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Plato and Platonism by Walter Horatio Pater

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stand as to this matter somewhere between the realist and the
conceptualist:--See! we might say, there is a general consciousness, a
permanent common sense, independent indeed of each one of us, but with
which we are, each one of us, in communication. It is in that, those
common or general ideas really reside. And we might add just here
(giving his due to the nominalist also) that those abstract or common
[152] notions come to the individual mind through language, through
common or general names, Animal, Justice, Equality, into which one's
individual experience, little by little, drop by drop, conveys their
full meaning or content; and, by the instrumentality of such terms and
notions, thus locating the particular in the general, mediating between
general and particular, between our individual experience and the
common experience of our kind, we come to understand each other, and to
assist each other's thoughts, as in a common mental atmosphere, "an
intellectual world," as Plato calls it, a true noÍtos topos +. So much
for the modern view; for what common sense might now suggest as to the
nature of logical "universals."

Plato's realism however--what is called "The Theory of Ideas"--his way
of regarding abstract term and general notion, what Plato has to say
about "the Many and the One," is often very difficult; though of
various degrees of difficulty, it must be observed, to various minds.
From the simple and easily intelligible sort of realism attributed by
Aristotle to Socrates, seeking in "universal definitions," or ideas,
only a serviceable instrument for the distinguishing of what is
essential from what is unessential in the actual things about him,
Plato passes by successive stages, which we should try to keep distinct
as we read him, to what may be rightly called a "transcendental," what
to many minds has [153] seemed a fantastic and unintelligible habit of
thought, regarding those abstractions, which indeed seem to become for
him not merely substantial things-in-themselves, but little short of
living persons, to be known as persons are made known to each other, by
a system of affinities, on the old Eleatic rule, homoion homoiŰ +, like
to like--these persons constituting together that common, eternal,
intellectual world, a sort of divine family or hierarchy, with which
the mind of the individual, so far as it is reasonable, or really
knows, is in communion or correspondence. And here certainly is a
theory, a tendency to think or feel, and to speak, about which the
difficulties are many.

Yet as happens always with the metaphysical questions, or answers,
which from age to age preoccupy acuter minds, those difficulties about
the Many and the One actually had their attractiveness for some in the
days of Plato.--

Our doctrine (says the Platonic Socrates in the Philebus) is,
that one and the same thing (the one common notion, namely,
embodied in one general term) which--hypo logŰn +--under the
influence of our thoughts and words, of thought and language,
become one and many, circulates everywhere, in regard to
everything of which existence is asserted from time to time.
This law neither will cease to be, nor has it just now begun;
but something of the kind is, I think, an eternal and
ineradicable affection of our reason itself in us. And
whenever a young man gets his first taste of this he is
delighted as having found the priceless pearl of philosophy;
he becomes an enthusiast in his delight; and eagerly sets in
motion-- kinei + --every definition [154] --logos+--every
conception or mental definition (it looked so fixed and
firm till then!) at one time winding things round each other
and welding them into one (that is, he drops all particulari-
ties out of view, and thinks only of the one common form) and
then again unwinding them, and dividing them into parts (he
becomes intent now upon the particularities of the particular,
till the one common term seems inapplicable) puzzling first,
and most of all, himself; and then any one who comes nigh him,
older or younger, or of whatever age he may be; sparing neither
father nor mother, nor any one else who will listen; scarcely
even the dumb creatures, to say nothing of men; for he would
hardly spare a barbarian, could he but find an interpreter.
Philebus, 15.+

The Platonic doctrine of "the Many and the One"--the problem with which
we are brought face to face in this choice specimen of the humour as
well as of the metaphysical power of Plato--is not precisely the
question with which the speculative young man of our own day is likely
to puzzle himself, or exercise the patience of his neighbour in a
railway carriage, of his dog, or even of a Chinese; though the
questions we are apt to tear to pieces, organism and environment, or
protoplasm perhaps, or evolution, or the Zeit-geist and its doings,
may, in their turn, come to seem quite as lifeless and unendurable. As
the theological heresy of one age sometimes becomes the mere
commonplace of the next, so, in matters of philosophic enquiry, it
might appear that the all-absorbing novelty of one generation becomes
nothing less than the standard of what is uninteresting, as such, to
its successor. Still in the discussion even of abstract truths it is
not so much [155] what he thinks as the person who is thinking, that
after all really tells. Plato and Platonism we shall never understand
unless we are patient with him in what he has to tell us about "the
Many and the One."

Plato's peculiar view of the matter, then, passes with him into a phase
of poetic thought; as indeed all that Plato's genius touched came in
contact with poetry. Of course we are not naturally formed to love, or
be interested in, or attracted towards, the abstract as such; to
notions, we might think, carefully deprived of all the incident, the
colour and variety, which fits things--this or that--to the
constitution and natural habit of our minds, fits them for attachment
to what we really are. We cannot love or live upon genus and species,
accident or substance, but for our minds, as for our bodies, need an
orchard or a garden, with fruit and roses. Take a seed from the
garden. What interest it has for us all lies in our sense of potential
differentiation to come: the leaves, leaf upon leaf, the flowers, a
thousand new seeds in turn. It is so with animal seed; and with
humanity, individually, or as a whole, its expansion into a detailed,
ever-changing, parti-coloured history of particular facts and persons.
Abstraction, the introduction of general ideas, seems to close it up
again; to reduce flower and fruit, odour and savour, back again into
the dry and worthless seed. We might as well be colour-blind at once,
and there [156] is not a proper name left! We may contrast generally
the mental world we actually live in, where classification, the
reduction of all things to common types, has come so far, and where the
particular, to a great extent, is known only as the member of a class,
with that other world, on the other side of the generalising movement
to which Plato and his master so largely contributed--a world we might
describe as being under Homeric conditions, such as we picture to
ourselves with regret, for which experience was intuition, and life a
continuous surprise, and every object unique, where all knowledge was
still of the concrete and the particular, face to face delightfully.

To that gaudy tangle of what gardens, after all, are meant to produce,
in the decay of time, as we may think at first sight, the systematic,
logical gardener put his meddlesome hand, and straightway all ran to
seed; to genus and species and differentia, into formal classes, under
general notions, and with--yes! with written labels fluttering on the
stalks, instead of blossoms--a botanic or "physic" garden, as they used
to say, instead of our flower-garden and orchard. And yet (it must be
confessed on the other hand) what we actually see, see and hear, is
more interesting than ever; the nineteenth century as compared with the
first, with Plato's days or Homer's; the faces, the persons behind
those masks which yet express so much, the flowers, or whatever it may
happen to be they carry or [157] touch. The concrete, and that even as
a visible thing, has gained immeasurably in richness and compass, in
fineness, and interest towards us, by the process, of which those acts
of generalisation, of reduction to class and generic type, have
certainly been a part. And holding still to the concrete, the
particular, to the visible or sensuous, if you will, last as first,
thinking of that as essentially the one vital and lively thing, really
worth our while in a short life, we may recognise sincerely what
generalisation and abstraction have done or may do, are defensible as
doing, just for that--for the particular gem or flower--what its proper
service is to a mind in search, precisely, of a concrete and intuitive
knowledge such as that.

Think, for a moment, of the difference, as regards mental attitude,
between the naturalist who deals with things through ideas, and the
layman (so to call him) in picking up a shell on the sea-shore; what it
is that the subsumption of the individual into the species, its
subsequent alliance to and co-ordination with other species, really
does for the furnishing of the mind of the former. The layman, though
we need not suppose him inattentive, or unapt to retain impressions, is
in fact still but a child; and the shell, its colours and convolution,
no more than a dainty, very easily destructible toy to him. Let him
become a schoolboy about it, so to speak. The toy he puts aside; his
mind is [158] drilled perforce, to learn about it; and thereby is
exercised, he may think, with everything except just the thing itself,
as he cares for it; with other shells, with some general laws of life,
and for a while it might seem that, turning away his eyes from the
"vanity" of the particular, he has been made to sacrifice the concrete,
the real and living product of nature, to a mere dry and abstract
product of the mind. But when he comes out of school, and on the sea-
shore again finds a fellow to his toy, perhaps a finer specimen of it,
he may see what the service of that converse with the general has
really been towards the concrete, towards what he sees--in regard to
the particular thing he actually sees. By its juxtaposition and co-
ordination with what is ever more and more not it, by the contrast of
its very imperfection, at this point or that, with its own proper and
perfect type, this concrete and particular thing has, in fact, been
enriched by the whole colour and expression of the whole circumjacent
world, concentrated upon, or as it were at focus in, it. By a kind of
short-hand now, and as if in a single moment of vision, all that, which
only a long experience, moving patiently from part to part, could
exhaust, its manifold alliance with the entire world of nature, is
legible upon it, as it lies there in one's hand.

So it is with the shell, the gem, with a glance of the eye; so it may
be with the moral act, [159] with a condition of the mind, or a
feeling. You may draw, by use of this coinage (it is Hobbes's figure)
this coinage of representative words and thoughts, at your pleasure,
upon the accumulative capital of the whole experience of humanity.
Generalisation, whatever Platonists, or Plato himself at mistaken
moments, may have to say about it, is a method, not of obliterating the
concrete phenomenon, but of enriching it, with the joint perspective,
the significance, the expressiveness, of all other things beside. What
broad-cast light he enjoys!--that scholar, confronted with the sea-
shell, for instance, or with some enigma of heredity in himself or
another, with some condition of a particular soul, in circumstances
which may never precisely so occur again; in the contemplation of that
single phenomenon, or object, or situation. He not only sees, but
understands (thereby only seeing the more) and will, therefore, also
remember. The significance of the particular object he will retain, by
use of his intellectual apparatus of notion and general law, as, to use
Plato's own figure, fluid matter may be retained in vessels, not indeed
of unbaked clay, but of alabaster or bronze. So much by way of apology
for general ideas--abstruse, or intangible, or dry and seedy and
wooden, as we may sometimes think them.

"Two things," says Aristotle, "might rightly be attributed to Socrates:
inductive reasoning, [160] and universal definitions." Now when
Aristotle says this of Socrates, he is recording the institution of a
method, which might be applied in the way just indicated, to natural
objects, to such a substance as carbon, or to such natural processes as
heat or motion; but which, by Socrates himself, as by Plato after him,
was applied almost exclusively to moral phenomena, to the
generalisation of aesthetic, political, ethical ideas, of the laws of
operation (for the essence of every true conception, or definition, or
idea, is a law of operation) of the feelings and the will. To get a
notion, a definition, or idea, of motion, for example, which shall not
exclude the subtler forms of it, heat for instance--to get a notion of
carbon, which shall include not common charcoal only, but the diamond,
a thing superficially so unlike it, and which shall also exclude,
perhaps, some other substance, superficially almost indistinguishable
from it: such is the business of physical science, in obedience to
rules, outlined by Bacon in the first book of the Novum Organum, for
securing those acts of "inclusion" and "exclusion," inclusiones,
exclusiones, naturae, debitae, as he says, "which the nature of things
requires," if our thoughts are not to misrepresent them.

It was a parallel process, a process of inclusion, that one's resultant
idea should be adequate, of rejection or exclusion, that this idea
should be not redundant, which Socrates applied [161] to practice;
exercising, as we see in the Platonic Dialogues, the two opposed
functions of synagŰgÍ and diairesis,+ for the formation of just ideas of
Temperance, Wisdom, Bravery, Justice itself--a classification of the
phenomena of the entire world of feeling and action. Ideas, if they
fulfil their proper purpose, represent to the mind such phenomena, for
its convenience, but may easily also misrepresent them. In the
transition from the particulars to the general, and again in the
transition from the general idea, the mental word, to the spoken or
written word, to what we call the definition, a door lies open, both
for the adulteration and the diminution of the proper content, of our
conception, our definition. The first growth of the Platonic "ideas,"
as we see it in Socrates, according to the report of Aristotle,
provided against this twofold misrepresentation. Its aim is to secure,
in the terms of our discourse with others and with ourselves, precise
equivalence to what they denote. It was a "mission" to go about Athens
and challenge people to guard the inlets of error, in the passage from
facts to their thoughts about them, in the passage from thoughts to
words. It was an intellectual gymnastic, to test, more exactly than
they were in the habit of doing, the equivalence of words they used so
constantly as Just, Brave, Beautiful, to the thoughts they had; of
those thoughts to the facts of experience, which it was the business of
those [162] thoughts precisely to represent; to clear the mental air;
to arrange the littered work-chamber of the mind.

