Euthydemus by Plato
CRITO: And do you mean, Socrates, that the youngster said all this?
SOCRATES: Are you incredulous, Crito?
CRITO: Indeed, I am; for if he did say so, then in my opinion he needs neither Euthydemus nor any one else to be his instructor.
SOCRATES: Perhaps I may have forgotten, and Ctesippus was the real answerer.
CRITO: Ctesippus! nonsense.
SOCRATES: All I know is that I heard these words, and that they were not spoken either by Euthydemus or Dionysodorus. I dare say, my good Crito, that they may have been spoken by some superior person: that I heard them I am certain.
CRITO: Yes, indeed, Socrates, by some one a good deal superior, as I should be disposed to think. But did you carry the search any further, and did you find the art which you were seeking?
SOCRATES: Find! my dear sir, no indeed. And we cut a poor figure; we were like children after larks, always on the point of catching the art, which was always getting away from us. But why should I repeat the whole story? At last we came to the kingly art, and enquired whether that gave and caused happiness, and then we got into a labyrinth, and when we thought we were at the end, came out again at the beginning, having still to seek as much as ever.
CRITO: How did that happen, Socrates?
SOCRATES: I will tell you; the kingly art was identified by us with the political.
CRITO: Well, and what came of that?
SOCRATES: To this royal or political art all the arts, including the art of the general, seemed to render up the supremacy, that being the only one which knew how to use what they produce. Here obviously was the very art which we were seeking--the art which is the source of good government, and which may be described, in the language of Aeschylus, as alone sitting at the helm of the vessel of state, piloting and governing all things, and utilizing them.
CRITO: And were you not right, Socrates?
SOCRATES: You shall judge, Crito, if you are willing to hear what followed; for we resumed the enquiry, and a question of this sort was asked: Does the kingly art, having this supreme authority, do anything for us? To be sure, was the answer. And would not you, Crito, say the same?
CRITO: Yes, I should.
SOCRATES: And what would you say that the kingly art does? If medicine were supposed to have supreme authority over the subordinate arts, and I were to ask you a similar question about that, you would say--it produces health?
CRITO: I should.
SOCRATES: And what of your own art of husbandry, supposing that to have supreme authority over the subject arts--what does that do? Does it not supply us with the fruits of the earth?
SOCRATES: And what does the kingly art do when invested with supreme power? Perhaps you may not be ready with an answer?
CRITO: Indeed I am not, Socrates.
SOCRATES: No more were we, Crito. But at any rate you know that if this is the art which we were seeking, it ought to be useful.
SOCRATES: And surely it ought to do us some good?
CRITO: Certainly, Socrates.
SOCRATES: And Cleinias and I had arrived at the conclusion that knowledge of some kind is the only good.
CRITO: Yes, that was what you were saying.
SOCRATES: All the other results of politics, and they are many, as for example, wealth, freedom, tranquillity, were neither good nor evil in themselves; but the political science ought to make us wise, and impart knowledge to us, if that is the science which is likely to do us good, and make us happy.
CRITO: Yes; that was the conclusion at which you had arrived, according to your report of the conversation.
SOCRATES: And does the kingly art make men wise and good?
CRITO: Why not, Socrates?
SOCRATES: What, all men, and in every respect? and teach them all the arts,--carpentering, and cobbling, and the rest of them?
CRITO: I think not, Socrates.
SOCRATES: But then what is this knowledge, and what are we to do with it? For it is not the source of any works which are neither good nor evil, and gives no knowledge, but the knowledge of itself; what then can it be, and what are we to do with it? Shall we say, Crito, that it is the knowledge by which we are to make other men good?
CRITO: By all means.
SOCRATES: And in what will they be good and useful? Shall we repeat that they will make others good, and that these others will make others again, without ever determining in what they are to be good; for we have put aside the results of politics, as they are called. This is the old, old song over again; and we are just as far as ever, if not farther, from the knowledge of the art or science of happiness.
CRITO: Indeed, Socrates, you do appear to have got into a great perplexity.
