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Translated by Benjamin Jowett
Persons of the Dialogue
SOCRATES, who is the narrator
Crito. Who was the person, Socrates, with whom you were talking yesterday
at the Lyceum? There was such a crowd around you that I could not
get within hearing, but I caught a sight of him over their heads,
and I made out, as I thought, that he was a stranger with whom you
were talking: who was he?
Socrates. There were two, Crito; which of them do you mean?
Cri. The one whom I mean was seated second from you on the right-hand
side. In the middle was Cleinias the young son of Axiochus, who has
wonderfully grown; he is only about the age of my own Critobulus,
but he is much forwarder and very good-looking: the other is thin
and looks younger than he is.
Soc. He whom you mean, Crito, is Euthydemus; and on my left hand there
was his brother Dionysodorus, who also took part in the conversation.
Cri. Neither of them are known to me, Socrates; they are a new importation
of Sophists, as I should imagine. Of what country are they, and what
is their line of wisdom?
Soc. As to their origin, I believe that they are natives of this part
of the world, and have migrated from Chios to Thurii; they were driven
out of Thurii, and have been living for many years past in these regions.
As to their wisdom, about which you ask, Crito, they are wonderful-consummate!
I never knew what the true pancratiast was before; they are simply
made up of fighting, not like the two Acarnanian brothers who fight
with their bodies only, but this pair of heroes, besides being perfect
in the use of their bodies, are invincible in every sort of warfare;
for they are capital at fighting in armour, and will teach the art
to any one who pays them; and also they are most skilful in legal
warfare; they will plead themselves and teach others to speak and
to compose speeches which will have an effect upon the courts. And
this was only the beginning of their wisdom, but they have at last
carried out the pancratiastic art to the very end, and have mastered
the only mode of fighting which had been hitherto neglected by them;
and now no one dares even to stand up against them: such is their
skill in the war of words, that they can refute any proposition whether
true or false. Now I am thinking, Crito, of placing myself in their
hands; for they say that in a short time they can impart their skill
to any one.
Cri. But, Socrates, are you not too old? there may be reason to fear
Soc. Certainly not, Crito; as I will prove to you, for I have the
consolation of knowing that they began this art of disputation which
I covet, quite, as I may say, in old age; last year, or the year before,
they had none of their new wisdom. I am only apprehensive that I may
bring the two strangers into disrepute, as I have done Connus the
son of Metrobius, the harp-player, who is still my music-master; for
when the boys who go to him see me going with them, they laugh at
me and call him grandpapa's master. Now I should not like the strangers
to experience similar treatment; the fear of ridicule may make them
unwilling to receive me; and therefore, Crito, I shall try and persuade
some old men to accompany me to them, as I persuaded them to go with
me to Connus, and I hope that you will make one: and perhaps we had
better take your sons as a bait; they will want to have them as pupils,
and for the sake of them willing to receive us.
Cri. I see no objection, Socrates, if you like; but first I wish that
you would give me a description of their wisdom, that I may know beforehand
what we are going to learn.
Soc. In less than no time you shall hear; for I cannot say that I
did not attend-I paid great attention to them, and I remember and
will endeavour to repeat the whole story. Providentially I was sitting
alone in the dressing-room of the Lyceum where you saw me, and was
about to depart; when I was getting up I recognized the familiar divine
sign: so I sat down again, and in a little while the two brothers
Euthydemus and Dionysodorus came in, and several others with them,
whom I believe to be their disciples, and they walked about in the
covered court; they had not taken more than two or three turns when
Cleinias entered, who, as you truly say, is very much improved: he
was followed by a host of lovers, one of whom was Ctesippus the Paeanian,
a well-bred youth, but also having the wildness of youth. Cleinias
saw me from the entrance as I was sitting alone, and at once came
and sat down on the right hand of me, as you describe; and Dionysodorus
and Euthydemus, when they saw him, at first stopped and talked with
one another, now and then glancing at us, for I particularly watched
them; and then Euthydemus came and sat down by the youth, and the
other by me on the left hand; the rest anywhere. I saluted the brothers,
whom I had not seen for a long time; and then I said to Cleinias:
Here are two wise men, Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, Cleinias, wise
not in a small but in a large way of wisdom, for they know all about
war,-all that a good general ought to know about the array and command
of an army, and the whole art of fighting in armour: and they know
about law too, and can teach a man how to use the weapons of the courts
when he is injured.
They heard me say this, but only despised me. I observed that they
looked at one another, and both of them laughed; and then Euthydemus
Those, Socrates, are matters which we no longer pursue seriously;
to us they are secondary occupations.
Indeed, I said, if such occupations are regarded by you as secondary,
what must the principal one be; tell me, I beseech you, what that
noble study is?
The teaching of virtue, Socrates, he replied, is our principal occupation;
and we believe that we can impart it better and quicker than any man.
My God! I said, and where did you learn that? I always thought, as
I was saying just now, that your chief accomplishment was the art
of fighting in armour; and I used to say as much of you, for I remember
that you professed this when you were here before. But now if you
really have the other knowledge, O forgive me: I address you as I
would superior beings, and ask you to pardon the impiety of my former
expressions. But are you quite sure about this, Dionysodorus and Euthydemus?
the promise is so vast, that a feeling of incredulity steals over
You may take our word, Socrates, for the fact.
Then I think you happier in having such a treasure than the great
king is in the possession of his kingdom. And please to tell me whether
you intend to exhibit your wisdom; or what will you do?
That is why we have come hither, Socrates; and our purpose is not
only to exhibit, but also to teach any one who likes to learn.
But I can promise you, I said, that every unvirtuous person will want
to learn. I shall be the first; and there is the youth Cleinias, and
Ctesippus: and here are several others, I said, pointing to the lovers
of Cleinias, who were beginning to gather round us. Now Ctesippus
was sitting at some distance from Cleinias; and when Euthydemus leaned
forward in talking with me, he was prevented from seeing Cleinias,
who was between us; and so, partly because he wanted to look at his
love, and also because he was interested, he jumped up and stood opposite
to us: and all the other admirers of Cleinias, as well as the disciples
of Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, followed his example. And these were
the persons whom I showed to Euthydemus, telling him that they were
all eager to learn: to which Ctesippus and all of them with one voice
vehemently assented, and bid him exhibit the power of his wisdom.
Then I said: O Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, I earnestly request you
to do myself and the company the favour to exhibit. There may be some
trouble in giving the whole exhibition; but tell me one thing,-can
you make a good man of him only who is already convinced that he ought
to learn of you, or of him also who is not convinced, either because
he imagines that virtue is a thing which cannot be taught at all,
or that you are not the teachers of it? Has your art power to persuade
him, who is of the latter temper of mind, that virtue can be taught;
and that you are the men from whom he will best learn it?
Certainly, Socrates, said Dionysodorus; our art will do both.
And you and your brother, Dionysodorus, I said, of all men who are
now living are the most likely to stimulate him to philosophy and
to the study of virtue?
Yes, Socrates, I rather think that we are.
Then I wish that you would be so good as to defer the other part of
the exhibition, and only try to persuade the youth whom you see here
that he ought to be a philosopher and study virtue. Exhibit that,
and you will confer a great favour on me and on every one present;
for the fact is I and all of us are extremely anxious that he should
become truly good. His name is Cleinias, and he is the son of Axiochus,
and grandson of the old Alcibiades, cousin of the Alcibiades that
now is. He is quite young, and we are naturally afraid that some one
may get the start of us, and turn his mind in a wrong direction, and
he may be ruined. Your visit, therefore, is most happily timed; and
I hope that you will make a trial of the young man, and converse with
him in our presence, if you have no objection.
These were pretty nearly the expressions which I used; and Euthydemus,
in a manly and at the same time encouraging tone, replied: There can
be no objection, Socrates, if the young man is only willing to answer
He is quite accustomed to do so, I replied; for his friends often
come and ask him questions and argue with him; and therefore he is
quite at home in answering.
What followed, Crito, how can I rightly narrate? For not slight is
the task of rehearsing infinite wisdom, and therefore, like the poets,
I ought to commence my relation with an invocation to Memory and the
Muses. Now Euthydemus, if I remember rightly, began nearly as follows:
O Cleinias, are those who learn the wise or the ignorant?
The youth, overpowered by the question blushed, and in his perplexity
looked at me for help; and I, knowing that he was disconcerted, said:
Take courage, Cleinias, and answer like a man whichever you think;
for my belief is that you will derive the greatest benefit from their
Whichever he answers, said Dionysodorus, leaning forward so as to
catch my ear, his face beaming with laughter, I prophesy that he will
be refuted, Socrates.
