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The Memorabilia by Xenophon

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Euth. That is my opinion.[24]

[24] Cf. Plat. "Theaet." 145 D. N.B.--For this definition of wisdom
see K. Joel, ib. p. 324 foll.

Soc. Well! come now, Euthydemus, as concerning the good: ought we to
search for the good in this way?

What way? (he asked).

Soc. Does it seem to you that the same thing is equally advantageous
to all?

No, I should say not (he answered).

Soc. You would say that a thing which is beneficial to one is
sometimes hurtful to another?

Decidedly (he replied).

Soc. And is there anything else good except that which is beneficial,
should you say?[25]

[25] Or reading (1) {allo d' an ti phaies e agathon einai to
ophelimon}; or else (2) {allo d' an ti phaies agathon einai to
ophelimon}; (in which case {alloti} = {allo ti e};) translate (1)
"and what is beneficial is good (or a good), should you not say?"
lit. "could you say that the beneficial is anything else than good
(or a good)?" or else (2) "and what is beneficial is good (or a
good)? or is it anything else?"

Nothing else (he answered).

Soc. It would seem to follow that the beneficial is good relatively to
him to whom it is beneficial?

That is how it appears to me (he answered).

Soc. And the beautiful: can we speak of a thing as beautiful in any
other way than relatively? or can you name any beautiful thing, body,
vessel, or whatever it be, which you know of as universally

[26] i.e. "beautiful in all relations into which it enters." Reading
{to de kalon ekhoimen an pos allos eipein e estin onomazein kalon
e soma e skeuos e all' otioun, o oistha pros tanta kalon on; Ma
Di', ouk egog', ephe}. For other emendations of the vulg., and the
many interpretations which have been given to the passage, see R.
Kuhner ad loc.

Euth. I confess I do not know of any such myself.[27]

[27] Or, adopting the reading {ekhois an} in place of {ekhoimen an}
above, translate "I certainly cannot, I confess."

Soc. I presume to turn a thing to its proper use is to apply it

Euth. Undoubtedly it is a beautiful appliance.[28]

[28] Or, "I presume it is well and good and beautiful to use this,
that, and the other thing for the purpose for which the particular
thing is useful?"--"That nobody can deny (he answered)." It is
impossible to convey simply the verbal play and the quasi-
argumentative force of the Greek {kalos ekhei pros ti tini
khresthai}. See K. Joel, p. 426.

Soc. And is this, that, and the other thing beautiful for aught else
except that to which it may be beautifully applied?

Euth. No single thing else.

Soc. It would seem that the useful is beautiful relatively to that for
which it is of use?

So it appears to me (he answered).

Soc. And what of courage,[29] Euthydemus? I presume you rank courage
among things beautiful? It is a noble quality?[30]

[29] Or, perhaps better, "fortitude." See H. Sidgwick, "Hist. of
Ethics," p. 43.

[30] It is one of {ta kala}. See K. Joel, ib. p. 325, and in reference
to the definitions of the Good and of the Beautiful, ib. p. 425

Nay, one of the most noble (he answered).

Soc. It seems that you regard courage as useful to no mean end?

Euth. Nay, rather the greatest of all ends, God knows.

Soc. Possibly in face of terrors and dangers you would consider it an
advantage to be ignorant of them?

Certainly not (he answered).

Soc. It seems that those who have no fear in face of dangers, simply
because they do not know what they are, are not courageous?

Most true (he answered); or, by the same showing, a large proportion
of madmen and cowards would be courageous.

Soc. Well, and what of those who are in dread of things which are not
dreadful, are they--

Euth. Courageous, Socrates?--still less so than the former, goodness

Soc. Possibly, then, you would deem those who are good in the face of
terrors and dangers to be courageous, and those who are bad in the
face of the same to be cowards?

Certainly I should (he answered).

Soc. And can you suppose any other people to be good in respect of
such things except those who are able to cope with them and turn them
to noble account?[31]

[31] {kalos khresthai}, lit. "make a beautiful use of them."

