Alcibiades 1


Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 12 translated by W.R.M. Lamb. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1927.

Soc. so that one can be pretty sure that those people are the richest of the Greeks in gold and silver, and that among themselves the richest is the king; for the largest and most numerous receipts of the kind are those of the kings, and besides there is the levy of the royal tribute in no slight amount, which the Spartans pay to their kings. Now, the Spartan fortunes, though great compared with the wealth of other Greeks, are nought beside that of the Persians and their king. For I myself was once told by a trustworthy person, who had been up to their court, that he traversed a very large tract of excellent land, nearly a day’s journey, which the inhabitants called the girdle of the king’s wife, and another which was similarly called her veil; and many other fine and fertile regions reserved for the adornment of the consort; and each of these regions was named after some part of her apparel. So I imagine, if someone should say to the king’s mother Amestris, who was wife of Xerxes, The son of Deinomache [*](The mother of Alcibiades.) intends to challenge your son; the mother’s dresses are worth perhaps fifty minae at the outside, while the son has under three hundred acres at Erchiae, [*](In Attica, about fifteen miles east of Athens.) she would wonder to what on earth this Alcibiades could be trusting, that he proposed to contend against Artaxerxes; and I expect she would remark—The only possible things that the man can be trusting to for his enterprise are industry and wisdom; for these are the only things of any account among the Greeks. Whereas if she were informed that this Alcibiades who is actually making such an attempt is, in the first place, as yet barely twenty years old, and secondly, altogether uneducated; and further, that when his lover tells him that he must first learn, and take pains over himself, and practise, before he enters on a contest with the king, he refuses, and says he will do very well as he is; I expect she would ask in surprise, On what, then, can the youngster rely? And if we told her, On beauty, stature, birth, wealth, and mental gifts, she would conclude we were mad, Alcibiades, when she compared the advantages of her own people in all these respects.

Soc. And I imagine that even Lampido, daughter of Leotychides and wife of Archidamus and mother of Agis, who have all been kings, would wonder in the same way, when she compared her people’s resources, at your intention of having a contest with her son despite your bad upbringing. And yet, does it not strike you as disgraceful that our enemies’ wives should have a better idea of the qualities that we need for an attempt against them than we have ourselves? Ah, my remarkable friend, listen to me and the Delphic motto, Know thyself; for these people are our competitors, not those whom you think; and there is nothing that will give us ascendancy over them save only pains and skill. If you are found wanting in these, you will be found wanting also in achievement of renown among Greeks and barbarians both; and of this I observe you to be more enamored than anyone else ever was of anything.

Alc. Well then, what are the pains that I must take, Socrates? Can you enlighten me? For I must say your words are remarkably like the truth.

Soc. Yes, I can: but we must put our heads together, [*](Cf. above, Plat. Alc. 1.119b.) you know, as to the way in which we can improve ourselves to the utmost. For observe that when I speak of the need of being educated I am not referring only to you, apart from myself; since my case is identical with yours except in one point.

Alc. What is that ?

Soc. My guardian is better and wiser than your one, Pericles.

Alc. Who is he, Socrates?

Soc. God, Alcibiades, who until this day would not let me converse with you; and trusting in him I say that through no other man but me will you attain to eminence.

Alc. You are jesting, Socrates.

Soc. Perhaps; I am right, however, in saying that we need to take pains—all men rather badly, but we two very badly indeed.

Alc. As to me, you are not wrong.

Soc. Nor, I fear, as to myself either.

Alc. Then what can we do?

Soc. There must be no crying off or skulking, my good friend.

Alc. No, for that would indeed be unseemly, Socrates.

Soc. It would; so let us consider in common. Now tell me: we say, do we not, that we wish to be as good as possible?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. In what excellence?

Alc. Clearly that which is the aim of good men.

Soc. Good in what?

Alc. Clearly, good in the management of affairs.

Soc. What sort of affairs? Horsemanship?

Alc. No, no.

Soc. Because we should apply to horsemen?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Well, seamanship, do you mean?

Alc. No.

Soc. Because we should apply to seamen?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Well, what sort of thing? The business of what men?

