We have seen that in the period from Thales until the middle of the fifth century the original "inquiry" of the Ionians became gradually differentiated into various branches of inquiry and various methods. True that a "philosopher" — a word only just beginning to come into use — was expected to be an astronomer and a mathematician as well as a logician; yet still the distinction between philosophy and science, dialectic and experiment is becoming clearer. Empedocles and Anaxagoras had conducted experiments with inflated skins in order to prove that air is corporeal. Medicine was beginning to make progress along lines which we should call "scientific." Xenophanes insists that his art is "useful." And on the other side we find, among the Pythagoreans, in Parmenides and others, an almost religious view of the contemplative life, a respect for "pure" thought as the highest activity of which man is capable. We find also that both what we may call the "scientific" and the "philosophical" attitudes are tending to come into conflict with conventional mythologic religion.
The question is often asked why it was that the Greeks, who had invented so rapidly so many of the basic principles of science, never went further with their application. Important discoveries, certainly, were made in astronomy, mechanics and medicine; but, on the whole, the tendency is towards theory and speculation and away from experiment and observation. In the end the magnificently constructed system of Aristotle, invested with the authority of St. Thomas Aquinas, becomes a positive impediment not only to science but even to the "inquiry" with which the whole process began.
The usual answer to this question is that the Greeks had "an aristocratic culture"; they would not soil their hands in a laboratory; they thought experiment an occupation only fitted for slaves. I do not believe that this answer is correct. Among many arguments against it one may adduce the activities of the extremely "aristocratic" Empedocles. Aristophanes, certainly, makes fun of the whole idea of scientific experiment. He was pleasing an audience who liked to hear jokes about what we too, before our scientists became so powerful, liked to think of as "the absent-minded professor". It is the same attitude as that which we find in Swift's "Voyage to Laputa," and it derives from the belief not that science is "slavish," but that it is unimportant when compared with other activities.
In particular it seemed to the citizens of the new democracies of the fifth century much less important than politics. An Athenian, with his energy and intellectual curiosity, was eager indeed to explain the world and also to change it. But explanation was the work of philosophy, change of politics. And so the abstract principles, when they were "applied" at all, were applied not to the development of science but to the technique of living successfully in a political society.
The teaching of this technique was, in the middle and end of the fifth century, the work of traveling scholars, theorists and educators who are known as "sophists." They can scarcely be called philosophers and so will only concern us here in so far as they exercised an effect on the climate of opinion in which philosophy was to grow. An excellent account of their admirable educative work will be found in Werner Jaeger's Paideia. They were the first grammarians, the first teachers of the art of persuasive prose, the first systematizers, one may say the first humanists. Though not, strictly speaking; philosophers themselves, they were connected with the philosophy both of the past and of the future. Gorgias of Leontini, for instance — a special favorite in Athens — had been a pupil of Empedocles. He had written a treatise in which he maintained (1) that nothing exists, (2) that if anything does exist, it cannot be known, (3) that if it can be known, the knowledge cannot be communicated by language. He then, as an expert in balanced prose, devoted himself to the practical task of showing how prose can be, if not informative, at least influential. And this new art of rhetoric is far more than merely a question of style. It is necessary to find the right argument for the right person at the right occasion. Psychology is involved. One has to know what, in one's audience, can be attributed to "nature" and what to environment. The character of the individual takes on a new importance and so does the whole study of morality whether "natural" or imposed. Great systematic learning, a form of technique and the application of this technique to the practical problem of living are the characteristics of the sophists. One of the greatest of these, Protagoras, is credited with the statement "Man is the measure of all things." It is characteristic of the philosophical and religious skepticism of the movement that with regard to God he said that he was unable to state definitely either that He existed or that He did not exist.