SOCRATES: Thereupon, Crito, seeing that I was on the point of shipwreck, I lifted up my voice, and earnestly entreated and called upon the strangers to save me and the youth from the whirlpool of the argument; they were our Castor and Pollux, I said, and they should be serious, and show us in sober earnest what that knowledge was which would enable us to pass the rest of our lives in happiness.
CRITO: And did Euthydemus show you this knowledge?
SOCRATES: Yes, indeed; he proceeded in a lofty strain to the following effect: Would you rather, Socrates, said he, that I should show you this knowledge about which you have been doubting, or shall I prove that you already have it?
What, I said, are you blessed with such a power as this?
Indeed I am.
Then I would much rather that you should prove me to have such a knowledge; at my time of life that will be more agreeable than having to learn.
Then tell me, he said, do you know anything?
Yes, I said, I know many things, but not anything of much importance.
That will do, he said: And would you admit that anything is what it is, and at the same time is not what it is?
And did you not say that you knew something?
If you know, you are knowing.
Certainly, of the knowledge which I have.
That makes no difference;--and must you not, if you are knowing, know all things?
Certainly not, I said, for there are many other things which I do not know.
And if you do not know, you are not knowing.
Yes, friend, of that which I do not know.
Still you are not knowing, and you said just now that you were knowing; and therefore you are and are not at the same time, and in reference to the same things.
A pretty clatter, as men say, Euthydemus, this of yours! and will you explain how I possess that knowledge for which we were seeking? Do you mean to say that the same thing cannot be and also not be; and therefore, since I know one thing, that I know all, for I cannot be knowing and not knowing at the same time, and if I know all things, then I must have the knowledge for which we are seeking--May I assume this to be your ingenious notion?
Out of your own mouth, Socrates, you are convicted, he said.
Well, but, Euthydemus, I said, has that never happened to you? for if I am only in the same case with you and our beloved Dionysodorus, I cannot complain. Tell me, then, you two, do you not know some things, and not know others?
Certainly not, Socrates, said Dionysodorus.
What do you mean, I said; do you know nothing?
Nay, he replied, we do know something.
Then, I said, you know all things, if you know anything?
Yes, all things, he said; and that is as true of you as of us.
O, indeed, I said, what a wonderful thing, and what a great blessing! And do all other men know all things or nothing?
Certainly, he replied; they cannot know some things, and not know others, and be at the same time knowing and not knowing.
Then what is the inference? I said.
They all know all things, he replied, if they know one thing.
O heavens, Dionysodorus, I said, I see now that you are in earnest; hardly have I got you to that point. And do you really and truly know all things, including carpentering and leather-cutting?
Certainly, he said.
And do you know stitching?
Yes, by the gods, we do, and cobbling, too.
And do you know things such as the numbers of the stars and of the sand?
Certainly; did you think we should say No to that?
By Zeus, said Ctesippus, interrupting, I only wish that you would give me some proof which would enable me to know whether you speak truly.
What proof shall I give you? he said.
Will you tell me how many teeth Euthydemus has? and Euthydemus shall tell how many teeth you have.
Will you not take our word that we know all things?
Certainly not, said Ctesippus: you must further tell us this one thing, and then we shall know that you are speak the truth; if you tell us the number, and we count them, and you are found to be right, we will believe the rest. They fancied that Ctesippus was making game of them, and they refused, and they would only say in answer to each of his questions, that they knew all things. For at last Ctesippus began to throw off all restraint; no question in fact was too bad for him; he would ask them if they knew the foulest things, and they, like wild boars, came rushing on his blows, and fearlessly replied that they did. At last, Crito, I too was carried away by my incredulity, and asked Euthydemus whether Dionysodorus could dance.
Certainly, he replied.
And can he vault among swords, and turn upon a wheel, at his age? has he got to such a height of skill as that?
He can do anything, he said.
And did you always know this?
Always, he said.
When you were children, and at your birth?
They both said that they did.
This we could not believe. And Euthydemus said: You are incredulous, Socrates.
Yes, I said, and I might well be incredulous, if I did not know you to be wise men.
But if you will answer, he said, I will make you confess to similar marvels.
Well, I said, there is nothing that I should like better than to be self- convicted of this, for if I am really a wise man, which I never knew before, and you will prove to me that I know and have always known all things, nothing in life would be a greater gain to me.