No; these and these alone (he answered).

Soc. And those people who are of a kind to cope but badly with the
same occurrences, it would seem, are bad?

Who else, if not they? (he asked).

Soc. May it be that both one and the other class do use these
circumstances as they think they must and should?[32]

[32] Or, "feel bound and constrained to do."

Why, how else should they deal with them? (he asked).

Soc. Can it be said that those who are unable to cope well with them
or to turn them to noble account know how they must and should deal
with them?[33]

[33] Or, "Can it be said that those who are unable to cope nobly with
their perilous surroundings know how they ought to deal with

I presume not (he answered).

Soc. It would seem to follow that those who have the knowledge how to
behave are also those who have the power?[34]

[34] "He who kens can."

Yes; these, and these alone (he said).

Soc. Well, but now, what of those who have made no egregious blunder
(in the matter); can it be they cope ill with the things and
circumstances we are discussing?

I think not (he answered).

Soc. It would seem, conversely, that they who cope ill have made some
egregious blunder?

Euth. Probably; indeed, it would appear to follow.

Soc. It would seem, then, that those who know[35] how to cope with
terrors and dangers well and nobly are courageous, and those who fail
utterly of this are cowards?

[35] "Who have the {episteme}."

So I judge them to be (he answered).[36]

[36] N.B.--For this definition of courage see Plat. "Laches," 195 A
and passim; K. Joel, op. cit. p. 325 foll.

A kingdom and a tyrrany[37] were, he opined, both of them forms of
government, but forms which differed from one another, in his belief;
a kingdom was a government over willing men in accordance with civil
law, whereas a tyranny implied the government over unwilling subjects
not according to law, but so as to suit the whims and wishes of the

[37] Or, "despotism."

There were, moreover, three forms of citizenship or polity; in the
case where the magistrates were appointed from those who discharged
the obligations prescribed by law, he held the polity to be an
aristocracy (or rule of the best);[38] where the title to office
depended on rateable property, it was a plutocracy (or rule of
wealth); and lastly, where all the citizens without distinction held
the reins of office, that was a democracy (or rule of the people).

[38] Or, "in which the due discharge of lawful (law-appointed)
obligations gave the title to magisterial office and government,
this form of polity he held to be an aristocracy (or rule of the
best)." See Newman, op. cit. i. 212, 235.

Let me explain his method of reply where the disputant had no clear
statement to make, but without attempt at proof chose to contend that
such or such a person named by himself was wiser, or more of a
statesman, or more courageous, and so forth, than some other
person.[39] Socrates had a way of bringing the whole discussion back
to the underlying proposition,[40] as thus:

[39] Or, "if any one encountered him in argument about any topic or
person without any clear statement, but a mere ipse dixit, devoid
of demonstration, that so and so," etc.

[40] Or, "question at bottom." Cf. Plat. "Laws," 949 B.

Soc. You state that so and so, whom you admire, is a better citizen
that this other whom I admire?

The Disputant. Yes; I repeat the assertion.

Soc. But would it not have been better to inquire first what is the
work or function of a good citizen?

The Disputant. Let us do so.

Soc. To begin, then, with the matter of expenditure: his superiority
will be shown by his increasing the resources and lightening the
expenditure of the state?[41]

[41] Or, "In the management of moneys, then, his strength will consist
in his rendering the state better provided with ways and means?"

Certainly (the disputant would answer).

Soc. And in the event of war, by rendering his state superior to her

The Disputant. Clearly.

Soc. Or on an embassy as a diplomatist, I presume, by securing friends
in place of enemies?

That I should imagine (replies the disputant).

Soc. Well, and in parliamentary debate, by putting a stop to party
strife and fostering civic concord?

The Disputant. That is my opinion.

By this method of bringing back the argument to its true starting-
point, even the disputant himself would be affected and the truth
become manifest to his mind.

