Laches of Courage by Plato. - HTML preview

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“Laches” - Plato

But what say you of the matter of which we were gymnastics could be better or harder exercise; and beginning to speak—the art of fighting in armour?

this, and the art of riding, are of all arts most befit-Is that a practice in which the lads may be advanta-ting to a freeman; for they only who are thus trained geously instructed?

in the use of arms are the athletes of our military profession, trained in that on which the conflict SOCRATES: I will endeavour to advise you, turns. Moreover in actual battle, when you have to Lysimachus, as far as I can in this matter, and also fight in a line with a number of others, such an in every way will comply with your wishes; but as I acquirement will be of some use, and will be of the am younger and not so experienced, I think that I greatest whenever the ranks are broken and you have ought certainly to hear first what my elders have to to fight singly, either in pursuit, when you are at-say, and to learn of them, and if I have anything to tacking some one who is defending himself, or in add, then I may venture to give my opinion to them flight, when you have to defend yourself against an as well as to you. Suppose, Nicias, that one or other assailant. Certainly he who possessed the art could of you begin.

not meet with any harm at the hands of a single person, or perhaps of several; and in any case he NICIAS: I have no objection, Socrates; and my would have a great advantage. Further, this sort of opinion is that the acquirement of this art is in many skill inclines a man to the love of other noble les-ways useful to young men. It is an advantage to sons; for every man who has learned how to fight them that among the favourite amusements of their in armour will desire to learn the proper arrange-leisure hours they should have one which tends to ment of an army, which is the sequel of the lesson: improve and not to injure their bodily health. No and when he has learned this, and his ambition is 13

“Laches” - Plato

once fired, he will go on to learn the complete art and as the teachers of the art affirm, this use of of the general. There is no difficulty in seeing that arms is really a species of knowledge, then it ought the knowledge and practice of other military arts to be learned; but if not, and if those who profess will be honourable and valuable to a man; and this to teach it are deceivers only; or if it be knowledge, lesson may be the beginning of them. Let me add a but not of a valuable sort, then what is the use of further advantage, which is by no means a slight learning it? I say this, because I think that if it had one,—that this science will make any man a great been really valuable, the Lacedaemonians, whose deal more valiant and self-possessed in the field.

whole life is passed in finding out and practising And I will not disdain to mention, what by some the arts which give them an advantage over other may be thought to be a small matter;—he will make nations in war, would have discovered this one. And a better appearance at the right time; that is to say, even if they had not, still these professors of the art at the time when his appearance will strike terror would certainly not have failed to discover that of into his enemies. My opinion then, Lysimachus, is, all the Hellenes the Lacedaemonians have the great-as I say, that the youths should be instructed in est interest in such matters, and that a master of this art, and for the reasons which I have given. But the art who was honoured among them would be Laches may take a different view; and I shall be sure to make his fortune among other nations, just very glad to hear what he has to say.

as a tragic poet would who is honoured among ourselves; which is the reason why he who fancies that LACHES: I should not like to maintain, Nicias, he can write a tragedy does not go about itinerat-that any kind of knowledge is not to be learned; for ing in the neighbouring states, but rushes hither all knowledge appears to be a good: and if, as Nicias straight, and exhibits at Athens; and this is natural.