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Menexenus

Plato
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Menexenus
by Plato
Translated by Benjamin Jowett
March, 1999 [Etext #1682]
*******The Project Gutenberg Etext of Menexenus, by Plato*******
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Further. and some of them omit the name of the dialogue from which they are taken. Phaedo. and to the forger or imitator. such as epistles or panegyrical orations. or binding. are also of doubtful credit. And several of the citations of Aristotle omit the name of Plato. and the name once appended easily obtained authority. the 'literary hack' of Alexandria and Athens. and in the next generation Aristotle. An unknown writing was naturally attributed to a known writer whose works bore the same character. Antisthenes. which have a taste of sophistry in them. while there is no instance of any ancient writing proved to be a forgery. or even of distinct titles. again. those. It seems impossible to separate by any exact line the genuine writings of Plato from the spurious. Prior. general considerations which equally affect all evidence to the genuineness of ancient writings are the following: Shorter works are more likely to have been forged. A . or in which a motive or some affinity to spurious writings can be detected. Euclid. are all said to have composed dialogues. however.au> MENEXENUS by Plato (see Appendix I) Translated by Benjamin Jowett APPENDIX I. for the Alexandrian catalogues of a century later include manifest forgeries. than longer ones. Aeschines.This etext was prepared by Sue Asscher <asschers@aia. or to have received an erroneous designation. or the ring of a later age. Greek literature in the third century before Christ was almost as voluminous as our own. Even the value of the Aristotelian authority is a good deal impaired by the uncertainty concerning the date and authorship of the writings which are ascribed to him. or which seem to have originated in a name or statement really occurring in some classical author. The only external evidence to them which is of much value is that of Aristotle. or printing. and some kinds of composition. which combines excellence with length.net. and without the safeguards of regular publication. or the slighter character of a rhetorical exercise. are more liable to suspicion than others. the Gods did not grant originality or genius. in attempting to balance the evidence for and against a Platonic dialogue. and mistakes of names are very likely to have occurred. A really great and original writer would have no object in fathering his works on Plato. we must not forget that the form of the Platonic writing was common to several of his contemporaries. to the enquiry about the writings of a particular author.

or inconsistency of thought. have an inferior degree of evidence in their favour. such as the Parmenides and the Politicus. under their own names. There is another portion of them. and a frequenter of the groves of the Academy. and (4) accordance with the general spirit of his writings. of (3) great excellence. both of internal and external evidence. Nor must we forget that in all his numerous citations from the Platonic writings he never attributes any passage found in the extant dialogues to any one but Plato. or they may have been the writings of some contemporary transferred by accident to the more celebrated name of Plato. Sisyphus. and also (4) in harmony with the general spirit of the Platonic writings. They may have been supposed by him to be the writings of another.g. the Phaedo. e. although in the case of really great works. which though in many cases sufficient. the Laws. or of some Platonist in the next generation who aspired to imitate his master. or inferiority of execution. There may be also a possibility that Aristotle was mistaken. Those writings which he cites without mentioning Plato. and in the use of words. namely. is of inferior value. in the formation of sentences. For who always does justice to himself.g. or may have confused the master and his scholars in the case of a short writing. the Phaedo. the Funeral Oration. or who writes with equal care at all times? Certainly not Plato. And lastly. e. Some difference of style. which (2) is of considerable length. Demodocus. say the Protagoras or Phaedrus with the Laws. Proceeding upon these principles we appear to arrive at the conclusion that nineteen-twentieths of all the writings which have ever been ascribed to Plato. including the Epistles. the Epinomis. To a later Platonist. we may remark that one or two great writings. Not that on grounds either of language or philosophy we should lightly reject them. which on grounds. But the testimony of Aristotle cannot always be distinguished from that of a later age (see above). can hardly be considered decisive of their spurious character. may be partly or wholly the compositions of pupils. are still more defective in their external credentials. if his earlier writings are compared with his later ones. are undoubtedly genuine. who exhibits the greatest differences in dramatic power. e.g. They may have been written in youth. or possibly like the works of some painters. during the last twenty years of Plato's life. De justo.. But there still remains a small portion of which we are unable to affirm either that they are genuine or spurious. Or who can be expected . Indeed the greater part of the evidence for the genuineness of ancient Greek authors may be summed up under two heads only: (1) excellence. those again which are quoted but not named. which are wholly devoid of Aristotelian (1) credentials may be fairly attributed to Plato. the Axiochus. These considerations lead us to adopt the following criteria of genuineness: (1) That is most certainly Plato's which Aristotle attributes to him by name. especially when we remember that he was living at Athens. on the ground of (2) length. the Hippias. The Memorabilia of Xenophon and the Dialogues of Plato are but a part of a considerable Socratic literature which has passed away. the dialogues rejected by the ancients themselves. And we must consider how we should regard the question of the genuineness of a particular writing. and has various degrees of importance. and (2) uniformity of tradition--a kind of evidence. this is not credible. Eryxias. etc. De virtute. but this is inconceivable about a more important work. if this lost literature had been preserved to us. (3) excellence.tendency may also be observed to blend the works and opinions of the master with those of his scholars. we are able with equal certainty to reject. the difference between Plato and his imitators was not so perceptible as to ourselves.

