An Annotated Plato Reader

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An Annotated Plato Reader

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An Annotated Plato Reader PLATO

An Annotated Plato Reader

Clitophon Meno Euthyphro Apology Crito Phaedo

Edited by Geoffrey S. Bowe and K. Darcy Otto

c Copyright Info

Contents Contents

i

Preface

1

Introduction

2

Clitophon: Introduction

8

Clitophon

15

Meno: Introduction

21

Meno

28

Euthyphro: Introduction

67

Euthyphro

72

Apology: Introduction

91

Apology

97

Crito: Introduction

126

Crito

132

Phaedo: Introduction

148

Phaedo

155

Index

225 i

Preface The primary aim of the text is to offer a great deal of prosopographical, cultural, and contextual detail about the people, places and cultural landscape in which Plato situates Socrates. Over time the Anglo-American focus on argumentation in Plato has led to the erosion of contemporary knowledge of contextual details, details that inform and nuance what is being said in the dialogues. Assessing the arguments stripped of context has led to an erosion of our understanding the intent of Plato’s dialogues. Debra Nails’s The People of Plato 1 has brought this issue into sharp relief, and the translations and annotations contained in the present volume owe a great deal to her work, both in terms of the wealth of learned information she provides, and indeed in providing an impetus for this project in the first place.

1

Nails, The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics,” Hackett 2002.

1

Introduction Life of Plato What we know of Plato’s life is drawn primarily from biographies that are considered unreliable, but likely contain some truth. Plato was born in 427 BCE, to Ariston and Perictione, and died in 347 BCE. One of four siblings, Plato traced his lineage to the last king of Athens through his father, and to Solon (an important poet and political reformer) through his mother. Lineage aside, Plato’s family was also one of the most distinguished in Athens, with strong political connexions. There is evidence that as a young man, Plato travelled to Italy and Egypt (the latter was “ancient” even to the ancient Greeks). Around the age of forty, Plato founded what would become his life’s work: the Academy. The Academy was the first institution of higher learning in the Western world, and educated many prominent intellectuals, including Aristotle. This school endured until 529 CE when Justinian I of Byzantium placed the school under state control, on the grounds that it was a threat to the propagation of Christianity. For twenty years following his founding of the Academy, Plato was engaged as a leader, researcher and teacher. Then, at the age of sixty, if the Letters ascribed to Plato are genuine and can be trusted, Plato is invited to Sicily to instruct the young leader of Syracuse, Dionysius II. It is likely that Plato saw in Dionysius the opportunity to bring a knowledge of science and philosophy to someone who had absolute authority. The scheme lasted a few months and eventually foundered; whether because of Dionysius’ feeble mind, or Plato’s unrealistic expectations, or the vagaries of Dionysius’ court, we do not know. After his Syracusan expedition, Plato returns to the Academy, and remains in Athens until his death. Aside from the claims of the biographers, and the possibly more reliable claims we can draw from Plato’s own Letters, we know two things about Plato from his dialogues: that he was present at the trial of Socrates (Apology, 38b), 3

4 and that he was not present at Socrates’ death (Phaedo, 59b).

Writings Tradition ascribes to Plato thirty-five dialogues and thirteen letters. We think we have everything Plato published, and then some (which is to say, modern scholars doubt the authenticity of at least some of these works). Although we do not, for the most part, know with any certainty when the dialogues were written, or whether they were revised years after they were written, the usual approach is to divide them into three rough categories: early, middle and late. The early dialogues are largely Socratic in character, which is to say that Socrates is the central character, and the discussion typically revolves around an ethical question (for example, what is piety?). Socrates’ interlocutor usually makes some sort of knowledge-claim (declaring himself to be an expert on the subject), and Socrates then proceeds to show up the interlocutor as not knowing what he is talking about. Throughout the discussion, Socrates does not provide any answers to the question he is asking, although he sometimes offers suggestions. The dialogues that belong to this period include the Euthyphro (what is piety?), Charmides (what is temperance?), Laches (what is courage?), Lysis (what is friendship?). The Apology and Crito are also considered early. The middle dialogues are markedly different from the early dialogues, in that the character of Socrates starts to provide answers to questions. Here, we find the Theory of Recollection (learning is recollecting what the immortal soul already knows), and the Theory of Forms (universals are unchanging essences that are perceived by the mind), and other positive doctrines relating to the state, the nature of knowledge, and natural philosophy. Even though Socrates is still the central character, it is generally agreed that the views he expounds are not those of the historical Socrates, but those of Plato. The dialogues belonging to this period include the four great dialogues for which Plato is justifiably famous: the Phaedo, the Republic, the Symposium, the Phaedrus. In these works, Plato portrays Socrates as grappling not just with ethical questions, but also with political, social, epistemological and metaphysical questions. The late dialogues depart from the middle period in two important ways: first, the Theory of Forms falls into the background; and second, Socrates is often not the primary speaker (though Socrates is present in all of them). The Parmenides, which begins the late period, is on the face of it a scathing attack on the Theory of Forms. Forms seem to disappear completely from the Theaetetus, and are either absent or in another guise in the other dialogues

Introduction

5

(with the notable exception of the Timaeus). Furthermore, Socrates plays a reduced role in several late dialogues, being present but not saying much in the second half of the Parmenides, the Sophist, the Statesman; and not appearing at all in the Laws. This invites the (controversial) inference that Plato is philosophically moving away from the Theory of Forms in the late dialogues, and he is dramatically emphasizing this by moving away from Socrates, the man in whose mouth the Forms first appear. Other dialogues belonging to this group, in addition to those just mentioned, include the Philebus and the Critias.

Socrates No description of Plato’s life would be complete without discussing Socrates, the man who influenced Plato more than any other. Yet beyond this sort of generalisation, the nature of the relationship between these two men is a matter of contention. In the Apology (33d–34a), Plato presents himself as one of Socrates’ devoted followers. But if we can trust Aristotle’s description of the historical Socrates as a man interested only in ethical questions (Metaphysics 987b1, Sophistical Refutations 183b7), it is clear that Plato’s interests are far broader than Socrates’. Socrates was executed in 399 BCE, when Plato was around twenty-eight years old. Yet Socrates appears in dialogues that were written long after his death. It is natural to ask how much of Socrates’ original thought the dialogues reflect. But the answer to this question is both complicated and controversial. The dominant view is that the early Platonic dialogues reflect the sorts of questions in which the historical Socrates was interested, and the method of questioning resembles the approach the historical Socrates may have taken. Writing dialogues that were Socratic in character was something of a minor industry among Socrates’ followers, and as such it is doubtful that even the early dialogues are records of actual conversations. The middle and late period dialogues, even when Socrates is the main speaker, are almost certainly not conversations that the historical Socrates ever had. Aside from Plato’s dialogues and evidence from Aristotle, we also get a picture of Socrates from Xenophon (ca. 430–354 BCE), and from the comic poet Aristophanes (ca. 446–386 BCE). Xenophon’s depiction of Socrates is quite different from Plato’s. For example, both Plato and Xenophon wrote an Apology that deals with Socrates’ trial. But in Plato’s version, Socrates suggests a counterpenalty of thirty minae (a substantial sum) and explains that he is willing to face death in order to continue doing philosophy. In Xenophon’s

6 version, Socrates allows no counterpenalty and explains that it is better for him to die than suffer the pains of old age. Socrates also appears in Aristophanes’ comedy, The Clouds. Again, the depiction of Socrates is very different than we find in Plato. Aristophanes portrays Socrates as a fraud artist and sophist, with an interest in natural philosophy. This might be satire: Aristophanes is a comic poet after all. But it is suggested in Plato’s Apology that this representation of Socrates is a contributing factor in Socrates’ trial and execution. In any case, when considering the question of the historical Socrates, it is worth noting that the Socrates of Xenophon and Aristophanes are quite different than the Socrates of Plato.

Reading Plato Interpreting Plato is notoriously difficult, in large part because Plato does not address his audience directly in the dialogues. In fact, Plato does not affirm or deny anything at all. Rather, it is Plato’s characters who do all the questioning, doubting, responding, affirming and denying that are integral to the dialogues. Nevertheless, there are theories (e.g., the Theory of Recollection, the Theory of Forms) that seem more or less consistent and appear across several dialogues. At the very least, we can put such theories down as theories Plato is proposing as solutions to serious philosophical problems. Even at the level of the individual dialogue though, it is difficult to know whether Plato is presenting all, or just some, of the arguments seriously. For example, in the Phaedo we find Socrates presenting a series of arguments for the immortality of the soul. But the primary interlocutors in this dialogue are Simmias and Cebes, two young men who are confirmed Pythagoreans, and so we have good reason to suppose that they already believe that the soul is immortal. Perhaps Simmias and Cebes want an argument to justify or bolster their beliefs. The conversation continues until Simmias and Cebes undergo a dramatic shift: instead of simply accepting Socrates’ arguments, they engage Socrates’ arguments and present serious objections. It seems plausible that this is Plato’s purpose, not just where Simmias and Cebes are concerned, but for us as well. Just as Socrates pushed his interlocutors in the Phaedo to the point where they engaged the arguments and presented their own objections, perhaps Plato intends us to engage the arguments as well. And so, when we read the dialogues, perhaps the best approach is to engage the arguments as if we ourselves were participants, instead of hanging back to see if we can figure out what Plato’s views are. As

Introduction

7

Socrates says in the Phaedrus, books are best used as devices to stimulate our memory of the conversations we have had, and it is in conversation that we set out arguments and draw conclusions.

Clitophon: Introduction Place and Time Dating the Clitophon may seem to depend, like much else about the dialogue, on how we understand its relationship to the Republic. The Clitophon is often associated with the Republic because Clitophon is said to have praised the rhetorician Thrasymachus in the Clitophon, and he attempts to support the position of Thrasymachus in Republic I. If the Clitophon and Republic are to be understood as a dramatic continuity of some sort, the dramatic date that we assign to the Republic would automatically apply to the Clitophon as well. Even if we want to separate the Clitophon from the Republic dramatically, we might still avail ourselves of the fact that Clitophon was a known associate of Thrasymachus. But given that Thrasymachus was active in Athens between 430 and 400, this range is not very helpful. Aristotle tells us that Clitophon was politically active in support of votes leading to the establishment of oligarchical power in 411 and 404. The Athenian Constitution has him request the consultation of the ancestral laws in both cases. If we connect this fact (putting aside its oligarchical political result), with his legally positivistic interpretation of Thrasymachus’ position in Republic I, we might surmise that Plato placed Clitophon in the Republic as a known advocate and hence symbolic representation of legal positivism. Such an employment of character does little to help us with the dramatic date of the Republic or the Clitophon however; if anything it speaks to the possibility that Plato may have intended no dramatic date for the Republic. If the characters are meant to symbolize political or philosophical positions, rather than giving us a clue to the Republic’s dramatic date, Plato is free to be as liberal as he chooses with the characters he employs in the dialogue. The dating of the Republic is notoriously difficult. The two dramatic dates most often proposed are 421, during the Peace of Nicias (a six year break in the Peloponnesian War), and 411. Given the ambiguities surrounding an 9

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Introduction

appropriate date, and the near impossibility of all of the speakers in the Republic being alive or of the age of reason at the same time, and given Clitophon’s minor (even unnecessary) interjection at Republic 340a — he has less than 4 lines in the whole book, making one point about legal positivism — one is inclined to believe that the Republic was meant to transcend dramatic dating, and rather to be understood dramatically along lines of setting and the political positions that the characters symbolize.

Clitophon Clitophon’s reputation in antiquity is as something of a political charlatan, but much of this reputation seems to be the result of guilt by association. Most obvious in this regard is his connection with Thrasymachus, who argues unsuccessfully that justice is the will of the stronger party in Republic I, a view that will turn out to be diametrically opposed to the natural view of justice put forth by Socrates in the Republic. Thrasymachus is portrayed as argumentative, eristic, and in possession of all of the stock faults usually associated with the sophists that Socrates combats in many of Plato’s dialogues. Whether Clitophon should be thought of as a follower of Thrasymachus or whether he is someone who abandoned Socrates for Thrasymachus is questionable. We know that Clitophon did consult with Thrasymachus, but that he was a convert or orthodox student of Thrasymachus seems unlikely, when one considers that Thrasymachus rejects Clitophon’s attempt to defend the theory put forth by the rhetorician in Republic I. More importantly, in the Clitophon, Clitophon speaks of consulting with Thrasymachus and others, which hardly makes him a convert or orthodox follower of Thrasymachus. Clitophon was regarded by Plutarch as someone who could not be turned in the right direction by Socrates and Plato. He is pegged as a wayward student in the same breath as Alcibiades, the brilliant but corrupt young military general, whose escapades contributed to Socrates’ reputation as a corrupter of youth. It is Alcibiades who speaks highly of Socrates in a drunken tirade at the end of the Symposium (212c–223d), and about whom two dialogues of disputed provenance have been transmitted with the Platonic corpus since antiquity. Plutarch’s mention of Clitophon and Alcibiades (Moralia 328a–c) as men that could not be saved by Plato and Socrates, as damning as it appears, presumably relies heavily on his reading of the Clitophon; Plutarch offers no historical reason for why Clitophon could not be saved by Socrates and Plato, and hence we can only assume that this is based on his negative understanding of the Clitophon, and possibly Clitophon’s perceived association

Clitophon

11

with Thrasymachus. The comic playwright Aristophanes makes Clitophon an associate of the controversial and reputedly opportunistic general Theramenes in his play The Frogs (965–967). Theramenes was a supporter of the oligarchical movements in 411 and 404; Clitophon’s two actions reported in the Athenian Constitution support votes that would turn out to be instrumental in establishing oligarchical power. However while Clitophon associated with Theramenes, there is scant evidence regarding the nature and/or closeness of the association. The thrust of his actions in both 411 and 404 are consistent, insofar as both times he suggests that the ancestral law must be consulted. This in turn is consistent with the legal positivism he displays in Plato’s Republic. If we read the Clitophon independently of what we know of his historical personage, there is no indication of any of this, however. All we see is someone who has been convinced by Socrates that he must be be deeply invested in justice and caring for one’s soul, but who is in the throes of confusion about how to do so.

Argumentum The Clitophon is brief, and not really a dialogue, but more of a tirade on the part of Clitophon, a harangue against Socrates, that proceeds along rhetorical lines to articulate an understanding of Socrates’ protreptic methodology. The opening has an abruptness reminiscent of the Meno. Socrates says to Clitophon that he heard from Lysias (the brother of Polemarchus who is present but does not speak in the Republic) that Clitophon praised Thrasymachus and criticized Socrates. Clitophon tries to placate Socrates to a degree by saying that he found Socrates to be awe-inspiring when he offered up protreptic or exhortative discourses to crowds, urging them to seek justice and care for their souls. This praise and admiration for Socrates carries with it overtones of Alcibiades’ drunken encomium of Socrates in the Symposium, yet it quickly turns to exasperation at Socrates’ inability or unwillingness to forge beyond mere exhortation and actually tell Clitophon what to do, and what justice is, now that he has taken up the Socratic call to seek justice and care for one’s soul. Because Socrates cannot or will not provide him with an answer, Clitophon consults with Thrasymachus and anyone else he can. The dialogue concludes with Clitophon saying that he praises Socrates highly for his exhortation to justice, but ends with the charge that Socrates is actually an impediment to finding happiness once people have taken up the exhortation.

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Introduction

Authenticity, Protreptic, and Socratic Philosophy The Clitophon ends with either a threat by Clitophon to leave Socrates and join forces with Thrasymachus, or an explanation of why he consults with Thrasymachus already (I will say more about the ambiguity in what follows). At Republic 340b, Clitophon speaks once in an attempt to defend Thrasymachus’ position, an attempt challenged by Polemarchus, and rejected by Thrasymachus himself. Again this connection between Thrasymachus and Clitophon suggests a connection between the Clitophon and Republic I, the nature of which is far from clear. If we accept a dramatic connection between the Republic and Clitophon, two possibilities emerge. Either the Clitophon dramatically precedes the Republic, or it should be read as dramatically following Republic I. As for the first possibility, placing the Clitophon before the Republic in dramatic sequence would suggest either that Clitophon is a wayward student who has turned his back on philosophy and cannot be saved by Socrates, or that Socratic philosophy drives people to unsavoury rhetoricians like Thrasymachus. This might then lead to a reading of the Clitophon that implies Plato’s own dissatisfaction with aporetic and protreptic philosophy found in many Socratic dialogues, motivating him to write a constructive account of justice in the Republic. This kind of reading would be strengthened by the idea that Clitophon issues a threat to depart Socrates and join Thrasymachus but, as I will suggest in a moment, there is a significant reason to doubt that there is such a threat. The second possibility of a dramatic connection places the Clitophon after Republic I but before Republic II–X, since Clitophon’s main complaint in the Clitophon is that Socrates has nothing positive to say about justice, a claim which hardly makes sense after Socrates embarks on the long task of creating a psyche writ large in order to seek a definition of justice, a definition stated quite explicitly at Republic 443c–d. A tantalizing idea is that the dramatic setting of the Clitophon is one where Socrates and Clitophon are alone in the portico of the house of Polemarchus in the Piraeus (the setting of the conversation that forms the Republic). The suggestion is that after the conversation that forms Republic I has ended, Clitophon is praising Thrasymachus’ performance, and criticizing Socrates’ performance in that conversation. It is noteworthy that Republic II opens with a criticism of Socrates on this very point — Plato’s brothers Glaucon and Adeimantus criticize Socrates for not arguing very convincingly against Thrasymachus (Republic 357a–b). Hence one might imagine that the Clitophon was written with the intention of following Republic I, but cut out in later editions. This however would require that the Clitophon be a fragmentary outtake from the Republic, whereas its form and style are certainly that of a complete piece.

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That Clitophon says he goes to Thrasymachus at Clitophon 410c is important. The Greek codices employed by Marsilio Ficino in his famous Latin Platonis Opera of 1484 show signs of a later hand changing the Greek poreuomai (suggesting “I go to Thrasymachus”) to poreusomai (“I shall go to Thrasymachus”), turning an account of why Clitophon consults with Thrasymachus (poreuomai ) into a threat to do so (poreusomai ). Ficino renders this in the future (conferam, “I shall go”) in his Latin translation, and modern English translations are divided equally among future and present tense renderings of the phrase. Yet there is no ground for the future tense, grammatically, contextually or paleographically. Moreover, as I have already noted, Clitophon says that he consults with Thrasymachus and others — whomever he can — and so even if we were to allow that there is a threat, it is not threat to abandon Socrates for Thrasymachus alone, it is a threat to seek help from him and others. The change in tense at 410c contributes to the ambiguity as to whether Clitophon is threatening to cross the floor from philosophy to rhetoric or sophistry, or is merely explaining his own reasons for already consulting (sometimes) with Thrasymachus and others. The deeper implications of this subtle difference are wide ranging. For if the threat did exist, and were it a threat to join forces with Thrasymachus, it would seem to have been followed up in Republic I where Clitophon appears to be taking Thrasymachus’ side, despite the fact that Thrasymachus rejects the help that Clitophon offers. Were the threat actually there, however, one might be tempted to read the Clitophon as Plato’s own dissatisfaction with Socratic philosophy, and the Republic as his departure from Socrates to a more constructive approach to philosophy, one that extends beyond mere aporia and protreptic. On such lines of interpretation, we are forced to consider that the dialogue may represent Plato’s dissatisfaction with Socratic philosophy. However since not everyone is of the opinion that Plato wrote the Clitophon, we may also need to consider that the Clitophon expresses someone else’s dissatisfaction with Socratic philosophy. That is, the authenticity of the dialogue has been disputed for some time. However there are no good reasons to question the Clitophon’s authenticity. A considerable part of the suspicion surrounding the dialogue can be traced back to another glitch in the Ficino translations. In his Platonis Opera, Ficino writes, without explanation, that the dialogue was perhaps not written by Plato. This opinion was retracted by his editor, but never removed from subsequent editions, and this has cast a long shadow of doubt over the dialogue. Other reasons that contribute to the dialogue’s dubious status have to do with the failure to recognize the often under-appreciated role of philosophical protreptic in Socratic/Platonic philosophy.

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Introduction

Protreptic is a rhetorical attempt to convince men that they need to be virtuous, that it is important to their lives to understand virtue, and this is something that must be done before the work of understanding virtue or attaining virtue can be taken on. Protreptic plays a key role in the Socratic mission. Socrates urges men to care for their souls more than their possessions in the Apology. Alcibiades speaks in the highest terms of Socrates’ protreptic style in the Symposium. Socrates offers a display of impromptu protreptic discourse in the Euthydemus, a dialogue in which two sophists show a complete lack of competence in what Socrates considers to be the first step in teaching virtue, namely the protreptic art of convincing people to follow virtue before attempting to teach it. When we come to the Clitophon, we see that Clitophon praises Socrates for his abilities in the area of protreptic. Failure to notice that Socrates engages quite a bit in protreptic discourse can make the Socrates described in the Clitophon appear somewhat different from Plato’s other portrayals of him. This is because most of Socrates’ attempts to get people to seek virtue are implicitly protreptic, as opposed to explicitly protreptic. The general working of Socratic dialogues is such that the characters in the dialogue, as well as the reader, are meant to be placed in a state of confusion about a philosophical concept, and to be inspired (implicitly exhorted) to seek a deeper understanding of that concept. That protreptic devices are at play is not explicitly stated. The Clitophon seems to offers a more explicit interpretation of the protreptic methodology that is implicit in Socratic methodology generally. Republic I, read from the standpoint of protreptic methodology, is propaedeutic to the larger quest for justice that ensues in Republic II–X. Republic I is an aporetic, implicitly protreptic call to arms in the search for justice, one that Socrates takes up with Plato’s courageous warrior brothers Glaucon and Adeimantus as his lieutenants. Protreptic is a necessary initial tool in the Socratic arsenal, one that is too often overlooked in our readings of Plato. It is so overlooked, in fact, that we can be confused when we see Socratic protreptic so explicitly expressed in a dialogue like the Clitophon. It also leads to confusion about how to read and understand what is being expressed in the Clitophon. If we accept that confusion or aporia is meant to have protreptic impact, and observe that Clitophon is confused and that the dialogue ends with a poignant literary portrayal of the depths of that confusion, there is little mystery to the apparent strangeness of the Clitophon, and little reason to question its authenticity. Plato has written, in what follows, essentially a paean to protreptic, that essential preparatory stage in Platonic ethical philosophy. — G.S.B.

Clitophon Socrates: It has come to my attention that, in a conversation with Lysias,1 Clitophon, son of Aristonymos, criticized spending time with Socrates, and praised, above all, spending time with Thrasymachus.2 Clitophon: Whoever it was, Socrates, gave you a false account of what I said to Lysias. While I criticized you for some things, I praised you for some things as well. Since it is clear that you now criticize me, while pretending that you could care less, I would be most happy to go over what I said myself, since now we are alone, so that you don’t think I think ill of you. Perhaps you did not hear correctly, and as a result you are harsher with me than you should be. If you allow me to speak, I would gladly do so, for I want to explain. Socrates: Well, since you are eager to benefit me, it would be wrong to 1

Lysias (ca. 445–380) in Athens, was the son of Cephalus, a wealthy metic (foreign resident) who owned a weapons factory in the Piraeus (the port of Athens), and the brother of Polemarchus. Cephalus and Polemarchus are the first two interlocutors in Plato’s Republic. Lysias was a famous orator and lawyer, who offered to write Socrates’ defense on charges of religious impiety and corrupting the youth, an offer which Socrates declined. In ca. 430 he went to Thurii with Polemarchus to join a colony there. He visited Athems in 418–16, and returned permanently ca. 412. After Polemarchus was executed by the Thirty Tyrants in 404, Lysias fled to Megara where he funded an army of mercenaries to fight on the side of the democracy. These forces defeated the army led by Plato’s uncle Critias, who died in the final battle at the Temple of Bendis in the Piraeus in 403. Lysias is mentioned as present in the conversation taking place at the house of his brother Polemarchus in the Republic but does not say anything. His speech on love is discussed by Socrates and Phaedrus in the dialogue that bears the latter’s name (Phaedrus 230e–234c). 2 Thrasymachus of Chalcedon (b. ca. 455). Chalcedon is on the mouth of the Bosphorus (Boˇ gazici) in what is now Istanbul. He was an innovative rhetorician and professional teacher. In Plato’s Republic, he is he third speaker, and argues that justice is the advantage of the stronger party. Clitophon interprets his statements along legally positivistic grounds, an interpretation that Thrasymachus rejects. His inflammatory style is remarked upon by Socrates in the Phaedrus (267c-d), and Socrates suggests that neither Thrasymachus nor Lysias are the right models for acquiring rhetorical skill. In both the Republic (337d) and the Phaedrus (266c), his eagerness to make money is commented upon.

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walk away. Clearly I will come to know my good points and bad points, so that I can seek and practice the former and avoid the latter with all my strength. Clitophon: Then listen. I have often been amazed to hear you conversing with others, and it seemed to me that you spoke far better than anyone else in railing against men, saying again and again, like a god on the tragic stage:3 “O Men, where are you going? You spend all of your time chasing money and are ignorant of that which is truly important. As a result you fail to ensure that your sons, to whom you will bequeath your wealth, will know how to use it justly. You do not seek teachers of justice for them, if indeed justice can be taught, nor do you find someone to train and exercise them in justice if that is how justice is acquired. You haven’t even begun to provide this for yourselves! Once instructed in letters, music and gymnastics,4 you consider yourselves and your kin to have received a complete education in virtue, yet you are still vicious when it comes to money. How is it that you neither despise this present system of education, nor seek someone who can put a stop to this empty way of life? It is because of this disharmony, and not because you are out of step with the lyre,5 that brother is pitted against brother and city against city, quarreling most acrimoniously, suffering and perpetrating the worst kind of evils in war. But you claim that the unjust are unjust voluntarily, and not through want of education. At the same time you have the audacity to say how disgraceful and god-hated injustice is. How could people choose this kind of evil voluntarily? You say that pleasure controls them. Isn’t such servitude involuntary? Thus the statement shows, in every way, that an unjust act is involuntary, and as such all men must be more vigilant in private and cities must be more vigilant in public.” Socrates, when I hear you saying these things so often, I am overwhelmed, and I praise you with great reverence. The same goes for what you say after this, that those who care for their bodies and neglect their souls make a similar 3

The Greek for “like a god on the tragic stage” is h¯ osper epi m¯echan¯es tragik¯es theos, literally “like a god in a tragedy basket,” a reference to a mechanical device whereby a basket was attached to an arm that swung out above the stage. In the basket was an actor dressed as a god. Later literary criticism used the Latin phrase deus ex machina — god from the machine — to speak of implausible plot difficulties that were solved in the nick of time by the appearance of the god. 4 Education in classical Athens consisted of gymnastik¯e (general education in physical fitness, and mousik¯e (instruction in music, lyric poetry and especially Homeric literature. Moral training is thus heavily grounded in Homer, something which Socrates criticizes explicitly in the Republic, and implicitly in the Euthyphro. 5 A lyre is a musical instrument similar to a harp but small enough to be held in the hand and played with a plectrum. Its music accompanies lyric poetry. The point here seems to be that those who are morally lacking are not so because they have not obtained the traditional education, but that the traditional education is lacking.

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error, ignoring the part that should rule, and heeding what should be ruled. The same goes for when you say that if someone doesn’t know how to use something, it would be better for him not to use it; if someone doesn’t know how to use his eyes or ears or the whole of his body, it would be better for him not to hear or see, or use his body at all than to use it any which way. Similarly, he who does not know how to use his lyre does not know how to use his neighbor’s either, for if he doesn’t know how to use another’s he can’t use his own, or any other instrument or possession.6 And the conclusion of your argument is excellent, that for he who doesn’t know how to use his soul, it would be better that he bring his soul to peace and not live, rather than live according to his own whim. If he must live, it would be better for him to live his life as a slave than to be a free man, and he should hand over the rudder of the ship that is his mind to another, one who has learned the art of captaining men,7 that which you, Socrates, often call politics, and which you also call the art of judgment and justice. These and other like arguments are numerous and exceedingly eloquent, about the teaching of virtue and how it is necessary to care for oneself above all else, I am pretty sure I have never opposed, nor do I suspect that I shall ever oppose them in the future. I regard these as exhortations most valuable, indeed as waking us up from our slumber. So I made up my mind to learn to what comes next, although I did not question you at first Socrates. Instead I asked your peers, or followers, or companions, or whatever one is supposed to call the relationship that they have with you. Of these I questioned the ones whom you hold in the highest regard, asking them about the next step in your argument, and questioning them in your fashion. “O best of men,” I said, “What do we do with this exhortation to virtue that Socrates has given us? Should we merely accept that this is all there is, without looking into the matter or following it through? Is our life’s work to consist of nothing more than producing protreptic for the un-exhorted, so that they in turn can exhort others? Or if we agree with Socrates and with each other that this is exactly what we should do, shouldn’t we then ask the question ‘what next’ ? It’s as if we were children who knew nothing of gymnastics and medicine and someone 6 This comparison of knowing how to use the body and knowing how to use the soul, with the exception of the lyre, seems to come from Book I of the Republic (352e–353e). 7 The idea of captaining men is a commonplace; one can’t help but recall Socrates’ analogy between of captaining a ship to philosopher rulers in the Republic (488a–489b). In the Euthydemus (292c), the politician’s art is said to make people good and wise; in the Gorgias (464b), justice is caring for the soul; in the Sophist (309c–d) the ‘kingly art’ is said to provide true opinions about the fine, just and good, and their opposites. Later in the Clitophon (409d–e), one of Socrates’ followers is depicted as saying that justice produces friendship in the cities, which is knowledge, not opinion.

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18 exhorts us to care for our bodies, chastising us and saying how shameful it is that we spend all of our energy tending wheat and barley and vines and all of the good things the body needs, but that we do not seek out an art or a device that would make the body the best it can be, although there are such things. 409 If we say to him, ‘say what these arts are’, perhaps he would reply that they are gymnastics and medicine. So now, can you tell me the art of virtue for the soul?” The one who seemed to be the best at these questions said to me that it is the art which you hear Socrates speaking of, namely justice. I replied, “Don’t just tell me the name, tell me like this: They say that medicine is an b art. And it has two products, the continual production of new doctors, and health. Of these products, what we call health is no longer really an art, but rather the effect of the art which teaches it and is taught about it. Similarly, the products of the carpenter’s work are either a house or carpentry, and the house is the effect of teaching carpentry. The same can be said about justice, namely that it produces just men, like the products of other artisans, but as for the other, the work that the just man can do for us, what do we say this c is? Tell me.” This man, I think, replied “the expedient,” and another said “the necessary,” another said “the beneficial,” and yet another said “the advantageous.” So I reformulated my question and said, “But these names can be applied to each of the arts, acting correctly, seeking advantage, benefit and the like; but what each art aims at is dictated by the particular art in question. For example, d carpentry dictates what is right, good and necessary for the production of furniture, although furniture itself is not an art. Let justice be explained in this fashion. Finally, Socrates, one of your followers answered me, saying something which seemed quite elegant. He said that the specific task of justice, which belongs to no other art, was producing friendship in cities. When pressed on this, he claimed that friendship was always good and never bad, and when asked about what we call the friendship of children and animals, he said that he didn’t consider these to be friendships at all, for what follows from these e is more often bad than good. To avoid this, he claimed that these are not friendships, and those who call them by that name, name them falsely. In reality and truth, friendship is the purest harmony. When asked whether this harmony was harmony of opinion or harmony of knowledge, he rejected harmony of opinion, since necessarily many harmful things result from the harmony of men’s opinions; since he agreed that friendship was a completely good thing and the task of justice, he said that this harmony was the harmony of knowledge, not opinion. 410 At this point in our argument we fell into confusion, and those listening were able to criticize him and say that the argument had circled back to the

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beginning. They said, “Medicine is also a harmony, just like all of the arts, but they are capable of stating what they are about, but this justice or harmony of which you speak has no idea what it’s about, and it is unclear what its task is.” And so, Socrates, I finally asked you the question, and you told me that justice involves harming enemies and helping friends. But later it appeared that the just man never harms anyone, since everything he does aims at benefiting everyone.8 Well, after persisting in this, not just once or twice, but for a long time, I gave up, thinking to myself that you were better than other men in rehearsing accolades of virtue, but that one of two things must be true: either you are capable of this, and nothing more than this, which is something that can happen in any art — for example someone who is not a captain can become quite skilled in praising captaining as something which is very valuable to men, and so too with other arts. So someone might charge you with acting like this regarding justice, and say that just because you praise justice so well, it does not make you an expert in justice. Not that this is what I think, but one of two things must be true: either you don’t know, or you don’t want to share your knowledge with me. I am confused, and it seems to me that this is why I go9 to Thrasymachus, and anyone else I can. But if you are ready to stop handing me these exhortations — look, if you were to exhort me about say, gymnastics, and say that I should not neglect my body, you would then go beyond exhortation and explain the nature of the body and how it must be cared for. Do the same thing in this present case. Assume that Clitophon agrees that it is absurd to care for other things, while neglecting the soul, that for the sake of which we work so hard. And put next to that all of the other things that I’ve just said. I beg you to do nothing else, so that I don’t have to do what I do at present, praising you to Lysias and others, but criticizing you as well. For I will say, Socrates, that to a man who has not yet been exhorted by you, you are of the highest value, but to someone who has been exhorted, you are almost an impediment to attaining the goal of virtue and becoming 8

Socrates never seems to maintain anywhere that justice is helping friends and harming enemies. In the Republic, it is Polemarchus who puts forth the idea (attributed to Simonides) that “justice is giving everyone his due”(331e) which is subsequently interpreted to mean helping friends and harming enemies (332b). Socrates flatly rejects this Greek commonplace, arguing that it is never just to harm anyone (335e). This rejection of his concept of justice is also implied in the Crito (49c–e), as something that Socrates has always maintained. 9 All three extant manuscripts of the Clitophon have poreuomai (I go) with a later hand in ms. A inserting poreusomai (I will go). But the use of poreusomai is inept (cf. Slings 1999, 329–30). Much has been made of the idea that Clitophon is threatening to defect to Thrasymachus here, but it seems that this passage cannot provide textual corroboration for the claim.

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The parallel between the last line here and the last line of Republic I is interesting. There Socrates says, “if don’t know what justice is, I can’t really know whether it’s a kind of virtue or not, or whether one who has it in his possession is happy or unhappy” (354c).

Meno: Introduction Place and Time Socrates’ conversation with Meno is set in 402, when Socrates is about sixtyseven years old and has long been famous for his searching questions about virtue. This is just a few years before he will be prosecuted and executed for corrupting the young minds of Athens. Our dialogue probably takes place in one of Athens’ gymnasia, where men and boys of leisure gathered for exercise, education and socializing. Socrates spent a lot of time in these places, conducting his distinctive philosophical conversations. Ambitious young men like Meno, who studied politics and public speaking, wanted to hear what Socrates had to say. Some wanted to try their hand at refuting Socrates in public. The larger setting is the aftermath of war, and the unsettled wake of political and cultural crisis. For generations, Athens had been a cultural and military leader in Greece, especially after her crucial role — together with Sparta — in repelling the Persian invasions of 490 and 480. Now she has just narrowly escaped total destruction after Sparta finally defeated her in the long Peloponnesian Wars (461–46 and 431–04). During that time, through many reversals of fortune, Athens suffered greatly yet flourished culturally. Her distinctive, radical democracy attracted artists and thinkers from all over the Greek world, including the famous “sophists” who are admired and despised by the characters in this dialogue. These travelling teachers created the first form of higher education in Greece, but they were not welcome in Sparta, and they were always somewhat controversial in Athens, as they seemed to undermine traditional education with their strange new theories. Plato strives to distinguish Socrates from these sophists by emphasizing his moral seriousness, his special attachment to Athens, and his refusal to be considered a professional teacher. But if Socrates’ ways of discussing virtue and knowledge really were superior to sophists’ ways as Plato believes, most people at the 21

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time probably couldn’t tell the difference. Although Gorgias and the other sophists mentioned in our dialogue are not interested in the kind of ethical definition that Socrates pursues here, they all owed their celebrity and notoriety to their innovative intellectual approaches to matters of morality and politics. A simplistic opposition between mere words and real deeds was proverbial in ancient Greece as it is today, and so beneath the more political struggles that helped shape reactions to Socrates and the sophists, there was always the widespread suspicion of intellectuals and specialists in “arts of words.”

At the moment of our dialogue, the very survival of the Athenian democracy is in doubt. Fortunately, Sparta decided not to kill all of Athens’ male citizens and enslave the women and children. (That fate had been inflicted on other cities by both sides during the wars.) But in summer of 404, Sparta backed an oligarchic regime in Athens consisting of old aristocratic, anti-democratic Athenian families, which would later be known as “the Thirty Tyrants.” By May of 403, the Thirty’s army was defeated and a democratic government restored. It is now late January or early February 402 (shortly before the annual rites of initiation to the religious Mysteries; cf. 76e). The oligarchic and democratic factions are probably still negotiating terms of reconciliation in order to prevent further civil war. A sort of general amnesty would soon be declared, but the last of the extreme oligarchs have taken power in nearby Eleusis, and will attempt another coup in 401, before they are finally put down for good.

As Meno and Socrates now discuss virtue and education, the Athenian success story is not over. The democracy would thrive for most of the next century, and even a semblance of her former empire would be revived. But no one in Athens could have known that now. The restored democracy is anxious about continuing class conflict, and fearful of renewed civil war. Some democrats are suspicious of Socrates, and may believe he had supported the extreme oligarchs politically, because some of them had associated with Socrates intellectually. The general amnesty didn’t allow prosecuting such allegations at court. But after the war, Socrates continued his nondemocratic yet anti-elitist, unconventional yet anti-sophistic, investigations. Many thought he was undermining traditional morality and piety, and thereby corrupting young minds in a vulnerable community. Those were the formal charges brought against Socrates in 399.

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Meno and Anytus We know the approximate dramatic date of this dialogue because it must occur between Anytus’ return from exile in 403, and Meno’s departure for Persia by early 401. Meno is apparently visiting the newly restored Athenian government to request aid for his family, one of the ruling aristocracies in Thessaly that was currently facing new power struggles. Meno’s family had previously been such help to Athens against Sparta that his grandfather (also named Meno) was granted Athenian citizenship. We don’t know what resulted from Meno’s mission to Athens, but we do know that he soon left Greece to serve as a commander of mercenary troops for Cyrus II of Persia, in what turned out to be Cyrus’ attempt to overthrow his brother, King Artaxerxes II. Meno was young for such a position, about twenty years old, but he was a favorite of the powerful Aristippus, a fellow aristocrat who had borrowed thousands of troops from Cyrus for those power struggles in Thessaly, and was now returning some of them. The contemporary historian Xenophon (who also wrote Socratic dialogues) survived Cyrus’ failed campaign, and he wrote an account whose description of Meno resonates with Plato’s portrait here: ambitious yet lazy for the hard work of doing things rightly, and motivated by desire for wealth and power while easily forgetting friendship and justice. But Xenophon paints Meno as a thoroughly selfish and unscrupulous schemer, while Plato sketches him more subtly as a potentially dangerous, overly confident young man headed down the path of arrogance. His natural talents and his privileged but unphilosophical education are not guided by wisdom or even patience, and he prefers “good things” like money over genuine understanding and moral virtue. In this dialogue, Plato imagines Meno shortly before his Persian adventure, when he has not yet proved himself the “scoundrel” and “tyrant” that Socrates suspects and Xenophon later confirms. According to Xenophon, when Cyrus was killed and his other commanders were quickly beheaded by the King’s men, Meno was separated and tortured at length before being killed, because of his special treachery (cf. Xenophon’s Anabasis II, 6). Anytus is a prominent Athenian politician and Meno’s host in Athens. He too was wealthy, not in Meno’s old aristocratic way, but as heir to the successful tannery of a self-made businessman. In contrast to Meno’s interest in intellectual debates, Anytus is passionately opposed to those sophists who thrived in Athens’s democracy and claimed to teach virtue along with so much else. He prefers the more traditional assumption that good gentlemen learn goodness not from professional teachers, but by association with the previous generation of good gentlemen. (That was a traditionally aristocratic notion,

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but it has a democratic shape at Meno 92e, Apology 24d ff., and Protagoras 325c ff.). Although Plato was not a fan of most sophists either, he portrays Anytus’ attitude as clearly prejudicial. And though Socrates is no professional teacher, Anytus considers him just as bad, or worse — for Anytus is one of the three men who will prosecute Socrates in 399. Anytus had himself been prosecuted in 409, for failure as a general in the war against Sparta. It was alleged that he escaped punishment by bribing the jury. Later he supported the moderate faction among the Thirty Tyrants, and was banished by the extremists. Then he was a general for the democratic forces in the fight to overthrow the Thirty in 403, and he quickly became a leading politician in the restored democracy. In our dialogue, Socrates presses Anytus about why Athens’ leading statesmen have been unable to teach even their own sons to be good. He illustrates the puzzle with famous examples from both democratic and aristocratic factions of generations past, and Anytus may see that the questions could apply equally well to himself. Xenophon’s Apology of Socrates (which is rather different from Plato’s) claims that Anytus’ grudge against Socrates was personal, because Socrates had criticized Anytus’ education of his son, and predicted that his son would turn out to be no good. Still, Anytus may sincerely believe that Socrates corrupts young men like Critias and Charmides by teaching them to question good traditions. At any rate, Socrates’ tough questions about education in the Meno upset Anytus enough that he warns Socrates to desist, or risk getting hurt — foreshadowing Anytus’ role in Socrates’ trial (cf. Meno 94e ff. and 99e ff. with Apology 23a–24a and 30c–d).

Argumentum The cultural background sketched above, and those facts about the main characters, were known to many readers of the Meno in Plato’s day. The dialogue’s arguments would still be important if we knew nothing independently about its characters, though we can better appreciate the full significance of the arguments through the way they fit the characters who speak them. The dialogue opens with Meno’s prepackaged challenge to Socrates about how human goodness or virtue (aret¯e ) is achieved. Socrates quickly turns the discussion into an investigation of what this virtue really is. Since Socrates denies knowing the nature of virtue, while Meno claims to know all about it, Socrates gets Meno to try to define it. As Socrates exposes the inadequacies of Meno’s definitions three times, and gives guidelines for further practice, Meno’s enthusiasm turns into frustration. Eventually he blames Socrates for

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his trouble and makes a momentous objection: if someone doesn’t already know what virtue is, how could he even look for it, and how could he even recognize it if he were to happen upon it?

In the second stage of the dialogue, Socrates replies to Meno’s objection by reformulating it as a paradoxical dilemma, then exposing the dilemma as based on a false dichotomy. The paradox is that nothing at all can be learned, because there’s no need to learn what we already know, and we can’t recognize what we don’t yet know. Socrates tries to resolve it by identifying states of cognition between complete knowledge and pure ignorance. First he introduces the idea that the human soul has learned in previous lives, so that learning is now possible by remembering what has been known but forgotten. After illustrating this “Theory of Recollection” with a geometry lesson, Socrates reinterprets the “recollection” as the discovery of innate knowledge (or innate true beliefs, or something like them). Meno finds Socrates’ explanation somehow compelling, but puzzling; Socrates won’t vouch for the details, but recommends it as encouraging us to work hard at learning what we don’t now know. He asks Meno to join him in a continued search for the definition of virtue.

In the third stage of the dialogue, Meno returns to his original question: is virtue something taught, or is it acquired in some other way? Socrates chastises Meno for still wanting to learn how virtue is acquired before learning what virtue is. But he agrees to answer Meno through “hypotheses” about what things are taught and about what things are good. Here Socrates leads Meno to two opposed conclusions. First he argues, from the assumption that virtue is necessarily good, that it must be some kind of knowledge, and therefore something taught. But then he argues, from the observation that no one teaches virtue, that virtue is not after all something taught, and therefore would not be knowledge. This is where Anytus enters the discussion: while he too objects to professional teachers who claim to teach virtue for pay, he counters that any good gentleman can teach young men to be good in the normal course of life. But Anytus cannot explain why so many famous men fail to teach their virtue to their own sons. When Anytus withdraws, Socrates reminds Meno of the difference between knowledge and mere true belief, and he provisionally concludes that people act virtuously not by knowledge but by true belief, which they receive not by teaching but by some kind of “divine gift.” He warns again that we will never be sure of how virtue is acquired until we first know what virtue itself is.

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Virtue and Knowledge A crucial feature of this dialogue is that its subject — aret¯e — while obviously very important, remains elusive from beginning to end. Socrates denies knowing what it really is, and Meno’s claim to know it is refuted. As they try to define aret¯e, alleged examples range from political power to good taste and from justice to having lots of money. Eventually Socrates convinces Meno that the essence of aret¯e must be some kind of knowledge, but that conclusion wavers under the observation that what they’re looking for is not actually taught. So what sort of thing is this aret¯e ? Both the importance and the vagueness of the term is expressed in Socrates’ question to Anytus (91a): Meno has been telling me for some time, Anytus, that he desires the kind of wisdom and aret¯e by which people manage their households and cities well, and take care of their parents, and know how to receive and send off fellow-citizens and foreign guests as a good man should. To whom should we send him for this aret¯e ? For aret¯e, I use a traditional translation, “virtue.” The common alternative translation, “excellence,” reminds us that the term applies to all of the above and even to superior qualities in nonhuman things, like the speed of a good horse, the sharpness of a good knife, and the fertility of good farmland. But “virtue” too retains some of that broader sense in modern English, as when we debate the virtues of competing policies or plans. On the whole, “excellence” is too weak and abstract for the subject of our dialogue, which is something the ancient Greeks spent a lot of time worrying about. Intellectuals debated how to acquire it; politicians worked hard to speak persuasively about it; and Socrates himself considered it the most important thing in life. In our dialogue, Meno keeps thinking of aret¯e in terms of ruling others and acquiring honor or wealth, while Socrates keeps reminding him that aret¯e must include justice and moderation (73a, 73d, 78d), industriousness (81d, 86b) and self-control: “rule yourself,” he says, “so that you may be free” (86d). So we should read the opening lines of our dialogue as asking about “virtue” in the general sense of human goodness and human greatness — and remember that even today it is both the morally upright person and the person of power and influence whom we call great. — G.R.

Suggestions for Further Reading Benson, H. 1992. Essays on the Philosophy of Socrates. Oxford.

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Bluck, R. S. 1961. Plato’s Meno., Edited with Introduction and Commentary. Cambridge. Klein, Jacob. 1965. A Commentary on Plato’s Meno. University of North Carolina Press. Nehamas, A. “Meno’s Paradox and Socrates as Teacher.” In Benson 1992: 298–316. Nails, D. 2002. The People of Plato. Hackett Publishing. Scott, D. 2006. Plato’s Meno. Cambridge. Sharples, R. W. 1985. Plato: Meno. Aris and Phillips.

Meno Meno: Tell me if you can, Socrates: Is virtue something that’s taught? Or is it not taught, but trained? Or is it neither trained nor learned, but people get it by nature, or in some other way? Socrates: In the past, Meno, the people of Thessaly were famous and admired among Greeks for horsemanship and wealth. But now it seems they are admired for wisdom too — not least the fellow-citizens of your friend Aristippus in Larissa.1 And for this you can thank Gorgias.2 When he came to their city, he captured lovers of his wisdom from the leading Thessalians, including the Aleuads, like your lover Aristippus. Above all he has trained you to the habit of answering fearlessly and grandly whatever anyone asks, as would be expected from people with knowledge. For he too offers himself to any Greek, to ask whatever he wishes — and there’s no one at all he doesn’t answer. But here in Athens, my dear Meno, the opposite has come about, as if some drought of wisdom has occured, and it seems that wisdom has left our 1 Larissa was the chief town of aristocratic Thessaly, whose fertile plains lay north of the large democratic city of Athens. While Athens was the intellectual center of Greece, Thessaly had a reputation for lack of culture (see 71a, 97d). The Aleuads were the ruling family of Larissa, and had longstanding ties with Persia, even supporting Persia when she invaded Greece in 480. They had also been allies of Athens against Sparta in the meantime. Aristippus received mercenaries and money from Cyrus II of Persia to secretly maintain an army that, under Meno’s command in 401, supported Cyrus’ attempt to overthrow his brother Artaxerxes II. The story of the Greek mercenaries’ involvement in that failed campaign is told in Xenophon’s Anabasis; it occurred not long after the dramatic date of this dialogue. 2 Gorgias (ca. 480 – ca. 375) was a phenomenally influential orator from Sicily who gave rhetorical demonstrations and lessons throughout Greece, including Athens and Thessaly. Unlike other famous travelling teachers, he did not claim to teach virtue (see 95c). Meno’s opening challenge here is somewhat reminiscent of Gorgias’ antithetical style, and his first attempt to define virtue at 71e is like the opening lines of Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen (cf. also Aristotle, Politics 1260a24–36). In Plato’s Gorgias, Socrates debates the values of philosophy and rhetoric with Gorgias and two of his pupils.

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parts for yours. So if you wish to question anyone here like that, he’ll surely laugh and say, “Stranger, you must think me blessed, to know whether virtue is taught, or in what way it comes to be. But I’m so far from knowing whether it’s taught or not, that in fact I don’t even know what virtue itself is at all.” Well, I myself am like that, Meno. I share the poverty of my fellow citizens in this matter, and I reproach myself for not knowing about virtue at all. And if someone doesn’t know what it is, how could he know what sort of thing it is? Or do you think it’s possible for someone who doesn’t know at all who Meno is, to know whether he’s handsome or wealthy or of noble birth, or the opposites of these? Do you think that’s possible? Meno: No, I don’t. But do you, Socrates, really not know what virtue is? Is that what we should report back home about you? Socrates: Report not only that, my friend, but also that I’ve never met anyone else who knows, or so it seems to me. Meno: What? Didn’t you meet Gorgias when he was here? Socrates: I did. Meno: Well then, didn’t you think he knew? Socrates: I’m not very good at remembering,3 Meno, so I can’t say at present what I thought then. But perhaps he does know, and you know what he said. So remind me how he said it. Or if you like, tell me yourself what it is. I presume you agree with him about it. Meno: I do. Socrates: Then let’s dismiss him, since in fact he’s not here. But you yourself, by the gods, Meno, what do you say virtue is? Tell me and don’t begrudge it, so I can happily find, if you and Gorgias prove to know, that I’ve made a mistake in saying I’d never met anyone who knows. Meno: Well, it isn’t hard to say, Socrates. First, if you want the virtue of a man, it’s easy to say that a man’s virtue is this: to be capable of managing the city’s affairs, and in doing so to benefit friends and harm enemies, while taking care not to suffer the same himself. Or if you want the virtue of a woman, that isn’t hard to describe: she must manage the household well, taking care of its contents and being obedient to her husband. And the virtue of a child is something different, for a girl or for a boy, and it’s different for an old man, whether you mean a free one or a slave. And there are a great many other 3

Good at remembering translates mn¯em¯ on, which both sounds like “Meno” (Men¯ on) and was the nickname of Artaxerxes II of Persia, who either had Meno tortured and killed for supporting Cyrus against him (according to Xenophon), or spared Meno for betraying the other Greek commanders (according to Ctesias). Meno’s ability to remember is the subject of jokes in this dialogue, which have some resonance with Socrates’ suggestion at 81a ff. that genuine learning is a special kind of recollection.

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virtues, so there’s no want of resources for saying what virtue is: for each activity and stage of life, in relation to each person’s function, there is a virtue for each of us. And I’ll tell you, Socrates, it’s the same for vice, too. Socrates: What great luck I seem to be having, Meno: while looking for one virtue I’ve found a whole swarm of virtues here with you! But really, Meno, to follow this image of swarms, if I were asking you about the nature of the bee, and you said that they are many and various, what would you answer me if I said to you: “Are you saying that they are many and various and differ from each other in this respect, in being bees? Or are they no different in this respect, but in some other way, either in beauty or in size or in some other such way?” Tell me, what would you answer if you were questioned like that? Meno: That’s what I’d say, that they aren’t different from one another insofar as they are bees. Socrates: Then if I said after that: “So tell me this very thing, Meno, this respect in which they are not different but are all the same. What do you say this is?” I presume you would be able to tell me what it is? Meno: I could. Socrates: Then it’s the same with the virtues, too. Even if they are many and various, they all have some one form, the same one, by which they are all virtues. I think the answerer does well to focus on that, and so reveal to the questioner what virtue really is. Or don’t you understand what I’m saying? Meno: At least I think I understand. But I haven’t yet grasped what you’re asking as I’d like to. Socrates: Do you think that it’s only with virtue, Meno, that there’s one for a man, another for a woman, and the rest? Or do you think the same way about health and size and strength? Do you think health is one thing for a man, another for a woman? Or is its form the same everywhere, if indeed it is health, whether it’s in a man or in anything else at all? Meno: Health, anyway, seems to me to be the same for a man and a woman. Socrates: Then what about size and strength? If in fact a woman is strong, isn’t she strong by the same form and the same strength? By “the same” I mean this: Strength doesn’t differ in respect of being strength, whether it’s in a man or in a woman. Or do you think there’s a difference? Meno: No, I don’t think so. Socrates: And will virtue differ somehow in respect of being virtue, whether it’s in a child or an old person, whether in a woman or a man? Meno: Somehow, Socrates, this one seems to me no longer like the other cases.

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Socrates: What? Weren’t you saying that the virtue of a man is to manage the city well, and that of a woman is to do so with the household? Meno: I was. Socrates: Well, is it possible to manage a city well, or a household or anything at all, without managing it moderately and justly? Meno: Of course not. Socrates: So if in fact they manage it justly and moderately, they will manage it with justice and moderation? Meno: Necessarily. Socrates: Then both need the same things if they are going to be good, both the woman and the man, namely justice and moderation. Meno: It seems so. Socrates: And what about a child or an old man? Could they ever be good while being undisciplined and unjust? Meno: Of course not. Socrates: They would have to be moderate and just? Meno: Yes. Socrates: Then all people are good in the same way, for they become good by getting the same things. Meno: It seems so. Socrates: They wouldn’t be good in the same way, would they, if they didn’t have the same virtue? Meno: Of course not. Socrates: Since then virtue is the same for all, try to tell me, try to recall what Gorgias says it is, and you along with him. Meno: What else but being able to rule people, if you’re looking for some one thing in them all. Socrates: That is indeed what I’m looking for. But is virtue then the same for a child too, Meno, and for a slave, to be able to rule over a master? Do you think that the one who rules would still be a slave? Meno: I guess I don’t really think so, Socrates. Socrates: No, that isn’t likely, my good man. Consider this, too: You say “being able to rule.” Shouldn’t we add to that “justly, not unjustly”? Meno: I do believe so. For justice, Socrates, is virtue. Socrates: Virtue, Meno, or a virtue? Meno: What do you mean? Socrates: The same as with anything else. If you want an example, I would say about roundness that it is a shape, but not simply that it is shape. And I would say this because there are other shapes, too.