In many of Plato's Dialogues we see no more than the ordered reflex of
this process, informal as it was in the actual practice of Socrates.
Out of the accidents of a conversation, as from the confused currents
of life and action, the typical forms of the vices and virtues emerge
in definite outline. The first contention of The Republic, for
instance, is to establish in regard to the nature of Justice, terms as
exactly conterminous with thoughts, thoughts as exactly conterminous
with moral facts, as the notion of carbon is for the naturalist, when
it has come to include both charcoal and the diamond, on the basis of
the essential law of their operation as experience reveals it. Show
us, not merely accidental truths about it; but, by the doing of what
(Ti poiousa)+ in the very soul of its possessor, itself by itself,
Justice is a good, and Injustice a bad thing. That illustrates exactly
what is meant by "an idea," the force of "knowledge through ideas," in
the particular instance of Justice. It will include perhaps, on the
one hand, forms of Justice so remote from the Justice of our everyday
experience as to seem inversions of it; it will clearly exclude, on the
other hand, acts and thoughts, not it, yet, phenomenally, so like it,
as to deceive the very gods; and its area will be expanded sufficiently
to include, not the individual [163] only, but the state. And you, the
philosophic student, were to do that, not for one virtue only, but for
Piety, and Beauty, and the State itself, and Knowledge, and Opinion,
and the Good. Nay, you might go on and do the same thing for the
physical, when you came to the end of the moral, world, were life long
enough, and if you had the humour for it:--for Motion, Number, Colour,
Sound. That, then, was the first growth of the Platonic ideas, as
derived immediately from Socrates, whose formal contribution to
philosophy had been "universal definitions," developed "inductively,"
by the twofold method of "inclusion" and "exclusion."

Aristotle adds, however, that Socrates had stopped at the point here
indicated: he had not gone on, like some others, to make those
universal notions or definitions "separable"--separable, that is to
say, from the particular and concrete instances, from which he had
gathered them. Separable: chŰristos + (famous word!) that is precisely
what general notions become in what is specially called "the Platonic
Theory of Ideas." The "Ideas" of Plato are, in truth, neither more nor
less than those universal definitions, those universal conceptions, as
they look, as they could not but look, amid the peculiar lights and
shadows, in the singularly constituted atmosphere, under the strange
laws of refraction, and in the proper perspective, of Plato's house of
thought. By its peculiarities, subsequent thought--philosophic, [164]
poetic, theological--has been greatly influenced; by the intense
subjectivities, the accidents, so to speak, of Plato's genius, of Plato
himself; the ways constitutional with him, the magic or trick of his
personality, in regarding the intellectual material he was occupied
with--by Plato's psychology. And it is characteristic of him, again,
that those peculiarities of his mental attitude are evidenced
informally; by a tendency, as we said, by the mere general tone in
which he speaks of Beauty, for instance, "as it really is," of all that
"really is," under its various forms; a manner of speaking, not
explicit, but veiled, in various degrees, under figures, as at the end
of the sixth book of The Republic, or under mythological fantasies,
like those of the Phaedrus. He seems to have no inclination for the
responsibilities of definite theory; for a system such as that of the
Neo-Platonists for instance, his own later followers, who, in a kind of
prosaic and cold-blooded transcendentalism, developed as definite
philosophic dogma, hard enough in more senses than one, what in Plato
is to the last rather poetry than metaphysical reasoning--the
irrepressible because almost unconscious poetry, which never deserts
him, even when treating of what is neither more nor less than a chapter
in the rudiments of logic.

The peculiar development of the Socratic realism by Plato can then only
be understood [165] by a consideration of the peculiarities of Plato's
genius; how it reacted upon those abstractions; what they came to seem
in its peculiar atmosphere. The Platonic doctrine of "Ideas," as was
said, is not so much a doctrine, as a way of speaking or feeling about
certain elements of the mind; and this temper, this peculiar way of
feeling, of speaking, which for most of us will have many difficulties,
is not uniformly noticeable in Plato's Dialogues, but is to be found
more especially in the Phaedo, the Symposium, and in certain books of
The Republic, above all in the Phaedrus. Here is a famous passage from

There (that is to say, at a particular point in a sort of
Pythagorean mental pilgrimage through time and space) there,
at last, its utmost travail and contest awaits the soul.
For the immortal souls, so-called, when they were upon the
highest point, passed out and stood (as you might stand upon
the outside of a great hollow sphere) upon the back of the sky.
And as they stand there, the revolution of the spheres carries
them round; and they behold the things that are beyond the sky.
That supercelestial place none of our poets on earth has ever
yet sung of, nor will ever sing, worthily. And thus it is:
for I must make bold to state the truth, at any rate,
especially as it is about truth, that I am speaking. For the
colourless, and formless, and impalpable Being, being in very
truth of (that is, relative to) the soul, is visible by reason
alone as one's guide. Centered about that, the generation, or
seed, genos,+--the people, of true knowledge inhabits this
place. As, then, the intelligence of God, which is nourished
by pure or unmixed reason and knowledge (akÍratŰ,+ unmixed
with sense) so, the intelligence of every other soul also,
which is about to receive that which properly belongs to it,
beholding, after long interval, that which is, loves [166] it
(that's the point!) and by the vision of truth is fed; and
fares well; until, in cycle, the revolving movement brings
it round again to the same place. And in that journey round
it looks upon justice itself; it looks upon Temperance, upon
Knowledge; not that knowledge to which the process of becoming
(the law of change, namely, of birth and death and decay)
attaches; nor that which is, as it were, one in one thing,
another in another, of those things which now we speak of as
being; but the knowledge which is in that which in very deed is
(tÍn en tŰ ho estin on ontos epistÍmÍn ousan)+ and having beheld,
after the same manner, all other things that really are, and
feasted upon them, being passed back again to the interior of
the sky, the soul returned home. Phaedrus, 247.+

Only, as Plato thinks, that return was, in fact, an exile.
There, in that attractive, but perhaps not wholly acceptable, sort of
discourse, in some other passages like it, Plato has gone beyond his
master Socrates, on two planes or levels, so to speak, of speculative
ascent, which we may distinguish from each other, by way of making a
little clearer what is in itself certainly so difficult.

For Plato, then, not by way of formal theory, we must remember, but by
a turn of thought and speech (while he speaks of them, in fact) the
Socratic "universals," the notions of Justice and the like, are become,
first, things in themselves--the real things; and secondly, persons, to
be known as persons must be; and to be loved, for the perfections, the
visible perfections, we might say--intellectually visible--of [167]
their being. "It looks upon Justice itself; it looks upon Temperance;
upon Knowledge."

Hitherto, in the Socratic disputations, the ideas had been creations,
serviceable creations, of men's thought, of our reason. With Plato,
they are the creators of our reason--those treasures of experience,
stacked and stored, which, to each one of us, come as by inheritance,
or with no proportionate effort on our part, to direct, to enlarge and
rationalise, from the first use of language by us, our manner of taking
things. For Plato, they are no longer, as with Socrates, the
instruments by which we tabulate and classify and record our
experience--mere "marks" of the real things of experience, of what is
essential in this or that, and common to every particular that goes by
a certain common name; but are themselves rather the proper objects of
all true knowledge, and a passage from all merely relative experience
to the "absolute." In proportion as they lend themselves to the
individual, in his effort to think, they create reason in him; they
reproduce the eternal reason for him. For Socrates, as Aristotle
understands him, they were still in service to, and valid only in and
by, the experience they recorded, with no locus standi beyond. For
Plato, for Platonists, they are become--Justice and Beauty, and the
perfect State, or again Equality (that which we must bring with us, if
we are to apprehend sensible [168] instances thereof, but which no two
equal things here, two coins, ever really attain) nay, Couch, or Tree,
every general thought, or name of a thing, whatever--separate
(chŰristos)+ separable from, as being essentially independent of, the
individual mind which conceives them; as also of the particular
temporary instances which come under them, come and go, while they
remain for ever--those eternal "forms," of Tree, Equality, Justice, and
so forth.

That, then, is the first stage, or plane, of Platonic
transcendentalism. Our common ideas, without which, in fact, we none
of us could think at all, are not the consequence, not the products,
but the cause of our reason in us: we did not make them; but they make
us what we are, as reasonable beings. The eternal Being, of
Parmenides, one and indivisible, has been diffused, divided, resolved,
refracted, differentiated, into the eternal Ideas, a multiple,
numerous, stellar world, so to call it--abstract light into stars:
Justice, Temperance as it is, Bravery as it is. Permanence,
independency, indefectible identity with itself--all those qualities
which Parmenides supposed in the one and indivisible reality--belong to
every one of those ideas severally.

It was like a recrudescence of polytheism in that abstract world; a
return of the many gods of Homer, veiled now as abstract notions, Love,
[169] Fear, Confidence, and the like; and as such, the modern
anthropologist, our student of the natural history of man, would rank
the Platonic theory as but a form of what he calls "animism." Animism,
that tendency to locate the movements of a soul like our own in every
object, almost in every circumstance, which impresses one with a sense
of power, is a condition of mind, of which the simplest illustration is
primitive man adoring, as a divine being endowed with will, the
meteoric stone that came rushing from the sky. That condition
"survives" however, in the negro, who thinks the discharging gun a
living creature; as it survives also, more subtly, in the culture of
Wordsworth and Shelley, for whom clouds and peaks are kindred spirits;
in the pantheism of Goethe; and in Schelling, who formulates that
pantheism as a philosophic, a Platonic, theory. Such "animistic"
instinct was, certainly, a natural element in Plato's mental
constitution,--the instinctive effort to find anima, the conditions of
personality, in whatever pre-occupied his mind, a mind, be it
remembered, of which the various functions, as we reckon them,
imagination, reason, intuition, were still by no means clearly analysed
and differentiated from each other, but participated, all alike and all
together, in every single act of mind.

And here is the second stage of the Platonic idealism, the second grade
of Plato's departure [170] from the simpler realism of his master, as
noted by Aristotle, towards that "intelligible world," opposed by him
so constantly to the visible world, into which many find it so hard to
follow him at all, and in which the "ideas" become veritable persons.
To speak, to think, to feel, about abstract ideas as if they were
living persons; that, is the second stage of Plato's speculative
ascent. With the lover, who had graduated, was become a master, in the
school of love, but had turned now to the love of intellectual and
strictly invisible things, it was as if the faculty of physical vision,
of the bodily eye, were still at work at the very centre of
intellectual abstraction. Abstract ideas themselves became animated,
living persons, almost corporeal, as if with hands and eyes. And it
is, as a consequence, but partly also as a secondary reinforcing cause,
of this mental condition, that the idea of Beauty becomes for Plato the
central idea; the permanently typical instance of what an idea means;
of its relation to particular things, and to the action of our thoughts
upon them. It was to the lover dealing with physical beauty, a thing
seen, yet unseen--seen by all, in some sense, and yet, truly, by one
and not by another, as if through some capricious, personal self-
discovery, by some law of affinity between the seer and what is seen,
the knowing and the known--that the nature and function of an idea, as
such, would come home most clearly. [170] And then, while visible
beauty is the clearest, the most certain thing, in the world (lovers
will always tell you so) real with the reality of something hot or cold
in one's hand, it also comes nearest of all things, so Plato assures
us, to its eternal pattern or prototype. For some reason, the eternal
idea of beauty had left visible copies of itself, shadows, antitypes,
out of all proportion, in their truthfulness and adequacy, to any copy,
left here with us, of Justice, for instance, or Equality, or the
Perfect State. The typical instance of an abstract idea, yet pre-
occupying the mind with all the colour and circumstance of the
relationship of person to person, the idea of Beauty, conveyed into the
entire theory of ideas, the associations which belong properly to such
relationships only. A certain measure of caprice, of capricious
preference or repulsion, would thus be naturally incidental to the
commerce of men's minds with what really is, with the world in which
things really are, only so far as they are truly known. "Philosophers
are lovers of truth and of that which is--impassioned lovers": Tou
ontos te kai alÍtheias erastas tous philosophous.+ They are the
cornerstone, as readers of The Republic know, of the ideal state--those
impassioned lovers, erastas,+ of that which really is, and in comparison
wherewith, office, wealth, honour, the love of which has rent Athens,
the world, to pieces, will be of no more than secondary importance.

[172] He is in truth, in the power, in the hands, of another, of
another will--this lover of the Ideas--attracted, corrected, guided,
rewarded, satiated, in a long discipline, that "ascent of the soul into
the intelligible world," of which the ways of earthly love (ta erŰtika)+
are a true parallel. His enthusiasm of knowledge is literally an
enthusiasm: has about it that character of possession of one person by
another, by which those "animistic" old Greeks explained natural
madness. That philosophic enthusiasm, that impassioned desire for true
knowledge, is a kind of madness (mania)+ the madness to which some have
declared great wit, all great gifts, to be always allied--the fourth
species of mania, as Plato himself explains in the Phaedrus. To
natural madness, to poetry and the other gifts allied to it, to
prophecy like that of the Delphic pythoness, he has to add, fourthly,
the "enthusiasm of the ideas."

