Anaxagoras the Clazomenian, which are full of them. And so, forsooth, the youth are said to be taught them by Socrates, when there are not unfrequently exhibitions of them at the theatre (Probably in allusion to Aristophanes who caricatured, and to Euripides who borrowed the notions of Anaxagoras, as well as to other dramatic poets.) (price of admission one drachma at the most); and they might pay their money, and laugh at Socrates if he pretends to father these extraordinary views. And so, Meletus, you really think that I do not believe in any god? I swear by Zeus that you believe absolutely in none at all. Nobody will believe you, Meletus, and I am pretty sure that you do not believe yourself. I cannot help thinking, men of Athens, that Meletus is reckless and impudent, and that he has written this indictment in a spirit of mere wantonness and youthful bravado. Has he not compounded a riddle, thinking to try me? He said to himself:—I shall see whether the wise Socrates will discover my facetious contradiction, or whether I shall be able to deceive him and the rest of them. For he certainly does appear to me to contradict himself in the indictment as much as if he said that Socrates is guilty of not believing in the gods, and yet of believing in them—but this is not like a person who is in earnest. I should like you, O men of Athens, to join me in examining what I conceive to be his inconsistency; and do you, Meletus, answer. And I must remind the audience of my request that they would not make a disturbance if I speak in my accustomed manner: Did ever man, Meletus, believe in the existence of human things, and not of human beings?...I wish, men of Athens, that he would answer, and not be always trying to get up an interruption. Did ever any man believe in horsemanship, and not in horses? or in flute-playing, and not in flute-players? No, my friend; I will answer to you and to the court, as you refuse to answer for yourself. There is no man who ever did. But now please to answer the next question: Can a man believe in spiritual and divine agencies, and not in spirits or demigods? He cannot.

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

How lucky I am to have extracted that answer, by the assistance of the court! But then you swear in the indictment that I teach and believe in divine or spiritual agencies (new or old, no matter for that); at any rate, I believe in spiritual agencies,—so you say and swear in the affidavit; and yet if I believe in divine beings, how can I help believing in spirits or demigods;—must I not? To be sure I must; and therefore I may assume that your silence gives consent. Now what are spirits or demigods? Are they not either gods or the sons of gods? Certainly they are. But this is what I call the facetious riddle invented by you: the demigods or spirits are gods, and you say first that I do not believe in gods, and then again that I do believe in gods; that is, if I believe in demigods. For if the demigods are the illegitimate sons of gods, whether by the nymphs or by any other mothers, of whom they are said to be the sons—what human being will ever believe that there are no gods if they are the sons of gods? You might as well affirm the existence of mules, and deny that of horses and asses. Such nonsense, Meletus, could only have been intended by you to make trial of me. You have put this into the indictment because you had nothing real of which to accuse me. But no one who has a particle of understanding will ever be convinced by you that the same men can believe in divine and superhuman things, and yet not believe that there are gods and demigods and heroes. I have said enough in answer to the charge of Meletus: any elaborate defence is unnecessary, but I know only too well how many are the enmities which I have incurred, and this is what will be my destruction if I am destroyed;—not Meletus, nor yet Anytus, but the envy and detraction of the world, which has been the death of many good men, and will probably be the death of many more; there is no danger of my being the last of them. Some one will say: And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life which is likely to bring you to an untimely end? To him I may fairly answer: There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong—acting the part of a good man or of a bad. Whereas, upon your view, the heroes who fell at Troy were not good for much, and the son of Thetis above all, who altogether despised danger in comparison with disgrace; and when he was so eager to slay Hector, his goddess mother said to him, that if he avenged his companion Patroclus, and slew Hector, he would die himself—'Fate,' she said, in these or the like words, 'waits for you next after Hector;' he, receiving this warning, utterly despised danger and death, and instead of fearing them, feared rather to live in dishonour, and not to avenge his friend. 'Let me die forthwith,' he replies, 'and be avenged of my enemy, rather than abide here by the beaked ships, a laughing-stock and a burden of the earth.' Had Achilles any thought of death and danger? For wherever a man's place is, whether the place which he has chosen or that in which he has been placed by a commander, there he ought to remain in the hour of danger; he should not think of death or of anything but of disgrace. And this, O men of Athens, is a true saying. Strange, indeed, would be my conduct, O men of Athens, if I who, when I was ordered by the generals whom you chose to command me at Potidaea and Amphipolis and Delium, remained where they placed me, like any other man, facing death—if now, when, as I conceive and imagine, God orders me to fulfil the philosopher's mission of searching into myself and other men, I were to desert

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

my post through fear of death, or any other fear; that would indeed be strange, and I might justly be arraigned in court for denying the existence of the gods, if I disobeyed the oracle because I was afraid of death, fancying that I was wise when I was not wise. For the fear of death is indeed the pretence of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being a pretence of knowing the unknown; and no one knows whether death, which men in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. Is not this ignorance of a disgraceful sort, the ignorance which is the conceit that a man knows what he does not know? And in this respect only I believe myself to differ from men in general, and may perhaps claim to be wiser than they are:—that whereas I know but little of the world below, I do not suppose that I know: but I do know that injustice and disobedience to a better, whether God or man, is evil and dishonourable, and I will never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil. And therefore if you let me go now, and are not convinced by Anytus, who said that since I had been prosecuted I must be put to death; (or if not that I ought never to have been prosecuted at all); and that if I escape now, your sons will all be utterly ruined by listening to my words—if you say to me, Socrates, this time we will not mind Anytus, and you shall be let off, but upon one condition, that you are not to enquire and speculate in this way any more, and that if you are caught doing so again you shall die;—if this was the condition on which you let me go, I should reply: Men of Athens, I honour and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy, exhorting any one whom I meet and saying to him after my manner: You, my friend,—a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens,—are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honour and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? And if the person with whom I am arguing, says: Yes, but I do care; then I do not leave him or let him go at once; but I proceed to interrogate and examine and cross-examine him, and if I think that he has no virtue in him, but only says that he has, I reproach him with undervaluing the greater, and overvaluing the less. And I shall repeat the same words to every one whom I meet, young and old, citizen and alien, but especially to the citizens, inasmuch as they are my brethren. For know that this is the command of God; and I believe that no greater good has ever happened in the state than my service to the God. For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person. But if any one says that this is not my teaching, he is speaking an untruth. Wherefore, O men of Athens, I say to you, do as Anytus bids or not as Anytus bids, and either acquit me or not; but whichever you do, understand that I shall never alter my ways, not even if I have to die many times. Men of Athens, do not interrupt, but hear me; there was an understanding between us that you should hear me to the end: I have something more to say, at which you may be inclined to cry out; but I believe that to hear me will be good for you, and therefore I beg that you will not cry out. I would have you know, that if you kill such an one as I am, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me. Nothing will injure me, not Meletus nor yet Anytus—they cannot, for a bad man is not permitted to injure a better than himself. I do not deny that Anytus may, perhaps, kill him, or drive him into exile, or deprive him of civil rights; and he may imagine, and others may imagine, that he is inflicting a great injury upon him: but there I do not agree. For the evil of doing as he is doing—the evil of unjustly taking away the life of another—is greater far.

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

And now, Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own sake, as you may think, but for yours, that you may not sin against the God by condemning me, who am his gift to you. For if you kill me you will not easily find a successor to me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of gadfly, given to the state by God; and the state is a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. You will not easily find another like me, and therefore I would advise you to spare me. I dare say that you may feel out of temper (like a person who is suddenly awakened from sleep), and you think that you might easily strike me dead as Anytus advises, and then you would sleep on for the remainder of your lives, unless God in his care of you sent you another gadfly. When I say that I am given to you by God, the proof of my mission is this:—if I had been like other men, I should not have neglected all my own concerns or patiently seen the neglect of them during all these years, and have been doing yours, coming to you individually like a father or elder brother, exhorting you to regard virtue; such conduct, I say, would be unlike human nature. If I had gained anything, or if my exhortations had been paid, there would have been some sense in my doing so; but now, as you will perceive, not even the impudence of my accusers dares to say that I have ever exacted or sought pay of any one; of that they have no witness. And I have a sufficient witness to the truth of what I say—my poverty. Some one may wonder why I go about in private giving advice and busying myself with the concerns of others, but do not venture to come forward in public and advise the state. I will tell you why. You have heard me speak at sundry times and in divers places of an oracle or sign which comes to me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment. This sign, which is a kind of voice, first began to come to me when I was a child; it always forbids but never commands me to do anything which I am going to do. This is what deters me from being a politician. And rightly, as I think. For I am certain, O men of Athens, that if I had engaged in politics, I should have perished long ago, and done no good either to you or to myself. And do not be offended at my telling you the truth: for the truth is, that no man who goes to war with you or any other multitude, honestly striving against the many lawless and unrighteous deeds which are done in a state, will save his life; he who will fight for the right, if he would live even for a brief space, must have a private station and not a public one. I can give you convincing evidence of what I say, not words only, but what you value far more— actions. Let me relate to you a passage of my own life which will prove to you that I should never have yielded to injustice from any fear of death, and that 'as I should have refused to yield' I must have died at once. I will tell you a tale of the courts, not very interesting perhaps, but nevertheless true. The only office of state which I ever held, O men of Athens, was that of senator: the tribe Antiochis, which is my tribe, had the presidency at the trial of the generals who had not taken up the bodies of the slain after the battle of Arginusae; and you proposed to try them in a body, contrary to law, as you all thought afterwards; but at the time I was the only one of the Prytanes who was opposed to the illegality, and I gave my vote against you; and when the orators threatened to impeach and arrest me, and you called and shouted, I made up my mind that I would run the risk, having law and justice with me, rather than take part in your injustice because I feared imprisonment and death. This happened in the days of the democracy. But when the oligarchy of the Thirty was in power, they sent for me and four others into the rotunda, and bade us bring Leon the Salaminian from Salamis, as they wanted to put him to death. This was a specimen of the sort of commands which they were always giving with the view of implicating as many as possible in their crimes; and then I

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

showed, not in word only but in deed, that, if I may be allowed to use such an expression, I cared not a straw for death, and that my great and only care was lest I should do an unrighteous or unholy thing. For the strong arm of that oppressive power did not frighten me into doing wrong; and when we came out of the rotunda the other four went to Salamis and fetched Leon, but I went quietly home. For which I might have lost my life, had not the power of the Thirty shortly afterwards come to an end. And many will witness to my words. Now do you really imagine that I could have survived all these years, if I had led a public life, supposing that like a good man I had always maintained the right and had made justice, as I ought, the first thing? No indeed, men of Athens, neither I nor any other man. But I have been always the same in all my actions, public as well as private, and never have I yielded any base compliance to those who are slanderously termed my disciples, or to any other. Not that I have any regular disciples. But if any one likes to come and hear me while I am pursuing my mission, whether he be young or old, he is not excluded. Nor do I converse only with those who pay; but any one, whether he be rich or poor, may ask and answer me and listen to my words; and whether he turns out to be a bad man or a good one, neither result can be justly imputed to me; for I never taught or professed to teach him anything. And if any one says that he has ever learned or heard anything from me in private which all the world has not heard, let me tell you that he is lying. But I shall be asked, Why do people delight in continually conversing with you? I have told you already, Athenians, the whole truth about this matter: they like to hear the cross-examination of the pretenders to wisdom; there is amusement in it. Now this duty of cross-examining other men has been imposed upon me by God; and has been signified to me by oracles, visions, and in every way in which the will of divine power was ever intimated to any one. This is true, O Athenians, or, if not true, would be soon refuted. If I am or have been corrupting the youth, those of them who are now grown up and have become sensible that I gave them bad advice in the days of their youth should come forward as accusers, and take their revenge; or if they do not like to come themselves, some of their relatives, fathers, brothers, or other kinsmen, should say what evil their families have suffered at my hands. Now is their time. Many of them I see in the court. There is Crito, who is of the same age and of the same deme with myself, and there is Critobulus his son, whom I also see. Then again there is Lysanias of Sphettus, who is the father of Aeschines—he is present; and also there is Antiphon of Cephisus, who is the father of Epigenes; and there are the brothers of several who have associated with me. There is Nicostratus the son of Theosdotides, and the brother of Theodotus (now Theodotus himself is dead, and therefore he, at any rate, will not seek to stop him); and there is Paralus the son of Demodocus, who had a brother Theages; and Adeimantus the son of Ariston, whose brother Plato is present; and Aeantodorus, who is the brother of Apollodorus, whom I also see. I might mention a great many others, some of whom Meletus should have produced as witnesses in the course of his speech; and let him still produce them, if he has forgotten—I will make way for him. And let him say, if he has any testimony of the sort which he can produce. Nay, Athenians, the very opposite is the truth. For all these are ready to witness on behalf of the corrupter, of the injurer of their kindred, as Meletus and Anytus call me; not the corrupted youth only—there might have been a motive for that—but their uncorrupted elder relatives. Why should they too support me with their testimony? Why, indeed, except for the sake of truth and justice, and because they know that I am speaking the truth, and that Meletus is a liar.


The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

Well, Athenians, this and the like of this is all the defence which I have to offer. Yet a word more. Perhaps there may be some one who is offended at me, when he calls to mind how he himself on a similar, or even a less serious occasion, prayed and entreated the judges with many tears, and how he produced his children in court, which was a moving spectacle, together with a host of relations and friends; whereas I, who am probably in danger of my life, will do none of these things. The contrast may occur to his mind, and he may be set against me, and vote in anger because he is displeased at me on this account. Now if there be such a person among you,—mind, I do not say that there is,—to him I may fairly reply: My friend, I am a man, and like other men, a creature of flesh and blood, and not 'of wood or stone,' as Homer says; and I have a family, yes, and sons, O Athenians, three in number, one almost a man, and two others who are still young; and yet I will not bring any of them hither in order to petition you for an acquittal. And why not? Not from any self-assertion or want of respect for you. Whether I am or am not afraid of death is another question, of which I will not now speak. But, having regard to public opinion, I feel that such conduct would be discreditable to myself, and to you, and to the whole state. One who has reached my years, and who has a name for wisdom, ought not to demean himself. Whether this opinion of me be deserved or not, at any rate the world has decided that Socrates is in some way superior to other men. And if those among you who are said to be superior in wisdom and courage, and any other virtue, demean themselves in this way, how shameful is their conduct! I have seen men of reputation, when they have been condemned, behaving in the strangest manner: they seemed to fancy that they were going to suffer something dreadful if they died, and that they could be immortal if you only allowed them to live; and I think that such are a dishonour to the state, and that any stranger coming in would have said of them that the most eminent men of Athens, to whom the Athenians themselves give honour and command, are no better than women. And I say that these things ought not to be done by those of us who have a reputation; and if they are done, you ought not to permit them; you ought rather to show that you are far more disposed to condemn the man who gets up a doleful scene and makes the city ridiculous, than him who holds his peace. But, setting aside the question of public opinion, there seems to be something wrong in asking a favour of a judge, and thus procuring an acquittal, instead of informing and convincing him. For his duty is, not to make a present of justice, but to give judgment; and he has sworn that he will judge according to the laws, and not according to his own good pleasure; and we ought not to encourage you, nor should you allow yourselves to be encouraged, in this habit of perjury—there can be no piety in that. Do not then require me to do what I consider dishonourable and impious and wrong, especially now, when I am being tried for impiety on the indictment of Meletus. For if, O men of Athens, by force of persuasion and entreaty I could overpower your oaths, then I should be teaching you to believe that there are no gods, and in defending should simply convict myself of the charge of not believing in them. But that is not so—far otherwise. For I do believe that there are gods, and in a sense higher than that in which any of my accusers believe in them. And to you and to God I commit my cause, to be determined by you as is best for you and me.

There are many reasons why I am not grieved, O men of Athens, at the vote of condemnation. I expected it, and am only surprised that the votes are so nearly equal; for I had thought that the majority against me would have been far larger; but now, had thirty votes gone over to the other side, I should have been acquitted. And I may say, I think, that I have escaped Meletus. I may say more;

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

for without the assistance of Anytus and Lycon, any one may see that he would not have had a fifth part of the votes, as the law requires, in which case he would have incurred a fine of a thousand drachmae. And so he proposes death as the penalty. And what shall I propose on my part, O men of Athens? Clearly that which is my due. And what is my due? What return shall be made to the man who has never had the wit to be idle during his whole life; but has been careless of what the many care for— wealth, and family interests, and military offices, and speaking in the assembly, and magistracies, and plots, and parties. Reflecting that I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live, I did not go where I could do no good to you or to myself; but where I could do the greatest good privately to every one of you, thither I went, and sought to persuade every man among you that he must look to himself, and seek virtue and wisdom before he looks to his private interests, and look to the state before he looks to the interests of the state; and that this should be the order which he observes in all his actions. What shall be done to such an one? Doubtless some good thing, O men of Athens, if he has his reward; and the good should be of a kind suitable to him. What would be a reward suitable to a poor man who is your benefactor, and who desires leisure that he may instruct you? There can be no reward so fitting as maintenance in the Prytaneum, O men of Athens, a reward which he deserves far more than the citizen who has won the prize at Olympia in the horse or chariot race, whether the chariots were drawn by two horses or by many. For I am in want, and he has enough; and he only gives you the appearance of happiness, and I give you the reality. And if I am to estimate the penalty fairly, I should say that maintenance in the Prytaneum is the just return. Perhaps you think that I am braving you in what I am saying now, as in what I said before about the tears and prayers. But this is not so. I speak rather because I am convinced that I never intentionally wronged any one, although I cannot convince you—the time has been too short; if there were a law at Athens, as there is in other cities, that a capital cause should not be decided in one day, then I believe that I should have convinced you. But I cannot in a moment refute great slanders; and, as I am convinced that I never wronged another, I will assuredly not wrong myself. I will not say of myself that I deserve any evil, or propose any penalty. Why should I? because I am afraid of the penalty of death which Meletus proposes? When I do not know whether death is a good or an evil, why should I propose a penalty which would certainly be an evil? Shall I say imprisonment? And why should I live in prison, and be the slave of the magistrates of the year—of the Eleven? Or shall the penalty be a fine, and imprisonment until the fine is paid? There is the same objection. I should have to lie in prison, for money I have none, and cannot pay. And if I say exile (and this may possibly be the penalty which you will affix), I must indeed be blinded by the love of life, if I am so irrational as to expect that when you, who are my own citizens, cannot endure my discourses and words, and have found them so grievous and odious that you will have no more of them, others are likely to endure me. No indeed, men of Athens, that is not very likely. And what a life should I lead, at my age, wandering from city to city, ever changing my place of exile, and always being driven out! For I am quite sure that wherever I go, there, as here, the young men will flock to me; and if I drive them away, their elders will drive me out at their request; and if I let them come, their fathers and friends will drive me out for their sakes. Some one will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that to do as you say would be a disobedience to the God, and

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you are still less likely to believe me. Yet I say what is true, although a thing of which it is hard for me to persuade you. Also, I have never been accustomed to think that I deserve to suffer any harm. Had I money I might have estimated the offence at what I was able to pay, and not have been much the worse. But I have none, and therefore I must ask you to proportion the fine to my means. Well, perhaps I could afford a mina, and therefore I propose that penalty: Plato, Crito, Critobulus, and Apollodorus, my friends here, bid me say thirty minae, and they will be the sureties. Let thirty minae be the penalty; for which sum they will be ample security to you.

Not much time will be gained, O Athenians, in return for the evil name which you will get from the detractors of the city, who will say that you killed Socrates, a wise man; for they will call me wise, even although I am not wise, when they want to reproach you. If you had waited a little while, your desire would have been fulfilled in the course of nature. For I am far advanced in years, as you may perceive, and not far from death. I am speaking now not to all of you, but only to those who have condemned me to death. And I have another thing to say to them: you think that I was convicted because I had no words of the sort which would have procured my acquittal—I mean, if I had thought fit to leave nothing undone or unsaid. Not so; the deficiency which led to my conviction was not of words—certainly not. But I had not the boldness or impudence or inclination to address you as you would have liked me to do, weeping and wailing and lamenting, and saying and doing many things which you have been accustomed to hear from others, and which, as I maintain, are unworthy of me. I thought at the time that I ought not to do anything common or mean when in danger: nor do I now repent of the style of my defence; I would rather die having spoken after my manner, than speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor yet at law ought I or any man to use every way of escaping death. Often in battle there can be no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death; and in other dangers there are other ways of escaping death, if a man is willing to say and do anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not to avoid death, but to avoid unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death. I am old and move slowly, and the slower runner has overtaken me, and my accusers are keen and quick, and the faster runner, who is unrighteousness, has overtaken them. And now I depart hence condemned by you to suffer the penalty of death,—they too go their ways condemned by the truth to suffer the penalty of villainy and wrong; and I must abide by my award—let them abide by theirs. I suppose that these things may be regarded as fated,—and I think that they are well. And now, O men who have condemned me, I would fain prophesy to you; for I am about to die, and in the hour of death men are gifted with prophetic power. And I prophesy to you who are my murderers, that immediately after my departure punishment far heavier than you have inflicted on me will surely await you. Me you have killed because you wanted to escape the accuser, and not to give an account of your lives. But that will not be as you suppose: far otherwise. For I say that there will be more accusers of you than there are now; accusers whom hitherto I have restrained: and as they are younger they will be more inconsiderate with you, and you will be more offended at them. If you think that by killing men you can prevent some one from censuring your evil lives, you are mistaken; that is not a way of escape which is either possible or honourable; the easiest and the noblest way is not to

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

be disabling others, but to be improving yourselves. This is the prophecy which I utter before my departure to the judges who have condemned me. Friends, who would have acquitted me, I would like also to talk with you about the thing which has come to pass, while the magistrates are busy, and before I go to the place at which I must die. Stay then a little, for we may as well talk with one another while there is time. You are my friends, and I should like to show you the meaning of this event which has happened to me. O my judges—for you I may truly call judges—I should like to tell you of a wonderful circumstance. Hitherto the divine faculty of which the internal oracle is the source has constantly been in the habit of opposing me even about trifles, if I was going to make a slip or error in any matter; and now as you see there has come upon me that which may be thought, and is generally believed to be, the last and worst evil. But the oracle made no sign of opposition, either when I was leaving my house in the morning, or when I was on my way to the court, or while I was speaking, at anything which I was going to say; and yet I have often been stopped in the middle of a speech, but now in nothing I either said or did touching the matter in hand has the oracle opposed me. What do I take to be the explanation of this silence? I will tell you. It is an intimation that what has happened to me is a good, and that those of us who think that death is an evil are in error. For the customary sign would surely have opposed me had I been going to evil and not to good. Let us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is a good; for one of two things—either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, and were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think that any man, I will not say a private man, but even the great king will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if death be of such a nature, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead abide, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below, he is delivered from the professors of justice in this world, and finds the true judges who are said to give judgment there, Minos and Rhadamanthus and Aeacus and Triptolemus, and other sons of God who were righteous in their own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. What would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer? Nay, if this be true, let me die again and again. I myself, too, shall have a wonderful interest in there meeting and conversing with Palamedes, and Ajax the son of Telamon, and any other ancient hero who has suffered death through an unjust judgment; and there will be no small pleasure, as I think, in comparing my own sufferings with theirs. Above all, I shall then be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in the next; and I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not. What would not a man give, O judges, to be able to examine the leader of the great Trojan expedition; or Odysseus or Sisyphus, or numberless others, men and women too! What infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking them questions! In another world they do not put a man to death for asking questions: assuredly not. For besides being happier than we are, they will be immortal, if what is said is true.

The Dialogues of Plato: Apology 

Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know of a certainty, that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approaching end happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that the time had arrived when it was better for me to die and be released from trouble; wherefore the oracle gave no sign. For which reason, also, I am not angry with my condemners, or with my accusers; they have done me no harm, although they did not mean to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them. Still I have a favour to ask of them. When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I would have you trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing,—then reprove them, as I have reproved you, for not caring about that for which they ought to care, and thinking that they are something when they are really nothing. And if you do this, both I and my sons will have received justice at your hands. The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways—I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows.


The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides 
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Title: Charmides Author: Plato Translator: Benjamin Jowett Release Date: August 15, 2008 [EBook #1580] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CHARMIDES ***

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By Plato

Translated into English with Analyses and Introductions By B. Jowett, M.A.

The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides 

Master of Balliol College Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Oxford Doctor in Theology of the University of Leyden

in Balliol College and in the University of Oxford who during fifty years have been the best of friends to me these volumes are inscribed in grateful recognition of their never failing attachment. The additions and alterations which have been made, both in the Introductions and in the Text of this Edition, affect at least a third of the work. Having regard to the extent of these alterations, and to the annoyance which is naturally felt by the owner of a book at the possession of it in an inferior form, and still more keenly by the writer himself, who must always desire to be read as he is at his best, I have thought that the possessor of either of the former Editions (1870 and 1876) might wish to exchange it for the present one. I have therefore arranged that those who would like to make this exchange, on depositing a perfect and undamaged copy of the first or second Edition with any agent of the Clarendon Press, shall be entitled to receive a copy of a new Edition at half-price.

The Text which has been mostly followed in this Translation of Plato is the latest 8vo. edition of Stallbaum; the principal deviations are noted at the bottom of the page. I have to acknowledge many obligations to old friends and pupils. These are:—Mr. John Purves, Fellow of Balliol College, with whom I have revised about half of the entire Translation; the Rev. Professor Campbell, of St. Andrews, who has helped me in the revision of several parts of the work, especially of the Theaetetus, Sophist, and Politicus; Mr. Robinson Ellis, Fellow of Trinity College, and Mr. Alfred Robinson, Fellow of New College, who read with me the Cratylus and the Gorgias; Mr. Paravicini, Student of Christ Church, who assisted me in the Symposium; Mr. Raper, Fellow of Queen's College, Mr. Monro, Fellow of Oriel College, and Mr. Shadwell, Student of Christ Church, who gave me similar assistance in the Laws. Dr. Greenhill, of Hastings, has also kindly sent me remarks on the physiological part of the Timaeus, which I have inserted as corrections under the head of errata at the end of the Introduction. The degree of accuracy which I have been enabled to attain is in great measure due to these gentlemen, and I heartily thank them for the pains and time which they have bestowed on my work.

The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides 

I have further to explain how far I have received help from other labourers in the same field. The books which I have found of most use are Steinhart and Muller's German Translation of Plato with Introductions; Zeller's 'Philosophie der Griechen,' and 'Platonische Studien;' Susemihl's 'Genetische Entwickelung der Paltonischen Philosophie;' Hermann's 'Geschichte der Platonischen Philosophie;' Bonitz, 'Platonische Studien;' Stallbaum's Notes and Introductions; Professor Campbell's editions of the 'Theaetetus,' the 'Sophist,' and the 'Politicus;' Professor Thompson's 'Phaedrus;' Th. Martin's 'Etudes sur le Timee;' Mr. Poste's edition and translation of the 'Philebus;' the Translation of the 'Republic,' by Messrs. Davies and Vaughan, and the Translation of the 'Gorgias,' by Mr. Cope. I have also derived much assistance from the great work of Mr. Grote, which contains excellent analyses of the Dialogues, and is rich in original thoughts and observations. I agree with him in rejecting as futile the attempt of Schleiermacher and others to arrange the Dialogues of Plato into a harmonious whole. Any such arrangement appears to me not only to be unsupported by evidence, but to involve an anachronism in the history of philosophy. There is a common spirit in the writings of Plato, but not a unity of design in the whole, nor perhaps a perfect unity in any single Dialogue. The hypothesis of a general plan which is worked out in the successive Dialogues is an after-thought of the critics who have attributed a system to writings belonging to an age when system had not as yet taken possession of philosophy. If Mr. Grote should do me the honour to read any portion of this work he will probably remark that I have endeavoured to approach Plato from a point of view which is opposed to his own. The aim of the Introductions in these volumes has been to represent Plato as the father of Idealism, who is not to be measured by the standard of utilitarianism or any other modern philosophical system. He is the poet or maker of ideas, satisfying the wants of his own age, providing the instruments of thought for future generations. He is no dreamer, but a great philosophical genius struggling with the unequal conditions of light and knowledge under which he is living. He may be illustrated by the writings of moderns, but he must be interpreted by his own, and by his place in the history of philosophy. We are not concerned to determine what is the residuum of truth which remains for ourselves. His truth may not be our truth, and nevertheless may have an extraordinary value and interest for us. I cannot agree with Mr. Grote in admitting as genuine all the writings commonly attributed to Plato in antiquity, any more than with Schaarschmidt and some other German critics who reject nearly half of them. The German critics, to whom I refer, proceed chiefly on grounds of internal evidence; they appear to me to lay too much stress on the variety of doctrine and style, which must be equally acknowledged as a fact, even in the Dialogues regarded by Schaarschmidt as genuine, e.g. in the Phaedrus, or Symposium, when compared with the Laws. He who admits works so different in style and matter to have been the composition of the same author, need have no difficulty in admitting the Sophist or the Politicus. (The negative argument adduced by the same school of critics, which is based on the silence of Aristotle, is not worthy of much consideration. For why should Aristotle, because he has quoted several Dialogues of Plato, have quoted them all? Something must be allowed to chance, and to the nature of the subjects treated of in them.) On the other hand, Mr. Grote trusts mainly to the Alexandrian Canon. But I hardly think that we are justified in attributing much weight to the authority of the Alexandrian librarians in an age when there was no regular publication of books, and every temptation to forge them; and in which the writings of a school were naturally attributed to the founder of the school. And even without intentional fraud, there was an inclination to believe rather than to enquire. Would Mr. Grote accept as genuine all the writings which he finds in

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the lists of learned ancients attributed to Hippocrates, to Xenophon, to Aristotle? The Alexandrian Canon of the Platonic writings is deprived of credit by the admission of the Epistles, which are not only unworthy of Plato, and in several passages plagiarized from him, but flagrantly at variance with historical fact. It will be seen also that I do not agree with Mr. Grote's views about the Sophists; nor with the low estimate which he has formed of Plato's Laws; nor with his opinion respecting Plato's doctrine of the rotation of the earth. But I 'am not going to lay hands on my father Parmenides' (Soph.), who will, I hope, forgive me for differing from him on these points. I cannot close this Preface without expressing my deep respect for his noble and gentle character, and the great services which he has rendered to Greek Literature. Balliol College, January, 1871.

In publishing a Second Edition (1875) of the Dialogues of Plato in English, I had to acknowledge the assistance of several friends: of the Rev. G.G. Bradley, Master of University College, now Dean of Westminster, who sent me some valuable remarks on the Phaedo; of Dr. Greenhill, who had again revised a portion of the Timaeus; of Mr. R.L. Nettleship, Fellow and Tutor of Balliol College, to whom I was indebted for an excellent criticism of the Parmenides; and, above all, of the Rev. Professor Campbell of St. Andrews, and Mr. Paravicini, late Student of Christ Church and Tutor of Balliol College, with whom I had read over the greater part of the translation. I was also indebted to Mr. Evelyn Abbott, Fellow and Tutor of Balliol College, for a complete and accurate index. In this, the Third Edition, I am under very great obligations to Mr. Matthew Knight, who has not only favoured me with valuable suggestions throughout the work, but has largely extended the Index (from 61 to 175 pages) and translated the Eryxias and Second Alcibiades; and to Mr Frank Fletcher, of Balliol College, my Secretary. I am also considerably indebted to Mr. J.W. Mackail, late Fellow of Balliol College, who read over the Republic in the Second Edition and noted several inaccuracies. In both editions the Introductions to the Dialogues have been enlarged, and essays on subjects having an affinity to the Platonic Dialogues have been introduced into several of them. The analyses have been corrected, and innumerable alterations have been made in the Text. There have been added also, in the Third Edition, headings to the pages and a marginal analysis to the text of each dialogue. At the end of a long task, the translator may without impropriety point out the difficulties which he has had to encounter. These have been far greater than he would have anticipated; nor is he at all sanguine that he has succeeded in overcoming them. Experience has made him feel that a translation, like a picture, is dependent for its effect on very minute touches; and that it is a work of infinite pains, to be returned to in many moods and viewed in different lights.

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I. An English translation ought to be idiomatic and interesting, not only to the scholar, but to the unlearned reader. Its object should not simply be to render the words of one language into the words of another or to preserve the construction and order of the original;—this is the ambition of a schoolboy, who wishes to show that he has made a good use of his Dictionary and Grammar; but is quite unworthy of the translator, who seeks to produce on his reader an impression similar or nearly similar to that produced by the original. To him the feeling should be more important than the exact word. He should remember Dryden's quaint admonition not to 'lacquey by the side of his author, but to mount up behind him.' (Dedication to the Aeneis.) He must carry in his mind a comprehensive view of the whole work, of what has preceded and of what is to follow,—as well as of the meaning of particular passages. His version should be based, in the first instance, on an intimate knowledge of the text; but the precise order and arrangement of the words may be left to fade out of sight, when the translation begins to take shape. He must form a general idea of the two languages, and reduce the one to the terms of the other. His work should be rhythmical and varied, the right admixture of words and syllables, and even of letters, should be carefully attended to; above all, it should be equable in style. There must also be quantity, which is necessary in prose as well as in verse: clauses, sentences, paragraphs, must be in due proportion. Metre and even rhyme may be rarely admitted; though neither is a legitimate element of prose writing, they may help to lighten a cumbrous expression (Symp.). The translation should retain as far as possible the characteristic qualities of the ancient writer—his freedom, grace, simplicity, stateliness, weight, precision; or the best part of him will be lost to the English reader. It should read as an original work, and should also be the most faithful transcript which can be made of the language from which the translation is taken, consistently with the first requirement of all, that it be English. Further, the translation being English, it should also be perfectly intelligible in itself without reference to the Greek, the English being really the more lucid and exact of the two languages. In some respects it may be maintained that ordinary English writing, such as the newspaper article, is superior to Plato: at any rate it is couched in language which is very rarely obscure. On the other hand, the greatest writers of Greece, Thucydides, Plato, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Pindar, Demosthenes, are generally those which are found to be most difficult and to diverge most widely from the English idiom. The translator will often have to convert the more abstract Greek into the more concrete English, or vice versa, and he ought not to force upon one language the character of another. In some cases, where the order is confused, the expression feeble, the emphasis misplaced, or the sense somewhat faulty, he will not strive in his rendering to reproduce these characteristics, but will re-write the passage as his author would have written it at first, had he not been 'nodding'; and he will not hesitate to supply anything which, owing to the genius of the language or some accident of composition, is omitted in the Greek, but is necessary to make the English clear and consecutive. It is difficult to harmonize all these conflicting elements. In a translation of Plato what may be termed the interests of the Greek and English are often at war with one another. In framing the English sentence we are insensibly diverted from the exact meaning of the Greek; when we return to the Greek we are apt to cramp and overlay the English. We substitute, we compromise, we give and take, we add a little here and leave out a little there. The translator may sometimes be allowed to sacrifice minute accuracy for the sake of clearness and sense. But he is not therefore at liberty to omit words and turns of expression which the English language is quite capable of supplying. He must be patient and self-controlled; he must not be easily run away with. Let him never allow the attraction of a favourite expression, or a sonorous cadence, to overpower his better judgment, or think much of an ornament which is out of keeping with the general character of his work. He must ever be

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casting his eyes upwards from the copy to the original, and down again from the original to the copy (Rep.). His calling is not held in much honour by the world of scholars; yet he himself may be excused for thinking it a kind of glory to have lived so many years in the companionship of one of the greatest of human intelligences, and in some degree, more perhaps than others, to have had the privilege of understanding him (Sir Joshua Reynolds' Lectures: Disc. xv.). There are fundamental differences in Greek and English, of which some may be managed while others remain intractable. (1). The structure of the Greek language is partly adversative and alternative, and partly inferential; that is to say, the members of a sentence are either opposed to one another, or one of them expresses the cause or effect or condition or reason of another. The two tendencies may be called the horizontal and perpendicular lines of the language; and the opposition or inference is often much more one of words than of ideas. But modern languages have rubbed off this adversative and inferential form: they have fewer links of connection, there is less mortar in the interstices, and they are content to place sentences side by side, leaving their relation to one another to be gathered from their position or from the context. The difficulty of preserving the effect of the Greek is increased by the want of adversative and inferential particles in English, and by the nice sense of tautology which characterizes all modern languages. We cannot have two 'buts' or two 'fors' in the same sentence where the Greek repeats (Greek). There is a similar want of particles expressing the various gradations of objective and subjective thought—(Greek) and the like, which are so thickly scattered over the Greek page. Further, we can only realize to a very imperfect degree the common distinction between (Greek), and the combination of the two suggests a subtle shade of negation which cannot be expressed in English. And while English is more dependent than Greek upon the apposition of clauses and sentences, yet there is a difficulty in using this form of construction owing to the want of case endings. For the same reason there cannot be an equal variety in the order of words or an equal nicety of emphasis in English as in Greek. (2) The formation of the sentence and of the paragraph greatly differs in Greek and English. The lines by which they are divided are generally much more marked in modern languages than in ancient. Both sentences and paragraphs are more precise and definite—they do not run into one another. They are also more regularly developed from within. The sentence marks another step in an argument or a narrative or a statement; in reading a paragraph we silently turn over the page and arrive at some new view or aspect of the subject. Whereas in Plato we are not always certain where a sentence begins and ends; and paragraphs are few and far between. The language is distributed in a different way, and less articulated than in English. For it was long before the true use of the period was attained by the classical writers both in poetry or prose; it was (Greek). The balance of sentences and the introduction of paragraphs at suitable intervals must not be neglected if the harmony of the English language is to be preserved. And still a caution has to be added on the other side, that we must avoid giving it a numerical or mechanical character. (3) This, however, is not one of the greatest difficulties of the translator; much greater is that which arises from the restriction of the use of the genders. Men and women in English are masculine and feminine, and there is a similar distinction of sex in the words denoting animals; but all things else, whether outward objects or abstract ideas, are relegated to the class of neuters. Hardly in some flight of poetry do we ever endue any of them with the characteristics of a sentient being, and then only by speaking of them in the feminine gender. The virtues may be pictured in female forms, but they are not so described in language; a ship is humorously supposed to be the sailor's bride; more doubtful

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are the personifications of church and country as females. Now the genius of the Greek language is the opposite of this. The same tendency to personification which is seen in the Greek mythology is common also in the language; and genders are attributed to things as well as persons according to their various degrees of strength and weakness; or from fanciful resemblances to the male or female form, or some analogy too subtle to be discovered. When the gender of any object was once fixed, a similar gender was naturally assigned to similar objects, or to words of similar formation. This use of genders in the denotation of objects or ideas not only affects the words to which genders are attributed, but the words with which they are construed or connected, and passes into the general character of the style. Hence arises a difficulty in translating Greek into English which cannot altogether be overcome. Shall we speak of the soul and its qualities, of virtue, power, wisdom, and the like, as feminine or neuter? The usage of the English language does not admit of the former, and yet the life and beauty of the style are impaired by the latter. Often the translator will have recourse to the repetition of the word, or to the ambiguous 'they,' 'their,' etc.; for fear of spoiling the effect of the sentence by introducing 'it.' Collective nouns in Greek and English create a similar but lesser awkwardness. (4) To use of relation is far more extended in Greek than in English. Partly the greater variety of genders and cases makes the connexion of relative and antecedent less ambiguous: partly also the greater number of demonstrative and relative pronouns, and the use of the article, make the correlation of ideas simpler and more natural. The Greek appears to have had an ear or intelligence for a long and complicated sentence which is rarely to be found in modern nations; and in order to bring the Greek down to the level of the modern, we must break up the long sentence into two or more short ones. Neither is the same precision required in Greek as in Latin or English, nor in earlier Greek as in later; there was nothing shocking to the contemporary of Thucydides and Plato in anacolutha and repetitions. In such cases the genius of the English language requires that the translation should be more intelligible than the Greek. The want of more distinctions between the demonstrative pronouns is also greatly felt. Two genitives dependent on one another, unless familiarised by idiom, have an awkward effect in English. Frequently the noun has to take the place of the pronoun. 'This' and 'that' are found repeating themselves to weariness in the rough draft of a translation. As in the previous case, while the feeling of the modern language is more opposed to tautology, there is also a greater difficulty in avoiding it. (5) Though no precise rule can be laid down about the repetition of words, there seems to be a kind of impertinence in presenting to the reader the same thought in the same words, repeated twice over in the same passage without any new aspect or modification of it. And the evasion of tautology—that is, the substitution of one word of precisely the same meaning for another—is resented by us equally with the repetition of words. Yet on the other hand the least difference of meaning or the least change of form from a substantive to an adjective, or from a participle to a verb, will often remedy the unpleasant effect. Rarely and only for the sake of emphasis or clearness can we allow an important word to be used twice over in two successive sentences or even in the same paragraph. The particles and pronouns, as they are of most frequent occurrence, are also the most troublesome. Strictly speaking, except a few of the commonest of them, 'and,' 'the,' etc., they ought not to occur twice in the same sentence. But the Greek has no such precise rules; and hence any literal translation of a Greek author is full of tautology. The tendency of modern languages is to become more correct as well as more perspicuous than ancient. And, therefore, while the English translator is limited in the power of expressing relation or connexion, by the law of his own language increased precision and

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also increased clearness are required of him. The familiar use of logic, and the progress of science, have in these two respects raised the standard. But modern languages, while they have become more exacting in their demands, are in many ways not so well furnished with powers of expression as the ancient classical ones. Such are a few of the difficulties which have to be overcome in the work of translation; and we are far from having exhausted the list. (6) The excellence of a translation will consist, not merely in the faithful rendering of words, or in the composition of a sentence only, or yet of a single paragraph, but in the colour and style of the whole work. Equability of tone is best attained by the exclusive use of familiar and idiomatic words. But great care must be taken; for an idiomatic phrase, if an exception to the general style, is of itself a disturbing element. No word, however expressive and exact, should be employed, which makes the reader stop to think, or unduly attracts attention by difficulty and peculiarity, or disturbs the effect of the surrounding language. In general the style of one author is not appropriate to another; as in society, so in letters, we expect every man to have 'a good coat of his own,' and not to dress himself out in the rags of another. (a) Archaic expressions are therefore to be avoided. Equivalents may be occasionally drawn from Shakspere, who is the common property of us all; but they must be used sparingly. For, like some other men of genius of the Elizabethan and Jacobean age, he outdid the capabilities of the language, and many of the expressions which he introduced have been laid aside and have dropped out of use. (b) A similar principle should be observed in the employment of Scripture. Having a greater force and beauty than other language, and a religious association, it disturbs the even flow of the style. It may be used to reproduce in the translation the quaint effect of some antique phrase in the original, but rarely; and when adopted, it should have a certain freshness and a suitable 'entourage.' It is strange to observe that the most effective use of Scripture phraseology arises out of the application of it in a sense not intended by the author. (c) Another caution: metaphors differ in different languages, and the translator will often be compelled to substitute one for another, or to paraphrase them, not giving word for word, but diffusing over several words the more concentrated thought of the original. The Greek of Plato often goes beyond the English in its imagery: compare Laws, (Greek); Rep.; etc. Or again the modern word, which in substance is the nearest equivalent to the Greek, may be found to include associations alien to Greek life: e.g. (Greek), 'jurymen,' (Greek), 'the bourgeoisie.' (d) The translator has also to provide expressions for philosophical terms of very indefinite meaning in the more definite language of modern philosophy. And he must not allow discordant elements to enter into the work. For example, in translating Plato, it would equally be an anachronism to intrude on him the feeling and spirit of the Jewish or Christian Scriptures or the technical terms of the Hegelian or Darwinian philosophy. (7) As no two words are precise equivalents (just as no two leaves of the forest are exactly similar), it is a mistaken attempt at precision always to translate the same Greek word by the same English word. There is no reason why in the New Testament (Greek) should always be rendered 'righteousness,' or (Greek) 'covenant.' In such cases the translator may be allowed to employ two words—sometimes when the two meanings occur in the same passage, varying them by an 'or'—e.g. (Greek), 'science' or 'knowledge,' (Greek), 'idea' or 'class,' (Greek), 'temperance' or 'prudence,'—at the point where the change of meaning occurs. If translations are intended not for the Greek scholar but for the general reader, their worst fault will be that they sacrifice the general effect and meaning to the over-precise rendering of words and forms of speech.


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(8) There is no kind of literature in English which corresponds to the Greek Dialogue; nor is the English language easily adapted to it. The rapidity and abruptness of question and answer, the constant repetition of (Greek), etc., which Cicero avoided in Latin (de Amicit), the frequent occurrence of expletives, would, if reproduced in a translation, give offence to the reader. Greek has a freer and more frequent use of the Interrogative, and is of a more passionate and emotional character, and therefore lends itself with greater readiness to the dialogue form. Most of the so-called English Dialogues are but poor imitations of Plato, which fall very far short of the original. The breath of conversation, the subtle adjustment of question and answer, the lively play of fancy, the power of drawing characters, are wanting in them. But the Platonic dialogue is a drama as well as a dialogue, of which Socrates is the central figure, and there are lesser performers as well:—the insolence of Thrasymachus, the anger of Callicles and Anytus, the patronizing style of Protagoras, the selfconsciousness of Prodicus and Hippias, are all part of the entertainment. To reproduce this living image the same sort of effort is required as in translating poetry. The language, too, is of a finer quality; the mere prose English is slow in lending itself to the form of question and answer, and so the ease of conversation is lost, and at the same time the dialectical precision with which the steps of the argument are drawn out is apt to be impaired. II. In the Introductions to the Dialogues there have been added some essays on modern philosophy, and on political and social life. The chief subjects discussed in these are Utility, Communism, the Kantian and Hegelian philosophies, Psychology, and the Origin of Language. (There have been added also in the Third Edition remarks on other subjects. A list of the most important of these additions is given at the end of this Preface.) Ancient and modern philosophy throw a light upon one another: but they should be compared, not confounded. Although the connexion between them is sometimes accidental, it is often real. The same questions are discussed by them under different conditions of language and civilization; but in some cases a mere word has survived, while nothing or hardly anything of the pre-Socratic, Platonic, or Aristotelian meaning is retained. There are other questions familiar to the moderns, which have no place in ancient philosophy. The world has grown older in two thousand years, and has enlarged its stock of ideas and methods of reasoning. Yet the germ of modern thought is found in ancient, and we may claim to have inherited, notwithstanding many accidents of time and place, the spirit of Greek philosophy. There is, however, no continuous growth of the one into the other, but a new beginning, partly artificial, partly arising out of the questionings of the mind itself, and also receiving a stimulus from the study of ancient writings. Considering the great and fundamental differences which exist in ancient and modern philosophy, it seems best that we should at first study them separately, and seek for the interpretation of either, especially of the ancient, from itself only, comparing the same author with himself and with his contemporaries, and with the general state of thought and feeling prevalent in his age. Afterwards comes the remoter light which they cast on one another. We begin to feel that the ancients had the same thoughts as ourselves, the same difficulties which characterize all periods of transition, almost the same opposition between science and religion. Although we cannot maintain that ancient and modern philosophy are one and continuous (as has been affirmed with more truth respecting ancient and modern history), for they are separated by an interval of a thousand years, yet they seem to recur in a sort of cycle, and we are surprised to find that the new is ever old, and that the teaching of the past has still a meaning for us.

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III. In the preface to the first edition I expressed a strong opinion at variance with Mr. Grote's, that the so-called Epistles of Plato were spurious. His friend and editor, Professor Bain, thinks that I ought to give the reasons why I differ from so eminent an authority. Reserving the fuller discussion of the question for another place, I will shortly defend my opinion by the following arguments:— (a) Because almost all epistles purporting to be of the classical age of Greek literature are forgeries. (Compare Bentley's Works (Dyce's Edition).) Of all documents this class are the least likely to be preserved and the most likely to be invented. The ancient world swarmed with them; the great libraries stimulated the demand for them; and at a time when there was no regular publication of books, they easily crept into the world. (b) When one epistle out of a number is spurious, the remainder of the series cannot be admitted to be genuine, unless there be some independent ground for thinking them so: when all but one are spurious, overwhelming evidence is required of the genuineness of the one: when they are all similar in style or motive, like witnesses who agree in the same tale, they stand or fall together. But no one, not even Mr. Grote, would maintain that all the Epistles of Plato are genuine, and very few critics think that more than one of them is so. And they are clearly all written from the same motive, whether serious or only literary. Nor is there an example in Greek antiquity of a series of Epistles, continuous and yet coinciding with a succession of events extending over a great number of years. The external probability therefore against them is enormous, and the internal probability is not less: for they are trivial and unmeaning, devoid of delicacy and subtlety, wanting in a single fine expression. And even if this be matter of dispute, there can be no dispute that there are found in them many plagiarisms, inappropriately borrowed, which is a common note of forgery. They imitate Plato, who never imitates either himself or any one else; reminiscences of the Republic and the Laws are continually recurring in them; they are too like him and also too unlike him, to be genuine (see especially Karsten, Commentio Critica de Platonis quae feruntur Epistolis). They are full of egotism, self-assertion, affectation, faults which of all writers Plato was most careful to avoid, and into which he was least likely to fall. They abound in obscurities, irrelevancies, solecisms, pleonasms, inconsistencies, awkwardnesses of construction, wrong uses of words. They also contain historical blunders, such as the statement respecting Hipparinus and Nysaeus, the nephews of Dion, who are said to 'have been well inclined to philosophy, and well able to dispose the mind of their brother Dionysius in the same course,' at a time when they could not have been more than six or seven years of age—also foolish allusions, such as the comparison of the Athenian empire to the empire of Darius, which show a spirit very different from that of Plato; and mistakes of fact, as e.g. about the Thirty Tyrants, whom the writer of the letters seems to have confused with certain inferior magistrates, making them in all fifty-one. These palpable errors and absurdities are absolutely irreconcilable with their genuineness. And as they appear to have a common parentage, the more they are studied, the more they will be found to furnish evidence against themselves. The Seventh, which is thought to be the most important of these Epistles, has affinities with the Third and the Eighth, and is quite as impossible and inconsistent as the rest. It is therefore involved in the same condemnation.—The final conclusion is that neither the Seventh nor any other of them, when carefully analyzed, can be imagined to have proceeded from the hand or mind of Plato. The other testimonies to the voyages of Plato to Sicily and the court of Dionysius are all of them later by several centuries than the events to which they refer. No extant writer mentions them older than Cicero and Cornelius Nepos. It does not seem impossible that so attractive a theme as the meeting of a

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philosopher and a tyrant, once imagined by the genius of a Sophist, may have passed into a romance which became famous in Hellas and the world. It may have created one of the mists of history, like the Trojan war or the legend of Arthur, which we are unable to penetrate. In the age of Cicero, and still more in that of Diogenes Laertius and Appuleius, many other legends had gathered around the personality of Plato,—more voyages, more journeys to visit tyrants and Pythagorean philosophers. But if, as we agree with Karsten in supposing, they are the forgery of some rhetorician or sophist, we cannot agree with him in also supposing that they are of any historical value, the rather as there is no early independent testimony by which they are supported or with which they can be compared. IV. There is another subject to which I must briefly call attention, lest I should seem to have overlooked it. Dr. Henry Jackson, of Trinity College, Cambridge, in a series of articles which he has contributed to the Journal of Philology, has put forward an entirely new explanation of the Platonic 'Ideas.' He supposes that in the mind of Plato they took, at different times in his life, two essentially different forms:—an earlier one which is found chiefly in the Republic and the Phaedo, and a later, which appears in the Theaetetus, Philebus, Sophist, Politicus, Parmenides, Timaeus. In the first stage of his philosophy Plato attributed Ideas to all things, at any rate to all things which have classes or common notions: these he supposed to exist only by participation in them. In the later Dialogues he no longer included in them manufactured articles and ideas of relation, but restricted them to 'types of nature,' and having become convinced that the many cannot be parts of the one, for the idea of participation in them he substituted imitation of them. To quote Dr. Jackson's own expressions,— 'whereas in the period of the Republic and the Phaedo, it was proposed to pass through ontology to the sciences, in the period of the Parmenides and the Philebus, it is proposed to pass through the sciences to ontology': or, as he repeats in nearly the same words,—'whereas in the Republic and in the Phaedo he had dreamt of passing through ontology to the sciences, he is now content to pass through the sciences to ontology.' This theory is supposed to be based on Aristotle's Metaphysics, a passage containing an account of the ideas, which hitherto scholars have found impossible to reconcile with the statements of Plato himself. The preparations for the new departure are discovered in the Parmenides and in the Theaetetus; and it is said to be expressed under a different form by the (Greek) and the (Greek) of the Philebus. The (Greek) of the Philebus is the principle which gives form and measure to the (Greek); and in the 'Later Theory' is held to be the (Greek) or (Greek) which converts the Infinite or Indefinite into ideas. They are neither (Greek) nor (Greek), but belong to the (Greek) which partakes of both. With great respect for the learning and ability of Dr. Jackson, I find myself unable to agree in this newly fashioned doctrine of the Ideas, which he ascribes to Plato. I have not the space to go into the question fully; but I will briefly state some objections which are, I think, fatal to it. (1) First, the foundation of his argument is laid in the Metaphysics of Aristotle. But we cannot argue, either from the Metaphysics, or from any other of the philosophical treatises of Aristotle, to the dialogues of Plato until we have ascertained the relation in which his so-called works stand to the philosopher himself. There is of course no doubt of the great influence exercised upon Greece and upon the world by Aristotle and his philosophy. But on the other hand almost every one who is capable of understanding the subject acknowledges that his writings have not come down to us in an authentic form like most of the dialogues of Plato. How much of them is to be ascribed to Aristotle's

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own hand, how much is due to his successors in the Peripatetic School, is a question which has never been determined, and probably never can be, because the solution of it depends upon internal evidence only. To 'the height of this great argument' I do not propose to ascend. But one little fact, not irrelevant to the present discussion, will show how hopeless is the attempt to explain Plato out of the writings of Aristotle. In the chapter of the Metaphysics quoted by Dr. Jackson, about two octavo pages in length, there occur no less than seven or eight references to Plato, although nothing really corresponding to them can be found in his extant writings:—a small matter truly; but what a light does it throw on the character of the entire book in which they occur! We can hardly escape from the conclusion that they are not statements of Aristotle respecting Plato, but of a later generation of Aristotelians respecting a later generation of Platonists. (Compare the striking remark of the great Scaliger respecting the Magna Moralia:—Haec non sunt Aristotelis, tamen utitur auctor Aristotelis nomine tanquam suo.) (2) There is no hint in Plato's own writings that he was conscious of having made any change in the Doctrine of Ideas such as Dr. Jackson attributes to him, although in the Republic the platonic Socrates speaks of 'a longer and a shorter way', and of a way in which his disciple Glaucon 'will be unable to follow him'; also of a way of Ideas, to which he still holds fast, although it has often deserted him (Philebus, Phaedo), and although in the later dialogues and in the Laws the reference to Ideas disappears, and Mind claims her own (Phil.; Laws). No hint is given of what Plato meant by the 'longer way' (Rep.), or 'the way in which Glaucon was unable to follow'; or of the relation of Mind to the Ideas. It might be said with truth that the conception of the Idea predominates in the first half of the Dialogues, which, according to the order adopted in this work, ends with the Republic, the 'conception of Mind' and a way of speaking more in agreement with modern terminology, in the latter half. But there is no reason to suppose that Plato's theory, or, rather, his various theories, of the Ideas underwent any definite change during his period of authorship. They are substantially the same in the twelfth Book of the Laws as in the Meno and Phaedo; and since the Laws were written in the last decade of his life, there is no time to which this change of opinions can be ascribed. It is true that the theory of Ideas takes several different forms, not merely an earlier and a later one, in the various Dialogues. They are personal and impersonal, ideals and ideas, existing by participation or by imitation, one and many, in different parts of his writings or even in the same passage. They are the universal definitions of Socrates, and at the same time 'of more than mortal knowledge' (Rep.). But they are always the negations of sense, of matter, of generation, of the particular: they are always the subjects of knowledge and not of opinion; and they tend, not to diversity, but to unity. Other entities or intelligences are akin to them, but not the same with them, such as mind, measure, limit, eternity, essence (Philebus; Timaeus): these and similar terms appear to express the same truths from a different point of view, and to belong to the same sphere with them. But we are not justified, therefore, in attempting to identify them, any more than in wholly opposing them. The great oppositions of the sensible and intellectual, the unchangeable and the transient, in whatever form of words expressed, are always maintained in Plato. But the lesser logical distinctions, as we should call them, whether of ontology or predication, which troubled the pre-Socratic philosophy and came to the front in Aristotle, are variously discussed and explained. Thus far we admit inconsistency in Plato, but no further. He lived in an age before logic and system had wholly permeated language, and therefore we must not always expect to find in him systematic arrangement or logical precision:—'poema magis putandum.' But he is always true to his own context, the careful study of which is of more value to the interpreter than all the commentators and scholiasts put together.

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(3) The conclusions at which Dr. Jackson has arrived are such as might be expected to follow from his method of procedure. For he takes words without regard to their connection, and pieces together different parts of dialogues in a purely arbitrary manner, although there is no indication that the author intended the two passages to be so combined, or that when he appears to be experimenting on the different points of view from which a subject of philosophy may be regarded, he is secretly elaborating a system. By such a use of language any premises may be made to lead to any conclusion. I am not one of those who believe Plato to have been a mystic or to have had hidden meanings; nor do I agree with Dr. Jackson in thinking that 'when he is precise and dogmatic, he generally contrives to introduce an element of obscurity into the expostion' (J. of Philol.). The great master of language wrote as clearly as he could in an age when the minds of men were clouded by controversy, and philosophical terms had not yet acquired a fixed meaning. I have just said that Plato is to be interpreted by his context; and I do not deny that in some passages, especially in the Republic and Laws, the context is at a greater distance than would be allowable in a modern writer. But we are not therefore justified in connecting passages from different parts of his writings, or even from the same work, which he has not himself joined. We cannot argue from the Parmenides to the Philebus, or from either to the Sophist, or assume that the Parmenides, the Philebus, and the Timaeus were 'written simultaneously,' or 'were intended to be studied in the order in which they are here named (J. of Philol.) We have no right to connect statements which are only accidentally similar. Nor is it safe for the author of a theory about ancient philosophy to argue from what will happen if his statements are rejected. For those consequences may never have entered into the mind of the ancient writer himself; and they are very likely to be modern consequences which would not have been understood by him. 'I cannot think,' says Dr. Jackson, 'that Plato would have changed his opinions, but have nowhere explained the nature of the change.' But is it not much more improbable that he should have changed his opinions, and not stated in an unmistakable manner that the most essential principle of his philosophy had been reversed? It is true that a few of the dialogues, such as the Republic and the Timaeus, or the Theaetetus and the Sophist, or the Meno and the Apology, contain allusions to one another. But these allusions are superficial and, except in the case of the Republic and the Laws, have no philosophical importance. They do not affect the substance of the work. It may be remarked further that several of the dialogues, such as the Phaedrus, the Sophist, and the Parmenides, have more than one subject. But it does not therefore follow that Plato intended one dialogue to succeed another, or that he begins anew in one dialogue a subject which he has left unfinished in another, or that even in the same dialogue he always intended the two parts to be connected with each other. We cannot argue from a casual statement found in the Parmenides to other statements which occur in the Philebus. Much more truly is his own manner described by himself when he says that 'words are more plastic than wax' (Rep.), and 'whither the wind blows, the argument follows'. The dialogues of Plato are like poems, isolated and separate works, except where they are indicated by the author himself to have an intentional sequence. It is this method of taking passages out of their context and placing them in a new connexion when they seem to confirm a preconceived theory, which is the defect of Dr. Jackson's procedure. It may be compared, though not wholly the same with it, to that method which the Fathers practised, sometimes called 'the mystical interpretation of Scripture,' in which isolated words are separated from their context, and receive any sense which the fancy of the interpreter may suggest. It is akin to the method employed by Schleiermacher of arranging the dialogues of Plato in chronological order according to what he deems the true arrangement of the ideas contained in them. (Dr. Jackson is also inclined, having constructed a theory, to make the chronology of Plato's writings dependent upon

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it (See J. of Philol. and elsewhere.) It may likewise be illustrated by the ingenuity of those who employ symbols to find in Shakespeare a hidden meaning. In the three cases the error is nearly the same:— words are taken out of their natural context, and thus become destitute of any real meaning. (4) According to Dr. Jackson's 'Later Theory,' Plato's Ideas, which were once regarded as the summa genera of all things, are now to be explained as Forms or Types of some things only,—that is to say, of natural objects: these we conceive imperfectly, but are always seeking in vain to have a more perfect notion of them. He says (J. of Philol.) that 'Plato hoped by the study of a series of hypothetical or provisional classifications to arrive at one in which nature's distribution of kinds is approximately represented, and so to attain approximately to the knowledge of the ideas. But whereas in the Republic, and even in the Phaedo, though less hopefully, he had sought to convert his provisional definitions into final ones by tracing their connexion with the summum genus, the (Greek), in the Parmenides his aspirations are less ambitious,' and so on. But where does Dr. Jackson find any such notion as this in Plato or anywhere in ancient philosophy? Is it not an anachronism, gracious to the modern physical philosopher, and the more acceptable because it seems to form a link between ancient and modern philosophy, and between physical and metaphysical science; but really unmeaning? (5) To this 'Later Theory' of Plato's Ideas I oppose the authority of Professor Zeller, who affirms that none of the passages to which Dr. Jackson appeals (Theaet.; Phil.; Tim.; Parm.) 'in the smallest degree prove his point'; and that in the second class of dialogues, in which the 'Later Theory of Ideas' is supposed to be found, quite as clearly as in the first, are admitted Ideas, not only of natural objects, but of properties, relations, works of art, negative notions (Theaet.; Parm.; Soph.); and that what Dr. Jackson distinguishes as the first class of dialogues from the second equally assert or imply that the relation of things to the Ideas, is one of participation in them as well as of imitation of them (Prof. Zeller's summary of his own review of Dr. Jackson, Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie.) In conclusion I may remark that in Plato's writings there is both unity, and also growth and development; but that we must not intrude upon him either a system or a technical language. Balliol College, October, 1891.

The chief additions to the Introductions in the Third Edition consist of Essays on the following subjects:— 1. Language. 2. The decline of Greek Literature.

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3. The 'Ideas' of Plato and Modern Philosophy. 4. The myths of Plato. 5. The relation of the Republic, Statesman and Laws. 6. The legend of Atlantis. 7. Psychology. 8. Comparison of the Laws of Plato with Spartan and Athenian Laws and Institutions.

The subject of the Charmides is Temperance or (Greek), a peculiarly Greek notion, which may also be rendered Moderation (Compare Cic. Tusc. '(Greek), quam soleo equidem tum temperantiam, tum moderationem appellare, nonnunquam etiam modestiam.'), Modesty, Discretion, Wisdom, without completely exhausting by all these terms the various associations of the word. It may be described as 'mens sana in corpore sano,' the harmony or due proportion of the higher and lower elements of human nature which 'makes a man his own master,' according to the definition of the Republic. In the accompanying translation the word has been rendered in different places either Temperance or Wisdom, as the connection seemed to require: for in the philosophy of Plato (Greek) still retains an intellectual element (as Socrates is also said to have identified (Greek) with (Greek): Xen. Mem.) and is not yet relegated to the sphere of moral virtue, as in the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle. The beautiful youth, Charmides, who is also the most temperate of human beings, is asked by Socrates, 'What is Temperance?' He answers characteristically, (1) 'Quietness.' 'But Temperance is a fine and noble thing; and quietness in many or most cases is not so fine a thing as quickness.' He tries again and says (2) that temperance is modesty. But this again is set aside by a sophistical application of Homer: for temperance is good as well as noble, and Homer has declared that 'modesty is not good for a needy man.' (3) Once more Charmides makes the attempt. This time he gives a definition which he has heard, and of which Socrates conjectures that Critias must be the author: 'Temperance is doing one's own business.' But the artisan who makes another man's shoes may be temperate, and yet he is not doing his own business; and temperance defined thus would be opposed to the division of labour which exists in every temperate or well-ordered state. How is this riddle to be explained? Critias, who takes the place of Charmides, distinguishes in his answer between 'making' and 'doing,' and with the help of a misapplied quotation from Hesiod assigns to the words 'doing' and 'work' an exclusively good sense: Temperance is doing one's own business;—(4) is doing good.

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Still an element of knowledge is wanting which Critias is readily induced to admit at the suggestion of Socrates; and, in the spirit of Socrates and of Greek life generally, proposes as a fifth definition, (5) Temperance is self-knowledge. But all sciences have a subject: number is the subject of arithmetic, health of medicine—what is the subject of temperance or wisdom? The answer is that (6) Temperance is the knowledge of what a man knows and of what he does not know. But this is contrary to analogy; there is no vision of vision, but only of visible things; no love of loves, but only of beautiful things; how then can there be a knowledge of knowledge? That which is older, heavier, lighter, is older, heavier, and lighter than something else, not than itself, and this seems to be true of all relative notions—the object of relation is outside of them; at any rate they can only have relation to themselves in the form of that object. Whether there are any such cases of reflex relation or not, and whether that sort of knowledge which we term Temperance is of this reflex nature, has yet to be determined by the great metaphysician. But even if knowledge can know itself, how does the knowledge of what we know imply the knowledge of what we do not know? Besides, knowledge is an abstraction only, and will not inform us of any particular subject, such as medicine, building, and the like. It may tell us that we or other men know something, but can never tell us what we know. Admitting that there is a knowledge of what we know and of what we do not know, which would supply a rule and measure of all things, still there would be no good in this; and the knowledge which temperance gives must be of a kind which will do us good; for temperance is a good. But this universal knowledge does not tend to our happiness and good: the only kind of knowledge which brings happiness is the knowledge of good and evil. To this Critias replies that the science or knowledge of good and evil, and all the other sciences, are regulated by the higher science or knowledge of knowledge. Socrates replies by again dividing the abstract from the concrete, and asks how this knowledge conduces to happiness in the same definite way in which medicine conduces to health. And now, after making all these concessions, which are really inadmissible, we are still as far as ever from ascertaining the nature of temperance, which Charmides has already discovered, and had therefore better rest in the knowledge that the more temperate he is the happier he will be, and not trouble himself with the speculations of Socrates. In this Dialogue may be noted (1) The Greek ideal of beauty and goodness, the vision of the fair soul in the fair body, realised in the beautiful Charmides; (2) The true conception of medicine as a science of the whole as well as the parts, and of the mind as well as the body, which is playfully intimated in the story of the Thracian; (3) The tendency of the age to verbal distinctions, which here, as in the Protagoras and Cratylus, are ascribed to the ingenuity of Prodicus; and to interpretations or rather parodies of Homer or Hesiod, which are eminently characteristic of Plato and his contemporaries; (4) The germ of an ethical principle contained in the notion that temperance is 'doing one's own business,' which in the Republic (such is the shifting character of the Platonic philosophy) is given as the definition, not of temperance, but of justice; (5) The impatience which is exhibited by Socrates of any definition of temperance in which an element of science or knowledge is not included; (6) The beginning of metaphysics and logic implied in the two questions: whether there can be a science of science, and whether the knowledge of what you know is the same as the knowledge of what you do not know; and also in the distinction between 'what you know' and 'that you know,' (Greek;) here too is the first conception of an absolute self-determined science (the claims of which, however, are disputed by Socrates, who asks cui bono?) as well as the first suggestion of the difficulty of the

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abstract and concrete, and one of the earliest anticipations of the relation of subject and object, and of the subjective element in knowledge—a 'rich banquet' of metaphysical questions in which we 'taste of many things.' (7) And still the mind of Plato, having snatched for a moment at these shadows of the future, quickly rejects them: thus early has he reached the conclusion that there can be no science which is a 'science of nothing' (Parmen.). (8) The conception of a science of good and evil also first occurs here, an anticipation of the Philebus and Republic as well as of moral philosophy in later ages. The dramatic interest of the Dialogue chiefly centres in the youth Charmides, with whom Socrates talks in the kindly spirit of an elder. His childlike simplicity and ingenuousness are contrasted with the dialectical and rhetorical arts of Critias, who is the grown-up man of the world, having a tincture of philosophy. No hint is given, either here or in the Timaeus, of the infamy which attaches to the name of the latter in Athenian history. He is simply a cultivated person who, like his kinsman Plato, is ennobled by the connection of his family with Solon (Tim.), and had been the follower, if not the disciple, both of Socrates and of the Sophists. In the argument he is not unfair, if allowance is made for a slight rhetorical tendency, and for a natural desire to save his reputation with the company; he is sometimes nearer the truth than Socrates. Nothing in his language or behaviour is unbecoming the guardian of the beautiful Charmides. His love of reputation is characteristically Greek, and contrasts with the humility of Socrates. Nor in Charmides himself do we find any resemblance to the Charmides of history, except, perhaps, the modest and retiring nature which, according to Xenophon, at one time of his life prevented him from speaking in the Assembly (Mem.); and we are surprised to hear that, like Critias, he afterwards became one of the thirty tyrants. In the Dialogue he is a pattern of virtue, and is therefore in no need of the charm which Socrates is unable to apply. With youthful naivete, keeping his secret and entering into the spirit of Socrates, he enjoys the detection of his elder and guardian Critias, who is easily seen to be the author of the definition which he has so great an interest in maintaining. The preceding definition, 'Temperance is doing one's own business,' is assumed to have been borrowed by Charmides from another; and when the enquiry becomes more abstract he is superseded by Critias (Theaet.; Euthyd.). Socrates preserves his accustomed irony to the end; he is in the neighbourhood of several great truths, which he views in various lights, but always either by bringing them to the test of common sense, or by demanding too great exactness in the use of words, turns aside from them and comes at last to no conclusion. The definitions of temperance proceed in regular order from the popular to the philosophical. The first two are simple enough and partially true, like the first thoughts of an intelligent youth; the third, which is a real contribution to ethical philosophy, is perverted by the ingenuity of Socrates, and hardly rescued by an equal perversion on the part of Critias. The remaining definitions have a higher aim, which is to introduce the element of knowledge, and at last to unite good and truth in a single science. But the time has not yet arrived for the realization of this vision of metaphysical philosophy; and such a science when brought nearer to us in the Philebus and the Republic will not be called by the name of (Greek). Hence we see with surprise that Plato, who in his other writings identifies good and knowledge, here opposes them, and asks, almost in the spirit of Aristotle, how can there be a knowledge of knowledge, and even if attainable, how can such a knowledge be of any use? The difficulty of the Charmides arises chiefly from the two senses of the word (Greek), or temperance. From the ethical notion of temperance, which is variously defined to be quietness, modesty, doing our own business, the doing of good actions, the dialogue passes onto the intellectual conception of (Greek), which is declared also to be the science of self-knowledge, or of the knowledge of what we

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know and do not know, or of the knowledge of good and evil. The dialogue represents a stage in the history of philosophy in which knowledge and action were not yet distinguished. Hence the confusion between them, and the easy transition from one to the other. The definitions which are offered are all rejected, but it is to be observed that they all tend to throw a light on the nature of temperance, and that, unlike the distinction of Critias between (Greek), none of them are merely verbal quibbles, it is implied that this question, although it has not yet received a solution in theory, has been already answered by Charmides himself, who has learned to practise the virtue of self-knowledge which philosophers are vainly trying to define in words. In a similar spirit we might say to a young man who is disturbed by theological difficulties, 'Do not trouble yourself about such matters, but only lead a good life;' and yet in either case it is not to be denied that right ideas of truth may contribute greatly to the improvement of character. The reasons why the Charmides, Lysis, Laches have been placed together and first in the series of Platonic dialogues, are: (i) Their shortness and simplicity. The Charmides and the Lysis, if not the Laches, are of the same 'quality' as the Phaedrus and Symposium: and it is probable, though far from certain, that the slighter effort preceded the greater one. (ii) Their eristic, or rather Socratic character; they belong to the class called dialogues of search (Greek), which have no conclusion. (iii) The absence in them of certain favourite notions of Plato, such as the doctrine of recollection and of the Platonic ideas; the questions, whether virtue can be taught; whether the virtues are one or many. (iv) They have a want of depth, when compared with the dialogues of the middle and later period; and a youthful beauty and grace which is wanting in the later ones. (v) Their resemblance to one another; in all the three boyhood has a great part. These reasons have various degrees of weight in determining their place in the catalogue of the Platonic writings, though they are not conclusive. No arrangement of the Platonic dialogues can be strictly chronological. The order which has been adopted is intended mainly for the convenience of the reader; at the same time, indications of the date supplied either by Plato himself or allusions found in the dialogues have not been lost sight of. Much may be said about this subject, but the results can only be probable; there are no materials which would enable us to attain to anything like certainty. The relations of knowledge and virtue are again brought forward in the companion dialogues of the Lysis and Laches; and also in the Protagoras and Euthydemus. The opposition of abstract and particular knowledge in this dialogue may be compared with a similar opposition of ideas and phenomena which occurs in the Prologues to the Parmenides, but seems rather to belong to a later stage of the philosophy of Plato.


and there I found a number of persons. My visit was unexpected. I replied. Of the beauties. that here I am. and no sooner did they see me entering than they saluted me from afar on all sides. So I went into the palaestra of Taureas. I fancy that you will soon be able to form a judgment. although he was not grown up at the time of your departure. that the engagement was very severe. and Chaerephon. of which the news had only just reached Athens. Charmides. I thought that I should like to go and look at my old haunts. which as yet we have only heard imperfectly. I replied. by the side of Critias the son of Callaeschrus. and having been a good while away. I asked whether any of them were remarkable for wisdom or beauty. he said. and who is his father? Charmides. as he is thought to be. most of whom I knew. I suppose. in my turn. which is near the Porch of the King Archon. is his name. I was. Socrates?—(I should explain that an engagement had taken place at Potidaea not long before we came away. Chaerephon. when there had been enough of this. and talking noisily to one another. which is over against the temple adjoining the porch of the King Archon. Socrates. and that many of our acquaintance had fallen. he is my cousin. and the son of my uncle Glaucon: I rather think that you know him too. 44    . seizing my hand. For those who are just entering are the advanced guard of the great beauty. and answered their several enquiries. who is the narrator. began to make enquiries about matters at home—about the present state of philosophy. That. and about the youth. followed by a crowd. How did you escape. and tell us the whole story. that you were present. Critias. but not all. There was a report.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Socrates. Yesterday evening I returned from the army at Potidaea.) You see. invited my attention to some youths who were coming in. Who is he. I. I told them the news from the army. I said. Then sit down. Critias. he said. was not far from the truth. he said. Then. he replied. I took the place which he assigned to me. and he is likely to be not far off himself. of the day. started up and ran to me. or both. and saying. glancing at the door. who is a kind of madman. and when I had saluted him and the rest of the company. SCENE: The Palaestra of Taureas.

who are his guardian and cousin. and I should imagine that by this time he must be almost a young man. Socrates? Has he not a beautiful face? Most beautiful. Call Charmides. he replied. is a distinction which has long been in your family. as if he had been a statue. all the world seemed to be enamoured of him. and also a considerable poet. my friend. for he was remarkable even then when he was still a child. for almost all young persons appear to be beautiful in my eyes. as he is without. That he will. That. What is that? said Critias. replied Critias. there never was such a paragon. and I can tell you that he is a philosopher already. Very well. down to the very least child. I said. naked and undisguised? he is just of an age at which he will like to talk. You will see. I know him. By Heracles. but I observed that there was the same feeling among the boys. he may be expected to have this. and being of your house. in a moment what progress he has made and what he is like. amazement and confusion reigned when he entered. but in that of others. he added: He has been complaining lately of having a 45    . when I saw him coming in. Now you know. Then again addressing me. turned and looked at him. He is as fair and good within. He had scarcely said the word. he said. when Charmides entered. I confess that I was quite astonished at his beauty and stature. Chaerephon called me and said: What do you think of him. should we not ask him to show us his soul. and turning to the attendant. and show him to us? for even if he were younger than he is. If he has a noble soul. there could be no impropriety in his talking to us in the presence of you. And to this they all agreed. he said. But at that moment.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Certainly. said Critias. and tell him that I want him to come and see a physician about the illness of which he spoke to me the day before yesterday. that I cannot measure anything. before we see his body. if you could see his naked form: he is absolutely perfect. That grown-up men like ourselves should have been affected in this way was not surprising. But you would think nothing of his face. Then. I replied. if he has only one other slight addition. my dear Critias. not in his own opinion only. then I will call him. Critias. all of them. he said. and a troop of lovers followed him. I said. and is inherited by you from Solon. and of the beautiful. But why do you not call him. I am simply such a measure as a white line is of chalk. I said.

And what is it? he said. than only cure the headache. I answered. and when he asked me if I knew the cure of the headache. O rare! I caught a sight of the inwards of his garment. and sat down between Critias and me. Charmides. and try to treat and heal the whole and the part together. He came as he was bidden. I dare say that you have heard eminent physicians say to a patient who comes to them with bad eyes. and are you quite sure that you know my name? I ought to know you. he warns some one 'not to bring the fawn in the sight of the lion to be devoured by him. but that without the charm the leaf would be of no avail. With my consent? I said. he replied. that they cannot cure his eyes by themselves. for there is a great deal said about you among my companions. was beginning to feel awkward. I am glad to find that you remember me. laughing. and. Socrates.' for I felt that I had been overcome by a sort of wild-beast appetite. and then again they say that to think of curing the head alone. Very good. and not the rest of the body also. my former bold belief in my powers of conversing with him had vanished. but will he come? He will be sure to come. But I controlled myself. is the height of folly. I replied that it was a kind of leaf. For the charm will do more. I thought how well Cydias understood the nature of love. and I remember when I was a child seeing you in company with my cousin Critias. but with an effort. Great amusement was occasioned by every one pushing with might and main at his neighbour in order to make a place for him next to themselves. And when Critias told him that I was the person who had the cure. his head must be treated. and was just going to ask a question. I said. And at that moment all the people in the palaestra crowded about us. Did you ever observe that this is what they say? 46    . or without my consent? With your consent. and if a person would repeat the charm at the same time that he used the cure. And arguing in this way they apply their methods to the whole body. but that if his eyes are to be cured. which required to be accompanied by a charm. he said. I said. in speaking of a fair youth. for I shall now be more at home with you and shall be better able to explain the nature of the charm. he looked at me in such an indescribable manner. that I did know. when. Then I could no longer contain myself. he replied. he would be made whole. my friend. until at the two ends of the row one had to get up and the other was rolled over sideways. about which I felt a difficulty before. Then I will write out the charm from your dictation. Now I. and took the flame.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  headache when he rises in the morning: now why should you not make him believe that you know a cure for the headache? Why not. I said. he said.

that Charmides is not only pre-eminent in beauty among his equals. Such. is the nature of the charm. I said. our king. or the head without the body. And the cure. and for his age inferior to none in any quality. and you would agree with them? Yes. who are said to be so skilful that they can even give immortality. and I must keep my oath. which ought to be studied also.' he said. but Zamolxis. whose union would be likely to produce a better or nobler scion than the two from which you are sprung. and indeed I think that you ought to excel others in all good qualities. which I learned when serving with the army from one of the physicians of the Thracian king Zamolxis. and this. for the part can never be well unless the whole is well. has to be effected by the use of certain charms. if the pain in his head compels him to improve his mind: and I can tell you. originates. whose family has been commemorated in the panegyrical verses of Anacreon. and these charms are fair words. as famous for beauty and virtue and all other high fortune: and your mother's house is equally distinguished. But if not.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Yes. There is your father's house. as the stranger directed. my dear youth. in the soul. for if I am not mistaken there is no one present who could easily point out two Athenian houses. and this. certainly I should. and where temperance is. Socrates. says further. without the charm. until he has first given you his soul to be cured by the charm. and therefore if you will allow me to apply the Thracian charm first to your soul. I do not know what I am to do with you. Charmides. he said. And they are right. but to the whole body. His approving answers reassured me. This Thracian told me that in these notions of theirs. as you say. Solon. for 47    . and the vital heat returned. or noble. however rich. when he heard this.' he said. there health is speedily imparted.' Now I have sworn. that is the first thing. that physicians separate the soul from the body.' For all good and evil. Then let me tell you that he is the most temperate of human beings. For this. Yes. 'is the reason why the cure of many diseases is unknown to the physicians of Hellas. which is descended from Critias the son of Dropidas. he added. not only to the head. the Greek physicians are quite right as far as they go. my dear Charmides. Critias. said: The headache will be an unexpected gain to my young relation. and by them temperance is implanted in the soul. so neither ought you to attempt to cure the body without the soul. I said. 'persuade you to cure the head. whether in the body or in human nature. is temperance? Yes. 'that as you ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without the head. Charmides. 'is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body.' he said. or fair. as he declared. as if from the head into the eyes. And therefore if the head and body are to be well. but also in that quality which is given by the charm. persuade you to give him the cure. And he who taught me the cure and the charm at the same time added a special direction: 'Let no one. you must begin by curing the soul. I will afterwards proceed to apply the cure to your head. at the same time making me swear to his words. which I was just now mentioning. he said. who is also a god. I said. and overflows from thence. 'Let no one. and many other poets. and I began by degrees to regain confidence.' And he added with emphasis. because they are ignorant of the whole.

on the other hand. that I am temperate: but. but if you have not yet acquired this quality. if I affirm that I am not temperate.—have you or have you not this quality of temperance? Charmides blushed. in that case you have no need of any charms. which would be ill manners. In a word. he said. and the blush heightened his beauty. then. such things for example as walking in the streets. and then you will not be compelled to say what you do not like. that I think is true. dear Charmides. you must have an opinion about her. I said. tell me. and also I should give the lie to Critias. in being the son of thy mother. is reputed never to have found his equal. and I may as well let you have the cure of the head at once. he then said very ingenuously. neither shall I be a rash practitioner of medicine: therefore. In order. temperance is quietness. Having such ancestors you ought to be first in all things. he said. and as far as I am concerned you may proceed in the way which you think best. for modesty is becoming in youth. in all the places to which he went as ambassador. if you please. as he declares. 48    . Is not that true? Yes. if I say that I am. either yes. that I may form a conjecture whether you have temperance abiding in you or not. for if. which may enable you to form a notion of her. that would be a strange thing for me to say of myself. and. whether of Zamolxis or of Abaris the Hyperborean. that whole family is not a whit inferior to the other. and talking. and many others who think as he tells you. he said. what. I must use the charm before I give you the medicine. in Persia at the court of the great king. You know your native language. said he. or on the continent of Asia. he said. and if in other respects you are what Critias declares you to be. I said. and therefore I do not know how to answer you. Pyrilampes. you have this gift of temperance already. that I had better begin by asking you a question. to inform me whether you admit the truth of what Critias has been saying.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  your maternal uncle. that he really could not at once answer. to the question which I had asked: For. And here lies the point. or no. If to beauty you add temperance. I shall have to praise myself. and was very unwilling to answer: then he said that he thought temperance was doing things orderly and quietly. then. There is nothing which I should like better. Charmides. therefore. or anything else of that nature. I said. for stature and beauty. and therefore you must be able to tell what you feel about this. and I think that you and I ought together to enquire whether you have this quality about which I am asking or not. Please. is Temperance? At first he hesitated. but I will not press you if you would rather not. I said to him: That is a natural reply. sweet son of Glaucon. in my opinion. and are temperate enough. your outward form is no dishonour to any of them. blessed art thou. I think. Certainly. for if temperance abides in you. I should answer that. I will share the enquiry with you. in your opinion. she must give some intimation of her nature and qualities.

and inactivity. I said. No doubt some would affirm that the quiet are the temperate. and quietness. And is temperance a good? Yes. not quietness. to write the same letters quickly or quietly? Quickly. is noblest and best? Yes. And in leaping and running and in bodily exercises generally. are bad? That is evident. quickness or sharpness are far better than quietness and slowness? Yes. I said. if temperance is a good? True. but quickness will be the higher degree of temperance. in all bodily actions. Then. but the greatest agility and quickness. slowness. is better—facility in learning. and first tell me whether you would not acknowledge temperance to be of the class of the noble and good? Yes. but let us see whether these words have any meaning. not quietness. or difficulty in learning? Facility. 49    . in reference to the body. Charmides? I said. certainly. he said. And the same holds in boxing and in the pancratium? Certainly. quickness and agility are good. And in playing the lyre. And which. or wrestling. Then.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Are you right. But which is best when you are at the writing-master's. And to read quickly or slowly? Quickly again.

And of two things. not the quietest. temperance will not be acting quietly any more than acting quickly and energetically. swiftness and activity are clearly better than slowness and quietness? Clearly they are. for the life which is temperate is supposed to be the good. he said. And which is better. to call to mind. And is it not better to teach another quickly and energetically. quickly and readily. and facility in learning is learning quickly. or supposing that of the nobler actions. either in walking or talking or in anything else. And is not shrewdness a quickness or cleverness of the soul. or very seldom. but he who does so most easily and quickly? Quite true. and difficulty in learning is learning quietly and slowly? True. and he who with difficulty deliberates and discovers. nor is the temperate life quiet. he said. nor will the quiet life be more temperate than the unquiet. or anywhere else. Then temperance is not quietness. And is it not best to understand what is said. and to remember. is thought worthy of praise. as I imagine. that you are right. rather than quietly and slowly? Yes. there are as many quiet. not as quietly as possible.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Yes. and the quick have been shown to be as good as the quiet. but as quickly as possible? Yes. seeing that temperance is admitted by us to be a good and noble thing. whether at the writing-master's or the music-master's. one is true. And in all that concerns either body or soul. even if we grant this. do the quiet actions in life appear to be better than the quick and energetic ones.—either never.—certainly not upon this view. I said. 50    . And in the searchings or deliberations of the soul. and not a quietness? True. I think. as quick and vehement: still. Socrates. or quietly and slowly? The former.

'That temperance is doing our own business. who said.' Was he right who affirmed that? You monster! I said. and. I said. or some philosopher has told you. like a brave youth. Very good. Then I suppose that modesty is and is not good? Clearly. and the nature of that which has the effect. And the inference is that temperance cannot be modesty—if temperance is a good. he said. and that temperance is the same as modesty. consider the effect which temperance has upon yourself. appears to me to be true. Well. Think over all this. And can that be good which does not make men good? Certainly not. but I should like to know what you think about another definition of temperance. fix your attention. whose presence makes men only good. that temperance makes a man ashamed or modest. he said: My opinion is. And the temperate are also good? Yes. Socrates. this is what Critias. I said. and not bad. that temperance is noble? Yes. just now. but also good? That is my opinion. and did you not admit. and if modesty is as much an evil as a good? All that. which I just now remember to have heard from some one. is always good? That appears to me to be as you say. I said. 'Modesty is not good for a needy man'? Yes. Charmides. but surely you would agree with Homer when he says. in which he made a real manly effort to think. tell me—What is temperance? After a moment's pause. And you would infer that temperance is not only noble. certainly. Socrates. But temperance.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Then once more. and look within. he said. 51    . I agree.

he replied. But. to be regarded as doing nothing when he reads or writes? I should rather think that he was doing something. and make his own shoes. for certainly I have not. and abstaining from what is not his own? I think not. I said. And does the scribe write or read. he replied. or did you write your enemies' names as well as your own and your friends'? As much one as the other. but whether they are true or not. And the healing art. for they are a kind of riddle. your own names only. And do you think that a state would be well ordered by a law which compelled every man to weave and wash his own coat. and weaving. Socrates. on this principle of every one doing and performing his own. and his own flask and strigil. said Critias. or teach you boys to write or read. What makes you think so? he said. a temperate state will be a well-ordered state. Because. from whom I heard this? No matter at all. you were doing what was not your own business? But they are the same as doing. my friend. and doing anything whatever which is done by art. There you are in the right. he who uttered them seems to me to have meant one thing. and building. And was there anything meddling or intemperate in this? Certainly not.—these all clearly come under the head of doing? Certainly. and other implements. then. said Charmides. I said. he said. for the point is not who said the words. 52    . and said another. I said. yet I doubt whether we shall ever be able to discover their truth or falsehood. And yet if reading and writing are the same as doing. Of course. But what matter. Is the scribe. I replied. To be sure. for example.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Some one else.

And Charmides.' I dare say. and I should not wonder if the man himself who used this phrase did not understand what he was saying. I certainly thought him a very wise man. or doing things of this sort? Clearly not. that the author of this definition of temperance did not understand the meaning of his own words. so he looked hard at him and said— Do you imagine. Charmides. Critias had long been showing uneasiness. and therefore. Charmides? Nay.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Then temperance. he can hardly be expected to understand. Then I am quite certain that he put forth his definition as a riddle. may well be assumed to know the meaning of them. but to make Critias answer. Then. And do they make or do their own business only. hitherto managed to restrain himself. tried to stir him up. most excellent Critias. or that of others also? 53    . He went on pointing out that he had been refuted. he replied. at his age. just as a poet might quarrel with an actor who spoiled his poems in repeating them. as I was just now saying. and accept the definition. who are older. however. and looked at Critias. inclined to quarrel with him. will not be doing one's own business. and have studied. but now he could no longer forbear. I entirely agree. but you. who did not want to answer himself. and appeared. and I am convinced of the truth of the suspicion which I entertained at the time. not at least in this way. at which Critias grew angry. as I was just now saying. and accept his definition of temperance. Was he a fool who told you. I said. I cannot. that Charmides had heard this answer about temperance from Critias. He had. if you agree with him. Very good. I would much rather argue with you than with him about the truth or falsehood of the definition. said Critias. And what is the meaning of a man doing his own business? Can you tell me? Indeed. as I thought. Whereupon he laughed slyly. and now let me repeat my question—Do you admit. he replied. he who declared that temperance is a man doing his own business had another and a hidden meaning. I said. that all craftsmen make or do something? I do. for he felt that he had a reputation to maintain with Charmides and the rest of the company. I said. because you do not understand them? Why. thinking that no one would know the meaning of the words 'doing his own business. for I do not think that he could have been such a fool as to mean this.

or in selling pickles. and he must be supposed to have called such things only man's proper business. when the employment was not honourable. he would have said that there was no disgrace in them—for example. and you. Now I have no objection to your giving names any signification which you please. friend. good. in Greek. What! I asked. thus much I have learned from Hesiod. 'doing one's own business. and any other wise man. but he who does good. Socrates. Then not he who does evil. than I pretty well knew that you would call that which is proper to a man. did I ever acknowledge that those who do the business of others are temperate? I said. I said. seeing that they make not for themselves or their own business only? Why not? he said. 54    . and such makings he called workings. not those who do. to have thought that work was never any disgrace at all. and that which is his own. while admitting that the making anything might sometimes become a disgrace.' and then says that there is no reason why those who do the business of others should not be temperate. and be a little plainer. would agree. is not to be supposed: but I conceive him to have distinguished making from doing and work. for I am no stranger to the endless distinctions which Prodicus draws about names. but what you are saying. but there may be a difficulty on his who proposes as a definition of temperance. if you will only tell me what you mean by them. and doings. or sitting for hire in a house of ill-fame? That. No objection on my part. Nay (The English reader has to observe that the word 'make' (Greek). Please then to begin again. he said. just now. or whatever is the word which you would use. of good actions. those who make. than making or working are the same. he said. and what is hurtful. is the point at issue.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  They make or do that of others also. not what I think. No matter whether I should or not. O Critias. I said. in the manufacture of shoes. he replied. For things nobly and usefully made he called works. Do you mean that this doing or making. and. And are they temperate.' Now do you imagine that if he had meant by working and doing such things as you were describing. has also the sense of 'do' (Greek). may be reasonably supposed to call him wise who does his own work.). is temperate? Yes. who says that 'work is no disgrace. do you mean to say that doing and making are not the same? No more. said he. is temperance? I do. no sooner had you opened your mouth. and that the makings (Greek) of the good you would call doings (Greek). not his business: and in that sense Hesiod.

