The two charges on which Socrates was condemned to death by the Athenians, sect. 1. The first charge refuted by several arguments: for Socrates used to sacrifice to the gods, 2; he practiced divination, and his daemon was no new god, 2-5; he recommended that the gods should be consulted by man in perplexing circumstances, 6-9; he was guilty of no impiety, he avoided vain speculations respecting the gods, and said that the business of philosophy was the study of virtue, 10-17; his life was in accordance with the precepts of morality, 18-20.

1. I have often wondered by what arguments the accusers of Socrates persuaded the Athenians that he deserved death from the state; for the indictment against him was to this effect: SOCRATES OFFENDS AGAINST THE LAWS IN NOT PAYING RESPECT TO THOSE GODS WHOM THE CITY RESPECTS, AND INTRODUCING OTHER NEW DEITIES; HE ALSO OFFENDS AGAINST THE LAWS IN CORRUPTING THE YOUTH.

2. In the first place, that he did not respect the gods whom the city respects, what proof did they bring? For he was seen frequently sacrificing at home, and frequently on the public altars of the city; nor was it unknown that he used divination; as it was a common subject of talk, that “Socrates used to say that the divinity instructed him;” and it was from this circumstance, indeed, that they seem chiefly to have derived the charge of introducing new deities. 3. He however introduced nothing newer than those who, practicing divination, consult auguries, voices, omens, and sacrifices; for they do not imagine that birds, or people who meet them, know what is advantageous for those seeking presages, but that the gods, by their means, signify what will be so; and such was the opinion that Socrates entertained. 4. Most people say that they are diverted from an object, or prompted to it, by birds, or by the people who meet them; but Socrates spoke as he thought, for he said it was the divinity that was his monitor. He also told many of his friends to do certain things, and not to do others, intimating that the divinity had forewarned him; and advantage attended those who obeyed his suggestions, but repentance, those who disregarded them.

5. Yet who would not acknowledge that Socrates wished to appear to his friends neither a fool nor a boaster? But he would have seemed to be both, if, after saying that intimations were given him by a god, he had then been proved guilty of falsehood. It is manifest, therefore, that he would have uttered no predictions, if he had not trusted that they would prove true. But who, in such matters, would trust to any one but a god? And how could he, who trusted the gods, think that there were no gods?

6. He also acted towards his friends according to his convictions, for he recommended them to perform affairs of necessary consequence in such a manner as he thought that they would be best managed; but concerning those of which it was doubtful how they would terminate, he sent them to take auguries whether they should be done or not. 7. Those who would govern families or cities well, he said, had need of divination; for to become skillful in architecture, or working in brass, or agriculture, or in commanding men, or to become a critic in any such arts, or a good reasoner, or a skillful regulator of a household, or a well-qualified general, he considered as wholly matters of learning, and left to the choice of the human understanding; 8. but he said that the gods reserved to themselves the most important particulars attending such matters, of which nothing was apparent to men; for neither was it certain to him who had sown his field well, who should reap the fruit of it; nor certain to him who had built a house well, who should inhabit it; nor certain to him who was skilled in generalship, whether it would be for his advantage to act as a general; nor certain to him who was versed in political affairs, whether it would be for his profit to be at the head of the state; nor certain to him who had married a beautiful wife in hopes of happiness, whether he should not incur misery by her means; nor certain to him who had acquired powerful connections in the state, whether he might not be banished by them: 9. and those who thought that none of these things depended on the gods, but that all were dependent on the human understanding, he pronounced to be insane; as he also pronounced those to be insane who had recourse to omens respecting matters which the gods had granted to men to discover by the exercise of their faculties; as if, for instance, a man should inquire whether it would be better to take for the driver of his chariot, one who knows how to drive, or one who does not know; or whether it would be better to place over his ship one who knows how to steer it, or one who does not know; or if men should ask respecting matters which they may learn by counting, or measuring, or weighing; for those who inquired of the gods concerning such matters he thought guilty of impiety, and said that it was the duty of men to learn whatever the gods had enabled them to do by learning, and to try to ascertain from the gods by augury whatever was obscure to men; as the gods always afford information to those to whom they are (rendered) propitious.

10. He was constantly in public, for he went in the morning to the places for walking and the gymnasia; at the time when the market was full he was to be seen there; and the rest of the day he was where he was likely to meet the greatest number of people; he was generally engaged in discourse, and all who pleased were at liberty to hear him; 11. yet no one ever either saw Socrates doing, or heard him saying, anything impious or profane; for he did not dispute about the nature of things as most other philosophers disputed, speculating how that which is called by sophists the world was produced, and by what necessary laws everything in the heavens is effected, but endeavored to show that those who chose such objects of contemplation were foolish; 12. and used in the first place to inquire of them whether they thought that they already knew sufficient of human affairs, and therefore proceeded to such subjects of meditation, or whether, when they neglected human affairs entirely, and speculated on celestial matters, they thought that they were doing what became them. 13. He wondered, too, that it was not apparent to them that it is impossible for man to satisfy himself on such points, since even those who pride themselves most on discussing them, do not hold the same opinions one with another, but are disposed towards each other like madmen; 14. for of madmen some have no fear of what is to be feared, and others fear what is not to be feared; some think it no shame to say or do anything whatever before men, and others think that they ought not to go among men at all; some pay no respect to temple, or altar, or anything dedicated to the gods, and others worship stones, and common stocks, and beasts: so of those who speculate on the nature of the universe, some imagine that all that exists is one, others that there are worlds infinite in number; some that all things are in perpetual motion, others that nothing is ever moved; some that all things are generated and decay, and others that nothing is either generated or decays.

15. He would ask, also, concerning such philosophers, whether, as those who have learned arts practiced by men, expect that they will be able to carry into effect what they have learned, either for themselves, or for any one else whom they may wish, so those who inquire into celestial things, imagine that, when they have discovered by what laws everything is effected, they will he able to produce, whenever they please, wind, rain, changes of the seasons, and whatever else of that sort they may desire, or whether they have no such expectation, but are content merely to know how everything of that nature is generated. 16. Such were the observations which he made about those who busied themselves in such speculations; but for himself, he would hold discourse, from time to time, on what concerned mankind, considering what was pious, what impious; what was becoming, what unbecoming; what was just, what unjust; what was sanity, what insanity; what was fortitude, what cowardice; what a state was, and what the character of a statesman; what was the nature of government over men, and the qualities of one skilled in governing them; and touching on other subjects, with which he thought that those who were acquainted were men of worth and estimation, but that those who were ignorant of them might justly be deemed no better than slaves.

17. As to those matters, then, on which Socrates gave no intimation what his sentiments were, it is not at all wonderful that his judges should have decided erroneously concerning him; but it is wonderful that they should have taken no account of such things as all men knew. 18. For when he was a member of the senate, and had taken the senator’s oath, in which it was expressed that he would vote in accordance with the laws, he, being president in the assembly of the people when they were eager to put to death Thrasyllus, Erasinides, and their colleagues, by a single vote contrary to the law, refused, though the multitude were enraged at him, and many of those in power uttered threats against him, to put the question to the vote, but considered it of more importance to observe his oath than to gratify the people contrary to what was right, or to seek safety against those who menaced him; 19. for he thought that the gods paid regard to men, not in the way in which some people suppose, who imagine that the gods know some things and do not know others, but he considered that the gods know all things, both what is said, what is done, and what is meditated in silence, and are present everywhere, and give admonitions to men concerning everything human.

20. I wonder, therefore, how the Athenians were ever persuaded that Socrates had not right sentiments concerning the gods; a man who never said or did anything impious towards the gods, but spoke and acted in such a manner with respect to them, that any other who had spoken and acted in the same manner, would have been, and have been considered, eminently pious.


Reply to the other charge against Socrates. He did not corrupt the youth, for his whole teaching dissuaded them from vice, and encouraged them to temperance and virtue of every kind, sect. 1-8. He exhorted them to obey the laws, 9-11. If Critias and Alcibiades, who listened to his discourses, became corrupt, the fault was not his, 11-28; he endeavored to reclaim them, till they deserted him; and others, who resigned themselves wholly to his instructions, became virtuous and honorable men, 28-48. Other frivolous assertions refuted, 49-60. His benevolence, disinterestedness, and general merits, 61-64.

1. It also seems wonderful to me, that any should have been persuaded that Socrates corrupted the youth; Socrates, who, in addition to what has been said of him, was not only the most rigid of all men in the government of his passions and appetites, but also most able to withstand cold, heat, and every kind of labor; and, besides, so inured to frugality, that, though he possessed very little, he very easily made it a sufficiency. 2. How, then, being of such a character himself, could he have rendered others impious, or lawless, or luxurious, or incontinent, or too effeminate to endure labor? On the contrary, he restrained many of them from such vices, leading them to love virtue, and giving them hopes, that if they would take care of themselves, they would become honorable and worthy characters. 3. Not indeed that he ever professed to be an instructor in that way, but, by showing that he was himself such a character, he made those in his society hope that, by imitating him, they would become such as he was.

4. Of the body he was not neglectful, nor did he commend those who were. He did not approve that a person should eat to excess, and then use immoderate exercise, but recommended that he should work off, by a proper degree of exercise, as much as the appetite received with pleasure; for such a habit, he said, was peculiarly conducive to health, and did not prevent attention to the mind. 5. He was not, however, fine or ostentatious in his clothes or sandals, or in any of his habits of life; yet he did not make those about him lovers of money, for he checked them in this as well as other passions, and asked no remuneration from those who desired his company. 6. He thought that those who refrained from this (demanding a fee) consulted their liberty, and called those who took money for their discourses their own enslavers, since they must of necessity hold discussions with those from whom they received pay. 7. He expressed wonder, too, that any one who professed to teach virtue, should demand money, and not think that he gained the greatest profit in securing a good friend, but fear that he whom he had made an honorable and worthy character would not retain the greatest gratitude towards his greatest benefactor. 8. Socrates, indeed, never expressed so much to any one; yet he believed that those of his associates who imbibed what he approved, would be always good friends both to himself and to others. How then could a man of such a character corrupt the young, unless, indeed, the study of virtue be corruption?

9. “But assuredly,” said the accuser, “he caused those who conversed with him to despise the established laws, by saying how foolish it was to elect the magistrates of a state by beans, when nobody would be willing to take a pilot elected by beans, or an architect, or a flute-player, or a person in any other profession, which, if erroneously exercised, would cause far less harm than errors in the administration of a state;” and declared that “such remarks excited the young to contemn the established form of government, and disposed them to acts of violence.” 10. But I think that young men who exercise their understanding, and expect to become capable of teaching their fellow-citizens what is for their interest, grow by no means addicted to violence, knowing that on violence attend enmity and danger, but that, by persuasion, the same results are attained without peril, and with goodwill; for those who are compelled by us, hate us as if despoiled of something, while those who are persuaded by us, love us as if they had received a favor. It is not the part, therefore, of those who cultivate the intellect to use violence; for to adopt such a course belongs to those who possess brute force without intellect. 11. Besides, he who would venture to use force, had need of no small number of allies, but he who can succeed with persuasion, has need of none, for, though left alone, he would think himself still able to persuade; and it by no means belongs to such men to shed blood, for who would wish to put another man to death rather than to have him as a living subject persuaded to obey?

12. “But,” said the accuser, “Critias and Alcibiades, after having been associates of Socrates, inflicted a great number of evils on the state; for Critias was the most avaricious and violent of all that composed the oligarchy, and Alcibiades was the most intemperate, insolent, and turbulent of all those in the democracy.” 13. For whatever evil they did the state, I shall make no apology; but as to their intimacy with Socrates, I will state how it took place. 14. These two men were by nature the most ambitious of all the Athenians, and wished that everything should be done by their means, and that they themselves should become the most celebrated of all men. But they knew that Socrates lived with the utmost contentment on very small means, that he was most abstinent from every kind of pleasure, and that he swayed those with whom he conversed just as he pleased by his arguments; 15. and, seeing such to be the case, and being such characters as they have just been stated to be, whether will any one say that they sought his society from a desire to lead such a life as Socrates led, and to practice such temperance as he practiced, or from an expectation that, if they associated with him, they would become eminently able to speak and act? 16. I myself, indeed, am of opinion, that if a god had given them their choice, whether they would live their whole lives as they saw Socrates living, or die, they would have chosen rather to die; and they showed this disposition by what they did; for as soon as they considered themselves superior to their associates, they at once started away from Socrates, and engaged in political life, to qualify themselves for which they had sought the society of Socrates.

17. Perhaps some one may observe on this point, that Socrates should not have taught his followers politics before he taught them self-control. To this remark I make no reply at present; but I see that all teachers make themselves examples to their pupils how far they practice what they teach, and stimulate them by precepts; 18. and I know that Socrates made himself an example to those who associated with him as a man of honorable and excellent character, and that he discoursed admirably concerning virtue and other things that concern mankind. I know, too, that those men exercised self-control as long as they conversed with Socrates, not from fear lest they should be fined or beaten by him, but from a persuasion at the time that it was best to observe such conduct.

19. Perhaps, however, many of those who profess to be philosophers may say that a man once just, can ever become unjust, or once modest, immodest; and that no one who has once learned any of those things which can be taught can ever become ignorant of it. But regarding such points I am not of that opinion; for I see that as those who do not exercise the body, cannot perform what is proper to the body, so those who do not exercise the mind, cannot perform what is proper to the mind; for they can neither do that which they ought to do, nor refrain from that from which they ought to refrain. 20. For which reason fathers keep their sons, though they be of a virtuous disposition, from the society of bad men, in the belief that association with the good is an exercise of virtue, but that association with the bad is the destruction of it. One of the poets also bears testimony to this truth, who says,

From good men you will learn what is good; but if you associate with the bad, you will lose the understanding which is in you.

And another, who observes,

A good man is at one time good and at another bad.

21. I also concur with them; for I see that as people forget metrical compositions when they do not practice the repetition of them, so forgetfulness of precepts of instruction is produced in those who neglect them. But where a person forgets moral admonitions, he forgets also what the mind felt when it had a desire for self-government; and, when he forgets this, it is not at all wonderful that he forgets self-government also. 22. I see, too, that those who are given up to a fondness for drinking, and those who have fallen in love, are less able to attend to what they ought to do, and to refrain from what they ought not to do; for many, who can be frugal in their expenses before they fall in love, are, after falling in love, unable to continue so; and, when they have exhausted their resources, they no longer abstain from means of gain from which they previously shrunk as thinking them dishonorable. 23. How is it impossible, then, that he who has once had a control over himself, may afterwards cease to maintain it, and that he who was once able to observe justice, may subsequently become unable? To me everything honorable and good seems to be maintained by exercise, and self-control not the least; for sensual desires, generated in the same body with the soul, are constantly exciting it to abandon self-control, and to gratify themselves and the body as soon as possible.

