The Gorgias by Plato. - HTML preview
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And now the combat deepens. In Callicles, far more than and attacking Socrates, whom he accuses of trifling and in any sophist or rhetorician, is concentrated the spirit of word-splitting; he is scandalized that the legitimate conse-evil against which Socrates is contending, the spirit of the quences of his own argument should be stated in plain terms; world, the spirit of the many contending against the one after the manner of men of the world, he wishes to pre-wise man, of which the Sophists, as he describes them in serve the decencies of life. But he cannot consistently main-the Republic, are the imitators rather than the authors, be-tain the bad sense of words; and getting confused between ing themselves carried away by the great tide of public opin-the abstract notions of better, superior, stronger, he is eas-ion. Socrates approaches his antagonist warily from a disily turned round by Socrates, and only induced to continue tance, with a sort of irony which touches with a light hand the argument by the authority of Gorgias. Once, when both his personal vices (probably in allusion to some scan-Socrates is describing the manner in which the ambitious dal of the day) and his servility to the populace. At the same citizen has to identify himself with the people, he partially time, he is in most profound earnest, as Chaerephon re-recognizes the truth of his words.
marks. Callicles soon loses his temper, but the more he is The Socrates of the Gorgias may be compared with the irritated, the more provoking and matter of fact does Socrates of the Protagoras and Meno. As in other dialogues, Socrates become. A repartee of his which appears to have he is the enemy of the Sophists and rhetoricians; and also been really made to the omniscient Hippias, according to of the statesmen, whom he regards as another variety of the the testimony of Xenophon (Mem.), is introduced. He is same species. His behaviour is governed by that of his op-called by Callicles a popular declaimer, and certainly shows ponents; the least forwardness or egotism on their part is that he has the power, in the words of Gorgias, of being as met by a corresponding irony on the part of Socrates. He long as he pleases, or as short as he pleases (compare must speak, for philosophy will not allow him to be silent.
Protag.). Callicles exhibits great ability in defending himself He is indeed more ironical and provoking than in any other 8
of Platos writings: for he is fooled to the top of hisbent by he ironically attributes to his ignorance of the manner in the worldliness of Callicles. But he is also more deeply in which a vote of the assembly should be taken. This is said earnest. He rises higher than even in the Phaedo and Crito: to have happened last year (B.C. 406), and therefore the at first enveloping his moral convictions in a cloud of dust assumed date of the dialogue has been fixed at 405 B.C., and dialectics, he ends by losing his method, his life, himself, when Socrates would already have been an old man. The in them. As in the Protagoras and Phaedrus, throwing aside date is clearly marked, but is scarcely reconcilable with an-the veil of irony, he makes a speech, but, true to his charac-other indication of time, viz. the recent usurpation of ter, not until his adversary has refused to answer any more Archelaus, which occurred in the year 413; and still less questions. The presentiment of his own fate is hanging over with the recent death of Pericles, who really died twenty-him. He is aware that Socrates, the single real teacher of poli-four years previously (429 B.C.) and is afterwards reckoned tics, as he ventures to call himself, cannot safely go to war among the statesmen of a past age; or with the mention of with the whole world, and that in the courts of earth he will Nicias, who died in 413, and is nevertheless spoken of as a be condemned. But he will be justified in the world below.
living witness. But we shall hereafter have reason to ob-Then the position of Socrates and Callicles will be reversed; serve, that although there is a general consistency of times all those things unfit for ears polite which Callicles has proph-and persons in the Dialogues of Plato, a precise dramatic esied as likely to happen to him in this life, the insulting lan-date is an invention of his commentators (Preface to Re-guage, the box on the ears, will recoil upon his assailant. (Com-public).
pare Republic, and the similar reversal of the position of the The conclusion of the Dialogue is remarkable, (1) for lawyer and the philosopher in the Theaetetus).
the truly characteristic declaration of Socrates that he is ig-There is an interesting allusion to his own behaviour at norant of the true nature and bearing of these things, while the trial of the generals after the battle of Arginusae, which he affirms at the same time that no one can maintain any 9
other view without being ridiculous. The profession of ig-attempted to resist the popular will would be put to death norance reminds us of the earlier and more exclusively before he had done any good to himself or others. Here he Socratic Dialogues. But neither in them, nor in the Apol-anticipates such a fate for himself, from the fact that he is ogy, nor in the Memorabilia of Xenophon, does Socrates
the only man of the present day who performs his public express any doubt of the fundamental truths of morality.
duties at all. The two points of view are not really inconsis-He evidently regards this among the multitude of questent, but the difference between them is worth noticing: tions which agitate human life as the principle which alone Socrates is and is not a public man. Not in the ordinary remains unshaken. He does not insist here, any more than sense, like Alcibiades or Pericles, but in a higher one; and in the Phaedo, on the literal truth of the myth, but only on this will sooner or later entail the same consequences on the soundness of the doctrine which is contained in it, that him. He cannot be a private man if he would; neither can doing wrong is worse than suffering, and that a man should he separate morals from politics. Nor is he unwilling to be be rather than seem; for the next best thing to a mans be-a politician, although he foresees the dangers which await ing just is that he should be corrected and become just; also him; but he must first become a better and wiser man, for that he should avoid all flattery, whether of himself or of he as well as Callicles is in a state of perplexity and uncer-others; and that rhetoric should be employed for the main-tainty. And yet there is an inconsistency: for should not tenance of the right only. The revelation of another life is a Socrates too have taught the citizens better than to put him recapitulation of the argument in a figure.
(2) Socrates makes the singular remark, that he is himself And now, as he himself says, we will resume the argu-the only true politician of his age. In other passages, espe-ment from the beginning.
cially in the Apology, he disclaims being a politician at all.
