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Gorgias by Plato

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SOCRATES: That is, he lives worst who commits the greatest crimes, and
who, being the most unjust of men, succeeds in escaping rebuke or
correction or punishment; and this, as you say, has been accomplished by
Archelaus and other tyrants and rhetoricians and potentates? (Compare

POLUS: True.

SOCRATES: May not their way of proceeding, my friend, be compared to the
conduct of a person who is afflicted with the worst of diseases and yet
contrives not to pay the penalty to the physician for his sins against his
constitution, and will not be cured, because, like a child, he is afraid of
the pain of being burned or cut:--Is not that a parallel case?

POLUS: Yes, truly.

SOCRATES: He would seem as if he did not know the nature of health and
bodily vigour; and if we are right, Polus, in our previous conclusions,
they are in a like case who strive to evade justice, which they see to be
painful, but are blind to the advantage which ensues from it, not knowing
how far more miserable a companion a diseased soul is than a diseased body;
a soul, I say, which is corrupt and unrighteous and unholy. And hence they
do all that they can to avoid punishment and to avoid being released from
the greatest of evils; they provide themselves with money and friends, and
cultivate to the utmost their powers of persuasion. But if we, Polus, are
right, do you see what follows, or shall we draw out the consequences in

POLUS: If you please.

SOCRATES: Is it not a fact that injustice, and the doing of injustice, is
the greatest of evils?

POLUS: That is quite clear.

SOCRATES: And further, that to suffer punishment is the way to be released
from this evil?

POLUS: True.

SOCRATES: And not to suffer, is to perpetuate the evil?


SOCRATES: To do wrong, then, is second only in the scale of evils; but to
do wrong and not to be punished, is first and greatest of all?

POLUS: That is true.

SOCRATES: Well, and was not this the point in dispute, my friend? You
deemed Archelaus happy, because he was a very great criminal and
unpunished: I, on the other hand, maintained that he or any other who like
him has done wrong and has not been punished, is, and ought to be, the most
miserable of all men; and that the doer of injustice is more miserable than
the sufferer; and he who escapes punishment, more miserable than he who
suffers.--Was not that what I said?


SOCRATES: And it has been proved to be true?

POLUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Well, Polus, but if this is true, where is the great use of
rhetoric? If we admit what has been just now said, every man ought in
every way to guard himself against doing wrong, for he will thereby suffer
great evil?

POLUS: True.

SOCRATES: And if he, or any one about whom he cares, does wrong, he ought
of his own accord to go where he will be immediately punished; he will run
to the judge, as he would to the physician, in order that the disease of
injustice may not be rendered chronic and become the incurable cancer of
the soul; must we not allow this consequence, Polus, if our former
admissions are to stand:--is any other inference consistent with them?

POLUS: To that, Socrates, there can be but one answer.

SOCRATES: Then rhetoric is of no use to us, Polus, in helping a man to
excuse his own injustice, that of his parents or friends, or children or
country; but may be of use to any one who holds that instead of excusing he
ought to accuse--himself above all, and in the next degree his family or
any of his friends who may be doing wrong; he should bring to light the
iniquity and not conceal it, that so the wrong-doer may suffer and be made
whole; and he should even force himself and others not to shrink, but with
closed eyes like brave men to let the physician operate with knife or
searing iron, not regarding the pain, in the hope of attaining the good and
the honourable; let him who has done things worthy of stripes, allow
himself to be scourged, if of bonds, to be bound, if of a fine, to be
fined, if of exile, to be exiled, if of death, to die, himself being the
first to accuse himself and his own relations, and using rhetoric to this
end, that his and their unjust actions may be made manifest, and that they
themselves may be delivered from injustice, which is the greatest evil.
Then, Polus, rhetoric would indeed be useful. Do you say 'Yes' or 'No' to

POLUS: To me, Socrates, what you are saying appears very strange, though
probably in agreement with your premises.

SOCRATES: Is not this the conclusion, if the premises are not disproven?

POLUS: Yes; it certainly is.

SOCRATES: And from the opposite point of view, if indeed it be our duty to
harm another, whether an enemy or not--I except the case of self-defence--
then I have to be upon my guard--but if my enemy injures a third person,
then in every sort of way, by word as well as deed, I should try to prevent
his being punished, or appearing before the judge; and if he appears, I
should contrive that he should escape, and not suffer punishment: if he
has stolen a sum of money, let him keep what he has stolen and spend it on
him and his, regardless of religion and justice; and if he have done things
worthy of death, let him not die, but rather be immortal in his wickedness;
or, if this is not possible, let him at any rate be allowed to live as long
as he can. For such purposes, Polus, rhetoric may be useful, but is of
small if of any use to him who is not intending to commit injustice; at
least, there was no such use discovered by us in the previous discussion.

CALLICLES: Tell me, Chaerephon, is Socrates in earnest, or is he joking?

CHAEREPHON: I should say, Callicles, that he is in most profound earnest;
but you may well ask him.

CALLICLES: By the gods, and I will. Tell me, Socrates, are you in
earnest, or only in jest? For if you are in earnest, and what you say is
true, is not the whole of human life turned upside down; and are we not
doing, as would appear, in everything the opposite of what we ought to be

SOCRATES: O Callicles, if there were not some community of feelings among
mankind, however varying in different persons--I mean to say, if every
man's feelings were peculiar to himself and were not shared by the rest of
his species--I do not see how we could ever communicate our impressions to
one another. I make this remark because I perceive that you and I have a
common feeling. For we are lovers both, and both of us have two loves
apiece:--I am the lover of Alcibiades, the son of Cleinias, and of
philosophy; and you of the Athenian Demus, and of Demus the son of
Pyrilampes. Now, I observe that you, with all your cleverness, do not
venture to contradict your favourite in any word or opinion of his; but as
he changes you change, backwards and forwards. When the Athenian Demus
denies anything that you are saying in the assembly, you go over to his
opinion; and you do the same with Demus, the fair young son of Pyrilampes.
For you have not the power to resist the words and ideas of your loves; and
if a person were to express surprise at the strangeness of what you say
from time to time when under their influence, you would probably reply to
him, if you were honest, that you cannot help saying what your loves say
unless they are prevented; and that you can only be silent when they are.
Now you must understand that my words are an echo too, and therefore you
need not wonder at me; but if you want to silence me, silence philosophy,
who is my love, for she is always telling me what I am now telling you, my
friend; neither is she capricious like my other love, for the son of
Cleinias says one thing to-day and another thing to-morrow, but philosophy
is always true. She is the teacher at whose words you are now wondering,
and you have heard her yourself. Her you must refute, and either show, as
I was saying, that to do injustice and to escape punishment is not the
worst of all evils; or, if you leave her word unrefuted, by the dog the god
of Egypt, I declare, O Callicles, that Callicles will never be at one with
himself, but that his whole life will be a discord. And yet, my friend, I
would rather that my lyre should be inharmonious, and that there should be
no music in the chorus which I provided; aye, or that the whole world
should be at odds with me, and oppose me, rather than that I myself should
be at odds with myself, and contradict myself.

CALLICLES: O Socrates, you are a regular declaimer, and seem to be running
riot in the argument. And now you are declaiming in this way because Polus
has fallen into the same error himself of which he accused Gorgias:--for he
said that when Gorgias was asked by you, whether, if some one came to him
who wanted to learn rhetoric, and did not know justice, he would teach him
justice, Gorgias in his modesty replied that he would, because he thought
that mankind in general would be displeased if he answered 'No'; and then
in consequence of this admission, Gorgias was compelled to contradict
himself, that being just the sort of thing in which you delight. Whereupon
Polus laughed at you deservedly, as I think; but now he has himself fallen
into the same trap. I cannot say very much for his wit when he conceded to
you that to do is more dishonourable than to suffer injustice, for this was
the admission which led to his being entangled by you; and because he was
too modest to say what he thought, he had his mouth stopped. For the truth
is, Socrates, that you, who pretend to be engaged in the pursuit of truth,
are appealing now to the popular and vulgar notions of right, which are not
natural, but only conventional. Convention and nature are generally at
variance with one another: and hence, if a person is too modest to say
what he thinks, he is compelled to contradict himself; and you, in your
ingenuity perceiving the advantage to be thereby gained, slyly ask of him
who is arguing conventionally a question which is to be determined by the
rule of nature; and if he is talking of the rule of nature, you slip away
to custom: as, for instance, you did in this very discussion about doing
and suffering injustice. When Polus was speaking of the conventionally
dishonourable, you assailed him from the point of view of nature; for by
the rule of nature, to suffer injustice is the greater disgrace because the
greater evil; but conventionally, to do evil is the more disgraceful. For
the suffering of injustice is not the part of a man, but of a slave, who
indeed had better die than live; since when he is wronged and trampled
upon, he is unable to help himself, or any other about whom he cares. The
reason, as I conceive, is that the makers of laws are the majority who are
weak; and they make laws and distribute praises and censures with a view to
themselves and to their own interests; and they terrify the stronger sort
of men, and those who are able to get the better of them, in order that
they may not get the better of them; and they say, that dishonesty is
shameful and unjust; meaning, by the word injustice, the desire of a man to
have more than his neighbours; for knowing their own inferiority, I suspect
that they are too glad of equality. And therefore the endeavour to have
more than the many, is conventionally said to be shameful and unjust, and
is called injustice (compare Republic), whereas nature herself intimates
that it is just for the better to have more than the worse, the more
powerful than the weaker; and in many ways she shows, among men as well as
among animals, and indeed among whole cities and races, that justice
consists in the superior ruling over and having more than the inferior.
For on what principle of justice did Xerxes invade Hellas, or his father
the Scythians? (not to speak of numberless other examples). Nay, but these
are the men who act according to nature; yes, by Heaven, and according to
the law of nature: not, perhaps, according to that artificial law, which
we invent and impose upon our fellows, of whom we take the best and
strongest from their youth upwards, and tame them like young lions,--
charming them with the sound of the voice, and saying to them, that with
equality they must be content, and that the equal is the honourable and the
just. But if there were a man who had sufficient force, he would shake off
and break through, and escape from all this; he would trample under foot
all our formulas and spells and charms, and all our laws which are against
nature: the slave would rise in rebellion and be lord over us, and the
light of natural justice would shine forth. And this I take to be the
sentiment of Pindar, when he says in his poem, that

