a good deal higher. Now he had a way of playing with my
hair, and then he smoothed my head, and pressed the hair
upon my neck, and said : To-morrow, Phsedo, I suppose that
these fair locks of yours will be severed. 31
Yes, Socrates, I suppose that they will, I replied.
Not so, if you will take my advice.
What shall I do with them ? I said.
To-day, he replied, and not to-morrow, if this argument
dies and cannot be brought to life again by us, you and I will
both shave our locks : and if I were you, and could not main-
tain my ground against Simmias and Cebes, I would myself
take an oath, like the Argives, not to wear hair any more until
I had renewed the conflict and defeated them. 32
Yes, I said, but Heracles himself is said not to be a match
for two. 33
31 As a token of mourning, according to the custom.
32 Argives (ar'jivz) : a branch of the Greek people inhabiting a small dis-
trict of Greece, south-west of Athens. Herodicus tells how once when the
Argives were defeated, and lost a city in war, they took an oath not to cut
their hair till their loss had been retrieved.
33 See Euthydemus, note 20. One of his labors was the destroying of the
Hydra, a monstrous water-snake. While fighting with this he was attacked
by a crab and was compelled to call on Iolaus (f'o-laus), his nephew, for help.
Hence the proverb — Heracles is not a match for two.
444 fcLATO THE TEACHER
Summon me then, he said, and I will be your Iolaus until
the sun goes down.
I summon you rather, I said, not as Heracles summoning
Iolaus, but as Iolaus might summon Heracles.
That will be all the same, he said. But first let us take
care that we avoid a danger.
And what is that? I said.
Thcdanger of becoming misologists, he replied, which is one
of the very worst things that can happen to us. For as there
are misanthropists or haters of men, there are also misologists
or haters of ideas, and both spring from the same cause, which
is ignorance of the world. Misanthropy arises from the too
great confidence of inexperience ; you trust a man and think
him altogether true and good and faithful, and then in a little
while he turns out to be false and knavish ; and then another
and another, and when this has happened several times to a
man, especially within the circle of his own most trusted
friends, as he deems them, and he has often quarreled with
them, he at last hates all men, and believes that no one has any
good in him at all. I dare say that you must have observed
Yes, I said.
And is not this discreditable? The reason is, that a man,
having to deal with other men, has no knowledge of them ;
for if he had knowledge, he would have known the true
state of the case, that few are the good and few the evil,
and that the great majority are in the interval between them.
How do you mean? I said.
I mean, he replied, as you might say of the very large and
very small, that nothing is more uncommon than a very large
or very small man ; and this applies generally to all extremes,
whether of great and small, or swift and slow, or fair and foul,
or black and white : and whether the instances you select be
men or dogs or anything else, few are the extremes, but many
are in the mean between them. Did you never observe this ?
Yes, I said, I have.
And do you not imagine, he said, that if there were a com-
petition of evil, the first in evil would be found to be very
Yes, that is very likely, I said.
Yes, that is very likely, he replied ; not that in this respect
arguments are like men — there I was led on by you to say
more than I had intended ; but the point of comparison was,
that when a simple man who has no skill in dialectics be-
lieves an argument to be true which he afterward imagines to
be false, whether really false or not, and then another and an-
other, he has no longer any faith left, and great disputers, as
you know, come to think at last that they have grown to be
the wisest of mankind ; for they alone perceive the utter un-
soundness and instability of all arguments, or indeed, of all
things, which, like the currents in the Euripus,* 1 are going
up and down in never-ceasing ebb and flow.
That is quite true, I said.
Yes, Phaedo, he replied, and very melancholy too, if there
be such a thing as truth or certainty or power of knowing at
all, that a man should have lighted upon some argument or
other which at first seemed true and then turned out to be
false, and instead of blaming himself and his own want of
wit, because he is annoyed, should at last be too glad to trans-
fer the blame from himself to arguments in general ; and for-
ever afterwards should hate and revile them, and lose the
truth and knowledge of existence.
Yes, indeed, I said ; that is very melancholy.
