Laches of Courage by Plato. - HTML preview

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“Laches” - Plato

Whereas I perceive that these fighters in armour spectacle. He was a marine on board a ship which regard Lacedaemon as a sacred inviolable territory, struck a transport vessel, and was armed with a which they do not touch with the point of their weapon, half spear, half scythe; the singularity of foot; but they make a circuit of the neighbouring this weapon was worthy of the singularity of the states, and would rather exhibit to any others than man. To make a long story short, I will only tell to the Spartans; and particularly to those who would you what happened to this notable invention of the themselves acknowledge that they are by no means scythe spear. He was fighting, and the scythe was firstrate in the arts of war. Further, Lysimachus, I caught in the rigging of the other ship, and stuck have encountered a good many of these gentlemen fast; and he tugged, but was unable to get his in actual service, and have taken their measure, weapon free. The two ships were passing one an-which I can give you at once; for none of these other. He first ran along his own ship holding on to masters of fence have ever been distinguished in the spear; but as the other ship passed by and drew war,—there has been a sort of fatality about them; him after as he was holding on, he let the spear slip while in all other arts the men of note have been through his hand until he retained only the end of always those who have practised the art, they ap-the handle. The people in the transport clapped pear to be a most unfortunate exception. For ex-their hands, and laughed at his ridiculous figure; ample, this very Stesilaus, whom you and I have and when some one threw a stone, which fell on just witnessed exhibiting in all that crowd and mak-the deck at his feet, and he quitted his hold of the ing such great professions of his powers, I have seen scythe-spear, the crew of his own trireme also burst at another time making, in sober truth, an involun-out laughing; they could not refrain when they be-tary exhibition of himself, which was a far better held the weapon waving in the air, suspended from 15

“Laches” - Plato

the transport. Now I do not deny that there may two councillors disagree, and some one is in a man-be something in such an art, as Nicias asserts, but I ner still needed who will decide between them. Had tell you my experience; and, as I said at first, whether they agreed, no arbiter would have been required.

this be an art of which the advantage is so slight, or But as Laches has voted one way and Nicias annot an art at all, but only an imposition, in either other, I should like to hear with which of our two case such an acquirement is not worth having. For friends you agree.

my opinion is, that if the professor of this art be a coward, he will be likely to become rash, and his SOCRATES: What, Lysimachus, are you going to character will be only more notorious; or if he be accept the opinion of the majority?

brave, and fail ever so little, other men will be on the watch, and he will be greatly traduced; for there LYSIMACHUS: Why, yes, Socrates; what else am is a jealousy of such pretenders; and unless a man I to do?

be pre-eminent in valour, he cannot help being ridiculous, if he says that he has this sort of skill.

SOCRATES: And would you do so too, Melesias?

Such is my judgment, Lysimachus, of the desirable-If you were deliberating about the gymnastic train-ness of this art; but, as I said at first, ask Socrates, ing of your son, would you follow the advice of the and do not let him go until he has given you his majority of us, or the opinion of the one who had opinion of the matter.

been trained and exercised under a skilful master?

LYSIMACHUS: I am going to ask this favour of MELESIAS: The latter, Socrates; as would surely you, Socrates; as is the more necessary because the be reasonable.