While he was speaking to me, Cleinias gave his answer: and therefore
I had no time to warn him of the predicament in which he was placed,
and he answered that those who learned were the wise.
Euthydemus proceeded: There are some whom you would call teachers,
are there not?
The boy assented.
And they are the teachers of those who learn-the grammar-master and
the lyre master used to teach you and other boys; and you were the
And when you were learners you did not as yet know the things which
you were learning?
No, he said.
And were you wise then?
No, indeed, he said.
But if you were not wise you were unlearned?
You then, learning what you did not know, were unlearned when you
The youth nodded assent.
Then the unlearned learn, and not the wise, Cleinias, as you imagine.
At these words the followers of Euthydemus, of whom I spoke, like
a chorus at the bidding of their director, laughed and cheered. Then,
before the youth had time to recover his breath, Dionysodorus cleverly
took him in hand, and said: Yes, Cleinias; and when the grammar master
dictated anything to you, were they the wise boys or the unlearned
who learned the dictation?
The wise, replied Cleinias.
Then after all the wise are the learners and not the unlearned; and
your last answer to Euthydemus was wrong.
Then once more the admirers of the two heroes, in an ecstasy at their
wisdom, gave vent to another peal of laughter, while the rest of us
were silent and amazed. Euthydemus, observing this, determined to
persevere with the youth; and in order to heighten the effect went
on asking another similar question, which might be compared to the
double turn of an expert dancer. Do those, said he, who learn, learn
what they know, or what they do not know?
Again Dionysodorus whispered to me: That, Socrates, is just another
of the same sort.
Good heavens, I said; and your last question was so good!
Like all our other questions, Socrates, he replied-inevitable.
I see the reason, I said, why you are in such reputation among your
Meanwhile Cleinias had answered Euthydemus that those who learned
learn what they do not know; and he put him through a series of questions
the same as before.
Do you not know letters?
But when the teacher dictates to you, does he not dictate letters?
To this also he assented.
Then if you know all letters, he dictates that which you know?
This again was admitted by him.
Then, said the other, you do not learn that which he dictates; but
he only who does not know letters learns?
Nay, said Cleinias; but I do learn.
Then, said he, you learn what you know, if you know all the letters?
He admitted that.
Then, he said, you were wrong in your answer.
The word was hardly out of his mouth when Dionysodorus took up the
argument, like a ball which he caught, and had another throw at the
youth. Cleinias, he said, Euthydemus is deceiving you. For tell me
now, is not learning acquiring knowledge of that which one learns?
And knowing is having knowledge at the time?
And not knowing is not having knowledge at the time?
He admitted that.
And are those who acquire those who have or have not a thing?
Those who have not.
And have you not admitted that those who do not know are of the number
of those who have not?
He nodded assent.
Then those who learn are of the class of those who acquire, and not
of those who have?
Then, Cleinias, he said, those who do not know learn, and not those
Euthydemus was proceeding to give the youth a third fall; but I knew
that he was in deep water, and therefore, as I wanted to give him
a respite lest he should be disheartened, I said to him consolingly:
You must not be surprised, Cleinias, at the singularity of their mode
of speech: this I say because you may not understand what the two
strangers are doing with you; they are only initiating you after the
manner of the Corybantes in the mysteries; and this answers to the
enthronement, which, if you have ever been initiated, is, as you will
know, accompanied by dancing and sport; and now they are just prancing
and dancing about you, and will next proceed to initiate you; imagine
then that you have gone through the first part of the sophistical
ritual, which, as Prodicus says, begins with initiation into the correct
use of terms. The two foreign gentlemen, perceiving that you did not
know, wanted to explain to you that the word "to learn" has two meanings,
and is used, first, in the sense of acquiring knowledge of some matter
of which you previously have no knowledge, and also, when you have
the knowledge, in the sense of reviewing this matter, whether something
done or spoken by the light of this newly-acquired knowledge; the
latter is generally called "knowing" rather than "learning," but the
word "learning" is also used; and you did not see, as they explained
to you, that the term is employed of two opposite sorts of men, of
those who know, and of those who do not know. There was a similar
trick in the second question, when they asked you whether men learn
what they know or what they do not know. These parts of learning are
not serious, and therefore I say that the gentlemen are not serious,
but are only playing with you. For if a man had all that sort of knowledge
that ever was, he would not be at all the wiser; he would only be
able to play with men, tripping them up and over setting them with
distinctions of words. He would be like a person who pulls away a
stool from some one when he is about to sit down, and then laughs
and makes merry at the sight of his friend overturned and laid on
his back. And you must regard all that has hitherto passed between
you and them as merely play. But in what is to follow I am certain
that they will exhibit to you their serious purpose, and keep their
promise (I will show them how); for they promised to give me a sample
of the hortatory philosophy, but I suppose that they wanted to have
a game with you first. And now, Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, I think
that we have had enough of this. Will you let me see you explaining
to the young man how he is to apply himself to the study of virtue
and wisdom? And I will first show you what I conceive to be the nature
of the task, and what sort of a discourse I desire to hear; and if
I do this in a very inartistic and ridiculous manner, do not laugh
at me, for I only venture to improvise before you because I am eager
to hear your wisdom: and I must therefore ask you and your disciples
to refrain from laughing. And now, O son of Axiochus, let me put a
question to you: Do not all men desire happiness? And yet, perhaps,
this is one of those ridiculous questions which I am afraid to ask,
and which ought not to be asked by a sensible man: for what human
being is there who does not desire happiness?
There is no one, said Cleinias, who does not.
Well, then, I said, since we all of us desire happiness, how can we
be happy?-that is the next question. Shall we not be happy if we have
many good things? And this, perhaps, is even a more simple question
than the first, for there can be no doubt of the answer.
And what things do we esteem good? No solemn sage is required to tell
us this, which may be easily answered; for every one will say that
wealth is a good.
Certainly, he said.
And are not health and beauty goods, and other personal gifts?
Can there be any doubt that good birth, and power, and honours in
one's own land, are goods?
And what other goods are there? I said. What do you say of temperance,
justice, courage: do you not verily and indeed think, Cleinias, that
we shall be more right in ranking them as goods than in not ranking
them as goods? For a dispute might possibly arise about this. What
then do you say?
They are goods, said Cleinias.
Very well, I said; and where in the company shall we find a place
for wisdom-among the goods or not?
Among the goods.
And now, I said, think whether we have left out any considerable goods.
I do not think that we have, said Cleinias.
Upon recollection, I said, indeed I am afraid that we have left out
the greatest of them all.
What is that? he asked.
Fortune, Cleinias, I replied; which all, even the most foolish, admit
to be the greatest of goods.
True, he said.
On second thoughts, I added, how narrowly, O son of Axiochus, have
you and I escaped making a laughing-stock of ourselves to the strangers.
Why do you say so?
Why, because we have already spoken of good-fortune, and are but repeating
What do you mean?
I mean that there is something ridiculous in again putting forward
good-fortune, which has a place in the list already, and saying the
same thing twice over.
He asked what was the meaning of this, and I replied: Surely wisdom
is good-fortune; even a child may know that.
The simple-minded youth was amazed; and, observing his surprise, I
said to him: Do you not know, Cleinias, that flute-players are most
fortunate and successful in performing on the flute?
And are not the scribes most fortunate in writing and reading letters?
Amid the dangers of the sea, again, are any more fortunate on the
whole than wise pilots?
And if you were engaged in war, in whose company would you rather
take the risk-in company with a wise general, or with a foolish one?
With a wise one.
And if you were ill, whom would you rather have as a companion in
a dangerous illness-a wise physician, or an ignorant one?
A wise one.
You think, I said, that to act with a wise man is more fortunate than
to act with an ignorant one?
Then wisdom always makes men fortunate: for by wisdom no man would
ever err, and therefore he must act rightly and succeed, or his wisdom
would be wisdom no longer.
We contrived at last, somehow or other, to agree in a general conclusion,
that he who had wisdom had no need of fortune. I then recalled to
his mind the previous state of the question. You remember, I said,
our making the admission that we should be happy and fortunate if
many good things were present with us?
And should we be happy by reason of the presence of good things, if
they profited us not, or if they profited us?
If they profited us, he said.
And would they profit us, if we only had them and did not use them?
