Notice: This is the official website of the All Empires History Community (Reg. 10 Feb 2002)

  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Register Register  Login Login

Ancient Greek/Roman Literature & Sources

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  <1 567
TheAlaniDragonRising View Drop Down
AE Moderator
AE Moderator
Spam Fighter

Joined: 09-May-2011
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6074
  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Ancient Greek/Roman Literature & Sources
    Posted: 06-Feb-2013 at 06:20

Aristotle: On the Heavens

Book I


THE science which has to do with nature clearly concerns itself for the most part with bodies and magnitudes and their properties and movements, but also with the principles of this sort of substance, as many as they may be. For of things constituted by nature some are bodies and magnitudes, some possess body and magnitude, and some are principles of things which possess these. Now a continuum is that which is divisible into parts always capable of subdivision, and a body is that which is every way divisible. A magnitude if divisible one way is a line, if two ways a surface, and if three a body. Beyond these there is no other magnitude, because the three dimensions are all that there are, and that which is divisible in three directions is divisible in all. For, as the Pythagoreans say, the world and all that is in it is determined by the number three, since beginning and middle and end give the number of an ‘all’, and the number they give is the triad. And so, having taken these three from nature as (so to speak) laws of it, we make further use of the number three in the worship of the Gods. Further, we use the terms in practice in this way. Of two things, or men, we say ‘both’, but not ‘all’: three is the first number to which the term ‘all’ has been appropriated. And in this, as we have said, we do but follow the lead which nature gives. Therefore, since ‘every’ and ‘all’ and ‘complete’ do not differ from one another in respect of form, but only, if at all, in their matter and in that to which they are applied, body alone among magnitudes can be complete. For it alone is determined by the three dimensions, that is, is an ‘all’. But if it is divisible in three dimensions it is every way divisible, while the other magnitudes are divisible in one dimension or in two alone: for the divisibility and continuity of magnitudes depend upon the number of the dimensions, one sort being continuous in one direction, another in two, another in all. All magnitudes, then, which are divisible are also continuous. Whether we can also say that whatever is continuous is divisible does not yet, on our present grounds, appear. One thing, however, is clear. We cannot pass beyond body to a further kind, as we passed from length to surface, and from surface to body. For if we could, it would cease to be true that body is complete magnitude. We could pass beyond it only in virtue of a defect in it; and that which is complete cannot be defective, since it has being in every respect. Now bodies which are classed as parts of the whole are each complete according to our formula, since each possesses every dimension. But each is determined relatively to that part which is next to it by contact, for which reason each of them is in a sense many bodies. But the whole of which they are parts must necessarily be complete, and thus, in accordance with the meaning of the word, have being, not in some respect only, but in every respect.

Title Page

Book I

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Book II

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14

Book III

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8

Book IV

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

What a handsome figure of a dragon. No wonder I fall madly in love with the Alani Dragon now, the avatar, it's a gorgeous dragon picture.
Back to Top
TheAlaniDragonRising View Drop Down
AE Moderator
AE Moderator
Spam Fighter

Joined: 09-May-2011
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6074
  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Feb-2013 at 01:15


I. 'Imitation' the common principle of the Arts of Poetry.

I propose to treat of Poetry in itself and of its various kinds, noting the essential quality of each; to inquire into the structure of the plot as requisite to a good poem; into the number and nature of the parts of which a poem is composed; and similarly into whatever else falls within the same inquiry. Following, then, the order of nature, let us begin with the principles which come first.

Epic poetry and Tragedy, Comedy also and Dithyrambic: poetry, and the music of the flute and of the lyre in most of their forms, are all in their general conception modes of imitation. They differ, however, from one: another in three respects,--the medium, the objects, the manner or mode of imitation, being in each case distinct.

For as there are persons who, by conscious art or mere habit, imitate and represent various objects through the medium of colour and form, or again by the voice; so in the arts above mentioned, taken as a whole, the imitation is produced by rhythm, language, or 'harmony,' either singly or combined.

Thus in the music of the flute and of the lyre, 'harmony' and rhythm alone are employed; also in other arts, such as that of the shepherd's pipe, which are essentially similar to these. In dancing, rhythm alone is used without 'harmony'; for even dancing imitates character, emotion, and action, by rhythmical movement.

There is another art which imitates by means of language alone, and that either in prose or verse--which, verse, again, may either combine different metres or consist of but one kind--but this has hitherto been without a name. For there is no common term we could apply to the mimes of Sophron and Xenarchus and the Socratic dialogues on the one hand; and, on the other, to poetic imitations in iambic, elegiac, or any similar metre. People do, indeed, add the word 'maker' or 'poet' to the name of the metre, and speak of elegiac poets, or epic (that is, hexameter) poets, as if it were not the imitation that makes the poet, but the verse that entitles them all indiscriminately to the name. Even when a treatise on medicine or natural science is brought out in verse, the name of poet is by custom given to the author; and yet Homer and Empedocles have nothing in common but the metre, so that it would be right to call the one poet, the other physicist rather than poet. On the same principle, even if a writer in his poetic imitation were to combine all metres, as Chaeremon did in his Centaur, which is a medley composed of metres of all kinds, we should bring him too under the general term poet. So much then for these distinctions.

There are, again, some arts which employ all the means above mentioned, namely, rhythm, tune, and metre. Such are Dithyrambic and Nomic poetry, and also Tragedy and Comedy; but between them the difference is, that in the first two cases these means are all employed in combination, in the latter, now one means is employed, now another.

Such, then, are the differences of the arts with respect to the medium of imitation.............

Title Page
Analysis of Contents
I. 'Imitation' the common principle of the Arts of Poetry
II. The Objects of Imitation
III. The Manner of Imitation
IV. The Origin and Development of Poetry
V. Definition of the Ludicrous, and a brief sketch of the rise of Comedy
VI. Definition of Tragedy
VII. The Plot must be a Whole
VIII. The Plot must be a Unity
IX. (Plot continued.) Dramatic Unity
X. (Plot continued.) Definitions of Simple and Complex Plots
XI. (Plot continued.) Reversal of the Situation, Recognition, and Tragic or disastrous Incident defined and explained
XII. The 'quantitative parts' of Tragedy defined.
XIII. (Plot continued.) What constitutes Tragic Action
XIV. (Plot continued.) The tragic emotions of pity and fear should spring out of the Plot itself
XV. The element of Character in Tragedy
XVI. (Plot continued.) Recognition: its various kinds, with examples
XVII. Practical rules for the Tragic Poet
XVIII. Further rules for the Tragic Poet
XIX. Thought, or the Intellectual element, and Diction in Tragedy
XX. Diction, or Language in general
XXI. Poetic Diction.
XXII. (Poetic Diction continued.) How Poetry combines elevation of language with perspicuity
XXIII. Epic Poetry
XXIV. (Epic Poetry continued.) Further points of agreement with Tragedy.
XXV. Critical Objections brought against Poetry, and the principles on which they are to be answered
XXVI. A general estimate of the comparative worth of Epic Poetry and Tragedy.

What a handsome figure of a dragon. No wonder I fall madly in love with the Alani Dragon now, the avatar, it's a gorgeous dragon picture.
Back to Top
TheAlaniDragonRising View Drop Down
AE Moderator
AE Moderator
Spam Fighter

Joined: 09-May-2011
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6074
  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2013 at 00:32


by Plato 360 B.C.


The argument of the Republic is the search after Justice, the nature of which is first hinted at by Cephalus, the just and blameless old man-- then discussed on the basis of proverbial morality by Socrates and Polemarchus--then caricatured by Thrasymachus and partially explained by Socrates--reduced to an abstraction by Glaucon and Adeimantus, and having become invisible in the individual reappears at length in the ideal State which is constructed by Socrates. The first care of the rulers is to be education, of which an outline is drawn after the old Hellenic model, providing only for an improved religion and morality, and more simplicity in music and gymnastic, a manlier strain of poetry, and greater harmony of the individual and the State. We are thus led on to the conception of a higher State, in which "no man calls anything his own," and in which there is neither "marrying nor giving in marriage," and "kings are philosophers" and "philosophers are kings;" and there is another and higher education, intellectual as well as moral and religious, of science as well as of art, and not of youth only but of the whole of life. Such a State is hardly to be realized in this world and would quickly degenerate. To the perfect ideal succeeds the government of the soldier and the lover of honor, this again declining into democracy, and democracy into tyranny, in an imaginary but regular order having not much resemblance to the actual facts. When "the wheel has come full circle" we do not begin again with a new period of human life; but we have passed from the best to the worst, and there we end. The subject is then changed and the old quarrel of poetry and philosophy which had been more lightly treated in the earlier books of the Republic is now resumed and fought out to a conclusion. Poetry is discovered to be an imitation thrice removed from the truth, and Homer, as well as the dramatic poets, having been condemned as an imitator, is sent into banishment along with them. And the idea of the State is supplemented by the revelation of a future life.

The division into books, like all similar divisions, is probably later than the age of Plato. The natural divisions are five in number;--( 1) Book I and the first half of Book II down to the paragraph beginning, "I had always admired the genius of Glaucon and Adeimantus," which is introductory; the first book containing a refutation of the popular and sophistical notions of justice, and concluding, like some of the earlier Dialogues, without arriving at any definite result. To this is appended a restatement of the nature of justice according to common opinion, and an answer is demanded to the question--What is justice, stripped of appearances? The second division (2) includes the remainder of the second and the whole of the third and fourth books, which are mainly occupied with the construction of the first State and the first education. The third division (3) consists of the fifth, sixth, and seventh books, in which philosophy rather than justice is the subject of inquiry, and the second State is constructed on principles of communism and ruled by philosophers, and the contemplation of the idea of good takes the place of the social and political virtues. In the eighth and ninth books (4) the perversions of States and of the individuals who correspond to them are reviewed in succession; and the nature of pleasure and the principle of tyranny are further analyzed in the individual man. The tenth book (5) is the conclusion of the whole, in which the relations of philosophy to poetry are finally determined, and the happiness of the citizens in this life, which has now been assured, is crowned by the vision of another.

Or a more general division into two parts may be adopted; the first (Books I - IV) containing the description of a State framed generally in accordance with Hellenic notions of religion and morality, while in the second (Books V - X) the Hellenic State is transformed into an ideal kingdom of philosophy, of which all other governments are the perversions. These two points of view are really opposed, and the opposition is only veiled by the genius of Plato. The Republic, like the Phaedrus, is an imperfect whole; the higher light of philosophy breaks through the regularity of the Hellenic temple, which at last fades away into the heavens. Whether this imperfection of structure arises from an enlargement of the plan; or from the imperfect reconcilement in the writer's own mind of the struggling elements of thought which are now first brought together by him; or, perhaps, from the composition of the work at different times-- are questions, like the similar question about the Iliad and the Odyssey, which are worth asking, but which cannot have a distinct answer. In the age of Plato there was no regular mode of publication, and an author would have the less scruple in altering or adding to a work which was known only to a few of his friends. There is no absurdity in supposing that he may have laid his labors aside for a time, or turned from one work to another; and such interruptions would be more likely to occur in the case of a long than of a short writing. In all attempts to determine the chronological he order of the Platonic writings on internal evidence, this uncertainty about any single Dialogue being composed at one time is a disturbing element, which must be admitted to affect longer works, such as the Republic and the Laws, more than shorter ones. But, on the other hand, the seeming discrepancies of the Republic may only arise out of the discordant elements which the philosopher has attempted to unite in a single whole, perhaps without being himself able to recognize the inconsistency which is obvious to us. For there is a judgment of after ages which few great writers have ever been able to anticipate for themselves. They do not perceive the want of connection in their own writings, or the gaps in their systems which are visible enough to those who come after them. In the beginnings of literature and philosophy, amid the first efforts of thought and language, more inconsistencies occur than now, when the paths of speculation are well worn and the meaning of words precisely defined. For consistency, too, is the growth of time; and some of the greatest creations of the human mind have been wanting in unity. Tried by this test, several of the Platonic Dialogues, according to our modern ideas, appear to be defective, but the deficiency is no proof that they were composed at different times or by different hands. And the supposition that the Republic was written uninterruptedly and by a continuous effort is in some degree confirmed by the numerous references from one part of the work to another.

The second title, "Concerning Justice," is not the one by which the Republic is quoted, either by Aristotle or generally in antiquity, and, like the other second titles of the Platonic Dialogues, may therefore be assumed to be of later date. Morgenstern and others have asked whether the definition of justice, which is the professed aim, or the construction of the State is the principal argument of the work. The answer is, that the two blend in one, and are two faces of the same truth; for justice is the order of the State, and the State is the visible embodiment of justice under the conditions of human society. The one is the soul and the other is the body, and the Greek ideal of the State, as of the individual, is a fair mind in a fair body. In Hegelian phraseology the State is the reality of which justice is the ideal. Or, described in Christian language, the kingdom of God is within, and yet develops into a Church or external kingdom; "the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," is reduced to the proportions of an earthly building. Or, to use a Platonic image, justice and the State are the warp and the woof which run through the whole texture. And when the constitution of the State is completed, the conception of justice is not dismissed, but reappears under the same or different names throughout the work, both as the inner law of the individual soul, and finally as the principle of rewards and punishments in another life. The virtues are based on justice, of which common honesty in buying and selling is the shadow, and justice is based on the idea of good, which is the harmony of the world, and is reflected both in the institutions of States and in motions of the heavenly bodies. The Timaeus, which takes up the political rather than the ethical side of the Republic, and is chiefly occupied with hypotheses concerning the outward world, yet contains many indications that the same law is supposed to reign over the State, over nature, and over man.

Too much, however, has been made of this question both in ancient and in modern times. There is a stage of criticism in which all works, whether of nature or of art, are referred to design. Now in ancient writings, and indeed in literature generally, there remains often a large element which was not comprehended in the original design. For the plan grows under the author's hand; new thoughts occur to him in the act of writing; he has not worked out the argument to the end before he begins. The reader who seeks to find some one idea under which the whole may be conceived, must necessarily seize on the vaguest and most general. Thus Stallbaum, who is dissatisfied with the ordinary explanations of the argument of the Republic, imagines himself to have found the true argument "in the representation of human life in a State perfected by justice and governed according to the idea of good." There may be some use in such general descriptions, but they can hardly be said to express the design of the writer. The truth is, that we may as well speak of many designs as of one; nor need anything be excluded from the plan of a great work to which the mind is naturally led by the association of ideas, and which does not interfere with the general purpose. What kind or degree of unity is to be sought after in a building, in the plastic arts, in poetry, in prose, is a problem which has to be determined relatively to the subject-matter. To Plato himself, the inquiry "what was the intention of the writer," or "what was the principal argument of the Republic" would have been hardly intelligible, and therefore had better be at once dismissed.

Is not the Republic the vehicle of three or four great truths which, to Plato's own mind, are most naturally represented in the form of the State? Just as in the Jewish prophets the reign of Messiah, or "the day of the Lord," or the suffering Servant or people of God, or the "Sun of righteousness with healing in his wings" only convey, to us at least, their great spiritual ideals, so through the Greek State Plato reveals to us his own thoughts about divine perfection, which is the idea of good--like the sun in the visible world;--about human perfection, which is justice-- about education beginning in youth and continuing in later years-- about poets and sophists and tyrants who are the false teachers and evil rulers of mankind--about "the world" which is the embodiment of them--about a kingdom which exists nowhere upon earth but is laid up in heaven to be the pattern and rule of human life. No such inspired creation is at unity with itself, any more than the clouds of heaven when the sun pierces through them. Every shade of light and dark, of truth, and of fiction which is the veil of truth, is allowable in a work of philosophical imagination. It is not all on the same plane; it easily passes from ideas to myths and fancies, from facts to figures of speech. It is not prose but poetry, at least a great part of it, and ought not to be judged by the rules of logic or the probabilities of history. The writer is not fashioning his ideas into an artistic whole; they take possession of him and are too much for him. We have no need therefore to discuss whether a State such as Plato has conceived is practicable or not, or whether the outward form or the inward life came first into the mind of the writer. For the practicability of his ideas has nothing to do with their truth; and the highest thoughts to which he attains may be truly said to bear the greatest "marks of design"--justice more than the external frame-work of the State, the idea of good more than justice. The great science of dialectic or the organization of ideas has no real content; but is only a type of the method or spirit in which the higher knowledge is to be pursued by the spectator of all time and all existence. It is in the fifth, sixth, and seventh books that Plato reaches the "summit of speculation," and these, although they fail to satisfy the requirements of a modern thinker, may therefore be regarded as the most important, as they are also the most original, portions of the work.

It is not necessary to discuss at length a minor question which has been raised by Boeckh, respecting the imaginary date at which the conversation was held (the year 411 B. C. which is proposed by him will do as well as any other); for a writer of fiction, and especially a writer who, like Plato, is notoriously careless of chronology, only aims at general probability. Whether all the persons mentioned in the Republic could ever have met at any one time is not a difficulty which would have occurred to an Athenian reading the work forty years later, or to Plato himself at the time of writing (any more than to Shakespeare respecting one of his own dramas); and need not greatly trouble us now. Yet this may be a question having no answer "which is still worth asking," because the investigation shows that we can not argue historically from the dates in Plato; it would be useless therefore to waste time in inventing far-fetched reconcilements of them in order avoid chronological difficulties, such, for example, as the conjecture of C. F. Hermann, that Glaucon and Adeimantus are not the brothers but the uncles of Plato, or the fancy of Stallbaum that Plato intentionally left anachronisms indicating the dates at which some of his Dialogues were written..........






















What a handsome figure of a dragon. No wonder I fall madly in love with the Alani Dragon now, the avatar, it's a gorgeous dragon picture.
Back to Top
TheAlaniDragonRising View Drop Down
AE Moderator
AE Moderator
Spam Fighter

Joined: 09-May-2011
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6074
  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2013 at 23:26


by Plato

PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: APOLLODORUS, who repeats to his companion
the dialogue which he had heard from Aristodemus, and had already once
House of Agathon.

  Concerning the things about which you ask to be informed I believe
that I am not ill-prepared with an answer. For the day before
yesterday I was coming from my own home at Phalerum to the city, and
one of my acquaintance, who had caught a sight of me from behind,
hind, out playfully in the distance, said: Apollodorus, O thou
Phalerian man, halt! So I did as I was bid; and then he said, I was
looking for you, Apollodorus, only just now, that I might ask you
about the speeches in praise of love, which were delivered by
Socrates, Alcibiades, and others, at Agathon's supper. Phoenix, the
son of Philip, told another person who told me of them; his
narrative was very indistinct, but he said that you knew, and I wish
that you would give me an account of them. Who, if not you, should
be the reporter of the words of your friend? And first tell me, he
said, were you present at this meeting?

  Your informant, Glaucon, I said, must have been very indistinct
indeed, if you imagine that the occasion was recent; or that I could
have been of the party.

  Why, yes, he replied, I thought so.

  Impossible: I said. Are you ignorant that for many years Agathon has
not resided at Athens; and not three have elapsed since I became
acquainted with Socrates, and have made it my daily business to know
all that he says and does. There was a time when I was running about
the world, fancying myself to be well employed, but I was really a
most wretched thing, no better than you are now. I thought that I
ought to do anything rather than be a philosopher.

  Well, he said, jesting apart, tell me when the meeting occurred.

  In our boyhood, I replied, when Agathon won the prize with his first
tragedy, on the day after that on which he and his chorus offered
the sacrifice of victory.

  Then it must have been a long while ago, he said; and who told
you-did Socrates?

  No indeed, I replied, but the same person who told Phoenix;-he was a
little fellow, who never wore any shoes Aristodemus, of the deme of
Cydathenaeum. He had been at Agathon's feast; and I think that in
those days there was no one who was a more devoted admirer of
Socrates. Moreover, I have asked Socrates about the truth of some
parts of his narrative, and he confirmed them. Then, said Glaucon, let
us have the tale over again; is not the road to Athens just made for
conversation? And so we walked, and talked of the discourses on
love; and therefore, as I said at first, I am not ill-prepared to
comply with your request, and will have another rehearsal of them if
you like. For to speak or to hear others speak of philosophy always
gives me the greatest pleasure, to say nothing of the profit. But when
I hear another strain, especially that of you rich men and traders,
such conversation displeases me; and I pity you who are my companions,
because you think that you are doing something when in reality you are
doing nothing. And I dare say that you pity me in return, whom you
regard as an unhappy creature, and very probably you are right. But
I certainly know of you what you only think of me-there is the

  Companion. I see, Apollodorus, that you are just the same-always
speaking evil of yourself, and of others; and I do believe that you
pity all mankind, with the exception of Socrates, yourself first of
all, true in this to your old name, which, however deserved I know how
you acquired, of Apollodorus the madman; for you are always raging
against yourself and everybody but Socrates.

  Apollodorus. Yes, friend, and the reason why I am said to be mad,
and out of my wits, is just because I have these notions of myself and
you; no other evidence is required.

  Com. No more of that, Apollodorus; but let me renew my request
that you would repeat the conversation.

  Apoll. Well, the tale of love was on this wise:-But perhaps I had
better begin at the beginning, and endeavour to give you the exact
words of Aristodemus:

  He said that he met Socrates fresh from the bath and sandalled;
and as the sight of the sandals was unusual, he asked him whither he
was going that he had been converted into such a beau:-

  To a banquet at Agathon's, he replied, whose invitation to his
sacrifice of victory I refused yesterday, fearing a crowd, but
promising that I would come to-day instead; and so I have put on my
finery, because he is such a fine man. What say you to going with me

  I will do as you bid me, I replied.

  Follow then, he said, and let us demolish the proverb:

    To the feasts of inferior men the good unbidden go;

instead of which our proverb will run:-

    To the feasts of the good the good unbidden go;

and this alteration may be supported by the authority of Homer
himself, who not only demolishes but literally outrages the proverb.
For, after picturing Agamemnon as the most valiant of men, he makes
Menelaus, who is but a fainthearted warrior, come unbidden to the
banquet of Agamemnon, who is feasting and offering sacrifices, not the
better to the worse, but the worse to the better.

  I rather fear, Socrates, said Aristodemus, lest this may still be my
case; and that, like Menelaus in Homer, I shall be the inferior
person, who

    To the leasts of the wise unbidden goes.

But I shall say that I was bidden of you, and then you will have to
make an excuse.

    Two going together,

he replied, in Homeric fashion, one or other of them may invent an
excuse by the way.

  This was the style of their conversation as they went along.
Socrates dropped behind in a fit of abstraction, and desired
Aristodemus, who was waiting, to go on before him. When he reached the
house of Agathon he found the doors wide open, and a comical thing
happened. A servant coming out met him, and led him at once into the
banqueting-hall in which the guests were reclining, for the banquet
was about to begin. Welcome, Aristodemus, said Agathon, as soon as
he appeared-you are just in time to sup with us; if you come on any
other matter put it off, and make one of us, as I was looking for
you yesterday and meant to have asked you, if I could have found
you. But what have you done with Socrates?

  I turned round, but Socrates was nowhere to be seen; and I had to
explain that he had been with me a moment before, and that I came by
his invitation to the supper.

  You were quite right in coming, said Agathon; but where is he

  He was behind me just now, as I entered, he said, and I cannot think
what has become of him.

  Go and look for him, boy, said Agathon, and bring him in; and do
you, Aristodemus, meanwhile take the place by Eryximachus.

  The servant then assisted him to wash, and he lay down, and
presently another servant came in and reported that our friend
Socrates had retired into the portico of the neighbouring house.
"There he is fixed," said he, "and when I call to him he will not

  How strange, said Agathon; then you must call him again, and keep
calling him.

  Let him alone, said my informant; he has a way of stopping
anywhere and losing himself without any reason. I believe that he will
soon appear; do not therefore disturb him.

  Well, if you think so, I will leave him, said Agathon. And then,
turning to the servants, he added, "Let us have supper without waiting
for him. Serve up whatever you please, for there; is no one to give
you orders; hitherto I have never left you to yourselves. But on
this occasion imagine that you art our hosts, and that I and the
company are your guests; treat us well, and then we shall commend
you." After this, supper was served, but still no-Socrates; and during
the meal Agathon several times expressed a wish to send for him, but
Aristodemus objected; and at last when the feast was about half
over-for the fit, as usual, was not of long duration-Socrates entered;
Agathon, who was reclining alone at the end of the table, begged
that he would take the place next to him; that "I may touch you," he
said, "and have the benefit of that wise thought which came into
your mind in the portico, and is now in your possession; for I am
certain that you would not have come away until you had found what you

  How I wish, said Socrates, taking his place as he was desired,
that wisdom could be infused by touch, out of the fuller the emptier
man, as water runs through wool out of a fuller cup into an emptier
one; if that were so, how greatly should I value the privilege of
reclining at your side! For you would have filled me full with a
stream of wisdom plenteous and fair; whereas my own is of a very
mean and questionable sort, no better than a dream. But yours is
bright and full of promise, and was manifested forth in all the
splendour of youth the day before yesterday, in the presence of more
than thirty thousand Hellenes.

  You are mocking, Socrates, said Agathon, and ere long you and I will
have to determine who bears off the palm of wisdom-of this Dionysus
shall be the judge; but at present you are better occupied with

  Socrates took his place on the couch, and supped with the rest;
and then libations were offered, and after a hymn had been sung to the
god, and there had been the usual ceremonies, they were about to
commence drinking, when Pausanias said, And now, my friends, how can
we drink with least injury to ourselves? I can assure you that I
feel severely the effect of yesterday's potations, and must have
time to recover; and I suspect that most of you are in the same
predicament, for you were of the party yesterday. Consider then: How
can the drinking be made easiest?

  I entirely agree, said Aristophanes, that we should, by all means,
avoid hard drinking, for I was myself one of those who were
yesterday drowned in drink.

  I think that you are right, said Eryximachus, the son of Acumenus;
but I should still like to hear one other person speak: Is Agathon
able to drink hard?

  I am not equal to it, said Agathon.

  Then, the Eryximachus, the weak heads like myself, Aristodemus,
Phaedrus, and others who never can drink, are fortunate in finding
that the stronger ones are not in a drinking mood. (I do not include
Socrates, who is able either to drink or to abstain, and will not
mind, whichever we do.) Well, as of none of the company seem
disposed to drink much, I may be forgiven for saying, as a
physician, that drinking deep is a bad practice, which I never follow,
if I can help, and certainly do not recommend to another, least of all
to any one who still feels the effects of yesterday's carouse.

  I always do what you advise, and especially what you prescribe as
a physician, rejoined Phaedrus the Myrrhinusian, and the rest of the
company, if they are wise, will do the same.

  It was agreed that drinking was not to be the order of the day,
but that they were all to drink only so much as they pleased.

  Then, said Eryximachus, as you are all agreed that drinking is to be
voluntary, and that there is to be no compulsion, I move, in the
next place, that the flute-girl, who has just made her appearance,
be told to go away and play to herself, or, if she likes, to the women
who are within. To-day let us have conversation instead; and, if you
will allow me, I will tell you what sort of conversation. This
proposal having been accepted, Eryximachus proceeded as follows:-

  I will begin, he said, after the manner of Melanippe in Euripides,

                  Not mine the word

which I am about to speak, but that of Phaedrus. For often he says
to me in an indignant tone: "What a strange thing it is,
Eryximachus, that, whereas other gods have poems and hymns made in
their honour, the great and glorious god, Love, has no encomiast among
all the poets who are so many. There are the worthy sophists too-the
excellent Prodicus for example, who have descanted in prose on the
virtues of Heracles and other heroes; and, what is still more
extraordinary, I have met with a philosophical work in which the
utility of salt has been made the theme of an eloquent discourse;
and many other like things have had a like honour bestowed upon
them. And only to think that there should have been an eager
interest created about them, and yet that to this day no one has
ever dared worthily to hymn Love's praises! So entirely has this great
deity been neglected." Now in this Phaedrus seems to me to be quite
right, and therefore I want to offer him a contribution; also I
think that at the present moment we who are here assembled cannot do
better than honour the. god Love. If you agree with me, there will
be no lack of conversation; for I mean to propose that each of us in
turn, going from left to right, shall make a speech in honour of Love.
Let him give us the best which he can; and Phaedrus, because he is
sitting first on the left hand, and because he is the father of the
thought, shall begin.

  No one will vote against you, Eryximachus, said Socrates. How can
I oppose your motion, who profess to understand nothing but matters of
love; nor, I presume, will Agathon and Pausanias; and there can be
no doubt of Aristophanes, whose whole concern is with Dionysus and
Aphrodite; nor will any one disagree of those whom I, see around me.
The proposal, as I am aware, may seem rather hard upon us whose
place is last; but we shall be contented if we hear some good speeches
first. Let Phaedrus begin the praise of Love, and good luck to him.
All the company expressed their assent, and desired him to do as
Socrates bade him.

  Aristodemus did not recollect all that was said, nor do I
recollect all that he related to me; but I will tell you what I
thought most worthy of remembrance, and what the chief speakers said.

  Phaedrus began by affirming that love is a mighty god, and wonderful
among gods and men, but especially wonderful in his birth. For he is
the eldest of the gods, which is an honour to him; and a proof of
his claim to this honour is, that of his parents there is no memorial;
neither poet nor prose-writer has ever affirmed that he had any. As
Hesiod says:

     First Chaos came, and then broad-bosomed Earth,

     The everlasting seat of all that is,

     And Love.

In other words, after Chaos, the Earth and Love, these two, came
into being. Also Parmenides sings of Generation:

     First in the train of gods, he fashioned Love.

And Acusilaus agrees with Hesiod. Thus numerous are the witnesses
who acknowledge Love to be the eldest of the gods. And not only is
he the eldest, he is also the source of the greatest benefits to us.
For I know not any greater blessing to a young man who is beginning
life than a virtuous lover or to the lover than a beloved youth. For
the principle which ought to be the guide of men who would nobly
live at principle, I say, neither kindred, nor honour, nor wealth, nor
any other motive is able to implant so well as love. Of what am I
speaking? Of the sense of honour and dishonour, without which
neither states nor individuals ever do any good or great work. And I
say that a lover who is detected in doing any dishonourable act, or
submitting through cowardice when any dishonour is done to him by
another, will be more pained at being detected by his beloved than
at being seen by his father, or by his companions, or by any one else.
The beloved too, when he is found in any disgraceful situation, has
the same feeling about his lover. And if there were only some way of
contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and
their loves, they would be the very best governors of their own
city, abstaining from all dishonour, and emulating one another in
honour; and when fighting at each other's side, although a mere
handful, they would overcome the world. For what lover would not
choose rather to be seen by all mankind than by his beloved, either
when abandoning his post or throwing away his arms? He would be
ready to die a thousand deaths rather than endure this. Or who would
desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger? The veriest
coward would become an inspired hero, equal to the bravest, at such
a time; Love would inspire him. That courage which, as Homer says, the
god breathes into the souls of some heroes, Love of his own nature
infuses into the lover.

  Love will make men dare to die for their beloved-love alone; and
women as well as men. Of this, Alcestis, the daughter of Pelias, is
a monument to all Hellas; for she was willing to lay down her life
on behalf of her husband, when no one else would, although he had a
father and mother; but the tenderness of her love so far exceeded
theirs, that she made them seem to be strangers in blood to their
own son, and in name only related to him; and so noble did this action
of hers appear to the gods, as well as to men, that among the many who
have done virtuously she is one of the very few to whom, in admiration
of her noble action, they have granted the privilege of returning
alive to earth; such exceeding honour is paid by the gods to the
devotion and virtue of love. But Orpheus, the son of Oeagrus, the
harper, they sent empty away, and presented to him an apparition
only of her whom he sought, but herself they would not give up,
because he showed no spirit; he was only a harp-player, and did
not-dare like Alcestis to die for love, but was contriving how he
might enter hades alive; moreover, they afterwards caused him to
suffer death at the hands of women, as the punishment of his
cowardliness. Very different was the reward of the true love of
Achilles towards his lover Patroclus-his lover and not his love (the
notion that Patroclus was the beloved one is a foolish error into
which Aeschylus has fallen, for Achilles was surely the fairer of
the two, fairer also than all the other heroes; and, as Homer
informs us, he was still beardless, and younger far). And greatly as
the gods honour the virtue of love, still the return of love on the
part of the beloved to the lover is more admired and valued and
rewarded by them, for the lover is more divine; because he is inspired
by God. Now Achilles was quite aware, for he had been told by his
mother, that he might avoid death and return home, and live to a
good old age, if he abstained from slaying Hector. Nevertheless he
gave his life to revenge his friend, and dared to die, not only in his
defence, but after he was dead Wherefore the gods honoured him even
above Alcestis, and sent him to the Islands of the Blest. These are my
reasons for affirming that Love is the eldest and noblest and
mightiest of the gods; and the chiefest author and giver of virtue
in life, and of happiness after death.

  This, or something like this, was the speech of Phaedrus; and some
other speeches followed which Aristodemus did not remember; the next
which he repeated was that of Pausanias. Phaedrus, he said, the
argument has not been set before us, I think, quite in the right
form;-we should not be called upon to praise Love in such an
indiscriminate manner. If there were only one Love, then what you said
would be well enough; but since there are more Loves than
one,-should have begun by determining which of them was to be the
theme of our praises. I will amend this defect; and first of all I
would tell you which Love is deserving of praise, and then try to hymn
the praiseworthy one in a manner worthy of him. For we all know that
Love is inseparable from Aphrodite, and if there were only one
Aphrodite there would be only one Love; but as there are two goddesses
there must be two Loves.

  And am I not right in asserting that there are two goddesses? The
elder one, having no mother, who is called the heavenly
Aphrodite-she is the daughter of Uranus; the younger, who is the
daughter of Zeus and Dione-her we call common; and the Love who is her
fellow-worker is rightly named common, as the other love is called
heavenly. All the gods ought to have praise given to them, but not
without distinction of their natures; and therefore I must try to
distinguish the characters of the two Loves. Now actions vary
according to the manner of their performance. Take, for example,
that which we are now doing, drinking, singing and talking these
actions are not in themselves either good or evil, but they turn out
in this or that way according to the mode of performing them; and when
well done they are good, and when wrongly done they are evil; and in
like manner not every love, but only that which has a noble purpose,
is noble and worthy of praise. The Love who is the offspring of the
common Aphrodite is essentially common, and has no discrimination,
being such as the meaner sort of men feel, and is apt to be of women
as well as of youths, and is of the body rather than of the soul-the
most foolish beings are the objects of this love which desires only to
gain an end, but never thinks of accomplishing the end nobly, and
therefore does good and evil quite indiscriminately. The goddess who
is his mother is far younger than the other, and she was born of the
union of the male and female, and partakes of both.

  But the offspring of the heavenly Aphrodite is derived from a mother
in whose birth the female has no part,-she is from the male only; this
is that love which is of youths, and the goddess being older, there is
nothing of wantonness in her. Those who are inspired by this love turn
to the male, and delight in him who is the more valiant and
intelligent nature; any one may recognise the pure enthusiasts in
the very character of their attachments. For they love not boys, but
intelligent, beings whose reason is beginning to be developed, much
about the time at which their beards begin to grow. And in choosing
young men to be their companions, they mean to be faithful to them,
and pass their whole life in company with them, not to take them in
their inexperience, and deceive them, and play the fool with them,
or run away from one to another of them. But the love of young boys
should be forbidden by law, because their future is uncertain; they
may turn out good or bad, either in body or soul, and much noble
enthusiasm may be thrown away upon them; in this matter the good are a
law to themselves, and the coarser sort of lovers ought to be
restrained by force; as we restrain or attempt to restrain them from
fixing their affections on women of free birth. These are the
persons who bring a reproach on love; and some have been led to deny
the lawfulness of such attachments because they see the impropriety
and evil of them; for surely nothing that is decorously and lawfully
done can justly be censured.