His own--that is, the Socratic--method of conducting a rational
discussion[42] was to proceed step by step from one point of general
agreement to another: "Herein lay the real security of reasoning,"[43]
he would say; and for this reason he was more successful in winning
the common assent of his hearers than any one I ever knew. He had a
saying that Homer had conferred on Odyesseus the title of a safe,
unerring orator,[44] because he had the gift to lead the discussion
from one commonly accepted opinion to another.

[42] Of, "of threading the mazes of an argument."

[43] Reading {tauton asphaleian}; aliter. {tauten ten asphaleian} =
"that this security was part and parcel of reasoning."

[44] "Od." viii. 171, {o d' asphaleos agoreuei}, "and his speech runs
surely on its way" (Butcher and Lang), where Odysseus is
describing himself. Cf. Dion. Hal. "de Arte Rhet." xi. 8.


The frankness and simplicity with which Socrates endeavoured to
declare his own opinions, in dealing with those who conversed with
him,[1] is, I think, conclusively proved by the above instances; at
the same time, as I hope now to show, he was no less eager to
cultivate a spirit of independence in others, which would enable them
to stand alone in all transactions suited to their powers.

[1] Or, "who frequented his society, is, I hope, clear from what has
been said."

Of all the men I have ever known, he was most anxious to ascertain in
what any of those about him was really versed; and within the range of
his own knowledge he showed the greatest zeal in teaching everything
which it befits the true gentleman[2] to know; or where he was
deficient in knowledge himself,[3] he would introduce his friends to
those who knew.[4] He did not fail to teach them also up to what point
it was proper for an educated man to acquire empiric knowledge of any
particular matter.[5]

[2] Lit. "a beautiful and good man."

[3] Or, "where he lacked acquaintance with the matter himself." See,
for an instance, "Econ." iii. 14.

[4] "To those who had the special knowledge"; "a connoisseur in the

[5] Or, "of any particular branch of learning"; "in each department of

To take geometry as an instance: Every one (he would say) ought to be
taught geometry so far, at any rate, as to be able, if necessary, to
take over or part with a piece of land, or to divide it up or assign a
portion of it for cultivation,[6] and in every case by geometric
rule.[7] That amount of geometry was so simple indeed, and easy to
learn, that it only needed ordinary application of the mind to the
method of mensuration, and the student could at once ascertain the
size of the piece of land, and, with the satisfaction of knowing its
measurement, depart in peace. But he was unable to approve of the
pursuit of geometry up to the point at which it became a study of
unintelligible diagrams.[8] What the use of these might be, he failed,
he said, to see; and yet he was not unversed in these recondite
matters himself.[9] These things, he would say, were enough to wear
out a man's life, and to hinder him from many other more useful

[6] {e ergon apodeixasthai}, or "and to explain the process." Cf.
Plat. "Rep." vii. 528 D. See R. Kuhner ad loc. for other
interpretations of the phrase. Cf. Max. Tyr. xxxvii. 7.

[7] Or, "by correct measurement"; lit. "by measurement of the earth."

[8] Cf. Aristot. "Pol." v. (viii.) 2; Cic. "Acad. Post." I. iv. 15.
For the attitude compare the attitude of a philosopher in other
respects most unlike Socrates--August Comte, e.g. as to the
futility of sidereal astronomy, "Pos. Pol." i. 412 (Bridges).

[9] Cf. Isocr. "On the Antidosis," 258-269, as to the true place of
"Eristic" in education. See above, IV. ii. 10.

[10] Cf. A. Comte as to "perte intellectuelle" in the pursuit of
barren studies.

