Jump to Content
Jump to chapter
Find Location in text

Main Text

Editor’s Notepg 13Editor’s NoteGORGIAS

Callicles. 447This is the way they say you ought to join a war and a battle, Socrates.

Socrates. You mean we've missed the feast, as they say, and we're too late?


C. Yes, and a most elegant feast it was; for Gorgias put on many fine displays for us a little while ago.

S. But Chaerephon here is responsible for this, Callicles; he forced us to linger in the market-place.

Chaerephon. Editor’s NotebNo matter, Socrates; for I'll cure the trouble too. For Gorgias is a friend of mine; and he'll put on a display for us now, if you think fit, or another time, if you wish.


C. What, Chaerephon? Does Socrates desire to hear Gorgias?

Ch. Yes; that's the very thing we have come for.

C. Then visit me at home whenever you want to; for Gorgias is staying with me, and he'll give you a display.

S. Editor’s NotecA good idea, Callicles. But would he be willing to have a dialogue with us? For I want to learn from him what the power of the man's craft is, and what it is that he advertises and teaches; the rest of the display he can put on another time, as you suggest.


C. There's nothing like asking the man himself, Socrates. For indeed, that was one part of his display; just now in fact he was inviting anyone in the house to ask whatever question he liked, and said he would reply to them all.

S. A good idea. You ask him, Chaerephon.


Ch. Ask him what?

S. dWho he is.

Ch. How are you speaking?

S. Well, for instance, if he happened to be a craftsman of shoes, he would presumably answer you that he was a shoemaker. Don't you understand how I'm speaking?

Ch. I understand, and I'll ask him. Tell me, Gorgias, is what Callicles here says true, that you advertise that you answer whatever anyone asks you?

pg 14

G. 448Quite true, Chaerephon. In fact I was advertising this very thing just now; and I tell you that no one has asked me anything new for many years now.

Ch. Then no doubt you'll find it easy to answer, Gorgias.


G. You have a chance to test that Chaerephon.

Polus. Look, by Zeus, test me, if you please, Chaerephon. For I think Gorgias is actually worn out. He's just finished a long performance.

Ch. What, Polus? Do you think you would answer better than Gorgias?

P. Editor’s NotebWhat does that matter, as long as it satisfies you?

Ch. Not at all. Answer then, since you want to.

P. Ask.

Ch. Yes, I'm asking. If Gorgias happened to have knowledge of 5the same craft as his brother Herodicus, what would we rightly call him? Wouldn't it be the same as his brother?

P. Certainly.

Ch. Then if we claimed he was a doctor, we would be speaking well.


P. Yes.

Ch. And if he were experienced in the same craft as Aristophon the son of Aglaophon or his brother, what would we rightly call him?

P. Editor’s NotecClearly a painter.

Ch. In fact, though, what craft has he knowledge of, and what would we rightly call him?

P. There are many crafts among men, Chaerephon, found by 5experience from experience; for experience makes our age follow craft, inexperience chance. Various men in various ways share in various of these crafts, and the best men in the best. Among the best is Gorgias here, and he shares in the finest of the crafts.

S. dWell, Gorgias, Polus seems to be finely equipped for discussions (logos). However, he is not doing what he promised to Chaerephon.

G. How exactly, Socrates?


S. He doesn't seem to me to altogether answer the question he's being asked.

G. Well, you ask him, if you wish.

pg 15

S. No I won't, if you wish to answer yourself. I'd much rather ask you. For it's clear to me even from what he's said that Polus is 10more practised in what is called the rhetorical craft than in dialogue.

P. Editor’s NoteeWhy is that, Socrates?

S. Because Chaerephon asked you, Polus, what craft Gorgias has knowledge of; and you are praising his craft, as though someone were attacking it; but you didn't say which it is.


P. But didn't I answer that it is the finest?

S. Indeed you did. But no one is asking you what Gorgias' craft is like, but what craft it is, and who Gorgias should be called. Just as Chaerephon offered the previous ones to you, and you answered him 449well and briefly, so too now say what the craft is, and what we ought to call Gorgias. Or rather, you tell us yourself, Gorgias, what we ought to call you, as someone with knowledge of what craft?


G. The rhetorical craft, Socrates.

S. Then you ought to be called a rhetor?

G. Yes, and a good one, Socrates, if you really want to call me 'what I boast I am', as Homer said.

S. I do want to.

G. Then call me that.

S. Editor’s NotebAnd aren't we to say that you are capable (dunaton) of making other people rhetors too?

G. Yes indeed. That is what I advertise, not only here, but elsewhere too.

S. Then would you be ready, Gorgias, to continue our present 5method of dialogue, asking one question, answering another, and to put off to another time long speeches like the one Polus began? Come now, don't betray your promise, but be ready to answer the question briefly.

G. cSome answers require long speeches, Socrates; but still, I'll try to answer as briefly as I can. For indeed, this is also one of my claims, that nobody could say the same things more briefly than I can.


S. Well, that's what is needed, Gorgias. And give me a display of that very thing, the brief style, and the lengthy style another time.

G. All right, I'll do it; and you'll say you never heard anyone speak more briefly.

pg 16

S. Come, then. You say you have knowledge of the rhetorical Editor’s Notedcraft, and that you can make someone else a rhetor. Which of the things that are is rhetoric really about? For instance, weaving is about the production of clothes, isn't it?

G. Yes.

S. And isn't music about the production of melodies?

G. Yes.


S. By Hera, Gorgias, I do admire your answers; you answer as briefly as anyone could.

G. Yes, Socrates; I think I do it reasonably well.

S. You're right. Come, then, answer me in the same way about rhetoric too. It is knowledge about which of the things that are?

G. Editor’s NoteeAbout speech (logos).

S. What kind of speech, Gorgias? The kind that explains the treatment to make sick people well?

G. No.

S. Then rhetoric is not about all speech.

G. No, true enough.


S. But still it makes men powerful (dunatos) at speaking.

G. Yes.

S. And at understanding the things they speak about?

G. Certainly.

S. 450Now does the medical craft we've just mentioned make people powerful at understanding and speaking about the sick?

G. It must.

S. Then apparently medicine as well is about speech.

G. Yes.

S. Speech about diseases, that is.

G. Certainly.


S. And isn't gymnastics too about speech, about the good and bad condition of bodies?

G. Yes, quite.

S. Editor’s NotebAnd indeed the other crafts too are this way, Gorgias; each of them is about the speech which is about the thing which each craft is the craft of.

G. Apparently.

S. Then why ever don't you call the other crafts rhetorical, when pg 175they are about speech, since you call whatever craft is about speech rhetorical?

G. Because, Socrates, practically all the knowledge of the other crafts is about manual working and suchlike activities, but there is not such manual work in rhetoric; all its activity and its achievement cis through speech. That is why I claim that the rhetorical craft is about speech, and claim it rightly, so I say.

S. Now do I understand what you want to say it is like? But I'll 5soon know more clearly. Answer me now — we have crafts haven't we?

G. Yes.

S. Out of all the crafts, I suppose, some are mostly work, and need little speech, and some need none at all, but the task of the craft might be accomplished even in silence, as in painting, sculpture, dand many others. I think you speak of crafts like these when you say that rhetoric is not about them. Is that right?

G. Your assumption is quite right, Socrates.


S. But now there are other crafts which carry on everything through speech, and need practically no work, or only a very little, such as arithmetic, calculating, geometry, and indeed draughts-playing and many other crafts; in some of these the speech is equal to the activities, but in most it is predominant, and altogether the Editor’s Noteewhole of their activity and achievement is through speech. I think you are saying that rhetoric is one of the crafts of this kind.

G. What you say is true.

S. And yet I don't think you want to call any of those I've 5mentioned rhetoric — though indeed your actual words were that the craft which achieves its results through speech is rhetoric, and if someone wanted to be quarrelsome in argument (logos) he might assume, 'So, Gorgias, you're calling arithmetic rhetoric?' But in fact I don't think you call either arithmetic or geometry rhetoric.

G. 451Yes, what you think is correct, Socrates, and your assumption is just.

S. Come now, and finish the answer to my question yourself. I 5mean — since in fact rhetoric is one of those crafts which mostly use speech, but there are also other such crafts — try to say — the craft achieving its result in speech about what is rhetoric? For instance, if pg 18someone asked me about one or another of the crafts I was mention-bing just now, 'Socrates, what is the arithmetical craft?', I would tell him, as you just said, that it is one of those which achieve their results through speech. And if he asked me again, 'One of the crafts about what?', I would say that it is one of the crafts about the odd and the even, however many each of them may be. And if he next 5asked, 'And what craft do you call calculation?', I would say that this too is one of those which achieve everything by speech; and if he asked me over again, 'The craft about what?', I would say, like cthose who draft resolutions in the people's Assembly, 'For the rest, calculation is the same as arithmetic, for it is about the same thing, the odd and the even; but it differs this much, that calculation considers how numerous the odd and the even are, both relative to themselves and relative to each other.' And if someone asked about 5astronomy, when I said that this craft too achieves everything by speech, and asked, 'And what is the speech of astronomy about, Socrates?', I would say it is about the movement of the stars, the sun, and the moon, how they are related in speed to each other.

G. Yes, what you say would be right, Socrates.

S. Editor’s NotedCome, then, you too, Gorgias — now rhetoric is actually one of those crafts which carry out and achieve everything through speech, isn't it?

G. That's right.


S. Tell me, then — it is one of the crafts about what? Which of the things that are is it that this speech used by rhetoric is about?

G. The greatest things in human affairs, Socrates, and the best.

S. But this is also something disputable that you're saying, Editor’s NoteeGorgias, and still nothing clear. For I suppose you've heard at drinking-parties people singing this song where they count up the best things — best of all is health, the second is to be born fair 5(kalon), and the third — so the composer of the song says — wealth without deceit.

G. Yes, I've heard it. But why do you say this?

S. 452Because suppose you had standing in front of you all at once the craftsmen of the goods praised by the composer of the song — a doctor, a gymnastic trainer, and a money-maker. And suppose first of all the doctor said, 'Gorgias is deceiving you, Socrates; for it's not pg 195his craft which is about the greatest good for men, but mine.' Then if I asked him, 'And who are you who say this?', he would presumably say he was a doctor. 'Then what are you saying? Is the work of your craft really the greatest good?' 'Of course health is the greatest good, Socrates', he would presumably say; 'what is a greater good for men than health?'

And suppose after him the trainer said again, 'I would also be surprised, Socrates, if Gorgias could display to you any greater good from his craft than I can display from mine.' Then I would say again 5to him too, 'And you, my good man, who are you, and what's your work?' 'A trainer', he would say, 'and my work is to make men fair and strong in body.'

cAfter the trainer I expect the money-maker would say, in complete disdain for them all, 'Well, look and see, Socrates, if Gorgias or anyone else clearly possesses any good greater than wealth.' Then we would say to him, 'What then? Are you the craftsman of that?' He would say 'Yes.' 'And who are you?' 'A money-maker.' 'Well then, do 5you estimate that the greatest good for men is wealth?' we will say. 'Of course', he will say. 'But look, Gorgias here contends that his craft is responsible for a greater good than yours', we would say. Editor’s NotedWell, it's clear that after that he would ask, 'Then what is this good? Let Gorgias answer.'

Come, then, Gorgias, suppose you are being asked by these people and by me, and answer what this thing is which you say is the greatest good for men, and that you are the craftsman of it.


G. It is in reality the greatest good, Socrates, and is responsible for freedom for a man himself, and at the same time for rule over others in his own city.

S. Then what do you say this is?

G. Editor’s NoteeI say it is the power to persuade by speech jurymen in the jury-court, council-men in the Council Chamber, assembly-men in the Assembly, and in every other gathering, whatever political 5gathering there may be. And I tell you, with this power you will hold the doctor as your slave, the trainer as your slave — and this money-maker here will turn out to make money for someone else — not for himself, but for you with the power to speak and persuade the masses.

pg 20

S. 453Now I think you have very nearly shown what craft you think rhetoric is, Gorgias, and if I understand you at all, you are saying that rhetoric is a craftsman of persuasion, and that its whole business and the sum of it results in this; or can you mention any broader 5power for rhetoric than to produce persuasion in the soul of hearers?

G. Not at all, Socrates, but I think you are defining it adequately; for that is the sum of it.

S. bNow listen, Gorgias — for be sure I am persuaded that if anyone ever has a dialogue with anyone else from a desire to know the thing which the discussion is about, I too am one of these people; and I'm sure you are too.

G. Well, Socrates, so what?


S. I'll tell you now. This persuasion from rhetoric that you mention, you can be sure I don't know clearly just what it is and what things it is persuasion about — and yet I have a suspicion at any rate of what persuasion I think you're speaking of and what it is about; but none the less I'll ask you just what you say is the persuasion cfrom rhetoric and about what. Now because of what am I going to ask you when I already have a suspicion, rather than saying myself? Not because of you, but because of the discussion, so that it will progress in the way that will make what is discussed clearest to us. 5For see if you think it is just for me to ask you again. For instance, if I happened to be asking you who among figure-painters is Zeuxis, and you said to me that he is the one who paints figures, wouldn't it be just for me to ask you what sorts of figures he paints, and where?

G. Quite.

S. dBecause there are other figure-painters too, painting many other figures?

G. Yes.


S. But if no one else besides Zeuxis were a painter, your answer would have been a good one?

G. Of course.

S. Come now, and tell me about rhetoric too. Do you think only rhetoric produces persuasion, or do other crafts as well? I'm talking 10about this sort of thing; whoever teaches anything, does he persuade about what he teaches, or not?

G. He most certainly does persuade, Socrates.

pg 21

S. eNow let's talk again about the same crafts as just now. Doesn't arithmetic, and the arithmetician, teach us how many are the things belonging to number?

G. Quite.

S. And doesn't it also persuade?

G. Yes.


S. Then arithmetic too is a craftsman of persuasion?

G. Apparently.

S. If someone asks us what sort of persuasion this is, and about 454what, won't we answer that it is persuasion which teaches about how many the odd and the even are? And we will be able to show that the other crafts we just now mentioned are all craftsmen of persuasion, and of what persuasion, and about what, won't we?

G. Yes.


S. Then not only rhetoric is a craftsman of persuasion.

G. You're right.

S. Then since it is not the only craft which produces this work, but others also do it, wouldn't it be just for us to ask the previous speaker over again after this, as about the figure-painter, 'Rhetoric is the craft of what sort of persuasion, and about what?'? Or don't you Editor’s Notebthink it would be just to ask over again?

G. Yes, I do.

S. Then answer, Gorgias, since you think so too.


G. Well then, Socrates, I say it is the craft of persuasion in jury-courts, and in other mobs, as I was saying just now indeed, and about the things which are just and unjust.

S. I also of course suspected you were talking of this persuasion 10about these things, Gorgias. But so that you won't be surprised if a little later also I ask you something of this kind again, which seems cclear to me, but I ask it over again — for, as I say, I ask questions so that the discussion will proceed to its conclusion in good order — not because of you, but so that we won't get used to surmising and premature snatching at what each of us says, and so that you can 5proceed to your conclusion as you want to on your assumption.

G. And I think you are doing the right thing, Socrates.

S. Come then, and let's examine this as well. Do you call something having learnt?

pg 22

G. I do.

S. And do you call something being convinced?


G. I do.

S. Then do you think having learnt and being convinced or learning and conviction are the same, or different?

G. Myself, Socrates, I think they're different.

S. Yes, you're right in thinking so; and you'll realize it from this: 5— If someone asked you, 'Gorgias, is there any true and false conviction?', you would say there is, I think.

G. Yes.

S. Now then, is there true and false knowledge?

G. Not at all.

S. Then it's clear that it's not the same.

G. What you say is true.

S. Editor’s NoteeAnd yet, both those who have learnt and those who have reached conviction are persuaded.

G. That's so.

S. Then do you want us to lay down two forms of persuasion, one yielding conviction without knowing, the other yielding knowledge?

G. Quite.


S. Then which persuasion does rhetoric produce in jury-courts and the other mobs, about just and unjust things? The persuasion from which conviction comes without knowing, or that from which knowing comes?

G. Presumably it's clear, Socrates, that it's the kind from which conviction comes.

S. 455Then it seems rhetoric is the craftsman of persuasion which yields conviction but does not teach about the just and the unjust.

G. Yes.

S. Then neither does the rhetor teach juries and the other mobs 5about just and unjust things, but only produces conviction. For presumably he couldn't teach such great matters to such a large mob in a short time.

G. No indeed.

S. bCome then, let's see exactly what we are saying about rhetoric; for I tell you, I can't yet grasp what I'm saying either. When there is a gathering of the city about the choice of doctors or shipbuilders or pg 235some other kind of craftsmen, surely the rhetor will not advise them on that? For it's clear that in each choice they should choose the best craftsman. Nor will he advise when there is a gathering about the building of walls or the equipment of harbours or dockyards, but the master-craftsmen; nor again when advice is given about the choice of generals or some disposition against the enemy or Editor’s Notecoccupation of strong points — experts in generalship advise then, not experts in rhetoric. Or what do you say about these cases, Gorgias? For since you say you are a rhetor yourself and make others experts 5in rhetoric, it's a good thing to find out from you what belongs to your craft. You must suppose that I'm also looking out for you now; for perhaps there's actually someone among those in this house who wants to become your pupil — I notice there are some, indeed quite a few — and they might be too embarrassed to cross-question you. Editor’s NotedAnd so you must suppose that when I ask you the questions, they are asking you too, 'What will be in it for us, Gorgias, if we are with you? What will we be able to advise the city about? Only about just and unjust, or also about these things Socrates was speaking of just 5now?' So try to answer them.

G. Yes, I'll try to reveal clearly the whole power of rhetoric to you, Socrates. For you showed the way well yourself. I take it you eknow that these dockyards and the Athenians' walls and the harbour-equipment have come from Themistocles' advice, some from Pericles', but not from the craftsmen.


S. Yes, Gorgias, that's said about Themistocles. And I was listening to Pericles myself when he was advising us about the middle wall.

G. 456Yes, Socrates, and whenever there is a choice of those people you were speaking of just now, you see that the rhetors are those who give advice, and who prevail with their opinions about these things.

S. Yes, that's what amazes me, Gorgias, and that's why I've been 5asking you all this time just what the power of rhetoric is. For it seems to be some superhumanly great power when I look at it like this.

G. Yes, and if only you knew the whole of it, Socrates — that it practically captures all powers and keeps them under its control. Editor’s NotebAnd I'll give you a strong proof of this. I have often in the past gone pg 24with my brother and the other doctors to some sick man refusing to 5drink a medicine or let the doctor cut or burn him; when the doctor couldn't persuade him, I persuaded him, by no other craft than rhetoric. And I tell you, if a rhetor and a doctor went into any city you like and had to (dein) compete in speeches (logos) in the Assembly or in any other gathering about which of them should be chosen Editor’s Noteca doctor, the doctor would end up nowhere, but the man powerful at speaking would be chosen if he wanted it. And if he were competing against any other craftsman whatever, the rhetor more than anyone else would persuade them to choose him; for there is nothing 5on which he wouldn't speak more persuasively than any other craftsman, among a mass of people.

Well, that is the kind of power the craft has, and that is how great it is. But now, Socrates, rhetoric should be used the same way as any dother competitive craft. For indeed someone should not use other competitive crafts against everyone, just because he has learnt to box and to do mixed fighting and to fight in armour so as to beat friends 5and enemies alike — he shouldn't, just because of this, strike, wound or kill his friends. Nor yet, by Zeus, if someone has his body in good condition and has become a boxer after going to the training-school, and then strikes his father and mother, or some other relative or efriend, we shouldn't, just because of that, detest the trainers and teachers of armed combat, and expel them from the cities. For they transmitted these crafts to be used justly, against enemies and those 457who do injustice, in defence, not in aggression; but these pupils pervert their strength and craft, and use it wrongly. And so it is not the teachers who are base (ponēros), nor is the craft responsible or base because of this, but, I take it, those who don't use it rightly. And the 5same account (logos) applies to rhetoric too. For the rhetor is powerful at speaking against anyone about anything, so as to be more persuasive among masses of people about, in short, whatever he wants; but that is no more reason why he should steal their reputation either from the doctors, just because he has the power to do that, or from the other craftsmen, but he should use rhetoric 5justly as well, as any competitive craft should be used. But I think that if someone acquires the rhetorical craft and then does injustice with this power and craft, we should not detest his teacher and pg 25expel him from the city. For he transmitted his craft for a just man to use, but the pupil is using it the opposite way; and so it is just to detest, expel, and kill the one who used it wrongly, but not his teacher.

S. I think that you as well as I, Gorgias, have had experience of 5many discussions (logos), and have noticed this sort of thing in them: — People can't easily define for each other whatever things they undertake to have a dialogue about, and then learn from each dother, teach each other, and so conclude the meeting. No; if they dispute about anything, and one says that the other is speaking wrongly or obscurely, they are annoyed, and think he is speaking from jealousy towards them, competing for victory, not inquiring 5into what is proposed in the discussion; and some end up by parting in the most shameful way, covered in insults, when they have said and heard such abuse of each other that the people present are annoyed for themselves that they have seen fit to give a hearing to characters like these.

Editor’s NoteeNow why do I say this? It's because I think now you're saying things which don't quite follow from or harmonize with the things you said at first about rhetoric. And so I'm afraid to complete my examination (dielenchein) of you, for fear you will suppose I am not 5competing to make clear the matter we are discussing, but to defeat 458you. And so, if you are the same kind of man as I am, I would be pleased to continue the questions; if not, I would rather let it go. And what kind of man am I? One of those who would be pleased to 5be refuted (elenchein) if I say something untrue, and pleased to refute if someone were to say something untrue, yet not at all less pleased to be refuted than to refute. For I think that being refuted is a greater good, in so far as it is a greater good for a man to get rid of the greatest evil himself than to rid someone else of it — for I think there is no evil for a man as great as a false belief about the things which our discussion is about now. And so, if you also say that you are that kind of man, let us continue the dialogue; but if in fact you think we ought to let it go, let us let it go, and finish the discussion.


G. Not at all; I do say that I am also the kind of man you suggest, Socrates. But perhaps we ought to have thought of these people here too. For look, I presented many displays to them for a good while pg 26cbefore you people came as well, and now perhaps we'll prolong it too far if we have a dialogue. So we ought to consider them too, in case we keep some of them back when they want to do something else as well.

Chaer. You can hear the noise yourselves, Gorgias and Socrates, 5from these men who want to hear whatever you say. And for myself I hope I'm never so busy that I would miss discussions like these conducted this way and find something else more pressing to be done.

Call. Editor’s NotedYes indeed, Chaerephon, I tell you, I've been present before at many discussions, but I don't know when I've been pleased by one as much as now; so you'll gratify me even if you want to go on with the dialogue the whole day.


S. Certainly, Callicles; as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing to stop it, if Gorgias is willing.

G. It's coming to be shameful for me to be unwilling at this stage, when I have myself advertised that anyone could ask me what-eever he wanted. If these people want it, then, go on with the dialogue, and ask what you want to.

S. Then I'll tell you what I am surprised at in what you are saying, Gorgias; for of course it may be that you are speaking cor-5rectly, and I take you up wrongly. You say you can make someone a rhetor if he wants to learn from you?

G. Yes.

S. That is, about everything, so as to be persuasive in a mob, not 459teaching, but persuading?

G. Quite.

S. Now remember you were saying just now that even about the healthy the rhetor will be more persuasive than the doctor.

G. Yes indeed, I was saying so — in a mob, that is.

S. Doesn't 'in a mob' come to this — among those who don't 5know? For presumably he won't be more persuasive than the doctor among those who know?

G. You're right.

S. So if he will be more persuasive than the doctor, he turns out being more persuasive than the one who knows?

G. Quite.

pg 27

S. bThough he isn't himself a doctor — isn't that right?

G. Yes

S. And yet the non-doctor presumably has no knowledge of those things which the doctor has knowledge of.

G. Clearly not.

S. Then the man who doesn't know will be more persuasive than the man who knows among those who don't know, when the rhetor 5is more persuasive than the doctor. Is that what comes about, or something else?

