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Ion.—By far, O Socrates.

Socrates—And you are also the most excellent general among the Greeks!

low—I am. I learned the art from Homer.

Socrates.—How is it then, by Jupiter, that being both the best general and the best rhapsodist among us, that you continually go about Greece rhapsodising, and never lead our armies j Does it seem to you that the Greeks greatly need golden-crowned rhapsodists, and have no want of generals t

Ion.—My native town, 0 Socrates, is ruled by yours, and requires no general for her wars ;—and neither will your city nor the Lacedemonians elect me to lead their armies—you think your own generals sufficient.

Socrates.—My good Ion, are you acquainted with ApoUodorus the Cyzicenion i

Ion.—What do you mean?

Socrates.—He whom, though a stranger, the Athenians often elected general; and Phanosthenes the Andrian, and Heraclides the Clazomenian, all foreigners, but whom this city has chosen, as being great men, to lead its armies, and to fill other high offices. Would not, therefore, Ion the Ephesian be elected and honoured if he were esteemed capable i Were not the Ephesians originally from

Athens, and is Ephesusthe least of cities 1 But if you spoke true, Ion, and praise Homer according to art and knowledge, you have deceived me,— since you declared that you were learned on the subject of Homer, and would communicate your knowledge to me—but you have disappointed me, and are far from keeping your word. For you will not explain in what you are so excessively clever, though I greatly desire to learn ; but, as various as Proteus, you change from one thing to another, and to escape at last, you disappear in the form of a general, without disclosing your Homeric wisdom. If, therefore, you possess the learning which you promised to expound on the subject of Homer, you deceive me and are false. But if you are eloquent on the subject of this Poet, not through knowledge, but by inspiration, being possessed by him, ignorant the while of the wisdom and beauty you display, then I allow that you are no deceiver. Choose then whether you will be considered false or inspired!

Ion.—It is far better, 0 Socrates, to bo thought inspired.

Socrates—It is better both for you and for us, 0 Ion, to say that you are the inspired, and not the learned, eulogist of Homer.


9 jfraamnit

Socrates and Menexenus. Socrates.—Whence contest thou,0 Menexenus 1 from the forum!

Menexenus.—Even so ; and from the senate

Socrates.—What was thy business with the senate I Art thou persuaded that thou hast attained to that perfection of discipline and philosophy, from which thou mayest aspire to undertake greater matters 1 Wouldst thou, at thine age, my wonderful friend, assume to thyself the government of us who are thine elders, lest thy family should at any time fail in affording us a protector 1 Menexenus.—If thou, 0 Socrates, shouldst permit and counsel me to enter into public life, I would earnestly endeavour to fit myself for the attempt. If otherwise, I would abstain. On the present i occasion, I went to the senate-house, merely from having heard that the senate was about to elect one to speak concerning those who are dead. Thou

knowest that the celebration of their funeral approaches!

Socrates.—Assuredly. But whom have they chosen!

Menexenus.—The election is deferred until tomorrow ; I imagine that either Dion or Archinus will be chosen.

Socrates.—In truth, Menexenus, the condition of him who dies in battle is, in every respect, fortunate and glorious. If he is poor, he is conducted to his tomb with a magnificent and honourable funeral, amidst the praises of all; if even he were a coward, his name is included in a panegyric pronounced by the most learned men ; from which all the vulgar expressions, which unpremeditated composition might admit, have been excluded by the careful labour of leisure; who praise so admirably, enlarging upon every topic remotely, or immediately connected with the subject, and blending so eloquent a variety of expressions, that, praising in every manner the state of which we are citizens, and those who have perished in battle, and the ancestors who preceded our generation, and ourselves who yet live, they steal away our spirits as with enchantment. Whilst I listen to their praises, 0 Menexenus, I am penetrated with a very lofty conception of myself, and overcome by their flatteries. I appear to myself immeasurably more honourable and generous than before, and many of the strangers who are accustomed to accompany me, regard me with additional veneration, after having heard these relations; they seem to consider the whole state, including me, much more worthy of admiration, after they have been soothed into persuasion by the orator. The opinion thus inspired of my own majesty will last me more than three days sometimes, and the penetrating melody of the words descends through the ears into the mind, and clings to it; so that it is often three or four days before I come to my senses sufficiently to perceive in what part of the world I am, or succeed in persuading myself that I do not inhabit one of the islands of the blessed. So skilful are these orators of ours.

