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not rely upon management or trickery, but upon our own
hearts and hands. And in the matter of education,
whereas they are always from early youth undergoing
laborious exercises which are to make them brave, we live
at ease, and yet are equally ready to face the perils which
they face. And here is the proof. The Lacedaemonians
come into Attica not by themselves, but with their whole
confederacy following; we go alone into a neighbor's
country; and although our opponents are fighting for their
homes, and we on a foreign soil, we have seldom any
difficulty in overcoming them. Our enemies have never
yet felt our united strength; the care of a navy divides
our attention, and on land we are obliged to send our
own citizens everywhere. But they, if they meet and
defeat a part of our army, are as proud as if they had
routed us all, and when defeated they pretend to have
been vanquished by us all.

'*If then we prefer to meet danger with a light heart
but without laborious training, and with a courage which
is gained by habit and not enforced by law, are we not
greatly the gainers? Since we do not anticipate the pain,
although, when the hour comes, we can be as brave as
those who never allow themselves to rest; and thus too
our city is equally admirable in peace and in war. For
we are lovers of the beautiful, yet simple in our tastes,
and we cultivate the mind without loss of manliness.
Wealth we employ, not for talk and ostentation, but when
there is a real use for it. To avow poverty with us is no
disgrace; the true disgrace is in doing nothing to avoid it.
The Athenian citizen does not neglect the state because

Thucydides 217

he takes care of his own household; and even those of us
who are engaged in business have a very fair idea of poli-
tics. We alone regard a man who takes no interest in
public affairs, not as harmless, but as a useless character;
and if few of us are originators, we are all sound judges
of policy. The great impediment to action is, in our
opinion, not discussion, but the want of that knowledge
which is gained by discussion preparatory to action. For
we have a peculiar power of thinking before we act and of
acting too, whereas other men are courageous from ignor-
ance, but hesitate upon reflection. And they are surely
to be esteemed the bravest spirits who, having the clearest
sense of both pains and pleasures of life, do not on that
account shrink from danger. In doing good, again, we
are unlike others; we make our friends by conferring, not
by receiving favors. Now he who confers a favor is a
firmer friend, because he would fain by kindness keep
alive the memory of the obligation; but the recipient is
colder in his feelings, because he knows that in requiting
another's generosity he will not be winning gratitude, but
only paying a debt. We alone do good to our neighbors,
not on a calculation of interest, but in the confidence of
freedom, and in a frank and fearless spirit.

*'To sum up, I say that Athens is the school of Hellas,
and that the individual Athenian in his own person seems
to have the power of adapting himself to the most varied
forms of action with the utmost versatility and grace.
This is no passing and idle word, but truth and fact; and
the assertion is verified by the position to which these
qualities have raised the state. For in the hour of trial
Athens alone among her contemporaries is superior to the
report of her. No enemy who comes against her is indig-
nant at the reverses which he sustains at the hands of such
a city; no subject complains that his masters are unworthy
of him. And we assuredly shall not be without witnesses;
there are mighty monuments of our power which shall
make us the wonder of this and succeeding ages; we shall
not need the praise of Homer nor of any other panegyrist

21 8 Ideals in Greek Literature

whose poetry may please for the moment, although his
representation of the facts will not bear the light of day.
For we have compelled every land and every sea to open
a path for our valor, and have everywhere planted eternal
memorials of our friendship and of our enmity. Such is
the city for whose sake these men nobly fought and died;
they could not bear the thought that she might be taken
from them; and every one of us who survive should gladly
toil in her behalf.

*'I have dwelt upon the greatness of Athens because I
want to show you that we are contending for a higher
prize than those who enjoy none of these privileges, and
to establish by manifest proof the merit of these men
whom I am now commemorating. A death such as theirs
has been gives the true measure of a man's worth; it may
be the first revelation of his virtues, but at any rate it is
their final seal. Even those who come short in other
ways may justly plead the valor with which they have
fought for their country. On the battle-field their feet
stood fast, and in an instant, at the height of their for-
tune, they passed away from the scene, not of their fear,
but of their glory.