G. That comes about in this case, anyhow.

S. And aren't the rhetor and rhetoric the same way with all the other crafts too? There is no need (dein) for it to know how things Editor’s Notecactually are, but only to have found some persuasive device so that to those who don't know it will seem to know more than those who know.

G. And doesn't that make it very easy, Socrates? You needn't 5learn the other crafts, but only this one, and you never lose to the craftsman.

S. Whether the rhetor does or doesn't lose to the others because he's this way — we'll consider that by and by if it's at all relevant to the discussion. But for the moment let's consider this first, whether Editor’s Notedthe rhetor is the same way about the just and the unjust, the fine and the shameful, and the good and the bad as about the healthy and the other things which the other crafts are about — he doesn't know the things themselves, what is good or bad, what is fine or 5shameful or just or unjust, but has devised persuasion about them so that though he doesn't know, among those who don't know he Editor’s Noteeappears to know, rather than the man who knows. Or must he know these things, and should someone who is to learn rhetoric know these things before he comes to you? Or if he doesn't, will you, as teacher of rhetoric, teach none of these things to someone who comes to 5you — since it's not your work — but make him seem to know these things among the many when he doesn't know them, and to seem good when he isn't? Or will you be altogether unable to teach him rhetoric unless he already knows the truth about these things? Or how is it 460about these things, Gorgias? And by Zeus, do reveal the power of rhetoric, as you lately said you would, and tell us just what it is.

pg 28

G. Well, Socrates, I think that if someone in fact doesn't know these things, he will learn them also from me.


S. Hold it there — you're speaking well. If ever you make anyone a rhetor, he must know the just and the unjust things, either previously, or else later, learning them from you.

G. Editor’s NotebQuite.

S. Well now; is someone who has learnt carpenter's things a carpenter, or isn't he?

G. Yes, he is.

S. And isn't someone who has learnt musical things a musician?

G. Yes.

S. And isn't someone who has learnt medical things a doctor? And in other cases by the same account (logos) isn't the man who has 5learnt each of these things such as his knowledge makes him?

G. Quite.

S. Then according to this account isn't also the man who has learnt just things just?

G. Certainly, I presume so.

S. And, I take it, the just man does just things.

G. Yes.

S. cThen isn't it necessary for the rhetor to be just, and for the just man to want to do just things?

G. Yes, apparently.

S. Then the just man will never want to do injustice.

G. Necessarily.


S. And it is necessary from this account for the rhetor to be just.

G. Yes.

S. Then the rhetor will never want to do injustice.

G. Apparently not.

S. Well, do you remember saying a little earlier that we should dnot accuse the trainers or expel them from the cities if the boxer uses his boxing craft, and uses it unjustly and does injustice, and similarly if the rhetor uses rhetoric unjustly, it's not the teacher who 5should be accused or expelled from the city, but the man who does injustice, who uses rhetoric wrongly. Was that said, or not?

G. It was said.

pg 29

S. Editor’s NoteeAnd now we find that this same man, the rhetor, would never do injustice — don't we?

G. Apparently.

S. Now it was being said in the opening discussions (logos), Gorgias, that rhetoric is about speech (logos), not speech about 5the odd and even, but speech about the just and unjust. Isn't that so?

G. Yes.

S. Well, when you were saying that, I supposed that rhetoric would never be an unjust thing, when it always produces its speech about justice; and when you were saying a little later that the rhetor 461might actually use rhetoric unjustly, that was why I was surprised, and thought that the things being said did not harmonize; and so I made those remarks (logos), that if you thought it a gain to be refuted, as I think, the dialogue would be worth while, but otherwise 5we should let it go. But now when we examine the question, you see for yourself that it's agreed on the contrary that the rhetor is powerless to use his rhetoric unjustly and to be willing to do injustice. And so how exactly these things stand — by the dog, Gorgias, it will take quite a long meeting to investigate adequately.

Polus. What, Socrates? Do you really believe what you're saying now about rhetoric? Do you really suppose — just because Gorgias 5was ashamed not to agree further with you that the rhetor would also know the just, the fine, and the good things, and that if he didn't know them when he came to Gorgias, Gorgias himself would teach him, and then perhaps from that agreement some opposition Editor’s Noteccame about in his statements (logos) — the thing that you're so satisfied about, when you yourself led him into those questions — for who do you suppose would deny that he himself knew the just things and would teach others? It's simply the height of bad breeding to lead the discussion (logos) to such things.


S. Finest Polus, that's exactly why we acquire companions and sons, so that when we get old and stumble, you younger people will come and set our lives straight, both in our actions and in our dspeech. And so now, if Gorgias and I are stumbling at all in our speech, you must come and set us straight — that is the just thing — and I'm willing to withdraw anything you like of what has been pg 30agreed, if you think it was wrongly agreed — provided that you are careful about one point for me.


P. What's that?

S. If you restrain those long speeches you began earlier, Polus.

P. What? Won't I be at liberty to say as much as I want to?

S. Editor’s NoteeIndeed it would he hard on you, my good friend, if you came to Athens, where there is the most liberty to speak in Greece, and then you were the only one here denied it. But on the other hand consider this; if you made long speeches, and weren't willing to 5answer the question asked, wouldn't it be hard on me, if I'm not to 462be allowed to go away and not listen to you? No — if you care at all about the discussion that has just finished and you want to set it straight again, as I was saying now, then withdraw whatever you please, ask and answer in your turn, like Gorgias and me, and examine 5(elenchein) and be examined. For I take it you also say you know what Gorgias says he knows, don't you?

P. I do indeed.

S. And don't you also tell people to ask you whatever they want to any time, claiming that you know how to answer?


P. Quite.

S. Editor’s NotebWell then, do whichever of these you want to now; ask questions or answer them.

P. All right, I'll do that. Now answer me, Socrates: — Since 5you think Gorgias is at a loss about rhetoric, which do you say it is?

S. Are you asking me which craft I say it is?

P. I am indeed.

S. Well, I think it's no craft, Polus, to tell you the truth.


P. Then what do you think rhetoric is?

S. Editor’s NotecA thing which you say has produced craft, in the work I've recently read.

P. What's this you're talking about?

S. I say it's a certain knack.

P. Then you think rhetoric is a knack?


S. I do — unless you say something else.

P. A knack of what?

S. Of the production of a certain gratification and pleasure.

pg 31

P. Then don't you think rhetoric is a fine thing, the ability to gratify people?

S, What's that, Polus? Have you already found out from me what dI say it is, so that you ask the next question, if I don't think it's fine?

P. Yes; haven't I found out that you say it's a certain knack?


S. Well then, since you admire gratification, would you like to gratify me in a small thing?

P. Yes, I would.

S. Ask me now what craft I think cookery is.

P. All right, I ask you, what craft is cookery?


S. No craft, Polus.

P. Then what? Tell me.

S. All right; I tell you it's a certain knack.

P. What knack? Tell me.

S. eAll right, Polus, I tell you it's a knack of producing pleasure and gratification.

P. Then is cookery the same as rhetoric?

S. No, not at all; but it's a part of the same practice.


P. What practice is this you're speaking of?

S. I'm afraid it may be a bit ill-bred to say what's true. For I shrink from saying it, because of Gorgias, for fear he may think I'm ridiculing his own practice. But anyhow, whether the rhetoric 463Gorgias practises is like this, I don't know — for in fact nothing was made clear for us in our recent discussion about just what he thinks — but anyhow what I call rhetoric is a part of something not at all fine.


G. A part of what, Socrates? Tell us; don't be embarrassed for my sake.

S. Well, Gorgias, I think it is a practice, not of a craftsman, but of a guessing, brave soul, naturally clever at approaching people; and bI call the sum of it flattery. I think this practice has many other parts too, and cookery is also one of them; it seems to be a craft, but 5on my account (logos) it isn't a craft, but a knack and procedure. I call rhetoric a part of this too, and also cosmetics and sophistry — these four parts set over four things. And so if Polus wants to find Editor’s Notecout, he should find out; for he hasn't yet found out what sort of part of flattery I say rhetoric is; he hasn't noticed that I haven't yet pg 32answered, but goes on to ask if I don't think it is fine. But I won't 5answer him whether I think rhetoric is fine or shameful until I first answer what it is — that would not be just, Polus. But if you want to find out, ask me what sort of part of flattery I say rhetoric is.

P. All right, I'm asking you. Answer what part it is.

S. Editor’s NotedThen would you understand if I answered? Well, on my account rhetoric is an image of a part of politics.

P. All right, then; do you say it is fine or shameful?


S. I say it is shameful, since I call evil things shameful — for I must (dein) reply to you as though you already knew what I am saying.

G. By Zeus, Socrates, I don't understand what you're saying either.

S. Editor’s NoteeAnd reasonably enough, Gorgias; for I'm not saying anything clear yet. But Polus the Colt here is fresh and frisky.

G. Well, let him alone and tell me how you say rhetoric is an image of a part of politics.


S. All right, I'll try to explain what I think rhetoric is; and if it 464isn't really that, Polus here will refute me. You call something body and soul?

G. Of course.

S. And don't you also think there is a good condition of each of them?

G. I do.

S. Well then, is there also an apparent good condition which isn't one? For instance, I'm talking about this sort of thing: — Many 5people appear to have their bodies in good condition, and no one would easily notice that they are not, except a doctor or a gymnastics trainer.

G. You're right.

S. I say there is this sort of thing both for the body and for the soul. It makes the body or the soul appear to be in good condition, Editor’s Notebbut it's still in no better condition.

G. That's right.

S. Come then, I'll try to display more clearly to you what I'm saying, if I can. For these two things I say there are two crafts; the 5one set over the soul I call the political craft; I can't off-hand find a pg 33single name for the single craft set over the body, but still body-care is one craft, and I say there are two parts of it, the gymnastic and the medical crafts. The part of politics corresponding to gymnastics Editor’s Notecis legislation, and the part corresponding to medicine is justice. Each member of these pairs — medicine and gymnastics, justice and legislation, shares with the other, in so far as they are both about the same thing; but still they differ to some extent from each other. 5Here are four crafts, taking care of either body or soul, aiming at the best. Flattery noticed them — I don't say it knew, but it guessed — and divided itself into four impersonating each of these parts, and Editor’s Notedpretends to be what it impersonates; it does not care a bit for the best, but lures and deceives foolishness with what is pleasantest at the moment, making itself seem to be worth most. Cookery impersonates medicine, then, and pretends to know the best foods for the body; and so if a doctor and a cook had to (dein) compete among children, or among men as foolish as children, to decide which of ethem understands more about worthy and base food, the doctor or the cook, then the doctor would die of starvation.

Well then, I call it flattery, and I say this sort of thing is 465shameful, Polus — since I'm saying this to you — because it guesses at the pleasant without the best. And I say it is not a craft, but a knack, because it has no rational account (logos) by which it applies the 5things it applies, to say what they are by nature, so that it cannot say what is the explanation of each thing; and I don't call anything a craft which is unreasoning (alogon). If you dispute any of this, I am ready to undergo a discussion (logos).

Editor’s NotebAs I say, then, cookery is the flattery disguised as medicine; and cosmetics is disguised as gymnastics in the same way — crooked, 5deceptive, mean, slavish, deceiving by shaping, colouring, smoothing, dressing, making people assume a beauty (kallos) which is not their own, and neglecting the beauty of their own which would come through gymnastics. To avoid going on at length, I want to tell you, Editor’s Notecas the geometricians would — for now perhaps you might follow me — as cosmetics is to gymnastics, so is sophistry to legislation, and as cookery is to medicine, so is rhetoric to justice. But as I say, this is how they differ by nature, but since they are so close to each other, 5sophists and rhetors are mixed up in the same area and about the pg 34same thing, so that they don't know what to make of themselves, and other people don't know what to make of them. Indeed, if the dsoul did not control the body, but the body controlled itself, and if the soul did not examine and distinguish cookery and medicine, but the body by itself discriminated by guesswork from the gratifications to it, then the Anaxagorean condition would be everywhere, Polus 5my friend — you're familiar with that; 'all things together' would be mixed up in the same area, with no distinction between matters of medicine and health and of cookery.

What I say rhetoric is, then — you've heard it. It corresponds to cookery, doing in the soul what cookery does in the body. Now eperhaps I've done something absurd. I didn't allow you to make long speeches, but I've drawn out my own speech to this length. Well, it's fair for you to excuse me; for when I was speaking briefly, you weren't understanding, and you couldn't do anything at all with the 466answer I gave you, but you needed an explanation. And so if I can't do anything with your answer either, then draw out your speeches; but if I can, let me do it; for that's only just. And now if you can do anything with this answer, do it.


P. All right then, what are you saying? You think rhetoric is flattery?

S. No. I said it's a part of flattery. Can't you remember at your age, Polus? What will you be like before long?


P. Then do you think that good rhetors count as worthless in the cities, as flatterers?

S. Editor’s NotebAre you asking that as a question, or are you beginning some speech?

P. I'm asking.

S. I think they don't count at all.

P. What do you mean, they don't count? Don't they have the 5greatest power in the cities?

S. No — not if you say that having power is a good to the man with the power.

P. Well, I do say so.

S. Then I think the rhetors have the least power of anyone in the city.

P. cWhat? Aren't they like tyrants? Don't they kill whoever they pg 35want to, and expropriate and expel from the cities whoever they think fit (dokein)?

S. By the dog, Polus, I tell you, I can't decide about each thing you say whether you're speaking for yourself and presenting your 5own opinion, or asking me.

P. I tell you, I'm asking you.

S. All right, my friend. Then are you asking me two questions at once?

P. How are they two questions?

S. Editor’s NotedWeren't you just now saying something like this; 'Don't rhetors kill whoever they want to, like tyrants, and expropriate and expel from the cities whoever they think fit?'?

P. Yes, I said so.


S. Then I say that these are two questions here, and I'll answer you both of them. For I say, Polus, that both the rhetors and the Editor’s Noteetyrants have least power in the cities, as I was saying just now; for they do practically nothing, I say, that they want to, but do whatever they think is best.

P. And isn't this having great power?

S. No — at least Polus doesn't agree.


P. I don't agree? Of course I agree.

S. No, by the.… Indeed you don't. For you said that having great power is a good to the man who has it.

P. Yes. I still say so.

S. Then do you think it is a good if someone does whatever 10seems best to him, when he has no intelligence? Do you call even this having great power?

P. No, I don't.

S. Then won't you show that the rhetors have intelligence and 467that rhetoric is a craft, not flattery, by refuting me? If you leave me unrefuted, the rhetors who do what they think fit in the cities and 5the tyrants will have gained no good by it; but power, you say is a good, and you also agree that doing what we think fit without intelligence is an evil, don't you?

P. Yes. I do.

S. Then how are the rhetors or the tyrants to have great power in pg 36the cities, unless Socrates is refuted by Polus and convinced that 10they do what they want to?

P. Editor’s NotebThis fellow …

S. I say that they don't do what they want to. So come on, refute me.

P. Weren't you just now agreeing that they do what they think best?


S. Yes, and I agree now too.

P. Then don't they do what they want to?

S. I deny it.

P. Though they do what they think fit?

S. I agree.


P. This is shocking and monstrous stuff you're saying, Socrates.

S. Editor’s NotecDon't abuse me, peerless Polus — to address you in your own style. But if you have questions, display my mistake. If you haven't, answer yourself.

P. All right, I'm ready to answer; then I'll really find out what you're saying.


S. Then do you think people want the thing they are doing at any time, or the thing for the sake of which they do the thing they do? For instance, do you think that those who take drugs from doctors want what they're doing, to take the drug and suffer pain, or 10the thing — being healthy — for the sake of which they take it?

P. dIt's clear they want to be healthy.

S. And similarly for seafarers, and those who do other kinds of business for profit. What they want isn't what they do at any time — for who wants to go sailing and be in danger and have all that bother? 5But, I take it, what they want is the thing for the sake of which they go sailing; to be wealthy — for they sail for the sake of wealth.

P. Quite.

S. Then isn't it just the same in every case? If anyone does something for the sake of something, he doesn't want the thing he does, Editor’s Noteebut the thing for the sake of which he does it?

P. Yes.

S. Now is there any of the things that are which isn't either good or bad, or intermediate between them, neither good nor bad?

P. It must be as you say, Socrates.

pg 375

S. Then don't you say wisdom is a good, and health and wealth and other such things, and the opposities of them are evils?

P. I do.

S. And do you say that the neither good nor evil things are of 468this kind — things which sometimes share in the good, sometimes in the evil, and sometimes in neither, things like sitting, walking, running, sailing, and again things like stones and sticks and other such things? Aren't these what you speak of, or do you call some other things the neither good nor evil things?

P. No — these things.


S. Then do people do these intermediate things for the sake of the good things, when they do them, or do they do the good things for the sake of the intermediate things?

P. Editor’s NotebPresumably they do the intermediate things for the sake of the good things.

S. Then it is in pursuit of the good that we both walk when we walk, thinking it is better, and on the other hand stand still when we stand still, for the sake of the same thing, the good. Isn't that so?

P. Yes.


S. Then don't we also kill, if we kill anyone, and expel and expropriate them, thinking that it is better for us if we do it than if we don't?

P. Yes, quite.

S. Then it is for the sake of the good that those who do these things do them all.

P. I agree.

S. Now didn't we agree that whatever things we do for the sake cof something, we don't want the things we do, but the thing for the sake of which we do them?

P. Absolutely.

S. Then we don't want to butcher or expel from the cities or expropriate, just like that, but if these things are beneficial, we want to 5do them, but if they are harmful, we don't want to. For we want good things, you say, but we don't want the neither good nor evil things, nor the evil things. Is that right? Do you think what I say is true, or not, Polus? Why don't you answer?

P. It's true.

pg 38

S. Editor’s NotedThen since we agree on this, if someone kills a man or expels him from the city, or expropriates him, whether he is a tyrant or a rhetor, thinking it is better for him, when in fact it is worse, he presumably does what he thinks fit. Isn't that so?


P. Yes.

S. Then does he also do what he wants to, if the things he does are in fact bad? Why don't you answer?

P. No, I don't think he does what he wants to.

S. Editor’s NoteeThen is there any way such a man has great power in this city, since having great power is some kind of good, according to your agreement?

P. No, there's no way.

S. Then I was saying what is true, when I said it is possible for someone who does what he thinks fit in a city not to have great 5power, and not to do what he wants.

P. Ha! I suppose you wouldn't choose to have the liberty to do what you think fit in the city, rather than to lack it, Socrates, and you aren't envious whenever you see that someone has killed or expropriated or imprisoned anyone he thought fit!


S. Justly or unjustly, are you saying?

P. 469Whichever he does, isn't it something to envy both ways?

S. Quiet, Polus.

P. But why?


S. Because we oughtn't to envy the unenviable or the wretched, but to pity them.

P. What? Do you think that's how it is with the people I'm speaking of?

S. Of course.


P. Then whoever kills anyone he thinks fit, killing him justly, you think he's wretched and pitiable?

S. No, I don't; but not enviable either.

P. Didn't you say just now that he was wretched?

S. Editor’s NotebI said the man who kills unjustly is wretched, my friend, and pitiable as well; but the man who kills justly is unenviable.

P. Well, I suppose the man who is killed unjustly is pitiable and wretched.

pg 39

S. Less than the man who kills unjustly, Polus, and less than the man who is killed justly.

P. And how's that, Socrates?

S. This way: — because doing injustice is really the greatest of evils.


P. What? Is that the greatest? Isn't suffering injustice greater?

S. No, not at all.

P. Then would you want to suffer injustice rather than do it?

S. Editor’s NotecI'd want neither of them. But if it were necessary for me either to do or to suffer injustice, I'd elect to suffer injustice rather than do it.

P. Then you wouldn't choose to be a tyrant?

S. No — not if you say being a tyrant is what I say it is.


P. Well, I say it's what I said just now, having the liberty to do whatever you think fit in the city, so that you can kill, expel, go to all lengths, following your own opinion.

S. My splendid man, let me speak, and then object with your dargument. Suppose I took a dagger up my sleeve, and said to you in a crowded market-place, 'Polus, I've just got a terrific tyrannical 5power. For if I think that one of the people you see should be dead on the spot, he'll be dead, whoever I think fit. And if I think one of them should have his head smashed, he'll have it smashed on the espot; if his cloak should be in pieces, it will be in pieces — that's how great my power is in this city.' And now, if you didn't believe me and I showed you the dagger, when you saw it, I suppose, you'd say, 'Socrates, everyone could have great power that way; that way any house you thought fit might be burnt as well, yes, and the 5Athenians' dockyards and triremes and all the boats, private and public.' So after all, having great power isn't this, doing what you think fit; or do you think so?

P. Well, not that way.

S. 470Then can you say why you object to that kind of power?

P. Yes, I can.

S. Well, why? Say.


P. Because someone who acts that way is bound to be punished.

S. And isn't being punished evil?

P. Of course.

S. Then don't you think once again, my excellent friend, that if pg 40acting beneficially follows for someone acting as he thinks fit, then it is a good, and this is apparently having great power; but otherwise Editor’s Notebit is an evil, and is having little power. And let's consider this too: — Don't we agree that it's sometimes better to do the things we were mentioning just now, to kill, expel, and expropriate people, and sometimes not?


P. Quite.

S. Then this apparently is agreed both by you and by me.

P. Yes.

S. Then when do you say it's better to do these things? Tell me 10what definition you define.

P. No — you answer that, Socrates.

S. cWell, Polus, if it pleases you more to hear it from me, I say — whenever someone does these things justly, it's better, and whenever unjustly, worse.


P. Yes, it's hard to refute you, Socrates. Why, couldn't even a child refute you and show that what you're saying isn't true?

S. Then I'll be very grateful to the child, and equally grateful to you if you refute me and rid me of nonsense; now don't be slow to benefit a friend, but refute me.

P. Editor’s NotedWell, Socrates, there's certainly no need (dein) to refute you with old stories. For these things that have happened yesterday or the day before are enough to refute you thoroughly and show that many men doing injustice are happy.

S. What sorts of things are these?


P. I suppose you see this character Archelaus, son of Perdiccas, ruler of Macedon?

S. Well, if I don't, I hear of him.

P. Then do you think he's happy or wretched?

S. I don't know, Polus; I've never met the man.

P. Editor’s NoteeWhat? You could tell if you'd met him, but otherwise you can't tell at once that he's happy?

S. Indeed I can't, by Zeus?

P. Then it's clear, Socrates, that you'll say you can't even tell 5that the Great King is happy.

S. Yes, and I'll say what's true. For I don't know how he is off for education and justice.

pg 41

P. What? Is the whole of happiness in that?


S. Yes, so I say, Polus. For I say that the fine and good man and woman is happy, and the unjust and base is wretched.

P. Then this fellow Archelaus is wretched, on your account 471(logos)?

S. Yes, my friend, if he is unjust.


P. Why, of course he's unjust! None of the rule he now has was fitting for him. He was the son of a woman who was the slave of Alcetas, the brother of Perdiccas. By justice he was a slave of Alcetas, and if he had wanted to do the just things, he would have stayed a slave to Alcetas and been happy, on your account. But as it is, he's turned out incredibly wretched, since he's done the greatest injustices. Editor’s NotebFor first of all he sent for this man Alcetas, his master and uncle, pretending that he would restore to him the kingdom taken off him by Perdiccas. He entertained the uncle and his son Alexander, his own cousin of almost the same age. He got them drunk, shoved them into a wagon, took them off at night, then murdered and got rid of them. And after doing these injustices, he became utterly wretched cwithout noticing it, and didn't regret it. A little later he didn't want to become happy by justly bringing up his brother, the legitimate son of Perdiccas, a boy of about seven to whom the kingdom was coming by justice, and by restoring the kingdom to him. Instead he 5threw him into a well and drowned him, and then told his mother Cleopatra that he had fallen in and drowned when he was chasing a goose. And as you see now, since he's done the greatest injustices of anyone in Macedon, he's the most wretched of all the Macedonians, Editor’s Notedand not the happiest. And I suppose there is some Athenian, beginning with yourself, who would choose to become any other Macedonian rather than Archelaus.