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Meno: You’re right to say so — for I too say that in addition to justice there are other virtues, too. Socrates: What are they? Tell me. I could tell you other shapes too, if you bid me. So you tell me other virtues. Meno: Well then, I think that courage is a virtue, and moderation, and wisdom and generosity, and a great many others . . . Socrates: The same thing has happened to us again, Meno. We’ve found many virtues again while looking for one, though in a different way from before. And the one that runs through them all we can’t find. Meno: No, I’m still not able to get hold of what you’re looking for, Socrates, one virtue in them all, as in the other cases. Socrates: That’s not surprising. But I’m eager to move us forward, if I can. I think you’ll understand that this is how it is with everything: If someone were to ask you what I was saying before, “What is shape, Meno?” and if you told him roundness, and then he said to you what I said, “Is roundness shape, or is it a shape?” — I presume you would say that it’s a shape. Meno: Definitely. Socrates: And that’s because there are other shapes, too? Meno: Yes. Socrates: And if he asked you further what sorts they are, you would tell him? Meno: I would. Socrates: And if again he were asking you what color is, and if, when you said white, the questioner replied “Is white color, or a color” — wouldn’t you say that it’s a color, because in fact there are others, too? Meno: I would. Socrates: And if he asked you to tell him other colors, wouldn’t you tell him others that are in fact colors no less than white is? Meno: Yes. Socrates: Then, if he were to press the argument as I did, and say: “We always end up with many, but don’t answer me that way. Rather, since you call these many things by some one name, and since you say that they are all shapes even though they’re also opposites of one another, tell me what is this very thing that applies no less to the round than the straight — the thing you call shape, saying that the straight is a shape no less than the round is.” Don’t you say that? Meno: I do. Socrates: Well then, when you speak like that, are you saying that the round is no more round than straight, or that the straight is no more straight than round?

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34 Meno: Of course not, Socrates. Socrates: But you do say that the round is no more a shape than the straight is, nor the other way around? Meno: That’s right. 75 Socrates: What then is this thing whose name is “shape”? Try to say. If you said to the one who was asking about shape or color, “But I don’t understand what you want, sir, nor do I know what you mean,” he might wonder and say, “Don’t you understand that I’m looking for what’s the same in all these cases?” Would you be unable to say even in these cases, if someone were to ask you “In the case of the round and the straight and the others that you call shapes, what is the same in them all?” Try to say, so you will have practice for your answer about virtue. b Meno: No, Socrates. You tell me. Socrates: You want me to indulge you with this? Meno: Yes, I do. Socrates: Will you then be willing to tell me about virtue? Meno: I will. Socrates: Then I must do my best. It’s worth it. Meno: It certainly is. Socrates: Come then, let’s try to tell you what shape is. Consider whether you would accept that it is this: Let us say that, of all things, shape is the only one that always accompanies color. Does that satisfy you, or are you looking c for some other way to define it? I myself would be glad if you would tell me about virtue even in this way. Meno: But that’s too simple, Socrates. Socrates: How do you mean? Meno: Shape, on your account, is what always accompanies color. Well, then, if someone were to say that he doesn’t know color, and that he’s just as perplexed and at a loss about that as about shape, what do you think you would answer him? Socrates: I’d tell him the truth. And if the questioner were one of those d clever, contentious debaters, I’d tell him: “That’s my answer, and if I haven’t given a good one, it’s your job to exact an account and refute it.” But if they are friends, as you and I are, and want to really discuss it with each other, they must answer in a way that’s gentler and more fit for a genuine discussion. And I think that a real discussion requires not only answering what’s true, but also answering in terms that the questioner agrees that he knows. So I e will try to answer you like that. Tell me, do you call something an “end” or “completion”? By this I mean a limit or an extremity — with all these I mean

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the same thing. Prodicus4 might disagree with us, but I suppose that you call something “finished” and “completed” — that’s the sort of thing I want to say, nothing fancy. Meno: Yes, I say that, and I think I understand what you mean. Socrates: What about this: Do you call something a plane, and again 76 something else a solid, as in discussions of geometry? Meno: I do. Socrates: Then you can now understand from all of this what I mean by shape. For I say, concerning every shape, that shape is that in which the solid reaches its limit or is completed. Taking it in that sense, I would say that shape is the limit of a solid.5 Meno: And what do you say color is, Socrates? Socrates: You are arrogant and disrespectful, Meno. You trouble an old man to answer your questions, but you yourself are not willing to recall and b tell me what Gorgias says virtue is. Meno: When you tell me this, Socrates, then I’ll tell you that. Socrates: Even blindfolded, a person would know from the way you discuss things, Meno, that you are good-looking and still have admirers. Meno: How so? Socrates: Because you do nothing but give orders when you talk, as spoiled people do, acting like tyrants so long as they have their youthful charm. Now perhaps you realize that I’m at a disadvantage with good-looking people. c So I’ll indulge you and answer. Meno: Yes, do indulge me. Socrates: Would you like me to answer in the manner of Gorgias, the way you would best follow? Meno: Of course I’d like that. Socrates: Well then, don’t you two speak of certain “effusions” from things, the way Empedocles6 does? 4 Prodicus of Ceos (ca. 470 – after 400) was the author of the famous Choice of Heracles, which allegorized the difficult path of virtue and the pleasant path of vice. Plato consistently portrays him as a sophist who specialized in the correct use of words; other ancient writers class him as a philosopher of nature. Socrates calls himself a student of Prodicus at 96e, and also in Plato’s Charmides (163d). 5 Shape is the limit of a solid is a definition informed by the geometry of Plato’s day. To illustrate: a cube is bounded on all sides by squares. In this sense, the square (the plane “shape”) is the limit of the cube (the solid). 6 Empedocles of Akragas in Sicily (ca. 492 – ca. 432) was sometimes said to be a teacher of Gorgias. He wrote on natural philosophy, of which this early theory of perception was a part. He also wrote about matters of religious purification and reincarnation, claiming to remember having lived as plant, animal, man and woman. Compare the initial dressing of

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Meno: Certainly. Socrates: And also of “pores” into which and through which the effusions make their way? Meno: Indeed. Socrates: And you say that some of the effusions fit some of the pores, while others are too small or too large? Meno: That’s right. Socrates: Well then, you call something “sight”? Meno: I do. Socrates: From all of this, then, “hear what I tell you” as Pindar says.7 Color is an effusion from shapes, commensurate with sight and by sight perceived. Meno: I think you have now given a most excellent answer, Socrates. Socrates: Maybe that’s because it was given in the way you’ve been accustomed. And at the same time I think you recognize that from this you could also say what sound is, and smell, and many other such things. Meno: Indeed. Socrates: In fact it is a theatrical answer, Meno, and that’s why it satisfies you more than the one about shape. Meno: It does. Socrates: But it’s not better, son of Alexidemus; I’m sure the other one was. And I think that you would agree, if you didn’t have to go away before the mysteries,8 but would stay and be initiated. Meno: I would stay, Socrates, if you would tell me many things like this. Socrates’ suggestion that learning is a kind of recollection at 81a ff. 7 Pindar (ca. 518 – after 446) was famous especially for his choral odes celebrating athletic victories, which were commissioned by aristocratic families all over the Greek world. He was an advocate of waning aristocratic traditions, and often expressed the belief that real virtue and knowledge are innate. His odes were also moralizing and cautionary, and steeped in traditional myth, as in the longer quotation from one of his poems at 81b–c. The present line is from a poem that requests a chariot for a friend from Hiero, the tyrant of Syracuse in Sicily. Socrates has been requesting a definition from Meno, and compared Meno’s behavior to that of tyrants at 76b. 8 The mysteries were religious rituals involving special initiation and promising a blessed life after death. Initiates were sworn to secrecy, but we know that the main Athenian version was celebrated with a sacred procession to a secret ceremony at Eleusis; that they were associated with myth about Demeter and Persephone, and with the seasons, fertility and rebirth (cf. 81b), and that they were open to all adults who speak Greek, even slaves (cf. 82a–b). Socrates is probably referring to the Lesser Mysteries in February, which were a prerequisite for celebrating the Greater Mysteries in September. Plato also uses religious initiation as a metaphor for philosophical study in the Gorgias (497c), Symposium (210a) and Phaedo (69b–d, 81a).

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Socrates: Well I’ll spare no eagerness in saying such things, both for your sake and for mine, though I fear I won’t be able to say much. But come now, you fulfill your promise to me and say what virtue as a whole is. Stop making many out of one, as jokers say whenever someone smashes something. Leave it whole and healthy, and say what virtue is. You’ve got your examples from me. Meno: It seems to me then, Socrates, that virtue is, as the poet says, “rejoicing in beautiful things and having power.”9 I say this is what virtue is, desiring beautiful things and having the power to acquire them. Socrates: This person desiring beautiful things — do you mean that he desires good things? Meno: Absolutely. Socrates: Are you thinking that there are some who desire bad things, and others who desire good things? Don’t you think, my good man, that everyone desires good things? Meno: No, I don’t. Socrates: Some people desire bad things? Meno: Yes. Socrates: Do you mean that they do so thinking that the bad things are good? Or do you mean that, even though they know that they are bad, they still desire them? Meno: I think there are both kinds. Socrates: So then you think, Meno, that someone who knows that bad things are bad, nevertheless desires them. Meno: Absolutely. Socrates: What do you mean by “desires”? Desires to acquire them? Meno: Yes, to acquire them. What else? Socrates: While believing that bad things benefit the person who acquires them? Or while knowing that bad things harm the person they come to? Meno: There are those who think bad things benefit them, and there are those who know that they harm them. Socrates: And the ones who think that bad things benefit them — do you really think they know that the bad things are bad? Meno: I guess I don’t really think that. Socrates: Then clearly it isn’t bad things that these people desire, the ones who don’t know that they are bad. Rather, they desire what they believe are good, though they are in fact bad. So, since they don’t understand them 9

The poet who composed these lines has not been identified with confidence. Some have suggested Simonides (ca. 556–468), a highly respected poet who left Thessaly for Athens when his Thessalian patrons sided with the Persians against Greece in 480. He was later also credited with inventing the “art of memory” of the kind taught by some sophists.

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and think that they’re good, clearly it’s good things that they desire. Isn’t that right? Meno: That’s likely, for this group at least. Socrates: Well, what about the ones who, according to you, desire bad things, and do so while believing that bad things harm the person who acquires them — I presume they know that they will be harmed by them? Meno: They must. Socrates: And don’t these people think that those who are harmed suffer to the extent that they’re harmed? Meno: That’s necessary, too. Socrates: And that those who suffer are unhappy? Meno: I think so. Socrates: Is there anyone who wants to suffer and be unhappy? Meno: I don’t think so, Socrates. Socrates: Then no one desires bad things, Meno, if no one desires to be like that. What else is it to suffer, other than to desire bad things and acquire them? Meno: I guess you’re right, Socrates, and no one desires bad things. Socrates: So then, were you saying just now that virtue is desiring good things and having power? Meno: That’s what I said. Socrates: Well, that being said, the desiring is present in everyone, and in that way one person is no better than another? Meno: So it seems. Socrates: Clearly then, if someone is in fact better than another, he will be superior in having power. Meno: Definitely. Socrates: Then according to what you’re saying, it seems that virtue is this: the power to acquire good things. Meno: Exactly, Socrates. I think it’s just the way you’re taking it now. Socrates: Then let’s see whether even in this you’re saying something true. You might be right. You’re saying that being able to acquire good things is virtue. Meno: I am. Socrates: And aren’t health and wealth the sort of things you call good? Meno: And acquiring gold and silver, and honors and positions of power in your city. Socrates: Among good things you don’t include anything other than things like that? Meno: No, but I do call good all things like that.

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Socrates: Well, then, virtue is acquiring gold and silver — so says Meno, family friend and privileged guest of the Great King.10 Now Meno: to this acquiring, will you add that it be justly and piously, or does it make no difference to you? Even if someone acquires them unjustly, do you nevertheless call acquiring them virtue? Meno: Certainly not, Socrates. Socrates: You’d call it vice? Meno: Yes, certainly. Socrates: Then it seems that along with this acquiring there must be justice, or moderation or piety, or some other part of virtue. If not, it won’t be e virtue, even though it’s “acquiring good things.” Meno: No. How could it be virtue without those? Socrates: And not acquiring gold and silver for oneself or for another, whenever it wouldn’t be just — isn’t this also virtue, this loss or lacking? Meno: It seems so. Socrates: Then acquiring good things like that wouldn’t be virtue any more than lacking them would. Rather, it seems that whatever comes about with justice is virtue, and whatever comes about without any such thing is 79 vice. Meno: I think it must be as you say. Socrates: Didn’t we say a little while ago that each of these is a part of virtue — justice and moderation and all such things? Meno: Yes. Socrates: Are you playing with me, Meno? Meno: How, Socrates? Socrates: I’ve just now asked you not to break or chop up virtue, and I’ve given you examples of the way you should answer, but you neglect that practice and you tell me that virtue is being able to acquire good things with b justice. But don’t you say that justice is a part of virtue? Meno: I do. Socrates: So it turns out, according to what you yourself agree to, that virtue is doing whatever one does with a part of virtue — for you say that justice and each of those things is a part of virtue. Meno: So what? Socrates: What I’m saying is this: I asked you to say what virtue is as a whole, but far from telling me what it is, you say that every action is virtue 10

The Great King is the king of Persia, who at this time was Artaxerxes II. Meno’s family in Thessaly probably began a close connection with the Persian royal family by supporting King Xerxes’ invasion in 480. Meno will soon lead a military campaign in support of a coup by Artaxerxes’ brother Cyrus. Cf. p. 29 n. 1, and p. 30 n. 3.

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if it is done with a part of virtue — as if you had already said what virtue is as a whole and so I would already know it, even if you break it up into parts. So it seems to me you must answer the same question again from the beginning, dear Meno: What is virtue, if every action, together with a part of virtue, would be virtue? For that’s what it means when someone says that every action done with justice is virtue. Or don’t you think the same question is called for again? Do you think that someone knows what a part of virtue is, when he doesn’t know what virtue itself is? Meno: No, I don’t. Socrates: If you remember, when I recently answered you about shape, we rejected the sort of answer that tries to answer in terms of things that are still a subject of inquiry and not yet agreed upon. Meno: And we were right to reject it, Socrates. Socrates: Then do not think, my good man, while virtue as a whole is still the subject of inquiry, that you are making virtue itself clear to anyone by answering in terms of its parts. Don’t think that you’ll make anything clear by answering this way. Rather, accept that the same question still needs answering: What is virtue, such that you’re saying what you say about it? Or do you think I don’t have a point? Meno: No, I think that what you say is right. Socrates: Answer then again from the beginning: What do you say virtue is — you and your friend, that is? Meno: Socrates, before I met you I used to hear that you are always perplexed and at a loss yourself, and you cause others to be at a loss, too. And now, it seems to me, you’re bewitching me, drugging me and putting me under a spell, so that I’ve become full of this lacking. In fact, if a joke is in order, you seem to me in every way, looks and otherwise, very much like the flat stingray in the sea. When anyone gets close and touches it, it makes them numb, and it seems you have now made me experience the same sort of thing. Truly my mind and my mouth are numb, and I have no way to answer you. Yet I have given many speeches about virtue, thousands of times, before large crowds, and very well, or so I thought. But now I can’t even say what it is at all. I think you show good judgment not to sail from Athens and spend time abroad, for if you were to behave like this as a foreigner in another city, you might well be arrested as a sorcerer. Socrates: You’re a scoundrel, Meno. You almost tricked me. Meno: How exactly, Socrates? Socrates: I know why you made that likeness of me. Meno: Why do you think I did it?

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Socrates: So that I would respond with a likeness of you. I know that all good-looking people enjoy having their likeness drawn — it’s to their advantage, as images of beautiful people are beautiful. But I won’t return the comparison. As for me, if the stingray makes others numb only by being numb itself, then I’m like it, but otherwise I’m not. For I’m not free of perplexity myself when I cause others to be at a loss, but I myself am more aware of my lacking than anyone, and that’s how I make others perplexed, too. That’s how it is about virtue now: I don’t know what it is, and maybe you knew before you came into contact with me, but now you’re like someone who doesn’t know. Nevertheless, I want to examine it with you and inquire together what it is. Meno: But in what way will you look for it, Socrates, this thing that you don’t know at all what it is? What sort of thing, among the things you don’t know, will you propose to look for? Or even if you should meet right up against it, how will you know that this is the thing you didn’t know? Socrates: I understand what you want to say, Meno. Do you see what a contentious debater’s argument you’re bringing up — that it seems impossible for a person to seek either what he knows or what he doesn’t know? He couldn’t seek what he knows, because he knows it, and there is no need for him to seek it. Nor could he seek what he doesn’t know, because he doesn’t know what to look for. Meno: Don’t you think this argument is well put, Socrates? Socrates: No, I don’t. Meno: Can you say in what way it goes wrong? Socrates: I can. For I have heard wise men and women speak of divine matters . . . Meno: What did they say? Socrates: Something true, it seems to me, and beautiful. Meno: What? And who said it? Socrates: The speakers are certain priests and priestesses who have made it their concern to be able to give an account of their practices. Pindar says it, too, and many others of the poets who are divine. What they say goes like this: see whether you think it’s true. They claim that the human soul is immortal, that sometimes it comes to an end, which people call dying, and sometimes it is born again, but it is never destroyed. That’s why one must live one’s life as piously as possible, for:11 Persephone accepts from these return for ancient grief, And in the ninth year sends their souls 11

These lines are probably quoted from one of Pindar’s lost Thr¯enoi or funeral songs.

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back to the sun above, From whom grow noble kings, the swift strong men of wisdom great, Whom we call holy heroes for throughout the rest of time.

So since the soul is immortal and has been born many times, and has seen things here and in Hades — everything in fact — there is nothing that it has not learned. So it’s no wonder that, concerning virtue or other things, the soul d can be reminded of what it already knew before. Since all nature is akin, and the soul has learned all things, nothing prevents someone who has recollected just one thing — what people call learning — from discovering all the rest, so long as he is brave and doesn’t tire of the search. For inquiry and learning as a whole is recollection. So we should not be persuaded by that debater’s argument, for it would make us lazy, and the people who like to hear it are e weak. But this one makes us hard-working and inquisitive. Trusting that this is true, I want to inquire along with you what virtue is. Meno: Yes, Socrates — but what do you mean by this? That we don’t learn, but what we call learning is recollection? Can you teach me that this is so? 82 Socrates: Wasn’t I just saying that you’re a scoundrel, Meno? And now you ask me if I can teach you, when I say there’s no teaching but recollection — so that right away I’ll be shown to contradict myself. Meno: No, by Zeus, Socrates, that wasn’t what I was aiming at; it was just a habit. But if you can somehow show me that things are as you say, do show me. Socrates: That won’t be easy, but still I’m willing to do what I can, for b your sake. Call for me one of your many attendants here,12 whichever one you like, so I can demonstrate it for you in his case. Meno: Certainly. Come here, you. Socrates: Is he Greek? He speaks Greek? Meno: Definitely. He was born at our estate. 12 The many attendants indicates Meno had some slaves with him. Slavery was common throughout ancient Greece, especially in Athens. Perhaps a third of the population around Athens at this time were slaves: they served individual families, in industry, and even as public officials. A regular source of slaves was capture during war; others were born into slavery, as with Meno’s slave here. A commonly expressed ideal, by no means always honored, was that Greeks should not enslave Greeks, but that non-Greeks (“barbarians”) were naturally suited to be their slaves. After the geometry lesson with Meno’s slave, Socrates will imply that Meno himself is a sort of slave (86d), which suits the fact that the slave is used in part as a stand-in for Meno himself (cf. 84a and 80b).

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“And these lines here through the middle, aren’t they also equal?”

Socrates: Pay attention, then, whether he seems to you to be recollecting or to be learning from me. Meno: I’ll pay attention. Socrates: Tell me, boy, do you know that a square figure is like this? Slave: I do. Socrates: So a square figure is something that has these lines equal, all four of them? Slave: Definitely. Socrates: And these lines here through the middle, aren’t they also equal? Slave: Yes. Socrates: Now a figure like this could be larger or smaller? Slave: Definitely. Socrates: If then this side were two feet and this side two, how many square feet would the whole figure be? Consider it this way: if it were two feet in this direction but only one foot in this direction, wouldn’t the figure be two feet times one? Slave: Yes. Socrates: But since it’s also two feet in this direction, isn’t it two times two? Slave: It is. Socrates: It’s twice two feet, then? Slave: Yes. Socrates: How many feet are twice two? Think it through and tell me. Slave: Four, Socrates. Socrates: Could there be another figure that’s the double of this one, but of the same kind, having all its lines equal like this one? Slave: Yes. Socrates: How many square feet will it be? Slave: Eight. Socrates: Come now, try to tell me how long each side of it will be. The

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side of this one is two feet; what about the side of the square twice as big?13 Slave: Clearly, Socrates, it will be twice as long. Socrates: Do you see, Meno, that I’m not teaching him anything, but everything I say is a question? And now, don’t you agree, he thinks he knows on how long a line the square of eight square feet is based? Meno: I agree. Socrates: But does he know? Meno: Of course not. Socrates: He thinks it’s on a side that’s twice as long? Meno: Yes. Socrates: Now watch him recollecting step by step, as one must recollect. Tell me, boy: You say that the double square is based on the double side? I mean a figure like this one, not long on one side and short on the other, but equal in all directions like this one here, yet double this one, being eight square feet. See whether you still think it will be based on a side twice as long. Slave: I do. Socrates: Now this line becomes double if we add to it another of the same length from here? Slave: Definitely. Socrates: And it’s from this line, you say, that the square of eight square feet will be based, if there are four lines of the same length? Slave: Yes. Socrates: Let us then construct four equal lines from here. This would be what you’re calling the eight-foot square, right?14 Slave: Definitely. Socrates: But in this figure there are four squares, each of which is equal to this original four-foot square? Slave: Yes. Socrates: So how big is it? Isn’t it four times as big? Slave: It has to be. Socrates: So is this the double, this square that’s four times as big? 13

Doubling the square is a geometrical problem that turns on the fact that the side of a square is incommensurable with the side of its double (that is, they cannot both be measured with the same units). Socrates helps the slave first to experience this incommensurability, and then to recognize that the square’s double is in fact based on its diagonal. This is closely related to what we call the “Pythagorean theorem,” named after the semi-legendary Pythagoras (ca. 570 – 490), who was thought to have founded an early tradition of mathematical studies. He also claimed to have been reincarnated many times, and to remember his previous lives; cf. the initial version of the notion that learning is recollection at 81a ff., and p. 35 n. 6. 14 The eight-foot square here is the square whose area is eight square feet. The same Greek term was used for both feet and square feet.

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“Let us then construct four equal lines from here.”

Slave: By Zeus, it’s not! Socrates: How many multiples is it? Slave: Quadruple. Socrates: So, boy, from the side that’s double we get not the double-square but the quadruple-square. Slave: You’re right. Socrates: And four times four feet is sixteen feet, isn’t it? Slave: Yes. Socrates: On how long a line is the eight-foot square based? The one on this line is four times as big, isn’t it? Slave: I agree. Socrates: And we have this quarter-sized square here on this half-sized line here? Slave: Yes. Socrates: Well then, isn’t the eight-foot square double this one, and half of this one? Slave: Yes. Socrates: So won’t it be based on a side that’s greater than a line this long, and less than one this long? Won’t it? Slave: I think so. Socrates: Good: answer what you think is true. Now tell me, wasn’t this line four feet long, and this one two feet long? Slave: Yes. Socrates: Then the side of the eight-foot square must be greater than this two-foot line, and less than the four-foot line. Slave: It must be. Socrates: Try then to tell me how long you say it is. Slave: Three feet.

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“. . . we will add the half of this line, and it will be three feet?”

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Socrates: Then if it is three feet, we will add the half of this line, and it will be three feet? For these are two, and this is one. And similarly from here, these are two and this is one. Now this is the figure you were suggesting? Slave: Yes. Socrates: Now then, if it is three feet in this direction and three feet in this direction, won’t the whole figure be three times three feet? Slave: So it seems. Socrates: How many feet are three times three? Slave: Nine. Socrates: And how many were needed for the double of our original square? Slave: Eight. Socrates: So we don’t after all get the eight-foot square from the three-foot side, either. Slave: Clearly not. Socrates: But from which line? Try to tell us exactly. And if you don’t want to calculate the number, show me from which line. Slave: By Zeus, Socrates, I don’t know. Socrates: Do you recognize, Meno, where he is now, as he makes his way in recollecting? As at first he didn’t know what is the base of the eight-foot square, so now he still doesn’t know. But then he thought he knew, and answered with confidence as if he knew, and didn’t think himself lacking. But now he does think he’s lacking and, just as he doesn’t know, neither does he think he knows. Meno: What you’re saying is true. Socrates: So now he’s in a better condition concerning the thing he doesn’t know?

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Meno: That seems right to me, too. Socrates: By making him be at a loss in this way, and making him numb as the stingray does, have we done him any harm? Meno: I don’t think so. Socrates: In fact, we have done something useful for discovering the way things are. For now, being aware that he doesn’t know, he would be glad to inquire, whereas previously he thought he could easily speak often and well before large crowds about doubling the square, saying that it must have a base twice as long. Meno: That’s likely! Socrates: Do you think that he would have tried before to inquire and learn what he thought he knew, but didn’t know — before, recognizing that he didn’t know, he fell into a state of perplexed lacking and desired to know? Meno: I don’t think so, Socrates. Socrates: He has benefitted, then, by becoming numb in this way? Meno: I think so. Socrates: Examine then what he will discover while inquiring along with me, starting from this wanting and perplexity, while I do nothing but ask questions and don’t teach. Be on guard whether you find me teaching and explaining things to him, and not just asking his beliefs. You tell me, boy: Isn’t this figure our original four-foot square? You understand? Slave: I do. Socrates: And we could add to it this other one, equal in size? Slave: Yes. Socrates: And this third one, equal to both of them? Slave: Yes. Socrates: Then we could fill it out by adding this one in the corner? Slave: Definitely. Socrates: So now these are four equal figures here? Slave: Yes. Socrates: Well then, the whole figure is how many times as big as this one? Slave: Four times as big. Socrates: But what we needed was one twice as large. You remember? Slave: Definitely. Socrates: Now then, doesn’t this line from corner to corner cut each of these figures in two? Slave: Yes. Socrates: So these are four equal lines, enclosing this central figure here? Slave: They are.

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“So these are four equal lines, enclosing this central figure here?”

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Socrates: Consider then: How large is this central square? Slave: I don’t understand. Socrates: Isn’t half of each of these four squares cut off by each of these lines? Isn’t it? Slave: Yes. Socrates: How many, then, of those halves are in this central square? Slave: Four. Socrates: And how many in the original square? Slave: Two. Socrates: What are four in relation to two? Slave: Double. Socrates: So how many square feet are in this central square? Slave: Eight. Socrates: Based on what line? Slave: This one. Socrates: You mean the line stretching from corner to corner of the original four-foot square? Slave: Yes. Socrates: Men who claim to know these things call this line the diagonal, so if diagonal is its name, the double figure would be based on the diagonal — so says Meno’s slave. Slave: Definitely so, Socrates. Socrates: What do you think, Meno? Has he answered with any beliefs that were not his own?

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Meno: No, they were his own. Socrates: And yet, he didn’t know, as we were saying not long ago. Meno: That’s true. Socrates: But these beliefs were in him, weren’t they? Meno: Yes. Socrates: So then, the person who doesn’t have knowledge, whatever it is he might not know, has within him true beliefs about these things that he doesn’t know? Meno: It appears so. Socrates: Right now, these beliefs have been stirred up in him, as if in a dream. But know that if someone asks him these same things many times in many ways, he will end up knowing about them as precisely as anyone. Meno: That’s likely. Socrates: So without anyone teaching him, just someone asking questions, he will come to know by recovering the knowledge from himself? Meno: Yes. Socrates: And isn’t recovering knowledge within oneself recollecting? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: Well now, this knowledge that he now has — isn’t it true that he either got it at some time or he always had it? Meno: Yes. Socrates: Well if he always had it, then he always knew. But if he did get it at some point, he would not have got it in this life — or has someone taught him geometry? For he will accomplish the same things with all geometry, and all other kinds of learning. Is there someone who has taught him everything? You would be the one to know, especially since he was born and raised at your estate. Meno: I do know that no one has ever taught him. Socrates: And does he have these beliefs, or not? Meno: It must be so, Socrates. It appears so. Socrates: But if he has them without having got them in this life, isn’t it clear then that he had them and had learned them in some other time? Meno: It appears so. Socrates: That time would be when he wasn’t a human being? Meno: Yes. Socrates: If then, during the time when he exists but isn’t a human being, he has true beliefs that become knowledge when aroused by questioning, won’t his soul for all time be in a state of having learned? For clearly, during all time he either is or isn’t a human being. Meno: It appears so.

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Socrates: So if the truth about reality is always in the soul, the soul would be immortal, so that we should try with confidence to inquire and recollect what we find we don’t now know — that is, what we don’t remember. Meno: You seem to me to be speaking well, Socrates, though I don’t know how. Socrates: I seem that way to myself, too, Meno. On behalf of the rest of the theory, I wouldn’t much insist. But we’ll be better men, more brave and less lazy, if we believe that we must search for the things we don’t know, rather than if we believe that it’s not possible to find out what we don’t know, and that we must not search for it — this I would fight for very much, so long as I’m able, both in theory and in practice. Meno: I think you’ve put that point very well, too, Socrates. Socrates: If you like, then, since we agree that one should search for what one doesn’t know, let us try to inquire in common what virtue is. Meno: Of course — or rather, Socrates, I’d most like to consider what I was asking at first, and hear whether one should approach it as something that’s taught, or as something that’s present by nature, or in what way virtue comes to be among people. Socrates: If I ruled you, Meno, in addition to myself, we wouldn’t examine whether virtue is something taught or not before we first inquired what it is itself. But since you don’t even try to rule yourself so that you may be free, but you try to rule me, and you do rule me, I will concede to you. What else could I do? So it seems we must examine what sort of thing it is when we don’t yet know what it is. Now if you won’t let me do it my way, at least relax your rule for me a little bit and agree to examine whether it is taught or otherwise acquired by way of a hypothesis. By “examining by way of a hypothesis,” I mean the way geometricians often examine things. For example, when someone asks them about a certain figure or area, whether for example it can be inscribed in a certain circle as a triangle, one of them might say “I don’t yet know if this figure is like that, but I think I have a sort of hypothesis that’s useful to the problem. It’s this: If this figure is such that, when applied to its given line, it falls short by an area like the applied area itself, one thing seems to me to follow, and something else follows if this can’t be done. So I am willing to tell you on this hypothesis whether it is possible or not to inscribe it in the circle.”15 15

This is by far the most difficult of the dialogue’s three examples from geometry, a series of increasingly technical issues in the determination of shapes and sizes (see p. 35 n. 5 and p. 44 n. 13). Historians of mathematics have produced many interpretations of this third example; Plato may not intend it to be easily understood. But it could well be a version

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So let us make our inquiry about virtue in this way too, since we don’t know either what it is or what sort of thing it is. And let us examine whether it is taught or not taught by making a hypothesis, like this: Among things of the soul, what must virtue be, if it is to be something that’s taught, or not taught? To begin with, if it is something other than knowledge, would it be something taught or not? — or as we were just saying, something “recollected.” Let it make no difference to us which name we use, but would it then be something c that’s taught? Or isn’t this clear to everyone, that people are taught nothing but knowledge? Meno: I think so. Socrates: And if virtue is a kind of knowledge, clearly it would be something that’s taught. Meno: It must be. Socrates: Then we’ve disposed of that quickly — that if it is of one kind it is taught, and of another kind, not taught. Meno: Definitely. Socrates: Next, it seems, we must examine whether virtue is knowledge or something other than knowledge. Meno: That does seem to be the next point to examine. d Socrates: What about this: Don’t we always say that virtue is a good thing? Will this hypothesis stay firm for us, that it is something good? Meno: Of course. Socrates: So if something else apart from knowledge is also a good thing, then virtue might not be a kind of knowledge. But if nothing beyond the compass of knowledge is good, we would be right to suspect that it pertains to knowledge. Meno: That’s right. Socrates: Now, it is by virtue that we are good? e Meno: Yes. Socrates: And if we are good, we are beneficial? For everything good is beneficial, isn’t it? Meno: Yes. of “quadrature” or “squaring the circle,” i.e. constructing the square whose area is equal to that of a given circle. This was a cutting-edge puzzle in Socrates’ day. Like the geometry lesson with the slave above (82b ff.), its difficulty concerns incommensurability — in this case, the incommensurability of the circle’s circumference and diameter, whose ratio is the irrational number π. More than two thousand years later, German mathematician Carl Louis Ferdinand von Lindemann (1852–1939) would finally prove that π is not just irrational but “transcendental”; it follows that quadrature is literally impossible with these “compass and ruler” methods.

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Socrates: So virtue, too, is something beneficial. Meno: That follows necessarily from what we’ve agreed. Socrates: Let’s examine then what are the sorts of things that benefit us, taking them up one by one. Health, we say, and strength and beauty, and certainly wealth. We say that these things and things like them are beneficial, don’t we? Meno: Yes. Socrates: But we say that these same things sometimes also do harm. Do you disagree with that, or do you agree? Meno: No, I agree. Socrates: Consider, then: Each of these things benefits us when it’s ruled or directed by what? And they harm us when directed by what? Don’t they benefit us whenever they’re directed by right use, and harm us whenever they’re not? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: Let us examine further now matters of the soul. There is something you call moderation, and justice, and courage, and learning ability and memory and magnanimity and all such things? Meno: There are. Socrates: Consider then any of these that you think is not knowledge but something other than knowledge: doesn’t it sometimes harm us, and sometimes benefit us? Take courage for example, if the courage isn’t wisdom but like a kind of boldness. Isn’t it true that whenever a person gets bold without understanding, he is harmed, but whenever he does so with understanding, he is benefitted? Meno: Yes. Socrates: Similarly with moderation and ability to learn: they are beneficial with understanding, when they are properly learned and trained, but without it they are harmful. Meno: Very much so. Socrates: In sum, then, everything the soul attempts or endures, when ruled or directed by wisdom, ends in happiness, and if directed by foolishness, ends in the opposite. Meno: So it seems. Socrates: If then virtue is something in the soul, and if it is necessarily beneficial, it must be wisdom — if indeed nothing in the soul is in itself beneficial or harmful, but it becomes harmful or beneficial when it comes with wisdom or foolishness. According to this argument, if virtue is beneficial, it must be a kind of wisdom. Meno: I think so.

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Socrates: And indeed those other things we were just talking about, wealth and other things like that, which also are sometimes good and sometimes harmful — isn’t it true that, as the rest of the soul is made beneficial when wisdom rules, but harmful when foolishness rules, so in turn the soul makes these things beneficial by directing and using them rightly, or harmful by not using them rightly? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: It’s the wise soul that rules rightly, and the foolish soul that rules mistakenly? Meno: That’s right. Socrates: So we can say it all like this: For a human being, all other things depend upon the soul, and those of the soul itself depend upon wisdom, if they are going to be good. By this argument, wisdom would be what’s beneficial. And don’t we say that virtue is something beneficial? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: Therefore we say that virtue is wisdom, either in whole or in part. Meno: I think that what you’re saying is well said, Socrates. Socrates: So if that’s how it is, good people would not be so by nature. Meno: I don’t think so. Socrates: For if they were, I suppose this too would be true: If good people came about by nature, I suppose we would have people who knew which of our young were good in their natures, and we would take the ones they pointed out and guard them in the Acropolis, sealing them up much more carefully than gold, so no one would corrupt them, and when they came of age they would be useful to their cities. Meno: That’s likely, isn’t it, Socrates. Socrates: So then since good people don’t come to be good by nature, do they learn to be good? Meno: Now I think that must be true. And according to the hypothesis, Socrates, if in fact virtue is knowledge, clearly it is something that’s taught. Socrates: By Zeus, it may be so. But possibly that is something we weren’t right to agree to. Meno: But it seemed to be right not long ago! Socrates: But don’t you think that it should seem to be right, not only then, but also now and in the future, if it’s going to be something sound? Meno: What about it? What bothers you about it and makes you doubt that virtue is knowledge? Socrates: I’ll tell you, Meno. I’m not taking back and denying that if it is knowledge it is something that’s taught. But consider whether you think I’m

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being reasonable in doubting that it is knowledge. Tell me this: If anything at all, not just virtue, is something that’s taught, wouldn’t there have to be teachers and learners of it? Meno: I think so. Socrates: And by the same token, if there are not teachers or learners of something, wouldn’t we be right to suppose that it isn’t something that’s taught? Meno: Yes, but don’t you think there are teachers of virtue? Socrates: Well, I have often inquired whether there are any teachers of it, and I’ve done everything I can, but I’m not able to find any — even though I’ve searched with many people, especially the ones I’ve thought most experienced in the matter. But look now, Meno, what a good time for Anytus16 here to sit down and join us. It seems quite appropriate for us to share our inquiry with him: For one thing, Anytus here is the son of the wise and wealthy Anthemion, who became wealthy not by accident or gift, as Ismenias the Theban just recently got the wealth of Polycrates,17 but by his own skill and hard work. Anthemion seems not to have been an arrogant citizen, not boastful and offensive but a man of good manners and behavior, and he raised and educated Anytus well. Or so think the majority of Athenians: they have elected him to the highest offices. So it is right to inquire with a man like this whether there are teachers of virtue or not, and who they are. So Anytus, do join me and Meno here, your friend and special guest, to inquire who may be the teachers of this subject. Consider it this way: If we wanted Meno here to become a good doctor, to whom would we send him for teachers? Wouldn’t it be to the doctors? Anytus: Definitely. Socrates: And what if we wanted him to become a good shoemaker? Wouldn’t we send him to the shoemakers? Anytus: Yes. Socrates: And we’d do the same for the other skills? Anytus: Definitely. 16

Anytus is discussed in the Introduction. Of his father Anthemion, we know only what is stated here. 17 Ismenias came to power in Thebes about the same time that Sparta defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian War, about two years before this dialogue would have taken place. He may have done so with funds donated by Athenians who hoped for Thebes’ help against the impending Spartan-supported oligarchy. Prominent among those Athenian donors may have been the sophist Polycrates, who later, about 390, would author a fictitious “Accusation of Socrates” written as if delivered by Anytus. Alternatively, “the wealth of Polycrates” here might have been proverbial for great riches, because of the famous sixth century tyrant of Samos of that name.

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Socrates: Then tell me again about the same subject like this: We say that we would be right to send him to doctors if we want him to become a doctor. When we say this, aren’t we saying that the sensible thing is to send him to those who claim to practice the craft rather than to those who don’t, and to those who make money doing it, professing to be teachers of those who want to come and learn? Isn’t that what we should be thinking of when we send him? Anytus: Yes. Socrates: And couldn’t one say these same things about flute-playing and the rest? It’s very foolish, if we want to make someone a flute-player, to refuse to send him to those who promise to teach the craft and make money for it, but to make trouble by sending him to others who claim neither to be teachers nor to have any students of the subject that we want him to learn from them. Don’t you think that’s quite unreasonable? Anytus: I do, by Zeus. In fact it’s stupid. Socrates: You’re right. But now you can help me deliberate about your guest Meno here. He has been telling me for some time, Anytus, that he desires the kind of wisdom and virtue by which people manage their households and cities well, and take care of their parents, and know how to receive and send off fellow-citizens and foreign guests as a good man should. To whom should we send him for this virtue? Or isn’t it clear, from what we’ve been saying, that we should send him to those who promise to teach virtue, who make themselves available to any Greek who wishes to learn, and who set a fee and make money for it? Anytus: And whom do you mean by that, Socrates? Socrates: I presume you know yourself that they’re the people men call sophists.18 Anytus: By Hercules, Socrates, don’t say things like that. May no such madness make any friend of mine go and get ruined by them — friend or 18

The sophists were a new kind of teacher in the middle of the fifth century, travelling throughout Greece and especially active in Athens, offering an early form of higher education for large fees. All taught some version of rhetoric or oratory, which was valued especially in cities like Athens with democratic assemblies and courts of law. They also variously taught subjects in ethics, literature, history, mathematics, or natural science. Major figures in this broad “sophistic movement” included Protagoras, Gorgias and Prodicus. Plato portrays or discusses many prominent sophists in his dialogues and takes pains to distinguish Socrates from them. In The Clouds, Aristophanes portrays Socrates as typical of the whole movement, which he and others thought dangerous. (Sometimes sophist¯es retains its older, more general sense of someone with special knowledge, as in the “men who claim to know” geometry at 85b.)

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family, Athenian or foreigner. Clearly they are the ruin and corruption of those who associate with them. Socrates: What do you mean, Anytus? Of all the people who claim to know how to provide some service, are these men alone so different from the others that they not only fail to benefit what one entrusts to them, but they even do the opposite, corrupt it? And for this they claim to deserve money? I don’t know how I can believe you. For I know one man, Protagoras,19 who acquired more money from this profession than Phidias,20 who produced such famously fine works, and ten other sculptors besides. What you’re saying is incredible. Men who work on old shoes or mend clothes wouldn’t get away with it for a month if they returned the clothes or shoes in worse condition than when they received them, and they would soon die of hunger if they worked like that — yet for forty years the whole of Greece has not discovered that Protagoras corrupts his students and sends them back more wicked than when he received them? I think he was in fact almost seventy years old when he died, and had been at his profession for forty, and in all this time, right down to this very day, he has not ceased to have a good reputation. And it’s not just Protagoras, but very many others too, some born before him and others still alive. Should we say, in accordance with your pronouncement, that they knowingly deceive and ruin the young, or that they are unaware of it themselves? Shall we judge them so mad, these men whom some call the wisest of men? Anytus: They are far from being mad, Socrates. Much more mad are the young men who give them their money, still more their relations who allow them to do it — and most of all the cities who allow them in and do not drive out any foreigner or Athenian who who tries to behave like that. Socrates: Anytus! Has one of these sophists done you wrong? Why are you so hard on them? 19

Protagoras of Abdera (ca. 485 – ca. 415) was a close associate of Pericles in Athens, and the first professional teacher to call himself a sophist. Unlike Gorgias and Socrates, he claimed to teach virtue and good judgment about personal and public affairs. He also taught the correct use of words, and the ability to give opposed speeches on any subject. He was famous for religious agnosticism and the claim that “man is the measure of all things,” which Socrates interprets as a radical relativism in Plato’s Theaetetus. But in the Protagoras, Plato has Protagoras explain good moral education and defend democratic assemblies. Some later authors, contradicting this passage in the Meno, report that Protagoras was (somewhat like Socrates) tried and convicted in Athens of impiety. 20 Phidias (ca. 490 – ca. 425) was the versatile Athenian artist whose sculptures included the massive gold-and-ivory cult statues of Athena at Athens and Zeus at Olympia. His works became paradigms of Classical sculpture, and his Zeus was one of the “wonders of the ancient world.” According to Plutarch, he had charge of Pericles’ entire building project in Athens, and was prosecuted by Pericles’ enemies for embezzlement and impiety.

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Anytus: By Zeus, no! I have never associated with any of them. Nor would I allow any of my people to do so. Socrates: So you have no experience of these men at all? Anytus: No — and let it stay that way. Socrates: You’re a very special man. How could you know whether there is any good or bad in their business, if you are completely without experience of it? Anytus: Easily. I know who they are, whether I have experience of them or not. Socrates: Perhaps you are a diviner, Anytus. For according to what you say yourself, I wonder how else you could know about these things. But we weren’t trying to find out whom Meno could visit to get corrupted — let them be the sophists if you wish. Rather, benefit your family friend here by telling us whom he could visit in such a great city to become famous for the virtue I just described. Anytus: Why didn’t you tell him yourself? Socrates: I did tell him the people I thought were teachers of these things, but it turns out I was wrong, according to you. And maybe you’re right. Now you take a turn and tell him what Athenians he should go to. Tell him any name you like. Anytus: Why should he hear the name of one person? Any good Athenian gentleman he meets would make him better than the sophists would, if he is willing to listen. Socrates: And these gentlemen, did they become like that spontaneously, learning it from no one? Are they able to teach others what they did not learn? Anytus: I suppose they learned it from their predecessors, who were also good gentlemen. Or don’t you think that there have been many good men in this city? Socrates: I do think that we have men who are good at political matters, Anytus, and that in the past there have been no fewer than now. But have they also been good teachers of their own virtue? That’s what our discussion is really about. For some time we have been examining not whether there are good men here, nor whether there have been in the past, but whether virtue is something that’s taught. To that end we are asking whether good men past or present know how to bestow on another this virtue which makes them good, or whether it just isn’t something a man can give or receive from another. That’s what Meno and I have been examining for some time now. So examine it like this, on the basis of what you have said: Wouldn’t you say that Themistocles21 21

Themistocles (ca. 524 – ca. 459) was the democratic Athenian politician who was the

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was a good man? Anytus: I would — or even the best man of all. Socrates: So would you also say that he was a good teacher, if indeed anyone was a teacher of his own virtue? Anytus: I think so, at least if he wanted to. Socrates: But do you think that he wouldn’t have wanted any others to become good gentlemen, especially his own son? Do you think he begrudged him this, and withheld the virtue by which he himself was good? Haven’t you heard that Themistocles had his son Cleophantus taught to be a good horseman? He would even remain standing upright on horseback and throw spears from the horses while standing. He accomplished many amazing things that he had him taught and made skillful, things that depend on good teachers. Or haven’t you heard these things from your elders? Anytus: I have. Socrates: So no one could accuse his son of having a bad nature? Anytus: Perhaps not. Socrates: Well then, have you heard from anyone, old or young, that Cleophantus the son of Themistocles was a good and wise man in the same things as his father? Anytus: Of course not. Socrates: So do we really think that he wanted to teach his son those things, but didn’t want to make his son better than his neighbors in the wisdom he himself possessed — if indeed virtue is something that’s taught? Anytus: By Zeus, perhaps not. Socrates: So that’s how good a teacher of virtue Themistocles was, this man whom you agree was among the best men of former times. Let’s consider another, then: Aristides the son of Lysimachus.22 Or don’t you agree that he was a good man? architect of the Greek victory over the Persian invasion in 480. He convinced Athens, against aristocratic opposition, to increase her navy threefold, which favored democracy by providing rowing jobs to the poor. The Persians were thus defeated at sea, at battles near Euboia and Salamis, which Themistocles commanded. Later, like some other powerful politicians of the period, he was formally ostracized from Athens by popular vote. He died a governor of some Greek communities in Asia Minor that were still subject to Persia. According to Plutarch’s Themistocles and Education of Children, his son Cleophantus was quite spoiled. 22 Aristides (ca. 525 – ca. 467), called “the Just,” was a political rival of Themistocles who was ostracized in 482, probably for opposing the development of the navy. But he was recalled when Persia invaded in 480 and fought with distinction in the battles at Salamis and Plataea. Then he was a founder of the Delian League of Greek cities united against Persian power. That league later developed into the Athenian empire, which led to the Peloponnesian War. Aristides’ son Lysimachus is portrayed in Plato’s Laches as complaining that his lack of distinction is due to Aristides’ neglect of his education.

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Anytus: Indeed I do, very much so. Socrates: Now he too educated his own son Lysimachus in the best things in Athens that depend upon teachers, but do you think that he made him a better man than anyone else? I think you have been with him; you see what he is like. Or if you like, consider Pericles,23 such a magnificently wise man. b You know that he raised two sons, Paralus and Xanthippus? Anytus: I do. Socrates: He educated them, as you know, to be horsemen as good as any in Athens, and in literature and gymnastics and every matter of art he had them trained to be inferior to none. But don’t you think he wanted to make them good men? I’m afraid that he did, and that it isn’t something that’s taught. And think about Thucydides,24 too, so that you don’t think it’s just a few very bad Athenians who have failed in this matter. Thucydides raised c two sons, too, Melesias and Stephanus. He educated them well in everything, and they were the finest wrestlers in Athens. He turned one of them over to Xanthias and the other to Eudorus, as they were considered the finest wrestlers at the time.25 Don’t you remember? Anytus: That’s what I’ve heard. Socrates: Well clearly, if he taught them these things that require so d much expense, he would not have failed to make good men of his own sons, teaching them what doesn’t cost anything — if it is something that’s taught. Or was Thucydides perhaps a poor man, with few friends among Athens and 23

Pericles (ca. 495–429) was the most powerful politician, general, and orator in the period of the Athenian empire leading up to the Peloponnesian War. He strengthened Athens’ democratic constitution and her hegemony in Greece, developing the splendor of the Athenian Acropolis and of the mysteries at Eleusis with funds from the Delian League. He presided over a city that he called “a school for all Greece,” and which was in fact a cultural magnet for the sophists and other intellectuals and artists. Early in the Peloponnesian War, he died of the plague that ravaged Athens as a result of his policy to rely on the navy and keep the entire population within the city walls, refusing to engage the Spartans on land while they destroyed the Athenian countryside. In Plato’s Gorgias, Socrates criticizes Pericles for gratifying the Athenians while failing to improve their character. His sons Paralus and Xanthippus also died of that plague; Socrates criticizes their poor moral education in their presence in Plato’s Protagoras. (Here Socrates does not mention Pericles’ adopted son Alcibiades, who as a young man was a passionate admirer of Socrates, and later became a brilliant general and a traitor to the city of Athens.) 24 Thucydides (ca. 505 – after 426; not the historian) was a political rival of Pericles who was ostracized in 443, probably for opposing Athens’ treatment of her allies and her self-serving use of their contributions to the Delian League. He is praised as an especially noble statesman in Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens. Meno’s uncle was apparently named after this Thucydides. His son Melesias appears with Aristides’ son Lysimachus in Plato’s Laches, complaining that his famous father neglected to educate him well. 25 Of Xanthias and Eudorus, we know only what is stated here.

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her allies? In fact, he belonged to a great family and he had great power in this city and in Greece. So if in fact virtue is something taught, he would have found the man, native or foreigner, who could make his sons good men, if he himself was busy taking care of the city. But I fear, Anytus my friend, that virtue is not something that’s taught. Anytus: Socrates, I think you criticize people too easily. If you would listen to me, I would warn you to be careful. Here in Athens especially, it is easier to injure people than it is to help them. I believe you know this yourself. Socrates: I think Anytus is angry, Meno, and I’m not surprised. For one thing, he thinks I am accusing these men, and then he also thinks that he is one of them. If he ever learns what it really means to speak badly about someone, he’ll stop being angry. As it is, he doesn’t understand. But you tell me, Meno, aren’t there good gentlemen in your parts, too? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: Well then, are they willing to offer themselves as teachers of the young? Do they agree that they are teachers, and that virtue is something taught? Meno: By Zeus no, Socrates. Sometimes you’ll hear them say that it is taught, sometimes that it’s not. Socrates: Shall we say then that they are teachers of it, if they don’t even agree on this very point? Meno: I don’t think so, Socrates. Socrates: Then what about the sophists, the only ones who claim to teach it? Do you think they are teachers of virtue? Meno: This is what I admire most about Gorgias, Socrates, that you’ll never hear him make that promise, and he makes fun of others when they promise it. Instead, he thinks his job is to make powerful speakers. Socrates: So you don’t think the sophists are teachers? Meno: I don’t know what to say about that, Socrates. I feel the way most people do: sometimes I think they teach it, sometimes I don’t. Socrates: Do you know that it’s not only you and other men of public affairs who sometimes think that it’s something taught, and sometimes that it’s not? You know that the poet Theognis26 says the same thing? Meno: Really? In which verses? Socrates: Where he says in his elegiacs, 26

Theognis was a late sixth century poet who, like Pindar, defended traditional aristocracy with the view that virtue is inherited and innate. The “elegiacs” mentioned here are verses written in a certain kind of traditional meter, the elegiac couplet, which is not reproduced in the translation.

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61 Eat and drink with men like these. Join them, Do what pleases men of rank and power. From great men you’ll be taught great things — Spend time with base men, lose what wits you had.

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You see that he speaks here of virtue as something that is taught? Meno: So it seems. Socrates: But elsewhere he changes that a bit, saying something like this: If wisdom in a man were built or planted, Many great rewards were won By those who could do it. And, Never would a bad son come from father good, Whose wise words would persuade him. But teaching will never make a bad man good. You realize that he says opposite things about the same subject? Meno: He seems to. Socrates: Well, can you tell me any other subject in which those who claim to teach it are not recognized as teachers by others, and not even thought to know it themselves, but considered bad at the very thing they claim to teach? Another subject in which those who are recognized as good and decent men sometimes claim that it’s something that’s taught, and sometimes that it’s not? Would you say that people who are so confused about anything at all are the proper teachers of it? Meno: By Zeus, I wouldn’t. Socrates: So if neither the sophists nor the men who are themselves good gentlemen are teachers of this subject, isn’t it clear that no one else would be? Meno: I think so. Socrates: And if there are no teachers, there are no learners either? Meno: I think what you’re saying is right. Socrates: Didn’t we agree that if there are no teachers or learners of something, then it isn’t something that’s taught? Meno: We did. Socrates: Now it seems that there aren’t any teachers of virtue anywhere? Meno: That’s right. Socrates: And if there are no teachers, there are no learners? Meno: So it seems. Socrates: Therefore virtue would not be something that’s taught? Meno: Apparently not, if we have examined this correctly. But now I’m

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wondering, Socrates, whether there are ever any good men. In what way could good men come to be? Socrates: I’m afraid that you and I are inferior men, Meno, and that Gorgias hasn’t taught you very well, nor Prodicus me. So we must above all turn our attention to ourselves, and inquire who can somehow make us better. I say this because I’m thinking that in our inquiry just now, we were silly not to notice that it’s not only under the guidance of knowledge that men manage their affairs rightly and well — maybe that’s why it escapes us how good men come to be. Meno: What do you mean, Socrates? Socrates: We were right to agree that good men must be beneficial, and that it couldn’t be any other way, weren’t we? Meno: Yes. Socrates: And that they will be beneficial if they guide us rightly in our affairs — were we right to agree on that, too? Meno: Yes. Socrates: But that it isn’t possible to guide rightly unless they are wise or knowledgeable — on this it seems we made a bad agreement. Meno: What do you mean by that? Socrates: I’ll tell you: If someone knew the road to Larissa,27 or to anywhere else you like, and he went there and guided others, wouldn’t he guide rightly and well? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: Now what if someone had a correct belief about which was the road, though he hadn’t gone there and didn’t have knowledge? Wouldn’t this man guide rightly too? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: And so long as he has correct belief about the thing that the other one knows, he won’t be a worse guide than the wise one who knows, since what he believes is the truth, even though he doesn’t know it. Meno: Not worse at all. Socrates: So true belief is no worse a guide for correct action than knowledge or wisdom is. And this is what we left out in our examination just now about what sort of thing virtue is, when we said that knowledge alone was a guide to correct action. In fact there was also true belief. Meno: Apparently so. Socrates: Then correct belief is no less beneficial than knowledge? 27

Cf. p. 29 n. 1.

