A Dialogue Concerning the Nature of Man
With Taylor’s “Additional Notes,” drawn from the
MS Commentary of Proclus.
Stephanus numbers included.
The Works of Plato: His Fifty-Five Dialogues and Twelve Epistles, 1804,
The most peculiar and firm principle, says Proclus, of all the dialogues of Plato, and of the whole theory of that philosopher, is the knowledge of our own nature; for, this being properly established as an hypothesis, we shall be able accurately to learn the good which is adapted to us, and the evil which opposes this good. For, as the essences of things are different, so also are their proper perfections; and this according to a subjection of essence. For, whether being and the good proceed, as Aristotle says, from the same Vesta and first fountain, it is certainly necessary that perfection should be imparted to every thing according to the measures of essence; or whether good proceeds from a cause more ancient and more characterized by unity, but essence and being are imparted to things from another cause; still, as every thing participates of being more obscurely and more clearly, in the same degree must it participate of good; first beings, in a greater and more perfect manner; but those that rank in the middle orders, secondarily; and the last of things according to an ultimate subsistence. For, how otherwise can things participate of deity and providence, and a distribution according to their desert? For it must not be admitted that intellect can lead things into order, and impart to each a convenient measure, but that the good, or the ineffable principle of things, which is more ancient than intellect, should make its communications in a disordered manner; viz. that it should impart to causes and things caused the same portion of goodness, and distribute to the same things according to being the perfections of more primary and subordinate natures. For it neither was lawful, says Timæus, nor is, for the best of natures to effect any thing but that which is most beautiful and most commensurate. But the same good is not most commensurate to first and secondary natures; but, as the Athenian guest says, a distribution of inequality to things unequal, and of equality to things equal, of the greater to such as are greater, and of the lesser to such as are lesser, is of all things the most musical and the best.
According to this reasoning, therefore, good is different in different beings, and a certain good is naturally co-ordinated to the essence of every thing. Hence the perfection of intellect is in eternity,2 but of the rational soul in time: and the good of the rational soul consists in an energy according to intellect, but the good of body is in a subsistence according to nature; so that he who thinks that though the nature in these is different, yet the perfection is the same, has an erroneous conception of the truth of things.
According to every order of beings, therefore, essence ought to be known prior to perfection; for perfection is not of itself, but of essence, by which it is participated. Hence, with respect to the essence of a thing, we must first consider whether it belongs to impartible essences, such as intellectual natures, or to such as are divisible about bodies, viz. corporeal forms and qualities, or to such as subsist between these. Likewise, whether it ranks among eternal entities, or such as subsist according to the whole of time, or such as are generated in a certain part of time. Again, whether it is simple, and subsists prior to composition, or is indeed a composite, but is always in the act of being bound with indissoluble bonds,3 or may again be resolved into those things from which it is composed. For, by thus considering every thing, we shall be able to understand in what its good consists. For, again, it is evident that the good of those natures which are allotted an impartible essence is eternal, but that the good of partible natures is conversant with time and motion; and that the good of things subsisting between these is to be considered according to the measures of subsistence and perfection; viz. that such a nature is indeed indigent of time, but of first time, which is able to measure incorporeal periods. So that the pure and genuine knowledge of ourselves, circumscribed in scientific boundaries, must, as we have said, be considered as the most proper principle of all philosophy, and of the doctrine of Plato. For, where is it proper to begin, except from the purification and perfection of ourselves, and whence the Delphic god exhorts us to begin? For, as those who enter the Eleusinian grove are ordered by an inscription not to enter into the adyta of the temple, if they are uninitiated in the highest of the mysteries, so the inscription KNOW THYSELF, on the Delphic temple, manifests, as it appears to me, the mode of returning to a divine nature, and the most useful path to purification, all but perspicuously asserting to the intelligent, that he who knows himself beginning from the Vestal hearth may be able to be conjoined with that divinity who unfolds into light the whole of truth, and is the leader of a cathartic life; but that he who is ignorant of himself, as being uninitiated both in the lesser and greater mysteries, is unadapted to participate the providence of Apollo. Hence then let us also begin conformably to the mandate of the god, and let us investigate in which of his dialogues Plato especially makes the speculation of our essence his principal design, that from hence we may also make the commencement of the Platonic writing. Can we then adduce any other writing of Plato except the first Alcibiades, and the conference of Socrates which is delivered in this dialogue? Where else shall we say our essence is so unfolded? Where besides are man and the nature of man investigated? To which we may add, that it is Socrates who engages in this first conversation with Alcibiades, and that it is he who says that the beginning of perfection is suspended from the contemplation of ourselves. For we are ignorant of ourselves in consequence of being involved in oblivion produced by the realms of generation, and agitated by the tumult of the irrational forms of life. In the mean time, we think that we know many things of which we are ignorant, because we essentially possess innate reasons of things.
This dialogue therefore is the beginning of all philosophy, in the same manner as the knowledge of ourselves. Hence many logical and ethical theorems are scattered in it, together with such as contribute to the entire speculation of felicity. It likewise contains information with respect to many things which contribute to physiology, and to those dogmas which lead us to the truth concerning divine natures themselves. Hence too the divine Iamblichus assigned this dialogue the first rank, in the ten dialogues, in which he was of opinion the whole philosophy of Plato was contained.
Of the particulars exhibited in this dialogue, some precede and others follow the principal design, which is the knowledge of ourselves. For the hypothesis of two-fold ignorance,4 exhortation, and the like precede; but the demonstration of virtue and felicity, and the rejection of the multitude of arts, as being ignorant of themselves, of things pertaining to themselves, and in short of all things,—and every thing else of this kind, have a consequent order. But the most perfect and leading design of the whole conversation is the speculation of our own essence. So that he will not err who establishes the care and knowledge of ourselves, as the end of the dialogue.
Again, the amatory form of life is particularly indicated by Socrates in this dialogue. For the beginning is made from hence; and he proceeds perfecting the young man till he renders him a lover of his providential care, which is the leading good of the amatory art. And in short, through all the divisions of the dialogue, he always preserves that which is adapted to an amatory life. As there are three sciences, then, which Socrates appears to have testified that he possessed, viz. the dialectic, the maieutic, (i.e. obstetric,) and the amatory, we shall find the form of the dialectic and the peculiarity of the maieutic science in this dialogue, but the effects of the amatory science predominate in it. For, when Socrates is calling forth the conceptions of Alcibiades, he still acts conformably to the amatory character; and when he employs the dialectic science, he does not depart from the peculiarity of amatory arguments. Just as in the Theætetus he is maieutic, is principally characterized according to this, and proceeds as far as to a purification of the same opinions of Theætetus: but, having effected this, he dismisses him, as being now able of himself to know the truth, which is the business of the maieutic science, as he himself asserts in that dialogue. Thus also he first indicates the amatory science in this dialogue, with which both the dialectic and maieutic are mingled. For every where Socrates introduces discourses adapted to the subject persons. And as every kind of good pre-subsists in a divine nature, which is variously possessed by different beings according to the natural aptitude of each, in like manner Socrates, who comprehends all sciences in himself, employs a different science at different times, according to the aptitude of the recipients; elevating one through the amatory science; exciting another to the reminiscence of the eternal reasons of the soul through the maieutic science; and conducting another according to the dialectic method to the speculation of beings. Some too he conjoins to the beautiful itself, others to the first wisdom, and others to the good itself. For through the amatory science we are led to the beautiful; through the maieutic, by calling forth our latent reasons, we become wise in things of which we were ignorant; and through the dialectic science we ascend as far as to the good.
Lastly, it will be found by those who are deeply skilled in the philosophy of Plato, that each of his dialogues contains that which the universe contains. Hence, in every dialogue, one thing is analogous to the good, another to intellect, another to soul, another to form, and another to matter. In this dialogue therefore it must be said, that an assimilation to a divine nature is analogous to the good; the knowledge of ourselves to intellect; the multitude of the demonstrations leading us to the conclusion, and in short every thing syllogistic in the dialogue, to soul; the character of the diction, and whatever else pertains to the power of speech, to form; and the persons, the occasion, and that which is called by rhetoricians the hypothesis, to matter.
PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE:
SCENE, (most probably) THE LYCEUM.
[103a] SOCRATES: Son of Clinias! you wonder, I suppose, that I, who was the earliest of your admirers,1 now, when all the rest have forsaken you, am the only one who still retains unalterably the same sentiments; and yet, that for so many years I have never spoken so much as a word to you, whilst the others were pressing through crowds of people to converse with you. This reserve and distance in my behaviour have been owing to no human regards, but to an impediment thrown in my way by a dæmoniacal nature,2 the power and force of which you shall by and by be made acquainted with. But now, seeing that this power no longer [103b] operates to hinder my approach, I am come thus to accost you; and am in good hopes too, that for the future the dæmon will give no opposition to my desire of conversing with you. All this while, however, being but a spectator, I have been able tolerably well to observe and consider your behaviour with regard to your admirers. And I find, that, though they have been numerous, and such persons3 too as thought highly of themselves, there is not one whom you have not driven away from you by your superior4 haughtiness and imagined elevation. [104a] The reasons of your being exalted so highly in your own opinion, I am desirous of laying before you. They are these: You presume, that in no affair whatever you need assistance from any other party: for that what you have of your own, whether of outward advantages or inward accomplishments, is so great as to be all-sufficient. In the first place, you think yourself excelling in the handsomeness5 of your person and in the fineness of your figure. And in this opinion it is evident to every one who has eyes that you are not mistaken. In the next place, you dwell on these thoughts: that you are descended from families the most illustrious in the state to which you belong;6 that this state is the greatest of any in Greece; [104b] that you have friends here, and relations on your father’s side, very numerous and very powerful, ready to assist you on every occasion; and that your relations on your mother’s side are not inferior to them, either in power or in number. But a greater strength than from all these whom I have mentioned, taken together, you think that you derive from Pericles, the son of Xanthippus, whom your father left guardian to yourself and to your brother: Pericles, who is able to do what he pleases; and that, not only at Athens, but throughout all Greece, and with many and great families abroad. [104c] To all these advantages I shall add the greatness of your estate; though, indeed, on this advantage you seem to value yourself less7 than you do on any other. Elevated as you are in your own mind on these accounts, you have looked down on your admirers: and they, conscious of their comparative meanness, have bowed their heads, and have retired. This you are very sensible of: and therefore I well know that you wonder what I can have in my thoughts, or what hopes I can entertain, seeing that I quit you not, but continue my attachment to you still, when your other admirers have all forsaken you.
ALCIBIADES: This however, Socrates, perhaps you do not know, that [104d] you have been a little beforehand with me. For I really had it in my mind to address you first, and to ask you these very questions: What can possibly be your meaning, and with what views or expectations is it, that you continually press on me, and, wherever I am, are assiduous to be there yourself? for I do in truth wonder, what your business can be with me, and should be very glad to be informed.
SOCRATES: You will hear me then, ’tis to be supposed, with willingness and attention, if you really are desirous, as you say you are, of knowing what I have in my thoughts. I speak therefore as to a person disposed to hear, and to stay till he has heard all.
ALCIBIADES: I am entirely so disposed: it is your part to speak. [104e]
SOCRATES: But observe this: you must not wonder, if, as I found it difficult to make a beginning, I should find it no less difficult to make an end.
ALCIBIADES: My good man, say all you have to say; for I shall not fail to attend to you.
SOCRATES: I must say it then: and though it is a hard task for any man to address the person whom he loves or admires, if that person be superior to flattery, yet I must adventure boldly to speak my mind. If, Alcibiades, I had observed you satisfied with those advantages of yours, which I just now enumerated; if you had appeared to indulge the fancy of spending your whole life in the enjoyment of them; I persuade myself, that my love and admiration of you would have long since left me. [105a] But that you entertain thoughts very different from such as those, I shall now show, and shall lay your own mind open before yourself. By these means you will also plainly perceive, how constantly and closely my mind has attended to you. My opinion of you then is this: That, if any of the gods were to put this question to you,—“Alcibiades!” were he to say, “whether do you choose to live in the possession of all the things which are at present yours; or do you prefer immediate death, if you are not permitted ever to acquire things greater?” in this case, it appears to me that you would make death your option. But what kind of expectations you live in, I shall now declare. You think, that, if you speedily make your appearance before the Athenian people in assembly, (and this [105b] you purpose to do within a few days,) you shall be able to convince them, that you merit higher honours than were ever bestowed on Pericles, or any other person in any age: and having convinced them of this, you think that you will arrive at the chief power in the state; and if here at home, that you will then have the greatest weight and influence abroad; and not only so with the rest of the Grecian states, but with the barbarian nations too, as many as inhabit the same continent with us. And further: if the deity whom I before spoke of, allowing you larger limits, were to say to you, that “you must be contented with being the master here in Europe; [105c] for that ’twill not be permitted you to pass over into Asia, nor to concern yourself with the administration of any affairs there;” it appears to me, that neither on these terms, thus limited, would you think life eligible; nor on any terms, indeed, that fell short of filling, in a manner, the whole world with your renown, and of being every where lord and master. I believe you deem no man that ever lived, excepting Cyrus and Xerxes, worth the speaking of. In fine, that you entertain such hopes as I have mentioned, I know with certainty, and speak not from mere conjecture. Now you, perhaps, conscious of the truth of what I have spoken, might say, [105d] “What is all this to the account you promised to give me, of the reasons for which your attachment to me still continues?” I will tell you then, dear son of Clinias and Dinomache! That all these thoughts of yours should ever come to an end, is impossible without my help,—so great power I think myself to have with regard to your affairs and to yourself too. For this reason, I have long been of opinion, that the god8 did not as yet permit me to hold any conversation with you; and I waited for the time when he would give me leave. For, as [105e] you entertain hopes of proving to the people, that your value to them is equal to whatever they can give you; and as you expect that, having proved this point, you shall immediately obtain whatever power you desire; in the same manner do I expect to have the greatest power and influence over you, when I shall have proved that I am valuable to you9 more than any other thing is; and that neither guardian, nor relation, nor any other person, is able to procure you the power you long for, except myself; with the assistance, however, of the god. So long therefore as you were yet too young, and before you had your mind filled with those swelling hopes, I believe that the god would not permit me to have discourse with you, because you would not have regarded me, and I consequently should have discoursed in vain; but that he has now given me free leave, [106a] for that you would now hearken to me.
ALCIBIADES: Much more unaccountable and absurd do you appear to me now, Socrates, since you have begun to open yourself, than when you followed me every where without speaking to me a word: and yet you had all the appearance of being a man of that sort then. As to what you have said, whether I entertain those thoughts in my mind, or not, you, it seems, know with certainty: so that, were I to say I did not, the denial would not avail me, nor persuade you to believe me. Admitting it then, and supposing that I indulge the hopes you mentioned ever so much, how they may be accomplished by means of you, and that without your help they never can, are you able to prove to me? [106b]
SOCRATES: Do you ask me, whether I am able to prove it to you in a long harangue, such a one as you are accustomed to hear? I have no abilities in that way. But yet I should be able, as I think, to prove to you, that those pretensions of mine are not vain, if you would be willing but to do me one small piece of service.
ALCIBIADES: If that service be not difficult to be done, I am willing.
SOCRATES: Do you think it difficult, or not, to make answers to such questions as are proposed to you?
ALCIBIADES: Not difficult.
SOCRATES: Be ready then to answer.
ALCIBIADES: Do you then propose your questions.
SOCRATES: May I propose them, with a supposition that you have those thoughts in your mind [106c] which I attribute to you?
ALCIBIADES: Be it so, if you choose it; that I may know what further you have to say.
SOCRATES: Well then. You have it in your mind, as I said, to appear in presence of the Athenians within a short time, with intention to harangue them and give them your advice. If therefore, when you are just ready to mount the rostrum, I were to stop you, and to say thus, “Since the Athenians are here met in assembly, on purpose to deliberate on some of their affairs, what, I pray you, are to be the subjects of their deliberation, now that you rise up to give them your counsel? Must not the subjects be such as you are better acquainted with than they?” what answer would you make me? [106d]
ALCIBIADES: I certainly should answer, that the subjects were such as I knew better than others who were present.
SOCRATES: On those subjects, then, which you happen to have knowledge in you are a good counsellor?
ALCIBIADES: Without doubt.
SOCRATES: Have you knowledge in those things only which you have either learnt from others, or found out yourself?
ALCIBIADES: What things other than those is it possible that I should have any knowledge in?
SOCRATES: And is it possible that ever you should have learnt, or have found out, any thing which you were not willing to learn, or to search out by yourself?
ALCIBIADES: It is not.
SOCRATES: And were you ever at any time willing to learn, or did you ever at any time seek to know, any things in which you imagined yourself to be already knowing?
ALCIBIADES: No, certainly. [106e]
SOCRATES: In those things which you now happen to know, was there once a time when you did not think yourself knowing?
ALCIBIADES: That must have been.
SOCRATES: Now, what the things are which you have learnt, I tolerably well know. But if you have been taught any thing without my knowledge, tell me what. To the best of my memory, you have been taught grammar, the gymnic exercises, and to play on stringed instruments of music: for on wind-instruments, besides, you refused to learn.10 This is the sum total of all your knowledge; unless you have learnt any thing else in some place or other, which I have not discovered: and I think, that neither by day nor yet by night did you ever stir out of doors but I was acquainted with all your motions.
ALCIBIADES: ’Tis true that I have not gone to any other masters than to such as taught the arts which you have mentioned. [107a]
SOCRATES: Well then. When the Athenians are consulting together about the grammar of their language, how to write or speak it with propriety, at these times is it that you will rise up to give them your advice?
ALCIBIADES: By Jove, not I.
SOCRATES: But is it then when they are in debate about striking chords on the lyre?
ALCIBIADES: By no means should I make a speech on such a subject.
SOCRATES: It cannot be on the subject of wrestling neither: because they never use to deliberate on this subject in their public assemblies.
ALCIBIADES: Certainly not.
SOCRATES: On what subject, then, of their consultations is it that you intend the giving them your advice? It cannot be when building is the subject.
ALCIBIADES: No, certainly. [107b]
SOCRATES: Because in this case a builder would give them better advice than you could.
SOCRATES: Nor yet is it when they consult together concerning divination.
ALCIBIADES: It is not.
SOCRATES: For a diviner would in this case be a better counsellor than you.
ALCIBIADES: Without doubt.
SOCRATES: And that, whether he was a tall or a short man;11 whether his person was handsome or deformed; and whether his family was noble or ignoble.
ALCIBIADES: How should it be otherwise?
SOCRATES: For to give good advice in any case whatever, belongs, I suppose, only to a person skilled in the subject, and not to a fine gentleman.
ALCIBIADES: Beyond all question.
SOCRATES: And whether the man who gives them his advice be rich or poor, it will make no difference to the Athenians, when they are consulting [107c] about the health of the city; but they will always inquire after a physician only to consult with.
ALCIBIADES: They will be right in so doing.
SOCRATES: Now, on what subject is it, when they are met in consultation together, that you will do right in rising up and giving them your counsel?
ALCIBIADES: ’Tis when they are in consultation, Socrates, about their own affairs.
SOCRATES: About increasing their navy, do you mean? what sort of vessels they should provide, and in what manner they should have them built?
ALCIBIADES: I meant no such thing, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Because you are ignorant, I presume, in the art of shipbuilding. Is not this the reason? Or is there any other, why you would choose in such a consultation to sit silent?
ALCIBIADES: That is the only reason. [107d]
SOCRATES: What affairs of their own then do you mean?
ALCIBIADES: I mean, Socrates, when they are deliberatii1g about the making war, or the making peace; or concerning any other affairs of state.
SOCRATES: Do you mean, when they are deliberating on these points, with whom ’tis proper for them to make peace, and with whom to engage in war, and in what way ’tis proper to carry on that war? Is this what you mean?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: And you will agree, that ’tis proper to make peace or war with those people with whom ’tis best so to do?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly. [107e]
SOCRATES: And at that time when ’tis best?
ALCIBIADES: By all means.
SOCRATES: And to continue it so long as ’tis best to continue it?
ALCIBIADES: To be sure.
SOCRATES: Now, suppose that the Athenians were deliberating about the exercise of wrestling, with what sort of persons it is proper to come to close quarters, and with whom to engage at arm’s length, and in what way, would you give the best counsel in this case, or would a master of the exercises?
ALCIBIADES: Such a master, certainly.
SOCRATES: Can you tell me now, what end such a master would have in his view, when he gave his counsel on these points, with whom it is proper to wrestle closely, and with whom not so? at what times it is proper, and in what manner? My meaning is to ask you these questions: Whether is it proper to wrestle closely with those persons with whom it is best so to wrestle, or is it not?
ALCIBIADES: It is. [108a]
SOCRATES: Whether as much also as is best?
ALCIBIADES: As much.
SOCRATES: Whether at those times too when ’tis best?
ALCIBIADES: Without doubt.
SOCRATES: But further: Ought not a singer sometimes, in singing, to touch his lute, and to move his feet?
ALCIBIADES: He ought.
SOCRATES: Ought he not to do so at those times when ’tis best so to do?
SOCRATES: And to continue the doing so as long as ’tis best to continue it?
ALCIBIADES: I agree.
SOCRATES: Well now. Since you agree with me that there is a best in both these actions, [108b] in fingering the lute whilst singing, and in the exercise of close wrestling, by what name call you that which is the best in fingering the lute? As that which is the best in wrestling I call gymnastical, what name now do you give to that which is best done in that other action?
ALCIBIADES: I do not apprehend your meaning.
SOCRATES: Try to copy after the pattern which I shall now give you. Supposing, then, that I had been asked this question, “In wrestling, how is that performed which is performed best?” I should answer, ’Tis performed in every respect rightly. Now, in wrestling, that performance is right which is according to the rules of art. Is it not?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: And the art, in this case, is it not gymnastic?
ALCIBIADES: Without dispute. [108c]
SOCRATES: I said, that that which is the best in wrestling is gymnastical.
ALCIBIADES: You did.
SOCRATES: And was it not well said?
ALCIBIADES: I think it was.
SOCRATES: Come then. Do you in like manner (for it would not ill become you likewise to discourse well) say, in the first place, What is the art, to which belong the playing on the harp, the singing, and the moving at the same time, rightly all; the whole of this art, by what name is it called? Are you not yet able to tell?
ALCIBIADES: Indeed I am not.
SOCRATES: Try in this way then. What goddesses are those who preside over this art?
ALCIBIADES: The muses mean you, Socrates? [108d]
SOCRATES: I do. Consider now, what name is given to their art—a name derived from them.
ALCIBIADES: I suppose you mean music.
SOCRATES: The very thing. What then is that which is performed rightly, according to this art? just as in the other case I told you, that whatever was performed rightly according to the rules of that other art, was gymnastical;12 in this case now, after the same manner,13 whatever is performed agreeably to the rules of this art; how do you say it must be performed?
ALCIBIADES: Musically, I think.
SOCRATES: You say well. Let us now proceed further; and tell me, what name you give to that which is best in making war; and what name to that which is best in making peace: [108e] just as, in the former cases, the best14 in one of them you called the more musical, in the other the more gymnastical. Try now in these cases likewise to name that which is the best.
ALCIBIADES: I find myself quite unable to tell what it is.
SOCRATES: ’Tis a shame to you that you are so. For, suppose you were speaking and giving your opinion concerning the superiority of one kind of food to another, and should say, that such or such a kind of food was the best at this season, and such or such a quantity of it; and suppose a man should thereupon question you thus, “What do you mean by the best, Alcibiades?” on these subjects you would be able to give him an answer, and to tell him, that by the best you meant the most wholesome; and this you would say, notwithstanding that you do not profess to be a physician. And yet, on a subject which you [109a] profess to have the knowledge of, and rise up to give your judgment and advice on, as if you had this knowledge, are you not ashamed, when you are questioned, as I think you are, on this very subject, to be unable to give an answer, and to tell what is that which is the best? And must not this inability appear to others shameful in you?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly it must.
SOCRATES: Consider thoughtfully now, and tell me, What is the end or aim of that which is done best in the making or the continuing of peace, and likewise in the going to war with those with whom it is proper?
ALCIBIADES: Well, I do consider; but cannot think of what it is.
SOCRATES: Know you not, when we go to war, what it is which both the parties accuse each other of during their military preparations, [109b] and what names they give to the causes of their quarrels?
ALCIBIADES: I do. They accuse each other of deceiving, or of offering violence, or of taking away some of their possessions.
SOCRATES: But observe: How do they say they have been thus treated? Try to tell me what difference there is in the manner of this treatment they give to each other.
ALCIBIADES: Do you mean, whether they thus treat each other justly or unjustly?
SOCRATES: This is the very difference I mean.
ALCIBIADES: These different manners of ill treatment differ totally and entirely.
SOCRATES: Well then. With whom would you counsel the Athenians to engage in war? whether with those who treat them ill unjustly, or with those who treat them as they deserve? [109c]
ALCIBIADES: A question, this, of very serious import. For, if any man should entertain a thought of the propriety of going to war with such as act uprightly, he would not dare to own it.
SOCRATES: Because it is not lawful, I suppose, to engage in such a war.
ALCIBIADES: By no means is it so, neither seems it to be beautiful.
SOCRATES: With a view therefore to these things,15 and to what is just, you will make your speeches to the people.
ALCIBIADES: There is a necessity for bringing my arguments from these topics.
SOCRATES: That best then, concerning which I just now asked you what it was,—the best on these subjects,—whether it is proper to go to war or not, with whom it is proper, and with whom not,—at what times it is proper, and when not,—does the best on these subjects appear to be any other thing than that which is the most agreeable to justice? or does it not?
ALCIBIADES: It appears to be no other thing. [109d]
SOCRATES: How is this, friend Alcibiades? Is it a secret to yourself, that you are ignorant in the science of justice? or else, Is it a secret to me, that you have learnt it, and have gone to some master, who has taught you to distinguish between what is the most agreeable to justice, and what is the most repugnant to it? If this which I last mentioned be the case, who is this master? Tell me; that I too may go and learn of him, through your recommendation.
ALCIBIADES: You banter, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Not so; by the guardian-god of friendship to both of us, you and me, whose deity [109e] I would least of all invoke for witness to a falsehood! If then you have any master who teaches you that science, let me know who he is.
ALCIBIADES: And what if I have not? Do you think that I could by no other means have attained the knowledge of what is just, and what is unjust?
SOCRATES: I think that you would, if you had discovered it by yourself.
ALCIBIADES: Are you then of opinion that I could not have discovered it by myself?
SOCRATES: I am entirely of opinion that you might, if ever you had sought for it.
ALCIBIADES: Do you presume, then, that I have never sought for it?
SOCRATES: I should presume that you had, if ever you had thought yourself ignorant of it.
ALCIBIADES: Was there not then a time when I so thought?16
SOCRATES: Well said. Can you tell me, then, at what time [110a] you did not imagine yourself to know what things are just, and what are unjust? For, come, let me ask you: Was it last year, when you inquired into these subjects, and did not imagine yourself already knowing in them? or did you at that time think that you had such knowledge? Answer truly now, that our argument may come to some conclusion.
ALCIBIADES: Well then. I did at that time presume myself to be knowing in those subjects.
SOCRATES: And in all the third year back from this present, in all the fourth too, and all the fifth, did you not presume of yourself the same?
ALCIBIADES: I did.
SOCRATES: And earlier than the time I mentioned last, you were but a boy.
SOCRATES: And in your days of boyhood I am well assured that you thought yourself knowing in those subjects.
ALCIBIADES: How are you so sure of that? [110b]
SOCRATES: Often in the schools, when you were a boy, and in other places too whenever you were playing at dice, or were a party in any other play, I have heard you talking about what things were just or unjust—not as if you had any doubts on those subjects, but very strenuously and boldly pronouncing, that 17such or such a one of your play-mates was a wicked boy, and a rogue, and was guilty of a piece of injustice. Is not all this true?
ALCIBIADES: Well. But what else was I to do, when any of them injured me?
SOCRATES: Right. But if you had happened to be ignorant of this very point, whether you were injured or not, would you say, “What in such a case was I to do?”18 [110c]
ALCIBIADES: But, by Jove, I was not ignorant of that point; for I clearly saw that I was injured.
SOCRATES: You thought yourself, it seems, therefore, when you were a boy, knowing in the science of what is just and what is unjust?
ALCIBIADES: I did so; and knowing in it I was too.
SOCRATES: At what time was it that you first discovered it? for certainly it was not at a time when you thought yourself knowing in it.
ALCIBIADES: That, ’tis clear, could not be.
SOCRATES: At what time then was it that you thought yourself ignorant in it? Consider: but that time you will never find.
ALCIBIADES: By Jove, Socrates, I am not able to tell when. [110d]
SOCRATES: You did not acquire that knowledge, then, by any discovery of your own?
ALCIBIADES: That does not at all appear to have been the case.
SOCRATES: And besides, you acknowledged but just before, that you did not acquire it by being taught. If then you neither discovered it of yourself, nor were taught it by any other person, how or whence have you this knowledge?
ALCIBIADES: Well. But I was wrong in my answers, when I supposed that I had found out that knowledge by myself.
SOCRATES: In what way then did you acquire it?
ALCIBIADES: I learnt it, I presume, in the same way in which others do.
SOCRATES: We are now come round again to the same question as before: From whom did you learn it? Inform me. [110e]
ALCIBIADES: From the people.
SOCRATES: To no good teachers have you recourse for the origin of your knowledge, in referring it to the people.
ALCIBIADES: Why so? Are not they capable of teaching?
SOCRATES: Not so much as what movements are proper, and what improper, to make in a game at tables. And yet the knowledge of these things is meaner and more inconsiderable, in my opinion, than the knowledge of what things are just and what are unjust. Do not you think so too?
ALCIBIADES: I do.
SOCRATES: Incapable, therefore, as they are of teaching meaner things, can they teach things higher and of more importance?
ALCIBIADES: I think they can. Nay, it is certain that they are capable of teaching many things of more importance than the movements in a game at tables.