Socrates, who is attended by his inseparable disciple, There he is convinced that he or any other good man who Chaerephon, meets Callicles in the streets of Athens. He is 10
informed that he has just missed an exhibition of Gorgias, make a speech, but not how to answer a question. He wishes which he regrets, because he was desirous, not of hearing that Gorgias would answer him. Gorgias is willing enough, Gorgias display his rhetoric, but of interrogating him con-and replies to the question asked by Chaerephon,that he cerning the nature of his art. Callicles proposes that they is a rhetorician, and in Homeric language, boasts himself shall go with him to his own house, where Gorgias is stay-to be a good one. At the request of Socrates he promises ing. There they find the great rhetorician and his younger to be brief; for he can be as long as he pleases, and as short friend and disciple Polus.
as he pleases. Socrates would have him bestow his length on others, and proceeds to ask him a number of questions, SOCRATES: Put the question to him, Chaerephon.
which are answered by him to his own great satisfaction, CHAEREPHON: What question?
and with a brevity which excites the admiration of Socrates.
SOCRATES: Who is he?such a question as would elicit The result of the discussion may be summed up as fol-from a man the answer, I am a cobbler.
Rhetoric treats of discourse; but music and medicine, and Polus suggests that Gorgias may be tired, and desires to other particular arts, are also concerned with discourse; in answer for him. Who is Gorgias? asks Chaerephon, imi-what way then does rhetoric differ from them? Gorgias tating the manner of his master Socrates. One of the best draws a distinction between the arts which deal with words, of men, and a proficient in the best and noblest of experi-and the arts which have to do with external actions. Socrates mental arts, etc., replies Polus, in rhetorical and balanced extends this distinction further, and divides all productive phrases. Socrates is dissatisfied at the length and arts into two classes: (1) arts which may be carried on in unmeaningness of the answer; he tells the disconcerted vol-silence; and (2) arts which have to do with words, or in unteer that he has mistaken the quality for the nature of the which words are coextensive with action, such as arithmetic, art, and remarks to Gorgias, that Polus has learnt how to 11
geometry, rhetoric. But still Gorgias could hardly have and he now defines rhetoric as the art of persuading in the meant to say that arithmetic was the same as rhetoric. Even law courts, and in the assembly, about the just and unjust.
in the arts which are concerned with words there are differ-But still there are two sorts of persuasion: one which gives ences. What then distinguishes rhetoric from the other arts knowledge, and another which gives belief without knowl-which have to do with words? The words which rhetoric edge; and knowledge is always true, but belief may be ei-uses relate to the best and greatest of human things. But ther true or false,there is therefore a further question: tell me, Gorgias, what are the best? Health first, beauty which of the two sorts of persuasion does rhetoric effect in next, wealth third, in the words of the old song, or how courts of law and assemblies? Plainly that which gives be-would you rank them? The arts will come to you in a body, lief and not that which gives knowledge; for no one can each claiming precedence and saying that her own good is impart a real knowledge of such matters to a crowd of per-superior to that of the restHow will you choose between sons in a few minutes. And there is another point to be them? I should say, Socrates, that the art of persuasion, considered:when the assembly meets to advise about walls which gives freedom to all men, and to individuals power or docks or military expeditions, the rhetorician is not taken in the state, is the greatest good. But what is the exact na-into counsel, but the architect, or the general. How would ture of this persuasion?is the persevering retort: You could Gorgias explain this phenomenon? All who intend to be-not describe Zeuxis as a painter, or even as a painter of come disciples, of whom there are several in the company, figures, if there were other painters of figures; neither can and not Socrates only, are eagerly asking:About what then you define rhetoric simply as an art of persuasion, because will rhetoric teach us to persuade or advise the state?
there are other arts which persuade, such as arithmetic, Gorgias illustrates the nature of rhetoric by adducing the which is an art of persuasion about odd and even numbers.
example of Themistocles, who persuaded the Athenians to Gorgias is made to see the necessity of a further limitation, build their docks and walls, and of Pericles, whom Socrates 12
himself has heard speaking about the middle wall of the Gorgias appears to have fallen, and which he is inclined to Piraeus. He adds that he has exercised a similar power over think may arise out of a misapprehension of his own. The the patients of his brother Herodicus. He could be chosen rhetorician has been declared by Gorgias to be more pera physician by the assembly if he pleased, for no physician suasive to the ignorant than the physician, or any other ex-could compete with a rhetorician in popularity and influ-pert. And he is said to be ignorant, and this ignorance of ence. He could persuade the multitude of anything by the his is regarded by Gorgias as a happy condition, for he has power of his rhetoric; not that the rhetorician ought to abuse escaped the trouble of learning. But is he as ignorant of just this power any more than a boxer should abuse the art of and unjust as he is of medicine or building? Gorgias is com-self-defence. Rhetoric is a good thing, but, like all good pelled to admit that if he did not know them previously he things, may be unlawfully used. Neither is the teacher of must learn them from his teacher as a part of the art of the art to be deemed unjust because his pupils are unjust rhetoric. But he who has learned carpentry is a carpenter, and make a bad use of the lessons which they have learned and he who has learned music is a musician, and he who from him.
has learned justice is just. The rhetorician then must be a Socrates would like to know before he replies, whether just man, and rhetoric is a just thing. But Gorgias has al-Gorgias will quarrel with him if he points out a slight incon-ready admitted the opposite of this, viz. that rhetoric may sistency into which he has fallen, or whether he, like him-be abused, and that the rhetorician may act unjustly. How self, is one who loves to be refuted. Gorgias declares that is the inconsistency to be explained?
he is quite one of his sort, but fears that the argument may The fallacy of this argument is twofold; for in the first be tedious to the company. The company cheer, and place, a man may know justice and not be justhere is the Chaerephon and Callicles exhort them to proceed. Socrates old confusion of the arts and the virtues;nor can any gently points out the supposed inconsistency into which teacher be expected to counteract wholly the bent of natu-13
ral character; and secondly, a man may have a degree of light or gratification. But is not rhetoric a fine thing? I have justice, but not sufficient to prevent him from ever doing not yet told you what rhetoric is. Will you ask me another wrong. Polus is naturally exasperated at the sophism, which questionWhat is cookery? What is cookery? An experi-he is unable to detect; of course, he says, the rhetorician, ence or routine of making a sort of delight or gratification.
like every one else, will admit that he knows justice (how Then they are the same, or rather fall under the same class, can he do otherwise when pressed by the interrogations of and rhetoric has still to be distinguished from cookery.
