And then, when Critias told him that I knew the remedy [for headache], he (Charmides) looked into my eyes in the most extraordinary way and made as to ask me a question, and everyone in the palaistra moved round us to form a circle—then, my noble fellow, I saw inside his cloak and started to catch on fire and was no longer in control of myself, and I esteemed Cydias the wisest in erotic matters. For he said, by way of advice to another on the matter of a beautiful boy: “Take care lest a fawn coming before a lion be caught as a portion of meat”; for I thought that I myself had been caught by such a creature. But nonetheless when he asked if I knew the drug for the headache, with difficulty I somehow answered that I did know it. (tr. Thomas M. Tuozzo)
For instance, the factor that has the most bearing on health and sickness, and on moral goodness and badness, is whether or not there’s proportion between soul and body, but we don’t consider these things at all. We fail to see that when a relatively weak and frail body is the vehicle for a soul that has no weakness or pettiness in it, or when the combination of the two of them is imbalanced in the opposite way, the creature as a whole lacks proportion in the most important respects, and therefore lacks beauty. However, for those capable of seeing it, a creature whose soul and body are in balance is a vision of the utmost beauty and attractiveness. Think, for example, of a body which is out of proportion with itself, in the sense that it has one leg longer than the other or some other abnormality: it’s not just that it’s ugly, but also that it makes a lot of trouble for itself in a work context, as its lurching gait exhausts it and makes it liable to all sorts of injuries and accidents. The same goes, we’re bound to think, for the complex of soul and body that we call a living creature. Suppose its soul is stronger than its body. When the soul gets abnormally passionate, it makes the whole body quiver from within and fills it with illnesses; and when it’s intent upon study and research, it causes the body to waste away. Or again, when it’s involved in teaching or disputation, in public or in a private house, surrounded by arguments and competitiveness, it heats the body and churns it up, and induces fluxes, which fool most so-called healers into blaming the innocent party. On the other hand, the balance of power might lie with the body rather than the soul, so that a strong body has a petty, weak mind attached to it. If so, of the two fundamental desires that human beings possess—the bodily desire for food and the desire of the most divine part of us for knowledge… well, when the impulses of the stronger part win and reinforce their favourite, they turn the soul into something obtuse, dull, and forgetful, and give it the worst of all diseases, ignorance. (tr. Robin Waterfield)
[SOCR.] You are imposing a good many tasks upon me; however, if it will give you pleasure, I am willing.
HERM. It will give me pleasure.
[SOCR.] What, then, do you wish first? Shall we discuss the sun (Ἥλιος), as you mentioned it first?
[HERM.] By all means.
[SOCR.] I think it would be clearer if we were to use the Doric form of the name. The Dorians call it Ἅλιος. Now ἅλιος might be derived from collecting (ἁλίζειν) men when he rises, or because he always turns (ἀεὶ εἱλεῖν) about the earth in his course, or because he variegates the products of the earth, for variegate is identical with αἰολεῖν.
[HERM.] And what of the moon, Selene?
[SOCR.] That name appears to put Anaxagoras in an uncomfortable position.
[HERM.] How so?
[SOCR.] Why, it seems to have anticipated by many years the recent doctrine of Anaxagoras, that the moon receives its light from the sun.
[HERM.] How is that?
[SOCR.] Σέλας (gleam) and φῶς (light) are the same thing.
[SOCR.] Now the light is always new and old about the moon, if the Anaxagoreans are right; for they say the sun, in its continuous course about the moon, always sheds new light upon it, and the light of the previous month persists.
[SOCR.] The moon is often called Σελαναία.
[SOCR.] Because it has always a new and old gleam (σέλα νέον τε καὶ ἕνον) the very most fitting name for it would be Σελαενονεοάεια, which has been compressed into Σελαναία.
[HERM.] That is a regular opéra bouffe name, Socrates. But what have you to say of the month (μήν) and the stars?
[SOCR.] The word “month” (μείς) would be properly pronounced μείης, from μειοῦσθαι, “to grow less,” and I think the stars (ἄστερα) get their name from ἀστραπή (lightning). But ἀστραπή, because it turns our eyes upwards (τὰ ὦπα ἀναστρέφει), would be called ἀναστρωπή, which is now pronounced more prettily ἀστραπή.
[HERM.] And what of πῦρ (fire) and ὕδωρ (water)?
