session of all that he ought to possess ? For example, would
a carpenter be any the better for having all his tools and
plenty of wood, if he never worked ?
Certainly no, 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 them ?
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 having them.
Well, Cleinias, but if you have the use as well as the pos-
session 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 guides our practice
about them ?
Knowledge, he replied.
Then in every possession and every use of a thing, knowl-
edge is that which gives a man not only good fortune but
And tell me, I said, O tell me, what do possessions profit a
man, if he have neither 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 misera-
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 temper-
ate 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
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 guid-
ance 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 virtue, they are
greater goods : but in themselves they are nothing ?
48 PLATO THE TEACHER
That, he said, appears to be certain.
What then, I said, is the result of all this ? Is not this the
resu lt — that other things are indifferent, and that wisdom is
the only good, and ignorance the only evil ?
Let us consider this further point, I said : Seeing that all
men desire happiness, and happiness, as has been shown, is
8 gained by a use, and a right use, of the things of life,
2 2 and the right use of them, and good fortune in the use of
them, is given by knowledge, the inference is that every man
ought by all means to try and make himself as wise as he
Yes, he said.
And the desire to obtain this treasure, which is far more
precious 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 dishonorable, Cleinias ; nor is any one to be blamed for
doing any honorable service or ministration to any man,
whether a lover or not, if his aim is wisdom. Do you agree
to that, 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 that 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 that ;
and I am also grateful to you for having saved me from along
and tiresome speculation 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 that you in particular should be of this mind and try to
love her ?
Certainly, Socrates, he said ; and 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 desire you
to offer ; and I hope that one of you will set forth what I
have been saying in a more artistic style : at any rate take up
the inquiry where I left off, and next 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 at heart.
Thus I spoke, Crito, and was all attention to what was
coming. I wanted to see how they would approach the ques-
tion, and where they would start in their exhortation to ~
the young man that he should practice wisdom and 2 ■
virtue. Dionysodorus the elder spoke first. Everybody's
eyes were directed toward 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 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 j and I shall never deny my words.
Well, said he, and so you say that you wish Cleinias to be-
come wise ?
And he is not wise 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 ig-
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 favorite not to be, or to perish !
50 PLATO THE TEACHER
When Ctesippus heard this he got very angry (as a lover
might) and said : Strangers of Thurii — if politeness would
allow me I should say, You be hanged. What can make you
tell such a lie about me and the others, which I hardly like to
repeat, as that I wish Cleinias to perish ?
Euthydemus replied : And do you think, Ctesippus, that it
is possible to tell a lie?
Yes, said Ctesippus ; I should be mad to deny that.
R And in telling a lie, do you tell the thing of which
4 you speak or not ?
You tell the thing of which you speak.
And he who tells, tells that thing which he tells, and no
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 there-
fore 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 is not.
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 no-
I think not, said Ctesippus.
Well, but do rhetoricians, when they speak in the assembly
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 that, he
would be doing nothing ; and you have already acknowledged
that no one can do what is not. And therefore, upon your
EUTHYDEMUS 5 1
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 they are ?
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 don't 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 Euthy-
demus, and warm things of the warm ?
Yes, indeed, said Ctesippus ; and they speak coldly of the
insipid and cold dialectician.
You are abusive, Ctesippus, 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 R
persuade you not to make so uncivil a speech to me as
that I desire my beloved, whom I value above all men, to
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 put a good one in his place — 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 your-
52 PLATO THE TEACHER
selves with them, then let the experiment be made on the body
of an old man. I will be the Carian 15 on whom they shall
operate. And here I offer my old person to Dionysodorus ;
he may put me into the pot, like Medea 16 the Colchian, kill
me, pickle me, eat me, if he will make me good.
Ctesippus said : And I, Socrates, am ready to commit myself
to the stranger ; 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, 17 into a leathern bottle,
but into a piece of virtue. And here is Dionysodorus fancying
that I am angry with him, when I am really not angry at all ;
I do but contradict him when he seems to me to be in the
wrong : 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, he said : then now you may hear Ctesippus contra-
dicting Dionysodorus. Are you prepared to make that good ?
Certainly, he said.
Well, then, are not words expressive of things ?
Of their existence or of their non existence ?
Of their existence. For, as you may remember, Ctesippus,
8 . we just now proved that no man could affirm a nega-
tive ; for no one could affirm that which is not.
And what does that signify, said Ctesippus ; you and I may
contradict all the same for that.
15 Caria (ka'ri-a) : a district of Asia Minor whose inhabitants the Greeks re-
garded as despicable and stupid. Many of the Greek slaves were Carians.
k ' In later times the Carians hired themselves out as mercenaries ; as such
they were used in forlorn hopes, so as to spare the lives of citizen-soldiers ;
whence the proverb, — to make the risk not With one's own person but with a
Carian." L. and S.
16 Medea (me-de'a) the Colchian : a mythical princess and sorceress of
Colchis (kSl'kis) in Asia, said to have the power to make the old young by
means of a magic liquid which she prepared.
17 Marsyas (mar's^-as) : a minor divinity who found the flute discarded by
the goddess Athene and who became so skilful with it that he challenged
Apollo, patron god of the lyre, to a contest. The Muses decided in favor
of Apollo, who then flayed Marsyas alive.