For example, if we had a great deal of food and did not eat, or a
great deal of drink and did not drink, should we be profited?
Certainly not, he said.
Or would an artisan, who had all the implements necessary for his
work, and did not use them, be any the better for the possession of
them? For example, would a carpenter be any the better for having
all his tools and plenty of wood, if he never worked?
Certainly not, he said.
And if a person had wealth and all the goods of which we were just
now speaking, and did not use them, would he be happy because he possessed
No indeed, Socrates.
Then, I said, a man who would be happy must not only have the good
things, but he must also use them; there is no advantage in merely
Well, Cleinias, but if you have the use as well as the possession
of good things, is that sufficient to confer happiness?
Yes, in my opinion.
And may a person use them either rightly or wrongly?
He must use them rightly.
That is quite true, I said. And the wrong use of a thing is far worse
than the non-use; for the one is an evil, and the other is neither
a good nor an evil. You admit that?
Now in the working and use of wood, is not that which gives the right
use simply the knowledge of the carpenter?
Nothing else, he said.
And surely, in the manufacture of vessels, knowledge is that which
gives the right way of making them?
And in the use of the goods of which we spoke at first-wealth and
health and beauty, is not knowledge that which directs us to the right
use of them, and regulates our practice about them?
Then in every possession and every use of a thing, knowledge is that
which gives a man not only good-fortune but success?
He again assented.
And tell me, I said, O tell me, what do possessions profit a man,
if he have neither good sense nor wisdom? Would a man be better off,
having and doing many things without wisdom, or a few things with
wisdom? Look at the matter thus: If he did fewer things would he not
make fewer mistakes? if he made fewer mistakes would he not have fewer
misfortunes? and if he had fewer misfortunes would he not be less
Certainly, he said.
And who would do least-a Poor man or a rich man?
A poor man.
A weak man or a strong man?
A weak man.
A noble man or a mean man?
A mean man.
And a coward would do less than a courageous and temperate man?
And an indolent man less than an active man?
And a slow man less than a quick; and one who had dull perceptions
of seeing and hearing less than one who had keen ones?
All this was mutually allowed by us.
Then, I said, Cleinias, the sum of the matter appears to be that the
goods of which we spoke before are not to be regarded as goods in
themselves, but the degree of good and evil in them depends on whether
they are or are not under the guidance of knowledge: under the guidance
of ignorance, they are greater evils than their opposites, inasmuch
as they are more able to minister to the evil principle which rules
them; and when under the guidance of wisdom and prudence, they are
greater goods: but in themselves are nothing?
That, he replied, is obvious.
What then is the result of what has been said? Is not this the result-that
other things are indifferent, and that wisdom is the only good, and
ignorance the only evil?
Let us consider a further point, I said: Seeing that all men desire
happiness, and happiness, as has been shown, is gained by a use, and
a right use, of the things of life, and the right use of them, and
good fortune in the use of them, is given by knowledge,-the inference
is that everybody ought by all means to try and make himself as wise
as he can?
Yes, he said.
And when a man thinks that he ought to obtain this treasure, far more
than money, from a father or a guardian or a friend or a suitor, whether
citizen or stranger-the eager desire and prayer to them that they
would impart wisdom to you, is not at all dishonourable, Cleinias;
nor is any one to be blamed for doing any honourable service or ministration
to any man, whether a lover or not, if his aim is to get wisdom. Do
you agree? I said.
Yes, he said, I quite agree, and think that you are right.
Yes, I said, Cleinias, if only wisdom can be taught, and does not
come to man spontaneously; for this is a point which has still to
be considered, and is not yet agreed upon by you and me-
But I think, Socrates, that wisdom can be taught, he said.
Best of men, I said, I am delighted to hear you say so; and I am also
grateful to you for having saved me from a long and tiresome investigation
as to whether wisdom can be taught or not. But now, as you think that
wisdom can be taught, and that wisdom only can make a man happy and
fortunate will you not acknowledge that all of us ought to love wisdom,
and you individually will try to love her?
Certainly, Socrates, he said; I will do my best.
I was pleased at hearing this; and I turned to Dionysodorus and Euthydemus
and said: That is an example, clumsy and tedious I admit, of the sort
of exhortations which I would have you give; and I hope that one of
you will set forth what I have been saying in a more artistic style:
or at least take up the enquiry where I left off, and proceed to show
the youth whether he should have all knowledge; or whether there is
one sort of knowledge only which will make him good and happy, and
what that is. For, as I was saying at first, the improvement of this
young man in virtue and wisdom is a matter which we have very much
Thus I spoke, Crito, and was all attention to what was coming. I wanted
to see how they would approach the question, and where they would
start in their exhortation to the young man that he should practise
wisdom and virtue. Dionysodorus, who was the elder, spoke first. Everybody's
eyes were directed towards him, perceiving that something wonderful
might shortly be expected. And certainly they were not far wrong;
for the man, Crito, began a remarkable discourse well worth hearing,
and wonderfully persuasive regarded as an exhortation to virtue.
Tell me, he said, Socrates and the rest of you who say that you want
this young man to become wise, are you in jest or in real earnest?
I was led by this to imagine that they fancied us to have been jesting
when we asked them to converse with the youth, and that this made
them jest and play, and being under this impression, I was the more
decided in saying that we were in profound earnest. Dionysodorus said:
Reflect, Socrates; you may have to deny your words.
I have reflected, I said; and I shall never deny my words.
Well, said he, and so you say that you wish Cleinias to become wise?
And he is not wise as yet?
At least his modesty will not allow him to say that he is.
You wish him, he said, to become wise and not, to be ignorant?
That we do.
You wish him to be what he is not, and no longer to be what he is?
I was thrown into consternation at this.
Taking advantage of my consternation he added: You wish him no longer
to be what he is, which can only mean that you wish him to perish.
Pretty lovers and friends they must be who want their favourite not
to be, or to perish!
When Ctesippus heard this he got very angry (as a lover well might)
and said: Stranger of Thurii-if politeness would allow me I should
say, A plague upon you! What can make you tell such a lie about me
and the others, which I hardly like to repeat, as that I wish Cleinias
Euthydemus replied: And do you think, Ctesippus, that it is possible
to tell a lie?
Yes, said Ctesippus; I should be mad to say anything else.
And in telling a lie, do you tell the thing of which you speak or
You tell the thing of which you speak.
And he who tells, tells that thing which he tells, and no other?
Yes, said Ctesippus.
And that is a distinct thing apart from other things?
And he who says that thing says that which is?
And he who says that which is, says the truth. And therefore Dionysodorus,
if he says that which is, says the truth of you and no lie.
Yes, Euthydemus, said Ctesippus; but in saying this, he says what
Euthydemus answered: And that which is not is not?
And that which is not is nowhere?
And can any one do anything about that which has no existence, or
do to Cleinias that which is not and is nowhere?
I think not, said Ctesippus.
Well, but do rhetoricians, when they speak in the assembly, do nothing?
Nay, he said, they do something.
And doing is making?
And speaking is doing and making?
Then no one says that which is not, for in saying what is not he would
be doing something; and you have already acknowledged that no one
can do what is not. And therefore, upon your own showing, no one says
what is false; but if Dionysodorus says anything, he says what is
true and what is.
Yes, Euthydemus, said Ctesippus; but he speaks of things in a certain
way and manner, and not as they really are.
Why, Ctesippus, said Dionysodorus, do you mean to say that any one
speaks of things as they are?
Yes, he said-all gentlemen and truth-speaking persons.
And are not good things good, and evil things evil?
And you say that gentlemen speak of things as they are?
Then the good speak evil of evil things, if they speak of them as
Yes, indeed, he said; and they speak evil of evil men. And if I may
give you a piece of advice, you had better take care that they do
not speak evil of you, since I can tell you that the good speak evil
of the evil.
And do they speak great things of the great, rejoined Euthydemus,
and warm things of the warm?
To be sure they do, said Ctesippus; and they speak coldly of the insipid
and cold dialectician.
You are abusive, Ctesippus, said Dionysodorus, you are abusive!
Indeed, I am not, Dionysodorus, he replied; for I love you and am
giving you friendly advice, and, if I could, would persuade you not
like a boor to say in my presence that I desire my beloved, whom I
value above all men, to perish.
