Phaedo by Plato. - HTML preview

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And linked itself by carnal sensuality To a degenerate and degraded state.’) And this corporeal element, my friend, is heavy and weighty 67


That is very likely, Socrates.

There is not, he said.

Yes, that is very likely, Cebes; and these must be the souls, Some are happier than others; and the happiest both in not of the good, but of the evil, which are compelled to themselves and in the place to which they go are those who wander about such places in payment of the penalty of their have practised the civil and social virtues which are called former evil way of life; and they continue to wander until temperance and justice, and are acquired by habit and at-through the craving after the corporeal which never leaves tention without philosophy and mind. (Compare Repub-them, they are imprisoned finally in another body. And they lic.)

may be supposed to find their prisons in the same natures Why are they the happiest?

which they have had in their former lives.

Because they may be expected to pass into some gentle What natures do you mean, Socrates?

and social kind which is like their own, such as bees or wasps What I mean is that men who have followed after glut-or ants, or back again into the form of man, and just and tony, and wantonness, and drunkenness, and have had no moderate men may be supposed to spring from them.

thought of avoiding them, would pass into asses and ani-Very likely.

mals of that sort. What do you think?

No one who has not studied philosophy and who is not I think such an opinion to be exceedingly probable.

entirely pure at the time of his departure is allowed to enter And those who have chosen the portion of injustice, and the company of the Gods, but the lover of knowledge only.

tyranny, and violence, will pass into wolves, or into hawks And this is the reason, Simmias and Cebes, why the true and kites;—whither else can we suppose them to go?

votaries of philosophy abstain from all fleshly lusts, and hold Yes, said Cebes; with such natures, beyond question.

out against them and refuse to give themselves up to them,—

And there is no difficulty, he said, in assigning to all of them not because they fear poverty or the ruin of their families, places answering to their several natures and propensities?

like the lovers of money, and the world in general; nor like 68


the lovers of power and honour, because they dread the gently comforted her and sought to release her, pointing out dishonour or disgrace of evil deeds.

that the eye and the ear and the other senses are full of de-No, Socrates, that would not become them, said Cebes.

ception, and persuading her to retire from them, and ab-No indeed, he replied; and therefore they who have any stain from all but the necessary use of them, and be gathered care of their own souls, and do not merely live moulding up and collected into herself, bidding her trust in herself and fashioning the body, say farewell to all this; they will and her own pure apprehension of pure existence, and to not walk in the ways of the blind: and when philosophy mistrust whatever comes to her through other channels and offers them purification and release from evil, they feel that is subject to variation; for such things are visible and tan-they ought not to resist her influence, and whither she leads gible, but what she sees in her own nature is intelligible and they turn and follow.

invisible. And the soul of the true philosopher thinks that What do you mean, Socrates?

she ought not to resist this deliverance, and therefore ab-I will tell you, he said. The lovers of knowledge are con-stains from pleasures and desires and pains and fears, as far scious that the soul was simply fastened and glued to the as she is able; reflecting that when a man has great joys or body—until philosophy received her, she could only view sorrows or fears or desires, he suffers from them, not merely real existence through the bars of a prison, not in and through the sort of evil which might be anticipated—as for example, herself; she was wallowing in the mire of every sort of igno-the loss of his health or property which he has sacrificed to rance; and by reason of lust had become the principal achis lusts—but an evil greater far, which is the greatest and complice in her own captivity. This was her original state; worst of all evils, and one of which he never thinks.

and then, as I was saying, and as the lovers of knowledge are What is it, Socrates? said Cebes.

well aware, philosophy, seeing how terrible was her confine-The evil is that when the feeling of pleasure or pain is ment, of which she was to herself the cause, received and most intense, every soul of man imagines the objects of this 69


intense feeling to be then plainest and truest: but this is not Certainly not! The soul of a philosopher will reason in so, they are really the things of sight.

quite another way; she will not ask philosophy to release her Very true.

in order that when released she may deliver herself up again And is not this the state in which the soul is most en-to the thraldom of pleasures and pains, doing a work only to thralled by the body?

be undone again, weaving instead of unweaving her How so?

Penelope’s web. But she will calm passion, and follow rea-Why, because each pleasure and pain is a sort of nail which son, and dwell in the contemplation of her, beholding the nails and rivets the soul to the body, until she becomes like true and divine (which is not matter of opinion), and thence the body, and believes that to be true which the body af-deriving nourishment. Thus she seeks to live while she lives, firms to be true; and from agreeing with the body and hav-and after death she hopes to go to her own kindred and to ing the same delights she is obliged to have the same habits that which is like her, and to be freed from human ills. Never and haunts, and is not likely ever to be pure at her departure fear, Simmias and Cebes, that a soul which has been thus to the world below, but is always infected by the body; and nurtured and has had these pursuits, will at her departure so she sinks into another body and there germinates and from the body be scattered and blown away by the winds grows, and has therefore no part in the communion of the and be nowhere and nothing.

divine and pure and simple.

When Socrates had done speaking, for a considerable time Most true, Socrates, answered Cebes.

there was silence; he himself appeared to be meditating, as And this, Cebes, is the reason why the true lovers of knowl-most of us were, on what had been said; only Cebes and edge are temperate and brave; and not for the reason which Simmias spoke a few words to one another. And Socrates the world gives.

observing them asked what they thought of the argument, Certainly not.

and whether there was anything wanting? For, said he, there 70


are many points still open to suspicion and attack, if any thought that they are about to go away to the god whose one were disposed to sift the matter thoroughly. Should you ministers they are. But men, because they are themselves be considering some other matter I say no more, but if you afraid of death, slanderously affirm of the swans that they are still in doubt do not hesitate to say exactly what you sing a lament at the last, not considering that no bird sings think, and let us have anything better which you can sug-when cold, or hungry, or in pain, not even the nightingale, gest; and if you think that I can be of any use, allow me to nor the swallow, nor yet the hoopoe; which are said indeed help you.

to tune a lay of sorrow, although I do not believe this to be Simmias said: I must confess, Socrates, that doubts did true of them any more than of the swans. But because they arise in our minds, and each of us was urging and inciting are sacred to Apollo, they have the gift of prophecy, and the other to put the question which we wanted to have an-anticipate the good things of another world, wherefore they swered and which neither of us liked to ask, fearing that our sing and rejoice in that day more than they ever did before.

importunity might be troublesome under present at such a And I too, believing myself to be the consecrated servant of time.

the same God, and the fellow-servant of the swans, and think-Socrates replied with a smile: O Simmias, what are you ing that I have received from my master gifts of prophecy saying? I am not very likely to persuade other men that I do which are not inferior to theirs, would not go out of life less not regard my present situation as a misfortune, if I cannot merrily than the swans. Never mind then, if this be your even persuade you that I am no worse off now than at any only objection, but speak and ask anything which you like, other time in my life. Will you not allow that I have as much while the eleven magistrates of Athens allow.

of the spirit of prophecy in me as the swans? For they, when Very good, Socrates, said Simmias; then I will tell you my they perceive that they must die, having sung all their life difficulty, and Cebes will tell you his. I feel myself, (and I long, do then sing more lustily than ever, rejoicing in the daresay that you have the same feeling), how hard or rather 71


impossible is the attainment of any certainty about questions not say that harmony is a thing invisible, incorporeal, per-such as these in the present life. And yet I should deem him a fect, divine, existing in the lyre which is harmonized, but coward who did not prove what is said about them to the that the lyre and the strings are matter and material, com-uttermost, or whose heart failed him before he had examined posite, earthy, and akin to mortality? And when some one them on every side. For he should persevere until he has breaks the lyre, or cuts and rends the strings, then he who achieved one of two things: either he should discover, or be takes this view would argue as you do, and on the same anal-taught the truth about them; or, if this be impossible, I would ogy, that the harmony survives and has not perished—you have him take the best and most irrefragable of human theo-cannot imagine, he would say, that the lyre without the ries, and let this be the raft upon which he sails through life—

strings, and the broken strings themselves which are mortal not without risk, as I admit, if he cannot find some word of remain, and yet that the harmony, which is of heavenly and God which will more surely and safely carry him. And now, as immortal nature and kindred, has perished—perished be-you bid me, I will venture to question you, and then I shall fore the mortal. The harmony must still be somewhere, and not have to reproach myself hereafter with not having said at the wood and strings will decay before anything can happen the time what I think. For when I consider the matter, either to that. The thought, Socrates, must have occurred to your alone or with Cebes, the argument does ce rtainly appear to own mind that such is our conception of the soul; and that me, Socrates, to be not sufficient.

when the body is in a manner strung and held together by Socrates answered: I dare say, my friend, that you may be the elements of hot and cold, wet and dry, then the soul is right, but I should like to know in what respect the argu-the harmony or due proportionate admixture of them. But ment is insufficient.

if so, whenever the strings of the body are unduly loosened In this respect, replied Simmias:—Suppose a person to use or overstrained through disease or other injury, then the soul, the same argument about harmony and the lyre—might he though most divine, like other harmonies of music or of 72


works of art, of course perishes at once, although the mate-but the existence of the soul after death is still, in my judg-rial remains of the body may last for a considerable time, ment, unproven. Now my objection is not the same as that until they are either decayed or burnt. And if any one main-of Simmias; for I am not disposed to deny that the soul is tains that the soul, being the harmony of the elements of stronger and more lasting than the body, being of opinion the body, is first to perish in that which is called death, how that in all such respects the soul very far excels the body.

shall we answer him?