Alc. Of Athenian gentlemen.

Soc. Do you mean by gentlemen the intelligent or the unintelligent?

Alc. The intelligent.

Soc. And everyone is good in that wherein he is intelligent?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And bad wherein he is unintelligent?

Alc. Of course.

Soc. Then is the shoemaker intelligent in the making of foot-gear?

Alc. Certainly.

Soc. So he is good in that article?

Alc. Good.

Soc. Well now, is not the shoemaker unintelligent in the making of clothes?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. So he is bad in that?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Then, on this showing, the same man is both bad and good.

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. Well, can you say that good men are also bad?

Alc. No, indeed.

Soc. But whoever do you mean by the good?

Alc. I mean those who are able to rule in the city.

Soc. Not, I presume, over horses?

Alc. No, no.

Soc. But over men?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. When they are sick?

Alc. No.

Soc. Or at sea?

Alc. I say, no.

Soc. Or harvesting?

Alc. No.

Soc. Doing nothing, or doing something?

Alc. Doing something, I say.

Soc. Doing what? Try and let me know.

Alc. Well, men who do business with each other and make use of one another, as is our way of life in our cities.

Soc. Then you speak of ruling over men who make use of men?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Over boatswains who make use of rowers?

Alc. No, no.

Soc. Because that is the pilot’s distinction?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Well, do you mean ruling over men who are flute-players, and who lead the singing and make use of dancers?

Alc. No, no.

Soc. Because, again, that is the chorus-teacher’s function?

Alc. To be sure.

Soc. But whatever do you mean by being able to rule over men who make use of men?

Alc. I mean ruling over men in the city who share in it as fellow-citizens, and do business with each other.

Soc. Well, what art is this? Suppose I should ask you over again, as I did just now, what art makes men know how to rule over fellow-sailors?

Alc. The pilot’s.

Soc. And what knowledge—to repeat what was said a moment ago—makes them rule over their fellow-singers?

Alc. That which you just mentioned, the chorus-teacher’s.

Soc. Well now, what do you call the knowledge of one’s fellow-citizens?

Alc. Good counsel, I should say, Socrates.

Soc. Well, and is the pilot’s knowledge evil counsel?

Alc. No, no.

Soc. Rather good counsel?

Alc. So I should think, for the preservation of his passengers.

Soc. Quite right. And now, for what is the good counsel of which you speak?

Alc. For the better management and preservation of the city.

Soc. And what is it that becomes present or absent when we get this better management and preservation? If, for example, you should ask me, What is it that becomes present or absent when the body is better managed and preserved?—I should reply, Health becomes present, and disease absent. Do not you think so too?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And if, again, you asked me, What becomes present in a better condition of the eyes?—I should answer in just the same way, Sight becomes present, and blindness absent. So, in the case of the ears, deafness is caused to be absent, and hearing to be present, when they are improved and getting better treatment.

Alc. Correct.

Soc. Well then, what is it that becomes present or absent when a state is improved and has better treatment and management?

Alc. To my mind, Socrates, friendship with one another will be there, while hatred and faction will be absent.

Soc. Now, by friendship do you mean agreement or disagreement?

Alc. Agreement.

Soc. And what art is it that causes states to agree about numbers?

Alc. Arithmetic.

Soc. And what of individuals? Is it not the same art?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And it makes each single person agree with himself?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And what art makes each of us agree with himself as to which is the longer, a span or a cubit? Is it not mensuration?

Alc. Of course.

Soc. And it makes both individuals and states agree with each other?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And what about the balance? Is it not the same here too?

Alc. It is.

Soc. Then what is that agreement of which you speak, and about what? And what art secures it? And is it the same in an individual as in a state, when one agrees with oneself and with another?

Alc. Most likely.

Soc. Well, what is it? Do not flag in your answers, but do your best to tell me.

Alc. I suppose I mean the friendship and agreement that you find when a father and mother love their son, and between brother and brother, and husband and wife.

Soc. Then do you suppose, Alcibiades, that a husband can possibly agree with his wife about woolwork, when he does not understand it, and she does?