Menexenus.—Thou always laughest at the orators, 0 Socrates. On the present occasion, however, the unforeseen election will preclude the person chosen from the advantages of a preconcerted speech ; the speaker will probably be reduced to the necessity of extemporising.

Socrates.—How so, my good friend! Every one of the candidates has, without doubt, his oration prepared; and if not, there were little difficulty, on this occasion, of inventing an unpremeditated speech. If, indeed, the question were of Athenians, who should speak in the Peloponnesus ; or of Peloponnesians, who should speak at Athens, an orator who would persuade and be applauded, must employ all the resources of his skill. But to the orator who contends for the approbation of those whom he praises, success will be little difficult.

Menexenus.—Is that thy opinion, 0 Socrates?

Socrates.—In truth it is.

Menexenus.—Shouldst thou consider thyself competent to pronounce this oration, if thou shouldst be chosen by the senate!

Socrates.—There would be nothing astonishing if I should consider myself equal to such an undertaking. My mistress in oratory was perfect in the science which she taught, and had formed many other excellent orators, and one of the most

eminent among the Greeks, Pericles, the son of Xantippus.

M Enexencs.—Who is she! Assuredly thou meanest Aspasia.

Socrates.—Aspasia, and Connus the son of Metrobius, the two instructors. From the former of these I learned rhetoric, and from the latter music. There would be nothing wonderful if a man so educated should be capable of great energy of speech. A person who should have been instructed in a manner totally different from me; who should have learned rhetoric from Antiphon the son of Rhamnusius, and music from Lampseg, would be competent to succeed in such an attempt as praising the Athenians to the Athenians.

Menexenus.—And what shouldst thou have to say, if thou wert chosen to pronounce the oration!

Socrates.—Of my own, probably nothing. But yesterday I heard Aspasia declaim a funeral oration over these same persons. She had heard, at thou sayest, that the Athenians were about to choose an orator, and she took the occasion rf suggesting a series of topics proper for such an orator to select; in part extemporaneously, and is part such as she had already prepared. I think n probable that she composed the oration by interweaving such fragments of oratory as Pericles might have left.

Menexenus.—Rememberest thou what Aspasia said I

Socrates.—Unless I am greatly mistaken. I learned it from her; and she is so good a schoolmistress, that I should have been beaten if I had not been perfect in my lesson.

Menexenus—Why not repeat it to me!

Socrates.—I fear lest my mistress be angrr, should I publish her discourse.

Menexenus.—O, fear not At least detrnr a discourse ; you will do what is exceedingly d<s lightful to me, whether it be of Aspasia or any other. I entreat you to do me this pleasure.

Socrates But you will laugh at me, who, beir;

old, attempt to repeat a pleasant discourse.

Menexenus.—O no, Socrates ; I entreat yon to speak, however it may be.

Socrates.—I see that I must do what you require. In a little while, if you should ask me to strip naked and dance, I shall be unable to refus* you, at least, if wo arc alone. Now, listen. Sb«spoke thus, if I recollect, beginning with the dead, in whose honour the oration is supposed to bar* been delivered.



I. But it would be almost impossible to build your city in such a situation that it would need no imposts.—Impossible.—Other persons would then be required, who might undertake to conduct from another city those things of which they stood in need.—Certainly.—But the merchant who should return to his own city, without any of those articles which it needed, would return emptyhanded. It will be necessary, therefore, not only to produce a sufficient supply, but such articles, both in quantity and in kind, as may be required to remunerate those who conduct the imports. There will be needed then more husbandmen, and other artificers, in our city. There will be needed also other persons who will undertake the conveyance of the imports and the exports, and these persons are called merchants. If the commerce which these necessities produce is carried on by sea, other persons will be required who are accustomed to nautical affairs. And, in the city itself, how shall the products of each man's labour be transported from one to another; those products, for the sake of the enjoyment and the ready distribution of which, they were first induced to institute a civil society !— By selling and buying, surely.— A market and money, as a symbol of exchange, arises out of this necessity.—Evidently.—When the husbandman, or any other artificer, brings the produce of his labours to the public place, and those who desire to barter their produce for it do not happen to arrive exactly at the same time, would he not lose his time, and the profit of it, if he were to sit in the market waiting for them? Assuredly. But, there are persons who, perceiving this, will take upon themselves the arrangement between the buyer and the seller. In constituted civil societies, those who are employed on this service, ought to be the infirm, and unable to perform any other ; but, exchanging on one hand for money, what any person comes to sell, and giving the articles thus bought for a similar equivalent to those who might wish to buy.

