The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates. Transcribed from the 1889 Cassell and Company edition by David Price, email email@example.com
The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates, by Xenophon
Translated by Edward Bysshe
CHAPTER I. A CONFERENCE OF SOCRATES WITH ARISTIPPUS CONCERNING PLEASURE AND TEMPERANCE.
In the same manner, likewise, he encouraged his hearers by the following arguments to support hunger and thirst, to resist the temptations of love, to fly from laziness, and inure themselves to all manner of fatigues. For, being told that one of them lived too luxuriously, he asked him this question: “If you were entrusted, Aristippus, with the education of two young men, one to be a prince and the other a private man, how would you educate them? Let us begin with their nourishment, as being the foundation of all.” “It is true,” said Aristippus, “that nourishment is the foundation of our life, for a man must soon die if he be not nourished.” “You would accustom both of them,” said Socrates, “to eat and drink at a certain hour?” “It is likely I should?” “But which of the two,” said Socrates, “would you teach to leave eating before he was satisfied, to go about some earnest business?” “Him, without doubt,” answered Aristippus, “whom I intended to render capable to govern, to the end that under him the affairs of the Republic might not suffer by delay.” “Which of the two,” continued Socrates, “would you teach to abstain from drinking when he was thirsty, to sleep but little, to go late to bed, to rise early, to watch whole nights, to live chastely, to get the better of his favourite inclinations, and not to avoid fatigues, but expose himself freely to them?” “The p. 52same still,” replied Aristippus. “And if there be any art that teaches to overcome our enemies, to which of the two is it rather reasonable to teach it?” “To him to,” said Aristippus, “for without that art all the rest would avail him nothing.” “I believe,” said Socrates, “that a man, who has been educated in this manner, would not suffer himself to be so easily surprised by his enemies as the most part of animals do. For some perish by their gluttony, as those whom we allure with a bait, or catch by offering them to drink, and who fall into the snares, notwithstanding their fears and distrust. Others perish through their lasciviousness, as quails and partridges, who suffer themselves to be decoyed by the counterfeit voice of their females, and blindly following the amorous warmth that transports them, fall miserably into the nets.” “You say true,” said Aristippus. “Well, then,” pursued Socrates, “is it not scandalous for a man to be taken in the same snares with irrational animals? And does not this happen to adulterers, who skulk and hide themselves in the chambers and closets of married women, though they know they run a very great risk, and that the laws are very strict and rigorous against those crimes? They know themselves to be watched, and that, if they are taken, they shall not be let go with impunity. In a word, they see punishment and infamy hanging over the heads of criminals like themselves. Besides, they are not ignorant, that there are a thousand honourable diversions to deliver them from those infamous passions, and yet they run hand over head into the midst of these dangers, and what is this but to be wretched and desperate to the highest degree?” “I think it so,” answered Aristippus. “What say you to this,” continued Socrates, “that the most necessary and most p. 53important affairs of life, as those of war and husbandry, are, with others of little less consequence, performed in the fields and in the open air, and that the greatest part of mankind accustom themselves so little to endure the inclemency of the seasons, to suffer heat and cold? Is not this a great neglect? and do you not think that a man who is to command others ought to inure himself to all these hardships?” “I think he ought,” answered Aristippus. “Therefore,” replied Socrates, “if they who are patient and laborious, as we have said, are worthy to command, may we not say that they who can do nothing of all this, ought never to pretend to any office?” Aristippus agreed to it, and Socrates went on.
“Since then you know the rank which either of these two sorts of men ought to hold, amongst which would you have us place you?” “Me!” said Aristippus; “why truly, not amongst those that govern; for that is an office I would never choose. Let those rule who have a mind for it; for my part, I envy not their condition. For, when I reflect that we find it hard enough to supply our own wants, I do not approve of loading ourselves, besides, with the necessities of a whole people; and that being often compelled to go without many things that we desire, we should engage ourselves in an employment that would render us liable to blame, if we did not take care to supply others with everything they want: I think there is folly in all this. For republics make use of their magistrates as I do of my slaves, who shall get me my meat and drink, and all other necessaries, as I command, and not presume to touch any of it themselves; so, too, the people will have those, who govern the State, take care to provide them with plenty of all things, and will not suffer them to do anything p. 54for their own advantage. I think, therefore, that all who are pleased with a hurry of affairs, and in creating business for others, are most fit to govern, provided they have been educated and instructed in the manner we mentioned. But, for my part, I desire to lead a more quiet and easy life.”
“Let us,” said Socrates, “consider whether they who govern lead more happy lives than their subjects: among the nations that are known to us in Asia, the Syrians, the Phrygians, and the Lydians, are under the empire of the Persians. In Europe, the Mæotians are subject to the Scythians; in Africa, the Carthaginians reign over the rest of the Africans. Which now, in your opinion, are the most happy? Let us look into Greece, where you are at present. Whose condition, think you, is most to be desired, that of the nations who rule, or of the people who are under the dominion of others?” “I can never,” said Aristippus, “consent to be a slave; but there is a way between both that leads neither to empire nor subjection, and this is the road of liberty, in which I endeavour to walk, because it is the shortest to arrive at true quiet and repose.” “If you had said,” replied Socrates, “that this way, which leads neither to empire nor subjection, is a way that leads far from all human society, you would, perhaps, have said something; for, how can we live among men, and neither command nor obey? Do you not observe that the mighty oppress the weak, and use them as their slaves, after they have made them groan under the weight of oppression, and given them just cause to complain of their cruel usage, in a thousand instances, both general and particular? And if they find any who will not submit to the yoke, they ravage their countries, spoil their corn, cut down their trees, and p. 55attack them, in short, in such a manner that they are compelled to yield themselves up to slavery, rather than undergo so unequal a war? Among private men themselves, do not the stronger and more bold trample on the weaker?” “To the end, therefore, that this may not happen to me,” said Aristippus, “I confine myself not to any republic, but am sometimes here, sometimes there, and think it best to be a stranger wherever I am.” “This invention of yours,” replied Socrates, “is very extraordinary. Travellers, I believe, are not now so much infested on the roads by robbers as formerly, deterred, I suppose, by the fate of Sinnis, Scyron, Procrustes, and the rest of that gang. What then? They who are settled in their own country, and are concerned in the administration of the public affairs, they have the laws in their favours, have their relations and friends to assist them, have fortified towns and arms for their defence: over and above, they have alliances with their neighbours: and yet all these favourable circumstances cannot entirely shelter them from the attempts and surprises of wicked men. But can you, who have none of these advantages, who are, for the most part, travelling on the roads, often dangerous to most men, who never enter a town, where you have not less credit than the meanest inhabitant, and are as obscure as the wretches who prey on the properties of others; in these circumstances, can you, I say, expect to be safe, merely because you are a stranger, or perhaps have got passports from the States that promise you all manner of safety coming or going, or should it be your hard fortune to be made a slave, you would make such a bad one, that a master would be never the better for you? For, who would suffer in his family a man who p. 56would not work, and yet expected to live well? But let us see how masters use such servants.
“When they are too lascivious, they compel them to fast till they have brought them so low, that they have no great stomach to make love, if they are thieves, they prevent them from stealing, by carefully locking up whatever they could take: they chain them for fear they should run away: if they are dull and lazy, then stripes and scourges are the rewards we give them. If you yourself, my friend, had a worthless slave, would you not take the same measures with him?” “I would treat such a fellow,” answered Aristippus, “with all manner of severity, till I had brought him to serve me better. But, Socrates, let us resume our former discourse.”
