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Gorgias by Plato

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admit that they were more clever at providing ships and walls and docks,
and all that. You and I have a ridiculous way, for during the whole time
that we are arguing, we are always going round and round to the same point,
and constantly misunderstanding one another. If I am not mistaken, you
have admitted and acknowledged more than once, that there are two kinds of
operations which have to do with the body, and two which have to do with
the soul: one of the two is ministerial, and if our bodies are hungry
provides food for them, and if they are thirsty gives them drink, or if
they are cold supplies them with garments, blankets, shoes, and all that
they crave. I use the same images as before intentionally, in order that
you may understand me the better. The purveyor of the articles may provide
them either wholesale or retail, or he may be the maker of any of them,--
the baker, or the cook, or the weaver, or the shoemaker, or the currier;
and in so doing, being such as he is, he is naturally supposed by himself
and every one to minister to the body. For none of them know that there is
another art--an art of gymnastic and medicine which is the true minister of
the body, and ought to be the mistress of all the rest, and to use their
results according to the knowledge which she has and they have not, of the
real good or bad effects of meats and drinks on the body. All other arts
which have to do with the body are servile and menial and illiberal; and
gymnastic and medicine are, as they ought to be, their mistresses. Now,
when I say that all this is equally true of the soul, you seem at first to
know and understand and assent to my words, and then a little while
afterwards you come repeating, Has not the State had good and noble
citizens? and when I ask you who they are, you reply, seemingly quite in
earnest, as if I had asked, Who are or have been good trainers?--and you
had replied, Thearion, the baker, Mithoecus, who wrote the Sicilian
cookery-book, Sarambus, the vintner: these are ministers of the body,
first-rate in their art; for the first makes admirable loaves, the second
excellent dishes, and the third capital wine;--to me these appear to be the
exact parallel of the statesmen whom you mention. Now you would not be
altogether pleased if I said to you, My friend, you know nothing of
gymnastics; those of whom you are speaking to me are only the ministers and
purveyors of luxury, who have no good or noble notions of their art, and
may very likely be filling and fattening men's bodies and gaining their
approval, although the result is that they lose their original flesh in the
long run, and become thinner than they were before; and yet they, in their
simplicity, will not attribute their diseases and loss of flesh to their
entertainers; but when in after years the unhealthy surfeit brings the
attendant penalty of disease, he who happens to be near them at the time,
and offers them advice, is accused and blamed by them, and if they could
they would do him some harm; while they proceed to eulogize the men who
have been the real authors of the mischief. And that, Callicles, is just
what you are now doing. You praise the men who feasted the citizens and
satisfied their desires, and people say that they have made the city great,
not seeing that the swollen and ulcerated condition of the State is to be
attributed to these elder statesmen; for they have filled the city full of
harbours and docks and walls and revenues and all that, and have left no
room for justice and temperance. And when the crisis of the disorder
comes, the people will blame the advisers of the hour, and applaud
Themistocles and Cimon and Pericles, who are the real authors of their
calamities; and if you are not careful they may assail you and my friend
Alcibiades, when they are losing not only their new acquisitions, but also
their original possessions; not that you are the authors of these
misfortunes of theirs, although you may perhaps be accessories to them. A
great piece of work is always being made, as I see and am told, now as of
old; about our statesmen. When the State treats any of them as
malefactors, I observe that there is a great uproar and indignation at the
supposed wrong which is done to them; 'after all their many services to the
State, that they should unjustly perish,'--so the tale runs. But the cry
is all a lie; for no statesman ever could be unjustly put to death by the
city of which he is the head. The case of the professed statesman is, I
believe, very much like that of the professed sophist; for the sophists,
although they are wise men, are nevertheless guilty of a strange piece of
folly; professing to be teachers of virtue, they will often accuse their
disciples of wronging them, and defrauding them of their pay, and showing
no gratitude for their services. Yet what can be more absurd than that men
who have become just and good, and whose injustice has been taken away from
them, and who have had justice implanted in them by their teachers, should
act unjustly by reason of the injustice which is not in them? Can anything
be more irrational, my friends, than this? You, Callicles, compel me to be
a mob-orator, because you will not answer.

