power of the truth. Their art is word trickery ; the art of
Socrates is step-by-step approach to the truth. Their pur-
pose is to get the boy's money ; Socrates will take no money,
but wants to save the boy's life. In spite of these differences,
34 PLATO THE TEACHER
Grote is doubtless right in saying that if you had asked an
Athenian citizen of that time to name one or two Sophists,
he would probably have replied, Socrates and Plato, so hard
it is to make the public discriminate.
There is a deep pathos in Crito's bewilderment about what
to do with his sons. Shall he bring them up as money-
makers, ignorant of divine philosophy? Shall he commit
them to some of the teachers of the new learning ? What
shall he do with them ? The philosophy of Socrates is there
face to face with a real question, not to be evaded. Socrates
did not hesitate to reply.
"inncTTc W ww
PERSONS OR THE
Scene: — The Lyceum. 3
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 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
Cri. The one who 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, 3 but he is much forwarder and very
good-looking : the other is thin and looks younger than he is.
1 Crito: see Apology, note 35 ; Euthydemus (u'thy-de'mus) and Dionyso-
dorus (dl'o-nys'-o-do'rus) : probably merely dramatic characters. '* That
they correspond to any actual persons at Athens, is neither proved nor prob-
able." Grote's Plato I., p. 536. Ctesippus (te-sfp'pus) : the principal knowl-
edge we have of this young man is gained from this dialogue. He was pres-
ent at the death of Socrates, Phaedos9. Cleinias (klP nf-as), son of Axiochus
(ax-I'o-kus), not mentioned elsewhere in Plato.
2 An enclosure dedicated to Apollo just east of Athens, outside the gate.
It was decorated with fountains, buildings, and covered walks. It became
the largest of the three great gymnasia of ancient Athens. It was frequented
by philosophers and others as a place for retirement and study.
3 See Apology 33.
36 PLATO THE TEACHER
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, 4
they were driven out of Thurii, and have been living for many
years past in this region. As to their wisdom, about which
you ask, Crito, they are wonderful — consummate! I never
knew what the true pancratiast 5 was before; they are simply
made up of fighting, not like the two Acarnanian brothers 6 who
fight with their bodies only, but this pair are perfect in the use
of their bodies and have a universal mode of fighting (for they
are capital at fighting in armor, and will teach the art to
any one who pays them) : and also they are masters of
legal fence, and are ready to do battle in the courts; they will
give lessons in speaking and pleading, and in writing speeches.
And this was only the beginning of their wisdom, but they have
at last carried out the pancrastiastic art to the very end, and
have mastered the only mode of fighting which had been hither-
to neglected by them; and now no one dares look at 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 putting 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 that.
Soc. Certainly not, Crito; as I will prove to you, for I have
the consolation of knowing that they began this art of disputa-
tion 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
* Chios (ki'os) : An island in the Mgean, off the coast of Lydia, colonized
Thurii (thu' ri-i) : a Greek city in southern Italy.
6 Pancratiast (from pan, all, and kratos, strength) : strictly, one who took
part in the pancratium (pan-kra'shi-um), an athletic contest which combined
boxing and wrestling.
« Acarnania (ac'ar-na'ni-a) : a district on the western coast of Greece whose
inhabitants were rude and less civilized than the rest of the Greeks. They
were skilled in the use of the sling. The brothers mentioned do not seem to
have been widely known.
only apprehensive that I may bring the two strangers into dis-
repute, as I have done Connus the son of Metrobius, 7 the harp-
player, who is still my music-master; for when the boys who
also go to him see me going, they laugh at me and call him
grandpapa's master. Now I should not like the strangers to
experience this sort of treatment, and perhaps they may be
afraid and not like to receive me because of this; and therefore,
Crito, I shall try and persuade some old men to go along with
me to them, as I persuaded them to go 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, and will be will-
ing to receive us as pupils for the sake of them.
