QuoteReplyTopic: Ancient Greek/Roman Literature & Sources Posted: 14-Feb-2013 at 23:26
PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: APOLLODORUS, who repeats to his companion
the dialogue which he had heard from Aristodemus, and had already once
narrated to Glaucon; PHAEDRUS; PAUSANIAS; ERYXIMACHUS; ARISTOPHANES;
AGATHON; SOCRATES; ALCIBIADES; A TROOP OF REVELLERS. Scene: The
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
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
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
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
First Chaos came, and then broad-bosomed Earth,
The everlasting seat of all that is,
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
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
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
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
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?
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.
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?
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?
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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 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..........
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.............
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.
OUR next task is to study coming-to-be and passing-away. We are to distinguish the causes, and to state the definitions, of these processes considered in general-as changes predicable uniformly of all the things that come-to-be and pass-away by nature. Further, we are to study growth and ‘alteration’. We must inquire what each of them is; and whether ‘alteration’ is to be identified with coming-to-be, or whether to these different names there correspond two separate processes with distinct natures.
On this question, indeed, the early philosophers are divided. Some of them assert that the so-called ‘unqualified coming-to-be’ is ‘alteration’, while others maintain that ‘alteration’ and coming-to-be are distinct. For those who say that the universe is one something (i.e. those who generate all things out of one thing) are bound to assert that coming-to-be is ‘alteration’, and that whatever ‘comes-to-be’ in the proper sense of the term is ‘being altered’: but those who make the matter of things more than one must distinguish coming-to-be from ‘alteration’. To this latter class belong Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and Leucippus. And yet Anaxagoras himself failed to understand his own utterance. He says, at all events, that coming-to-be and passing-away are the same as ‘being altered’:’ yet, in common with other thinkers, he affirms that the elements are many. Thus Empedocles holds that the corporeal elements are four, while all the elements-including those which initiate movement-are six in number; whereas Anaxagoras agrees with Leucippus and Democritus that the elements are infinite.
(Anaxagoras posits as elements the ‘homoeomeries’, viz. bone, flesh, marrow, and everything else which is such that part and whole are the same in name and nature; while Democritus and Leucippus say that there are indivisible bodies, infinite both in number and in the varieties of their shapes, of which everything else is composed-the compounds differing one from another according to the shapes, ‘positions’, and ‘groupings’ of their constituents.)
For the views of the school of Anaxagoras seem diametrically opposed to those of the followers of Empedocles. Empedocles says that Fire, Water, Air, and Earth are four elements, and are thus ‘simple’ rather than flesh, bone, and bodies which, like these, are ‘homoeomeries’. But the followers of Anaxagoras regard the ‘homoeomeries’ as ‘simple’ and elements, whilst they affirm that Earth, Fire, Water, and Air are composite; for each of these is (according to them) a ‘common seminary’ of all the ‘homoeomeries’.
Those, then, who construct all things out of a single element, must maintain that coming-to-be and passing-away are ‘alteration’. For they must affirm that the underlying something always remains identical and one; and change of such a substratum is what we call ‘altering’ Those, on the other hand, who make the ultimate kinds of things more than one, must maintain that ‘alteration’ is distinct from coming-to-be: for coming-to-be and passing-away result from the consilience and the dissolution of the many kinds. That is why Empedocles too uses language to this effect, when he says ‘There is no coming-to-be of anything, but only a mingling and a divorce of what has been mingled’. Thus it is clear (i) that to describe coming-to-be and passing-away in these terms is in accordance with their fundamental assumption, and (ii) that they do in fact so describe them: nevertheless, they too must recognize ‘alteration’ as a fact distinct from coming to-be, though it is impossible for them to do so consistently with what they say.
That we are right in this criticism is easy to perceive. For ‘alteration’ is a fact of observation. While the substance of the thing remains unchanged, we see it ‘altering’ just as we see in it the changes of magnitude called ‘growth’ and ‘diminution’. Nevertheless, the statements of those who posit more ‘original reals’ than one make ‘alteration’ impossible. For ‘alteration, as we assert, takes place in respect to certain qualities: and these qualities (I mean, e.g. hot-cold, white-black, dry-moist, soft-hard, and so forth) are, all of them, differences characterizing the ‘elements’. The actual words of Empedocles may be quoted in illustration
The sun everywhere bright to see, and hot, The rain everywhere dark and cold;
and he distinctively characterizes his remaining elements in a similar manner. Since, therefore, it is not possible for Fire to become Water, or Water to become Earth, neither will it be possible for anything white to become black, or anything soft to become hard; and the same argument applies to all the other qualities. Yet this is what ‘alteration’ essentially is.
It follows, as an obvious corollary, that a single matter must always be assumed as underlying the contrary ‘poles’ of any change whether change of place, or growth and diminution, or ‘alteration’; further, that the being of this matter and the being of ‘alteration’ stand and fall together. For if the change is ‘alteration’, then the substratum is a single element; i.e. all things which admit of change into one another have a single matter. And, conversely, if the substratum of the changing things is one, there is ‘alteration’.
Empedocles, indeed, seems to contradict his own statements as well as the observed facts. For he denies that any one of his elements comes-to-be out of any other, insisting on the contrary that they are the things out of which everything else comes-to-be; and yet (having brought the entirety of existing things, except Strife, together into one) he maintains, simultaneously with this denial, that each thing once more comes-to-be out of the One. Hence it was clearly out of a One that this came-to-be Water, and that Fire, various portions of it being separated off by certain characteristic differences or qualities-as indeed he calls the sun ‘white and hot’, and the earth ‘heavy and hard’. If, therefore, these characteristic differences be taken away (for they can be taken away, since they came-to-be), it will clearly be inevitable for Earth to come to-be out of Water and Water out of Earth, and for each of the other elements to undergo a similar transformation-not only then, but also now-if, and because, they change their qualities. And, to judge by what he says, the qualities are such that they can be ‘attached’ to things and can again be ‘separated’ from them, especially since Strife and Love are still fighting with one another for the mastery. It was owing to this same conflict that the elements were generated from a One at the former period. I say ‘generated’, for presumably Fire, Earth, and Water had no distinctive existence at all while merged in one.
There is another obscurity in the theory Empedocles. Are we to regard the One as his ‘original real’? Or is it the Many-i.e. Fire and Earth, and the bodies co-ordinate with these? For the One is an ‘element’ in so far as it underlies the process as matter-as that out of which Earth and Fire come-to-be through a change of qualities due to ‘the motion’. On the other hand, in so far as the One results from composition (by a consilience of the Many), whereas they result from disintegration the Many are more ‘elementary’ than the One, and prior to it in their nature.
EVERY STATE is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good; for mankind always act in order to obtain that which they think good. But, if all communities aim at some good, the state or political community, which is the highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a greater degree than any other, and at the highest good.
Some people think that the qualifications of a statesman, king, householder, and master are the same, and that they differ, not in kind, but only in the number of their subjects. For example, the ruler over a few is called a master; over more, the manager of a household; over a still larger number, a statesman or king, as if there were no difference between a great household and a small state. The distinction which is made between the king and the statesman is as follows: When the government is personal, the ruler is a king; when, according to the rules of the political science, the citizens rule and are ruled in turn, then he is called a statesman.
But all this is a mistake; for governments differ in kind, as will be evident to any one who considers the matter according to the method which has hitherto guided us. As in other departments of science, so in politics, the compound should always be resolved into the simple elements or least parts of the whole. We must therefore look at the elements of which the state is composed, in order that we may see in what the different kinds of rule differ from one another, and whether any scientific result can be attained about each one of them.
He who thus considers things in their first growth and origin, whether a state or anything else, will obtain the clearest view of them. In the first place there must be a union of those who cannot exist without each other; namely, of male and female, that the race may continue (and this is a union which is formed, not of deliberate purpose, but because, in common with other animals and with plants, mankind have a natural desire to leave behind them an image of themselves), and of natural ruler and subject, that both may be preserved. For that which can foresee by the exercise of mind is by nature intended to be lord and master, and that which can with its body give effect to such foresight is a subject, and by nature a slave; hence master and slave have the same interest. Now nature has distinguished between the female and the slave. For she is not niggardly, like the smith who fashions the Delphian knife for many uses; she makes each thing for a single use, and every instrument is best made when intended for one and not for many uses. But among barbarians no distinction is made between women and slaves, because there is no natural ruler among them: they are a community of slaves, male and female. Wherefore the poets say,
It is meet that Hellenes should rule over barbarians; as if they thought that the barbarian and the slave were by nature one.
Out of these two relationships between man and woman, master and slave, the first thing to arise is the family, and Hesiod is right when he says,
First house and wife and an ox for the plough,
for the ox is the poor man's slave. The family is the association established by nature for the supply of men's everyday wants, and the members of it are called by Charondas 'companions of the cupboard,' and by Epimenides the Cretan, 'companions of the manger.' But when several families are united, and the association aims at something more than the supply of daily needs, the first society to be formed is the village. And the most natural form of the village appears to be that of a colony from the family, composed of the children and grandchildren, who are said to be suckled 'with the same milk.' And this is the reason why Hellenic states were originally governed by kings; because the Hellenes were under royal rule before they came together, as the barbarians still are. Every family is ruled by the eldest, and therefore in the colonies of the family the kingly form of government prevailed because they were of the same blood. As Homer says:
Each one gives law to his children and to his wives.
For they lived dispersedly, as was the manner in ancient times. Wherefore men say that the Gods have a king, because they themselves either are or were in ancient times under the rule of a king. For they imagine, not only the forms of the Gods, but their ways of life to be like their own.
When several villages are united in a single complete community, large enough to be nearly or quite self-sufficing, the state comes into existence, originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in existence for the sake of a good life. And therefore, if the earlier forms of society are natural, so is the state, for it is the end of them, and the nature of a thing is its end. For what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature, whether we are speaking of a man, a horse, or a family. Besides, the final cause and end of a thing is the best, and to be self-sufficing is the end and the best.
Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity; he is like the
Tribeless, lawless, hearthless one,
whom Homer denounces -- the natural outcast is forthwith a lover of war; he may be compared to an isolated piece at draughts.
Now, that man is more of a political animal than bees or any other gregarious animals is evident. Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain, and man is the only animal whom she has endowed with the gift of speech. And whereas mere voice is but an indication of pleasure or pain, and is therefore found in other animals (for their nature attains to the perception of pleasure and pain and the intimation of them to one another, and no further), the power of speech is intended to set forth the expedient and inexpedient, and therefore likewise the just and the unjust. And it is a characteristic of man that he alone has any sense of good and evil, of just and unjust, and the like, and the association of living beings who have this sense makes a family and a state.