Let us then, in the first place, he said, be careful of ad-
mitting into our souls the notion that there is no truth or
health or soundness in any arguments at all ; but let us rather
say that there is as yet no health in us, and that we must quit
ourselves like men and do our best to gain health, — you and
all other men with a view to the whole of your future
life, and I myself with a view to death. For at this
moment I am sensible that I have not the temper of a philoso-
pher ; like the vulgar, I am only a partisan. For the partisan,
when he is engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about the
rights of the question, but is anxious only to convince his
hearers of his own assertions. And the difference between
him and me at the present moment is only this, — that where-
as he seeks to convince his hearers that what he says is true,
I am rather seeking to convince myself ; to convince my
hearers is a secondary matter with me. And do but see how
34 Euripus (u-ri'pus) : the narrow strait which separates Boeotia (be-
6'shl-a), a province of Greece, from the island Euboea (u-be'a), where the
ancients believed that the current changed seven times a day.
44^ PLATO THE TEACHER
much I gain by this. For if what I say is true, then I do
well to be persuaded of the truth, but if there be nothing
after death, still, during the short time that remains, I shall
save my friends from lamentations, and my ignorance will not
last, and therefore no harm will be done. This is the state of
mind, Simmias and Cebes, in which I approach the argu-
ment. And I would ask you to be thinking of the truth and
not of Socrates : agree with me, if I seem to you to be speak-
ing the truth ; or if not, withstand me might and main, that I
may not deceive you as well as myself in my enthusiasm, and
like the bee, leave my sting in you before I die.
And now let us proceed, he said.
[Socrates returns to the objection of Simmias which he an-
swers very easily. Harmony cannot exist prior to the instru-
ment with which it is made. We must first have the
p3 lyre and strings. Harmony follows last of all as an ef-
fect. Now does the soul follow as an effect of the
body? Has it not been proved that the soul existed before
birth, and that all our knowledge is but recollection of what
we experienced before the soul entered the body? Simmias
acknowledged that his theory of the soul as a harmony must
be rejected because it is inconsistent with the doctrine of
preexistence which to his mind has been proved beyond a
Again, Socrates says, while one harmony may be more or
less completely a harmony than another, one soul is no more
or no less a soul than another. That is, a harmony admits of
degrees, a soul does not, and therefore a soul is not a harmony.
Lastly, how can the soul be the harmony of the body when it
continually opposes and constrains the passions ? Harmony
is subject to the lyre, but the soul is leader and master of the
body — " a far diviner thing than any harmony."
Socrates turns next to discuss and answer the objection of
Cebes, which he says involves one of the most important ques-
tions of philosophy, namely, how things come into being and
perish, or the nature of generation and corruption. Here he
digresses to tell of his own experience when, as a young man,
he sought to know the causes of all things — why they are cre-
ated and why destroyed. His investigations and speculations
Jed him into many perplexities, so that he began to doubt
even the most commonplace facts. Then he heard of the
philosopher Anaxagoras, 35 who claimed that Mind was the
cause and disposer of all things. Socrates was greatly de-
lighted at this notion, and thought if mind were the disposer,
surely mind would dispose all for the best. He had great
hopes that the new teacher would satisfactorily explain to him
in detail all that he had been seeking- to understand and prove
how everything was for the best in nature and in man. He
What hopes I had formed, and how grievously was I disap-
pointed ! As I proceeded, I found my philosopher altogether
forsaking mind or any other principle of order, but having re-
course to air, and ether, and water, and other eccentricities. I
might compare him to a person who began by maintaining
generally that mind is the cause of the actions of Socrates, but
who, when he endeavored to explain the causes of my several
actions in detail, went on to show that I sit here because my
body is made up of bones and muscles j and the bones, as he
would say, are hard and have ligaments which divide them, and
the muscles are elastic, and they cover the bones, which have
also a covering or environment of flesh and skin which contains
them ; and as the bones are lifted at their joints by the con-
traction or relaxation of the muscles, I am able to bend my
limbs, and this is why I am sitting here in a curved posture :