Well, then, says the argument to me, why do you remain Socrates looked fixedly at us as his manner was, and said unconvinced?—When you see that the weaker continues in with a smile: Simmias has reason on his side; and why does existence after the man is dead, will you not admit that the not some one of you who is better able than myself answer more lasting must also survive during the same period of him? for there is force in his attack upon me. But perhaps, time? Now I will ask you to consider whether the objection, before we answer him, we had better also hear what Cebes which, like Simmias, I will express in a figure, is of any weight.

has to say that we may gain time for reflection, and when The analogy which I will adduce is that of an old weaver, they have both spoken, we may either assent to them, if who dies, and after his death somebody says:—He is not there is truth in what they say, or if not, we will maintain dead, he must be alive;—see, there is the coat which he him-our position. Please to tell me then, Cebes, he said, what self wove and wore, and which remains whole and undecayed.

was the difficulty which troubled you?

And then he proceeds to ask of some one who is incredu-Cebes said: I will tell you. My feeling is that the argument lous, whether a man lasts longer, or the coat which is in use is where it was, and open to the same objections which were and wear; and when he is answered that a man lasts far longer, urged before; for I am ready to admit that the existence of thinks that he has thus certainly demonstrated the survival the soul before entering into the bodily form has been very of the man, who is the more lasting, because the less lasting ingeniously, and, if I may say so, quite sufficiently proven; remains. But that, Simmias, as I would beg you to remark, is 73


a mistake; any one can see that he who talks thus is talking and will be born and die again and again, and that there is a nonsense. For the truth is, that the weaver aforesaid, having natural strength in the soul which will hold out and be born woven and worn many such coats, outlived several of them, many times—nevertheless, we may be still inclined to think and was outlived by the last; but a man is not therefore proved that she will weary in the labours of successive births, and to be slighter and weaker than a coat. Now the relation of may at last succumb in one of her deaths and utterly perish; the body to the soul may be expressed in a similar figure; and this death and dissolution of the body which brings and any one may very fairly say in like manner that the soul destruction to the soul may be unknown to any of us, for no is lasting, and the body weak and shortlived in comparison.

one of us can have had any experience of it: and if so, then I He may argue in like manner that every soul wears out many maintain that he who is confident about death has but a bodies, especially if a man live many years. While he is alive foolish confidence, unless he is able to prove that the soul is the body deliquesces and decays, and the soul always weaves altogether immortal and imperishable. But if he cannot prove another garment and repairs the waste. But of course, when-the soul’s immortality, he who is about to die will always ever the soul perishes, she must have on her last garment, have reason to fear that when the body is disunited, the soul and this will survive her; and then at length, when the soul also may utterly perish.

is dead, the body will show its native weakness, and quickly All of us, as we afterwards remarked to one another, had decompose and pass away. I would therefore rather not rely an unpleasant feeling at hearing what they said. When we on the argument from superior strength to prove the con-had been so firmly convinced before, now to have our faith tinued existence of the soul after death. For granting even shaken seemed to introduce a confusion and uncertainty, more than you affirm to be possible, and acknowledging not only into the previous argument, but into any future not only that the soul existed before birth, but also that the one; either we were incapable of forming a judgment, or souls of some exist, and will continue to exist after death, there were no grounds of belief.



ECHECRATES: There I feel with you—by heaven I do, ment, and the readiness with which he healed it. He might Phaedo, and when you were speaking, I was beginning to ask be compared to a general rallying his defeated and broken myself the same question: What argument can I ever trust army, urging them to accompany him and return to the field again? For what could be more convincing than the argument of argument.

of Socrates, which has now fallen into discredit? That the soul is a harmony is a doctrine which has always had a wonderful ECHECRATES: What followed?

attraction for me, and, when mentioned, came back to me at once, as my own original conviction. And now I must begin PHAEDO: You shall hear, for I was close to him on his right again and find another argument which will assure me that hand, seated on a sort of stool, and he on a couch which was when the man is dead the soul survives. Tell me, I implore a good deal higher. He stroked my head, and pressed the you, how did Socrates proceed? Did he appear to share the hair upon my neck—he had a way of playing with my hair; unpleasant feeling which you mention? or did he calmly meet and then he said: To-morrow, Phaedo, I suppose that these the attack? And did he answer forcibly or feebly? Narrate what fair locks of yours will be severed.

passed as exactly as you can.

Yes, Socrates, I suppose that they will, I replied.

Not so, if you will take my advice.

PHAEDO: Often, Echecrates, I have wondered at Socrates, What shall I do with them? I said.

but never more than on that occasion. That he should be To-day, he replied, and not to-morrow, if this argument able to answer was nothing, but what astonished me was, dies and we cannot bring it to life again, you and I will both first, the gentle and pleasant and approving manner in which shave our locks; and if I were you, and the argument got he received the words of the young men, and then his quick away from me, and I could not hold my ground against sense of the wound which had been inflicted by the argu-Simmias and Cebes, I would myself take an oath, like the 75


Argives, not to wear hair any more until I had renewed the deems to be his own most trusted and familiar friends, and conflict and defeated them.

he has often quarreled with them, he at last hates all men, Yes, I said, but Heracles himself is said not to be a match and believes that no one has any good in him at all. You for two.

must have observed this trait of character?

Summon me then, he said, and I will be your Iolaus until I have.

the sun goes down.

And is not the feeling discreditable? Is it not obvious that I summon you rather, I rejoined, not as Heracles sum-such an one having to deal with other men, was clearly with-moning Iolaus, but as Iolaus might summon Heracles.

out any experience of human nature; for experience would That will do as well, he said. But first let us take care that have taught him the true state of the case, that few are the we avoid a danger.

good and few the evil, and that the great majority are in the Of what nature? I said.

interval between them.

Lest we become misologists, he replied, no worse thing What do you mean? I said.

can happen to a man than this. For as there are misanthropists I mean, he replied, as you might say of the very large and or haters of men, there are also misologists or haters of ideas, very small, that nothing is more uncommon than a very and both spring from the same cause, which is ignorance of large or very small man; and this applies generally to all ex-the world. Misanthropy arises out of the too great confi-tremes, whether of great and small, or swift and slow, or fair dence of inexperience;—you trust a man and think him al-and foul, or black and white: and whether the instances you together true and sound and faithful, and then in a little select be men or dogs or anything else, few are the extremes, while he turns out to be false and knavish; and then another but many are in the mean between them. Did you never and another, and when this has happened several times to a observe this?

man, especially when it happens among those whom he Yes, I said, I have.