Answer then, he said.
Ask, I said, and I will answer.
Do you know something, Socrates, or nothing?
Something, I said.
And do you know with what you know, or with something else?
With what I know; and I suppose that you mean with my soul?
Are you not ashamed, Socrates, of asking a question when you are asked one?
Well, I said; but then what am I to do? for I will do whatever you bid; when I do not know what you are asking, you tell me to answer nevertheless, and not to ask again.
Why, you surely have some notion of my meaning, he said.
Yes, I replied.
Well, then, answer according to your notion of my meaning.
Yes, I said; but if the question which you ask in one sense is understood and answered by me in another, will that please you--if I answer what is not to the point?
That will please me very well; but will not please you equally well, as I imagine.
I certainly will not answer unless I understand you, I said.
You will not answer, he said, according to your view of the meaning, because you will be prating, and are an ancient.
Now I saw that he was getting angry with me for drawing distinctions, when he wanted to catch me in his springes of words. And I remembered that Connus was always angry with me when I opposed him, and then he neglected me, because he thought that I was stupid; and as I was intending to go to Euthydemus as a pupil, I reflected that I had better let him have his way, as he might think me a blockhead, and refuse to take me. So I said: You are a far better dialectician than myself, Euthydemus, for I have never made a profession of the art, and therefore do as you say; ask your questions once more, and I will answer.
Answer then, he said, again, whether you know what you know with something, or with nothing.
Yes, I said; I know with my soul.
The man will answer more than the question; for I did not ask you, he said, with what you know, but whether you know with something.
Again I replied, Through ignorance I have answered too much, but I hope that you will forgive me. And now I will answer simply that I always know what I know with something.
And is that something, he rejoined, always the same, or sometimes one thing, and sometimes another thing?
Always, I replied, when I know, I know with this.
Will you not cease adding to your answers?
My fear is that this word 'always' may get us into trouble.
You, perhaps, but certainly not us. And now answer: Do you always know with this?
Always; since I am required to withdraw the words 'when I know.'
You always know with this, or, always knowing, do you know some things with this, and some things with something else, or do you know all things with this?
All that I know, I replied, I know with this.
There again, Socrates, he said, the addition is superfluous.
Well, then, I said, I will take away the words 'that I know.'
Nay, take nothing away; I desire no favours of you; but let me ask: Would you be able to know all things, if you did not know all things?
And now, he said, you may add on whatever you like, for you confess that you know all things.
I suppose that is true, I said, if my qualification implied in the words 'that I know' is not allowed to stand; and so I do know all things.
And have you not admitted that you always know all things with that which you know, whether you make the addition of 'when you know them' or not? for you have acknowledged that you have always and at once known all things, that is to say, when you were a child, and at your birth, and when you were growing up, and before you were born, and before the heaven and earth existed, you knew all things, if you always know them; and I swear that you shall always continue to know all things, if I am of the mind to make you.
But I hope that you will be of that mind, reverend Euthydemus, I said, if you are really speaking the truth, and yet I a little doubt your power to make good your words unless you have the help of your brother Dionysodorus; then you may do it. Tell me now, both of you, for although in the main I cannot doubt that I really do know all things, when I am told so by men of your prodigious wisdom--how can I say that I know such things, Euthydemus, as that the good are unjust; come, do I know that or not?
Certainly, you know that.
What do I know?
That the good are not unjust.
Quite true, I said; and that I have always known; but the question is, where did I learn that the good are unjust?
Nowhere, said Dionysodorus.
Then, I said, I do not know this.
You are ruining the argument, said Euthydemus to Dionysodorus; he will be proved not to know, and then after all he will be knowing and not knowing at the same time.
I turned to the other, and said, What do you think, Euthydemus? Does not your omniscient brother appear to you to have made a mistake?
What, replied Dionysodorus in a moment; am I the brother of Euthydemus?
Thereupon I said, Please not to interrupt, my good friend, or prevent Euthydemus from proving to me that I know the good to be unjust; such a lesson you might at least allow me to learn.
You are running away, Socrates, said Dionysodorus, and refusing to answer.