  Now here and in Lacedaemon the rules about love are perplexing,
but in most cities they are simple and easily intelligible; in Elis
and Boeotia, and in countries having no gifts of eloquence, they are
very straightforward; the law is simply in favour of these connexions,
and no one, whether young or old, has anything to say to their
discredit; the reason being, as I suppose, that they are men of few
words in those parts, and therefore the lovers do not like the trouble
of pleading their suit. In Ionia and other places, and generally in
countries which are subject to the barbarians, the custom is held to
be dishonourable; loves of youths share the evil repute in which
philosophy and gymnastics are held because they are inimical to
tyranny; for the interests of rulers require that their subjects
should be poor in spirit and that there should be no strong bond of
friendship or society among them, which love, above all other motives,
is likely to inspire, as our Athenian tyrants-learned by experience;
for the love of Aristogeiton and the constancy of Harmodius had
strength which undid their power. And, therefore, the ill-repute
into which these attachments have fallen is to be ascribed to the evil
condition of those who make them to be ill-reputed; that is to say, to
the self-seeking of the governors and the cowardice of the governed;
on the other hand, the indiscriminate honour which is given to them in
some countries is attributable to the laziness of those who hold
this opinion of them. In our own country a far better principle
prevails, but, as I was saying, the explanation of it is rather
perplexing. For, observe that open loves are held to be more
honourable than secret ones, and that the love of the noblest and
highest, even if their persons are less beautiful than others, is
especially honourable.

  Consider, too, how great is the encouragement which all the world
gives to the lover; neither is he supposed to be doing anything
dishonourable; but if he succeeds he is praised, and if he fail he
is blamed. And in the pursuit of his love the custom of mankind allows
him to do many strange things, which philosophy would bitterly censure
if they were done from any motive of interest, or wish for office or
power. He may pray, and entreat, and supplicate, and swear, and lie on
a mat at the door, and endure a slavery worse than that of any
slave-in any other case friends and enemies would be equally ready
to prevent him, but now there is no friend who will be ashamed of
him and admonish him, and no enemy will charge him with meanness or
flattery; the actions of a lover have a grace which ennobles them; and
custom has decided that they are highly commendable and that there
no loss of character in them; and, what is strangest of all, he only
may swear and forswear himself (so men say), and the gods will forgive
his transgression, for there is no such thing as a lover's oath.
Such is the entire liberty which gods and men have allowed the
lover, according to the custom which prevails in our part of the
world. From this point of view a man fairly argues in Athens to love
and to be loved is held to be a very honourable thing. But when
parents forbid their sons to talk with their lovers, and place them
under a tutor's care, who is appointed to see to these things, and
their companions and equals cast in their teeth anything of the sort
which they may observe, and their elders refuse to silence the
reprovers and do not rebuke them-any one who reflects on all this
will, on the contrary, think that we hold these practices to be most
disgraceful. But, as I was saying at first, the truth as I imagine is,
that whether such practices are honourable or whether they are
dishonourable is not a simple question; they are honourable to him who
follows them honourably, dishonourable to him who follows them
dishonourably. There is dishonour in yielding to the evil, or in an
evil manner; but there is honour in yielding to the good, or in an
honourable manner.

  Evil is the vulgar lover who loves the body rather than the soul,
inasmuch as he is not even stable, because he loves a thing which is
in itself unstable, and therefore when the bloom of youth which he was
desiring is over, he takes wing and flies away, in spite of all his
words and promises; whereas the love of the noble disposition is
life-long, for it becomes one with the everlasting. The custom of
our country would have both of them proven well and truly, and would
have us yield to the one sort of lover and avoid the other, and
therefore encourages some to pursue, and others to fly; testing both
the lover and beloved in contests and trials, until they show to which
of the two classes they respectively belong. And this is the reason
why, in the first place, a hasty attachment is held to be
dishonourable, because time is the true test of this as of most
other things; and secondly there is a dishonour in being overcome by
the love of money, or of wealth, or of political power, whether a
man is frightened into surrender by the loss of them, or, having
experienced the benefits of money and political corruption, is
unable to rise above the seductions of them. For none of these
things are of a permanent or lasting nature; not to mention that no
generous friendship ever sprang from them. There remains, then, only
one way of honourable attachment which custom allows in the beloved,
and this is the way of virtue; for as we admitted that any service
which the lover does to him is not to be accounted flattery or a
dishonour to himself, so the beloved has one way only of voluntary
service which is not dishonourable, and this is virtuous service.

  For we have a custom, and according to our custom any one who does
service to another under the idea that he will be improved by him
either in wisdom, or, in some other particular of virtue-such a
voluntary service, I say, is not to be regarded as a dishonour, and is
not open to the charge of flattery. And these two customs, one the
love of youth, and the other the practice of philosophy and virtue
in general, ought to meet in one, and then the beloved may
honourably indulge the lover. For when the lover and beloved come
together, having each of them a law, and the lover thinks that he is
right in doing any service which he can to his gracious loving one;
and the other that he is right in showing any kindness which he can to
him who is making him wise and good; the one capable of
communicating wisdom and virtue, the other seeking to acquire them
with a view to education and wisdom, when the two laws of love are
fulfilled and meet in one-then, and then only, may the beloved yield
with honour to the lover. Nor when love is of this disinterested
sort is there any disgrace in being deceived, but in every other
case there is equal disgrace in being or not being deceived. For he
who is gracious to his lover under the impression that he is rich, and
is disappointed of his gains because he turns out to be poor, is
disgraced all the same: for he has done his best to show that he would
give himself up to any one's "uses base" for the sake of money; but
this is not honourable. And on the same principle he who gives himself
to a lover because he is a good man, and in the hope that he will be
improved by his company, shows himself to be virtuous, even though the
object of his affection turn out to be a villain, and to have no
virtue; and if he is deceived he has committed a noble error. For he
has proved that for his part he will do anything for anybody with a
view to virtue and improvement, than which there can be nothing
nobler. Thus noble in every case is the acceptance of another for
the sake of virtue. This is that love which is the love of the
heavenly godess, and is heavenly, and of great price to individuals
and cities, making the lover and the beloved alike eager in the work
of their own improvement. But all other loves are the offspring of the
other, who is the common goddess. To you, Phaedrus, I offer this my
contribution in praise of love, which is as good as I could make

  Pausanias came to a pause-this is the balanced way in which I have
been taught by the wise to speak; and Aristodemus said that the turn
of Aristophanes was next, but either he had eaten too much, or from
some other cause he had the hiccough, and was obliged to change
turns with Eryximachus the physician, who was reclining on the couch
below him. Eryximachus, he said, you ought either to stop my hiccough,
or to speak in my turn until I have left off.

  I will do both, said Eryximachus: I will speak in your turn, and
do you speak in mine; and while I am speaking let me recommend you
to hold your breath, and if after you have done so for some time the
hiccough is no better, then gargle with a little water; and if it
still continues, tickle your nose with something and sneeze; and if
you sneeze once or twice, even the most violent hiccough is sure to
go. I will do as you prescribe, said Aristophanes, and now get on.

  Eryximachus spoke as follows: Seeing that Pausanias made a fair
beginning, and but a lame ending, I must endeavour to supply his
deficiency. I think that he has rightly distinguished two kinds of
love. But my art further informs me that the double love is not merely
an affection of the soul of man towards the fair, or towards anything,
but is to be found in the bodies of all animals and in productions
of the earth, and I may say in all that is; such is the conclusion
which I seem to have gathered from my own art of medicine, whence I
learn how great and wonderful and universal is the deity of love,
whose empire extends over all things, divine as well as human. And
from medicine I would begin that I may do honour to my art. There
are in the human body these two kinds of love, which are confessedly
different and unlike, and being unlike, they have loves and desires
which are unlike; and the desire of the healthy is one, and the desire
of the diseased is another; and as Pausanias was just now saying
that to indulge good men is honourable, and bad men
dishonourable:-so too in the body the good and healthy elements are to
be indulged, and the bad elements and the elements of disease are
not to be indulged, but discouraged. And this is what the physician
has to do, and in this the art of medicine consists: for medicine
may be regarded generally as the knowledge of the loves and desires of
the body, and how to satisfy them or not; and the best physician is he
who is able to separate fair love from foul, or to convert one into
the other; and he who knows how to eradicate and how to implant
love, whichever is required, and can reconcile the most hostile
elements in the constitution and make them loving friends, is
skilful practitioner. Now the: most hostile are the most opposite,
such as hot and cold, bitter and sweet, moist and dry, and the like.
And my ancestor, Asclepius, knowing how-to implant friendship and
accord in these elements, was the creator of our art, as our friends
the poets here tell us, and I believe them; and not only medicine in
every branch but the arts of gymnastic and husbandry are under his

  Any one who pays the least attention to the subject will also
perceive that in music there is the same reconciliation of
opposites; and I suppose that this must have been the meaning, of
Heracleitus, although, his words are not accurate, for he says that is
united by disunion, like the harmony-of bow and the lyre. Now there is
an absurdity saying that harmony is discord or is composed of elements
which are still in a state of discord. But what he probably meant was,
that, harmony is composed of differing notes of higher or lower
pitch which disagreed once, but are now reconciled by the art of
music; for if the higher and lower notes still disagreed, there
could be there could be no harmony-clearly not. For harmony is a
symphony, and symphony is an agreement; but an agreement of
disagreements while they disagree there cannot be; you cannot
harmonize that which disagrees. In like manner rhythm is compounded of
elements short and long, once differing and now-in accord; which
accordance, as in the former instance, medicine, so in all these other
cases, music implants, making love and unison to grow up among them;
and thus music, too, is concerned with the principles of love in their
application to harmony and rhythm. Again, in the essential nature of
harmony and rhythm there is no difficulty in discerning love which has
not yet become double. But when you want to use them in actual life,
either in the composition of songs or in the correct performance of
airs or metres composed already, which latter is called education,
then the difficulty begins, and the good artist is needed. Then the
old tale has to be repeated of fair and heavenly love -the love of
Urania the fair and heavenly muse, and of the duty of accepting the
temperate, and those who are as yet intemperate only that they may
become temperate, and of preserving their love; and again, of the
vulgar Polyhymnia, who must be used with circumspection that the
pleasure be enjoyed, but may not generate licentiousness; just as in
my own art it is a great matter so to regulate the desires of the
epicure that he may gratify his tastes without the attendant evil of
disease. Whence I infer that in music, in medicine, in all other
things human as which as divine, both loves ought to be noted as far
as may be, for they are both present.

  The course of the seasons is also full of both these principles; and
when, as I was saying, the elements of hot and cold, moist and dry,
attain the harmonious love of one another and blend in temperance
and harmony, they bring to men, animals, and plants health and plenty,
and do them no harm; whereas the wanton love, getting the upper hand
and affecting the seasons of the year, is very destructive and
injurious, being the source of pestilence, and bringing many other
kinds of diseases on animals and plants; for hoar-frost and hail and
blight spring from the excesses and disorders of these elements of
love, which to know in relation to the revolutions of the heavenly
bodies and the seasons of the year is termed astronomy. Furthermore
all sacrifices and the whole province of divination, which is the
art of communion between gods and men-these, I say, are concerned with
the preservation of the good and the cure of the evil love. For all
manner of impiety is likely to ensue if, instead of accepting and
honouring and reverencing the harmonious love in all his actions, a
man honours the other love, whether in his feelings towards gods or
parents, towards the living or the dead. Wherefore the business of
divination is to see to these loves and to heal them, and divination
is the peacemaker of gods and men, working by a knowledge of the
religious or irreligious tendencies which exist in human loves. Such
is the great and mighty, or rather omnipotent force of love in
general. And the love, more especially, which is concerned with the
good, and which is perfected in company with temperance and justice,
whether among gods or men, has the greatest power, and is the source
of all our happiness and harmony, and makes us friends with the gods
who are above us, and with one another. I dare say that I too have
omitted several things which might be said in praise of Love, but this
was not intentional, and you, Aristophanes, may now supply the
omission or take some other line of commendation; for I perceive
that you are rid of the hiccough.

  Yes, said Aristophanes, who followed, the hiccough is gone; not,
however, until I applied the sneezing; and I wonder whether the
harmony of the body has a love of such noises and ticklings, for I
no sooner applied the sneezing than I was cured.

  Eryximachus said: Beware, friend Aristophanes, although you are
going to speak, you are making fun of me; and I shall have to watch
and see whether I cannot have a laugh at your expense, when you
might speak in peace.

  You are right, said Aristophanes, laughing. I will unsay my words;
but do you please not to watch me, as I fear that in the speech
which I am about to make, instead of others laughing with me, which is
to the manner born of our muse and would be all the better, I shall
only be laughed at by them.

  Do you expect to shoot your bolt and escape, Aristophanes? Well,
perhaps if you are very careful and bear in mind that you will be
called to account, I may be induced to let you off.

  Aristophanes professed to open another vein of discourse; he had a
mind to praise Love in another way, unlike that either of Pausanias or
Eryximachus. Mankind; he said, judging by their neglect of him, have
never, as I think, at all understood the power of Love. For if they
had understood him they would surely have built noble temples and
altars, and offered solemn sacrifices in his honour; but this is not
done, and most certainly ought to be done: since of all the gods he is
the best friend of men, the helper and the healer of the ills which
are the great impediment to the happiness of the race. I will try to
describe his power to you, and you shall teach the rest of the world
what I am teaching you. In the first place, let me treat of the nature
of man and what has happened to it; for the original human nature
was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two as
they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman,
and the union of the two, having a name corresponding to this double
nature, which had once a real existence, but is now lost, and the word
"Androgynous" is only preserved as a term of reproach. In the second
place, the primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a
circle; and he had four hands and four feet, one head with two
faces, looking opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike;
also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond. He
could walk upright as men now do, backwards or forwards as he pleased,
and he could also roll over and over at a great pace, turning on his
four hands and four feet, eight in all, like tumblers going over and
over with their legs in the air; this was when he wanted to run
fast. Now the sexes were three, and such as I have described them;
because the sun, moon, and earth are three;-and the man was originally
the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the
moon, which is made up of sun and earth, and they were all round and
moved round and round: like their parents. Terrible was their might
and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they
made an attack upon the gods; of them is told the tale of Otys and
Ephialtes who, as Homer says, dared to scale heaven, and would have
laid hands upon the gods. Doubt reigned in the celestial councils.
Should they kill them and annihilate the race with thunderbolts, as
they had done the giants, then there would be an end of the sacrifices
and worship which men offered to them; but, on the other hand, the
gods could not suffer their insolence to be unrestrained.

  At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered a way.
He said: "Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and
improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut
them in two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased
in numbers; this will have the advantage of making them more
profitable to us. They shall walk upright on two legs, and if they
continue insolent and will not be quiet, I will split them again and
they shall hop about on a single leg." He spoke and cut men in two,
like a sorb-apple which is halved for pickling, or as you might divide
an egg with a hair; and as he cut them one after another, he bade
Apollo give the face and the half of the neck a turn in order that the
man might contemplate the section of himself: he would thus learn a
lesson of humility. Apollo was also bidden to heal their wounds and
compose their forms. So he gave a turn to the face and pulled the skin
from the sides all over that which in our language is called the
belly, like the purses which draw in, and he made one mouth at the
centre, which he fastened in a knot (the same which is called the
navel); he also moulded the breast and took out most of the
wrinkles, much as a shoemaker might smooth leather upon a last; he
left a few, however, in the region of the belly and navel, as a
memorial of the primeval state. After the division the two parts of
man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their
arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow
into one, they were on the point of dying from hunger and
self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart; and when
one of the halves died and the other survived, the survivor sought
another mate, man or woman as we call them, being the sections of
entire men or women, and clung to that. They were being destroyed,
when Zeus in pity of them invented a new plan: he turned the parts
of generation round to the front, for this had not been always their
position and they sowed the seed no longer as hitherto like
grasshoppers in the ground, but in one another; and after the
transposition the male generated in the female in order that by the
mutual embraces of man and woman they might breed, and the race
might continue; or if man came to man they might be satisfied, and
rest, and go their ways to the business of life: so ancient is the
desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original
nature, making one of two, and healing the state of man.

  Each of us when separated, having one side only, like a flat fish,
is but the indenture of a man, and he is always looking for his
other half. Men who are a section of that double nature which was once
called Androgynous are lovers of women; adulterers are generally of
this breed, and also adulterous women who lust after men: the women
who are a section of the woman do not care for men, but have female
attachments; the female companions are of this sort. But they who
are a section of the male follow the male, and while they are young,
being slices of the original man, they hang about men and embrace
them, and they are themselves the best of boys and youths, because
they have the most manly nature. Some indeed assert that they are
shameless, but this is not true; for they do not act thus from any
want of shame, but because they are valiant and manly, and have a
manly countenance, and they embrace that which is like them. And these
when they grow up become our statesmen, and these only, which is a
great proof of the truth of what I am saving. When they reach
manhood they are loves of youth, and are not naturally inclined to
marry or beget children,-if at all, they do so only in obedience to
the law; but they are satisfied if they may be allowed to live with
one another unwedded; and such a nature is prone to love and ready
to return love, always embracing that which is akin to him. And when
one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself,
whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair
are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and
would not be out of the other's sight, as I may say, even for a
moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together;
yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the
intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not
appear to be the desire of lover's intercourse, but of something
else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and
of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment. Suppose
Hephaestus, with his instruments, to come to the pair who are lying
side, by side and to say to them, "What do you people want of one
another?" they would be unable to explain. And suppose further, that
when he saw their perplexity he said: "Do you desire to be wholly one;
always day and night to be in one another's company? for if this is
what you desire, I am ready to melt you into one and let you grow
together, so that being two you shall become one, and while you live a
common life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the
world below still be one departed soul instead of two-I ask whether
this is what you lovingly desire, and whether you are satisfied to
attain this?"-there is not a man of them who when he heard the
proposal would deny or would not acknowledge that this meeting and
melting into one another, this becoming one instead of two, was the
very expression of his ancient need. And the reason is that human
nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and
pursuit of the whole is called love. There was a time, I say, when
we were one, but now because of the wickedness of mankind God has
dispersed us, as the Arcadians were dispersed into villages by the
Lacedaemonians. And if we are not obedient to the gods, there is a
danger that we shall be split up again and go about in
basso-relievo, like the profile figures having only half a nose
which are sculptured on monuments, and that we shall be like tallies.

  Wherefore let us exhort all men to piety, that we may avoid evil,
and obtain the good, of which Love is to us the lord and minister; and
let no one oppose him-he is the enemy of the gods who oppose him.
For if we are friends of the God and at peace with him we shall find
our own true loves, which rarely happens in this world at present. I
am serious, and therefore I must beg Eryximachus not to make fun or to
find any allusion in what I am saying to Pausanias and Agathon, who,
as I suspect, are both of the manly nature, and belong to the class
which I have been describing. But my words have a wider
application-they include men and women everywhere; and I believe
that if our loves were perfectly accomplished, and each one
returning to his primeval nature had his original true love, then
our race would be happy. And if this would be best of all, the best in
the next degree and under present circumstances must be the nearest
approach to such an union; and that will be the attainment of a
congenial love. Wherefore, if we would praise him who has given to
us the benefit, we must praise the god Love, who is our greatest
benefactor, both leading us in this life back to our own nature, and
giving us high hopes for the future, for he promises that if we are
pious, he will restore us to our original state, and heal us and
make us happy and blessed. This, Eryximachus, is my discourse of love,
which, although different to yours, I must beg you to leave unassailed
by the shafts of your ridicule, in order that each may have his
turn; each, or rather either, for Agathon and Socrates are the only
ones left.

  Indeed, I am not going to attack you, said Eryximachus, for I
thought your speech charming, and did I not know that Agathon and
Socrates are masters in the art of love, I should be really afraid
that they would have nothing to say, after the world of things which
have been said already. But, for all that, I am not without hopes.

  Socrates said: You played your part well, Eryximachus; but if you
were as I am now, or rather as I shall be when Agathon has spoken, you
would, indeed, be in a great strait.

  You want to cast a spell over me, Socrates, said Agathon, in the
hope that I may be disconcerted at the expectation raised among the
audience that I shall speak well.

  I should be strangely forgetful, Agathon replied Socrates, of the
courage and magnanimity which you showed when your own compositions
were about to be exhibited, and you came upon the stage with the
actors and faced the vast theatre altogether undismayed, if I
thought that your nerves could be fluttered at a small party of

  Do you think, Socrates, said Agathon, that my head is so full of the
theatre as not to know how much more formidable to a man of sense a
few good judges are than many fools?

  Nay, replied Socrates, I should be very wrong in attributing to you,
Agathon, that or any other want of refinement. And I am quite aware
that if you happened to meet with any whom you thought wise, you would
care for their opinion much more than for that of the many. But then
we, having been a part of the foolish many in the theatre, cannot be
regarded as the select wise; though I know that if you chanced to be
in the presence, not of one of ourselves, but of some really wise man,
you would be ashamed of disgracing yourself before him-would you not?

  Yes, said Agathon.

  But before the many you would not be ashamed, if you thought that
you were doing something disgraceful in their presence?

  Here Phaedrus interrupted them, saying: not answer him, my dear
Agathon; for if he can only get a partner with whom he can talk,
especially a good-looking one, he will no longer care about the
completion of our plan. Now I love to hear him talk; but just at
present I must not forget the encomium on Love which I ought to
receive from him and from every one. When you and he have paid your
tribute to the god, then you may talk.

  Very good, Phaedrus, said Agathon; I see no reason why I should
not proceed with my speech, as I shall have many other opportunities
of conversing with Socrates. Let me say first how I ought to speak,
and then speak:-

  The previous speakers, instead of praising the god Love, or
unfolding his nature, appear to have congratulated mankind on the
benefits which he confers upon them. But I would rather praise the god
first, and then speak of his gifts; this is always the right way of
praising everything. May I say without impiety or offence, that of all
the blessed gods he is the most blessed because he is the fairest
and best? And he is the fairest: for, in the first place, he is the
youngest, and of his youth he is himself the witness, fleeing out of
the way of age, who is swift enough, swifter truly than most of us
like:-Love hates him and will not come near him; but youth and love
live and move together-like to like, as the proverb says. Many
things were said by Phaedrus about Love in which I agree with him; but
I cannot agree that he is older than Iapetus and Kronos:-not so; I
maintain him to be the youngest of the gods, and youthful ever. The
ancient doings among the gods of which Hesiod and Parmenides spoke, if
the tradition of them be true, were done of Necessity and not Love;
had Love been in those days, there would have been no chaining or
mutilation of the gods, or other violence, but peace and sweetness, as
there is now in heaven, since the rule of Love began.

  Love is young and also tender; he ought to have a poet like Homer to
describe his tenderness, as Homer says of Ate, that she is a goddess
and tender:

     Her feet are tender, for she sets her steps,

     Not on the ground but on the heads of men:

herein is an excellent proof of her tenderness that,-she walks not
upon the hard but upon the soft. Let us adduce a similar proof of
the tenderness of Love; for he walks not upon the earth, nor yet
upon skulls of men, which are not so very soft, but in the hearts
and souls of both god, and men, which are of all things the softest:
in them he walks and dwells and makes his home. Not in every soul
without exception, for Where there is hardness he departs, where there
is softness there he dwells; and nestling always with his feet and
in all manner of ways in the softest of soft places, how can he be
other than the softest of all things? Of a truth he is the tenderest
as well as the youngest, and also he is of flexile form; for if he
were hard and without flexure he could not enfold all things, or
wind his way into and out of every soul of man undiscovered. And a
proof of his flexibility and symmetry of form is his grace, which is
universally admitted to be in an especial manner the attribute of
Love; ungrace and love are always at war with one another. The
fairness of his complexion is revealed by his habitation among the
flowers; for he dwells not amid bloomless or fading beauties,
whether of body or soul or aught else, but in the place of flowers and
scents, there he sits and abides. Concerning the beauty of the god I
have said enough; and yet there remains much more which I might say.
Of his virtue I have now to speak: his greatest glory is that he can
neither do nor suffer wrong to or from any god or any man; for he
suffers not by force if he suffers; force comes not near him,
neither when he acts does he act by force. For all men in all things
serve him of their own free will, and where there is voluntary
agreement, there, as the laws which are the lords of the city say,
is justice. And not only is he just but exceedingly temperate, for
Temperance is the acknowledged ruler of the pleasures and desires, and
no pleasure ever masters Love; he is their master and they are his
servants; and if he conquers them he must be temperate indeed. As to
courage, even the God of War is no match for him; he is the captive
and Love is the lord, for love, the love of Aphrodite, masters him, as
the tale runs; and the master is stronger than the servant. And if
he conquers the bravest of all others, he must be himself the bravest.

  Of his courage and justice and temperance I have spoken, but I
have yet to speak of his wisdom-and according to the measure of my
ability I must try to do my best. In the first place he is a poet (and
here, like Eryximachus, I magnify my art), and he is also the source
of poesy in others, which he could not be if he were not himself a
poet. And at the touch of him every one becomes a poet, even though he
had no music in him before; this also is a proof that Love is a good
poet and accomplished in all the fine arts; for no one can give to
another that which he has not himself, or teach that of which he has
no knowledge. Who will deny that the creation of the animals is his
doing? Are they not all the works his wisdom, born and begotten of
him? And as to the artists, do we not know that he only of them whom
love inspires has the light of fame?-he whom Love touches riot walks
in darkness. The arts of medicine and archery and divination were
discovered by Apollo, under the guidance of love and desire; so that
he too is a disciple of Love. Also the melody of the Muses, the
metallurgy of Hephaestus, the weaving of Athene, the empire of Zeus
over gods and men, are all due to Love, who was the inventor of
them. And so Love set in order the empire of the gods-the love of
beauty, as is evident, for with deformity Love has no concern. In
the days of old, as I began by saying, dreadful deeds were done
among the gods, for they were ruled by Necessity; but now since the
birth of Love, and from the Love of the beautiful, has sprung every
good in heaven and earth. Therefore, Phaedrus, I say of Love that he
is the fairest and best in himself, and the cause of what is fairest
and best in all other things. And there comes into my mind a line of
poetry in which he is said to be the god who

     Gives peace on earth and calms the stormy deep,

     Who stills the winds and bids the sufferer sleep.

This is he who empties men of disaffection and fills them with
affection, who makes them to meet together at banquets such as
these: in sacrifices, feasts, dances, he is our lord-who sends
courtesy and sends away discourtesy, who gives kindness ever and never
gives unkindness; the friend of the good, the wonder of the wise,
the amazement of the gods; desired by those who have no part in him,
and precious to those who have the better part in him; parent of
delicacy, luxury, desire, fondness, softness, grace; regardful of
the good, regardless of the evil: in every word, work, wish,
fear-saviour, pilot, comrade, helper; glory of gods and men, leader
best and brightest: in whose footsteps let every man follow, sweetly
singing in his honour and joining in that sweet strain with which love
charms the souls of gods and men. Such is the speech, Phaedrus,
half-playful, yet having a certain measure of seriousness, which,
according to my ability, I dedicate to the god.

  When Agathon had done speaking, Aristodemus said that there was a
general cheer; the young man was thought to have spoken in a manner
worthy of himself, and of the god. And Socrates, looking at
Eryximachus, said: Tell me, son of Acumenus, was there not reason in
my fears? and was I not a true prophet when I said that Agathon
would make a wonderful oration, and that I should be in a strait?

  The part of the prophecy which concerns Agathon, replied
Eryximachus, appears to me to be true; but, not the other part-that
you will be in a strait.

  Why, my dear friend, said Socrates, must not I or any one be in a
strait who has to speak after he has heard such a rich and varied
discourse? I am especially struck with the beauty of the concluding
words-who could listen to them without amazement? When I reflected
on the immeasurable inferiority of my own powers, I was ready to run
away for shame, if there had been a possibility of escape. For I was
reminded of Gorgias, and at the end of his speech I fancied that
Agathon was shaking at me the Gorginian or Gorgonian head of the great
master of rhetoric, which was simply to turn me and my speech, into
stone, as Homer says, and strike me dumb. And then I perceived how
foolish I had been in consenting to take my turn with you in
praising love, and saying that I too was a master of the art, when I
really had no conception how anything ought to be praised. For in my
simplicity I imagined that the topics of praise should be true, and
that this being presupposed, out of the true the speaker was to choose
the best and set them forth in the best manner. And I felt quite
proud, thinking that I knew the nature of true praise, and should
speak well. Whereas I now see that the intention was to attribute to
Love every species of greatness and glory, whether really belonging to
him not, without regard to truth or falsehood-that was no matter;
for the original, proposal seems to have been not that each of you
should really praise Love, but only that you should appear to praise
him. And so you attribute to Love every imaginable form of praise
which can be gathered anywhere; and you say that "he is all this," and
"the cause of all that," making him appear the fairest and best of all
to those who know him not, for you cannot impose upon those who know
him. And a noble and solemn hymn of praise have you rehearsed. But
as I misunderstood the nature of the praise when I said that I would
take my turn, I must beg to be absolved from the promise which I
made in ignorance, and which (as Euripides would say) was a promise of
the lips and not of the mind. Farewell then to such a strain: for I do
not praise in that way; no, indeed, I cannot. But if you like to
here the truth about love, I am ready to speak in my own manner,
though I will not make myself ridiculous by entering into any
rivalry with you. Say then, Phaedrus, whether you would like, to
have the truth about love, spoken in any words and in any order
which may happen to come into my mind at the time. Will that be
agreeable to you?

  Aristodemus said that Phaedrus and the company bid him speak in
any manner which he thought best. Then, he added, let me have your
permission first to ask Agathon a few more questions, in order that
I may take his admissions as the premisses of my discourse.

  I grant the permission, said Phaedrus: put your questions.
Socrates then proceeded as follows:-

  In the magnificent oration which you have just uttered, I think that
you were right, my dear Agathon, in proposing to speak of the nature
of Love first and afterwards of his works-that is a way of beginning
which I very much approve. And as you have spoken so eloquently of his
nature, may I ask you further, Whether love is the love of something
or of nothing? And here I must explain myself: I do not want you to
say that love is the love of a father or the love of a mother-that
would be ridiculous; but to answer as you would, if I asked is a
father a father of something? to which you would find no difficulty in
replying, of a son or daughter: and the answer would be right.

  Very true, said Agathon.

  And you would say the same of a mother?

  He assented.

  Yet let me ask you one more question in order to illustrate my
meaning: Is not a brother to be regarded essentially as a brother of

  Certainly, he replied.

  That is, of a brother or sister?

  Yes, he said.

  And now, said Socrates, I will ask about Love:-Is Love of
something or of nothing?

  Of something, surely, he replied.

  Keep in mind what this is, and tell me what I want to know-whether
Love desires that of which love is.

  Yes, surely.

  And does he possess, or does he not possess, that which he loves and

  Probably not, I should say.

  Nay, replied Socrates, I would have you consider whether
"necessarily" is not rather the word. The inference that he who
desires something is in want of something, and that he who desires
nothing is in want of nothing, is in my judgment, Agathon absolutely
and necessarily true. What do you think?

  I agree with you, said Agathon.

  Very good. Would he who is great, desire to be great, or he who is
strong, desire to be strong?

  That would be inconsistent with our previous admissions.

  True. For he who is anything cannot want to be that which he is?

  Very true.

  And yet, added Socrates, if a man being strong desired to be strong,
or being swift desired to be swift, or being healthy desired to be
healthy, in that case he might be thought to desire something which he
already has or is. I give the example in order that we may avoid
misconception. For the possessors of these qualities, Agathon, must be
supposed to have their respective advantages at the time, whether they
choose or not; and who can desire that which he has? Therefore when
a person says, I am well and wish to be well, or I am rich and wish to
be rich, and I desire simply to have what I have-to him we shall
reply: "You, my friend, having wealth and health and strength, want to
have the continuance of them; for at this moment, whether you choose
or no, you have them. And when you say, I desire that which I have and
nothing else, is not your meaning that you want to have what you now
have in the future? "He must agree with us-must he not?

  He must, replied Agathon.

  Then, said Socrates, he desires that what he has at present may be
preserved to him in the future, which is equivalent to saying that
he desires something which is non-existent to him, and which as yet he
has not got.

  Very true, he said.

  Then he and every one who desires, desires that which he has not
already, and which is future and not present, and which he has not,
and is not, and of which he is in want;-these are the sort of things
which love and desire seek?

  Very true, he said.

  Then now, said Socrates, let us recapitulate the argument. First, is
not love of something, and of something too which is wanting to a man?

  Yes, he replied.

  Remember further what you said in your speech, or if you do not
remember I will remind you: you said that the love of the beautiful
set in order the empire of the gods, for that of deformed things there
is no love-did you not say something of that kind?

  Yes, said Agathon.

  Yes, my friend, and the remark was a just one. And if this is
true, Love is the love of beauty and not of deformity?

  He assented.

  And the admission has been already made that Love is of something
which a man wants and has not?

  True, he said.

  Then Love wants and has not beauty?

  Certainly, he replied.

  And would you call that beautiful which wants and does not possess

  Certainly not.

  Then would you still say that love is beautiful?

  Agathon replied: I fear that I did not understand what I was saying.

  You made a very good speech, Agathon, replied Socrates; but there is
yet one small question which I would fain ask:-Is not the good also
the beautiful?


  Then in wanting the beautiful, love wants also the good?

  I cannot refute you, Socrates, said Agathon:-Let us assume that what
you say is true.

  Say rather, beloved Agathon, that you cannot refute the truth; for
Socrates is easily refuted.

  And now, taking my leave of you, I would rehearse a tale of love
which I heard from Diotima of Mantineia, a woman wise in this and in
many other kinds of knowledge, who in the days of old, when the
Athenians offered sacrifice before the coming of the plague, delayed
the disease ten years. She was my instructress in the art of love, and
I shall repeat to you what she said to me, beginning with the
admissions made by Agathon, which are nearly if not quite the same
which I made to the wise woman when she questioned me-I think that
this will be the easiest way, and I shall take both parts myself as
well as I can. As you, Agathon, suggested, I must speak first of the
being and nature of Love, and then of his works. First I said to her
in nearly the same words which he used to me, that Love was a mighty
god, and likewise fair and she proved to me as I proved to him that,
by my own showing, Love was neither fair nor good. "What do you
mean, Diotima," I said, "is love then evil and foul?" "Hush," she
cried; "must that be foul which is not fair?" "Certainly," I said.
"And is that which is not wise, ignorant? do you not see that there is
a mean between wisdom and ignorance?" "And what may that be?" I
said. "Right opinion," she replied; "which, as you know, being
incapable of giving a reason, is not knowledge (for how can
knowledge be devoid of reason? nor again, ignorance, for neither can
ignorance attain the truth), but is clearly something which is a
mean between ignorance and wisdom." "Quite true," I replied. "Do not
then insist," she said, "that what is not fair is of necessity foul,
or what is not good evil; or infer that because love is not fair and
good he is therefore foul and evil; for he is in a mean between them."
"Well," I said, "Love is surely admitted by all to be a great god."
"By those who know or by those who do not know?" "By all." "And how,
Socrates," she said with a smile, "can Love be acknowledged to be a
great god by those who say that he is not a god at all?" "And who
are they?" I said. "You and I are two of them," she replied. "How
can that be?" I said. "It is quite intelligible," she replied; "for
you yourself would acknowledge that the gods are happy and fair of
course you would-would to say that any god was not?" "Certainly
not," I replied. "And you mean by the happy, those who are the
possessors of things good or fair?" "Yes." "And you admitted that
Love, because he was in want, desires those good and fair things of
which he is in want?" "Yes, I did." "But how can he be a god who has
no portion in what is either good or fair?" "Impossible." "Then you
see that you also deny the divinity of Love."