The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Well. but I wish that you would tell me whether a physician who cures a patient may do good to himself and good to another also? I think that he may. and I am not ashamed to confess that I was in error. and therefore if this is. and yet. he said. I said. he answered. as would seem. and not evil: for temperance I define in plain words to be the doing of good actions. I will withdraw them. and that he is temperate who does good. as you imply. as you say. For self-knowledge would certainly be maintained by me to be the very essence of knowledge. is impossible. is not temperate. And yet were you not saying. he has done temperately or wisely. he may sometimes do good or harm. but not know his own wisdom or temperance? But that. and in this I agree with him who dedicated the inscription. but what is your drift? I have no particular drift. Socrates. in doing good. And you may be very likely right in what you are saying. Then. But must the physician necessarily know when his treatment is likely to prove beneficial. rather than admit that a man can be temperate or wise who does not know himself. Was not that your statement? Yes. and not good. And does not he who does his duty act temperately or wisely? Yes. if I am 55    . and when not to be benefited. by the work which he is doing? I suppose not. he said. that he who does evil. just now. as well as in doing their own? I was. he acts wisely. he may act wisely or temperately. but I am curious to know whether you imagine that temperate men are ignorant of their own temperance? I do not think so. and when not? or must the craftsman necessarily know when he is likely to be benefited. in doing good. that craftsmen might be temperate in doing another's work. he replied. 'Know thyself!' at Delphi. And he who does so does his duty? Yes. That word. and not know what he is himself doing. the necessary consequence of any of my previous admissions. and be wise or temperate. Then. I mean to say.

Is not medicine. and that the exhortation 'Be temperate!' would be a far better way of saluting one another. just because I do not know. which. which is this science of health. or wisdom. and succeeding sages who added 'Never too much. worthy of the name wise. which is the science of itself. that temperance is self-knowledge. I should answer that medicine is of very great use in producing health. he said. and evil is nigh at hand. For tell me. Yes. and to raise a new one in which I will attempt to prove. Socrates. what result is there of computation or geometry. any more than they are like one another: but you proceed as if they were alike. or wisdom. as I maintain. and not his salutation of the worshippers at their first coming in. is the science of itself. must be a science.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  not mistaken. he said. and yet they may be easily misunderstood. which all have their different results. that I were asked by you what is the use or effect of medicine. And suppose. Socrates. effect? Answer me.' would appear to have so misunderstood them. but. 'Give a pledge. Yes. and as though I could. I replied. is put there as a sort of salutation which the god addresses to those who enter the temple. what is the result or effect of architecture. for 'Know thyself!' and 'Be temperate!' are the same. in the same sense as a house is the result of 56    . which. Critias. does temperance or wisdom. Granted. he said. he said. that the god speaks to those who enter his temple. not as men speak. according to you. as I believe. for they imagined that 'Know thyself!' was a piece of advice which the god gave. no clear result was attained). as you will admit. The notion of him who dedicated the inscription was. the science of health? True. as much as to say that the ordinary salutation of 'Hail!' is not right. but. like a prophet he expresses in a sort of riddle. And if you were to ask me. I said. I will say whether I agree with you or not. Please then to allow me time to reflect. if you deny. the science of itself. and when I have enquired. I should say houses. at any rate. Shall I tell you. I am reflecting. for wisdom is not like the other sciences. Now I want you. which is the science of building. and discover that temperance. when a worshipper enters. That is not the true way of pursuing the enquiry. agree with you. to answer a similar question about temperance. and as the letters imply (Greek). I ask of you. Critias. the first word which he hears is 'Be temperate!' This. if implying a knowledge of anything. but you come to me as though I professed to know about the questions which I ask. Admitting this view. and so of other arts. Whereas the fact is that I enquire with you into the truth of that which is advanced from time to time. is an excellent effect. I said. and they dedicated their own inscription under the idea that they too would give equally useful pieces of advice. however. Reflect. what good work. I said. and a science of something.' or. why I say all this? My object is to leave the previous discussion (in which I know not whether you or I are more right. if I only would.

I mean to say that wisdom is the only science which is the science of itself as well as of the other sciences. never minding whether Critias or Socrates is the person refuted. And what if I am? How can you think that I have any other motive in refuting you but what I should have in examining into myself? which motive would be just a fear of my unconsciously fancying that I knew something of which I was ignorant. For is not the discovery of things as they truly are. I think that you are right. and perhaps in some degree also for the sake of my other friends. attend only to the argument. and not of themselves. a good common to all mankind? Yes. and I will do as you say. what is that which is not wisdom. as I believe. he said. has to do with lighter and heavier. and of which wisdom is the science? You are just falling into the old error. but still each of these sciences has a subject which is different from the science. The art of weighing. Now. Is not that true? Yes. he replied. Socrates. he said. but the art of weighing is one thing.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  building. what you mean to affirm about wisdom. again. or any other work of any other art? Can you show me any such result of them? You cannot. you are very well aware: and that you are only doing what you denied that you were doing just now. Then. he said. I want to know. for all the other sciences are of something else. instead of pursuing the argument. Socrates. You come asking in what wisdom or temperance differs from the other sciences. I said. I said. be cheerful. 57    . and see what will come of the refutation. I can show you that the art of computation has to do with odd and even numbers in their numerical relations to themselves and to each other. And the odd and even numbers are not the same with the art of computation? They are not. trying to refute me. Do you admit that? Yes. then. or a garment of weaving. And of this. sweet sir. and the heavy and the light another. That is true. I said. Tell me. and of itself. wisdom alone is a science of other sciences. And at this moment I pursue the argument chiefly for my own sake. certainly. but they are not. and give your opinion in answer to the question which I asked. and then you try to discover some respect in which they are alike.

I said. 58    . if true. he said. and fancy that they know. whether. Now then. amount to this: that there must be a single science which is wholly a science of itself and of other sciences. will also be the science of the absence of science. But consider how monstrous this proposition is. and ask. Or is there a kind of hearing which hears no sound at all. and be able to examine what he knows or does not know.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  But the science of science. but only itself and other sorts of vision: Do you think that there is such a kind of vision? Certainly not. and that the same is also the science of the absence of science? Yes. and he only. and of the defect of them. and what he does not know. let us begin again. I said. the impossibility will be transparent to you. Then the wise or temperate man. if perfectly possible. Very true. I hope that you will find a way out of a difficulty into which I have got myself. such knowledge is of any use. And this is wisdom and temperance and self-knowledge—for a man to know what he knows. and in the second place. he replied. or the defects of them? There is not. and to see what others know and think that they know and do really know. How is that? and in what cases do you mean? In such cases as this: Suppose that there is a kind of vision which is not like ordinary vision. whether it is or is not possible for a person to know that he knows and does not know what he knows and does not know. he said. Critias. That is what we have to consider. but only itself and other sorts of hearing. but a vision of itself and of other sorts of vision. which in seeing sees no colour. and what they do not know. That is your meaning? Yes. when they do not. And here. Does not what you have been saying. I said. Shall I tell you the nature of the difficulty? By all means. he said. my friend: in any parallel case. making an offering of the third or last argument to Zeus the Saviour. in the first place. No other person will be able to do this. will know himself.

as any other relative differs from the object of relation. but has no object of fear? I never did. having no subject-matter. but of itself. and which has no opinion on the subjects of opinion in general? Certainly not. but of itself and of other loves? I should not. lighter. and is of a nature to be a science of something? Yes. let us rather consider the matter. Well then. Or of an opinion which is an opinion of itself and of other opinions. But how strange is this. but only for itself and all other wishes? I should answer. and of all other desires? Certainly not. Could there be any desire which is not the desire of any pleasure.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Or take all the senses: can you imagine that there is any sense of itself and of other senses. which. Or can you imagine a wish which wishes for no good. he said. that is what is affirmed. and the like—a relation to self as well as to other things involves an absolute contradiction. No. but which is incapable of perceiving the objects of the senses? I think not. is a science of itself and of the other sciences? Yes. heavier. But surely we are assuming a science of this kind. But where there is comparison—greater. You are quite right. Or would you say that there is a love which is not the love of beauty. Just as that which is greater is of a nature to be greater than something else? (Socrates is intending to show that science differs from the object of science. and in other cases. if it be indeed true: we must not however as yet absolutely deny the possibility of such a science. less. as in the case of the 59    . this science of which we are speaking is a science of something. Or did you ever know of a fear which fears itself or other fears.

The use of the genitive after the comparative in Greek. that hearing is. in the case of magnitudes.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  senses. Critias. is the inevitable inference. for example. And sight also. as we say. that which has a nature relative to self will retain also the nature of its object: I mean to say. and the power of heat to burn. but perhaps not by others. and that which is heavier will also be lighter. Is that true? Yes. of sound or voice. and greater than other great things. No. for sight cannot see that which has no colour. (Greek). whether there is nothing which has an inherent property of relation to self. creates an unavoidable obscurity in the translation. Or if there be a double which is double of itself and of other doubles. this relation to self will be regarded as incredible by some. And some great man. is hardly conceivable. Certainly. these will be halves. numbers. that in several of the examples which have been recited the notion of a relation to self is altogether inadmissible. who will satisfactorily determine for us. it must hear a voice. for the double is relative to the half? That is true. But in the case of hearing and sight.) Yes. he said. And if we could find something which is at once greater than itself. and whether in this class 60    . but not greater than those things in comparison of which the others are greater. for example. Then if hearing hears itself. or in the power of self-motion. for there is no other way of hearing. if the other is conceived to be greater? To be sure. Which is less. or some things only and not others. and in other cases hardly credible—inadmissible. And that which is greater than itself will also be less. my friend. and the like? Very true. then that thing would have the property of being greater and also less than itself? That. if it sees itself must see a colour. and that which is older will also be younger: and the same of other things. Socrates. Do you remark. is wanted. my excellent friend.

as you maintain that temperance or wisdom is a science of science. and then perhaps you may satisfy me that you are right in your view of temperance. But as he had a reputation to maintain. And therefore. I said. will know himself. I do not doubt. if there be such a class. I should not acknowledge this to be wisdom or temperance. of such a science. when he possesses that which has selfknowledge: but what necessity is there that. 61    . he said. just that. having this. and that I think is certainly true: for he who has this science or knowledge which knows itself will become like the knowledge which he has. Socrates. they are the same. and as one person when another yawns in his presence catches the infection of yawning from him. But is knowledge or want of knowledge of health the same as knowledge or want of knowledge of justice? Certainly not. for I have an impression that temperance is a benefit and a good. Admitting the existence of it. and he who has knowledge will know. and in the second place. In order that the argument might proceed. the possibility. and even if there be. What do you mean? he said. I altogether distrust my own power of determining these matters: I am not certain whether there is such a science of science at all. until I can also see whether such a science would or would not do us any good. which. and also of the absence of science. Well then Critias. that a man will know himself. I said. for still I fail to comprehend how this knowing what you know and do not know is the same as the knowledge of self. Critias heard me say this. he was ashamed to admit before the company that he could not answer my challenge or determine the question at issue. and he made an unintelligible attempt to hide his perplexity. in the same way that he who has swiftness will be swift. will you tell me how such a science enables us to distinguish what we know or do not know. I replied: I will admit that there is a science of science. In the same way he who has that knowledge which is self-knowing. O son of Callaeschrus. the advantage. and he who has beauty will be beautiful.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  of self-related things. I said to him. Very likely. as we were saying. but I remain as stupid as ever. he should know what he knows and what he does not know? Because. that science which is called wisdom or temperance is included. This is what I mean.—can this do more than determine that of two things one is and the other is not science or knowledge? No. I will request you to show in the first place. let us assume that there is this science of science. Socrates. if you like. is self-knowledge or wisdom: so we were saying? Yes. whether the assumption is right or wrong may hereafter be investigated. so did he seem to be driven into a difficulty by my difficulty. and saw that I was in a difficulty. as I was saying before.

The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  The one is medicine. but the art of medicine has taught it to him. nor between any other true and false professor of knowledge. Then he who has this knowledge will not be able to examine whether a pretender knows or does not know that which he says that he knows: he will only know that he has a knowledge of some kind. and building from the art of building. regarded only as a knowledge of knowledge or science of science. Very true. Then wisdom or being wise appears to be not the knowledge of the things which we do or do not know. and has no further knowledge of health and justice. whereas that of which we are speaking is knowledge pure and simple.—and he has learned harmony from the art of music. and the other is politics. whether concerning himself or other men. how will he proceed? He will not talk to him about medicine. Then how will this knowledge or science teach him to know what he knows? Say that he knows health. is the only thing which the physician understands. True. but wisdom will not show him of what the knowledge is? Plainly not. but not what he knows? True. ever teach him that he knows health. 62    .—neither. That is evident. Then he who is ignorant of these things will only know that he knows. Neither will he be able to distinguish the pretender in medicine from the true physician. but only the knowledge that we know or do not know? That is the inference. as we were saying. Let us consider the matter in this way: If the wise man or any other man wants to distinguish the true physician from the false.—not wisdom or temperance. and that. And if a man knows only. and has only knowledge of knowledge. from wisdom or temperance: and the same of other things. and has a certain knowledge. True. the probability is that he will only know that he knows something. How will wisdom. or that he knows building? It is impossible.

What is the subject-matter? For the several sciences are distinguished not by the mere fact that they are sciences. he would have to be a physician as well as a wise man. Then. assuredly. except the physician can have this knowledge. Exactly. and whether what he does is right. but when he wants to discover the nature of this he will ask. Is not that true? Quite true. Then the wise man may indeed know that the physician has some kind of science or knowledge. for this has been assumed to be the province of wisdom. in relation to health and disease? He will. on the other hand. wisdom or temperance. True. And he who judges rightly will judge of the physician as a physician in what relates to these? He will. it would seem. He will consider whether what he says is true. No one at all. and of the absence of science or knowledge. Very true. if only a science of science. we must infer that he does not know anything of medicine. since medicine is science. but by the nature of their subjects. And he who would enquire into the nature of medicine must pursue the enquiry into health and disease. And medicine is distinguished from other sciences as having the subject-matter of health and disease? Yes. and therefore not the wise man. And further. will not be able to distinguish the physician who knows from one who does not know 63    .The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  And. the physician knows nothing of science. and not into what is extraneous? True. But can any one attain the knowledge of either unless he have a knowledge of medicine? He cannot.

because. viewed in this new light merely as a knowledge of knowledge and ignorance.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  but pretends or thinks that he knows. would do us much good. such as this. he said. I said. if this is wisdom? If. for truth guiding. How so? he said. and everything else of which wisdom was the lord. whereas the enquirer who is without this knowledge may be supposed to have a feebler and weaker insight? Are not these. men would have done well. I am doubtful. and error having been eliminated. and to recognize a similar faculty of discernment in others. if you please. has this advantage:—that he who possesses such knowledge will more easily learn anything which he learns. the wise man had been able to distinguish what he knew and did not know. Was not this. Let us. my friend. and the house or state which was ordered or administered under the guidance of wisdom. I perceive. but have passed through life the unerring guides of ourselves and of those who are under us. as was originally suggested. and this also will better enable him to test the knowledge which others have of what he knows himself. still. as we were supposing at first. indeed. what we spoke of as the great advantage of wisdom—to know what is known and what is unknown to us? Very true. he sees the science. because I observe that if this is wisdom. and no one else. but we should have found out those who knew. as I am led to infer. upon further consideration. would have been well ordered. And now you perceive. in addition to the knowledge of individuals. and further admit and allow. or any other professor of anything at all. that wisdom is the knowledge of what we know and do not know. too. and have handed the business over to them and trusted in them. that wisdom. and very likely. I said. like any other artist. I think. the real advantages which are to be gained from wisdom? And are not we looking and seeking after something more than is to be found in her? That is very likely. there would certainly have been a great advantage in being wise. May we assume then. and would have been happy. in all their doings. in supposing. whether wisdom. and we should not have attempted to do what we did not know. assume the possibility of this science of sciences. as we were saying just now. That is very likely. Critias. But then what profit. and they would be likely to do well just that of which they had knowledge. some strange consequences would follow. I said. For we were wrong. Critias. he said. that no such science is to be found anywhere. 64    . That is evident. we have been enquiring to no purpose. he said. and that everything will be clearer to him. nor should we have allowed those who were under us to do anything which they were not likely to do well. Assuming all this. I said. and that he knew the one and did not know the other. for then we should never have made a mistake. Critias. he will only know his fellow in art or wisdom. is there any longer in wisdom or temperance which yet remains. that such wisdom ordering the government of house or state would be a great benefit. he said.

will be assured. or any one else pretending to know matters of which he is ignorant. then. Socrates! By the dog of Egypt. and that she will deter deceivers and set up the true prophets in their place as the revealers of the future. I cannot tell. there I agree with you. The dream is this: Let us suppose that wisdom is such as we are now defining. our health will be improved. will deceive or elude us. and no one professing to be a pilot when he is not. he cannot let the thought which comes into his mind pass away unheeded and unexamined. thus provided. our coats and shoes. I said. Just answer me that small question. Yet I think. I said. Were we not right in making that admission? I think not. we were far too ready to admit the great benefits which mankind would obtain from their severally doing the things which they knew. will be under the control of wisdom. and also in battle. you may suppose that prophecy. which is the knowledge of the future. I dare say that what I am saying is nonsense. and that she has absolute sway over us. and committing the things of which they are ignorant to those who were better acquainted with them. and if you please. would live and act according to knowledge.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Why. How very strange. then each action will be done according to the arts or sciences. Or of working in brass? 65    . Now I quite agree that mankind. you will hardly find the crown of happiness in anything else. and all other instruments and implements will be skilfully made. or any physician or general. whether coming through the horn or the ivory gate. our safety at sea. my dear Critias. Do you mean a knowledge of shoemaking? God forbid. But whether by acting according to knowledge we shall act well and be happy. for wisdom would watch and prevent ignorance from intruding on us. Hear. he said. he replied. I wish that you could make me understand what you mean. I certainly cannot make out what good this sort of thing does to us. What do you mean? he said. for however ready we may be to admit that this is wisdom. that if you discard knowledge.—this is a point which we have not yet been able to determine. I said. and that I was afraid we were on the wrong track. my own dream. Aye. and I was thinking as much just now when I said that strange consequences would follow. I like that. But of what is this knowledge? I said. and yet if a man has any feeling of what is due to himself. because the workmen will be good and true. I replied.

if you take away this. Then. or future thing? May I infer this to be the knowledge of the game of draughts? Nonsense about the game of draughts. Yes. I said. he replied. some one who knows the past and present as well as the future. and is ignorant of nothing. but one science only. not even if knowledge include all the sciences. and all this time hiding from me the fact that the life according to knowledge is not that which makes men act rightly and be happy. who. Let us suppose that there is such a person. that of good and evil. and yet they are not allowed by you to be happy. But which most tends to make him happy? the knowledge of what past. Is it of him you are speaking or of some one else? Yes. medicine will not equally give health. whether. Critias. knows the future. for these live according to knowledge. I mean him. but I think that you mean to confine happiness to particular individuals who live according to knowledge. but there are others as well. And that knowledge which is nearest of all. Or in wool. let me ask you. I do not. Monster! I said. Certainly he is. such for example as the prophet. and shoemaking equally 66    . Or of computation? No. For. I said. is the knowledge of what? The knowledge with which he discerns good and evil.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Certainly not. present. and if there is. or wood. he said. you have been carrying me round in a circle. I said. you will allow that he is the most knowing of all living men. or anything of that sort? No. Or of health? That is nearer the truth. as I was saying. Yet I should like to know one thing more: which of the different kinds of knowledge makes him happy? or do all equally make him happy? Not all equally. we are giving up the doctrine that he who lives according to knowledge is happy.

and the art of the general in war? Quite so. for that again we have just now been attributing to another art. will not wisdom be of use? For. if I had been good for anything at an enquiry. but of good and evil: and if this be of use. but a science of human advantage. Nor does wisdom give advantage. The art of health is different. But now I have been utterly defeated. And why. my dear Critias. And will wisdom give health? I said. not a science of other sciences. my good friend. and have failed to discover what that is to which the imposer of names gave this name of temperance or wisdom.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  produce shoes. for that which is admitted to be the best of all things would never have seemed to us useless. And yet. I was quite right in depreciating myself. however much we assume that wisdom is a science of sciences. if the science of the good be wanting.—do they not each of them do their own work? Have we not long ago asseverated that wisdom is only the knowledge of knowledge and of ignorance. surely she will have this particular science of the good under her control. and the art of the weaver clothes?—whether the art of the pilot will not equally save our lives at sea. is certainly inconceivable. Very true. and has a sway over other sciences. different. Then wisdom will not be the producer of health. and of nothing else? That is obvious. True. How then can wisdom be advantageous. You see then. Yes. and in this way will benefit us. is not this rather the effect of medicine? Or does wisdom do the work of any of the other arts. he replied. then wisdom or temperance will not be of use. none of these things will be well or beneficially done. And yet many more admissions were made by us than 67    . But that science is not wisdom or temperance. Critias. when giving no advantage? That. that I was not far wrong in fearing that I could have no sound notion about wisdom. Certainly not. or of ignorance. Socrates.

the impossibility of a man knowing in a sort of way that which he does not know at all. the enquiry is still unable to discover the truth. for our assumption was. if you allow yourself to be charmed by Socrates. and happy are you. and see whether you have this gift and can do without the charm. and to so little profit. if you certainly possess it. and begin this very day. And still more am I grieved about the charm which I learned with so much pain. than which nothing. but mocks us to a degree. he replied. for the sake of a thing which is nothing worth. 68    . can be more irrational. And I do command you. Socrates. and to rest assured that the more wise and temperate you are. I should be very wrong not to obey you. the happier you will be. and that I must be a bad enquirer. whether I have or have not this gift of wisdom and temperance. since he orders me. for if you can. that this science knew the works of the other sciences (although this too was denied by the argument). Charmides. for how can I know whether I have a thing. that is. I shall be willing to be charmed by you daily. and therefore you had better consider well. of which even you and Critias are. from the Thracian. should have no profit or good in life from your wisdom and temperance. And are you about to use violence. I am very sorry—that you. that I do need the charm. as I think. also we nobly disregarded. said Charmides. I said.The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  could be fairly granted.) And further. is not so much to be lamented. we have conspired already. when violence is employed. and never even considered. I would rather advise you to regard me simply as a fool who is never able to reason out anything. and we admitted further. and you. Socrates. Charmides. are irresistible. until you say that I have had enough. Then I will do as you say. that he knows that which he does not know. if you do this I shall have a proof of your temperance. Wherefore examine yourself. And yet. I shall use violence. Charmides said: I am sure that I do not know. You may depend on my following and not deserting him. Charmides. and never desert him at all. as far as I am concerned. what are you conspiring about? We are not conspiring. and protested against us. as you say. But for your sake. But the time for consideration has passed. and has gone out of its way to prove the inutility of that which we admitted only by a sort of supposition and fiction to be the true definition of temperance or wisdom: which result. You sirs. unable to discover the nature?—(not that I believe you. although the argument said No. and in the mood of violence. because we wanted to show that the wise man had knowledge of what he knew and did not know. I said. for wisdom or temperance I believe to be really a great good. I said. having such beauty and such wisdom and temperance of soul. Very good. when you are determined on anything. he said. said Critias. for we admitted that there was a science of science. said Charmides: if you who are my guardian command me. I am sure. without even going through the forms of justice? Yes. I think indeed that there is a mistake. and as far as I am concerned. after finding us so easy and good-natured.

The Dialogues of Plato: Charmides  Do not you resist me then. 69    . he said. I replied. I will not resist you.

org Title: Cratylus Author: Plato Translator: B. and David Widger CRATYLUS By Plato Translated by Benjamin Jowett Contents 70    . You may copy it. Jowett Release Date: September 26. give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  The Project Gutenberg EBook of Cratylus. by Plato This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. 2008 [EBook #1616] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CRATYLUS *** Produced by Sue Asscher.

In the Phaedrus and Euthydemus we also find a difficulty in determining the precise aim of the author. and many points which are now attributed to the extravagance of Socrates' humour would have been found. For the theory of language can only be propounded by him in a manner which is consistent with his own profession of ignorance. or terms by which they might be expressed. We need not suppose that Plato used words in order to conceal his thoughts. The Cratylus has always been a source of perplexity to the student of Plato. or some other Heracleitean of the fourth century B. Hence his ridicule of the new school of etymology is interspersed with many declarations 'that he knows nothing. and many questions were beginning to be asked about language which were parallel to other questions about justice. and perfection of style and metaphysical originality. like the allusions of Aristophanes in the Clouds. 2nd. knowledge. in this.' we should have understood Plato better. or that he would have been unintelligible to an educated contemporary. and were illustrated in a similar manner by the analogy of the arts. this dialogue may be ranked with the best of the Platonic writings. allowance has to be made for the character of Socrates. Was there a correctness in words.C. virtue. and now they were beginning to ask themselves whether the expression might not be distinguished from the idea? They were also seeking to distinguish the parts of speech and to enquire into the relation of subject and predicate. or the speculations of Cratylus.' and the like. Had the treatise of Antisthenes upon words.. to have gone home to the sophists and grammarians of the day.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  INTRODUCTION. the difficulty of reproducing a state of life and literature which has passed away. on the nature of language been preserved to us. Of these beginnings of the study of language we know little. like that of other satirical writers. and were they given by nature or convention? In the presocratic philosophy mankind had been striving to attain an expression of their ideas. For the age was very busy with philological speculation. Even the truest things 71    . the subtlety and allusiveness of this species of composition. and been 'rich enough to attend the fifty-drachma course of Prodicus. CRATYLUS INTRODUCTION. but they were not yet awakened into consciousness and had not found names for themselves. there has been an uncertainty about the motive of the piece. or if we had lived at the time. Grammar and logic were moving about somewhere in the depths of the human soul. Two causes may be assigned for this obscurity: 1st. and there necessarily arises an obscurity when the surroundings of such a work as the Cratylus are taken away. Plato wrote satires in the form of dialogues. While in fancy and humour. A satire is unmeaning unless we can place ourselves back among the persons and thoughts of the age in which it was written. which interpreters have hitherto not succeeded in dispelling. Moreover. as in most of the dialogues of Plato. has often slept in the ear of posterity.' 'that he has learned from Euthyphro. and his meaning.

or that Plato.. To have determined beforehand. principles of philology which are unsurpassed in any ancient writer. which is the soul of the dialogue. which he acknowledges to be imperfect? or does he mean to imply that a perfect language can only be based on his own theory of ideas? Or if this latter explanation is refuted by his silence. nor should his works be tried by any such standard. See Phaedrus. He wanders on from one topic to another. and is he serious in those fanciful etymologies. which is a thesis strongly insisted on by Plato in many other passages). had any other aim than that of personifying. May we suppose that Plato. Hermogenes and Cratylus. or spectator. and may be moulded into any form. Protagoras. the nature and limits of the subject. and still less from Scholiasts and Neoplatonist writers. Introduction.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  which he says are depreciated by himself. like Lucian. as in a modern didactic treatise. The dialogue hardly derives any light from Plato's other writings. Laches. nor the truth wholly the property of any. or his relation to the two other interlocutors in the dialogue. which he seems so greatly to relish? Or is he serious in part only. extending over more than half the dialogue. such as we appear to find in a Greek temple or statue. Meno. Socrates must be interpreted from himself. careless of the unity of his work. and can we separate his jest from his earnest?—Sunt bona. not fearing any 'judge. 'whither the argument blows we follow' (Rep. would have been fatal to the spirit of enquiry or discovery. Does he agree with Cratylus or with Hermogenes. The two subordinate persons of the dialogue.).These remarks are applicable to nearly all the works of Plato. but the guesses of Plato are better than all the other theories of the ancients respecting language put together. And in the Cratylus we have no reason to assume that Socrates is either wholly right or wholly wrong. Charmides. sunt quaedum mediocria. but to the Cratylus and Phaedrus more than any others. He professes to be guessing. has been amusing his fancy by writing a comedy in the form of a prose dialogue? And what is the final result of the enquiry? Is Plato an upholder of the conventional theory of language. There is another aspect under which some of the dialogues of Plato may be more truly viewed:—they are dramatic sketches of an argument. and yet among them are found.. and on first reading we certainly have a difficulty in understanding his drift. Most of them are ridiculously bad. Socrates. We have found that in the Lysis. But after a while the disciple of the Sophist and the follower of Heracleitus are found to be not so far removed from one another as at first sight appeared.).). the three theories of language which are respectively maintained by them.These are some of the first thoughts which arise in the mind of the reader of the Cratylus. though he evidently inclines to him. His idea of literary art is not the absolute proportion of the whole. then in what relation does his account of language stand to the rest of his philosophy? Or may we be so bold as to deny the connexion between them? (For the allusion to the ideas at the end of the dialogue is merely intended to show that we must not put words in the place of things or realities. but the victory was not distinctly attributed to any of them. and Cratylus. sunt mala plura. and even in advance of any philologer of the last century.. as if by accident. and both show an inclination to 72    .. We must not expect all the parts of a dialogue of Plato to tend equally to some clearly-defined end. are at the opposite poles of the argument. in the characters of Hermogenes. They have often the beauty of poetry. And the consideration of them may form a convenient introduction to the general subject of the dialogue. but they have also the freedom of conversation. who may recall him to the point' (Theat. we arrived at no conclusion—the different sides of the argument were personified in the different speakers. 'Words are more plastic than wax' (Rep.

they may be given and altered at pleasure. to the speculations of Socrates. for nature is not opposed either to art or to law. He is inclined to derive all truth from language. like the names of slaves. In a sense. First. They are the expressions or imitations in sound of things. (Compare Theaet.) Of the real Cratylus we know nothing. when he says that 'the legislator made language with the dialectician standing on his right hand. and listens with a sort of half admiration. that 'languages are not made. a word is either the perfect expression of a thing. and are well made when they have a 73    . This is one of those principles which. explains everything and nothing. It is a work not of chance. whether applied to society or language. Language is conventional and also natural. expounds the doctrine that names are conventional. Hermogenes. just as conceptualism is the meeting-point of nominalism and realism. Some words have had their original meaning so obscured. according to Hellenic notions. We can hardly say that Plato was aware of the truth. But vocal imitation. may be imperfectly executed. nor have we any proof that he resembled the likeness of him in Plato any more than the Critias of Plato is like the real Critias. except that he is recorded by Aristotle to have been the friend or teacher of Plato. although he is described as still a young man. He is unable to conceive of degrees of imitation. all combine in the formation of language. Words are works of art which may be equally made in different materials. he is merely the Eponymus of the State. may be described as the conventional. and the true conventional-natural is the rational.' But still. like virtue in the Republic. art. Hermogenes is very ready to throw aside the sophistical tenet. half belief. His views are not like those of Hermogenes. chance. and the philosopher is his natural advisor. and ultimately tends to abolish the distinction between truth and falsehood. and the natural. language. but are said to be the result of mature consideration. With a tenacity characteristic of the Heracleitean philosophers. in the dialogue which is called after him. The view of Socrates is the meeting-point of the other two. Thus nature. Socrates first of all intimates to Hermogenes that his view of language is only a part of a sophistical whole. which have both of them a sophistical character. for while wanting to rest language on an immutable basis. like any other copy.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  accept the third view which Socrates interposes between them. The creator of laws and of social life is naturally regarded as the creator of language. For in all things there is an element of convention. to be issued from the mint of the State. and in this way an element of chance or convention enters in. or a mere inarticulate sound (a fallacy which is still prevalent among theorizers about the origin of language). the dialectician is the artificer of words. We are not to suppose that the legislator is performing any extraordinary function. like coins. Cratylus is of opinion that a name is either a true name or not a name at all. the poor brother of the rich Callias. or the Euthyphro in this dialogue like the other Euthyphro. the diviner. and in language he sees reflected the philosophy of Heracleitus. he clings to the doctrine of the flux. He is at once a philosopher and a sophist. There is much which is accidental or exceptional in language. but of art. Cratylus. that they require to be helped out by convention. hastily taken up. But still the true name is that which has a natural meaning. which is in a manner the union of the two. who prescribes rules for the dialectician and for all other artists. Socrates. the view of Socrates is introduced. he would deny the possibility of falsehood. the artificial or rational. and the legislator gives authority to them. is examined by the analogy of the arts.' we need not infer from this that he conceived words. And the three views respectively propounded by Hermogenes. Between these two extremes. but the admission of this does not help us to understand the rational ground or basis in human nature on which the convention proceeds. but grow. According to a truly Platonic mode of approaching the subject. Cratylus is right in saying that things have by nature names.

The fallacies of the Euthydemus are still retained at the end of our logic books. but upon the flux of Heracleitus. or when he describes himself as inspired or maddened by Euthyphro. There he is parodying the ingenious follies of early logic. in which the irony is preserved to the very end. (Compare Phaedrus. and other critics of the last century. as he has begun. Plato had probably no very definite notion. The jest is a long one. the extravagance of some of his etymologies. Some of these are not much worse than the conjectures of Hemsterhuis. he would have said. At the end of the dialogue. Phaedr. that Plato's theory of language is not inconsistent with the rest of his philosophy. Plato expressly draws attention to the want of agreement in words and things. We do not deny that Socrates is partly in jest and partly in earnest. Of the process which he thus describes. with whom he has been sitting from the early dawn (compare Phaedrus and Lysias. would have substantially agreed. with a rational explanation of language. in general. and is only indulging the fancy of the hour. But then. that the view of Socrates is not the less Plato's own. Rousseau. 1. Socrates ends. fast and furious. in which he attempts to realize abstractions. in the Introduction to future dialogues. as much as he is in his conception of mythology. For Plato is in advance of his age in his conception of language. 2nd. but he never supposed that they were capable of being embodied in words. the manner in which the fun. we remember that the Euthydemus is a still longer jest. that he is not in earnest. A better conception of language could not have been formed in Plato's age. that we know nothing. but this does not prove that they are serious. Hence we are led to infer. and to-morrow he will go to a priest and be purified. Yet many persons have thought that the mind of Plato is more truly seen in the vague realism of Cratylus. This misconception has probably arisen from two causes: first. Still he preserves his 'know nothing' disguise. and himself declares 74    . about the names of Hector's son. When he is arguing out of Homer. He is discoursing in a highflown vein. Here. we easily see that his words are not to be taken seriously.' They are mysteries of which he is speaking. (See introductions to the Meno and the Sophist.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  meaning. But he means to express generally that language is the product of intelligence. remind us strongly of the Phaedrus. 2. because not based upon the ideas.) And in the Cratylus he gives a general account of the nature and origin of language. and. in the Cratylus he is ridiculing the fancies of a new school of sophists and grammarians. than that which he attributes to Socrates. as in the Sophist and Politicus.) and expresses his intention of yielding to the illusion to-day. Of the names of the ideas. the impression created by Socrates himself. he speaks as in the Symposium and Republic of absolute beauty and good. in which Adam Smith. and other writers of the last century. which may be compared to the 'dithyrambics of the Phaedrus. We shall have occasion to show more at length. and that they are replaced in his later writings by a rational theory of psychology. extending over more than half the dialogue. as he says of the names of the Gods. and that languages belong to States and not to individuals. the desire to bring Plato's theory of language into accordance with the received doctrine of the Platonic ideas. that the socalled Platonic ideas are only a semi-mythical form. and he professes a kind of ludicrous fear of his imaginary wisdom. and the etymologies of the Cratylus have also found their way into later writers. the pretended derivation of his wisdom from another. Even the realism of Cratylus is not based upon the ideas of Plato. secondly. vires acquirit eundo.) When the fervour of his etymological enthusiasm has abated. In this part of the dialogue his dread of committing impiety.

to be formative principles. sometimes enveloping in a blaze of jests the most serious matters. Having explained compound words by resolving them into their original elements. and then. he also recognises the effect of time. or principle of names? After illustrating the nature of correctness by the analogy of the arts. and would have been regarded by him as in the main true. as Benfey remarks. Such were Aristophanes and Rabelais. or correctness. enjoying the flow of his own humour. We can imagine a character having a profound insight into the nature of men and things. as in the Republic. and puzzling mankind by an ironical exaggeration of their absurdities. such. Such is the character which Plato intends to depict in some of his dialogues as the Silenus Socrates. Socrates shows that the truth or correctness of names can only be ascertained by an appeal to etymology. fourfold interpretations of words. he has heard. and through this medium we have to receive our theory of language. from another: no one is more surprised than himself at his own discoveries. But why does he admit etymologies which are absurd. The Socrates who 'knows nothing. or again. the desire of euphony.—writers who sometimes become unintelligible through the extravagance of their fancies. or of the permutations of letters. There is nothing in this part of the dialogue which is either weak or extravagant. occur among these flights of humour. The theory of language which is propounded in the Cratylus is in accordance with the later phase of the philosophy of Plato. Or that he has any Eleatic speculation to oppose to the Heracleiteanism of Cratylus. which is evidently the main thesis of the dialogue: What is the truth. in order that the truth may be permitted to appear: 2. Socrates in pursuit of his vocation as a detector of false knowledge. the influence of foreign languages. Jean Paul. as he says in the Phaedrus. he supposes words to be formed by the imitation of ideas in sounds. in a different style. The truth of names is to be found in the analysis of their elements. ironically appealing to the authority of the Homeric poems. and he admits a certain element of chance. Plato is a supporter of the Onomatopoetic theory of language. he now proceeds to analyse simple words into the letters of which they are composed. about the parody of Euthyphro. There remains a difficulty which seems to demand a more exact answer: In what relation does the satirical or etymological portion of the dialogue stand to the serious? Granting all that can be said about the provoking irony of Socrates. Hamann. an erroneous example may illustrate a principle of 75    . The answer to this difficulty has been already anticipated in part: Socrates is not a dogmatic teacher.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  his first notions about names to be reckless and ridiculous. based on Heracleitean fancies. or Antisthenes. the arranger of species. blending inextricably sense and nonsense. and therefore he puts on this wild and fanciful disguise. as for example his view of the derivation of Greek words from other languages. he is dreaming. The dialogue is also a satire on the philological fancies of the day. how does the long catalogue of etymologies furnish any answer to the question of Hermogenes. that is to say. or Prodicus. But he gives no imitation in all this that he is preparing the way for the construction of an ideal language. his observation that in speaking of the Gods we are only speaking of our names of them. He is guessing. and yet hardly dwelling upon them seriously. lights by accident on the truth. were Sterne. impossible unions and separations of syllables and letters? 1.' here passes into the teacher. and then again allowing the truth to peer through. the dialectician. And yet some of his best remarks.

Etymology in ancient as in modern times was a favourite recreation. Again.' and. and employing the most trifling and fanciful analogies in support of a theory.' Several philosophers and sophists are mentioned by name: first. viz.' the dearly-bought wisdom of Callias. cautious and tentative. he saw through the hollowness of the incipient sciences of the day. The simplicity of Hermogenes.' The irony of Socrates places him above and beyond the errors of his contemporaries. by the manner in which Socrates speaks of them.' are truly humorous. whom here. the Lacedaemonian whose name was 'Rush. who is ready to believe anything that he is told.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  language as well as a true one: 3. Lastly. oi palaioi Omerikoi (compare Arist. and Socrates makes merry at the expense of the etymologists. he is impatient of hearing from the half-converted Cratylus the doctrine that falsehood can neither be spoken. laying down the conditions under which they are to be pursued. the Heracleitean theory of language. nor uttered. Like his master Socrates. that of dikaion. Socrates in his genial and ironical mood hits right and left at his adversaries: Ouranos is so called apo tou oran ta ano. for example. and the spurious dialectic which is applied to them. many of these etymologies. the double explanation of the name Hermogenes. which 'to-morrow he will purge away. is the way to have a pure mind. as in the Theaetetus. a piece of sophistry attributed to Gorgias. While delivering a lecture on the philosophy of language. who had a great deal of time on his hands. his own. but thinks only of putting the mouth into shape.' There is a great deal of 'mischief' lurking in the following: 'I found myself in greater perplexity about justice than I was before I began to learn. the jest about the fifty-drachma course of Prodicus. heightens the effect.) and the Orphic poets are alluded to by the way. above all. but. Socrates is also satirizing the endless fertility of the human mind in spinning arguments out of nothing. he ridicules the arbitrary methods of pulling out and putting in letters which were in vogue among the philologers of his time. with no less delight than he had set up. nor addressed.' 'The rho in katoptron must be the addition of some one who cares nothing about truth. In the latter part of the dialogue Socrates becomes more serious. to have been current in his own age: 4. and tries to move in a circle apart from them.)? or is it to be attributed to the indignation which Plato felt at having wasted his time upon 76    . What was the origin of this enmity we can hardly determine:—was it due to the natural dislike which may be supposed to exist between the 'patrons of the flux' and the 'friends of the ideas' (Soph. the sophists are by a fanciful explanation converted into heroes. he delights to ridicule. and his prancing steeds. To have made etymologies seriously. when he is speaking of actual phenomena.' or 'being no speaker. the philosophy of language had not made such progress as would have justified Plato in propounding real derivations. 'the givers of names were like some philosophers who fancy that the earth goes round because their heads are always going round. as. or slightly scoffs at contemporary religious beliefs. then he discovers a hive of wisdom in the philosophy of Heracleitus. which reappears in the Sophist. and tragedy is the place of them. And he proceeds to demolish. which. as in the Timaeus. then the interpreters of Homer. The Cratylus is full of humour and satirical touches: the inspiration which comes from Euthyphro.—the doctrine of the flux is contained in the word ousia (= osia the pushing principle). Met. the light admixture of quotations from Homer. either as 'not being in luck. though he does not lay aside but rather aggravates his banter of the Heracleiteans.' 'Tales and falsehoods have generally to do with the Tragic and goatish life. the pleasure which Socrates expresses in his own dangerous discoveries. Protagoras and Euthydemus are assailed. to be a complete education in grammar and rhetoric. which is declared on the best authority. as some philosophers say. are indicated. an anticipation of Anaxagoras is found in psuche and selene. the task 'of a not very fortunate individual. would have seemed to him like the interpretation of the myths in the Phaedrus.

The manner in which the ideas are spoken of at the end of the dialogue. and the least parts as well as the greatest. he supposes him to mean that he is not a true son of Hermes. not yet Platonized. there is in words a true and a false. But he would like to have an open council and to hear both sides.' or 'a man who has a running at the nose'. and therefore names may be true or false. and the nature of names is a considerable part of knowledge: he has never been to hear the fifty-drachma course of Prodicus. If a whole proposition be true or false. When Cratylus denies that Hermogenes is a true name. and would all these names be always true at the time of giving them? Hermogenes replies that this is the only way in which he can conceive that names are correct. the former maintaining that they are natural. and on the whole inclines to his former opinion. as we change the names of slaves. touching on some of the characteristic difficulties of early Greek philosophy. and a man by the rest of the world? But. far rather. as there are true and false propositions. truth will say "too late" to us as to the belated traveller in Aegina. Hermogenes is of opinion that there is no principle in names. and Hermogenes. But we shall not be far wrong in placing the Cratylus about the middle. but is treated of in the Sophist. Hermogenes asks Socrates to explain to him what Cratylus means. who does not easily apprehend the argument from common sense. But Cratylus. Cratylus. because he is never in luck. that if I agree to call a man a horse. the Socrates of the Cratylus is the Socrates of the Apology and Symposium. the Heracleitean philosopher.' The place of the dialogue in the series cannot be determined with certainty. that a knowledge of things is higher than a knowledge of names. the philosophy of Heracleitus by 'unsavoury' similes—he cannot believe that the world is like 'a leaky vessel. also indicates a comparatively early date. What Socrates himself thinks about the truth or correctness of names? Socrates replies. he attributes the flux of the world to the swimming in some folks' heads. and the treatment of the character of Socrates. the relation of thought to language is omitted here. the latter that they are conventional. in confirmation of his view. and the altered name is as good as the original one. whenever we please. Some profound philosophical remarks are scattered up and down. Cratylus affirms that his own is a true name. that hard is knowledge. and of the different Hellenic tribes. The style and subject. Socrates asks. Would Hermogenes maintain that anybody may give a name to anything. The imaginative element is still in full vigour. On the other hand. and that there can be no knowledge if all things are in a state of transition. admitting of an application not only to language but to knowledge generally. then a man will be rightly called a horse by me. then the parts of a proposition may be true or false. the brother of Callias. whether the things differ as the words which represent them differ:—Are we to maintain with Protagoras. or. especially to the Phaedrus and Euthydemus. they may be changed. These grounds are not sufficient to enable us to arrive at a precise conclusion. that what appears is? 77    . for instance. such as the assertion that 'consistency is no test of truth:' or again. and the least parts are names. of the series. 'If we are over-precise about words. and he describes. he would like to know. and he appeals to the practice of different nations. remains unconvinced. You mean to say. he is not competent to give an opinion on such matters. have a close resemblance to the earlier dialogues. but will not allow that the name of Hermogenes is equally true. and as many names as he pleases. rejoins Socrates. or at any rate in the first half. endeavours to show Cratylus that imitation may be partial or imperfect. as in the Theaetetus. surely. and having only attended the single-drachma course. have been arguing about names.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  'Cratylus and the doctrines of Heracleitus' in the days of his youth? Socrates.

' Indeed I cannot. that all things equally and always belong to all men. And as a shuttle separates the warp from the woof. of whom your brother Callias has bought his reputation for wisdom rather dearly. we name with a name. the dialectician? The pilot directs the carpenter how to make the rudder. and that not every one can give a name. But how does the carpenter make or repair the shuttle. had better learn from him at second-hand. which you imagine. and are done by different processes. And this is not the only truth about philology which may be learnt from Homer. the awl by the smith or skilled person. and the very good are the wise. and a great many very bad. 'whom the Gods call Xanthus.—that is. But who makes a name? Does not the law give names. But who is to be the judge of the proper form? The judge of shuttles is the weaver who uses them.' or in the lines in which he mentions the bird which the Gods call 'Chalcis. that there are a few very good men in the world. but I have just given up Protagoras.—that is. and this is not mere appearance but reality. but actions. having no money.' Here is an important lesson. but I see that you have advanced. we weave with a shuttle. And not only things.' or the hill which men call 'Batieia. But what is the nature of this correctness or truth. the judge of lyres is the player of the lyre. for to express the ideal forms of things in syllables and letters is not the easy task.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  Hermogenes has always been puzzled about this. 'I should be more readily persuaded. and are independent of our notions about them. The weaver will use the shuttle well. and in particular of Homer. We cut with a knife. and men call Scamander. so ought the instruments which make them to differ. and naming is a kind of speaking. and does not the teacher receive them from the legislator? He is the skilled person who makes them. that all things have their several distinct natures. when he is pressed by Socrates. Nor is he disposed to say with Euthydemus. and since they require to be paid. But then. Does he not say that Hector's son had two names— 'Hector called him Scamandrius. 'Well. The shuttle will be made by the carpenter. there would be no distinction between bad and good men. as in the verse about the river God who fought with Hephaestus. like a weaver. The several kinds of shuttles ought to answer in material and form to the several kinds of webs. you. and with a proper instrument. the only remaining possibility is. and a natural instrument with which men cut or burn. Hermogenes. for you now admit that there is a correctness of names. again. like a teacher.' Then if you reject him you may learn of the poets. There is a natural way of cutting or burning.' and the Gods 'Myrinna's Tomb. who distinguishes the names given by Gods and men to the same things. you must learn from the Sophists.—this is true of all actions. and any other way will fail. and we must name according to a natural process. and the very bad are the foolish. and to what will he look? Will he not look at the ideal which he has in his mind? And as the different kinds of work differ. but the others Astyanax'? 78    . but acknowledges. if you would show me this natural correctness of names. we pierce with an awl. so a name distinguishes the natures of things. And the legislator ought to know the different materials and forms of which names are made in Hellas and other countries. And speaking is a kind of action. and the teacher will use the name well. the judge of ships is the pilot. for the Gods must of course be right in their use of names. and I should be inconsistent in going to learn of him. be he who knows how to use the names—he who can ask and answer questions—in short. in that case. have distinct natures. and the dialectician directs the legislator how he is to impose names. And will not the judge who is able to direct the legislator in his work of naming.' and men 'Cymindis. and of all skilled workmen he is the rarest.

and in him all live: this is implied in the double form. Hector and Astyanax have only one letter alike. out of the course of nature. and my intention is to yield to the inspiration to-day. The son succeeds the father as the foal succeeds the horse. provided the meaning is retained. are really the same. who gave me a long lecture which began at dawn. Dios. Atreus again. is rightly named Atreus. Dios).The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  Now. because they are patronymics or expressions of a wish. man-of-the-mountain nature. though hard to be understood. or the horse's foal a foal. if the men called him Astyanax. which. and the other is 'a holder or possessor. and Agis (leader) is altogether different in sound from Polemarchus (chief in war). Gods are so called. apo tou thein. And the name of his father. which in turn is begotten of Uranus. I am anxious to hear the rest. Zenos. with the exception of epsilon. from looking upwards. just as the physician recognises the power of the same drugs under different disguises of colour and smell.' I caught the infection from Euthyphro. moon.' because the sun. the words by which they are signified may be disguised. and has not only entered into my ears. like the words Iatrocles and Acesimbrotus. Dios. Kronos. is the author of our being. because in his eagerness to win Hippodamia. The earlier portion of Hesiod's genealogy has escaped my memory. but filled my soul. Whether the syllables of a name are the same or not makes no difference. then that would be called a calf. moreover. The name Beta has three letters added to the sound—and yet this does not alter the sense of the word. let us try gods and demi-gods.' Now that we have a general notion. ateires (stubborn). For he. but quasi to katharon kai akeraton tou nou—the pure and garnished mind. from the verb 'to run. while the name of the latter indicates his savage. to the eye of the etymologist. because his father saved the city. who is so called apo tou oran ta ano. or Eupolemus (good warrior). is ateros (destructive). then the names no longer agree. the names of letters. either apo tes tou lithou talanteias. or apo tou talantaton einai. The names Astyanax and Hector. but the meaning is that Zeus himself is the son of a mighty intellect.—the one means a king. but the two words present the same idea of leader or general. 79    . who like other animals resemble each other in the course of nature.—the boy was called Astyanax ('king of the city'). but they have the same meaning. how shall we proceed? What names will afford the most crucial test of natural fitness? Those of heroes and ordinary men are often deceptive. being the lord and king of all. he was unconscious of the remoter consequences which the murder of Myrtilus would entail upon his race. and to-morrow I will be exorcised by some priest or sophist. appear to be some irreverence in calling him the son of Cronos. which. as philosophers say. has an excellent meaning. Zeus. 'Go on. which equally denote a physician. is the way to have a pure mind. at first sight. a prodigy occurs. For example. And the same may be said of a king and the son of a king. if slightly changed. and his cruelty to Thyestes. of whom the former has a name significant of his patience at the siege of Troy. whether vowels or consonants. omicron. and Pelops is o ta pelas oron (he who sees what is near only). or prevent the whole name having the value which the legislator intended. and the misery which he brought upon his country. for his murder of Chrysippus. do not correspond to their sounds. the men or the women? Homer evidently agreed with the men: and of the name given by them he offers an explanation. But if the horse had produced a calf. 'You talk like an oracle. offers two etymologies. or I would try more conclusions of the same sort. and yet amid differences of sound the etymologist may recognise the same notion. atreotos (fearless). because really a sentence which is divided into two parts (Zeus.' For as the lion's whelp may be called a lion. so the son of a king may be called a king. not in the sense of a youth. which being put together and interpreted is di on ze panta. Zenos. who is a proverb for stupidity. but when. is it not probable that the other name was conferred by the women? And which are more likely to be right—the wiser or the less wise. and the offspring no longer resembles the parent. and stars run about the heaven. upsilon. There may. This may be illustrated by the case of Agamemnon and his son Orestes. The name Tantalus. omega. quasi koros. signifying at once the hanging of the stone over his head in the world below.

but only about the names which they usually bear. Hestia is the same with esia. and this flux of his may accomplish yet greater marvels. may be either = (1) the 'grave' of the soul.' But more probably. and say that psuche. my dear Hermogenes. and they are called demons. when he speaks of Oceanus. But the name Hades was really given him from his knowing (eidenai) all good things. Moreover. quasi daemones. or eirein. and I must find another: shall we identify the soul with the 'ordering mind' of Anaxagoras. which is usually derived apo tou aeidous.' O. Men in general are foolishly afraid of him. for eirein is equivalent to legein. there is a remarkable coincidence in the words of Hesiod. 'May he graciously receive any name by which I call him. the original meaning being o anathron a opopen—he who looks up at what he sees. Less true are those by which we propitiate them. What did he mean who gave the name Hestia? 'That is a very difficult question. and simply denotes that the body is the place of ward in which the soul suffers the penalty of sin. There is also another reading—osia. The demons are the golden race of Hesiod. and by golden he means not literally golden. The name anthrotos is a case in point. I get all this from Euthyphro. And here I seem to discover a delicate allusion to the flux of Heracleitus—that antediluvian philosopher who cannot walk twice in the same stream. or the word may be a euphemism for Hades. because the God is concerned with the invisible. both in our own and in other languages. but these are unknown to us. or (2) may mean 'that by which the soul signifies (semainei) her wishes. because you cannot walk on the sea—the epsilon is inserted by way of ornament. Let us begin with Hestia. 'the origin of Gods.' After psuche follows soma.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  and they being the original gods of the Hellenes. Psuche may be thought to be the reviving. this.' The truest names of the Gods are those which they give themselves. Eros (with an epsilon) is the same word as eros (with an eta): 'the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair. because wealth comes out of the earth. the giver of them must have known something about the doctrine of Heracleitus. for example. from their habit of spinning questions. the chain of the feet. and so called apo tou erotan. Tethys is nothing more than the name of a spring—to diattomenon kai ethoumenon. apo tou seiein. Pluto is connected with ploutos. I should like to let them know beforehand that we are not presuming to enquire about them. Dii philos may be turned into Diphilos). and we may make words into sentences and sentences into words. because they are knowing.' And to avoid offence. pi and delta have been added. the word is Orphic. or refreshing. or animating principle—e anapsuchousa to soma. which in old Attic was used for daimones—good men are well said to become daimones when they die.' and in the verse of Orpheus. but I am afraid that Euthyphro and his disciples will scorn this derivation. like that excellent one of Zeus. that the God knew many things (polla eidos): he may also be the shaker. but good. by a slight permutation. My idea is. I shall be wiser than I ought to be by to-morrow's dawn. as they still are of the Barbarians. and means the first principle of things: this agrees with the fact that to Hestia the first sacrifices are offered. and. meaning. as men say in prayers. For the names Cronos and Rhea cannot have been accidental. their name is given to all Gods. which is an old form of ousia. and talk with horror of the world below from 80    . which implies that 'pushing' (othoun) is the first principle of all things. that we may put in and pull out letters at pleasure and alter the accents (as. I believe that there was a power of philosophy and talk among the first inventors of names. for even in foreign words a principle is discernible. 'I should like to hear some more explanations of the names of the Gods.' or perhaps they were a species of sophists or rhetoricians. or perhaps the name may have been originally polleidon. and now a new and ingenious idea comes into my mind. if I am not careful. for a letter has been omitted and the accent changed. in which he describes Oceanus espousing his sister Tethys.—en o sozetai. 'That is a more artistic etymology. quasi phuseche = e phusin echei or ochei?—this might easily be refined into psyche.—in this case. Poseidon is posidesmos.

Dionysus is o didous ton oinon. or because he variegates (aiolei = poikillei) the earth. any more than in the her other appellation Persephone. he is the purifier or purger or absolver (apolouon). is the lord of light—o tou phaeos istor. stars. or o eirein momenos. eiremes or ermes—the speaker or contriver of speeches. that is. there is the name of Pallas. for he has much more than he wants there. or because she is ready to forgive and forget (lethe). tell me about my godfather Hermes. being a contraction of selaenoneoaeia. but if you suggest other words. Apollo is another name. He is the manly one (arren). The gentle Leto or Letho is named from her willingness (ethelemon). secondly. The established derivation of Aphrodite dia ten tou athrou genesin may be accepted on the authority of Hesiod. years?' Very good: and which shall I take first? Let us begin with elios. dia to artemes. the messenger or cheater or thief or bargainer. that word of awe. or Athene. Pherephatta. which is also significant of her wisdom (sophe). or perhaps the legislator may have been thinking of the weather. water. that I am no son of Hermes. This is a good notion. aether. I am afraid of them. and. He is the goat of Tragedy. or again. For Athene we must turn to the allegorical interpreters of Homer. moon. namely by the desire of virtue. or as aretes istor. Pallas is derived from armed dances—apo tou pallein ta opla. and oinos is quasi oionous because wine makes those think (oiesthai) that they have a mind (nous) who have none. to prevent any other getting into our heads. He has two forms. and is in the upper part smooth. the name was harmonized into 81    . who are Athenians. He is the perfect and accomplished Sophist and the great benefactor of the other world.—perhaps all of them. is borrowed from the sun. Again. you will see how the horses of Euthyphro prance. or as a lover of virginity. seasons. a true and a false. 'Only one more God. The Muses are so called—apo tou mosthai. and in the lower part shaggy. 'Well said Cratylus. Hephaestus.—all things are in motion. One of these explanations is probably true. and hence he is called Pluto or the rich. which is only an euphonious contraction of e tou pheromenou ephaptomene. aroton misesasa. or possibly the word was originally ethonoe and signified moral intelligence (en ethei noesis). Demeter is the mother and giver of food—e didousa meter tes edodes. and is called Pan because speech indicates everything—o pan menuon. and has merely transposed the letters of the word aer. Aplos. and which. is that the God enchains them by the strongest of spells.' Pan. and she in her wisdom moves with them. as he is called in the Thessalian dialect (aplos = aplous. which they hope to obtain by constant association with him.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  which no one may return. and the wise God Hades consorts with her—there is nothing very terrible in this. sincere). Artemis is so called from her healthy well-balanced nature. The reason why his subjects never wish to come back. or because he rolls about (eilei) the earth. he is the archer (aei ballon). he is the true diviner. which is supposed to have some dreadful meaning. by the Gods. 'Will you go on to the elements—sun. for there is a 'moving together' alike in music and in the harmony of the spheres. First. thirdly. air. but is susceptible of at least four perfectly innocent explanations. again. even if they could. in which there are plenty of falsehoods. fire. always shooting. or the sun. He will have nothing to do with the souls of men while in the body. The Doric form elios helps us to see that he is so called because at his rising he gathers (alizei) men together. earth. as Anaxagoras says. for. supposing alpha to mean ama or omou. who make the name equivalent to theonoe. Here is erate tis. which we. must not forget. is pheretapha. as the son of Hermes. is speech or the brother of speech. Apollo becomes equivalent to ama polon. The second lambda is inserted in order to avoid the ill-omened sound of destruction. which points to both his musical and his heavenly attributes. Enough of the Gods.' He is ermeneus. Selene is an anticipation of Anaxagoras. the light (selas) which is ever old and new. let us go on to Ares. or the unchangeable one (arratos). because he cannot work his will with them so long as they are confused and entangled by fleshly lusts. then.

en eauto and etazon. or the sun. that the doctrine of the universal flux. and the word thallein itself implies increase of youth. preserves all things. which is an improvement of anastrope. and I always resort to this theory of a foreign origin when I am at a loss. by an aphaeresis of tau and an epenthesis of omicron in two places. Justice is said to be o kaion.' And not the rest? Let me proceed then. understanding. 'How do you explain pur n udor?' I suspect that pur. and is a kind of conclusion—sullogismos tis. quasi diaion going through—the letter kappa being inserted for the sake of euphony. 'You make surprising progress. as the lovers of motion say.' 82    . according to the old Attic form ora (with an omicron). but when I ask for an explanation I am thought obtrusive. neither anticipating nor lagging behind. 'I should like very much to hear your account of the virtues. or generation of things. sumporeuesthai ten psuche. that which turns the eyes inside out. and in any case is connected with pheresthai. still. and signifies 'that which has mind. the word neos implies that creation is always going on—the original form was neoesis.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  selanaia.—for all things are in motion. and another derivation is proposed to me. 'I think that some one must have told you this.' Meis is so called apo tou meiousthai. and may be illustrated by the poetical esuthe and the Lacedaemonian proper name Sous. that justice is the ordering mind. akin therefore in idea to episteme. I am getting over the ground fast: but much has still to be explained. or. and is the cause of all things. justice. the stream which flows upwards. oti pneuma ex autou ginetai (compare the poetic word aetai). because it divides the year. that justice is fire in the abstract. appearances must be maintained. is found in Phrygian. cut into two parts. which. or heat in the abstract. thelu is derived apo tes theles. which clearly hinders the principle of penetration. I never did. because the teat makes things flourish (tethelenai). I am answered. sophrosune is soteria phroneseos. and am not even yet at my utmost speed. noesis is neou or gignomenon esis. for instance. This. I am run away with. 'No. sophia is very difficult. a form which is still in use. 'That is a true dithyrambic name. he replies. or. gnome is gones skepsis kai nomesis. is derived apo tou orizein.' Phronesis is only phoras kai rou noesis. and this phenomenon. So aither quasi aeitheer oti aei thei peri ton aera: ge. Andreia is quasi anpeia quasi e ano roe. become dizzy. is indicated in names. like di on ze into Dios and Zenos. 'What. who. The word dikaion is more troublesome. and appears to mean the subtle penetrating power which. is there no justice when the sun is down?' And when I entreat my questioner to tell me his own opinion. What principle of correctness is there in those charming words. or. Others laugh at such notions. arren and aner have a similar derivation. ora (with an omega). they imagined to take place in the external world. oti aei rei. which was really in themselves. and when I joyfully repeat this beautiful notion. My opinion is. oti airei ta apo tes ges.' True. in the hope of proving to you my originality. or perhaps phoras onesis. This is a great mystery which has been confided to me. and the rest?' To explain all that will be a serious business. and astron is from astrape (lightning). that primitive men were like some modern philosophers. and say with Anaxagoras. is a foreign word. which is not very intelligible. as I have put on the lion's skin. from suffering diminution. and has a foreign look—the meaning is. or Rush. like udor n kuon. by always going round in their search after the nature of things. Aer may be explained. and some are swifter than others: dikaiosune is clearly e tou dikaiou sunesis. gune is the same as gone. and is opposed to injustice. which is swift and sudden ever (thein and allesthai). wisdom. episteme is e epomene tois pragmasin—the faculty which keeps close. You have no doubt remarked. may be identified with echonoe. sunesis is equivalent to sunienai. eniautos and etos are the same thought—o en eauto etazon. gaia quasi genneteira (compare the Homeric form gegaasi). There is techne. agathon is ro agaston en te tachuteti. touching the motion or stream of things. for the Hellenes have borrowed much from the barbarians.

has an evil sense. which ought to have come after andreia. which is also the principle of beauty. signifying the chain (desmos) or hindrance of motion. and which doing the works of beauty. or expresses the shooting from a bow 83    . Blaberon is to blamton or boulomenon aptein tou rou—that which injures or seeks to bind the stream. and may be regarded as o lian desmos tes psuches. or the letter sigma in the word sphigx? The additions are often such that it is impossible to make out the original word. but this is too much of a mouthful—like a prelude on the flute in honour of Athene.' and not. The proper word would be boulapteroun. Zemiodes is really demiodes. quasi diion. zugon is duogon.—like episteme. quasi desis duein eis agogen—(the binding of two together for the purpose of drawing. This derivation is illustrated by the word deilia. apo tou mekous. and arete is euporia. was a great enemy to stagnation. and is not to be taken in the vulgar sense of gainful. then arete is also right. So again. the desire which is in another place. that which penetrates or goes through all. have been made in words. You will think that I am inventing. and poreuesthai to go).The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  'A very poor etymology. but I say that if kakia is right. to which I can only apply my old notion and declare that kakon is a foreign word. which is the opposite of this—the everflowing (aei reousa or aeireite). aischron. any name is equally good for any object. and means that which binds motion (dounti to ion): edone is e pros ten onrsin teinousa praxis—the delta is an insertion: lupe is derived apo tes dialuseos tou somatos: ania is from alpha and ienai. or the eligible. iota and delta were used where we should now use eta and zeta: for example. and so called because it flows into (esrei) the soul from without: doxa is e dioxis tou eidenai. that great dictators of literature like yourself should observe the rules of moderation. 'I will do my best. which is especially affected by the women. If you will let me add mechane. and anein. For example. signifying that the soul moves in harmony with the world (sumphora. and yet. or you will paralyze me.' Yes. but rather in that of swift. The inventor of words being a patron of the flux. But what is kakon? That is a very obscure word. as you like. quasi aei ischon roun. and is so called apo tou algeinou: odune is apo tes enduseos tes lupes: achthedon is in its very sound a burden: chapa expresses the flow of soul: terpsis is apo tou terpnou. quasi airete. Next. Kerdos is to pasi kerannumenon—that which mingles with all things: lusiteloun is equivalent to to tes phoras luon to telos. The fact is. allothi pou: eros was anciently esros. is of foreign origin. as ordinarily written. if you may put in and pull out. let us proceed to kalon. The first is easily explained in accordance with what has preceded. great changes. as is often supposed. and this shows the meaning of the word to have been 'the desired one coming after night. and time is also a great alterer of words. The word deon is one of these disguised words. what we now call emera was formerly called imera. I shall be at the summit of my powers.' But do not be too much of a precisian. because the sensation of pleasure is likened to a breath (pnoe) which creeps (erpei) through the soul: euphrosune is named from pheresthai. The meaning of sumpheron is explained by previous examples. letters are taken in and put out for the sake of euphony. as I was saying. and terpnon is properly erpnon. being the principle which makes motion immortal and unceasing. ophelimon is apo tou ophellein—that which gives increase: this word. just as aporia signifies an impediment to motion (from alpha not. 'that which makes things gentle' (emera). which is Homeric. because the soul moves in harmony with nature: epithumia is e epi ton thumon iousa dunamis: thumos is apo tes thuseos tes psuches: imeros—oti eimenos pei e psuche: pothos. who are great conservatives. The latter is doubtless contracted from aeischoroun. for all things being in a flux. Kalon is to kaloun ta pragmata—this is mind (nous or dianoia). what business has the letter rho in the word katoptron.) Deon. You know that according to the old pronunciation. kakia is to kakos ion. is therefore rightly called the beautiful. sumpheronta). to go: algedon is a foreign word. but you must remember that all language is in process of change. but in its ancient form dion is expressive of good. The word zemiodes is difficult. from which elevation I will examine the two words kakia and arete. which means polu. and even a small change will alter their meaning very much.

On and ousia are only ion with an iota broken off. reon. the word agathos was supposed by us to be a compound of agastos and thoos. implying the principle of constraint and forced repose. then. And this leads me to consider whether the primary as well as the secondary elements are rightly given. and possibly this is the true answer. we may fairly conclude that we have reached one of these original elements. and the secondary. or primary elements of which they are composed. just as the painter knows how to use either a single colour. the psi is an addition. is a name? In the first place. which is expressed under the figure of sleep. as I was saying about the Gods. which all have to do with shooting (bole): and similarly oiesis is nothing but the movement (oisis) of the soul towards essence. a name is not a musical. Pseudos is the opposite of this. doun?' One way of explaining them has been already suggested—they may be of foreign origin. The running of any animal would be described by a similar movement of our own frames. and ouk on is ouk ion. or of a painter. aboulia. The latter etymology is confirmed by the words boulesthai. 84    .The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  (toxon). and when we have learnt them singly. we separate the alphabet into classes of letters. and therefore they are right. until the picture or figure—that is. and probably thoos may be further resolvable. they are only ingenious excuses for having no reasons. Ekousion is to eikon—the yielding—anagke is e an agke iousa. and that we learnt of them. For example. like the tragic poets.—If we had no faculty of speech. the passage through ravines which impede motion: aletheia is theia ale. 'And what are ion. that we can only attain to conjecture of them. secondly. after all the complications which they have undergone. a pictorial imitation. But this imitation of the tongue or voice is not yet a name. But then. Yet all these are not reasons. or that the barbarians are older than we are. and say that God gave the first names. and is the invention not of a musician. But still we insist that ours is the true and only method of discovery. divine motion. how should we communicate with one another? Should we not use signs. because people may imitate sheep or goats without naming them. But mere antiquity may often prevent our recognizing words. I think that we may consider the names about which you were asking. to eudon. First. boule. I may remark. as I conceive. Not that I am literally speaking of ourselves. but I mean to say that this was the way in which the ancients framed language. But if we take a word of which no further resolution seems attainable. language—is completed. a name. vowels. or a combination of colours. but an imitation of that kind which expresses the nature of a thing. and form them into syllables. mutes. or that antiquity has cast a veil over the truth. otherwise we must have recourse. are intended to show the nature of things. and we must remember that however far we carry back our analysis some ultimate elements or roots will remain which can be no further analyzed. and the truth of such a word must be tested by some new method. Onoma. What. and semivowels. Will you help me in the search? All names. derive their significance from the primary. we shall learn to know them in their various combinations of two or more letters. The body can only express anything by imitation. and these again into words. and the tongue or mouth can imitate as well as the rest of the body. to a Deus ex machina. affirms the real existence of that which is sought after—on ou masma estin. we may apply letters to the expression of objects. or. distinguishing the consonants. And now. And like the painter. whether primary or secondary. like the deaf and dumb? The elevation of our hands would mean lightness—heaviness would be expressed by letting them drop. how do the primary names indicate anything? And let me ask another question. The way to analyze them will be by going back to the letters. but of a namer.

Socrates argues. and he who gives only some of them. a bad or imperfect one. Hermogenes. and in the other to his sense of hearing. is a foreign form of ienai: of kinesis or eisis. so he who gives all the sounds makes a good name. are imitations. The letters phi. which require a great deal of wind. and therefore there is plenty of omicron in the word goggulon. (I ought to explain that kinesis is just iesis (going). in your presence. and if of names. though they are somewhat crude:—the letter rho appears to me to be the general instrument which the legislator has employed to express all motion or kinesis.' 'No. and give better or worse laws." as Hesiod says. Cratylus replies 'that he cannot explain so important a subject all in a moment. that falsehood is saying that which is not. shaking. and the artists are legislators.' and again. and in general of what is windy. Hermogenes! would these words be true or false? 'I should say that they would be mere unmeaning sounds. as in the words slip. sleep. The letters delta and tau convey the idea of binding and rest in a place: the lambda denotes smoothness. psi. he may go and say to him 'this is your name'—in the one case appealing to his sense of sight. Athenian Stranger. crumble. Cratylus cannot admit that one name is better than another. kiein. just as he used iota to express the subtle power which penetrates through all things. Cratylus mystifies me. That is my view. and the like. that he is afraid of being self-deceived. but a name still. eta of length. Socrates complains that this argument is too subtle for an old man to understand: Suppose a person addressing Cratylus were to say. sleek. sigma. And as he who gives all the colours makes a good picture.—you cannot utter the word which is not. and when he is asked about the name of Hermogenes.' Socrates replies. break. and therefore saying nothing. But when the slipping tongue is detained by the heavier sound of gamma. Socrates. then of the sentences which are made up of them. Hermogenes and himself are mere sciolists. he affirms this to be the name of somebody else.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  I will freely impart to you my own notions.' Socrates here interposes his own request. that Cratylus will give some account of his theory. they are either true names.—may he not? 'Yes. and has a notion of inwardness: alpha is the expression of size. but denies that names can. Cratylus replies in the words of Achilles: '"Illustrious Ajax. but you may "add little to little. Cratylus presses him with the old sophistical argument. 'But. who is acknowledged to have no luck in him. for the letter eta was unknown to the ancients. and make better or worse names. as well as pictures. and like artists in general. to which his own answer would be. and he who gives only some of them. and I should like to hear what Cratylus would say. crush. seething. was the inspirer. like the hammering of a brass pot. the imposer of names perceived that the tongue is most agitated in the pronunciation of this letter. Socrates supposes him to mean that falsehood is impossible. and has had teachers. 85    . zeta. the opposite is stasis). what he means by the fitness of names?' To this appeal.' Then you will admit that there is a right or a wrong assignment of names. then arises the notion of a glutinous clammy nature: nu is sounded from within. you have spoken in all things much to my mind. then of verbs and nouns. and if of verbs and nouns.' But you would acknowledge that names. that there has never been a lack of liars. some of them are better and some of them are worse than others. and the root.' And naming is an art." whether Euthyphro. The artist of names. and also that pictures may give a right or wrong representation of a man or woman:—why may not names then equally give a representation true and right or false and wrong? Cratylus admits that pictures may give a true or false representation. omicron of roundness. Hail. you may give them all the appropriate sounds. and therefore he must 'look fore and aft. but Cratylus has reflected on these matters. This use of rho is evident in the words tremble. but still a picture. and the like. that he may go up to a man and say 'this is year picture. I should like to ask him. as I was telling you. of the correctness of names. Does not Cratylus agree with him that names teach us the nature of things? 'Yes. that is. or some Muse inhabiting your own breast. a bad or imperfect one. and comparing nouns to pictures. or they are not names at all. or only some of them. are employed in the imitation of such notions as shivering.' as Homer remarks.

which is connected with stasis. And. which bear a resemblance to the thing signified. but denies that names are of this purely quantitative nature. if an unit is subtracted. although the letter rho accent is not equivalent to the letter s: why is this? You reply. is language so consistent? all words have the same laws. although I agree with you in thinking that the most perfect form of language is found only where there is a perfect correspondence of sound and meaning. as e ama theo iontos poreia. and there are many words having a bad sense. 'But then. which would favour a theory of rest rather than of motion. and has to be supplemented by convention. he should have the courage to acknowledge that letters may be wrongly inserted in a noun. and that may have been erroneous. and let us imagine that some God makes them perfectly alike. Socrates. and is correctness of names to be determined by the voice of a majority? Here is another point: we were saying that the legislator gives names. again. I must remind you of what Hermogenes and I were saying about the letter rho accent. we may still affirm that a name to be correct must have proper letters. Suppose that there are two objects—Cratylus and the image of Cratylus. and yet the noun or the sentence may retain a meaning. they would be the doubles of their originals.' And. then. In geometrical problems. might be explained. and he who knows names knows things. I retort upon you. which is another poor thing. gave them according to his conception. Thus the bad names are framed on the same principle as the good. which are connected with ideas of motion. that we put in and pull out letters at pleasure. Socrates. Well.' Are we to count them. But let me ask you what is the use and force of names? 'The use of names.' Mere consistency is no test of truth. why should names be? if they were.' But do you not see that there is a degree of deception about names? He who first gave names. for if you subtract or misplace a letter. as lambda is of smoothness.' Socrates admits that the number 10. is to inform. Better to admit this. and therefore we must suppose that he knows the things which he names: but how can he have learnt things from names 86    . the name ceases to be a name. there may be a flaw at the beginning. because the two letters are sufficiently alike for the purpose of expressing motion. what business has this in a word meaning hardness? 'Why. amartia. 'Yes. and if images are not exact counterparts. Bebaion. but the cases are not parallel. but the greater number of words express motion. Cratylus.: amathia. as mneme is with meno. and that Truth herself may not say to us. for example. both in their outward form and in their inner nature and qualities: then there will be two Cratyluses. a wise man will take especial care of first principles. istoria is clearly descriptive of the stopping istanai of the stream.' And the explanation of this is custom or agreement: we have made a convention that the rho shall mean s and a convention may indicate by the unlike as well as by the like.' Do you mean that the discovery of names is the same as the discovery of things? 'Yes. But then Socrates rejoins. or a noun in a sentence. and how ridiculous would this be! Cratylus admits the truth of Socrates' remark. are there not as many terms of praise which signify rest as which signify motion? There is episteme. But are words really consistent.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  the legislator. such as sumphora. But then. 'Yes. and other examples might be given.—and this you will admit to be their natural meaning. and akolasia as e akolouthia tois pragmasin. which was held to be expressive of motion and hardness. Socrates. and not merely Cratylus and the image of Cratylus. is the expression of station and position. that we may not be punished like the traveller in Egina who goes about at night. would cease to be 10. piston indicates the cessation of motion. why do the Eritreans call that skleroter which we call sklerotes? We can understand one another. and indistinguishable from them. again. Socrates. and yet the conclusion may follow consistently. there is the letter lambda. why. therefore. may be a good or he may be a bad artist. 'Too late. But an image in fact always falls short in some degree of the original. errors excepted. How could there be names for all the numbers unless you allow that convention is used? Imitation is a poor thing. etc.

would have vainly endeavoured to trace the process by which proper names were converted into common. and that these were necessarily true names.' which he compares to the introduction of the 'Deus ex machina' by the tragic poets when they have to solve a 87    . and when you know come and tell me. or the education of his mind. if so. Socrates. and the higher knowledge is of things. my friend. and find out the truth. and then (II) proceed to compare modern speculations respecting the origin and nature of language with the anticipations of his genius. as others have said: Man is man because he has the gift of speech. and the instincts of man had been shown to exist in greater force. the organs are no longer able to express them. after their manner. and is not to be derived from names. Whether the doctrine of the flux or of the eternal nature be the truer.. or that the world is a man who has a running at the nose. when his state approaches more nearly to that of children or animals.' We may now consider (I) how far Plato in the Cratylus has discovered the true principles of language.' Then another day. and that having fallen into a whirlpool themselves. who rejects the theological account of the origin of language 'as an excuse for not giving a reason. I. 'I have thought. The philosophers of the last century. he would probably have argued. as we have several times admitted. or those which are expressive of motion?. and he could not have invented that which he is. for names. because in childhood. nor will he believe that everything is in a flux like the water in a leaky vessel. you shall give me a lesson.But if some names are true and others false. and others of motion? 'I do not suppose that he did make them both. but is also very likely to be untrue. For is there not a true beauty and a true good. How. And. Or. nor does he deny that there is a natural fitness in names. but by appealing to things. The theologian would have proved that language must have had a divine origin. either in ancient or in modern times. But this would have been an 'argument too subtle' for Socrates. and to make some names expressive of rest. Socrates. and would have shown how the last effort of abstraction invented prepositions and auxiliaries. I believe that they were mistaken. and though I do not doubt that the inventors of language gave names. and after a good deal of thinking I incline to Heracleitus. But no man of sense will put himself. (1) Plato is aware that language is not the work of chance. Socrates. while the organs are pliable. they are trying to drag us after them.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  before there were any names? 'I believe. not by counting words. in the power of names: he will not condemn himself to be an unreal thing. we can only decide between them. which is always beautiful and always good? Can the thing beauty be vanishing away from us while the words are yet in our mouths? And they could not be known by any one if they are always passing away—for if they are always passing away. He only insists that this natural fitness shall be intelligibly explained. are the images of things. the intelligence is wanting.' Then how came the giver of names to contradict himself. and I hope that you will continue to study these things yourself. that some power more than human first gave things their names. But he has no idea that language is a natural organism. could men devoid of art have contrived a structure of such complexity? No answer could have been given to this question. 'Very good.' Then which did he make—those which are expressive of rest. This doctrine may be true. and therefore I would have you reflect while you are young. and when the intelligence is able to frame conceptions. Cratylus. the observer has no opportunity of observing their state. until the nature of primitive antiquity had been thoroughly studied. is hard to determine. we must allow that things may be known without names. under the idea that all things are in a state of motion and flux. He would have heard with surprise that languages are the common work of whole nations in a primitive or semi-barbarous age..

And language is the gesture of the tongue. they must be resolved into the letters out of which they are composed. and by the poetical and literary use of words. or of omicron to express roundness. sister arts. we only entertain conjecture. gamma lambda the detention of the liquid or slippery element. as of the first invention of the arts in general. connecting the visible and invisible. 'Languages are not made but grow. at a later stage by the influence of grammar and logic.) Neither is Plato wrong in supposing that an element of design and art enters into language. and the severance of the inner and outer world.' but they are made as well as grow. thus anticipating many modern controversies in which the primary agency of the divine Being is confused with the secondary cause. xi. until at length the sensuous exterior falls away. (3) But the greater number of primary words do not admit of derivation from foreign languages. and also for the fancies of the conditores linguae Graecae. of which. when they have passed their first stage. psi. and therefore the letters must have a meaning. and when they are full grown and set they may still put forth intellectual powers. Gesture is the mode which a deaf and dumb person would take of indicating his meaning.' explains nothing. The savage or primitive man. The creative power abating is supplemented by a mechanical process.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  difficulty. rho accent rush or roar. The framers of language were aware of this. He is the poet or maker of words. (2) There is no trace in any of Plato's writings that he was acquainted with any language but Greek. and remarks that in foreign words there is still a principle of correctness. and so on. are the two great formative principles of language. At a later period. and to have been derived from a time when the Greeks were either barbarians. The change in them is effected in earlier ages by musical and euphonic improvements. as in civilised ages the dialectician is the definer or distinguisher of them. in whom the natural instinct is strongest. there is a direct imitation. phi. but he recognises in the examples which he gives both modes of imitation. omicron roundness. of the idea and the object of sense. Plato's analysis of the letters of the alphabet shows a wonderful insight into the nature of language. bursting into life like a plant or a flower. to express a rushing or roaring. they observed that alpha was adapted to express size. eta length. because he finds that many Greek words are incapable of explanation. He does not expressively distinguish between mere imitation and the symbolical use of sound to express thought. they are also capable of being trained and improved and engrafted upon one another. The latter calls the second world of abstract terms into existence. or rather we may say that the nobler use of language only begins when the frame-work is complete. Yet he has conceived very truly the relation of Greek to foreign languages. They develope rapidly in childhood. (Compare Timaeus. Hence he excuses himself for the employment of such a device. Allowing a good deal for accident. which applies equally both to Greeks and barbarians. there is an element of which he is unable to give an account. which they gather from analysis and observation. which he is led to consider. or in close relations to the barbarians. preserve and enlarge the decaying instinct of language. wind and cold. And mythology is a link between them. and God is assumed to have worked a miracle in order to fill up a lacuna in human knowledge. These unintelligible words he supposes to be of foreign origin. while in the use of 88    . delta and tau binding. nu inwardness. sigma. lambda liquidity. and. is also the greatest improver of the forms of language. Socrates is aware that this principle is liable to great abuse. logic and grammar. in the use of the letter rho accent. as the former has created the picture sounds which represent natural objects or processes. by rule and method. Poetry and philosophy—these two. like the 'Deus ex machina. like the mind in the body. becomes complete.

that we should be above language. but no man of sense would commit his soul in such enquiries to the imposers of names. making words our servants.' At first. His great insight in one direction curiously contrasts with his blindness in another. and their meaning is the very reverse of their etymology. seems to have escaped him. If at first framed on a principle of intelligibility. or almost as many. we cannot argue that the thing has or has not an actual existence. but historical. or 'philosophie une langue bien faite. But we must recollect that he was necessarily more ignorant than any schoolboy of Greek grammar. He acknowledges that the 'poor creature' imitation is supplemented by another 'poor creature. freedom and necessity.. matter and mind. But he does not see that 'habit and repute. but they are really 89    . words expressive of rest. a truth second only in importance to that which has just been mentioned. are always exercising an influence over them. like those of a foreign language. parallels.'—convention. And even if this had been otherwise. that the etymological meaning of words is in process of being lost. they occasionally preserve the memory of a disused custom.' and their relation to other words. and he afterwards corrects any erroneous inference which might be gathered from his experiment. There are too many words as well as too few. which might have suggested to him the distinction. Nor in any case is the invention of them the result of philosophical reflection. but we cannot safely argue from them about right and wrong. who would learn of words when he might learn of things? There is a great controversy and high argument between Heracleiteans and Eleatics. But he is covertly satirising the pretence of that or any other age to find philosophy in words. and had no table of the inflexions of verbs and nouns before his eyes. They teach us the affinity of races. for he appears to be wholly unaware (compare his derivation of agathos from agastos and thoos) of the difference between the root and termination. For he finds as many. Because there is or is not a name for a thing. in order to express similar analogous ideas. as he had previously found expressive of motion.In this and other passages Plato shows that he is as completely emancipated from the influence of 'Idols of the tribe' as Bacon himself. Words appear to be isolated.. they would gradually cease to be intelligible.' which is the greatest and deepest truth of philology. he is willing to admit that they are subject to many changes. In passing from the gesture of the body to the movement of the tongue. He was probably the first who said that 'language is imitative sound. and may have no relation to the contemporary state of thought and feeling. or the other problems of moral and metaphysical philosophy. Plato does not add the further observation. Socrates has delighted himself with discovering the flux of Heracleitus in language. accidental. He was probably also the first who made a distinction between simple and compound words. they have been commonly transferred from matter to mind. and they generalize the objects or ideas which they represent. or of eta to express length. conjugates. or that the antitheses. The greatest lesson which the philosophical analysis of language teaches us is. although he is not aware of the laws of euphony and association by which imitation must be regulated. the imitation is symbolical. correlatives of language have anything corresponding to them in nature. The lesson which may be gathered from words is not metaphysical or moral. derived from other languages. and put on many disguises. The use of analogous or similar sounds. (4) Plato distinctly affirms that language is not truth.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  the letter alpha to express size. they tell us something about the association of ideas. For the use of words on such subjects may often be metaphorical. and not allowing them to be our masters. Plato makes a great step in the physiology of language.