“In what do they who are educated in the art of government, which you seem to think a great happiness, differ from those who suffer through necessity? For you say they must accustom themselves to hunger and thirst, to endure cold and heat, to sleep little, and that they must voluntarily expose themselves to a thousand other fatigues and hardships. Now, I cannot conceive what difference there is between being whipped willingly and by force, and tormenting one’s body either one way or the other, except that it is a folly in a man to be willing to suffer pain.” “How,” said Socrates, “you know not this difference between things voluntary and constrained, that he who suffers hunger because he is pleased to do so may likewise eat when he has a mind; and he who suffers thirst because he is willing may also drink when he pleases. But it is not in the power of him who suffers either of them through constraint and necessity to relieve himself by eating and drinking the moment he desires it? Besides, he that voluntarily p. 57embraceth any laborious exercise finds much comfort and content in the hope that animates him. Thus the fatigues of hunting discourage not the hunters, because they hope to take the game they pursue. And yet what they take, though they think it a reward for all their toil, is certainly of very little value. Ought not they, then, who labour to gain the friendship of good men, or to overcome their enemies, or to render themselves capable of governing their families, and of serving their country, ought not these, I say, joyfully to undertake the trouble, and to rest content, conscious of the inward approbation of their own minds, and the regard and esteem of the virtuous? And to convince you that it is good to impose labours on ourselves, it is a maxim among those who instruct youth that the exercises which are easily performed at the first attempt, and which we immediately take delight in, are not capable to form the body to that vigour and strength that is requisite in great undertakings, nor of imprinting in the soul any considerable knowledge: but that those which require patience, application, labour, and assiduity, prepare the way to illustrious actions and great achievements. This is the opinion of good judges, and of Hesiod in particular, who says somewhere—
‘To Vice, in crowded ranks, the course we steer,
The road is smooth, and her abode is near;
But Virtue’s heights are reached with sweat and pain,
For thus did the immortal powers ordain.
A long and rough ascent leads to her gate,
Nor, till the summit’s gained, doth toil abate.’
And to the same purpose Epicharmus:—
“The gods confer their blessings at the price
“Thou son of sloth, avoid the charms of ease,
Lest pain succeed—.”
“Of the same opinion is Prodicus, in the book he has written of the life of Hercules, where Virtue and Pleasure make their court to that hero under the appearance of two beautiful women. His words, as near as I can remember, are as follows:—
“‘When Hercules,’ says the moralist, ‘had arrived at that part of his youth in which young men commonly choose for themselves, and show, by the result of their choice, whether they will, through the succeeding stages of their lives, enter into and walk in the path of virtue or that of vice, he went out into a solitary place fit for contemplation, there to consider with himself which of those two paths he should pursue.
“‘As he was sitting there in suspense he saw two women of a larger stature than ordinary approaching towards him. One of them had a genteel and amiable aspect; her beauty was natural and easy, her person and shape clean and handsome, her eyes cast towards the ground with an agreeable reserve, her motion and behaviour full of modesty, and her raiment white as snow. The other wanted all the native beauty and proportion of the former; her person was swelled, by luxury and ease, to a size quite disproportioned and uncomely. She had painted her complexion, that it might seem fairer and more ruddy than it really was, and endeavoured to appear more graceful than ordinary in her mien, by a mixture of affectation in all her gestures. Her eyes were full of confidence, and her dress transparent, that the conceited beauty of her person might appear through it to advantage. She p. 59cast her eyes frequently upon herself, then turned them on those that were present, to see whether any one regarded her, and now and then looked on the figure she made in her own shadow.
“‘As they drew nearer, the former continued the same composed pace, while the latter, striving to get before her, ran up to Hercules, and addressed herself to him in the following manner:—
“I perceive, my dear Hercules, you are in doubt which path in life you should pursue. If, then, you will be my friend and follow me, I will lead you to a path the most easy and most delightful, wherein you shall taste all the sweets of life, and live exempt from every trouble. You shall neither be concerned in war nor in the affairs of the world, but shall only consider how to gratify all your senses—your taste with the finest dainties and most delicious drink, your sight with the most agreeable objects, your scent with the richest perfumes and fragrancy of odours, how you may enjoy the embraces of the fair, repose on the softest beds, render your slumbers sweet and easy, and by what means enjoy, without even the smallest care, all those glorious and mighty blessings.
“And, for fear you suspect that the sources whence you are to derive those invaluable blessings might at some time or other fail, and that you might, of course, be obliged to acquire them at the expense of your mind and the united labour and fatigue of your body, I beforehand assure you that you shall freely enjoy all from the industry of others, undergo neither hardship nor drudgery, but have everything at your command that can afford you any pleasure or advantage.”
“‘Hercules, hearing the lady make him such offers, desired to know her name, to which she answered, p. 60“My friends, and those who are well acquainted with me, and whom I have conducted, call me Happiness; but my enemies, and those who would injure my reputation, have given me the name of Pleasure.”
“‘In the meantime, the other lady approached, and in her turn accosted him in this manner:—“I also am come to you, Hercules, to offer my assistance; I, who am well acquainted with your divine extraction and have observed the excellence of your nature, even from your childhood, from which I have reason to hope that, if you would follow the path that leadeth to my residence, you will undertake the greatest enterprises and achieve the most glorious actions, and that I shall thereby become more honourable and illustrious among mortals. But before I invite you into my society and friendship I will be open and sincere with you, and must lay down this as an established truth, that there is nothing truly valuable which can be purchased without pains and labour. The gods have set a price upon every real and noble pleasure. If you would gain the favour of the Deity you must be at the pains of worshipping Him; if you would be beloved by your friends you must study to oblige them; if you would be honoured by any city you must be of service to it; and if you would be admired by all Greece, on account of your probity and valour, you must exert yourself to do her some eminent service. If you would render your fields fruitful, and fill your arms with corn, you must labour to cultivate the soil accordingly. Would you grow rich by your herds, a proper care must be taken of them; would you extend your dominions by arms, and be rendered capable of setting at liberty your captive friends, and bringing your enemies to subjection, you must not only learn of those that are p. 61experienced in the art of war, but exercise yourself also in the use of military affairs; and if you would excel in the strength of your body you must keep your body in due subjection to your mind, and exercise it with labour and pains.”
“‘Here Pleasure broke in upon her discourse—“Do you see, my dear Hercules, through what long and difficult ways this woman would lead you to her promised delights? Follow me, and I will show you a much shorter and more easy way to happiness.”
“Alas!” replied the Goddess of Virtue, whose visage glowed with a passion made up of scorn and pity, “what happiness can you bestow, or what pleasure can you taste, who would never do anything to acquire it? You who will take your fill of all pleasures before you feel an appetite for any; you eat before you are hungry, you drink before you are athirst; and, that you may please your taste, must have the finest artists to prepare your viands; the richest wines that you may drink with pleasure, and to give your wine the finer taste, you search every place for ice and snow luxuriously to cool it in the heat of summer. Then, to make your slumbers uninterrupted, you must have the softest down and the easiest couches, and a gentle ascent of steps to save you from any the least disturbance in mounting up to them. And all little enough, heaven knows! for you have not prepared yourself for sleep by anything you have done, but seek after it only because you have nothing to do. It is the same in the enjoyments of love, in which you rather force than follow your inclinations, and are obliged to use arts, and even to pervert nature, to keep your passions alive. Thus is it that you instruct your followers—kept awake for the greatest part of the p. 62night by debaucheries, and consuming in drowsiness all the most useful part of the day. Though immortal, you are an outcast from the gods, and despised by good men. Never have you heard that most agreeable of all sounds, your own praise, nor ever have you beheld the most pleasing of all objects, any good work of your own hands. Who would ever give any credit to anything that you say? Who would assist you in your necessity, or what man of sense would ever venture to be of your mad parties? Such as do follow you are robbed of their strength when they are young, void of wisdom when they grow old. In their youth they are bred up in indolence and all manner of delicacy, and pass their old age with difficulties and distress, full of shame for what they have done, and oppressed with the burden of what they are to do, squanderers of pleasures in their youth, and hoarders up of afflictions for their old age.