CALLICLES: And you are the man who cannot speak unless there is some one
to answer?

SOCRATES: I suppose that I can; just now, at any rate, the speeches which
I am making are long enough because you refuse to answer me. But I adjure
you by the god of friendship, my good sir, do tell me whether there does
not appear to you to be a great inconsistency in saying that you have made
a man good, and then blaming him for being bad?

CALLICLES: Yes, it appears so to me.

SOCRATES: Do you never hear our professors of education speaking in this
inconsistent manner?

CALLICLES: Yes, but why talk of men who are good for nothing?

SOCRATES: I would rather say, why talk of men who profess to be rulers,
and declare that they are devoted to the improvement of the city, and
nevertheless upon occasion declaim against the utter vileness of the city:
--do you think that there is any difference between one and the other? My
good friend, the sophist and the rhetorician, as I was saying to Polus, are
the same, or nearly the same; but you ignorantly fancy that rhetoric is a
perfect thing, and sophistry a thing to be despised; whereas the truth is,
that sophistry is as much superior to rhetoric as legislation is to the
practice of law, or gymnastic to medicine. The orators and sophists, as I
am inclined to think, are the only class who cannot complain of the
mischief ensuing to themselves from that which they teach others, without
in the same breath accusing themselves of having done no good to those whom
they profess to benefit. Is not this a fact?

CALLICLES: Certainly it is.

SOCRATES: If they were right in saying that they make men better, then
they are the only class who can afford to leave their remuneration to those
who have been benefited by them. Whereas if a man has been benefited in
any other way, if, for example, he has been taught to run by a trainer, he
might possibly defraud him of his pay, if the trainer left the matter to
him, and made no agreement with him that he should receive money as soon as
he had given him the utmost speed; for not because of any deficiency of
speed do men act unjustly, but by reason of injustice.

CALLICLES: Very true.

SOCRATES: And he who removes injustice can be in no danger of being
treated unjustly: he alone can safely leave the honorarium to his pupils,
if he be really able to make them good--am I not right? (Compare Protag.)


SOCRATES: Then we have found the reason why there is no dishonour in a man
receiving pay who is called in to advise about building or any other art?

CALLICLES: Yes, we have found the reason.

SOCRATES: But when the point is, how a man may become best himself, and
best govern his family and state, then to say that you will give no advice
gratis is held to be dishonourable?


SOCRATES: And why? Because only such benefits call forth a desire to
requite them, and there is evidence that a benefit has been conferred when
the benefactor receives a return; otherwise not. Is this true?


SOCRATES: Then to which service of the State do you invite me? determine
for me. Am I to be the physician of the State who will strive and struggle
to make the Athenians as good as possible; or am I to be the servant and
flatterer of the State? Speak out, my good friend, freely and fairly as
you did at first and ought to do again, and tell me your entire mind.

CALLICLES: I say then that you should be the servant of the State.

SOCRATES: The flatterer? well, sir, that is a noble invitation.

CALLICLES: The Mysian, Socrates, or what you please. For if you refuse,
the consequences will be--

SOCRATES: Do not repeat the old story--that he who likes will kill me and
get my money; for then I shall have to repeat the old answer, that he will
be a bad man and will kill the good, and that the money will be of no use
to him, but that he will wrongly use that which he wrongly took, and if
wrongly, basely, and if basely, hurtfully.

CALLICLES: How confident you are, Socrates, that you will never come to
harm! you seem to think that you are living in another country, and can
never be brought into a court of justice, as you very likely may be brought
by some miserable and mean person.

SOCRATES: Then I must indeed be a fool, Callicles, if I do not know that
in the Athenian State any man may suffer anything. And if I am brought to
trial and incur the dangers of which you speak, he will be a villain who
brings me to trial--of that I am very sure, for no good man would accuse
the innocent. Nor shall I be surprised if I am put to death. Shall I tell
you why I anticipate this?

CALLICLES: By all means.