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Meno: To this extent it is, Socrates: The one who has knowledge would always get it right, but the one who has correct belief would sometimes get it right and sometimes not. Socrates: What do you mean? Wouldn’t the one who always has correct belief always get it right, so long as he has believes correctly? Meno: It seems to me that’s necessary. And now I wonder, Socrates, if this is so, why knowledge is valued much more than correct belief, and how the one is different from the other. Socrates: Do you know why you wonder about that, or shall I tell you? Meno: Definitely, tell me. Socrates: It’s because you haven’t paid attention to the statues of Daedalus.28 Maybe there aren’t any where you come from. Meno: What makes you say that? Socrates: Because these too run away and escape if they aren’t tied down, but they stay if they are tied down. Meno: What about it? Socrates: Acquiring one of his works untied isn’t worth much, for it won’t stay put, just like a human slave that runs away. But it’s worth a lot if it’s tied down, for his works are very beautiful. Now, I’m saying this in comparison with true beliefs. For true beliefs too, for as long as they stay put, are a fine possession, and everything they do is good. But they aren’t willing to stay for a long time, and they run away from a person’s soul, so that they aren’t worth much until one ties them down by working out the reason. And that is recollection, Meno my friend, as we agreed earlier. When they are tied down, they become knowledge, and they become stable. That’s why knowledge is more valuable than correct belief: it’s in being tied down that knowledge differs from correct belief. Meno: By Zeus, Socrates, it does seem to be something like that. Socrates: Indeed, I too am speaking as one who doesn’t know, but makes a conjecture by analogy. However, I certainly don’t think it’s conjecture that knowledge and correct belief are different things. If I would claim to know anything else — and I would make that claim about few things — then I would put this down as one of the things I know. Meno: Rightly so, Socrates. 28 Daedalus, the mythical craftsman who designed the labyrinth for the Minotaur, was a symbol of human ingenuity credited with the invention of sails, sculptors’ and carpenters’ tools, folding furniture and moving statues. Socrates uses the legendary “statues of Daedalus” to make a similar point at Euthyphro 11b ff., where he also claims to be a descendent of Daedalus.

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Socrates: Well then, is this correct, that when true belief guides the result of each action, it does no worse than knowledge? Meno: That seems right to me, too. Socrates: Then correct belief will be no worse and no less beneficial for our actions than knowledge, and neither will the man who has correct belief be worse than the one who has knowledge. Meno: That’s right. Socrates: And we have agreed that the good man is beneficial? Meno: Yes. Socrates: Since then men would be good and beneficial to their cities — if indeed there are such men — not only through knowledge but also through correct belief, and since men have neither of these by nature, neither knowledge nor true belief, but they are acquired . . . Or do you think either of them comes by nature? Meno: No, I don’t. Socrates: And since these are not had by nature, good men would not be so by nature either? Meno: Certainly not. Socrates: Since goodness is not got by nature, we examined next whether it is something that’s taught? Meno: Yes. Socrates: And it seemed that virtue is something that’s taught if it is knowledge or wisdom? Meno: Yes. Socrates: And that if it were something that’s taught, it would be knowledge? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: And that if there were teachers, it would be something that’s taught, but if there are no teachers it is not taught? Meno: That’s right. Socrates: But then, we have agreed that there are no teachers of it? Meno: We have. Socrates: So we have agreed that it is not something that’s taught, and that it is not knowledge? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: Yet we agree that it is something good. Meno: Yes. Socrates: And that what guides correctly is beneficial and good? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: And that the only things that guide correctly are two: true

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belief and knowledge. It’s by having these that a man gives correct guidance. The things that happen correctly by some kind of chance don’t come about by human guidance. But where there’s a human guide to what’s right, it is due to these two things, true belief or knowledge. Meno: That’s how it seems to me. Socrates: Since it is not something taught, then, it no longer seems that virtue comes by knowledge. Meno: It seems not. Socrates: Therefore, of our two good and beneficial things, one has been acquitted: knowledge is not the guide in political activity. Meno: I don’t think it is. Socrates: So it’s not by a kind of wisdom, it’s not because they’re wise, that men like that are leaders in their cities — people like Themistocles and the others that Anytus here just mentioned. In fact, that’s why they aren’t able to make others be like themselves, because it isn’t knowledge that makes them what they are. Meno: Apparently that’s how it is, Socrates, as you say. Socrates: Then if it isn’t knowledge, what’s left would be right opinion? That’s what men of public affairs use when they give correct guidance to their cities. In relation to having knowledge they are no different from oracle-givers and prophets,29 who also say many true things while they are inspired, but they have no knowledge of what they are saying. Meno: That may be so. Socrates: Well then, Meno, should we call them divine, these men who succeed in saying and doing many important things, but without understanding? Meno: Definitely. Socrates: We would be right to call those oracle-givers and seers divine, together with all the poets. And we should say that the politicians are no less divine and inspired, calling them possessed and influenced by the god when their speeches bring success in many great affairs, though they know nothing about what they are saying. Meno: Definitely. Socrates: Women too, you know, call good men divine, and when the Spartans praise a good man, they say “this man is divine.” Meno: What they say does seem correct, Socrates, though Anytus here may be angry with you for saying it. 29

Cf. p. 103, n. 16.

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66 Socrates: That doesn’t worry me, Meno. We’ll be talking to him again. But for now, if you and I conducted this whole inquiry and discussion well, then virtue is neither by nature nor taught, but those who have it get it by 100 divine gift and without understanding — unless he be the kind of statesman who can make another man a statesman. Should there be such a man, he could be called among the living just about what Homer called Tiresias30 among the dead: in Hades, “he alone could keep his mind. The others shift like shadows.” Likewise, in this world, a man like that would be a real thing among shadows, when it comes to virtue. b Meno: I think that’s a very beautiful way to say it, Socrates. Socrates: On this reasoning, Meno, virtue seems to come to those who get it by divine gift. But we will have clear knowledge about it only when, before we ask in what way virtue comes to human beings, we first try to inquire what virtue is in itself. Now the time has come for me to go somewhere. You persuade your host and friend Anytus here of the things you’ve been persuaded of yourself, so he may be less angry. If you persuade him, you will also be benefitting Athens.

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Tiresias was a legendary, blind seer who often appears in Greek literature. Here he is a figure for the person with real knowledge, in spite of Plato’s present point that such people have only true belief. Tiresias’ special wisdom came in part from special experience: he had lived both as a woman and as a man (somewhat like Empedocles, cf. p. 35 n. 6, though Tiresias had done so in one lifetime). Later he lost his vision as divine punishment, either for seeing too much of Athena or for sharing his knowledge that women enjoy sex more than men; but he was compensated with the divine gift of prophecy. The quotation is from Homer’s Odyssey X.490 ff., where Odysseus is told to consult Tiresias in Hades about how to get home. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, the chorus introduces Tiresias as the man “in whom alone the truth is in his nature” (ll. 298–9).

Euthyphro: Introduction Place and Time The dialogue is set the spring of 399, immediately preceding the trial in which Socrates was charged with religious innovation, impiety and corrupting the young: by Meletus on behalf of the poets, Anytus on behalf of the craftsmen and politicians, and Lycon on behalf of the orators. Dramatically the Euthpyhro follows on the last lines of the Theaetetus, in which Socrates says that he must leave to face the indictment at the court of the King Archon. In the Theaetetus, Socrates promises to continue the discussion the following day, indicating perhaps that in Plato’s eyes, Socrates was oblivious as to how much trouble he was actually in. Socrates also indicates in the Euthpyhro that perhaps the charges he is about to face will come to nothing. On his way in to the court, Socrates meets Euthyphro, whom he learns is charging his own father with the murder of one of his farm workers. The incident in question took place not in Athens, but on the island of Naxos, where Euthyphro’s family was operating a farm. Naxos was the site of an Athenian cleruchy established by Pericles some time around 447. A cleruchy involved settling citizens on foreign territory to establish control after conquering it, or if it was threatening to rebel. The Spartan Commander Lysander dismissed the Athenian cleruchs after Athens’ defeat in the Peloponnesian War in 404, and dispossessed them of their property. As the case against Euthyphro’s father is taking place in 399, we may wonder why it took at least five years to come to trial, and what authority Athens would have had over affairs in Naxos. Either the meeting with Socrates is not historical, or Euthyphro’s family had bought land there, or escaped the notice of those who dispossessed the Athenians, or there was a long delay between the murder and the trial. It is possible that the incident happened before the dispossession in 404, and took in excess of 4 years to come to trial. This is perhaps plausible in that the law courts seem 67

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to have been inoperable between 403–401 while the laws were being revised and codified after the restoration of the Athenian democracy in 403 (they were under Spartan sponsored rule after the loss of the war). In any case the process of bringing a case to the King Archon was fraught with bureaucratic difficulties and delays. The story of Euthyphro’s prosecution of his father is, in fact, so odd that it seems hard to imagine that Plato would have invented it and so it quite possibly did happen. This does leave open the question of whether it actually happened to Euthyphro, or whether Plato simply incorporated this bizarre story into the dialogue that bears his name. Given that there are no witnesses to the conversation, it also remains an open question whether the conversation that forms this dialogue actually occurred. However, according to Diogenes Laertius (not always the most reliable of sources), Socrates managed to convince Euthyphro not to prosecute his father (Lives of Eminent Philosophers, II, 29). It should perhaps be noted that if we take the meeting between Euthyphro and Socrates on the steps of the court to be historical, it is possible that Socrates did manage to change his mind, but this does not happen in the Euthpyhro. The remarks Diogenes makes are in his chapter on Socrates, and it is just possible that he is referring to historical events, and not Plato’s dialogue.

Euthyphro Euthyphro is most likely the same Euthyphro of Prospalta who is mentioned in Plato’s Cratylus (396d). Prospalta is an Attic deme (a political administrative unit) to the south east of Athens. In the Cratylus it is suggested that Socrates is behaving like a newly inspired prophet. Socrates says that this inspiration is something that he caught from “the great Euthyphro”; on hearing Euthyphro speak at length, Socrates was inspired to finish his investigation into the nature of names. Calling Euthyphro “great” in the Cratylus is perhaps just as ironic as Socrates asking that Euthyphro become his teacher in the Euthpyhro. For we quickly discover that Euthyphro is incapable of explaining the true nature of holiness, and as such his prosecution of his father for the religious crime of murder is on rather shaky grounds. Euthyphro is a self-professed expert in religious matters and claims that he is right in prosecuting his father for murder, based on the mythological prosecution of Chronos by Zeus and the mythological castration of Uranus by Chronos. We are certainly meant to take Euthyphro as naive in these matters, if not something of a religious fundamentalist, as borne out by Socrates sceptically

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asking him if he really thinks that these stories and those relating a war between the gods were actual events. Euthyphro replies authoritatively that these events most certainly did occur. The events that precipitate Euthyphro’s prosecution of his father may also bear out that Euthyphro was not taken seriously within his own family circle. Euthyphro’s father bound and gagged a murderer, and sent a messenger to Athens to consult an exegete (religious interpreter) about what to do next. The bound man died in the interim. One can’t help but wonder why Euthyphro’s father didn’t ask Euthyphro for advice on what to do, since Euthyphro purports to be an expert in legal and religious matters — expert enough to be prosecuting his own father for unpremeditated murder. The fact that Euthyphro’s father does not ask his son’s advice suggests that he did not respect that advice, and thought it wiser to wait for the results of a consultation on the mainland (a trip by boat, from Naxos to Athens and back, that certainly took a week, if not longer). Could it be that Euthyphro is prosecuting his father out of spite? One thing is certain, however. Euthyphro needs to be taken down a peg or two. Socrates sets on his professed expertise and reduces him to aporia in classic Socratic fashion, asking Euthyphro, the “religious expert,” to define holiness or piety.

Argumentum It is worth noting that Socrates and Euthyphro seem to know each other, for in his opening salvo Euthyphro indicates that he knows Socrates’ usual haunts, and a little later he claims knowledge of Socrates’ divine sign, the inner voice that Socrates claims warns him against doing inadvisable things. In the dialogue Socrates meets Euthyphro on the steps of the King Archon, on his way to face the charges that will eventually lead to his execution. At this time, however, there is considerable indication that he thinks nothing serious will actually come of the matter. Euthyphro reveals that he is prosecuting his father for murder following a bizarre series of events on the island of Naxos. Euthyphro, a self-professed expert on religious and legal matters, ironically does not know the difference between a private and public prosecution, and has to be corrected by Socrates about this. This ought to give the reader some initial doubts regarding his credibility, as an expert on matters religious and legal. Euthypho’s professed expertise in piety becomes the pretext for Socrates’ ironic examination of him. How fortunate that Socrates should meet an expert on piety just as he is about to enter the court on charges of impiety! Surely with Euthyphro’s tutelage

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he will successfully defeat the charges against him. Socrates’ examination of Euthyphro ensues in the form of a search for a definition of piety and impiety. In response to the question “what is piety?” Euthyphro initially responds that piety is doing precisely what he is doing at present, namely prosecuting a wrongdoer for murder (despite the fact that his own father is the wrongdoer). He cites as precedents the myths relating Zeus’ prosecution of his father Chronos for murder, and Chronos’ castration of his father Uranus. Euthyphro unabashedly affirms his literalism about these stories, in addition to his obvious disregard for Athenian moral sentiment that places family above law. In typical fashion, Socrates suggests that Euthyphro’s prosecution of his father is merely an example of what he believes to be a pious act, but not a definition of piety itself. What is it about prosecuting his father that makes it pious? He asks Euthyphro to give him the idea of holiness and the idea of unholiness in contradistinction to examples of them. Many have taken this to be an early instance of Plato’s Theory of Forms, whereby a single Idea grounds all imperfect instantiations of that Idea, explaining their ontological and epistemological similarity. However, one must note that Socrates has asked for the idea of holiness and the idea of unholiness, which would engender the rather knotty problem of Forms of negative concepts, a problem that is unexplored here. Euthypho’s answer to the question, “what is it that makes all things holy and unholy?” is that the holy is what the gods love and the unholy what they hate. However Euthyphro had previously admitted that the gods quarrel and fight, thus committing him to the possibility that the gods might disagree about what they love and hate. Socrates nonetheless allows Euthyphro to say that what all the gods love may be holy and that what they all hate may be unholy. This leads to an issue of great significance in later philosophy, namely whether something is holy because loved by god, or whether god loves something because it is holy. If something is loved by the gods because it is holy, then the holy has been characterized but not defined. We do not know what it is about holy things that makes the gods love them. Conversely, if something is holy because loved by the gods, one worries whether or not there is something essential to holy things beyond god’s predilection for them. This part of the discussion leads to an initial unresolved confusion over the nature of holiness, and a recasting of the investigation. Socrates next asks whether justice and holiness are commensurate sets, or whether justice is a subset of the holy, or vice versa. Euthyphro responds that holiness is the subset of justice that has to do with taking care of the gods. Socrates counters that “taking care of” implies a benefit for those who are taken care of and so

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asks how exactly the gods are benefited by holy actions, since holy actions ultimately reduce to prayers (asking things of the gods) and making sacrifices (giving things to the gods). Yet it is not clear how the gods benefit from these sacrifices, to which Euthyphro replies that they love sacrifices most of all. This places Euthyphro in the difficult position of having to say that the holy is what the gods love, a suggestion that has already led nowhere. Socrates then berates Euthyphro for being so rash in prosecuting his own father, since he shows an utter lack of facility with the concepts of the holy and unholy, at which point Euthyphro abruptly declares that he must depart. Socrates falsely expresses dismay over the fact that Euthyphro is leaving him in the lurch just as he is about to face the charges of impiety.

Plato, Piety and Athens One cannot help but think that the Euthpyhro represents Plato’s bitter criticism of an uncritical and unthinking mob — his fellow Athenians — that throw concepts and indeed legal charges of piety and impiety around unfairly and unreflectively. Euthyphro seems quite aware of the damage that politically motivated and base prosecutions, like those brought against Socrates by Meletus, can do. Ironically, he seems oblivious to the fact that his own charges against his father are equally base. In many ways it is not unfair to suggest that Euthyphro, in character, spirit, and confusion, is representative of the average Athenian who, with very little theoretical grounding beyond a myth taken too literally, precipitated the tragedy that would be the execution of Socrates — a man Plato characterized as the wisest, best and most upright. One cannot help but notice that when Plato discusses the destructive influence of poetry in the Republic, it is the story of the revenge of Chronos that he uses as a primary example (377e–378a). This story is the very incident in Greek mythology that Euthphro uses as a precedent and rationale for prosecuting his own father. Plato suggests, almost bitterly, that Socrates is out of place in the world of politics and law courts, and was unjustly subjected to an unreflective mob, confident — all too confident — in their convictions about justice and piety.

Euthyphro Euthyphro: Well now, Socrates! I’m surprised to see you here hanging about 2 the porch of the King Archon.1 It’s hardly the Lyceum2 where you normally spend your time. You don’t have a case to bring before the Archon like me, do you? Socrates: It’s not a private case, Euthyphro, but what the Athenians call a public one.3 Euthyphro: What’s that you say? I assume that someone is prosecuting b you then; I can’t imagine that you are prosecuting someone else. Socrates: Of course not. Euthyphro: So someone is prosecuting you? Socrates: Yes indeed. Euthyphro: Who is it? Socrates: I don’t really know the man, Euthyphro. It seems to me that he is something of a young political novice. I think they call him Meletus, from the Deme of Pitthos; if you can think of a Meletus of Pitthos,4 with long 1 Archons were the chief Athenian government officers. There were nine of these, elected yearly to oversee the administration of the state, including presiding over law courts. The King Archon was so called because he preserved certain religious functions of an earlier monarchical system. One of these functions was to preside over prosecutions on grounds of religious impiety, such of that of Socrates, and another was to preside over cases of murder, because of the religious pollution that it was thought to cause to the city. As Euthyphro is charging his father with murder, he too has business before the King Archon. 2 The Lyceum was a gymnasium that Socrates liked to frequent, ostensibly because it afforded him the opportunity to converse with young men, and to appreciate their physical form while exercising. It later became the site of Aristotle’s educational institution in Athens. 3 “Private case” translates dik¯e here, and “public one” translates graph¯e. A dik¯e is a case in which a private injury has been done, whereas a graph¯e is one where the state has been harmed. Dik¯e is the general word for any case to be heard before the law, but Socrates is being more precise. 4 Meletus (b. ca. 429) brought charges against Socrates on behalf of the poets. It is thought that his father of the same name, who is mentioned in Aristophanes’ Frogs and Farmers, was

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straight hair, not much of a beard, and a hook-nose. Euthyphro: I can’t recall anybody like that Socrates. What’s the charge? Socrates: The charge? No small thing it seems to me. But it’s not bad for a young man to have convictions about something so important. He says he knows how it is that the youth are corrupted and who it is that corrupts them. It’s possible that he is wise, noticing that in my ignorance, I have corrupted his friends. So he comes to the city to accuse me like a child running to his mother. Of all our political activists,5 it seems to me that he is the only one to begin correctly. It is right to care for the young, so they can be as good as possible. Just as a good farmer gives priority to the young plants and then takes care of the rest, Meletus, I guess, first clears us away, since we ruin the roots of the young, as he says. And after that it is clear that he will care for us older ones, becoming the cause of the greatest good in the city; this is the likely result of such a beginning. Euthyphro: I hope so Socrates, but I am afraid that just the opposite will happen. I think that by attacking you he is simply trying to attack a state institution. Tell me, what things does he say you do to corrupt the young? Socrates: When first heard, my goodness, they are absurd! He says that I am a maker of gods, that I create new gods and don’t believe in the old ones. That’s why he says he brought the charges against me. Euthyphro: I see, Socrates. It’s because of the divine sign6 that you say always comes to you. So he brings the charge of religious innovation against you, and he will come to the court with this slander, knowing full well how easy it is to make such things look bad to the many. To be honest when I speak in the assembly about divine things, and tell the future for them, they laugh at me as if I were crazy. Although I have never spoken falsely in my predictions, they are jealous of us and people like us. We mustn’t worry about them, but we mustn’t run away. Socrates: My friend Euthyphro, their laughter is not important. It seems to me that Athenians don’t care if a man is thought to be clever unless he tries to teach them his wisdom. If he does try to teach others, they get angry a poet, but that Meletus was not. This would be consistent with the idea that he is a young unknown trying to establish himself on the political scene by going after Socrates. Demes were political divisions of the Athenian city-state, initially set up by Cleisthenes in 507. The location of the deme of Pitthos is unknown. 5 Political activists here translates politkon literally those involved in politics, but here as Socrates suggests he is young and unknown, and probably trying to make a name for himself, it seems unsuitable to call him a politician in the literal sense. 6 Socrates claimed to have a daimon, or divine sign, since childhood, a kind of inner voice that warned him against acting imprudently in argument or action, including taking part in politics. See Apology 31d.

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— out of jealousy, as you say — or for some other reason. Euthyphro: They never react this way toward me; I certainly don’t test them in this way. Socrates: Probably because you appear reserved and don’t want to teach your wisdom. But I’m afraid that in my philanthropy I give the impression of speaking excessively to everyone, without even charging for it. In fact, I would gladly pay someone who wanted to listen to me. Anyway, if they were about to laugh at me like you say that they laugh at you, I’d be quite happy e to carry on laughing and joking in the court. But if they are serious, only the fortunetellers can know how it will all end. Euthyphro: Well, most likely nothing will come of the matter Socrates, and you will conclude the case to your satisfaction, just as I think I will mine. Socrates: And what is your case Euthyphro? Are you prosecuting or defending? Euthyphro: Prosecuting. Socrates: Who are you prosecuting? Euthyphro: Someone I am thought mad to be prosecuting. 4a Socrates: Why is that? Does the person you are prosecuting have wings? Will he fly away?7 Euthyphro: There’s no great fear of that. As it happens he is quite old. Socrates: Who is he? Euthyphro: He is my father. Socrates: My good man! Your own father? Euthyphro: Yes indeed. Socrates: What’s the case and what’s he accused of? Euthyphro: Murder, Socrates. Socrates: By Heracles8 Euthyphro, how ignorant are the many regarding right and wrong. I don’t think that it is by mere chance that a man is so far b advanced in wisdom as to be able to act correctly in these matters. Euthyphro: By Zeus, very far advanced indeed Socrates. Socrates: Was the man your father killed a relative of yours? He must have been, no? Surely you wouldn’t charge your father with killing someone who wasn’t a relative. 7

“Will he fly away” translates petomenon tina diokeis. The suggestion is that a legal prosecution is like a kind of hunting expedition, and that the defendant is like a bird that tries to fly away from the hunter who is prosecuting him. 8 Heracles/Hercules was the greatest of the Greek heroes, born of Zeus and the mortal woman Alcmene. Through a series of twelve “labors” he was transformed in status from a mortal hero to an immortal god.

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Euthyphro: It’s absurd Socrates, to distinguish between the murder of a relative and that of a non-relative. The question is whether the killing is just or not, and if not, to prosecute, whether the killer shares your house and your table or not. The pollution is the same if you knowingly associate with such a person, and fail to purify yourself and him by prosecuting the case.9 The dead man was our neighbor when we were farming in Naxos,10 and we took him on as our worker. One day he became drunk, and in a rage he cut the throat of one of our servants. My father bound his hands and feet and threw him in a ditch, and he sent a man here to Athens to ask an exegete11 what should be done. During that time, he did nothing for the man, thinking that, as he was a murderer, it wouldn’t matter if he died. And that’s exactly what happened. He died from hunger and the cold and his bondage before the messenger returned from the exegete. And now my father and others in our house are angry with me because I am charging him with murder. He did not kill the man, they say, and even if he had, he was a murderer and deserved to die, and so I shouldn’t worry about such a man — according to them it is sinful12 for a son to charge his father with murder. How poorly they understand what god holds holy and unholy! Socrates: And you, by Zeus, Euthyphro, is your knowledge of the divine and the holy and unholy so precise? If things happened as you say they did, are you not afraid that in prosecuting your father you might be doing an unholy thing? Euthyphro: If he did not know all of these things clearly Socrates, Euthyphro would be neither useful, nor would he be any different than the herd. 9

This explains why the King Archon hears murder cases. Murder brings pollution and evils upon the entire city. The pollution, which might take the form of plague or famine or defeat in war, must be purged by the punishing of the wrongdoer. A famous case of this occurs in Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus Tyrannus where the city of Thebes is polluted by the presence of the murderer of Laius, who turns out to be Oedipus himself. 10 See introduction. 11 An exegete (in Greek, ex¯egitos) is a kind of religious interpreter whom people would consult (presumably after paying a fee) to determine the piety or impiety of a particular action. Exegetai were by law members of ancient noble clans, one elected by the people, and one appointed by the priests of the Oracle at Delphi. The elected exegete dealt mainly with questions about sacrifices and rituals, whereas the one appointed by Delphi dealt primarily with questions of pollution and purification. Hence Euthyphro’s father would have sent a man to consult the Delphic exegete. Ironically the father appears not to have asked Euthyphro for advice, although he claims to be an expert on the subject. 12 “Sinful” translates anosion, which should be understood with emphasis. Euthyphro thinks that what his father did was sinful, but the relatives think it is Euthyphro who is the sinful one.

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Socrates: O amazing Euthyphro, it seems to me that it would be best for me to become your student and to challenge Meletus before the trial about the things he says. I could say that, in the time prior to the trial, I gave great importance to learning about divine things, and now, since he says that I make things up about the gods and that I am wrong for doing so, I have become your student. “And if, Meletus,” I would say, “You agree that Euthyphro is wise in b these matters and thinks correctly about them, then so do I, so don’t prosecute me. If not, then bring the charge against my teacher before you charge me, for he corrupts the old, both me and his father — me by his teaching and his father by criticizing and punishing him.” And if I can’t persuade him to drop the case or prosecute you instead of me, I can say the same things in court to challenge him. Euthyphro: Yes by Zeus, Socrates, and if he tried to prosecute me, I c think I would find whatever flaws there are in his argument, and many words would come to be said in the court about him rather than about me. Socrates: My dear friend, knowing these things, I want to become your student. I think that perhaps Meletus and others choose not to notice you, but they quite clearly see me as an easy target, and so they charge me with impiety. So now, by Zeus, tell me what you know so clearly and confidently. What sorts of things do you say are pious and impious, and what do you say about d murder and other such things? Isn’t the holy itself the same in all cases, and isn’t the unholy the opposite of the holy13 and the same as itself, so that there is a single idea about all unholy things that would be involved in anything unholy?14 Euthyphro: That’s completely right, Socrates. Socrates: Tell me then what you say the holy and the unholy are. Euthyphro: I say that the holy is the same as what I am now doing, prosecuting a wrongdoer for murder, or the theft of holy things, or other sinful 13

Plato shifts here from the use of asebeia/eusebia (translated as “impiety/piety”) to hosia/anosia (translated as “holiness/unholiness”). Socrates was charged with asebeia, but much of the discussion of the Euthyphro is about hosia and anosia. It is thought that there was a strong tendency to see the terms as synonyms, although technically eusebia refers to being scrupulous in honoring the gods, whereas things that the gods approve or permit are called hosios. 14 If the notion of “a single idea about all unholy things” is an anticipation, or even a first mention of Plato’s theory of forms, then we must consider whether Plato intends to have forms of negative things (i.e. the unholy), or whether negative things are privations. While it is true that at Republic 476a Plato mentions the “Form of the bad,” he does so in an off-handed way, in accordance with the idea that any two things that have the same name have a Form. Considering that evil, in general, and bad things specifically, are better understood as privations, it is not clear that Plato is making an initial reference to Forms here at all, although the reasoning may tend in that direction.

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acts, whether the wrongdoer happens to be your father, your mother, or anyone else, since it would be unholy not to prosecute. Observe Socrates, how great a proof I will give you that the laws are like this. This is something that I have already said to others — that it will not be right to tolerate impious people, whoever they may be. The same men who happen to think that Zeus is the best and most just of the gods accept that he bound his father Chronos for unjustly swallowing his own sons, and that he castrated his father Uranus for other evils.15 And yet they are angry with me when I prosecute my father; in this they contradict themselves regarding my situation and that of the gods. Socrates: Isn’t this the very reason, Euthyphro, that I am being charged, for taking exception to these kinds of things being said about the gods? It seems that they call me sinful because of this. Now if these things that are said also seem good to you, who can speak so well about these matters, it seems necessary for us to reach an agreement about them. Shall we say that we agree in knowing nothing about these things? But as a friend, tell me, do you really think that these things actually happened?16 Euthyphro: Indeed I do, and things still more wonderful, that the common herd knows nothing about. Socrates: And do you really think that there was a war in which the gods fought with each other, and that there was enmity and scheming and fighting among them, as said in the works of the poets, and represented so colorfully by the best artists in our sacred places? And what about the things represented on the cloak of the Great Panathenaea17 that is carried to the 15 Uranus, the sky god, would not allow his children to see the light of day; Chronos cut of his genitals in revenge, and tossed them into the sea. This impregnated the sea foam, resulting in the birth of the goddess Aphrodite. Later the fates warned Chronos that one of his children would overthrow him in time. To prevent this Chronos ordered his wife Rhea to swallow their children as soon as they were born. She managed to save Zeus, however, who made him vomit them back up. Cf. Hesiod, Theogony, 453–506 and 154–182. 16 In the Republic, Socrates says that in the ideal city, the story of Chronos and Uranus ought not to be told to impressionable young people, even if they were true. “nor is it to be said in the hearing of a young man, that in doing the utmost wrong he would do nothing to surprise anybody, nor again in punishing his father’s wrong doings to the limit, but would only be following the example of the first and greatest of the gods” (Republic 378b). 17 The Great Panathenaea was a birthday celebration for the city of Athens, held every four years from 566 onward, with minor festivals in intervening years. The festival is marked by an all night vigil followed by a sacrifice to Eros, the god of Love, and Athena, the goddess of Wisdom. This was followed by a torch race from the grove of Acedemus (later the site of Plato’s Academy) through the agora, or marketplace of Athens, and on to the altar on the Acropolis, or high city of Athens, where the Parthenon (temple of the gods) is located. A new cloak was woven by the women of Athens for each Great Panathenaea, on which is depicted the battle of the Olympian Gods with the Giants. The cloak was presented to the statue of Athena Polias (Athena of the city).

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Acropolis? Shall we say that these things are true Euthyphro? Euthyphro: Not only these, Socrates, but as I said, I can tell you plenty more about the gods if you want, which I am sure would amaze you when you hear them. Socrates: I should not be surprised, but tell me when we have more time. Now I would ask you to answer my previous question more clearly. To me, d my friend, your answer about the holy and what it is was insufficient. All you said was that what you are doing now happens to be holy — prosecuting your father for murder. Euthyphro: And I spoke truly Socrates. Socrates: Probably. But Euthyphro, you will surely say that many other things are holy. Euthyphro: And it is so. Socrates: Remember then, that I didn’t ask you to name one or two things that are holy, but to say what the idea of holiness itself is by which all holy things are holy. You said that there was a single idea by which the unholy is unholy and a single idea by which the holy is holy.18 Don’t you remember? e Euthyphro: I do. Socrates: Then tell me what this idea is, so that I can concentrate on this, and use it as a paradigm to judge a given action, and say “this is holy,” or “this is not holy,” whether the action is yours or someone else’s. Euthyphro: If that’s what you want, Socrates, I’ll tell you. Socrates: It’s just what I want. Euthyphro: Well then, the holy is loved by the gods and the unholy is 7 not. Socrates: Excellent Euthyphro! Now you have given the kind of answer I was looking for. I don’t know whether it is true or not, but clearly you will prove that it is. Euthyphro: Of course. Socrates: Come then, let’s investigate what we are saying. What is loved by the gods and the person that is loved by the gods is holy, and what is hated 18 The Greek here only says “a single idea” once, but it governs the phrases by which the unholy is unholy and by which the holy is holy. I insert the second “a single idea” lest we are misled into thinking that Plato has Forms and privation in mind, viz. a Form of the Holy, by which the holy is holy and the unholy unholy by privation. While the principle of a single idea for the holy is implied, it remains the case that the unholy is the first example given (at 5d). In this example, Euthyphro agreed only that there is a single idea by which unholy things are unholy, and hence he does not actually appear to remember precisely what was said.

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by the gods and the person that is hated by the gods is unholy. And the holy and the unholy are not the same but opposites. Wasn’t it that way? Euthyphro: It certainly was. Socrates: And it appeared well said? Euthyphro: I think so Socrates, it was said. Socrates: And also that the gods quarrel, Euthyphro, and differ with each other, and that there is enmity among them. That was said? Euthyphro: Yes it was. Socrates: And what is the nature of the disagreement that causes enmity and anger? Let’s look at it this way. If you and I disagreed about whether one of two numbers was larger, would this disagreement make us angry with each other, make us enemies? Wouldn’t we calculate about these things and quickly dispose of the difficulty? Euthyphro: We would. Socrates: And if we disagreed about the greater and the smaller, we would measure and quickly put an end to that difficulty? Euthyphro: That’s right. Socrates: And we would use scales, it seems to me, if we were to disagree about heavy and light. Euthyphro: Certainly. Socrates: What insoluble difficulty would make us enemies, and angry with each other? Maybe the answer is not immediately to hand, but I suspect that it concerns the just and the unjust, the beautiful and the ugly, the good and the bad. Aren’t these the things about which we are unable to reach a sufficient solution, making enemies out of you and me and everyone else? Euthyphro: Yes, Socrates, the disagreement concerns these things. Socrates: Then what about the gods, Euthyphro? If indeed they disagree, wouldn’t they disagree about these same things? Euthyphro: That’s entirely necessary. Socrates: And as for the gods, noble Euthyphro, different ones find different things just, according to your understanding, and different ones find different things beautiful and ugly, good and bad. For they wouldn’t quarrel with each other if they didn’t disagree about these things, would they? Euthyphro: You speak truly. Socrates: And so, each one loves what each considers beautiful and good and just, and hates the opposite of these? Euthyphro: Yes indeed. Socrates: The same things then, according to you, some gods consider just, others unjust; and because they dispute about them, they quarrel and make war with each other. Isn’t it this way?

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Euthyphro: It is. Socrates: The same thing then, so it seems, will be loved and hated by the gods, the “god-loved” and “god-hated” will be the same. Euthyphro: So it seems. Socrates: According to this reasoning Euthyphro, the holy and the unholy will be the same. Euthyphro: It seems so. Socrates: Then you haven’t answered my question, man! The question wasn’t what happens to be both holy and unholy, for it turns out that what is loved by the gods is the same thing as what is hated by them. And so, Euthyphro, punishing your father is nothing wonderful, if doing it can be loved by Zeus, but hated by Chronos and Uranus, loved by Haphaestus and hated by Hera,19 and likewise loved and hated if there are other gods who differ about this. Euthyphro: But I think, Socrates that the gods never disagree about this kind of thing. If someone kills another unjustly he has to pay the penalty. Socrates: What? Have you ever heard someone argue that killing unjustly or committing other wrongs doesn’t have to be punished? Euthyphro: They never stop arguing this in the courts and elsewhere; when they have committed the gravest injustices, they say and do anything to escape the penalty. Socrates: Do they admit, Euthyphro, that they have committed an injustice and yet still maintain that they shouldn’t have to pay the penalty? Euthyphro: They never do this. Socrates: Then it isn’t that they say and do absolutely everything. For they never dare to say or argue that, if they have committed an injustice, they shouldn’t be punished. It seems to me that they say they are innocent. Right? Euthyphro: Right. Socrates: Indeed, they never argue that he who has committed an injustice should not pay the penalty. But they will probably argue over who the unjust person is, what he did, and when. Euthyphro: True. Socrates: Won’t the gods do the same thing if indeed they argue about justice and injustice as you say they do? For it is clear, my good man, that neither gods nor men dare to say that an unjust person should not be punished. 19 Hephaestus is the god of craftsmanship. His name and origin are not Greek, but rather can be traced to the Island of Lemnos, thought to be populated by relatives of the Italian Etruscans. A sexual encounter with Athena led to the birth of Athens’ first king, Erichthonios. Hera was the wife of Zeus and queen of the gods. A great goddess in earlier times, she seems to have become a comic model of jealousy and marital strife in Homer.

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Euthyphro: Yes you are right Socrates, exactly. Socrates: But I think, Euthyphro, that men and gods will argue about the things that were done, if indeed the gods do quarrel. They dispute whether what was done was done justly, or unjustly. Isn’t it so? Euthyphro: Yes indeed. Socrates: Then my friend Euthyphro, I really wish you would teach me, so that I might become wiser. What proof do you have that all the gods think that this man died unjustly? A servant becomes a murderer, is bound by his master’s victim, and then meets his end as a result of his chains before the man who bound him could determine from the exegete what should be done. What proof do you have that the gods also consider it right that, as a result, a son should charge and prosecute his father for murder? I really am looking for a clear demonstration that the gods consider this the right course of action in these circumstances. And if you can demonstrate this sufficiently, I will never stop celebrating your wisdom. Euthyphro: I suspect that this is no small task, Socrates, but I do think I can make it clear to you. Socrates: I see. You think I am thicker than the judges, since it can clearly be shown that these actions are unjust and that all the gods hate these things. Euthyphro: Very clearly, Socrates, if they will listen to what I have to say. Socrates: They will listen if you seem to speak well. But as I was hearing you express your thoughts, I was thinking, “If indeed Euthyphro can clearly show me that all the gods consider this man’s death to be unjust, will I really understand along with Euthyphro, what the holy and the unholy are? This act is hated by the gods, or so it seems. But doesn’t it also seem that an equal number regard it as holy? For it appears that whatever is loved by the gods is also hated by the gods.” And so if you like, Euthyphro, I won’t press you on this, and I will assume that all the gods hate what is unjust. But do we now revise the argument such that all the gods hate what is unholy and that they all love what is holy, but that some love and others hate neither or both? Do we now want to regard the holy and the unholy like this? Euthyphro: What’s to prevent it, Socrates? Socrates: Nothing prevents it, Euthyphro, but see whether you think that you can easily teach me what you promised in this way. Euthyphro: Well I say that all the gods love what is holy and that they all hate its opposite, the unholy. Socrates: Shall we in turn examine whether this is well said Euthyphro? Or will it be enough to accept what we say and what others say, and agree

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that something is so simply because someone says it is? Or should we examine what the speaker says? Euthyphro: We should examine. It seems to me that we are speaking well now. Socrates: Perhaps, my friend, we will come to know better. Now think about this. Is ‘something holy’ holy because it is loved by the gods or is it that they love what is holy? Euthyphro: I don’t know what you are saying, Socrates. Socrates: I’ll try to put it more clearly. We speak of ‘something carried’ and the carrier, ‘something led’ and the leader, ‘something seen’ and the seer. Do you understand the difference in all these cases, and how they differ? Euthyphro: I’m pretty sure I understand. Socrates: So then what about something loved? Is it different from the lover? Euthyphro: How could it not be? Socrates: Tell me then, is ‘something carried’ carried because it is being carried or because of something else? Euthyphro: No, because it is being carried. Socrates: And ‘something led’ is ‘something led’ because it is being led, and ‘something seen’ is ‘something seen’ because it is being seen? Euthyphro: Yes of course. Socrates: It’s not because it is ‘something seen’ that it is a seen thing, but rather that because it is being seen that it is ‘something seen’. Nor is it ‘something led’ because it is a thing that is led, but rather because it is being led. And it is not because it is ‘something carried’ that it is a carried thing, but rather because it is being carried. Is it clear what I want to say Euthyphro? I want to say that when something happens or is affected, it is not because of the thing that happens, but because of the happening. It is not because of the affected thing that it is affected, but because of the affecting, or do you not agree? Euthyphro: I agree. Socrates: Is ‘something loved’ a thing that happens or a thing that is affected? Euthyphro: Yes, of course. Socrates: And so the same thing holds here as in the previous cases. ‘Something loved’ is not loved by those who love it because it is ‘something loved’ but because it is being loved. Euthyphro: Necessarily. Socrates: So what do we say about the holy Euthyphro? According to your thinking isn’t it that which is loved by all the gods?

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Euthyphro: Yes it is. Socrates: And is it because it is holy, or for some other reason? Euthyphro: No that’s the reason. Socrates: It is loved because it is holy isn’t it, not holy because it is loved? Euthyphro: It seems so. Socrates: But it is ‘something loved’ because it is being loved by the gods, yes? And the god-loved is god-loved because it is loved by the gods? Euthyphro: Of course. Socrates: Then the god-loved is not the same as the holy Euthyphro, nor is the holy the same as the god-loved, as you say, but something different. Euthyphro: Why not Socrates? Socrates: Because we agreed that the holy is god-loved because it is holy, but not that it is holy because it is loved by the gods didn’t we? Euthyphro: We did. Socrates: And something is god-loved because it is loved by the gods, and what the gods love is god-loved. It is not being loved because it is god-loved. Euthyphro: You speak the truth. Socrates: But Euthyphro, my friend, if the god-loved and the holy were the same, and if the holy were the god-loved because of being holy, then the god-loved would be god -loved because they love it. But if that which is loved by the gods were god-loved, then the holy would be holy because it is loved. Now see that the opposite holds, and that the holy and the god-loved are completely different from each other. In one case, because it is loved it is lovable, and in the other it is loved because it is lovable. But I am afraid Euthyphro, that when I asked you what the holy is, you didn’t wish to reveal its true nature to me. Instead you gave me a characteristic of it, namely that the holy is loved by all the gods. But what it really is you didn’t say. So if you are a friend, don’t hold back, and tell me completely, from the beginning, what the holy really is. We won’t worry about whether it is loved by all the gods, or whether it has some other characteristic. Say from the heart what the holy and the unholy really are. Euthyphro: But Socrates, I don’t know how to tell you what’s in my mind. Whatever we put forth goes around in circles and doesn’t want to stay where we put it. Socrates: It’s as if you were talking about my ancestor Deadalus,20 Euthyphro. If I had said these things, and put them forth, maybe you would 20

Deadalus was a sculptor, inventor and architect. He is famous for trying to fly by affixing feathers in the form of wings to his arms with wax, and for building a dancing place for Ariadne, the daughter of Minos of the Minotaur’s Labyrinth fame. Deadalus is said to have

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laugh at me, and say that my works in words resemble his. They run away and don’t stay where they are put. But these are your hypotheses. So we need another joke. They don’t want to stay put for you, since it seems that they are yours. Euthyphro: It seems to me that we might need the same joke in this case, Socrates. This going in circles and not staying put was not my doing but yours. d I think you are the Deadalus, for if I had put them, they would stay put. Socrates: I’m afraid, my friend, that I am more clever than him at this skill, since only the things he makes do not stay put, whereas I seem to do this to myself and others. And the most exceptional part of my skill is that I am unwillingly wise. For I would rather have my arguments remain motionless than acquire the wisdom of Deadalus and the wealth of Tantalus.21 But enough e of that. Since it seems to me that you are spoiled, I want to show you how to teach me about the holy. Don’t give up. Look. It seems necessary to you that all that is holy is just. Euthyphro: It is. Socrates: Then is all that is holy just, or is the holy all that is just, or is 12 it that the just is not all of the holy, but some part of the holy, and some part different than it? Euthyphro: I don’t follow your argument, Socrates. Socrates: You are younger than I am to the same extent that you exceed me in wisdom. I am saying that your wealth of wisdom makes you give up. But my blessed one, apply yourself. It is not hard to understand what I am saying. I am saying the opposite of what the poet said when he said:22 Zeus, who made it and made all things grow you do not wish to name; where there is fear there is also shame. copied the plans of a Labyrinth in Egypt, perhaps inspiring claims that he designed the Labyrith itself. His statues were said to be so lifelike that they appeared to move (Diodorus 4.76); Socrates is either referring to their disconcerting realism, or to the fact that they had wheels, and so would move around if they were not secured (Meno 97d). 21 Tantalus was the son of Zeus and Pluto, and the legendary king of Sipylus in Lydia (now modern Turkey). He was extremely wealthy, and was often invited to dine with the gods. He abused this privilege by revealing to mankind secrets he had learned up in heaven. In the afterlife he stood neck deep in water which flowed away every time he tried to drink it, and fruit hung over his head, which drifted away from him each time he tried to eat. Hence the origin of the English word “tantalize” (cf. Homer, Odyssey XI, 582). 22 These lines are from Stasinus’ Kupria, which details events related to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. The Kupria was attributed to Homer by many ancient sources, although this attribution was also questioned. These verses can be found in Stobaeus’ Anthologion III.671.11. (The Latin title of this work is Florilegium).

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I disagree with the poet about this. Shall I tell you why? Euthyphro: Of course. Socrates: I does not seem to me that “where there is fear there is also shame.” I think that many people seem to fear disease and poverty, and many other things, but that they are not ashamed to fear them. Or don’t you think so? Euthyphro: I do. Socrates: But where there is shame there is always fear. Isn’t it the case that if anyone feels shame or embarrassment about doing something, that they also fear and dread a reputation for being bad? Euthyphro: They do fear that. Socrates: Then it is not right to say that “where there is fear there is also shame,” but it is true that where there is shame there is also fear. It’s not that fear is always accompanied by shame, for it seems to me that there exists more fear than shame. Shame is a part of fear just as odd is a part of number, but it isn’t the case that wherever there is number there is always the odd; it is however the case that where there is odd there is always number. Now do you follow? Euthyphro: Yes I do. Socrates: This is sort of what I was asking before, whether where there is the holy there is also justice, and whether where there is justice there is not always the holy, since the holy is a part of justice. Do we say this, or do you think differently? Euthyphro: No, that’s what I think. It seems to me that you speak correctly. Socrates: Let’s see what follows from this. If the holy is a part of justice, then it seems that we must find out what part of justice the holy is. Now if you ask me what part of number the even is and how it happens to be this number, I would say that it is that which is unlike the scalene but like the isosceles, or doesn’t it seem so to you?23 Euthyphro: It does. Socrates: Try and teach me then, what part of justice the holy is, so that we can tell Meletus to stop wronging us and charging us with impiety, since I will have learned from you what piety and holiness are and what they are not. Euthyphro: Well now, Socrates, it seems to me that piety and holiness are that part of justice that involves taking care of the gods, and that the rest 23

This is a rather unusual way to refer to the odd and the even, and does not seem to occur elsewhere (Burnet, 135). Presumably the idea is that an isosceles triangle has two even sides, whereas a scalene triangle does not.

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of justice is the part that involves taking care of men. Socrates: You seem to be speaking well, Euthyphro, but there is just one small thing I need to know. What do you mean by what you call “taking care of”? You don’t mean “taking care of the gods” in the same way as you mean taking care of other things, do you? I mean, we say that not everyone, but only the horseman knows how to take care of horses don’t we? Euthyphro: We do. Socrates: So horse-breeding takes care of horses? Euthyphro: Of course. Socrates: And dog-breeding takes care of dogs? Euthyphro: Yes. Socrates: And cattle-driving takes care of cattle? Euthyphro: Of course. Socrates: And so holiness and piety take care of the gods Euthyphro? Is that what you say? Euthyphro: I do indeed. Socrates: Then “taking care of” works the same in every case? I mean that there is always some good and some benefit provided to what is taken care of. You can see that horses benefit and improve from the care of the horse-breeder. Or doesn’t it seem so to you? Euthyphro: It does indeed. Socrates: And dogs benefit and improve from the care of dog-breeders, and cattle from cattle-breeders, and so with other things. It’s not that taking care of harms what is taken care of, is it? Euthyphro: By Zeus, no! Socrates: Rather it benefits? Euthyphro: It must. Socrates: So if holiness is taking care of the gods, it benefits the gods and improves them. So do you want to say that when you do a holy thing you make the gods better? Euthyphro: By Zeus, not at all! Socrates: Nor do I think you want to say this Euthyphro — far from it. That is why I had to ask what was meant by “taking care of” the gods, since I didn’t think you meant to say this. Euthyphro: And you are right, Socrates, I don’t mean this. Socrates: Fine, but what kind of taking care of the gods will holiness be then? Euthyphro: The kind that resembles slaves taking care of their masters, Socrates. Socrates: I understand. It would seem to be a kind of service to the gods.

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Euthyphro: Yes. Socrates: Tell me then, what end is provided by service to doctors? Isn’t it health? Euthyphro: It is indeed. Socrates: And what end is provided by service to sailors? Euthyphro: Clearly Socrates, it is sailing. Socrates: And to house-builders it is houses? Euthyphro: Yes Socrates: Say, then, O best of men, what end is provided by service to the gods? It is clear that you know, since you say you know divine things better than all men. Euthyphro: And I speak the truth, Socrates. Socrates: Say it then, by god, what is this incomparable end that the gods achieve when we provide this service? Euthyphro: Why, many fine things, Socrates. Socrates: Generals do many fine things also, my friend. But when it comes down to it, you can easily state their primary achievement, namely victory in war. Euthyphro: Of course. Socrates: And it seems to me that farmers do many fine things, but that their primary achievement is procuring food from the land. Euthyphro: Indeed. Socrates: What then, of all things good and fine, do the gods primarily achieve? What is their primary achievement? Euthyphro: I told you a little while ago, Socrates, that it is a much greater task to understand all of these things exactly. However, to put it concisely, to know how to say and do what pleases the gods through sacrifice and prayer is holy, and preserves both private households and the community. And the opposite of what is pleasing to them is impious, and brings nothing but strife and destruction. Socrates: If you wanted to, Euthyphro, you could have addressed the main point of what I asked much more briefly. But you are not interested in teaching me. That much is clear. For you were just about answer me, and then you turned away. Had you answered, I would have sufficiently learned about holiness from you. Well then, let the seeker follow the sought wherever he is led. What do you say the holy and the unholy are? Isn’t it knowledge of prayers and sacrifices? Euthyphro: According to me, yes. Socrates: And sacrificing is giving gifts to the gods and praying is petitioning them?

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Euthyphro: Most certainly, Socrates. Socrates: According to this thinking then, holiness will be knowledge of how to petition and how to give to the gods. Euthyphro: Very good, Socrates. You grasp my meaning. Socrates: Well, I have a thirst for your wisdom, my friend, and I am paying close attention, so that not a drop falls to the floor. So tell me, regarding this service to the gods, you say that it is to petition them and to give to them? Euthyphro: Yes. Socrates: And if we are to petition correctly, we ask for what we need from them? Euthyphro: What else would we request? Socrates: And if we are to give correctly we give to them things they happen to need from us in return? Euthyphro: You speak truly Socrates. Socrates: Then holiness will be a kind of skill in trading between gods and men? Euthyphro: Call it trading if it makes you happy. Socrates: Well, nothing makes me happy if it doesn’t happen to be true. Will you tell me what benefit the gods derive from the gifts that they get from us? What they give is obvious to everyone. In fact, nothing that we have is good that does not come from them. But what benefit do they get from what we give them? Or are we so superior in this trading that we get all the goods from them and give nothing in return? Euthyphro: Really, Socrates, do you suppose that the gods benefit from these things that we give them? Socrates: But what will these things be, Euthyphro, these gifts from us to the gods? Euthyphro: Why, what else could they be, except honor and respect, and the thing I just mentioned, praising them. Socrates: So the holy is praise, Euthyphro, but neither an advantage to the gods nor what they love? Euthyphro: I think that they love it most of all. Socrates: And so, once again, the holy is what the gods love. Euthyphro: Of course. Socrates: Don’t the things you say surprise you, Euthyphro, since these arguments won’t stay put, but move around? You blame me for making them move like Deadalus, but you are much more skillful than Deadalus, for you make them go in a circle. Or doesn’t it seem that our argument has come back

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to the point where it began?24 Remember that we said before that the holy and what the gods loved were not the same but different from one another? Don’t you remember? Euthyphro: I remember. Socrates: Well then, don’t you see that you are now saying that what is loved by the gods is holy? Isn’t this the same as the god-loved? What do you say? Euthyphro: Of course it is. Socrates: Then either we were wrong to agree before, or if it was well said then, we aren’t putting it well now. Euthyphro: So it seems. Socrates: So we must examine what the holy is from the beginning. I, for one, will not give up before I learn what it is. Don’t desert me, but focus all he power of your mind and tell me the truth right now. For you of all men must know. You are a Proteus,25 and I mustn’t let you go before you tell me. For if you didn’t clearly know what is holy and unholy, you wouldn’t try to prosecute your aged father for murder, for the sake of a servant! Unless you thought you were acting rightly, you wouldn’t dare, for fear of the gods and shame in the face of men. So I am sure that you clearly think you know what is holy and what isn’t. Tell me then, great Euthyphro, and don’t hide what you think it is. Euthyphro: Some other time, Socrates. I’m in a hurry. It’s time for me to go. Socrates: How can you do this my friend! How can you leave and utterly destroy any hope I had of learning from you about what is and isn’t holy? I could defend myself against the prosecution of Meletus, showing him that Euthyphro has made me wise in divine matters, and that I do not speak carelessly or innovatively about them through ignorance, and that the life I live would be better from now on . . .

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Plato is fond of saying that the argument has come full circle (cf. Hippias Major 303e, Charmides, 174b, Clitophon 410a). 25 Proteus was a Sea God who in Greek myth lived near the mouth of the Nile in Egypt and served Poseidon. In Homer’s Odyssey, Menelaus is instructed to hold Proteus fast while he changes form a number of times, from a number of animals to water to fire, which he does to try and escape the necessity of prophesying. Only when he exhausts this repertoire of transmogrification and returns to his normal form will he yield the information desired of him (Homer, Odyssey IV, 425 ff.). According to Herodotus, he was a son of Poseidon and king of Egypt, to whose court Helen was taken instead of Troy (Herodotus, Histories, II, 112–113). Plato uses the same image of Proteus in Euthydemus (288b), and Ion (541e).