S. I praised you at the beginning of our discussion (logos) too, Polus, just as now, because I think you're well educated in rhetoric. But I still say, as I said then, that you've neglected dialogue. And now is this the argument (logos) by which even a child could refute me? And do you think I'm quite refuted by you now with this argument when I say that the man who does injustice is not happy? How's that, my good friend? I tell you, I agree with you on none of the things you say.

pg 42

P. Editor’s NoteeNo, because you don't want to agree, though you think as I say.

S. My excellent friend, it's because you're trying to refute me rhetorically, like those who think they're refuting people in the jury-courts. For there one side think they are refuting the other 5whenever they produce many respectable witnesses for whatever statements (logos) they make, and the man who says the opposite provides himself with only one or none at all. But this kind of 472refutation is worth nothing towards the truth. For sometimes someone might actually be beaten by many false witnesses thought to amount to something. And in this case almost all Athenians and foreigners will agree with you on what you're speaking of, if you want to produce witnesses against me to say that I'm saying what is not true. 5You will have for witnesses, if you want them, Nicias, the son of Niceratus, with his brothers, whose tripods are in the precinct of Dionysus standing in a row; or, if you want, Aristocrates, the son of Scellias, who in turn has that fine dedication in the precinct of Pythian Apollo; or, if you want, the whole house of Pericles, or whatever other family you want to select from those in Athens. But I, all alone, don't agree; for you don't compel me, but you produce 5all these false witnesses against me and try to dislodge me from my property and the truth. But if I can't produce you, all alone by yourself, as a witness agreeing on the things I'm talking about, I think I have achieved nothing of any account (logos) in what our discussion (logos) is about. And I don't think you'll have achieved anything either unless I, all alone, bear witness for you, and you let all the others go. Here is one form of refutation, so you and many others think. But there is another one too, so I think, for my part. So let's 5compare them with each other, and look whether they will differ at all from each other. For remember, the things we are disputing over are not at all trivial, but they are practically the things which it is finest to know, and most shameful not to know; for the sum of them is to come to know or not to know who is happy and who is not. Now first our discussion is about this; you think that a man who does injustice and is unjust is capable of being blessed, since you think Archelaus is unjust but happy. Are we to suppose that this is what you think?

pg 435

P. Yes, quite.

S. And I say he's incapable (adunaton) of it. Here is one thing we dispute about. All right. Now will he be happy when he does injustice, if he meets justice and vengeance?

P. Not at all. For that way he would be most wretched.

S. eBut now if the man doing injustice doesn't meet justice, he'll be happy, on your account?

P. That's what I say.


S. And on my view, Polus, the man who does injustice and the unjust man is wretched in any case, but more wretched if he doesn't pay justice and suffer vengeance when he does injustice, and less wretched if he pays justice, and meets justice from gods and men.

P. 473These are absurd things you're undertaking to say Socrates.

S. And I'll try to make you say the same things as me, my friend — for I regard you as a friend. Now at any rate the things we differ 5about are these. Consider for yourself. I said, didn't I, in the earlier discussion that doing injustice is worse than suffering it?

P. Quite.

S. Whereas you said suffering it is worse.

P. Yes.


S. And I said that those who do injustice are wretched, and I was refuted by you.

P. Yes, by Zeus.

S. Editor’s NotebSo you think, Polus.

P. Yes, and I think what's true.

S. Perhaps. Now you think those who do injustice are happy if they don't pay justice?


P. Quite.

S. Whereas I say that these people are the most wretched while those who pay justice are less wretched. Do you want to refute this too?

P. Oh, that's even harder to refute than the first claim was, Socrates.


S. No, Polus, it's impossible. For what's true is never refuted.

P. Editor’s NotecWhat do you say? If someone doing injustice is caught plotting against a tyranny, he's put on the rack, he's mutilated, his eyes are burnt out, and when he has himself suffered all kinds of other terrible pg 44outrages, and has seen his wife and children suffer them, he's finally 5crucified or burnt in a pitch coat, will he be happier than if he escapes punishment, becomes tyrant, and lives out his life ruling in the city, doing whatever he wants to, envied and congratulated for Editor’s Notedhis happiness by the citizens and by foreigners too? Is this what you say can't be refuted?

S. You're trying to scare me with bogy-men this time, noble Polus, and not refuting me. Just now you were calling witnesses. Still, 5refresh my memory a little. You said, if he's unjustly plotting against a tyranny?

P. I did.

S. Then neither of them will ever be happier, neither the one who has achieved the tyranny unjustly nor the one who pays justice — for out of two wretched ones there couldn't be a happier one — Editor’s Noteebut still the one who escapes and has gained the tyranny is more wretched. What's this Polus? You're laughing? Is this still another kind of refutation, to laugh someone down whenever he says something, but not to refute him?

P. Don't you think you've been thoroughly refuted, Socrates, 5when you say things like this, that not a single man would say? For look, ask one of these people here.

S. I'm not one of the politicians, Polus. Last year I was chosen by lot to sit on the Council, and when my tribe was presiding and I 474had to put the question to the vote, I caused laughter when I didn't know how to put the question. So don't tell me now either to put the question to a vote, to these people present; but if you've no better refutation than these, then do what I was saying just now — 5give me my turn, and face examination as I think it should be. For I know how to produce just one witness to whatever I say — the man I am having a discussion with whoever he may be — but I forget about the many. I know how to put the question to a vote to one man, but I don't even have a dialogue with the many. And so see if you will be willing in your turn to undergo examination, by answering the questions asked. For I think that I and you and other men believe that doing injustice is worse than suffering it, and that not paying 5justice is worse than paying it.

P. And I think that I don't think it, and neither does any other pg 45man. For look; would you choose to suffer injustice rather than do it?

S. Yes, and so would you, and so would all other men.


P. Far from it. I wouldn't; you wouldn't; no one else would.

S. Editor’s NotecThen you'll answer?

P. Certainly; for I'm anxious to know what on earth you'll say.

S. Well then, so that you'll know, tell me this, as though I were 5asking you from the beginning: — Which do you think is worse, Polus — doing injustice or suffering it?

P. I think suffering it is worse.

S. Now then — do you think it's more shameful to do injustice or to suffer it? Answer.

P. To do it.

S. Then isn't it also worse, if it's more shameful?

P. Not at all.

S. Editor’s NotedI understand. Apparently you don't think that the same thing is fine and good or evil and shameful.

P. Certainly not.

S. Then what about this? All fine things, such as bodies, colours, shapes, sounds, practices — do you look to nothing in calling them fine each time? First of all, for instance, don't you say that fine 5bodies are fine either because of use, for whatever each of them is useful for, or because of some pleasure, if they give onlookers enjoyment when they look on? Can you mention anything besides these things about what is fine in a body?

P. eNo. I can't.

S. And don't you call all the other things fine too in this way — shapes and colours — either because of some pleasure or because of some benefit or because of both?

P. I do.

S. And don't you call sounds and everything to do with music 5fine in the same way?

P. Yes.

S. And further, the case of laws (nomos) and practices — the fine ones — presumably does not lie beyond this, being either beneficial or pleasant or both.

P. 475I agree.

pg 46

S. And isn't it the same with the fineness of branches of learning?

P. Quite. Indeed, you're defining finely now, Socrates, when you define the fine by pleasure and good.

S. And surely also when I define the shameful by the opposite, 5distress and evil?

P. That must be so.

S. Then when one of two fine things is finer, it is finer by exceeding either in one of these things or in both, either pleasure or benefit or both.

P. Quite.

S. bAnd further, when one of two shameful things is more shameful, it will be more shameful by exceeding either in distress or in evil. Mustn't that be so?

P. Yes.

S. All right, then. What was being said just now about doing and suffering injustice? Weren't you saying that suffering it is worse and 5doing it is more shameful?

P. I was.

S. Then if doing injustice is more shameful than suffering it, then isn't it either more distressing, and more shameful by exceeding in distress, or by exceeding in evil, or in both?

P. Of course.

S. Editor’s NotecThen first of all, let's see if doing injustice exceeds suffering it in distress, and whether those who do injustice are more in pain than those who suffer it.

P. That's certainly not right, Socrates.

S. Then it doesn't exceed in distress.

P. No indeed.


S. And if it doesn't exceed in distress, it couldn't any longer exceed in both.

P. Apparently not.

S. Then it remains open that it exceeds in the other thing.

P. Yes.

S. In evil.

P. It looks like it.

S. Then by exceeding in evil doing injustice is worse than suffering it.

pg 47

P. Yes. It's clear that it is.

S. Now didn't the mass of men and you agree with us earlier that Editor’s Noteddoing injustice is more shameful than suffering it?

P. Yes.

S. And now it has turned out worse.

P. It looks like it.


S. Then would you choose the more evil and shameful over the less? Don't shrink from answering, Polus — you won't be harmed at all; but present yourself nobly to the argument (logos) as to a edoctor; answer, and say either yes or no to what I'm asking you.

P. Well, no; I wouldn't choose it, Socrates.

S. And would any other man?

P. I don't think so — by this argument anyway.

S. Then I was saying what was true, that neither I nor you nor 5any other man would choose doing injustice over suffering it; for it's actually worse.

P. Apparently.

S. You see, then, Polus, that when this refutation is compared with that one it is not at all like it. You have everyone else agreeing 476with you except me, but I am quite satisfied with you just by yourself, agreeing and being my witness. I put the question for a vote to you alone, and let all the others go. Well, let us take this to be so. And after this, let's consider the thing we disputed about second, 5whether doing injustice and paying the just penalty is the greatest of evils, as you supposed, or not paying it is worse, as I supposed for my part.

Now let's consider it this way. Do you call paying justice and being punished (kolazesthai) justly for doing injustice the same thing?

P. I do.

S. bThen can you say that not all just things are fine in so far as they are just? Consider carefully before you say.

P. No, I think they are, Socrates.

S. Now consider this too: — If someone does something, must 5there also be something affected by the doer?

P. I think so.

S. Is it affected by what the doer does to it, and by such a thing pg 48as the doer does to it? I'm saying this kind of thing; if something strikes, must something be struck?

P. It must.

S. cAnd if the striker strikes hard or quickly, mustn't the thing struck also be struck in the same way?

P. Yes.

S. Then what is done to the thing struck is of whatever kind the striker does?

P. Quite.

S. And if someone burns, mustn't something be burnt?

P. Of course.


S. And if he burns hard or painfully, mustn't the thing burnt be burnt however the burner burns?

P. Quite.

S. And if something cuts, isn't it the same account (logos)? For something is cut.

P. Yes.

S. Editor’s NotedAnd if the cut is large or deep or painful, the thing cut is cut with the kind of cut with which the cutter cuts?

P. Apparently.

S. Then altogether, see if you agree, as I was saying just now, about everything — that whatever the doer does to it, that is how the thing affected is affected.

P. Yes. I agree.


S. Now if this is agreed, is paying justice being affected somehow or doing something?

P. It must be being affected, Socrates.

S. And by some doer?

P. Of course; by the punisher.

S. eAnd the man who punishes rightly punishes justly?

P. Yes.

S. Doing just things, or not?

P. Just things.

S. Then isn't the man who pays justice in being punished affected by just things?

P. Apparently.

S. And, I take it, just things are agreed to be fine.

pg 49

P. Quite.


S. Then one of these two does fine things, and one is affected by them, the man punished.

P. Yes.

S. 477If they are fine, aren't they good? For they are either pleasant or beneficial.

P. They must be.

S. Then the man who pays justice is affected by good things.

P. It looks like it.

S. Then he is benefited?

P. Yes.


S. Does he get the benefit I suppose? Does he become better in soul if he is justly punished?

P. Yes, that's likely.

S. Then the man who pays justice is rid of evil of soul?

P. Yes.

S. Editor’s NotebThen is he rid of the greatest evil? Consider it this way: — In the condition of his possessions do you see any other evil state of a man than poverty?

P. No. Only poverty.

S. And what about the condition of the body? Would you say that its evil state is weakness and sickness and ugliness (aischos) and 5the like?

P. I would.

S. And wouldn't you also say that there is a kind of baseness in the soul?

P. Of course.

S. Then don't you call this injustice and stupidity and cowardice and the like?

P. Certainly.

S. Editor’s NotecNow for these — possessions, body, and soul, three things — haven't you mentioned three kinds of baseness, poverty, sickness, injustice?

P. Yes.

S. Then which is the most shameful of these kinds of baseness? Isn't it injustice, and altogether baseness of soul?

P. Very much so.

pg 505

S. Then if it's most shameful, isn't it worst?

P. What are you saying, Socrates?

S. I'm saying this: — Always the most shameful is most shameful by producing the greatest distress or harm or both, from what was agreed in the previous discussion.

P. Certainly.

S. And isn't it just now agreed by us that injustice and all baseness of soul is most shameful?

P. Yes. It's agreed.

S. Then isn't it either the most painful, and the most shameful of them by exceeding in pain, or by exceeding in harm, or in both ways?

P. Editor’s NotedIt must be.

S. Then is it more painful than being poor and sick to be unjust 5and intemperate (akolastos) and cowardly and stupid?

P. I don't think so, from what we've said, Socrates.

S. Then it is by exceeding the other things in some remarkably eserious harm and amazing evil that baseness of soul is the most shameful of all, since it doesn't exceed in pain, on your account.

P. Apparently.

S. But now presumably the thing which exceeds by the greatest harm would be the greatest evil of the things that are.

P. Yes.


S. Then injustice and intemperance (akolasia) and the rest of the soul's baseness is the greatest evil of the things that are?

P. Apparently.

S. Now which craft rids us of poverty? Isn't it money-making?

P. Yes.

S. And which rids us of sickness? Isn't it medicine?

P. 478It must be.

S. And which craft rids us of baseness and injustice? If you don't find this easy, consider it this way: — Where and to whom do we take people sick in body?

P. To the doctors, Socrates.

S. And where do we take those who do unjust and intemperate (akolastainontes) actions?


P. To the court of justice, are you saying?

pg 51

S. And don't we take them to pay justice?

P. I agree.

S. Then don't those who punish (kolazein) rightly practise some kind of justice when they punish?

P. It's clear they do.

S. Editor’s NotebThen money-making rids us of poverty, medicine of sickness, and the administration of justice rids us of intemperance (akolasia) and injustice?

P. Apparently.

S. Now which is the finest of these?

P. Of what?

S. Of money-making, medicine, and the administration of justice.


P. The administration of justice is far superior, Socrates.

S. Then again, doesn't it produce either most pleasure or most benefit or both, since it is the finest?

P. Yes.

S. Then is having medical treatment pleasant? Do patients enjoy it?

P. I don't think so.

S. But still it's beneficial, isn't it?

S. For he gets rid of a great evil, so that it profits him to endure the pain and be healthy.

P. Of course.

S. Now would a man be happiest, as far as his body is concerned, this way — being medically treated — or if he was never ill at all?


P. Clearly if he was never ill at all.

S. Yes; for happiness doesn't seem to be this, getting rid of evils, but never acquiring them at all.

P. That's right.

S. Editor’s NotedWell then, which is the more wretched of two people who have an evil either in body or in soul, the one who is treated and gets rid of the evil, or the one who isn't treated and still has it?

P. The one who isn't treated, I think.


S. Now isn't paying justice getting rid of the greatest evil, baseness?

P. Yes, it is.

S. Yes, for presumably administration of justice makes people pg 52temperate and more just, and is in fact the medical craft to cure baseness.

P. Yes.

S. Then the man with no evil in his soul is happiest, since this Editor’s Noteeappeared the greatest of evils.

P. Yes. That's clear.

S. And presumably second to him is the man who gets rid of the evil.

P. It looks like it.

S. And this is the man who is corrected and reprimanded and pays justice.

P. Yes.

S. Then the man who has the evil in his soul and does not get rid 5of it lives worst.

P. Apparently.

S. And isn't this man in fact whoever does the greatest injustices 479and exercises the greatest injustice and manages not to be corrected or punished (kolazesthai) and not to pay justice — as you say Archelaus and the other tyrants and rhetors and dynasts managed to do?

P. It looks like it.


S. Yes, for these people have managed to do about the same thing, my friend, as if someone suffering from the most serious illnesses, managed not to pay justice for the faults in his body to the doctors and not to be treated — afraid like a child of the burning and Editor’s Notebcutting because it is painful. Don't you think so too?

P. I do.

S. Apparently it's because he doesn't know what health and 5excellence (aretē) of body are like. And from what we've agreed now, those who try to escape justice also seem to do the same sort of thing, Polus. They notice what is painful in it, but are blind to what is beneficial. They don't know how much more wretched than Editor’s Notecan unhealthy body is life with a soul that isn't healthy, but rotten, unjust, and impious. That's why they go to all lengths to avoid paying justice and getting rid of the greatest evil, but equip themselves with money and friends and the most persuasive speaking they can 5manage. But if what we are agreed on is true, Polus, do you observe pg 53the things that follow from the argument? Do you want us to work them out?

P. If you think we should.

S. Then does it follow that injustice and doing injustice is the greatest evil?

P. Editor’s NotedYes, apparently.

S. And apparently paying justice is getting rid of this evil?

P. It seems to be.

S. Whereas not paying justice is the persistence of the evil?

P. Yes.


S. Then doing injustice is second in greatness among evils; doing injustice and not being punished is really the greatest of all and first of evils.

P. It looks like it.

S. Now didn't we dispute about just this, my friend? Didn't you Editor’s Noteecall Archelaus happy who did the gravest injustices and paid no justice, while I thought on the contrary that it is fitting for Archelaus, or any other man who does injustice and does not pay justice, to be wretched beyond other men, and that always the man who does 5injustice is more wretched than the man who suffers it, and the man who does not pay justice is more wretched than the man who pays it? Wasn't this what I said?

P. Yes.

S. And hasn't it been proved that it was said truly?

P. Apparently.

S. 480All right. If these things are true, then what is the great use of rhetoric, Polus? For in fact from what has been agreed now a man should most of all take care for himself so that he doesn't do injustice, knowing that he will have a great enough evil if he does. Isn't that right?


P. Quite.

S. And if he or whoever else he cares about does do injustice, he should go voluntarily wherever he will pay justice as quickly as possible, to the court of justice as to the doctor, eager to Editor’s Notebprevent the disease of injustice from being chronic and making his soul festering and incurable — or what else are we saying, Polus, if our previous agreements remain firm? Mustn't what we say pg 545now agree with what we said then only this way, and otherwise not?

P. Yes indeed. What else are we to say, Socrates?

S. Then for someone's defence for his own injustice, or when his parents or his friends or his children or his native state do injustice, crhetoric is no use at all to us, Polus, unless someone supposes it is useful for the opposite purpose — that he should denounce most of all himself, then his relatives, and whatever other friend does injustice; and should not conceal the unjust action, but bring it into the open, 5to pay justice and become healthy; and compel himself and others not to shrink in cowardice, but to close their eyes and offer themselves well and bravely, as though to the doctor for cutting and burning; he should pursue the good and fine, not counting the pain, but doffering himself for flogging, if his unjust action deserves flogging, for prison, if it deserves prison, paying a fine, if it deserves a fine, accepting death, if it deserves death; he should himself be the first denouncer of himself and of the rest of his relatives, and use his 5rhetoric for this, to have his unjust actions exposed and get rid of the greatest evil, injustice. Are we to say yes or no to this, Polus?

P. Editor’s NoteeWell, I think it's absurd, Socrates; but no doubt you find that it agrees with what was said before.

S. Mustn't those things be undone too, or else mustn't these things follow?

P. Yes; that's so anyhow.


S. And then, turning it around the opposite way, if we really should harm anyone — an enemy or anyone at all — as long as we don't ourselves suffer any injustice from the enemy — for we must be careful about that — but if our enemy treats someone else unjustly, 481we should take every precaution, in speaking and in action, to prevent him from paying justice and appearing before the court of justice. And if he appears, we must arrange it so that he escapes and doesn't pay justice, but if he has stolen a lot of money, we must see he doesn't pay it back, but keeps it and spends it on himself and his 5relatives, unjustly and godlessly; and if he has done injustice deserving death, we must see he does not suffer death — best of all never, to be immortal in his baseness, but otherwise to live the longest possible life in this condition. For these sorts of things I think rhetoric is useful, Polus, since for someone who isn't about to act pg 55unjustly, its use doesn't seem to me to be all that great — if indeed it 5has any use at all, for it wasn't evident anywhere in what was said previously.

Callicles. Tell me Chaerephon, is Socrates in earnest about all this, or is he joking?

Chaerephon. Well, to me he seems remarkably in earnest, Callicles. But there's nothing like asking him.

C. I'm certainly anxious to do that, by the gods. Tell me, Socrates, care we to suppose you're in earnest now, or joking? For if you're in earnest, and all these things you say are really true, then wouldn't the life of us men be upside down? And don't we apparently do everything that's the opposite of what we should do?


S. Callicles, if some men were not affected one way, and others the same way, and if one of us had some private affection quite Editor’s Noteddifferent from other people's, it would not be easy for anyone to indicate his own affection to another. I say this realizing that you and I are now actually affected the same way; each of us is a lover of two beloveds, I of Alcibiades the son of Cleinias and of philosophy, 5and you of two beloveds, the demos of Athens and the Demos of Pyrilampes. Yes, I notice you each time, clever though you are — whatever your beloved says and however he says things are, you ecan't contradict him, but you change this way and that. In the Assembly, if you're saying something and the Athenian demos says it's not so, you change and say what it wants. And with this fine young man the son of Pyrilampes you're affected in other similar 5ways. For you're incapable of opposing the proposals and speeches of your beloved; and if someone were amazed whenever you say the things you say because of your beloveds, at how absurd these things are, then no doubt you'd tell him, if you wanted to tell him what's 482true, that unless someone stops your beloved from saying these things, you'll never stop saying them either.

And so you must suppose that you're bound to (chrēnai) hear the same sorts of things from me. Don't be amazed that I say these 5things, but stop my beloved, philosophy, saying them. For she says what you hear from me now, my friend; and she's much less impulsive than my other beloved. For this son of Cleinias here says now Editor’s Notebthis, now that; but philosophy says always the same. She says what pg 56amazes you now, and you were present yourself when it was said. And so either refute her, as I was saying just now, and show that doing injustice and doing injustice without paying justice are not the 5worst of evils; or if you leave this unrefuted, then by the dog, the god of the Egyptians, Callicles himself will not agree with you, Callicles, but he will be discordant with you in the whole of your life. And yet I think, my excellent friend, that it is superior to have my lyre Editor’s Notecout of tune and discordant, and any chorus I might equip, and for most men to disagree with me and contradict me, than for me — just one man — to be discordant with myself and contradict myself.


