knows not what he ought to know should be content to sit at the feet of those who know, and be taught.

But it was the rest of their kith and kin, not fathers only (according to the accuser), whom Socrates dishonoured in the eyes of his circle of followers, when he said that 'the sick man or the litigant does not derive assistance from his relatives,[26] but from his doctor in the one case, and his legal adviser in the other.' 'Listen further to his language about friends,' says the accuser: ''What is the good of their being kindly disposed, unless they can be of some practical use to you? Mere goodness of disposition is nothing; those only are worthy of honour who combine with the knowledge of what is right the faculty of expounding it;'[27] and so by bringing the young to look upon himself as a superlatively wise person gifted with an extraordinary capacity for making others wise also, he so worked on the dispositions of those who consorted with him that in their esteem the rest of the world counted for nothing by comparison with Socrates.'

[26] See Grote, 'H. G.' v. 535.

[27] Cf. Thuc. ii. 60. Pericles says, 'Yet I with whom you are so angry venture to say of myself, that I am as capable as any one of devising and explaining a sound policy.'--Jowett.

Now I admit the language about fathers and the rest of a man's relations. I can go further, and add some other sayings of his, that 'when the soul (which is alone the indwelling centre of intelligence) is gone out of a man, be he our nearest and dearest friend, we carry the body forth and bury it out of sight.' 'Even in life,' he used to say, 'each of us is ready to part with any portion of his best possession--to wit, his own body--if it be useless and unprofitable. He will remove it himself, or suffer another to do so in his stead. Thus men cut off their own nails, hair, or corns; they allow surgeons to cut and cauterise them, not without pains and aches, and are so grateful to the doctor for his services that they further give him a fee. Or again, a man ejects the spittle from his mouth as far as possible.[28] Why? Because it is of no use while it stays within the system, but is detrimental rather.'

[28] See Aristot. 'Eth. Eud.' vii. 1.

Now by these instances his object was not to inculcate the duty of burying one's father alive or of cutting oneself to bits, but to show that lack of intelligence means lack of worth;[29] and so he called upon his hearers to be as sensible and useful as they could be, so that, be it father or brother or any one else whose esteem he would deserve, a man should not hug himself in careless self-interest, trusting to mere relationship, but strive to be useful to those whose esteem he coveted.

[29] i.e. 'witless and worthless are synonymous.'

But (pursues the accuser) by carefully culling the most immoral passages of the famous poets, and using them as evidences, he taught his associates to be evildoers and tyrranical: the line of Hesiod[30] for instance--

No work is a disgrace; slackness of work is the disgrace--

'interpreted,' says the accuser, 'by Socrates as if the poet enjoined us to abstain from no work wicked or ignoble; do everything for the sake of gain.'

[30] 'Works and Days,' 309 {'Ergon d' ouden oneidos}. Cf. Plat. 'Charm.' 163 C.

Now while Socrates would have entirely admitted the propositions that 'it is a blessing and a benefit to a man to be a worker,' and that 'a lazy do-nothing is a pestilent evil,' that 'work is good and idleness a curse,' the question arises, whom did he mean by workers? In his vocabulary only those were good workmen[31] who were engaged on good work; dicers and gamblers and others engaged on any other base and ruinous business he stigmatised as the 'idle drones'; and from this point of view the quotation from Hesiod is unimpeachable--

No work is a disgrace; only idlesse is disgrace.

But there was a passage from Homer[32] for ever on his lips, as the accuser tells us--the passage which says concerning Odysseus,

What prince, or man of name, He found flight-giv'n, he would restrain with words of gentlest blame: 'Good sir, it fits you not to fly, or fare as one afraid, You should not only stay yourself, but see the people stayed.'

Thus he the best sort us'd; the worst, whose spirits brake out in noise,[33] He cudgell'd with his sceptre, chid, and said, 'Stay, wretch, be still, And hear thy betters; thou art base, and both in power and skill Poor and unworthy, without name in counsel or in war.' We must not all be kings.

[31] See below, III. ix. 9.