On the other hand. In reference to the last point we are doubtful. The resemblances or imitations of the Gorgias. and was. Mem. in the satirical reasoning upon Homer. Moreover. Mem. Though a very clever and ingenious work. From the mention of 'Hippias' in the singular by Aristotle. to invent. and of a First and Second Alcibiades. and casting a veil over the gloomier events of Athenian history. The funeral oration of Pericles is expressly mentioned in the Phaedrus. the upholders of the genuineness of the dialogue will find in the Hippias a true Socratic spirit. they will urge the authority of Aristotle. the Lesser Hippias and the Funeral Oration are cited by Aristotle. or as the Second Alcibiades seems to be founded upon the text of Xenophon. The dialogues which have been translated in the first Appendix. they will compare the Ion as being akin both in subject and treatment. intended to rival that great work. who was also a careful student of the earlier Platonic writings. The motive or leading thought of the dialogue may be detected in Xen. and to a certain extent in the Parmenides. It exhibits an acquaintance with the funeral oration of Thucydides. and they will detect in the treatment of the Sophist. the Menexenus or Funeral Oration. but in the Protagoras. perhaps. as well as of political and literary transition? Certainly not Plato. A similar taste for parody appears not only in the Phaedrus. the Lesser Hippias does not appear to contain anything beyond the power of an imitator. but in his citation of both of them he seems to be referring to passages in the extant dialogues. traces of a Platonic authorship. in the same manner that the Cleitophon appears to be suggested by the slight mention of Cleitophon and his attachment to Thrasymachus in the Republic. the First Alcibiades.' That no conclusion is arrived at is also in accordance with the character of the earlier dialogues.. in the Symposium. and is interesting as supplying an example of the manner in which the orators praised 'the Athenians among the Athenians. are the Lesser Hippias. the first in the Metaphysics. or merely following the argument 'whither the wind blows. Protagoras. and Euthydemus. more may be said in favour of the genuineness of the Hippias than against it. and cannot therefore be tested by a comparison of the other writings of Plato. On the whole. cannot with certainty be adduced on either side of the argument. the mere existence of a Greater and Lesser Hippias. like the speeches in the Phaedrus. in an age of great intellectual activity. Neither of them are expressly attributed to Plato. and the Theages by the mention of Theages in the Apology and Republic. whether the author is asserting or overthrowing the paradox of Socrates. whose earlier writings are separated from his later ones by as wide an interval of philosophical speculation as that which separates his later writings from Aristotle. and this may have suggested the subject. the oration itself is professedly a mimetic work. and there is no similar instance of a 'motive' which is taken from Xenophon in an undoubted dialogue of Plato. which have been observed in the Hippias. and which appear to have the next claim to genuineness among the Platonic writings. the latter in the Rhetoric. The satirical opening and the concluding words bear a great resemblance to the earlier dialogues.' falsifying persons and dates. we may perhaps infer that he was unacquainted with a second dialogue bearing the same name. The Menexenus or Funeral Oration is cited by Aristotle. the proper place of the Menexenus would be at the end of the Phaedrus. . If genuine. does to a certain extent throw a doubt upon both of them.to think in the same manner during a period of authorship extending over above fifty years. as in some of the other dialogues. in the reductio ad absurdum of the doctrine that vice is ignorance. Of these.

At the same time. For the disparaging manner in which Schleiermacher has spoken of this dialogue there seems to be no sufficient foundation. can be fairly doubted by those . The three dialogues which we have offered in the Appendix to the criticism of the reader may be partly spurious and partly genuine. and to their inimitable excellence.--that is an alternative which must be frankly admitted. that their genuineness is neither proven nor disproven until further evidence about them can be adduced. Nor can we maintain of some other dialogues. We know. if we exclude the works rejected by the ancients themselves and two or three other plausible inventions. the lesson imparted is simple. The motive of the piece may. The nature and object of these semi-Platonic writings require more careful study and more comparison of them with one another. perhaps. has the greatest merit.To these two doubtful writings of Plato I have added the First Alcibiades. than they have yet received. the Timaeus. and with forged writings in general. And we are as confident that the Epistles are spurious. it is to be compared to the earlier writings of Plato. nor at any other. though not verified by the testimony of Aristotle. and is somewhat longer than any of them. and (3) considering that we have express testimony to the existence of contemporary writings bearing the name of Alcibiades. such as the Parmenides. on the other hand. too. The traditions of the oral discourses both of Socrates and Plato may have formed the basis of semi-Platonic writings. On the whole. that Alcibiades was a favourite thesis. of all the disputed dialogues of Plato. some of them may be of the same mixed character which is apparent in Aristotle and Hippocrates. as that the Republic. There may have been degrees of genuineness in the dialogues themselves. they may be altogether spurious. may be genuine. and in many respects at variance with the Symposium in the description of the relations of Socrates and Alcibiades. before we can finally decide on their character. Like the Lesser Hippias and the Menexenus. and Politicus. we are compelled to suspend our judgment on the genuineness of the extant dialogue. do we propose to draw an absolute line of demarcation between genuine and spurious writings of Plato. but should say of some of them. and (2) in the absence of the highest marks either of poetical or philosophical excellence. seem never to have been confused with the writings of his disciples: this was probably due to their definite form. be found in that passage of the Symposium in which Alcibiades describes himself as self-convicted by the words of Socrates. We do not consider them all as genuine until they can be proved to be spurious. They fade off imperceptibly from one class to another. which. Nor. But the writings of Plato. can we exclude a bare possibility that some dialogues which are usually rejected. although the form of them is different. unlike the writings of Aristotle. not a twentieth part of the writings which pass under the name of Plato. (1) In the entire absence of real external evidence (for the catalogues of the Alexandrian librarians cannot be regarded as trustworthy). though greatly overbalanced by the weight (chiefly) of internal evidence in their favour. and that at least five or six dialogues bearing this name passed current in antiquity. that no considerable objection can be urged against them. as there are certainly degrees of evidence by which they are supported. and the irony more transparent than in the undoubted dialogues of Plato. such as the Greater Hippias and the Cleitophon. and the Sophist. and are attributed to contemporaries of Socrates and Plato. and the Laws are genuine. Neither at this point. as is often maintained and still more often implied in this and similar discussions.