“On the contrary, my conversation is with the gods, and with good men, and there is nothing excellent performed by either without my influence. I am respected above all things by the gods and by the best of mortals, and it is just I should. I am an agreeable companion to the artisan, a faithful security to masters of families, a kind assistant to servants, a useful associate in the arts of peace, a faithful ally in the labours of war, and the best uniter of all friendships.
“My votaries, too, enjoy a pleasure in everything they either eat or drink, even without having laboured for it, because they wait for the demand of their appetites. Their sleep is sweeter than that of the indolent and inactive; and they are neither overburdened with it when they awake, nor do they, for the sake of it, omit the necessary duties of life. My young men p. 63have the pleasure of being praised by those who are in years, and those who are in years of being honoured by those who are young. They look back with comfort on their past actions, and delight themselves in their present employments. By my means they are favoured by the gods, beloved by their friends, and honoured by their country; and when the appointed period of their lives is come they are not lost in a dishonourable oblivion, but live and flourish in the praises of mankind, even to the latest posterity.”
“Thus, my dear Hercules, who are descended of divine ancestors, you may acquire, by virtuous toil and industry, this most desirable state of perfect happiness.”
“Such was the discourse, my friend, which the goddess had with Hercules, according to Prodicus. You may believe that he embellished the thoughts with more noble expressions than I do. I heartily wish, my dear Aristippus, that you should make such an improvement of those divine instructions, as that you too may make such a happy choice as may render you happy during the future course of your life.”
CHAPTER II. SOCRATES’ DISCOURSE WITH HIS ELDEST SON LAMPROCLES CONCERNING THE RESPECT DUE TO PARENTS.
Socrates observing his eldest son Lamprocles in a rage with his mother, spoke to him in this manner:—“Come hither, my son. Have you ever heard of a certain sort of men, who are called ungrateful?” “Very often,” p. 64answered the young man. “And do you know,” said Socrates, “why they are called so?” “We call a man ungrateful,” answered Lamprocles, “who, having received a kindness, does not return the like if occasion offers.” “I think, therefore,” said Socrates, “ingratitude is a kind of injustice?” “I think so too,” answered Lamprocles. Socrates went on:—“Have you never considered of what nature this injustice is? For since it is an injustice to treat our friends ill, and on the contrary, a piece of justice to make our enemies smart for their conduct, may it be said, with like reason, that it is an injustice to be ungrateful towards our friends, and that it is just to be ungrateful towards our enemies.” “On mature consideration,” answered Lamprocles, “I think it is criminal to do injustice to either of them.” “If, then,” pursued Socrates, “ingratitude be an injustice, it follows that the greater the favours are which we have received, the greater is the injustice in not acknowledging them.” Lamprocles granted this consequence, and Socrates continued—“Can there be any stricter obligations than those that children are laid under to their parents? For it is they who gave them a being, and who have put them in a condition to behold all the wonders of Nature, and to partake of the many good things exhibited before them by the bounty of Providence, and which are so delightful, that there is not anything that all men more dread than to leave them; insomuch that all governments have ordained death to be the punishment of the most enormous crimes, because there is nothing can more effectually put a stop to the rage of the wicked than the apprehension of death. In the affair of marriage, it is not merely the gratification of the appetite which Nature has so strongly implanted in both sexes p. 65for their preservation that we regard; no, that passion can be satisfied in a less expensive manner, even in our streets, and other places; but when we design to enter into that state, we make choice of a woman of such a form and shape, by whom we may expect to have fine children, and of such a temper and disposition as to assure us of future happiness. When that is finished, it is then the chief care of the husband to maintain his wife, and to provide for his children things useful for life in the greatest abundance he can. On the part of the wife, many are her anxieties and troubles for the preservation of her offspring during the time of her pregnancy; she gives it then part of her nourishment and life; and after having suffered the sharpest pangs at the moment of its birth, she then gives it suck, and continues her care and love to it. All this she does to the poor helpless infant, so void of reason, that it knows not even her that is so good to it, nor can ask her for its own necessities. Full of tenderness for the welfare and happiness of her babe, her whole time, day and night, is spent in pleasing it, without the least prospect of any recompense for all her fatigue. After this, when the children are come to an age fit to be instructed, the fathers teach them all the good things they can for the conduct of their life; and if they know any man more capable to instruct them than themselves, they send them to him, without regard to the expense, thus indicating by their whole conduct, what sincere pleasure it would afford them to see their children turn out men of virtue and probity.” “Undoubtedly,” answered Lamprocles, “if my mother had done all this, and an hundred times as much, no man could suffer her ill-humours?” “Do not you think,” said Socrates, “that the anger of a beast is p. 66much more difficult to support than that of a mother?” “Not of a mother like her,” said Lamprocles. Socrates continued, “What strange thing has she done to you? Has she bit you, has she kicked you, as beasts do when they are angry?” “She has a tongue that no mortal can suffer,” answered Lamprocles. “And you,” replied Socrates, “how many crosses did you give her in your infancy by your continual bawling and importunate actions? how much trouble by night and by day? how much affliction in your illnesses?” “At worst,” answered Lamprocles, “I never did nor said anything that might make her blush.” “Alas!” said Socrates, “is it more difficult for you to hear in patience the hasty expressions of your mother, than it is for the comedians to hear what they say to one another on the stage when they fall into the most injurious reproaches? For they easily suffer it, knowing well that when one reviles another, he reviles him not with intent to injure him; and when one threatens another, he threatens not with design to do him any harm. You who are fully convinced likewise of the intentions of your mother, and who know very well that the hard words she gives you do not proceed from hate, but that she has a great affection for you, how can you, then, be angry with her? Is it because you imagine that she wishes you ill?” “Not in the least,” answered Lamprocles; “I never had such a thought.” “What!” continued Socrates; “a mother that loves you; a mother who, in your sickness, does all she can to recover your health, who takes care that you want for nothing, who makes so many vows to heaven for you; you say this is an ill mother? In truth, if you cannot live with her, I will say you cannot live at your ease. Tell me, in short, do you p. 67believe you ought to have any reverence or respect for any one whatever? Or do you not care for any man’s favour and goodwill, neither for that of a general, suppose, or of any other magistrate?” “On the contrary,” said Lamprocles, “I am very careful to gain the goodwill of all men.” “Perhaps you would endeavour to acquire the goodwill of your neighbour, to the end he might do you kind offices, such as giving you fire when you want it, or, when any misfortune befalls you, speedily relieve you?” “Yes, I would.” “And if you were travelling with any man, either by sea or land, would you count it a matter of indifference whether you were loved by him or not?” “No, indeed.” “Are you then so abandoned, Lamprocles,” replied Socrates, “that you would take pains to acquire the goodwill of those persons, and yet will do nothing to your mother, who loves you incomparably better than they? Know you not that the Republic concerns not herself with common instances of ingratitude; that she takes no cognisance of such crimes, and that she neglects to punish those who do not return the civilities they receive? But if any one be disrespectful to his parents there is a punishment provided for such ingratitude; the laws reject him as an outlaw, and will not allow him to be received into any public office, because it is a maxim commonly received amongst us, that a sacrifice, when offered by an impious hand, cannot be acceptable to the gods, nor profitable to the Republic. Nobody can believe, that a person of such a character can be capable to perform any great or worthy action, or to act the part of a righteous judge. The same punishment is ordained likewise for those who, after the death of their parents, neglect to honour their funerals: and this is p. 68particularly examined into in the inquiry that is made into the lives of such as stand candidates for offices.