Alc. Oh, no.

Soc. Nor has he any need, since that is a woman’s pursuit.

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Or again, could a woman agree with a man about soldiering, when she has not learnt it?

Alc. Oh, no.

Soc. Because, I expect you will say again, that is a man’s affair.

Alc. I would.

Soc. Then, by your account, there are some pursuits belonging to women, and some to men?

Alc. Of course.

Soc. So in these, at any rate, there is no agreement between men and women.

Alc. No.

Soc. And hence no friendship either, if, as we said, friendship is agreement.

Alc. Apparently not.

Soc. So women are not loved by men, in so far as they do their own work.

Alc. It seems not.

Soc. Nor are men by women, in so far as they do theirs.

Alc. No.

Soc. And states, therefore, are not well ordered in so far as each person does his own business? [*](Cf. Plat. Charm. 161e, Plat. Rep. 1.332 ff.)

Alc. I think they are, Socrates.

Soc. How can you say that? Without the presence of friendship, which we say must be there if states are well ordered, as otherwise they are not?

Alc. But it seems to me that friendship arises among them just on that account—that each of the two parties does its own business.

Soc. It was not so a moment since: but now, what do you mean this time? Does friendship arise where there is no agreement? And is it possible that agreement should arise where some know about the business, but others do not?

Alc. Impossible.

Soc. And are they doing what is just or unjust, when each man does his own business?

Alc. What is just, of course.

Soc. And when the citizens do what is just in the city, does not friendship arise among them?

Alc. Again I think that must be so, Socrates.

Soc. Then whatever do you mean by that friendship or agreement about which we must be wise and well-advised in order that we may be good men? For I am unable to learn either what it is, or in whom; since it appears that the same persons sometimes have it, and sometimes not, by your account.

Alc. Well, by Heaven, Socrates, I do not even know what I mean myself, and I fear that for some time past I have lived unawares in a disgraceful condition.

Soc. But you must take heart. For had you perceived your plight at fifty, it would be hard for you to take pains with yourself; whereas here you are at the time of life when one ought to perceive it.

Alc. Then what should one do on perceiving it, Socrates?

Soc. Answer the questions asked, Alcibiades: only do that, and with Heaven’s favor—if we are to put any trust in my divination—you and I shall both be in better case.

Alc. That shall be, so far as my answering can avail.

Soc. Come then, what is taking pains over oneself— for we may perchance be taking, unawares, no pains over ourselves, though we think we are—and when does a man actually do it? Does he take pains over himself at the same time as over his own things?

Alc. I at least believe so.

Soc. Well now, when does a man take pains over his feet? Is it when he takes pains over what belongs to his feet?

Alc. I do not understand.

Soc. Is there anything you can name as belonging to the hand? For instance, does a ring belong to any other part of a man but the finger?

Alc. No, indeed.

Soc. And so the shoe also belongs to the foot, in the same way?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And likewise clothes and coverlets belong to the whole body?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Now when we take pains over our shoes, we take pains over our feet?

Alc. I do not quite understand, Socrates.

Soc. Well, but, Alcibiades, you speak of taking proper pains over this or that matter, do you not?

Alc. I do.

Soc. And do you call it proper pains when someone makes a thing better?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Then what art makes shoes better?

Alc. Shoe-making.

Soc. So by shoe-making we take pains over our shoes?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And over our foot too by shoe-making? Or by that art whereby we make feet better?

Alc. By that art.

Soc. And is it not the same one for making our feet as for making the whole body better?

Alc. I think so.

Soc. And is not that gymnastic?

Alc. Certainly.

Soc. So by gymnastic we take pains over our foot, but by shoe-making over what belongs to our foot?

Alc. Quite so.

Soc. And by gymnastic over our hands, but by ring-engraving over what belongs to the hand?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And by gymnastic over the body, but by weaving and the rest over what belongs to the body?

Alc. Absolutely so.

Soc. Then for taking pains over a thing itself and over what belongs to it we use different arts.

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. So when you take pains over your belongings you are not taking pains over yourself.

Alc. Not at all.