24. Critias and Alcibiades, then, as long as they associated with Socrates, were able, with the assistance of his example, to maintain a mastery over their immoral inclinations; but, when they were separated from him, Critias, fleeing to Thessaly, formed connections there with men who practiced dishonesty rather than justice; and Alcibiades also, being sought by many women, even of high rank, for his beauty, and being corrupted by many men, who were well able to seduce him by their flattery, on account of his influence in the city and among the allies, and being also honored by the people, and easily obtaining the pre­eminence among them, became like the wrestlers in the gymnastic games, who, when they are fairly superior to others, neglect their exercise; so he grew neglectful of self-control. 25. When such was their fortune, and when they were proud of their birth, elated with their wealth, puffed up with their power, corrupted by many associates, demoralized by all these means, and long absent from Socrates, what wonder is it if they became headstrong? 26. And then, if they did anything wrong, does the accuser blame Socrates for it? and does Socrates seem to the accuser deserving of no praise, for having, when they were young, and when it is likely that they were most inconsiderate and intractable, rendered them discreet? 27. Yet other affairs are not judged of in such a way; for what flute-player, or what teacher of the harp, or what other instructor, if he produces competent pupils, and if they, attaching themselves to other masters, become less skillful, is blamed for their deterioration? Or what father, if his son, while he associated with one man, should be virtuous, but afterwards, on uniting himself to some other person, should become vicious, would blame the former of the two? would he not rather, the more corrupt his son became with the second, bestow the greater praise on the first? Not even parents themselves, when they have their sons in their society, are blamed if their sons do anything wrong, provided they themselves are correct in their conduct. 28. In the same manner it would be right to judge of Socrates; if he had done anything immoral, he would justly be thought to be a bad man; but if he constantly observed morality, how can he reasonably bear the blame of vice which was not in him?

29. Or even if he himself did nothing wrong, but commended others when he saw them doing wrong, he would justly be censured. When he perceived, however, that Critias was enamored of Euthydemus, and was seeking to have the enjoyment of his society, like those who abuse the persons of others for licentious purposes, he dissuaded him from his intention, by saying that it was illiberal, and unbecoming a man of honor and proper feeling, to offer supplications to the object of his affections, with whom he wished to be held in high esteem, beseeching and entreating him, like a beggar, to grant a favor, especially when such favor was for no good end. 30. But as Critias paid no regard to such remonstrances, and was not diverted from his pursuit, it is said that Socrates, in the presence of many others as well as of Euthydemus, observed that “Critias seemed to him to have some feeling like that of a pig, as he wished to rub against Euthydemus as swine against stones.” 31. Critias, in consequence, conceived such a hatred to Socrates, that when he was one of the Thirty Tyrants, and was appointed a law-maker with Charicles, he remembered the circumstance to his disadvantage, and inserted in his laws that “none should teach the art of disputation,” intending an insult to Socrates, yet not knowing how to affect him in particular, but laying to his charge what was imputed to the philosophers by the multitude, and calumniating him to the people; at least such is my opinion; for I myself never heard this from Socrates, nor do I remember having known any one say that he heard it from him. 32. But Critias made it appear so; for when the Thirty had put to death many of the citizens, and those not of the inferior class, and had encouraged many to acts of injustice, Socrates happened to observe, that “it seemed surprising to him if a man, becoming herdsman of a herd of cattle, and rendering the cattle fewer and in worse condition, should not confess that he was a bad herdsman, and still more surprising if a man, becoming governor of a city, and rendering the people fewer and in worse condition, should not feel ashamed, and be conscious of being a bad governor of the city.” 33. This remark being repeated to the Thirty, Critias and Charicles summoned Socrates before them, showed him the law, and forbade him to hold discourse with the youth. Socrates inquired of them, if he might be permitted to ask a question as to any point in the prohibitions that might not be understood by him. They gave him permission. 34. “Then,” said he, “I am prepared to obey the laws; but that I may not unconsciously transgress through ignorance, I wish to ascertain exactly from you, ‘whether it is because you think that the art of reasoning is an auxiliary to what is rightly spoken, or to what is not rightly spoken, that you give command to abstain from it; for if it be an adjunct to what is rightly spoken, it is plain that we have to abstain from speaking rightly; but if to what is not rightly spoken, it is plain that we ought to endeavor to speak rightly.’” 35. Charicles, falling into a passion with him, said, “Since, Socrates, you are ignorant of this particular, we give you an order more easy to be understood, not to discourse at all with the young.” “That it may not be doubtful, then,” said Socrates, “whether I do anything contrary to what is enjoined, define for me till what age I must consider men to be young.” “As long,” replied Charicles, “as they are not allowed to fill the office of senator, as not being yet come to maturity of understanding; and do not discourse with such as are under thirty years of age.” 36. “And if I wish to buy anything,” said Socrates, “and a person under thirty years of age has it for sale, may I not ask him at what price he sells it?” “Yes, such questions as these,” replied Charicles, “but you are accustomed to ask most of your questions about things, when you know very well how they stand; such questions, therefore, do not ask.” “If then any young man,” said he, “should ask me such a question as ‘where does Charicles live?’ or ‘where is Critias?’ may I not answer him if I know?” “Yes, you may answer such questions,” said Charicles. 37. “But,” added Critias, “it will be necessary for you to abstain from speaking of those shoemakers, and carpenters, and smiths; indeed I think that they must now be worn out, from being so often in your mouth.” “I must therefore,” said Socrates, “abstain from the lessons I draw from these people, viz., lessons of justice, piety, and other such subjects.” “Yes, by Jupiter,” retorted Charicles, “and you must abstain from lessons taken from herdsmen; for, if you do not, take care lest you yourself make the cattle fewer.” 38. Hence it was evident that they were angry with Socrates on account of his remark about the cattle having been reported to them.

What sort of intercourse Critias had with Socrates, and how they stood towards each other, has now been stated. 39. But I would say that no regular training is derived by any one from a teacher who does not please him; and Critias and Alcibiades did not associate with Socrates, while their association with him lasted, as being an instructor that pleased them, but they were, from the very first, eager to be at the head of the state, for, while they still attended Socrates, they sought to converse with none more than with those who were most engaged in affairs of government. 40. Alcibiades, it is said, before he was twenty years of age, held the following discourse with Pericles, who was his guardian, and chief ruler of the state, about laws. 41. “Tell me,” said he, “Pericles, can you teach me what a law is?” “Certainly,” replied Pericles. “Teach me then, in the name of the gods,” said Alcibiades, “for I, hearing some persons praised as being obedient to the laws, consider that no one can fairly obtain such praise who does not know what a law is.” 42. “You desire no very difficult matter, Alcibiades,” said Pericles, “when you wish to know what a law is; for all those regulations are laws, which the people, on meeting together and approving them, have enacted, directing what we should do and what we should not do.” “And whether do they direct that we should do good things, or that we should do bad things?” “Good, by Jupiter, my child,” said he, “but bad by no means.” 43. “And if it should not be the whole people, but a few, as where there is an oligarchy, that should meet together, and enact what we are to do, what are such enactments?” “Everything,” replied Pericles, “which the supreme power in the state, on determining what the people ought to do, has enacted, is called a law.” “And if a tyrant, holding rule over the state, prescribes to the citizens what they must do, is such prescription called a law?” “Whatever a tyrant in authority prescribes,” returned Pericles, “is also called a law.” 44. “What then, Pericles,” asked Alcibiades, “is force and lawlessness? Is it not when the stronger obliges the weaker, not by persuasion, but by compulsion, to do what he pleases?” “So it appears to me,” replied Pericles. “Whatever then a tyrant compels the people to do, by enacting it without gaining their consent, is that an act of lawlessness?” “Yes,” said Pericles, “it appears to me that it is, for I retract my admission that what a tyrant prescribes to the people without persuading them, is a law.” 45. “But what the few enact, not from gaining the consent of the many, but from having superior power, should we say that that is force, or that it is not?” “Everything,” said Pericles, “which one man obliges another to do without gaining his consent, whether he enact it in writing or not, seems to me to be force rather than law.” “Whatever, then, the whole people, when they are stronger than the wealthier class, enact without their consent, would be an act of force rather than a law?” 46. “Certainly, Alcibiades,” said Pericles; “and I, when I was of your age, was very acute at such disquisitions; for we used to meditate and argue about such subjects as you now appear to meditate.” “Would therefore,” said Alcibiades, “that I had conversed with you, Pericles, at the time when you were most acute in discussing such topics!” 47. When Alcibiades and Critias, therefore, began to think themselves superior to those who were then governing the state, they no longer attended Socrates (for he was not agreeable to them in other respects, and they were offended, if they went to him at all, at being reproved for any error that they had committed), but devoted themselves to political employments, with a view to which they had at first associated with Socrates. 48. But Crito was also an attendant on Socrates, as well as Chaerephon, Chaerecrates, Hermocrates, Simmias, Cebes, and Phaedondes, who, with others that attended him, did not seek his society that they might be fitted for popular orators or forensic pleaders, but that, becoming honorable and good men, they might conduct themselves irreproachably towards their families, connections, dependants, and friends, as well as towards their country and their fellow-citizens; and no one of all these, whether in youth or at a more advanced age, either was guilty, or was accused, of any crime.

49. “But Socrates,” said the accuser, “taught children to show contempt for their parents, persuading his followers that he rendered them wiser than their fathers, and observing that a son was allowed by the law to confine his father on convicting him of being deranged, using that circumstance as an argument that it was lawful for the more ignorant to be confined by the wiser.” 50. But what Socrates said was, that he thought he who confined another for ignorance, might justly be himself confined by those who knew what he did not know; and, with a view to such cases, he used to consider in what respect ignorance differed from madness, and expressed his opinion that madmen might be confined with advantage to themselves and their friends, but that those who did not know what they ought to know, might reasonably learn from those who did know.

51. “But Socrates,” proceeded the accuser, “not only caused parents, but other relations, to be held in contempt by his followers, saying that relatives were of no profit to people who were sick, or to people going to law, but that physicians aided the one, and lawyers the other.” 52. The accuser asserted, too, that Socrates said concerning friends that “it was of no profit that they were well-disposed, unless they were able also to assist; and that he insisted that those only were deserving of honor who knew what was for the advantage of others and could make it intelligible to them; and that by thus persuading the young that he himself was the wisest of mankind, and most capable of making others wise, he so disposed his pupils towards him, that other people were of no account with them in comparison with himself.” 53. I am aware, indeed, that he did express himself concerning parents and other relatives, and concerning friends, in such a manner as this; and used to say, besides, that when the soul has departed, in which alone intelligence exists, men take away the body of their dearest friend, and put it out of sight as soon as possible. 54. He was accustomed to say, also, that every man, while he is alive, removes of himself from his own body, which he loves most of all things, and allows others to remove from it, everything that is useless and unprofitable; since men themselves take off portions of their nails, and hair, and callous parts, and resign themselves to surgeons to cut and burn them with labor and pain, and think it their duty even to pay them money for their operations; and the saliva from the mouth, he said, men spit away as far as possible, because, while it is in the mouth, it profits them nothing, but is far more likely to harm them. 55. But such observations Socrates uttered, not to teach any one of his followers to bury his father alive, or to cut himself to pieces, but, by showing that what is senseless is worthless, he exhorted each to study to become as intelligent and useful as possible, so that, whether he wished to be honored by his father, by his brother, or by any one else, he might not be neglectful of himself through trusting to his relationship, but might endeavor to be serviceable to those by whom he desired to he respected.

56. The accuser also said that Socrates, selecting the worst passages of the most celebrated poets, and using them as arguments, taught those who kept him company to he unprincipled and tyrannical. The verse of Hesiod, for example,

Work is no disgrace, but idleness is a disgrace,

they say that he used to explain as intimating that the poet bids us abstain from no kind of work, dishonest or dishonorable, but to do such work for the sake of profit. 57. But when Socrates maintained that to be busy was useful and beneficial for a man, and that to be unemployed was noxious and ill for him, that to work was a good, and to be idle an evil, he at the same time observed that those only who do something good really work, and are useful workmen, but those who gamble, or do anything bad and pernicious, he called idle; and in this view the sentiment of the poet will be unobjectionable,

Work is no disgrace, but idleness is a disgrace.

58. That passage of Homer, too, the accuser stated that he often used to quote, in which it is said that Ulysses,

Whatever king or eminent hero he found,
Stood beside him, and detained him with gentle words:
“Illustrious chief, it is not fit that you should shrink back as a coward;
Sit down yourself, and make the rest of the people sit down.”
But whatever man of the people he noticed, and found clamoring,
He struck him with his staff, and rebuked him with words:
“Worthless fellow, sit down in peace, and hear the exhortations of others,
Who are much better than you; for you are unwarlike and powerless,
Neither of account in the field nor in the council.”

59. And he said that he used to explain it as if the poet recommended that plebeians and poor people should be beaten. Socrates, however, said no such thing (for he would thus have given an opinion that he himself ought to be beaten), but what he did say was, that those who benefited others neither by word nor deed, and who were incapable of serving the army, or the state, or the common people, if necessity should arise, should, especially if, in addition to their incapacity, they were of an insolent spirit, be curbed in every way, even though they might be ever so rich. 60. But, contrary to the charge of the accuser, Socrates was evidently a friend to the common people, and of a liberal disposition; for though he received numbers of persons desirous to hear him discourse, as well citizens as foreigners, he never required payment for his communications from any one, but imparted to every one in abundance from his stores, of which some receiving fragments from him for nothing, sold them at a great price to others, and were not, like him, friends to the common people, for they declined to converse with such as had not money to give them. 61. But Socrates, in the eyes of other men, conferred glory on the city, far more than Lichas, who was celebrated in this respect, on that of the Lacedaemonians; for Lichas indeed entertained the strangers that visited Lacedaemon at the Gymnopaediae, but Socrates, through the whole course of his life, freely imparted whatever he had to bestow, and thus benefited in the highest degree all who were willing to receive from him, making those who associated with him better before he let them go.

62. To me, therefore. Socrates, being a man of such a character, appeared to be worthy of honor rather than of death; and any one, considering his case according to the laws, would find such to be the fact; for, by the laws, death is the punishment for a man if he be found stealing, or stripping people of their clothes, or cutting purses, or housebreaking, or kidnapping, or committing sacrilege, of which crimes Socrates was the most innocent of all men. 63. Nor was he ever the cause of any war ending unfortunately for the state, or of any sedition or treachery; nor did he ever, in his private transactions, either deprive any man of what was for his good, or involve him in evil; nor did he ever lie under suspicion of any of the crimes which I have mentioned.