Further, the state is by nature clearly prior to the family and to the individual, since the whole is of necessity prior to the part; for example, if the whole body be destroyed, there will be no foot or hand, except in an equivocal sense, as we might speak of a stone hand; for when destroyed the hand will be no better than that. But things are defined by their working and power; and we ought not to say that they are the same when they no longer have their proper quality, but only that they have the same name. The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole. But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state. A social instinct is implanted in all men by nature, and yet he who first founded the state was the greatest of benefactors. For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used by intelligence and virtue, which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony. But justice is the bond of men in states, for the administration of justice, which is the determination of what is just, is the principle of order in political society..................
All human activities aim at some good: some goods subordinate to others.
EVERY art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. But a certain difference is found among ends; some are activities, others are products apart from the activities that produce them. Where there are ends apart from the actions, it is the nature of the products to be better than the activities. Now, as there are many actions, arts, and sciences, their ends also are many; the end of the medical art is health, that of shipbuilding a vessel, that of strategy victory, that of economics wealth. But where such arts fall under a single capacity--as bridle-making and the other arts concerned with the equipment of horses fall under the art of riding, and this and every military action under strategy, in the same way other arts fall under yet others--in all of these the ends of the master arts are to be preferred to all the subordinate ends; for it is for the sake of the former that the latter are pursued. It makes no difference whether the activities themselves are the ends of the actions, or something else apart from the activities, as in the case of the sciences just mentioned.
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.
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
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
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?
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?
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
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.
I. HOW THE GREAT GENERAL BELISARIUS WAS HOODWINKED BY HIS WIFE, WHOSE LOVER BECAME A MONK
THE father of Belisarius's wife, a lady whom I have mentioned in my former books, was (and so was her grandfather) a charioteer, exhibiting that trade in Constantinople and Thessalonica. Her mother was one of the wenches of the theater; and she herself from the first led an utterly wanton life. Acquainted with magic drugs used by her parents before her, she learned how to use those of compelling qualities and became the wedded wife of Belisarius, after having already borne many children.
Now she was unfaithful as a wife from the start, but was careful to conceal her indiscretions by the usual precautions; not from any awe of her spouse (for she never felt any shame at anything, and fooled him
easily with her deceptions), but because she feared the punishment of the Empress. For Theodora hated her, and had already shown her teeth. But when that Queen became involved in difficulties, she won her friendship by helping her, first to destroy Silverius, as shall be related presently, and later to ruin John of Cappadocia, as I have told elsewhere. After that, she became more and more fearless, and casting all concealment aside, abandoned herself to the winds of desire.
There was a youth from Thrace in the house of Belisarius: Theodosius by name, and of the Eunomian heresy by descent. On the eve of his expedition to Libya, Belisarius baptized this boy in holy water and received him in his arms as a member henceforth of the family, welcoming him with his wife as their son, according to the Christian rite of adoption. And Antonina not only embraced Theodosius with reasonable fondness as her son by holy
word, and thus cared for him, but soon, while her husband was away on his campaign, became wildly in love with him; and, out of her senses with this malady, shook off all fear and shame of God and man. She began by enjoying him surreptitiously, and ended by dallying with him in the presence of the men servants and waiting maids. For she was now possessed by passion and, openly overwhelmed with love, could see no hindrance to its consummation.
Once, in Carthage, Belisarius caught her in the very act, but allowed himself to be deceived by his wife. Finding the two in an underground room, he was very angry; but she said, showing no fear or attempt to keep anything hidden, "I came here with the boy to bury the most precious part of our plunder, where the Emperor will not discover it." So she said by way of excuse, and he dismissed the matter as if he believed her, even as he saw Theodosius's trousers belt somewhat unmodestly unfastened.
[paragraph continues]For so bound by love for the woman was he, that he preferred to distrust the evidence of his own eyes.
As her folly progressed to an indescribable extent, those who saw what was going on kept silent, except one slave, Macedonia by name. When Belisarius was in Syracuse as the conqueror of Sicily, she made her master swear solemnly never to betray her to her mistress, and then told him the whole story, presenting as witnesses two slave boys attending the bed-chamber.
When he heard this, Belisarius ordered one of his guards to put Theodosius away; but the latter learned of this in time to flee to Ephesus. For most of the servants, inspired by the weakness of the husband's character, were more anxious to please his wife than to show loyalty to him, and so betrayed the order he had given. But Constantine, when he saw Belisarius's grief at what had befallen him, sympathized
entirely except to comment, "I would have tried to kill the woman rather than the young man." Antonina heard of this, and hated him in secret. How malicious was her spite against him shall be shown; for she was a scorpion who could hide her sting.
But not long after this, by the enchantment either of philtres or of her caresses, she persuaded her husband that the charges against her were untrue. Without more ado he sent word to Theodosius to return, and promised to turn Macedonia and the two slave boys over to his wife. She first cruelly cut out their tongues, it is said, and then cut their bodies into little bits which were put into sacks and thrown into the sea. One of her slaves, Eugenius, who had already wrought the outrage on Silverius, helped her in this crime.
And it was not long after this that Belisarius was persuaded by his wife to kill Constantine. What happened at that time concerning Presidius and the daggers I have
narrated in my previous books. For while Belisarius would have preferred to let Constantine alone, Antonina gave him no peace until his remark, which I have just repeated, was avenged. And as a result of this murder, much enmity was aroused against Belisarius in the hearts of the Emperor and all the most important of the Romans.
So matters progressed. But Theodosius said he was unable to return to Italy, where Belisarius and Antonina were now staying, unless Photius were put out of the way. For this Photius was the sort who would bite if anyone got the better of him in anything, and he had reason to be choked with indignation at Theodosius. Though he was the rightful son, he was utterly disregarded while the other grew in power and riches: they say that from the two palaces at Carthage and Ravenna Theodosius had taken plunder amounting to a hundred centenaries, as he alone had been given the management of these conquered properties.
But Antonina, when she learned of Theodosius's fear, never ceased laying snares for her son and planning deadly plots against his welfare, until he saw he would have to escape to Constantinople if he wished to live. Then Theodosius came to Italy and her. There they stayed in the satisfaction of their love, unhindered by the complaisant husband; and later she took them both to Constantinople. There Theodosius became so worried lest the affair became generally known, that he was at his wit's end. He saw it would be impossible to fool everybody, as the woman was no longer able to conceal her passion and indulge it secretly, but thought nothing of being in fact and in reputation an avowed adulteress.
Therefore he went back to Ephesus, and having his head shaved after the religious custom, became a monk. Whereupon Antonina, insane over her loss, exhibited her grief by donning mourning; and went
around the house shrieking and wailing, lamenting even in the presence of her husband what a good friend she had lost, how faithful, how tender, how loving, how energetic! In the end, even her spouse was won over to join in her sorrow. And so the poor wretch wept too, calling for his beloved Theodosius. Later he even went to the Emperor and implored both him and the Empress, till they consented to summon Theodosius to return, as one who was and would always be a necessity in the house of Belisarius.
But Theodosius refused to leave his monastery, saying he was completely resolved to give himself forever to the cloistered life. This noble pronouncement, however, was not entirely sincere, for he was aware that as soon as Belisarius left Constantinople, it would be possible for him to come secretly to Antonina. Which, indeed, he did.
(ll. 1-25) From the Heliconian Muses let us begin to sing, who hold the great and holy mount of Helicon, and dance on soft feet about the deep-blue spring and the altar of the almighty son of Cronos, and, when they have washed their tender bodies in Permessus or in the Horse's Spring or Olmeius, make their fair, lovely dances upon highest Helicon and move with vigorous feet. Thence they arise and go abroad by night, veiled in thick mist, and utter their song with lovely voice, praising Zeus the aegis- holder and queenly Hera of Argos who walks on golden sandals and the daughter of Zeus the aegis-holder bright-eyed Athene, and Phoebus Apollo, and Artemis who delights in arrows, and Poseidon the earth-holder who shakes the earth, and reverend Themis and quick-glancing (1) Aphrodite, and Hebe with the crown of gold, and fair Dione, Leto, Iapetus, and Cronos the crafty counsellor, Eos and great Helius and bright Selene, Earth too, and great Oceanus, and dark Night, and the holy race of all the other deathless ones that are for ever. And one day they taught Hesiod glorious song while he was shepherding his lambs under holy Helicon, and this word first the goddesses said to me -- the Muses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis:
(ll. 26-28) `Shepherds of the wilderness, wretched things of shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many false things as though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true things.'
(ll. 29-35) So said the ready-voiced daughters of great Zeus, and they plucked and gave me a rod, a shoot of sturdy laurel, a marvellous thing, and breathed into me a divine voice to celebrate things that shall be and things there were aforetime; and they bade me sing of the race of the blessed gods that are eternally, but ever to sing of themselves both first and last. But why all this about oak or stone? (2)
(ll. 36-52) Come thou, let us begin with the Muses who gladden the great spirit of their father Zeus in Olympus with their songs, telling of things that are and that shall be and that were aforetime with consenting voice. Unwearying flows the sweet sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as it spread abroad, and the peaks of snowy Olympus resound, and the homes of the immortals. And they uttering their immortal voice, celebrate in song first of all the reverend race of the gods from the beginning, those whom Earth and wide Heaven begot, and the gods sprung of these, givers of good things. Then, next, the goddesses sing of Zeus, the father of gods and men, as they begin and end their strain, how much he is the most excellent among the gods and supreme in power. And again, they chant the race of men and strong giants, and gladden the heart of Zeus within Olympus, -- the Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder.
(ll. 53-74) Them in Pieria did Mnemosyne (Memory), who reigns over the hills of Eleuther, bear of union with the father, the son of Cronos, a forgetting of ills and a rest from sorrow. For nine nights did wise Zeus lie with her, entering her holy bed remote from the immortals. And when a year was passed and the seasons came round as the months waned, and many days were accomplished, she bare nine daughters, all of one mind, whose hearts are set upon song and their spirit free from care, a little way from the topmost peak of snowy Olympus. There are their bright dancing-places and beautiful homes, and beside them the Graces and Himerus (Desire) live in delight. And they, uttering through their lips a lovely voice, sing the laws of all and the goodly ways of the immortals, uttering their lovely voice. Then went they to Olympus, delighting in their sweet voice, with heavenly song, and the dark earth resounded about them as they chanted, and a lovely sound rose up beneath their feet as they went to their father. And he was reigning in heaven, himself holding the lightning and glowing thunderbolt, when he had overcome by might his father Cronos; and he distributed fairly to the immortals their portions and declared their privileges.