I saw that they were getting exasperated with one another, so I made
a joke with him and said: O Ctesippus, I think that we must allow
the strangers to use language in their own way, and not quarrel with
them about words, but be thankful for what they give us. If they know
how to destroy men in such a way as to make good and sensible men
out of bad and foolish ones-whether this is a discovery of their own,
or whether they have learned from some one else this new sort of death
and destruction which enables them to get rid of a bad man and turn
him into a good one-if they know this (and they do know this-at any
rate they said just now that this was the secret of their newly-discovered
art)-let them, in their phraseology, destroy the youth and make him
wise, and all of us with him. But if you young men do not like to
trust yourselves with them, then fiat experimentum in corpore senis;
I will be the Carian on whom they shall operate. And here I offer
my old person to Dionysodorus; he may put me into the pot, like Medea
the Colchian, kill me, boil me, if he will only make me good.
Ctesippus said: And I, Socrates, am ready to commit myself to the
strangers; they may skin me alive, if they please (and I am pretty
well skinned by them already), if only my skin is made at last, not
like that of Marsyas, into a leathern bottle, but into a piece of
virtue. And here is Dionysodorus fancying that I am angry with him,
when really I am not angry at all; I do but contradict him when I
think that he is speaking improperly to me: and you must not confound
abuse and contradiction, O illustrious Dionysodorus; for they are
quite different things.
Contradiction! said Dionysodorus; why, there never was such a thing.
Certainly there is, he replied; there can be no question of that.
Do you, Dionysodorus, maintain that there is not?
You will never prove to me, he said, that you have heard any one contradicting
any one else.
Indeed, said Ctesippus; then now you may hear me contradicting Dionysodorus.
Are you prepared to make that good?
Certainly, he said.
Well, have not all things words expressive of them?
Of their existence or of their non-existence?
Of their existence.
Yes, Ctesippus, and we just now proved, as you may remember, that
no man could affirm a negative; for no one could affirm that which
And what does that signify? said Ctesippus; you and I may contradict
all the same for that.
But can we contradict one another, said Dionysodorus, when both of
us are describing the same thing? Then we must surely be speaking
the same thing?
Or when neither of us is speaking of the same thing? For then neither
of us says a word about the thing at all?
He granted that proposition also.
But when I describe something and you describe another thing, or I
say something and you say nothing-is there any contradiction? How
can he who speaks contradict him who speaks not?
Here Ctesippus was silent; and I in my astonishment said: What do
you mean, Dionysodorus? I have often heard, and have been amazed to
hear, this thesis of yours, which is maintained and employed by the
disciples of Protagoras, and others before them, and which to me appears
to be quite wonderful, and suicidal as well as destructive, and I
think that I am most likely to hear the truth about it from you. The
dictum is that there is no such thing as falsehood; a man must either
say what is true or say nothing. Is not that your position?
But if he cannot speak falsely, may he not think falsely?
No, he cannot, he said.
Then there is no such thing as false opinion?
No, he said.
Then there is no such thing as ignorance, or men who are ignorant;
for is not ignorance, if there be such a thing, a mistake of fact?
Certainly, he said.
And that is impossible?
Impossible, he replied.
Are you saying this as a paradox, Dionysodorus; or do you seriously
maintain no man to be ignorant?
Refute me, he said.
But how can I refute you, if, as you say, to tell a falsehood is impossible?
Very true, said Euthydemus.
Neither did I tell you just now to refute me, said Dionysodorus; for
how can I tell you to do that which is not?
O Euthydemus, I said, I have but a dull conception of these subtleties
and excellent devices of wisdom; I am afraid that I hardly understand
them, and you must forgive me therefore if I ask a very stupid question:
if there be no falsehood or false opinion or ignorance, there can
be no such thing as erroneous action, for a man cannot fail of acting
as he is acting-that is what you mean?
Yes, he replied.
And now, I said, I will ask my stupid question: If there is no such
thing as error in deed, word, or thought, then what, in the name of
goodness, do you come hither to teach? And were you not just now saying
that you could teach virtue best of all men, to any one who was willing
And are you such an old fool, Socrates, rejoined Dionysodorus, that
you bring up now what I said at first-and if I had said anything last
year, I suppose that you would bring that up too-but are non-plussed
at the words which I have just uttered?
Why, I said, they are not easy to answer; for they are the words of
wise men: and indeed I know not what to make of this word "nonplussed,"
which you used last: what do you mean by it, Dionysodorus? You must
mean that I cannot refute your argument. Tell me if the words have
any other sense.
No, he replied, they mean what you say. And now answer.
What, before you, Dionysodorus? I said.
Answer, said he.
And is that fair?
Yes, quite fair, he said.
Upon what principle? I said. I can only suppose that you are a very
wise man who comes to us in the character of a great logician, and
who knows when to answer and when not to answer-and now you will not
open your mouth at all, because you know that you ought not.
You prate, he said, instead of answering. But if, my good sir, you
admit that I am wise, answer as I tell you.
I suppose that I must obey, for you are master. Put the question.
Are the things which have sense alive or lifeless?
They are alive.
And do you know of any word which is alive?
I cannot say that I do.
Then why did you ask me what sense my words had?
Why, because I was stupid and made a mistake. And yet, perhaps, I
was right after all in saying that words have a sense;-what do you
say, wise man? If I was not in error, even you will not refute me,
and all your wisdom will be non-plussed; but if I did fall into error,
then again you are wrong in saying that there is no error,-and this
remark was made by you not quite a year ago. I am inclined to think,
however, Dionysodorus and Euthydemus, that this argument lies where
it was and is not very likely to advance: even your skill in the subtleties
of logic, which is really amazing, has not found out the way of throwing
another and not falling yourself, now any more than of old.
Ctesippus said: Men of Chios, Thurii, or however and whatever you
call yourselves, I wonder at you, for you seem to have no objection
to talking nonsense.
Fearing that there would be high words, I again endeavoured to soothe
Ctesippus, and said to him: To you, Ctesippus, I must repeat what
I said before to Cleinias-that you do not understand the ways of these
philosophers from abroad. They are not serious, but, like the Egyptian
wizard, Proteus, they take different forms and deceive us by their
enchantments: and let us, like Menelaus, refuse to let them go until
they show themselves to us in earnest. When they begin to be in earnest
their full beauty will appear: let us then beg and entreat and beseech
them to shine forth. And I think that I had better once more exhibit
the form in which I pray to behold them; it might be a guide to them.
I will go on therefore where I left off, as well as I can, in the
hope that I may touch their hearts and move them to pity, and that
when they see me deeply serious and interested, they also may be serious.
You, Cleinias, I said, shall remind me at what point we left off.
Did we not agree that philosophy should be studied? and was not that
Yes, he replied.
And philosophy is the acquisition of knowledge?
Yes, he said.
And what knowledge ought we to acquire? May we not answer with absolute
truth-A knowledge which will do us good?
Certainly, he said.
And should we be any the better if we went about having a knowledge
of the places where most gold was hidden in the earth?
Perhaps we should, he said.
But have we not already proved, I said, that we should be none the
better off, even if without trouble and digging all the gold which
there is in the earth were ours? And if we knew how to convert stones
into gold, the knowledge would be of no value to us, unless we also
knew how to use the gold? Do you not remember? I said.
I quite remember, he said.
Nor would any other knowledge, whether of money-making, or of medicine,
or of any other art which knows only how to make a thing, and not
to use it when made, be of any good to us. Am I not right?
And if there were a knowledge which was able to make men immortal,
without giving them the knowledge of the way to use the immortality,
neither would there be any use in that, if we may argue from the analogy
of the previous instances?
To all this he agreed.
Then, my dear boy, I said, the knowledge which we want is one that
uses as well as makes?
True, he said.
And our desire is not to be skilful lyre-makers, or artists of that
sort-far otherwise; for with them the art which makes is one, and
the art which uses is another. Although they have to do with the same,
they are divided: for the art which makes and the art which plays
on the lyre differ widely from one another. Am I not right?
And clearly we do not want the art of the flute-maker; this is only
another of the same sort?
But suppose, I said, that we were to learn the art of making speeches-would
that be the art which would make us happy?
I should say no, rejoined Cleinias.
And why should you say so? I asked.
I see, he replied, that there are some composers of speeches who do
not know how to use the speeches which they make, just as the makers
of lyres do not know how to use the lyres; and also some who are of
themselves unable to compose speeches, but are able to use the speeches
which the others make for them; and this proves that the art of making
speeches is not the same as the art of using them.