And do you not imagine, he said, that if there were a com-wit, because he is annoyed, should at last be too glad to petition in evil, the worst would be found to be very few?

transfer the blame from himself to arguments in general: Yes, that is very likely, I said.

and for ever afterwards should hate and revile them, and Yes, that is very likely, he replied; although in this respect lose truth and the knowledge of realities.

arguments are unlike men—there I was led on by you to say Yes, indeed, I said; that is very melancholy.

more than I had intended; but the point of comparison was, Let us then, in the first place, he said, be careful of allow-that when a simple man who has no skill in dialectics being or of admitting into our souls the notion that there is no lieves an argument to be true which he afterwards imagines health or soundness in any arguments at all. Rather say that to be false, whether really false or not, and then another and we have not yet attained to soundness in ourselves, and that another, he has no longer any faith left, and great disputers, we must struggle manfully and do our best to gain health of as you know, come to think at last that they have grown to mind—you and all other men having regard to the whole of be the wisest of mankind; for they alone perceive the utter your future life, and I myself in the prospect of death. For at unsoundness and instability of all arguments, or indeed, of this moment I am sensible that I have not the temper of a all things, which, like the currents in the Euripus, are going philosopher; like the vulgar, I am only a partisan. Now the up and down in never-ceasing ebb and flow.

partisan, when he is engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about That is quite true, I said.

the rights of the question, but is anxious only to convince Yes, Phaedo, he replied, and how melancholy, if there be his hearers of his own assertions. And the difference between such a thing as truth or certainty or possibility of knowl-him and me at the present moment is merely this—that edge—that a man should have lighted upon some argument whereas he seeks to convince his hearers that what he says is or other which at first seemed true and then turned out to true, I am rather seeking to convince myself; to convince be false, and instead of blaming himself and his own want of my hearers is a secondary matter with me. And do but see 77


how much I gain by the argument. For if what I say is true, hind her; and that this is death, which is the destruction not then I do well to be persuaded of the truth, but if there be of the body but of the soul, for in the body the work of nothing after death, still, during the short time that remains, destruction is ever going on. Are not these, Simmias and I shall not distress my friends with lamentations, and my Cebes, the points which we have to consider?

ignorance will not last, but will die with me, and therefore They both agreed to this statement of them.

no harm will be done. This is the state of mind, Simmias He proceeded: And did you deny the force of the whole and Cebes, in which I approach the argument. And I would preceding argument, or of a part only?

ask you to be thinking of the truth and not of Socrates: agree Of a part only, they replied.

with me, if I seem to you to be speaking the truth; or if not, And what did you think, he said, of that part of the argu-withstand me might and main, that I may not deceive you ment in which we said that knowledge was recollection, and as well as myself in my enthusiasm, and like the bee, leave hence inferred that the soul must have previously existed my sting in you before I die.

somewhere else before she was enclosed in the body?

And now let us proceed, he said. And first of all let me be Cebes said that he had been wonderfully impressed by that sure that I have in my mind what you were saying. Simmias, part of the argument, and that his conviction remained ab-if I remember rightly, has fears and misgivings whether the solutely unshaken. Simmias agreed, and added that he him-soul, although a fairer and diviner thing than the body, be-self could hardly imagine the possibility of his ever thinking ing as she is in the form of harmony, may not perish first.


On the other hand, Cebes appeared to grant that the soul But, rejoined Socrates, you will have to think differently, was more lasting than the body, but he said that no one my Theban friend, if you still maintain that harmony is a could know whether the soul, after having worn out many compound, and that the soul is a harmony which is made bodies, might not perish herself and leave her last body be-out of strings set in the frame of the body; for you will surely 78


never allow yourself to say that a harmony is prior to the onstrated at all, but rests only on probable and plausible elements which compose it.

grounds; and is therefore believed by the many. I know too Never, Socrates.

well that these arguments from probabilities are impostors, But do you not see that this is what you imply when you and unless great caution is observed in the use of them, they say that the soul existed before she took the form and body are apt to be deceptive—in geometry, and in other things of man, and was made up of elements which as yet had no too. But the doctrine of knowledge and recollection has been existence? For harmony is not like the soul, as you suppose; proven to me on trustworthy grounds; and the proof was but first the lyre, and the strings, and the sounds exist in a that the soul must have existed before she came into the state of discord, and then harmony is made last of all, and body, because to her belongs the essence of which the very perishes first. And how can such a notion of the soul as this name implies existence. Having, as I am convinced, rightly agree with the other?

accepted this conclusion, and on sufficient grounds, I must, Not at all, replied Simmias.

as I suppose, cease to argue or allow others to argue that the And yet, he said, there surely ought to be harmony in a soul is a harmony.

discourse of which harmony is the theme.

Let me put the matter, Simmias, he said, in another point There ought, replied Simmias.

of view: Do you imagine that a harmony or any other com-But there is no harmony, he said, in the two propositions position can be in a state other than that of the elements, that knowledge is recollection, and that the soul is a har-out of which it is compounded?

mony. Which of them will you retain?

Certainly not.

I think, he replied, that I have a much stronger faith, Or do or suffer anything other than they do or suffer?

Socrates, in the first of the two, which has been fully dem-He agreed.

onstrated to me, than in the latter, which has not been dem-Then a harmony does not, properly speaking, lead the parts 79


or elements which make up the harmony, but only follows and to be an evil soul: and this is said truly?


Yes, truly.

He assented.

But what will those who maintain the soul to be a har-For harmony cannot possibly have any motion, or sound, mony say of this presence of virtue and vice in the soul?—

or other quality which is opposed to its parts.

will they say that here is another harmony, and another dis-That would be impossible, he replied.

cord, and that the virtuous soul is harmonized, and herself And does not the nature of every harmony depend upon being a harmony has another harmony within her, and that the manner in which the elements are harmonized?

the vicious soul is inharmonical and has no harmony within I do not understand you, he said.


I mean to say that a harmony admits of degrees, and is I cannot tell, replied Simmias; but I suppose that some-more of a harmony, and more completely a harmony, when thing of the sort would be asserted by those who say that the more truly and fully harmonized, to any extent which is soul is a harmony.

possible; and less of a harmony, and less completely a har-And we have already admitted that no soul is more a soul mony, when less truly and fully harmonized.

than another; which is equivalent to admitting that harmony True.

is not more or less harmony, or more or less completely a But does the soul admit of degrees? or is one soul in the harmony?

very least degree more or less, or more or less completely, a Quite true.

soul than another?

And that which is not more or less a harmony is not more Not in the least.

or less harmonized?

Yet surely of two souls, one is said to have intelligence and True.

virtue, and to be good, and the other to have folly and vice, And that which is not more or less harmonized cannot 80


have more or less of harmony, but only an equal harmony?

And can all this be true, think you? he said; for these are Yes, an equal harmony.

the consequences which seem to follow from the assump-Then one soul not being more or less absolutely a soul tion that the soul is a harmony?

than another, is not more or less harmonized?

It cannot be true.


Once more, he said, what ruler is there of the elements of And therefore has neither more nor less of discord, nor yet human nature other than the soul, and especially the wise of harmony?

soul? Do you know of any?

She has not.

Indeed, I do not.

And having neither more nor less of harmony or of dis-And is the soul in agreement with the affections of the cord, one soul has no more vice or virtue than another, if body? or is she at variance with them? For example, when vice be discord and virtue harmony?

the body is hot and thirsty, does not the soul incline us against Not at all more.

drinking? and when the body is hungry, against eating? And Or speaking more correctly, Simmias, the soul, if she is a this is only one instance out of ten thousand of the opposi-harmony, will never have any vice; because a harmony, be-tion of the soul to the things of the body.

ing absolutely a harmony, has no part in the inharmonical.

Very true.


But we have already acknowledged that the soul, being a And therefore a soul which is absolutely a soul has no vice?

harmony, can never utter a note at variance with the ten-How can she have, if the previous argument holds?

sions and relaxations and vibrations and other affections of Then, if all souls are equally by their nature souls, all souls the strings out of which she is composed; she can only fol-of all living creatures will be equally good?

low, she cannot lead them?

I agree with you, Socrates, he said.

It must be so, he replied.



And yet do we not now discover the soul to be doing the True, he said.

exact opposite—leading the elements of which she is be-Thus much, said Socrates, of Harmonia, your Theban god-lieved to be composed; almost always opposing and coerc-dess, who has graciously yielded to us; but what shall I say, ing them in all sorts of ways throughout life, sometimes more Cebes, to her husband Cadmus, and how shall I make peace violently with the pains of medicine and gymnastic; then with him?

again more gently; now threatening, now admonishing the I think that you will discover a way of propitiating him, desires, passions, fears, as if talking to a thing which is not said Cebes; I am sure that you have put the argument with herself, as Homer in the Odyssee represents Odysseus doing Harmonia in a manner that I could never have expected.

in the words—

For when Simmias was mentioning his difficulty, I quite imagined that no answer could be given to him, and there-

‘He beat his breast, and thus reproached his heart: fore I was surprised at finding that his argument could not Endure, my heart; far worse hast thou endured!’

sustain the first onset of yours, and not impossibly the other, whom you call Cadmus, may share a similar fate.