No wonder, I said, for I am not a match for one of you, and a fortiori I must run away from two. I am no Heracles; and even Heracles could not fight against the Hydra, who was a she-Sophist, and had the wit to shoot up many new heads when one of them was cut off; especially when he saw a second monster of a sea-crab, who was also a Sophist, and appeared to have newly arrived from a sea-voyage, bearing down upon him from the left, opening his mouth and biting. When the monster was growing troublesome he called Iolaus, his nephew, to his help, who ably succoured him; but if my Iolaus, who is my brother Patrocles (the statuary), were to come, he would only make a bad business worse.
And now that you have delivered yourself of this strain, said Dionysodorus, will you inform me whether Iolaus was the nephew of Heracles any more than he is yours?
I suppose that I had best answer you, Dionysodorus, I said, for you will insist on asking--that I pretty well know--out of envy, in order to prevent me from learning the wisdom of Euthydemus.
Then answer me, he said.
Well then, I said, I can only reply that Iolaus was not my nephew at all, but the nephew of Heracles; and his father was not my brother Patrocles, but Iphicles, who has a name rather like his, and was the brother of Heracles.
And is Patrocles, he said, your brother?
Yes, I said, he is my half-brother, the son of my mother, but not of my father.
Then he is and is not your brother.
Not by the same father, my good man, I said, for Chaeredemus was his father, and mine was Sophroniscus.
And was Sophroniscus a father, and Chaeredemus also?
Yes, I said; the former was my father, and the latter his.
Then, he said, Chaeredemus is not a father.
He is not my father, I said.
But can a father be other than a father? or are you the same as a stone?
I certainly do not think that I am a stone, I said, though I am afraid that you may prove me to be one.
Are you not other than a stone?
And being other than a stone, you are not a stone; and being other than gold, you are not gold?
And so Chaeredemus, he said, being other than a father, is not a father?
I suppose that he is not a father, I replied.
For if, said Euthydemus, taking up the argument, Chaeredemus is a father, then Sophroniscus, being other than a father, is not a father; and you, Socrates, are without a father.
Ctesippus, here taking up the argument, said: And is not your father in the same case, for he is other than my father?
Assuredly not, said Euthydemus.
Then he is the same?
He is the same.
I cannot say that I like the connection; but is he only my father, Euthydemus, or is he the father of all other men?
Of all other men, he replied. Do you suppose the same person to be a father and not a father?
Certainly, I did so imagine, said Ctesippus.
And do you suppose that gold is not gold, or that a man is not a man?
They are not 'in pari materia,' Euthydemus, said Ctesippus, and you had better take care, for it is monstrous to suppose that your father is the father of all.
But he is, he replied.
What, of men only, said Ctesippus, or of horses and of all other animals?
Of all, he said.
And your mother, too, is the mother of all?
Yes, our mother too.
Yes; and your mother has a progeny of sea-urchins then?
Yes; and yours, he said.
And gudgeons and puppies and pigs are your brothers?
And yours too.
And your papa is a dog?
And so is yours, he said.
If you will answer my questions, said Dionysodorus, I will soon extract the same admissions from you, Ctesippus. You say that you have a dog.
Yes, a villain of a one, said Ctesippus.
And he has puppies?
Yes, and they are very like himself.
And the dog is the father of them?
Yes, he said, I certainly saw him and the mother of the puppies come together.
And is he not yours?
To be sure he is.
Then he is a father, and he is yours; ergo, he is your father, and the puppies are your brothers.
Let me ask you one little question more, said Dionysodorus, quickly interposing, in order that Ctesippus might not get in his word: You beat this dog?
Ctesippus said, laughing, Indeed I do; and I only wish that I could beat you instead of him.
Then you beat your father, he said.
I should have far more reason to beat yours, said Ctesippus; what could he have been thinking of when he begat such wise sons? much good has this father of you and your brethren the puppies got out of this wisdom of yours.
But neither he nor you, Ctesippus, have any need of much good.
And have you no need, Euthydemus? he said.
Neither I nor any other man; for tell me now, Ctesippus, if you think it good or evil for a man who is sick to drink medicine when he wants it; or to go to war armed rather than unarmed.