“Therefore, my son, if you be wise, you will beseech Heaven to pardon you the offences committed against your mother, to the end that the favours of the Deity may be still continued to you, and that you may not forfeit them by an ungrateful behaviour. Take care, likewise, that the public may not discover the contempt you show her, for then would you be blamed and abandoned by all the world; for, if it were suspected that you did not gratefully resent the benefits conferred on you by your parents, no man could believe you would be grateful for any kind actions that others might do you.”
CHAPTER III. SOCRATES RECONCILES CHAEREPHON AND CHAERECRATES, TWO BROTHERS WHO WERE FORMERLY AT VARIANCE.
Two brothers, whose names were Chaerephon and Chaerecrates, were at enmity with each other. Socrates was acquainted with them, and had a great mind to make them friends. Meeting therefore with Chaerecrates, he accosted him thus:—“Are you, too, one of those who prefer the being rich to the having a brother, and who do not consider that riches, being inanimate things, have need of being defended, whereas a brother is himself a good defence, and, after all, that there is more money than brothers? For is it not extravagant in such men to imagine that a brother does them wrong because they enjoy not his estate? Why say they not likewise, that all the world does them p. 69wrong, because they are not in possession of what belongs to the rest of mankind? But they believe, with great reason, that it is better to live in society and to be ensured of a moderate estate than to have the sole possession of all that is their neighbours’, and to be exposed to the dangers that are inseparable from solitude. Nevertheless, they are not of the same opinion as to the company of their brothers. If they are rich they buy themselves slaves to serve them, they procure themselves friends to stand by them; but for their brothers they neglect them; as if a brother were not so fit to make a friend of as another person. And yet it is of great efficacy towards the begetting and establishing of friendships to have been born of the same parents and brought up together, since even beasts, we see, retain some inclination for those who have come from the same dams, and have been bred up and nourished together. Besides, a man who has a brother is the more regarded for it, and men are more cautious to offend him.” Chaerecrates answered him thus:—
“You are indeed in the right to say that a good brother is a great happiness; and, unless there be a very strong cause of dissension, I think that brothers ought a little to bear with one another, and not part on a slight occasion; but when a brother fails in all things, and is quite the reverse of what he ought to be, would you have a man do what is impossible and continue in good amity with such a person?” Socrates replied, “Does your brother give offence to all the world as well as to you? Does nobody speak well of him?” “That,” said Chaerecrates, “is one of the chief causes of the hatred I bear him, for he is sly enough to please others; but whenever we two happen to meet you p. 70would think his sole design were to fall out with me.” Socrates replied, “Does not this proceed from what I am going to say? When any man would make use of a horse, and knows not how to govern him, he can expect nothing from him but trouble. Thus, if we know not in what manner to behave ourselves toward our brother, do you think we can expect anything from him but uneasiness?” “Why do you imagine,” said Chaerecrates, “that I am ignorant in what manner I ought to carry myself to a brother, since I can show him as much love and respect, both in my words and actions, as he can show me in his? But when I see a man endeavour to disoblige me all manner of ways, shall I express any goodwill for that man? No; this is what I cannot do, and will not so much as endeavour it.” “I am astonished to hear you talk after this manner,” said Socrates; “pray tell me, if you had a dog that were good to keep your flocks, who should fawn on your shepherds, and grin his teeth and snarl whenever you come in his way, whether, instead of being angry with him, you would not make much of him to bring him to know you? Now, you say that a good brother is a great happiness; you confess that you know how to oblige, and yet you put it not in practice to reconcile yourself with Chaerephon.” “I fear I have not skill enough to compass it.” “I think,” said Socrates, “there will be no need of any extraordinary skill in the matter; and am certain that you have enough to engage him to wish you well, and to have a great value for you.” “Pray,” cried Chaerecrates, “if you know any art I have to make myself beloved, let me know it immediately, for hitherto I never perceived any such thing.” “Answer me,” said Socrates. “If you desired that one of your friends p. 71should invite you to his feast when he offered a sacrifice, what course would you take?” “I would begin first to invite him to mine.” “And if you would engage him to take care of your affairs in your absence on a journey, what would you do?” “I would first, during his absence, take care of his.” “And if you would have a foreigner entertain you in his family when you come into his country, what method would you take?” “I would make him welcome at my house when he came to this town, and would endeavour to further the dispatch of his business, that he might do me the like favour when I should be in the city where he lives.” “Strange,” said Socrates, “that you, who know the common methods of ingratiating yourself, will not be at the pains of practising them. Why do you scruple to begin to practise those methods? Is it because you are afraid that, should you begin with your brother, and first do him a kindness, you would appear to be of a mean-spirited and cringing disposition? Believe me, my friend, you will never, on that account, appear such. On the contrary, I take it to be the part of an heroic and generous soul to prevent our friends with kindness and our enemies with valour. Indeed, had I thought that Chaerephon had been more proper than you to propose the reconciliation, I would have endeavoured to have persuaded him to prevent you; but I take you to be more fit to manage this matter, and believe you will bring it to pass rather than he.” “What you say is absurd and unworthy of you,” replied Chaerecrates. “Would you have me break the ice; I, who am the younger brother? Do you forget that among all nations the honour to begin is reserved to the elder?” “How do you mean?” said Socrates. “Must not a younger brother give the p. 72precedency to the older? Must he not rise up when he comes in, give him the best place, and hold his peace to let him speak? Delay, therefore, no longer to do what I desire you; go and try to appease your brother. He will receive you with open arms; it is enough that he is a friend to honour, and of a generous temper, for as there is no readier way to gain the goodwill of the mean and poor than by being liberal to them, so nothing has more influence on the mind of a man of honour and note than to treat him with respect and friendship.” Chaerecrates objected: “But when I have done what you say, if my brother should not be better tempered, what then?” “What harm would it be to you?” said Socrates. “It will show your goodness, and that you love him, and make him appear to be ill-natured, and not deserving to be obliged by any man. But I am of opinion this will not happen, and when he sees that you attack him with civilities and good offices, I am certain he will endeavour to get the better of you in so kind and generous a contention. You are now in the most wretched condition imaginable. It is as if the hands which God has given us reciprocally to aid each other were employed only to hinder one another, or as if the feet, which by the divine providence were made to assist each other to walk, were busied only in preventing one another from going forward. Would it not, then, be a great ignorance, and at the same time a great misfortune, to turn to our disadvantage what was made only for our utility? Now, it is certain that God has given us brothers only for our good; and that two brothers are a greater advantage to one another than it can be to either of them to have two hands, two feet, two eyes, and other the like members, which are double in our body, and which Nature has designed as p. 73brothers. For the hands cannot at the same time reach two things several fathoms distant from one another; the feet cannot stretch themselves from the end of one fathom to another; the eyes, which seem to discover from so far, cannot, at the same time, see the fore and hind-part of one and the same object; but when two brothers are good friends, no distance of place can hinder them from serving each other.”
CHAPTER IV. A DISCOURSE OF SOCRATES CONCERNING FRIENDSHIP.