  "What then is Love?" I asked; "Is he mortal?" "No." "What then?" "As
in the former instance, he is neither mortal nor immortal, but in a
mean between the two." "What is he, Diotima?" "He is a great spirit
(daimon), and like all spirits he is intermediate between the divine
and the mortal." "And what," I said, "is his power?" "He
interprets," she replied, "between gods and men, conveying and
taking across to the gods the prayers and sacrifices of men, and to
men the commands and replies of the gods; he is the mediator who spans
the chasm which divides them, and therefore in him all is bound
together, and through him the arts of the prophet and the priest,
their sacrifices and mysteries and charms, and all, prophecy and
incantation, find their way. For God mingles not with man; but through
Love. all the intercourse, and converse of god with man, whether awake
or asleep, is carried on. The wisdom which understands this is
spiritual; all other wisdom, such as that of arts and handicrafts,
is mean and vulgar. Now these spirits or intermediate powers are
many and diverse, and one of them is Love. "And who," I said, "was his
father, and who his mother?" "The tale," she said, "will take time;
nevertheless I will tell you. On the birthday of Aphrodite there was a
feast of the gods, at which the god Poros or Plenty, who is the son of
Metis or Discretion, was one of the guests. When the feast was over,
Penia or Poverty, as the manner is on such occasions, came about the
doors to beg. Now Plenty who was the worse for nectar (there was no
wine in those days), went into the garden of Zeus and fell into a
heavy sleep, and Poverty considering her own straitened circumstances,
plotted to have a child by him, and accordingly she lay down at his
side and conceived love, who partly because he is naturally a lover of
the beautiful, and because Aphrodite is herself beautiful, and also
because he was born on her birthday, is her follower and attendant.
And as his parentage is, so also are his fortunes. In the first
place he is always poor, and anything but tender and fair, as the many
imagine him; and he is rough and squalid, and has no shoes, nor a
house to dwell in; on the bare earth exposed he lies under the open
heaven, in-the streets, or at the doors of houses, taking his rest;
and like his mother he is always in distress. Like his father too,
whom he also partly resembles, he is always plotting against the
fair and good; he is bold, enterprising, strong, a mighty hunter,
always weaving some intrigue or other, keen in the pursuit of
wisdom, fertile in resources; a philosopher at all times, terrible
as an enchanter, sorcerer, sophist. He is by nature neither mortal nor
immortal, but alive and flourishing at one moment when he is in
plenty, and dead at another moment, and again alive by reason of his
father's nature. But that which is always flowing in is always flowing
out, and so he is never in want and never in wealth; and, further,
he is in a mean between ignorance and knowledge. The truth of the
matter is this: No god is a philosopher. or seeker after wisdom, for
he is wise already; nor does any man who is wise seek after wisdom.
Neither do the ignorant seek after Wisdom. For herein is the evil of
ignorance, that he who is neither good nor wise is nevertheless
satisfied with himself: he has no desire for that of which he feels no
want." "But-who then, Diotima," I said, "are the lovers of wisdom,
if they are neither the wise nor the foolish?" "A child may answer
that question," she replied; "they are those who are in a mean between
the two; Love is one of them. For wisdom is a most beautiful thing,
and Love is of the beautiful; and therefore Love is also a
philosopher: or lover of wisdom, and being a lover of wisdom is in a
mean between the wise and the ignorant. And of this too his birth is
the cause; for his father is wealthy and wise, and his mother poor and
foolish. Such, my dear Socrates, is the nature of the spirit Love. The
error in your conception of him was very natural, and as I imagine
from what you say, has arisen out of a confusion of love and the
beloved, which made you think that love was all beautiful. For the
beloved is the truly beautiful, and delicate, and perfect, and
blessed; but the principle of love is of another nature, and is such
as I have described."

  I said, "O thou stranger woman, thou sayest well; but, assuming Love
to be such as you say, what is the use of him to men?" "That,
Socrates," she replied, "I will attempt to unfold: of his nature and
birth I have already spoken; and you acknowledge that love is of the
beautiful. But some one will say: Of the beautiful in what, Socrates
and Diotima?-or rather let me put the question more dearly, and ask:
When a man loves the beautiful, what does he desire?" I answered her
"That the beautiful may be his." "Still," she said, "the answer
suggests a further question: What is given by the possession of
beauty?" "To what you have asked," I replied, "I have no answer
ready." "Then," she said, "Let me put the word 'good' in the place
of the beautiful, and repeat the question once more: If he who loves
good, what is it then that he loves? "The possession of the good," I
said. "And what does he gain who possesses the good?" "Happiness," I
replied; "there is less difficulty in answering that question." "Yes,"
she said, "the happy are made happy by the acquisition of good things.
Nor is there any need to ask why a man desires happiness; the answer
is already final." "You are right." I said. "And is this wish and this
desire common to all? and do all men always desire their own good,
or only some men?-what say you?" "All men," I replied; "the desire
is common to all." "Why, then," she rejoined, "are not all men,
Socrates, said to love, but only some them? whereas you say that all
men are always loving the same things." "I myself wonder," I said,-why
this is." "There is nothing to wonder at," she replied; "the reason is
that one part of love is separated off and receives the name of the
whole, but the other parts have other names." "Give an
illustration," I said. She answered me as follows: "There is poetry,
which, as you know, is complex; and manifold. All creation or
passage of non-being into being is poetry or making, and the processes
of all art are creative; and the masters of arts are all poets or
makers." "Very true." "Still," she said, "you know that they are not
called poets, but have other names; only that portion of the art which
is separated off from the rest, and is concerned with music and metre,
is termed poetry, and they who possess poetry in this sense of the
word are called poets." "Very true," I said. "And the same holds of
love. For you may say generally that all desire of good and
happiness is only the great and subtle power of love; but they who are
drawn towards him by any other path, whether the path of
money-making or gymnastics or philosophy, are not called lovers -the
name of the whole is appropriated to those whose affection takes one
form only-they alone are said to love, or to be lovers." "I dare say,"
I replied, "that you are right." "Yes," she added, "and you hear
people say that lovers are seeking for their other half; but I say
that they are seeking neither for the half of themselves, nor for
the whole, unless the half or the whole be also a good. And they
will cut off their own hands and feet and cast them away, if they
are evil; for they love not what is their own, unless perchance
there be some one who calls what belongs to him the good, and what
belongs to another the evil. For there is nothing which men love but
the good. Is there anything?" "Certainly, I should say, that there
is nothing." "Then," she said, "the simple truth is, that men love the
good." "Yes," I said. "To which must be added that they love the
possession of the good? "Yes, that must be added." "And not only the
possession, but the everlasting possession of the good?" "That must be
added too." "Then love," she said, "may be described generally as
the love of the everlasting possession of the good?" "That is most

  "Then if this be the nature of love, can you tell me further," she
said, "what is the manner of the pursuit? what are they doing who show
all this eagerness and heat which is called love? and what is the
object which they have in view? Answer me." "Nay, Diotima," I replied,
"if I had known, I should not have wondered at your wisdom, neither
should I have come to learn from you about this very matter."
"Well," she said, "I will teach you:-The object which they have in
view is birth in beauty, whether of body or, soul." "I do not
understand you," I said; "the oracle requires an explanation." "I will
make my meaning dearer," she replied. "I mean to say, that all men are
bringing to the birth in their bodies and in their souls. There is a
certain age at which human nature is desirous of
procreation-procreation which must be in beauty and not in
deformity; and this procreation is the union of man and woman, and
is a divine thing; for conception and generation are an immortal
principle in the mortal creature, and in the inharmonious they can
never be. But the deformed is always inharmonious with the divine, and
the beautiful harmonious. Beauty, then, is the destiny or goddess of
parturition who presides at birth, and therefore, when approaching
beauty, the conceiving power is propitious, and diffusive, and benign,
and begets and bears fruit: at the sight of ugliness she frowns and
contracts and has a sense of pain, and turns away, and shrivels up,
and not without a pang refrains from conception. And this is the
reason why, when the hour of conception arrives, and the teeming
nature is full, there is such a flutter and ecstasy about beauty whose
approach is the alleviation of the pain of travail. For love,
Socrates, is not, as you imagine, the love of the beautiful only."
"What then?" "The love of generation and of birth in beauty." "Yes," I
said. "Yes, indeed," she replied. "But why of generation?" "Because to
the mortal creature, generation is a sort of eternity and
immortality," she replied; "and if, as has been already admitted, love
is of the everlasting possession of the good, all men will necessarily
desire immortality together with good: Wherefore love is of

  All this she taught me at various times when she spoke of love.
And I remember her once saying to me, "What is the cause, Socrates, of
love, and the attendant desire? See you not how all animals, birds, as
well as beasts, in their desire of procreation, are in agony when they
take the infection of love, which begins with the desire of union;
whereto is added the care of offspring, on whose behalf the weakest
are ready to battle against the strongest even to the uttermost, and
to die for them, and will, let themselves be tormented with hunger
or suffer anything in order to maintain their young. Man may be
supposed to act thus from reason; but why should animals have these
passionate feelings? Can you tell me why?" Again I replied that I
did not know. She said to me: "And do you expect ever to become a
master in the art of love, if you do not know this?" "But I have
told you already, Diotima, that my ignorance is the reason why I
come to you; for I am conscious that I want a teacher; tell me then
the cause of this and of the other mysteries of love." "Marvel not,"
she said, "if you believe that love is of the immortal, as we have
several times acknowledged; for here again, and on the same
principle too, the mortal nature is seeking as far as is possible to
be everlasting and immortal: and this is only to be attained by
generation, because generation always leaves behind a new existence in
the place of the old. Nay even in the life, of the same individual
there is succession and not absolute unity: a man is called the
same, and yet in the short interval which elapses between youth and
age, and in which every animal is said to have life and identity, he
is undergoing a perpetual process of loss and reparation-hair,
flesh, bones, blood, and the whole body are always changing. Which
is true not only of the body, but also of the soul, whose habits,
tempers, opinions, desires, pleasures, pains, fears, never remain
the same in any one of us, but are always coming and going; and
equally true of knowledge, and what is still more surprising to us
mortals, not only do the sciences in general spring up and decay, so
that in respect of them we are never the same; but each of them
individually experiences a like change. For what is implied in the
word 'recollection,' but the departure of knowledge, which is ever
being forgotten, and is renewed and preserved by recollection, and
appears to be the same although in reality new, according to that
law of succession by which all mortal things are preserved, not
absolutely the same, but by substitution, the old worn-out mortality
leaving another new and similar existence behind unlike the divine,
which is always the same and not another? And in this way, Socrates,
the mortal body, or mortal anything, partakes of immortality; but
the immortal in another way. Marvel not then at the love which all men
have of their offspring; for that universal love and interest is for
the sake of immortality."

  I was astonished at her words, and said: "Is this really true, O
thou wise Diotima?" And she answered with all the authority of an
accomplished sophist: "Of that, Socrates, you may be assured;-think
only of the ambition of men, and you will wonder at the
senselessness of their ways, unless you consider how they are
stirred by the love of an immortality of fame. They are ready to run
all risks greater far than they would have for their children, and
to spend money and undergo any sort of toil, and even to die, for
the sake of leaving behind them a name which shall be eternal. Do
you imagine that Alcestis would have died to save Admetus, or Achilles
to avenge Patroclus, or your own Codrus in order to preserve the
kingdom for his sons, if they had not imagined that the memory of
their virtues, which still survives among us, would be immortal? Nay,"
she said, "I am persuaded that all men do all things, and the better
they are the more they do them, in hope of the glorious fame of
immortal virtue; for they desire the immortal.

  "Those who are pregnant in the body only, betake themselves to women
and beget children-this is the character of their love; their
offspring, as they hope, will preserve their memory and giving them
the blessedness and immortality which they desire in the future. But
souls which are pregnant-for there certainly are men who are more
creative in their souls than in their bodies conceive that which is
proper for the soul to conceive or contain. And what are these
conceptions?-wisdom and virtue in general. And such creators are poets
and all artists who are deserving of the name inventor. But the
greatest and fairest sort of wisdom by far is that which is
concerned with the ordering of states and families, and which is
called temperance and justice. And he who in youth has the seed of
these implanted in him and is himself inspired, when he comes to
maturity desires to beget and generate. He wanders about seeking
beauty that he may beget offspring-for in deformity he will beget
nothing-and naturally embraces the beautiful rather than the
deformed body; above all when he finds fair and noble and
well-nurtured soul, he embraces the two in one person, and to such
an one he is full of speech about virtue and the nature and pursuits
of a good man; and he tries to educate him; and at the touch of the
beautiful which is ever present to his memory, even when absent, he
brings forth that which he had conceived long before, and in company
with him tends that which he brings forth; and they are married by a
far nearer tie and have a closer friendship than those who beget
mortal children, for the children who are their common offspring are
fairer and more immortal. Who, when he thinks of Homer and Hesiod
and other great poets, would not rather have their children than
ordinary human ones? Who would not emulate them in the creation of
children such as theirs, which have preserved their memory and given
them everlasting glory? Or who would not have such children as
Lycurgus left behind him to be the saviours, not only of Lacedaemon,
but of Hellas, as one may say? There is Solon, too, who is the revered
father of Athenian laws; and many others there are in many other
places, both among hellenes and barbarians, who have given to the
world many noble works, and have been the parents of virtue of every
kind; and many temples have been raised in their honour for the sake
of children such as theirs; which were never raised in honour of any
one, for the sake of his mortal children.

  "These are the lesser mysteries of love, into which even you,
Socrates, may enter; to the greater and more hidden ones which are the
crown of these, and to which, if you pursue them in a right spirit,
they will lead, I know not whether you will be able to attain. But I
will do my utmost to inform you, and do you follow if you can. For
he who would proceed aright in this matter should begin in youth to
visit beautiful forms; and first, if he be guided by his instructor
aright, to love one such form only-out of that he should create fair
thoughts; and soon he will of himself perceive that the beauty of
one form is akin to the beauty of another; and then if beauty of
form in general is his pursuit, how foolish would he be not to
recognize that the beauty in every form is and the same! And when he
perceives this he will abate his violent love of the one, which he
will despise and deem a small thing, and will become a lover of all
beautiful forms; in the next stage he will consider that the beauty of
the mind is more honourable than the beauty of the outward form. So
that if a virtuous soul have but a little comeliness, he will be
content to love and tend him, and will search out and bring to the
birth thoughts which may improve the young, until he is compelled to
contemplate and see the beauty of institutions and laws, and to
understand that the beauty of them all is of one family, and that
personal beauty is a trifle; and after laws and institutions he will
go on to the sciences, that he may see their beauty, being not like
a servant in love with the beauty of one youth or man or
institution, himself a slave mean and narrow-minded, but drawing
towards and contemplating the vast sea of beauty, he will create
many fair and noble thoughts and notions in boundless love of
wisdom; until on that shore he grows and waxes strong, and at last the
vision is revealed to him of a single science, which is the science of
beauty everywhere. To this I will proceed; please to give me your very
best attention:

  "He who has been instructed thus far in the things of love, and
who has learned to see the beautiful in due order and succession, when
he comes toward the end will suddenly perceive a nature of wondrous
beauty (and this, Socrates, is the final cause of all our former
toils)-a nature which in the first place is everlasting, not growing
and decaying, or waxing and waning; secondly, not fair in one point of
view and foul in another, or at one time or in one relation or at
one place fair, at another time or in another relation or at another
place foul, as if fair to some and-foul to others, or in the
likeness of a face or hands or any other part of the bodily frame,
or in any form of speech or knowledge, or existing in any other being,
as for example, in an animal, or in heaven or in earth, or in any
other place; but beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting,
which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is
imparted to the ever-growing and perishing beauties of all other
things. He who from these ascending under the influence of true
love, begins to perceive that beauty, is not far from the end. And the
true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love,
is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the
sake of that other beauty, using these as steps only, and from one
going on to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms
to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from
fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at
last knows what the essence of beauty is. This, my dear Socrates,"
said the stranger of Mantineia, "is that life above all others which
man should live, in the contemplation of beauty absolute; a beauty
which if you once beheld, you would see not to be after the measure of
gold, and garments, and fair boys and youths, whose presence now
entrances you; and you and many a one would be content to live
seeing them only and conversing with them without meat or drink, if
that were possible-you only want to look at them and to be with
them. But what if man had eyes to see the true beauty-the divine
beauty, I mean, pure and dear and unalloyed, not clogged with the
pollutions of mortality and all the colours and vanities of human
life-thither looking, and holding converse with the true beauty simple
and divine? Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty with
the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images
of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a
reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become
the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may. Would that be an
ignoble life?"

  Such, Phaedrus-and I speak not only to you, but to all of you-were
the words of Diotima; and I am persuaded of their truth. And being
persuaded of them, I try to persuade others, that in the attainment of
this end human nature will not easily find a helper better than
love: And therefore, also, I say that every man ought to honour him as
I myself honour him, and walk in his ways, and exhort others to do the
same, and praise the power and spirit of love according to the measure
of my ability now and ever.

  The words which I have spoken, you, Phaedrus, may call an encomium
of love, or anything else which you please.

  When Socrates had done speaking, the company applauded, and
Aristophanes was beginning to say something in answer to the
allusion which Socrates had made to his own speech, when suddenly
there was a great knocking at the door of the house, as of
revellers, and the sound of a flute-girl was heard. Agathon told the
attendants to go and see who were the intruders. "If they are
friends of ours," he said, "invite them in, but if not, say that the
drinking is over." A little while afterwards they heard the voice of
Alcibiades resounding in the court; he was in a great state of
intoxication and kept roaring and shouting "Where is Agathon? Lead
me to Agathon," and at length, supported by the flute-girl and some of
his attendants, he found his way to them. "Hail, friends," he said,
appearing-at the door crown, with a massive garland of ivy and
violets, his head flowing with ribands. "Will you have a very
drunken man as a companion of your revels? Or shall I crown Agathon,
which was my intention in coming, and go away? For I was unable to
come yesterday, and therefore I am here to-day, carrying on my head
these ribands, that taking them from my own head, I may crown the head
of this fairest and wisest of men, as I may be allowed to call him.
Will you laugh at me because I am drunk? Yet I know very well that I
am speaking the truth, although you may laugh. But first tell me; if I
come in shall we have the understanding of which I spoke? Will you
drink with me or not?"

  The company were vociferous in begging that he would take his
place among them, and Agathon specially invited him. Thereupon he
was led in by the people who were with him; and as he was being led,
intending to crown Agathon, he took the ribands from his own head
and held them in front of his eyes; he was thus prevented from
seeing Socrates, who made way for him, and Alcibiades took the
vacant place between Agathon and Socrates, and in taking the place
he embraced Agathon and crowned him. Take off his sandals, said
Agathon, and let him make a third on the same couch.

  By all means; but who makes the third partner in our revels? said
Alcibiades, turning round and starting up as he caught sight of
Socrates. By Heracles, he said, what is this? here is Socrates
always lying in wait for me, and always, as his way is, coming out
at all sorts of unsuspected places: and now, what have you to say
for yourself, and why are you lying here, where I perceive that you
have contrived to find a place, not by a joker or lover of jokes, like
Aristophanes, but by the fairest of the company?

  Socrates turned to Agathon and said: I must ask you to protect me,
Agathon; for the passion of this man has grown quite a serious
matter to me. Since I became his admirer I have never been allowed
to speak to any other fair one, or so much as to look at them. If I
do, he goes wild with envy and jealousy, and not only abuses me but
can hardly keep his hands off me, and at this moment he may do me some
harm. Please to see to this, and either reconcile me to him, or, if he
attempts violence, protect me, as I am in bodily fear of his mad and
passionate attempts.

  There can never be reconciliation between you and me, said
Alcibiades; but for the present I will defer your chastisement. And
I must beg you, Agathoron, to give me back some of the ribands that
I may crown the marvellous head of this universal despot-I would not
have him complain of me for crowning you, and neglecting him, who in
conversation is the conqueror of all mankind; and this not only
once, as you were the day before yesterday, but always. Whereupon,
taking some of the ribands, he crowned Socrates, and again reclined.

  Then he said: You seem, my friends, to be sober, which is a thing
not to be endured; you must drink-for that was the agreement under
which I was admitted-and I elect myself master of the feast until
you are well drunk. Let us have a large goblet, Agathon, or rather, he
said, addressing the attendant, bring me that wine-cooler. The
wine-cooler which had caught his eye was a vessel holding more than
two quarts-this he filled and emptied, and bade the attendant fill
it again for Socrates. Observe, my friends, said Alcibiades, that this
ingenious trick of mine will have no effect on Socrates, for he can
drink any quantity of wine and not be at all nearer being drunk.
Socrates drank the cup which the attendant filled for him.

  Eryximachus said! What is this Alcibiades? Are we to have neither
conversation nor singing over our cups; but simply to drink as if we
were thirsty?

  Alcibiades replied: Hail, worthy son of a most wise and worthy sire!

  The same to you, said Eryximachus; but what shall we do?

  That I leave to you, said Alcibiades.

     The wise physician skilled our wounds to heal

shall prescribe and we will obey. What do you want?

  Well, said Eryximachus, before you appeared we had passed a
resolution that each one of us in turn should make a speech in
praise of love, and as good a one as he could: the turn was passed
round from left to right; and as all of us have spoken, and you have
not spoken but have well drunken, you ought to speak, and then
impose upon Socrates any task which you please, and he on his right
hand neighbour, and so on.

  That is good, Eryximachus, said Alcibiades; and yet the
comparison, of a drunken man's speech with those of sober men is
hardly fair; and I should like to know, sweet friend, whether you
really believe-what Socrates was just now saying; for I can assure you
that the very reverse is the fact, and that if I praise any one but
himself in his presence, whether God or man, he will hardly keep his
hands off me.

  For shame, said Socrates.

  Hold your tongue, said Alcibiades, for by Poseidon, there is no
one else whom I will praise when you are-of the company.

  Well then, said Eryximachus, if you like praise Socrates.

  What do you think, Eryximachus-? said Alcibiades: shall I attack
him: and inflict the punishment before you all?

  What are you about? said Socrates; are you going to raise a laugh at
my expense? Is that the meaning of your praise?

  I am going to speak the truth, if you will permit me.

  I not only permit, but exhort you to speak the truth.

  Then I will begin at once, said Alcibiades, and if I say anything
which is not true, you may interrupt me if you will, and say "that
is a lie," though my intention is to speak the truth. But you must not
wonder if I speak any how as things come into my mind; for the
fluent and orderly enumeration of all your singularities is not a task
which is easy to a man in my condition.

  And now, my boys, I shall praise Socrates in a figure which will
appear to him to be a caricature, and yet I speak, not to make fun
of him, but only for the truth's sake. I say, that he is exactly
like the busts of Silenus, which are set up in the statuaries,
shops, holding pipes and flutes in their mouths; and they are made
to open in the middle, and have images of gods inside them. I say also
that hit is like Marsyas the satyr. You yourself will not deny,
Socrates, that your face is like that of a satyr. Aye, and there is
a resemblance in other points too. For example, you are a bully, as
I can prove by witnesses, if you will not confess. And are you not a
flute-player? That you are, and a performer far more wonderful than
Marsyas. He indeed with instruments used to charm the souls of men
by the powers of his breath, and the players of his music do so still:
for the melodies of Olympus are derived from Marsyas who taught
them, and these, whether they are played by a great master or by a
miserable flute-girl, have a power which no others have; they alone
possess the soul and reveal the wants of those who have need of gods
and mysteries, because they are divine. But you produce the same
effect with your words only, and do not require the flute; that is the
difference between you and him. When we hear any other speaker, even
very good one, he produces absolutely no effect upon us, or not
much, whereas the mere fragments of you and your words, even at
second-hand, and however imperfectly repeated, amaze and possess the
souls of every man, woman, and child who comes within hearing of them.
And if I were not, afraid that you would think me hopelessly drunk,
I would have sworn as well as spoken to the influence which they
have always had and still have over me. For my heart leaps within me
more than that of any Corybantian reveller, and my eyes rain tears
when I hear them. And I observe that many others are affected in the
same manner. I have heard Pericles and other great orators, and I
thought that they spoke well, but I never had any similar feeling;
my soul was not stirred by them, nor was I angry at the thought of
my own slavish state. But this Marsyas has often brought me to such
pass, that I have felt as if I could hardly endure the life which I am
leading (this, Socrates, you will admit); and I am conscious that if I
did not shut my ears against him, and fly as from the voice of the
siren, my fate would be like that of others,-he would transfix me, and
I should grow old sitting at his feet. For he makes me confess that
I ought not to live as I do, neglecting the wants of my own soul,
and busying myself with the concerns of the Athenians; therefore I
hold my ears and tear myself away from him. And he is the only
person who ever made me ashamed, which you might think not to be in my
nature, and there is no one else who does the same. For I know that
I cannot answer him or say that I ought not to do as he bids, but when
I leave his presence the love of popularity gets the better of me. And
therefore I run away and fly from him, and when I see him I am ashamed
of what I have confessed to him. Many a time have I wished that he
were dead, and yet I know that I should be much more sorry than
glad, if he were to die: so that am at my wit's end.

  And this is what I and many others have suffered, from the
flute-playing of this satyr. Yet hear me once more while I show you
how exact the image is, and. how marvellous his power. For let me tell
you; none of you know him; but I will reveal him to you; having begun,
I must go on. See you how fond he is of the fair? He is always with
them and is always being smitten by them, and then again he knows
nothing and is ignorant of all thing such is the appearance which he
puts on. Is he not like a Silenus in this? To be sure he is: his outer
mask is the carved head of the Silenus; but, O my companions in drink,
when he is opened, what temperance there is residing within! Know
you that beauty and wealth and honour, at which the many wonder, are
of no account with him, and are utterly despised by him: he regards
not at all the persons who are gifted with them; mankind are nothing
to him; all his life is spent in mocking and flouting at them. But
when I opened him, and looked within at his serious purpose, I saw
in him divine and golden images of such fascinating beauty that I
was ready to do in a moment whatever Socrates commanded: they may have
escaped the observation of others, but I saw them. Now I fancied
that he was seriously enamoured of my beauty, and I thought that I
should therefore have a grand opportunity of hearing him tell what
he knew, for I had a wonderful opinion of the attractions of my youth.
In the prosecution of this design, when I next went to him, I sent
away the attendant who usually accompanied me (I will confess the
whole truth, and beg you to listen; and if I speak falsely, do you,
Socrates, expose the falsehood). Well, he and I were alone together,
and I thought that when there was nobody with us, I should hear him
speak the language which lovers use to their loves when they are by
themselves, and I was delighted. Nothing of the sort; he conversed
as usual, and spent the day with me and then went away. Afterwards I
challenged him to the palaestra; and he wrestled and closed with me,
several times when there was no one present; I fancied that I might
succeed in this manner. Not a bit; I made no way with him. Lastly,
as I had failed hitherto, I thought that I must take stronger measures
and attack him boldly, and, as I had begun, not give him up, but see
how matters stood between him and me. So I invited him to sup with me,
just as if he were a fair youth, and I a designing lover. He was not
easily persuaded to come; he did, however, after a while accept the
invitation, and when he came the first time, he wanted to go away at
once as soon as supper was over, and I had not the face to detain him.
The second time, still in pursuance of my design, after we had supped,
I went on conversing far into the night, and when he wanted to go
away, I pretended that the hour was late and that he had much better
remain. So he lay down on the couch next to me, the same on which he
had supped, and there was no one but ourselves sleeping in the
apartment. All this may be told without shame to any one. But what
follows I could hardly tell you if I were sober. Yet as the proverb
says, "In vino veritas," whether with boys, or without them; and
therefore I must speak. Nor, again, should I be justified in
concealing the lofty actions of Socrates when I come to praise him.
Moreover I have felt the serpent's sting; and he who has suffered,
as they say, is willing to tell his fellow-sufferers only, as they
alone will be likely to understand him, and will not be extreme in
judging of the sayings or doings which have been wrung from his agony.
For I have been bitten by a more than viper's tooth; I have known in
my soul, or in my heart, or in some other part, that worst of pangs,
more violent in ingenuous youth than any serpent's tooth, the pang
of philosophy, which will make a man say or do anything. And you
whom I see around me, Phaedrus and Agathon and Eryximachus and
Pausanias and Aristodemus and Aristophanes, all of you, and I need not
say Socrates himself, have had experience of the same madness and
passion in your longing after wisdom. Therefore listen and excuse my
doings then and my sayings now. But let the attendants and other
profane and unmannered persons close up the doors of their ears.

  When the lamp was put out and the servants had gone away, I
thought that I must be plain with him and have no more ambiguity. So I
gave him a shake, and I said: "Socrates, are you asleep?" "No," he
said. "Do you know what I am meditating? "What are you meditating?" he
said. "I think," I replied, "that of all the lovers whom I have ever
had you are the only one who is worthy of me, and you appear to be too
modest to speak. Now I feel that I should be a fool to refuse you this
or any other favour, and therefore I come to lay at your feet all that
I have and all that my friends have, in the hope that you will
assist me in the way of virtue, which I desire above all things, and
in which I believe that you can help me better than any one else.
And I should certainly have more reason to be ashamed of what wise men
would say if I were to refuse a favour to such as you, than of what
the world who are mostly fools, would say of me if I granted it." To
these words he replied in the ironical manner which is so
characteristic of him: "Alcibiades, my friend, you have indeed an
elevated aim if what you say is true, and if there really is in me any
power by which you may become better; truly you must see in me some
rare beauty of a kind infinitely higher than any which I see in you.
And therefore, if you mean to share with me and to exchange beauty for
beauty, you will have greatly the advantage of me; you will gain
true beauty in return for appearance-like Diomede, gold in exchange
for brass. But look again, sweet friend, and see whether you are not
deceived in me. The mind begins to grow critical when the bodily eye
fails, and it will be a long time before you get old." Hearing this, I
said: "I have told you my purpose, which is quite serious, and do
you consider what you think best for you and me." "That is good," he
said; "at some other time then we will consider and act as seems
best about this and about other matters." Whereupon, I fancied that
was smitten, and that the words which I had uttered like arrows had
wounded him, and so without waiting to hear more I got up, and
throwing my coat about him crept under his threadbare cloak, as the
time of year was winter, and there I lay during the whole night having
this wonderful monster in my arms. This again, Socrates, will not be
denied by you. And yet, notwithstanding all, he was so superior to
my solicitations, so contemptuous and derisive and disdainful of my
beauty-which really, as I fancied, had some attractions-hear, O
judges; for judges you shall be of the haughty virtue of
Socrates-nothing more happened, but in the morning when I awoke (let
all the gods and goddesses be my witnesses) I arose as from the
couch of a father or an elder brother.

  What do you suppose must have been my feelings, after this
rejection, at the thought of my own dishonour? And yet I could not
help wondering at his natural temperance and self-restraint and
manliness. I never imagined that I could have met with a man such as
he is in wisdom and endurance. And therefore I could not be angry with
him or renounce his company, any more than I could hope to win him.
For I well knew that if Ajax could not be wounded by steel, much
less he by money; and my only chance of captivating him by my personal
attractions had faded. So I was at my wit's end; no one was ever
more hopelessly enslaved by another. All this happened before he and I
went on the expedition to Potidaea; there we messed together, and I
had the opportunity of observing his extraordinary power of sustaining
fatigue. His endurance was simply marvellous when, being cut off
from our supplies, we were compelled to go without food-on such
occasions, which often happen in time of war, he was superior not only
to me but to everybody; there was no one to be compared to him. Yet at
a festival he was the only person who had any real powers of
enjoyment; though not willing to drink, he could if compelled beat
us all at that,-wonderful to relate! no human being had ever seen
Socrates drunk; and his powers, if I am not mistaken, will be tested
before long. His fortitude in enduring cold was also surprising. There
was a severe frost, for the winter in that region is really
tremendous, and everybody else either remained indoors, or if they
went out had on an amazing quantity of clothes, and were well shod,
and had their feet swathed in felt and fleeces: in the midst of
this, Socrates with his bare feet on the ice and in his ordinary dress
marched better than the other soldiers who had shoes, and they
looked daggers at him because he seemed to despise them.

  I have told you one tale, and now I must tell you another, which
is worth hearing, 'Of the doings and sufferings of the enduring
man', while he was on the expedition. One morning he was thinking
about something which he could not resolve; he would not give it up,
but continued thinking from early dawn until noon-there he stood fixed
in thought; and at noon attention was drawn to him, and the rumour ran
through the wondering crowd that Socrates had been standing and
thinking about something ever since the break of day. At last, in
the evening after supper, some Ionians out of curiosity (I should
explain that this was not in winter but in summer), brought out
their mats and slept in the open air that they might watch him and see
whether he would stand all night. There he stood until the following
morning; and with the return of light he offered up a prayer to the
sun, and went his way. I will also tell, if you please-and indeed I am
bound to tell of his courage in battle; for who but he saved my
life? Now this was the engagement in which I received the prize of
valour: for I was wounded and he would not leave me, but he rescued me
and my arms; and he ought to have received the prize of valour which
the generals wanted to confer on me partly on account of my rank,
and I told them so, (this, again Socrates will not impeach or deny),
but he was more eager than the generals that I and not he should
have the prize. There was another occasion on which his behaviour
was very remarkable-in the flight of the army after the battle of
Delium, where he served among the heavy-armed-I had a better
opportunity of seeing him than at Potidaea, for I was myself on
horseback, and therefore comparatively out of danger. He and Laches
were retreating, for the troops were in flight, and I met them and
told them not to be discouraged, and promised to remain with them; and
there you might see him, Aristophanes, as you describe, just as he
is in the streets of Athens, stalking like a and rolling his eyes,
calmly contemplating enemies as well as friends, and making very
intelligible to anybody, even from a distance, that whoever attacked
him would be likely to meet with a stout resistance; and in this way
he and his companion escaped-for this is the sort of man who is
never touched in war; those only are pursued who are running away
headlong. I particularly observed how superior he was to Laches in
presence of mind. Many are the marvels which I might narrate in praise
of Socrates; most of his ways might perhaps be paralleled in another
man, but his absolute unlikeness to any human being that is or ever
has been is perfectly astonishing. You may imagine Brasidas and others
to have been like Achilles; or you may imagine Nestor and Antenor to
have been like Perides; and the same may be said of other famous
men, but of this strange being you will never be able to find any
likeness, however remote, either among men who now are or who ever
have been-other than that which I have already suggested of Silenus
and the satyrs; and they represent in a figure not only himself, but
his words. For, although I forgot to mention this to you before, his
words are like the images of Silenus which open; they are ridiculous
when you first hear them; he clothes himself in language that is
like the skin of the wanton satyr-for his talk is of pack-asses and
smiths and cobblers and curriers, and he is always repeating the
same things in the same words, so that any ignorant or inexperienced
person might feel disposed to laugh at him; but he who opens the
bust and sees what is within will find that they are the only words
which have a meaning in them, and also the most divine, abounding in
fair images of virtue, and of the widest comprehension, or rather
extending to the whole duty of a good and honourable man.

  This, friends, is my praise of Socrates. I have added my blame of
him for his ill-treatment of me; and he has ill-treated not only me,
but Charmides the son of Glaucon, and Euthydemus the son of Diocles,
and many others in the same way-beginning as their lover he has
ended by making them pay their addresses to him. Wherefore I say to
you, Agathon, "Be no deceived by him; learn from me: and take warning,
and do not be a fool and learn by experience, as the proverb says."