(ll. 75-103) These things, then, the Muses sang who dwell on Olympus, nine daughters begotten by great Zeus, Cleio and Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene and Terpsichore, and Erato and Polyhymnia and Urania and Calliope (3), who is the chiefest of them all, for she attends on worshipful princes: whomsoever of heaven-nourished princes the daughters of great Zeus honour, and behold him at his birth, they pour sweet dew upon his tongue, and from his lips flow gracious words. All the people look towards him while he settles causes with true judgements: and he, speaking surely, would soon make wise end even of a great quarrel; for therefore are there princes wise in heart, because when the people are being misguided in their assembly, they set right the matter again with ease, persuading them with gentle words. And when he passes through a gathering, they greet him as a god with gentle reverence, and he is conspicuous amongst the assembled: such is the holy gift of the Muses to men. For it is through the Muses and far-shooting Apollo that there are singers and harpers upon the earth; but princes are of Zeus, and happy is he whom the Muses love: sweet flows speech from his mouth. For though a man have sorrow and grief in his newly-troubled soul and live in dread because his heart is distressed, yet, when a singer, the servant of the Muses, chants the glorious deeds of men of old and the blessed gods who inhabit Olympus, at once he forgets his heaviness and remembers not his sorrows at all; but the gifts of the goddesses soon turn him away from these.
(ll. 104-115) Hail, children of Zeus! Grant lovely song and celebrate the holy race of the deathless gods who are for ever, those that were born of Earth and starry Heaven and gloomy Night and them that briny Sea did rear. Tell how at the first gods and earth came to be, and rivers, and the boundless sea with its raging swell, and the gleaming stars, and the wide heaven above, and the gods who were born of them, givers of good things, and how they divided their wealth, and how they shared their honours amongst them, and also how at the first they took many-folded Olympus. These things declare to me from the beginning, ye Muses who dwell in the house of Olympus, and tell me which of them first came to be.
(ll. 116-138) Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all (4) the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros (Love), fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them. From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether (5) and Day, whom she conceived and bare from union in love with Erebus. And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods. And she brought forth long Hills, graceful haunts of the goddess-Nymphs who dwell amongst the glens of the hills. She bare also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union of love. But afterwards she lay with Heaven and bare deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire.
(ll. 139-146) And again, she bare the Cyclopes, overbearing in spirit, Brontes, and Steropes and stubborn-hearted Arges (6), who gave Zeus the thunder and made the thunderbolt: in all else they were like the gods, but one eye only was set in the midst of their fore-heads. And they were surnamed Cyclopes (Orb-eyed) because one orbed eye was set in their foreheads. Strength and might and craft were in their works.
(ll. 147-163) And again, three other sons were born of Earth and Heaven, great and doughty beyond telling, Cottus and Briareos and Gyes, presumptuous children. From their shoulders sprang an hundred arms, not to be approached, and each had fifty heads upon his shoulders on their strong limbs, and irresistible was the stubborn strength that was in their great forms. For of all the children that were born of Earth and Heaven, these were the most terrible, and they were hated by their own father from the first.
And he used to hide them all away in a secret place of Earth so soon as each was born, and would not suffer them to come up into the light: and Heaven rejoiced in his evil doing. But vast Earth groaned within, being straitened, and she made the element of grey flint and shaped a great sickle, and told her plan to her dear sons. And she spoke, cheering them, while she was vexed in her dear heart:
(ll. 164-166) `My children, gotten of a sinful father, if you will obey me, we should punish the vile outrage of your father; for he first thought of doing shameful things.'
(ll. 167-169) So she said; but fear seized them all, and none of them uttered a word. But great Cronos the wily took courage and answered his dear mother:
(ll. 170-172) `Mother, I will undertake to do this deed, for I reverence not our father of evil name, for he first thought of doing shameful things.'
(ll. 173-175) So he said: and vast Earth rejoiced greatly in spirit, and set and hid him in an ambush, and put in his hands a jagged sickle, and revealed to him the whole plot.
(ll. 176-206) And Heaven came, bringing on night and longing for love, and he lay about Earth spreading himself full upon her (7).
Then the son from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father's members and cast them away to fall behind him. And not vainly did they fall from his hand; for all the bloody drops that gushed forth Earth received, and as the seasons moved round she bare the strong Erinyes and the great Giants with gleaming armour, holding long spears in their hands and the Nymphs whom they call Meliae (8) all over the boundless earth. And so soon as he had cut off the members with flint and cast them from the land into the surging sea, they were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden. First she drew near holy Cythera, and from there, afterwards, she came to sea-girt Cyprus, and came forth an awful and lovely goddess, and grass grew up about her beneath her shapely feet. Her gods and men call Aphrodite, and the foam-born goddess and rich-crowned Cytherea, because she grew amid the foam, and Cytherea because she reached Cythera, and Cyprogenes because she was born in billowy Cyprus, and Philommedes (9) because sprang from the members. And with her went Eros, and comely Desire followed her at her birth at the first and as she went into the assembly of the gods. This honour she has from the beginning, and this is the portion allotted to her amongst men and undying gods, -- the whisperings of maidens and smiles and deceits with sweet delight and love and graciousness.
(ll. 207-210) But these sons whom be begot himself great Heaven used to call Titans (Strainers) in reproach, for he said that they strained and did presumptuously a fearful deed, and that vengeance for it would come afterwards.
(ll. 211-225) And Night bare hateful Doom and black Fate and Death, and she bare Sleep and the tribe of Dreams. And again the goddess murky Night, though she lay with none, bare Blame and painful Woe, and the Hesperides who guard the rich, golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Ocean. Also she bare the Destinies and ruthless avenging Fates, Clotho and Lachesis and Atropos (10), who give men at their birth both evil and good to have, and they pursue the transgressions of men and of gods: and these goddesses never cease from their dread anger until they punish the sinner with a sore penalty. Also deadly Night bare Nemesis (Indignation) to afflict mortal men, and after her, Deceit and Friendship and hateful Age and hard-hearted Strife.
(ll. 226-232) But abhorred Strife bare painful Toil and Forgetfulness and Famine and tearful Sorrows, Fightings also, Battles, Murders, Manslaughters, Quarrels, Lying Words, Disputes, Lawlessness and Ruin, all of one nature, and Oath who most troubles men upon earth when anyone wilfully swears a false oath.
(ll. 233-239) And Sea begat Nereus, the eldest of his children, who is true and lies not: and men call him the Old Man because he is trusty and gentle and does not forget the laws of righteousness, but thinks just and kindly thoughts. And yet again he got great Thaumas and proud Phoreys, being mated with Earth, and fair-cheeked Ceto and Eurybia who has a heart of flint within her.
(ll. 240-264) And of Nereus and rich-haired Doris, daughter of Ocean the perfect river, were born children (11), passing lovely amongst goddesses, Ploto, Eucrante, Sao, and Amphitrite, and Eudora, and Thetis, Galene and Glauce, Cymothoe, Speo, Thoe and lovely Halie, and Pasithea, and Erato, and rosy-armed Eunice, and gracious Melite, and Eulimene, and Agaue, Doto, Proto, Pherusa, and Dynamene, and Nisaea, and Actaea, and Protomedea, Doris, Panopea, and comely Galatea, and lovely Hippothoe, and rosy-armed Hipponoe, and Cymodoce who with Cymatolege (12) and Amphitrite easily calms the waves upon the misty sea and the blasts of raging winds, and Cymo, and Eione, and rich-crowned Alimede, and Glauconome, fond of laughter, and Pontoporea, Leagore, Euagore, and Laomedea, and Polynoe, and Autonoe, and Lysianassa, and Euarne, lovely of shape and without blemish of form, and Psamathe of charming figure and divine Menippe, Neso, Eupompe, Themisto, Pronoe, and Nemertes (13) who has the nature of her deathless father. These fifty daughters sprang from blameless Nereus, skilled in excellent crafts.
(ll. 265-269) And Thaumas wedded Electra the daughter of deep- flowing Ocean, and she bare him swift Iris and the long-haired Harpies, Aello (Storm-swift) and Ocypetes (Swift-flier) who on their swift wings keep pace with the blasts of the winds and the birds; for quick as time they dart along.
(ll 270-294) And again, Ceto bare to Phoreys the fair-cheeked Graiae, sisters grey from their birth: and both deathless gods and men who walk on earth call them Graiae, Pemphredo well-clad, and saffron-robed Enyo, and the Gorgons who dwell beyond glorious Ocean in the frontier land towards Night where are the clear- voiced Hesperides, Sthenno, and Euryale, and Medusa who suffered a woeful fate: she was mortal, but the two were undying and grew not old. With her lay the Dark-haired One (14) in a soft meadow amid spring flowers. And when Perseus cut off her head, there sprang forth great Chrysaor and the horse Pegasus who is so called because he was born near the springs (pegae) of Ocean; and that other, because he held a golden blade (aor) in his hands. Now Pegasus flew away and left the earth, the mother of flocks, and came to the deathless gods: and he dwells in the house of Zeus and brings to wise Zeus the thunder and lightning. But Chrysaor was joined in love to Callirrhoe, the daughter of glorious Ocean, and begot three-headed Geryones. Him mighty Heracles slew in sea-girt Erythea by his shambling oxen on that day when he drove the wide-browed oxen to holy Tiryns, and had crossed the ford of Ocean and killed Orthus and Eurytion the herdsman in the dim stead out beyond glorious Ocean.
(ll. 295-305) And in a hollow cave she bare another monster, irresistible, in no wise like either to mortal men or to the undying gods, even the goddess fierce Echidna who is half a nymph with glancing eyes and fair cheeks, and half again a huge snake, great and awful, with speckled skin, eating raw flesh beneath the secret parts of the holy earth. And there she has a cave deep down under a hollow rock far from the deathless gods and mortal men. There, then, did the gods appoint her a glorious house to dwell in: and she keeps guard in Arima beneath the earth, grim Echidna, a nymph who dies not nor grows old all her days.
(ll. 306-332) Men say that Typhaon the terrible, outrageous and lawless, was joined in love to her, the maid with glancing eyes. So she conceived and brought forth fierce offspring; first she bare Orthus the hound of Geryones, and then again she bare a second, a monster not to be overcome and that may not be described, Cerberus who eats raw flesh, the brazen-voiced hound of Hades, fifty-headed, relentless and strong. And again she bore a third, the evil-minded Hydra of Lerna, whom the goddess, white-armed Hera nourished, being angry beyond measure with the mighty Heracles. And her Heracles, the son of Zeus, of the house of Amphitryon, together with warlike Iolaus, destroyed with the unpitying sword through the plans of Athene the spoil-driver. She was the mother of Chimaera who breathed raging fire, a creature fearful, great, swift-footed and strong, who had three heads, one of a grim-eyed lion; in her hinderpart, a dragon; and in her middle, a goat, breathing forth a fearful blast of blazing fire. Her did Pegasus and noble Bellerophon slay; but Echidna was subject in love to Orthus and brought forth the deadly Sphinx which destroyed the Cadmeans, and the Nemean lion, which Hera, the good wife of Zeus, brought up and made to haunt the hills of Nemea, a plague to men. There he preyed upon the tribes of her own people and had power over Tretus of Nemea and Apesas: yet the strength of stout Heracles overcame him.
(ll. 333-336) And Ceto was joined in love to Phorcys and bare her youngest, the awful snake who guards the apples all of gold in the secret places of the dark earth at its great bounds. This is the offspring of Ceto and Phoreys.