'Law is the king of all, of mortals as well as of immortals;'

this, as he says,

'Makes might to be right, doing violence with highest hand; as I infer from
the deeds of Heracles, for without buying them--' (Fragm. Incert. 151

--I do not remember the exact words, but the meaning is, that without
buying them, and without their being given to him, he carried off the oxen
of Geryon, according to the law of natural right, and that the oxen and
other possessions of the weaker and inferior properly belong to the
stronger and superior. And this is true, as you may ascertain, if you will
leave philosophy and go on to higher things: for philosophy, Socrates, if
pursued in moderation and at the proper age, is an elegant accomplishment,
but too much philosophy is the ruin of human life. Even if a man has good
parts, still, if he carries philosophy into later life, he is necessarily
ignorant of all those things which a gentleman and a person of honour ought
to know; he is inexperienced in the laws of the State, and in the language
which ought to be used in the dealings of man with man, whether private or
public, and utterly ignorant of the pleasures and desires of mankind and of
human character in general. And people of this sort, when they betake
themselves to politics or business, are as ridiculous as I imagine the
politicians to be, when they make their appearance in the arena of
philosophy. For, as Euripides says,

'Every man shines in that and pursues that, and devotes the greatest
portion of the day to that in which he most excels,' (Antiope, fragm. 20

but anything in which he is inferior, he avoids and depreciates, and
praises the opposite from partiality to himself, and because he thinks that
he will thus praise himself. The true principle is to unite them.
Philosophy, as a part of education, is an excellent thing, and there is no
disgrace to a man while he is young in pursuing such a study; but when he
is more advanced in years, the thing becomes ridiculous, and I feel towards
philosophers as I do towards those who lisp and imitate children. For I
love to see a little child, who is not of an age to speak plainly, lisping
at his play; there is an appearance of grace and freedom in his utterance,
which is natural to his childish years. But when I hear some small
creature carefully articulating its words, I am offended; the sound is
disagreeable, and has to my ears the twang of slavery. So when I hear a
man lisping, or see him playing like a child, his behaviour appears to me
ridiculous and unmanly and worthy of stripes. And I have the same feeling
about students of philosophy; when I see a youth thus engaged,--the study
appears to me to be in character, and becoming a man of liberal education,
and him who neglects philosophy I regard as an inferior man, who will never
aspire to anything great or noble. But if I see him continuing the study
in later life, and not leaving off, I should like to beat him, Socrates;
for, as I was saying, such a one, even though he have good natural parts,
becomes effeminate. He flies from the busy centre and the market-place, in
which, as the poet says, men become distinguished; he creeps into a corner
for the rest of his life, and talks in a whisper with three or four
admiring youths, but never speaks out like a freeman in a satisfactory
manner. Now I, Socrates, am very well inclined towards you, and my feeling
may be compared with that of Zethus towards Amphion, in the play of
Euripides, whom I was mentioning just now: for I am disposed to say to you
much what Zethus said to his brother, that you, Socrates, are careless
about the things of which you ought to be careful; and that you

'Who have a soul so noble, are remarkable for a puerile exterior;
Neither in a court of justice could you state a case, or give any reason or
Or offer valiant counsel on another's behalf.'

And you must not be offended, my dear Socrates, for I am speaking out of
good-will towards you, if I ask whether you are not ashamed of being thus
defenceless; which I affirm to be the condition not of you only but of all
those who will carry the study of philosophy too far. For suppose that
some one were to take you, or any one of your sort, off to prison,
declaring that you had done wrong when you had done no wrong, you must
allow that you would not know what to do:--there you would stand giddy and
gaping, and not having a word to say; and when you went up before the
Court, even if the accuser were a poor creature and not good for much, you
would die if he were disposed to claim the penalty of death. And yet,
Socrates, what is the value of

'An art which converts a man of sense into a fool,'

who is helpless, and has no power to save either himself or others, when he
is in the greatest danger and is going to be despoiled by his enemies of
all his goods, and has to live, simply deprived of his rights of
citizenship?--he being a man who, if I may use the expression, may be boxed
on the ears with impunity. Then, my good friend, take my advice, and
refute no more:

'Learn the philosophy of business, and acquire the reputation of wisdom.
But leave to others these niceties,'

whether they are to be described as follies or absurdities:

'For they will only
Give you poverty for the inmate of your dwelling.'

Cease, then, emulating these paltry splitters of words, and emulate only
the man of substance and honour, who is well to do.

SOCRATES: If my soul, Callicles, were made of gold, should I not rejoice
to discover one of those stones with which they test gold, and the very
best possible one to which I might bring my soul; and if the stone and I
agreed in approving of her training, then I should know that I was in a
satisfactory state, and that no other test was needed by me.

CALLICLES: What is your meaning, Socrates?

SOCRATES: I will tell you; I think that I have found in you the desired


SOCRATES: Because I am sure that if you agree with me in any of the
opinions which my soul forms, I have at last found the truth indeed. For I
consider that if a man is to make a complete trial of the good or evil of
the soul, he ought to have three qualities--knowledge, good-will,
outspokenness, which are all possessed by you. Many whom I meet are unable
to make trial of me, because they are not wise as you are; others are wise,
but they will not tell me the truth, because they have not the same
interest in me which you have; and these two strangers, Gorgias and Polus,
are undoubtedly wise men and my very good friends, but they are not
outspoken enough, and they are too modest. Why, their modesty is so great
that they are driven to contradict themselves, first one and then the other
of them, in the face of a large company, on matters of the highest moment.
But you have all the qualities in which these others are deficient, having
received an excellent education; to this many Athenians can testify. And
you are my friend. Shall I tell you why I think so? I know that you,
Callicles, and Tisander of Aphidnae, and Andron the son of Androtion, and
Nausicydes of the deme of Cholarges, studied together: there were four of
you, and I once heard you advising with one another as to the extent to
which the pursuit of philosophy should be carried, and, as I know, you came
to the conclusion that the study should not be pushed too much into detail.
You were cautioning one another not to be overwise; you were afraid that
too much wisdom might unconsciously to yourselves be the ruin of you. And
now when I hear you giving the same advice to me which you then gave to
your most intimate friends, I have a sufficient evidence of your real good-
will to me. And of the frankness of your nature and freedom from modesty I
am assured by yourself, and the assurance is confirmed by your last speech.
Well then, the inference in the present case clearly is, that if you agree
with me in an argument about any point, that point will have been
sufficiently tested by us, and will not require to be submitted to any
further test. For you could not have agreed with me, either from lack of
knowledge or from superfluity of modesty, nor yet from a desire to deceive
me, for you are my friend, as you tell me yourself. And therefore when you
and I are agreed, the result will be the attainment of perfect truth. Now
there is no nobler enquiry, Callicles, than that which you censure me for
making,--What ought the character of a man to be, and what his pursuits,
and how far is he to go, both in maturer years and in youth? For be
assured that if I err in my own conduct I do not err intentionally, but
from ignorance. Do not then desist from advising me, now that you have
begun, until I have learned clearly what this is which I am to practise,
and how I may acquire it. And if you find me assenting to your words, and
hereafter not doing that to which I assented, call me 'dolt,' and deem me
unworthy of receiving further instruction. Once more, then, tell me what
you and Pindar mean by natural justice: Do you not mean that the superior
should take the property of the inferior by force; that the better should
rule the worse, the noble have more than the mean? Am I not right in my

CALLICLES: Yes; that is what I was saying, and so I still aver.

SOCRATES: And do you mean by the better the same as the superior? for I
could not make out what you were saying at the time--whether you meant by
the superior the stronger, and that the weaker must obey the stronger, as
you seemed to imply when you said that great cities attack small ones in
accordance with natural right, because they are superior and stronger, as
though the superior and stronger and better were the same; or whether the
better may be also the inferior and weaker, and the superior the worse, or
whether better is to be defined in the same way as superior:--this is the
point which I want to have cleared up. Are the superior and better and
stronger the same or different?

CALLICLES: I say unequivocally that they are the same.

SOCRATES: Then the many are by nature superior to the one, against whom,
as you were saying, they make the laws?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then the laws of the many are the laws of the superior?

CALLICLES: Very true.

SOCRATES: Then they are the laws of the better; for the superior class are
far better, as you were saying?


SOCRATES: And since they are superior, the laws which are made by them are
by nature good?


SOCRATES: And are not the many of opinion, as you were lately saying, that
justice is equality, and that to do is more disgraceful than to suffer
injustice?--is that so or not? Answer, Callicles, and let no modesty be
found to come in the way; do the many think, or do they not think thus?--I
must beg of you to answer, in order that if you agree with me I may fortify
myself by the assent of so competent an authority.