  When Alcibiades had finished, there was a laugh at his
outspokenness; for he seemed to be still in love with Socrates. You
are sober, Alcibiades, said Socrates, or you would never have gone
so far about to hide the purpose of your satyr's praises, for all this
long story is only an ingenious circumlocution, of which the point
comes in by the way at the end; you want to get up a quarrel between
me and Agathon, and your notion-is that I ought to love you and nobody
else, and that you and you only ought to love Agathon. But the plot of
this Satyric or Silenic drama has been detected, and you must not
allow him, Agathon, to set us at variance.

  I believe you are right, said Agathon, and I am disposed to think
that his intention in placing himself between you and me was only to
divide us; but he shall gain nothing by that move; for I will go and
lie on the couch next to you.

  Yes, yes, replied Socrates, by all means come here and lie on the
couch below me.

  Alas, said Alcibiades, how I am fooled by this man; he is determined
to get the better of me at every turn. I do beseech you, allow Agathon
to lie between us.

  Certainly not, said Socrates, as you praised me, and I in turn ought
to praise my neighbour on the right, he will be out of order in
praising me again when he ought rather to be praised by me, and I must
entreat you to consent to this, and not be jealous, for I have a great
desire to praise the youth.

  Hurrah! cried Agathon, I will rise instantly, that I may be
praised by Socrates.

  The usual way, said Alcibiades; where Socrates is, no one else has
any chance with the fair; and now how readily has he invented a
specious reason for attracting Agathon to himself.

  Agathon arose in order that he might take his place on the couch
by Socrates, when suddenly a band of revellers entered, and spoiled
the order of the banquet. Some one who was going out having left the
door open, they had found their way in, and made themselves at home;
great confusion ensued, and every one was compelled to drink large
quantities of wine. Aristodemus said that Eryximachus, Phaedrus, and
others went away-he himself fell asleep, and as the nights were long
took a good rest: he was awakened towards daybreak by a crowing of
cocks, and when he awoke, the others were either asleep, or had gone
away; there remained only Socrates, Aristophanes, and Agathon, who
were drinking out of a large goblet which they passed round, and
Socrates was discoursing to them. Aristodemus was only half awake, and
he did not hear the beginning of the discourse; the chief thing
which he remembered was Socrates compelling the other two to
acknowledge that the genius of comedy was the same with that of
tragedy, and that the true artist in tragedy was an artist in comedy
also. To this they were constrained to assent, being drowsy, and not
quite following the argument. And first of all Aristophanes dropped
off, then, when the day was already dawning, Agathon. Socrates, having
laid them to sleep, rose to depart; Aristodemus, as his manner was,
following him. At the Lyceum he took a bath, and passed the day as
usual. In the evening he retired to rest at his own home.

                              -THE END-
What a handsome figure of a dragon. No wonder I fall madly in love with the Alani Dragon now, the avatar, it's a gorgeous dragon picture.
Back to Top
TheAlaniDragonRising View Drop Down
AE Moderator
AE Moderator
Spam Fighter

Joined: 09-May-2011
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6074
  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Sep-2013 at 20:57

by Plato


In what relation the Apology of Plato stands to the real defence of
Socrates, there are no means of determining. It certainly agrees in tone
and character with the description of Xenophon, who says in the Memorabilia
that Socrates might have been acquitted 'if in any moderate degree he would
have conciliated the favour of the dicasts;' and who informs us in another
passage, on the testimony of Hermogenes, the friend of Socrates, that he
had no wish to live; and that the divine sign refused to allow him to
prepare a defence, and also that Socrates himself declared this to be
unnecessary, on the ground that all his life long he had been preparing
against that hour. For the speech breathes throughout a spirit of
defiance, (ut non supplex aut reus sed magister aut dominus videretur esse
judicum' (Cic. de Orat.); and the loose and desultory style is an imitation
of the 'accustomed manner' in which Socrates spoke in 'the agora and among
the tables of the money-changers.' The allusion in the Crito may, perhaps,
be adduced as a further evidence of the literal accuracy of some parts.
But in the main it must be regarded as the ideal of Socrates, according to
Plato's conception of him, appearing in the greatest and most public scene
of his life, and in the height of his triumph, when he is weakest, and yet
his mastery over mankind is greatest, and his habitual irony acquires a new
meaning and a sort of tragic pathos in the face of death. The facts of his
life are summed up, and the features of his character are brought out as if
by accident in the course of the defence. The conversational manner, the
seeming want of arrangement, the ironical simplicity, are found to result
in a perfect work of art, which is the portrait of Socrates.

Yet some of the topics may have been actually used by Socrates; and the
recollection of his very words may have rung in the ears of his disciple.
The Apology of Plato may be compared generally with those speeches of
Thucydides in which he has embodied his conception of the lofty character
and policy of the great Pericles, and which at the same time furnish a
commentary on the situation of affairs from the point of view of the
historian. So in the Apology there is an ideal rather than a literal
truth; much is said which was not said, and is only Plato's view of the
situation. Plato was not, like Xenophon, a chronicler of facts; he does
not appear in any of his writings to have aimed at literal accuracy. He is
not therefore to be supplemented from the Memorabilia and Symposium of
Xenophon, who belongs to an entirely different class of writers. The
Apology of Plato is not the report of what Socrates said, but an elaborate
composition, quite as much so in fact as one of the Dialogues. And we may
perhaps even indulge in the fancy that the actual defence of Socrates was
as much greater than the Platonic defence as the master was greater than
the disciple. But in any case, some of the words used by him must have
been remembered, and some of the facts recorded must have actually
occurred. It is significant that Plato is said to have been present at the
defence (Apol.), as he is also said to have been absent at the last scene
in the Phaedo. Is it fanciful to suppose that he meant to give the stamp
of authenticity to the one and not to the other?--especially when we
consider that these two passages are the only ones in which Plato makes
mention of himself. The circumstance that Plato was to be one of his
sureties for the payment of the fine which he proposed has the appearance
of truth. More suspicious is the statement that Socrates received the
first impulse to his favourite calling of cross-examining the world from
the Oracle of Delphi; for he must already have been famous before
Chaerephon went to consult the Oracle (Riddell), and the story is of a kind
which is very likely to have been invented. On the whole we arrive at the
conclusion that the Apology is true to the character of Socrates, but we
cannot show that any single sentence in it was actually spoken by him. It
breathes the spirit of Socrates, but has been cast anew in the mould of

There is not much in the other Dialogues which can be compared with the
Apology. The same recollection of his master may have been present to the
mind of Plato when depicting the sufferings of the Just in the Republic.
The Crito may also be regarded as a sort of appendage to the Apology, in
which Socrates, who has defied the judges, is nevertheless represented as
scrupulously obedient to the laws. The idealization of the sufferer is
carried still further in the Gorgias, in which the thesis is maintained,
that 'to suffer is better than to do evil;' and the art of rhetoric is
described as only useful for the purpose of self-accusation. The
parallelisms which occur in the so-called Apology of Xenophon are not worth
noticing, because the writing in which they are contained is manifestly
spurious. The statements of the Memorabilia respecting the trial and death
of Socrates agree generally with Plato; but they have lost the flavour of
Socratic irony in the narrative of Xenophon.

The Apology or Platonic defence of Socrates is divided into three parts:
1st. The defence properly so called; 2nd. The shorter address in mitigation
of the penalty; 3rd. The last words of prophetic rebuke and exhortation.

The first part commences with an apology for his colloquial style; he is,
as he has always been, the enemy of rhetoric, and knows of no rhetoric but
truth; he will not falsify his character by making a speech. Then he
proceeds to divide his accusers into two classes; first, there is the
nameless accuser--public opinion. All the world from their earliest years
had heard that he was a corrupter of youth, and had seen him caricatured in
the Clouds of Aristophanes. Secondly, there are the professed accusers,
who are but the mouth-piece of the others. The accusations of both might
be summed up in a formula. The first say, 'Socrates is an evil-doer and a
curious person, searching into things under the earth and above the heaven;
and making the worse appear the better cause, and teaching all this to
others.' The second, 'Socrates is an evil-doer and corrupter of the youth,
who does not receive the gods whom the state receives, but introduces other
new divinities.' These last words appear to have been the actual
indictment (compare Xen. Mem.); and the previous formula, which is a
summary of public opinion, assumes the same legal style.

The answer begins by clearing up a confusion. In the representations of
the Comic poets, and in the opinion of the multitude, he had been
identified with the teachers of physical science and with the Sophists.
But this was an error. For both of them he professes a respect in the open
court, which contrasts with his manner of speaking about them in other
places. (Compare for Anaxagoras, Phaedo, Laws; for the Sophists, Meno,
Republic, Tim., Theaet., Soph., etc.) But at the same time he shows that
he is not one of them. Of natural philosophy he knows nothing; not that he
despises such pursuits, but the fact is that he is ignorant of them, and
never says a word about them. Nor is he paid for giving instruction--that
is another mistaken notion:--he has nothing to teach. But he commends
Evenus for teaching virtue at such a 'moderate' rate as five minae.
Something of the 'accustomed irony,' which may perhaps be expected to sleep
in the ear of the multitude, is lurking here.

He then goes on to explain the reason why he is in such an evil name. That
had arisen out of a peculiar mission which he had taken upon himself. The
enthusiastic Chaerephon (probably in anticipation of the answer which he
received) had gone to Delphi and asked the oracle if there was any man
wiser than Socrates; and the answer was, that there was no man wiser. What
could be the meaning of this--that he who knew nothing, and knew that he
knew nothing, should be declared by the oracle to be the wisest of men?
Reflecting upon the answer, he determined to refute it by finding 'a
wiser;' and first he went to the politicians, and then to the poets, and
then to the craftsmen, but always with the same result--he found that they
knew nothing, or hardly anything more than himself; and that the little
advantage which in some cases they possessed was more than counter-balanced
by their conceit of knowledge. He knew nothing, and knew that he knew
nothing: they knew little or nothing, and imagined that they knew all
things. Thus he had passed his life as a sort of missionary in detecting
the pretended wisdom of mankind; and this occupation had quite absorbed him
and taken him away both from public and private affairs. Young men of the
richer sort had made a pastime of the same pursuit, 'which was not
unamusing.' And hence bitter enmities had arisen; the professors of
knowledge had revenged themselves by calling him a villainous corrupter of
youth, and by repeating the commonplaces about atheism and materialism and
sophistry, which are the stock-accusations against all philosophers when
there is nothing else to be said of them.

The second accusation he meets by interrogating Meletus, who is present and
can be interrogated. 'If he is the corrupter, who is the improver of the
citizens?' (Compare Meno.) 'All men everywhere.' But how absurd, how
contrary to analogy is this! How inconceivable too, that he should make
the citizens worse when he has to live with them. This surely cannot be
intentional; and if unintentional, he ought to have been instructed by
Meletus, and not accused in the court.

But there is another part of the indictment which says that he teaches men
not to receive the gods whom the city receives, and has other new gods.
'Is that the way in which he is supposed to corrupt the youth?' 'Yes, it
is.' 'Has he only new gods, or none at all?' 'None at all.' 'What, not
even the sun and moon?' 'No; why, he says that the sun is a stone, and the
moon earth.' That, replies Socrates, is the old confusion about
Anaxagoras; the Athenian people are not so ignorant as to attribute to the
influence of Socrates notions which have found their way into the drama,
and may be learned at the theatre. Socrates undertakes to show that
Meletus (rather unjustifiably) has been compounding a riddle in this part
of the indictment: 'There are no gods, but Socrates believes in the
existence of the sons of gods, which is absurd.'

Leaving Meletus, who has had enough words spent upon him, he returns to the
original accusation. The question may be asked, Why will he persist in
following a profession which leads him to death? Why?--because he must
remain at his post where the god has placed him, as he remained at
Potidaea, and Amphipolis, and Delium, where the generals placed him.
Besides, he is not so overwise as to imagine that he knows whether death is
a good or an evil; and he is certain that desertion of his duty is an evil.
Anytus is quite right in saying that they should never have indicted him if
they meant to let him go. For he will certainly obey God rather than man;
and will continue to preach to all men of all ages the necessity of virtue
and improvement; and if they refuse to listen to him he will still
persevere and reprove them. This is his way of corrupting the youth, which
he will not cease to follow in obedience to the god, even if a thousand
deaths await him.

He is desirous that they should let him live--not for his own sake, but for
theirs; because he is their heaven-sent friend (and they will never have
such another), or, as he may be ludicrously described, he is the gadfly who
stirs the generous steed into motion. Why then has he never taken part in
public affairs? Because the familiar divine voice has hindered him; if he
had been a public man, and had fought for the right, as he would certainly
have fought against the many, he would not have lived, and could therefore
have done no good. Twice in public matters he has risked his life for the
sake of justice--once at the trial of the generals; and again in resistance
to the tyrannical commands of the Thirty.

But, though not a public man, he has passed his days in instructing the
citizens without fee or reward--this was his mission. Whether his
disciples have turned out well or ill, he cannot justly be charged with the
result, for he never promised to teach them anything. They might come if
they liked, and they might stay away if they liked: and they did come,
because they found an amusement in hearing the pretenders to wisdom
detected. If they have been corrupted, their elder relatives (if not
themselves) might surely come into court and witness against him, and there
is an opportunity still for them to appear. But their fathers and brothers
all appear in court (including 'this' Plato), to witness on his behalf; and
if their relatives are corrupted, at least they are uncorrupted; 'and they
are my witnesses. For they know that I am speaking the truth, and that
Meletus is lying.'

This is about all that he has to say. He will not entreat the judges to
spare his life; neither will he present a spectacle of weeping children,
although he, too, is not made of 'rock or oak.' Some of the judges
themselves may have complied with this practice on similar occasions, and
he trusts that they will not be angry with him for not following their
example. But he feels that such conduct brings discredit on the name of
Athens: he feels too, that the judge has sworn not to give away justice;
and he cannot be guilty of the impiety of asking the judge to break his
oath, when he is himself being tried for impiety.

As he expected, and probably intended, he is convicted. And now the tone
of the speech, instead of being more conciliatory, becomes more lofty and
commanding. Anytus proposes death as the penalty: and what counter-
proposition shall he make? He, the benefactor of the Athenian people,
whose whole life has been spent in doing them good, should at least have
the Olympic victor's reward of maintenance in the Prytaneum. Or why should
he propose any counter-penalty when he does not know whether death, which
Anytus proposes, is a good or an evil? And he is certain that imprisonment
is an evil, exile is an evil. Loss of money might be an evil, but then he
has none to give; perhaps he can make up a mina. Let that be the penalty,
or, if his friends wish, thirty minae; for which they will be excellent

(He is condemned to death.)

He is an old man already, and the Athenians will gain nothing but disgrace
by depriving him of a few years of life. Perhaps he could have escaped, if
he had chosen to throw down his arms and entreat for his life. But he does
not at all repent of the manner of his defence; he would rather die in his
own fashion than live in theirs. For the penalty of unrighteousness is
swifter than death; that penalty has already overtaken his accusers as
death will soon overtake him.

And now, as one who is about to die, he will prophesy to them. They have
put him to death in order to escape the necessity of giving an account of
their lives. But his death 'will be the seed' of many disciples who will
convince them of their evil ways, and will come forth to reprove them in
harsher terms, because they are younger and more inconsiderate.

He would like to say a few words, while there is time, to those who would
have acquitted him. He wishes them to know that the divine sign never
interrupted him in the course of his defence; the reason of which, as he
conjectures, is that the death to which he is going is a good and not an
evil. For either death is a long sleep, the best of sleeps, or a journey
to another world in which the souls of the dead are gathered together, and
in which there may be a hope of seeing the heroes of old--in which, too,
there are just judges; and as all are immortal, there can be no fear of any
one suffering death for his opinions.

Nothing evil can happen to the good man either in life or death, and his
own death has been permitted by the gods, because it was better for him to
depart; and therefore he forgives his judges because they have done him no
harm, although they never meant to do him any good.

He has a last request to make to them--that they will trouble his sons as
he has troubled them, if they appear to prefer riches to virtue, or to
think themselves something when they are nothing.


'Few persons will be found to wish that Socrates should have defended
himself otherwise,'--if, as we must add, his defence was that with which
Plato has provided him. But leaving this question, which does not admit of
a precise solution, we may go on to ask what was the impression which Plato
in the Apology intended to give of the character and conduct of his master
in the last great scene? Did he intend to represent him (1) as employing
sophistries; (2) as designedly irritating the judges? Or are these
sophistries to be regarded as belonging to the age in which he lived and to
his personal character, and this apparent haughtiness as flowing from the
natural elevation of his position?

For example, when he says that it is absurd to suppose that one man is the
corrupter and all the rest of the world the improvers of the youth; or,
when he argues that he never could have corrupted the men with whom he had
to live; or, when he proves his belief in the gods because he believes in
the sons of gods, is he serious or jesting? It may be observed that these
sophisms all occur in his cross-examination of Meletus, who is easily
foiled and mastered in the hands of the great dialectician. Perhaps he
regarded these answers as good enough for his accuser, of whom he makes
very light. Also there is a touch of irony in them, which takes them out
of the category of sophistry. (Compare Euthyph.)

That the manner in which he defends himself about the lives of his
disciples is not satisfactory, can hardly be denied. Fresh in the memory
of the Athenians, and detestable as they deserved to be to the newly
restored democracy, were the names of Alcibiades, Critias, Charmides. It
is obviously not a sufficient answer that Socrates had never professed to
teach them anything, and is therefore not justly chargeable with their
crimes. Yet the defence, when taken out of this ironical form, is
doubtless sound: that his teaching had nothing to do with their evil
lives. Here, then, the sophistry is rather in form than in substance,
though we might desire that to such a serious charge Socrates had given a
more serious answer.

Truly characteristic of Socrates is another point in his answer, which may
also be regarded as sophistical. He says that 'if he has corrupted the
youth, he must have corrupted them involuntarily.' But if, as Socrates
argues, all evil is involuntary, then all criminals ought to be admonished
and not punished. In these words the Socratic doctrine of the
involuntariness of evil is clearly intended to be conveyed. Here again, as
in the former instance, the defence of Socrates is untrue practically, but
may be true in some ideal or transcendental sense. The commonplace reply,
that if he had been guilty of corrupting the youth their relations would
surely have witnessed against him, with which he concludes this part of his
defence, is more satisfactory.

Again, when Socrates argues that he must believe in the gods because he
believes in the sons of gods, we must remember that this is a refutation
not of the original indictment, which is consistent enough--'Socrates does
not receive the gods whom the city receives, and has other new divinities'
--but of the interpretation put upon the words by Meletus, who has affirmed
that he is a downright atheist. To this Socrates fairly answers, in
accordance with the ideas of the time, that a downright atheist cannot
believe in the sons of gods or in divine things. The notion that demons or
lesser divinities are the sons of gods is not to be regarded as ironical or
sceptical. He is arguing 'ad hominem' according to the notions of
mythology current in his age. Yet he abstains from saying that he believed
in the gods whom the State approved. He does not defend himself, as
Xenophon has defended him, by appealing to his practice of religion.
Probably he neither wholly believed, nor disbelieved, in the existence of
the popular gods; he had no means of knowing about them. According to
Plato (compare Phaedo; Symp.), as well as Xenophon (Memor.), he was
punctual in the performance of the least religious duties; and he must have
believed in his own oracular sign, of which he seemed to have an internal
witness. But the existence of Apollo or Zeus, or the other gods whom the
State approves, would have appeared to him both uncertain and unimportant
in comparison of the duty of self-examination, and of those principles of
truth and right which he deemed to be the foundation of religion. (Compare
Phaedr.; Euthyph.; Republic.)

The second question, whether Plato meant to represent Socrates as braving
or irritating his judges, must also be answered in the negative. His
irony, his superiority, his audacity, 'regarding not the person of man,'
necessarily flow out of the loftiness of his situation. He is not acting a
part upon a great occasion, but he is what he has been all his life long,
'a king of men.' He would rather not appear insolent, if he could avoid it
(ouch os authadizomenos touto lego). Neither is he desirous of hastening
his own end, for life and death are simply indifferent to him. But such a
defence as would be acceptable to his judges and might procure an
acquittal, it is not in his nature to make. He will not say or do anything
that might pervert the course of justice; he cannot have his tongue bound
even 'in the throat of death.' With his accusers he will only fence and
play, as he had fenced with other 'improvers of youth,' answering the
Sophist according to his sophistry all his life long. He is serious when
he is speaking of his own mission, which seems to distinguish him from all
other reformers of mankind, and originates in an accident. The dedication
of himself to the improvement of his fellow-citizens is not so remarkable
as the ironical spirit in which he goes about doing good only in
vindication of the credit of the oracle, and in the vain hope of finding a
wiser man than himself. Yet this singular and almost accidental character
of his mission agrees with the divine sign which, according to our notions,
is equally accidental and irrational, and is nevertheless accepted by him
as the guiding principle of his life. Socrates is nowhere represented to
us as a freethinker or sceptic. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity
when he speculates on the possibility of seeing and knowing the heroes of
the Trojan war in another world. On the other hand, his hope of
immortality is uncertain;--he also conceives of death as a long sleep (in
this respect differing from the Phaedo), and at last falls back on
resignation to the divine will, and the certainty that no evil can happen
to the good man either in life or death. His absolute truthfulness seems
to hinder him from asserting positively more than this; and he makes no
attempt to veil his ignorance in mythology and figures of speech. The
gentleness of the first part of the speech contrasts with the aggravated,
almost threatening, tone of the conclusion. He characteristically remarks
that he will not speak as a rhetorician, that is to say, he will not make a
regular defence such as Lysias or one of the orators might have composed
for him, or, according to some accounts, did compose for him. But he first
procures himself a hearing by conciliatory words. He does not attack the
Sophists; for they were open to the same charges as himself; they were
equally ridiculed by the Comic poets, and almost equally hateful to Anytus
and Meletus. Yet incidentally the antagonism between Socrates and the
Sophists is allowed to appear. He is poor and they are rich; his
profession that he teaches nothing is opposed to their readiness to teach
all things; his talking in the marketplace to their private instructions;
his tarry-at-home life to their wandering from city to city. The tone
which he assumes towards them is one of real friendliness, but also of
concealed irony. Towards Anaxagoras, who had disappointed him in his hopes
of learning about mind and nature, he shows a less kindly feeling, which is
also the feeling of Plato in other passages (Laws). But Anaxagoras had
been dead thirty years, and was beyond the reach of persecution.

It has been remarked that the prophecy of a new generation of teachers who
would rebuke and exhort the Athenian people in harsher and more violent
terms was, as far as we know, never fulfilled. No inference can be drawn
from this circumstance as to the probability of the words attributed to him
having been actually uttered. They express the aspiration of the first
martyr of philosophy, that he would leave behind him many followers,
accompanied by the not unnatural feeling that they would be fiercer and
more inconsiderate in their words when emancipated from his control.

The above remarks must be understood as applying with any degree of
certainty to the Platonic Socrates only. For, although these or similar
words may have been spoken by Socrates himself, we cannot exclude the
possibility, that like so much else, e.g. the wisdom of Critias, the poem
of Solon, the virtues of Charmides, they may have been due only to the
imagination of Plato. The arguments of those who maintain that the Apology
was composed during the process, resting on no evidence, do not require a
serious refutation. Nor are the reasonings of Schleiermacher, who argues
that the Platonic defence is an exact or nearly exact reproduction of the
words of Socrates, partly because Plato would not have been guilty of the
impiety of altering them, and also because many points of the defence might
have been improved and strengthened, at all more conclusive. (See English
Translation.) What effect the death of Socrates produced on the mind of
Plato, we cannot certainly determine; nor can we say how he would or must
have written under the circumstances. We observe that the enmity of
Aristophanes to Socrates does not prevent Plato from introducing them
together in the Symposium engaged in friendly intercourse. Nor is there
any trace in the Dialogues of an attempt to make Anytus or Meletus
personally odious in the eyes of the Athenian public.




Translated by Benjamin Jowett

How you, O Athenians, have been affected by my accusers, I cannot tell; but
I know that they almost made me forget who I was--so persuasively did they
speak; and yet they have hardly uttered a word of truth. But of the many
falsehoods told by them, there was one which quite amazed me;--I mean when
they said that you should be upon your guard and not allow yourselves to be
deceived by the force of my eloquence. To say this, when they were certain
to be detected as soon as I opened my lips and proved myself to be anything
but a great speaker, did indeed appear to me most shameless--unless by the
force of eloquence they mean the force of truth; for is such is their
meaning, I admit that I am eloquent. But in how different a way from
theirs! Well, as I was saying, they have scarcely spoken the truth at all;
but from me you shall hear the whole truth: not, however, delivered after
their manner in a set oration duly ornamented with words and phrases. No,
by heaven! but I shall use the words and arguments which occur to me at the
moment; for I am confident in the justice of my cause (Or, I am certain
that I am right in taking this course.): at my time of life I ought not to
be appearing before you, O men of Athens, in the character of a juvenile
orator--let no one expect it of me. And I must beg of you to grant me a
favour:--If I defend myself in my accustomed manner, and you hear me using
the words which I have been in the habit of using in the agora, at the
tables of the money-changers, or anywhere else, I would ask you not to be
surprised, and not to interrupt me on this account. For I am more than
seventy years of age, and appearing now for the first time in a court of
law, I am quite a stranger to the language of the place; and therefore I
would have you regard me as if I were really a stranger, whom you would
excuse if he spoke in his native tongue, and after the fashion of his
country:--Am I making an unfair request of you? Never mind the manner,
which may or may not be good; but think only of the truth of my words, and
give heed to that: let the speaker speak truly and the judge decide

And first, I have to reply to the older charges and to my first accusers,
and then I will go on to the later ones. For of old I have had many
accusers, who have accused me falsely to you during many years; and I am
more afraid of them than of Anytus and his associates, who are dangerous,
too, in their own way. But far more dangerous are the others, who began
when you were children, and took possession of your minds with their
falsehoods, telling of one Socrates, a wise man, who speculated about the
heaven above, and searched into the earth beneath, and made the worse
appear the better cause. The disseminators of this tale are the accusers
whom I dread; for their hearers are apt to fancy that such enquirers do not
believe in the existence of the gods. And they are many, and their charges
against me are of ancient date, and they were made by them in the days when
you were more impressible than you are now--in childhood, or it may have
been in youth--and the cause when heard went by default, for there was none
to answer. And hardest of all, I do not know and cannot tell the names of
my accusers; unless in the chance case of a Comic poet. All who from envy
and malice have persuaded you--some of them having first convinced
themselves--all this class of men are most difficult to deal with; for I
cannot have them up here, and cross-examine them, and therefore I must
simply fight with shadows in my own defence, and argue when there is no one
who answers. I will ask you then to assume with me, as I was saying, that
my opponents are of two kinds; one recent, the other ancient: and I hope
that you will see the propriety of my answering the latter first, for these
accusations you heard long before the others, and much oftener.

Well, then, I must make my defence, and endeavour to clear away in a short
time, a slander which has lasted a long time. May I succeed, if to succeed
be for my good and yours, or likely to avail me in my cause! The task is
not an easy one; I quite understand the nature of it. And so leaving the
event with God, in obedience to the law I will now make my defence.

I will begin at the beginning, and ask what is the accusation which has
given rise to the slander of me, and in fact has encouraged Meletus to
proof this charge against me. Well, what do the slanderers say? They
shall be my prosecutors, and I will sum up their words in an affidavit:
'Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things
under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better
cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others.' Such is the
nature of the accusation: it is just what you have yourselves seen in the
comedy of Aristophanes (Aristoph., Clouds.), who has introduced a man whom
he calls Socrates, going about and saying that he walks in air, and talking
a deal of nonsense concerning matters of which I do not pretend to know
either much or little--not that I mean to speak disparagingly of any one
who is a student of natural philosophy. I should be very sorry if Meletus
could bring so grave a charge against me. But the simple truth is, O
Athenians, that I have nothing to do with physical speculations. Very many
of those here present are witnesses to the truth of this, and to them I
appeal. Speak then, you who have heard me, and tell your neighbours
whether any of you have ever known me hold forth in few words or in many
upon such matters...You hear their answer. And from what they say of this
part of the charge you will be able to judge of the truth of the rest.

As little foundation is there for the report that I am a teacher, and take
money; this accusation has no more truth in it than the other. Although,
if a man were really able to instruct mankind, to receive money for giving
instruction would, in my opinion, be an honour to him. There is Gorgias of
Leontium, and Prodicus of Ceos, and Hippias of Elis, who go the round of
the cities, and are able to persuade the young men to leave their own
citizens by whom they might be taught for nothing, and come to them whom
they not only pay, but are thankful if they may be allowed to pay them.
There is at this time a Parian philosopher residing in Athens, of whom I
have heard; and I came to hear of him in this way:--I came across a man who
has spent a world of money on the Sophists, Callias, the son of Hipponicus,
and knowing that he had sons, I asked him: 'Callias,' I said, 'if your two
sons were foals or calves, there would be no difficulty in finding some one
to put over them; we should hire a trainer of horses, or a farmer probably,
who would improve and perfect them in their own proper virtue and
excellence; but as they are human beings, whom are you thinking of placing
over them? Is there any one who understands human and political virtue?
You must have thought about the matter, for you have sons; is there any
one?' 'There is,' he said. 'Who is he?' said I; 'and of what country? and
what does he charge?' 'Evenus the Parian,' he replied; 'he is the man, and
his charge is five minae.' Happy is Evenus, I said to myself, if he really
has this wisdom, and teaches at such a moderate charge. Had I the same, I
should have been very proud and conceited; but the truth is that I have no
knowledge of the kind.

I dare say, Athenians, that some one among you will reply, 'Yes, Socrates,
but what is the origin of these accusations which are brought against you;
there must have been something strange which you have been doing? All
these rumours and this talk about you would never have arisen if you had
been like other men: tell us, then, what is the cause of them, for we
should be sorry to judge hastily of you.' Now I regard this as a fair
challenge, and I will endeavour to explain to you the reason why I am
called wise and have such an evil fame. Please to attend then. And
although some of you may think that I am joking, I declare that I will tell
you the entire truth. Men of Athens, this reputation of mine has come of a
certain sort of wisdom which I possess. If you ask me what kind of wisdom,
I reply, wisdom such as may perhaps be attained by man, for to that extent
I am inclined to believe that I am wise; whereas the persons of whom I was
speaking have a superhuman wisdom which I may fail to describe, because I
have it not myself; and he who says that I have, speaks falsely, and is
taking away my character. And here, O men of Athens, I must beg you not to
interrupt me, even if I seem to say something extravagant. For the word
which I will speak is not mine. I will refer you to a witness who is
worthy of credit; that witness shall be the God of Delphi--he will tell you
about my wisdom, if I have any, and of what sort it is. You must have
known Chaerephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend of
yours, for he shared in the recent exile of the people, and returned with
you. Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his doings,
and he went to Delphi and boldly asked the oracle to tell him whether--as I
was saying, I must beg you not to interrupt--he asked the oracle to tell
him whether anyone was wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess
answered, that there was no man wiser. Chaerephon is dead himself; but his
brother, who is in court, will confirm the truth of what I am saying.

Why do I mention this? Because I am going to explain to you why I have
such an evil name. When I heard the answer, I said to myself, What can the
god mean? and what is the interpretation of his riddle? for I know that I
have no wisdom, small or great. What then can he mean when he says that I
am the wisest of men? And yet he is a god, and cannot lie; that would be
against his nature. After long consideration, I thought of a method of
trying the question. I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser
than myself, then I might go to the god with a refutation in my hand. I
should say to him, 'Here is a man who is wiser than I am; but you said that
I was the wisest.' Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation of
wisdom, and observed him--his name I need not mention; he was a politician
whom I selected for examination--and the result was as follows: When I
began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really
wise, although he was thought wise by many, and still wiser by himself; and
thereupon I tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was
not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity
was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying
to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of
us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is,--
for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think
that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the
advantage of him. Then I went to another who had still higher pretensions
to wisdom, and my conclusion was exactly the same. Whereupon I made
another enemy of him, and of many others besides him.

Then I went to one man after another, being not unconscious of the enmity
which I provoked, and I lamented and feared this: but necessity was laid
upon me,--the word of God, I thought, ought to be considered first. And I
said to myself, Go I must to all who appear to know, and find out the
meaning of the oracle. And I swear to you, Athenians, by the dog I swear!
--for I must tell you the truth--the result of my mission was just this: I
found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that
others less esteemed were really wiser and better. I will tell you the
tale of my wanderings and of the 'Herculean' labours, as I may call them,
which I endured only to find at last the oracle irrefutable. After the
politicians, I went to the poets; tragic, dithyrambic, and all sorts. And
there, I said to myself, you will be instantly detected; now you will find
out that you are more ignorant than they are. Accordingly, I took them
some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what
was the meaning of them--thinking that they would teach me something. Will
you believe me? I am almost ashamed to confess the truth, but I must say
that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked better
about their poetry than they did themselves. Then I knew that not by
wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they
are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not
understand the meaning of them. The poets appeared to me to be much in the
same case; and I further observed that upon the strength of their poetry
they believed themselves to be the wisest of men in other things in which
they were not wise. So I departed, conceiving myself to be superior to
them for the same reason that I was superior to the politicians.

At last I went to the artisans. I was conscious that I knew nothing at
all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and here
I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant,
and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even
the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets;--because they were
good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters,
and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom; and therefore I asked
myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was,
neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both;
and I made answer to myself and to the oracle that I was better off as I

This inquisition has led to my having many enemies of the worst and most
dangerous kind, and has given occasion also to many calumnies. And I am
called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom
which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that
God only is wise; and by his answer he intends to show that the wisdom of
men is worth little or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only
using my name by way of illustration, as if he said, He, O men, is the
wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth
nothing. And so I go about the world, obedient to the god, and search and
make enquiry into the wisdom of any one, whether citizen or stranger, who
appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the
oracle I show him that he is not wise; and my occupation quite absorbs me,
and I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to
any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion
to the god.

There is another thing:--young men of the richer classes, who have not much
to do, come about me of their own accord; they like to hear the pretenders
examined, and they often imitate me, and proceed to examine others; there
are plenty of persons, as they quickly discover, who think that they know
something, but really know little or nothing; and then those who are
examined by them instead of being angry with themselves are angry with me:
This confounded Socrates, they say; this villainous misleader of youth!--
and then if somebody asks them, Why, what evil does he practise or teach?
they do not know, and cannot tell; but in order that they may not appear to
be at a loss, they repeat the ready-made charges which are used against all
philosophers about teaching things up in the clouds and under the earth,
and having no gods, and making the worse appear the better cause; for they
do not like to confess that their pretence of knowledge has been detected--
which is the truth; and as they are numerous and ambitious and energetic,
and are drawn up in battle array and have persuasive tongues, they have
filled your ears with their loud and inveterate calumnies. And this is the
reason why my three accusers, Meletus and Anytus and Lycon, have set upon
me; Meletus, who has a quarrel with me on behalf of the poets; Anytus, on
behalf of the craftsmen and politicians; Lycon, on behalf of the
rhetoricians: and as I said at the beginning, I cannot expect to get rid
of such a mass of calumny all in a moment. And this, O men of Athens, is
the truth and the whole truth; I have concealed nothing, I have dissembled
nothing. And yet, I know that my plainness of speech makes them hate me,
and what is their hatred but a proof that I am speaking the truth?--Hence
has arisen the prejudice against me; and this is the reason of it, as you
will find out either in this or in any future enquiry.