Now, though it is quite true that the sophists were remarkable educators and that many of them had not only high cultural ideals but respectable ideas about morals, there was obviously, as Socrates perceived, a strange contradiction between their claim to be able to teach men how to live successfully and their total skepticism as to the place of man in the scheme of things. The contradiction becomes most obvious in questions of ethics. If man is really the measure and if success is the criterion, it is difficult to see why a particular man should not commit any number of crimes as long as he can get away with them. And when the sophists openly boasted that with the aid of their specialized technique it was possible "to make the worse cause appear the better," people were bound, while accepting the fact, to wonder what had happened to the old ideas of "justice," "truth," etc., which these modern thinkers seemed to be dismissing as the outworn and meaningless conceptions of poets and mythographers. Is there, or need there be, any relationship at all between power and justice? Fifth-century literature is forever harping on this problem, and, as the influence of the sophists grows and the events of history take place, the problem becomes more pressing. It is stated with a peculiar and terrifying force by Thucydides in his Melian Dialogue , though one should add that the problem is present to Thucydides throughout his History. Another aspect of it concerns the relation between "law " and "human nature." In his descriptions of the revolution at Corcyra and of the effects of the plague at Athens Thucydides observes, what others have noted since, that in times when the restraint of law and the conventions of morality are removed, human nature can become something almost indescribably vile and savage. Yet the same human nature, in its well-organized political form, can deserve the splendid words which the same author puts into the mouth of Pericles as he surveys the greatness, the energy, the versatility, intelligence and charity of Athenian civilization.
Socrates, like Thucydides, was "in love with" Athens. Like him he was thoroughly well acquainted with the "new learning." He too had seen and known Athens at her greatest and at her lowest. He too was concerned with the moral problem of the time. It was a problem which bears some resemblance to that of our own days. The optimism, the belief in "progress," the faith in the value of a "scientific" approach to life seemed somehow to have let down the believers. The tremendous achievements of the intellect, the triumph of democracy, the wide spreading of education had not, as it appeared, made men better; indeed it could be claimed that they had made men worse. Socrates, unlike some of our modern prophets, concluded that what was required was not less but more education, not a retreat from the intellect but a more thorough and, in a sense, impassioned use of it.
Socrates' effect on philosophy was as revolutionary as had been that of Thales and the Ionians. It is difficult to describe this effect in a few sentences and indeed it is impossible to say what it was in particular which made this Athenian a figure of such importance. Socrates was not the first to apply abstract reasoning to the problems of conduct and of society. As we have seen, he lived in an age when this was all the fashion. Nor did he invent "dialectic." He merely employed the method of Zeno in a different way. Nor was he the first to assert the dignity and value of the philosophic life. Pythagoras and Empedocles had already done this, and Pythagoras seems also to have inspired among his disciples the same veneration as Socrates did. Yet still, and in spite of the notorious difficulty in discovering from the accounts of Plato and of Xenophon what was "the true Socrates," it is evident that in him we are confronted with a character quite unlike any that had previously appeared. He is extraordinary through being ordinary, universal through being Athenian, religious through a method of skepticism, wise through a profession of ignorance. Yet in his character, his conduct and his opinions there are no contradictions. He is all of a piece. His personality is always imposing and one feels that even so great an artist as Plato could not, even if he had wished to do so, have distorted it. It is a personality which has impressed itself on posterity as has the personality of no other philosopher. Even the physical appearance is familiar to us. We envisage a snub-nosed man of very great physical toughness and strength, a sight that would be forbidding if it were not for the remarkable charm, cordiality and sense of humor which lit up both his face and his conversation. He was quite indifferent to luxury, danger in war, snobbism or moral intimidation in peace. He was far from indifferent to his friends, to his city and to the laws of that city even when they had unjustly condemned him to death. Both in his own day and afterwards he has been represented as a saint and as a menace to society. He wrote, so far as we know, nothing.
And when we attempt to estimate his importance in the history of Greek philosophy, we are continually forced to observe that the real importance is in the personality itself rather than in any easily definable doctrine or logical method. It was the personality which impressed such diverse characters as Plato and Xenophon, and which since then has aroused the fervent adoration of Erasmus and the hatred of Nietzsche.
