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View details. Flag as inappropriate. And besides all this, do you not think this looks like a matter of foresight, this closing of the delicate orbs of sight with eyelids as with folding doors, which, when there is need to use them for any purpose, can be thrown wide open and firmly closed again in sleep? I ask you, when you see all these things constructed with such show of foresight can you doubt whether they are products of chance or intelligence?
To be sure not! Viewed in this light they would seem to be the handiwork of some wise artificer, 8 full of love for all things living. What shall we say of this passion implanted in man to beget offspring, this passion in the mother to rear her babe, and in the creature itself, once born, this deep desire of life and fear of death?
No doubt these do look like the contrivances of some one deliberately planning the existence of living creatures. And yet you imagine that elsewhere no spark of wisdom is to be found? And that, too, when you know that you have in your body a tiny fragment only of the mighty earth, a little drop of the great waters, and of the other elements, vast in their extent, you got, I presume, a particle of each towards the compacting of your bodily frame?
Mind alone, it would seem, which is nowhere to be found, 10 you had the lucky chance to snatch up and make off with, you cannot tell how.
And these things around and about us, enormous in size, infinite in number, owe their orderly arrangement, as you suppose, to some vacuity of wit? It may be, for my eyes fail to see the master agents of these, as one sees the fabricators of things produced on earth. No more do you see your own soul, which is the master agent of your body; so that, as far as that goes, you may maintain, if you like, that you do nothing with intelligence, 11 but everything by chance.
On the contrary, my belief is that the Divinity is too grand to need any service which I could render. But the grander that power is, which deigns to tend and wait upon you, the more you are called upon to honour it. Be well assured, if I could believe the gods take thought for all men, I would not neglect them.
How can you suppose that they do not so take thought? Who, in the first place, gave to man alone of living creatures his erect posture, enabling him to see farther in front of him and to contemplate more freely the height above, and to be less subject to distress than other creatures endowed like himself with eyes and ears and mouth. Did they not make the tongue also? Or consider the pleasures of the sexual appetite; limited in the rest of the animal kingdom to certain seasons, but in the case of man a series prolonged unbroken to old age.
Nor did it content the Godhead merely to watch over the interests of man's body. What is of far higher import, he implanted in man the noblest and most excellent type of soul. For what other creature, to begin with, has a soul to appreciate the existence of the gods who have arranged this grand and beauteous universe? What other tribe of animals save man can render service to the gods?
How apt is the spirit of man to take precautions against hunger and thirst, cold and heat, to alleviate disease and foster strength! Is it not most evident to you that by the side of other animals men live and move a race of gods—by nature excellent, in beauty of body and of soul supreme?
For, mark you, had a creature of man's wit been encased in the body of an ox, 14 he would have been powerless to carry out his wishes, just as the possession of hands divorced from human wit is profitless.
And then you come, you who have obtained these two most precious attributes, and give it as your opinion, that the gods take no thought or care for you. Why, what will you have them to do, that you may believe and be persuaded that you too are in their thoughts?
When they treat me as you tell us they treat you, and send me counsellors to warn me what I am to do and what abstain from doing, 15 I will believe.
Send you counsellors! Come now, what when the people of Athens make inquiry by oracle, and the gods' answer comes? Are you not an Athenian? Think you not that to you also the answer is given? What when they send portents to forewarn the states of Hellas? Are you not a man? Are not these intended for you also?
Can it be that you alone are excepted as a signal instance of Divine neglect? Again, do you suppose that the gods could have implanted in the heart of man the belief in their capacity to work him weal or woe had they not the power? Would not men have discovered the imposture in all this lapse of time? Do you not perceive that the wisest and most perdurable of human institutions—be they cities or tribes of men—are ever the most God-fearing; and in the individual man the riper his age and judgment, the deeper his religousness?
Ay, my good sir he broke forth , lay to heart and understand that even as your own mind within you can turn and dispose of your body as it lists, so ought we to think that the wisdom which abides within the universal frame does so dispose of all things as it finds agreeable to itself; for hardly may it be that your eye is able to range over many a league, but that the eye of God is powerless to embrace all things at a glance; or that to your soul it is given to dwell in thought on matters here or far away in Egypt or in Sicily, but that the wisdom and thought of God is not sufficient to include all things at one instant under His care.