I remember likewise a discourse which I have heard him make concerning friendship, and that may be of great use to instruct us by what means we ought to procure ourselves friends, and in what manner we should live with them. He said “that most men agree that a true friend is a precious treasure, and that nevertheless there is nothing about which we give ourselves so little trouble as to make men our friends. We take care,” said he, “to buy houses, lands, slaves, flocks, and household goods, and when we have them we endeavour to keep them, but though a friend is allowed to be capable of affording us a far greater happiness than any or all of these, yet how few are solicitous to procure themselves a friend, or, when they have, to secure his friendship? Nay, some men are so stupid as to prefer their very slaves to their friends. How else can we account for their want of concern about the latter when either in distress or sickness, and at the same time their extreme anxiety for the recovery of the former when in the same p. 74condition? For then immediately physicians are sent for, and all remedies that can be thought of applied to their relief. Should both of them happen to die, they will regret more the loss of their slave than of their friend, and shed more tears over the grave of the former than of the latter. They take care of everything but their friends; they will examine into and take great notice of the smallest trifle in their affairs, which perhaps stand in no need of their care, but neglect their friends that do. In short, though they have many estates, they know them all; but though they have but few friends, yet they know not the number of them; insomuch that if they are desired to name them, they are puzzled immediately, so little are their friends in their thoughts. Nevertheless, there is nothing comparable to a good friend; no slave is so affectionate to our person or interest; no horse can render us so great service; in a word, nothing is so useful to us in all occasions. For a true friend supplies all the wants and answers all the demands of another, either in the conduct of his private affairs or in the management of the public. If, for instance, his friend be obliged to do a kindness to any man, he puts him in the way of it; if he be assaulted with any danger he immediately flies to his relief. At one time he gives him part of his estate, at another he assists him with the labour of his hands; sometimes he helps him to persuade, sometimes he aids him to compel; in prosperity he heightens his delight by rejoicing with him; in adversity he diminisheth his sorrows by bearing a share of them. The use a man may make of his hands, his eyes, his ears, his feet, is nothing at all when compared with the service one friend may render another. For often what we cannot do for our own advantage, what we p. 75have not seen, nor thought, nor heard of, when our own interests were concerned, what we have not pursued for ourselves, a friend has done for his friend. How foolish were it to be at so much trouble in cultivating a small orchard of trees, because we expect some fruit from it, and yet be at no pains to cultivate that which is instead of a whole estate—I mean Friendship—a soil the most glorious and fertile where we are sure to gather the fairest and best of fruit!”
CHAPTER V. OF THE WORTH AND VALUE OF FRIENDS.
To what I have advanced above I shall here relate another discourse of his, as far as I can remember, in which he exhorted his hearers to examine themselves, that they might know what value their friends might set upon them; for seeing a man who had abandoned his friend in extreme poverty, he asked Antisthenes this question in presence of that very man and several others: “Can we set a price upon friends as we do upon slaves? One slave may be worth twenty crowns, another not worth five; such a one will cost fifty crowns, another will yield a hundred. Nay, I am told that Nicias, the son of Niceratus, gave even six hundred crowns for one slave to be inspector of his silver mines. Do you think we might likewise set prices upon friends?” “I believe we may,” answered Antisthenes; “for there are some men by whom I would rather choose to be loved than to have twenty crowns; others for whose affection I would not spend five. I know some, too, for whose friendship I would p. 76give all I am worth.” “If it be so,” said Socrates, “it would be well that each man should consider how much he can be worth to his friends, and that he should endeavour to render himself as valuable as he can in their regard, to the end they might not abandon him; for when I hear one complain that his friend has betrayed him; another that he, whom he thought faithful, has preferred a small gain to the preservation of his friendship, I reflect on these stories, and ask whether, as we sell a good-for-nothing slave for what we can get for him, we are not likewise tempted to get rid of an ill-friend when we are offered more for him than he is worth? because I do not see men part with their slaves if they be good, nor abandon their friends if they be faithful.”
CHAPTER VI. OF THE CHOICE OF FRIENDS.
The following conversation of Socrates with Critobulus may teach us how we ought to try friends, and with whom it is good to contract friendship:—“If we were to choose a friend,” said Socrates to him, “what precaution ought we to take? Ought we not to look out for a man who is not given to luxury, to drunkenness, to women, nor to idleness? For with these vices he could never be very useful to his friend nor to himself.” “That is certain,” answered Critobulus. “Then,” said Socrates, “if we found a man that loved to live great, though he had not an estate to support the expense, and who having daily occasion to employ the purses of his friends should show by his actions that whatever you lend him is so much lost, p. 77and that if you do not lend him he will take it ill of you, do you not think that such a man would be very improper to make a friend of?” “There is no doubt of it,” said Critobulus. “And if we found another,” continued Socrates, “who was saving of what he had, but who, on the other hand, was so covetous that it would be quite unfit to have anything to do with him, because he would always be very ready to receive and never to give again?” “In my opinion,” said Critobulus, “this would be a worse friend than the former. And if we should find a man who was so carried away with the desire of enriching himself that he applied his mind to nothing else, but getting all he could scrape together?” “We ought not to have anything to do with him neither,” answered Critobulus, “for he would be good to no man but himself.” “If we found a quarrelsome man,” continued Socrates, “who was every day like to engage all his friends in new broils and squabbles, what would you think of him?” “That he ought to be avoided,” answered Critobulus. “And if a man,” said Socrates, “were free from all these faults, and were only of a humour to desire to receive kindnesses, but never to concern himself to return them, what would you think of him?” “That neither he, too, would be proper to make a friend of,” replied Critobulus; “and indeed, after having rejected so many, I can scarce tell whom we should take.” “We ought to take,” said Socrates, “a man who were the reverse of all those we have mentioned, who would be temperate in his manners, faithful in his promises, and sincere in all his actions; who would think it a point of honour not to be outdone in civilities so that it would be of advantage to have to do with him.” “But how can we be certain of all this,” said Critobulus, p. 78“before we have tried him?” “When we would give our judgment of statuaries, we have no regard,” replied Socrates, “to what they say of themselves, but consider their works; and he who has already made good statues is the person of whom we have the best opinion for those he shall make for the future. Apply this to the question you asked me, and be assured that a man who has served his former friends well will be likely to show no less affection for those that come after; as we may strongly conjecture that a groom, whom we have formerly seen dress horses very well, is capable of dressing others.” “But,” said Critobulus, “when we have found a man worthy of our choice, how ought we to contract a friendship with him?” “In the first place,” answered Socrates, “we must inquire whether the gods approve of it.” “But supposing they do not dissuade us, how are we to take this precious prey?” “Not by hunting, as we catch hares,” said Socrates; “nor in nets, as we take birds, nor by force, as we take our enemies; for it is very difficult to gain any man’s friendship against his will, or stop him by force, and detain him in prison as a slave, seeing such ill-usage would oblige him rather to wish us ill than to love us.” “What, then, ought we to do?” pursued Critobulus. “It is reported,” replied Socrates, “that there are some words so powerful that they who know them make themselves loved by pronouncing them, and that there are likewise other charms for the same purpose.” “And where can one learn these words?” added Critobulus. “Have you not read in Homer,” answered Socrates, “what the Syrens said to enchant Ulysses? The beginning of it is thus—
‘Oh, stay! oh, pride of Greece, Ulysses, stay!’
p. 79“You say true,” continued Critobulus; “but did not they say as much to the others, to stop them too?” “Not at all,” said Socrates, “they enchanted with these words only the generous men who were in love with virtue.” “I begin to understand you,” said Critobulus, “and seeing this charm, which is so powerful to enchant and captivate the mind, is nothing but praise, you mean that we ought to praise a man in such a manner that he may not distrust we laugh at him; otherwise, instead of gaining his affection, we shall incur his hate; for it would be insupportable to a man, who knows he is little and weak, to be praised for his graceful appearance, for being well-shaped, and of a robust constitution.” “But do you know no other charms?” “No,” answered Socrates; “but I have indeed heard it said, that Pericles knew a great many, by means of which he charmed the Republic, and gained the favour and esteem of all.” Critobulus continued, “What was it that Themistocles did to make himself so esteemed?” “He used no other charms,” said Socrates, “than the eminent services he rendered to the State.” “Which is as much as to say,” replied Critobulus, “that to gain the friendship of the great, we must render ourselves capable to perform great actions.”