Socrates?), but he thinks that great want of manners is shown
What is rhetoric? asks Polus once more. A part of a not in bringing the argument to such a pass. Socrates ironically very creditable whole, which may be termed flattery, is the replies, that when old men trip, the young set them on their reply. But what part? A shadow of a part of politics. This, legs again; and he is quite willing to retract, if he can be as might be expected, is wholly unintelligible, both to Gorgias shown to be in error, but upon one condition, which is that and Polus; and, in order to explain his meaning to them, Polus studies brevity. Polus is in great indignation at not Socrates draws a distinction between shadows or appear-being allowed to use as many words as he pleases in the ances and realities; e.g. there is real health of body or soul, free state of Athens. Socrates retorts, that yet harder will be and the appearance of them; real arts and sciences, and the his own case, if he is compelled to stay and listen to them.
simulations of them. Now the soul and body have two arts After some altercation they agree (compare Protag.), that waiting upon them, first the art of politics, which attends on Polus shall ask and Socrates answer.
the soul, having a legislative part and a judicial part; and
What is the art of Rhetoric? says Polus. Not an art at all, another art attending on the body, which has no generic replies Socrates, but a thing which in your book you affirm name, but may also be described as having two divisions, to have created art. Polus asks, What thing? and Socrates one of which is medicine and the other gymnastic. Corre-answers, An experience or routine of making a sort of de-sponding with these four arts or sciences there are four 14
shams or simulations of them, mere experiences, as they sire? They have no power, and they only do what they may be termed, because they give no reason of their own think best, and never what they desire; for they never attain existence. The art of dressing up is the sham or simulation the true object of desire, which is the good. As if you, of gymnastic, the art of cookery, of medicine; rhetoric is Socrates, would not envy the possessor of despotic power, the simulation of justice, and sophistic of legislation. They who can imprison, exile, kill any one whom he pleases.
may be summed up in an arithmetical formula:
But Socrates replies that he has no wish to put any one to death; he who kills another, even justly, is not to be envied, Tiring : gymnastic :: cookery : medicine :: sophistic and he who kills him unjustly is to be pitied; it is better to
suffer than to do injustice. He does not consider that going And,
about with a dagger and putting men out of the way, or Cookery : medicine :: rhetoric : the art of justice.
setting a house on fire, is real power. To this Polus assents, on the ground that such acts would be punished, but he is And this is the true scheme of them, but when measured still of opinion that evil-doers, if they are unpunished, may only by the gratification which they procure, they become be happy enough. He instances Archelaus, son of Perdiccas, jumbled together and return to their aboriginal chaos.
the usurper of Macedonia. Does not Socrates think him Socrates apologizes for the length of his speech, which was happy?Socrates would like to know more about him; he necessary to the explanation of the subject, and begs Polus cannot pronounce even the great king to be happy, unless not unnecessarily to retaliate on him.
he knows his mental and moral condition. Polus explains
Do you mean to say that the rhetoricians are esteemed that Archelaus was a slave, being the son of a woman who flatterers? They are not esteemed at all. Why, have they was the slave of Alcetas, brother of Perdiccas king of not great power, and can they not do whatever they de-Macedonand he, by every species of crime, first murder-15
ing his uncle and then his cousin and half-brother, obtained or burnt to death. Socrates replies, that if they are both the kingdom. This was very wicked, and yet all the world, criminal they are both miserable, but that the unpunished including Socrates, would like to have his place. Socrates is the more miserable of the two. At this Polus laughs out-dismisses the appeal to numbers; Polus, if he will, may sum-right, which leads Socrates to remark that laughter is a new mon all the rich men of Athens, Nicias and his brothers, species of refutation. Polus replies, that he is already re-Aristocrates, the house of Pericles, or any other great fam-futed; for if he will take the votes of the company, he will ilythis is the kind of evidence which is adduced in courts find that no one agrees with him. To this Socrates rejoins, of justice, where truth depends upon numbers. But Socrates that he is not a public man, and (referring to his own con-employs proof of another sort; his appeal is to one witness duct at the trial of the generals after the battle of Arginusae) only,that is to say, the person with whom he is speaking; is unable to take the suffrages of any company, as he had him he will convict out of his own mouth. And he is pre-shown on a recent occasion; he can only deal with one wit-pared to show, after his manner, that Archelaus cannot be ness at a time, and that is the person with whom he is argu-a wicked man and yet happy.
ing. But he is certain that in the opinion of any man to do is The evil-doer is deemed happy if he escapes, and miser-worse than to suffer evil.