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 ?
Be admitted that.
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 also.
Bnt 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 main-
tained and employed by the disciples of Protagoras, 18 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 of this from you. The dictum
is that there is no such thing as falsehood j 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 mis-
take of facts ?
Certainly, he said.
And that is impossible?
Impossible, he replied.
Are you saying this as a paradox, Dionysodorus ; or do you
seriously maintain that no man is ignorant ?
Do you refute me ? he said.
But how can I refute you, if, as you say, falsehood is im-
Very true, said Euthydemus.
Neither did I tell you just now to refute me, said Dionyso-
dorus j for how can I tell you to do that which is not ?
18 Protagoras (pro-tag'o-ras) : a celebrated Sophist. See the dialogue Pro-
$4 PLATO THE TEACHER
Euthydemus, I said, I have but a dull conception of these
subtleties and excellent devices of wisdom j I am afraid that I
hardly understand them, and you must forgive me therefore if
8 I ask a very stupid question : if there be no falsehood or
7 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 could learn?
And are you such an old fool, Socrates, rejoined Dionyso-
dorus, 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 — but are nonplussed at the words I have just uttered ?
Why, I said, they are not easy to answer ; for they are the
words of wise men : and indeed I have a great difficulty in
knowing what you mean in that last expression of yours, " That
I am nonplussed at them." What do you mean by that,
Dionysodorus ? You must mean that I have no refutation of
them. Tell me if the words have any other sense.
No, he said ; the sense or meaning of them is that there is a
difficulty in answering them ; and I wish that you would 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 won't open your mouth at all, be-
cause 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.
1 suppose that I must obey, for you are master. Put the
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,
and you do not refute me, all your wisdom will be nonplussed;
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, how- 288 "
ever, Dionysodorus and Euthydemus, that this argument 3 ° 2
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.
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 endeavored to
soothe Ctesippus, and said to him : To you, Ctesippus, I
must repeat what I said before to Cleinias — that you don't
understand the peculiarity of these philosophers. They are
not serious, but, like the Egyptian wizard, Proteus, 19 they
take different forms and deceive us by their enchantments ;
and let us, like Menelaus, refuse to let them go until they
show us their real form and character. When they are in
earnest their full beauty will appear : let us then beg and en-
treat and beseech them to shine forth. And I think that I
had better show them once more the form in which I pray to
[Socrates gives another example of his method, but the
conversation again returns to the level of the two sophists.
Several pages of this quibbling are omitted. Their last
masterpiece was a proof that all things which have life are
animals, that the gods have life and so are animals, that the
gods are your gods, and so you may sell them as you do
19 Proteus (pro'teus) : a minor sea divinity who lived on an island off the
coast of Egypt. He possessed prophetic power but was reluctant to exercise
the gift and, to avoid doing so, would assume all kinds of shapes. If the one
consulting him caught and held him fast through all these changes he re-
turned to his own form and told the truth. Menelaus, the legendary king of
Sparta, in this way once forced Proteus to prophesy.
56 PLATO THE TEACHER
At this I was quite struck dumb, Crito, and lay pros-
trate. Ctesippus came to the rescue.
Bravo, Heracles, 20 brave words, said he.
Bravo Heracles, or is Heracles a bravo ? said Dionyso-
Poseidon, 21 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 clap-
ping of hands and rejoicings the two men were quite overpow-
ered ; for hitherto only their partisans had cheered at each
successive hit, but now the whole company shouted with de-
light until the columns of the Lyceum returned the sound,
seeming almost to sympathize in their joy. To such a pitch
was I affected myself, that I made a speech, in which I ac-
knowledged 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, — which is not
the opinion of those who are like-minded with you. And I
do verily believe that there are few who are like you, and
would approve of your 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 stopped,
not excepting your own, which graciously follows the exam-
ple of others; and thus all ground of offense is taken away.
But what appears to me to be more than all is, that this art
and invention of yours is so admirably contrived, that in a
very short time it can be imparted to any one. I observe that
20 Heracles (her'a-klez) or Hercules (her'ku-lez) : one of the oldest and most
famous heroes in Greek mythology ; by his gigantic strength he accom-
plished many wonderful labors.
21 Poseidon (po-sT'don) : god of the sea, and of flowing waters, correspond
ing to the Roman Neptune.
Ctesippus learned to imitate you in no time. Now this quick-
ness of attainment is an excellent thing; but at the same time
I would advise you not to have any more public enter-
tainments ; there is a danger that men may undervalue 3 ° 4
an art which they have so easy an opportunity of learning ;
the exhibition would be best of all, if the discussion were con-
fined 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 22 says, is the best of all things, is also the
cheapest. And now I have only to request that you will re-
ceive 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, however old or
stupid. And one thing which they said I must repeat for your
especial benefit, — that not even the business of making money
need hinder any man from taking in their wisdom with ease.
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 pro-
fessor of legal oratory — who came away from you while I was
walking up and down. " Crito," said he to me, "are you
attending 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; " what any one would think of them
who heard them talking nonsense, and making much ado about