As for his method of thought and the doctrines which he propounded, they are, when looked at from one point of view, characterized by the most thoroughgoing intellectualism; looked at from another point of view, they appear almost as elements in a religious faith.
It seems certain that Socrates himself considered that he had what we should call a "vocation" and even that, at a definite period of his life, towards the beginning of middle age, he had an experience which can be described almost as a "conversion." In his youth he had been a physicist and was associated with Archelaus, a pupil of Anaxagoras. It is noteworthy that in the Clouds of Aristophanes he is caricatured as a crack-brained scientist rather than as a moral reformer or as a subversive influence. Some time shortly before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, when he was approaching the age of forty, a friend of his inquired of the Delphic oracle who was the wisest man alive. The oracle replied that no one was wiser than Socrates: Why the oracle should have paid this compliment to an obscure Athenian who, up to this time, seems to have done nothing remarkable remains a complete mystery. It appears that Socrates himself was as astonished as anyone else by the God's reply. But he took the reply seriously and undoubtedly believed in his divine mission. He decided, with characteristic "irony," that his only claim to wisdom was that, unlike others, he was profoundly conscious of his own ignorance, and he regarded it as his duty to reveal to others, by means of his own particular method of cross-examination, exactly how ignorant they really were. Not unnaturally he made enemies as well as friends.
His cross-examination was a development and clarification of the dialectic of Zeno. First he would take the "hypothesis" of the person under examination — a conventional definition, say, of courage or of justice — and, by testing it with the aid of examples taken from real life, would prove it to be inadequate or self-contradictory. The process would lead to another "hypothesis" which would be examined in its turn and, as a rule, also rejected. So far, the method can be described as negative. But its aim is very positive indeed. With charm, with irony, but with a quite tremendous intensity of emotion and of thought Socrates is really trying to find out what "courage" or "justice" is. He will test and, often, reject any answer that is proposed; but he is not engaging in "eristics"; he believes that there is an answer and he believes too that it is of the utmost importance to find it. Aristotle declares that Socrates .is important and original for two reasons: the definition of general concepts and the use of the inductive method. This is true, but only part of the truth. There is also the religious fervor of his faith — a faith in the existence of an intellectual and moral order and in the possibility of discovering it. It is from this faith that proceed his paradoxical teachings that "Virtue is knowledge" and that "No one does wrong [makes a mistake] voluntarily." He means, presumably, that if we were able to see "the good" clearly, it would be impossible for us not to choose it in preference to "the bad" and he is, of course, realist enough to know that most people do not see "the good" with the necessary clarity. Hence, to him, the necessity of further and further inquiry, of a training (an askesis) of the mind as thorough as any ever taken up for the body by an Olympic athlete. Those who, as a result of this training, really "know" can neither make a mistake nor want to do so.
Intellectualism could scarcely go further. Nor, on the other hand, could faith. To us the creed, if not the method, may appear that of a visionary; yet everything we know of the real Socrates must make us certain that "visionary" is not a word that could be applied to him. He is most firmly rooted as a citizen of a particular state at a particular time. He never left Athens except to fight as an infantryman in her foreign campaigns. His mission is specifically to the Athenians and the moral philosophy of which he is the inventor is, very largely, a political philosophy. There is a sense in which he, like the sophists of whom he so greatly disapproved, made man the measure of all things. He seems to have given up his early interest in physics, though there was a time when he was momentarily impressed by Anaxagoras' idea of Nous as the cause of everything. This seemed to him to make sense; but he was dismayed when he discovered that Anaxagoras only used Nous as an explanation when no more "scientific" one occurred to him. What he himself was looking for was not the original "stuff" out of which everything was made, not an explanation of motion, not even a solution of the controversy between the One and the Many; it was rather some general insight which would show or suggest how all things (and in particular the nature of man in society) had been, were, or could be arranged "for the best." This underlying faith of his was indeed something new. Supported or inspired by this faith, he was able in his critical activities to be at once more devastating and more constructive than the sophists. There was no conventional idea which he was not prepared to "test"; and, since to an Athenian of this age all human life was political, democracy was one of the ideas which he examined. In fact, he was working towards a higher and more efficient concept of the state; but he was condemned by his fellow-citizens in 399 B.C. for corrupting the youth. And, as we have seen, his religious view of life — a view which was to be developed by Plato and Aristotle and which has affected the whole subsequent history of metaphysics — was of a much loftier nature than anything which had preceded it. He was accused of, and condemned for,
"not believing in the gods in which the city believes"
and, in a sense, his accusers were quite right. To the end he remained paradoxical. He had been condemned, he knew, unjustly; but he revered the laws of his city and, when offered an opportunity of escape, refused to take it. His conduct was that of a citizen most exceptionally loyal to his city. Yet he had indicated the existence of a "law" more genuine than that of any political organization.