I have said enough in my defence against the first class of my accusers; I
turn to the second class. They are headed by Meletus, that good man and
true lover of his country, as he calls himself. Against these, too, I must
try to make a defence:--Let their affidavit be read: it contains something
of this kind: It says that Socrates is a doer of evil, who corrupts the
youth; and who does not believe in the gods of the state, but has other new
divinities of his own. Such is the charge; and now let us examine the
particular counts. He says that I am a doer of evil, and corrupt the
youth; but I say, O men of Athens, that Meletus is a doer of evil, in that
he pretends to be in earnest when he is only in jest, and is so eager to
bring men to trial from a pretended zeal and interest about matters in
which he really never had the smallest interest. And the truth of this I
will endeavour to prove to you.

Come hither, Meletus, and let me ask a question of you. You think a great
deal about the improvement of youth?

Yes, I do.

Tell the judges, then, who is their improver; for you must know, as you
have taken the pains to discover their corrupter, and are citing and
accusing me before them. Speak, then, and tell the judges who their
improver is.--Observe, Meletus, that you are silent, and have nothing to
say. But is not this rather disgraceful, and a very considerable proof of
what I was saying, that you have no interest in the matter? Speak up,
friend, and tell us who their improver is.

The laws.

But that, my good sir, is not my meaning. I want to know who the person
is, who, in the first place, knows the laws.

The judges, Socrates, who are present in court.

What, do you mean to say, Meletus, that they are able to instruct and
improve youth?

Certainly they are.

What, all of them, or some only and not others?

All of them.

By the goddess Here, that is good news! There are plenty of improvers,
then. And what do you say of the audience,--do they improve them?

Yes, they do.

And the senators?

Yes, the senators improve them.

But perhaps the members of the assembly corrupt them?--or do they too
improve them?

They improve them.

Then every Athenian improves and elevates them; all with the exception of
myself; and I alone am their corrupter? Is that what you affirm?

That is what I stoutly affirm.

I am very unfortunate if you are right. But suppose I ask you a question:
How about horses? Does one man do them harm and all the world good? Is
not the exact opposite the truth? One man is able to do them good, or at
least not many;--the trainer of horses, that is to say, does them good, and
others who have to do with them rather injure them? Is not that true,
Meletus, of horses, or of any other animals? Most assuredly it is; whether
you and Anytus say yes or no. Happy indeed would be the condition of youth
if they had one corrupter only, and all the rest of the world were their
improvers. But you, Meletus, have sufficiently shown that you never had a
thought about the young: your carelessness is seen in your not caring
about the very things which you bring against me.

And now, Meletus, I will ask you another question--by Zeus I will: Which
is better, to live among bad citizens, or among good ones? Answer, friend,
I say; the question is one which may be easily answered. Do not the good
do their neighbours good, and the bad do them evil?


And is there anyone who would rather be injured than benefited by those who
live with him? Answer, my good friend, the law requires you to answer--
does any one like to be injured?

Certainly not.

And when you accuse me of corrupting and deteriorating the youth, do you
allege that I corrupt them intentionally or unintentionally?

Intentionally, I say.

But you have just admitted that the good do their neighbours good, and the
evil do them evil. Now, is that a truth which your superior wisdom has
recognized thus early in life, and am I, at my age, in such darkness and
ignorance as not to know that if a man with whom I have to live is
corrupted by me, I am very likely to be harmed by him; and yet I corrupt
him, and intentionally, too--so you say, although neither I nor any other
human being is ever likely to be convinced by you. But either I do not
corrupt them, or I corrupt them unintentionally; and on either view of the
case you lie. If my offence is unintentional, the law has no cognizance of
unintentional offences: you ought to have taken me privately, and warned
and admonished me; for if I had been better advised, I should have left off
doing what I only did unintentionally--no doubt I should; but you would
have nothing to say to me and refused to teach me. And now you bring me up
in this court, which is a place not of instruction, but of punishment.

It will be very clear to you, Athenians, as I was saying, that Meletus has
no care at all, great or small, about the matter. But still I should like
to know, Meletus, in what I am affirmed to corrupt the young. I suppose
you mean, as I infer from your indictment, that I teach them not to
acknowledge the gods which the state acknowledges, but some other new
divinities or spiritual agencies in their stead. These are the lessons by
which I corrupt the youth, as you say.

Yes, that I say emphatically.

Then, by the gods, Meletus, of whom we are speaking, tell me and the court,
in somewhat plainer terms, what you mean! for I do not as yet understand
whether you affirm that I teach other men to acknowledge some gods, and
therefore that I do believe in gods, and am not an entire atheist--this you
do not lay to my charge,--but only you say that they are not the same gods
which the city recognizes--the charge is that they are different gods. Or,
do you mean that I am an atheist simply, and a teacher of atheism?

I mean the latter--that you are a complete atheist.

What an extraordinary statement! Why do you think so, Meletus? Do you
mean that I do not believe in the godhead of the sun or moon, like other

I assure you, judges, that he does not: for he says that the sun is stone,
and the moon earth.

Friend Meletus, you think that you are accusing Anaxagoras: and you have
but a bad opinion of the judges, if you fancy them illiterate to such a
degree as not to know that these doctrines are found in the books of
Anaxagoras the Clazomenian, which are full of them. And so, forsooth, the
youth are said to be taught them by Socrates, when there are not
unfrequently exhibitions of them at the theatre (Probably in allusion to
Aristophanes who caricatured, and to Euripides who borrowed the notions of
Anaxagoras, as well as to other dramatic poets.) (price of admission one
drachma at the most); and they might pay their money, and laugh at Socrates
if he pretends to father these extraordinary views. And so, Meletus, you
really think that I do not believe in any god?

I swear by Zeus that you believe absolutely in none at all.

Nobody will believe you, Meletus, and I am pretty sure that you do not
believe yourself. I cannot help thinking, men of Athens, that Meletus is
reckless and impudent, and that he has written this indictment in a spirit
of mere wantonness and youthful bravado. Has he not compounded a riddle,
thinking to try me? He said to himself:--I shall see whether the wise
Socrates will discover my facetious contradiction, or whether I shall be
able to deceive him and the rest of them. For he certainly does appear to
me to contradict himself in the indictment as much as if he said that
Socrates is guilty of not believing in the gods, and yet of believing in
them--but this is not like a person who is in earnest.

I should like you, O men of Athens, to join me in examining what I conceive
to be his inconsistency; and do you, Meletus, answer. And I must remind
the audience of my request that they would not make a disturbance if I
speak in my accustomed manner:

Did ever man, Meletus, believe in the existence of human things, and not of
human beings?...I wish, men of Athens, that he would answer, and not be
always trying to get up an interruption. Did ever any man believe in
horsemanship, and not in horses? or in flute-playing, and not in flute-
players? No, my friend; I will answer to you and to the court, as you
refuse to answer for yourself. There is no man who ever did. But now
please to answer the next question: Can a man believe in spiritual and
divine agencies, and not in spirits or demigods?

He cannot.

How lucky I am to have extracted that answer, by the assistance of the
court! But then you swear in the indictment that I teach and believe in
divine or spiritual agencies (new or old, no matter for that); at any rate,
I believe in spiritual agencies,--so you say and swear in the affidavit;
and yet if I believe in divine beings, how can I help believing in spirits
or demigods;--must I not? To be sure I must; and therefore I may assume
that your silence gives consent. Now what are spirits or demigods? Are
they not either gods or the sons of gods?

Certainly they are.

But this is what I call the facetious riddle invented by you: the demigods
or spirits are gods, and you say first that I do not believe in gods, and
then again that I do believe in gods; that is, if I believe in demigods.
For if the demigods are the illegitimate sons of gods, whether by the
nymphs or by any other mothers, of whom they are said to be the sons--what
human being will ever believe that there are no gods if they are the sons
of gods? You might as well affirm the existence of mules, and deny that of
horses and asses. Such nonsense, Meletus, could only have been intended by
you to make trial of me. You have put this into the indictment because you
had nothing real of which to accuse me. But no one who has a particle of
understanding will ever be convinced by you that the same men can believe
in divine and superhuman things, and yet not believe that there are gods
and demigods and heroes.

I have said enough in answer to the charge of Meletus: any elaborate
defence is unnecessary, but I know only too well how many are the enmities
which I have incurred, and this is what will be my destruction if I am
destroyed;--not Meletus, nor yet Anytus, but the envy and detraction of the
world, which has been the death of many good men, and will probably be the
death of many more; there is no danger of my being the last of them.

Some one will say: And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life
which is likely to bring you to an untimely end? To him I may fairly
answer: There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not
to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider
whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong--acting the part of a
good man or of a bad. Whereas, upon your view, the heroes who fell at Troy
were not good for much, and the son of Thetis above all, who altogether
despised danger in comparison with disgrace; and when he was so eager to
slay Hector, his goddess mother said to him, that if he avenged his
companion Patroclus, and slew Hector, he would die himself--'Fate,' she
said, in these or the like words, 'waits for you next after Hector;' he,
receiving this warning, utterly despised danger and death, and instead of
fearing them, feared rather to live in dishonour, and not to avenge his
friend. 'Let me die forthwith,' he replies, 'and be avenged of my enemy,
rather than abide here by the beaked ships, a laughing-stock and a burden
of the earth.' Had Achilles any thought of death and danger? For wherever
a man's place is, whether the place which he has chosen or that in which he
has been placed by a commander, there he ought to remain in the hour of
danger; he should not think of death or of anything but of disgrace. And
this, O men of Athens, is a true saying.

Strange, indeed, would be my conduct, O men of Athens, if I who, when I was
ordered by the generals whom you chose to command me at Potidaea and
Amphipolis and Delium, remained where they placed me, like any other man,
facing death--if now, when, as I conceive and imagine, God orders me to
fulfil the philosopher's mission of searching into myself and other men, I
were to desert my post through fear of death, or any other fear; that would
indeed be strange, and I might justly be arraigned in court for denying the
existence of the gods, if I disobeyed the oracle because I was afraid of
death, fancying that I was wise when I was not wise. For the fear of death
is indeed the pretence of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being a pretence of
knowing the unknown; and no one knows whether death, which men in their
fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. Is
not this ignorance of a disgraceful sort, the ignorance which is the
conceit that a man knows what he does not know? And in this respect only I
believe myself to differ from men in general, and may perhaps claim to be
wiser than they are:--that whereas I know but little of the world below, I
do not suppose that I know: but I do know that injustice and disobedience
to a better, whether God or man, is evil and dishonourable, and I will
never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil. And
therefore if you let me go now, and are not convinced by Anytus, who said
that since I had been prosecuted I must be put to death; (or if not that I
ought never to have been prosecuted at all); and that if I escape now, your
sons will all be utterly ruined by listening to my words--if you say to me,
Socrates, this time we will not mind Anytus, and you shall be let off, but
upon one condition, that you are not to enquire and speculate in this way
any more, and that if you are caught doing so again you shall die;--if this
was the condition on which you let me go, I should reply: Men of Athens, I
honour and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have
life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of
philosophy, exhorting any one whom I meet and saying to him after my
manner: You, my friend,--a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city
of Athens,--are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money
and honour and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and
the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at
all? And if the person with whom I am arguing, says: Yes, but I do care;
then I do not leave him or let him go at once; but I proceed to interrogate
and examine and cross-examine him, and if I think that he has no virtue in
him, but only says that he has, I reproach him with undervaluing the
greater, and overvaluing the less. And I shall repeat the same words to
every one whom I meet, young and old, citizen and alien, but especially to
the citizens, inasmuch as they are my brethren. For know that this is the
command of God; and I believe that no greater good has ever happened in the
state than my service to the God. For I do nothing but go about persuading
you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your
properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of
the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from
virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private.
This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth,
I am a mischievous person. But if any one says that this is not my
teaching, he is speaking an untruth. Wherefore, O men of Athens, I say to
you, do as Anytus bids or not as Anytus bids, and either acquit me or not;
but whichever you do, understand that I shall never alter my ways, not even
if I have to die many times.

Men of Athens, do not interrupt, but hear me; there was an understanding
between us that you should hear me to the end: I have something more to
say, at which you may be inclined to cry out; but I believe that to hear me
will be good for you, and therefore I beg that you will not cry out. I
would have you know, that if you kill such an one as I am, you will injure
yourselves more than you will injure me. Nothing will injure me, not
Meletus nor yet Anytus--they cannot, for a bad man is not permitted to
injure a better than himself. I do not deny that Anytus may, perhaps, kill
him, or drive him into exile, or deprive him of civil rights; and he may
imagine, and others may imagine, that he is inflicting a great injury upon
him: but there I do not agree. For the evil of doing as he is doing--the
evil of unjustly taking away the life of another--is greater far.

And now, Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own sake, as you may
think, but for yours, that you may not sin against the God by condemning
me, who am his gift to you. For if you kill me you will not easily find a
successor to me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a
sort of gadfly, given to the state by God; and the state is a great and
noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and
requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has attached
to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon
you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. You will not easily find
another like me, and therefore I would advise you to spare me. I dare say
that you may feel out of temper (like a person who is suddenly awakened
from sleep), and you think that you might easily strike me dead as Anytus
advises, and then you would sleep on for the remainder of your lives,
unless God in his care of you sent you another gadfly. When I say that I
am given to you by God, the proof of my mission is this:--if I had been
like other men, I should not have neglected all my own concerns or
patiently seen the neglect of them during all these years, and have been
doing yours, coming to you individually like a father or elder brother,
exhorting you to regard virtue; such conduct, I say, would be unlike human
nature. If I had gained anything, or if my exhortations had been paid,
there would have been some sense in my doing so; but now, as you will
perceive, not even the impudence of my accusers dares to say that I have
ever exacted or sought pay of any one; of that they have no witness. And I
have a sufficient witness to the truth of what I say--my poverty.

Some one may wonder why I go about in private giving advice and busying
myself with the concerns of others, but do not venture to come forward in
public and advise the state. I will tell you why. You have heard me speak
at sundry times and in divers places of an oracle or sign which comes to
me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment. This
sign, which is a kind of voice, first began to come to me when I was a
child; it always forbids but never commands me to do anything which I am
going to do. This is what deters me from being a politician. And rightly,
as I think. For I am certain, O men of Athens, that if I had engaged in
politics, I should have perished long ago, and done no good either to you
or to myself. And do not be offended at my telling you the truth: for the
truth is, that no man who goes to war with you or any other multitude,
honestly striving against the many lawless and unrighteous deeds which are
done in a state, will save his life; he who will fight for the right, if he
would live even for a brief space, must have a private station and not a
public one.

I can give you convincing evidence of what I say, not words only, but what
you value far more--actions. Let me relate to you a passage of my own life
which will prove to you that I should never have yielded to injustice from
any fear of death, and that 'as I should have refused to yield' I must have
died at once. I will tell you a tale of the courts, not very interesting
perhaps, but nevertheless true. The only office of state which I ever
held, O men of Athens, was that of senator: the tribe Antiochis, which is
my tribe, had the presidency at the trial of the generals who had not taken
up the bodies of the slain after the battle of Arginusae; and you proposed
to try them in a body, contrary to law, as you all thought afterwards; but
at the time I was the only one of the Prytanes who was opposed to the
illegality, and I gave my vote against you; and when the orators threatened
to impeach and arrest me, and you called and shouted, I made up my mind
that I would run the risk, having law and justice with me, rather than take
part in your injustice because I feared imprisonment and death. This
happened in the days of the democracy. But when the oligarchy of the
Thirty was in power, they sent for me and four others into the rotunda, and
bade us bring Leon the Salaminian from Salamis, as they wanted to put him
to death. This was a specimen of the sort of commands which they were
always giving with the view of implicating as many as possible in their
crimes; and then I showed, not in word only but in deed, that, if I may be
allowed to use such an expression, I cared not a straw for death, and that
my great and only care was lest I should do an unrighteous or unholy thing.
For the strong arm of that oppressive power did not frighten me into doing
wrong; and when we came out of the rotunda the other four went to Salamis
and fetched Leon, but I went quietly home. For which I might have lost my
life, had not the power of the Thirty shortly afterwards come to an end.
And many will witness to my words.

Now do you really imagine that I could have survived all these years, if I
had led a public life, supposing that like a good man I had always
maintained the right and had made justice, as I ought, the first thing? No
indeed, men of Athens, neither I nor any other man. But I have been always
the same in all my actions, public as well as private, and never have I
yielded any base compliance to those who are slanderously termed my
disciples, or to any other. Not that I have any regular disciples. But if
any one likes to come and hear me while I am pursuing my mission, whether
he be young or old, he is not excluded. Nor do I converse only with those
who pay; but any one, whether he be rich or poor, may ask and answer me and
listen to my words; and whether he turns out to be a bad man or a good one,
neither result can be justly imputed to me; for I never taught or professed
to teach him anything. And if any one says that he has ever learned or
heard anything from me in private which all the world has not heard, let me
tell you that he is lying.

But I shall be asked, Why do people delight in continually conversing with
you? I have told you already, Athenians, the whole truth about this
matter: they like to hear the cross-examination of the pretenders to
wisdom; there is amusement in it. Now this duty of cross-examining other
men has been imposed upon me by God; and has been signified to me by
oracles, visions, and in every way in which the will of divine power was
ever intimated to any one. This is true, O Athenians, or, if not true,
would be soon refuted. If I am or have been corrupting the youth, those of
them who are now grown up and have become sensible that I gave them bad
advice in the days of their youth should come forward as accusers, and take
their revenge; or if they do not like to come themselves, some of their
relatives, fathers, brothers, or other kinsmen, should say what evil their
families have suffered at my hands. Now is their time. Many of them I see
in the court. There is Crito, who is of the same age and of the same deme
with myself, and there is Critobulus his son, whom I also see. Then again
there is Lysanias of Sphettus, who is the father of Aeschines--he is
present; and also there is Antiphon of Cephisus, who is the father of
Epigenes; and there are the brothers of several who have associated with
me. There is Nicostratus the son of Theosdotides, and the brother of
Theodotus (now Theodotus himself is dead, and therefore he, at any rate,
will not seek to stop him); and there is Paralus the son of Demodocus, who
had a brother Theages; and Adeimantus the son of Ariston, whose brother
Plato is present; and Aeantodorus, who is the brother of Apollodorus, whom
I also see. I might mention a great many others, some of whom Meletus
should have produced as witnesses in the course of his speech; and let him
still produce them, if he has forgotten--I will make way for him. And let
him say, if he has any testimony of the sort which he can produce. Nay,
Athenians, the very opposite is the truth. For all these are ready to
witness on behalf of the corrupter, of the injurer of their kindred, as
Meletus and Anytus call me; not the corrupted youth only--there might have
been a motive for that--but their uncorrupted elder relatives. Why should
they too support me with their testimony? Why, indeed, except for the sake
of truth and justice, and because they know that I am speaking the truth,
and that Meletus is a liar.

Well, Athenians, this and the like of this is all the defence which I have
to offer. Yet a word more. Perhaps there may be some one who is offended
at me, when he calls to mind how he himself on a similar, or even a less
serious occasion, prayed and entreated the judges with many tears, and how
he produced his children in court, which was a moving spectacle, together
with a host of relations and friends; whereas I, who am probably in danger
of my life, will do none of these things. The contrast may occur to his
mind, and he may be set against me, and vote in anger because he is
displeased at me on this account. Now if there be such a person among
you,--mind, I do not say that there is,--to him I may fairly reply: My
friend, I am a man, and like other men, a creature of flesh and blood, and
not 'of wood or stone,' as Homer says; and I have a family, yes, and sons,
O Athenians, three in number, one almost a man, and two others who are
still young; and yet I will not bring any of them hither in order to
petition you for an acquittal. And why not? Not from any self-assertion
or want of respect for you. Whether I am or am not afraid of death is
another question, of which I will not now speak. But, having regard to
public opinion, I feel that such conduct would be discreditable to myself,
and to you, and to the whole state. One who has reached my years, and who
has a name for wisdom, ought not to demean himself. Whether this opinion
of me be deserved or not, at any rate the world has decided that Socrates
is in some way superior to other men. And if those among you who are said
to be superior in wisdom and courage, and any other virtue, demean
themselves in this way, how shameful is their conduct! I have seen men of
reputation, when they have been condemned, behaving in the strangest
manner: they seemed to fancy that they were going to suffer something
dreadful if they died, and that they could be immortal if you only allowed
them to live; and I think that such are a dishonour to the state, and that
any stranger coming in would have said of them that the most eminent men of
Athens, to whom the Athenians themselves give honour and command, are no
better than women. And I say that these things ought not to be done by
those of us who have a reputation; and if they are done, you ought not to
permit them; you ought rather to show that you are far more disposed to
condemn the man who gets up a doleful scene and makes the city ridiculous,
than him who holds his peace.

But, setting aside the question of public opinion, there seems to be
something wrong in asking a favour of a judge, and thus procuring an
acquittal, instead of informing and convincing him. For his duty is, not
to make a present of justice, but to give judgment; and he has sworn that
he will judge according to the laws, and not according to his own good
pleasure; and we ought not to encourage you, nor should you allow
yourselves to be encouraged, in this habit of perjury--there can be no
piety in that. Do not then require me to do what I consider dishonourable
and impious and wrong, especially now, when I am being tried for impiety on
the indictment of Meletus. For if, O men of Athens, by force of persuasion
and entreaty I could overpower your oaths, then I should be teaching you to
believe that there are no gods, and in defending should simply convict
myself of the charge of not believing in them. But that is not so--far
otherwise. For I do believe that there are gods, and in a sense higher
than that in which any of my accusers believe in them. And to you and to
God I commit my cause, to be determined by you as is best for you and me.


There are many reasons why I am not grieved, O men of Athens, at the vote
of condemnation. I expected it, and am only surprised that the votes are
so nearly equal; for I had thought that the majority against me would have
been far larger; but now, had thirty votes gone over to the other side, I
should have been acquitted. And I may say, I think, that I have escaped
Meletus. I may say more; for without the assistance of Anytus and Lycon,
any one may see that he would not have had a fifth part of the votes, as
the law requires, in which case he would have incurred a fine of a thousand

And so he proposes death as the penalty. And what shall I propose on my
part, O men of Athens? Clearly that which is my due. And what is my due?
What return shall be made to the man who has never had the wit to be idle
during his whole life; but has been careless of what the many care for--
wealth, and family interests, and military offices, and speaking in the
assembly, and magistracies, and plots, and parties. Reflecting that I was
really too honest a man to be a politician and live, I did not go where I
could do no good to you or to myself; but where I could do the greatest
good privately to every one of you, thither I went, and sought to persuade
every man among you that he must look to himself, and seek virtue and
wisdom before he looks to his private interests, and look to the state
before he looks to the interests of the state; and that this should be the
order which he observes in all his actions. What shall be done to such an
one? Doubtless some good thing, O men of Athens, if he has his reward; and
the good should be of a kind suitable to him. What would be a reward
suitable to a poor man who is your benefactor, and who desires leisure that
he may instruct you? There can be no reward so fitting as maintenance in
the Prytaneum, O men of Athens, a reward which he deserves far more than
the citizen who has won the prize at Olympia in the horse or chariot race,
whether the chariots were drawn by two horses or by many. For I am in
want, and he has enough; and he only gives you the appearance of happiness,
and I give you the reality. And if I am to estimate the penalty fairly, I
should say that maintenance in the Prytaneum is the just return.

Perhaps you think that I am braving you in what I am saying now, as in what
I said before about the tears and prayers. But this is not so. I speak
rather because I am convinced that I never intentionally wronged any one,
although I cannot convince you--the time has been too short; if there were
a law at Athens, as there is in other cities, that a capital cause should
not be decided in one day, then I believe that I should have convinced you.
But I cannot in a moment refute great slanders; and, as I am convinced that
I never wronged another, I will assuredly not wrong myself. I will not say
of myself that I deserve any evil, or propose any penalty. Why should I?
because I am afraid of the penalty of death which Meletus proposes? When I
do not know whether death is a good or an evil, why should I propose a
penalty which would certainly be an evil? Shall I say imprisonment? And
why should I live in prison, and be the slave of the magistrates of the
year--of the Eleven? Or shall the penalty be a fine, and imprisonment
until the fine is paid? There is the same objection. I should have to lie
in prison, for money I have none, and cannot pay. And if I say exile (and
this may possibly be the penalty which you will affix), I must indeed be
blinded by the love of life, if I am so irrational as to expect that when
you, who are my own citizens, cannot endure my discourses and words, and
have found them so grievous and odious that you will have no more of them,
others are likely to endure me. No indeed, men of Athens, that is not very
likely. And what a life should I lead, at my age, wandering from city to
city, ever changing my place of exile, and always being driven out! For I
am quite sure that wherever I go, there, as here, the young men will flock
to me; and if I drive them away, their elders will drive me out at their
request; and if I let them come, their fathers and friends will drive me
out for their sakes.

Some one will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and
then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you?
Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this.
For if I tell you that to do as you say would be a disobedience to the God,
and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am
serious; and if I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of
those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is
the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living,
you are still less likely to believe me. Yet I say what is true, although
a thing of which it is hard for me to persuade you. Also, I have never
been accustomed to think that I deserve to suffer any harm. Had I money I
might have estimated the offence at what I was able to pay, and not have
been much the worse. But I have none, and therefore I must ask you to
proportion the fine to my means. Well, perhaps I could afford a mina, and
therefore I propose that penalty: Plato, Crito, Critobulus, and
Apollodorus, my friends here, bid me say thirty minae, and they will be the
sureties. Let thirty minae be the penalty; for which sum they will be
ample security to you.


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

And now, O men who have condemned me, I would fain prophesy to you; for I
am about to die, and in the hour of death men are gifted with prophetic
power. And I prophesy to you who are my murderers, that immediately after
my departure punishment far heavier than you have inflicted on me will
surely await you. Me you have killed because you wanted to escape the
accuser, and not to give an account of your lives. But that will not be as
you suppose: far otherwise. For I say that there will be more accusers of
you than there are now; accusers whom hitherto I have restrained: and as
they are younger they will be more inconsiderate with you, and you will be
more offended at them. If you think that by killing men you can prevent
some one from censuring your evil lives, you are mistaken; that is not a
way of escape which is either possible or honourable; the easiest and the
noblest way is not to be disabling others, but to be improving yourselves.
This is the prophecy which I utter before my departure to the judges who
have condemned me.

Friends, who would have acquitted me, I would like also to talk with you
about the thing which has come to pass, while the magistrates are busy, and
before I go to the place at which I must die. Stay then a little, for we
may as well talk with one another while there is time. You are my friends,
and I should like to show you the meaning of this event which has happened
to me. O my judges--for you I may truly call judges--I should like to tell
you of a wonderful circumstance. Hitherto the divine faculty of which the
internal oracle is the source has constantly been in the habit of opposing
me even about trifles, if I was going to make a slip or error in any
matter; and now as you see there has come upon me that which may be
thought, and is generally believed to be, the last and worst evil. But the
oracle made no sign of opposition, either when I was leaving my house in
the morning, or when I was on my way to the court, or while I was speaking,
at anything which I was going to say; and yet I have often been stopped in
the middle of a speech, but now in nothing I either said or did touching
the matter in hand has the oracle opposed me. What do I take to be the
explanation of this silence? I will tell you. It is an intimation that
what has happened to me is a good, and that those of us who think that
death is an evil are in error. For the customary sign would surely have
opposed me had I been going to evil and not to good.

Let us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is great reason
to hope that death is a good; for one of two things--either death is a
state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a
change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you
suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him
who is undisturbed even by dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. For
if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed
even by dreams, and were to compare with this the other days and nights of
his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed
in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think
that any man, I will not say a private man, but even the great king will
not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if
death be of such a nature, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then
only a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and
there, as men say, all the dead abide, what good, O my friends and judges,
can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world
below, he is delivered from the professors of justice in this world, and
finds the true judges who are said to give judgment there, Minos and
Rhadamanthus and Aeacus and Triptolemus, and other sons of God who were
righteous in their own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. What
would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musaeus and
Hesiod and Homer? Nay, if this be true, let me die again and again. I
myself, too, shall have a wonderful interest in there meeting and
conversing with Palamedes, and Ajax the son of Telamon, and any other
ancient hero who has suffered death through an unjust judgment; and there
will be no small pleasure, as I think, in comparing my own sufferings with
theirs. Above all, I shall then be able to continue my search into true
and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in the next; and I shall
find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not. What would
not a man give, O judges, to be able to examine the leader of the great
Trojan expedition; or Odysseus or Sisyphus, or numberless others, men and
women too! What infinite delight would there be in conversing with them
and asking them questions! In another world they do not put a man to death
for asking questions: assuredly not. For besides being happier than we
are, they will be immortal, if what is said is true.

Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know of a certainty,
that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He
and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approaching end
happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that the time had arrived when
it was better for me to die and be released from trouble; wherefore the
oracle gave no sign. For which reason, also, I am not angry with my
condemners, or with my accusers; they have done me no harm, although they
did not mean to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them.

Still I have a favour to ask of them. When my sons are grown up, I would
ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I would have you trouble them,
as I have troubled you, if they seem to care about riches, or anything,
more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are
really nothing,--then reprove them, as I have reproved you, for not caring
about that for which they ought to care, and thinking that they are
something when they are really nothing. And if you do this, both I and my
sons will have received justice at your hands.

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways--I to die, and you to
live. Which is better God only knows.
What a handsome figure of a dragon. No wonder I fall madly in love with the Alani Dragon now, the avatar, it's a gorgeous dragon picture.
Back to Top
TheAlaniDragonRising View Drop Down
AE Moderator
AE Moderator
Spam Fighter

Joined: 09-May-2011
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6074
  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Sep-2013 at 21:00
Plutarch's Morals: Theosophical Essays


The works which go by the name of Plutarch's "Morals" (though certainly not all from his hand) are a collection of short treatises upon a great variety of subjects—Ethics, History, Politics, Preservation of Health, Facetiæ, Love-stories, and Philosophy. The last of these comprise dissertations upon the nature of the unseen world and spiritual beings, upon the creation and government of the universe, upon the human soul, upon the hidden sense of religious institutions, and similar speculations, which the ancients classed under the general head of "Theosophy," that is, "knowledge of the things pertaining unto God." In this series is preserved the only complete and circumstantial account of the religion of Egypt that has come down to us; and written at a time when that religion was still in full vigour, when, in fact, it alone (besides the Mithraic), of all the ancient creeds, as yet preserved its. original vitality—written, too, by a person who had been initiated into its deepest mysteries, and who had sought out the hidden sense of its myths and ceremonies with equal intelligence and industry. That the present treatise "upon Isis and

p. vi

[paragraph continues] Osiris," became, from the time of its publication, the chief authority upon the subject, is evident from the influence it exerted upon the writings of the Emperor Julian of the same character, such as his "Hymns to the Mother of the Gods, and to the Sun." Three other essays are devoted, more or less, to the subject of Oracles, and to the discussion of the question whether their inspiration proceeded from natural or supernatural causes; in which discussions the parts of the "rationalist" and the "believer" (in modern phrase), are most ably supported by the interlocutors of the dialogue. This is, perhaps, the most curious and most interesting phenomenon in the history of ancient civilization. These three treatises, therefore, are of the highest value, for, in the first place, they preserve the only particular description now extant of the most important of these fountains of prophecy, of the physical facts connected with its working, and the mode in which its powers were employed, and, what is yet more to the purpose, we have here the observations made upon all these circumstances by a clear-headed and highly educated man, far removed from all religious enthusiasm (which had not, at that time, been roused to blind partiality through opposition and vituperation from the other side); and who, residing in the neighbourhood of the mystic cavern, and regularly attending the consultation, had ample opportunity of detecting any deception or jugglery on the part of its ministers. We can, therefore, accept for truth what he relates concerning the visible and sensible effects of the Pythonic vapour; but of the conflicting theories as to its final cause (between which the writer himself is evidently at a loss to choose), we may decide upon the one best adapted to our own modes of thought. And if we substitute modern terms for ancient, and read "Scriptural" for "Delphic" inspiration, we can from the disputes of the present day form a very accurate notion of the state of

p. vii

feeling upon this subject that prevailed in Plutarch's times. We find then also, people urging the same objections against the Divine origin of sacred teachings, based upon the imperfections of the vehicle conveying them to. mankind; and parried by the same arguments derived from the consideration of the nature of such vehicles. And in the same connection, how curious it is to discover that the Divine government of "more worlds than one" was even then, too, a problem that puzzled far brighter minds than those which have attempted its solution in these later days!

In order to place the trustworthiness of Plutarch, as our guide in similar researches, in a still clearer light by exhibiting his own view of religion, I have added his short treatise "On Superstition," one of the most eloquent and closely reasoned compositions of the kind to be found in antiquity; and which, from its intrinsic merit (the sterling coin of every period) might be studied with advantage by many a religious disputant of the present day.

It is now almost three centuries since my ancient brother-fellow, the indefatigable Philemon Holland, published his gigantic translation of the whole "Moralia." Although he has done his work admirably, its unwieldy bulk, sufficient to deter most readers, in itself furnishes me with a plausible excuse for presenting a single section of its contents in a new dress. My translation was made some years ago, in the course of collecting materials for an undertaking then in hand, but now through untoward circumstances of necessity abandoned. The text used was principally Wyttenback's; it is in many places hopelessly corrupt, words and even whole sentences are often missing; the source was, apparently, a single manuscript, and that in bad condition. In such cases, conjectural emendations and supplements were unavoidable: but notice of all such attempts has always been given at the foot of the page.

p. viii

[paragraph continues] My translation keeps as close to the original as our language will allow—much too closely, indeed, to admit of any elegance of style; the faithful rendering of the sense in this antique report of discussions often very abstruse and curiously involved, being the sole object I kept in view when making it.

C. W King.

Trinity College, Cambridge,
          May 6, 1882.






Description of the Woodcuts



On Isis and Osiris



On the Cessation of Oracles



On the Pythian Responses



On the E at Delphi



On the Apparent Face in the Orb of the Moon



On Superstition



Title Page.

Diana of the Ephesians, a palm-branch in each hand, a hind on each side, looking up to her as their mistress: in the field over head, two scorpions. This deity originally symbolized Earth, and was actually identified with Isis; but in later times, being called by the name of the Grecian Artemis, she similarly became the President of the Moon. Trebellius Pollio therefore speaks of the Goths burning the Temple of the "Luna Ephesia," in the reign of Gallienus. (Black Jasper.)

P. v. A group of the chief attributes of Apollo, in his double character. The Gryphon, composed of the lion and eagle (types of solar power), grasps the lyre belonging to the god of Poetry, whilst on the Delphic rock behind is perched the raven, the most sure prophet of all birds of augury. (Amethyst.)

P. viii. Apollo seated before the Delphic tripod, wearing the topknot and flowing robe alluded to by Plutarch (p. 165). He takes the title of "Musagetes" when arrayed in this costume; which therefore became the professional dress of all musicians. Nero, who thought himself the Roman Apollo, appeared in statues and struck coins (still extant) with his own figure "citharœdico habitu," as Suetonius has recorded. (Sard.)

P. 71. Bust of Isis, with the lotus-flower on her forehead, and the sceptre in her hand. (Sard.)

P. 137. Apollo standing in front of the Delphic tripod. The inscription LAUR. MED. shows that the gem once belonged to Lorenzo de’ Medici. (Sard.)

P. 172. The Pythia, seated in profound meditation in front of the Tripod. (Antique Paste.)

P. 196. The Delphic E, "of gold," as the inscription declares. This symbol became a talisman in much request amongst the Romans, for reasons sufficiently obvious to any one who reads Plutarch's exposition of its meaning. (Cameo.)