Yes, I said; and I take your words to be a sufficient proof that the
art of making speeches is not one which will make a man happy. And
yet I did think that the art which we have so long been seeking might
be discovered in that direction; for the composers of speeches, whenever
I meet them, always appear to me to be very extraordinary men, Cleinias,
and their art is lofty and divine, and no wonder. For their art is
a part of the great art of enchantment, and hardly, if at all, inferior
to it: and whereas the art of the enchanter is a mode of charming
snakes and spiders and scorpions, and other monsters and pests, this
art of theirs acts upon dicasts and ecclesiasts and bodies of men,
for the charming and pacifying of them. Do you agree with me?
Yes, he said, I think that you are quite right.
Whither then shall we go, I said, and to what art shall we have recourse?
I do not see my way, he said.
But I think that I do, I replied.
And what is your notion? asked Cleinias.
I think that the art of the general is above all others the one of
which the possession is most likely to make a man happy.
I do not think so, he said.
Why not? I said.
The art of the general is surely an art of hunting mankind.
What of that? I said.
Why, he said, no art of hunting extends beyond hunting and capturing;
and when the prey is taken the huntsman or fisherman cannot use it;
but they hand it over to the cook, and the geometricians and astronomers
and calculators (who all belong to the hunting class, for they do
not make their diagrams, but only find out that which was previously
contained in them)-they, I say, not being able to use but only to
catch their prey, hand over their inventions to the dialectician to
be applied by him, if they have any sense in them.
Good, I said, fairest and wisest Cleinias. And is this true?
Certainly, he said; just as a general when he takes a city or a camp
hands over his new acquisition to the statesman, for he does not know
how to use them himself; or as the quail-taker transfers the quails
to the keeper of them. If we are looking for the art which is to make
us blessed, and which is able to use that which it makes or takes,
the art of the general is not the one, and some other must be found.
Cri. And do you mean, Socrates, that the youngster said all this?
Soc. Are you incredulous, Crito?
Cri. Indeed, I am; for if he did say so, then in my opinion he needs
neither Euthydemus nor any one else to be his instructor.
Soc. Perhaps I may have forgotten, and Ctesippus was the real answerer.
Cri. Ctesippus! nonsense.
Soc. All I know is that I heard these words, and that they were not
spoken either by Euthydemus or Dionysodorus. I dare say, my good Crito,
that they may have been spoken by some superior person: that I heard
them I am certain.
Cri. Yes, indeed, Socrates, by some one a good deal superior, as I
should be disposed to think. But did you carry the search any further,
and did you find the art which you were seeking?
Soc. Find! my dear sir, no indeed. And we cut a poor figure; we were
like children after larks, always on the point of catching the art,
which was always getting away from us. But why should I repeat the
whole story? At last we came to the kingly art, and enquired whether
that gave and caused happiness, and then we got into a labyrinth,
and when we thought we were at the end, came out again at the beginning,
having still to seek as much as ever.
Cri. How did that happen, Socrates?
Soc. I will tell you; the kingly art was identified by us with the
Cri. Well, and what came of that?
Soc. To this royal or political art all the arts, including the art
of the general, seemed to render up the supremacy, that being the
only one which knew how to use what they produce. Here obviously was
the very art which we were seeking-the art which is the source of
good government, and which may be described, in the language of Aeschylus,
as alone sitting at the helm of the vessel of state, piloting and
governing all things, and utilizing them.
Cri. And were you not right, Socrates?
Soc. You shall judge, Crito, if you are willing to hear what followed;
for we resumed the enquiry, and a question of this sort was asked:
Does the kingly art, having this supreme authority, do anything for
us? To be sure, was the answer. And would not you, Crito, say the
Cri. Yes, I should.
Soc. And what would you say that the kingly art does? If medicine
were supposed to have supreme authority over the subordinate arts,
and I were to ask you a similar question about that, you would say-it
Cri. I should.
Soc. And what of your own art of husbandry, supposing that to have
supreme authority over the subject arts-what does that do? Does it
not supply us with the fruits of the earth?
Soc. And what does the kingly art do when invested with supreme power?
Perhaps you may not be ready with an answer?
Cri. Indeed I am not, Socrates.
Soc. No more were we, Crito. But at any rate you know that if this
is the art which we were seeking, it ought to be useful.
Soc. And surely it ought to do us some good?
Cri. Certainly, Socrates.
Soc. And Cleinias and I had arrived at the conclusion that knowledge
of some kind is the only good.
Cri. Yes, that was what you were saying.
Soc. All the other results of politics, and they are many, as for
example, wealth, freedom, tranquillity, were neither good nor evil
in themselves; but the political science ought to make us wise, and
impart knowledge to us, if that is the science which is likely to
do us good, and make us happy.
Cri. Yes; that was the conclusion at which you had arrived, according
to your report of the conversation.
Soc. And does the kingly art make men wise and good?
Cri. Why not, Socrates?
Soc. What, all men, and in every respect? and teach them all the arts,-carpentering,
and cobbling, and the rest of them?
Cri. I think not, Socrates.
Soc. But then what is this knowledge, and what are we to do with it?
For it is not the source of any works which are neither good nor evil,
and gives no knowledge, but the knowledge of itself; what then can
it be, and what are we to do with it? Shall we say, Crito, that it
is the knowledge by which we are to make other men good?
Cri. By all means.
Soc. And in what will they be good and useful? Shall we repeat that
they will make others good, and that these others will make others
again, without ever determining in what they are to be good; for we
have put aside the results of politics, as they are called. This is
the old, old song over again; and we are just as far as ever, if not
farther, from the knowledge of the art or science of happiness.
.Cri. Indeed, Socrates, you do appear to have got into a great perplexity.
Soc. Thereupon, Crito, seeing that I was on the point of shipwreck,
I lifted up my voice, and earnestly entreated and called upon the
strangers to save me and the youth from the whirlpool of the argument;
they were our Castor and Pollux, I said, and they should be serious,
and show us in sober earnest what that knowledge was which would enable
us to pass the rest of our lives in happiness.
Cri. And did Euthydemus show you this knowledge?
Soc. Yes, indeed; he proceeded in a lofty strain to the following
effect: Would you rather, Socrates, said he, that I should show you
this knowledge about which you have been doubting, or shall I prove
that you already have it?
What, I said, are you blessed with such a power as this?
Indeed I am.
Then I would much rather that you should prove me to have such a knowledge;
at my time of life that will be more agreeable than having to learn.
Then tell me, he said, do you know anything?
Yes, I said, I know many things, but not anything of much importance.
That will do, he said: And would you admit that anything is what it
is, and at the same time is not what it is?
And did you not say that you knew something?
If you know, you are knowing.
Certainly, of the knowledge which I have.
That makes no difference;-and must you not, if you are knowing, know
Certainly not, I said, for there are many other things which I do
And if you do not know, you are not knowing.
Yes, friend, of that which I do not know.
Still you are not knowing, and you said just now that you were knowing;
and therefore you are and are not at the same time, and in reference
to the same things.
A pretty clatter, as men say, Euthydemus, this of yours! and will
you explain how I possess that knowledge for which we were seeking?
Do you mean to say that the same thing cannot be and also not be;
and therefore, since I know one thing, that I know all, for I cannot
be knowing and not knowing at the same time, and if I know all things,
then I must have the knowledge for which we are seeking-May I assume
this to be your ingenious notion?
Out of your own mouth, Socrates, you are convicted, he said.
Well, but, Euthydemus, I said, has that never happened to you? for
if I am only in the same case with you and our beloved Dionysodorus,
I cannot complain. Tell me, then, you two, do you not know some things,
and not know others?
Certainly not, Socrates, said Dionysodorus.
What do you mean, I said; do you know nothing?
Nay, he replied, we do know something.
Then, I said, you know all things, if you know anything?
Yes, all things, he said; and that is as true of you as of us.
O, indeed, I said, what a wonderful thing, and what a great blessing!
And do all other men know all things or nothing?
Certainly, he replied; they cannot know some things, and not know
others, and be at the same time knowing and not knowing.
Then what is the inference? I said.
They all know all things, he replied, if they know one thing.
O heavens, Dionysodorus, I said, I see now that you are in earnest;
hardly have I got you to that point. And do you really and truly know
all things, including carpentering and leather cutting?
Certainly, he said.
And do you know stitching?
Yes, by the gods, we do, and cobbling, too.
And do you know things such as the numbers of the stars and of the
Certainly; did you think we should say no to that?