64. How then could he have been guilty of the charges brought against him? a man who, instead of not acknowledging the gods, as was stated in the indictment, evidently paid respect to the gods more than other men; and instead of corrupting the youth, as the accuser laid to his charge, plainly led such of his associates as had vicious inclinations, to cease from indulging them, and exhorted them to cherish a love of that most honorable and excellent virtue, by which men successfully govern states and families. How then, pursuing such a course of conduct, was he not deserving of great honor from the city?


Confirmation of the character of Socrates given in the preceding chapters. He worshipped the gods, and exhorted others to worship them, sect. 1. His notions how the gods were to be supplicated, 2. His judgment as to what was acceptable to them in a sacrifice, 3. His regard for omens, 4. His observance of temperance, and recommendation of it to others, 5-15.

1. But to show how he appeared to improve those who associated with him, partly by showing them what his character was, and partly by his conversation, I shall record whatever I can remember of him relating to these points.

As to what had reference to the gods, then, he evidently acted and spoke in conformity with the answer which the priestess of Apollo gives to those who inquire how they ought to proceed with regard to a sacrifice, to the worship of their ancestors, or to any such matter; for the priestess replies that they will act piously, if they act in agreement with the law of their country; and Socrates both acted in this manner himself, and exhorted others to act similarly; and such as acted in any other way he regarded as doing what was not to the purpose, and guilty of folly.

2. To the gods he simply prayed that they would give him good things, as believing that the gods knew best what things are good; and those who prayed for gold, or silver, or dominion, or anything of that kind, he considered to utter no other sort of requests than if they were to pray that they might play at dice, or fight, or do anything else of which it is quite uncertain what the result will be.

3. When he offered small sacrifices from his small means, he thought that he was not at all inferior in merit to those who offered numerous and great sacrifices from ample and abundant means; for he said that it would not become the gods to delight in large rather than in small sacrifices; since, if such were the case, the offerings of the bad would oftentimes be more acceptable to them than those of the good; nor would life be of any account in the eyes of men, if oblations from the bad were better received by the gods than oblations from the good; but he thought that the gods had most pleasure in the offerings of the most pious. He also used to quote, with approbation, the verse,

Perform sacrifices to the gods according to your ability,

and used to say that it was a good exhortation to men, with regard to friends, and guests, and all other relations of life, to perform according to their ability.

4. If anything appeared to be intimated to him from the gods, he could no more have been persuaded to act contrary to such intimation, than any one could have persuaded him to take for his guide on a journey a blind man, or one who did not know the way, instead of one who could see, and did know it; and he condemned the folly of others, who act contrary to what is signified by the gods, through anxiety to avoid the ill opinion of men. As for himself, he undervalued everything human, in comparison with counsel from the gods.

5. He disciplined his mind and body by such a course of life, that he who should adopt a similar one, would, if no supernatural influence prevented, live in good spirits and uninterrupted health; nor would he ever be in want of the necessary expenses for it. So frugal was he, that I do not know whether any one could earn so little by the labor of his hands, as not to procure sufficient to have satisfied Socrates. He took only so much food as he could eat with a keen relish; and, to this end, he came to his meals so disposed that the appetite for his meat was the sauce to it. Every kind of drink was agreeable to him, because he never drank unless he was thirsty. 6. If he ever complied with an invitation to go to a feast, he very easily guarded, what is extremely difficult to most men, against loading his stomach to excess. Those who were unable to do so, he advised to be cautious of eating when they were not hungry, and of drinking when they were not thirsty; for he said that those were the things that disordered the stomach, the head, and the mind; 7. and he used to say, in jest, that he thought Circe transformed men into swine, by entertaining them with abundance of such luxuries, but that Ulysses, through the admonition of Mercury, and through being himself temperate, and forbearing to partake of such delicacies to excess, was in consequence not changed into a swine.

8. Such jests he would utter on these subjects, but with an earnest meaning. As to love, his counsel was to abstain rigidly from familiarity with beautiful persons; for he observed that it was not easy to be in communication with such persons, and observe continence. Hearing, on one occasion, that Critobulus, the son of Criton, had kissed the son of Alcibiades, a handsome youth, he asked Xenophon, in the presence of Critobulus, saying, “Tell me, Xenophon, did you not think that Critobulus was one of the modest rather than the forward, one of the thoughtful rather than of the thoughtless and inconsiderate?” 9. “Certainly,” replied Xenophon. “You must now, then, think him extremely headstrong and daring; one who would even spring upon drawn swords, and leap into the fire.” 10. “And what,” said Xenophon, “have you seen him doing, that you form this opinion of him?” “Why, has he not dared,” rejoined Socrates, “to kiss the son of Alcibiades, a youth extremely handsome, and in the flower of his age?” “If such a deed,” returned Xenophon, “is one of daring and peril, I think that even I could undergo such peril.” 11. “Unhappy man!” exclaimed Socrates, “and what do you think that you incur by kissing a handsome person? Do you not expect to become at once a slave instead of a freeman? To spend much money upon hurtful pleasures? To have too much occupation to attend to anything honorable and profitable? And to be compelled to pursue what not even a madman would pursue?” 12. “By Hercules,” said Xenophon, “what extraordinary power you represent to be in a kiss!” “Do you wonder at this?” rejoined Socrates; “are you not aware that the Tarantula, an insect not as large as half an obolus, by just touching a part of the body with its mouth, wears men down with pain, and deprives them of their senses?” “Yes, indeed,” said Xenophon, “but the Tarantula infuses something when it bites.” 13. “And do you not think, foolish man,” rejoined Socrates, “that beautiful persons infuse something when they kiss, something which you do not see? Do you not know that the animal, which they call a handsome and beautiful object, is so much more formidable than the Tarantula, as those insects instill something when they touch, but this creature, without even touching, but if a person only looks at it, though from a very great distance, instills something of such potency, as to drive people mad? Perhaps indeed Cupids are called archers for no other reason but because the beautiful wound from a distance. But I advise you, Xenophon, whenever you see any handsome person, to flee without looking behind you; and I recommend to you, Critobulus, to absent yourself from hence for a year, for perhaps you may in that time, though hardly indeed, be cured of your wound.”

14. Thus he thought that those should act with regard to objects of love who were not secure against the attractions of such objects; objects of such a nature, that if the body did not at all desire them, the mind would not contemplate them, and which, if the body did desire them, should cause us no trouble. For himself, he was evidently so disciplined with respect to such matters, that he could more easily keep aloof from the fairest and most blooming objects than others from the most deformed and unattractive.

15. Such was the state of his feelings in regard to eating, drinking, and amorous gratification; and he believed that he himself, with self-restraint, would have no less pleasure from them, than those who took great trouble to pursue such gratifications, and that he would suffer far less anxiety.


Socrates not only exhorted men to practice virtue, but led them to the practice of it; his dialogue with Aristodemus, sect. 1, 2. Things formed for a purpose, must be the production, not of chance, but of reason, 3, 4. The human frame is a structure of great excellence, and admirably fitted for its purposes; and we must therefore suppose that man is the object of divine forethought, 5-7. The order of things throughout the universe shows that it is under the providence of a superior nature, 8, 9. The superiority of man over the inferior animals proves that he is more immediately under the care of the higher powers, 10-14. The gods also give instruction to man as to his conduct, 15. That they care for man both individually and collectively is evident from various considerations, 15, 16. As the mind governs the body, so the providence of the gods governs the world, 17. If men therefore worship the gods rightly, they may feel persuaded that the gods will be ready to aid them, 18, 19.

1. But if any suppose that Socrates, as some write and speak of him on conjecture, was excellently qualified to direct men to virtue, but incapable of leading them forward in it, let them, considering not only the arguments with which he refuted those who thought that they knew everything; asking them questions in order to check them; but what he used to say in his daily intercourse with his associates, form an opinion whether he was capable of making those who conversed with him better. 2. I will first mention what I myself once heard him advance in a dialogue with Aristodemus, surnamed The Little, concerning the gods; for having heard that Aristodemus neither sacrificed to the gods, when engaged on any enterprise, nor attended to auguries, but ridiculed those who regarded such matters, he said to him, “Tell me, Aristodemus, do you admire any men for their genius?” “I do,” replied he. “Tell us their names, then,” said Socrates. 3. “In epic poetry I most admire Homer, in dithyrambic Melanippides, in tragedy Sophocles, in statuary Polycletus, in painting Zeuxis.” 4. “And whether do those who form images without sense and motion, or those who form animals endowed with sense and vital energy, appear to you the more worthy of admiration?” “Those who form animals, by Jupiter, for they are not produced by chance, but by understanding.” “And regarding things of which it is uncertain for what purpose they exist, and those evidently existing for some useful purpose, which of the two would you say were the productions of chance, and which of intelligence?” “Doubtless those which exist for some useful purpose must be the productions of intelligence.” 5. “Does not he, then,” proceeded Socrates, “who made men at first, appear to you to have given them, for some useful purpose, those parts by which they perceive different objects, the eyes to see what is to be seen, the ears to hear what is to be heard? What would be the use of smells, if no nostrils had been assigned us? What perception would there have been of sweet and sour, and of all that is pleasant to the mouth, if a tongue had not been formed in it to have a sense of them? 6. In addition to these things, does it not seem to you like the work of forethought, to guard the eve, since it is tender, with eyelids, like doors, which, when it is necessary to use the sight, are set open, but in sleep are closed? To make the eyelashes grow as a screen, that winds may not injure it? To make a coping on the parts above the eyes with the eyebrows, that the perspiration from the head may not annoy them? To provide that the ears may receive all kinds of sounds, yet never be obstructed? and that the front teeth in all animals may be adapted to cut, and the back teeth to receive food from them and grind it? To place the mouth, through which animals take in what they desire, near the eyes and the nose? and since what passes off from the stomach is offensive, to turn the channels of it away, and remove them as far as possible from the senses?—can you doubt whether such a disposition of things, made thus apparently with attention, is the result of chance or of intelligence?” 7. “No, indeed,” replied Aristodemus, “but to one who looks at those matters in this light, they appear like the work of some wise maker who studied the welfare of animals.” “And to have engendered in them a love of having offspring, and in mothers a desire to rear their progeny, and to have implanted in the young that are reared a desire of life, and the greatest dread of death?” “Assuredly these appear to be the contrivances of some one who designed that animals should continue to exist.”

8. “And do you think that you yourself have any portion of intelligence?” “Question me, at least, and I will answer.” “And can you suppose that nothing intelligent exists anywhere else? When you know that you have in your body but a small portion of the earth, which is vast, and a small portion of the water, which is vast, and that your frame is constituted for you to receive only a small portion of each of other things, that are vast, do you think that you have seized for yourself, by some extraordinary good fortune, intelligence alone which exists nowhere else, and that this assemblage of vast bodies, countless in number, is maintained in order by something void of reason?” 9. “Yes; for I do not see the directors of these things, as I see the makers of things which are done here.” “Nor do you see your own soul, which is the director of your body; so that, by like reasoning, you may say that you yourself do nothing with understanding, but everything by chance.”

10. “However, Socrates,” said Aristodemus, “I do not despise the gods, but consider them as too exalted to need my attention.” “But,” said Socrates, “the more exalted they are, while they deign to attend to you, the more ought you to honor them.” 11. “Be assured,” replied Aristodemus, “that if I believed the gods took any thought for men, I would not neglect them.” “Do you not, then, believe that the gods take thought for men? the gods who, in the first place, have made man alone, of all animals, upright (which uprightness enables him to look forward to a greater distance, and to contemplate better what is above, and to be less liable to injury, and have placed the eyes, and ears, and mouth); and, in the next place, have given to other animals only feet, which merely give them the capacity of walking, while to men they have added hands, which execute most of those things through which we are better off than they. 12. And though all animals have tongues, they have made that of man alone of such a nature, as, by touching sometimes one part of the mouth, and sometimes another, to express articulate sounds, and to signify everything that we wish to communicate one to another. Do you not see, too, that to other animals they have so given the pleasures of sexual intercourse as to limit them to a certain season of the year, but that they allow them to us uninterruptedly till extreme old age? 13. Nor did it satisfy the gods to take care of the body merely, but, what is most important of all, they implanted in him the soul, his most excellent part. For what other animal has a soul to understand, first of all, that the gods, who have arranged such a vast and noble order of things, exist? What other species of animal, besides man, offers worship to the gods? What other animal has a mind better fitted than that of man, to guard against hunger or thirst, or cold or heat, or to relieve disease, or to acquire strength by exercise, or to labor to attain knowledge; or more capable of remembering whatever it has heard, or seen, or learned? 14. Is it not clearly evident to you, that, in comparison with other animals, men live like gods, excelling them by nature, both in body and mind? For an animal, having the body of an ox, and the understanding of a man, would be unable to execute what it might meditate; and animals which have hands, but are without reason, have no advantage over others; and do you, who share both these excellent endowments, think that the gods take no thought for you? What then must they do, before you will think that they take thought for you?” 15. “I will think so,” observed Aristodemus, “when they send me, as you say that they send to you, monitors, to show what I ought, and what I ought not, to do.” “But when they send admonitions to the Athenians, on consulting them by divination, do you not think that they admonish you also? Or when they give warnings to the Greeks by sending portents, or when they give them to the whole human race, do they except you alone from the whole, and utterly neglect you? 16. Do you suppose, too, that the gods would have engendered a persuasion in men that they are able to benefit or injure them, unless they were really able to do so, and that men, if they had been thus perpetually deluded, would not have become sensible of the delusion? Do you not see that the oldest and wisest of human communities, the oldest and wisest cities and nations, are the most respectful to the gods, and that the wisest age of man is the most observant of their worship? 17. Learn also, my good youth,” continued Socrates, “that your mind, existing within your body, directs your body as it pleases; and it becomes you therefore to believe that the intelligence pervading all things directs all things as may be agreeable to it, and not to think that while your eye can extend its sight over many furlongs, that of the divinity is unable to see all things at once, or that while your mind can think of things here, or things in AEgypt or Sicily, the mind of the deity is incapable of regarding everything at the same time. 18. If, however, as you discover, by paying court to men, those who are willing to pay court to you in return, and, by doing favors to men, those who are willing to return your favors, and as, by asking counsel of men, you discover who are wise, you should, in like manner, make trial of the gods by offering worship to them, whether they will advise you concerning matters hidden from man, you will then find that the divinity is of such power, and of such a nature, as to see all things and hear all things at once, to be present everywhere, and to have a care for all things at the same time.”