Do you think that Homer wrote this under the idea that the Nay, my good friend, said Socrates, let us not boast, lest soul is a harmony capable of being led by the affections of some evil eye should put to flight the word which I am about the body, and not rather of a nature which should lead and to speak. That, however, may be left in the hands of those master them—herself a far diviner thing than any harmony?

above, while I draw near in Homeric fashion, and try the Yes, Socrates, I quite think so.

mettle of your words. Here lies the point:—You want to Then, my friend, we can never be right in saying that the have it proven to you that the soul is imperishable and im-soul is a harmony, for we should contradict the divine Homer, mortal, and the philosopher who is confident in death ap-and contradict ourselves.

pears to you to have but a vain and foolish confidence, if he 82


believes that he will fare better in the world below than one flection. At length he said: You are raising a tremendous who has led another sort of life, unless he can prove this; question, Cebes, involving the whole nature of generation and you say that the demonstration of the strength and di-and corruption, about which, if you like, I will give you my vinity of the soul, and of her existence prior to our becom-own experience; and if anything which I say is likely to avail ing men, does not necessarily imply her immortality. Ad-towards the solution of your difficulty you may make use of mitting the soul to be longlived, and to have known and it.

done much in a former state, still she is not on that account I should very much like, said Cebes, to hear what you have immortal; and her entrance into the human form may be a to say.

sort of disease which is the beginning of dissolution, and Then I will tell you, said Socrates. When I was young, may at last, after the toils of life are over, end in that which Cebes, I had a prodigious desire to know that department of is called death. And whether the soul enters into the body philosophy which is called the investigation of nature; to once only or many times, does not, as you say, make any know the causes of things, and why a thing is and is created difference in the fears of individuals. For any man, who is or destroyed appeared to me to be a lofty profession; and I not devoid of sense, must fear, if he has no knowledge and was always agitating myself with the consideration of ques-can give no account of the soul’s immortality. This, or some-tions such as these:—Is the growth of animals the result of thing like this, I suspect to be your notion, Cebes; and I some decay which the hot and cold principle contracts, as designedly recur to it in order that nothing may escape us, some have said? Is the blood the element with which we and that you may, if you wish, add or subtract anything.

think, or the air, or the fire? or perhaps nothing of the kind—

But, said Cebes, as far as I see at present, I have nothing to but the brain may be the originating power of the percep-add or subtract: I mean what you say that I mean.

tions of hearing and sight and smell, and memory and opin-Socrates paused awhile, and seemed to be absorbed in re-ion may come from them, and science may be based on 83


memory and opinion when they have attained fixity. And two more than eight, and that two cubits are more than then I went on to examine the corruption of them, and then one, because two is the double of one.

to the things of heaven and earth, and at last I concluded And what is now your notion of such matters? said Cebes.

myself to be utterly and absolutely incapable of these enqui-I should be far enough from imagining, he replied, that I ries, as I will satisfactorily prove to you. For I was fascinated knew the cause of any of them, by heaven I should; for I by them to such a degree that my eyes grew blind to things cannot satisfy myself that, when one is added to one, the which I had seemed to myself, and also to others, to know one to which the addition is made becomes two, or that the quite well; I forgot what I had before thought self-evident two units added together make two by reason of the addi-truths; e.g. such a fact as that the growth of man is the result tion. I cannot understand how, when separated from the of eating and drinking; for when by the digestion of food other, each of them was one and not two, and now, when flesh is added to flesh and bone to bone, and whenever there they are brought together, the mere juxtaposition or meet-is an aggregation of congenial elements, the lesser bulk being of them should be the cause of their becoming two: nei-comes larger and the small man great. Was not that a rea-ther can I understand how the division of one is the way to sonable notion?

make two; for then a different cause would produce the same Yes, said Cebes, I think so.

effect,—as in the former instance the addition and juxtapo-Well; but let me tell you something more. There was a sition of one to one was the cause of two, in this the separa-time when I thought that I understood the meaning of greater tion and subtraction of one from the other would be the and less pretty well; and when I saw a great man standing by cause. Nor am I any longer satisfied that I understand the a little one, I fancied that one was taller than the other by a reason why one or anything else is either generated or de-head; or one horse would appear to be greater than another stroyed or is at all, but I have in my mind some confused horse: and still more clearly did I seem to perceive that ten is notion of a new method, and can never admit the other.



Then I heard some one reading, as he said, from a book of on and ask him about the sun and moon and stars, and that Anaxagoras, that mind was the disposer and cause of all, and he would explain to me their comparative swiftness, and their I was delighted at this notion, which appeared quite admi-returnings and various states, active and passive, and how all rable, and I said to myself: If mind is the disposer, mind will of them were for the best. For I could not imagine that when dispose all for the best, and put each particular in the best he spoke of mind as the disposer of them, he would give any place; and I argued that if any one desired to find out the other account of their being as they are, except that this was cause of the generation or destruction or existence of any-best; and I thought that when he had explained to me in thing, he must find out what state of being or doing or suf-detail the cause of each and the cause of all, he would go on fering was best for that thing, and therefore a man had only to explain to me what was best for each and what was good to consider the best for himself and others, and then he would for all. These hopes I would not have sold for a large sum of also know the worse, since the same science comprehended money, and I seized the books and read them as fast as I both. And I rejoiced to think that I had found in Anaxagoras could in my eagerness to know the better and the worse.

a teacher of the causes of existence such as I desired, and I What expectations I had formed, and how grievously was imagined that he would tell me first whether the earth is flat I disappointed! As I proceeded, I found my philosopher al-or round; and whichever was true, he would proceed to ex-together forsaking mind or any other principle of order, but plain the cause and the necessity of this being so, and then having recourse to air, and ether, and water, and other ec-he would teach me the nature of the best and show that this centricities. I might compare him to a person who began by was best; and if he said that the earth was in the centre, he maintaining generally that mind is the cause of the actions would further explain that this position was the best, and I of Socrates, but who, when he endeavoured to explain the should be satisfied with the explanation given, and not want causes of my several actions in detail, went on to show that I any other sort of cause. And I thought that I would then go sit here because my body is made up of bones and muscles; 85


and the bones, as he would say, are hard and have joints indeed, that without bones and muscles and the other parts which divide them, and the muscles are elastic, and they of the body I cannot execute my purposes. But to say that I cover the bones, which have also a covering or environment do as I do because of them, and that this is the way in which of flesh and skin which contains them; and as the bones are mind acts, and not from the choice of the best, is a very lifted at their joints by the contraction or relaxation of the careless and idle mode of speaking. I wonder that they can-muscles, I am able to bend my limbs, and this is why I am not distinguish the cause from the condition, which the sitting here in a curved posture—that is what he would say, many, feeling about in the dark, are always mistaking and and he would have a similar explanation of my talking to misnaming. And thus one man makes a vortex all round you, which he would attribute to sound, and air, and hear-and steadies the earth by the heaven; another gives the air as ing, and he would assign ten thousand other causes of the a support to the earth, which is a sort of broad trough. Any same sort, forgetting to mention the true cause, which is, power which in arranging them as they are arranges them that the Athenians have thought fit to condemn me, and for the best never enters into their minds; and instead of accordingly I have thought it better and more right to re-finding any superior strength in it, they rather expect to dis-main here and undergo my sentence; for I am inclined to cover another Atlas of the world who is stronger and more think that these muscles and bones of mine would have gone everlasting and more containing than the good;—of the off long ago to Megara or Boeotia—by the dog they would, obligatory and containing power of the good they think if they had been moved only by their own idea of what was nothing; and yet this is the principle which I would fain best, and if I had not chosen the better and nobler part, learn if any one would teach me. But as I have failed either instead of playing truant and running away, of enduring any to discover myself, or to learn of any one else, the nature of punishment which the state inflicts. There is surely a strange the best, I will exhibit to you, if you like, what I have found confusion of causes and conditions in all this. It may be said, to be the second best mode of enquiring into the cause.