By Zeus, said Ctesippus, interrupting, I only wish that you would
give me some proof which would enable me to know whether you speak
What proof shall I give you? he said.
Will you tell me how many teeth Euthydemus has? and Euthydemus shall
tell how many teeth you have.
Will you not take our word that we know all things?
Certainly not, said Ctesippus: you must further tell us this one thing,
and then we shall know that you are speak the truth; if you tell us
the number, and we count them, and you are found to be right, we will
believe the rest. They fancied that Ctesippus was making game of them,
and they refused, and they would only say in answer to each of his
questions, that they knew all things. For at last Ctesippus began
to throw off all restraint; no question in fact was too bad for him;
he would ask them if they knew the foulest things, and they, like
wild boars, came rushing on his blows, and fearlessly replied that
they did. At last, Crito, I too was carried away by my incredulity,
and asked Euthydemus whether Dionysodorus could dance.
Certainly, he replied.
And can he vault among swords, and turn upon a wheel, at his age?
has he got to such a height of skill as that?
He can do anything, he said.
And did you always know this?
Always, he said.
When you were children, and at your birth?
They both said that they did.
This we could not believe. And Euthydemus said: You are incredulous,
Yes, I said, and I might well be incredulous, if I did not know you
to be wise men.
But if you will answer, he said, I will make you confess to similar
Well, I said, there is nothing that I should like better than to be
self-convicted of this, for if I am really a wise man, which I never
knew before, and you will prove to me that I know and have always
known all things, nothing in life would be a greater gain to me.
Answer then, he said.
Ask, I said, and I will answer.
Do you know something, Socrates, or nothing?
Something, I said.
And do you know with what you know, or with something else?
With what I know; and I suppose that you mean with my soul?
Are you not ashamed, Socrates, of asking a question when you are asked
Well, I said; but then what am I to do? for I will do whatever you
bid; when I do not know what you are asking, you tell me to answer
nevertheless, and not to ask again.
Why, you surely have some notion of my meaning, he said.
Yes, I replied.
Well, then, answer according to your notion of my meaning.
Yes, I said; but if the question which you ask in one sense is understood
and answered by me in another, will that please you-if I answer what
is not to the point?
That will please me very well; but will not please you equally well,
as I imagine.
I certainly will not answer unless I understand you, I said.
You will not answer, he said, according to your view of the meaning,
because you will be prating, and are an ancient.
Now I saw that he was getting angry with me for drawing distinctions,
when he wanted to catch me in his springes of words. And I remembered
that Connus was always angry with me when I opposed him, and then
he neglected me, because he thought that I was stupid; and as I was
intending to go to Euthydemus as a pupil, I reflected that I had better
let him have his way, as he might think me a blockhead, and refuse
to take me. So I said: You are a far better dialectician than myself,
Euthydemus, for I have never made a profession of the art, and therefore
do as you say; ask your questions once more, and I will answer.
Answer then, he said, again, whether you know what you know with something,
or with nothing.
Yes, I said; I know with my soul.
The man will answer more than the question; for I did not ask you,
he said, with what you know, but whether you know with something.
Again I replied, Through ignorance I have answered too much, but I
hope that you will forgive me. And now I will answer simply that I
always know what I know with something.
And is that something, he rejoined, always the same, or sometimes
one thing, and sometimes another thing?
Always, I replied, when I know, I know with this.
Will you not cease adding to your answers?
My fear is that this word "always" may get us into trouble.
You, perhaps, but certainly not us. And now answer: Do you always
know with this?
Always; since I am required to withdraw the words "when I know."
You always know with this, or, always knowing, do you know some things
with this, and some things with something else, or do you know all
things with this?
All that I know, I replied, I know with this.
There again, Socrates, he said, the addition is superfluous.
Well, then, I said, I will take away the words that I know."
Nay, take nothing away; I desire no favours of you; but let me ask:
Would you be able to know all things, if you did not know all things?
And now, he said, you may add on whatever you like, for you confess
that you know all things.
I suppose that is true, I said, if my qualification implied in the
words "that I know" is not allowed to stand; and so I do know all
And have you not admitted that you always know all things with that
which you know, whether you make the addition of "when you know them"
or not? for you have acknowledged that you have always and at once
known all things, that is to say, when you were a child, and at your
birth, and when you were growing up, and before you were born, and
before the heaven and earth existed, you knew all things if you always
know them; and I swear that you shall always continue to know all
things, if I am of the mind to make you.
But I hope that you will be of that mind, reverend Euthydemus, I said,
if you are really speaking the truth, and yet I a little doubt your
power to make good your words unless you have the help of your brother
Dionysodorus; then you may do it. Tell me now, both of you, for although
in the main I cannot doubt that I really do know all things, when
I am told so by men of your prodigious wisdom-how can I say that I
know such things, Euthydemus, as that the good are unjust; come, do
I know that or not?
Certainly, you know that.
What do I know?
That the good are not unjust.
Quite true, I said; and that I have always known; but the question
is, where did I learn that the good are unjust?
Nowhere, said Dionysodorus.
Then, I said, I do not know this.
You are ruining the argument, said Euthydemus to Dionysodorus; he
will be proved not to know, and then after all he will be knowing
and not knowing at the same time.
I turned to the other, and said, What do you think, Euthydemus? Does
not your omniscient brother appear to you to have made a mistake?
What, replied Dionysodorus in a moment; am I the brother of Euthydemus?
Thereupon I said, Please not to interrupt, my good friend, or prevent
Euthydemus from proving to me that I know the good to be unjust; such
a lesson you might at least allow me to learn.
You are running away, Socrates, said Dionysodorus, and refusing to
No wonder, I said, for I am not a match for one of you, and a fortiori
I must run away from two. I am no Heracles; and even Heracles could
not fight against the Hydra, who was a she-Sophist, and had the wit
to shoot up many new heads when one of them was cut off; especially
when he saw a second monster of a sea-crab, who was also a Sophist,
and appeared to have newly arrived from a sea-voyage, bearing down
upon him from the left, opening his mouth and biting. When the monster
was growing troublesome he called Iolaus, his nephew, to his help,
who ably succoured him; but if my Iolaus, who is my brother Patrocles
[the statuary], were to come, he would only make a bad business worse.
And now that you have delivered yourself of this strain, said Dionysodorus,
will you inform me whether Iolaus was the nephew of Heracles any more
than he is yours?
I suppose that I had best answer you, Dionysodorus, I said, for you
will insist on asking that I pretty well know-out of envy, in order
to prevent me from learning the wisdom of Euthydemus.
Then answer me, he said.
Well then, I said, I can only reply that Iolaus was not my nephew
at all, but the nephew of Heracles; and his father was not my brother
Patrocles, but Iphicles, who has a name rather like his, and was the
brother of Heracles.
And is Patrocles, he said, your brother?
Yes, I said, he is my half-brother, the son of my mother, but not
of my father.
Then he is and is not your brother.
Not by the same father, my good man, I said, for Chaeredemus was his
father, and mine was Sophroniscus.
And was Sophroniscus a father, and Chaeredemus also?
Yes, I said; the former was my father, and the latter his.
Then, he said, Chaeredemus is not a father.
He is not my father, I said.
But can a father be other than a father? or are you the same as a
I certainly do not think that I am a stone, I said, though I am afraid
that you may prove me to be one.
Are you not other than a stone?
And being other than a stone, you are not a stone; and being other
than gold, you are not gold?
And so Chaeredemus, he said, being other than a father, is not a father?
I suppose that he is not a father, I replied.
For if, said Euthydemus, taking up the argument, Chaeredemus is a
father, then Sophroniscus, being other than a father, is not a father;
and you, Socrates, are without a father.
Ctesippus, here taking up the argument, said: And is not your father
in the same case, for he is other than my father?
Assuredly not, said Euthydemus.
Then he is the same?
He is the same.
I cannot say that I like the connection; but is he only my father,
Euthydemus, or is he the father of all other men?
Of all other men, he replied. Do you suppose the same person to be
a father and not a father?
Certainly, I did so imagine, said Ctesippus.
And do you suppose that gold is not gold, or that a man is not a man?
They are not "in pari materia," Euthydemus, said Ctesippus, and you
had better take care, for it is monstrous to suppose that your father
is the father of all.
But he is, he replied.
What, of men only, said Ctesippus, or of horses and of all other animals?
Of all, he said.
And your mother, too, is the mother of all?
Yes, our mother too.
Yes; and your mother has a progeny of sea-urchins then?