(ll. 334-345) And Tethys bare to Ocean eddying rivers, Nilus, and Alpheus, and deep-swirling Eridanus, Strymon, and Meander, and the fair stream of Ister, and Phasis, and Rhesus, and the silver eddies of Achelous, Nessus, and Rhodius, Haliacmon, and Heptaporus, Granicus, and Aesepus, and holy Simois, and Peneus, and Hermus, and Caicus fair stream, and great Sangarius, Ladon, Parthenius, Euenus, Ardescus, and divine Scamander.
(ll. 346-370) Also she brought forth a holy company of daughters (15) who with the lord Apollo and the Rivers have youths in their keeping -- to this charge Zeus appointed them -- Peitho, and Admete, and Ianthe, and Electra, and Doris, and Prymno, and Urania divine in form, Hippo, Clymene, Rhodea, and Callirrhoe, Zeuxo and Clytie, and Idyia, and Pasithoe, Plexaura, and Galaxaura, and lovely Dione, Melobosis and Thoe and handsome Polydora, Cerceis lovely of form, and soft eyed Pluto, Perseis, Ianeira, Acaste, Xanthe, Petraea the fair, Menestho, and Europa, Metis, and Eurynome, and Telesto saffron-clad, Chryseis and Asia and charming Calypso, Eudora, and Tyche, Amphirho, and Ocyrrhoe, and Styx who is the chiefest of them all. These are the eldest daughters that sprang from Ocean and Tethys; but there are many besides. For there are three thousand neat-ankled daughters of Ocean who are dispersed far and wide, and in every place alike serve the earth and the deep waters, children who are glorious among goddesses. And as many other rivers are there, babbling as they flow, sons of Ocean, whom queenly Tethys bare, but their names it is hard for a mortal man to tell, but people know those by which they severally dwell.
(ll. 371-374) And Theia was subject in love to Hyperion and bare great Helius (Sun) and clear Selene (Moon) and Eos (Dawn) who shines upon all that are on earth and upon the deathless Gods who live in the wide heaven.
(ll. 375-377) And Eurybia, bright goddess, was joined in love to Crius and bare great Astraeus, and Pallas, and Perses who also was eminent among all men in wisdom.
(ll. 378-382) And Eos bare to Astraeus the strong-hearted winds, brightening Zephyrus, and Boreas, headlong in his course, and Notus, -- a goddess mating in love with a god. And after these Erigenia (16) bare the star Eosphorus (Dawn-bringer), and the gleaming stars with which heaven is crowned.
(ll. 383-403) And Styx the daughter of Ocean was joined to Pallas and bare Zelus (Emulation) and trim-ankled Nike (Victory) in the house. Also she brought forth Cratos (Strength) and Bia (Force), wonderful children. These have no house apart from Zeus, nor any dwelling nor path except that wherein God leads them, but they dwell always with Zeus the loud-thunderer. For so did Styx the deathless daughter of Ocean plan on that day when the Olympian Lightener called all the deathless gods to great Olympus, and said that whosoever of the gods would fight with him against the Titans, he would not cast him out from his rights, but each should have the office which he had before amongst the deathless gods. And he declared that he who was without office and rights as is just. So deathless Styx came first to Olympus with her children through the wit of her dear father. And Zeus honoured her, and gave her very great gifts, for her he appointed to be the great oath of the gods, and her children to live with him always. And as he promised, so he performed fully unto them all.
But he himself mightily reigns and rules.
(ll. 404-452) Again, Phoebe came to the desired embrace of Coeus.
Then the goddess through the love of the god conceived and brought forth dark-gowned Leto, always mild, kind to men and to the deathless gods, mild from the beginning, gentlest in all Olympus. Also she bare Asteria of happy name, whom Perses once led to his great house to be called his dear wife. And she conceived and bare Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods. For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favour according to custom, he calls upon Hecate. Great honour comes full easily to him whose prayers the goddess receives favourably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with her. For as many as were born of Earth and Ocean amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Cronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her. Whom she will she greatly aids and advances: she sits by worshipful kings in judgement, and in the assembly whom she will is distinguished among the people. And when men arm themselves for the battle that destroys men, then the goddess is at hand to give victory and grant glory readily to whom she will. Good is she also when men contend at the games, for there too the goddess is with them and profits them: and he who by might and strength gets the victory wins the rich prize easily with joy, and brings glory to his parents. And she is good to stand by horsemen, whom she will: and to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hecate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, easily the glorious goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so she will. She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if she will, she increases from a few, or makes many to be less. So, then. albeit her mother's only child (17), she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Cronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Dawn. So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young, and these are her honours.
(ll. 453-491) But Rhea was subject in love to Cronos and bare splendid children, Hestia (18), Demeter, and gold-shod Hera and strong Hades, pitiless in heart, who dwells under the earth, and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, and wise Zeus, father of gods and men, by whose thunder the wide earth is shaken. These great Cronos swallowed as each came forth from the womb to his mother's knees with this intent, that no other of the proud sons of Heaven should hold the kingly office amongst the deathless gods. For he learned from Earth and starry Heaven that he was destined to be overcome by his own son, strong though he was, through the contriving of great Zeus (19). Therefore he kept no blind outlook, but watched and swallowed down his children: and unceasing grief seized Rhea. But when she was about to bear Zeus, the father of gods and men, then she besought her own dear parents, Earth and starry Heaven, to devise some plan with her that the birth of her dear child might be concealed, and that retribution might overtake great, crafty Cronos for his own father and also for the children whom he had swallowed down. And they readily heard and obeyed their dear daughter, and told her all that was destined to happen touching Cronos the king and his stout-hearted son. So they sent her to Lyetus, to the rich land of Crete, when she was ready to bear great Zeus, the youngest of her children. Him did vast Earth receive from Rhea in wide Crete to nourish and to bring up. Thither came Earth carrying him swiftly through the black night to Lyctus first, and took him in her arms and hid him in a remote cave beneath the secret places of the holy earth on thick-wooded Mount Aegeum; but to the mightily ruling son of Heaven, the earlier king of the gods, she gave a great stone wrapped in swaddling clothes. Then he took it in his hands and thrust it down into his belly: wretch! he knew not in his heart that in place of the stone his son was left behind, unconquered and untroubled, and that he was soon to overcome him by force and might and drive him from his honours, himself to reign over the deathless gods.
(ll. 492-506) After that, the strength and glorious limbs of the prince increased quickly, and as the years rolled on, great Cronos the wily was beguiled by the deep suggestions of Earth, and brought up again his offspring, vanquished by the arts and might of his own son, and he vomited up first the stone which he had swallowed last. And Zeus set it fast in the wide-pathed earth at goodly Pytho under the glens of Parnassus, to be a sign thenceforth and a marvel to mortal men (20). And he set free from their deadly bonds the brothers of his father, sons of Heaven whom his father in his foolishness had bound. And they remembered to be grateful to him for his kindness, and gave him thunder and the glowing thunderbolt and lightening: for before that, huge Earth had hidden these. In them he trusts and rules over mortals and immortals.
(ll. 507-543) Now Iapetus took to wife the neat-ankled mad Clymene, daughter of Ocean, and went up with her into one bed. And she bare him a stout-hearted son, Atlas: also she bare very glorious Menoetius and clever Prometheus, full of various wiles, and scatter-brained Epimetheus who from the first was a mischief to men who eat bread; for it was he who first took of Zeus the woman, the maiden whom he had formed. But Menoetius was outrageous, and far-seeing Zeus struck him with a lurid thunderbolt and sent him down to Erebus because of his mad presumption and exceeding pride. And Atlas through hard constraint upholds the wide heaven with unwearying head and arms, standing at the borders of the earth before the clear-voiced Hesperides; for this lot wise Zeus assigned to him. And ready- witted Prometheus he bound with inextricable bonds, cruel chains, and drove a shaft through his middle, and set on him a long- winged eagle, which used to eat his immortal liver; but by night the liver grew as much again everyway as the long-winged bird devoured in the whole day. That bird Heracles, the valiant son of shapely-ankled Alcmene, slew; and delivered the son of Iapetus from the cruel plague, and released him from his affliction -- not without the will of Olympian Zeus who reigns on high, that the glory of Heracles the Theban-born might be yet greater than it was before over the plenteous earth. This, then, he regarded, and honoured his famous son; though he was angry, he ceased from the wrath which he had before because Prometheus matched himself in wit with the almighty son of Cronos. For when the gods and mortal men had a dispute at Mecone, even then Prometheus was forward to cut up a great ox and set portions before them, trying to befool the mind of Zeus. Before the rest he set flesh and inner parts thick with fat upon the hide, covering them with an ox paunch; but for Zeus he put the white bones dressed up with cunning art and covered with shining fat. Then the father of men and of gods said to him:
(ll. 543-544) `Son of Iapetus, most glorious of all lords, good sir, how unfairly you have divided the portions!'
(ll. 545-547) So said Zeus whose wisdom is everlasting, rebuking him. But wily Prometheus answered him, smiling softly and not forgetting his cunning trick:
(ll. 548-558) `Zeus, most glorious and greatest of the eternal gods, take which ever of these portions your heart within you bids.' So he said, thinking trickery. But Zeus, whose wisdom is everlasting, saw and failed not to perceive the trick, and in his heart he thought mischief against mortal men which also was to be fulfilled. With both hands he took up the white fat and was angry at heart, and wrath came to his spirit when he saw the white ox-bones craftily tricked out: and because of this the tribes of men upon earth burn white bones to the deathless gods upon fragrant altars. But Zeus who drives the clouds was greatly vexed and said to him:
(ll. 559-560) `Son of Iapetus, clever above all! So, sir, you have not yet forgotten your cunning arts!'
(ll. 561-584) So spake Zeus in anger, whose wisdom is everlasting; and from that time he was always mindful of the trick, and would not give the power of unwearying fire to the Melian (21) race of mortal men who live on the earth. But the noble son of Iapetus outwitted him and stole the far-seen gleam of unwearying fire in a hollow fennel stalk. And Zeus who thunders on high was stung in spirit, and his dear heart was angered when he saw amongst men the far-seen ray of fire. Forthwith he made an evil thing for men as the price of fire; for the very famous Limping God formed of earth the likeness of a shy maiden as the son of Cronos willed. And the goddess bright-eyed Athene girded and clothed her with silvery raiment, and down from her head she spread with her hands a broidered veil, a wonder to see; and she, Pallas Athene, put about her head lovely garlands, flowers of new-grown herbs. Also she put upon her head a crown of gold which the very famous Limping God made himself and worked with his own hands as a favour to Zeus his father. On it was much curious work, wonderful to see; for of the many creatures which the land and sea rear up, he put most upon it, wonderful things, like living beings with voices: and great beauty shone out from it.