II.—Description of a frugal enjoyment of the goods of the world.

m.—But with this system of life some are not contented. They must have beds and tables, and

other furniture. They must have scarce ointments and perfumes, women, and a thousand superfluities of the same character. The things which we mentioned as sufficient, houses, and clothes, and food, are not enough. Painting and mosaic-work must be cultivated, and works in gold and ivory. The society must be enlarged in consequence. This city, which is of a healthy proportion, will not suffice, but it must be replenished with a multitude of persons, whose occupations are by no means indispensable. Huntsmen and mimics, persons whose occupation it is to arrange forms and colours, persons whose trade is the cultivation of the more delicate arts, poets and their ministers, rhapsodists, actors, dancers, manufacturers of all kinds of instruments and schemes of female dress, and an immense crowd of other ministers to pleasure and necessity. Do you not think we should want schoolmasters, tutors, nurses, hair-dressers, barbers, manufacturers and cooks! Should we not want pig-drivers, which were not wanted in our more modest city, in this one, and a multitude of others to administer to other animals, which would then become necessary articles of food,—or should we not ?—Certainly we should.— Should we not want physicians much more, living in this manner than before? The same tract of country would no longer provide sustenance for the state. Must we then not usurp from the territory of our neighbours, and then we should make aggressions, and so we have discovered the origin of war; which is the principal cause of the greatest public and private calamities.—C. xi.

iv.—And first, we must improve upon the composers of fabulous histories in verse, to compose them according to the rules of moral beauty ; and those not composed according to the rules must bo rejected; and we must persuade mothers and nurses to teach those which we approve to their children, and to form their minds by moral fables, far more than their bodies by their hands.—Lib. ii.



For a young person is not competent to judge what portions of a fabulous composition arc allegorical and what literal; but the opinions produced by a literal acceptation of that which has no meaning, or a bad one, except in an allegorical sense, are often irradicable.—Lib. ii.

vi.—God then, since he is good, cannot be, as is vulgarly supposed, the cause of all things; he is the cause, indeed, of very few things. Among the great variety of events which happen in the course of human affairs, evil prodigiously overbalances good in everything which regards men. Of all that is good there can be no other cause than God; but some other cause ought to be discovered for evil, which should never be imputed as an effect to God.—L. ii.

Vii.—Plato's doctrine of punishment as laid down, p. 146, is refuted by his previous reasonings. —P. 26.


Do you think that God is like a vulgar conjuror, and that he is capable for the sake of effect, of assuming, at one time, one form, and at another time, another? Now, in his own character, converting his proper form into a multitude of shapes, now deceiving us, and offering vain images of himself to our imagination I Or do you think that God is single and one, and least of all things capable of departing from his permanent nature and appearance!


But everything, in proportion as it is excellent, either in art or nature, or in both, is least susceptible of receiving change from any external influence.


Nor should mothers terrify their children by these fables, that Gods go about in the night-time, resembling strangers, in all sorts of forms: at once blaspheming the Gods, and rendering their children cowardly.


Know you not, that that which is truly false, if it may be permitted me so to speak, all, both Gods and men, detest!—How do you mean 1—Thus: No person is willing to falsify in matters of the highest concern to himself concerning those matters, but fears, above all things, lest he should accept falsehood.—Yet, I understand you not— You think that I mean something profound. I say that no person is willing in his own mind to receive or to assert a falsehood, to be ignorant, to be in

error, to possess that which is not true. This is truly to be called falsehood, this ignorance and error in the mind itself. What is usually called falsehood, or deceit in words, is but a voluntary imitation of what the mind itself suffers in the involuntary possession of that falsehood, an image of later birth, and scarcely, in a strict and complete sense, deserving the name of falsehood.—Lib. ii.

XII.—AGAINST A BELIEF IN HELL. If they are to possess courage, are not those doctrines alone to be taught, which render death least terrible! Or do you conceive that any man can be brave who is subjected to a fear of death! that he who believes the things that are related of hell, and thinks that they are truth, will prefer in battle, death to slavery, or defeat ?—Lib. iiv— Then follow) a criticism on the poetical accomUof hell.


We must then abolish the custom of lamenting and commiserating the deaths of illustrious men. Do we assert that an excellent man will consider it anything dreadful that his intimate friend, who is also an excellent man, should die I—By no means, (on exceuive refinement). He will abstain then from lamenting over his loss, as if he had suffered Bome great evil !-r-Surely.—May we not assert in addition, that such a person as we have described suffices to himself for all purposes of living well and happily, and in no manner needs the assistance or society of another! that he would endure with resignation the destitution of a son, or a brother, or possessions, or whatever external adjuncts of life might have been attached to him 1 and that, on the occurrence of such contingencies, he would support them with moderation and mildness, by no means bursting into lamentations, or resigning himself to despondence t—Lib. iii.