SOCRATES: What things do you mean? [111a]
ALCIBIADES: Such as, for instance, to speak the Greek language: for I myself learnt it from them. Nor could I name any other teacher of that language that I ever had; but must refer my being able to speak it to those very persons who you say are no good teachers.
SOCRATES: Well, my noble sir: in this matter, indeed, the people are good teachers,, and as such may justly be recommended.
ALCIBIADES: Why particularly in this?
SOCRATES: Because in this they possess all the requisites necessary to every good teacher.
ALCIBIADES: What requisites do you mean?
SOCRATES: Do you not know, that those who are to teach any thing must in the first place have the knowledge of it themselves? Must they not? [111b]
ALCIBIADES: Without doubt.
SOCRATES: And must not all those who have the knowledge of any thing agree together on that subject, and not differ in their opinions of it?
SOCRATES: But where they differ among themselves in their opinions, would you say that they have, all of them, knowledge in those subjects?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly not.
SOCRATES: Of such things, then, how can they be good teachers?
ALCIBIADES: By no means can they.
SOCRATES: Well now. Do the people seem to you to differ among themselves about the meaning of the words stone and wood? Ask whom you will, [111c] are they not all agreed in the same opinion? And when they are bid to take up a stone, or a piece of wood, do they not all go to the same kind of things? And do they not all apprehend alike, what kind of things every other such word signifies? For I presume this is what you mean by knowledge of the Greek language: is it not?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: Now, on these subjects, as we said before, do not the people of our city agree among themselves? And among the several cities of Greece is there any difference of opinion? Do the same words, in different places signify different things?
ALCIBIADES: They do not. [111d]
SOCRATES: On these subjects, therefore, agreeably to our argument, the people should be good teachers.
ALCIBIADES: It is true.
SOCRATES: If then we had a mind to have any person instructed in this matter, we should do right in sending him, for such instruction amongst the multitude of the people?
ALCIBIADES: Quite right.
SOCRATES: But what if we had a mind to have that person taught, not only to know men from horses by the different words denoting them in the Greek language, but, beside this, to know what horses are fit for the race, and what are unfit? is the multitude able to teach this also?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly not.
SOCRATES: And you admit this to be a sufficient proof of their ignorance in this matter, [111e] and of their inability to teach, that they agree not in their opinions on this head?
ALCIBIADES: I do.
SOCRATES: And what if we would have him learn, not only by what word in our language men are distinguished from other things, but, further, to know what men are healthy and who are unhealthy? whether should we deem the multitude to be the proper teachers for him?
ALCIBIADES: By no means.
SOCRATES: And it would be an evidence to you of their being bad teachers on this subject, if you saw them disagreeing in their opinions?
ALCIBIADES: It would.
SOCRATES: And how is it now on the subject of justice? Do you find the multitude agreeing one with another, [112a] or even the same person always of the same mind, concerning either men or actions, who are the honest, or what is just?
ALCIBIADES: Less than on any other subject, by Jove, Socrates, are they agreed with regard to this.
SOCRATES: What? do you then think they differ on this subject more than upon any other?
ALCIBIADES: By far do they.
SOCRATES: You have never, I suppose, seen or heard of men, in any age, who contended for their several opinions concerning the wholesome and the unwholesome in food, with so much zeal as to fight and kill one another on that account?
SOCRATES: But concerning just and unjust in actions, that their disputes have carried them to such extremities, I am sure, [112b] if you have not seen, you have at least heard from many reports, and particularly from those of Homer; for you have heard both the Odyssey and the Iliad read to you.
ALCIBIADES: Thoroughly well, Socrates, am I versed in both.
SOCRATES: And is not the subject of both these poems the diversity of opinions with regard to what is just and what is unjust?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: And did not this diversity of opinions produce fighting and slaughter between the Greeks and Trojans, and between Ulysses and the wooers of Penelope? [112c]
SOCRATES: And I believe that the deaths of those Athenians, Lacedæmonians and Bœotians, who perished at Tanagra,19 and of those who afterwards died at Coronea,20 amongst whom was Clinias your father, were not owing to differences on any other subject than this, what was just and what unjust.
ALCIBIADES: You are in the right.
SOCRATES: Shall we say then that these people had knowledge in that subject on which [112d] they differed with so much vehemence, as in support of their different opinions to suffer from each other the utmost effects of hatred?
ALCIBIADES: It appears they had not.
SOCRATES: Do you not then refer to such a sort of teachers as you yourself acknowledge to be ignorant?
ALCIBIADES: I do, it seems.
SOCRATES: How therefore is it probable that you should have the knowledge to discern what is just from what is unjust, when your account of them is so vague, and when you appear neither to have been taught that knowledge by any other person, nor to have found it out yourself?
ALCIBIADES: According to what you say, ’tis not probable. [112e]
SOCRATES: Are you sensible that what you said last was not said fairly, Alcibiades?
ALCIBIADES: What was unfair?
SOCRATES: Your assertion that I said those things of you which were said.
ALCIBIADES: What? did not you say that I had not the knowledge to discern what was just from what was unjust?.
SOCRATES: Not I, indeed.
ALCIBIADES: Who was it then that said so? was it myself?
SOCRATES: It was.
ALCIBIADES: Make that appear.
SOCRATES: You will see it in this way.21 If I ask you concerning one and two, which is the greater number, you will say that two is.
ALCIBIADES: I shall.
SOCRATES: How much greater is it?
ALCIBIADES: Greater by one.
SOCRATES: Now whether of us is it who says that two is a greater number or more than one by one?
ALCIBIADES: It is I myself.
SOCRATES: Did not I ask the question, and did not you give an answer to it?
ALCIBIADES: True: it was so. [113a]
SOCRATES: On this subject, then, who appears to have made any assertion? Do I, who only asked a question? or do you, who gave the answer?
SOCRATES: And if I ask you how many letters compose the name of Socrates, and you tell me, which of us is it who declares how many?
SOCRATES: In a word, whenever any question is asked, and an answer to it is given, say, who is it that makes an assertion, the party that asks the question, or the party that gives the answer?
ALCIBIADES: The party that gives the answer, in my opinion, Socrates. [113b]
SOCRATES: Through the whole of our past discourse was not I the party that asked the questions?
ALCIBIADES: You were.
SOCRATES: And were not you the party that gave the answers?
ALCIBIADES: I was.
SOCRATES: Well then. Whether of us two made the assertions?
ALCIBIADES: From what I have admitted, Socrates, I myself appear to have been that person.
SOCRATES: In those assertions was it not said that Alcibiades, the fine son of Clinias, had not the knowledge to discern what was just and what was unjust, but imagined that he had; and that he was about going into the assembly to give the Athenians his counsel and advice upon subjects which he knew nothing of? Is not this true? [113c]
ALCIBIADES: It appears so to be.
SOCRATES: That which Euripides22 says may therefore well be applied to the condition you are now in, Alcibiades. You are in danger of being found to have heard all this which has been said of you from yourself, and not from me. For, not I, but you, was the assertor of it; and you lay the blame of it on me without reason.
ALCIBIADES: Indeed, Socrates, you are in the right.
SOCRATES: Mad therefore is the undertaking, my good sir, which you entertain thoughts of attempting, to teach others what you are ignorant of yourself from your having neglected to learn it. [113d]
ALCIBIADES: I believe, Socrates, that the Athenians, as well as other Grecian states, seldom deliberate in council about justice or injustice in any affair before them; because these things they presume obvious and plain to all men. Laying aside therefore the consideration of this point, they consider which way it will be most for their interest to take. For I suppose that justice and interest are not the same thing; seeing that many have found it their interest to have done things the most unjust, and that others have gained no advantage from having acted with honesty.
SOCRATES: Well. Suppose interest to be a thing ever so different from justice, [113e] do you imagine now that you know what is a man’s interest, and why this or that thing is so?
ALCIBIADES: What should hinder me, Socrates, from knowing it? Unless you will make a doubt of this too, by asking me, from whom I learned this knowledge, or how I discovered it myself.
SOCRATES: How strangely you deal with me in this?23 If you say any thing wrong, when ’tis possible to prove it wrong by the same arguments used in confuting what you before said amiss, you would have new matter introduced, and different arguments made use of, to prove you in the wrong again: as if the former proofs were worn out like old clothes, and you could no longer put them on, but one must bring you a fresh proof never used before. [114a] But without taking further notice of your evasions, I shall repeat the same question, and ask you from what learning you came to know what was a man’s interest, and who taught you this knowledge; and all the other questions asked before I ask you again, summing them up in one. It is evident now, that your answers will amount to the very same as they did before; and that you will not be able to show by what means you attained the knowledge of what is advantageous to a man; or conducive to his good; either how you found it out yourself, or from whom you learned it. However, seeing that you are squeamish, and decline the tasting of the same arguments again, I wave the inquiry into this point, whether you have or not the knowledge [114b] of what is the interest of the Athenians. But this other point, whether the same actions are just and advantageous; or whether what ’tis just to do, differs from what ’tis a man’s interest to do; why should not you prove, by putting questions to me, in the same manner as I did to you? or, if you had rather, make a discourse upon that subject wholly by yourself.
ALCIBIADES: But I know not if I should be able, Socrates, to make such a discourse to you.
SOCRATES: Why, my good friend, suppose me to be the assembly and the people. And, were you addressing your discourse to them, it would be proper for you to persuade every single man of them. Would it not?
ALCIBIADES: It would.
SOCRATES: Does it not belong, then, to the same person to be able to persuade one single man by himself [114c] and to persuade many men assembled together, in speaking on any subject with which he is well acquainted? as, for instance, a teacher of grammar is equally well able to persuade one man and many men, when letters are the subject of his discourse.
SOCRATES: And when numbers are the subject, would not the same person who persuades many, persuade one as well?
ALCIBIADES: He would.
SOCRATES: And must not this person be one who is well acquainted with numbers must he not be an arithmetician?
ALCIBIADES: Most certainly.
SOCRATES: And would not you also, in speaking on any subjects, if you are able to persuade many of the truth of what you say, be able to persuade a single one?
ALCIBIADES: ’Tis probable that I should.
SOCRATES: But these subjects it is plain must be such as you are well acquainted with.
SOCRATES: Is there any other difference, then, between a speaker [114d] in the assembly of the people and a speaker in such conversation as this of ours, than merely so much as this—the former endeavours to persuade a collection of many men—the latter to persuade men one by one?
ALCIBIADES: There appears to be no other.
SOCRATES: Come then. Since it apparently belongs to the same person to persuade a multitude and to persuade a single man, practice your skill on me, and undertake to prove to me that in some cases that which is just is not a man’s interest.
ALCIBIADES: You are very saucy, Socrates.
SOCRATES: And I am now going to be so saucy as to convince you of the truth of a position quite contrary to that which you decline the proving of to me.
ALCIBIADES: Begin then.
SOCRATES: Do you but answer to the questions which I shall put to you. [114e]
ALCIBIADES: Not so: but do you yourself say plainly what you have to say.
SOCRATES: Why so? Would you not choose to be entirely well persuaded of the truth of it, if it be true?
ALCIBIADES: By all means, certainly.
SOCRATES: And would you not, if you yourself were to assert it, have the most entire persuasion of its truth?
ALCIBIADES: I think so.
SOCRATES: Answer then to my questions: and if you do not hear from your own mouth, that to act justly is to act for one’s own advantage, believe no other person who asserts that position.
ALCIBIADES: I shall not: and I consent to answer your questions. For no harm I think will come to me that way. [115a]
SOCRATES: You think as if you had the spirit of divination. Tell me, then: Do you say that some just actions are advantageous to the man who performs them, and that some are not so?
ALCIBIADES: I do.
SOCRATES: And do you say also, that some just actions are beautiful, and that some are not so?
ALCIBIADES: What mean you by this question?
SOCRATES: Whether did you ever think that a man acted basely and yet justly at the same time?
ALCIBIADES: I never thought so.
SOCRATES: You think then that all actions which are just are also beautiful?
ALCIBIADES: I do.
SOCRATES: But what, as to actions which are beautiful? Whether do you think that all of these are good to the performer, or that some of them are so, and some not so?
ALCIBIADES: For my part, Socrates, I think that some beautiful actions are evil to the performer of them.
SOCRATES: And that some base actions are good to the performer?
ALCIBIADES: I do. [115b]
SOCRATES: Do you mean such actions as these?—Many men by aiding in battle some friend or near relation have been wounded mortally; whilst others, by withholding their aid when they ought to have given it, have come off safe and sound.
ALCIBIADES: A just instance of what I mean.
SOCRATES: That aid then of theirs you call beautiful with respect to their endeavouring to save those whom they ought to defend. Now such an action proceeds from fortitude, does it not?
ALCIBIADES: It does.
SOCRATES: But evil you call it also with respect to the wounds and death which it procured them, do you not?
ALCIBIADES: I do. [115c]
SOCRATES: And are not fortitude and death two different things?
SOCRATES: To aid a friend, therefore,24 is not both beautiful and evil in the same respect?
ALCIBIADES: It appears that ’tis not.
SOCRATES: Consider now whether it be not good in the same respect in which it is beautiful; as in this particular which we mentioned. For, with respect to fortitude, you agreed with me that ’twas beautiful and handsome to give such aid. This very thing then, fortitude, consider whether it be a good or an evil. And consider it in this way:—which kind of things would you choose to have your own, whether good things or evil things?
ALCIBIADES: Good things. [115d]
SOCRATES: And would you not choose the best things too?
ALCIBIADES: Most of all things.
SOCRATES: And would you not choose to part with them least of all?
SOCRATES: What say you then of fortitude? at what price would you choose to part with it?
ALCIBIADES: I would not accept of life, not I, to live a coward.
SOCRATES: You think, then, that cowardice is evil in the utmost degree?
ALCIBIADES: That do I.
SOCRATES: On a par, as it seems, with death.
ALCIBIADES: It is so.
SOCRATES: Are not life and fortitude the most of all things opposite to death and cowardice?
ALCIBIADES: They are. [115e]
SOCRATES: And would you choose to have those most of all things, and these least of all things?
SOCRATES: Is it because you deem those the best of all things, and these the worst?
ALCIBIADES: For this very reason.
SOCRATES: Viewing then the giving of aid in battle to such as are dear to us in that light in which it appears beautiful—viewing it with regard to the practice of that virtue which you acknowledge to be one of the best of things, you gave it the epithet of beautiful?
ALCIBIADES: It appears I did so.
SOCRATES: But with regard to its operating evil, the evil of death, you gave it the epithet of evil?
SOCRATES: Is it not then just and right to denominate every action thus? If, with regard to the evil which it operates, you call it evil, ought it not, [116a] with regard to the good which it operates, to be also called good?
ALCIBIADES: I think it ought.
SOCRATES: In the same respect, then, in which it is good, is it not beautiful? and in the same respect in which it is evil, is it not base?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: In saying, then, that the aiding of our friends in battle is an action beautiful indeed, but that yet ’tis evil, you say exactly the same thing as if you25 called it an action, good indeed, but yet evil.
ALCIBIADES: I think you are in the right, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Nothing therefore which is beautiful, so far as it is beautiful, is evil; nor is any thing which is base, so far as it is base, good. [116b]
ALCIBIADES: Evidently it is not.
SOCRATES: Further now consider it in this way:—whoever acts beautifully, does he not act well too?
ALCIBIADES: He does.
SOCRATES: And those who act well, are they not happy?
ALCIBIADES: Without doubt.
SOCRATES: And are they not happy by being possessed of good things?
ALCIBIADES: Most certainly.
SOCRATES: And are they not possessed of these good things by acting well and beautifully?
ALCIBIADES: They are.
SOCRATES: To act well, therefore, is in the rank of good things?
ALCIBIADES: Beyond a doubt.
SOCRATES: And is not acting well a beautiful thing also?
ALCIBIADES: It is. [116c]
SOCRATES: Again therefore we have found, that one and the same thing is both beautiful and good?
ALCIBIADES: We have.
SOCRATES: Whatever then we should find to be a beautiful thing,26 we shall find it to be a good thing too, according to this reasoning?
ALCIBIADES: It must be so.
SOCRATES: And what? are good things advantageous? or are they not?
ALCIBIADES: They are.
SOCRATES: Do you remember, now, what we agreed in concerning things which are just?
ALCIBIADES: I imagine that you mean this,—that those persons who do things which are just must of necessity do things which at the same time are beautiful.
SOCRATES: And did we not agree in this too,—that those who do things which are beautiful do things which are also good?
ALCIBIADES: We did. [116d]
SOCRATES: And good things, you say, are advantageous?
SOCRATES: Things therefore which are just, O Alcibiades! are things which are advantageous.
ALCIBIADES: It seems they are.
SOCRATES: Well now; are not you the person who asserts these things? and am not I the questioner concerning them?
ALCIBIADES: So it appears.
SOCRATES: Whoever then rises up to speak in any council, whether it be of Athenians or Peparethians, imagining that he discerns what is just and what is unjust, if he should say that he knows justice to be sometimes evil and detrimental, would you not laugh at his pretensions to knowledge? since you yourself are found to be the very person who asserts that [116e] the same things are both just and advantageous?
ALCIBIADES: Now, by the Gods, Socrates, for my part, I know not what to say to it; but am quite like a man distracted. For sometimes I am of one opinion, just while you are putting your questions to me, and presently after am of another.
SOCRATES: Are you ignorant now, my friend, what condition you are in?
ALCIBIADES: Entirely ignorant.
SOCRATES: Do you imagine, then, that if any person were to ask you, how many eyes you had, whether two or three,—or how many hands, whether two or four,—or any other such question,—you would sometimes answer one thing, and at other times another? or would you always give the same answer? [117a]
ALCIBIADES: I confess that I am now doubtful of myself; but I do believe that I should always give the same answer.
SOCRATES: And is not your knowledge of the subject the cause of that consistency there would be in your answers?
ALCIBIADES: I believe it is.
SOCRATES: When therefore you give contrary answers to one and the same question, without choosing to prevaricate, ’tis evident that you have no knowledge of the subject.
ALCIBIADES: Probably so.
SOCRATES: Now you say that, to questions concerning things just or unjust, beautiful or base, good or evil, advantageous or otherwise, you should answer sometimes one thing and sometimes another. Is it not then evident, that your ignorance in these subjects is the cause of this inconsistency of yours? [117b]
ALCIBIADES: It appears so to me myself.
SOCRATES: Is not this then the true state of the case? On every subject which a man has not the knowledge of, must not his soul be wavering in her opinions?
ALCIBIADES: Most undoubtedly.
SOCRATES: Well now. Do you know by what means you may mount up to heaven?
ALCIBIADES: By Jupiter, not I.
SOCRATES: Is your opinion doubtful and wavering on this subject?
ALCIBIADES: Not at all.
SOCRATES: Do you know the reason why it is not? or shall I tell it you?
ALCIBIADES: Do you tell me.
SOCRATES: ’Tis this, my friend: it is because you neither know nor imagine that you know the way up to heaven. [117c]
ALCIBIADES: How is that the reason? Explain yourself.
SOCRATES: Let you and I consider it together. Concerning any affairs which you are ignorant of, and are at the same time convinced that you are so, do you waver in your opinions? For instance, in the affair of dressing meats and making sauces, you are, I presume, well acquainted with your ignorance.27
ALCIBIADES: Perfectly well.
SOCRATES: Do you form any opinions then yourself on these affairs of cookery, and waver in those opinions? or do you leave those matters to such as are skilled in them?
ALCIBIADES: I do as you mentioned last.
SOCRATES: And what if you were in a ship under sail, would you form any opinion, [117d] whether the rudder ought to be turned toward the ship or from it, and be unsettled in that opinion for want of knowledge in the affair? or would you leave it to the pilot, and not trouble yourself about it?
ALCIBIADES: To the pilot I should leave it.
SOCRATES: Concerning affairs then which you are ignorant of, and are no stranger to your own ignorance in those respects, you are not wavering in your opinions?
ALCIBIADES: I believe I am not.
SOCRATES: Do you perceive28 that errors, committed in the doing of any thing, are all to be ascribed to this kind of ignorance in a man,—his imagining that he knows what he knows not?
ALCIBIADES: How do you mean?
SOCRATES: Whenever we undertake to act in any affair, it is only when we imagine we know what to do. [117e]
SOCRATES: And such as have no opinion of their own knowledge in the affair resign it up to others to act for them.
ALCIBIADES: How should they do otherwise?
SOCRATES: Ignorant persons of this kind live therefore without committing errors, because they give up the management of those affairs in which they are ignorant into the hands of others.
SOCRATES: What kind of persons, then, are those who err and act amiss? For certainly they are not such as know how to act.
ALCIBIADES: By no means.
SOCRATES: Since then they are neither the knowing, nor those of the ignorant [118a] who know that they are ignorant, are any other persons left than of that kind who are ignorant, but imagine themselves knowing?
ALCIBIADES: None other than these.
SOCRATES: This kind of ignorance, therefore, is the cause of wrong doings, and is the only kind which is culpable.
ALCIBIADES: Very true.
SOCRATES: And where it concerns things of greatest moment, is it not in these cases the most of any mischievous and shameful?
ALCIBIADES: By far the most so.29
SOCRATES: Well then. Can you name any things of greater moment than those which are honest, and beautiful, and good, and advantageous?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly none.
SOCRATES: Is it not on these subjects that you acknowledge yourself to waver in your opinions?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: And, if you are thus wavering, is it not evident from our past conclusions, [118b] not only that you are ignorant in subjects of the greatest moment, but that amidst this ignorance you imagine that you know them?
ALCIBIADES: I fear it is so.
SOCRATES: Fie upon it, Alcibiades! What a condition then are you in! a condition which I am loth to name: but however, since we are alone, it must be spoken out. You are involved, my good sir, in that kind of ignorance which is the most shameful, according to the result of our joint reasoning, and according to your own confession. From this kind of ignorance it is, that you are eager to engage in politics before you have learnt the elements of that science. Indeed, you are not the only person in this sad condition; for in the same state of ignorance are the numerous managers of our civil affairs, [118c] all of them, except perhaps Pericles, your guardian, and a few more.
ALCIBIADES: And, Socrates, to confirm this opinion of yours, Pericles is said to have become wise, not spontaneously or of himself: on the contrary, ’tis reported of him that he had had the advantage of enjoying the conversation of many wise men, particularly of Pythoclides a11d Anaxagoras:30 and even at this time, old as he is, he is intimate with Damon for this very purpose.
SOCRATES: But what? have you ever seen a man who was wise in any art whatever, and yet was unable to make another man wise in the same art? as, for instance, the master who taught you grammar was himself wise in that art; and in the same art he made you wise; as he also made every other person whom he undertook to teach. Did he not?
ALCIBIADES: He did. [118d]
SOCRATES: And you, who have learnt from him that kind of wisdom, would not you be able to teach it to another person?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly I should.
SOCRATES: And is not the same thing true of a music-master and of a master in the exercises?
ALCIBIADES: Perfectly so.
SOCRATES: For this undoubtedly is a fair proof of the knowledge of such as are knowing in any subject whatever, their being able to produce their scholars, and to show these to be knowing in the same.
ALCIBIADES: I think so too.
SOCRATES: Well then. Can you name to me any one whom Pericles has made a wise man? his own sons has he? to begin with them. [118e]
ALCIBIADES: But what if the sons of Pericles were silly fellows, Socrates?
SOCRATES: Clinias then, your brother?
ALCIBIADES: Why should you mention Clinias, a man out of his senses?
SOCRATES: Since Clinias then is out of his senses, and since the sons of Pericles were silly fellows, to what defect in your disposition shall we impute the little care taken by Pericles to improve you?
ALCIBIADES: I presume that I myself am in the fault that of not giving due attention to him. [119a]
SOCRATES: But name any person else, an Athenian or a foreigner, either a slave or a free man, who is indebted to the instructions of Pericles for becoming wiser than he was: as I can name to you those, who from the lessons of Zeno31 have improved in wisdom,—Pythodorus32 the son of Isolochus, and Callias33 the son of Calliades; each of whom, at the price of a hundred minæ,34 paid to Zeno, became eminent for wisdom.
ALCIBIADES: Now, by Jupiter, I cannot.
SOCRATES: Very well. What then do you think of doing about yourself whether to rest satisfied in the condition which you are now in, or to apply yourself to some means of improvement? [119b]
ALCIBIADES: Concerning this, Socrates, I would consult with you. For I apprehend what you have said, and admit the truth of it. Those who have the administration of the state, except a few of them, seem indeed to me too, not to have had a proper education.
SOCRATES: Well; and what conclusion do you draw from thence?
ALCIBIADES: This,—that if they, through their education, were well qualified to govern, a man who should undertake to enter the lists in contest with them, ought to come to the engagement duly prepared by discipline and exercise, as in other combats. But now, seeing that such persons as these, raw and undisciplined as they are, have attained to the management of state-affairs, what need is there for a man to exercise himself in such matters, or to give himself the trouble of acquiring knowledge in them? [119c] For I well know, that by dint of natural abilities I shall excel them by far, and get above them.
SOCRATES: Fie upon it, my fine young gentleman! What a declaration is this which you have made! how unworthy of your personal qualities, and of the other advantages you are possessed of!
ALCIBIADES: I should be glad, Socrates, to know why you think it unworthy of me, and in what respect.
SOCRATES: You offer an affront, not only to the regard which I have for you, but to the opinion too which you have of yourself.
ALCIBIADES: How so?
SOCRATES: In that you think of entering the lists to contend with these men here at Athens.
ALCIBIADES: Whom then am I to contend with?
SOCRATES: Does this question become a man to ask who thinks his mind to be great and elevated?35 [119d]
ALCIBIADES: How do you mean? Is it not with these very persons that I am to stand in competition?
SOCRATES: Let me ask you this question;—Whether, if you had any thoughts of commanding a ship of war, would you deem it sufficient for you to excel the mariners who were to be under your command, in the skill belonging to a commander? or, presuming yourself qualified with this due præ-excellence would you direct your eye to those only whom you are in fact to combat against,—and not, as you now do, to such as are in combat together with you? For to these men certainly36 you ought to be so much superior, that they should never be your associates in competition against any, but [119e] your inferior assistants in combating against the enemy;—if you really think of exhibiting any noble exploits worthy of yourself and of your country.
ALCIBIADES: And such a thought I assure you that I entertain.
SOCRATES: Is it then at all worthy of you, to be contented with being a better man than your fellow-soldiers,37—and not to have your eye directed toward the leaders of those whom you have to struggle with, studying how38 to become a better man than they, and employing yourself in exercise which are proper with a view to them?39 [120a]
ALCIBIADES: What persons do you mean, Socrates?
SOCRATES: Do you not know, that our city is every now and then at war with the Lacedæmonians, and with the Great40 King!
SOCRATES: If then you have it in your mind to be the leader of this city, would you not think rightly in thinking that you will have the kings of Sparta and of Persia to contend against?
ALCIBIADES: I suspect that you are in the right.
SOCRATES: And yet you, my good sir, on the contrary, are41 to fix your view on Midias, [120b] a feeder of quails,42 and on other such persons, who undertake to manage affairs of state, still wearing the badge43 of slavery (as the women44 would term it) in their souls, through their ignorance of the Muses; and not having yet thrown it off, but retaining their old sentiments, and manners still barbarian, are come to flatter the people, not to govern them. Ought you now to emulate these men whom I am speaking of, and disregard yourself? Ought you to neglect the acquiring of all such knowledge, as only is acquired through learning, when you have so great a combat to sustain? Or ought you to omit the exercising yourself in all such actions as [120c] are well performed only through practice? Should you not be furnished with all the qualifications requisite for the government of the state before you undertake to govern it?
ALCIBIADES: Indeed, Socrates, I believe you are in the right: but however, I imagine the commanders of the Spartan armies, and the Persian monarch, to be just such men as the others whom you have mentioned.
SOCRATES: But, my very good sir, consider this imagination of yours, what evils attend on it.
ALCIBIADES: In what respects?
SOCRATES: In the first place, What opinion concerning your antagonists do you think would engage you to take most care about yourself? [120d] whether the opinion of their being formidable, or the contrary?
ALCIBIADES: The opinion without doubt of their being formidable.
SOCRATES: And do you think it would do you any harm to take care about yourself?
ALCIBIADES: None at all; but on the contrary great good.
SOCRATES: The want of this great good, then, is one of the evils which attend on that imagination?
ALCIBIADES: It is true.
SOCRATES: Consider if there be not probably another too; and that is the falsity of it.
ALCIBIADES: How do you prove that?
ALCIBIADES: Undoubtedly it is.
SOCRATES: And is it not probable that such as have excellent dispositions from nature, if they meet with a suitable education, should become accomplished an virtue?
ALCIBIADES: Of necessity they must.
SOCRATES: Let us consider now, in comparing their advantages with our own, whether the kings of Sparta and of Persia seem to be descended from meaner ancestors than we are. Know we not that those are descendants of Hercules, and these of Achæmenes? that the begetting of Hercules is attributed to Jupiter,47 and the ancestry of Achæmenes to Perseus the son of Jupiter? [121a]
ALCIBIADES: And the family which I am of, o Socrates! descends from Eurysaces; and the descent of Eurysaces was from Jupiter.