“And could you think it possible,” said Socrates, “that any one should share in the friendship of men of merit without being possessed of one good quality?” “Why not?” answered Critobulus; “I have seen despicable rhetoricians beloved by the most famous orators, and persons who knew nothing of war live in familiarity with great generals.” “But have you seen men who are fit for nothing (for that is the question we speak of) get any friends of p. 80consequence?” “I confess I have not,” answered Critobulus; “nevertheless, since it is impossible for a man of no worth whatever to have the friendship of men of condition and merit, tell me whether the man who acquires the character of worth and merit obtains, at the same time, the friendship of all who possess that excellent character?” “The reason, I suppose, why you ask this question,” answered Socrates, “is because you frequently observe dissensions among those who equally cherish honour, and would all of them rather die than commit a base action; and you are surprised, that instead of living in friendship, they disagree among themselves, and are sometimes more difficult to reconcile than the vilest of all man.” “This is a misfortune,” added Critobulus, “that arrives not among private men only; for dissensions, nay, even wars, will happen sometimes, to break out in the best-governed republics, where virtue is in the highest repute, and where vice is held in the utmost contempt. Now, when I revolve these considerations in my mind, I know not where to go in search of friends; for it is impossible, we see, for the wicked to cultivate a true friendship among themselves. Can there subsist a true and lasting friendship amongst the ungrateful, the idle, the covetous, the treacherous, and the dissolute? No, for persons of such a character will mutually expose themselves to hatred and contempt; to hatred, because of the hurtful effects of their vices; to contempt, on account of the deformity of them. Neither, on the other hand, can we expect, as you have well observed, to find friendship between a virtuous man and a person of the opposite character. For how can they who commit crimes be in good amity with those that abhor them? But what puzzles me p. 81most, my dear Socrates, is to see men of merit and virtue harassing one another, and endeavouring, to the utmost of their power, to crush and ruin their antagonists, when, in different interests, both are contending for the most lucrative posts of the Republic. I am quite at a loss to account for such a conduct on the principles of friendship; for when I daily observe the noblest affections of the mind rooted up by the sordid views of interest, I am in a great doubt whether there is any real friendship and affection in the world.” “My dear friend,” replied Socrates, “this matter is very intricate; for, if I mistake not, Nature has placed in men the principles both of friendship and dissension. Of friendship, because they have need of one another, they have compassion of their miseries, they relieve one another in their necessities, and they are grateful for the assistances which they lend one another: of dissension, because one and the same thing being agreeable to many they contend to have it, and endeavour to prejudice and thwart one another in their designs. Thus strife and anger beget war, avarice stifles benevolence, envy produces hate. But friendship overcoming all these difficulties, finds out the virtuous, and unites them together. For, out of a motive of virtue they choose rather to live quietly in a mean condition, than to gain the empire of the whole earth by the calamities of war. When they are pinched with hunger or thirst, they endure them with constancy, till they can relieve themselves without being troublesome to any one. When at any time their desires for the enjoyments of love grow violent and headstrong, then reason, or self-government, lays hold on the reins, checks the impetuosity of the passion, keeps it within due bounds, and will not allow p. 82them to transgress the great rule of their duty. They enjoy what is lawfully their own, and are so far from usurping the rights and properties of others, that they even give them part of what they have. They agree their differences in such a manner, that all are gainers, and no man has reason to complain. They are never transported with anger so far as to commit any action of which they may afterwards repent. Envy is a passion they are ignorant of, because they live in a mutual communication of what they possess, and consider what belongs to their friends as things in their own possession. From hence you see that the virtuous do not only not oppose, but that they aid one another in the employments of the Republic; for they who seek for honours and great offices, only to have an opportunity of enriching themselves, and exercising a cruel tyranny, or to live an easy and effeminate life, are certainly very wicked and unjust, nor can they ever hope to live in friendship with any man.
“But why should he who desires not any authority, but only the better to defend himself from the wicked, or to assist his friends, or be serviceable to his country; why should such a man, I say, not agree with another, whose intentions are the same with his own? Is it because he would be less capable to serve the Republic, if he had virtuous associates in the administration of affairs? If, in the tournaments and other games, the most strong were permitted to enter into a league against the weaker, they would infallibly be victors in all the courses, and win all the prizes; for which reason they are not suffered to do so. Therefore, in affairs of State, since no man is hindered from joining with whom he pleases, to do good to the Republic, is it not more advantageous, when we concern ourselves in the government, p. 83to make friendship with men of honour and probity, who are generally, too, the most knowing and capable, and to have them for our associates than to make them our adversaries? For it is manifest, that when a man is engaged in a combat, he ought to have some to assist him, and that he will have need of a great many, if those whom he opposes be valiant and powerful. Besides, he must be liberal, and give presents to those who espouse his quarrel, to encourage them to make a more resolute and vigorous defence. Now, it is beyond all dispute, that it is much better to oblige the good, though they are but a few, than the wicked, of whom there is a great number, because the former are easily gained over to your side; whereas the latter are hardly won by the best favours, and those in the greatest abundance, too, to espouse your interest.
“However it be, Critobulus, take courage, endeavour only to become virtuous, and then boldly pursue the friendship of honest men; this is a sort of chase in which I may be helpful to you, because I am naturally inclined to love. I attack briskly those I love, and lay out all my skill to make myself beloved by them. I endeavour to kindle in their minds a flame like mine, and to make them desire my company, as ardently as I long for theirs. You stand in need of this address when you would contract a friendship with any one. Hide not, then, the secrets of your soul from me, but let me know who they are for whom you have a regard: for, having made it my study to please those who were agreeable to me, I believe that, by long experience, I have now got some considerable insight into the pursuits and ways of men.” “I have longed a great while,” said Critobulus, “to learn this art, especially if it may be employed to gain me the friendship of those whose p. 84persons are not only comely and genteel, but whose minds are replenished and adorned with all virtue.” Socrates replied: “But my method forbids to use violence, and I am of opinion that all men fled from the wretch Scylla, because she detained them by force: whereas the Syrens did no violence to any man, and employed only their tuneful voices to detain those who passed near them, so that all stopped to hear, and suffered themselves to be insensibly charmed by the music of their songs.” “Be sure,” said Critobulus, “that I will use no violence to them whose friendship I would gain, and therefore delay no longer to teach me your art.” “Will you give me your word likewise,” said Socrates, “that you will not even give them a kiss?” “I promise you,” said Critobulus, “I will not, unless they are very beautiful persons.” “You mistake the matter,” replied Socrates; “the beautiful permit not those liberties; but the ugly grant them freely enough, because they know very well that should any beauty be ascribed to them, it is only in consideration of that of the soul.” “I will not transgress in this point,” said Critobulus; “only impart to me the secret you know to gain friends.”
“When you would contract a friendship with any one,” said Socrates, “you must give me leave to tell him that you have a great esteem for him, and that you desire to be his friend.” “With all my heart,” answered Critobulus; “for sure no man can wish ill to a man who esteems him.” “And if I add besides,” continued Socrates, “that because you set a great value on his merit you have much affection for his person, will you not take it amiss?” “Not at all,” said Critobulus; “for I am sensible we have a great kindness for those who bear us goodwill.” “I may, then,” said p. 85Socrates, “speak in that manner to those whom you desire to love: but will you likewise give me leave to advance that your greatest pleasure is to have good friends, that you take great care of them, that you behold their good actions with as much joy as if you yourself had performed them, and that you rejoice at their good fortune as much as at your own: that you are never weary when you are serving them, and that you believe it the glory of a man of honour to surpass his friends in benefits, and his enemies in valour? By this means I think I shall be very useful to you in procuring you good friends.” “Why do you ask me leave,” said Critobulus, “as if you might not say of me whatever you please?” “No, indeed,” answered Socrates, “for I remember what Aspasia once said, that match-makers are successful in their business when they tell truth of the persons in whose behalf they court, but that the marriages made by their lies are unfortunate, because they who are deceived hate one another, and hate yet more the person that put them together. And therefore, for the same reason, I think I ought not to tell lies in your praise.” “You are then so far only my friend,” replied Critobulus, “that if I have any good qualities to make myself be esteemed, you will assist me; if not, you will invent nothing in my behalf.” “And do you think,” said Socrates, “that I should do you more service in giving you false praises, that are not your due, than by exhorting you to merit the praise of all men? If you doubt of this, consider the consequences of it. If, for instance, I should tell the owner of a ship that you are an excellent pilot, and he upon that should give you the conduct of the vessel, what hopes could you have that you should not perish? Or if I should say, publicly, that you are an experienced p. 86general, or a great politician, and if you, by that character which I should unjustly have obtained for you, should be promoted to the supreme magistracy, to what dangers would you expose your own life, and the fortune of the State? Or if I should make any private person believe that you were a good economist, and he should trust you afterwards with the care of his family, would not you be the ruin of his estate, and expose yourself to ridicule and contempt? Which is as much as to say, Critobulus, that the shortest and surest way to live with honour in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be: and if you observe, you will find that all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them. Take my advice, then, and labour to acquire them: but if you are of a different opinion, pray let me know it.” “I might well be ashamed,” answered Critobulus, “to contradict you: for no good nor solid objection can be brought against so rational an assertion.”