But there is no more trace of this in Plato than there is of a language corresponding to the ideas. Dante. thus anticipating the solution of the mediaeval controversy of Nominalism and Realism. the German or English Bible. harmonized by poetry. they receive a fresh impress from individual genius. how far by any correction of their usages existing languages might become 90    .' These words suggest a question of deeper interest than the origin of language. udor. the use of a word in a striking and familiar passage gives a complexion to its use everywhere else.' which Socrates characteristically sets aside as too subtle for an old man (compare Euthyd.' 'there is an old Homeric word emesato. seem to forget that freedom and suggestiveness and the play of association are essential characteristics of language. (5) In addition to these anticipations of the general principles of philology.' Plato was very willing to use inductive arguments. Socrates replies in effect that words have an independent existence.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  the parts of an organism which is always being reproduced. and the new use of an old and familiar phrase has also a peculiar power over us. He is not aware that the languages of the world are organic structures. 'whether falsehood is impossible. indeed. But these and other subtleties of language escaped the observation of Plato.' 'the Thessalians call Apollo Amlos. which are the appropriate expressions. They carry with them the faded recollection of their own past history. and yet are always imperceptibly changing. use likenesses. we may note also a few curious observations on words and sounds. and particularly great writers. he cannot be justly charged with a desire to frame language on artificial principles. meaning "he contrived". could the want of such a language be felt until the sciences were far more developed. who are most conservative of the ancient language. emphasized by literature.' 'The Phrygians have the words pur. Nor indeed is induction applicable to philology in the same degree as to most of the physical sciences. they are used as symbols on the border-ground of human knowledge. and stand in the same relation to one another as the substances which they denote. For after we have pushed our researches to the furthest point. or almost always. They are refined by civilization.—not the inventors of language. which cannot be eliminated. 'The Eretrians say sklerotes for skleroter. Philosophers have sometimes dreamed of a technical or scientific language. Shakespear. or works which pass into the hearts of nations. but now iota is changed into eta and epsilon. He is aware too that languages exist in various degrees of perfection. nor. The question. Homer.' 'our forefathers. which had not yet learned to distinguish words from things. requiring in man a faculty not only of expressing his thoughts but of understanding those of others. nor does he conceive of language as the joint work of the speaker and the hearer. and especially the women. there will always remain an element of exception or accident or free-will. this is supposed to increase the grandeur of the sound.). so far as they were within his reach. and delta into zeta. viz. what is the ideal of language. and that the analysis of them can only be carried to a certain point. technically applied in philosophy and art. but he would also have assigned a large influence to chance. in words which should have fixed meanings. and that every word in them is related to every other. kunes slightly changed. Kant and Hegel. could only have arisen in an age of imperfect consciousness. are the makers of them in later ages. The great master has shown how he regarded pedantic distinctions of words or attempts to confine their meaning in the satire on Prodicus in the Protagoras. They are fixed by the simultaneous utterance of millions. loved the letters iota and delta. but writing and speaking. On the other hand. 'If we could always. in language as in all the other creations of the human mind. Those who would extend the use of technical phraseology beyond the limits of science or of custom. that would be the most perfect state of language. and come with a new force and association to every lively-minded person.

who is now aware that he has acquired a new power. as in every society. but only the inarticulate expression of feeling or emotion in no respect differing from the cries of animals. Plato envelopes the whole subject in a robe of fancy. For the mind of primitive man had a narrow range of perceptions and feelings. formerly in the fancies of neoplatonist writers. Thus far we have not speech. and after the manner of children were more given to express their feelings. nor would he have any difficulty in finding them. a superficial observation of the individual. like the child himself. The hearer in turn gives back the word to the speaker. have often been mistaken for a true account of the origin of language. An analogy. in which they lived more in company. in which 'they moved all together. The true spirit of philosophy or metaphysics can alone charm away metaphysical illusions. And many fallacies have to be dispelled. and partly in order to preserve the character of Socrates. But feeling the uncertain ground upon which he is walking. they go back to the beginnings of the human race. but apprehends the meaning: or we may imagine that the cry is repeated to a member of the society who had been absent. Suddenly. in which their organs of speech were more flexible. But now suppose that some one at a distance not only hears the sound. and again he is answered. he first. who can tell? Nevertheless we can imagine a stage of human society in which the circle of men's minds was narrower and their sympathies and instincts stronger. twenty or thirty sounds or gestures would be enough for him. and also the most complex. Not 91    . II. the others act the scene over again when he returns home in the evening. like a child learning to talk. How they originated. But. They have been transmitted from one language to another. in order to state or understand the facts. The cry is almost or quite involuntary. and little danger of mistaking or confusing them. utter a cry which resounds through the forest. for they too call to one another and are answered. he repeats the same cry again. the Cratylus seems to contain deeper truths about language than any other ancient writing. Naturally he broke out into speech—like the young infant he laughed and babbled. but not until there were hearers as well as speakers did language begin. Many thousand times he exercises this power. a metaphysical insight seems to be required. and the speaker and the hearer rejoice together in their newly-discovered faculty.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  clearer and more expressive than they are. a particular person would be more sensitive and intelligent than the rest. Yet into the formation of those words have entered causes which the human mind is not capable of calculating. Speaking is one of the simplest natural operations. now in the disguise of experience and common sense. they end at last in a statement of facts. his senses were microscopic. There are more things in language than the human mind easily conceives. more poetical.' Among them. an intelligible theory. 'when they moved at all. and may be an imitation of the roar of the animal. They are a drop or two of the great stream or ocean of speech which has been flowing in all ages. and the sense of hearing finer and more discerning. he tries experiments with a like result. or whether they are now finally fixed and have received their last impress from time and authority. on some occasion of interest (at the approach of a wild beast. and allows his principles to drop out as if by accident. What is the result of recent speculations about the origin and nature of language? Like other modern metaphysical enquiries. And so the cry becomes a word. Nothing would seem to be easier or more trivial than a few words uttered by a child in any language. At first there would be few such cries. a figure of speech. and also more logical. On the whole.' like a herd of wild animals. as well as observations made. they following him. which are always reappearing. shall we say?).

we trace the opposite and contrasted elements of the individual and nation. of the past and present. how far the genius of individuals may have contributed to the discovery of this as of the other arts. The word is separated both from the object and from the mind. Yet we are far from saying that this or any other theory of language is proved by facts. was at last complete. places. Each stage in the progress of language was accompanied by some corresponding stage in the mind and civilisation of man. The picture passes into a symbol.' The theory is consistent or not inconsistent with our own mental experience. Not only can men utter a cry or call. The imitation of the lion's roar calls up the fears and hopes of the chase. when the family became a nation. how language. for there would be too many of them and they would crowd the mind. then to distinguish them. the wild growth of dialects passed into a language. What was once an involuntary expression becomes voluntary. or the stammering lips of children. too. fair and large and free. We can hardly realize to ourselves how much with each improvement of language the powers of the human mind were enlarged. The finer sense detects the differences of them. how the pictorial or symbolical or analogical word was refined into a notion. So we may imagine the speech of man to have begun as with the cries of animals. how the inner world took the place of outer. which are excited by his appearance. and to have attained by degrees the perfection of Homer and Plato. Differences of kind may often be thus resolved into differences of degree. at length the whole sentence appeared. of the inward and outward. In the moment of hearing the sound. but the interjection or the vocal imitation of the object understood. But we must not assume that we have in this way discovered the true account of them. while the association of the nature and habits of the animal is more distinctly perceived. and has an independent existence. but they can communicate and converse. they can not only use words. Through what struggles the harmonious use of the organs of speech was acquired. relations of all kinds. Words now can be used more freely because there are more of them. In the later analysis of language. is the first rudiment of human speech. The earliest parts of speech. as we may call them by anticipation. and slowly nations and individuals attain to a fuller consciousness of themselves. we cannot say: Only we seem to see that language is as much the creation of the ear as of the tongue. persons. are expressed by modifications of them. without any appreciable interval. After a while the word gathers associations. then came verbs. just as the picture is brought back again in the description of the poet. probably partook of the nature of interjections and nouns. 'as the trees of the wood are stirred by the wind. Necessarily the pictorial image becomes less vivid. and the expression of a movement stirring the hearts not of one man only but of many. and begins. and throws some degree of light upon a dark corner of the human mind. but he brings previous knowledge to bear upon that impression. the vocal imitation. In time. first to agglomerate. Times. is always in process of being lost and being renewed. Parallel with this mental process the articulation of sounds is gradually becoming perfected. but they can even play with them. Not only does he receive an impression. It is not difficult to form an hypothesis which by a series of imaginary transitions will bridge over the chasm which separates man from the animals. of the notional 92    . and rhythm and metre followed. Then arose poetry and literature. of the subject and object. like the first utterances of children. to what extent the conditions of human life were different. these and other latent experiences wake up in the mind of the hearer.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  the interjection or the vocal imitation of the object.

continuous in all ages and countries. we observe that they are always slowly moving. has passed away and left no sign. is gained from the analogy of causes still in action. Yet in making these and similar generalizations we may note also dangers to which we are exposed. We see that in the simplest sentences are contained grammar and logic—the parts of speech. half solid. as in later times the creations of the great writer who is the expression of his age. the sound again echoes to the sense. 93    . and then imagining that we can discover the nature of language by reconstructing them. a conquest. became impressed on the minds of their countrymen. but of expressing and describing them better. (3) There is the danger of identifying language. that is to say.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  and relational.' to 'the survival of the fittest. the man and the time seem to conspire. The words 'evolution.' 'birth.' development. of the root or unchanging part of the word and of the changing inflexion. The picture of the word which was beginning to be lost.' in this as in the other realms of nature. if such a distinction be admitted. is now revived. We observe also the reciprocal influence of sounds and conceptions on each other. and describing more objects. But the best conception that we can form of it. which combine into particulars and individuals. and also of diminishing the interval which separates articulate from inarticulate language—the cries of animals from the speech of man—the instincts of animals from the reason of man. and of substituting the definite and intelligible for the true but dim outline which is the horizon of human knowledge. The metaphor of a flower or a tree. others working slowly in the course of infinite ages. too. twenty.' 'explicit. and generalities. a hundred thousand years ago. so various are the aspects in which it is regarded by us. like the connexion of body and mind. the eloquence of the bard or chief. of the vowel and the consonant. Then again. (1) There is the confusion of ideas with facts—of mere possibilities. (2) There is the fallacy of resolving the languages which we know into their parts. perhaps in the hour of some crisis of national development—a migration. which adds nothing to our knowledge.—like the glacier. half fluid. have a false clearness or comprehensiveness. (4) There is the error of supposing that the analysis of grammar and logic has always existed. or the like. some powerful and sudden. These are some of the reflections which the modern philosophy of language suggests to us about the powers of the human mind and the forces and influences by which the efforts of men to utter articulate sounds were inspired. though imperfect and uncertain. the world of ten. (5) There is the fallacy of exaggerating. So complex is language. of speech and writing. half alive. of poetry and prose. of quantity and accent. half dead. at which they came to the birth—as in the golden age of literature.' 'law. (6) There is the danger which besets all enquiries into the early history of man—of interpreting the past by the present. and so expressive not only of the meanest wants of man. containing within them a trickling stream which deposits debris of the rocks over which it passes. is often in like manner only a pleasing picture. but of his highest thoughts.' 'instinct. or some other work of nature or art. and further remark that although the names of objects were originally proper names. not with thoughts but with ideas. Something too may be allowed to 'the persistency of the strongest. or that their distinctions were familiar to Socrates and Plato.' and the like. The world before the flood. as the grammarian or logician might call them. and are taken out of the first rude agglomeration of sounds that they may be replaced in a higher and more logical order. the breath of a moment. as we may conjecture. and modes of conception with actual and definite knowledge. yet like the air. There were happy moments. in the lives of nations. men find themselves capable not only of expressing more feelings. when we follow the history of languages. yet at a later stage they become universal notions.' 'implicit. the Eleatic philosophy and the Kantian categories.

like fixed ideas. and see. is neither understood nor seen by us. like the nightingale. which. Fixed words. and in the child or savage accompanied with gesture. by a natural impulse. make a nearer approach to articulate speech. when domesticated. of ourselves learning to think and speak a new language. taking the place of one another when we try to become emancipated from their influence. and is very natural to the scientific philologist.— 94    . of music. The minds of men are sometimes carried on to think of their lives and of their actions as links in a chain of causes and effects going back to the beginning of time. and mind unperceived to herself is really limited by all other minds. and too little of an effect. of the various disorders of speech. as derived from the first speech of man. the meeting-point of the physical and mental sciences. and of nations. if we do not understand. We may observe that the child learns to speak. of barbarous nations in which the linguistic instinct is still undecayed. lend their aid. We can observe the social and collective instincts of animals.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  The greatest light is thrown upon the nature of language by analogy. is a singing bird. they have the power of understanding but not of speaking. or even adequately described. of children learning to speak. We can compare the use of speech with other mental and bodily operations. and we have the after-growth of mythology. We have the analogy of the cries of animals. attaining a greater distinctness and consecutiveness in speech. and yet having a sort of eternal or universal nature. which is the work of mind yet unconscious. as he learns to walk or to eat. is an unconscious creation of the human mind. yet in either case not without a power of imitation which is also natural to him—he is taught to read. but more than half the human frame. calls into being an organised structure. but the expression of all our faculties. In like manner we might think of the words which we daily use. how nature. and a greater still in writing. For he. but he breaks forth spontaneously in speech. by a law. Nor do we deny the enormous influence which language has exercised over thought. some birds which are comparatively devoid of intelligence. have often governed the world. the transfiguration of the world in thought. like the metaphysician. the attempt to think without words is a mere illusion. For in all processes of the mind which are conscious we are talking to ourselves. for speech too is a kind of gesture. while on the other hand. We can trace the impulse to bind together the world in ideas beginning in the first efforts to speak and culminating in philosophy. believes in the reality of that which absorbs his own mind. we find words everywhere in every degree of clearness and consistency. But in such representations we attribute to language too much the nature of a cause. present at every moment to the individual. rapidly succeeding one another in our waking thoughts. and may remark how. of the songs of birds ('man. of which the instrument is not the tongue only. looks. of the deaf and dumb who have words without sounds. We may note how in the animals there is a want of that sympathy with one another which appears to be the soul of language. and of all the languages in the world. gestures. But there remains an element which cannot be explained. When we analyze our own mental processes. Language is an aspect of man. But the intermediate organism which stands between man and nature. And speech is not a separate faculty. of nature. fading away in dreams and more like pictures. A few have seemed to lose the sense of their own individuality in the universal cause or nature. as the expressions or varieties of a single force or life of language of which the thoughts of men are the accident. and in which mind and matter seem to meet. like language. to which all our other powers of expression. signs. We can understand how man creates or constructs consciously and by design. but is ever binding up thoughts with musical notes'). and is with reluctance admitted to be a fact. Such a conception enables us to grasp the power and wonder of languages. and also the mirror in which they are reflected.—they are always reappearing when we fix our thoughts.

of musical notes.—remains inviolable. Innumerable as are the languages and dialects of mankind.—lamed in their hands or feet. for they too are attempts to give unity and regularity to a subject which is partly irregular. which he may close or open. The comparisons of children learning to speak. Another road through this chaos is provided by the physiology of speech. though admitting of infinite gradations and combinations. but only languages in various stages of growth. increase our insight into the nature of human speech. lips. Humboldt. We find. But they do not explain why. of the cries of animals. first. owing to climate or the sense of euphony or other causes.' M. which have retained their inflexions. and adapt in various ways. and secondly. and the 'chemical' combination of them into a new word. between the mere mechanical cohesion of sounds or words. There is the distinction between biliteral and triliteral roots. Many observations which would otherwise have escaped us are suggested by them. and the various inflexions which accompany them. and analytical languages like English or French. of the song of birds. in man and in man only. That problem is indissolubly bound up with the origin of man. like the elements of the musical scale. (Compare W. and never able to acquire afterwards the powers in which they are deficient.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  too much of an absolute. Or again. and the half articulate sound gradually developed into Sanscrit and Greek. they are as nothing compared with their agreement. like some of the other great secrets of nature. which have lost them. and are only capable of uttering a certain number of sounds. vowels and consonants. or of animal life. and languages which have been stunted in their growth. throat. Every man has tongue.—too much of an ideal.' Steinthal. there is the distinction between languages which have had a free and full development of their organisms. Muller. there is the distinction between synthetical languages like Greek and Latin. maturity. too little of a matterof-fact existence.—the origin of birth and death. teeth. or physiological point of view. too little of a relative character. But we must not conceive that this logical figment had ever a real existence. 'Einleitung in die Psychologie und Sprachwissenschaft.' any more than there is an abstract tree. we may frame a single abstract notion of language of which all existent languages may be supposed to be the perversion. there are comparatively few classes to which they can be referred. of barbarous nations. Nor do other logical distinctions or even grammatical exactly correspond to the facts of language. 'Lectures on the Science of Language. the speaker met with a response from the hearer. are few and simple. Whether we regard language from the psychological. unlike that imaginary abstract unity of which we were just now speaking. making. we may expect to know more of the other.') 95    . mouth. and if we ever know more of the one. The elements of all speech. Here then is a real basis of unity in the study of philology. or is anything more than an effort of the mind to give unity to infinitely various phenomena. They hardly enable us to approach any nearer the secret of the origin of language. other classes of letters. which. the materials of our knowledge are inexhaustible. 'Ueber die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues. and decay. There is no abstract language 'in rerum natura. Whatever slight differences exist in the use or formation of these organs. however. that there are distinctions of another kind by which this vast field of language admits of being mapped out. The organs of language are the same in all mankind. or historical. palate.

are. No inference can be drawn from language. the relations of sounds have been more accurately discriminated. Grammar is no longer confused with language. He is too apt to suppose that by breaking up the existing forms of language into their parts he will arrive at a previous stage of it. nor the anatomy of words and sentences with their life and use. and we see language more as it truly was. or rather. it is probable that the sentence is more akin to the original form than the word. they are full of what we term accident and irregularity. or why one race has triliteral. dropped out of verbs. either became pronouns or were generated out of pronouns. Although all languages have some common principles. there is no beginning. except in a composite form. me. by the lengthening and strengthening of vowels or by the shortening and weakening of them. And the difficulties of the subject become not less. However far he goes back. suffixes. quicker with others. another biliteral roots. like other creations of nature into which the will of man enters. partly because we are no longer satisfied with the vague and superficial ideas of it which prevailed fifty years ago. from which they are all descended. in 96    . k. by the condensation or rarefaction of consonants. either for or against the unity of the human race. again.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  It is more than sixteen years since the preceding remarks were written. The study has passed from the metaphysical into an historical stage. But who gave to language these primeval laws. or why in some members of a group of languages b becomes p. Such are a few of the general reflections which the present state of philology calls up. have been stripped off. in a state of transition. Not a tenth. the traces of it are often lost in the distance.' is a misleading figure of speech. but he has no evidence which will show that the omega of tupto or the mu of tithemi. as in Geology or in Astronomy. For languages have a natural but not a perfect growth. and thirdly. During the interval the progress of philology has been very great. or ch. the inner structure of language has been laid bare. like ripe fruit. by which the vagueness of theories is often concealed. The immensity of the subject is gradually revealed to us. t. are we sure that the original process of learning to speak was the same in different places or among different races of men. not a hundredth part of them has been preserved. or d. or is never known to have existed. there is no primitive form or forms of language known to us. Figures of speech. or why two languages resemble one another in certain parts of their structure and differ in others. infixes. as we proceed—it is one of those studies in which we seem to know less as we know more. or to be reasonably imagined. and that the later stage of language is the result rather of analysis than of synthesis. though analogous to ego. He may divide nouns and verbs into roots and inflexions. Yet the materials at our disposal are far greater than any individual can use. and the reign of law becomes apparent. To say that 'pronouns. Nor is there any proof that words were ever used without any relation to each other. It may have been slower with some. Yet the law is but partially seen. but he is merely analyzing what never existed. others longer words or cries: they may have been more or less inclined to agglutinate or to decompose them: they may have modified them by the use of prefixes. Many merely verbal questions have been eliminated. but into its first elements the philologer has never been able to penetrate. (1) Language seems to be composite. partly also because the remains of the languages with which we are acquainted always were. he never arrives at the beginning. because there are lacunae in our knowledge of them which can never be filled up. but greater. which with a few alterations have now been reprinted. or why in one language there is a greater development of vowels. and if they are still living. or possibly is a combination of the two. More languages have been compared. the remains of the old traditional methods have died away. the manner in which dialects affect or are affected by the literary or principal form of a language is better understood. Whatever may be the meaning of a sentence or a word when applied to primitive language. Nor. Some tribes may have used shorter.

whereas probably every art and part of wisdom had been DISCOVERED AND LOST MANY TIMES OVER. Metaph.' We must remember the length of time that has elapsed since man first walked upon the earth. (Compare Plato. One person may have introduced a new custom into the 97    .The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  another of consonants. showing them by example how to continue or divide their words. such notions were but a remnant of the past which has survived to our day. he would deem the reflection to have been inspired and would consider that. The influence of individuals must always have been a disturbing element. many times over. and at other times falling. if any. and that in this vast but unknown period every variety of language may have been in process of formation and decay. and the like—are questions of which we only 'entertain conjecture. any more than of the first huts or buildings which were constructed by man.') It can hardly be supposed that any traces of an original language still survive. do you think that you can reckon the time which has elapsed since cities first existed and men were citizens of them? CLEINIAS: Hardly. charming their souls with rhythm and accent and intonation. Like great writers in later times. and observe the changes which take place in them during infinite ages. and again improving or waning?' Aristot. and been sometimes rising. Laws):— 'ATHENIAN STRANGER: And what then is to be regarded as the origin of government? Will not a man be able to judge best from a point of view in which he may behold the progress of states and their transitions to good and evil? CLEINIAS: What do you mean? ATHENIAN STRANGER: I mean that he might watch them from the point of view of time. finding in familiar objects the expression of their confused fancies—to whom the whole of language might in truth be said to be a figure of speech.:— 'And if a person should conceive the tales of mythology to mean only that men thought the gods to be the first essences of things. ATHENIAN STRANGER: But you are quite sure that it must be vast and incalculable? CLEINIAS: No doubt. Nor are we at all certain of the relation. there may have been many a barbaric genius who taught the men of his tribe to sing or speak. in which the greater families of languages stand to each other. ATHENIAN STRANGER: And have there not been thousands and thousands of cities which have come into being and perished during this period? And has not every place had endless forms of government. CLEINIAS: How so? ATHENIAN STRANGER: Why.

or the rising of the sap in trees. e. the process of speech.But these are conjectures only: so little do we know of the origin of language that the real scholar is indisposed to touch the subject at all. letters are not thought of separately when we are uttering them.. no two leaves of the forest are precisely the same. Nor do we conceive languages any more than civilisations to be in a state of dissolution. as in the state. which is so misleading. in which art has imitated nature. But would it not be better if this term. he may have been imitated by others.' Nor do we attribute to them a supernatural origin. not by familiar mental processes. but by the interruption of them? Now in this sense we may truly say that we are not conscious of ordinary speech. were either banished or used only with the distinct meaning of 'attention to our own minds. which appears in the superficial forms of men and animals or in the leaves of trees. but only the dim light which makes such observation possible. almost their God. is an endless profusion and variety. or suppose similarity of structure to be the safe or only guide to the affinities of them. whose gesticulations and other peculiarities were instinctively imitated by them. It would be well if there were a similar consensus about some other points which appear to be still in dispute.—the 'king of men' who was their priest. who were his 'lawgivers'—'the legislator with the dialectician standing on his right hand. but of the few. is least observed by us.. or rhyme which he introduced in a single word may have become the type on which many other words or inflexions of words were framed.g. We no longer divide languages into synthetical and analytical. but not the minute particles of which it is made up: So the whole sentence may be conscious. The law which regulates them is like the law which governs the circulation of the blood. syllables. The laws of vegetation are invariable. and may have quickly ran through a whole language. or form. and the custom. or accent. though we are commonly roused to attention by the misuse or 98    . but which cannot be explained from within. it is not the faculty of internal observation. With few exceptions. and this analysis admits of innumerable degrees.' in Plato's striking image. no two words have exactly the same meaning.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  formation or pronunciation of a word.' they survive. Is language conscious or unconscious? In speaking or writing have we present to our minds the meaning or the sound or the construction of the words which we are using?—No more than the separate drops of water with which we quench our thirst are present: the whole draught may be conscious. No two sounds are exactly of the same quality. We do not pause at each mouthful to dwell upon the taste of it: nor has the speaker time to ask himself the comparative merits of different modes of expression while he is uttering them. but the result. not of the many. and yet has played so great a part in mental science. but no two languages are alike. 'Where two or three are gathered together. that of speech has been conveyed to him through the medium. We do not confuse the parts of speech with the categories of Logic. and the like. What is supposed to be our consciousness of language is really only the analysis of it. 'words are not made but grow. The laws of language are invariable.' such as is called forth. the action of it is uniform. who formed the manners of men and gave them customs. Consciousness carries us but a little way in the investigation of the mind. they do not easily pass away. but no two plants. there is a principle of renovation as well as of decay which is at work in all of them. There are many things in the use of language which may be observed from without. Neither do we suppose them to be invented by the wit of man. but are far more tenacious of life than the tribes by whom they are spoken. technical words or words newly imported from a foreign language. Like other natural operations. but the several words. (2) There are other errors besides the figment of a primitive or original language which it is time to leave behind us. whose voice and look and behaviour. when most perfect. As in the human frame. or quantity. or give precisely the same impression. For like the other gifts which nature has bestowed upon man.

and so many first thoughts to be dismissed. by greater or less stress. and we can substitute one note or accent for another. it has a double aspect. Again. Yet such figures of speech are far nearer the truth than the theories which attribute the invention and improvement of language to the conscious action of the human mind.. Still less. like the other laws of human action. even in schools and academies. for nations are made up of individuals. and not attribute to the one what belongs to the other. The answer in all cases is the same—that the laws of nature are uniform. like all the sciences which are concerned with man. It is true that within certain limits we possess the power of varying sounds by opening and closing the mouth. mentioned above. or of both combined. we must remember that the parents are alive as well as the children. are irregular. Neither in our own nor in any other age has the conscious effort of reflection in man contributed in an appreciable degree to the formation of language. it is doubted by recent philologians whether climate can be supposed to have exercised any influence worth speaking of on a language: such a view is said to be unproven: it had better therefore not be silently assumed. 99    .Lastly. and the like. But in this. the 'compounds' of Chemistry. The comparison of the growth of language in the individual and in the nation cannot be wholly discarded. and is likely to have the least power. and variety in its infinitesimal minuteness—both equally inscrutable to us. And when. 'the ripe fruit of pronouns dropping from verbs' (see above). 'Which of us by taking thought' can make new words or constructions? Reflection is the least of the causes by which language is affected. as in the other political sciences. as of nature. But behind the organs of speech and their action there remains the informing mind. as in young children and in the infancy of nations. The superficial appearances of language. which sets them in motion and works together with them. we should not forget how casual is the manner in which their resemblances have arisen—they were not first written down by a grammarian in the paradigms of a grammar and learned out of a book. we form into groups the roots or terminations of words. any more than in any other common act of mind and body. Neither need we raise the question whether the laws of language. but we do not therefore deny their deeper uniformity. and that all the preceding generations survive (after a manner) in the latest form of it. of technical or borrowed words which are artificially made or imported because a need of them is felt. do we ever attempt to invent new words or to alter the meaning of old ones. by touching the palate or the teeth with the tongue.' the 'strata' of Geology. before we can proceed safely in the path of philological enquiry.—inward and outward. It might be well sometimes to lay aside figures of speech. for the purposes of comparison. such as the 'root' and the 'branches. by lengthening or shortening the vocal instrument. when we speak of the hereditary or paternity of a language. except in the case.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  mispronunciation of a word. but were due to many chance attractions of sound or of meaning.' the 'stem. admit of exceptions. We need no longer discuss whether philology is to be classed with the Natural or the Mental sciences. if we frankly recognize that. but are apt to be delusive. which are always interesting. by a higher or lower pitch of the voice. we must distinguish between collective and individual actions or processes.. And behind the great structure of human speech and the lesser varieties of language which arise out of the many degrees and kinds of human intercourse. though the consistency or continuity of them is not always perceptible to us. they are really inseparable—no definite line can be drawn between them. and that the inward can only be known through the outward. A kindred error is the separation of the phonetic from the mental element of language. So many cautions have to be borne in mind. when the linguistic instinct is greatest. there is also the unknown or over-ruling law of God or nature which gives order to it in its infinite greatness.

or anything of this sort. beasts and fishes devour one another. There is a further objection which may be urged equally against all applications of the Darwinian theory. But in both cases the newly-created forms soon become fixed. the process of change is said to be insensible: sounds. But if he means that the word or the meaning of the word or some portion of the word which comes into use or drops out of use is selected or rejected on the ground of economy or parsimony or ease to the speaker or clearness or euphony or expressiveness. Often they seem intended only to remind us that great poets like Aeschylus or Sophocles or Pindar or a great prose writer like Thucydides are guilty of taking unwarrantable liberties with grammatical rules. has tended rather to obscure than explain the subject to which it has been applied. who are sometimes accused of putting words in the place of things. of a majority. unless by so doing he becomes unintelligible. but only one among many. or rather by the prevailing habit. hardly escapes from being a truism. though very far from being a mere chaos. he is affirming a proposition which has several senses. unless very precisely defined. as well as in the other sciences which are concerned with animal and vegetable life. are hardly ever contemporaneous. anacolutha. It seems to be true. whether ancient grammar or the corrections of it which modern philology has introduced. but by the persuasion. And a Darwinian school of philologists has sprung up. there are few if any vestiges of the intermediate links. and so the better half of the evidence of the change is wanting. allowing one usage to be substituted for another.' It is the anatomy. is indefinite. or greater or less demand for it. like animals. It distinguishes Moods and Tenses. If by 'the natural selection' of words or meanings of words or by the 'persistence and survival of the fittest' the maintainer of the theory intends to affirm nothing more than this—that the word 'fittest to survive' survives. it appears never to have occurred to the inventors of them that these real 'conditores linguae Graecae' lived in an age before grammar. The struggle for existence among words is not of that fierce and irresistible kind in which birds. The favourite figure. Nor in any case can the struggle for existence be deemed to be the sole or principal cause of changes in language. Passive. and one of which we cannot easily measure the importance. Grammar. As in animal life and likewise in vegetable. Its figures of speech. and can only act uniformly when there is such frequency of intercourse among neighbours as is sufficient to enforce them. which grammar seeks to describe: into the idiom and higher life of words it does not enter. that whether applied to language or to other branches of knowledge.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  'Natural selection' and the 'survival of the fittest' have been applied in the field of philology. For the laws of language are precarious. he adds not much to the knowledge of language. and Middle. and the like have no reality. as in some other uses of it. in this. admits of degrees. etc. And there are many reasons why a man should prefer his own way of speaking to that of others. and in none of these senses can be assisted to be uniformly true. pleonasms. they do not either make conscious expressions more intelligible or show the way in which they have arisen. when 'Greece also was living Greece. but of a milder sort. without suggesting that the double or treble forms of Perfects. like law. Active. Language is a 100    . Grammar gives an erroneous conception of language: for it reduces to a system that which is not a system. delights in definition: human speech. ellipses. The ordinary Greek grammar gives a complete paradigm of the verb. and is always in a state of change or transition. pros to semainomenon. so in languages. Aorists. not the physiology of language. but takes no notice of the precarious existence and uncertain character of the last of the three. without observing how much of the nature of one passes into the other. like human action. It makes three Voices. the Darwinian theory. they are chiefly designed to bring an earlier use of language into conformity with the later. (3) Among the incumbrances or illusions of language may be reckoned many of the rules and traditions of grammar. not by force. are supposed to pass into one another by imperceptible gradation.

Grammar divides verbs into regular and irregular: it does not recognize that the irregular. and that prepositions are used only to define the meaning of them with greater precision. Language cannot be explained by Metaphysics. for it is prior to them and much more nearly allied to sense. like Schleicher. But they are worse than useless when they outrun experience and abstract the mind from the observation of facts. equally with the regular. Even Kant himself thought that the first principles of philosophy could be elicited from the analysis of the proposition. This is true. and (3) in relation to one another. It is always wanting to describe ancient languages in the terms of a modern one. and that a language which had no exceptions would not be a natural growth: for it could not have been subjected to the influences by which language is ordinarily affected. It has a favourite fiction that one word is put in the place of another. Language has many varieties of usage: grammar tries to reduce them to a single one. the truth is that no word is ever put for another. only to envelope it in a mist of words. It is not likely that the meaning of the cases is ultimately resolvable into relations of space and time. nearly all of them to a certain extent have fallen under the dominion of physical science. Even to him the best grammar is the shortest and that in which he will have least to unlearn. are subject to law. or in so far as they furnish wider conceptions of the different branches of knowledge and of their relation to one another. and the omission has ceased to be observed. These instances are sufficient to show the sort of errors which grammar introduces into language.' it would have made far greater progress. It has another fiction. Nor can we suppose the conception of cause and effect or of the finite and infinite or of the same and other to be latent in language at a time when in their abstract form they had never entered into the mind of man. (2) in which they were regarded in relation to human thought. in proportion as men are isolated or united by locality or occupation. because they wear the appearance of philosophy and there is no test to which they can be subjected. Metaphysics are even more troublesome than the figments of grammar. They are of several patterns. The common explanation of kata or some other preposition 'being understood' in a Greek sentence is another fiction of the same kind. or they may meet in a struggle for existence until one of the two is overpowered and retires from the field. have been greatly influenced by the philosophy of Hegel. which tends to disguise the fact that under cases were comprehended originally many more relations. (4) Our knowledge of language is almost confined to languages which are fully developed. that a word has been omitted: words are omitted because they are no longer needed. they pass into dialects and grow out of them.If the science of Comparative Philology had possessed 'enough of Metaphysics to get rid of Metaphysics. They attain the full rights and dignity of language when they acquire the use of writing and have a literature of their own. and these become altered by admixture in various degrees. They are useful in so far as they give us an insight into the history of the human mind and the modes of thought which have existed in former ages.. in this respect falling short of Plato. but it is also true that the traditional grammar has still a great hold on the mind of the student. Some philologers.. The common language sometimes reacts upon the dialects and imparts to 101    . Westphal holds that there are three stages of language: (1) in which things were characterized independently. We are not considering the question of its utility to the beginner in the study. It may be said that the explanations here referred to are already out of date. But are not such distinctions an anachronism? for they imply a growth of abstract ideas which never existed in early times. and that the study of Greek grammar has received a new character from comparative philology.—they may only borrow a few words from one another and retain their life comparatively unaltered.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  thing of degrees and relations and associations and exceptions: grammar ties it up in fixed rules.

from provincialisms. how we construct and connect sentences. the affinities of letters. The simplest of all is to observe our own use of language in conversation or in writing. Why are the pronouns and the verb of existence generally more irregular than any other parts of speech? Why is the number of words so small in which the sound is an echo of the sense? Why does the meaning of words depart so widely from their etymology? Why do substantives often differ in meaning from the verbs to which they are related. and the confusion of them with one another. the mistakes to which we are ourselves most liable of spelling or pronunciation. they mark periods of unknown length in which war and conquest were running riot over whole continents. so pathetically described by Victor Hugo). 102    . the decay or loss of inflections. (6) Thus far we have been endeavouring to strip off from language the false appearances in which grammar and philology. from the argot of Paris (that language of suffering and crime. Language would be the greatest of all historical monuments. in which the masters became subjects and the subject races masters. and the like. such as that of Bishop Wilkins. or the love of system generally. aphasia. from the analysis of sounds in relation to the organs of speech. have clothed it. such as French or German. are chiefly useful in showing what language is not. the laws of euphony and sound. from the slang of great cities. if it could only tell us the history of itself. the formation and composition of words. and some of the laws by which sounds pass into one another.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  them also a literary character. Artificial languages. The laws of language can be best discerned in the great crises of language. from the jabbering of animals. how we put words together. such as the nature of irregular verbs. the elements of syntax. especially in the transitions from ancient to modern forms of them. the forgetfulness of proper names (more commonly than of other words because they are more isolated). which like 'a mountain river' is always forcing its way out. the searching for words. adverbs from adjectives? Why do words differing in origin coalesce in the same sound though retaining their differences of meaning? Why are some verbs impersonal? Why are there only so many parts of speech. There are philological lessons also to be gathered from nicknames. A few wellselected questions may lead the student at once into the heart of the mystery: such as. The study of any foreign language may be made also a study of Comparative Philology. We may learn something also from the falterings of old age. The phonograph affords a visible evidence of the nature and divisions of sound. Such changes are the silent notes of the world's history. we may now proceed to consider some of the principles or natural laws which have created or modified it. which may be examined as well in the history of our own language as of any other. even when we have only a slight knowledge of it. We have also sought to indicate the sources of our knowledge of it and the spirit in which we should approach it. what are the rules of accent and rhythm in verse or prose. from the imperfect articulation of the deaf and dumb. of indeclinable parts of speech. times of suffering too great to be endured by the human race. We may compare with our own language some other. and on what principle are they divided? These are a few crucial questions which give us an insight from different points of view into the true nature of language. Even a little Latin will enable us to appreciate the grand difference between ancient and modern European languages. whether in Europe or Asia. We may witness the delight in imitation and repetition. the influence of euphony. we may be truly said to know what we can manufacture. There are several points. tribes or nations left their original homes and but slowly found a resting-place. (5) There are many ways in which we may approach this study. in which driven by necessity or impelled by some instinct. In the child learning to speak we may note the inherent strength of language.

arithmetic with geometry. in every word and every termination of a word. the wolf howls in the solitude of the forest: they are answered by similar cries heard from a distance. in the composition as well as in the motion of all things. after a while they grew more refined—the natural laws of euphony began to affect them. The bird. but contain in themselves indications of other rules. We may still remark how much greater and more natural the exercise of the power is in the use of language than in any other process or action of the human mind. Many of these interruptions or variations of analogy occur in pronouns or in the verb of existence of which the forms were too common and therefore too deeply imbedded in language entirely to drop out. the principle of analogy opens the eyes of men to discern the similarities and differences of things. Time has an analogy with space. there is a similarity of relations by which they are held together. The sounds by which they were expressed were rough-hewn at first. It would be a mistake to suppose that the analogies of language are always uniform: there may be often a choice between several. and in some of their cases may have fallen out of use. accent. of meaning to meaning.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  i. is imitation. Speech before language was a rudis indigestaque materies. tenses. Not only in musical notes. is everywhere intersected by the lines of analogy. It was Anaxagoras' omou panta chremata. The same verbs in the same meaning may sometimes take one case. The participle may also have the character of an adjective. and their relations to one another. and sometimes one and sometimes another will prevail. they are not however really exceptions. ii. In Greek there are three declensions of nouns. the adverb either of an adjective or of a preposition. Language. The rules of syntax are likewise based upon analogy. numbers of verbs. The first and simplest of all the principles of language. In every sentence. this power of forming relations to one another was contained. the forms of cases in one of them may intrude upon another. but in the quantity. Primitive men learnt to speak from one another. too. They learnt of course a rudimentary. as in all nature. These exceptions are as regular as the rules. of meaning to sound. there is a law of proportion. It was the principle of analogy which introduced into this 'indigesta moles' order and measure. trivial or serious. But we may reasonably conjecture that there was a time when the vocal utterance of man was intermediate between what we now call language and the cry of a bird or animal. common also to the animals. he remembers and repeats the sound which he has heard. the persons. There was a proportion of sound to sound. were generally on the same or nearly the same pattern and had the same meaning. eita nous elthon diekosmese: the light of reason lighted up all things and at once began to arrange them. in which the cry of fear or joy mingled with more definite sounds recognized by custom as the expressions of things or events. quality. The same nouns may be partly declinable and partly indeclinable. rhythm of human speech. Man tells to man the secret place in which he is hiding himself. not yet distributed into words and sentences. The cases and numbers of nouns. mimics the voice of man and makes answer to him. Similarly verbs in -omega and -mu iota interchange forms of tenses. sometimes another. the cry or song or speech which was the expression of what we now call human thoughts and feelings. like the animal and vegetable worlds. Here are rules with exceptions. As in things of beauty. like a child from its mother or nurse. The lion roars. and the completed paradigm of the verb is often made up of both. Like number from which it seems to be derived.' During how many years or hundreds or thousands of years the imitative or half-articulate stage continued there is no possibility of determining. At first these are 103    . The love of imitation becomes a passion and an instinct to him. Imitation provided the first material of language: but it was 'without form and void. half-articulate language. but the causes of them are seldom known to us.

most economical of breath. and its influence grew less and less as time went on. because it was out of keeping with the rest. though in no language did they completely perfect themselves. certainly in Sanskrit. and the superfluous ones are utilized by the assignment to them of new meanings. The old onomatopea of primitive language was refined into an onomatopea of a higher kind. rhythms. in which it is no longer true to say that a particular sound corresponds to a motion or action of man or beast or movement of nature. varieties and contrasts of all sorts. but the whole world. In by far the greater number of words it has become disguised and has disappeared. nor (c) from greater convenience or expressiveness of particular sounds.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  such as lie on the surface only. or no other answer but this. We may try to grasp the infinity of language either under the figure of a limitless plain divided into countries and districts by natural boundaries. but in no stage of language is it entirely lost. It must be remembered that in all the languages which have a literature. iii. but as symbols of ideas which were naturally associated with them. or of a vast river eternally flowing whose origin is concealed from us. The fertility of language produces many more than are wanted. We may speak of a latent instinct. letters. we may apprehend partially the laws by which speech is regulated: but we do not know. The vacuity and the superfluity are thus partially compensated by each other. but that in all the higher uses of language the sound is the echo of the sense. in the case of one of two competing sounds. So not without admixture and confusion and displacement and contamination of sounds and the meanings of words. rhymes. syllables. groups of personal and case endings are placed side by side. and we seem as if we should never know. a lower stage of language passes into a higher. quantities. not of song. or because no further differentiation of them was required for the intelligibility of language. Thus far we can see and no further. Latin. there is no answer to the question. after a time they are seen by men to reach farther down into the nature of things. It regulated the juxtaposition of sounds and the cadence of sentences. it was an excrescence which had to be cut out. because for some unknown reason the motive powers of languages seem to have ceased when they were on the eve of completion: they became fixed or crystallized in an imperfect form either from the influence of writing and literature. in prose as well as verse. we have reached a time when the verb and the noun are nearly perfected. in which beauty and expressiveness are given to human thoughts by the harmonious composition of the words. but these expressions do not add anything to our knowledge. how vocal sounds received life and grew. it affected not so much single words. but of speech. It belongs chiefly to early language. accents. easiest. It remained for the most part only as a formative principle. as larger portions of human speech. The poet with his 104    . It received in another way a new character. We know from experience that it does not (a) arise from any conscious act of reflection that the accusative of a Latin noun in 'us' should end in 'um. not only language. When we ask the reason why this principle of analogy prevails in all the vast domain of language. any more than in the parallel case of the origin of species. To the ear which had a sense of harmony it became a barbarism which disturbed the flow and equilibrium of discourse. which used words and letters not as crude imitations of other natural sounds. analogy permeates. of a survival of the fittest. we are not at the beginning but almost at the end of the linguistic process. like number. both visible and intellectual. It was the music. Such notions were certainly far enough away from the mind of primitive man. a survival which needed to be got rid of. especially in poetry. that there are innumerable ways in which. in which words were few. most euphonic.' nor (b) from any necessity of being understood. Next in order to analogy in the formation of language or even prior to it comes the principle of onomatopea. and in the form of languages came to be distributed over the earth. Gradually in language they arrange themselves into a sort of imperfect system. Greek.—much less articulation would suffice for this. which is itself a kind of analogy or similarity of sound and meaning.

sting. thruptein (break). as a painter might insert or blot out a shade of colour to give effect to his picture. iv. may be considered the differentiation of languages. krouein (strike). however great may be the light which language throws upon the nature of the mind. syllable. These were often combined so as to form composite notions. feet which contributes to the effect of it. or bombos (buzzing). nearly the whole of the upper part of the human frame. perhaps out of some dialect.—a theory of language which is more and more refuted by facts. trachus (rugged). thrauein (crush). break. and partly also because the traces of onomatopea in separate words become almost obliterated in the course of ages. the letter eta of length. has the meaning of a deep sound. and more and more going out of fashion with philologians. the manner in which differences of meaning and form have arisen in 105    . fingers. letter to one another and to the rhythm of the whole passage. become the natural expressions of the finer parts of human feeling or thought. of which the first syllable. i. emphasis or pitch. but a formative principle. swing. break' or his e pasin nekuessi kataphthimenoisin anassein or his 'longius ex altoque sinum trahit. the form which is already best adapted to his purpose. which are parallel to one another and may be said to derive their vocal effect partly from contrast of letters. hands. as in its English equivalent. which in the later stage of the history of language ceases to act upon individual words. We may observe also (as we see in the case of the poor stammerer) that speech has the co-operation of the whole body and may be often assisted or half expressed by gesticulation. as we remark. The true onomatopea is not a creative. including head.—in all which words we notice a parallel composition of sounds in their English equivalents. although a letter or two having this imitative power may be a lesser element of beauty in such passages. as for example the omega in oon. He can only select. under a distinct head. partly because it has been supposed to imply an actual manufacture of words out of syllables and letters. The principle of onomatopea has fallen into discredit. pumbein (whirl). but still works through the collocation of them in the sentence or paragraph. We can see clearly enough that letters or collocations of letters do by various degrees of strength or weakness. as Plato observes that the letter rho accent is expressive of motion. Both in Greek and English we find groups of words such as string. length or shortness. like a piece of joiner's work.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  'Break. but in which it is impossible to assign a precise amount of meaning to each of the expressive and onomatopoetic letters. in which the fulness of the sound of the word corresponds to the thing signified by it. which adapts the word to the thing. And not only so. although not separable from the preceding. A sound or word is not the work of the vocal organs only.e. Plato also remarks. have a share in creating it. spring. the letters delta and tau of binding and rest. as for example in tromos (trembling). the letter lambda of smoothness. and further that no explanation of language consistently corresponds with any system of philosophy. that the onomatopoetic principle is far from prevailing uniformly. This is the higher onomatopea which has banished the cruder sort as unworthy to have a place in great languages and literatures. the letter omicron of roundness. A few of them are directly imitative. The poet of language cannot put in and pull out letters. which represents the round form of the egg by the figure of the mouth: or bronte (thunder). The same subtle sensibility. nu of inwardness. Next. chest. sling. adapts the sentence or cadence to the general meaning or spirit of the passage. and the adaptation of every word. and it may be accompanied by a movement of the eyes. but letters themselves have a significance.' can produce a far finer music than any crude imitations of things or actions in sound. lungs. It would be ridiculous for him to alter any received form of a word in order to render it more expressive of the sense. nose.

of differing analogies. Double forms suggest different meanings and are often used to express them. of logic and grammar. (7) We have shown that language. but we have no difficulty in ascertaining how the sounds and meanings of words were in time parted off or differentiated. For almost any formation which is not at variance with the first principles of language is possible and may be defended. We do not say that we know how sense became first allied to sound. although subject to laws. each noun or verb putting forth inflexions. and often becoming so complex that no true explanation of them can be given. and it parts into different senses when the classes of things or ideas which are represented by it are themselves different and distinct. Into their first creation we have ceased to enquire: it is their aftergrowth with which we are now concerned. New meanings of words push themselves into the vacant spaces of language and retire when they are no longer needed. in which different strata cross one another or meet at an angle. or is at all aware that in the course of a lifetime he and his contemporaries have appreciably varied their intonation or use of words. The good or neutral sense of a word. The difference of gender in nouns is utilized for the same reason. On the other hand. The grammarian. They may be compared to the faults of Geology. the necessities of language seem to require that the intermediate sounds or meanings of words should quickly become fixed or set and not continue in a state of transition. has been often converted into a bad one by the malevolence of party spirit. The process of settling down is aided by the organs of speech and by the use of writing and printing. and the form or accent of a word has been not unfrequently altered when there is a difference of meaning. So in language there are the cross influences of meaning and sound. of words and the inflexions of words. leaving many lacunae which can be no longer filled up. so that often we can hardly say that there is a right or wrong in the formation of words. Language equally abhors vacancy and superfluity. Yet no one observes the change. or mix with one another either by slow transitions or by violent convulsions. so that they form groups of nouns and verbs analogous in sound and sense to one another. But the remedial measures by which both are eliminated are not due to any conscious action of the human mind. We are told that changes of sound take place by innumerable gradations until a whole tribe or community or society find themselves acquiescing in a new pronunciation or use of language. 106    . such as Jesuit. (2) The meaning of words varies because ideas vary or the number of things which is included under them or with which they are associated is increased. We may now speak briefly of the faults of language. Methodist. generally of two or three patterns. sometimes to another (b) euphony. that is. is far from being of an exact and uniform nature. and it is complicated by irregularity.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  them. if he were to form new words. A single word is thus made to do duty for many more things than were formerly expressed by it. Heretic. The subtlety of nature goes far beyond art. would make them all of the same pattern according to what he conceives to be the rule. How did the roots or substantial portions of words become modified or inflected? and how did they receive separate meanings? First we remark that words are attracted by the sounds and senses of other words. which lead sometimes to one form. the more common usage of language. Puritan. which often come into conflict with each other. by which is meant chiefly the greater pleasure to the ear and the greater facility to the organs of speech which is given by a new formation or pronunciation of a word (c) the necessity of finding new expressions for new classes or processes of things. (1) The chief causes which regulate the variations of sound are (a) double or differing analogies. and with exceptions. A figurative use of a word may easily pass into a new sense: a new meaning caught up by association may become more important than all the rest. nor is the force exerted by them constraining or necessary.

Before the growth of poetry or the invention of writing. So they continued to be in parts of the country in which writing was not used or in which there was no diffusion of literature. (2) the fear of tautology.' (8) There are two ways in which a language may attain permanence or fixity. it may be written down and in a written form distributed more or less widely among the whole nation. twenty or one hundred fold by the invention of printing. When a book sinks into the mind of a nation. that is to say. the connexion closer.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  The imperfection of language is really due to the formation and correlation of words by accident. (4) the power of idiom and quotation. The instinct of language demands regular grammar and correct spelling: these are imprinted deeply on the tablets of a nation's memory by a common use of classical and popular writers. The verses have been repeated as a chant or part of a ritual. but a great step towards uniformity has been made. First. It has been usual to depreciate modern languages when compared with ancient. but they have had no relation to ordinary life or speech. was constrained to 'supplement the poor creature imitation by another poor creature convention. In most of the counties of England there is still a provincial style.' But the poor creature convention in the end proves too much for all the rest: for we do not ask what is the origin of words or whether they are formed according to a correct analogy. et jus et norma loquendi. it may have been embodied in poems or hymns or laws. not only have new powers of expression been diffused through a whole nation. or again great classical works like Shakspere or Milton. which may be repeated for hundreds. But it may have taken a long time to perfect the art of writing. (3) the influence of metre. languages were only dialects. and we are apt to think that such an inestimable gift would have immediately been diffused over a whole country. perhaps for thousands of years with a religious accuracy. In either case the language which is familiarly spoken may have grown up wholly or in a great measure independently of them. or is only doubtfully recovered by the efforts of modern philology. and we are compelled to admit with Hermogenes in Plato and with Horace that usage is the ruling principle. rhyme. But the truth seems to be that modern languages. (2) The invention of writing again is commonly attributed to a particular epoch. like ourselves unable to comprehend the whole of language. (9) Proceeding further to trace the influence of literature on language we note some other causes which have affected the higher use of it: such as (1) the necessity of clearness and connexion. by principles which are unknown to us. the sentence and paragraph 107    . and another long period may have elapsed before it came into common use. (1) The first of these processes has been sometimes attended by the result that the sound of the words has been carefully preserved and that the meaning of them has either perished wholly. Hence we see why Plato. (5) the relativeness of words to one another. secondly. if through the loss of inflections and genders they lack some power or beauty or expressiveness or precision which is possessed by the ancient. but what is the usage of them. which has been sometimes made by a great poet the vehicle of his fancies. rhythm. so that to the priests or rhapsodists of a nation the whole or the greater part of a language is literally preserved. Its influence on language has been increased ten. such as Luther's Bible or the Authorized English Translation of the Bible. The latter are regarded as furnishing a type of excellence to which the former cannot attain. 'quem penes arbitrium est. and of the language of prose and verse upon one another. In our own day we have attained to a point at which nearly every printed book is spelt correctly and written grammatically. are in many other respects superior to them: the thought is generally clearer.

The wide diffusion of great authors would make such a decline impossible. for ancient poetry is almost as free from tautology as the best modern writings. The cultivated mind desires something more. kai de and the like. to lose its flow and freedom. tautology begins to appear. It is a very early instinct of language.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  are better distributed. On the other hand. But within the sentence the expression of the logical relations of the clauses is closer and more exact: there is less of apposition and participial structure. German. kaitoi. When they grow up and have ideas which are beyond their powers of expression. They are distributed on the right hand and on the left by men. if not as the Greek. prepositions. In the two latter. Nor will modern languages be easily broken up by amalgamation with each other. Of the comparative effect of accent and quantity and of the relation between them in ancient and modern languages we are not able to judge. In like manner when language is 'contaminated' by philosophy it is apt to become awkward. conjunctions may or rather must recur in successive lines. also escapes from it. if at all. The structure of the English language differs greatly from that of either Latin or Greek. The speech of young children. It is a popular remark that our great writers are beginning to disappear: it may also be remarked that whenever a great writer appears in the future he will find the English language as perfect and as ready for use as in the days of Shakspere or Milton. the same words are repeated at short intervals. The three concords are more accurately observed in English than in either Greek or Latin. de. the differences are too great to be overcome. except at the distance of a page or more. No English style is thought tolerable in which. these again are less distinctly marked in Greek and Latin than in English.—e. possess as great a power of self-improvement as the Latin. especially in Greek. sentences are joined together by connecting particles. Of course the length of the interval must depend on the character of the word. and generally to an enlargement of the vocabulary. or deduced from one another by ara. alla. they are laid side by side or slightly connected by the copula. The best modern languages. the extension of the familiar use of the masculine and feminine gender to objects of sense and abstract ideas as well as to men and animals no doubt lends a nameless grace to style which we have a difficulty in appreciating. Striking words and expressions cannot be allowed to reappear. when another word or turn of expression would have given a new shade of meaning to the thought and would have added a pleasing variety to the sound. especially in writing. to stammer and repeat itself. except for the sake of emphasis. The distance between them is too wide to be spanned. toinun and the like. In English the majority of sentences are independent and in apposition to one another. and English have an advantage over the classical languages in point of accuracy. except in so far as they are compelled to repeat themselves by the fewness of their words. Another quality in which modern are superior to ancient languages is freedom from tautology. which a skilful writer is easily able to supply out of his treasure-house. There is no reason to suppose that English or French will ever be reduced to the low level of Modern Greek or of Mediaeval Latin. Nor does there seem to be any reason why they should ever decline or decay. felicity and happiness. for example English or French. Generally French. The sentences thus laid side by side are also constructed into paragraphs.g. de. And the mind equally rejects the repetition of the word and the use of a mere synonym for it. and the possible variety in the order of words gives more flexibility and also a kind of dignity to the period. and the use of printing makes it impossible that one of them should ever be lost in another. Pronouns. oun. It seems to be a kind of impertinence to the reader and strikes unpleasantly both on the mind and on the ear that the same sounds should be used twice over. No 108    . The fear of tautology has doubtless led to the multiplications of words and the meanings of words.

The better known words. which we turn into differences of kind by applying the term only to conspicuous and striking examples of words or phrases which have this quality. the word or expression which strikes us or comes home to us. To poetry the form and polish of language is chiefly to be attributed. Some reflection of them near or distant is embodied in it. which in all succeeding ages became the natural vehicle of expression to all mankind. make up a new kind of harmony. One letter harmonizes with another. It often supersedes the laws of language or the rules of grammar. Most of us have experienced a sort of delight and feeling of curiosity when we first came across or when we first used for ourselves a new word or phrase or figure of speech. for a while probably gave more delight to the hearers or readers of them than the Poems themselves. and to those who had all their life been hearing poetry the first introduction of prose had the charm of novelty. which has in it something of the nature of a lie. It is a quality which really exists in infinite degrees. In any new use of a word all the existing uses of it have to be considered. One of the most curious and characteristic features of language. and perhaps Bacon. Every one knows that we often put words together in a manner which would be intolerable if it were not idiomatic. We cannot argue either about the meaning of words or the use of constructions that because they are used in one connexion they will be legitimate in another. is far from unpleasing to us. and the most critical period in the history of language is the transition from verse to prose. that which is familiar. swelling into strains not less majestic than those of Homer. Henceforward prose and poetry formed each other.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  philosophical writer with the exception of Plato. not only from itself. The meaning of the word 'idiom' is that which is peculiar. affecting both syntax and style. or rather is to be regarded as another law of language which is natural and necessary. but from the words with which it is associated. rhythm and accent and the order of words and the balance of clauses. We may trace in poetry how the simple succession of lines. has passed into a complicated period. Quotations are as often applied in a sense which the author did not intend as in that which he did. has attained to any high degree of literary excellence. Virgil. or Dante. Upon these depends the question 109    . There are associations of sound and of sense by which every word is linked to every other. every verb or noun derives its meaning. not without monotony. are more agreeable to us and have a greater power over us. is idiom. unless we allow for this principle. and how in prose. to which regularity was given by accent and quantity. A comparatively slender link between them was also furnished by proverbs. At first mankind were contented to express their thoughts in a set form of words having a kind of rhythm. Striking expressions also which have moved the hearts of nations or are the precious stones and jewels of great authors partake of the nature of idioms: they are taken out of the sphere of grammar and are exempt from the proprieties of language. even if their meaning be perverted. which is more readily understood or more easily remembered. The parody of the words of Shakspere or of the Bible. We can bear to have words and sentences used in new senses or in a new order or even a little perverted in meaning when we are quite familiar with them. The word or phrase which has been repeated many times over is more intelligible and familiar to us than one which is rare. sometimes not without a slight admixture of rhyme. and in time the relation of the two was reversed: the poems which had once been a necessity of the human mind became a luxury: they were now superseded by prose. The prose romances into which the Homeric Poems were converted. and our familiarity with it more than compensates for incorrectness or inaccuracy in the use of it. who is himself not free from tautology. But after a time they demanded a greater degree of freedom.

there is also the larger context of history and circumstances. It gives a new interest to distant and subject countries. and has attained the dignity of an Inductive Science. Lexicons assign to each word a definite meaning or meanings. dead. when they are only put together like the parts of a piece of furniture. Nations. But we must not therefore forget that there is also a higher ideal of language in which all is relative—sounds to sounds.' Steinthal. it brings back the dawning light from one end of the earth to the other. A word or two may be sufficient to give an intimation to a friend. language becomes unpoetical.' When they cease to retain this living power of adaptation. or that even if our materials are largely increased. it has passed out of the region of guesses and hypotheses. (2) It is relative to facts. for in teaching we need clearness rather than subtlety. Like some other branches of knowledge. It may be said to have thrown a light upon all other sciences and upon the nature of the human mind itself. in expressive.' M. Yet it is far from certain that this newly-found science will continue to progress in the same surprising manner as heretofore. (1) It is relative to its own context. They both tend to obscure the fact that the sentence precedes the word and that all language is relative. Delbruck. there is no need to allude to them further. 'Words are living creatures. and occasion: when they are already known to the hearer or reader.' Paul's 'Principles of the History of Language:' to the latter work the author of this Essay is largely indebted. Except for the sake of order and consecutiveness nothing ought to be expressed which is already commonly or universally known. Muller. But at any rate it has brought back the philosophy of language from theory to fact. Lastly. a long or elaborate speech or composition is required to explain some new idea to a popular audience or to the ordinary reader or to a young pupil. The study of Comparative Philology has introduced into the world a new science which more than any other binds up man with nature. Its meaning is modified by what has been said before and after in the same or in some other passage: without comparing the context we are not sure whether it is used in the same sense even in two successive sentences. 'Einleitung in die Psychologie und Sprachwissenschaft:' and for the latter part of the Essay. 'Lectures on the Science of Language. words to words.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  whether it will bear the proposed extension of meaning or not. 'Ueber die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues. are better understood by us when we know something of their early life. but also of natural knowledge. we may remember that all knowledge is valuable for its own sake.) 110    . Humboldt. and distant ages and countries with one another. like individuals. and we may also hope that a deeper insight into the nature of human speech will give us a greater command of it and enable us to make a nobler use of it. The true conception of it dispels many errors. and when they are better understood by us. it may be approaching a point at which it can no longer be profitably studied. they may be presupposed. 'Study of Language. (Compare again W. the parts to the whole—in which besides the lesser context of the book or speech. to time. place. we shall arrive at much more definite conclusions than at present. And it is not without practical and political importance. According to the famous expression of Luther. Grammars would lead us to suppose that words have a fixed form and sound. Grammars and dictionaries are not to be despised. having hands and feet. not only of metaphysics and theology. we feel more kindly towards them. (3) It is relative to the knowledge of the writer and reader or of the speaker and hearer.

indeed. or rather tell me. whether his own name of Cratylus is a true name or not.' And when I am anxious to have a further explanation he is ironical and mysterious. Hermogenes. what is your own view of the truth or correctness of names. HERMOGENES: I have often talked over this matter. as I was saying. and therefore we had better leave the question open until we have heard both sides. and could entirely convince me. I suspect that he is only making fun of you. there is an ancient saying. however. I will. Socrates. Cratylus. and seems to imply that he has a notion of his own about the matter. and 111    . I might have heard the fifty-drachma course of the great Prodicus. HERMOGENES: I should explain to you. which I would far sooner hear. and if you change that and give another. When he declares that your name is not really Hermogenes. and cannot convince myself that there is any principle of correctness in names other than convention and agreement.—he means to say that you are no true son of Hermes. Socrates. HERMOGENES: Suppose that we make Socrates a party to the argument? CRATYLUS: If you please. which is the same for Hellenes as for barbarians. there is a good deal of difficulty in this sort of knowledge. Whereupon I ask him. If I had not been poor. I have only heard the single-drachma course. any name which you give. because you are always looking after a fortune and never in luck. Tell me. is that which he is called. SOCRATES: Son of Hipponicus. that 'hard is the knowledge of the good. he says that they are natural and not conventional. But. as I tell him. But. if he chose to be intelligible. that our friend Cratylus has been arguing about names. if he would only tell.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  CRATYLUS By Plato Translated by Benjamin Jowett PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Socrates.' And the knowledge of names is a great part of knowledge. and therefore.' And Socrates? 'Yes. if you will be so good. and he answers 'Yes. is the right one. To this he replies—'If all the world were to call you Hermogenes. that would not be your name. the new name is as correct as the old—we frequently change the names of our slaves. but that there is a truth or correctness in them. gladly assist you and Cratylus in the investigation of them. both with Cratylus and others. what this oracle means. I do not know the truth about such matters. in my opinion. which is a complete education in grammar and language—these are his own words—and then I should have been at once able to answer your question about the correctness of names. not a portion of the human voice which men agree to use.' Then every man's name.

SOCRATES: Is a proposition resolvable into any part smaller than a name? 112    . let me take an instance. all is convention and habit of the users. But if I am mistaken I shall be happy to hear and learn of Cratylus. SOCRATES: But is a proposition true as a whole only. SOCRATES: I dare say that you may be right. you mean to say that a man will be rightly called a horse by me individually. Hermogenes: let us see. SOCRATES: And there are true and false propositions? HERMOGENES: To be sure. SOCRATES: But how about truth. and a false proposition says that which is not? HERMOGENES: Yes. and are the parts untrue? HERMOGENES: No. SOCRATES: Would you say the large parts and not the smaller ones. SOCRATES: Well. now. SOCRATES: Whether the giver of the name be an individual or a city? HERMOGENES: Yes. that the name of each thing is only that which anybody agrees to call it? HERMOGENES: That is my notion. and rightly called a man by the rest of the world. or of any one else. what other answer is possible? SOCRATES: Then in a proposition there is a true and false? HERMOGENES: Certainly.—such is my view.—Your meaning is. or every part? HERMOGENES: I should say that every part is true.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  the newly-imposed name is as good as the old: for there is no name given to anything by nature. according to my view. and a horse again would be rightly called a man by me and a horse by the world:—that is your meaning? HERMOGENES: He would. then? you would acknowledge that there is in words a true and a false? HERMOGENES: Certainly. the parts are true as well as the whole. SOCRATES: And a true proposition says that which is.—suppose that I call a man a horse or a horse a man.

Hermogenes. SOCRATES: Yes. as Protagoras tells us? For he says that man is the measure of all things. 113    . indeed. and in different cities and countries there are different names for the same things. I can conceive no correctness of names other than this. and a good many of them. and have you ever found any very good ones? HERMOGENES: Not many. and that things are to me as they appear to me. SOCRATES: Then the name is a part of the true proposition? HERMOGENES: Yes.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: No. Hellenes differ from barbarians in their use of names. that is the smallest. and I another. but I have often had reason to think that there are very bad men. and the several Hellenic tribes from one another. and a true part. SOCRATES: What! have you ever been driven to admit that there was no such thing as a bad man? HERMOGENES: No. when I have been driven in my perplexity to take refuge with Protagoras. Do you agree with him. names may be true and false? HERMOGENES: So we must infer. not that I agree with him at all. SOCRATES: And the name of anything is that which any one affirms to be the name? HERMOGENES: Yes. Socrates. and that they are to you as they appear to you. as you say. SOCRATES: Well. SOCRATES: And will there be so many names of each thing as everybody says that there are? and will they be true names at the time of uttering them? HERMOGENES: Yes. you give one name. SOCRATES: And is not the part of a falsehood also a falsehood? HERMOGENES: Yes. SOCRATES: Then. HERMOGENES: Yes. Socrates. SOCRATES: But would you say. or would you say that things have a permanent essence of their own? HERMOGENES: There have been times. if propositions may be true and false. that the things differ as the names differ? and are they relative to individuals.

one man cannot in reality be wiser than another. and all things do not equally belong to all at the same moment and always. fluctuating according to our fancy. that all things equally belong to all men at the same moment and always. for neither on his view can there be some good and others bad. or influenced by us. and things are not relative to individuals. wisdom and folly are really distinguishable. if virtue and vice are always equally to be attributed to all. and with any chance instrument. but any other will fail and be of no use at all. they must be supposed to have their own proper and permanent essence: they are not in relation to us. I think. SOCRATES: But if Protagoras is right. and maintain to their own essence the relation prescribed by nature. HERMOGENES: He cannot. SOCRATES: Nor will you be disposed to say with Euthydemus. that you have said the truth. but they are independent. SOCRATES: And would you hold that the very good were the very wise. or equally to the actions which proceed from them? Are not actions also a class of being? HERMOGENES: Yes. but we cut with the proper instrument only. 114    . for example. For if what appears to each man is true to him. HERMOGENES: There cannot. and not according to our opinion of them? In cutting. and according to the natural process of cutting. and the natural process is right and will succeed. you will allow. SOCRATES: But if neither is right. SOCRATES: And if. how can some of us be wise and some of us foolish? HERMOGENES: Impossible.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Still you have found them? HERMOGENES: Yes. SOCRATES: Does what I am saying apply only to the things themselves. HERMOGENES: I think. and the very evil very foolish? Would that be your view? HERMOGENES: It would. that the assertion of Protagoras can hardly be correct. we do not cut as we please. SOCRATES: Then the actions also are done according to their proper nature. the actions are real as well as the things. on the other hand. and the truth is that things are as they appear to any one. Socrates. HERMOGENES: I should say that the natural way is the right way.

SOCRATES: And speech is a kind of action? HERMOGENES: True. that which has to be cut has to be cut with something? HERMOGENES: Yes. SOCRATES: And that which has to be woven or pierced has to be woven or pierced with something? HERMOGENES: Certainly. HERMOGENES: I quite agree with you. SOCRATES: And this holds good of all actions? HERMOGENES: Yes. HERMOGENES: I agree. SOCRATES: And we saw that actions were not relative to ourselves. SOCRATES: But again. SOCRATES: And if speaking is a sort of action and has a relation to acts. and with a proper instrument. and with the natural instrument? Any other mode of speaking will result in error and failure. HERMOGENES: True. and the right instrument the natural instrument. HERMOGENES: That is true.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Again. in burning. SOCRATES: And is not naming a part of speaking? for in giving names men speak. not every way is the right way. but the right way is the natural way. and not at our pleasure: in this and no other way shall we name with success. SOCRATES: Then the argument would lead us to infer that names ought to be given according to a natural process. SOCRATES: And will a man speak correctly who speaks as he pleases? Will not the successful speaker rather be he who speaks in the natural way of speaking. and as things ought to be spoken. is not naming also a sort of action? HERMOGENES: True. 115    . but had a special nature of their own? HERMOGENES: Precisely.

The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: And that which has to be named has to be named with something? HERMOGENES: True.' HERMOGENES: Well. 116    . and distinguish things according to their natures? HERMOGENES: Certainly we do. SOCRATES: What is that with which we pierce? HERMOGENES: An awl. 'What do we do when we weave?'—The answer is. SOCRATES: Suppose that I ask. SOCRATES: Do we not give information to one another. SOCRATES: And with which we name? HERMOGENES: A name. what do we do when we name? HERMOGENES: I cannot say. SOCRATES: And now suppose that I ask a similar question about names: will you answer me? Regarding the name as an instrument. HERMOGENES: Very true. 'What sort of instrument is a shuttle?' And you answer. and of instruments in general? HERMOGENES: To be sure. that we separate or disengage the warp from the woof. as the shuttle is of distinguishing the threads of the web. SOCRATES: Very good: then a name is an instrument? HERMOGENES: Certainly. SOCRATES: And with which we weave? HERMOGENES: A shuttle. SOCRATES: And I ask again. SOCRATES: Then a name is an instrument of teaching and of distinguishing natures. 'A weaving instrument. SOCRATES: And may not a similar description be given of an awl.

SOCRATES: Then the weaver will use the shuttle well—and well means like a weaver? and the teacher will use the name well—and well means like a teacher? HERMOGENES: Yes. I suppose so. SOCRATES: And when the teacher uses the name. whose work will he be using well? HERMOGENES: That of the carpenter. SOCRATES: And is every man a carpenter.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: Yes. SOCRATES: And the shuttle is the instrument of the weaver? HERMOGENES: Assuredly. uses the work of the legislator? HERMOGENES: I agree. or the skilled only? HERMOGENES: The skilled only. SOCRATES: Cannot you at least say who gives us the names which we use? HERMOGENES: Indeed I cannot. or the skilled only? HERMOGENES: Only the skilled. SOCRATES: Does not the law seem to you to give us them? HERMOGENES: Yes. SOCRATES: Then the teacher. SOCRATES: And is every man a legislator. when he gives us a name. 117    . SOCRATES: And when the piercer uses the awl. or only the skilled? HERMOGENES: The skilled only. SOCRATES: And when the weaver uses the shuttle. whose work will he be using? HERMOGENES: There again I am puzzled. SOCRATES: And is every man a smith. whose work will he be using well? HERMOGENES: That of the smith.

SOCRATES: For the several forms of shuttles naturally answer to the several kinds of webs. HERMOGENES: Yes. and this is the legislator. which he employs. or other material. who of all skilled artisans in the world is the rarest. not every man is able to give a name. will he make another. SOCRATES: And suppose the shuttle to be broken in making. SOCRATES: Might not that be justly called the true or ideal shuttle? HERMOGENES: I think so. Hermogenes. and whatever is the shuttle best adapted to each kind of work. for the manufacture of garments. woollen.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Then. looking to the broken one? or will he look to the form according to which he made the other? HERMOGENES: To the latter. but only a maker of names. HERMOGENES: True. and to make and give all names with a view to the ideal name. and this is true of instruments in general. SOCRATES: Then. he must express this natural form. SOCRATES: And how does the legislator make names? and to what does he look? Consider this in the light of the previous instances: to what does the carpenter look in making the shuttle? Does he not look to that which is naturally fitted to act as a shuttle? HERMOGENES: Certainly. as to names: ought not our legislator also to know how to put the true natural name of each thing into sounds and syllables. SOCRATES: And the same holds of other instruments: when a man has discovered the instrument which is naturally adapted to each work. of flaxen. SOCRATES: And how to put into wood forms of shuttles adapted by nature to their uses? HERMOGENES: True. for example. I should imagine. in the material. that ought to be the form which the maker produces in each case. thin or thick. HERMOGENES: Yes. whatever it may be. he ought to know how to put into iron the forms of awls adapted by nature to their several uses? HERMOGENES: Certainly. ought all of them to have the true form of the shuttle. SOCRATES: And whatever shuttles are wanted. and not others which he fancies. if he is to be a namer in any true sense? And we must remember that different legislators will 118    .

Socrates. SOCRATES: And who will be best able to direct the legislator in his work. this or that country makes no matter. make them all of the same iron. SOCRATES: And how to answer them? HERMOGENES: Yes. SOCRATES: And the legislator. The form must be the same. and still the instrument may be equally good of whatever iron made. SOCRATES: And him who knows how to ask and answer you would call a dialectician? 119    . whether in Hellas or in a foreign country.—there is no difference.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  not use the same syllables. HERMOGENES: Very true. whether he be Hellene or barbarian. HERMOGENES: Quite true. in this or any other country? Will not the user be the man? HERMOGENES: Yes. SOCRATES: And this is he who knows how to ask questions? HERMOGENES: Yes. SOCRATES: And who will direct the shipwright? HERMOGENES: The pilot. SOCRATES: But who then is to determine whether the proper form is given to the shuttle. he who is to use them. is not therefore to be deemed by you a worse legislator. whatever sort of wood may be used? the carpenter who makes. but the material may vary. provided he gives the true and proper form of the name in whatever syllables. For neither does every smith. SOCRATES: And who is he? HERMOGENES: The player of the lyre. although he may be making the same instrument for the same purpose. and who will know also whether the work is being well done or not? HERMOGENES: Certainly. and will know whether the work is well done. or the weaver who is to use them? HERMOGENES: I should say. SOCRATES: And who uses the work of the lyre-maker? Will not he be the man who knows how to direct what is being done.

HERMOGENES: Very good. SOCRATES: And the work of the legislator is to give names. HERMOGENES: But how inconsistent should I be. and Cratylus is right in saying that things have names by nature. Socrates. But you have not yet come into your inheritance. a step has been gained. whilst repudiating Protagoras and his truth ('Truth' was the title of the book of Protagoras.). compare Theaet. HERMOGENES: Certainly. that would be his name. if you care to know. if the rudder is to be well made. is the next question. Callias. HERMOGENES: I cannot answer you. SOCRATES: Then reflect. I were to attach any value to what he and his book affirm! 120    . and the dialectician must be his director if the names are to be rightly given? HERMOGENES: That is true. for we have discovered that names have by nature a truth. SOCRATES: Then. I should say that this giving of names can be no such light matter as you fancy. has—rather dearly—bought the reputation of wisdom. if you would show me what this is which you term the natural fitness of names. and proposing to share the enquiry with you? But now that you and I have talked over the matter. if. and beg and entreat him to tell you what he has learnt from Protagoras about the fitness of names. and I think that I should be more readily persuaded. but I find a difficulty in changing my opinion all in a moment. SOCRATES: And what is the nature of this truth or correctness of names? That. and that not every man is an artificer of names. and is able to express the true forms of things in letters and syllables. or the work of light or chance persons. of whom your brother. HERMOGENES: True. SOCRATES: My good Hermogenes. Was I not telling you just now (but you have forgotten). SOCRATES: Then the work of the carpenter is to make a rudder. that I knew nothing. and therefore you had better go to him. but he only who looks to the name which each thing by nature has. I care to know. HERMOGENES: How shall I reflect? SOCRATES: The true way is to have the assistance of those who know. these are the Sophists. and you must pay them well both in money and in thanks. and the pilot has to direct him. and that not every man knows how to give a thing a name. I have none to show. Hermogenes.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: Yes.

but the names of Scamandrius and Astyanax. 'the Gods call Xanthus. and about this river—to know that he ought to be called Xanthus and not Scamander—is not that a solemn lesson? Or about the bird which. notably and nobly in the places where he distinguishes the different names which Gods and men give to the same things. then. and men call Scamander.') And there are many other observations of the same kind in Homer and other poets. SOCRATES: Let me ask you. the wiser? 121    . if you were asked whether the wise or the unwise are more likely to give correct names? HERMOGENES: I should say the wise.' as he says. SOCRATES: Well. Does he not in these passages make a remarkable statement about the correctness of names? For the Gods must clearly be supposed to call things by their right and natural names. and what does he say? SOCRATES: He often speaks of them. and what the poet means by correctness may be more readily apprehended in that instance: you will remember I dare say the lines to which I refer? (Il.) HERMOGENES: I do. Now. which he affirms to have been the names of Hector's son. as he says. 'The Gods call Chalcis. taken as a class. But to what are you referring? SOCRATES: Do you not know what he says about the river in Troy who had a single combat with Hephaestus? 'Whom. I think that this is beyond the understanding of you and me. HERMOGENES: And where does Homer say anything about names. do you not think so? HERMOGENES: Why. as I am disposed to think.' HERMOGENES: I remember. are more within the range of human faculties. of course. you must learn of Homer and the poets. SOCRATES: How would you answer. if they call them at all. and men Cymindis:' to be taught how much more correct the name Chalcis is than the name Cymindis—do you deem that a light matter? Or about Batieia and Myrina? (Compare Il. of course they call them rightly. 'The hill which men call Batieia and the immortals the tomb of the sportive Myrina. SOCRATES: And are the men or the women of a city.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Then if you despise him. which did Homer think the more correct of the names given to Hector's son—Astyanax or Scamandrius? HERMOGENES: I do not know.

when he says. SOCRATES: There is reason. But. not I. and I believe you to be on the right track. the men. SOCRATES: And Homer. did not Homer himself also give Hector his name? HERMOGENES: What of that? SOCRATES: The name appears to me to be very nearly the same as the name of Astyanax—both are Hellenic. as you know. but if the men called him Astyanax. friend. SOCRATES: Then he must have thought Astyanax to be a more correct name for the boy than Scamandrius? HERMOGENES: Clearly. and owns. and a king (anax) and a holder (ektor) have nearly the same meaning. SOCRATES: And what is the reason of this? Let us consider:—does he not himself suggest a very good reason. the other name of Scamandrius could only have been given to him by the women. for a man is clearly the holder of that of which he is king. and indeed I believe that I myself did not know what I meant when I imagined that I had found some indication of the opinion of Homer about the correctness of names. 'For he alone defended their city and long walls'? This appears to be a good reason for calling the son of the saviour king of the city which his father was saving. you may think that I am talking nonsense. I am speaking only of the ordinary course of nature. says that the Trojan men called him Astyanax (king of the city). HERMOGENES: I assure you that I think otherwise. and are both descriptive of a king. SOCRATES: Why. perhaps. when an animal produces after his kind. and do you? HERMOGENES: No.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: I should say. I do not as yet see myself. Hermogenes. indeed. SOCRATES: But tell me. HERMOGENES: I see. and the foal of a horse a horse. as Homer observes. in calling the lion's whelp a lion. SOCRATES: And must not Homer have imagined the Trojans to be wiser than their wives? HERMOGENES: To be sure. and not 122    . he rules. and holds it. HERMOGENES: That may be inferred. I think.

and others which denote a physician. SOCRATES: The same names. differing in their syllables and letters. As was just now said. And whether the syllables of the name are the same or not the same. the names of Hector and Astyanax have only one letter alike. And there are many other names which just mean 'king. for example. the letter beta—the addition of eta. nor does the addition or subtraction of a letter make any difference so long as the essence of the thing remains in possession of the name and appears in it. and therefore has the same name. provided the meaning is retained. who regards the power of them. whether vowels or consonants. for this need not interfere with the meaning. as. I may illustrate my meaning by the names of letters. but so long as we introduce the meaning. the name of the letter is quite correct. alpha. then. although to the physician. but having the same meaning. and does not prevent the whole name from having the value which the legislator intended—so well did he know how to give the letters names. for example. and yet they have the same meaning. Do you agree with me? HERMOGENES: Yes. which you know are not the same as the letters themselves with the exception of the four epsilon.—if contrary to nature a horse have a calf. For on the same principle the son of a king is to be called a king. omicron. just as any one of us would not recognize the same drugs under different disguises of colour and smell. Agis (leader) and Polemarchus (chief in war) and Eupolemus (good warrior). SOCRATES: Very good. gives no offence. HERMOGENES: What do you mean? SOCRATES: A very simple matter. and he is not put out by the addition. SOCRATES: And may not the same be said of a king? a king will often be the son of a king. omega. they are the same. and there can be no mistake. makes no difference. although they are the same. And the same may be said of trees and other things. which is tau. and he may not recognize them. I agree. and in like manner the etymologist is not put out by the addition or transposition or subtraction of a letter or two. tau.' Again. nor do I call any inhuman birth a man. then I should not call that a foal but a calf. or indeed by the change of all the letters. there are several names for a general. the good son or the noble son of a good or noble sire. But you had better watch me and see that I do not play tricks with you. HERMOGENES: I believe you are right. but only a natural birth. Yet the syllables may be disguised until they appear different to the ignorant person. is like the parent. and there are many others which might be cited. Take. upsilon. the names of the rest.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  of extraordinary births. are made up of other letters which we add to them. Would you not say so? HERMOGENES: Yes. And how little in common with the letters of their names has Archepolis (ruler of the city)—and yet the meaning is the same. ought to be assigned to those who follow in the course of nature? 123    . as Iatrocles (famous healer) and Acesimbrotus (curer of mortals). in the regular course of nature. and similarly the offspring of every kind.

SOCRATES: Yes. in his eagerness to win Hippodamia by all means for his bride. 124    .—or in other words. Socrates. Every one would agree that the name of Tantalus is rightly given and in accordance with nature. Agamemnon (admirable for remaining) is one who is patient and persevering in the accomplishment of his resolves.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: Yes. or perhaps some poet who meant to express the brutality and fierceness and mountain wildness of his hero's nature. or as atrestos the fearless. I also think that Atreus is rightly called. SOCRATES: And his father's name is also according to nature. there is Orestes (the man of the mountains) who appears to be rightly called. as the name implies. but to the etymologist there is no difficulty in seeing the meaning. SOCRATES: Then the irreligious son of a religious father should be called irreligious? HERMOGENES: Certainly. he is rightly called Pelops who sees what is near only (o ta pelas oron). SOCRATES: Again. for. if the traditions about him are true. or as ateros the destructive one. SOCRATES: And what of those who follow out of the course of nature. according to the tradition. he ought to bear the name not of his father. and by his virtue crowns them. he saw only what was at hand and immediate. pelas (near). when a good and religious man has an irreligious son. HERMOGENES: Certainly. and are prodigies? for example. HERMOGENES: Clearly. SOCRATES: He should not be called Theophilus (beloved of God) or Mnesitheus (mindful of God). he had no forethought or foresight of all the evil which the murder of Myrtilus would entail upon his whole race in remote ages. his should have an opposite meaning. HERMOGENES: That is very likely. Hermogenes. or any of these names: if names are correctly given. whether chance gave the name. and his continuance at Troy with all the vast army is a proof of that admirable endurance in him which is signified by the name Agamemnon. the name is perfectly correct in every point of view. for his murder of Chrysippus and his exceeding cruelty to Thyestes are damaging and destructive to his reputation— the name is a little altered and disguised so as not to be intelligible to every one. for whether you think of him as ateires the stubborn. so also is his nature. HERMOGENES: How so? SOCRATES: Because. for as his name. but of the class to which he belongs. HERMOGENES: Quite true. Socrates. And I think that Pelops is also named appropriately. just as in the case which was before supposed of a horse foaling a calf.

and the name Uranus is therefore correct. for some call him Zena. which. if you are so disposed. For there is none who is more the author of life to us and to all. or they are the expression of a wish like Eutychides (the son of good fortune). than the lord and king of all. they may have no business. and others who use the other half call him Dia. by some accident of tradition. The name of Zeus. which has come to me all in an instant. who is his alleged father. as we were saying. and I believe that I caught the inspiration from the great Euthyphro of the Prospaltian deme. not in the sense of a youth. Hermogenes. if we can only find some priest or sophist who is skilled in purifications of this sort. but have a natural fitness? The names of heroes and of men in general are apt to be deceptive because they are often called after ancestors with whose names. HERMOGENES: You seem to me. meaning the God through whom all creatures always have life (di on zen aei pasi tois zosin uparchei). HERMOGENES: With all my heart. SOCRATES: Then let us proceed. and make a purgation of him. and where would you have us begin. and we might rather expect Zeus to be the child of a mighty intellect. we will conjure him away. as philosophers tell us. which is divided into two parts. is the way to have a pure mind. and to be uttering oracles. for this is the meaning of his father's name: Kronos quasi Koros (Choreo. although divided. and the business of a name. You might imagine that some person who wanted to call him Talantatos (the most weighted down by misfortune). because really like a sentence. although hard to be understood. But I think that we had better leave these. was begotten of Uranus. apo tou chorein). for am very curious to hear the rest of the enquiry about names. but to-morrow. it has actually been transmuted. who gave me a long lecture which commenced at dawn: he talked and I listened. Socrates. is to express the nature. to sweep). as we are informed by tradition. and use the one half. now that we have got a sort of outline of the enquiry? Are there any names which witness of themselves that they are not given arbitrarily. has also an excellent meaning. which are one name. and others. came the utter ruin of his country. I would have gone on and tried more conclusions of the same sort on the remoter ancestors of the Gods. Which is the fact. and to-day I shall let his superhuman power work and finish the investigation of names— that will be the way. and into this form. He.—then I might have seen whether this wisdom. at first sight. Wherefore we are right in calling him Zena and Dia. disguised the name by altering it into Tantalus. If I could remember the genealogy of Hesiod. or Theophilus (the beloved of God). and 125    . will or will not hold good to the end. as we were saying. the pure and garnished mind (sc.—there ought to have been more care taken about them when they were named. for there will be more chance of finding correctness in the names of immutable essences. and his wisdom and enchanting ravishment has not only filled my ears but taken possession of my soul. rightly so called (apo tou oran ta ano) from looking upwards. to be quite like a prophet newly inspired. SOCRATES: Yes.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: And what are the traditions? SOCRATES: Many terrible misfortunes are said to have happened to him in his life—last of all. I know not whence. in calling him son of Cronos (who is a proverb for stupidity). There is an irreverence. and after his death he had the stone suspended (talanteia) over his head in the world below—all this agrees wonderfully well with his name. or Sosias (the Saviour). the two together signify the nature of the God. but signifying to chatharon chai acheraton tou nou.

Socrates. SOCRATES: What shall follow the Gods? HERMOGENES: Must not demons and heroes and men come next? SOCRATES: Demons! And what do you consider to be the meaning of this word? Tell me if my view is right. because he further says that we are the iron race. SOCRATES: You know how Hesiod uses the word? HERMOGENES: I do not. HERMOGENES: I think so. guardians of mortal men. they proceeded to apply the same name to them all.) HERMOGENES: What is the inference? SOCRATES: What is the inference! Why. Works and Days. and heaven. I suppose that he means by the golden men. I do. stars. Theontas). SOCRATES: My notion would be something of this sort:—I suspect that the sun. SOCRATES: Ought we not to begin with the consideration of the Gods. HERMOGENES: Let me hear. and show that they are rightly named Gods? HERMOGENES: Yes. averters of ills. were the only Gods known to the aboriginal Hellenes. that will be well. Do you think that likely? HERMOGENES: I think it very likely indeed. SOCRATES: Do you not remember that he speaks of a golden race of men who came first? HERMOGENES: Yes. SOCRATES: He says of them— 'But now that fate has closed over this race They are holy demons upon the earth. which are still the Gods of many barbarians. Seeing that they were always moving and running. from their running nature they were called Gods or runners (Theous.' (Hesiod. not men literally made of gold. earth. and I am convinced of this. 126    . but good and noble. and when men became acquainted with the other Gods. Beneficent. moon.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  perhaps there may have been some more than human power at work occasionally in giving them names.

because they were daemones (knowing or wise). SOCRATES: That is to say. Now he and other poets say truly. that every wise man who happens to be a good man is more than human (daimonion) both in life and death. as I was saying. SOCRATES: And do you not suppose that good men of our own day would by him be said to be of golden race? HERMOGENES: Very likely. in the old writing eros with an epsilon.) SOCRATES: I think that there is no difficulty in explaining. the noble breed of heroes are a tribe of sophists and rhetors. and in our older Attic dialect the word itself occurs. you trust to the inspiration of Euthyphro. and signifies that they were born of love. And I say too. HERMOGENES: What do you mean? SOCRATES: Do you not know that the heroes are demigods? HERMOGENES: What then? SOCRATES: All of them sprang either from the love of a God for a mortal woman. and is rightly called a demon. from whom the heroes sprang: either this is the meaning. But can you tell me why men are called anthropoi?—that is more difficult. 127    . I cannot. and able to put the question (erotan). and I would not try even if I could. for eirein is equivalent to legein. and you will see better that the name heros is only a slight alteration of Eros. All this is easy enough. for the name is not much altered. HERMOGENES: No. And therefore. SOCRATES: And are not the good wise? HERMOGENES: Yes.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: That is true. or. then they must have been skilful as rhetoricians and dialecticians. HERMOGENES: Of course. in the Attic dialect the heroes turn out to be rhetoricians and questioners. which is a name given to him signifying wisdom. if not this. or of a mortal man for a Goddess. SOCRATES: And therefore I have the most entire conviction that he called them demons. that when a good man dies he has honour and a mighty portion among the dead. they are wise. HERMOGENES: Then I rather think that I am of one mind with you. because I think that you are the more likely to succeed. and becomes a demon. think of the word in the old Attic. but what is the meaning of the word 'hero'? (Eros with an eta.

if I am not careful. before to-morrow's dawn I shall be wiser than I ought to be. and this. or look up at what they see. meaning anathron a opopen. and when this reviving power fails then the body perishes and dies. I fancy that I can discover something which will be more acceptable to the disciples of Euthyphro. and hence he alone of all animals is rightly anthropos. HERMOGENES: I will take that which appears to me to follow next in order. and give names as we please and change the accents. which is the alpha. if I am not mistaken. SOCRATES: The name anthropos. letters are sometimes inserted in words instead of being omitted. the word Dii Philos. in order to convert this from a sentence into a noun. and is now a noun. But please stay a moment. appears to be a case just of this sort. HERMOGENES: May I ask you to examine another word about which I am curious? SOCRATES: Certainly. SOCRATES: If I am to say what occurs to me at the moment. and then of the word soma (body)? HERMOGENES: Yes. What do you say to another? HERMOGENES: Let me hear. and first. and. which was once a sentence.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Your faith is not vain. remember that we often put in and pull out letters in words. and the acute takes the place of the grave. or consider. HERMOGENES: That is true. attend to me. Take. has been omitted. for I am afraid that they will scorn this explanation. on the other hand. I should imagine that those who first used the name psuche meant to express that the soul when in the body is the source of life. we omit one of the iotas and sound the middle syllable grave instead of acute. HERMOGENES: Let us endeavour to analyze them like the previous words. but that man not only sees (opope) but considers and looks up at that which he sees. they called psyche. for example. and gives the power of breath and revival (anapsuchon). HERMOGENES: What do you mean? SOCRATES: I mean to say that the word 'man' implies that other animals never examine. Now. You know the distinction of soul and body? SOCRATES: Of course. SOCRATES: You want me first of all to examine the natural fitness of the word psuche (soul). for one letter. as. and the acute on the last syllable has been changed to a grave. for at this very moment a new and ingenious thought strikes me. 128    .

according to this view. and this derivation is. HERMOGENES: Certainly.—in this there can be small blame. until the penalty is paid. because we do not know of any other. that we will call them by any sort or kind of names or patronymics which they like. if you please. I think. And this is the best of all principles. are true. but we are enquiring about the meaning of men in giving them these names. we must acknowledge. Hermogenes. SOCRATES: Then you may well call that power phuseche which carries and holds nature (e phusin okei. and yet more variously if a little permutation is allowed. I do. SOCRATES: And do you not believe with Anaxagoras. is a very good custom. then. that we have said enough of this class of words. HERMOGENES: But what shall we say of the next word? SOCRATES: You mean soma (the body). and that the body is an enclosure or prison in which the soul is incarcerated. HERMOGENES: I think. because the soul gives indications to (semainei) the body. That also. HERMOGENES: Yes. sozetai). kept safe (soma. and one which I should much wish to observe. in the first place announce to them that we are not enquiring about them. whatever they may be. Let us. but I cannot help laughing. SOCRATES: Yes. But have we any more explanations of the names of the Gods. as the name soma implies. that mind or soul is the ordering and containing principle of all things? HERMOGENES: Yes. kai ekei). like that which you were giving of Zeus? I should like to know whether any similar principle of correctness is to be applied to them. we do not presume that we are able to do so. or again the index of the soul.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: What is that which holds and carries and gives life and motion to the entire nature of the body? What else but the soul? HERMOGENES: Just that. if I am to suppose that this was the true meaning of the name. and there is one excellent principle which. and this may be refined away into psuche. I think. and the next best is to say. and they were under the impression that the soul is suffering the punishment of sin. as men of sense. either of their natures or of the names which they give themselves. but we are sure that the names by which they call themselves. probably the Orphic poets were the inventors of the name. as in prayers. more scientific than the other. 129    . SOCRATES: It is so. SOCRATES: That may be variously interpreted.—that of the Gods we know nothing. For some say that the body is the grave (sema) of the soul which may be thought to be buried in our present life. Socrates. not even a letter of the word need be changed. indeed.