SOCRATES: And the family which I am of, my noble Alcibiades! descends from Dædalus; and the descent of Dædalus was from Vulcan, the son of Jupiter. But the pedigree of those with whom we set ourselves in comparison, beginning from the persons who now reign, exhibits a race of kings, all of them sons of kings, in a direct line quite up to Jupiter; those whom I first mentioned, kings of Argos and Lacedæmon; the others, kings of Persia perpetually, and often of all Asia,48 as they are at present: whereas we are but private men, ourselves and our fathers. If you then [121b] were to boast of your ancestors, and pompously say that Salamis was the hereditary dominion of Eurysaces, or, to ascend higher in your ancestry, that Æacus governed in his native country Ægina,49 can you imagine how ridiculous you would appear in the eyes of Artaxerxes,50 the son of Xerxes? Consider besides, whether we may not be found inferior to those great men, not only in the pride of ancestry, but also in the care taken of our birth and breeding. Are you not sensible of the singular advantages which attend the progeny of the Spartan kings in this respect, that their wives have a guard of state appointed for them by the Ephori;51 to the end that no king of theirs may be the issue of stolen embraces, [121c] or have for his real father any other man than a descendant of Hercules?52 And as to the Persian king, so greatly is he our superior with regard to this point, that none of his subjects entertain the least suspicion of his having any other father than the king his predecessor. The consort therefore of the king of Persia is under no restraint but that of her own dread of the evil consequences, should she dishonour the king’s bed. Further, when the king’s eldest son, the heir apparent to the crown, is born, all the king’s subjects in the city of his residence keep that day an original feast-day: and from thenceforward the anniversary of that day is celebrated with sacrifices and feasts by all Asia. But when we came first into the world, alas, Alcibiades! our very neighbours, as the comic poet53 says, [121d] little knew what happened. After this the child is brought up, not by some insignificant nurse, but by the best54 eunuchs about the king’s person. And these have it in their charge to take care of the royal infant in every respect, but especially to contrive the means of his becoming as handsome as possible in his person, by so fashioning his pliant limbs, and giving such a direction to their growth, that they may be straight: and for executing this office well they are highly honoured. [121e] When the young princes have attained the age of seven years, they are provided with horses and with riding-masters, and are initiated in the exercise of hunting. At fourteen years of age they are put into the hands of those who are called the royal preceptors. And these are chosen out from such as are deemed the most excellent of the Persians, men of mature age, four in number; excelling severally in wisdom, justice, temperance, [122a] and fortitude. By the first of these they are taught the magic55 of Zoroaster after56 the son of Oromazes [Ormazd],57 by which magic is meant the worship of the Gods: and the same person instructs them likewise in the art of government. He who excels in the science of justice teaches them to follow truth in every part of their conduct throughout life. The person who excels in temperance enures the young prince not to be governed by sensual pleasure of any kind, that he may acquire the habits of a free man, and of a real king; by governing first all his own appetites, instead of being their slave. And the fourth, he who excels in fortitude forms his royal pupil to be fearless and intrepid; for that his mind, under the power of fear, would be a slave. But, [122b] Alcibiades, for your preceptor Pericles appointed one of his domestics, too old to be fit for any other service, Zopyrus of Thrace. I would recount to you the other articles of the breeding and instruction given to your antagonists, if the narration would not be too long; and besides this,, the articles already mentioned are sufficient indications of those others which they infer and draw along with them. But your birth, Alcibiades, your breeding and institution, or any other circumstances at tending you, scarce any one of the Athenians is at all solicitous about, unless there be some man who happens to have an especial regard for you. Further; if you would consider the treasures [122c] of the Persian kings, the sumptuous furniture of their palaces and tables, their wardrobes of apparel, the long trains of their garments, and the fragrancy of their unguents, their numerous retinue of attendants, and the rest of their magnificence, in comparing all this with what you have of the same kind yourself, you would evidently perceive how much you fall short of them, and would be ashamed at the comparison. If, on the other hand, you would consider the Lacedæmonians, their sobriety and modesty, how simple their way of living, and how easily they are satisfied, their magnanimity and observance of order, their manly endurance of pain and love of labour, their emulation to excel, and their love of honour, you would think yourself a child [122d] to them in all these excellencies. Besides this, if you make riches any part of your consideration, and in this respect imagine yourself a person of consequence, let us not pass over this point neither unexamined; if by any means you can be made sensible in what rank you stand. If you choose then to consider the Lacedæmonians with regard to wealth, you will find that what we have here in Attica falls far short of theirs. For the lands which they possess in their own country, and in Messenia, are such as that no person here would dispute their superiority in this respect, whether he considers the quantity or the value of those lands, the number of their other slaves, besides such as the Helotes,58 or the number of their horses, [122e] and other cattle in the pasture-grounds of Messenia. But, setting aside all this, you will find that, as to gold and silver, there is not so much amongst all the Grecians as there is amongst the Lacedæmonians in private hands. For gold and silver have now for many generations been flowing into them from all parts of Greece, and often too from foreign countries; but there is no reflux any way.59 That therefore which the fox said to the lion in a fable of Æsop’s, [123a] may justly be applied to them; the footsteps of money coming into Lacedæmon are easy to be discovered, as being all turned towards it; but the tracks of money going out of it are no where to be discerned.60 Thus it may easily be conceived, that of all the Grecians the richest in gold and silver are the Lacedæmonians, and that of all the Lacedæmonians the richest is their king. For of such comings-in a larger share, and oftener, is received by kings61 than by other men. [123b] And besides this,62 the taxes paid by the Lacedæmonians to their kings bring them in a large revenue. But whatever wealth the Lacedæmonians have, though great if compared with that of any other Grecians, yet in comparison with the riches of the Persians, and especially of their king, ’tis nothing. For I once heard a man of credit, who had been at the capital city of Persia, say, that in going up to it, he travelled almost a day’s journey through a large and fertile territory, which the inhabitants of it called the Queen’s Girdle;63 that there was another extensive tract of land called the Queen’s Veil; [123c] and that many other fair and fruitful countries were appropriated to provide the rest of the queen’s apparel;64 each of those countries having its name from that part of the apparel which the revenue of it furnished. So that, were any person to tell the queen-mother, Amastris, the consort formerly of Xerxes, that the son of Dinomache had it in his head to lead an army against her son; and were she told at the same time that Dinomache’s whole attire might be worth perhaps fifty minæ;65 supposing it to be of the most costly kind;66 and that this son of hers had land in the district of Erchia,67 containing not so much as three hundred acres;68 she I suppose would wonder in what kind of things this [123d] Alcibiades could place so much confidence as to think of contending with Artaxerxes. And I imagine that she would say, “it is impossible that this man should undertake such an affair with any other confidence than what he places in the prudence and skill which he is master of: for that the Grecians have nothing else worthy of account.” Because if she was to hear further, that this same Alcibiades in the first place had not completed the twentieth year of his age; in the next place that he was utterly uninstructed; and besides this, that, when a friend of his advised him first to acquire the knowledge, the prudence, and the habits, necessary for the execution [123e] of his designs, before he offered to attack the king, he refused to hearken to this advice, and said, that even in his present condition he was prepared sufficiently; I believe she would be astonished, and would ask, “What kind of a thing it could be then in which the youth put his confidence?” Upon this, were we to tell her, “In his handsome and fine person, in his birth and family, in his riches, and in the natural faculties of his mind,” she would think us, Alcibiades, out of our senses, when she reflected on all the advantages which her son enjoyed of the same kinds. No less do I imagine [124a] that Lampido,69 daughter of Leotychidas, wife of Archidamus, and mother of Agis, who, all of them in their turns, succeeded to the crown of Sparta, she too would wonder, in reflecting on their greatness, were she told, that you had taken it into your head to make war against her son, so ill instructed as you are. And now do you not think it shameful, if the wives of our enemies consider more prudently for us than we do for ourselves, what sort of persons we ought to be before we venture to attack such enemies? Hearken therefore, my good sir, to the advice which [124b] I give you, in agreement with the Delphic inscription, KNOW THYSELF: since your antagonists are to be, not those whom you imagine, but these whom I have told you of: and these you never can excel in any other point than skill and application; in which articles if you are found deficient, you will fail of that reputation and renown, as well with Grecians as Barbarians, which I think you long for with more ardour than any other man does for whatever is the object of his wishes.
ALCIBIADES: Can you teach me then, O Socrates, what sort of application I ought to use? for you seem to be entirely right in all which you have spoken.
SOCRATES: Something I have indeed to say upon that subject. But let us enter into a joint consultation, you and I, about the means of becoming, [124c] both of us, better men. For when I say, there is a necessity for instruction, I mean it of myself as well as of you: since only one difference there is between you and me.
ALCIBIADES: What is that?
SOCRATES: He who is my guardian is better and wiser than Pericles, who is yours.
ALCIBIADES: And who is yours, O Socrates?
SOCRATES: A GOD, O Alcibiades! he who permitted me not before this day to enter into any discourse with you: he it is, on whose dictates to me I rely, when I am bold to say, that you will acquire the renown you long for, by no other means than through me. [124d]
ALCIBIADES: You are in jest, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Perhaps so: but I speak the truth however in good earnest when I say that we stand in need of instruction, or rather, that all men want it; but that you and I have very especial need of it.
ALCIBIADES: In saying that I have need of it, you are not mistaken.
SOCRATES: Neither am I, in saying that I myself have.
ALCIBIADES: What then must we do?
SOCRATES: We must not despair, nor give ourselves up to indolence, my friend.
ALCIBIADES: By no means, Socrates, does it become us so to do.
SOCRATES: Indeed it does not. We must therefore consider of the affair, you and I together. Now then answer to my questions. [124e] We profess to be desirous of becoming as excellent as possible: do we not?
ALCIBIADES: We do.
SOCRATES: In what kind of excellence?
ALCIBIADES: In that certainly which belongs to men of merit.
SOCRATES: Of merit in what respect?
ALCIBIADES: In the management of business and affairs, undoubtedly.
SOCRATES: But what business do you mean? The business of a jockey?
ALCIBIADES: Clearly not.
SOCRATES: For then we should go for instruction to those who understand the management of horses.
ALCIBIADES: Certainly we should.
SOCRATES: Do you then mean of a mariner?
ALCIBIADES: I do not.
SOCRATES: For in that case we should apply to those who understand navigation.
ALCIBIADES: Certainly so.
SOCRATES: But what business or affairs then? and by what sort of men are these affairs managed?
ALCIBIADES: I mean such affairs as are managed by men of honour and merit amongst the Athenians. [125a]
SOCRATES: Men of honour and merit do you call such as have understanding, or such as are void of understanding?
ALCIBIADES: Such as have understanding.
SOCRATES: In whatever business a man has understanding, in that has he not merit?
ALCIBIADES: He has.
SOCRATES: And in whatever business he is void of understanding, is he not in that void of merit?
ALCIBIADES: Without doubt.
SOCRATES: Whether hath a shoemaker understanding in the business of making shoes?
ALCIBIADES: He certainly has.
SOCRATES: In this respect therefore he has merit.
ALCIBIADES: He has.
SOCRATES: Well; but is not a shoemaker void of understanding in the business of making clothes?
ALCIBIADES: No doubt of it. [125b]
SOCRATES: In this respect therefore he is void of merit.
ALCIBIADES: He is so.
SOCRATES: The same man therefore, according to this account, is at the same time void of merit and possessed of merit.
ALCIBIADES: It appears so.
SOCRATES: Would you say, then, that men possessed of merit are at the same time void of merit?
ALCIBIADES: That cannot be.
SOCRATES: What kind of men then do you mean by the men of merit?
ALCIBIADES: I mean such as have abilities to govern at Athens.
SOCRATES: Not to govern horses, I presume.
ALCIBIADES: No, certainly.
SOCRATES: But to govern men.
ALCIBIADES: That is my meaning.
SOCRATES: But what men do you mean? Men who are sick?
ALCIBIADES: I do not mean these.
SOCRATES: Men then who are going a voyage?
ALCIBIADES: I mean not such men.
SOCRATES: Men then who are gathering the harvest?
ALCIBIADES: Nor such neither. [125c]
SOCRATES: But men who do nothing do you mean? or men who do something?
ALCIBIADES: Men who do something.
SOCRATES: Who do what? try if you can make me sensible of your precise meaning?
ALCIBIADES: Well then. I mean men who have commerce one with another,70 and make use of one another’s aid and assistance in that kind of life which we lead in cities.
SOCRATES: You speak then of such as have abilities to govern men, who make use of other men to aid and assist them.
ALCIBIADES: I do.
SOCRATES: Do you mean the governing of men who make use of mariners in the rowing of galleys, and give them the proper orders?
ALCIBIADES: I mean no such thing.
SOCRATES: For ability to govern such men belongs to the commander of a galley.
SOCRATES: Do you then mean the governing of men who are musicians, [125d] and lead the song to other men, making use of chorus-singers and dancers?
ALCIBIADES: I mean not this neither.
SOCRATES: For this skill belongs to the master of the whole choir.
SOCRATES: In speaking then of ability to govern men who make use of other men, what kind of use do you mean? or in what way?
ALCIBIADES: Fellow-citizens, I mean, partakers of the same polity, and engaged in mutual commerce for mutual help and benefit. I speak of ability to govern these.
SOCRATES: What art then is that which gives this ability? as if I were to ask you, on the subject just now mentioned—the knowing how to govern men embarked in the same voyage—What art is it that gives this knowledge?
ALCIBIADES: The art of commanding ships. [125e]
SOCRATES: And what science is that which gives the power of governing those others whom we mentioned,—those who have parts in the same song?
ALCIBIADES: That which belongs, as just now you said, to the master of the whole choir.
SOCRATES: And by what name do you call that science which gives ability to govern those who partake of the same polity?
ALCIBIADES: Prudence I call it for my part, Socrates.
SOCRATES: What? do you think then that want of prudence is proper for the commander of a ship?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly not so.
SOCRATES: But rather that prudence is. [126a]
ALCIBIADES: I think it is, so far as it regards the safety of those who are sailing in the ship.
SOCRATES: It is well said: and that other science, that which you call prudence, what end does that regard?
ALCIBIADES: The good government and safety of the commonwealth.
SOCRATES: And what is it which the commonwealth enjoys when it is governed best and preserved in safety? and what is it from which it is then preserved? as, if you were to ask me this question, What is it which the body enjoys when it is best: taken care of, and preserved in safety? and from what is it then preserved? I would say that then it enjoys health, and is preserved from disease. Are not you of the same opinion? [126b]
ALCIBIADES: I am.
SOCRATES: And, if you were to ask me further, What do the eyes enjoy when the best care is taken of them? and from what are they then preserved I would answer in like manner as before, that they enjoyed their sight, and were preserved from blindness. So likewise of the ears; when they are preserved from deafness, and have their hearing perfect, they are then in their best condition, and are taken the best care of.
SOCRATES: Well, now; what does the commonwealth enjoy and from what is it preserved, when ’tis in its best condition, has the best care taken of it, and is best preserved? [126c]
ALCIBIADES: It seems to me, Socrates, that the members of it then enjoy mutual amity, and are preserved from enmity and factions.
SOCRATES: By amity do you mean their being of the same mind, or of different minds?
ALCIBIADES: Their being of the same mind.
SOCRATES: Now through what science is it that different civil states are of the same mind concerning numbers?
ALCIBIADES: Through the science of arithmetic.
SOCRATES: Well; and is it not through that very science that private persons are of the same mind one with another?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: And that any person too, by himself, continues always in the same mind, is it not through his possessing that science?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: And through what science is it that a single individual is always of the same mind [126d] concerning a span and a cubit, whether of the two is the greater measure? is it not through the science of mensuration?
ALCIBIADES: Without doubt.
SOCRATES: And is it not so too between different private persons and civil states?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: And how concerning weights? does not the same hold true in this case?
ALCIBIADES: I agree it does.
SOCRATES: But now the sameness of mind which you speak of, what is that? What is the subject-matter of it? and through what science is it procured? I ask you likewise whether the same science which procures it for the public procures it no less for private persons; and whether it operates that effect in a man considered by himself as well as between one man and an other.
ALCIBIADES: Probably it does.
SOCRATES: What science or art then is it? Do not labour for an answer, [126e] but speak readily what you think.
ALCIBIADES: I think it to be such an amity and sameness of mind, that which we are speaking of, as there is between a father and a mother in loving their child, and as there is between brother and brother, and between man and wife.
SOCRATES: Do you then think it possible, Alcibiades, for a man to be of the same mind with his wife on the subject of weaving, when he is ignorant and she is knowing in the art?
ALCIBIADES: By no means.
SOCRATES: Nor ought he neither. For ’tis a piece of knowledge belonging only to women.
ALCIBIADES: Certainly. [127a]
SOCRATES: Well; and can a woman be of the same mind with her husband on the subject of fighting in battle among the infantry, when she has never learnt the art?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly she cannot.
SOCRATES: For the knowledge of this you would perhaps say belonged only to men.
ALCIBIADES: I should so.
SOCRATES: Some pieces of knowledge, therefore, properly belong to women; others to men according to your account.
ALCIBIADES: No doubt can be made of it.
SOCRATES: On those subjects therefore which are not common to both the sexes there is no sameness of mind, between husbands and their wives.
ALCIBIADES: There is not any.
SOCRATES: Neither then is there any friendship; if friendship consists in sameness of mind.
ALCIBIADES: It appears there is not.
SOCRATES: So far therefore as women are attentive to their own business they are not beloved by their husbands. [127b]
ALCIBIADES: It seems they are not.
SOCRATES: Neither are men beloved by their wives,—so far as their minds are engaged in their own business.
ALCIBIADES: It seems they are not.
SOCRATES: Neither then do citizens live well71 together in cities, when each of them minds only his own business.
ALCIBIADES: Nay, Socrates; for my part I imagine that they do,—so far as they are thus employed.
SOCRATES: How say you? What, without friendship between them, by means of which we said that civil states were in a happy condition, and without which we said they could not flourish?
ALCIBIADES: But it seems to me that friendship is on this very account produced between them, because every one gives his whole attention to his own business. [127c]
SOCRATES: It did not seem so to you just now. But how do you explain at present what you said,—that friendship was produced by sameness of mind? Whether is it possible that fellow-citizens can be all of the same mind on subjects in which some of them are knowing, and others ignorant?
ALCIBIADES: It is not possible.
SOCRATES: And do they do their duty, and act as they ought, or not, when each of them attends to his own business?
ALCIBIADES: As they ought, undoubtedly.
SOCRATES: When the citizens then of any city act as they ought, and all of them do their duty, is not friendship produced between them?
ALCIBIADES: It must be so I think, Socrates.
SOCRATES: What kind of friendship, or sameness of mind do you then mean, [127d] in the procuring of which you say that wisdom and prudence are requisite to make us men of virtue and merit? For I can neither learn from you what it is, nor what objects it regards. But sometimes it seems to regard the same objects, and sometimes not, according to your account of it.
ALCIBIADES: Now by the Gods, Socrates, I know not what I mean myself. But am in danger of appearing to have been, of a long time, in a shameful state of mind, without being sensible of it.
SOCRATES: Now therefore you ought to take courage. For if fifty years of your life had elapsed [127e] before you had discovered the real state of your mind, an application of it to the care of yourself would have been a difficult task for you. But you are now at the very time of life in which such a discovery should be made, to be of any advantage to you.
ALCIBIADES: What then am I to do, Socrates, now that I am made sensible of my condition?
SOCRATES: Only to answer to the questions I shall put to you, Alcibiades. And if you will so do, you and I, by the favour of God, if any credit may be given to a prophecy of mine, shall both of us be the better for it.
ALCIBIADES: Your prophecy shall be accomplished, as far as the accomplishment depends on my answering to your questions.
SOCRATES: Come on then. What is it to take care of oneself? [128a] That we may not falsely imagine, as we often do, that we are taking care of ourselves, and know not that all the while we are otherwise employed. And when is it that a man is taking that care? Whether when he is taking care of what appertains to him, is he then taking care of himself?
ALCIBIADES: For my part I must own I think so.
SOCRATES: And when is it, think you, that a man is taking care of his feet? whether is it then when he is taking care of the things appertaining to his feet?
ALCIBIADES: I do not apprehend your meaning.
SOCRATES: Do you acknowledge something to be appertaining to the hand,—a ring, for instance? Or72 does it appertain to any other part of the human body than a finger?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly not.
SOCRATES: And does not a shoe appertain to the foot in like manner?
ALCIBIADES: It does. [128b]
SOCRATES: Whether then at the time of our taking care of our shoes are we taking care immediately of our feet?
ALCIBIADES: I do not quite apprehend you, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Do you acknowledge that whatever be the subject of our care, a right care of it may be taken?
ALCIBIADES: I do.
SOCRATES: I ask you then, whether you think that a man takes right care of whatever is the subject of his care, when he improves it and makes it better?
ALCIBIADES: I answer Yes.
SOCRATES: What art now is that by which our shoes are improved and made better?
ALCIBIADES: The shoemaker’s art.
SOCRATES: By the shoemaker’s art therefore it is that we take a right care of our shoes. [128c]
SOCRATES: And is it also by the shoemaker’s art that we take a right care of our feet? or is it by that art by which we improve our feet and make them better?
ALCIBIADES: It is by this art.
SOCRATES: And do we not improve and make better our feet by the same art by which we improve and make better the rest of our body?
ALCIBIADES: I believe we do.
SOCRATES: And is not this the gymnastic art?
SOCRATES: By the gymnastic art therefore we take care of the foot, and by the shoemaker’s art we take care of what is appertinent to the foot.
ALCIBIADES: Exactly so.
SOCRATES: And in like manner by the gymnastic art we take care of our hands, and by the art of engraving rings we take care of what is appertinent to the hand.
SOCRATES: By the gymnastic art also we take care of our bodies; but ’tis by the weaver’s art [128d] and some others that we take care of things appertinent to the body.
ALCIBIADES: I agree with you entirely.
SOCRATES: By one kind of knowledge therefore, we take care of things themselves, and by a different kind of knowledge we take care of things only appertinent to those things which are the principal.
ALCIBIADES: It appears so.
SOCRATES: You are not therefore taking care of yourself when you are taking care only of the appertinences to yourself.
ALCIBIADES: At that time ’tis very true I am not.
SOCRATES: For one and the same art, it seems, doth not take care of a thing itself, and of the appertinences to that thing besides.
ALCIBIADES: It appears to be not the same art.
SOCRATES: Now then, by what kind of art might we take care of ourselves?
ALCIBIADES: I have nothing to answer to this question. [128e]
SOCRATES: So much, however, we are agreed in, that it is not an art by which we improve or better any thing which is ours; but an art by which we improve and better our very selves.
ALCIBIADES: I acknowledge it.
SOCRATES: Could we ever know what art would improve or amend a shoe, if we knew not what a shoe was?
SOCRATES: Neither could we know what art would make better rings for the finger, if ignorant what a ring for the finger was.
SOCRATES: Well; and can we ever know what art would improve or make a man’s self better, so long as we are ignorant of what we ourselves are? [129a]
SOCRATES: Let me ask you, then, whether it happens to be an easy thing to know oneself; and whether he was some person of mean attainments in knowledge, he who put up this inscription in the temple at Pytho:73 or is it a piece of knowledge difficult to be attained and not obvious to every one?
ALCIBIADES: To me, Socrates, it has often seemed easy and obvious to every one, and often too, at other times, a thing of the greatest difficulty.
SOCRATES: But whether in itself it be an easy thing or not, with respect to us, Alcibiades, the state of the case is this:—had we attained to that piece of knowledge, we should perhaps know what it is to take care of ourselves; but never can we know this so long as we remain ignorant of that.
ALCIBIADES: These are truths which I acknowledge. [129b]
SOCRATES: Come then. By what means might it be found what is the very self of every thing? for so we might perhaps find what we ourselves are; but so long as we continue in the dark as to that point, it will be no way possible to know ourselves.
ALCIBIADES: You are certainly in the right.
SOCRATES: Attend now, I conjure you in the name of Jupiter: With whom is it that you are at this present time discoursing? Is it not74 with me?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: And am not I discoursing with you?
ALCIBIADES: You are.
SOCRATES: It is Socrates then, who is discoursing and arguing.
ALCIBIADES: Quite true.
SOCRATES: And Alcibiades is attentive to his arguments.
ALCIBIADES: He is.
SOCRATES: Is it not by reason that Socrates thus argues in discourse? [129c]
SOCRATES: And is not to argue in discourse the same thing as to reason?
ALCIBIADES: Quite the same.
SOCRATES: But is not the person who uses a thing, different from the thing which he uses?
ALCIBIADES: How do you mean?
SOCRATES: As a shoemaker, for instance, cuts his leather with the sheers, and the paring knife, and other tools.
ALCIBIADES: Well; he does so.
SOCRATES: Is not then the shoemaker, who cuts the leather and uses those tools in cutting it, different from the tools which he uses?
ALCIBIADES: Without doubt.
SOCRATES: Are not, in like manner, the instruments on which a musician plays, different things from the musician himself?
SOCRATES: It was in this sense that just now I asked you whether you thought that, in all cases, the person who [129d] used a thing was different from the thing which he used.
ALCIBIADES: I think he is.
SOCRATES: Now then, to resume the instance of the shoemaker; what say we? does he cut the leather with his tools only, or also with his hands?
ALCIBIADES: With his hands also.
SOCRATES: He therefore uses also these.
ALCIBIADES: He does.
SOCRATES: And does he not use his eyes also when he is cutting the leather?
ALCIBIADES: He does.
SOCRATES: And we are agreed, that the person who makes use of any things is different from the things which he makes use of.
ALCIBIADES: We are.
SOCRATES: The shoemaker then, and the musician, are different from [129e] the hands and eyes with which they perform their operations.
ALCIBIADES: It is apparent.
SOCRATES: And does not a man use also his whole body?
ALCIBIADES: Most certainly.
SOCRATES: Now the user is different from the thing used.
SOCRATES: A man therefore is a being different from his body.
ALCIBIADES: It seems so.
SOCRATES: What sort of being then is man?
ALCIBIADES: I know not.
SOCRATES: But you know that man is some being who makes use of the body.
ALCIBIADES: True. [130a]
SOCRATES: Does any being make use of the body other than the soul?
ALCIBIADES: None other.
SOCRATES: And does it not so do by governing the body?
ALCIBIADES: It does.
SOCRATES: Further. I suppose that no man would ever think otherwise than this.
ALCIBIADES: Than what?
SOCRATES: That a man himself was one of these three things.
ALCIBIADES: What three things?
SOCRATES: Soul, or body or a compound of them both, constituting one whole.
ALCIBIADES: What besides could be imagined?
SOCRATES: Now we agreed that the being which governs the body is the man. [130b]
ALCIBIADES: We did.
SOCRATES: What being then is the man? Doth the body itself govern itself?
ALCIBIADES: By no means.
SOCRATES: For the body we said was governed.
SOCRATES: The body then cannot be that being which we are in search of.
ALCIBIADES: It seems not.
SOCRATES: But whether does the compound being govern the body? and whether is this the man?
ALCIBIADES: Perhaps it is.
SOCRATES: Least of any of the three can this be so. For of two parties, one of which is the party governed, there is no possibility that both of them should govern jointly.
ALCIBIADES: Right. [130c]
SOCRATES: Since then neither the body, nor the compound of soul and body together, is the man, it remains, I think, either that a man’s self is nothing at all, or if it be any thing, it must be concluded that the man is no other thing than soul.
ALCIBIADES: Clearly so.
SOCRATES: Needs it then to be proved to you still more clearly, that the soul75 is the very man?
ALCIBIADES: It needs not, by Jupiter: for the proofs already brought seem to me sufficient.
SOCRATES: If it be proved tolerably well, though not accurately, ’tis sufficient for us. For we shall then perhaps, and not before, have an accurate knowledge of man’s self, [130d] when we shall have discovered what we just now passed by as a matter which required much consideration.
ALCIBIADES: What is that?
SOCRATES: That of which was said some such thing as this,—that in the first place we should consider what is self itself: whereas, instead of this, we have been considering what is the proper self of every man. And this indeed for our purpose will perhaps suffice. For we could by no means ever say that any thing was more peculiarly and properly oneself, than is the soul.
ALCIBIADES: Certainly, we could not.
SOCRATES: May we not then fairly thus determine,—that we are converting one with another, by means of reason, you and I, soul with soul?
ALCIBIADES: Quite fairly. [130e]
SOCRATES: This therefore was our meaning when we said a little before, that Socrates discoursed with Alcibiades, making use of reason: we meant, it seems, that he directed his words and arguments, not to your outward person, but to Alcibiades himself, that is to the soul.
ALCIBIADES: It seems so to me too.
SOCRATES: He therefore enjoins a man to recognize the soul, he who gives him this injunction,—to know himself. [131a]
ALCIBIADES: That is probably his meaning.
SOCRATES: Whoever then has a knowledge only of his body,76 has indeed attained the knowledge of what is his, but not the knowledge of himself.
ALCIBIADES: Just so.
SOCRATES: None therefore of the physicians, so far as he is only a physician, knows himself: neither does any master of the exercises, so far as he is such a master and nothing more.
ALCIBIADES: It seems they do not.
SOCRATES: Far from knowing themselves then are husbandmen, and other artificers or workmen. For such men as these are ignorant it seems of the things which are theirs, and knowing only in subjects still more remote, the mere appertinences to those things which are theirs, so far as their several arts lead them. For they are acquainted [131b] only with things appertinent to the body, to the culture and service of which body these things administer.
ALCIBIADES: What you say is true.
SOCRATES: If therefore wisdom consist in the knowledge of oneself, none of these artificers are wise men by their skill in their respective arts.
ALCIBIADES: I think they are not.
SOCRATES: On this account it is that these arts seem mechanical and mean, and not the learning fit for a man of a virtuous merit.
ALCIBIADES: Entirely true.
SOCRATES: To return to our subject, whoever then employs his care in the service of his body, takes care indeed of what is his, but not of himself.
ALCIBIADES: There is danger of its being found so.
SOCRATES: And whoever is attentive to the improvement of his wealth, is not taking care either of himself [131c] or of what is his, but of things still more remote, the mere appertinences to what is his.77
ALCIBIADES: It seems so to me too.
SOCRATES: The man therefore who is intent on getting money, is so far not acting for his own advantage.
ALCIBIADES: Rightly concluded.
SOCRATES: It follows also, that whoever was an admirer of the outward person of Alcibiades, did not admire Alcibiades, but something which belongs to Alcibiades.
ALCIBIADES: You say what is true.
SOCRATES: But whoever is your admirer is the admirer of your soul.