C. Socrates, I think you swagger in your speeches, as if you were really a mob-orator. And now you're making this speech when you've done the same thing to Polus that Polus was denouncing Gorgias for letting you do to him. For remember he said that you dasked Gorgias whether, if anyone wanting to learn rhetoric came to him without knowing just things, he would teach him. Then Gorgias was ashamed, said Polus, and said he would teach him, because of men's habit, since they would be offended if someone said he couldn't teach about just things. Because of this agreement, said Polus, Gorgias 5was forced to contradict himself, and this is exactly what you like. And then Polus laughed at you, rightly, I think. But now you have done the same thing over again to him. And for just this I can't admire Polus myself, for his concession to you that doing injustice is Editor’s Noteemore shameful than suffering it; for from this agreement he himself in turn was bound up by you in the argument, and was muzzled, after being ashamed to say what he thought. For indeed, Socrates, you lead things to these vulgarities and stock themes of mob-orators, 5though you claim to pursue the truth — things which are not fine by nature, but only by rule (nomos). For mostly these are opposed to 483each other, nature and rule; and so if someone is ashamed and dare not say what he thinks, he is compelled to contradict himself. And this is the clever device you've thought of and use to make mischief in discussion; if someone speaks according to rule, you craftily question him according to nature, and if he speaks of what belongs 5to nature, you ask him about what belongs to rule — just as lately about these things — doing injustice and suffering it — Polus was speaking of the fine according to rule, but you pursued the argument according to nature.

pg 57For by nature everything is more shameful which is also worse, suffering injustice, but by rule doing injustice is more shameful. For Editor’s Notebthis isn't what happens to a man, to suffer injustice; it's what happens to some slave for whom it's better to die than to live — for if he suffers injustice and abuse, he can't defend himself or anyone else 5he cares about. But in my view those who lay down the rules are the weak men, the many. And so they lay down the rules and assign Editor’s Notectheir praise and blame with their eye on themselves and their own advantage. They terrorize the stronger men capable of having more; and to prevent these men from having more than themselves they say that taking more is shameful and unjust, and that doing injustice 5is this, seeking to have more than other people; they are satisfied, I take it, if they themselves have an equal share when they're inferior. That's why by rule this is said to be unjust and shameful, to seek to have more than the many, and they call that doing injustice.

Editor’s NotedBut I think nature itself shows this, that it is just for the better man to have more than the worse, and the more powerful than the less powerful. Nature shows that this is so in many areas — among 5other animals, and in whole cities and races of men, that the just stands decided in this way — the superior rules over the weaker and has more. For what sort of justice did Xerxes rely on when he Editor’s Noteemarched against Greece, or his father against the Scythians? And you could mention innumerable other such things. But I think these men do these things according to nature — the nature of the just; yes, by Zeus, by the rule of nature, though no doubt not by the rule 5we lay down — we mould the best and strongest among us, taking them from youth up, like lions, and tame them by spells and 484incantations over them, until we enslave them, telling them they ought to have equal shares, and that this is the fine and the just.

But I think that if a man is born with a strong enough nature, he will shake off and smash and escape all this. He will trample on all 5our writings, charms, incantations, all the rules contrary to nature. He rises up and shows himself master, this slave of ours, and there Editor’s Notebthe justice of nature suddenly bursts into light. And I think Pindar too indicates what I say, in the song where he says, 'Rule, the king 5of all, mortals and immortals.…' This, he says, 'leads and makes just what is most violent, with overpowering hand; I judge this by the pg 5810works of Heracles, since without paying the price.…' He says something like this — for I don't know the song — but he says that without payment and without receiving them as a gift from Geryon Heracles Editor’s Notecdrove off the cattle, assuming that this was the just by nature, that the better and superior man possesses the cattle and other goods of the worse and inferior men.

Well then, that's how the truth is. And you'll find it out if you 5move on to greater things and finally leave philosophy behind. For I tell you, Socrates, philosophy is a delightful thing, if someone touches it in moderation at the right time of life; but if he persists in it longer than he should, it's the ruin of men. For even if someone has an altogether good nature, but philosophizes beyond the right dage, he is bound to end up inexperienced in all these things in which anyone who is to be a fine and good and respected man ought to have experience. For indeed they turn out inexperienced in the laws (nomos) of the city, and in the speech they should use in meeting 5men in public and private transactions, and in human pleasures and desires; and altogether they turn out entirely ignorant of the ways of men. And so whenever they come to some private or political ebusiness, they prove themselves ridiculous, just as politicians, no doubt, whenever they in turn come to your discourses and discussions, are ridiculous. For it happens as Euripides says; 'Each man 5shines in that and strives for it, devoting the greatest part of the day 485to it — where he finds himself best', and wherever he is inferior, he avoids it and abuses it, praising the other thing, from good will to himself, supposing that this way he is praising himself.

But I think that the most correct thing is to have a share in both. 5It is fine to have a share in philosophy far enough for education, and it is not shameful for someone to philosophize when he is a boy. But whenever a man who's now older still philosophizes, the thing Editor’s Notebbecomes ridiculous, Socrates. I'm struck by the philosophizers most nearly the way I'm struck by those who mumble and act childishly. I mean — whenever I see a child, when that kind of dialogue is still fitting for him, mumbling and being childish, I enjoy it; I find it 5charming, suitable for a free citizen, suiting the age of a child. And whenever I hear a child speaking a clear dialogue, I find it unpleasing; it annoys my ears; and I find it fit for a slave instead. But whenever pg 59csomeone hears a man mumbling, or sees him act childishly, he finds it ridiculous, unmanly, deserving a beating.

Well, philosophizers strike me the same way too. For when I see 5philosophy in a young boy, I admire it, I find it suitable, and I regard him as a free man, and a non-philosophizer as un-free, someone dwho will never expect anything fine or noble from himself. But when I see an older man still philosophizing and not giving it up, I think this man needs a beating, Socrates. For, as I was saying just now, this person is bound to end up being unmanly, even if he has 5an altogether good nature; for he shuns the city centre and the public squares where the poet says men win good reputations. He is Editor’s Noteesunk away out of sight for the rest of his life, and lives whispering with three or four boys in a corner, and never gives voice to anything fit for a free man, great and powerful.

Now, Socrates, I'm quite friendly towards you. And so I find you strike me now as Amphion struck Zethus in Euripides, whom I 5recalled just now. For indeed, the sorts of things come to me to say to you that Zethus said to his brother; 'Socrates, you are careless of what you should care for; you twist this noble nature of your soul 486in a childish shape; you could not make a speech correctly to the council of justice, nor seize anything likely and persuasive, nor propose any daring resolution to help another.' And look, my dear Socrates — and don't be annoyed with me at all, when I'll be saying 5it out of goodwill to you — don't you find it shameful to be the way I think you are, along with all those who go further and further into philosophy?

For as it is, suppose someone arrested you, or some other philosopher, and threw you into gaol, claiming you were doing injustice Editor’s Notebwhen you were doing none; you know you'd have no idea what to do with yourself; you'd be dizzy, you'd gape, not knowing what to say; you'd go into court, to face some inferior wretch of an accuser, and you'd be put to death if he wanted the death penalty for you. 5Now how can this be wise, Socrates? — 'this craft which takes a man of good nature and makes him worse' — with no power to defend himself or save himself or anyone else from the greatest dangers, Editor’s Notecwith only the power to be despoiled of all his property by his enemies, and to live altogether dishonoured in the city. With someone pg 60like this, to put it crudely, anyone is at liberty to push his face in and get off scot-free.

5My excellent friend, listen to me; 'stop these examinations; practise the culture of the world's affairs'; practise what will earn you the reputation of wisdom; 'leave these subtleties to others' — whether we ought to call them nonsense or rubbish — 'from which you will live in an empty house'. Don't emulate those who examine these Editor’s Notedtrifles, but those with a living, reputation, and many other goods.

S. If I had a soul made of gold, Callicles, don't you think I'd be delighted to find one of those stones on which they test gold — the 5best one, so that if I brought my soul to it, and it agreed that my soul was well cared for, I would be sure I was in good condition and needed no other touchstone?

C. eAnd what's your point in asking that, Socrates?

S. I'll tell you. I think I've stumbled on that kind of lucky find now, by stumbling on you.

C. Why's that?


S. I know well that if you agree with what my soul believes, 487these very beliefs are the true ones. For I believe that someone who is to test adequately the soul which lives rightly and the soul which does not should have three things, all of which you have; knowledge, goodwill, and free speaking. For I meet many people incapable of 5testing me because they aren't wise as you are. Others are wise, but unwilling to tell me the truth because they don't care for me as you do. And these foreign visitors, Gorgias and Polus, are wise and friends of mine, but short of free speaking, and more prone to shame than they should be. Of course they are; for they are so far gone in shame that because of his shame each of them dares to contradict himself 5in front of many people, and on the most important questions. But you have all the things the others lack. You are educated adequately, many Athenians would say; and you're well disposed to me. What's my evidence? I'll tell you. I know that four of you have become associates in wisdom, Callicles; you, Teisander of Aphidnae, Andron 5the son of Androtion, and Nausicydes of Cholargeis. And once I overheard you deliberating about how far wisdom should be cultivated, and I know that some opinion of this kind was prevailing with you — not to be eager to philosophize as far as exactness; you pg 61were warning each other to be careful not to become wise beyond what is needed, and so find you had been ruined unawares. And so now when I hear you advising me just as you advised your closest companions, it's good enough evidence for me that you are really 5well disposed to me. And as for being the type to speak freely without shame, you say it yourself and your speech a little earlier agrees with you.

Editor’s NoteeClearly, then, this is how it is now with these questions: if you agree with me about anything in the discussion, then this will have been adequately tested by me and you, and it will no longer need to be brought to another touchstone. For you would never have 5conceded it either from lack of wisdom or from excess of shame, nor would you concede it to deceive me; for you are a friend to me, as you say yourself. In reality, then, agreement between you and me will finally possess the goal of truth.

And this inquiry is the finest of all, Callicles, about those questions on which you attacked me; what a man ought to be like, and what 488he ought to practise, and how far, when he is older and younger. For if I do something wrongly in my own life, be sure that my fault is not voluntary, but from my own stupidity. And so don't you give up 5reproving me the way you began to, but show me adequately what I should practise and how I might acquire it. And if you catch me having agreed with you now, and later on not doing the same things that I agreed about, count me a complete idiot, and don't bother to reprove me ever again, since I won't deserve anything.

But now repeat for me again from the beginning — how do you say the just is, you and Pindar — the just by nature? Is it for the superior man to remove by force what belongs to the inferior men, 5and for the better man to rule worse men, and for the nobler man to have more than the baser man? You aren't saying that the just is anything else, are you? Or do I remember correctly?

C. Yes. That's what I was saying then, and say now.

S. Editor’s NotecAnd do you call the same man better and superior? For I tell you, I wasn't able then or now to learn from you just what you were saying. Do you call the stronger men superior, and should the weaker men listen to the stronger man? I think that was what you indicated 5before, that great cities attack smaller according to the just by pg 62nature, because they are superior and stronger — on the assumption that the superior and the stronger and better are the same. Or is it possible to be a better man, but inferior and weaker, and superior Editor’s Notedbut more wretched? Or does the same definition belong to the better and the superior? Define this very thing for me clearly; are the superior and the better and the stronger the same thing, or something different?

C. Yes. I'm telling you clearly that they're the same.


S. Aren't the many superior to the one man according to nature? For after all, they establish the rules against the one man, as you yourself were saying just now.

C. Of course.

S. Then the rules of the many are the rules of the superior men?

C. Quite.

S. eThen aren't they the rules of the better men? For presumably the superior are better, on your account.

C. Yes.


S. Then aren't the rules of these men fine by nature, when these men are superior?

C. I agree.

S. Then don't the many recognize this rule, as you were saying yourself just now, that having an equal share is just and doing 489injustice is more shameful than suffering it? Is that so, or not? And mind you aren't caught being ashamed here. Do the many recognize the rule, or do they not, that having an equal share, not having more, is just, and that doing injustice is more shameful than suffering it? 5Don't grudge me an answer to this, Callicles; and then, if you agree with me, I'll be confirmed by you, because a man who is adequate to decide the question has agreed with me.

C. All right. The many do recognize this rule.

S. Then it's not only by rule that doing injustice is more Editor’s Notebshameful than suffering it, or that having an equal share is just, but also by nature. And so it looks as though you aren't speaking the truth in what you said before, or denouncing me correctly, when you say that rule and nature are opposed, and that I realize this and make 5mischief in discussions — if someone speaks according to nature, pg 63leading him to the rule, and if anyone speaks according to the rule, leading him to nature.

C. This fellow here just won't stop his rubbish. Tell me, Socrates, aren't you ashamed to be hunting after names, at your age, and Editor’s Notecthinking it a bit of luck if someone goes wrong in a word? For do you think I'm saying that being superior men is anything else than being better men? Haven't I been telling you for ages that I say the better and the superior are the same thing? Or do you think I'm 5saying that if a rabble of slaves and all sorts of people worth nothing, except perhaps in bodily strength, collect together, and these people assert it, then what they assert is the rule?

S. Well, wisest Callicles, is that what you say?

C. It certainly is.

S. dWell, my splendid man, I've been guessing myself for some time that you're saying that the superior is something like that; and I repeat my question from eagerness to know clearly what you're saying. For presumably you don't think that two men are better 5than one, or that your slaves are better than you, just because they're stronger than you. But now say again from the beginning what do you say the better men are, since you say they're not the stronger? And teach me more gently, so that I don't desert your school.

C. Editor’s NoteeYou're being sly, Socrates.

S. No I'm not, Callicles, by Zethus, whom you relied on for all your sly attacks on me just now. But come, tell me; who do you say the better men are?

C. I say they're the worthier men.


S. Now do you see that you're just saying names, making nothing clear? Won't you tell me — do you say that the better and the superior men are the wiser men, or some others?

C. Yes indeed. I say they are, very much so.

S. 490Then often one wise man is superior to thousands with no wisdom, on your account, and he should rule them, and they should be ruled, and the ruler should have more than the ruled. I think 5that's what you want to say — and I'm not trying to catch you with a word — if the one is superior to the thousands.

C. Yes, that's what I'm saying. For this is what I think the just pg 64by nature is — that the man who is better and wiser should rule over the lower men, and have more than them.

S. Editor’s NotebNow stop there. What exactly are you saying now? If many of us are all together in the same place as now, and hold a lot of food and drink in common, and we are people of all sorts, some strong, 5some weak, but one of us is wiser about food and drink, being a doctor, while it's likely that he's stronger than some and weaker than others — won't this man, since he's wiser than us, be better and superior in this area?

C. Quite.

S. Editor’s NotecThen is he to have more of this food than us, because he's better? Or should he distribute everything, because he rules, but not take more in spending it and using it on his own body, to avoid 5suffering himself? Shouldn't he rather have more than some and less than others? And if he turns out to be weakest of all, shouldn't the best man have least of them all, Callicles? Isn't that so, my friend?

C. You talk about food and drink and doctors and a lot of Editor’s Notedrubbish. But I'm not talking about that.

S. Don't you say that the wiser man is superior? Say yes or no.

C. I do.


S. But shouldn't the better man have more?

C. No — not more food and drink.

S. I see — but perhaps more cloaks? Should the best weaver have the biggest cloak and go around dressed up in the most and the finest clothes?


C. Ha! Cloaks indeed!

S. eThen clearly the wisest and best in that area should take more shoes. Perhaps the shoemaker should walk around wearing the biggest and the most shoes?

C. Shoes indeed! What rubbish!


S. Well, if you're not talking about that sort of thing, perhaps it's something like this: — For instance, a farming man, wise and fine and good about the soil — he's the one, I presume, who should take more seeds and should use the most possible seed on his own soil.

C. Ah, you're always saying the same, Socrates.


S. Not only that, Callicles, but about the same things too.

C. 491That's true enough, by the gods. You simply never stop your pg 65endless talk about cobblers and cleaners and cooks and doctors, as though our discussion were about them.


S. Won't you say what the superior and wiser man has more of when he justly takes more? Will you neither put up with my suggestions nor say yourself?

C. But I've been saying for a long time. First of all I say who the Editor’s Notebsuperior men are — I don't say shoemakers or cooks; they're whoever are wise in the city's affairs, about how to govern it well, and not only wise, but also brave, and capable of fulfilling what they intend — and who don't slacken because of softness of soul.


S. Do you see, excellent Callicles, that you and I don't accuse each other of the same thing? For you say I'm always saying the same thing, and you blame me for it, but on the contrary I accuse cyou of never saying the same about the same things. Previously you were defining the better and superior men as the stronger, then as the wiser, now again you've come bringing something else. Some kind of braver men are what you call the superior and the better men. Come on, my friend, tell me once and for all, just who do you 5call the better and superior — better and superior in what?

C. But I've told you — those who are wise in the city's affairs, Editor’s Notedand brave. For it is fitting for these to rule cities, and the just is this, for them to have more than the rest — for the rulers to have more than the ruled.


S. But what about themselves, my friend? Rulers or ruled in what way?

C. What are you talking about?

S. I'm talking about each one of them ruling himself. Or shouldn't he do this at all, rule himself, but only rule the others?

C. What are you talking about, 'ruling himself'?


S. Nothing complicated, but just as the many say — temperate, Editor’s Noteemaster of himself, ruling the pleasures and appetites within him.

C. How funny you are. You're calling the fools the temperate people.

S. What? Anyone would realize that's not what I'm saying.


C. But it certainly is, Socrates. For how could a man become happy who's enslaved to anything at all? No. The fine and just according to nature is this, what I'm speaking freely of to you now pg 66— the man who is to live rightly should let his appetites grow as large 492as possible and not restrain (kolazein) them, and when these are as large as possible, he must have the power to serve them, because of his bravery and wisdom, and to fill them with whatever he has an appetite for at any time. But I think this isn't in the power of the many. And so they blame these people out of shame, concealing 5their own powerlessness, and say that intemperance (akolasia) is actually shameful, as I was saying previously, enslaving the men with the best natures; and when they haven't the power to find fulfilment for their pleasures, they praise temperance and justice because of their own unmanliness. For when men to begin with are sons of kings, or themselves by nature have the power to obtain some sort of rule, tyranny, or dynasty, what would in truth be more shameful or 5evil than temperance and justice for these men? — though they were at liberty to enjoy goods without hindrance, they set up a master over themselves in the rules (nomos) and speech and blame of the mass of men. Or how could they help being wretched in living under what justice and temperance count as fine, doing nothing more for their friends than for their enemies, even though they're rulers in their own city? But in truth, Socrates — the truth you say you 5pursue — it is this way; luxury, intemperance (akolasia), and freedom, if it is well supplied, this is virtue and happiness; and those other things, those ornaments, those agreements of men contrary to nature, those are rubbish, worth nothing.

S. dYou're carrying through your speech nobly, Callicles, and speaking freely. For now you're saying clearly what the others think but aren't willing to say. And so I'm asking you not to slacken at all, 5so that it will really become clear how we should live. And tell me this: — Do you say that a man must not restrain (kolazein) his appetites, if he's to be as he should be, but should let them grow as great as possible, and find fulfilment for them from anywhere at all, Editor’s Noteeand that virtue is this?

C. That's what I say.

S. Then it's wrong to say that those who need (dein) nothing are happy.


C. Of course. Otherwise stones and corpses would be happiest.

S. But the life you speak of is a strange one too. For I tell you, pg 67I wouldn't be surprised if Euripides speaks the truth in those verses 10where he says, 'Who knows if being alive is really being dead, and 493being dead being alive?' And perhaps we too are really dead. For once I heard from some wise man that we are dead now, our body is our tomb; and that of our soul with appetites in it is liable to 5be persuaded and to sway back and forth. And a subtle man, perhaps some Sicilian or Italian, who told this story, played on the name, and because it was persuadable (pithanon) and impressionable called it a jar (pithon), and called the foolish (anoētous) the uninitiated (amuētous), and said that in the foolish men that of the soul with appetites, the foolish, intemperate, and insatiable in it, was a leaking jar, because it couldn't be filled. This man indicates — contrary to you, Callicles — that of all those in Hades — speaking of the 5unseen (aides) this way — these are the most wretched, the uninitiated, and that they carry water to this leaky jar with another leaky thing, a sieve. And so he's saying — so the man who told me said — that the sieve is the soul; and he likened the soul of the foolish to a sieve because it was leaky, since it could hold nothing, from its unreliability and forgetfulness.

Now this is all fairly strange. But he shows what I'd like to indicate 5to you, so that I persuade you, if I can, to change your mind, and instead of the insatiable and unrestrained life to choose the orderly life adequately supplied and satisfied with whatever it has at any dtime. But now do I persuade you at all to change your mind, and agree that the orderly are happier than the intemperate? Or even if I tell you many more stories like this one, won't you change your mind any the more?

C. You're nearer the truth there, Socrates.


S. Come on then, I'll tell you another comparison, from the same school as that one. See now if you're saying something like this about the life of each of the two men, the temperate and the intemperate: — Suppose for instance that each of two men has a lot of jars, eand one has sound and full jars, one full of wine, another of honey, another of milk, and many others full of many things. And suppose the sources for each of these things are scarce and hard to find, provided only with much severe effort. Now when one man has 5filled up, he brings in no more, and doesn't care about them, but is pg 68at rest as far as they are concerned. The other man has sources like the first man's that can be drawn on, though with difficulty. But his 494vessels are leaky and rotten, and he is forced to be always filling them day and night, or else he suffers the most extreme distresses. Now if this is how each man's life is, do you say that the intemperate man's life is happier than the orderly man's? When I tell you this, do 5I persuade you at all to concede that the orderly life is better than the intemperate, or don't I persuade you?

C. No, you don't, Socrates. For that one who has filled up has no pleasure at all any more. It's what I was saying just now — living like Editor’s Noteba stone once he has filled up, with no more enjoyment or distress. No; living pleasantly is in this — in having as much as possible flowing in.

S. But if the inflow is large, mustn't the outflow be large too, and mustn't there be big holes for the outflow?


C. Of course.

S. Then you're speaking of some kind of torrent-bird's life, not a corpse's or a stone's. Tell me now; are you talking about something like being hungry and eating when you're hungry?

C. I am.

S. Editor’s NotecAnd being thirsty and drinking when you're thirsty?

C. That's what I'm talking about — and about having all the other appetites and having the power to fill them and enjoy it, and so living happily.

S. That's good, my excellent man. You're continuing the way 5you began, and mind you don't slacken from shame. And it looks as though I mustn't (dein) slacken from shame either. And first of all, tell me if itching and wanting to scratch, with no restriction on scratching, and continuing to scratch all your life, is also living happily.

C. Editor’s NotedHow absurd you are, Socrates — a real mob-orator.

S. Yes, Callicles. You see that's how I shocked both Polus and Gorgias, and made them ashamed. But you certainly won't be 5shocked or ashamed — you're brave. Now just answer.

C. All right. I say that the scratcher would also live pleasantly.

S. And if pleasantly, then happily too?

C. Quite.

S. Editor’s NoteeSuppose he only wants to scratch his head … or what am I to pg 69ask you now? See what you'll answer, Callicles, if someone asks you in order everything following that. And when these all come to a head — considering what they're like — in the life of catamites, isn't that 5strange and shameful and wretched? Or will you dare to say that these people are happy if they have what they need without restriction?

C. Aren't you ashamed to lead the discussion to such things, Socrates?

S. Well, is it me who's leading it there, my noble friend, or is it 10whoever says with no qualification that those who have enjoyment, 495however they have enjoyment, are happy, and doesn't distinguish among pleasures those which are good and bad? But tell me even now; do you say that the same thing is pleasant and good, or that there is something of pleasant things which is not good?


C. Well, so that I don't leave my argument (logos) inconsistent, if I say that they're different, I say they're the same.

S. You're destroying the previous discussion (logos), Callicles, and you'd no longer be properly searching for the truth with me if you speak contrary to what you think.

C. Editor’s NotebOf course I do; and you do it too, Socrates.

S. Then I'm not doing the right thing, if I do that, and neither are you. But come, blessed man, consider. Surely this isn't the good, enjoying in any way? For all these many shameful things just hinted 5at clearly follow, if that's so, and many others.

C. So you think, Socrates.

S. Then do you really insist on this, Callicles?

C. I do.

S. Editor’s NotecThen should we undertake the discussion on the assumption that you're in earnest?

C. Absolutely.

S. Come then, since that's how it seems, distinguish these things: — I presume you call something knowledge.

C. I do.


S. And weren't you just now saying that there is a kind of courage with knowledge?

C. Yes, I was saying that.

S. Then weren't you speaking of courage and knowledge as different, and so as two things?

pg 70

C. Very much so.

S. Well then, were you saying that pleasure and knowledge are the same or different?

C. dDifferent, of course, you wisest of men.

S. And that courage too is different from pleasure?

C. Of course.

S. All right then, let's remember this, that Callicles of Acharnae said that the same thing is pleasant and good, but knowledge and 5courage are different from each other and from the good.