The whole course of our theory hitherto (he there tells us)
relates to that fourth form of madness; wherein, when any one,
seeing the beauty that is here below, and having a reminiscence
of the true, feels, or finds, his wings (pterŰtai)+ fluttering
upwards, in his eagerness to soar above, but unable, like a
bird looking towards the sky, heedless of things below, he is
charged with unsoundness of mind. I have told how this is the
most excellent of all forms of enthusiasm (or possession) both
to its possessor and to him who participates in it; how it comes
of the noblest causes; and that the lover who has a share of
this madness is called a lover of the beautiful. For, as has
been said, every soul of man, by its very nature, has seen the
things that really are, otherwise it would not have come into
this form of life (into a human body). But to rise from things
here to the recollection of those, is not an easy matter [173]
for every soul; neither for those which then had but a brief
view of things there; nor for such as were unlucky in their
descent hither, so that, through the influence of certain
associations, turning themselves to what is not right, they
have forgotten the sacred forms which then they saw. Few souls,
in truth, remain, to which the gift of reminiscence adequately
pertains. These, when they see some likeness of things there,
are lost in amazement, and belong no longer to themselves;
only, they understand not the true nature of their affection,
because they lack discernment. Now, of Justice, and of
Temperance, and of all those other qualities which are precious
to souls, there is no clear light in their semblances here below;
but, through obscure organs, with difficulty, very few, coming
to their figures, behold the generation (genos,+ the people)
of that which is figured. At that moment it was possible to
behold Beauty in its clearness, when, with the choir of the
blessed following on, ourselves with Zeus, some with one, some
with another, of the gods, they looked upon a blissful vision
and view, and were made partakers in what it is meet and right
to call the most blessed of all mysteries; the which we
celebrated, sound and whole then, and untouched by the evil
things that awaited us in time to come, as being admitted to
mystic sights, whole and sound and at unity with themselves,
in pure light gazing on them, being ourselves pure, and
unimpressed by this we carry about now and call our body,
imprisoned like a fish in its shell.

Let memory be indulged thus far; for whose sake, in regret
for what was then, I have now spoken somewhat at length.
As regards Beauty, as I said, it both shone out, in its true
being, among those other eternal forms; and when we came down
hither we apprehended it through the clearest of all our bodily
senses, gleaming with utmost brightness. For sight comes to
us keenest of all our bodily senses, though Wisdom is not seen
by it. Marvellous loves, in truth, would that (namely, Wisdom)
have afforded, had it presented any manifest image of itself,
such as that of Beauty, had it reached our bodily vision--that,
and all those other amiable forms. But now Beauty alone has
had this fortune; so that it is the clearest, the most certain,
of all things; and the most lovable. Phaedrus, 249.+


152. +Transliteration: noÍtos topos. Pater's translation: "intellectual
world." Plato, Republic 508b and 517b.

153. +Transliteration: homoion homoiŰ. Pater's translation: "like to
like." Variants of the phrase occur in many of Plato's dialogues; see,
for example, Parmenides 132d.

153. +Transliteration: hypo logŰn. Pater's translation: "under the
influence of . . . thought and language." Plato, Philebus 15d.

153. +Transliteration: kinei. Pater's translation: "sets in motion."
Plato, Philebus 15e.

154. +Transliteration: logos. Pater's contextual translation:
"definition." Plato, Philebus 15e.

154. +The passage begins at Philebus 15d.

161. +Transliteration: synagŰgÍ . . . diairesis. Liddell and Scott
definition / E-text editor's translation: "." For example, Phaedrus

162. +Transliteration: Ti poiousa. Pater's translation: "by the doing
of what."

163. +Transliteration: chŰristos. Pater's translation: "separable."
The term occurs often in Aristotle's Metaphysics. For example, see
Metaphysics 1090a.

165. +Transliteration: genos. Pater's translation: "seed, generation."
Liddell and Scott definition: "race, descent." Plato, Phaedrus 247a.
165. +Transliteration: akÍratŰ. Pater's translation: "unmixed with
sense." Plato, Phaedrus 247a.

166. +Transliteration: tÍn en tŰ ho estin on ontos epistÍmÍn ousan.
Pater's translation: "the knowledge which is in that which in very deed
is." Plato, Phaedrus 247e.

166. See Plato, Phaedrus 247b ff.

168. +Transliteration: chŰristos. Pater's translation: "separable."
The term occurs often in Aristotle's Metaphysics. For example, see
Metaphysics 1090a.

171. +Transliteration: Tou ontos te kai alÍtheias erastas tous
philosophous. Liddell and Scott definition / E-text editor's
translation: "Philosophers are lovers of truth and of that which is
. . ." Plato, Republic 501d.

171. +Transliteration: erastas. See previous note.

172. +Transliteration: ta erŰtika. Pater's translation: "the discipline
of sensuous love;" more literally, the phrase means "things pertaining
to love." For one instance, see Plato, Symposium 177d.

172. +Transliteration: mania. Liddell and Scott definition: "madness,
frenzy." See, for example, Plato, Phaedrus 249d.

172. +Transliteration: pterŰtai. E-text editor's translation: "[he] is
furnished with wings." Plato, Phaedrus 249d.

173. +Transliteration: genos. Pater's translation: "seed, generation."
Liddell and Scott definition: "race, descent." Plato, Phaedrus 247a.

173. +This passage begins at Phaedrus 249d.



[174] Three different forms of composition have, under the intellectual
conditions of different ages, prevailed--three distinct literary
methods, in the presentation of philosophic thought; the metrical form
earliest, when philosophy was still a matter of intuition, imaginative,
sanguine, often turbid or obscure, and became a Poem, Peri PhyseŰs,+
"Concerning Nature"; according to the manner of Pythagoras, "his golden
verses," of Parmenides or Empedokles, after whom Lucretius in his turn
modelled the finest extant illustration of that manner of writing, of

It was succeeded by precisely the opposite manner, when native
intuition had shrunk into dogmatic system, the dry bones of which
rattle in one's ears, with Aristotle, or Aquinas, or Spinoza, as a
formal treatise; the perfected philosophic temper being situated midway
between those opposites, in the third essential form of the literature
of philosophy, namely the essay; that characteristic literary type of
our own time, a time so rich and various in special apprehensions of
truth, so tentative and dubious in its sense of their ensemble, and
issues. Strictly appropriate form of our modern philosophic
literature, the essay came into use at what was really the invention of
the relative, [175] or "modern" spirit, in the Renaissance of the
sixteenth century.*

The poem, the treatise, the essay: you see already that these three
methods of writing are no mere literary accidents, dependent on the
personal choice of this or that particular writer, but necessities of
literary form, determined directly by matter, as corresponding to three
essentially different ways in which the human mind relates itself to
truth. If oracular verse, stimulant but enigmatic, is the proper
vehicle of enthusiastic intuitions; if the treatise, with its ambitious
array of premiss and conclusion, is the natural out-put of scholastic
all-sufficiency; so, the form of the essay, as we have it towards the
end of the sixteenth century, most significantly in Montaigne,
representative essayist because the representative doubter, inventor of
the name as, in essence, of the thing--of the essay, in its seemingly
modest aim, its really large and adventurous possibilities--is
indicative of Montaigne's peculiar function in regard to his age, as in
truth the commencement of our own. It provided him with precisely the
literary form necessary to a mind for which truth itself is but a
possibility, realisable not as general conclusion, but rather as the
elusive effect of a particular personal experience; to a mind which,
noting [176] faithfully those random lights that meet it by the way,
must needs content itself with suspension of judgment, at the end of
the intellectual journey, to the very last asking: Que scais-je? Who
knows?--in the very spirit of that old Socratic contention, that all
true philosophy is but a refined sense of one's ignorance.

And as Aristotle is the inventor of the treatise, so the Platonic
Dialogue, in its conception, its peculiar opportunities, is essentially
an essay--an essay, now and then passing into the earlier form of
philosophic poetry, the prose-poem of Heraclitus. There have been
effective writers of dialogue since, Bruno, for instance, Berkeley,
Landor, with whom, however, that literary form has had no strictly
constitutional propriety to the kind of matter it conveyed, as lending
itself (that is to say) structurally to a many-sided but hesitant
consciousness of the truth. Thus, with Berkeley, its purpose is but to
give a popular turn to certain very dogmatic opinions, about which
there is no diffidence, there are no half-lights, in the writer's own
mind. With Plato, on the other hand, with Plato least of all is the
dialogue--that peculiar modification of the essay--anything less than
essential, necessary, organic: the very form belongs to, is of the
organism of, the matter which it embodies. For Plato's Dialogues, in
fact, reflect, they refine [177] upon while they fulfil, they idealise,
the actual method, in which, by preference to anything like formal
lecturing (the lecture being, so to speak, a treatise in embryo)
Socrates conveyed his doctrine to others. We see him in those
Dialogues of Plato, still loitering in the public places, the open
houses, the suburban roads, of Athens, as if seeking truth from others;
seeking it, doubtless, from himself, but along with, and by the help
of, his supposed scholars, for whom, indeed, he can but bring their own
native conceptions of truth to the birth; but always faithfully
registering just so much light as is given, and, so to speak, never

The Platonic Dialogue is the literary transformation, in a word, of
what was the intimately home-grown method of Socrates, not only of
conveying truth to others, but of coming by it for himself. The
essence of that method, of "dialectic" in all its forms, as its very
name denotes, is dialogue, the habit of seeking truth by means of
question and answer, primarily with one's self. Just there, lies the
validity of the method--in a dialogue, an endless dialogue, with one's
self; a dialogue concerning those first principles, or "universal
definitions," or notions, those "ideas," which, according to Plato, are
the proper objects of all real knowledge; concerning the adequacy of
one's hold upon them; the relationship to them of other notions; the
plausible conjectures in our own or other minds, [178] which come short
of them; the elimination, by their mere presence in the mind, of
positive ignorance or error. Justice, Beauty, Perfect Polity, and the
like, in outlines of eternal and absolute certainty:--they were to be
apprehended by "dialectic," literally, by a method (methodos)+ a
circuitous journey, presented by the Platonic dialogues in its most
accomplished literary form.

For the certainty, the absolute and eternal character, of such ideas
involved, with much labour and scruple, repeated acts of qualification
and correction; many readjustments to experience; expansion, by larger
lights from it; those exclusions and inclusions, debitae naturae (to
repeat Bacon's phrase) demanded, that is to say, by the veritable
nature of the facts which those ideas are designed to represent.
"Representation" was, in fact, twofold, and comprehended many
successive steps under each of its divisions. The thought was to be
adjusted, first, to the phenomena, to the facts, daintily, to the end
that the said thought might just cover those facts, and no more. To
the thought, secondly, to the conception, thus articulated, it was
necessary to adjust the term; the term, or "definition," by which it
might be conveyed into the mind of another. The dialogue--the freedom,
the variety and elasticity, of dialogue, informal, easy, natural, alone
afforded the room necessary for that long and complex process. If one,
if Socrates, seemed to become [179] the teacher of another, it was but
by thinking aloud for a few moments over his own lesson, or leaning
upon that other as he went along that difficult way which each one must
really prosecute for himself, however full such comradeship might be of
happy occasions for the awakening of the latent knowledge, with which
mind is by nature so richly stored. The Platonic Socrates, in fact,
does not propose to teach anything: is but willing, "along with you,"
and if you concur, "to consider, to seek out, what the thing may be.
Perchance using our eyes in common, rubbing away, we might cause
Justice, for instance, to glint forth, as from fire-sticks."*

"And," again, "is not the road to Athens made for conversation?" Yes!
It might seem that movement, after all, and any habit that promoted
movement, promoted the power, the successes, the fortunate parturition,
of the mind. A method such as this, a process (processus) a movement
of thought, which is the very converse of mathematical or demonstrative
reasoning, and incapable therefore of conventional or scholastic form,
of "exactness," in fact; which proceeded to truth, not by the analysis
and application of an axiom, but by a gradual suppression of error, of
error in the form of partial or exaggerated truths on the subject-
matter proposed, found its proper [180] literary vehicle in a dialogue,
the more flexible the better. It was like a journey indeed, that essay
towards Justice, for example, or the true Polity; a journey, not along
the simple road to Athens, but to a mountain's top. The proportions,
the outline, the relation of the thing to its neighbours,--how do the
inexperienced in such journeys mistake them, as they climb! What
repeated misconceptions, embodying, one by one, some mere particularity
of view, the perspective of this or that point of view, forthwith
abandoned, some apprehension of mountain form and structure, just a
little short, or, it may be, immeasurably short, of what Plato would
call the "synoptic" view of the mountain as a whole. From this or that
point, some insignificant peak presented itself as the mountain's
veritable crest: inexperience would have sworn to the truth of a wholly
illusive perspective, as the next turn in the journey assured one. It
is only upon the final step, with free view at last on every side,
uniting together and justifying all those various, successive, partial
apprehensions of the difficult way--only on the summit, comes the
intuitive comprehension of what the true form of the mountain really
is; with a mental, or rather an imaginative hold upon which, for the
future, we can find our way securely about it; observing perhaps that,
next to that final intuition, the first view, the first impression, had
been truest about it.