able if he suffers punishment; but Socrates thinks him less Polus, though he will not admit this, is ready to acknowl-miserable if he suffers than if he escapes. Polus is of opin-edge that to do evil is considered the more foul or ion that such a paradox as this hardly deserves refutation, dishonourable of the two. But what is fair and what is foul; and is at any rate sufficiently refuted by the fact. Socrates whether the terms are applied to bodies, colours, figures, has only to compare the lot of the successful tyrant who is laws, habits, studies, must they not be defined with refer-the envy of the world, and of the wretch who, having been ence to pleasure and utility? Polus assents to this latter doc-detected in a criminal attempt against the state, is crucified trine, and is easily persuaded that the fouler of two things 16
must exceed either in pain or in hurt. But the doing cannot himself and others in enduring the necessary penalty. And exceed the suffering of evil in pain, and therefore must ex-similarly if a man has an enemy, he will desire not to pun-ceed in hurt. Thus doing is proved by the testimony of Polus ish him, but that he shall go unpunished and become worse himself to be worse or more hurtful than suffering.
and worse, taking care only that he does no injury to him-There remains the other question: Is a guilty man better self. These are at least conceivable uses of the art, and no off when he is punished or when he is unpunished? Socrates others have been discovered by us.
replies, that what is done justly is suffered justly: if the act is Here Callicles, who has been listening in silent amaze-just, the effect is just; if to punish is just, to be punished is ment, asks Chaerephon whether Socrates is in earnest, and just, and therefore fair, and therefore beneficent; and the on receiving the assurance that he is, proceeds to ask the benefit is that the soul is improved. There are three evils same question of Socrates himself. For if such doctrines from which a man may suffer, and which affect him in es-are true, life must have been turned upside down, and all tate, body, and soul;these are, poverty, disease, injustice; of us are doing the opposite of what we ought to be doing.
and the foulest of these is injustice, the evil of the soul, Socrates replies in a style of playful irony, that before because that brings the greatest hurt. And there are three men can understand one another they must have some arts which heal these evilstrading, medicine, justiceand common feeling. And such a community of feeling exists the fairest of these is justice. Happy is he who has never between himself and Callicles, for both of them are lovers, committed injustice, and happy in the second degree he and they have both a pair of loves; the beloved of Callicles who has been healed by punishment. And therefore the are the Athenian Demos and Demos the son of Pyrilampes; criminal should himself go to the judge as he would to the the beloved of Socrates are Alcibiades and philosophy. The physician, and purge away his crime. Rhetoric will enable peculiarity of Callicles is that he can never contradict his him to display his guilt in proper colours, and to sustain loves; he changes as his Demos changes in all his opinions; 17
he watches the countenance of both his loves, and repeats dishonourable, but nature says that might is right. And their sentiments, and if any one is surprised at his sayings we are always taming down the nobler spirits among us to and doings, the explanation of them is, that he is not a free the conventional level. But sometimes a great man will rise agent, but must always be imitating his two loves. And this up and reassert his original rights, trampling under foot all is the explanation of Socrates peculiarities also. He is al-our formularies, and then the light of natural justice shines ways repeating what his mistress, Philosophy, is saying to forth. Pindar says, Law, the king of all, does violence with him, who unlike his other love, Alcibiades, is ever the same, high hand; as is indeed proved by the example of Heracles, ever true. Callicles must refute her, or he will never be at who drove off the oxen of Geryon and never paid for them.
unity with himself; and discord in life is far worse than the This is the truth, Socrates, as you will be convinced, if discord of musical sounds.
you leave philosophy and pass on to the real business of Callicles answers, that Gorgias was overthrown because, life. A little philosophy is an excellent thing; too much is as Polus said, in compliance with popular prejudice he had the ruin of a man. He who has not passed his metaphysics
admitted that if his pupil did not know justice the rhetori-before he has grown up to manhood will never know the cian must teach him; and Polus has been similarly entangled, world. Philosophers are ridiculous when they take to poli-because his modesty led him to admit that to suffer is more tics, and I dare say that politicians are equally ridiculous honourable than to do injustice. By custom yes, but not when they take to philosophy: Every man, as Euripides by nature, says Callicles. And Socrates is always playing says, is fondest of that in which he is best. Philosophy is between the two points of view, and putting one in the place graceful in youth, like the lisp of infancy, and should be of the other. In this very argument, what Polus only meant cultivated as a part of education; but when a grown-up man in a conventional sense has been affirmed by him to be a lisps or studies philosophy, I should like to beat him. None law of nature. For convention says that injustice is of those over-refined natures ever come to any good; they 18
avoid the busy haunts of men, and skulk in corners, whis-and he is not too modest to speak out (of this he has al-pering to a few admiring youths, and never giving utterance ready given proof), and his good-will is shown both by his to any noble sentiments.
own profession and by his giving the same caution against For you, Socrates, I have a regard, and therefore I say to philosophy to Socrates, which Socrates remembers hear-you, as Zethus says to Amphion in the play, that you have ing him give long ago to his own clique of friends. He will
a noble soul disguised in a puerile exterior. And I would pledge himself to retract any error into which he may have have you consider the danger which you and other philoso-fallen, and which Callicles may point out. But he would phers incur. For you would not know how to defend your-like to know first of all what he and Pindar mean by natural self if any one accused you in a law-court,there you would justice. Do they suppose that the rule of justice is the rule of stand, with gaping mouth and dizzy brain, and might be the stronger or of the better? There is no difference. Then murdered, robbed, boxed on the ears with impunity. Take are not the many superior to the one, and the opinions of my advice, then, and get a little common sense; leave to the many better? And their opinion is that justice is equal-others these frivolities; walk in the ways of the wealthy and ity, and that to do is more dishonourable than to suffer be wise.
wrong. And as they are the superior or stronger, this opin-Socrates professes to have found in Callicles the ion of theirs must be in accordance with natural as well as philosophers touchstone; and he is certain that any opin-conventional justice. Why will you continue splitting words?