I should very much like to hear, he replied.

more clearly, as I do not think that you as yet understand Socrates proceeded:—I thought that as I had failed in the me.

contemplation of true existence, I ought to be careful that I No indeed, replied Cebes, not very well.

did not lose the eye of my soul; as people may injure their There is nothing new, he said, in what I am about to tell bodily eye by observing and gazing on the sun during an you; but only what I have been always and everywhere re-eclipse, unless they take the precaution of only looking at peating in the previous discussion and on other occasions: I the image reflected in the water, or in some similar medium.

want to show you the nature of that cause which has occu-So in my own case, I was afraid that my soul might be blinded pied my thoughts. I shall have to go back to those familiar altogether if I looked at things with my eyes or tried to ap-words which are in the mouth of every one, and first of all prehend them by the help of the senses. And I thought that assume that there is an absolute beauty and goodness and I had better have recourse to the world of mind and seek greatness, and the like; grant me this, and I hope to be able there the truth of existence. I dare say that the simile is not to show you the nature of the cause, and to prove the imperfect—for I am very far from admitting that he who con-mortality of the soul.

templates existences through the medium of thought, sees Cebes said: You may proceed at once with the proof, for I them only ‘through a glass darkly,’ any more than he who grant you this.

considers them in action and operation. However, this was Well, he said, then I should like to know whether you the method which I adopted: I first assumed some principle agree with me in the next step; for I cannot help thinking, if which I judged to be the strongest, and then I affirmed as there be anything beautiful other than absolute beauty should true whatever seemed to agree with this, whether relating to there be such, that it can be beautiful only in as far as it the cause or to anything else; and that which disagreed I partakes of absolute beauty—and I should say the same of regarded as untrue. But I should like to explain my meaning everything. Do you agree in this notion of the cause?



Yes, he said, I agree.

Then if a person were to remark that A is taller by a head He proceeded: I know nothing and can understand noth-than B, and B less by a head than A, you would refuse to ing of any other of those wise causes which are alleged; and admit his statement, and would stoutly contend that what if a person says to me that the bloom of colour, or form, or you mean is only that the greater is greater by, and by reason any such thing is a source of beauty, I leave all that, which is of, greatness, and the less is less only by, and by reason of, only confusing to me, and simply and singly, and perhaps smallness; and thus you would avoid the danger of saying foolishly, hold and am assured in my own mind that noth-that the greater is greater and the less less by the measure of ing makes a thing beautiful but the presence and participa-the head, which is the same in both, and would also avoid tion of beauty in whatever way or manner obtained; for as the monstrous absurdity of supposing that the greater man to the manner I am uncertain, but I stoutly contend that by is greater by reason of the head, which is small. You would beauty all beautiful things become beautiful. This appears be afraid to draw such an inference, would you not?

to me to be the safest answer which I can give, either to Indeed, I should, said Cebes, laughing.

myself or to another, and to this I cling, in the persuasion In like manner you would be afraid to say that ten ex-that this principle will never be overthrown, and that to ceeded eight by, and by reason of, two; but would say by, myself or to any one who asks the question, I may safely and by reason of, number; or you would say that two cubits reply, That by beauty beautiful things become beautiful. Do exceed one cubit not by a half, but by magnitude?—for there you not agree with me?

is the same liability to error in all these cases.

I do.

Very true, he said.

And that by greatness only great things become great and Again, would you not be cautious of affirming that the greater greater, and by smallness the less become less?

addition of one to one, or the division of one, is the cause of True.

two? And you would loudly asseverate that you know of no 88


way in which anything comes into existence except by partici-What you say is most true, said Simmias and Cebes, both pation in its own proper essence, and consequently, as far as speaking at once.

you know, the only cause of two is the participation in duality—this is the way to make two, and the participation in one is ECHECRATES: Yes, Phaedo; and I do not wonder at their the way to make one. You would say: I will let alone puzzles of assenting. Any one who has the least sense will acknowledge division and addition—wiser heads than mine may answer them; the wonderful clearness of Socrates’ reasoning.

inexperienced as I am, and ready to start, as the proverb says, at my own shadow, I cannot afford to give up the sure ground of PHAEDO: Certainly, Echecrates; and such was the feeling a principle. And if any one assails you there, you would not of the whole company at the time.

mind him, or answer him, until you had seen whether the consequences which follow agree with one another or not, and ECHECRATES: Yes, and equally of ourselves, who were not when you are further required to give an explanation of this of the company, and are now listening to your recital. But principle, you would go on to assume a higher principle, and a what followed?

higher, until you found a resting-place in the best of the higher; but you would not confuse the principle and the consequences PHAEDO: After all this had been admitted, and they had in your reasoning, like the Eristics—at least if you wanted to that ideas exist, and that other things participate in them discover real existence. Not that this confusion signifies to them, and derive their names from them, Socrates, if I remember who never care or think about the matter at all, for they have rightly, said:—

the wit to be well pleased with themselves however great may This is your way of speaking; and yet when you say that be the turmoil of their ideas. But you, if you are a philosopher, Simmias is greater than Socrates and less than Phaedo, do will certainly do as I say.

you not predicate of Simmias both greatness and smallness?



Yes, I do.

and also small, but that greatness in us or in the concrete But still you allow that Simmias does not really exceed will never admit the small or admit of being exceeded: in-Socrates, as the words may seem to imply, because he is stead of this, one of two things will happen, either the greater Simmias, but by reason of the size which he has; just as will fly or retire before the opposite, which is the less, or at Simmias does not exceed Socrates because he is Simmias, the approach of the less has already ceased to exist; but will any more than because Socrates is Socrates, but because he not, if allowing or admitting of smallness, be changed by has smallness when compared with the greatness of Simmias?

that; even as I, having received and admitted smallness when True.

compared with Simmias, remain just as I was, and am the And if Phaedo exceeds him in size, this is not because same small person. And as the idea of greatness cannot con-Phaedo is Phaedo, but because Phaedo has greatness rela-descend ever to be or become small, in like manner the small-tively to Simmias, who is comparatively smaller?

ness in us cannot be or become great; nor can any other That is true.

opposite which remains the same ever be or become its own And therefore Simmias is said to be great, and is also said opposite, but either passes away or perishes in the change.

to be small, because he is in a mean between them, exceed-That, replied Cebes, is quite my notion.

ing the smallness of the one by his greatness, and allowing Hereupon one of the company, though I do not exactly the greatness of the other to exceed his smallness. He added, remember which of them, said: In heaven’s name, is not this laughing, I am speaking like a book, but I believe that what the direct contrary of what was admitted before—that out I am saying is true.

of the greater came the less and out of the less the greater, Simmias assented.

and that opposites were simply generated from opposites; I speak as I do because I want you to agree with me in but now this principle seems to be utterly denied.

thinking, not only that absolute greatness will never be great Socrates inclined his head to the speaker and listened. I 90


like your courage, he said, in reminding us of this. But you Certainly.

do not observe that there is a difference in the two cases. For But are they the same as fire and snow?

then we were speaking of opposites in the concrete, and now Most assuredly not.

of the essential opposite which, as is affirmed, neither in us Heat is a thing different from fire, and cold is not the nor in nature can ever be at variance with itself: then, my same with snow?

friend, we were speaking of things in which opposites are Yes.

inherent and which are called after them, but now about the And yet you will surely admit, that when snow, as was opposites which are inherent in them and which give their before said, is under the influence of heat, they will not re-name to them; and these essential opposites will never, as we main snow and heat; but at the advance of the heat, the maintain, admit of generation into or out of one another.

snow will either retire or perish?

At the same time, turning to Cebes, he said: Are you at all Very true, he replied.

disconcerted, Cebes, at our friend’s objection?

And the fire too at the advance of the cold will either re-No, I do not feel so, said Cebes; and yet I cannot deny tire or perish; and when the fire is under the influence of the that I am often disturbed by objections.

cold, they will not remain as before, fire and cold.

Then we are agreed after all, said Socrates, that the oppo-That is true, he said.

site will never in any case be opposed to itself?

And in some cases the name of the idea is not only at-To that we are quite agreed, he replied.

tached to the idea in an eternal connection, but anything Yet once more let me ask you to consider the question else which, not being the idea, exists only in the form of the from another point of view, and see whether you agree with idea, may also lay claim to it. I will try to make this clearer me:—There is a thing which you term heat, and another by an example:—The odd number is always called by the thing which you term cold?

name of odd?



Very true.

Will not the number three endure annihilation or anything But is this the only thing which is called odd? Are there sooner than be converted into an even number, while re-not other things which have their own name, and yet are maining three?

called odd, because, although not the same as oddness, they Very true, said Cebes.

are never without oddness?—that is what I mean to ask—

And yet, he said, the number two is certainly not opposed whether numbers such as the number three are not of the to the number three?

class of odd. And there are many other examples: would you It is not.

not say, for example, that three may be called by its proper Then not only do opposite ideas repel the advance of one name, and also be called odd, which is not the same with another, but also there are other natures which repel the ap-three? and this may be said not only of three but also of five, proach of opposites.

and of every alternate number—each of them without be-Very true, he said.

ing oddness is odd, and in the same way two and four, and Suppose, he said, that we endeavour, if possible, to deter-the other series of alternate numbers, has every number even, mine what these are.

without being evenness. Do you agree?