(ll. 585-589) But when he had made the beautiful evil to be the price for the blessing, he brought her out, delighting in the finery which the bright-eyed daughter of a mighty father had given her, to the place where the other gods and men were. And wonder took hold of the deathless gods and mortal men when they saw that which was sheer guile, not to be withstood by men.
(ll. 590-612) For from her is the race of women and female kind: of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, no helpmeets in hateful poverty, but only in wealth. And as in thatched hives bees feed the drones whose nature is to do mischief -- by day and throughout the day until the sun goes down the bees are busy and lay the white combs, while the drones stay at home in the covered skeps and reap the toil of others into their own bellies -- even so Zeus who thunders on high made women to be an evil to mortal men, with a nature to do evil. And he gave them a second evil to be the price for the good they had: whoever avoids marriage and the sorrows that women cause, and will not wed, reaches deadly old age without anyone to tend his years, and though he at least has no lack of livelihood while he lives, yet, when he is dead, his kinsfolk divide his possessions amongst them. And as for the man who chooses the lot of marriage and takes a good wife suited to his mind, evil continually contends with good; for whoever happens to have mischievous children, lives always with unceasing grief in his spirit and heart within him; and this evil cannot be healed.
(ll. 613-616) So it is not possible to deceive or go beyond the will of Zeus; for not even the son of Iapetus, kindly Prometheus, escaped his heavy anger, but of necessity strong bands confined him, although he knew many a wile.
(ll. 617-643) But when first their father was vexed in his heart with Obriareus and Cottus and Gyes, he bound them in cruel bonds, because he was jealous of their exceeding manhood and comeliness and great size: and he made them live beneath the wide-pathed earth, where they were afflicted, being set to dwell under the ground, at the end of the earth, at its great borders, in bitter anguish for a long time and with great grief at heart. But the son of Cronos and the other deathless gods whom rich-haired Rhea bare from union with Cronos, brought them up again to the light at Earth's advising. For she herself recounted all things to the gods fully, how that with these they would gain victory and a glorious cause to vaunt themselves. For the Titan gods and as many as sprang from Cronos had long been fighting together in stubborn war with heart-grieving toil, the lordly Titans from high Othyrs, but the gods, givers of good, whom rich-haired Rhea bare in union with Cronos, from Olympus. So they, with bitter wrath, were fighting continually with one another at that time for ten full years, and the hard strife had no close or end for either side, and the issue of the war hung evenly balanced. But when he had provided those three with all things fitting, nectar and ambrosia which the gods themselves eat, and when their proud spirit revived within them all after they had fed on nectar and delicious ambrosia, then it was that the father of men and gods spoke amongst them:
(ll. 644-653) `Hear me, bright children of Earth and Heaven, that I may say what my heart within me bids. A long while now have we, who are sprung from Cronos and the Titan gods, fought with each other every day to get victory and to prevail. But do you show your great might and unconquerable strength, and face the Titans in bitter strife; for remember our friendly kindness, and from what sufferings you are come back to the light from your cruel bondage under misty gloom through our counsels.'
(ll. 654-663) So he said. And blameless Cottus answered him again: `Divine one, you speak that which we know well: nay, even of ourselves we know that your wisdom and understanding is exceeding, and that you became a defender of the deathless ones from chill doom. And through your devising we are come back again from the murky gloom and from our merciless bonds, enjoying what we looked not for, O lord, son of Cronos. And so now with fixed purpose and deliberate counsel we will aid your power in dreadful strife and will fight against the Titans in hard battle.'
(ll. 664-686) So he said: and the gods, givers of good things, applauded when they heard his word, and their spirit longed for war even more than before, and they all, both male and female, stirred up hated battle that day, the Titan gods, and all that were born of Cronos together with those dread, mighty ones of overwhelming strength whom Zeus brought up to the light from Erebus beneath the earth. An hundred arms sprang from the shoulders of all alike, and each had fifty heads growing upon his shoulders upon stout limbs. These, then, stood against the Titans in grim strife, holding huge rocks in their strong hands. And on the other part the Titans eagerly strengthened their ranks, and both sides at one time showed the work of their hands and their might. The boundless sea rang terribly around, and the earth crashed loudly: wide Heaven was shaken and groaned, and high Olympus reeled from its foundation under the charge of the undying gods, and a heavy quaking reached dim Tartarus and the deep sound of their feet in the fearful onset and of their hard missiles. So, then, they launched their grievous shafts upon one another, and the cry of both armies as they shouted reached to starry heaven; and they met together with a great battle-cry.
(ll. 687-712) Then Zeus no longer held back his might; but straight his heart was filled with fury and he showed forth all his strength. From Heaven and from Olympus he came forthwith, hurling his lightning: the bold flew thick and fast from his strong hand together with thunder and lightning, whirling an awesome flame. The life-giving earth crashed around in burning, and the vast wood crackled loud with fire all about. All the land seethed, and Ocean's streams and the unfruitful sea. The hot vapour lapped round the earthborn Titans: flame unspeakable rose to the bright upper air: the flashing glare of the thunder- stone and lightning blinded their eyes for all that there were strong. Astounding heat seized Chaos: and to see with eyes and to hear the sound with ears it seemed even as if Earth and wide Heaven above came together; for such a mighty crash would have arisen if Earth were being hurled to ruin, and Heaven from on high were hurling her down; so great a crash was there while the gods were meeting together in strife. Also the winds brought rumbling earthquake and duststorm, thunder and lightning and the lurid thunderbolt, which are the shafts of great Zeus, and carried the clangour and the warcry into the midst of the two hosts. An horrible uproar of terrible strife arose: mighty deeds were shown and the battle inclined. But until then, they kept at one another and fought continually in cruel war.
(ll. 713-735) And amongst the foremost Cottus and Briareos and Gyes insatiate for war raised fierce fighting: three hundred rocks, one upon another, they launched from their strong hands and overshadowed the Titans with their missiles, and buried them beneath the wide-pathed earth, and bound them in bitter chains when they had conquered them by their strength for all their great spirit, as far beneath the earth to Tartarus. For a brazen anvil falling down from heaven nine nights and days would reach the earth upon the tenth: and again, a brazen anvil falling from earth nine nights and days would reach Tartarus upon the tenth. Round it runs a fence of bronze, and night spreads in triple line all about it like a neck-circlet, while above grow the roots of the earth and unfruitful sea. There by the counsel of Zeus who drives the clouds the Titan gods are hidden under misty gloom, in a dank place where are the ends of the huge earth. And they may not go out; for Poseidon fixed gates of bronze upon it, and a wall runs all round it on every side. There Gyes and Cottus and great-souled Obriareus live, trusty warders of Zeus who holds the aegis.
(ll. 736-744) And there, all in their order, are the sources and ends of gloomy earth and misty Tartarus and the unfruitful sea and starry heaven, loathsome and dank, which even the gods abhor.
It is a great gulf, and if once a man were within the gates, he would not reach the floor until a whole year had reached its end, but cruel blast upon blast would carry him this way and that. And this marvel is awful even to the deathless gods.
(ll. 744-757) There stands the awful home of murky Night wrapped in dark clouds. In front of it the son of Iapetus (22) stands immovably upholding the wide heaven upon his head and unwearying hands, where Night and Day draw near and greet one another as they pass the great threshold of bronze: and while the one is about to go down into the house, the other comes out at the door.
And the house never holds them both within; but always one is without the house passing over the earth, while the other stays at home and waits until the time for her journeying come; and the one holds all-seeing light for them on earth, but the other holds in her arms Sleep the brother of Death, even evil Night, wrapped in a vaporous cloud.
(ll. 758-766) And there the children of dark Night have their dwellings, Sleep and Death, awful gods. The glowing Sun never looks upon them with his beams, neither as he goes up into heaven, nor as he comes down from heaven. And the former of them roams peacefully over the earth and the sea's broad back and is kindly to men; but the other has a heart of iron, and his spirit within him is pitiless as bronze: whomsoever of men he has once seized he holds fast: and he is hateful even to the deathless gods.
(ll. 767-774) There, in front, stand the echoing halls of the god of the lower-world, strong Hades, and of awful Persephone. A fearful hound guards the house in front, pitiless, and he has a cruel trick. On those who go in he fawns with his tail and both is ears, but suffers them not to go out back again, but keeps watch and devours whomsoever he catches going out of the gates of strong Hades and awful Persephone.
(ll. 775-806) And there dwells the goddess loathed by the deathless gods, terrible Styx, eldest daughter of back-flowing (23) Ocean. She lives apart from the gods in her glorious house vaulted over with great rocks and propped up to heaven all round with silver pillars. Rarely does the daughter of Thaumas, swift- footed Iris, come to her with a message over the sea's wide back.
But when strife and quarrel arise among the deathless gods, and when any of them who live in the house of Olympus lies, then Zeus sends Iris to bring in a golden jug the great oath of the gods from far away, the famous cold water which trickles down from a high and beetling rock. Far under the wide-pathed earth a branch of Oceanus flows through the dark night out of the holy stream, and a tenth part of his water is allotted to her. With nine silver-swirling streams he winds about the earth and the sea's wide back, and then falls into the main (24); but the tenth flows out from a rock, a sore trouble to the gods. For whoever of the deathless gods that hold the peaks of snowy Olympus pours a libation of her water is forsworn, lies breathless until a full year is completed, and never comes near to taste ambrosia and nectar, but lies spiritless and voiceless on a strewn bed: and a heavy trance overshadows him. But when he has spent a long year in his sickness, another penance and an harder follows after the first. For nine years he is cut off from the eternal gods and never joins their councils of their feasts, nine full years. But in the tenth year he comes again to join the assemblies of the deathless gods who live in the house of Olympus. Such an oath, then, did the gods appoint the eternal and primaeval water of Styx to be: and it spouts through a rugged place.
(ll. 807-819) And there, all in their order, are the sources and ends of the dark earth and misty Tartarus and the unfruitful sea and starry heaven, loathsome and dank, which even the gods abhor.
And there are shining gates and an immoveable threshold of bronze having unending roots and it is grown of itself (25). And beyond, away from all the gods, live the Titans, beyond gloomy Chaos. But the glorious allies of loud-crashing Zeus have their dwelling upon Ocean's foundations, even Cottus and Gyes; but Briareos, being goodly, the deep-roaring Earth-Shaker made his son-in-law, giving him Cymopolea his daughter to wed.