to whom in the Phaedrus Plato shows a strong antipathy. is evidently intending to ridicule the practice. and the legendary history of Athens. But Plato. was the shortness of the time allowed them for preparation. and is in the manner of Plato. an event occurring forty years after the date of the supposed oration. conformed to a regular type. falls very far short of the rugged grandeur and political insight of the great historian. and of how much better he might have written in his own style. is careless of such anachronisms. The war of Athens and Boeotia is a war of liberation. The Menexenus. The fiction of the speech having been invented by Aspasia is well sustained. and the like. and though suggesting some interesting questions to the scholar and critic. The taking of Athens is hardly mentioned. In his rivalry with the latter. That twentieth debatable portion scarcely in any degree affects our judgment of Plato. and at the same time to show that he can beat the rhetoricians in their own line. They began with Gods and ancestors. The effect produced by these grandiloquent orations on Socrates. who were more honoured than the friends of others (compare Thucyd. The writer seems to have wished to emulate Thucydides. notwithstanding the anachronism which puts into her mouth an allusion to the peace of Antalcidas. as we find in Lysias. The Menexenus has more the character of a rhetorical exercise than any other of the Platonic works. the Athenians gave back the Spartans taken at Sphacteria out of kindness-indeed. if we may form a judgment from the three which are extant (for the so-called Funeral Oration of Demosthenes is a bad and spurious imitation of Thucydides and Lysias). either as a thinker or a writer. he is entirely successful. like Shakespeare.who are willing to allow that a considerable change and growth may have taken place in his philosophy (see above). is truly Platonic. which seems to contain the germ of the idea).. But Socrates points . The orators had recourse to their favourite loci communes. The author of the Menexenus. MENEXENUS by Plato (see Appendix I above) Translated by Benjamin Jowett INTRODUCTION. The Menexenus veils in panegyric the weak places of Athenian history. and the far slighter work of Lysias. in the age of Isocrates and Demosthenes the Athenians were still living on the glories of Marathon and Salamis. which are not supposed to strike the mind of the reader. though not without real Hellenic interest. one of which. whether Plato or not. Such discourses. we democrats are the aristocracy of virtue. but he is not equal to Thucydides. as in the Phaedrus he may be supposed to offer an example of what Lysias might have said. to which succeeded an almost equally fictitious account of later times. the only fault of the city was too great kindness to their enemies. The Persian war usually formed the centre of the narrative. is of little importance to the general reader. who does not recover after having heard one of them for three days and more. These are the platitudes and falsehoods in which history is disguised.

and Plato. Plato. Without violating the character of Socrates. whether original or imitated may be uncertain. the well-known words. are problems which no critical instinct can determine.--to praise them among the Lacedaemonians would have been a much more difficult task. who knows so well how to give a hint. both in the Symposium and elsewhere. what was his conception of humour. in whom the dramatic element is always tending to prevail over the rhetorical. if any. is not slow to admit a sort of Aristophanic humour. one who had learned from Antiphon the Rhamnusian--would be quite equal to the task of praising men to themselves. In this uncertainty the express testimony of Aristotle. The remark has been often made. Internal evidence seems to leave the question of authorship in doubt. or some one writing in his name. remains uncertain. When we remember that Antiphon is described by Thucydides as the best pleader of his day. Socrates himself has turned rhetorician. or what limits he would have prescribed to himself. How a great original genius like Plato might or might not have written. intimates clearly enough that the speech in the Menexenus like that in the Phaedrus is to be attributed to Socrates. asserted. and that there was no difficulty in improvising any number of such orations. 'It is easy to praise the Athenians among the Athenians. is not coarse. In either case. in the Phaedrus he has heard somebody say something-is inspired by the genius loci. Nor can we say that the offer of Socrates to dance naked out of love for Menexenus. Thus in the Cratylus he is run away with. On the other hand. as Schleiermacher supposes. is any more un-Platonic than the threat of physical force which Phaedrus uses towards Socrates. and any one whose teachers had been far inferior to his own--say. that in the Funeral Oration of Thucydides there is no allusion to the existence of the dead. in the Symposium he derives his wisdom from Diotima of Mantinea. and the like. may perhaps turn the balance in its favour. the thoughts are partly borrowed from the Funeral Oration of Thucydides. the satire on him and on the whole tribe of rhetoricians is transparent. is not in favour of the genuineness of the work. having learned of a woman. when he departs from his character of a 'know nothing' and delivers a speech. Socrates is not to be taken seriously in all that he says. The address of the dead to the living at the end of the oration may also be compared to the numerous addresses of the same kind which occur in Plato. Whether the Menexenus is a genuine writing of Plato. Aspasia: this is the natural exaggeration of what might be expected from an imperious woman. or an imitation only. There are merits and there are defects which might lead to either conclusion. Aspasia. It must be remembered .out that they had them always ready for delivery. Socrates. But in the Menexenus a future state is clearly. The form of the greater part of the work makes the enquiry difficult. in the Rhetoric. but is rather to be regarded as fanciful.' from the Funeral Oration. the dialogue has several Platonic traits. the introduction and the finale certainly wear the look either of Plato or of an extremely skilful imitator. although not strongly. who quotes. that he must be a good orator because he had learnt of Aspasia. But he does not impose on Menexenus by his dissimulation. The ironical assumption of Socrates. the mistress of Pericles. Nor is there any real vulgarity in the fear which Socrates expresses that he will get a beating from his mistress. in drawing the picture of the Silenus Socrates. and the fact that they are so. To praise the Athenians among the Athenians was easy. The excellence of the forgery may be fairly adduced as an argument that it is not a forgery at all. generally pretends that what he is speaking is not his own composition.