19. By delivering such sentiments, Socrates seems to me to have led his associates to refrain from what was impious, or unjust, or dishonorable, not merely when they were seen by men, but when they were in solitude, since they would conceive that nothing that they did would escape the knowledge of the gods.


Temperance and self-control recommended: he that is destitute of temperance can be profitable or agreeable neither to himself nor others, sect. 1-4. Without temperance nothing can be learned or done with due effect, 5. Socrates not only encouraged to temperance by precepts, but by his example, 6.

1. If temperance, moreover, be an honorable and valuable quality in a man, let us consider whether he at all led (men) to it by reflections of the following kind. “If, my friends, when a war was coming upon us, we should wish to choose a man by whose exertions we might ourselves be preserved, and might gain the mastery over our enemies, should we select one whom we knew to be unable to resist gluttony, or wine, or sensuality, or fatigue, or sleep? How could we think that such a man would either serve us, or conquer our adversaries? 2. Or if, being at the close of life, we should wish to commit to any one the guardianship of our sons, or the care of our unmarried daughters, or the preservation of our property, should we think an intemperate man worthy of confidence for such purposes? Should we entrust to an intemperate slave our herds, our granaries, or the superintendence of our agriculture? Should we be willing to accept such a slave as an agent, or purveyor, even for nothing? 3. But if we would not even accept an intemperate slave, how can it be otherwise than important for every man to take care that he himself does not become such a character? For the intemperate man is not injurious to his neighbor and profitable to himself (like the avaricious, who, by despoiling others of their property, seem to enrich themselves), but, while he is mischievous to others, is still more mischievous to himself, if it is, indeed, mischievous in the highest degree, to ruin not only his family, but his body and mind. 4. In society, too, who could find pleasure in the company of such a man, who, he would be aware, felt more delight in eating and drinking than in intercourse with his friends, and preferred the company of harlots to that of his fellows? Is it not the duty of every man to consider that temperance is the foundation of every virtue, and to establish the observance of it in his mind before all things? 5. For who, without it, can either learn anything good, or sufficiently practice it? Who, that is a slave to pleasure, is not in an ill condition both as to his body and his mind? It appears to me, by Juno, that a freeman ought to pray that he may never meet with a slave of such a character, and that he who is a slave to pleasure should pray to the gods that he may find well-disposed masters; for by such means only can a man of that sort be saved.”

6. While such were the remarks that he made, he proved himself more a friend to temperance by his life than by his words; for he was not only superior to all corporeal pleasures, but also to those attendant on the acquisition of money; thinking that he who received money from any one, set up a master over himself, and submitted to a slavery as disgraceful as any that could be.


Three dialogues of Socrates with Antipho. I. Antipho ridicules the poverty and frugality of Socrates, and his forbearance to receive pay for his instructions, sect. 1-3; Socrates replies that, by not receiving remuneration, he is more at liberty to choose his audience, 4, 5; that there are various advantages attendant on plainness of diet and dress, 6, 7; that the frugal man has the advantage over the man of pleasure in facilities for self-improvement, for doing his duty to his country, and for securing general happiness, 8-10. II. Antipho asserts that Socrates might be a just man, but was by no means wise, in accepting no payment, 11, 12; Socrates replies that to sell wisdom is to degrade it, and that more good is gained by the acquisition of friends than of money, 13, 14. III. Antipho asks Socrates why, when he trained others to manage public affairs, he took no part in public affairs himself; Socrates replies that he was of more service to his country by training many to govern it, than he could have been by giving his single aid in the government of it, 15.

1. It is due to Socrates, also, not to omit the dialogues which he held with Antipho the sophist. Antipho, on one occasion, wishing to draw away his associates from him, came up to Socrates, when they were present, and said, 2. “I thought, Socrates, that those who studied philosophy were to become happier than other men; but you seem to have reaped from philosophy fruits of an opposite kind; at least you live in a way in which no slave would continue to live with his master; you eat food, and drink drink, of the worst kind; you wear a dress, not only bad, but the same both summer and winter, and you continue shoeless and coatless. 3. Money, which cheers men when they receive it, and enables those who possess it to live more generously and pleasantly, you do not take; and if, therefore, as teachers in other professions make their pupils imitate themselves, you also shall produce a similar effect on your followers, you must consider yourself but a teacher of wretchedness.” 4. Socrates, in reply to these remarks, said, “You seem to me, Antipho, to have conceived a notion that I live so wretchedly, that I feel persuaded you yourself would rather choose to die than pass your life as I pass mine, Let us then consider what it is that you find disagreeable in my mode of life. 5. Is it that while others, who receive money, must perform the service for which they receive it, while I, who receive none, am under no necessity to discourse with any one that I do not like? Or do you despise my way of living, on the supposition that I eat less wholesome or less strengthening food than yourself? Or is it that my diet is more difficult to procure than yours, as being more rare and expensive? Or is it that what you procure for yourself is more agreeable to you than what I provide for myself is to me? Do you not know that he who eats with the most pleasure is he who least requires sauce, and that he who drinks with the greatest pleasure is he who least desires other drink than that which he has? 6. You know that those who change their clothes, change them because of cold and heat, and that men put on sandals that they may not be prevented from walking through annoyances to the feet; but have you ever observed me remaining at home, on account of cold, more than any other man, or fighting with any one for shade because of heat, or not walking wherever I please because my feet suffer? 7. Do you not know that those who are by nature the weakest, become, by exercising their bodies, stronger in those things for which they exercise them, than those who neglect them, and bear the fatigue of exercise with greater ease? And do you not think that I, who am constantly preparing my body by exercise to endure whatever may happen to it, bear everything more easily than you who take no exercise? 8. And to prevent me from being a slave to gluttony, or sleep, or other animal gratifications, can you imagine any cause more efficient than having other objects of attention more attractive than they, which not only afford pleasure in the moment of enjoying them, but give hopes that they will benefit me perpetually? You are aware of this also, that those who think themselves successful in nothing, are far from being cheerful, but that those who regard their agriculture, their seamanship, or whatever other occupation they pursue, as going on favorably for them, are delighted as with present success? 9. But do you think that from all these gratifications so much pleasure can arise as from the consciousness that you are growing better yourself, and are acquiring more valuable friends? Such is the consciousness, then, which I continue to enjoy.

“But if there should be occasion to assist our friends or our country, which of the two would have most leisure to attend to such objects, he who lives as I live now, or he who lives, as you think, in happiness? Which of the two would most readily seek the field of battle, he who cannot exist without expensive dishes, or he who is content with whatever comes before him? Which of the two would sooner be reduced by a siege, he who requires what is most difficult to be found, or he who is fully content with what is easiest to be met with? 10. You, Antipho, resemble one who thinks that happiness consists in luxury and extravagance; but I think that to want nothing is to resemble the gods, and that to want as little as possible is to make the nearest approach to the gods; that the Divine nature is perfection, and that to be nearest to the Divine nature is to be nearest to perfection.”

11. On another occasion, Antipho, in a conversation with Socrates, said, “I consider you indeed to be a just man, Socrates, but by no means a wise one; and you appear to me yourself to be conscious of this; for you ask money from no one for the privilege of associating with you; although, if you considered a garment of yours, or a house, or any other thing that you possess, to be worth money, you would not only not give it to anybody for nothing, but you would not take less than its full value for it. 12. It is evident, therefore, that if you thought your conversation to be worth anything, you would demand for it no less remuneration than it is worth. You may, accordingly, be a just man, because you deceive nobody from covetousness, but wise you cannot be, as you have no knowledge that is of any value.” 13. Socrates, in reply, said, “It is believed among us, Antipho, that it is possible to dispose of beauty, or of wisdom, alike honorably or dishonorably; for if a person sells his beauty for money to any one that wishes to purchase, men call him a male prostitute; but if any one makes a friend of a person whom he knows to be an admirer of what is honorable and worthy, we regard him as prudent: and, in like manner, those who sell their wisdom for money, to any that will buy, men call sophists, or, as it were, prostitutors of wisdom; but whoever makes a friend of a person whom he knows to be deserving, by teaching him all the good that he knows, we consider him to act the part which becomes an honorable and good citizen. 14. As any other man, therefore, Antipho, takes delight in a good horse, or dog, or bird, so I, to a still greater degree, take delight in valuable friends; and, if I know anything good, I communicate it to them, and recommend them, also, to any other teachers by whom I conceive that they will be at all advanced in virtue. The treasures, too, of the wise men of old, which they have left written in books, I turn over and peruse in company with my friends, and if we find anything good in them, we pick it out, and think it a great gain if we thus become useful to one another.” To me, who heard him utter these sentiments, Socrates appeared to be both happy himself, and to lead those that listened to him to honor and virtue.

15. Again, when Antipho asked him how he imagined that he could make men statesmen, when he himself took no part in state affairs, if indeed he knew anything of them, “In which of the two ways,” said he, “Antipho, should I better promote the management of affairs; if I myself engage in them alone, or if I make it my care that as many as possible may be qualified to engage in them?”


Dissuasions from ostentation. He that desires to be distinguished, should endeavor to be what he would wish to seem. He that pretends to be what he is not, exposes himself to great inconvenience and ridicule, and may bring disgrace and detriment on his country.

1. Let us consider also, whether, by dissuading his followers from ostentation, he excited them to pursue virtue. He always used to say that there was no better road to honorable distinction, than that by which a person should become excellent in that in which he wished to appear excellent.

2. That he said what was just, he used to prove by the following arguments. “Let us consider,” he would say, “what a person must do, if, not being a good flute-player, he should wish to appear so? Must he not imitate good flute-players in the adjuncts of their art? In the first place, as flute-players procure fine dresses, and go about with a great number of attendants, he must act in a similar manner; and as many people applaud them, he must get many to applaud him; yet he must never attempt to perform, or he will at once be shown to be ridiculous, and not only a bad flute-player, but a vain boaster. Thus, after having been at great expense without the least benefit, and having, in addition, incurred evil repute, how will he live otherwise than in uneasiness, unprofitableness, and derision?

3. “In like manner, if any one should wish to be thought a good general, or a good steersman of a ship, without being so, let us reflect what would happen. If, when he longed to seem capable of performing the duties of those characters, he should be unable to persuade others of his capability, would not this be a trouble to him? and, if he should persuade them of it, would it not be still more unfortunate for him? For it is evident that he who is appointed to steer a vessel, or to lead an army, without having the necessary knowledge, would be likely to destroy those whom he would not wish to destroy, and would come off himself with disgrace and suffering.”

4. By similar examples he showed that it was of no profit for a man to appear rich, or valiant, or strong, without being so; for he said that demands were made upon such persons too great for their ability, and that, not being able to comply with them, when they seemed to be able, they met with no indulgence.

5. He called him, also, no small impostor, who, obtaining money or furniture from his neighbor by persuasion, should defraud him; but pronounced him the greatest of all impostors, who, possessed of no valuable qualifications, should deceive men by representing himself capable of governing his country. To me he appeared, by discoursing in this manner, to deter his associates from vain boasting.



Socrates, suspecting that Aristippus, a man of pleasure, was aspiring to a place in the government, admonishes him that temperance is an essential qualification in a statesman, sect. 1-7. But as Aristippus says that he looked only to a life of leisure and tranquil enjoyment, Socrates introduces the question, whether those who govern, or those who are governed, live the happier life, 8-10. Aristippus signifies that he wished neither to govern nor to be governed, but to enjoy liberty; and Socrates shows that such liberty as he desired is inconsistent with the nature of human society, 11-13. Aristippus still adhering to his own views, and declaring his intention not to remain in any one country, but to visit and sojourn in many, Socrates shows him the dangers of such a mode of life, 14-16. But as Aristippus proceeds to accuse those of folly who prefer a life of toil in the affairs of government to a life of ease, Socrates shows the difference between those who labor voluntarily, and those who labor from compulsion, and observes that nothing good is given to mortals without labor, 17-20; in illustration of which remark he relates the fable of Prodicus, THE CHOICE OF HERCULES, 21-34.

1. He appeared also to me, by such discourses as the following, to exhort his hearers to practice temperance in their desires for food, drink, sensual gratification, and sleep, and endurance of cold, heat, and labor. But finding that one of his associates was too intemperately disposed with regard to such matters, he said to him, “Tell me, Aristippus, if it were required of you to take two of our youths and educate them, the one in such a manner that he would be qualified to govern, and the other in such a manner that he would never seek to govern, how would you train them respectively? Will you allow us to consider the matter by commencing with their food, as with the first principles?” “Food, indeed,” replied Aristippus, “appears to me one of the first principles; for a person could not even live if he were not to take food.” 2. “It will be natural for them both, then,” said Socrates, “to desire to partake of food when a certain hour comes?” “It will be natural,” said Aristippus. “And which of the two, then,” said Socrates, “should we accustom to prefer the discharge of any urgent business to the gratification of his appetite?” “The one undoubtedly,” rejoined Aristippus, “who is trained to rule, that the business of the state may not be neglected through his laziness.” “And on the same person,” continued Socrates, “we must, when they desire to drink, impose the duty of being able to endure thirst?” “Assuredly,” replied Aristippus. 3. “And on which of the two should we lay the necessity of being temperate in sleep, so as to be able to go to rest late, to rise early, or to remain awake if it should be necessary?” “Upon the same, doubtless.” “And on which of the two should we impose the obligation to control his sensual appetites, that he may not be hindered by their influence from discharging whatever duty may be required of him?” “Upon the same.” “And on which of the two should we enjoin the duty of not shrinking from labor, but willingly submitting to it?” “This also is to be enjoined on him who is trained to rule.” “And to which of the two would it more properly belong to acquire whatever knowledge would assist him to secure the mastery over his rivals?” “Far more, doubtless, to him who is trained to govern, for without such sort of acquirements there would be no profit in any of his other qualifications.” 4. “A man, then, who is thus instructed, would appear to you less liable to be surprised by his enemies than other animals, of which some, we know, are caught by their greediness; and others, though very shy, are yet attracted to the bait by their desire to swallow it, and consequently taken; while others also are entrapped by drink.” “Indisputably,” replied Aristippus. “Are not others, too, caught through their lust, as quails and partridges, which, being attracted to the call of the female by desire and hope of enjoyment, and losing all consideration of danger, fall into traps?” To this Aristippus expressed his assent. 5. “Does it not then,” proceeded Socrates, “appear to you shameful for a man to yield to the same influence as the most senseless of animals; as adulterers, for instance, knowing that the adulterer is in danger of suffering what the law threatens, and of being watched, and disgraced if caught, yet enter into closets; and, though there are such dangers and dishonors hanging over the intriguer, and so many occupations that will safely keep him from the desire of sensual gratification, does it not seem to you the part of one tormented with an evil genius, to run, nevertheless, into imminent peril?” “It does seem so to me,” said Aristippus. 6. “And since the greater part of the most necessary employments of life, such as those of war and agriculture, and not a few others, are to be carried on in the open air, does it not appear to you to show great negligence, that the majority of mankind should he wholly unexercised to bear cold and heat?” Aristippus replied in the affirmative. “Does it not then appear to you that we ought to train him who is intended to rule, to bear these inconveniences also without difficulty?” “Doubtless,” answered Aristippus. 7. “If, therefore, we class those capable of enduring these things among those who are qualified to govern, shall we not class such as are incapable of enduring them among those who will not even aspire to govern?” Aristippus expressed his assent. “In conclusion, then, since you know the position of each of these classes of men, have you ever considered in which of them you can reasonably place yourself?” 8. “I have indeed,” said Aristippus, “and I by no means place myself in the class of those desiring to rule; for it appears to me that, when it is a task of great difficulty to procure necessaries for one’s self, it is the mark of a very foolish man not to be satisfied with that occupation, but to add to it the labor of procuring for his fellow-countrymen whatever they need. And is it not the greatest folly in him, that while many things which he desires are out of his reach, he should, by setting himself at the head of the state, subject himself, if he does not accomplish all that the people desire, to be punished for his failure? 9. For the people think it right to use their governors as I use my slaves; for I require my slaves to supply me with the necessaries of life in abundance, but to touch none of them themselves; and the people think it the duty of their governors to supply them with as many enjoyments as possible, but themselves to abstain from all of them. Those, therefore, who wish to undertake much business themselves, and to provide it for others, I would train in this manner, and rank among those qualified to govern; but myself I would number with those who wish to pass their lives in the greatest possible ease and pleasure.”