Good, I say. And yet I know that I am going to be caught in one of your charming puzzles.
That, he replied, you will discover, if you answer; since you admit medicine to be good for a man to drink, when wanted, must it not be good for him to drink as much as possible; when he takes his medicine, a cartload of hellebore will not be too much for him?
Ctesippus said: Quite so, Euthydemus, that is to say, if he who drinks is as big as the statue of Delphi.
And seeing that in war to have arms is a good thing, he ought to have as many spears and shields as possible?
Very true, said Ctesippus; and do you think, Euthydemus, that he ought to have one shield only, and one spear?
And would you arm Geryon and Briareus in that way? Considering that you and your companion fight in armour, I thought that you would have known better...Here Euthydemus held his peace, but Dionysodorus returned to the previous answer of Ctesippus and said:--
Do you not think that the possession of gold is a good thing?
Yes, said Ctesippus, and the more the better.
And to have money everywhere and always is a good?
Certainly, a great good, he said.
And you admit gold to be a good?
Certainly, he replied.
And ought not a man then to have gold everywhere and always, and as much as possible in himself, and may he not be deemed the happiest of men who has three talents of gold in his belly, and a talent in his pate, and a stater of gold in either eye?
Yes, Euthydemus, said Ctesippus; and the Scythians reckon those who have gold in their own skulls to be the happiest and bravest of men (that is only another instance of your manner of speaking about the dog and father), and what is still more extraordinary, they drink out of their own skulls gilt, and see the inside of them, and hold their own head in their hands.
And do the Scythians and others see that which has the quality of vision, or that which has not? said Euthydemus.
That which has the quality of vision clearly.
And you also see that which has the quality of vision? he said. (Note: the ambiguity of (Greek), 'things visible and able to see,' (Greek), 'the speaking of the silent,' the silent denoting either the speaker or the subject of the speech, cannot be perfectly rendered in English. Compare Aristot. Soph. Elenchi (Poste's translation):--
'Of ambiguous propositions the following are instances:--
'I hope that you the enemy may slay.
'Whom one knows, he knows. Either the person knowing or the person known is here affirmed to know.
'What one sees, that one sees: one sees a pillar: ergo, that one pillar sees.
'What you are holding, that you are: you are holding a stone: ergo, a stone you are.
'Is a speaking of the silent possible? "The silent" denotes either the speaker are the subject of speech.
'There are three kinds of ambiguity of term or proposition. The first is when there is an equal linguistic propriety in several interpretations; the second when one is improper but customary; the third when the ambiguity arises in the combination of elements that are in themselves unambiguous, as in "knowing letters." "Knowing" and "letters" are perhaps separately unambiguous, but in combination may imply either that the letters are known, or that they themselves have knowledge. Such are the modes in which propositions and terms may be ambiguous.'
Yes, I do.
Then do you see our garments?
Then our garments have the quality of vision.
They can see to any extent, said Ctesippus.
What can they see?
Nothing; but you, my sweet man, may perhaps imagine that they do not see; and certainly, Euthydemus, you do seem to me to have been caught napping when you were not asleep, and that if it be possible to speak and say nothing--you are doing so.
And may there not be a silence of the speaker? said Dionysodorus.
Impossible, said Ctesippus.
Or a speaking of the silent?
That is still more impossible, he said.
But when you speak of stones, wood, iron bars, do you not speak of the silent?
Not when I pass a smithy; for then the iron bars make a tremendous noise and outcry if they are touched: so that here your wisdom is strangely mistaken; please, however, to tell me how you can be silent when speaking (I thought that Ctesippus was put upon his mettle because Cleinias was present).
When you are silent, said Euthydemus, is there not a silence of all things?
Yes, he said.
But if speaking things are included in all things, then the speaking are silent.
What, said Ctesippus; then all things are not silent?
Certainly not, said Euthydemus.
Then, my good friend, do they all speak?
Yes; those which speak.
Nay, said Ctesippus, but the question which I ask is whether all things are silent or speak?
Neither and both, said Dionysodorus, quickly interposing; I am sure that you will be 'non-plussed' at that answer.