''Wherefore I do not now commiserate the parents of
the dead who stand here; I would rather comfort them.
You know that your hfe has been passed amid manifold
vicissitudes; and that they may be deemed fortunate who
have gained most honor, whether in an honorable death
like theirs, or in an honorable sorrow like yours, and
whose days have been so ordered that the term of their
happiness is also the term of their life. I know how hard
it is to make you feel this, when the good fortune of
others will too often remind you of the gladness which
once lightened your hearts. And sorrow is felt at the
want of those blessings, not which a man never knew,
but which were a part of his life before they were taken
from him. Some of you are at an age where they may
hope to have other children, and they ought to bear their
sorrow better; not only will the children who may here-

Thucydides 2 1 9

after be bom make them forget their own lost ones, but
the city will be doubly a gainer. She will not be left
desolate, and she will be safer. For a man's counsel can-
not have equal weight or worth, when he alone has no
children to risk in the general danger. To those of you
who have passed their prime I say: 'Congratulate your-
selves that you have been happy the greater part of your
days ; remember that your life of sorrow will not last long,
and be comforted by the glory of those who are gone.
For the love of honor alone is always young, and not
riches, as some say, but honor is the delight of men when
they are old and useless.*

**To you who are the sons and brothers of the departed,
I see that the struggle to emulate them will be an arduous
one. For all men praise the dead, and however preemi-
nent your virtue may be, hardly will you be thought, I
dare not say to equal, but even to approach them. The
living have their rivals and detractors, but when a man is
out of the way, the honor and good will which he receives
is unalloyed. And if I am to speak of womanly virtues
to those of you who will henceforth be widows, let me
sum them up in one short admonition. To a woman not
to show more weakness than is natural to her sex is great
glory, and not to be talked about, for good or evil, among

*'I have paid the required tribute, in obedience to the
law, making use of such fitting words as I had. The
tribute of deeds has been paid in part, for the dead have
been honorably interred, and it remains only that the chil-
dren should be maintained at the public charge until they
are grown up; this is the soHd prize with which, as with
a garland, Athens crowns her sons living and dead, after a
struggle like theirs. For where the rewards of virtue are
the greatest, there the noblest citizens are enlisted in the
service of the state. And now, when you have duly
lamented every one his own dead, you may depart."

220 Ideals in Greek Literature


The translation of Thucydides by Dr. Jowett is very graceful
and readable, giving hardly a hint of the ruggedness and com-
plexity of the Greek sentences. The British edition of this work
contains copious notes and valuable essays. The translation by
Dale in the Bohn Classical Library, follows the original much
more closely. In Grote's great history the chapters on the Pelo-
ponnesian war are largely free translation of Thucydides, who is
indeed on most points the sole or original authority for that
period. The enthusiastic remarks on Thucydides by a fellow-
historian, Lord Macaulay, in his "Letters," are worthy of



An Apostle of Righteousness.

The most familiar, the homeHest, the most heroic of
Greek figures, Socrates still eludes our eager gaze. He
left no written word of his own. Some of his external
traits we have glimpsed at, through the eyes of hostile
criticism, or at least of unscrupulous ridicule. Xenophon
has left a volume of ** Recollections,*' apparently faithful
reports of oral discussions by one who did not adequately
grasp their higher purpose. In Plato, on the other hand,
the real Socrates is freely idealized, and is even made to
discourse, with learning and eloquence, on the very sub-
jects which Xenophon tells us he conscientiously avoided
— as, theology, the origin of the universe, etc. Yet,
upon the whole, it is this Platonic Socrates that has im-
pressed itself upon the imagination of mankind. That it
is at least based upon vivid and loving memories of the
master cannot be doubted. The dialectic skill, the merci-
less probing of pretence and ignorance, the genial humor
and homely illustration, are equally clear in Plato and
Xenophon. Many a page of the former may be as faith-
ful a transcript from a real conversation as any in the
latter. To take one of the simplest of all, in the Platonic
''Lysis'* Socrates discourses thus with a beautiful boy in
the gymnasium: —


222 Ideals in Greek Literature

Lysis, I suppose your father and mother love you very

Very dearly.