Again, a certain practical knowledge of astronomy, a certain skill in
the study of the stars, he strongly insisted on. Every one should know
enough of the science to be able to discover the hour of the night or
the season of the month or year, for the purposes of travel by land or
sea--the march, the voyage, and the regulations of the watch;[11] and
in general, with regard to all matters connected with the night
season, or with the month, or the year,[12] it was well to have such
reliable data to go upon as would serve to distinguish the various
times and seasons. But these, again, were pieces of knowledge easily
learnt from night sportsmen,[13] pilots of vessels, and many others
who make it their business to know such things. As to pushing the
study of astronomy so far as to include a knowledge of the movements
of bodies outside our own orbit, whether planets or stars of eccentric
movement,[14] or wearing oneself out endeavouring to discover their
distances from the earth, their periods, and their causes,[15] all
this he strongly discountenanced; for he saw (he said) no advantage in
these any more than in the former studies. And yet he was not
unversed[16] in the subtleties of astronomy any more than in those of
geometry; only these, again, he insisted, were sufficient to wear out
a man's lifetime, and to keep him away from many more useful pursuits.

[11] Schneid. cf. Plat. "Rep." vii. 527 D.

[12] "Occurrences connected with the night, the month, or year." e.g.
the festival of the Karneia, the {tekmerion} (point de repere) of
which is the full moon of August. Cf. Eur. "Alc." 449.

[13] See Plat. "Soph." 220 D; above, III. xi. 8; "Cyrop." I. vi. 40;
"Hunting," xii. 6; Hippocr. "Aer." 28.

[14] See Lewis, "Astron. of the Ancients"; cf. Diog. Laert. vii. 1.

[15] Or, "the causes of these."

[16] {oude touton ge anekoos en}. He had "heard," it is said,
Archelaus, a pupil of Anaxagoras. Cf. Cic. "Tusc." V. iv. 10.

And to speak generally, in regard of things celestial he set his face
against attempts to excogitate the machinery by which the divine power
formed its several operations.[17] Not only were these matters beyond
man's faculties to discover, as he believed, but the attempt to search
out what the gods had not chosen to reveal could hardly (he supposed)
be well pleasing in their sight. Indeed, the man who tortured his
brains about such subjects stood a fair chance of losing his wits
entirely, just as Anaxagoras,[18] the headiest speculator of them all,
in his attempt to explain the divine mechanism, had somewhat lost his
head. Anaxagoras took on himself to assert that sun and fire are
identical,[19] ignoring the fact that human beings can easily look at
fire, but to gaze steadily into the face of the sun is given to no
man; or that under the influence of his rays the colour of the skin
changes, but under the rays of fire not.[20] He forgot that no plant
or vegetation springs from earth's bosom with healthy growth without
the help of sunlight, whilst the influence of fire is to parch up
everything, and to destroy life; and when he came to speak of the sun
as being a "red-hot stone" he ignored another fact, that a stone in
fire neither lights up nor lasts, whereas the sun-god abides for ever
with intensest brilliancy undimmed.

[17] Or, "he tried to divert one from becoming overly-wise in heavenly
matters and the 'mecanique celeste' of the Godhead in His several
operations." See above, I. i. 11. See Grote, "Plato," i. 438.

[18] Of Clazomenae. Cf. Plat. "Apol." 14; Diog. Laert. II. vi; Cic.
"Tusc." V. iv. 10; Cobet, "Prosop. Xen." s.n.; Grote, "H. G." i.

[19] Or, "that the sun was simply a fire, forgetting so simple a fact
as that."

[20] Or, "the complexion darkens, whereas fire has no such effect."

Socrates inculcated the study of reasoning processes,[21] but in
these, equally with the rest, he bade the student beware of vain and
idle over-occupation. Up to the limit set by utility, he was ready to
join in any investigation, and to follow out an argument with those
who were with him; but there he stopped. He particularly urged those
who were with him to pay the utmost attention to health. They would
learn all it was possible to learn from adepts, and not only so, but
each one individually should take pains to discover, by a lifelong
observation of his own case, what particular regimen, what meat or
drink, or what kind of work, best suited him; these he should turn to
account with a view to leading the healthiest possible life. It would
be no easy matter for any one who would follow this advice, and study
his own idiosyncrasy, to find a doctor to improve either on the
diagnosis or the treatment requisite.[22]

[21] {logismous} = (1) "arithmetic," (2) "calculation," (3)
"syllogistic reasoning." See L. Dind. "Index. Gr." s.v., and
Kuhner ad loc.; cf. Plat. "Gorg." 451 C. It is important to decide
which form of "logism" is meant here.