ion in which they both agree must be the very truth. Callicles Have I not told you that the superior is the better? But has all the three qualities which are needed in a criticknowl-what do you mean by the better? Tell me that, and please edge, good-will, frankness; Gorgias and Polus, although to be a little milder in your language, if you do not wish to learned men, were too modest, and their modesty made drive me away. I mean the worthier, the wiser. You mean them contradict themselves. But Callicles is well-educated; to say that one man of sense ought to rule over ten thou-19
sand fools? Yes, that is my meaning. Ought the physician ing what other men only think. According to his view, those then to have a larger share of meats and drinks? or the who want nothing are not happy. Why, says Callicles, if weaver to have more coats, or the cobbler larger shoes, or they were, stones and the dead would be happy. Socrates the farmer more seed? You are always saying the same in reply is led into a half-serious, half-comic vein of reflec-things, Socrates. Yes, and on the same subjects too; but tion. Who knows, as Euripides says, whether life may not you are never saying the same things. For, first, you defined be death, and death life? Nay, there are philosophers who the superior to be the stronger, and then the wiser, and maintain that even in life we are dead, and that the body now something else;what do you mean? I mean men of (soma) is the tomb (sema) of the soul. And some ingenious political ability, who ought to govern and to have more than Sicilian has made an allegory, in which he represents fools the governed. Than themselves? What do you mean? I as the uninitiated, who are supposed to be carrying water to mean to say that every man is his own governor. I see that a vessel, which is full of holes, in a similarly holey sieve, and you mean those dolts, the temperate. But my doctrine is, this sieve is their own soul. The idea is fanciful, but never-that a man should let his desires grow, and take the means theless is a figure of a truth which I want to make you ac-of satisfying them. To the many this is impossible, and there-knowledge, viz. that the life of contentment is better than fore they combine to prevent him. But if he is a king, and the life of indulgence. Are you disposed to admit that? Far has power, how base would he be in submitting to them!
otherwise. Then hear another parable. The life of self-con-To invite the common herd to be lord over him, when he tentment and self-indulgence may be represented respec-might have the enjoyment of all things! For the truth is, tively by two men, who are filling jars with streams of wine, Socrates, that luxury and self-indulgence are virtue and hap-honey, milk,the jars of the one are sound, and the jars of piness; all the rest is mere talk.
the other leaky; the first fils his jars, and has no more trouble Socrates compliments Callicles on his frankness in say-with them; the second is always filling them, and would suf-20
fer extreme misery if he desisted. Are you of the same opin-well and ill together is impossible. But pleasure and pain ion still? Yes, Socrates, and the figure expresses what I are simultaneous, and the cessation of them is simultaneous; mean. For true pleasure is a perpetual stream, flowing in e.g. in the case of drinking and thirsting, whereas good and and flowing out. To be hungry and always eating, to be thirsty evil are not simultaneous, and do not cease simultaneously, and always drinking, and to have all the other desires and and therefore pleasure cannot be the same as good.
to satisfy them, that, as I admit, is my idea of happiness.
Callicles has already lost his temper, and can only be per-And to be itching and always scratching? I do not deny suaded to go on by the interposition of Gorgias. Socrates, that there may be happiness even in that. And to indulge having already guarded against objections by distinguishing unnatural desires, if they are abundantly satisfied? Callicles courage and knowledge from pleasure and good, pro-is indignant at the introduction of such topics. But he is ceeds:The good are good by the presence of good, and reminded by Socrates that they are introduced, not by him, the bad are bad by the presence of evil. And the brave and but by the maintainer of the identity of pleasure and good.
wise are good, and the cowardly and foolish are bad. And Will Callicles still maintain this? Yes, for the sake of con-he who feels pleasure is good, and he who feels pain is bad, sistency, he will. The answer does not satisfy Socrates, who and both feel pleasure and pain in nearly the same degree, fears that he is losing his touchstone. A profession of seri-and sometimes the bad man or coward in a greater degree.
ousness on the part of Callicles reassures him, and they Therefore the bad man or coward is as good as the brave proceed with the argument. Pleasure and good are the same, or may be even better.
but knowledge and courage are not the same either with Callicles endeavours now to avert the inevitable absur-pleasure or good, or with one another. Socrates disproves dity by affirming that he and all mankind admitted some the first of these statements by showing that two opposites pleasures to be good and others bad. The good are the cannot coexist, but must alternate with one anotherto be beneficial, and the bad are the hurtful, and we should choose 21
the one and avoid the other. But this, as Socrates observes, others have a real regard for their fellow-citizens. Granted; is a return to the old doctrine of himself and Polus, that all then there are two species of oratory; the one a flattery, things should be done for the sake of the good.
another which has a real regard for the citizens. But where Callicles assents to this, and Socrates, finding that they are the orators among whom you find the latter? Callicles are agreed in distinguishing pleasure from good, returns to admits that there are none remaining, but there were such his old division of empirical habits, or shams, or flatteries, in the days when Themistocles, Cimon, Miltiades, and the which study pleasure only, and the arts which are concerned great Pericles were still alive. Socrates replies that none of with the higher interests of soul and body. Does Callicles these were true artists, setting before themselves the duty of agree to this division? Callicles will agree to anything, in bringing order out of disorder. The good man and true order that he may get through the argument. Which of the orator has a settled design, running through his life, to which arts then are flatteries? Flute-playing, harp-playing, choral he conforms all his words and actions; he desires to im-exhibitions, the dithyrambics of Cinesias are all equally plant justice and eradicate injustice, to implant all virtue condemned on the ground that they give pleasure only; and and eradicate all vice in the minds of his citizens. He is the Meles the harp-player, who was the father of Cinesias, failed physician who will not allow the sick man to indulge his even in that. The stately muse of Tragedy is bent upon plea-appetites with a variety of meats and drinks, but insists on sure, and not upon improvement. Poetry in general is only his exercising self-restraint. And this is good for the soul, a rhetorical address to a mixed audience of men, women, and better than the unrestrained indulgence which Callicles and children. And the orators are very far from speaking was recently approving.