[181] Such, in its full scope, is the journey or pilgrimage, the method
(hodos, kinÍsis, methodos)+ of the Socratic, of the perfected Platonic
dialectic, towards the truth, the true knowledge, of Bravery or
Friendship, for instance; of Space or Motion, again, as suggested in
the seventh book of The Republic; of the ideal City, of the immaculate
Beauty. You are going about Justice, for example--that great complex
elevation on the level surface of life, whose top, it may be, reaches
to heaven. You fancy you have grasped its outline. Alla metathŰmetha.+
You are forced on, perhaps by your companion, a step further, and the
view has already changed. "Persevere," Plato might say, "and a step
may be made, upon which, again, the whole world around may change, the
entire horizon and its relation to the point you stand on--a change
from the half-light of conjecture to the full light of indefectible
certitude." That, of course, can only happen by a summary act of
intuition upon the entire perspective, wherein all those partial
apprehensions, which one by one may have seemed inconsistent with each
other, find their due place, or (to return to the Platonic Dialogue
again, to the actual process of dialectic as there exposed) by that
final impression of a subject, a theorem, in which the mind attains a
hold, as if by a single imaginative act, through all the transitions of
a long conversation, upon all the seemingly opposite contentions of all
the various speakers at once. We see already why [182] Platonic
dialectic--the ladder, as Plato thinks, by which alone we can ascend
into the entirely reasonable world (noÍtos topos)+ beginning with the
boyish difficulties and crudities of Meno, for instance, is a process
which may go on, at least with those gifted by nature and opportunity,
as in the Perfect City,--may go on to the close of life, and, as
Pythagorean theory suggests, perhaps does not end even then.

The process of dialectic, as represented in the Platonic Dialogues, may
seem, therefore, inconsistent with itself, if you isolate this or that
particular movement, in what is a very complex process, with many
phases of development. It is certainly difficult, and that not merely
on a first reading, to grasp the unity of the various statements Plato
has made about it. Now it may seem to differ from ordinary reasoning
by a certain plausibility only: it is logic, plus persuasion; helping,
gently enticing, a child out of his natural errors; carefully
explaining difficulties by the way, as one can best do, by question and
answer with him; above all, never falling into the mistake of the
obscurum per obscurius. At another time it may seem to aim at
plausibility of another sort; at mutual complaisance, as Thrasymachus
complains. It would be possible, of course, to present an insincere
dialogue, in which certain of the disputants shall be mere men of
straw. In the Philebus again, dialectic is only the name of the
process (described there [183] as exactly, almost as technically, as
Aristotle, or some modern master of applied logic, might describe it)
of the resolution of a genus into its species. Or it lapses into
"eristic"--into an argument for its own sake; or sinks into logomachy,
a mere dispute about words. Or yet again, an immense, a boundless
promise is made for it, as in the seventh book of The Republic. It is
a life, a systematised, but comprehensive and far-reaching,
intellectual life, in which the reason, nay, the whole nature of man,
realises all it was designed to be, by the beatific "vision of all time
and all existence."

Now all these varying senses of the word "dialectic" fall within
compass, if we remember that for Plato, as for every other really
philosophic thinker, method must be one; that it must cover, or be
understood to cover, the entire process, all the various processes, of
the mind, in pursuit of properly representative ideas, of a reasoned
reflex of experience; and that for Plato, this process is essentially a
long discourse or reasoning of the mind with itself. It is that
dynamic, or essential, dialogue of the mind with itself, which lends,
or imputes, its active principle to the written or spoken dialogue,
which, in return, lends its name to the method it figures--
"dialectic." Well! in that long and complex dialogue of the mind with
itself, many persons, so to speak, will necessarily take part; so many
persons as there are possible contrasts or shades [184] in the
apprehension of some complex subject. The advocatus diaboli will be
heard from time to time. The dog also, or, as the Greeks said, the
wolf, will out with his story against the man; and one of the
interlocutors will always be a child, turning round upon us innocently,
candidly, with our own admissions, or surprising us, perhaps at the
last moment, by what seems his invincible ignorance, when we thought it
rooted out of him. There will be a youth, inexperienced in the
capacities of language, who will compel us to allow much time to the
discussion of words and phrases, though not always unprofitably. And
to the last, let us hope, refreshing with his enthusiasm, the weary or
disheartened enquirer (who is always also of the company) the rightly
sanguine youth, ingenuous and docile, to whom, surely, those friendly
living ideas will be willing, longing, to come, after that Platonic law
of affinity, so effectual in these matters--homoion homoiŰ.+

With such a nature above all, bringing with it its felicities of
temperament, with the sort of natures (as we may think) which
intellectually can but thrive, a method like that, the dialectic
method, will also have its felicities, its singular good fortunes. A
voyage of discovery, prosecuted almost as if at random, the Socratic or
Platonic "dialogue of enquiry," seems at times to be in charge of a
kind of "Providence." Or again, it will be as when hunters or bird-
catchers "beat [185] the bush," as we say: Plato elaborates that figure
in The Republic. Only, if they be knowing in the process, a fair
percentage of birds will be found and taken. All the chances, or
graces, of such a method, as actually followed in a whole life of free
enquiry, The Republic, for a watchful reader, represents in little.
And when, using still another figure, Socrates says: "I do not yet
know, myself; but, we must just go where the argument carries us, as a
vessel runs before the wind," he breathes the very soul of the
"dialectic method":--hopÍ an ho logos, hŰsper pneuma, pherÍ, tautÍ

This dialectic method, this continuous discourse with one's self,
being, for those who prosecute it with thoroughness, co-extensive with
life itself--a part of the continuous company we keep with ourselves
through life--will have its inequalities; its infelicities; above all,
its final insecurity. "We argue rashly and adventurously," writes
Plato, most truly, in the Timaeus--aye, we, the Platonists, as such,
sometimes--"by reason that, like ourselves, our discourses (our
Platonic discourses, as such) have much participation in the temerity
of chance." Of course, as in any other occasional conversation, with
its dependence on the hour and the scene, the persons we are with, the
humours of the moment, there will always be much of accident in this
essentially informal, this un-methodical, [186] method; and, therefore,
opportunities for misuse, sometimes consciously. The candid reader
notes instances of such, even in The Republic, not always on the part
of Thrasymachus:--in this "new game of chess," played, as Plato puts
it, not with counters, but with words, and not necessarily for the
prize of truth, but, it may be, for the mere enjoyment of move and
counter-move, of check-mating.

Since Zeno's paradoxes, in fact, the very air of Athens was become
sophisticated, infected with questionings, often vain enough; and the
Platonic method had been, in its measure, determined by (the unfriendly
might say, was in truth only a deposit from) that infected air.
"Socrates," as he admits, "is easily refuted. Say rather, dear
Agathon, that you cannot refute the truth." That is reassuring,
certainly! For you might think sometimes, uneasily, of the Platonic
Socrates, that, as he says of the Sophist, or of himself perhaps en
caricature, in the Euthydemus, "Such is his skill in the war of words,
that he can refute any proposition whatever, whether true or false";
that, in short, there is a dangerous facility abroad for proving all
things whatever, equally well, of which Socrates, and his presumable
allotment of truth, has but the general allotment.

The friendly, on the other hand, might rejoin even then, that, as
Lessing suggests, the search for truth is a better thing for us than
its possession.

[187] Plato, who supposes any knowledge worth the name to be "absolute
and eternal"; whose constant contention it is, to separate longo
intervallo, by the longest possible interval, science (epistÍmÍ)+ as the
possession of irresistible truth, from any and every sort of knowledge
which falls short of that; would hardly have accepted the suggestion of
Lessing. Yet, in spite of all that, in spite of the demand he makes
for certainty and exactness and what is absolute, in all real
knowledge, he does think, or inclines his reader to think, that truth,
precisely because it resembles some high kind of relationship of
persons to persons, depends a good deal on the receiver; and must be,
in that degree, elusive, provisional, contingent, a matter of various
approximation, and of an "economy," as is said; that it is partly a
subjective attitude of mind:--that philosophic truth consists in the
philosophic temper. "Socrates in Plato," remarks Montaigne acutely,
"disputes, rather to the profit of the disputants, than of the dispute.
He takes hold of the first subject, like one who has a more profitable
end in view than to explain it; namely, to clear the understandings
that he takes upon him to instruct and exercise."

Just there, in fact, is the justification of Plato's peculiar
dialectical method, of its inexactness, its hesitancy, its scruples and
reserve, as if he feared to obtrude knowledge on an unworthy receiver.
The treatise, as the proper instrument of dogma [188] --the Ethics of
Aristotle, the Ethics of Spinoza--begins with a truth, or with a clear
conviction of truth, in the axiom or definition, which it does but
propose further to explain and apply.--The treatise, as the instrument
of a dogmatic philosophy begins with an axiom or definition: the essay
or dialogue, on the other hand, as the instrument of dialectic, does
not necessarily so much as conclude in one; like that long dialogue
with oneself, that dialectic process, which may be co-extensive with
life. It does in truth little more than clear the ground, as we say,
or the atmosphere, or the mental tablet, that one may have a fair
chance of knowing, or seeing, perhaps: it does but put one into a duly
receptive attitude towards such possible truth, discovery, or
revelation, as may one day occupy the ground, the tablet,--shed itself
on the purified air; it does not provide a proposition, nor a system of
propositions, but forms a temper.

What Plato presents to his readers is then, again, a paradox, or a
reconciliation of opposed tendencies: on one side, the largest possible
demand for infallible certainty in knowledge (it was he fixed that
ideal of absolute truth, to which, vainly perhaps, the human mind, as
such, aspires) yet, on the other side, the utmost possible inexactness,
or contingency, in the method by which actually he proposes to attain
it. It has been said that the humour of Socrates, of which the [189]
famous Socratic irony--the pretence to have a bad memory, to dislike or
distrust long and formal discourse, to have taught nothing, to be but a
mid-wife in relation to other people's thoughts--was an element, is
more than a mere personal trait; that it was welcome as affording a
means of escape from the full responsibilities of his teaching. It
belonged, in truth, to the tentative character of dialectic, of
question and answer as the method of discovery, of teaching and
learning, to the position, in a word, of the philosophic essayist.
That it was thus, might be illustrated abundantly from the Platonic
dialogues. The irony, the Socratic humour, so serviceable to a
diffident teacher, are, in fact, Plato's own. Kindyneuei,+ "it may
chance to be," is, we may notice, a favourite catchword of his. The
philosopher of Being, or, of the verb, "To be," is after all afraid of
saying, "It is."

For, again, person dealing with person--with possible caprice,
therefore, at least on one side--or intelligence with intelligence, is
what Plato supposes in the reception of truth:--that, and not an exact
mechanism, a precise machine, operating on, or with, an exactly
ponderable matter. He has fears for truth, however carefully
considered. To the very last falsehood will lurk, if not about truth
itself, about this or that assent to it. The receiver may add the
falsities of his own nature to the truth he receives. The proposition
which embodies it very [190] imperfectly, may not look to him, in those
dark chambers of his individuality, of himself, into which none but he
can ever get, to test the matter, what it looks to me, or to you. We
may not even be thinking of, not looking at, the same thing, when we
talk of Beauty, and the like; objects which, after all, to the
Platonist are matters of theŰria,+ of immediate intuition, of immediate
vision, or, as Plato sometimes fancied, of an earlier personal
experience; and which, as matter of such intuition, are incapable of
analysis, and therefore, properly, incommunicable by words. Place,
then, must be left to the last in any legitimate dialectic process for
possible after-thoughts; for the introduction, so to speak, of yet
another interlocutor in the dialogue, which has, in fact, no necessary
conclusion, and leaves off only because time is up, or when, as he
says, one leaves off seeking through weariness (apokamnŰn).+ "What
thought can think, another thought can mend." Another turn in the
endless road may change the whole character of the perspective. You
cannot, as the Sophist proposed to do (that was part of his
foolishness) take and put truth into the soul. If you could, it might
be established there, only as an "inward lie," as a mistake. "Must I
take the argument, and literally insert it into your mind?" asks
Thrasymachus. "Heaven forbid": answers Socrates. That is precisely
what he fears most, for himself, and for others; and from first to
last, demands, as the first condition of comradeship [191] in that long
journey in which he conceives teacher and learner to be but fellow-
travellers, pilgrims side by side, sincerity, above all sincerity with
one's self--that, and also freedom in reply. "Answer what you think,
megaloprepŰs +--liberally." For it is impossible to make way otherwise,
in a method which consists essentially in the development of knowledge
by question and answer.