CALLICLES: Yes; the opinion of the many is what you say.

SOCRATES: Then not only custom but nature also affirms that to do is more
disgraceful than to suffer injustice, and that justice is equality; so that
you seem to have been wrong in your former assertion, when accusing me you
said that nature and custom are opposed, and that I, knowing this, was
dishonestly playing between them, appealing to custom when the argument is
about nature, and to nature when the argument is about custom?

CALLICLES: This man will never cease talking nonsense. At your age,
Socrates, are you not ashamed to be catching at words and chuckling over
some verbal slip? do you not see--have I not told you already, that by
superior I mean better: do you imagine me to say, that if a rabble of
slaves and nondescripts, who are of no use except perhaps for their
physical strength, get together, their ipsissima verba are laws?

SOCRATES: Ho! my philosopher, is that your line?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: I was thinking, Callicles, that something of the kind must have
been in your mind, and that is why I repeated the question,--What is the
superior? I wanted to know clearly what you meant; for you surely do not
think that two men are better than one, or that your slaves are better than
you because they are stronger? Then please to begin again, and tell me who
the better are, if they are not the stronger; and I will ask you, great
Sir, to be a little milder in your instructions, or I shall have to run
away from you.

CALLICLES: You are ironical.

SOCRATES: No, by the hero Zethus, Callicles, by whose aid you were just
now saying many ironical things against me, I am not:--tell me, then, whom
you mean, by the better?

CALLICLES: I mean the more excellent.

SOCRATES: Do you not see that you are yourself using words which have no
meaning and that you are explaining nothing?--will you tell me whether you
mean by the better and superior the wiser, or if not, whom?

CALLICLES: Most assuredly, I do mean the wiser.

SOCRATES: Then according to you, one wise man may often be superior to ten
thousand fools, and he ought to rule them, and they ought to be his
subjects, and he ought to have more than they should. This is what I
believe that you mean (and you must not suppose that I am word-catching),
if you allow that the one is superior to the ten thousand?

CALLICLES: Yes; that is what I mean, and that is what I conceive to be
natural justice--that the better and wiser should rule and have more than
the inferior.

SOCRATES: Stop there, and let me ask you what you would say in this case:
Let us suppose that we are all together as we are now; there are several of
us, and we have a large common store of meats and drinks, and there are all
sorts of persons in our company having various degrees of strength and
weakness, and one of us, being a physician, is wiser in the matter of food
than all the rest, and he is probably stronger than some and not so strong
as others of us--will he not, being wiser, be also better than we are, and
our superior in this matter of food?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Either, then, he will have a larger share of the meats and
drinks, because he is better, or he will have the distribution of all of
them by reason of his authority, but he will not expend or make use of a
larger share of them on his own person, or if he does, he will be punished;
--his share will exceed that of some, and be less than that of others, and
if he be the weakest of all, he being the best of all will have the
smallest share of all, Callicles:--am I not right, my friend?

CALLICLES: You talk about meats and drinks and physicians and other
nonsense; I am not speaking of them.

SOCRATES: Well, but do you admit that the wiser is the better? Answer
'Yes' or 'No.'


SOCRATES: And ought not the better to have a larger share?

CALLICLES: Not of meats and drinks.

SOCRATES: I understand: then, perhaps, of coats--the skilfullest weaver
ought to have the largest coat, and the greatest number of them, and go
about clothed in the best and finest of them?

CALLICLES: Fudge about coats!

SOCRATES: Then the skilfullest and best in making shoes ought to have the
advantage in shoes; the shoemaker, clearly, should walk about in the
largest shoes, and have the greatest number of them?

CALLICLES: Fudge about shoes! What nonsense are you talking?

SOCRATES: Or, if this is not your meaning, perhaps you would say that the
wise and good and true husbandman should actually have a larger share of
seeds, and have as much seed as possible for his own land?

CALLICLES: How you go on, always talking in the same way, Socrates!

SOCRATES: Yes, Callicles, and also about the same things.

CALLICLES: Yes, by the Gods, you are literally always talking of cobblers
and fullers and cooks and doctors, as if this had to do with our argument.

SOCRATES: But why will you not tell me in what a man must be superior and
wiser in order to claim a larger share; will you neither accept a
suggestion, nor offer one?

CALLICLES: I have already told you. In the first place, I mean by
superiors not cobblers or cooks, but wise politicians who understand the
administration of a state, and who are not only wise, but also valiant and
able to carry out their designs, and not the men to faint from want of

SOCRATES: See now, most excellent Callicles, how different my charge
against you is from that which you bring against me, for you reproach me
with always saying the same; but I reproach you with never saying the same
about the same things, for at one time you were defining the better and the
superior to be the stronger, then again as the wiser, and now you bring
forward a new notion; the superior and the better are now declared by you
to be the more courageous: I wish, my good friend, that you would tell me,
once for all, whom you affirm to be the better and superior, and in what
they are better?

CALLICLES: I have already told you that I mean those who are wise and
courageous in the administration of a state--they ought to be the rulers of
their states, and justice consists in their having more than their

SOCRATES: But whether rulers or subjects will they or will they not have
more than themselves, my friend?

CALLICLES: What do you mean?

SOCRATES: I mean that every man is his own ruler; but perhaps you think
that there is no necessity for him to rule himself; he is only required to
rule others?

CALLICLES: What do you mean by his 'ruling over himself'?

SOCRATES: A simple thing enough; just what is commonly said, that a man
should be temperate and master of himself, and ruler of his own pleasures
and passions.

CALLICLES: What innocence! you mean those fools,--the temperate?

SOCRATES: Certainly:--any one may know that to be my meaning.

CALLICLES: Quite so, Socrates; and they are really fools, for how can a
man be happy who is the servant of anything? On the contrary, I plainly
assert, that he who would truly live ought to allow his desires to wax to
the uttermost, and not to chastise them; but when they have grown to their
greatest he should have courage and intelligence to minister to them and to
satisfy all his longings. And this I affirm to be natural justice and
nobility. To this however the many cannot attain; and they blame the
strong man because they are ashamed of their own weakness, which they
desire to conceal, and hence they say that intemperance is base. As I have
remarked already, they enslave the nobler natures, and being unable to
satisfy their pleasures, they praise temperance and justice out of their
own cowardice. For if a man had been originally the son of a king, or had
a nature capable of acquiring an empire or a tyranny or sovereignty, what
could be more truly base or evil than temperance--to a man like him, I say,
who might freely be enjoying every good, and has no one to stand in his
way, and yet has admitted custom and reason and the opinion of other men to
be lords over him?--must not he be in a miserable plight whom the
reputation of justice and temperance hinders from giving more to his
friends than to his enemies, even though he be a ruler in his city? Nay,
Socrates, for you profess to be a votary of the truth, and the truth is
this:--that luxury and intemperance and licence, if they be provided with
means, are virtue and happiness--all the rest is a mere bauble, agreements
contrary to nature, foolish talk of men, nothing worth. (Compare

SOCRATES: There is a noble freedom, Callicles, in your way of approaching
the argument; for what you say is what the rest of the world think, but do
not like to say. And I must beg of you to persevere, that the true rule of
human life may become manifest. Tell me, then:--you say, do you not, that
in the rightly-developed man the passions ought not to be controlled, but
that we should let them grow to the utmost and somehow or other satisfy
them, and that this is virtue?


SOCRATES: Then those who want nothing are not truly said to be happy?

CALLICLES: No indeed, for then stones and dead men would be the happiest
of all.

SOCRATES: But surely life according to your view is an awful thing; and
indeed I think that Euripides may have been right in saying,

'Who knows if life be not death and death life;'

and that we are very likely dead; I have heard a philosopher say that at
this moment we are actually dead, and that the body (soma) is our tomb
(sema (compare Phaedr.)), and that the part of the soul which is the seat
of the desires is liable to be tossed about by words and blown up and down;
and some ingenious person, probably a Sicilian or an Italian, playing with
the word, invented a tale in which he called the soul--because of its
believing and make-believe nature--a vessel (An untranslatable pun,--dia to
pithanon te kai pistikon onomase pithon.), and the ignorant he called the
uninitiated or leaky, and the place in the souls of the uninitiated in
which the desires are seated, being the intemperate and incontinent part,
he compared to a vessel full of holes, because it can never be satisfied.
He is not of your way of thinking, Callicles, for he declares, that of all
the souls in Hades, meaning the invisible world (aeides), these uninitiated
or leaky persons are the most miserable, and that they pour water into a
vessel which is full of holes out of a colander which is similarly
perforated. The colander, as my informer assures me, is the soul, and the
soul which he compares to a colander is the soul of the ignorant, which is
likewise full of holes, and therefore incontinent, owing to a bad memory
and want of faith. These notions are strange enough, but they show the
principle which, if I can, I would fain prove to you; that you should
change your mind, and, instead of the intemperate and insatiate life,
choose that which is orderly and sufficient and has a due provision for
daily needs. Do I make any impression on you, and are you coming over to
the opinion that the orderly are happier than the intemperate? Or do I
fail to persuade you, and, however many tales I rehearse to you, do you
continue of the same opinion still?

CALLICLES: The latter, Socrates, is more like the truth.