and they praise those who died in war. in every conceivable form they praise the city. and they praise ourselves also who are still alive. and all our ancestors who went before us. and at the greatness of the city. For you know that there is to be a public funeral? SOCRATES: Yes. and not until the fourth or fifth day do I come to my senses . they delayed the election until tomorrow. I went to the council chamber because I heard that the Council was about to choose some one who was to speak over the dead. are mounting upwards to things higher still. although he may have been poor. believing yourself to have arrived at the end of education and of philosophy. Menexenus? Are you from the Agora? MENEXENUS: Yes. This consciousness of dignity lasts me more than three days. but I believe that either Archinus or Dion will be chosen. SOCRATES: Whence come you. as often happens. are intending to govern us elder men. and all in a moment I imagine myself to have become a greater and nobler and finer man than I was before. SOCRATES: O Menexenus! Death in battle is certainly in many respects a noble thing. and. when they are under the influence of the speaker. I become suddenly conscious of having a sort of triumph over them. and an elaborate speech is made over him by a wise man who has long ago prepared what he has to say. The dead man gets a fine and costly funeral. MENEXENUS by Plato (see Appendix I above) Translated by Benjamin Jowett PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Socrates and Menexenus. And whom did they choose? MENEXENUS: No one. I know. though rather young for the post. but not if you think otherwise. there are any foreigners who accompany me to the speech. which appears to them. and I stand listening to their words. Socrates. and is included in the Alexandrian catalogues of Platonic writings.also that the work was famous in antiquity. and become enchanted by them. MENEXENUS: Yes. And if. Menexenus. which has always provided some one who kindly took care of us. more wonderful than ever. SOCRATES: And what might you be doing at the Council? And yet I need hardly ask. if you allow and advise that I should. I have been at the Council. and to have had enough of them. The speakers praise him for what he has done and for what he has not done--that is the beauty of them--and they steal away our souls with their embellished words. Socrates. like the rest of your family. I shall be ready to hold office. for I see that you. although he who is praised may not have been good for much. until I feel quite elevated by their laudations. and they seem to experience a corresponding feeling of admiration at me.

nor is there any difficulty in improvising that sort of stuff. as a master. I am inclined to think that the speaker who is chosen will not have much to say. Socrates? SOCRATES: Certainly 'not. in the meantime I have been living in the Islands of the Blest.' MENEXENUS: Do you think that you could speak yourself if there should be a necessity. SOCRATES: Yes. and rhetoric of Antiphon the Rhamnusian. Such is the art of our rhetoricians. for he has been called upon to speak at a moment's notice. For she had been told. and she was ready to strike me because I was always forgetting. and besides her I had Connus. putting together fragments of the funeral oration which Pericles spoke. MENEXENUS: And can you remember what Aspasia said? SOCRATES: I ought to be able. but yesterday I heard Aspasia composing a funeral oration about these very dead.and know where I am. SOCRATES: But why. say. I do. the son of Xanthippus. Menexenus. But there is no difficulty in a man's winning applause when he is contending for fame among the persons whom he is praising. my friend. Had the orator to praise Athenians among Peloponnesians. however. or Peloponnesians among Athenians. for she taught me. and he will be compelled almost to improvise. might make a figure if he were to praise the Athenians among the Athenians. and if the Council were to choose you? SOCRATES: That I should be able to speak is no great wonder. for example. as I believe. . but which. MENEXENUS: Then why will you not rehearse what she said? SOCRATES: Because I am afraid that my mistress may be angry with me if I publish her speech. MENEXENUS: You are always making fun of the rhetoricians. Socrates. as you were saying. MENEXENUS: Do you think not. MENEXENUS: And who is she? I suppose that you mean Aspasia. that the Athenians were going to choose a speaker. as she was in rhetoric. should he not have plenty to say? Every rhetorician has speeches ready made. and in such manner does the sound of their words keep ringing in my ears. MENEXENUS: And what would you be able to say if you had to speak? SOCRATES: Of my own wit. most likely nothing. one who had learned music of Lamprus. even the pupil of very inferior masters. partly improvising and partly from previous thought. considering that I have an excellent mistress in the art of rhetoric. the son of Metrobius. No wonder that a man who has received such an education should be a finished speaker. and she repeated to me the sort of speech which he should deliver.--she who has made so many good speakers. she composed. he must be a good rhetorician who could succeed and gain credit. and he was my master in music. and one who was the best among all the Hellenes--Pericles. this time.