(ll. 820-868) But when Zeus had driven the Titans from heaven, huge Earth bare her youngest child Typhoeus of the love of Tartarus, by the aid of golden Aphrodite. Strength was with his hands in all that he did and the feet of the strong god were untiring. From his shoulders grew an hundred heads of a snake, a fearful dragon, with dark, flickering tongues, and from under the brows of his eyes in his marvellous heads flashed fire, and fire burned from his heads as he glared. And there were voices in all his dreadful heads which uttered every kind of sound unspeakable; for at one time they made sounds such that the gods understood, but at another, the noise of a bull bellowing aloud in proud ungovernable fury; and at another, the sound of a lion, relentless of heart; and at anothers, sounds like whelps, wonderful to hear; and again, at another, he would hiss, so that the high mountains re-echoed. And truly a thing past help would have happened on that day, and he would have come to reign over mortals and immortals, had not the father of men and gods been quick to perceive it. But he thundered hard and mightily: and the earth around resounded terribly and the wide heaven above, and the sea and Ocean's streams and the nether parts of the earth. Great Olympus reeled beneath the divine feet of the king as he arose and earth groaned thereat. And through the two of them heat took hold on the dark-blue sea, through the thunder and lightning, and through the fire from the monster, and the scorching winds and blazing thunderbolt. The whole earth seethed, and sky and sea: and the long waves raged along the beaches round and about, at the rush of the deathless gods: and there arose an endless shaking. Hades trembled where he rules over the dead below, and the Titans under Tartarus who live with Cronos, because of the unending clamour and the fearful strife. So when Zeus had raised up his might and seized his arms, thunder and lightning and lurid thunderbolt, he leaped form Olympus and struck him, and burned all the marvellous heads of the monster about him. But when Zeus had conquered him and lashed him with strokes, Typhoeus was hurled down, a maimed wreck, so that the huge earth groaned. And flame shot forth from the thunder- stricken lord in the dim rugged glens of the mount (26), when he was smitten. A great part of huge earth was scorched by the terrible vapour and melted as tin melts when heated by men's art in channelled (27) crucibles; or as iron, which is hardest of all things, is softened by glowing fire in mountain glens and melts in the divine earth through the strength of Hephaestus (28). Even so, then, the earth melted in the glow of the blazing fire. And in the bitterness of his anger Zeus cast him into wide Tartarus.
(ll. 869-880) And from Typhoeus come boisterous winds which blow damply, except Notus and Boreas and clear Zephyr. These are a god-sent kind, and a great blessing to men; but the others blow fitfully upon the seas. Some rush upon the misty sea and work great havoc among men with their evil, raging blasts; for varying with the season they blow, scattering ships and destroying sailors. And men who meet these upon the sea have no help against the mischief. Others again over the boundless, flowering earth spoil the fair fields of men who dwell below, filling them with dust and cruel uproar.
(ll. 881-885) But when the blessed gods had finished their toil, and settled by force their struggle for honours with the Titans, they pressed far-seeing Olympian Zeus to reign and to rule over them, by Earth's prompting. So he divided their dignities amongst them.
(ll. 886-900) Now Zeus, king of the gods, made Metis his wife first, and she was wisest among gods and mortal men. But when she was about to bring forth the goddess bright-eyed Athene, Zeus craftily deceived her with cunning words and put her in his own belly, as Earth and starry Heaven advised. For they advised him so, to the end that no other should hold royal sway over the eternal gods in place of Zeus; for very wise children were destined to be born of her, first the maiden bright-eyed Tritogeneia, equal to her father in strength and in wise understanding; but afterwards she was to bear a son of overbearing spirit, king of gods and men. But Zeus put her into his own belly first, that the goddess might devise for him both good and evil.
(ll. 901-906) Next he married bright Themis who bare the Horae (Hours), and Eunomia (Order), Dike (Justice), and blooming Eirene (Peace), who mind the works of mortal men, and the Moerae (Fates) to whom wise Zeus gave the greatest honour, Clotho, and Lachesis, and Atropos who give mortal men evil and good to have.
(ll. 907-911) And Eurynome, the daughter of Ocean, beautiful in form, bare him three fair-cheeked Charites (Graces), Aglaea, and Euphrosyne, and lovely Thaleia, from whose eyes as they glanced flowed love that unnerves the limbs: and beautiful is their glance beneath their brows.
(ll. 912-914) Also he came to the bed of all-nourishing Demeter, and she bare white-armed Persephone whom Aidoneus carried off from her mother; but wise Zeus gave her to him.
(ll. 915-917) And again, he loved Mnemosyne with the beautiful hair: and of her the nine gold-crowned Muses were born who delight in feasts and the pleasures of song.
(ll. 918-920) And Leto was joined in love with Zeus who holds the aegis, and bare Apollo and Artemis delighting in arrows, children lovely above all the sons of Heaven.
(ll. 921-923) Lastly, he made Hera his blooming wife: and she was joined in love with the king of gods and men, and brought forth Hebe and Ares and Eileithyia.
(ll. 924-929) But Zeus himself gave birth from his own head to bright-eyed Tritogeneia (29), the awful, the strife-stirring, the host-leader, the unwearying, the queen, who delights in tumults and wars and battles. But Hera without union with Zeus -- for she was very angry and quarrelled with her mate -- bare famous Hephaestus, who is skilled in crafts more than all the sons of Heaven.
(ll. 929a-929t) (30) But Hera was very angry and quarrelled with her mate. And because of this strife she bare without union with Zeus who holds the aegis a glorious son, Hephaestus, who excelled all the sons of Heaven in crafts. But Zeus lay with the fair- cheeked daughter of Ocean and Tethys apart from Hera.... ((LACUNA)) ....deceiving Metis (Thought) although she was full wise. But he seized her with his hands and put her in his belly, for fear that she might bring forth something stronger than his thunderbolt: therefore did Zeus, who sits on high and dwells in the aether, swallow her down suddenly. But she straightway conceived Pallas Athene: and the father of men and gods gave her birth by way of his head on the banks of the river Trito. And she remained hidden beneath the inward parts of Zeus, even Metis, Athena's mother, worker of righteousness, who was wiser than gods and mortal men. There the goddess (Athena) received that (31) whereby she excelled in strength all the deathless ones who dwell in Olympus, she who made the host-scaring weapon of Athena. And with it (Zeus) gave her birth, arrayed in arms of war.
(ll. 930-933) And of Amphitrite and the loud-roaring Earth-Shaker was born great, wide-ruling Triton, and he owns the depths of the sea, living with his dear mother and the lord his father in their golden house, an awful god.
(ll. 933-937) Also Cytherea bare to Ares the shield-piercer Panic and Fear, terrible gods who drive in disorder the close ranks of men in numbing war, with the help of Ares, sacker of towns: and Harmonia whom high-spirited Cadmus made his wife.
(ll. 938-939) And Maia, the daughter of Atlas, bare to Zeus glorious Hermes, the herald of the deathless gods, for she went up into his holy bed.
(ll. 940-942) And Semele, daughter of Cadmus was joined with him in love and bare him a splendid son, joyous Dionysus, -- a mortal woman an immortal son. And now they both are gods.
(ll. 943-944) And Alemena was joined in love with Zeus who drives the clouds and bare mighty Heracles.
(ll. 945-946) And Hephaestus, the famous Lame One, made Aglaea, youngest of the Graces, his buxom wife.
(ll. 947-949) And golden-haired Dionysus made brown-haired Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, his buxom wife: and the son of Cronos made her deathless and unageing for him.
(ll. 950-955) And mighty Heracles, the valiant son of neat-ankled Alemena, when he had finished his grievous toils, made Hebe the child of great Zeus and gold-shod Hera his shy wife in snowy Olympus. Happy he! For he has finished his great works and lives amongst the dying gods, untroubled and unaging all his days.
(ll. 956-962) And Perseis, the daughter of Ocean, bare to unwearying Helios Circe and Aeetes the king. And Aeetes, the son of Helios who shows light to men, took to wife fair-cheeked Idyia, daughter of Ocean the perfect stream, by the will of the gods: and she was subject to him in love through golden Aphrodite and bare him neat-ankled Medea.
(ll. 963-968) And now farewell, you dwellers on Olympus and you islands and continents and thou briny sea within. Now sing the company of goddesses, sweet-voiced Muses of Olympus, daughter of Zeus who holds the aegis, -- even those deathless one who lay with mortal men and bare children like unto gods.
(ll. 969-974) Demeter, bright goddess, was joined in sweet love with the hero Iasion in a thrice-ploughed fallow in the rich land of Crete, and bare Plutus, a kindly god who goes everywhere over land and the sea's wide back, and him who finds him and into whose hands he comes he makes rich, bestowing great wealth upon him.
(ll. 975-978) And Harmonia, the daughter of golden Aphrodite, bare to Cadmus Ino and Semele and fair-cheeked Agave and Autonoe whom long haired Aristaeus wedded, and Polydorus also in rich- crowned Thebe.
(ll. 979-983) And the daughter of Ocean, Callirrhoe was joined in the love of rich Aphrodite with stout hearted Chrysaor and bare a son who was the strongest of all men, Geryones, whom mighty Heracles killed in sea-girt Erythea for the sake of his shambling oxen.
(ll. 984-991) And Eos bare to Tithonus brazen-crested Memnon, king of the Ethiopians, and the Lord Emathion. And to Cephalus she bare a splendid son, strong Phaethon, a man like the gods, whom, when he was a young boy in the tender flower of glorious youth with childish thoughts, laughter-loving Aphrodite seized and caught up and made a keeper of her shrine by night, a divine spirit.
(ll. 993-1002) And the son of Aeson by the will of the gods led away from Aeetes the daughter of Aeetes the heaven-nurtured king, when he had finished the many grievous labours which the great king, over bearing Pelias, that outrageous and presumptuous doer of violence, put upon him. But when the son of Aeson had finished them, he came to Iolcus after long toil bringing the coy-eyed girl with him on his swift ship, and made her his buxom wife. And she was subject to Iason, shepherd of the people, and bare a son Medeus whom Cheiron the son of Philyra brought up in the mountains. And the will of great Zeus was fulfilled.
(ll. 1003-1007) But of the daughters of Nereus, the Old man of the Sea, Psamathe the fair goddess, was loved by Aeacus through golden Aphrodite and bare Phocus. And the silver-shod goddess Thetis was subject to Peleus and brought forth lion-hearted Achilles, the destroyer of men.
(ll. 1008-1010) And Cytherea with the beautiful crown was joined in sweet love with the hero Anchises and bare Aeneas on the peaks of Ida with its many wooded glens.
(ll. 1011-1016) And Circe the daughter of Helius, Hyperion's son, loved steadfast Odysseus and bare Agrius and Latinus who was faultless and strong: also she brought forth Telegonus by the will of golden Aphrodite. And they ruled over the famous Tyrenians, very far off in a recess of the holy islands.
(ll. 1017-1018) And the bright goddess Calypso was joined to Odysseus in sweet love, and bare him Nausithous and Nausinous.
(ll. 1019-1020) These are the immortal goddesses who lay with mortal men and bare them children like unto gods.
(ll. 1021-1022) But now, sweet-voiced Muses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis, sing of the company of women.