C. And Socrates here of Alopece doesn't agree with this; or does he?

S. Editor’s NoteeNo, he doesn't. Nor Callicles either, I think, whenever he views himself correctly. For tell me, don't you think that those who do badly are affected the opposite way from those who do well?


C. I do.

S. Then since these are opposite to each other, mustn't it be the same with them as with health and sickness? For, I take it, a man isn't at the same time healthy and sick, nor does he get rid of health and sickness at the same time.


C. What are you saying?

S. Well, for instance, take any part of the body you like, and 496consider it. Can't a man have a sickness in the eyes, called 'eye-disease'?

C. Of course.

S. Then he is hardly healthy in these same eyes at the same time.

C. Not by any means.

S. And what about when he gets rid of the eye-disease? Does he 5get rid of health in his eyes, and is he finally rid of both?

C. Not at all.

S. Editor’s NotebNo indeed. I think that's an amazing and absurd result, isn't it?

C. Very much so.

S. But I think he gains and loses each thing in turn.

C. I agree.

S. Isn't it the same for strength and weakness?

C. Yes.

S. And speed and slowness?


C. Quite.

pg 71

S. And goods and happiness and the opposite of these, evils and wretchedness — doesn't a man also gain each of these in turn and lose each in turn?

C. Certainly.

S. cThen if we find some things that a man gets rid of at the same time and has at the same time, it's clear that these won't be the good and the evil. Do we agree on this? Consider carefully before you reply.


C. I very much agree.

S. Then return to what has been agreed before. In speaking of hunger, were you saying that it is pleasant or painful? I'm talking about hunger itself.

C. I say it's painful. But I say that eating when you're hungry is pleasant.

S. Editor’s NotedI understand. But at any rate, being hungry itself is painful, isn't it?

C. I agree.

S. And isn't thirst too?

C. Very much so.

S. Then will I ask still more questions, or do you agree that every lack and appetite is painful?


C. I agree. You needn't go on asking.

S. All right. Now don't you say that drinking when you're thirsty is pleasant?

C. I do.

S. And presumably 'when you're thirsty' in what you say is 'when you're in distress'?

S. And drinking is a filling of the lack, and a pleasure?

C. Yes.

S. Now don't you say that in drinking someone has enjoyment?

C. Very much so.

S. When he's thirsty, that is.

C. I agree.

S. When he's distressed?

C. Yes.


S. Then do you see what follows, that you say someone is pg 72distressed and enjoying at the same time, when you say he is thirsty and drinks? Or doesn't this come about at the same time and in the same place, in soul or body — for I think it makes no difference? Is that so or not?

C. It is.

S. But now you say it's impossible for someone doing well to do 497badly at the same time.

C. Yes, I do.

S. While you are agreed that it's possible to be in pain and enjoyment at the same time.

C. Apparently.

S. Then enjoying is not doing well, nor is being in pain doing badly; and so the pleasant turns out to be different from the 5good.

C. I don't know what sort of sophistry you're at, Socrates.

S. You know, but you're acting soft, Callicles. Go further on, band see how wise you are when you take me to task. Isn't each of us finished with his pleasure from drinking at the same time as he is finished being thirsty?

C. I don't know what you're saying.


Gorgias. No, no, Callicles. Do answer — for our sakes too, so that the discussion can progress.

C. But Socrates is always like that, Gorgias. He keeps asking these petty, worthless questions, and cross-examines.

G. Well, what does it matter to you? Anyhow, it isn't for you to put a value on it, Callicles. Do allow Socrates to cross-examine as he 10wishes.

C. cThen go on you, and ask these petty trifles, since that's what Gorgias thinks.

S. You're a happy man, Callicles; for you're an initiate of the greater mysteries before the lesser. I didn't think that was allowed. 5Then answer from where you left off; doesn't each of us cease from his pleasure at the same time as he ceases being thirsty?

C. I agree.

S. And don't we cease from hunger and all the other appetites and from pleasures at the same time?

C. That's right.

pg 73

S. dThen don't we cease from distresses and pleasures at the same time?

C. Yes.

S. But now, we don't cease from goods and evils at the same time, as you were agreeing then; don't you agree now?

C. Yes, I do. So what?


S. Then goods turn out not to be the same as pleasant things, my friend, and evils not to be the same as painful things. For we cease from pleasant and painful things at the same time, but not from good and evil things, since they're different from pleasant and painful. Then how can pleasant things be the same as goods, or painful things the same as evils?

Editor’s NoteeBut if you wish, consider it this way too — I don't think you agree to it this way either; but consider it. Don't you call good men good by the presence of goods, just as you call beautiful (kalon) those to whom beauty is present?

C. I do.

S. Well then, do you call fools and cowards good men? You didn't 5just now, anyway; you were saying the brave and wise are good. Aren't these the ones you call good?

C. Quite.

S. Now did you never see a foolish child enjoying himself?

C. I did.

S. And did you never see a foolish man enjoying himself?

C. I think I did. What about it?

S. 498Nothing at all. Just answer.

C. I did see one.

S. Well, did you see a man of intelligence in distress and enjoyment?

C. I did.

S. Which ones have more distress and enjoyment, the wise men or the foolish?

C. I think they don't differ that much.

S. Well, that's enough. Now did you ever see a coward in war?

C. Of course.

S. Now when the enemy withdrew, who did you think had more enjoyment — the cowards or the brave men?

pg 74

C. I thought they both had enjoyment; perhaps the cowards had bmore, or if not, about the same.

S. It doesn't matter. At any rate, the cowards too have enjoyment?

C. Very much so.

S. And the foolish men, it seems.

C. Yes.

S. And when the enemy advance, are only the cowards in distress, or the brave men too?

C. Both.


S. In the same way?

C. Perhaps the cowards are in more distress.

S. And when the enemy withdraw, haven't they more enjoyment?

C. Perhaps.

S. Then don't they have distress and enjoyment, both the foolish cand the wise and the cowards and the brave men, about the same, you say, but the cowards more than the brave men?

C. I agree.

S. But now the wise and the brave are good, the cowardly and foolish bad?

C. Yes.


S. Then the good and the bad have about the same enjoyment and distress?

C. I agree.

S. Then are the good and the bad about equally good and bad, or are the bad even better?

C. dBy Zeus, I don't know what you're saying.

S. You don't know that you say good men are good by the presence of goods, and evil men evil by the presence of evils? And that the pleasures are the goods and pains evils?

C. I agree.


S. And aren't the goods, the pleasures, present to those having enjoyment, if they are having it?

C. Of course.

S. Then when goods are present men having enjoyment are good?

C. Yes.

S. Well, and aren't the evils, distresses, present to those in pain?

C. Yes, they're present.

pg 75

S. eAnd you say that evil men are evil by the presence of evils? Or don't you say it any longer?

C. Yes, I say it.

S. Then those who have enjoyment are good, and those in pain are evil?

C. Quite.

S. And those who have more enjoyment or pain are better or worse, those who have less are less bad or less good, and those who 5have equal amounts are equally good or bad?

C. Yes.

S. Now don't you say that the wise and the foolish, and the brave men and the cowards, have about the same enjoyment and distress, or the cowards even still more?

C. I do.

S. Then work out together with me what we find to follow from what has been agreed; for 'twice and thrice', as they say, it's a fine 499thing to say and consider fine things. We say that the wise and brave man is good, don't we?

C. Yes.

S. And that the foolish and cowardly man is bad?

C. Of course.

S. And again that the man who has enjoyment is good?

C. Yes.


S. And that the man in distress is bad?

C. It must be so.

S. And that the good and bad men have pain and enjoyment similarly, but perhaps the bad man has even more?

C. Yes.

S. Then doesn't the bad man turn out to be good and bad Editor’s Notebsimilarly to the good man, or even better? Doesn't this follow, with those previous things, if someone says that the same things are pleasant and good? Mustn't this follow, Callicles?


C. I've been listening to you for a long time and agreeing, Socrates, thinking that even if someone concedes something to you as a joke, you fasten on it gleefully like young boys. As though you really suppose that I or any other man don't think some pleasures are better and others worse.

pg 76

S. cAh Callicles, what a scoundrel you are. You treat me like a child, telling me now that the same things are this way, and again that they're some other way, and deceiving me. And I didn't think at the start that you'd voluntarily deceive me, because I thought you were a friend. But it turns out I was misled; and it seems I must 5'make the best of what I have', as the old saying goes, and accept what you're offering me. And that is, you're saying now, that there are pleasures, some good and some bad. Isn't that right?

S. Then are the beneficial ones good, and the harmful ones evil?

C. Quite.

S. And those which produce some good are beneficial, and those which produce some evil are evil?

C. I agree.

S. Are you speaking of these kinds of pleasures — in the body, 5for instance, among the pleasures found in eating and drinking that we were speaking of just now — those which produce health in the body, or strength or some other excellence (aretē) of the body, are Editor’s Noteethese good, and the ones which produce the opposites of these things evil?

C. Certainly.

S. And similarly among distresses, aren't some worthy, others base?

C. Of course.

S. Then mustn't we choose and do the worthy ones, both pleasures and distresses?


C. Certainly.

S. But not the base ones?

C. Clearly not.

S. Yes; for I take it we agreed that we must do everything for the sake of goods, if you remember — Polus and I. Do you agree with us too, that the good is the end of all actions, and that for the sake of it 500we should do all the other things, not do it for the sake of the other things? Do you cast a third vote with ours?

C. I do.

S. Then for the sake of goods we should do other things, including pleasant things, not good things for the sake of pleasant things?

pg 77

C. Quite.


S. Now is it for anyone to select which kinds of pleasant things are good and which evil? Or does it need a craftsman for each thing?

C. It needs a craftsman.

S. Then let's recall another thing I was saying to Polus and Editor’s NotebGorgias. I was saying, if you remember, that there are practices, some limited to pleasure, only that one thing, ignorant of the better and the worse, and other practices which know what is good and what is bad. And I was assigning to the practices concerned with 5pleasures the knack — no craft — of confectionery, and to those concerned with the good the medical craft. And for the sake of the god of friendship, Callicles, don't think you should make jokes at me, Editor’s Notecand don't answer capriciously, contrary to what you think, nor again take what I say that way, as making jokes. For you see that our discussion is about this — and what would anyone with the slightest intelligence be more seriously concerned about than this? I mean — what way ought we to live? The way to which you encourage me, 5doing what a real man does, speaking in the people's Assembly, practising rhetoric, conducting politics the way you conduct it now — or the life spent in philosophy? And how does the one life differ dfrom the other? Perhaps it's best, then, to divide these lives as I set about it lately; when we've divided them, and agreed with each other, if there are these two distinct lives, we should consider how they differ from each other, and which of them is to be lived. Perhaps you don't yet know what I'm saying.


C. No. Indeed I don't.

S. Well, I'll tell you more clearly. Since you and I are agreed that something is good and something is pleasant, that the pleasant is different from the good, and that there is a training and practice for 10the gaining of each, one a pursuit of the pleasant, the other of the Editor’s Noteegood — then accept or deny this point first of all. Do you accept it?

C. Yes, I do.

S. Come then, and accept what I was saying to these people too, if you really thought I was saying what was true then. I think I was 5saying that cookery doesn't seem to me to be a craft, but a knack, 501while medicine is a craft. I said that medicine has considered the nature of what it cares for and the explanation of what it does, and pg 78can give a rational account (logos) of each of these things. But the knack concerned with pleasure, which all its care aims at, goes after 5this entirely without a craft, not at all considering the nature or the explanation of the pleasure, and altogether without reason, making practically no distinctions. By habit and experience it keeps only memory of what usually happens, by which it produces its pleasures. And so consider first whether you think this is adequately stated and whether there are also other such practices associated with the soul, some of them with craft-knowledge, with forethought for what is 5best about the soul, and others which despise the best, and have considered, as we said about cookery, only how the pleasure of the soul might come about, but neither consider what pleasure is better or worse nor care about anything else than giving gratification, better or worse. I think there are these practices, Callicles, and I say that this kind of thing is flattery, for the body, for the soul, and for anything else whose pleasure anyone cultivates, when he fails to 5consider the better and the worse. Do you deposit the same opinion about this as ours, or do you speak against it?

C. No I don't. I'm going along with you, to let the discussion progress for you, and to gratify Gorgias here.

S. Editor’s NotedIs this so for one soul, but not for two or for many?

C. No. It's so for two and for many as well.

S. And isn't it also possible to gratify souls all in a crowd at the 5same time, not considering the best at all?

C. Yes, I think so.

S. Then can you tell me which are the practices that produce this? Or rather, if you like, I'll ask the questions; agree with what eyou think is right, and deny what you think is wrong. And first of all, let's consider flute-playing. Don't you think it is the kind of practice we mentioned, Callicles, pursuing only our pleasure, and concerned with nothing else?

C. I think so.


S. And aren't all of this kind similar — such as lyre-playing before large audiences?

C. Yes.

S. And what about the teaching of choruses, and the making of dithyrambs? Isn't it apparently something of the same kind? Or do pg 7910you think Cinesias the son of Meles cares at all about saying the kind of thing to make the audience better? Or does he care about what 502will gratify the mob of spectators?

C. That's clear, Socrates, about Cinesias anyway.

S. And what about his father Meles? Did you think he was 5looking to what is best when he sang on the lyre? Or didn't he even consider what was pleasantest? For he used to torture the spectators when he sang. But consider — don't you think that all singing to the lyre and composition of dithyrambs has been discovered for the sake of pleasure?

C. I do.

S. Editor’s NotebThen what about this august and wonderful pursuit, the composition of tragedy, and its concern? Is its undertaking and concern, in your opinion, just to gratify the spectators? Or does it also struggle, 5if anything is pleasant and gratifying to them, but base, to avoid saying it, and if something is without pleasure but beneficial, to say and sing this, whether they enjoy it or not? Which way do you think the composition of tragedies is equipped?

C. Editor’s NotecThis much is clear, Socrates, that it concentrates on pleasure and on gratifying spectators.

S. And didn't we say just now that this sort of thing is flattery, Callicles?

C. Quite.


S. Well now, if someone took away from all poetic composition the melody, the rhythm, and the metre, doesn't what is left turn out to be speech (logos)?

C. It must be.


S. And isn't this speech addressed to a large mob of the people?

C. I agree.

S. Then poetic composition is a kind of public oratory.

C. dApparently.

S. And surely public oratory is rhetoric. Or don't you think the poets practise rhetoric in the theatres?

C. Yes, I think so.


S. And so we've found a kind of rhetoric addressed to the people, including children and women and men all together, and slaves and free. And we can't altogether admire it; for we say it's flattering.

pg 80

C. Quite.

S. All right. What about rhetoric addressed to the Athenian people 10and the other peoples of the cities, the peoples composed of free Editor’s Noteemen, exactly what do we find this is? Do you think that rhetors always speak with an eye on what is best, and aim to make the 5citizens as good as possible by their speeches? Or do they too concentrate on gratifying the citizens, despising the common interest for the sake of their own private interest? Do they approach the people 503in cities as children, trying only to gratify them, with no concern about whether they will be better or worse from it?

C. That's not just one question you're asking any more. There are some who care about the citizens when they say what they say, and others who are as you claim.


S. That's all right. For if there are really two types here, I presume one type is flattery, and shameful public oratory, while the other is fine — trying to make the souls of the citizens as good as possible, and working hard in saying what is best, whether it is pleasant or bunpleasant to the audience. But you've never yet seen this kind of rhetoric; or if you can mention a rhetor of this type, why haven't you told me as well who he is?


C. Well, by Zeus, I can't mention any of the present rhetors to you.

S. Well then, can you mention someone of earlier times who's reputed to have made the Athenians better, after he began his public speaking, when they had previously been worse? For I don't know who this is.

C. Editor’s NotecWell, don't you hear it said that Themistocles proved himself a good man, and Cimon and Miltiades, and Pericles? — he's lately died and you've heard him speak yourself.

S. Yes, Callicles; if real virtue is what you were saying before — 5filling up appetites, our own or other people's. But if it's not that, but it's what we were forced to agree to in the later discussion — that we should fulfil those appetites which make a man better when Editor’s Notedthey are fulfilled, and not fulfil those which make him worse, and that this is some kind of craft — then I can't say that any of these men had that kind of virtue.

C. Well, if you look properly, you'll find one.

pg 815

S. Then let's see, considering calmly this way, whether any of these men proved to be virtuous. Come now, the good man who Editor’s Noteespeaks with a view to the best, surely he won't speak at random, but will look to something? He will be like all other craftsmen; each of them selects and applies his efforts with a view to his own work, not at random, but so that what he produces will acquire some form. Look for instance if you like at painters, builders, shipwrights, all 5other craftsmen — whichever one you like; see how each of them arranges in a structure whatever he arranges, and compels one thing 504to be fitting and suitable to another, until he composes the whole thing arranged in a structure and order. All craftsmen, including those we were talking of just now, gymnastic-trainers, and doctors, form the body into order and structure, don't they? Do we agree 5that this is so, or not?

C. Let's say this is so.

S. Then when a house gets structure and order, it will be worthy, and when it lacks structure, wretched?

C. I agree.


S. And surely a boat the same way?

C. bYes.

S. And don't we say the same about our bodies?

C. Quite.

S. And what about the soul? Will it be worthy if it lacks 5structure, or if it gains some kind of structure and order?

C. From what's been said before, we must agree on this too.

S. Then what's the name for what comes to be in the body from structure and order?

C. I suppose you're talking about health and strength.

S. Editor’s NotecI am. And what's the name for what comes to be in the soul from structure and order? Try to find and say the name for this as for the body.

C. And why don't you say it yourself, Socrates?


S. Well, if it pleases you more, I'll say it myself. But you, if you think I speak well, agree, and if you don't, examine me, and don't give in to me. I think that the name for the structures of the body is 'healthy' from which health and the rest of bodily excellence (aretē) come to be in the body. Is that so, or isn't it?

pg 8210

C. It is.

S. Editor’s NotedAnd for the structures and orderings of the soul the name is 'lawful' and 'law', from which people become lawful and orderly; and these are justice and temperance. Do you say so, or not?

C. Let it be so.


S. Then won't that rhetor, the craftsman, the good one, look to these things when he applies whatever speeches he makes to souls, and when he applies all his actions to them, and when he gives whatever he gives, and when he takes away whatever he takes away? He'll always have his mind on this; to see that the souls of the citizens Editor’s Noteeacquire justice and get rid of injustice, and that they acquire temperance and get rid of intemperance (akolasia) and that they acquire the rest of virtue and get rid of vice. Do you agree or not?


C. I agree.

S. Yes, for what's the benefit, Callicles, of giving lots of the most pleasant food or drink or anything else to a sick body in wretched condition, which won't help it one bit more than the opposite method, on the right account, and will help even less? Is that so?

C. 505Let it be so.

S. Yes; for I suppose it's no profit for a man to live with bodily wretchedness; in that condition you must live wretchedly too. Isn't that so?


C. Yes.

S. And don't the doctors mostly allow a healthy man to fulfil his appetites, for instance to eat and drink as much as he wants when he's hungry or thirsty? And don't they practically never allow a sick 10man to fill himself with what he has an appetite for? Don't you also agree with this much?

C. I do.

S. Editor’s NotebAnd isn't it the same way, my excellent man, about the soul? As long as it's corrupt, senseless, intemperate, unjust, and impious, we should restrain it from its appetites, and not allow it to do 5anything else except what will make it better. Do you say so, or not?

C. I do.

S. For, I take it, that way it's better for the soul itself.

C. Quite.

pg 83

S. And isn't restraining it from what it has an appetite for tempering it?


C. Yes.

S. Then being tempered is better for the soul than intemperance, which you just now thought was better.

C. Editor’s NotecI don't know what you're saying, Socrates. Ask someone else.

S. This man won't abide being helped and tempered, and himself undergoing the very thing our discussion is about — being tempered.


C. No; I don't care about anything you say; I've answered these questions of yours for Gorgias' sake.

S. Well, what will we do, then? Are we breaking off the discussion in the middle?

C. That's up to you.


S. Well, they say it's not right to break stories off in the middle Editor’s Notedeither; we should put a head on it, so that it won't go around headless. So answer the rest of the questions too, so that our discussion will get its head on.


C. You're so insistent, Socrates. Listen to me, and let this discussion go, or have a dialogue with someone else as well.

S. Then who else is willing? Surely we mustn't leave the discussion incomplete.

C. And couldn't you finish the discussion yourself? Say it all in your own person, or answer your own questions.

S. eThen Epicharmus' words will be true for me; I'll be enough, all alone, for what 'two men were saying before'. It seems that this will be absolutely necessary. But if we do it, I believe we all ought to 5compete to know what's true and false in the things we're speaking of. For it's a common benefit to all when this becomes clear. Well, 506I'll go through the discussion myself the way I think it is; and if one of you thinks that what I'm agreeing on with myself isn't what's true, you ought to seize on it, and examine me. For remember I don't have knowledge any more than you have when I say what I 5say. I search in common with you; and so if my opponent is clearly saying something, I will be the first to concede it. Now I'm saying this in case you think the discussion ought to be completed; but if you don't want that, let's let it go now and leave.

bGorgias. Well, I don't think we ought to leave yet, Socrates. You pg 84should go through the discussion; and I think the rest agree. For myself, I'd like to hear you go through the rest on your own.

S. Well, Gorgias, for myself I'd be pleased to continue the 5dialogue with Callicles here, until I've paid him the discourse of Amphion in return for the discourse of Zethus. But since you aren't willing to finish the discussion, Callicles, none the less listen to me, and pull Editor’s Notecme up if you think I say anything wrongly. And if you refute me, I won't be annoyed with you the way you were with me, but I'll keep you inscribed as my greatest benefactor.

C. Say it yourself, my good man, and finish it.


S. Then listen to me while I take up the discussion again from the beginning. Are the pleasant and the good the same?

— Not the same, as Callicles and I agreed.

— Then is the pleasant to be done for the sake of the good, or the good for the sake of the pleasant?

— The pleasant for the sake of the good.

Editor’s Noted— And the pleasant is that which, if it has come to be present, we take pleasure, and the good that which, if it has come to be present, we are good?

— Quite.

— Now we are good, and so is anything else which is good, when some virtue has come to be present.

I think it's necessary, Callicles.

5— But now, the virtue of each thing, a tool, a body, and, further, a soul and a whole animal, doesn't come to be present in the best way just at random, but by some structure and correctness and craft, the one assigned to each of them. Is this so?

— I say so.

Editor’s Notee— Then the virtue of each thing is something structured and ordered by a structure?

— I would say so myself.

— Then it is some order — the proper order for each of the things that are — which makes the thing good by coming to be present in it.

— I myself think so.

5— Then a soul with its own proper order is better than a disordered soul?

— It must be.

pg 85— But now the soul which has order is orderly?

— Of course it is.

507— And the orderly soul is temperate?

— It certainly must be.

— Then the temperate soul is good.

— For myself I can say nothing else besides this, my dear Callicles.

If you can say anything else, instruct me.

C. Go on, my good man.


S. Well, I say that if the temperate soul is good, the soul affected the opposite way to the temperate soul is bad; and this was agreed to be the senseless and intemperate (akolastos) soul.

— Quite.

— And now the temperate man would do fitting things towards both gods and men. For surely he wouldn't be acting temperately if he did unfitting things?

Editor’s Noteb— This must be so.

— Now by doing fitting things towards men he would do just things, and by doing them towards gods, he would do pious things. And someone who does just and pious things must be just and pious.

— That's so.

5— And further he must be brave too. For it's not what a temperate man does to avoid or pursue unfitting things; he will avoid or pursue the things and people, pleasures and pains he should, and will resist Editor’s Notecand endure where he should. And so, Callicles, since the temperate man is just and brave and pious, as we described him, he definitely must be a completely good man; and the good man must do whatever he does well and finely; and the man who does well must be 5blessed and happy, and the base man who does badly must be wretched — and this would be the man who is the opposite way to the temperate man — the intemperate (akolastos) man whom you were praising.