SOCRATES: Well, I will tell you another image, which comes out of the same
school:--Let me request you to consider how far you would accept this as an
account of the two lives of the temperate and intemperate in a figure:--
There are two men, both of whom have a number of casks; the one man has his
casks sound and full, one of wine, another of honey, and a third of milk,
besides others filled with other liquids, and the streams which fill them
are few and scanty, and he can only obtain them with a great deal of toil
and difficulty; but when his casks are once filled he has no need to feed
them any more, and has no further trouble with them or care about them.
The other, in like manner, can procure streams, though not without
difficulty; but his vessels are leaky and unsound, and night and day he is
compelled to be filling them, and if he pauses for a moment, he is in an
agony of pain. Such are their respective lives:--And now would you say
that the life of the intemperate is happier than that of the temperate? Do
I not convince you that the opposite is the truth?

CALLICLES: You do not convince me, Socrates, for the one who has filled
himself has no longer any pleasure left; and this, as I was just now
saying, is the life of a stone: he has neither joy nor sorrow after he is
once filled; but the pleasure depends on the superabundance of the influx.

SOCRATES: But the more you pour in, the greater the waste; and the holes
must be large for the liquid to escape.

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: The life which you are now depicting is not that of a dead man,
or of a stone, but of a cormorant; you mean that he is to be hungering and


SOCRATES: And he is to be thirsting and drinking?

CALLICLES: Yes, that is what I mean; he is to have all his desires about
him, and to be able to live happily in the gratification of them.

SOCRATES: Capital, excellent; go on as you have begun, and have no shame;
I, too, must disencumber myself of shame: and first, will you tell me
whether you include itching and scratching, provided you have enough of
them and pass your life in scratching, in your notion of happiness?

CALLICLES: What a strange being you are, Socrates! a regular mob-orator.

SOCRATES: That was the reason, Callicles, why I scared Polus and Gorgias,
until they were too modest to say what they thought; but you will not be
too modest and will not be scared, for you are a brave man. And now,
answer my question.

CALLICLES: I answer, that even the scratcher would live pleasantly.

SOCRATES: And if pleasantly, then also happily?

CALLICLES: To be sure.

SOCRATES: But what if the itching is not confined to the head? Shall I
pursue the question? And here, Callicles, I would have you consider how
you would reply if consequences are pressed upon you, especially if in the
last resort you are asked, whether the life of a catamite is not terrible,
foul, miserable? Or would you venture to say, that they too are happy, if
they only get enough of what they want?

CALLICLES: Are you not ashamed, Socrates, of introducing such topics into
the argument?

SOCRATES: Well, my fine friend, but am I the introducer of these topics,
or he who says without any qualification that all who feel pleasure in
whatever manner are happy, and who admits of no distinction between good
and bad pleasures? And I would still ask, whether you say that pleasure
and good are the same, or whether there is some pleasure which is not a

CALLICLES: Well, then, for the sake of consistency, I will say that they
are the same.

SOCRATES: You are breaking the original agreement, Callicles, and will no
longer be a satisfactory companion in the search after truth, if you say
what is contrary to your real opinion.

CALLICLES: Why, that is what you are doing too, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Then we are both doing wrong. Still, my dear friend, I would
ask you to consider whether pleasure, from whatever source derived, is the
good; for, if this be true, then the disagreeable consequences which have
been darkly intimated must follow, and many others.

CALLICLES: That, Socrates, is only your opinion.

SOCRATES: And do you, Callicles, seriously maintain what you are saying?

CALLICLES: Indeed I do.

SOCRATES: Then, as you are in earnest, shall we proceed with the argument?

CALLICLES: By all means. (Or, 'I am in profound earnest.')

SOCRATES: Well, if you are willing to proceed, determine this question for
me:--There is something, I presume, which you would call knowledge?

CALLICLES: There is.

SOCRATES: And were you not saying just now, that some courage implied


SOCRATES: And you were speaking of courage and knowledge as two things
different from one another?

CALLICLES: Certainly I was.

SOCRATES: And would you say that pleasure and knowledge are the same, or
not the same?

CALLICLES: Not the same, O man of wisdom.

SOCRATES: And would you say that courage differed from pleasure?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Well, then, let us remember that Callicles, the Acharnian, says
that pleasure and good are the same; but that knowledge and courage are not
the same, either with one another, or with the good.

CALLICLES: And what does our friend Socrates, of Foxton, say--does he
assent to this, or not?

SOCRATES: He does not assent; neither will Callicles, when he sees himself
truly. You will admit, I suppose, that good and evil fortune are opposed
to each other?


SOCRATES: And if they are opposed to each other, then, like health and
disease, they exclude one another; a man cannot have them both, or be
without them both, at the same time?

CALLICLES: What do you mean?

SOCRATES: Take the case of any bodily affection:--a man may have the
complaint in his eyes which is called ophthalmia?

CALLICLES: To be sure.

SOCRATES: But he surely cannot have the same eyes well and sound at the
same time?

CALLICLES: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: And when he has got rid of his ophthalmia, has he got rid of the
health of his eyes too? Is the final result, that he gets rid of them both

CALLICLES: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: That would surely be marvellous and absurd?


SOCRATES: I suppose that he is affected by them, and gets rid of them in


SOCRATES: And he may have strength and weakness in the same way, by fits?


SOCRATES: Or swiftness and slowness?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And does he have and not have good and happiness, and their
opposites, evil and misery, in a similar alternation? (Compare Republic.)

CALLICLES: Certainly he has.

SOCRATES: If then there be anything which a man has and has not at the
same time, clearly that cannot be good and evil--do we agree? Please not
to answer without consideration.

CALLICLES: I entirely agree.

SOCRATES: Go back now to our former admissions.--Did you say that to
hunger, I mean the mere state of hunger, was pleasant or painful?

CALLICLES: I said painful, but that to eat when you are hungry is

SOCRATES: I know; but still the actual hunger is painful: am I not right?


SOCRATES: And thirst, too, is painful?

CALLICLES: Yes, very.

SOCRATES: Need I adduce any more instances, or would you agree that all
wants or desires are painful?

CALLICLES: I agree, and therefore you need not adduce any more instances.

SOCRATES: Very good. And you would admit that to drink, when you are
thirsty, is pleasant?


SOCRATES: And in the sentence which you have just uttered, the word
'thirsty' implies pain?


SOCRATES: And the word 'drinking' is expressive of pleasure, and of the
satisfaction of the want?


SOCRATES: There is pleasure in drinking?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: When you are thirsty?

SOCRATES: And in pain?


SOCRATES: Do you see the inference:--that pleasure and pain are
simultaneous, when you say that being thirsty, you drink? For are they not
simultaneous, and do they not affect at the same time the same part,
whether of the soul or the body?--which of them is affected cannot be
supposed to be of any consequence: Is not this true?


SOCRATES: You said also, that no man could have good and evil fortune at
the same time?

CALLICLES: Yes, I did.

SOCRATES: But you admitted, that when in pain a man might also have


SOCRATES: Then pleasure is not the same as good fortune, or pain the same
as evil fortune, and therefore the good is not the same as the pleasant?

CALLICLES: I wish I knew, Socrates, what your quibbling means.

SOCRATES: You know, Callicles, but you affect not to know.

CALLICLES: Well, get on, and don't keep fooling: then you will know what
a wiseacre you are in your admonition of me.

SOCRATES: Does not a man cease from his thirst and from his pleasure in
drinking at the same time?

CALLICLES: I do not understand what you are saying.

GORGIAS: Nay, Callicles, answer, if only for our sakes;--we should like to
hear the argument out.

CALLICLES: Yes, Gorgias, but I must complain of the habitual trifling of
Socrates; he is always arguing about little and unworthy questions.

GORGIAS: What matter? Your reputation, Callicles, is not at stake. Let
Socrates argue in his own fashion.

CALLICLES: Well, then, Socrates, you shall ask these little peddling
questions, since Gorgias wishes to have them.

SOCRATES: I envy you, Callicles, for having been initiated into the great
mysteries before you were initiated into the lesser. I thought that this
was not allowable. But to return to our argument:--Does not a man cease
from thirsting and from the pleasure of drinking at the same moment?


SOCRATES: And if he is hungry, or has any other desire, does he not cease
from the desire and the pleasure at the same moment?

CALLICLES: Very true.

SOCRATES: Then he ceases from pain and pleasure at the same moment?


SOCRATES: But he does not cease from good and evil at the same moment, as
you have admitted: do you still adhere to what you said?

CALLICLES: Yes, I do; but what is the inference?

SOCRATES: Why, my friend, the inference is that the good is not the same
as the pleasant, or the evil the same as the painful; there is a cessation
of pleasure and pain at the same moment; but not of good and evil, for they
are different. How then can pleasure be the same as good, or pain as evil?
And I would have you look at the matter in another light, which could
hardly, I think, have been considered by you when you identified them: Are
not the good good because they have good present with them, as the
beautiful are those who have beauty present with them?


SOCRATES: And do you call the fools and cowards good men? For you were
saying just now that the courageous and the wise are the good--would you
not say so?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And did you never see a foolish child rejoicing?

CALLICLES: Yes, I have.

SOCRATES: And a foolish man too?

CALLICLES: Yes, certainly; but what is your drift?

SOCRATES: Nothing particular, if you will only answer.

CALLICLES: Yes, I have.

SOCRATES: And did you ever see a sensible man rejoicing or sorrowing?


SOCRATES: Which rejoice and sorrow most--the wise or the foolish?

CALLICLES: They are much upon a par, I think, in that respect.

SOCRATES: Enough: And did you ever see a coward in battle?

CALLICLES: To be sure.

SOCRATES: And which rejoiced most at the departure of the enemy, the
coward or the brave?

CALLICLES: I should say 'most' of both; or at any rate, they rejoiced
about equally.