10. Socrates then said, “Will you allow us to consider this point also, whether the governors or the governed live with the greater pleasure?” “By all means,” said Aristippus. “In the first place, then, of the nations of which we have any knowledge, the Persians bear rule in Asia, and the Syrians, Phrygians, and Lydians are under subjection; the Scythians govern in Europe, and the Maeotians are held in subjection; the Carthaginians rule in Africa, and the Libyans are under subjection. Which of these do you regard as living with the greater pleasure? Or among the Greeks, of whom you yourself are, which of the two appear to you to live more happily, those who rule, or those who are in subjection?” 11. “Yet, on the other hand,” said Aristippus, “I do not consign myself to slavery; but there appears to me to be a certain middle path between the two, in which I endeavor to proceed, neither through power nor through slavery, but through liberty, a path that most surely conducts to happiness.” 12. “If this path of yours, indeed,” said Socrates, “as it lies neither through sovereignty nor servitude, did not also lie through human society, what you say would perhaps be worth consideration; but if, while living among mankind, you shall neither think proper to rule nor to be ruled, and shall not willingly pay respect to those in power, I think that you will see that the stronger know how to treat the weaker as slaves, making them to lament both publicly and privately, 13. Do those escape your knowledge who cut their corn and fell their trees when others have sown and planted them, and who assail in every way such as are inferior to them, and are unwilling to flatter them, until they prevail on them to prefer slavery to carrying on war against their superiors? In private life, too, do you not see that the spirited and strong enslave the timorous and weak, and enjoy the fruits of their labors?” “But for my part,” answered Aristippus, “in order that I may not suffer such treatment, I shall not shut myself up in any one state, but shall be a traveller everywhere.” 14. “Doubtless,” rejoined Socrates, “this is an admirable trick that you propose; for since Sinnis, and Sciron, and Procrustes were killed, nobody injures travellers. Yet those who manage the government in their several countries, even now make laws, in order that they may not be injured, and attach to themselves, in addition to such as are called their necessary connections, other supporters; they also surround their cities with ramparts, and procure weapons with which they may repel aggressors, securing, besides all these means of defense, other allies from abroad; and yet those who have provided themselves with all these bulwarks, nevertheless suffer injury; 15. and do you, having no protection of the sort, spending a long time on roads on which a very great number are outraged, weaker than all the inhabitants of whatever city you may arrive at, and being such a character as those who are eager to commit violence most readily attack, think, nevertheless, that you will not be wronged because you are a stranger? Or are you without fear, because these cities proclaim safety to any one arriving or departing? Or because you think that you are such a slave as would profit no master, for who would wish to keep in his house a man not at all disposed to labor, and delighting in the most expensive fare? 16. But let us consider how masters treat slaves of such a sort. Do they not tame down their fondness for dainties by hunger? Do they not hinder them from stealing by excluding them from every place from whence they may take anything? Do they not prevent them from running away by putting fetters on them? Do they not overcome their laziness by stripes? Or how do you yourself act, when you find any one of your slaves to be of such a disposition?” 17. “I chastise him,” said Aristippus, “with every kind of punishment, until I compel him to serve me. But how do those, Socrates, who are trained to the art of ruling, which you seem to me to consider as happiness, differ from those who undergo hardships from necessity, since they will have (though it be with their own consent) to endure hunger, and thirst, and cold, and want of sleep, and suffer all other inconveniences of the same kind? 18. For I, for my own part, do not know what difference it makes to a man who is scourged on the same skin, whether it be voluntarily or involuntarily, or, in short, to one who suffers with the same body in all such points, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, except that folly is to be attributed to him who endures troubles voluntarily.” “What then, Aristippus,” said Socrates, “do not voluntary endurances of this kind seem to you to differ from the involuntary, inasmuch as he who is hungry from choice may eat when he pleases, and he who is thirsty from choice may drink when he pleases, the same being the case with regard to other voluntary sufferings, while he who endures such hardships from necessity has no liberty to relieve himself from them when he wishes? Besides, he who undergoes trouble willingly, is cheered contemplating a successful issue, as the hunters of wild animals bear fatigue with pleasure in the hope of capturing them. 19. And such rewards of toil are indeed but of small worth; but as for those who toil that they may acquire valuable friends, or that they may subdue their enemies, or they may, by becoming vigorous in body and mind, manage their own household judiciously, and be of service to their friends and of advantage to their country, how can you think that they labor for such objects otherwise than cheerfully, or that they do not live in happiness, esteeming themselves, and being praised and envied by others? 20. But indolence, moreover, and pleasures which offer themselves without being sought, are neither capable of producing a good constitution of body, as the teachers of gymnastic exercises say, nor do they bring to the mind any knowledge worthy of consideration; but exercises pursued with persevering labor lead men to the attainment of honorable and valuable objects, as worthy men inform us; and Hesiod somewhere says,

Vice it is possible to find in abundance and with ease; for the way to it is smooth, and lies very near. But before the temple of Virtue the immortal gods have placed labor, and the way to it is long and steep, and at the commencement rough; but when the traveller has arrived at the summit, it then becomes easy, however difficult it was at first.

A sentiment to which Epicharmus gives his testimony in this verse,

The gods for labor sell us all good things;

and in another place he says,

O wretched mortal, desire not what is soft, lest you find what is hard.

21. Prodicus the sophist, also, in his narrative concerning Hercules, which indeed he declaims to most people as a specimen of his ability, expresses a similar notion respecting virtue, speaking, as far as I remember, to the following effect: For he says that Hercules, when he was advancing from boyhood to manhood, a period at which the young, becoming their own masters, begin to give intimations whether they will enter on life by the path of virtue or that of vice, went forth into a solitary place, and sat down, perplexed as to which of these two paths he should pursue; 22. and that two female figures, of lofty stature, seemed to advance towards him, the one of an engaging and graceful mien, gifted by nature with elegance of form, modesty of look, and sobriety of demeanor, and clad in a white robe; the other fed to plumpness and softness, but made up both in her complexion, so as to seem fairer and rosier than she really was, and in her gesture, so as to seem more upright than she naturally was; she had her eyes wide open, and a robe through which her beauty would readily show itself; she frequently contemplated her figure, and looked about to see if any one else was observing her; and she frequently glanced back at her own shadow. 23. As they approached nearer to Hercules, she, whom I first described, came forward at the same pace, but the other, eager to get before her, ran up to Hercules, and exclaimed, “I see that you are hesitating, Hercules, by what path you shall enter upon life; if, then, you make a friend of me, I will conduct you by the most delightful and easy road, and you shall taste of every species of pleasure, and pass through life without experiencing difficulties. 24. In the first place, you shall take no thought of wars or state affairs, but shall pass your time considering what meat or drink you may find to gratify your appetite, what you may delight yourself by seeing or hearing, what you may be pleased with smelling or touching, with what objects of affection you may have most pleasure in associating, how you may sleep most softly, and how you may secure all these enjoyments with the least degree of trouble. 25. If an apprehension of want of means, by which such delights may be obtained, should ever arise in you, there is no fear that I shall urge you to procure them by toil or suffering either of body or mind; but you shall enjoy what others acquire by labor, abstaining from nothing by which it may be possible to profit, for I give my followers liberty to benefit themselves from any source whatever.”

26. Hercules, on hearing this address, said, “And what, O woman, is your name?” “My friends,” she replied, “call me Happiness, but those who hate me, give me, to my disparagement, the name of Vice.”

27. In the meantime the other female approached, and said, “I also am come to address you, Hercules, because I know your parents, and have observed your disposition in the training of your childhood, from which I entertain hopes that if you direct your steps along the path that leads to my dwelling, you will become an excellent performer of whatever is honorable and noble, and that I shall appear more honorable and distinguished in goodness. I will not deceive you, however, with promises of pleasure, but will set before you things as they really are, and as the gods have appointed them; 28. for of what is valuable and excellent, the gods grant nothing to mankind without labor and care; and if you wish the gods, therefore, to be propitious to you, you must worship the gods; if you seek to be beloved by your friends, you must serve your friends; if you desire to be honored by any city, you must benefit that city; if you claim to be admired by all Greece for your merit, you must endeavor to be of advantage to all Greece; if you are anxious that the earth should yield you abundance of fruit, you must cultivate the earth; if you think that you should enrich yourself from herds of cattle, you must bestow care upon herds of cattle; if you are eager to increase your means of war, and to secure freedom to your friends and subdue your enemies, you must learn the arts of war, and learn them from such as understand them, and practice how to use them in the right way; or if you wish to be vigorous in body, you must accustom your body to obey your mind, and exercise it with toil and exertion.”

29. Here Vice, interrupting her speech, said (as Prodicus relates), “Do you see, Hercules, how difficult and tedious a road to gratification this woman describes to you, while I shall lead you, by an easy and short path, to perfect happiness?”

30. “Wretched being,” rejoined Virtue, “of what good are you in possession? Or what real pleasure do you experience, when you are unwilling to do anything for the attainment of it? You, who do not even wait for the natural desire of gratification, but fill yourself with all manner of dainties before you have an appetite for them, eating before you are hungry, drinking before you are thirsty, procuring cooks that you may eat with pleasure, buying costly wines that you may drink with pleasure, and running about seeking for snow in summer; while, in order to sleep with pleasure, you prepare not only soft beds, but couches, with rockers under your couches, for you do not desire sleep in consequence of labor, but in consequence of having nothing to do; you force the sensual inclinations before they require gratification, using every species of contrivance for the purpose, and abusing male and female; for thus it is that you treat your friends, insulting their modesty at night, and making them sleep away the most useful part of their day. 31. Though you are one of the immortals, you are cast out from the society of the gods, and despised by the good among mankind; the sweetest of all sounds, the praises of yourself, you have never heard, nor have you ever seen the most pleasing of all sights, for you have never beheld one meritorious work of your own hand. Who would believe you when you give your word for anything? Or who would assist you when in need of anything? Or who, that has proper feeling, would venture to join your company of revellers? for while they are young they grow impotent in body, and when they are older they are impotent in mind; they live without labor, and in fatness, through their youth, and pass laboriously, and in wretchedness, through old age; ashamed of what they have done, oppressed with what they have to do, having run through their pleasures in early years, and laid up afflictions for the close of life. 32. But I am the companion of the gods; I associate with virtuous men; no honorable deed, divine or human, is done without me; I am honored, most of all, by the deities, and by those among men to whom it belongs to honor me, being a welcome co-operator with artisans, a faithful household guardian to masters, a benevolent assistant to servants, a benign promoter of the labors of peace, a constant auxiliary to the efforts of war, an excellent sharer in friendship. 33. My friends have a sweet and untroubled enjoyment of meat and drink, for they refrain from them till they feel an appetite. They have also sweeter sleep than the idle; and are neither annoyed if they lose a portion of it, nor neglect to do their duties for the sake of it. The young are pleased with praises from the old; the old are delighted with honors from the young. They remember their former acts with pleasure, and rejoice to perform their present occupations with success; being, through my influence, dear to the gods, beloved by their friends, and honored by their country. And when the destined end of life comes, they do not lie in oblivion and dishonor, but, celebrated with songs of praise, flourish for ever in the memory of mankind. By such a course of conduct, O Hercules, son of noble parents, you may secure the most exalted happiness.”

34. Nearly thus it was that Prodicus related the instruction of Hercules by Virtue; adorning the sentiments, however, with far more magnificent language than that in which I now give them. It becomes you, therefore, Aristippus, reflecting on these admonitions, to endeavor to think of what concerns the future period of your life.


A dialogue between Socrates and his son Lamprocles, who had expressed resentment against his mother, on the duty of children to their parents. The ungrateful are to be deemed unjust, sect. 1, 2. The greater benefits a person has received, the more unjust is he if he is ungrateful; and there are no greater benefits than those which children experience from their parents, 3-6. Hence it follows that a son ought to reverence his mother, though she be severe, when he knows that her severity proceeds from kind motives, 7-12. How great a crime the neglect of filial duty is, appears from the fact that it is punished by the laws and execrated by mankind, 13, 14.

1. Having learned, one day, that Lamprocles, the eldest of his sons, had exhibited anger against his mother, “Tell me, my son,” said he, “do you know that certain persons are called ungrateful?” “Certainly,” replied the youth. “And do you understand how it is they act that men give them this appellation?” “I do,” said Lamprocles, “for it is those that have received a kindness, and that do not make a return when they are able to make one, whom they call ungrateful.” “They then appear to you to class the ungrateful with the unjust?” “I think so.” 2. “And have you ever considered whether, as it is thought unjust to make slaves of our friends, but just to make slaves of our enemies, so it is unjust to be ungrateful towards our friends, but just to be so towards our enemies?” “I certainly have,” answered Lamprocles, “and from whomsoever a man receives a favor, whether friend or enemy, and does not endeavor to make a return for it, he is in my opinion unjust.”