that is what he would say, and he would have a similar expla-
nation of my talking to you„ which he would attribute to sound,
and air, and hearing, and he would assign ten thousand other
causes of the same sort, forgetting to mention the true
cause, which is, that the Athenians have thought fit to
condemn me, and accordingly I have thought it better and
more right to remain here and undergo my sentence j for I am
inclined to think that these muscles and bones of mine would
have gone off to Megara or Bceotia, 36 — by the dog of Egypt
they would, if they had been guided only by their own idea of
what was best, and if I had not chosen as the better and nobler
part, instead of playing truant and running away, to undergo
any punishment which the state inflicts. There is surely a
38 See Phaedrus, note 55.
89 Megara (meg'a-ra) : a town twenty miles west of Athens.
448 PLATO THE TEACHER
strange confusion of causes and conditions in all this. It may-
be said, indeed, that without bones and muscles and the other
parts of the body I cannot execute my purposes. But to say
that I do as I do because of them, and that this is the way in
which mind acts, and not from the choice of the best, is a very
careless and idle mode of speaking. I wonder that they can-
not distinguish the cause from the condition, which the many
feeling about in the dark, are always mistaking and misnaming.
And thus one man makes a vortex all round and steadies the
earth by the heaven ; another gives the air as a support to the
earth, which is a sort of broad trough. Any power which in
disposing them as they are disposes them for the best never
enters into their minds, nor do they imagine that there is any
superhuman strength in that ; they rather expect to find an-
other Atlas 37 of the world who is stronger and more everlast-
ing and more containing than the good is, and are clearly of
opinion that the obligatory and containing power of the good
is as nothing ; and yet this is the principle which I would fain
learn if any one would teach me. But as I have failed either
to discover myself, or to learn of any one else, the nature of
the best, I will exhibit to you, if you like, what I have found
to be the second best mode of inquiring into the cause.
[Failing in his endeavor to comprehend the world by means
of the senses, Socrates took refuge in the world of thought.
By reflection he arrived at a principle which he regarded
j^I as indisputable. Whatever agreed with this he assumed
to be true, whatever disagreed, false. He wishes now
to explain what he means by this principle although it is
nothing new. It is what he has always been repeating in
his doctrine of ideas. He believes that corresponding to
every class of material objects or qualities, there is a perfect
and eternal being which he calls an idea. These ideas exist
independently of the world of sense, apart from and above it.
They are the perfect types of which the things in this world
are imperfect copies. These perfect types are the causes of the
existence of their earthly copies. For example, there is an
37 Atlas: An ancient Greek divinity, who was supposed to support the
heavens on his shoulders. Socrates says that the philosophers referred to
expect to supplant the legendary Atlas by a physical principle. He be-
lieves that the true Atlas which supports all things is the Good.
absolute beauty, an absolute greatness, an absolute good, and
the like. Now a thing can be beautiful only by reason of its
participation in the absolute or perfect beauty, that is, the
idea of beauty. A thing is made good or great only by the
indwelling of the idea of goodness or greatness. Socrates now
applies his doctrine of ideas to the question of the soul's im-
mortality, as follows : Ideas which are opposite in character
never co-exist. They mutually exclude one another and never
pass over the one into the other. Moreover, things in which
a certain idea forever abides, will never admit the opposite of
that idea. For example, no odd number will ever admit the
idea of the even, because the ideas of the odd and the even are
essentially opposed. So the soul, whose inseparable attribute
is life, will never admit life's opposite, death. Thus the soul
is shown to be immortal, and since immortal, indestructible.]
But then, O my friends, he said, if the soul is really immor-
tal, what care should be taken of her, not only in respect of
the portion of time which is called life, but of eternity ! And
the danger of neglecting her from this point of view does in-
deed appear to be awful. 38 If death had only been the end of
all, the wicked would have had a good bargain in dying, for
they would have been happily quit not only of their body,
but of their own evil together with their souls. But now, as
the soul plainly appears to be immortal, there is no release or
salvation from evil except the attainment of the highest virt-
ue and wisdom. For the soul when on her progress to the
world below takes nothing with her but nurture and educa-
tion ; which are indeed said greatly to benefit or greatly to
injure the departed, at the very beginning of his pilgrimage in
the other world.