she bore them and nourished them and received them. but their own true mother. as is meet and by law ordained. It is meet and right. I hope that you will oblige me. for in those days she alone and first of all brought . The departed have already had the first. and how shall we rightly begin the praises of these brave men? In their life they rejoiced their own friends with their valour. dwelling and living in their own land.MENEXENUS: Nay. For as a woman proves her motherhood by giving milk to her young ones (and she who has no fountain of milk is not a mother). SOCRATES: Truly I have such a disposition to oblige you. and consoling their fathers and mothers and the survivors. And I think that we should praise them in the order in which nature made them good. their nurture and education. What sort of a word will this be. secondly. a stepmother to her children. and their death they gave in exchange for the salvation of the living. let us by all means have the speech. whose fathers have come from another country. whether Aspasia's or any one else's. The country is worthy to be praised. SOCRATES: But I am afraid that you will laugh at me if I continue the games of youth in old age. she our mother was free and pure from savage monsters. and out of all animals selected and brought forth man. is that at the time when the whole earth was sending forth and creating diverse animals. with the mention of the dead:-. that we should begin by praising the land which is their mother. and in her bosom they now repose. she began as follows. For noble words are a memorial and a crown of noble actions. A word is needed which will duly praise the dead and gently admonish the living. and above all. and then let us set forth how noble their actions were. Socrates.(Thucyd. exhorting the brethren and descendants of the departed to imitate their virtue. is that she provided the means of support for her offspring. nor are these their descendants sojourners only. so did this our land prove that she was the mother of men. and that will be a way of praising their noble birth. let us have the speech. And a great proof that she brought forth the common ancestors of us and of the departed. for they were good because they were sprung from good fathers. Wherefore let us first of all praise the goodness of their birth. when going forth on their destined journey they were attended on their way by the state and by their friends. And ought not the country which the Gods praise to be praised by all mankind? The second praise which may be fairly claimed by her. since we are alone. but by all mankind.) There is a tribute of deeds and of words. And the country which brought them up is not like other countries. and alone has justice and religion. therefore. And first as to their birth. who may chance to be alive of the previous generation. no matter. Socrates. as being dear to the Gods. that if you bid me dance naked I should not like to refuse. tame and wild. Their ancestors were not strangers. which are given to the doers of them by the hearers. the tribute of words remains to be given to them. and how worthy of the education which they had received. but they are the children of the soil. not only by us. who is superior to the rest in understanding. Listen then: If I remember rightly. MENEXENUS: Far otherwise. This is proved by the strife and contention of the Gods respecting her. first. if any.

among whom our departed friends are to be reckoned. which I ought briefly to commemorate. she gave them Gods to be their rulers and teachers. and shall invoke others to sing of them also in lyric and other strains. and therefore their governments are unequal. and to help them in their toils. Of these I . and against barbarians in the common interest of Hellas. and the government of good men is good. and which are still wooing the poet's muse. Thus born into the world and thus educated. in a manner becoming the actors. and to recognize no superiority except in the reputation of virtue and wisdom. And I must show that our ancestors were trained under a good government. nor honoured by reason of the opposite. lords of Asia. for the woman in her conception and generation is but the imitation of the earth. and not the earth of the woman. which is the best and noblest sustenance for man. and for this reason they were good. For government is the nurture of man. as in other states. and our contemporaries are also good. according to the fancies of men. And first I will tell how the Persians. whose names are well known. They are the Gods who first ordered our lives. And these are truer proofs of motherhood in a country than in a woman. and we do not think it right to be one another's masters or servants. but there is one principle--he who appears to be wise and good is a governor and ruler. Time would fail me to tell of their defence of their country against the invasion of Eumolpus and the Amazons. but there are other worthy deeds of which no poet has worthily sung. and indeed always. Then as now. from that time to this. The basis of this our government is equality of birth. first hereditary and then elected. They already have their reward. our government was an aristocracy--a form of government which receives various names. who were our fathers. the children all of one mother. or of the Heracleids against the Argives. there are tyrannies and there are oligarchies. and these. for other states are made up of all sorts and unequal conditions of men. But we and our citizens are brethren. but to others also. the poets have already declared in song to all mankind their glory. being nobly born and having been brought up in all freedom. And of the fruit of the earth she gave a plenteous supply. and therefore any commemoration of their deeds in prose which we might attempt would hold a second place. besides. our brethren. Of these I am bound to make honourable mention. and is sometimes called democracy. and I say no more of them. too. who dispense offices and power to those who appear to be most deserving of them. whom she regarded as her true offspring. or of their defence of the Argives against the Cadmeians. Neither is a man rejected from weakness or poverty or obscurity of origin. and need not now be repeated. the ancestors of the departed lived and made themselves a government. and how the children of this land. held them back. They were the deeds of men who thought that they ought to fight both against Hellenes for the sake of Hellenes on behalf of freedom. and afterwards she made the olive to spring up to be a boon to her children. in which the one party are slaves and the others masters. And so their and our fathers.forth wheat and barley for human food. not only to her own. did both in their public and private capacity many noble deeds famous over the whole world. For kings we have always had. and taught us the acquisition and use of arms for the defence of the country. were enslaving Europe. but the natural equality of birth compels us to seek for legal equality. And when she had herself nursed them and brought them up to manhood. and authority is mostly in the hands of the people. speaking generally. and instructed us in the arts for the supply of our daily needs. but is really an aristocracy or government of the best which has the approval of the many. and of bad men bad.