And so I set these things down this way, and say that these things Editor’s Notedare true. And if they are true, then apparently the man who wants to be happy must pursue and practise temperance, and flee intemperance as fast as each of us can run. He must manage, best of all, to have no need of tempering (kolazesthai); but if he or any of his own, 5an individual or a city, needs tempering, justice and tempering must pg 86be imposed, if he is to be happy. I believe this is the goal a man should look to in living, on which he should concentrate everything of his own and the city's — to see that justice and temperance are Editor’s Noteepresent in everyone who is to be blessed — this is the way he should act. He should not allow his appetites to be intemperate and try to fulfil them — an endless evil — while he lives the life of a brigand.

For no other man would be a friend to such a man; nor would god. For he is incapable of community; and when there is no 5community with a man, there can be no friendship with him. Now the 508wise men say, Callicles, that heaven and earth, gods and men are bound by community and friendship and order and temperance and justice; and that is why they call this whole universe the 'world-order', not 'disorder' or 'intemperance', my friend. But I think you 5don't heed them, though you're wise yourself. You haven't noticed that geometrical equality has great power among gods and men; you think you should practise taking more, because you are heedless of geometry.

Editor’s NotebWell then; either we must refute this argument and show that it is not by possession of justice and temperance that the happy are happy, and that the wretched are not wretched by the possession of vice; or else if this argument is true, we must examine what are the results that follow. All those previous things follow, Callicles — you 5asked me if I was serious when I said them, when I said that a man should denounce himself and his son and his companion if he does any unjust action, and should use rhetoric for this. And those things you thought Polus conceded to me out of shame were after all true, Editor’s Notecthat doing injustice is as much worse than suffering it as it is more shameful; and after all someone who is going to be a rhetor in the right way should be a just man, one who knows about just things — which again Polus said Gorgias had conceded out of shame.

5Since that is so, let's consider what you're abusing me for, whether it's well said or not. You say indeed that I'm unable to help myself or any of my friends or relatives, or save them from the most serious dangers, but I'm in the power of whoever wishes, just as the Editor’s Noteddishonoured are at the mercy of whoever feels like it — whether he wants to push my face in, in your vigorous expression, or to confiscate my money, or to expel me from the city, or finally to kill me — pg 875and this condition is the most shameful of all, on your account. Now what my argument is has often enough been said already, but nothing prevents it being said over again. I say, Callicles, that having my face Editor’s Noteepushed in unjustly is not the most shameful thing — nor is having my body or my purse cut. But to strike and cut me and mine unjustly is more shameful and evil, and likewise robbing, enslaving, 5housebreaking, and in short, any injustice against me and mine is both worse and more shameful for the man who does the injustice than for me who suffer it.

These things which appeared true to us earlier in the previous 509arguments (logos) are held firm and bound down, so I say — even if it is a bit impolite to say so — by iron and adamantine arguments; so at least it appears so far. And if you, or someone more vigorous than you, doesn't untie them, no one who says anything besides what I say now can be right. For my argument (logos) is always the same, 5that I myself don't know how these things are, but no one I've ever met, just as now, is able to speak otherwise without being ridiculous.

Editor’s NotebWell then, again I lay it down that this is so. Now if it's so, and if injustice is the greatest of evils for the man who does injustice, and an even greater evil than the greatest, if that is possible, is doing injustice and not paying justice — then what lack of power to defend himself would make a man really ridiculous? Won't it be the lack of 5power to defend himself against the greatest of harms to us? Surely this defence definitely must be the most shameful for us to lack power to provide, for ourselves and for friends and family. And the csecond most shameful will be the lack of defence against the second most serious evil, and the third most shameful against the third most serious evil, and so on in the same way — the greater each evil is, the finer it is to have the power to defend ourselves against it, and the more shameful it is to lack the power. Is that how it is, or some other way, Callicles?


C. No other way.

S. Then of these two things, doing injustice and suffering it, we say that doing injustice is the greater evil, and suffering it the lesser. Editor’s NotedThen how should a man equip himself for self-defence, so as to gain both of these benefits, from not doing injustice and from not suffering it? Does he need power or wish? I'm saying this: — Is it by not pg 88wishing to suffer injustice that a man will avoid suffering it, or by 5equipping himself with some power for not suffering it?

C. It's clear that this is the way, by having a power.

S. And what about doing injustice? If a man doesn't want to do injustice, will that be enough, because he won't do injustice? Or for Editor’s Noteethis too should he equip himself with some power and craft, since if he doesn't learn and practise them he'll do injustice? Why haven't 5you answered me that, Callicles, whether you think Polus and I were right or not when we were forced to agree in the previous discussion, when we agreed that no one wants to do injustice, but all those who do it do it involuntarily?

C. 510You can say that that's so, Socrates, so that you can complete the argument.

S. Then for this too, apparently, we must equip ourselves with some power and craft, so that we won't do injustice.


C. Quite.

S. Then what is the craft equipping us to suffer injustice not at all, or as little as possible? See if you think it's the one I think it is. I think it's this one: Either someone should himself be ruler in the 10city or even tyrant, or he should be an ally of the political system in power.

C. Editor’s NotebDo you see how ready I am to praise you, Socrates, if you say something well? I think that was altogether well said.

S. Then consider if you think this is well said too. I think one man is a friend to another most of all when, as wise men of old say, 5like is friend to like. Don't you think so too?

C. Yes, I do.

S. Then wherever a brutal and uneducated tyrant is the ruler, won't he surely be afraid of anyone in the city who is far better than Editor’s Notechim, and won't he be quite unable to become a friend to him with all his mind?

C. That's so.

S. And if someone is far worse than himself, he won't be a friend either; for the tyrant will despise him, and never treat him seriously 5as he would treat a friend.

C. That's true too.

S. Then the only friend to such a man worth consideration who's pg 89left is whoever has a similar character, blames and praises the same things, and is willing to be ruled by the ruler and to be subject to Editor’s Notedhim. This man will have great power in this city; no one will do injustice against him without being sorry for it. Isn't it so?

C. Yes.


S. Then suppose some young man in this city thought, 'How might I win great power so that no one does injustice to me?' Apparently this is the road for him; he must accustom himself from youth to enjoy and hate the same things as the tyrant, and manage to be as like the tyrant as possible. Isn't that the way?


C. Yes.

S. And so won't this man, on your account, have gained protection eagainst suffering injustice and gained great power — on the account (logos) you offer — in the city?

C. Quite.

S. Then will he also have gained protection against doing 5injustice? Far from it, surely, if he's to be like the tyrant who is unjust, and is to have great power with him. But I think myself that, quite the opposite, he'll equip himself to be capable of doing the most possible injustice and avoid paying justice for it. Won't he?

C. Apparently.

S. 511Won't the greatest evil belong to him when his soul is wretched, and he is disfigured by his imitation of his master and by his power?


C. Somehow you always twist the discussion upside down, Socrates. Don't you know that this imitator will kill that non-imitator of yours, if he wants to, and confiscate all he has?

S. Editor’s NotebYes, I know it, my good Callicles, if I'm not deaf. I've often heard it from you and Polus just now, and from practically everyone else in the city. But now you listen to me too. He will kill him if he wants to, but it will be a base man killing a fine and good man.


C. And isn't that exactly what is deplorable?

S. Not if we have any intelligence — so the argument (logos) indicates. Surely you don't think a man should equip himself for this — to live the longest time he can, and should practise those crafts cwhich save us from dangers any time, as rhetoric does — the craft you encourage me to practise, which keeps us safe in courts?

C. Yes, by Zeus; and I'm giving you the right advice.

pg 90

S. Well then, my good man; do you think that the knowledge of 5swimming is also something impressive?

C. No, by Zeus, I certainly don't.

S. And yet it also saves people from death, when they fall into conditions where this knowledge is needed. But if this knowledge Editor’s Notedseems trivial to you, I'll tell you a more important kind than it — the pilot's knowledge, which saves not only souls, but also bodies and property from extreme dangers, as rhetoric does. Now this science is plain and orderly, and does not put on impressive airs, dressed up as 5though it were achieving something extraordinary. When it has done the same as the forensic science, if it brings someone safely here from Aegina, I suppose it has earned two obols; if it brings us from Editor’s NoteeEgypt or the Pontus, then at the very most, for this great service, when it has kept safe all the things I was mentioning just now — the man himself, children, property, women — and brought them ashore in the harbour, it has earned two drachmas; and the man with this 5craft who has achieved all this gets out and walks along by the sea and his ship with a modest attitude. For I suppose he knows enough to reason that it's not clear which passengers he has benefited by not 512letting them drown, and which ones he has harmed; he knows he has put them ashore no better than they were when they boarded, either in body or in soul. He reasons, then, that if someone suffering serious and incurable diseases in his body who has not expired is 5wretched because he has not died, and has gained no benefit from him — if that is so, then if someone has many incurable diseases in what is more honourable than his body — his soul — it will not be worth living for him, and the pilot will not benefit him by saving him from the sea or the law-court or anywhere else; the pilot knows it is not better for the wretched man to live; for he is bound to live badly.

That's why it is not the rule (nomos), my splendid man, for the pilot to put on imposing airs, even though he saves our lives, or for 5the machine-maker who can sometimes save us no less than the general, let alone the pilot or anyone else, can — for sometimes he saves whole cities. Do you think he's up to the level of the advocate? And yet, if he wanted to say the things you rhetors say, Callicles, Editor’s Notecmaking the thing sound imposing, he'd bury you with his speech pg 91(logos), speaking and exhorting to show that we should become machine-makers, because other things amount to nothing — he would have quite an adequate speech to make. But none the less you 5despise him and his craft; you would call him a 'machine-maker' by way of insult, and would never be willing to marry your daughter to his son, or to accept his daughter yourself. But on the grounds on which you praise what you have, what just argument (logos) have dyou for despising the machine-maker and the others I was speaking of just now? I know you'd say you are a better man and of better family. But if what is better isn't what I say it is, if just this is virtue — for a man to save himself and what he has, whatever condition he 5may be in — then see how ludicrous your reproaches turn out to be against the machine-maker and the doctor and whatever other crafts have been devised to preserve us alive.

But no, blessed man. See if what is noble and good is something else besides preserving life and having it preserved. For surely a real eman should forget about living some particular length of time, and should not be anxious about his life. He should leave all this to the god, and believe the women when they say that not a single man can escape destiny. Then he should consider the next question; how best 5to live, for however long he is to live — should he live conforming 513himself to the political system he lives under, and should you now become as much like the Athenian people as possible, if you are to be a friend of theirs and gain great power in the city? See if this benefits you and me, so that the same thing doesn't happen to us, 5my excellent man, as they say happens to the women who draw down the moon, the Thessalian women; for we will risk what is dearest to us when we choose this power in the city.

bBut if you think anyone will pass on to you some craft which will make you powerful in this city when you are unlike this political system, better or worse than it — then I think you are planning wrongly, Callicles. For you shouldn't be an imitator, but like them 5in your own nature if you are to achieve anything genuine towards friendship with the Athenian demos — yes, with Demos the son of Pyrilampes too. And so whoever makes you most like them, he will make you a politician the way you want to be one, a politician and Editor’s Noteca rhetor. For each audience enjoys speeches delivered in its character, pg 92and dislikes those in an alien character — unless you disagree, my dear friend. Do we say anything against that, Callicles?


C. Somehow or other I think you're speaking well, Socrates. But the same thing happens to me as to most people; I'm not quite convinced by you.

S. That's because the love of Demos is present in your soul and Editor’s Notedopposes me, Callicles. But if we thoroughly consider these same questions often and better, you'll be convinced. But now recall that we said that the practices concerned with the care of each thing, body and soul, were two, one which approaches it aiming at pleasure, 5the other aiming at the best, not gratifying it, but struggling with it. Weren't these the things we defined then?

C. Quite.

S. And doesn't the first one, the one aiming at pleasure, turn out to be a poor thing, nothing other than flattery? Isn't that so?

C. eIt can be so for you if you like.

S. And the other is concerned so that what we care for, whether it's body or soul, will be as good as possible?

C. Quite.


S. Then are we to set about caring for the city and its citizens in this way, aiming to make the citizens themselves as good as possible? For without this, as we were finding out in what went before, it is 514no help to supply any other benefit at all, if the people's mind is not fine and good when they are to receive great wealth or rule over some others or any other power at all. Are we to say that it is so?

C. Quite — if it pleases you more.


S. Then suppose, Callicles, we were encouraging each other in some building project, intending to undertake the city's public business in some large-scale buildings, city-walls, dockyards, or btemples: — Should we not consider and scrutinize ourselves first of all to see whether we knew the craft or didn't know it, the building craft, and who we learned it from? Should we do this or not?

C. Quite.


S. And shouldn't we then consider this second, whether we have ever built any building in private business for any of our friends or for ourselves, and whether this building is fine or ugly (aischron)? cAnd if in considering we found we had had good and reputable pg 93teachers, that we had built many fine buildings with our teachers' help, and also many of our own after we left our teachers — if we were in this condition, we would be acting like intelligent men if we 5went in for public works. But if we could point to no teacher of ours, and to no buildings, or to many buildings, but worthless ones, in that case it would surely be senseless to undertake public works and encourage each other to it. Will we say this is correct or not?

C. dQuite.

S. And isn't it the same in all cases? For instance, if we had undertaken public business and were encouraging each other by 5saying we were competent doctors, then presumably we would scrutinize each other; 'Come now, by the gods, what is Socrates' own bodily condition, as far as health goes? Or has anyone else got rid of disease yet because of Socrates, either slave or free man? And I imagine I'd ask the same sorts of questions about you; and if we efound that no one had become better as far as his body goes because of us, neither foreigner nor Athenian, neither man nor woman, then surely, by Zeus, wouldn't it be really ludicrous, Callicles, if people 5went to such lengths of foolishness that before they had many failures and successes in private business, and had adequate training in their craft, they tried to learn pottery on the big jar, as they say, undertook public business themselves, and encouraged others just as unqualified? Don't you think it would be senseless to do this?

C. I do.

S. 515But as things are, my good man, since you yourself are just beginning to engage in the city's business, and exhort me to do it, and abuse me because I don't, surely we'll scrutinize each other this 5way: 'Let's see, has Callicles ever yet made any citizen better? Is there anyone who was previously base, unjust, intemperate, and senseless, who because of Callicles has become fine and good — a foreigner or an Athenian, a slave or a free man?' Tell me, if someone tests you this way, Callicles, what will you say? What man will you say you've made better by association with you? Do you shirk from answering, from saying whether there's something you achieved while you were in private life before you undertook public business?


C. You're competitive, Socrates.

S. No, I'm not asking questions to be competitive, Callicles. It's pg 94because I really want to know just how you think the city's business Editor’s Notecshould be conducted here. Will we find that you have entered the city's business concerned for anything else than for how we citizens will be as good as possible? Haven't we agreed over and over that this is what the politician should do? Have we or haven't we? Answer. 5We have — I'll answer for you. Then if this is what the good man should arrange for his city, recall now those men you were speaking of a little earlier, and tell me about them, whether you still think Editor’s Notedthat they have proved themselves good citizens — Pericles, Cimon, Miltiades, Themistocles.

C. Yes, I do.

S. Then if they were good, it's clear that each of them was making the citizens better from being worse. Was he or not?


C. Yes.

S. Then when Pericles was beginning to speak among the people, weren't the Athenians worse than they were when he was speaking for the last time?

C. Perhaps.

S. No; not perhaps, my good man. They must have been, from 10what we've agreed, if Pericles was a good citizen.

C. Editor’s NoteeSo what?

S. So nothing. But tell me this as well: — Is it said that the Athenians became better because of Pericles, or just the opposite — that they were corrupted by him? For that's what I myself hear said, that 5Pericles has made the Athenians idlers and cowards, chatterers and spongers, by starting them on drawing pay.

C. It's the people with torn ears you hear say that, Socrates.


S. Well, here's something I don't just hear said, but I know it clearly, and so do you: — At first Pericles had a good reputation, and the Athenians never convicted him on any shameful charge, when 516they were worse. But when they had been made fine and good by him, at the end of Pericles' life, they convicted him of theft, and nearly condemned him to death, clearly because they supposed he was base.

C. So what? Did that make Pericles bad?


S. Well, a keeper of donkeys or horses or cattle who was like him would be thought bad, if they did not kick or butt or bite him when pg 95he took them over, and finally he left them doing all these things Editor’s Notebfrom wildness. Or don't you think anyone is a bad keeper of any animal whatever if he takes them over tame and finally leaves them wilder than they were when he took them over? Do you think so or not?

C. Yes, quite — just to gratify you.


S. Then gratify me by answering this too. Is man also one of the animals or not?

C. Of course.

S. Wasn't Pericles a keeper of men?

C. Yes.


S. Well then, shouldn't they, as we were agreeing recently, have Editor’s Notecbecome more just through him, after being more unjust, if he was their keeper and was good in politics?

C. Quite.

S. Now aren't the just tame, as Homer said? What do you say? Isn't it so?


C. Yes.

S. But now Pericles left them much wilder than when he took them over, and wilder against him, which he would have wanted least of all.

C. Do you want me to agree with you?

S. Yes, if you think I'm saying what's true.


C. Well, let it be so.

S. Then if they were wilder, weren't they more unjust and worse?

C. Editor’s NotedLet's say so.

S. Then Pericles was not good in politics, on this argument (logos).

C. Well, you say he wasn't.


S. And so do you, from what you were agreeing. But now tell me about Cimon. Didn't those Athenians he was caring for ostracize him so that they wouldn't hear his voice for ten years? And didn't they do the same to Themistocles, and punish him with exile as well? And Miltiades of Marathon — didn't they vote to throw him into the pit, Editor’s Noteeand but for the prytanis wouldn't they have thrown him in? But if these had been good men, as you say they were, that would never have happened to them. Surely good drivers don't avoid being pg 965thrown out of the seat at the start, and then — when they take care of the horses, and become better drivers themselves — get thrown out after all that. That doesn't happen in driving chariots or in any other work. Or do you think it does?

C. No, I don't.

S. 517Then what we said earlier was true, it seems, that we don't know of anyone who turned out to be a good man in politics in this city. You were agreeing about men now, but not about men of previous times, and you chose these men above others. But these have turned out to be in the same position as men now, so that if 5they were rhetors, they practised neither true rhetoric — for then they wouldn't have been thrown out — nor flattering rhetoric.

C. But no, Socrates — surely no one now will achieve such works Editor’s Notebas any one you like of those previous men.


S. My friend, I'm not reproaching them any more than you are, as servants of the city. No; I think they've proved to be better servants than the present people, and more capable of supplying the 5city with what it had an appetite for. But for forcing change in their appetites, not indulging them, persuading and forcing them towards what will make the citizens better — here they were virtually no Editor’s Notecdifferent from people now — and that's the only work for a good citizen. But ships, walls, dockyards, and many other things — I too agree with you that the previous people were cleverer than the people now at supplying them.

Well, now we're doing a ridiculous thing, you and I in our discussion. All the time we're having a dialogue we never stop coming round to the same place all the time, with each not knowing what the other is saying. At any rate, I believe you've several times agreed Editor’s Notedand recognized that the practice concerned with the body and with the soul is twofold; one practice is the serving kind, by which we have the power to provide food if our bodies are hungry, drink if they are thirsty, cloaks if they are cold, beds, shoes, other things 5bodies have appetites for — and I'm deliberately using the same images to tell you, so that you'll grasp it more easily.

If a vendor or a merchant or a producer of one of these things, a Editor’s Noteebaker, cook, weaver, shoemaker, tanner, supplies these fulfilments of bodily appetites, it is not surprising that when he is like this, he pg 97and other people suppose that he takes care of the body. Everyone supposes this who doesn't know that there is another craft, gymnastics 5and medicine, besides all these, which is really care of the body, and which fittingly rules over all crafts and uses their works — for it knows what food and drink is worthy and base for the excellence 518(aretē) of the body, while all the others are ignorant of it. And this is why these other crafts are slavish, with the tasks of servants, not free men, in the treatment of the body, while the gymnastic and medical crafts are mistresses of these, according to what is just.

5That these same things apply to the soul too — sometimes I think you understand what I say, and you agree as though you know what bI say. But a little later you come along saying that fine and good men have been citizens in the city. Whenever I ask you who they are, I think the sort of men in politics you offer are just as if I had asked you about gymnastics which men have previously proved to be or 5are now good in care for the body, and you told me quite seriously, 'Thearion the baker, Mithaecus who wrote the Sicilian cookery-book, and Sarambus the vendor, because they are terrific at care of cthe body — one supplies terrific bread, one cooked dishes, the third wine.'

Now perhaps you'd be annoyed if I said to you, 'My dear fellow, you don't understand a thing about gymnastics. You're telling me about servants and suppliers of appetites who understand nothing 5fine and good about them. If it happens that way, they'll fill up and fatten people's bodies, and be praised by them for it, and then destroy their original flesh as well. And then the people themselves Editor’s Notedwill be too inexperienced to hold the providers of the feast responsible for their diseases and the loss of their original flesh. No; they'll blame any who happen to be there giving them advice at the time. 5When their previous filling up brings disease to them much later — since they had it without the healthy — these are the ones they'll hold responsible and blame and do some evil to if they can, while Editor’s Noteethose previous ones who were responsible for the evils — they'll eulogize them.'

And what you're doing now, Callicles, is just like this. You're eulogizing people who feasted the Athenians, indulging them with what they had an appetite for. It's said that they made the city pg 98519great; but that it's swelling and festering because of these earlier people — no one notices this. For without justice and temperance they have left the city full of harbours and dockyards and walls and tribute and that sort of rubbish. And so when that crisis of the disease 5comes, they'll hold responsible the advisers who are there at the time, and eulogize Themistocles and Cimon and Pericles, the ones responsible for the evils. And perhaps they'll seize on you, if you're not careful, and on my companion Alcibiades, when they lose both their more recent gains and what they had before, though you aren't wholly responsible for the evils, but perhaps partly responsible.

But it's a senseless thing I see going on now and hear about the men of earlier times. For I notice that when the city lays hands on 5any of the political men for injustice, they're annoyed and scandalized, saying that it's a terrible thing being done to them; they've done much good to the city and now they're being ruined unjustly by it — that's their argument. But the whole thing's false. For not a csingle leader of a city can ever be destroyed unjustly by the very city he leads.

For it looks as though those who claim to be politicians and those who claim to be sophists are the same. For the sophists too, though 5they're wise about the other things, do an absurd thing here; they claim to be teachers of virtue, but then they often accuse their pupils of doing injustice to them, depriving them of their fees, and Editor’s Notedgiving no other reward in return when they've benefited from them. Now what could be less reasonable than this argument? They say that men who have been made good and just, when they have lost injustice and acquired justice because of their teacher, do injustice to 5him, because of what they don't have. Don't you think this is absurd, my friend? You've really forced me to be a mob-orator, Callicles, when you wouldn't answer.

C. And you were the one who wouldn't be able to speak unless someone answered you?

S. Editor’s NoteeWell, it looks as though I can. At least I'm stretching my speeches (logos) to some length now, since you're unwilling to answer me. Come now, my good man, tell me by the god of friendship, don't you think it's unreasonable for someone who claims to have pg 995made someone else good to blame the other man because he has become good from him, he is still good, and then he is base?

C. I think it is.

S. Don't you hear this said by those who claim to educate men to virtue?

C. 520I do. But what can you say about such worthless people?

S. Then what can you say about those people who claim to be leaders of the city and to be in charge of it to make it as good as poss-5ible, and then accuse it, when the occasion arises, of being thoroughly base? Do you think these people are any different from the sophists? The sophist and the rhetor are the same, or close and very similar, as I was saying to Polus; but you because of your ignorance think that bone, rhetoric, is altogether fine, and despise the other. In fact sophistry is finer than rhetoric, by just as much as legislative science is finer than judicial, and gymnastic science than medical. And I thought only the public orators and the sophists were not in a position 5to blame the people they have educated for being base to them, unless by the same argument (logos) they condemned themselves too for having benefited not at all those whom they say they benefit. Isn't it so?