[22] Or, "to find a doctor better able than himself to 'diagnose' and
prescribe a treatment congenial to health." Cf. Tac. "Ann." vi.
46; Plut. "de San." 136 E, ap. Schneid. ad loc.

Where any one came seeking for help which no human wisdom could
supply, he would counsel him to give heed to "divination." He who has
the secret of the means whereby the gods give signs to men touching
their affairs can never surely find himself bereft of heavenly


Now if any one should be disposed to set the statement of Socrates
touching the divinity[1] which warned him what he ought to do or not
to do, against the fact that he was sentenced to death by the board of
judges, and argue that thereby Socrates stood convicted of lying and
delusion in respect of this "divinity" of his, I would have him to
note in the first place that, at the date of his trial, Socrates was
already so far advanced in years that had he not died then his life
would have reached its natural term soon afterwards; and secondly, as
matters went, he escaped life's bitterest load[2] in escaping those
years which bring a diminution of intellectual force to all--instead
of which he was called upon to exhibit the full robustness of his soul
and acquire glory in addition,[3] partly by the style of his defence--
felicitous alike in its truthfulness, its freedom, and its
rectitude[4]--and partly by the manner in which he bore the sentence
of condemnation with infinite gentleness and manliness. Since no one
within the memory of man, it is admitted, ever bowed his head to death
more nobly. After the sentence he must needs live for thirty days,
since it was the month of the "Delia,"[5] and the law does not suffer
any man to die by the hand of the public executioner until the sacred
embassy return from Delos. During the whole of that period (as his
acquaintances without exception can testify) his life proceeded as
usual. There was nothing to mark the difference between now and
formerly in the even tenour of its courage; and it was a life which at
all times had been a marvel of cheerfulness and calm content.[6]

[1] Or, "the words of Socrates with regard to a divine something which
warned him," etc.

[2] The phraseology is poetical.

[3] Or, "in a manner which redounded to his glory."

[4] Or, "marvellous alike for the sincerity of its language, the free
unbroken spirit of its delivery, and the absolute rectitude of the

[5] i.e. the lesser "Delian" solemnities, an annual festival
instituted, it was said, by Theseus. See Plut. "Theseus," 23
(Clough, i. 19); and for the whole matter see Plat. "Phaed." 58

[6] Cf. Arist. "Frogs," 82; of Sophocles, {o d' eukolos men enthad',
eukolos d' ekei}.

[Let us pause and ask how could man die more nobly and more
beautifully than in the way described? or put it thus: dying so, then
was his death most noble and most beautiful; and being the most
beautiful, then was it also the most fortunate and heaven-blest; and
being most blessed of heaven, then was it also most precious in the
sight of God.][7]

[7] This is bracketed as spurious by Sauppe and other commentators.
But see "Cyrop." VIII. ii. 7, 8, for similar ineptitude of style.
R. Kuhner defends the passage as genuine.