If only you would copy your own behaviour 16 where human beings are concerned. It is by acts of service and of kindness that you discover which of your fellows are willing to requite you in kind. It is by taking another into your counsel that you arrive at the secret of his wisdom. If, on like principle, you will but make trial of the gods by acts of service, whether they will choose to give you counsel in matters obscure to mortal vision, you shall discover the nature and the greatness of Godhead to be such that they are able at once to see all things and to hear all things and to be present everywhere, nor does the least thing escape their watchful care.
To my mind the effect of words like these was to cause those about him to hold aloof from unholiness, baseness, and injustice, not only whilst they were seen of men, but even in the solitary place, since they must believe that no part of their conduct could escape the eye of Heaven.
I suppose it may be taken as admitted that self-control is a noble acquirement for a man. Could we expect such an one to save us or to master our foes? Or if one of us were nearing the end of his days, and he wished to discover some one to whom he might entrust his sons for education, his maiden daughters for protection, and his property in general for preservation, would he deem a libertine worthy of such offices?
Why, no one would dream of entrusting his flocks and herds, his storehouses and barns, or the superintendence of his works to the tender mercies of an intemperate slave. If a butler or an errand boy with such a character were offered to us we would not take him as a free gift.
And if he would not accept an intemperate slave, what pains should the master himself take to avoid that imputation. These may at any rate be held to enrich themselves in depriving others. But the intemperate man cannot claim in like fashion to be a blessing to himself if a curse to his neighbours; nay, the mischief which he may cause to others is nothing by comparison with that which redounds against himself, since it is the height of mischief to ruin—I do not say one's own house and property—but one's own body and one's own soul.
Or to take an example from social intercourse, no one cares for a guest who evidently takes more pleasure in the wine and the viands than in the friends beside him—who stints his comrades of the affection due to them to dote upon a mistress.
Does it not come to this, that every honest man is bound to look upon self-restraint as the very corner-stone of virtue: 4 which he should seek to lay down as the basis and foundation of his soul? Without self-restraint who can lay any good lesson to heart or practise it when learnt in any degree worth speaking of?
Or, to put it conversely, what slave of pleasure will not suffer degeneracy of soul and body? By Hera, 5 well may every free man pray to be saved from the service of such a slave; and well too may he who is in bondage to such pleasures supplicate Heaven to send him good masters, seeing that is the one hope of salvation left him. Well-tempered words: yet his self-restraint shone forth even more in his acts than in his language.
Not only was he master over the pleasures which flow from the body, but of those also which are fed by riches, his belief being that he who receives money from this or that chance donor sets up over himself a master, and binds himself to an abominable slavery. In this context some discussions with Antiphon the sophist 1 deserve record. Antiphon approaches Socrates in hope of drawing away his associates, and in their presence thus accosts him. Why, Socrates, I always thought it was expected of students of philosophy to grow in happiness daily; but you seem to have reaped other fruits from your philosophy.
At any rate, you exist, I do not say live, in a style such as no slave serving under a master would put up with. Your meat and your drink are of the cheapest sort, and as to clothes, you cling to one wretched cloak which serves you for summer and winter alike; and so you go the whole year round, without shoes to your feet or a shirt to your back.
Then again, you are not for taking or making money, the mere seeking of which is a pleasure, even as the possession of it adds to the sweetness and independence of existence. I do not know whether you follow the common rule of teachers, who try to fashion their pupils in imitation of themselves, 2 and propose to mould the characters of your companions; but if you do you ought to dub yourself professor of the art of wretchedness.
Thus challenged, Socrates replied: One thing to me is certain, Antiphon; you have conceived so vivid an idea of my life of misery that for yourself you would choose death sooner than live as I do. Suppose now we turn and consider what it is you find so hard in my life. Is it that he who takes payment must as a matter of contract finish the work for which he is paid, whereas I, who do not take it, lie under no constraint to discourse except with whom I choose?
Do you despise my dietary on the ground that the food which I eat is less wholesome and less stengthening than yours, or that the articles of my consumption are so scarce and so much costlier to procure than yours? Or have the fruits of your marketing a flavour denied to mine? Do you not know the sharper the appetite the less the need of sauces, the keener the thirst the less the desire for out-of-the-way drinks?