They would wish you, then, to be as happy as possible.

Of course.

Do you think a man happy if he is a slave, and cannot
do what he wants?

No, that indeed I don't.

Well, if your father and mother love you, and wish
you to become happy, it is clear that they try in every
way to make you happy.

To be sure they do.

They allow you then, I suppose to do what you wish,
and never scold you, or hinder you from doing what you
want to do.

Yes, but they do though, Socrates, and pretty fre-
quently too.

How? They wish you to be happy, and yet hinder
you from doing what you want ! But tell me this : if you
wanted to ride on one of your father's chariots, and take
the reins during a race, would they not allow you?

The Platonic Socrates 223

No, most assuredly they would not.

Whom would they then?

There is a charioteer paid by my father.


Paid! Do they allow a paid servant in preference to
you to do what he pleases with the horses, and what is
more, give him money for so doing?

No doubt about it, Socrates.


Well, but your pair of mules I am sure they let you
drive, and even if you wished to take the whip, and whip
them, I am sure they would allow you.


Allow me, would they?


Would they not? Is there no one allowed to whip

Of course there is; the mule driver.

Is he a slave or free?

A slave

224 Ideals in Greek Literature

A slave then, it appears, they think of more account
than you, their son, and they allow him to do what he
pleases, while you they hinder. But come now, when you
go home to your mother, she, I am sure, lets you do what
you please — that you may be as happy as she can make
you — either with her wool or her loom, when she is spin-
ning. It cannot be possible that she hinders you from
touching her shuttle or her comb, or any other of her
spinning implements.

Lysis (Laughing.)
I can assure you, Socrates, she not only hinders me,
but would get me a good beating if I did touch them.

Beating! You haven't done your father or mother
any wrong have you.?

Not L

Whatever is the reason, then, that they hinder you in
this shocking manner from being happy, and doing what
you like; and keep you all the day long in bondage to
some one or other, — and, in a word, doing hardly any-
thing at all you want to do? So that it seems you get no
good whatever from your fortune, large as it is, but all
have control over it rather than you; nor again from that
beautiful person of yours; for it too is under the care and
charge of other people, while you, poor Lysis, have con-
trol over nothing at all, nor do a single thing which you

In Xenophon this chat would close at some such point
as this, leaving the sting of dissatisfaction in the youth's
mind until he craves the master's probe again. In Plato

The Platonic Socrates 225

it is but an introduction to a labored though indecisive
discussion on the origin and definition of Love or Affec-

The chief account of Socrates' call to his life- mission,
and of the spirit in which he followed it, is found in the
"Apology," or defense before his judges. This is strictly
a dialogue, like all Plato's works, because at one point
the accuser, in accordance with Athenian law, has to
answer such questions as Socrates puts to him. In the
main, however, the ** Apology" is an unbroken and elo-
quent appeal : rather to the judgment of aftertime than to
the actual jury.

The Apology

I have to defend myself, Athenians, first against the
old false charges of my old accusers, and then against the
later ones of my present accusers. For many men have
been accusing me to you, and for very many years, who
have not uttered a word of truth; they got hold of most
of you when you were children, and they have been most
persistent in accusing me with lies, and in trying to per-
suade you that there is one Socrates, a wise man, who
speculates about the heavens, and who examines into all
things that are below the earth, and who can *'Make the
worse appear the better reason." And the most un-
reasonable thing of all is that commonly I do not even
know their names ; I cannot tell you who they are, except
in the case of the comic poets.

Let us begin again, then, and see what is the charge
which has given rise to the prejudice against me, which is
what Meletus relied on when he drew his indictment.
What is the calumny which my enemies have been spread-
ing against me. I must assume that they are formally
accusing me, and read their indictment. It would run
somewhat in this fashion. ** Socrates is an evil-doer, who
meddles with inquiries into things beneath the earth, and

226 Ideals in Greek Literature

in heaven, and who 'makes the worse appear the better
reason/ and who teaches others these same things."
That is what they say; and in the comedy of Aristophanes
you 'yourselves saw a man called Socrates swinging
around in a basket, and saying that he walked the air, and
talking a great deal of nonsense about matters of which
I understand nothing, either more or less.