with a view to what is best; their way is to humour the as-Here Callicles, who had been with difficulty brought to sembly as if they were children.
this point, turns restive, and suggests that Socrates shall an-Callicles replies, that this is only true of some of them; swer his own questions. Then, says Socrates, one man 22
must do for two; and though he had hoped to have given wrong he must endure punishment. In this way states and Callicles an Amphion in return for his Zethus, he is will-individuals should seek to attain harmony, which, as the ing to proceed; at the same time, he hopes that Callicles wise tell us, is the bond of heaven and earth, of gods and will correct him, if he falls into error. He recapitulates the men. Callicles has never discovered the power of geometri-advantages which he has already won:
cal proportion in both worlds; he would have men aim at The pleasant is not the same as the goodCallicles and I disproportion and excess. But if he be wrong in this, and if are agreed about that,but pleasure is to be pursued for self-control is the true secret of happiness, then the para-the sake of the good, and the good is that of which the dox is true that the only use of rhetoric is in self-accusation, presence makes us good; we and all things good have ac-and Polus was right in saying that to do wrong is worse than quired some virtue or other. And virtue, whether of body to suffer wrong, and Gorgias was right in saying that the or soul, of things or persons, is not attained by accident, rhetorician must be a just man. And you were wrong in but is due to order and harmonious arrangement. And the taunting me with my defenceless condition, and in saying soul which has order is better than the soul which is with-that I might be accused or put to death or boxed on the out order, and is therefore temperate and is therefore good, ears with impunity. For I may repeat once more, that to and the intemperate is bad. And he who is temperate is strike is worse than to be strickento do than to suffer.
also just and brave and pious, and has attained the perfec-What I said then is now made fast in adamantine bonds. I tion of goodness and therefore of happiness, and the in-myself know not the true nature of these things, but I know temperate whom you approve is the opposite of all this and that no one can deny my words and not be ridiculous. To is wretched. He therefore who would be happy must pur-do wrong is the greatest of evils, and to suffer wrong is the sue temperance and avoid intemperance, and if possible next greatest evil. He who would avoid the last must be a escape the necessity of punishment, but if he have done ruler, or the friend of a ruler; and to be the friend he must 23
be the equal of the ruler, and must also resemble him. Under more if he is diseased in mindwho can say? The engineer his protection he will suffer no evil, but will he also do no too will often save whole cities, and yet you despise him, evil? Nay, will he not rather do all the evil which he can and and would not allow your son to marry his daughter, or his escape? And in this way the greatest of all evils will befall son to marry yours. But what reason is there in this? For if him. But this imitator of the tyrant, rejoins Callicles, will virtue only means the saving of life, whether your own or kill any one who does not similarly imitate him. Socrates anothers, you have no right to despise him or any practiser replies that he is not deaf, and that he has heard that re-of saving arts. But is not virtue something different from peated many times, and can only reply, that a bad man will saving and being saved? I would have you rather consider kill a good one. Yes, and that is the provoking thing. Not whether you ought not to disregard length of life, and think provoking to a man of sense who is not studying the arts only how you can live best, leaving all besides to the will of which will preserve him from danger; and this, as you say, Heaven. For you must not expect to have influence either is the use of rhetoric in courts of justice. But how many with the Athenian Demos or with Demos the son of other arts are there which also save men from death, and Pyrilampes, unless you become like them. What do you are yet quite humble in their pretensionssuch as the art of say to this?
swimming, or the art of the pilot? Does not the pilot do
There is some truth in what you are saying, but I do not men at least as much service as the rhetorician, and yet for entirely believe you.
the voyage from Aegina to Athens he does not charge more That is because you are in love with Demos. But let us than two obols, and when he disembarks is quite unassum-have a little more conversation. You remember the two ing in his demeanour? The reason is that he is not certain processesone which was directed to pleasure, the other whether he has done his passengers any good in saving them which was directed to making men as good as possible. And from death, if one of them is diseased in body, and still those who have the care of the city should make the citi-24
zens as good as possible. But who would undertake a pub-he gains greater experience and skill. The inference is, that lic building, if he had never had a teacher of the art of build-the statesman of a past age were no better than those of our ing, and had never constructed a building before? or who own. They may have been cleverer constructors of docks would undertake the duty of state-physician, if he had never and harbours, but they did not improve the character of cured either himself or any one else? Should we not exam-the citizens. I have told you again and again (and I pur-ine him before we entrusted him with the office? And as posely use the same images) that the soul, like the body, Callicles is about to enter public life, should we not exam-may be treated in two waysthere is the meaner and the ine him? Whom has he made better? For we have already higher art. You seemed to understand what I said at the admitted that this is the statesmans proper business. And time, but when I ask you who were the really good states-we must ask the same question about Pericles, and Cimon, men, you answeras if I asked you who were the good train-and Miltiades, and Themistocles. Whom did they make ers, and you answered, Thearion, the baker, Mithoecus, better? Nay, did not Pericles make the citizens worse? For the author of the Sicilian cookery-book, Sarambus, the vint-he gave them pay, and at first he was very popular with ner. And you would be affronted if I told you that these are them, but at last they condemned him to death. Yet surely a parcel of cooks who make men fat only to make them he would be a bad tamer of animals who, having received thin. And those whom they have fattened applaud them, them gentle, taught them to kick and butt, and man is an instead of finding fault with them, and lay the blame of their animal; and Pericles who had the charge of man only made subsequent disorders on their physicians. In this respect, him wilder, and more savage and unjust, and therefore he Callicles, you are like them; you applaud the statesmen of could not have been a good statesman. The same tale might old, who pandered to the vices of the citizens, and filled the be repeated about Cimon, Themistocles, Miltiades. But the city with docks and harbours, but neglected virtue and jus-charioteer who keeps his seat at first is not thrown out when tice. And when the fit of illness comes, the citizens who in 25
like manner applauded Themistocles, Pericles, and oth-fate is very likely reserved for him, because he remarks that ers, will lay hold of you and my friend Alcibiades, and you he is the only person who teaches the true art of politics.