Soc. For the arts, it seems, that one used for taking pains over oneself and over one’s belongings would not be the same.

Alc. Apparently not.

Soc. Come then, whatever kind of art can we use for taking pains over ourselves?

Alc. I cannot say.

Soc. Well, so much at least has been admitted, that it is not one which would help us to make a single one of our possessions better, but one which would help to make ourselves so?

Alc. That is true.

Soc. Now, should we ever have known what art makes a shoe better, if we had not known a shoe?

Alc. Impossible.

Soc. Nor could we know what art makes rings better, if we had no cognizance of a ring.

Alc. True.

Soc. Well then, could we ever know what art makes the man himself better, if we were ignorant of what we are ourselves?

Alc. Impossible.

Soc. Well, and is it an easy thing to know oneself, and was it a mere scamp who inscribed these words on the temple at Delphi; or is it a hard thing, and not a task for anybody?

Alc. I have often thought, Socrates, that it was for anybody; but often, too, that it was very hard.

Soc. But, Alcibiades, whether it is easy or not, here is the fact for us all the same: if we have that knowledge, we are like to know what pains to take over ourselves; but if we have it not, we never can.

Alc. That is so.

Soc. Come then, in what way can the same-in-itself [*](This seems to be a sudden adumbration of the Platonic idea or form which remains constant, and so the same, behind the shifting objects of sense related to it through its influences or impress. Cf. below, Plat. Alc. 1.130d.) be discovered? For thus we may discover what we are ourselves; whereas if we remain in ignorance of it we must surely fail.

Alc. Rightly spoken.

Soc. Steady, then, in Heaven’s name! To whom are you talking now? To me, are you not?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And I in turn to you ?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Then the talker is Socrates?

Alc. To be sure.

Soc. And the hearer, Alcibiades?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And Socrates uses speech in talking?

Alc. Of course.

Soc. And you call talking and using speech the same thing, I suppose.

Alc. To be sure.

Soc. But the user and the thing he uses are different, are they not?

Alc. How do you mean?

Soc. For instance, I suppose a shoemaker uses a round tool, and a square one, and others, when he cuts.

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And the cutter and user is quite different from what he uses in cutting?

Alc. Of course.

Soc. And in the same way what the harper uses in harping will be different from the harper himself?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Well then, that is what I was asking just now—whether the user and what he uses are always, in your opinion, two different things.

Alc. They are.

Soc. Then what are we to say of the shoemaker? Does he cut with his tools only, or with his hands as well?

Alc. With his hands as well.

Soc. So he uses these also?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Does he use his eyes, too, in his shoe-making?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And we admit that the user and what he uses are different things?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Then the shoemaker and the harper are different from the hands and eyes that they use for their work?

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. And man uses his whole body too?

Alc. To be sure.

Soc. And we said that the user and what he uses are different?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. So man is different from his own body?

Alc. It seems so.

Soc. Then whatever is man?

Alc. I cannot say.

Soc. Oh, but you can—that he is the user of the body.

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And the user of it must be the soul?

Alc. It must.

Soc. And ruler?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Now, here is a remark from which no one, I think, can dissent.

Alc. What is it?

Soc. That man must be one of three things.

Alc. What things?

Soc. Soul, body, or both together as one whole.

Alc. Very well.

Soc. But yet we have admitted that what actually rules the body is man?

Alc. We have.

Soc. And does the body rule itself?

Alc. By no means.

Soc. Because we have said that it is ruled.

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Then that cannot be what we are seeking.

Alc. It seems not.

Soc. Well then, does the combination of the two rule the body, so that we are to regard this as man?

Alc. Perhaps it is.

Soc. The unlikeliest thing in the world: for if one of the two does not share in the rule, it is quite inconceivable that the combination of the two can be ruling.

Alc. You are right.

Soc. But since neither the body nor the combination of the two is man, we are reduced, I suppose, to this: either man is nothing at all, or if something, he turns out to be nothing else than soul.

Alc. Precisely so.

Soc. Well, do you require some yet clearer proof that the soul is man?

Alc. No, I assure you: I think it is amply proved.