In the following extracts from Plato's dialogue Gorgias we have a clear example of Socrates' opposition to the "realism" then in the air, to which some sophists gave countenance or even open support. The tough-minded Callicles is speaking:
CALLICLES: ... For the truth is, Socrates, that you, who pretend to be engaged in the pursuit of truth, are appealing now to the popular and vulgar notions of right, which are not natural, but only conventional. Convention and nature are generally at variance with one another: and hence, if a person is too modest to say what he thinks, he is compelled to contradict himself; and you, in your ingenuity perceiving the advantage to be thereby gained, slyly ask of him who is arguing conventionally a question which is to be determined by the rule of nature; and if he is talking of the rule of nature, you slip away to custom; as you did in this very discussion about doing and suffering injustice. When Polus was speaking of the conventionally dishonourable, you assailed him from the point of view of nature; for by the rule of nature, to suffer injustice is the greater disgrace because the greater evil; but conventionally, to do evil is the more disgraceful. For the suffering of injustice is not the part of a man, but of a slave, who indeed had better die than live; since when he is wronged and trampled upon, he is unable to help himself, or any other about whom he cares. The reason, as I conceive, is that the makers of laws are the majority who are weak; and they make laws and distribute praises and censures with a view to themselves and to their own interests; and they terrify the stronger sort of men, and those who are able to get the better of them, in order that they may not get the better of them; and they say, that dishonesty is shameful and unjust; meaning, by the word injustice, the desire of a man to have more than his neighbours; for knowing their own inferiority, I suspect that they are too glad of equality. And therefore the endeavour to have more than the many, is conventionally said to be shameful and unjust, and is called injustice, whereas nature herself intimates that it is just for the better to have more than the worse, the powerful more than the weaker; and in many ways she shows, among men as well as among animals, and indeed among whole cities and races, that justice consists in the superior ruling over and having more than the inferior. For on what principle of justice did Xerxes invade Hellas, or his father the Scythians? (not to speak of numberless other examples). These are the men who act according to nature; yes, by Heaven, and according to the law of nature: not, perhaps, according to that artificial law, which we forge and impose upon our fellows, of whom we take the best and strongest from their youth upwards, and tame them like young lions — charming them with the sound of the voice, and saying to them, that with equality they must be content, and that the equal is the honourable and the just. But if there were a man who had sufficient force, he would shake off and break through, and escape from all this; he would trample under foot all our formulas and spells and charms, and all our laws, sinning against nature; the slave would rise in rebellion and be lord over us, and the light of natural justice would shine forth. And this I take to be the sentiment of Pindar, in the poem in which he says, that
Law is the king of all, mortals as well as immortals;
this, as he says,
makes might to be right, and does violence with high hand.