[SOCR.] Πῦρ is too much for me. It must be that either the muse of Euthyphro has deserted me or this is a very difficult word. (tr. Harold North Fowler)
SOCR. Well, Crito, it would be absurd if at my age I were disturbed because I must die now.
CRIT. Other men as old, Socrates, become involved in similar misfortunes, but their age does not in the least prevent them from being disturbed by their fate.
SOCR. That is true. But why have you come so early?
CRIT. To bring news, Socrates, sad news, though apparently not sad to you, but sad and grievous me and all your friends, and to few of them, I think, so grievous as to me.
SOCR. What is this news? Has the ship come from Delos, at the arrival of which I am to die?
CRIT. It has not exactly come, but I think it will come today from the reports of some men who have come from Sunium and left it there. Now it is clear from what they say that it will come today, and so tomorrow, Socrates, your life must end.
SOCR. Well, Crito, good luck be with us! If this is the will of the gods, so be it. However, I do not think it will come today.
CRIT. What is your reason for not thinking so?
SOCR. I will tell you. I must die on the day after the ship comes in, must I not?
CRIT. So those say who have charge of these matters.
SOCR. Well, I think it will not come in today, but tomorrow. And my reason for this is a dream which I had a little while ago in the course of this night. And perhaps you let me sleep just at the right time.
CRIT. What was the dream?
SOCR. I dreamed that a beautiful, fair woman, clothed in white raiment, came to me and called me and said, “Socrates,
on the third day thou wouldst come to fertile Phthia.”
CRIT. A strange dream, Socrates.
SOCR. No, a clear one, at any rate, I think, Crito.
CRIT. Too clear, apparently. But, my dear Socrates, even now listen to me and save yourself. Since, if you die, it will be no mere single misfortune to me, but I shall lose a friend such as I can never find again, and besides, many persons who do not know you and me well will think I could have saved you if I had been willing to spend money, but that I would not take the trouble. And yet what reputation could be more disgraceful than that of considering one’s money of more importance than one’s friends? For most people will not believe that we were eager to help you to go away from here, but you refused. (tr. Harold North Fowler)
Some men, once they had been incarnated, lived unmanly or immoral lives, and it’s plausible to suggest that they were reborn in their next incarnation as women. That, therefore, was when the gods invented sexual desire,* a living being that they formed, though different in men and in women, and endowed with a soul. Here’s how they made each of these creatures. At the point where the channel for drink receives liquid (once it has passed through the lung, behind the kidneys, and into the bladder) and discharges it under pressure from air, they bored a channel into the marrow they had constructed, that extends from the head, down through the neck, and through the spine — that is, the marrow we described earlier as seed. The marrow, as something endowed with soul and now granted an outlet, generated, in the part where the outlet is, a lively appetite for emission and the result was the male yearning for procreation. And this is why men’s sex organs, like a creature which is incapable of listening to reason, are disobedient and headstrong, and, goaded by their frantic appetites, try to have everything their way. To turn to women and the ‘womb’ or ‘uterus’ they possess: there exists inside the womb, for the same purpose, a living being with an appetite for child-making, and so if it remains unproductive long past puberty, it gets irritated and fretful. It takes to wandering all around the body and generating all sorts of ailments, including potentially fatal problems, if it blocks up the air-channels and makes breathing impossible. This goes on until a woman’s appetite for childbearing and a man’s yearning for procreation bring the two of them together and they strip the fruit from the tree, so to speak. They sow in the field of the womb tiny creatures, too small to be seen. At first not fully formed, these creatures then become articulated, while the womb nourishes them until they’ve grown enough to emerge into the light of day. The result of this process, then, is the creation of living creatures. So this is how women and females of any species were created. (tr. Robin Waterfield)
“All human beings are pregnant, Socrates, in body and in soul, and when we reach maturity it is natural that we desire to give birth. It is not possible to give birth in what is ugly, only in the beautiful. I say that because the intercourse of a man and a woman is a kind of giving birth. It is something divine, this process of pregnancy and procreation. It is an aspect of immortality in the otherwise mortal creature, and it cannot take place in what is discordant. Now, the ugly is not in accord with anything divine, whereas the beautiful accords well. So at this birth Beauty takes on the roles of Fate and Eileithyia. For this reason,whenever the pregnant being approaches the beautiful, it is in favourable mood. It melts with joy, gives birth and procreates. In the face of ugliness, however, it frowns and contracts with pain, and shrivelling up it fails to procreate, and it holds back its offspring in great suffering. This is the reason why, for a pregnant being now ready to give birth, there is much excitement at the presence of the beautiful because its possessor will deliver the pregnant one from great pain. For the object of love, Socrates”, she said, “is not, as you think, simply the beautiful.”