Then he proceed! to allege ptmaga of the port) which oppotite example) were held up to approbaticm and imitation.


Do you not apprehend that imitations, if they shall have been practised and persevered in from early youth, become established in the habits and nature, in the gestures of the body, and the toon of the voice, and lastly, in the intellect itself!— C. iii.

XV.—ON THE EFFECT OF BAD TASTE HI ART. Nor must we restrict the poets alone to an exhibition of the example of virtuous manners in their compositions, but all other artists oust be forbidden, either in sculpture, or punting, or architecture, to employ their skill upon forms of an immoral, unchastened, monstrous, or illiberal type, either in the forms of living beings, or in architectural arrangements. And the artist capable of this employment of his art, must not be suffered in our community, lest those destined to be guardians of the society, nourished upon images of deformity and vice, like cattle upon bad grass, gradually gathering and depasturing every day a little, may ignorantly establish one great evil, composed of these many evil things, in their minds.— —C. iii.

The monstrous figures called Arabesques, however in some of them is to be found a mixture of a truer and simpler taste, which are found in the ruined palaces of the Roman Emperors, bear, nevertheless, Ike same relation to the brutal profligacy and lolling luxury which required them, as the majestic figures of Castor and Pollux, and the simple beauty of the sculpture of the frieze of the Parthenon, bear to the more beautiful and simple manners of the Qreekt of that period. With a liberal interpretation, a similar analogy might be extended into literary composition.


What better evidence can you require of a corrupt and pernicious system of discipline in a state, than that not merely persons of base habits and plebeian employments, but men who pretend to have received a liberal education, require the assistance of lawyers and physicians, and those too who have attained to a singular degree (so desperate are these diseases of body and mind) of skill. Do you not consider it an abject necessity, a proof of the deepest degradation, to need to be instructed in what is just or what is needful, as by a master and a judge, with regard to your personal knowledge and suffering!

What would Plato have said to a priest, such as hi* ofice is, in modem times t—C. iii.


Do you not think it an abject thing to require the assistance of the medicinal art, not for the cure of wounds, or such external diseases as result from the accidents of the seasons {ewrrrstnr), but on account of sloth and the superfluous indulgences which we have already condemned; thus being filled with wind and water, like holes in earth, and compelling the elegant successors of /Ewrulapius to invent new names, flatulences, and catarrhs, &c, for the new diseases which are the progeny of your luxury and sloth 1—L. iii.


Herodicus being piedotribe (xaiSorpigvs, Magister palcestrce), and his health becoming weak, united the gymnastic with the medical art, and having condemned himself to a life of weariness, afterwards extended the same pernicious system to others. He made his life a long death. For humouring the disease, mortal in its own nature, to which he was subject, without being able to cure it, he postponed all other purposes to the care of medicating himself, and through his whole life was subject to an access of his malady, if he departed in any degree from his accustomed diet, and by the employment of this skill, dying by degrees, he arrived at an old age.—L. iii.

^Esculapius never pursued these systems, nor Machaon or Podalirius. They never undertook the treatment of those whose frames were inwardly and thoroughly diseased, so to prolong a worthless existence, and bestow on a man a long and wretched being, during which they might generate children in every respect the inheritors of their infirmity.—L. iii.


A man ought not to be a good judge until he be old; because he ought not to have acquired a knowledge of what injustice is, until his understanding has arrived at maturity: not apprehending its nature from a consideration of its existence in himself; but having contemplated it distinct from his own nature in that of others, for a long time, until he shall perceive what an evil it is, not from his own experience and its effects within himself, but from his observations of them as resulting in others. Such a one were indeed an honourable judge, and a good ; for he who has a good mind, is good. But that judge who is considered so wise, who having himself committed great injustices, is supposed to be qualified for the detection of it in others, and who is quick to suspect, appears keen, indeed, as long as he associates with those who resemble him; because, deriving experience from the example afforded by a consideration of his own conduct and character, he acts with caution ; but when he associates with men of universal experience and real virtue, he exposes the defects resulting from such experience as he possesses, by distrusting men unreasonably and mistaking true virtue, having no example of it within himself with which to compare the appearances manifested in others; yet, such a one finding more associates who are virtuous than such as are wise, necessarily appears, both to himself and others,

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