. . I plainly assert, that he who would truly live ought to allow his desires to wax to the uttermost, and not to chastise them; but when they have grown to their greatest he should have courage and intelligence to minister to them and to satisfy all his longings. And this I affirm to be natural justice and nobility. To this the many cannot attain; and they blame the strong man because they are ashamed of their own weakness, which they desire to conceal, and hence they say that intemperance is base. As I was saying before, they enslave the nobler natures, and being unable to satisfy their pleasures, they praise temperance and justice out of cowardice. For if a man had been originally the son of a king, or had a nature capable of acquiring an empire or a tyranny or exclusive power, what could be more truly base or evil than temperance — to a man like him, I say, who might freely be enjoying every good, and has no one to hinder him, and yet has admitted custom and reason and the opinion of other men to be lords over him? — must not he be in a miserable plight whom the reputation of justice and temperance hinders from giving more to his friends than to his enemies, even though he be a ruler in his city? Nay, Socrates, for you profess to be a votary of the truth, and the truth is this: — that luxury and intemperance and licence, if they are duly supported, are happiness and virtue — all the rest is a mere bauble, custom contrary to nature, fond inventions of men nothing worth.
SOCRATES: There is a noble freedom, Callicles, in your way of approaching the argument; for what you say is what the rest of the world think; but are unwilling to say. And I must beg of you to persevere, that the true rule of human life may become manifest. Tell me, then: — you say, do you not, that in the rightly-developed man the passions ought not to be controlled, but that we should let them grow to the utmost and somehow or other satisfy them, and that this is virtue?
CALLICLES: Yes; that is what I say.
(Continuing the argument, Socrates obliges Callicles to distinguish between what is pleasant and what is good. Is it not true that, where physical health is concerned, what we desire is not always good? If our bodies are diseased, should not some of our desires be checked? Callicles, rudely and reluctantly, agrees that this is so.)
SOCRATES: And does not the same argument hold of the soul, my good sir? While she is in a bad state and is senseless and intemperate and unjust and unholy; her desires ought to be con trolled trolled, and she ought to be prevented from doing anything which does not tend to her own improvement.
SOCRATES: And that will be for her true interests?
CALLICLES: To be sure.
SOCRATES: And controlling her desires is chastising her?
SOCRATES: Then control or chastisement is better for the soul than intemperance or the absence of control, which you were just now preferring?
CALLICLES: I do not understand you, Socrates, and I wish that you would ask some one who does.
SOCRATES: Here is a gentleman who cannot endure to be improved or corrected, as the argument would say.
CALLICLES: I do not heed a word of what you are saying, and have only answered hitherto out of civility to Gorgias.
SOCRATES: What are we to do, then? Shall we break off in the middle?
CALLICLES: That I leave for you to determine.
SOCRATES: Well, but people say that "a tale should have a head and not break off in the middle," and I should not like to have the argument wandering about without a head; please then to go on a little longer, and put the head on.
CALLICLES: How tyrannical you are, Socrates! I wish that you and your arguments would rest, or that you would get someone else to argue with you.
SOCRATES: But who else is willing? — I want to finish the argument.
CALLICLES: Cannot you finish without my help, either talk-ing straight on, or questioning and answering yourself?
SOCRATES: Must I then say with Epicharmus, "two men spoke before, but now one shall be enough"? I suppose that there is absolutely no help. And if I am to carry on the enquiry by myself, I will first of all remark that not only I but all of us should have an ambition to know what is true and what is false in this matter, for the discovery of the truth is a common good. And now I will proceed to argue according to my own notion. But if any of you think that I arrive at conclusions which are untrue you must interpose and refute me, for I do not speak from any knowledge of what I am saying; I am an enquirer like yourselves, and therefore, if my opponent says anything which is of force, I shall be the first to agree with him. I am speaking on the supposition that the argument ought to be completed; but if you think otherwise let us leave off and go our ways.
GORGIAS: I think, Socrates, that we should not go our ways until you have completed the argument; and this appears to me to be the wish of the rest of the company; I myself should very much like to hear what more you have to say.
SOCRATES: I too, Gorgias, should have liked to continue the argument with Callicles; but since you, Callicles, are unwilling to continue, I hope that you will listen and interrupt me if I seem to you to be in error. And if you refute me, I shall not be angry with you as you are with me, but I shall inscribe you as the greatest of benefactors on the tablets of my soul.