ALCIBIADES: It appears to follow of necessity from our reasoning.
SOCRATES: And hence it is, that the admirer of your outward person, when the flower of it is all fallen, departs and forsakes you.
ALCIBIADES: So it appears. [131d]
SOCRATES: But the admirer of a soul departs not, so long as that soul goes on to improve itself.
ALCIBIADES: Probably so.
SOCRATES: I am he then who forsakes you not, but abides by you, when the flower of youth having left you,78 the rest of your followers have left you and are gone.
ALCIBIADES: It is kindly done of you, Socrates: and never do you forsake me.
SOCRATES: Exert all your endeavours then to be as excellent a man as possible.
ALCIBIADES: I will do my best.
SOCRATES: For the state of your case is this:—Alcibiades, [131c] the son of Clinias; never it seems had any admirer, neither has he now, besides one only, and therefore to be cherished, this Socrates here, the son of Sophroniscus and Phænarete.
ALCIBIADES: ’Tis true.
SOCRATES: Did you not say that I had been a little beforehand with you when accosted you; for that you had it in your mind to address me first; as you wanted to ask me, why of all your admirers I was the only one who forsook you not?
ALCIBIADES: I did say so: and that was the very case.
SOCRATES: This then was the reason: ’twas because I was the only person who admired you; the others admired that which is yours. That which is yours has already dropped its flower; [132a] and the spring-season of it is past: whereas you yourself are but beginning to flourish. If therefore the Athenian populace corrupt you not, and make you less fair, I never shall forsake you. But this is what I chiefly fear, that you may come to admire and court the populace, and be corrupted by them, and we should lose you: since many of the Athenians, men of virtuous merit too, have been thus corrupted before now. For the people of magnanimous Erectheus has an outward person fair and engaging to behold. But we ought to strip it of all its showy dress, and view it naked. Use therefore the caution which I give you.
ALCIBIADES: What caution? [132b]
SOCRATES: In the first place, my friend, exercise yourself; and acquire the knowledge of those things which are necessary to be learnt by every man who engages in political affairs: but engage not in them until you are thus exercised and thus instructed: that you may come to them prepared with an antidote, and suffer no harm from the poison of the populace.
ALCIBIADES: What you say, Socrates, to me seems right. But explain, if you can, more clearly, how or in what way we should take care of ourselves.
SOCRATES: Is not this then sufficiently clear to us from what has been already said? For what we are, has been tolerably well agreed on. Indeed before that point was settled we feared lest we should mistake it, and imagine that we were taking care of ourselves, when the object of our care all the while was some other thing.
ALCIBIADES: This is true. [132c]
SOCRATES: Upon that it was concluded by both of us that we ought to take care of the soul, and that to this we should direct all our attention and regard.
ALCIBIADES: It was evident.
SOCRATES: And that the care of our bodies and our possessions should be delivered over to others.
ALCIBIADES: We could not doubt it.
SOCRATES: In what way then may we attain to know the soul itself with the greatest dearness? For, when we know this, it seems we shall know ourselves. Now, in the name of the Gods, whether are we not ignorant of the right meaning of that Delphic inscription just now mentioned?
ALCIBIADES: What meaning? What have you in your thoughts, O Socrates! when you ask this question? [132d]
SOCRATES: I will tell you what I suspect that this inscription means, and what particular thing it advises us to do. For a just resemblance of it is, I think, not to be found wherever one pleases; but in one only thing, the fight.
ALCIBIADES: How do you mean?
SOCRATES: Consider it jointly now with me. Were a man to address himself to the outward human eye, as if it were some other man; and were he to give it this counsel “See yourself;” what particular thing should we suppose that he advised the eye to do? Should we not suppose that ’twas to look at such a thing, as that the eye, by looking at it, might see itself?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly we should.
SOCRATES: What kind of thing then do we think of, by looking at which [132e] we see the thing at which we look, and at the same time see our selves?
ALCIBIADES: ’Tis evident, O Socrates, that for this purpose we must look at mirrors, and other things of the like kind.
SOCRATES: You are right. And has not the eye itself, with which we see, something of the same kind belonging to it?
ALCIBIADES: Most certainly it has.
SOCRATES: You have observed, then, that the face of the person who looks in the eye of another person, appears visible to himself in the eye-sight of the person opposite to him, [133a] as in a mirror? And we therefore call this the pupil, because it exhibits the image of that person who looks in it. [133b]
ALCIBIADES: What you say is true.
SOCRATES: An eye therefore beholding an eye, and looking in the most excellent part of it, in that with which it sees, may thus see itself?
ALCIBIADES: Apparently so.
SOCRATES: But if the eye look at any other part of the man, or at any thing whatever, except what this part of the eye happens to be like, it will not see itself.
ALCIBIADES: It is true.
SOCRATES: If therefore the eye would see itself, it must look in an eye, and in that place of the eye, too, where the virtue of the eye is naturally seated; and the virtue of the eye is sight.
ALCIBIADES: Just so.
SOCRATES: Whether then is it not true, my friend Alcibiades, that the soul,79 if she would know herself, must look at soul, and especially at that place in the soul in which wisdom,80 the virtue of the soul, is ingenerated; and also at whatever else this virtue of the soul resembles?
ALCIBIADES: To me, O Socrates, it seems true. [133c]
SOCRATES: Do we know of any place in the soul more divine than that which is the seat of knowledge and intelligence?
ALCIBIADES: We do not.
SOCRATES: This therefore in the soul resembles the divine nature. And a man, looking at this, and recognizing all that which is divine,81 and God and wisdom, would thus gain the most knowledge of himself.
ALCIBIADES: It is apparent.
SOCRATES: And to know oneself, we acknowledge to be wisdom.
ALCIBIADES: By all means.
[82SOCRATES: Shall we not say, therefore, that as mirrors are clearer, purer, and more splendid than that which is analogous to a mirror in the eye, in like manner God is purer and more splendid than that which is best in our soul?
ALCIBIADES: It is likely, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Looking therefore at God, we should make use of him as the most beautiful mirror, and among human concerns we should look at the virtue of the soul; and thus, by so doing, shall we not especially see and know our very selves?
SOCRATES: If then we are not wise, but are ignorant of ourselves, can we know what our good is, and what our evil?
ALCIBIADES: How is it possible that we should, Socrates? [133d]
SOCRATES: For perhaps it appears impossible for a man who knows not Alcibiades himself, to know any thing which relates to Alcibiades, as having that relation.
ALCIBIADES: Impossible it is, by Jupiter.
SOCRATES: Neither then can any thing which is our own, be known by us to be our own, any other way than through the knowledge of ourselves.
ALCIBIADES: How should we?
SOCRATES: And if we know not that which is ours, neither can we know any of the appertinences to what is ours.
ALCIBIADES: It appears we cannot.
SOCRATES: We therefore were not at all right in admitting, as we did just now, that certain persons there were, who knew not themselves, but who knew what belonged to them, and was theirs. Neither can such as know not themselves know the appertinences to what is theirs. For it seems, that ’tis the province of one and the same person, and is from one and the same science, [133e] to know himself, to know the things which are his, and to know the appertinences to those things.
ALCIBIADES: I believe it will be found so.
SOCRATES: And whoever is ignorant of what belongs to himself and is his own, must be likewise ignorant of what belongs to other men and is theirs.
SOCRATES: And if he is ignorant of what belongs to other men, will he not be ignorant also of what belongs to the public, and to other civil states?
ALCIBIADES: He must be so.
SOCRATES: Such a man, therefore, cannot be a politician.
ALCIBIADES: Certainly he cannot.
SOCRATES: Neither will he be fit to manage a family. [134a]
ALCIBIADES: Certainly not.
SOCRATES: Nor will he have any certain knowledge of any thing which he is doing.
ALCIBIADES: He will not.
SOCRATES: And will not the man who knows not what he is doing, do amiss?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly so.
SOCRATES: And doing amiss, will he not act ill, both as a private person, and as a member of the public?
ALCIBIADES: No doubt of it.
SOCRATES: And the man who acts ill,is he not in a bad condition?
ALCIBIADES: A very bad one.
SOCRATES: And in what condition will they be who have an interest in his conduct?
ALCIBIADES: In a very bad one they too.
SOCRATES: It is not possible therefore that any man should be happy if he be not wise and good.
ALCIBIADES: It is not possible. [134b]
SOCRATES: Those then who are bad men are in a bad condition.
ALCIBIADES: A very bad one indeed.
SOCRATES: Not even by riches therefore is a man delivered out of a miserable condition; nor by any other thing than wisdom and virtue.
ALCIBIADES: Apparently so.
SOCRATES: Fortifications therefore, and shipping, and harbours, will be of no avail to the happiness of any civil states; neither will the multitude of their people, nor the extent of their territories; if they want virtue.
ALCIBIADES: Of none at all.
SOCRATES: If then you would manage the affairs of the city well and rightly, you must impart virtue to the citizens.
ALCIBIADES: Beyond question. [134c]
SOCRATES: But can a man impart to others that which he has not himself?
ALCIBIADES: How should he?
SOCRATES: You yourself therefore in the first place should acquire virtue, as should also every other man who has any thoughts of governing, and managing, not himself only, and his own private affairs, but the people also, and the affairs of the public.
SOCRATES: Not arbitrary power therefore, nor command, ought you to procure, neither for yourself nor for the city, but justice and prudence.
ALCIBIADES: It is evident. [134d]
SOCRATES: For, if ye act, justly and prudently, your own conduct, and that of the city too, will be pleasing unto God.
ALCIBIADES: ’Tis highly probable.
SOCRATES: And ye will thus act, by looking, as we said before, at that which is divine and splendid.
ALCIBIADES: Evidently so.
SOCRATES: And, further, by directing your sight hither, ye will behold and know what is your own good.
SOCRATES: Will ye not then act both rightly and well?
ALCIBIADES: Certainly. [134e]
SOCRATES: And acting thus I will insure happiness both to yourself and to the city.
ALCIBIADES: You will be a safe insurer.
SOCRATES: But acting unjustly, as looking to that which is without God, and dark, ’tis highly probable that ye will perform actions similar to what ye behold, actions dark and atheistical, as being ignorant of yourselves.
ALCIBIADES: In all probability that would be the case.
SOCRATES: For, O my friend Alcibiades! if a man have the power of doing what he pleases, and at the same time want intellect, what will be the probable consequence of such arbitrary power, to himself, if he is a private person, and to the state also, if he governs it? As in the case of a bodily disease, if the sick person, without having medical knowledge, had the power of doing what he pleased, [135a] and if he tyrannized so as that no person would dare to reprove him, what would be the consequence? Would it not be, in all probability, the destruction of his body?
ALCIBIADES: It would indeed.
SOCRATES: And in the affair of a sea voyage, if a man, void of the knowledge and skill belonging to a sea commander, had the power of acting and directing in the vessel as he thought proper, do you conceive what would be the consequence, both to himself and to the companions of his voyage?
ALCIBIADES: I do; that they would all be lost.
SOCRATES: Is it otherwise then in the administration of the state, or in any offices of command or power? If virtue be wanting in the persons who are appointed to them, [135b] will not the consequence be an evil and destructive conduct?
ALCIBIADES: It must.
SOCRATES: Arbitrary power, then, my noble Alcibiades! is not the thing which you are to aim at procuring,—neither for yourself, nor yet for the commonwealth; but virtue, if you mean either your own private happiness or that of the public.
SOCRATES: And before one acquires virtue, it is better to be under good government than it is to govern,—better not only for a child, but for a man.
ALCIBIADES: Evidently so.
SOCRATES: Is not that which is better, more beautiful also?
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: And is not that which is more beautiful, more becoming?83
ALCIBIADES: Without doubt. [135c]
SOCRATES: It becomes a bad man therefore to be a slave: for it is better for him so to be.
SOCRATES: Vice therefore is a thing servile, and becoming only to the condition of a slave.
SOCRATES: And virtue is a thing liberal, and becoming to a gentleman.
ALCIBIADES: It is.
SOCRATES: Ought we not, my friend, to shun every thing which is servile, and becoming only to a slave?
ALCIBIADES: The most of all things, O Socrates!
SOCRATES: Are you sensible of the present state of your own mind? Do you find it liberal, and such as becomes a gentleman, or not?
ALCIBIADES: I think I am very fully sensible of what it is.
SOCRATES: Do you know then, by what means you may escape from that condition in which you are now,—not to name what it is, when it happens to be the case of a man of honour? [135d]
ALCIBIADES: I do.
SOCRATES: By what?
ALCIBIADES: Through you, Socrates; if you please.
SOCRATES: That is not well said, Alcibiades!
ALCIBIADES: What ought I then to say?
SOCRATES: You ought to say, If God pleases.
ALCIBIADES: I adopt those words then for my own. And I shall add to them these further;—that we shall be in danger, Socrates, of changing parts,—I of assuming yours,—and you of bearing mine. For it is not possible for me to avoid the following you every where from this day forward, with as much assiduity as if I was your guardian,—and you my pupil. [135e]
SOCRATES: My friendship then for you, noble Alcibiades! may be compared justly to a stork; if, having hatched in your heart, and there cherished, a winged love, it is afterwards to be by this love, in return, cherished and supported.
ALCIBIADES: And this you will find to be the very case: for I shall begin from henceforward to cultivate the science of justice.
SOCRATES: I wish you may persevere. But I am terribly afraid for you: not that I in the least distrust the goodness of your disposition; but perceiving the torrent of the times, I fear you may be borne away with it, in spite of your own resistance, and of my endeavours in your aid.
THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL NOTES ON THE FIRST ALCIBIADES ARE EXTRACTED FROM THE MS. COMMENTARY OF PROCLUS ON THAT DIALOGUE.
Son of Clinias! you wonder, I suppose, etc.
The prefaces (τα μροοιμια) of Plato’s dialogues accord with the whole scope of them; and are neither devised by Plato for the sake of dramatic allurement, since this mode of writing is very remote from the magnitude of the philosopher’s conceptions, nor are they merely historical; but each is suspended from the design of the dialogue to which it belongs.
Every thing in the dialogues of Plato, in the same manner as in the mysteries, is referred to the whole perfection of the particulars which are investigated. Agreeably to this, Plato in the very beginning of this dialogue appears to me to indicate in a beautiful manner the scope of the whole composition. For his design, as we have said, was to unfold our nature, and the whole essence according to which each of us is defined; and to unveil the Delphic mandate KNOW THYSELF through demonstrative methods. But the preface itself converts the young man to himself, and represents him as exploring his own pre-subsisting conceptions; and, at the same time that it converts him to himself, leads him to a survey, as from a watch-tower, of Socratic science. For an investigation of the cause through which Socrates alone, of all his lovers, does not change his love, but began to love him prior to others, and is not altered when the rest no longer love, evinces him to be a spectator of the whole life of Socrates. The forms of conversion therefore are triple. For every thing which is converted, is either converted to that which is worse than itself, through apostatizing from its proper perfection, or is led back to that which is better than itself, through its own life, and an energy according to nature, or it is converted to itself, according to a knowledge co-ordinate to itself, and a middle form of motion. A conversion indeed to that which is worse, is a passion of the soul whose wings suffer a defluxion, and that is now placed in oblivion both of herself, and of natures prior to herself. But a conversion both to itself and to a more excellent nature, takes place not in souls only, but in divine natures themselves, as Parmenides teaches us, when he establishes two species of conversion, and shows how a divine nature is converted to itself, and is in itself, and how it is converted to that which is prior to itself, so far as it is comprehended in another, and is united with a better nature. On this account Socrates at the end of this dialogue says, that he who is converted to and becomes a spectator of himself, will by this mean behold the whole of a divine nature, and through a conversion to himself will be led to an elevated survey of divinity, and to a conversion to that which is better than himself. These things, therefore, the preface indicates. For it leads Alcibiades from a life tending to externals to a survey of himself, and recalls him through a knowledge of himself to a love of Socratic science; since a desire to learn the cause of the conduct of Socrates is to become a lover of the pre-subsisting science which he contains.
Again, Plato signifies in the preface, besides other things, that a worthy man will always employ his knowledge on objects properly co-ordinated to that knowledge; and that he will never attempt to possess a stable, definite and immutable knowledge of things contingent and mutable, nor a dubious, indefinite, and disordered apprehension of things necessary, and which always possess a sameness of subsistence. But, according to the distinction adopted by Socrates in the Republic, he will conjointly contemplate all intelligibles with simple, uniform, and intellectual knowledge; but will survey the middle reasons of things with a scientific and dianoëtic evolution and composition. Again, with the sensitive power which is the third from truth, he will touch upon proper objects of knowledge, through instruments of sense, distinguishing in a becoming manner every object of sense. And lastly, by an assimilative power he will apprehend the images of sensibles. And indeed Timæus, distinguishing cognitions analogously to the objects of knowledge, exhorts us to judge of true beings by intelligence in conjunction with reason; but such things as are not beings, but are perpetually conversant with generation and corruption, by opinion and sense. He also adds, that the reasons pertaining to true beings cannot be confuted, and are indubitable; but those which belong to things borne along in the rapid flux of generation, are conjectural and contingent. For every where reasons imitate the things of which they are the interpreters.
In the third place, Socrates in the Cratylus says that the names of things eternal have a certain alliance with the things themselves; but that the names of things generated and corrupted are multiformly changed, and partake much of position, through the unstable lation of their subjects. If therefore the knowledge of things which subsist perpetually the same, differs from that of things contingent, and reasons are allotted an all-various mutation, and different names accord with different things, is it wonderful that Socrates, who is here discoursing concerning an unstable nature, should use the word οιμαι, I opine, or suppose? which signifies that the nature of the thing known is mutable, but does not accuse the knowledge of Socrates as indefinite, mingled with ignorance, and dubious.
You have looked down on your admirers.
Alcibiades, by despising those that were unworthy of his love, and admiring those that were worthy of it, testifies his great alliance to the beautiful, and that he was abundantly prepared for the reception of virtue. But perhaps some one may be desirous to learn why elevated and grand conceptions move divine lovers, and appear to deserve diligent attention. We reply, that such manners seem to possess an alliance with divine beauty. For to despise things present as shadowy representations, and of no worth, and to investigate something prior to these, which is great and wonderful and transcends the conceptions of the multitude, is an evident argument of the parturiency of the soul about the beautiful. Hence Socrates in the Republic represents souls which are about to descend from the heavens, as choosing a commanding and magnificent life, For they still retain the echo, as it were, of the life which is there, and, in consequence of this, convert themselves to power and dominion, and despite every thing else as trifling and of no worth. But this affection is the principle of safety to souls. For to consider human concerns as small, and vile, and not worthy of serious attention, and to investigate that form of life which is exempt from multitude and inaccessible to the vulgar, is a sufficient viaticum for the pursuit of virtue.
You think that if you speedily make your appearance before the Athenian people, etc.
The design of all that has been proximately said is to purify our dianoëtic part from two-fold ignorance, and to remove all that impedes our resumption of true science. For it is impossible for things imperfect to obtain their proper perfection in any other way than by a purification of impediments; for that which purifies every where possesses this power. But the true purification of the soul is triple; one kind proceeding through the telestic art,1 concerning which Socrates speaks in the Phædrus; another through philosophy, concerning which much is said in the Phædo; for there prudence and each of the other virtues is denominated a certain purification; but the purification through this dialectic science leads to contradiction, confutes the inequality of dogmas; and liberates us from two-fold ignorance. Purification therefore being triple, Socrates here employs the third of these on Alcibiades: for those that labour under two-fold ignorance are benefited by this purification. Hence Socrates does not assert any thing of truth, till he has removed those opinions which impede the soul in her apprehension of truth. Simple ignorance indeed subsists between science and two-fold ignorance; and the first transition is from science to simple ignorance, and the proximate ascent is from simple ignorance to science. At the same time likewise this ascent separates us from opinion tending to externals, converts the soul to herself; makes her explore her own proper dogmas, remove that which impedes her knowledge, and fill up what is deficient. For, as the body when disturbed by foreign humours often corrupts its aliment, and changes the benefit arising from it into a noxious property, so the soul being disturbed through false opinion, and receiving the assistance imparted from science in a manner adapted to her own habit, produces a principle of greater false opinion and deception. The purification therefore which precedes all the arguments of Socrates is comprehended in these words; and it may be said to resemble the telestic purifications which take place previous to the operations of the mysteries, which liberate us from all the defilements we became connected with from generation, and prepare us for the participation of a divine nature. But this purification takes place according to the dialectic method, which leads us to contradiction, confutes that deception which darkens our dianoëtic part, and proceeds through more known and universal assumptions to indubitable conclusions, receiving the major propositions from common conceptions, and the minor from the consent of him with whom we converse. It also conjoins the extremes with each other through media; denies of the minor whatever is denied of the major terms; and thinks fit that such things as are present with things predicated should also be present with the subjects of its diffusion.
In fine, that you entertain such hopes as I have mentioned, I know with certainty.
From hence we may rightly understand who it is that instructs, and who is instructed. For it is fit that he who instructs should accurately know the aptitudes of those that are instructed, and conformably to these should direct his attention; since every one is not to be disciplined in a similar manner. But he who is naturally a philosopher is to be led back to an incorporeal essence in one way, he who is a lover in another, and the musician in a still different way. And again, he who through the imagination of that facility of energy which belongs to a divine nature is astonished about pleasure, is to be led back in one way; he who through the desire of being sufficient to himself desires the possession of riches, in another way; and in a still different way, he who through the conception of divine power is busily employed about apparent power. For, images every where assuming the appearance of their principles draw aside unintelligent souls; but it is requisite, departing from these, to pass on to those true and real beings. And this was the mode of the Socratic doctrine, to lead up every one to the proper object of his desire. Hence, to the lover of pleasure he pointed out that which is pleasurable with purity, and unmingled with pain; for it is evident that this will be more eligible to him who pursues pleasure, than that which is mingled with its contrary. To the lover of riches he indicated where that which is truly sufficient to itself abides, and which is in no respect filled with indigence; for this must be more ardently pursued by him who aspires after self-perfection, and avoids indigence. But to the lover of dominion he showed where that which is powerful and governs is to be found, and what the nature is of the ruling form of life which is free from all subjection; for this will be considered as more honourable to the ambitious man than what is mingled with that which is to be avoided. Power therefore, self-sufficiency, and pleasure are not to be found in material things. For matter is imbecility and poverty, and is the cause of corruption and pain. But it is evident that these, if they are any where to be found, are in immaterial and separate natures. These natures therefore are the proper objects of love, and to these an ascent is to be made. After this manner, therefore, he who instructs ought to introduce discipline from the physical aptitudes in each, to each imparting safety; but he who is instructed should submit himself to his instructor, and gradually be led to the truth, departing from images and a subterranean cavern2 to the light and true essence, on every side extending himself to that which is unmingled with its contrary, and dismissing that which is divisible and shadowy, but aspiring after that which is universal and impartible. For total good, as Socrates says in the Philebus, is neither desirable only, nor alone perfect, and sufficient and able to fill other things, but comprehends at once all these, the perfect, the sufficient, the desirable. For it extends all things to itself, and imparts to all well-being; but it is regarded by the multitude partially. Hence some of them, looking only to the desirable which it contains, pursue the pleasurable, which is the image of it; but others, surveying the perfect alone, are busily employed about riches; for in these the image of perfection subsists; and others tending to the sufficient are astonished about power; for power carries with it a phantasm of sufficiency. To dismiss therefore these partial apprehensions of the good, to look to its whole nature, and to be led back to its all-perfect plenitude, separates in a becoming manner those that are instructed from an association with images.
Have you knowledge in those things only which you have either learnt from others, or found out yourself?
Plato considers Mathesis and Invention as paths of knowledge adapted to our souls. For the genera superior to our soul do not acquire their proper perfection through either of these; since they are always present, and never depart from the objects of their knowledge. Nor are natures subordinate to the human, and which are called irrational, adapted to learn any dianoëtic discipline, or to discover any thing by themselves. But the human soul containing in itself all reasons, and pre-assuming all sciences, is indeed darkened from generation, respecting the theory of what it possesses, and requires discipline and invention; that through discipline it may excite its intellections, and through invention may discover itself, and the plenitude of reasons which it contains. And these are the gifts of the Gods, benefiting it in its fallen condition, and recalling it to an intellectual life. For both, indeed, are derived from the Mercurial order; but Invention so far as Mercury is the son of Maia the daughter of Atlas; and Mathesis, so far as he is the messenger of Jupiter. For, unfolding the will of his father, he imparts to souls Mathesis; but so far as he proceeds from Maia, with whom Inquiry occultly resides, he bestows on his pupils Invention. But when Mathesis proceeds supernally to souls from more excellent natures, it is better than Invention; but when from co-ordinate natures, as from men exciting our gnostic power, it is then subordinate to Invention. Hence Invention has a middle subsistence adapted to the self-motive nature of the soul: for our self-vital and self-energetic powers become especially apparent through this. But Mathesis, according to that which is more excellent than human nature, fills the soul from the more divine causes of it; but, according to that which is subordinate to our nature, from things external to our essence, excites in an alter- motive manner our vital power. Indeed, that a certain knowledge of things is produced in us from more excellent natures, divine visions sufficiently indicate, in which the Gods unfold the order of wholes to souls, becoming the leaders of a progression to an intelligible essence, and enkindling those flames which conduct the soul on high. And thus much concerning Mathesis and Invention.
But investigations and doctrines are necessarily preceded by simple ignorance. For the scientific no longer investigate the truth, in consequence of having obtained the boundary of knowledge, according to science; nor yet those that are involved in two-fold ignorance. For this very thing is two-fold ignorance, to consider that as sufficient which is neither beautiful, nor good, nor prudent, says Diotima, in the Banquet. This arises from souls descending into generation, and being essentially full of sciences, but receiving oblivion from generation, or the regions of sense. And in consequence of possessing the reasons of things, they have as it were agitated conceptions concerning them; but being vanquished by the potion of oblivion, they are incapable of expressing their conceptions, and referring them to science. Hence they contain them indigested and scarcely respiring, and on this account they are vanquished by two-fold ignorance. For they think that they know through these innate conceptions, but they are ignorant through oblivion; and hence arise deception, and an appearance of knowledge without the reality (δοκησις). He therefore who is involved in two-fold ignorance is remote from an investigation of things, in the same manner as he is who possesses scientific knowledge. For neither is it the province of a wife man to philosophize, nor of him who labours under the disease of two-fold ignorance; but this evidently belongs to him who is established according to simple ignorance. For he who is ignorant in a two-fold respect, is according to this similar to the wise man; just as matter, as same one rightly observes, possesses a dissimilar similitude to divinity. For, as matter is without form, so also is divinity. Each likewise is infinite and unknown; though this is true of the one according to that which is better, and of the other according to that which is worse than all things. Thus therefore the man of science, and the ignorant in a two-fold respect, do not investigate any thing; the one in consequence of being wise, and as it were full of knowledge; and the other in consequence of not even assuming the principles of investigation, through the falsehood with which he is surrounded. But he who possesses simple ignorance subsists in a certain respect between the man of science and him who doubles his deception. For he in short who knows himself, and is converted to himself, is superior to him who is perfectly ignorant of himself; but he who on beholding himself does not perceive knowledge but ignorance, is inferior to the man of science. For, of these three characters, the man of two-fold ignorance is entirely unconverted to himself; the wise man is converted to himself, and through this conversion finds within himself the virtues and sciences, shining forth to the view like divine statues;3 (οιον αγαλματα ϑεια προλαμποντα) but the man of simple ignorance is converted indeed, but beholds within ignorance, and a privation of actual science; and thus he is constituted at the beginning of mathesis and invention; either exploring himself and his own wealth, which he did not know that he possessed, or betaking himself to teachers, and by them being led to knowledge. In short, the soul according to science is assimilated to intellect, comprehending the object of knowledge in energy in the same manner as intellect comprehends the intelligible; but according to two fold ignorance, it is assimilated to matter. For, as matter possesses all things according to mere appearance, but in reality contains nothing, and is thought to be adorned, but is not exempt from a privation of ornament; so he who possesses two-fold ignorance thinks that he knows what he does not know, and carries about with him an appearance of wisdom in things of which he is ignorant. But Socrates, when he admits that there was a time in which we did not think ourselves knowing in what we now know, is thought by some to contradict what he says in the Phædo, in which discoursing about discipline being reminiscence, he shows that possessing a knowledge of the equal, the just, the beautiful, and of every form, we cannot relate the time when we received this knowledge. To this objection we reply, that the knowledge of our souls is two-fold; the one indistinct, and subsisting according to mere conjecture, but the other distinct, scientific and indubitable. For, as he some where says, we appear to know all things as in a dream, but are ignorant of them according to vigilant perception; containing indeed the reasons of things essentially, and as it were breathing forth the knowledges of these, but not possessing them in energy and vigour. Of the conception therefore of forms subsisting in us essentially, there is no preceding time; for we perpetually possess it; but we can relate the time in which we acquired a knowledge of forms according to energy and a distinct subsistence.
Now what the things are which you have learnt I tolerably well know, etc.