SOCRATES: I think that I am the only or almost the only Athenian living
who practises the true art of politics; I am the only politician of my
time. Now, seeing that when I speak my words are not uttered with any view
of gaining favour, and that I look to what is best and not to what is most
pleasant, having no mind to use those arts and graces which you recommend,
I shall have nothing to say in the justice court. And you might argue with
me, as I was arguing with Polus:--I shall be tried just as a physician
would be tried in a court of little boys at the indictment of the cook.
What would he reply under such circumstances, if some one were to accuse
him, saying, 'O my boys, many evil things has this man done to you: he is
the death of you, especially of the younger ones among you, cutting and
burning and starving and suffocating you, until you know not what to do; he
gives you the bitterest potions, and compels you to hunger and thirst. How
unlike the variety of meats and sweets on which I feasted you!' What do
you suppose that the physician would be able to reply when he found himself
in such a predicament? If he told the truth he could only say, 'All these
evil things, my boys, I did for your health,' and then would there not just
be a clamour among a jury like that? How they would cry out!

CALLICLES: I dare say.

SOCRATES: Would he not be utterly at a loss for a reply?

CALLICLES: He certainly would.

SOCRATES: And I too shall be treated in the same way, as I well know, if I
am brought before the court. For I shall not be able to rehearse to the
people the pleasures which I have procured for them, and which, although I
am not disposed to envy either the procurers or enjoyers of them, are
deemed by them to be benefits and advantages. And if any one says that I
corrupt young men, and perplex their minds, or that I speak evil of old
men, and use bitter words towards them, whether in private or public, it is
useless for me to reply, as I truly might:--'All this I do for the sake of
justice, and with a view to your interest, my judges, and to nothing else.'
And therefore there is no saying what may happen to me.

CALLICLES: And do you think, Socrates, that a man who is thus defenceless
is in a good position?

SOCRATES: Yes, Callicles, if he have that defence, which as you have often
acknowledged he should have--if he be his own defence, and have never said
or done anything wrong, either in respect of gods or men; and this has been
repeatedly acknowledged by us to be the best sort of defence. And if any
one could convict me of inability to defend myself or others after this
sort, I should blush for shame, whether I was convicted before many, or
before a few, or by myself alone; and if I died from want of ability to do
so, that would indeed grieve me. But if I died because I have no powers of
flattery or rhetoric, I am very sure that you would not find me repining at
death. For no man who is not an utter fool and coward is afraid of death
itself, but he is afraid of doing wrong. For to go to the world below
having one's soul full of injustice is the last and worst of all evils.
And in proof of what I say, if you have no objection, I should like to tell
you a story.

CALLICLES: Very well, proceed; and then we shall have done.

SOCRATES: Listen, then, as story-tellers say, to a very pretty tale, which
I dare say that you may be disposed to regard as a fable only, but which,
as I believe, is a true tale, for I mean to speak the truth. Homer tells
us (Il.), how Zeus and Poseidon and Pluto divided the empire which they
inherited from their father. Now in the days of Cronos there existed a law
respecting the destiny of man, which has always been, and still continues
to be in Heaven,--that he who has lived all his life in justice and
holiness shall go, when he is dead, to the Islands of the Blessed, and
dwell there in perfect happiness out of the reach of evil; but that he who
has lived unjustly and impiously shall go to the house of vengeance and
punishment, which is called Tartarus. And in the time of Cronos, and even
quite lately in the reign of Zeus, the judgment was given on the very day
on which the men were to die; the judges were alive, and the men were
alive; and the consequence was that the judgments were not well given.
Then Pluto and the authorities from the Islands of the Blessed came to
Zeus, and said that the souls found their way to the wrong places. Zeus
said: 'I shall put a stop to this; the judgments are not well given,
because the persons who are judged have their clothes on, for they are
alive; and there are many who, having evil souls, are apparelled in fair
bodies, or encased in wealth or rank, and, when the day of judgment
arrives, numerous witnesses come forward and testify on their behalf that
they have lived righteously. The judges are awed by them, and they
themselves too have their clothes on when judging; their eyes and ears and
their whole bodies are interposed as a veil before their own souls. All
this is a hindrance to them; there are the clothes of the judges and the
clothes of the judged.--What is to be done? I will tell you:--In the first
place, I will deprive men of the foreknowledge of death, which they possess
at present: this power which they have Prometheus has already received my
orders to take from them: in the second place, they shall be entirely
stripped before they are judged, for they shall be judged when they are
dead; and the judge too shall be naked, that is to say, dead--he with his
naked soul shall pierce into the other naked souls; and they shall die
suddenly and be deprived of all their kindred, and leave their brave attire
strewn upon the earth--conducted in this manner, the judgment will be just.
I knew all about the matter before any of you, and therefore I have made my
sons judges; two from Asia, Minos and Rhadamanthus, and one from Europe,
Aeacus. And these, when they are dead, shall give judgment in the meadow
at the parting of the ways, whence the two roads lead, one to the Islands
of the Blessed, and the other to Tartarus. Rhadamanthus shall judge those
who come from Asia, and Aeacus those who come from Europe. And to Minos I
shall give the primacy, and he shall hold a court of appeal, in case either
of the two others are in any doubt:--then the judgment respecting the last
journey of men will be as just as possible.'