(1) The epithet probably indicates coquettishness. (2) A proverbial saying meaning, `why enlarge on irrelevant topics?' (3) `She of the noble voice': Calliope is queen of Epic poetry. (4) Earth, in the cosmology of Hesiod, is a disk surrounded by the river Oceanus and floating upon a waste of waters. It is called the foundation of all (the qualification `the deathless ones...' etc. is an interpolation), because not only trees, men, and animals, but even the hills and seas (ll. 129, 131) are supported by it. (5) Aether is the bright, untainted upper atmosphere, as distinguished from Aer, the lower atmosphere of the earth. (6) Brontes is the Thunderer; Steropes, the Lightener; and Arges, the Vivid One. (7) The myth accounts for the separation of Heaven and Earth. In Egyptian cosmology Nut (the Sky) is thrust and held apart from her brother Geb (the Earth) by their father Shu, who corresponds to the Greek Atlas. (8) Nymphs of the ash-trees, as Dryads are nymphs of the oak- trees. Cp. note on "Works and Days", l. 145. (9) `Member-loving': the title is perhaps only a perversion of the regular PHILOMEIDES (laughter-loving). (10) Cletho (the Spinner) is she who spins the thread of man's life; Lachesis (the Disposer of Lots) assigns to each man his destiny; Atropos (She who cannot be turned) is the `Fury with the abhorred shears.' (11) Many of the names which follow express various qualities or aspects of the sea: thus Galene is `Calm', Cymothoe is the `Wave-swift', Pherusa and Dynamene are `She who speeds (ships)' and `She who has power'. (12) The `Wave-receiver' and the `Wave-stiller'. (13) `The Unerring' or `Truthful'; cp. l. 235. (14) i.e. Poseidon. (15) Goettling notes that some of these nymphs derive their names from lands over which they preside, as Europa, Asia, Doris, Ianeira (`Lady of the Ionians'), but that most are called after some quality which their streams possessed: thus Xanthe is the `Brown' or `Turbid', Amphirho is the `Surrounding' river, Ianthe is `She who delights', and Ocyrrhoe is the `Swift-flowing'. (16) i.e. Eos, the `Early-born'. (17) Van Lennep explains that Hecate, having no brothers to support her claim, might have been slighted. (18) The goddess of the hearth (the Roman "Vesta"), and so of the house. Cp. "Homeric Hymns" v.22 ff.; xxxix.1 ff. (19) The variant reading `of his father' (sc. Heaven) rests on inferior MS. authority and is probably an alteration due to the difficulty stated by a Scholiast: `How could Zeus, being not yet begotten, plot against his father?' The phrase is, however, part of the prophecy. The whole line may well be spurious, and is rejected by Heyne, Wolf, Gaisford and Guyet. (20) Pausanias (x. 24.6) saw near the tomb of Neoptolemus `a stone of no great size', which the Delphians anointed every day with oil, and which he says was supposed to be the stone given to Cronos. (21) A Scholiast explains: `Either because they (men) sprang from the Melian nymphs (cp. l. 187); or because, when they were born (?), they cast themselves under the ash-trees, that is, the trees.' The reference may be to the origin of men from ash-trees: cp. "Works and Days", l. 145 and note. (22) sc. Atlas, the Shu of Egyptian mythology: cp. note on line 177. (23) Oceanus is here regarded as a continuous stream enclosing the earth and the seas, and so as flowing back upon himself. (24) The conception of Oceanus is here different: he has nine streams which encircle the earth and the flow out into the `main' which appears to be the waste of waters on which, according to early Greek and Hebrew cosmology, the disk-like earth floated. (25) i.e. the threshold is of `native' metal, and not artificial. (26) According to Homer Typhoeus was overwhelmed by Zeus amongst the Arimi in Cilicia. Pindar represents him as buried under Aetna, and Tzetzes reads Aetna in this passage. (27) The epithet (which means literally `well-bored') seems to refer to the spout of the crucible. (28) The fire god. There is no reference to volcanic action: iron was smelted on Mount Ida; cp. "Epigrams of Homer", ix. 2-4. (29) i.e. Athena, who was born `on the banks of the river Trito' (cp. l. 929l) (30) Restored by Peppmuller. The nineteen following lines from another recension of lines 889-900, 924-9 are quoted by Chrysippus (in Galen). (31) sc. the aegis. Line 929s is probably spurious, since it disagrees with l. 929q and contains a suspicious reference to Athens.
It's a modern non-commercial translation, but it looks fine to me. I really enjoyed reading Julius Caesars live, much more than the other lives. Suetonius' account of Julius Caesar was the only one where I personally liked the subject. Some people condemn Caesar for executing the pirates that captured him and whom came to respect him, but in the context of his time and situation I don't think he was entirely unjust. It was of course also a political statement: "Don't f*** with me".
I would also submit the works of the Church Fathers:
I have found a better link you two, I hope you don't mind. I will put the first part out here with links to the rest. When clicking on the links you get a choice of speech or section, in case you want the full thing or just a section at a time.
On the Murder of Eratosthenes
I should be only too pleased, sirs, to have you so disposed towards me in judging this case as you would be to yourselves, if you found yourselves in my plight. For I am sure that, if you had the same feelings about others as about yourselves, not one of you but would be indignant at what has been done; you would all regard the penalties appointed for those who resort to such practices as too mild.  And these feelings would be found, not only among you, but in the whole of Greece: for in the case of this crime alone, under both democracy and oligarchy, the same requital is accorded to the weakest against the strongest, so that the lowest gets the same treatment as the highest.1 Thus you see, sirs, how all men abominate this outrage.  Well, I conceive that, in regard to the severity of the penalty, you are all of the same mind, and that not one of you is so easygoing as to think it right that men who are guilty of such acts should obtain pardon, or to presume that slight penalties suffice for their deserts.  But I take it, sirs, that what I have to show is that Eratosthenes had an intrigue with my wife, and not only corrupted her but inflicted disgrace upon my children and an outrage on myself by entering my house; that this was the one and only enmity between him and me; that I have not acted thus for the sake of money, so as to raise myself from poverty to wealth; and that all I seek to gain is the requital accorded by our laws.  I shall therefore set forth to you the whole of my story from the beginning; I shall omit nothing, but will tell the truth. For I consider that my own sole deliverance rests on my telling you, if I am able, the whole of what has occurred. 
When I, Athenians, decided to marry, and brought a wife into my house, for some time I was disposed neither to vex her nor to leave her too free to do just as she pleased; I kept a watch on her as far as possible, with such observation of her as was reasonable. But when a child was born to me, thence-forward I began to trust her, and placed all my affairs in her hands, presuming that we were now in perfect intimacy.  It is true that in the early days, Athenians, she was the most excellent of wives; she was a clever, frugal housekeeper, and kept everything in the nicest order. But as soon as I lost my mother, her death became the cause of all my troubles.  For it was in attending her funeral that my wife was seen by this man, who in time corrupted her. He looked out for the servant-girl who went to market, and so paid addresses to her mistress by which he wrought her ruin.  Now in the first place I must tell you, sirs （for I am obliged to give you these particulars）, my dwelling is on two floors, the upper being equal in space to the lower, with the women's quarters above and the men's below. When the child was born to us, its mother suckled it; and in order that, each time that it had to be washed, she might avoid the risk of descending by the stairs, I used to live above, and the women below.  By this time it had become such an habitual thing that my wife would often leave me and go down to sleep with the child, so as to be able to give it the breast and stop its crying. Things went on in this way for a long time, and I never suspected, but was simple-minded enough to suppose that my own was the chastest wife in the city.  Time went on, sirs; I came home unexpectedly from the country, and after dinner the child started crying in a peevish way, as the servant-girl was annoying it on purpose to make it so behave; for the man was in the house—  I learnt it all later. So I bade my wife go and give the child her breast, to stop its howling. At first she refused, as though delighted to see me home again after so long; but when I began to be angry and bade her go, —“Yes, so that you,”she said, “may have a try here at the little maid. Once before, too, when you were drunk, you pulled her about.”  At that I laughed, while she got up, went out of the room, and closed the door, feigning to make fun, and she took the key away with her. I, without giving a thought to the matter, or having any suspicion, went to sleep in all content after my return from the country.  Towards daytime she came and opened the door. I asked why the doors made a noise in the night; she told me that the child's lamp had gone out, and she had lit it again at our neighbor's. I was silent and believed it was so. But it struck me, sirs, that she had powdered her face,2though her brother had died not thirty days before; even so, however, I made no remark on the fact, but left the house in silence.  After this, sirs, an interval occurred in which I was left quite unaware of my own injuries; I was then accosted by a certain old female, who was secretly sent by a woman with whom that man was having an intrigue, as I heard later. This woman was angry with him and felt herself wronged, because he no longer visited her so regularly, and she was keeping a watch on him until she should discover what was the cause.  So the old creature accosted me where she was on the look-out, near my house, and said,—“Euphiletus, do not think it is from any meddlesomeness that I have approached you; for the man who is working both your and your wife's dishonor happens to be our enemy. If, therefore, you take the servant-girl who goes to market and waits on you, and torture her, you will learn all. It is,” she said, “Eratosthenes of Oe who is doing this; he has debauched not only your wife, but many others besides; he makes an art of it.”  With these words, sirs, she took herself off; I was at once perturbed; all that had happened came into my mind, and I was filled with suspicion,—reflecting first how I was shut up in my chamber, and then remembering how on that night the inner and outer doors made a noise, which had never occurred before, and how it struck me that my wife had put on powder. All these things came into my mind, and I was filled with suspicion.  Returning home, I bade the servant-girl follow me to the market, and taking her to the house of an intimate friend, I told her I was fully informed of what was going on in my house: “So it is open to you,” I said, “to choose as you please between two things,—either to be whipped and thrown into a mill, and to be irrevocably immersed in that sort of misery, or else to speak out the whole truth and, instead of suffering any harm, obtain my pardon for your transgressions. Tell no lies, but speak the whole truth.”  The girl at first denied it, and bade me do what I pleased, for she knew nothing; but when I mentioned Eratosthenes to her, and said that he was the man who visited my wife, she was dismayed, supposing that I had exact knowledge of everything. At once she threw herself down at my knees, and having got my pledge that she should suffer no harm,  she accused him, first, of approaching her after the funeral, and then told how at last she became his messenger; how my wife in time was persuaded, and by what means she procured his entrances, and how at the Thesmophoria3, while I was in the country, she went off to the temple with his mother. And the girl gave an exact account of everything else that had occurred.  When her tale was all told, I said,—“Well now, see that nobody in the world gets knowledge of this; otherwise, nothing in your arrangement with me will hold good. And I require that you show me their guilt in the very act; I want no words, but manifestation of the fact, if it really is so.” She agreed to do this.  Then came an interval of four or five days ... as I shall bring strong evidence to show. But first I wish to relate what took place on the last day. I had an intimate friend named Sostratus. After sunset I met him coming from the country. As I knew that, arriving at that hour, he would find none of his circle at home, I invited him to dine with me; we came to my house, mounted to the upper room, and had dinner.  When he had made a good meal, he left me and departed; then I went to bed. Eratosthenes, sirs, entered, and the maid-servant roused me at once, and told me that he was in the house. Bidding her look after the door, I descended and went out in silence; I called on one friend and another, and found some of them at home, while others were out of town.  I took with me as many as I could among those who were there, and so came along. Then we got torches from the nearest shop, and went in; the door was open, as the girl had it in readiness. We pushed open the door of the bedroom, and the first of us to enter were in time to see him lying down by my wife; those who followed saw him standing naked on the bed.  I gave him a blow, sirs, which knocked him down, and pulling round his two hands behind his back, and tying them, I asked him why he had the insolence to enter my house. He admitted his guilt; then he besought and implored me not to kill him, but to exact a sum of money.  To this I replied, “It is not I who am going to kill you, but our city's law, which you have transgressed and regarded as of less account than your pleasures, choosing rather to commit this foul offence against my wife and my children than to obey the laws like a decent person.” 