Those again who read osia seem to have inclined to the opinion of Heracleitus. with them the pushing principle (othoun) is the cause and ruling power of all things. is rational enough. For in ancient times we too seem to have said esia for ousia. and is therefore rightly called osia. Next in order after Hestia we ought to consider Rhea and Cronos. which is all that we who know nothing can affirm. and had a good deal to say. Enough of this. SOCRATES: Shall we begin. rather ridiculous. he compares them to the stream of a river. For example. SOCRATES: What may we suppose him to have meant who gave the name Hestia? HERMOGENES: That is another and certainly a most difficult question. and by others again osia. if you analyze them. Socrates. that will be very proper. HERMOGENES: How do you mean? SOCRATES: Heracleitus is supposed to say that all things are in motion and nothing at rest. I have discovered a hive of wisdom. HERMOGENES: Of what nature? SOCRATES: Well. SOCRATES: My dear Hermogenes. that you are quite right. they were philosophers. But I dare say that I am talking great nonsense. Even in foreign names. Now that the essence of things should be called estia. a meaning is still discernible. according to custom? HERMOGENES: Yes. which was natural enough if they meant that estia was the essence of things. HERMOGENES: Why. that which we term ousia is by some called esia. and this you may note to have been the idea of those who appointed that sacrifices should be first offered to estia. and says that you cannot go into the same water twice. Socrates? SOCRATES: My good friend. And there is reason in the Athenians calling that estia which participates in ousia. then. which is akin to the first of these (esia = estia). that all things flow and nothing stands. although the name of Cronos has been already discussed. and of which Homer also spoke.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: I think. 130    . HERMOGENES: How plausible? SOCRATES: I fancy to myself Heracleitus repeating wise traditions of antiquity as old as the days of Cronos and Rhea. and yet plausible. with Hestia. the first imposers of names must surely have been considerable persons. HERMOGENES: Well. and what of them? SOCRATES: They are the men to whom I should attribute the imposition of names. and I would like to do as you say.

And perhaps also he being the shaker of the earth. agreed pretty much in the doctrine of Heracleitus? Is the giving of the names of streams to both of them purely accidental? Compare the line in which Homer. the epsilon was probably inserted as an ornament. HERMOGENES: I think that there is something in what you say. tells of 'Ocean. HERMOGENES: By all means. Socrates. not so. HERMOGENES: The idea is ingenious. Socrates. that 'The fair river of Ocean was the first to marry. perhaps.' And again. meaning that the God knew many things (Polla eidos). and therefore he called the ruler of this element Poseidon. and his name means the giver of wealth. the origin of Gods. but the name may have been originally written with a double lamda and not with a sigma. being only the name of a spring. SOCRATES: Then let us next take his two brothers. which comes out of the earth beneath. has been named from shaking (seiein). whether the latter is called by that or by his other name. But what comes next?—of Zeus we have spoken. then.). SOCRATES: Poseidon is Posidesmos. SOCRATES: Well. Hesiod also. SOCRATES: To be sure. SOCRATES: Well. Pluto gives wealth (Ploutos).The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: That is true. the original inventor of the name had been stopped by the watery element in his walks. ethoumenon) may be likened to a spring. HERMOGENES: Yes. that is almost self-explained. HERMOGENES: And what is the true derivation? 131    . the chain of the feet. Orpheus says. Yet. and mother Tethys (Il. and then pi and delta have been added. and. People in general appear to imagine that the term Hades is connected with the invisible (aeides) and so they are led by their fears to call the God Pluto instead. and he espoused his sister Tethys. for that which is strained and filtered (diattomenon. how can we avoid inferring that he who gave the names of Cronos and Rhea to the ancestors of the Gods. and the name Tethys is made up of these two words. who was his mother's daughter. but I do not understand the meaning of the name Tethys. Poseidon and Pluto. and all in the direction of Heracleitus.' You see that this is a remarkable coincidence. and not allowed to go on.—the line is not found in the extant works of Hesiod. a little disguised. as I believe.

SOCRATES: And if by the greatest of chains. SOCRATES: And is any desire stronger than the thought that you will be made better by associating with another? HERMOGENES: Certainly not. then by some desire. and the great benefactor of the inhabitants of the other world. Now there is a great deal of philosophy and reflection in that. And. such as the fear of always being with him after death. not even father Cronos himself would suffice to keep them with him in his own far-famed chains. as I imagine. but while they are flustered and maddened by the body. wherefore he is called Pluto (or the rich). and of the soul denuded of the body going to him (compare Rep.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: In spite of the mistakes which are made about the power of this deity. my belief is that all is quite consistent. have been laid under his spells. and even to us who are upon earth he sends from below exceeding blessings. Such a charm.). SOCRATES: And is not that the reason. like all the rest of the world. Socrates. how is that? SOCRATES: I will tell you my own opinion. HERMOGENES: Why. SOCRATES: And therefore by the greatest desire. Hermogenes. and the foolish fears which people have of him. but first. and not by necessity? HERMOGENES: That is clear. is the God able to infuse into his words. SOCRATES: And do you not think that many a one would escape from Hades. who has been to him. is willing to come back to us? Even the Sirens. SOCRATES: And there are many desires? HERMOGENES: Yes. according to this view. I should like to ask you which chain does any animal feel to be the stronger? and which confines him more to the same spot. Note also. For he has much more than he wants down there. 132    . he is the perfect and accomplished Sophist. why no one. is stronger far. that he will have nothing to do with men while they are in the body. as I should certainly infer. and that the office and name of the God really correspond. for in their liberated state he can bind them with the desire of virtue.—desire or necessity? HERMOGENES: Desire. if he did not bind those who depart to him by the strongest of chains? HERMOGENES: Assuredly they would. if the chain is to be the greatest? HERMOGENES: Yes. but only when the soul is liberated from the desires and evils of the body.

the purgations and purifications which doctors and diviners use. But they go changing the name into Phersephone. which is to make a man pure both in body and soul. and Athene. SOCRATES: And is not Apollo the purifier. Have you remarked this fact? HERMOGENES: To be sure I have. and Ares. have all one and the same object. consorts with her. and archery. as I was saying. Apollo. and Here. as beseems the God of Harmony. and what you say is true. and may be only a disguise of the air (aer). HERMOGENES: How so? SOCRATES: I will endeavour to explain. as well as their washings and lustral sprinklings. herein showing her wisdom. and their fumigations with drugs magical or medicinal. is generally supposed to have some terrible signification. and they are terrified at this. if I am not mistaken. There is the other name. not from the unseen (aeides)— far otherwise. and the washer. SOCRATES: Yes. And therefore the Goddess may be truly called Pherepaphe (Pherepapha). according to tradition. SOCRATES: But the name. and what do we say of Demeter. HERMOGENES: Very good. and prophecy.—and with as little reason. HERMOGENES: That must be a strange name. for I do not believe that any single name could have been better adapted to express the attributes of the God. Here is the lovely one (erate)—for Zeus. because the present generation care for euphony more than truth. And Hades. and medicine. HERMOGENES: Very true. People dread the name of Pherephatta as they dread the name of Apollo. and I should like to hear the explanation.—music. whereas the new name means only that the Goddess is wise (sophe). because she touches that which is in motion (tou pheromenon ephaptomene). and the legislator called him Hades. and the other deities? SOCRATES: Demeter is e didousa meter. 133    . embracing and in a manner signifying all four of them. Hermogenes. In the first place. is wisdom. or some name like it. for seeing that all things in the world are in motion (pheromenon). in my opinion. but from his knowledge (eidenai) of all noble things. because she is wise. that principle which embraces and touches and is able to follow them. and Hephaestus. You will recognize the truth of this if you repeat the letters of Here several times over. possibly also the name may have been given when the legislator was thinking of the heavens. who is wise. loved and married her. the fear. putting the end in the place of the beginning. They alter her name into Pherephatta now-a-days. SOCRATES: Say rather an harmonious name. is really most expressive of the power of the God. who gives food like a mother. only arises from their ignorance of the nature of names.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: There is a deal of truth in what you say. and Apollo. and the absolver from all impurities? HERMOGENES: Very true. which.

as I was saying just now. as he might be called in fun.' whether in the poles of heaven as they are called. and Leto is called by this name. so the name Apollon is equivalent to omopolon. or in respect of his powers of divination. only the second lambda is added in order to avoid the ill-omened sound of destruction (apolon). from aplous (sincere). as an Athenian. the mover together (aplous. And as in the words akolouthos and akoitis the alpha is substituted for an omicron. He who gave the Goddess her name may have had any or all of these reasons. And he is the God who presides over harmony. but there is no objection to your hearing the facetious one. as being the physician who orders them. as astronomers and musicians ingeniously declare. he may be rightly called Apolouon (purifier). or again. think (oiesthai) that they have a mind (noun) when they have none. which is termed concord. 134    . which. the name may refer to his musical attributes. The name of the Muses and of music would seem to be derived from their making philosophical enquiries (mosthai). for the Gods too love a joke. the purifier. The derivation of Aphrodite. because he is a master archer who never misses.—and oinos is properly oionous. and so willing (ethelemon) to grant our requests.' so the meaning of the name Apollo will be 'moving together. Socrates. and perhaps also as hating intercourse of the sexes (ton aroton misesasa). aei Ballon. omopolon). Dionusos is simply didous oinon (giver of wine). because wine makes those who drink. the everdarting. HERMOGENES: What is the meaning of Dionysus and Aphrodite? SOCRATES: Son of Hipponicus. and makes all things move together. SOCRATES: There is no difficulty in explaining the other appellation of Athene. Artemis is named from her healthy (artemes). Didoinusos. HERMOGENES: Still there remains Athene. HERMOGENES: What other appellation? SOCRATES: We call her Pallas. will surely not forget. and her smooth and easy-going way of behaving. or her name may be Letho. and akoitis. both among Gods and among men. because she is such a gentle Goddess. and then.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Then in reference to his ablutions and absolutions. and his truth and sincerity. Now the suspicion of this destructive power still haunts the minds of some who do not consider the true value of the name. whom you. has reference to all the powers of the God. HERMOGENES: No. which is the same as truth. you ask a solemn question. there are also Hephaestus and Ares. perhaps because she is a proficient in virtue (arete). well-ordered nature. who is the single one. there is a serious and also a facetious explanation of both these names. and in many other words the alpha is supposed to mean 'together. because he moves all together by an harmonious power. the serious explanation is not to be had from me. as she is often called by strangers—they seem to imply by it her amiability. also he is aei Ballon (always shooting). for all the Thessalians call him Aplos. apolouon. indeed. born of the foam (aphros). SOCRATES: I am not likely to forget them. and because of her love of virginity. as in the Thessalian dialect. may be fairly accepted on the authority of Hesiod. as in akolouthos. he may be most fitly called Aplos. or in the harmony of song.

that is obvious to anybody. and taking away iota and sigma (There seems to be some error in the MSS. but what do you say of the other name? SOCRATES: Athene? HERMOGENES: Yes. the modern interpreters of Homer may. or by the use of the hands. For most of these in their explanations of the poet. as though he would say: This is she who has the mind of God (Theonoa). and there. and indeed calls her by a still higher title. and called her Athene. I think. HERMOGENES: But what do you say of Hephaestus? SOCRATES: Speak you of the princely lord of light (Phaeos istora)? HERMOGENES: Surely. the name Theonoe may mean 'she who knows divine things' (Theia noousa) better than others. SOCRATES: And we cannot be wrong in supposing that this is derived from armed dances. Nor shall we be far wrong in supposing that the author of it wished to identify this Goddess with moral intelligence (en ethei noesin). however. and therefore gave her the name ethonoe. SOCRATES: To prevent that. SOCRATES: That is a graver matter. SOCRATES: Then that is the explanation of the name Pallas? HERMOGENES: Yes. SOCRATES: Ephaistos is Phaistos.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: To be sure. The meaning is that the word theonoa = theounoa is a curtailed form of theou noesis. and the maker of names appears to have had a singular notion about her.—using alpha as a dialectical variety for eta. or dancing. 135    . HERMOGENES: What is Ares? SOCRATES: Ares may be called. which. HERMOGENES: That is quite true. For the elevation of oneself or anything else above the earth. but the omitted letters do not agree. we call shaking (pallein). assert that he meant by Athene 'mind' (nous) and 'intelligence' (dianoia). which is the meaning of arratos: the latter is a derivation in every way appropriate to the God of war. 'divine intelligence' (Thou noesis). my friend. you had better ask what is the derivation of Ares. if you will. either he or his successors have altered into what they thought a nicer form. HERMOGENES: That is very probable. until some more probable notion gets into your head. and has added the eta by attraction. from his manhood (arren) and manliness. however. assist in explaining the view of the ancients. Perhaps. or if you please.). from his hard and unchangeable nature.

he is speech or the brother of speech.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: Very true. eirein and mesasthai. HERMOGENES: Then I am very sure that Cratylus was quite right in saying that I was no true son of Hermes (Ermogenes). you may rightly call him Eirhemes. and the year? 136    . or liar. in Pan being the double-formed son of Hermes. or bargainer.' And this has been improved by us. air. stars. and thou shalt see how the steeds of Euthyphro can prance. all that sort of thing has a great deal to do with language. as I was saying. and rough and goatlike in his lower regions. for I am afraid of them. he being the two-formed son of Hermes. But. as I was telling you. my friend. and there is an often-recurring Homeric word emesato. moon. and then I shall know whether there is any meaning in what Cratylus says. and we may imagine him dictating to us the use of this name: 'O my friends. SOCRATES: And now. or thief. and has two forms. Socrates. for tales and falsehoods have generally to do with the tragic or goatish life. by the Gods. HERMOGENES: Only one more God! I should like to know about Hermes. Let us make him out. my dear Hermogenes. let us have no more of the Gods. smooth in his upper part. aether. the legislator formed the name of the God who invented language and speech. true and false? HERMOGENES: Certainly. fire. 'seeing that he is the contriver of tales or speeches. because she was a messenger. who is the declarer of all things (pan) and the perpetual mover (aei polon) of all things. and signifies that he is the interpreter (ermeneus). SOCRATES: Then surely Pan. of whom I am said not to be a true son. earth. and is always turning them round and round. SOCRATES: There is also reason. Iris also appears to have been called from the verb 'to tell' (eirein). let us get away from the Gods. But why should we not discuss another kind of Gods—the sun. for I am not a good hand at speeches. into Hermes. and is rough like the goat of tragedy. SOCRATES: Is not the truth that is in him the smooth or sacred form which dwells above among the Gods. SOCRATES: I should imagine that the name Hermes has to do with speech. and that brother should be like brother is no marvel. the word eirein is expressive of the use of speech. and tragedy is the place of them? HERMOGENES: Very true. water. And. by all means. HERMOGENES: How do you make that out? SOCRATES: You are aware that speech signifies all things (pan).' says he to us. HERMOGENES: From these sort of Gods. is rightly called aipolos (goat-herd). or messenger. as we think. whereas falsehood dwells among men below. the seasons. ask about anything but them. which means 'he contrived'—out of these two words. as the son of Hermes.

The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: You impose a great many tasks upon me. HERMOGENES: How so? SOCRATES: The word seems to forestall his recent discovery. if the disciples of Anaxagoras say truly. of which the meaning is the same as poikillein (to variegate). HERMOGENES: You will oblige me. SOCRATES: This light about the moon is always new (neon) and always old (enon). Socrates. and this when hammered into shape becomes selanaia. I will not refuse. and there is the old light of the previous month. and this name is given to him because when he rises he gathers (alizoi) men together or because he is always rolling in his course (aei eilein ion) about the earth. HERMOGENES: True. HERMOGENES: But what is selene (the moon)? SOCRATES: That name is rather unfortunate for Anaxagoras. that the moon receives her light from the sun. if you wish. or from aiolein. HERMOGENES: A real dithyrambic sort of name that. For the sun in his revolution always adds new light. HERMOGENES: Very true. SOCRATES: The origin of the sun will probably be clearer in the Doric form. But what do you say of the month and the stars? 137    . because he variegates the productions of the earth. SOCRATES: How would you have me begin? Shall I take first of all him whom you mentioned first— the sun? HERMOGENES: Very good. for the Dorians call him alios. SOCRATES: The moon is not unfrequently called selanaia. SOCRATES: And as she has a light which is always old and always new (enon neon aei) she may very properly have the name selaenoneoaeia. HERMOGENES: Why do you say so? SOCRATES: The two words selas (brightness) and phos (light) have much the same meaning? HERMOGENES: Yes. Still.

for the word is not easily brought into relation with the Hellenic tongue. Please. may be explained as the element which raises (airei) things from the earth. and the Phrygians may be observed to have the same word slightly changed. you know that any one who seeks to demonstrate the fitness of these names according to the Hellenic language.' (aetai). because this element is always running in a flux about the air (aei thei peri tou aera reon). genneteira). especially those who were under the dominion of the barbarians. Aer (air). for something to say about them may easily be found. just as they have udor (water) and kunes (dogs). however. because suffering diminution. which is an improvement on anastrope. often borrowed from them. as in the language of Homer (Od.) gegaasi means gegennesthai. for the earth may be truly called 'mother' (gaia. 138    . and many other words. and the poets call the winds 'air-blasts. the name of astra (stars) seems to be derived from astrape.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Meis (month) is called from meiousthai (to lessen). consider whether this pur is not foreign. or as ever flowing (aei rei). Hermogenes. in the sense of wind-flux (pneumatorroun). this may be correctly said. For the Hellenes. air-flux (aetorroun). HERMOGENES: Yes. and because this moving wind may be expressed by either term he employs the word air (aer = aetes rheo). either the muse of Euthyphro has deserted me. signifying the upsetting of the eyes (anastrephein opa). to note the contrivance which I adopt whenever I am in a difficulty of this sort. or there is some very great difficulty in the word. HERMOGENES: What is it? SOCRATES: I will tell you. certainly. HERMOGENES: What is the inference? SOCRATES: Why. And thus I get rid of pur and udor. The meaning of the word ge (earth) comes out better when in the form of gaia. SOCRATES: Any violent interpretations of the words should be avoided. is rather likely to be at fault. and not according to the language from which the words are derived. or because the flux of the air is wind. SOCRATES: Shall I tell you what I suspect to be the true explanation of this and several other words?—My belief is that they are of foreign origin. but I should like to know first whether you can tell me what is the meaning of the pur? HERMOGENES: Indeed I cannot. so to speak. SOCRATES: Well then. HERMOGENES: That is true. he who uses the term may mean. Aither (aether) I should interpret as aeitheer. HERMOGENES: What do you say of pur (fire) and udor (water)? SOCRATES: I am at a loss how to explain pur.

but only flux and motion. SOCRATES: I am run away with. and the rest of them? SOCRATES: That is a tremendous class of names which you are disinterring. and etos from etazei. as I have put on the lion's skin. and then they imagine that the world is going round and round and moving in all directions. I must not be faint of heart. they think that there is nothing stable or permanent. The words eniautos and etos appear to be the same. as you call them? HERMOGENES: Surely. but has two names. in the next place. SOCRATES: By the dog of Egypt I have a not bad notion which came into my head only this moment: I believe that the primeval givers of names were undoubtedly like too many of our modern philosophers. are always getting dizzy from constantly going round and round. just as the original name of Zeus was divided into Zena and Dia. they suppose to be a reality of nature. SOCRATES: What shall we take next? HERMOGENES: There are orai (the seasons). understanding. we must not leave off until we find out their meaning. and the whole proposition means that his power of reviewing from within is one. and judgment (gnome). What principle of correctness is there in those charming words—wisdom. HERMOGENES: Indeed. The consideration of the names which I mentioned has led me into making this reflection. and passes them in review within itself (en eauto exetazei)': this is broken up into two words.—'that which brings to light the plants and growths of the earth in their turn. and knowledge (episteme). Socrates? 139    . HERMOGENES: How is that. two words etos and eniautos being thus formed out of a single proposition. justice. and I suppose that I must consider the meaning of wisdom (phronesis) and understanding (sunesis). eniautos from en eauto. and that the world is always full of every sort of motion and change. HERMOGENES: I should like very much to know. SOCRATES: The orai should be spelt in the old Attic way. still. in their search after the nature of things. Socrates. and the two names of the year. you make surprising progress. HERMOGENES: Very true. which arises out of their own internal condition. and this appearance. if you desire to know the probable truth about them. and all those other charming words. how you would explain the virtues. they are rightly called the orai because they divide (orizousin) the summers and winters and winds and the fruits of the earth. who. eniautos and etos. SOCRATES: But am not yet at my utmost speed.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: Good.

it could not penetrate through the moving universe. and then they begin to disagree. I still want to know what is justice. Dikaiosune (justice) is clearly dikaiou sunesis (understanding of the just). and they try to satisfy 140    . if you would rather. again. for to ponder is the same as to consider. still there are degrees of motion. implies the progression of the soul in company with the nature of things. and there was a famous Lacedaemonian who was named Sous (Rush). You must remember that the poets. although all things move. but eta took the place of a double epsilon. for all things are supposed to be in motion. the very word just now mentioned. The word sophrosune is the salvation (soteria) of that wisdom (phronesis) which we were just now considering. and. the word neos implies that the world is always in process of creation. indeed. and I begin. Hermogenes. and have been already sufficiently answered. or. and am leaping over the barriers. Thus far. which superintends all things and pierces (diaion) all. the word is derived from sunienai (to go along with). but is at any rate connected with pheresthai (motion). the letter k is only added for the sake of euphony. for if it were not the subtlest. which is neou esis (the desire of the new). like epistasthai (to know). often use the word esuthe (he rushed).' say I. SOCRATES: Take the first of those which you mentioned. 'but if all this be true. and is the instrument of creation in all. certainly implies the ponderation or consideration (nomesis) of generation.' Thereupon they think that I ask tiresome questions. gnome (judgment). And this element. and not noesis. for. For those who suppose all things to be in motion conceive the greater part of nature to be a mere receptacle. clearly that is a name indicative of motion. HERMOGENES: What was the name? SOCRATES: Phronesis (wisdom). the meaning is. and the touching (epaphe) of motion is expressed by sophia. being an enthusiastic disciple. the motion or flux or generation of things is most surely indicated. for by this word the Lacedaemonians signify rapid motion. is rightly called dikaion. for the original name was neoesis. and appears not to be of native growth. The giver of the name wanted to express this longing of the soul. some are swifter. Sophia (wisdom) is very dark.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Perhaps you did not observe that in the names which have been just cited. Good (agathon) is the name which is given to the admirable (agasto) in nature. to interrogate him gently: 'Well. and this admirable part of nature is called agathon. passing by other things as if they were standing still. and is the subtlest and swiftest element. after hearing what he has said. inserting epsilon nu. HERMOGENES: No. and they say that there is a penetrating power which passes through all this. which may signify phoras kai rhou noesis (perception of motion and flux). I never thought of it. Epioteme (knowledge) is akin to this. and also the swiftest. Sunesis (understanding) may be regarded in like manner as a kind of conclusion. and some one comes and whispers in my ear that justice is rightly so called because partaking of the nature of the cause. but the actual word dikaion is more difficult: men are only agreed to a certain extent about justice. and indicates that the soul which is good for anything follows (epetai) the motion of things. wherefore the word should rather be read as epistemene. or perhaps phoras onesis (the blessing of motion). touching the motion or stream of things. have been told in a mystery that the justice of which I am speaking is also the cause of the world: now a cause is that because of which anything is created. when they speak of the commencement of any rapid motion. and a power which none can keep out. but I. here is noesis. my excellent friend. but there are some things which are admirable for their swiftness. as I was saying. some slower. there is a general agreement about the nature of justice. neither anticipating them nor falling behind them.

HERMOGENES: I think. but only to that which is contrary to justice. then. and passes through all things. for otherwise courage would not have been praised. HERMOGENES: Very true. because the teat is like rain. for mind. and at length they quarrel.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  me with one derivation after another. that you are not improvising now. Well. HERMOGENES: True. as they say. And this is expressed by the legislator in the name. 141    . At last. which is obviously nothing more than a hindrance to the penetrating principle (diaiontos). Pray observe how I gallop away when I get on smooth ground. SOCRATES: And not the rest? HERMOGENES: Hardly. And when I joyfully repeat this beautiful notion. For one of them says that justice is the sun. has absolute power. Gune (woman) I suspect to be the same word as goun (birth): thelu (female) appears to be partly derived from thele (the teat). but the abstraction of heat in the fire. not fire in the abstract. the name of andreia seems to imply a battle. but this is not very intelligible. 'What. which is swift and sudden ever. and that he only is the piercing (diaionta) and burning (kaonta) element which is the guardian of nature. Another says. is there no justice in the world when the sun is down?' And when I earnestly beg my questioner to tell me his own honest opinion. HERMOGENES: That is surely probable. which have still to be explained.—injustice (adikia). and allesthai (leaping). The words arren (male) and aner (man) also contain a similar allusion to the same principle of the upward flux (te ano rhon). and says. SOCRATES: There is the meaning of the word techne (art). SOCRATES: Yes. which has led me into this digression. as Anaxagoras says. which is a compound of thein (running).—this battle is in the world of existence. 'Fire in the abstract'. he says. and you may clearly understand that andreia is not the stream opposed to every stream. What remains after justice? I do not think that we have as yet discussed courage (andreia). that justice is mind. the name at once signifies the thing. need not be considered. and according to the doctrine of flux is only the counterflux (enantia rhon): if you extract the delta from andreia. let me go on in the hope of making you believe in the originality of the rest. SOCRATES: Well. and makes things flourish (tethelenai). was given to justice for the reasons which I have mentioned. Socrates. But still I am of opinion that the name. 'No. and the very word thallein (to flourish) seems to figure the growth of youth. and mixes with nothing. There are a good many names generally thought to be of importance. for example. I find myself in far greater perplexity about the nature of justice than I was before I began to learn. then. my friend.' Another man professes to laugh at all this. and orders all things. you must have heard this from some one else. I am answered by the satirical remark.

and is therefore called arete. and twisting and bedizening them in all sorts of ways: and time too may have had a share in the change. of which the consequence is. HERMOGENES: True. more correctly. sphiggos. but then you know that the original names have been long ago buried and disguised by people sticking on and stripping off letters for the sake of euphony. and these two. and expresses the possession of mind: you have only to take away the tau and insert two omichrons. and agrees with the principles which preceded. that is true. names will be too easily made. HERMOGENES: That is a very shabby etymology. or. But do not be too much of a precisian. but kakia is transparent. I should like to consider the meaning of the two words arete (virtue) and kakia (vice). Hermogenes. phiggos. or 'you will unnerve me of my strength (Iliad. like yourself. and poreuesthai to go). for lian means strength. aeireite (ever-flowing). and. SOCRATES: And yet. for mekos has the meaning of greatness. and may perhaps have had 142    . But. or limping and halting. should observe the laws of moderation and probability. which ought properly to be phigx. for I conceive mechane to be a sign of great accomplishment—anein. for all things being in a flux (ionton). Another example is the word sphigx. like anything else which is an impediment to motion and movement. for example. and this evil motion when existing in the soul has the general name of kakia. but thinks only of putting the mouth into shape.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: That may be identified with echonoe. and has therefore the attribute of ever flowing without let or hindrance. and another between the nu and eta. SOCRATES: Yes. signifying in the first place ease of motion. and any name may be adapted to any object. SOCRATES: And mine. as I fear. Take.). kakia is kakos ion (going badly). Then the word kakia appears to mean kakos ienai. being now at the top of my bent. and there are other examples. as I was saying. And therefore a wise dictator. too. or vice. arete I do not as yet understand. why is the letter rho inserted? This must surely be the addition of some one who cares nothing about the truth. or going badly. HERMOGENES: Such is my desire. and therefore deilia expresses the greatest and strongest bond of the soul. The meaning of kakos ienai may be further illustrated by the use of deilia (cowardice). specially appropriated to it. is not the only word which has been passed over. mekos and anein. And if kakia is the name of this sort of thing. but was forgotten. my dear friend. then that the stream of the good soul is unimpeded. the word katoptron. which ought to have come after andreia. HERMOGENES: That is quite true. that the soul becomes filled with vice. and aporia (difficulty) is an evil of the same nature (from a (alpha) not. SOCRATES: Yes. if you are permitted to put in and pull out any letters which you please.' When you have allowed me to add mechane (contrivance) to techne (art) I shall be at the top of my bent. arete will be the opposite of it. Socrates. Deilia signifies that the soul is bound with a strong chain (desmos). make up the word mechane. one between the chi and nu. And the additions are often such that at last no human being can possibly make out the original meaning of the word.

but suppose that we leave these words and endeavour to see the rationale of kalon and aischron. I daresay that you will deem this to be another invention of mine. and has been changed by altering omicron upsilon into omicron. then arete is also right. or of both? HERMOGENES: Yes. HERMOGENES: What do you mean? SOCRATES: This name appears to denote mind. indicating that nothing is more eligible than virtue. and therefore I must have recourse to my ingenious device.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  another form. and is not mind the beautiful (kalon)? HERMOGENES: That is evident. yet the form is only due to the quantity. SOCRATES: The meaning of aischron is evident. airete (eligible). HERMOGENES: But what do you say of kalon? SOCRATES: That is more obscure. HERMOGENES: What device? SOCRATES: The device of a foreign origin. SOCRATES: And must not this be the mind of Gods. which I shall give to this word also. 143    . HERMOGENES: How so? SOCRATES: Let me ask you what is the cause why anything has a name. For the name-giver was a great enemy to stagnation of all sorts. HERMOGENES: But what is the meaning of kakon. and this has been hammered into arete. SOCRATES: Is not mind that which called (kalesan) things by their names. is not the principle which imposes the name the cause? HERMOGENES: Certainly. but I think that if the previous word kakia was right. which has played so great a part in your previous discourse? SOCRATES: That is a very singular word about which I can hardly form an opinion. and this is in accordance with our former derivations. being only aei ischon roes (always preventing from flowing). HERMOGENES: Very likely you are right. or of men. and that is now beaten together into aischron. and hence he gave the name aeischoroun to that which hindered the flux (aei ischon roun).

but in another way. and things which are done upon this principle are called sumphora or sumpheronta. that people do not mean by the profitable the gainful or that which pays (luei) the retailer. because they are carried round with the world. SOCRATES: Again. SOCRATES: And that principle we affirm to be mind? HERMOGENES: Very true. SOCRATES: The meaning of sumpheron (expedient) I think that you may discover for yourself by the light of the previous examples. but what is lusiteloun (profitable)? SOCRATES: I suppose. You regard the profitable (lusiteloun). but always. but you must alter the delta into nu if you want to get at the meaning. such as sumpheron and lusiteloun. ophelimon.—for it is a sister word to episteme.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: And are not the works of intelligence and mind worthy of praise. but they use the word in the sense of swift. cherdaleon (gainful) is called from cherdos (gain). he who gave the name intended to express the power of admixture (kerannumenon) and universal penetration in the good. SOCRATES: Physic does the work of a physician. HERMOGENES: That is probable. he inserted a delta instead of a nu. and carpentering does the works of a carpenter? HERMOGENES: Exactly. for this word also signifies good. allows of no stay in things and no pause or end of motion. SOCRATES: Then mind is rightly called beauty because she does the works which we recognize and speak of as the beautiful? HERMOGENES: That is evident. meaning just the motion (pora) of the soul accompanying the world. and 144    . and are not other works worthy of blame? HERMOGENES: Certainly. SOCRATES: And the principle of beauty does the works of beauty? HERMOGENES: Of course. and their opposites. Hermogenes. kerdaleon. HERMOGENES: Well. SOCRATES: What more names remain to us? HERMOGENES: There are the words which are connected with agathon and kalon. however. in forming the word. lets things go again (luei). and so made kerdos. if there begins to be any end. as that which being the swiftest thing in existence.

but now they change iota into eta or epsilon. as I imagine. especially the women. blapton is boulomenon aptein (seeking to hold or bind). is improved into blaberon.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  makes motion immortal and unceasing: and in this point of view. HERMOGENES: Good. HERMOGENES: What do you mean? SOCRATES: I will try to explain. You are aware that our forefathers loved the sounds iota and delta. and when I hear the word boulapteroun I cannot help imagining that you are making your mouth into a flute. even a very slight permutation will sometimes give an entirely opposite sense. boulomenon aptein roun (wanting to bind the stream) would properly be boulapteroun. how right I was in saying that great changes are made in the meaning of words by putting in and pulling out letters. SOCRATES: That is the fault of the makers of the name. HERMOGENES: And what do you say of their opposites? SOCRATES: Of such as are mere negatives I hardly think that I need speak. not mine. but what is the derivation of zemiodes? SOCRATES: What is the meaning of zemiodes?—let me remark. for aptein is the same as dein. 145    . alusiteles (unadvantageous). and delta into zeta. in the use of names. which occurs to me at the moment. and has a foreign character. HERMOGENES: Which are they? SOCRATES: The words axumphoron (inexpedient). which in the old language is clearly indicated. and this. akerdes (ungainful). and puffing away at some prelude to Athene. Ophelimon (the advantageous) is derived from ophellein. this latter is a common Homeric word. I may instance the word deon. and reminds me of what I was going to say to you. HERMOGENES: Very true. anopheles (unprofitable). Hermogenes. as appears to me. SOCRATES: The word blaberon is that which is said to hinder or harm (blaptein) the stream (roun). Hermogenes. zemiodes (hurtful). and also of zemiodes. who are most conservative of the ancient language. and dein is always a term of censure. meaning that which creates and increases. HERMOGENES: True. that the fine fashionable language of modern times has twisted and disguised and entirely altered the original meaning both of deon. HERMOGENES: You bring out curious results. this is supposed to increase the grandeur of the sound. the good is happily denominated lusiteloun—being that which looses (luon) the end (telos) of motion. Socrates. SOCRATES: I would rather take the words blaberon (harmful).

and read dion instead of deon. the chain (desmos) or hinderer of motion.—this has been changed into zugon. in very ancient times they called the day either imera or emera (short e). SOCRATES: Not if you restore the ancient form. SOCRATES: Proceeding in the same train of thought I may remark that the word deon (obligation) has a meaning which is the opposite of all the other appellations of good. kerdaleon (gainful). is given to that which binds motion (dounti ion). and is. and is a term of praise. which if the zeta is only changed into delta as in the ancient language. And this is further illustrated by the word zemiodes (hurtful). lusiteloun (profitable). HERMOGENES: Yes. HERMOGENES: There are. HERMOGENES: Such is my view. and there are many other examples of similar changes. that men long for (imeirousi) and love the light which comes after the darkness. SOCRATES: Do you observe that only the ancient form shows the intention of the giver of the name? of which the reason is. deon (obligatory).The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: How do you mean? SOCRATES: For example. this word will then agree with other words meaning good. as you will perceive. that is quite plain. SOCRATES: And zugon (yoke) has no meaning. and this name. and therefore own brother of blaberon. agathon (good). nevertheless.—it ought to be duogon. sumpheron (expedient). and the author of names has not contradicted himself. ophelimon (advantageous). and the restraining and binding principle which is censured. for deon is here a species of good. from imeros. signifies the good. although there are some who imagine the day to be called emera because it makes things gentle (emera different accents). Socrates. SOCRATES: And do you know that the ancients said duogon and not zugon? HERMOGENES: They did so. which is called by us emera (long e). HERMOGENES: That is true. but in all these various appellations. for dion. desire. not deon. becomes demiodes. the same conception is implied of the ordering or allpervading principle which is praised. HERMOGENES: Clearly. euporon (plenteous). which word expresses the binding of two together (duein agoge) for the purpose of drawing. 146    . and is therefore called imera. if you convert the epsilon into an iota after the old fashion. which is more likely to be the correct one. SOCRATES: But now the name is so travestied that you cannot tell the meaning.

algedon (distress). but has been altered by time into terpnon. the end I now dedicate to God. 147    . and implies the movement of the soul to the essential nature of each thing—just as boule (counsel) has to do with shooting (bole). in achthedon (vexation) 'the word too labours. Hermogenes. or mistaking of the mark. not. is a foreign word. eupherosune (cheerfulness) and epithumia explain themselves. Socrates.' as any one may see. the action which tends to advantage. or missing. imeros (desire) denotes the stream (rous) which most draws the soul dia ten esin tes roes—because flowing with desire (iemenos). which ought to be eupherosune and has been changed euphrosune. which is only oisis (moving). absence of counsel. odune (grief) is called from the putting on (endusis) sorrow. from the soul moving (pheresthai) in harmony with nature. or from the shooting of a bow (toxon). the power which enters into the soul. that there is any great difficulty about them—edone is e (eta) onesis. the latter is more likely. which may be likened to a breath (pnoe) and is properly erpnoun. and expresses a longing after things and violent attraction of the soul to them. on the other hand. however. the idea is taken from walking through a ravine which is impassable. or proposal. and the original form may be supposed to have been eone. as I was just now saying. this is the reason why the name pothos is applied to things absent. epithumia is really e epi ton thumon iousa dunamis. and is called eros. and is confirmed by oiesis (thinking). epithumia (desire). or aim. and ekousion (the voluntary). is a mishap. and is termed imeros from possessing this power. now that omega is substituted for omicron. going through a ravine. but is an influence introduced through the eyes. and rugged. Lupe appears to be derived from the relaxation (luein) which the body feels when in sorrow. and expresses the march of the soul in the pursuit of knowledge. But while my strength lasts let us persevere. the stream is not inherent. and that class of words? SOCRATES: Doxa is either derived from dioxis (pursuit). which is derived from aleinos (grievous). or object. thumos (passion) is called from the rushing (thuseos) and boiling of the soul. yielding. the former. but this has been altered by the insertion of the delta. pothos (longing) is expressive of the desire of that which is not present but absent.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: What do you say of edone (pleasure). SOCRATES: Why yes. implies error and ignorance. but the necessary and resistant being contrary to our will. and from flowing in was called esros (influx) in the old time when they used omicron for omega. and boulesthai (to wish) combines the notion of aiming and deliberating—all these words seem to follow doxa. just as aboulia. and I hope that you will persevere with your questions. lupe (pain). and all involve the idea of shooting. But why do you not give me another word? HERMOGENES: What do you think of doxa (opinion). HERMOGENES: You are quickening your pace now. ania (trouble) is the hindrance of motion (alpha and ienai). and the like. and overgrown. as imeros is to things present. and impedes motion—and this is the derivation of the word anagkaion (necessary) an agke ion. and in another place (pou). if I am not mistaken. Socrates? SOCRATES: I do not think. to that motion which is in accordance with our will. chara (joy) is the very expression of the fluency and diffusion of the soul (cheo). is named. which ought to come next. as every one may see. Ekousion is certainly the yielding (eikon) and unresisting—the notion implied is yielding and not opposing. eros (love) is so called because flowing in (esron) from without. terpsis (delight) is so called from the pleasure creeping (erpon) through the soul. until I have explained anagke (necessity).

The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  HERMOGENES: Well. pseudos (falsehood) is the opposite of motion. SOCRATES: You know the word maiesthai (to seek)? HERMOGENES: Yes. and this is very likely the right answer. SOCRATES: Yes. for these 148    . has this name of onoma. and the same may be said of not being. SOCRATES: The word onoma seems to be a compressed sentence. HERMOGENES: Very true. as is still more obvious in onomaston (notable). that I should not be surprised if the old language when compared with that now in use would appear to us to be a barbarous tongue. let me ask about the greatest and noblest. what is the word ion. SOCRATES: You mean to say. and keeps on always repeating this process. how should I answer him? HERMOGENES: Yes. here is another ill name given by the legislator to stagnation and forced inaction.—meaning the same as zetein (to enquire). which he compares to sleep (eudein). but also the original forms of words may have been lost in the lapse of ages. HERMOGENES: Very likely. that if a person go on analysing names into words. not forgetting to enquire why the word onoma (name). he who has to answer him must at last give up the enquiry in despair. SOCRATES: And at what point ought he to lose heart and give up the enquiry? Must he not stop when he comes to the names which are the elements of all other names and sentences. but the original meaning of the word is disguised by the addition of psi. signifying on ou zetema (being for which there is a search). which is the theme of our discussion. HERMOGENES: What way? SOCRATES: To say that names which we do not understand are of foreign origin. then. and what are reon and doun?—show me their fitness. For we should remember. for being (on) is also moving (ion). on and ousia are ion with an iota broken off. and enquiring also into the elements out of which the words are formed. SOCRATES: One way of giving the appearance of an answer has been already suggested. but suppose that some one were to say to you. implying the divine motion of existence. and something of this kind may be true of them. But still the enquiry demands our earnest attention and we must not flinch. very likely. this agrees with the true principle. HERMOGENES: You have hammered away at them manfully. which is likewise called not going (oukion or ouki on = ouk ion). aletheia is also an agglomeration of theia ale (divine wandering). which states in so many words that real existence is that for which there is a seeking (on ou masma). such as aletheia (truth) and pseudos (falsehood) and on (being). names have been so twisted in all manner of ways.

Hermogenes. all that has preceded would lead to this conclusion. SOCRATES: Very good. then I shall again say to you. is. And probably thoos is made up of other elements. which need not be resolved any further. SOCRATES: And that this is true of the primary quite as much as of the secondary names. as I conceive. HERMOGENES: I believe you to be in the right. make signs with the hands and head and the rest of the body? HERMOGENES: There would be no choice. that one principle is applicable to all names. as we were saying. and wanted to communicate with one another. must not their truth or law be examined according to some new method? HERMOGENES: Very likely.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  cannot be supposed to be made up of other names? The word agathon (good). Socrates. HERMOGENES: Of course. should we not. and these again of others. derive their significance from the primary. there is no difference in them. 149    . SOCRATES: I think that you will acknowledge with me. a compound of agastos (admirable) and thoos (swift). as I think. HERMOGENES: Surely. SOCRATES: And suppose the names about which you are now asking should turn out to be primary elements. HERMOGENES: That is evident. is implied in their being names. for example. the conclusion is true. but then how do the primary names which precede analysis show the natures of things. SOCRATES: But the secondary. HERMOGENES: Let me hear. and I will do my best to assist you. as far as they can be shown. then we shall be right in saying that we have at last reached a primary element. And if. if they are to be real names? And here I will ask you a question: Suppose that we had no voice or tongue. But if we take a word which is incapable of further resolution. SOCRATES: All the names that we have been explaining were intended to indicate the nature of things. like the deaf and dumb. which they must do. HERMOGENES: Certainly not. that I may not fall into some absurdity in stating the principle of primary names. SOCRATES: Quite so. primary as well as secondary—when they are regarded simply as names. come and help me.

SOCRATES: Nay. or any other animal. although that is also vocal. or tongue. my friend. 150    . an imitation of what music imitates. SOCRATES: Then a name is a vocal imitation of that which the vocal imitator names or imitates? HERMOGENES: I think so. SOCRATES: And when we want to express ourselves. the expression is simply their imitation of that which we want to express. if we were describing the running of a horse. would not be naming. these. HERMOGENES: It must be so. no. I should reply. or mouth. what sort of an imitation is a name? SOCRATES: In the first place. SOCRATES: We could not. the arts which have to do with them are music and drawing? HERMOGENES: True. name that which they imitate. or cocks. for by bodily imitation only can the body ever express anything. HERMOGENES: I do not see that we could do anything else. HERMOGENES: Why not? SOCRATES: Because if we have we shall be obliged to admit that the people who imitate sheep. the elevation of our hands to heaven would mean lightness and upwardness. nor. either with the voice. HERMOGENES: Quite true. I am disposed to think that we have not reached the truth as yet. SOCRATES: Then could I have been right in what I was saying? HERMOGENES: In my opinion. SOCRATES: But the art of naming appears not to be concerned with imitations of this kind. and many have colour? HERMOGENES: Certainly. again. HERMOGENES: Very true. we should make our bodies and their gestures as like as we could to them. Let me put the matter as follows: All objects have sound and figure. But I wish that you would tell me.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: We should imitate the nature of the thing. heaviness and downwardness would be expressed by letting them drop to the ground. or other animals. I think. Socrates. not a musical imitation. in my judgment.

and when we have well considered all this. or name-giver. ought we not. SOCRATES: Well. and then of compound sounds. whether they have in them classes as there are in the letters. then I think that we are in a condition to consider the names ron (stream). they proceed to the consideration of rhythms? HERMOGENES: Yes. HERMOGENES: Very good. therefore. first separating the vowels. too. as in the case of letters. and where does the imitator begin? Imitation of the essence is made by syllables and letters. according to the received distinctions of the learned. into classes. would he not express the nature of each thing? HERMOGENES: Quite so. SOCRATES: Must we not begin in the same way with letters. and see whether. or are there others? HERMOGENES: There must be others. just as there is a colour. of whom we are in search. Phaedrus). which are neither vowels. and when they have done so.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Again. but not before. nor yet mutes. that he must be the namer. the painter who wants to depict anything sometimes uses purple only. and see. and hence we shall see their natures. about which you were asking. But how shall we further analyse them. SOCRATES: So I should expect. ienai (to go). just. and we may see whether the namer has grasped the nature of them in letters and syllables in such a manner as to imitate the essence or not. or any other colour. or whether there is to be an admixture of several of them. first to separate the letters. is there not an essence of each thing. and then the consonants and mutes (letters which are neither vowels nor semivowels). there are any classes to which they may be all referred (cf. and distinguishing into classes the vowels themselves? And when we have perfected the classification of things. schesis (retention). we shall give them names. SOCRATES: If this is true. 151    . and if any one could express the essence of each thing in letters and syllables. or sound? And is there not an essence of colour and sound as well as of anything else which may be said to have an essence? HERMOGENES: I should think so. also the semivowels. Socrates. we shall know how to apply them to what they resemble—whether one letter is used to denote one thing. SOCRATES: But are these the only primary names. What will this imitator be called? HERMOGENES: I imagine. just as those who are beginning rhythm first distinguish the powers of elementary. as in painting. SOCRATES: The musician and the painter were the two names which you gave to the two other imitators.

we must have recourse to divine help. before we proceed. something about them. and we must see whether the primary. my dear Hermogenes. as they are called. And yet any sort of ignorance of first or primitive names involves an ignorance of secondary words. large and fair and whole. for they can only be explained by the primary. or perhaps that other notion may be even better still. which is the same sort of excuse as the last. as men say. of deriving them from some barbarous people. for the barbarians are older than we are. What do you think? HERMOGENES: I very much approve. if we are to attain a scientific view of the whole subject. Do you not suppose this to be true? HERMOGENES: Certainly. but I was carried away—meaning to say that this was the way in which (not we but) the ancients formed language. I can quite believe. SOCRATES: Well. that the higher method is the one which we or others who would analyse language to any good purpose must follow. 152    . that of the truth about them we know nothing. and also whether the secondary elements are rightly given or not. for if they are not. as I said before of the Gods.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  and sometimes mixes up several colours. saying by way of preface. Not that I am literally speaking of ourselves. who in any perplexity have their gods waiting in the air. from the combinations of nouns and verbs arrive at language. and so. or we may say that antiquity has cast a veil over them. as his method is when he has to paint flesh colour or anything of that kind—he uses his colours as his figures appear to require them. Socrates. SOCRATES: Shall we leave them. and must get out of our difficulty in like fashion. and what they put together we must take to pieces in like manner. and thus.' This will be the best contrivance. or several letters. and therefore they are right. the composition of them. at last. and in the wrong direction. and so we shall form syllables. if we can. even so shall we make speech by the art of the namer or the rhetorician. and so find expression. HERMOGENES: That. Clearly then the professor of languages should be able to give a very lucid explanation of first names. and as the painter made a figure. then? or shall we seek to discover. or let him be assured he will only talk nonsense about the rest. for all these are not reasons but only ingenious excuses for having no reasons concerning the truth of words. but under the circumstances. we shall apply letters to the expression of objects. may appear ridiculous. like the tragic poets. or by some other art. SOCRATES: That objects should be imitated in letters and syllables. Deprived of this. and do but entertain human notions of them. by saying that 'the Gods gave the first names. HERMOGENES: Much less am I likely to be able. let us say to ourselves. we must do as well as we can. And in this present enquiry. Hermogenes. according to the measure of our ability. but do you suppose that you will be able to analyse them in this way? for I am certain that I should not. Socrates. too. either single letters when required. but it cannot be avoided—there is no better principle to which we can look for the truth of first names. will be a sorry piece of work. and from syllables make nouns and verbs.

iesthai. the same as ienai. but he never explains what is this fitness. the letter rho appears to me to be the general instrument expressing all motion (kinesis). of the truth of names. reducing all things into letters and syllables. liparon (sleek). and nu of length. Cratylus mystifies me. and has been improved into stasis. Thus did the legislator. or Socrates and I will learn of you. rumbein (whirl): of all these sorts of movements he generally finds an expression in the letter R. for the letter eta was not in use among the ancients. and he frequently uses the letter for this purpose: for example. and allowing for the change of the eta and the insertion of the nu. Tell me now. He seems to have thought that the closing and pressure of the tongue in the utterance of delta and tau was expressive of binding and rest in a place: he further observed the liquid movement of lambda. of which the pronunciation is accompanied by great expenditure of breath. and therefore to have a notion of inwardness. trachus (rugged). which is a foreign form. and therefore there is plenty of omicron mixed up in the word goggulon (round). in the pronunciation of which the tongue slips. thrauein (crush). This is why he uses the letter iota as imitative of motion. and again. because. sigma. xeon (seething). and are always introduced by the giver of names when he wants to imitate what is phusodes (windy). (to be shaken). seiesthai. phi. and in this he found the expression of smoothness. he says that there is a fitness of names. and out of them by imitation compounding other signs. And there is another class of letters. and the like: the heavier sound of gamma detained the slipping tongue. here in the presence of Socrates. and then you will either learn of Socrates. but I should like to hear what Cratylus has more to say. though I have no objection to impart them to you if you desire. because they are great letters: omicron was the sign of roundness. appeared to the imposer of names an excellent instrument for the expression of motion. we have kinesis. and I hope that you will communicate to me in return anything better which you may have. and the union of the two gave the notion of a glutinous clammy nature. he had observed that the tongue was most agitated and least at rest in the pronunciation of this letter.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: My first notions of original names are truly wild and ridiculous. Now the letter rho. just as by the letter iota he expresses the subtle elements which pass through all things. and the root is kiein. as in leios (level). psi. also in the words tromos (trembling). do you agree in what Socrates has been saying about names. Hermogenes. as in glischros. HERMOGENES: But. seismos (shock). as I was saying. in the word kollodes (gluey). That is my view. And the old word kinesis will be correctly given as iesis in corresponding modern letters. gloiodes. in words such as krouein (strike). hence he introduced the sound in endos and entos: alpha he assigned to the expression of size. tell me what your view is. ereikein (bruise). Cratylus. glukus. 153    . The nu he observed to be sounded from within. I will do my best. ienai. Socrates. and impressing on them names and signs. and stasis is the negative of ienai (or eisis). these are used in the imitation of such notions as psuchron (shivering). and xi. But I have not yet explained the meaning of this latter word. HERMOGENES: Fear not. thruptein (break). as I imagine. and in the word oliothanein (to slip) itself. so that I cannot tell whether his obscurity is intended or not. who only employed epsilon. in the actual words rein and roe he represents motion by rho. as I was telling you before. which should have been kieinsis or eisis. which he therefore used in order to express motion. Assuming this foreign root kiein. or have you something better of your own? and if you have. kermatixein (crumble). SOCRATES: In the first place. which is just iesis (going).

if you think that you can add anything at all. But I fear that the opposite is more probable. or whether some Muse may have long been an inhabitant of your breast. you may count me in the number of your disciples. and me too. but surely. and has artificers? CRATYLUS: Yes. the very greatest of all. and I might possibly convert you into a disciple. and to give answers much to my mind. at any rate. take a little trouble and oblige Socrates. and I agree with him. And now let me see. therefore. Hermogenes. SOCRATES: And naming is an art. and therefore do not hesitate to say what you think. I have long been wondering at my own wisdom. unconsciously to yourself. I cannot trust myself. which is. what you say. as I am disposed to think.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  CRATYLUS: Well. of whom you spoke at first. And. in saying that I have made a study of these matters. or I explain. and I already find myself moved to say to you what Achilles in the 'Prayers' says to Ajax. You appear to have spoken in all things much to my mind. 'to add little to little' is worth while. as Hesiod says. whether you are inspired by Euthyphro. CRATYLUS: You are right. you do not suppose that you can learn.— 'Illustrious Ajax. which if it be better than my own view I shall gladly accept. Cratylus. where are we? Have we not been saying that the correct name indicates the nature of the thing:—has this proposition been sufficiently proven? CRATYLUS: Yes. in the view which Hermogenes and myself have worked out. 154    . perhaps. Socrates. lord of the people. HERMOGENES: No. who certainly have a claim upon you. SOCRATES: Names. are given in order to instruct? CRATYLUS: Certainly. Socrates. and if you have really a better theory of the truth of names. Socrates. however small. For you have evidently reflected on these matters and have had teachers. to our knowledge. is quite true. but. not such a subject as language.' And you. indeed. And I should not be at all surprized to find that you have found some better notion. And I think that I ought to stop and ask myself What am I saying? for there is nothing worse than self-deception—when the deceiver is always at home and always with you—it is quite terrible. any subject of importance all in a moment. SOCRATES: Excellent Cratylus. son of Telamon. SOCRATES: I am by no means positive.' in the words of the aforesaid Homer. then. appear to me to be an oracle. SOCRATES: And who are they? CRATYLUS: The legislators. and therefore I ought often to retrace my steps and endeavour to 'look fore and aft.

if they are names at all. SOCRATES: The better painters execute their works.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: And does this art grow up among men like other arts? Let me explain what I mean: of painters. and the worse build them worse. that there have been plenty of liars in all ages. some are better and some worse? CRATYLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: Then all names are rightly imposed? CRATYLUS: Yes. CRATYLUS: Why. SOCRATES: Or that one name is better than another? CRATYLUS: Certainly not. who has the nature which corresponds to it. but only appears to be his. better. CRATYLUS: True. would he not be even speaking falsely? For there may be a doubt whether you can call him Hermogenes. SOCRATES: Then you do not think that some laws are better and others worse? CRATYLUS: No. I mean their figures. or not his name at all? CRATYLUS: I should reply that Hermogenes is not his name at all. what do you say to the name of our friend Hermogenes. indeed. SOCRATES: And among legislators. SOCRATES: And if a man were to call him Hermogenes. and is really the name of somebody else. how can a man say that which is not?—say something and yet say nothing? For is not falsehood saying the thing which is not? 155    . there are some who do their work better and some worse? CRATYLUS: No. shall we say that this is a wrong name. there I do not agree with you. which was mentioned before:—assuming that he has nothing of the nature of Hermes in him. the better sort build fairer houses. CRATYLUS: What do you mean? SOCRATES: Are you maintaining that falsehood is impossible? For if this is your meaning I should answer. Socrates. and of builders also. and the worse execute them worse. if he is not. SOCRATES: Well.

would have no application to you but only to our friend Hermogenes. but in another way? CRATYLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: I believe you may be right. SOCRATES: And you would say that pictures are also imitations of things. SOCRATES: But let us see. Cratylus. SOCRATES: And conversely you may attribute the likeness of the man to the woman. but I do not rightly understand you. whether spoken. 156    . but that will be quite enough for me. and that his words would be an unmeaning sound like the noise of hammering at a brazen pot. is too subtle for a man of my age. Please to say. Athenian stranger. and of the woman to the man? CRATYLUS: Very true. SOCRATES: Nor uttered nor addressed? For example: If a person. whether both sorts of imitation (I mean both pictures or words) are not equally attributable and applicable to the things of which they are the imitation. then.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Your argument. or addressed. were to take your hand and say: 'Hail. CRATYLUS: I should say that he would be putting himself in motion to no purpose. for you would admit that the name is not the same with the thing named? CRATYLUS: I should. SOCRATES: First look at the matter thus: you may attribute the likeness of the man to the man. son of Smicrion'—these words. and so on? CRATYLUS: Certainly. said. and of the woman to the woman. if you will tell me whether the nonsense would be true or false. Socrates. SOCRATES: And would you further acknowledge that the name is an imitation of the thing? CRATYLUS: Certainly. or perhaps to nobody at all? CRATYLUS: In my opinion. uttered. Hermogenes. friend. or partly true and partly false:—which is all that I want to know. saluting you in a foreign country. the speaker would only be talking nonsense. But I should like to know whether you are one of those philosophers who think that falsehood may be spoken but not said? CRATYLUS: Neither spoken nor said. whether we cannot find a meeting-point. SOCRATES: Well. CRATYLUS: They are.

and when I say 'show. and when applied to names only. which are made up of them. or you may not give them all—some may be wanting. and say. like the picture. Socrates. they may be wrongly assigned. SOCRATES: Now then. what is the difference? May I not go to a man and say to him. in the case of pictures.' as the case may be? Is not all that quite possible? CRATYLUS: I would fain agree with you. whether applied to figures or to names. and the other mode of giving and assigning the name which is unlike. Granted. and therefore I say. SOCRATES: That is very good of you. What do you say. let me state my view to you: the first mode of assignment. 'This is a man'. the mode of assignment which attributes to each that which belongs to them and is like them? CRATYLUS: That is my view. and in pictures you may either give all the appropriate colours and figures. 'This is your picture. Now if there be such a wrong assignment of names. 157    . SOCRATES: And further. or of a female of the human species. which need hardly be disputed at present. primitive nouns may be compared to pictures. true as well as right. when I say.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: And are both modes of assigning them right. SOCRATES: Why. May I not say to him—'This is your name'? and may I not then bring to his sense of hearing the imitation of himself. 'This is a woman.' I mean bring before the sense of sight. CRATYLUS: Certainly. and if of names and verbs then of the sentences. or perhaps the likeness of a woman. there may also be a wrong or inappropriate assignment of verbs. SOCRATES: That is to say. the right assignment of them we may call truth. SOCRATES: And may I not go to him again. Socrates. is an imitation. when I say. as I am desirous that we being friends should have a good understanding about the argument. and the wrong assignment of them falsehood. 'This is your name'?—for the name. but not in the case of names—they must be always right. false as well as wrong. and think that what you say is very true. Cratylus? CRATYLUS: I agree. CRATYLUS: That may be true. or only the first? CRATYLUS: Only the first.' showing him his own likeness. I call right. or there may be too many or too much of them—may there not? CRATYLUS: Very true. But if I can assign names as well as pictures to objects. and in the case of names. if I am right. I call wrong.

and mind. I should say rather that the image. you see. CRATYLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: Then the artist of names may be sometimes good. and into this infuses motion. the number ten at once becomes other than ten if a unit be added or subtracted. if he gives all that is appropriate will produce a good image. Cratylus. then. the name which is written is not only written wrongly. but the case of language. he will make an image but not a good one. or that there were two Cratyluses? CRATYLUS: I should say that there were two Cratyluses. CRATYLUS: How so? SOCRATES: I believe that what you say may be true about numbers. such as you have. CRATYLUS: That is true. further. but not a good one. if expressing in every point the entire reality. if we add. SOCRATES: And this artist of names is called the legislator? CRATYLUS: Yes. and he who takes away or adds also gives a picture or figure. SOCRATES: But I doubt whether your view is altogether correct. for when by the help of grammar we assign the letters alpha or beta. and so of any other number: but this does not apply to that which is qualitative or to anything which is represented under an image. and in any of these cases becomes other than a name. or he may be bad? CRATYLUS: Yes. which must be just what they are. but not written at all. it must surely be so if our former admissions hold good? CRATYLUS: Very true. or in other words a name. whence I infer that some names are well and others ill made. and places them by you in another form. or any other letters to a certain name. 158    . he who by syllables and letters imitates the nature of things. would you say that this was Cratylus and the image of Cratylus. but if he subtracts or perhaps adds a little. or subtract. and we will suppose. would no longer be an image. or misplace a letter. or not be at all. Let us suppose the existence of two objects: one of them shall be Cratylus. and the other the image of Cratylus. SOCRATES: In like manner. and in a word copies all your qualities.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: And he who gives all gives a perfect picture or figure. having the same warmth and softness. is different. for example. but also creates an inward organization like yours. that some God makes not only a representation such as a painter would make of your outward form and colour. and soul. SOCRATES: Then like other artists the legislator may be good or he may be bad. Socrates.

but have the courage to admit that one name may be correctly and another incorrectly given.—well. CRATYLUS: Yes. and if of a letter also of a noun in a sentence. as you will remember. so long as the general character of the thing which you are describing is retained. when only a few of them are given. and acknowledge that the thing may be named. even if some of the proper letters are wanting. SOCRATES: Then fear not. SOCRATES: Then as we are agreed thus far. SOCRATES: And the proper letters are those which are like the things? CRATYLUS: Yes. the greater part may be supposed to be made up of proper and similar letters. not well. was remarked by Hermogenes and myself in the particular instance of the names of the letters. and described. let us ask ourselves whether a name rightly imposed ought not to have the proper letters.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Then you see. Socrates. and when the general character is preserved. CRATYLUS: Quite true. And in names which are incorrectly given. and not insist that an image is no longer an image when something is added or subtracted. or there would be no likeness. SOCRATES: Enough then of names which are rightly given. my friend. if they were exactly the same with them! For they would be the doubles of them. what you say to be very reasonable. and do not insist that the name shall be exactly the same with the thing. Do you not perceive that images are very far from having qualities which are the exact counterpart of the realities which they represent? CRATYLUS: Yes. or if not. still the thing is signified. but there will be likewise a part which is improper and spoils the beauty and formation of the word: you would admit that? 159    . I see. CRATYLUS: I quite acknowledge. you will be inconsistent with yourself. that we must find some other principle of truth in images. SOCRATES: Good. and also in names. and no one would be able to determine which were the names and which were the realities. CRATYLUS: Yes. if all the letters are given. for if you say both. and if of a noun in a sentence also of a sentence which is not appropriate to the matter. and this. and no longer maintain that a name is the expression of a thing in letters or syllables. I remember. I think that we had better admit this. lest we be punished like travellers in Aegina who wander about the street late at night: and be likewise told by truth herself that we have arrived too late. but allow the occasional substitution of a wrong letter. SOCRATES: But then how ridiculous would be the effect of names on things. you must find out some new notion of correctness of names.

they would say. Do you agree with me that the letter rho is expressive of rapidity.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  CRATYLUS: There would be no use. Socrates. SOCRATES: Very good: but if the name is to be like the thing. or do you prefer the notion of Hermogenes and of many others. who say that names are conventional. and have a meaning to those who have agreed about them. SOCRATES: And that lamda was expressive of smoothness. since I cannot be satisfied that a name which is incorrectly given is a name at all. I do. in my quarrelling with you. makes no difference. and that convention is the only principle. is there any better way of framing representations than by assimilating them to the objects as much as you can. Which of these two notions do you prefer? CRATYLUS: Representation by likeness. and whether you abide by our present convention. or make a new and opposite one. I would ask. 160    . SOCRATES: Do you admit a name to be the representation of a thing? CRATYLUS: Yes. I do. and who have previous knowledge of the things intended by them. SOCRATES: No more could names ever resemble any actually existing thing. the letters out of which the first names are composed must also be like things. and hardness? Were we right or wrong in saying so? CRATYLUS: I should say that you were right. and some derived? CRATYLUS: Yes. unless the original elements of which they are compounded bore some degree of resemblance to the objects of which the names are the imitation: And the original elements are letters? CRATYLUS: Yes. motion. and the like? CRATYLUS: There again you were right. SOCRATES: Then if you admit that primitive or first nouns are representations of things. and softness. if there were not pigments in nature which resembled the things imitated. is infinitely better than representation by any chance sign. Returning to the image of the picture. SOCRATES: Let me now invite you to consider what Hermogenes and I were saying about sounds. SOCRATES: But do you not allow that some nouns are primitive. if you are only agreed. Socrates. and out of which the picture is composed? CRATYLUS: Impossible. according to which you call small great and great small—that. How could any one ever compose a picture which would be like anything at all.

SOCRATES: In as far as they are like. then you have made a convention with yourself. my dear friend. still you must say that the signification of words is given by custom and not by likeness. if they are sanctioned by custom and convention. and is there the same significance to them in the termination rho. CRATYLUS: Why. since letters which are unlike are indicative equally with those which are like. when I say skleros (hard). Socrates. as you were saying to Hermogenes and in my opinion rightly. And even supposing that you distinguish custom from convention ever so much. SOCRATES: And what do you say of the insertion of the lamda? for that is expressive not of hardness but of softness. CRATYLUS: Yes. perhaps the letter lamda is wrongly inserted.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: And yet. as you are aware. for custom may indicate by the unlike as well as by the like. SOCRATES: Are they altogether alike? CRATYLUS: Yes. or is there no significance to one of us? CRATYLUS: Nay. and you know that I understand the meaning of the sound: this is what you are saying? CRATYLUS: Yes. But if this is true. SOCRATES: Good. you know what I mean. that which is called by us sklerotes. and the correctness of a name turns out to be convention. But still the word is intelligible to both of us. SOCRATES: And what is custom but convention? I utter a sound which I understand. SOCRATES: But are the letters rho and sigma equivalents. for the purpose of expressing motion. which there is to us in sigma. is by the Eretrians called skleroter. surely there is a significance to both of us. SOCRATES: And if when I speak you know my meaning. for example in the lamda of sklerotes. and the explanation of that is custom. CRATYLUS: Very true. SOCRATES: This indication of my meaning may proceed from unlike as well as from like. and should be altered into rho. there is an indication given by me to you? CRATYLUS: Yes. when you spoke of adding and subtracting letters upon occasion. Cratylus (for I shall assume that your silence gives 161    . or in as far as they are unlike? CRATYLUS: In as far as they are like. But as we are agreed thus far.

and analyses their meaning. or is this only the method of instruction. is given us by names. Is it the best sort of information? or is there any other? What do you say? CRATYLUS: I believe that to be both the only and the best sort of information about them. and what is the use of them? CRATYLUS: The use of names. unless you allow that which you term convention and agreement to have authority in determining the correctness of names? I quite agree with you that words should as far as possible resemble things. there can be no other. because they are similars.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  consent). SOCRATES: But do you believe that in the discovery of them. what is the force of names. for suppose we take the instance of number. my good friend. as the opposite is the most imperfect. that you will find names resembling every individual number. and he gave names according to his conception. this would be the most perfect state of language. and therefore you would say that he who knows names will also know things. is in great danger of being deceived? CRATYLUS: How so? SOCRATES: Why clearly he who first gave names gave them according to his conception of the things which they signified—did he not? CRATYLUS: True. SOCRATES: And if his conception was erroneous. and all similars fall under the same art or science. SOCRATES: Well. and that he who knows the one will also know the other. or almost always. that as the name is. that he who follows names in the search after things. so also is the thing. which are perfectly appropriate. But let me ask you. in what position shall we who are his followers find ourselves? Shall we not be deceived by him? 162    . but I fear that this dragging in of resemblance. Cratylus. how can you ever imagine. SOCRATES: I suppose you mean to say. that he who knows names knows also the things which are expressed by them. according to you. which has to be supplemented by the mechanical aid of convention with a view to correctness. Cratylus. as I should imagine. use likenesses. SOCRATES: But let us consider what is the nature of this information about things which. is to inform: the simple truth is. he who discovers the names discovers also the things. and is there some other method of enquiry and discovery. as Hermogenes says. CRATYLUS: I certainly believe that the methods of enquiry and discovery are of the same nature as instruction. but do you not see. is a shabby thing. for I believe that if we could always. then custom and convention must be supposed to contribute to the indication of our thoughts. CRATYLUS: That is precisely what I mean. Socrates.

For if he did begin in error. epesthai. all the rest will follow. but make an insertion of an iota instead of an epsilon (not pioteme. and the word piston (faithful) certainly indicates cessation of motion. mneme (memory). Did you ever observe in speaking that all the words which you utter have a common character and purpose? SOCRATES: But that. again. that is assuredly their meaning. and the true meaning. and that this idea of motion is expressed by names? Do you not conceive that to be the meaning of them? CRATYLUS: Yes. about which I should like to know whether you think with me. that is not reasonable. as any one may see. And here let us revert to our former discussion: Were we not saying that all things are in motion and progress and flux. sunienai. viewed in the light of their etymologies will be the same as sunesis and episteme and other words which have a good sense (compare omartein. and not reject the epsilon. as I was saying. Now I should be astonished to find that names are really consistent. but observe. is no answer. Socrates. then. and much the same may be said of amathia and akolasia. But let us have done with this question and proceed to another. both Hellenic and barbarous. SOCRATES: Certainly not. his names would not be names at all? And you have a clear proof that he has not missed the truth. not that things are in motion or progress. Cratylus? Are we to count them like votes? and is correctness of names the voice of the majority? Are we to say of whichever sort there are most. am I not right in thinking that he must surely have known. were the legislators. friend Cratylus. and not of motion.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  CRATYLUS: But. and therefore we should leave the beginning as at present. or else. And this is the reason why every man should expend his chief thought and attention on the consideration of his first principles:—are they or are they not rightly laid down? and when he has duly sifted them. but epiisteme). Thus the names which in these instances we find to have the worst sense. Moreover. the greater number express motion. words such as amartia and sumphora. Were we not lately acknowledging that the first givers of names in states. and are consistently mistaken in the long deductions which follow. but that they are at rest. he may have forced the remainder into agreement with the original error and with himself. those are the true ones? CRATYLUS: No. SOCRATES: What of that. Socrates. will turn out to be framed on the same principle as those which have the best. there would be nothing strange in this. and not motion. sumpheresthai). which have often a slight and invisible flaw in the first part of the process. And any one I believe who would take the trouble might find many other examples in which the giver of names indicates. SOCRATES: Let us revert to episteme (knowledge) and observe how ambiguous this word is. any more than in geometrical diagrams. which is the opposite of motion. and that the art which gave names was the art of the legislator? 163    . Again. CRATYLUS: Yes. and the proof is—that he is perfectly consistent. for amathia may be explained as e ama theo iontos poreia. Take another example: bebaion (sure) is clearly the expression of station and position. and akolasia as e akolouthia tois pragmasin. the word istoria (enquiry) bears upon the face of it the stopping (istanai) of the stream. expresses rest in the soul. which have a bad sense. seeming rather to signify stopping the soul at things than going round with them.

the only way of learning and discovering things. SOCRATES: And would you say that the giver of the first names had also a knowledge of the things which he named? CRATYLUS: I should. yes. that he who gave names must have known the things which he named. my good friend. and that the names which are thus given are necessarily their true names. who were the givers of the first names. how can we suppose that the givers of names had knowledge. 164    . or were legislators before there were names at all. Socrates. Socrates. SOCRATES: Let us return to the point from which we digressed. SOCRATES: Tell me. CRATYLUS: No. then. did the first legislators. SOCRATES: But how could he have learned or discovered things from names if the primitive names were not yet given? For. did he make. not in that way. that a power more than human gave things their first names. if you remember. know or not know the things which they named? CRATYLUS: They must have known. those which are expressive of rest. they could hardly have been ignorant. cannot be determined by counting them. to contradict himself? For were we not saying just now that he made some names expressive of rest and others of motion? Were we mistaken? CRATYLUS: But I suppose one of the two not to be names at all. SOCRATES: Why. is either to discover names for ourselves or to learn them from others. You were saying.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  CRATYLUS: Quite true. are you still of that opinion? CRATYLUS: I am. CRATYLUS: I think that there is a good deal in what you say. if we are correct in our view. SOCRATES: But if things are only to be known through names. SOCRATES: And which. and therefore before they could have known them? CRATYLUS: I believe. as I said before. or those which are expressive of motion? This is a point which. Socrates. the true account of the matter to be. Socrates. SOCRATES: Then how came the giver of the names. friend Cratylus. then. CRATYLUS: I should say not. if he was an inspired being or God.

I should not like us to be imposed upon by the appearance of such a multitude of names. and should like to ask your opinion: Tell me. all tending in the same direction. how or by what criterion are we to decide between them? For there are no other names to which appeal can be made. and suppose also that you can learn them from the things themselves—which is likely to be the nobler and clearer way. I think. or any other absolute existence? 165    . And having fallen into a kind of whirlpool themselves. SOCRATES: Well. I suspect. master Cratylus. whether the image and the truth of which the image is the expression have been rightly conceived. and want to drag us in after them.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: But if this is a battle of names. mistaken opinion. But we may admit so much. and through themselves? For that which is other and different from them must signify something other and different from them. they are carried round. and this must be a standard which shows the truth of things. SOCRATES: But how would you expect to know them? What other way can there be of knowing them. when they are akin to each other. have we not several times acknowledged that names rightly given are the likenesses and images of the things which they name? CRATYLUS: Yes. that the knowledge of things is not to be derived from names. they must be studied and investigated in themselves. without employing names. others contending that THEY are. CRATYLUS: I agree. but reflect. SOCRATES: Let us suppose that to any extent you please you can learn things through the medium of names. CRATYLUS: What you are saying is. I think. SOCRATES: How real existence is to be studied or discovered is. but obviously recourse must be had to another standard which. about which I often dream. Cratylus. or to learn of the truth whether the truth and the image of it have been duly executed? CRATYLUS: I should say that we must learn of the truth. through their affinities. Socrates. to learn of the image. beyond you and me. SOCRATES: There is another point. except the true and natural way. which was their sincere but. SOCRATES: But if that is true. I myself do not deny that the givers of names did really give them under the idea that all things were in motion and flux. some of them asserting that they are like the truth. There is a matter. true. CRATYLUS: Clearly. No. will make clear which of the two are right. then I suppose that things may be known without names? CRATYLUS: Clearly. whether there is or is not any absolute beauty or good.

SOCRATES: Then how can that be a real thing which is never in the same state? for obviously things which are the same cannot change while they remain the same. CRATYLUS: True. CRATYLUS: Certainly they cannot. or imagine that the world is a man who has a running at the nose. and if they are always the same and in the same state. and no man of sense will like to put himself or the education of his mind in the power of names: neither will he so far trust names or the givers of names as to be confident in any knowledge which condemns himself and other existences to an unhealthy state of unreality. and if the transition is always going on. but let us ask whether the true beauty is not always beautiful. must not the same thing be born and retire and vanish while the word is in our mouths? CRATYLUS: Undoubtedly. 166    . that I have been considering the matter already. SOCRATES: And can we rightly speak of a beauty which is always passing away.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  CRATYLUS: Certainly. then they become other and of another nature. for knowledge too cannot continue to be knowledge unless continuing always to abide and exist. according to this view. Cratylus. but is also very likely to be untrue. so that you cannot get any further in knowing their nature or state. and the beautiful and the good and every other thing also exist. is a question hard to determine. This may be true. SOCRATES: Nor can we reasonably say. CRATYLUS: I will do as you say. Whether there is this eternal nature in things. as we were just now supposing. for you are young and of an age to learn. if everything is in a state of transition and there is nothing abiding. But if the very nature of knowledge changes. for you cannot know that which has no state. SOCRATES: Nor yet can they be known by any one. he will not believe that all things leak like a pot. CRATYLUS: Certainly. at the time when the change occurs there will be no knowledge. or anything of that sort. Reflect well and like a man. they can never change or be moved. though I can assure you. or whether the truth is what Heracleitus and his followers and many others say. Cratylus. and is first this and then that. and therefore I would not have you be too easily persuaded of it. then I do not think that they can resemble a process or flux. SOCRATES: Then let us seek the true beauty: not asking whether a face is fair. and the result of a great deal of trouble and consideration is that I incline to Heracleitus. and never depart from their original form. come and tell me. and. I think so. for all such things appear to be in a flux. that there is knowledge at all. there will be no one to know and nothing to be known: but if that which knows and that which is known exists ever. and do not easily accept such a doctrine. there will always be no knowledge. Socrates. for at the moment that the observer approaches. And when you have found the truth. Socrates.

go into the country. 167    . however. that you will continue to think about these things yourself. another day. my friend. Socrates. and Hermogenes shall set you on your way. when you come back. I hope. but at present.The Dialogues of Plato: Cratylus  SOCRATES: Then. you shall give me a lesson. CRATYLUS: Very good. as you are intending.

org Title: Critias Author: Plato Translator: Benjamin Jowett Release Date: August 15.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  The Project Gutenberg EBook of Critias. give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www. 2008 [EBook #1571] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CRITIAS *** Produced by Sue Asscher.gutenberg. and David Widger CRITIAS by Plato Translated by Benjamin Jowett 168    . You may copy it. by Plato This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.

The passing remark in the Timaeus that Athens was left alone in the struggle. The Critias is also connected with the Republic. In the beginning the gods agreed to divide the earth by lot in a friendly manner. because he has to speak of men whom we know and not of gods whom we do not know. and not by force. Some of their names. brother and sister deities. Critias returns to his story.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  INTRODUCTION AND ANALYSIS. and anticipating that Hermocrates will make a similar petition. and the dawn of history was now to succeed the philosophy of nature. such as Cecrops. Palestine. One of the combatants was the city of Athens. and the remnant who survived in the mountains were ignorant of the art of writing. It was designed to be the second part of a trilogy. and were the shepherds or rather the pilots of mankind. or as the narrative of the first part of the Aeneid is intended by Virgil to foreshadow the wars of Carthage and Rome. Erichthonius. Philosopher. Arabia Felix. Hephaestus and Athena. in the same way that the Persian is prefigured by the Trojan war to the mind of Herodotus. extends by anticipation a like indulgence to him. a land suited to the growth of virtue and wisdom. begs that a larger measure of indulgence may be conceded to him. and during many generations were wholly devoted to acquiring the 169    . and Erysichthon. 'which is about their present number' (Crit. and taught them how to order the state.). Hence we may safely conclude that the entire narrative is due to the imagination of Plato. Socrates readily grants his request. perhaps in some degree also of the wars of the Greeks and Carthaginians. and Critias. whom they guided by persuasion. The war of which he was about to speak had occurred 9000 years ago. who has used the name of Solon and introduced the Egyptian priests to give verisimilitude to his story. intended to represent the ideal state engaged in a patriotic conflict. in mind and art united. Sardinia. To the Greek such a tale. obtained as their lot the land of Attica. America. like that of the earth-born men. were preserved and adopted in later times. Erechtheus. Sweden. Ceylon. but the memory of their deeds has passed away. Timaeus had brought down the origin of the world to the creation of man. This mythical conflict is prophetic or symbolical of the struggle of Athens and Persia. in which she conquered and became the liberator of Greece. Critias proposes to speak of these rival powers first of all. Without regard to the description of Plato.). Plato. The Critias is a fragment which breaks off in the middle of a sentence. like the other great Platonic trilogy of the Sophist. and when they had made the allotment they settled their several countries. whose turn follows. interpreters have looked for the spot in every part of the globe. the other was the great island of Atlantis. But it appears strange that later ages should have been imposed upon by the fiction. giving to Athens the precedence. As many attempts have been made to find the great island of Atlantis. Timaeus concludes with a prayer that his words may be acceptable to the God whom he has revealed. which. is evidently designed to contrast with the myriads and barbaric array of the Atlantic hosts. and not more marvellous than the wonders of the East narrated by Herodotus and others: he might have been deceived into believing it. as he has already told us (Tim. Statesman. the various tribes of Greeks and barbarians who took part in the war will be dealt with as they successively appear on the scene. and there they settled a brave race of children of the soil. for there have since been many deluges. as to discover the country of the lost tribes. was never completed. would have seemed perfectly accordant with the character of his mythology. and without a suspicion that the whole narrative is a fabrication. professing only to repeat what Solon was told by the priests.000). is also an allusion to the later history. The small number of the primitive Athenian citizens (20.

They were a just and famous race. To the interior island he conveyed under the earth springs of water hot and cold. They were careful to preserve the number of fighting men and women at 20. and great treasures derived from mines—among them that precious metal orichalcum. and near the centre. like our guardians. and. and herds of elephants. There were various classes of citizens. and palaces. and the warriors dwelt by themselves on the summit. and the Lycabettus on the opposite side to the Pnyx. Attica in those days extended southwards to the Isthmus. In summer time the south side was inhabited by them. of this there are still some traces.000. and supplied the land with all things needed for the life of man. These were modest dwellings. while to his twin brother. In winter they retired into houses on the north of the hill. The other brothers he made chiefs over the rest of the island. or Gadeirus. And their kingdom extended as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia. as what remains of it still is. and he enquired their meaning and translated them. there was a low mountain in which dwelt a man named Evenor and his wife Leucippe. and were educated. and employed themselves in constructing their temples. The country was then. and abounded in rich plains and pastures.. in which they held their syssitia. and inland to the heights of Parnes and Cithaeron. This ancient palace was ornamented by successive generations. around the temples of Hephaestus and Athene. and their daughter Cleito. and him he made king of the centre island. and they dug a canal which passed through the zones of land from the island to the sea. and there he begat children whose mother was a mortal. Towards the sea and in the centre of the island there was a very fair and fertile plain. And the inhabitants of this fair land were endowed with intelligence and the love of beauty. including handicraftsmen and husbandmen and a superior class of warriors who dwelt apart. And now I will speak to you of their adversaries. and pastures for animals of all kinds. as there was no shipping in those days. Eumelus. He to secure his love enclosed the mountain with rings or zones varying in size. about fifty stadia from the plain. two of land and three of sea. no man could get into the place.In the division of the earth Poseidon obtained as his portion the island of Atlantis. and is now in my possession. which gave an abundant supply of cool water in summer and warm in winter. of whom Poseidon became enamoured.. The eldest was Atlas. but first I ought to explain that the Greek names were given to Solon in an Egyptian form. and then they left their gardens and dininghalls. But in the course of ages much of the soil was washed away and disappeared in the deep sea. which they bequeathed unaltered to their children's children. Now Atlas had a fair posterity. as they ought always to have. Here he begat a family consisting of five pairs of twin male children. and between them and the sea included the district of Oropus. and made a way to and from the royal palace which they built in the centre island. having a level surface and deep soil. In the midst of the Acropolis was a fountain. and had all things in common. and trees bearing fruit. he assigned that part of the country which was nearest the Straits. His manuscript was left with my grandfather Dropides. and docks. The side of the hill was inhabited by craftsmen and husbandmen.And the armed image of the goddess which was dedicated by the ancient Athenians is an evidence to other ages that men and women had in those days. The zones of earth were 170    . and grasses. and harbours.. And so they passed their lives as guardians of the citizens and leaders of the Hellenes.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  means of life. celebrated for their beauty and virtue all over Europe and Asia. and included the Pnyx. in the following manner:—First. These they used. and there was abundance of wood. in an enclosure which was like the garden of a single house. and fragrant herbs. the most fertile in the world. The Acropolis of the ancient Athens extended to the Ilissus and Eridanus.. which his divine power readily enabled him to excavate and fashion. which is equal to that of the present military force. they bridged over the zones of sea. common virtues and pursuits.

The most important of their laws related to their dealings with one another. around him were a hundred Nereids. and there were baths both of the kings and of private individuals. it was oblong. two archers. two horses and riders upon them. three stone-shooters. adorned with gold and silver and orichalcum. The land between the harbour and the sea was surrounded by a wall. which was the wall of the citadel. three javelin-men. Each of the ten kings was absolute in his own city and kingdom. and also for cattle. 171    . and the rest of the interior was lined with orichalcum. In the interior of the citadel was a holy temple. and touching the roof with his head. two hoplites. the most trusted of them were stationed in the citadel. This depth received the streams which came down from the mountains. at which the kings and princes gathered together and held a festival every fifth and every sixth year alternately. and as they quarried they hollowed out beneath the edges of the zones double docks having roofs of rock. and found a way to the sea. and surrounded by an enclosure of gold. and the third. Also there were fountains of hot and cold water. corresponding to the greatness and glory both of the kingdom and of the temple. They were not to take up arms against one another. The plain around the city was highly cultivated and sheltered from the north by mountains. a pair of chariot-horses without a seat. one of which the ten kings caught and sacrificed. which was of an incredible depth. and vowing not to transgress the laws of their father Poseidon. which was covered with silver. unless he had the assent of the majority. Within was an image of the god standing in a chariot drawn by six winged horses. and suitable buildings surrounding them. and where falling out of the straight line followed the circular ditch. When night came. dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon. black and white and red. The docks were full of triremes and stores. The outermost of the walls was coated with brass. which had been inscribed by the first kings on a column of orichalcum in the temple of Poseidon. and there was Poseidon's own temple. there was an altar too. which ran all round the island. and four sailors to make up the complement of twelve hundred ships. and the pinnacles with gold. The relations of the different governments to one another were determined by the injunctions of Poseidon. and trees. Around the temple ranged the bulls of Poseidon. riding on dolphins. Outside the temple were placed golden statues of all the descendants of the ten kings and of their wives. which they sometimes intermingled for the sake of ornament. They were to deliberate in common about war. The water from the baths was carried to the grove of Poseidon. two slingers. the second with tin. so as to make up ten thousand chariots. each of which was a square of ten stadia. as well as the canals of the interior. flashed with the red light of orichalcum. and were to come to the rescue if any of their brethren were attacked. The roof was of ivory. and in the larger of the two there was a racecourse for horses. and the harbour and canal resounded with the din of human voices. The entire country was divided into sixty thousand lots. And there were temples in the zones. shedding the blood of the victim over the inscription. and the owner of a lot was bound to furnish the sixth part of a war-chariot.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  surrounded by walls made of stone of divers colours. and was crowded with dwellings. and the king was not to have the power of life and death over his kinsmen. and there were palaces. they put on azure robes and gave judgment against offenders. and separate baths for women. The guards were distributed in the zones according to the trust reposed in them. and by aqueducts over the bridges to the outer circles. and an attendant and charioteer.

The all-seeing Zeus. Martin. here be truths!'): (3) the extreme minuteness with which the numbers are given. discuss the Egyptian origin of the legend. that the truth of the story is a great advantage: (2) the manner in which traditional names and indications of geography are intermingled ('Why. Their Oriental wealth. and variety of 172    . and they began to degenerate. and soon incurred the anger of the gods. such as the ideal Athens. compared with the statement made in an earlier passage that Poseidon. adopting a different vein of reflection. such as the Greeks believed to have existed under the sway of the first Persian kings. Others. though matched against any number of opponents (cp. Grote is inclined to believe in the Egyptian poem of Solon of which there is no evidence in antiquity. held a council of the gods. though to the outward eye they appeared glorious as ever at the very time when they were filled with all iniquity. while others. and when he had called them together. discussions like those of M. and the creation of the first inhabitants out of the soil. or like M. and splendour of gold and silver. accepted the tale of the Island of Atlantis. Although worthless in respect of any result which can be attained by them. found no difficulty in contriving the water-supply of the centre island: (10) the mention of the old rivalry of Poseidon and Athene. de Humboldt. and the popular belief of the shallowness of the ocean in that part: (9) the confession that the depth of the ditch in the Island of Atlantis was not to be believed. as showing how the chance word of some poet or philosopher has given birth to endless religious or historical enquiries. (See Introduction to the Timaeus. They knew that they could only have the true use of riches by not caring about them. and 'yet he could only repeat what he had heard'.). and may be compared to the similar discussions regarding the Lost Tribes (2 Esdras). Plato probably intended to show that a state. In modern times we hardly seek for traces of the submerged continent. Plato himself. was invincible. being a God. and practised gentleness and wisdom in their intercourse with one another.' says M. and for the most part unhesitatingly.' He never appears to suspect that there is a greater deceiver or magician than the Egyptian priests. the people of Atlantis were obedient to the laws and to the gods. whom he quotes. But all such empires were liable to degenerate. as elsewhere. 'rests upon the authority of the Egyptian priests.) In contrasting the small Greek city numbering about twenty thousand inhabitants with the barbaric greatness of the island of Atlantis. he spoke as follows:— No one knew better than Plato how to invent 'a noble lie. as in the Old Epic poetry: (4) the ingenious reason assigned for the Greek names occurring in the Egyptian tale: (5) the remark that the armed statue of Athena indicated the common warrior life of men and women: (6) the particularity with which the third deluge before that of Deucalion is affirmed to have been the great destruction: (7) the happy guess that great geological changes have been effected by water: (8) the indulgence of the prejudice against sailing beyond the Columns. from the dominion of whose genius the critic and natural philosopher of modern times are not wholly emancipated. The world. regard the Island of Atlantis as the anticipation of a still greater island—the Continent of America. wanting to punish them. are disposed to find in it a vestige of a widely-spread tradition. 'The tale. Even in a great empire there might be a degree of virtue and justice. and the Egyptian priests took a pleasure in deceiving the Greeks.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  For many generations. Plato here. But gradually the divine portion of their souls became diluted with too much of the mortal admixture. has readily. as tradition tells. like a child. Rep.' Observe (1) the innocent declaration of Socrates. ingeniously gives the impression that he is telling the truth which mythology had corrupted. but even Mr. that is to say. like Martin. Martin (Timee) have an interest of their own.