P. 275. Erinnys, the Avenger of Blood, hastening in pursuit of the guilty. Archaic Greek style. (Sard.)

P. 278. Apollo, seated in the attitude of meditation: by his side stands the earliest Pythia, Herophile; the staff is placed in her hand to symbolize her extreme age. (Sard.)

p. xii

P. 287. "Deus Lunus," the Asiatic conception of the Spirit of the Moon. The earliest of all, the Assyrian, embodied the idea in the form of an aged man, "Sin," leaning on his staff, and almost the counterpart of our popular notion of the "Man in the Moon;" but in process of time it was softened down into the effeminate boy represented on the present gem. The chief seat of his worship was Carrhæ in Mesopotamia, where it flourished down to a late period of the Roman Empire: for Julian paid him worship there, "after the established custom," as he marched by on his Persian expedition. (Sard.)





All good things, O Clea, it behoves persons that have sense to solicit from the gods. But more especially now that we are in quest of the knowledge of themselves (so far as such knowledge is attainable by man), do we pray to obtain the same from them with their own consent: inasmuch as there is nothing more important for a man to receive, or more noble for a god to grant, than Truth. For all other things which people require, the Deity who gives them doth not possess, nor use for his own purposes. For the Godhead is not blessed by reason of his silver and gold, nor yet almighty through his thunders and lightnings, but on account of knowledge and intelligence, and this is the finest thing of all that Homer hath said, when he pronounced concerning the gods:—

"Both have one source, and both one country bore,
 But Jove was first born, and his knowledge more."

[paragraph continues] He has represented the sovereignty of Jupiter as more majestic on account of his knowledge and wisdom, being at the same time the more ancient of the two. And I am of opinion that the happiness of the eternal life which is the attribute of God consists in his not being ignorant of

p. 2

future events, in virtue of his knowledge, for if the knowing and understanding of events were taken away, then immortality becomes not life but duration.

II. On this account a desire for religious knowledge is an aiming at Truth, particularly that relating to the gods—a pursuit containing both in the acquisition and in the search a reception, as it were, of things sacred—an occupation more pious than any observation of abstinence, or religious service: but particularly well-pleasing to this goddess who is the special object of thy devotion; for she is both wise, and a lover of wisdom; as her name appears to denote that, more than any other, knowing and knowledge belong to her. For "Isis" is a Greek word, and so is "Typhon," her enemy, for he is "puffed up" by want of knowledge and falsehood, and tears to pieces, and puts out of sight, the sacred word which the goddess again gathers up and puts together, and gives into the charge of those initiated into the religion; whilst by means of a perpetually sober life, by abstinence from many kinds of food and from venery, she checks intemperance and love of pleasure, accustoming people to endure her service with bowels not enervated by luxury, but hardy and vigorous; the object of all which is the knowledge of the First, the Supreme, and the Intelligible; whom the goddess exhorts von to seek after, for he is both by her side, and united with her. The very name of her Temple clearly promises both the communication and the understanding of That which is—for it is called the "Ision," 1 inasmuch as That which is shall be known if we enter with intelligence and piously into the sacred rites of the goddess.

III. Besides this, many have made her out to be daughter of Hermes; many others, of Prometheus: of whom the latter they hold to be the inventor of wisdom and fore-knowledge; Hermes, of grammar and of music.

p. 3

[paragraph continues] For which reason, of the Muses at Hermopolis they call the foremost one "Isis," and "Justice-Wisdom," as hath been stated; and they show the divine mysteries to such as be truly and rightfully styled "carriers of sacred things," and "wearers of sacred robes": these are they that carry in the soul, as it were in a copper, the sacred story respecting the gods that cleanses the recipient from all superstition, and magical follies: and who wrap themselves up, sometimes in things black and dusky, at other times bright and conspicuous—darkly showing forth the same notions as regards opinion of the gods as are expressed with respect to the sacred vestment. For which reason, the circumstance that the votaries of Isis, upon their death, are clothed with these robes, is a symbol that they go into the next world carrying with them this Word1 and nothing else. For it is not, Clea, the wearing of beards and the dressing in long gowns that makes people philosophers; neither does the linen surplice and shaven crown make votaries of Isis, but the real Isiacist is he that is competent to investigate by the aid of the Word, the symbolism, and the ceremonies connected with these deities (after he has been lawfully empowered so to do); and who meditates upon the Truth which is involved in them.

IV. For it is a fact that most people do not understand that most general, and insignificant circumstance, for what reason the priests cut off their hair, and wear linen robes: some do not trouble themselves at all to know the cause for these two rules, whilst others say that they abstain from the use of wool, as they do from the flesh, out of veneration for the sheep; that they shave the head in token of their mourning (for Osiris), and that they wear linen on account of the colour the flax in blossom displays, which resembles the smiling atmosphere encompassing

p. 4

the earth. But the real cause is the same for all, because (as Plato observes), it is not lawful for one not pure to handle what is pure. Now no superfluity of nutrition or excrement is either chaste or pure. Now it is out of such superfluity that wool and hair, and down, and the nails, spring and grow. For it were absurd that people should divest themselves of their own hair, shaving the body very smoothly, during the fasts, and yet should envelope themselves in the hair of beasts, and we ought to suppose that when Hesiod says:—

"Nor from the five-branched thing, on holy day,
 Cut with the steel the dry from green away,"

[paragraph continues] He teaches that people ought to make themselves clear from such things beforehand, and so keep the festival, not in the middle of the religious services to occupy themselves with the cleaning and the removal of excrementitious things. Again, the flax springs out of what is immortal, the earth, and produces an edible fruit, and furnishes a smooth and cleanly clothing, that does not weigh one down with the covering, and well-suited also to any season, and is least of all others apt to breed lice, as they say, concerning all which points there is another legend.

V. The priests so greatly dislike the nature of excrementitious things, that they not only reject most kinds of pulse, and the flesh of sheep and swine, as producing much superfluity of nutriment, but during the fasts they even banish all salt from their meals, assigning many other reasons for so doing, and particularly that salt makes people more fond of drinking and of eating, by sharpening the appetite: for to consider, as Aristagoras pretends, that salt is not pure because multitudes of little insects are caught and die in it as it is congealing, is mere folly. They are said also to give the Apis drink out of a well of his own, but to keep

p. 5

him away from the Nile; not that they hold the Nile water to be polluted by reason of the crocodiles, as some think, for nothing is so venerated by Egyptians as the Nile, but because drinking the water of the Nile is supposed above all other to fatten, and produce corpulence; for they do not wish to have the Apis in such condition, nor themselves either, but to render their bodies active and lightly moved by their souls, and not to weigh down and crush the divine part by the mortal ones growing strong and preponderating.

VI. As for wine, they that serve the god at Heliopolis, do not usually carry it into the temple, for the reason that it is not decent to drink when the Lord and King of day is looking on. The others use it indeed, but sparingly, and keep many fasts where wine is forbidden; during which they spend their time in arguing, learning, and seeking things pertaining to religion: but the kings used to drink a measured quantity, prescribed by the sacred books (as Hecataeus relates in his History), although they were also priests. They began to drink from the reign of Psammetichus, for before him they drank no wine, neither did they make libation of it as a thing acceptable to the gods, but as the blood of the gods’ greatest enemies, out of whom they believe it sprung when they were fallen, and mingled with the earth, for which reason the being drunk makes men out of their senses and furious, inasmuch as they are then possessed by the authors of the blood. This story Eudoxus tells us in the second book of his "Travels," is so related by the priests.

VII. As to sea fish, all do not abstain from every sort, but from some kinds only, as for instance, the natives of Oxyrynchites abstain from all that are caught with a hook; for worshipping as they do the fish called oxyrynchus, they are afraid that the hook may not be unpolluted in consequence of an oxyrynchus having been caught by the same.

p. 6

[paragraph continues] The Syennites abstain from eating the phagrus; for that fish is thought to make its appearance together with the swelling of the Nile, and to announce its rise to rejoicing people, showing itself as a self-sent herald. But the priests abstain from all fish alike, and when on the first day of the ninth month the Egyptians feast each one on broiled fish before his house door, the priests do not taste thereof, but burn fish to ashes in front of their own doors, assigning two reasons for this usage; the one of which being religious and important, and connected with the pious inquiry concerning Osiris and Typhon, I will take up again further on; the other, an obvious and ready explanation, making out fish to be an unnecessary and over-luxurious article of diet, agrees with Homer who represents neither the luxurious Phaeaceans, nor the Ithacans, although islanders; as making use of fish, nor yet the shipmates of Ulysses on so long a voyage and out at sea, before they were reduced to the extreme of want. And in fine, they (the priests) hold the sea to proceed from fire, and as distinct from all else; neither a part nor an element of nature but something of a different sort, both destructive and the occasion of disease.

VIII. For nothing that is irrational or fabulous, or springing out of superstition (as some suppose), has been established in the religious rites but what has partly moral and salutary reasons, partly others not devoid of ingenuity in their bearings upon history and physics. For example, take the garlic (for the fable that Dictys, foster father of Isis, fell into the river and was lost as he was laying hold of some garlic is improbable to the last degree), but the priests entertain religious scruples about it and avoid and dislike the garlic, because this is the only plant that naturally grows and flourishes while the moon is on the wane; and it is suitable neither for persons keeping fast, nor holding festival, because it makes the one thirsty,

p. 7

the other to shed tears when they eat thereof. In the same way they hold the swine to be an unholy animal because it seems to copulate most of all when the moon is on the wane, and of those who drink its milk, the bodies break out into leprosies and itchey eruptions; for the legend which they repeat over it, when they sacrifice (once for all) and eat a swine at the new moon, namely, that Typhon was pursuing a swine by the light of the full moon, and so found the wooden coffer, in which lay the body of Osiris and scattered the pieces, is not accepted by all; for they hold this, like many other things, to belong to false traditions. But they say that those of old were so hostile to luxury, extravagance, and delicate living, that they relate there was a column set up in the Temple of Thebes containing a curse engraved thereon against King Mnevis, the first that drew away the Egyptians from their old way of living without voyaging, without money, and of primitive simplicity. It is further said that Technatis, father of Banchoreus, once when marching towards Arabia, when his table-service was behindhand, dined upon what food was procurable and afterwards slept soundly upon a mattress, and thus became enamoured of simple fare; and in consequence of this, uttered a curse upon Mnevis, and with the approval of the priests, set up a pillar publishing the anathema.

IX. For the kings used to be elected out of either the sacerdotal or the military class, the latter enjoying dignity and honour on account of valour, the former on account of wisdom; but he that was elected out of the military class immediately became one of the priests, and was initiated into their wisdom, which was for the most part shrouded in fables and stories giving obscure indications and glimpses of the truth, as indeed they themselves half acknowledge by kindly setting up the Sphinxes in front of their temples, as though their religious teaching contained wisdom hidden

p. 8

in enigmas. And the shrine of Minerva at Sais (whom they consider the same with Isis) bears this inscription, "I am all that hath been, and is, and shall be; and my veil no mortal has hitherto raised." Furthermore, as most people believe that the proper name of Jupiter amongst the Egyptians is "Ammies" (which we corruptly call "Ammon"). Manetho the Sebennyte is of opinion that the "hidden" and "hiding" is expressed by this word. Hecataeus of Abdera says that the Egyptians use this word to one another, when they are calling anyone to them; for the word is one of calling to, for which reason the Supreme God (whom they consider the same with the All) they invoke as being hidden and invisible, and exhort him to make himself visible and apparent, and therefore call him "Amun": so great therefore was the piety of the Egyptians in their teaching respecting the gods.

X. The wisest of the Greeks bear testimony to this, such as Solon, Thales, Plato, Eudoxus, Pythagoras (some say Lycurgus also), by their travelling into Egypt and conversing with the priests. Eudoxus, for example, they say, received lessons from Chonupheus of Memphis; Solon, from Sonchis of Sais; Pythagoras from Oenuphis of Heliopolis; and he being probably the most admired of these visitors, and himself admiring the people, copied their symbolical and mysterious style, and wrapped up his doctrines in enigmas; for the most part of the Pythagorean precepts do not fall short of the so-called hieroglyphic writings in obscurity; such, for instance, as, "Not to eat off a chair;" "Not to sit down upon a corn-measure;" "Not to plant a palm-tree;" "Not to stir the fire with a sword in the house." And I myself think that the fact that the men (of his sect) call the unit "Apollo," the two "Diana," the seven, "Minerva;" and "Neptune" the first Cube; is analogous to the things set up upon the temples, and in truth to those done and painted there. For the

p. 9

king and lord, Osiris, they represent by an eye and a sceptre, and some even interpret the name as "Many-eyed," the "os" signifying many, and the "iri," eye, in the Egyptian language: and Heaven, as being exempt from old age by reason of its eternity, by a heart with an altar of incense placed below it. And in Thebes there were dedicated statues of Judges wanting the hands: whilst that of the chief-judge had also the eyes closed, showing that Justice is above bribes, and not to be moved by prayer. The Military class had the beetle for device on signet, for the beetle is never female, but all are males, and they breed by depositing their seed [in balls of dung]; since they make these balls, not so much to provide material for food, as a place for propagation of their kind.

XI. When therefore you shall hear the fables the Egyptians tell about the gods—their wanderings, cutting to pieces, and many such like mishaps you ought to bear in mind what has been above stated, and not to suppose that any of them happened or was done in the manner related. For they do not really call the dog "Hermes," but the animal's watchfulness, sleeplessness, and sagacity (for by knowledge and absence of knowledge it distinguishes between friend and foe, as Plato says) make it appropriate to the most sagacious of the gods: neither do they suppose that the sun rises as a new born child out of a lotus, but it is in this way they picture the rising of the sun, enigmatically expressing that the solar fire is derived from moisture. For that most savage and terrible King of the Persians, Ochus—who put many to death, and finally butchered Apis and dined upon him along with his friends—they styled "The Sword," and still call him by that name in the list of kings; that is not actually describing his person, but likening the hardness and wickedness of his disposition to an instrument of slaughter. In the same way must you hear the stories about the gods, and

p. 10

receive them from such as interpret mythology, in a reverent and philosophic spirit, both performing constantly and observing the established rites of the worship, and believing that no sacrifice nor act is more well pleasing to the gods, than is the holding the true faith with respect to them, so will you escape an evil no less great than Atheism, namely, Superstition.

XII. The following myth is related in the briefest terms possible, divested of everything unnecessary and superfluous. They tell that the sun having discovered Rhea secretly copulating with Saturn, laid a curse upon her, that she should not bring forth a child in either month or year: that Hermes being in love with the goddess copulated with her; and afterwards playing at counters with the Moon and winning from her the seventieth part of each one of her lights, out of the whole composed five days, the which he added to the three hundred and sixty, which days now the Egyptians call "additional," and keep as the birthdays of the gods; that on the first of these was born Osiris, and that, a voice issued forth with him in the birth, that "the Lord of all is entering into light." But some relate that a certain Pamyle, when drawing water out of the Temple of Jupiter at Thebes, heard a voice ordering her to proclaim with a loud cry, "A great king, beneficent Osiris, is born," and for this cause she nursed Osiris, when Saturn put him into her hands; and also the festival "Pamylia," is celebrated in his honour, resembling in character the phallic processions. On the second was born Aroeris, whom some call Apollo, some the elder Horus. On the third Typhon, neither in due time, nor in the right place, but, breaking through with a blow, he leaped out through his mother's side. On the fourth was Isis born, in very wet places. On the fifth was Nephthys, the same as the "End," and "Venus," whom some call Victory. They say that Osiris was begotten by the Sun, as also

p. 11

[paragraph continues] Aroeris, by Hermes Isis, by Saturn Typhon and Nephthys; that Osiris and Isis fell in love with each other and copulated under the cloak of darkness in the womb; some say that in this manner was Aroeris begotten, and therefore is called by Egyptians, the elder Horus, by the Greeks, Apollo.

XIII. That when Osiris reigned over the Egyptians he made them reform their destitute and bestial mode of living, showing them the art of cultivation, and giving them laws, and teaching them how to worship the gods. Afterwards he travelled over the whole earth, civilizing it; far from requiring arms, he tamed mankind through persuasion and reasoning joined with song of all kinds and music which he brought over; wherefore he is held by the Greeks to be the same with Bacchus. That Typhon, during his absence, did not rebel, because Isis was on her guard, and able to keep watch upon him vigorously; but after Osiris returned Typhon laid a plot against him, having taken seventy and two men into the conspiracy, and having for helper a queen coming out of Ethiopia, whom they call Asò. That she secretly measured the body of Osiris, and made to the size a handsome and highly ornamented coffer which he carried into the banqueting room. And as they were all delighted with its appearance and admired it; Typhon promised in sport that whoever should lie down within it, and should exactly fit, he would make him a present of the chest; and after the others had tried, one by one, and nobody fitted it; then Osiris got in, and laid himself down, thereupon the conspirators running up shut down the lid, and fastened it with spike-nails from the outside, and poured melted lead over them, and so carried it out to the River, and let it go down down the Tanaite branch into the sea: which branch on that account is hateful, and unlucky for Egyptians to name. These things are said to have been done on the 17th day of the month

p. 12

[paragraph continues] Athor, when the sun is passing through the Scorpion, Osiris then being in the eight and twentieth year of his reign. Some have it that he had lived, not reigned, such a time.

XIV. The first to discover the mischief were the Pans and Satyrs inhabiting the country round Chemmis and to give intelligence 1 about what had happened, whence the sudden terrors and fears of the multitude are to the present day called "panics." Isis on the news, sheared off one of her tresses, and put on a mourning robe, whence the city, even to the present day has the name of "Copto" (I beat the breast); but others think the name signifies bereavement, from "coptein" "to deprive." As she wandered about everywhere, not knowing what to do, she met no one without speaking to him, nay, even when she fell in with little children, she inquired of them about the coffer; these last chanced to have seen it, and told her the branch of the River through which Typhon's accomplices had let the chest drift into the sea. From this circumstance the Egyptians believe that little children possess the faculty of prophesy, and that especially the future is fore-shown by their cries when they are playing in the temple courts, and calling out whatever it may be. And having discovered that he (Typhon) had fallen in love and copulated with his sister, in ignorance, as Osiris had done with herself, and seeing the proof thereof in the garland of melilote flower which he had left behind him with Nephthys, she sought for the infant (for she had brought it forth at once, through her fear of Typhon), she found it at last with trouble and difficulty, through dogs guiding her to the place. This infant Isis nursed, and he grew up her guard and minister, being denominated Anubis; and said to watch for the gods just as dogs do for men.

p. 13

XV. Proceeding thence, she learnt by inquiry that the chest had been washed up by the sea at a place called Byblus, and that the surf had gently laid it under an Erica tree. This Erica, a most lovely plant, growing up very large in a very short time had enfolded, embraced, and concealed the coffer within itself. The king of the place being astonished at the size of the plant, and having cut away the clump that concealed the coffer from sight, set the latter up as a pillar to support his roof. They tell how Isis having learnt all this by the divine breath of fame, came to Byblus, and sitting down by the side of a spring all dejected and weeping spoke not a word to any other persons, but saluted and made friends of the maid servants of the queen, by dressing their hair for them, and infusing into their bodies a wonderful perfume out of herself; when the queen saw her maids again, she fell a longing to see the stranger, whose hair and whose body breathed of ambrosial perfume; and so she was sent for, becoming intimate with the queen, was made nurse of her infant. The king's name they say was Malacander, herself some call Astarte, others Sooses, others Neinanoë, who is the same with the Greek Athenais.

XVI. Isis is said to have suckled the child by putting, instead of her nipple, her finger into his mouth, and by night she singed away the mortal parts of his body. She turned herself into a swallow and flew around the pillar until the queen watched her, and cried out when she saw her child all on fire, and so took away the boy's immortality. Then the goddess, manifesting herself, asked .or the pillar of the roof, and having removed it with the greatest ease, she cut away the Erica that surrounded it. This plant she wrapped up in a linen cloth, pouring perfume over it, and gave it in charge to the king; and to this day the people of Byblus venerate the wood, which is preserved in the temple of Isis. The coffin she clasped in

p. 14

her arms, and wailed so loud that the younger of the king's sons died of fright at it, the elder she took with her and putting the coffer on board a ship, put to sea; but when the river Phaedrus sent forth too rough a gale, she grew wrath, and dried up the stream.

XVII. As soon as ever she obtained privacy, and was left by herself, having opened the coffer and laid her face upon the face of the corpse, she wailed and wept; but when the little boy observed this, and came up quietly from behind to spy, she perceived him, and turning round gave him a dreadful look in her rage, the child could not stand the fright, and died. Some say it was not so, but in the manner just stated he tumbled (in his fright) into the sea, but that he receives honours for the sake of the goddess, for the Maneros, whom the Egyptians sing about at their feasts, is this child. Others say that the boy is called Palaestinos, or Pelusios, and that the city was named after him, having been founded by the goddess. The Maneros that is sung about, they relate, first invented music. But some pretend "Maneros" is not the name of a person, but an expression suited to people drinking and keeping holiday and signifying "May things of the sort come with good luck," for that the Egyptians exclaim this, each time, upon the Maneros being uttered; just as, indeed, the exhibition of a dead man in his coffin carried round at feasts is not a reminder of the mourning for Osiris, as some interpret it, but merely intended 1 to warn one to make use of the present and enjoy it, as very soon they themselves shall be as he, which is why they bring it in to the feast.

XVIII. But when Isis had gone to see her son Horus (who was at nurse in the city Butò), and had put the coffer away, Typhon being out a hunting by moonlight came upon it, and recognising the corpse, tore it into fourteen pieces,

p. 15

and scattered them abroad. Isis having heard of this, sought after the fragments, passing over the swamps in a papyrus boat; for which cause such as sail in papyrus boats are never injured by the crocodiles, because they either fear or respect the goddess, from this circumstance there are many places called "Tombs of Osiris" all over Egypt, because she, whenever she came upon a fragment of the body, there celebrated a funeral. Some deny this, but say that she made images and gave them to the several cities, giving them as the actual body, in order that they may receive honours from those sailing past, and that if Typhon should get the better of Horus, when searching for the real tomb he may be baffled, from many being so called and pointed out. Of the members of Osiris the only one Isis was unable to find was the genital member, for it had been thrown at first into the River, and lepidotus, phagrus, and oxyrynchus had fed upon it, which kinds of fish the natives scruple to eat above all others, and that Isis in its stead made a model and consecrated it, namely the phallus, in honour whereof the Egyptians hold a festival.

XIX: Afterwards Osiris came from the shades to Horus, and trained and exercised him for war, and then asked him "What he thought the finest thing possible?" and when he replied "to avenge one's father and mother when ill treated;" he asked him secondly "what he considered the most useful animal to people going to battle?" and when Horus answered, "the horse," Osiris wondered at it and was puzzled why he said the horse instead of the lion. But when Horus explained that the lion indeed was serviceable to one standing in need of aid, but the horse can both save him that flees and also destroy the enemy: Osiris on hearing this was rejoiced at the supposition that Horus had provided himself with horses. And as numbers came over from time to time to the side of Horus, Typhon's concubine, Thucris by name, came also, and a serpent pursuing

p. 16

her was cut to pieces by the friends of Horus; and now in memory of this event, they throw down a rope in the midst of all, and chop it to pieces. The battle lasted for many days, and Horus vanquished, but Isis having received from him Typhon in chains, did not destroy, but on the contrary unbound and let him go free. This Horus did not endure with patience, but he laid hands on his mother, and pushed the crown off her head; whereupon Hermes placed a bull's skull upon her instead of helmet. And when Typhon brought a charge of illegitimacy against Horus, Hermes acting as his counsel, Horus was pronounced legitimate by the gods. After this Typhon was beaten in two other battles; and Isis conceived by Osiris copulating with her after death, 1 and brought forth the prematurely born, and weak in his lower limbs, Harpocrates.

XX. These are pretty nearly the heads of the legend, the most blasphemous parts being omitted; for example, about the dismemberment of Horus, and the decapitation of Isis, because if these things people believe and say concerning blessed and incorruptible natures (by whose medium the idea of the deity is mainly conceived) as having been really done, and really having happened to them—then, as Æschylus hath it:—

"We must spit at the tale, and rinse the mouth:"

and there is no more need of talking to you, in fact, you are yourself disgusted at people holding such absurd and uncivilized notions respecting the gods. Are not these things exactly like the fine-spun fables and empty tales that poets and story tellers, like spiders, breed out of themselves, without foundation from first to last, and weave and spread them out? Nevertheless, this history

p. 17

contains certain questions, and descriptions of real events; and in the same way as mathematicians say that the rainbow is the image of the sun, variously coloured through the reflection of the image upon the cloud, so the legend before us is a kind of reflection of a history reflecting the true meaning upon other things; as is shown forth by the sacrifices containing a representation of mourning and sadness; as also by the ground plan of the temples, in some parts spreading out into colonnades, and courts open to the sky and lightsome, in others having under ground hidden and dark galleries (like that at Thebes), and halls as well; and above all, by the belief of the Osiris worshippers, where his body is said to be deposited in several places at once. Abydos, perhaps, or the little town Memphis, they say, is celebrated for possessing the only true body: and that at Abydos are buried the rich and noble of the Egyptians, ambitious to share the burial place of Osiris’ body, whilst in Memphis is kept the Apis, the "Image of the soul of Osiris," where his body also is said to lie.

XXI. That city's name also some interpret as "Harbour of good things," others as "Tomb of Osiris;" but the "Nisbitane" placed close to the gates, is universally shunned and unapproachable, not even a bird perches upon it, nor a fish comes up to it; but at a particular season the priests cross over, and offer burnt offerings, and crown the monument which is overshadowed with the shrub called "methides," and exceeding in size any olive tree. But Eudoxus states that though there are many so-called Tombs in Egypt, yet that the true monument was erected at Busiris, for that that was the birthplace of Osiris; for thy; name "Taphosiris" requires no explanation since the name itself means "Tomb of Osiris." I approve of the chopping of wood1 the cutting down of flax, the pouring out 

p. 18

of libation, inasmuch as the generality of mystic rites are interspersed with these ceremonies, and not only the priests of this, but also of the other gods (that is of all that are not unborn and incorruptible) assert that their bodies are deposited with them, and are taken care of after their decease, but that their souls shine in heaven as stars; and that of Isis so called by the Greeks the Dog-star, but by the Egyptians Sothis; that of Horus, Orion, that of Typhon, the Bear, and towards the keep of the sacred animals, all the rest of Egypt pay an assessment, but the inhabitants of the Thebaid alone refuse to pay, because they do not hold with mortal deities; but with them whom they themselves call "Kneph," who is unborn and incorruptible.

XXII. Since many places of the sort are called and shown as divine Tombs, those who suppose them to be in reality those of kings and tyrants (who by reason of their extraordinary merit, or power, had arrogated honours to themselves by the fame of their superhuman nature, and had afterwards shared the common lot), whose terrible or mighty deeds or fates are thus commemorated, such persons find a very easy evasion of the legend, and shift its indecency from the gods upon men; and they obtain support from the religious rites. For the Egyptians relate that Hermes had one arm bent so that it could not be straightened, that Typhon was red in complexion, Horus white, and that Osiris was black skinned—just as so many men born in the course of nature. Besides, they call a general "Osiris," and a pilot "Canopus" (after whom the star is named); also that the ship which the Greeks call the Argo, was the representation of the bark of Osiris, made a constellation of in his honour; and it moves along at no great distance from Orion anti the Dog-star, of which the Egyptians hold the one to be sacred to Horus, the other to Isis.

p. 19

XXIII. I am afraid that this is "moving things that ought not to be moved, and making war not only upon antiquity" (as Simonides hath it), but upon many tribes and families of man, possessed with veneration for these particular deities, when people let nothing alone, but transfer these great names from the heavens to the earth, and do their best to eradicate and destroy (or nearly so) the respect and faith implanted in men from their infancy, and opening a wide door to the atheistical sort, 1 and also to him that humanizes the gods, and giving a splendid opportunity to the deceptions of Evemerus, the Messenian, who, by composing treatises upon his false and unfounded mythology, disseminated atheism all over the world, reducing all deities alike to the names of generals, admirals, and kings, pretended to have flourished in old times; transcribing all this forsooth from the inscriptions in letters of gold set up at Panchon which said inscriptions no foreigner nor Greek, save Evemerus alone, as it seems, has met with, when he made his voyage to the Panchoans and Triphyllans, people that never were, nor are, in any part of the globe.

XXIV. And yet great exploits are sung amongst Assyrians, namely those of Semiramis, and great in Egypt those of Sesostris; the Phrygians even to this day call splendid exploits "Manic," on account of Manis, one of their ancient kings, having been good and powerful amongst them, whom some also call "Masdes." 2 Cyrus led the Persians, Alexander the Macedonians, conquering as they went, to all but the utmost limits of the world; they nevertheless have the name and the memory of good kings (not of gods); and if some few, puffed up with vanity, as Plato says, "with souls inflamed by youth and ignorance,"

p. 20

have out of insolence assumed the style of gods, and the dedication of temples in their honour, yet their glory has flourished but a brief space, and thereafter they incurred the charge of vanity and arrogance, coupled with that of impiety and transgression of law:—

"Raised up like smoke, they quickly fell to earth:"

And now like fugitives that can be arrested, they are dragged out from their temples and altars, they keep nothing but their names and tombs. On which account, Antigonus the Elder, when a certain Hermodatus, in his verses, compared him to the Sun, and styled him a god, replied, "The carrier of my night-stool has not so good an opinion of me"; and with reason did Lysippus, the sculptor, censure Apelles, the painter, because in painting Alexander's portrait he had put a thunderbolt into his hand, whereas he himself had put a spear, the glory of which no time shall efface, inasmuch as it is genuine and appropriate.

XXV. Do they, therefore, better, who believe the legends told about Typhon, Osiris, and Isis, not to refer to either gods or men, but to certain great Powers (dæmons), whom Plato, Pythagoras, Xenocrates, and Chrysippus (following the ancient theologians) assert to have been created far stronger than men, and greatly surpassing our nature in power, but yet having the divine part not entirely unmixed nor unalloyed, but combined with the nature of the soul and the senses of the body, susceptible of pleasure and pain, and all other emotions the result of these, that by their vicissitudes disturb, some in a greater, others in a less degree; for, in that case, as amongst men, so amongst dæmons, exist degrees of virtue and of vice. For the deeds of the Giants and Titans, sung of by the Greeks, certain atrocious actions of Saturn, the pitched battle between Python and Apollo, the flight of Bacchus, the

p. 21

wanderings of Ceres do not fall short in absurdity of the legends about Osiris and Typhon, and the others that one may hear told by mythologists to any amount—all the things that are shrouded in mystic ceremonies, and are presented by rites, being kept secret and out of sight from the vulgar, and have a shape similar to those mentioned of the Egyptians.

XXV. We also hear Homer perpetually styling the surpassingly good, "godlike," and "equal to gods," and—

… "having from gods their sense:"

whereas he applies the epithet derived from dæmons indifferently to good and bad:—

"Approach Dæmonian; wherefore fearest thou so—The Argives?"

And again—

"When like a dæmon the fourth time he charged:"
"O dæmon-like! what harm hath Priam done thee,
Or Priam's race, that thus thou aye should strive
The beauteous town of Troy from earth to raze?"

[paragraph continues] As though the dæmons had a mixed and inconsistent nature and disposition. For which reason Plato attributes to the Olympian gods all things ingenious and extraordinary; but the opposite of these to dæmons; and Xenocrates thinks that the unlucky days of the month, and whatever festivals are accompanied with stripes and blows, abusive or obscene language, have nothing to do with honouring the gods or good dæmons: but that there are certain Powers of Nature existing in the circumambient air, great and strong indeed, but malignant and ill-tempered, who take delight in such things, and if they obtain them, betake themselves to nothing worse. But the good ones, on the contrary, Hesiod styles "pure dæmons," and "guardians of men";—

"Givers of wealth; and with such royal power."

p. 22

[paragraph continues] And Plato terms this species "Hermeneutic" and "Dæmonean," a middle class between gods and men, conveying up thither vows and prayers from mankind, and bringing down from thence to earth prophesies and gifts of things good. Empedocles even asserts that dæmons suffer punishment for their sins both of commission and omission:—

"Celestial wrath pursues them down to sea;
 Sea spits them out on earth: earth to the rays
 Of Sol unweared: he to the eddying air
 Sends back the culprits; each receives in turn,
 And all alike reject the hateful crew:"

until having been thus chastened and purified, they obtain once more their natural place and position.

XXVII. Akin to these and suchlike stories are, they say, the legends told concerning Typhon; how that he committed dreadful crimes out of envy and spite, and by throwing all things into confusion he filled with evils all the land and sea as well, and finally was punished for it. But the avenger of Osiris, his Sister and Wife, who extinguished and put a stop to the madness and fury of Typhon; did not forget the contests and struggles she had gone through, nor yet her own wanderings, nor did she suffer oblivion and silence to envelope 1 her many deeds of wisdom, many feats of courage, but by intermingling with the most sacred ceremonies, images, hints, and representations of her sufferings of yore, she consecrated at one and the same time, both lessons of piety and consolation in suffering for men and women when overtaken by misfortune. And she, together with Osiris, having been translated from the rank of good dæmons up to that of gods, by means of their virtue (as later was done with Hercules and Bacchus) receive, not inappropriately, the united honours of gods and of dæmons everywhere, both in the regions

p. 23

above earth, and in those under ground, possessing the supreme power, for they say that Serapis is no other than Pluto, and Isis Proserpine, as Archemoros of Euboea has asserted; as also Heraclitus of Pontas, when he supposes the Oracle at Canopas to belong to Pluto.

XXVIII. Ptolemy Soter beheld in a dream the Colossus of Pluto at Sinope, (though he had not before known nor seen what it was in appearance,) ordering him to bring it as soon as possible to Alexandria; and when he was ignorant and at a loss as to where the statue then stood, and was relating the vision to his friends, there was found a man, a great traveller, by name Sosibius, that declared he had seen at Sinope just such a Colossus as the king had dreamt he saw. He therefore despatched Soteles and Dionysius, who after much time and with difficulty (not, however, without divine aid) stole and brought away the statue. And when it was brought and seen, then Timotheus, the interpreter, and Manetho, the Sebennite, and their fellows, conjecturing that it was a figure of Pluto (drawing this conclusion from the Cerberus and the Serpent), made Ptolemy believe that it is of no other god, but of Serapis, for it did not come bearing such a name from the other place, but after it had been brought to Alexandria, it got the name that Pluto bears amongst the Egyptians, namely, Serapis. And seeing that Heraclitus, the natural philosopher, asserts that "Hades and Dionysos are the same person, when they are infuriated and rave," they (the Egyptians) slip unconsciously into the same belief. For such as explain that Hades means the Body, because the Soul is as it were out of its senses, and drunken, 1 when confined therein, such people are too far fetched in their interpretation. It is better, therefore, to connect Osiris with Bacchus, and Serapis with Osiris, for

p. 24

the latter obtained this appellation after he had changed his nature, 1 inasmuch as Serapis is common 2 to all, in the same way as such as have partaken of the sacred rites know that Osiris is.