By all means.

Of course.

Are they not, Cebes, such as compel the things of which Then now mark the point at which I am aiming:—not they have possession, not only to take their own form, but only do essential opposites exclude one another, but also also the form of some opposite?

concrete things, which, although not in themselves opposed, What do you mean?

contain opposites; these, I say, likewise reject the idea which I mean, as I was just now saying, and as I am sure that you is opposed to that which is contained in them, and when it know, that those things which are possessed by the number approaches them they either perish or withdraw. For example; three must not only be three in number, but must also be odd.



Quite true.

eral conclusion, that not only opposites will not receive oppo-And on this oddness, of which the number three has the sites, but also that nothing which brings the opposite will ad-impress, the opposite idea will never intrude?

mit the opposite of that which it brings, in that to which it is No.

brought. And here let me recapitulate—for there is no harm And this impress was given by the odd principle?

in repetition. The number five will not admit the nature of Yes.

the even, any more than ten, which is the double of five, will And to the odd is opposed the even?

admit the nature of the odd. The double has another oppo-True.

site, and is not strictly opposed to the odd, but nevertheless Then the idea of the even number will never arrive at three?

rejects the odd altogether. Nor again will parts in the ratio No.

3:2, nor any fraction in which there is a half, nor again in Then three has no part in the even?

which there is a third, admit the notion of the whole, although None.

they are not opposed to the whole: You will agree?

Then the triad or number three is uneven?

Yes, he said, I entirely agree and go along with you in that.

Very true.

And now, he said, let us begin again; and do not you an-To return then to my distinction of natures which are not swer my question in the words in which I ask it: let me have opposed, and yet do not admit opposites—as, in the instance not the old safe answer of which I spoke at first, but another given, three, although not opposed to the even, does not any equally safe, of which the truth will be inferred by you from the more admit of the even, but always brings the opposite what has been just said. I mean that if any one asks you into play on the other side; or as two does not receive the odd,

‘what that is, of which the inherence makes the body hot,’

or fire the cold—from these examples (and there are many you will reply not heat (this is what I call the safe and stupid more of them) perhaps you may be able to arrive at the gen-answer), but fire, a far superior answer, which we are now in 93


a condition to give. Or if any one asks you ‘why a body is Impossible, replied Cebes.

diseased,’ you will not say from disease, but from fever; and And now, he said, what did we just now call that principle instead of saying that oddness is the cause of odd numbers, which repels the even?

you will say that the monad is the cause of them: and so of The odd.

things in general, as I dare say that you will understand suf-And that principle which repels the musical, or the just?

ficiently without my adducing any further examples.

The unmusical, he said, and the unjust.

Yes, he said, I quite understand you.

And what do we call the principle which does not admit Tell me, then, what is that of which the inherence will of death?

render the body alive?

The immortal, he said.

The soul, he replied.

And does the soul admit of death?

And is this always the case?


Yes, he said, of course.

Then the soul is immortal?

Then whatever the soul possesses, to that she comes bear-Yes, he said.

ing life?

And may we say that this has been proven?

Yes, certainly.

Yes, abundantly proven, Socrates, he replied.

And is there any opposite to life?

Supposing that the odd were imperishable, must not three There is, he said.

be imperishable?

And what is that?

Of course.


And if that which is cold were imperishable, when the Then the soul, as has been acknowledged, will never re-warm principle came attacking the snow, must not the snow ceive the opposite of what she brings.

have retired whole and unmelted—for it could never have 94


perished, nor could it have remained and admitted the heat?

argument would have held good of fire and heat and any True, he said.

other thing.

Again, if the uncooling or warm principle were imperish-Very true.

able, the fire when assailed by cold would not have perished And the same may be said of the immortal: if the immor-or have been extinguished, but would have gone away unaf-tal is also imperishable, then the soul will be imperishable as fected?

well as immortal; but if not, some other proof of her imper-Certainly, he said.

ishableness will have to be given.

And the same may be said of the immortal: if the immor-No other proof is needed, he said; for if the immortal, tal is also imperishable, the soul when attacked by death being eternal, is liable to perish, then nothing is imperish-cannot perish; for the preceding argument shows that the able.

soul will not admit of death, or ever be dead, any more than Yes, replied Socrates, and yet all men will agree that God, three or the odd number will admit of the even, or fire or and the essential form of life, and the immortal in general, the heat in the fire, of the cold. Yet a person may say: ‘But will never perish.

although the odd will not become even at the approach of Yes, all men, he said—that is true; and what is more, gods, the even, why may not the odd perish and the even take the if I am not mistaken, as well as men.

place of the odd?’ Now to him who makes this objection, Seeing then that the immortal is indestructible, must not we cannot answer that the odd principle is imperishable; for the soul, if she is immortal, be also imperishable?

this has not been acknowledged, but if this had been ac-Most certainly.

knowledged, there would have been no difficulty in con-Then when death attacks a man, the mortal portion of tending that at the approach of the even the odd principle him may be supposed to die, but the immortal retires at the and the number three took their departure; and the same approach of death and is preserved safe and sound?




Very true.

Then, Cebes, beyond question, the soul is immortal and But then, O my friends, he said, if the soul is really im-imperishable, and our souls will truly exist in another world!

mortal, what care should be taken of her, not only in respect I am convinced, Socrates, said Cebes, and have nothing of the portion of time which is called life, but of eternity!

more to object; but if my friend Simmias, or any one else, And the danger of neglecting her from this point of view has any further objection to make, he had better speak out, does indeed appear to be awful. If death had only been the and not keep silence, since I do not know to what other end of all, the wicked would have had a good bargain in season he can defer the discussion, if there is anything which dying, for they would have been happily quit not only of he wants to say or to have said.

their body, but of their own evil together with their souls.

But I have nothing more to say, replied Simmias; nor can But now, inasmuch as the soul is manifestly immortal, there I see any reason for doubt after what has been said. But I still is no release or salvation from evil except the attainment of feel and cannot help feeling uncertain in my own mind, the highest virtue and wisdom. For the soul when on her when I think of the greatness of the subject and the feeble-progress to the world below takes nothing with her but nur-ness of man.

ture and education; and these are said greatly to benefit or Yes, Simmias, replied Socrates, that is well said: and I may greatly to injure the departed, at the very beginning of his add that first principles, even if they appear certain, should journey thither.

be carefully considered; and when they are satisfactorily as-For after death, as they say, the genius of each individual, certained, then, with a sort of hesitating confidence in hu-to whom he belonged in life, leads him to a certain place in man reason, you may, I think, follow the course of the argu-which the dead are gathered together, whence after judgment; and if that be plain and clear, there will be no need for ment has been given they pass into the world below, follow-any further enquiry.

ing the guide, who is appointed to conduct them from this 96


world to the other: and when they have there received their they are fulfilled, she is borne irresistibly to her own fitting due and remained their time, another guide brings them habitation; as every pure and just soul which has passed back again after many revolutions of ages. Now this way to through life in the company and under the guidance of the the other world is not, as Aeschylus says in the Telephus, a gods has also her own proper home.

single and straight path—if that were so no guide would be Now the earth has divers wonderful regions, and is indeed needed, for no one could miss it; but there are many partin nature and extent very unlike the notions of geographers, ings of the road, and windings, as I infer from the rites and as I believe on the authority of one who shall be nameless.

sacrifices which are offered to the gods below in places where What do you mean, Socrates? said Simmias. I have myself three ways meet on earth. The wise and orderly soul follows heard many descriptions of the earth, but I do not know, in the straight path and is conscious of her surroundings; and I should very much like to know, in which of these you but the soul which desires the body, and which, as I was put faith.

relating before, has long been fluttering about the lifeless And I, Simmias, replied Socrates, if I had the art of Glaucus frame and the world of sight, is after many struggles and would tell you; although I know not that the art of Glaucus many sufferings hardly and with violence carried away by could prove the truth of my tale, which I myself should never her attendant genius, and when she arrives at the place where be able to prove, and even if I could, I fear, Simmias, that the other souls are gathered, if she be impure and have done my life would come to an end before the argument was com-impure deeds, whether foul murders or other crimes which pleted. I may describe to you, however, the form and re-are the brothers of these, and the works of brothers in crime—

gions of the earth according to my conception of them.

from that soul every one flees and turns away; no one will be That, said Simmias, will be enough.

her companion, no one her guide, but alone she wanders in Well, then, he said, my conviction is, that the earth is a extremity of evil until certain times are fulfilled, and when round body in the centre of the heavens, and therefore has 97


no need of air or any similar force to be a support, but is is just as if a creature who was at the bottom of the sea were kept there and hindered from falling or inclining any way to fancy that he was on the surface of the water, and that the by the equability of the surrounding heaven and by her own sea was the heaven through which he saw the sun and the equipoise. For that which, being in equipoise, is in the cen-other stars, he having never come to the surface by reason of tre of that which is equably diffused, will not incline any his feebleness and sluggishness, and having never lifted up way in any degree, but will always remain in the same state his head and seen, nor ever heard from one who had seen, and not deviate. And this is my first notion.

how much purer and fairer the world above is than his own.