) CRITIAS: And I. It is singular that Plato should have prefixed the most detested of Athenian names to this dialogue. TIMAEUS: How thankful I am. which of all medicines is the most perfect and best. It is remarkable that in his brief sketch of them. and perhaps in some other cases. whether from accident. Timaeus. like a weary traveller after a long journey. Why the Critias was never completed. to grant that my words may endure in so far as they have been spoken truly and acceptably to him.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  colours. Plato is describing a sort of Babylonian or Egyptian city. and the connection with Solon. In the island of Atlantis. Timaeus. I pray that he will impose upon me a just retribution. then. CRITIAS. I pray him to give me knowledge. may be at rest! And I pray the being who always was of old.' as well as the warriors who are his sole concern in the Republic. accept the trust. and even more singular that he should have put into the mouth of Socrates a panegyric on him (Tim. and that though he speaks of the common pursuits of men and women. (Tim. to which he opposes the frugal life of the true Hellenic citizen. or from a sense of the artistic difficulty of the design. or from advancing age. I too ask the same or 173    . Socrates. and as you at first said that you were going to speak of high matters.). but if unintentionally I have said anything wrong. that I have arrived at last. Socrates. and. he idealizes the husbandmen 'who are lovers of honour and true husbandmen. who is to speak next according to our agreement. Hermocrates. and the just retribution of him who errs is that he should be set right. he says nothing of the community of wives and children. And now having offered my prayer I deliver up the argument to Critias. and that the mere acquaintance with him was made a subject of accusation against Socrates. PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Critias. We can only infer that in this. seemed also to be at variance with the simplicity of Greek notions. to speak truly in future concerning the generation of the gods. and begged that some forbearance might be shown to you. Yet we know that his character was accounted infamous by Xenophon. and has now been by me revealed. may have suggested the introduction of his name. cannot be determined. Plato's characters have no reference to the actual facts. Wishing. The desire to do honour to his own family.

he will make the same request which you have made. And now. and at the same time to beg. and then let us hear you sound the praises and show forth the virtues of your ancient citizens. that he may provide himself with a fresh beginning. then. you must excuse me. I will announce to you the judgment of the theatre. I will proceed. we will grant your request. and therefore you must go and attack the argument like a man. But I should like to make my meaning clearer. and that you will need a great deal of indulgence before you will be able to take his place. CRITIAS: Friend Hermocrates. Socrates. For if we consider the likenesses which painters make of bodies divine and heavenly. as well as to you and Timaeus. you. All that is said by any of us can only be imitation and representation. and the woods. and our familiar knowledge makes us severe judges of any one who does not render every point of similarity. First invoke Apollo and the Muses. considering that to form approved likenesses of human things is the reverse of easy. For will any man of sense deny that you have spoken well? I can only attempt to show that I ought to have more indulgence than you. This is what I want to suggest to you. and the things that are and move therein. the gravity of the situation will soon be revealed to you. we shall see that we are satisfied with the artist who is able in any degree to imitate the earth and its mountains. I would specially invoke Mnemosyne. let him understand that the indulgence is already extended by anticipation to him. But besides the gods and goddesses whom you have mentioned. Socrates. They are of opinion that the last performer was wonderfully successful. and if I can recollect and recite enough of what was said by the priests and brought hither by Solon. Which favour. we do not examine or analyze the painting. I doubt not that I shall satisfy the requirements of this theatre. In order. Wherefore if at the moment of speaking I cannot suitably express my meaning. friend Critias. HERMOCRATES: The warning. I hope that you will be ready to grant. because my theme is more difficult. and the different degrees of gratification with which the eye of the spectator receives them. and I shall argue that to seem to speak well of the gods to men is far easier than to speak well of men to men: for the inexperience and utter ignorance of his hearers about any subject is a great assistance to him who has to speak of it. that I may have not less. Critias. for I have no doubt that when his turn comes a little while hence. if I am right in asking. and we know how ignorant we are concerning the gods. that knowing nothing precise about such matters. that faint heart never yet raised a trophy. making no more excuses. if you will follow me. But when a person endeavours to paint the human form we are quick at finding out defects. but more indulgence conceded to me in what I am about to say. 174    . Critias. But remember. all that is required is a sort of indistinct and deceptive mode of shadowing them forth. And now. and not be compelled to say the same things over again. And we may observe the same thing to happen in discourse. and the rivers. we are satisfied with a picture of divine and heavenly things which has very little likeness to them. meanwhile I accept your exhortations and encouragements. I must also take to myself. I must make it nevertheless. for all the important part of my discourse is dependent on her favour. but we are more precise in our criticism of mortal and human things. SOCRATES: Certainly. which you have addressed to him. and the universe. and we will grant the same by anticipation to Hermocrates. And although I very well know that my request may appear to be somewhat ambitious and discourteous.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  greater forbearance for what I am about to say. and further. who are stationed last and have another in front of you. have not lost heart as yet.

and there was also a warrior class originally set apart by divine men. knowing this. and put into their minds the order of government. as they successively appear on the scene. was an island greater in extent than Libya and Asia. their names are preserved. as I have already said. and peopled their own districts. if they please. Now different gods had their allotments in different places which they set in order. practise in common the virtue which belongs to them without distinction of sex. the city of Athens was reported to have been the leader and to have fought out the war. but very little about their actions. as shepherds tend their flocks. and the names of the women in like manner. Polit. such as Cecrops. Hephaestus and Athene. This I infer because Solon said that the priests in their narrative of that war mentioned most of the names which are recorded prior to the time of Theseus. Now the country was inhabited in those days by various classes of citizens. the combatants on the other side were commanded by the kings of Atlantis. but I must describe first of all the Athenians of that day. the gods had the whole earth distributed among them by allotment (Cp. and when they see that the necessaries of life have already been provided. but governed us like pilots from the stern of the vessel. Let us give the precedence to Athens. the men of those days in accordance with the custom of the time set up a figure and image of the goddess in full armour. and Erysichthon. which. since military pursuits were then common to men and women. Moreover. having a common nature. for you cannot rightly suppose that the gods did not know what was proper for each of them to have. and when afterwards sunk by an earthquake. and the lapse of ages. as I was saying. and Erechtheus. and had heard only the names of the chiefs of the land. or. The names they were willing enough to give to their children. they directed their attention to the supply of their wants. that nine thousand was the sum of years which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the pillars of Heracles and all who dwelt within them.). and sprang from the same father. which was naturally adapted for wisdom and virtue. The progress of the history will unfold the various nations of barbarians and families of Hellenes which then existed. and when they had peopled them they tended us. to be a testimony that all animals which associate together. they were men who dwelt in the mountains. and there were husbandmen. that they would seek to procure for themselves by contention that which more properly belonged to others. for mythology and the enquiry into antiquity are first introduced into cities when they begin to have leisure (Cp.—there were artisans. and there they implanted brave children of the soil. became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean. and as they themselves and their children lacked for many generations the necessaries of life. holding our souls by the rudder of persuasion according to their own pleasure. Metaphys.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  Let me begin by observing first of all. They all of them by just apportionment obtained what they wanted. and Erichthonius. may. they knew only by obscure traditions. In the days of old. who were brother and sister. but not before. but their actions have disappeared by reason of the destruction of those who received the tradition. And this is the reason why the names of the ancients have been preserved to us and not their actions. but the virtues and the laws of their predecessors. For when there were any survivors. both obtained as their common portion this land. to the neglect of events that had happened in times long past. their nurselings and possessions. which is an easy way of guiding animals. Of the combatants on the one side.—thus did they guide all mortal creatures. as shepherds do. Arist. excepting only that they did not use blows or bodily force. this war I am going to describe. and their enemies who fought with them. and then the respective powers and governments of the two kingdoms.) There was no quarrelling. The 175    . and being united also in the love of philosophy and art. and of them they conversed. male as well as female. and they were ignorant of the art of writing.

and in the heaven above an excellently attempered climate. nor did they claim to receive of the other citizens anything more than their necessary food. which was cultivated. and there were many other high trees. by true husbandmen. and were lovers of honour. of which there may still be observed sacred memorials in places where fountains once existed. for that is the number of years which have elapsed since the time of which I am speaking. and that in the direction of the continent they extended as far as the heights of Cithaeron and Parnes. and the plains. and level at the top. Concerning the country the Egyptian priests said what is not only probable but manifestly true. and there was abundance of wood in the mountains. and the Lycabettus as a boundary on the opposite side to the Pnyx. as in other places. raised from the surrounding people. and of a noble nature. Outside the Acropolis and under the sides of the hill there dwelt artisans. Now the city in those days was arranged on this wise. except in one or two places. Many great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years. and receiving it into herself and treasuring it up in the close clay soil. having an abundant supply in all places. and this proves the truth of what I am saying. and included the Pnyx on one side. there has never been any considerable accumulation of the soil coming down from the mountains. its mountains were high hills covered with soil. which was the third before the great destruction of Deucalion. But in the primitive state of the country.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  latter dwelt by themselves. Moreover. but in those days the country was fair as now and yielded far more abundant produce. the warrior class 176    . which were of a size sufficient to cover the largest houses. and had a soil the best in the world. but. but the earth has fallen away all round and sunk out of sight. For the fact is that a single night of excessive rain washed away the earth and laid bare the rock. and the mere skeleton of the land being left. and such of the husbandmen as were tilling the ground near. and abundance of water. neither had any of them anything of their own. as in the case of small islands. and had all things suitable for nurture and education. In the first place the Acropolis was not as now. And they practised all the pursuits which we yesterday described as those of our imaginary guardians. How shall I establish my words? and what part of it can be truly called a remnant of the land that then was? The whole country is only a long promontory extending far into the sea away from the rest of the continent. providing everywhere abundant fountains and rivers. the boundary line came down in the direction of the sea. of Phelleus were full of rich earth. Such was the natural state of the country. while the surrounding basin of the sea is everywhere deep in the neighbourhood of the shore. But in primitive times the hill of the Acropolis extended to the Eridanus and Ilissus. having the district of Oropus on the right. that the boundaries were in those days fixed by the Isthmus. not as now losing the water which flows off the bare earth into the sea. at the same time there were earthquakes. but they regarded all that they had as common property. that in comparison of what then was. The land was the best in the world. which proves what I am saying. who made husbandry their business. The consequence is. as they are termed by us. the land reaped the benefit of the annual rainfall. it let off into the hollows the streams which it absorbed from the heights. and was all well covered with soil. for although some of the mountains now only afford sustenance to bees. and during all this time and through so many changes. Of this last the traces still remain. all the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away. not so very long ago there were still to be seen roofs of timber cut from trees growing there. as we may well believe. and was therefore able in those days to support a vast army. Even the remnant of Attica which now exists may compare with any region in the world for the variety and excellence of its fruits and the suitableness of its pastures to every sort of animal. as they may be called. and then occurred the extraordinary inundation. cultivated by man and bearing abundance of food for cattle. and with the river Asopus as the limit on the left. there are remaining only the bones of the wasted body.

For friends should not keep their stories to themselves. and of all men who lived in those days they were the most illustrious. which was choked by the earthquake. began as follows:— I have before remarked in speaking of the allotments of the gods. And Poseidon. and was carefully studied by me when I was a child. Poseidon fell in love with her and had intercourse with her. but in the centre of the whole island. each having its circumference equidistant every way from the centre. you must not be surprised. and he had a wife named Leucippe. and then the southern side of the hill was made use of by them for the same purpose. In this mountain there dwelt one of the earth-born primeval men of that country. This is how they dwelt. for they made no use of these for any purpose. But in summer-time they left their gardens and gymnasia and dining halls. I will tell you the reason of this: Solon. enquired into the meaning of the names. which was of great length. receiving for his lot the island of Atlantis. and after this manner they righteously administered their own land and the rest of Hellas. there was a mountain not very high on any side. The maiden had already reached womanhood. for ships and voyages were not as yet. bringing up two springs of water from 177    . but there was no adorning of them with gold and silver. which he turned as with a lathe. and had all the buildings which they needed for their common life. The tale. making alternate zones of sea and land larger and smaller. before proceeding further in the narrative. which is still in my possession. there were two of land and three of water. encircling one another. And next. so that no man could get to the island. who was intending to use the tale for his poem. and found that the early Egyptians in writing them down had translated them into their own language. and built modest houses in which they and their children's children grew old. I will impart to you the character and origin of their adversaries. and he recovered the meaning of the several names and when copying them out again translated them into our language. but in those days the fountain gave an abundant supply of water for all and of suitable temperature in summer and in winter. being so many as were required for warlike purposes. Therefore if you hear names such as are used in this country. and they handed them down to others who were like themselves. and made for themselves temples and instituted sacrifices. On the north side they had dwellings in common and had erected halls for dining in winter. and settled them in a part of the island. and has left only the few small streams which still exist in the vicinity.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  dwelt by themselves around the temples of Athene and Hephaestus at the summit. who were their willing followers. they took a middle course between meanness and ostentation. and also in the centre of the island at a distance of about fifty stadia. Dropides. for I have told how they came to be introduced. He himself. had the original writing. besides temples. then as now—that is to say. which I will describe. but have them in common. which moreover they had enclosed with a single fence like the garden of a single house. Near the plain again. Looking towards the sea. when her father and mother died. found no difficulty in making special arrangements for the centre island. I ought to warn you. begat children by a mortal woman. whose name was Evenor. My great-grandfather. that they distributed the whole earth into portions differing in extent. Where the Acropolis now is there was a fountain. that you must not be surprised if you should perhaps hear Hellenic names given to foreigners. and breaking the ground. being the guardians of their own citizens and the leaders of the Hellenes. if I have not forgotten what I heard when I was a child. being a god. and they had an only daughter who was called Cleito. Such were the ancient Athenians. they were renowned all over Europe and Asia for the beauty of their persons and for the many virtues of their souls. there was a plain which is said to have been the fairest of all plains and very fertile. always the same. inclosed the hill in which she dwelt all round. about twenty thousand. And they took care to preserve the same number of men and women through all time. Yet.

and making every variety of food to spring up abundantly from the soil. and the pleasant kinds of dessert. every king surpassing the one who went before him to the utmost of his power. and that which is now only a name and was then something more than a name. And they arranged the whole country in the following manner:— First of all they bridged over the zones of sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis. which was the largest and best. and they were furnished with everything which they needed. which they continued to ornament in successive generations. both for those which live in lakes and marshes and rivers. There was an abundance of wood for carpenter's work. solid as well as fusile. when we are tired of eating—all these that sacred island which then beheld the light of the sun. and they had such an amount of wealth as was never before possessed by kings and potentates. they dug out of the earth whatever was to be found there. one of warm water and the other of cold.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  beneath the earth. orichalcum. and also for those which live in mountains and on plains. and also. Gadeirus. he named Atlas. To his twin brother. also the fruit which admits of cultivation. there were a great number of elephants in the island. or herbage. And at the very beginning they built the palace in the habitation of the god and of their ancestors. was dug out of the earth in many parts of the island. and dividing the island of Atlantis into ten portions. and is not likely ever to be again. the eldest son handing it on to his eldest for many generations. he gave to the first-born of the eldest pair his mother's dwelling and the surrounding allotment. which is given us for nourishment and any other which we use for food—we call them all by the common name of pulse. brought forth fair and wondrous and in infinite abundance. the others he made princes. and a large territory. and the fruits having a hard rind. and the other Evaemon. so there was for the animal which is the largest and most voracious of all. being more precious in those days than anything except gold. or essences which distil from fruit and flower. Now Atlas had a numerous and honourable family. he gave the name which in the Hellenic language is Eumelus. Of the second pair of twins he called one Ampheres. and obtained as his lot the extremity of the island towards the pillars of Heracles. which they carried 178    . and good store of chestnuts and the like. Also whatever fragrant things there now are in the earth. And beginning from the sea they bored a canal of three hundred feet in width and one hundred feet in depth and fifty stadia in length. and gave them rule over many men. whether roots. they held sway in our direction over the country within the pillars as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia. facing the country which is now called the region of Gades in that part of the world. for as there was provision for all other sorts of animals. and sufficient maintenance for tame and wild animals. and are fruits which spoil with keeping. To the elder of the third pair of twins he gave the name Mneseus. both in the city and country. and they retained the kingdom. and the younger Mestor. making a road to and from the royal palace. both the dry sort. and the island itself provided most of what was required by them for the uses of life. Of the fourth pair of twins he called the elder Elasippus. In the first place. who was the first king. who was born after him. until they made the building a marvel to behold for size and for beauty. affording drinks and meats and ointments. with which we console ourselves after dinner. the eldest. And of the fifth pair he gave to the elder the name of Azaes. and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantic. or woods. He also begat and brought up five pairs of twin male children. and to the younger that of Diaprepes. grew and thrived in that land. and made him king over the rest. in the language of the country which is named after him. which furnish pleasure and amusement. For because of the greatness of their empire many things were brought to them from foreign countries. as has been already said. All these and their descendants for many generations were the inhabitants and rulers of divers islands in the open sea. and Autochthon to the one who followed him. Moreover. With such blessings the earth freely furnished them. And he named them all. meanwhile they went on constructing their temples and palaces and harbours and docks.

and they were wonderfully adapted for use by reason of the pleasantness and excellence of their waters. others roofed over. owing to the excellence of the soil. this was the spot where the family of the ten princes first saw the light. and was surrounded by an enclosure of gold. and all the other parts. they covered with silver. also they made cisterns. answered to the greatness of the kingdom and the glory of the temple. Here was Poseidon's own temple which was a stadium in length. the other of land.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  through to the outermost zone. There was an altar too. which was the sixth part of a stadium in width. having roofs formed out of the native rock. Some of their buildings were simple. In the next place. which remained inaccessible. and the baths of private persons. for the banks were raised considerably above the water. the walls and pillars and floor. The palaces in the interior of the citadel were constructed on this wise:—In the centre was a holy temple dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon. In the temple they placed statues of gold: there was the god himself standing in a chariot—the charioteer of six winged horses—and of such a size that he touched the roof of the building with his head. around him there were a hundred Nereids riding on dolphins. on the outer as well as the inner side. and leaving an opening sufficient to enable the largest vessels to find ingress. and there were separate baths for women. There were also in the interior of the temple other images which had been dedicated by private persons. flashed with the red light of orichalcum. And around the temple on the outside were placed statues of gold of all the descendants of the ten kings and of their wives. with the exception of the pinnacles. and to each of them they gave as much adornment as was suitable. and the pinnacles with gold. They constructed buildings about them and planted suitable trees. in gracious plenty flowing. In the interior of the temple the roof was of ivory. and the zone of land which came next of equal breadth. they covered with a coating of brass. and the third. All this including the zones and the bridge. Of the water which ran off they carried some to the grove of Poseidon. making a passage from the sea up to this. were two stadia. they at the same time hollowed out double docks. curiously wrought everywhere with gold and silver and orichalcum. having a strange barbaric appearance. which encompassed the citadel. and half a stadium in width. and to be a natural source of delight. and as they quarried. One kind was white. and of a proportionate height. The stone which was used in the work they quarried from underneath the centre island. but the next two zones. where were growing all manner of trees of wonderful height and beauty. there were the kings' baths. but in others they put together different stones. leaving room for a single trireme to pass out of one zone into another. and from underneath the zones. which were kept apart. and a third red. and the palaces. they coated with orichalcum. to be used in winter as warm baths. and for horses and cattle. and they covered over the channels so as to leave a way underneath for the ships. in like manner. one of cold and another of hot water. another black. Moreover. Now the largest of the zones into which a passage was cut from the sea was three stadia in breadth. while the 179    . and the one which surrounded the central island was a stadium only in width. and there were many other great offerings of kings and of private persons. All the outside of the temple. for such was thought to be the number of them by the men of those days. which became a harbour. to be an offering to each of the ten. and thither the people annually brought the fruits of the earth in their season from all the ten portions. and the circuit of the next wall they coated with tin. some open to the heaven. coming both from the city itself and from the foreign cities over which they held sway. The island in which the palace was situated had a diameter of five stadia. the one of water. which went round the outermost zone. placing towers and gates on the bridges where the sea passed in. The entire circuit of the wall. they surrounded by a stone wall on every side. they divided at the bridges the zones of land which parted the zones of sea. which in size and workmanship corresponded to this magnificence. they had fountains. varying the colour to please the eye.

each of the lots in the plain had to find a leader for the men who were fit for military service. itself surrounded by mountains which descended towards the sea. and was ten thousand stadia in length. and where falling out of the straight line followed the circular ditch. and others for horses in both of the two islands formed by the zones. and rivers. and to the city. and in length allowed to extend all round the island. The whole country was said by him to be very lofty and precipitous on the side of the sea. likewise. Nevertheless I must say what I was told. from their numbers. and by them they brought down the wood from the mountains to the city. and the total number of all 180    . and in the centre of the larger of the two there was set apart a race-course of a stadium in width. and now I must endeavour to represent to you the nature and arrangement of the rest of the land. and of an oblong shape. extending in one direction three thousand stadia. having in them also many wealthy villages of country folk. wild or tame. straight canals of a hundred feet in width were cut from it through the plain. It was excavated to the depth of a hundred feet. it was carried round the whole of the plain. as it was fashioned by nature and by the labours of many generations of kings through long ages. for horses to race in. The entire area was densely crowded with habitations. and much wood of various sorts. and there were many temples built and dedicated to many gods. This part of the island looked towards the south. Enough of the plan of the royal palace. and enclosed the whole. but across the centre inland it was two thousand stadia. As to the population. kept up a multitudinous sound of human voices. and lakes. and winding round the plain and meeting at the city. it was smooth and even. in addition to so many others. and conveyed the fruits of the earth in ships. while the most trusted of all had houses given them within the citadel. I have described the city and the environs of the ancient palace nearly in the words of Solon. I will now describe the plain. and din and clatter of all sorts night and day. The docks were full of triremes and naval stores. and the canal and the largest of the harbours were full of vessels and merchants coming from all parts. far beyond any which still exist. but the country immediately about and surrounding the city was a level plain. also gardens and places of exercise. and width.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  remainder was conveyed by aqueducts along the bridges to the outer circles. you came to a wall which began at the sea and went all round: this was everywhere distant fifty stadia from the largest zone or harbour. cutting transverse passages from one canal into another. who. near the persons of the kings. It was for the most part rectangular and oblong. could never have been artificial. Also there were guard-houses at intervals for the guards. and all things were quite ready for use. The surrounding mountains were celebrated for their number and size and beauty. and meadows supplying food enough for every animal. which was nearer the Acropolis. the more trusted of whom were appointed to keep watch in the lesser zone. and again let off into the ditch leading to the sea: these canals were at intervals of a hundred stadia. Twice in the year they gathered the fruits of the earth—in winter having the benefit of the rains of heaven. The depth. Leaving the palace and passing out across the three harbours. It received the streams which came down from the mountains. some for men. Further inland. and in summer the water which the land supplied by introducing streams from the canals. and the size of a lot was a square of ten stadia each way. and length of this ditch were incredible. the ends meeting at the mouth of the channel which led to the sea. abundant for each and every kind of work. and gave the impression that a work of such extent. and its breadth was a stadium everywhere. was there let off into the sea. and was sheltered from the north.

As to offices and honours. and a pair of chariot-horses without a seat. at the temple of Poseidon. When therefore. the following was the arrangement from the first. two slingers. three stone-shooters and three javelin-men. Now on the pillar. hunted the bulls. giving the supremacy to 181    . being left alone in the temple. they had burnt its limbs. after having purified the column all round. but with staves and nooses. so as to make up a total of ten thousand chariots. they swore that they would judge according to the laws on the pillar. thus giving equal honour to the odd and to the even number. nor obey any ruler who commanded them. but the most important was the following: They were not to take up arms against one another. These were inscribed by the first kings on a pillar of orichalcum. whither the kings were gathered together every fifth and every sixth year alternately. and after they had supped and satisfied their needs. after they had offered prayers to the god that they might capture the victim which was acceptable to him. and enquired if any one had transgressed in anything. also two horses and riders for them. all of them put on most beautiful azure robes. and when they had given judgment. Now the order of precedence among them and their mutual relations were regulated by the commands of Poseidon which the law had handed down. and it would be wearisome to recount their several differences. they filled a bowl of wine and cast in a clot of blood for each of them. And of the inhabitants of the mountains and of the rest of the country there was also a vast multitude. which was distributed among the lots and had leaders assigned to them according to their districts and villages. and the fire about the sacrifice was cool. there was inscribed an oath invoking mighty curses on the disobedient. at night. Each of the ten kings in his own division and in his own city had the absolute control of the citizens. accompanied by a horseman who could fight on foot carrying a small shield. and the ten kings. and. which was situated in the middle of the island. who were light-armed. The leader was required to furnish for the war the sixth portion of a war-chariot. to act otherwise than according to the laws of their father Poseidon. at daybreak they wrote down their sentences on a golden tablet. This was the prayer which each of them offered up for himself and for his descendants. and dedicated it together with their robes to be a memorial. they were to deliberate in common about war and other matters. in most cases. and. when darkness came on. without weapons. like their ancestors. besides the laws. and they were all to come to the rescue if any one in any of their cities attempted to overthrow the royal house. at the same time drinking and dedicating the cup out of which he drank in the temple of the god. and passed judgment. if they could help. and pouring a libation on the fire. and four sailors to make up the complement of twelve hundred ships. they received and gave judgment. and that for the future they would not. over the embers of the sacrifices by which they had sworn. Then they drew from the bowl in golden cups. and would neither command others. and before they passed judgment they gave their pledges to one another on this wise:—There were bulls who had the range of the temple of Poseidon. punishing and slaying whomsoever he would. of the laws. sitting on the ground. and having a charioteer who stood behind the man-at-arms to guide the two horses. and would punish him who in any point had already transgressed them. Such was the military order of the royal city—the order of the other nine governments varied. he was bound to furnish two heavy-armed soldiers. And when they were gathered together they consulted about their common interests. and the bull which they caught they led up to the pillar and cut its throat over the top of it so that the blood fell upon the sacred inscription. There were many special laws affecting the several kings inscribed about the temples.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  the lots was sixty thousand. after slaying the bull in the accustomed manner. if any of them had an accusation to bring against any one. two archers. offend against the writing on the pillar. and extinguishing all the fire about the temple. the rest of the victim they put in the fire. also.

And the king was not to have the power of life and death over any of his kinsmen unless he had the assent of the majority of the ten. they were obedient to the laws. as long as the divine nature lasted in them. perceiving that an honourable race was in a woeful plight. and saw clearly that all these goods are increased by virtue and friendship with one another. caring little for their present state of life. collected all the gods into their most holy habitation. and wanting to inflict punishment on them. They despised everything but virtue. but when the divine portion began to fade away. they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power. neither were they intoxicated by luxury. as tradition tells: For many generations. whose seed they were. the god of gods. and in their intercourse with one another. and the human nature got the upper hand. beholds all created things. but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness. but they were sober. who rules according to law. behaved unseemly. Zeus. which. Such was the vast power which the god settled in the lost island of Atlantis. they then. that they might be chastened and improve. they are lost and friendship with them. which seemed only a burden to them.The Dialogues of Plato: Critias  the descendants of Atlas. and this he afterwards directed against our land for the following reasons. for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts. whereas by too great regard and respect for them. By such reflections and by the continuance in them of a divine nature. nor did wealth deprive them of their self-control. And when he had called them together. being placed in the centre of the world. and well-affectioned towards the god. for they possessed true and in every way great spirits. being unable to bear their fortune. and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased. the qualities which we have described grew and increased among them. and thinking lightly of the possession of gold and other property. he spake as follows—[*] 182    . and is able to see into such things. uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life. and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture.

Please do not remove it. **Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts** **eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook. with additional editing. we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This HTML edition was first posted on March 22. Do not change or edit the header without written permission. and how to get involved.” and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Since 1971** *****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!***** Title: Crito Author: Plato Release Date: March. Please read the “legal small print. 2003] Edition: 10 Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK OF CRITO. by Plato Copyright laws are changing all over the world. This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  The Project Gutenberg EBook of Crito. BY PLATO *** This eBook was converted to HTML. You can also find out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg. 183    . by Jose Menendez from the text edition produced by Sue Asscher. 1999 [Etext #1657] [Yes.

in which they agreed that no man should either do 184    . All considerations of loss of reputation or injury to his children should be dismissed: the only question is whether he would be right in attempting to escape. is alone to be valued. He should think of his duty to his children. but simply as the good citizen. but a good life. he himself has been warned in a dream that on the third day he must depart. all his life long he has followed the dictates of reason only and the opinion of the one wise or skilled man. Socrates is afraid that Crito is but pressing upon him the opinions of the many. This can be easily accomplished by his friends. and not play into the hands of his enemies. in other words. whereas.’ that makes no difference. Time is precious. who will incur no danger in making the attempt to save him. who is a disinterested person not having the fear of death before his eyes. Crito. not as the philosopher. but will be disgraced for ever if they allow him to perish. There was a time when Crito himself had allowed the propriety of this. and Crito has come early in order to gain his consent to a plan of escape.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  CRITO BY PLATO TRANSLATED BY BENJAMIN JOWETT INTRODUCTION The Crito seems intended to exhibit the character of Socrates in one light only. a just and honourable life. And although someone will say ‘the many can kill us. who visits him before the dawn has broken. who having been unjustly condemned is willing to give up his life in obedience to the laws of the state . the fatal ship has been seen off Sunium. and he will have no difficulty in finding friends in Thessaly and other places. fulfilling a divine mission and trusting in the will of heaven. Money is already provided by Crito as well as by Simmias and others. shall answer this for him. Before he was condemned they had often held discussions. . The days of Socrates are drawing to a close. . as he is informed by his aged friend and contemporary Crito.

Socrates proceeds:—Suppose the Laws of Athens to come and remonstrate with him: they will ask.’ but not for the ‘sophistical’ reasons which Plato has put into his mouth. And how will his children be the gainers if he takes them into Thessaly. That Socrates was not a good citizen was a charge made against him during his lifetime. but he has lived there for seventy years more constantly than any other citizen. Such is the mystic voice which is always murmuring in his ears. the aged friend. The fact that he had been neutral in the death-struggle of Athens was not likely to conciliate popular good-will. The remarkable sentiment 185    . we seem to recognize the hand of the artist. ‘Yes.’ Thus he has clearly shown that he acknowledged the agreement. Then is his escape consistent with the maintenance of them? To this Crito is unable or unwilling to reply.’ but the ‘one wise man. which he cannot now break without dishonour to himself and danger to his friends. Even in the course of the trial he might have proposed exile as the penalty. who had been his pupils. And there would be no difficulty in arguing that Socrates should have lived and preferred to a glorious death the good which he might still be able to perform.’ is still the paradox of Socrates in his last hours. ‘Why does he seek to overturn them?’ and if he replies. and their brethren the Laws of the world below will receive him as an enemy. and the unseemly narrative of his escape will be regarded by the inhabitants as an amusing tale. or return evil for evil.’ It may be observed however that Plato never intended to answer the question of casuistry. but to posterity and the world at large. Possibly in a land of misrule like Thessaly he may be welcomed at first. and deprives them of Athenian citizenship? Or if he leaves them behind. Whether anyone who has been subjected by the laws of his country to an unjust judgment is right in attempting to escape. Not ‘the world. Plato could easily have invented far more than that. Critias. and Charmides. as the fittest person to make the proposal to Socrates. But if he offends them he will have to learn another sort of lesson. Plato. they will be angry with him while he lives. Are these principles to be altered because the circumstances of Socrates are altered? Crito admits that they remain the same. they exhort him to think of justice first. and are they not his parents? He might have left Athens and gone where he pleased. which has been often repeated in later ages. is a thesis about which casuists might disagree. And whither will he direct his footsteps? In any well-ordered state the Laws will consider him as an enemy. or betray the right.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  evil. 1 and in the selection of Crito. and to show his master maintaining in death the opinions which he had professed in his life. Shelley 2 is of opinion that Socrates ‘did well to die. He may now depart in peace and innocence. and returns evil for evil. a sufferer and not a doer of evil. ‘A rhetorician would have had much to say upon that point. although her conclusions may be fatal to him. writing probably in the next generation. But if he breaks agreements. but was that the agreement? Has he any objection to make to them which would justify him in overturning them? Was he not brought into the world and educated by their help. were still recent in the memory of the now restored democracy. Will he continue to give lectures in virtue? That would hardly be decent. ‘They have injured him. and of life and children afterwards. He must be guided by reason. not to the Athenians of his day. undertakes the defence of his friend and master in this particular. but then he declared that he preferred death to exile. but only to exhibit the ideal of patient virtue which refuses to do the least evil in order to avoid the greatest. Whether such an incident ever really occurred as the visit of Crito and the proposal of escape is uncertain. The crimes of Alcibiades. does he expect that they will be better taken care of by his friends because he is in Thessaly? Will not true friends care for them equally whether he is alive or dead? Finally.’ will not the Laws answer.

certainly. The personification of the Laws. SOCRATES: Why have you come at this hour. in his own words. instead of at once awakening me? CRITO: I should not have liked myself. I have always thought you to be of a happy disposition. CRITO PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Socrates. in which granting the ‘common principle.’ This little dialogue is a perfect piece of dialectic. moreover. because I often come. CRITO: He knows me. and for that reason I did not awake you. is one of the noblest and boldest figures of speech which occur in Plato. SOCRATES: Then why did you sit and say nothing. to be in such great trouble and unrest as you are— indeed I should not: I have been watching with amazement your peaceful slumbers. SOCRATES: And are you only just arrived? CRITO: No. which he means. tranquil manner in which you bear this calamity. Crito? it must be quite early? CRITO: Yes. It is anticipated at the beginning by the dream of Socrates and the parody of Homer. I came some time ago. 186    . ‘they cannot make a man wise or foolish. Socrates. Crito. of moral evil. I have done him a kindness. Socrates. because I wished to minimize the pain.’ there is no escaping from the conclusion. and of their brethren the Laws in the world below. SOCRATES: What is the exact time? CRITO: The dawn is breaking.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  that the wicked can do neither good nor evil is true. but never did I see anything like the easy. if taken in the sense. SOCRATES: I wonder that the keeper of the prison would let you in. SCENE: The Prison of Socrates.

CRITO: And what was the nature of the vision? SOCRATES: There appeared to me the likeness of a woman. For if you die I shall not only lose a friend who can never be replaced. fair and comely. CRITO: Why do you think so? SOCRATES: I will tell you. as persons who have come from Sunium tell me that they have left her there. will be the last day of your life. But. SOCRATES: That is true.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  SOCRATES: Why. Socrates! SOCRATES: There can be no doubt about the meaning. the meaning is only too clear. as I believe. if such is the will of God.’ 3 CRITO: What a singular dream. I think. to yourself. CRITO: I come to bring you a message which is sad and painful. but that I did not care. but there is another evil: people who do not know you and me will believe that I might have saved you if I had been willing to give money. I am willing. Crito. who called to me and said: O Socrates. and saddest of all to me. on the arrival of which I am to die? CRITO: No. but to all of us who are your friends. CRITO: Yes. the ship has not actually arrived. I am to die on the day after the arrival of the ship? CRITO: Yes. oh! my beloved Socrates. ‘The third day hence to fertile Phthia shalt thou go. can there be a worse 187    . SOCRATES: Very well. Socrates. clothed in bright raiment. that is what the authorities say. SOCRATES: What? Has the ship come from Delos. CRITO: And yet other old men find themselves in similar misfortunes. but she will probably be here to-day. Crito. this I infer from a vision which I had last night. But you have not told me why you come at this early hour. and age does not prevent them from repining. Crito. or rather only just now. Now. SOCRATES: But I do not think that the ship will be here until to-morrow. but my belief is that there will be a delay of a day. not. and therefore to-morrow. let me entreat you once more to take my advice and escape. when you fortunately allowed me to sleep. when a man has reached my age he ought not to be repining at the approach of death.

I will not dispute with you. but please to tell me. will think of these things truly as they occurred. instead of which you go away and leave them. if you like to go to them. not the better and manlier. should we care about the opinion of the many? Good men. that is one fear which you mention. And indeed. and lose either the whole or a great part of our property. and that you refused. and if you have a scruple about spending all mine. and not in Athens only. who might have saved you. how sad and discreditable are the consequences. for what is now happening shows that they can do the greatest evil to anyone who has lost their good opinion. and whatever they do is the result of chance. SOCRATES: Yes. be at ease. we ought surely to run this. which are certainly ample. they are far from being exorbitant in their demands—a little money will satisfy them. like yourself. for they cannot make a man either wise or foolish. whether you are not acting out of regard to me and your other friends: are you not afraid that if you escape from prison we may get into trouble with the informers for having stolen you away. CRITO: But you see. be persuaded. has brought a large sum of money for this very purpose. are at your service. and that the many could do the greatest evil. there will be small thanks to you. who will value and protect you. or that even a worse evil may happen to us? Now. therefore. in acting thus you are playing into the hands of your enemies. for you might bring them up and educate them. there are friends of mine in Thessaly. and do not say. CRITO: Well. or even a greater risk. and this last act. and you might have saved yourself. for then they would also be able to do the greatest good—and what a fine thing this would be! But in reality they can do neither. and they are the only persons who are worth considering. if we had been good for anything. as you did in the court 4 that you will have a difficulty in knowing what to do with yourself anywhere else.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  disgrace than this—that I should be thought to value money more than the life of a friend? For the many will not be persuaded that I wanted you to escape. SOCRATES: I only wish it were so. Socrates. for in order to save you. my dear Crito. and Cebes and many others are prepared to spend their money in helping you to escape. CRITO: Fear not—there are persons who are willing to get you out of prison at no great cost. No man should bring children into the world who is unwilling to persevere to the end in their nurture and education. that the opinion of the many must be regarded. but by no means the only one. and they will have to take their chance. both to us 188    . Nor can I think that you are at all justified. Simmias the Theban. But you appear to be choosing the easier part. Crito. and do as I say. Crito. My means. in betraying your own life when you might be saved. will seem to have occurred through our negligence and cowardice. if you fear on our account. I am ashamed not only of you. or might have been managed differently. and no Thessalian will give you any trouble. and as for the informers. for there was no difficulty at all. here are strangers who will give you the use of theirs. then. And further I should say that you are deserting your own children. Socrates. but of us who are your friends. I say. or crowning folly. and one of them. See now. do not hesitate on our account. Socrates. Socrates. when I reflect that the whole business will be attributed entirely to our want of courage. SOCRATES: But why. The trial need never have come on. which would have been more becoming in one who professes to care for virtue in all his actions. For men will love you in other places to which you may go. and if they do not meet with the usual fate of orphans. who are hurrying on your destruction.

as I was saying. your zeal is invaluable. I ask you whether I was right in maintaining this? CRITO: Certainly. and do as I say. Now you. the greater the zeal the greater the danger. or rather have your mind already made up. whether I am right in saying that some opinions. Make up your mind then. and the opinions of other men. and there is only one thing to be done. will be no longer practicable or possible. the argument appears to be in any way different or not. was to the effect. and therefore we ought to consider whether I shall or shall not do as you say. and that other opinions. are not going to die to-morrow—at least. For I am and always have been one of those natures who must be guided by reason. as I believe. 5 What will be the fairest way of considering the question? Shall I return to your old argument about the opinions of men?—we were saying that some of them are to be regarded. frightening us like children with hobgoblin terrors. there is no human probability of this—and therefore you are disinterested and not liable to be deceived by the circumstances in which you are placed. if we delay at all. not even if the power of the multitude could inflict many more imprisonments. Socrates. and of other men not to be regarded. Now were we right in maintaining this before I was condemned? And has the argument which was once good now proved to be talk for the sake of talking—mere childish nonsense? That is what I want to consider with your help. and the opinions of the unwise are evil? CRITO: Certainly. are to be valued. and. SOCRATES: And what was said about another matter? Is the pupil who devotes himself to the practice of gymnastics supposed to attend to the praise and blame and opinion of every man. is maintained by many persons of authority. SOCRATES: And he ought to fear the censure and welcome the praise of that one only. that the opinions of some men are to be regarded. no. and now that this chance has befallen me. or of one man only—his physician or trainer. Crito. and the opinions of some men only. I cannot repudiate my own words: the principles which I have hitherto honoured and revered I still honour. be persuaded by me. SOCRATES: And the opinions of the wise are good. I beseech you therefore. but if wrong. which. deaths. whatever the reason may be which upon reflection appears to me to be the best. SOCRATES: The good are to be regarded. and unless we can at once find other and better principles. Crito:— whether. if a right one. I am certain not to agree with you. which must be done this very night. SOCRATES: Dear Crito. confiscations. under my present circumstances. and not of the many? CRITO: Clearly so. whoever he may be? CRITO: Of one man only. and not the bad? CRITO: Yes. are not to be valued. That argument. and others not.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  and you. for the time of deliberation is over. and is to be allowed by me or disallowed. Tell me then. 189    .

acting under the advice of those who have no understanding. ought we to follow the opinion of the many and to fear them. whither tending and what affecting. SOCRATES: Take a parallel instance:—if. and is not this true. that is what is destroyed by the evil. in the disobedient person? CRITO: Clearly. affecting the body. will he not suffer evil? CRITO: Certainly he will. but what he. of other things which we need not separately enumerate? In questions of just and unjust. SOCRATES: And will life be worth having. the one man who has understanding of just and unjust. and regards the opinion of the many who have no understanding. Socrates. Crito. we destroy that which is improved by health and is deteriorated by disease. SOCRATES: More honourable than the body? CRITO: Far more. will say. SOCRATES: Could we live. fair and foul. SOCRATES: And if he disobeys and disregards the opinion and approval of the one. or the opinion of the one man who has understanding? ought we not to fear and reverence him more than all the rest of the world: and if we desert him shall we not destroy and injure that principle in us which may be assumed to be improved by justice and deteriorated by injustice—there is such a principle? CRITO: Certainly there is. my friend. which are the subjects of our present consultation. rather than according to the opinion of all other men put together? CRITO: True. good and evil. SOCRATES: Very good. SOCRATES: And what will the evil be. SOCRATES: Then. if that higher part of man be destroyed.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  SOCRATES: And he ought to act and train. whatever it may be in man. we must not regard what the many say of us. and eat and drink in the way which seems good to his single master who has understanding. would life be worth having? And that which has been destroyed is—the body? CRITO: Yes. having an evil and corrupted body? CRITO: Certainly not. And therefore you 190    . which is improved by justice and depraved by injustice? Do we suppose that principle. to be inferior to the body? CRITO: Certainly not. which has to do with justice and injustice. and what the truth will say.

if they were able. who would be as ready to restore people to life.’ CRITO: Yes. and as has been already acknowledged by us? Are all our former admissions which were made within a few days to be thrown away? And have we. the only question which remains to be considered is whether we shall do rightly either in escaping or in suffering others to aid in our escape and paying them in money and thanks. 191    . my dear friend. but still I find with surprise that the old argument is unshaken as ever. ‘but the many can kill us. CRITO: I will. Socrates. but if not. I fear. shall we insist on the truth of what was then said. how then shall we proceed? SOCRATES: Let us consider the matter together. honourable and dishonourable. that will clearly be the answer. it does. from repeating to me that I ought to escape against the wishes of the Athenians: for I highly value your attempts to persuade me to do so.—‘Well. and do you either refute me if you can. then death or any other calamity which may ensue on my remaining here must not be allowed to enter into the calculation.’ someone will say. only the doctrines of the multitude. are. and I will be convinced. then I will make the attempt.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  begin in error when you advise that we should regard the opinion of the many about just and unjust. but I may not be persuaded against my own better judgment. at our age. as I was just now saying. and try how you can best answer me. but a good life. Socrates. in spite of the opinion of the many. been earnestly discoursing with one another all our life long only to discover that we are no better than children? Or. that also remains unshaken. or is doing wrong always evil and dishonourable. or else cease. But now. SOCRATES: From these premises I proceed to argue the question whether I ought or ought not to try and escape without the consent of the Athenians: and if I am clearly right in escaping. that injustice is always an evil and dishonour to him who acts unjustly? Shall we say so or not? CRITO: Yes. SOCRATES: And a good life is equivalent to a just and honourable one—that holds also? CRITO: Yes. And I should like to know whether I may say the same of another proposition—that not life. SOCRATES: And it is true. CRITO: I think that you are right. The other considerations which you mention. and in spite of consequences whether better or worse. and if the latter. good and evil. I will abstain. or whether in reality we shall not do rightly. is to be chiefly valued? CRITO: Yes. of money and loss of character and the duty of educating one’s children. SOCRATES: Are we to say that we are never intentionally to do wrong. or that in one way we ought and in another way we ought not to do wrong. as they are to put them to death— and with as little reason. And now please to consider my first position. since the argument has thus far prevailed.

for I do not know. however. let me hear what you have to say. may we do evil? CRITO: Surely not. Socrates. SOCRATES: Again.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  SOCRATES: Then we must do no wrong? CRITO: Certainly not. SOCRATES: Then I will go on to the next point. for I have not changed my mind. injure in return. as the many imagine. when injured. then. For this opinion has never been held. and can only despise one another when they see how widely they differ. which may be put in the form of a question:—Ought a man to do what he admits to be right. whether you really mean what you are saying. SOCRATES: Then we ought not to retaliate or render evil for evil to anyone. If. and those who are agreed and those who are not agreed upon this point have no common ground. but. Crito. 192    . And shall that be the premise of our argument? Or do you decline and dissent from this? For so I have ever thought. what is the application? In leaving the prison against the will of the Athenians. or ought he to betray the right? CRITO: He ought to do what he thinks right. and continue to think. CRITO: You may proceed. do I wrong any? or rather do I not wrong those whom I ought least to wrong? Do I not desert the principles which were acknowledged by us to be just—what do you say? CRITO: I cannot tell. for we must injure no one at all? 6 CRITO: Clearly not. Tell me. that neither injury nor retaliation nor warding off evil by evil is ever right. Crito. SOCRATES: For doing evil to another is the same as injuring him? CRITO: Very true. and never will be held. I will proceed to the next step. you remain of the same mind as formerly. whatever evil we may have suffered from him. SOCRATES: Nor. SOCRATES: But if this is true. whether you agree with and assent to my first principle. which is the morality of the many—is that just or not? CRITO: Not just. Socrates. But I would have you consider. by any considerable number of persons. if you are of another opinion. SOCRATES: And what of doing evil in return for evil.

Tell us. if you had one. the punishment is to be endured in silence. ‘or were you to abide by the sentence of the state?’ And if I were to express my astonishment at their words. but are set aside and trampled upon by individuals?’ What will be our answer.’ What answer shall we make to this. we further proclaim to any Athenian by the liberty which we allow him. Crito? Do the laws speak truly. and shall we reply. since you were brought into the world and nurtured and educated by us. ‘Yes. which have the charge of education. whether with imprisonment or stripes. and either to be persuaded. Would you have any right to strike or revile or do any other evil to your father or your master. I should reply. do you think that you have any right to destroy us in return. or he must change their view of what is just: and if he may do no violence to his father or mother. Socrates. And because we think right to destroy you. SOCRATES: Then the laws will say: ‘Consider. nor can you think that you have a right to do to us what we are doing to you. as your fathers were before you? And if this is true you are not on equal terms with us. SOCRATES: ‘And was that our agreement with you?’ the law would answer. He will argue that this law should not be set aside.—What complaint have you to make against us which justifies you in attempting to destroy us and the state? In the first place did we not bring you into existence? Your father married your mother by our aid and begat you. ‘what are you about? are you not going by an act of yours to overturn us—the laws. or do they not? CRITO: I think that they do. ‘Or against those of us who after birth regulate the nurture and education of children.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  SOCRATES: Then consider the matter in this way:—Imagine that I am about to play truant (you may call the proceeding by any name which you like).’ Suppose I say that? CRITO: Very good. O professor of true virtue. can you deny in the first place that you are our child and slave. he must do what his city and his country order him. Say whether you have any objection to urge against those of us who regulate marriage?’ None. in which the decisions of law have no power. that if he does not like us when he 193    . right in commanding your father to train you in music and gymnastic?’ Right. and your country as far as in you lies? Will you. ‘Well then. the law would probably add: ‘Answer. but the state has injured us and given an unjust sentence. or if not persuaded. in which you also were trained? Were not the laws. and gently and reverently entreated when angry. will have a good deal to say on behalf of the law which requires a sentence to be carried out. to be obeyed? And when we are punished by her. thither we follow as is right. as far as in you lies? Do you imagine that a state can subsist and not be overthrown. or received some other evil at his hands? You would not say this. because you have been struck or reviled by him. even more than a father. and given you and every other citizen a share in every good which we had to give. and especially a rhetorician. Socrates. if we are speaking truly that in your present attempt you are going to do us an injury. Crito. I should reply. Socrates. Socrates. much less may he do violence to his country. or in any other place. For. having brought you into the world. and nurtured and educated you. and more to be regarded in the eyes of the gods and of men of understanding? also to be soothed. pretend that you are justified in this? Has a philosopher like you failed to discover that our country is more to be valued and higher and holier far than mother or father or any ancestor.’ they say. but whether in battle or in a court of law. and the laws and the government come and interrogate me: ‘Tell us. to these and the like words? Anyone. and if she lead us to wounds or death in battle. instead of opening your eyes—you are in the habit of asking and answering questions. neither may anyone yield or retreat or leave his rank. and the whole state.

You had your choice. you. and might have gone either to Lacedaemon or Crete.’ they will say. But he who has experience of the manner in which we order justice and administer the state. you. Anyone who does not like us and the city. ‘There is clear proof. Nor had you any curiosity to know other states or their laws: your affections did not go beyond us and our state. Moreover. or to some other Hellenic or foreign state. Whereas you. Socrates. why I rather than anybody else? they will justly retort upon me that I above all other men have acknowledged the agreement. that you never stirred out of her. thirdly. and who wants to emigrate to a colony or to any other city. the halt. except once when you went to the Isthmus. first. because he has made an agreement with us that he will duly obey our commands. And now you have forgotten these fine sentiments. seemed to be so fond of the state.’ Suppose now I ask. ‘Socrates. Not so. Socrates. 8 and that you were not unwilling to die. not in any haste or under any compulsion or deception. are breaking the covenants and agreements which you made with us at your leisure. the blind. and pay no respect to us the laws. These are the sort of accusations to which. as we were saying. and he does neither. and made our acquaintance. both which states are often praised by you for their good government. may go where he likes. nor did you travel as other men do. or if our covenants appeared to you to be unfair.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  has become of age and has seen the ways of the city. Crito? Must we not assent? CRITO: We cannot help it. above all other Athenians. and we do not rudely impose them. Of all Athenians you have been the most constant resident in the city. which is a proof of your satisfaction. because in disobeying us he is disobeying his parents. if you had liked. you may be supposed to love. of whom you are the destroyer. during which time you were at liberty to leave the city. Socrates. the maimed were not more stationary in her than you were. secondly. But you pretended that you preferred death to exile. and he neither obeys them nor convinces us that our commands are unjust. but give him the alternative of obeying or convincing us. her laws (and who would care about a state which has no laws?). and not in word only? Is that true or not?’ How shall we answer. None of us laws will forbid him or interfere with him. if we were not to your mind. as you never leave. and you acquiesced in our government of you. 194    . have fixed the penalty at banishment. of us. the state which refuses to let you go now would have let you go then. do not make yourself ridiculous by escaping out of the city. retaining his property. running away and turning your back upon the compacts and agreements which you made as a citizen. 7 For you never went out of the city either to see the games. or. or to any other place unless when you were on military service. because we are the authors of his education. will be exposed if you accomplish your intentions. as we maintain. And now you run away and forsake your agreements. thrice wrong. And first of all answer this very question: Are we right in saying that you agreed to be governed according to us in deed. that we and the city were not displeasing to you.—that is what we offer. you might in the course of the trial. which. and are doing what only a miserable slave would do. he may go where he pleases and take his goods with him. and still remains. Socrates. but after you have had seventy years to think of them. we were your especial favourites. SOCRATES: Then will they not say: ‘You. above all other Athenians. and here in this city you begat your children. And he who disobeys us is. in other words. has entered into an implied contract that he will do as we command him. if you will take our advice.

returning evil for evil. but how?—as the flatterer of all men. if you keep them in a good temper. Socrates. Will you then flee from well-ordered cities and virtuous men? and is existence worth having on these terms? Or will you go to them without shame. where there is great disorder and licence. Yet speak. is humming in my ears. and the servant of all men.’ This. having gone abroad in order that you may get a dinner. is the voice which I seem to hear murmuring in my ears. for your friends will take care of them? Do you fancy that if you are an inhabitant of Thessaly they will take care of them. we shall be angry with you while you live. Now you depart in innocence. then. But if you go away from well-governed states to Crito’s friends in Thessaly. And I know that anything more which you may say will be vain. like the sound of the flute in the ears of the mystic. Socrates. or happier in another. and talk to them. but of men. yourself. if you fly to one of the neighbouring cities. or will lose their property. And where will be your fine sentiments about justice and virtue? Say that you wish to live for the sake of your children—you want to bring them up and educate them—will you take them into Thessaly and deprive them of Athenian citizenship? Is this the benefit which you will confer upon them? Or are you under the impression that they will be better cared for and educated here if you are still alive. Think not of life and children first. to us who have brought you up. and us. set off with ludicrous particulars of the manner in which you were wrapped in a goatskin or some other disguise. but if they are out of temper you will hear many degrading things. and their government will be against you. a victim. as. your country. breaking the covenants and agreements which you have made with us. that voice. will come to them as an enemy. and you will confirm in the minds of the judges the justice of their own condemnation of you. if you do as Crito bids. and all patriotic citizens will cast an evil eye upon you as a subverter of the laws. Thebes or Megara. a sufferer and not a doer of evil. your friends. and of justice afterwards. if you transgress and err in this sort of way. both of which are well governed. dear Crito. you will live. and if you are an inhabitant of the other world that they will not take care of them? Nay. and you yourself. CRITO: I have nothing to say. for they will know that you have done your best to destroy us. although absent from them. For he who is a corrupter of the laws is more than likely to be a corrupter of the young and foolish portion of mankind. 195    . the laws in the world below. to us and not to Crito. for example. what good will you do either to yourself or to your friends? That your friends will be driven into exile and deprived of citizenship. will receive you as an enemy. but if they who call themselves friends are good for anything. is tolerably certain. and injury for injury. and doing what?—eating and drinking in Thessaly. and our brethren. Listen. not of the laws. if you have anything to say.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  ‘For just consider. I say. then. but will there be no one to remind you that in your old age you were not ashamed to violate the most sacred laws from a miserable desire of a little more life? Perhaps not. But if you go forth. ‘Listen. that you may be justified before the princes of the world below. Socrates? And what will you say to them? What you say here about virtue and justice and institutions and laws being the best things among men? Would that be decent of you? Surely not. they will be charmed to hear the tale of your escape from prison. For neither will you nor any that belong to you be happier or holier or juster in this life. Socrates. and prevents me from hearing any other. and wronging those whom you ought least of all to wrong. that is to say. they will—to be sure they will. but of justice first. and metamorphosed as the manner is of runaways.

Apology *** END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK OF CRITO. to fulfil the will of God. 6. 3. Republic Cp. and to follow whither he leads. Crito. 7. See Phaedrus See Prose Works Homer. 4. 5. 2. 1. IX Cp. 8. Phaedrus Cp.The Dialogues of Plato: Crito  SOCRATES: Leave me then. Apology Cp. BY PLATO *** 196    . Iliad. Apology Cp.

by Plato This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www. and David Widger EUTHYDEMUS by Plato Translated by Benjamin Jowett 197    .org Title: Euthydemus Author: Plato Translator: Benjamin Jowett Release Date: November 23. You may copy it.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  The Project Gutenberg EBook of Euthydemus.gutenberg. 2008 [EBook #1598] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK EUTHYDEMUS *** Produced by Sue Asscher.

The weapons of common sense. and the fallacy of arguing in a circle is exposed in the Republic. How to put together words or ideas. restored to us. the different meanings of one and being are worked out in the Parmenides. Republic. Neither do we discuss the nature of the proposition. But if the order of history were followed. though apt to be regarded by us only as an elaborate jest. the form of the syllogism is indicated in the genealogical trees of the Sophist and Statesman. the nature of division is likewise illustrated by examples in the Sophist and Statesman. not yet systematized or reduced to an art or science. Here we have most of the important elements of logic. But they are not of the kind to which ancient logic can be usefully applied. To us the fallacies which arise in the pre-Socratic philosophy are trivial and obsolete because we are no longer liable to fall into the errors which are expressed by them. nor dispute any longer about nominalism and realism. The logic of Aristotle is for the most part latent in the dialogues of Plato. It was long before the new world of ideas which had been sought after with such passionate yearning was set in order and made ready for use. We no longer put arguments into the form of syllogisms like the schoolmen. The Euthydemus. happily. Lysis. not the analytics of Aristotle. for they belong to the age in which the human mind was first making the attempt to distinguish thought from sense. the true doctrine of contradiction is taught. the nature of synthesis and analysis is graphically described in the Phaedrus. or imagine that any single science furnishes a principle of reasoning to all the rest. how to resist the fixed impression of an 'eternal being' or 'perpetual flux.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  INTRODUCTION. Protagoras. Gorgias. The intellectual world has become better assured to us. the nature of words is analysed in the Cratylus. Those who have no 198    . Laches. They are still interesting and instructive for the light which they shed on the history of the human mind. and to separate the universal from the particular or individual. they should be placed not at the end but at the beginning of them. or invent laws of thought. but because we have grown out of the need of them we should not therefore despise them.' how to distinguish between words and things—these were problems not easy of solution in the infancy of philosophy. The nature of definition is explained not by rules but by examples in the Charmides. They presented the same kind of difficulty to the half-educated man which spelling or arithmetic do to the mind of a child. Several of the fallacies which are satirized in it reappear in the Sophistici Elenchi of Aristotle and are retained at the end of our manuals of logic. are needed for their overthrow. nor extract hidden truths from the copula. We do not confuse the form with the matter of knowledge. There are indeed many old fallacies which linger among us. Theaetetus. for that science originates in the misunderstandings which necessarily accompany the first efforts of speculation. Neither do we require categories or heads of argument to be invented for our use. a true doctrine of predication and an analysis of the sentence are given in the Sophist. has also a very serious purpose. They are of little or no use or significance to us. Nor is the use of the Aristotelian logic any longer natural to us. how to escape ambiguities in the meaning of terms or in the structure of propositions. Meno. and we are less likely to be imposed upon by illusions of words. a scheme of categories is found in the Philebus. but scattered up and down as they would naturally occur in ordinary discourse. It may fairly claim to be the oldest treatise on logic. Euthyphro. the simple use of language has been. and new ones are constantly springing up.

in the Republic. Many perplexities are avoided by keeping them apart. and becomes a friendly and interested auditor of the great discourse. There might certainly be a new science of logic. as in a larger horizon: secondly. The mirth is broader. who had settled at Thurii. Few will deny that the introduction of the words 'subject' and 'object' and the Hegelian reconciliation of opposites have been 'most gracious aids' to psychology. it would not however be built up out of the fragments of the old. and we vainly try to bridge the gulf between them. These two great studies. it might also suggest new methods of enquiry derived from the comparison of the sciences. The study of them is apt to blind the judgment and to render men incapable of seeing the value of evidence. The better part of ancient logic appears hardly in our own day to have a separate existence. Such a science might have two legitimate fields: first. the contrast between Socrates and the two Sophists. Most of the ancient puzzles have been settled on the basis of usage and common sense. the irony more sustained. and based chiefly on the methods of Modern Inductive philosophy.' But they can also teach virtue in a very short time and in the very best manner. seem to be quite as good reasoners as those who have. (2) the science of language. the other conservative and constructive of truth. an ancient and a modern one.. This seems to be the natural limit of logic and metaphysics. To this they have now added a new accomplishment—the art of Eristic. it might furnish new forms of thought more adequate to the expression of all the diversities and oppositions of knowledge which have grown up in these latter days. Dionysodorus and Euthydemus. 199    . if they give us a more comprehensive or a more definite view of the different spheres of knowledge they are to be studied. Ancient logic would be the propaedeutic or gate of approach to logical science. The Euthydemus is.. are the chief performers. and in former days had been known at Athens as professors of rhetoric and of the art of fighting in armour. which make no signs of progress and have no definite sphere. They are natives of Chios. The term logic has two different meanings. penetrates deeper than in any other of his writings. or that the methods of Bacon and Mill have shed a light far and wide on the realms of knowledge. is at last pacified. it is absorbed in two other sciences: (1) rhetoric. But in the Euthydemus the mask is never dropped. Socrates narrates to Crito a remarkable scene in which he has himself taken part. tends to interfere with the prosecution of living ones. but were driven out. but would be distinct from them—relative to the state of knowledge which exists at the present time.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  knowledge of logic. if not. the refutation and explanation of false philosophies still hovering in the air as they appear from the point of view of later experience or are comprehended in the history of the human mind. and in which the two brothers. No science should raise problems or invent forms of thought which add nothing to knowledge and are of no use in assisting the acquisition of it. Even Thrasymachus. which they are likewise willing to teach 'for a consideration. the one destructive and corrective of error. and even of appreciating the nature of truth. although veiled. though not irrelevant. To continue dead or imaginary sciences. not. that in which he approaches most nearly to the comic poet. if indeed this ancient art be not also fading away into literary criticism. Nor should we allow the living science to become confused with the dead by an ambiguity of language. like some of our great physical philosophers.—nothing more. might lead us too far away from the argument of the dialogue. of all the Dialogues of Plato. there is no need to reopen them. might be a first and second part of logic. the accustomed irony of Socrates continues to the end. under which all questions relating to words and propositions and the combinations of them may properly be included. But to pursue such speculations further. or fighting with words.

the youth Cleinias.' 'Then.' 'And he is not wise yet?' 'No. and others.' But can wisdom be taught? 'Yes. And again.' says Cleinias.' 'But. who is watched by the eager eyes of his lover Ctesippus.' 'Then you learn that which you do not know. The two strangers are not serious. which is of quite another sort.' 'Then you want him to be what he is not. The result of the investigation may be summed up as follows:— All men desire good.' 'That I will. After Socrates has given this specimen of his own mode of instruction. And yet in this enumeration the greatest good of all is omitted. power.' 'And you know letters?' 'Yes. He therefore explains to him the nature of the process to which he is being subjected. to perish. the two brothers recommence their exhortation to virtue. there must also be a right use of them which can only be given by knowledge: in themselves they are neither good nor evil—knowledge and wisdom are the only good.' said Euthydemus. Pretty lovers and friends you must all be!' Here Ctesippus. the lover of Cleinias. there are jests at the mysteries which precede the enthronement. He is ready to fall down and worship them. after all. and not to be what he is?—not to be—that is. although the greatness of their professions does arouse in his mind a temporary incredulity.' 'And dictation is a dictation of letters?' 'Yes. 'You want Cleinias to be wise?' 'Yes. and he is being initiated into the mysteries of the sophistical ritual.' says Euthydemus. such as wealth. the wise or the unwise?' 'The wise. The ingenuousness of the youth delights Socrates. the wise or the foolish boys?' 'The wise. beauty. A circle gathers round them. interposes in great excitement. But what need is there of good fortune when we have wisdom already:—in every art and business are not the wise also the fortunate? This is admitted. and is desirous that he should have the benefit of their instructions. health. which is now ended.' says Cleinias. who is at once relieved from the necessity of discussing one of his great puzzles. This is all a sort of horse-play. It is agreed that the brothers shall question Cleinias. 'who learn. 'Cleinias. the wise learn. the possession of goods is not enough. and good means the possession of goods. he must become a philosopher. in the midst of which are Socrates. 'And yet when you learned you did not know and were not wise. or lover of wisdom. and such a performance as might well seem to require an invocation of Memory and the Muses.' Socrates is afraid that the youth Cleinias may be discouraged at these repeated overthrows. The exhortation to virtue will follow. honour. the grandson of the great Alcibiades. The conclusion is that we must get 'wisdom. given with blushing and hesitation.' 'And you acquire that which you have not got already?' 'Yes. What is that? Good fortune. 'what they know or what they do not know?' 'The latter. who is always on the look-out for teachers of virtue. 'Since wisdom is the only good. 'is not learning acquiring knowledge?' 'Yes.' 'And do they learn. But he is quickly entangled in the meshes of their sophistry. and ignorance and folly the only evil.' 'Then you learn what you know. thinking that he will teach the two Sophists a lesson of good manners. and Socrates himself (if the wise men will not laugh at him) is desirous of showing the way in which such an exhortation should be carried on. The performance begins. is interested in the youth Cleinias.' is the reply. not forgetting the virtues and wisdom.' Then Dionysodorus takes up the ball: 'Who are they who learn dictation of the grammar-master. the two brothers. 200    .The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Socrates. according to his own poor notion. He proceeds to question Cleinias. birth.' retorts Dionysodorus.

but of all. etc?' 'Yes. And philosophy is the possession of knowledge. but is 'non-plussed' at what they are saying now. and a father is a father.' says Dionysodorus. as having the desired sort of knowledge.' and is induced by Socrates to confess that 'he does not know the good to be unjust. What knowledge is there which has such a nature? Not the knowledge which is required in any particular art. that words are lifeless things. and knowledge must be of a kind which is profitable and may be used. and again has to be pacified by Socrates. who knows how to write them. such as cobbling or carpentering. Neither is the knowledge which we are seeking the knowledge of the general. The two enquirers.' The sceptical Ctesippus would like to have some evidence of this extraordinary statement: he will believe if Euthydemus will tell him how many teeth Dionysodorus has. and lifeless things have no sense or meaning. and Ctesippus then says that he is not reviling the two Sophists. there is no answer to the question. although he too must be admitted to be a kind of enchanter of wild animals. He had arrived at the conclusion that Cleinias must become a philosopher. Socrates has already heard of the denial of contradiction. like Menelaus in the Odyssey. 'But. as the huntsman does to the cook. Ctesippus makes merry with the consequences which follow: 'Much good has your father got out of the wisdom of his puppies.' 201    . but of dogs and sea-monsters. Another fallacy is produced which turns on the absoluteness of the verb 'to know. and indulges in a little raillery at the expense of the brothers. The two Sophists are like Proteus in the variety of their transformations. and even Heracles. he has not the use of that which he acquires. At last they fix upon the kingly art. called upon his nephew Iolaus to help. Euthydemus argues that Socrates knows something. or the taker of quails to the keeper of quails. But the kingly art only gives men those goods which are neither good nor evil: and if we say further that it makes us wise. But he restrains himself. nor of men only. For a nephew is a nephew. like Heracles. and a brother is a brother. falsehood? Then what are they professing to teach?' The two Sophists complain that Socrates is ready to answer what they said a year ago. how can there be a contradiction?' Ctesippus is unable to reply. he cannot know some things and not know others. at the same time he acknowledges that he cannot. not of one man only. Even Socrates is incredulous. but only in itself: or say again that it makes us good. in reply. he is only contradicting them. nor again the art of the composer of speeches. and if Dionysodorus will give him a like piece of information about Euthydemus. or you describe one thing and I describe another. Cleinias and Socrates. 'What is the meaning of this paradox? Is there no such thing as error. vainly searching after the art of life and happiness.' And here Dionysodorus is caught 'napping. in what does it make us wise? Not in special arts. 'there is no such thing as contradiction. are described as wandering about in a wilderness. hopes to restore them to their natural form. and he. and would like to be informed by the great master of the art. and as he cannot know and not know.' Socrates appeals to his brother Euthydemus.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  and as a storm seems to be gathering Socrates pacifies him with a joke. and therefore he knows all things: he and Dionysodorus and all other men know all things. fight against a Hydra. but cannot speak them. When you and I describe the same thing. 'good in what?' At length in despair Cleinias and Socrates turn to the 'Dioscuri' and request their aid. who renews the conversation with Cleinias. ignorance. For the general makes over his prey to the statesman. Dionysodorus rejoins that Iolaus was no more the nephew of Heracles than of Socrates. on the approach of a second monster. 'What does the word "non-plussed" mean?' Socrates is informed. Ctesippus again breaks out. 'Do they know shoemaking. remembering that if the men who are to be his teachers think him stupid they will take no pains with him.

and a stater in either eye?' Ctesippus. as well as those of other people. They are a class who are very likely to get mauled by Euthydemus and his friends. They do not understand the principles of combination.' says Euthydemus.' A similar play of words follows. He concludes with a respectful request that they will receive him and Cleinias among their disciples. he remarks upon their impartiality.' 'And you see our garments?' 'Yes. arms are a good. but each of them has some beauty present with it. . for most persons would rather be refuted by such arguments than use them in the refutation of others. Crito tells Socrates that he has heard one of the audience criticise severely this wisdom. in self-defence borrows the weapons of the brothers. a talent in your pate. Socrates consoles him with the remark that the good in all professions are few. whom they imagine to be their rivals. and yet there may be too much of them in wrong places. one of a class who have the highest opinion of themselves and a spite against philosophers.' Socrates understands that he is an amphibious animal. he notes their liberality. 'And are you an ox because you have an ox present with you?' After a few more amphiboliae. one of whom is growing up. and the scene concludes with a grand chorus of shouting and laughing. which makes them give away their secret to all the world: they should be more reserved. and not mind about its professors. to the great delight of Cleinias. and hence are ignorant that the union of two good things which have different ends produces a compound inferior to either of them taken separately. who is rebuked by Socrates for laughing at such solemn and beautiful things. they both confess that the two heroes are invincible. for they stop their own mouths. but a great composer of speeches. like Ctesippus. 202    .' says Ctesippus.—not sparing Socrates himself for countenancing such an exhibition. and let no one be present at this exhibition who does not pay them a handsome fee. and recommends that 'he and his house' should continue to serve philosophy. half philosopher. 'nobody wants much good.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  'But. and a panegyrical oration from Socrates:— First. unabashed. 'there cannot be too much gold.. which is successfully retorted by Ctesippus. imitating the new wisdom. money is a good. and have a great notion of their own wisdom. 'And do not the Scythians reckon those to be the happiest of men who have their skulls gilded and see the inside of them?' 'Do you see. 'But are there any beautiful things? And if there are such. are they the same or not the same as absolute beauty?' Socrates replies that they are not the same. Thirdly.' retorts Euthydemus. 'Not an orator. replies. Crito is anxious about the education of his children.' And would you be happy if you had three talents of gold in your belly. he praises the indifference of Dionysodorus and Euthydemus to public opinion..' Medicine is a good.' 'Then our garments have the quality of vision. Socrates asks what manner of man was this censorious critic. in which Socrates. for they imagine themselves to have all the advantages and none of the drawbacks both of politics and of philosophy. The description of Dionysodorus and Euthydemus suggests to him the reflection that the professors of education are strange beings. or better still they might practise on one another only. 'what has the quality of vision or what has not the quality of vision?' 'What has the quality of vision. half politician. 'No. Secondly.

' which Plato. and mere puns or plays of words received serious attention. or of Pope and Swift in the modern world. motion. and that nothing was. has preferred to bring to the test of ridicule.' is lightly 203    . (Compare Theaet. who tear arguments to tatters. Aristotle has analysed several of the same fallacies in his book 'De Sophisticis Elenchis. we should imagine a mental state in which not individuals only. 'that you cannot enquire either into what you know or do not know. The peculiarity of the fallacies of our own age is that we live within them. begin to pass away in words. The sophism advanced in the Meno. but whole schools during more than one generation. Here.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  There is a stage in the history of philosophy in which the old is dying out.) To such disputes the humour. which have enlarged the boundaries of the human mind. Great philosophies like the Eleatic or Heraclitean. is the natural enemy. and therefore the very word 'this' (Theaet. and thus make knowledge impossible.) from language. which allows the same words to be used in different meanings. eristic. no form of thought so contradictory to experience. or when regarded from a certain point of view only. in which contradiction itself was denied. as everywhere else. Two great truths seem to be indirectly taught through these fallacies: (1) The uncertainty of language. Besides he is caricaturing them. The fallacies which are noted by him appear trifling to us now. The same absoluteness which was once attributed to abstractions is now attached to the words which are the signs of them. Let us imagine disputes carried on with religious earnestness and more than scholastic subtlety. Plato is aware that his own doctrine of ideas. in which the ideas of space. Nor must we forget that in modern times also there is no fallacy so gross. and. in which there was no analysis of grammar. but they were not trifling in the age before logic. were not understood. The philosophy which in the first and second generation was a great and inspiring effort of reflection. in which the nature of qualitative change was a puzzle. They subsist only as forms which have rooted themselves in language—as troublesome elements of thought which cannot be either used or explained away. to whom ideas and objects of sense have no fixedness. in the decline of the earlier Greek philosophies. which has not been found to satisfy the minds of philosophical enquirers at a certain stage. They are patent to us in Plato. or was known. matter. or could be spoken. on the one hand. but are in a state of perpetual oscillation and transition. with equal command of their true nature. To appreciate fully the drift of the Euthydemus. were animated by the desire to exclude the conception of rest. in the third becomes sophistical. who deny predication. It is this stage of philosophy which Plato satirises in the Euthydemus. or with different degrees of meaning: (2) The necessary limitation or relative nature of all phenomena. when applied to abstract notions. Plato is making war against the philosophers who put words in the place of things. every predicate was affirmed to be true of every subject. at a time when language was first beginning to perplex human thought. were proved to be contradictory and imaginary. they probably received more subtle forms at the hands of those who seriously maintained them. but we must remember also that there was a time when the human mind was only with great difficulty disentangled from such fallacies. whether of Plato in the ancient. and even differences of degree. verbal. and are therefore generally unconscious of them. and on the other. no abstraction so barren and unmeaning. no trick of language so transparent. as well as the Eleatic Being and Not-being. At first we are only struck with the broad humour of this 'reductio ad absurdum:' gradually we perceive that some important questions begin to emerge. in which the catchwords of philosophy are completely detached from their context. alike admit of being regarded as verbal fallacies. and the new has not yet come into full life. it was held that no predicate was true of any subject. and we are inclined to wonder how any one could ever have been deceived by them. time.

They occupy a border-ground between philosophy and politics. The name of the grandson of Alcibiades.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  touched upon at the commencement of the Dialogue. The grammatical puzzles with which the Dialogue concludes probably contain allusions to tricks of language which may have been practised by the disciples of Prodicus or Antisthenes. The Eclectic.). of a somewhat uproarious young man. This is a question which will hereafter be answered in the Republic. just as he often gives us an argument within an argument. but we have lost the clue to some of them. In contrast with these fallacies is maintained the Socratic doctrine that happiness is gained by knowledge. as in the Cratylus. the grandson of Alcibiades. the thesis of Protagoras. and who once or twice interrupts with a remark after the manner of the interlocutor in the Phaedo. The persons whom Plato ridicules in the epilogue to the Euthydemus are of this class. and never at a loss. (Greek). At the same time he takes the opportunity of assailing another class of persons who are as alien from the spirit of philosophy as Euthydemus and Dionysodorus. There is Socrates once more in the character of an old man. but that as a fact this Dialogue could not have been composed before 390 at the soonest. the Syncretist. the Doctrinaire. equally careless of what they say to others and of what is said to them. and other ingenuous youths out of whose mouths Socrates draws his own lessons. have been apt to have a bad name both in ancient and modern times. Crito will not believe that Socrates has not improved or perhaps invented the answers of Cleinias (compare Phaedrus). Charmides. as the conception of the kingly art is more fully developed in the Politicus. to whom the scene is narrated.' after the manner of the two Sophists: (3) In the absence of any definite conclusion—for while Socrates and the youth are agreed that philosophy is to be studied. Ctesippus. like the drama. Such a criticism is like similar criticisms on Shakespeare. and adds his commentary at the end. and his equal in years. and cannot determine whether. They are 'Arcades ambo et cantare pares et respondere parati. suggests not only that the intended scene of the Euthydemus could not have been earlier than 404. who sees the trap in which Socrates catches Dionysodorus. that everything is true to him to whom it seems to be true. they are not able to arrive at any certain result about the art which is to teach it. they keep out of the dangers of politics.. who is described as long dead. and proceeds upon a narrow notion of the variety which the Dialogue. Plato has or has not mixed up purely unmeaning fun with his satire. like Lysimachus in the Laches. whereas the Sophistical discourses are wholly irrelevant: (2) In their enquiring sympathetic tone. and who died at the age of forty-four. has been already introduced to us in the Lysis. Socrates makes a playful allusion to his money-getting habits. Menexenus. and the caricature of rhetoric in the Gorgias. Crito. who may be compared with Lysis. in the year 404 B. But the chief study of all is the picture of the two brothers. and at the 204    . The two discourses of Socrates may be contrasted in several respects with the exhibition of the Sophists: (1) In their perfect relevancy to the subject of discussion. Most of the jests appear to have a serious meaning. is satirized. Plato in the abundance of his dramatic power has chosen to write a play upon a play. and seems there too to deserve the character which is here given him. There is the youth Cleinias.' Some superior degree of wit or subtlety is attributed to Euthydemus. seems to admit. which encourages the youth. if we were acquainted with the writings against which Plato's humour is directed. who is the lover of Cleinias. who are unapproachable in their effrontery. They would have had more point. the father of Critobulus. instead of 'knocking him down. and to whom he always seems to stand in a kindly and sympathetic relation. The characters of the Dialogue are easily intelligible.C. The epilogue or conclusion of the Dialogue has been criticised as inconsistent with the general scheme. his fellow demesman (Apol.

for Socrates is no longer discussing whether virtue can be taught—from this question he is relieved by the ingenuous declaration of the youth Cleinias. and Lysis. as in the later Dialogues of Plato. and (4) not yet to have reached the point at which he asserts 'that there are no teachers. Euthydemus. philosophy and politics. which of them do you mean? CRITO: The one whom I mean was seated second from you on the right-hand side. CRITO: Who was the person. Plato quaintly describes them as making two good things. of embittered hatred.) Education is the common subject of all Plato's earlier Dialogues. SCENE: The Lyceum. and in the spirit of Xenophon's Memorabilia. as I thought. that he is pursuing his vocation of detecting the follies of mankind. a little worse by perverting the objects of both.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  same time use philosophy as a means of serving their own interests. Charmides. In the middle was Cleinias the young son of Axiochus. philosophy is defined as 'the knowledge which will make us happy. and the advice of Socrates to him that he should not give up philosophy because he has no faith in philosophers. he is only about the age of my own 205    . Cleinias.—the relation of Socrates to the Sophists is still that of humorous antagonism. as arguments from style and plan are apt to be (Greek). Men like Antiphon or Lysias would be types of the class. Crito. and I made out. who has wonderfully grown. but I caught a sight of him over their heads. they are disposed to censure the interest which Socrates takes in the exhibition of the two brothers. and the places and persons have a considerable family likeness. They do not understand.' The reasons for placing the Euthydemus early in the series are: (1) the similarity in plan and style to the Protagoras. seems to be a preparation for the more peremptory declaration of the Meno that 'Virtue cannot be taught because there are no teachers. that he has a difficulty in educating his two sons. that he was a stranger with whom you were talking: who was he? SOCRATES: There were two.' Such grounds are precarious. Socrates. not. Dionysodorus. Crito.' (3) we seem to have passed the stage arrived at in the Protagoras. with whom you were talking yesterday at the Lyceum? There was such a crowd around you that I could not get within hearing. Ctesippus. But no arguments equally strong can be urged in favour of assigning to the Euthydemus any other position in the series. who is the narrator of the Dialogue. any more than Crito. EUTHYDEMUS PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Socrates. The concluding remark of Crito. which he finds 'not unpleasant. (2) the Euthydemus belongs to the Socratic period in which Socrates is represented as willing to learn.' (Compare Apol. but unable to teach. Out of a regard to the respectabilities of life.

for they say that in a short time they can impart their skill to any one. and have been living for many years past in these regions. for they are capital at fighting in armour. as I have done Connus the son of Metrobius. but this pair of heroes. and was about to depart. who is still my musicmaster. that they can refute any proposition whether true or false. the harp-player. they are a new importation of Sophists. as I may say. if you like. I believe that they are natives of this part of the world. I am only apprehensive that I may bring the two strangers into disrepute. CRITO: I see no objection. As to their wisdom. are you not too old? there may be reason to fear that. not like the two Acarnanian brothers who fight with their bodies only. as I will prove to you. and have migrated from Chios to Thurii. Crito. they were driven out of Thurii. in old age. and on my left hand there was his brother Dionysodorus. Socrates. CRITO: But. they are wonderful— consummate! I never knew what the true pancratiast was before. and I hope that you will make one: and perhaps we had better take your sons as a bait. as I should imagine. the fear of ridicule may make them unwilling to receive me. last year. and what is their line of wisdom? SOCRATES: As to their origin. and therefore. of placing myself in their hands. SOCRATES: Certainly not. they are simply made up of fighting. Crito. they had none of their new wisdom. and will teach the art to any one who pays them. Providentially I was sitting alone in the dressing-room of the Lyceum where you saw me.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Critobulus. quite. or the year before. for I have the consolation of knowing that they began this art of disputation which I covet. for I cannot say that I did not attend—I paid great attention to them. and I remember and will endeavour to repeat the whole story. and several others with them. as I persuaded them to go with me to Connus. they will plead themselves and teach others to speak and to compose speeches which will have an effect upon the courts. CRITO: Neither of them are known to me. I shall try and persuade some old men to accompany me to them. are invincible in every sort of warfare. for when the boys who go to him see me going with them. and for the sake of them willing to receive us. and also they are most skilful in legal warfare. they had not taken more than two or three 206    . but first I wish that you would give me a description of their wisdom. is Euthydemus. SOCRATES: He whom you mean. Crito. Of what country are they. about which you ask. whom I believe to be their disciples. when I was getting up I recognized the familiar divine sign: so I sat down again. besides being perfect in the use of their bodies. and in a little while the two brothers Euthydemus and Dionysodorus came in. And this was only the beginning of their wisdom. Crito. who also took part in the conversation. that I may know beforehand what we are going to learn. SOCRATES: In less than no time you shall hear. Now I am thinking. Crito. Now I should not like the strangers to experience similar treatment. Socrates. they will want to have them as pupils. they laugh at me and call him grandpapa's master. Socrates. and they walked about in the covered court. but they have at last carried out the pancratiastic art to the very end. and have mastered the only mode of fighting which had been hitherto neglected by them. but he is much forwarder and very good-looking: the other is thin and looks younger than he is. and now no one dares even to stand up against them: such is their skill in the war of words.

when they saw him. one of whom was Ctesippus the Paeanian. what that noble study is? The teaching of virtue. he was prevented from seeing Cleinias. for they know all about war. what must the principal one be.—all that a good general ought to know about the array and command of an army. and Dionysodorus and Euthydemus. and ask you to pardon the impiety of my former expressions. and where did you learn that? I always thought. Socrates. Cleinias saw me from the entrance as I was sitting alone. he replied. at first stopped and talked with one another. Socrates. is very much improved: he was followed by a host of lovers. are matters which we no longer pursue seriously. I shall be the first. a well-bred youth. but only despised me. whom I had not seen for a long time. that a feeling of incredulity steals over me. I said. who were beginning to gather round us. O forgive me: I address you as I would superior beings. if such occupations are regarded by you as secondary. But now if you really have the other knowledge. followed his example. and then Euthydemus said: Those. But are you quite sure about this. the rest anywhere. and at once came and sat down on the right hand of me. You may take our word. and the whole art of fighting in armour: and they know about law too. Socrates. I saluted the brothers. and can teach a man how to use the weapons of the courts when he is injured. I said. And please to tell me whether you intend to exhibit your wisdom.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  turns when Cleinias entered. Then I think you happier in having such a treasure than the great king is in the possession of his kingdom. for I particularly watched them. and I used to say as much of you. telling him that they were all eager to learn: to which Ctesippus and all of them with one voice vehemently assented. as I was saying just now. and Ctesippus: and here are several others. and then Euthydemus came and sat down by the youth. They heard me say this. for I remember that you professed this when you were here before. partly because he wanted to look at his love. and our purpose is not only to exhibit. and the other by me on the left hand. and there is the youth Cleinias. I observed that they looked at one another. And these were the persons whom I showed to Euthydemus. to us they are secondary occupations. wise not in a small but in a large way of wisdom. Now Ctesippus was sitting at some distance from Cleinias. I said. and then I said to Cleinias: Here are two wise men. but also having the wildness of youth. and when Euthydemus leaned forward in talking with me. he jumped up and stood opposite to us: and all the other admirers of Cleinias. pointing to the lovers of Cleinias. and we believe that we can impart it better and quicker than any man. as you describe. tell me. I beseech you. and bid him exhibit the power 207    . as you truly say. My God! I said. Euthydemus and Dionysodorus. Dionysodorus and Euthydemus? the promise is so vast. but also to teach any one who likes to learn. and both of them laughed. Cleinias. as well as the disciples of Euthydemus and Dionysodorus. or what will you do? That is why we have come hither. that every unvirtuous person will want to learn. But I can promise you. who was between us. and also because he was interested. is our principal occupation. Socrates. Indeed. and so. who. for the fact. now and then glancing at us. that your chief accomplishment was the art of fighting in armour.

Dionysodorus. and we are naturally afraid that some one may get the start of us. and that you are the men from whom he will best learn it? Certainly. overpowered by the question blushed. knowing that he was disconcerted. for the fact is I and all of us are extremely anxious that he should become truly good.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  of his wisdom. I replied. I rather think that we are. Socrates. Cleinias. He is quite young. said Dionysodorus. Cleinias gave his answer: and therefore I had no time to warn him of the predicament in which he was placed. Socrates. replied: There can be no objection. his face beaming with laughter. I earnestly request you to do myself and the company the favour to exhibit. for my belief is that you will derive the greatest benefit from their questions. Exhibit that. There may be some trouble in giving the whole exhibition. Then I said: O Euthydemus and Dionysodorus. and therefore. His name is Cleinias. I prophesy that he will be refuted. are those who learn the wise or the ignorant? The youth. and I hope that you will make a trial of the young man. that virtue can be taught. like the poets. said Dionysodorus. either because he imagines that virtue is a thing which cannot be taught at all. for his friends often come and ask him questions and argue with him. and he is the son of Axiochus. Socrates. 208    . and grandson of the old Alcibiades. and he answered that those who learned were the wise. and you will confer a great favour on me and on every one present. if the young man is only willing to answer questions. cousin of the Alcibiades that now is. and I. and Euthydemus. I ought to commence my relation with an invocation to Memory and the Muses. and he may be ruined. who is of the latter temper of mind. if I remember rightly. or that you are not the teachers of it? Has your art power to persuade him. Crito. said: Take courage. and answer like a man whichever you think. And you and your brother. if you have no objection. is most happily timed. but tell me one thing. and therefore he is quite at home in answering. While he was speaking to me. I said. leaning forward so as to catch my ear. Now Euthydemus. or of him also who is not convinced. He is quite accustomed to do so. of all men who are now living are the most likely to stimulate him to philosophy and to the study of virtue? Yes. in a manly and at the same time encouraging tone. began nearly as follows: O Cleinias. Your visit. and only try to persuade the youth whom you see here that he ought to be a philosopher and study virtue. therefore. how can I rightly narrate? For not slight is the task of rehearsing infinite wisdom. Whichever he answers. and converse with him in our presence. These were pretty nearly the expressions which I used. and turn his mind in a wrong direction. What followed. Then I wish that you would be so good as to defer the other part of the exhibition. and in his perplexity looked at me for help. our art will do both. Socrates.—can you make a good man of him only who is already convinced that he ought to learn of you.

Euthydemus. Do those.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Euthydemus proceeded: There are some whom you would call teachers. like a chorus at the bidding of their director. is just another of the same sort. replied Cleinias. But if you were not wise you were unlearned? Certainly. as you imagine. and your last answer to Euthydemus was wrong. Then. observing this. Socrates. he said. who learn. of whom I spoke. and your last question was so good! 209    . I said. were unlearned when you were learning? The youth nodded assent. Good heavens. determined to persevere with the youth. And when you were learners you did not as yet know the things which you were learning? No. or what they do not know? Again Dionysodorus whispered to me: That. said he. You then. Then the unlearned learn. Then once more the admirers of the two heroes. and you were the learners? Yes. and not the wise. before the youth had time to recover his breath. and when the grammar-master dictated anything to you. And they are the teachers of those who learn—the grammar-master and the lyre-master used to teach you and other boys. Dionysodorus cleverly took him in hand. and said: Yes. indeed. which might be compared to the double turn of an expert dancer. At these words the followers of Euthydemus. laughed and cheered. Cleinias. Cleinias. Then after all the wise are the learners and not the unlearned. are there not? The boy assented. and in order to heighten the effect went on asking another similar question. he said. while the rest of us were silent and amazed. And were you wise then? No. learn what they know. gave vent to another peal of laughter. in an ecstasy at their wisdom. learning what you did not know. were they the wise boys or the unlearned who learned the dictation? The wise.