SOCRATES: No matter; then the cowards, and not only the brave, rejoice?


SOCRATES: And the foolish; so it would seem?


SOCRATES: And are only the cowards pained at the approach of their
enemies, or are the brave also pained?

CALLICLES: Both are pained.

SOCRATES: And are they equally pained?

CALLICLES: I should imagine that the cowards are more pained.

SOCRATES: And are they not better pleased at the enemy's departure?

CALLICLES: I dare say.

SOCRATES: Then are the foolish and the wise and the cowards and the brave
all pleased and pained, as you were saying, in nearly equal degree; but are
the cowards more pleased and pained than the brave?


SOCRATES: But surely the wise and brave are the good, and the foolish and
the cowardly are the bad?


SOCRATES: Then the good and the bad are pleased and pained in a nearly
equal degree?


SOCRATES: Then are the good and bad good and bad in a nearly equal degree,
or have the bad the advantage both in good and evil? (i.e. in having more
pleasure and more pain.)

CALLICLES: I really do not know what you mean.

SOCRATES: Why, do you not remember saying that the good were good because
good was present with them, and the evil because evil; and that pleasures
were goods and pains evils?

CALLICLES: Yes, I remember.

SOCRATES: And are not these pleasures or goods present to those who
rejoice--if they do rejoice?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then those who rejoice are good when goods are present with


SOCRATES: And those who are in pain have evil or sorrow present with them?


SOCRATES: And would you still say that the evil are evil by reason of the
presence of evil?

CALLICLES: I should.

SOCRATES: Then those who rejoice are good, and those who are in pain evil?


SOCRATES: The degrees of good and evil vary with the degrees of pleasure
and of pain?


SOCRATES: Have the wise man and the fool, the brave and the coward, joy
and pain in nearly equal degrees? or would you say that the coward has

CALLICLES: I should say that he has.

SOCRATES: Help me then to draw out the conclusion which follows from our
admissions; for it is good to repeat and review what is good twice and
thrice over, as they say. Both the wise man and the brave man we allow to
be good?


SOCRATES: And the foolish man and the coward to be evil?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And he who has joy is good?


SOCRATES: And he who is in pain is evil?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: The good and evil both have joy and pain, but, perhaps, the evil
has more of them?


SOCRATES: Then must we not infer, that the bad man is as good and bad as
the good, or, perhaps, even better?--is not this a further inference which
follows equally with the preceding from the assertion that the good and the
pleasant are the same:--can this be denied, Callicles?

CALLICLES: I have been listening and making admissions to you, Socrates;
and I remark that if a person grants you anything in play, you, like a
child, want to keep hold and will not give it back. But do you really
suppose that I or any other human being denies that some pleasures are good
and others bad?

SOCRATES: Alas, Callicles, how unfair you are! you certainly treat me as
if I were a child, sometimes saying one thing, and then another, as if you
were meaning to deceive me. And yet I thought at first that you were my
friend, and would not have deceived me if you could have helped. But I see
that I was mistaken; and now I suppose that I must make the best of a bad
business, as they said of old, and take what I can get out of you.--Well,
then, as I understand you to say, I may assume that some pleasures are good
and others evil?


SOCRATES: The beneficial are good, and the hurtful are evil?

CALLICLES: To be sure.

SOCRATES: And the beneficial are those which do some good, and the hurtful
are those which do some evil?


SOCRATES: Take, for example, the bodily pleasures of eating and drinking,
which we were just now mentioning--you mean to say that those which promote
health, or any other bodily excellence, are good, and their opposites evil?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And in the same way there are good pains and there are evil

CALLICLES: To be sure.

SOCRATES: And ought we not to choose and use the good pleasures and pains?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: But not the evil?


SOCRATES: Because, if you remember, Polus and I have agreed that all our
actions are to be done for the sake of the good;--and will you agree with
us in saying, that the good is the end of all our actions, and that all our
actions are to be done for the sake of the good, and not the good for the
sake of them?--will you add a third vote to our two?


SOCRATES: Then pleasure, like everything else, is to be sought for the
sake of that which is good, and not that which is good for the sake of

CALLICLES: To be sure.

SOCRATES: But can every man choose what pleasures are good and what are
evil, or must he have art or knowledge of them in detail?

CALLICLES: He must have art.

SOCRATES: Let me now remind you of what I was saying to Gorgias and Polus;
I was saying, as you will not have forgotten, that there were some
processes which aim only at pleasure, and know nothing of a better and
worse, and there are other processes which know good and evil. And I
considered that cookery, which I do not call an art, but only an
experience, was of the former class, which is concerned with pleasure, and
that the art of medicine was of the class which is concerned with the good.
And now, by the god of friendship, I must beg you, Callicles, not to jest,
or to imagine that I am jesting with you; do not answer at random and
contrary to your real opinion--for you will observe that we are arguing
about the way of human life; and to a man who has any sense at all, what
question can be more serious than this?--whether he should follow after
that way of life to which you exhort me, and act what you call the manly
part of speaking in the assembly, and cultivating rhetoric, and engaging in
public affairs, according to the principles now in vogue; or whether he
should pursue the life of philosophy;--and in what the latter way differs
from the former. But perhaps we had better first try to distinguish them,
as I did before, and when we have come to an agreement that they are
distinct, we may proceed to consider in what they differ from one another,
and which of them we should choose. Perhaps, however, you do not even now
understand what I mean?

CALLICLES: No, I do not.

SOCRATES: Then I will explain myself more clearly: seeing that you and I
have agreed that there is such a thing as good, and that there is such a
thing as pleasure, and that pleasure is not the same as good, and that the
pursuit and process of acquisition of the one, that is pleasure, is
different from the pursuit and process of acquisition of the other, which
is good--I wish that you would tell me whether you agree with me thus far
or not--do you agree?


SOCRATES: Then I will proceed, and ask whether you also agree with me, and
whether you think that I spoke the truth when I further said to Gorgias and
Polus that cookery in my opinion is only an experience, and not an art at
all; and that whereas medicine is an art, and attends to the nature and
constitution of the patient, and has principles of action and reason in
each case, cookery in attending upon pleasure never regards either the
nature or reason of that pleasure to which she devotes herself, but goes
straight to her end, nor ever considers or calculates anything, but works
by experience and routine, and just preserves the recollection of what she
has usually done when producing pleasure. And first, I would have you
consider whether I have proved what I was saying, and then whether there
are not other similar processes which have to do with the soul--some of
them processes of art, making a provision for the soul's highest interest--
others despising the interest, and, as in the previous case, considering
only the pleasure of the soul, and how this may be acquired, but not
considering what pleasures are good or bad, and having no other aim but to
afford gratification, whether good or bad. In my opinion, Callicles, there
are such processes, and this is the sort of thing which I term flattery,
whether concerned with the body or the soul, or whenever employed with a
view to pleasure and without any consideration of good and evil. And now I
wish that you would tell me whether you agree with us in this notion, or
whether you differ.

CALLICLES: I do not differ; on the contrary, I agree; for in that way I
shall soonest bring the argument to an end, and shall oblige my friend

SOCRATES: And is this notion true of one soul, or of two or more?

CALLICLES: Equally true of two or more.

SOCRATES: Then a man may delight a whole assembly, and yet have no regard
for their true interests?


SOCRATES: Can you tell me the pursuits which delight mankind--or rather,
if you would prefer, let me ask, and do you answer, which of them belong to
the pleasurable class, and which of them not? In the first place, what say
you of flute-playing? Does not that appear to be an art which seeks only
pleasure, Callicles, and thinks of nothing else?

CALLICLES: I assent.

SOCRATES: And is not the same true of all similar arts, as, for example,
the art of playing the lyre at festivals?


SOCRATES: And what do you say of the choral art and of dithyrambic
poetry?--are not they of the same nature? Do you imagine that Cinesias the
son of Meles cares about what will tend to the moral improvement of his
hearers, or about what will give pleasure to the multitude?

CALLICLES: There can be no mistake about Cinesias, Socrates.

SOCRATES: And what do you say of his father, Meles the harp-player? Did
he perform with any view to the good of his hearers? Could he be said to
regard even their pleasure? For his singing was an infliction to his
audience. And of harp-playing and dithyrambic poetry in general, what
would you say? Have they not been invented wholly for the sake of

CALLICLES: That is my notion of them.

SOCRATES: And as for the Muse of Tragedy, that solemn and august
personage--what are her aspirations? Is all her aim and desire only to
give pleasure to the spectators, or does she fight against them and refuse
to speak of their pleasant vices, and willingly proclaim in word and song
truths welcome and unwelcome?--which in your judgment is her character?

CALLICLES: There can be no doubt, Socrates, that Tragedy has her face
turned towards pleasure and the gratification of the audience.

SOCRATES: And is not that the sort of thing, Callicles, which we were just
now describing as flattery?

CALLICLES: Quite true.

SOCRATES: Well now, suppose that we strip all poetry of song and rhythm
and metre, there will remain speech? (Compare Republic.)

CALLICLES: To be sure.

SOCRATES: And this speech is addressed to a crowd of people?


SOCRATES: Then poetry is a sort of rhetoric?


SOCRATES: And do not the poets in the theatres seem to you to be


SOCRATES: Then now we have discovered a sort of rhetoric which is
addressed to a crowd of men, women, and children, freemen and slaves. And
this is not much to our taste, for we have described it as having the
nature of flattery.

CALLICLES: Quite true.