Apology: Introduction Place and Time The Apology is set in the Spring of 399, immediately after the events of the Euthyphro, and prior to the events of the Crito and Phaedo. Socrates is defending himself in court on charges brought by three men: Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon. We do not possess the text of the legal indictment brought against Socrates. We learn from the Apology that there were three charges against him; and from the Euthyphro we learn the nature of these charges — that Socrates “corrupted” the youth of Athens, did not recognize the traditional gods of the city, and introduced new gods (2a–d, 3b, 5a–b). Socrates’ case was tried by a division of the “popular court” consisting of five hundred (or five hundred and one) jurors, who were citizen volunteers over the age of thirty, and chosen from a list of six thousand. In the sort of suits Socrates faced, Athenian law left it up to the defendant to defend himself, including the calling of witnesses; and neither did the court specify the penalty upon conviction (from this, one can see the value of what the sophists taught, especially the ability to speak well). The accuser or plaintiff, who was at the same time the prosecutor, had to stipulate in his indictment the penalty he thought appropriate. The defendant, if convicted, had the right to propose what he himself thought was the appropriate penalty, the so-called “counterpenalty.” The jurors then had to choose one or the other of the penalties proposed (they could not “split the difference”). We know very little about Socrates’ three accusers. The dialogue itself simply informs us that they each indicted Socrates “on behalf of” different interests in the city: Meletus on behalf of the poets, Anytus on behalf of the craftsmen and politicians, and Lycon on behalf of the orators. The Euthyphro describes Meletus as a “young and unknown” man, with “long straight hair, not much of a beard, and a hook-nose.” He may have been a poet of some sort, though it is more likely that he was the son of a poet, also named Meletus. 91

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Anytus came from a well-to-do family whose fortune had been made in the tannery business, hence perhaps his connection to the craftsmen. He served as general in 409, went into exile with other members of the democratic faction during the brief reign of the Thirty in 404–03, and resurfaced as one of the moderate leaders of the democratic faction after the fall of the Thirty. We know nothing about Lycon apart from what we are told about him in the dialogue itself. The recent reign of the Thirty (or “Thirty Tyrants”) is important to keep in mind when thinking about the possible motivations behind the prosecution of Socrates. After the defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War, Sparta abolished the Athenian democracy and instituted a friendly oligarchical regime headed by a board of thirty members. The most prominent of the Thirty was Critias. He was an outspoken atheist, a brilliant intellectual and author, antidemocratic, and an admirer of Sparta. He was in addition a brutal leader, ordering the confiscation of property and the execution of purported enemies of the state by the hundreds. He also happened to be a follower of Socrates and a relative of Plato’s. After the terror and chaotic reign of the Thirty came to an end in 403, and while democracy was being restored, the Spartans persuaded the Athenians to provide amnesty (the first in recorded history) to all involved with or connected to the Thirty, other than the Thirty themselves and their chief officers. Due to this amnesty, anyone wishing to get at Socrates for the behavior of Critias had to do so by circumlocutory means.

Socrates Socrates was born in Athens in 469. He was the son of Sophroniscus and Phaenarete, and a member of the deme of Alopece.1 Although he appears in Plato’s (as well as Xenophon’s) dialogues as poor, he must have possessed enough property at some point to qualify as a hoplite, or “heavy infantryman,” who had to outfit himself in full armor and weaponry at his own cost. His participation with honor in several major battles was about the extent of his public service. The only other example we know of, mentioned here in this dialogue, was his service (determined by lot) as a presiding officer (or prytanis) of the Athenian Assembly. Socrates himself though, as he claims in this defence, believed he had performed a tremendous amount of public service, albeit of a different sort. 1

A deme was a kind of neighborhood bound by a patriarchal family tie. It was frequently the basis of political districting as well as various communal functions. They were established by Cleisthenes in 507.

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His service to the city was to be, as he says, like a gadfly to a sluggish horse, perpetually goading it on toward excellence and virtue (aret¯e ). This goading was achieved by engaging anyone he met, no matter of what profession or status, in a dialogue of question and answer about what they thought was good or right, just or virtuous. On the one hand, this conversation repeatedly left the person he was questioning at a loss for words, frustrated, or shown to have no coherent definition, argument or reasoning about the topic at hand. On the other hand, he attracted many followers by doing this, especially young men like Plato. These followers formed more of an entourage (or maybe coterie) than any sort of student body or disciples in a religious sense. This “service” of Socrates seemed very much in line with what the sophists were doing at the time, which was to educate the young men of the Athenian elite in the art of rhetoric and persuasion, as well as other topics. Like the sophists, Socrates engendered resentment from different quarters, especially from those parents whose children were following him. Unlike the sophists, however, Socrates never charged a fee for his “services.”

Argumentum Plato’s Apology is a series of three speeches with breaks assumed in between. The first, and by far the longest of the three speeches, runs from 17a–35d. This is the defence proper, and Socrates proceeds to answer two sets of charges: those of the “old accusers,” and those of Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon. The “old accusers” are not specific people, but stand in for the public reputation Socrates has acquired. Socrates says that his reputation is more dangerous to him than the people who brought him into court, and casts this reputation as if it were an indictment: Socrates is guilty of wrongdoing in that (i) he busies himself studying things in the sky and below the earth, (ii) he makes the worse into the stronger argument, and (iii) he teaches these same things to others. The first charge (i) of these “old accusers” is that Socrates is engaged in speculation about the natural world, which is to say Socrates is a natural philosopher. This amounts to a charge of atheism, because speculating about the nature is tightly linked to the conviction that natural processes, not gods, underpin the natural world. Socrates answers this charge by pointing out that he does not engage in natural philosophy, and nobody in the court steps forward to contradict him. Socrates does not address the second charge (ii) directly. In answer to the third charge (iii), that Socrates teaches others, Socrates claims that while he

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thinks teaching virtue in exchange for money may be a fine thing, he does not have any knowledge of virtue, and does not charge anyone for discussing virtue with him. After disposing of the imagined charges of the “old accusers,” Socrates moves to a consideration of the formal accusations levied against him, that: (i) he corrupts the youth; (ii) he does not believe in the gods of the city; and (iii) he believes in other new gods. Socrates responds to these charges with a formal cross-examination of Meletus, during which Socrates argues that Meletus is dealing frivolously with serious matters, has irresponsibly brought Socrates into court, and is professing to be serious about things he doesn’t really care about. Socrates’ treatment of Meletus might strike the modern reader as odd. After all, Socrates’ cross-examination of Meletus does not seem to address the charges directly. But this is not necessary. In our own legal system, the criminal charge and evidence are separate: the charge is fixed by law (you are charged with stealing, or murder, and so on), and evidence and witnesses are produced to substantiate the charge. In the Athenian courts, the charge is not fixed by law but rather by the prosecutor, and so the task of the defendant is to show that he is not guilty of whatever the prosecutor means by the charges. Socrates is doing exactly what he should be doing: undermining Meletus’ credibility. Having dealt with both the “old accusers” and the formal charges, Socrates ends the first speech describing his mission to Athens. This is the “public service” previously mentioned. Socrates thinks the Athenians are rushing through life, focussed on material goods, and it is his purpose to get the Athenians to concern themselves with the best possible state of their souls. According to Socrates, this mission was given to him by the god of the Oracle (Apollo), and he makes it clear that he will not abandon this work, regardless of the orders of the jury (29c–e). The second speech runs from 35d–38b, and comprises Socrates’ counterpenalty. At this point in the trial, the prosecutor has already proposed a penalty (in this case, death), and the defendant must propose an alternative. Socrates’ initial proposal is that he get what he deserves for carrying out his mission as given to him by the god: maintenance in the Prytaneum, like an Olympic victor. But his friends eventually persuade him to offer thirty minae.2 Needless 2

It is difficult to gauge the value of 30 minae in our own currency, and there is some debate about how to calculate relative values. But since a mina is about a pound of silver, and a pound of silver at the time of writing is worth about $320, Socrates may have suggested a counterpenalty of about $9600. (Cf. Michael Vickers, “Golden Greece: Relative Values, Minae, and Temple Inventories,” American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 94, No. 4, Oct. 1990, p. 613–25).

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to say, this did not impress the judges: more vote to put Socrates to death than vote to convict Socrates in the first place. In other words, some who voted for Socrates’ release also voted to put Socrates to death. This is presumably because, in part, they thought Socrates, now convicted, did not propose a tough enough penalty for himself. And perhaps some thought Socrates did not take the counterpenalty process seriously. Socrates’ third speech runs from 38b–42a. Here, Socrates addresses the “judges” — a term he reserves only for those who voted not to condemn him (the rest of the time, he addresses the jury in its entirety as “Athenians”; this is a mild insult, because by referring to the jury as “Athenians,” Socrates refuses to recognize their position as “judges”). Socrates claims the he is certain he will suffer no evil in death, and that death will likely either be like a dreamless sleep, or he will get the chance to converse with the Homeric heroes.

Character, Prophecy, Irony Character. Does Plato’s Apology offer an accurate portrayal of Socrates? Up until the nineteenth century, Xenophon’s3 portrayal of Socrates in his version of the Apology — one which makes him seem more everyday and avuncular — has been taken to be just as accurate, or even more accurate, than Plato’s. Does Plato make Socrates come out to be more eloquent, more funny, more interesting, more innocent than he actually was? If so, what would Plato’s reasons be for this? Why do we prefer Plato’s version over Xenophon’s today? Questions also arise concerning the historical accuracy of the speech itself. The Greeks held a different conception of reporting than we do: we are concerned with word-for-word accuracy, whereas they were more interested in what the subject of the reporting would have or must have said, given their character and the circumstances involved. Does this difference matter in determining what someone was really like — in this case, Socrates? Is it possible ever to obtain an accurate picture of Socrates and what he said? Prophecy. Throughout history people have made comparisons between Socrates and the prophets of the Abrahamic traditions. Like them, for example, Socrates claims to be on a divine mission — but Socrates’ mission is from 3

Xenophon (430–354) was another associate of Socrates in his youth. After the reign of the Thirty he left Athens and joined the Greek mercenary army of Cyrus, who attempted but failed to overthrow his brother, the King of Persia. His tale of his journey back home from Mesopotamia is famously retold in his Anabasis. Xenophon was later formally exiled from Athens for his support of Sparta, and lived out his life near Olympia. He wrote several Socratic dialogues, including an Apology, as well as works on history, a proto-novel (the Cyropedia), and works on military and domestic affairs.

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Apollo, and it is to make the Athenians virtuous. He makes reference to divine signs or entities, utters prophecies, and is persecuted by the very people he is meaning to help. Are such comparisons apt? If so, are Socrates and those prophets treated the same, or differently, by us today? Or instead, does Socrates have a fundamentally different “project” from them? If this is case, what makes these “projects” different? Irony. One of Socrates’ traits that appears in the Apology, and also throughout Plato’s other dialogues where Socrates is the principal character, is his use of irony. This irony manifests itself as a profession of ignorance, and typically results in impertinent comparisons, making his interlocutors seem clueless or idiotic, or forcing them to admit to absurd positions. Does Socrates take what he says seriously when he is being ironic? Is this irony innocent, simply a part of who he is? Or, as he is frequently accused of doing, is he being a “jerk,” just messing with his opponents or trying to make them out to be fools in public?

Apology I I do not know, Athenians, how you have been affected by my accusers. But they certainly made me almost forget about myself: they spoke so persuasively. And yet they have said hardly anything true. I was amazed in particular by one of their many lies: when they urged you to be on your guard lest my clever speaking deceives you. Their lack of shame before their imminent refutation by my actual performance — when I appear in no way whatever clever at speaking — struck me as the very height of their shamelessness, unless of course they call “clever” any speaker who speaks the truth. If that were in fact what they mean, I would agree that I am an orator not after their own fashion. They, as I allege, have said little or nothing true. From me, on the other hand, you will hear nothing but the truth: not, by god, Athenians, speeches carefully crafted of words and expressions or carefully arranged like theirs, but you will hear things said as they occur to me and in plain words — for I believe that what I say is just, and let no one expect otherwise. For, surely, gentlemen, it would not be fitting for a man of my age to appear before you crafting speeches like an adolescent. Furthermore, Athenians, I beg your favour in this: Do not be surprised nor make a disturbance if you hear me defending myself here with the same sorts of arguments as I habitually use either in the marketplace at the stalls1 — where many of you have heard me, or in other places. The fact is that this is the first time, in seventy years of life, that I have appeared in a court case, and hence the language of this place is utterly foreign to me. Therefore, just as you would naturally make allowances, if I were really a foreigner, for 1 The marketplace, or agora in Greek, below the Acropolis in Athens, was a favorite haunt of Socrates. The closest modern equivalent would be that of an outdoor shopping mall. There he would discuss his ideas with average Athenians, as well as those of higher reputation. Euthyphro, however, claims that Socrates’ usual haunt is the Lyceum, the sports center that later became the site of Aristotle’s school in Athens (Euthyphro 2a).

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my speaking in the dialect and manner in which I was brought up, so now I make a request of you, and a fair one, I think, that you pay no attention to my style of speaking — that might be better or might be worse — and focus on and attend to this one thing, whether or not what I say is just. For that is the distinctive quality of a judge, while that of an orator is to speak the truth. It is appropriate, Athenians, that I defend myself first against the first set of false charges against me and the first set of accusers, and then go on against the later charges and later accusers. For there have been many people, stretching back many years now, who have been accusing me to you but never telling you anything true. I fear these people more than I fear Anytus’ circle,2 though they too are dangerous. But those are to be feared more who got hold of many of you ever since you were children, and managed to convince you of their accusations against me though none of them was true: that there is this Socrates, a wise man, who investigates things both above and below the earth and who makes the weaker argument the stronger.3 These people are my dangerous accusers, Athenians, who have fabricated this rumor about me. For those who listen to them believe that the investigators of such topics do not believe even in god. Again, these accusers are numerous, and have been making their accusations for a long time now and during which you were of an age to believe them most readily — some of you being boys and some youths — and so they have won their case utterly by default, since there was no one there to defend me. But the most absurd thing of them all is that one cannot even know to tell their names, unless one of them happens to be a comedy-writer.4 Those who used malicious slander to persuade you, and those 2

Anytus (b. ca. 440) of Euonymon (a deme south of Athens) was a prominent Athenian politician and a wealthy heir to a tannery. Anytus had himself been prosecuted in 409 for failures as a general in the war against Sparta, and he allegedly escaped punishment by bribing the jury. He later supported the moderates among the Thirty Tyrants (for more information, see the Introduction, p. 92), but was banished by the extremists. He then helped the general Thrasybulus overthrow the Thirty in 403 and became a leading politician in the restored democracy. In the Meno, Anytus is passionately opposed to sophists (Meno 90a–95a). He prefers a more traditional approach to education where good gentlemen are molded by association with the previous generation of good gentlemen. Anytus’ circle here refers to the principal accusers of Socrates, who are named below at 23e. 3 This charge is the only place, other than in Aristophanes’ Clouds, where it is claimed that Socrates investigated natural phenomena. All other evidence suggests that Socrates was concerned only with moral issues. The second charge is likely based on the fact that Socrates never, as far as we can tell, asserted any positions of his own. Instead, he frustrated his opponents by upending their arguments and showed they could not defend their views coherently. An example of this occurs when he cross-examines Meletus below. Other examples abound in the early dialogues of Plato. One can see how this could create a lot of enemies. 4 An allusion to the famous comedian Aristophanes, mentioned above, and whom Socrates

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who, having been convinced themselves, tried to persuade others, all these people are very hard to deal with. For it is impossible to bring any of them in here and cross-examine them; instead, one must simply conduct his defence like shadowboxing and cross-examine with no one answering. Do, then, see fit yourselves to make, as I suggest, two sets of my accusers: those, on the one hand, who accused me just recently and, on the other, those who did, as I claim, a long time ago. You must, moreover, look with favor on my defending myself against the old accusers first. For, after all, you heard them accusing me before you heard my recent accusers, and for a much longer time. Let that be as it may. I must now make my defence, Athenians, and attempt to remove from you in a little time that prejudice which you have acquired over a long time. I should like to succeed in my attempt — if it is better both for you and for me — and to accomplish something by my defence. I do know, however, that the task is difficult; its nature certainly does not escape my notice. Still, let that be as pleases god, while I must obey the law and make my defence. Let us then take up from the beginning the accusations from which the slanders against me have arisen and belief in which led Meletus5 to indict me on the present charges. Well, what did the slanderers say in slander? Here I must pretend to read their “affidavit of prosecution”: “Socrates is guilty of injustice in that he meddles in investigations of things below the earth and in the sky, and he makes the weaker argument into the stronger, and he teaches others these same things.” Something like this is the accusation. You yourselves have, in fact, seen this sort of thing in Aristophanes’ comedy,6 a certain Socrates being carried about the stage, claiming that he walks on air and talking a great deal of nonsense on subjects about which I myself know nothing great or small. I say these things not with the intention of insulting this sort of knowledge, if someone in fact possesses it. I just wish that I should is going to mention by name shortly (cf. n. 6). 5 Meletus (b. ca. 429) brought charges against Socrates on behalf of the poets. It is thought that his father of the same name, who is mentioned in Aristophanes’ Frogs and Farmers, was a poet, but that Meletus was not. This would be consistent with the idea that he is a young unknown trying to establish himself on the political scene by going after Socrates. Meletus is from the deme of Pitthos (the location of which is unknown). Cf. Euthyphro 2b. 6 Aristophanes (ca. 450–386) was Athens’ most celebrated comic playwright and gives a famous account of love in Plato’s Symposium (189a ff.). Forty-four plays were attributed to Aristophanes in antiquity, but only eleven survive along with 976 fragments. When the Sicilian tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius, asked Plato to send him an assessment of the Athenian Constitution, Plato supposedly sent him copies of Aristophanes’ plays. In his comedy Clouds (produced for the first time in 423, and staged again in 415), Aristophanes portrays Socrates as someone who studies “things up in the sky” and who makes “the weaker argument stronger.”

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not have to face prosecution by Meletus on such charges. For, really, Athenians, I have nothing to do with such matters. As my witnesses, I offer most of you. I think it appropriate that those of you who have heard me conversing — and plenty of you have — should inform one another whether any one of you has ever heard me discuss any aspect, great or small, of such matters. You will discover from this exercise that all the other things the multitude says about me are of the same sort. In fact, there is nothing to these allegations or to the one you might have heard that I try to teach people and charge a fee for it. That is not true either. Such an activity seems to me, again, to be a fine thing, if one were capable of instructing people, as are Gorgias of Leontini, Prodicus of Chios, and Hippias of Elis.7 Each of these men, gentlemen, is able to enter any given city and convince its youth, who are free to associate, for no charge at all, with any of their own fellow-citizens they like, to leave the company of their fellow-citizens in favor of his, for a fee, and to be grateful besides. I say this because I have come to realize that there is another wise man, from Paros,8 visiting our city. I happened to be visiting with someone who has spent more money on itinerant teachers than all other men combined: Callias son of Hipponicus.9 I was asking 7

Gorgias (ca. 480 – ca. 375) was a phenomenally influential orator from Sicily who gave rhetorical demonstrations and lessons throughout Greece, including Athens and Thessaly. Unlike other famous traveling teachers, he did not claim to teach virtue. In Plato’s Gorgias, Socrates debates the value of philosophy and rhetoric with Gorgias and two of his pupils. Leontini was a Greek colony in Sicily founded by Naxos (cf. 29, n. 2). Prodicus (c. 470 – after 400) was a sophist and a contemporary of Socrates. He repeatedly visited Athens as an ambassador from his native country. The applause which his speeches gained there induced him to come forward as a rhetorician. In his lectures on literary style he laid chief stress on the right use of words and the accurate discrimination between synonyms, and thereby paved the way for the dialectic discussions of Socrates (cf. Euthydemus 277a ff.; Cratylus 384a ff.; Charmides 163a ff.). None of his lectures have come down to us in its original form. We have the substance only of his celebrated fable the Choice of Heracles, preserved by Xenophon (Memorabilia II, 21-34). Chios is an island 7 km off the present day Turkish coast, between Lesbos to the north and Samos to the south (cf. Meno 70b). Hippias (ca. 470–399) is the subject of two dialogues attributed to Plato, although their authenticity has been questioned. He served as Elis’s ambassador to Sparta and had a reputation for being a polymath. Elis is an ancient district in the southern Peloponnese. 8 Paros is a Greek island in the Cyclades, west of the island of Naxos in the North Aegean. 9 Callias (b. ca. 450) of Alopece is from Socates’ deme. As the text indicates he spent a great deal of money on sophists. His father was heralded as the richest man in Greece, wealth that Callias inherited. This wealth was generated in large part from the silver mines near Cape Sounion, east of Athens. Callias was well connected politically; he was related to Pericles through his mother and to Plato by marriage. The dramatic setting for Plato’s Protagoras is the house of Callias. His financial dealings and various scandals were targets for comic playwrights.

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him — since he has two sons — “Callias,” I said, “if your two sons had been colts or calves, we should have been able to hire and put in charge of them someone who would make them fine and good in the appropriate virtues, and this man would be an expert in horse-husbandry or in farming. But as it is, since they are human beings, whom do you intend to put in charge of them? What man has knowledge of this sort of virtue, of the human and political virtue? I am sure that you have thought about this because you have children. Is there someone,” I said, “or not”? “There is, indeed,” he said. “Who,” I asked, “where does he come from, and what’s his teaching fee”? “Evenus,” he replied, “from Paros, five minae.”10 I thought Evenus blessed, if in fact he possessed this skill and teaches it for so modest an amount. For my part, at any rate, I would be preening myself if I possessed knowledge of this sort. However, Athenians, I do not. Perhaps one of you may interrupt at this point: “But, Socrates, what is it about you? Where have these slanders come from? There could not have been so much talk and so many rumors about you with you doing nothing out of the ordinary, but only if you behaved differently than most people. So, you tell us what’s going on, so that we do not make up stories about you.” I do think that the speaker is right about this, and I will try to show you what might have given rise to my reputation and the slanders. Please pay attention. Though I might appear to some of you to be joking, rest assured that I would tell you nothing but the truth. I have come to have the reputation in question, Athenians, because of nothing else but a certain kind of wisdom. What kind of wisdom? The one that is perhaps human wisdom; for, really, I am probably wise in this wisdom.11 The men I mentioned a little earlier are perhaps wise in a kind of wisdom greater than the human kind or else I don’t know what. In any case, I certainly have no knowledge of it, and anyone who claims that I do is uttering a falsehood and with the intention of discrediting me. Please, Athenians, do not heckle, not even if I appear to be boasting. For I am not myself the author of what I am going to say. I will refer you to the author, and one you can trust. I give you the god at Delphi12 as witness to my wisdom — 10

Evenus (late 5th c.) was reputed to be very learned, a rhetorician, and an itinerant teacher. Fragments of his poetry survive. He is also mentioned in the Phaedo (60d ff.). A mina is a measure of currency equal to 100 drachma. Although estimates vary, a drachma can be considered as the daily wage for a worker or foot soldier. Five minae would then be about sixteen months wages. To a rich man like Callias this is not much money, whereas to Socrates it is presumably a lot. Cf. p. 94, n. 2. 11 The Greek term here for “wisdom” is sophia. The term Plato uses in later dialogues (as well as Aristotle, the Stoics, Epicureans and others) to denote the kind of practical and moral intelligence that Socrates embodied and was concerned about is phron¯esis. 12 Delphi began to be an internationally renowned sanctuary and oracle in the 8th c. It

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if indeed it is a kind of wisdom, and such as it may be. You probably know about Chaerephon.13 He was a friend of mine from youth. He was also a friend to your democratic faction and who went into exile and returned from it along with the rest of you. In any case, you know the kind of person he was, how passionate in whatever he undertook. Well, on one occasion, when he was visiting Delphi, he dared put this question to the Oracle — please, gentlemen, as I asked you before, do not heckle! — he asked whether there was any one wiser than me. Well, the Pythia replied that no one was wiser. To all this his brother over here may testify, since Chaerephon himself is now dead. Bear in mind why I bring up this point: namely, because I mean to explain to you how the slanders against me have come about. When I heard the oracle, I thought to myself along these lines: “What on earth does the god mean? What on earth is the answer to his riddle? I am not conscious myself of being wise in anything, great or small. What, on earth, does he mean then when he says that I am the wisest? It cannot be that the god is lying, as it is not proper for a god to lie.” For a long time I was at a loss as to the god’s meaning, but afterwards I took, with great reluctance, some such route in searching for it: I went to see someone reputed to be wise, thinking that here, if anywhere, I should be able to contradict the Oracle and declare against its answer, “This man here is wiser than me, while you said that I was.” But in looking him over — there is no need for me to mention his name, but I was examining one of the politicians when I had this experience — and in conversing with him, I formed the opinion that this man appeared to be wise to many other people and especially to himself, but in fact he was not. Subsequently I tried to show him that he merely thought he was wise while in fact he was not. This led the man himself and many of those present to start disliking me. But, as I went away, I kept thinking that I was indeed wiser than this man. For, though it is likely that neither of us knew anything fine or good, he thought he knew when he did not, whereas I, just as I did not know, did not think I did. So, I appeared to be wiser than him with respect to something small, this very housed a shrine in which a prophetess, the Pythia, spoke the will of Apollo in response to questions from visiting petitioners. The Delphic Oracle operated for a limited number of days over nine months of the year, and demand for her services was so high that the operators of the sanctuary rewarded generous contributors with the privilege of jumping to the head of the line. The great majority of visitors to Delphi consulted the Oracle about personal matters such as marriage and having children. Greeks hoping to found a colony felt they had to secure the approval of the Delphic Oracle first. 13 Chaerephon (b. ca. 469) of Sphettus, consulted the Delphic Oracle and was told that no man was wiser than Socrates. He was exiled from Athens by the Thirty Tyrants, but returned in 403, and died before Socrates trial in 399. He is Socrates’ companion in Aristophanes’ Clouds 502ff., and appears in the Wasps 1388ff., and Birds 1552ff.

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point, that I did not claim to know the things I did not know! From this man I moved on to another of those reputed to be wiser. Again, I formed the same opinion, which led that man himself and many others to start disliking me. After this I went in turn from one man to another, painfully and fearfully sensing, on the one hand, that I was being disliked and yet, on the other, thinking that I must set the greatest store by the business of the god. Accordingly, in considering the meaning of the Oracle’s answer, I had to approach everyone of those reputed to know something. And, by the Dog, Athenians — for I must speak the truth to you — this was indeed my experience: as I searched at the behest of the god, those who had the highest reputation struck me as being almost the most deficient, while those thought to be of less importance appeared superior in respect of common sense. I ought to explain to you all the wanderings my quest led me to, after the fashion of someone undertaking labors,14 so that the oracle did not go untested. After the politicians, I approached the poets — those who composed tragedies, and dithyrambs, and the rest of them — thinking that here I would apprehend myself in the very act of being more ignorant than they.15 So, taking up those works of theirs which struck me as having been more meticulously labored over, I would ask them what they meant, with a view also to learning something myself. I am embarrassed to tell you the truth, gentlemen, but it must be told. Almost any one of the bystanders, one might say, would have spoken better than the poets themselves on the very subjects about which they had themselves written. So, I soon realised, in the case of the poets as well, that they composed their poems by virtue not of wisdom but of some sort of natural gift, and under divine possession, just like seers and oracle-givers. For they, too, say many fine things, but know nothing of the things they utter.16 Something like this seemed to me to have befallen the poets too. At the same time, I also noticed that they considered themselves to be, by reason of their possessing the poetic art, the wisest of men on other subjects too, subjects they knew 14 Socrates is probably comparing his quest to the Labors of Heracles/Hercules. Through this series of twelve labors, Heracles was transformed in status from a mortal hero to an immortal god. Cf. p. 75, n. 8. 15 Socrates was purported to be friends with Euripides, the tragic playwright. In the Clouds, Aristophanes portrays Socrates as having helped Euripides with a play. 16 Socrates makes a similar remark about the divine inspiration of poets at Meno 99c–d. It was likely for this reason that Plato, as well as other philosophers like Xenophanes, were wary of poets (and artists in general), as famously seen in the Republic. If their art is essentially “irrational,” then the general public will be “infected” by this irrationality when they encounter or imitate this art. Variations of this position occur today, when people argue that certain kinds of music, movies, or games have a deleterious effect on the culture, or encourage violent and anti-social behavior.

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nothing about. So I came away from the poets thinking that I was superior to them in precisely the same respect as I was superior to the politicians. Finally I approached the hand-craftsmen, conscious of my own virtual ignorance but fully expecting to find them knowledgeable on many fine things. In this I was not mistaken, as they did know things I did not know and in this regard they were wiser than me. However, Athenians, the good craftsmen also struck me as possessing the same flaw as the poets: because of their fine accomplishments in their craft, each one of them claimed to be wisest also in other, and indeed the most important, matters. This flaw of theirs, furthermore, tended to overshadow their real wisdom. The upshot of this was that I queried myself, on behalf of the Oracle’s answer, whether I would choose to be the way I am — that is, neither wise after their wisdom nor ignorant after their ignorance — or to be in both respects as they are. I replied to myself and the oracle that I was better off being the way I am. As a result of this inquiry, Athenians, many enmities, of the most painful and grave kind, have developed against me and which have been the source of many slanders and of my acquiring the name of “wise.” For, on each occasion, the bystanders believe that I am myself wise in those subjects in which I refute someone else, though the probability is, Athenians, that in fact the god is wise and that he means to suggest, by the Oracle’s answer, that human wisdom is worth little or nothing. And, in saying that Socrates is wise and in using my name as well, he appears to be making an example out of me, as if he were saying, “O mortals, he is wisest among you who, like Socrates, has come to realise that he really is worth nothing in respect of wisdom.” Thus, I am still even now going around, searching and examining, on behalf of the god, anyone, resident or visitor, who I believe is wise. And when he appears to me not to be so, I demonstrate, coming to the god’s aid, that he is not wise. Being so preoccupied, I have had no spare time to devote to either civic or household matters of any importance, and so I am in abject poverty on account of my service to the god. In addition, the young men who choose to follow me around, those with the most spare time — the sons of the wealthiest — take pleasure in listening to those being questioned, and they often imitate me, trying in consequence to test others.17 Subsequently, they discover, I suppose, an abundance of men who think that they know something important when in fact they know little or nothing. The result is that those tested by these young people are then upset with me, not with themselves, and allege that a certain Socrates is a most foul 17

Plato himself was one of these “young men.” Socrates lists the members of his “entourage” below at 33d–34b.

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individual in that he corrupts the young men. But when someone asks them by doing or teaching what does he corrupt them, they have nothing to say and they do not know, though, in order not to appear at a loss, they bring forth allegations that lie ready to hand against all philosophers: the bit about “the things in the sky and below the earth,” or the “not believing in gods” or the “making the weaker argument into the stronger.” They would not wish to tell the truth, I suppose, because they would then be found out to be pretending to know while knowing nothing. Being, I think, concerned with their public image, but also hot-tempered and numerous, and speaking about me vigorously and persuasively, these people have long filled your ears forcefully with slanders. That’s what motivated the attack against me by Meletus, Anytus and Lycon:18 Meletus is vexed on behalf of the poets, Anytus on behalf of the politicians and craftsmen, Lycon on behalf of the rhetoricians. In consequence, I would be really amazed if, as I said at the beginning of my speech, I were able in so short a time to wipe from your minds this slander that has grown so big. You now have the truth, Athenians, as I speak without hiding from you anything great or small or prevaricating. And yet I know very well that by so doing I am making myself disliked; which is also evidence that I am speaking the truth, that this is indeed the prejudice against me, and that these are its causes. Whether you inquire into them now or on another occasion, you will find that things are as I claim. Let the foregoing be a sufficient defence against the charges brought against me by the first set of accusers. I shall next try to defend myself against Meletus — the “decent and patriotic,” as he calls himself — and the later accusers. Let us, once again, take their own affidavit, as if they were a different set of accusers. It goes something like this: “Socrates commits an offence in that he corrupts the youth and does not accept the gods the city accepts, but other new divinities.”19 This is the complaint. Let us now examine each of its parts. He alleges that I offend by corrupting the youth. But I, Athenians, charge Meletus himself with the offense of making trifles of serious matters, by lightly bringing people into court and by pretending to be devoted to and protective 18

See the introduction for information on Socrates’ accusers, p. 91. The charge of atheism, or of worshiping new divinities, likely arose in part due to Socrates’ repeated explicit reference to his daimon or daimonion, which stopped him from doing something he should not do. However, it never told him what he should do (cf. 31d). One could interpret this daimon (treated as an actual entity that could be good or evil in ancient Greece), or “divine sign,” as a personalisation or externalisation of his conscience. By all appearances though, Socrates took it to be something real and external to him. One can also see it as a precursor to the conception of a “guardian angel.” Regarding atheism, Socrates’ repeated challenges to traditional civic and religious morality probably did not help much either (cf. Euthyphro 3b, Apology 31d). 19

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of matters that he never cared about at all. I’ll try to prove to you that this is so. Come now, Meletus, tell me: Don’t you yourself place great importance on our youth becoming as good as possible? — Yes, I do. Come now, tell these gentlemen, who is it that makes them better? It is obvious that you know, seeing that you care about them. You have found out the person who corrupts them, as you allege, and so you bring me in here under indictment. But, come now and inform them also who it was that makes them better. You notice, don’t you, Meletus, that you are silent and have nothing to say? But doesn’t that strike you as shameful and as sufficient evidence for what I claim, that you have not cared at all? So answer, my good fellow, who makes them better? — The laws. My excellent fellow, I am not asking about that, but about the person, whoever he is and who may well be acquainted in the first place with the laws. — These men here, Socrates, the judges. What do you mean, Meletus? That these men are able to educate our youth and make them better? — Certainly. Do you mean all of them, or that some are while others are not? — All of them. Well said, by Hera.20 What an overabundance of benefactors! But how about this? Do the members of the audience in court make our youth better or not? — Yes, they too. What about the members of the state council? — Yes, the state councilors too. But then, Meletus, could it be that the members of the Assembly corrupt our youth? Or is it that they, too, to a man, make our youth better? — Yes, they too. It follows, it would seem, that all Athenians make them better except for me, and I alone corrupt them. Is that what you are saying? — Most certainly, it is. You have condemned me to a great misfortune! At any rate, answer me this: Do you believe that the same is true in the case of horses; namely, while they have the entire race of men as their benefactors, they have only a single individual as their corruptor? Or is the exact opposite true, that the ability 20

Hera was the wife of Zeus and queen of the gods. A great goddess in earlier times, she seems to become a model of jealousy and marital strife in Homer.

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to make horses better is found in just a single man, or in very few, the horsetrainers, while the great multitude of men, whenever they come in contact with and use horses, tend to harm them? Is this not true, Meletus, not only with horses but with all other animals? Of course it is, regardless of whether you or Anytus agree or disagree. Our young people would be extremely fortunate if only a single person corrupted them while everyone else benefited them! Well, Meletus, you are giving an adequate demonstration that you have never cared about our youth; furthermore, you are revealing plainly your own indifference in that you have not given any thought at all to the items for which you bring me to court. Again, Meletus, answer me this, for Zeus’ sake: Which is better, to live among decent or among wicked people? Answer me, my good fellow. I am not asking you a hard question. Is it not true that wicked people do some harm while decent people do some good to those they associate with? — To be sure. Is there anyone, then, who wishes to be harmed by those he associates with rather than be benefited by them? Answer me, my good fellow. After all, the law requires you to answer. Is there anyone who wishes to be harmed? — Definitely not. All right. Now, in bringing me here to court as someone who corrupts the youth and makes them worse, do you mean that I do so intentionally or unintentionally? — Intentionally, I say. How come, Meletus? Are you, at your age, so much wiser than I am, at my age, that you, on the one hand, have come to realise that evil people do harm and good people do good to their close associates, while I, on the other, have reached such a depth of ignorance that I do not know even this, that if I turn someone of my associates into a villain, I then run the risk of being harmed by him, and so I do this great harm to the youth, as you claim, intentionally? I do not believe you, Meletus, nor does, I imagine, any one else. On the contrary, either I do not corrupt or, if I do, I do so unintentionally. In either case, you are wrong. But if I corrupt unintentionally, it is not the law to bring people to court for such unintentional offences, but rather to approach them in private and try to instruct and admonish them. For it is obvious that if I am told about it, I will stop doing whatever it is I do unintentionally. You, however, did not wish to approach me and instruct me but shunned me; and now you bring me to court where the norm is to bring those in need of punishment, not of instruction. At any rate, men of Athens, it is by now obvious, what I was claiming, that Meletus has never cared much or little about these matters. But still, do

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tell us, Meletus, in what way do you think I corrupt the youth? Is it, as it is apparent from your indictment, by my teaching them not to accept the gods accepted by the city, but other new divinities? Don’t you claim that I corrupt them by teaching them these things? — Most definitely that’s what I am claiming. In the name of the very divinities we are now talking about, Meletus, explain still more clearly to me and to the judges. For I cannot understand what you mean. Do you mean that I teach them to accept some divinities (in which case, I do myself accept the existence of divinities and, hence, I am in no way an atheist and do not offend in this way), though not those accepted by the city but different from them, and that this is your charge against me, that they are different? Or do you mean that I both do not myself accept the existence of divinities altogether and teach this to others? That’s what I say, that you do not accept divinities altogether. Why do you say this, my strange Meletus? Do I not myself believe, like the rest of humankind, that the sun and the moon are gods? — No, by Zeus, gentlemen judges, since he says that the sun is a rock and the moon just earth! Do you think that you are accusing Anaxagoras,21 my friend Meletus? Do you have such a low opinion of these men and think them so unversed in letters so as not to know that the books of Anaxagoras of Clazomenae are full of such views; and [to believe] that the youth in particular learn these views from me, when they can buy them, sometimes for a drachma at most, in a stall at the orchestra,22 and ridicule Socrates when he pretends that they are his own, especially since they are so absurd? In the name of Zeus, Meletus, do I really strike you like that, that I accept the existence of no god at all? — No, by Zeus, you do not, not in the least. 21

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (a suburb of present-day Izmir — ancient Smyrna — in western Turkey) was a generation older than Socrates and lived approximately from 500–428. He was a significant pre-Socratic philosopher and purportedly the teacher of Pericles, the famous Athenian leader. Anaxagoras had also been put on trial for impiety, but left Athens instead of facing death, likely with Pericles’ help. Some of Anaxagoras’ views are mentioned below. “All things together” is a famous line from his surviving work. It refers to his theory that everything in the universe was mixed together until mind (nous in Greek) differentiated and organized it. This can be interpreted on a cosmic level (with the mind here being that of Zeus perhaps) or on a personal level (with the world being unintelligible until one’s mind organizes it). 22 A trade in rolls of papyrus (or to a much lesser extent, parchment) was operating in the mid-5th c. in Athens; some of these were illustrated. Evidence suggests books were sold in Athens in the orchestra of the theatre. All books back then were of course hand-written and copied. On the value of a drachma, see n. 10.

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You are not convincing, Meletus, not even, I think, to yourself. The man, Athenians, strikes me as most insolent and undisciplined, and has brought his indictment simply under the influence of insolence of some kind, of intemper- 27 ance, and of his youth. In fact he appears like a man who is concocting a riddle for testing someone: “Will Socrates, the wise man, realize that I am joking and contradicting myself, or will I manage to deceive him and all the others listening”? I say this because the man does seem to me to be contradicting himself in his indictment. It is like saying, “Socrates offends by not accepting divinities, though he does accept them.” But this is to make a joke. Do consider, along with me, gentlemen, how he seems to me to be saying something like this. Meletus, you answer our questions. You, gentlemen, bear in mind what I asked you at the beginning, please do not heckle if I proceed with my speech in my customary way.

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Is there any one, Meletus, who accepts the existence of items pertaining to human beings but who does not accept the existence of human beings? He should answer, gentlemen, and refrain from his various ways of heckling me. Is there anyone who does not accept the existence of horses but who accepts the existence of things pertaining to horses? Or does not believe that flute-players exist but believes in the existence of things pertaining to flute-playing? No, there is no such person, my excellent fellow. And if you do not wish to answer, c I will explain it to you and to the others here present. But at least answer me this: Is there anyone who accepts the existence of things pertaining to divinities but does not accept the existence of divinities? — No, there is not. How obliging of you to answer, though reluctantly and under pressure from these gentlemen. So, you say, then, that I accept the existence and teach it to others of things pertaining to divinities. Whether these are new or old, I nevertheless accept, according to your own argument, their existence. You have also sworn to that in your indictment. Now, if I accept the existence of things pertaining to divinities, it follows necessarily that I also accept the existence of divinities. Isn’t that right? Of course it is. Since you do not answer me, I assume that you agree. And divinities, we regard, don’t we, as being either gods themselves or as children of gods? You agree or not? — Yes, I do. Well, then, if I do believe in divinities, as you claim, and if divinities are a kind of god, that’s what I mean when I claim that you are offering a riddle and making a joke, presenting me as not believing in gods and, once again, as believing in gods, seeing that I do believe in divinities. Even if divinities are

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some sort of bastard children of gods — by nymphs23 or by anybody else whose children they are said to be — who on earth would believe in the existence of the children of gods but not in that of the gods themselves? It would be equally absurd if one were to believe, on the one hand, in the existence of the offspring of horses and asses, that is, of mules, but not, on the other hand, in the existence of horses and asses. But you, Meletus, must have brought this indictment in order to test us or because you were at a loss as to a genuine offence to charge me with. There is absolutely no way for you to persuade anyone, even those of slight intelligence, that one and the same person can believe at once that there exist things pertaining to divinities and gods and that there exist neither divinities nor gods nor heroes. Well, then, Athenians, I do not believe that a lengthy defence is required, and even the foregoing is sufficient, to show that I do not offend as charged in Meletus’ indictment. However, be assured that this, what I said before, is true: I have come to be disliked a lot and by many. This is what will convict me, if it is going to, not Meletus or Anytus, but the multitude’s slanders and ill-feelings. These have convicted many other decent men and will, I know, convict others in the future. There is no fear that they will stop with me. But someone might say, “Are you not ashamed, Socrates, to have been busying yourself with activities which are now placing you in danger of losing your life”? I would respond, justly, like this: “You are not right, sir, if you think that a man, who is of even the slightest value, ought to take into account the risk of life or death, rather than to consider one thing alone when acting, whether his action is right or wrong, the action of a decent or of a wicked man.” On your account, those who died at Troy are worth nothing, all the others, and in particular Thetis’ son, who regarded danger with such contempt, as against enduring dishonour, that, when his goddess mother said to him, at the time he was eager to kill Hector — I imagine something like this — “My son, if you avenge the killing of your friend Patroclus by killing Hector, then you yourself will die.24 For straightaway,” as the poet says, “after Hector is thine 23

Nymphs were female divinities that lived in, and are associated with, various things in nature, like rivers or springs, trees, mountains or other sacred spaces. They are typically benevolent. 24 Thetis was a sea nymph who married a mortal, Peleus. Their son was Achilles, the famous Greek hero of the Iliad. Hector is the oldest son of King Priam of Troy and the brother of Paris. (Paris, or Alexander as he is sometimes called, was the one who stole Helen away from Menelaus of Sparta, and thereby precipitated the Trojan War). In the Iliad, Hector kills Achilles’ friend Patroclus in battle, who had been pretending to be Achilles by wearing his armor. Achilles kills Hector in revenge and drags his mutilated body, tied to the back of a chariot, around the walls of Troy. Achilles had earlier been refusing to fight because his war prize, the girl Briseis, had been taken by Agammemnon.

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own death ready to hand.” Achilles, in reply, scorned death and danger and was much more afraid to live as a disgraced man, without avenging his friends: “Straightway may I die,” the poet goes on, “after punishing the unjust, so as not to remain here by the curved ships, a laughing stock to men and a dead weight upon the earth.” Do you really think that he cared about danger or death? For this is the truth of the matter, Athenians: wherever a man stations himself, judging that best, or is stationed by his commander, there he must, as I myself believe, stand his ground in the face of danger, taking into account nothing, neither death nor anything else, except dishonour. I would have done, therefore, a terrible thing myself, Athenians, if I stood by my station as resolutely as anyone else and risking my life, when I was posted there by my commanders, whom you had elected to command me, at Potidaea, Amphipolis and Delium,25 but then deserted my station, because of my fear therein of death or of something else, when I was posted by the god, as I imagined and supposed, to the necessity of conducting my life as a philosopher, examining myself and others. It would be a terrible thing, and in fact one would, in that event, justly bring me to court on the charge of not believing in the existence of gods, in so far as I disobey the oracle, fear death and think I am wise when I am not. For to fear death, gentlemen, is none other but to think that one is wise when one is not, since it is to think that you know things which you do not. No one knows about death, not even whether it might not be the greatest of human goods, but people fear it as if they knew very well that it is the greatest of evils. But how can this fail to be the disgraceful ignorance of believing to know what one does not know? Perhaps, gentlemen, I am different from others in this very respect, and if in fact I were to claim that I am wiser than others in anything, it would be in this, that just as I do not know adequately about the afterlife, I am also aware that I do not. I do know, however, that it is evil and shameful to commit injustice or to disobey one’s superior, be he a man or a god. Accordingly, I will never fear or avoid those things that I do not know whether they might well turn out to be good as against those evil things that I do know to be evil. In consequence, even if you were to acquit me now, 25 The Battle of Potideia (432) was instrumental in inciting the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (431–404). The Battle of Amphipolis was fought under the command of Cleon of Athens in 422. Both he and the Spartan general Brasidias died in the battle, but the Amphipolitans recognized Brasidias as a hero, and made him the official founder of their city. The battle paved the way for the Peace of Nicias in March of 421. The Battle of Delium (424) was fought under the command of Hippocrates, and resulted in the dispersal of the Athenian army and the death of Hippocrates.

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having been left unpersuaded by Anytus, who claimed that either I should not have come before you in the first place or, since I have come, that I must not escape death, arguing that if I were to get away at this juncture your sons will all be corrupted through and through by practising Socrates’ teachings — if you were to say to me, “Socrates, we are not going to do for now what Anytus suggests and we are instead acquitting you, but on this condition, namely, that you no longer spend your time on this search, on philosophising. If you are caught at it again, you will die.” If then you were to acquit me, as I said, on this condition, I would say to you, “Athenians, though I have a lot of respect and affection for you, I will nevertheless obey the god rather than you, and, as long as I am alive and capable, I will not stop philosophising, exhorting you and, with my customary words, pointing this out to any of you I meet at any time: “You, my excellent fellow, being a citizen of Athens, of the greatest and of the most renown city for power and wisdom, are you not ashamed to be applying yourself to the acquisition of as much wealth as possible, and of reputation and honours, while you give no thought to or care for the quality of thoughtfulness, and truth, and the best possible state of your soul”? And if anyone of you takes exception to this by claiming that he does apply himself to these things, I will not let him go away at once, nor will I go away myself, but will question him and examine him and test him. If, further, he appears to me not to possess virtue, though he claims he does, I will rebuke his treating the highest concerns as the least valuable and the least valuable as the highest. I will do so to anyone I happen to come across, be they young or old, citizens or visitors, but especially to my fellow-citizens, in as much as you are closer to me in kinship. For these are, rest assured, what the god commands, and I myself believe that there has never been in the city a more beneficial thing for you than my own service to the god. For I do nothing else, as I go about, than trying to convince you, both young and old, not to care about your bodies or about wealth more than, or even as passionately as, you care about the best possible state of your soul. I do so by telling you that, “virtue is not born of money, but of virtue are born money and all the other human goods, both personal and civic.” Well, if, in saying these things, I do corrupt our young men, then these things would be harmful. But if one claims that what I say to them is different from these things, the man talks nonsense. “In light of all this,” I would say, “Athenians, do as Anytus urges or don’t, and acquit me or don’t, bearing in mind that I would not behave differently, not even if I were to die many times over.” Do not heckle, Athenians, but grant me what I asked you for, not to heckle me for anything I say but to listen to me. For you will also benefit, I do believe, by listening. I am about to tell you certain other things which will perhaps

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incite you to heckling, though I ask that you refrain from doing so. You must know that if you kill someone like the person I claim myself to be, you will be harming yourselves more than you will harm me. Neither Meletus nor Anytus can harm me, since neither one would be capable of it. For I do not believe it is in keeping with divine law that a better person be harmed by a worse one, though the latter might perhaps have him killed or exiled or deprived of his civic rights. Though this man perhaps regards, along with others, these things as great evils, I certainly regard as such not them, but rather the very things he is doing now, namely trying to have a man put to death unjustly. Accordingly, Athenians, far from defending myself at present, as one might think, I am defending you, so that you do not sin as regards the god’s gift to you by voting against me. For if you kill me, you will not easily find another like me, literally — even if the expression is comical — laid upon the city by the god as if upon a horse, large and well bred, but sluggish on account of its size, and needing to be woken up by some kind of gadfly. I do believe that the god has attached me to the city in this capacity, as someone who never stops waking up and trying to persuade and chastising each one of you all day long, confronting you everywhere. So, there will not readily be another one like me, gentlemen, and if you take my advice you will spare me. In your annoyance, like people waking up though still sleepy, you may perhaps swat me, being persuaded by Anytus, and easily kill me, and then spend the rest of your life asleep, unless the god, in his care for you, were to send you someone else. The following consideration may induce you to appreciate that I am indeed the kind of person to be selected by the god as a gift to the city. It does not seem like human nature that I should have neglected all my personal affairs and to be, after so many years, still putting up with the neglect of my family’s affairs, while I am continuously looking after your own interests, approaching each one of you and, like a father or older brother, trying to convince you to apply yourselves to the pursuit of virtue. I might have had a reason for doing so, had I enjoyed some advantage from it or received payment for my exhortations; but, as things are, you see for yourselves that my accusers, though shamelessly accusing me about everything else, could not muster the effrontery of offering a witness to my ever having received or demanded any reward. I myself offer a sufficient, I believe, witness to the truth of what I say: my poverty. It might perhaps appear strange that I go around giving advice and meddling in the affairs of private citizens but do not dare come publicly before the assembly and offer advice to the city. The reason for this is something you have heard me talk about many times at many places, something divine and superhuman that happens to me, which Meletus, treating as a joke, included

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in his affidavit. I have had it ever since childhood, a certain voice which, every time I hear it, turns me away from doing what I am about to do, but never tells me what to do.26 It is this that opposes my participation in politics and, I think, very rightly so. For, rest assured, Athenians, that if I had tried long ago to participate in politics, I would long ago have been dead, and unable to help you or indeed myself. Please, do not be annoyed with me for telling you the truth: no man will survive who genuinely opposes you or any other popular assembly and tries to prevent many public injustices and illegalities. So, it is imperative that the man who genuinely fights for justice, if he is to survive even for a short time, conduct his life as a private citizen and not as a public figure. I will provide you with weighty evidence for what I said above, not words but, what you respect, deeds. Do listen to what has happened to me, so that you may know that I would not yield to anybody, contrary to justice, for fear of death, not even if I were to die on the spot. I am going to relate to you something tiresome and legalistic but true. Though I did not ever hold any executive state office, Athenians, I did serve as a member of the Council.27 It so happened that our tribe, the Antiochis tribe, was holding the presidency of the Council at the time when you wanted to try in a single trial the ten generals, who had failed to pick up the survivors at sea after the sea battle, an illegal procedure, as all of you came to believe later.28 At that time I was the only member of the presidency who opposed your doing anything illegal and voted against it. And when the speakers in the assembly were prepared to lay information against me and arrest me, while 26

Cf. p. 74, n. 6, and Apology 40a. The Council (boul¯e ) held responsibility for the affairs of the state. Each tribe submitted fifty members chosen by lot, and service was for one year. Membership was limited to the more propertied classes of Athenian society. The members of a single tribe were chosen, again by lot, to serve as the presiding officers for one-tenth of a year, with one person from that tribe selected to be the chairman for a day. The original four Athenian tribes were hereditary, but the reorganisation of Cleisthenes in 508 resulted in ten tribes (of which the demes were subsets), which were given the names of Greek heroes. Antiochis was one of those tribes. 28 Socrates here is referring to the sea battle at Arginusae, won by the Athenian navy against the Peloponnesians in 406. After the battle there happened to be another Athenian fleet under blockade. While the admirals were deciding whether to retrieve those Athenians who had fallen overboard during combat (both dead and alive), or to free the other ships under the blockade, a storm arose, making recovery and rescue operations impossible. Approximately twenty thousand died in combat and ensuing storm. Athenians back home considered this failure to retrieve those who fell overboard a terrible crime, and summoned the admirals back home for trial. Socrates happened to be the chairman of the council that day. In contravention to the rules, the admirals were not tried individually but as a group, contrary to Socrates’ protestations. They were found guilty and executed. 27

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you were shouting and urging them on, I thought that I should risk all on the side of law and justice rather than to side with you, for fear of death or imprisonment, when you were making an unjust decision. These things happened while the city was still a democracy. When it became an oligarchy, the Thirty29 in their turn summoned me and four others to the Rotunda, and ordered us to bring in from Salamis a certain Leon of Salamis30 so that he may be executed. They used to issue similar orders to many people on many occasions in their desire to implicate as many people as possible in crimes. On this occasion again I showed, not by words but by deeds, that I care nothing about dying, if that’s not too boorish a thing to say, whereas I do care very much about doing nothing unjust or impious. Though it was very powerful, that government did not scare me into doing anything unjust. As soon as we came out of the Rotunda, the other four went off to Salamis and brought in Leon, while I went home. Perhaps I would have been killed for this, had that government not fallen soon afterwards. Many people will be able to testify to these things before you. Do you think, therefore, that I would have survived for so many years if I had participated in political life and had come, in a manner worthy of a good man, to the aid of justice and had placed — as one ought — the highest value on that? Far from it, Athenians, since no other man would have either. I shall be seen to have been such a person throughout my life, the same in any public actions as in private. I have never given way, contrary to justice, to anyone in anything, neither to anyone else nor, particularly, to those my slanderers claim to be my students. I have never been anybody’s teacher. However, if anyone wanted to listen to me talking and doing my thing, whether he was younger or older, I have never yet begrudged that to anyone; nor do I converse for a fee but not without one, but to rich and poor alike I offer myself as a questioner and for anyone who wishes, while answering my questions, to hear whatever I have to say. I would not justly be held responsible for any of them turning out to decent persons or not, since I never promised any of them any bit of knowledge or taught them any. If anyone says that he has ever 29

Some members of the Thirty Tyrants were related to Plato and acquaintances of Socrates. Their brief reign of power was marked by purges not only of democrats (a great many of whom went into exile) but also of other citizens. See the introduction for information on the Thirty p. 92. 30 Leon of Salamis (ca. 471–404) was a democrat and one of the Athenian generals who signed the Peace of Nicias. He was either a wealthy resident alien or a cleruch in Megara (for an explanation of cleruchies, see the introduction to the Euthyphro, p. 67). In the Battle of Aegospotamti (405), Leon was temporarily captured, but returned as a hero to Athens. He was subsequently deposed by the Thirty. Salamis is an island 2 km from the port of Piraeus and roughly 16 kilometres west of Athens.