Soc. And if it is tolerably, though not exactly, we are content; exact knowledge will be ours later, when we have discovered the thing that we passed over just now because it would involve much consideration.

Alc. What is that?

Soc. The point suggested in that remark a moment ago, [*](Cf. Plat. Alc. 1.129b.) that we should first consider the same-in-itself; but so far, instead of the same, we have been considering what each single thing is in itself. And perhaps we shall be satisfied with that: for surely we cannot say that anything has more absolute possession of ourselves than the soul.

Alc. No, indeed.

Soc. And it is proper to take the view that you and I are conversing with each other, while we make use of words, by intercourse of soul with soul?

Alc. Quite so.

Soc. Well, that is just what we suggested a little while ago—that Socrates, in using words to talk with Alcibiades, is holding speech, not with your face, it would seem, but with Alcibiades—that is, with his soul.

Alc. I believe so.

Soc. Then he who enjoins a knowledge of oneself bids us become acquainted with the soul.

Alc. So it seems.

Soc. And anyone who gets to know something belonging to the body knows the things that are his, but not himself.

Alc. That is so.

Soc. Then no physician, in so far as he is a physician, knows himself, nor does any trainer, in so far as he is a trainer.

Alc. It seems not.

Soc. And farmers, and craftsmen generally, are far from knowing themselves. For these people, it would seem, do not even know their own things, but only things still more remote than their own things, in respect of the arts which they follow; since they know but the things of the body, with which it is tended.

Alc. That is true.

Soc. So if knowing oneself is temperance, none of these people is temperate in respect of his art.

Alc. None, I agree.

Soc. And that is why these arts are held to be sordid, and no acquirements for a good man.

Alc. Quite so.

Soc. Then once again, whoever tends his body tends his own things, but not himself?

Alc. It looks rather like it.

Soc. But whoever tends his money tends neither himself nor his own things, but only things yet more remote than his own things?

Alc. I agree.

Soc. So that the money-maker has ceased to do his own business.

Alc. Correct.

Soc. And if anyone is found to be a lover of Alcibiades’ body, he has fallen in love, not with Alcibiades, but with something belonging to Alcibiades?

Alc. That is true.

Soc. Your lover is rather he who loves your soul?

Alc. He must be, apparently, by our argument.

Soc. And he who loves your body quits you, and is gone, as soon as its bloom is over?

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. Whereas he who loves your soul will not quit you so long as it makes for what is better?

Alc. So it seems.

Soc. And I am he who does not quit you, but remains with you when your body’s prime is over, and the rest have departed.

Alc. Yes, and I am glad of it, Socrates, and hope you will not go.

Soc. Then you must endeavor to be as handsome as you can.

Alc. Well, I shall endeavor.

Soc. You see how you stand: Alcibiades, the son of Cleinias, it seems, neither had nor has any lover except one only, and that a cherished one, Socrates, the son of Sophroniscus and Phaenarete.

Alc. True.

Soc. And you said that I only just anticipated you in coming to you, for otherwise you would have come to me first for the purpose of inquiring why I am the only one who does not leave you?

Alc. Yes, that was so.

Soc. Then the reason was that I was the only lover of you, whereas the rest were lovers of what is yours; and that is losing its charm, while you are beginning to bloom. So now, if you are not blighted and deformed by the Athenian people, I shall never forsake you. For my chiefest fear is of your being blighted by becoming a lover of the people, since many a good Athenian has come to that ere now. For fair of face is

the people of great-hearted Erechtheus;
Hom. Il. 2.547 but you should get a view of it stripped: so take the precaution that I recommend.

Alc. What is it?

Soc. Exercise yourself first, my wonderful friend, in learning what you ought to know before entering on politics; you must wait till you have learnt, in order that you may be armed with an antidote and so come to no harm.

Alc. Your advice seems to me good, Socrates; but try to explain in what way we can take pains over ourselves.

Soc. Well, we have made one step in advance; for there is a pretty fair agreement now as to what we are, whereas we were afraid we might fail of this and take pains, without knowing it, over something other than ourselves.

Alc. That is so.