I see the reason. Do you not know letters? He assented. Meanwhile Cleinias had answered Euthydemus that those who learned learn what they do not know. and had another throw at the youth. The word was hardly out of his mouth when Dionysodorus took up the argument. he replied—inevitable. and he put him through a series of questions the same as before. he said. And not knowing is not having knowledge at the time? 210    . For tell me now. said he. you learn what you know. does he not dictate letters? To this also he assented.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Like all our other questions. said the other. And knowing is having knowledge at the time? He agreed. Then. you do not learn that which he dictates. but I do learn. you were wrong in your answer. if you know all the letters? He admitted that. All letters? Yes. but he only who does not know letters learns? Nay. Cleinias. he said. why you are in such reputation among your disciples. Then if you know all letters. But when the teacher dictates to you. he dictates that which you know? This again was admitted by him. Then. said Cleinias. is not learning acquiring knowledge of that which one learns? Cleinias assented. Euthydemus is deceiving you. Socrates. Then. I said. like a ball which he caught.

first. These parts of learning are not serious. tripping them up and oversetting them with distinctions of words. but I knew that he was in deep water. which. Euthydemus was proceeding to give the youth a third fall. they are only initiating you after the manner of the Corybantes in the mysteries. when you have the knowledge. and keep their promise (I will show them how). if you have ever been initiated. the latter is generally called 'knowing' rather than 'learning. Cleinias. as they explained to you. Then. at the singularity of their mode of speech: this I say because you may not understand what the two strangers are doing with you. And have you not admitted that those who do not know are of the number of those who have not? He nodded assent. and therefore I say that the gentlemen are not serious. and this answers to the enthronement. and if I do this in a very inartistic and ridiculous manner. that the term is employed of two opposite sorts of men. he said. is. as Prodicus says. for I only venture to improvise before you because I am eager to hear your wisdom: and I must therefore ask you and your disciples 211    . do not laugh at me. and now they are just prancing and dancing about you. accompanied by dancing and sport. and what sort of a discourse I desire to hear. Euthydemus and Dionysodorus. and you did not see. and then laughs and makes merry at the sight of his friend overturned and laid on his back. The two foreign gentlemen. which. and not those who know. as you will know. imagine then that you have gone through the first part of the sophistical ritual. but I suppose that they wanted to have a game with you first. And are those who acquire those who have or have not a thing? Those who have not. and also. of those who know. Then those who learn are of the class of those who acquire. There was a similar trick in the second question. those who do not know learn. for they promised to give me a sample of the hortatory philosophy. he would only be able to play with men. He would be like a person who pulls away a stool from some one when he is about to sit down. But in what is to follow I am certain that they will exhibit to you their serious purpose. begins with initiation into the correct use of terms. For if a man had all that sort of knowledge that ever was. but are only playing with you.' but the word 'learning' is also used. perceiving that you did not know. Will you let me see you explaining to the young man how he is to apply himself to the study of virtue and wisdom? And I will first show you what I conceive to be the nature of the task. I said to him consolingly: You must not be surprised. he would not be at all the wiser. Cleinias. And you must regard all that has hitherto passed between you and them as merely play. and will next proceed to initiate you.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  He admitted that. as I wanted to give him a respite lest he should be disheartened. And now. when they asked you whether men learn what they know or what they do not know. I think that we have had enough of this. and therefore. whether something done or spoken by the light of this newly-acquired knowledge. and is used. in the sense of acquiring knowledge of some matter of which you previously have no knowledge. in the sense of reviewing this matter. and of those who do not know. and not of those who have? He agreed. wanted to explain to you that the word 'to learn' has two meanings.

And now. for there can be no doubt of the answer. perhaps. he said. What is that? he asked. since we all of us desire happiness. And now. is even a more simple question than the first. let me put a question to you: Do not all men desire happiness? And yet. I replied. And what things do we esteem good? No solemn sage is required to tell us this. this is one of those ridiculous questions which I am afraid to ask. Shall we not be happy if we have many good things? And this. Very well. And are not health and beauty goods. Well. justice. I said. What do you say of temperance. I said. I do not think that we have. which may be easily answered. I said. courage: do you not verily and indeed think. Upon recollection. who does not. Can there be any doubt that good birth. even the most foolish. how can we be happy?—that is the next question. are goods? He assented. I said.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  to refrain from laughing. 212    . indeed I am afraid that we have left out the greatest of them all. said Cleinias. and where in the company shall we find a place for wisdom—among the goods or not? Among the goods. and power. admit to be the greatest of goods. And what other goods are there? I said. said Cleinias. Certainly. said Cleinias. then. and honours in one's own land. and other personal gifts? He agreed. that we shall be more right in ranking them as goods than in not ranking them as goods? For a dispute might possibly arise about this. What then do you say? They are goods. for every one will say that wealth is a good. perhaps. Cleinias. O son of Axiochus. and which ought not to be asked by a sensible man: for what human being is there who does not desire happiness? There is no one. Cleinias. which all. He assented. Fortune. think whether we have left out any considerable goods.

that to act with a wise man is more fortunate than to act with an ignorant one? He assented. observing his surprise. certainly. and therefore he must act rightly and succeed. and saying the same thing twice over. On second thoughts. in whose company would you rather take the risk—in company with a wise general. are any more fortunate on the whole than wise pilots? None. Cleinias. What do you mean? I mean that there is something ridiculous in again putting forward good-fortune. and. again. Amid the dangers of the sea. that flute-players are most fortunate and successful in performing on the flute? He assented. I said to him: Do you not know. he said. I said. or his wisdom would be wisdom no longer. And if you were engaged in war. Why do you say so? Why.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  True. because we have already spoken of good-fortune. which has a place in the list already. have you and I escaped making a laughing-stock of ourselves to the strangers. how narrowly. and I replied: Surely wisdom is good-fortune. 213    . The simple-minded youth was amazed. I added. And are not the scribes most fortunate in writing and reading letters? Certainly. and are but repeating ourselves. or an ignorant one? A wise one. O son of Axiochus. And if you were ill. You think. whom would you rather have as a companion in a dangerous illness—a wise physician. or with a foolish one? With a wise one. He asked what was the meaning of this. even a child may know that. Then wisdom always makes men fortunate: for by wisdom no man would ever err.

Cleinias. You admit that? He assented. I then recalled to his mind the previous state of the question. for the one is an evil. would he be happy because he possessed them? No indeed. if we only had them and did not use them? For example. And if a person had wealth and all the goods of which we were just now speaking. in my opinion. Or would an artisan. and did not use them. You remember. but if you have the use as well as the possession of good things. And would they profit us. he said. I said. Socrates. he said. 214    . Then. or a great deal of drink and did not drink. that he who had wisdom had no need of fortune. if they profited us not. I said. would a carpenter be any the better for having all his tools and plenty of wood. a man who would be happy must not only have the good things. if we had a great deal of food and did not eat. who had all the implements necessary for his work. be any the better for the possession of them? For example. And may a person use them either rightly or wrongly? He must use them rightly. should we be profited? Certainly not. but he must also use them. he said. or if they profited us? If they profited us. I said. Well. and did not use them. That is quite true. And the wrong use of a thing is far worse than the non-use. there is no advantage in merely having them? True. is that sufficient to confer happiness? Yes.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  We contrived at last. to agree in a general conclusion. our making the admission that we should be happy and fortunate if many good things were present with us? He assented. somehow or other. And should we be happy by reason of the presence of good things. and the other is neither a good nor an evil. if he never worked? Certainly not.

Then in every possession and every use of a thing. knowledge is that which gives the right way of making them? He agreed. And tell me. having and doing many things without wisdom.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Now in the working and use of wood. A weak man or a strong man? A weak man. in the manufacture of vessels. he said. or a few things with wisdom? Look at the matter thus: If he did fewer things would he not make fewer mistakes? if he made fewer mistakes would he not have fewer misfortunes? and if he had fewer misfortunes would he not be less miserable? Certainly. And who would do least—a poor man or a rich man? A poor man. knowledge is that which gives a man not only good-fortune but success? He again assented. A noble man or a mean man? A mean man. and regulates our practice about them? He assented. I said. if he have neither good sense nor wisdom? Would a man be better off. he said. And a coward would do less than a courageous and temperate man? Yes. And an indolent man less than an active man? 215    . And surely. is not knowledge that which directs us to the right use of them. And in the use of the goods of which we spoke at first—wealth and health and beauty. O tell me. what do possessions profit a man. is not that which gives the right use simply the knowledge of the carpenter? Nothing else.

the sum of the matter appears to be that the goods of which we spoke before are not to be regarded as goods in themselves. that wisdom can be taught. What then is the result of what has been said? Is not this the result—that other things are indifferent. as you think that wisdom can be taught. Do you agree? I said. Let us consider a further point. if his aim is to get wisdom. and ignorance the only evil? He assented. and one who had dull perceptions of seeing and hearing less than one who had keen ones? All this was mutually allowed by us. and a right use. is gained by a use. Cleinias. I said. I am delighted to hear you say so. and think that you are right. he replied. from a father or a guardian or a friend or a suitor. for this is a point which has still to be considered. they are greater evils than their opposites. I said. Cleinias. he said. and when under the guidance of wisdom and prudence. Then. if only wisdom can be taught. Socrates. I quite agree. will you not acknowledge that all of us ought to love wisdom. But now.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  He assented. far more than money. and happiness. inasmuch as they are more able to minister to the evil principle which rules them. Yes. but the degree of good and evil in them depends on whether they are or are not under the guidance of knowledge: under the guidance of ignorance. as has been shown. is not at all dishonourable. Cleinias. and you individually will try to love her? 216    . he said. whether citizen or stranger—the eager desire and prayer to them that they would impart wisdom to you. is obvious. and I am also grateful to you for having saved me from a long and tiresome investigation as to whether wisdom can be taught or not. he said. I said: Seeing that all men desire happiness. And a slow man less than a quick. Best of men. I said. and the right use of them. And when a man thinks that he ought to obtain this treasure. and that wisdom is the only good. and good-fortune in the use of them. whether a lover or not. and that wisdom only can make a man happy and fortunate. they are greater goods: but in themselves they are nothing? That. and does not come to man spontaneously. nor is any one to be blamed for doing any honourable service or ministration to any man. of the things of life. is given by knowledge.—the inference is that everybody ought by all means to try and make himself as wise as he can? Yes. and is not yet agreed upon by you and me— But I think. Yes.

and what that is. and so you say that you wish Cleinias to become wise? Undoubtedly. Everybody's eyes were directed towards him. you may have to deny your words. who was the elder. Dionysodorus. clumsy and tedious I admit. Thus I spoke. and I hope that one of you will set forth what I have been saying in a more artistic style: or at least take up the enquiry where I left off. 217    . Socrates. Crito. Tell me. You wish him to be what he is not. And he is not wise as yet? At least his modesty will not allow him to say that he is. Socrates. Crito. for the man. Socrates and the rest of you who say that you want this young man to become wise. I said. spoke first. and was all attention to what was coming. For. and where they would start in their exhortation to the young man that he should practise wisdom and virtue. he said.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Certainly. You wish him. perceiving that something wonderful might shortly be expected. he said. are you in jest or in real earnest? I was led by this to imagine that they fancied us to have been jesting when we asked them to converse with the youth. he said. and I shall never deny my words. of the sort of exhortations which I would have you give. I will do my best. Well. began a remarkable discourse well worth hearing. or whether there is one sort of knowledge only which will make him good and happy. as I was saying at first. Dionysodorus said: Reflect. the improvement of this young man in virtue and wisdom is a matter which we have very much at heart. and I turned to Dionysodorus and Euthydemus and said: That is an example. And certainly they were not far wrong. I was the more decided in saying that we were in profound earnest. I have reflected. and being under this impression. and wonderfully persuasive regarded as an exhortation to virtue. I wanted to see how they would approach the question. to become wise and not. and that this made them jest and play. and no longer to be what he is? I was thrown into consternation at this. I was pleased at hearing this. said he. to be ignorant? That we do. and proceed to show the youth whether he should have all knowledge.

And can any one do anything about that which has no existence. And he who says that thing says that which is? Yes. Yes. tells that thing which he tells. do you tell the thing of which you speak or not? You tell the thing of which you speak. he says what is not. Euthydemus. or do to Cleinias that which is not and is nowhere? I think not. And that which is not is nowhere? Nowhere. said Ctesippus. A plague upon you! What can make you tell such a lie about me and the others. and no other? Yes. Ctesippus. which can only mean that you wish him to perish. Euthydemus answered: And that which is not is not? True. Pretty lovers and friends they must be who want their favourite not to be. says the truth of you and no lie. said Ctesippus. that it is possible to tell a lie? Yes. And that is a distinct thing apart from other things? Certainly. if he says that which is. And in telling a lie. as that I wish Cleinias to perish? Euthydemus replied: And do you think. said Ctesippus. And he who tells. or to perish! When Ctesippus heard this he got very angry (as a lover well might) and said: Stranger of Thurii—if politeness would allow me I should say.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Taking advantage of my consternation he added: You wish him no longer to be what he is. I should be mad to say anything else. says the truth. which I hardly like to repeat. but in saying this. And he who says that which is. And therefore Dionysodorus. 218    . said Ctesippus.

Dionysodorus. you had better take care that they do not speak evil of you. Euthydemus. for in saying what is not he would be doing something. but do rhetoricians. You are abusive. he said. do nothing? Nay. he replied. And speaking is doing and making? He agreed. upon your own showing. And doing is making? Yes. And are not good things good. for I love you and am giving you friendly advice. you are abusive! Indeed. indeed. And do they speak great things of the great. they do something. if they speak of them as they are? Yes. if I could. Ctesippus.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Well. no one says what is false. he says what is true and what is. and warm things of the warm? To be sure they do. to perish. said Ctesippus. Then no one says that which is not. but he speaks of things in a certain way and manner. Yes. And you say that gentlemen speak of things as they are? Yes. and you have already acknowledged that no one can do what is not. whom I value above all men. rejoined Euthydemus. but if Dionysodorus says anything. he said. I am not. said Dionysodorus. do you mean to say that any one speaks of things as they are? Yes. and. and evil things evil? He assented. and they speak coldly of the insipid and cold dialectician. and not as they really are. said Ctesippus. Then the good speak evil of evil things. And if I may give you a piece of advice. Ctesippus. since I can tell you that the good speak evil of the evil. would persuade you not like a boor to say in my presence that I desire my beloved. Why. 219    . And therefore. when they speak in the assembly. he said—all gentlemen and truth-speaking persons. and they speak evil of evil men. said Dionysodorus.

Do you. am ready to commit myself to the strangers. he may put me into the pot. have not all things words expressive of them? Yes. Ctesippus said: And I. if only my skin is made at last. Dionysodorus. into a leathern bottle. I think that we must allow the strangers to use language in their own way. I will be the Carian on whom they shall operate. for they are quite different things. when really I am not angry at all. there can be no question of that. maintain that there is not? You will never prove to me. then fiat experimentum in corpore senis. or whether they have learned from some one else this new sort of death and destruction which enables them to get rid of a bad man and turn him into a good one—if they know this (and they do know this—at any rate they said just now that this was the secret of their newly-discovered art)— let them. O illustrious Dionysodorus. but into a piece of virtue.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  I saw that they were getting exasperated with one another. there never was such a thing. as you may remember. But if you young men do not like to trust yourselves with them. then now you may hear me contradicting Dionysodorus. Ctesippus. And here is Dionysodorus fancying that I am angry with him. and not quarrel with them about words. if they please (and I am pretty well skinned by them already). Indeed. Are you prepared to make that good? Certainly. Socrates. boil me. so I made a joke with him and said: O Ctesippus. and we just now proved. and all of us with him. but be thankful for what they give us. that you have heard any one contradicting any one else. And here I offer my old person to Dionysodorus. Contradiction! said Dionysodorus. Well. he said. if he will only make me good. If they know how to destroy men in such a way as to make good and sensible men out of bad and foolish ones—whether this is a discovery of their own. 220    . that no man could affirm a negative. destroy the youth and make him wise. Certainly there is. Of their existence or of their non-existence? Of their existence. in their phraseology. not like that of Marsyas. they may skin me alive. he replied. for no one could affirm that which is not. like Medea the Colchian. I do but contradict him when I think that he is speaking improperly to me: and you must not confound abuse and contradiction. said Ctesippus. And what does that signify? said Ctesippus. kill me. he said. you and I may contradict all the same for that. Yes. why.

or men who are ignorant. The dictum is that there is no such thing as falsehood. to tell a falsehood is impossible? Very true. this thesis of yours. and I in my astonishment said: What do you mean. Then there is no such thing as false opinion? No. Are you saying this as a paradox. he cannot. he said. for is not ignorance. and have been amazed to hear. he said. said Dionysodorus.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  But can we contradict one another. and which to me appears to be quite wonderful. But if he cannot speak falsely. And that is impossible? Impossible. a mistake of fact? Certainly. a man must either say what is true or say nothing. and others before them. or do you seriously maintain no man to be ignorant? Refute me. Dionysodorus. if there be such a thing. Then there is no such thing as ignorance. and suicidal as well as destructive. he said. he replied. as you say. But when I describe something and you describe another thing. But how can I refute you. if. which is maintained and employed by the disciples of Protagoras. he said. when both of us are describing the same thing? Then we must surely be speaking the same thing? He assented. Is not that your position? He assented. and I think that I am most likely to hear the truth about it from you. 221    . Or when neither of us is speaking of the same thing? For then neither of us says a word about the thing at all? He granted that proposition also. may he not think falsely? No. said Euthydemus. or I say something and you say nothing—is there any contradiction? How can he who speaks contradict him who speaks not? Here Ctesippus was silent. Dionysodorus? I have often heard.

answer as I tell you. I said. And now. then what. Tell me if the words have any other sense. word. and who knows when to answer and when not to answer—and now you will not open your mouth at all. do you come hither to teach? And were you not just now saying that you could teach virtue best of all men. he said. rejoined Dionysodorus. because you know that you ought not. he replied. I am afraid that I hardly understand them. my good sir. or thought. Answer. you admit that I am wise. I suppose that you would bring that up too—but are nonplussed at the words which I have just uttered? Why. Socrates. Upon what principle? I said. and you must forgive me therefore if I ask a very stupid question: if there be no falsehood or false opinion or ignorance. that you bring up now what I said at first—and if I had said anything last year. But if. there can be no such thing as erroneous action. for you are master. he said. And is that fair? Yes. No. I will ask my stupid question: If there is no such thing as error in deed. I said. for a man cannot fail of acting as he is acting—that is what you mean? Yes. instead of answering. they are not easy to answer. said Dionysodorus. And now answer. I can only suppose that you are a very wise man who comes to us in the character of a great logician. they mean what you say. before you. in the name of goodness. Put the question.' which you used last: what do you mean by it. You prate. Dionysodorus? You must mean that I cannot refute your argument. What. I said.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Neither did I tell you just now to refute me. for how can I tell you to do that which is not? O Euthydemus. quite fair. I have but a dull conception of these subtleties and excellent devices of wisdom. Dionysodorus? I said. Are the things which have sense alive or lifeless? They are alive. he replied. to any one who was willing to learn? And are you such an old fool. I suppose that I must obey. said he. And do you know of any word which is alive? 222    . for they are the words of wise men: and indeed I know not what to make of this word 'nonplussed.

which is really amazing. perhaps. I will go on therefore where I left off. When they begin to be in earnest their full beauty will appear: let us then beg and entreat and beseech them to shine forth. I am inclined to think. shall remind me at what point we left off. You. Proteus. even if without trouble and digging all the gold which there is in the earth were ours? And if we knew how to convert stones 223    . has not found out the way of throwing another and not falling yourself. And yet. he said. or however and whatever you call yourselves. they take different forms and deceive us by their enchantments: and let us. Thurii. and said to him: To you. wise man? If I was not in error. But have we not already proved. And I think that I had better once more exhibit the form in which I pray to behold them. because I was stupid and made a mistake. that this argument lies where it was and is not very likely to advance: even your skill in the subtleties of logic. Ctesippus said: Men of Chios. and that when they see me deeply serious and interested. Did we not agree that philosophy should be studied? and was not that our conclusion? Yes. And should we be any the better if we went about having a knowledge of the places where most gold was hidden in the earth? Perhaps we should. they also may be serious. Dionysodorus and Euthydemus. then again you are wrong in saying that there is no error. Fearing that there would be high words. I must repeat what I said before to Cleinias—that you do not understand the ways of these philosophers from abroad. They are not serious.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  I cannot say that I do. he said. as well as I can. Then why did you ask me what sense my words had? Why. refuse to let them go until they show themselves to us in earnest. but.—what do you say. and all your wisdom will be non-plussed. that we should be none the better off. I said. for you seem to have no objection to talking nonsense. I said.—and this remark was made by you not quite a year ago. And philosophy is the acquisition of knowledge? Yes. it might be a guide to them. however. even you will not refute me. Ctesippus. like the Egyptian wizard. but if I did fall into error. he said. And what knowledge ought we to acquire? May we not answer with absolute truth—A knowledge which will do us good? Certainly. I wonder at you. I was right after all in saying that words have a sense. Cleinias. now any more than of old. in the hope that I may touch their hearts and move them to pity. I again endeavoured to soothe Ctesippus. he replied. like Menelaus.

no. And if there were a knowledge which was able to make men immortal. the knowledge which we want is one that uses as well as makes? True. rejoined Cleinias. but are able to use the speeches which the others make for them. my dear boy. and not to use it when made. or of any other art which knows only how to make a thing. and this proves that the art of making speeches is not the same as the art of using them. and the art which uses is another. he said. Nor would any other knowledge. Although they have to do with the same. Am I not right? He agreed. whether of money-making. and also some who are of themselves unable to compose speeches. And clearly we do not want the art of the flute-maker. that we were to learn the art of making speeches—would that be the art which would make us happy? I should say. he said. And why should you say so? I asked. I quite remember. Yes. the knowledge would be of no value to us. if we may argue from the analogy of the previous instances? To all this he agreed. without giving them the knowledge of the way to use the immortality. But suppose. this is only another of the same sort? He assented. Then. that there are some composers of speeches who do not know how to use the speeches which they make. just as the makers of lyres do not know how to use the lyres. and I take your words to be a sufficient proof that the art of making speeches is not one which will make a man happy. I said. I said. I said. neither would there be any use in that. Am I not right? He agreed. I see. be of any good to us. they are divided: for the art which makes and the art which plays on the lyre differ widely from one another. And our desire is not to be skilful lyre-makers. unless we also knew how to use the gold? Do you not remember? I said. or artists of that sort—far otherwise. for with them the art which makes is one. he replied. And yet I did think that the art which we have so long been seeking 224    .The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  into gold. or of medicine.

no art of hunting extends beyond hunting and capturing. Crito? 225    . he said. always appear to me to be very extraordinary men. and to what art shall we have recourse? I do not see my way. and their art is lofty and divine. for he does not know how to use them himself. Why not? I said. and no wonder. For their art is a part of the great art of enchantment. and when the prey is taken the huntsman or fisherman cannot use it. if at all. Whither then shall we go. he said. And is this true? Certainly. CRITO: And do you mean. for the composers of speeches. inferior to it: and whereas the art of the enchanter is a mode of charming snakes and spiders and scorpions. but only find out that which was previously contained in them)—they. and hardly. he said. Do you agree with me? Yes. for the charming and pacifying of them. hand over their inventions to the dialectician to be applied by him. I think that you are quite right. the art of the general is not the one. or as the quail-taker transfers the quails to the keeper of them. this art of their's acts upon dicasts and ecclesiasts and bodies of men. If we are looking for the art which is to make us blessed. Good. and which is able to use that which it makes or takes. he said. that the youngster said all this? SOCRATES: Are you incredulous. not being able to use but only to catch their prey. Why. The art of the general is surely an art of hunting mankind. And what is your notion? asked Cleinias. I said. I said. But I think that I do.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  might be discovered in that direction. and other monsters and pests. just as a general when he takes a city or a camp hands over his new acquisition to the statesman. Cleinias. he said. I replied. I say. What of that? I said. for they do not make their diagrams. I do not think so. Socrates. and some other must be found. fairest and wisest Cleinias. I think that the art of the general is above all others the one of which the possession is most likely to make a man happy. but they hand it over to the cook. whenever I meet them. if they have any sense in them. and the geometricians and astronomers and calculators (who all belong to the hunting class.

piloting and governing all things. for we resumed the enquiry. always on the point of catching the art. as I should be disposed to think. do anything for us? To be sure. and what came of that? SOCRATES: To this royal or political art all the arts. and that they were not spoken either by Euthydemus or Dionysodorus.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  CRITO: Indeed. and Ctesippus was the real answerer. by some one a good deal superior. CRITO: How did that happen. that being the only one which knew how to use what they produce. for if he did say so. and when we thought we were at the end. as alone sitting at the helm of the vessel of state. and I were to ask you a similar question about that. say the same? CRITO: Yes. that they may have been spoken by some superior person: that I heard them I am certain. the kingly art was identified by us with the political. which was always getting away from us. And would not you. CRITO: Ctesippus! nonsense. and a question of this sort was asked: Does the kingly art. indeed. But did you carry the search any further. and then we got into a labyrinth. Socrates? SOCRATES: You shall judge. SOCRATES: Perhaps I may have forgotten. CRITO: Yes. we were like children after larks. Socrates? SOCRATES: I will tell you. But why should I repeat the whole story? At last we came to the kingly art. and which may be described. I should. CRITO: Well. and enquired whether that gave and caused happiness. Here obviously was the very art which we were seeking—the art which is the source of good government. having still to seek as much as ever. then in my opinion he needs neither Euthydemus nor any one else to be his instructor. my good Crito. Crito. 226    . I dare say. seemed to render up the supremacy. Socrates. you would say—it produces health? CRITO: I should. and utilizing them. no indeed. Crito. CRITO: And were you not right. having this supreme authority. in the language of Aeschylus. I am. And we cut a poor figure. and did you find the art which you were seeking? SOCRATES: Find! my dear sir. SOCRATES: All I know is that I heard these words. came out again at the beginning. if you are willing to hear what followed. including the art of the general. SOCRATES: And what would you say that the kingly art does? If medicine were supposed to have supreme authority over the subordinate arts. was the answer.

and impart knowledge to us. what then can it be. Crito. that was what you were saying.—carpentering. SOCRATES: And surely it ought to do us some good? CRITO: Certainly. that was the conclusion at which you had arrived. Socrates. But at any rate you know that if this is the art which we were seeking. SOCRATES: All the other results of politics. CRITO: Yes. Socrates? SOCRATES: What. but the knowledge of itself. and what are we to do with it? For it is not the source of any works which are neither good nor evil. CRITO: Yes. tranquillity. freedom. SOCRATES: And Cleinias and I had arrived at the conclusion that knowledge of some kind is the only good. and they are many. and make us happy. wealth. it ought to be useful. Socrates.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  SOCRATES: And what of your own art of husbandry. were neither good nor evil in themselves. Crito. SOCRATES: And what does the kingly art do when invested with supreme power? Perhaps you may not be ready with an answer? CRITO: Indeed I am not. CRITO: Certainly. Socrates. SOCRATES: And does the kingly art make men wise and good? CRITO: Why not. but the political science ought to make us wise. supposing that to have supreme authority over the subject arts—what does that do? Does it not supply us with the fruits of the earth? CRITO: Yes. 227    . according to your report of the conversation. SOCRATES: No more were we. and what are we to do with it? Shall we say. and cobbling. and in every respect? and teach them all the arts. and the rest of them? CRITO: I think not. and gives no knowledge. all men. if that is the science which is likely to do us good. SOCRATES: But then what is this knowledge. as for example. that it is the knowledge by which we are to make other men good? CRITO: By all means.

and that these others will make others again. I said. Then tell me. you are knowing. of the knowledge which I have. indeed. at my time of life that will be more agreeable than having to learn. CRITO: And did Euthydemus show you this knowledge? SOCRATES: Yes. they were our Castor and Pollux. Socrates. Crito. And did you not say that you knew something? I did. for we have put aside the results of politics. without ever determining in what they are to be good. he said. if you are knowing. do you know anything? Yes. If you know. SOCRATES: Thereupon. CRITO: Indeed. I lifted up my voice. if not farther. I know many things. That makes no difference. I said. know all things? Certainly not. as they are called. I said. old song over again. This is the old. he said: And would you admit that anything is what it is. and we are just as far as ever. he proceeded in a lofty strain to the following effect: Would you rather. and earnestly entreated and called upon the strangers to save me and the youth from the whirlpool of the argument.—and must you not. Socrates. I said. 228    . but not anything of much importance. from the knowledge of the art or science of happiness. Then I would much rather that you should prove me to have such a knowledge. you do appear to have got into a great perplexity. seeing that I was on the point of shipwreck. That will do. and they should be serious. are you blessed with such a power as this? Indeed I am.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  SOCRATES: And in what will they be good and useful? Shall we repeat that they will make others good. and show us in sober earnest what that knowledge was which would enable us to pass the rest of our lives in happiness. Certainly. that I should show you this knowledge about which you have been doubting. and at the same time is not what it is? Certainly not. said he. or shall I prove that you already have it? What. for there are many other things which I do not know.

I said. and therefore you are and are not at the same time. Still you are not knowing. he said. What do you mean. do you not know some things. you know all things. and be at the same time knowing and not knowing. Socrates. And do you really and truly know all things. and in reference to the same things. you are not knowing. Euthydemus. he replied. I said. we do know something. and you said just now that you were knowing. but. said Dionysodorus. And do you know stitching? 229    . of that which I do not know. A pretty clatter. Dionysodorus. They all know all things. and that is as true of you as of us. I said. since I know one thing. indeed. do you know nothing? Nay. as men say. that I know all. you two. what a wonderful thing. if they know one thing. then I must have the knowledge for which we are seeking— May I assume this to be your ingenious notion? Out of your own mouth. friend. Then. Tell me. and what a great blessing! And do all other men know all things or nothing? Certainly. Well. has that never happened to you? for if I am only in the same case with you and our beloved Dionysodorus. and if I know all things. if you know anything? Yes. hardly have I got you to that point. and not know others. he replied. this of yours! and will you explain how I possess that knowledge for which we were seeking? Do you mean to say that the same thing cannot be and also not be. and therefore. Yes.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  And if you do not know. he said. they cannot know some things. I said. and not know others? Certainly not. he said. you are convicted. I said. Euthydemus. Then what is the inference? I said. I cannot complain. Socrates. O. I see now that you are in earnest. for I cannot be knowing and not knowing at the same time. including carpentering and leather-cutting? Certainly. all things. O heavens. he replied. then.

he would ask them if they knew the foulest things. he said. we do. And Euthydemus said: You are incredulous. Yes. But if you will answer. And can he vault among swords. Will you not take our word that we know all things? Certainly not. 230    .The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Yes. no question in fact was too bad for him. too. if I did not know you to be wise men. For at last Ctesippus began to throw off all restraint. At last. by the gods. and you are found to be right. we will believe the rest. that they knew all things. did you think we should say No to that? By Zeus. and they would only say in answer to each of his questions. And do you know things such as the numbers of the stars and of the sand? Certainly. Certainly. he said. and asked Euthydemus whether Dionysodorus could dance. and at your birth? They both said that they did. he replied. I will make you confess to similar marvels. Crito. Will you tell me how many teeth Euthydemus has? and Euthydemus shall tell how many teeth you have. if you tell us the number. I too was carried away by my incredulity. They fancied that Ctesippus was making game of them. And did you always know this? Always. This we could not believe. What proof shall I give you? he said. and then we shall know that you are speak the truth. interrupting. came rushing on his blows. said Ctesippus. I said. When you were children. and cobbling. at his age? has he got to such a height of skill as that? He can do anything. and they. Socrates. and turn upon a wheel. and we count them. and they refused. said Ctesippus: you must further tell us this one thing. and I might well be incredulous. and fearlessly replied that they did. he said. I only wish that you would give me some proof which would enable me to know whether you speak truly. like wild boars.

and I will answer. he said. but then what am I to do? for I will do whatever you bid. You will not answer. there is nothing that I should like better than to be self-convicted of this. Socrates. Answer then. I reflected that I had better let him have his way. will that please you—if I answer what is not to the point? That will please me very well. because you will be prating. or with something else? With what I know. when he wanted to catch me in his springes of words. when I do not know what you are asking. you surely have some notion of my meaning. as I imagine. So I said: You are a far better dialectician than myself. or with nothing. And I remembered that Connus was always angry with me when I opposed him. Well. I said. and then he neglected me. he said. of asking a question when you are asked one? Well. again. answer according to your notion of my meaning. for if I am really a wise man. but will not please you equally well. he said. which I never knew before. 231    . as he might think me a blockhead. and you will prove to me that I know and have always known all things. Yes. I replied. I said. because he thought that I was stupid. Yes. Euthydemus. Ask. and as I was intending to go to Euthydemus as a pupil. Why. you tell me to answer nevertheless. Answer then. and I suppose that you mean with my soul? Are you not ashamed. I said. and therefore do as you say. or nothing? Something. Now I saw that he was getting angry with me for drawing distinctions. but if the question which you ask in one sense is understood and answered by me in another. I said. whether you know what you know with something. and are an ancient. nothing in life would be a greater gain to me. he said. I said. Do you know something. ask your questions once more. and not to ask again. I certainly will not answer unless I understand you. for I have never made a profession of the art. then. I said. Socrates. and refuse to take me.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Well. And do you know with what you know. and I will answer. according to your view of the meaning.

The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Yes. and some things with something else. when I know. You. I said. if my qualification implied in the words 'that I know' is not allowed to stand. perhaps. you knew all things. The man will answer more than the question. Will you not cease adding to your answers? My fear is that this word 'always' may get us into trouble. or sometimes one thing. I suppose that is true. the addition is superfluous. I said. and before the heaven and earth existed. if I am of the mind to make you. for I did not ask you. 232    . And is that something. Through ignorance I have answered too much. take nothing away. he said. that is to say. or. do you know some things with this. There again. I replied. but certainly not us. since I am required to withdraw the words 'when I know. for you confess that you know all things. I said.' Nay. I will take away the words 'that I know. and so I do know all things. And now I will answer simply that I always know what I know with something. And have you not admitted that you always know all things with that which you know. or do you know all things with this? All that I know. I know with my soul. then.' You always know with this. and sometimes another thing? Always. when you were a child. I replied. and I swear that you shall always continue to know all things. you may add on whatever you like. he said. and before you were born. And now. if you did not know all things? Quite impossible. I know with this. and at your birth. always knowing. with what you know. And now answer: Do you always know with this? Always. if you always know them. Socrates. and when you were growing up. whether you make the addition of 'when you know them' or not? for you have acknowledged that you have always and at once known all things. I desire no favours of you. he said. I know with this. but whether you know with something. but I hope that you will forgive me. he rejoined. Well. always the same. but let me ask: Would you be able to know all things. Again I replied.

Then. you know that. am I the brother of Euthydemus? Thereupon I said. reverend Euthydemus. he will be proved not to know. such a lesson you might at least allow me to learn. but the question is. What do you think. Dionysodorus blushed. I turned to the other. both of you. who ably succoured him. but if my Iolaus. I said. What do I know? That the good are not unjust. to his help. especially when he saw a second monster of a sea-crab. Socrates. and a fortiori I must run away from two. I said. when I am told so by men of your prodigious wisdom—how can I say that I know such things. said Dionysodorus. and yet I a little doubt your power to make good your words unless you have the help of your brother Dionysodorus. who was a she-Sophist. as that the good are unjust. for although in the main I cannot doubt that I really do know all things. I am no Heracles. where did I learn that the good are unjust? Nowhere. You are ruining the argument. do I know that or not? Certainly. will you inform me whether Iolaus was the nephew of Heracles any more than he is yours? 233    . No wonder. who is my brother Patrocles (the statuary). I said. or prevent Euthydemus from proving to me that I know the good to be unjust. said Dionysodorus. if you are really speaking the truth. for I am not a match for one of you. come. and appeared to have newly arrived from a seavoyage. Tell me now. and that I have always known. said Dionysodorus. opening his mouth and biting. he would only make a bad business worse. and had the wit to shoot up many new heads when one of them was cut off.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  But I hope that you will be of that mind. You are running away. and said. my good friend. Please not to interrupt. and then after all he will be knowing and not knowing at the same time. Quite true. then you may do it. and even Heracles could not fight against the Hydra. who was also a Sophist. were to come. I said. Euthydemus. said Euthydemus to Dionysodorus. And now that you have delivered yourself of this strain. replied Dionysodorus in a moment. When the monster was growing troublesome he called Iolaus. and refusing to answer. his nephew. Euthydemus? Does not your omniscient brother appear to you to have made a mistake? What. bearing down upon him from the left. I do not know this.

though I am afraid that you may prove me to be one. And is Patrocles. I said. Then he is and is not your brother. being other than a father. your brother? Yes. he is my half-brother. And so Chaeredemus. and the latter his. and being other than gold. in order to prevent me from learning the wisdom of Euthydemus. I replied. is not a father? I suppose that he is not a father. I said. But can a father be other than a father? or are you the same as a stone? I certainly do not think that I am a stone. and you. you are not gold? Very true. then Sophroniscus. the former was my father. Chaeredemus is not a father. Socrates. he said. he said. Well then. and his father was not my brother Patrocles. is not a father. but Iphicles. I said. said Euthydemus. He is not my father. I said. Not by the same father. Then. being other than a father. Chaeredemus is a father. the son of my mother. and mine was Sophroniscus. for you will insist on asking—that I pretty well know—out of envy. who has a name rather like his. are without a father. taking up the argument.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  I suppose that I had best answer you. I said. For if. Are you not other than a stone? I am. and was the brother of Heracles. and Chaeredemus also? Yes. but the nephew of Heracles. my good man. Dionysodorus. 234    . you are not a stone. he said. And being other than a stone. he said. And was Sophroniscus a father. but not of my father. I can only reply that Iolaus was not my nephew at all. I said. for Chaeredemus was his father. I said. Then answer me.

What. Then he is the same? He is the same. of men only. for it is monstrous to suppose that your father is the father of all. And do you suppose that gold is not gold. said Ctesippus.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Ctesippus. You say that you have a dog.' Euthydemus. too. he said. But he is. Euthydemus. And gudgeons and puppies and pigs are your brothers? And yours too. or of horses and of all other animals? Of all. I did so imagine. If you will answer my questions. is the mother of all? Yes. he replied. here taking up the argument. And your mother. said Dionysodorus. said Euthydemus. he said. and your mother has a progeny of sea-urchins then? Yes. and you had better take care. or that a man is not a man? They are not 'in pari materia. Yes. said Ctesippus. I will soon extract the same admissions from you. I cannot say that I like the connection. but is he only my father. for he is other than my father? Assuredly not. And your papa is a dog? And so is yours. and yours. 235    . he said. our mother too. said Ctesippus. or is he the father of all other men? Of all other men. Do you suppose the same person to be a father and not a father? Certainly. Ctesippus. said: And is not your father in the same case. he replied.

a cartload of hellebore will not be too much for him? Ctesippus said: Quite so. quickly interposing. that is to say. he ought to have as many spears and shields as possible? 236    . and they are very like himself. said Ctesippus. And seeing that in war to have arms is a good thing. when he takes his medicine. And is he not yours? To be sure he is. I should have far more reason to beat yours. he said. Euthydemus. But neither he nor you. And he has puppies? Yes. if you answer. in order that Ctesippus might not get in his word: You beat this dog? Ctesippus said. have any need of much good. what could he have been thinking of when he begat such wise sons? much good has this father of you and your brethren the puppies got out of this wisdom of yours. when wanted. and I only wish that I could beat you instead of him. And the dog is the father of them? Yes. a villain of a one. and the puppies are your brothers. Good. and he is yours. he replied. Ctesippus. I say. must it not be good for him to drink as much as possible. Euthydemus? he said. ergo. Then you beat your father. or to go to war armed rather than unarmed. I certainly saw him and the mother of the puppies come together. Let me ask you one little question more. said Ctesippus.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Yes. since you admit medicine to be good for a man to drink. Indeed I do. That. he is your father. Then he is a father. if you think it good or evil for a man who is sick to drink medicine when he wants it. for tell me now. And yet I know that I am going to be caught in one of your charming puzzles. Ctesippus. if he who drinks is as big as the statue of Delphi. you will discover. Neither I nor any other man. And have you no need. laughing. said Dionysodorus. he said.

And ought not a man then to have gold everywhere and always. and may he not be deemed the happiest of men who has three talents of gold in his belly. and a talent in his pate.' the silent denoting either the speaker or the subject of the speech. And you admit gold to be a good? Certainly. and one spear? I do. Euthydemus. and a stater of gold in either eye? Yes.Here Euthydemus held his peace. and see the inside of them.. and hold their own head in their hands. and what is still more extraordinary. 'things visible and able to see. 237    . he said. Soph. And would you arm Geryon and Briareus in that way? Considering that you and your companion fight in armour. And to have money everywhere and always is a good? Certainly. he replied.] Compare Aristot. 'Whom one knows. cannot be perfectly rendered in English. that he ought to have one shield only. 'the speaking of the silent.' (Greek). and the more the better. and the Scythians reckon those who have gold in their own skulls to be the happiest and bravest of men (that is only another instance of your manner of speaking about the dog and father). and as much as possible in himself. said Ctesippus. Euthydemus. said Ctesippus. [Note: the ambiguity of (Greek). or that which has not? said Euthydemus. he knows.. Either the person knowing or the person known is here affirmed to know.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Very true. Elenchi (Poste's translation):— 'Of ambiguous propositions the following are instances:— 'I hope that you the enemy may slay. I thought that you would have known better. a great good. And you also see that which has the quality of vision? he said. That which has the quality of vision clearly. said Ctesippus. but Dionysodorus returned to the previous answer of Ctesippus and said:— Do you not think that the possession of gold is a good thing? Yes. and do you think. they drink out of their own skulls gilt. And do the Scythians and others see that which has the quality of vision.

the third when the ambiguity arises in the combination of elements that are in themselves unambiguous. But when you speak of stones. And may there not be a silence of the speaker? said Dionysodorus. What can they see? Nothing. Or a speaking of the silent? That is still more impossible. for then the iron bars make a tremendous noise and outcry if they are touched: so that here your wisdom is strangely mistaken. that one pillar sees. I do. that you are: you are holding a stone: ergo.' Yes. iron bars. to tell me how you can be silent when speaking (I thought that Ctesippus was put upon his mettle because Cleinias was present). may perhaps imagine that they do not see. however. as in "knowing letters. 'Is a speaking of the silent possible? "The silent" denotes either the speaker are the subject of speech. said Euthydemus. 'There are three kinds of ambiguity of term or proposition. please. said Ctesippus. and that if it be possible to speak and say nothing—you are doing so. The first is when there is an equal linguistic propriety in several interpretations.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  'What one sees. he said. Then do you see our garments? Yes. Impossible. or that they themselves have knowledge. Euthydemus. the second when one is improper but customary. and certainly. but you. said Ctesippus. you do seem to me to have been caught napping when you were not asleep. When you are silent. wood. that one sees: one sees a pillar: ergo. do you not speak of the silent? Not when I pass a smithy. a stone you are. my sweet man. is there not a silence of all things? 238    . Then our garments have the quality of vision. Such are the modes in which propositions and terms may be ambiguous. 'What you ARE holding. They can see to any extent." "Knowing" and "letters" are perhaps separately unambiguous. but in combination may imply either that the letters are known.

for there has been no wisdom like theirs in our time. but I cannot help thinking that the rogue must have picked up this answer from them. but the question which I ask is whether all things are silent or speak? Neither and both. I have seen many. at such solemn and beautiful things? Why. because Dionysodorus is present with you? God forbid. I and all the world are in a difficulty about the non-existent. Euthydemus. Were they other than the beautiful. said Ctesippus. has got into a dilemma. I replied. then all things are not silent? Certainly not. did you ever see a beautiful thing? Yes. And are you an ox because an ox is present with you. Here Ctesippus. he replied. Is not the honourable honourable and the base base? 239    . as his manner was.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Yes. For I was beginning to imitate their skill. That brother of yours. What. But how. will one thing be another? Is that your difficulty? I said. by reason of one thing being present with another. those which speak. I am sure that you will be 'non-plussed' at that answer. This delighted Cleinias. he said. said Dionysodorus. on which my heart was set. he said. my good friend. all is over with him. but they have beauty present with each of them. Cleinias. or the same as the beautiful? Now I was in a great quandary at having to answer this question. They are not the same as absolute beauty. whose laughter made Ctesippus ten times as uproarious. Of course. Dionysodorus. Then. said Ctesippus. Socrates. burst into a roar of laughter. said Euthydemus. Dionysodorus? I said. I said. What do you mean. Why do you laugh. said Dionysodorus. or are you Dionysodorus. then the speaking are silent. I replied. Nay. quickly interposing. and I thought that I was rightly served for having opened my mouth at all: I said however. do they all speak? Yes. But if speaking things are included in all things. he said.

and the other other. boil. Dionysodorus. for surely the other is not the same. whose business is hammering? The smith's. Socrates. but you must not be too hard upon me. he would do their business. And the business of the cook is to cut up and skin. do you think that you know what is your own? Yes. in the first place. I said. and to do the dialectician's business excellently well. said he. that you must have intentionally missed the last question. and Euthydemus is the top. subject to your correction.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  That. he said. And who has to kill and skin and mince and boil and roast? The cook. if you will allow me. And if a man does his business he does rightly? Certainly. I said. this is the crown of wisdom. can I ever hope to have such wisdom of my own? And would you be able. for in general you and your brother seem to me to be good workmen in your own department. I have admitted that. Poseidon. I do. But I think. for you are the bottom. And whose the making of pots? The potter's. and if he were to hammer the smith. he said. What. Then if some one were to kill. I said. 240    . And do you please? Yes. he said. roast the cook. and make a pot of the potter. is the business of a good workman? tell me. of all my wisdom. mince. And you will admit that the same is the same. to recognize this wisdom when it has become your own? Certainly. you have admitted that? Yes. I should imagine that even a child will hardly deny the other to be other. What. he would do his business. is as I please.

domestic and ancestral. who gives a desperate twist that he may get away. if you please. I said (for I was certain that something good would come out of the questions. an ancestral Apollo there is. what is going to happen to me? 241    . I have not. But the name of ancestral Zeus is unknown to us. you are not an Athenian at all if you have no ancestral gods or temples. and Athene. I said. No matter. in the way of religion I have altars and temples. such things. whether colonists or citizens of Athens. which I was impatient to hear). he said. I said. I said. he said. Certainly. an ancestral Zeus? That name. and an Athene guardian of the phratry. and you would mean by animals living beings? Yes. like a person caught in a net. do not be rough. to be your own. did you not admit that? I did. he said: Tell me. and a family Zeus. is not to be found among the Ionians. You agree then. And they are your gods. anticipating the final move. and which you are able to use as you would desire. and all that other Athenians have. who is the father of Ion. in which he seemed to be lost in the contemplation of something great. good words. yes. Yes.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Is not that which you would deem your own. he said. my lords and ancestors. he said. Socrates. he said. and such things only are mine. that which you have in your own power. I said: No. Dionysodorus. said Dionysodorus. and that which you could not give or sell or sacrifice you would think not to be in your own power? Yes. after a pause. I said. or any other mark of gentility. that those animals only are yours with which you have the power to do all these things which I was just naming? I agree. At any rate they are yours. Dionysodorus. What a miserable man you must be then. an ox or a sheep—would you not think that which you could sell and give and sacrifice to any god whom you pleased. Yes. for you admit that you have Apollo. for example. Then. I said. he said. Nay. And have not other Athenians. I said. have you an ancestral Zeus? Here. and a Zeus guardian of the phratry. Zeus.

the pair are invincible. but there is nothing that I admire more than your magnanimous disregard of any opinion—whether of the many. Poseidon. Euthydemus and Dionysodorus. Well then. as you pleased? I did admit that. I will have no more of them. or is Heracles a Bravo? said Dionysodorus. Ctesippus came to the rescue. white or black. my dear Crito.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  And are not these gods animals? for you admit that all things which have life are animals. that they would be more ashamed of employing them in the refutation of others than of being refuted by them. in which I acknowledged that I had never seen the like of their wisdom. I was their devoted servant. Bravo. enabled you to acquire this great perfection in such a short time? There is much. whether of good and evil. there is a danger that men may undervalue an art which they have so easy an opportunity of acquiring. I observed that Ctesippus learned to imitate you in no time. and fell to praising and admiring of them. said Ctesippus. Then are they not animals? They are animals. not excepting your own. and I have no way of escape. the result of which is that. what awful distinctions. if the 242    . I said. there was universal applause of the speakers and their words. that in a very short time it can be imparted to any one. the majority of mankind are so ignorant of their value. as you say. that I made a speech. Euthydemus. I said. as you would with other animals? At this I was quite struck dumb. can you sell them or give them away or do what you will with them. I must further express my approval of your kind and public-spirited denial of all differences. Bravo Heracles. and thus all ground of offence is taken away. said he. seeming to sympathize in their joy. Heracles. And I do verily believe that there are few who are like you. said he. for hitherto their partisans only had cheered at each successive hit. to admire in your words. which graciously follows the example of others. And you admitted that of animals those are yours which you could give away or sell or offer in sacrifice. Now this quickness of attainment is an excellent thing. and lay prostrate. if you admit that Zeus and the other gods are yours. What marvellous dexterity of wit. and who would approve of such arguments. I said. or any other. brave words. Crito. To such a pitch was I affected myself. and have not these gods life? They have life. But what appears to me to be more than all is. but now the whole company shouted with delight until the columns of the Lyceum returned the sound. every mouth is sewn up. that this art and invention of yours has been so admirably contrived by you. and what with laughing and clapping of hands and rejoicings the two men were quite overpowered. but at the same time I would advise you not to have any more public entertainments. indeed. Then. or of the grave and reverend seigniors—you regard only those who are like yourselves. the exhibition would be best of all.

Socrates.' which.' 'And what did you think of them?' I said. Crito. Crito.—What manner of man was he who came up to you and censured philosophy. but as to the impropriety of holding a public discussion with such men. I hope that you will come to them with me. no one will dispute their title to the palm of wisdom. indeed.' Now censure of the pursuit. he is one of an amphibious class. and after a few more words had passed between us we went away. 'are you giving no attention to these wise men?' 'No. Crito. SOCRATES: O Crito. and making much ado about nothing. that the study itself and the men themselves are utterly mean and ridiculous. and I think that if you had been present you would have been ashamed of your friend—his conduct was so very strange in placing himself at the mercy of men who care not what they say. yet I fear that I am not like-minded with Euthydemus. no age or want of capacity is an impediment. they are marvellous men. I confess that. SOCRATES: Now I understand. although they are apt to be mauled by 243    . Socrates. whom I was on the point of mentioning—one of those whom Prodicus describes as on the border-ground between philosophers and statesmen—they think that they are the wisest of all men. but they say that he knows the business. and is a clever man. And though I may appear ridiculous in venturing to advise you. for that they are themselves really the wisest. but one of the other sort.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  discussion were confined to your two selves. there.' is also the cheapest. who makes the speeches with which they do battle? CRITO: He was certainly not an orator. And these. he was in the right.—you should be careful of this. and composes wonderful speeches. CRITO: Truly. but what was I going to say? First of all let me know. 'philosophy is a charming thing. and that they are generally esteemed the wisest. nothing but the rivalry of the philosophers stands in their way.' 'Charming!' he said.—that the learning of their art did not at all interfere with the business of money-making. since they say that they are able to teach any one who will give them money.' I said. and fasten upon every word.' said he to me. as Pindar says. as I was telling you. but if there must be an audience. or an instructor of orators. are supposed to be the most eminent professors of their time. And now I have only to request that you will receive Cleinias and me among your pupils. in my opinion. Such was the discussion. 'What did I think of them?' he said:—'theirs was the sort of discourse which anybody might hear from men who were playing the fool. you will also bid your disciples discourse with no man but you and themselves. 'Crito. is the 'best of all things. would rather be refuted by such arguments than use them in refutation of others. appears to me to be undeserved. and I doubt whether he had ever been into court. as you were saying. though I am curious and ready to learn.' That was the expression which he used. let him only be present who is willing to pay a handsome fee.—and if you are wise. 'what simplicity! philosophy is nought.' 'You would have heard something worth hearing if you had. and they are of the opinion that if they can prove the philosophers to be good for nothing. was he an orator who himself practises in the courts.' 'What was that?' I said.' I said to him. whether coming from him or from others. who. 'Surely. for your especial benefit. 'I could not get within hearing of them—there was such a crowd. and 'water. 'You would have heard the greatest masters of the art of rhetoric discoursing. And I must repeat one thing which they said. I think that you may as well hear what was said to me by a man of very considerable pretensions—he was a professor of legal oratory—who came away from you while I was walking up and down. But the truth is. For only what is rare is valuable.

that is very true. then they are talking nonsense. but the truth is. and they participate in both. Only in the case when the two component elements which do not tend to the same end are evil is the participant better than either. when I contemplate any of those who pretend to educate others. when I hear you talk. and participate in both of them—if one of these two things is good and the other evil. I am amazed. for they have a certain amount of philosophy. I cannot help thinking. This opinion which they entertain of their own wisdom is very natural. and a certain amount of political wisdom. noble arts? CRITO: Certainly they are. only on the supposition that they are both evil could there be any truth in what they say. 244    . there is reason in what they say. and then about heaping up money for them—and yet taking no care about their education. Now. CRITO: I have often told you. for they are worse than either. and the good are few and beyond all price: for example. To me. I do not think that they will admit that their two pursuits are either wholly or partly evil. Critobulus. in my judgment. they all seem to be such outrageous beings: so that I do not know how I can advise the youth to study philosophy. For all persons or things. for every man ought to be loved who says and manfully pursues and works out anything which is at all like wisdom: at the same time we shall do well to see them as they really are. about marrying a wife of good family to be the mother of them. but if they are in a mean between two good things which do not tend to the same end. they cannot be made to understand the nature of intermediates. is getting on. and so they keep out of the way of all risks and conflicts and reap the fruits of their wisdom. What am I to do with them? There is no hurry about the younger one. who is only a child. SOCRATES: Dear Crito. are not gymnastic and rhetoric and money-making and the art of the general. if the one be good and the other evil. Socrates? There is certainly something specious in that notion of theirs. but the other. they fall short of either of their component elements in the attainment of their ends. SOCRATES: Yes. that these philosopher-politicians who aim at both fall short of both in the attainment of their respective ends. that I am in a constant difficulty about my two sons. CRITO: What do you say of them. and do you not see that in each of these arts the many are ridiculous performers? CRITO: Yes. and are in a mean between them. and are really third. that there is a sort of madness in many of our anxieties about our children:—in the first place. if I am to confess the truth. which are intermediate between two other things. There is no need. But then again. for they argue that they have just enough of both. but tend to different ends. indeed. are better than the one and worse than the other. they are better than the one and worse than the other. when they get hold of them in conversation. to be angry at this ambition of theirs—which may be forgiven. or. although they would like to stand first.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  Euthydemus and his friends. there is more speciousness than truth. Crito. Socrates. if philosophy and political action are both good. and needs some one who will improve him. however. SOCRATES: Well. do you not know that in every profession the inferior sort are numerous and good for nothing.

and be of good cheer. and do not mind whether the teachers of philosophy are good or bad. 245    . and if she be evil seek to turn away all men from her. and not your sons only. but if she be what I believe that she is. Crito. but think only of philosophy herself. you and your house. Try and examine her well and truly. as the saying is.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthydemus  SOCRATES: And will you on this account shun all these pursuits yourself and refuse to allow them to your son? CRITO: That would not be reasonable. SOCRATES: Do you then be reasonable. Socrates. then follow her and serve her.

give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  The Project Gutenberg EBook of Euthyphro. by Plato This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.org Title: Euthyphro Author: Plato Translator: Benjamin Jowett Release Date: November 23. and David Widger EUTHYPHRO By Plato Translated by Benjamin Jowett 246    . You may copy it. 2008 [EBook #1642] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK EUTHYPHRO *** Produced by Sue Asscher.gutenberg.

An incident which may perhaps really have occurred in the family of Euthyphro. who.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  INTRODUCTION. But before the trial begins. But Socrates would like first of all to have a more satisfactory answer to the question. about good and evil. he thinks that he cannot do better than learn of Euthyphro (who will be admitted by everybody. and as he is going to be tried for impiety himself. In the Euthyphro.g.) Both have legal business in hand. 'What is piety?' 'Doing as I do. and Euthyphro too is plaintiff in an action for murder. but not equally pleasing to Cronos or Uranus (who suffered at the hands of their sons). and impiety is what is not dear to them. and convince them of ignorance in that very matter touching which Socrates is accused. it is easier to do men harm than to do them good. to be an unimpeachable authority) what piety is. which have no fixed rule. What then is piety? Euthyphro. and what is impiety. that 'Piety is what is dear to the gods. and the same action may be both pious and impious.' But may there not be differences of opinion. which he has brought against his own father. doing as the gods do—as Zeus did to Cronos. And therefore what may be dear to one god may not be dear to another. In the Meno. Socrates has a dislike to these tales of mythology. but can hardly be regarded as a general definition. and these are precisely the sort of differences which give rise to quarrels. is very willing to undertake all the responsibility. Socrates is awaiting his trial for impiety. a learned Athenian diviner and soothsayer. so also among the gods? Especially. (Compare Theaet.' may be a single instance of piety. This Euthyphro and Socrates are represented as meeting in the porch of the King Archon. including the judges.' and Socrates was anticipating another opportunity of talking with him. and he fancies that this dislike of his may be the reason why he is charged with impiety. Anytus had parted from Socrates with the significant words: 'That in any city. and Cronos to Uranus. your chastisement of your father. Euthyphro. Euthyphro replies. Socrates is defendant in a suit for impiety which Meletus has brought against him (it is remarked by the way that he is not a likely man himself to have brought a suit against another). Socrates is confident that before he could have undertaken the responsibility of such a prosecution. charging a father with murder. replies: That piety is doing as I do. Before the messenger came back the criminal had died from hunger and exposure. The guilty person was bound and thrown into a ditch by the command of Euthyphro's father. Plato would like to put the world on their trial. may be dear or pleasing to Zeus (who inflicted a similar chastisement on his own father). 'Are they really true?' 'Yes. in the abundance of his knowledge. prosecuting your father (if he is guilty) on a charge of murder. and particularly in the city of Athens. as among men. This is the origin of the charge of murder which Euthyphro brings against his father. who sent to the interpreters of religion at Athens to ask what should be done with him. e.' and Euthyphro will gladly tell Socrates some more of them. The latter has originated in the following manner:—A poor dependant of the family had slain one of their domestic slaves in Naxos. 247    . they are. furnishes the occasion of the discussion. he must have been perfectly informed of the nature of piety and impiety.

but true to his own character. horses. But how do pious or holy acts make the gods any better? Euthyphro explains that he means by pious acts. Here then appears to be a contradiction. says Socrates. who is desirous of stimulating the indolent intelligence of Euthyphro.' 'Is all the just pious?' 'No. Yes. But when the popular conceptions of them have been overthrown.—Euthyphro has been giving an attribute or accident of piety only. Yes. To what end do we serve the gods. remains unshaken in his conviction that he must know the nature of piety. and this is the point which has been already disproved. in short. the physician. and what they all hate is impious. If all the circumstances of the case are considered. But Euthyphro is in a hurry and cannot stay. he prepares the way for an answer to the question which he has raised. and he would rather say simply that piety is knowing how to please the gods in word and deed. that it is loved by them because it is dear to them. But although they are the givers of all good. who has communicated his art to his descendants. and what do we help them to accomplish? Euthyphro replies. And Socrates' last hope of knowing the nature of piety before he is prosecuted for impiety has disappeared. acts of service or ministration. etc. Socrates. and therefore that which is dear to the gods is dear to the gods because it is first loved of them.g. but you are assuming the point at issue. and not the essence. rejoins Socrates. which is equivalent to saying. e. Socrates proceeds to analyze the new form of the definition. or that all the gods are agreed in approving of our prosecution of him? And must you not allow that what is hated by one god may be liked by another? Waiving this last. loved. implies that in some way they are made better. raises the question in another manner: 'Is all the pious just?' 'Yes. Euthyphro acknowledges himself that his explanations seem to walk away or go round in a circle. precedes the state of being carried. etc. The Euthyphro is manifestly designed to contrast the real nature of piety and impiety with the popular conceptions of them. As in the Euthydemus the irony is carried on to the end. Socrates proposes to amend the definition. Socrates does not offer any definition of his own: as in the Laches and Lysis. But the pious or holy is loved by the gods because it is pious or holy. as to the propriety of punishing a murderer.' 'Then what part of justice is piety?' Euthyphro replies that piety is that part of justice which 'attends' to the gods. the act of being carried. however. although weary of the subterfuges and evasions of Euthyphro. the ancestor of Socrates. as there is another part of justice which 'attends' to men. but we give them honour. how can we give them any good in return? 'Nay. But what is the meaning of 'attending' to the gods? The word 'attending. by prayers and sacrifices. He is still hoping that he will condescend to instruct him. Socrates. a mode of doing business between gods and men.' To this Euthyphro agrees. and say that 'what all the gods love is pious. loved.. are you able to show that your father was guilty of murder. piety is 'a science of asking and giving'— asking what we want and giving what they want. In other words. that all these difficult questions cannot be resolved in a short time. like the moving figures of Daedalus. refuses to answer himself.' when applied to dogs. not loved of them because it is dear to them. but the ministrations of the husbandman. and the builder have an end.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  Euthyphro answers that there is no difference of opinion. either among gods or men. when they know him to be a murderer. and men. or he would never have prosecuted his old father. 248    . but what is pleasing or dear to them.' Then we give them not what is beneficial. He shows that in other cases the act precedes the state.

and therefore piety and the state of being loved are different. positiveness. His failure to apprehend an argument may be compared to a similar defect which is observable in the rhapsode Ion. He has the conceit and self-confidence of a Sophist. 'The Athenians do not care about any man being thought wise until he begins to make other men wise. But he is not a bad man. at any rate were not to be appealed to as authorities in religion. The chief difference between us and them is. who has accidentally been guilty of homicide. if not banished from the state. he is incapable either of framing a general definition or of following the course of an argument. Moreover he is the enemy of Meletus. and then for some reason or other they are angry:' which may be said to be the rule of popular toleration in most other countries. e. Greek mythology hardly admitted of the distinction between accidental homicide and murder: that the pollution of blood was the same in both cases is also the feeling of the Athenian diviner. and not at Athens only. whose familiar sign he recognizes with interest. 'Piety is that which is loved of the gods. These are the very tales which Socrates cannot abide. by whose 'prancing steeds' Socrates in the Cratylus is carried away.' suggested by the way. The act is prior to the state (as in Aristotle the energeia precedes the dunamis). no doubt that he is right in prosecuting his father has ever entered into his mind. or that other nations. were equally serious in their religious beliefs and difficulties. Through such subtleties of dialectic Socrates is working his way into a deeper region of thought and feeling. the Greeks in the time of Socrates. corresponding respectively to the adjective (philon) and the participle (philoumenon). as Heracleitus more rudely proposed. whoever may be the criminal. narrowness. is availing himself of the popular dislike to innovations in religion in order to injure Socrates. In the course of the argument Socrates remarks that the controversial nature of morals and religion arises out of the difficulty of verifying them. or whipped out of the assembly.' is shipwrecked on a refined distinction between the state and the act. 249    . 'Why Socrates was put to death. Thus begins the contrast between the religion of the letter. He is quite sincere in his prosecution of his father. that they were slowly learning what we are in process of forgetting. and not the essence of piety. as he says. are characteristic of his priestly office. and to many others who do not say what they think with equal frankness. that Homer and Hesiod. which philosophy was teaching. has branded him with the reputation of impiety. and is not wholly free from blame. Though unable to follow him he is very willing to be led by him. and eagerly catches at any suggestion which saves him from the trouble of thinking. and his dislike of them. But piety or holiness is preceded by the act of being pious. He had not as yet learned the lesson. The next definition. if he be the same person. at the same time he is amusingly confident that he has weapons in his own armoury which would be more than a match for him. or rather perhaps to the participle and the verb (philoumenon and phileitai).g. one-sidedness. as the author of a philosophy of names. not by the act of being loved. For men are not easily persuaded that any other religion is better than their own. and he is friendly to Socrates. as he suspects. Here is one answer to the question. or of the narrow and unenlightened conscience. 'Piety is doing as I do' is the idea of religion which first occurs to him.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  Euthyphro is a religionist. He means to say that the words 'loved of the gods' express an attribute only. Another is conveyed in the words. and he is ready to defend his conduct by the examples of the gods. Like a Sophist too. His wrong-headedness. and the state of being loved is preceded by the act of being loved. and is elsewhere spoken of. who. and the higher notion of religion which Socrates vainly endeavours to elicit from him. To purge away the crime appears to him in the light of a duty. There is no measure or standard to which they can be referred.

The virtue of piety has been already mentioned as one of five in the Protagoras. this was a lesson which the soothsayer could not have been made to understand. that piety is an affair of business.' Thus far Socrates has proceeded in placing religion on a moral foundation. The subtle connection with the Apology and the Crito. the holding back of the conclusion. as in the Charmides. (3) the defence of Socrates. Protagoras. which the great poets Aeschylus. EUTHYPHRO PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Socrates. He is seeking to realize the harmony of religion and morality. but is not reckoned among the four cardinal virtues of Republic IV.' he replies. and still less from arguments respecting the suitableness of this little work to aid Socrates at the time of his trial or the reverse. Republic. for I cannot believe that you are the prosecutor of another. and which is the universal want of all men. 'attending upon the gods. EUTHYPHRO: What! I suppose that some one has been prosecuting you. and Pindar had unconsciously anticipated. Laches.) But when we expect him to go on and show that the true service of the gods is the service of the spirit and the co-operation with them in all things true and good. The spirit in which the popular representations of mythology are denounced recalls Republic II. There seem to be altogether three aims or interests in this little Dialogue: (1) the dialectical development of the idea of piety. 250    . and other Dialogues. the inimitable irony. But neither from these nor any other indications of similarity or difference. that of Proteus in the Euthydemus and Io. and which every one must learn for himself.' When further interrogated by Socrates as to the nature of this 'attention to the gods. and will reappear in the Republic and Statesman. can any evidence of the date be obtained. (compare Symp. are reasons for believing that the Euthyphro is a genuine Platonic writing. Sophocles. SCENE: The Porch of the King Archon. and the like. Euthyphro.. The figure of Daedalus has occurred in the Meno. Politicus. To this the soothsayer adds the ceremonial element. Euthyphro. SOCRATES: Certainly not.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  Then follows the third and last definition. Socrates? and what are you doing in the Porch of the King Archon? Surely you cannot be concerned in a suit before the King. impeachment is the word which the Athenians use. Lysis. which is carried to a certain extent only. The kingly science has already appeared in the Euthydemus. he stops short. like myself? SOCRATES: Not in a suit. 'Piety is a part of justice. EUTHYPHRO: Why have you left the Lyceum. the dramatic power and play of the two characters. Socrates points out the anthropomorphism of these notions. a science of giving and asking. the deep insight into the religious world. (2) the antithesis of true and false religion.

they laugh at me and think me a madman. as you say. and long straight hair. and seeing that I am the reverse of a wise man. he makes the young shoots his first care. and he is going to have you up before the court for this. Socrates. and clears away us who are the destroyers of them. He knows that such a charge is readily received by the world. This is only the first step. But in what way does he say that you corrupt the young? SOCRATES: He brings a wonderful accusation against me. Socrates. EUTHYPHRO: I am never likely to try their temper in this way. My opinion is that in attacking you he is simply aiming a blow at the foundation of the state. as I myself know too well. and that I invent new gods and deny the existence of old ones. as you say. Euthyphro. I do not remember him. Socrates. SOCRATES: Their laughter. that the opposite will turn out to be the truth. He says he knows how the youth are corrupted and who are their corruptors.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  EUTHYPHRO: Then some one else has been prosecuting you? SOCRATES: Yes. he has found me out. he means to attack you about the familiar sign which occasionally. which shows a good deal of character in the young man. Of all our political men he is the only one who seems to me to begin in the right way. is not a matter of much consequence. He thinks that you are a neologian. this is the ground of his indictment. and then for some reason or other. But what is the charge which he brings against you? SOCRATES: What is the charge? Well. he will afterwards attend to the elder branches. EUTHYPHRO: And who is he? SOCRATES: A young man who is little known. For a man may be thought wise. perhaps. and is going to accuse me of corrupting his young friends. but the Athenians. and I hardly know him: his name is Meletus. EUTHYPHRO: No. friend Euthyphro. comes to you. I fancy that he must be a wise man. 251    . and if he goes on as he has begun. with the cultivation of virtue in youth. he will be a very great public benefactor. and we must be brave and go at them. I suspect. Perhaps you may remember his appearance. and he is of the deme of Pitthis. for when I speak in the assembly about divine things. a very serious charge. and for which he is certainly not to be despised. which at first hearing excites surprise: he says that I am a poet or maker of gods. EUTHYPHRO: I hope that he may. do not much trouble themselves about him until he begins to impart his wisdom to others. Yet every word that I say is true. And of this our mother the state is to be the judge. EUTHYPHRO: I understand. like a good husbandman. from jealousy. But they are jealous of us all. they are angry. he has a beak. and a beard which is ill grown. and foretell the future to them. but I rather fear.

SOCRATES: And what is your suit. EUTHYPHRO: Indeed. before he could have seen his way to bring such an action. But I have a benevolent habit of pouring out myself to everybody. Socrates. Now if. they would only laugh at me. A man must be an extraordinary man. SOCRATES: Who is he? EUTHYPHRO: My father. he is not very volatile at his time of life. for you are reserved in your behaviour. Euthyphro? are you the pursuer or the defendant? EUTHYPHRO: I am the pursuer. SOCRATES: By the powers. then your duty is to let 252    . Socrates. has the fugitive wings? EUTHYPHRO: Nay. SOCRATES: Why. EUTHYPHRO: I dare say that the affair will end in nothing. as you say that they laugh at you. if you knowingly associate with the murderer when you ought to clear yourself and him by proceeding against him. for if he had been a stranger you would never have thought of prosecuting him. and I think that I shall win my own. and then what the end will be you soothsayers only can predict. Euthyphro! how little does the common herd know of the nature of right and truth. Socrates. and have made great strides in wisdom. SOCRATES: Your father! my good man? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. for surely the pollution is the same in either case. Socrates. SOCRATES: I suppose that the man whom your father murdered was one of your relatives—clearly he was. and seldom impart your wisdom. and would even pay for a listener.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  SOCRATES: I dare say not. and that you will win your cause. but perhaps they may be in earnest. The real question is whether the murdered man has been justly slain. SOCRATES: Of whom? EUTHYPHRO: You will think me mad when I tell you. SOCRATES: And of what is he accused? EUTHYPHRO: Of murder. If justly. as I was saying. the time might pass gaily enough in the court. he must. and I am afraid that the Athenians may think me too talkative. EUTHYPHRO: I am amused. at your making a distinction between one who is a relation and one who is not a relation.

Now the man who is dead was a poor dependant of mine who worked for us as a field labourer on our farm in Naxos. For such was the effect of cold and hunger and chains upon him. Now this was just what happened. the dead man was but a murderer. my dear friend. and of his old father whom he admonishes and chastises. SOCRATES: Good heavens. And therefore. I cannot do better than repeat this challenge in the court. that before the messenger returned from the diviner. Socrates. And if Meletus refuses to listen to me. I adjure you to tell me the nature of piety and impiety. how little they know what the gods think about piety and impiety. Meanwhile he never attended to him and took no care about him. as I shall say to him. Socrates. he was dead. and not have me into court. you should begin by indicting him who is my teacher. and now. and if you approve of him you ought to approve of me. and thought that no great harm would be done even if he did die. which you said that you knew so well. and that which distinguishes him. having. the court shall have a great deal more to say to him than to me. but his sharp eyes have found me out at once. but if you disapprove. but will go on. What are they? Is not piety in every action always the same? and impiety. then even if the murderer lives under the same roof with you and eats at the same table. that. supposing the circumstances to be as you state them. you are not afraid lest you too may be doing an impious thing in bringing an action against your father? EUTHYPHRO: The best of Euthyphro. and if he attempts to indict me I am mistaken if I do not find a flaw in him. My father bound him hand and foot and threw him into a ditch. For I observe that no one appears to notice you—not even this Meletus. SOCRATES: And I. You. and then sent to Athens to ask of a diviner what he should do with him. again—is it not always the opposite of piety. and of other offences against the gods. but of the old. And my father and family are angry with me for taking the part of the murderer and prosecuting my father. and I ought not to take any notice. Then before the trial with Meletus comes on I shall challenge him. and also the same with itself. but if unjustly. and what is impiety? 253    . and who will be the ruin. I have become your disciple. acknowledge Euthyphro to be a great theologian. is his exact knowledge of all such matters. as he charges me with rash imaginations and innovations in religion. and he has indicted me for impiety. and will not shift the indictment from me to you. Socrates. and sound in his opinions. that is to say. of myself whom he instructs. Euthyphro! and is your knowledge of religion and of things pious and impious so very exact. Which shows. am desirous of becoming your disciple. one notion which includes whatever is impious? EUTHYPHRO: To be sure. for that a son is impious who prosecutes a father.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  the matter alone. EUTHYPHRO: Yes. SOCRATES: And what is piety. Socrates. and that if he did. as impiety. for he regarded him as a murderer. from other men. knowing this. and one day in a fit of drunken passion he got into a quarrel with one of our domestic servants and slew him. Meletus. indeed. and of murder. not of the young. proceed against him. They say that he did not kill him. and say that I have always had a great interest in religious questions. What should I be good for without it? SOCRATES: Rare friend! I think that I cannot do better than be your disciple.

Euthyphro. charging your father with murder. For do not men regard Zeus as the best and most righteous of the gods?—and yet they admit that he bound his father (Cronos) because he wickedly devoured his sons. SOCRATES: No doubt. prosecuting any one who is guilty of murder. But. 254    . and not to prosecute them is impiety. but you would admit that there are many other pious acts? EUTHYPHRO: There are. and the pious pious? EUTHYPHRO: I remember. that is to say. sacrilege. Euthyphro? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. SOCRATES: I dare say. So inconsistent are they in their way of talking when the gods are concerned. SOCRATES: Remember that I did not ask you to give me two or three examples of piety. and that he too had punished his own father (Uranus) for a similar reason. SOCRATES: May not this be the reason. Are all these tales of the gods true. that the impious. and you shall tell me them at some other time when I have leisure. and notably the robe of Athene. of which the world is in ignorance. And yet when I proceed against my father. as you who are well informed about them approve of them. and as you may see represented in the works of great artists? The temples are full of them. And please to consider. but to explain the general idea which makes all pious things to be pious. in a nameless manner. as I was saying. Socrates. ought not to go unpunished. SOCRATES: And do you really believe that the gods fought with one another. Socrates. many other things about the gods which would quite amaze you. a proof which I have already given to others:—of the principle. which you have not as yet given. whoever he may be. I cannot do better than assent to your superior wisdom. that I know nothing about them? Tell me. Socrates. Euthyphro. as the poets say. or of any similar crime—whether he be your father or mother. my friend. to the question. I can tell you. and had dire quarrels. they are angry with me. battles. or whoever he may be—that makes no difference. confessing as I do. for the love of Zeus. whether you really believe that they are true. and things more wonderful still. What is 'piety'? When asked. Doing as you do. and when I am concerned. you only replied. EUTHYPHRO: And what I said was true. and the like. and. what a notable proof I will give you of the truth of my words. What else can I say. which is carried up to the Acropolis at the great Panathenaea. Do you not recollect that there was one idea which made the impious impious. is embroidered with them. Socrates. EUTHYPHRO: Yes. if you would like to hear them. I mean.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  EUTHYPHRO: Piety is doing as I am doing. But just at present I would rather hear from you a more precise answer. why I am charged with impiety—that I cannot away with these stories about the gods? and therefore I suppose that people think me wrong.

although I make no doubt that you will prove the truth of your words. and by which I may measure actions. SOCRATES: And well said? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. whether yours or those of any one else. the gods were admitted to have enmities and hatreds and differences? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. Was not that said? EUTHYPHRO: It was. and impiety is that which is not dear to them. But whether what you say is true or not I cannot as yet tell. SOCRATES: Or suppose that we differ about magnitudes. then. these two being the extreme opposites of one another. That thing or person which is dear to the gods is pious. Euthyphro. and that thing or person which is hateful to the gods is impious. I thought so. my good friend. EUTHYPHRO: Of course. SOCRATES: I should very much like. and then I shall be able to say that such and such an action is pious. is that which is dear to the gods. 255    . you have now given me the sort of answer which I wanted. such another impious. EUTHYPHRO: Piety. then. and let us examine what we are saying. do we not quickly end the differences by measuring? EUTHYPHRO: Very true. EUTHYPHRO: I will tell you. and then I shall have a standard to which I may look. SOCRATES: And we end a controversy about heavy and light by resorting to a weighing machine? EUTHYPHRO: To be sure. it was certainly said. SOCRATES: And further. if you like. SOCRATES: Come.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  SOCRATES: Tell me what is the nature of this idea. differ about a number. that was also said. do differences of this sort make us enemies and set us at variance with one another? Do we not go at once to arithmetic. SOCRATES: Very good. SOCRATES: And what sort of difference creates enmity and anger? Suppose for example that you and I. and put an end to them by a sum? EUTHYPHRO: True. Euthyphro. Socrates.

if there had been no such differences—would there now? EUTHYPHRO: You are quite right.) EUTHYPHRO: Yes. good and evil. and therefore I will suggest that these enmities arise when the matters of difference are the just and unjust. SOCRATES: Then. are of a like nature? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly they are. people regard the same things. just and unjust. and what is acceptable to Hephaestus but unacceptable to Here. SOCRATES: They have differences of opinion. and which therefore make us angry and set us at enmity with one another? I dare say the answer does not occur to you at the moment. Euthyphro. when they occur. about good and evil. For I certainly did not ask you to tell me what action is both pious and impious: but now it would seem that what is loved by the gods is also hated by them.— about these they dispute. Socrates. you and I and all of us quarrel. EUTHYPHRO: Very true. noble Euthyphro.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  SOCRATES: But what differences are there which cannot be thus decided. as you say. SOCRATES: Does not every man love that which he deems noble and just and good. honourable and dishonourable: there would have been no quarrels among them. and about which when we are unable satisfactorily to decide our differences. SOCRATES: Then the same things are hated by the gods and loved by the gods. 256    . SOCRATES: And upon this view the same things. when we do quarrel? (Compare Alcib. some as just and others as unjust. Are not these the points about which men differ. my friend. and hate the opposite of them? EUTHYPHRO: Very true. honourable and dishonourable. Euthyphro. And therefore. and so there arise wars and fightings among them. and are both hateful and dear to them? EUTHYPHRO: True. in thus chastising your father you may very likely be doing what is agreeable to Zeus but disagreeable to Cronos or Uranus. as you say. I remark with surprise that you have not answered the question which I asked. and there may be other gods who have similar differences of opinion. the nature of the differences about which we quarrel is such as you describe. will be pious and also impious? EUTHYPHRO: So I should suppose. SOCRATES: And the quarrels of the gods. SOCRATES: But.

and I will applaud your wisdom as long as I live. they do not. SOCRATES: But do they admit their guilt. but I could make the matter very clear indeed to you. SOCRATES: Well. Socrates. what proof have you that in the opinion of all the gods a servant who is guilty of murder. if they dispute at all. For surely neither God nor man will ever venture to say that the doer of injustice is not to be punished? EUTHYPHRO: That is true. Socrates. SOCRATES: Then they do not argue that the evil-doer should not be punished. and some of them say while others deny that injustice is done among them. and yet say that they ought not to be punished? EUTHYPHRO: No. Is not that true? EUTHYPHRO: Quite true. and there is nothing which they will not do or say in their own defence. by others to be unjust. for my better instruction and information. EUTHYPHRO: It will be a difficult task. if as you assert they quarrel about just and unjust. SOCRATES: Well then. did you ever hear any one arguing that a murderer or any sort of evil-doer ought to be let off? EUTHYPHRO: I should rather say that these are the questions which they are always arguing. SOCRATES: Then there are some things which they do not venture to say and do: for they do not venture to argue that the guilty are to be unpunished. but speaking of men. and which by some is affirmed to be just. but they deny their guilt. SOCRATES: But they join issue about the particulars—gods and men alike. they dispute about some act which is called in question. SOCRATES: And the gods are in the same case. Euthyphro.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  EUTHYPHRO: But I believe. and dies because he is put in chains before he who bound him can learn from the interpreters of the gods what he ought to do with him. dies unjustly. and is put in chains by the master of the dead man. How would you show that all the gods absolutely agree in approving of his act? Prove to me that they do. Euthyphro. but they argue about the fact of who the evil-doer is. 257    . do they not? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. my dear friend Euthyphro. in the main. especially in courts of law: they commit all sorts of crimes. and what he did and when? EUTHYPHRO: True. do tell me. and that on behalf of such an one a son ought to proceed against his father and accuse him of murder. and. that all the gods would be agreed as to the propriety of punishing a murderer: there would be no difference of opinion about that.

and hateful to the gods. I said to myself: 'Well. my good friend. for that which is hateful to the gods has been shown to be also pleasing and dear to them. if you like. Euthyphro. I should say that what all the gods love is pious and holy. Socrates? SOCRATES: Why not! certainly. and what some of them love and others hate is both or neither. impious. or simply to accept the mere statement on our own authority and that of others? What do you say? EUTHYPHRO: We should enquire. or holy because it is beloved of the gods.' And therefore. as far as I am concerned. But whether this admission will greatly assist you in the task of instructing me as you promised. is a matter for you to consider. seeing and being seen. SOCRATES: But they will be sure to listen if they find that you are a good speaker. in a little while. and the opposite which they all hate. SOCRATES: I will endeavour to explain: we. EUTHYPHRO: I do not understand your meaning. speak of carrying and we speak of being carried. that all the gods condemn and abominate such an action. there is no reason why not. and I believe that the statement will stand the test of enquiry. There was a notion that came into my mind while you were speaking. I will suppose. Socrates. I do not ask you to prove this. you mean to say that I am not so quick of apprehension as the judges: for to them you will be sure to prove that the act is unjust. EUTHYPHRO: Yes. The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy. Euthyphro. You know that in all such cases there is a difference. Socrates. But I will amend the definition so far as to say that what all the gods hate is impious. and what if Euthyphro does prove to me that all the gods regarded the death of the serf as unjust. SOCRATES: And is not that which is beloved distinct from that which loves? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. 258    . of leading and being led. Shall this be our definition of piety and impiety? EUTHYPHRO: Why not. Euthyphro. EUTHYPHRO: Yes indeed. SOCRATES: We shall know better.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  SOCRATES: I understand. SOCRATES: Ought we to enquire into the truth of this. at least if they will listen to me. how do I know anything more of the nature of piety and impiety? for granting that this action may be hateful to the gods. still piety and impiety are not adequately defined by these distinctions. and what they love pious or holy. and you know also in what the difference lies? EUTHYPHRO: I think that I understand.

or for some other reason? EUTHYPHRO: No. and my meaning is. neither does it suffer because it is in a state of suffering. It does not become because it is becoming. loved by all the gods? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. Euthyphro. not holy because it is loved? EUTHYPHRO: Yes.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  SOCRATES: Well. that my meaning will be intelligible. SOCRATES: And a thing is not seen because it is visible. visible because it is seen. SOCRATES: And what do you say of piety. SOCRATES: It is loved because it is holy. that is the reason. nor is a thing led because it is in the state of being led. according to your definition. that any state of action or passion implies previous action or passion. EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. Euthyphro: is not piety. and is in a state to be loved of them because it is loved of them? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. And now I think. and not the act the state. but it is in a state of becoming because it becomes. but conversely. and now tell me. SOCRATES: And that which is dear to the gods is loved by them. Do you not agree? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. the state of being loved follows the act of being loved. SOCRATES: Is not that which is loved in some state either of becoming or suffering? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. but it is in a state of suffering because it suffers. but the converse of this. SOCRATES: Because it is pious or holy. or for some other reason? EUTHYPHRO: No. that is the reason. or carried because it is in the state of being carried. SOCRATES: And the same holds as in the previous instances. is that which is carried in this state of carrying because it is carried. 259    . SOCRATES: And the same is true of what is led and of what is seen? EUTHYPHRO: True.

But enough of this. not to be holy because it is loved. then—Is not that which is pious necessarily just? 260    . Tell me. and if I were the sayer or propounder of them. And the beauty of it is. EUTHYPHRO: True. SOCRATES: Your words. but if that which is dear to God is dear to him because loved by him. on whatever ground we rest them. as you affirm. I shall still say that you are the Daedalus who sets arguments in motion. if that which is holy is the same with that which is dear to God. For I would give the wisdom of Daedalus. I move those of other people as well. how to express what I mean. For one (theophiles) is of a kind to be loved cause it is loved. if you please. but you make them move or go round. not loved by them because it is dear to them. nor is that which is holy loved of God. For somehow or other our arguments. but to tell me once more what holiness or piety really is. I will ask you not to hide your treasure. And therefore. EUTHYPHRO: Yes. As I perceive that you are lazy. you might say that my arguments walk away and will not remain fixed where they are placed because I am a descendant of his. seem to turn round and walk away from us. EUTHYPHRO: Nay. for they would never have stirred. that I would rather not. is not holy. to be able to detain them and keep them fixed. then that which is dear to God would have been loved as being dear to God. SOCRATES: But. you must find some other gibe. and the other (osion) is loved because it is of a kind to be loved. show an inclination to be on the move. when I ask you what is the essence of holiness. not I. and is loved because it is holy. and what is impiety? EUTHYPHRO: I really do not know. Socrates? SOCRATES: I mean to say that the holy has been acknowledged by us to be loved of God because it is holy. Socrates. whether dear to the gods or not (for that is a matter about which we will not quarrel). Euthyphro. But now. as you yourself allow. Thus you appear to me. but they are two different things.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  SOCRATES: Then that which is dear to the gods. and I hope that you will not grudge your labour. Socrates. for they certainly. as far as I am concerned. certainly. SOCRATES: Then I must be a greater than Daedalus: for whereas he only made his own inventions to move. since these notions are your own. friend Euthyphro. and not the essence—the attribute of being loved by all the gods. EUTHYPHRO: How do you mean. and that they are quite different from one another. But you still refuse to explain to me the nature of holiness. SOCRATES: But that which is dear to the gods is dear to them because it is loved by them. and the wealth of Tantalus. Euthyphro. then that which is holy would have been holy because loved by him. But now you see that the reverse is the case. to offer an attribute only. I will myself endeavour to show you how you might instruct me in the nature of piety. Euthyphro. are like the handiwork of my ancestor Daedalus.

SOCRATES: And yet I know that you are as much wiser than I am. Please to exert yourself. SOCRATES: I should not say that where there is fear there is also reverence. the abundance of your wisdom makes you lazy. pious? EUTHYPHRO: I do not understand you. EUTHYPHRO: Very true. for instance. revered friend. SOCRATES: Then we are wrong in saying that where there is fear there is also reverence. then. for justice is the more extended notion of which piety is only a part. SOCRATES: But where reverence is. 261    . SOCRATES: That was the sort of question which I meant to raise when I asked whether the just is always the pious. as you are younger. if piety is a part of justice. for there is no real difficulty in understanding me. just as the odd is a part of number.' Now I disagree with this poet. fears and is afraid of an ill reputation. where there is reverence there is also fear. and the like evils. all which is just pious? or. there is fear. I think that you are quite right. for he who has a feeling of reverence and shame about the commission of any action. You will not tell: for where there is fear there is also reverence. But. I suppose that you follow me now? EUTHYPHRO: Quite well. as I was saying. for I am sure that many persons fear poverty and disease. is that which is pious all just. Shall I tell you in what respect? EUTHYPHRO: By all means. if you had asked me what is an even number. I suppose that we should enquire what part? If you had pursued the enquiry in the previous cases. the author and creator of all these things. but I do not perceive that they reverence the objects of their fear. Do you dissent? EUTHYPHRO: No. or the pious always the just.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  EUTHYPHRO: Yes. for fear is a more extended notion. Socrates. SOCRATES: Then. and reverence is a part of fear. and number is a more extended notion than the odd. But there is not always reverence where there is fear. only in part and not all. but that which is just. and whether there may not be justice where there is not piety. SOCRATES: And is. What I mean I may explain by an illustration of what I do not mean. and we should say. EUTHYPHRO: No doubt. The poet (Stasinus) sings— 'Of Zeus.

or indict me for impiety. horses are said to require attention. SOCRATES: In like manner holiness or piety is the art of attending to the gods?—that would be your meaning. SOCRATES: Nor is every one qualified to attend to dogs. EUTHYPHRO: Piety or holiness. SOCRATES: And is not attention always designed for the good or benefit of that to which the attention is given? As in the case of horses. as I am now adequately instructed by you in the nature of piety or holiness. that I may be able to tell Meletus not to do me injustice. you may observe that when attended to by the horseman's art they are benefited and improved. Socrates. 262    . SOCRATES: As the art of the oxherd is the art of attending to oxen? EUTHYPHRO: Very true. are they not? EUTHYPHRO: True. appears to me to be that part of justice which attends to the gods. I should have had no difficulty in replying. SOCRATES: And I should also conceive that the art of the huntsman is the art of attending to dogs? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. SOCRATES: In like manner. Euthyphro? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. SOCRATES: I should suppose that the art of horsemanship is the art of attending to horses? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. I want you to tell me what part of justice is piety or holiness. a number which represents a figure having two equal sides. For instance. and their opposites. Do you not agree? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. yet still there is a little point about which I should like to have further information.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  and what part of number the even is. SOCRATES: That is good. Is it not so? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. but only the huntsman? EUTHYPHRO: True. but only a person skilled in horsemanship. I quite agree. Euthyphro. and not every person is able to attend to them. as there is the other part of justice which attends to men. What is the meaning of 'attention'? For attention can hardly be used in the same sense when applied to the gods as when applied to other things.

and all other things are tended or attended for their good and not for their hurt? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. not for their hurt. SOCRATES: And now tell me. benefit or improve them? Would you say that when you do a holy act you make any of the gods better? EUTHYPHRO: No. EUTHYPHRO: You do me justice. Euthyphro. as you say. SOCRATES: As there is an art which ministers to the house-builder with a view to the building of a house? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. SOCRATES: Good: but I must still ask what is this attention to the gods which is called piety? EUTHYPHRO: It is such. SOCRATES: But for their good? EUTHYPHRO: Of course. which has been defined to be the art of attending to the gods. Socrates. that was certainly not what I meant. EUTHYPHRO: Exactly. no. and the oxen by the art of the oxherd. I asked you the question about the nature of the attention. SOCRATES: I understand—a sort of ministration to the gods. there is an art which ministers to the ship-builder with a view to the attainment of some result? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. SOCRATES: And I. as servants show to their masters. never supposed that you did. about the art which ministers to the gods: what work does that help to accomplish? For you must surely know if. Socrates. that is not the sort of attention which I mean. with a view to the building of a ship. SOCRATES: Medicine is also a sort of ministration or service. you are of all men living the one who is best instructed in religion. SOCRATES: Again.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  SOCRATES: As the dogs are benefited by the huntsman's art. my good friend. Socrates. having in view the attainment of some object—would you not say of health? EUTHYPHRO: I should. 263    . because I thought that you did not. SOCRATES: And does piety or holiness.