Yes; and yours, he said.
And gudgeons and puppies and pigs are your brothers?
And yours too.
And your papa is a dog?
And so is yours, he said.
If you will answer my questions, said Dionysodorus, I will soon extract
the same admissions from you, Ctesippus. You say that you have a dog.
Yes, a villain of a one, said Ctesippus.
And he has puppies?
Yes, and they are very like himself.
And the dog is the father of them?
Yes, he said, I certainly saw him and the mother of the puppies come
And is he not yours?
To be sure he is.
Then he is a father, and he is yours; ergo, he is your father, and
the puppies are your brothers.
Let me ask you one little question more, said Dionysodorus, quickly
interposing, in order that Ctesippus might not get in his word: You
beat this dog?
Ctesippus said, laughing, Indeed I do; and I only wish that I could
beat you instead of him.
Then you beat your father, he said.
I should have far more reason to beat yours, said Ctesippus; what
could he have been thinking of when he begat such wise sons? much
good has this father of you and your brethren the puppies got out
of this wisdom of yours.
But neither he nor you, Ctesippus, have any need of much good.
And have you no need, Euthydemus? he said.
Neither I nor any other man; for tell me now, Ctesippus, if you think
it good or evil for a man who is sick to drink medicine when he wants
it; or to go to war armed rather than unarmed.
Good, I say. And yet I know that I am going to be caught in one of
your charming puzzles.
That, he replied, you will discover, if you answer; since you admit
medicine to be good for a man to drink, when wanted, must it not be
good for him to drink as much as possible; when he takes his medicine,
a cartload of hellebore will not be too much for him?
Ctesippus said: Quite so, Euthydemus, that is to say, if he who drinks
is as big as the statue of Delphi.
And seeing that in war to have arms is a good thing, he ought to have
as many spears and shields as possible?
Very true, said Ctesippus; and do you think, Euthydemus, that he ought
to have one shield only, and one spear?
And would you arm Geryon and Briarcus in that way? Considering that
you and your companion fight in armour, I thought that you would have
known better.... Here Euthydemus held his peace, but Dionysodorus
returned to the previous answer of Ctesippus and said:-
Do you not think that the possession of gold is a good thing?
Yes, said Ctesippus, and the more the better.
And to have money everywhere and always is a good?
Certain a great good, he said.
And you admit gold to be a good?
Certainly, he replied.
And ought not a man then to have gold everywhere and always, and as
much as possible in himself, and may he not be deemed the happiest
of men who has three talents of gold in his belly, and a talent in
his pate, and a stater of gold in either eye?
Yes, Euthydemus, said Ctesippus; and the Scythians reckon those who
have gold in their own skulls to be the happiest and bravest of men
(that is only another instance of your manner of speaking about the
dog and father), and what is still more extraordinary, they drink
out of their own skulls gilt and see the inside of them, and hold
their own head in their hands.
And do the Scythians and others see that which has the quality of
vision, or that which has not? said Euthydemus.
That which has the quality of vision clearly.
And you also see that which has the quality Of vision? he said.
Yes, I do.
Then do you see our garments?
Then our garments have the quality of vision.
They can see to any extent, said Ctesippus.
What can they see?
Nothing; but you, my sweet man, may perhaps imagine that they do not
see; and certainly, Euthydemus, you do seem to me to have been caught
napping when you were not asleep, and that if it be possible to speak
and say nothing-you are doing so.
And may there not be a silence of the speaker? said Dionysodorus.
Impossible, said Ctesippus.
Or a speaking of the silent?
That is still more impossible, he said.
But when you speak of stones, wood, iron bars, do you not speak of
Not when I pass a smithy; for then the iron bars make a tremendous
noise and outcry if they are touched: so that here your wisdom is
strangely mistaken, please, however, to tell me how you can be silent
when speaking (I thought that Ctesippus was put upon his mettle because
Cleinias was present).
When you are silent, said Euthydemus, is there not a silence of all
Yes, he said.
But if speaking things are included in all things, then the speaking
What, said Ctesippus; then all things are not silent?
Certainly not, said Euthydemus.
Then, my good friend, do they all speak?
Yes; those which speak.
Nay, said Ctesippus, but the question which I ask is whether all things
are silent or speak?
Neither and both, said Dionysodorus, quickly interposing; I am sure
that you will be "nonplussed" at that answer.
Here Ctesippus, as his manner was, burst into a roar of laughter;
he said, That brother of yours, Euthydemus, has got into a dilemma;
all is over with him. This delighted Cleinias, whose laughter made
Ctesippus ten times as uproarious; but I cannot help thinking that
the rogue must have picked up this answer from them; for there has
been no wisdom like theirs in our time. Why do you laugh, Cleinias,
I said, at such solemn and beautiful things?
Why, Socrates, said Dionysodorus, did you ever see a beautiful thing?
Yes, Dionysodorus, I replied, I have seen many.
Were they other than the beautiful, or the same as the beautiful?
Now I was in a great quandary at having to answer this question, and
I thought that I was rightly served for having opened my mouth at
all: I said however, They are not the same as absolute beauty, but
they have beauty present with each of them.
And are you an ox because an ox is present with you, or are you Dionysodorus,
because Dionysodorus is present with you?
God forbid, I replied.
But how, he said, by reason of one thing being present with another,
will one thing be another?
Is that your difficulty? I said. For I was beginning to imitate their
skill, on which my heart was set.
Of course, he replied, I and all the world are in a difficulty about
What do you mean, Dionysodorus? I said. Is not the honourable honourable
and the base base?
That, he said, is as I please.
And do you please?
Yes, he said.
And you will admit that the same is the same, and the other other;
for surely the other is not the same; I should imagine that even a
child will hardly deny the other to be other. But I think, Dionysodorus,
that you must have intentionally missed the last question; for in
general you and your brother seem to me to be good workmen in your
own department, and to do the dialectician's business excellently
What, said he, is the business of a good workman? tell me, in the
first place, whose business is hammering?
And whose the making of pots?
And who has to kill and skin and mince and boil and roast?
The cook, I said.
And if a man does his business he does rightly?
And the business of the cook is to cut up and skin; you have admitted
Yes, I have admitted that, but you must not be too hard upon me.
Then if some one were to kill, mince, boil, roast the cook, he would
do his business, and if he were to hammer the smith, and make a pot
of the potter, he would do their business.
Poseidon, I said, this is the crown of wisdom; can I ever hope to
have such wisdom of my own?
And would you be able, Socrates, to recognize this wisdom when it
has become your own?
Certainly, I said, if you will allow me.
What, he said, do you think that you know what is your own?
Yes, I do, subject to your correction; for you are the bottom, and
Euthydemus is the top, of all my wisdom.
Is not that which you would deem your own, he said, that which you
have in your own power, and which you are able to use as you would
desire, for example, an ox or a sheep would you not think that which
you could sell and give and sacrifice to any god whom you pleased,
to be your own, and that which you could not give or sell or sacrifice
you would think not to be in your own power?
Yes, I said (for I was certain that something good would come out
of the questions, which I was impatient to hear); yes, such things,
and such things only are mine.
Yes, he said, and you would mean by animals living beings?
Yes, I said.
You agree then, that-those animals only are yours with which you have
the power to do all these things which I was just naming?
Then, after a pause, in which he seemed to be lost in the contemplation
of something great, he said: Tell me, Socrates, have you an ancestral
Zeus? Here, anticipating the final move, like a person caught in a
net, who gives a desperate twist that he may get away, I said: No,
Dionysodorus, I have not.
What a miserable man you must be then, he said; you are not an Athenian
at all if you have no ancestral gods or temples, or any other mark
Nay, Dionysodorus, I said, do not be rough; good words, if you please;
in the way of religion I have altars and temples, domestic and ancestral,
and all that other Athenians have.
And have not other Athenians, he said, an ancestral Zeus?
That name, I said, is not to be found among the Ionians, whether colonists
or citizens of Athens; an ancestral Apollo there is, who is the father
of Ion, and a family Zeus, and a Zeus guardian of the phratry, and
an Athene guardian of the phratry. But the name of ancestral Zeus
is unknown to us.
No matter, said Dionysodorus, for you admit that you have Apollo,
Zeus, and Athene.
Certainly, I said.
And they are your gods, he said.
Yes, I said, my lords and ancestors.
At any rate they are yours, he said, did you not admit that?
I did, I said; what is going to happen to me?