And as to raiment, clothes, you know, are changed on account of cold or else of heat. People only wear boots and shoes in order not to gall their feet and be prevented walking.
Now I ask you, have you ever noticed that I keep more within doors than others on account of the cold? Have you ever seen me battling with any one for shade on account of the heat? Do you not know that even a weakling by nature may, by dint of exercise and practice, come to outdo a giant who neglects his body? He will beat him in the particular point of training, and bear the strain more easily. But you apparently will not have it that I, who am for ever training myself to endure this, that, and the other thing which may befall the body, can brave all hardships more easily than yourself for instance, who perhaps are not so practised.
And to escape slavery to the belly or to sleep or lechery, can you suggest more effective means than the possession of some powerful attraction, some counter-charm which shall gladden not only in the using, but by the hope enkindled of its lasting usefulness? And yet this you do know; joy is not to him who feels that he is doing well in nothing—it belongs to one who is persuaded that things are progressing with him, be it tillage or the working of a vessel, 4 or any of the thousand and one things on which a man may chance to be employed.
To him it is given to rejoice as he reflects, "I am doing well. That, for my part, is the belief I continue to cherish. Again, if it be a question of helping one's friends or country, which of the two will have the larger leisure to devote to these objects—he who leads the life which I lead to-day, or he who lives in the style which you deem so fortunate? Which of the two will adopt a soldier's life more easily—the man who cannot get on without expensive living, or he to whom whatever comes to hand suffices?
Which will be the readier to capitulate and cry "mercy" in a siege—the man of elaborate wants, or he who can get along happily with the readiest things to hand? You, Antiphon, would seem to suggest that happiness consists of luxury and extravagance; I hold a different creed.
To have no wants at all is, to my mind, an attribute of Godhead; 5 to have as few wants as possible the nearest approach to Godhead; and as that which is divine is mightiest, so that is next mightiest which comes closest to the divine.
Returning to the charge at another time, this same Antiphon engaged Socrates in conversation thus. Socrates, for my part, I believe you to be a good and upright man; but for your wisdom I cannot say much.
I fancy you would hardly dispute the verdict yourself, since, as I remark, you do not ask a money payment for your society; and yet if it were your cloak now, or your house, or any other of your possessions, you would set some value upon it, and never dream, I will not say of parting with it gratis, but of exchanging it for less than its worth.
A plain proof, to my mind, that if you thought your society worth anything, you would ask for it not less than its equivalent in gold. To this onslaught Socrates: Antiphon, it is a tenet which we cling to that beauty and wisdom have this in common, that there is a fair way and a foul way in which to dispose of them. The vendor of beauty purchases an evil name, but supposing the same person has discerned a soul of beauty in his lover and makes that man his friend, we regard his choice as sensible.
In accordance with this theory, I too, Antiphon, having my tastes, even as another finds pleasure in his horse and his hounds, 9 and another in his fighting cocks, so I too take my pleasure in good friends; and if I have any good thing myself I teach it them, or I commend them to others by whom I think they will be helped forwards on the path of virtue. The treasures also of the wise of old, written and bequeathed in their books, 10 I unfold and peruse in common with my friends.
If our eye light upon any good thing we cull it eagerly, and regard it as great gain if we may but grow in friendship with one another. As I listened to this talk I could not but reflect that he, the master, was a person to be envied, and that we, his hearers, were being led by him to beauty and nobility of soul.
Again on some occasion the same Antiphon asked Socrates how he expected to make politicians of others when, even if he had the knowledge, he did not engage in politics himself. Socrates replied: I will put to you a question, Antiphon: Which were the more statesmanlike proceeding, to practise politics myself single-handed, or to devote myself to making as many others as possible fit to engage in that pursuit?
Let us here turn and consider whether by deterring his associates from quackery and false seeming he did not directly stimulate them to the pursuit of virtue. He would be forced to imitate the good flute player in the externals of his art, would he not? Council lively not to leave NEVER negative feedback,simply because in case satisfaction is not previewed the reimbursement of the auction price.
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