I will mention only that act of theirs which appears to me to be the noblest. and the others not to fear them by land. as is meet and fitting. and third in the salvation of Hellas. He who has present to his mind that conflict will know what manner of men they were who received the onset of the barbarians at Marathon. therefore. and the second to those who fought and conquered in the sea fights at Salamis and Artemisium. the minds of all men were enthralled by him--so many and mighty and warlike nations had the power of Persia subdued. in order that they might be able to tell the king that no one had escaped them. Third in order. and praise their valour. too happy in having escaped for a time. And from Eretria they went to Marathon with a like intention. and none of the Hellenes dared to assist either the Eretrians or the Athenians. To them. And now the Lacedaemonians as well as the Athenians took part in the struggle. Cyrus. He who would rightly estimate them should place himself in thought at that time. as far as Egypt. I assign in my speech the first place. and with his fleet held the sea and the islands. but that hosts of men and the multitude of riches alike yield to valour. telling him to bring the Eretrians and Athenians to the king. and after him came his son. and they were numerous. the one teaching and habituating the Hellenes not to fear the barbarians at sea. and subjected the Medes. and Datis as commander. who were reputed to be amongst the noblest and most warlike of the Hellenes of that day. because. I place the battle of Plataea. one might have many things to say--of the assaults which they endured by sea and land. for that was the action to which the Hellenes looked back when they ventured to fight for their own safety in the battles which ensued: they became disciples of the men of Marathon. but he conquered them all in three days. by his valour freed the Persians. and he sent 500. coming to the borders of Eretria and spreading from sea to sea. if he wished to keep his head on his shoulders. and when he had conquered them. Having effected one-half of their purpose. He sailed against the Eretrians. for the men of Marathon only showed the Hellenes that it was possible to ward off the barbarians by land. This is the glory of the men who fought at sea. he searched the whole country after this manner: his soldiers. too. that they dispelled the second terror which had hitherto possessed the Hellenes. in order that no one might escape. but the rest were panic-stricken and kept quiet. they were all united in this greatest . but there was no proof that they could be defeated by ships. when the whole of Asia was subject to the third king of Persia. joined hands and passed through the whole country. and how they repelled them. And so the soldiers of Marathon and the sailors of Salamis became the schoolmasters of Hellas. they were in the act of attempting the other. the third king was Darius. and he ruled over the rest of Asia. and so made the fear of numbers. and by the victory which they gained over the barbarians first taught other men that the power of the Persians was not invincible. and chastened the pride of the whole of Asia. None presumed to be his equal. who extended the land boundaries of the empire to Scythia. who were their lords. expecting to bind the Athenians in the same yoke of necessity in which they had bound the Eretrians. and they arrived a day too late for the battle. whether of ships or men. for of them. the many by the few. to cease among them. and at sea the Persians retained the reputation of being invincible in numbers and wealth and skill and strength. for the number and valour of the combatants. who were his countrymen. we had conspired against Sardis. but of our liberties and of the liberties of all who are on the continent. except the Lacedaemonians. The first king. and which followed that of Marathon and came nearest to it.will speak first. who ruled all the accessible part of Egypt and Libya.000 men in transports and vessels of war. and 300 ships. as he said. And I assert that those men are the fathers not only of ourselves. Now Darius had a quarrel against us and the Eretrians.

if any one doubted the superior prowess of the Athenians in the former war with the barbarians. wherefore their virtues will be celebrated in times to come. on the third day after the battle of Tanagra. leaving the Boeotians. at Sphagia. that they could conquer single-handed those with whom they had been allied in the war against the barbarians. together with us. and not because of the private anger of the state destroy the common interest of Hellas. and gave them back. and who sailed to Egypt and divers other places. And so the war against the barbarians was fought out to the end by the whole city on their own behalf. Many also fell in naval engagements at the Hellespont. and drove and purged away all barbarians from the sea. our countrymen conquered at Oenophyta. the Spartans. there succeeded a jealousy of her. and in this many brave men who are here interred lost their lives--many of them had won victories in Sicily. For when the Lacedaemonians had gone on their way. for they proved. but. and was decided by the engagement which followed. the city was unable to help them. On the breaking out of war. and our city was held in honour. and they should be gratefully remembered by us. their very enemies and opponents winning more renown for valour and temperance than the friends of others. as prosperity makes men jealous. These were the men who fought by sea at the river Eurymedon. and there was a report that the great king was going to make a new attempt upon the Hellenes. were united against Athens. the king of Persia. and so she became engaged against her will in a war with the Hellenes. and defeated them in other naval engagements. in their extreme animosity towards the city. considering that they should war with the fellow-countrymen only until they gained a victory over them. spared their lives. without us. as they are now celebrated by us. and freed those whom they aided. and are here interred. our citizens met the Lacedaemonians at Tanagra. Afterwards there was a mighty war. whither they had gone over the seas to fight for the liberties of the Leontines. And they were the first after the Persian war who fought on behalf of liberty in aid of Hellenes against Hellenes. after defeating them in a naval engagement and taking their leaders. But at a later period many Hellenic tribes were still on the side of the barbarians. had expelled. should have entered into negotiations with their bitterest enemy. and who went on the expedition to Cyprus. and devastated our country. they again brought back. After the peace there followed a third war. and jealousy begat envy. they were brave men.and most terrible conflict of all. and all the hosts. that their doubts had no foundation--showing by their victory in the civil war with Hellas. owing to the distance. in which all the Hellenes joined.--him. because they compelled the king in fear for himself to look to his own safety instead of plotting the destruction of Hellas. barbarian against Hellenes. and therefore justice requires that we should also make mention of those who crowned the previous work of our salvation. when they might have destroyed them. Worthy of praise are they also who waged this war. which was very ungrateful of them. and were the first too who were honourably interred in this sepulchre by the state. There was peace. but that with barbarians they should war to the death. in which they subdued the other chief state of the Hellenes. and fought for the freedom of the Boeotians. and made peace. both of Hellenes and barbarians. whom they were aiding. and righteously restored those who had been unrighteously exiled. the issue was doubtful. and then. after having in one day taken all the ships of the enemy. and they lost heart and came to misfortune. is that the other Hellenes. to whom they were bound by oaths. And what I call the terrible and desperate nature of the war. which was of a terrible and desperate nature. whom they. And then shone forth . and on behalf of their countrymen. and our countrymen.