3. “If such, then, be the case,” pursued Socrates, “ingratitude must be manifest injustice?” Lamprocles expressed his assent. “The greater benefits, therefore, a person has received, and makes no return, the more unjust he must be.” He assented to this position also. “Whom, then,” asked Socrates, “can we find receiving greater benefits from any persons than children receive from their parents? children whom their parents have brought from non-existence into existence, to view so many beautiful objects, and to share in so many blessings, as the gods grant to men; blessings which appear to us so inestimable, that we shrink, in the highest degree, from relinquishing them; and governments have made death the penalty for the most heinous crimes, in the supposition that they could not suppress injustice by the terror of any greater evil. 4. You do not, surely, suppose that men beget children merely to gratify their passions, since the streets are full, as well as the brothels, of means to allay desire; but what we evidently consider, is, from what sort of women the finest children may be born to us, and, uniting with them, we beget children. 5. The man maintains her who joins with him to produce offspring, and provides, for the children that are likely to be born to him, whatever he thinks will conduce to their support, in as great abundance as he can; while the woman receives and bears the burden, oppressed and endangering her life, and imparting a portion of the nutriment with which she herself is supported; and, at length, after bearing it the full time, and bringing it forth with great pain, she suckles and cherishes it, though she has received no previous benefit from it, nor does the infant know by whom it is tended, nor is it able to signify what it wants, but she, conjecturing what will nourish and please it, tries to satisfy its calls, and feeds it for a long time, both night and day, submitting to the trouble and not knowing what return she will receive for it. 6. Nor does it satisfy the parents merely to feed their offspring, but as soon as the children appear capable of learning anything, they teach them whatever they know that may be of use for their conduct in life; and whatever they consider another more capable of communicating than themselves, they send their sons to him at their own expense, and take care to adopt every course that their children may be as much improved as possible.”

7. Upon this the young man said, “But, even if she has done all this, and many times more than this, no one, assuredly, could endure her ill-humor.” “And which do you think,” asked Socrates, “more difficult to be endured, the ill-humor of a wild beast, or that of a mother?” “I think,” replied Lamprocles, “that of a mother, at least of such a mother as mine is.” “Has she ever then inflicted any hurt upon you, by biting or kicking you, as many have often suffered from wild beasts?” 8. “No; but, by Jupiter, she says such things as no one would endure to hear for the value of all that he possesses.” “And do you reflect,” returned Socrates, “how much grievous trouble you have given her by your peevishness, by voice and by action, in the day and in the night, and how much anxiety you have caused her when you were ill?” “But I have never said or done anything to her,” replied Lamprocles, “at which she could feel ashamed.” 9. “Do you think it, then,” inquired Socrates, “a more difficult thing for you to listen to what she says, than for actors to listen when they utter the bitterest reproaches against one another in tragedies?” “But actors, I imagine, endure such reproaches easily, because they do not think that, of the speakers, the one who utters reproaches, utters them with intent to do harm, or that the one who utters threats, utters them with any evil purpose.” “Yet you are displeased at your mother, although you well know that whatever she says, she not only says nothing with intent to do you harm, but that she wishes you more good than any other human being. Or do you suppose that your mother meditates evil towards you?” “No indeed,” said Lamprocles, “that I do not imagine.” 10. “Do you then say that this mother,” rejoined Socrates, “who is so benevolent to you, who, when you are ill, takes care of you, to the utmost of her power, that you may recover your health, and that you may want nothing that is necessary for you, and who, besides, entreats the gods for many blessings on your head, and pays vows for you, is a harsh mother? For my part, I think that if you cannot endure such a mother, you cannot endure anything that is good. 11. But tell me,” continued he, “whether you think that you ought to pay respect to any other human being, or whether you are resolved to try to please nobody, and to follow or obey neither a general nor any other commander?” “No indeed,” replied Lamprocles, “I have formed no such resolution.” 12. “Are you then willing,” inquired Socrates, “to cultivate the good-will of your neighbor, that he may kindle a fire for you when you want it, or aid you in obtaining some good, or, if you happen to meet with any misfortune, may assist you with willing and ready help?” “I am,” replied he. “Or would it make no difference,” rejoined Socrates, “whether a fellow-traveller, or fellow-voyager, or any other person that you met with, should be your friend or enemy? Or do you think that you ought to cultivate their good-will?” “I think that I ought,” replied Lamprocles. 13. “You are then prepared,” returned Socrates, “to pay attention to such persons; and do you think that you ought to pay no respect to your mother, who loves you more than any one else? Do you not know that the state takes no account of any other species of ingratitude, nor allows any action at law for it, overlooking such as receive a favor and make no return for it, but that if a person does not pay due regard to his parents, it imposes a punishment on him, rejects his services, and does not allow him to hold the archonship, considering that such a person cannot piously perform the sacrifices offered for the country, or discharge any other duty with propriety and justice. Indeed if any one does not keep up the sepulchres of his dead parents, the state inquires into it in the examinations of candidates for office. 14. You therefore, my son, if you are wise, will entreat the gods to pardon you if you have been wanting in respect towards your mother, lest, regarding you as an ungrateful person, they should be disinclined to do you good; and you will have regard, also, to the opinion of men, lest, observing you to be neglectful of your parents, they should all contemn you, and you should then be found destitute of friends; for if men surmise that you are ungrateful towards your parents, no one will believe that if he does you a kindness he will meet with gratitude in return.”


Socrates, hearing that two brothers, Chaerephon and Chaerecrates, had quarrelled, recommends brotherly love to Chaerecrates by the following arguments. A brother ought to be regarded as a friend, and esteemed more than wealth, sect. 1; for wealth is an uncertain possession, if the possessor of it is destitute of friends, 2, 3. Fraternal love an appointment of Nature; and men who have brothers are more respected than those who have none, 4. Even though a brother should conceive ill feelings towards us, we should still endeavor to conciliate him, 5-9. How such conciliation may be effected, 10-14. The endeavor to conciliate is still more the duty of a younger than of an elder brother, and the more noble the disposition of a brother is, the more easy will it be to conciliate him, 15-17. Brothers should act in unison with one another, like different members of the same body, 18, 19.

1. Socrates, having observed that Chaerephon and Chaerecrates, two brothers well known to him, were at variance with each other, and having met with Chaerecrates, said, “Tell me, Chaerecrates, you surely are not one of those men, are you, who think wealth more valuable than brothers, when wealth is but a senseless thing, and a brother endowed with reason, when wealth needs protection, while a brother can afford protection, and when wealth, besides, is plentiful, and a brother but one? 2. It is wonderful, too, that a man should consider brothers to be a detriment to him, because he does not possess his brothers’ fortunes, while he does not consider his fellow-citizens to be a detriment, because he does not possess their fortunes; but, in the latter case, he can reason with himself, that it is better for him, living in society with many, to enjoy a competency in security, than, living alone, to possess all the property of his fellow-citizens in fear of danger, while, with regard to brothers, he knows not how to apply such reasoning. 3. Those who are able, too, purchase slaves, that they may have helpers in their work, and procure friends, as being in need of supporters, while they neglect their brothers, as if friends could be made of fellow-citizens, but could not be made of brothers. 4. Yet it surely conduces greatly to friendship to have been born of the same parents, and to have been brought up together, since, even among brutes, a certain affection springs up between those that are reared together. In addition to these considerations, men pay more respect to those who have brothers than to those who have none, and are less forward to commit aggression on them.”

5. To this Chaerecrates made answer, “If, indeed, Socrates, the dissension between us were not great, it might perhaps be my duty to bear with my brother, and not shun his society for slight causes; for a brother, as you say, is a valuable possession, if he be such as he ought to be; but when he is nothing of the sort, and is indeed quite the reverse of what he should be, why should any one attempt impossibilities?” 6. “Whether, then, Chaerecrates,” rejoined Socrates, “is Chaerephon unable to please anybody, as he is unable to please you, or are there some whom he certainly can please?” “Yes,” replied Chaerecrates, “for it is for this very reason that I justly hate him, that he can please others, while to me he is on all occasions, whenever he comes in contact with me, a harm rather than a good, both in word and deed.” 7. “Is the case then thus,” said Socrates, “that as a horse is a harm to him who knows not how to manage him, and yet tries to do so, so a brother is a harm, when a person tries to manage him without knowing how to do it?” 8. “But how can I be ignorant,” replied Chaerecrates, “how to manage my brother, when I know how to speak well of him who speaks well of me, and to do well to him who does well to me? As to one, however, who seeks to vex me both by word and deed, I should not be able either to speak well of him, or to act well towards him, nor will I try.” 9. “You speak strangely, Chaerecrates,” rejoined Socrates, “for if a dog of yours were of service to watch your sheep, and fawned upon your shepherds, but snarled when you approached him, you would forbear to show any ill feeling towards him, but would endeavor to tame him by kindness; but as for your brother, though you admit that he would be a great good to you if he were such as he ought to be, and though you confess that you know how to act and speak well with respect to him, you do not even attempt to contrive how he may be of as great service as possible to you.” 10. “I fear, Socrates,” replied Chaerecrates, “that I have not wisdom enough to render Chaerephon such as he ought to be towards me.” “Yet there is no need to contrive anything artful or novel to act upon him,” said Socrates, “as it appears to me; for I think that he may be gained over by means which you already know, and may conceive a high esteem for you.” 11. “Will you not tell me first,” said the other, “whether you have observed that I possess any love-charm, which I was not aware that I knew?” “Answer me this question,” said Socrates: “if you wished to induce any one of your acquaintance, when he offered sacrifice, to invite you to his feast, what would you do?” “I should doubtless begin by inviting him when I offered sacrifice.” 12. “And if you wished to prevail on any of your friends to take care of your property, when you went from home, what would you do?” “I should certainly first undertake to take care of his property, when he went from home.” 13. “And if you wished to induce an acquaintance in a foreign land to receive you hospitably when you visited his country, what would you do?” “I should unquestionably be the first to receive him hospitably when he came to Athens; and if I wished him to be desirous to effect for me the objects for which I went thither, it is clear that I must first confer a similar service on him.” 14. “Have you not long been concealing that you are acquainted with all the love-charms that exist among mankind? Or are you afraid,” continued Socrates, “to make the first advances, lest you should seem to degrade yourself, if you should be the first to propitiate your brother? Yet he is thought to be a man deserving of great praise, who is the first to do harm to the enemy, and to do good to his friends. If, then, Chaerephon had appeared to me more likely than you to lead to this frame of mind, I would have endeavored to persuade him first to try to make you his friend; but, as things stand, you seem more likely, if you take the lead, to effect the desired object.” 15. “You speak unreasonably, Socrates,” rejoined Chaerecrates, “and not as might be expected from you, when you desire me, who am the younger, to take the lead; for the established practice among all men is quite the reverse, being that the elder should always be first, both to act and speak.” 16. “How,” said Socrates; “is it not the custom everywhere that the younger should yield the path to the elder when he meets him, not to receive him sitting, to honor him with a soft couch, and give place to him in conversation? Do not therefore hesitate, my good young friend, but endeavor to conciliate the man, and he will very soon listen to you. Do you not see how fond of honor, and how liberal-minded, he is? Mean-minded persons you cannot attract more effectually than by giving them something; but honorable and good men you may best gain by treating them in a friendly spirit.” 17. “But what if he should become no kinder,” said Chaerecrates, “after I have done what you advise?” “What other risk,” said Socrates, “will you run but that of showing that you are kind and full of brotherly affection, and that he is mean-spirited and unworthy of any kindness? But I apprehend no such result; for I conceive that when he finds you challenging him to such a contest, he will be extremely emulous to excel you in doing kindnesses both by word and deed. 18. At present, you are in the same case as if the two hands, which the gods have made to assist each other, should neglect this duty, and begin to impede each other; or as if the two feet, formed by divine providence to cooperate with one another, should give up this office, and obstruct one another. 19. Would it not be a great folly and misfortune to use for our hurt what was formed for our benefit? And indeed, as it appears to me, the gods have designed brothers to be of greater mutual service than the hands, or feet, or eyes, or other members which they have made in pairs for men; for the hands, if required to do things, at the same time, at greater distance than a fathom, would be unable to do them; the feet cannot reach two objects, at the same time, that are distant even a fathom; and the eyes, which seem to reach to the greatest distance, cannot, of objects that are much nearer, see at the same time those that are before and behind them; but brothers, if they are in friendship, can, even at the greatest distance, act in concert and for mutual benefit.”


On the value of friendship. Many are more desirous to acquire property than friends, sect. 1-4. But no species of property is more valuable, lasting, and useful than a good friend: his qualities enumerated, 5-7.

1. I heard him, also, on one occasion, holding a discourse concerning friends, by which, as it seems to me, a person might be greatly benefited, both as to the acquisition and use of friends; for he said that he had heard many people observe that a true and honest friend was the most valuable of all possessions, but that he saw the greater part of mankind attending to anything rather than securing friends. 2. He observed them, he added, industriously endeavoring to procure houses and lands, slaves, cattle, and furniture; but as for a friend, whom they called the greatest of blessings, he saw the majority considering neither how to procure one, nor how those whom they had might be retained. 3. Even when friends and slaves were sick, he said that he noticed people calling in physicians to their slaves, and carefully providing other means for their recovery, but paying no attention to their friends; and that, if both died, they grieved for their slaves, and thought that they had suffered a loss, but considered that they lost nothing in losing friends. Of their other possessions they left nothing untended or unheeded, but when their friends required attention, they utterly neglected them.

4. In addition to these remarks, he observed that he saw the greater part of mankind acquainted with the number of their other possessions, although they might be very numerous, but of their friends, though but few, they were not only ignorant of the number, but even when they attempted to reckon it to such as asked them, they set aside again some that they had previously counted among their friends; so little did they allow their friends to occupy their thoughts. 5. Yet in comparison with what possession, of all others, would not a good friend appear far more valuable? What sort of horse, or yoke of oxen, is so useful as a truly good friend? What slave is so well-disposed or so attached, or what other acquisition so beneficial? 6. For a good friend interests himself in whatever is wanting on the part of his friend, whether in his private affairs, or for the public interests; if he is required to do a service to any one, he assists him with the means; if any apprehension alarms him, he lends him his aid, sometimes sharing expenditure with him, sometimes co-operating with him, sometimes joining with him to persuade others, sometimes using force towards others; frequently cheering him when he is successful, and frequently supporting him when he is in danger of falling. 7. What the hands do, what the eyes foresee, what the ears hear, what the feet accomplish, for each individual, his friend, of all such services, fails to perform no one; and oftentimes, what a person has not effected for himself, or has not seen, or has not heard, or has not accomplished, a friend has succeeded in executing for his friend; and yet, while people try to foster trees for the sake of their fruit, the greater portion of mankind are heedless and neglectful of that most productive possession which is called a friend.