CHAPTER VII. SOCRATES SHOWETH ARISTARCHUS HOW TO GET RID OF POVERTY.
Socrates had an extreme tenderness for his friends, and if through imprudence they fell into any misfortune, he endeavoured to comfort them by his good counsels; if they laboured under poverty he did all he could to relieve them, teaching all men that they ought mutually to assist one another in necessity. I will set down some examples of his behaviour in these occasions.
Meeting Aristarchus, who looked very dejected, he p. 87said to him, “I see, Aristarchus, that something troubles you, but impart the cause of your grief to your friends, and perhaps we may comfort you.” “Indeed,” said he, “I am in great affliction; for since the late troubles, many persons having fled for shelter to the Piraeus, it has so fallen out that my sisters, nieces, and cousins have all thrown themselves upon me, so that I have no less than fourteen of them to maintain. You know very well that we receive no profit of our lands, the enemies being masters of the open country; our houses in the city are uninhabited, there being at present very little company in Athens; nobody will buy any goods; no man will lend money upon any interest whatever, and I believe we may as soon take it up in the middle of the streets as find where to borrow it. And I am much concerned that I shall not be able to assist my relations whom I see ready to perish, while it is impossible for me to maintain them in the present scarcity of all things.” Socrates having heard him patiently, said to him, “How comes it to pass that Ceramon, who has so many persons in his family, finds means not only to maintain them, but likewise to enrich himself by the profit he makes of them, and that you are afraid of starving to death, because you have a great many in your family?” “The reason,” answered Aristarchus, “is this, Ceramon has none but slaves to take care of, and I am to provide for persons who are free.” Socrates went on: “For which have you most esteem, for Ceramon’s slaves, or for the persons who are at your house?” “There is no comparison between them,” said Aristarchus. “Is it not then a shameful thing,” replied Socrates, “that Ceramon should grow rich by means of those whom you acknowledge to be p. 88of less value, and that you should grow poor and be reduced to straits, though you keep men of condition in your house, whom you value more?” “By no means,” said Aristarchus, “there is a wide difference betwixt the two; the slaves that Ceramon keeps follow some trades, but the persons I have with me have had a liberal education and follow none.” “May not he,” replied Socrates, “who knows how to do anything that is useful be said to know a trade?” “Yes, certainly.” “And are not,” continued Socrates, “oatmeal, bread, the clothes of men and women, cassocks, coats, and other the like manufactures, things very useful?” “Without doubt.” “And do not the persons at your house know how to make any of these things?” “On the contrary,” said Aristarchus, “I believe they know how to make all of them.” “What are you then afraid of,” added Socrates? “Why do you complain of poverty, since you know how to get rich? Do not you observe how wealthy Nausicides is become, what numerous herds he is master of, and what vast sums he lends the Republic? Now what made this man so rich? Why, nothing but one of those manufactures we mentioned, that of making oatmeal. You see, too, that Cirthes keeps all his family, and lives at his ease upon what he has got by being a baker. And how doth Demeas, of the village of Colyttus, get his livelihood? By making cassocks. What makes Menon live so comfortably? His cloak manufacture. And are not most of the inhabitants of Megara in good circumstances enough by the trade which they drive of coats and short jackets?” “I grant all this,” said Aristarchus, “but still there is a difference betwixt these persons and me: for, whereas, they have with them some barbarians whom they have bought, and compel to work what p. 89brings them in gain; I, for my part, keep only ladies and gentlemen at my house, persons who are free, and some of them my own relations. Now would you have me to set them to work?” “And because they are free and your relations,” said Socrates, “do you think they ought to do nothing but eat and sleep? Do you observe that they, who live thus idle and at their ease, lead more comfortable lives than others? Do you think them more content, more cheerful, that is to say, more happy than those who employ themselves in any of those manufactures we have mentioned, or in whatever else tends to the utility or convenience of life? Do you imagine that idleness and laziness contribute toward our learning things necessary; that they can enable us to retain those things we have already learnt; that they help to strengthen the body or keep it in health; that they can assist us to get riches, or keep what we have got already; and do you believe that labour and industry are good for nothing? Why did your ladies learn what you say they know. Did they believe them to be useless things, and had they resolved never to put them in practice? Or, on the contrary, was it with design to employ themselves in those matters, and to get something by them? Is it a greater piece of wisdom to sit still and do nothing, than to busy oneself in things that are of use in life, and that turn to account? And is it not more reasonable for a man to work than to be with his arms across, thinking how he shall do to live? Shall I tell you my mind, Aristarchus? Well, then, I am of opinion that in the condition you are in you cannot love your guests, nor they you for this reason, that you, on the one hand, feel they are a burden to you, and they, on the other, perceive you uneasy and discontented on their p. 90account. And it is to be feared that the discontent will increase on both sides, and that the sense of past favours will wear off; but when you set them to work you will begin to love them, because they will bring you some profit; and when they find that you regard them with more complacency they will not fail to have more love for you. The remembrance of your kindnesses will be more grateful to them, and the obligations they have to you will be the greater. In a word, you will be kinder relations and better friends. Indeed, if what they were to do was a thing worthy of blame, it would be better to die than to think of it; but what they can do is honourable, and becoming of their sex, and whoever knows how to do a thing well will acquit himself of it with honour and pleasure. Therefore defer no longer to make the proposal to them, since it will be so advantageous to all of you, and be assured they will receive it with joy and pleasure.” “Good God! what a fine scheme you have proposed! Indeed, I cannot but approve of it; nay, it has made such a wonderful impression on my mind, that whereas I was lately against borrowing money at all, because I saw that when I had spent it I should not be in a condition to repay it, I am now resolved to go try where I can take some up upon any terms, to buy tools and other materials to set ourselves to work.”
What was proposed was forthwith executed. Aristarchus bought what he wanted; he laid in a provision of wool, and the ladies worked from morning to night. This occupation diverted their melancholy, and, instead of the uneasiness there was before between them and Aristarchus, they began to live in a reciprocal satisfaction. The ladies loved him as their protector, and p. 91he considered them as persons who were very useful and necessary to him.