Perhaps some of you may reply: *'But Socrates, what
is this pursuit of yours? Whence come these calumnies
against you? You must have been engaged in some pur-
suit out of the common. All these stories and reports of
you would never have gone about if you had not been in
some way different from other men. So tell us what
your pursuits are that we may not give our verdict in the

I think that that is a fair question, and I will try to
explain to you what it is that has raised these calumnies
against me, and given me this name. Listen, then; some
of you will think that I am jesting; but I assure you that
I will tell you the whole truth. I have gained this name,
Athenians, simply by reason of a certain wisdom. Do
not interrupt me, Athenians, even if you think that I am
speaking arrogantly. What I am going to say is not my
own; I will tell you who says it, and he is worthy your
credit. I will bring the god of Delphi to be the witness
of the fact of my wisdom, and of its nature.

You remember Chaerephon. From youth upwards he
was my comrade. You remember too Chaerephon 's char-
acter; how vehement he was in carrying through whatever
he took in hand. Once he went to Delphi and ventured
to put this question to the oracle, — I entreat you again,
my friends, not to cry out, — he asked if there was any
man who was wiser than I, and the priestess answered
that there was no man.

When I heard of the oracle, I began to reflect : '* What
can the god mean by this dark saying? I know very well
that I am not wise, even in the smallest degree. Then
what can he mean by saying that I am the wisest of men?

The Platonic Socrates 2127

It cannot be that he is speaking falsely, for he is a god
and cannot lie." And for a long time I was at a loss to
understand his meaning; then, very reluctantly, I turned
to seek for it in this manner. I went to a man who was
reputed to be wise, thinking that there, if anywhere, I
should prove the answer wrong, and meaning to point out
to the oracle its mistake, and to say, **you said that I was
the wisest of men, but this man is wiser than I." So I
examined this man — I need not tell you his name, he was
a poHtician — but this was the result, Athenians. When
I came to converse with him, I saw that though a great
many persons, and most of all himself, thought that he
was wise, yet he was not wise. And then I tried to prove
to him that he was not wise, though he fancied that he
was; and by so doing, I made him, and many of the
bystanders, my enemies. So when I went away I thought
to myself, I am wiser than this man: neither of us prob-
ably knows anything that is really good, but he thinks
that he has knowledge, when he has not. While I, having
no knowledge, do not think that I have. I seem at any
rate to be a little wiser than he on this point; I do not
think that I know what I do not know. Next I went to
another man who was reputed to be still wiser than the
last, with exactly the same result. And there again, I
made him, and many other men, my enemies.

Then I went on to one man after another, seeing that
I was making enemies every day, which caused me much
unhappiness and anxiety: since I still thought I must set
the god's command above everything. So I had to go to
every man who seemed to possess any knowledge, and
search for the meaning of the oracle: and Athenians, I
must tell you the truth; verily, by the dog of Egypt,* this
was the result of the search which I made at the god's
bidding. I found that the men whose reputations for
wisdom stood the highest were nearly always the most
lacking in it; while others, who were looked down upon
as common people, were much better fitted to learn.

iThe dogheaded god Anubis. Socrates has a humorous fondness for
strange oaths.

228 Ideals in Greek Literature

Now, I must describe to you the wanderings which I
undertook, Hke a series of Herculean labors, to make full
proof of the oracle. After the politicians, I went to the
poets, tragic, dithyrambic, ^ and others, thinking that there
I should find myself manifestly more ignorant than they.
So I took up the poems, on which I thought that they had
spent most pains, and asked them what they meant, —
hoping at the same time to learn something from them. I
am ashamed to tell you the truth, my friends, but I must
say it. Almost any one of the bystanders could have
talked about the works of those poets better than the
poets themselves. So I soon found that it is not by wis-
dom that the poets create their works, but by a certain
natural power and inspiration, like soothsayers and proph-
ets, who say many fine things, but understand nothing of
what they say. The poets seemed to me to be in a simi-
lar case. And at the same time, I perceived that, because
of their poetry, they thought that they were the wisest of
men in other matters, in which they were not. So I went
away again, thinking that I had the same advantage over
the poets that I had over the politicians.