For after death, as they say, the genius of each individual,
to whom he belonged in life, leads him to a certain place in
which the dead are gathered together for judgment, whence ,
they go into the world below, following the guide, who is ap-
pointed to conduct them from this world to the other : and
when they have there received their due and remained their
38 " For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose
his own soul." — Matt. xvi. 26.
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of
persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness." — II. Peter
450 PLATO THE TEACHER
time, another guide brings them back again after many revo-
lutions of ages. Now this journey to the other world is not,
8 as ^Eschylus says in the Telephus, 39 a single and straight
path, — no guide would be wanted for that, and no one
could miss a single path ; but there are many partings of the
road, and windings, as I must infer from the rites and sacri-
fices which are offered to the gods below in places where three
ways meet on earth. 40 The wise and orderly soul is conscious
of her situation, and follows in the path j but the soul which
desires the body, and which, as I was relating before, has
long been fluttering about the lifeless frame and the world of
sight, is after many struggles and many sufferings hardly and
with violence carried away by her attendant genius, and when
she arrives at the place where the other souls are gathered, if
she be impure and have done impure deeds, or been concerned
in foul murders or other crimes which are the brothers of
these, and the works of brothers in crime, — from that soul
every one flees and turns away ; no one will be her compan-
ion, no one her guide, but alone she wanders in extremity of
evil until certain times are fulfilled, and when they are ful-
filled, she is borne irresistibly to her own fitting habitation ;
as every pure and just soul which has passed through life in
the company and under the guidance of the gods has also her
own proper home.
[Socrates gives a mythical description of the earth, the heav-
ens, and the interior of the earth with its seas and rivers. This
is followed by an account of how the dead are judged.
108- Those who have committed the greatest crimes are
4 hurled into Tartarus never to return. Those who have
lived neither well nor ill, are punished for their wrong deeds
and rewarded for the good. Those who have led holy lives,
especially those who have been purified by philosophy, live
forever in mansions fair beyond description.
Socrates continues thus :]
Wherefore, Simmias, seeing all these things, what ought not
we to do in order to obtain virtue and wisdom in this life ?
Fair is the prize, and the hope great.
30 Telephus (tel'e-fus) : a lost tragedy by ^Eschylus. See Rep., II., note 3.
40 It was customary to perform rites once a month in honor of certain
gods of the lower world. These ceremonies took place at road crossings.
PH^DO 45 1
I do not mean to affirm that the description which I have
given of the soul and her mansions is exactly true — a man of
sense ought hardly to say that. But I do say that, inasmuch as
the soul is shown to be immortal, he may venture to think, not
improperly or unworthily, that something of the kind is true.
The venture is a glorious one, and he ought to comfort himself
with words like these, which is the reason why I lengthen out
the tale. Wherefore, I say, let a man be of good cheer about
his soul, who has cast away the pleasures and ornaments of the
body as alien to him, and rather hurtful in their effects, and has
followed after the pleasures of knowledge in this life ; who has
adorned the soul in her own proper jewels, which are
temperance, and justice, and courage, and nobility, and
truth — in these arrayed she is ready to go on her journey to the
world below, when her time comes. You, Simmias and Cebes,
and all other men, will depart at some time or other. Me al-
ready, as the tragic poet would say, the voice of fate calls.
Soon I must drink the poison ; and I think that I had better
repair to the bath first, in order that the women may not have
the trouble of washing my body after I am dead.
When he had done speaking, Crito said : And have you any
commands for us, Socrates — anything to say about your chil-
dren, or any other matter in which we can serve you ?
Nothing particular, he said : only, as I have always told you,
I would have you to look to yourselves ; that is a service which
you may always be doing to me and mine as well as to your-
selves. And you need not make professions ; for if you take
no thought for yourselves, and walk not according to the pre-
cepts which I have given you, not now for the first time, the
warmth of your professions will be of no avail.