SOCRATES: And sacrificing is giving to the gods. Let me simply say that piety or holiness is learning how to please the gods in word and deed. Such piety is the salvation of families and states. Socrates. and can only ask again. what is the nature of this service to the gods? Do you mean that we prefer requests and give gifts to them? 264    . SOCRATES: Many and fair. if I am not mistaken. Now. Would you not say that victory in war is the chief of them? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. SOCRATES: And of the many and fair things done by the gods. piety is a science of asking and giving? EUTHYPHRO: You understand me capitally. but his chief work is the production of food from the earth? EUTHYPHRO: Exactly. But I see plainly that you are not disposed to instruct me— clearly not: else why. if you had chosen. are the works of the husbandman. Socrates. Socrates. Please then to tell me. Socrates. and give my mind to it. my friend. that to learn all these things accurately will be very tiresome. which is the chief or principal one? EUTHYPHRO: I have told you already. the reason is that I am a votary of your science. and what is piety? Do you mean that they are a sort of science of praying and sacrificing? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. as the asker of a question is necessarily dependent on the answerer. Socrates. and therefore nothing which you say will be thrown away upon me. SOCRATES: Tell me then. SOCRATES: I think that you could have answered in much fewer words the chief question which I asked. when we reached the point. just as the impious. and prayer is asking of the gods? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. SOCRATES: Upon this view. whither he leads I must follow. my friend. oh tell me—what is that fair work which the gods do by the help of our ministrations? EUTHYPHRO: Many and fair. and so are those of a general. SOCRATES: Yes. But the chief of them is easily told. by prayers and sacrifices. which is unpleasing to the gods. did you turn aside? Had you only answered me I should have truly learned of you by this time the nature of piety. Euthyphro.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  EUTHYPHRO: And I speak the truth. I do. too. what is the pious. are the works which they do. SOCRATES: Why. then. is their ruin and destruction.

There is no doubt about what they give to us. is an art which gods and men have of doing business with one another? EUTHYPHRO: That is an expression which you may use. If they give everything and we give nothing. SOCRATES: And the right way of giving is to give to them in return what they want of us. however. is pleasing to the gods. comes round to the same point. I wish. for the argument. what is the meaning of gifts which are conferred by us upon the gods? EUTHYPHRO: What else. SOCRATES: Then piety. that must be an affair of business in which we have very greatly the advantage of them. that you would tell me what benefit accrues to the gods from our gifts. for there is no good thing which they do not give. not perceiving that there is another and far greater artist than Daedalus who makes them go round in a circle. as I was just now saying. Socrates. as you will perceive. Euthyphro. I do. Were we not saying that the holy or pious was not the same with that which is loved of the gods? Have you forgotten? EUTHYPHRO: I quite remember. but walking away? Will you accuse me of being the Daedalus who makes them walk away. SOCRATES: But I have no particular liking for anything but the truth. EUTHYPHRO: Very true. EUTHYPHRO: And do you imagine. There would be no meaning in an art which gives to any one that which he does not want. and. but tributes of honour. SOCRATES: Is not the right way of asking to ask of them what we want? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. can you wonder at your words not standing firm. then. Euthyphro. Socrates. that any benefit accrues to the gods from our gifts? SOCRATES: But if not. 265    . if you like. SOCRATES: Then once more the assertion is repeated that piety is dear to the gods? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. and he is yourself. but how we can give any good thing to them in return is far from being equally clear.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  EUTHYPHRO: Yes. SOCRATES: And when you say this. but not beneficial or dear to them? EUTHYPHRO: I should say that nothing could be dearer. what pleases them? SOCRATES: Piety.

and is not this the same as what is dear to them—do you see? EUTHYPHRO: True. EUTHYPHRO: One of the two must be true. my dear Euthyphro. Speak out then. and you would have had too much respect for the opinions of men. I am sure. and will you leave me in despair? I was hoping that you would instruct me in the nature of piety and impiety. and must go now. If you had not certainly known the nature of piety and impiety. and had given up rash innovations and speculations. or. we are wrong now. but to apply your mind to the utmost. EUTHYPHRO: Another time. have charged your aged father with murder. I am confident that you would never. until you tell. and do not hide your knowledge. I would have told him that I had been enlightened by Euthyphro.The Dialogues of Plato: Euthyphro  SOCRATES: And are you not saying that what is loved of the gods is holy. SOCRATES: Then either we were wrong in our former assertion. that you know the nature of piety and impiety. for I am in a hurry. and I entreat you not to scorn me. For. and then I might have cleared myself of Meletus and his indictment. in which I indulged only through ignorance. and that now I am about to lead a better life. Socrates. and tell me the truth. if any man knows. SOCRATES: Alas! my companion. SOCRATES: Then we must begin again and ask. 266    . and therefore I must detain you. therefore. you are he. if we were right then. on behalf of a serf. You would not have run such a risk of doing wrong in the sight of the gods. What is piety? That is an enquiry which I shall never be weary of pursuing as far as in me lies. like Proteus.

The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  The Project Gutenberg EBook of Gorgias. 2008 [EBook #1672] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK GORGIAS *** Produced by Sue Asscher.gutenberg.org Title: Gorgias Author: Plato Translator: Benjamin Jowett Release Date: October 5. You may copy it. give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www. and David Widger GORGIAS by Plato Translated by Benjamin Jowett 267    . by Plato This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.

if at all. and numerous allusions and references are interspersed. Metaphysical conceptions easily pass into one another. Secondly. in the treatment of the soul as well as of the body. and alter the natural form and connection of his thoughts. (Compare Introduction to the Phaedrus. no severe rules of art restrict them. In several of the dialogues of Plato.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  INTRODUCTION. First. or expect to discern them equally in all the dialogues. The speakers have the freedom of conversation. but the use of this is limited. which is simplicity. the beginning is not forgotten at the end. or the intellectual antithesis of knowledge and opinion. imperceptibly blend with the more familiar theories of modern philosophers. These two aspects of life and knowledge appear to be the two leading ideas of the dialogue. being and appearance. We must not neglect this unity. not seeing that what they have gained in generality they have lost in truth and distinctness. we should not bring them into the foreground. The value and use of the method has been hardly. Under the cover of rhetoric higher themes are introduced. An eye for proportion is needed (his own art of measuring) in the study of Plato. will depend on their agreement with the spirit of Plato. The true and the false in individuals and states. are never far off in a Platonic discussion. they have endeavoured to hang the dialogues upon one another by the slightest threads. But whether these new lights are true or only suggestive. There may be some advantage in drawing out a little the main outlines of the building. and may be easily exaggerated. which we can only realize by an effort. and the amount of direct evidence which can be urged in support of them. and sometimes we are inclined to think. they have extended almost indefinitely the scope of each separate dialogue. in this way they think that they have escaped all difficulties. who have applied his method with the most various results. When a theory is running away with us. After making an ineffectual attempt to obtain a sound definition of his art from Gorgias. and recalling us to the indications of the text. We may hardly admit that the moral antithesis of good and pleasure. with one of the dramatis personae in the Theaetetus. and which at last triumphs. are conceived 268    . if not here. To flattery is opposed the true and noble art of life which he who possesses seeks always to impart to others. Under the idea that his dialogues are finished works of art. the argument expands into a general view of the good and evil of man. Yet in the most irregular of the dialogues there is also a certain natural growth or unity. Most great works receive a new light from a new and original mind. Socrates assumes the existence of a universal art of flattery or simulation having several branches:—this is the genus of which rhetoric is only one. but neither must we attempt to confine the Platonic dialogue on the Procrustean bed of a single idea. But because they are in the background. and the simpler notions of antiquity.) Two tendencies seem to have beset the interpreters of Plato in this matter. that the digressions have the greater interest. examined either by him or them. criticism does a friendly office in counselling moderation. the Gorgias has puzzled students of Plato by the appearance of two or more subjects. The mantle of Schleiermacher has descended upon his successors. as well as of other great artists. doubts have arisen among his interpreters as to which of the various subjects discussed in them is the main thesis. we may find a reason for everything. which form the loose connecting links of the whole. We may give Plato too much system. at any rate in another world. and lose the highest characteristic of art. and have thus been led to opposite and contradictory assertions respecting their order and sequence. Like the Phaedrus. and not the highest species.

he must enlighten him upon the great subject of shams or flatteries. that bad men do what they think best. and that law is nothing but the combination of the many weak against the few strong. But he is no match for him in dialectics. and (2) that when a man has done evil he had better be punished than unpunished. he is unwilling to admit that rhetoric can be wholly separated from justice and injustice. but poets. he is still incapable of defining his own art. playful and yet cutting in dealing with the youthful Polus. When Polus finds his favourite art reduced to the level of cookery. to which the three characters of Gorgias. Although they are strange to him. 269    . Like all the Sophists in the dialogues of Plato. Socrates is deferential towards Gorgias. have great power. at least. and he exhorts Callicles to choose the higher. He knows by experience that rhetoric exercises great influence over other men. a higher and a lower—that which makes the people better. Gorgias is the great rhetorician. Like Protagoras. such as the two famous paradoxes of Socrates (paradoxes as they are to the world in general. like despots. they seem to him to follow legitimately from the premises. ideals as they may be more worthily called): (1) that to do is worse than to suffer evil. Thus the second act of the dialogue closes. and the form and manner change with the stages of the argument. musicians. and Callicles respectively correspond. and is treated by Socrates with considerable respect. he expresses his approbation of Socrates' manner of approaching a question. past as well as present. yet he has also a certain dignity. in which there will be no more flattery or disguise. the whole tribe of statesmen. he is quite 'one of Socrates' sort. at first maintaining that pleasure is good. Although he has been teaching rhetoric all his life. he is described as of a generous nature. but not what they desire. who rushes to the defence of his master. The dialogue naturally falls into three divisions. or even greater. are included in the class of flatterers. The conclusion is that there are two kinds of statesmanship. Polus is at last convinced of their truth. In the development of this opposition there arise various other questions. ready to be refuted as well as to refute.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  under the forms of true and false art. to which may be added (3) a third Socratic paradox or ideal. Socrates denies that they have any real power. and the argument is transferred to the hands of his disciple Polus. and this lingering sentiment of morality. enables Socrates to detect him in a contradiction. for Gorgias is soon made to contradict himself by Socrates. and is celebrated throughout Greece. and no further use for the teaching of rhetoric. That pleasure is to be distinguished from good is proved by the simultaneousness of pleasure and pain. and other artists. who goes from city to city displaying his talents. Then Callicles appears on the scene. The true and false finally appear before the judgment-seat of the gods below. but before he can even explain his meaning to Polus. now advanced in years. he replies that at any rate rhetoricians. The characters of the three interlocutors also correspond to the parts which are assigned to them. he is vain and boastful. and hence arise the three paradoxes already mentioned. Not merely rhetoricians. and that might is right. for the desire of all is towards the good. In the first division the question is asked—What is rhetoric? To this there is no answer given.' and very eager that Callicles and Socrates should have the game out. or regard for public opinion. When he is confuted he withdraws from the argument. but he is unable to explain the puzzle how rhetoric can teach everything and know nothing. The answer has at last to be given by Socrates himself. Polus. When his ideas begin to clear up. The dialogue terminates with a mythus of a final judgment. ironical and sarcastic in his encounter with Callicles. and that which only flatters them. and leaves Socrates to arrive at the conclusion by himself. and by the possibility of the bad having in certain cases pleasures as great as those of the good.

he is overthrown because he compromises. He is said to be the author of a work on rhetoric.). His great motive of action is political ambition. Socrates approaches his antagonist warily from a distance. And now the combat deepens. Philosophy and poetry alike supply him with distinctions suited to his view of human life. who wanted originally to have taken the place of Gorgias under the pretext that the old man was tired. or of rhetoric being only useful in self-accusation. for if these things are true. Themistocles. in whose house they are assembled. he is not insensible to higher arguments. Like Anytus in the Meno. In Callicles. In him another type of character is represented. is introduced on the stage: he is with difficulty convinced that Socrates is in earnest. Callicles. the spirit of the many contending against the one wise man. are his favourites. far more than in any sophist or rhetorician. who showed no weakness and made no mistakes. and is again mentioned in the Phaedrus. is concentrated the spirit of evil against which Socrates is contending. Had Critias been the name instead of Callicles. the Athenian statesmen of a former generation. Like Thrasymachus in the Republic. He has a good will to Socrates. are the imitators rather than the authors. a lover of power and also of pleasure. Symp.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  Polus is an impetuous youth. Pericles. as he says with real emotion. he consistently maintains that might is right.' as Socrates describes him. and sees in the laws of the state only a violation of the order of nature. then. and dazzled by the splendour of success. There is no desire on his part to offer any compromise in the interests of morality. he is unwilling to say that to do is fairer or more honourable than to suffer injustice. which he has developed to the utmost. a runaway 'colt. Plato may have felt that there would be an incongruity in a youth maintaining the cause of injustice against the world. and an accomplished Athenian gentleman. but man of the world. He can hardly understand the meaning of Archelaus being miserable. whose talents he evidently admires. and now avails himself of the earliest opportunity to enter the lists. When the argument with him has fairly run out. and has easily brought down his principles to his practice. and he listens to the paradoxes. again. of Socrates with evident astonishment. with a sort of irony which touches with a light hand both his personal vices (probably in allusion to some scandal of the day) and his 270    . Like other men of the world who are of a speculative turn of mind. and unscrupulous in his means of attaining both. but favours the new art of rhetoric. he is the enemy of the Sophists. as he describes them in the Republic. while he censures the puerile use which he makes of them. and compelled to assent to the required conclusion. which he regards as an excellent weapon of attack and defence. Like Gorgias. about whom we know nothing from other sources. though he is not of the same weak and vulgar class. the spirit of the world. and is angry at seeing his master overthrown. His ideal of human character is a man of great passions and great powers. which intended that the stronger should govern the weaker (compare Republic). But in the judicious hands of Socrates he is soon restored to good-humour. as the inventor of balanced or double forms of speech (compare Gorg. in this he is characteristically Greek. he generalizes the bad side of human nature. being themselves carried away by the great tide of public opinion. He expresses a keen intellectual interest in the argument. Though he is fascinated by the power of rhetoric. such as Miltiades. he is neither sophist nor philosopher. He has never heard the other side of the question. and which he uses in his own enjoyment and in the government of others. nor is any concession made by him. the foundations of society are upside down. At first he is violent and ill-mannered. of which the Sophists. as they appear to him. Like Anytus.. the opinions of the man would have seemed to reflect the history of his life. He is a despiser of mankind as he is of philosophy. he has a sympathy with other men of the world. He might be described in modern language as a cynic or materialist.

and that in the courts of earth he will be condemned. superior. himself. who really died twenty-four years previously (429 B.C. His behaviour is governed by that of his opponents. in them. he is easily turned round by Socrates. and getting confused between the abstract notions of better. but the more he is irritated. the 'recent' usurpation of Archelaus. he is scandalized that the legitimate consequences of his own argument should be stated in plain terms. who died in 413. But he will be justified in the world below. There is an interesting allusion to his own behaviour at the trial of the generals after the battle of Arginusae. But we shall hereafter have reason to observe. and certainly shows that he has the power. He is called by Callicles a popular declaimer. as Chaerephon remarks. for philosophy will not allow him to be silent.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  servility to the populace. when Socrates would already have been an old man. he ends by losing his method. or with the mention of Nicias. will recoil upon his assailant. The Socrates of the Gorgias may be compared with the Socrates of the Protagoras and Meno. when Socrates is describing the manner in which the ambitious citizen has to identify himself with the people.) and is afterwards reckoned among the statesmen of a past age. whom he accuses of trifling and word-splitting. in the words of Gorgias. Then the position of Socrates and Callicles will be reversed. A repartee of his which appears to have been really made to the 'omniscient' Hippias. whom he regards as another variety of the same species. that although there is a general consistency of times and persons in the Dialogues of Plato. he partially recognizes the truth of his words. (1) for the truly characteristic declaration of Socrates that he is ignorant of the true nature and bearing of these things. the box on the ears. The conclusion of the Dialogue is remarkable. Once.). he wishes to preserve the decencies of life. a precise dramatic date is an invention of his commentators (Preface to Republic). the insulting language. He is indeed more ironical and provoking than in any other of Plato's writings: for he is 'fooled to the top of his bent' by the worldliness of Callicles. But he is also more deeply in earnest. 406). and is nevertheless spoken of as a living witness. while he affirms at the same time 271    . he makes a speech.C. all those things 'unfit for ears polite' which Callicles has prophesied as likely to happen to him in this life. and still less with the 'recent' death of Pericles. he is in most profound earnest. and therefore the assumed date of the dialogue has been fixed at 405 B. (Compare Republic. and the similar reversal of the position of the lawyer and the philosopher in the Theaetetus). The date is clearly marked. as he ventures to call himself. his life. Callicles exhibits great ability in defending himself and attacking Socrates.. He is aware that Socrates. he is the enemy of the Sophists and rhetoricians.' or 'as short as he pleases' (compare Protag. which he ironically attributes to his ignorance of the manner in which a vote of the assembly should be taken. cannot safely go to war with the whole world. He must speak. and only induced to continue the argument by the authority of Gorgias. viz. but. But he cannot consistently maintain the bad sense of words. true to his character. according to the testimony of Xenophon (Mem. He rises higher than even in the Phaedo and Crito: at first enveloping his moral convictions in a cloud of dust and dialectics. not until his adversary has refused to answer any more questions. As in the Protagoras and Phaedrus. which occurred in the year 413.). stronger. Callicles soon loses his temper. of being 'as long as he pleases. As in other dialogues. but is scarcely reconcilable with another indication of time. throwing aside the veil of irony. is introduced. The presentiment of his own fate is hanging over him. the single real teacher of politics.C. At the same time. the more provoking and matter of fact does Socrates become. the least forwardness or egotism on their part is met by a corresponding irony on the part of Socrates. This is said to have happened 'last year' (B. and also of the statesmen. after the manner of men of the world.

' etc. especially in the Apology. Chaerephon. But neither in them. any more than in the Phaedo.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  that no one can maintain any other view without being ridiculous. because he was desirous.—that he is 272    . There they find the great rhetorician and his younger friend and disciple Polus. And yet there is an inconsistency: for should not Socrates too have taught the citizens better than to put him to death? And now. imitating the manner of his master Socrates. but not how to answer a question.. which he regrets. He is informed that he has just missed an exhibition of Gorgias. Callicles proposes that they shall go with him to his own house. from the fact that he is 'the only man of the present day who performs his public duties at all. and that a man should be rather than seem. replies Polus. where Gorgias is staying. Not in the ordinary sense. meets Callicles in the streets of Athens. Nor is he unwilling to be a politician. but the difference between them is worth noticing: Socrates is and is not a public man. not of hearing Gorgias display his rhetoric. that he is himself the only true politician of his age. we will 'resume the argument from the beginning. but in a higher one. but he must first become a better and wiser man. and that rhetoric should be employed for the maintenance of the right only. CHAEREPHON: What question? SOCRATES: Who is he?—such a question as would elicit from a man the answer.' Socrates. 'I am a cobbler. but of interrogating him concerning the nature of his art. as he himself says. that doing wrong is worse than suffering. who is attended by his inseparable disciple. nor in the Memorabilia of Xenophon. for the next best thing to a man's being just is that he should be corrected and become just. SOCRATES: Put the question to him. for he as well as Callicles is in a state of perplexity and uncertainty. Socrates is dissatisfied at the length and unmeaningness of the answer.' He does not insist here. There he is convinced that he or any other good man who attempted to resist the popular will would be put to death before he had done any good to himself or others. (2) Socrates makes the singular remark. nor in the Apology.' Polus suggests that Gorgias may be tired. and remarks to Gorgias. like Alcibiades or Pericles. Chaerephon. also that he should avoid all flattery. but only on the soundness of the doctrine which is contained in it. He wishes that Gorgias would answer him. In other passages. he tells the disconcerted volunteer that he has mistaken the quality for the nature of the art.' The two points of view are not really inconsistent. 'Who is Gorgias?' asks Chaerephon. He cannot be a private man if he would. The revelation of another life is a recapitulation of the argument in a figure. Gorgias is willing enough. he disclaims being a politician at all. Here he anticipates such a fate for himself. does Socrates express any doubt of the fundamental truths of morality. whether of himself or of others. and replies to the question asked by Chaerephon. 'One of the best of men. although he foresees the dangers which await him. He evidently regards this 'among the multitude of questions' which agitate human life 'as the principle which alone remains unshaken. The profession of ignorance reminds us of the earlier and more exclusively Socratic Dialogues. and this will sooner or later entail the same consequences on him. and a proficient in the best and noblest of experimental arts. and desires to answer for him. neither can he separate morals from politics. that Polus has learnt how to make a speech. on the literal truth of the myth. in rhetorical and balanced phrases.

What then distinguishes rhetoric from the other arts which have to do with words? 'The words which rhetoric uses relate to the best and greatest of human things. or even as a painter of figures. in what way then does rhetoric differ from them? Gorgias draws a distinction between the arts which deal with words. such as arithmetic. Socrates extends this distinction further. and the arts which have to do with external actions. about the just and unjust. but the architect. But still Gorgias could hardly have meant to say that arithmetic was the same as rhetoric. and divides all productive arts into two classes: (1) arts which may be carried on in silence.' But tell me. The result of the discussion may be summed up as follows:— Rhetoric treats of discourse. wealth third. Rhetoric is a good thing. and to individuals power in the state. and proceeds to ask him a number of questions. rhetoric. and other particular arts. for 'he can be as long as he pleases. and as short as he pleases. 273    . may be unlawfully used. and of Pericles. Gorgias. for no physician could compete with a rhetorician in popularity and influence. are eagerly asking:—About what then will rhetoric teach us to persuade or advise the state? Gorgias illustrates the nature of rhetoric by adducing the example of Themistocles. which are answered by him to his own great satisfaction. or in which words are coextensive with action. who persuaded the Athenians to build their docks and walls. and in Homeric language. not that the rhetorician ought to abuse this power any more than a boxer should abuse the art of self-defence. How would Gorgias explain this phenomenon? All who intend to become disciples. He could persuade the multitude of anything by the power of his rhetoric. such as arithmetic.—there is therefore a further question: which of the two sorts of persuasion does rhetoric effect in courts of law and assemblies? Plainly that which gives belief and not that which gives knowledge. neither can you define rhetoric simply as an art of persuasion. but belief may be either true or false.' But what is the exact nature of this persuasion?—is the persevering retort: You could not describe Zeuxis as a painter. are also concerned with discourse. is the greatest good. and in the assembly. but. and with a brevity which excites the admiration of Socrates. geometry. what are the best? 'Health first. and he now defines rhetoric as the art of persuading in the law courts. He adds that he has exercised a similar power over the patients of his brother Herodicus. and (2) arts which have to do with words. whom Socrates himself has heard speaking about the middle wall of the Piraeus. for no one can impart a real knowledge of such matters to a crowd of persons in a few minutes. and knowledge is always true. or the general. and not Socrates only. of whom there are several in the company.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  a rhetorician. each claiming precedence and saying that her own good is superior to that of the rest—How will you choose between them? 'I should say.' At the request of Socrates he promises to be brief. Gorgias is made to see the necessity of a further limitation. if there were other painters of figures. Socrates. that the art of persuasion. Even in the arts which are concerned with words there are differences. which gives freedom to all men. the rhetorician is not taken into counsel. But still there are two sorts of persuasion: one which gives knowledge. or how would you rank them? The arts will come to you in a body.' Socrates would have him bestow his length on others. and another which gives belief without knowledge. like all good things.' in the words of the old song. which is an art of persuasion about odd and even numbers. because there are other arts which persuade. And there is another point to be considered:— when the assembly meets to advise about walls or docks or military expeditions. beauty next. 'boasts himself to be a good one. but music and medicine. Neither is the teacher of the art to be deemed unjust because his pupils are unjust and make a bad use of the lessons which they have learned from him. He could be chosen a physician by the assembly if he pleased.

that rhetoric may be abused. both to Gorgias and Polus. real arts and sciences. and.). because they give no reason of their own existence. Socrates draws a distinction between shadows or appearances and realities. Polus asks. After some altercation they agree (compare Protag. 'What is the art of Rhetoric?' says Polus.—nor can any teacher be expected to counteract wholly the bent of natural character. is wholly unintelligible. but fears that the argument may be tedious to the company. or whether he. and Chaerephon and Callicles exhort them to proceed. as might be expected. a man may know justice and not be just— here is the old confusion of the arts and the virtues. The art of 274    . Now the soul and body have two arts waiting upon them. mere experiences. 'But what part?' A shadow of a part of politics. which attends on the soul. first the art of politics. for in the first place. The rhetorician has been declared by Gorgias to be more persuasive to the ignorant than the physician. This. The rhetorician then must be a just man. 'But is not rhetoric a fine thing?' I have not yet told you what rhetoric is. Polus is naturally exasperated at the sophism. and secondly. Not an art at all. A part of a not very creditable whole. and he who has learned justice is just. An experience or routine of making a sort of delight or gratification. that when old men trip. Socrates ironically replies. but upon one condition. or rather fall under the same class. e. is one who loves to be refuted. will admit that he knows justice (how can he do otherwise when pressed by the interrogations of Socrates?). having a legislative part and a judicial part. whether Gorgias will quarrel with him if he points out a slight inconsistency into which he has fallen. And he is said to be ignorant. and that the rhetorician may act unjustly. but a thing which in your book you affirm to have created art. which is that Polus studies brevity. and this ignorance of his is regarded by Gorgias as a happy condition. 'What thing?' and Socrates answers. in order to explain his meaning to them.g. the rhetorician. The company cheer. viz. and the simulations of them. a man may have a degree of justice. But is he as ignorant of just and unjust as he is of medicine or building? Gorgias is compelled to admit that if he did not know them previously he must learn them from his teacher as a part of the art of rhetoric. is the reply. Then they are the same. Corresponding with these four arts or sciences there are four shams or simulations of them. or any other expert. Gorgias declares that he is quite one of his sort. Will you ask me another question—What is cookery? 'What is cookery?' An experience or routine of making a sort of delight or gratification. But Gorgias has already admitted the opposite of this. if he can be shown to be in error. But he who has learned carpentry is a carpenter. Socrates gently points out the supposed inconsistency into which Gorgias appears to have fallen. but not sufficient to prevent him from ever doing wrong.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  Socrates would like to know before he replies. that yet harder will be his own case. and he is quite willing to retract. but may also be described as having two divisions. and rhetoric is a just thing. and he who has learned music is a musician. which he is unable to detect. and which he is inclined to think may arise out of a misapprehension of his own. for he has escaped the trouble of learning. there is real health of body or soul. and another art attending on the body. How is the inconsistency to be explained? The fallacy of this argument is twofold. which may be termed flattery. if he is compelled to stay and listen to them. of course. like every one else. and the appearance of them. which has no generic name. replies Socrates. the young set them on their legs again. and rhetoric has still to be distinguished from cookery. but he thinks that great want of manners is shown in bringing the argument to such a pass. he says. Socrates retorts. Polus is in great indignation at not being allowed to use as many words as he pleases in the free state of Athens. one of which is medicine and the other gymnastic. 'What is rhetoric?' asks Polus once more. that Polus shall ask and Socrates answer. like himself. as they may be termed.

may summon all the rich men of Athens. Cookery: medicine:: rhetoric: the art of justice. and begs Polus not unnecessarily to retaliate on him. 'Why. 'As if you. which leads Socrates to remark that laughter is a new species of refutation. he cannot pronounce even the great king to be happy. and yet all the world. Does not Socrates think him happy?—Socrates would like to know more about him. Aristocrates. and of the wretch who. son of Perdiccas. him he will convict out of his own mouth. Socrates apologizes for the length of his speech.' But Socrates replies that he has no wish to put any one to death. for if he will take the votes of the company. But Socrates employs proof of another sort. is real power. would like to have his place. This was very wicked. He instances Archelaus. Socrates dismisses the appeal to numbers. the art of cookery. exile. And this is the true scheme of them. unless he knows his mental and moral condition. To this Polus assents. first murdering his uncle and then his cousin and half-brother. if he will. the person with whom he is speaking. his appeal is to one witness only. would not envy the possessor of despotic power. 'Do you mean to say that the rhetoricians are esteemed flatterers?' They are not esteemed at all. being the son of a woman who was the slave of Alcetas. that if they are both criminal they are both miserable. including Socrates. it is better to suffer than to do injustice. and they only do what they think best. rhetoric is the simulation of justice. but that the unpunished is the more miserable of the two. of medicine. by every species of crime. but he is still of opinion that evildoers. and never what they desire. or setting a house on fire. and he who kills him unjustly is to be pitied. have they not great power. or any other great family—this is the kind of evidence which is adduced in courts of justice. And he is prepared to show. they become jumbled together and return to their aboriginal chaos. Socrates has only to compare the lot of the successful tyrant who is the envy of the world. who can imprison. and sophistic of legislation. for they never attain the true object of desire. is not to be envied. the usurper of Macedonia. and can they not do whatever they desire?' They have no power. but Socrates thinks him less miserable if he suffers than if he escapes. which was necessary to the explanation of the subject. They may be summed up in an arithmetical formula:— Tiring: gymnastic:: cookery: medicine:: sophistic: legislation. and miserable if he suffers punishment. even justly. the house of Pericles. and is at any rate sufficiently refuted by the fact. on the ground that such acts would be punished. that Archelaus cannot be a wicked man and yet happy. The evil-doer is deemed happy if he escapes. is crucified or burnt to death. if they are unpunished. At this Polus laughs outright. which is the good. he 275    .—that is to say. kill any one whom he pleases. Socrates.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  dressing up is the sham or simulation of gymnastic. Nicias and his brothers. obtained the kingdom. that he is already refuted. having been detected in a criminal attempt against the state. Polus is of opinion that such a paradox as this hardly deserves refutation. Polus replies. Socrates replies. after his manner. Polus explains that Archelaus was a slave. but when measured only by the gratification which they procure. And. he who kills another. may be happy enough. where truth depends upon numbers. Polus. He does not consider that going about with a dagger and putting men out of the way. brother of Perdiccas king of Macedon—and he.

276    . And this is the explanation of Socrates' peculiarities also. Polus. but that he shall go unpunished and become worse and worse. But what is fair and what is foul. Alcibiades. laws. though he will not admit this. injustice. the evil of the soul. as he had shown on a recent occasion. Callicles must refute her. body. he will desire not to punish him. Thus doing is proved by the testimony of Polus himself to be worse or more hurtful than suffering. and the foulest of these is injustice. These are at least conceivable uses of the art. who unlike his other love. And such a community of feeling exists between himself and Callicles. proceeds to ask the same question of Socrates himself. and purge away his crime. disease. and no others have been discovered by us. figures. He is always repeating what his mistress. and on receiving the assurance that he is.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  will find that no one agrees with him. he can only deal with one witness at a time. and therefore beneficent. and discord in life is far worse than the discord of musical sounds. To this Socrates rejoins. studies. and they have both a pair of loves. for both of them are lovers. the effect is just. that he is not a free agent. and is easily persuaded that the fouler of two things must exceed either in pain or in hurt. And similarly if a man has an enemy. the beloved of Callicles are the Athenian Demos and Demos the son of Pyrilampes. whether the terms are applied to bodies. But he is certain that in the opinion of any man to do is worse than to suffer evil. habits. For if such doctrines are true. taking care only that he does no injury to himself. he changes as his Demos changes in all his opinions.—these are. that before men can understand one another they must have some common feeling. the explanation of them is. and to sustain himself and others in enduring the necessary penalty. There remains the other question: Is a guilty man better off when he is punished or when he is unpunished? Socrates replies. because that brings the greatest hurt. is saying to him. if to punish is just. Philosophy. Socrates replies in a style of playful irony. must they not be defined with reference to pleasure and utility? Polus assents to this latter doctrine. ever true. and therefore must exceed in hurt. and happy in the second degree he who has been healed by punishment. and that is the person with whom he is arguing. poverty. and repeats their sentiments. is ready to acknowledge that to do evil is considered the more foul or dishonourable of the two. who has been listening in silent amazement. life must have been turned upside down. and the benefit is that the soul is improved. that what is done justly is suffered justly: if the act is just. is ever the same. and which affect him in estate. to be punished is just. colours. Rhetoric will enable him to display his guilt in proper colours. and therefore fair. and all of us are doing the opposite of what we ought to be doing. But the doing cannot exceed the suffering of evil in pain. and soul. justice—and the fairest of these is justice. but must always be imitating his two loves. he watches the countenance of both his loves. asks Chaerephon whether Socrates is in earnest. Here Callicles. the beloved of Socrates are Alcibiades and philosophy. And there are three arts which heal these evils—trading. medicine. or he will never be at unity with himself. And therefore the criminal should himself go to the judge as he would to the physician. and (referring to his own conduct at the trial of the generals after the battle of Arginusae) is unable to take the suffrages of any company. and if any one is surprised at his sayings and doings. The peculiarity of Callicles is that he can never contradict his loves. that he is not a public man. Happy is he who has never committed injustice. There are three evils from which a man may suffer.

walk in the ways of the wealthy and be wise. says Callicles. like the lisp of infancy. but when a grown-up man lisps or studies philosophy.' as Euripides says. this opinion of theirs must be in accordance with natural as well as conventional justice. Socrates. 'I mean the worthier. if you leave philosophy and pass on to the real business of life. because his modesty led him to admit that to suffer is more honourable than to do injustice. None of those over-refined natures ever come to any good. too much is the ruin of a man.' but nature says that 'might is right. which Socrates remembers hearing him give long ago to his own clique of friends. robbed. Take my advice. Callicles has all the three qualities which are needed in a critic—knowledge. He will pledge himself to retract any error into which he may have fallen. they avoid the busy haunts of men.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  Callicles answers. and he is certain that any opinion in which they both agree must be the very truth. He who has not 'passed his metaphysics' before he has grown up to manhood will never know the world. and then the light of natural justice shines forth. does violence with high hand. I should like to beat him. boxed on the ears with impunity. For you would not know how to defend yourself if any one accused you in a law-court. and putting one in the place of the other. and the opinions of the many better? And their opinion is that justice is equality.—there you would stand. This is the truth. what Polus only meant in a conventional sense has been affirmed by him to be a law of nature. And Socrates is always playing between the two points of view. and their modesty made them contradict themselves. Gorgias and Polus. 'Law. frankness. For you. and therefore I say to you. that you have 'a noble soul disguised in a puerile exterior. In this very argument. leave to others these frivolities. By custom 'yes. and I dare say that politicians are equally ridiculous when they take to philosophy: 'Every man. and should be cultivated as a part of education. Philosophers are ridiculous when they take to politics. as you will be convinced. good-will. and he is not too modest to speak out (of this he has already given proof). Socrates. and skulk in corners. then. And as they are the superior or stronger.' And we are always taming down the nobler spirits among us to the conventional level. were too modest. who drove off the oxen of Geryon and never paid for them. in compliance with popular prejudice he had admitted that if his pupil did not know justice the rhetorician must teach him. Socrates professes to have found in Callicles the philosopher's touchstone.' but not by nature. and that to do is more dishonourable than to suffer wrong. the king of all. and might be murdered. as Zethus says to Amphion in the play. But sometimes a great man will rise up and reassert his original rights. whispering to a few admiring youths. if you do not wish to drive me away. For convention says that 'injustice is dishonourable.' Philosophy is graceful in youth. trampling under foot all our formularies.' And I would have you consider the danger which you and other philosophers incur. I have a regard. and please to be a little milder in your language. and his good-will is shown both by his own profession and by his giving the same caution against philosophy to Socrates. the wiser.' Then are not the many superior to the one. But he would like to know first of all what he and Pindar mean by natural justice. 'Why will you continue splitting words? Have I not told you that the superior is the better?' But what do you mean by the better? Tell me that.' as is indeed proved by the example of Heracles. and Polus has been similarly entangled. But Callicles is well-educated. with gaping mouth and dizzy brain. 'is fondest of that in which he is best. A little philosophy is an excellent thing. although learned men. and get a little common sense. that Gorgias was overthrown because. and never giving utterance to any noble sentiments. as Polus said. Do they suppose that the rule of justice is the rule of the stronger or of the better?' 'There is no difference. Pindar says.' You mean to say that one man of sense ought to rule over 277    . and which Callicles may point out.

and the figure expresses what I mean. or with one another. viz. Callicles has already lost his temper. 'if they were. For. and the jars of the other leaky.' And to indulge unnatural desires. The life of self-contentment and self-indulgence may be represented respectively by two men. A profession of seriousness on the part of Callicles reassures him. and has power.' And to be itching and always scratching? 'I do not deny that there may be happiness even in that. having already guarded against objections by distinguishing courage and knowledge from pleasure and good. Pleasure and good are the same.' Socrates in reply is led into a half-serious. and they proceed with the argument. But my doctrine is. that luxury and self-indulgence are virtue and happiness. and this sieve is their own soul. that. e. To be hungry and always eating.' The answer does not satisfy Socrates.' Then hear another parable. that the life of contentment is better than the life of indulgence. proceeds:—The good are good by the presence of good. 'I see that you mean those dolts. if they are abundantly satisfied? Callicles is indignant at the introduction of such topics. first. the temperate. in the case of drinking and thirsting. 'Who knows. who are filling jars with streams of wine. Socrates disproves the first of these statements by showing that two opposites cannot coexist. To the many this is impossible. and the 278    . Socrates.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  ten thousand fools? 'Yes. and that the body (soma) is the tomb (sema) of the soul. but must alternate with one another—to be well and ill together is impossible. those who want nothing are not happy. that is my meaning. Socrates. But he is reminded by Socrates that they are introduced. who are supposed to be carrying water to a vessel.' as Euripides says. when he might have the enjoyment of all things! For the truth is.' says Callicles.—what DO you mean? 'I mean men of political ability. Socrates.' Yes. but knowledge and courage are not the same either with pleasure or good. Socrates. stones and the dead would be happy. and take the means of satisfying them. the first fils his jars. and on the same subjects too.' Than themselves? 'What do you mean?' I mean to say that every man is his own governor. According to his view. you defined the superior to be the stronger. all the rest is mere talk. and the cessation of them is simultaneous.' Socrates compliments Callicles on his frankness in saying what other men only think. who fears that he is losing his touchstone. and would suffer extreme misery if he desisted.' Ought the physician then to have a larger share of meats and drinks? or the weaver to have more coats. and then the wiser. as I admit. in which he represents fools as the uninitiated. whereas good and evil are not simultaneous. that a man should let his desires grow.g. but by the maintainer of the identity of pleasure and good. there are philosophers who maintain that even in life we are dead. the second is always filling them. for the sake of consistency. And some ingenious Sicilian has made an allegory. flowing in and flowing out. and now something else. honey. But pleasure and pain are simultaneous. Are you of the same opinion still? 'Yes. half-comic vein of reflection. how base would he be in submitting to them! To invite the common herd to be lord over him. Are you disposed to admit that? 'Far otherwise. or the farmer more seed? 'You are always saying the same things. to be thirsty and always drinking. and can only be persuaded to go on by the interposition of Gorgias. Will Callicles still maintain this? 'Yes. he will. but nevertheless is a figure of a truth which I want to make you acknowledge. 'whether life may not be death. and has no more trouble with them. not by him. who ought to govern and to have more than the governed. in a similarly holey sieve.—the jars of the one are sound. The idea is fanciful. and therefore they combine to prevent him. and do not cease simultaneously. and death life?' Nay. or the cobbler larger shoes. and therefore pleasure cannot be the same as good. For true pleasure is a perpetual stream. 'Why. but you are never saying the same things. and to have all the other desires and to satisfy them. But if he is a king. milk. which is full of holes. is my idea of happiness.

The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  bad are bad by the presence of evil. the one a flattery. Which of the arts then are flatteries? Flute-playing. others have a real regard for their fellowcitizens. is a return to the old doctrine of himself and Polus. and the bad are the hurtful.' and though he had hoped to have given Callicles an 'Amphion' in return for his 'Zethus. failed even in that. Callicles endeavours now to avert the inevitable absurdity by affirming that he and all mankind admitted some pleasures to be good and others bad. turns restive. and Meles the harpplayer. to which he conforms all his words and actions. and suggests that Socrates shall answer his own questions. and children. And the orators are very far from speaking with a view to what is best. is not attained by accident. to implant all virtue and eradicate all vice in the minds of his citizens. or flatteries. Cimon. their way is to humour the assembly as if they were children. 'one man must do for two. or shams. The good man and true orator has a settled design. Poetry in general is only a rhetorical address to a mixed audience of men. He is the physician who will not allow the sick man to indulge his appetites with a variety of meats and drinks. that all things should be done for the sake of the good. and Socrates. And the soul which has order is better than the soul which is without order. Callicles replies. and he who feels pain is bad. at the same time. another which has a real regard for the citizens. in order that he may get through the argument. and the intemperate is bad. And he who feels pleasure is good. of things or persons. whether of body or soul. as Socrates observes. and the cowardly and foolish are bad. Socrates replies that none of these were true artists. finding that they are agreed in distinguishing pleasure from good. and the great Pericles were still alive. if he falls into error. and the good is that of which the presence makes us good. And he who is temperate is also just and brave and pious. returns to his old division of empirical habits. The good are the beneficial. and we should choose the one and avoid the other. running through his life. we and all things good have acquired some virtue or other. but insists on his exercising self-restraint.' he is willing to proceed. harp-playing. and the intemperate 279    . And this is good for the soul. women. but there were such in the days when Themistocles. Miltiades. But this. The stately muse of Tragedy is bent upon pleasure. Does Callicles agree to this division? Callicles will agree to anything.' says Socrates.—but pleasure is to be pursued for the sake of the good. But where are the orators among whom you find the latter? Callicles admits that there are none remaining. Callicles assents to this. and the arts which are concerned with the higher interests of soul and body. who was the father of Cinesias. choral exhibitions. and has attained the perfection of goodness and therefore of happiness. And virtue. Granted. and both feel pleasure and pain in nearly the same degree. he desires to implant justice and eradicate injustice. and better than the unrestrained indulgence which Callicles was recently approving. he hopes that Callicles will correct him. and sometimes the bad man or coward in a greater degree. He recapitulates the advantages which he has already won:— The pleasant is not the same as the good—Callicles and I are agreed about that. who had been with difficulty brought to this point. Therefore the bad man or coward is as good as the brave or may be even better. then there are two species of oratory. which study pleasure only. And the brave and wise are good. the dithyrambics of Cinesias are all equally condemned on the ground that they give pleasure only. Here Callicles. and is therefore temperate and is therefore good. setting before themselves the duty of bringing order out of disorder. 'Then. but is due to order and harmonious arrangement. and not upon improvement. that this is only true of some of them.

will he not rather do all the evil which he can and escape? And in this way the greatest of all evils will befall him. or his son to marry yours. and can only reply. and when he disembarks is quite unassuming in his demeanour? The reason is that he is not certain whether he has done his passengers any good in saving them from death. But who would undertake a public building. and if self-control is the true secret of happiness. but I do not entirely believe you. But how many other arts are there which also save men from death. But is not virtue something different from saving and being saved? I would have you rather consider whether you ought not to disregard length of life. For I may repeat once more.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  whom you approve is the opposite of all this and is wretched. and in saying that I might be accused or put to death or boxed on the ears with impunity.' Socrates replies that he is not deaf. and are yet quite humble in their pretensions—such as the art of swimming. the other which was directed to making men as good as possible. and if possible escape the necessity of punishment. is the use of rhetoric in courts of justice. And you were wrong in taunting me with my defenceless condition. I myself know not the true nature of these things. unless you become like them. 'But this imitator of the tyrant. but if he have done wrong he must endure punishment. and still more if he is diseased in mind— who can say? The engineer too will often save whole cities. and would not allow your son to marry his daughter. but will he also do no evil? Nay. and that is the provoking thing. 'Yes. and to suffer wrong is the next greatest evil. What do you say to this? 'There is some truth in what you are saying. whether your own or another's. of gods and men. But what reason is there in this? For if virtue only means the saving of life. and had never constructed a building before? or who would undertake the duty of state-physician. you have no right to despise him or any practiser of saving arts. Under his protection he will suffer no evil. as the wise tell us. as you say. leaving all besides to the will of Heaven. if he had never cured either himself or any one else? Should we not examine him before we entrusted him with the office? And as Callicles is about to enter public life. In this way states and individuals should seek to attain harmony. should we not examine him? Whom has he made better? For we have already admitted that this is the statesman's 280    . You remember the two processes—one which was directed to pleasure. he would have men aim at disproportion and excess.' That is because you are in love with Demos. that to strike is worse than to be stricken—to do than to suffer. which. 'will kill any one who does not similarly imitate him. But if he be wrong in this. Callicles has never discovered the power of geometrical proportion in both worlds. and think only how you can live best. and that he has heard that repeated many times. but I know that no one can deny my words and not be ridiculous. and yet for the voyage from Aegina to Athens he does not charge more than two obols.' Not provoking to a man of sense who is not studying the arts which will preserve him from danger. if one of them is diseased in body. What I said then is now made fast in adamantine bonds. or the friend of a ruler. He who would avoid the last must be a ruler. and Polus was right in saying that to do wrong is worse than to suffer wrong. And those who have the care of the city should make the citizens as good as possible. or the art of the pilot? Does not the pilot do men at least as much service as the rhetorician. and to be the friend he must be the equal of the ruler. is the bond of heaven and earth. and must also resemble him. if he had never had a teacher of the art of building.' rejoins Callicles. then the paradox is true that the only use of rhetoric is in self-accusation. To do wrong is the greatest of evils. and yet you despise him. He therefore who would be happy must pursue temperance and avoid intemperance. and this. and Gorgias was right in saying that the rhetorician must be a just man. that a bad man will kill a good one. But let us have a little more conversation. For you must not expect to have influence either with the Athenian Demos or with Demos the son of Pyrilampes.

I should be ashamed. and he has heard often enough. Mithoecus. but if I die for want of your flattering rhetoric. and would rather not hear again. men were judged on the day of their death.' As if the statesman should not have taught the city better! He surely cannot blame the state for having unjustly used him. For death is no evil. the bad to the house of 281    . Socrates concludes by finally asking. Miltiades. because he remarks that he is the only person who teaches the true art of politics. and lay the blame of their subsequent disorders on their physicians. Callicles. That is the only way of avoiding death. if he have the true self-help. that the bad man will kill the good. he may be the physician who is tried by a jury of children. and you answered. because this is the only kind of service which makes the disciple desirous of requiting his teacher. and Cimon. and if any one charges him with perplexing them. the ungrateful city banished him. that the statesman of a past age were no better than those of our own. Sarambus. whereas sophistic is really the higher of the two. Thearion. and when judgment had been given upon them they departed—the good to the islands of the blest. but at last they condemned him to death. And therefore there is no saying what his fate may be. and Pericles who had the charge of man only made him wilder. The old story is always being repeated—'after all his services. but the teacher of virtue or politics takes no money. as in the case which he described to Polus. and man is an animal. I have told you again and again (and I purposely use the same images) that the soul. the baker. But he thinks that such a fate is very likely reserved for him. and more savage and unjust. and at first he was very popular with them. 'And do you think that a man who is unable to help himself is in a good condition?' Yes. he will not be able to make them understand that he has only been actuated by a desire for their good. He cannot say that he has procured the citizens any pleasure. replies Socrates. the author of the Sicilian cookerybook. but they did not improve the character of the citizens. And the sophist and orator are in the same case. The inference is. the vintner. In this respect. although you admire rhetoric and despise sophistic. and therefore he could not have been a good statesman. In proof of which I will tell you a tale:— Under the rule of Cronos. Yet surely he would be a bad tamer of animals who. Pericles. Callicles. instead of finding fault with them. who pandered to the vices of the citizens.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  proper business. but when I ask you who were the really good statesmen. They may have been cleverer constructors of docks and harbours. If I had not this kind of self-help. the citizens who in like manner applauded Themistocles. or condemned him to death. Themistocles. you answer—as if I asked you who were the good trainers.' is the ingenuous reply. And very probably. will lay hold of you and my friend Alcibiades. any more than the sophist or teacher can find fault with his pupils if they cheat him. And those whom they have fattened applaud them. And when the fit of illness comes. did not Pericles make the citizens worse? For he gave them pay. and others. taught them to kick and butt. you applaud the statesmen of old. The teacher of the arts takes money. like the body. but to go to the world below laden with offences is the worst of evils. and filled the city with docks and harbours. I shall die in peace. which is never to have said or done any wrong to himself or others. And you would be affronted if I told you that these are a parcel of cooks who make men fat only to make them thin. You seemed to understand what I said at the time. and you will suffer for the misdeeds of your predecessors. and Themistocles. And we must ask the same question about Pericles. but neglected virtue and justice. Whom did they make better? Nay. and Miltiades. may be treated in two ways—there is the meaner and the higher art. you are like them. The same tale might be repeated about Cimon. or with reviling their elders. But the charioteer who keeps his seat at first is not thrown out when he gains greater experience and skill. having received them gentle. to which of the two modes of serving the state Callicles invites him:—'to the inferior and ministerial one.

And when we have practised virtue. they are stripped of their dignities and preferments. the son of Lysimachus. perhaps even the great king himself. the incurable are such as Archelaus. he sees the scars of perjury and iniquity. But to Rhadamanthus the souls are only known as good or bad. Follow me. The curable are those who are benefited by their punishment. that will do you no harm. and Zeus. Rhadamanthus. for that way is nothing worth. having first sent down Prometheus to take away from them the foreknowledge of death. For there are two classes of souls who undergo punishment—the curable and the incurable.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  vengeance. when he came to the throne. Let us follow in the way of virtue and justice. though he knows not who he is. and Minos was to hold the court of appeal. Some prince or potentate. happily for themselves. we may compare him with himself. and endeavour to draw out the great lessons which he teaches for all time. who are the three wisest men in Hellas. labelled either as curable or incurable. Minos. Callicles. Perhaps you think that this is an old wives' fable. and Aeacus were appointed to be the judges. but not until we are delivered from the shameful state of ignorance and uncertainty in which we are at present. whom he sends to the islands of the blest. who benefit others by becoming a warning to them. we may cast another upon ourselves. Having regard (1) to the age of Plato and the ironical character of his writings. meaner persons. and retort upon you the reproach which you cast upon me. not Thersites. and not merely to seem. was obliged to alter the mode of procedure. Not that there is anything to prevent a great man from being a good one. then. The latter class are generally kings and potentates. appears before Rhadamanthus. whether of the many or of the few. 282    . If he is bad. and with dizzy brain. and Minos overlooks them. and with other great teachers. Sisyphus and Tityus. Aeacus for Europe. and not in the way to which you. And then (2) casting one eye upon him. he despatches the bad to Tartarus. are all distinguishable. that we may present our souls undefiled to the judge in that day. We will now consider in order some of the principal points of the dialogue.—that you will stand before the judge. and sends him away to the house of torment. and no one will ever show that to do is better than to suffer evil. But you. and do you all manner of evil. my desire in life is to be able to meet death. and he instantly detects him. holding a golden sceptre. there was favouritism. and giving laws to the dead.' My wish for myself and my fellow-men is. the branded slave. gaping. have nothing better to say. and avoid all flattery. as is shown by the famous example of Aristeides. and any one may box you on the ear. and try them after death. And I exhort you. Now death is the separation of soul and body. are supposed by Homer to be undergoing everlasting punishment. invite us. as Odysseus in Homer saw him 'Wielding a sceptre of gold. and we may note in passing the objections of his critics. Rhadamanthus for Asia. and had their clothes on at the time when they were being judged. But as they were still living. Similar is the practice of Aeacus. and if you are looked down upon. have not the same power of doing injustice. A man should study to be. and looks with love and admiration on the soul of some just one. stripped of the accidental form in which they are enveloped. but after death soul and body alike retain their characteristics. the fat man. we will betake ourselves to politics. the dandy. he should become good.

without reference to public opinion or to consequences. Still we regard them as happy. have always existed among mankind. or that their physical suffering is always compensated by a mental satisfaction. The illusive analogy of the arts and the virtues also continues.—a mistake which Aristotle partly shares and partly corrects in the Nicomachean Ethics. and to an erroneous assertion that an agent and a patient may be described by similar predicates. The advantages which he gains over Polus are also due to a false antithesis of pleasure and good. (2) Although Socrates professes to be convinced by reason only. as in nearly all the other dialogues of Plato. an opinion which he afterwards repudiates in the Phaedo. But it would be as useless to examine his arguments by the requirements of modern logic. or that the sensations of the impaled criminal are more agreeable than those of the tyrant drowned in luxurious enjoyment. by which he conducts himself and others to his own ideal of life and action. when their enemies and persecutors will be proportionably tormented.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  (1) In the Gorgias. and has not altogether ceased to haunt the world at the present day (compare Charmides). Plato has already admitted that the world is against him. when a soldier falls in battle. we do not suppose that death or wounds are without pain. any more than they would agree to the stoical paradox that a man may be happy on the rack. which. and that mankind will by no means agree in thinking that the criminal is happier when punished than when unpunished. and we would a thousand times rather have their death than a shameful life.' We are not concerned to justify this idealism by the standard of utility or public opinion. the honourable. Nor is this only because we believe that they will obtain an immortality of fame. pleasure. And we may sometimes wish that we could have suggested answers to his antagonists. Traces of a 'robust sophistry' are likewise discernible in his argument with Callicles. What then is his meaning? His meaning we shall be able to illustrate best by parallel notions. The old difficulty of framing a definition recurs. Neither does he mean to say that Archelaus is tormented by the stings of conscience. 283    . or rather perhaps trying an experiment in dialectics. When a martyr dies in a good cause. The defect of clearness is also apparent in Socrates himself. 'they looked upon his face as upon the face of an angel. such as nature. much as Socrates' friends in the opening of the Phaedo are described as regarding him. Figures of speech are made the basis of arguments. we are made aware that formal logic has as yet no existence. The ambiguity of several words. We must remind the reader that Socrates himself implies that he will be understood or appreciated by very few. as in the Protagoras. but merely to point out the existence of such a sentiment in the better part of human nature. is a difficulty which remains unsolved. Neither is he speaking. And we regard them as happy on this ground only. He is speaking not of the consciousness of happiness. unless we suppose him to be practising on the simplicity of his opponent. The Sophists are still floundering about the distinction of the real and seeming. If we say that the ideal is generally regarded as unattainable. or as was said of another. is not cleared up. the good. and the like. Men are found in a few instances to do what is right. which admits of application to a particular subject-matter. Nothing can be more fallacious than the contradiction which he pretends to have discovered in the answers of Gorgias (see above). yet the argument is often a sort of dialectical fiction. whether justifiable by logic or not. The possibility of conceiving a universal art or science. or pointed out to them the rocks which lay concealed under the ambiguous terms good. custom. of virtue as a calculation of pleasure. but of the idea of happiness. or that they will have crowns of glory in another world. as to criticise this ideal from a merely utilitarian point of view.

(3) Plato's theory of punishment is partly vindictive. He would maintain that in some sense or other truth and right are alone to be sought. quite independently of rewards and punishments or of posthumous reputation. But most men have never had the opportunity of attaining this pre-eminence of evil. Nor must we forget that the side of ethics which regards others is by the ancients merged in politics. is really quite as ideal and almost as paradoxical to the common understanding as Plato's conception of happiness. If the question could have been put to him. as well as in the Phaedo and Republic. though taking another form. partly corrective. in which the good are to be rewarded and the wicked punished. may have supported the sufferers. Both in Plato and Aristotle. whether a man dying in torments was happy still. a few great criminals. He supposes a day of retribution. are reserved as examples. At the same time he makes a point of determining his main thesis independently of remoter consequences. On this representation of Plato's the criticism 284    . as well as in the Stoics. The idealizing of suffering is one of the conceptions which have exercised the greatest influence on mankind. Even in the Republic he introduces a future life as an afterthought. and that all other goods are only desirable as means towards these. he will insist that something of the kind is true.' we can hardly tell what would have been his answer. like those of duty and right. He is convinced that. exposed to every sort of wrong and obloquy.' the hopes of another life must be included. and will frame his life with a view to this unknown future. is thus led on to the conclusion. even if. 'death be only a long sleep. somehow or other. They are to suffer because they have sinned. such an one is like a man fallen among wild beasts.' But the happiness of others or of mankind. who. Into the theological import of this. as he says in the Phaedo. But this extreme idealism is not in accordance with the spirit of Plato. they must go to the physician and be healed. But in the actual condition of human things the wise and good are weak and miserable. All will agree that the ideal of the Divine Sufferer. as he suggests in the Apology. he endeavours to show that his happiness would be assured here in a well-ordered state.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  The idealism of Plato is founded upon this sentiment. that if 'the ways of God' to man are to be 'justified. In the Republic. It is a similar picture of suffering goodness which Plato desires to pourtray. Though. the social principle. There have been a few. not without an allusion to the fate of his master Socrates. if regarded as an end. as affected by him. when the superior happiness of the just has been established on what is thought to be an immutable foundation. like sick men. the man of sorrows of whom the Hebrew prophets spoke. He is thought to have erred in 'considering the agent only. chiefly tyrants. and their punishment is intended for their improvement. have been willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of others. Ideas of utility. such an one must be happy in life or after death. or a general faith in the victory of good in the world. Nor can Plato in the Gorgias be deemed purely self-regarding. considering that Socrates expressly mentions the duty of imparting the truth when discovered to others. and making no reference to the happiness of others. whose words the world would not receive. or any other influence of public opinion. They are not incurable. no man of sense will maintain that the details of the stories about another world are true. It is difficult to say how far in such cases an unconscious hope of a future life. we need not now enter. or into the consideration of the errors to which the idea may have given rise. Plato. has sunk deep into the heart of the human race. In the Gorgias. For the greatest happiness of the greatest number may mean also the greatest pain of the individual which will procure the greatest pleasure of the greatest number. like other philosophers. may be pushed to unpleasant consequences. is really far more prominent than in most modern treatises on ethics.

and are therefore justly involved in the general condemnation. and at the same time may be thought to be condemning a state of the world which always has existed and always will exist among men. He is not far off the higher notion of an education of man to be begun in this world. virtue and pleasure. the 285    . But such ideals act powerfully on the imagination of mankind.' have found a ray of light in his writings. and that suffering. The antithesis of good and pleasure. They partake of the imperfect nature of language. Plato may be accused of representing a superhuman or transcendental virtue in the description of the just man in the Gorgias. and not less so in asking questions which were beyond the horizon of his vision. is certainly imperfect. He applies to the sphere of ethics a conception of punishment which is really derived from criminal law. He has not followed out the principle which he affirms in the Republic. or in the companion portrait of the philosopher in the Theaetetus. or did not come within the scope of his design. that the analogy of disease and injustice is partial only. The greatest statesmen have fallen very far short of the political ideal. the nature of the mind which is unseen can only be represented under figures derived from visible objects.' and that 'they were the better for being punished. and to contrast the judgments and opinions of men with judgment according to the truth. and to be continued in other stages of existence. We do Plato violence in pressing his figures of speech or chains of argument. by not counting them worthy of eternal damnation. which as in other dialogues is supposed to consist in the permanent nature of the one compared with the transient and relative nature of the other. which is further developed in the Republic. Good and pleasure. truth and opinion. Like the general analogy of the arts and the virtues. And such condemnations are not mere paradoxes of philosophers. but the natural rebellion of the higher sense of right in man against the ordinary conditions of human life. who are neither very good nor very bad. instead of improving men. He does not see that such punishment is only negative. That Plato sometimes reasons from them as if they were not figures but realities. knowledge and sense. If these figures are suggestive of some new aspect under which the mind may be considered. But he has not explained how or in what way punishment is to contribute to the improvement of mankind. and supplies no principle of moral growth or development. or of medicine and justice. And Christian thinkers.' Still his doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments may be compared favourably with that perversion of Christian doctrine which makes the everlasting punishment of human beings depend on a brief moment of time. But ideas must be given through something. And he has escaped the difficulty which has often beset divines. we cannot find fault with them for not exactly coinciding with the ideas represented. The main purpose of the Gorgias is not to answer questions about a future world. or even on the accident of an accident. who have ventured out of the beaten track in their meditations on the 'last things. that 'God is the author of evil only with a view to good. but to place in antagonism the true and false life. essence and generation. may have just the opposite effect. the analogy of disease and injustice. is due to the defective logical analysis of his age. Nor does he distinguish between the suffering which improves and the suffering which only punishes and deters. which may be briefly considered:— a. Subordinate to the main purpose of the dialogue are some other questions.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  has been made. and must not be construed in too strict a manner. respecting the future destiny of the meaner sort of men (Thersites and the like).

Sophists.). in irony and antagonism to public opinion. are alike brought up for judgment. are called flatteries. The poets. like the rhetoricians. which he describes in the Republic. from which they are derived. that is. b. Statesmen. and like the Philebus. and the Protagoras. but pleasure and good are not so completely opposed as in the Gorgias. whether regarded with reference to this world or to another. according to the old Socratic notion. as the art of persuasion. are also points of similarity. This opposition is carried out from a speculative point of view in the Philebus. not by compulsion. though from 286    . pleasure and good are distinctly opposed. c. as in the Republic they are expelled the State. The allusion to Gorgias' definition of rhetoric (Philebus. And we must not forget that Plato's conception of pleasure is the Heracleitean flux transferred to the sphere of human conduct. the powerlessness of evil. harmony. The character of Protagoras may be compared with that of Gorgias. is similar in both of them. not on the ideal nature of good. Crito. and in the Phaedo. that the ancient poets were the Sophists of their day. For the assertion of the permanence of good is only based on the assumption of its objective character. Various other points of contact naturally suggest themselves between the Gorgias and other dialogues. as deferred or accumulated pleasure. The sufferings and fate of the just man. are so many pairs of opposites. and portions of the Republic. when pursued without any view to truth. To this is opposed the one wise man hardly professing to have found truth. or the improvement of human life. The arts or sciences. being described in the former. and is expressed in nearly the same language.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  real and the apparent. For innocent pleasures. to the principle of pleasure. harmony or beauty and discord. There neither pleasure nor wisdom are allowed to be the chief good. that would have been found to be as transient and precarious as pleasure. which is objective. order. and their arts are the parodies of true arts and sciences. In general spirit and character. In both the ideas of measure. All that they call science is merely the result of that study of the tempers of the Great Beast. and the reversal of the situation in another life. are allowed to rank in the class of goods. compare Gorg. dialectic and rhetoric or poetry. of all arts the best. which occurs in the Protagoras. For the Republic supplies that education and training of which the Gorgias suggests the necessity. There are closer resemblances both of spirit and language in the Republic than in any other dialogue. but on the subjective consciousness of happiness. but the conception of happiness is different in the two dialogues. the Philebus. which is subjective. the infinite and finite. To Plato the whole world appears to be sunk in error. In some other respects the Protagoras rather offers a contrast than a parallel. and minister to the weaker side of human nature. They are the parodies of wise men. for to it all things submit. are condemned because they aim at pleasure only. They are all alike dependent upon the opinion of mankind. because they are imitators. poets. rhetoricians. That poetry is akin to rhetoric may be compared with the analogous notion. The theory of the many weak combining against the few strong in the formation of society (which is indeed a partial truth). Had Plato fixed his mind. but of their own free will—marks a close and perhaps designed connection between the two dialogues. the Gorgias most nearly resembles the Apology. yet strong in the conviction that a virtuous life is the only good. are the connecting links between the beautiful and the good. based on self-interest. and are seldom kept perfectly distinct. the verbal similarity tending to show that they were written at the same period of Plato's life. and such as have no antecedent pains. while in the Gorgias. which in Plato easily pass into one another. There is some degree of unfairness in opposing the principle of good. especially the Republic.

but only attempting to analyze the 'dramatis personae' as they were conceived by him. but interpreted with reference to his place in the history of thought and the opinion of his time. At the same time he acknowledges the natural result.' and Plato is not affirming any abstract right of this nature: but he is asserting the duty and right of the one wise and true man to dissent from the folly and falsehood of the many. No speculations had as yet arisen respecting the 'liberty of prophesying. the more ironical he becomes. his meaning. For Plato is not asserting any abstract right or duty of toleration. the nakedness of the souls and of the judges who are stript of the clothes or disguises which rhetoric and public opinion have hitherto provided for them (compare Swift's notion that the universe is a suit of clothes. and he is never more in earnest or more ironical than in the Gorgias. (3) The appeal of the authority of Homer. A few minor points still remain to be summed up: (1) The extravagant irony in the reason which is assigned for the pilot's modest charge. and in the mighty power of geometrical equality in both worlds. which he hardly seeks to avert. or to remark that he is not to be tried by a modern standard. Neither is it necessary to enlarge upon the obvious fact that Plato is a dramatic writer. The disguises which Socrates assumes are like the parables of the New Testament. that he who speaks the truth to a multitude. as in all ages the 287    . The fiction seems to have involved Plato in the necessity of supposing that the soul retained a sort of corporeal likeness after death. The irony of Plato sometimes veils from us the height of idealism to which he soars. The more he is in earnest. It has been said that the most characteristic feature of the Gorgias is the assertion of the right of dissent. But this mode of stating the question is really opposed both to the spirit of Plato and of ancient philosophy generally. the retaliation of the box on the ears.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  another point of view. in some other parts of his writings (e. will probably share the fate of Socrates. and therefore he sometimes appears to be careless of the ordinary requirements of logic. and in the proposed use of rhetoric as an instrument of selfcondemnation. may be thought to stand in the same relation to Plato's theory of morals which the Theaetetus bears to his theory of knowledge. Laws). or any other speaker who appears to have the best of the argument. The form of the argument may be paradoxical. or to repeat the observation that he is a poet as well as a philosopher. we are not passing any judgment on historical individuals. (2) The reference of the mythus to the previous discussion should not be overlooked: the fate reserved for incurable criminals such as Archelaus. d.' and that in criticising the characters of Gorgias and Polus.g. or advantage to be derived from freedom of thought.' which gives verisimilitude to the tale. the substance is an appeal to the higher reason. Tale of a Tub). He is uttering truths before they can be understood. they half conceal. Yet in the highest sense he is always logical and consistent with himself. When declaring truths which the many will not receive. regardless of consequences. The weapons of ridicule are taken out of their hands and the laugh is turned against themselves. or private judgment. whose real opinions cannot always be assumed to be those which he puts into the mouth of Socrates. or the oracles of the Delphian God. half reveal. who says that Odysseus saw Minos in his court 'holding a golden sceptre. he has fairly laid himself open to the charge of intolerance. It is scarcely necessary to repeat that Plato is playing 'both sides of the game. indeed. He hardly troubles himself to answer seriously the objections of Gorgias and Polus. he puts on an armour which cannot be pierced by them.

and always will be. but of what is—of the present consequence of lowering and degrading the soul. the most miserable of men. This is the standard which Socrates holds up to us.' The tangle of good and evil can no longer be unravelled. Reason tells them that death comes sooner or later to all. or perhaps all men everywhere. And the Sermon on the Mount— 'Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake. they will ruin their health.'—1 Pet. we may now return to the ideal truth. have found the world unprepared for them. But Socrates would have us pass the same judgment on the tyrant now and always. Because politics. seeing that they cannot be undone. to acknowledge that injustice is dishonourable. and heedless any longer of the forms of dialectic. he is. At length he makes even Polus in earnest. to be jesting when he is profoundly serious. and have become a part of history. The righteous may suffer or die. they will lose their character. and draw out in a simple form the main theses of the dialogue. but they equally imply that the only real evil is moral evil. if they were not tempted by interest or passion. not of what will be. but because their feelings are blunted by time. and for their own sakes men are willing to punish the offender (compare Republic). The words of Socrates are more abstract than the words of Christ. the world occasionally speaks of the consequences of their actions:—if they are lovers of pleasure. And all higher natures. when they are asked. but they have their reward.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  words of philosophers. is essentially evil. and perhaps human life generally. he drops the argument. though he is the civilizer or liberator of half a continent. Compare the New Testament— 'It is better to suffer for well doing than for evil doing. From this confusion of jest and earnest. and has the nature of disease and death. and has the applauses of Europe and Asia ringing in his ears. he loses himself in a sort of triumph. But Socrates would speak to them. and 'to forgive is convenient to them. but by the rest of mankind. ancient or modern—after a while. they feel also that good has often come out of evil. The world. while at the same time he retaliates upon his adversaries. or rather. and is not so great an evil as an unworthy life. and although they know that the end cannot justify the means. represented by Polus. A further misunderstanding arises out of the wildness of his humour. But they are not equally willing to acknowledge that injustice. And so of private individuals—to them. are of a mixed nature we must not allow our principles to sink to the level of our practice. if rightly 288    . even if successful. Especially when crimes are committed on the great scale—the crimes of tyrants. when they are first uttered. The greatest consequences for good or for evil cannot alter a hair's breadth the morality of actions which are right or wrong in themselves. and even if they had no reward. not from any magnanimity or charity. mankind are disposed to forgive them. if they are false or dishonest. is ready.'—Matt. First Thesis:— It is a greater evil to do than to suffer injustice. would be happier than the wicked. though he is surrounded by his satellites. would agree with him—they would rather be the victims than the perpetrators of an act of treachery or of tyranny. he is supposed not only by Callicles. Finally. too.

'While rank corruption. And sometimes we are too hard upon ourselves. To awaken in us this habit of reflection is the business of early education. the rhetoric of self-love is always pleading with them on their own behalf. 'Therefore if thine enemy hunger. they are healed by time.' For all our life long we are 289    . which. they must persuade themselves to submit. which the mind silently employs while the struggle between the better and the worse is going on within us. In religious diaries a sort of drama is often enacted by the consciences of men 'accusing or else excusing them. Like our sorrows. Under the figure there lurks a real thought. who scarcely reflect at all. not an evil at all. feed him. There is nothing to remind us of our sins.' etc. have been caused not by his own fault? Another illustration is afforded by the pauper and criminal classes. until at length they are revealed to him in some terrible downfall. They must speak to themselves. We pity them. and have given us over to ourselves. Not to have been found out in some dishonesty or folly. admits of an easy application to ourselves. is the greatest of misfortunes. expressed in another form. with a view of deepening and enlarging our characters. because we want to restore the balance which self-love has overthrown or disturbed. they must paint in eloquent words the character of their own evil deeds. There might have been a condition of human life in which the penalty followed at once. regarded from a moral or religious point of view. which may. Socrates would have them use rhetoric. mankind would avoid vice as they avoid pain or death.. and was proportioned to the offence. which is continued in maturer years by observation and experience. mining all within. and therefore nothing to correct them. The spoilt child is in later life said to be unfortunate—he had better have suffered when he was young. For do not we too accuse as well as excuse ourselves? And we call to our aid the rhetoric of prayer and preaching. The success of our evil doings is a proof that the gods have ceased to strive with us. Infects unseen. perhaps. you should allow him to escape unpunished'—this is the true retaliation. except on the means by which they can compass their immediate ends. they must argue with themselves. quoted in Romans. to their feelings the appeal must be made. but to a good man the greatest good. For in all of us there are slumbering ideals of truth and right. has for the most part hidden from us the consequences of our actions. Adopting a similar figure of speech. But is not the sovereign equally unfortunate whose education and manner of life are always concealing from him the consequences of his own actions. But nature. To any suffering which they have deserved. and we can only foresee them by an effort of reflection. not in defence but in accusation of themselves. They are very kind and very blind to their own faults.' The 'accustomed irony' of Socrates adds a corollary to the argument:—'Would you punish your enemy. and been saved from suffering afterwards. and then again we may hear a voice as of a parent consoling us. Second Thesis:— It is better to suffer for wrong doing than not to suffer.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  regarded. but we do not consider that the same principle applies to human actions generally. and make allowances for them. (Compare the obscure verse of Proverbs. As they are guided by feeling rather than by reason. which may at any time awaken and develop a new life in us.) Men are not in the habit of dwelling upon the dark side of their own lives: they do not easily see themselves as others see them. Moral evil would then be scarcely distinguishable from physical.

All actions of which the consequences are not weighed and foreseen. which at first sounded paradoxical. when we do in a moment of passion what upon reflection we regret. And yet the book of nature is open to him. and there is an unconscious as well as a conscious hypocrisy which. Hence a certain element of seeming enters into all things. when we say hastily what we deliberately disapprove. and to most men the opinion of their fellows is a leading principle of action. come home to the experience of all of us. are of this impotent and paralytic sort. Hunter.' which is not so much an error or paradox as a half truth. There is the bias given to the mind by the study of one department of human knowledge to the exclusion of the 290    . is the worst of the two. seen first in the twilight of ethical philosophy. yet they may often be the very opposite of what is expected by us. one must never assign the second rank to-day without being ready to restore them to the first to-morrow. A man of ability can easily feign the language of piety or virtue. that they may win the esteem or admiration of others. Preface to Orissa. But the habits and discipline received from Hebraism remain for our race an eternal possession. for they may follow an invariable law. there is the sophistry of classes and professions. Again. And as humanity is constituted. But Socrates. it is a time to Hellenize and to praise knowing. when we tie up property without regard to changes of circumstances. The consequences may be inevitable. when they are not prompted by wisdom. but also the half of the truth which is especially needed in the present age. for we have Hebraized too much and have overvalued doing. For he is actually bringing about the reverse of what he intended. When we increase pauperism by almsgiving. but what we wish.) Fourth Thesis:— To be and not to seem is the end of life. neither divides nor identifies them. are of no value. There are the different opinions about themselves and one another which prevail in different ranks of society. or Plato for him. while a few. on the other hand. (Compare the following: 'Now. he recognizes the two elements which seem to lie at the basis of morality. and even benevolent actions. in which he who runs may read if he will exercise ordinary attention. every day offers him experiences of his own and of other men's characters. We believe something to be for our good which we afterwards find out not to be for our good. and the author of them has 'the least possible power' while seeming to have the greatest. For as the world has grown older men have been too apt to imagine a right and wrong apart from consequences. though the time has not yet arrived either for utilitarian or transcendental systems of moral philosophy. The Greek in the age of Plato admitted praise to be one of the chief incentives to moral virtue. and for us. And so the words of Socrates. all or almost all desire to appear better than they are. according to Socrates.' Sir William W. but what we wish. when from any want of self-control we give another an advantage over us—we are doing not what we will. Socrates would teach us a lesson which we are slow to learn—that good intentions. have sought to resolve them wholly into their consequences. The contemplation of the consequences of actions. and he passes them unheeded by.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  talking with ourselves:—What is thought but speech? What is feeling but rhetoric? And if rhetoric is used on one side only we shall be always in danger of being deceived. and the ignorance of men in regard to them. Third Thesis:— We do not what we will. seems to have led Socrates to his famous thesis:—'Virtue is knowledge.

291    . and everything has been said on one side. The conventions and customs which we observe in conversation. it is nought—it is nought. Then comes Socrates. He is not a mere theorist. A man who would shake himself loose from them. and the moral and intellectual qualities of every individual are freely developed. requires great force of mind. which we partly help to make.). they must learn to do well. and stronger far the prejudice engendered by a pecuniary or party interest in certain tenets. Not the attainment of freedom alone. How are they to be? At any rate they must have the spirit and desire to be. If they are ignorant. or of order alone. but he can be true and innocent. at least in common matters. they must acquire firmness and consistency. and the opposition of our interests when we have dealings with one another ('the buyer saith. The sophistry of an ancient Greek sophist is nothing compared with the sophistry of a religious order. the whole and the parts grow together in his mind. but how to unite freedom with order is the problem which he has to solve. impressed as no other man ever was. In his most secret actions he can show the same high principle (compare Republic) which he shows when supported and watched by public opinion. with the unreality and untruthfulness of popular opinion. and 'the idea of good' is the animating principle of the whole. for we have inherited them. are always obscuring our sense of truth and right. the sophistry of theology. if they are weak. they must begin to take an interest in the great questions which surround them. A single individual cannot easily change public opinion. All of these disguises wear the appearance of the truth. On every side he is met by the world. and the highest education is within the reach of all. who first organizes and then administers the government of his own country. and tells mankind that they must be and not seem. while the head is conceiving. if they are conscious of doing evil. nor yet a dealer in expedients. but the most real of all things. and they have become a part of us. may be found to take up arms against a whole tribe of politicians and lawyers. and what he does not know.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  rest. or of a church in which during many ages falsehood has been accumulating. the sophistry of medicine. They must try to be what they would fain appear in the eyes of their fellow-men. There is the sophistry of law. Who is the true and who the false statesman?— The true statesman is he who brings order out of disorder. he is not of the world. Few persons speak freely from their own natures. and having made a nation. he can know what he does. if they are indifferent. on some question of humanity or truth or right. Although obliged to descend to the world. he hardly knows where to begin in the search after truth. and we do not easily disengage ourselves from them. which is not an abstraction of theologians. in which all the citizens have an equal chance of health and life. but on an ideal state. and be too much for them. he can form a judgment of his own. even an ordinary man. and nothing on the other. some of them are very ancient. from the natural rectitude of his disposition. seeks to reconcile the national interests with those of Europe and of mankind. and scarcely any one dares to think for himself: most of us imperceptibly fall into the opinions of those around us. being another name for ourselves when regarded collectively and subjected to the influences of society. and though not without an effort. The sophistry of human nature is far more subtle than the deceit of any one man. And on some fitting occasion. His thoughts are fixed not on power or riches or extension of territory. and have nothing in them which they can call themselves. simple and independent. the hand is executing.' etc. the sophistry of politics. they must acknowledge their ignorance to themselves.

He has no private likes or dislikes. and he is their obedient servant. he keeps the roadway of politics. for he knows that human life. too. There is a better (as well as a worse) public opinion of which he seeks to lay hold. the pilot. and their statesmen have received justice at their hands. Politics with him are not a mechanism for seeming what he is not. increased security against external enemies. he does not conceal personal enmity under the disguise of moral or political principle: such meannesses. and he will sometimes. He begins with popularity. In order to govern men he becomes like them. Then when the storm descends and the winds blow. He will sometimes ask himself what the next generation will say of him. or for carrying out the will of the majority. He has no intention of fighting an uphill battle. the cry of ingratitude is heard. not hurrying them on when the mind of a nation is unprepared for them.' they 'bear themselves' like vulgar and tyrannical masters. which is most unreasonable. especially when his powers are failing. he must 'educate his party' until they cease to be a party. their saviours in extremity. as there is also a deeper current of human affairs in which he is borne up when the waves nearer the shore are threatening him. must make them like himself. half-blind and deaf. He will take time for the execution of his plans. But unpopularity soon follows him. they do not really desire them to obey all the ignorant impulses of the popular mind. is sufficient for the fulfilment of many great purposes. as Socrates says. but because he knows that the result of his life as a whole will then be more fairly judged. The false politician asks not what is true. and under all forms of government. 292    . that the work will be still going on when he is no longer here. though he knows not beforehand the hour of danger. He is unwilling to incur the persecution and enmity which political convictions would entail upon him. he must breathe into them the spirit which will hereafter give form to their institutions. working in the appointed time. and in fair weather sails gallantly along. into which men too often fall unintentionally. The only measures of which he approves are the measures which will pass. But he knows also that there are permanent principles of politics which are always tending to the well-being of states—better administration.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  The statesman who places before himself these lofty aims has undertaken a task which will call forth all his powers. for the people. not like Plato's captain in the Republic. think of that other 'city of which the pattern is in heaven' (Republic). not because he is careful of posthumous fame. the reconciliation of conflicting elements. their 'minds are married in conjunction. and in his love for his country and for mankind. For men expect their leaders to be better and wiser than themselves: to be their guides in danger. Then. The true politician. Himself a representative man. is ready to take command of the ship and guide her into port. He knows. 'if not long in comparison with eternity' (Republic). and if they fail them in a crisis they are disappointed. better education. The false politician is the serving-man of the state. if he would rule men. have done what might be expected of them. but what is the opinion of the world—not what is right. He acknowledges that he cannot take the world by force—two or three moves on the political chess board are all that he can fore see—two or three weeks moves on the political chessboard are all that he can foresee—two or three weeks or months are granted to him in which he can provide against a coming struggle. he must know mankind before he can manage them. These are not 'of to-day or yesterday. he is the representative not of the lower but of the higher elements of the nation. are absorbed in the consciousness of his mission. but like the Ruler of the Universe Himself. but with penetrating eye and quick ear.' but are the same in all times. He must control himself before he can control others. but what is expedient. who have been taught no better.

and may not be remembered by a distant posterity. and that if he does nothing for them they will in some states of society be utterly helpless. because he has not equally deceived expectations. they cannot do for themselves. and the terrible consequences which Plato foretells no longer await an English statesman. he must win over the majority to himself. and therefore he will allow largely for the unknown element of politics. and though he depends upon the support of a party. from imperfect education or deficient powers of combination. For the many cannot exist without the few. He will not be always consistent. It is not a small part of human evils which kings and governments make or cure. has in others a tendency to degenerate. He would have 293    . There are always discontented idealists in politics who. Although he is not the mere executor of the will of the majority. and still oftener in private conversation. Let us illustrate the meaning of his words by applying them to the history of our own country. The statesman is well aware that a great purpose carried out consistently during many years will at last be executed. We may further observe that the art of government. He is their leader and not their follower. though the world has grown milder. According to Socrates the true governor will find ruin or death staring him in the face. He is playing for a stake which may be partly determined by some accident. but they are widely spread. whether he is dealing with children in politics. For he may have the existing order of society against him. we constantly find them recurring in reviews and newspapers. He knows that if he does too much for them they will do nothing. and will only be induced to govern from the fear of being governed by a worse man than himself (Republic). will rarely be rewarded by the gratitude of his own generation. and what. And sometimes the more unscrupulous man is better esteemed than the more conscientious. any one who is not actuated by a blind ambition will only undertake from a sense of duty a work in which he is most likely to fail. He will neither exaggerate nor undervalue the power of a statesman. he must accustom his followers to act together. but partly also from a true sense of the faults of eminent men. not excepting the greatest names of history. Governing for the people cannot easily be combined with governing by the people: the interests of classes are too strong for the ideas of the statesman who takes a comprehensive view of the whole. but for the future. tells us that he is the only real politician of his time. Such sentiments may be unjust. for the world is changing. and even if he succeed. And so partly from vanity and egotism. Just as the actual philosopher falls short of the one wise man. while in some respects tending to improve. but in order to lead he must also follow. like Socrates in the Gorgias. if he plays long enough he is certain of victory. neither adopting the 'laissez faire' nor the 'paternal government' principle. And in modern times. he will remember that he is the minister of the whole. seek to do for the people what the government can do for them. No matter whether a statesman makes high professions or none at all—they are reduced sooner or later to the same level. so does the actual statesman fall short of the ideal. He lives not for the present. a temper of dissatisfaction and criticism springs up among those who are ready enough to acknowledge the inferiority of their own powers. who is not a politician at all. wisdom and experience are from above. as institutions become more popular.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  The true statesman is aware that he must adapt himself to times and circumstances. or with full-grown men. but he will. if the material force of a country is from below. he must enlighten public opinion. Mankind have an uneasy feeling that they ought to be better governed than they are. find fault with all statesmen past as well as present. But the game being one in which chance and skill are combined. and he is not at all sure that he will be appreciated either now or then. He must have allies if he is to fight against the world. Socrates.

the familiar principle he invests with a new dignity.' We may imagine with Plato an ideal statesman in whom practice and speculation are perfectly harmonized. or preacher. are still the proper material of poetry. has even less of seriousness in her composition. or Canning or Sir R. Ricardo. (Compare Thucyd. The poet clothes them with beauty. The philosopher is naturally unfitted for political life.) Who is the true poet? Plato expels the poets from his Republic because they are allied to sense. so as to awaken the feeling of them in others. his great ideas are not understood by the many. are also happier than the lives of those who are more in the public eye. who have not forgotten their high vocation of teachers. The great art of novel writing. But experience shows that they are commonly divorced—the ordinary politician is the interpreter or executor of the thoughts of others. or even to increase our knowledge of human nature. The poet and the prophet. that peculiar creation of our own and the last century. and has a power of making them enter into the hearts and memories of men. as they are stiller and deeper. of the noblest thoughts of man. in primitive antiquity are one and the same. or to be the expression of the feelings of mankind. good or bad. And in a similar spirit he declares in the Gorgias that the stately muse of tragedy is a votary of pleasure and not of truth. because they stimulate the emotions. and make them better acquainted with the world around them. The noblest truths. of love. though they are regarded as dreamers and visionaries by their own contemporaries. because they are thrice removed from the ideal truth. threatens to absorb all literature. Bentham. Adam Smith. Do we not often hear the novel writer censured for attempting to convey a lesson to the minds of his readers? Yet the true office of a poet or writer of fiction is not merely to give amusement. Yet perhaps the lives of thinkers. for there is no necessary opposition between them. those who would have been ashamed of them during their lives claim kindred with them.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  said that not Pitt or Fox. Peel. but to speak of them in a deeper and tenderer way than they are ordinarily felt. he is a thousand miles away from the questions of the day. One or two only in modern times. He uses the things of sense so as to indicate what is beyond. the embodiment in words of the happiest and holiest moments of life. nevertheless they sowed in the minds of men seeds which in the next generation have become an irresistible power. And when they are no longer here. He has not only to speak of themes above the level of ordinary life. such as Goethe or Wordsworth. like the Italian statesman Cavour. sung of in the purest and sweetest language. and are proud to be called by their names. of the greatest deeds of the past. He is his own critic. His mission is not to disguise men from themselves. but Locke. and the half-conscious feeling is strengthened by the expression. They were private persons. 'Herein is that saying true. but to reveal to them their own nature. He expresses what the better part of us would fain say. In modern times we almost ridicule the idea of poetry admitting of a moral. but in later ages they seem to fall apart. together with the sister art of review writing. They have the promise of the future. The poet of the future may return to his greater calling of the 294    . The old he makes young again. True poetry is the remembrance of youth. There have been poets in modern times. he raises us through earth to heaven. Hume. which. he finds a noble expression for the common-places of morality and politics. for the spirit of poetry and of criticism are not divided in him. are the real politicians of their time. One soweth and another reapeth. and hardly ever brings to the birth a new political conception. have created the world in which they moved. and the two greatest of the Greek dramatists owe their sublimity to their ethical character. These during the greater part of their lives occupied an inconsiderable space in the eyes of the public.

how can we suppose that such utterances have any healing or life-giving influence on the minds of men? 'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:' Art then must be true. but he indirectly implies that the evils of this life will be corrected in another. and for a very few a Tartarus or hell. the veil of the ideal state. For no visible thing can reveal the invisible. the veil of another life. he has the 'savoir faire. indeed. Might not the novelist. and declares that no one. with truth. He is not the master of his words. supposes a purgatory or place of education for mankind in general. that it should be pursued only with a view to 'the improvement of the citizens. make an ideal. without any serious purpose. not even the wisest of the Greeks.' Plato does not say that God will order all things for the best (compare Phaedo). having his eye 295    . he sings the strain of love in the latest fashion. but it is not really discussed. For when we substitute a higher pleasure for a lower we raise men in the scale of existence. is fully aware. a sophistry. whether in the Bible or Plato. like the Puritans. And so. as of religion. that it should make provision for the soul's highest interest. It is observable that in the Republic he raises this question. The reconciliation of poetry. forgetful of measure and order.' from which all his life long a good man has been praying to be delivered. like all similar descriptions.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  prophet or teacher. or rather many ideals of social life. In all of them order has to be brought out of disorder. From this elevation or exaggeration of feeling Plato seems to shrink: he leaves it to the Stoics in a later generation to maintain that when impaled or on the rack the philosopher may be happy (compare Republic). he idealizes the sensual. or. Modern poetry is often a sort of plaything. instead of raising men above themselves he brings them back to the 'tyranny of the many masters. we hardly know what may not be effected for the human race by a better use of the poetical and imaginative faculty. Neither is the element of pleasure to be excluded. This is what we mean by the greatest improvement of man. some fancy of a heated brain is worked out with the strangest incongruity. and politics must be true. having considered in what way 'we can best spend the appointed time. Of this Plato. perfect in every part. There is a further paradox of ethics. The myth which terminates the dialogue is not the revelation. but rather. Plato here. we leave the result with God. are allowed to descend upon it and it passes out of sight. he will express not that which is truest. unlike some commentators on Scripture.' He ministers to the weaker side of human nature (Republic). in which. better than a thousand sermons? Plato. the shadow of another life. truth out of error and falsehood. Such an one seeks to gratify the taste of his readers. too. a flattery. may still be possible. can affirm any other doctrine without being ridiculous.' or trick of writing. in Plato's language. the poet lends wings to his fancy and exhibits his gifts of language and metre. And as we are very far from the best imaginable world at present. but his words—perhaps borrowed from another—the faded reflection of some French or German or Italian writer. And often. or sham. in which pleasure and pain are held to be indifferent. is too much afraid of poetic and artistic influences. but he has not the higher spirit of poetry. Though we are not going to banish the poets. but that which is strongest. Only he is prepared to maintain the ultimate triumph of truth and right. have the better of him. He has no conception that true art should bring order out of disorder. Neither will he dogmatize about the manner in which we are 'born again' (Republic). as in the Phaedo and Republic. The martyr or sufferer in the cause of right or truth is often supposed to die in raptures. and virtue at the time of action and without regard to consequences is happiness. But he is not without a true sense of the noble purposes to which art may be applied (Republic). Instead of a great and nobly-executed subject. and the life of man must be true and not a seeming or sham.

and the remembrance of them be an example to us. Three of these greater myths. A very few among the sons of men have made themselves independent of circumstances. St. to the mob of politicians: (12) the ironical tale of 296    . yet the ideal of them may be present to us. Bernard. There are four longer ones: these occur in the Phaedrus. and the nature and degrees of knowledge having been previously set forth in the abstract are represented in a picture: (9) the fiction of the earth-born men (Republic. Sym. and the mutinous sailors (Republic). which is a parody of the orator Lysias. which is the more disinterested. namely those contained in the Phaedo. compare Laws). But if there were no future. which is a fragment only. will he suppose that God has forsaken him or that the future is to be a mere blank to him. Neither. might he not still be happy in the performance of an action which was attended only by a painful death? He himself may be ready to thank God that he was thought worthy to do Him the least service. on the other hand. without looking for a reward. or the Catholic priest who lately devoted himself to death by a lingering disease that he might solace and help others. Phaedo. and of the philosopher. the pilot. May not the service of God. (1) the myth. He who serves man without the thought of reward is deemed to be a more faithful servant than he who works for hire.: (11) the parable of the noble captain. To these may be added. or rather the eternity of the soul. and as far as the mind can reach. past. in which the life of innocence is contrasted with the ordinary life of man and the consciousness of evil: (2) the legend of the Island of Atlantis. or rather fable. and (7) the tale of Thamus and of Theuth. in that hour. If he were certain that there were no life to come. in which by the adaptation of an old tradition Plato makes a new beginning for his society: (10) the myth of Aristophanes respecting the division of the sexes. he has in him already a principle stronger than death. the rival speech of Socrates and the recantation of it. is his who has not known. he needs no arguments to convince him of immortality. The magnificent myth in the Phaedrus treats of the immortality.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  fixed on a city which is in heaven. in which the previous argument is recapitulated. relate to the destiny of human souls in a future life. in which is represented the relation of the better part of the world. the joys of another life may not have been present to his mind at all. but yet has believed. but soon falls into the background: (4) the beautiful but rather artificial tale of Prometheus and Epimetheus narrated in his rhetorical manner by Protagoras in the dialogue called after him: (5) the speech at the beginning of the Phaedrus. The greatest act of faith. St. he would not have wished to speak or act otherwise than he did in the cause of truth or of humanity. present. an imaginary history. was thinking of the 'sweets' of heaven? No. the only faith which cannot pass away. and their lives may shed a light on many dark places both of philosophy and theology. Catharine of Sienna. the Gorgias and the Republic. occurring in the Statesman. Gorgias. and Republic. THE MYTHS OF PLATO. He who has attained to such a temper of mind has already present with him eternal life. of right. the work was already heaven to him and enough. Do we suppose that the mediaeval saint. To these may be added (6) the tale of the grasshoppers. The myths of Plato are a phenomenon unique in literature. in which is included a former as well as a future state of existence. That in the Republic is the most elaborate and finished of them. St. and trust in God will be sufficient. Much less will the dying patriot be dreaming of the praises of man or of an immortality of fame: the sense of duty. commenced in the Timaeus and continued in the Critias: (3) the much less artistic fiction of the foundation of the Cretan colony which is introduced in the preface to the Laws. or to come. both in the Phaedrus: (8) the parable of the Cave (Republic). be in like manner the higher? And although only a very few in the course of the world's history—Christ himself being one of them—have attained to such a noble conception of God and of the human soul. Francis.