Misuse, again, is of course possible in a method which admits of no
objective sanction or standard; the success of which depends on a
loyalty to one's self, in the prosecution of it, of which no one else
can be cognisant. And if we can misuse it with ourselves, how much
more certainly can the expert abuse it with another. At every turn of
the conversation, a door lies open to sophistry. Sophistry, logomachy,
eristic: we may learn what these are, sometimes, from Plato's own
practice. That justice is only useful as applied to things useless;
that the just man is a kind of thief; and the like; is hardly so much
as sophistry. And this too was possible in a method, which, with all
its large outlook, has something of the irregularity, the accident, the
heats and confusion, of life itself--a method of reasoning which can
only in a certain measure be reasoned upon. How different the
exactness which Aristotle supposes, and does his best to secure, in
scientific procedure! For him, dialectic, Platonic dialectic, is, at
best, a part of "eristic" [192] --of the art, or trick, of merely
popular and approximate debate, in matters where science is out of the
question, and rhetoric has its office, not in providing for the
intelligence, but in moulding the sentiments and the will. Conversely
to that absoluteness and necessity which Plato himself supposes in all
real knowledge, as "the spectacle of all time and all existence," it
might seem that the only sort of truth attainable by his actual method,
must be the truth of a particular time and place, for one and not for
another. Dialogos peirastikos,+ "a Dialogue of search":--every one of
Plato's Dialogues is in essence such like that whole, life-long,
endless dialogue which dialectic, in its largest scope, does but
formulate, and in which truly the last, the infallible word, after all,
never gets spoken. Our pilgrimage is meant indeed to end in nothing
less than the vision of what we seek. But can we ever be quite sure
that we are really come to that? By what sign or test?

Now oppose all this, all these peculiarities of the Platonic method, as
we find it, to the exact and formal method of Aristotle, of Aquinas, of
Spinoza, or Hegel; and then suppose one trained exclusively on Plato's
dialogues. Is it the eternal certainty, after all, the immutable and
absolute character of truth, as Plato conceived it, that he would be
likely to apprehend? We have here another of those contrasts of
tendency, constitutional [193] in the genius of Plato, and which may
add to our interest in him. Plato is to be explained, as we say, or
interpreted, partly through his predecessors, and his contemporaries;
but in part also by his followers, by the light his later mental
kinsmen throw back on the conscious or unconscious drift of his
teaching. Now there are in the history of philosophy two opposite
Platonic traditions; two legitimate yet divergent streams of influence
from him. Two very different yet equally representative scholars we
may see in thought emerging from his school. The "theory of the
Ideas," the high ideal, the uncompromising demand for absolute
certainty, in any truth or knowledge worthy of the name; the immediate
or intuitive character of the highest acts of knowledge; that all true
theory is indeed "vision":--for the maintenance of that side of the
Platonic position we must look onward to Aristotle, and the Schoolmen
of all ages, to Spinoza, to Hegel; to those mystic aspirants to
"vision" also, the so-called Neo-Platonists of all ages, from Proclus
to Schelling. From the abstract, metaphysical systems of those, the
ecstasy and illuminism of these, we may mount up to the actual words of
Plato in the Symposium, the fifth book of The Republic, the Phaedrus.

But it is in quite different company we must look for the tradition,
the development, of Plato's actual method of learning and teaching.
The Academy of Plato, the established seat of his [194] philosophy,
gave name to a school, of which Lucian, in Greek, and in Latin, Cicero,
are the proper representatives,--Cicero, the perfect embodiment of what
is still sometimes understood to be the "academic spirit," surveying
all sides, arraying evidence, ascertaining, measuring, balancing,
tendencies, but ending in suspension of judgment. If Platonism from
age to age has meant, for some, ontology, a doctrine of "being," or the
nearest attainable approach to or substitution for that; for others,
Platonism has been in fact only another name for scepticism, in a
recognisable philosophic tradition. Thus, in the Middle Age, it
qualifies in the Sic et Non the confident scholasticism of Abelard. It
is like the very trick and impress of the Platonic Socrates himself
again, in those endless conversations of Montaigne--that typical
sceptic of the age of the Renaissance--conversations with himself, with
the living, with the dead through their writings, which his Essays do
but reflect. Typical Platonist or sceptic, he is therefore also the
typical essayist. And the sceptical philosopher of Bordeaux does but
commence the modern world, which, side by side with its metaphysical
reassertions, from Descartes to Hegel, side by side also with a
constant accumulation of the sort of certainty which is afforded by
empirical science, has had assuredly, to check wholesomely the
pretensions of one and of the other alike, its doubts.--"Their name is
legion," says a modern writer. Reverent [195] and irreverent,
reasonable and unreasonable, manly and unmanly, morbid and healthy,
guilty and honest, wilful, inevitable--they have been called,
indifferently, in an age which thirsts for intellectual security, but
cannot make up its mind. Q'ue scais-je? it cries, in the words of
Montaigne; but in the spirit also of the Platonic Socrates, with whom
such dubitation had been nothing less than a religious duty or service.

Sanguine about any form of absolute knowledge, of eternal, or
indefectible, or immutable truth, with our modern temperament as it is,
we shall hardly become, even under the direction of Plato, and by the
reading of the Platonic Dialogues. But if we are little likely to
realise in his school, the promise of "ontological" science, of a
"doctrine of Being," or any increase in our consciousness of
metaphysical security, are likely, rather, to acquire there that other
sort of Platonism, a habit, namely, of tentative thinking and suspended
judgment, if we are not likely to enjoy the vision of his "eternal and
immutable ideas," Plato may yet promote in us what we call "ideals"--
the aspiration towards a more perfect Justice, a more perfect Beauty,
physical and intellectual, a more perfect condition of human affairs,
than any one has ever yet seen; that kosmos,+ in which things are only
as they are thought by a perfect mind, to which experience is
constantly approximating us, but which it does not provide. There they
stand, the two [196] great landmarks of the intellectual or spiritual
life as Plato conceived it: the ideal, the world of "ideas," "the great
perhaps," for which it is his merit so effectively to have opened room
in the mental scheme, to be known by us, if at all, through our
affinities of nature with it, which, however, in our dealings with
ourselves and others we may assume to be objective or real:--and then,
over against our imperfect realisation of that ideal, in ourselves, in
nature and history, amid the personal caprices (it might almost seem)
of its discovery of itself to us, as the appropriate attitude on our
part, the dialectical spirit, which to the last will have its
diffidence and reserve, its scruples and second thoughts. Such
condition of suspended judgment indeed, in its more genial development
and under felicitous culture, is but the expectation, the receptivity,
of the faithful scholar, determined not to foreclose what is still a
question--the "philosophic temper," in short, for which a survival of
query will be still the salt of truth, even in the most absolutely
ascertained knowledge.


174. +Transliteration: Peri PhyseŰs. Pater's translation: "Concerning

174. ĪSic. This form, "situate," may be Pater's archaism for situated,
or it may simply be a typographic error in the original published

175. *Essay--"A loose sally of the mind," says Johnson's Dictionary.
Bailey's earlier Dictionary gives another suggestive use of the word
"among miners"--A little trench or hole, which they dig to search for

178. +Transliteration: methodos. Liddell and Scott definition:
"method." Plato, Republic 531c.

179. *Skepsasthai kai syzÍtÍsai hoti pote estin; kai, tach' an, par'
allÍla skopountes, kai tribontes, hŰsper ek pureiŰn, eklampsai
poiÍsaimen tÍn dikaiosynÍn. Pater's translation: "to consider, to seek
out, what the thing may be. Perchance using our eyes in common,
rubbing away, we might cause Justice, for instance, to glint forth, as
from fire-sticks." Plato, Meno 80d for the first line and, for the
remainder, Republic 435a.

181. +Transliteration: hodos, kinÍsis, methodos. Liddell and Scott
definitions: "path, motion, method."

181. +Transliteration: Alla metathŰmetha. E-text editor's translation:
"But let us follow out [a different path of thought]," or "let's
examine this from a different perspective." For example, Plato,
Republic 334e.

182. +Transliteration: noÍtos topos. Pater's translation: "reasonable
world." Plato, Republic 508b.

184. +Transliteration: homoion homoiŰ. Pater's translation: "like to
like." Variants of the phrase occur in many of Plato's dialogues; see,
for example, Parmenides 132d.

185. +Transliteration: hopÍ an ho logos, hŰsper pneuma, pherÍ, tautÍ
iteon. Pater's translation: "we must just go where the argument
carries us, as a vessel runs before the wind." Plato, Republic 394d.

187. +Transliteration: epistÍmÍ. Liddell and Scott definition "1.
knowledge, understanding, skill, experience, wisdom; 2. scientific

189. +Transliteration: Kindyneuei. Pater's translation: "it may chance
to be."

190. +Transliteration: theŰria. Liddell and Scott definition: "a
looking at, viewing, beholding . . . contemplation, reflection." Pater
defines it in Platonic terms as "immediate intuition." For example,
Plato, Republic 486a.

190. +Transliteration: apokamnŰn. Liddell and Scott definition:
"grow[ing] quite weary." See, for example, Plato, Protagoras 333b.

191. +Transliteration: megaloprepŰs. Liddell and Scott definition / E-
text editor's translation: "liberally." The exchange between
Thrasymachus and Socrates to which Pater refers begins at Republic

192. +Transliteration: Dialogos peirastikos. Pater's translation: "a
Dialogue of search."

195. +Transliteration: kosmos. Liddell and Scott definition: "I. 1.
order; 2. good order, good behaviour, decency; 3. a set form or order:
of states, government; 4. the mode or fashion of a thing; II. an
ornament. . .; III. the world or universe, from its perfect


[197] AMONG the Greeks, philosophy has flourished longest, and is still
most abundant, at Crete and Lacedaemon; and there there are more
teachers of philosophy than anywhere else in the world. But the
Lacedaemonians deny this, and pretend to be unlearned people, lest it
should become manifest that it is through philosophy they are supreme
in Greece; that they may be thought to owe their supremacy to their
fighting and manly spirit, for they think that if the means of their
superiority were made known all the Greeks would practise this. But
now, by keeping it a secret, they have succeeded in misleading the
Laconisers in the various cities of Greece; and in imitation of them
these people buffet themselves, and practise gymnastics, and put on
boxing-gloves, and wear short cloaks, as if it were by such things that
the Lacedaemonians excel all other Greeks. But the Lacedaemonians,
when they wish to have intercourse with their philosophers without
reserve, and are weary of going to them by stealth, make legal
proclamation that those Laconisers should depart, with any other aliens
who may be sojourning among them, and thereupon betake themselves to
their sophists unobserved by strangers. And you may know that what I
say is true, and that the Lacedaemonians are better instructed than all
other people in philosophy and the art of discussion in this way. If
any one will converse with even the most insignificant of the
Lacedaemonians, he may find him indeed in the greater part of what he
says seemingly but a poor creature; but then at some chance point in
the conversation he will throw in some brief compact saying, worthy of
remark, like a clever archer, so that his interlocutor shall seem no
better than a child. Of [198] this fact some both of those now living
and of the ancients have been aware, and that to Laconise consists in
the study of philosophy far rather than in the pursuit of gymnastic,
for they saw that to utter such sayings as those was only possible for
a perfectly educated man. Of these was Thales of Miletus, Pittacus of
Mytilene, Bias the Prienean, and our own Solon, Cleobulus the Lindian,
and Myson of Chen, and the seventh among them was called Chilon, a
Lacedaemonian. These were all zealous lovers and disciples of the
culture of the Lacedaemonians. And any one may understand that their
philosophy was something of this kind, short rememberable sayings
uttered by each of them. They met together and offered these in
common, as the first fruits of philosophy, to Apollo in his temple at
Delphi, and they wrote upon the walls these sayings known and read of
all men: GnŰthi sauton and MÍden agan. Protagoras, 343.+

Of course there is something in that of the romance to which the genius
of Plato readily inclined him; something also of the Platonic humour or
irony, which suggests, for example, to Meno, so anxious to be
instructed in the theory of virtue, that the philosophic temper must be
departed from Attica, its natural home, to Thessaly--to the rude
northern capital whence that ingenuous youth was freshly arrived.
Partly romantic, partly humorous, in his Laconism, Plato is however
quite serious in locating a certain spirit at Lacedaemon of which his
own ideal Republic would have been the completer development; while the
picture he draws of it presents many a detail taken straight from
Lacedaemon as it really was, as if by an admiring visitor, who had in
person paced the streets of the Dorian metropolis it was so difficult
for any [199] alien to enter. What was actually known of that stern
place, of the Lacedaemonians at home, at school, had charmed into
fancies about it other philosophic theorists; Xenophon for instance,
who had little or nothing of romantic tendency about them.