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learned anything from me or has heard from me in private what all the others have not, you may rest assured that he is not telling the truth. But why is it that some people enjoy spending so much time around me? You have heard it already, Athenians. I told you the whole truth, namely that they take pleasure in listening to the examination of people that think they are wise but are not. For the experience is not unpleasant. But, as I say, I have been ordered by the god to do this, through both oracles and dreams and in every way in which divine dispensation has commanded men to do anything at all. All this, Athenians, is true and readily tested. For if I do in fact corrupt some of the young men now or have corrupted others in the past, it must surely be that some among them, now grown older, if they realise that I gave them bad advice when they were young, would now come forward to accuse me and have me punished; or, if they themselves did not wish to do so, for some of their relatives — fathers, brothers or other relatives — if I had in fact a bad effect on those close to them, to recall that now and try to take their revenge. In any case, there are many persons in the latter category here that I can see: first, Crito over there, of the same age as myself and of the same deme, father of Critobulus; then Lysanias from Sphettus, father of Aeschines here; again, Antiphon from Cephesia over there, father of Epigenes; then others whose brothers were involved in this pursuit, Nicostratus, son of Theozotides, brother of Theodotus — Theodotus is dead, so that he could not possibly beg his brother not to — and Paralius here, the son of Demodocus, whose brother Theages was, and Adeimantus here, son of Ariston, whose brother Plato is over there, and Aeantodorus, whose brother is Apollodorus here and I could go mentioning many others, some of whom Meletus certainly should have called as a witness in his own speech.31 If he forgot to do so at the time, let him 31 Critoboulos is the son of Crito, his father, both of Alopece, an outlying district of Athens and the same deme as Socrates. Crito is the roughly the same age as Socrates (70 years old), which would make Critoboulos a generation younger. Both father and son are wealthy, probably from agriculture. Crito had a central role in handling Socrates’ affairs after his death. Little is known about Lysanius. Sphettus is one of two Attic demes of the same name and is located near the silver mines at Sunium. Aeschines, his son, was a friend of Socrates. After Socrates’ death Aeschines went to Sicily as a guest of the tyrant Dionysius. He later returned to Athens where taught philosophy for a fee. Like Plato and Xenophon, he wrote Socratic dialogues, as well as speeches, and had a reputation for being poor, dissolute, and manipulative. Fragments of Aeschines’ Alcibiades and Aspasia still exist. We do not know much about Epigenes. In Xenophon’s Memorabilia, Socrates tells Epigenes that he is in bad physical shape and advises him to get exercise. His father, Antiphon, is not the famous Attic orator of the same name. A Socratic dialogue named after Demodocus still exists; however, the consensus is that it was not written by Plato. Theages had a reputation for being frail, which kept him from

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call one now — I yield the floor to him — and let him speak to the issue. However, gentlemen, you will find the exact opposite, that everyone is ready to come to my aid, to the aid of the corrupter, of the man who does harm to their relatives, or so say Meletus and Anytus. The corrupted themselves might perhaps have reason for coming to my aid. But the uncorrupted ones, older men by now, the relatives of the corrupted, what other reason do they have for coming to my aid than the right and just one, namely, they know that Meletus is lying while I am telling the truth. Well, gentlemen, this, and perhaps a few other things of the kind, is all I have to say in my defence. Some one amongst you might possibly be annoyed, thinking back to his own behaviour, because he, when on trial on a lesser charge than this, begged and entreated the judges with plenty of tears, bringing forward his children so that he is the more pitied, and many other relatives and friends, while I am not going to do any of this, despite the fact that I am running, as it seems to me, the ultimate risk. Perhaps then, someone with this in mind may be harshly disposed towards me and, in his anger at this very thing, votes with his anger. If any one of you is so disposed — I do not expect so, but if any one is — I would think it reasonable for me to say to him, “My excellent fellow, I too have some relatives. Indeed, as Homer has it, I too am not sprung ‘from an oak or a rock’32 but from human beings, so that I have relatives and, in particular, Athenians, three sons, one of them an adolescent and two still children. Nevertheless, I will not bring any of them in here and beg you to acquit me.” For what reason then will I do none of these things? Not from insolence, Athenians, nor from disrespect for you. Whether I am fearless or not in the face of death, is another story, but from the point of view of reputation — mine, yours and the whole city’s — it does not strike me as honourable for me to do any of these things at my age and with the reputation I have. Whether true or false, it is nevertheless an established opinion that Socrates is different in some respect from the great multitude of people. It would thus be dishonourable to do any of these things on the part of those amongst you who have a reputation for being different from the mass of people in respect of wisdom, or of valour or of any other virtuous quality. I have fulfilling his political ambitions. His father held many public offices. Adeimantus is Plato’s brother. He appears with Glaucon in Plato’s Republic. He fought at Megara, and mention of this is made at Republic 368a. Ariston was reputedly a cleruch on the island of Aegina around 427, although the date is coincidental with Plato’s birthdate, and may be questionable. For Apollodorus of Phaleron, see p. 157. Little or nothing is known about the other people mentioned by Socrates. 32 Cf. Odyssey XIX, 163.

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often seen people like that on trial; reputed, on the one hand, to be superior people but behaving, on the other, in astonishing ways, as if they thought that something terrible would happen to them if they were killed and that they would be immortal if you did not kill them. These people seem to me to clothe the city in shame, so that foreigners might well judge as no better than women those among the Athenians who are distinguished for goodness and whom the Athenians select from among themselves for state offices and other honours. For these are things, Athenians, which those reputed to be superior in any way must not do to you and which, if we do them, you ought not to allow. Instead, you ought to demonstrate that you will much rather condemn the man who stages these pitiful scenes and makes the city the object of ridicule than the man of quiet restraint. Leaving aside the issue of reputation, gentlemen, it does not seem right to me to beg a judge or to win acquittal by begging, but rather to try to convince by one’s explanations. For the judge does not sit for the purpose of dispensing justice as a personal favour, but rather for deciding what is just. He has sworn an oath, not that he will favour whomever he thinks fit, but that he will decide according to law. We, litigants, must not accustom you to breaking your oaths, nor ought you, judges, become accustomed to doing so. Neither of us would be doing the pious thing. So, do not expect, Athenians, that I should do before you those things which I judge to be neither honourable nor just nor pious, especially not — by Zeus — when I am being prosecuted for impiety by Meletus over there. For clearly, if I were to persuade you and force you, by my begging, to break your oath, I would be teaching you not to believe in the existence of gods, and in my own defence I would simply be accusing myself of not accepting gods. But that’s far from the truth. I do accept gods, Athenians, as none of my accusers do, and I now entrust my case to you and to the god to decide it in whatever way it is best for me and for you.33

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My lack of annoyance, Athenians, at the turn of events, your verdict of guilt, has multiple causes, among them the fact that it was not unexpected. I am much more surprised by the actual number of votes either way. I did not think that the margin would be so small, but rather a very large one. As things 33 A break or pause is understood here during which the judges vote on the question of guilt or innocence. If the defendant is found innocent, the trial is concluded at this point. But if, as in the case of Socrates, the defendant is found guilty, the trial continues: the prosecutor goes up first to defend the penalty he has assessed, and the now convicted defendant follows (as Socrates is about to do) with his own counter-penalty.

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stand, so it seems, if a mere thirty votes went the other way, I would have been acquitted.34 As far as Meletus himself is concerned, I regard myself as having been acquitted even now, and not only acquitted, but this much is clear to everyone: if Anytus and Lycon had not come forward to accuse me as well, Meletus would have been fined a thousand drachmas for failing to obtain one fifth of the vote.35 The man demands the death penalty for me. Very well. What counterpenalty then, Athenians, shall I propose to you? Is it not obvious that it must be something I deserve? But what? What do I deserve to suffer or pay because through the course of my life I did not hold my peace and, neglected, unlike the multitude of people, money-making and estate management and generalships and political speech-making and other offices and political clubs and factions which crop up in the city? And thinking myself really too decent a person to survive the pursuit of such activities, I did not follow the road to the destination where in all probability I would have been of no use to you or to myself, but instead came to the destination of conferring on each man personally what I regard as the greatest benefit, namely, trying to convince each of you not to care about incidentals to the self before caring about the self itself, with a view to becoming as good and sensible as possible, and not to care about incidentals to the city before caring about the city itself, and to care about other things in the same way. What then do I deserve to suffer, being the kind of person that I am? Something good, Athenians, if I must set the penalty truly in accordance with desert, and the sort of good thing, furthermore, which would be appropriate for me. What, then, is fitting for a penniless benefactor who needs leisure to urge you on? There is nothing, Athenians, more fitting for such a man than to be fed at the Prytaneum,36 and much rather him than anyone among you who won a horse-race at the Olympic Games. For, while the Olympic victor makes you appear happy, I 34

On the assumption that there were 501 judges, the vote must have been 280 (guilty) to 221 (innocent). 35 This is in keeping with Athenian judicial procedure. In public suits the plaintiff had to obtain at least a fifth of the vote, otherwise he was fined. This was done to prevent frivolous lawsuits. Socrates here evidently assumes that each of the three prosecutors attracted a third of the guilty-vote (280 votes total), and so Meletus, on his own, would have attracted no more than a third of this vote (93 or so votes), which is below the required one fifth of the total vote. 36 The Prytaneum was a headquarters for city administration, with offices for judges and facilities for hosting foreign envoys. A fire sacred to Hestia, and a symbol of the home of the city-state or polis, was kept continuously lit. Olympic victors were given free meals and permission to use the facilities of the Prytaneum, which is what Socrates is here proposing as a penalty. An equivalent “penalty” today would be free meals at the training table of a major professional sports club or use of the White House chef.

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make you be happy, and while he lacks no food, I do. So, if I must set the counter-penalty in accordance with what I justly deserve, I set this, free board at the Prytaneum. Well, in saying this, I strike you perhaps as speaking in much the same way as I did earlier regarding the appeals to pity, in insolence. But the matter, Athenians, stands not like that but rather like this: I am personally convinced that I have not intentionally wronged anyone, but I cannot persuade you of it, since we have conversed for only a short time. However, you would have been convinced, I believe, if you too had a law, as other cities do, which allows not just one but many days for the trial of capital cases. But as things stand now, it is not easy to undo great slanders in a short time. Convinced as I am that I have not wronged anyone, I am certainly not about to do myself an injustice by contending against myself that I deserve something evil and setting some such as my counter-penalty! In fear of what shall I do so? So that I will not suffer what Meletus proposes as the penalty, when I claim that I do not know whether it is good or bad? Shall I choose instead something I do know to be bad and set that as my counter-penalty? What? Prison? Why should I spend my life in prison, enslaved to the prison authorities appointed at any given time, the Eleven?37 Perhaps then a fine, with imprisonment until I pay it off? But this comes to the same thing I explained just now. I have no money with which to pay the fine. Shall I set the penalty at exile? Perhaps you would accept that. My love of life would be indeed great, Athenians, if I am so senseless as not to be able to figure out that, whereas you, my fellow-citizens, could not put up with my words and actions, but found them burdensome and hateful and, as a result, seek on this very occasion to get rid of them, citizens of other cities will . . . what? Find them easy to bear? Far from it, Athenians. What a grand time I should have of it, an exile at my age, shifting and being driven from one city to another.38 For well I know that wherever I go, the young men will listen to my talk just as they do here. If I drive them away, they themselves will persuade their elders to drive me out of town; if I do not drive them away, then their fathers and other relatives will drive me out for their sake. Perhaps someone may say, “Will you not be able to stay alive in your 37

The Eleven were the “corrections officers” of the archons, and were appointed by lottery. They administered verdicts and supervised prisons. 38 In a culture which is strongly based on honour, extended family ties, and strong civic community (as the cities of ancient Greece were), exile was often considered a fate worse than death. Exile for many was like the equivalent of having your personal identity stripped away. According to the rules of exile, if someone were sent into exile and then returned (in this case, to Athens), they would be executed on the spot.

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exile, Socrates, if you kept quiet and to yourself”? This is in fact the hardest thing of which to convince some of you. If I tell you that this is tantamount 38 to disobeying the god and hence it is not possible for me to keep to myself, you will not be convinced but think that I am being a hypocrite. On the other hand, you will be even less convinced, if I tell you that this is the greatest good for a human being, to discuss goodness daily and the other items on which you have heard me conversing and examining myself and others, and that a life without examination is not liveable for a human being.39 I do claim that these things are so, gentlemen, though it is no easy matter to convince you of them. b At the same time, I, too, am not accustomed to demand anything harmful for myself. If I did have money, I would set the penalty at a fine as large as I could pay, since that would have done me no injury. But, as things stand now, I have no money, unless you were willing to have me set the penalty at an amount I would be able to pay. Perhaps I would be able to pay you a mina of silver. I therefore set the penalty at this amount. But Plato here, Athenians, and Crito and Critobolus and Apollodorus are telling me to set the penalty at thirty minae and that they will stand as guarantors.40 So, I set the penalty at this amount and these men will stand trusty guarantors for your money.41

III For the sake of a little time, Athenians, you will get the reputation and the c blame, from those who wish to revile the city, for having killed Socrates, a wise man. For those who wish to reproach you will say that I am wise, even if I am not. Anyhow, if you had waited for a short time, it would have happened for you on its own. For you see that I am far advanced in age and near death. I d address these remarks not to all of you but to those who voted for the death penalty. To the same people I say also this: Perhaps you think, Athenians, that I have been convicted for lack of arguments persuasive to you, if I had 39

This is the origin of the statement, often cited by philosophers, that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” 40 Given the value of a mina mentioned in n. 10 above, the penalty suggested by Socrates would be about one hundred days of wages. The penalty put forward by Socrates’ friends would be well over eight years of wages for a day laborer. Cf. p. 94. 41 There is presumably another break here, as the judges vote for one or the other of the two penalties proposed. The trial would come to an end at this point. We do not know whether it was possible in Athenian judicial procedure for a convicted criminal, and on whom sentence had already been pronounced, to go on and address the court, as Socrates is about to do in III.

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thought that I must say and do anything in order to avoid condemnation. Far from it. And yet I have been convicted through lack of something; not lack of arguments but of brazenness and shamelessness and willingness to tell you the sorts of things that you most like to hear: my lamenting and wailing and doing and saying a lot of other things unworthy of me, as I believe, but the sorts of things you are used to hearing from others. But I did not at the time think it right to do anything unbecoming of a free man because of the danger, nor do I now repent of the way I defended myself. I would rather die defending myself in the way I did than go on living by defending myself in the other way. Neither in a court of law nor in war should I or anyone else contrive a means for avoiding death by doing just anything and everything. Indeed, during a battle it often becomes obvious that one would escape death by throwing away his weapons and turning in supplication to his pursuers; and there are of course many other ways of avoiding death in different contexts, if one is daring enough to say and do anything whatsoever. But perhaps, gentlemen, it is not as difficult to escape death as it is to escape wickedness, for it runs faster than death. And now I, slow and old that I am, have been caught by the slower runner, while my accusers, clever and nimble as they are, have been caught by the faster-running wickedness. I depart now incurring the penalty of death at your hands, while they depart incurring the penalty of wretchedness and injustice at the hands of truth. I abide in my punishment, and they in theirs. Perhaps, in a way, that is as it should be, and it is, I think, fitting. I should like next to make a prophecy to those of you who have voted against me. For I am now at the point when men are most prophetic, when they are about to die. So, I prophecy to you, gentlemen, who have killed me, that directly after my death a punishment will come upon you much harsher, by Zeus, than yours in killing me. You have contrived my death with a view to being free from giving an account of your lives, when the very opposite will happen to you, as I prophecy. There will be more people to question you, those I have up to now restrained though you were not aware of it. They will be harsher inasmuch as they are younger, and you will be more distressed. For if you think that by killing men you prevent anyone from reproaching you for not living rightly, you are not thinking straight. This sort of freedom from reproach is neither quite possible nor honourable, while the most honourable and also easiest to attain is not to cut down other men but to prepare oneself to become as good as possible. With this prophecy then, to you who have voted against me, I take my leave. While the magistrates are busy and before I go to the place where I must die, I would gladly talk with those who voted in my favour about what has transpired here. So please, gentlemen, stay behind for that long, as there is

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nothing preventing our talking with one another as long as we are allowed. For I wish to explain to you, as my friends, the meaning of what has happened to me just now. Gentlemen judges — and in calling you “judges” I am using the correct name — something remarkable has happened to me. During all the time up until now, my customary prophetic power, the one I get from my divine sign,42 used to manifest itself very frequently, opposing me even in rather trivial matters, whenever I was about to do something wrong. At this very time, as you can see for yourselves, things are happening to me that someone would regard, and which are regarded, as the greatest of evils. And yet, the god’s sign did not oppose me early this morning when I left my house, nor when I was coming up to the court house, nor at any time during my speech when I was about to say anything. Although it has, on many occasions during other speeches, stopped me in the middle of speaking, it has not opposed, during this current affair, either my actions or my words in any way whatever. What do I suppose is the reason for this? I will tell you. What has happened to me is no doubt a good thing, and we cannot be conceiving of the matter rightly if we think that death is evil. I have had strong evidence for this. It would have been impossible for my customary sign not to oppose me, had I not been about to do something good. Let us consider another reason for high hope that it is a good thing. Death is one of two things: either it is such that the dead are in a state of nothingness, having no awareness at all of anything whatever, or, as the popular belief has it, it is some kind of change, a change of abode for the soul from this place to some other location. Now, if indeed it involves no awareness at all, like an absolutely dreamless sleep, death would be a wonderful benefit. For, I would think, if a man had to select that night in which he slept so soundly as not to see any dreams, and put beside it the other nights and days of his life, and then had to say, after consideration, how many days and nights he had lived in his life which were better and sweeter than this one night, I think that the Great King43 himself — let alone an ordinary man — would find such days and nights easily counted in contrast to other days and nights. If then death is like that, I say it is a benefit. For, in that case, the whole of time seems to be no longer than a single night. If, on the other hand, death is like migrating from here to another place, and the popular view is true, that all the dead dwell at that place, can there be any good greater than that, gentlemen judges? Would it be a bad migration, if a man, upon arriving in the next world, having been 42

Cf. p. 74, n. 6, and Apology 31d. The Great King is how the Greeks referred to the King of Persia. He was considered to be the wealthiest and most powerful ruler in the world, who could satisfy any wish whatsoever. 43

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rid of these self-proclaimed judges here, finds the true judges, the very ones who are said to sit in judgement there, Minos, Rhadamanthys, Aeacus and Triptolemus44 and all the other demi-gods who were just in their own lives? Again, how much money would any of you give to meet Orpheus and Musaeus, Hesiod and Homer?45 I myself am willing to die many times, if these things are true. I would have myself wonderful conversations at that place, whenever I met Palamedes or Ajax son of Telamon46 or anyone else of the ancients who died on account of an unjust judgement, comparing my experiences with theirs — not an unpleasant task, I think. In fact, the most important thing would be to pass the time in examining and investigating people there just as I did people here, to find out which one of them is wise and which thinks he is but is not. How much would a man give, gentlemen judges, to examine the leader of the

44 Minos was an early king of Crete, who supposedly lived three generations before the Trojan war; the Minoan civilization is named after him. Minos’ wife is the mother of the Minotaur. Legendary for his just administration, he was appointed, along with Rhadamanthys and Aeacus, as one of the three judges of the underworld. Dante also makes him a judge in hell in his Divine Comedy: Inferno, Canto V, vv. 2ff. Rhadamanthys was the brother of Minos. Aeacus was the son of Zeus, father of Peleus and Telemon, and hence grandfather of Achilles and Ajax respectively. Triptolemus was the son of Eleusis. Demeter assigned him with the task teaching cultivation to mankind. He instituted religious services in honour of Demeter at Eleusis. 45 The legendary figure of Orpheus is said to have perfected the lyre, with which he could divert rivers and tame wild animals. He, like Odysseus, visited Hades (the underworld) and returned. An entire body of poetry, songs, and religious rituals are named after him. He was the father of Musaeus, the mythical seer and priest who is said to be the founder of priestly poetry in Attica. Hesiod (ca. 700) was born in Ascra, in Boeotia. As he was tending sheep on Mount Helicon, he heard the Muses call upon him to compose a song about the gods, which became the Theogony. This poem is about the succession of gods and goddesses of the Greek mythos. The other certain work of his that survives is the Works and Days, which is in part moral education, part almanac. Hesiod, along with Homer, typifies the earliest attested phases of Greek literature, with their written poetry as the culmination of a lengthy earlier period of evolution in various oral traditions. The Iliad and the Odyssey are attributed to Homer, with the former being composed in approximately 750, and the latter in 725. We know nothing for certain about him other than the name. 46 Palamedes rivaled Odysseus for cleverness, and foiled Odysseus’ attempt to feign madness in order to stay out of the Trojan war. A vengeful Odysseus hid treasure and a forged letter from Priam of Troy under Palamedes’ tent. Odysseus then had Palamedes charged with treason (for which he was executed). Ajax was the prince of Salamis, a man with a reputation for being courageous but lacking judgment. He recovered the body of the slain Achilles in Troy, and competes with Odysseus for the dead warrior’s armor. Ajax lost the competition, went mad, and committed suicide. This is the theme of Sophocles’ play Ajax.

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great army against Troy, or Odysseus or Sisyphus,47 or myriad of others, both men and women, one might mention? Would it not be inconceivable happiness to talk with these people there, to spend time with them and examine them? At all events, people there surely do not kill you for doing that, as they are happier than people here both in other respects and insofar as from then one and for the rest of time they are deathless, if indeed the popular view is true. But you too, gentlemen judges, ought to face death hopefully and bear in mind this one truth: no evil can come to a good man either in life or in death, d and his affairs are not neglected by the gods. Nor have the present events in my life come about on their own. This much is clear to me: to die now and be rid of troubles was better for me. This is the reason both why my sign at no point turned me back and why I am not at all vexed with those who voted against me or with my accusers. Of course, it was not with this intention that they voted against me or accused me, but rather with a view to harming me. e For this they deserve blame. However, this much I beg of them: When my sons become young men, do punish them, gentlemen, inflicting the same pain on them as I kept inflicting on you, if they appear to you to care more about either money or anything else than about virtue; and if they regard themselves as worthy when they are not, reproach them as I have you, for not applying themselves to the things they ought to and for thinking that they are worth something when they are worth nothing. If you do these things, you will have 42 done justly both by me and by my sons. But it is now time to depart, both for me who am to die, and for you who are to go on living. Which of us heading to the better thing is unclear to all but god.

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The leader of the great army against Troy was Agamemnon. He is (after ten years) victorious at Troy, but is murdered by his wife and her lover when he returns home. Odysseus was the King of Ithaca. The trials and tribulations of his return home from the Trojan War are the subject of Homer’s Odyssey. Sisyphus was a King of Corinth and a trickster, punished in Hades with having to roll a huge stone up a hill only to have it forever rolling back down on completion of the task.

Crito: Introduction Place and Time The dramatic setting of the Crito is the prison cell where Socrates is awaiting his execution, in the spring of 399. Executions of convicted criminals in Athens were normally carried out immediately after sentencing, or perhaps the day after. Socrates’ execution, however, was delayed for quite a long time. It so happened that on the day before his trial, an official Athenian delegation started on its annual pilgrimage to the temple of Apollo on the Aegean island of Delos. The delegation journeyed to and from the island on one of the ships belonging to, and emblematic of, the city-state of Athens, one of the so-called “Sacred Ships.” It was the religious custom to refrain from carrying out executions while a Sacred Ship was away. Executions thus delayed were typically carried out on the day after the ship’s return. On some occasions — for example, during inclement marine weather — the Sacred Ship might be away for some time. This was apparently one of those occasions, and consequentially Socrates spent a long time in prison. His close friends visited him daily, and he talked with them for most of the day (cf. Phaedo 59d–e). On the day the Crito takes place, Socrates’ long-standing, devoted, and well-to-do friend Crito has come to visit him very early in the morning, bringing both good and bad news. The bad news is that the Sacred Ship has been sighted returning from Delos, and so Socrates’ execution will take place very soon. The good news is that Crito has managed, with his connections and considerable wealth, to arrange safe passage for Socrates out of prison and Athens. Everything is set. All that is needed is Socrates’ consent.

Crito Apart from the dialogue that bears his name, and a couple of other references to him in Plato and elsewhere, we know little about Crito. He was from the 127

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same deme (administrative district) as Socrates, and Socrates and Crito were friends growing up. According to Diogenes Laertius, Crito made sure that Socrates’ needs were taken care of (Lives of Emminent Philosophers 2.12), and it is clear from the interaction between Socrates and Crito in the Phaedo that Crito is a trusted family friend (115b–117a, 118a). He seems to have a good heart, but to be oriented toward practical concerns, and to be thoroughly unphilosophical.

Argumentum Despite its importance to ancient and modern debate, the Crito is a very short dialogue. It begins with a short introduction (43a–44b) that establishes the setting and the philosophical themes of political obligation and authority. Then, Crito launches into an argument as to why Socrates should escape. Crito’s speech (44b–46a) is a rhetorical mess, with its structure being little more than a pile of reasons why Socrates should escape. It is particularly notable that Crito seems to lose control of the grammar of his speech toward the end (perhaps indicating his excitement, or agitation). There is not really a central theme to the speech, but a concern for what others think underpins many of Crito’s points. Socrates’ extended response has three main parts: first, he considers the position of the expert versus the many (46b–49b); second, he looks at whether it would be just to escape (49b–50a); third, he delivers the Speech of the Laws, in which he personifies the laws of the state (50a–54a). In considering the expert versus the many in matters of opinion, Socrates argues that the expert’s view should be followed in preference to that of the many. But as part of this discussion, Socrates sets the stage for the remainder of the dialogue: he declares that he is the sort of person who always listens to the argument that seems best (a theme that is reiterated at the end of the dialogue). This is important, because although he has discounted the opinion of the many, he has not established how one should act in the case that there is no expert. Clearly among Crito and Socrates, there is no expert regarding the question of whether Socrates should escape from prison. The inference here is that where there are no experts and knowledge is important, we must seek the answer by applying our own philosophical abilities. Seeking the answer by means of argument is exactly what Socrates and Crito then do. Socrates frames the discussion by appealing to two principles: first, that it is never right to do wrong (even when you have been wronged); and second, that one should stick to the just agreements one has made. Socrates

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then argues that he has made an (implicit) agreement with the city, and that he would do harm to the city if he broke its laws by escaping. Crito follows Socrates’ arguments, but is ultimately unwilling to accept their conclusions. Whether this is due to Crito’s unphilosophical nature, or his affection for Socrates, or a combination of both, is unclear. In any case, Socrates gives up trying to persuade Crito by means of argument, and instead “channels” the laws of the state in the Speech of the Laws. Here, we do not find a philosophical argument, but rather a rhetorical masterpiece intended to convince Crito that it is right for Socrates to remain in jail. The Laws argue that if Socrates escapes, he will be attempting to overturn the state insofar as he is able. Furthermore, Socrates will be turning his back on his agreements with the city; and Socrates would find no advantage in escaping. The Speech of the Laws turns out to be fertile ground for considering issues of persuasion, obedience, and contract theory. In the end, the Speech of the Laws quells Crito’s objections, and Crito accepts that Socrates has no option but to stay in jail.

Experts, Happiness, Justice Experts. Many ancient cultures, including the Greek, held experts of any skill, art or craft in high esteem. Their expertise was an almost mysterious ability to achieve something that most other people could not, yet was necessary for the preservation of civilization and needed to be taught to others for it to survive. The majority of people — the hoi polloi — would never turn to any average person for matters concerning health, child-rearing, housing construction or navigation, for example. Yet in a democracy, it is the opinion of the majority that matters in regard to the running of the state, and in everyday life, human beings seem to have an instinctual desire to imitate and to seek approval from the group. Why should this be the case, when the many are not experts in what matters most in life, namely morality, public policy, and justice? Why should the opinion of the majority take precedence over what an individual has arrived at, through reasoning, on her or his own? These questions, raised here, are ones which reappear again and again in Plato’s work. Happiness. Everyone wants a happy life. The problem is determining what the criteria for happiness are. Throughout Plato’s dialogues, including the Crito, Socrates argues that the happy life requires honor and justice. However, this honor and justice might be different from what the many take to be honorable and just. Two examples that arise here, where Socrates’ moral principles differ from the majority, are a rejection of the principle of revenge

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(that is, rejection of the lex talionis or “eye for an eye”), and a rejection of the notion that unjust treatment permits one to act unjustly in turn. Other differences include an emphasis of care for the soul over that of the body, no fear of death, and fearing corruption of the soul and body more than anything else. In Socrates’ case, these differences arise because the many operate under a moral system primarily based on honor, shame and appearances, whereas he is rejecting this and following his own moral code instead, one based on rationality. Justice. Socrates argues for this near the end of the dialogue, when he personifies the laws and the state of Athens. The point is that the laws of the state, of which one is a citizen, must be obeyed in order for a person to be just, and consequently to be happy. He grounds one reason for this in a contract theory of justice (the first theory of this kind in the history of philosophy). His version of the theory is roughly this: what grounds the rights and duties of a citizen in a state is a “contract” between that citizen and the state. Once one enters into adulthood and decides to remain in the state, this individual has implicitly signed a contract with it, which stipulates that he or she will abide by its laws. In turn, the state provides, through law, services such as protection, civil order, roads and education to that citizen. However, this contract is not one between equals, but between unequals, with the state being the superior partner. Thus, Socrates holds a paternalistic conception of the state and its laws, and any breach of the contract is a significantly unjust and immoral act, equivalent to a person betraying their parents. He also introduces another reason as to why one must obey the law, based on a notion of justice as reciprocity: an individual is nursed and cared for by the community as a whole, not only in childhood but also as an adult through the services it provides. So in turn, the individual has duties to abide by and serve this community. Socrates’ great achievement — or rebellion in the eyes of his contemporaries — was to attempt to determine what was right or wrong, just or unjust, outside the confines of traditional morality and religion. As one can see, this achievement was not nihilistic, nor was it grounded in a complete rejection of all forms of morality. However, as many moral philosophers have asked from Socrates’ day forward, is it healthy for a society, or for an individual, even, to challenge public morality as he did? Is it right for one to do so? Does society have a right, or an obligation, to respond to such a challenge in a way it sees fit? Throughout history, readers of the Crito have also wondered whether Socrates did the right thing by following the law and going to his death. Do Socrates’ conceptions of justice work, or are there better alternatives? Would the right action have been to go into exile instead of accepting death by poison? In other

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words, does Crito have the more persuasive position? However one decides to answer these questions, as well as others not raised here, the Crito remains an inspiring work, conducive to framing one’s own thinking about these issues.

Crito Socrates: Why have you come at this hour, Crito? Is it not still very early? 43 Crito: Very early, indeed. Socrates: About what time? Crito: Before first light. Socrates: I am amazed that the prison guard was willing to answer your call.1 Crito: He is used to me by now because of my frequent visits here.2 Besides, I have been good to him! Socrates: Did you come just now or a while ago? Crito: Quite a while ago. Socrates: Why, then, did you not wake me up right away, instead of sitting b by me in silence? Crito: By God, I would not do that. I only wish that I were not so sleepless and sorrowful myself. Besides, I had been marvelling at how peacefully you slept. I did not wake you up on purpose, so as to allow you to pass your time as pleasantly as possible. Many times in the past, I have indeed thought you fortunate on account of your temperament in all aspects of life. Seeing how effortlessly and calmly you bear your present misfortune, I consider you especially fortunate. Socrates: It would really be inappropriate, Crito, for a man of my age to be distressed if he must presently die. Crito: But other people of your age, Socrates, are caught in similar misfor- c tunes, and yet their age in no way prevents them from being distressed about what’s happening to them. 1 As the prison was still closed this early in the morning, Crito must have knocked on the door or summoned the guard in some other way. 2 Apparently, the prison did not usually open early. Socrates’ friends visited him often while he was incarcerated. They would congregate outside the door of the prison and talk amongst themselves before it was opened for the day (cf. Phaedo 59d).

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Socrates: Let this be as it may. Now, why have you come so early? Crito: I bring sad news, Socrates. Not to you, I suppose. But to me and all your friends, sad and heavy news which, I think, I will personally bear the heaviest. Socrates: What it is? Has the boat arrived from Delos, on the arrival of which I must die?3 Crito: It has not arrived yet. But, judging from reports of people who came from Sounion and left the boat there, I believe that it will arrive today. Indeed, it is clear from these reports that it will arrive today,4 and so tomorrow will be the day you must die. Socrates: And by good fortune too, Crito. Let it be so, if it pleases the gods. However, I do not think that the boat will come today. Crito: What do you base that on? Socrates: I will tell you. Well, I am to die on the day after the boat arrives here . . . Crito: So say the officials in charge. Socrates: I believe that it will not arrive today but tomorrow. I base this on a dream I had a little earlier on tonight. So, you were probably timely in not waking me up. Crito: What was the dream? Socrates: I saw a woman, handsome and well-formed, wearing white clothes, who came up to me and said: “Socrates, on the third day are you to come to the fertile land of Phthia.”5 Crito: A strange dream. Socrates: But, to my mind, clear. Crito: Too clear, apparently. But even now, blessed Socrates, listen to me and save yourself. As for myself, your death will not be just a single disaster: not only shall I be deprived of a close friend the like of whom I shall never find again, but I shall also be thought by the multitude, who do not know you 3

Cf. discussion about the Sacred Ships on p. 127. The rocky promontory of Sounion is at the head of the Attic side of the Saronic Gulf, and is the site of a famous temple of the sea-god Poseidon. Someone standing there has a commanding view of this gulf and the surrounding waters. 5 This line is based on Homer’s Iliad I, 363. In the epic the line is put in the mouth of Achilles, who is at this stage warning the messengers of Agamemnon that he will return to his rich fatherland, Phthia. Socrates compares himself to Achilles in the Apology (28c–e), and it is more than likely that the woman in the dream is supposed to be Thetis, Achilles’ mother. Certainly the description we get of her in the dream would be appropriate to a goddess. The dramatic or mythic imagery we have here is of a mother calling her son back to their happy home. Similar imagery occurs at the very end of this dialogue. 4

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and me as we really are,6 as someone who, though capable of saving you had I only been willing to spend my money, did not take the trouble to. And what reputation is indeed more shameful than the reputation of caring more for money than for one’s friends? For the multitude will not believe that we were in fact eager to save you while it was yourself who were not willing to escape. Socrates: But why should we care in this way about what the multitude will think?7 The most reasonable men, whose opinion, rather, it is worthwhile to care about, will believe that things happened as they really did. Crito: But surely you see that it is necessary to care also about the opinion d of the multitude. Your present predicament makes clear that they can do to a man not the least but almost the greatest of evils, if he is falsely accused among them.8 Socrates: I only wish that the multitude were capable of doing the greatest evils, so that they might also be capable of doing the greatest goods. It would be a good thing, if that were so. As things are, however, they are capable of doing neither, since they are capable of making a man neither wise nor foolish. They do to him whatever they chance upon.9 Crito: Well, let these things be as they may. But tell me this. You are not, e I hope, worrying about me and your other friends;10 that, should you escape, sycophants will make trouble for us for having snatched you out of here, and that we shall be forced into losing all our property or a great deal of money or 45 indeed suffer other evils besides? If you are concerned about something like that, please don’t be. It is up to us to run such risks in order to save you, and even greater risks if need be. So, listen to me and do as I say. 6

The phrase here in Greek is m¯e saph¯ os, which, translated literally, would make the passage read “. . . who do not know you and me clearly.” My rendering is consistent with Crito’s assumption that if the public knew him and Socrates for the sort of persons they are, it would form its opinion of them consistently with its knowledge, namely that it is not due to weakness or inaction that Socrates remains in prison. 7 The phrase “. . . in this way . . . ” translates the Greek hout¯ o. However, Socrates is not concerned with the degree of care we should display towards public opinion, but rather with the fact that we should wish to take it into account at all. In contrast, Crito thinks that public opinion is something one should take into consideration. 8 The verb here, rendered by “falsely accused,” is a form of diaball¯ o. Instead, Crito here seems concerned about Socrates’ being discredited without due cause, and the precedent this will set. 9 Socrates seems to be emphasizing the aspect of randomness in the behaviour of the many. Therefore, contrary to what Crito thinks, Socrates believes that the many do not necessarily act towards a person in a way that is consistent with their opinion of him or her, or in other words, that the many do not act rationally. 10 The Greek verb here is a form of promthe¯ o, literally “taking forethought.” Socrates uses the same verb in his reply at 45a4.

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Socrates: I am worrying about these things, Crito, and many more besides. Crito: Well, do not worry about any of them. The sum is not large which certain men want in exchange for getting you safely out of here. Again, don’t you know that sycophants are cheaply bought and so there would be no need to spend much money on them? In any case, my own cash is at your disposal and it is, if I may say so, adequate. Further, if, in your concern about me, you should not wish to use my own money, there are non-Athenians friends in town ready to spend theirs. One of them, Simmias from Thebes, has actually brought enough cash with him for this very purpose. Cebes is ready too, and many others.11 So, as I say, do not shrink from saving yourself on account of your concern about these things; nor let what you said in court stand in your way — that if you went into exile you would not know what to do with yourself. You will be welcome in a lot of different places. If you wish to go to Thessaly in particular, I have friends there who will do everything for you and provide you with safety so that no Thessalian will bother you.12 Furthermore, you do not appear to me to be doing the right thing, betraying yourself, when it is open to you to save yourself, and to be eagerly trying to bring upon yourself the very things that your enemies, in their design to get rid of you, would and did eagerly try to bring upon you. In addition to these things, you seem to me to be betraying your own sons whom, while it is open to you to raise and educate, you would rush to abandon. Of course, as far as you are concerned, your sons will fare as chance would have it. But the likelihood is that they will fare as typical orphans do. One should either not have children or, else, share in the task of raising and educating them. But you, it seems to me, are choosing the easiest course of action. One must choose, however, what the good and manly man would choose, especially if one claimed throughout his life that he cared for virtue. For my part, I am ashamed on behalf of both you yourself and us, your friends, in case it is thought that this whole affair surrounding you has concluded the way it has on account of some sort of unmanliness on all our parts.13 I mean, regarding the 11

Thebes is about 60 kilometres northwest of Athens, was the urban centre of Boeotia, and was one of the major cities of Greece. Simmias was in the inner circle of Socrates’ friends, and is in his thirties. He helped Crito with funds for Socrates’ escape from prison. Cebes is roughly the same age as Simmias and also part of this inner circle. Xenophon reports that both Cebes and Simmias (as well as Apollodorus and Antisthenes, two other companions of Socrates’) were not only all bound by their friendship to Socrates, but also by their patronage of a high-class hetaira (prostitute or courtesan) named Theodote. Simmias and Cebes play a major dramatic role in the Phaedo. 12 Later in the dialogue, when Socrates “channels” Laws of Athens, it is clear that the Laws take Thessaly to be a licentious and degenerate place. 13 The Greek for “unmanliness” here is anandria, typically translated as “cowardice.”

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introduction of the case to court [i.e., the very first phase of the affair], that it did end up in court when it was possible for it not to have gone to court at all. I mean, regarding the trial itself, how it went.14 I mean, especially, that this last phase [the imprisonment and imminent execution], this source of ridicule, will appear to have got away from us15 on account of some sort of baseness or unmanliness on all our parts, in that neither we managed to save you nor you managed to save yourself, when it was possible and manageable all along, had we been good for carrying out even the simplest of tasks. Take heed of these considerations, Socrates, so that evil is not compounded by dishonour for you and us. So, consider, though it is no longer the time for deliberating on what you ought to have decided already, one course of action: that everything must be done in the course of the coming night. If we delay, it will be impossible. Heed every thing I say, Socrates, and do not do otherwise. Socrates: My dear Crito, your zeal would be of great importance, if it b aimed at the right thing; otherwise, the greater it is, the harder it will be to handle. We have therefore to consider whether or not we must do what you recommend. For I am the sort of person who, not just now but always, does not follow the call of anything else in me except the reason which seems to me on reflection to be the best. I cannot throw away now the considerations I upheld in the past just because my fortunes have taken their present course. c They rather seem to me to be still very much what they were, and I respect and honour the same ones as before. If we have no better ones to offer in the present instance, be sure that I shall not agree with you, not even if the power of the multitude attempted, beyond what it has already done, to scare us, like The sense of the term here involves not just cowardice, but more an inability to get things done or to finish a task in accordance with one’s wishes, or more specific to the context at hand, an inability to extricate oneself from a difficult situation. Athens during the classical period was in general a very male-dominated (or in modern terms, sexist) culture. Frequently philosophers, like Pythagoras, Plato himself, and Zeno the Stoic, bucked this trend. 14 Crito is greatly concerned with how this whole affair, especially the verdict, will look in the eyes of the many, and the consequent shame or dishonour it will bring upon him, Socrates (even after his death), and their circle. Since it was entirely possible for the trial to have issued in acquittal, the many will attribute the guilty verdict and extreme penalty to incompetence, that is, to the inability or “unmanliness” of those in Socrates’ circle to manage the situation in line with their own wishes. See nn. 13 and 15 about this concern. 15 In other words, “we have not managed it in line with our own wishes.” Crito regards the ultimate result or outcome of the trial as still up in the air. As long as escape is possible, the members of the Socratic circle still have a chance to redeem their reputations, that is, their “manliness.” Crito’s arguments reveal to the reader the effects that a culture based on how things look — that is, a culture based on honour and shame, with the resultant communal scrutiny of the individual — can have on an individual’s behaviour. One can also see how much Socrates cares about such things.

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children, by meting out imprisonment, death or loss of estate. How then are we to consider the matter most reasonably? Perhaps if we take up the argument you offer about opinions. Was it, or was it not, always well said that one should pay attention to some opinions but not to others? Or is it the case that it was well said before the issue of my death came up but now it has become transparently clear that somehow it was not well said, that it was really childish nonsense? I am eager to inquire in common with you, Crito, into whether this proposition should appear different to me, given my present position, or still the same, and whether we should say good-bye to it or follow it. In my view, something of the sort was always asserted by those who thought they had something significant to say, namely that, as I was just saying, of the opinions men hold some should be taken seriously and others not. In heaven’s name, Crito, doesn’t this seem to you to be well said? I ask you because you are not likely, as far as human prospects go, to die tomorrow, and the present calamity would not distort your judgment. So consider. Does it not seem to you to be justifiably enough said that one should not respect every opinion which men express, but only some and not others, and not every man’s opinions but only those of some and not of others? What do you say? Aren’t these things well said? Crito: Yes, they are. Socrates: Then one should respect the good opinions and not the bad ones? Crito: Yes Socrates: Are the good opinions those of the wise and the bad ones those of the foolish? Crito: How else? Socrates: Well then, how about the following? When a man is in physical training and practising at it, does he pay attention to the praise or blame or opinions from everybody, or just to those of that single man who happens to be a physician or a trainer? Crito: Of that single man. Socrates: Then he should fear the blame and welcome the praise of that single man but not those of the multitude. Crito: Obviously. Socrates: This then is the way he must practise, train, eat or drink: whatever way seems right to that single man, the one with knowledge and expertise, rather than the way that seems right to all the others put together. Crito: That’s so. Socrates: Good. If he does not obey that single man, and shows no respect for his opinions and his praise, but listens to what is said by the multitude who have no knowledge, will he come to some harm?

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Crito: How can he avoid it? Socrates: What’s this harm? What’s its target, what part of the disobedient person? Crito: Obviously at his body; for that is what is being ruined. Socrates: You are right. Now, is this true also of other things generally, to save us from going through them all, and in particular of things just and unjust, fine and shameful, good and bad — which are in fact the things we are presently deliberating about? Should we follow and fear the opinion of the multitude or that of the single man, if there is such a man with expert knowledge, before whom we should feel shame and fear rather than before all the others put together? If we do not follow him, we shall corrupt and mutilate that part of us which is improved by justice and ruined by injustice. Isn’t that so? Crito: I certainly think so. Socrates: Consider next. If, by following the advice of non-experts, we destroy that part of us which is improved by health and corrupted by disease, will our life be worth living once that part is destroyed? The part I mean is the body. You agree? Crito: Yes. Socrates: Is our life, then, worth living with a body that is in bad condition and corrupted? Crito: No way. Socrates: But is our life worth living when that part of us is spoiled which is benefited by what is right and mutilated by what is wrong? Or do we think it to be less important than the body, that part of us, whatever it is in us, with which right and wrong are concerned? Crito: Certainly not. Socrates: It is more valuable instead? Crito: Yes, much more. Socrates: In that case, we should not take into account at all what the multitude will say about us, but only what that man says who knows about right and wrong; I mean, that single man and truth itself. So, in the first place, you are wrong in proposing that we must take into account popular opinion about the right, the fine, the good and their opposites. “And yet,” somebody might say, “the multitude are capable of killing us.” Crito: Indeed, that’s clear — for it would be said. You are right. Socrates: But the line of argument we have just been through seems to me to be still just as it was before. And this in turn is what you must examine to see if it still holds good for us or not, namely that it is not mere living but living well that is to be most highly prized.

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Crito: But it does hold good. Socrates: And the proposition that living well is identical with living honourably and justly — does that hold or not? Crito: Yes, it does. Socrates: Then, following on what we have agreed, this has to be examined: whether it is right for me to try to get away from here without being released by the city, or whether it is not right. And if it seems right, then let us try; if it does not, we are to drop it. As for the considerations you mention about the spending of money, reputation and the upbringing of children, I am afraid those are really the notions of the multitude who, without any understanding, would lightly kill a man or, indeed, if they could, bring a man back to life. But we, on the other hand, since reason and argument determine our choice, should consider nothing else save what we just now mentioned, namely whether we shall be acting rightly in laying out money and giving thanks to those who will get me out of here, or whether, rescuers and rescued alike, we shall really be acting wrongly in doing all those things. And, if it appears that we would be doing what is wrong, then surely we must not take into account, as against doing wrong, either our having to die, if we stay here and do nothing, or our having to suffer anything else. Crito: I think what you say, Socrates, is fine. But consider what we are to do. Socrates: Let us examine it together, good friend, and if you have any considerations against my argument, produce them and I shall do what you say. Otherwise, stop right now, dear man, saying the same thing over and over, that I must get away from here against the will of the Athenians. I myself attach much importance to acting in this matter having first persuaded you, rather than against your will. Now consider the starting point of our inquiry to see if it is stated to your satisfaction, and try to reply to the questions in the way you deem best. Crito: I’ll try. Socrates: Do we agree that on no account are we to act unjustly if we can help it? Or that in some cases one is to act unjustly, in others not? Do we agree now, as we have agreed many times in the past, that there is no way in which doing what is unjust is either good or honourable? Or have all those things that we used to agree on been discarded in these last few days? Have you and I at our age, Crito, been all this time earnestly conversing with each other while failing to notice that we are no different from children? Or isn’t it the case, above all else, that things are now as we used to maintain before: whether the public says so or not, whether we must face conditions harsher or

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easier than the present ones, still, acting unjustly is utterly bad and shameful for the agent? Is that what we agree on or not? Crito: We do. Socrates: We must not, then, act unjustly in any way whatsoever. Crito: Not at all. Socrates: Then, a man who has been unjustly treated must not act unjustly in return, as the multitude think, since one must not act unjustly under any circumstances. Crito: Apparently he should not. Socrates: What about this? Must one treat people badly or not? Crito: Certainly not. Socrates: Again, for a man who has been treated badly to give back bad treatment in return, is that, as the multitude think, just, or is it unjust? Crito: It is not just at all. Socrates: Because, I suppose, treating men badly does not differ from treating them unjustly. Crito: That’s true. Socrates: Then one must neither return unjust treatment to any men nor treat them badly, no matter what treatment one gets from them. And look out, Crito, that in conceding these points you do not agree to something contrary to your real views. For I know that only a few people do or will ever hold this view. There is no common ground for deliberation between those who hold such a view and those who do not. Instead, they necessarily regard one another with contempt when they consider one another’s resolutions. So, do consider very thoroughly whether we are to make that the starting point of our deliberations — namely that it is never the part of an upright man either to act unjustly or to return unjust treatment for unjust treatment received, or, if he is being badly treated, to defend himself by retaliating with bad treatment — or whether you dissociate yourself from, and do not share, the principle from which I started. I myself have believed this for a long time, and still do; but, if you have formed some other opinion, say so and explain it to me. But, if you still hold to our old view, listen to my next point. Crito: I do hold to it and agree with it. Speak on. Socrates: Well, here’s the next point, or rather question. Must a man do whatever he has agreed to be just, or is he to act deceitfully? Crito: He must do. Socrates: Then, on that basis, answer the following: if we leave the prison without having convinced the city, would we or would we not treat anyone badly, and in particular those we should least of all so treat, and would we or would we not abide by those things which we have agreed were just?

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142 Crito: I cannot answer your question, Socrates, for I do not understand it. Socrates: Well, look at it this way. Suppose that, as we were considering the escape, or whatever else you wish to call it, the Laws of the city and the Public came and, standing over us, asked, “Tell us, Socrates, what you have in mind to do?16 Do you intend, by your contemplated action, anything else b but, so far as it is in your power, to destroy us, the laws, and the entire city? Or does it seem possible to you that a city in which decisions of courts have no authority but are nullified and destroyed by private citizens will continue to survive and will not be turned upside down?” What shall we say, Crito, to these points and others like them? One, especially if he were a speaker in the Assembly or in court, would have plenty to say in defense of the law that is being nullified, the one declaring that verdicts of courts are authoritative. c Shall we say to them that “the city treated us unjustly in that it did not judge our case correctly”? Shall we say that or what? Crito: We’ll say that, by God! Socrates: What if the Laws replied: “But, Socrates, were these items included in the agreement between ourselves and yourself, or [was the agreement] simply that one abides by the judgments rendered by the city?” And if we are puzzled by what they are saying, they might continue: “Stop being puzzled, d Socrates, and answer our question, especially since you are in the habit of asking questions and giving replies. By appeal to what considerations against the city and us are you trying to destroy us? Did we not, in the first place, give birth to you in that it was through us that your father took your mother as his wife and begat you? Explain then, do you find anything wrong with those laws among us which regulate marriages?” “I do not,” I should say. “Or, again, with those laws on the upbringing of children and their education, the very education you yourself have received? Or didn’t the laws, established to e regulate this area, prescribe well, when they directed your father to provide you with mental and physical education?” “They prescribed well,” I should say. “Well, since you were born, brought up and educated through us, could you deny, in the first instance, that you were our very own offspring and slave, you yourself and your progenitors? If this is so, do you then think that you and we have equal rights, and that it is right [just] for you to do to us in retaliation 51 the very things we might try on you? Or is it the case that, on the one hand, in relation to your father or master, if you had one, you did not have equal rights so as to give back to them what treatment you received from them — that is, you are not to talk back when chastised nor to hit back when struck and so on — while on the other hand, in relation to your fatherland and its laws, 16

“Public” translates to koinon, which literally means “the common” or “the community.”

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retaliatory reaction will be allowed to you so that, if we try to destroy you, thinking it to be just [right], then you will in return attempt, as far as you can, to destroy us, the laws and the fatherland, and claim, you the man who truly cares for virtue, that in so doing you are doing what is just [right]?17 Or is your wisdom of such sort as to have escaped your notice: that the fatherland is to be prized and revered above, and is more sacred than, one’s mother, father and all the rest of one’s progenitors; that it is held in greater esteem both among the gods and men of understanding; that one must pay honour to the fatherland, and be more submissive and conciliatory to it, when it is angry, than to one’s father; that one must either persuade it otherwise or do what it commands and suffer in silence anything it orders one to suffer — whether one is to be flogged or placed in prison or led out to war to be wounded or to die, these things one must do; that it is right that one must not give ground or withdraw or abandon one’s post, but, whether in war or in law courts or anywhere else, one must do what the city and the fatherland commands or else persuade it where justice lies; that to use violence against one’s mother or father is not pious, and it is much worse still to use violence against one’s fatherland?” What shall we say in response to these points, Crito? Are the Laws right or not? Crito: It seems so to me. Socrates: “Consider now, Socrates,” the Laws might continue, “if we are right when we say that you would not be acting justly towards us in doing what you are trying to do. For, despite the fact that we gave you, and all the rest of the citizens, birth, nurture, education and all the good things in our power, we nevertheless declare — by means of empowering any Athenian who so wishes it, when he comes of age, becomes acquainted with the affairs of the city and its laws and does not find us to his satisfaction — that one may leave the city with all his belongings and go wherever he pleases.18 And in fact none of us Laws hinders or forbids anyone from going with his belongings wherever he wishes, whether he wishes to go to one of our colonies or to take up residence as an alien somewhere else. But whoever stays in the city, seeing the way in which we decide cases in the courts and the other ways in which we administer 17 “Fatherland” translates the Greek term patris. Interestingly, even though the word has “father” in it (patr ), the gender is feminine. 18 The phrase “comes of age” (dokimaz¯ o ) refers to the Athenian institution of epheibia, a two-year military service for all eighteen year-old Athenians. The service also included “political” education in the broad sense of the term. Upon its completion, the now twenty year-olds underwent a largely ceremonial testing (dokimasia), took an oath and became a full-fledged citizen. So, the phrase “comes of age” should be understood as having the sense of becoming a citizen.