Here Ctesippus, as his manner was, burst into a roar of laughter; he said, That brother of yours, Euthydemus, has got into a dilemma; all is over with him. This delighted Cleinias, whose laughter made Ctesippus ten times as uproarious; but I cannot help thinking that the rogue must have picked up this answer from them; for there has been no wisdom like theirs in our time. Why do you laugh, Cleinias, I said, at such solemn and beautiful things?
Why, Socrates, said Dionysodorus, did you ever see a beautiful thing?
Yes, Dionysodorus, I replied, I have seen many.
Were they other than the beautiful, or the same as the beautiful?
Now I was in a great quandary at having to answer this question, and I thought that I was rightly served for having opened my mouth at all: I said however, They are not the same as absolute beauty, but they have beauty present with each of them.
And are you an ox because an ox is present with you, or are you Dionysodorus, because Dionysodorus is present with you?
God forbid, I replied.
But how, he said, by reason of one thing being present with another, will one thing be another?
Is that your difficulty? I said. For I was beginning to imitate their skill, on which my heart was set.
Of course, he replied, I and all the world are in a difficulty about the non-existent.
What do you mean, Dionysodorus? I said. Is not the honourable honourable and the base base?
That, he said, is as I please.
And do you please?
Yes, he said.
And you will admit that the same is the same, and the other other; for surely the other is not the same; I should imagine that even a child will hardly deny the other to be other. But I think, Dionysodorus, that you must have intentionally missed the last question; for in general you and your brother seem to me to be good workmen in your own department, and to do the dialectician's business excellently well.
What, said he, is the business of a good workman? tell me, in the first place, whose business is hammering?
And whose the making of pots?
And who has to kill and skin and mince and boil and roast?
The cook, I said.
And if a man does his business he does rightly?
And the business of the cook is to cut up and skin; you have admitted that?
Yes, I have admitted that, but you must not be too hard upon me.
Then if some one were to kill, mince, boil, roast the cook, he would do his business, and if he were to hammer the smith, and make a pot of the potter, he would do their business.
Poseidon, I said, this is the crown of wisdom; can I ever hope to have such wisdom of my own?
And would you be able, Socrates, to recognize this wisdom when it has become your own?
Certainly, I said, if you will allow me.
What, he said, do you think that you know what is your own?
Yes, I do, subject to your correction; for you are the bottom, and Euthydemus is the top, of all my wisdom.
Is not that which you would deem your own, he said, that which you have in your own power, and which you are able to use as you would desire, for example, an ox or a sheep--would you not think that which you could sell and give and sacrifice to any god whom you pleased, to be your own, and that which you could not give or sell or sacrifice you would think not to be in your own power?
Yes, I said (for I was certain that something good would come out of the questions, which I was impatient to hear); yes, such things, and such things only are mine.
Yes, he said, and you would mean by animals living beings?
Yes, I said.
You agree then, that those animals only are yours with which you have the power to do all these things which I was just naming?
Then, after a pause, in which he seemed to be lost in the contemplation of something great, he said: Tell me, Socrates, have you an ancestral Zeus? Here, anticipating the final move, like a person caught in a net, who gives a desperate twist that he may get away, I said: No, Dionysodorus, I have not.
What a miserable man you must be then, he said; you are not an Athenian at all if you have no ancestral gods or temples, or any other mark of gentility.
Nay, Dionysodorus, I said, do not be rough; good words, if you please; in the way of religion I have altars and temples, domestic and ancestral, and all that other Athenians have.
And have not other Athenians, he said, an ancestral Zeus?
That name, I said, is not to be found among the Ionians, whether colonists or citizens of Athens; an ancestral Apollo there is, who is the father of Ion, and a family Zeus, and a Zeus guardian of the phratry, and an Athene guardian of the phratry. But the name of ancestral Zeus is unknown to us.
No matter, said Dionysodorus, for you admit that you have Apollo, Zeus, and Athene.
Certainly, I said.
And they are your gods, he said.
Yes, I said, my lords and ancestors.
At any rate they are yours, he said, did you not admit that?
I did, I said; what is going to happen to me?
And are not these gods animals? for you admit that all things which have life are animals; and have not these gods life?