[32] 'Il.' ii. 188 foll., 199 foll. (so Chapman).

[33] Lit. 'But whatever man of the people he saw and found him shouting.'--W. Leaf.

The accuser informs us that Socrates interpreted these lines as though the poet approved the giving of blows to commoners and poor folk. Now no such remark was ever made by Socrates; which indeed would have been tantamount to maintaining that he ought to be beaten himself. What he did say was, that those who were useful neither in word nor deed, who were incapable of rendering assistance in time of need to the army or the state or the people itself, be they never so wealthy, ought to be restrained, and especially if to incapacity they added effrontery.

As to Socrates, he was the very opposite of all this--he was plainly a lover of the people, and indeed of all mankind. Though he had many ardent admirers among citizens and strangers alike, he never demanded any fee for his society from any one,[34] but bestowed abundantly upon all alike of the riches of his sould--good things, indeed, of which fragments accepted gratis at his hands were taken and sold at high prices to the rest of the community by some,[35] who were not, as he was, lovers of the people, since with those who had not money to give in return they refused to discourse. But of Socrates be it said that in the eyes of the whole world he reflected more honour on the state and a richer lustre than ever Lichas,[36] whose fame is proverbial, shed on Lacedaemon. Lichas feasted and entertained the foreign residents in Lacedaemon at the Gymnopaediae most handsomely. Socrates gave a lifetime to the outpouring of his substance in the shape of the greatest benefits bestowed on all who cared to receive them. In other words, he made those who lived in his society better men, and sent them on their way rejoicing.

[34] See 'Symp.' iv. 43; Plat. 'Hipp. maj.' 300 D; 'Apol.' 19 E.

[35] See Diog. Laert. II. viii. 1.

[36] See 'Hell.' III. ii. 21; Thuc. v. 50; Plut. 'Cim.' 284 C. For the Gymnopaediae, see Paus. III. xi. 9; Athen. xiv. p. 631.

To no other conclusion, therefore, can I come but that, being so good a man, Socrates was worthier to have received honour from the state than death. And this I take to be the strictly legal view of the case, for what does the law require?[37] 'If a man be proved to be a thief, a filcher of clothes, a cut-purse, a housebreaker, a man- stealer, a robber of temples, the penalty is death.' Even so; and of all men Socrates stood most aloof from such crimes.

[37] See 'Symp.' iv. 36; Plat. 'Rep.' 575 B; 'Gorg.' 508 E.

To the state he was never the cause of any evil--neither disaster in war, nor faction, nor treason, nor any other mischief whatsoever. And if his public life was free from all offence, so was his private. He never hurt a single soul either by deprivation of good or infliction of evil, nor did he ever lie under the imputation of any of those misdoings. WHere then is his liability to the indictment to be found? Who, so far from disbelieving in the gods, as set forth in the indictment, was conspicuous beyond all men for service to heaven; so far from corrupting the young--a charge alleged with insistence by the prosecutor--was notorious for the zeal with which he strove not only to stay his associates from evil desires, but to foster in them a passionate desire for that loveliest and queenliest of virtues without which states and families crumble to decay.[38] Such being his conduct, was he not worthy of high honour from the state of Athens?

[38] Or, 'the noblest and proudest virtue by means of which states and families are prosperously directed.'


It may serve to illustrate the assertion that he benefited his associates partly by the display of his own virtue and partly by verbal discourse and argument, if I set down my various recollections[1] on these heads. And first with regard to religion and the concerns of heaven. In conduct and language his behaviour conformed to the rule laid down by the Pythia[2] in reply to the question, 'How shall we act?' as touching a sacrifice or the worship of ancestors, or any similar point. Her answer is: 'Act according to the law and custom of your state, and you will act piously.' After this pattern Socrates behaved himself, and so he exhorted others to behave, holding them to be but busybodies and vain fellows who acted on any different principle.

[1] Hence the title of the work, {'Apomenmoneumata}, 'Recollections, Memoirs, Memorabilia.' See Diog. Laert. 'Xen.' II. vi. 48.

[2] The Pythia at Delphi.

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