Which is surely a correct one, said Simmias.

And such is exactly our case: for we are dwelling in a hollow Also I believe that the earth is very vast, and that we who of the earth, and fancy that we are on the surface; and the air dwell in the region extending from the river Phasis to the we call the heaven, in which we imagine that the stars move.

Pillars of Heracles inhabit a small portion only about the But the fact is, that owing to our feebleness and sluggishness sea, like ants or frogs about a marsh, and that there are other we are prevented from reaching the surface of the air: for if inhabitants of many other like places; for everywhere on the any man could arrive at the exterior limit, or take the wings face of the earth there are hollows of various forms and sizes, of a bird and come to the top, then like a fish who puts his into which the water and the mist and the lower air collect.

head out of the water and sees this world, he would see a But the true earth is pure and situated in the pure heaven—

world beyond; and, if the nature of man could sustain the there are the stars also; and it is the heaven which is com-sight, he would acknowledge that this other world was the monly spoken of by us as the ether, and of which our own place of the true heaven and the true light and the true earth.

earth is the sediment gathering in the hollows beneath. But For our earth, and the stones, and the entire region which we who live in these hollows are deceived into the notion surrounds us, are spoilt and corroded, as in the sea all things that we are dwelling above on the surface of the earth; which are corroded by the brine, neither is there any noble or per-98


fect growth, but caverns only, and sand, and an endless slough like light gleaming amid the diversity of the other colours, of mud: and even the shore is not to be compared to the so that the whole presents a single and continuous appear-fairer sights of this world. And still less is this our world to ance of variety in unity. And in this fair region everything be compared with the other. Of that upper earth which is that grows—trees, and flowers, and fruits—are in a like de-under the heaven, I can tell you a charming tale, Simmias, gree fairer than any here; and there are hills, having stones which is well worth hearing.

in them in a like degree smoother, and more transparent, And we, Socrates, replied Simmias, shall be charmed to and fairer in colour than our highly-valued emeralds and listen to you.

sardonyxes and jaspers, and other gems, which are but minute The tale, my friend, he said, is as follows:—In the first fragments of them: for there all the stones are like our pre-place, the earth, when looked at from above, is in appear-cious stones, and fairer still (compare Republic). The reason ance streaked like one of those balls which have leather cov-is, that they are pure, and not, like our precious stones, inerings in twelve pieces, and is decked with various colours, fected or corroded by the corrupt briny elements which co-of which the colours used by painters on earth are in a man-agulate among us, and which breed foulness and disease both ner samples. But there the whole earth is made up of them, in earth and stones, as well as in animals and plants. They and they are brighter far and clearer than ours; there is a are the jewels of the upper earth, which also shines with purple of wonderful lustre, also the radiance of gold, and gold and silver and the like, and they are set in the light of the white which is in the earth is whiter than any chalk or day and are large and abundant and in all places, making the snow. Of these and other colours the earth is made up, and earth a sight to gladden the beholder’s eye. And there are they are more in number and fairer than the eye of man has animals and men, some in a middle region, others dwelling ever seen; the very hollows (of which I was speaking) filled about the air as we dwell about the sea; others in islands with air and water have a colour of their own, and are seen which the air flows round, near the continent: and in a word, 99


the air is used by them as the water and the sea are by us, and tide of water, and huge subterranean streams of perennial the ether is to them what the air is to us. Moreover, the rivers, and springs hot and cold, and a great fire, and great temperament of their seasons is such that they have no dis-rivers of fire, and streams of liquid mud, thin or thick (like ease, and live much longer than we do, and have sight and the rivers of mud in Sicily, and the lava streams which fol-hearing and smell, and all the other senses, in far greater low them), and the regions about which they happen to flow perfection, in the same proportion that air is purer than water are filled up with them. And there is a swinging or see-saw or the ether than air. Also they have temples and sacred places in the interior of the earth which moves all this up and down, in which the gods really dwell, and they hear their voices and is due to the following cause:—There is a chasm which and receive their answers, and are conscious of them and is the vastest of them all, and pierces right through the whole hold converse with them, and they see the sun, moon, and earth; this is that chasm which Homer describes in the stars as they truly are, and their other blessedness is of a words,—

piece with this.

‘Far off, where is the inmost depth beneath the earth;’

Such is the nature of the whole earth, and of the things and which he in other places, and many other poets, have which are around the earth; and there are divers regions in called Tartarus. And the see-saw is caused by the streams the hollows on the face of the globe everywhere, some of flowing into and out of this chasm, and they each have the them deeper and more extended than that which we inhabit, nature of the soil through which they flow. And the reason others deeper but with a narrower opening than ours, and why the streams are always flowing in and out, is that the some are shallower and also wider. All have numerous per-watery element has no bed or bottom, but is swinging and forations, and there are passages broad and narrow in the surging up and down, and the surrounding wind and air do interior of the earth, connecting them with one another; the same; they follow the water up and down, hither and and there flows out of and into them, as into basins, a vast thither, over the earth—just as in the act of respiration the 100


air is always in process of inhalation and exhalation;—and the Now these rivers are many, and mighty, and diverse, and wind swinging with the water in and out produces fearful and there are four principal ones, of which the greatest and out-irresistible blasts: when the waters retire with a rush into the ermost is that called Oceanus, which flows round the earth lower parts of the earth, as they are called, they flow through in a circle; and in the opposite direction flows Acheron, which the earth in those regions, and fill them up like water raised passes under the earth through desert places into the by a pump, and then when they leave those regions and rush Acherusian lake: this is the lake to the shores of which the back hither, they again fill the hollows here, and when these souls of the many go when they are dead, and after waiting are filled, flow through subterranean channels and find their an appointed time, which is to some a longer and to some a way to their several places, forming seas, and lakes, and rivers, shorter time, they are sent back to be born again as animals.

and springs. Thence they again enter the earth, some of them The third river passes out between the two, and near the making a long circuit into many lands, others going to a few place of outlet pours into a vast region of fire, and forms a places and not so distant; and again fall into Tartarus, some at lake larger than the Mediterranean Sea, boiling with water a point a good deal lower than that at which they rose, and and mud; and proceeding muddy and turbid, and winding others not much lower, but all in some degree lower than the about the earth, comes, among other places, to the extremi-point from which they came. And some burst forth again on ties of the Acherusian Lake, but mingles not with the waters the opposite side, and some on the same side, and some wind of the lake, and after making many coils about the earth round the earth with one or many folds like the coils of a plunges into Tartarus at a deeper level. This is that serpent, and descend as far as they can, but always return and Pyriphlegethon, as the stream is called, which throws up jets fall into the chasm. The rivers flowing in either direction can of fire in different parts of the earth. The fourth river goes descend only to the centre and no further, for opposite to the out on the opposite side, and falls first of all into a wild and rivers is a precipice.

savage region, which is all of a dark-blue colour, like lapis 101


lazuli; and this is that river which is called the Stygian river, have committed many and terrible deeds of sacrilege, mur-and falls into and forms the Lake Styx, and after falling into ders foul and violent, or the like—such are hurled into the lake and receiving strange powers in the waters, passes Tartarus which is their suitable destiny, and they never come under the earth, winding round in the opposite direction, out. Those again who have committed crimes, which, al-and comes near the Acherusian lake from the opposite side though great, are not irremediable—who in a moment of to Pyriphlegethon. And the water of this river too mingles anger, for example, have done violence to a father or a mother, with no other, but flows round in a circle and falls into and have repented for the remainder of their lives, or, who Tartarus over against Pyriphlegethon; and the name of the have taken the life of another under the like extenuating river, as the poets say, is Cocytus.