SOCRATES: Very good. And what do you say of that other rhetoric which
addresses the Athenian assembly and the assemblies of freemen in other
states? Do the rhetoricians appear to you always to aim at what is best,
and do they seek to improve the citizens by their speeches, or are they
too, like the rest of mankind, bent upon giving them pleasure, forgetting
the public good in the thought of their own interest, playing with the
people as with children, and trying to amuse them, but never considering
whether they are better or worse for this?

CALLICLES: I must distinguish. There are some who have a real care of the
public in what they say, while others are such as you describe.

SOCRATES: I am contented with the admission that rhetoric is of two sorts;
one, which is mere flattery and disgraceful declamation; the other, which
is noble and aims at the training and improvement of the souls of the
citizens, and strives to say what is best, whether welcome or unwelcome, to
the audience; but have you ever known such a rhetoric; or if you have, and
can point out any rhetorician who is of this stamp, who is he?

CALLICLES: But, indeed, I am afraid that I cannot tell you of any such
among the orators who are at present living.

SOCRATES: Well, then, can you mention any one of a former generation, who
may be said to have improved the Athenians, who found them worse and made
them better, from the day that he began to make speeches? for, indeed, I do
not know of such a man.

CALLICLES: What! did you never hear that Themistocles was a good man, and
Cimon and Miltiades and Pericles, who is just lately dead, and whom you
heard yourself?

SOCRATES: Yes, Callicles, they were good men, if, as you said at first,
true virtue consists only in the satisfaction of our own desires and those
of others; but if not, and if, as we were afterwards compelled to
acknowledge, the satisfaction of some desires makes us better, and of
others, worse, and we ought to gratify the one and not the other, and there
is an art in distinguishing them,--can you tell me of any of these
statesmen who did distinguish them?

CALLICLES: No, indeed, I cannot.

SOCRATES: Yet, surely, Callicles, if you look you will find such a one.
Suppose that we just calmly consider whether any of these was such as I
have described. Will not the good man, who says whatever he says with a
view to the best, speak with a reference to some standard and not at
random; just as all other artists, whether the painter, the builder, the
shipwright, or any other look all of them to their own work, and do not
select and apply at random what they apply, but strive to give a definite
form to it? The artist disposes all things in order, and compels the one
part to harmonize and accord with the other part, until he has constructed
a regular and systematic whole; and this is true of all artists, and in the
same way the trainers and physicians, of whom we spoke before, give order
and regularity to the body: do you deny this?

CALLICLES: No; I am ready to admit it.

SOCRATES: Then the house in which order and regularity prevail is good;
that in which there is disorder, evil?


SOCRATES: And the same is true of a ship?


SOCRATES: And the same may be said of the human body?


SOCRATES: And what would you say of the soul? Will the good soul be that
in which disorder is prevalent, or that in which there is harmony and

CALLICLES: The latter follows from our previous admissions.

SOCRATES: What is the name which is given to the effect of harmony and
order in the body?

CALLICLES: I suppose that you mean health and strength?

SOCRATES: Yes, I do; and what is the name which you would give to the
effect of harmony and order in the soul? Try and discover a name for this
as well as for the other.

CALLICLES: Why not give the name yourself, Socrates?

SOCRATES: Well, if you had rather that I should, I will; and you shall say
whether you agree with me, and if not, you shall refute and answer me.
'Healthy,' as I conceive, is the name which is given to the regular order
of the body, whence comes health and every other bodily excellence: is
that true or not?


SOCRATES: And 'lawful' and 'law' are the names which are given to the
regular order and action of the soul, and these make men lawful and
orderly:--and so we have temperance and justice: have we not?


SOCRATES: And will not the true rhetorician who is honest and understands
his art have his eye fixed upon these, in all the words which he addresses
to the souls of men, and in all his actions, both in what he gives and in
what he takes away? Will not his aim be to implant justice in the souls of
his citizens and take away injustice, to implant temperance and take away
intemperance, to implant every virtue and take away every vice? Do you not


SOCRATES: For what use is there, Callicles, in giving to the body of a
sick man who is in a bad state of health a quantity of the most delightful
food or drink or any other pleasant thing, which may be really as bad for
him as if you gave him nothing, or even worse if rightly estimated. Is not
that true?

CALLICLES: I will not say No to it.

SOCRATES: For in my opinion there is no profit in a man's life if his body
is in an evil plight--in that case his life also is evil: am I not right?


SOCRATES: When a man is in health the physicians will generally allow him
to eat when he is hungry and drink when he is thirsty, and to satisfy his
desires as he likes, but when he is sick they hardly suffer him to satisfy
his desires at all: even you will admit that?


SOCRATES: And does not the same argument hold of the soul, my good sir?
While she is in a bad state and is senseless and intemperate and unjust and
unholy, her desires ought to be controlled, and she ought to be prevented
from doing anything which does not tend to her own improvement.


SOCRATES: Such treatment will be better for the soul herself?

CALLICLES: To be sure.

SOCRATES: And to restrain her from her appetites is to chastise her?


SOCRATES: Then restraint or chastisement is better for the soul than
intemperance or the absence of control, which you were just now preferring?

CALLICLES: I do not understand you, Socrates, and I wish that you would
ask some one who does.

SOCRATES: Here is a gentleman who cannot endure to be improved or to
subject himself to that very chastisement of which the argument speaks!

CALLICLES: I do not heed a word of what you are saying, and have only
answered hitherto out of civility to Gorgias.

SOCRATES: What are we to do, then? Shall we break off in the middle?

CALLICLES: You shall judge for yourself.

SOCRATES: Well, but people say that 'a tale should have a head and not
break off in the middle,' and I should not like to have the argument going
about without a head (compare Laws); please then to go on a little longer,
and put the head on.

CALLICLES: How tyrannical you are, Socrates! I wish that you and your
argument would rest, or that you would get some one else to argue with you.

SOCRATES: But who else is willing?--I want to finish the argument.

CALLICLES: Cannot you finish without my help, either talking straight on,
or questioning and answering yourself?

SOCRATES: Must I then say with Epicharmus, 'Two men spoke before, but now
one shall be enough'? I suppose that there is absolutely no help. And if
I am to carry on the enquiry by myself, I will first of all remark that not
only I but all of us should have an ambition to know what is true and what
is false in this matter, for the discovery of the truth is a common good.
And now I will proceed to argue according to my own notion. But if any of
you think that I arrive at conclusions which are untrue you must interpose
and refute me, for I do not speak from any knowledge of what I am saying; I
am an enquirer like yourselves, and therefore, if my opponent says anything
which is of force, I shall be the first to agree with him. I am speaking
on the supposition that the argument ought to be completed; but if you
think otherwise let us leave off and go our ways.

GORGIAS: I think, Socrates, that we should not go our ways until you have
completed the argument; and this appears to me to be the wish of the rest
of the company; I myself should very much like to hear what more you have
to say.

SOCRATES: I too, Gorgias, should have liked to continue the argument with
Callicles, and then I might have given him an 'Amphion' in return for his
'Zethus'; but since you, Callicles, are unwilling to continue, I hope that
you will listen, and interrupt me if I seem to you to be in error. And if
you refute me, I shall not be angry with you as you are with me, but I
shall inscribe you as the greatest of benefactors on the tablets of my

CALLICLES: My good fellow, never mind me, but get on.

SOCRATES: Listen to me, then, while I recapitulate the argument:--Is the
pleasant the same as the good? Not the same. Callicles and I are agreed
about that. And is the pleasant to be pursued for the sake of the good? or
the good for the sake of the pleasant? The pleasant is to be pursued for
the sake of the good. And that is pleasant at the presence of which we are
pleased, and that is good at the presence of which we are good? To be
sure. And we are good, and all good things whatever are good when some
virtue is present in us or them? That, Callicles, is my conviction. But
the virtue of each thing, whether body or soul, instrument or creature,
when given to them in the best way comes to them not by chance but as the
result of the order and truth and art which are imparted to them: Am I not
right? I maintain that I am. And is not the virtue of each thing
dependent on order or arrangement? Yes, I say. And that which makes a
thing good is the proper order inhering in each thing? Such is my view.
And is not the soul which has an order of her own better than that which
has no order? Certainly. And the soul which has order is orderly? Of
course. And that which is orderly is temperate? Assuredly. And the
temperate soul is good? No other answer can I give, Callicles dear; have
you any?

CALLICLES: Go on, my good fellow.

SOCRATES: Then I shall proceed to add, that if the temperate soul is the
good soul, the soul which is in the opposite condition, that is, the
foolish and intemperate, is the bad soul. Very true.