and to this day we are still unconquered by them. depriving her of the ships which had once been their salvation. and the city had rest. And in this instance she was not able to hold out or keep her resolution of refusing aid to her injurers when they were being enslaved. and that their business was to subject the remaining Hellenes. that they may be reconciled even as we are reconciled. for she could not forget the trophies of Marathon and Salamis and Plataea. but she was softened. with what moderation did they order the war against the tyrants in Eleusis. which had preserved their own from falling. but that she was indignant at the ingratitude of the Hellenes. but the entire war was decided by them. but we were our own conquerors. which created among them a friendship as of kinsmen. of which he was the destroyer. when she remembered how they had received good from her and returned evil. while the Lacedaemonians were thinking that we who were the champions of liberty had fallen. and received defeat at our own hands. She thought that she would no longer defend the Hellenes. And that reputation was a true one. and therefore are not interred here. came to feel the need of us. no one could have desired that his city should take the disorder in a milder form. and have mutually received and granted forgiveness of what we have done and suffered. And why should I say more? for the events of which I am speaking happened not long ago and we can all of us remember how the chief peoples of Hellas. he would find only one charge which he could justly urge--that she was too compassionate and too favourable to the weaker side. and. having made common cause with the barbarians. and her feeling was that she forgave the barbarians. and came to the rescue with sixty other ships. but she allowed exiles and volunteers to assist him. and their valour was confessed of all men. How joyful and natural was the reconciliation of those who came from the Piraeus and those who came from the city. but there sprang up war at home. who had severely suffered at her hands and severely retaliated. Afterwards there was quiet and peace abroad. and our ships were blockaded at Mitylene. and on such occasions as these to reconcile them with sacrifices and prayers. and in a manner how unlike what the other Hellenes expected! And the reason of this gentleness was the veritable tie of blood. but they were unfortunate. if men are destined to have civil war. This was our feeling.the power and valour of our city. when enslaved either by one another or by the barbarians. and delivered the Hellenes from slavery. faithful not in word only. and they were his salvation. And she . the Persian king himself was driven to such extremity as to come round to the opinion. and dismantling our walls. and through them the city gained the reputation of being invincible. Her enemies had supposed that she was exhausted by the war. We were never conquered by others. his salvation would proceed. And yet by some evil fortune they were left to perish at sea. who are of the same race with them. And if a person desired to bring a deserved accusation against our city. but in deed. for they conquered their enemies and delivered their friends. But the citizens themselves embarked. Ever to be remembered and honoured are they. And that such was the fact we ourselves are witnesses. even though attacked by all mankind. and they were free until they afterwards enslaved themselves. and did accordingly. After this there was perfect peace. that from this city. for by their valour not only that seafight was won for us. what is the greatest miracle of all. and from no other. Argives and Boeotians and Corinthians. Whereas. and did in fact send out aid. and. For they did not attack one another out of malice or enmity. praying to those who have power over them. And we ought also to remember those who then fell by one another's hands. for the defeat which came upon us was our own doing. to the great king she refused to give the assistance of the state.

asked of us. then. either while he is on the earth or after death in the world below. About the other allies he was mistaken. and what. many and glorious things I have spoken of them. that. and in all future time. For neither does wealth bring honour to the owner. and we alone refused to give them up and swear. and whatever is your aim let virtue be the condition of the attainment of your aim. and know that without this all possessions and pursuits are dishonourable and evil. and there are yet many more and more glorious things remaining to be told--many days and nights would not suffice to tell of them. Now the king fearing this city and wanting to stand aloof. I will tell you what I heard them say. and yet pass for Hellenes. or from cowardice fall behind. such as were those who fell owing to the ruggedness of the ground at the battle of Corinth. the event proves that your fathers were brave men. and let every man remind their descendants that they also are soldiers who must not desert the ranks of their ancestors. Even as I exhort you this day. the enemy was only too glad to be quit of us. when she was compelled. considering that life is not life to one who is a dishonour to his race. And so. And I think that I ought now to repeat what your fathers desired to have said to you who are their survivors. Let them not be forgotten. who are by nature barbarians. And you must imagine that you hear them saying what I now repeat to you:-'Sons. and that then he might have a pretence for withdrawing from us. uncontaminated by any foreign element. and the other states. Brave men. having no admixture of barbarism in us. that you strive to be the bravest of men. judging from what they then said. but have preferred to die honourably rather than bring you and your children into disgrace. but. by the favour of Heaven. for the Corinthians and Argives and Boeotians. if he be a coward. or by treason at Lechaeum. I remind you of them. for we ended the war without the loss of our ships or walls or colonies. and therefore the hatred of the foreigner has passed unadulterated into the life-blood of the city. For we are not like many others. they would make over to him the Hellenes of the continent. and that to such a one neither men nor Gods are friendly. as the price of his alliance with us and the other allies. shall continue to remind and exhort you.herself. notwithstanding our noble sentiments. too. but we are pure Hellenes. and fought with the Lacedaemonians on behalf of the Parians. and of others who have died on behalf of their country. so sound and healthy was the spirit of freedom among us. because we were unwilling to be guilty of the base and unholy act of giving up Hellenes to barbarians. O ye sons of heroes. and rather than dishonour our own fathers and forefathers. for we might have lived dishonourably. they would fain be saying. and built walls and ships. he thinking that we should refuse. Such was the natural nobility of this city. if they had only speech. and do honour to their memories. descendants of Pelops or Cadmus or Egyptus or Danaus. and drove the Lacedaemonians from the sea. whom the Lacedaemonians had previously handed over to him. when they went out to battle. entered into the war. and the instinctive dislike of the barbarian. and swore and covenanted. we managed better. we were again isolated. were quite willing to let them go. Yet in this war we lost many brave men. and dwell in the midst of us. because we are pure Hellenes. if he would pay them money. whenever I meet with any of you. were those who delivered the Persian king. And we were in the same case as when we were subdued before. and you must celebrate them together with me. Such were the actions of the men who are here interred. when he saw the Lacedaemonians growing weary of the war at sea. Remember our words. in case anything happened to them. of such a one the . to give up the Hellenes in Asia.