XXIX. For it is not worth while paying any attention to the Phrygian sacred books, wherein it is said that Serapis 3 was the daughter of Hercules, and Typhon, son of Isaicus, son of…, nor yet to avoid treating Phylarchus with contempt for saying that Bacchus first brought two oxen out of India to Egypt; the name of one of which was Apis, of the other Osiris. For Serapis is the name of Him who puts in order the universe (πᾶν), joined to "sairein" which some say means "to beautify and arrange." 4 For these remarks of Phylarchus are absurd; yet far more absurd the opinion of such as say Serapis is no god at all, but the coffin of Apis is so called: 5 (they also talk of certain brazen doors at Memphis, named the "Doors of Oblivion and Wailing," which when they bury Apis utter a deep and harsh sound, for which reason [we are forbidden] to touch any sounding vessel of brass.) More endurable is the explanation of such as derive it from "stimulating (σεύεσθαι) the motion of the universe. But the most part of the priests say that "Osiris" and "Apis" are united into the same word, for they explain and inform us that we ought to consider the Apis as a beautiful image of the soul of Osiris. But for my part, if the name of Serapis is really Egyptian, and I think it signifies Cheerfulness and Rejoicing, founding my conjecture on the fact that the Egyptians call the festival of Rejoicing,

p. 25

[paragraph continues] "Sai rei," in fact Plato says that Hades 1 is so named as the "Son of Respectfulness," and a god benevolent to such as dwell with him; and amongst the Egyptians many other of the names (of gods) are significant words; also that subterraneous place whither they believe the souls go after death, they call "Amenthen," the name signifying "that which gives and takes," But whether this be one of the names carried out of Greece in ancient times, and brought back again, we will consider further on; at present it is our business to go through the remaining parts of this belief.

XXX. Osiris and Isis passed from the rank of good dæmons to that of deities; but the power of Typhon although dimmed and crushed, and still, as it were, in the last agony and convulsions, they nevertheless propitiate and soothe by means of certain sacrifices: but occasionally they humiliate and insult him at certain festivals, when they abuse red haired men and tumble an ass down a precipice; for example this is done by the people of Memphis, because Typhon was red haired, and like an ass in complexion. The people of Busiris and Lycopolis do not use trumpets at all because they make a sound like the ass: and altogether, they regard the ass as an unclean and dæmon-like animal on account of his resemblance to that personage: they make cakes also at the sacrifice of the month Paÿni and of Phaophi, and print upon them for device an ass tied. And at the sacrifice to the Sun, they enjoin those that worship this god, not to wear upon the person ornaments of gold, 2 nor to give food to an ass. The Pythagoreans, too, prove that they regard Typhon as a dæmonic Power, for they say in perfect measure that Typhon was born on the fifty-sixth; and again that the

p. 26

[paragraph continues] (figure) of the Triangle belongs to Pluto, Bacchus and Mars; that of the Tetragon to Rhea, Venus, Ceres, Vesta, and Juno; that of the Dodecagon to Jove; but that of the Fifty-six sided figure to Typhon—as Eudoxus hath related.

XXXI. The Egyptians, believing that Typhon was born with red hair, dedicate to sacrifice the red coloured oxen, and make the scrutiny so close that if the beast should have even a single black or white hair, they consider it unfit for sacrifice; because such beast, offered for sacrifice, is not acceptable to the gods, but the contrary (as is) whatsoever has received the souls of unholy and unjust men, that have migrated into other bodies. For which reason they heap curses on the head of the victim, cut it off, and formerly used to throw it into the River, but nowadays they sell it to foreigners. But the ox intended for sacrifice, those of the priests entitled "Sealers" used to seal: the signet bearing (as Castor relates) an engraving of a man forced down on his knees, with hands twisted round upon his back, having a sword placed against his throat. 1 The ass has got the credit of this resemblance [to Typhon] as they think, on account of his stupidity and unruliness, as well as his colour; for which reason as they detest Ochus especially of the Persian Kings, as sacrilegious and polluted, they surnamed him "the Ass," and he replying, "The Ass shall feast upon your Bull," he slaughtered the Apis, as Dinon tells us. But those who say that Typhon made his flight out of the battle during seven days upon an ass; and after escaping begot Hierosolymus and Judæus—these are discovered by that very fact to be lugging the Jewish history into the legend.

XXXII. These things, then, afford grounds for the explanations above advanced. Let us start afresh, and consider the most straightforward expositions; that is to say, those who are reputed to treat the subject in a more philosophic

p. 27

manner. These are such as pretend, like the Greeks, that Saturn symbolizes Time, Juno the Air, the birth of Vulcan, the change of Air into Fire; and similarly amongst the Egyptians, that Osiris is the Nile, copulating with Isis the Earth; Typhon, the Sea, into which the Nile flowing vanishes and is dispersed, except as much part as the earth has taken from him and received, and becomes productive thereby. There is, too, a religious lament made over Saturn, and it laments "him that is born in the left region, and that dies in the right." For the Egyptians hold that the Eastern parts are the face of the World, the Northern its right hand, the Southern its left. The Nile, therefore, flowing from the North, and in the South swallowed up by the sea, is as reasonably said to have his birth in the left hand region, and his death in the right. On which account the priests abominate the sea, and call salt "the foam of Typhon," and it is one of their prohibitions, "Not to put salt upon the table," and they do not speak to mariners, nor make use of the sea, and they keep the ox away from the sea, and from this cause principally do they reject fish, and write up "Hate fish." At any rate, at Sais, in the forecourt of the temple of Minerva, there was sculptured a child, an old man, after this a hawk, next, a fish, and at the end of all, a river-horse, and it signifies symbolically, "O ye that are coming into life, and ye that are going out of it [The Deity abhors impudence] 1 … for the reason [they put the] old man .. . By the hawk they mean God, by the fish, hatred, on account of the sea, as has been above stated; by the river horse, impudence, for that beast is reported to kill its sire, and copulates forcibly with its dam: and the saying of the Pythagoreans that the sea is Saturn's tears, seed, may seem to imply the impurity and unsociable nature of the same element.

p. 28

XXXIII. Let these stories then be told by foreigners, since they offer an explanation within everybody's reach; but the more learned among the priests do not only call the Nile, "Osiris," and the sea, "Typhon," but give the name of Osiris generally to every Principle and Power productive of moisture; regarding this as the cause of generation and the essence of seed. "Typhon" they call everything dry, fiery, dessicative, and antagonistic to moisture; for which reason as they believe him to have been red skinned and yellowish in person, they do not very willingly meet, or converse with pleasure with people having such a complexion; on the other hand they fable that Osiris was black-coloured because all water blackens earth, clouds, and garments, when mingled therewith; and in young people the presence of moisture renders the hair black, whereas greyness is, as it were, a growing pale, that by reason of dessication, comes upon them who are past their prime. The Spring too is flourishing, generative, and agreeable; but Autumn through the deficiency of moisture is both injurious to plants, and pestilential to animals. And the Ox that is kept at Heliopolis, which they call Mnevis (sacred to Osiris, and which some believe to be the sire of the Apis) 1 is black, and receives secondary honours to those paid to Apis. Besides, Egypt which is of a black soil to the highest degree, as well as the black part of the eye, they call "Chemia," 2 and compare it to a heart, for it is hot and moist, and is chiefly inclosed and annexed to the southern parts of the habitable world, in the same manner as the heart is in the left hand parts of man.

XXXIV. The Sun and the Moon they symbolize as

p. 29

using not chariots but boats for vehicles in performing their courses, expressing allegorically their nourishment and origin from moisture: and they think that Homer, like Thales, had learnt from the Egyptians to lay down that Water was the beginning and origin of all things, for that his ocean is Osiris, and his Tethys Isis, as nursing, and helping to breed up all things. For the Greeks call the emission of seed ἀπουσία, and copulation συνουσία; and ὑιὸς from ὕδωρ and ὗσαι, and Bacchus they entitle "γυς," as being lord of the moist principle, he being no other than Osiris, in fact Hellenicus has put down that he heard Osiris called Ysiris by the priests; and he persists in so denominating that god, probably on account of his nature, and his invention.

XXXV. That indeed he is the same with Bacchus, who is more fitted to know than yourself, Clea, you who have headed the Bacchanals at Delphi, and have been initiated into the rites of Osiris, ever since your childhood? But if for the sake of other people we must produce testimony, let us put on one side the things not to be revealed; but the ceremonies the priests perform in public when they are conveying the body on a raft, at the burial of the Apis, differ in nothing from the Bacchanalea; for they tie fawn-skins about them, and carry thyrsi, and make shoutings and motions like those possessed with the divine frenzy in honour of Bacchus; for which cause many of the Greeks represent Dionysos in the form of a Bull in his images; and the women of the Eleians when praying, exhort the "god with the bull's foot," to come to them. The Argives too have a Bacchus by title the "Bull-born;" and they call him up out of water by the sound of trumpets, casting into the deep pool as offerings to the "Pylaochus." The trumpets they conceal within the thyrsi as Socrates has described it in his treatise on Rituals. The Titanic also and Nyctelean rites are of the same kind with

p. 30

the fabled tearing to pieces of the body of Osiris, his re-turnings to life, and his new births; and, similarly, the stories about his burials. For the Egyptians, as already stated, show Tombs of Osiris in many places; and the Delphians believe that the relics of Bacchus are deposited with themselves by the side of the Oracle: 1 and their "Holy Ones" offer a secret sacrifice in the Temple of Apollo at what time the Bacchantes waken up "Him of the winnowing fan." And that the Greeks hold Bacchus for lord and leader not only of the wine but of the whole element of Moisture, Pindar is sufficient testimony where he says, "May Bacchus that rejoiceth greatly in trees and pastures, augment the pure light of Autumn," for which reason it is forbidden to those that worship Osiris to destroy any cultivated tree, or to stop up any spring of water.

XXXVI. For not the Nile only, but all moisture in general they call the "Issue of Osiris," and the water vase always leads the procession of the priests in honour of the god, and by the figure of a fig-leaf they represent a king, and the Southern quarter of the world; and the fig-leaf is interpreted as the watering and stimulation of all things, and it is supposed to resemble in its shape the organ of generation. And when they celebrate (as already stated) the feast of Pamylia, which is a phallic one, they expose and carry about an image of which the genital member is thrice the natural size; for the god is the Final Cause, and every Final Cause multiplied by generation a function, that which proceeds from itself: and for "often" we are accustomed to say "thrice," for example "thrice-happy," and—

"Three times as many chains, without an end."

[paragraph continues] Unless perhaps, this triplication of the member was understood by the ancients in its strict sense; inasmuch as the

p. 31

moist Principle being the Final Cause and origin of all things, has produced from the beginning the three first elements, Earth, Air, Fire. For the tale that is tacked on to the myth, how that Typhon threw away the genital member of Osiris into the River, and that Isis could not find it, but deposited and prepared a model of the same, ordaining that people should honour it and carry the phallus about—all this permits us to infer that the generative and seminal power of the god had first for materials moisture, and by means of moisture was mixed up with the things fitted by Nature to participate in birth. There is another legend of the Egyptians that Apopis, being brother of the Sun, made war upon Jupiter, and that Jupiter adopted for son Osiris who had assisted him, and had brought the war to an end along with him, and surnamed him Bacchus. Of this legend the fabulous character can be shown to contain a touch of truth as regards natural history. For the Egyptians give the name of Jupiter to the breath1 to which everything dry and fiery is antagonistic. This latter element is not the Sun, but has a certain affinity to the Sun; now moisture quenching the excess of dryness, augments and strengthens the exhalations by means of which the wind is nourished and made vigorous.

XXXVII. And, moreover, the Greeks consecrate the ivy to Bacchus, and amongst the Egyptians it is called "Kenosiris," the name signifying (as they say) the "plant of Osiris"—Ariston, therefore, who wrote the "Colonies of the Athenians," met with an epistle of Alexarchus (a writer without any knowledge of the subject) in which it is related that Bacchus, being son of Isis, was not called "Osiris" by the Egyptians, but "Arsaphes" (in his First Book), this name signifying manliness. Hermæus, too, declares the same thing in his First Book "Upon the

p. 32

[paragraph continues] Egyptians," for he says that Osiris" interpreted is "weighty." I pass by Mnaseas who identifies with Epaphus both Bacchus, Osiris, and Serapis; I also pass over Anticlidas who, says that Isis was daughter of Prometheus, and consort of Bacchus—for the above-stated peculiarities in the sacrifices and ceremonies carry with them proof more convincing than any testimony.

XXXVIII. Of the stars, they hold Sirius to be Isis’ Water-carrier, they honour the Lion, and decorate the gateways of temples with gaping lions’ heads, because the Nile swells:—

"When first the Sun doth with the Lion join."

[paragraph continues] And as they hold and believe the Nile the issue of Osiris, so do they regard the earth as the body of Isis: not indeed the whole earth but just as much as the Nile inundates, fecundating and mingling with it; for from the union they beget Horus. Horus is that which preserves and nourishes all thing, namely the Seasons and the regulator of the circumambient air; and they tell that he was nursed by Leto in the marshes round Buto, because the watery and thoroughly soaked earth chiefly nurses the exhalations that quench and relax the dryness and drought of the air. "Nephthys" they call the remotest parts and boundaries of the land, and those contiguous to the sea; for which reason they style Nephthys the "end," and say that she is the consort of Typhon. And when the Nile rising beyond the usual height, and growing great, approaches on the opposite side towards the extremities of the country, they call this the copulation of Osiris with Nephthys, which is betrayed by the springing up of plants; amongst which is the melilote, by which flowers having fallen off and been left behind (by Osiris) Typhon made the discovery of the injury done to his bed: from which same copulation

p. 33

[paragraph continues] Isis indeed conceived Horus legitimately, but Nephthys had Anubis, a bastard. However, in the "Successions of the Kings" they record that Nephthys, being married to Typhon, was at first barren, and if they tell this not of a woman, but of a goddess, they express enigmatically that the entire extent of the country was unproductive, and bore no crops from barrenness.

XXXIX. The conspiracy and tyranny of Typhon means the power of drought getting the better of, and destroying the moisture that both generates and augments the Nile: and his helper, the Queen of the Ethiopians, signifies the south winds from Ethiopia; for when these prevail over the Etesian winds (which drive the clouds towards Ethiopia), and hinder them from dissolving into rains and swelling the Nile, then does Typhon take possession and burn; and at that time he has completely mastered the Nile, which through weakness is contracted and shrunk up within itself; and drives it out, hollow and humble, into the sea: for the shutting up of Osiris in the coffer probably means nothing else than the concealment and disappearance of the water: for which reason they say that Osiris vanished in the month Athyr, at which time, the Etesian winds having entirely ceased, the Nile recedes, and the country is laid bare, and night lengthening, darkness is increased, and the power of light wastes away and is subdued, and the priests also perform other dismal rites, and cover a gilt ox with a black veil of linen; and so exhibit it in mourning for the goddess (for they consider the ox as the animated image of Osiris) for four consecutive days, beginning with the seventeenth. For the things mourned for are four in number: first, the Nile failing and shrinking; secondly, the Northerly breezes entirely extinguished through the Southerly getting the upper hand; thirdly, the day growing shorter than the night; and in addition to all this, the exposure of the

p. 34

land, coupled with the stripping of the trees, which cast their leaves at that very time. But on the nineteenth at night they go down to the sea, and the "Dressers" and priests bring out the sacred coffer containing a little golden ark, into which they take and pour water from the river, and a shout is raised by the assistants, as though Osiris had been found: next, they knead garden earth with this water, and mingling therewith frankincense and precious spices, they model a little image in the shape of the Moon, and this they robe and decorate, expressing thereby that they hold these deities to be the Principles of Earth and Water.

XL. But when Isis has recovered Osiris, and is making Horus grow, strengthened by means of exhalations clouds and mists, Typhon has been conquered indeed, but not destroyed, because the goddess of the Earth hath not suffered the Principle opposed to moisture to be entirely exterminated, but she lowered and slackened the same, wishing that the mixture might still continue: inasmuch as it was not possible for the world to be complete if the fiery principle failed and were exterminated, and if all this is not told in so many words, yet one may not reasonably regret the story that Typhon of old conquered the party of Osiris. For Egypt was once sea; for which cause many places in the mines and in the mountains are found to contain shells to the present day; and all springs, and wells, whereof there are many, have their water brackish and bitter; as though being a stale remnant of the former sea which had collected there. But in time, Osiris got the better of Typhon; that is a good season of rains having cone on the Nile drove off the sea, and brought to light the flat ground, and filled up the same with its alluvial deposits: a thing that has for it the testimony of our senses: for we see even now that through the River's perpetually bringing down fresh mud, and adding on the

p. 35

land, the deep water gradually recedes, and the sea runs back, in consequence of the bottom rising up through the alluvial deposit: and the Pharos which Homer knew as distant a day's sail from Egypt, is new a part thereof: not that the island itself has grown larger, or come nearer, but because the sea has retreated through the river's forming and making the mainland to grow. This however is of the same kind with the theological theories of the Stoics, for they too say that the generative and nutritive spirit is Bacchus; the impulsive and separative, Hercules; the receptive, Ammon; Ceres and Proserpine, that which pervades the earth and her fruits; and Neptune that pervading the sea.

XLI. But such as mix with these physical doctrines others derived from astrology and the mathematics, think that Typhon signifies the solar world, and Osiris the Lunar: for that the moon having her light of a fertilising and more watery nature is favourable to the breeding of animals and the growing of plants: but that the sun is ordained with his unmitigated light to heat and parch up things that grow up and flourish, and to render the great part of the earth utterly uninhabitable through his blazing, and also to get the better of the Moon herself. For which reason the Egyptians always call Typhon "Seth," 1 which signifies that which tyrannises, and which forcibly constrains, and they fable that Hercules resides in the Sun, and travels about with him, but Hermes does the same with the Moon; for the effects of the Moon resemble the actions of reason, and those dictated by wisdom; whereas those of the Sun are like strokes brought to pass through violence and force, and the Stoics say that the Sun is set on fire, and derives his nutriment from the sea, whereas to the Moon the fountain

p. 36

and lacustrine waters send up a sweet and gentle exhalation.

XLII. On the seventeenth day of the month took place, as the Egyptians fable, the death of Osiris, on which day the full Moon being completed becomes most conspicuous: on which account the Pythagoreans call that day "Antiphraxis," (precaution); and generally abominate that particular number, for sixteen being a square number and eighteen having sides of unequal length which alone of the integral numbers have the peculiarity of possessing external measurements equal to the areas contained by them, 1 the seventeen intruding hedges off and disjoins them from one another, and distracts the proportion of one to eight, because it is itself cut up into unequal parts. The number of years that some say Osiris lived, others that he reigned, was eight-and-twenty: for just so many are the lights of the moon, and for so many days doth she revolve about her circle. By the wood they cut down at the so-called burials of Osiris, and construct therewith a crescent-shaped coffer, they signify that the Moon when she approaches the Sun, becomes crescent-shaped and hides herself: and the tearing up of Osiris into fourteen parts they interpret of the days during which the luminary wanes after full moon, until the new moon, and the day when she first appears after escaping the brightness of, and passing by the Sun, they style "Imperfect Good"; for Osiris is a doer of good, and his name signifies many things, but especially, as they say, "the power that is active and beneficial"; and the other name of Osiris, namely, "Ompis" means, according to Hermaeus, by interpretation "Benefactor."

p. 37

XLIII. For they are of opinion that to the lights of the Moon the risings of the Nile bear a certain analogy: for the greatest rising, that about Elephantine, is of eight-and-twenty cubits, the same in number as the lights and measures of her monthly revolutions, the lowest, around Mendes and Xois, is of six cubits, analogous to her half-quartering; and the mean, that round Memphis, when it is of the regular height, is fourteen cubits, corresponding to the full moon. Apis, they say, is the animated image of Osiris, and he is conceived when a generative light falls strongly from the Moon, and touches a cow that is in heat; for which cause many of the decorations of Apis resemble the appearances of the Moon; for he blackens over his shining parts with dusky robes, because it is on the new moon of the month Phamenath that they hold the festival, called by them "the Entrance of Osiris into the Moon"; being the commencement of spring. Thus they place the power of Osiris within the Moon, and say that Isis, being cause of his birth is also his consort. On this account they call the Moon the Mother of Saturn, and hold that she is of hermaphrodite nature, for she is filled and impregnated by the Sun, and again she emits and disseminates in the air generative principles: for that she doth not always express the mischief wrought by Typhon; but being after conquered by the birth, and bound thereby, she nevertheless emerges again and fights her way through to Horus: this latter is the universe surrounding the earth, which is not entirely exempt either from generation or destruction.

XLIV. Some make an allegory out of the rule of the eclipses, for the Moon is eclipsed at her full, when the Sun holds the station opposite to her when she falls into the shadow of the earth, in the same way as they tell Osiris did into the coffer; and she herself, upon the thirtieth conceals and puts out of sight, yet does not altogether destroy,

p. 38

the Sun, as neither did Isis Typhon. And when Nephthys conceives Anubis, Isis adopts him, for Nephthys signifies what is under the earth and invisible; Isis, what is above ground and visible; and the circle touching these, called the Horizon, and common to both, has been named Anubis, and is figured as a dog; for the dog has the use of his sight both by night and by day; and Anubis appears to have the same office with the Egyptians that Hermes has with the Greeks, being both infernal and celestial. Some, however, think that Anubis signifies Time, wherefore as he brings forth all things out of himself, and conceives all things within himself, he gets the title of Dog. Besides, the votaries of Anubis celebrate a certain mystery, 1 and in old times the dog enjoyed the highest honours in Egypt. But when Cambyses had slain the apis and cast him out, nothing approached, or tasted of the carcase, except the dog, so he lost his place of the first, and the most honoured of all the other animals. And there are some that think he is the shadow of the earth into which the Moon passes when she is eclipsed, and they call him Typhon.

XLV. From all which, it is not unreasonable to conclude that no one singly says what is right, and that all collectively do so; for it is neither drought, nor wind, nor the sea, nor darkness, but generally every hurtful and mischievous part that earth contains, which belongs to Typhon. For we must not place the principles of the all in lifeless bodies, as do Democritus and Epicurus: nor yet assume as modeller of untreated matter, one Reason and one Providence, like the Stoics, that prevails over and subdues all things: for it is impossible that anything at all, whether bad or good, should exist, where God is cause of nothing. For the harmony of the universe is reciprocal, like that

p. 39

of a lyre or bow, according to Heraclitus, and according to Euripides:—

"Evil and good cannot occur apart;
 There is a mixture to make all go well."

[paragraph continues] Consequently this is a most ancient notion, that comes down from theologians and lawgivers to poets and philosophers, which has its origin unattributed, but the belief therein strong and not to be effaced, not consisting in words and reports, but in ceremonies and sacrifices, of Barbarians and Greeks alike, and diffused in many places, that neither is the Universe without mind, without reason, and without guidance, and tossed about at random, nor yet is there One Reason that rules and directs all things as it were, by a rudder and by guiding reins, 1 but that there are many such directors, and made up out of good and bad; or rather, to speak generally, inasmuch as Nature produces nothing unmixed here below, it is not one Dispenser that like a retail dealer mixes together things for us out of two vessels and distributes the same, 2 but it is from two opposite Principles and two antagonistic Powers; the one guiding us to the right hand and along the straight road, the other upsetting and rebuffing us, that Life becomes of a mixed nature; and also the Universe (if not the whole, yet that which surrounds Earth, and lies below the Moon), is made inconsistent with itself, and variable and susceptible of frequent changes. For if nothing can happen without cause, and good cannot furnish cause for evil, it follows that the nature of Evil, as of Good, must have an origin and principle of its own.

XLVI. And this is the opinion of most men, and those

p. 40

the wisest, for they believe, some that there are Two Gods, as it were of opposite trades—one the creator of good, the other of bad things; others call the better one "God," the other "Dæmon," as did Zoroaster the Magian, who, they record, lived 5,000 years before the Trojan War. He therefore calls the former "Oromazes," the latter "Arimanios;" and furthermore explains that of all the objects of sense, the one most resembles Light, the other Darkness, and Ignorance; and that Mithras is between the two, for which reason the Persians call Mithras the "Mediator," and he [Zoroaster] taught them to offer sacrifice of vows and thanksgiving to the one, of deprecation and mourning to the other. For they bruise a certain herb called "omoine" in a mortar and invoke Hades and Darkness, and mixing it with the blood of a wolf they have sacrificed, they carry away and throw it into a place where the Sun never comes, for of plants they believe some to belong to the good God, others to the evil Dæmon; and similarly of animals, dogs, birds, and land hedgehogs belong to the Good, but to the Bad One water rats, for which reason they hold happy men that have killed the greatest number of such things.

XLVII. They too, nevertheless, tell many fabulous stories concerning their gods—for example, the following: that Oromazes sprang out of the purest Light, but Arimanios out of Darkness; they wage war upon each other. Oromazes created six gods, the first of Goodwill, the second of Truth, the third of Order, of the rest one of Wisdom, one of Wealth, one of Pleasure in things beautiful. 1 The other God created, as it were, opponents to these deities, equal in number. Then Oromazes, having augmented himself threefold, severed from the Sun as much space as the Sun is distant from Earth, and adorned the heavens with stars; and one star he appointed before all for guard

p. 41

and look out, namely Sirius. And having created four-and-twenty other gods, he shut them up in an egg; but those made by Arimanios, being as many as they, pierced the egg that had been laid, and so the bad things were mixed up with the good. But a time appointed by fate is coming, in which Arimanios having brought on famine and pestilence must needs be destroyed by the same and utterly vanish; when the earth becoming plain and level there shall be one life and one government of men, all happy and of one language. Theopompus says that, according to the Magi, one of the Gods shall conquer, the other be conquered, alternately for 3,000 years; for another 3,000 years they shall fight, war, and undo one the works of the other; but in the end Hades shall fail, and men shall be happy, neither requiring food nor constructing shelter: whilst the God who hath contrived all this is quiet and resting himself for a time, for that God may well slumber, but not long, like as a man reposing for a moderate space. The religious system of the Magi is of the aforesaid character.

XLVIII. The Chaldeans hold that the gods belong to the planets, of whom two they call "doers of good," two "makers of evil;" the other three they describe as intermediate and neutral. But the notions of the Greeks are, I suppose, plain enough to every one, for they make the good part that of the Olympian Jove, that of the hostile deity they give to Hades; and they fable that Harmony was the child of Venus and Mars, of whom the one is cruel and quarrelsome, the other gentle, and presiding over birth. Consider too the philosophers that side with them, for Heraclitus directly calls Mars, father, lord, and ruler of all things; and says that Homer, when he prays that

"Perish Contention, both from gods and men,"

forgets that he is cursing the origin of all things, inasmuch

p. 42

as they derive their origin from contention and antipathy, and the Sun will not overpass his appointed limits, otherwise:

"The avenging tongue of Law would find him out,"

and Empedocles calls the Beneficent Principle "Love" and "Friendship," and frequently too, Harmony, "with glowing face," but the Evil Principle he styles

"Contentiousness accurst, and blood-stained War."

[paragraph continues] Now the Pythagoreans characterize these Principles by several names: the Good One, as the "One," the "Definite," the "Abiding," the "Straight," the "Exceeding," the "Square," the "Equal," the "Right-handed," the "Bright;" the Bad One as the "Two," the "Indefinite," the "Unstable," the "Crooked," the "Sufficient," the "Unequally-sided" (parallelogram), the "Unequal," the "Left-handed," the "Dark"—inasmuch as these are supposed the final causes of existence—Anaxagoras defines them as "Mind," and the "Infinite;" Aristotle, the one as "Form," the other as "Deprival." Plato, as it were mystifying and veiling the matter, denominates in many places one of the opposing Principles as "The Same;" the second, as "The Other;" but in his "Laws," being now grown older, he no longer speaks in riddles and symbolically, but names them directly. "Not by one soul," says he, "was the universe set in motion, but by several, perhaps, at all events, by not less than Two; whereof the one is beneficent, the other antagonistic to this, and the creator of opposite effects: and there is room for a Third Principle to exist, one intermediate between the Two, which is neither destitute of soul, nor of reason, nor of impulse from within (as some suppose), but subordinate to those Two Principles, ever seeking after the Better One, and desiring and following after it," as the part of the treatise

p. 43

which follows will show, for he adopts into this system chiefly the religious notions of the Egyptians.

XLIX. For the origin and constitution of this world are mixed, being formed out of opposite principles—not, however, of equal force with each other, but the superiority belonging to the Better One. But it is impossible that the Bad One should be entirely destroyed, as it is largely implanted in the body, largely in the soul of the all, and always contending against the Better One. Now in the soul, Mind, and Reason, the best masters and guides, are Osiris; but in Earth and Water, Winds and Stars, that which is ordered, permanent, and healthy, in seasons, temperament, and revolutions, are the issue of Osiris, and the image of him made visible. But Typhon is the part of the soul that is subject to the passions, Titan-like, unreasonable, and impulsive; but of the body (he is) the part that is unsound, subject to disease, and liable to disturbance by bad seasons and inclement weather, by the concealments of the Sun, and the disappearances of the Moon—such as deviations from its course, vanishings, and whirlwinds. And the name "Seth," by which they call Typhon, proves this; for it signifies "That which tyrannizes and constrains by force," it likewise signifies a "return," and again an "overleaping." Bebaeon, again, some say, was one of the companions of Typhon, whilst Manethos asserts that Typhon was called "Bebon," and that the name signifies a "holding back," and "hindrance,"—implying that the power of Typhon stands in the way of things going on regularly and towards their proper end.

L. For which reason, they give him for attribute the most stupid of all tame animals, namely, the ass; and of the wild, the most savage, namely, the crocodile and the hippopotamus. With respect to the ass we have already explained the meaning, but at Hermopolis they show as a figure of Typhon a hippopotamus, upon which stands a

p. 44

hawk fighting with a serpent; by the hippopotamus signifying Typhon, by the hawk power and virtue, [or sovereignty,] which Typhon frequently gains by force, and never ceases 1 to be disturbed by his own wickedness, and to disturb others; for which cause when they sacrifice on the 7th of the month Sybi (which they call "The Coming of Isis out of Phœnicia") they stamp upon the consecrated cakes the figure of a hippopotamus bound. In the city Apollinopolis, it is the custom that every one must by all means eat a bit of crocodile [once a year]. And on one day they catch and kill as many crocodiles as they can, and lay them out in front of the temple, saying that Typhon ran away from Horus changing himself into a crocodile,—thus making out all animals, plants, and feelings, that are noxious and bad, to be the productive parts and instigations of Typhon.

LI. Osiris, on the contrary, they represent by an eye and a sceptre, whereof the one signifies foresight, the other power; in the same way as Homer by calling Jupiter, who governs and reigns over all, by the titles "Supreme" and "Knowing," probably indicates by the "Supreme" his power, by the "Knowing" his good counsel and intelligence. They frequently represent this god by the figure of a hawk, for that bird excels all in acuteness of sight and swiftness of flying; and by nature digests its food most rapidly of all. The bird is also said, when corpses are lying about unburied, to hover over them, and drop earth upon their eyes. And when in order to drink it descends upon the river, it sets its wings upright, and having drank bends them back again; by which it is evident that it protects itself, and escapes from the crocodile, for if it should be swallowed up, the wing remains as it stood, fixed upright. 2 In many places also, they exhibit a statue of Osiris in the

p. 45

human shape, erecting the genitals, on account of his generative and nutritive character, whilst the flame-coloured robe investing his images, is [put] because they regard the Sun as the body of the Good Principle, the visible form of the Intelligible Being. Hence we ought to pay no attention to such as assign to Typhon the sphere of the Sun—he that has nothing bright, nor salutary, neither order, nor power of generating, nor motion regulated by measure and reason; but all the opposite qualities belong to him. For drought which destroys many things, both of animals and vegetables, must not be put down as the effect of the Sun, but of the winds and waters in earth and air not being seasonably mingled together, when the Principle of disorderly and unregulated force has got loose and has extinguished the exhalations.

LII. In the sacred hymns to Osiris they invoke "Him that is carried within the arms of the Sun," and on the 30th day of the mouth Emphi they celebrate "the Birthday of the Eyes of Horus," when the Sun and the Moon are come into one straight line, inasmuch as they consider not the Moon alone, but the Sun also as the eye and the light of Horus. And on the 8th day from the end of the month Phaophi they celebrate that of "The Sun's walking-stick," after the autumnal equinox, signifying that he requires as it were a support, and strengthening, as he grows weak both in heat and light, and moves away from us, bending down, and crooked. And again upon the eve of the winter solstice they carry the Cow seven times around the temple; and this circular procession is named the "Seeking for Osiris," as though the goddess were longing for the winter rays from the Sun; and they walk round so many times, because he completes his journey from the winter solstice to the summer solstice in the seventh month. And on the 4th day from the beginning of the month it is said that Horus, son of Isis, was the first that offered sacrifice,

p. 46

as it is written in what are entitled "The Birthdays of Horus," and in fact they on each day burn incense to the Sun of three different sorts, namely, resin at his rising, myrrh at noontide, that which is called "kyphi," at his setting, of which the signification that each bears I will explain further on; and by means of all these they believe they propitiate and worship the Sun. And what need is there to bring together many things to the same effect? There are some that assert point-blank that Osiris is the Sun, and is named Sirius by the Greeks (for amongst the Egyptians the prefixing of the article has caused the name to be mistaken 1), and make out Isis to be no other than the Moon; and one particular of her images, those figured with horns, are (say they) imitations of the crescent; whilst by those covered with black they interpret her wanings, and envelopment in darkness, during which she longs for, and follows after the Sun: for which reason they invoke the Moon for aid in love affairs; and Isis, says Eudoxus, presides over amours. These stories, indeed, have a certain share of plausibility, but as for those that make out Typhon to be the Sun, these are not even to be listened to. Let us, however, now resume our proper theme.

LIII. For Isis is the Female Principle of Nature, and that which is capable of receiving all generation, in virtue of which she is styled by Plato, "Nurse," and "All-receiving," but by the generality, "The one of numberless names;" because she is converted by the Logos (Reason) into, and receives, all appearances and forms. But she has, implanted in her nature, the love for the First and Supreme of all, the which is identical with the Good, and this she longs after and continually pursues: whereas the part that belongs to the Bad One she flees from and repels,

p. 47

though she is the field and material for them both; of herself always inclining towards the Better One, and permitting it to generate and discharge into herself emissions and likenesses, wherewith she rejoices and is glad to be impregnated, and to be filled with births—for birth is an image of existence in Matter, and that which is born is a copy of that which is.

LIV. From all this, they do not absurdly to fable that the soul of Osiris is eternal and incorruptible, but that his body Typhon did tear to pieces and put out of sight; and Isis wandered about, sought for it, and joined it together again; for that which is, the Intelligible and the Good, is above all change or corruption, but the Sensible and Corporeal models certain images after His likeness, and borrows certain rational principles, forms, and resemblances, which, like seal-impressions in wax, do not last for ever, but the disorderly and turbulent Principle, driven down hither from above, seizes upon them—that Principle which is at war with the Horus whom Isis bore, who is the Sensible image of the Intelligible World. For this reason he (Horus) is related to have had a charge of illegitimacy brought against him by Typhon, because he is not pure and without alloy like his father the Word (Reason), (who exists by himself free from admixture and from passion), but is bastardized by Matter, on account of his bodily part. Nevertheless he gains his cause through Hermes, that is the Word (Reason), bearing witness and proving how that Nature changing her from after the model of the Intelligible, produces the World. For the birth of Apollo that came to pass between Isis and Osiris, whilst the (twin) gods as yet lay within the womb of Rhea, darkly expresses that this world first became visible, and that Matter, being proved to be incomplete in itself, was perfected by the Word (Reason), and thus produced the first birth. On which account they tell that this god was lame and lying

p. 48

in darkness, and they name him the "Elder Horus;" for the world did not exist, but an image as it were, a spectre of the world that was to be.