And will not the temperate man do what is proper, both in relation to the
gods and to men;--for he would not be temperate if he did not? Certainly
he will do what is proper. In his relation to other men he will do what is
just; and in his relation to the gods he will do what is holy; and he who
does what is just and holy must be just and holy? Very true. And must he
not be courageous? for the duty of a temperate man is not to follow or to
avoid what he ought not, but what he ought, whether things or men or
pleasures or pains, and patiently to endure when he ought; and therefore,
Callicles, the temperate man, being, as we have described, also just and
courageous and holy, cannot be other than a perfectly good man, nor can the
good man do otherwise than well and perfectly whatever he does; and he who
does well must of necessity be happy and blessed, and the evil man who does
evil, miserable: now this latter is he whom you were applauding--the
intemperate who is the opposite of the temperate. Such is my position, and
these things I affirm to be true. And if they are true, then I further
affirm that he who desires to be happy must pursue and practise temperance
and run away from intemperance as fast as his legs will carry him: he had
better order his life so as not to need punishment; but if either he or any
of his friends, whether private individual or city, are in need of
punishment, then justice must be done and he must suffer punishment, if he
would be happy. This appears to me to be the aim which a man ought to
have, and towards which he ought to direct all the energies both of himself
and of the state, acting so that he may have temperance and justice present
with him and be happy, not suffering his lusts to be unrestrained, and in
the never-ending desire satisfy them leading a robber's life. Such a one
is the friend neither of God nor man, for he is incapable of communion, and
he who is incapable of communion is also incapable of friendship. And
philosophers tell us, Callicles, that communion and friendship and
orderliness and temperance and justice bind together heaven and earth and
gods and men, and that this universe is therefore called Cosmos or order,
not disorder or misrule, my friend. But although you are a philosopher you
seem to me never to have observed that geometrical equality is mighty, both
among gods and men; you think that you ought to cultivate inequality or
excess, and do not care about geometry.--Well, then, either the principle
that the happy are made happy by the possession of justice and temperance,
and the miserable miserable by the possession of vice, must be refuted, or,
if it is granted, what will be the consequences? All the consequences
which I drew before, Callicles, and about which you asked me whether I was
in earnest when I said that a man ought to accuse himself and his son and
his friend if he did anything wrong, and that to this end he should use his
rhetoric--all those consequences are true. And that which you thought that
Polus was led to admit out of modesty is true, viz., that, to do injustice,
if more disgraceful than to suffer, is in that degree worse; and the other
position, which, according to Polus, Gorgias admitted out of modesty, that
he who would truly be a rhetorician ought to be just and have a knowledge
of justice, has also turned out to be true.

And now, these things being as we have said, let us proceed in the next
place to consider whether you are right in throwing in my teeth that I am
unable to help myself or any of my friends or kinsmen, or to save them in
the extremity of danger, and that I am in the power of another like an
outlaw to whom any one may do what he likes,--he may box my ears, which was
a brave saying of yours; or take away my goods or banish me, or even do his
worst and kill me; a condition which, as you say, is the height of
disgrace. My answer to you is one which has been already often repeated,
but may as well be repeated once more. I tell you, Callicles, that to be
boxed on the ears wrongfully is not the worst evil which can befall a man,
nor to have my purse or my body cut open, but that to smite and slay me and
mine wrongfully is far more disgraceful and more evil; aye, and to despoil
and enslave and pillage, or in any way at all to wrong me and mine, is far
more disgraceful and evil to the doer of the wrong than to me who am the
sufferer. These truths, which have been already set forth as I state them
in the previous discussion, would seem now to have been fixed and riveted
by us, if I may use an expression which is certainly bold, in words which
are like bonds of iron and adamant; and unless you or some other still more
enterprising hero shall break them, there is no possibility of denying what
I say. For my position has always been, that I myself am ignorant how
these things are, but that I have never met any one who could say
otherwise, any more than you can, and not appear ridiculous. This is my
position still, and if what I am saying is true, and injustice is the
greatest of evils to the doer of injustice, and yet there is if possible a
greater than this greatest of evils (compare Republic), in an unjust man
not suffering retribution, what is that defence of which the want will make
a man truly ridiculous? Must not the defence be one which will avert the
greatest of human evils? And will not the worst of all defences be that
with which a man is unable to defend himself or his family or his friends?
--and next will come that which is unable to avert the next greatest evil;
thirdly that which is unable to avert the third greatest evil; and so of
other evils. As is the greatness of evil so is the honour of being able to
avert them in their several degrees, and the disgrace of not being able to
avert them. Am I not right Callicles?

CALLICLES: Yes, quite right.

SOCRATES: Seeing then that there are these two evils, the doing injustice
and the suffering injustice--and we affirm that to do injustice is a
greater, and to suffer injustice a lesser evil--by what devices can a man
succeed in obtaining the two advantages, the one of not doing and the other
of not suffering injustice? must he have the power, or only the will to
obtain them? I mean to ask whether a man will escape injustice if he has
only the will to escape, or must he have provided himself with the power?

CALLICLES: He must have provided himself with the power; that is clear.

SOCRATES: And what do you say of doing injustice? Is the will only
sufficient, and will that prevent him from doing injustice, or must he have
provided himself with power and art; and if he have not studied and
practised, will he be unjust still? Surely you might say, Callicles,
whether you think that Polus and I were right in admitting the conclusion
that no one does wrong voluntarily, but that all do wrong against their

CALLICLES: Granted, Socrates, if you will only have done.

SOCRATES: Then, as would appear, power and art have to be provided in
order that we may do no injustice?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And what art will protect us from suffering injustice, if not
wholly, yet as far as possible? I want to know whether you agree with me;
for I think that such an art is the art of one who is either a ruler or
even tyrant himself, or the equal and companion of the ruling power.

CALLICLES: Well said, Socrates; and please to observe how ready I am to
praise you when you talk sense.

SOCRATES: Think and tell me whether you would approve of another view of
mine: To me every man appears to be most the friend of him who is most
like to him--like to like, as ancient sages say: Would you not agree to

CALLICLES: I should.

SOCRATES: But when the tyrant is rude and uneducated, he may be expected
to fear any one who is his superior in virtue, and will never be able to be
perfectly friendly with him.

CALLICLES: That is true.

SOCRATES: Neither will he be the friend of any one who is greatly his
inferior, for the tyrant will despise him, and will never seriously regard
him as a friend.

CALLICLES: That again is true.

SOCRATES: Then the only friend worth mentioning, whom the tyrant can have,
will be one who is of the same character, and has the same likes and
dislikes, and is at the same time willing to be subject and subservient to
him; he is the man who will have power in the state, and no one will injure
him with impunity:--is not that so?


SOCRATES: And if a young man begins to ask how he may become great and
formidable, this would seem to be the way--he will accustom himself, from
his youth upward, to feel sorrow and joy on the same occasions as his
master, and will contrive to be as like him as possible?


SOCRATES: And in this way he will have accomplished, as you and your
friends would say, the end of becoming a great man and not suffering

CALLICLES: Very true.

SOCRATES: But will he also escape from doing injury? Must not the very
opposite be true,--if he is to be like the tyrant in his injustice, and to
have influence with him? Will he not rather contrive to do as much wrong
as possible, and not be punished?


SOCRATES: And by the imitation of his master and by the power which he
thus acquires will not his soul become bad and corrupted, and will not this
be the greatest evil to him?

CALLICLES: You always contrive somehow or other, Socrates, to invert
everything: do you not know that he who imitates the tyrant will, if he
has a mind, kill him who does not imitate him and take away his goods?

SOCRATES: Excellent Callicles, I am not deaf, and I have heard that a
great many times from you and from Polus and from nearly every man in the
city, but I wish that you would hear me too. I dare say that he will kill
him if he has a mind--the bad man will kill the good and true.

CALLICLES: And is not that just the provoking thing?

SOCRATES: Nay, not to a man of sense, as the argument shows: do you think
that all our cares should be directed to prolonging life to the uttermost,
and to the study of those arts which secure us from danger always; like
that art of rhetoric which saves men in courts of law, and which you advise
me to cultivate?

CALLICLES: Yes, truly, and very good advice too.

SOCRATES: Well, my friend, but what do you think of swimming; is that an
art of any great pretensions?

CALLICLES: No, indeed.

SOCRATES: And yet surely swimming saves a man from death, and there are
occasions on which he must know how to swim. And if you despise the
swimmers, I will tell you of another and greater art, the art of the pilot,
who not only saves the souls of men, but also their bodies and properties
from the extremity of danger, just like rhetoric. Yet his art is modest
and unpresuming: it has no airs or pretences of doing anything
extraordinary, and, in return for the same salvation which is given by the
pleader, demands only two obols, if he brings us from Aegina to Athens, or
for the longer voyage from Pontus or Egypt, at the utmost two drachmae,
when he has saved, as I was just now saying, the passenger and his wife and
children and goods, and safely disembarked them at the Piraeus,--this is
the payment which he asks in return for so great a boon; and he who is the
master of the art, and has done all this, gets out and walks about on the
sea-shore by his ship in an unassuming way. For he is able to reflect and
is aware that he cannot tell which of his fellow-passengers he has
benefited, and which of them he has injured in not allowing them to be
drowned. He knows that they are just the same when he has disembarked them
as when they embarked, and not a whit better either in their bodies or in
their souls; and he considers that if a man who is afflicted by great and
incurable bodily diseases is only to be pitied for having escaped, and is
in no way benefited by him in having been saved from drowning, much less he
who has great and incurable diseases, not of the body, but of the soul,
which is the more valuable part of him; neither is life worth having nor of
any profit to the bad man, whether he be delivered from the sea, or the
law-courts, or any other devourer;--and so he reflects that such a one had
better not live, for he cannot live well. (Compare Republic.)