Soc. And the next step, we see, is to take care of the soul, and look to that.

Alc. Clearly.

Soc. While handing over to others the care of our bodies and our coffers.

Alc. Quite so.

Soc. Then how shall we obtain the most certain knowledge of it? For if we know that, it seems we shall know ourselves also. In Heaven’s name, do we fail to comprehend the wise words of the Delphic inscription, which we mentioned just now?

Alc. With what intent do you say that, Socrates?

Soc. I will tell you what I suspect to be the real advice which the inscription gives us. I rather think there are not many illustrations of it to be found, but only in the case of sight.

Alc. What do you mean by that?

Soc. Consider in your turn: suppose that, instead of speaking to a man, it said to the eye of one of us, as a piece of advice See thyself, how should we apprehend the meaning of the admonition? Would it not be, that the eye should look at that by looking at which it would see itself?

Alc. Clearly.

Soc. Then let us think what object there is anywhere, by looking at which we can see both it and ourselves.

Alc. Why, clearly, Socrates, mirrors and things of that sort.

Soc. Quite right. And there is also something of that sort in the eye that we see with?

Alc. To be sure.

Soc. And have you observed that the face of the person who looks into another’s eye is shown in the optic confronting him, as in a mirror, and we call this the pupil, [*](The Greek κόρη and the Latin pupilla both mean little girl or doll, and were used to indicate the dark center of the eye in which a tiny image can be seen reflected.) for in a sort it is an image of the person looking?

Alc. That is true.

Soc. Then an eye viewing another eye, and looking at the most perfect part of it, the thing wherewith it sees, will thus see itself.

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. But if it looks at any other thing in man or at anything in nature but what resembles this, [*](i.e. it must look at the pupil of a man’s eye, or at what is comparable to that perfect part in other things.) it will not see itself.

Alc. That is true.

Soc. Then if an eye is to see itself, it must look at an eye, and at that region of the eye in which the virtue of an eye is found to occur; and this, I presume, is sight.

Alc. That is so.

Soc. And if the soul too, my dear Alcibiades, is to know herself, she must surely look at a soul, and especially at that region of it in which occurs the virtue of a soul—wisdom, and at any other part of a soul which resembles this?

Alc. I agree, Socrates.

Soc. And can we find any part of the soul that we can call more divine than this, which is the seat of knowledge and thought?

Alc. We cannot.

Soc. Then this part of her resembles God, and whoever looks at this, and comes to know all that is divine, will gain thereby the best knowledge of himself.

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. And self-knowledge we admitted to be temperance. [*](Above, Plat. Alc. 1.131b.)

Alc. To be sure.

Soc. So if we have no knowledge of ourselves and no temperance, shall we be able to know our own belongings, good or evil?

Alc. How can that be, Socrates?

Soc. For I expect it seems impossible to you that without knowing Alcibiades you should know that the belongings of Alcibiades are in fact his.

Alc. Impossible indeed, upon my word.

Soc. Nor could we know that our belongings are ours if we did not even know ourselves?

Alc. How could we?

Soc. And so, if we did not so much as know our belongings, we could not know the belongings of our belongings either?

Alc. Apparently not.

Soc. Then we were not quite correct in admitting just now that there are people who, without knowing themselves, know their belongings, while others know their belongings’ belongings. For it seems to be the function of one man and one art to discern all three— himself, his belongings, and the belongings of his belongings.

Alc. It looks like it.

Soc. And anyone who is ignorant of his belongings will be similarly ignorant, I suppose, of the belongings of others.

Alc. Quite so.

Soc. And if ignorant of others’ affairs, he will be ignorant also of the affairs of states.

Alc. He must be.

Soc. Then such a man can never be a statesman.

Alc. No, indeed.

Soc. No, nor an economist either.

Alc. No, indeed.

Soc. Nor will he know what he is doing.

Alc. No, I agree.

Soc. And will not he who does not know make mistakes?

Alc. To be sure.

Soc. And when he makes mistakes, will he not do ill both in private and in public?

Alc. Of course.

Soc. And doing ill he will be wretched?

Alc. Yes, very.