They have life, I said.
Then are they not animals?
They are animals, I said.
And you admitted that of animals those are yours which you could give away or sell or offer in sacrifice, as you pleased?
I did admit that, Euthydemus, and I have no way of escape.
Well then, said he, if you admit that Zeus and the other gods are yours, can you sell them or give them away or do what you will with them, as you would with other animals?
At this I was quite struck dumb, Crito, and lay prostrate. Ctesippus came to the rescue.
Bravo, Heracles, brave words, said he.
Bravo Heracles, or is Heracles a Bravo? said Dionysodorus.
Poseidon, said Ctesippus, what awful distinctions. I will have no more of them; the pair are invincible.
Then, my dear Crito, there was universal applause of the speakers and their words, and what with laughing and clapping of hands and rejoicings the two men were quite overpowered; for hitherto their partisans only had cheered at each successive hit, but now the whole company shouted with delight until the columns of the Lyceum returned the sound, seeming to sympathize in their joy. To such a pitch was I affected myself, that I made a speech, in which I acknowledged that I had never seen the like of their wisdom; I was their devoted servant, and fell to praising and admiring of them. What marvellous dexterity of wit, I said, enabled you to acquire this great perfection in such a short time? There is much, indeed, to admire in your words, Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, but there is nothing that I admire more than your magnanimous disregard of any opinion--whether of the many, or of the grave and reverend seigniors--you regard only those who are like yourselves. And I do verily believe that there are few who are like you, and who would approve of such arguments; the majority of mankind are so ignorant of their value, that they would be more ashamed of employing them in the refutation of others than of being refuted by them. I must further express my approval of your kind and public-spirited denial of all differences, whether of good and evil, white or black, or any other; the result of which is that, as you say, every mouth is sewn up, not excepting your own, which graciously follows the example of others; and thus all ground of offence is taken away. But what appears to me to be more than all is, that this art and invention of yours has been so admirably contrived by you, that in a very short time it can be imparted to any one. I observed that Ctesippus learned to imitate you in no time. Now this quickness of attainment is an excellent thing; but at the same time I would advise you not to have any more public entertainments; there is a danger that men may undervalue an art which they have so easy an opportunity of acquiring; the exhibition would be best of all, if the discussion were confined to your two selves; but if there must be an audience, let him only be present who is willing to pay a handsome fee;--you should be careful of this;--and if you are wise, you will also bid your disciples discourse with no man but you and themselves. For only what is rare is valuable; and 'water,' which, as Pindar says, is the 'best of all things,' is also the cheapest. And now I have only to request that you will receive Cleinias and me among your pupils.
Such was the discussion, Crito; and after a few more words had passed between us we went away. I hope that you will come to them with me, since they say that they are able to teach any one who will give them money; no age or want of capacity is an impediment. And I must repeat one thing which they said, for your especial benefit,--that the learning of their art did not at all interfere with the business of money-making.
CRITO: Truly, Socrates, though I am curious and ready to learn, yet I fear that I am not like-minded with Euthydemus, but one of the other sort, who, as you were saying, would rather be refuted by such arguments than use them in refutation of others. And though I may appear ridiculous in venturing to advise you, I think that you may as well hear what was said to me by a man of very considerable pretensions--he was a professor of legal oratory-- who came away from you while I was walking up and down. 'Crito,' said he to me, 'are you giving no attention to these wise men?' 'No, indeed,' I said to him; 'I could not get within hearing of them--there was such a crowd.' 'You would have heard something worth hearing if you had.' 'What was that?' I said. 'You would have heard the greatest masters of the art of rhetoric discoursing.' 'And what did you think of them?' I said. 'What did I think of them?' he said:--'theirs was the sort of discourse which anybody might hear from men who were playing the fool, and making much ado about nothing.' That was the expression which he used. 'Surely,' I said, 'philosophy is a charming thing.' 'Charming!' he said; 'what simplicity! philosophy is nought; and I think that if you had been present you would have been ashamed of your friend--his conduct was so very strange in placing himself at the mercy of men who care not what they say, and fasten upon every word. And these, as I was telling you, are supposed to be the most eminent professors of their time. But the truth is, Crito, that the study itself and the men themselves are utterly mean and ridiculous.' Now censure of the pursuit, Socrates, whether coming from him or from others, appears to me to be undeserved; but as to the impropriety of holding a public discussion with such men, there, I confess that, in my opinion, he was in the right.