And now I will mention further certain things which I have heard from
Hermogenes, the son of Hipponicus,[8] concerning him. He said that
even after Meletus[9] had drawn up the indictment, he himself used to
hear Socrates conversing and discussing everything rather than the
suit impending, and had ventured to suggest that he ought to be
considering the line of his defence, to which, in the first instance,
the master answered: "Do I not seem to you to have been practising
that my whole life long?" And upon his asking "How?" added in
explanation that he had passed his days in nothing else save in
distinguishing between what is just and what is unjust (right and
wrong), and in doing what is right and abstaining from what is wrong;
"which conduct" (he added) "I hold to be the finest possible practice
for my defence"; and when he (Hermogenes), returning to the point
again, pleaded with Socrates: "Do you not see, Socrates, how commonly
it happens that an Athenian jury, under the influence of argument,
condemns innocent people to death and acquits real criminals?"--
Socrates replied, "I assure you, Hermogenes, that each time I have
essayed to give my thoughts to the defence which I am to make before
the court, the divinity[10] has opposed me." And when he (Hermogenes)
exclaimed, "How strange!"--"Do you find it strange" (he continued),
"that to the Godhead it should appear better for me to close my life
at once? Do you not know that up to the present moment there is no man
whom I can admit to have spent a better or happier life than mine.
Since theirs I regard as the best of lives who study best to become as
good as may be, and theirs the happiest who have the liveliest sense
of growth in goodness; and such, hitherto, is the happy fortune which
I perceive to have fallen to my lot. To such conclusion I have come,
not only in accidental intercourse with others, but by a strict
comparison drawn between myself and others, and in this faith I
continue to this day; and not I only, but my friends continue in a
like persuasion with regard to me, not for the lame reason that they
are my friends and love me (or else would others have been in like
case as regards their friends), but because they are persuaded that by
being with me they will attain to their full height of goodness. But,
if I am destined to prolong my days, maybe I shall be enforced to pay
in full the penalties of old age--to see and hear less keenly, to fail
in intellectual force, and to leave school, as it were, more of a
dunce than when I came, less learned and more forgetful--in a word, I
shall fall from my high estate, and daily grow worse in that wherein
aforetime I excelled. But indeed, were it possible to remain
unconscious of the change, the life left would scarcely be worth
living; but given that there is a consciousness of the change, then
must the existence left to live be found by comparison insipid,
joyless, a death in life, devoid of life's charm. But indeed, if it is
reserved for me to die unjustly, then on those who unjustly slay me
lies the shame [since, given injustice is base, how can any unjust
action whatsoever fail of baseness?][11] But for me what disgrace is
it that others should fail of a just decision and right acts
concerning me? . . . I see before me a long line of predecessors on
this road, and I mark the reputation also among posterity which they
have left.[12] I note how it varies according as they did or suffered
wrong, and for myself I know that I too, although I die to-day, shall
obtain from mankind a consideration far different from that which will
be accorded to those who put me to death. I know that undying witness
will be borne me to this effect, that I never at any time did wrong to
any man, or made him a worse man, but ever tried to make those better
who were with me."

[8] See above, II. x. 3; "Symp." i. 3; iii. 14; iv. 47 foll.; vi. 2;
"Apol." 2; Plat. "Crat." 384.

[9] See above, I. i. 1.

[10] {to daimonion}--"the divine (voice)."

[11] This passage also may, perhaps, be regarded as spurious.

[12] Or, "There floats before my eyes a vision of the many who have
gone this same gate. I note their legacies of fame among

Such are the words which he spoke in conversation with Hermogenes and
the rest. But amongst those who knew Socrates and recognised what
manner of man he was, all who make virtue and perfection their pursuit
still to this day cease not to lament his loss with bitterest regret,
as for one who helped them in the pursuit of virtue as none else

To me, personally, he was what I have myself endeavoured to describe:
so pious and devoutly religious[13] that he would take no step apart
from the will of heaven; so just and upright that he never did even a
trifling injury to any living soul; so self-controlled, so temperate,
that he never at any time chose the sweeter in place of the better; so
sensible, and wise, and prudent that in distinguishing the better from
the worse he never erred; nor had he need of any helper, but for the
knowledge of these matters, his judgment was at once infallible and
self-sufficing. Capable of reasonably setting forth and defining moral
questions,[14] he was also able to test others, and where they erred,
to cross-examine and convict them, and so to impel and guide them in
the path of virtue and noble manhood. With these characteristics, he
seemed to be the very impersonation of human perfection and

[13] Or, "of such piety and religious devotedness . . . of such
rectitude . . . of such sobreity and self-control . . . of such
sound sense and wisdom . . ."

[14] Or, "gifted with an ability logically to set forth and to define
moral subtleties."

[15] Or, "I look upon him as at once the best and happiest of men."

Such is our estimate. If the verdict fail to satisfy I would ask those
who disagree with it to place the character of any other side by side
with this delineation, and then pass sentence.

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