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the city, that man, we claim, has already agreed with us, by his acts, that he will perform whatever we command him; and the disobedient, we claim, treats us unjustly in three ways: he does not obey us though we are his parents and his nurturers, and, despite his having agreed to obey us, he neither obeys nor persuades us that we are doing something not well.19 Though we propose and do not harshly demand that he do what we command and allow him one of two choices, either to persuade us or do, he does neither. We claim that you too, Socrates, if in fact you carry through with what you have in mind, will be guilty of these charges, and you more so, not less, than any other Athenian.” If I were to ask, “Now, why is that so?” they might perhaps justifiably come down on me contending that I am among those Athenians who have most fully entered into this agreement with them. For, they would say, “Socrates, we have strong evidence for this, namely that you liked both us and the city. The manner of your residence in the city would not have been a point of difference between you and all the other Athenians if your liking for the city were not itself also a point of difference. You never went out of the city for a festival, except once to the Isthmus; nor anywhere else or for any other reason except on military service. Nor did you ever undertake any travel as other people do; the desire did not get hold of you to become acquainted with another city or with other laws, but we and our city were enough for you. So strongly you chose us — and [in so doing] you agreed to conduct your public life in accordance with us — that, in addition to other things, you begat children in the city, evidently because the city was to your satisfaction.20 Furthermore, during the trial itself, it was open to you, if you wanted, to propose exile as the counter-penalty, and you could have done then, with the city’s consent, what you are now trying to do against its wishes. You were preening yourself then on being undistressed over the prospect of dying and chose, as you said at the time, death before exile. But now, you are unashamed of those speeches and, in trying to destroy us, disrespectful of us the laws. You behave as the meanest of slaves would, attempting to escape contrary to the compacts and agreements in accordance with which you undertook to conduct your public life. So, in the first place, answer us whether we are right or wrong in saying that you have agreed, by your deeds, never mind your words, to conduct your public life in accordance with us.” What are we to say to these things, Crito? Must we not agree? Crito: Necessarily, Socrates. 19

The Greek text says literally “. . . if we are doing something not well.” As mentioned in the introduction (p. 130), the agreement (i.e., the “contract”) between Socrates and the city is implicit. The “signature” is the choice to reside there. It was “re-signed” when he decided to raise children there. 20

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Socrates: “In the second place,” they might say, “are you not violating the compacts and agreements you have with us, though you made them not under coercion or deception, nor under pressure to decide on the spur of the moment, but for seventy years during which time it was open to you to leave the city, if we were not to your satisfaction or the agreements did not appear to you to be just.21 You preferred neither Sparta nor Crete, which you often said were well-governed, nor any other of the Greek or barbarian states; and so you went out of it less than even the lame, blind and the other handicapped. It is obvious that you liked very much, in a way that set you apart from the rest of the Athenians, not only the city but also us, its laws. For, indeed, what man would find to his satisfaction a city apart from its laws? And now, you shall not stand by what has been agreed? But you will, Socrates, if you are persuaded by us and do not allow the escape to make you look ridiculous. “Consider now what good you might do to yourself and your friends by violating these agreements or falling short of any of them. That those close to you risk being prosecuted themselves and, consequently, losing their civic status or their estates is plain enough. As for yourself, in the first place, if you go to one of the cities nearest us, Thebes or Megara, you will arrive as an enemy to their constitution, for they are both well-governed. Those who care for their cities would look upon you with suspicion, as they would hold you to be a destroyer of laws. You will also confirm in the minds of the judges their belief in your guilt, so that they will now think that they really did judge your case correctly. For, whoever is a corruptor of laws would undoubtedly be believed somehow to be also a corruptor of young and thoughtless men. So, which will you do? Will you avoid the well-governed cities and their orderly citizens? But if you do that, would life be worth living for you? Or would you associate with them and, without feeling any shame at all, engage them in dialogue? What views will you offer them, Socrates? The ones you would present here in Athens, that virtue, justice, custom and law are of the highest value to men?22 Don’t you think that the ‘Socrates Phenomenon’ would then appear ugly? Well, you should. “But suppose you keep away from these places and go instead to Thessaly, among Crito’s friends. There, of course, reigns disorder and license; and so they might listen with pleasure to your story of the ridiculous details of your 21

The point here is that any coercion on the part of the state against Socrates (for example, to make him stay, to force him to be a citizen against his wishes, etc.) would have allowed him to break or nullify the contract, or to argue justifiably that no valid contract was ever made. Contract law today has similar provisions. 22 “Custom” translates ta nomima. A nomimon is any social or political norm that is not enshrined in a statute but does have the authority or effect of law.

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escape: how you wrapped yourself in some kind of gear, a peasant’s hide coat or whatever other contraption escapees are in the habit of using, and thus disguising yourself . . . Will there be no one to confront you with the question of how you, an old man, with, as is likely, a little time left in his life, dared to desire life so shamefully while violating the highest laws?23 Perhaps not . . . if you do not upset anyone. Otherwise, Socrates, you shall hear many things which will do you no honour. Shall you, then, live your life insinuating yourself, like a slave, into everybody’s favour, doing nothing else but wining and dining as if you went to Thessaly on a dinner appointment? Where would they be, all those speeches of ours about justice and the rest of virtue? “But suppose now you want to go on living for the sake of your children, so that you may raise and educate them? Well, suppose you take them with you to Thessaly. Will you raise and educate them so that they may also enjoy your having made foreigners out of them? Or, if you do not take them with you, will the children be better raised and educated, if they are reared with you alive but not living with them, because supposedly your friends will then take care of them? What does this argument mean? That your friends will look after your children if you leave for Thessaly but not if you leave for the Hades?24 We must believe that they will, if those who call themselves your friends are worth anything at all. “In any case, Socrates, in obedience to us, your nurturers, place neither children nor life nor anything else above what is right, so that, when you come to the Hades, you will have all this to say in your defence before the rulers down there. For doing any of these things does not appear, here and now, to be better or more just or more pious for you or for those close to you; nor will it be better once you arrive at the Hades. As things stand now, you will depart, if you depart, as a man who was treated unjustly, though not by us, the Laws, but by men. But, if you escape — thus shamefully returning injustice for injustice and bad treatment for bad treatment, violating your compacts and agreements with us and working evil on those you least ought to, namely, yourself, your friends, your fatherland and us — then we shall be angry with you while you live, and our brothers, the Laws in the Hades, will not receive you kindly down there, knowing that you undertook, so far as in you lay, to destroy us. So, do not let Crito persuade you to do what he proposes. Instead, be persuaded by us.” 23 The sense is “you had the gall to violate the most important laws on account of your shameful desire to cling to a bit more life.” I read, with most manuscripts, aischros (“shamefully“) for glischros (“so much,” “greedily”) at 53e1. 24 Hades is the underworld, where all humans go after they die except in cases of divine intervention.

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Let me tell you, dear friend, that I seem to hear these things as the Corybants appear to hear the pipes. 25 In me, too, the sound of these words so reverberates that makes me unable to hear the other words.26 So, understand well that, if you argue against the views I hold at present, you will contend in vain. Still, if you think that you may achieve anything, then speak on. Crito: I have nothing to say, Socrates. Socrates: Then, let it be, Crito, and let us act in this way because God is leading us to it.

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Introduction !TEX root = /Users/Darcy/Documents/Plato Book/Book.tex

Phaedo — Introduction Place and Time The Phaedo recounts the story of Socrates’ last hours in 399, comprising a discussion on the immortality of the soul and culminating in the death of Socrates, who drinks poison hemlock, carrying out the sentence imposed upon him by the Athenian court. The scene is reported to Echecrates by Phaedo who witnessed Socrates’ last hours first hand. Phaedo is not the central interlocutor in the dialogue that bears his name. The bulk of the reported conversation is between Socrates and two Theban Pythagoreans, Simmias and Cebes; the dialogue is full of Pythagorean elements and overtones that are absent from the other dialogues that create a lasting portrait of Socrates. In the opening of the Phaedo, we get a fuller account of something alluded to in the Crito, namely the ceremonial ship’s journey from Athens to Delos commemorating Theseus’ slaying of the Minotaur. This festival was originally declared when Athens was at peace. Thus, it was decreed that no public executions should be carried out during the festival. Since Socrates was convicted at the beginning of ceremonial ship’s journey, his execution was delayed until the return of the ceremonial ship. Plato is conspicuously absent from the scene marking Socrates’ last hours — he is said to be sick — although he was present at Socrates’ trial, when Socrates identifies him as a friend in the course of his defence. Indeed the Apology is the only dialogue in which Plato writes himself as is present. Plato never speaks in his own writings; the Apology allows him to be present, since the formalized proceedings of the court trial preclude his having to say something. Yet Plato could hardly have excused himself from saying something at the execution of the man whom he deemed the best, most wise, and justest man who ever lived. Either he was truly violently ill and grieving at the gross injustice being perpetrated on Socrates, or he was disappointed that Socrates was going through with the execution and not escaping with Crito, or Plato 149

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was present but claims (though Phaedo) that he was not so that he does not have to speak. For surely were he present, he would have to say something about or to his martyred mentor on his deathbed.

Phaedo Phaedo (c. 430–350) was a contemporary of Plato, and like Plato, one of Socrates’ close companions. He is traditionally described as being from Elis, a city in the northwest Peloponnese; but in the Phaedo, Plato describes him as being a citizen of Phleiasios, a city midway between Corinth and Argos. Tradition has it that Phaedo was taken as a prisoner of war by the Spartans in his youth. While he was a prisoner, some say he was forced into prostitution, and it was as a sex-slave that he ended up in Athens. This tradition claims that he was freed from this profession at the behest of Socrates, who encouraged some rich friends to purchase Phaedo’s freedom. While still young, Phaedo became a member of Socrates’ circle of friends, and he is this age in the dialogue. Phaedo established a philosophical school in Elis, presumably after Socrates’ death. Phaedo is known to have written at least two Socratic dialogues, Zopyrus and Simon, although only some fragments and testimonia of the former survive. As mentioned, although Phaedo is narrating Socrates’ final conversations and the circumstances surrounding his death, within those conversations, Phaedo himself has very little to say, and nothing of argumentative import: Socrates’ discussion with him is simply one of encouragement not to become a “misologue”; that is, a philosophical sceptic about arguments concerning the nature of the soul (89b–91b). So, why is Phaedo, in a sense, at the center of the dialogue? Phaedo has a central, important position in the dialogue arguably because of his connection to the Pythagorean tradition. This connection is exemplified in the Phaedo in several ways: by Socrates’ teaming up with Phaedo against Simmias and Cebes (both of whom knew the Pythagorean Philolaos but seemed ignorant (61d) of his positions); by Phaedo’s interlocutor Echecrates, who was part of the last known generation of traditional Pythagoreans; and by Phaedo’s dialogue Zopyrus. Phaedo’s Zopyrus has Zopyrus visiting Athens and claiming he can determine a person’s character by their physical appearance. He proceeds to work on Socrates, whom he characterizes as being unintelligent and immoral. Others present think Zopyrus is crazy, but Socrates stops them and tells them that Zopyrus is right, but that he has been able to overcome these faults by practising philosophy. The Zopyrus of Phaedo’s dialogue is usually thought to be fictional, or some otherwise unknown Persian. However,

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Phaedo’s Zopyrus could possibly refer to one Zopyrus of Tarentum (5th c.), who was a Pythagorean of the same generation as Philolaos, connected somehow to Plato’s Pythagorean friend Archytas, a military engineer, and perhaps the author of an Orphic poem (the Krater ) which lies behind the myths in the Phaedo. If this interpretation of Zopyrus is correct, then Phaedo’s dialogue is clearly about topics similar to Plato’s, and not just about physiognomy: both claim that reincarnation is the case; that one’s behaviour in past lives affects future lives; that philosophy is the means by which one can purify oneself, of which Socrates is a living example. However, some evidence suggests that Phaedo did not claim in his dialogue that the soul is immortal. Plato’s dialogue, then, can perhaps be seen as picking up where Phaedo’s Zopyrus left off, by refuting the harmony and weaver theories of the soul, by showing the soul is immortal, and by supporting the other ideas Phaedo defends. This is arguably why Phaedo is at the center of one of Plato’s finest dialogues.

Argumentum The main discussion in the Phaedo surrounds the immortality of the soul, and of what proof it might be susceptible. Initially Socrates suggests that because all things come from their opposites, death must come from life and life from death. A second argument put forth by Socrates invokes the famous Theory of Recollection, believed to have Pythagorean roots. The Theory of Recollection is motivated by the paradox that learning is impossible, on the grounds that neither can we learn what we know since we already know it, nor can we learn what we don’t know because we will not know what we are looking for. The Theory of Recollection resolves the issue by claiming that learning is actually recollecting knowledge that we have acquired in a previous state of soul. If his theory is correct, then it requires that the soul must exist before birth. Cebes interjects that even if one grants the Theory of Recollection and the requisite existence of the prenatal soul, this is no guarantee that the soul will survive death. Simmias and Cebes go on to introduce some conceptions of the soul that would seem to be problematic for maintaining that it survives death. Simmias starts by discussing the common conception of the soul as a harmony. In the case of musical instruments, once the instrument is destroyed, the harmony that it produces also ceases to exist. In the case of the soul then, would this not imply that when its instrument (the body) ceases to exist, the harmony (the soul) produced by the instrument also ceases to exist? Cebes suggests, along

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the analogy of a weaver and his cloaks, that a weaver may make and wear out many cloaks in his lifetime, but when he dies, he is (necessarily) wearing the last cloak he has woven. Cebes’s fear is that, if the soul is like the weaver who wears many cloaks, it seems to follow that when the soul finally perishes, it is inhabiting the last body it will ever inhabit. What if our current life is like the last cloak? Socrates’ response to Simmias’ objection is that the notion of the soul as a harmony is a poor analogy, since it goes against the Theory of Recollection that has already been granted. The Theory of Recollection suggests that the soul exists prior to the body, whereas the harmony produced by a musical instrument does not. Socrates’ response to Cebes is that the soul participates most of all in the idea of being alive, and as such it will not admit of its opposite, being dead; as such it is right to claim that the soul is immortal. After a myth about what happens to us when we die, the dialogue closes with a moving account of Socrates drinking the poison hemlock in accordance with his sentence, and his memorable last words, in which he instructs his friend Crito to sacrifice a cock to Aesclepius, the god of healing. These last words suggest Socrates believes himself to be healed of this life, and that the poison is his medicine.

Death, Purification, and Philosophy The Phaedo covers many topics, not only the last hours of Socrates’ life, but also the Theory of Forms, the Theory of Recollection, the nature of the soul, myths about the afterlife, and more. However, there are three interconnected themes which unify all these disparate topics into a coherent whole — as exemplified in the concluding Platonic myth (107c–114c) — and at the same time provide a clue as to why Phaedo has the aforementioned important position in this dialogue: death, purification and the role of philosophy. Death. Socrates’ execution by poison is the dramatic and emotional backbone of the dialogue, to which all other topics and literary devices are fixed. However, the issue for Plato is not so much Socrates’ death, but death itself. Death is argued as something to be hopeful about, not feared or resented. Although death is such, Socrates defends the position of the Pythagorean Philolaos that suicide violates natural and divine law. The philosophical “axiom,” so to speak, that provides the basis for many positions defended in the dialogue is Plato’s definition of death: Death is the complete separation or release of the soul from the body. This axiom raises problems about the nature of the soul itself, problems which Plato attempts to resolve by arguing for reincarnation.

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Without reincarnation, Plato argues, all life would come to an end. Plato uses the argument for reincarnation to put forward or to uphold other philosophical positions. For example, this argument is based upon his theory of contraries: if reincarnation is true, then the Theory of Recollection is true; and the Theory of Forms entails reincarnation. In fact, Plato grounds the position that the soul is immortal on reincarnation, and then argues against the claim that reincarnation guarantees past existence, but does not guarantee future existence. This argument involves Plato’s theory of simples and composites, and a development of the theory that there are two levels of reality, the visible, which is corporeal, and the “unseen,” which is incorporeal and soul-like. Certain problems subsequently arise which are articulated by Cebes and Simmias, both of whom were acquainted with Philolaos. First, Simmias introduces an alternative theory about the nature of the soul, one which holds the soul to be a kind of harmony. Plato argues that the harmony theory is false if recollection is true. Second, Cebes puts forward a “worn out” theory of the soul, which agrees that reincarnation and recollection are true, but holds that it is possible for the soul to get worn out through its continual rebirths, ultimately perishing at some point simultaneous with its last body. In order to respond to Cebes’ theory, Plato makes Socrates relate his philosophical development, focussing on an account of causation, the Theory of Forms, and proposes a theory of contraries. Purification. The notion of purity is introduced right away in the context of Socrates’ pending execution. Socrates was not immediately executed after his sentence because Athens had to remain “pure” during a religious ceremony involving a consecrated ship travelling to and from Delos; executing him in the midst of the ceremony would have polluted the city, offending the god Apollo. In regard to individuals, since reincarnation is the case, and the soul is immortal, it seems that one’s actions in any life will affect one’s status thereafter. Therefore, one’s goal should be to purify oneself; that is, to act in such a way that one dies unpolluted, that one’s situation after death is most beneficial. From the axiom mentioned above, Plato concludes that one’s degree of purification is proportional to the degree one is able to separate the soul from the body. Accordingly, the body is the corruptive or polluting factor, the soul is not. Hence, the ways in which one is tied to the body at the moment of death affects how one will be reborn thereafter. Those who are not purified will suffer after death, but those who are purified will be happy. Philosophy. For Plato, the role of philosophy is to be the means by which one purifies oneself. Death is the complete separation or release of the soul from the body, and purification is dependent on the degree to which one has

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been able to separate oneself from the body. Philosophy in turn is the practise that prepares one for death by training one to separate oneself from the body. Therefore, philosophers have no fear of death. What philosophy strives for is understanding (phronesis), which is the foundation of all genuine virtue and excellence, and understanding is itself a purifier. What understanding strives for is an apprehension of reality — of which the Forms are most exemplary — and accordingly, reality is most clearly apprehended when the body is least involved in one’s thinking. However, recollection, which includes “preconception” of these Forms, interestingly needs sense perception — and hence, a body — in order to become activated (so, apparently the body is not entirely loathsome or worthless). Since doing philosophy is the only way to reach the divine realm after death and to escape a succession of rebirths, Socrates tells his companions to do as much philosophy as they can before they die. This clearly makes the Phaedo an example of a protreptic dialogue. These three themes tie Plato to the Pythagorean tradition in Greek philosophy. Pythagoras (c.560–480) was the first prominent Greek philosopher to theorize about death and the purificatory role of philosophy outside the context of traditional devotional religion. Pythagoras was also the first known philosopher to introduce and to endorse the theory of reincarnation in the Greek world. Plato refers to Philolaos, who was the first person to make Pythagoras’ teachings public — before, they were kept secret only among initiated individuals. Plato also makes reference to so-called secret teachings, hearsay, initiation, mystical rites, and so on throughout the Phaedo, all of which can be taken as code words that refer to the Pythagorean tradition.

Phaedo Echecrates: Were you, Phaedo, with Socrates on that day he drank the potion in the prison, or did you hear about it from someone else? Phaedo: I was there myself, Echecrates.1 Echecrates: So, what were the things he said before his death? How did he die? I’ll gladly hear it all. Hardly any citizens of Phleiasios2 are in the habit 1

Echecrates was described as one of the “last” Pythagoreans, and was also described as a student of Philolaus (see below). This so-called “last” generation was active apparently around 370-360. (One interpretation of the meaning of “last” here is that this was the last generation of independent or traditional Pythagoreans before their merging with, or subsumption into, Plato’s Academy.) As indicated in the introduction, tradition holds that Phaedo is from Elis; it also holds that Echecrates is from Phleiasios and that the dialogue takes place there. The primary evidence for Phaedo’s native city is that he started a school in Elis. However, just because someone started a school in a city does not entail that that person was from that city: for example, Aristotle was from Stagira, yet opened the Lyceum in Athens. It really seems that the tradition is based on a misunderstanding. It is Echecrates who says in the dialogue, while talking to Phaedo, that “[h]ardly any of the citizens of Phleiasios are in the habit of visiting Athens these days, and no foreigner has arrived from abroad for a long time . . . .” The Greek is “kai gar oute t¯ on polit¯ on Phleiasi¯ on oudeis panu ti epikh¯ oriazei ta nn Ath¯enaze, oute tis xenos aphktai khronou sukhnou ekeithen . . . .” This translates literally as something like “and [particle] neither of the citizens of Phleiasios none quite to any degree are in the habit of making a visit to Athens in these times, nor any foreigner/foreign guest has arrived for a time long from that place . . . ” So, the most straightforward interpretation of this statement is that Echecrates is in Athens, Phaedo is from Phleiasios, and Phaedo is in the habit of visiting Athens (like few others). The phrase “tis xenos” is very general, and thus is not referring solely to Phaedo and seems to imply that Echecrates has Athenian citizenship; since “tis xenos” is so general, it seems better to take “ekeithen” as saying something like “from outside Athens,” instead of specifically meaning “from Phleiasios.” Thus, if this interpretation is correct, and this exchange was based on fact, then it is most plausible to say that (1) Phaedo is a citizen of Phleiasios, (2) Echecrates is likely a (naturalized) citizen of Athens, and (3) the location of the dialogue is in Athens. For the tradition to be correct to any degree, Echecrates would have to be talking about himself obliquely in this passage, which is highly unlikely. Thus, I hold that the tradition is wrong on three counts. 2 Phleiasios was Dorian city half-way between Corinth and Argos in the Peloponnese. One possible reason why few Phleiasians were visiting Athens at the time was that Phleiasios

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of visiting Athens these days, and no foreigner has arrived from abroad for a long time who has been able to report something clear to us, save that he died by drinking the potion.3 They’ve had nothing more to tell. Phaedo: You haven’t heard any news about what happened during his trial? Echecrates: Yes, someone had reported these things to us, and we were amazed, to say the least, that he appeared to have died some time after it happened. Why was this, Phaedo? Phaedo: A bit of luck came his way. The stern of the ship the Athenians send to Delos4 happened to be crowned the day before. Echecrates: What ship? Phaedo: The ship, the Athenians say, in which Theseus, some time ago, brought the “Twice Seven” to Crete. He saved them, and was saved himself. They were said to make a vow to Apollo at the time, that, if they were saved, each year they would send out an official mission to Delos — a mission they send to this day.5 Whenever they begin the mission, the law states that the city is to be pure during that time, and no one in the public jail is to be killed before the ship makes the trip to Delos and back. Every once in a while this trip takes a long time, whenever the winds happen to stop them. The starting point of the mission is whenever the priest of Apollo crowns the stern of the ship, and this happened, as I said, the day before the trial. So the time Socrates spent in prison between his trial and his death was quite long. Echecrates: What were the circumstances surrounding his death, Phaedo? What were the things said and done, and who among his friends was there? was in the midst of several wars against Sparta after 399 (the date of Socrates’ death). It ultimately fell to the Spartans in 379, who replaced the local democracy with a pro-Spartan oligarchy. Its Greek name is often transliterated as “Phlius.” 3 The standard means of executing Athenian citizens in Athens at the time was by making them drink a potion (to pharmakon). This potion was most likely a combination of lethal drugs, the principal one being hemlock, combined with others, perhaps poppy (see e.g., Theophrastus, On Plants 9.16.8). Hemlock is of the same plant family (Umbelliferae) as carrots, parsnips, parsley and dill. 4 Delos, an Ionian island in the Cyclades, was considered to be the birthplace of Apollo and his sister, Artemis. Athens had administrative control of the sanctuary to Apollo there. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and he was the god of purification, prophecy, young citizens, poetry, and healing. 5 Theseus is a legendary hero-king of Athens. The Twice Seven were seven male, and seven female, young virgins. Athens had to give these youths over to the Minotaur in Crete as a tribute to king Minos out of revenge for the death of his son, Androgeus. The Minotaur was the half-human, half-bull son of Minos’ wife Pasiphae. Theseus went as one of the seven males, and with the help of Minos’ daughter Ariadne, killed the Minotaur and “saved” Athens.

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Or, did he die in solitary confinement, with the Superiors6 not allowing any friends to be present? Phaedo: Not at all. There were some present. Many, in fact. Echecrates: Please give us the details of all of these things as clearly as you can, if you don’t happen to have other matters to attend to. Phaedo: I have plenty of time, and I’ll try to set everything out in detail for you. Recollecting Socrates, by talking about him myself or hearing about him from someone else, is always most pleasurable for me. Echecrates: You certainly have a group of listeners who feel the same, Phaedo. Now try to go through everything as accurately as you can. Phaedo: For me at least, it was an amazing experience being there, and although he was going off to his death, I was not gripped with pity for my great friend. The man, Echecrates, appeared to me to be happy, both in his manner and in his words, and he died so fearlessly and nobly that it dawned on me he was not going to Hades7 without divine providence, and that he will even do well when he gets there, if anyone ever has! On account of these things it never crossed my mind to feel any pity, although it would seem likely I’d be seized with grief, or some pleasure — or to feel any pleasure, even though we were in the midst of philosophy like we used to be, for some of our discussions were along those lines. However, a strange sensation did come over me, an unusual combination of pleasure mixed up with an equal portion of pain, by reflecting on the fact that Socrates was about to die. Everyone there was in a similar condition as that, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, especially Apollodorus.8 You know what he is like. Echecrates: I certainly do. Phaedo: So he was entirely overwhelmed; and I myself, the others too, were upset. 6

The Superiors (hoi arkhontes) were in the 5th and 4th centuries religious and judicial officials in Athens who conducted preliminary investigations, presided over court proceedings, selected juries, and were responsible for handling lawsuits. Their “corrections officers” were called “the Eleven” (59e). 7 Hades is one of the three realms in Greek mythology, and is ruled by Hades-Pluto. (The sky and the ocean are the other two, with Zeus ruling the former, and Poseidon the latter.) In traditional Greek religion, notably in Homer, Hades is a very gloomy, murky, unpleasant place where all humans go after they die except by direct divine intervention. However, various mystics and cults held that certain initiated individuals could, by doing certain practices, reach a more pleasant realm after death in the sky. Others, like Plato here, modified the standard conception of Hades.) 8 Apollodorus is from Phaleron and the same age as Plato’s brother Glaucon, which makes him somewhere in his late thirties or early forties at the time of Socrates’ death. Xenophon says he was one of the two most devoted followers of Socrates (the other was Antisthenes). He reportedly was a successful businessman who quit in order to be with Socrates full-time.

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Echecrates: Who happened to be there, Phaedo? Phaedo: Among the Athenians, besides Apollodorus, there was Critoboulos and his father Hermogenes, Epigenes, Aeschines and Antisthenes were there. Oh, and there was Ctesippos the paean-singer, Menexus, and some others. Plato, I think, was sick.9 Echecrates: Were there any foreigners there? Phaedo: Yes — Simmias, Cebes and Phaedondes from Thebes, and Euclides and Terpsion from Megara.10 Echecrates: What’s this? Aristippus and Cleombrontos weren’t there? Phaedo: No. It was said they were in Aegina.11 Echecrates: Was there anyone else present? Phaedo: I think this was just about everybody who was there. Echecrates: So — what were some of the discussions? Phaedo: I will try to set everything out in detail for you from the beginning. On all of the days prior to his death, both I and the others used to visit Socrates, 9

Critoboulos is the son of Crito; both father and son are from Alopece, a suburb of Athens and the same deme that Socrates is from. Crito is the roughly the same age as Socrates (70 years old), which would make Critoboulos a generation younger. Both father and son are wealthy, probably from agriculture. Crito had a central role in handling Socrates’ affairs (cf. Apology 33e and Phaedo 115b ff.). Hermogenes is also from Alopece and was a bastard son of the so-called “richest man in Greece,” Hipponicus II. Little is known of Epigenes of Cephasia. Aeschines of Sphettus wrote Socratic dialogues and speeches and had a very bad reputation as being poor, dissolute, and manipulative. Fragments of his Alcibiades and Aspasia still exist. Antisthenes of Athens had a group of followers or students after Socrates’ death, and apparently was one of the first to write Socratic dialogues, of which many fragments remain. 10 Thebes is about 60km northwest of Athens, was the urban center of Boeotia, and was one of the major cities of Greece. Simmias was in the inner circle of Socrates’ friends, and is his thirties in this dialogue. He helped Crito with funds in Crito’s plan for Socrates’ escape from prison. Cebes is roughly the same age as Simmias and also part of this inner circle. Xenophon reports that both Cebes and Simmias (as well as Apollodorus and Antisthenes) were all patrons of a high-class hetaira (prostitute or courtesan) named Theodote. Very little is known of Phaedondes, other than what appears here. Megara was a city between Athens and Corinth. Euclides is a friend of Theaetetus (the principal character of another Platonic dialogue), and founded a school of philosophy in Megara after Socrates’ death. Cicero states that Euclides was a proponent of Eleatic philosophy, founded by Parmenides (Acad. 2.42.129). The work of the Megaran, or Megaric, school went on to influence Stoic logic. Terpsion is also a friend of Euclides and Theaetetus. Nothing much more is known of him. 11 Aristippus is from Cyrene, a major Greek colony on the Libyan coast. He seems to have fully educated his daughter Arete in philosophy, who in turn educated her son (also named Aristippus) likewise. It is unclear which of the three can rightfully be called the founder of the Cyrenaic school of philosophy. The main tenets of this school were a strong empiricism in epistemology and hedonism in ethics. Little is known of Cleombrontos, who was perhaps from Ambrakia, a Corinthian colony in northwest Greece. Aegina is an island in the center of the Saronic Gulf close to the Greek mainland; historically it was a refuge for pirates.

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meeting together outside the courthouse where the trial took place, since it was close to the jail.12 Each time we would wait around until the jail opened, passing the time with each other, because it didn’t open early. When it did open, we would go in to Socrates’ cell and spend the greater part of the day with him. We met earlier that day, for the day before, when we left the jail in the evening, we got word that the ship had arrived from Delos, so we told each other to come to the usual spot as early as possible. We came, and the gatekeeper who usually answered came out, and said to wait and not to approach until he called. “The Eleven,” he said, “are releasing Socrates from his bonds and announcing how he’ll die today.”13 Soon after, he came forth and ordered us to go in. When we entered we came upon Socrates, who had just been released, and Xanthippe14 — you know her — had their child and was sitting beside him. When Xanthippe saw us, she cried out and said such things as women are wont to say: “Socrates, now is truly the last time your friends will speak with you, and you with them!” Socrates turned to Crito and said, “Crito, let someone take her back home.” As some of Crito’s people started to take her away, she began screaming and beating her breast. Socrates then sat up on his bench, bent his leg and rubbed it with his hand. While he massaged it, he said, “This thing people call ‘pleasure,’ my friends, seems to be something really strange! Remarkably, it’s by nature related to its apparent contrary, pain, but while both aren’t usually present at the same time in a single person, if someone should pursue and get a hold of one of them, they are pretty much always forced to get a hold of the other one too, like two beings fastened together by a single head. It seems to me,” he continued, “that if Aesop had had these things in mind, he would’ve put together a myth along the lines of a god that wanted to reconcile them — since they are perpetually at war — but since he was incapable of doing so, he brought their heads together. Because of this, whenever the one is present, the other will follow closely, just as it is with me! Seeing that there was pain in my leg from the irons, pleasure appears now to have come, following close behind!”15 12

Ruins of the jail, called the “Poros Building,” still survive. They are approximately 70 metres south of the ruins of the Agora. 13 The Eleven were in Athens the “corrections officers” of the Superiors, and were appointed by lottery. They administered verdicts and supervised prisons. 14 Xanthippe was Socrates’ wife. Not much is known of her background. Plato portrays her sympathetically, whereas Xenophon portrays her as a harridan. Her behavior at this time was customary in ancient Greece, so was not outrageous or histrionic in any way. Their child here is probably Menexenus. 15 Aesop is a legendary storyteller about which very little, if anything, is known, much like Homer. All the legends seem to point to the fact that he was a slave; either he, or his master, was from Samos (a Greek island off the Turkish coast); and either he, or his master, was

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Cebes interrupted and said, By Zeus, Socrates, you just did me a favor by reminding me! About these poems that you have been making, putting Aesop’s tales and the prefatory hymn to Apollo into verse — various people, and Evenus the day before, have asked me — whatever got it in your head to start doing this after you got here? You have never composed anything before! So if my answer to Evenus when he asks me again — I know for sure that he will — is of any concern to you, tell me what I should say!16 Well, Cebes, Socrates said, tell him the truth, that I didn’t make these with the intention of competing against him or his poems, for I knew that wouldn’t be easy, but to discover the meaning of certain dreams, and to exculpate myself just in case they were bidding me to make this art. The same dream would often haunt me, appearing in various guises at various times, saying the same thing. “Socrates,” it said, “make, accomplish art!” Previously I supposed it was advising and encouraging me to do exactly what I was doing, like those who cheer on runners who are running; and so to me, the dream was encouraging exactly what I was doing, making art, since philosophy, which is what I was doing, is the greatest art. Now, since the verdict came down and the god’s holiday has kept me from being put to death, it seemed necessary, just in case the dream had been commanding me to make popular art, not to disobey but to act. It is the safest thing not to depart before exculpating myself by obeying the dream and making poems. So first I made one to the god that the current festival honors. After that, I realized that a poet, if he is about to be a poet, ought to make myths and not arguments. Because I myself am not a myth-maker, I took the myths I knew and had at hand, those of Aesop, and I made some poems out of those that first came to mind. So Cebes, tell these things to Evenus, and say farewell too, and that were he wise, he would follow me as quickly as he can! It seems like I am departing today — the Athenians command it. Simmias replied, This is some kind of advice you’re giving Evenus, Socrates! I’ve frequently run into him, and from the things I’ve seen, as far as he’s concerned, he’s hardly going to listen to you no matter what you say. What? Socrates said. Isn’t Evenus a philosopher? killed by citizens of Delphi, the place where the famous oracle of Apollo is located. Herodotus places Aesop in the 6th century. 16 Zeus was the chief deity of the Greek pantheon, and was the sky god. A prefatory hymn (prooimion), was a poem in hexameter verse which was sung as a prelude to a more substantial or traditional poem, also in hexameter verse (for example, heroic epics). Some prefatory hymns became self-standing works, like the Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo. Hymns then were not sung by choirs or groups, but by individuals. Evenus is from Paros, a large island in the Cyclades. He was reputed to be very learned, a rhetorician, and an itinerant teacher. Fragments of his poetry survive. Cf. Apology 20c.

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He seems so to me, Simmias responded. Well then even Evenus will want to follow me, like everyone who rightfully lays a claim to this occupation! Perhaps though he won’t do violence to himself, because they say it’s contrary to the laws of nature. While Socrates was saying these things he put his feet down on the ground, d and was sitting like this the rest of the time he was talking with us. Cebes then asked him, How do you mean, Socrates, that it’s contrary to the laws of nature to do violence to yourself, but that the philosopher will want to follow one who is in the process of dying? What, Cebes? You and Simmias, who’ve spent time with Philolaus,17 have not heard about these things? Nothing clear, Socrates. Well, even I just talk about these things from hearsay, but what I happen to have heard I am willing to tell. And perhaps it’s even quite proper for one e about to depart to examine from different perspectives, and even to tell of myths18 about that distant land. What else could one do in the time between now and sunset? So Socrates, why do people say that it is contrary to the laws of nature for one to kill oneself at any time? I already have heard from Philolaus the very thing you said when he was living his way of life in our city, and from some others too, that one must not do this, but I have never heard anything clear about this from anybody. 62 Well, we must be willing, Socrates replied, and perhaps you’ll hear. However, it might appear astonishing to you if this matter, alone among all the rest, were simple. It happens to be the case for human beings, just as it is for other living things, that sometimes it is never better for them to die than to live, but for others it is better to die. And perhaps it will seem astonishing to you that those, for whom it is better to die, cannot without impiety help themselves, but must wait for some other benefactor. 17

Philolaus of Croton (a Greek city in southern Italy) was the first Pythagorean to publish a work on Pythagorean philosophy. (Pythagoreans up to that point were sworn never to make Pythagoras’ teachings public.) He is approximately the same age as, or perhaps a generation older than, Socrates. He went to Thebes as a political refugee from Croton. Around 450 there was a purge or a pogrom of Pythagoreans from Croton, and most were killed at that time. 18 “Myth” translates the Greek mythos. Mythos for Plato arguably was an alternative to argument (logos) for conveying or showing something to be the case. In mythoi, though, what was conveyed or shown was in some sense understood only intuitively, not demonstratively, as in logoi. Socrates makes reference to what we call the “myths” of Homer (e.g., 95b) before telling his own about the afterlife.

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Cebes laughed to himself and, speaking in his own dialect, said, Zeus knoweth.19 It does seem irrational put this way, Socrates said, but maybe there is some logic to it. The argument on these matters is spoken in secret teachings, that we humans are in a kind of prison, yet one must definitely not release oneself from it, nor sneak away. This appears to me to be something magnificent and not easy to comprehended fully. However, Cebes, this at any rate does seem well spoken to me, that the gods are our keepers and we humans are one thing among the gods’ possessions. Doesn’t this seem so to you? It does to me at least, Cebes said. Is it not the case then, Socrates said, that if something among your possessions destroyed itself without any order from you that you wished it to die, you’d be mad at it, and if you could somehow get revenge, you would seek it? Indeed I would, he said. Perhaps in this way it doesn’t seem irrational that one must not kill oneself before the god has dispatched some kind of “writ of necessity,” like the one sent to us now in our present circumstances. This seems likely, Cebes replied, but what you were saying just now — that philosophers should be ready and willing to die — this sounds crazy, Socrates, if what we were saying just now makes sense, that the god is our keeper and we are his possessions. It does not make sense that the wisest people would not resent leaving this service, one in which the gods, who are the very best of masters in existence, are in charge. Of course they would not think that they would take better care of themselves by becoming free. But the inept person might think these things — that one must flee from this master — and not reckon that one mustn’t flee from a good master, but that it is best to wait in attendance. On this account one would flee senselessly, but those who are mindful would always be eager in some way to be in the hands of their betters. Although this sounds right, Socrates, the contrary is more probable than what was said just now. It seems appropriate that the wise would be resentful of dying, the unwise grateful. Upon hearing this, it seemed to me that Socrates was delighted with Cebes’ performance, and he looked over at us and said, “You know, Cebes always examines certain arguments closely, and never wants to be persuaded straight away by what someone is saying!” 19

The Theban dialect is an instance of the more general Aeolian dialect, with some additional Doric elements. Socrates, Plato, and the Athenians in general spoke the Attic dialect. An analogy would the difference between Scottish English and the English of London.

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Simmias then added, But Socrates, something Cebes said just now sounds right to me too: Why would people who are genuinely wise leave masters who are better than themselves, and release themselves with ease? I think Cebes is aiming the argument right at you: You are taking so lightly the idea of leaving us, and of leaving superiors who — as you yourself state — are benevolent and divine! You’re right, he said. I think you mean that it is necessary for me to defend myself against these matters, as in court. Very much so, Simmias replied. Very well, he said, I’ll try to defend myself against you more persuasively than I did against my jurors! Simmias, Cebes, if I didn’t think I would reach the realm of other gods who were wise and good at the outset, and then the realm of dead human beings who are better than those here, I would be doing something wrong by not being furious at death. But now, you may be assured that I expect to make it to the place of people who are good — well, this I won’t affirm too confidently — but regardless, if I’m going to affirm anything like this, it is that I’ll reach the realm of divine masters who are quite benevolent. Therefore, on account of these things I am not so resentful, but I am of good expectancy20 that there is something for those who have died, and, as it’s also been said in ancient times, it’s much better for the good than for the bad. So what, Socrates? Simmias said. Are you intending to depart with just you having this notion, or might you share it with us? It seems plain to me at least that this will be good for us too, and at the same time it’ll be your defense, if you persuade us by what you say! Well, I will try, he said. First, though, let’s consider what it is Crito here has been wanting to say for a while now, I think. What else Socrates, Crito said, except what the person who’s going to administer the potion was saying to me a moment ago, that you should be warned to talk as little as possible. He says that by talking a lot one gets heated up, in which case it’s sometimes necessary to drink it two or even three times. Don’t worry about it, Socrates replied. Just make sure he’s ready to administer it twice, and if he must, three times. I pretty much knew that was coming, Crito said, but he’s been bugging me for a while about it. 20

The term “expectancy” translates the Greek term “elpis.” “Elpis” is usually translated as “hope,” but the Greek term is more nimble, so to speak, than that English word, and has other meanings, like “expectancy,” “expectation,” “prospect” and so on. I vary the translation depending on the felicity, or lack thereof, of “hope” in the context at hand.

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Don’t worry, he said. I want to present my argument to you jurors right now: that it appears likely to me that someone, who has spent their life in philosophy, should be confident upon going to their death, and be of good cheer with the thought of enormous goods there when they die. How this is so, Simmias and Cebes, I will try to explain to you. So many run the risk of not noticing that, among other things, those who happen to grasp philosophy genuinely are training for nothing else other than dying and being dead. Now if this is true, of course it would be crazy that they would exert themselves throughout their entire life doing nothing else but this, and then upon reaching that point, to be furious at that for which they were training and exerting themselves for so long. Simmias laughed. By Zeus, Socrates, he said, I wasn’t in a laughing mood at all just now, but you made me laugh! I think most people hearing this would think that you are describing philosophers quite well — and my fellow Thebans would especially approve — that those who do philosophy desire death, and it doesn’t escape their notice that philosophers deserve it! And they might be right, Simmias, except for the “it doesn’t escape their notice” part. What does escape their notice is the manner in which genuine philosophers are in the process of dying, in what way they deserve death and what kind of death they deserve. Let’s speak for ourselves, Socrates said, and forget about speaking to them. Do we hold that there is such a thing as death? Very much, Simmias said in reply. Is it anything else other than the separation of the soul from the body? Is this death: the body, by itself, coming to be separate from the soul, and the soul, by itself, coming to be separate from the body? Is death anything else other than this? No, just this, he said. Consider, my good man, whether we agree here too, for if so, we will have a better understanding about the matters we’re considering. Does it appear to you that it’s a characteristic of the philosophical person to be anxious about so-called pleasures such as food and drink? Hardly, Socrates! Simmias said. What about those involved in lovemaking? Not at all. What about the other cares concerning the body? Does such a person seem to you to hold them in high regard? Take the possession of distinguishing clothes, shoes, and other items of bodily haute couture 21 — does that person 21

The phrase “bodily haute couture” translates “kall¯ opismous tous peri to soma,” which literally means “embellishments/ornamentations concerning the body.” The French “haute

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seem to you to extol or disregard them, insofar as there’s no great necessity to take part in them? It seems to me that the genuine philosopher at least disregards them, he said. So then, Socrates replied, it entirely seems to you that the business of such individuals does not concern the body, but, inasmuch as they are capable of withdrawing from it, they have instead turned themselves towards the soul? It does to me, at least. So first, then, it’s clear in such matters that the philosopher, in contrast with other people, tries to release the soul from its partnership with the body as much as possible? It appears to be so. And it seems to many people, Simmias, that someone who gets no pleasure from such things, and doesn’t take part in them, does not deserve to be alive, but the one who pays no attention to the pleasures of the body tends towards death. You are definitely right. What about acquiring understanding?22 Is the body an impediment or not, if someone takes it along as a partner in their search? I mean something like the following: Do sight and hearing possess a kind of truth for people, or are matters such that we neither hear nor see anything accurately, as the poets continually tell us? And yet, if these two bodily senses are neither accurate nor clear, the rest won’t be at all, for they are all are inferior to these. Don’t they seem so to you? Very much so, Simmias said. Then when, he continued, does the soul grasp the truth? Whenever it sets about considering something with the body, it’s clear that at that moment it’s beguiled by it. You’re right. Is it not in reasoning, if any aspect of reality is likely to become clear to it? couture” seems to capture the sense here better than any English word or phrase. 22 “Understanding” is my translation here of another important technical term, “phron¯esis.” It is usually translated as “wisdom” in Plato, and as “practical wisdom” in Aristotle. However, “wisdom” translates the Greek “sophia,” which Plato (and Aristotle) arguably used as such. In the Phaedo it is clear that Plato has something broader than practical wisdom in mind. Plato also uses “phron¯esis” in the context of theoretical, every-day, and what we would call scientific, matters. It can be translated as “thought,” “purpose,” “intention,” “prudence,” “sense” and “judgment,” as well as “understanding.” The term “understanding” seems to capture these other translations pretty well, covers both practical, theoretical and every-day matters, leaves “wisdom” for “Sophia,” and has variants which correspond nicely with the verbal forms of “phron¯esis.”

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Yes. The soul reasons best, I guess, at the moment when none of these trouble it — neither hearing, nor sight, nor pain, nor some pleasure — when it comes to be independent as much as possible, bidding the body farewell. Inasmuch as it is capable of not working in partnership, nor being in contact, with the body, it will reach some aspect of reality. This is the case. So then, does the soul of the philosopher especially disregard the body and flee from it, and does it seek to be independent? It appears so. What about it then, Simmias? Do we affirm there is something that is itself just, or not? We do affirm it, by Zeus! And something beautiful and good ? Of course. Have you ever previously seen anything like these with your eyes? Never, Simmias said. But have you laid hold of them by means of any other sense of the body? I mean, concerning everything, like magnitude, health, strength, and in a word, everything else belonging to reality that each happens to be — is the absolute truth of them observed through the body? Or is this the case: the one among us who prepares himself the most completely and precisely, to think each thing itself that he is looking into, he will come closest to apprehending that thing? Definitely. So the one who would do this most purely is the one who will come upon each thing by means of thought and intention itself, with neither sight involving itself in the thought process, nor any other of the senses dragging anything along in the midst of one’s reasoning. When using unadulterated thought itself, one tries to hunt after each unadulterated thing belonging to reality, as far as is possible, by getting rid of the eyes and ears — and the body altogether, so to speak — because the body throws the soul into disarray, and doesn’t let the soul possess truth and understanding, when it works in partnership with the body, right? Isn’t this person, Simmias, the one who will be prepared for some aspect of reality, if anyone is? Socrates, you are absolutely correct, Simmias replied. So then, Socrates said, from all of these things it’s necessary for genuine philosophers to think and say something like this to each other: “It is very likely we will run off the road with what we are considering because, as long as we have a body and our soul is contaminated by such a foul thing, we will never adequately possess what we yearn after. We affirm this to be the

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truth. The body supplies us with a myriad of drives, due to its requirement for sustenance; moreover, all sorts of diseases befall it, getting in the way of our quest for some aspect of reality. It fills us to the brim with requests, desires, fears, and every sort of fancy and triviality to the extent that one could say it is impossible for us ever to have an understanding of anything by means of it. The body and its desires cause nothing but wars and conflicts and struggles. All wars come about for the sake of property; we are compelled to acquire property on account of the body, slaves to its service. Due to all these things, we have no free time for philosophy. The worst thing about all of this is that, if one of us does get some free time away from it and we can divert ourselves towards some line of inquiry, this body is constantly getting in the way in our investigations, supplying fear and confusion and driving us out of our minds so that we are incapable of observing the truth. However, it has been pointed out that, if we ever intend to know something purely, we must be rid of the body and must observe reality itself by means of the soul alone. Only when we die, and not when we live, will it be possible for us to get what we want and be able to call ourselves lovers of wisdom. If we are unable to comprehend anything purely with the body, one of two things follows: either it is never possible to possess knowledge, or it is possible by being dead — for at that time the soul will be by itself, apart from the body. But before then it isn’t. Thus, during the time we are living, so it seems, we will be closest to knowledge whenever we, as much as we can, aren’t busying ourselves with, or aren’t working in partnership with, the body, except for what is entirely necessary; and do not defile ourselves with its nature but purify ourselves from it, until the god himself releases us. And in this way those who have released themselves from the mindlessness of the body are purified, and as is likely, we will exist amidst such things and will comprehend everything unadulterated, owing to ourselves alone, and this perchance is the truth: It is contrary to the laws of nature to grasp something pure with something impure.” Such things, I think, are a necessity to say and think for everyone who genuinely loves learning, doesn’t it seem so to you, Simmias? More than anything, Socrates. So then, Socrates said, if these things are true, my good friend, there is a good deal of hope that when I arrive at the place where I’m heading, there, if anywhere I suppose, I will come to possess that for the sake of which we have been chiefly preoccupied during our past life. Therefore, this little voyage abroad I’ve been ordered to take brings with it a good prospect for me, and for anyone else, who believes their thought has been prepared, in the sense of being purified. Quite so, Simmias replied.

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Doesn’t purification23 happen to be just the thing mentioned back in our argument, the soul’s separating from the body as much as possible, its getting used to collecting and gathering itself independently away from the body altogether, and dwelling — insofar as it can — alone and independently, both in the present and hereafter, loosening itself from the body as if from restraints? Quite so, he said. And death is called just this: “a release and separation of the soul away from the body”? Absolutely, he replied. And, as we say, genuine philosophers, alone and especially, are perpetually exerting themselves to release the soul; and this practice is characteristic of philosophers, isn’t it, this release and separation of the soul away from the body? It appears that it is. Therefore, like I was saying at the beginning, wouldn’t it be ridiculous for someone, exerting himself throughout life to be as close to death as possible while living, and then having reached that point, to be furious with death? Ridiculous — how couldn’t it be? So in fact, Simmias, genuine philosophers are practicing to die, and being dead is terrifying to them least of all. Now look here: imagine that they have been at variance with the body in every respect, and are longing for the soul itself to be independent. When this happens, wouldn’t it be entirely irrational if they were terrified and furious? Wouldn’t they be glad to go to the place where there is hope for them upon arrival, one which they’ve passionately longed for throughout their entire lives — a passionate longing for understanding — and they had gotten rid of this thing linked to them with which they have been at variance? Many people willingly wanted to go to Hades in quest of their lovers, wives and sons who have died, carried by this hope, the hope of seeing and uniting with those for whom they longed.24 So, for someone who is in fact passionately longing for understanding, and who has this fervent hope, that they will come into contact with this nowhere worthy of mention besides Hades, will they be furious at dying and not be 23 “Purification” and its variants (e.g., “purely”) correspond to “katharsis” and its variants. Purification played an important role in Greek society, culture and religion. Crucially, the ritual of purification did not necessarily entail that a person or group had done something wrong (which is purification after doing something); it just entailed that that person or group needed to be “cleaned” in some form (which allows for purification either before or after doing something). See the introduction for more information. 24 For example, Orpheus went to Hades to retrieve his deceased wife Euridyce; Odysseus had to travel through Hades in order to get back home to Ithaca.

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glad to be at that very place? One has to think so at any rate, if one is in fact a philosopher. These matters will certainly seem to be the case for such individuals, that they will come into contact with pure understanding nowhere else except there. If this is so, what I was just saying, wouldn’t it be an instance of extreme insanity if such a person was terrified of death? It surely would, by Zeus! he said. So then, Socrates continued, is this sufficient evidence for you, that someone, whom you see furious while they are in the process of dying, is not a philosopher, c but a narcissist? This same person might also happen to be a miser or a statusseeker, either one or both. You state what is indeed the case, he replied. So Simmias, what is called “courage” especially doesn’t belong to those who are so disposed? Entirely, of course, he said. So too with self-control — the common person also calls it “self-control,” which consists is not being all aflutter over one’s desires but being detached and disciplined — doesn’t this belong to these alone, the ones who especially are detached from their body and live their lives in philosophy?25 d Necessarily, he said. If you want to think about the “courage” and the “self-control” of these other people, Socrates continued, they’ll seem crazy to you. How so, Socrates? Do you think, he said, that all these other people believe death to be among the greatest of evils? Oh for sure, Simmias said. So the “courageous” among them submit to death in fear of some greater evil, whenever they submit? This is the case. So everyone is “courageous” out of fear and being filled with fear, except for philosophers . . . although it’s irrational for one to be courageous out of fear and cowardice. e Quite so. What about those of them who are “disciplined”? Haven’t they experienced this same thing? Are they self-controlled by some kind of lack of control? 25

“Self-control” translates the term “sophrosun¯e,” which is an important Greek virtue. It is frequently translated as “moderation,” but “self-control” in my view is better because it is applicable in situations where Greeks use it, but “moderation” sounds odd or inapplicable. For example, for the Greeks one should have sophrosun¯e in the midst of a battle; thus, it makes much more sense to say “one should have self-control in battle” than to say “one should have moderation in battle.”

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Although we state that this is impossible, nevertheless for them the occurrence of this namby-pamby26 self-control takes place in a way similar to the previous one: Fearing that they’ll be deprived of one set of pleasures yet desiring others, they deny themselves the latter pleasures while they’re being conquered by the former. Although they describe “lack of control” as “being dominated by one’s pleasures,” it so happens to them that while they are conquering certain pleasures, they are being conquered by others! This is like what I was saying a moment ago, that in a way they have become self-controlled by means of some kind of lack of control. It seems likely. My good Simmias, this is not the right exchange to make for excellence and virtue,27 swapping pleasures for pleasures, pains for pains and fears for fears, greater for less, like currency. But this alone is legal tender, in exchange for which one must trade all of these things: understanding. With understanding, every one of these — courage, self-control, justice and, in short, true virtue and excellence — is in fact bought and sold, whether pleasure and fears and all the rest of such things accrue or diminish. Being exchanged for each other separate from understanding — such virtue and excellence is, I suspect, a rough outline, and is in fact slavish and neither fit nor true! In fact, the true kind of self-control, justice and courage is a kind of purification from all such matters, and understanding itself is perhaps a kind of purifier. Those who founded mystical rites for us were not crude people, but in fact intimated long ago that he who comes to Hades unprepared and uninitiated, will wallow in mud; but those who reach there having been purified and initiated will dwell with gods. There are, you know, as those who study mystical rites say, “many bearers of the wand, but few Bacchants.”28 26 “Namby-pamby” translates “eu¯ethes,” which in its informal use, means “of a simpleton,” “silly,” “simple-minded” or “foolish.” Elsewhere I translate it as “na¨ıve.” 27 “Excellence and virtue” translates another very difficult and important Greek term, “aret¯e.” “Virtue” by itself might be acceptable if one could keep an archaic use of “virtue” in mind. For example, swords, beds and animals, as well as humans, can have aret¯e given the satisfaction of certain requirements. Thus, in Greek one could say “that sword and bed exhibit virtue” which does not make any sense in contemporary English. However, one can say “that sword and bed exhibit excellence,” which does make sense. Thus, I use both terms in conjunction to translate “aret¯e.” 28 The Bacchants were worshipers of Dionysius/Bacchus. Bacchic cults were secretive (one typically didn’t know what was promised or offered by the cult until one had become fully initiated). A prospective member had to be introduced, go through a preparatory period, and then be initiated into certain mystical rites before becoming a Bacchant. These cults conducted their “services” outside the confines of the polis, both in the sense of location (usually on a mountain outside the city limits) and in the sense of control: traditional Greek religion was state-sponsored and controlled, with one’s position in the religion determined

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The latter are, in my opinion, no one other than those who have genuinely studied philosophy. Truly, as much as I was capable, I left nothing out in my life and in every respect exerted myself to become one of them. Whether I genuinely exerted myself and we achieved something, we will find out for sure, I think, when we get there, god willing, in not too short a time. With these words, Simmias and Cebes, he said, I defend myself, in order to show it is entirely suitable that I bear without difficulty, and am not furious at, my leaving you and my masters here, and believing that I will come upon good, and different, masters there no less than here. So if in my defense I am in some way more persuasive to you than to my Athenian jurors, that would be wonderful. After Socrates said these things, Cebes took up the conversation. Socrates, Cebes said, it seems to me at least that everything you said was well put, except that the argument about the soul produces a lot of suspicion in people. People think that when it departs from the body it is no longer anywhere: at the moment when a person dies it is destroyed and disappears straightaway upon leaving the body. Taking off like a puff of breath or smoke scattered to the winds it goes, flying away, no longer existing as anything anywhere. Still, I suppose, if it has been gathered together independently upon having escaped these miseries you were going through just now, there would be an enormous and good prospect, Socrates, that what you are saying is true. But the claim that the soul of someone who has died has some kind of capacity — that is, understanding — definitely requires quite a bit of explanation and persuasion. You’re right Cebes, Socrates said, but really, what should we do? Do you want us to spend time talking about these very matters as to whether it’s likely they’re true or not? Sure I would, Cebes said, I would gladly listen to what you have to say about them. Well then, Socrates replied, I don’t think anyone who heard me just now — not even if they were a comedian29 — would say that I was chattering on and on and arguing with myself about inappropriate topics. Whether it seems so or not, we have to examine these matters in detail. by one’s status, family, clan and sex. Bacchic cults treated both sexes equally, and was in theory open to anyone. The wand is the narthex, a religious implement and symbol, which is a branch of a plant from the fennel family. The goal of the cult services was to become possessed by the god; hence, although there are many members of the cult, only a few have genuinely been possessed. 29 Here, Plato is likely referring to Aristophanes, as well as other unknown playwrights, who make fun of Socrates in their work. Just like today, comedians in ancient Greece made fun of celebrities, of which Socrates was one in Athens.