To conclude, some time afterwards Aristarchus came to see Socrates, and related the whole matter to him with great content, and told him the women began to complain that none but he was idle. “Why do you not put them in mind,” said Socrates, “of the fable of the dog? For, in the days when beasts could speak, according to the fable, the sheep said to her master, ‘You are a strange man; we yield you wool, lambs, and cheeses, and yet you give us nothing but what we can get upon the ground; and the dog, who brings you in no profit, is kindly used, for you feed him with the same bread you eat yourself.’ The dog, overhearing this complaint, answered her: ‘It is not without reason that I am used so well. It is I who protect you; it is I who hinder thieves from taking you away, and wolves from sucking your blood. If I were not always keeping watch about you, you would not dare so much as to go to feed.’ This answer was the reason that the sheep yielded freely to the dog the honour they pretended to before. In like manner do you also let these ladies know that it is you who are their guardian and protector, and that you watch over them for their safety with as much care as a faithful and courageous dog watcheth over a herd committed to his charge. Tell them that because of you no man dares hurt them, and that it is by your means that they live at ease and in safety.”
p. 92CHAPTER VIII. SOCRATES PERSUADES EUTHERUS TO ABANDON HIS FORMER WAY OF LIVING, AND TO BETAKE HIMSELF TO SOME MORE USEFUL AND HONOURABLE EMPLOYMENT.
Another time, meeting with Eutherus, one of his old friends, whom he had not seen for a great while before, he inquired of him from whence he came? “At present,” answered Eutherus, “I come not from abroad; but towards the end of the war I returned from a voyage I had made, for, after having lost all the estate I had upon the frontiers, and my father having left me nothing in Attica, I was forced to work for my living, and I believe it better to do so than to be troublesome to others; besides, I can no longer borrow anything, because I have nothing left to mortgage.” “And how much longer,” said Socrates, “do you think you shall be able to work for your living?” “Alas! but a short while,” answered Eutherus. “Nevertheless,” replied Socrates, “when you come to be old it will cost you something to maintain yourself, and yet you will not then be able to earn anything.” “You say very true.” “You had best, then,” continued Socrates, “employ yourself now in business that will enable you to lay by something for your old age, and get into the service of some rich man, who has occasion for an economist, to have the inspection over his workmen, to gather in his fruits, to preserve what belongs to him, that he may reward you for the service you do him.” “I should find it very difficult,” replied Eutherus, “to submit to be a slave.” “Yet,” said Socrates, “the magistrates in republics, and all that are in employments, p. 93are not, therefore, reputed slaves; on the contrary, they are esteemed honourable.” “Be that as it will,” said Eutherus, “I can never think of entering into any office where I might be liable to blame, for I would not like to be censured by another.” “But where,” said Socrates, “will you find any employment in which a man is absolutely perfect, and altogether free from blame? For it is very difficult to be so exact as not to fail sometimes, and even though we should not have failed, it is hard to escape the censure of bad judges; and I should think it a very odd and surprising thing if in that very employment wherein you say you are now engaged you were so dexterous and expert as that no man should find anything amiss.
“What you are, therefore, to observe is to avoid those who make it their business to find fault without reason, and to have to do with more equitable persons; to undertake what you can actually perform, to reject what you find yourself unfit to do; and when you have taken in hand to do anything, to accomplish it in a manner the most excellent and perfect you can. Thus you will be less subject to be blamed, will find relief to your poverty, lead an easier life, be out of danger, and will sufficiently provide for the necessities of your old age.”
p. 94CHAPTER IX. IN WHAT MANNER SOCRATES TAUGHT HIS FRIEND CRITO TO RID HIMSELF OF SOME INFORMERS, WHO TOOK THE ADVANTAGE OF HIS EASY TEMPER.
One day Crito, happening to meet Socrates, complained to him that it was very difficult for a man who would keep what he had to live in Athens; “for,” said he, “I am now sued by some men, though I never did them the least injury, but only because they know that I had rather give them a little money than embroil myself in the troubles of law.” Socrates said to him, “Do you keep dogs to hinder the wolves from coming at your flocks?” “You need not doubt but I do,” answered Crito. “Ought you not likewise,” replied Socrates, “to keep a man who were able to drive away all those that trouble you without cause?” “I would with all my heart,” said Crito, “but that I fear that in the end he, too, would turn against me.” “Why so?” said Socrates; “is it not better to serve a man like you, and to receive favours from him, than to have him for an enemy? You may be certain that there are in this city many men who would think themselves very happy to be honoured with your friendship.”
After this they happened to see a certain person name Archedemus, who was a man of very good parts, eloquent, and extremely skilful in the management of affairs; but withal very poor and in a low condition, for he was not of that sordid disposition to take all he could get, by what means soever, but he was a lover of justice and of honest men, and abhorred to p. 95make rich, or to raise himself by informing and backbiting; for he held that nothing was more base than that wretched practice of those miscreants called sycophants or informers. Crito cast an eye upon him, and as often as they brought him any corn, or wine, or oil, or any other thing from his country-houses, he sent him some of it; when he offered sacrifices he invited him to the feasts, and showed him many civilities of the like nature. Archedemus, seeing the doors of that house open to him at all times, and that he always found so favourable a reception, laid aside all his former dependences, and trusted himself wholly to Crito; then he made it his business immediately to inquire into the characters of those sycophants who had slandered Crito or informed against him, and found them to be guilty of many crimes, and that they had a great number of enemies. This encouraged him to take them to task, and he prosecuted one of them for a crime which would have subjected him to a corporal punishment, or at least to a pecuniary mulct. This fellow, who knew his case to be bad, and that he could not justify himself, employed all sorts of stratagems to get rid of Archedemus, who nevertheless would not quit his hold till the other had discharged Crito, and given him money besides, in name of trouble and charges. He managed several of his affairs with like success, which made Crito be thought happy in having him; and as when a shepherd has an excellent dog, the other shepherds are glad to bring their flocks near his that they may be safe likewise, so several of Crito’s friends began to make their court to him, and begged him to lend them Archedemus to defend them. He, for his part, was glad to oblige Crito; and it was observed at length that not only Crito lived p. 96undisturbed, but all his friends likewise; and if any one reproached Archedemus that self-interest had made him his master’s creature, and to adore him and be so faithful and zealous in his service he would answer him thus:—“Which of the two do you think most dishonourable—to do services to men of quality from whom we have received favours, and to enter into their friendship to declare war against bad men, or to endeavour to prejudice men of honour, and to make them our enemies, that bad men may be our friends?” From thenceforward Crito contracted a strict friendship with Archedemus, and all his friends had likewise a great respect for him.
CHAPTER X. SOCRATES ADVISES DIODORUS TO DO JUSTICE TO THE MERIT OF HERMOGENES, AND TO ACCEPT OF HIS SERVICE AND FRIENDSHIP.
Socrates, meeting one day with Diodorus, addressed him thus:—“If one of your slaves ran away, would you give yourself any trouble to find him?” “Yes, certainly,” answered he; “and I would give public notice, and promise a reward to any that brought him to me.” “And if one of them were sick, would you take care of him, and send for physicians to endeavour to save his life?” “Without doubt I would.” “And if you saw,” replied Socrates, “one of your friends—that is to say, a person who renders you a thousand times more service than a slave, reduced to extreme want—ought you not to relieve him? I speak this to you on account of Hermogenes. You very well know p. 97he is not ungrateful, and that he would scorn to receive the least favour from you and not return you the like. You know likewise that a great number of slaves are not to be valued like one man who serves willingly, who serves with zeal and affection, and who is not only capable of doing what he is desired, but who can likewise of himself think of many things that may be of service to us; who reasons well, who foresees what may happen, and from whom we may expect to receive good advice. Now, the best managers hold it as a maxim that when we find anything of value to be sold cheap we ought to buy it. Think of it, therefore, for as times now go you may procure yourself many friends at a cheap rate.” “You say right,” replied Diodorus, “and therefore pray send Hermogenes to me.” “Excuse me in that,” answered Socrates, “you would do as well to go to him yourself as to send for him.”
This discourse was the reason that Diodorus went to Hermogenes, and for a small gratification obliged him to be his friend; after which Hermogenes took particular care to please Diodorus, and sought all opportunities of serving him and of giving him content.