On the different estimation in which different friends are to be held. We ought to examine ourselves, and ascertain at what value we may expect our friends to hold us.

1. I heard one day another dissertation of his, which seemed to me to exhort the hearer to examine himself, and ascertain of how much value he was to his friends. Finding that one of his followers was neglectful of a friend who was oppressed with poverty, he asked Antisthenes, in the presence of the man that neglected his friend, and of several others, saying, “Are there certain settled values for friends, Antisthenes, as there are for slaves? 2. For, of slaves, one, perhaps, is worth two minae, another not even half a mina, another five minae, another ten. Nicias, the son of Niceratus, is said to have bought an overseer for his silver mines at the price of a whole talent. Let us therefore consider whether, as there are certain values for slaves, there are also certain values for friends.” 3. “There are, undoubtedly,” replied Antisthenes; “at least I, for my part, should wish one man to be my friend rather than have two minae; another I should not value even at half a mina; another I should prefer to ten minae; and another I would buy for my friend at the sacrifice of all the money and trouble in the world.” 4. “If such be the case, therefore,” said Socrates, “it would be well for each of us to examine himself, to consider of what value he is in the estimation of his friends; and to try to be of as much value to them as possible, in order that his friends may be less likely to desert him; for I often hear one man saying that his friend has abandoned him, and another, that a person whom he thought to be his friend has preferred a mina to him. 5. I am considering, accordingly, whether, as one sells a bad slave, and parts with him for whatever he will fetch, so there may be a temptation to give up a worthless friend, when there is an opportunity of receiving more than he is worth. Good slaves I do not often see sold at all, or good friends abandoned.”


What sort of persons we should choose for our friends, sect. 1-5. How we may ascertain the characters of men, before we form a friendship with them, 6, 7. How we may attach men to us as friends, 8-13. Friendship can exist only between the good and honorable, 14-19; between whom it will continue to subsist in spite of differences of opinion, 19-28. Deductions from the preceding remarks, 29-39.

1. He appeared to me, also, to make his followers wise in examining what sort of persons it was right to attach to themselves as friends, by such conversations as the following. “Tell me, Critobulus,” said he, “if we were in need of a good friend, how should we proceed to look for one? Should we not, in the first place, seek for a person who can govern his appetite, his inclination to wine or sensuality, and sleep and idleness; for one who is overcome by such propensities would he unable to do his duty either to himself or his friend.” “Assuredly he would not,” said Critobulus. “It appears then to you that we must avoid one who is at the mercy of such inclinations?” “Undoubtedly,” replied Critobulus. 2. “Besides,” continued Socrates, “does not a man who is extravagant and yet unable to support himself, but is always in want of assistance from his neighbor, a man who, when he borrows, cannot pay, and when he cannot borrow, hates him who will not lend, appear to you to be a dangerous friend?” “Assuredly,” replied Critobulus. “We must therefore avoid such a character?” “We must indeed.” 3. “Again: what sort of friend would he be who has the means of getting money, and covets great wealth, and who, on this account, is a driver of hard bargains, and delights to receive, but is unwilling to pay?” “Such a person appears to me,” said Critobulus, “to be a still worse character than the former.” 4. “What then do you think of him, who, from love of getting money, allows himself no time for thinking of anything else but whence he may obtain it?” “We must avoid him, as it seems to me; for he would be useless to any one that should make an associate of him.” “And what do you think of him who is quarrelsome, and likely to raise up many enemies against his friends?” “We must avoid him also, by Jupiter.” “But if a man have none of these bad qualities, but is content to receive obligations, taking no thought of returning them?” “He also would he useless as a friend. But what sort of person, then, Socrates, should we endeavor to make our friend?” 5. “A person, I think, who, being the reverse of all this, is proof against the seductions of bodily pleasures, is upright and fair in his dealings, and emulous not to be outdone in serving those who serve him, so that he is of advantage to those who associate with him.” 6. “How then shall we find proof of these qualities in him, Socrates, before we associate with him? “ “We make proof of statuaries,” rejoined Socrates, “not by forming opinions from their words, but, whomsoever we observe to have executed his previous statues skillfully, we trust that he will execute others well.” 7. “You mean, then, that the man who is known to have served his former friends, will doubtless be likely to serve such as may be his friends hereafter?” “Yes; for whomsoever I know to have previously managed horses with skill, I expect to manage other horses also with skill.”

8. “Be it so,” said Critobulus; “but by what means must we make a friend of him who appears to us worthy of our friendship?” “In the first place,” answered Socrates, “we must consult the gods, whether they recommend us to make him our friend.” “Can you tell me, then,” said Critobulus, “how he, who appears eligible to us, and whom the gods do not disapprove, is to be secured?” 9. “Assuredly,” returned Socrates, “he is not to be caught by tracking him like the hare, or by wiles, like birds, or by making him prisoner by force, like enemies; for it would be an arduous task to make a man your friend against his will, or to hold him fast if you were to bind him like a slave; for those who suffer such treatment are rendered enemies rather than friends.” 10. “How then are men made friends?” inquired Critobulus. “They say that there are certain incantations, which those who know them, chant to whomsoever they please, and thus make them their friends; and that there are also love-potions, which those who know them, administer to whomsoever they will, and are in consequence beloved by them.” 11. “And how can we discover these charms?” “You have heard from Homer the song which the Sirens sung to Ulysses, the commencement of which runs thus:

‘Come hither, much-extolled Ulysses, great glory of the Greeks.’”

“Did the Sirens then, by singing this same song to other men also, detain them so that they were charmed and could not depart from them?” “No; but they sang thus to those who were desirous of being honored for virtue.” 12. “You seem to mean that we ought to apply as charms to any person, such commendations as, when he hears them, he will not suspect that his eulogist utters to ridicule him; for, if he conceived such a suspicion, he would rather be rendered an enemy, and would repel men from him; as, for instance, if a person were to praise as beautiful, and tall, and strong, one who is conscious that he is short, and deformed, and weak.

“But,” added Critobulus, “do you know any other charms?” 13. “No,” said Socrates, “but I have heard that Pericles knew many, which he used to chant to the city, and make it love him.” “And how did Themistocles make the city love him?” “Not, by Jupiter, by uttering charms to it, but by conferring on it some advantage.” 14. “You appear to me to mean, Socrates, that if we would attach to us any good person as a friend, we ourselves should be good both in speaking and acting.” “And did you think it possible,” said Socrates, “for a bad person to attach to himself good men as his friends?” 15. “I have seen,” rejoined Critobulus, “bad orators become friends to good orators, and men bad at commanding an army become friends to men eminently good in the military art.” 16. “Do you, then,” said Socrates, “regarding the subject of which we are speaking, know any persons, who, being themselves useless, can make useful persons their friends?” “No, by Jupiter,” replied Critobulus; “but if it is impossible for a worthless person to attach to himself good and honorable friends, then tell me this, whether it is possible for one who is himself honorable and good, to become, with ease, a friend to the honorable and good.” 17. “What perplexes you, Critobulus, is, that you often see men who are honorable in their conduct, and who refrain from everything disgraceful, involved, instead of being friends, in dissensions with one another, and showing more severity towards each other than the worthless part of mankind.” 18. “Nor is it only private persons,” rejoined Critobulus, “that act in this manner, but even whole communities, which have the greatest regard for what is honorable, and are least inclined to anything disgraceful, are often hostilely disposed towards one another.

19. “When I reflect on these things,” continued Critobulus, “I am quite in despair about the acquisition of friends; for I see that the bad cannot be friends with one another; for how can the ungrateful, or careless, or avaricious, or faithless, or intemperate, be friends to each other? indeed the bad appear to me to be altogether disposed by nature to be mutual enemies rather than friends. 20. Again, the bad, as you observe, can never harmonize in friendship with the good; for how can those who commit bad actions be friends with those who abhor such actions? And yet, if those also who practice virtue fall into dissensions with one another about pre-eminence in their respective communities, and, being zealous of their own ‘interests,’ even hate each other, who will ever be friends, or among what class of mankind shall affection and attachment be found?” 21. “But these affections act in various ways,” rejoined Socrates, “for men have by nature inclinations to attachment, since they stand in need of each other, and feel compassion for each other, and co-operate for mutual benefit, and, being conscious that such is the case, have a sense of gratitude towards one another; but they have also propensities to enmity, for such as think the same objects honorable and desirable, engage in contention for them, and, divided in feelings, become enemies. Disputation and anger lead to war; avarice excites ill-will; and envy is followed by hatred. 22. But, nevertheless, friendship, insinuating itself through all these hindrances, unites together the honorable and good; for such characters, through affection for virtue, prefer the enjoyment of a moderate competency without strife, to the attainment of unlimited power by means of war; they can endure hunger and thirst without discontent, and take only a fair share of meat and drink, and, though delighted with the attractions of youthful beauty, they can control themselves, so as to forbear from offending those whom they ought not to offend. 23. By laying aside all avaricious feelings too, they can not only be satisfied with their lawful share of the common property, but can even assist one another. They can settle their differences, not only without mutual offense, but even to their mutual benefit. They can prevent their anger from going so far as to cause them repentance; and envy they entirely banish, by sharing their own property with their friends, and considering that of their friends as their own.

24. “How, then, can it be otherwise than natural, that the honorable and good should be sharers in political distinctions, not only without detriment, but even with advantage, to each other? Those indeed who covet honor and office in states, merely that they may have power to embezzle money, to do violence to others, and to live a life of luxury, must be regarded as unprincipled and abandoned characters, and incapable of harmonious union with other men. 25. But when a person wishes to attain honors in a community, in order, not merely that he may not suffer wrong himself, but that he may assist his friends as far as is lawful, and may endeavor, in his term of office, to do some service to his country, why should he not, being of such a character, form a close union with another of similar character? Will he be less able to benefit his friends if he unite himself with the honorable and good, or will he be less able to serve his country if he have the honorable and good for his colleagues? 26. In the public games, indeed, it is plain, that if the strongest were allowed to unite and attack the weaker, they would conquer in all the contests, and carry off all the prizes; and accordingly people do not permit them, in those competitions, to act in such a manner; but since, in political affairs, in which honorable and good men rule, no one hinders another from serving his country in concert with whomsoever he pleases, how can it be otherwise than profitable for him to conduct affairs with the best men as his friends, having these as colleagues and co-operators, rather than antagonists, in his proceedings? 27. It is evident, too, that if one man commences hostilities against another, he will need allies, and will need a greater number of them, if he oppose the honorable and good; and those who consent to be his allies must be well treated by him, that they may be zealous in his interests; and it is much better for him to serve the best characters, who are the fewer, than the inferior, who are more numerous; for the bad require far more favors than the good. 28. But strive with good courage, Critobulus,” he continued, “to be good yourself, and, having become so, endeavor to gain the friendship of men of honor and virtue. Perhaps I myself also may be able to assist you in this pursuit of the honorable and virtuous, from being naturally disposed to love, for, for whatever persons I conceive a liking, I devote myself with ardor, and with my whole mind, to love them, and be loved in return by them, regretting their absence to have mine regretted by them, and longing for their society while they on the other hand long for mine. 29. I know that you also must cultivate such feelings, whenever you desire to form a friendship with any person. Do not conceal from my knowledge, therefore, the persons to whom you may wish to become a friend; for, from my carefulness to please those who please me, I do not think that I am unskilled in the art of gaining men’s affections.”

30. “Indeed, Socrates,” replied Critobulus, “I have long desired to receive such instructions as yours, especially if the same knowledge will help me in regard to those who are amiable in mind, and handsome in person.” 31. “But, Critobulus,” replied Socrates, “there is nothing in the knowledge that I communicate to make those who are handsome in person endure him who lays hands upon them; for I am persuaded that men shrunk from Scylla because she offered to put her hands on them; while every one, they say, was ready to listen to the Sirens, and were enchanted as they listened, because they laid hands on no one, but sang to all men from a distance.” 32. “On the understanding, then, that I shall lay my hands on no one,” said Critobulus, “tell me if you know any effectual means for securing friends.” “But will you never,” asked Socrates, “apply your lips to theirs?” “Be of good courage, Socrates,” said Critobulus, “for I will never apply my lips to those of any person, unless that person be beautiful.” “You have now said,” rejoined Socrates, “the exact contrary to what will promote your object; for the beautiful will not allow such liberties, though the deformed submit to them with pleasure, thinking that they are accounted beautiful for their mental qualities.” 33. “As I shall caress the beautiful, then,” said Critobulus, “and caress the good, teach me, with confidence, the art of attaching my friends to me.” “When, therefore, Critobulus,” said Socrates, “you wish to become a friend to any one, will you permit me to say to him concerning you, that you admire him, and desire to be his friend?” “You may say so,” answered Critobulus, “for I have never known any one dislike those who praised him.” 34. “But if I say of you, in addition, that, because you admire him, you feel kindly disposed towards him, will you not think that false information is given of you by me?” “No: for a kind feeling springs up in myself also towards those whom I regard as kindly disposed towards me.” 35. “Such information, then,” continued Socrates, “I may communicate regarding you to such as you may wish to make your friends; but if you enable me also to say concerning you, that you are attentive to your friends; that you delight in nothing so much as in the possession of good friends; that you pride yourself on the honorable conduct of your friends not less than on your own; that you rejoice at the good fortune of your friends not less than at your own; that you are never weary of contriving means by which good fortune may come to your friends; and that you think it the great virtue of a man to surpass his friends in doing them good and his enemies in doing them harm, I think that I shall be a very useful assistant to you in gaining the affections of worthy friends.” 36. “But why,” said Critobulus, “do you say this to me, as if you were not at liberty to say of me anything you please?” “No, by Jupiter,” replied Socrates; “I have no such liberty, according to a remark that I once heard from Aspasia; for she said that skillful match-makers, by reporting with truth good points of character, had great influence in leading people to form unions, but that those who said what was false, did no good by their praises, for that such as were deceived hated each other and the match-maker alike; and as I am persuaded that this opinion is correct, I think that I ought not to say, when I praise you, anything that I cannot utter with truth.” 37. “You are, therefore,” returned Critobulus, “a friend of such a kind to me, Socrates, as to assist me, if I have myself any qualities adapted to gain friends; but if not, you would not be willing to invent anything to serve me.” “And whether, Critobulus,” said Socrates, “should I appear to serve you more by extolling you with false praises, or by persuading you to endeavor to become a truly deserving man? 38. If this point is not clear to you, consider it with the following illustrations: If, wishing to make the owner of a ship your friend, I should praise you falsely to him, pronouncing you a skillful pilot, and he, believing me, should entrust his ship to you to steer when you are incapable of steering it, would you have any expectation that you would not destroy both yourself and the ship? Or if, by false representations, I should persuade the state, publicly, to entrust itself to you as a man skilled in military tactics, in judicial proceedings, or in political affairs, what do you think that yourself and the state would suffer at your hands? Or if, in private intercourse, I should induce any of the citizens, by unfounded statements, to commit their property to your care, as being a diligent manager, would you not, when you came to give proof of your abilities, be convicted of dishonesty, and make yourself appear ridiculous? 39. But the shortest, and safest, and best way, Critobulus, is, to strive to be really good in that in which you wish to be thought good. Whatever are called virtues among mankind, you will find, on consideration, capable of being increased by study and exercise. I am of opinion, that it is in accordance with these sentiments, that we ought to endeavor to acquire friends; if you know any other way, make me acquainted with it.” “I should be indeed ashamed,” replied Critobulus, “to say anything in opposition to such an opinion; for I should say what was neither honorable nor true.”


