Book I

Let us here turn and consider whether by deterring his associates from quackery and false seeming he did not directly stimulate them to the pursuit of virtue.[1] He used often to say there was no better road to renown than the one by which a man became good at that wherein he desired to be reputed good.[2] The truth of the concept he enforced as follows: "Let us reflect on what a man would be driven to do who wanted to be thought a good flute player, without really being so. He would be forced to imitate the good flute player in the externals of his art, would he not? and first or all, seeing that these artists always have a splendid equipment,[3] and travel about with a long train of attendants, he must have the same; in the next place, they can command the plaudits of a multitude, he therefore must pack a conclave of clackers. But one thing is clear: nothing must induce him to give a performance, or he will be exposed at once, and find himself a laughing-stock not only as a sorry sort of flute player, but as a wretched imposter. And now he has a host of expenses to meet; and not one advantage to be reaped; and worse than all his evil reputation. What is left him but to lead a life stale and unprofitable, the scorn and mockery of men? Let us try another case. Suppose a man wished to be thought a good general or a good pilot, though he were really nothing of the sort, let us picture to our minds how it will fare with him. Of two misfortunes one: either with a strong desire to be thought proficient in these matters, he will fail to get others to agree with him, which will be bad enough; or he will succeed, with worse result; since it stands to reason that anyone appointed to work a vessel or lead an army without the requisite knowledge will speedily ruin a number of people whom he least desires to hurt, and will make but a sorry exit from the stage himself." Thus first by one instance and then another would he demonstrate the unprofitableness of trying to appear rich, or courageous, or strong, without really being the thing pretended. "You are sure sooner or later to have commands laid upon you beyond your power to execute, and failing just where you are credited with capacity, the world will give you no commiseration." "I call that man a cheat, and a great cheat too," he would say, "who gets money or goods out of some one by persuasion, and defrauds him; but of all imposters he surely is the biggest who can delude people into thinking that he is fit to lead the state, when all the while he is a worthless creature."[4]

[1] {apotrepon proutrepen}. See K. Joel, op. cit. p. 450 foll.

[2] Cf. "Cyrop." I. vi. 22.

[3] Or, "furniture of the finest," like Arion's in Herod. i. 24. Schneid. cf. Demosth. 565. 6.

[4] Here follows the sentence [{emoi men oun edokei kai tou alazoneuesthai apotrepein tous sunontas toiade dialegomenos}], which, for the sake of convenience, I have attached to the first sentence of Bk. II. ch. i. [{edokei de moi . . . ponou.}] I believe that the commentators are right in bracketing both one and the other as editorial interpolations.