CALLICLES: My good friend, never mind me, but get on.
SOCRATES: Listen to me, then, while I recapitulate the argument: — Is the pleasant the same as the good? Not the same. Callicles and I are agreed about that. And is the pleasant to be pursued for the sake of the good? or the good for the sake of the pleasant? The pleasant is to be pursued for the sake of the good. And that is pleasant at the presence of which we are pleased, and that is good at the presence of which we are good? To be sure. And we are good, and all good things whatever are good when some virtue is present in us or them? That, Callicles, is my conviction. But the virtue of each thing, whether body or soul, instrument or creature, when given to them in the best way comes to them not by chance but as the result of the order and truth and art which are imparted to them: Am I not right? I maintain that I am. And is not the virtue of each thing dependent on order or arrangement? Yes, Y say. And that which makes a thing good is the proper order inhering in each thing? That is my view. And is not the soul which has an order of her own better than that which has no order of her own? Certainly. And the soul which has order is orderly? Of course. And that which is orderly is temperate? Assuredly. And the temperate soul is good? No other answer can I give, Callicles dear; have you any?
CALLICLES: Go on, my good fellow.
SOCRATES: Then I shall proceed to add, that if the temperate soul is the good soul, the soul which is in the opposite condition, that is, the foolish and intemperate, is the bad soul. Very true.
And will not the temperate man do what is proper, both in relation to the gods and to men; — for he would not be temperate if he did not? Certainly he will do what is proper. In his relation to other men he will do what is just; and in his relation the gods he will do what is holy; and he who does what is just and holy cannot be other than just and holy? Very true. And he must be courageous, for the duty of a temperate man is not to follow or to avoid what he ought not, but what he ought, whether things or men or pleasures or pains, and patiently to endure when he ought; and therefore, Callicles, the temperate man, being, as we have described, also just and courageous and holy, cannot be other than a perfectly good man, nor can the good man do otherwise than well and perfectly whatever he does; and he who does well must of necessity be happy and blessed, and the evil man who does evil, miserable: now this latter is he whom you were applauding — the intemperate who is the opposite of the temperate. Such is my position which I assert to be true, and if I am right, then I affirm that he who desires to be happy must pursue and practise temperance and run away from intemperance as fast as his legs will carry him: he had better order his life so as not to need punishment; but if either he or any of his friends, whether private individual or city, are in need of punishment, then justice must be done and he must suffer punishment, if he would be happy. This appears to me to be the aim which a man ought to have, and towards which he ought to direct all the energies both of himself and of the state, acting so that he may have temperance and justice present with him and be happy, not suffering his lusts to be unrestrained, and in the never-ending desire to satisfy them leading a robber's life. Such an one is the friend neither of God nor man, for he is incapable of communion, and he who is incapable of communion is also incapable of friendship. And philosophers tell us, Callicles, that communion and friendship and orderliness and temperance and justice bind together heaven and earth and gods and men, and that this universe is therefore called Cosmos or order, not disorder or misrule, my friend. But al-though you are a philosopher you seem to me never to have observed that geometrical equality is mighty, both among gods and men; you think that you ought to cultivate inequality or excess, and do not care about geometry. — Well then, either the principle that the happy are made happy by the possession of justice and temperance, and the miserable miserable by the possession of vice, must be refuted, or, if it is granted, what will be the consequences? All the consequences which I drew before, Callicles, and about which you asked me whether was in earnest when I said that a man ought to accuse himself and his son and his friend if he did anything wrong, and to this end he should use his rhetoric — all those consequences are true. And that which you thought that Polus was led to admit out of modesty is true, viz. that, to do injustice, if more disgraceful than to suffer, is in that degree worse; and the other position, which, according to Polus, Gorgias admitted out of modesty, that he who would truly be a rhetorician ought to be just and have a knowledge of justice, has also turned out to be true. And now, let us proceed in the next place to consider whether you are right in throwing in my teeth that I am unable to help myself or any of my friends or kinsmen, or to save them in the extremity of danger, or that I am like an out-law to whom any one may do what he likes, — he may box my ears, which was a brave saying of yours; or he may take away my goods or banish me, or even do his worst and kill me; and this, as you say, is the height of disgrace. My answer to you is one which has been already often repeated, but may as well be repeated once more. I tell you, Callicles, that to be boxed on the ears wrongfully is not the worst evil which can befall a man, nor to have my face and purse cut open, but that to smite and slay me and mine wrongfully is far more disgraceful and more evil; aye, and to despoil and enslave and pillage, or in any way at all to wrong me and mine, is far more disgraceful and evil to the doer of the wrong than to me who am the sufferer. . . . Do not repeat the old story — that he who likes will kill me and get my money; for then I shall have to repeat the old answer, that he will be a bad man and will kill the good, and that money will be of no use to him, but that he will wrongly use that which he wrongly took, and if wrongly, basely, and if basely, hurtfully.