circumstances—these are plunged into Tartarus, the pains Such is the nature of the other world; and when the dead of which they are compelled to undergo for a year, but at the arrive at the place to which the genius of each severally guides end of the year the wave casts them forth—mere homicides them, first of all, they have sentence passed upon them, as by way of Cocytus, parricides and matricides by they have lived well and piously or not. And those who ap-Pyriphlegethon—and they are borne to the Acherusian lake, pear to have lived neither well nor ill, go to the river Acheron, and there they lift up their voices and call upon the victims and embarking in any vessels which they may find, are car-whom they have slain or wronged, to have pity on them, ried in them to the lake, and there they dwell and are puri-and to be kind to them, and let them come out into the fied of their evil deeds, and having suffered the penalty of lake. And if they prevail, then they come forth and cease the wrongs which they have done to others, they are ab-from their troubles; but if not, they are carried back again solved, and receive the rewards of their good deeds, each of into Tartarus and from thence into the rivers unceasingly, them according to his deserts. But those who appear to be until they obtain mercy from those whom they have incurable by reason of the greatness of their crimes—who wronged: for that is the sentence inflicted upon them by 102


their judges. Those too who have been pre-eminent for ho-edge; and has arrayed the soul, not in some foreign attire, liness of life are released from this earthly prison, and go to but in her own proper jewels, temperance, and justice, and their pure home which is above, and dwell in the purer earth; courage, and nobility, and truth—in these adorned she is and of these, such as have duly purified themselves with ready to go on her journey to the world below, when her philosophy live henceforth altogether without the body, in hour comes. You, Simmias and Cebes, and all other men, mansions fairer still which may not be described, and of will depart at some time or other. Me already, as the tragic which the time would fail me to tell.

poet would say, the voice of fate calls. Soon I must drink the Wherefore, Simmias, seeing all these things, what ought poison; and I think that I had better repair to the bath first, not we to do that we may obtain virtue and wisdom in this in order that the women may not have the trouble of wash-life? Fair is the prize, and the hope great!

ing my body after I am dead.

A man of sense ought not to say, nor will I be very confi-When he had done speaking, Crito said: And have you dent, that the description which I have given of the soul and any commands for us, Socrates—anything to say about your her mansions is exactly true. But I do say that, inasmuch as children, or any other matter in which we can serve you?

the soul is shown to be immortal, he may venture to think, Nothing particular, Crito, he replied: only, as I have al-not improperly or unworthily, that something of the kind is ways told you, take care of yourselves; that is a service which true. The venture is a glorious one, and he ought to comfort you may be ever rendering to me and mine and to all of us, himself with words like these, which is the reason why I whether you promise to do so or not. But if you have no lengthen out the tale. Wherefore, I say, let a man be of good thought for yourselves, and care not to walk according to cheer about his soul, who having cast away the pleasures and the rule which I have prescribed for you, not now for the ornaments of the body as alien to him and working harm first time, however much you may profess or promise at the rather than good, has sought after the pleasures of knowl-moment, it will be of no avail.



We will do our best, said Crito: And in what way shall we or, Thus we follow him to the grave or bury him; for false bury you?

words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the In any way that you like; but you must get hold of me, soul with evil. Be of good cheer, then, my dear Crito, and and take care that I do not run away from you. Then he say that you are burying my body only, and do with that turned to us, and added with a smile:—I cannot make Crito whatever is usual, and what you think best.

believe that I am the same Socrates who have been talking When he had spoken these words, he arose and went into and conducting the argument; he fancies that I am the other a chamber to bathe; Crito followed him and told us to wait.

Socrates whom he will soon see, a dead body—and he asks, So we remained behind, talking and thinking of the subject How shall he bury me? And though I have spoken many of discourse, and also of the greatness of our sorrow; he was words in the endeavour to show that when I have drunk the like a father of whom we were being bereaved, and we were poison I shall leave you and go to the joys of the blessed,—

about to pass the rest of our lives as orphans. When he had these words of mine, with which I was comforting you and taken the bath his children were brought to him—(he had myself, have had, as I perceive, no effect upon Crito. And two young sons and an elder one); and the women of his therefore I want you to be surety for me to him now, as at family also came, and he talked to them and gave them a the trial he was surety to the judges for me: but let the promise few directions in the presence of Crito; then he dismissed be of another sort; for he was surety for me to the judges them and returned to us.

that I would remain, and you must be my surety to him that Now the hour of sunset was near, for a good deal of time I shall not remain, but go away and depart; and then he will had passed while he was within. When he came out, he sat suffer less at my death, and not be grieved when he sees my down with us again after his bath, but not much was said.

body being burned or buried. I would not have him sorrow Soon the jailer, who was the servant of the Eleven, entered at my hard lot, or say at the burial, Thus we lay out Socrates, and stood by him, saying:—To you, Socrates, whom I know 104


to be the noblest and gentlest and best of all who ever came Socrates said: Yes, Crito, and they of whom you speak are to this place, I will not impute the angry feelings of other right in so acting, for they think that they will be gainers by men, who rage and swear at me, when, in obedience to the the delay; but I am right in not following their example, for authorities, I bid them drink the poison—indeed, I am sure I do not think that I should gain anything by drinking the that you will not be angry with me; for others, as you are poison a little later; I should only be ridiculous in my own aware, and not I, are to blame. And so fare you well, and try eyes for sparing and saving a life which is already forfeit.

to bear lightly what must needs be—you know my errand.

Please then to do as I say, and not to refuse me.

Then bursting into tears he turned away and went out.

Crito made a sign to the servant, who was standing by; Socrates looked at him and said: I return your good wishes, and he went out, and having been absent for some time, and will do as you bid. Then turning to us, he said, How returned with the jailer carrying the cup of poison. Socrates charming the man is: since I have been in prison he has said: You, my good friend, who are experienced in these always been coming to see me, and at times he would talk to matters, shall give me directions how I am to proceed. The me, and was as good to me as could be, and now see how man answered: You have only to walk about until your legs generously he sorrows on my account. We must do as he are heavy, and then to lie down, and the poison will act. At says, Crito; and therefore let the cup be brought, if the poi-the same time he handed the cup to Socrates, who in the son is prepared: if not, let the attendant prepare some.

easiest and gentlest manner, without the least fear or change Yet, said Crito, the sun is still upon the hill-tops, and I of colour or feature, looking at the man with all his eyes, know that many a one has taken the draught late, and after Echecrates, as his manner was, took the cup and said: What the announcement has been made to him, he has eaten and do you say about making a libation out of this cup to any drunk, and enjoyed the society of his beloved; do not hurry—

god? May I, or not? The man answered: We only prepare, there is time enough.

Socrates, just so much as we deem enough. I understand, he 105


said: but I may and must ask the gods to prosper my journey the man who gave him the poison now and then looked at from this to the other world—even so—and so be it accord-his feet and legs; and after a while he pressed his foot hard, ing to my prayer. Then raising the cup to his lips, quite readily and asked him if he could feel; and he said, No; and then his and cheerfully he drank off the poison. And hitherto most leg, and so upwards and upwards, and showed us that he of us had been able to control our sorrow; but now when we was cold and stiff. And he felt them himself, and said: When saw him drinking, and saw too that he had finished the the poison reaches the heart, that will be the end. He was draught, we could no longer forbear, and in spite of myself beginning to grow cold about the groin, when he uncovered my own tears were flowing fast; so that I covered my face his face, for he had covered himself up, and said—they were and wept, not for him, but at the thought of my own calam-his last words—he said: Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; ity in having to part from such a friend. Nor was I the first; will you remember to pay the debt? The debt shall be paid, for Crito, when he found himself unable to restrain his tears, said Crito; is there anything else? There was no answer to had got up, and I followed; and at that moment, Apollodorus, this question; but in a minute or two a movement was heard, who had been weeping all the time, broke out in a loud and and the attendants uncovered him; his eyes were set, and passionate cry which made cowards of us all. Socrates alone Crito closed his eyes and mouth.

retained his calmness: What is this strange outcry? he said. I Such was the end, Echecrates, of our friend; concerning sent away the women mainly in order that they might not whom I may truly say, that of all the men of his time whom misbehave in this way, for I have been told that a man should I have known, he was the wisest and justest and best.

die in peace. Be quiet, then, and have patience. When we heard his words we were ashamed, and refrained our tears; and he walked about until, as he said, his legs began to fail, and then he lay on his back, according to the directions, and 106




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