And there was another sort of romancing also, quite opposite to this of
Plato, concerning the hard ways among themselves of those
Lacedaemonians who were so invincible in the field. "The
Lacedaemonians," says Pausanias, "appear to have admired least of all
people poetry and the praise which it bestows." "At Lacedaemon there
is more philosophy than anywhere else in the world," is what Plato, or
the Platonic Socrates, had said. Yet, on the contrary, there were some
who alleged that true Lacedaemonians--Lacedaemonian nobles--for their
protection against the "effeminacies" of culture, were denied all
knowledge of reading and writing. But then we know that written books
are properly a mere assistant, sometimes, as Plato himself suggests, a
treacherous assistant, to memory; those conservative Lacedaemonians
being, so to speak, the people of memory pre-eminently, and very
appropriately, for, whether or not they were taught to read and write,
they were acknowledged adepts in the Pythagorean philosophy, a
philosophy which attributes to memory so preponderating a function in
the mental life. "Writing," says K. O. MŁller in his laborious, [200]
yet, in spite of its air of coldness, passably romantic work on The
Dorians--an author whose quiet enthusiasm for his subject resulted
indeed in a patient scholarship which well befits it: "Writing," he
says, "was not essential in a nation where laws, hymns, and the praises
of illustrious men--that is, jurisprudence and history--were taught in
their schools of music." Music, which is or ought to be, as we know,
according to those Pythagorean doctrines, itself the essence of all
things, was everywhere in the Perfect City of Plato; and among the
Lacedaemonians also, who may be thought to have come within measurable
distance of that Perfect City, though with no conscious theories about
it, music (mousikÍ)+ in the larger sense of the word, was everywhere,
not to alleviate only but actually to promote and inform, to be the
very substance of their so strenuous and taxing habit of life. What
was this "music," this service or culture of the Muses, this harmony,
partly moral, doubtless, but also throughout a matter of elaborate
movement of the voice, of musical instruments, of all beside that could
in any way be associated to such things--this music, for the
maintenance, the perpetual sense of which those vigorous souls were
ready to sacrifice so many opportunities, privileges, enjoyments of a
different sort, so much of their ease, of themselves, of one another?

Platonism is a highly conscious reassertion [201] of one of the two
constituent elements in the Hellenic genius, of the spirit of the
highlands namely in which the early Dorian forefathers of the
Lacedaemonians had secreted their peculiar disposition, in contrast
with the mobile, the marine and fluid temper of the littoral Ionian
people. The Republic of Plato is an embodiment of that Platonic
reassertion or preference, of Platonism, as the principle of a society,
ideal enough indeed, yet in various degrees practicable. It is not
understood by Plato to be an erection de novo, and therefore only on
paper. Its foundations might be laid in certain practicable changes to
be enforced in the old schools, in a certain reformed music which must
be taught there, and would float thence into the existing homes of
Greece, under the shadow of its old temples, the sanction of its old
religion, its old memories, the old names of things. Given the central
idea, with its essentially renovating power, the well-worn elements of
society as it is would rebuild themselves, and a new colour come
gradually over all things as the proper expression of a certain new
mind in them.

And in fact such embodiments of the specially Hellenic element in
Hellenism, compacted in the natural course of political development,
there had been, though in a less ideal form, in those many Dorian
constitutions to which Aristotle refers. To Lacedaemon, in The
Republic itself, admiring allusions abound, covert, yet bold [202]
enough, if we remember the existing rivalry between Athens and her
neighbour; and it becomes therefore a help in the study of Plato's
political ideal to approach as near as we may to that earlier actual
embodiment of its principles, which is also very interesting in itself.
The Platonic City of the Perfect would not have been cut clean away
from the old roots of national life: would have had many links with the
beautiful and venerable Greek cities of past and present. The ideal,
poetic or romantic as it might seem, would but have begun where they
had left off, where Lacedaemon, in particular, had left off. Let us
then, by way of realising the better the physiognomy of Plato's
theoretic building, suppose some contemporary student of The Republic,
a pupil, say! in the Athenian Academy, determined to gaze on the actual
face of what has so strong a family likeness to it. Stimulated by his
master's unconcealed Laconism, his approval of contemporary Lacedaemon,
he is at the pains to journey thither, and make personal inspection of
a place, in Plato's general commendations of which he may suspect some
humour or irony, but which has unmistakably lent many a detail to his
ideal Republic, on paper, or in thought.

He would have found it, this youthful Anacharsis, hard to get there,
partly through the nature of the country, in part because the people of
Lacedaemon (it was a point of system with them, as we heard just now)
were suspicious of [203] foreigners. Romantic dealers in political
theory at Athens were safe in saying pretty much what they pleased
about its domestic doings. Still, not so far away, made, not in idea
and by the movements of an abstract argument, the mere strokes of a
philosophic pen, but solidified by constancy of character, fortified
anew on emergency by heroic deeds, for itself, for the whole of Greece,
though with such persistent hold throughout on an idea, or system of
ideas, that it might seem actually to have come ready-made from the
mind of some half-divine Lycurgus, or through him from Apollo himself,
creator of that music of which it was an example:--there, in the hidden
valley of the Eurotas, it was to be found, as a visible centre of
actual human life, the place which was alleged to have come, harsh
paradox as it might sound to Athenian ears, within measurable distance
of civic perfection, of the political and social ideal.

Our youthful academic adventurer then, making his way along those
difficult roads, between the ridges of the Eastern Acadian Mountains,
and emerging at last into "hollow" Laconia, would have found himself in
a country carefully made the most of by the labour of serfs; a land of
slavery, far more relentlessly organised according to law than anywhere
else in Greece, where, in truth, for the most part slavery was a kind
of accident. But whatever rigours these slaves of Laconia were
otherwise subjected to, they [204] enjoyed certainly that kind of well-
being which does come of organisation, from the order and regularity of
system, living under central military authority, and bound themselves
to military service; to furnish (as under later feudal institutions) so
many efficient men-at-arms on demand, and maintain themselves in
readiness for war as they laboured in those distantly-scattered farms,
seldom visited by their true masters from Lacedaemon, whither year by
year they sent in kind their heavy tribute of oil, barley and wine.
The very genius of conservatism here enthroned, secured, we may be
sure, to this old-fashioned country life something of the personal
dignity, of the enjoyments also, natural to it; somewhat livelier
religious feasts, for example, than their lords allowed themselves.
Stray echoes of their boisterous plebeian mirth on such occasions have
reached us in Greek literature.

But if the traveller had penetrated a little more closely he would have
been told certain startling stories, with at least a basis of truth in
them, even as regards the age of Plato. These slaves were Greeks: no
rude Scythians, nor crouching, decrepit Asiatics, like ordinary
prisoners of war, the sort of slaves you could buy, but genuine Greeks,
speaking their native tongue, if with less of muscular tension and
energy, yet probably with pleasanter voice and accent than their
essentially highland masters. Physically they throve, under something
of the same discipline which had made [205] those masters the masters
also of all Greece. They saw them now and then--their younger lords,
brought, under strict tutelage, on those long hunting expeditions, one
of their so rare enjoyments, prescribed for them, as was believed, by
the founder of their polity. But sometimes (here was the report which
made one shudder even in broad daylight, in those seemingly reposeful
places) sometimes those young nobles of Lacedaemon reached them on a
different kind of pursuit: came by night, secretly, though by no means
contrarily to the laws of a state crafty as it was determined, to
murder them at home, or a certain moiety of them; one here or there
perhaps who, with good Achaean blood in his veins, and under a
wholesome mode of life, was grown too tall, or too handsome, or too
fruitful a father, to feel quite like a slave. Under a sort of slavery
that makes him strong and beautiful, where personal beauty was so
greatly prized, his masters are in fact jealous of him.

But masters thus hard to others, these Lacedaemonians, as we know, were
the reverse of indulgent to themselves. While, as a matter of theory,
power and privilege belonged exclusively to the old, to the seniors
(hoi gerontes, hÍ gerousia)+ ruling by a council wherein no question
might be discussed, one might only deliver one's Aye! or No! Lacedaemon
was in truth before all things an organised place of discipline, an
organised [206] opportunity also, for youth, for the sort of youth that
knew how to command by serving--a constant exhibition of youthful
courage, youthful self-respect, yet above all of true youthful
docility; youth thus committing itself absolutely, soul and body, to a
corporate sentiment in its very sports. There was a third sort of
regulation visits the lads of Lacedaemon were driven to pay to those
country places, the vales, the uplands, when, to brace youthful
stomachs and develope resource, they came at stated intervals as a kind
of mendicants or thieves, feet and head uncovered through frost and
heat, to steal their sustenance, under penalties if detected--"a
survival," as anthropologists would doubtless prove, pointing out
collateral illustrations of the same, from a world of purely animal
courage and keenness. Whips and rods used in a kind of monitorial
system by themselves had a great part in the education of these young
aristocrats, and, as pain surely must do, pain not of bodily disease or
wretched accidents, but as it were by dignified rules of art, seem to
have refined them, to have made them observant of the minutest
direction in those musical exercises, wherein eye and ear and voice and
foot all alike combined. There could be nothing paraleipomenon,+ as
Plato says, no "oversights," here. No! every one, at every moment,
quite at his best; and, observe especially, with no superfluities;
seeing that when we have to do with music of any kind, with matters of
art, in stone, in words, [207] in the actions of life, all
superfluities are in very truth "superfluities of naughtiness," such as
annihilate music.

The country through which our young traveller from his laxer school of
Athens seeks his way to Lacedaemon, this land of a noble slavery, so
peacefully occupied but for those irregular nocturnal terrors, was
perhaps the loveliest in Greece, with that peculiarly blent loveliness,
in which, as at Florence, the expression of a luxurious lowland is duly
checked by the severity of its mountain barriers. It was a type of the
Dorian purpose in life--sternness, like sea-water infused into wine,
overtaking a matter naturally rich, at the moment when fulness may lose
its savour and expression. Amid the corn and oleanders--corn "so tall,
close, and luxuriant," as the modern traveller there still finds--it
was visible at last, Lacedaemon, koilÍ SpartÍ,+ "hollow Sparta," under
the sheltering walls of Taygetus, the broken and rugged forms of which
were attributed to earthquake, but without proper walls of its own. In
that natural fastness, or trap, or falcon's nest, it had no need of
them, the falcon of the land, with the hamlets (polichnia)+ a hundred
and more, dispersed over it, in jealously enforced seclusion from one

From the first he notes "the antiquated appearance" of Lacedaemon, by
no means a "growing" place, always rebuilding, remodelling itself,
after the newest fashion, with shapeless suburbs [208] stretching
farther and farther on every side of it, grown too large perhaps, as
Plato threatens, to be a body, a corporate unity, at all: not that, but
still, and to the last, itself only a great village, a solemn, ancient,
mountain village. Even here of course there had been movement, some
sort of progress, if so it is to be called, linking limb to limb; but
long ago. Originally a union, after the manner of early Rome, of
perhaps three or four neighbouring villages which had never lost their
physiognomy, like Rome it occupied a group of irregular heights, the
outermost roots of Taygetus, on the bank of a river or mountain
torrent, impetuous enough in winter, a series of wide shallows and deep
pools in the blazing summer. It was every day however, all the year
round, that Lacedaemonian youth plunged itself in the Eurotas. Hence,
from this circumstance of the union there of originally disparate
parts, the picturesque and expressive irregularity, had they had time
to think it such, of the "city" properly so termed, the one open place
or street, High Street, or Corso--Aphetais by name, lined, irregularly
again, with various religious and other monuments. It radiated on all
sides into a mazy coil, an ambush, of narrow crooked lanes, up and
down, in which attack and defence would necessarily be a matter of
hand-to-hand fighting. In the outskirts lay the citizens' houses,
roomier far than those of Athens, with spacious, walled courts, almost
in the country. Here, in contrast [209] to the homes of Athens, the
legitimate wife had a real dignity, the unmarried woman a singular
freedom. There were no door-knockers: you shouted at the outer gate to
be let in. Between the high walls lanes passed into country roads,
sacred ways to ancient sacro-sanct localities, Therapnae, Amyclae, on
this side or that, under the shade of mighty plane-trees.

Plato, as you may remember, gives a hint that, like all other visible
things, the very trees--how they grow--exercise an aesthetic influence
on character. The diligent legislator therefore would have his
preferences, even in this matter of the trees under which the citizens
of the Perfect City might sit down to rest. What trees? you wonder.
The olive? the laurel, as if wrought in grandiose metal? the cypress?
that came to a wonderful height in Dorian Crete: the oak? we think it
very expressive of strenuous national character. Well! certainly the
plane-tree for one, characteristic tree of Lacedaemon then and now; a
very tranquil and tranquillising object, spreading its level or gravely
curved masses on the air as regally as the tree of Lebanon itself. A
vast grove of such was the distinguishing mark of Lacedaemon in any
distant view of it; that, and, as at Athens, a colossal image, older
than the days of Phidias--the Demos of Lacedaemon, it would seem,
towering visibly above the people it protected. Below those mighty
trees, on an island in their national river, [210] were the "playing-
fields," where Lacedaemonian youth after sacrifice in the Ephebeum
delighted others rather than itself (no "shirking" was allowed) with a
sort of football, under rigorous self-imposed rules--tearing, biting--a
sport, rougher even than our own, et mÍme trŤs dangereux, as our Attic
neighbours, the French, say of the English game.