will suffer for the misdeeds of your predecessors. The old And very probably, as in the case which he described to story is always being repeatedafter all his services, the Polus, he may be the physician who is tried by a jury of ungrateful city banished him, or condemned him to death.
children. He cannot say that he has procured the citizens As if the statesman should not have taught the city better!
any pleasure, and if any one charges him with perplexing He surely cannot blame the state for having unjustly used them, or with reviling their elders, he will not be able to him, any more than the sophist or teacher can find fault make them understand that he has only been actuated by a with his pupils if they cheat him. And the sophist and ora-desire for their good. And therefore there is no saying what tor are in the same case; although you admire rhetoric and his fate may be. And do you think that a man who is un-despise sophistic, whereas sophistic is really the higher of able to help himself is in a good condition? Yes, Callicles, the two. The teacher of the arts takes money, but the teacher if he have the true self-help, which is never to have said or of virtue or politics takes no money, because this is the done any wrong to himself or others. If I had not this kind only kind of service which makes the disciple desirous of of self-help, I should be ashamed; but if I die for want of requiting his teacher.
your flattering rhetoric, I shall die in peace. For death is no Socrates concludes by finally asking, to which of the two evil, but to go to the world below laden with offences is the modes of serving the state Callicles invites him:to the in-worst of evils. In proof of which I will tell you a tale:
ferior and ministerial one, is the ingenuous reply. That is Under the rule of Cronos, men were judged on the day the only way of avoiding death, replies Socrates; and he has of their death, and when judgment had been given upon heard often enough, and would rather not hear again, that them they departedthe good to the islands of the blest, the bad man will kill the good. But he thinks that such a the bad to the house of vengeance. But as they were still 26
living, and had their clothes on at the time when they were same power of doing injustice. Sisyphus and Tityus, not being judged, there was favouritism, and Zeus, when he Thersites, are supposed by Homer to be undergoing ever-came to the throne, was obliged to alter the mode of proce-lasting punishment. Not that there is anything to prevent a dure, and try them after death, having first sent down great man from being a good one, as is shown by the fa-Prometheus to take away from them the foreknowledge of mous example of Aristeides, the son of Lysimachus. But to death. Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus were appointed Rhadamanthus the souls are only known as good or bad; to be the judges; Rhadamanthus for Asia, Aeacus for Eu-they are stripped of their dignities and preferments; he des-rope, and Minos was to hold the court of appeal. Now death patches the bad to Tartarus, labelled either as curable or is the separation of soul and body, but after death soul and incurable, and looks with love and admiration on the soul body alike retain their characteristics; the fat man, the dandy, of some just one, whom he sends to the islands of the blest.
the branded slave, are all distinguishable. Some prince or Similar is the practice of Aeacus; and Minos overlooks them, potentate, perhaps even the great king himself, appears holding a golden sceptre, as Odysseus in Homer saw him before Rhadamanthus, and he instantly detects him, though
Wielding a sceptre of gold, and giving laws to the dead.
he knows not who he is; he sees the scars of perjury and My wish for myself and my fellow-men is, that we may iniquity, and sends him away to the house of torment.
present our souls undefiled to the judge in that day; my For there are two classes of souls who undergo punish-desire in life is to be able to meet death. And I exhort you, mentthe curable and the incurable. The curable are those and retort upon you the reproach which you cast upon me,
who are benefited by their punishment; the incurable are that you will stand before the judge, gaping, and with dizzy such as Archelaus, who benefit others by becoming a warn-brain, and any one may box you on the ear, and do you all ing to them. The latter class are generally kings and poten-manner of evil.
tates; meaner persons, happily for themselves, have not the Perhaps you think that this is an old wives fable. But 27
you, who are the three wisest men in Hellas, have nothing (1) In the Gorgias, as in nearly all the other dialogues of better to say, and no one will ever show that to do is better Plato, we are made aware that formal logic has as yet no than to suffer evil. A man should study to be, and not merely existence. The old difficulty of framing a definition recurs.
to seem. If he is bad, he should become good, and avoid all The illusive analogy of the arts and the virtues also contin-flattery, whether of the many or of the few.
ues. The ambiguity of several words, such as nature, cus-Follow me, then; and if you are looked down upon, that tom, the honourable, the good, is not cleared up. The Soph-will do you no harm. And when we have practised virtue, ists are still floundering about the distinction of the real and we will betake ourselves to politics, but not until we are seeming. Figures of speech are made the basis of arguments.
delivered from the shameful state of ignorance and uncer-The possibility of conceiving a universal art or science, which tainty in which we are at present. Let us follow in the way of admits of application to a particular subject-matter, is a dif-virtue and justice, and not in the way to which you, Callicles, ficulty which remains unsolved, and has not altogether invite us; for that way is nothing worth.
ceased to haunt the world at the present day (compare We will now consider in order some of the principal Charmides). The defect of clearness is also apparent in points of the dialogue. Having regard (1) to the age of Plato Socrates himself, unless we suppose him to be practising and the ironical character of his writings, we may compare on the simplicity of his opponent, or rather perhaps trying him with himself, and with other great teachers, and we an experiment in dialectics. Nothing can be more fallacious may note in passing the objections of his critics. And then than the contradiction which he pretends to have discov-
(2) casting one eye upon him, we may cast another upon ered in the answers of Gorgias (see above). The advantages ourselves, and endeavour to draw out the great lessons which which he gains over Polus are also due to a false antithesis he teaches for all time, stripped of the accidental form in of pleasure and good, and to an erroneous assertion that which they are enveloped.