LV. Now this Horus is well-defined, and complete, he has not destroyed Typhon utterly, but stripped him of his activity and strength: for which reason they say the statue of Horus at Coptos grasps in his one hand the genitals of Typhon, and they fable that Hermes cut out the sinews of Typhon, and used them for lyre strings, thereby meaning that the Word brought the all into harmony, made it concordant out of discordant parts, and did not destroy its destructive principle, but merely ham-strung it. Hence, this principle is weak and inoperative here below, mingling itself and clinging close to such members as are subject to corruption and to change, it is the creator of earthquakes and tremors in the ground, of droughts in the air, and strange blasts; and, again, of whirlwinds and lightnings. and it infects waters and winds with pestilences, and rears up and tosses itself as far as the Moon, oftentimes checking and darkening her lustre, as the Egyptians believe. And they tell that Typhon at one time hit Horus; at another struck out his eye and swallowed it up, and then gave it back to the Sun; signifying by blow the monthly waning of the Moon, by blinding, her eclipse, which the Sun remedies, when he again reflects himself upon her, after she has passed through the shadow of the earth.

LVI. Now the better and more divine Nature is made up of Three—the Intelligible, Matter, and that formed out of these two, which the Greeks denominate World. Plato calls the Intelligible "Idea," "Model," "Father," and Matter he terms "Mother," "Nurse," the seat and receptacle of generation; and that which results from both he is accustomed to denominate "Issue," and "Birth," and we may conjecture that the Egyptians [reverence] the

p. 49

most beautiful kind of triangle, 1 because they liken it to the nature of the universe, and Plato seems to employ this figure in his "Republic," when drawing up his Marriage scheme. The triangle, too, has this property—three the right angle, and four the base, and five the hypothenuse, being of equal value with the lines containing it. We must therefore compare the line forming the right angle to the male, the base to the female, the hypothenuse to the child of the two; and the one to be Osiris, as the Final Cause; the other, Isis as the recipient; the third, Horus as the result; for as to the Three, the first, it is uneven and perfect; for the Four, a square with a perfect side, is the produce of the Two: as for the Five, it partly resembles the father, partly the mother, being made up of the three and the two; also the All derives its name from the Five (πάντα, πέντε) and to reckon is called "counting by fives," for the number Five produces when squared the same number as that of the letters of the Egyptian alphabet, and also the number of years that Apis lived. Horus they are accustomed to style "Kaimis," that is "He that is seen," for the world is an object of sense, and visible to the eye; and Isis is sometimes styled "Mouth," sometimes "Athyri" and "Methyer;" by the first of these names they signify "Mother," by the second "The worldly house of Horus" (in the same way as Plato has the "Seat" and "Receptacle of generation"); the third title is a compound from "full" and "cause," because Matter is full of the world; and is made up of that which is good, pure, and well arranged.

LVII. Hesiod too may be thought, when he makes the first elements of Creation to be Chaos, Earth, Tartarus, Love, to assume no other first Principles than those aforesaid. Let us therefore distribute his names and assign them thus: to Isis that of Earth, to Osiris that of Love,

p. 50

to Typhon that of Tartarus, for his Chaos seems to imply a certain place or basis for the Universe; and the case, somehow or other, recalls that fable of Plato's which Socrates has related in the "Symposean" concerning the birth of Love, how that Poverty, being desirous of having children, laid herself down by the side of Wealth as he was asleep, and, conceiving by him, brought forth Love, who is small and of every shape, inasmuch as he is the offspring of a father that is good, wise, and competent for all things, but of a mother that cannot help herself, destitute, and through her need is always attaching herself to someone else and suing to someone else. For his "Wealth" is no other than the Primal Lover, Projector, Finisher, and All-sufficient; and by "Poverty" he means Matter, which is by itself in need of the Good One, is impregnated by him, is ever craving and ever receiving, whilst he that springs from the two (the World, or Horus), is neither eternal, nor free from passions, nor incorruptible, yet being ever re-born, contrives by means of the changes and revolutions of the passions to continue always young and never to be destroyed.

LVIII. For we must make use of myths, not entirely as [real] histories, but taking out of them that which is to the purpose, and is in the form of a similitude. When, therefore, we speak of Matter, we must not borrow our notions from certain philosophers, and think of it as a body without soul, uncreative, idle, and inactive of itself, for we call oil the material of perfume, and gold of an ornament, though they are not devoid of every quality by themselves: and the soul itself and intellect of man we hand over to Reason to beautify and to regulate, as being the material of knowledge and virtue: and the mind some have made out to be the region of Ideas, and a thing modelled after the Intelligible world: and some are of opinion that the seed of generation is not a power nor final cause, but only

p. 51

the material and instrument of generation. These [theorists] we ought to follow, and conceive this goddess as having part in the Primal God, and ever joined with him out of love for the goodness and beauty that surround him, yet is never satiated; but like as we say that a man who is obedient to law and what is just, is enamoured of justice, and a virtuous woman that has a husband and lives with him, always desires him, so we must conceive this goddess as always craving after the Good One, though she be ever in his presence, and is ever being filled with the most powerful and purest influences.

LIX. But where Typhon intrudes, laying hold of the extremities, in this case, where she appears to be of sad countenance, and is said to mourn and be seeking after certain scattered members of Osiris, and to robe the same, [she is] receiving into her lap and concealing the things that were destroyed, in the same way as she again brings to light the things that are born, and sends them forth out of herself. For the things that be in the heavens and the stars, the reasons, forms, and emissions of the God are unchangeable, whereas those disseminated through the things subject to passion, namely, in earth, sea, vegetables, animals, are interchangeable, perishable, and buried: and again afterwards come to light once more, and are made visible by their births: for which reason the fable tells that Nephthys was the wife of Typhon, but that Osiris lay with her by stealth; because the extreme parts of Matter (which parts they denominate "Nephthys" and "End") are chiefly possessed by the destructive Power, whereas the generative and life-giving Principle distributes amongst them but a weak and dull seed, and which is destroyed by Typhon, except what little Isis takes up and saves and nourishes, and unites together, for on the whole this world is more good than bad, as Plato suspected, as well as Aristotle.

LX. For the generative and conservative Principle of

p. 52

[paragraph continues] Nature is set in motion against him (Typhon) for the purpose of Being, whilst the determinating and corrupting part is moved by him for the purpose of not being. Hence they name the former Isis, from its being "sent out" (ἴεσϑαι), and travelling, with knowledge, as being a "motion endued with soul," and intelligence, since her Name is not a foreign word; for just as all gods have a common designation derived from "Visible" and "Running" (θεοὶ from θεατὸς and θέειν), so this goddess do we call Isis, and the Egyptians also Isis, from the word signifying "knowledge" and "Motion" at the same time. And thus Plato says that the ancients signified "Holy One" (ὁσία) by calling her "Isia," and similarly "Intelligence" and "Perception," as being a current and movement impulse of the mind that longs for an object and is carried onwards; and that they placed understanding (τὸ συνίεναι) and, generally, goodness and virtue in the things that flow and that run; as on the other hand that thing is reviled by the opposite names, the which, according to its nature, is au impediment, binds down, holds back, and hinders from rushing after and going, for we denominate it "badness," "inability," "cowardice," "pain."

LXI. Now "Osiris" has got his name compounded out of the words ἵσιος and ἱερὸς: for he is the common Word (Reason) of the things in heaven, and of those in hell, of which the former the ancients were wont to term ἱερὰ, the latter ὅσια. And he that reveals the things of heaven, the Word of those that move above, is named "Anubis," sometimes "Hermanubis," 1 the former as belonging to those above, the latter as belonging to those below; for which reason people sacrifice to the one a white cock, to the other a saffron-coloured 2 one; for they believe the

p. 53

former character of the god to be unmixed and public, the latter composite and multifarious. You must not be surprised at this derivation of names from the Greek, for there are an infinite number of other words that went into exile along with those that emigrated 1 from Greece, but remain in use and sojourn as foreigners amongst other nations; for adopting some of which certain people censure poetry as talking barbarously; those writers, [critics] I mean, who tern things of the kind "dialects" (γλώσσαι). And in what are named "the Books of Hermes," they relate that it is written concerning the Sacred Names, that the Power appointed to preside over the circuit of the Sun, Horus, the Greeks call Apollo; and that which presides over the Wind some call Osiris, some Sarapis, others Sothi, in the Egyptian language. The last word signifies "pregnancy," and "to conceive;" hence, through a corruption of the word, the star is called the Dog 2 in Greek, which they consider an attribute of Isis. But we ought by no means to dispute about names, not but that we might have reclaimed from the Egyptians their name of "Sarapis" rather than that of Osiris, the former being a foreign and the latter a Greek word; but we hold them both as belonging to one God and to one Power.

LXII. The Egyptian usage is cognate to the aforesaid, for they often designate Isis by the name of Athene, which expresses the same meaning, "I have proceeded out of myself," and is expressive of self-communicated motion. But Typhon, as above stated, is called Seth, Bebon, and Syn—these names being meant to declare a certain forcible and impeding check, opposition, and turning upside down. Besides, they call a loadstone "Bone of Osiris," but iron "of Typhon" (as Manetho relates), for just as the iron is

p. 54

often, like something alive, attracted to and following after the loadstone, but often turns away and is repelled from it in the opposite direction, in like manner the salutary good and rational motion of the world often attracts by persuasion, draws to itself, and renders more gentle that harsh and Typhonian force; and again, when it has been driven back into itself, it upsets the latter, and plunges it once more into helplessness. Besides, with respect to Jupiter, Eudoxus relates that the Egyptians have a legend that in consequence of his legs having grown into one, he was unable to walk, and out of shame remained in solitude, but that Isis, having cut asunder and separated these parts of his body, rendered his walking powers sound footed. Through these things also does Fable hint, that the Mind and Word of God, which had walked in the Invisible and the Hidden, carne out into Knowledge by means of Motion.

LXIII. The Sistrum too shows that the things that are must be shaken, and never cease from motion, but be as it were aroused and stirred up when they slumber and are slothful, for they pretend they drive off and repulse 1 Typhon with the sistra, showing that when Corruption has tied fast and brought it to a standstill, Generation again unlooses and restores Nature by means of Motion. And as the sistrum is circular in the upper part, the arch contains the four things that are shaken, because the part of the universe that is born and perishes, is surrounded by the Lunar sphere, but all things are set in motion and changed within it by means of the four elements, Fire, Earth, Water, Air. And on the arch of the sistrum, at the top, they figure a Cat having a human face [sphinx], and on the lower part, below the things that are shaken, sometimes a head of Isis, sometimes of Nephthys, symbolizing by these heads Generation and End 

p. 55

[paragraph continues] (for these are the Changes and Motions of the elements), and by the Cat, the Moon, on account of the pied colour, 1 nocturnal habits, and fecundity of the animal, for it is said to bring forth one, and then two, then three, then four, up to five at a birth, and always adds by one up to seven [to her litter], so that in all it produces eight-and-twenty young, the which are equal in number to the illuminations of the Moon. This, however, may be somewhat fabulous, but the pupils in its eyes appear to grow full and dilate themselves at the full of the moon, but become thin and dull during the wane of that luminary; and by the human head of the Cat they express the intelligence and rationality of the changes connected with the Moon.

LXIV. And to speak comprehensively, neither Water, nor Sun, nor Earth, nor Rain, is it correct to regard as Osiris or Isis; nor on the other hand, Drought, or Sea, or Fire, as Typhon; but simply whatever in these elements is either excessive or disordered in its changes, or deficiencies, to assign this to Typhon: whilst all that is well-ordered, good, and beneficial, we must regard as the work indeed of Isis, but as the image, imitation, and Reason of Osiris. If so we worship and honour them, we shall not go wrong. Nay more, we shall make Eudoxus cease from disbelieving, and being perplexed, wherefore the superintendence of love-affairs is not given to Ceres, but to Isis; and why Bacchus is not empowered to raise the Nile or to rule over the Shades;—for by one common rule we hold that these two deities are ordained to preside over the whole empire of the Good; and that all whatever exists in Nature beautiful and good, exists through their means; the one supplying the final causes, the other receiving them, and continuing permanent.

LXV. In this way we shall also meet those common

p. 56

and trivial stories of people whether to identify the legends concerning these deities with the seasonable changes of the atmosphere, or with the growth, sowings, and ploughings of the grain; and who say that Osiris is then buried when the sown grain is hidden in the ground, and that he comes to life and shows himself again when there is a beginning of sprouting; wherefore Isis perceiving that she is pregnant, ties an amulet round her neck on the 6th of the first quarter of the month Phaophi, and that Harpocrates is born about the winter solstice, unfinished and infant-like in the plants that flower early and spring up early, for which reason they offer to him first fruits of growing lentiles, and they celebrate her being brought to bed after the vernal equinox. For when they hear all this, people are satisfied and believe it; drawing as they do conviction from home, from things at hand, and with which they are familiar.

LXVI. And it is no great harm if in the first place they make the gods our common property, and not the exclusive possession of the Egyptians; instead of by confining these names to the Nile alone, and the region the Nile waters, or by talking of marshes, lotus-flowers, and god-making, thereby deprive the rest of mankind of deities of the highest order nothing to do with either—who have neither Nile, Butos, or Memphis. But Isis, and the gods connected with her, all men have and know—some of them indeed they have, not long ago, learnt to call by names brought from Egypt; but of each one they knew and reverenced the power from time immemorial. And secondly, and what is more important—let them take good heed, and fear lest they unwittingly degrade and resolve divine beings into winds and currents and sowings and ploughings, and affections of the earth, and changes of seasons; like as those who say that Bacchus is wine, Vulcan flame; and, as Cleanthes somewhere or other says,

p. 57

that Proserpine means the air that that Proserpine means the air that pervades the crops, and is slaughtered; and as a poet has it:—

"What time the youths cut Ceres, limb from limb."

[paragraph continues] For these persons differ in no respect from such as should consider sails, cables, and anchor as a pilot, or yarn and thread as a weaver; or a jug and basin as a potter, or else honeyed potions and gruel as a physician.

LXVII. But those theorists engender horrible and impious notions, who apply the names of deities to natural productions and to things that be without sense, without life, and necessarily consumed by men in want of and making use of them. For these things themselves it is impossible to conceive as gods (for we cannot conceive God as an inanimate thing, subject to man), but from these productions we have drawn the inference that they who created them, and bestow, and dispense them to us constantly and sufficiently, are gods—not different gods amongst different people, nor Barbarian or Grecian, of the South or of the North—but like as the Sun, Moon, Sky, Earth, Sea, are the common property of all men, but yet are called by different names by different nations; in the same manner, as one reason regulates all things, and one Providence directs, and subordinate Powers are appointed over all things, yet different honours and titles are by custom assigned to them amongst different peoples: and these have established, and do employ, symbols, some obscure, some more intelligible, in order to lead the understanding into things divine. And this not without danger: for some having entirely missed their meaning, have slid into superstition; whilst others shunning every superstition like a quagmire, have unknowingly fallen into Atheism 1 as down a precipice.

p. 58

LXVIII. For which cause it is especially fitting in this case that we borrow from Philosophy Reason for our guide, and so consider each particular of the things told and done: in order that we may not, as Theodorus expresses it, "when he offers words with his right hand some of his hearers take them with their left;" in the sane way we should go wrong by taking in a different sense what the laws have ordained well concerning sacrifices and festivals. For that we ought to construe all things according to their sense, we may learn from these people themselves of whom we are treating: for on the nineteenth day of the first month they hold a festival to Hermes, and eat honey and figs, repeating "A sweet thing is the Truth;" and again the charm which Isis hangs about her neck is interpreted as "A True Voice:" 1 and Harpocrates we must not regard as an incomplete and infant god, or some sort of pulse, but as presiding over and correcting men's notions of the deities, when as yet new, incomplete, and inarticulate; for which reason he has his finger laid upon his mouth in token of reticence and silence. And in the month Mesori, they serve up pulse, repeating "The Tongue is Fortune, the Tongue is a deity," and of all the plants growing in Egypt they say the Persea is the most sacred to the gods, because its fruit resembles a heart, and its leaf a tongue. For of all that man possesses by nature nothing is more divine than speech, especially that which concerns the gods; nor has anything greater weight towards his happiness: wherefore I enjoin 2 upon him that goes down here 3 to consult

p. 59

the oracle "to think religiously, to speak auspiciously:" but most people act ridiculously, when in the processions and festivals they bid us speak auspiciously, whilst they both speak and think most blasphemously about the gods themselves.

LXIX. In what manner therefore must we conduct those melancholy, laughterless, and mournful sacrifices, if it is neither right to omit what is established by custom, nor yet to adulterate our notions about the gods, and disorder them with absurd fancies? For amongst the Greeks also many things are done (and at the same time of year too) resembling the Egyptian ceremonies: for at Athens the women fast at the Thesmophoria, seated on the ground; and the Bœotians "move the house of Achæa," naming the festival "Epachthe;" as though Ceres were in mourning on account of the descent of her daughter into the shades. Moreover, this month coincides with the rising of the Pleiads, which the Egyptians call Athor, the Athenians Pyanepsion, and the Bœotians Damatrios; the Western nations 1 also, as Theopompus relates, consider and call the winter Saturn, the summer Venus, and the spring Proserpine; and believe that all things come out of Saturn 2 and Venus. But the Phrygians believing that God sleeps by winter, but wakes up in spring, at the one time hold with revelry the feasts of his "Going to bed," at the other those of his "Getting up:" whilst the Paphlagonians say He is bound down and imprisoned by winter, but loosened, and set in motion by spring.

LXX. The time of year too suggests a suspicion that the mourning takes place upon the burial of the corn;

p. 60

which corn, indeed, those of old time did not regard as gods, but as gifts of the gods, both great and indispensable to the not living savagely and like the beasts: and at what season they saw the fruits of the trees vanishing entirely, and failing them, whilst those they themselves had sown as yet sparingly and clumsily, scraping away the soil with their hands, and covering them over again, so depositing them with the uncertainty of their reappearing and arriving at maturity—they used to do many things like to those that bury and that mourn:—and then, just as we say that one that buys the works of Plato, buys Plato; and he acts Menander that represents Menander's plays, so did they not scruple to call by the names of the gods the gifts and creations of the gods; doing them honour and reverence by use: whilst those who came after, receiving these names without understanding, and ignorantly transferring to the gods the vicissitudes of the seed corn, and not merely calling, but believing the appearances and concealments of the necessaries of life, "births" and "destructions" of gods, filled their heads with absurd, wicked and confused ideas.

LXXI. And yet people, having in view the absurdity of the contradiction, like Xenophanes of Colophon, and those following him, who said "that the Egyptians, if they believe in gods, do not mourn for them, and if they mourn for them do not believe in them;" but that it was ridiculous to lament and in the same breath to pray for the seed corn to show itself again, and ripen itself, in order that it may be again consumed and mourned for. But such is not really the case; for they mourn for the seed corn, but pray to the gods, the givers and authors of the same, to make more anew and cause it to spring up in the place of that which has perished. Whence there is a very good maxim amongst philosophers, "that they who learn

p. 61

not how rightly to understand names make a bad use of things;" just as those Greeks that have not learnt or accustomed themselves to call the brazen, painted, and marble images, not ornaments and honours of gods, but actual gods, in the next place do not scruple to say that Lachares stripped Minerva bare; that Dionysius cropped an Apollo that wore curls of gold; that the Capitoline Jupiter was burnt and perished in the Civil Wars. Let them learn therefore that they are led astray, and imbibe false notions, modelled upon the names. This is especially the case of the Egyptians with respect to the animals to which honours are paid; whereas the Greeks in this particular, at all events, both speak and believe correctly, saying that the dove is the sacred animal of Venus, the dragon 1 of Minerva, the raven of Apollo, the dog of Diana (as Euripides hath it—

"Thou wilt be a dog, torch-bearing Dian's pet").

[paragraph continues] But the most part of the Egyptians, by worshipping the sacred animals, and treating them as gods, have not only covered their rites with ridicule and mockery; although this is the least evil resulting from their simplicity; for a horrible belief grows up that gives over the weak-minded and innocent to superstition pure and unmitigated, whilst the acuter and bolder sort it leads into atheistical and bestial incredulity: hence it is not out of place to discuss the subject in the way that seems most appropriate to treat it.

LXXII. The notion that the gods changed themselves into these animals out of fear of Typhon, as it were hiding themselves in the bodies of ibises, dogs, and hawks, exceeds in absurdity every kind of jugglery and fabulous tale. Also the notion that the new births of the souls of the deceased, so many as continue to exist, is merely the

p. 62

being born again under these shapes, is equally incredible. And of such as attempt to assign some political cause for these legends, some pretend that Osiris upon his great expedition divided his forces into several parts ("companies" and "ranks" the Greeks call them), and gave them badges of the figures of animals, each of which became sacred and venerated by the family of those banded under it. Others, that the succeeding kings, for the sake of striking terror unto their adversaries, used to make their appearance in the battles wearing the heads of wild beasts made of gold and silver: but one of these clever and ingenious monarchs, they tell, observing that the Egyptians were naturally fickle and disposed to change and innovation, because they were easily cajoled, whilst from their numbers they possessed irresistible and ungovernable strength in unanimity and joint action—on that account taught them an everlasting superstition in the sowing of the ground, as a pretext for unceasing dissension among themselves. For, inasmuch as the beasts, different kinds of which he ordered different tribes to honour and worship, behave with illwill and hostility towards each other, and are respectively inclined by nature to live upon different sorts of food, each party, in defending their own animals and being indignant when they suffered harm, should unwittingly be involved and compromised in quarrels against each other through the enmities between the different beasts. For even at the present day the people of Lycopolis are the only Egyptians that eat the sheep, because the Wolf, whom they worship, does the same; and the Oxyrynchites on one day, when the people of Cynopolis (Dog-Town) were eating the fish called Oxyrynchus, collected dogs and sacrificed and eat them as victims; and from this occasion setting to war, they handled each other roughly, and afterwards being punished for it by the Romans, were equally ill-treated.

p. 63

LXXIII. And as many pretend that the soul of Typhon himself is divided amongst these animals, the fable may be thought to express enigmatically that every irrational and bestial nature belongs to the share of the Evil Spirit: and that people in order to propitiate and soothe Him, treat these animals well, and do them worship: and if a long and severe drought should come on, inducing to an extraordinary degree either pestilential diseases, or other strange and inexplicable calamities, then some of these honoured animals do the priests lead out in darkness, quietly and in silence, and at first they threaten and scare away the creature; but if it remains fixed, 1 then they consecrate and sacrifice it, as though this were some kind of punishment for its deity, or else a great mean of purification in the greatest emergencies. For in the city Idisthyas they used to burn men alive, as Manetho relates, calling them "Typhonians," and by tossing their ashes in a winnowing-fan made away with and scattered the same. This, however, was done publickly, every year, in the Dogdays, whereas the sacrificings of the worshipped animals are secret, taking place at irregular times according to the emergency, and are unknown to the commonalty, except at what time the animals receive burial, when the priests produce some of the other animals, and in the presence of all throw them along with the rest into the grave; thinking to retaliate upon Typhon's conduct and to prevent what he delights in. For the apis, along with a few others, is reputed sacred to Osiris, and if this explanation be true, I am of opinion it indicates what we are in search of in the case of the animals that are acknowledged and have joint honours with him, for instance, the ibis, the hawk, the baboon, and the apis himself; for so do they call the goat, that is, at Mendes.

LXXIV. There remains the utilitarian and symbolical part of the question, where some of these figures partake

p. 64

of one quality, some of the other, many of both combined. The ox, the sheep, the ichneumon, it is evident they venerated on account of their usefulness to man, just as the Lemnians do the larks that seek out and break the eggs of the locusts; and the Thessalians the storks, because when their land bred many snakes the birds made their appearance, and destroyed them all; wherefore they made a law that whosoever killed a stork should be banished the country. The asp, weasel, beetle, because they discerned in them certain faint reflexions of the power of the gods, like that of the sun in raindrops. And of the weasel many hold and say that as it is impregnated through the ear, and brings forth its young through the mouth, it is a similitude of the generation of Reason; whilst the beetle has no female, all being males, and discharge their semen into the material they have rolled into balls, which they roll along, pushing it with their feet as they walk in the opposite direction, in the same manner as the sun seems to surround the heavens backwards, whilst he himself is travelling from west to east. The asp as being immortal and capable of motion without limbs, with equal facility and suppleness, they likened to a star.

LXXV. Not even the crocodile receives honours that are devoid of any plausible reason, for it is said to have been made an emblem of the Deity, as being the sole animal destitute of a tongue. For the Divine Reason stands not in need of voice, but walking along a silent path and rule, guides mortal affairs according to justice; and the crocodile alone, of things living in liquid, veils its eyes with a thin transparent membrane which it draws down from the upper lid, so as to see without being seen, which is the attribute of the Supreme Deity; and wherever in the ground the female may have laid her eggs, that place they know is beyond reach of the rising of the Nile, because she cannot lay eggs in the wet, and yet is afraid to lay them at

p. 65

a distance from the water; so exactly do they foresee the future that they make use of the advancing river as they are bringing forth and hatching, and yet keep the eggs dry and free from damp, for they lay sixty and hatched them in as many days, and so many years live those that live longest, the which number is the first measure to the phenomena in the heavens. Again, as regards the animals worshipped—concerning the dog we have already spoken, but the ibis, besides destroying the venomous reptiles, first taught men the use of medicinal purging, when they observed the bird using clysters and getting cleared out by herself. Those of the priests that be most observant of rules, when they sanctify themselves use for the water of purification that out of which an ibis has drunk, because it neither drinks unwholesome or poisoned water, and does not even go near it, whilst by the relative position of its legs to each other (and the beak), it forms an equilateral triangle; besides, the variation and mixture of the black feathers with the white resembles the figure of the half moon.

LXXVI. We ought not to wonder at the Egyptians being so pleased with these imperfect resemblances; the Greeks too, in their painted and in their sculptured images of the gods, have employed many things of the same kind; for example, in Crete there was a statue of Jupiter, which had no ears, because it behoves the Ruler and Lord of gods to hearken unto no one; at the side of his Minerva, Phidias has placed the serpent; at the side of the Venus at Elis, the tortoise, implying that virgins stand in need of watching after, but home-keeping and silence are suitable to married women; and Neptune's trident is an emblem of the third place which the sea occupies, assigned to it after sky and air, on which account Amphitrite and the Tritons have been so named [as derived from τριτὸς]. The Pythagoreans have even adorned numbers and geometrical figures with the appellations of

p. 66

the gods; for the equilateral triangle they have named Minerva, "born out of the head," and "Tritogeneia," because it is described by three lines drawn from the angles: Unity they call Apollo; and by a plausible pretext, when the unit is doubled, the Two they name strife and audacity: but the Three they call justice, for it seems that wronging and being wronged exists by means of deficiency and excess, but what is just stands in the middle by reason of equality: and what is called the Four (the six and thirty), was their mightiest oath, as has been commonly reported; and the world 1 has been so denominated because it was completed by the four first elements, and the four superfluous qualities being joined together into One. If, therefore, the most illustrious philosophers when they discerned an emblem of the Divinity even in lifeless and incorporeal things did not think right to neglect or slight any of them, still less, I fancy, did they do so, 2 when they discerned moral qualities in natural objects endowed with sense, possessing life, passions, and tempers.

LXXVII. We must therefore put up with, not indeed their paying honours to these creatures, but their discerning through their medium (as in clearer mirrors) the work of Nature; and conceiving rightly that which is Divine as being the instrument and act of the God who ordereth all things. And it is right that nothing without a soul be held superior to that with a soul, or that which is without sense to what possesses sense, not even though one should bring together all the gold and emeralds that are in the world (for Divinity does not reside in uses, forms, and polish), but those things hold a place lower in estimation than the dead, whatever neither have participated, nor by their nature can participate in life; whereas that Nature which lives and sees, and has the final cause of motive

p. 67

from within itself, as also the knowledge both of what is its own and that of others, and besides, hath derived an influence and a portion from the Wisdom by which the universe (according to Heraclitus) is governed. For which reason, the Deity is not worse shadowed forth in these things, than in artistic works in bronze, which, while equally susceptible of decay and defilement, are by their nature devoid of perception and understanding. As regards the worshipped animals, therefore, this explanation I approve of the most of all those offered.

LXXVIII. Now to treat of the vestments of Isis, differing in their colours (for her power relates to Matter, as it turns itself into and embraces all things—light, darkness, day, night, life, death, beginning, end), whereas that of Osiris has no shadow nor variation but one, simple, the image of light; for pure is the Final Cause, and free from mixture the Primal and Intelligible. Wherefore, when they have once for all taken off that (vestment) they put it away, and preserve it out of sight and untouched. Whereas those of Isis they use on many occasions, because the objects of sense, being obvious and in constant use, present many unfoldings and exhibitions of themselves, as they succeed one after the other, whereas the conception of the Intelligible, the Unmixed, and the Holy, shines through at once, like a flash of lightning, touches the soul, and allows itself to be seen. For which reason Plato and Aristotle termed this part of philosophy "Speculative," because they passed over in reasoning these apparent, heterogeneous, and multiform ideas, and soar up towards the Primal, the Simple, and the Everlasting, and when they touch in any way the clear truth concerning these matters they think that philosophy is complete, and has gained its end.

LXXIX. And what the present priests of these days darkly reveal, making scruples about it, and disguising it

p. 68

with caution, namely, that this deity presides over and is king of the dead (being no other than the Hades and Pluto amongst the Greeks)—since it is not known in what sense the doctrine is true, disturbs the minds of the vulgar, when they have the idea that the sacred and truly holy Osiris dwells in the earth, and under the earth, where are hidden the corpses of such as seem to have come to an end. But He Himself dwells at the greatest distance from the earth, being unmixed, undefiled, and pure from all nature admitting of corruption and of death; but the souls of men here below, enveloped in bodies and passions, have no participation in the Deity, except as far as lies in grasping Him by conception, like an indistinct dream, by means of philosophy; but where they are set free and migrate to the Formless, Invisible, Impassive, and Good, then this God becomes leader and king over them, whilst they hang, as it were, upon him, and contemplate without ever being satiated, and long for that Beauty which can neither be spoken nor described—for which the old legend makes Isis desire, seek after, and dwell with, and fills things here below, whatever partake of birth, with all things beautiful and good. Such notions as these, then, have a sense best befitting the idea of the deity.

LXXX. And if I must speak of the kinds of Incense offered or their respective days (as I promised), let the reader before all things bear in mind that men have always felt the greatest anxiety about practices connected with health, especially as to religious ceremonies, purifications, and ways of living; this being done no less on account of religion than of health, because they did not consider it fitting to worship with festering or sickly bodies or souls, that which is pure, entirely exempt from decay, and free from pollution. And inasmuch as the air of which we make the most use and have most to do with, does not always keep the same constitution, but at night is condensed

p. 69

and weighs down the body, and disposes the soul to gloom and thoughtfulness, becoming, as it were, misty and heavy, therefore as soon as they get up they burn for incense Resin, thereby rectifying and purifying the air by its virtue, and blowing away the corrupted exhalation naturally given forth by the body, because this perfume possesses a strong and penetrating quality; and again at midday, perceiving that the sun draws strongly out of the earth a heavy exhalation, and mixes it with the air, they burn Myrrh, because its hot nature dissolves and disperses the turbid and muddy element in the surrounding air; in fact, physicians think they counteract pestilential diseases by making a great blaze, on the supposition that it subtilizes the air. It subtilizes it better, if they burn woods of a dry nature, such as of cypress, juniper, and pine. Acron, therefore, the physician at Athens during the Great Plague, is said to have gained credit by ordering fires to be burnt by the side of the sick, for he benefited them not a little thereby. And Aristotle asserts that the sweet smelling exhalations of perfumes, flowers, and meadows, conduce no less to health than to enjoyment, because by their warmth and subtileness, they spread themselves through the brain, which is by nature cold and in a state of congelation, and if amongst the Egyptians they call myrrh "Bal," and this word interpreted signifies pretty nearly "sweeping out of evacuations," the name furnishes some evidence to my explanation of the reason for which it is used.

LXXXI. The κυφὶ is composed of sixteen ingredients: honey, wine, raisins, sweet-rush, resin, myrrh, frankincense, seselis, and besides, of calamus, asphalt, thryon, dock, and besides these of both arceuthids (one of which is called the greater, the other the less), and cardamums, and orris-root. These are compounded not at random, but sacred books are read aloud to the perfume-makers, whilst

p. 70

they are mixing the ingredients. And as for their number, if it certainly looks like a square made out of a square, and alone containing the equal number an equal number of times, and to bring its external measurement exactly equal to the area, this accidental circumstance must by no means be said to contribute nothing to this effect: but the majority of the ingredients possessing aromatical properties, send out a sweet breath and salubrious exhalation, whereby, when the air is changed and the body excited in the proper manner, they are 1 themselves lulled to sleep, and have a seductive tendency; whilst the troublesomeness and tension of our daily anxieties they loosen and untie, like so many knots; and the imaginative and prophetic part of dreams, they brighten up and render more clear, like as it were a mirror, to no less degree than do the tunes on the lyre which the Pythagoreans used to play before going to sleep; thus charming down and doctoring the irrational and passionate portion of the soul. For things smelt at often call back the failing sense, often on the other hand blunt and stupify the same; their evaporations diffusing themselves through the body by reason of their subtilty in the same way as some physicians say that sleep is produced when the exhalations from the food taken, creeping gently, and as it were feeling their way around the inward parts, cause a kind of tickling. The κυφὶ they use both as a drink and as a composition [pastile]; for taken in drink, it is thought to purge the intestines, having the property of loosening the bowels.

LXXXII. And apart from these considerations, resin is the work of the Sun; whilst the shrubs drop their tears of myrrh under the influence of the Moon: whereas the κυφὶ is compounded of those things that delight most in eight, inasmuch as they are made by Nature to be

p. 71

nourished by cold airs, shade, dews, and moisture: because the light of day is one and unmixed (for Pindar says, "the Sun rushes through empty rather"), whereas the night air is a compound and medley of many lights and properties; as it were, of seeds showered down from every star into one place. With good cause then do the first-named perfumes, as being simple and deriving their origin from the Sun, exhibit their virtues by day, whereas the last-mentioned do so when night begins to set in.

Title Page
Description of the Woodcuts
On Isis and Osiris
On the Cessation of Oracles
On the Pythian Responses
On the E at Delphi
On the Apparent Face in the Orb of the Moon
On Superstition

Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 22-Sep-2013 at 21:08
What a handsome figure of a dragon. No wonder I fall madly in love with the Alani Dragon now, the avatar, it's a gorgeous dragon picture.
Back to Top
heirtothewind View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard

Joined: 17-May-2015
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 4
  Quote heirtothewind Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-May-2015 at 15:41
The Internet Archive has almost any book printed before 1925. All of my Latin books are from the 19th century. Google Books is also a good source.

Edited by heirtothewind - 18-May-2015 at 12:02
The world is too big a place to be in competition with everyone. The only person I have to be better than is myself -- and that's quite enough. [Col. Potter from MASH]
Back to Top
Centrix Vigilis View Drop Down

Joined: 18-Aug-2006
Location: The Llano
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7392
  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-May-2015 at 21:59
Thank the creators of packet networking-the DoD and ARPANET.

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

S. T. Friedman

Pilger's law: 'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'

Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  <1 567

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Bulletin Board Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 9.56a [Free Express Edition]
Copyright ©2001-2009 Web Wiz

This page was generated in 0.312 seconds.