Thus it was, sirs, that this man incurred the fate that the laws ordain for those who do such things; he had not been dragged in there from the street, nor had he taken refuge at my hearth4, as these people say. For how could it be so, when it was in the bedroom that he was struck and fell down then and there, and I pinioned his arms, and so many persons were in the house that he could not make his escape, as he had neither steel nor wood nor anything else with which he might have beaten off those who had entered?  But, sirs, I think you know as well as I that those whose acts are against justice do not acknowledge that their enemies speak the truth, but lie themselves and use other such devices to foment anger in their hearers against those whose acts are just. So, first read the law.“Law” 
He did not dispute it, sirs: he acknowledged his guilt, and besought and implored that he might not be killed, and was ready to pay compensation in money. But I would not agree to his estimate, as I held that our city's law should have higher authority; and I obtained that satisfaction which you deemed most just when you imposed it on those who adopt such courses. Now, let my witnesses come forward in support of these statements.“Witnesses” 
Read out also, please, that law from the pillar in the Areopagus.“Law”
You hear, sirs, how the Court of the Areopagus itself, to which has been assigned, in our own as in our fathers' time, the trial of suits for murder, has expressly stated that whoever takes this vengeance on an adulterer caught in the act with his spouse shall not be convicted of murder.  And so strongly was the lawgiver convinced of the justice of this in the case of wedded wives, that he even applied the same penalty in the case of mistresses, who are of less account. Now surely it is clear that, if he had had any heavier punishment than this for the case of married women, he would have imposed it. But in fact, as he was unable to devise a severer one for this case, he ordained that it should be the same for that of mistresses also. Please read this law besides.“Law” 
You hear, sirs, how it directs that, if anyone forcibly debauches a free adult or child, he shall be liable to double5 damages; while if he so debauches a woman, in one of the cases where it is permitted to kill him, he is subject to the same rule. Thus the lawgiver, sirs, considered that those who use force deserve a less penalty than those who use persuasion; for the latter he condemned to death, whereas for the former he doubled the damages,  considering that those who achieve their ends by force are hated by the persons forced; while those who used persuasion corrupted thereby their victims' souls, thus making the wives of others more closely attached to themselves than to their husbands, and got the whole house into their hands, and caused uncertainty as to whose the children really were, the husbands' or the adulterers'. In view of all this the author of the law made death their penalty.  Wherefore I, sirs, not only stand acquitted of wrongdoing by the laws, but am also directed by them to take this satisfaction: it is for you to decide whether they are to be valid or of no account.  For to my thinking every city makes its laws in order that on any matter which perplexes us we may resort to them and inquire what we have to do. And so it is they who, in cases like the present, exhort the wronged parties to obtain this kind of satisfaction.  I call upon you to support their opinion: otherwise, you will be giving adulterers such licence that you will encourage thieves as well to call themselves adulterers; since they will feel assured that, if they plead this reason in their defence, and allege that they enter other men's houses for this purpose, nobody will touch them. For everyone will know that the laws on adultery are to be given the go-by, and that it is your vote that one has to fear, because this has supreme authority over all the city's affairs. 
Do but consider, sirs, what they say: they accuse me of ordering the maid-servant on that day to go and fetch the young man. Now I, sirs, could have held myself justified in using any possible means to catch the corrupter of my wife.  For if I had bidden the girl fetch him, when words alone had been spoken and no act had been committed, I should have been in the wrong: but if, when once he had compassed all his ends, and had frequently entered my house, I had then used any possible means to catch him, I should have considered myself quite in order.  And observe how on this point also they are lying: you will perceive it easily in this way. As I told you, sirs, before, Sostratus was a friend of mine, on intimate terms with me; he met me as he came from the country about sunset, and had dinner with me, and when he had made a good meal he left me and departed. Now in the first place, sirs, you must bear this in mind:  if on that night I had designs on Eratosthenes, which was more to my advantage, —to go and take my dinner elsewhere, or to bring in my guest to dinner with me? For in the latter case that man would have been less likely to venture on entering my house. And in the second place, do you suppose that I should have let my dinner guest go and leave me there alone and unsupported, and not rather have bidden him stay, in order that he might stand by me in taking vengeance upon the adulterer?  Then again, sirs, do you not think that I should have sent word to my intimate acquaintances in the daytime, and bidden them assemble at the house of one of my friends living nearest to me, rather than have waited till the moment of making my discovery to run round in the night, without knowing whom I should find at home, and who were away? Thus I called on Harmodius, and one other, who were not in town —of this I was not aware—and others, I found, were not in; but those whom I could I took along with me.  Yet if I had foreknown this, do you not think that I should have called up servants and passed the word to my friends, in order that I might have gone in myself with all possible safety, —for how could I tell whether he too had some weapon? —and so I might have had as many witnesses as possible with me when I took my vengeance? But as in fact I knew nothing of what was to befall on that night, I took with me those whom I could. Now let my witnesses come forward in support of all this.“Witnesses” 
You have heard the witnesses, sirs; and consider this affair further in your own minds, asking yourselves whether any enmity has ever arisen before this between me and Eratosthenes.  I say you will discover none. For he had neither subjected me to slanderous impeachment, nor attempted to expel me from the city, nor brought any private suit against me, nor was he privy to any wrongdoing which I was so afraid of being divulged that I was intent on his destruction, nor, should I accomplish this, had I any hope of getting money from anywhere: for there are people who plot each other's death for such purposes.  So far, indeed, from either abuse or a drunken brawl or any other quarrel having occurred between us, I had never even seen the man before that night. For what object, then, should I run so grave a risk, unless I had received from him the greatest of injuries?  Why, again, did I choose to summon witnesses for my wicked act, when it was open to me, if I was thus criminally intent on his destruction, to have none of them privy to it? 
I therefore, sirs, do not regard this requital as having been exacted in my own private interest, but in that of the whole city. For those who behave in that way, when they see the sort of reward that is in store for such transgressions, will be less inclined to trespass against their neighbors, if they see that you also take the same view.  Otherwise it were better far to erase our established laws, and ordain others which will inflict the penalties on men who keep watch on their own wives, and will allow full immunity to those who would debauch them.  This would be a far more just way than to let the citizens be entrapped by the laws; these may bid a man, on catching an adulterer, to deal with him in whatever way he pleases, but the trials are found to be more dangerous to the wronged parties than to those who, in defiance of the laws, dishonor the wives of others.  For I am now risking the loss of life, property and all else that I have, because I obeyed the city's laws.
1 The general statement in these last words shows that the full sense of the preceding is: “the same requital is accorded to the weakest against the strongest as to the strongest against the weakest.”
However in regards to
Brisesis after reading book one you see the anger Achilles feels and the
voided and pain for loosing her. There is much debate as to his true
feelings towards her. Yes she was a "prize" won but we see how it
affects him to the point of withdrawing his aid to Agamemnon for her
return. Also I saw somewhere there are letters from Brisesis describing
how angered she is Achilles took so long in getting her back. Now as Achilles killed her father, mother, and brothers, could be she developed Stockholm Syndrome and he a guilt and need to care for her and see her better with him than the brutal party he associated with. Just a theory, !
Well, what Achilles was angry at was that he was taken his prize, and his pride was wounded. All he raves against is Agamemnon humiliating him "...Agamemnon, Atreus’ son,
has shamed me, has taken away my prize,
appropriated it for his own use.”..."
"...We came to Thebe, Eëtion’s sacred city,
sacked it, taking everything the city had.
Achaea’s sons apportioned it all fairly
are sending Chryseis in fast ships back to Chryse,
transporting gifts for lord Apollo, and heralds came
to take away Briseis from my huts,
the girl who is my gift from Achaea’s sons..."
"...corner Achaeans by the sea, by their ships’ prows,
have them destroyed, so they all enjoy their king,
so the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon,
himself may see his foolishness, dishonouring
Achilles, the best of the Achaeans.”..."
So, there is no word of affection, only cries of a kid who had been taken his toy away - injured pride. Briseis was nothing, a body to be thrown at any male, given as a gift, etc, and any male who gets her had the right to have her - I suppose in her place a girl would like to be with at least the first who got her, not everyone who comes around to wipe himself with her - but this is not love, not even Stockholm, just an attempt to survive. I haven't heard about letters from Briseis to Achilles, but if there are such, I cannot them as affection. A woman can develop true affection only if her life doesn't depend on a man, when she her survival depends on that, love cannot be developed. Love is free spirit, needs freedom, being trapped prevents any love as independent human feeling, /as mature desire to be with someone because of what one feels, not what one needs/, to grow. In a sense love is a luxury, only women who have enough substance and chances to live by themselves can really afford it - if a woman has no other choice, that's not affection in the way we see it now. This is my opinion anyway.
As for Achilles developing a guilt - nothing in the Iliad makes me think is - on the opposite, the hero ethos of the time called exactly for that - kill all the males, and this is "virtue" /arete/, according to the Greek ethos the virtuous man was one who was victorious, a brave man, man who reached his utmost potential is killing and destroying the lives of others, and taking what they had for himself. This brought fame /kleos/ that brought meaning and value to one's life; Achilles was all about fame, so he of all the characters in the Iliad would be the least feeling guilty about achieving this fame. The Homeric heroes are not able to feel guilt or shame - they lie, cheat, kill men in their sleep to steal their horses, Odysseus came up with a sly lie to get to Troy - what kind of honor is that - in our modern morality, none. But Odysseus, the biggest cheat and liar thought both Iliad and Odyssey, is lauded by Homer as the most clever and brave Greek hero. If I had dome 1% of his lying, I would arrest myself and bring myself to jail, not sit and take ovations for that. Guilt, self-blame, those are modern moral categories, and they didn't exist in Homeric time. The Greeks genocided a peaceful city, taken by a broken peace contract - any country that do that now would be reviled, because during the time since Homer humanity developed different moral code, and guild is one of it's core notions; but this type of guilt didn't exist in the time of Homer.
"...And Death Shall Have no Dominion..." Dylan Thomas
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