To make the list complete. as breaking upon us in a first. The beautiful and ingenious fancy occurs to Plato that the upper atmosphere is an earth and heaven in one. some of them extend over several pages. and also more poetical. should not be forgotten. and is to that heavenly earth what the desert and the shores of the ocean are to us. It is observable that nearly all these parables or continuous images are found in the Republic. or the numerical interval which separates king from tyrant. meaning the passions which are always liable to break out: the animated comparisons of the degradation of philosophy by the arts to the dishonoured maiden. The Inferno is reserved for great criminals only. There is no clear distinction of soul and body. It includes a Paradiso. but containing under a human skin a lion and a many-headed monster (Republic): the great beast. The myth in the Gorgias is one of those descriptions of another life which. stripped of the veils and clothes which might prevent them from seeing into or being seen by one another.—a somewhat laboured figure of speech intended to illustrate the two different ways in which the laws speak to men (Laws). and of the tyrant to the parricide. but it is more cosmological. that which occurs in the Theaetetus. There also occur in Plato continuous images. having the form of a man. the mathematical figure of the number of the state (Republic). appear to contain reminiscences of the mysteries. out of which they put their heads for a moment or two and behold a world beyond. having first taken away his arms': the dog. and Inferno. not improved. as engaged in a chase. yet they retain a sort of shadowy form when they cry for mercy on the shores of the lake. the populace: and the wild beast within us.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  the pilot who plies between Athens and Aegina charging only a small payment for saving men from death. Both are exposed to view. the chief point or moral being that in the judgments of another world there is no possibility of concealment: Zeus has taken from men the power of foreseeing death. i. of the midwifery of Socrates. fairer and purer than that in which we dwell. the spirits beneath the earth are spoken of as souls only. and the philosopher alone is said to have got rid of the body. The myth of the Phaedo is of the same type.): (13) the treatment of freemen and citizens by physicians and of slaves by their apprentices. who are generated in the transition from timocracy to oligarchy: the sun. like the Sixth Aeneid of Virgil. A part of the myth consists of description of the interior of the earth. like the sister myths of the Phaedo and the Republic. As the fishes live in the ocean. The structure of the fiction is very slight. which is repeated. the reason being that he is uncertain whether to live or die is better for them (Gor. which gives the opportunity of introducing several mythological names and of providing places of torment for the wicked. The argument of the dialogue is frequently referred to. from the Gorgias: the argument personified as veiling her face (Republic). It supposes the body to continue and to be in another world what it has become in this. as well as other homes or places for the very good 297    . in the Sixth Book of the Republic: the composite animal. All the three myths in Plato which relate to the world below have a place for repentant sinners. and brings together the souls both of them and their judges naked and undisguised at the judgment-seat. and the meaning breaks through so as rather to destroy the liveliness and consistency of the picture. who is your only philosopher: the grotesque and rather paltry image of the argument wandering about without a head (Laws). is perhaps the only exception. Purgatorio. which is to the visible world what the idea of good is to the intellectual. who 'beats his father. It is a vision of the rewards and punishments which await good and bad men after death. mankind are living in a lower sphere. a glorified earth.e. second and third wave:— on these figures of speech the changes are rung many times over. appearing and reappearing at intervals: such as the bees stinging and stingless (paupers and thieves) in the Eighth Book of the Republic. The earth which we inhabit is a sediment of the coarser particles which drop from the world above.

In the myth of the Phaedo they are carried down the river Acheron to the Acherusian lake. They are presented in the most lively and graphic manner.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  and very bad. figures of speech into realities. and are purified of their evil deeds. where they cry to their victims for mercy. It has a greater verisimilitude than they have. and receive the rewards of their good. and they have an affinity to the mysteries and to the Orphic modes of worship. It will be noticed by an attentive reader that the twelve days during which Er lay in a trance after he was slain coincide with the time passed by the spirits in their pilgrimage. We should like to know what became of the infants 'dying almost as soon as they were born. our curiosity. and that the generality of mankind are between them. are features of the great allegory which have an indescribable grandeur and power. ascending and descending at either chasm of heaven and earth. The three myths are unlike anything else in Plato. And there is another class of hardly-curable sinners who are allowed from time to time to approach the shores of the Acherusian lake. to borrow an expression of his own. is consistent with itself. nor perhaps any allegory or parable relating to the unseen world. however reluctantly. there to remain as the penalty of atrocious crimes. Plato seems to make use of them when he has reached the limits of human knowledge. The myth of the Republic is more subtle and also more consistent than either of the two others. It is a more familiar remark that we constantly blame others when we have only ourselves to blame. at any rate there is hardly anything like them in other Greek writings which have a serious purpose. and conversing when they come out into the meadow. that there is an element of chance in human life with which it is sometimes impossible for man to cope. and the philosopher must acknowledge. without satisfying. It is a natural reflection which is made by Plato elsewhere. that the two extremes of human character are rarely met with. Hence a place must be found for them. who are cast into Tartarus. the majestic figures of the judges sitting in heaven. There are also incurable sinners. They are akin to what may be termed the underground religion in all ages and countries. It is a curious observation. which if they obtain they come out into the lake and cease from their torments. The language of philosophy mingles with that of mythology. but they are never insisted on as true. or. in which discussions of theology are mixed up with the incidents of travel. 298    . not often made. and mythological personages are associated with human beings: they are also garnished with names and phrases taken out of Homer. that good men who have lived in a well-governed city (shall we say in a religious and respectable society?) are more likely to make mistakes in their choice of life than those who have had more experience of the world and of evil. or model of the heavens. The remark already made respecting the inconsistency of the two other myths must be extended also to this: it is at once an orrery. it is only affirmed that nothing better can be said about a future life. abstract ideas are transformed into persons. There is an Oriental. Neither this. and a picture of the Day of Judgment. We have many of us known men who. like Odysseus. nor any of the three greater myths of Plato. where they dwell.' but Plato only raises. in spirit they are mediaeval. The two companies of souls. or rather an Egyptian element in them. and is full of touches which recall the experiences of human life. That men drink more of the waters of forgetfulness than is good for them is a poetical description of a familiar truth. when he is standing on the outside of the intellectual world. and with other fragments of Greek tradition. these suffer everlastingly. These myths may be compared with the Pilgrim's Progress of Bunyan. the voice heard by Ardiaeus. have wearied of ambition and have only desired rest. To a certain extent they are un-Greek.

which is our ordinary life? For a while Plato balances the two sides of the serious controversy. it was a state of innocence in which men had neither wants nor cares. In the Phaedrus it is really a figure of speech in which the 'spiritual combat' of this life is represented. the youth became a child. There were no great estates. argues from the consistency of the tale to its truth. It treats of a former rather than of a future life. and God was to man what man now is to the animals. They have also a kind of authority gained by the employment of sacred and familiar names. Our present life is the result of the struggle which was then carried on. nor any traditions of the past. The connection between the reversal of the earth's motion and the reversal of human life is of course verbal only. The new order of the world was immediately under the government of God. as it is often projected into a future. The art of making stories of ghosts and apparitions credible is said to consist in the manner of telling them. the tale of the earth-born men in the Republic appears at first sight to be an extravagant fancy.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  They are very simple in style. picturesqueness. because men were all born out of the earth. the infant vanished into the earth. The question is then asked. in which the earth brought forth all things spontaneously.— under that of Cronos. and by the reversal of the earth's motion had their lives reversed and were restored to youth and beauty: the dead came to life. This world is relative to a former world. What will become of them after death? The first question is unfamiliar to us.' All literature gathers into itself many elements of the past: for example. or private possessions. just as mere fragments of the words of Scripture. but it is restored to propriety when we remember that it is based on a legendary belief. the old grew middle-aged. This is what Plato calls the 'reign of Cronos. or families. The myth in the Statesman relates to a former cycle of existence. yet Plato. the naturalness of the occasion. have a power of their own. simplicity. This art is possessed by Plato in a degree which has never been equalled. and of the animal lusts and instincts on the other. the child an infant. The myth in the Phaedrus is even greater than the myths which have been already described. it has been as influential and as widely spread as the other. under which of these two cycles of existence was man the happier. and seen truth in the form of the universal before it was born in this world. We ask the question. The answer depends on another question: What use did the children of Cronos make of their time? 299    . and the middle-aged young. which he has suggested in a figure. in which men were born of the earth. and they are also a reform of mythology. They are a substitute for poetry and mythology. and 'there is some better thing remaining for the good than for the evil. Where were men before birth? As we likewise enquire. which was a state of innocence. but is of a different character. The majesty and power of the whole passage—especially of what may be called the theme or proem (beginning 'The mind through all her being is immortal')—can only be rendered very inadequately in another language. and therefore seems to be unnatural. It represents the conflict of reason aided by passion or righteous indignation on the one hand. The moral of them may be summed up in a word or two: After death the Judgment. the mention of little circumstances. but if we survey the whole human race. put together in any form and applied to any subject. The soul of man has followed the company of some god. like theologians in other ages. and the like. a few touches bring the picture home to the mind. The effect is gained by many literary and conversational devices. such as the previous raising of curiosity. or that of Zeus.' and in like manner he connects the reversal of the earth's motion with some legend of which he himself was probably the inventor. and make it present to us.

poetry and prose.).The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  They had boundless leisure and the faculty of discoursing. It is characteristic of Plato and of his age to pass from the abstract to the concrete. The world begins again. A poem may be contained in a word or two. or worked out too much at length. to him they are indeed 'more plastic than wax' (Republic).' and pass from one to the other (compare for examples Psalms xviii. as Plato rather mischievously adds. A great writer knows how to strike both these chords. and alluded to again and again. and xix. and the familiarity of the associations employed. and then again comprehending a wider range and soaring to the abstract and universal. In the myths and parables of Plato the ease and grace of conversation is not forgotten: they are spoken. Did they employ these advantages with a view to philosophy. the garb of mythology. but is quickly caught up. and so well told that we are more than half-inclined to believe them (compare Phaedrus). Whether such a use of language is puerile or noble depends upon the genius of the writer or speaker. It is useless to criticise the broken metaphors of Plato. 300    . In this fanciful tale Plato has dropped. But he has discovered a use of language in which they are united. from poetry to reality. and the difference between human and divine government. 'Nobody knows what they did. In theology and philosophy we necessarily include both 'the moral law within and the starry heaven above. which he supposes to have no place among the children of Cronos any more than in the ideal state. We are in the habit of opposing speech and writing. The descriptions of Plato have a greater life and reality than is to be found in any modern writing. if the effect of the whole is to create a picture not such as can be painted on canvas. Did they pass their time in eating and drinking and telling stories to one another and to the beasts?—in either case there would be no difficulty in answering. Plato can do with words just as he pleases. He has also carried a step further his speculations concerning the abolition of the family and of property. After another natural convulsion. which gives a fitting expression to the highest truths. He suggests several curious and important thoughts. But then. To the first there succeeds a second epoch. A secular age succeeds to a theocratical. as it would still be in our own day in a genial and sympathetic society. and man is left to the government of himself. or half reveal to us by a sudden flash the thoughts of many hearts. This is due to their homeliness and simplicity. and arts and laws are slowly and painfully invented. stories which are told to a living audience. but which is full of life and meaning to the reader. and in which the trifles of courtesy and the familiarities of daily life are not overlooked. As in conversation too. or almost dropped. the existence of a world without traditions. but with the animals. God withdraws his guiding hand. sometimes remaining within the sphere of the visible. Language is the expression of the seen. and moves in a region between them. the striking image or figure of speech is not forgotten. Even in the same sentence he may employ both modes of speech not improperly or inharmoniously. such as the possibility of a state of innocence. not written words.' and therefore the doubt must remain undetermined. any single figure of speech if too often repeated. Often the rapid transition from one image to another is pleasing to us: on the other hand. which may call up not one but many latent images. not only with one another. in which the order of the world and of human life is once more reversed. and also of the unseen. gathering from every nature some addition to their store of knowledge? or. becomes prosy and monotonous.

SOCRATES: Very good. SOCRATES: And are we late for a feast? CALLICLES: Yes. at some other time. SOCRATES: How fortunate! will you ask him. for Gorgias has just been exhibiting to us many fine things. and what it is which he professes and teaches. Gorgias. is late for a fray. then. our friend Chaerephon is to blame. Chaerephon. if you prefer. Socrates. Callicles. and I will make him give the exhibition again either now. for Gorgias is staying with me. and indeed to answer questions is a part of his exhibition. Polus. and he shall exhibit to you. Chaerephon—? CHAEREPHON: What shall I ask him? 301    . he may. for Gorgias is a friend of mine. for he would keep us loitering in the Agora.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  GORGIAS By Plato Translated by Benjamin Jowett PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Callicles. SCENE: The house of Callicles. SOCRATES: It is not my fault. that any one in my house might put any question to him. CHAEREPHON: Never mind. and that he would answer. Chaerephon—does Socrates want to hear Gorgias? CHAEREPHON: Yes. CALLICLES: There is nothing like asking him. CALLICLES: The wise man. defer the exhibition to some other time. the misfortune of which I have been the cause I will also repair. and a delightful feast. Socrates. as you (Chaerephon) suggest. but not for a feast. that was our intention in coming. Socrates. as the proverb says. Callicles. CALLICLES: Come into my house. for he was saying only just now. CALLICLES: What is the matter. or. but will he answer our questions? for I want to hear from him what is the nature of his art.

or of his brother Polygnotus. CHAEREPHON: Then we should be right in calling him a physician? POLUS: Yes. Gorgias. GORGIAS: Of that.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: Ask him who he is. and have their origin in experience. for I think that Gorgias. and will ask him: Tell me. and 302    . Polus. is tired. that many years have elapsed since any one has asked me a new one. CHAEREPHON: What do you mean? SOCRATES: I mean such a question as would elicit from him. there are many arts among mankind which are experimental. POLUS: O Chaerephon. and if you like. you may make trial of me too. for experience makes the days of men to proceed according to art. if he had been a maker of shoes. CHAEREPHON: And if he had the skill of Aristophon the son of Aglaophon. CHAEREPHON: But now what shall we call him—what is the art in which he is skilled. Gorgias. CHAEREPHON: And do you. POLUS: Ask:— CHAEREPHON: My question is this: If Gorgias had the skill of his brother Herodicus. Chaerephon. POLUS: Yes. what ought we to call him? POLUS: Clearly. Chaerephon. who has been talking a long time. what ought we to call him? Ought he not to have the name which is given to his brother? POLUS: Certainly. Chaerephon: I was saying as much only just now. CHAEREPHON: Then you must be very ready. think that you can answer better than Gorgias? POLUS: What does that matter if I answer well enough for you? CHAEREPHON: Not at all:—and you shall answer if you like. you can make trial. is our friend Callicles right in saying that you undertake to answer any questions which you are asked? GORGIAS: Quite right. and I may add. Do you understand? CHAEREPHON: I understand. indeed. the answer that he is a cobbler. a painter.

in Homeric language. as you answered Chaerephon when he asked you at first. if you would call me that which. but in all places. is my art. POLUS: Why. GORGIAS: What do you mean. GORGIAS: Then why not ask him yourself? SOCRATES: But I would much rather ask you. that is exactly what I profess to make them. of the art. and the art in which he is a proficient is the noblest. did I not say that it was the noblest of arts? SOCRATES: Yes. Socrates. but you never said what the art was. you praised it as if you were answering some one who found fault with it. when Chaerephon asked you what was the art which Gorgias knows. And our friend Gorgias is one of the best. and different persons in different ways are proficient in different arts.' SOCRATES: I should wish to do so. from the few words which Polus has uttered. not only at Athens. and by what name we were to describe Gorgias. SOCRATES: And are we to say that you are able to make other men rhetoricians? GORGIAS: Yes. if you are disposed to answer: for I see. Gorgias. indeed. to say what this art is. GORGIAS: Then pray do. 'I boast myself to be.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  inexperience according to chance. Socrates? SOCRATES: I mean that he has not exactly answered the question which he was asked. SOCRATES: Polus has been taught how to make a capital speech. Socrates. and what we ought to call Gorgias: Or rather. that he has attended more to the art which is called rhetoric than to dialectic.—what are we to call you. and the best persons in the best arts. Socrates? SOCRATES: Because. POLUS: What makes you say so. 303    . Polus. and ask the same question. let me turn to you. but what was the nature. Gorgias. and a good one too. And I would still beg you briefly and clearly. SOCRATES: Then I am to call you a rhetorician? GORGIAS: Yes. and what is the art which you profess? GORGIAS: Rhetoric. but he is not fulfilling the promise which he made to Chaerephon. but that was no answer to the question: nobody asked what was the quality.

SOCRATES: What sort of discourse. GORGIAS: Well. and you would reply (would you not?). with what is rhetoric concerned: I might ask with what is weaving concerned. Gorgias. SOCRATES: Very good then. Socrates. and a maker of rhetoricians. I do think myself good at that. SOCRATES: And music is concerned with the composition of melodies? GORGIAS: It is. SOCRATES: Then rhetoric does not treat of all kinds of discourse? GORGIAS: Certainly not. I admire the surpassing brevity of your answers. and the longer one at some other time. let me ask you. SOCRATES: By Here. exhibit the shorter method now. SOCRATES: I am glad to hear it. SOCRATES: And to understand that about which they speak? 304    . answer me in like manner about rhetoric: with what is rhetoric concerned? GORGIAS: With discourse. GORGIAS: Yes. SOCRATES: And yet rhetoric makes men able to speak? GORGIAS: Yes. as you profess to be a rhetorician.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: And will you continue to ask and answer questions. and reserve for another occasion the longer mode of speech which Polus was attempting? Will you keep your promise. Gorgias. that you never heard a man use fewer words. Gorgias. Gorgias?—such discourse as would teach the sick under what treatment they might get well? GORGIAS: No. but I will do my best to make them as short as possible. and you will certainly say. are of necessity longer. for a part of my profession is that I can be as short as any one. and answer shortly the questions which are asked of you? GORGIAS: Some answers. I will. Socrates. SOCRATES: That is what is wanted. with the making of garments? GORGIAS: Yes. as we are at present doing.

the knowledge of the other arts has only to do with some sort of external action. is true of the other arts:—all of them treat of discourse concerning the subjects with which they severally have to do. but there is no such action of the hand in rhetoric which works and takes effect only through the medium of discourse. and statuary. but I dare say I shall soon know better. and of 305    . SOCRATES: Of discourse concerning diseases? GORGIAS: Just so. SOCRATES: Then medicine also treats of discourse? GORGIAS: Yes. of calculation. SOCRATES: And does not gymnastic also treat of discourse concerning the good or evil condition of the body? GORGIAS: Very true. SOCRATES: As to the arts generally. and require either no action or very little. GORGIAS: Clearly. in painting. And therefore I am justified in saying that rhetoric treats of discourse. SOCRATES: But there are other arts which work wholly through the medium of language. of geometry. GORGIAS: You perfectly conceive my meaning. and all the other arts treat of discourse. if you call rhetoric the art which treats of discourse. the work may proceed in silence. the arts of arithmetic. do you not call them arts of rhetoric? GORGIAS: Because. as. they are for the most part concerned with doing. which we were just now mentioning.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  GORGIAS: Of course. Gorgias. for example. and require little or no speaking. SOCRATES: I am not sure whether I entirely understand you. SOCRATES: But does not the art of medicine. and many other arts. also make men able to understand and speak about the sick? GORGIAS: Certainly. Socrates. SOCRATES: Then why. please to answer me a question:—you would allow that there are arts? GORGIAS: Yes. Socrates. and of such arts I suppose you would say that they do not come within the province of rhetoric. SOCRATES: And the same. as of the hand.

in your apprehension of my meaning. Socrates. I were to say that astronomy is only words—he would ask. Gorgias. the truth about rhetoric: which you would admit (would you not?) to be one of those arts which act always and fulfil all their ends through the medium of words? GORGIAS: True. And then he would proceed to ask: 'Words about what?' and I should reply. but also their numerical relations to themselves and to one another. That also is one of the arts which is concerned wholly with words. 'as aforesaid' of arithmetic. SOCRATES: And now let us have from you. Gorgias is ambiguous. although the precise expression which you used was. like the clerks in the assembly. wealth honestly obtained. the difference being that the art of calculation considers not only the quantities of odd and even numbers. 306    . but in most of them the verbal element is greater—they depend wholly on words for their efficacy and power: and I take your meaning to be that rhetoric is an art of this latter sort? GORGIAS: Exactly. Gorgias. as you replied to me. And if he further said. SOCRATES: And yet I do not believe that you really mean to call any of these arts rhetoric. I am still in the dark: for which are the greatest and best of human things? I dare say that you have heard men singing at feasts the old drinking song. SOCRATES: Words which do what? I should ask. Socrates?' and I should answer. first health. SOCRATES: Well. Words about odd and even numbers. and there are other arts which also use words. And suppose. as the writer of the song says. Socrates. that astronomy tells us about the motions of the stars and sun and moon. thirdly. Socrates. and their relative swiftness. And if he asked again: 'What is the art of calculation?' I should say. in which the singers enumerate the goods of life. again. he might say. 'Words about what. 'Concerned with what?' I should say. 'Socrates. GORGIAS: You are quite right. that rhetoric is an art which works and takes effect only through the medium of discourse. SOCRATES: That again. 'And so. that arithmetic is one of those arts which take effect through words. beauty next. GORGIAS: You would be quite right. let me now have the rest of my answer:—seeing that rhetoric is one of those arts which works mainly by the use of words. but with a difference. and the best of human things. and an adversary who wished to be captious might say. in some of these speech is pretty nearly co-extensive with action. tell me what is that quality in words with which rhetoric is concerned:—Suppose that a person asks me about some of the arts which I was mentioning just now. you call arithmetic rhetoric. then.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  playing draughts.' But I do not think that you really call arithmetic rhetoric any more than geometry would be so called by you. and how many there are of each. To what class of things do the words which rhetoric uses relate? GORGIAS: To the greatest. what is arithmetic?' and I should reply to him.

Who are you? he will reply. the money-maker. I am such a one. 'whether Gorgias or any one else can produce any greater good than wealth. Socrates.' Now I want you. and first the physician will say: 'O Socrates. SOCRATES: Then hear me. there arrives the money-maker.' he will answer. will utterly despise them all. is the greatest good of man. that the producers of those things which the author of the song praises. and I should say the same of you.' And do you consider wealth to be the greatest good of man? 'Of course. Gorgias. that you have very accurately explained what you conceive to be the art of rhetoric. I know the song.' Well. if I am not mistaken. Socrates? 307    . GORGIAS: That good. honest friend. to imagine that this question is asked of you by them and by me. or the senators in the council. 'and my business is to make men beautiful and strong in body. Do you know any other effect of rhetoric over and above that of producing persuasion? GORGIAS: No: the definition seems to me very fair. shall be greatly surprised if Gorgias can show more good of his art than I can show of mine.' What do you mean? I shall say. but for you who are able to speak and to persuade the multitude. as you say. you and I say to him. for I am quite sure that if there ever was a man who entered on the discussion of a matter from a pure love of knowing the truth. for persuasion is the chief end of rhetoric.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  GORGIAS: Yes.' And when I ask. the trainer. and the trainer your slave. SOCRATES: And what would you consider this to be? GORGIAS: What is there greater than the word which persuades the judges in the courts. Gorgias. for my art is concerned with the greatest good of men and not his. and that this is her crown and end.' When I have done with the trainer. Gorgias is deceiving you. GORGIAS: What is coming. And who are you? 'A money-maker. And we shall rejoin: Yes. Do you mean that your art produces the greatest good? 'Certainly. Who are you. that is to say. SOCRATES: Now I think. 'I am a physician. which is truly the greatest. and are you a creator of wealth? 'Yes. you will have the physician your slave. but what is your drift? SOCRATES: I mean to say. Socrates. Gorgias. that rhetoric is the artificer of persuasion.' he will reply. as I expect. 'Consider Socrates. not for himself. 'What good? Let Gorgias answer. or at any other political meeting?—if you have the power of uttering this word. And then he will be sure to go on and ask.' To him again I shall say. but our friend Gorgias contends that his art produces a greater good than yours.' he will say. having this and no other business. and what is your business? 'I am a trainer. and he. and the money-maker of whom you talk will be found to gather treasures. will at once come to you. and of which you are the creator? Answer us. and to individuals the power of ruling over others in their several states.' he replies. Socrates. being that which gives to men freedom in their own persons. 'I too. or the citizens in the assembly.' will be his reply. 'for is not health the greatest good? What greater good can men have. Socrates?' And after him the trainer will come and say. the physician. What is that which. and you mean to say.

—there can be no mistake about that. and of what sort. 'What kind of figures. but in order that the argument may proceed in such a manner as is most likely to set forth the truth. or what are the topics of that persuasion of which you speak. and about what. SOCRATES: And if any one asks us what sort of persuasion. who paint many other figures? GORGIAS: True. SOCRATES: Now I want to know about rhetoric in the same way. SOCRATES: But if there had been no one but Zeuxis who painted them. 308    . 'The painter of figures. SOCRATES: Then arithmetic as well as rhetoric is an artificer of persuasion? GORGIAS: Clearly. And I am going to ask—what is this power of persuasion which is given by rhetoric. that I am right in asking this further question: If I asked.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: I will tell you: I am very well aware that I do not know what. according to you.' should I not be right in asking.—we shall answer. that there are other painters besides. or do other arts have the same effect? I mean to say—Does he who teaches anything persuade men of that which he teaches or not? GORGIAS: He persuades. and we shall be able to show that all the other arts of which we were just now speaking are artificers of persuasion. and where do you find them?' GORGIAS: Certainly. SOCRATES: Again. and about what? But why. and which is given by rhetoric. Socrates. GORGIAS: Very true. SOCRATES: And the reason for asking this second question would be. if I have a suspicion. SOCRATES: And therefore persuade us of them? GORGIAS: Yes. although I have a suspicion about both the one and the other. persuasion which teaches the quantity of odd and even. and about what. And I would have you observe.—is rhetoric the only art which brings persuasion. 'What sort of a painter is Zeuxis?' and you said. is the exact nature. do I ask instead of telling you? Not for your sake. then you would have answered very well? GORGIAS: Quite so. if we take the arts of which we were just now speaking:—do not arithmetic and the arithmeticians teach us the properties of number? GORGIAS: Certainly.

if you approve the question. as in the case of the painter. GORGIAS: Yes. but is there a false knowledge as well as a true? GORGIAS: No. what is the answer? GORGIAS: I answer. a false belief as well as a true?'—you would reply. SOCRATES: And your judgment is right. and that we may not get the habit of anticipating and suspecting the meaning of one another's words. whatever may be your hypothesis.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: Then rhetoric is not the only artificer of persuasion? GORGIAS: True. GORGIAS: I think that you are quite right. SOCRATES: Then. Socrates. I would have you develope your own views in your own way. SOCRATES: And that. Gorgias. and about the just and unjust. SOCRATES: Seeing. SOCRATES: And there is also 'having believed'? GORGIAS: Yes. Gorgias. as I was just now saying. SOCRATES: Well. SOCRATES: And is the 'having learned' the same as 'having believed. was what I was suspecting to be your notion. Socrates. 309    . SOCRATES: Then let me raise another question. if I am not mistaken. but that other arts do the same. but as I was saying that the argument may proceed consecutively. yet I would not have you wonder if by-and-by I am found repeating a seemingly plain question. 'Is there. they are not the same. Socrates. Gorgias. that not only rhetoric works by persuasion. and about what?—is not that a fair way of putting the question? GORGIAS: I think so. for I ask not in order to confute you. there is such a thing as 'having learned'? GORGIAS: Yes. that there is. as you may ascertain in this way:—If a person were to say to you. then.' and are learning and belief the same things? GORGIAS: In my judgment. that rhetoric is the art of persuasion in courts of law and other assemblies. a question has arisen which is a very fair one: Of what persuasion is rhetoric the artificer.

SOCRATES: Shall we then assume two sorts of persuasion. SOCRATES: Come. the sort of persuasion which gives belief without knowledge. as the other is of knowledge? GORGIAS: By all means. that which only gives belief. GORGIAS: Very true. For likely enough some one or other of the young men present might desire to become your pupil. or about those other things also which Socrates has just mentioned?' How will you answer them? 310    . is the artificer of a persuasion which creates belief about the just and unjust. then the military will advise and not the rhetoricians: what do you say. or a position taken. And here let me assure you that I have your interest in view as well as my own. Socrates. then. will the rhetorician be taken into counsel? Surely not. and. SOCRATES: And which sort of persuasion does rhetoric create in courts of law and other assemblies about the just and unjust. I would have you imagine that you are interrogated by them. when walls have to be built or harbours or docks to be constructed. and this again proves that knowledge and belief differ. not the rhetorician but the master workman will advise. SOCRATES: And the rhetorician does not instruct the courts of law or other assemblies about things just and unjust. and a good many too. but they would be too modest to question you.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: No. And therefore when you are interrogated by me. who have this wish. indeed. Gorgias?' they will say—'about what will you teach us to advise the state?—about the just and unjust only. for I do not know what my own meaning is as yet. again. 'What is the use of coming to you. for no one can be supposed to instruct such a vast multitude about such high matters in a short time? GORGIAS: Certainly not. but gives no instruction about them? GORGIAS: True. as would appear. and let us see what we really mean about rhetoric. SOCRATES: And yet those who have learned as well as those who have believed are persuaded? GORGIAS: Just so. Gorgias? Since you profess to be a rhetorician and a maker of rhetoricians. When the assembly meets to elect a physician or a shipwright or any other craftsman. or that which gives knowledge? GORGIAS: Clearly. but he creates belief about them. and in fact I see some. or when generals have to be chosen and an order of battle arranged. For at every election he ought to be chosen who is most skilled. I cannot do better than learn the nature of your art from you. SOCRATES: Then rhetoric.—one which is the source of belief without knowledge.

I think. You must have heard. that when a decision has to be given in such matters the rhetoricians are the advisers. and on any subject. But not on this account are the teachers bad. Such is the nature and power of the art of rhetoric! And yet. and not his instructor. and not at the suggestion of the builders. Socrates. And therefore he is the person who ought to be held in detestation. And if after having become a rhetorician he makes a bad use of his strength and skill. For they taught their art for a good purpose. indeed. but he should not therefore seek to defraud the physician or any other artist of his reputation merely because he has the power. if you only knew how rhetoric comprehends and holds under her sway all the inferior arts. and I have persuaded him to do for me what he would not do for the physician just by the use of rhetoric. when I asked what is the nature of rhetoric. he ought not therefore to strike. and in a contest with a man of any other profession the rhetorician more than any one would have the power of getting himself chosen. when I look at the matter in this way. and had there to argue in the Ecclesia or any other assembly as to which of them should be elected state-physician. Socrates. that the docks and the walls of the Athenians and the plan of the harbour were devised in accordance with the counsels. banished. to be a marvel of greatness. about Themistocles.—surely not. Let me offer you a striking example of this. and partly of Pericles. And I say that if a rhetorician and a physician were to go to any city. Socrates. I should rather say that those who make a bad use of the art are to blame. to be used against enemies and evil-doers. he ought to use rhetoric fairly. that they do not always terminate in mutual edification. the physician would have no chance. he can persuade the multitude better than any other man of anything which he pleases. for the rhetorician can speak against all men and upon any subject. but he who could speak would be chosen if he wished. Socrates. in self-defence not in aggression.—the rhetorician ought not to abuse his strength any more than a pugilist or pancratiast or other master of fence. neither is the art in fault. they are the men who win their point. or apply the knife or hot iron to him.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  GORGIAS: I like your way of leading us on. and put to death.—he in the fulness of his strength goes and strikes his father or mother or one of his familiars or friends. his instructor surely ought not on that account to be held in detestation or banished. For he was intended by his teacher to make a good use of his instructions. Gorgias. partly of Themistocles. or slay his friends. like myself.—because he has powers which are more than a match either for friend or enemy. which always appears to me. Gorgias. SOCRATES: I had that in my admiring mind. And the same argument holds good of rhetoric. who would not allow the physician to give him medicine. Gorgias. stab. have had great experience of disputations. and I will endeavour to reveal to you the whole nature of rhetoric. SOCRATES: Such is the tradition. GORGIAS: And you will observe. I think. but that is no reason why the trainers or fencing-masters should be held in detestation or banished from the city. SOCRATES: You. as he would also use his athletic powers. and turned to a bad use their own strength and skill. and you must have observed. but he abuses them. or bad in itself. or in the definition by 311    . GORGIAS: A marvel. not against everybody. for he can speak more persuasively to the multitude than any of them. rhetoric should be used like any other competitive art. On several occasions I have been with my brother Herodicus or some other physician to see one of his patients. and I myself heard the speech of Pericles when he advised us about the middle wall. and others have perverted their instructions. Suppose a man to have been trained in the palestra and to be a skilful boxer.—in short.

who will learn of you. but. Gorgias. and ask of me any question which you like. Callicles. which shows their desire to listen to you. CHAEREPHON: You hear the audience cheering. and for myself. SOCRATES: Do you mean that you will teach him to gain the ears of the multitude on any subject. in accordance with the wishes of the company. and if we proceed the argument may run on to a great length. And therefore I think that we should consider whether we may not be detaining some part of the company when they are wanting to do something else. but from jealousy of you. I doubt whether I was ever so much delighted before. I am one of those who are very willing to be refuted if I say anything which is not true. not from any interest in the question at issue. for I hold that this is the greater gain of the two. and very willing to refute any one else who says what is not true. SOCRATES: Let me tell you then. just as the gain is greater of being cured of a very great evil than of curing another. what surprises me in your words. not for the sake of discovering the truth. before you came. and therefore if you go on discoursing all day I shall be the better pleased. especially as I have promised to answer all comers. that I am willing. I should like to cross-examine you. and quite as ready to be refuted as to refute. Chaerephon. if Gorgias is. for. Gorgias and Socrates. and I may have misunderstood your meaning. Socrates. lest you should think that I have some animosity against you. that I am quite the man whom you indicate.—let us make an end of it. because I cannot help feeling that you are now saying what is not quite consistent or accordant with what you were saying at first about rhetoric. SOCRATES: I may truly say. though I dare say that you may be right. I had already given a long exhibition. perhaps. both parties conceiving that their opponents are arguing from personal feeling only and jealousy of themselves. we ought to consider the audience. but disagreements are apt to arise—somebody says that another has not spoken truly or clearly. but if you would rather have done. but if not I will let you alone. Now if you are one of my sort. And I am afraid to point this out to you. For I imagine that there is no evil which a man can endure so great as an erroneous opinion about the matters of which we are speaking. I should be disgraced if I refused. Heaven forbid that I should have any business on hand which would take me away from a discussion so interesting and so ably maintained. and that I speak. do you begin. and this not by instruction but by persuasion? 312    . then. You say that you can make any man. and then they get into a passion and begin to quarrel. Why do I say this? Why. CALLICLES: By the gods. And what is my sort? you will ask. although I have been present at many discussions. let us have the discussion out. And sometimes they will go on abusing one another until the company at last are quite vexed at themselves for ever listening to such fellows.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  either party of the subjects which they are discussing. GORGIAS: I should say. and if you claim to be one of my sort. no matter. GORGIAS: After all this. a rhetorician? GORGIAS: Yes. Socrates.

SOCRATES: And the same holds of the relation of rhetoric to all the other arts.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  GORGIAS: Quite so. SOCRATES: Although he is not a physician:—is he? GORGIAS: No. with the multitude. with the ignorant. does he really know anything of what is good and evil. the ignorant is more persuasive with the ignorant than he who has knowledge?—is not that the inference? GORGIAS: In the case supposed:—yes. just or unjust in them. he has only to discover some way of persuading the ignorant that he has more knowledge than those who know? GORGIAS: Yes. SOCRATES: And he who is not a physician must. when the rhetorician is more persuasive than the physician. in fact. GORGIAS: Clearly. base and honourable. but I would rather begin by asking. GORGIAS: Very true. he will have greater power than he who knows? GORGIAS: Certainly. whether he is or is not as ignorant of the just and unjust. the rhetorician need not know the truth about things. SOCRATES: You were saying. you who are the teacher of rhetoric will not teach him—it is not 313    . base or honourable. or has he only a way with the ignorant of persuading them that he not knowing is to be esteemed to know more about these things than some one else who knows? Or must the pupil know these things and come to you knowing them before he can acquire the art of rhetoric? If he is ignorant. good and evil. SOCRATES: You mean to say. as he is of medicine and the other arts. that the rhetorician will have greater powers of persuasion than the physician even in a matter of health? GORGIAS: Yes. SOCRATES: Then. for with those who know he cannot be supposed to have greater powers of persuasion. and is not this a great comfort?—not to have learned the other arts. obviously.—that is. be ignorant of what the physician knows. and yet to be in no way inferior to the professors of them? SOCRATES: Whether the rhetorician is or not inferior on this account is a question which we will hereafter examine if the enquiry is likely to be of any service to us. SOCRATES: But if he is to have more power of persuasion than the physician. I mean to say. Socrates. but the art of rhetoric only.

SOCRATES: And in the same way. but you will make him seem to the multitude to know them. in like manner? He who has learned anything whatever is that which his knowledge makes him. SOCRATES: And must not the just man always desire to do what is just? GORGIAS: That is clearly the inference. SOCRATES: And he who is just may be supposed to do what is just? GORGIAS: Yes. I suppose that if the pupil does chance not to know them. for there you are right. when he does not know them. as you were saying that you would. and is not he who has learned carpentering a carpenter? GORGIAS: Yes. Gorgias. he who has learned what is just is just? GORGIAS: To be sure. then. SOCRATES: Well. I wish that you would reveal to me the power of rhetoric. GORGIAS: Certainly. GORGIAS: Well. he will have to learn of me these things as well. SOCRATES: Say no more. and so he whom you make a rhetorician must either know the nature of the just and unjust already. SOCRATES: And he who has learned medicine is a physician. 314    . SOCRATES: Surely. SOCRATES: And according to the argument the rhetorician must be a just man? GORGIAS: Yes. Socrates. GORGIAS: Certainly. SOCRATES: And he who has learned music a musician? GORGIAS: Yes. unless he knows the truth of these things first? What is to be said about all this? By heavens.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  your business. the just man will never consent to do injustice? GORGIAS: Certainly not. Or will you be unable to teach him rhetoric at all. and seem to be a good man. when he is not. or he must be taught by you.

brought the argument by your captious questions—(do you seriously believe that there is any truth in all this?) For will any one ever acknowledge that he does not know. here are you who should raise us up. and I for my part engage to retract any error into which you may think that I have fallen-upon one condition: 315    . that the rhetorician might make a bad use of rhetoric I noted with surprise the inconsistency into which you had fallen. there will be a great deal of discussion. Gorgias. and to which not he. By the dog. it was. but if not. there would be an advantage in going on with the question. that rhetoric. SOCRATES: But now we are affirming that the aforesaid rhetorician will never have done injustice at all? GORGIAS: True. that when we get old and stumble. that is not to be laid to the charge of his teacher. or of willingness to do injustice. or cannot teach. before we get at the truth of all this. who is not to be banished. shortly afterwards. it was said that rhetoric treated of discourse. a younger generation may be at hand to set us on our legs again in our words and in our actions: and now. as I did. not (like arithmetic) about odd and even. and admitted that to any one who came to him ignorant of them he could teach them. when I heard you saying so. SOCRATES: And at the very outset. that there was a gain in being refuted. but you. that there is great want of manners in bringing the argument to such a pass. the nature of justice? The truth is.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: And will therefore never be willing to do injustice? GORGIAS: Clearly not. SOCRATES: Illustrious Polus. And in the course of our investigations. and in like manner. POLUS: And do even you. Gorgias. could not possibly be an unjust thing. but about just and unjust? Was not this said? GORGIAS: Yes. if the rhetorician makes a bad and unjust use of his rhetoric. the reason why we provide ourselves with friends and children is. But when you added. the rhetorician has been acknowledged to be incapable of making an unjust use of rhetoric. but the wrong-doer himself who made a bad use of his rhetoric—he is to be banished— was not that said? GORGIAS: Yes. and then out of this admission there arose a contradiction—the thing which you dearly love. Socrates. which is always discoursing about justice. and I said. as you will see yourself. SOCRATES: I was thinking at the time. I would leave off. seriously believe what you are now saying about rhetoric? What! because Gorgias was ashamed to deny that the rhetorician knew the just and the honourable and the good. SOCRATES: But do you remember saying just now that the trainer is not to be accused or banished if the pugilist makes a wrong use of his pugilistic art. that if you thought. if I and Gorgias are stumbling.

SOCRATES: And you. in your opinion. POLUS: Then what. you say that you have made an art. Polus. or. and do you answer me. is unable to answer: What is rhetoric? SOCRATES: Do you mean what sort of an art? POLUS: Yes. ask or answer? POLUS: I will ask. POLUS: Does rhetoric seem to you to be an experience? SOCRATES: That is my view. SOCRATES: To say the truth. which is the most freespoken state in Hellas. it is not an art at all. and refusing to answer what you are asked. if. and in your turn ask and answer. which will you do. when you are making a long oration. like him. that having come on a visit to Athens. as I was lately reading in a book of yours. and may not go away? I say rather. SOCRATES: And now. like myself and Gorgias—refute and be refuted: for I suppose that you would claim to know what Gorgias knows—would you not? POLUS: Yes. Polus. take back any statement which you please. I am compelled to stay and listen to you.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  POLUS: What condition? SOCRATES: That you contract. Socrates. 316    . to repeat my former expression. the prolixity of speech in which you indulged at first. have any desire to set it on its legs. invite any one to ask you about anything which he pleases. my friend. should be deprived of the power of speech—that would be hard indeed. But then consider my case:—shall not I be very hardly used. in my opinion. is rhetoric? SOCRATES: A thing which. the same question which Gorgias. but you may be of another mind. if you have a real interest in the argument. POLUS: What thing? SOCRATES: I should say a sort of experience. POLUS: What! do you mean that I may not use as many words as I please? SOCRATES: Only to think. and you will know how to answer him? POLUS: To be sure. you when you got there. as you suppose. and you alone.

SOCRATES: In my opinion then. must not rhetoric be a fine thing? SOCRATES: What are you saying. when I have not as yet told you what rhetoric is? POLUS: Did I not hear you say that rhetoric was a sort of experience? SOCRATES: Will you.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  POLUS: An experience in what? SOCRATES: An experience in producing a sort of delight and gratification. the whole of which rhetoric is a part is not an art at all. but the rhetoric which I mean is a part of a not very creditable whole. who are so desirous to gratify others. Polus. and it appears to me to have many other parts. and I hesitate to answer. For whether or no this is that art of rhetoric which Gorgias practises I really cannot tell:—from what he was just now saying. afford a slight gratification to me? POLUS: I will. POLUS: And if able to gratify others. but the habit of a bold and ready wit. POLUS: Of what profession? SOCRATES: I am afraid that the truth may seem discourteous. SOCRATES: Will you ask me. they are only different parts of the same profession. POLUS: Then are cookery and rhetoric the same? SOCRATES: No. which may 317    . Socrates? Say what you mean. GORGIAS: A part of what. POLUS: In what? I wish that you would explain to me. and never mind me. Polus. which knows how to manage mankind: this habit I sum up under the word 'flattery'. POLUS: What then? SOCRATES: I should say an experience. SOCRATES: An experience in producing a sort of delight and gratification. Gorgias. Polus? Why do you ask me whether rhetoric is a fine thing or not. what sort of an art is cookery? POLUS: What sort of an art is cookery? SOCRATES: Not an art at all. nothing appeared of what he thought of his art. lest Gorgias should imagine that I am making fun of his own profession. one of which is cookery.

until I have first answered. to explain my notion of rhetoric. Polus. for he has not as yet been informed. We may assume the existence of bodies and of souls? GORGIAS: Of course. but good only in appearance? I mean to say. my friend Polus shall refute me. SOCRATES: I will try. Gorgias. SOCRATES: I do not wonder. (This is an untranslatable play on the name 'Polus. colt by name and colt by nature. is only an experience or routine and not an art:—another part is rhetoric. And Polus may ask. is the ghost or counterfeit of a part of politics. What part of flattery is rhetoric? POLUS: I will ask and do you answer? What part of flattery is rhetoric? SOCRATES: Will you understand my answer? Rhetoric. GORGIAS: Indeed. I cannot say that I understand myself. if I am compelled to answer. GORGIAS: True. if you will ask me. Socrates. and if I am mistaken. that there are many persons who appear to be in good health.') GORGIAS: Never mind him. and the art of attiring and sophistry are two others: thus there are four branches. SOCRATES: Which condition may not be really good. what part of flattery is rhetoric: he did not see that I had not yet answered him when he proceeded to ask a further question: Whether I do not think rhetoric a fine thing? But I shall not tell him whether rhetoric is a fine thing or not. 'What is rhetoric?' For that would not be right.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  seem to be an art. I should say. as I maintain. if he likes. and four different things answering to them. is apt to run away. SOCRATES: And this applies not only to the body. but I shall be happy to answer. SOCRATES: You would further admit that there is a good condition of either of them? GORGIAS: Yes. POLUS: And noble or ignoble? SOCRATES: Ignoble. and whom only a physician or trainer will discern at first sight not to be in good health. but also to the soul: in either there may be that which gives the appearance of health and not the reality? 318    . for I have not as yet explained myself.' which means 'a colt. then. for I call what is bad ignoble: though I doubt whether you understand what I was saying before. according to my view. but explain to me what you mean by saying that rhetoric is the counterfeit of a part of politics. but. and our friend Polus.

working deceitfully by the help of lines. and making men affect a spurious beauty to the neglect of the true beauty which is given by gymnastic. and the other medicine. and garments. and pretends to know what food is the best for the body. and if the physician and the cook had to enter into a competition in which children were the judges. and the soul did not discern and discriminate between cookery and medicine. I maintain to be a flattery which takes the form of medicine. of which I know no single name. neither do they know what to make of themselves. but with a difference. after the manner of the geometricians (for I think that by this time you will be able to follow) as tiring: gymnastic:: cookery: medicine. certainly. is a flattery which takes the form of gymnastic. and is knavish. I am prepared to argue in defence of them. but only an experience. as to which of them best understands the goodness or badness of food. and enamels. is ever making pleasure the bait of the unwary. but which may be described as having two divisions. in like manner. and therefore I will only say. or rather. and having no regard for men's highest interests. then. as justice does to medicine. SOCRATES: And now I will endeavour to explain to you more clearly what I mean: The soul and body being two. and the two parts run into one another. which answers to gymnastic. Polus. is the natural difference between the rhetorician and the sophist. the physician would be starved to death. And I do not call any irrational thing an art. I say. and were not under the guidance of the soul. and tiring. and the rule of judgment was the 319    . or rather guessing their natures. And this. false. A flattery I deem this to be and of an ignoble sort. and as cookery: medicine:: rhetoric: justice. for to you I am now addressing myself. seeing that there are these four arts. And in politics there is a legislative part. I would rather not be tedious. because it is unable to explain or to give a reason of the nature of its own applications. two attending on the body and two on the soul for their highest good. she puts on the likeness of some one or other of them. ignoble. one of them gymnastic. and pretends to be that which she simulates. Now. has distributed herself into four shams or simulations of them. justice having to do with the same subject as legislation. or men who had no more sense than children. nor do other men know what to make of them. and another art attending on the body. have two arts corresponding to them: there is the art of politics attending on the soul. Cookery simulates the disguise of medicine.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  GORGIAS: Yes. illiberal. because it aims at pleasure without any thought of the best. Cookery. and medicine with the same subject as gymnastic. flattery knowing. An art I do not call it. For if the body presided over itself. but the body was made the judge of them. and colours. and deceiving them into the belief that she is of the highest value to them. but if you dispute my words. they are apt to be jumbled up together. as tiring: gymnastic:: sophistry: legislation. but by reason of their near connection.

health. what will you do by-and-by. that they are not regarded at all. under the idea that they are flatterers? SOCRATES: Is that a question or the beginning of a speech? POLUS: I am asking a question. I said a part of flattery. or asking a question of me. SOCRATES: Then. did you not say just now that the rhetoricians are like tyrants. Polus. I may have been inconsistent in making a long speech. And now I have told you my notion of rhetoric. which is. POLUS: What do you mean? do you think that rhetoric is flattery? SOCRATES: Nay. SOCRATES: Yes. I hope that you will speak at equal length. POLUS: What! are they not like tyrants? They kill and despoil and exile any one whom they please. and could make no use of my answer when I spoke shortly. SOCRATES: Then my answer is. I cannot make out at each deliverance of yours. SOCRATES: By the dog. and that they kill and despoil or exile any one whom they please? 320    . if at your age. I think that they have the least power of all the citizens. POLUS: How two questions? SOCRATES: Why. let me have the benefit of your brevity. in relation to the soul.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  bodily delight which was given by them. Polus. when I would not allow you to discourse at length. And if I show an equal inability to make use of yours. But I think that I may be excused. if so. because you did not understand me. friend Polus. my friend. then the word of Anaxagoras. and medicine would mingle in an indiscriminate mass. and therefore I had to enter into an explanation. but you ask two questions at once. POLUS: And that is what I do mean to say. POLUS: How not regarded? Have they not very great power in states? SOCRATES: Not if you mean to say that power is a good to the possessor. when you get older? POLUS: And are the good rhetoricians meanly regarded in states. you cannot remember. and cookery. are so well acquainted. but if I am able to understand you. as is only fair: And now you may do what you please with my answer. whether you are giving an opinion of your own. would prevail far and wide: 'Chaos' would come again. POLUS: I am asking a question of you. that word with which you. what cookery is to the body.

and that rhetoric is an art and not a flattery—and so you will have refuted me. will have nothing upon which to congratulate themselves. SOCRATES: No. have you not already said that they do as they think best? SOCRATES: And I say so still. the rhetoricians who do what they think best in states. Polus. SOCRATES: Then you must prove that the rhetorician is not a fool. POLUS: Then surely they do as they will? SOCRATES: I deny it. And I tell you. POLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: How then can the rhetoricians or the tyrants have great power in states. for you say that power is a good to him who has the power. why. that is what I assert. for they do literally nothing which they will. SOCRATES: Well then.—now refute me. this is a good. I admit that. I say to you that here are two questions in one. if as you say. POLUS: And is not that a great power? SOCRATES: Polus has already said the reverse. by the great—what do you call him?—not you. POLUS: Said the reverse! nay. and I will answer both of them. POLUS: But they do what they think best? 321    . that rhetoricians and tyrants have the least possible power in states. but if you leave me unrefuted. and prove to him that they do as they will? POLUS: This fellow— SOCRATES: I say that they do not do as they will. SOCRATES: And would you maintain that if a fool does what he thinks best.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  POLUS: I did. POLUS: Why. and would you call this great power? POLUS: I should not. admitting at the same time that what is done without sense is an evil. POLUS: I do. unless Polus can refute Socrates. and the tyrants. power be indeed a good. as I was just now saying. but only what they think best.

are such as sitting. as I may say in your own peculiar style. SOCRATES: Do men appear to you to will that which they do. SOCRATES: And the things which are neither good nor evil. Socrates. or to will that further end for the sake of which they do a thing? when they take medicine.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: Aye. and their opposites evils? POLUS: I should. or the health for the sake of which they drink? POLUS: Clearly. the health. running. but that for the sake of which he does it. Socrates. do they will the drinking of the medicine which is painful. POLUS: Very well. either prove that I am in error or give the answer yourself. stones. again. for who would desire to take the risk of a voyage or the trouble of business?— But they will. but if you have any questions to ask of me. SOCRATES: Are these indifferent things done for the sake of the good. for example. they do not will that which they are doing at the time. SOCRATES: Wisdom and health and wealth and the like you would call goods. walking. or intermediate and indifferent? POLUS: To be sure. SOCRATES: And are not all things either good or evil. or of neither. is monstrous and absurd. or the good for the sake of the indifferent? POLUS: Clearly. 322    . the indifferent for the sake of the good. SOCRATES: And is not this universally true? If a man does something for the sake of something else. I am willing to answer that I may know what you mean. POLUS: Yes. and the like:—these are the things which you call neither good nor evil? POLUS: Exactly so. SOCRATES: And when men go on a voyage or engage in business. good Polus. POLUS: That. to have the wealth for the sake of which they go on a voyage. SOCRATES: Good words. at the bidding of a physician. POLUS: Certainly. wood. sailing. and which partake sometimes of the nature of good and at other times of evil. or. he wills not that which he does.

that if any one. it will conduce to our good? POLUS: Certainly. SOCRATES: Men who do any of these things do them for the sake of the good? POLUS: Yes. and not do what he wills? POLUS: As though you. but that other thing for the sake of which we do them? POLUS: Most true. SOCRATES: Hence we may infer. rather than not. and when we stand we stand equally for the sake of the good? POLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: But does he do what he wills if he does what is evil? Why do you not answer? POLUS: Well. whether he be a tyrant or a rhetorician. or simply evil. you would not be jealous when you saw any one killing or despoiling or imprisoning whom he pleased. because. will such a one have great power in a state? POLUS: He will not. SOCRATES: Then if great power is a good as you allow. Polus? Am I not right? POLUS: You are right. I suppose not. that which is our good. we do not will those things which we do. we do not will. Oh. and if the act is not conducive to our good we do not will it. under the idea that the act is for his own interests when really not for his own interests. but we will to do that which conduces to our good. Socrates. and under the idea that it is better to walk. he may be said to do what seems best to him? POLUS: Yes. and not have great power. Why are you silent. SOCRATES: Then I was right in saying that a man may do what seems good to him in a state. but that which is neither good nor evil. SOCRATES: And did we not admit that in doing something for the sake of something else. as we think.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: When we walk we walk for the sake of the good. for we will. as you say. would not like to have the power of doing what seemed good to you in the state. SOCRATES: Then we do not will simply to kill a man or to exile him or to despoil him of his goods. no! 323    . kills another or exiles another or deprives him of his property. SOCRATES: And when we kill a man we kill him or exile him or despoil him of his goods.

and not so much as he who is justly killed. certainly they are. POLUS: Were you not saying just now that he is wretched? SOCRATES: Yes. and he is not to be envied if he killed him justly. Socrates? SOCRATES: That may very well be. but only to pity them. and to be pitied? SOCRATES: Not so much. is pitiable and wretched? SOCRATES: No. my friend. POLUS: But is it the greatest? Is not suffering injustice a greater evil? SOCRATES: Certainly not. POLUS: Then would you rather suffer than do injustice? SOCRATES: I should not like either. Polus. but if I must choose between them. POLUS: And are those of whom I spoke wretches? SOCRATES: Yes. Polus! POLUS: Why 'forbear'? SOCRATES: Because you ought not to envy wretches who are not to be envied. and justly slays him. in which case he is also to be pitied. inasmuch as doing injustice is the greatest of evils. do you mean? POLUS: In either case is he not equally to be envied? SOCRATES: Forbear.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: Justly or unjustly. POLUS: How can that be. 324    . if he killed another unjustly. as he who kills him. I do not say that of him: but neither do I think that he is to be envied. I would rather suffer than do. POLUS: And so you think that he who slays any one whom he pleases. POLUS: At any rate you will allow that he who is unjustly put to death is wretched. POLUS: Then you would not wish to be a tyrant? SOCRATES: Not if you mean by tyranny what I mean.

and take a dagger under my arm.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  POLUS: I mean. But let us look at the matter in another way:—do we not acknowledge that the things of which we were speaking. and the docks and triremes of the Athenians. SOCRATES: Why then? POLUS: Why. 325    . SOCRATES: Tell me. for if I think that any of these men whom you see ought to be put to death. because he who did as you say would be certain to be punished. and evil when they are unjust. as I said before. and become a tyrant. doing in all things as you like. SOCRATES: About that you and I may be supposed to agree? POLUS: Yes. Polus. I say that they are good when they are just. Suppose that I go into a crowded Agora. when I have said my say. the power of doing whatever seems good to you in a state. he will have his head broken or his garment torn in an instant. illustrious friend. the man whom I have a mind to kill is as good as dead. and that this is the meaning of great power. killing. my good sir. and exile. when do you say that they are good and when that they are evil—what principle do you lay down? POLUS: I would rather. whether public or private—but can you believe that this mere doing as you think best is great power? POLUS: Certainly not such doing as this. Polus. the infliction of death. in that sort of way any one may have great power—he may burn any house which he pleases. then his power is an evil and is no power. I say to you. Such is my great power in this city. then. SOCRATES: But can you tell me why you disapprove of such a power? POLUS: I can. and I show you the dagger. and all their other vessels. SOCRATES: Well. Socrates. that great power is a benefit to a man if his actions turn out to his advantage. do you reply to me. that you should answer as well as ask that question. and if I am disposed to break his head or tear his garment. since you would rather have the answer from me. SOCRATES: And punishment is an evil? POLUS: Certainly. And if you do not believe me. SOCRATES: Well then. banishing. I have just acquired rare power. and the deprivation of property are sometimes a good and sometimes not a good? POLUS: Certainly. and if not. you would probably reply: Socrates. SOCRATES: And you would admit once more.

Socrates. POLUS: Yes. under the pretence that he would restore to him the throne which Perdiccas has usurped. and the unjust and evil are miserable. and not weary of doing good to a friend. but might not a child refute that statement? SOCRATES: Then I shall be very grateful to the child. my friend. and to prove that many men who do wrong are happy. for I have never had any acquaintance with him. But now he is unspeakably miserable. who was his 326    . Socrates. you would say that you did not even know whether the great king was a happy man? SOCRATES: And I should speak the truth. whether a man is happy? SOCRATES: Most certainly not. if he is wicked. and then. and equally grateful to you if you will refute me and deliver me from my foolishness. to come to him. And I hope that refute me you will.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  POLUS: You are hard of refutation. that is my doctrine. I presume. and after entertaining him and his son Alexander. Polus. as I maintain. according to your doctrine. SOCRATES: What events? POLUS: You see. and if he had meant to do rightly he would have remained his slave. indeed. he himself therefore in strict right was the slave of Alcetas. and without having an acquaintance with him. for he has been guilty of the greatest crimes: in the first place he invited his uncle and master. according to your doctrine. he being only the son of a woman who was the slave of Alcetas the brother of Perdiccas. POLUS: What! and does all happiness consist in this? SOCRATES: Yes. the men and women who are gentle and good are also happy. POLUS: And do you think that he is happy or miserable? SOCRATES: I cannot say. POLUS: Then clearly. Socrates. events which happened only a few days ago are enough to refute you. POLUS: And cannot you tell at once. and I need not go far or appeal to antiquity. POLUS: Then. Polus. that Archelaus the son of Perdiccas is now the ruler of Macedonia? SOCRATES: At any rate I hear that he is. POLUS: That he is wicked I cannot deny. Alcetas. he would have been happy. the said Archelaus is miserable? SOCRATES: Yes. for he had no title at all to the throne which he now occupies. for I do not know how he stands in the matter of education and justice.

or any other great Athenian family whom you choose. SOCRATES: Not so. and was very far from repenting: shall I tell you how he showed his remorse? he had a younger brother. Polus. who was the legitimate son of Perdiccas. if you will. unless you make me the one witness of yours. had no mind to bring him up as he ought and restore the kingdom to him. a child of seven years old. And this. who is the giver of that famous offering which is at Delphi. my simple friend. summon. my good friend. the whole house of Pericles. in the hope of depriving me of my inheritance. and I dare say that there are many Athenians.—they will all agree with you: I only am left alone and cannot agree. no matter about the rest of the world. a man may often be sworn down by a multitude of false witnesses who have a great air of respectability. For. And in this argument nearly every one. although you produce many false witnesses against me. and slew them. and making them drunk. and when he had done all this wickedness he never discovered that he was the most miserable of all men. For there the one party think that they refute the other when they bring forward a number of witnesses of good repute in proof of their allegations. but not long afterwards he threw him into a well and drowned him. Athenian and stranger alike. for you surely must think as I do. which is the truth. he may be supposed to be the most miserable and not the happiest of them. for being a rhetorician rather than a reasoner. and had been killed. and see in what they differ. But this kind of proof is of no value where truth is the aim. he threw them into a waggon and carried them off by night. who would rather be any other Macedonian than Archelaus! SOCRATES: I praised you at first. and nearly of an age with him. but mine is of another sort—let us compare them. the son of Scellius. indeed. And now as he is the greatest criminal of all the Macedonians. and by which I stand refuted when I say that the unjust man is not happy. and to him of right the kingdom belonged. and declared to his mother Cleopatra that he had fallen in while running after a goose. seeing that you think Archelaus unjust. if you should bring witnesses in disproof of my statement. however. if you will. is the sort of argument with which you fancy that a child might refute me. but because you will refute me after the manner which rhetoricians practise in courts of law. come with him. and their adversary has only a single one or none at all. one which is yours and that of the world in general. to know or not to know happiness and misery—that is the chief of them. who gave the row of tripods which stand in the precincts of Dionysus. POLUS: That is because you will not. and yet happy? May I assume this to be your opinion? POLUS: Certainly. and let his brothers. nor by you. would be on your side. And what knowledge can be nobler? or what ignorance more disgraceful than this? And therefore I will begin by asking you whether you do not think that a man who is unjust and doing injustice can be happy. 327    . and you would be at the head of them.—you may. and got both of them out of the way. But. as I suppose.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  own cousin. But I consider that nothing worth speaking of will have been effected by me unless I make you the one witness of my words. that was not his notion of happiness. summon Nicias the son of Niceratus. we are at issue about matters which to know is honourable and not to know disgraceful. For there are two ways of refutation. Archelaus. for you do not convince me. or you may summon Aristocrates. where is the refutation? I cannot admit a word which you have been saying.

— more miserable. SOCRATES: And you said the opposite? POLUS: Yes. and I rather suspect that I was in the right. if the unjust be not punished. SOCRATES: But in my opinion. SOCRATES: On the other hand. and you refuted me? POLUS: By Zeus. the unjust or doer of unjust actions is miserable in any case. in that case he will be most miserable. and that those who are punished are less miserable—are you going to refute this proposition also? POLUS: A proposition which is harder of refutation than the other. O my friend. Polus. SOCRATES: I said also that the wicked are miserable. POLUS: Yes. then. SOCRATES: Say rather. and less miserable if he be punished and meets with retribution at the hands of gods and men. however. SOCRATES: And I affirm that he is most miserable. according to you.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: But I say that this is an impossibility—here is one point about which we are at issue:— very good. Socrates. Polus. SOCRATES: You further said that the wrong-doer is happy if he be unpunished? POLUS: Certainly. Polus. if he be not punished and does not meet with retribution. And do you mean to say also that if he meets with retribution and punishment he will still be happy? POLUS: Certainly not. SOCRATES: In your own opinion. SOCRATES: I shall try to make you agree with me. for as a friend I regard you. POLUS: You are maintaining a strange doctrine. he will be happy? POLUS: Yes. impossible. for who can refute the truth? 328    . Then these are the points at issue between us—are they not? I was saying that to do is worse than to suffer injustice? POLUS: Exactly so. I did. Socrates.

that you have been sufficiently refuted. just now you were calling witnesses against me. as you say. as I think. this is a new kind of refutation. as I was saying.—neither he who unjustly acquires a tyranny. is the worst?—to do injustice or to suffer? 329    . but if. I or any man would. that to do is a greater evil than to suffer injustice: and not to be punished than to be punished. suffer rather than do injustice? SOCRATES: Yes. for I am curious to hear what you can have to say. and continue all through life doing what he likes and holding the reins of government. and only last year. noble Polus. SOCRATES: But will you answer? POLUS: To be sure. for I shall produce one witness only of the truth of my words. too. the envy and admiration both of citizens and strangers? Is that the paradox which. mutilated. nor any man: would you yourself. his suffrage I know how to take. SOCRATES: Tell me. has his eyes burned out. instead of refuting him to laugh at him. did you say—'in an unjust attempt to make himself a tyrant'? POLUS: Yes. I am not a public man.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  POLUS: What do you mean? If a man is detected in an unjust attempt to make himself a tyrant. and having seen his wife and children suffer the like. POLUS: And I should say neither I. I did. and it became my duty as their president to take the votes. for of two miserables one cannot be the happier. nor I. Polus? Well. May I ask then whether you will answer in turn and have your words put to the proof? For I certainly think that I and you and every man do really believe. Do you laugh. but that he who escapes and becomes a tyrant is the more miserable of the two. POLUS: But do you not think. Polus. will he be happier than if he escape and become a tyrant. SOCRATES: Then I say that neither of them will be happier than the other. cannot be refuted? SOCRATES: There again. I will. and when detected is racked. is required. neither you. for example. Socrates. when my tribe were serving as Prytanes. nor he who suffers in the attempt. is at last impaled or tarred and burned alive. then. you are raising hobgoblins instead of refuting me. in your opinion. and you. and you will know. when you say that which no human being will allow? Ask the company. nor any man. there was a laugh at me. you must not ask me to count the suffrages of the company now. you have no better argument than numbers. and do you make trial of the sort of proof which. POLUS: Quite the reverse. and he is the person with whom I am arguing. but with the many I have nothing to do. and after having had all sorts of great injuries inflicted on him. and do not even address myself to them. let me have a turn.—when any one says anything. SOCRATES: O Polus. and let us suppose that I am beginning at the beginning: which of the two. because I was unable to take them. But please to refresh my memory a little. And as I failed then.

or of their use. either by reason of the pleasure which they give. SOCRATES: I understand you to say. that the honourable is not the same as the good. 330    . SOCRATES: And may not the same be said of the beauty of knowledge? POLUS: To be sure. POLUS: To do. can you give any other account of personal beauty? POLUS: I cannot. SOCRATES: And you would say of figures or colours generally that they were beautiful. and I very much approve of your measuring beauty by the standard of pleasure and utility. or the disgraceful as the evil? POLUS: Certainly not. colours. for example.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  POLUS: I should say that suffering was worst. I should. SOCRATES: Laws and institutions also have no beauty in them except in so far as they are useful or pleasant or both? POLUS: I think not. do you not call them beautiful in reference to some standard: bodies. SOCRATES: Let me ask a question of you: When you speak of beautiful things. sounds. figures. if I am not mistaken. Socrates. institutions. or as the sight of them gives pleasure to the spectators. such as bodies. or of both? POLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: And the greater disgrace is the greater evil? POLUS: Certainly not. SOCRATES: And which is the greater disgrace?—Answer. SOCRATES: And you would call sounds and music beautiful for the same reason? POLUS: I should. SOCRATES: And deformity or disgrace may be equally measured by the opposite standard of pain and evil? POLUS: Certainly. are beautiful in proportion as they are useful.

Socrates. in evil? POLUS: True. that which exceeds in deformity or disgrace.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: Then when of two beautiful things one exceeds in beauty. about doing and suffering wrong? Did you not say. let us consider whether the doing of injustice exceeds the suffering in the consequent pain: Do the injurers suffer more than the injured? POLUS: No. and doing wrong more disgraceful? POLUS: I did. SOCRATES: Then doing injustice will have an excess of evil. SOCRATES: Then. SOCRATES: Then they can only exceed in the other? POLUS: Yes. that is to say. then. the more disgraceful must be more painful and must exceed in pain or in evil or both: does not that also follow? POLUS: Of course. SOCRATES: Then they do not exceed in pain? POLUS: No. the measure of the excess is to be taken in one or both of these. and will therefore be a greater evil than suffering injustice? POLUS: Clearly. exceeds either in pain or evil—must it not be so? POLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: But if not in pain. SOCRATES: But then again. 331    . that suffering wrong was more evil. what was the observation which you just now made. SOCRATES: That is to say. if doing wrong is more disgraceful than suffering. in pleasure or utility or both? POLUS: Very true. SOCRATES: First. then not in both? POLUS: Certainly not. SOCRATES: And of two deformed things. certainly not.

SOCRATES: And would you not allow that all just things are honourable in so far as they are just? Please to reflect. which is. POLUS: That is the conclusion. are of your way of thinking. POLUS: Yes. would rather do than suffer injustice. and will not the suffering have the quality of the action? I mean. Socrates. SOCRATES: Consider again:—Where there is an agent. SOCRATES: And that is now discovered to be more evil? POLUS: True. as I supposed.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: But have not you and the world already agreed that to do injustice is more disgraceful than to suffer? POLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: And would you prefer a greater evil or a greater dishonour to a less one? Answer. and either say 'Yes' or 'No' to me. Socrates. for to do injustice is the greater evil of the two. that neither you. and am regardless of the rest. how unlike they are. that if a man strikes. or whether to escape punishment is not a greater evil. for you will come to no harm if you nobly resign yourself into the healing hand of the argument as to a physician without shrinking. Enough of this. when you compare the two kinds of refutations. Polus. must there not also be a patient? POLUS: I should say so. SOCRATES: And will not the patient suffer that which the agent does. not according to this way of putting the case. POLUS: I should say 'No. for example. nor any man. All men. Polus. and now let us proceed to the next question. as you supposed. and tell me your opinion. I think that they are. Whether the greatest of evils to a guilty man is to suffer punishment. Consider:—You would say that to suffer punishment is another name for being justly corrected when you do wrong? POLUS: I should. there must be something which is stricken? 332    . with the exception of myself.—I have no need of any other. nor I. and fear not. but your single assent and witness are enough for me.' SOCRATES: Would any other man prefer a greater to a less evil? POLUS: No. Polus. SOCRATES: Then I said truly. I take your suffrage. SOCRATES: You see.

the thing burned will be burned in the same way? POLUS: Truly. there is something which is burned? POLUS: Certainly. SOCRATES: And he who punishes rightly.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  POLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: And if the cutting be great or deep or such as will cause pain. SOCRATES: And if he cuts. there can be no doubt of that. SOCRATES: And suffering implies an agent? POLUS: Certainly. Socrates. SOCRATES: And the suffering to him who is stricken is of the same nature as the act of him who strikes? POLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: And if the striker strikes violently or quickly. the same argument holds—there will be something cut? POLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: And if he burns in excess or so as to cause pain. and he is the punisher. let me ask whether being punished is suffering or acting? POLUS: Suffering. punishes justly? POLUS: Yes. 333    . SOCRATES: Then. the cut will be of the same nature? POLUS: That is evident. as this is admitted. SOCRATES: And if a man burns. SOCRATES: Then you would agree generally to the universal proposition which I was just now asserting: that the affection of the patient answers to the affection of the agent? POLUS: I agree. that which is struck will be struck violently or quickly? POLUS: True. Socrates.

for the honourable is either pleasant or useful? POLUS: Certainly. SOCRATES: Then he is benefited? POLUS: Yes. then what is good. do you see any greater evil than poverty? POLUS: There is no greater evil. and the punished suffers what is honourable? POLUS: True. SOCRATES: And that which is just has been admitted to be honourable? POLUS: Certainly. SOCRATES: Do I understand you to mean what I mean by the term 'benefited'? I mean. SOCRATES: Then he who is punished and suffers retribution. that if he be justly punished his soul is improved. SOCRATES: Again. SOCRATES: Then the punisher does what is honourable. SOCRATES: And is he not then delivered from the greatest evil? Look at the matter in this way:—In respect of a man's estate. SOCRATES: Then he who is punished suffers what is good? POLUS: That is true. SOCRATES: And if what is honourable. SOCRATES: Then he who is punished is delivered from the evil of his soul? POLUS: Yes. suffers justly? POLUS: That is evident.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: And therefore he acts justly? POLUS: Justly. POLUS: Surely. you would say that the evil is weakness and disease and deformity? 334    . in a man's bodily frame.

the painfulness does not appear to me to follow from your premises. poverty? POLUS: True. which are three.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  POLUS: I should. disease. POLUS: Certainly. and the like? POLUS: Certainly. SOCRATES: And do you not imagine that the soul likewise has some evil of her own? POLUS: Of course. or both? POLUS: Certainly. body. in mind. SOCRATES: And most disgraceful either because most painful and causing excessive pain. or most hurtful. SOCRATES: And therefore to be unjust and intemperate. 335    . SOCRATES: And which of the evils is the most disgraceful?—Is not the most disgraceful of them injustice. SOCRATES: And if the most disgraceful. SOCRATES: So then. you have pointed out three corresponding evils—injustice. or both. and estate. SOCRATES: And now injustice and all evil in the soul has been admitted by us to be most disgraceful? POLUS: It has been admitted. that is most disgraceful has been already admitted to be most painful or hurtful. Socrates? SOCRATES: I mean to say. Socrates. and in general the evil of the soul? POLUS: By far the most. is more painful than to be poor and sick? POLUS: Nay. then also the worst? POLUS: What do you mean. and cowardly and ignorant. SOCRATES: And this you would call injustice and ignorance and cowardice.

SOCRATES: And to whom do we go with the unjust and intemperate? POLUS: To the judges. Socrates. the evil of the soul is of all evils the most disgraceful. and the excess of disgrace must be caused by some preternatural greatness. SOCRATES: And what from vice and injustice? If you are not able to answer at once. and to whom we take them. SOCRATES: Now. SOCRATES: —Who are to punish them? POLUS: Yes. if. SOCRATES: Then injustice and intemperance. what art is there which delivers us from poverty? Does not the art of making money? POLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: Then the art of money-making frees a man from poverty. SOCRATES: And do not those who rightly punish others. punish them in accordance with a certain rule of justice? POLUS: Clearly. are the greatest of evils? POLUS: That is evident. POLUS: To the physicians. POLUS: Clearly. you mean. SOCRATES: And that which exceeds most in hurtfulness will be the greatest of evils? POLUS: Yes. and in general the depravity of the soul. ask yourself whither we go with the sick.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: Then. or extraordinary hurtfulness of the evil. not more painful. medicine from disease. SOCRATES: And what art frees us from disease? Does not the art of medicine? POLUS: Very true. as you would argue. 336    . and justice from intemperance and injustice? POLUS: That is evident.

or who never was out of health? POLUS: Clearly he who was never out of health. then. who is healed. but in never having had them. and justice. medicine. SOCRATES: Yes. SOCRATES: And justice. SOCRATES: And was not punishment said by us to be a deliverance from the greatest of evils. Socrates.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: Which. and this is the advantage of enduring the pain—that you get well? POLUS: Certainly. because the patient is delivered from a great evil. POLUS: True. far excels the two others. SOCRATES: But is the being healed a pleasant thing. SOCRATES: A useful thing. SOCRATES: And would he be the happier man in his bodily condition. which is vice? POLUS: True. but retains the evil—which of them is the most miserable? POLUS: Clearly he who is not healed. if the best. and are those who are being healed pleased? POLUS: I think not. gives the greatest pleasure or advantage or both? POLUS: Yes. then? POLUS: Yes. and another is not healed. POLUS: Justice. 337    . and that one of them is healed and delivered from evil. SOCRATES: Yes. SOCRATES: And suppose the case of two persons who have some evil in their bodies. for happiness surely does not consist in being delivered from evils. is the best of these three? POLUS: Will you enumerate them? SOCRATES: Money-making.

because. they provide themselves with money and friends. be compared to the conduct of a person who is afflicted with the worst of diseases and yet contrives not to pay the penalty to the physician for his sins against his constitution. SOCRATES: May not their way of proceeding. he who receives admonition and rebuke and punishment? POLUS: Yes. SOCRATES: That is to say. succeeds in escaping rebuke or correction or punishment. SOCRATES: Then he lives worst. and who. SOCRATES: He. who is delivered from vice? POLUS: True. in our previous conclusions. he is afraid of the pain of being burned or cut:—Is not that a parallel case? POLUS: Yes. has the first place in the scale of happiness who has never had vice in his soul. SOCRATES: Is it not a fact that injustice. has been accomplished by Archelaus and other tyrants and rhetoricians and potentates? (Compare Republic. they are in a like case who strive to evade justice.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  SOCRATES: And justice punishes us. are right.) POLUS: True. then. do you see what follows. a soul. I say. for this has been shown to be the greatest of evils. and is the medicine of our vice? POLUS: True. having been unjust. and this. POLUS: Clearly. which is corrupt and unrighteous and unholy. truly. or shall we draw out the consequences in form? POLUS: If you please. SOCRATES: And he has the second place. who. But if we. my friend. And hence they do all that they can to avoid punishment and to avoid being released from the greatest of evils. as you say. SOCRATES: That is. and if we are right. he lives worst who commits the greatest crimes. and the doing of injustice. not knowing how far more miserable a companion a diseased soul is than a diseased body. but are blind to the advantage which ensues from it. like a child. and makes us more just. is the greatest of evils? 338    . SOCRATES: He would seem as if he did not know the nature of health and bodily vigour. which they see to be painful. has no deliverance from injustice? POLUS: Certainly. and will not be cured. Polus. being the most unjust of men. Polus. and cultivate to the utmost their powers of persuasion.

SOCRATES: And it has been proved to be true? POLUS: Certainly. the most miserable of all men. maintained that he or any other who like him has done wrong and has not been punished. on the other hand. Polus. is to perpetuate the evil? POLUS: Yes. is. for he will thereby suffer great evil? POLUS: True. he will run to the judge. or children or country. is second only in the scale of evils. SOCRATES: To do wrong. as he would to the physician. SOCRATES: Well. but to do wrong and not to be punished. where is the great use of rhetoric? If we admit what has been just now said. Polus. he should bring to light the iniquity and not conceal it. in helping a man to excuse his own injustice. Polus.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  POLUS: That is quite clear. there can be but one answer. and he should even force himself and others not to 339    . SOCRATES: And if he. SOCRATES: And further. he ought of his own accord to go where he will be immediately punished. because he was a very great criminal and unpunished: I. must we not allow this consequence. and was not this the point in dispute. that to suffer punishment is the way to be released from this evil? POLUS: True. then. that of his parents or friends. SOCRATES: Well. SOCRATES: Then rhetoric is of no use to us. and he who escapes punishment. more miserable than he who suffers. every man ought in every way to guard himself against doing wrong. is first and greatest of all? POLUS: That is true. and in the next degree his family or any of his friends who may be doing wrong. my friend? You deemed Archelaus happy. and that the doer of injustice is more miserable than the sufferer. in order that the disease of injustice may not be rendered chronic and become the incurable cancer of the soul. that so the wrong-doer may suffer and be made whole. or any one about whom he cares.—Was not that what I said? POLUS: Yes. Socrates. but may be of use to any one who holds that instead of excusing he ought to accuse—himself above all. if our former admissions are to stand:—is any other inference consistent with them? POLUS: To that. does wrong. but if this is true. and ought to be. SOCRATES: And not to suffer.

and what you say is true. but rather be immortal in his wickedness. is not the whole of human life turned upside down. For you have not the power to resist the words and ideas of your loves. I make this remark because I perceive that you and I have a common feeling. if the premises are not disproven? POLUS: Yes. let him keep what he has stolen and spend it on him and his. himself being the first to accuse himself and his own relations. and of philosophy. or. and using rhetoric to this end. to be fined. as would appear. are you in earnest. the son of Cleinias. however varying in different persons—I mean to say. Do you say 'Yes' or 'No' to that? POLUS: To me.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  shrink. Tell me. and if he have done things worthy of death. I should try to prevent his being punished. SOCRATES: And from the opposite point of view. if this is not possible. let him who has done things worthy of stripes. and that they themselves may be delivered from injustice. Now. For such purposes. then in every sort of way. in the hope of attaining the good and the honourable. if of a fine. if indeed it be our duty to harm another. CALLICLES: Tell me. it certainly is. to die. and of Demus the son of Pyrilampes. if of death. allow himself to be scourged. Polus. and I will. rhetoric would indeed be useful. though probably in agreement with your premises. CALLICLES: By the gods. and you of the Athenian Demus. let him at any rate be allowed to live as long as he can. Socrates. is Socrates in earnest. if of exile. Socrates. do not venture to contradict your favourite in any word or opinion of his. whether an enemy or not—I except the case of self-defence—then I have to be upon my guard—but if my enemy injures a third person. but is of small if of any use to him who is not intending to commit injustice. let him not die. I should contrive that he should escape. but with closed eyes like brave men to let the physician operate with knife or searing iron. not regarding the pain. that he is in most profound earnest. if every man's feelings were peculiar to himself and were not shared by the rest of his species—I do not see how we could ever communicate our impressions to one another. but you may well ask him. you go over to his opinion. When the Athenian Demus denies anything that you are saying in the assembly. and you do the same with Demus. or is he joking? CHAEREPHON: I should say. backwards and forwards. if of bonds. Chaerephon. what you are saying appears very strange. SOCRATES: Is not this the conclusion. and if he appears. rhetoric may be useful. regardless of religion and justice. that his and their unjust actions may be made manifest. to be exiled. or appearing before the judge. with all your cleverness. to be bound. and not suffer punishment: if he has stolen a sum of money. and both of us have two loves apiece:—I am the lover of Alcibiades. and are we not doing. Polus. Then. and if a person were to express surprise at the strangeness of what 340    . but as he changes you change. Callicles. I observe that you. or only in jest? For if you are in earnest. by word as well as deed. if there were not some community of feelings among mankind. For we are lovers both. the fair young son of Pyrilampes. there was no such use discovered by us in the previous discussion. which is the greatest evil. at least. in everything the opposite of what we ought to be doing? SOCRATES: O Callicles.

I would rather that my lyre should be inharmonious. For the suffering of injustice is not the part of a man. Socrates. the more powerful than the weaker. as I conceive. that dishonesty is shameful and unjust. She is the teacher at whose words you are now wondering. or. are appealing now to the popular and vulgar notions of right. whereas nature herself intimates that it is just for the better to have more than the worse. you are a regular declaimer. but of a slave. for knowing their own inferiority. and did not know justice. is that the makers of laws are the majority who are weak. but only conventional. by the dog the god of Egypt. among men as well as among animals. And therefore the endeavour to have more than the many. and either show. When Polus was speaking of the conventionally dishonourable. Convention and nature are generally at variance with one another: and hence. you would probably reply to him. meaning. Gorgias was compelled to contradict himself. the desire of a man to have more than his neighbours. he is compelled to contradict himself. and those who are able to get the better of them. but now he has himself fallen into the same trap. and in many ways she shows. and therefore you need not wonder at me. in your ingenuity perceiving the advantage to be thereby gained. or that the whole world should be at odds with me. for the son of Cleinias says one thing to-day and another thing to-morrow. if some one came to him who wanted to learn rhetoric. and they terrify the stronger sort of men. for this was the admission which led to his being entangled by you. which are not natural. for she is always telling me what I am now telling you. but philosophy is always true. for by the rule of nature. I cannot say very much for his wit when he conceded to you that to do is more dishonourable than to suffer injustice. who indeed had better die than live. he is unable to help himself. that justice consists in the superior ruling over and having more than 341    . but conventionally. my friend. whether.The Dialogues of Plato: Gorgias  you say from time to time when under their influence. he had his mouth stopped. and if he is talking of the rule of nature. but if you want to silence me. and because he was too modest to say what he thought. since when he is wronged and trampled upon. and seem to be running riot in the argument. to suffer injustice is the greater disgrace because the greater evil. that to do injustice and to escape punishment is not the worst of all evils. Her you must refute. by the word injustice. The reason. who is my love. you slip away to custom: as. because he thought that mankind in general would be displeased if he answered 'No'. and is called injustice (compare Republic). and they say. Whereupon Polus laughed at you deservedly. if you were honest. who pretend to be engaged in the pursuit of truth. for instance. and indeed among whole cities and races. if you leave her word unrefuted. CALLICLES: O Socrates. and you have heard her yourself. my friend. Now you must understand that my words are an echo too. For the truth is. and then in consequence of this admission. if a person is too modest to say what he thinks. to do evil is the more disgraceful. And yet. and that you can only be silent when they are. Gorgias in his modesty replied that he would. and that there should be no music in the chorus which I provided. as I was saying. I suspect that they are too glad of equality. you assailed him from the point of view of nature. and contradict myself. as I think. slyly ask of him who is arguing conventionally a question which is to be determined by the rule of nature. O Callicles. is conventionally said to be shameful and unjust. And now you are declaiming in this way because Polus has fallen into the same error himself of which he accused Gorgias:—for he said that when Gorgias was asked by you. and oppose me. he would teach him justice. and they make laws and distribute praises and censures with a view to themselves and to their own interests. that you. that Callicles will never be at one with himself. aye. but that his whole life will be a discord. you did in this very discussion about doing and suffering injustice. and you. in order that they may not get the better of them. silence philosophy. that being just the sort of thing in which you delight. rather than that I myself should be at odds with myself. or any other about whom he cares. I declare. neither is she capricious like my other love. that you cannot help saying what your loves say unless they are prevented.

For. 151 (Bockh). Socrates. he carried off the oxen of Geryon. he avoids and depreciates. And I have the same feeling about students of philosophy. perhaps. for without buying them—' (Fragm. and tame them like young lions. according to the law of natural right. when they betake themselves to politics or business.—the study appears to me to be in character. and that the equal is the honourable and the just. but too much philosophy is the ruin of human life. Philosophy. fragm. but these are the men who act according to nature. if he carries philosophy into later life. 'Every man shines in that and pursues that. or his father the Scythians? (not to speak of numberless other examples). whether private or public. he is necessarily ignorant of all those things which a gentleman and a person of honour ought to know. and without their being given to him. Even if a man has good parts. yes. as I infer from the deeds of Heracles. lisping at his play.) but anything in which he is inferior. Nay. of whom we take the best and strongest from their youth upwards. which is natural to his childish years. and I feel towards philosophers as I do towards those who lisp and imitate children. the sound is disagreeable. the thing becomes ridiculous. he is inexperienced in the laws of the State. and the light of natural justice would shine forth. of mortals as well as of immortals. 'Makes might to be right. if you will leave philosophy and go on to higher things: for philosophy. is an elegant accomplishment. and there is no disgrace to a man while he is young in pursuing such a study. according to that artificial law. and devotes the greatest portion of the day to that in which he most excels. and saying to them. and because he thinks that he will thus praise himself. and becoming a man of liberal education. and all our laws which are against nature: the slave would rise in rebellion and be lord over us. And this is true.' (Antiope. as Euripides says. The true principle is to unite them. But when I hear some small creature carefully articulating its words. For on what principle of justice did Xerxes invade Hellas. he would shake off and break through. doing violence with highest hand. is an excellent thing. 20 (Dindorf). which we invent and impose upon our fellows. his behaviour appears to me ridiculous and unmanly and worthy of stripes. if pursued in moderation and at the proper age. But if there were a man who had sufficient force. there is an appearance of grace and freedom in his utterance. and utterly ignorant of the pleasures and desires of mankind and of human character in general. he would trample under foot all our formulas and spells and charms.' this. are as ridiculous as I imagine the politicians to be. as he says. still. Incert. as you may ascertain. that with equality they must be content. and according to the law of nature: not. as a part of education. but the meaning is.) —I do not remember the exact words. when he says in his poem. So when I hear a man lisping.—charming them with the sound of the voice. but when he is more advanced in years. and him who neglects 342    . that