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Let’s consider it in this way, whether the souls of people who have died are in Hades, or whether they’re not. There’s an ancient argument, which we remember, that those that are from this world arrive there, and they come back here again and are born from those who are dead. If this is the case, that the living are reborn from those who have died, could the answer be anything else except that our souls are there? They wouldn’t be reborn, I suppose, unless they were existing. This is adequate evidence for the truth of these things, if in fact it were evident that the living come from nowhere else at all but from the dead. But if this isn’t the case, one has to come up with some other argument. They do indeed, Cebes replied. Well then, don’t consider this matter only in the case of human beings, Socrates said, if you want to understand it more easily, but also in the case of all animals and plants, and, in short, everything that involves birth of some kind . . . Let’s look at everything. Does everything come to be in the following way: Things that are contraries come from nowhere else but from their contraries, if some sort of thing happens to exist — for example, the beautiful is contrary to the ugly, I guess, and just to unjust. Thousands of other things are like this. So let’s consider this: Is it a necessity, for all the things where there exists some contrary, that the thing comes from no other place at all except from the thing contrary to it, like whenever something greater comes to be, is it necessary somehow that it, from being less beforehand, comes to be greater at some point thereafter?30 Yes. So then, if something lesser comes to be, the lesser will come to be from something greater existing beforehand? This is the case, Cebes said. And furthermore, the weaker comes from something stronger perhaps, and the faster from something slower? Indeed. Now what? When something worse comes to be, won’t it come from something better, and something more just, from something more unjust? Of course. So, do we grasp this point sufficiently, that everything is born in this way, the contrary things in the world from contraries? 30

This question refers to a controversy in ancient Greek philosophy as to whether contraries like large/small, hot/cold, etc., come from “similars” (e.g., large comes from large, small from small), or “dissimilars” (e.g., large comes from small, small from large). In short, the question was “does like affect like, or does like affect unlike?” Here, Plato adopts the latter view. Note the necessity he places on this relationship: it’s necessary that some large x comes to be from small y.

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Indeed. What about this? Is there also some sort of thing like the following among them, for example, between every existing pair of contraries there exists two “births,”31 from one contrary to the other, and from the other again back to b the original, for increase and decrease occur between an individual thing in the world coming to be greater or lesser, and in this way we call the first “increasing,” and the second, “decreasing”? Yes, he replied. So then also with “combining” and “separating,” “cooling” and “heating,” and everything like this — even if we don’t use names in some places — but it’s a fact and everywhere it is necessarily the case, that they come to be from each other, and there is a “birth” from one to the other? Quite so, he said. c What now? Socrates said. Is there some contrary to life, like being awake is contrary to being asleep? Well, sure there is, Cebes replied. What? Death, he said. So then these come to be from each other, if contraries exist, and the “births” are twofold between them, being a pair? Naturally. So, Socrates said, I’ll give you one of a pair, of which I was speaking just now to you, it and its “births,” and you give me the other. I mean, I give you “being asleep,” you give me “being awake,” and being awake comes to be from d being asleep and being asleep comes to be from being awake, and their “births” are “falling asleep” on the one hand, and “waking up” on the other. Is this okay with you, or not? Sure. Fine. You talk to me, he said, in this way about life and death. Don’t you assert that being dead is contrary to living? I do indeed. Then they come to be from each other? Yes. So what is it that comes to be from something living? Something dead, he replied. What then, Socrates said, comes to be from something dead? 31

The verb “gignesthai” and its variants (e.g., the noun “genesis”) mean “to become,” “to come to be,” and “to be born.” I am attempting to capture Plato’s unequivocal use of this verb in various contexts by using “births” both in reference to ourselves and to contraries.

174 One is forced to concede that it’s something living. Thus, Cebes, living things — including those of us who are living — come e to be from things that are dead? It appears so, he said. Our souls therefore exist in Hades. Probably. So then do the pair of “births” concerning these two things, happen to be clear? “Dying” is of course obvious, right? Very much so, he said. How then will we do the other? Socrates said. Won’t we offer the corresponding, contrary “birth,” or will nature be one-sided in this case? Isn’t it necessary that we offer the birth contrary to dying? I suppose so. What is it? “Coming to life again.” 72 So then, he said, if there is such a thing as coming to life again, it will be the birth of things that are living from things that are dead, this coming to life again? Indeed. Thus, it is agreed between us that, in this way, the living are born from the dead, no less than the dead from the living — and, I suppose, this being the case, it seems to be a sufficient piece of evidence that the souls of the dead necessarily exist someplace, whence they are reborn. Socrates, Cebes responded, it seems to me it necessarily follows from everything that was agreed upon. Well, Cebes, observe that we did agree with the justification, as it seems to b me. If the one of two contraries coming into being does not always deliver the other corresponding to it, as if they’re going around in a circle, but instead the “birth” were just a kind of one-way passage from the other to its opposite, and didn’t revert or arc back to the original one, do you realize that everything in the end would have the same state, would undergo the same modification and cease coming to be? What are you saying? Cebes asked. Nothing complicated, Socrates replied, keeping in mind what I’m about to say. Just as if falling asleep existed, but waking up didn’t correspondingly c reverse falling asleep, do you know that, in the end, all things would prove the tale of Endymion32 to be nonsense, and would appear nowhere, owing to 32

Greek myth has it that Selene, the goddess of the moon, fell in love with Endymion, a handsome mortal. He now eternally sleeps in a cave on Mt. Latmus in Caria (present-day

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everything else in the universe having suffered the same fate as him, sleep? And if everything were being combined, and not separated, Anaxagoras’ claim “All things together” would be quickly become fact!33 Similarly, my friend, if all things that had a share in life were dying, and after they died, these dead things would stay in this state and wouldn’t come to life again . . . wouldn’t it be an overpowering necessity that everything in the end died, and nothing lived? If living things come to be from other living things, but living things die, what contrivance could keep everything from being absorbed into death? Nothing Socrates, it seems to me . . . you seem to me to be saying something absolutely true, Cebes responded. Cebes, Socrates said, this is most certain, as it seems to me, and we are not being thoroughly deceived by agreeing to these very things — it is in fact the case that coming to life again exists, the living are born from those who have died, and the souls of the dead exist. Moreover Socrates, Cebes replied, in the case of this last argument at least, if it is true, what you used to say is true together with it: That learning for us happens to be nothing other than recollection, and according to this view, it’s necessary that we have learned somewhere at some prior time what we are recollecting now.34 This however is impossible if our souls weren’t somewhere before they had been born in their current human form. Therefore, even in this manner the soul is likely to be immortal. But Cebes, Simmias said as he joined in the discussion, what are the proofs of these matters? Remind me . . . I’m just not remembering them at the moment! In one argument, Cebes said, which is most beautiful by the way, the proof is that when people are questioned, if one queries them in a fine manner, they say everything that is the case. In contrast, if they don’t happen to have knowledge, and the right account, in mind, they are incapable of doing this. Accordingly, if someone could follow patterns or some other sort of thing, then this indicates most clearly that recollection is the case. southwestern Turkey), where she visits him during the new moon. 33 Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (a suburb of present-day Izmir — ancient Smyrna — in western Turkey), was a generation older than Socrates, the teacher of Pericles, and a significant Presocratic. His views (as Plato interprets them at least) are reported in the dialogue below. “All things together” is a famous line from Anaxagoras’ work: it refers to his view that everything in the universe is mixed together until mind differentiates and organizes it. This quotation can be interpreted on a cosmic level (with the mind here being that of Zeus perhaps) or on a personal level (with the world being unintelligible until one’s mind organizes it). Cf. Apology 26d, and p. 108 n. 21. 34 Cf. Meno 65b–86c.

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Simmias, said Socrates, if you aren’t quite persuaded by this, it might sound good to you to examine this matter when you look at it in this sort of way. Are you doubtful in any way that this so-called learning is recollection? Well, I guess I’m not doubtful, Simmias replied, but I need to undergo the very thing this argument is about, namely recollection! From what Cebes tried to say already, I’m almost remembering — persuaded too — but it would be great if I could now hear you try to explain it in some fashion. Me? Socrates said. How about in this way. We agree, of course, that if one is about to recollect something, it’s necessary that one knew this at some point beforehand. Certainly, Simmias replied. So, as we agree on this fact, whenever knowledge comes to be present in some sort of fashion, is it recollection? I mean it in such a way as this: If someone, either seeing or hearing or acquiring some other perception of some one thing, not only apprehends that thing, but also has in mind another thing, of which the item of knowledge isn’t the same but different, don’t we rightly say that this other thing, which the person mentally acquired, has been recollected? How do you mean? Like this: I suppose knowledge of an individual person, and of a lyre, are different. Of course. Well, you know that lovers, whenever they see a lyre, or an article of clothing, or anything else which their sweethearts usually use, suffer this: They apprehend the lyre, and, in their thoughts, acquire the form of their sweetheart to whom the lyre belongs? This is recollection, like someone seeing Simmias often recollects Cebes also, I imagine, and, one could say, all kinds of other sorts of things! All sorts, by Zeus! Simmias said. So then, Socrates continued, this sort of thing — is it a kind of recollection? Especially, I might add, whenever someone has this experience concerning matters they’ve already forgotten, not having thought about them for quite some time? Definitely, he said. What now? Socrates replied. Is it possible to see a depiction of a horse or a lyre and recollect some individual, like seeing a depiction of Simmias and recollecting Cebes? For sure. So then is it possible for one to see a depiction of Simmias, and to recollect Simmias himself?

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It certainly is, he replied. So, in all of these cases, recollection comes into being from things which are similar in some instances, and from dissimilar things in others? It does. But at any rate, whenever someone is recollecting something from things which are similar, isn’t it a necessity that one additionally experiences this: an awareness that this thing either falls short somewhat in terms of the similarity — or doesn’t fall short — of that thing they’re recollecting? Necessarily. Now consider whether these things are the case, Socrates said. We affirm, I surmise, that there exists something equal — I don’t mean a stick to a stick or a rock to a rock or anything like this, but something different from all of these things, the equal itself. Should we affirm that something like this exists, or not? b Oh by Zeus, Simmias said, we should affirm it, quite adamantly! And we know it, that it exists? Indeed, he said. Whence do we acquire the knowledge of it? It’s not from the things we were mentioning a moment ago, sticks and rocks and the rest of the things we see to be equal — from these things we have that in mind, with it being something different from them? Or don’t they appear different to you? Look at it this way: Don’t rocks that are equal, and sticks, being the same sticks and rocks, sometimes appear equal to one person, but don’t to another? Very much so. c What now? Have the equals themselves appeared to you at any time to be unequal, or equality inequality? Never, Socrates! They aren’t the same, he continued, these things that are equal and the equal itself? They don’t look that way to me, Socrates. But surely, he said, although they are different from the equal, nevertheless, it’s from these equals that you’ve gotten the equal in mind, and have acquired knowledge of it? You speak most truly, he replied. Either when it’s similar, or dissimilar, to these things? Right. It’s no matter at all then: As long as it’s from this sight of seeing one thing d you have another thing come to mind, whether it’s similar or dissimilar, it’s a necessity, he said, that this is recollection. Very much so.

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Well now, Socrates asked, do we experience some sort of thing concerning the equal sticks which we were mentioning just now? Do equal things appear to us in a manner like the very thing that is equal ? Is something lacking in them in respect of being the sort of thing that is the equal, or is there nothing lacking? There’s definitely something lacking, Simmias said. So then we agree that whenever someone has something come to mind upon seeing another thing, the latter — what I’m seeing now — wants to exist like the former, but is lacking and incapable of being such as that, and is instead inferior . . . It’s a necessity on some level for one who has the former in mind to have conceived it before the latter: one affirms it’s conceived alongside the latter, and the latter exists in a more inferior manner. It’s necessary. What then? Have we too had such an experience concerning things that are equal and the equal itself, or not? We altogether have. Thus, it’s a necessity that we had a conception of the equal before the moment when, upon seeing equals for the first time, we had in mind the thought that all of these things yearn to be like the equal, but are inferior to it. This is the case. But surely we agree to this too: That it has come to mind, and is incapable of getting into one’s mind, in any way other than by seeing, touching or by one of the other senses. I mean that all of these are equivalent. Socrates, they are equivalent, at least in regard to what this argument wants to show. But really, from the senses at least, one must have in mind that all the things perceived by the senses yearn for that which equal is, and exist in a way more inferior than it . . . or how should we put it? That way. Thus, before we began to see, to hear or to perceive otherwise, one must have acquired knowledge somewhere of the equal itself, that it exists, if we were about to make reference out there to things which are equal from the senses, that all of these sorts of things are eager to be like that, but are more mediocre compared to it. Necessarily, Socrates, from what’s been said before. We saw, heard and had other perceptions immediately after being born? Indeed. One, we affirm, must at least have acquired knowledge of the equal before those perceptions? Yes.

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Thus, as is likely, it was necessary for us to have acquired it prior to being born. It does seem that way. So then, if we, having acquired knowledge before birth, were born possessing it, didn’t we, both prior to birth and immediately after birth, know not only the equal, the greater and the lesser, but also the entirety of such things? Our argument now isn’t about the equal any more than about the beautiful itself, the good itself, the just, the pious itself . . . I mean, it’s about everything upon which we impress this, the “what it is,” both in the questions we are asking and the answers we are answering! Therefore, we must have acquired individual instances of knowledge of all of these things before being born. This is the case. Moreover, I guess, if we haven’t forgotten anything after we acquired the knowledge, then we are born always knowing and we always know throughout our lives, for knowing is this: to acquire knowledge of something, retain it and not lose it. Don’t we say that forgetfulness is a loss of knowledge? Entirely, Socrates. he said. But I suppose that if we acquired knowledge before being born, lost it after being born, and later using the senses re-acquired those individual instances of knowledge that we had at a previous point, then wouldn’t what we call “learning” be re-acquiring one’s own knowledge? We would be speaking correctly to define this as recollection? Quite correctly. It was shown to be possible that, for one perceiving something — either seeing, hearing or acquiring by means of the other senses — one has something come to mind that is different from what one has forgotten, and which is associated by being dissimilar, or by being similar. What I mean, therefore, is that one of two things follow: Either we are, at a minimum, born knowing them and all of us know them throughout our lives; or those things we say we are “learning” is nothing other than recollecting later on, and learning is recollection. And this is definitely the case, Socrates. Which do you choose, Simmias? Are we born knowing, or are things of which we had acquired knowledge previously recollected later? Oh, Socrates, I can’t choose right now. What? You can choose the following, and whether it sounds good to you in any way, right? Can knowing persons give an account about the things they know, or not? Quite necessarily, Socrates, he said.

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And do all of them seem to you to be able to give an account of these matters we were just talking about? Well, I’d like to say yes, Simmias said, but I’m really afraid that by this time tomorrow there won’t be any human being still alive who’ll be able to do this properly. Simmias, Socrates replied, doesn’t everybody seem to you to know them? Not at all. Don’t they recollect what they’ve learned at any time? Necessarily. When do our souls acquire knowledge of them? Naturally, they don’t from the moment when human beings are born. Not in the least. Before then. Yes. Thus, Simmias, our souls also existed before, apart from bodies, and possessed understanding, before existing in the form of a human being. Unless it follows that we acquired these instances of knowledge at the same time we were being born, Socrates, for this moment of time is still left. Could be, my friend! But when did we lose them? We aren’t born possessing these instances of knowledge, as we just agreed a second ago. Do we lose them at the very moment we are acquiring them? Or do you have some other period of time you’d like to mention? None at all, Socrates. I didn’t notice I was saying nothing. Ah, Simmias, he said, so is this the case for us? If what we are babbling on and on about exists — a beautiful, a good and every kind of such reality — and we associate all of the things apprehended from the senses with that, with it existing beforehand, discovering that it is ours, and we compare these things from the senses with that, it is necessary that, just as these things exist, so too does our soul exist before we have been born. If these things aren’t the case, has this argument been spelled out in vain? Is it equally necessary that these things exist, and our souls also exist before we’ve been born, and if they don’t, then these things don’t either? Socrates, Simmias said, this necessity seems to be overwhelmingly so, and the argument has recourse to something fine at a minimum, to the parallel existence of our soul prior to our birth and of the reality you are now talking about. I have to say, I have nothing that is as manifest to me as this: all of these sorts of things exist as much as is possible, beautiful and good and all the rest that you were just talking about . . . and it seems to me, at least, that it has been adequately demonstrated. What about you, Cebes? Socrates asked. We have to convince Cebes too!

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I think, Simmias replied, he’s been convinced enough, although he’s the most obstinate of people when it comes to doubting arguments! But I think he’s been persuaded by this in a not inadequate manner, that our soul exists prior to our birth. Whether, he continued, we still exist whenever we die . . . this claim does not seem to me to have been demonstrated, and what Cebes was saying a moment ago — the position of most people — is still in place: that probably at the moment when someone dies their soul evaporates and this is the end of its existence. What prevents it from coming to be from someplace else, and persisting and existing before it comes into a person’s body? And after it arrives and then leaves the body, why can’t we say that at that moment it also reaches its end and is destroyed? Well said, Simmias! Cebes exclaimed. It seems that what has to be proven has been demonstrated only half way — that before we’re born our soul was existing — but one has to show in addition that after we die it will exist to no less of a degree than before we were born, if the demonstration is going to have any finality. Simmias and Cebes, Socrates responded, it has been proven, even now, if you wish to tie this argument to the one which we agreed upon before, that all living things come to be from the dead. If the soul exists beforehand, it is necessary for it, heading towards the living and birth, to come into existence from nowhere other than from death and from being dead. How is it not necessary that the soul, after it has died, must be reborn right after? So the very thing you are talking about right now has been proven. Nonetheless, you and Simmias seem to me to be quite glad to work through this argument still further. You also seem to have the fear of little children, that the wind is going to rip right through your soul and blow it apart once it steps out of your body, as if it mattered whether one happens to be dying not in peaceful weather but in some great windstorm. Cebes laughed. Socrates, he said, try to convince us as if we are afraid! Well, perhaps not as if we are afraid, but rather, as if there’s a kind of “inner child” in us who’s afraid of such things! So try to win him over to your side, to stop him from being afraid of death as if it were a ghoul. Oh, Socrates replied, you have to sing a magic lullaby to him every single day until you’ve chased that fear away! But Socrates, he said, where will we get a good enchanter of such spells after you, he said, leave us? Cebes, Greece is expansive, a place in which there are, I presume, good people, and many tribes of barbarians too, all of whom you have to assess thoroughly in your search for such an enchanter, sparing neither money nor exertion, for there isn’t anything more auspicious you could lavish money upon.

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You also have to search amongst yourselves though, for perhaps you’d have a hard time finding anyone more capable of doing this than yourselves. This will certainly be done, Cebes responded, but if you don’t mind, could we pick up from where we left off? Well, I don’t mind . . . how could it be left behind? Well said! Cebes replied. So, what we need to ask ourselves is something like this: Undergoing this experience — “being blown apart” — is characteristic of what kind of thing? For what kind of thing might one fear will undergo this, and what kind of thing won’t? After this, we need to consider whether the soul exists again, and from these matters, whether to be confident or afraid for our souls. You’re right, he said. Is it characteristic of something which has been put together, and is a composite by nature, to undergo this, to be divided into that very matter from which it has been put together? If something happens to be non-composite, is it characteristic of such a thing alone not to undergo this? It seems to me that this is so, Cebes said. So then, things that always exist in the same way — that is, “likewise” — these especially are likely to be non-composite things, whereas things which are otherwise at various times — that is, never exist in the same way — these are composite? It seems so, to me at least. Let’s look over the same issues that were in the previous argument, Socrates said. This reality, whose existence we’re offering an argument for by questioning and answering, does it always exist likewise, in the same way, or is it otherwise at various times? The equal itself, the beautiful itself, each thing itself that is real — do they ever admit any kind of change at all? Or is each of them always what it is, being uniform alone by itself, remaining invariable, and never admitting alteration in any way at all?35 Socrates, it necessarily remains invariable, Cebes said. What about the multitude of beautiful things, like people and horses, clothes and whatever else in the world, or equals or all of the things named after those? Do these latter kinds of things exist in the same way, or are they totally contrary to the former — they don’t exist in the same way in relation to themselves, and they never exist in the same way in any way, so to speak, in relation to each other, right? 35

This and the preceding paragraph are replete with important philosophical concepts and technical terms. A couple to note here are “alteration,” which is a translation of “alloi¯ osis,” and “change,” which translates “metabol¯e.”

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Again, these things are as you say, Cebes replied. They never remain invariable. So then you might touch, see, and perceive with the rest of the senses these things, which is in contrast to what you might grasp with the reasoning power of thought — such things are unseen, and not visible? You are absolutely right, he said. So, Socrates said, let’s posit two forms of existents, the visible on the one hand, and the unseen on the other. Let’s, Cebes said. And the unseen always exists in the same way, the visible never exists in the same way? Let’s posit this too, he said. Now — is there anything else that belongs to us other than body on the one hand, and soul on the other? There’s nothing else, he said. We affirm that the body is more similar and more akin to which sort? That’s clear at least — to everything that’s visible. What about the soul? Is it visible or unseen? Not by human beings at any rate, Socrates. But were we, at any rate, talking about things which are visible or not to humans, or to some others do you think? To humans. What do we say about the soul? That it’s visible or invisible? Not visible. So it’s unseen? Yes. So a soul is more similar than a body to the unseen, and a body is more similar to the visible. It’s altogether necessary, Socrates. Weren’t we also saying this a while back, that the soul, whenever it utilizes the body for investigating something, either by means of seeing, hearing or any other sense — this is “by means of the body,” investigating something by means of perception — it is at that point dragged by the body towards things that never exist in the same way, and the soul meanders and is distracted and whirls around like it was drunk, inasmuch as it latches onto such things? Indeed. However, whenever the soul independently investigates, it heads for what is pure, everlasting, unchangeable, and immortal. Since it is akin to these things, it always comes to be with them whenever it is by itself unimpeded. Thus whenever it has ceased its meandering and exists in a constant state,

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it communes with these things inasmuch as it latches onto such things. This feature of the soul has been called “understanding”? Socrates, Cebes said, you speak well and truly in every respect. Again, from what we were talking about just now, and from before, to which of the two forms do you think a soul is more similar and more akin? It entirely seems to me Socrates, he replied, that the slowest of learners will concede from this argument that the soul is most similar, in general and in every respect, to what always exists likewise, more than to what doesn’t. What is the body? The one that doesn’t. Do you really see matters in this way too, that whenever a soul and a body exist together, nature orders the body to be a servant — that is, to be ruled — and the soul to rule — that is, to be a master? And moreover, in accordance with this situation, which of the two seems to you to be like the divine, and which like the mortal? Or doesn’t it seem to be the case to you that the divine rules and leads by nature, whereas the mortal is to be ruled and a servant by nature? I suppose. The soul seems like which of the two? Clearly, Socrates, the soul is similar to the divine, the body to the mortal. Consider, Cebes, whether these things follow from everything said up to now for us: On the one hand, the soul is most similar to what’s divine, immortal, mental, uniform, indissoluble, and always exists in the same way; on the other, the body is most similar to what’s human, mortal, non-mental, multiform, dissoluble, and never exists in the same way. Do we, my friend, have anything else to say contrary to these things, showing they are not the case? We do not. What then? With these things being the case, is it true that it’s characteristic of the body to be quickly dissoluble, and of the soul to be altogether indissoluble, or pretty nearly so? Of course. Do you have in mind, Socrates asked, the idea that whenever a human being dies, the visible part of that person — the body, which is set in the visible world, what we call a “corpse,” of which it is characteristic to decompose, to deteriorate, to dissipate — this does not undergo any of these things right away but persists for quite some time, and if the person and his body reach the end gracefully and in a graceful period, the more so the better? When the body happens to be embalmed, like the mummies in Egypt, it remains almost whole for an incredible amount of time, and even when the rest of it mortifies,

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some parts of the body — bones, sinews and the like — are “immortal,” so to speak, right? Yes. The soul on the other hand, what is unseen, making its way to such a place that is noble, pure, unseen, to Hades36 in fact, to the home of a good and understanding deity where, god willing, my soul must go — is our soul naturally some such thing to be blown apart and destroyed upon its departure from the body, as most people say? My friends, Cebes and Simmias, this has to be far from the truth! Instead, the situation is far more the opposite, assuming the soul departs pure, dragging along nothing belonging to the body, inasmuch as it did not willingly partner up with it throughout life, but fled it and gathered itself together to itself, inasmuch as it continually practiced this . . . . Is this anything other than genuinely doing philosophy, that is, in fact, practising to die with ease? Or might this not be practicing for death? Well, it absolutely is. So then, when the soul is thus, it heads off for that which is similar to it: what is unseen, what is divine, immortal and understanding. Is this the place where, upon arrival, it is possible for the soul to be happy, having left behind drifting, mindlessness, fear, wild passions and the rest of human ills, and, as it’s said according to those who’ve been initiated, spend the rest of time with the gods? Shall we affirm this, Cebes, or something else? This, by Zeus! Cebes replied. It depends, I think, whether the soul departs from the body tainted and impure, insofar as it continually attended to the body, serviced it, was enamoured with and bewitched by its desires and pleasures to the extent that nothing else seemed to be real except what’s corporeal, what someone might touch, see, drink, eat and use for sex . . . But if the soul has become used to hating, trembling before, and running away from that which is shadowy and unseen to the eyes, yet intelligible and detectable by philosophy — do you think the soul, when it’s this way, will depart unadulterated, alone by itself? Not at all, he said. But I think that soul has been absorbed by the corporeal — intercourse and companionship with the body has ingrained this in it, owing to continual attendance and fervent practice. Indeed. One, my friend, has to take this corporeality to be quite heavy, burdensome, earth-like and visible. Truly, by having this, such a soul is oppressed and dragged back to the visible realm by fear of the unseen, of Hades, as it’s been 36

Cf. n. 7, and Crito 54a–b.

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said, roaming around memorials and graves where the spectral phantasms of souls have been seen, places where souls like this produce phantoms of themselves, ones which have not been released purely but partake of the visible, and so are seen. Quite likely, Socrates. Likely indeed, Cebes, and these are not at all the souls of good people, but those of vile people that are compelled to drift around, paying a penalty for their prior way of life, which was bad. And they drift for just as long as this, until they are again bound by desire to a body by their pursuit of the corporeal. They are probably bound to the sorts of characters they happened to attend to in life. What sorts do you mean, Socrates? For example, those who have attended to, and were not on guard against, gluttony, violence, and intoxication are likely to be bound to the class of asses and like beasts, don’t you think? What you say is quite on track. Those who have preferred injustice, oppression and rape are likely to be bound to the classes of wolves, hawks and kites . . . or should we say such souls go to someplace else? By all means, to such classes. So then, he said, it’s also clear where each of the rest would go to, in accordance with the similarities of their conduct? It’s definitely clear, Cebes said. How couldn’t it be? So then too, he said, the happiest of these, going to the best location, are those who have pursued communal and civil excellence and virtue, which we call “moderation” and “justice” . . . could these have arisen by habit and practice independently of mind and philosophy? How are they happiest? In the respect that they are likely to return to a kind of civil and cultivated class, I suppose either bees, wasps or ants, or even back to the very same human class, and be born as moderate individuals. Probably. It is natural law that one does not reach the class of gods unless one leaves completely pure and having done philosophy, the one who has a love of learning. For the sake of these things, my companions, Simmias and Cebes, those who are genuine philosophers leave all bodily desires behind, persevering and do not turn themselves over to them . . . They don’t leave them behind by fearing some kind of poverty or homelessness, like most people, and those who love their property, nor again by dreading dishonor and the obscurity of subservience, like those who love power and are status-seekers.

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That wouldn’t be appropriate, Socrates. No it wouldn’t be, by Zeus. Accordingly, Cebes, those who take care of their soul to any degree, and whose bodies don’t live by drifting, say “so long!” to all these things; their bodies don’t travel in the same way as those who don’t know where they’re going, but believing they must not act contrary to philosophy and their release and purification, they turn to follow philosophy where it leads. How, Socrates? I’ll tell you, he replied. Those who love learning realize that once philosophy has taken them under its wing, their soul has been thoroughly glued to and enveloped by the body, that it is forced to investigate the aspects of reality through this body as if through a prison cell, not by itself, and that it is tossed about in complete ignorance. Moreover, philosophy perceives that the horror of the prison cell is that it exists by means of desire, such that the ones who are imprisoned are themselves, more than anyone else, accomplices in their imprisonment! What I mean is those who love learning realize that, once philosophy takes them under its wing in this way, it gently consoles and tries to release their soul, pointing out that investigations by means of the eyes are replete with deception, ones by means of the ears and the rest of the senses are replete with deception, and persuades it to withdraw from these senses to the extent that it is not required to use them. By exhorting the soul to collect and gather itself together, philosophy persuades it to be confident in nothing other than itself, to be confident that it independently thinks what independently belongs to the aspects of reality, to be confident that when it considers something by other means this will be different at different times and leads to nothing true, for such things are perceptible and visible, but what the soul sees is mental and unseen. Thinking that it must not act contrary to this release from corporeality, the soul of the genuine philosopher in this way lets go of pleasures, desires, pains and fears insofar as it is capable, reckoning that, whenever someone has been made to feel an exceeding degree of pleasure, pain, fear or desire, they underwent little evil from them relatively speaking — as when one was ill or squandered money out of desire — whereas the greatest and ultimate of all evils of is to undergo this and not to take it into account. What is this, Socrates? Cebes asked. That the soul of every human being is compelled to feel exceeding pleasure or pain in connection with believing, and believes that the cause of this pleasure or pain is very distinct and true, which isn’t the case! Usually this happens when we come into contact with physical objects, doesn’t it? Indeed. So then a soul is vigourously bound by the body during this experience?

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Why? Because each pleasure and pain, as if it were a nail, pounds and pins the soul to the body and makes it corporeal, thereby holding exactly what the body asserts to be true. From this like-mindedness, the soul is compelled to take delight in the body and what it undergoes, becoming I think identical in stock and breed. As such, it never reaches Hades purely, but always goes off infected by the body, so that it quickly falls back and is implanted like seed being sown into another body; and because of this, it is divorced from any partnership with the divine, pure and uniform. You are absolutely right Socrates! said Cebes. Accordingly, it’s for the sake of these things, Cebes, that the authentic lovers of learning are disciplined and courageous, and not for the sake of what most people believe — or do you think otherwise? Of course I don’t. Surely you don’t, but a soul of a philosophical person might reckon in the following way: It would not think to use philosophy to release itself, and, while in the process of releasing it, to give itself over to pleasures and pains and to re-imprison itself all over again, to perform a never-ending task, a kind of Penelope working the loom at cross-purposes.37 Instead, arming itself with equanimity against these things, following the rational and continually dwelling within it, contemplating the true, the divine and the indubitable and being nurtured by this, this soul thinks it must live like this for as long as it lives, and after it reaches its end, it is delivered from human evils by attaining that which is akin and like itself. Truly, from this kind of development, the soul doesn’t fear anything dire after having practiced these things, Simmias and Cebes, such as once it has stepped out in its departure from the body it will be torn asunder, ripped and blown apart by the winds and no longer be anything, anywhere. After saying these things Socrates became quiet for quite some time, and he himself was absorbed in the argument just articulated, so he appeared . . . most of us were too . . . but Cebes and Simmias were conversing a little with each other. When he noticed them, he asked, What? Is it true that what’s been said seems to you to have been told in an unsatisfactory manner? It does still have many suspect points and openings to attack, if someone intends to go through them thoroughly. If you two are investigating something else, I have nothing to say, but if you’re bothered by some aspect of this topic, don’t hesitate to 37

In Homer’s Odyssey, Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, keeps suitors at bay while her husband was away by telling them that she would choose a suitor once she finished weaving a funeral shroud for Odysseus’ father Laertes. She would undo a day’s weaving during the night in order to keep putting them off.

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speak up for yourselves and go through it, if it appears to you it can be told in some better way! And, as always, take me along if you think you’d be much better off with me involved. Simmias replied, I’ll tell you the truth, Socrates. Each of us has been bothered for quite some time . . . we were urging, egging each other on to say something, given our desire to hear what you think, but didn’t want to give you any trouble, given your present circumstances. When he heard this, he chuckled and said, I’ll be damned, Simmias! It’ll be somewhat hard for me to convince the rest of humanity that I do not consider my present fate a calamity, when I am incapable of convincing you at all! Moreover, you’re afraid that I’m disposed to be somewhat more troublesome now than before! As it seems, I give you the impression of being cruder in prophetic skill than the swans, who, when they perceive that they must die, really sing at that moment most intensely and beautifully — even though they were singing throughout their lives up to that point — rejoicing in that fact that they are about to depart for the realm of the god, the very being whose servants they are.38 Human beings, due to their own fear of death, spread lies about the swans, and allege that they, lamenting their death, sing out of pain. They do not consider that no bird sings when it is hungry, cold or distressed by any other pain, not the nightingale, not the swallow, and not the hoopoe; birds they say sing while lamenting from pain. But to me, neither these, nor swans, appear to sing while lamenting, and, I think, inasmuch as they belong to Apollo, they are prophets and sing foreseeing blessings in Hades, and they are delighted that day in a way different from any time before. Even I myself believe that I am a fellow-slave of the swans and dedicated to the same god, and have prophetic skill from the master not worse than theirs — and I do not depart from life more melancholic than they! Because of this you have to speak and ask whatever you want, as long as the Athenian Eleven allow it. Well said! Simmias replied. I’ll ask you now about what’s been bothering me, and then Cebes will tell you why he doesn’t accept what’s been said. It seems to me, Socrates — perhaps as it does even to you — that it is impossible, or incredibly difficult, to know something clear about the current matters. However, it seems to be quite cowardly not to re-examine in depth the issues being talked about in every way, and to leave off before one gives up investigating them from every angle. Concerning these matters, one has to manage at least one of the following: to learn or discover what is the case, 38

As the owl is associated with Athena, so swans were associated with Apollo. In parallel, as owls are associated with wisdom (as Athena was the goddess of wisdom), so swans are associated with prophecy (as Apollo was the god of prophecy). Our notion of “swan song” is perhaps connected with this tradition.

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or, if one is incapable of either of these, at least to adopt the best and most irrefutable human arguments, letting oneself be carried upon this, like taking the risk of making the voyage of life, unless someone could be capable of being carried across more securely and with less jeopardy upon a more reliable vessel, some kind of divine argument. Furthermore, since you’re saying these things, I’ll no longer be ashamed to ask questions, nor will I fault myself in the future for not saying now what for me seems to be the case. For my part, Socrates, when I was considering the things we were talking about, both by myself, and e with Cebes, they didn’t quite appear to have been discussed adequately. Perhaps, my good friend, Socrates responded, they were appearing to you as they actually were! But do tell how they are inadequate. For me at least, he replied, they appeared inadequate in this way: Someone might assert this very argument concerning harmony, lyres and strings. As 86 harmony is unseen, incorporeal, altogether beautiful and divine in a finely tuned lyre, the lyre and the strings are bodies, and corporeal, composite, earth-like and akin to the mortal.39 So whenever someone smashes the lyre, or cuts and splits the strings, if one were sticking by the same argument as you — that it’s necessary the harmony still exists and has not been destroyed — they’d say there isn’t any way for the lyre, being of a mortal nature, to exist b still when the strings have been broken, but for the harmony, which is akin to and of the same nature as the divine and immortal, to have been destroyed, and to disappear before that which is mortal. It would somehow appear necessary for the harmony itself to still exist, and for the wood and strings to rot away before that harmony undergoes anything. And so, Socrates, I at least think you yourself have concluded this too, that we suppose that the soul above all is some such thing; as our body is expanded and contracted by the heat, cold, c dry, moist and some other of these sorts of things, our soul is a mixture, that is, a harmony, of these same things, whenever they are finely and proportionately blended with each other . . . If the soul happens to be a kind of harmony, it’s clear that whenever this body of ours goes out of tune or becomes tense by diseases or other malignancies, the soul is destroyed straightaway, even though it’s most divine, just as with the other harmonies found in voices, and in all the works of composers, but the remnants of the body of each persist for quite d some time, until they burn up or rot away. So see what we’ll say in regard to this argument, if someone claims that the soul, being a mixture of the kinds of things found in the body, is destroyed first in so-called “death.” 39

Here Simmias introduces the harmony theory of the soul, which persisted in Greek philosophy, despite Plato’s objections, in various forms for quite some time thereafter. It arguably is Pythagorean in origin.

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Socrates stared wide, as he was wont to do, and smiled. “What Simmias says is indeed justified!” he stated. “So, if one of you is more ready to go than I am, why didn’t you respond to him? It doesn’t seem like he grasped the argument in any sort of crude manner. It seems to me that before our response to this, we still have to hear from Cebes his objection, so that we can spend some time deliberating about what to say. Then, once we’ve heard this, either we concede to them if they seem reasonable to any extent, but if they don’t, we’ll launch a defense of our argument! So go on, Cebes, tell us what it is that’s bothering you!” I definitely shall, Cebes replied. The argument still appears to me to have gone nowhere, and is vulnerable to the same accusation we were alleging beforehand: This soul of ours was existing before it attained this present form — I do not detract from its total elegance, and, if it’s not ponderous to say, this has been proven quite sufficiently — but, that it also still exists somehow after our death, this does not seem to have been proven. I do not concede Simmias’ objection that the soul is not stronger or more durable than the body, for it seems to me to surpass it in every respect. “So what do you still doubt,” the argument might say, “since you see that that which is even weaker still exists after a human being dies? Does it not seem to you that that which is more enduring is necessarily still preserved throughout this time?” In response to this question, consider whether I am speaking to the point: Like Simmias, I suppose, I too require some imagery. It seems to me that similar things could be said in the case of someone who offers your argument concerning an individual who was an elderly weaver and recently died. They would claim that the individual had not died, but was preserved somehow. Evidence for this could be supplied by the cloak that the weaver wrapped himself in and had woven himself, for it is preserved and hasn’t been destroyed. If someone should doubt this, he could be asked whether the class of human beings, or of cloaks which are in use and being worn, is more enduring. When they answer rightly that “it’s the class of human beings for sure!” one could think it’s been proven that, more than anything, the human being at least is preserved, since that which is more temporary has not been destroyed. This, Simmias, I think is not the case. Take a look at — and you too Socrates — what I’m saying: Everyone supposes that the one who’s saying this is na¨ıve. This weaver, having woven and worn out many such cloaks, died after many of them, but before the last one, and not at all because a human being is more inferior or feeble than a cloak. By this same imagery, I think, a soul might be receptive of a body, and someone saying these same things about them appears to me to be speaking reasonably — that the soul is enduring, the body weaker and more temporary, but it appears each soul wears out many

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192 bodies, especially if the soul lasts for many years. If the body were to drop off and be destroyed while the person was still living, the soul would continually e reweave the kind of bodily cloak it was wearing — however, it would be a necessity that, at whatever point the soul was destroyed, the soul happened to be wearing its final cloak, and perishes before this one alone. At the moment when the soul is destroyed, the body would exemplify its feeble nature, and would quickly be off down the road of mortification. Therefore, your argument 88 in no way merits our trust and confidence that whenever we die our soul still exists in some way. If someone were to concede to a critic, still even more than what you do, by granting that not only did our souls exist in the time before our birth, but also that whenever we die, nothing prevents some of them from continuing to exist, and will exist and will be born and die again many times, for a soul is by nature so strong that it can withstand being born repeatedly . . . upon granting these things though, if one wouldn’t concede further that the soul isn’t strained by its many rebirths and deaths, and that perhaps in certain kinds of deaths it’s altogether destroyed, then the critic would say no one b knows whether this death, this dissolution of the body, is the one that brings about the ruin of the soul, for it’s impossible for any one of us whatsoever to perceive whether will be the case! If this is so, whoever faces death with confidence is confident foolishly, unless he can prove that the soul is altogether immortal and indestructible . . . If he can’t, then it’s necessary for one about to die to be afraid at every moment for the sake of their soul, that it’ll be entirely c destroyed by its decoupling from its current body. After they spoke, everyone listening felt depressed, as we mentioned to each other later, because after we had overwhelmingly been persuaded by the preceding argument, they seemed to confounded us again badly, and threw us into doubt lest we be worthless judges, or that even the facts themselves were not to be trusted, not only regarding the arguments that had be discussed earlier, but also regarding the ones that we were going to talk about momentarily. Echecrates: By the gods, Phaedo, I for one sympathize with you! Even d while I’m listening to you now, I’m mentally saying to myself something like “Is there any argument we can still trust? What’s really persuasive, now the argument that Socrates was offering has been thrown into question!” His argument entirely captivates me, both at this moment and always — that our soul is a kind of harmony — and just as you were mentioning it, it reminded me that this had been my former opinion. I really require again, right from the top, some other argument which will persuade me that at the moment of death the soul isn’t dying as well. So, tell me, by Zeus, how in the world did e Socrates salvage his argument? Also, tell me whether he became visibly vexed, or wasn’t, but calmly rescued his argument, and whether he did so adequately

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or inadequately. Go over everything for me as accurately as you can! Phaedo: For sure, Echecrates, I was frequently amazed by Socrates, but never before had I admired him as much as I did in those circumstances. The fact that he would say something is perhaps not so strange, but I at least was especially amazed, first, at the way he accepted the youths’ argument gladly, graciously, respectfully; and second, at the way he keenly perceived in what way we had been affected by their arguments; and third, at the way he restored us successfully and, like routed and defeated soldiers, called us back and rallied us to pursue and to examine the argument. Echecrates: How? Phaedo: I’ll tell you. I happened to be sitting beside Socrates’ bench on the right, on a kind of footstool, but he was higher up than I was. So as he was running his hands over my head, he draped my hair around my neck — he used to play with my hair whenever he had the chance — and said, “Tomorrow, Phaedo, I suppose you’ll shave off this fine head of hair!”40 Probably, Socrates, I said. No you won’t, if you listen to me! Why not? I asked. I’ll shave mine and you yours today if our argument dies on us and we’re incapable of reincarnating it! If I were you and the argument got away from me, like the Argives41 I’d swear to myself that I wouldn’t grow my hair out until I achieved victory in battle against the argument of Simmias and Cebes. But, I countered, not even Hercules could fight two opponents! But, Socrates said, summon me, your Iolaus, for as long as the light lasts. I hereby summon you, I said, not as Hercules, but as Iolaus to your Hercules!42 It makes no difference, he said. But first, let’s take care to avoid undergoing a kind of suffering. What kind? I said. Let’s not become “misologues,” he said, “like people who become misanthropes! It isn’t the case, he continued, that anyone could undergo a greater evil than to come to hate arguments. “Misology,” and “misanthropy,” are 40 It was fashionable at the time for young men to keep their hair long. This was the “Spartan style.” Shaving one’s hair was a sacrifice to the god and a sign of mourning. It is also part of a purification ritual for mourners after someone’s death. 41 The Argives were the citizens of Argos, a significant city in the eastern Peleponnese. 42 Hercules (Greek Heracles) was the greatest legendary Greek hero. While he was fighting the Lernaean Hydra (a seven-headed serpent who regenerated two heads for every one lost), which was one of his twelve “labors,” Hercules was attacked by a giant crab. Iolaus came to his aid and dealt with the crab.

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born from the same source. Misanthropy arises when, without any skill, one has excessive confidence in someone, and by considering that individual to be genuine, fit and trustworthy. Then, shortly thereafter, one discovers that this individual is good-for-nothing and untrustworthy. Another incident occurs, and then, when this person experiences this multiple times, especially with those whom that person considered to be most friendly and companionable, after back-to-back offences, they ultimately hate everyone and consider absolutely no one to be fit. Haven’t you watched this happen before? Indeed I have, I replied. Isn’t it a shame, he said, and clear, that such a person tried to interact with human beings without any skill concerning human nature? If one, I suppose, interacted with some skill, one would come to realize that exceedingly good, and exceedingly good-for-nothing, individuals are each few in number, whereas those in between are plentiful. How do you mean? I said. Like things which are exceedingly small and large, he replied. Do you think anything is rarer than to encounter an exceedingly small or an exceedingly large person or dog or anything else whatever? Same with quick or slow, or ugly or beautiful, or white or black? Haven’t you noticed that, in all these cases, the extremes on both sides are rare and few, whereas those in between are abundant and plentiful? Sure I have, I said. Then don’t you think that, if one were to establish a “good-for-nothing” contest, those in first place would appear few and far between even there? Probably, I said. Probably indeed! he replied. However, arguments are not like human beings in this respect . . . I was just keeping up with where you were leading. They’re alike in this way: Whenever someone, without any skill concerning arguments, trusts some kind of argument to be true without any skill concerning arguments, and a little while later it seems to be false to them, when sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t, and again and again one way or the other — and especially for those who spend too much time with opposing arguments43 — you know that in the end they think they’ve become the wisest people on earth, and they alone have observed that no fact, and no argument, is either sound or secure, but instead, that everything in existence simply writhes up and down like it’s 43

By “opposing arguments” Plato is likely referring here to sophists like Gorgias, or to people who were taken by texts like the Dissoi Logoi, a catalogue of pros and cons for various issues. The Dissoi Logoi still survives.

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in the Euripus44 and remains in no single place for any amount of time. You’re totally right, I said. So, Phaedo, this condition would be pitiable, if, when an argument really were true and solid and capable of being understood, then, on account of attending to arguments that at one point seem to be true, at another not to be true, people were to find fault not with themselves or with their inability, but because of their anguish they shoved the responsibility away from themselves over to the arguments, and, from that point on, persisted in hating and railing against arguments for the rest of their lives, thereby being deprived of knowledge and the truth about reality. By Zeus, it really would be a pity. Therefore, he said, we should be wary of this right from the start. We shouldn’t pass on to the soul the notion that no arguments about it are likely to be fit, but quite rather the fact that we are not yet fit!45 We must be courageous and eager to get into shape — for you and the others, for the sake of your entire lives from this moment on; for me, for the sake of my death, as I myself am not likely to be philosophical about this very issue in my present circumstances, but rather competitive like those who are really uncivilized. Whenever such people are in a dispute about something, they don’t care about whether something is the case or not concerning their argument; they’re eager that what they put forward will seem to be right to those present. And I see myself, in my present situation, to be different from them only this far: it’s not that I’ll be eager that what I’m saying will seem to those of you present to be true — unless it might be of some minor importance — but, more than anything, that it’ll seem to be the case to me! I reckon, my good friend — behold how greedy I am! — that if what I’m saying happens to be true, your acceptance of it is an added bonus, but if nothing waits for me at my moment of passing, then at least for this very time prior to my death, I will spare those present with my distasteful wailing, and this ignorance of mine won’t continue plaguing you — that would be bad — but will perish shortly thereafter. Simmias and Cebes, Socrates said, I’m now ready to advance upon the argument under the following conditions: Please listen to me. You will care less about Socrates, and much more about the truth; if I seem to say something true to you, you will concur; if not, you will counter the entire argument, taking care lest I, through enthusiasm, thoroughly beguile myself and you at the same time, as if I were a bee about to depart, leaving behind its stinger 44

The Euripus is the strait between Boeotia and the island of Euboea, which is very turbulent and difficult to navigate. 45 Aristotle basically repeats this claim at the beginning of his work on the soul, the De Anima.

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in you. We must be off! he said. First, remind me what you were saying, if I appear not to have remembered. I think Simmias is unconvinced and fears that the soul, although being more divine and beautiful than the body, is antecedently destroyed if it exists in the form of a harmony. Cebes seemed to agree with me about this, that the soul is more enduring at least than the body, but that this is obscure to everyone: the soul, frequently wearing out many bodies, is destroyed at the moment when it wears out its last body, and this very thing is death — the destruction of the soul — since nothing stops the body at least from being perpetually destroyed. Simmias, Cebes, is there anything else besides this that we have to look into? Both concurred that this was definitely it. Do either of you, he replied, reject all of the preceding arguments, or do you accept some, but not others? Some we accept, some we don’t, they both said. Now what do you say about that argument in which we affirmed that learning is recollection, and with this being the case, it is necessary that the soul exists somewhere else before, prior to its imprisonment in a body? I, Cebes said, was then persuaded by that argument in the most profound way, and stand by it now like no other. Me too, Simmias added, I myself am like this, and would be quite astounded if something else ever seemed right to me about this matter. Socrates replied, But it is necessary for you, my foreign Theban guest, that something else did seem right, if at any rate this thinking persists: That a harmony is a composite thing, and a soul is a kind of harmony assembled from things having been strung out in accordance with the body. I suppose you won’t allow yourself to say that a harmony was preassembled before the existence of those things that the soul required for its assembly, or do you allow it? Not at all, Socrates. Do you see, he said, that this is what you mean when you say that the soul exists before it takes the form, that is, the body, of a human being, and that it exists when it is assembled from things that don’t yet exist? A harmony at least isn’t for you really something like what you’re comparing it to: Before the lyre, strings and tones are “born” they exist, yet uncoordinated; the harmony is the last of all to be composed but the first to be destroyed. How is this argument of yours consistent with that? It isn’t, Simmias replied. Surely, Socrates continued, it supposedly befits an argument about harmony at least to be consistent with some other argument. It does, he said.

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Yours then isn’t consistent! But look, which of the two arguments do you prefer: the one that states learning is recollection, or the one that states the soul is a harmony? The former, far more, Socrates. The latter came to me without proof because of likelihood and plausibility, which is why it seems right to most people. I’m cognizant of the fact that arguments constructed on the basis of “proof by likelihood” are bogus, and a person not guarding themselves closely against them gets tricked, both in geometry and in all the rest. The argument concerning recollection and learning is asserted, however, on the basis of a supposition worthy of acceptance. It is asserted as follows, I think: our soul exists even before it reaches a body, just like the reality that exists which has the name “what is.” As I tell myself, I have accepted this for myself in an adequate and correct manner. And so it’s necessary for me that, owing to these considerations, I accept the claim that the soul is a harmony neither from myself nor from anyone else. What about this then, Simmias? Does it seem to you that it’s characteristic of a harmony, or any other kind of composite, to exist in any way other than the way those things it’s composed out of exist? Not at all. Surely, as I hold, it doesn’t do anything, or undergo anything else apart from what those things do or undergo? He agreed. Thus, it isn’t characteristic of a harmony to conduct those things out of which it’s composed, but to follow. That seemed right to him. So it’s far from being the case that a harmony is changed, sounded or set against anything else contrary to its component parts. Far from it indeed, he said. What next? Isn’t a harmony’s nature such that each harmony exists as it’s being arranged? I don’t understand, he replied. Isn’t it the case, Socrates said, that the more a harmony is being arranged to a greater extent — if it’s possible for this to occur — it will be more a harmony to that extent, but if it’s less and to a lesser extent, it’ll be less a harmony to that extent? Sure. So concerning a soul: Is it such that, even to the tiniest degree, one soul is to a greater extent and more fully a soul than another, or to a lesser extent and less fully a soul? Not at all, he said.

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By Zeus, come on! Socrates replied. One soul is said to have a mind, virtue and excellence, and to be good; another soul is said to show a lack of mind, corruption, and to be evil, right? Are these statements true? They are true indeed. When it’s posited that a soul is a harmony, what will someone say these things are that exist in souls, excellence and evil? Is the one a harmony again and the other a “dissonance”? Moreover, is a good soul a harmony with a harmony within it, and is a dissonant soul a harmony with a dissonance within it? I’m unable to say anything, Socrates. It’s clear that one who supposed that would say such things. But it was previously agreed, he said, that one soul is no more or less a soul than another! This is the agreement: one harmony is no more and does not exist to a greater extent, nor less and does not exist to a lesser extent, than another harmony. What do you say? Sure. Since here harmony is neither more nor less, it is neither more nor less arranged. Is this so? It is. Is it possible for that which is neither more nor less arranged to have a greater or lesser share in harmony, or does it have an equal share? An equal one. So then since one soul is neither more nor less than another, this is it, a soul, itself: it is neither more nor less arranged? So it is. With a soul having been established this way, it has no more a share in dissonance as it does in harmony? No. Again, with a soul having been established this way, does one soul have any more a share in evil or in excellence to any degree than another, supposing evil is dissonance, and excellence is harmony? No more. But it will be more I suppose, Simmias, according to the correct argument that no soul will have a share in evil if it is a harmony. A harmony of course, being entirely this thing itself, would never have any share in dissonance. Of course not. Neither then, of course, will a soul, being a soul, have a share in evil. How could it, from what has been stated before? From this argument of ours then, every soul of every living thing will be equally, if souls are by nature equally this thing itself, souls.