While we gently heal their wounds. neither lamenting overmuch. when separated from justice and virtue. is alike base and dishonourable. to exceed. And such we would have our parents to be--that is our word and wish. if they bear their misfortunes bravely. either they will be suspected of not being our parents. who show in their lives that they are true men. A mortal man cannot expect to have everything in his own life turning out according to his will. no one will welcome or receive you. wherefore make this your first and last and constant and all-absorbing aim. not only us but all your ancestors in virtue. which is the greatest good. and you will most likely be victors in the contest. and to leave none to your successors. when the hour of destiny brings you hither. and they will please us best if they bear their loss lightly and temperately. because you have neither money nor reputation of your own. but rather let them be our chief and true panegyrists. making the possessor more conspicuous. And if they will direct their minds to the care and nurture of our wives and children. Nor does beauty and strength of body. will be truly deemed brave fathers of the brave. and will not need any one to stir them up. we shall die. knowing that to a man who has any self-respect. 'Some of us have fathers and mothers still living. but to have the use of a treasure of wealth and honour. or we of not being such as our panegyrists declare. he will remember the proverb-"Neither rejoicing overmuch nor grieving overmuch. or changing with the vicissitude of their fortune.--has his life ordered for the best. nothing is more dishonourable than to be honoured.--who is not hanging in suspense on other men. And if you follow our precepts you will be received by us as friends. and as such we now offer ourselves. and really was. and not to condole with one another. and should be glorified rather than lamented. nor fearing overmuch. but on account of the reputation of his ancestors. they will displease us most by making themselves miserable and by taking their misfortunes too much to heart. they will soonest forget their misfortunes. He is the temperate and valiant and wise. and we would urge them. but if you neglect our words and are disgraced in your lives. and they. when his children are given and taken away. if possible. but that to be excelled by you is a source of happiness to us. But if they give way to their sorrows. And we entreat our fathers and mothers to retain these feelings throughout their future life. and live in a better and nobler way. let us remind them that the Gods have heard the chief part of their prayers. Of old the saying. Let not either of the two alternatives happen. wholly. for they prayed. is seen to be cunning and not wisdom. when dwelling in a base and cowardly man. And we shall most likely be defeated. and had men for their sons." appeared to be. This is the message which is to be delivered to our children. For he whose happiness rests with himself. and to be assured that they will not please us by sorrowing and lamenting over us. for they have sorrows enough. and if not. . to bear the calamity as lightly as possible. and not to himself. And all knowledge. and manifesting forth his cowardice. if the dead have any knowledge of the living. and know that to excel you in virtue only brings us shame. if you learn so to order your lives as not to abuse or waste the reputation of your ancestors. "Nothing too much. And this. well said. appear comely. and when his riches come and go. if possible. if we are to die at this time. not that their children might live for ever. if. as is likely. For our life will have the noblest end which is vouchsafed to man. not for his own sake.wealth belongs to another." for he relies upon himself. they have attained. as far as is possible. But. but that they might be brave and renowned. The honour of parents is a fair and noble treasure to their posterity. and be dearer to us. but the reverse of comely.

the highest authority is specially entrusted with the duty of watching over them above all other citizens. I marvel that Aspasia. and you. for thus you will be most endeared to the dead and to the living. go your ways. and do you not admire her. parents. she places in their hands the instruments of their fathers' virtues. and know what she is like. she would have them from the first begin to rule over their own houses arrayed in the strength and arms of their fathers. and still more to you who have told me. Socrates. in full armour clad. You have heard. I am very grateful to her or to him who told you. while they are children she is a parent to them. to imitate your fathers. and then at some future time I will repeat to you many other excellent political speeches of hers. for the sake of the omen. having lamented the dead in common according to the law. and when they have arrived at man's estate she sends them to their several duties. And in their name I beseech you. and they will see that your fathers and mothers have no wrong done to them. the oration of Aspasia the Milesian. is the message which they bid us deliver to you. you ought to bear your calamity the more gently. Socrates. Socrates. SOCRATES: Well. and does not need any exhortation of ours. SOCRATES: Well. . But we know that she will of her own accord take care of them. And now do you and all. SOCRATES: Very good.'This is all that we have to say to our families: and to the state we would say--Take care of our parents and of our sons: let her worthily cherish the old age of our parents. she never ceases honouring them. only let me hear them. She is to the dead in the place of a son and heir. you may come with me and hear her. MENEXENUS: I have often met Aspasia. and bring up our sons in the right way. should be able to compose such a speech. and are you not grateful for her speech? MENEXENUS: Yes. and to their parents and elder kindred in the place of a guardian--ever and always caring for them. MENEXENUS: Fear not. and take care of you both publicly and privately in any place in which one of us may meet one of you who are the parents of the dead. and to their sons in the place of a father. and your sorrows will heal and be healed. MENEXENUS: Truly. to be of good cheer about yourselves. you know yourselves. and bringing freshly to their minds the ways of their fathers. and musical festivals of every sort. Menexenus.' This. holding gymnastic and equestrian contests. if you are incredulous. she must be a rare one. But you must take care not to tell of me. celebrating in common for all rites which become the property of each. O ye children and parents of the dead. And as for the dead. the children. for we will nourish your age. for she has made provision by law concerning the parents and children of those who die in war. and I will keep the secret. And the care of you which the city shows. and which I do deliver with the utmost seriousness. desiring as far as it is possible that their orphanhood may not be felt by them. The city herself shares in the education of the children. who is only a woman. Considering this. and in addition to this.

SOCRATES: Then I will keep my promise. by Plato . End of this Project Gutenberg Etext of Menexus.