Soc. And what of those for whom he is doing so?

Alc. They will be wretched also.

Soc. Then it is impossible to be happy if one is not temperate and good.

Alc. Impossible.

Soc. So it is the bad men who are wretched.

Alc. Yes, very.

Soc. And hence it is not he who has made himself rich that is relieved of wretchedness, but he who has made himself temperate.

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. So it is not walls or warships or arsenals that cities need, Alcibiades, if they are to be happy, nor numbers, nor size, without virtue.

Alc. No, indeed.

Soc. And if you are to manage the city’s affairs properly and honorably, you must impart virtue to the citizens.

Alc. Of course.

Soc. But could one possibly impart a thing that one had not?

Alc. How, indeed?

Soc. Then you or anyone else who is to be governor and curator, not merely of himself and his belongings in private, but of the state and its affairs, must first acquire virtue himself.

Alc. That is true.

Soc. Hence it is not licence or authority for doing what one pleases that you have to secure to yourself or the state, but justice and temperance.

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. For you and the state, if you act justly and temperately, will act so as to please God.

Alc. Naturally.

Soc. And, as we were saying in what went before, you will act with your eyes turned on what is divine and bright.

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. Well, and looking thereon you will behold and know both yourselves and your good.

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And so you will act aright and well?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. Well now, if you act in this way, I am ready to warrant that you must be happy.

Alc. And I can rely on your warranty.

Soc. But if you act unjustly, with your eyes on the godless and dark, the probability is that your acts will resemble these through your ignorance of yourselves.

Alc. That is probable.

Soc. For if a man, my dear Alcibiades, is at liberty to do what he pleases, but is lacking in mind, what is the probable result to him personally, or to the state as well? For instance, if he is sick and at liberty to do what he pleases—without a medical mind, but with a despot’s power which prevents anyone from even reproving him—what will be the result? Will not his health, in all likelihood, be shattered?

Alc. That is true.

Soc. Again, in a ship, if a man were at liberty to do what he chose, but were devoid of mind and excellence in navigation, do you perceive what must happen to him and his fellow-sailors?

Alc. I do: they must all perish.

Soc. And in just the same way, if a state, or any office or authority, is lacking in excellence or virtue, it will be overtaken by failure?

Alc. It must.

Soc. Then it is not despotic power, my admirable Alcibiades, that you ought to secure either to yourself or to the state, if you would be happy, but virtue.

Alc. That is true.

Soc. And before getting virtue, to be governed by a superior is better than to govern, for a man as well as a child.

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. And the better is also nobler?

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And the nobler more becoming?

Alc. Of course.

Soc. Then it becomes a bad man to be a slave, since it is better.

Alc. Yes.

Soc. So vice is a thing that becomes a slave.

Alc. Apparently.

Soc. And virtue becomes a free man.

Alc. Yes.

Soc. And we should shun, my good friend, all slavishness?

Alc. Most certainly, Socrates.

Soc. And do you now perceive how you stand? Are you on the side of the free, or not?

Alc. I think I perceive only too clearly.

Soc. Then do you know how you may escape from the condition in which you now find yourself? Let us not give it a name, where a handsome person is concerned!

Alc. I do.

Soc. How?

Alc. If it be your wish, Socrates.

Soc. That is not well said, Alcibiades.

Alc. Well, what should I say?

Soc. If it be God’s will.

Alc. Then I say it. And yet I say this besides, that we are like to make a change in our parts, Socrates, so that I shall have yours and you mine. For from this day onward it must be the case that I am your attendant, and you have me always in attendance on you. [*](παιδαγωγεῖν is used here simply in the sense of following about as personal attendant.)

Soc. Ah, generous friend! So my love will be just like a stork; for after hatching a winged love in you it is to be cherished in return by its nestling. [*](It was commonly believed that aged storks were fed by younger storks which they had previously hatched and reared.)

Alc. Well, that is the position, and I shall begin here and now to take pains over justice.

Soc. I should like to think you will continue to do so; yet I am apprehensive, not from any distrust of your nature, but in view of the might of the state, lest it overcome both me and you.