SOCRATES: O Crito, they are marvellous men; but what was I going to say? First of all let me know;--What manner of man was he who came up to you and censured philosophy; was he an orator who himself practises in the courts, or an instructor of orators, who makes the speeches with which they do battle?
CRITO: He was certainly not an orator, and I doubt whether he had ever been into court; but they say that he knows the business, and is a clever man, and composes wonderful speeches.
SOCRATES: Now I understand, Crito; he is one of an amphibious class, whom I was on the point of mentioning--one of those whom Prodicus describes as on the border-ground between philosophers and statesmen--they think that they are the wisest of all men, and that they are generally esteemed the wisest; nothing but the rivalry of the philosophers stands in their way; and they are of the opinion that if they can prove the philosophers to be good for nothing, no one will dispute their title to the palm of wisdom, for that they are themselves really the wisest, although they are apt to be mauled by Euthydemus and his friends, when they get hold of them in conversation. This opinion which they entertain of their own wisdom is very natural; for they have a certain amount of philosophy, and a certain amount of political wisdom; there is reason in what they say, for they argue that they have just enough of both, and so they keep out of the way of all risks and conflicts and reap the fruits of their wisdom.
CRITO: What do you say of them, Socrates? There is certainly something specious in that notion of theirs.
SOCRATES: Yes, Crito, there is more speciousness than truth; they cannot be made to understand the nature of intermediates. For all persons or things, which are intermediate between two other things, and participate in both of them--if one of these two things is good and the other evil, are better than the one and worse than the other; but if they are in a mean between two good things which do not tend to the same end, they fall short of either of their component elements in the attainment of their ends. Only in the case when the two component elements which do not tend to the same end are evil is the participant better than either. Now, if philosophy and political action are both good, but tend to different ends, and they participate in both, and are in a mean between them, then they are talking nonsense, for they are worse than either; or, if the one be good and the other evil, they are better than the one and worse than the other; only on the supposition that they are both evil could there be any truth in what they say. I do not think that they will admit that their two pursuits are either wholly or partly evil; but the truth is, that these philosopher- politicians who aim at both fall short of both in the attainment of their respective ends, and are really third, although they would like to stand first. There is no need, however, to be angry at this ambition of theirs-- which may be forgiven; for every man ought to be loved who says and manfully pursues and works out anything which is at all like wisdom: at the same time we shall do well to see them as they really are.
CRITO: I have often told you, Socrates, that I am in a constant difficulty about my two sons. What am I to do with them? There is no hurry about the younger one, who is only a child; but the other, Critobulus, is getting on, and needs some one who will improve him. I cannot help thinking, when I hear you talk, that there is a sort of madness in many of our anxieties about our children:--in the first place, about marrying a wife of good family to be the mother of them, and then about heaping up money for them-- and yet taking no care about their education. But then again, when I contemplate any of those who pretend to educate others, I am amazed. To me, if I am to confess the truth, they all seem to be such outrageous beings: so that I do not know how I can advise the youth to study philosophy.
SOCRATES: Dear Crito, do you not know that in every profession the inferior sort are numerous and good for nothing, and the good are few and beyond all price: for example, are not gymnastic and rhetoric and money- making and the art of the general, noble arts?
CRITO: Certainly they are, in my judgment.
SOCRATES: Well, and do you not see that in each of these arts the many are ridiculous performers?
CRITO: Yes, indeed, that is very true.
SOCRATES: And will you on this account shun all these pursuits yourself and refuse to allow them to your son?
CRITO: That would not be reasonable, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Do you then be reasonable, Crito, and do not mind whether the teachers of philosophy are good or bad, but think only of philosophy herself. Try and examine her well and truly, and if she be evil seek to turn away all men from her, and not your sons only; but if she be what I believe that she is, then follow her and serve her, you and your house, as the saying is, and be of good cheer.