They were orderly enough perforce, the boys, the young men, within the
city--seen, but not heard, except under regulations, when they made the
best music in the world. Our visitor from Athens when he saw those
youthful soldiers, or military students, as Xenophon in his pretty
treatise on the polity of Lacedaemon describes, walking with downcast
eyes, their hands meekly hidden in their cloaks, might have thought
them young monks, had he known of such.

A little mountain town, however ambitious, however successful in its
ambition, would hardly be expected to compete with Athens, or Corinth,
itself a Dorian state, in art-production, yet had not only its
characteristic preferences in this matter, in plastic and literary art,
but had also many venerable and beautiful buildings to show. The
Athenian visitor, who is standing now in the central space of
Lacedaemon, notes here, as being a trait also of the "Perfect City" of
academic theory, that precisely because these people find themselves
very susceptible to the [211] influences of form and colour and sound,
to external aesthetic influence, but have withal a special purpose, a
certain strongly conceived disciplinary or ethic ideal, that therefore
a peculiar humour prevails among them, a self-denying humour, in regard
to these things. Those ancient Pelopid princes, from whom the
hereditary kings of historic Lacedaemon, come back from exile into
their old home, claim to be descended, had had their palaces, with a
certain Homeric, Asiatic splendour, of wrought metal and the like;
considerable relics of which still remained, but as public or sacred
property now. At the time when Plato's scholar stands before them, the
houses of these later historic kings--two kings, as you remember,
always reigning together, in some not quite clearly evolved
differentiation of the temporal and spiritual functions--were plain
enough; the royal doors, when beggar or courtier approached them, no
daintier than Lycurgus had prescribed for all true Lacedaemonian
citizens; rude, strange things to look at, fashioned only, like the
ceilings within, with axe and saw, of old mountain oak or pine from
those great Taygetan forests, whence came also the abundant iron, which
this stern people of iron and steel had super-induced on that earlier
dreamy age of silver and gold--steel, however, admirably tempered and
wrought in its application to military use, and much sought after
throughout Greece.

Layer upon layer, the relics of those earlier [212] generations, a
whole succession of remarkable races, lay beneath the strenuous
footsteps of the present occupants, as there was old poetic legend in
the depths of their seemingly so practical or prosaic souls. Nor
beneath their feet only: the relics of their worship, their
sanctuaries, their tombs, their very houses, were part of the scenery
of actual life. Our young Platonic visitor from Athens, climbing
through those narrow winding lanes, and standing at length on the open
platform of the Aphetais, finds himself surrounded by treasures, modest
treasures of ancient architecture, dotted irregularly here and there
about him, as if with conscious design upon picturesque effect, such
irregularities sometimes carrying in them the secret of expression, an
accent. Old Alcman for one had been alive to the poetic opportunities
of the place; boasts that he belongs to Lacedaemon, "abounding in
sacred tripods"; that it was here the Heliconian Muses had revealed
themselves to him. If the private abodes even of royalty were rude it
was only that the splendour of places dedicated to religion and the
state might the more abound. Most splendid of them all, the Stoa
Poekile, a cloister or portico with painted walls, to which the spoils
of the Persian war had been devoted, ranged its pillars of white marble
on one side of the central space: on the other, connecting those high
memories with the task of the living, lay the Choros, where, at the
Gymnopaedia, the Spartan youth danced in honour of Apollo.

[213] Scattered up and down among the monuments of victory in battle
were the heroa, tombs or chapels of the heroes who had purchased it
with their blood--Pausanias, Leonidas, brought home from Thermopylae
forty years after his death. "A pillar too," says Pausanias, "is
erected here, on which the paternal names are inscribed of those who at
Thermopylae sustained the attack of the Medes." Here in truth all
deities put on a martial habit--Aphrodite, the Muses, Eros himself,
Athene Chalcioecus, Athene of the Brazen House, an antique temple
towering above the rest, built from the spoils of some victory long
since forgotten. The name of the artist who made the image of the
tutelary goddess was remembered in the annals of early Greek art,
Gitiades, a native of Lacedaemon. He had composed a hymn also in her
praise. Could we have seen the place he had restored rather than
constructed, with its covering of mythological reliefs in brass or
bronze, perhaps Homer's descriptions of a seemingly impossible sort of
metallic architecture would have been less taxing to his reader's
imagination. Those who in other places had lost their taste amid the
facile splendours of a later day, might here go to school again.

Throughout Greece, in fact, it was the Doric style which came to
prevail as the religious or hieratic manner, never to be surpassed for
that purpose, as the Gothic style seems likely to do with us. Though
it is not exclusively the invention [214] of Dorian men, yet, says
MŁller, "the Dorian character created the Doric architecture," and he
notes in it, especially, the severity of the perfectly straight,
smartly tapering line of its column; the bold projection of the
capital; the alternation of long unornamented plain surfaces with
narrower bands of decorated work; the profound shadows; the expression
of security, of harmony, infused throughout; the magnificent pediment
crowning the whole, like the cornice of mountain wall beyond, around,
and above it. Standing there in the Aphetais, amid these venerable
works of art, the visitor could not forget the natural architecture
about him. As the Dorian genius had differentiated itself from the
common Hellenic type in the heart of the mountains of Epirus, so here
at last, in its final and most characteristic home, it was still
surrounded by them:--ophrya te kai koilainetai.+

We know, some of us, what such mountain neighbourhood means. The
wholesome vigour, the clearness and purity they maintain in matters
such as air, light, water; how their presence multiplies the contrasts,
the element of light and shadow, in things; the untouched perfection of
the minuter ornament, flower or crystal, they permit one sparingly;
their reproachful aloofness, though so close to us, keeping sensitive
minds at least in a sort of moral alliance with their remoter
solitudes. "The whole life of the Lacedaemonian community," says
MŁller, [215] "had a secluded, impenetrable, and secret character."
You couldn't really know it unless you were of it.

A system which conceived the whole of life as matter of attention,
patience, a fidelity to detail, like that of good soldiers and
musicians, could not but tell also on the merest handicrafts,
constituting them in the fullest sense of a craft. If the money of
Sparta was, or had recently been, of cumbrous iron, that was because
its trade had a sufficient variety of stock to be mainly by barter, and
we may suppose the market (into which, like our own academic youth at
Oxford, young Spartans were forbidden to go) full enough of business--
many a busy workshop in those winding lanes. The lower arts certainly
no true Spartan might practise; but even Helots, artisan Helots, would
have more than was usual elsewhere of that sharpened intelligence and
the disciplined hand in such labour which really dignify those who
follow it. In Athens itself certain Lacedaemonian commodities were
much in demand, things of military service or for every-day use, turned
out with flawless adaptation to their purpose.

The Helots, then, to whom this business exclusively belonged, a race of
slaves, distinguishable however from the slaves or serfs who tilled the
land, handing on their mastery in those matters in a kind of guild,
father to son, through old-established families of flute- [216]
players, wine-mixers, bakers, and the like, thus left their hereditary
lords, Les Gens Fleur-de-lisťs (to borrow an expression from French
feudalism) in unbroken leisure, to perfect themselves for the proper
functions of gentlemen--scholÍ,+ leisure, in the two senses of the word,
which in truth involve one another--their whole time free, to be told
out in austere schools. Long easeful nights, with more than enough to
eat and drink, the "illiberal" pleasures of appetite, as Aristotle and
Plato agree in thinking them, are of course the appropriate reward or
remedy of those who work painfully with their hands, and seem to have
been freely conceded to those Helots, who by concession of the State,
from first to last their legal owner, were in domestic service, and
sometimes much petted in the house, though by no means freely conceded
to the "golden youth" of Lacedaemon--youth of gold, or gilded steel.
The traditional Helot, drunk perforce to disgust his young master with
the coarseness of vice, is probably a fable; and there are other
stories full of a touching spirit of natural service, of
submissiveness, of an instinctively loyal admiration for the brilliant
qualities of one trained perhaps to despise him, by which the servitor
must have become, in his measure, actually a sharer in them. Just
here, for once, we see that slavish Íthos,+ the servile range of
sentiment, which ought to accompany the condition of slavery, if it be
indeed, as Aristotle supposes, one of the [217] natural relationships
between man and man, idealised, or aesthetically right, pleasant and
proper; the aretÍ,+ or "best possible condition," of the young servitor
as such, including a sort of bodily worship, and a willingness to share
the keen discipline which had developed the so attractive gallantry of
his youthful lords.

A great wave, successive waves, of invasion, sufficiently remote to
have lost already all historic truth of detail, had left them--these
Helots, and the Perioeci, in the country round about--thus to serve
among their own kinsmen, though so close to them in lineage, so much on
a level with their masters in essential physical qualities that to the
last they could never be entirely subdued in spirit. Patient modern
research, following the track of a deep-rooted national tradition
veiled in the mythological figments which centre in what is called "The
Return of the Heraclidae," reveals those northern immigrants or
invaders, at various points on their way, dominant all along it, from a
certain deep vale in the heart of the mountains of Epirus southwards,
gradually through zone after zone of more temperate lowland, to reach
their perfection, highlanders from first to last, in this mountain
"hollow" of Lacedaemon. They claim supremacy, not as Dorian invaders,
but as kinsmen of the old Achaean princes of the land; yet it was to
the fact of conquest, to the necessity of [218] maintaining a position
so strained, like that, as Aristotle expressly pointed out, of a
beleaguered encampment in an enemy's territory, that the singular
institutions of Lacedaemon, the half-military, half-monastic spirit,
which prevailed in this so gravely beautiful place, had been originally
due. But observe!--Its moral and political system, in which that
slavery was so significant a factor, its discipline, its aesthetic and
other scruples, its peculiar moral Íthos,+ having long before our
Platonic student comes thither attained its original and proper ends,
survived,--there is the point! survived as an end in itself, as a
matter of sentiment, of public and perhaps still more of personal
pride, though of the finer, the very finest sort, in one word as an
ideal. Pericles, as you remember, in his famous vindication of the
Athenian system, makes his hearers understand that the ends of the
Lacedaemonian people might have been attained with less self-sacrifice
than theirs. But still, there it remained, hÍ diaita DŰrikÍ+--the
genuine Laconism of the Lacedaemonians themselves, their traditional
conception of life, with its earnestness, its precision and strength,
its loyalty to its own type, its impassioned completeness; a spectacle,
aesthetically, at least, very interesting, like some perfect instrument
shaping to what they visibly were, the most beautiful of all people, in
Greece, in the world.

Gymnastic, "bodily exercise," of course, does [219] not always and
necessarily effect the like of that. A certain perfectly preserved old
Roman mosaic pavement in the Lateran Museum, presents a terribly fresh
picture of the results of another sort of "training," the monstrous
development by a cruel art, by exercise, of this or that muscle,
changing boy or man into a merely mechanic instrument with which his
breeders might make money by amusing the Roman people. Victor Hugo's
odious dream of L'homme qui rit, must have had something of a prototype
among those old Roman gladiators. The Lacedaemonians, says Xenophon on
the other hand, homoiŰs apo te tŰn skelŰn kai apo cheirŰn kai apo
trachÍlou gymnazontai.+ Here too, that is to say, they aimed at, they
found, proportion, Pythagorean symmetry or music, and bold as they
could be in their exercises (it was a Lacedaemonian who, at Olympia,
for the first time threw aside the heavy girdle and ran naked to the
goal) forbade all that was likely to disfigure the body. Though we
must not suppose all ties of nature rent asunder, nor all connexion
between parents and children in those genial, retired houses at an end
in very early life, it was yet a strictly public education which began
with them betimes, and with a very clearly defined programme,
conservative of ancient traditional and unwritten rules, an
aristocratic education for the few, the liberales--"liberals," as we
may say, in that the proper sense of the word. It made them, in [220]
very deed, the lords, the masters, of those they were meant by-and-by
to rule; masters, of their very souls, of their imagination, enforcing
on them an ideal, by a sort of spiritual authority, thus backing, or
backed by, a very effective organisation of "the power of the sword."
In speaking of Lacedaemon, you see, it comes naturally to speak out of
proportion, it might seem, of its youth, and of the education of its
youth. But in fact if you enter into the spirit of Lacedaemonian
youth, you may conceive Lacedaemonian manhood for yourselves. You
divine already what the boy, the youth, so late in obtaining his
majority, in becoming a man, came to be in the action of life, and on
the battle-field. "In a Doric state," says MŁller, "education was, on
the whole, a matter of more importance than government."