That these three disciplines, says Proclus, viz. mathesis, music, and gymnastic, contribute to the whole of political virtue, is evident. For gymnastic strengthens the softness of desire, and recalls its dissipated nature to a firm tone; this desiderative part of the soul being proximate to bodies. For anger is the tone of the soul, and, being oppressed with a death-like sleep through matter, requires to be strengthened and excited. But through music the robust and savage nature of anger is softened, and rendered elegant and harmonious. But neither is gymnastic alone sufficient to erudition. For when immoderately pursued, and unaccompanied with music, it renders the manners rustic, contentious, and vehement. Nor is music alone sufficient without gymnastic: for the life of those who alone use music without the gymnic exercises becomes effeminate and soft. It is requisite therefore, as in a lyre, that there should neither be vehemence alone, nor remission, but that the whole soul should be harmonized with respect to itself from disciplinative intension and remission. But the mathematics and dialectic excite and lead upwards our rational part: for the eye of the soul, which is blinded and buried by many other studies, is resuscitated by these, and is converted to its own essence and to the knowledge of itself. And all these are Mercurial disciplines. For this God is the inspective guardian of gymnastic exercises; and hence hermæ, or carved statues of Mercury, were placed in the Palæstræ: of music, and hence he is honoured as the lyrist (λυραιος) among the celestial constellations: and of disciplines, because the invention of geometry, reasoning, and discourse is referred to this God. He presides therefore over every species of erudition, leading us to an intelligible essence from this mortal abode, governing the different herds of souls, and dispersing the sleep and oblivion with which they are oppressed. He is likewise the supplier of recollection, the end of which is a genuine intellectual apprehension of divine natures. In well instituted polities, therefore, youth are instructed by the guardians in these disciplines: and among the Athenians certain images of these were preserved; grammar having a reference to dialectic discipline; playing on the harp pertaining to music, and wrestling to gymnastic; in which those youths that were well-born were instructed. And hence Socrates says that Alcibiades had learnt these, as having had an education adapted to a well-born youth.
This also accords with the order of the universe. For our first age partakes in an eminent degree of the lunar operations; as we then live according to a nutritive and natural4 power. But our second age participates of Mercurial prerogatives; because we then apply ourselves to letters, music, and wrestling. The third age is governed by Venus; because then we begin to produce seed, and the generative powers of nature are put in motion. The fourth age is solar; for then our youth is in its vigour and full perfection, subsisting as a medium between generation and decay; for such is the order which vigour is allotted. The fifth age is governed by Mars; in which we principally aspire after power and superiority over others. The sixth age is governed by Jupiter; for in this we give ourselves up to prudence, and pursue an active and political life. And the seventh age is Saturnian, in which it is natural to separate ourselves from generation, and transfer ourselves to an incorporeal life. And thus much we have discussed, in order to procure belief that letters and the whole of education are suspended from the Mercurial series.
But it is worth while to consider on what account Alcibiades refused to learn to play on wind-instruments, though this art pertains to music. It has then been said by some, that being vain of his person from his youth, he avoided that deformity of the face which is occasioned by blowing the pipe or flute. But it is better to say that well-instituted polities are averse to the art of playing on wind-instruments; and therefore neither does Plato admit it. The cause of this is the variety of this instrument, the pipe, which shows that the art which uses it should be avoided. For instruments called Panarmonia, and those consisting of many strings, are imitations of pipes. For every hole of the pipe emits, as they say, three sounds at least; but if the cavity above the holes be opened, then each hole will emit more than three sounds. It is however requisite not to admit all music in education, but that part of it only which is simple. Further still of these musical instruments, some are repressive, and others motive; some are adapted to rest and others to motion. The repressive therefore are most useful for education, leading our manners into order, repressing the turbulency of youth, and bringing its agitated nature to quietness and temperance. But the motive instruments are adapted to enthusiastic energy: and hence, in the mysteries and mystic sacrifices, the pipe is useful; for the motive power of it is employed for the purpose of exciting the dianoëtic power to a divine nature. For here it is requisite that the irrational part should be laid asleep, and the rational excited. Hence, those that instruct youth use repressive instruments, but initiators such as are motive: for that which is disciplined is the irrational part; but it is reason which is initiated, and which energizes enthusiastically.
How is this, friend Alcibiades, etc.
The descent of the soul into body separates it from divine souls, from whom it is filled with intelligence, power, and purity, and conjoins it with generation, and nature, and material things, from which it is filled with oblivion, wandering, and ignorance. For, in its descent, multiform lives and various vestments grow upon it, which draw it down into a mortal composition, and darken its vision of real being. It is requisite therefore that the soul which is about to be led properly from hence to that ever-vigilant nature, should amputate those second and third powers which are suspended from its essence, in the same manner as weeds, stones and shells, from the marine Glaucus; should restrain its externally proceeding impulses, and recollect true beings and a divine essence, from which it descended, and to which it is fit that the whole of our life should hasten. But the parts or powers which are in want of perfection in us, are: the irrational life, which is naturally adapted to be adorned and disciplined through manners; the proæretic5 part, which requires to be with drawn from irrational appetites, and a connection with them; and besides these our gnostic power, which requires a reminiscence of true beings. For the part which recollects is different from that which is elegantly arranged through manners; and different from both these is the part which by admonitions and instructions becomes more commensurate. It is requisite, therefore, that discipline should accord with these three parts: and, in the first place, that it should perfect us through rectitude of manners; in the next place, through admonition and precepts; and, in the third place, that it should excite our innate reasons, and purify the knowledge which essentially subsists in our souls, through reminiscence. Such then are the genera, and such the order of perfection adapted to souls falling into bodies.
These things then being admitted, the third of these parts, viz. the rational nature, acquires perfection through discipline and invention. For the soul is essentially self-motive, but, in consequence of communicating with the body, participates in a certain respect of alter-motion. For, as it imparts to the body the last image of self-motion, so it receives the representation of alter-motion, through its habitude about the body. Through the power of self-motion therefore the soul acquires, and is inventive and prolific of reasons and sciences; but, through its representation of alter-motion, it requires to be excited by others. More perfect souls, however, are more inventive; but the more imperfect are indigent of external assistance. For, some are more self-motive, and are less replete with a subordinate nature; but others are less self-motive, and are more passive from a corporeal nature. As they advance however in perfection, are excited from body, and collect their powers from matter, they become more prolific, and more inventive of the things about which they were before unprolific and dubious, through the sluggishness and privation of life proceeding from matter, and the sleep of generation. We therefore, thus preserving the medium of a rational essence, can assign the causes of the more imperfect and perfect habits in the soul; and we say, that such are the paths of the perfection of souls. But those who do not preserve this medium, but either rise to that which is better, or decline to that which is worse, fall off from the truth respecting these particulars. For we do not admit their arguments who say, that the soul coming into a moist body, and being thence darkened, is stupid from the beginning;6 but that, this moisture becoming exhaled, through the innate heat, and possessing greater symmetry, the power of intellectual prudence in the soul is rejuvenized. For this mode of perfection is corporeal and material, and supposes that the perfection of the soul is consequent to the temperament of the body; though prior to the elements, and prior to the whole of generation, the soul had a subsistence, and was a life unmingled with body and nature. Nor, again, do we assent to those who say that the soul is a portion of the divine essence;7 that this portion is similar to the whole, and is always perfect; and that tumult and passions subsist about the animal. For those who assert these things make the soul ever-perfect, and ever-scientific, at no time requiring reminiscence, and always impassive, and free from the defilement of evil. Timæus, however, says, that our essence does not subsist entirely from the first genera, in the same manner as the souls superior to ours, but from such as are second and third. And Socrates, in the Phædrus, says that our powers are mingled with that which is contrary to good, and are filled with opposition to each other; and that, through this, sometimes the better and sometimes the worse parts are victorious. But what occasion is there to say more on this subject, since Socrates himself says, in that dialogue, that the charioteer8 becomes depraved, and that through his depravity many souls become lame, and many lose their wings, though the charioteering power (ηνιοχωτικη δυναμις) is one of the more venerable powers of the soul? For it is this which has a reminiscence of divine natures, and which uses second and third powers as ministrant to reminiscence. These things, therefore, are clearly asserted in the Phædrus.
As we have said, then, the measures of the soul are to be preserved; and the reasons concerning its perfection are neither to be referred to it from corporeal natures, nor from such as are divine; that thus we may be fit interpreters of Plato, and not distort the words of the philosopher by forcing them to a coincidence with our own opinion. Since, therefore, the soul is at one time imperfect, and is again perfected, and becomes oblivious of divine natures, and again remembers them, it is evident that time contributes to its perfection. For how could it change from folly to wisdom, and in short to virtue from vice, unless it made these mutations in time? For all mutation subsists in time. And thus much concerning the perfection of the soul in general.
From what has been said, then, we may collect that he who knows what is just passes from ignorance to a knowledge of it; and that he neither has the reason of the just always at hand, in the same manner as the natures superior to man (for we are born at first imperfect), nor again that the knowledge of it arrives to us through the mutation of the body. For our essence is not corporeal, nor composed from material genera. It remains, therefore, that either discipline or invention must precede knowledge; and Alcibiades is very properly requested to tell who was the cause of his acquiring discipline, and whence he knows what the just is, if he does know. For it is necessary, as we have often said, that discipline should be the leader of knowledge imparted by another; and a teacher, of discipline. For discipline is a motion; but all motion requires a moving cause. It requires therefore a teacher, for he is the cause of discipline.
Can you tell me, then, at what time you did not imagine yourself to know what things are just and what are unjust?
Proclus, in commenting on this passage, having remarked that investigation which precedes invention, excites the eye of the soul, and exercises it for the perception of truth, further observes as follows:
“Again, the discourse proceeds from invention to simple ignorance; for no one would attempt to investigate that which he thinks he knows. It is necessary, therefore, that simple ignorance should be the beginning of investigation. For investigation is a desire of knowledge in things of which we suspect that we are ignorant. This being the case, it is necessary that the time should be known in which we suspected that we did not know: and hence Socrates desires Alcibiades to tell him the time in which he suspected his want of knowledge. For, as we have before observed, it is necessary that all such mutations should be measured by time. Hence the dæmoniacal Aristotle, also, here admits motion in the soul, and a mutation according to time. But that an association with the body, and a transition from vice to virtue, require time, is manifest to every one. As some however have said, that the soul when subsisting by itself does not require time for its energies, but that on the contrary it generates time; this assertion I think requires some consideration. For time is two-fold; one kind being that which is consubsistent with the natural life and corporeal motion of the universe, and an other kind that which pervades through the life of an incorporeal nature. This latter time, therefore, measures the periods of divine souls, and perfects the separate energies of ours. But the former, which is extended with a life according to nature, measures that life of our souls which subsists with body, but by no means that life of the soul which lives itself by itself.”
But, by Jove, I was not ignorant of that point; for I clearly saw that I was injured.
The young man here acknowledges that he has a suspicion of the knowledge of things just; and hence Socrates again asks him whether he learnt or discovered this knowledge. In consequence of this, Alcibiades confesses, that his knowledge was not acquired either by learning or invention, because he cannot mention any time of his ignorance, after which he either investigated or was taught justice. And it appears to me to be clearly shown by this, what that science is which we possess prior to all time, and what that is which is produced in time. For Socrates, looking to science in energy, inquires what was the time prior to this; but Alcibiades, possessing science essentially, through which he thinks that he knows what he does not know, cannot tell the time of its participation; for we possess it perpetually. So that, if Socrates speaks about one science, and Alcibiades about another, both these assertions are true, viz. that time precedes science, and that the time prior to its presence cannot be told: for of imperfect science there is no preceding time, but of that which subsists in energy and is perfect, there is.
Well. But I was wrong in my answers when I supposed that I had found out that knowledge by myself, etc.
Discipline being two-fold, and at one time proceeding from more excellent causes to such as are subordinate, according to which the demiurgus in the Timæus says to the junior Gods, “Learn what I now say to you indicating my desire;” but at another time proceeding from a cause externally moving, according to which we are accustomed to inscribe certain persons as teachers; and invention ranking between these; for it is subordinate to the knowledge imparted to the soul from the Gods, but is more perfect than reminiscence externally derived;—this being the case, Alcibiades had not any conception of discipline from a more excellent cause, except so far as looking to the science essentially inherent in us, in a dormant state, which is imparted from the Gods, and by which he was led to conjecture that he accurately knew the nature of the just. But coming to invention, which has a middle subsistence in the soul which also ranks as a medium, and being likewise shaken by reasoning, and shown that he had neither investigated nor could tell the time of his ignorance, which must necessarily subsist previous to inquiry, he now again comes to the second kind of discipline, and, being dubious with respect to the truly scientific teacher of things just, flies to the multitude, and their unstable life, and considers these as the leader of the knowledge of what is just. Here therefore Socrates, like another Hercules, cutting off the Hydra’s heads, shows that every multitude is unworthy to be believed respecting the knowledge of things just and unjust. The reasoning, indeed, appears to contribute but little to the purification of the young man; but, when accurately considered, it will be found to be directed to the same end. For, in the first place, Alcibiades, being ambitious, suspended his opinion from the multitude, and about this was filled with astonishment. Socrates therefore shows him, first, that the opinion of the multitude possesses no authority in the judgment and knowledge of things; and that it is not proper for him to adhere to it, whose view is directed to the beautiful: and, in the second place, that the multitude is the cause of false opinion, producing in us from our youth depraved imaginations and various passions. Scientific reasoning therefore is necessary, in order to give a right direction to that part of us which is perverted by an association with the multitude; to apply a remedy to our passive part, and to purify that which is filled with impurity; for thus we shall become adapted to a reminiscence9 of science. In the third place, Socrates shows, that in each of us, as he says, there is a many-headed wild beast, which is analogous to the multitude; for this is what the people is in a city, viz. the various and material form of the soul, which is our lowest part. The present reasoning therefore exhorts us to depart from boundless desire, and to lay aside the multitude of life, and our inward people, as not being a judge worthy of belief respecting the nature of things, nor a recipient of any whole science; for nothing irrational is naturally adapted to partake of science. In the fourth place, therefore, we say, that the present reasoning does not think fit to admit into science and an intellectual life an apostacy and flight from the one, together with diversity, and all-various division; but indicates that all these should be rejected as foreign from intellect and divine union. For it is requisite not only to fly from external, but also from the multitude in the soul; nor this alone, but also to abandon multitude of every kind.
In the first place, therefore, we must fly from “the multitude of men going along in a herd,” as the oracle10 says, and must neither communicate with their lives, nor with their opinions. In the next place we must fly from multiform appetites, which divide us about body, and make us to be at different times impelled to different externals; at one time to irrational pleasures, and at another to actions indefinite, and which war on each other: for these fill us with penitence and evils. We must also fly from the senses which are nourished with us, and which deceive our dianoëtic part: for they are multiform, at different times are conversant with different sensibles, and assert nothing sane, nothing accurate, as Socrates himself says.11 We must likewise fly from imaginations, as figured, and divisible, and thus introducing infinite variety, and not suffering us to return to that which is impartible and immaterial; but, when we are hastening to apprehend an essence of this kind, drawing us down to passive intelligence. We must fly too from opinions; for these are various and infinite, tend to that which is external, are mingled with phantasy and sense, and are not free from contrariety; since our opinions also contend with each other, in the same manner as imaginations with imaginations, and one sense with another. But, flying from all these divisible and various forms of life, we should run back to science, and there collect in union the multitude of theorems, and comprehend all the sciences in one according bond. For there is neither sedition nor contrariety in the sciences with each other; but such as are secondary are subservient to those that are prior, and derive from them their proper principles. At the same time it is requisite here to betake ourselves from many sciences to one science, which is unhypothetical12 and the first, and to extend to this all the rest. But after science and the exercise pertaining to it, we must lay aside compositions, divisions, and multiform transitions, and transfer the soul to an intellectual life, and simple projections.13 For science is not the summit of knowledge, but prior to this is intellect; I do not only mean that intellect which is exempt from soul, but an illumination14 from thence, which is infused into the soul, and concerning which Aristotle says, that “it is intellect by which we know terms,”15 and Timæus, that “it is ingenerated in nothing else than soul.” Ascending therefore to this intellect, we must contemplate together with it an intelligible essence; with simple and indivisible projections surveying the simple, accurate, and indivisible genera of beings. But, after venerable intellect, it is necessary to excite the supreme hyparxis or summit of the soul, according to which we are one, and under which the multitude we contain is united. For as by our intellect we pass into contact with a divine intellect, so by our unity, and as it were the flower of our essence, it is lawful to touch the first one, the source of union to all things. For the similar is every where to be comprehended by the similar; objects of science by science; intelligibles by intellect; and the most united measures of beings, by the one of the soul. And this is the very summit of our energies. According to this we become divine, flying from all multitude, verging to our own union, becoming one, and energizing uniformly. And thus proceeding through the gradations of knowledge, you may see the rectitude of the Socratic exhortation.
But if you are willing also to consider the admonition according to the objects of knowledge, fly from all sensible things; for they are divulsed from each other, are divisible, and perfectly mutable, and therefore cannot be apprehended by genuine knowledge. From these, therefore, transfer yourself to an incorporal essence: for every thing sensible has an adventitious union, and is of itself dissipated, and full of infinity. Hence also its good is divisible and adventitious, is distant from itself and discordant, and possesses its hypostasis in a foreign seat. Having therefore ascended thither, and being established among incorporeals, you will behold the order pertaining to soul above bodies, self-motive and self-energetic, and subsisting in and from itself, but at the same time multiplied, and anticipating in itself a certain representation of an essence divisible about bodies. There likewise you will see an all-various multitude of habitudes of reasons, analogies, bonds, wholes, and parts, circles characterized by the nature of soul, a variety of powers, and a perfection neither eternal nor at once wholly stable, but evolved according to time, and subsisting in discursive energies: for such is the nature of soul. After the multitude in souls, extend yourself to intellect, and the intellectual kingdoms, that you may apprehend the union of things, and become a spectator of the nature of intellect. There behold an essence abiding in eternity, a fervid life and sleepless intellection, to which nothing of life is wanting, and which does not desire the chariot of time to the perfection of its nature. When you have surveyed these, and have also seen by how great an interval they are superior to souls, inquire whether there is any multitude there, and if intellect, since it is one, is likewise all-perfect, and if multiform as well as uniform: for you will find that it thus subsists. Having therefore learnt this, and beheld intellectual multitude, indivisible and united, betake yourself again to another principle, and prior to intellectual essences survey the unities16 of intellects, and an union exempt from wholes. Here abiding, relinquish all multitude, and you will arrive at the fountain of the good. You see then that the present reasoning affords us no small assistance, in exhorting us to fly from the multitude; and how it contributes to all the salvation17 of the soul, if we direct our attention to the multitude which pervades through all things. The moll beautiful principle therefore of our perfection is to separate ourselves from external multitude, and from the multitude in the appetites of the soul, and in the indefinite motions of opinion.
From hence also it is evident that souls do not collect their knowledge from sensibles, nor from things partial and divisible discover the whole and the one; but that they call forth discipline inwardly, and correct the imperfection of the phænomena. For it is not fit to think that things which have in no respect a real subsistence should be the leading causes of knowledge in the soul; and that things which oppose each other, which require the reasonings of the soul, and are ambiguous, should precede science, which has a sameness of subsistence; nor that things which are variously mutable should be generative of reasons which are established in unity; nor that things indefinite 1hould be the causes of definite intelligence, It is not proper, therefore, that the truth of things eternal should be received from the many, nor the discrimination of universals from sensibles, nor a judgment respecting what is good from irrational natures; but it is requisite that the soul entering within herself should investigate in herself the true and the good, and the eternal reasons of things. For the essence of the soul is full of these, but they are concealed in the oblivion produced by generation.18 Hence the soul in investigating truth looks to externals, though she essentially contains it in herself, and, deserting her own essence, explores the good in things foreign to its nature. From hence, then, the beginning of the knowledge of ourselves is derived. For, if we look to the multitude of men, we shall never see the one form of them, in consequence of its being shadowed over by the multitude, division, discord, and all-various mutation of its participants; but if we convert ourselves to our own essence, we shall there survey without molestation the one reason and nature of men. Very properly, therefore, does Socrates separate far from a survey of the multitude, the soul that is about to know what man truly is, and previous to a speculation of this kind purifies from impeding opinions. For multitude is an impediment to a conversion of the soul into herself, and to a knowledge of the one form of things. For, in material concerns, variety obscures unity, difference sameness, and dissimilitude similitude; since forms here do not subsist without confusion, nor are the more excellent unmingled with the baser natures.
To no good teachers have you recourse for the origin of your knowledge, etc.
Proclus in commenting on this part observes:
“No one ought to wonder, if, when we say that what is natural is more abundant than what is contrary to nature, and that the latter is contracted into a narrow space, but the former has dominion in the universe, yet at the same time we assert that the greater part of mankind is destitute of science, and vicious, and that but a few are scientific. For a life in conjunction with body and generation is not natural to souls; but on the contrary a separate, immaterial, and incorporeal life is properly adapted to them. When therefore they are conversant with generation, they resemble those that inhabit a pestilent region; but when they live beyond generation, they resemble, as Plato says, those that dwell in meadows. Hence, as it is not wonderful that in pestilential places the diseased should be more numerous than the healthy; in like manner we ought not to wonder that in generation souls obnoxious to passions and full of depravity abound more than those of a contrary description. But, it will be wonderful if some souls invested with these bodies, confined in these bonds, and surrounded with such mutation,should be found sober, pure, and free from perturbation.. For, is it not astonishing that the soul should live immaterially in things material, and preserve itself undefiled amidst mortal natures? and that, having drunk from the envenomed cup it should not be laid asleep by the oblivious draught? For oblivion, error, and ignorance resemble an envenomed potion, which draws down souls into the region of dissimilitude. Why therefore should you wonder that many according to life are wolves, many are swine, and many are invested with some other form of irrational animals? For the region about the earth is in reality the abode of Circe; and many souls through immoderate desire are ensnared by her enchanted bowl.”
And must not all those who have the knowledge of any thing agree together on that subject, etc.
Proclus on this part having observed that it is requisite to consider dissension as an argument of ignorance, and concord as an argument of knowledge, for all those that know the truth do not disagree with each other, after this adds as follows:
“But this to some may appear to be false; since those that accord with each other do not all of them possess a scientific knowledge of that respecting which they agree. For, in the present time, the multitude19 through the want of science accord with each other in denying the existence of the Gods. In answer to this doubt, we reply in the first place, that the depraved man cannot accord with himself; for it is necessary, being vicious, that he should be in sedition with his own life; perceiving indeed the truth through his rational nature, but through passions and material phantasies being led to ignorance and contention with himself. The atheist therefore and intemperate man, according to their dianoëtic part, which is adapted to a divine nature, and which is of a beneficent destiny, assert things temperate and divine; but, according to their desires and phantasies, they are atheistically and intemperately affected.20 And, in short, according to the irrational soul, they introduce war in themselves, and all-various perturbation. Every vicious man therefore is discordant with himself; and this being the case, he is much more so with others. For, how can he consent with those external to himself, who is seditiously affected towards himself? All atheistical, intemperate, and unjust men, therefore, dissent with each other, and we can never be harmoniously disposed. while we are unscientific.
“This however is attended with much doubt: for, if dissension is an argument of the want of science, we must say that philosophers are unscientific, since they also disagree with each other, subvert the hypotheses of each other, and patronize different systems. This doubt may be dissolved by saying that dissension is two-fold, one kind being the dissonance of the ignorant, both with themselves and with each other, and the other of the ignorant with the scientific; for both these belong to the ignorant, but by no means to the scientific, since they accord with themselves.21 Nor do the scientific disagree with the unscientific; for, on the contrary, they perfect and adorn them, and call them upwards to their own order; but it is the unscientific who separate themselves from the scientific. For through the dissonance in themselves they dissent from those that are better than themselves. Those that are endued with knowledge, therefore, and those that are deprived of it, do not disagree with each other; nor, in short, must it be said that the scientific differ. Hence the doubt is very far from affecting true philosophers: for these through similitude and sameness are united to each other; and being allotted a knowledge entirely exempt from the unscientific, neither are they discordant with them.
“But the cause of the concord of the scientific is, first, the definite nature of things, and the criteria of knowledge, being the same with all men; and secondly, because, in the first principles of things, intellect is united to itself, and hence every thing which participates of intellect participates of unity. Science therefore is an illumination of intellect, but concord of the one: for it is a union of things different. And hence it is necessary that those which participate of the same science should accord with each other; for dissension and discord fall off from the one.”
Are you sensible that what you said last was not fairly said, Alcibiades? etc.
If the principal end of this dialogue is to lead us to the knowledge of ourselves, and to show that our essence consists in forms and reasons, that it produces all sciences from itself, and knows in itself every thing divine, and the forms of nature; the present passage, which evinces that the cause of all the preceding answers and conclusions is in Alcibiades, must greatly contribute to this end. For the soul does not possess an adventitious knowledge of things, nor, like an unwritten tablet, does it externally receive the images of divine ideas. Now, therefore, Alcibiades begins to know himself, and also to know that he is converted to himself; and knowing his own energy and knowledge, he becomes one with the thing known. This mode of conversion, therefore, leads the soul to the contemplation of its science. Hence it is necessary, that the soul should first receive a knowledge of herself; in the second place, that she should consider the powers which she is allotted; and, in the third place, how she is impelled to ascend from things more imperfect as far as to first causes. Alcibiades, therefore, is now converted through energy to energy, and, through this, to that which energizes. For, at the same time, the subject becomes apparent, which is generative of its proper energies. But, again, through energy he is converted to power, and through this again to essence: for powers are nearer to essence, and finally connect energy with essence. Hence, all these become one and concur with each other, essence being in energy, and energy becoming essential; for essence becomes intellectual in energy, and energy becomes connate to essence according to its perfection.
Again: since ignorance is involuntary to all men, and essentially an ignorance of themselves and of things the most honourable; hence, to ancient and wise men, the method through arguments, which places false opinions parallel to such as are true,22 appeared to be most useful for the purpose of liberating the soul from this ignorance; since it unfolds the discord of false, and the concord of true opinions with each other. For, when the passions are shown to be in opposition with opinions, and, again, the passions with each other, and after the same manner opinions, then the depravity of ignorance becomes most conspicuous; and he who is ignorant perceives his own calamity, and rejoices to be liberated from so great an evil. When therefore any one is not only convinced by arguments that he is ignorant in things of the greatest consequence, but is also confuted by himself, then he in a still greater degree rejoices in and embraces the confutation, and multiplies the remedy produced by it. If, therefore, Socrates in his dialectic conversations evinces that it is the same person who answers and is interrogated, and that the answers do not proceed from the interrogator who appears to confute; it is perfectly evident that he who is thus confuted is confuted by himself, and does not suffer this externally; so that this mode of cure is most appropriate. For by how much the more familiar it appears, by so much the more is the weight and pain of it diminished, and its gentleness and benefit extended; since every thing familiar or domestic is more efficacious as a remedy.
In the third place, we again say that irrational animals are governed by external impulse, being deprived of the power of governing and preserving themselves; but the human soul through its self-motive and self-energetic peculiarity is naturally adapted to energize about itself, to move itself, and to impart to itself good. The confutation therefore which originates from ourselves is adapted to the essence of the soul; and the reasoning which evinces that he who answers is the same with the speaker, evidently accords with our essence and energies. For our purification is not effected externally, but originates inwardly from the soul herself. For all evil is external and adventitious to the soul; but good is internal, as the soul is naturally boniform; and by how much the more perfect she becomes, by so much the more does she receive a self-moved life, since she becomes externally moved through body being suspended from her nature, and through a corporeal sympathy. Hence, whatever she receives externally remains situated out of her, as a phantasm, and an object of sense; but those things alone reside in her which operate from herself in herself, and which are produced by her. She is therefore purified by herself; since reason also beginning from itself ends in itself. But, if he who answers is confuted, he who is confuted is purified; and he who is purified purifies himself according to the idiom of the essence of the soul; he who answers, certainly purifies himself, and is liberated from ignorance, applying confutation to himself, which accords with the self-motive nature of the soul.
Further still: this reasoning sufficiently confirms the doctrine, that disciplines are reminiscences; for this is a great argument in favour of such a dogma, that those who answer, assert all things from themselves; and sufficiently proves that souls draw forth reasons from themselves, only require an exciting cause, and are not unwritten tablets receiving figures externally, but are ever written, the writer subsisting in the recesses of the soul. All men, however, cannot read what is written, their inward eye being buried in the oblivion of generation, through which also they become defiled with the passions. An ablation therefore of that which darkens is alone requisite; but there is no occasion for external and adventitious knowledge. For, the soul contains in herself the gates of truth, but they are barred by terrene and material forms. If therefore any one shall accurately demonstrate that souls are indeed moved by other things, but that they draw forth from themselves scientific answers, he will from this evince the truth of the Platonic assertion, that the soul knows all things, and only requires to be externally excited in order to answer scientifically.
After another manner, likewise, the proposed theorem is adapted to Socrates. For, to purify one who requires such assistance, himself through himself, is the work of a dæmoniacal power; since dæmons do not act upon us externally, but govern us inwardly, as from the stern of a ship. Nor do they purify us as bodies, which are allotted an alter-motive nature, but they take care of us as self-motive beings. For thus they extend to us communications of good, and purifications from the passions. Socrates therefore, who with respect to Alcibiades ranks in the order of a good dæmon, shows him that he is confuted by no other than himself.
In those assertions, was it not said that Alcibiades, etc.
It is rightly said by the Stoics, that the man who is void of erudition accuses others, and not himself, as the causes of his infelicity; but that he who has made some advances in knowledge refers to himself the cause of all that he does or says badly; and that he who is properly disciplined, neither accuses himself nor others; since he does not neglect any thing that is requisite, but is himself the leader of appropriate invention. For these things are now clearly indicated to us in Alcibiades; since, labouring under two-fold ignorance, he does not accuse himself, but Socrates: but afterwards, when he is transferred to simple ignorance, he accuses himself of dissension, and not his leader; and if he ever became scientific, he would neither accuse himself nor another; for then nothing in him would be dissonant and unharmonized, but all the motions of his soul would be clear, all would be effable, all intellectual. For discord in the multitude with themselves very properly happens, because they receive some things from sense, others from the phantasy, and others from opinion; some things from anger, and others from desire. For such like passions in men are not only excited from dogmas, as the Stoics say; but, on the contrary, on account of such passions and appetites, they change their opinions, and receive such as are depraved in the place of such as are worthy. These therefore, from many principles and powers of a worse condition, receiving in themselves multiform motions, possess a soul dissentient and unharmonized. But the scientific from one principle prior to themselves receive the whole of knowledge: for intellect imparts to them principles; and true dogmas are the progeny of intellect, subsisting in conjunction with simplicity. From such a uniform principle, therefore, all things accord with each other.