CALLICLES: How confident you are, Socrates, that you will never come to harm! you seem to think that you are living in another country, and can never be brought into a court of justice, as you very likely may be brought by some miserable and mean person.
SOCRATES: Then I must indeed be a fool, Callicles, if I do not know that in the Athenian State any man may suffer anything. And if I am brought to trial and incur the dangers of which you speak, he will be a villain who brings me to trial — of that I am very sure, for no good man would accuse the innocent. Nor shall I be surprised if I am put to death. Shall I tell you why I anticipate this?
CALLICLES: By all means.
SOCRATES: I think that I am the only or almost the only Athenian living who practises the true art of politics; I am the only politician of my time. Now, seeing that when I speak I speak not with any view of pleasing, and that I look to what is best and not to what is most pleasant, having no mind to use those arts and graces which you recommend, I shall have nothing to say in the justice court. And you might argue with me, as I was arguing with Polus: — I shall be tried just as a physician would be tried in a court of little boys at the indictment of the cook. What would he reply in such a case, if some one were to accuse him, saying,
"O my boys, many evil things has this man done to you: he is the death of you, especially of the younger ones among you, cutting and burning and starving, and suffocating you, until you know not what to do; he gives you the bitterest potions, and compels you to hunger and thirst. How unlike the variety of meats and sweets on which I feasted you!"
What do you suppose that the physician would reply when he found himself in such a predicament? If he told the truth he could only say: "All this, my boys, I did for your health," and then would there not just be a clamour among a jury like that? How they would cry out!
CALLICLES: I dare say.
SOCRATES: Would he not be utterly at a loss for a reply?
CALLICLES: He certainly would.
SOCRATES: And I too shall be treated in the same way, as I well know, if I am brought before the court. For I shall not be able to rehearse to the people the pleasures which I have procured for them, and which, although I am not disposed to envy either the procurers or enjoyers of them, are deemed by them to be benefits and advantages. And if any one says that I corrupt young men, and perplex their minds, or that I speak evil of old men, and use bitter words towards them, whether in private or public, it is useless for me to reply, as I truly might: — "All this I do for the sake of justice, and with a view to your interest, my judges, and of that only." And therefore there is no saying what may happen to me.
CALLICLES: And do you think, Socrates, that a man who is thus defenceless is in a good position?
SOCRATES: Yes, Callicles, if he have that defence, which you have often admitted that he should have; if he be his own defence, and have never said or done anything wrong, either in respect of gods or men; for that has often been acknowledged by us to be the best sort of defence. And if any one could convict me of inability to defend myself or others after this sort, I should blush for shame, whether I was convicted before many, or before a few, or by myself alone; and if I died because I have no powers of flattery or rhetoric, I am very sure that you would not find me repining at death. For no man but an utter fool and coward is afraid of death itself, but he is afraid of doing wrong. For to go to the world below having one's soul full of injustice is the last and worst of all evils.