After this the boy, attuning his lyre to the flute, played and sang, and won the applause of all; and brought from Charmides the remark, It seems to me, gentlemen, that, as Socrates said of the wine, so this blending of the young people’s beauty and of the notes of the music lulls one’s griefs to sleep and awakens the goddess of Love.
Then Socrates resumed the conversation. These people, gentlemen, said he, show their competence to give us pleasure; and yet we, I am sure, think ourselves considerably superior to them. Will it not be to our shame, therefore, if we do not make even an attempt, while here together, to be of some service or to give some pleasure one to another? At that many spoke up: You lead the way, then, and tell us what to begin talking about to realize most fully what you have in mind.
For my part, he answered, I should like to have Callias redeem his promise; for he said, you remember, that if we would take dinner with him, he would give us an exhibition of his profundity. Yes, rejoined Callias; and I will do so, if the rest of you will also lay before us any serviceable knowledge that you severally possess. Well, answered Socrates, no one objects to telling what he considers the most valuable knowledge in his possession.
Very well, then, said Callias, I will now tell you what I take greatest pride in. It is that I believe I have the power to make men better. How? asked Antisthenes. By teaching them some manual trade, or by teaching nobility of character? The latter, if righteousness[*](The word δικαιοσύνη, translated here by righteousness, is sometimes well represented by justice or honesty. It is the virtue discussed by Plato in the Republic and by Aristotle in the fifth book of his Ethics.) is the same thing as nobility. Certainly it is, replied Antisthenes, and the least debatable kind, too; for though courage and wisdom appear at times to work injury both to one’s friends and to the state, righteousness and unrighteousness never overlap at a single point.
Well, then, when every one of you has named the benefit he can confer, I will not begrudge describing the art that gives me the success that I speak of. And so, Niceratus, he suggested, it is your turn; tell us what kind of knowledge you take pride in. My father was anxious to see me develop into a good man, said Niceratus, and as a means to this end he compelled me to memorize all of Homer; and so even now I can repeat the whole Iliad and the Odyssey by heart.
But have you failed to observe, questioned Antisthenes, that the rhapsodes,[*](These professional reciters of epic poetry are represented as being criticized by Socrates, in much the same way as here, in Xenophon’s Memorabilia, IV. ii. 10 and in Plato’s Ion.) too, all know these poems? How could I, he replied, when I listen to their recitations nearly every day? Well, do you know any tribe of men, went on the other, more stupid than the rhapsodes? No, indeed, answered Niceratus; not I, I am sure. No, said Socrates; and the reason is clear: they do not know the inner meaning of the poems. But you have paid a good deal of money to Stesimbrotus, Anaximander, and many other Homeric critics, so that nothing of their valuable teaching can have escaped your knowledge.
But what about you, Critobulus? he continued. What do you take greates pride in? In beauty, he replied. What? exclaimed Socrates. Are you too going to be able to maintain that you can make us better, and by means of your beauty? Why, otherwise, it is clear enough that I shall cut but an indifferent figure.[*](Critobulus seems to imply that beauty is his only resource.)