Indeed, what is now said by Socrates very seasonably follows what has been demonstrated, and is referred to Alcibiades himself, representing him as accusing himself. For, in order to produce the most striking confutations, the ancients ascribed to other persons the most severe assertions; and this method they adopted in common. Thus Homer refers the reproving of Achilles to Peleus,23 and Demosthenes the reprehending of the Athenians to the Greeks in common: and in like manner Plato refers to laws and philosophy the reproving of his hearers. For confutations are diminished when they are transferred to others who are absent from us. But when he who confutes is not another, but a man confutes himself, then the confutation appears, to the confuted, to be much less painful. This therefore Socrates effects. For he represents Alcibiades confuted by Alcibiades; mitigating by this method the vehemence of the reproof, and unfolding the alliance of the reprover to the reproved.
Proclus concludes his comment on this passage, as follows:
“That ignorance is a mania of an extended duration, and especially two-fold ignorance, is a paradox, but is at the same time most true. For, as he who is insane is ignorant both of himself and others, this also is the case with him who labours under two-fold ignorance. And, as to the insane a physician is of no use though present, so neither is the man of science, when present, beneficial to the doubly ignorant. For these think that they are no less knowing than the truly scientific; and as the Athenian guest says, they inflame their soul with insolence, in consequence of thinking that they do not want the assistance of any one, and that they may act in every respect in the same manner as the scientific.”
For I suppose that justice and interest are not the same thing, etc.
The dogma, that the just is the same with the profitable, contains the whole of moral philosophy. For those who suppose these to be different, must necessarily admit, that felicity receives its completion from externals; since, in these, the profitable appears very often to be separated from the just. But those who consider both to be the same, and acknowledge that the true good of man is in the soul, must necessarily refer each of us to soul. Hence Socrates thinks, that this is the beginning of the whole of the philosophy concerning the end of man, and of the knowledge of ourselves. But the Epicureans and Stoics, who place the end of man in a life according to nature, and those who give completion to our good from things necessary, as the Peripatetics, cannot genuinely preserve the sameness of the just and the profitable. And, in like manner, this cannot be effected by those who make man to be an animated body, or a composite from body and soul. For some fly from wounds and death unjustly, that the animal may be saved; since the good of every animal consists in a subsistence according to nature; so that, in this case, the profitable differs from the just. But those who place the end of man in soul unindigent of corporeal possessions, and who assert that man is a soul using the body as an instrument, these admit that the just is the same with the profitable: for they place both in the soul, and separate the passions of the instruments from those by whom they are employed.
Suppose interest to be a thing ever so different from justice, etc.
Proclus in commenting on this part observes, that souls express the forms of those things to which they conjoin themselves.
“Hence,” says he, “when they are assimilated to intellect, they vindicate to themselves sameness and immutability, both in their dogmas and in their life; but when they become agglutinated to generation, they always pursue what is novel and puerile, at different times are led to different opinions, and have no percep1ion of the stable reasons of the soul. But when Socrates says, ‘One must bring you a pure and immaculate proof;’24 this, which is a metaphor taken from garments, indicates, that souls of a naturally more excellent disposition possessing a conception of the immaculate purity of the gods, and carrying this about them in images, are studious of apparent purity; since the essence of divine vestments is undefiled, and an immaterial purity, in which it is requisite souls should be instructed, purifying their connate vehicles, and preserving their garments uncontaminated by generation, and not being wholly attentive to the purity of their external vestments.”
Why, my good friend, suppose me to be the assembly and the people, etc.
Proclus here observes, that it is the province of the same science to persuade one person and many; which assertion is, as it were, a certain hymn and encomium of science. For the great excellence of science is evident in this, that according to an imitation of intellect the same science fills an individual, and, at the same time, all that receive it; that it is indivisible, and, being established in itself, perfects all its participants; and that, like intellect, it communicates itself to all, and is separate from each. These things evince that our essence is separate from body, and abides in itself, since science, which is our perfection, is allotted such a power. For corporeal powers diminish themselves in their communications; but science, remaining one and the same, sufficient to itself and undiminished, imparts itself, in a similar manner, to one and to many. Thus, too, the soul is present to the whole body and all its parts, though one part participates it in a different manner from another.
This is said, because Alcibiades had said, just before: “No harm, I think, will come to me that way,” according to opinion, and not according to science. For the οι μαντικοι, or the prophetic, are doxastic,25 and not scientific; but thole that are not only μαντικοι but, prophets, are scientific, and possess something better than human science. It also indicates, that the impulses of more naturally excellent souls are excited in a certain respect by more excellent natures. Hence they accomplish much good contrary to expectation, though energizing without science.
Tell me then, do you say, that some just actions are advantageous, etc.
The proposed inquiry concerning things just and profitable, whether they are the same, or are divided from each other according to the diversity of subjects, contributes to the whole of philosophy, and adheres to the whole truth of things. For all ethical discussion and the invention of the end of man depend on this dogma, and the speculation of our essence becomes through this especially apparent. For, if the just is, in reality, the same with the profitable, and these are not separated from each other, our good will consist in virtue alone; and neither will the particulars which are beheld about the body contribute any thing as goods to the felicity of human life; nor, by a much greater reason, will things external to the body procure the full perfection of good; but one only good is established in souls themselves, unmingled, pure, immaterial, and is neither filled with corporeal nor with external goods or evils. But if there is something just, as according to Alcibiades there is, but unprofitable, and again something profitable but unjust, then apparent goods, such as health and riches, must necessarily give completion to a happy life. For mankind perform many things for the sake of these, and, surveying the good which they contain, abandon the love of justice. And to these, indeed, those who for the sake of what is just despise the flourishing condition of the body, and the acquisition of wealth, appear to act justly, and in a manner laudable, to the multitude, but by no means profitably, because they do not perceive that the profitable is stably seated in the soul herself, but consider it as situated in things scattered, and which have an external subsistence, and are necessary rather than good. But these men give phantasy and sense the precedency to intellect and science.
Again: if the just is the same with the profitable, according to the assertion of Socrates, then the essence of man will be defined according to the soul herself; but the body will neither be a part of us, nor will give completion to our nature. For, if the body gives completion to the man, the good of the body will be human good, and the beautiful will be useless not only to the body, but to the man; but the prerogatives of the parts, and such things as are contrary, will pervade to the nature of the whole, since the whole will be allotted its being in the parts. The passions of the instruments, however, do not change the habits of those that use them, though they are often impediments to their energies. So that, if the just is the same with the profitable, where the just is, there also will the profitable be. But the just subsists in the soul, so that the profitable also will be in the soul. But where our good particularly resides, there also we possess our being. For our essence is not in one thing, and our perfection according to another, but where the form of man is, there also is the perfection of man. In soul therefore is the man. For every being possesses the good conjoined with its essence; since the first being26 is for the sake of the good, and subsist about the good. Where being therefore is to all things, there also well-being resides. But it is impossible for man to be body, and to possess his perfection in something else external to body. It is likewise impossible that man should be both body and soul, and that human good should at the same time be defined according to soul alone.
Further still: the desire of good preserves those by whom it is desired: for, as Socrates says in the Republic, good preserves, and evil corrupts every thing. If therefore, possessing good in the soul, we also in soul possess our being, the desire of good will be natural to us; but if our good is in soul, but our being consists from body and soul conjoined, it must necessarily happen that we shall desire the corruption of ourselves, if good is immaterial and external to the body. However, as nothing, so neither does he who doubts the truth of this position desire his own destruction. That the proposed inquiry therefore contributes to moral philosophy, and to the invention of the nature of man, is, I think, perfectly apparent.
That it also affords wonderful auxiliaries to theology we shall learn, if we call to mind that the just contains the whole essence of souls; for, these having their subsistence according to all analogies27 conformably to justice, it is evident that these distinguish its essence and powers. But, again, the beautiful characterizes an intellectual essence. Hence, as Aristotle28 says, intellect is lovely and desirable; for all things that participate of intellect are beautiful; and matter, which of itself is void of beauty, because it is formless, at the same time that it is invested with figures and forms, receives also the representations of the power of beauty. Lastly, the good characterizes the whole of a divine essence. For every thing divine according to a divine hyparxis is good; since the Gods are the causes of being; and if they cause all things to subsist about themselves, they are essentially good, and illuminate all things with good. The good therefore is bound in souls according to the just, through the beautiful; and every order of souls is united to the Gods through intellectual essences as media; so that an incorporeal nature is one and uniform, and the whole of it verges to the good; but division is in the images of this nature, which are not able to express primary causes according to their indivisible essence. From these things therefore it is evident that the present demonstration contributes in no small degree to theology, and, as I may say, to the whole of philosophy.
But the whole syllogism which collects that the just is profitable is as follows: Every thing just is beautiful: Every thing beautiful is good: Every thing just, therefore, is good. But the good is the same with the profitable: Every thing just, therefore, is profitable. This syllogism is primarily in the first figure, comprehending the minor in the major terms, and evincing the major terms reciprocating with the minor. For, again, beginning from the good, we shall be able to form the same conclusion. Every thing good is beautiful: Every thing beautiful is just: Every thing good, therefore, is just. But the profitable is the same with the good: The just, therefore, is the same with the profitable.
In the first principles of things, indeed, the good is exempt from the beautiful, and the beautiful is placed above justice. For the first of these is prior to intelligibles, established in inaccessible retreats: the second subsists occultly in the first of intelligibles,29 and more clearly in the extremity of that order:30 and the third of these subsists uniformly in the first order of intellectuals,31 and secondarily at the extremity of the intellectual progression of Gods. And, again, the good subsists in the Gods, the beautiful in intellect, and the just in souls. Whence the just is indeed beautiful, but not every thing beautiful is just. And every thing beautiful is good, but the fountain of all good is expanded above all beauty. And the just indeed is good, being conjoined with the good through beauty as the medium; but the good is beyond both. Thus also you will find, by looking to the last of things, that the material cause, although it is good, is base, and void of beauty: for it participates indeed of the one, but is destitute of form. And a sensible nature possesses indeed a representation of beauty, but not of justice. For, as Socrates says in the Phædrus:
“there is no splendour of justice and temperance in these sensible similitudes; but beauty has alone this privilege, that it is the most apparent, and the most lovely of all things.”
Hence where the just is, there also is the beautiful; and where the beautiful, there also is the good, whether you are willing to look to the first principles, or to the illuminations of them as far as to the last of things. For all things participate of the good; for it is the principle of all: but the beautiful is alone received by the participants of form; and the just by those natures alone that participate of soul. But in the middle centre of all things, such as the soul is, all these are connected with each other, the good, the beautiful, the just. And the good of it is beautiful, and the just is at the same time beautiful and good.
Nor is the assertion true in this triad only, but also in many other particulars. Thus, for instance, in the principles of things being is beyond life, and life is beyond intellect.32 And again, in the effects of these, not every thing which participates of being participates also of life, nor every thing which participates of life participates also of intellect; but, on the contrary, all intellectual natures live, and are, and vital natures partake of being. All these however are united with each other in the soul. Hence, being in it is life and intellect; life is intellect and essence; and intellect is essence and life. For there is one simplicity in it, and one subsistence; nor are life and intelligence there adventitious; but its intellect is vital and essential, its life is essentially intellectual, and its essence is vital and intellectual. All things therefore are every where in it, and it is one from all things. According to the same reasoning, therefore, its good is replete with beauty and justice; its beauty is perfect and good, and entirely just; and the just in it is mingled with beauty and good. The subject indeed is one, but the reasons33 are different. And again, neither must we consider the identity of those three according to reasons, nor their difference according to the subject; but we must preserve the reasons of them different from each other, and the subject one, because every where these three are consubsistent with each other, according to the energies of the soul. For, as the reasons of the virtues are different, but it is one thing which partakes of them all, and it is not possible to participate of justice and be destitute of temperance, or to participate of these without the other virtues; in like manner this triad is united with itself, and every thing good is at the same time full of the beautiful, and the just, and each of the latter is introduced in conjunction with the former. Hence Socrates conjoins the just with the good, through the beautiful: for this is their medium and bond. But the most beautiful bond, says Timæus, is that which makes itself and the things bound eminently one. The beautiful, therefore, much more than any other bond collects and unites those two, the just and the good. And thus much concerning the whole demonstration.
If, however, other demonstrations are requisite of this proposition, which says, Every thing just is beautiful, let us make it more evident through many arguments. Since therefore the soul is a multitude, and one part of it is first, another middle, and another last, when do we say that justice is produced in the soul? Is it when the middle, or the last part, endeavours to rule over the better part, or when the first governs the middle, and the middle the last? But, if when the worse rule over the more excellent, the worse will not be naturally such: for that to which dominion belongs is naturally more excellent, and more honourable. If, therefore, it is impossible that the same thing can be naturally better and worse, it is necessary that the just should then be beheld in souls themselves, when that which is best in them governs the whole life, and the middle being in subjection to the better part, has dominion over the last part. For then each of the parts ranks according to its desert, the one governing with royal authority; another acting as a satellite, and another ministering to the powers of the more excellent. The just therefore is naturally distributive of that which is adapted to each of the parts of the soul. It is also the cause to each of performing its proper duty, and of possessing its proper rank, and thus preserves good order about the whole soul. But order and symmetry are naturally beautiful. Justice, therefore, is the source of beauty to the soul, and is itself beautiful.
The just however is two-fold; one consisting in contracts, and which regards arithmetical equality, and the other in distributions, and which entirely requires geometric equality. In contracts, therefore, it observes arithmetical equality, that we may not act unjustly by our associate, receiving from him more than is proper; but by fitly distributing unequal things to such as are unequal, it observes geometric equality, so that such as is the difference of persons with respect to each other, such also may be the difference as to worth of the things distributed, to each other. Every thing just, therefore, is, as we have said, equal; but every thing equal is beautiful. For the unequal is base, and void of symmetry, since it is also incongruous. Every thing just, therefore, is beautiful.
In the third place, beauty no otherwise subsists in bodies, than when form rules over matter; for matter is void of beauty and base; and when form is vanquished by matter, it is filled with baseness, and a privation of form in consequence of becoming similar to the subject nature. If, therefore, in the soul our intellectual part ranks in the order of form, but our irrational part, of matter (for intellect and reason belong to the coordination of bound,34 but the irrational nature to that of infinity, since it is naturally without measure and indefinite)—this being the case, it necessarily follows that beauty must be perceived in the soul when reason has dominion, and the irrational forms of life are vanquished by reason and prudence. The just, indeed, gives empire to reason, and servitude to the irrational nature. For it distributes to each what is fit; dominion to the ruling power, and servile obedience to the ministrant part; since the artificer of the universe subjected to us the irrational nature, and prepared it as a vehicle to our reason. The just therefore is naturally beautiful, and is the cause of beauty to the soul.
In the fourth place, the just is perfect and definite; since the unjust is imperfect and indefinite, wanders infinitely and never stops, and secretly withdraws itself from the boundary of justice. The just, therefore, introduces measure and bound to whatever it is present to, and renders all things perfect. Hence it is the source of beauty to the soul: for the beautiful is connate with the perfect and the measured, because deformity subsists with the unmeasured and the indefinite. The just, therefore, is at one and the same time perfect, moderate, bounded, and beautiful; and these are not naturally separated from each other.
In the fifth place, the demiurgus adorned this universe by justice; for he bound it with the most beautiful of bonds, and rendered it indissoluble through the power of this analogy, which holds all its parts together, and makes it every where friendly to itself. But that which is similar to the universe, the most beautiful of things visible, is certainly itself beautiful. The just, therefore, is also according to this reasoning beautiful, from the nature of which it is by no means disjoined,—That every thing just, therefore, is beautiful, is from hence apparent.
The proposition consequent to this, that every thing beautiful is good, Socrates extends, but Alcibiades does not admit. This was owing to his considering the beautiful to be beautiful by position, and not by nature. Hence he also grants that the just is beautiful; for it is thus considered by the multitude, and separates the beautiful from the good. For to the former of these he gives a subsistence merely from opinion, asserting that the beautiful is the becoming, and what is generally admitted: but to the latter he gives a subsistence according to truth; for he does not say that the good is from position. This proposition, therefore, that every thing beautiful is good, we shall show to be in every respect true. This then is apparent to every one, that the beautiful is naturally lovely, since last beauty which is borne along in images is lovely, and agitates souls at the first view of it, in consequence of retaining a vestige of divine beauty. For this privilege, says Socrates in the Phædrus, beauty alone possesses, to be the most apparent and the most lovely of all things. Indeed, the beautiful (το καλον) is naturally lovely, whether it is so denominated δια το καλειν, because it calls others to itself, or δια το κηλειν, because it charms those that are able to behold it. Hence also love is said to lead the lover to beauty. But every thing lovely is desirable; for love is a robust and vehement desire of something. And whatever loves desires something of which it is indigent. But every thing desirable is good, whether it is truly or only apparently good. For many things which are not good are desirable, because they appear as good to those that desire them. It is clearly therefore shown by Socrates, in the Meno, that he who knows evil, such as it is in its own nature, cannot desire it. Everything desirable therefore is good; and if it be principally desirable, it will also be principally good. But if it be only apparently desirable, such also will be its good. In short, in each of the terms this is to be added, viz. the apparent, or the true. For, if a thing is apparently beautiful, it is also apparently lovely and desirable, and its good is conjoined with beauty of such a kind. But if it is naturally beautiful, it is also naturally lovely and desirable. What then in this care will the desirable be? Shall we say, evil? But it is impossible when known that it should be desirable by any being; for all beings desire good. But there is no desire of evil, nor yet of that which is neither good nor evil; for every thing of this kind is performed for the sake of something else, and is not the end of any thing. But every thing desirable is an end; and, if any thing evil is desirable, it must be so because it appears to be good. In like manner, if any thing not beautiful is beloved, it is loved because it appears to be beautiful. If, therefore, every thing beautiful is lovely, but every thing lovely is desirable, and every thing desirable is good, hence every thing beautiful is good. And, reciprocally, every thing good is desirable. This then is immediately evident. Every thing desirable is lovely: for love and desire are directed to the same object; but they differ from each other according to the remission or vehemence of the desire; since Socrates, also, in the Banquet, leads love to the good through the beautiful, and says that the good is lovely, as well as the beautiful. If therefore every good is desirable, every thing desirable is lovely, and every thing lovely is beautiful (for love is proximate to beauty), hence every thing good is beautiful. Let no one therefore say that the good is above beauty nor that the lovely is two-fold; for we do not now discourse concerning the first principles of things, but concerning the beautiful and the good which are in us. The good, therefore, which is in us, is at the same time both desirable and lovely.—Hence we obtain the good through love, and a vehement pursuit of it. And if any one directs his attention to himself, he will perfectly perceive that this good excites in us a more efficacious love than sensible beauty. The good therefore is beautiful. Hence Diotima, in the Banquet, advises lovers to betake themselves, after sensible beauty, to the beauty in actions and studies, in the sciences and virtues, and, having exercised the amatory eye of the soul in these, to ascend from thence to intellect, and the primary and divine beauty which is there. Hence too we say that in these the good of the soul consists. For what is there in us more beautiful than virtue or science? Or what more base than the contraries to these?
But what as to actions which are beautiful, etc.
The multitude falsely think that wounds and death are evils. For what among these can be an evil to us whose essence consists in soul? since neither do the passions of instruments change the virtues of those that use them. Neither, therefore, does the carpenter, if his saw happens to be blunted, lose his art; nor, if our felicity consisted in the carpenter’s art, should we call any one unhappy who was deprived of his saw; since, as the soul has an instrument, so also we may perceive other instruments of the body, through which the body moves things external to it, the defects of which do not injure the good habit of the body. After the same manner, therefore, the passions of the body do not pervade to the soul; so that death, though it is an evil of the body, yet is not an evil of the soul. Hence, if the beauty of action is in the soul, and the evil of it in something else, it has not yet been shown that the same thing is beautiful and evil.
Again, we may also logically prove that the essential is one thing, and the accidental another; and Socrates chooses this mode of solution as more known to the young man. For a brave action is essentially beautiful, but evil, if it is so, accidentally, because it happens to him who acts bravely to die. For let death, if you will, be among the number of evils; yet a brave action, so far as it is brave and therefore beautiful, is not evil, but it is evil only accidentally. The beautiful, therefore, is one thing, and evil another; nor is a thing so far as beautiful shown to be evil, but only accidentally on account of death. We may also say that he is ignorant of the essence of man who separates the good from the beautiful, and places the former in one thing, and the latter in another, referring the good to body, and the beautiful to the energy of the soul. Socrates, however, does not adopt this solution, because he has not yet demonstrated that our essence is separate from body. To a man therefore such as Alcibiades, who thought that the body gives completion to our essence, it was not yet possible to say that death, whether it is an evil or not, ought to be defined as one of the things accidental to man, and that he ought not to confound the good of the body with the good of man, nor refer the evil of the instrument to him by whom it is used.
And thus much from the invaluable commentary of Proclus on this dialogue. The intelligent reader will doubtless regret with me that this Manuscript Commentary is nothing more than a fragment, as it scarcely extends to more than a third part of the Dialogue. From the indefatigable genius of Proclus, there can be no doubt but that he left it entire; but, like most of his other writings which are extant, it has been dreadfully mutilated either by the barbarous fraud of monks, or the ravages of time. The reader will not, I trust, hesitate to pronounce that the former of these may have been the cause of this mutilation, when he is informed that an impostor, who calls himself Dionysius the Areopagite, and who for many centuries was believed to have been contemporary with St. Paul, has in his Treatise on the Divine Names stolen entire chapters from one of the works of Proclus, one copy of which only is fortunately preserved in manuscript. This assertion I am able to prove.
1. The whole of this Introduction is extracted from the MS. Commentary of Proclus on this dialogue; excepting some occasional elucidations by the translator.—T.
2. For, the perceptions of intellect being intuitive, whatever it sees it sees collectively, at once, and without time.
3. This is the case with the sensible universe, considered as a whole.
4. Two-fold ignorance takes place when a man is ignorant that he is ignorant; and this was the case with Alcibiades in the first part of this dialogue, and is the disease of the multitude.
1. Socrates, we are told by Plutarch, had discovered in the countenance of Alcibiades, then in his puerile age, the signs of an ingenuous and noble disposition. Having thence conceived expectations of the boy’s becoming an extraordinary man, he had from that time, as we are told in this dialogue, been a constant observer of all his motions, sayings and actions. When Alcibiades was grown up to his full stature, he was followed and surrounded, wherever he went, by such as admired the handsomeness of his person. They flattered his vanity; but the higher opinion they raised in him of himself, the more he thought himself above them. His conduct towards them was suitable to his thoughts, was such as might become an absolute lord toward his vassals. See Plutarch’s Life of Alcibiades.—S.
2. As there is no vacuum in corporeal, so neither in incorporeal natures. Between divine essences, therefore, which are the first of things, and partial essences such as ours, which are nothing more than the dregs of the rational nature, there must necessarily be a middle rank of beings, in order that divinity may be connected with man, and that the progression of things may form an entire whole, suspended like the golden chain of Homer from the summit of Olympus. This middle rank of beings, considered according to a two-fold division, consists of dæmons and heroes, the latter of which is proximate to partial souls such as ours, and the former to divine natures, just as air and water subsist between fire and earth. Hence whatever is ineffable and occult in the gods, dæmons and heroes express and unfold. They likewise conciliate all things, and are the sources of the harmonic consent and sympathy of all things with each other. They transmit divine gifts to us, and equally carry back ours to the divinities. But the characteristics of divine natures are unity, permanency in themselves, a subsistence as an immovable cause of motion, transcendent providence, and which possesses nothing in common with the subject of their providential energies; and these characteristics are preserved in them according to essence, power and energy. On the other hand, the characteristics of partial souls are, a declination to multitude and motion, a conjunction with the gods, an aptitude to receive something from other natures, and to mingle together all things in itself, and through itself; and these characteristics they also possess according to essence, power and energy. Such then being the peculiarities of the two extremes, we shall find that those of dæmons are, to contain in themselves the gifts of divine natures, in a more inferior manner indeed than the gods, but yet so as to comprehend the conditions of subordinate natures, under the idea of a divine essence. In other words, the prerogatives of deity characterize, and absorb as it were by their powerful light, whatever dæmons possess peculiar to inferior beings. Hence they are multiplied indeed, but unitedly—mingled, but yet so that the unmingled predominates—and are moved, but with stability. On the contrary, heroes possess unity, identity, permanency, and every excellence, under the condition of multitude, motion, and mixture; viz. the prerogatives of subordinate predominate in these over the characteristics of superior natures. In short, dæmons and heroes are composed from the properties of the two extremes—gods and partial souls; but in dæmons there is more of the divine, and in heroes more of the human nature.
Having premised thus much, the Platonic reader will, I doubt not, gratefully accept the following admirable account of dæmons in general, and also of the dæmon of Socrates, from the MS. Commentary of Proclus on this dialogue.
“Let us now speak in the first place concerning dæmons in general; in the next place, concerning those that are allotted us in common; and, in the third place, concerning the dæmon of Socrates. For it is always requisite that demonstrations should begin from things more universal, and proceed from these as far as to individuals. For this mode of proceeding is natural, and is more adopted to science. Dæmons therefore, deriving their first subsistence from the vivific goddess,* and flowing from thence as from a certain fountain, are allotted an essence characterized by soul. This essence in those of a superior order is more intellectual and more perfect according to hyparxis;† in those of a middle order, it is more rational; and in those which rank in the third degree, and which subsist at the extremity of the dæmoniacal order, it is various, more irrational and more material. Possessing therefore an essence of this kind, they are distributed in conjunction with the gods, as being allotted a power ministrant to deity. Hence they are in one way subservient to the liberated gods‡ (απολυτοι) who are the leaders of wholes prior to the world; and in another to the mundane gods, who proximately preside over the parts of the universe. For there is one division of dæmons, according to the twelve supercelestial gods, and another according to all the idioms of the mundane gods. For every mundane god is the leader of a certain dæmoniacal order, to which he proximately imparts his power; viz. if he is a demiurgic god, he imparts a demiurgic power; if immutable, an undefiled power; if telesiurgic, a perfective power. And about each of the divinities there is an innumerable multitude of dæmons, and which are dignified with the same appellations as their leading gods. Hence they rejoice when they are called by the names of Jupiter, Apollo, and Hermes, etc. as expressing the idiom or peculiarity of their proper deities. And from these, mortal natures also participate of divine influxions. And thus animals and plants are fabricated, bearing the images of different gods; dæmons proximately imparting to these the representations of their leaders. But the gods in an exempt manner supernally preside over dæmons; and through this, last natures sympathize with such as are first. For the representations of first are seen in last natures; and the causes of things last are comprehended in primary beings. The middle genera too of dæmons give completion to wholes, the communion of which they bind and connect; participating indeed of the gods, but participated by mortal natures. He therefore will not err who asserts that the mundane artificer established the centres of the order of the universe in dæmons; since Diotima also assigns them this order, that of binding together divine and mortal natures, of deducing supernal streams, elevating all secondary natures to the gods, and giving completion to wholes through the connection of a medium. We must not therefore assent to their doctrine, who say that dæmons are the souls of men that have changed the present life. For it is not proper to consider a dæmoniacal nature according to habitude (κατα σχεσιν) as the same with a nature essentially dæmoniacal; nor to assert that the perpetual medium of all mundane natures consists from a life conversant with multiform mutations. For a dæmoniacal guard subsists always the same, connecting the mundane wholes; but soul does not always thus retain its own order, as Socrates says in the Republic; since at different times it chooses different lives. Nor do we praise those who make certain of the gods to be dæmons, such as the erratic gods, according to Amelius; but we are persuaded by Plato, who calls the gods the rulers of the universe, but subjects to them the herds of dæmons; and we shall every where preserve the doctrine of Diotima, who assigns the middle order, between all divine and mortal natures, to a dæmoniacal essence. Let this then be the conception respecting the whole of the dæmoniacal order in common.
“In the next place let us speak concerning the dæmons which are allotted mankind. For of these dæmons, which as we have said rank in the middle order, the first and highest are divine dæmons, and who often appear as gods, through their transcendent similitude to the divinities. For, in short, that which is first in every order preserves the form of the nature prior to itself. Thus, the first intellect is a god, and the most ancient of souls is intellectual: and hence of dæmons the highest genus, as being proximate to the gods, is uniform and divine. The next to these in order are those dæmons who participate of an intellectual idiom, and preside over the ascent and descent of souls, and who unfold into light and deliver to all things the productions of the gods. The third are those who distribute the productions of divine souls to secondary natures, and complete the bond of those that receive defluxions from thence. The fourth are those that transmit the efficacious powers of whole natures to things generated and corrupted, and who inspire partial natures with life, order, reasons, and the all-various perfect operations which things mortal are able to effect. The fifth are corporeal, and bind together the extremes in bodies. For, how can perpetual accord with corruptible bodies, and efficients with effects, except through this medium? For it is this ultimate middle nature which has dominion over corporeal goods, and provides for all natural prerogatives. The sixth in order are those that revolve about matter, connect the powers which descend from celestial to sublunary matter, perpetually guard this matter, and defend the shadowy representation of forms which it contains.
“Dæmons therefore, as Diotima also says, being many and all-various, the highest of them conjoin souls proceeding from their father, to their leading gods: for every god, as we have said, is the leader in the first place of dæmons, and in the next of partial souls. For the Demiurgus disseminated these, as Timæus says, into the sun and moon, and the other instruments of time. These divine dæmons, therefore, are those which are essentially allotted to souls, and conjoin them to their proper leaders: and every soul, though it revolves together with its leading deity, requires a dæmon of this kind. But dæmons of the second rank preside over the ascensions and descensions of souls; and from these the souls of the multitude derive their elections. For the most perfect souls, who are conversant with generation in an undefiled manner, as they choose a life conformable to their presiding god, so they live according to a divine dæmon, who conjoined them to their proper deity when they dwelt on high. Hence the Egyptian priest admired Plotinus, as being governed by a divine dæmon. To souls therefore who live as those that will shortly return to the intelligible world whence they came, the supernal is the same with the dæmon which attends them here; but to imperfect souls the essential is different from the dæmon that attends them at their birth.