From this tale, Callicles, which I have heard and believe, I draw the
following inferences:--Death, if I am right, is in the first place the
separation from one another of two things, soul and body; nothing else.
And after they are separated they retain their several natures, as in life;
the body keeps the same habit, and the results of treatment or accident are
distinctly visible in it: for example, he who by nature or training or
both, was a tall man while he was alive, will remain as he was, after he is
dead; and the fat man will remain fat; and so on; and the dead man, who in
life had a fancy to have flowing hair, will have flowing hair. And if he
was marked with the whip and had the prints of the scourge, or of wounds in
him when he was alive, you might see the same in the dead body; and if his
limbs were broken or misshapen when he was alive, the same appearance would
be visible in the dead. And in a word, whatever was the habit of the body
during life would be distinguishable after death, either perfectly, or in a
great measure and for a certain time. And I should imagine that this is
equally true of the soul, Callicles; when a man is stripped of the body,
all the natural or acquired affections of the soul are laid open to view.--
And when they come to the judge, as those from Asia come to Rhadamanthus,
he places them near him and inspects them quite impartially, not knowing
whose the soul is: perhaps he may lay hands on the soul of the great king,
or of some other king or potentate, who has no soundness in him, but his
soul is marked with the whip, and is full of the prints and scars of
perjuries and crimes with which each action has stained him, and he is all
crooked with falsehood and imposture, and has no straightness, because he
has lived without truth. Him Rhadamanthus beholds, full of all deformity
and disproportion, which is caused by licence and luxury and insolence and
incontinence, and despatches him ignominiously to his prison, and there he
undergoes the punishment which he deserves.

Now the proper office of punishment is twofold: he who is rightly punished
ought either to become better and profit by it, or he ought to be made an
example to his fellows, that they may see what he suffers, and fear and
become better. Those who are improved when they are punished by gods and
men, are those whose sins are curable; and they are improved, as in this
world so also in another, by pain and suffering; for there is no other way
in which they can be delivered from their evil. But they who have been
guilty of the worst crimes, and are incurable by reason of their crimes,
are made examples; for, as they are incurable, the time has passed at which
they can receive any benefit. They get no good themselves, but others get
good when they behold them enduring for ever the most terrible and painful
and fearful sufferings as the penalty of their sins--there they are,
hanging up as examples, in the prison-house of the world below, a spectacle
and a warning to all unrighteous men who come thither. And among them, as
I confidently affirm, will be found Archelaus, if Polus truly reports of
him, and any other tyrant who is like him. Of these fearful examples,
most, as I believe, are taken from the class of tyrants and kings and
potentates and public men, for they are the authors of the greatest and
most impious crimes, because they have the power. And Homer witnesses to
the truth of this; for they are always kings and potentates whom he has
described as suffering everlasting punishment in the world below: such
were Tantalus and Sisyphus and Tityus. But no one ever described
Thersites, or any private person who was a villain, as suffering
everlasting punishment, or as incurable. For to commit the worst crimes,
as I am inclined to think, was not in his power, and he was happier than
those who had the power. No, Callicles, the very bad men come from the
class of those who have power (compare Republic). And yet in that very
class there may arise good men, and worthy of all admiration they are, for
where there is great power to do wrong, to live and to die justly is a hard
thing, and greatly to be praised, and few there are who attain to this.
Such good and true men, however, there have been, and will be again, at
Athens and in other states, who have fulfilled their trust righteously; and
there is one who is quite famous all over Hellas, Aristeides, the son of
Lysimachus. But, in general, great men are also bad, my friend.

