Well said! interjected Philip. I certainly should like to see Peisander the politician[*](Peisander, a demagogue of some power in the unsettled times of the Peloponnesian War, had a number of weak points, especially his military record, which were exposed by the comic poets Eupolis, Hermippus, Plato, and Aristophanes. Cf. Aristoph. Birds 1553 ff.) learning to turn somersaults among the knives; for, as it is now, his inability to look spears in the face makes him shrink even from joining the army.
At this point the boy performed a dance, eliciting from Socrates the remark, Did you notice that, handsome as the boy is, he appears even handsomer in the poses of the dance than when he is at rest? It looks to me, said Charmides, as if you were puffing the dancing-master.
Assuredly, replied Socrates; and I remarked something else, too,—that no part of his body was idle during the dance, but neck, legs, and hands were all active together. And that is the way a person must dance who intends to increase the suppleness of his body. And for myself, he continued, addressing the Syracusan, I should be delighted to learn the figures from you. What use will you make of them? the other asked. I will dance, by Zeus.
This raised a general laugh; but Socrates, with a perfectly grave expression on his face, said: You are laughing at me, are you? Is it because I want to exercise to better my health? Or because I want to take more pleasure in my food and my sleep? Or is it because I am eager for such exercises as these, not like the long-distance runners, who develop their legs at the expense of their shoulders, nor like the prize-fighters, who develop their shoulders but become thin-legged, but rather with a view to giving my body a symmetrical development by exercising it in every part?
Or are you laughing because I shall not need to hunt up a partner to exercise with, or to strip, old as I am, in a crowd, but shall find a moderate-sized room[*](Literally, a room of seven couches. Cf. Xen. Ec. 8.13.) large enough for me (just as but now this room was large enough for the lad here to get up a sweat in), and because in winter I shall exercise under cover, and when it is very hot, in the shade?
Or is this what provokes your laughter, that I have an unduly large paunch and wish to reduce it? Don’t you know that just the other day Charmides here caught me dancing early in the morning?Indeed I did, said Charmides; and at first I was dumbfounded and feared that you were going stark mad; but when I heard you say much the same things as you did just now, I myself went home, and although I did not dance, for I had never learned how, I practised shadow-boxing, for I knew how to do that.
Undoubtedly, said Philip; at any rate, your legs appear so nearly equal in weight to your shoulders that I imagine if you were to go to the market commissioners and put your lower parts in the scale against your upper parts, as if they were loaves of bread,[*](Since the Athenians were dependent largely on imported grain, they developed an elaborate system of regulations, administered by several sets of officials, to protect the consumers from speculation and extortion. One set of officials controlled the weight and the price of bread.) they would let you off without a fine. When you are ready to begin your lessons, Socrates, said Callias, pray invite me, so that I may be opposite you in the figures and may learn with you.