“If these things then are rightly asserted, we must not assent to those who make our rational soul a dæmon. For a dæmon is different from man, as Diotima says, who places dæmons between gods and men, and as Socrates also evinces when he divides a dæmoniacal oppositely to the human nature: ‘for,’ says he, ‘not a human but a dæmoniacal obstacle detains me.’ But man is a soul using the body as an instrument. A dæmon, therefore, is not the same with the rational soul.
“This also is evident from Plato in the Timæus, where he says that intellect has in us the relation of a dæmon. But this is only true as far as pertains to analogy. For a dæmon according to essence is different from a dæmon according to analogy. For in many instances that which proximately presides, subsisting in the order of a dæmon with respect to that which is inferior, is called a dæmon. Thus Jupiter in Orpheus calls his father Saturn an illustrious dæmon; and Plato, in the Timæus, calls those gods who proximately preside over, and orderly distribute the realms of generation, dæmons: ‘for,’ says he, ‘to speak concerning other dæmons, and to know their generation, exceeds the ability of human nature.’ But a dæmon according to analogy is that which proximately presides over any thing, though it should be a god, or though it should be some one of the natures posterior to the gods. And the soul that through similitude to the dæmoniacal genus produces energies more wonderful than those which belong to human nature, and which suspends the whole of its life from dæmons, is a dæmon κατα σχεσιν, according to habitude, i.e. proximity or alliance. Thus, as it appears to me, Socrates in the Republic calls those, dæmons, who have lived well, and who in consequence of this are transferred to a better condition of being, and to more holy places. But an essential dæmon is neither called a dæmon through habitude to secondary natures, nor through an assimilation to something different from itself; but is allotted this peculiarity from himself, and is defined by a certain summit, or flower of essence, (hyparxis,) by appropriate powers, and by different modes of energies. In short, the rational soul is called in the Timæus the dæmon of the animal. But we investigate the dæmon of man, and not of the animal; that which governs the rational soul itself, and not its instrument; and that which leads the soul to its judges, after the dissolution of the animal, as Socrates says in the Phædo. For, when the animal is no more, the dæmon which the soul was allotted while connected with the body, conducts it to its judge. For, if the soul possesses that dæmon while living in the body, which is said to lead it to judgment after death, this dæmon must be the dæmon of the man, and not of the animal alone. To which we may add, that, beginning from on high, it governs the whole of our composition.
“Nor again, dismissing the rational soul, must it be said that a dæmon is that which energizes in the soul: as, for instance, that in those who live according to reason, reason is the dæmon; in those that live according to anger, the irascible part; and in those that live according to desire, the desiderative part. Nor must it be said that the nature which proximately presides over that which energizes in our life, is a dæmon: as, for instance, that reason is the dæmon of the irascible, and anger of those that live according to desire. For, in the first place, to assert that dæmons are parts of our soul, is to admire human life in an improper degree, and oppose the division of Socrates in the Republic, who after gods and dæmons places the heroic and human race, and blames the poets for introducing in their poems heroes in no respect better than men, but subject to similar passions. By this accusation, therefore, it is plain that Socrates was very far from thinking that dæmons, who are of a sublimer order than heroes, are to be ranked among the parts and powers of the soul. For from this doctrine it will follow that things more excellent according to essence give completion to such as are subordinate. And in the second place, from this hypothesis, mutations of lives would also introduce multiform mutations of dæmons. For the avaricious character is frequently changed into an ambitious life, this again into a life which is formed by right opinion, and this last into a scientific life. The dæmon therefore will vary according to these changes: for the energizing part will be different at different times. If, therefore, either this energizing part itself is a dæmon, or that part which has an arrangement prior to it, dæmons will be changed together with the mutation of human life, and the same person will have many dæmons in one life; which is of all things the most impossible. For the soul never changes in one life the government of its dæmon; but it is the same dæmon which presides over us till we are brought before the judges of our conduct, as also Socrates asserts in the Phædo.
“Again, those who consider a partial intellect, or that intellect which subsists at the extremity of the intellectual order, as the same with the dæmon which is assigned to man, appear to me to confound the intellectual idiom with the dæmoniacal essence. For all dæmons subsist in the extent of souls, and rank as the next in order to divine souls; but the intellectual order is different from that of soul, and is neither allotted the same essence, nor power, nor energy.
“Further still: this also may be said, that souls enjoy intellect then only when they convert themselves to it, receive its light, and conjoin their own with intellectual energy; but they experience the presiding care of a dæmoniacal nature through the whole of life, and in every thing which proceeds from fate and providence. For it is the dæmon that governs the whole of our life, and that fulfills the elections which we made prior to generation, together with the gifts of fate, and of those gods that preside over fate. It is likewise the dæmon that supplies and measures the illumination; from providence. And as souls, indeed, we are suspended from intellect, but as souls using the body we require the aid of a dæmon. Hence Plato, in the Phædrus, calls intellect the governor of the soul; but he every where calls a dæmon the inspector and guardian of mankind. And no one who considers the affair rightly, will find any other one and proximate providence of every thing pertaining to us, besides that of a dæmon. For intellect, as we have said, is participated by the rational soul, but not by the body; and nature is participated by the body, but not by the dianoëtic part. And further still, the rational soul rules over anger and desire, but it has no dominion over fortuitous events. But the dæmon alone moves, governs, and orderly disposes, all our affairs. For he gives perfection to reason, measures the passions, inspires nature, connects the body, supplies things fortuitous, accomplishes the decrees of fate, and imparts the gifts of providence. In short, he is the king of every thing in and about us, and is the pilot of the whole of our life. And thus much concerning our allotted dæmons.
“In the next place, with respect to the dæmon of Socrates, these three things are to be particularly considered. First, that he not only ranks as a dæmon, but also as a god: for in the course of this dialogue he clearly says, ‘I have long been of opinion that the god did not as yet direct me to hold any conversation with you.’
“He calls the same power, therefore, a dæmon and a god. And in the Apology he more clearly evinces that this dæmon is allotted a divine transcendency, considered as ranking in a dæmoniacal nature. And this is what we before said, that the dæmons of divine souls, and who make choice of an intellectual and anagogic life, are divine, transcending the whole of a dæmoniacal genus, and being the first participants of the gods. For, as is a dæmon among gods, such also is a god among dæmons. But among the divinities the hyparxis is divine; but in dæmons, on the contrary, the idiom of their essence is dæmoniacal, but the analogy which they bear to divinity evinces their essence to be godlike. For, on account of their transcendency with respect to other dæmons, they frequently appear as gods. With great propriety, therefore, does Socrates call his dæmon a god: for he belonged to the first and highest dæmons. Hence Socrates was most perfect, being governed by such a presiding power, and conducting himself by the will of such a leader and guardian of his life. This then was one of the illustrious prerogatives of the dæmon of Socrates. The second was this: that Socrates perceived a certain voice proceeding from his dæmon. For this is asserted by him in the Theætetus and in the Phædrus. And this voice is the signal from the dæmon, which he speaks of in the Theages: and again in the Phædrus, when he was about to pass over the river, he experienced the accustomed signal from the dæmon. What, then, does Socrates indicate by these assertions, and what was the voice through which he says the dæmon signified to him his will?
“In the first place, we must say that Socrates, through his dianoëtic power, and his science of things, enjoyed the inspiration of his dæmon, who continually recalled him to divine love. In the second place, in the affairs of life, Socrates supernally directed his providential attention to more imperfect souls; and according to the energy of his dæmon, he received the light proceeding from thence, neither in his dianoëtic part alone, nor in his doxastic§ powers, but also in his spirit, the illumination of the dæmon suddenly diffusing itself through the whole of his life, and now moving sense itself. For it is evident that reason, imagination, and sense, enjoy the same energy differently; and that each of our inward parts is passive to, and is moved by, the dæmon in a peculiar manner. The voice, therefore, did not act upon Socrates externally with passivity; but the dæmoniacal inspiration, proceeding inwardly through his whole soul, and diffusing itself as far as to the organs of sense, became at last a voice, which was rather recognized by consciousness (συναισθησις) than by sense: for such are the illuminations of good dæmons, and the gods.
“In the third place, let us consider the peculiarity of the dæmon of Socrates: for it never exhorted, but perpetually recalled him. This also must again be referred to the Socratic life: for it is not a property common to our allotted dæmons, but was the characteristic of the guardian of Socrates. We must say, therefore, that the beneficent and philanthropic disposition of Socrates, and his great promptitude with respect to the communication of good, did not require the exhortation of the dæmon. For he was impelled from himself, and was ready at all times to impart to all men the most excellent life. But since many of those that came to him were unadapted to the pursuit of virtue and the science of wholes, his governing good dæmon restrained him from a providential care of such as these. Just as a good charioteer alone restrains the impetus of a horse naturally well adapted for the race, but does not stimulate him, in consequence of his being excited to motion from himself, and not requiring the spur, but the bridle. And hence Socrates, from his great readiness to benefit those with whom he conversed, rather required a recalling than an exciting dæmon. For the unaptitude of auditors, which is for the most part concealed from human sagacity, requires a dæmoniacal discrimination; and the knowledge of favourable opportunities can by this alone be accurately announced to us. Socrates therefore being naturally impelled to good, alone required to be recalled in his unseasonable impulses.
“But further still, it may be said, that of dæmons, some are allotted a purifying and undefiled power; others a generative; others a perfective; and others a demiurgic power: and, in short, they are divided according to the characteristic peculiarities of the gods, and the powers under which they are arranged. Each, likewise, according to his hyparxis, incites the object of his providential care to a blessed life; some of them moving us to an attention to inferior concerns; and others retraining us from action, and an energy verging to externals. It appears, therefore, that the dæmon of Socrates, being allotted this peculiarity, viz. cathartic, and the source of an undefiled life, and being arranged under this power of Apollo, and uniformly presiding over the whole of purification, separated also Socrates from too much commerce with the vulgar, and a life extending itself into multitude. But it led him into the depths of his soul, and an energy undefiled by subordinate natures: and hence it never exhorted, but perpetually recalled him. For, what else is to recall, than to withdraw him from the multitude to inward energy? And of what is this the peculiarity except of purification? Indeed it appears to me, that, as Orpheus places the Apolloniacal monad over king Bacchus, which recalls him from a progression into Titannic multitude and a desertion of his royal throne, in like manner the dæmon of Socrates conducted him to an intellectual place of survey, and restrained his association with the multitude. For the dæmon is analogous to Apollo, being his attendant, but the intellect of Socrates to Bacchus: for our intellect is the progeny of the power of this divinity.”—T.
* i.e. Juno. † i.e. the summit of essence.
‡ i.e. gods who immediately subsist above the mundane deities, and are therefore called supercelestial.
§ i.e. the powers belonging to opinion, or that part of the soul which knows that a thing is, but not why it is.
3. Amongst these was Anytus, who not long after became a bitter enemy to the great philosopher. And probably this was one of the motives of his enmity, some suspicion that Socrates had supplanted him in the favour and friendship of Alcibiades, For a suspicion of this sort always begets envy in little minds; and from envy always springs the most malicious hatred.—S.
4. Here is painted the most distinguishing feature in the character of Alcibiades. For Plutarch assures us, that the strongest of his passions, though all of them were vehement, was a love of superiority and pre-eminence in all things. And Ælian in Var. Hist. l. 4. c. 16. represents him as the pattern of arrogance; as if no person could ever in this quality exceed him.—S.
5. That Alcibiades, says Proclus in his MS. Commentary on this dialogue, was large and beautiful, is evident from his being called the general object of the love of all Greece; and is also evident from the saying of Antisthenes, that if Achilles was not such as Alcibiades, he was not truly beautiful; and from Hermæ being fashioned according to his form.
Οτι δε αυ μεγας ὁ Αλκιβιαδης εγενετο και καλλος, δηλοι μεν και το κοινον αυτον ερωμενον καλεισθαι της Έλλαδος ἁπασης· δηλοι δε ὁ Αντισθενης ειπων, ὡς ει μη τοιουτος ην ὁ Αχιλλευς, ουκ αρα ην οντως καλος· δηλοι δε και το τους Έρμας πλατεσσαι κατα το ειδος αυτου.—T.
6. For an account of the noble descent of Alcibiades, see Pausan. Lib. 1., Thucyd. Lib. 6., Isocrat. Περι ζευγους. Andocid. in Orat. 4Tâ.—T.
7. History testifies that Alcibiades from his childhood paid but little attention to the acquisition of wealth. Indeed, according to Plato, one of the greatest arguments of being well born is a contempt of wealth; and hence, in the Republic, he makes this to be one of the elements of the philosophic nature. For an aptitude to virtue is inconsistent with an attachment to riches. Indeed, since it is requisite that a genuine lover of virtue should despise the body, is it not much more necessary that he should despise the goods of the body?
But, assuming a more elevated exordium, let us consider from what conceptions souls become so much attached to beauty and magnitude of body, to nobility, and power: for these are images extended to souls of realities themselves, which the intelligent despise, but the stupid embrace with avidity. We must say, therefore, that beauty and magnitude appear in the first of the divine orders;—the former rendering all divine natures lovely, and desirable to secondary beings; and the latter causing them to transcend mundane wholes, and to be exempt from their proper progeny. For magnitude, according to Plato, considered as a divine idea, is that cause by which every where one thing transcends another. Of those two great principles likewise, bound and infinity, which are next in dignity and power to the ineffable principle of things, bound is the source of beauty, and infinity of magnitude. Hence the alliance of beauty to the former, as being the form of forms, and as swimming on the light of all intelligible forms; but of magnitude to the latter, from its incomprehensibility, from its embracing all things and subduing all things. From the first principles, therefore, beauty and magnitude proceed through all the middle orders, as far as to the apparent world, which, according to Timæus, they perfectly render the greatest and the most beautiful of sensible gods. Souls therefore, according to their spontaneous innate conceptions, pre-assume that these shine forth in divine natures; and hence they admire beauty and magnitude in mortal bodies, as possessing a resemblance of their divine originals. However, through their ignorance of the true archetypes, they are detained by, and alone admire, the obscure and fleeting imitations of real beauty and magnitude.
In the second place, with respect to nobility, this also first subsists in divine natures. For things which derive their subsistence from more elevated causes transcend according to genus those which are generated in secondary ranks. This is also evident from Homer, who makes Juno say to Jupiter:
. . . . . . . thence is my race derived, whence thine:
and in consequence of this she wishes to possess an equal dominion in the universe with Jupiter. According to this conception, you may also say that in us the rational is more noble than the irrational soul, because, according to Plato in the Timæus, the artificer of the universe gave subsistence to the former—but the junior gods, or those powers that preside over the mundane spheres, to the latter. Natural succession is the image of this nobility; to which when souls alone direct their attention, they become filled with vain conceptions, and are ignorant of what Plato asserts in the Theætetus, that it is by no means wonderful, in the infinity of time past, if he who is able to enumerate five-and-twenty noble ancestors, should find, by ascending higher in antiquity, that these progenitors were descended from as many slaves. But the stable and perpetual alliance of souls is suspended from divine natures, about which they are disseminated, and from divine powers under which they are arranged. For the attendants of more exalted deities are more noble, as likewise are those powers which are suspended from greater divinities, according to an allotment in the universe.—T.
8. That is, the dæmon of Socrates. See the note at the beginning of the dialogue concerning dæmons.—T.
9. In the Greek text, as it is printed, the word σοι is here omitted, but σeems necessary to be inserted, and the passage to be read thus, ὁτι παντος μαλλον εξιος σοι ειμι, κ. τ. λ. so as to correspond, as it ought, with these words in the preceding part of the sentence, ὁτι αυτη παντος αξιος ει.—S.
10. Alleging, that the performances on such instruments were illiberal, and unbecoming to a gentleman; that they were ungraceful, and distorting to the face; and could not, like those on stringed instruments, such as the lyre, be accompanied by the voice of the performer. See Plutarch’s Life of Alcibiades; and A. Gellius, lib. 15. c. 17.—S.
11. These external advantages of person and of birth, in any speaker, always dazzle the eyes and imagination of the vulgar, and divert their attention, as well from the matter of the speech as from the manner in which it is spoken. The most ignorant and barbarian nations too, in all ages, have always been observed to lay the greatest stress on those circumstances, in choosing a king, a leader in war, or magistrates and counsellors in time of peace. Alcibiades was now too young and inexperienced to judge of men by better standards than those used by the vulgar and the ignorant, or to know the superior advantages of mental abilities and knowledge. The size of an understanding, the beauty of a soul, or the divine origin of the human mind, he had no more thought of, than he would have done had he been bred a plow-boy, or born a Hottentot.—S.
12. That is, gymnastically performed, or a gymnastic performance. We have thus translated the Greek in this place, on a supposition that the words ὁτι γυμναστικον ought to be here read, instead of την γυμναστικην. Let the learned reader judge, whether our supposition be well founded or not, after he has read a little farther on in the original.—S.
13. The sameness of manner in these two cases consists in the similitude between the two paronymies. For the paronymous terms, music, musical, and musically, exactly correspond with those of gymnastic, gymnastical, and gymnastically.—S.
14. This passage in the original, as printed severally by Aldus, Walder, Henry Peters, and Henry Stephens, runs thus:
ὡσπερ εκει εφ’ ἑκαστῳ ελεγες τῳ αμεινονι, ὁτι μουσικωτερον· και επι τῳ ἑτερῳ, ὁτι γυμναστικωτερον.
But if conjectured rightly, it should be printed thus:
ὡσπερ εκει εφ’ ἑκαστῳ ελεγες ΤΟ ΑΜΕΙΝΟΝ· ἙΝΙ, ὁ, τει μουσικωτερον· και επι τῳ ἑτερῳ, ὁ, τει γυμναστικωτερον.
Our conjecture is favoured by the Latin translation, which Ficinus made from a MS. copy of Plato. Long since we wrote this, we have found the following emendation of this passage, made by Cornarius, in his Eclogæ:
ὡσπερ εκει εφ’ ἙΤΕΡΩ, ελεγες ΤΟ ΑΜΕΙΝΟΝ, ὁτι μουσικωτερον· κ. τ. λ.
And this way of reading the sentence we should prefer to our own conjecture, but that ours is quite agreeable to the translation of Ficinus, followed herein by Dacier; and also that the error is thus more easily accounted for, and the alteration of the text less.—S.
15. These things evidently mean the lawful and the beautiful, mentioned immediately before. The sentence in the original, as printed, is this:
προς ταυτ’ αρα και συ το δικαιον τους λογους ποιηση.
In which the words και συ are undoubtedly transposed, and should be read συ και. The transposition not being discovered by Stephens obliged him to change the word ταυτα into τουτο, as belonging to το δικαιον, and therefore made to agree with it. This alteration supposes νομιμον and καλον, lawful and beautiful, to be words merely synonymous with δικαιον, just, consequently superfluous, and introduced to no purpose. The transposition must have been more ancient than any MS. of Plato now remaining; for it has corrupted not only the oldest editions, but the oldest translations too; infecting of course all those which came after.—S.
16. In the Greek, as printed, the words are these:
Ειτα ουκ ην ὁτε ουκ ειχον ὁυτω.
We here suppose that the ουκ immediately before ειχον ought to be omitted; and our supposition is favoured by Ficinus’s translation. But if this latter ουκ is to be retained, we should render this sentence into English thus:
“Was there not a time when I had no such knowledge?”
as if Socrates had granted him to have such knowledge at present. But the state of mind which Socrates is here speaking of, is that of a mind, besides being ignorant, conscious of its ignorance, and not presuming itself to have knowledge.—S.
17. In the Greek it would be better perhaps to read περι ὁτου τυχοι, than π. ο. τυχοις, as it is printed. We have in this, as well as in other places where we have made conjectural emendations of the text, translated according to them, We should not however give them a place among these notes, but for the sake of accounting to such of our readers as are learned, for the turn we have given to those passages, different from that of the Greek text as it now stands, and from that of other translations.—S.
18. We have here followed the text, as it is printed by Stephens, where we read λεγοις. The other editors give us λεγεις.—S.
19. The first battle of Tanagra, in which the Lacedæmonians prevailed over the Athenians, was uncommonly fierce, and very many were slain, of the victorious army as well as of the vanquished. For so we are expressly told by Thucydides, in lib. 1. § 1o8; by Plutarch, in the Life of Cymon; and by Diodorus Siculus, in lib. 11. ad ann. 3. Olympiad. 80. The next year, in a second battle at the same place, the Athenians were successful; and the gallantry of their behaviour in it was equal, says the historian last cited, to that of their exploits at Marathon and Platæa. But the first battle of Tanagra seems to be here meant, and not the second, as Messieurs Le Fevre and Dacier imagined. For the purpose of Plato was to show, not the valour exhibited, but the bloodshed, in fighting about right and wrong.—S.
20. The battle of Coronea between the Athenians and the Bœotians; in the 2nd year of the 83rd Olympiad, was not less fierce than the first battle at Tanagra, and much more unfortunate to the Athenians; a great part of their army being slain, together with Tolmidas the commander of it in chief; and all who remained alive being taken prisoners; as we learn from Thucydides, in lib. 1. § 113; and from Diodorus, in lib. 12. ad ann. supradict.—S.
21. In the way of arguing by induction; that is, by inferring some universal proposition from many particular propositions acknowledged to be true, and comprehended in that universal.—S.
22. Mons. Dacier in this place rightly refers us to the Hippolytus of the poet here cited. For in one of the scenes of that tragedy, Phædra, being ashamed to confess to her old nurse that Hippolytus was the object of her love, and yet unwilling to conceal it from her, describes him, without naming him, in terms so pointed, that the nurse could not possibly mistake the person. Upon which the nurse asking her if she means Hippolytus, Phædra answers in verse 352:
——————— σου ταδ’, ουκ εμου, κλυεις,
This from yourself you hear, and not from me.—S.
23. That is, in evading the proofs of your ignorance, and thus endeavouring to avoid the necessity of your counselling it. In our translation of this short sentence, we have supposed that it ought to be immediately followed by a mark of interrogation, or rather by a mark of admiration; and ought not to be read as part of a longer sentence, either interrogative, according to the version of Serranus, or assertive, according to that of Ficinus, and all the editions of the Greek original. The version of Cornarius is herein agreeable to that our supposition.—S.
24. This is a conclusive assertion; and not, as it is printed by Aldus and by Stephens, a question. Both of the Basil editions have it right.—S.
25. In translating this sentence, we have supposed that the right reading here is προσειπον, and not, as it is printed, προειπον.—S.
26. It appears from the translations made by Ficinus and Cornarius, that the Greek of this sentence, in the manuscripts from which they tran1lated, was written thus:
Ὀ, τι αν αρα εὑρωμεν καλον, και αγαθον εὑρησομεν κ. τ. λ.
And we hope it will hereafter be so printed. For the absurdity of this sentence in the translation by Serranus, was evidently occasioned by his following the printed editions, and his regarding more the language of Cicero than the reasoning or philosophy of Plato.—S.
27. This sentence is assertive, and not, as it has hitherto been always printed, interrogative.—S.
28. In supposing this sentence to be interrogative, we have followed the two Basil editions and Ficinus’s translation, as Le Fevre has also done. But Dacier chose to follow the other editions and translations, in making it a conclusive assertion.—S.
29. In the printed original we here read πολλη γε. But we have made no scruple of adopting the marginal reading of Harry Stephens, πολν γε.—S.
30. The character of Anaxagoras, or rather that of his philosophy, is well known to be this: That he applied himself chiefly, as all of the Ionic sect did, to the study of astronomy, and of the elements of outward nature. Pythoclides and Damon, both of them, were such as the old Sophists in polymathy and extensive learning; but neither of them assumed the character of Sophist. Indeed, they were so far from making a public display of their general knowledge, like the Sophists, that, on the contrary, they endeavoured to conceal it under the mask of some other character, professing only skill in music. We learn this, so far as relates to Damon, from Plutarch, in his Life of Pericles; and with regard to Pythoclides, we are told the same by Plato himself in his Protagoras. But further, Aristotle, as cited by Plutarch, relates, in some of those works of his which are most unfortunately lost, that Pericles in fact became accomplished in music by studying it under Pythoclides. And Plutarch tells us, on his own authority, that Damon was the director and instructor of Pericles in politics, and that he was banished from Athens by the people, ὡς μεγαλοπραγμων και φιλοτυραννος, as a person who busied himself in great affairs, meaning those relating to the constitution of the state, and as a friend to tyranny, meaning the arbitrary power of a single person.—S.
31. Zeno the Eleatic is here meant, the disciple of Parmenides.—For an account of the wisdom meant in the latter part of this sentence, see the Parmenides, and the introduction to it.—T.
32. This is the same Pythodoras at whose house Plato lays the scene of his dialogue named Parmenides.—S.
33. This Callias had the command of the army sent by the Athenians for the recovery of Potidæa; but he was slain in the first battle, before that city. See Thucydides, lib. 1. and Diodorus, lib. 12.—S.
34. In English money, 322l. 18s. 4d. the very same price at which Protagoras and Gorgias valued their sophistical instructions in polymathy and false oratory.—S.
35. Aldus erroneously printed this sentence in the Greek original without a mark of interrogation; and in this error he was blindly followed by Stephens. The Basil editions, however, both of them, are here rightly printed, in agreement with the translations by Ficinus and Cornarius, and as the sense evidently requires.—S.
36. Here again the two Basil editions are right in giving us δη που; where Aldus and Stephens have been so regardless of the sense as to print δει που.—S.
37. In the Greek, as printed, we here read στρατιωτων; but perhaps we ought to read συστρατιωτων, that the word may correspond with that just before, to which it alludes, συναγωνιστας.-S.
38. In the Greek editions ὁποτε: but we suppose the right reading to be ὁπως.—S.
39. All the Latin translators rightly presume this sentence to be interrogative: though in all the editions of the Greek it is carelessly made assertive.—The secret meaning of Socrates in what he here says, agreeably to the tenor of all his philosophy, we apprehend to be this;—that we ought not to set before us the characters of any particular men, who are all of them full of imperfections like ourselves, for the standard of our moral conduct; but should have constantly in our view, so as to copy after, the ideal and perfect patterns of moral excellence.—S.
40. The kings of Persia were so called by the Grecians, from the time that Cyrus, heir to the then small kingdom of Persia, having succeeded to the kingdom of Media by the death of his uncle without issue, conquered Assyria, subdued Asia Minor, and acquired the dominion of all those countries which constitute the now large monarchy of Persia.—S.
41. We entirely agree in opinion with Mons. Le Fevre, that this is purely ironical, and therefore not interrogative.—S.
42. The Grecian quails, being μαχιμοι or fighting-birds, were fitly trained and fed, for the purpose of ορτυγομαχια, fighting one with another, by such sort of persons as took delight in such sort of sport. The manner of them was this: Matches being made, and wagers laid by those gentlemen quail-feeders, who were themselves owners of the birds, a circle was drawn in the quail-pit, or gaming-room, within which circle were set the combatant-birds: and in the battle, to which they were provoked by their wise masters, whichever bird drove his antagonist beyond the circle was held to be the conqueror.—Another Grecian sport with the poor quails, a sport still more boyish than the ορτυγομαχια was the ορτυγοκοπια, in which the hardiness of those birds was tried by the στυφοκομπια, the fillip of a man’s finger on their heads; and sometimes by plucking from it a feather: the birds that endured these trials without flinching or retiring out of the circle, won the wager for their cruel masters.—See Meursius de Ludis Græcorum, p. 45. Julius Pollux, lib. 9, cap. 7 and Suidas in vocibus ορτυγοκοπια, and στυφοκομπος.—Midias, here mentioned by Plato, was so much addicted to these sports, that in the comedy of Aristophanes; named Ορνιθες, the ambassador to Athens from the aerial city of the birds reports to them on his return, that several of the leading men at Athens had taken the names of different birds, and amongst them Midias that of quail.—Socrates therefore, in the passage now before us, ridicules Alcibiades, who affected the same taste for these quail matches, for thus emulating Midias, and setting up him for a pattern of his imitation.—The Romans, who copied after the Grecians in all their vices and follies more exactly than they did in their arts, sciences, and wisdom, were so fond of quail-fighting, that the wise and good Marcus Antoninus, sensible how much it was beneath his dignity as a man, an emperor, and a philosopher, acknowledges himself obliged to Diognetus the painter for dissuading him in his youth from giving into this fashionable folly. Lib. 1. § 6.—This note is intended chiefly for the benefit of our countrymen the Noble Cockers.—S.
43. In the Greek, ανδραποδωδη τριχα, slavish hair. It was the distinguishing badge of slavery in men, amongst the Grecians and the Romans, the wearing their own hair on their heads. When they had their freedom given them by their masters, their heads were shaven, and they wore from that time a cap, or narrow-brimmed hat, thence called the cap of liberty. For this point, see αντι παντων Theodor. Marcilius in his Commentary on Persius, sat; 5. v. 82.—S.
44. This seems to be perfectly well illustrated by Olympiodorus, (whose comment on this dialogue is extant in MS. abroad,) in the following passage, cited by H. Casaubon in his commentary on Persius, sat. 5. v. 116.
Παροιμια εστι γυναικων επι των ελευθερουμενων δουλων και επιμενοντων εν τῃ δουλοπεπειᾳ, (not δουλειᾳ, as it is absurdly printed,) ὁτι εχεις την ανδραποδωδη τριχα εν τῃ κεφαλῃ, τουτ’ εστιν, ετι την δουλικην ἑξιν (printed τριχα, which is explaining idem per idem) εχεις.
“The women had a saying, which they used to slaves made free, but still retaining the manners which belonged to slaves,—‘You wear your slavish hair on your head still:’ that is, You still retain your slavish habits.”