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It seems so to me at any rate, Socrates, he said. Moreover, if the supposition was correct — that the soul is a harmony — b does it look like it was beautifully articulated, given that the account underwent these things? In no way, Simmias replied. What now? Socrates said. Of all the things in a human being, is it the case that anything other than the soul rules, and is aware — do you put it in any other way? I certainly don’t. Is it by deferring to the experiences running throughout the body, or by countering them too? I mean it like this, for example, when there’s overheating or thirst taking place, does the soul drag the body in the opposite direction, to not drinking, and when there’s hunger taking place it drags it over to not eating? Although, I suppose, we see thousands of other examples where the c soul counters what’s running throughout the body, no? We certainly do. So then, as we agreed by the preceding arguments, the soul, when it’s purportedly a harmony, never resonates contrary to what might be stretched, released, plucked or whatever other experience they — that which the soul happens to be composed of — undergo, but instead follows their lead and never conducts them? We did agree — how could we not have? he answered. What next? Doesn’t it appear to us now that the soul behaves in completely the opposite way, ruling over all of those things out of which someone says it’s composed, counters almost all experiences throughout its entire life and d in all ways is the master, at times correcting desires, urges and fears in a harsher way and with all kinds of agonies, according to the dictates of physical training and medicine, at times correcting them more gently with promises and admonitions, like it was something having a conversation with another creature? For instance, even Homer, somewhere in the Odyssey, has composed something about this, where he states that Odysseus, e Beating his breast, he chided his heart, “Heart, endure, you’ve endured more horrible things before.” 46 Do you think that he composed these lines thinking that, with his soul being a harmony, it’s the sort of thing to be led by the experiences of the body? Didn’t he think it’s the sort of thing that leads these things and is their master, with it being far more divine a creature than one analogous to a harmony? 46

Odyssey XX, 19–20.

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By Zeus, Socrates, that seems right to me at least. Thus, my noble friend, it is not a fine thing for us in any way to affirm that the soul is a kind of harmony — it seems like we would be in agreement neither with the divine poet Homer, nor with ourselves. This is the case, he said. Well then, Socrates said, it seems like the voice of Harmonia of Thebes has somehow become moderately conciliatory to us. Now, what about the voice of Cadmus — how will we conciliate him, Cebes, and by what kind of argument?47 I think you’ll find a way, Cebes replied. To me, you certainly handled this argument about harmony in a manner remarkable beyond my thinking. As Simmias was saying when he explained how he was bothered, I wondered whether anyone would get a hold of anything to use against his argument. It seemed quite extraordinary straightaway that Simmias did not anticipate the initial onset of your argument. Really, I wouldn’t be surprised should the argument of Cadmus suffer the same fate. My good man, Socrates said, don’t talk so boastfully, lest some kind of malevolent entity overturn our upcoming argument! Nevertheless, these things will be the care of the god; let us try to go forth “Homerically” as to whether you now are saying anything significant. The principal point after which you strive is this: You require us to demonstrate that our soul is indestructible and immortal; and whether a philosophical individual who is about to die — confident and believing that, upon dying, he will fare well there, better than if he led some other life — is not about to venture off with mindless and foolish confidence. To prove that the soul is something strong, god-like and to have existed before we humans were born — you claim all these things are evidence that the soul is not immortal but long lasting, that it somehow existed beforehand for an inconceivable length of time and knew and was doing all kinds of things; but to say it is immortal, something more is needed . . . indeed, even the entrance into the body of a human itself was the beginning of the soul’s downfall, like a disease. Perhaps even the soul is destroyed by the hardship incurred by living and dying this life! You assert that it makes no difference whether the soul goes into a body once or many times regarding the 47

Cadmus was the legendary Phoenician founder of Thebes and husband of Harmonia. Cadmus slayed a dragon sacred to Ares, the result of which was civil and family unrest for the rest of his life. Athena had instructed him to sow the dragon’s teeth in the soil, from which were born a race of fierce fighters called Spartes. Cadmus threw a stone that caused them to fall upon one another and die, except for five who went on assist in building the Citadel of Thebes, the Cadmea. The surviving five are the ancestors of the noble families of Thebes.

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fear each of us has; it’s proper to be afraid, unless one is a fool, in terms of not knowing or having an argument providing that the soul is immortal. Cebes, these are the things I think you’re saying, and I repeatedly take them up with a set purpose in mind, in order that nothing gets away from us — and if you want to, add or take away something. There’s nothing I need to add or to take away at the present moment, Cebes replied. These are the things I’m saying. After pausing for quite some time and mulling over something in his mind, Socrates then said, Cebes, this is no small matter you’re pursuing. One must, in short, examine in detail the causation involving generation and destruction. So I’ll go through my experiences with them for you, if you want to. Then, should any of the things I’m talking about appear to be of any use to you, use it to persuade us about the things you hold. I definitely want to!, Cebes said. Now listen to what I have to say. Cebes, when I was a young man I admirably set my heart on that wisdom they rightly call “natural history.” It seemed to me to be splendid to know the causes of each thing, why it came to be, why it disappeared, why it existed. Frequently I turned myself upside down thinking about things, and initially about this: “Is it the case, as some have said, that whenever warmth and coolness undergo a kind of transformation, living things then grow? Is it blood by means of which our minds work, or is it moisture or fire, or is it none of these things? Instead, is the brain that which supplies our perceptions of hearing, sight and smell, and from them memories and opinions, and by concentrating on memories and opinions, knowledge arises in regard to them?”48 Likewise about the destruction of things, and the features of the earth and the sky, and ultimately I thought myself inherently worthless for this kind of work. Here’s definitive proof for you. From all this speculation, what I knew clearly beforehand — at least what I thought was clear to myself and others — I became exceedingly confused about afterwards, so much so that I undid everything I learned about this, that and the other, even about how people grew! Before, I thought what was clear to everybody, that people grew by eating and drinking. Muscle was added to muscle, and bone to bone, from food, and so by the same line of reasoning, what was appropriate for each kind of stuff would be added to that stuff, then a little amount of stuff would become a bigger amount later, and so a person who was small would become big. This is how I thought — doesn’t it sound rational to 48

It seems like Plato is referring to Empedocles here, a 5th century Greek philosopher from Sicily. He was the first Greek to posit the “four element” theory, namely earth, air, water and fire. Again, the “like affects like” versus “like affects unlike” debate resurfaces.

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you? It does to me, Cebes replied. There’s still more: This seemed fine to me, that whenever someone who looked big was standing beside someone small, he was bigger by that amount, and the same with horses and the like. And still this was even more obvious, that ten was more than eight due to the two being added to the eight, and that two lengths were greater than one due to the one exceeding the other by half. What do you think about these things now ? Cebes said. That I am by Zeus, Socrates replied, much further from thinking I know the cause of any of those things. I don’t even accept that whenever someone adds one to one, the one to which it had been added became two, or that which was added and that to which it had been added become two through the addition of one to the other. I wonder whether each thing was one, and was not at that moment two, when they were apart from each other, and after that they came close to each other, this was the cause of their becoming two, the union resulting from being set close to each other. Nor when somebody divides one, am I yet capable of being persuaded that this was the cause — the division — of their having become two, for a moment ago the opposite was the cause of their becoming two: earlier, it was because they were brought near each other, that is, one was added to the other; now, it is because they are brought apart, that is, one is separated from the other. Nor do I believe that I know why one comes to be, or anything else, why it comes to be or disappears or exists, according to that way of investigating things. I am not persuaded any longer, but I do have a confused method of my own. But at one point, Socrates continued, I heard someone reading from a book of Anaxagoras,49 who said that Mind is the regulator and the cause of everything. I was delighted with this cause! It seemed to me that Mind being the cause of everything was pretty good, and I supposed if this was so, the ordering Mind would order everything and set each thing in the way that would be best. Hence, concerning that thing, if someone wished to discover the cause for which it came to be or disappeared or existed, one would have to discover about it the way in which it was best for it to exist or do or undergo anything whatsoever.50 From this account then one would examine nothing else concerning a human being, about it itself and the rest, except what was 49

Cf. Phaedo 72c, Apology 26d, and p. 108 n. 21. Here, “best” seems to imply a kind of or purpose. Before this change in view, Plato had Socrates focusing on material (and perhaps also moving) causes. Plato has Socrates criticize Anaxagoras for equivocating between material causes on the one hand, and formal causes on the other. 50

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best and most noble. It’s a necessity for one to know what is worse for that very thing too — the same body of knowledge concerns them both. While gladly thinking about these things I thought I had discovered a like-minded teacher of the causes of the things that exist — this Anaxagoras — and that he would make known to me first whether the earth was flat or round, and after that, he would make known, on top of explaining its cause and its necessity, what is better and that it was better for it to be such. If he were to assert it was in the middle of the universe, he would explain besides how it was better for it to be in the middle. If he were to give an account of these things to me, I would have been freed from my yearning for any other form of explanation. Thereafter, I would have been similarly freed from inquiring about the sun, the moon, and the other things in the sky, their speed around in relation to each other, their course and their other features, in what way at what time these things were better for each to do and to undergo what they underwent. It never crossed my mind that he — asserting them to have been ordered by Mind — would have imposed some other cause for them except that it was best for them to be so, like he had. Having given an account for the cause of each of them and that the best was common to every single one, I also thought he would, in addition, explain the good common to every single one. I wouldn’t give up my hopes for anything, so I zealously got his books and read them as quickly as I could, so that I could know the best and the worst as quickly as possible. My friend, I had gone just to be robbed of my really admirable hopes. From the moment I proceeded to read, I saw the man made no use of Mind, nor made it responsible for the regulation of things in the world, but alleged the causes were moisture and air and water and many other things that were also out of place. This seemed to me to have been just as if someone — while saying that everything Socrates did he did by means of mind, and setting about to state the causes of each of the things I did — were to say initially that I am sitting still here now because my body is composed of sinews and bones, that bones are solid and have joints separating them from each other, and that sinews are stretched and relaxed, wrapping around the bones with muscle and skin that keeps them all together. And further, while the bones are being lifted, the sinews, which are extending and retracting, cause me to be able to bend my limbs somehow at the junctures, and this is the cause of my sitting here. They would state other such causes concerning my conversation with you — making sounds and puffs of air and aural receptions and other such innumerable things would be the causes — and overlook the genuine causes, that after it seemed to the Athenians to be better to convict me, it had seemed better to me to sit here, and by remaining here, more just to

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suffer the penalty that they recommended. I think that these sinews and bones would have been hanging around Megara or Boeotia long ago, carried by a thought of what is best, if I hadn’t thought it was more just and beautiful to uphold whatever sentence the state will impose than to sneak off and go into exile.51 However, they call such causes “exceedingly absurd.” If someone were to say that, without having such things as bones and sinews and whatever else I have, I would be incapable of enacting the things I choose, they would be right; but saying it is because of these things that I do what I do, and not b by means of a choice of what is best, even though I choose with my mind, is an enormously sloppy argument — it is the inability to distinguish between one thing being the cause of something existent, and another thing without which that cause would never be a cause. Most people really appear to me to be groping about like they were in the dark, calling it a “cause” by name, but using a name that belongs to something else. On account of this, some make the earth stay under heaven by placing a vortex around the earth, and others prop it up in the atmosphere, which is like the base of a flat mortar. c But regarding their potential to be in the best possible place — the place in which they are now — they do not seek this cause, and they do not think it has any heavenly strength. Instead they think they’ll discover some “Atlas” somewhere who is stronger and more everlasting than this to hold everything together, and they think nothing of the “good” and “proper” to unite and hold things together.52 I, on the other hand, would gladly become the student of anyone at all anywhere who had anything to do with such a cause, since my hopes were dashed and I was incapable of discovering it myself, or learning it from another. Do you want me to show you how I got preoccupied with the second best way to search for the cause, Cebes? I really want you to, he said. It seemed to me, Socrates said, after I had given up looking into these aspects of reality, I had to beware lest something happened to me like what happens to those who observe and look into the sun during an eclipse, for some e somehow wreck their eyes if they don’t look at its reflection in water or other like material. I supposed something like that, and feared that my soul would altogether be blinded by seeing matters with my eyes and by trying to lay hold of them with every one of the senses. In fact, it seemed I needed to look into 100 the truth of the aspects of reality by falling back onto arguments. Perhaps the way in which I portray this approach isn’t apt, for I definitely don’t grant that 51

Socrates is referring to Crito’s dismissed plan: Crito had arranged for Socrates to go off into exile instead of being executed. Cf. Crito 53d–e. 52 Atlas was a Titan, the brother of Prometheus, who held the heavens up over the earth.

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looking into the aspects of reality with arguments is dealing with reflections more than looking into material facts. So, at any rate, I began with this and at every opportunity took up for myself an argument that I determined to be in the best condition; I took as true those arguments — both about causes as well as everything else — that seemed to me to be consistent with that one, and those that weren’t, I took as not true. I want to make clearer what I’m saying to you. I think you don’t understand right now. By Zeus I don’t, Cebes said, not at all. Well, Socrates continued, what I’m saying is as follows. It is nothing new; instead, it is the very thing I have never stopped talking about, both elsewhere all the time and in the previous argument. I am really going to try to show to you the sort of cause that has preoccupied me. I return to those well-known things and begin from them, supposing that there is some beautiful itself independently, as well as good, great, and everything else — if you grant and agree with me there are these things, I hope to demonstrate for you the cause from these, and to find out that the soul is immortal. Sure, Cebes said, if by granting this to you, you can get to your point more quickly. Look here, Socrates replied, see if what follows from those look as good to you as they do to me. It appears to me that if there is something else beautiful other than the beautiful itself, it is beautiful for no other reason than that it takes part in the beautiful — and I definitely say the same thing for everything. Do you agree to such a cause? I agree, he said. Accordingly, Socrates said, I still do not understand, nor am I capable of understanding, these other “deep” causes. If someone were to say to me “whatever is beautiful is so because it has a distinguished color or figure,” or whatever else, I let them go — they all confuse me — and I simply, with no skill and perhaps a little na¨ıvety, cling to my position that nothing else makes it beautiful, except the presence of, or the association with, or however you want to conceive it, that beautiful, for I am still not confident enough about it except that everything beautiful is beautiful by this beautiful. It seems to me that it is safest to answer myself, as well as others, with this, and by holding onto this I believe I will never fail. That it is safe answering myself and anyone else that beautiful things become beautiful by the beautiful — doesn’t this seem right to you too? It seems right. Also that it is by magnitude that great things become great and greater things greater, and by minuteness lesser things become less?

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206 Yes. Wouldn’t you agree then that if one were to say some one thing is taller than another by a head, and the one who was shorter was shorter by that same 101 length, wouldn’t you object that you state nothing other than that everything greater than another is greater by magnitude alone, and it is because of this it is greater — because of magnitude — and the lesser is so by nothing other than minuteness, and it is because of this — because of minuteness. You would fear, I think, that some kind of opposing argument would confront you, if you say something is taller and shorter by a head. First, the greater is greater and the lesser is lesser by the same thing. Then, the greater is greater by a head b which is short; and this is the real monstrosity, the existence of something great by means of something minute. Or wouldn’t you fear this? Oh, I would! Cebes said laughing. So then, Socrates went on, wouldn’t you be afraid to state that ten is more than eight by two, and because of this cause it supercedes eight, and not by multiplicity and because of multiplicity? Likewise, that two lengths are greater than one by half and not by magnitude? This is the same fear, I guess. Quite so, Cebes replied. Now what? Won’t you be careful not to say that by adding one to one the c addition is the cause of the two, or that by dividing one into two the division is the cause? Will you holler that you don’t know how else each thing comes to be except by taking part in the unique reality in which it takes part, and in these cases you don’t endorse any alternative cause of the becoming of two except the participation in duality and that it must take part in this in order for it to be two, and in unity for what is about to be one, and you let go these “divisions” and “additions” and other such intricacies of language, handing d their treatment over to people wiser than yourself? You – afraid of your own shadow, let alone inexperience — will reply by holding onto the security of your position. Should someone latch onto the position itself, you should make them wait and not respond until you have looked into whether the things which follow from it are mutually consistent or inconsistent. Since you will be required to give an argument for that position itself, shouldn’t you give it in this manner, by repeatedly taking up an alternative position, whatever one appears best from those that are uppermost, until you come to one that e is satisfactory? But don’t mix them up like debaters arguing simultaneously about their starting point and the things that follow from it, if you want to discover anything at all about the aspects of reality. Perhaps they don’t have one word to say about this, or any concern, for they, satisfied by their wisdom mixing everything up together, nevertheless have the capacity to be pleased 102 with themselves, but you, if you count yourself as a philosopher, I think you

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will do as I say. You are absolutely right! Cebes and Simmias said at the same time. Echecrates: Naturally, Phaedo, by Zeus! It seems to me Socrates said these things in a remarkably clear way, even to one having a minute mind. Phaedo: Indeed, Echecrates, it seemed so also to everyone there. Echecrates: Even for those who weren’t there but are hearing it now. What was said after this? Phaedo: Well, I think, when these things were granted to him, and they agreed that each one of the Forms existed, and that everything else, by having a share of them, gets their name from them, the next question was this: So, Socrates said, if these things are as you say, isn’t it the case that whenever you say that Simmias is taller than Socrates, but shorter than Phaedo, you’re saying that both magnitude and minuteness are in Simmias? I am. But then, he continued, you agree that the statement “Simmias exceeds Socrates in height,” as it is said in words, is not true? It isn’t by his nature that Simmias exceeds Socrates — by means of being Simmias — but by means of the magnitude he happens to have. Moreover, it isn’t that he exceeds Socrates because Socrates is Socrates, but because Socrates has minuteness in relation to Simmias’ magnitude? True. Well, likewise, it isn’t that he is exceeded by Phaedo by means of this — because Phaedo is Phaedo — but because Phaedo has magnitude in relation to Simmias’ minuteness? This is the case. Thus Simmias has the name “is small,” and “is tall,” being in between both: By supplying the minuteness one exceeds him by means of magnitude; by providing the magnitude he exceeds the minuteness of the other. It seems like, Socrates said with a grin, I am speaking like a book, but I really can’t put it any other way. I’m talking like this in the hope that you will think like me! Now, it appears to me not only that magnitude itself never means to be great and minute at the same time, but also that the magnitude in us never admits the minute nor means to be exceeded, but one of the two is the case: either it flees or shrinks back whenever the contrary — the minute — approaches it, or it is destroyed when that contrary completes its approach. It is not willing to be different from the very thing it was, submitting to and receiving minuteness, whereas I have received and submitted to minuteness and still remain the very thing I am, a man that is minute. But magnitude, being great, does not venture to be minute. Likewise the minute in us is not willing to be or to become great, nor any other pair of contraries, while being

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208 103 the very thing it was, simultaneously means to be or to become its contrary, but either takes off or is destroyed by this situation. It altogether appears so to me, Cebes responded. Upon hearing this, someone — who it was I don’t clearly recall — said, “By the gods! What is being said just now is the contrary itself to what was said in our preceding arguments: that the greater comes to be from the lesser and the lesser from the greater, and this is how contraries come to be, from their contraries? What you seem to be saying now is that this never occurs! b Socrates cocked his head and listened. You’ve remembered in a courageous way, he said, but you don’t see the difference between what’s being said now, and what was said then. Then it was said that contrary things in the world come to be from contrary things in the world; now, that the contrary itself never comes to be from its contrary, neither the one in us nor the one in nature. Before, my friend, we were talking about the things which have the contraries, calling them by the name of those contraries. But now we are talking about those contraries themselves, whose presence in things gives those things their c name — these contraries themselves never accept being generated from one another. Socrates turned to Cebes and said, So Cebes, were you bothered at all by anything he said? Not this time, Cebes replied, although I must admit a lot of things bother me. We agree then to just this, Socrates said, that a contrary will never be the contrary of itself. Absolutely, Cebes said. Then consider this too for me and see if you agree. You call something hot and cold? Yes. d Is that very thing ice and fire? By Zeus not to me! The heat is something different from fire and the cold something different from ice? Yes. But, I think, it seems to you that being ice it never accepts the heat, like we said previously, yet it will be the very thing it was, ice and heat, but when the heat approaches it will shrink back from it or be destroyed. Very much so. And fire too, when the cold approaches it will retreat or be destroyed — it never submits, by accepting coldness, and remain the very thing it was, fire e and cold. That’s correct, Cebes said.

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It is the case concerning some of these things then, Socrates replied, that not only the Form itself has the right to its name for all time, but also anything else that is not that Form, but always has its shape, whenever it exists.53 Perhaps what I mean will be even more clear with this: The odd, I suppose, must always possess the name that we are using now — or not? Indeed. I now ask this. Is this the case only among aspects of reality, or is there also something else that is not the very thing that is the odd, but nevertheless 104 one must always call it with its name on account of its naturally being so, such that it is never absent from the odd? I mean, for example, like three, which has received the odd from without, and many other things. Consider three. Doesn’t it seem to you that it always must be called by its name, and by the odd, which is not the same thing that three is? Nevertheless, it is by nature somehow that three, and five, and half of all numbers, are such that each of b them is always odd, while not being the same thing the odd is. Likewise, two and four and the entire other column of numbers, while not being the same thing as the even, are each always even.54 Do you agree or not? How could I not? Cebes responded. Consider then what I want to make clear, Socrates said. It appears not only that contraries are not receptive of each other, but also that there are a certain number of things, while not being contraries of each other, always contain the contraries, and these don’t seem like they are receptive of that idea which is contrary to the one existing in them. But when the contrary does threaten that thing, the thing is either destroyed or shrinks away.55 Or, won’t c we say that three will be destroyed, and will undergo anything else whatsoever, before it submits to becoming even while it is still three? Of course we will, Cebes said. Now two is hardly contrary to three, Socrates continued. No, it is not. So, it is not only the case that contrary forms do not submit to the approach of each other, but also that there are some other things that do not submit to the approach of contraries. You are totally right, Cebes said. 53

Here is one of the rare places in Plato (and Aristotle) where Form (eidos) is somewhat clearly differentiated from shape (morph¯e). 54 The phrase “column of numbers” likely refers to a part of Pythagorean philosophy: all things in the universe for the Pythagoreans fell into one of two columns, with the basic characteristics of number (e.g., odd-even) as the principal determinants for everything else. 55 This discussion is one of the few places where the possible differences between form (eidos) and idea (idea) are mentioned in any detail.

210 Do you want us then, if we are capable, to determine what sorts of things these are? d Quite. Cebes, will they be this: the things that are forced to have not only its idea, but also always some contrary as well, inasmuch as they possess them? What do you mean? It’s like what I just said. You know that what the idea of three possesses must not only be three but also odd. Quite. We affirm the contrary idea, for that form that fills out this thing would surely never come towards it. Never. The odd idea at least does this. Yes. The contrary to this is the idea of the even? e Yes. The idea of the even will never come towards three. Not ever. Three surely has no share in the even. No share. Three, then, is uneven. Yes. That which I then meant to define are the sorts of things which, while not being contrary to something, nevertheless are not receptive to the contrary. Like now, three, while not being contrary to even, is not receptive to any part of the even, for its contrary always “brings along” the three — same with 105 two to odd, fire to cold and an enormous number of other things. However, see if you define matters in this way. Not only is a contrary not receptive to its contrary, but also that which brings along some contrary to that which it possesses will never be receptive to the contrary nature of that which is brought. Think back — it’s not bad to hear it often. Five is not receptive to the contrary nature of the even, nor ten — the double of five — to the odd. It, the double, is also the contrary of something else . . . regardless, it is not b receptive to the contrary nature of the odd. Neither one-and-a-half nor the rest of such things, the fraction, are receptive to the contrary nature of the whole, same with the third and all these sorts of things, if at any rate you follow and agree with me in this way. I quite definitely agree, Cebes said, and do follow. Repeat from the beginning for me, he continued, and don’t answer for me what I ask, but imitate me as follows: Contrary to the answer I spoke about

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at first — the safe answer — I see another kind of security in the things being talked about now. If you should ask me “By means of what kind of thing will there be heat arising inside the body?” I won’t give you that safe, simple c answer, “It is by means of hotness,” but from what we were talking about now, a more elegant one, “It is by means of fire.” Should you ask, “By means of what kind of thing, arising inside it, will a body become sick?” I won’t say “It is by means of sickness,” but, “It is by means of a feverish heat.” For “By means of what kind of thing, arising inside it, will a number become odd?” I won’t say “It is by means of oddness,” but “It is by means of a unit.” Same with the rest. See if you truly, adequately understand what I want. Quite adequately, Cebes said. Now answer me, Socrates began, by means of what, arising inside it, will a body be living? It’s by means of a soul, he said. d So this is always the case? How could it not be? Cebes replied. What this soul possesses, it will always come bearing life to it? Of course it will. Is there something contrary to life or not? Socrates then asked. There is, Cebes responded. What? Death. So then a soul will never, ever, be receptive to the contrary of anything it brings along, as we agreed from what we said earlier? And most exceedingly, Cebes said. Now what? The thing which isn’t receptive to the idea of the even, what do we now name it? The uneven, he said. And what about that which isn’t receptive to the just, and that which isn’t receptive to the cultured? e The uncultured, and the unjust, Cebes said. Well! What isn’t receptive to death, what do we call it? The immortal, he said. So then the soul is not receptive to death? No. A soul is therefore immortal? Immortal. So! Socrates said. Shall we affirm that this has been proven? And most adequately, Socrates.

212 Now what, Cebes? he said. If it was a necessity that the uneven were 106 indestructible, would three be anything other than indestructible? How could there be? So then if it was a necessity that the “unhot” also were indestructible, whenever someone applies heat to ice, will the ice shrink away, safe and unmelted? It wouldn’t have been destroyed at all, and it wouldn’t have been receptive to the heat, while holding its ground. You’re right, Cebes replied. So similarly, I think, if the “uncold” were indestructible, whenever something cold goes up against fire, it would never be extinguished or destroyed, but departing it, would escape safely. b Necessarily. So then, Socrates said, is it also necessary to speak in this way concerning the immortal? If the immortal is also indestructible, it is impossible for the soul to be destroyed whenever death goes up against it. From what was said previously, it will not be receptive to death, and nor will it die; just like three will not be even, and the same goes for the odd, and fire will not be cold, nor will the heat in the fire. “But,” someone might say, “what keeps something c odd — although, like we agreed, it doesn’t become even when the even goes up against it — from being destroyed and the even coming to be in its place?” To someone saying these things, we don’t have the power to insist that it is not destroyed. The uneven is not indestructible; whereas, if it had been agreed upon by us, we could have insisted that the odd and the three depart when the even comes up against them. Could we have insisted the same concerning fire and heat and the rest, or not? Indeed, we could have. So now, concerning the immortal, if we agree that it is indestructible, a d soul, in addition to being immortal, is also indestructible. If we don’t, another argument is required. But nothing else is required for the sake of this argument, Cebes replied. If the immortal, being everlasting, will be receptive to perishing, then almost everything would be receptive to perishing. I think for the god at least, Socrates said, and the form of life itself, and if there is anything else immortal, it would be agreed by everyone that these never are destroyed. On the part of all human beings at any rate, by Zeus, and even more so, I e think, on the part of the gods, Cebes said. When the immortal is also imperishable, a soul will be as well, if it happens to be immortal, and is indestructible? Very necessarily.

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It looks as though when death goes up against human beings, their mortal side dies, but their immortal and imperishable side departs safe, escaping death. It appears so. Then more than anything Cebes, Socrates said, a soul is immortal and indestructible, and in fact our souls will exist in Hades. Socrates, Cebes concluded, I at least do not have the means to say anything else contrary to these things, nor to doubt your arguments in any respect. But if Simmias here or anyone else has the means to say something, they better not remain silent! I don’t know of any time more opportune than the present for one who wants to say or hear something about such matters to join in. Surely, Simmias said, I myself do not have the means; yet in some respect I have doubts about the things that were said. Because of the magnitude of the subject with which these arguments were concerned, and with my disdain for human fallibility, I am obliged with myself to still have doubt. Simmias, not only do you say these things well, Socrates said, but also our initial suppositions must be more clearly inspected, even if they are convincing to us. If you take matters bit by bit, I think, you will follow the argument as far as it is humanly possible to follow, and if the argument is clear, you will seek nothing further. You are right, Simmias replied. Now, friends, it is right to suppose this. That, if the soul is immortal, it truly needs care not only across this time which we call “life,” but also across all time, and the danger now seems to be quite dire if one neglects it. If death were a release from everything, it would be a god-send for those dying who are evil to be released simultaneously from their bodies and from their evil together with their soul. However, now that it appears to be immortal, there will be no other escape from evils, nor deliverance, except by becoming as best and as wise as possible. The soul comes to Hades having nothing else except its upbringing and education,56 things which are said to be the greatest benefit or detriment for the deceased, who is at once at the start of the passage there. It is said that upon death, as in life, the protective spirit allotted to each person attempts to lead them to a kind of place, where it is required for those who have been assembled, having submitted themselves to trial, to journey to Hades with their guide, who has been assigned to ferry them there. Befalling there what must be their fate, and remaining for the time that is 56

The phrase “upbringing and education” translates the socially important Greek concept of paideia. There is arguably no single English word that can translate this term. This upbringing and education is a crucial part of Aristotle’s ethical theory also.

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214 necessary, another guide escorts them back here during many long circuits of 108 time. The journey is not as the Telephos of Aeschylus57 says: he says that one simple path leads to Hades, but it appears to me to be neither simple nor one, for then one wouldn’t have need for guides, and one, I suppose, would not stray off to anywhere else with there being one path. Now it seems like the path has many forks and branches — I mean I am determining this by the signs and symbols from the sacred festivals and funeral rites of the people of this land. The decent and wise soul follows and is not ignorant of these circumstances, but the one desiring the body — the very thing I mentioned b beforehand — being passionately distracted by that for a long time and by the visible world, trying to counteract much and suffering much, is led off by its allotted spirit by force and with pain. Upon arriving at the very place where the others are, being impure and having done some such thing like engaging in unjust bloodshed or performing other such acts done by souls of this kind, all the other souls flee and shy away from it and do not wish to become its c companion or guide. It wanders in utter despondency until some ages have passed, and once they have passed, this soul is born by necessity to its proper dwelling place. The soul which has passed through life purely and fairly falls in with divine guides and companions, and each inhabits a place befitting to it. There are many wonderful places of this earth, and the earth is nothing like it is imagined to be in size and quality by those who usually speak about it, as d I have been persuaded by someone.58 Socrates! Simmias then said, what do you mean by this? I too have heard many things about the earth, but not those things that persuade you. I will gladly listen . . . But Simmias, it doesn’t seem to me that the skill of Glaucus59 is needed 57 Aeschylus (c. 525-455) is a highly important Athenian tragedian. This play of his does not survive. 58 The phrase “. . . I have been persuaded by someone . . . ” is very important in that Plato is indicating, in a kind of code, that what follows has its origin and significance from someone other than himself. It is very likely that Sicily and southern Italy are the source not only of the myth itself, but also of the volcanic geography that inspires it. In fact, Plato refers to Sicily explicitly below. Southern Italy was also the geographic center of Pythagoreanism. Plato made at least two trips to Sicily and southern Italy in his lifetime, and had many friends there, the most important of whom were Dion of Syracuse (Sicily), and Archytas of Tarentum (southern Italy). One possible source of this myth is the Orphic poem Krater, which was likely written by Zopyrus, a Pythagorean predecessor of Archytas’ in Tarentum. 59 Glaucus of Rhegium (another Greek colony in southern Italy), was the first Greek thinker to systematically examine lyric poetry in his work On the Ancient Poets and Musicians (c. 410); the origin of the myth that follows likely comes from the Pythagorean poetry of southern Italy; Plato is attempting through Socrates an analysis of this poetry, like Glaucus did of lyric. However, there are other “Glaucuses” that Plato could be referring to here.

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to set out in detail what they are. However, to do so truly, it appears to me to be more difficult than what Glaucus’ skill can handle. While I perhaps might not be able, even if I did know, Simmias, my life seems to me to be insufficient for the length of the argument. In spite of this, nothing prevents me from discussing the idea of the earth, of whose nature I have been persuaded, and its places. But these things suffice, Simmias replied. To begin, Socrates said, if the earth is in the middle of the sky, which is spherical, I have been persuaded that it lacks nothing, neither air nor any other such necessity, to keep it from falling; and the similarity of the sky itself to itself in every respect, and of the earth itself, is sufficient to hold it in balance. For a thing in the world that is in balance with something similar in the middle will not have the power to incline more or less in any direction, and being similar will keep it from falling to either side. Well, this is the first thing of which I have been persuaded. And rightly so, Simmias said. Next, that the earth is something enormous, and we live in some small section of it, dwelling around the Mediterranean from Phasis to the Pillars of Heracles,60 like ants or frogs around a pond, and that many others live elsewhere in many kinds of places. Everywhere around the earth there are many hollows of every kind of shape and size, into which water and mist and gas crash together. This earth, pure, lies outstretched in the pure sky, throughout which exist the stars — many of those who are accustomed to speaking about such matters call this the “ether” — and these things exist as sediment from it and always flow together into the hollows of the earth. It escapes our notice that we inhabit these hollows, and we imagine that we dwell above on the surface of the earth, just as if someone dwelling in the middle of the ocean floor thought they lived on the surface of the sea, and seeing the sun and the other stars through the water considered the sea to be the sky, on account of lethargy and lack of strength never had seen nor made it to the surface, to burst out and toss their head up out of the water to this place here, which happens to be so much more pure and beautiful than their home, nor had they heard of it from another who had seen it. We too have suffered this same misfortune. Inhabiting some hollow of the earth, we imagine we live up above it, and call the sky “air,” like the stars were passing through this existing sky. And this is the same: it is from lethargy and lack of strength that we are incapable of 60

Phasis (now Rioni), is a river and land area on the far eastern edge of the Black sea (now Georgia). In ancient Greece it was considered a border between Europe and Asia. ThePillars of Heracles are the Straits of Gibraltar.

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216 passing through and out of the uppermost layer of air, since, if someone were to come upon or make it to these heights by taking on wings, tossing their head up to look about, as with fish seeing the things we have here by tossing their heads out of the water, so too one would behold the things that exist there. And if their nature were enough to endure such a spectacle, they would 110 understand that is truly the sky and the true light and truly the earth. This earth and these rocks and all the places here have been ruined and eaten up, like those in the Mediterranean are by the salt, and nothing worthy of mention grows in the sea, and nothing is “complete,” so to speak. There are caves and sand and extraordinary amounts of muck and mud where there is also earth; compared to the splendors of our home, it is not worthy of choice in any way whatsoever. Similarly, those things will exhibit a difference far surpassing the b things of our home . . . Simmias, if one is to tell a myth, one which is beautiful, it is worthwhile to hear what sorts of things happen to exist upon this earth beneath the sky. But surely, Socrates, we will gladly listen to this myth, Simmias replied. First, my friend, it is said that this earth is so magnificent it looks — if one could observe it from above — like a ball stitched together with twelve pieces of leather, painted, distinct with colors, of which the colors here are c like samples, and of which painters make full use. There, the entire earth is composed of such things, and of even brighter, purer colors than these samples, composed of an aquamarine of incredible beauty, gold, an intense white whiter than snow or chalk, and other colors like that in nature, and of a greater diversity and beauty than so many of those we have seen. The very hollows of d this earth, being abundant in water and air, exhibit a form of color, sparkling among a tapestry of different colors, such that its form radiates as a continuous spectrum. In this realm, plants grow with resplendence too, trees and flowers and fruits, and likewise mountains and stones, sharing the same majesty, are lustrous, crystalline and have colors even more beautiful, of which our gems e here — carnelians, emeralds, jaspers, and all the rest — are fragments. There is nothing there that is not more beautiful than these. The cause of this is that those stones are pure and have not been eaten up and ruined by rot and salt like those here, by the things that come swirling together, things which produce diseases and deformities to rocks and earth, to plants and other living 111 things. This earth is bedecked with them all, and also gold, silver and other such things. They all are naturally displayed, being many and great in number all over the earth such that it looks to be a show for a divine audience. There are animals of all sorts upon it — and humans too — some dwelling inland, some around the air like we do around the sea, some among the islands that flow around the air near the mainland. In a word, the very thing that water,

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and the sea is to us for our use, the air is to them; what the air is to us, the ether is to them. Their seasons are so moderate that they are free of disease and live for a period of time that is much longer than we do here. In vision, hearing, intelligence and all such things they are as different from us in terms of purity as air is from water, and ether is from air. What’s more, their groves and sanctuaries to the gods are where the gods in fact live. Oracles, prophecies, visions, and communion such as this come to them from the gods directly. The sun, moon and stars are seen by them as they happen to be, and other facets of their well-being are in conformity with this. The entire earth, and the things surrounding it, are like this by nature, and in it there are many places down throughout its hollows which run around the whole of it in a circle — some are deeper and tighter than the one we inhabit; in some they have chasms deeper but lesser than our place, others are shorter in depth, yet broader than those here. All of these are wound together in all sorts of ways into each other beneath the earth, and have both narrower and broader branching outlets, through which much water flows out of and into each other as into mixing bowls. Inconceivable numbers of ever-flowing rivers of hot and frigid waters exist beneath the earth, and much fire and great rivers of flame, many of damp mud, both purer and more brackish, just as in Sicily there are rivers of mud flowing before the lava and the lava itself. Each place is filled full of this stuff on each occasion, and their circuit happens to come about, and all move upwards and downwards like a kind of oscillation taking place in the earth. This oscillation exists because one of the earth’s chasms, that otherwise happens to be the greatest, bores right through the whole earth, the exact one Homer spoke of when he said: “Very far below, where exists a pit deepest beneath the earth . . . ”61 — which he and many other poets have elsewhere called “Tartarus.”62 Into this chasm flow together all the rivers, and out of this flow they again. Each becomes of a certain nature due to the nature of the earth through which they flow. All the streams outflow and influx there, because this fluid does not have a bottom or base. It oscillates and heaves upwards and downwards, and the air and wind around it do the same, for they also follow alongside it whenever it explodes into these, against those parts of the earth. Just as those drawing breath, the flowing wind is always inhaled and exhaled, so too there the wind, oscillating together with the fluid, produces some terrifying, extraordinary gales going in and out. Whenever the water retreats into the so-called “underground,” its streams flow through the earth 61

Iliad VIII, l. 16. The pit is a reference to Tartarus. Tartarus is beneath Hades, and was Zeus’ prison. Philolaus and the Pythagoreans identified Tartarus as the center of the universe, the “central fire.” 62

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218 downwards and fill those parts up as if someone were pumping it. Likewise, whenever it leaves those parts behind it rushes out here, it fills the parts here up again; those that are filled up flow through its channels, and through the earth, and each arrive into the places carved out for them, making seas and marshes, rivers and springs. From there, making their way down through the d earth, some streams going around multiple, more distant regions, others fewer and nearer, they fall back into Tartarus, some much deeper than from where they had been pumped, others less. All flow down beneath their egress points, some falling out opposite from where they are flowing in, some falling down the same part. There are some streams that, flowing around entirely in a circle, being wound about once or multiple times around the earth like serpents and e descending downwards as far as possible, fall again. They possibly descend each way as far as the middle, but not beyond, for the area from each side is steep for the streams on both sides. There are in fact many other great streams of all sorts. Among this multitude there happens to be four kinds of streams, of which the greatest and outermost, flowing in a circle, is the one called “the Ocean.” Another, flowing directly 113 opposite, is “Acheron,” which flows through different desolate places, and furthermore, flowing beneath the earth, arrives at the marshy Acherian lake, where the souls of many who have died arrive and remain for their fated time, some longer, some shorter, before being dispatched back for rebirth as animals. A third river lurches down the middle, and near its egress point it falls out into a great region of enormous burning fire, and makes a basin bigger than our sea, boiling with water and mud. From there it makes its way in a circle that b is turbid and sludgy, winding itself around one way or another through the earth, and it arrives at the edge of the Acherian lake, but does not mix with its waters. Then, being wound around many times beneath the earth, it falls even deeper into Tartarus . . . this place is named “Pyriphlegethon,” whose streams erupt heaps of molten lava where they meet the surface of the earth. The fourth river falls out directly opposite from this into a place that is initially c terrifying and savage, as it is said, being entirely of a color like viper-skin. This place is rightly named “Stygion,” and the swamp that the river makes by lurching into it, “Styx.” Flowing into here and acquiring terrible powers in its water, plunging down through the earth, it makes its way by winding itself around opposite the Pyriphlegethon, and moves from there to meet along Acherian lake from the opposite side. Its waters mix with nothing, but coming around in a circle it falls into Tartarus opposite the Pyriphlegethon: its name, d as the poets state, is “Cocytus.”63 63

These river names come from Circe’s description of Hades in the Odyssey X, 553–595.

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With these things being thus by nature, whenever those who have died arrive to the place where the protective spirit64 receives each of them. First, those who lived well and piously, as well as those who did not, submit themselves to trial. Those determined to have lived a mediocre life journey to Acheron, board their ferry, arrive upon it to the lake, and there they dwell, being purified. If they have done something wrong, they fulfil their sentence, receiving punishment for their wrongdoings, and they earn rewards for their good deeds, according to the worth of each. Those determined to be incurable, owing to the magnitude of their faults — either enormous and numerous sacrileges, or having committed wrongful killing or multiple crimes, or whatever else it happens to be — their fate hurls them into Tartarus, from which they never escape. Those determined to have perpetrated great but curable crimes, like performing some sort of violence against their father or mother in a fit of anger, and living the rest of their lives in regret, or committing manslaughter in some other such manner, are hurled by Necessity into Tartarus. But after being hurled in and passing a long period of time there, waves throw them up. Those who committed manslaughter go downwards to the Cocytus; those who committed violence against their parents, go downwards into the Pyriphlegethon. After being born along, whenever they make it down to the Acherian lake, there they yell and call out to those whom they have killed, to those whom they have assaulted. By calling out they beseech and beg them to be allowed to step out into the lake to be received. If they persuade them, they step out and they bring their evils to an end; if they do not, they are born back to Tartarus and from there back again to the rivers, and they continually suffer these things until they persuade those they have wronged. This is the sentence that has been ordained by their judges. Those, in contrast, determined to have lived with reverence, are the ones that are freed from these places in the earth and are released as from prison, arriving upwards to the pure abode and dwelling atop the earth. Some of those who have sufficiently purified themselves by means of philosophy altogether live thereafter without a body, and come to abodes still more beautiful than these — abodes which are not easy to describe, nor is there adequate time right now. However, Simmias, for the sake of these things we have gone over, There, the Pyriphlegethon is the river of fire, the Kokytus is the river of tears, Acheron is the river of grief, and Styx is the river of hate. 64 “Protective spirit” translates the Greek daim¯ on, whence we get the English word “demon.” In Greek though they can either be good or bad, and they played various roles. Socrates famously had a daim¯ on that would communicate with him, functioning as a kind of intuition or conscience (cf. Euthyphro 3b, Apology 24c, 31d). Posidonius, the first century Greek Stoic from Rhodes, made daimones a part of his ethical theory.

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220 one has to do everything so that one partakes in the life of virtue, excellence and understanding. The prize is wonderful and the hope is great! It is not befitting for one paying attention to affirm with confidence that these things are as I have gone over them . . . However, that these things, or something like them, are true, concerning our soul and its abodes — since, at any rate, the soul appears at least to be immortal — it seems to me to be fitting and to be worth the risk of thinking of it thus. For the risk is a fine one, and on account of this one much chant it to oneself, and on this account I too am telling the story at length. For the sake of these things, one has to have the courage e to be someone that in life lets go of various pleasures and accoutrements of the body as if they were alien, and be concerned with developing the other side of himself, and is earnest about his education, adorning his soul not with 115 something alien but with its own native accoutrements of self-control, justice, courage, freedom and truth — so one awaits the journey to Hades as one ready to be ferried over whenever fate calls. So Simmias, Cebes, and everyone else, Socrates said, each of you in turn will be ferried over in some future time, but Fate, as a character in a tragedy would say, indeed calls me now, and it’s just about time for me to have my bath. It definitely seems better to drink the potion after taking a bath, and not to leave the women the job of washing a b corpse.65 After he said these things, Crito replied, Well, Socrates, what do you will me — or them — to do about your children66 or about anything else? What could we do to make you most happy? The very things I’m always talking about Crito, nothing new. By taking care of yourselves you will make me and mine, and your own selves too, happy in whatever you do, even if you won’t agree with this now. If you neglect yourselves and do not want to live according to the tracks laid out now and in c the time before, even if you exceedingly and entirely agree with me right now, you will do nothing more. We will eagerly do these things, Crito replied. But, how shall we bury you? In whatever way you want, Socrates said, if you catch me and I don’t escape you! Laughing softly, Socrates looked at us and said, Gentlemen, I am not persuading Crito that I am this Socrates who is talking with you just now and making arrangements with each of the things I am saying. He thinks d I am that thing he’ll see a little later — a corpse — and is asking how he should bury me! Because I have made yet again a full argument that, whenever d

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It was the role of the women of the deceased’s family to wash the corpse. This custom existed in various cultures throughout the ancient world. 66 Socrates’ children here are, from oldest to youngest, are Lamprocles, Sophroniscus, and Menexus.

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I drink the potion, I will no longer be in your custody, but will be on my way to the blessings of the dead, I seem to have been saying these things to myself but something else to him, exhorting you at one moment, and myself the next! Please make a pledge to Crito for me, Socrates said, the pledge contrary to the one he made to the jurors. He pledged that I would surely remain in his custody; you, please pledge that I will surely not remain in his custody whenever I die, but that he will let me be on my way, in order that he will take things easily and won’t get angry at me while he is seeing my body being burned or interred, like I am undergoing something terrible, and so he doesn’t say during my funeral that he is laying out or carrying out or cremating “Socrates.” You know well, my noble Crito, that to speak without beauty, not only is this hard on the ears to those listening, but also does a kind of harm to the soul. You have to take courage and affirm you are having a funeral for my body, and have it in whatever way is pleasing to you, and that you consider appropriate. After saying these things he got up and went to another room to bathe himself. Crito followed him, but urged us to remain behind. So we stayed behind, conversing with each other about the things that were said, reconsidering them. Then we again thoroughly recounted the misfortune that had befallen us, feeling just like orphans who were being deprived of their father for the rest of their lives. After he bathed, his children were brought to him — two sons of his were little, one was older — and the women of his family arrived. Conversing with them in the presence of Crito, and giving to them a final testament of the things he wanted, he urged the women and children to leave, and came to us. It was already approaching sunset. He had spent a lot of time inside. After having bathed, he came and took a seat and talked with us not for very long, for the Assistant to the Eleven arrived and stood beside him. Socrates, he said, I don’t think of you as a low-life as I do the rest, for they make life difficult for me and swear at me when I give the order to them to drink the potion by the command of the Superiors. During your stay I too have come to know you as being different, the most genuine, gentle, the best man who’s ever spent any time here, and now I know well that you aren’t going to make my life difficult, but theirs — you know who’s to blame. Now you know what I’ve come to do, so farewell, and try to take what has to happen as easily as you can. As the Assistant started to leave, he turned around and wept. Socrates looked over at him and said, Good-bye to you too. We’ll do it. He then looked at us and said, How kind that gentleman is! Throughout my time here he’d come over and talk with me from time to time, and was a most agreeable man, and now he genuinely weeps for me. So Crito, come! Let’s obey him, and let

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222 someone bring in the potion, if it’s been prepared. If not, let the man grind up the ingredients. Crito replied, But Socrates, I think the sun is still over the hills and hasn’t yet set. I know too that others drink it quite late after the order has been given to them, wining and dining well into the evening, and some even make love to those they yearn for. So don’t rush into this, there’s still time! Naturally, Socrates said, they do the things you’re talking about — they think it’s to their advantage by doing them — and naturally I, at least, will 117 not do them! I think there’s no advantage by drinking it a little later except for making myself, in my own view, a laughingstock, clinging to life and sparing nothing to still be here. So come, he said, obey and don’t do otherwise. Hearing this, Crito nodded to the slave standing nearby. The slave left, and after some time had passed he returned bringing the person who was going to give the potion, which he had prepared in a cup. When Socrates saw the man, he said, Well, my good friend, you know how these things go. What do I have to do? Nothing, he replied, other than walking around after you drink it, until a b heaviness develops in your legs. Then, lie down. The poison will work on its own. As he was saying this, he held out the cup to Socrates. And he took it quite gently, Echecrates, without fear, neither going pale nor losing his composure. Instead, as it was like him to do, he looked up at the man through his eyebrows like a bull and said, What do you say about pouring out a bit of this drink as an offering?67 Is that allowed, or not? c Socrates, he said, we grind up only as much as we think is enough to drink. I see, Socrates said, but surely it’s allowed — and necessary — to pray in some fashion to the gods that the transition from here to there happens successfully. Truly, I pray for this and may it come to pass. While he was saying these things, he put the cup to his lips and drank down the potion quite readily and calmly. Many of us were able to keep ourselves from crying for some time, but when we saw him drinking, and then having drunk the potion, we couldn’t hold it back any longer, and the tears overpowered me and came d pouring out. I covered my face and wailed for myself — not for him, but for my fate, that I would be deprived of such a companion. Crito, still in front of me, got up after he couldn’t hold back the tears. Apollodorus, even beforehand, stopped none of his tears, and at that moment, his roaring aloud in grief and anger broke us all down — except for Socrates himself! e

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Libation offerings are religious or ritual acts of pouring a consumable liquid (like wine, milk, honey, oil or water) onto the ground or into the sea, symbolizing both a sacrifice and an act of surrender to, or helplessness before, the gods. They were often done before the commencement of a journey.

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What are you doing, my strange fellows? he said. It was in no small part because of this that I sent the women away, so that they wouldn’t make such e a fuss. I have heard that one ought to die “in hallowed silence,” so be quiet and get a hold of yourselves! When we heard him, we were ashamed and held back from crying. He walked around. After he said his legs felt heavy, he laid himself down on his back — just as the man said to do — and at that moment the one who gave the potion touched him, examined his feet and legs after a period of time, and then, squeezing his foot hard, asked if he felt anything. Socrates said no. After 118 this he did the same to his calves, and went over his feet and legs again to show us that they were cold and stiff. He himself sensed this, and said that when the heaviness reached his heart, he will have passed on. Then, just about the moment the area below his chest was getting cold, Socrates uncovered his head — for he had enshrouded himself — and spoke — what were truly his last words: “Crito,” he said, “we owe a cock to Asclepius, so render what is due and don’t be negligent.”68 I’ll do this, Crito responded, but see if there is something else you need . . . When he asked this, there was no response, and after a brief period of time he shuddered. The man uncovered him, and his eyes remained motionless. When Crito saw this, he closed Socrates’ mouth and eyes. This, Echecrates, was the end of our companion, a man who, as we would affirm, from among those we have known from that time, was the best, the most wise and just.

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The demigod Asclepius, according to legend, was the son of Apollo and a mortal woman (either Iskhys or Arsinoe). His specialty was healing.

Index Clitophon, 13 Kupria, 85 Republic, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 78 Theaetetus, 67

Corybants, 147 Council, 114 Critias, 92 Crito, 127, 128 Critoboulos, 116 currency, see minae

Adeimantus, 116 Aeacus, 124 Agamemnon, 125 agora, see marketplace Ajax, 124 Alcibiades, 10 Amphipolis, Battle of, 111 Anaxagoras, 108 Anytus, 23, 54, 67, 92, 98 Apollodorus, 157 archons, 73 Arginusae, Battle of, 114 Aristides, 58 Ariston, 116 Aristophanes, 6, 11, 99

daimon, 74, 105, 114 Deadalus, 84 definition, proper form of, 32, 79 Delium, Battle of, 111 Delphi, 101 deme, 92 Demodocus, 116 diagonal, 47, 48 divine sign, see daimon doubling the square, 43–48 education, 16 Eleven, the, 120 Empedocles, 35 Epigenes, 116 Euthyphro, 68, 69, 71 Evenus, 101 exegete, 76 experts, 129

Callias, 100 care for the soul, 16 Cebes, 136 Chaerephon, 102 charges, 74, 91, 93, 94, 98, 105 Chios, 100 Chronos, 78 color, 36 contract theory, 130

Forms, Theory of, 4, 70 friendship, 17 gadfly, Socrates as, 113 225

226 Gorgias, 29, 60, 100 Great King, the, 39, 123 Great Panathanaea, the, 78 Hades, 146 happiness, 129 health, 31 Hector, 110 Hera, 106 Heracles, 75 Hercules, see Heracles Hesiod, 124 Hippias, 100 holiness, 77, 79, 82, 85, 86, 88 horse, city as, 113 hypothesis, method of, 50 idea, 79 impiety, 77 incontinence, impossibility of, 37–38 interpreting the dialogues, 6 irony, 96 Ismenias, 54 knowledge, 18, 26, 62–65, 104, 138 Labors of Heracles, 103 Larissa, 29, 62 Laws, Speech of the, 142–146 Leon of Salamis, 115 Lyceum, 73 Lycon, 67, 92 Lysanius, 116 Lysias, 15 marketplace, 97 Meletus, 67, 73, 91, 99, 106–110 Meno, 23 Meno’s Paradox, 25 minae, 94, 101 Minos, 124

money, see minae multitude, the, 134, 135 Musaeus, 124 mysteries, 36 Naxos, 67, 69 nymphs, 110 obedience and persuasion, 144 Odysseus, 125 Oracle, 94, 101, 102 Orpheus, 124 Palamedes, 124 Paros, 100 Peloponnesian War, 9, 21, 67, 92 Pericles, 59 perplexity, 40, 47 Phaedo, 150, 151 Phidias, 56 Pindar, 36, 41, 42 Potideia, Battle of, 111 Prodicus, 35, 100 prophecy, 95, 122 Proteus, 90 Protreptic, 14 Prytaneus, 119 quadrature, see squaring the circle Recollection, Theory of, 4, 25, 42–50 Rhadamanthys, 124 Sacred Ships, 127 shame, 86 shape, 34, 35 Simmias, 136 Sisyphus, 125 slavery, 42 Socrates, 5, 92 Socrates, accusers of, 91

Phaedo sophists, 21, 23–25, 55, 91, 93, 100 Sounion, 134 squaring the circle, 50 stingray, 40 Tantalus, 85 Thebes, 136 Themistocles, 57 Theognis, 60–61 Thetis, 110 Thirty, the, 22, 24, 92, 115 Thrasymachus, 9–13, 15 Thucydides, 59 Tiresias, 66 torpedo fish, see stringray Triptolemus, 124 true belief, 62–65 Uranus, 78 virtue, 23–26, 30, 32, 38, 39, 51, 53, 57 Xenophon, 5, 6, 23, 24, 95

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Colophon This book was typeset using the LATEX typesetting system created by Leslie Lamport, and the Memoir Class created by Peter Wilson. The body text is set 10/12 pt with Computer Modern Roman designed by Donald Knuth. Other fonts include Sans and Italic, from Knuth’s Computer Modern family.