A young Lacedaemonian, then, of the privileged class left his home, his
tender nurses in those large, quiet old suburban houses early, for a
public school, a schooling all the stricter as years went on, to be
followed, even so, by a peculiar kind of barrack-life, the temper of
which, a sort of military monasticism (it must be repeated) would beset
him to the end. Though in the gymnasia of Lacedaemon no idle by-
standers, no--well! Platonic loungers after truth or what not--were
permitted, yet we are told, neither there nor in Sparta generally,
neither there nor anywhere else, were the boys permitted [221] to be
alone. If a certain love of reserve, of seclusion, characterised the
Spartan citizen as such, it was perhaps the cicatrice of that wrench
from a soft home into the imperative, inevitable gaze of his fellows,
broad, searching, minute, his regret for, his desire to regain, moral
and mental even more than physical ease. And his education continued
late; he could seldom think of marriage till the age of thirty.
Ethically it aimed at the reality, aesthetically at the expression, of
reserved power, and from the first set its subject on the thought of
his personal dignity, of self-command, in the artistic way of a good
musician, a good soldier. It is noted that "the general accent of the
Doric dialect has itself the character not of question or entreaty, but
of command or dictation." The place of deference, of obedience, was
large in the education of Lacedaemonian youth; and they never
complained. It involved however for the most part, as with ourselves,
the government of youth by itself; an implicit subordination of the
younger to the older, in many degrees. Quite early in life, at school,
they found that superiors and inferiors, homoioi and hypomeiones,+ there
really were; and their education proceeded with systematic boldness on
that fact. EirÍn, melleirÍn, sideunÍs,+ and the like--words, titles,
which indicate an unflinching elaboration of the attitudes of youthful
subordination and command with responsibility--remain as a part of what
we might [222] call their "public-school slang." They ate together "in
their divisions" (agelai)+ on much the same fare every day at a sort of
messes; not reclined, like Ionians or Asiatics, but like heroes, the
princely males, in Homer, sitting upright on their wooden benches; were
"inspected" frequently, and by free use of viv‚ voce examination
"became adepts in presence of mind," in mental readiness and vigour, in
the brief mode of speech Plato commends, which took and has kept its
name from them; with no warm baths allowed; a daily plunge in their
river required. Yes! The beauty of these most beautiful of all people
was a male beauty, far remote from feminine tenderness; had the
expression of a certain ascÍsis in it; was like un-sweetened wine. In
comparison with it, beauty of another type might seem to be wanting in
edge or accent.

And they could be silent. Of the positive uses of the negation of
speech, like genuine scholars of Pythagoras, the Lacedaemonians were
well aware, gaining strength and intensity by repression. Long spaces
of enforced silence had doubtless something to do with that expressive
brevity of utterance, which could be also, when they cared, so
inexpressive of what their intentions really were--something to do with
the habit of mind to which such speaking would come naturally. In
contrast with the ceaseless prattle of Athens, Lacedaemonian assemblies
lasted as short a time as possible, all standing. A [223]
Lacedaemonian ambassador being asked in whose name he was come,
replies: "In the name of the State, if I succeed; if I fail, in my
own." What they lost in extension they gained in depth.

Had our traveller been tempted to ask a young Lacedaemonian to return
his visit at Athens, permission would have been refused him. He
belonged to a community bent above all things on keeping indelibly its
own proper colour. Its more strictly mental education centered, in
fact, upon a faithful training of the memory, again in the spirit of
Pythagoras, in regard to what seemed best worth remembering. Hard and
practical as Lacedaemonians might seem, they lived nevertheless very
much by imagination; and to train the memory, to preoccupy their minds
with the past, as in our own classic or historic culture of youth, was
in reality to develope a vigorous imagination. In music (mousikÍ)+ as
they conceived it, there would be no strictly selfish reading, writing
or listening; and if there was little a Lacedaemonian lad had to read
or write at all, he had much to learn, like a true conservative, by
heart: those unwritten laws of which the Council of Elders was the
authorised depositary, and on which the whole public procedure of the
state depended; the archaic forms of religious worship; the names of
their kings, of victors in their games or in battle; the brief record
of great events; the oracles they had received; the rhetrai, from [224]
Lycurgus downwards, composed in metrical Lacedaemonian Greek; their
history and law, in short, actually set to music, by Terpander and
others, as was said. What the Lacedaemonian learned by heart he was
for the most part to sing, and we catch a glimpse, an echo, of their
boys in school chanting; one of the things in old Greece one would have
liked best to see and hear--youthful beauty and strength in perfect
service--a manifestation of the true and genuine Hellenism, though it
may make one think of the novices at school in some Gothic cloister, of
our own old English schools, nay, of the young Lacedaemonian's cousins
at Sion, singing there the law and its praises.

The Platonic student of the ways of the Lacedaemonians observes then,
is interested in observing, that their education, which indeed makes no
sharp distinction between mental and bodily exercise, results as it had
begun in "music"--ends with body, mind, memory above all, at their
finest, on great show-days, in the dance. Austere, self-denying
Lacedaemon had in fact one of the largest theatres in Greece, in part
scooped out boldly on the hill-side, built partly of enormous blocks of
stone, the foundations of which may still be seen. We read what Plato
says in The Republic of "imitations," of the imitative arts, imitation
reaching of course its largest development on the stage, and are
perhaps surprised at the importance he assigns, in every department of
[225] human culture, to a matter of that kind. But here as elsewhere
to see was to understand. We should have understood Plato's drift in
his long criticism and defence of imitative art, his careful system of
rules concerning it, could we have seen the famous dramatic
Lacedaemonian dancing. They danced a theme, a subject. A complex and
elaborate art this must necessarily have been, but, as we may gather,
as concise, direct, economically expressive, in all its varied sound
and motion, as those swift, lightly girt, impromptu Lacedaemonian
sayings. With no movement of voice or hand or foot, paraleipomenon,+
unconsidered, as Plato forbids, it was the perfect flower of their
correction, of that minute patience and care which ends in a perfect
expressiveness; not a note, a glance, a touch, but told obediently in
the promotion of a firmly grasped mental conception, as in that perfect
poetry or sculpture or painting, in which "the finger of the master is
on every part of his work." We have nothing really like it, and to
comprehend it must remember that, though it took place in part at least
on the stage of a theatre--was in fact a ballet-dance, it had also the
character both of a liturgical service and of a military inspection;
and yet, in spite of its severity of rule, was a natural expression of
the delight of all who took part in it.

So perfect a spectacle the gods themselves might be thought pleased to
witness; were in [226] consequence presented with it as an important
element in the religious worship of the Lacedaemonians, in whose life
religion had even a larger part than with the other Greeks,
conspicuously religious, deisidaimones,+ involved in religion or
superstition, as the Greeks generally were. More closely even than
their so scrupulous neighbours they associated the state, its acts and
officers, with a religious sanction, religious usages, theories,
traditions. While the responsibilities of secular government lay upon
the Ephors, those mysteriously dual, at first sight useless, and yet so
sanctimoniously observed kings, "of the house of Heracles," with
something of the splendour of the old Achaean or Homeric kings, in life
as also in death, the splendid funerals, the passionate archaic laments
which then followed them, were in fact of spiritual or priestly rank,
the living and active centre of a poetic religious system, binding them
"in a beneficent connexion" to the past, and in the present with
special closeness to the oracle of Delphi.

Of that catholic or general centre of Greek religion the Lacedaemonians
were the hereditary and privileged guardians, as also the peculiar
people of Apollo, the god of Delphi; but, observe! of Apollo in a
peculiar development of his deity. In the dramatic business of
Lacedaemon, centering in these almost liturgical dances, there was
little comic acting. The fondness of the slaves for buffoonery and
loud [227] laughter, was to their master, who had no taste for the
like, a reassuring note of his superiority. He therefore indulged them
in it on occasion, and you might fancy that the religion of a people so
strenuous, ever so full of their dignity, must have been a religion of
gloom. It was otherwise. The Lacedaemonians, like those monastic
persons of whom they so often remind one, as a matter of fact however
surprising, were a very cheerful people; and the religion of which they
had so much, deeply imbued everywhere with an optimism as of hopeful
youth, encouraged that disposition, was above all a religion of sanity.
The observant Platonic visitor might have taken note that something of
that purgation of religious thought and sentiment, of its expression in
literature, recommended in Plato's Republic, had been already quietly
effected here, towards the establishment of a kind of cheerful daylight
in men's tempers.

In furtherance then of such a religion of sanity, of that harmony of
functions, which is the Aristotelian definition of health, Apollo,
sanest of the national gods, became also the tribal or home god of
Lacedaemon. That common Greek worship of Apollo they made especially
their own, but (just here is the noticeable point) with a marked
preference for the human element in him, for the mental powers of his
being over those elemental or physical forces of production, which he
also mystically represents, and which resulted [228] sometimes in an
orgiastic, an unintellectual, or even an immoral service. He remains
youthful and unmarried. In congruity with this, it is observed that,
in a quasi-Roman worship, abstract qualities and relationships, ideals,
become subsidiary objects of religious consideration around him, such
as sleep, death, fear, fortune, laughter even. Nay, other gods also
are, so to speak, Apollinised, adapted to the Apolline presence;
Aphrodite armed, Enyalius in fetters, perhaps that he may never depart
thence. Amateurs everywhere of the virile element in life, the
Lacedaemonians, in truth, impart to all things an intellectual
character. Adding a vigorous logic to seemingly animal instincts, for
them courage itself becomes, as for the strictly philosophic mind at
Athens, with Plato and Aristotle, an intellectual condition, a form of
right knowledge.

Such assertion of the consciously human interest in a religion based
originally on a preoccupation with the unconscious forces of nature,
was exemplified in the great religious festival of Lacedaemon. As a
spectator of the Hyacinthia, our Platonic student would have found
himself one of a large body of strangers, gathered together from
Lacedaemon and its dependent towns and villages, within the ancient
precincts of Amyclae, at the season between spring and summer when
under the first fierce heat of the year the abundant hyacinths fade
from the fields. Blue flowers, [229] you remember, are the rarest, to
many eyes the loveliest; and the Lacedaemonians with their guests were
met together to celebrate the death of the hapless lad who had lent his
name to them, Hyacinthus, son of Apollo, or son of an ancient mortal
king who had reigned in this very place; in either case, greatly
beloved of the god, who had slain him by sad accident as they played at
quoits together delightfully, to his immense sorrow. That Boreas (the
north-wind) had maliciously miscarried the discus, is a circumstance we
hardly need to remind us that we have here, of course, only one of many
transparent, unmistakable, parables or symbols of the great solar
change, so sudden in the south, like the story of Proserpine, Adonis,
and the like. But here, more completely perhaps than in any other of
those stories, the primary elemental sense had obscured itself behind
its really tragic analogue in human life, behind the figure of the
dying youth. We know little of the details of the feast; incidentally,
that Apollo was vested on the occasion in a purple robe, brought in
ceremony from Lacedaemon, woven there, Pausanias tells us, in a certain
house called from that circumstance Chiton.+ You may remember how
sparing these Lacedaemonians were of such dyed raiment, of any but the
natural and virgin colouring of the fleece; that purple or red,
however, was the colour of their royal funerals, as indeed Amyclae
itself was famous for purple stuffs--Amyclaeae vestes. As [230] the
general order of the feast, we discern clearly a single day of somewhat
shrill gaiety, between two days of significant mourning after the
manner of All Souls' Day, directed from mimic grief for a mythic
object, to a really sorrowful commemoration by the whole Lacedaemonian
people--each separate family for its own deceased members.

It was so again with those other youthful demi-gods, the Dioscuri,
themselves also, in old heroic time, resident in this venerable place:
Amyclaei fratres, fraternal leaders of the Lacedaemonian people. Their
statues at this date were numerous in Laconia, or the docana, primitive
symbols of them, those two upright beams of wood, carried to battle
before the two kings, until it happened that through their secret
enmity a certain battle was lost, after which one king only proceeded
to the field, and one part only of that token of fraternity, the other
remaining at Sparta. Well! they were two stars, you know, at their
original birth in men's minds, Gemini, virginal fresh stars of dawn,
rising and setting alternately--those two half-earthly, half-celestial
brothers, one of whom, Polydeuces, was immortal. The other, Castor,
the younger, subject to old age and death, had fallen in battle, was
found breathing his last. Polydeuces thereupon, at his own prayer, was
permitted to die: with undying fraternal affection, had forgone one
moiety of his privilege, and lay in the grave for a day in his [231]
brother's stead, but shone out again on the morrow; the brothers thus
ever coming and going, interchangeably, but both alike gifted now with
immortal youth.

In their origin, then, very obviously elemental deities, they were thus
become almost wholly humanised, fraternised with the Lacedaemonian
people, their closest friends of the whole celestial company, visitors,
as fond legend told, at their very hearths, found warming themselves in
the half-light at their rude fire-sides. Themselves thus visible on
occasion, at all times in devout art, they were the starry patrons of
all that youth was proud of, delighted in, horsemanship, games, battle;
and always with that profound fraternal sentiment. Brothers, comrades,
who could not live without each other, they were the most fitting
patrons of a place in which friendship, comradeship, like theirs, came
to so much. Lovers of youth they remained, those enstarred types of
it, arrested thus at that moment of miraculous good fortune as a
consecration of the clean, youthful friendship, "passing even the love
of woman," which, by system, and under the sanction of their founder's
name, elaborated into a kind of art, became an elementary part of
education. A part of their duty and discipline, it was also their
great solace and encouragement. The beloved and the lover, side by

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