And are not these gods animals? for you admit that all things which
have life are animals; and have not these gods life?
They have life, I said.
Then are they not animals?
They are animals, I said.
And you admitted that of animals those are yours which you could give
away or sell or offer in sacrifice, as you pleased?
I did admit that, Euthydemus, and I have no way of escape.
Well then, said he, if you admit that Zeus and the other gods are
yours, can you sell them or give them away or do what you will with
them, as you would with other animals?
At this I was quite struck dumb, Crito, and lay prostrate. Ctesippus
came to the rescue.
Bravo, Heracles, brave words, said he.
Bravo Heracles, or is Heracles a Bravo? said Dionysodorus.
Poseidon, said Ctesippus, what awful distinctions. I will have no
more of them; the pair are invincible.
Then, my dear Crito, there was universal applause of the speakers
and their words, and what with laughing and clapping of hands and
rejoicings the two men were quite overpowered; for hitherto their
partisans only had cheered at each successive hit, but now the whole
company shouted with delight until the columns of the Lyceum returned
the sound, seeming to sympathize in their joy. To such a pitch was
I affected myself, that I made a speech, in which I acknowledged that
I had never seen the like of their wisdom; I was their devoted servant,
and fell to praising and admiring of them. What marvellous dexterity
of wit, I said, enabled you to acquire this great perfection in such
a short time? There is much, indeed, to admire in your words, Euthydemus
and Dionysodorus, but there is nothing that I admire more than your
magnanimous disregard of any opinion-whether of the many, or of the
grave and reverend seigniors-you regard only those who are like yourselves.
And I do verily believe that there are few who are like you, and who
would approve of such arguments; the majority of mankind are so ignorant
of their value, that they would be more ashamed of employing them
in the refutation of others than of being refuted by them. I must
further express my approval of your kind and public-spirited denial
of all differences, whether of good and evil, white or black, or any
other; the result of which is that, as you say, every mouth is sewn
up, not excepting your own, which graciously follows the example of
others; and thus all ground of offence is taken away. But what appears
to me to be more than all is, that this art and invention of yours
has been so admirably contrived by you, that in a very short time
it can be imparted to any one. I observed that Ctesippus learned to
imitate you in no time. Now this quickness of attainment is an excellent
thing; but at the same time I would advise you not to have any more
public entertainments; there is a danger that men may undervalue an
art which they have so easy an opportunity of acquiring; the exhibition
would be best of all, if the discussion were confined to your two
selves; but if there must be an audience, let him only be present
who is willing to pay a handsome fee;-you should be careful of this;-and
if you are wise, you will also bid your disciples discourse with no
man but you and themselves. For only what is rare is valuable; and
"water," which, as Pindar says, is the "best of all things," is also
the cheapest. And now I have only to request that you will receive
Cleinias and me among your pupils.
Such was the discussion, Crito; and after a few more words had passed
between us we went away. I hope that you will come to them with me,
since they say that they are able to teach any one who will give them
money; no age or want of capacity is an impediment. And I must repeat
one thing which they said, for your especial benefit,-that the learning
of their art did not at all interfere with the business of money-making.
Cri. Truly, Socrates, though I am curious and ready to learn, yet
I fear that I am not like minded with Euthydemus, but one of the other
sort, who, as you were saying, would rather be refuted by such arguments
than use them in refutation of others. And though I may appear ridiculous
in venturing to advise you, I think that you may as well hear what
was said to me by a man of very considerable pretensions-he was a
professor of legal oratory-who came away from you while I was walking
up and down. "Crito," said he to me, "are you giving no attention
to these wise men?" "No, indeed," I said to him; "I could not get
within hearing of them-there was such a crowd." "You would have heard
something worth hearing if you had." "What was that?" I said. "You
would have heard the greatest masters of the art of rhetoric discoursing."
"And what did you think of them?" I said. "What did I think of them?"
he said:-"theirs was the sort of discourse which anybody might hear
from men who were playing the fool, and making much ado about nothing.
"That was the expression which he used. "Surely," I said, "philosophy
is a charming thing." "Charming!" he said; "what simplicity! philosophy
is nought; and I think that if you had been present you would have
been ashamed of your friend-his conduct was so very strange in placing
himself at the mercy of men who care not what they say, and fasten
upon every word. And these, as I was telling you, are supposed to
be the most eminent professors of their time. But the truth is, Crito,
that the study itself and the men themselves are utterly mean and
ridiculous." Now censure of the pursuit, Socrates, whether coming
from him or from others, appears to me to be undeserved; but as to
the impropriety of holding a public discussion with such men, there,
I confess that, in my opinion, he was in the right.
Soc. O Crito, they are marvellous men; but what was I going to say?
First of all let me know;-What manner of man was he who came up to
you and censured philosophy; was he an orator who himself practises
in the courts, or an instructor of orators, who makes the speeches
with which they do battle?
Cri. He was certainly not an orator, and I doubt whether he had ever
been into court; but they say that he knows the business, and is a
clever man, and composes wonderful speeches.
Soc. Now I understand, Crito; he is one of an amphibious class, whom
I was on the point of mentioning-one of those whom Prodicus describes
as on the border-ground between philosophers and statesmen-they think
that they are the wisest of all men, and that they are generally esteemed
the wisest; nothing but the rivalry of the philosophers stands in
their way; and they are of the opinion that if they can prove the
philosophers to be good for nothing, no one will dispute their title
to the palm of wisdom, for that they are themselves really the wisest,
although they are apt to be mauled by Euthydemus and his friends,
when they get hold of them in conversation. This opinion which they
entertain of their own wisdom is very natural; for they have a certain
amount of philosophy, and a certain amount of political wisdom; there
is reason in what they say, for they argue that they have just enough
of both, and so they keep out-of the way all risks and conflicts and
reap the fruits of their wisdom.
Cri. What do you say of them, Socrates? There is certainly something
specious in that notion of theirs.
Soc. Yes, Crito, there is more speciousness than truth; they cannot
be made to understand the nature of intermediates. For all persons
or things, which are intermediate between two other things, and participate
in both of them-if one of these two things is good and the other evil,
are better than the one and worse than the other; but if they are
in a mean between two good things which do not tend to the same end,
they fall short of either of their component elements in the attainment
of their ends. Only in the case when the two component elements which
do not tend to the same end are evil is the participant better than
either. Now, if philosophy and political action are both good, but
tend to different ends, and they participate in both, and are in a
mean between them, then they are talking nonsense, for they are worse
than either; or, if the one be good and the other evil, they are better
than the one and worse than the other; only on the supposition that
they are both evil could there be any truth in what they say. I do
not think that they will admit that their two pursuits are either
wholly or partly evil; but the truth is, that these philosopher-politicians
who aim at both fall short of both in the attainment of their respective
ends, and are really third, although they would like to stand first.
There is no need, however, to be angry at this ambition of theirs-which
may be forgiven; for every man ought to be loved who says and manfully
pursues and works out anything which is at all like wisdom: at the
same time we shall do well to see them as they really are.
Cri. I have often told you, Socrates, that I am in a constant difficulty
about my two sons. What am I to do with them? There is no hurry about
the younger one, who is only a child; but the other, Critobulus, is
getting on, and needs some one who will improve him. I cannot help
thinking, when I hear you talk, that there is a sort of madness in
many of our anxieties about our children:-in the first place, about
marrying a wife of good family to be the mother of them, and then
about heaping up money for them-and yet taking no care about their
education. But then again, when I contemplate any of those who pretend
to educate others, I am amazed. To me, if I am to confess the truth,
they all seem to be such outrageous beings: so that I do not know
how I can advise the youth to study philosophy.
Soc. Dear Crito, do you not know that in every profession the inferior
sort are numerous and good for nothing, and the good are few and beyond
all price: for example, are not gymnastic and rhetoric and money-making
and the art of the general, noble arts?
Cri. Certainly they are, in my judgment.
Soc. Well, and do you not see that in each of these arts the many
are ridiculous performers?
Cri. Yes, indeed, that is very true.
Soc. And will you on this account shun all these pursuits yourself
and refuse to allow them to your son?
Cri. That would not be reasonable, Socrates.
Soc. Do you then be reasonable, Crito, and do not mind whether the
teachers of philosophy are good or bad, but think only of philosophy
herself. Try and examine her well and truly, and if she be evil seek
to turn away all men from her, and not your sons only; but if she
be what I believe that she is, then follow her and serve her, you
and your house, as the saying is, and be of good cheer.
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