And this is the reason why the pilot, although he is our saviour, is not
usually conceited, any more than the engineer, who is not at all behind
either the general, or the pilot, or any one else, in his saving power, for
he sometimes saves whole cities. Is there any comparison between him and
the pleader? And if he were to talk, Callicles, in your grandiose style,
he would bury you under a mountain of words, declaring and insisting that
we ought all of us to be engine-makers, and that no other profession is
worth thinking about; he would have plenty to say. Nevertheless you
despise him and his art, and sneeringly call him an engine-maker, and you
will not allow your daughters to marry his son, or marry your son to his
daughters. And yet, on your principle, what justice or reason is there in
your refusal? What right have you to despise the engine-maker, and the
others whom I was just now mentioning? I know that you will say, 'I am
better, and better born.' But if the better is not what I say, and virtue
consists only in a man saving himself and his, whatever may be his
character, then your censure of the engine-maker, and of the physician, and
of the other arts of salvation, is ridiculous. O my friend! I want you to
see that the noble and the good may possibly be something different from
saving and being saved:--May not he who is truly a man cease to care about
living a certain time?--he knows, as women say, that no man can escape
fate, and therefore he is not fond of life; he leaves all that with God,
and considers in what way he can best spend his appointed term;--whether by
assimilating himself to the constitution under which he lives, as you at
this moment have to consider how you may become as like as possible to the
Athenian people, if you mean to be in their good graces, and to have power
in the state; whereas I want you to think and see whether this is for the
interest of either of us;--I would not have us risk that which is dearest
on the acquisition of this power, like the Thessalian enchantresses, who,
as they say, bring down the moon from heaven at the risk of their own
perdition. But if you suppose that any man will show you the art of
becoming great in the city, and yet not conforming yourself to the ways of
the city, whether for better or worse, then I can only say that you are
mistaken, Callides; for he who would deserve to be the true natural friend
of the Athenian Demus, aye, or of Pyrilampes' darling who is called after
them, must be by nature like them, and not an imitator only. He, then, who
will make you most like them, will make you as you desire, a statesman and
orator: for every man is pleased when he is spoken to in his own language
and spirit, and dislikes any other. But perhaps you, sweet Callicles, may
be of another mind. What do you say?

CALLICLES: Somehow or other your words, Socrates, always appear to me to
be good words; and yet, like the rest of the world, I am not quite
convinced by them. (Compare Symp.: 1 Alcib.)

SOCRATES: The reason is, Callicles, that the love of Demus which abides in
your soul is an adversary to me; but I dare say that if we recur to these
same matters, and consider them more thoroughly, you may be convinced for
all that. Please, then, to remember that there are two processes of
training all things, including body and soul; in the one, as we said, we
treat them with a view to pleasure, and in the other with a view to the
highest good, and then we do not indulge but resist them: was not that the
distinction which we drew?

CALLICLES: Very true.

SOCRATES: And the one which had pleasure in view was just a vulgar
flattery:--was not that another of our conclusions?

CALLICLES: Be it so, if you will have it.

SOCRATES: And the other had in view the greatest improvement of that which
was ministered to, whether body or soul?

CALLICLES: Quite true.

SOCRATES: And must we not have the same end in view in the treatment of
our city and citizens? Must we not try and make them as good as possible?
For we have already discovered that there is no use in imparting to them
any other good, unless the mind of those who are to have the good, whether
money, or office, or any other sort of power, be gentle and good. Shall we
say that?

CALLICLES: Yes, certainly, if you like.

SOCRATES: Well, then, if you and I, Callicles, were intending to set about
some public business, and were advising one another to undertake buildings,
such as walls, docks or temples of the largest size, ought we not to
examine ourselves, first, as to whether we know or do not know the art of
building, and who taught us?--would not that be necessary, Callicles?


SOCRATES: In the second place, we should have to consider whether we had
ever constructed any private house, either of our own or for our friends,
and whether this building of ours was a success or not; and if upon
consideration we found that we had had good and eminent masters, and had
been successful in constructing many fine buildings, not only with their
assistance, but without them, by our own unaided skill--in that case
prudence would not dissuade us from proceeding to the construction of
public works. But if we had no master to show, and only a number of
worthless buildings or none at all, then, surely, it would be ridiculous in
us to attempt public works, or to advise one another to undertake them. Is
not this true?

CALLICLES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And does not the same hold in all other cases? If you and I
were physicians, and were advising one another that we were competent to
practise as state-physicians, should I not ask about you, and would you not
ask about me, Well, but how about Socrates himself, has he good health? and
was any one else ever known to be cured by him, whether slave or freeman?
And I should make the same enquiries about you. And if we arrived at the
conclusion that no one, whether citizen or stranger, man or woman, had ever
been any the better for the medical skill of either of us, then, by Heaven,
Callicles, what an absurdity to think that we or any human being should be
so silly as to set up as state-physicians and advise others like ourselves
to do the same, without having first practised in private, whether
successfully or not, and acquired experience of the art! Is not this, as
they say, to begin with the big jar when you are learning the potter's art;
which is a foolish thing?


SOCRATES: And now, my friend, as you are already beginning to be a public
character, and are admonishing and reproaching me for not being one,
suppose that we ask a few questions of one another. Tell me, then,
Callicles, how about making any of the citizens better? Was there ever a
man who was once vicious, or unjust, or intemperate, or foolish, and became
by the help of Callicles good and noble? Was there ever such a man,
whether citizen or stranger, slave or freeman? Tell me, Callicles, if a
person were to ask these questions of you, what would you answer? Whom
would you say that you had improved by your conversation? There may have
been good deeds of this sort which were done by you as a private person,
before you came forward in public. Why will you not answer?

CALLICLES: You are contentious, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Nay, I ask you, not from a love of contention, but because I
really want to know in what way you think that affairs should be
administered among us--whether, when you come to the administration of
them, you have any other aim but the improvement of the citizens? Have we
not already admitted many times over that such is the duty of a public man?
Nay, we have surely said so; for if you will not answer for yourself I must
answer for you. But if this is what the good man ought to effect for the
benefit of his own state, allow me to recall to you the names of those whom
you were just now mentioning, Pericles, and Cimon, and Miltiades, and
Themistocles, and ask whether you still think that they were good citizens.


SOCRATES: But if they were good, then clearly each of them must have made
the citizens better instead of worse?


SOCRATES: And, therefore, when Pericles first began to speak in the
assembly, the Athenians were not so good as when he spoke last?

CALLICLES: Very likely.

SOCRATES: Nay, my friend, 'likely' is not the word; for if he was a good
citizen, the inference is certain.

CALLICLES: And what difference does that make?

SOCRATES: None; only I should like further to know whether the Athenians
are supposed to have been made better by Pericles, or, on the contrary, to
have been corrupted by him; for I hear that he was the first who gave the
people pay, and made them idle and cowardly, and encouraged them in the
love of talk and money.

CALLICLES: You heard that, Socrates, from the laconising set who bruise
their ears.

SOCRATES: But what I am going to tell you now is not mere hearsay, but
well known both to you and me: that at first, Pericles was glorious and
his character unimpeached by any verdict of the Athenians--this was during
the time when they were not so good--yet afterwards, when they had been
made good and gentle by him, at the very end of his life they convicted him
of theft, and almost put him to death, clearly under the notion that he was
a malefactor.

CALLICLES: Well, but how does that prove Pericles' badness?

SOCRATES: Why, surely you would say that he was a bad manager of asses or
horses or oxen, who had received them originally neither kicking nor
butting nor biting him, and implanted in them all these savage tricks?
Would he not be a bad manager of any animals who received them gentle, and
made them fiercer than they were when he received them? What do you say?

CALLICLES: I will do you the favour of saying 'yes.'

SOCRATES: And will you also do me the favour of saying whether man is an

CALLICLES: Certainly he is.

SOCRATES: And was not Pericles a shepherd of men?


SOCRATES: And if he was a good political shepherd, ought not the animals
who were his subjects, as we were just now acknowledging, to have become
more just, and not more unjust?

CALLICLES: Quite true.

SOCRATES: And are not just men gentle, as Homer says?--or are you of
another mind?


SOCRATES: And yet he really did make them more savage than he received
them, and their savageness was shown towards himself; which he must have
been very far from desiring.

CALLICLES: Do you want me to agree with you?

SOCRATES: Yes, if I seem to you to speak the truth.

CALLICLES: Granted then.

SOCRATES: And if they were more savage, must they not have been more
unjust and inferior?

CALLICLES: Granted again.

SOCRATES: Then upon this view, Pericles was not a good statesman?

CALLICLES: That is, upon your view.

SOCRATES: Nay, the view is yours, after what you have admitted. Take the
case of Cimon again. Did not the very persons whom he was serving
ostracize him, in order that they might not hear his voice for ten years?
and they did just the same to Themistocles, adding the penalty of exile;
and they voted that Miltiades, the hero of Marathon, should be thrown into
the pit of death, and he was only saved by the Prytanis. And yet, if they
had been really good men, as you say, these things would never have
happened to them. For the good charioteers are not those who at first keep
their place, and then, when they have broken-in their horses, and
themselves become better charioteers, are thrown out--that is not the way
either in charioteering or in any profession.--What do you think?

CALLICLES: I should think not.

SOCRATES: Well, but if so, the truth is as I have said already, that in
the Athenian State no one has ever shown himself to be a good statesman--
you admitted that this was true of our present statesmen, but not true of
former ones, and you preferred them to the others; yet they have turned out
to be no better than our present ones; and therefore, if they were
rhetoricians, they did not use the true art of rhetoric or of flattery, or
they would not have fallen out of favour.

CALLICLES: But surely, Socrates, no living man ever came near any one of
them in his performances.

SOCRATES: O, my dear friend, I say nothing against them regarded as the
serving-men of the State; and I do think that they were certainly more
serviceable than those who are living now, and better able to gratify the
wishes of the State; but as to transforming those desires and not allowing
them to have their way, and using the powers which they had, whether of
persuasion or of force, in the improvement of their fellow citizens, which
is the prime object of the truly good citizen, I do not see that in these
respects they were a whit superior to our present statesmen, although I do

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