C. cQuite.

S. And only these, presumably, are in a position, it seems likely, to offer benefits for no fee, if what I was saying was true. For someone who has been given some other benefit, who has been made a 5quick runner, for instance, by a trainer, might deprive him of the reward if the trainer trained him free, and didn't agree on a fee and then receive payment, as far as possible at the same time as he makes dthe pupil speedy. For I suppose it's not from slowness that men do injustice, but from injustice. Is that right?

C. Yes.


S. Then if someone removed this very thing, injustice, he need have no fear of suffering injustice. He's the only one who can safely confer this benefit for nothing, if he really had the power to make people good. Isn't that right?

C. I agree.

S. Then apparently that's why, when other advice is given, about building, for instance, or the other crafts, taking payment is not at all shameful.

pg 100

C. Editor’s NoteeApparently.

S. But in this activity, how to be as good as possible and how best to govern one's own house or the city, it's counted (nomizein) 5shameful to say you won't give advice unless you're paid. Isn't that right?

C. Yes.

S. For it's clear that this is the explanation; this is the only benefit which makes its beneficiary anxious to confer benefits in 10return for benefits received. That's why you think it's a fine sign of having conferred this kind of benefit, that you benefit in return, and if you haven't, you don't. Is this so?

C. 521It is.

S. Then define for me what kind of care for the city you're urging on me. Do you want me to struggle, as a doctor would, to 5make the Athenians as good as possible, or to serve them and approach them aiming at their gratification? Tell me the truth, Callicles. Since you began by speaking freely to me, it's only just that you should go on saying what you think. Tell me now as well as before, well and nobly.

C. Well, I'm telling you you should serve them.

S. bThen it's flattery you're urging on me, my most noble friend.

C. Yes, if it pleases you more to call a Mysian a Mysian, Socrates. For if you don't do that.…

S. Don't tell me what you've often told me, that anyone who 5wants to will kill me. Save me the trouble of telling you in reply, 'He'll be base, and I'll be a good man.' And don't tell me he'll take away anything I have, or I'll reply, 'But when he takes it, he'll have no good use for it. He took it from me unjustly, and in the same way Editor’s Notecwhen he's taken it, he'll use it unjustly, if unjustly then shamefully, and if shamefully then badly.'

C. How confident you seem that none of these things will ever happen to you, Socrates. You think you live out of harm's way, and 5that you'll never be dragged into court, perhaps by some wretched scoundrel.

S. Then I'm really senseless, Callicles, if I don't think that anything might happen to anyone in this city. But here's something I Editor’s Notedknow full well. If I'm brought to court and face one of these penalties, pg 101as you say, my prosecutor will be a base man — for no worthy man would ever prosecute someone who wasn't doing injustice — and it wouldn't be at all extraordinary if I were put to death. Do you want me to say why I expect this?


C. Certainly.

S. I think I am one of a few Athenians — not to say the only one — who undertake the real political craft and practise politics — the only one among people now. I don't aim at gratification with each Editor’s Noteeof the speeches I make, but aim at the best, not the pleasantest, and I'm not willing to do 'these subtle things' that you advise me. That's why I won't know what to say in court. But the same account applies to me that I was telling to Polus. For I will be judged as a doctor might be judged by a jury of children with a cook as prosecutor. 5For consider how such a man would defend himself if he found himself before such a jury, if someone accused him and said 'Children, this man has inflicted many evils on you. He ruins the youngest of 522you by cutting and burning. He leaves you confused, slimming and choking you, giving you those terribly bitter potions, and compelling you to go hungry and thirsty. He's not like me. I used to feast you on many pleasant things of all kinds.' What do you think a doctor caught in this evil would be able to say? Or suppose he told the truth, 5and said, 'It was healthy, children, all that I was doing.' What sorts of protests would he hear from such jurymen? Wouldn't they be loud?

C. Perhaps. We ought to suppose so.

S. Don't you think he'd be caught at a complete loss about what Editor’s Notebhe ought to say?

C. Quite.

S. And yet I know that the same thing would happen to me too if I came before a jury-court. For I won't be able to tell them the 5pleasures I have provided — which they think are benefits and advantages, while I envy neither the providers nor those provided with them. And suppose someone says that I ruin the younger men by confusing them, or that I speak evil of the older people by harsh remarks in private or in public. Then I'll be able to say neither Editor’s Notecwhat's true — 'All this that I say and do is just, gentlemen of the jury' (as you rhetors say) — nor anything else. And so perhaps whatever it turns out to be will happen to me.

pg 102

C. Then do you think, Socrates, that it's a fine condition for a 5man in the city when he's like this, and without power to defend himself?

S. Yes — if he had this one thing which you have often agreed Editor’s Notedon, Callicles; if he had secured his own defence, by saying and doing nothing unjust towards men or gods. For we have often agreed that this is the supreme form of self-defence. And so if someone refuted me and showed that I have no power to defend myself or anyone else with 5this defence, then I would be ashamed if I were refuted before many people or before few, or with the two of us by ourselves; and if I were put to death because I lacked this power, I would be annoyed. But if I died because I lacked flattering rhetoric, I know for sure that Editor’s Noteeyou would see me bearing death easily. For being put to death itself — no one fears that unless he's altogether unreasoning and unmanly; it is doing 5injustice that he fears. For if the soul is full of many injustices when it arrives in Hades, that is the ultimate of all evils. And if you wish, I'd like to tell you an account (logos) of how this is so.

C. Well, since you've completed everything else, complete this too.

S. 523Hearken then, as they say, to a perfectly fine account. I suppose you'll think it's a tale, but I think it's an account; for I'll tell you what I'm about to tell you in the belief that it's true.

Well, as Homer tells, Zeus and Poseidon and Pluto divided their 5dominion when they took it over from their father. Now there was this rule (nomos) about men in the time of Cronus, and it still remains always and until now bamong the gods — that whoever among men had gone through life justly and piously, when he died, he should depart to the Isles of the Blessed and live in all happiness, away from evils, but the man who had lived unjustly and godlessly should go to the prision of retribution and justice, which they call 5Tartarus. In the time of Cronus, and early in Zeus' reign, these men were judged while they were still living, by judges still living, judging them on the day they were to die; and so the cases were being judged badly. And so Pluto and the overseers from the Isles of the Editor’s NotecBlessed would come and tell Zeus that undeserving men were arriving in both places.

Then Zeus said, 'Well, I'll stop what's happening', he said. 'For pg 103now the cases are judged badly. For those being judged (he said) are judged with clothes on; for they are judged while they're still alive. 5And so many (he said) with base souls are covered in fine bodies and noble birth and riches; and when their judgement comes, many witnesses come to support them and to testify that they have lived Editor’s Notedjustly. And so the judges are impressed by all this; and at the same time they judge with clothes on, obstructed by eyes and ears and their whole body in front of their soul. All these things, then, are in their way, both 5their own coverings and the defendants'.

'First of all, then (he said), we must stop them knowing their death in advance; for now they do know it. And so Prometheus has Editor’s Noteeactually been told to stop them. Next, they are to be judged stripped of all these things; for they should be judged when they are dead. And the judge should be stripped too, and dead; he should look with his soul by itself on the soul by itself of each man when he has died 5without warning, without covering, bereft of all kinsfolk, after leaving all that adornment behind on earth, so that the judgement will be just. Now I have realized this before you, and appointed sons 524of mine as judges — two from Asia, Minos and Rhadamanthys, and one from Europe, Aeacus. And so when they die, they will judge in the meadow at the three ways from which lead the twin ways, the first to the Isles of the Blessed, the second to Tartarus. And those 5from Asia Rhadamanthys will judge, those from Europe Aeacus. To Minos I will give seniority, to make a further judgement if the other two are at a loss about anything, so that men will have the most just judgement possible about their passage.'

Editor’s NotebThis is what I have heard, Callicles, and believe to be true. And from these accounts (logoi) I infer (logizomai) that something like this follows: — Death, it seems to me, is in fact nothing other than the separation of two things, the soul and the body, from each 5other. When they are separated, then, from each other, each of them keeps not much less its own condition which it had when the man was alive. The body keeps its nature, the ways it has been cared for, cwhat has happened to it — all clear to see. For instance, if someone's body was large by nature or by nurture or by both when he was alive, this man's corpse is also large when he dies. And if his body was fat, the corpse is fat also when he has died, and the other things the same pg 104way. And again, if he grew his hair long, this man's corpse is also 5long-haired. Again, if someone was a hardened criminal, and had traces of the blows in scars on his body from whips or other wounds when he was alive, when he is dead also his body can be seen to keep them still. Or if someone's limbs were broken or twisted when he dwas alive, when he is dead also these same things are clear to see. And in one account, just as each man's body had been equipped in his life, these things are clear when he has died too, all or most of them for some time.

Well then, I think the same is true about the soul as well, Callicles. 5Everything is clear in the soul when it is stripped of the body, what belongs by nature and what has happened to it, all that the man acquired in his soul from each of his practices. And so, when they Editor’s Noteeappear before the judge, those from Asia before Rhadamanthys, he stops them and examines each man's soul. He doesn't know whose soul it is, but often he has taken hold of the Great 5King, or some king or dynast or other, and noticed that nothing in the soul was healthy, but it was thoroughly whip-marked and full of scars from 525false oaths and injustice — all that each of his actions stained into the soul — and everything was crooked from lying and insolence, and nothing straight, from being brought up without truth; and he 5saw that from liberty and luxury and excess and incontinence in actions the soul was full of disproportion and shamefulness. And when he saw this, he sent this soul off dishonoured straight to the guardhouse where it is to go and bear what is fitting for it to undergo.

Editor’s NotebNow it is fitting for everyone undergoing vengeance and rightly suffering vengeance from another either to 5become better and be benefited, or to become an example to the rest, so that when others see him undergoing whatever he undergoes, they will be afraid and become better. Those who are benefited and pay justice at the hands of gods and men are those who are at fault with curable faults; but still their benefit comes to them through pain and sufferings both here and in Hades — for there is no other way to get rid of injustice. Editor’s NotecBut those who commit the ultimate injustices and because of such injustices become incurable, the examples are made from them. And they no longer gain benefit themselves, since they are incurable. But 5others are benefited who see that for their faults they are undergoing pg 105the greatest, most painful, and most frightening suffering for all time, simply examples hung up there in Hades in the prison, spectacles and reproofs for the unjust arriving at any time.

Editor’s NotedAnd I say that Archelaus will be one of these, if what Polus says is true; so will anyone else who is that kind of tyrant. Indeed I think most of these examples have been made from tyrants, kings, dynasts, 5and those who conducted cities' affairs; for because they have the liberty, these are at fault with the greatest and most impious faults. And Homer too testifies to this; for he presents kings and tyrants as ethose who suffer vengeance in Hades for all time, Tantalus and Sisyphus and Tityus. But Thersites or any other base private man — no one has presented him caught in terrible vengeance as an incur-5able; for, I take it, he didn't have the liberty, and so was happier 526than those who had it. Indeed, Callicles, while those who become thoroughly base come from the powerful, still nothing prevents good men from appearing even among these. And indeed those who do appear deserve great admiration. For it is hard, Callicles, and deserves 5much praise, if someone finding himself with large liberty to do injustice lives out his life justly. Such men appear rarely; but they have appeared here and elsewhere, and I think they will — men fine and good in this virtue of justly managing whatever is entrusted to them. And one of them has become widely famous among the rest of the Greeks too, Aristeides the son of Lysimachus — but most dynasts, my excellent friend, turn out evil.

5As I was saying, then, whenever Rhadamanthys there takes hold of someone like that, he knows nothing else about him, neither who he is nor whose son he is, but only that he's some base character. And when he noticed this, he sent him off to Tartarus, marking on him whether he seemed to be curable or incurable; and when he arrives there, he undergoes what is fitting. But some-Editor’s Notectimes he noticed another soul that had lived piously and with truth, of a private man or of someone else; but most of all, so I say, Callicles, of some philosopher who did his own work and was no meddler during his life; then he admired this and sent him 5off to the Isles of the Blessed. And Aeacus there does the same. Each of them holds a staff and pronounces judgement, while Minos sits overseeing them, the only one with a gold staff, as Homer's pg 106Editor’s NotedOdysseus says he saw him — 'holding a gold staff, judging among the dead'.

For myself, then, Callicles, I am persuaded by these accounts, and 5I consider how to present my soul as healthy as possible before the judge. And so I dismiss the honours accorded by most men. I practise the truth. And I will try to be really the best that is in my power in Editor’s Noteelife and, whenever I die, in death. And I call all other men, as far as it is in my power — yes, I call you, Callicles, in reply to your call — to this life and this contest, which I say is worth more than all the 5contests here. And I reproach you because you won't be able to defend yourself when you face that court of justice and that judgement I was speaking of just now. No, you'll come before the judge, 527the son of Aegina, and when he gets hold of you and leads you off, you'll gape and reel — you there no less than I here — arid perhaps someone will dishonour you by pushing your face in, and abuse you all ways.

5Now perhaps you think these things I've said are a tale, like an old wife's, and you despise them. And certainly it wouldn't be at all surprising to despise them, if we could search and somehow manage to find something better and truer. But, as it is, you see that the three of you who are wisest among the Greeks now, you and Polus Editor’s Noteband Gorgias — you three can't manage to show that we should live any other life than this, which is shown to be profitable for there too. No; among so many arguments (logos), when the others are being refuted, only this argument is stable — that we must avoid 5doing justice more than suffering it, and above all a man must practise, not seeming good, but being good, in private and public life; if someone becomes evil in some way, he is to be punished, and this is Editor’s Notecthe second good after being just — to become just and pay justice in being punished. All flattery, to oursevles or to others, few or many, we must shun; this is how we should use rhetoric — always in the direction of justice — and every other activity.

5And so be convinced by me, and follow me to where you will be happy, both in life and in death, as the account signifies. And let anyone despise you for being senseless and abuse you if he likes; yes, Editor’s Notedby Zeus, you should confidently let him strike you with that dishonouring blow. For nothing serious will happen to you if you're pg 107really fine and good, and practise virtue. And then, when we have practised it together this way, then finally, if you think we ought to, we'll undertake political business, or we'll deliberate about whatever 5we think fit — we'll be better at deliberating than we are now. For it's shameful for people in the condition we seem to be in now to swagger as though we were something, when we never think the Editor’s Noteesame about the same questions, and when these are the greatest questions — that is how uneducated we are. And so let us take as our leader this account revealed to us now, which signifies to us that this way is the best way of life — to practise justice and the rest of virtue 5in life and in death. Then let us follow this account and call others to follow it, not that account you believe when you call me to follow it; for it is worth nothing, Callicles.

