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all these things petty and insignificant, moves in every direction, as Pindar says, measuring things beneath the earth and on its surface, and star-gazing above the heaven, and searching out everywhere the nature of each class of existing things, condescending to none of those which are near it.
Theo. How do you mean, Socrates?
So. Compare the case of Thales, O Theodorus. While he was astronomising and gazing upward he fell into a well; and a clever and witty Thracian maidservant is said to have taunted him with desiring to know what was in heaven, but not seeing what was before him and at his feet. The same taunt is good for all who are devoted to philosophy. For in fact such a student is not only unaware of what his next neighbour is doing, but does not even know whether he is a man or some other creature. But what man is, and what it belongs to such a nature to do or to suffer differently from all others, this he inquires, and takes pains to search out. You understand, I hope, Theodorus, do you not?
Theo. I do, and your words are true.
So. Therefore, my friend, a man like this, in his associations private and public, as I said at first, when in a law-court or elsewhere he is compelled to discourse of things at his feet and before his eyes, becomes a laughingstock not only to Thracian maids, but to the general public, falling into wells and perplexities of every kind from inexperience; and his awkwardness is marvellous, raising a suspicion of imbecility. For when personal reviling is the order of the day, he has no scandalous charge to bring, knowing no evil of anybody, because he has never taken the trouble. So he gets laughed at for his helplessness. And when eulogies and glorification of others are the theme, he is seen to laugh in right earnest without any affectation; and
so he seems to be silly. When a tyrant or a king is extolled, he thinks he hears one of the herdsmen, swineherd or shepherd or cowherd, congratulated for his large milking: but he considers that the royal proprietors in their tending and milking have to deal with a more untoward and insidious animal than the others have, and that any one of them must, for want of leisure, perforce prove quite as rude and uninstructed as the real herdsmen, having his fortification built round him like a stall upon the mountain. When he hears it said that somebody, who has got ten thousand acres of land or more, has a wonderfully large estate, he thinks the quantity named a very small one, from being in the habit of contemplating the whole earth. And when they extol birth, and say that some one is a gentleman for being able to show seven rich ancestors, this he regards as praise emanating from very dull and short-sighted persons, who through want of education can never take a comprehensive view, so as to see that every man has had countless myriads of forefathers, among whom in every case are found many rich and poor, kings and slaves, both Greeks and barbarians, recurring again and again. He is amazed at the manifestly narrow conception of those who pride themselves on a list of twenty-five ancestors, carried back to Heracles, son of Amphitryon; and he laughs at men who cannot bear in mind that the twenty-fifth ancestor, counting back from Amphitryon, and again the fiftieth before him, were just whatever they might happen to be-and by such reflection get rid of their foolish vanity. On all these occasions such a man is scorned by the multitude, partly, it would seem, on the charge of arrogance, partly for not knowing what stares him in the face, and for helplessness in general.
Theo. It certainly does happen as you say, Socrates.
25 [When Socrates has completed his description of the true philosopher, Theodorus, assenting, says there would be less evil in the world if all men felt as he did. Socrates says that evil must remain as the antithesis of good; and, in a beautiful digression, he exhibits the contrast between justice and holiness on the one hand, which are blessed and godlike, injustice and unholiness on the other, which are wretched and godless. The unrighteous are apt to pride themselves on their own wickedness; but their self-satisfaction is unreal, and collapses at the last.]
So. But when he himself, my friend, leads any man to take a higher view, and that man consents to quit his 'How do I wrong you or you me,' for the consideration of justice and injustice-what each is in itself, and wherein they differ from all other things or from each other,—or to turn from the maxim 'Happy the king, happy the possessor of much gold,' to the consideration of kingship itself and human happiness and misery generally-what they are and how it befits human nature to attain the one and escape the other-on all these subjects, I say, when that petty narrow-minded legal personage is required to render reason, he presents a counterpart of the philosopher. Stationed upon a height and gazing down from his elevated position, he turns dizzy from inexperience, and, uneasy perplexed and stuttering, he is a laughing-stock, not to Thracian girls or any uneducated person, for they do not see the absurdity, but to all whose training has not been. that of slaves. Such are their several characters, Theodorus. One is that of the man really bred in freedom and leisure, whom you call philosopher; who may without reproach seem simple and be incompetent when he is engaged in menial services; when he does not, for instance, know how to pack a trunk of linen, or to season a dish or a flattering speech. The other is that of him who can perform all such
services thoroughly and briskly, but who does not know how to don his cloak like a gentleman, or, by acquiring harmony of language, to sing well the true life of gods and blessed men.
Theo. If you could bring home what you say to all men, Socrates, as you do to me, there would be more peace and less evil in the world.
So. Nay, Theodorus, evil cannot, on the one hand, perish altogether, for something opposite to good there must ever be; nor, on the other, can it find a seat in heaven: but our mortal nature and this lower region it haunts perforce. Wherefore we must endeavour to fly from this world to the other as soon as we can. Now that flight means the becoming like to God as much as possible; and the way to be like God is to become just and holy and wise. But indeed, my excellent friend, it is by no means an easy task to convince the world that the reasons on which most people found the duty of shunning vice and pursuing virtue are not the just motives for practising the latter and avoiding the former: in order, to wit, that a man may not seem to be wicked, and that he may seem to be good. These views, in my clear opinion, are what is called an old woman's fable: the real truth we may state as follows. God is in no way and in no degree unjust, but just in the highest extreme; and nothing is more like to him than one of us who in his own sphere shall become as just as possible. Hereby is shown a man's veritable power, in the one case; in the other, his worthless and unmanly character. the cognition of this truth is genuine wisdom and virtue, while the ignorance of it is manifest unintelligence and viciousness. Everything else which is taken for mental power and wisdom is in political government vulgar, in art ignoble. It is by far the best way then not to allow for a
moment that one who acts unjustly and speaks or practises impiety is a man of powerful mind because he is a rogue. Such people pride themselves on the reproach, and suppose it to mean that they are no whipsters, no mere loungers about the streets, but the sort of men they ought to be to hold their own in the state. They must be told the truth therefore; namely that their belief of not being what they are makes them what they are so much the more. For they do not know the penalty of injustice, a thing of all others which it is most proper to know. It is not what they suppose, stripes and capital punishments, which men sometimes do not incur when they act unjustly, but one from which it is impossible to escape.
Theo. What do you refer to?
So. There are, my friend, established in the world two types; of supreme happiness in the godly nature, of supreme misery in the ungodly: and these men, not seeing this truth, in their weakness and utter folly do by their unjust deeds insensibly become like the latter nature, unlike the former. The punishment they suffer is that of living a life correspondent with that nature to which they become like. And if we tell them that, unless they get rid of their wondrous wisdom, when they are dead, yon place pure from evil will not receive them, and they will ever continue to live in this world a life resembling themselves-evil amidst evil associations-such language they will undoubtedly hear as clever and cunning rogues listening to a pack of fools.
Theo. To be sure they will, Socrates.
So. I know it well, my friend. There is however one thing that befalls them. If in private they are required to give a reasonable account of their censures, though for a long time they are willing to abide the brunt manfully and