This proverbial saying was it seems, by the Athenian ladies, the authors of it, applied also to men whom they saw ill-bred and illiterate.—The application of it was afterwards extended further to a mobile multitude, gathered together and governed by their passions: for so we learn from Suidas, in phrasi ανδραποδωδη τριχα.—See Erasmi Adagia, p. 426. and the Greek Proverbs collected by Schottus, with his scholia thereon, p. 357.—S.
45. We are astonished to find φησεις here printed in all the editions of Plato. The sense evidently requires us to read φυσεις: and it appears also from the Latin translation made by Ficinus, and from that also by Cornarius, that they read φυσεις in the manuscripts from which they made their translations.—Had Le Fevre been aware of this, he would have spared himself the trouble of writing a long note to prove that hereditary monarchs and great lords are not always the best of men.—Socrates here is not asking who probably are the best men, (for this would be to anticipate the conclusion of his reasoning, in the very beginning of it,) but, who probably have the best natural dispositions.—S.
46. With this agrees the opinion of Aristotle in his Politics, lib. 3. cap. 8. Βελτιους εικος τους εκ Βελτιονων· ευγενεια γαρ εστιν αρετη γενους. It is likely that from the best ancestors should spring the best men. For to be well-born is to be of a good or virtuous family, (that is, nobility is family-virtue.) The reasonableness of this opinion the great master of all lyric poetry proves by analogy from brute animals in these verses of the 4th ode of his 4th book:
Fortes creantur fortibus et bonis.
Est in juvencis, est in equis patrum
Virtus; nec imbellem feroces
Progenerant aquilæ columbam;
Brave men are offsprings of the brave and good.
Heifers and horses still retain
The virtue of their sires: in vain
May one expect to find a timorous brood,
Such as the weak unwarlike dove,
Sprung from an eagle fierce, the daring bird of Jove.—S.
47. The Greek, as printed, is in this place evidently deficient. For, immediately after the words το δε Ἡρακλεους τε γενος, that the words εις τον Δια are dropped, and ought to be restored there needs no proof to any who are at all acquainted with the ancient fables of the Greeks. They well know that Hercules was never supposed to be descended from Perseus, as he is here made to be in the printed Greek text.—S.
48. Meaning the Lesser Asia, now called Natolia.—S.
49. Salamis and Ægina being but small islands in the Saronic bay, opposite to Attica.—Æacus had Ægina in sovereignty by inheritance from his mother. How it came not to descend to Eurysaces from his great-grandfather Æacus, and how his grandfather Telamon came to be lord of Salamis, may be accounted for easily from what we read in the Metamorphoses of Antoninus Liberalis, cap. 38.—S.
50. Artaxerxes, at the supposed time of this dialogue, was the reigning king of Persia.—S.
51. These were the supreme judicial magistrates in Lacedæmon: they were also the guardians and protectors of the laws, the kingdom, and the common weal.—S.
52. This Lacedæmonian law, or custom, is not, so far as we can find, recorded by any other ancient writer. And such of the moderns as treat of Grecian antiquities, wherever they mention it, only cite the passage of Plato now before us. But how careful the Ephori were, not to suffer any person to sit on either of their regal thrones, who was not descended in the male line from either Eurysthenes or his brother Procles, their first kings of the race of Hercules, we may conjecture from two remarkable instances; one of them recorded by Herodotus, the other by Plutarch, and both of them by Pausanias in Laconicis.—The first is the case of Demaratus, the son of Aristo, who was barred of his hereditary right to the crown, because his mother Timea was delivered of him seven months after her marriage with king Aristo: for it was thence concluded by the Ephori, that he was begotten by his mother’s former husband, who had parted from her about seven months before the birth of her son.—The other case is that of Leotychidas, who was by the Ephori excluded from the succession to the crown, because king Agis, his nominal and legal father, had been absent from the queen his consort more than ten months before she was brought to bed.—It must, however, be acknowledged, that other concurring circumstances were not wanting to induce a reasonable suspicion of the queen’s unfaithfulness to the king’s bed in each of these cases.—S.
53. We are no less in the dark as to the name of this poet than we are to the verse of his here alluded to.—Mons. Le Fevre, in a note to his translation of this passage, refers to Plutarch’s Life of Phocion, where Demades tells his son, at whose marriage kings and great lords assisted, that when he himself was married, not a soul among the neighbours knew any thing of the matter. And out of this passage in Plutarch, where neither verse nor poet is cited, the ingenious critic has made a verse, to which he supposes that Plato here alludes.—S.
54. That eunuchs were highly valued at the court of Persia, and purchased at a great price, we learn from Herodotus, in lib. 6. where he assigns this reason for it, the reputation of their fidelity in all things committed to their trust. See other reasons in Rycaut’s present State of the Ottoman Empire, b. I. ch. 9. and in L’Esprit des Loix, 1. 15. c. 18.—S.
55. The following account of magic, by Proclus, originally formed, as it appears to me, a part of the Commentary written by him on the present passage. For the MS. Commentary of Proclus, which is at present extant on this Dialogue, does not extend to more than a third part of it; and this Dissertation on Magic, which is only extant in Latin, was published by Ficinus, the translator, immediately after his Excerpta from this Commentary. So that it seems highly probable that the manuscript from which Ficinus translated his Excerpta, was much more perfect than that which is now extant, in consequence of containing this account of the magic of the ancients.
“In the same manner as lovers gradually advance from that beauty which is apparent in sensible forms, to that which is divine; so the ancient priests, when they considered that there was a certain alliance and sympathy in natural things to each other, and of things manifest to occult powers, and discovered that all things subsist in all, they fabricated a sacred science from this mutual sympathy and similarity. Thus they recognised things supreme in such as are subordinate, and the subordinate in the supreme: in the celestial regions, terrene properties subsisting in a causal and celestial manner; and in earth celestial properties, but according to a terrene condition. For how shall we account for those plants called heliotropes, that is, attendants on the sun, moving in correspondence with the revolution of its orb; but selenitropes, or attendants on the moon, turning in exact conformity to her motion? It is because all things pray, and compose hymns to the leaders of their respective orders; but some intellectually, and others rationally; some in a natural, and others after a sensible manner. Hence the sunflower, as far as it is able, moves in a circular dance towards the sun; so that, if any one could hear the pulsation made by its circuit in the air, he would perceive something composed by a sound of this kind, in honour of its king, such as a plant is capable of framing. Hence, too, we may behold the sun and moon in the earth, but according to a terrene quality; but in the celestial regions, all plants, and stones, and animals, possessing an intellectual life according to a celestial nature. Now the ancients, having contemplated this mutual sympathy of things, applied for occult purposes both celestial and terrene natures, by means of which through a certain similitude they deduced divine virtues into this inferior abode. For, indeed, similitude itself is a sufficient cause of binding things together in union and consent. Thus, if a piece of paper is heated, and afterwards placed near a lamp, though it does not touch the fire, the paper will be suddenly inflamed, and the flame will descend from the superior to the inferior parts. This heated paper we may compare to a certain relation of inferiors to superiors; and its approximation to the lamp, to the opportune use of things according to time, place, and matter. But the procession of fire into the paper, aptly represents the presence of divine light to that nature which is capable of its reception. Lastly, the inflammation of the paper may be compared to the deification of mortals, and to the illumination of material natures, which are afterwards carried upwards, like the enkindled paper, from a certain participation of divine seed.
“Again, the lotus, before the rising of the sun, folds its leaves into itself, but gradually expands them on its rising: unfolding them in proportion to the sun’s ascent to the zenith; but as gradually contracting them as that luminary descends to the west. Hence this plant, by the expansion and contraction of its leaves, appears no less to honour the sun, than men by the gesture of their eyelids, and the motion of their lips. But this imitation and certain participation of supernal light is not only visible in plants, which possess nothing more than a vestige of life, but likewise in particular stones. Thus the sun-stone, by its golden rays, imitates those of the sun; but the stone called the eye of heaven, or of the sun, has a figure similar to the pupil of an eye, and a ray shines from the middle of the pupil. Thus, too, the lunar stone, which has a figure similar to the moon when horned, by a certain change of itself, follows the lunar motion. Lastly, the stone called helioselenus, i.e. of the sun and moon, imitates, after a manner, the congress of those luminaries, which it images by its colour. So that all things are full of divine natures; terrestrial natures receiving the plenitude of such as are celestial, but celestial of supercelestial essences;* while every order of things proceeds gradually, in a beautiful descent, from the highest to the lowest. For whatever particulars are collected into one above the order of things, is afterwards dilated in descending, various souls being distributed under their various ruling divinities.
“In the next place, there are many solar animals, such as lions and cocks, which participate, according to their nature, of a certain solar divinity; whence it is wonderful how much inferiors yield to superiors in the same order, though they do not yield in magnitude and power. Hence it is said, that a cock is very much feared, and, as it were, reverenced, by a lion; the reason of which we cannot assign from matter or sense, but from the contemplation alone of a supernal order. For thus we shall find that the presence of the solar virtue accords more with a cock than with a lion. This will be evident from considering that the cock, as it were, with certain hymns, applauds and calls to the rising sun, when he bends his course to us from the antipodes; and that solar angels sometimes appear in forms of this kind, who, though they are without shape, yet present themselves to us, who are connected with shape, in some sensible form. Sometimes, too, there are dæmons with a leonine front, who, when a cock is placed before them, unless they are of a solar order, suddenly disappear; and this because those natures which have an inferior rank in the same order always reverence their superiors; just as many, on beholding the images of divine men, are accustomed, from the very view, to be fearful of perpetrating any thing base.
“In fine, some things turn round correspondent to the revolutions of the sun, as the plants which we have mentioned, and others after a manner imitate the solar rays, as the palm and the date; some the fiery nature of the sun, as the laurel; and others a different property. For, indeed, we may perceive that the properties which are collected in the sun are every where distributed to subsequent natures constituted in a solar order; that is, to angels, dæmons, souls, animals, plants, and stones. Hence the authors of the ancient priesthood discovered from things apparent the worship of superior powers, while they mingled some things and purified others. They mingled many things indeed together, because they saw that some simple substances possessed a divine property (though not taken singly) sufficient to call down that particular power, of which they were participants. Hence, by the mingling of many things together, they attracted upon us a supernal influx; and by the composition of one thing from many, they produced an assimilation to that one which is above many; and composed statues from the mixture of various substances conspiring in sympathy and consent. Besides this, they collected composite odours, by a divine art, into one, comprehending a multitude of powers, and symbolizing with the unity of a divine essence; considering that division debilitates each of these, but that mingling them together, restores them to the idea of their exemplar.
“But sometimes one herb, or one stone, is sufficient to a divine operation. Thus a thistle is sufficient to procure the sudden appearance of some superior power; but a laurel, raccinum (or a thorny kind of sprig), the land and sea onion, the coral, the diamond, and the jasper, operate as a safeguard. The heart of a mole is subservient to divination, but sulphur and marine water to purification. Hence the ancient priests, by the mutual relation and sympathy of things to each other, collected their virtues into one, but expelled them by repugnancy and antipathy; purifying when it was requisite with sulphur and bitumen, and sprinkling with marine water. For sulphur purifies, from the sharpness of its odour; but marine water on account of its fiery portion. Besides this, in the worship of the Gods, they offered animals, and other substances congruous to their nature; and received, in the first place, the powers of dæmons, as proximate to natural substances and operations; and by these natural substances they convoked into their presence those powers to which they approached. Afterwards they proceeded from dæmons to the powers and energies of the Gods; partly, indeed, from dæmoniacal instruction, but partly by their own industry, interpreting appropriate symbols, and ascending to a proper intelligence of the Gods. And lastly, laying aside natural substances and their operations, they received themselves into the communion and fellowship of the Gods.”
Should it be objected by those who disbelieve in the existence of magic, that plants, animals, and stones, no longer possess those wonderful sympathetic powers which are mentioned by Proclus in the above extract, the same answer must be given as to the objectors to the ancient oracles, and is as follows:—As in the realms of generation, or in other words, the sublunary region, wholes, viz. the spheres of the different elements, remain perpetually according to nature; but their parts are sometimes according, and sometimes contrary, to nature; this must be true of the parts of the earth. When those circulations, therefore, take place, during which the parts of the earth subsist according to nature, and which are justly called, by Plato ‘fertile periods,’ the powers of plants, animals, and stones, magically sympathize with superior natures; but during those circulations in which the parts of the earth subsist contrary to nature, as at present, and which Plato calls ‘barren periods,’ those powers no longer possess a magic sympathy, and infrequently are no longer capable of producing magical operations.—T.
* By supercelestial essences, understand natures which are not connected with a body.
56. Who Zoroaster was, and in what age he lived, is totally uncertain. A great variety of different opinions on these points is found amongst learned writers; the probability of any one of which opinions above the rest, it is an idle study we think to search for; so long as it remains doubtful whether any one man existed who was distinguished by that name from other men addicted to the same studies. For the learned in the eastern languages tell us that the name Zoroaster signifies an observer of the stars. We have therefore no occasion to be puzzled with uncertainties, when we read of different men living in different ages, and different countries of the east, all of them called by the same name Zoroaster, if the name was general, and given to every man famous for his knowledge in astronomy.—S.
57. This was the name given by the Persians to the supreme being, the sole author of all good to all.—S.
58. The Helotes, properly so called, were descended from the ancient inhabitants of Helos, a maritime town in Laconia, near the mouth of the river Eurotas, under the dominion of Menelaus at the time of the Trojan War. It was afterwards besieged and taken by the Heraclidæ and their Dorian army, who had before conquered all the rest of Laconia. The Helotes were thus made captives to their conq11erors, by whom they were condemned, they and their posterity for ever, to till the lands of these Dorians (then become proprietors of the territory of Laconia) as their rivals, and in lien of the produce to pay a certain and fixed rent to their lords and masters; not unlike to tenants in villenage under the feudal laws in after ages. To the like hard conditions did these Lacedæmonians, long afterward, subject their own kindred and neighbours of Messenia, at the end of many long struggles between them; on the Lacedæmonian side, for the conquest of a country better than their own; on the other side for the preservation of their lands and liberties. The Messenians, being thus reduced to the same state of vassalage with the Helotes, were often comprehended under this latter name; as appears from Pausanias, in lib. 3, p. 201 ed. Hanov. as also appears from Thucydides, in lib. 1, p. 101. The scholiast to this great historian informs us further, that the Lacedæmonians δια το αει διαφορους ειναι ειλωταις, (for so this last word ought to be read, and not αλληλοις, as it is absurdly printed,) because of the hatred which they always bore to the Helotes, were used to call their slaves by that name, in the way of contemptuousness and contumely. But Plato in the passage now before us, uses more accuracy: for meaning to include all the vassals, by whose labour in the lands much wealth accrued to the Lacedæmonians, he calls them, not ειλωτας, Helotes, but ειλωτικους, such as the Helotes. Just as Pausanias, in lib. 4, p. 259, means by ειλωτας such a vassal-state as that of the Helotes. Plato, by other slaves, means such as were acquired by purchase, or by conquest unconditional, them and their offspring; and of these, such as were not employed in domestic services, but were set to work in agriculture and other country-labour: for Socrates is here speaking only of the value of the Lacedæmonian states in land arising from such labour.—S.
59. The Lacedæmonians were abundantly supplied with all the necessaries of life from their own lands; and being by their laws restrained from all splendour and magnificence, from all delicacy and luxury, as well in their houses and the furniture of them, as in their apparel and the provisions of their tables, they could have no occasion to purchase for their own use any foreign trinkets or commodities. Indeed sumptuary laws were almost unnecessary in their commonwealth, through the force and effect of another law, by which they were prohibited not only from using any coined money, whether of gold, silver, or copper, in their home-traffic, but even from having any such useless treasure in their houses. The only money permitted to pass current amongst them was of their own making; it consisted in pieces of iron, of a conoidical form, so peculiarly tempered as to be of no other use. These pieces, therefore, having no real value, and a nominal value no where but in Laconia, would not be taken by any foreigners in exchange for merchandise. On the other hand, all the corn and cattle produced or bred in the fertile fields and fine pastures of Messenia, all the copper and iron dug out of the rich mountains of Laconia, and manufactured by the great number of those Helotes who lived in the city of Sparta, and laboured not for their own profit, but for that of their masters,—all this, except the little wanted at home, was sold abroad and paid for in gold and silver: which money was by the owners either deposited in the temple at Delphi, or in trusted to the custody of their neighbours, the Arcadians; (see Athenæus, lib. 6. p. 233.) besides much of it, perhaps, buried under ground; (as silver is said to be at Pekin, and gold under the Stadt-house at Amsterdam) or concealed in secret places; an instance of which kind we have in the story of Gylippus, told by Plutarch in his Life of Lysandcr.—S.
60. The fox’s answer to the lion, in the well known fable to which this passage alludes, is cited by Horace, in Epist. 1. lib. 1.—S.
61. Only meaning here the revenue arising from their demesne-lands; more of which in quantity and better in quality, kings have than other men.—S.
62. That is, besides the profit arising from their demesne-lands.—S.
63. See the Lesser Hippias.—S.
64. The same custom was in ancient Ægypt. For we read in Herodotus, lib. 2. p. 123, edit. Gronov., that the city of Anthylla, that is, the revenue of the crown arising from the taxes imposed on it, was assigned and set apart for the supplying of the queen-consort with shoes and slippers.—S.
65. Equal to 16il. 9s. 2d. English money.—S.
66. Meaning the most costly among such as were worn by Grecian women.—S.
67. See Meursius in his Reliqua Attica, cap. 5.—S.
68. Πλεθρα. A Greek πλετρον contained 10,000 square feet: an English acre contains 4,840 square feet. So that the land-estate of Alcibiades, near Erchia, contained about 619 English acres.—S.
69. This princess is called Lampidro in the editions we have of Plutarch, probably from an ancient error in the manuscripts, as Meursius in his treatise de Regno Laconico rightly seems to judge. By Herodotus she is called Lampito, lib. 6.p. 354, ed. Gronovii.—S.
70. In the Greek, συμβαλλοντων εαυτοις. But we apprehend that the pronoun εαυτοις can never follow the verb συμβαλλω, (in connection with it,) in any sense ever given to that verb. Presuming therefore that the right reading is συμβαλλοντων αλληλοις we have translated agreeably to this presumption. In confirmation of which we find within a few lines after, συμβαλλοντων προς αλληλους.—S.
71. In all the editions of Plato, we here read simplyοικουνται. In all the MSS. therefore, from which the first of them were printed, and in those also which Ficinus and Cornarius translated, there seems to have been an omission of the word ευ. We think it an omission because the same word is inserted in the very next sentence of Socrates, which the returning requires to correspond with this. Serranus alone, in his translation, appears to have seen the necessity of its being here restored.—S.
72. If, in the Greek, we here insert the particle η or, there will be no occasion to separate these two questions of Socrates, so as to insert between them an affirmative answer of Alcibiades to the first question; as Ficinus does in his translation.—S.
73. Pytho was another name for the city of Delphi, as we learn from Pausanias: a name more ancient than the name Delphi, and on that very account retained by Homer and Apollonius of Rhodes. The passages to which we here refer may be seen cited together by Cellarius, in Geog. vol. 1. p. 721, edit. Cantab. An air of antiquity in the diction is observed by the best critics to be one of the sources of the sublime in epic poetry. And Plato treads every where in the steps of Homer while he is searching out all the sources of sublimity in style, to maintain throughout his writings the dignity of true philosophy, and, at the same time, to preserve its simplicity, and unadulterated beauty.
74. In the Greek we here read,——αλλῳ τινι η εμοι; Is it with another person than with me? But the answer of Alcibiades being in the affirmative is sufficient to show this reading to be wrong. It may be rectified by this small alteration: αλλοτι η εμοι; Whether is it not with me?
75. Simplicius rightly understands Plato here to mean the rational soul. For the arguments produced in this part of the Dialogue, to show that the soul is a man’s proper self, regard the rational soul only. This soul alone uses speech, as the instrument by which it makes known to others its mind and will. This alone uses argumentative speech, as an instrument to teach art and science, to correct error, to confute falsehood, and demonstrate truth. This alone uses the organical parts of the body, especially the hands and eyes, as instruments by which it operates in all the performances of the manual arts. This alone employs the whole body in its service, as the instrument of its will and pleasure; and is the sole governing and leading power in man, whether it govern well or ill, and whether it lead in the right way, or in the wrong; for the rest of the man must obey and follow. It governs well, and leads aright, through knowledge of itself; if this knowledge infer the knowledge of what is just, fair, and good, and if the knowledge of these things be the science of rational, right, and good government.—S.
76. The Greek of this passage, in all the editions of Plato, is absurdly printed thus:
ὁστις αρα των του σωματος γιγνωσκει, τα αυτου, αλλ’ ουχ’ αυτον, εγνωκεν.
The first member of which sentence being ungrammatical, Stephens, in the margin of his edition, supposes may be rectified, either by inserting the word τι before των, or by changing the των into τα. In either of these ways indeed the grammatical construction is amended, but not the sense: for thus represented, (and thus represented it is by the Latin versions of Cornarius and Serranus,) it is inconsistent with the reasoning, which requires that the body itself should be intended, and not τα (or τι των) του σωματος, the garments, and other external things, or any of them, which are only appertinent to the body. Le Fevre and Docier seem to have been well aware of this, and have rightly therefore rendered it into French by these words—fon corps. Τhey were led thus aright by Ficinus, who, in translating this part of the sentence, uses only the word corpus. Perhaps in the manuscript from which he translated, he found the right reading, which we conjecture to be this:
ὁστις αρα το αυτου σωμα γιγνωσκει, τα αυτου, αλλ’ ουχ’ αυτον, εγνωκεν.—S.
77. The two preceding notes are referable to this passage also, where, in the Greek, as printed, the like omission is made of the article τα before των ἑαυτον.—S.
78. In the Greek, ληγοντος του σωματος, where the word ανθους, seems necessary to be supplied. The same metaphor is used a few lines further on.—S.
79. That is, the whole rational soul.—T.
80. According to Diotima, in the Banquet of Plato, the being which is wise desires to be full of knowledge, and does not seek nor investigate, but possesses the intelligible, or, in other words, the proper object of intellectual vision. But according to Socrates, in the Republic, wisdom is generative of truth and intellect: and from the Theætetus it appears to be that which gives perfection to things imperfect, and calls forth the latent intellections of the soul. From hence, it is evident that wisdom, according to Plato, is full of real being and truth, is generative of intellectual truth, and is perfective according to energy of intellectual natures. In this place, therefore, Plato, with great propriety, and consistently with the above definition, calls wisdom the virtue of the soul. For the different virtues are the sources of different perfection to the soul, and wisdom, the highest virtue, is the perfection of our supreme part, intellect.—T.
81. Proclus on Plato’s Theology, lib. 1. cap. 3, p. 7. beautifully observes as follows on this passage:
“Socrates, in the Alcibiades, rightly obse1ves that the soul entering into herself will behold all other things, and deity itself. For, verging to her own union, and to the centre of all life, laying aside multitude, and the variety of the all manifold powers which she contains, she ascends to the highest watch-tower of beings. And as, in the most holy of mysteries,* they say that the mystics at first meet with the multiform and many shaped genera,† which are hurled forth before the gods, but on entering the interior parts of the temple, unmoved, and guarded by the mystic rites, they genuinely receive in their bosom divine illumination, and divested of their garments, as they say, participate of a divine nature; the same mode, as it appears to me, takes place in the speculation of wholes.‡ For the soul, when looking at things posterior to herself, beholds only the shadows and images of beings; but when she turns to herself, she evolves her own essence, and the reasons which she contains. And at first, indeed, she only, as it were, beholds herself; but when she penetrates more profoundly in the knowledge of herself, she finds in herself both intellect and the orders of beings. But when she proceeds into her interior recesses, and into the adytum, as it were, of the soul, she perceives, with her eyes nearly closed, the genus of the gods, and the unities of beings. For all things reside in us according to the peculiarity of soul; and through this we are naturally capable of knowing all things, by exciting the powers and the images of wholes which we contain.”—T.
* viz. in the Eleusinian mysteries; for thus he elsewhere denominates these mysteries.
† Meaning evil dæmons; for the assuming a variety of shapes is one of the characteristics of such dæmon.
‡ By the term wholes, in the Platonic philosophy, every incorporeal order of being, and every mundane sphere, are signified.
82. The words within the brackets are from Stobæus, Serm. 21. p. 183., from whom it appears that they ought to be inserted in this place, though this omission has not been noticed by any of the editors of Plato. The original is as follows:
Αρ’ ὡσπερ κατοπτρα σαφεστερα εστι του εν τῳ οφθαλμῳ ενοπτρου και καθαρωτερα τε και λαμπροτερα, ὁυτω και ὁ Θεος του εν τῃ ἡμετερα ψυχῃ βελτιστου, καθαρωτερον τε, και λαμπροτερον τυγχανει ων; Εοικε γε ω Σωκρατης. Εις τον Θεον αρα βλεποντες εκεινῳ καλλιστῳ χρωμεθ’ αν, και των ανθωπινων εις την ψυχης αρετην, και ὁυτως αν μαλιστα ουκ ὁρῳμεν και γιγνωσκοιμεν ἡμας αυτους; Ναι.
The intelligent reader needs not, I trust, be told, that, without this uncommonly beautiful passage, the dialogue is defective in its most essential part.—T.
83. See the Greater Hippias.—S.
Additional Notes to the First Alcibiades
1. viz. The art pertaining to mystic rites.
2. Alluding to Plato’s cave in the seventh book of the Republic.
3. As I have shown in my Dissertation on the Mysteries, from indubitable authority, that a skill in magic formed the last part of the sacerdotal office, it is by no means wonderful that, through this theurgic art, the statues in the temples where the mysteries were celebrated should have been rendered resplendent with divine light.
4. For the whole of nature, according to the ancient theology, is under the government of the moon; from the deity of which it also proceeds.
5. Proæresis (προαιρεσις) is a deliberative tendency to things within the reach of our ability to effect.
6. This appears to have been the opinion of Heraclitus.
7. This was the opinion of the Stoics.
8. That is, the dianoëtic power of the soul, or that power which reasons scientifically.
9. In the original ανακτησιν; but the sense requires we should read αναμνησιν.
10. That is, one of the Chaldæan oracles; to my collection of which I refer the reader.
11. In the Phædo.
12. By this first of sciences Proclus mean the dialectic of Plato, concerning which see the Parmenides.
13. Intellectual vision is intuitive; and hence intellect, by an immediate projection of its visive power, apprehends the object of its knowledge. Hence too the visive energies of intellect are called by the Platonists νοεραι επιβολαι, i.e. intellectual projections.
14. This information is the summit of the dianoëtic part.
15. That is, simple, indemonstrable propositions.
16. For an account of these unities see the Parmenides, and the Introduction to it.
17. Σωτηρια. The term salvation is not peculiar to the Christian religion, since long before its establishment the Heathens had their saviour gods.
18. Generation signifies, according to Plato and his best disciples, the whole of a sensible nature.
19. viz. the Christians.
20. Hence the unscientific do not truly accord with each other: for the rational part in them secretly dissents to what the irrational part admits.
21. Philosophers accord with each other in proportion to their possession of science, and dissent in proportion to their privation of it. With intellectual philosophers, therefore, there is more concord than with others, because they have more of genuine science.
22. This method forms an important part of the dialectic of Plato; for a full account of which, see the introduction to the Parmenides.
23. Proclus here alludes to the following lines in the speech of Ulysses to Achilles, Iliad. lib. ix. I. 253.
῀Ω πεπον, ἡ μεν σοι γε πατηρ επετελλετο Ηελευς
Ηματι τῳ, ὁτε σ’ εκ Φθιης Αγαμεμνονι πεμπε·
Τεκνον εμον, καρτος μεν Αθηναιη τε και Ηρη
Δωσους’, αι κ’ εθελωσι· συ δε μεγαλητορα ϑυμον
Ισχειν εν στηθεσσι· φιλοφοσυνη γαρ αμεινων·
Αηγεμεναι δ’ εριδος κακομηχανου, οφρα σε μαλλον
Τισωσ’ Αργειων ημεν νεοι ηδη γεροντες.
Which are thus elegantly paraphrased by Pope:
When Peleus in his aged arms embrac’d
His parting son, these accents were his last:
“My child! with strength, with glory and success,
Thy arms may Juno and Minerva bless!
Trust that to heaven: but thou thy cares engage
From gentler manners let thy glory grow,
And shun contention, the sure source of woe:
That young and old may in thy praise combine,
The virtues of humanity be thine.”
24. In the original τεκμηριον καθαρον και αχραντον. The reader is requested to adopt the translation of these words given above, instead of the translation of Sydenham, “a fresh proof never used before,” as being more accurate.
25. viz. they are influenced by opinion.
26. Being, considered according to its highest subsistence, is the immediate progeny of the good, or the ineffable principle of things. This is evident from the second hypothesis in the Parmenides.
27. This will be evident from the Timæus.
28. In the twelfth book of his Metaphysics, to my translation of which I refer the English reader.
29. i.e. In being, the summit of the intelligible order.
30. i.e. In intelligible intellect.
31. viz. In the summit of the intelligible and at the same time intellectual order. See the Introduction to the Parmenides.
32. Being, life, and intellect, considered according to their highest subsistence, form the intelligible triad, or the first all-perfect procession from the ineffable cause of all, as is beautifully shown by Proclus in his third book On the Theology of Plato. But that being is beyond life, and life beyond intellect, is evident from this consideration, that the progressions of superior are more extended than those of interior causes. Hence, though whatever lives has a being, and whatever possesses intellect lives, yet some things have being without life or intellect, and others have being and life without intellect. And hence, as the progressions of being are more extended than those of life, and of life than those of intellect, we conclude that being is superior to life, and life to intellect.
33. By reasons here productive principles are signified.
34. Bound and infinite, as will be evident from the Philebus, are the two highest principles, after the ineffable principle of all.