Socrates endeavored to alleviate the necessities of his friends by his instructions, and by exhorting them to assist each other. In this chapter it is particularly shown that any person of liberal education may, when oppressed by poverty, honorably use his talents and accomplishments for his support.

1. Such difficulties of his friends as arose from ignorance, he endeavored to remedy by his counsel; such as sprung from poverty, by admonishing them to assist each other according to their means. With reference to this point, I will relate what I know of him.

Observing Aristarchus, on one occasion, looking gloomily, “You seem,” said he, “Aristarchus, to be taking something to heart; but you ought to impart the cause of your uneasiness to your friends; for perhaps we may by some means lighten it.” 2. “I am indeed, Socrates,” replied Aristarchus, “in great perplexity; for since the city has been disturbed, and many of our people have fled to the Piraeus, my surviving sisters, and nieces, and cousins have gathered about me in such numbers, that there are now in my house fourteen free-born persons. At the same time, we receive no profit from our lands, for the enemy are in possession of them; nor any rent from our houses, for but few inhabitants are left in the city; no one will buy our furniture, nor is it possible to borrow money from any quarter; a person, indeed, as it seems to me, would sooner find money by seeking it on the road, than get it by borrowing. It is a grievous thing to me, therefore, to leave my relations to perish; and it is impossible for me to support such a number under such circumstances.” 3. Socrates, on hearing this, replied, “And how is it that Ceramon, yonder, though maintaining a great number of people, is not only able to procure what is necessary for himself and them, but gains so much more, also, as to be positively rich, while you, having many to support, are afraid lest you should all perish for want of necessaries?” “Because, assuredly,” replied Aristarchus, “he maintains slaves, while I have to support free-born persons.” 4. “And which of the two,” inquired Socrates, “do you consider to be the better, the free-born persons that are with you, or the slaves that are with Ceramon?” “I consider the free persons with me as the better.” “Is it not then a disgrace that he should gain abundance by means of the inferior sort, and that you should be in difficulties while having with you those of the better class?” “Such certainly is the case; but it is not at all wonderful; for he supports artisans; but I, persons of liberal education.” 5. “Artisans, then,” asked Socrates, “are persons that know how to make something useful?” “Unquestionably,” replied Aristarchus. “Is barley-meal, then, useful?” “Very.” “Is bread?” “Not less so.” “And are men’s and women’s garments, coats, cloaks, and mantles, useful?” “They are all extremely useful.” “And do those who are residing with you, then, not know how to make any of these things?” “They know how to make them all, as I believe.” 6. “And are you not aware that from the manufacture of one of these articles, that of barley­meal, Nausicydes supports not only himself and his household, but a great number of swine and oxen besides, and gains, Indeed, so much more than he wants, that he often even assists the government with his money? Are you not aware that Cyrebus, by making bread, maintains his whole household, and lives luxuriously; that Demea, of Collytus, supports himself by making cloaks, Menon by making woollen cloaks, and that most of the Megarians live by making mantles?” “Certainly they do,” said Aristarchus; “for they purchase barbarian slaves and keep them, in order to force them to do what they please; but I have with me free-born persons and relatives.” 7. “Then,” added Socrates, “because they are free and related to you, do you think that they ought to do nothing else but eat and sleep? Among other free persons, do you see that those who live thus spend their time more pleasantly, and do you consider them happier, than those who practice the arts which they know, and which are useful to support life? Do you find that idleness and carelessness are serviceable to mankind, either for learning what it becomes them to know, or for remembering what they have learned, or for maintaining the health and strength of their bodies, or for acquiring and preserving what is useful for the support of life, and that industry and diligence are of no service at all? 8. And as to the arts which you say they know, whether did they learn them as being useless to maintain life, and with the intention of never practicing any of them, or, on the contrary, with a view to occupy themselves about them, and to reap profit from them? In which condition will men be more temperate, living in idleness, or attending to useful employments? In which condition will they be more honest, if they work, or if they sit in idleness meditating how to procure necessaries? 9. Under present circumstances, as I should suppose, you neither feel attached to your relatives, nor they to you, for you find them burdensome to you, and they see that you are annoyed with their company. From such feelings there is danger that dislike may grow stronger and stronger, and that previous friendly inclinations may be diminished. But if you take them under your direction, so that they may be employed, you will love them, when you see that they are serviceable to you, and they will grow attached to you, when they find that you feel satisfaction in their society; and remembering past services with greater pleasure, you will increase the friendly feeling resulting from them, and consequently grow more attached and better disposed towards each other. 10. If, indeed, they were going to employ themselves in anything dishonorable, death would be preferable to it; but the accomplishments which they know, are, as it appears, such as are most honorable and becoming to women; and all people execute what they know with the greatest ease and expedition, and with the utmost credit and pleasure. Do not hesitate, therefore,” concluded Socrates, “to recommend to them this line of conduct, which will benefit both you and them; and they, as it is probable, will cheerfully comply with your wishes.” 11. “By the gods,” exclaimed Aristarchus, “you seem to me to give such excellent advice, Socrates, that though hitherto I did not like to borrow money, knowing that, when I had spent what I got, I should have no means of repaying it, I now think that I can endure to do so, in order to gain the necessary means for commencing work.”

12. The necessary means were accordingly provided; wool was bought; and the women took their dinners as they continued at work, and supped when they had finished their tasks; they became cheerful instead of gloomy in countenance, and, instead of regarding each other with dislike, met the looks of one another with pleasure; they loved Aristarchus as their protector, and he loved them as being of use to him. At last he came to Socrates, and told him with delight of the state of things in his house: adding that “the women complained of him as being the only person in the house that ate the bread of idleness.” 13. “And do you not tell them,” said Socrates, “the fable of the dog? For they say that when beasts had the faculty of speech, the sheep said to her master, ‘You act strangely, in granting nothing to us who supply you with wool, and lambs, and cheese, except what we get from the ground; while to the dog, who brings you no such profits, you give a share of the food which you take yourself.’ 14. The dog, hearing these remarks, said, ‘ Yes, by Jove, for I am he that protects even yourselves, so that you are neither stolen by men, nor carried off by wolves; while, if I were not to guard you, you would be unable even to feed, for fear lest you should be destroyed.’ In consequence it is said that the sheep agreed that the dog should have superior honor. You, accordingly, tell your relations that you are, in the place of the dog, their guardian and protector, and that, by your means, they work and live in security and pleasure, without suffering injury from any one.”


Socrates persuades Eutherus, who was working for hire, to seek some more eligible employment, as his present occupation was not suited for old age, and recommends to him the post of steward to some rich man. An objection on the part of Eutherus, that he should dislike to have to render an account to a master, Socrates opposes with the remark that there is no office in the world free from responsibility.

1. Seeing an old friend one day, after a considerable interval of time, he said, “Whence do you come, Eutherus?” “I am returned, Socrates,” replied Eutherus, “from my retirement abroad at the conclusion of the war; and I come now from the immediate neighborhood; for since we were robbed of all our possessions beyond the borders, and my father left me nothing in Attica, I am obliged to live in the city and work with my own hands to procure the necessaries of life; but this seems to me better than to ask aid of anybody, especially as I have nothing on which I could borrow.” 2. “And how long,” said Socrates, “do you think that your body is able to work for hire?” “Not very long, by Jupiter,” replied Eutherus. “Then,” said Socrates, “when you grow older, you will doubtless be in want of money for your expenses, and no one will be willing to give you wages for your bodily labor.” “What you say is true,” rejoined Eutherus. 3. “It will be better for you, therefore,” continued Socrates, “to apply yourself immediately to some employment which will maintain you when you are old, and, attaching yourself to some one of those that have larger fortunes (who requires a person to assist him), and, superintending his works, helping to gather in his fruits, and preserve his property, to benefit him, and to be benefited by him in return.” 4. “I should with great reluctance, Socrates,” said he, “submit to slavery.” “Yet those who have the superintendence in states, and who take care of the public interests, are not the more like slaves on that account, but are thought to have more of the free-man.” 5. “In a word, however,” rejoined Eutherus, “I am not at all willing to make myself responsible to any one.” “But assuredly, Eutherus,” said Socrates, “it is not very easy to find an employment in which a person would not be responsible; for it is difficult to do anything so as to commit no error; and it is difficult, even if you have done it without error, to meet with a considerate judge; for even in the occupation in which you are now engaged I should wonder if it be easy for you to go through it without blame. 6. But you must endeavor to avoid such employers as are given to censure, and seek such as are candid; to undertake such duties as you are able to do, and to decline such as you cannot fulfill; and to execute whatever you take upon you in the best manner and with the utmost zeal; for I think that, by such conduct, you will be least exposed to censure, you will most readily find assistance in time of need, and you will live with the greatest ease and freedom from danger, and with the best provision for old age.”


Crito, a rich man, complaining that he is harassed by informers, Socrates recommends him to secure the services of Archidemus, a poor man well skilled in the law, to defend him against them; a plan by which both are benefited. Archidemus also assists others, and gains both reputation and emolument.

1. I know that he also heard Crito once observe, how difficult it was for a man who wished to mind his own business to live at Athens. “For at this very time,” added he, “there are people bringing actions against me, not because they have suffered any wrong from me, but because they think that I would rather pay them a sum of money than have the trouble of law proceedings.” 2. “Tell me, Crito,” said Socrates, “do you not keep dogs, that they may drive away the wolves from your sheep?” “Certainly,” answered Crito, “for it is more profitable to me to keep them than not.” “Would you not then be inclined to keep a man also, who would be willing and able to drive away from you those that try to molest you?” “I would with pleasure,” returned Crito, “if I were not afraid that he would turn against me.” 3. “But do you not see,” said Socrates, “that it would be much more pleasant for him to serve himself by gratifying such a man as you than by incurring your enmity. And be assured that there are such characters here, who would he extremely ambitious to have you for a friend.”

4. In consequence of this conversation, they fixed upon Archidemus, a man of great ability both in speaking and acting, but poor; for he was not of a character to make money by every means, but was a lover of honesty, too noble to take money from the informers. Crito, therefore, whenever he gathered in his corn, or oil, or wine, or wool, or anything else that grew on his land, used to select a portion of it, and give it to Archidemus; and used to invite him whenever he sacrificed, and paid him attention in every similar way. 5. Archidemus, accordingly, thinking that Crito’s house would be a place of refuge for him, showed him much respect, and quickly discovered, on the part of Crito’s accusers, many illegal acts, and many persons who were enemies to those accusers, (one of) whom he summoned to a public trial, in which it would be settled what he should suffer or pay. 6. This person, being conscious of many crimes, tried every means to get out of the hands of Archidemus; but Archidemus would not let him off, until he ceased to molest Crito, and gave himself a sum of money besides.

7. When Archidemus had succeeded in this and some other similar proceedings, then, as when any shepherd has a good dog, other shepherds wish to station their flocks near him, in order to have the benefit of his dog, so likewise many of the friends of Crito begged him to lend them the services of Archidemus as a protector. 8. Archidemus willingly gratified Crito in this respect, and thus not only Crito himself was left at peace, but his friends. And if any of those with whom he was at variance taunted him with receiving favors from Crito, and paying court to him, Archidemus would ask, “whether is it disgraceful to be benefited by honest men, and to make them your friends by serving them in return, and to be at variance with the unprincipled, or to make the honorable and good your enemies by trying to wrong them, and to make the bad your friends by co-operating with them, and associate with the vicious instead of the virtuous?” From this time Archidemus was one of Crito’s friends, and was honored by the other friends of Crito.


Socrates exhorts Diodorus, a rich man, to aid his friend Hermogenes, who is in extreme poverty. A man endeavors to preserve the life of a slave, and ought surely to use greater exertions to save a friend, who will well repay our kindness.

1. I am aware that he also held a conversation with Diodorus, one of his followers, to the following effect. “Tell me, Diodorus,” said he, “if one of your slaves runs away, do you use any care to recover him?” 2. “Yes, indeed,” answered he, “and I call others to my aid, by offering rewards for capturing him.” “And if any of your slaves falls ill,” continued Socrates, “do you pay any attention to him, and call in medical men, that he may not die?” “Certainly,” replied the other. “And if any one of your friends, who is far more valuable to you than all your slaves, is in danger of perishing of want, do you not think that it becomes you to take care of him, that his life may be saved? 3. But you are not ignorant that Hermogenes is not ungrateful, and would be ashamed, if, after being assisted by you, he were not to serve you in return; and indeed to secure such a supporter as him, willing, well-disposed, steady, and not only able to do what he is directed, but capable of being useful of himself, and of taking forethought, and forming plans for you, I consider equivalent to the value of many slaves. 4. Good economists say that you ought to buy, when you can purchase for a little what is worth much; but now, in consequence of the troubled state of affairs, it is possible to obtain good friends at a very easy rate.” 5. “You say well, Socrates,” rejoined Diodorus; “and therefore tell Hermogenes to come to me.” “No, by Jupiter,” said Socrates, “I shall not; for I think it not so honorable for you to send for him as to go yourself to him; nor do I consider it a greater benefit to him than to you that this intercourse should take place.” 6. Diodorus accordingly went to Hermogenes, and secured, at no great expense, a friend who made it his business to consider by what words or deeds he could profit or please Diodorus.

End of Book II...

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