Finally I went to the artisans, for I knew very well
that I possessed no knowledge at all, worth speaking of,
and I was sure that I should find that they knew many
fine things. And in that I was not mistaken. They knew
what I did not know, and so far they were wiser than I.
But, Athenians, it seemed to me that the skilled artisans
made the same mistake as the poets. Each of them
believed himself to be extremely wise in matters of great
importance, because he was skilful in his own art; and
this mistake of theirs threw their real wisdom into the
shade. So I asked myself, on behalf of the oracle,
whether I would choose to remain as I was, without either
their wisdom or their ignorance, or to possess both, as
they did. And I made answer to myself that it was better
to remain as I was.

By reason of this examination, Athenians, I have made

i The dithyramb is the special choral song in Bacchus' honor.

The rlatonic Socrates 229

myself many enemies of a very fierce and bitter kind, who
have spread abroad a great many calumnies about me,
and people say that I am *'a wise man.'* For the by-
standers always think that I am wise myself in any matter
wherein I convict another man of ignorance. But, my
friends, I believe that only the god is really wise, and that
by this oracle he meant that men's wisdom is worth little
or nothing. I do not think that he meant that Socrates
was wise. He only made use of my name, and took me
as an example, as though he would say to men: '*He
among you is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that
his wisdom is worth nothing at all."

And so I still go about testing and examining every
man whom I think wise, whether he be a citizen or a
stranger, as the god has commanded me ; and whenever I
find that he is not wise, I point out to him on the part
of the god that he is not wise. And I am so busy in this
pursuit that I have never had leisure to take any part
worth mentioning in public matters, nor to look after my
private affairs. I am in very great poverty by reason of
my service to the god.

Perhaps some one will say: '*Are you not ashamed,
Socrates, of following pursuits which are very Ukely now
to cause your death?" I should answer him with justice,
and say: **My friend, if you think that a man of any
worth at all ought to reckon the chances of life and death
when he acts, or that he ought to think of anything but
whether he acts rightly or wrongly, and as a good or bad
man would act, you are grievously mistaken. According
to you, the demigods who died at Troy would be of no
great worth, and among them the son of Thetis,^ who
thought nothing of danger when the alternative was dis-
grace. For when his mother, a goddess, addressed him,
as he was burning to slay Hector, I suppose in this fash-
ion: 'My son, if thou avengest the death of thy comrade
Patroclus, and slayest Hector, thou wilt die thyself, for
**Fate awaits thee straightway after Hector's death," ' he

1 Achilles.

230 Ideals in Greek Literature

heard what she said, but scorned danger and death. He
feared much more to Hve a coward and not to avenge his
friend. 'Let me punish the evildoer and straightway die,'
he said, 'that I may not remain here by the beaked ships,
a scorn of men, encumbering the earth.' Do you sup-
pose that he ever thought of danger or death? For this,
Athenians, I beheve to be the truth. Whatever a man's
post is, whether he has been placed in it of his own will,
or has been placed in it by his commander, there it is his
duty to remain and face the danger, without thinking of
death, or of any other thing, except dishonor."

For to fear death, my friends, is only to think our-
selves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we
know what we do not know. For anything that men can
tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to
them, but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it
was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that
shameful ignorance of thinking we know what we do not
know? In this matter too, my friends, perhaps I am
different from the mass of mankind; and if I were to claim
to be at all wiser than others', it would be because I do
not think that I have any clear knowledge about the other
world, when, in fact, I have none. But I do know very
well that it is evil and base to do wrong, and to disobey
my superior, whether he be man or god. And I will never

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