Book II
IX
 

At another time, as I am aware, he had heard a remark made by Crito[1] that life at Athens was no easy matter for a man who wished to mind his own affairs.

As, for instance, at this moment (Crito proceeded) there are a set of fellows threatening me with lawsuits, not because they have any misdemeanour to allege against me, but simply under the conviction that I will sooner pay a sum of money than be troubled further.

To which Socrates replied: Tell me, Crito, you keep dogs, do you not, to ward off wolves from your flocks?

Crito. Certainly; it pays to do so.

Socrates. Then why do you not keep a watchman willing and competent to ward off this pack of people who seek to injure you?

I should not at all mind (he answered), if I were not afraid he might turn again and rend his keeper.

What! (rejoined Socrates), do you not see that to gratify a man like yourself is far pleasanter as a matter of self-interest than to quarrel with you? You may be sure there are plenty of people here who will take the greatest pride in making you their friend.

Accordingly, they sought out Archedemus,[2] a practical man with a clever tongue in his head[3] but poor; the fact being, he was not the sort to make gain by hook or by crook, but a lover of honesty and of too good a nature himself to make his living as a pettifogger.[4] Crito would then take the opportunity of times of harvesting and put aside small presents for Achedemus of corn and oil, or wine, or wool, or any other of the farm produce forming the staple commodities of life, or he would invite him to a sacrificial feast, and otherwise pay him marked attention. Archedemus, feeling that he had in Crito's house a harbour of refuge, could not make too much of his patron, and ere long he had hunted up a long list of iniquities which could be lodged against Crito's pettifogging persecutors themselves, and not only their numerous crimes but their numerous enemies; and presently he prosecuted one of them in a public suit, where sentence would be given against him "what to suffer or what to pay."[5] The accused, conscious as he was of many rascally deeds, did all he could to be quit of Archedemus, but Archedemus was not to be got rid of. He held on until he had made the informer not only loose his hold of Crito but pay himself a sum of money; and now that Archedemus had achieved this and other similar victories, it is easy to guess what followed.[6] It was just as when some shepherd has got a very good dog, all the other shepherds wish to lodge their flocks in his neighbourhood that they too may reap the benefit of him. So a number of Crito's friends came begging him to allow Archedemus to be their guardian also, and Archedemus was overjoyed to do something to gratify Crito, and so it came about that not only Crito abode in peace, but his friends likewise. If any of those people with whom Archedemus was not on the best of terms were disposed to throw it in his teeth that he accepted his patron's benefits and paid in flatteries, he had a ready retort: "Answer me this question--which is the more scandalous, to accept kindnesses from honest folk and to repay them, with the result that I make such people my friends but quarrel with knaves, or to make enemies of honourable gentlemen[7] by attempts to do them wrong, with the off-chance indeed of winning the friendship of some scamps in return for my co-operation, but the certainty of losing in the tone of my acquaintances?"[8]

The net result of the whole proceedings was that Archedemus was now Crito's right hand,[9] and by the rest of Crito's friends he was held in honour.

[1] Crito. See above, I. ii. 48; Cobet, "P. X."; cf. Plat. "Rep." viii. 549 C.

[2] Archedemus, possibly the demagogue, "Hell." I. vii. 2. So Cobet, "P. X.," but see Grote, "H. G." viii. 245.

[3] Lit. "very capable of speech and action"--the writer's favourite formula for the well-trained Athenian who can speak fluently and reason clearly, and act energetically and opportunely.

[4] Reading {kai euphuesteros on} [or {e os}] . . . {apo sukophanton} [or {sukophantion}], after Cobet, "P. X." s.v. Archedemus. The MSS. give {kai ephe raston einai}--"nothing is easier," he said, "than recovering from sycophants."

[5] For this formula cf. "Econ." vi. 24. Cf. Plat. "Statesm." 299 A.

[6] {ede tote}. Cf. Plat. "Laws," vi. 778 C.

[7] Lit. the {kaloi kagathoi}, which like {khrestous} and {ponerous} has a political as well as an ethical meaning.

[8] Lit. "must associate with these (the {ponerois}) instead of those (the {kalois te kagathois}).

[9] He was No. 1--{eis}.