an agent and a patient may be described by similar predi-28
cates;a mistake which Aristotle partly shares and partly tions of the impaled criminal are more agreeable than those corrects in the Nicomachean Ethics. Traces of a robust of the tyrant drowned in luxurious enjoyment. Neither is sophistry are likewise discernible in his argument with he speaking, as in the Protagoras, of virtue as a calculation Callicles.
of pleasure, an opinion which he afterwards repudiates in (2) Although Socrates professes to be convinced by reathe Phaedo. What then is his meaning? His meaning we son only, yet the argument is often a sort of dialectical fic-shall be able to illustrate best by parallel notions, which, tion, by which he conducts himself and others to his own whether justifiable by logic or not, have always existed among ideal of life and action. And we may sometimes wish that mankind. We must remind the reader that Socrates him-we could have suggested answers to his antagonists, or self implies that he will be understood or appreciated by pointed out to them the rocks which lay concealed under very few.
the ambiguous terms good, pleasure, and the like. But it He is speaking not of the consciousness of happiness, would be as useless to examine his arguments by the re-but of the idea of happiness. When a martyr dies in a good quirements of modern logic, as to criticise this ideal from a cause, when a soldier falls in battle, we do not suppose that merely utilitarian point of view. If we say that the ideal is death or wounds are without pain, or that their physical generally regarded as unattainable, and that mankind will suffering is always compensated by a mental satisfaction.
by no means agree in thinking that the criminal is happier Still we regard them as happy, and we would a thousand when punished than when unpunished, any more than they times rather have their death than a shameful life. Nor is would agree to the stoical paradox that a man may be happy this only because we believe that they will obtain an immor-on the rack, Plato has already admitted that the world is tality of fame, or that they will have crowns of glory in an-against him. Neither does he mean to say that Archelaus is other world, when their enemies and persecutors will be tormented by the stings of conscience; or that the sensa-proportionably tormented. Men are found in a few instances 29
to do what is right, without reference to public opinion or of utility, like those of duty and right, may be pushed to un-to consequences. And we regard them as happy on this pleasant consequences. Nor can Plato in the Gorgias be ground only, much as Socrates friends in the opening of deemed purely self-regarding, considering that Socrates ex-the Phaedo are described as regarding him; or as was said pressly mentions the duty of imparting the truth when dis-of another, they looked upon his face as upon the face of covered to others. Nor must we forget that the side of ethics an angel. We are not concerned to justify this idealism by which regards others is by the ancients merged in politics.
the standard of utility or public opinion, but merely to point Both in Plato and Aristotle, as well as in the Stoics, the social out the existence of such a sentiment in the better part of principle, though taking another form, is really far more human nature.
prominent than in most modern treatises on ethics.
The idealism of Plato is founded upon this sentiment.
The idealizing of suffering is one of the conceptions which He would maintain that in some sense or other truth and have exercised the greatest influence on mankind. Into the right are alone to be sought, and that all other goods are theological import of this, or into the consideration of the only desirable as means towards these. He is thought to errors to which the idea may have given rise, we need not have erred in considering the agent only, and making no now enter. All will agree that the ideal of the Divine Suf-reference to the happiness of others, as affected by him.
ferer, whose words the world would not receive, the man But the happiness of others or of mankind, if regarded as of sorrows of whom the Hebrew prophets spoke, has sunk an end, is really quite as ideal and almost as paradoxical to deep into the heart of the human race. It is a similar picture the common understanding as Platos conception of hap-of suffering goodness which Plato desires to pourtray, not piness. For the greatest happiness of the greatest number without an allusion to the fate of his master Socrates. He is may mean also the greatest pain of the individual which will convinced that, somehow or other, such an one must be procure the greatest pleasure of the greatest number. Ideas happy in life or after death. In the Republic, he endeavours 30
to show that his happiness would be assured here in a well-as he says in the Phaedo, no man of sense will maintain ordered state. But in the actual condition of human things that the details of the stories about another world are true, the wise and good are weak and miserable; such an one is he will insist that something of the kind is true, and will like a man fallen among wild beasts, exposed to every sort frame his life with a view to this unknown future. Even in of wrong and obloquy.
the Republic he introduces a future life as an afterthought, Plato, like other philosophers, is thus led on to the con-when the superior happiness of the just has been established clusion, that if the ways of God to man are to be justified,
on what is thought to be an immutable foundation. At the the hopes of another life must be included. If the question same time he makes a point of determining his main thesis could have been put to him, whether a man dying in tor-independently of remoter consequences.
ments was happy still, even if, as he suggests in the Apol-
(3) Platos theory of punishment is partly vindictive, partly ogy, death be only a long sleep, we can hardly tell what corrective. In the Gorgias, as well as in the Phaedo and would have been his answer. There have been a few, who, Republic, a few great criminals, chiefly tyrants, are reserved quite independently of rewards and punishments or of post-as examples. But most men have never had the opportu-humous reputation, or any other influence of public opin-nity of attaining this pre-eminence of evil. They are not inion, have been willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of curable, and their punishment is intended for their improve-others. It is difficult to say how far in such cases an uncon-ment. They are to suffer because they have sinned; like scious hope of a future life, or a general faith in the victory sick men, they must go to the physician and be healed. On of good in the world, may have supported the sufferers.
this representation of Platos the criticism has been made, But this extreme idealism is not in accordance with the spirit that the analogy of disease and injustice is partial only, and of Plato. He supposes a day of retribution, in which the that suffering, instead of improving men, may have just the good are to be rewarded and the wicked punished. Though, opposite effect.