As I was saying, Rhadamanthus, when he gets a soul of the bad kind, knows
nothing about him, neither who he is, nor who his parents are; he knows
only that he has got hold of a villain; and seeing this, he stamps him as
curable or incurable, and sends him away to Tartarus, whither he goes and
receives his proper recompense. Or, again, he looks with admiration on the
soul of some just one who has lived in holiness and truth; he may have been
a private man or not; and I should say, Callicles, that he is most likely
to have been a philosopher who has done his own work, and not troubled
himself with the doings of other men in his lifetime; him Rhadamanthus
sends to the Islands of the Blessed. Aeacus does the same; and they both
have sceptres, and judge; but Minos alone has a golden sceptre and is
seated looking on, as Odysseus in Homer declares that he saw him:

'Holding a sceptre of gold, and giving laws to the dead.'

Now I, Callicles, am persuaded of the truth of these things, and I consider
how I shall present my soul whole and undefiled before the judge in that
day. Renouncing the honours at which the world aims, I desire only to know
the truth, and to live as well as I can, and, when I die, to die as well as
I can. And, to the utmost of my power, I exhort all other men to do the
same. And, in return for your exhortation of me, I exhort you also to take
part in the great combat, which is the combat of life, and greater than
every other earthly conflict. And I retort your reproach of me, and say,
that you will not be able to help yourself when the day of trial and
judgment, of which I was speaking, comes upon you; you will go before the
judge, the son of Aegina, and, when he has got you in his grip and is
carrying you off, you will gape and your head will swim round, just as mine
would in the courts of this world, and very likely some one will shamefully
box you on the ears, and put upon you any sort of insult.

Perhaps this may appear to you to be only an old wife's tale, which you
will contemn. And there might be reason in your contemning such tales, if
by searching we could find out anything better or truer: but now you see
that you and Polus and Gorgias, who are the three wisest of the Greeks of
our day, are not able to show that we ought to live any life which does not
profit in another world as well as in this. And of all that has been said,
nothing remains unshaken but the saying, that to do injustice is more to be
avoided than to suffer injustice, and that the reality and not the
appearance of virtue is to be followed above all things, as well in public
as in private life; and that when any one has been wrong in anything, he is
to be chastised, and that the next best thing to a man being just is that
he should become just, and be chastised and punished; also that he should
avoid all flattery of himself as well as of others, of the few or of the
many: and rhetoric and any other art should be used by him, and all his
actions should be done always, with a view to justice.

Follow me then, and I will lead you where you will be happy in life and
after death, as the argument shows. And never mind if some one despises
you as a fool, and insults you, if he has a mind; let him strike you, by
Zeus, and do you be of good cheer, and do not mind the insulting blow, for
you will never come to any harm in the practice of virtue, if you are a
really good and true man. When we have practised virtue together, we will
apply ourselves to politics, if that seems desirable, or we will advise
about whatever else may seem good to us, for we shall be better able to
judge then. In our present condition we ought not to give ourselves airs,
for even on the most important subjects we are always changing our minds;
so utterly stupid are we! Let us, then, take the argument as our guide,
which has revealed to us that the best way of life is to practise justice
and every virtue in life and death. This way let us go; and in this exhort
all men to follow, not in the way to which you trust and in which you
exhort me to follow you; for that way, Callicles, is nothing worth.

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