We will do our best, said Crito. But in what way would
you have us bury you ?
In any way that you like ; only you must get hold of me,
and take care that I do not walk away from you. Then he
turned to us, and added with a smile : I cannot make Crito
believe that I am the same Socrates who have been talking
and conducting the argument; he fancies that I am the
other Socrates whom he will soon see, a dead body — and he
asks, How shall he bury me ? And though I have spoken
many words in the endeavor to show that when I have drunk
the poison I shall leave you and go to the joys of the blessed,
452 PLATO THE TEACHER
— these words of mine, with which I comforted you and my-
self, have had, as I perceive, no effect upon Crito. And
therefore I want you to be surety for me now, as he was
surety for me at the trial : but let the promise be of another
sort ; for he was my surety to the judges that I would remain,
but you must be my surety to him that I shall not remain,
but go away and depart ; and then he will suffer less at my
death, and not be grieved when he sees my body being
burned or buried. I would not have him sorrow at my hard
lot, or say at the burial, Thus we lay out Socrates, or, Thus
we follow him to the grave or bury him ; for false words are
not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with
evil. Be of good cheer then, my dear Crito, and say that
6 you are burying my body only, and do with that as is
usual, and as you think best.
When he had spoken these words, he arose and went into
the bath-chamber with Crito, who bid us wait ; and we
waited, talking and thinking of the subject of discourse, and
also of the greatness of our sorrow ; he was like the father of
whom we were being bereaved, and we were about to pass
the rest of our lives as orphans. When he had taken the
bath his children were brought to him — (he had two young
sons and an elder one) ; and the women of his family also
came, and he talked to them and gave them a few directions
in the presence of Crito ; and he then dismissed them and
returned to us.
Now the hour of sunset was near, for a good deal of time
had passed while he was within. When he came out, he sat
down with us again after his bath, but not much was said.
Soon the jailer, who was the servant of the eleven, entered
and stood by him, saying : To you, Socrates, whom I know
to be the noblest and gentlest and best of all who ever came
to this place, I will not impute the angry feelings of other
men, who rage and swear at me when, in obedience to the
authorities, I bid them drink the poison — indeed I am sure
that you will not be angry with me ; for others, as you are
aware, and not I, are the guilty cause. And so fare you well,
and try to bear lightly what must needs be ; you know my
errand. Then bursting into tears he turned away and went
Socrates looked at him and said : I return your good wishes,
and will do as you bid. Then turning to us, he said, How
charming the man is : since I have been in prison he has al-
ways been coming to see me, and at times he would talk to
me, and was as good as could be to me, and now see how gen-
erously he sorrows for me. But we must do as he says, Crito ;
let the cup be brought, if the poison is prepared : if not, let
the attendant prepare some.
Yet, said Crito, the sun is still upon the hill-tops, and many
a one has taken the draught late, and after the announcement
has been made to him, he has eaten and drunk, and indulged
in sensual delights ; do not hasten then, there is still time.
Socrates said : Yes, Crito, and they of whom you speak are
right in doing thus, for they think that they will gain by the
delay ; but I am right in not doing thus, for I do not
think that I should gain anything by drinking the poison '
a little later ; I should be sparing and saving a life which is
already gone : I could only laugh at myself for this. Please
then to do as I say, and not to refuse me.
Crito, when he heard this, made a sign to the servant ; and
the servant went in, and remained for some time, and then
returned with the jailer carrying the cup of poison. Socrates
said : You, my good friend, who are experienced in these mat-
ters, shall give me directions how I am to proceed. The man
answered : You have only to walk about until your legs are
heavy, and then to lie down, and the poison will act. At the
same time he handed the cup to Socrates, who in the easiest and
gentlest manner, without the least fear or change of color or
feature, looking at the man with all his eyes, Echecrates, as his
manner was, took the cup and said : What do you say about
making a libation out of this cup to any god ? May I, or not ?
The man answered : We only prepare, Socrates, just so much
as we deem enough. I understand, he said : yet I may and
must pray to the gods to prosper my journey from this to that