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. I will tell you at once ; for I cannot say that I did not
attend: the fact was that I paid great attention to them, and
I remember and will endeavor to tell you the whole story. I
was providentially sitting alone in the dressing-room of the
Lyceum in which you saw me, and was about to depart, when
as I was getting up I recognized the familiar divine sign : 8 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 space; 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, 9 one of whom was Ctesippus the Paeanian, 10 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:
These two men, Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, Cleinias, are
7 Connus (kon'nus) ; Metrobius (me-tro'bf-us).
8 See Apology, 31 and 40.
9 See Phaedrus, note 9. 10 Pceania (pe-a'ni-a) : -a deme of Attica.
38 PLATO THE TEACHER
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 armor : and they know about the law too, and can
teach a man how to use the weapons of the courts when he is
They heard me say this, and I was despised by them ; they
looked at one another, and both of them laughed; and then
Euthydemus said : Those, Socrates, are matters which we no
longer pursue seriously; they are secondary occupations to us.
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 accomplish-
ment was the art of fighting in armor; and this was what I
used to say of you, for I remember that this was professed by
you 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 for-
mer expressions. But are you quite sure about this,
Dionysodorus and Euthydemus ? the promise is so vast,
that a feeling of incredulity will creep in.
You may take our word, Socrates, for the fact.
Then I think you happier in having such a treasure than
the great king 11 is in the possession of his kingdom. And
please to tell me whether you intend to exhibit this wisdom,
or what you will do.
That is why we are come hither, Socrates ; and our pur-
pose 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 per-
son 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 dis-
tance from Cleinias ; and when Euthydemus leaned forward
11 King of Persia.
in talking with me, he was prevented from seeing Cleinias,
who was between us j and so, partly because he wanted tc&^.v^
look at his love, and also because he was interested, he jumped/ "
up and stood opposite to us : and all the other admirers ofa^-i
Cleinias, as well as the disciples ot Euthydemus and Dionyso-k^ ""*
dorus, followed his example. And these were the personsiJ^>U-
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 favor to exhibit. There may be some trouble
in giving the whole exhibition ; but tell me one thing, — can
yo 1 make a good man only of him who is convinced that he
ought to learn of you, or of him also who is not convinced?
either because he imagines that virtue is not a thing which
can be taught at all, or that you two are not the teachers
of it. Say whether your art is able to persuade such a one
nevertheless that virtue can be taught ; and that you are the
men from whom he will be most likely to learn.
This is the art, Socrates, said Dionysodorus, and no other.
And you, Dionysodorus, I said, are the men who among
those who are now living are the most likely to stimulate him
to philosophy and 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 favor on me and on every one present ; for the fact
is that I and all of us are extremely anxious that he should
be 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 nat-
ural ly 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 lofty and at the same time cheerful
40 PLATO THE TEACHER
tone, replied : There can be no objection, Socrates, if the
young man is only willing to answer questions.
He is quite accustomed to that, I replied; for his friends
often come and ask him questions and argue with him ; so
that he is 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 in-
vocation to Memory and the Muses. 12 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 : Don't be afraid, Cleinias, but answer
like a man whichever you think ; for my belief is that you
will derive the greatest good from their questions.
Whichever he answers, said Dionysodorus, leaning forward
in my ear and laughing, I prophesy that he will be refuted,
While he was speaking to me, Cleinias gave his answer:
the consequence was that 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 those whom you call
teachers, are there not ?
The boy assented.
And they are the teachers of those who learn, — the gram-
mar-master and the lyre-master used to teach you and other
boys ; and you were the learners ?
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, irideed, he said.
But if you were not wise you were unlearned ?
You then, learning what you did not know, were unlearned
when you were learning?
12 Originally, nymphs of springs whose waters were thought to inspire
song ; then goddesses of song, music, poetry, the drama and all fine arts.
The youth nodded assent.
Then the unlearned learn, and not the wise, Cleinias, as
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 well time to re-
cover, Dionysodorus took him in hand, and said : Yes,
Cleinias ; and when the grammar-master dictated to you,
were they the wise boys or the unlearned who learned the
The wise, replied Cleinias.