“It is procreating and giving birth in the beautiful.”
“All right”, I said.
“It certainly is”, she replied. “But why is the object of love procreation? Because procreation is a kind of everlastingness and immortality for the mortal creature, as far as anything can be. If the object of love is indeed everlasting possession of the good, as we have already agreed, it is immortality together with the good that must necessarily be desired. Hence it must follow that the object of love is also immortality.” (tr. Margaret C. Howatson)
After this, for a man who has been born and brought up, and has begotten and brought up children, and has mingled in business transactions with due measure – paying judicial penalties if he has done someone an injustice and receiving the same from another – for a man who has aged according to destiny in the company of the laws, the end would come, according to nature. Now as regards those who have died, whether it be a male or a female, the legal customs concerning the divine things that belong to the gods beneath the earth and here – concerning whatever rites are appropriately celebrated – are to be authoritatively explained by the Interpreters. Graves, however, are not to be located on any land that is cultivable, whether the monument be great or small, but only where the nature of the land is suitable for this alone: to receive and hide, in a way that is the most painless to the living, the bodies of those who have died – these are the areas that should be filled. But with respect to those areas which Mother Earth by nature intends to produce food for human beings, no one either living or dead is to deprive those among us who are living of them. And they shall not heap up a mound higher than wat can be completed by the work of five men in five days; nor shall they make stone markers larger than are required to contain at most four heroic lines of encomia on the life of the deceased. As for the laying out, first, it is not to be for a longer time than that which shows whether a man has fallen into a death-like swoon or has really died, and in dealing with human beings, the third day would be just about a well-measured time to carry the body out to the monument. (tr. Thomas L. Pangle)
[SOCR.] But, my dear Crito, why do we care so much for what most people think? For the most reasonable men, whose opinion is more worth considering, will think that things were done as they really will be done.
[CRIT.] But you see it is necessary, Socrates, to care for the opinion of the public, for this very trouble we are in now shows that the public is able to accomplish not by any means the least, but almost the greatest of evils, if one has a bad reputation with it.
[SOCR.] I only wish, Crito, the people could accomplish the greatest evils, that they might be able to accomplish also the greatest good things. Then all would be well. But now they can do neither of the two; for they are not able to make a man wise or foolish, but they do whatever occurs to them. (tr. Harold North Fowler)
‘Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering—everyone is of opinion that he has a right to steer, though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces anyone who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard, and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug, they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such manner as might be expected of them. Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion, they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not—the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling. Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?’ – ‘Of course’, said Adeimantus. (tr. Benjamin Jowett)
I should rather expect, I said, that several of our proposals, if they are carried out, being unusual, may appear ridiculous.
No doubt of it.
Yes, and the most ridiculous thing of all will be the sight of women naked in the palaestra, exercising with the men, especially when they are no longer young; they certainly will not be a vision of beauty, any more than the enthusiastic old men who, in spite of wrinkles and ugliness, continue to frequent the gymnasia.
Yes, indeed, he said: according to present notions the proposal would be thought ridiculous.
But then, I said, as we have determined to speak our minds, we must not fear the jests of the wits which will be directed against this sort of innovation; how they will talk of women’s attainments, both in music and gymnastics, and above all about their wearing armor and riding upon horseback!
Very true, he replied. Yet, having begun, we must go forward to the rough places of the law; at the same time begging of these gentlemen for once in their life to be serious. Not long ago, as we shall remind them, the Hellenes were of the opinion, which is still generally received among the barbarians, that the sight of a naked man was ridiculous and improper; and when first the Cretans, and then the Lacedaemonians, introduced the custom, the wits of that day might equally have ridiculed the innovation.
But when experience showed that to let all things be uncovered was far better than to cover them up, and the ludicrous effect to the outward eye had vanished before the better principle which reason asserted, then the man was perceived to be a fool who directs the shafts of his ridicule at any other sight but that of folly and vice, or seriously inclines to weigh the beautiful by any other standard but that of the good.
Very true, he replied. (tr. Benjamin Jowett)