Then after all the wise are the learners and not the un-
learned ; and your last answer to Euthydemus was wrong.
Then followed another peal of laughter and shouting, which
came from the admirers of the two heroes, who were ravished
with their wisdom, while the rest of us were silent and
amazed. Euthydemus perceiving 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?
Dionysodorus said to me in a whisper : 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, — inevi-
I see the reason, I said, why you are in such reputation
among your disciples.
Meanwhile Cleinias had answered Euthydemus that those
who learned, learn what they do not know ; and he put him
through a series of questions as before.
Don't you know letters?
All letters ?
But when the teacher dictates to you, does he not dictate
He admitted that.
Then if you know all letters, he dictates that which you
He admitted that also.
42 PLATO THE TEACHER
Then, said the other, you do not learn that which he dic-
tates ; 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
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 who know.
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 rest, and also in order that he might not
get out of heart, 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 they are do-
ing with you; they are only initiating you after the manner
of the Cory ban tes 15 in the mysteries 14 ; and this answers to
13 The Corybantes (kor-y-ban'tez) were priests of a Phrygian goddess Cyb-
ele (syb'e-le), whose worship was introduced into Greece among the lower
ranks of people. Her fe*tivals were celebrated with wild music and dancing,
in the frenzy of which the worshippers wounded themselves and one another.
J4 Secret religious ceremonies, employed in the worship of certain gods
and goddesses (one of them Cybele) in which only those who had been ini
tiated could take part.
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; and at this stage you must
imagine yourself to have gone through the first part of the so-
phistical ritual, which, as Prodicus says, begins with initiation
into the correct use of terms. The two strange gentlemen
wanted to explain to you, as you do not know, 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 same matter
done or spoken by the light of this knowledge ; this last is
generally called "knowing" rather than " learning " ; but
the word " learning " is also used, and you did not see that
the word is used of two opposite sorts of men, of those who
know, and of those who do not know, as they explained.
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 these gentlemen are not serious, but onl
in fun with you. And if a man had all that sort of knowl
edge that ever was, he would not be at all the wiser ; he would;
only be able to play with men, tripping them up and overset
ting them with distinctions of words. He would be like
person who pulls away a stool from some one when he is abou
to sit down, and then laughs and claps his hands at the sight
of his friend sprawling on the ground. And you must regard
all that has passed hitherto as merely play. But now I am
certain that they will proceed to business, 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 of play with you first. And
now, Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, I said, I think that we
have had enough of this. Will you let me see you exhibiting
to the young man, and showing him how he is to apply him-
self 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 I
desire to hear \ and if I do this in a very inartistic and ri-
diculous manner, do not laugh at me, for I only venture to
improvise before you because I am eager to hear your wisdom :
44 PLATO THE TEACHER
and I must therefore ask you to keep your countenances, and
your disciples also. . 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 sen-
sible man : for what human being is there who does not de-
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 per-
haps, 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
Now, can there be any doubt that good birth, and power,
and honors in one's own land, are goods?
And what other goods are there ? I said. What do you
say of justice, temperance, 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 in what 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 con-
I do not think that we have, said Cleinias.
Upon recollection, 1 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 Ax-
iochus, have you and I escaped making a laughing-stock of
ourselves to the strangers.
Why do you say that ?
Why, because we have already spoken of fortune, and are
but repeating ourselves.
What do you mean ?
I mean that there is something ridiculous in putting fortune
again forward, 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
this, I said to him : Do you not know, Cleinias, that flute-
players are most fortunate and successful in performing on the
And are not the scribes most fortunate in writing and read-
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 com-
panion in a dangerous illness — a wise physician, or an igno-
rant one ?
A wise one.
You think, I said, that to act with a wise man is more fort-
unate 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. At ~
last we somehow contrived to agree in a general conclu-
sion, that he who had wisdom had no longer 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
46 PLATO THE TEACHER
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 better for the pos-