pg 108

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
Cross-references are given by page and section of the Greek text, printed in the margin of the translation (e.g. '502c'). These cross-references normally refer both to the text and the notes on the passage, except when (e.g.) occurrences of a Greek word are listed.
The Bibliography gives details of works cited in the Notes. These are cited mainly for the use of someone who wants to pursue in more detail the questions raised here. They also refer the reader to other points of view not fully discussed here, and indicate some of my debts in writing the Notes. No complete bibliography is attempted here.
Greek words mentioned and discussed in the Notes can be investigated further with the help of LSJ, and especially, for Plato, with Brandwood's very useful work.
The Dramatic Date. Does Plato present the conversation in the dialogue as occurring at any definite time? For full discussion see Dodds, 17f., A. E. Taylor, 104f. Surprisingly, the indications offered suggest a range of dates from about 429 B.C. to 405. (Plato is normally supposed to have begun writing dialogues only after the death of Socrates in 399.) Some of the conflicting historical allusions are not incidental, but important for the theme and arguments of the dialogue:
1. The death of Pericles (in 429) is said to be recent (503c; see note for Plato's reason).
2. Archelaus (who came to power in 413) is a suitable example of a 'successful' tyrant likely to be widely admired — especially when he was an ally of Athens and a patron of Athenian poets (470d).
3. Socrates makes a prediction about Alcibiades (519a, most appropriate before 415), a well-known popular leader and a notorious associate of Socrates. He is especially suitable to make Socrates' point, and to present the parallel with Callicles.
4. Socrates' behaviour at the trial of the generals after Arginusae (in 405; see 473e) is a good example of his concern with justice, also mentioned in the Ap.
5. Euripides' Antiope (probably produced in 408; see 485e) was a well-known treatment of the contrast between the active and contemplative lives. Plato reasonably wants to refer to it when he treats the same contrast.
6. It is easiest for Socrates to ask Gorgias basic questions about his profession and aims if this is their first meeting, and Gorgias' first visit to Athens (in 427, the only visit attested).
When it suits Plato's purpose to allude to particular historical events as 'recent', he alludes to them without regard for chronological consistency. The conflicting chronological indications are not the result of carelessness; it is unlikely that Plato would have removed them if he had thought about it, or if they had been pointed out to him. Nor are they likely to be deliberate — there is no reason to think Plato tries to confuse the reader. They are simply the result of indifference. Plato cares less about chronology than he cares about alluding pointedly to the significant events that he wants the reader to keep in mind.
The Characters of the Dialogue, See OCD, Dodds, 6–18. Gorgias is presented as a well-established teacher of rhetoric, Polus is a younger (461cd, 463e) rhetor, who has written on rhetorical theory himself (448c, 462b). Chaerephon, the disciple of Socrates (see Ap. 20e ff.) corresponds to Polus, the disciple of Gorgias; but Chaerephon's part is much smaller — partly because Socrates defends himself better than Gorgias defends himself and his profession, and does not need to be helped out as Gorgias is helped out by Polus.
Callicles is a disciple of neither main character. He is probably a historical person, though — unlike the other three — he is unattested outside this dialogue. He has a deme, Acharnae (495d — an Athenian normally called himself 'X, from deme Y'); a lover (481d) who is a historical person; and friends (487c) who are historical people. He is a wealthy, upper-class Athenian. He is interested enough in rhetoric to be Gorgias' host during his stay in Athens, but interested in rhetoric primarily for the sake of his own career in public life.
Editor’s Note
447a 'many fine displays'. As a visiting orator, Gorgias has been making speeches as a public demonstration or display (epideixis). Cf. HMa. 282bc, Pr. 310b–311a, 314c–315e. See 452b.
Editor’s Note
447b 'think fit (dokein) … wish (boulesthai)'. Though these terms are casually introduced here with no obvious difference in sense, they become important at 466de. The next verb, 'desire' (epithumein), is important at 491d and later.
Editor’s Note
447c 'have a dialogue'. When Chaerephon says that Socrates wants to hear Gorgias, Callicles assumes that he wants another rhetorical display — a set speech — and offers to arrange it. But Socrates really wants a 'dialogue' or 'discussion' (dialegesthai). Socratic discussion (dialektikē, also from dialegesthai) is conducted in a dialogue (dialogos) by steady and repeated question and answer. Socrates often declares his preference for this kind of discussion over the long speeches of Protagoras and others; Pr. 329b, 334c–336d, 347b, HMi. 364b, Ion 530d, Eu. 6c, Eud. 275a. 'Dialogue' and its cognates translate dialegesthai and its cognates throughout the G. This term is a little too specialized to be quite an accurate rendering, since dialegesthai can have a quite general range, like 'conversation' or 'discussion' (this is used to translate logos). But in fact it has a fairly specialized use in the G. — it refers to the kind of discussion which follows Socrates' rather definite rules — insisted on e.g. at 462c ff., 495ab — not just to any conversation.
'Dialectic' is the philosophical method Socrates considers correct — systematic cross-examination. The method is considered further in dialogues probably close in date to the G.; cf. Eud. 290c, Cra. 390c, M. 75cd. The most elaborate account of dialectical method is R. 510bc, 533c–534b. In the R. the practice of the method is taken to involve separated Forms, but the procedure itself is not clearly different from the Socratic. See Robinson (2), ch. 6 on dialectic.
'what the power of the man's craft is'. 'Power' (dunamis; adjective dunatos, 'powerful' or 'capable') is an important term in the G. Here the question just means 'What is his craft capable of?', which amounts to asking for a definition of the craft; cf. Isocrates, 15.178, 186. 'Craft' (technē) is the normal term for any systematic productive skill, such as carpentry or shoemaking (see Socrates' examples at 447d); but it is also applied to less obviously productive abilities, such as arithmetic or geometry (Ch. 165e–166b), so that it is virtually interchangeable, in Plato's early dialogues at least, with epistēmē (knowledge, science). See Lyons, 159–63, Gould, 3–18. Socrates treats a craft as something more than a tendency to perform efficiently. He associates craft-knowledge with systematic teaching and instruction, reliably successful performance (see 514a–c), and the ability to explain the actions of the craft and their over-all point; see 449a, 465a, 500e–501a, 503de, La. 186ab. These conditions are gradually explained during the dialogue.
Socrates' first question assumes that rhetoric has some power or capacity, and that it is a craft. Both of these assumptions are soon challenged, 462b, 466b.
'what it is that he advertises and teaches'. 'Advertise' or 'profess' (epangellein) is a standard term for a sophist or other educator who offers public instruction for a fee; cf. R. 518b, Eud. 273e, PR. 319a (where Protagoras says what kind of teaching he advertises), M. 95bc.
'one part of his display'. Gorgias regularly asked his audience to propose a topic or ask a question for him to speak on; see DK 82 A 1a, M. 70c, HMi. 363d, Pr. 315c. Callicles thinks of a single question put to the orator from the audience, which he can then answer at length. He does not think of the repeated cross-questioning of the Socratic method which is about to be applied to Gorgias.
Editor’s Note
448b 'have knowledge'. Epistēmōn is used here naturally in the context of technē; see 447c. Chaerephon assumes that Gorgias has some kind of systematic knowledge, epistēmē, which qualifies him as a craftsman; the conditions of this knowledge are set out at 454d, 465a.
Editor’s Note
448c 'experience makes our age follow craft'. Chaerephon has associated experience and craft in speaking of someone's being experienced (empeiros) in a craft, 448b. Polus suggests that experience (empeiria) is what creates a craft; and this was apparently the view of the historical Polus in some writing on rhetoric, 462b. The relation between experience and craft is examined more closely at 462c, 501a. Polus' speech is composed in a mannered rhetorical style, perhaps meant to be typical of a disciple of Gorgias.
Editor’s Note
448e 'not what Gorgias' craft is like, but what craft it is'. Socrates contrasts the question 'What is x like?' (poion esti) and the question 'What is x?' (ti estin). Poion can sometimes mean 'What sort of thing?', i.e. 'What kind of thing?', so that it is virtually equivalent to 'What is x?'. But here Socrates contrasts saying what something is like, mentioning some feature of it, with defining it, saying what it is. Contrast the use of 'what it is like' (hoion, relative form of the interrogative poion) in 450c, where Socrates means 'What kind?'. For these two uses of poion see 479b, Ch. 159a, M. 71b, Aristotle, Catg. 3b13–21, Top. 122b5–17, Met. v4.
What is Socrates' objection to merely saying 'what something is like'? If we say that rhetoric is 'the finest of the crafts', that is a definite description; if true, it picks out just one craft, and is not too narrow or too wide, like other candidate definitions rejected by Socrates. But presumably it is because of something else about it that rhetoric is the finest craft, and that something else is what Socrates wants to be told — the 'fundamental' or 'explanatory' property, to put it vaguely and problematically. For similar objections by Socrates cf. Eu. 11ab, M. 75b. (See Robinson (2), 54, Allen (2), 76–8.) The right definition must do more than cover all the right cases; it must also explain why the thing has the other properties it has besides the defining property. Socrates' later definition of rhetoric is meant to meet this demand, 463c, 464b–d.
In general Socrates insists that we must say what x is before we can know anything about x; cf. 463c, M. 71b, Pr. 361c. He has often been criticized for this demand; see Robinson (2) ch. 5, Geach, Santas (1), Beversluis. But the demand makes sense if it is a precondition for knowledge rather than just for belief about x (cf. 459d). If knowledge of what x is were a precondition for any true belief about x, and we need true beliefs about x if we are to acquire knowledge of what x is, then we could not acquire knowledge of what x is. (This is the point of Meno's Paradox in M. 80de.) But Socrates does not claim this. His demand allows true beliefs about x without knowledge of what x is, the knowledge that will be expressed in a definition of x. The definition is required only to convert beliefs into knowledge. Socrates' statement of his demand suffers from the lack of an explicit distinction between knowledge and belief; but the distinction is soon drawn — see 454d, 465a, 479b, Irwin, 40f.
Editor’s Note
449a 'as someone with knowledge of what craft' (or 'as being knowledgeable, epistēmōn, about what craft'). Socrates assumes that Gorgias has expert knowledge, epistēmē of a craft. Gorgias' reply is literally 'The rhetorical' (hē rhētorikē), with 'craft' understood. Throughout rhetoric is referred to this way, even when Socrates denies that it is really a craft.
The dialogue does not distinguish the craft of the orator who knows how to produce certain effects on his audience from the craft of the rhetorician who knows how to teach others to produce these effects on audiences. But the double use of 'rhētōr' for both orator and rhetorical teacher might not seem strange to Plato's readers. Originally it probably means just 'speaker' (see Jebb, i. lxx) referring to public orators (see 455de; cf. Aristoph. Ach. 38, Eq. 60, 358, Thuc. 8.1). The same term is naturally applied to the rhetorician because early rhetorical instruction was teaching by example, prescribing model speeches to be memorized and reproduced, rather than systematic formal instruction in the elements of speech-making. See Guthrie (1), iii.176–81, Kennedy, ch. 3. Aristotle criticizes Gorgias for the unsystematic and untheoretical attitude reflected in this method, SE 183b36–184a8.
Editor’s Note
449b 'capable of making other people rhetors too'. Socrates is thinking of Gorgias as a rhetor in the sense of rhetorician, a teacher of rhetoric; anyone who has a real craft is supposed to be able to teach it to others, and Gorgias claims to be able to teach his craft.
Editor’s Note
449d Socrates begins his systematic search for an account of what rhetoric is, by asking what it is about; a craft, like any other power (dunamis; see 447c) is identified by 'what it is set over and what it does' (or produces, apergazetai, R. 477cd). It is easiest for an artefact-producing craft (e.g. shoemaking), to satisfy this condition, when some definite artefact, e.g. a shoe, results from the production. But Socrates applies the same condition also to crafts producing no artefacts, such as mathematics (Ch. 165d–166b) and some of the crafts mentioned here.
'which of the things that are', i.e. are something or are real. Greek has no word apart from the verb 'to be' for existence.
Editor’s Note
449de 'About speech'. Gorgias says that rhetoric is about logoi. Logos refers generally to what is spoken or thought, words, sentences, discourses, and in particular to the expression of rational thought, hence to reason, argument, account, or definition. See Guthrie (1), i.420–4. These different uses appear regularly in the G. (1) Often logos refers just to speech or talk in general. (2) Sometimes a logos is a systematic, organized body of speech — either a continuous speech delivered by an orator, or a 'discussion' (this word always translates logos in the translation) — and so it is a common term for the dialectical conversation carried on in the dialogue. (3) It is a rational account contrasted with a mere story or 'myth'; see 505c, 523a. (4) It refers to giving reasons, explanations, and rational accounts, as opposed to mere habitual or unreflective or rationally unjustifiable action; 465a, 500e–501a. These are not necessarily distinct senses of logos, obvious to a native speaker; perhaps they are partially overlapping uses (cf. e.g. 519d). Socrates expects the logos in the G. to satisfy all four of these conditions, eventually giving us a rational account and justification of the beliefs he accepts.
Here Gorgias has in mind the general sense, that rhetoric is about speaking; but Socrates plays on the suggestion that logos must be rational discourse, and later rejects the claim of rhetoric to be about logoi in this sense, saying that it is 'irrational', alogon, 465a. Gorgias suggests that rhetoric has speech as its subject-matter, as though it could be distinguished by a definite subject-matter and object as ordinary crafts are. Socrates uses the same technique of looking for the subject-matter to show the peculiarity of temperance and justice as crafts, Ch. 173d–175a, R. 332e–333e.
'powerful at speaking'. If rhetoric is a craft, it makes someone 'powerful' or 'capable' (dunatos) at something, by giving him some 'power' or 'capacity' (dunamis; see 447c). Socrates still concedes that rhetoric confers some power, though he suggests that it is hard to identify. Later he withdraws the concession, 466b.
Editor’s Note
449e 'understanding' (phronein). Gorgias readily agrees that if a rhetor is saying something, he understands (phronei) and knows the meaning of the words he uses. But Socrates apparently takes 'understanding' to imply more; the doctor 'understands' medical prescriptions in the sense that he can explain and justify them, while the layman does not understand them, even if he knows the meaning of all the words they contain (cf. the treatment of 'know', 459d).
Editor’s Note
450b Socrates performs a brief 'induction', moving from examples of crafts concerned with logoi to the general claim that all crafts can be called rhetoric, if Gorgias defined rhetoric correctly, since they are all concerned with logoi. On Socratic induction see Ar. Met. 1078b27–30, Robinson (2), ch. 4.
Logos here probably includes both speech and rational thought: see 449a — it is reasoning which is the logos in mathematics and draughts.
Editor’s Note
450e Socrates avoids quibbling about words, which would be contrary to the spirit of dialectic; cf. 457c–458b, 489b.
Editor’s Note
451d Gorgias' claim that rhetoric is concerned with the greatest and best things in human affairs introduces an issue to be examined in the dialogue. He thinks that political skill and power are the most important things. Socrates challenges that claim later. Here he remarks that Gorgias' claim might be disputed; since people disagree about what is greatest and best, they will disagree about the reference of Gorgias' definition. 'Greatest' (i.e. finest or most excellent) and 'best' are like those other terms, 'good' (agathon), 'fine' (kalon), and 'just' (dikaion) which arouse disputes not settled by any agreed technique, Eu. 7b–d, HMa. 294cd, Alc. 111b–112d, Phdr. 263ab. What would satisfy Socrates' demand for a 'clear', saphes, answer? Presumably he will expect the answer to be in 'agreed' and 'undisputed' terms — those which do not provoke the kinds of disputes provoked by 'good' and the rest; cf. perhaps R. 336cd, Cleit. 409b–d. This is rather a strong and controversial condition. See 475a, 489a, 507a–c, Irwin, 72.
Editor’s Note
451e This 'drinking-song' (skolion) runs; 'Health is best for a mortal man; second to be born fair (kalon) in nature; third to be rich without deceit; and fourth to be young with his friends.' Cf. Eud. 279ab, M. 87e, HMa. 291d, Laws 661a–d. 'Born fair' probably refers to physical beauty. But it suits Socrates not to be too specific here; and the question 'What is really kalon?' will be prominent later in the dialogue, which itself illustrates his claim that 'greatest', 'best', 'fair' arouse serious disputes. Socrates says 'So the composer of the song says', because he does not agree with the composer that justice (alluded to in 'without guile') is only third among goods — see 523c. In a way Socrates agrees that health is the best of goods, when the right kind of health is properly understood; see 479b–d, 504b–d, 518e.
Editor’s Note
452a 'craftsman' (dēmiourgos); or 'producer'. 'Work', ergon, is used both for the process or function and for the product; see 503e, 516e, 517a.
Editor’s Note
452b 'display', epideixai; cf. 447a.
Editor’s Note
452d 'Freedom', eleutheria, includes probably not only the legal status of a free citizen as opposed to a slave, or keeping out of prison by rhetorical pleading in courts, but also 'living like a free man', not dependent on the power or goodwill of others; cf. 485bc. This kind of independence may need to be secured against possible threats of interference by others, and so may require the power and strength to maintain independence. This is why freedom and the absence of slavery are often naturally associated with 'rule over others'; for an individual this means prominence in the political life of his own state; and for a state it means a dominant role in inter-state relations. See 466bc, 491e–492c, Pr. 354b, Thuc. 2.62.3, 63.1, 3.45.6, Adkins (5), 68, 139. Gorgias defines virtue (aretē; see 457c) for a man as a power to rule over men (M. 71e, 73c, 77b, 91a; cf. Pr. 318e–319a, Adkins (1), 3. The view that the best good is power over others and the best man the man with this power has deep-seated Greek sources; the Homeric hero and the post-Homeric aristocrat are expected to have the qualities needed to be powerful rulers, and these qualities are a central part of their virtue or excellence (aretē), what makes them 'good men'; cf. Adkins (5), 111f.
Despite his later acceptance of justice, Gorgias suggests here that rhetoric is good for the rhetor because of the power it gives him. This reference to power is consistent with his general account of virtue as power (dunamis; see 457c). He praises what he takes to be a major virtue (i.e. an excellence to be welcomed by the agent himself), the power resulting from success in rhetoric. But if the pursuit of this virtue and its benefits conflicts with justice and other commonly recognized virtues, which should be chosen? This question is raised again by Polus' praise of the rhetor's power, 466bc; and Callicles argues later that someone faced with this choice has no reason to be just, 492b. Though Gorgias has not drawn these conclusions, he has not shown how he can avoid them.
Editor’s Note
452e Gorgias claims that rhetoric is the power to persuade all the public (or 'political', politikon, to do with the state or city, polis) bodies in which a large mass of the citizens make the decisions. Many important decisions were made by these bodies in Athens, and Gorgias' boast is not unrealistic, when rhetoric includes the functions of the lobbyist, the mass media, and the advertiser. Cleon complains that the Athenians' appreciation of rhetorical skill diverts them from the merits of the case, Thuc. 3.38.7. The large role of these mass meetings is stressed by Jones, ch. 5 (see also OCD, s.v. Ekklēsia, Dikastērion), whose verdict on them is fairer than Plato's. See also 473e, Gomme (2).
Gorgias answers Socrates' case for the specialized crafts by arguing that the rhetor will control them all for his own purposes. Socrates himself has claimed that there is a superordinate craft which directs other crafts and uses their products for its own purposes; cf. Ch. 173a–174c, Eud. 288d–291b. Gorgias implies that rhetoric is the superordinate craft. (Contrast Eud. 289cd. Perhaps Plato was not content with the brief objection to rhetoric presented there, and decided to examine the question more carefully in the G.) See 455d–457c.
Gorgias could avoid some of these difficulties by saying more exactly how rhetoric is a craftsman of persuasion. He might distinguish the formal and material elements of a convincing speech. There are some elements (e.g. coherent syntax, varied language, intriguing tricks of style) which might appeal to an audience whatever they think about the speaker's views on a subject; other elements reflect the speaker's views. An audience will normally be convinced by some combination of the formal and the material elements; though the form may no doubt make the matter more appealing, it would be absurd to suggest, and Gorgias does not, that a rhetor can expect to persuade by form alone, however crazy the matter might be. Now Gorgias might say that the rhetor is concerned only with the formal elements of a persuasive speech, that he teaches a body of techniques to be applied to different subjects, not the necessary acquaintance with a specified subject. We might compare rhetoric and formal logic (though Gorgias and Socrates could not compare them — Socrates shows some concern with this kind of question at Ch. 170a–171c); knowledge of logic tells us how to make valid inferences, not how to reach the right conclusions on a particular subject.
Though this reply might have protected Gorgias against some Socratic attacks, it would rob him of central elements of his own conception of rhetoric. He does not think it is merely a specialized craft useful to someone who is also informed about the subject to be discussed. He also thinks a man fully trained in rhetoric will be a good 'speaker', rhētōr, i.e. generally convincing on topics of public interest. Rhetoric is a general education for public life, in Gorgias' view as much as in Isocrates' (cf. esp. Morrison, 216–18). Gorgias fails to distinguish the formal and material elements of persuasion, not because he could not draw the distinction (as Dodds suggests), but because it does not suit his purpose. His conception of rhetoric in public life is helped by some unclarity about moral and political knowledge. On the one hand people tend to suppose that political wisdom is not a specialized craft, that everyone has the relevant knowledge; on the other hand the sophist and the rhetor seem to have some advantage (see 460a). Gorgias takes advantage of this unclarity, which is legitimately exposed by Socrates.
Editor’s Note
453a 'the craftsman of persuasion'. At Phdr. 261a–c, Phil. 58ab, Gorgias is said to claim that rhetoric is the best of the crafts because it enslaves everything by willing consent, not by force. Cf. Gorgias' Helen, DK 82 B 11. § 14; the description here in the dialogue may be derived from him.
Editor’s Note
454b–e After a further apology, creating some irregular syntax, Socrates distinguishes two kinds of 'conviction', pistis — the kind resulting from learning, mathēsis, and systematic teaching, and the kind resulting from persuasion alone. The explicit distinction between knowledge, epistēmē, and mere conviction is the truth-relativity of knowledge. But in associating knowledge with teaching and learning Socrates also implies that it must be acquired in a way that produces justified, rational belief. Later he requires an account, logos, and explanation, aitia, in any craft, technē, or science, epistēmē; 465a, 500e–501a. Cf. the explicit demand for 'reasoning about the explanation', aitias logismos, M. 97a–98b.
Isocrates replies to Plato, and perhaps reflects the view of other rhetors, by praising 'belief' (or 'opinion', doxa, contrasted with knowledge in M. 97–8) about useful things over knowledge, epistēmē, about useless things; 10.1–5, 12.9, 15.184–5, Ep. 5.3–4. Plato here insists that it matters to examine the grounds of beliefs to see whether they count as knowledge.
Editor’s Note
454e 'two forms (or 'kinds', eidos; a term also used to refer to Platonic Forms). On Socrates' interest in systematic classification cf. 464bc.
Editor’s Note
454e–455a Socrates argues that the rhetor produces conviction resulting from persuasion, not the reasoned conviction and knowledge that a teacher would produce, and hence is not a teacher. Is this necessarily discreditable to the rhetor? It turns out later in the dialogue that Socrates has only conviction, not knowledge, about his central ethical claims, 508e, 524a; he has to show what is better about his convictions than those of the rhetor and his audience.
Editor’s Note
455a–c Socrates often contrasts the Athenians' care to find expert advice in the area of some recognized craft with their readiness to listen to anyone on matters of greater importance; cf. 514a–515b, La. 184d–185e, Pr. 319a–320c. The Athenians are unreasonable only if there are experts, or at least better and worse qualified people, on these general questions. Socrates assumes that there might be political experts, who have knowledge about what is just and unjust, and that rhetors are not those experts. He suggests the role for himself, with important reservations, at 521d; cf. also 505ab.
'it's a good thing to find out from you yourself about your craft'. Socrates assumes that a real craftsman has some articulate knowledge about the nature and competence of his craft; a builder can pronounce on the merits of bricks and wood for building a house; cf. La. 190bc.
Editor’s Note
455cd For similar questions, about the benefits of a sophistic education cf. Pr. 310d–314c, 316b–319a, M. 91ab.
Editor’s Note
455d–457c Gorgias argues as follows:
1. Even in the situation Socrates mentioned, the rhetor is more powerful than Socrates admitted.
2. Rhetoric controls all the other crafts.
3. It is not to be blamed, any more than other crafts are, for its improper use by experts.
This is a defence of the 'power' — notice how often 'dunamis' and its cognates occur in this speech — and value of rhetoric.
The 'walls' are the defensively vital 'Long Walls' connecting Athens and its harbour at Peiraeus; see Ehrenberg (1), 216–18. The dockyards at Peiraeus were important in Athenian defence and sea power. These examples of shrewd and far-sighted strategic projects undertaken on the advice of popular leaders by a democratic assembly are critically examined by Socrates later, 517e, 519a.
Gorgias thinks that these examples favour his case because Themistocles and Pericles were rhetors (in the general sense of 'speakers'; cf. 449a), not engineers. Someone might answer that they were generals, and therefore competent to advise on the strategic aspects of wall-building, applying a craft superordinate to the builder's. But they had no training in any specialized craft of generalship. Military and political authority often belonged to the same people in fifth-century Athens — less often in the fourth century, when the 'speaker' was even more important. Cleon and the other so-called 'demagogues' in the Peloponnesian War were the first known examples of speakers who were not also respected generals (see Finley).
Editor’s Note
456a 'captures (sullabousa) … keeps them under its control' (huph' hautē(i) echei), or 'includes … subsumes under it'. Plato presents the superordinate status of rhetoric (cf. 452e) in perhaps suitably military terms, with rhetoric as a conqueror, continuing Gorgias' claim that the other crafts are its slaves (452e). The praise of rhetoric as the supreme craft because of its power is an important theme developed by Polus at 466bc.
On patients' fears of treatment cf. 479ab. Socrates thinks these fears should not be removed by rhetoric, but by knowledge of what is best for someone.
Editor’s Note
456b Gorgias' boast about the success of the rhetor in competitions with experts is critically examined by Socrates several times; see 459c, 464cd, 521e–522c.
Editor’s Note
456c 'should be used'. Plato uses two terms that might be translated by 'should' or 'ought' — dein (normally translated 'should') and chrēnai (normally 'ought'). Dein is used as follows:
(a) for necessity or compulsion; 456b8, 459e1 (with 'must', anankē), 510a8 (cf. anankē, 460c4; 'isn't it necessary');
(b) for what is needed; 470c9, 487a2, 491d8, 500a6;
(c) for what is required for the sake of some expressed goal or purpose; 491e8, 508c2, 509e1, 513a1, b4;
(d) for what is prescribed or required, with no expressed goal; 456c7, d1, 4, 8, 457b2, 6, 474a5, 480a2, e5, 481c4, 484d4, 485e7, 488c2, 490a2, c2, d5, e2, 7, 492d6, 499e9, 500a2, b6, 505b3, 507b6, d7, 515b7, c2, 5, 523e2, 527b1.
Some cases of (d) can easily be associated with (c) by supplying 'to achieve the purpose or goal being considered', e.g. 499e9, 500a2, a6 (cf. 505a2, 'for it's no profit'). No obvious purpose is evident at 456c7 ff., 488c2, 490a2 ff.; in these cases something is required by justice (cf. 457c2, 'it is just', 491a5, 'justly takes more').
Chrēnai is not so closely associated with (a) or (b); but cf. 482a2, 522a9. For (c) see 484d1. For (d) see 447a1, 449a2 ff., 458b3, 5, c1, 469a4, 484a1, 486c7, 487e9, 500c3, 505e4 ff., 522b1, 527d3. In this dialogue it is hard to find any systematic difference of sense between chrēnai and dein (for attempts to draw distinctions see Benardette). Both are used with the jussive subjunctive (449b1, 515c2), and with the gerundive verbal adjective (499e6, 500a2, c4, d4; see 499e–500a, note). And sometimes they are used on different occasions to make apparently the same point; cf. 484a1 with 488c2 (both associated with justice); 487e9 with 492d6; 500c3 with 481c4; 469a4 with 480e5.
These facts support, with qualifications, Prichard's claim, (1), 205, that 'Plato's words for right and wrong are not to be found in such words as chrē and dei … but in dikaion (just; see 459d, note) and adikon (unjust) themselves.' Neither chrēnai nor dein uniquely designates a moral obligation, and in some contexts the important Platonic question 'How ought we to live?' (492d, 500c) means 'How ought we to live to be happy?' (cf. 472c, R. 352d). At the same time chrēnai and dein are not always to be explained by reference to some person's happiness, when they are associated with the requirements of justice; here we might say, with proper caution (see n. on 459d) that moral obligations are involved. This is not to say that any special sense of the terms is found in these cases. (It is not so easy to show that there is a specifically moral sense of 'ought' either; see Wertheimer.) The terms 'right' or 'correct' (orthos; negative ouk orthos, often translated as 'wrong' in e.g. 457a2, 460d5, 476d8, 478a7, 485a3, 487a1, 488a2, 491e8, and 'it is fitting' (prosēkein) in 471a4, 479a3, 485b3, 491d1, 507a8, b2, 6, 517e6, 525a7, b1, 526c1, display the same range of uses; sometimes they are associated with justice, but sometimes with what happens (e.g. 487a2, 488a2), and sometimes they are used in more general ways.
Editor’s Note
456c–457c Gorgias anticipates an objection; the possibility of misuse is present in every craft, and so is no special objection to rhetoric; cf. Isoc. 15.251–3, Guthrie (1) iv.308–11. If every craft is liable to misuse, this should be a general objection to any attempt to identify virtue with a craft. Socrates raises this question at 460a–c.
Is dialectical skill a good thing liable to abuse as well (cf. R. 537e–539c)? If rhetoric is no more liable to abuse than dialectic is, it may be no worse than dialectic if it is practised by a virtuous man. Socrates replies by making Gorgias claim that the rhetor will be a good man; he might also argue that rhetoric is not worth having anyway — and he argues this later.
Editor’s Note
457c Gorgias' assertion of the neutrality of rhetoric between good and bad use may be connected with his reported disavowal of any claim to teach virtue; at M. 95c he is said to profess only to make people clever at speaking. At the same time this cleverness will produce power, which Gorgias regards as virtue, M. 71e, 73c. There is no inconsistency here, if the wide range of virtue is noticed; and this point becomes steadily more important in the dialogue. The term aretē, normally translated by 'virtue' or 'excellence', refers quite generally to whatever properties make a thing good, agathon, at something or for some purpose; horses, dogs, and hammers all have their characteristic virtues, R. 352d–353c. It is easy to see what is meant by 'the virtue of a policeman' or 'the virtue of a father' on this pattern. But what will be 'the virtue of a man' or 'a good man'? That depends on the relevant roles, expectations, and purposes considered in assessing virtues. If we think of someone's own purposes and interests, certain properties will count as virtues from that point of view; if we think of other people's expectations and of his role as a citizen, we may apparently reach a different conception of a virtuous man. When someone claims that a certain property is a virtue, it is important to know what expectations, roles, and purposes he has in mind; this question arises at 479b, 492c, 504e, 506d. Socrates' contemporaries refer to a wide range of conditions as human virtues; sometimes they think of strength, courage, wealth, and the other qualities of the traditional aristocrat; sometimes of the qualities of the good citizen who is just and law-abiding. The combination of these qualities can be seen in M. 71e, 73a–c, 91a, Pr. 318e–319a. Gorgias denies that he teaches virtue because, unlike Protagoras, he does not claim to teach the recognized virtues which will make someone an all-round good citizen. But still he can claim to teach a virtue, since he claims that the power gained by being a rhetor is a good for the rhetor himself. On the scope of virtue see Adkins (3), 156–63, 172–9, (5), 60–75, 111–19, Creed, Adkins (4), Dover, 66–9. For other views on Gorgias see Guthrie (1), iii.271f., E. L. Harrison, 180f.
Editor’s Note
457c–458b Socrates describes the good conduct of dialectical argument. Perhaps the elenchos had been criticized by those who could not distinguish it from contentious (eristikon, 'eristic') talking for victory; cf. 450e, 453bc, 489bc, Phd. 91a, Lys. 211b, M. 75cd, R. 454a. Dialectic is meant to differ from eristic in two ways: (1) It aims at the discovery of truth, not merely at victory for one side. (2) It aims at constructive results, not merely at the destruction of false theories. See Robinson (2), 64–8, Ryle (3), ch. 4, esp. 126–9, Sidgwick (2), 335–50, E. S. Thompson, 272–85, Gulley (2), 22–37. People's failure to distinguish dialectic from eristic is pardonable, if we consider e.g. Socrates' heavily ironical treatment of Hippias (in the two Hippias dialogues), and even of Protagoras, Pr. 334c–336e; cf. below 461bc, 482c–e, 515b, R. 340d–341a, 487bc. But perhaps he will defend his manner as a necessary device for goading the interlocutor and inducing the 'numbness' which he thinks is a precondition of positive progress, M. 80ab, Tht. 150d–l51d, Sph. 229e–231a. The destructive side of dialectic is often prominent in the dialogues, especially the earlier ones — see 461bc, 462cd; but the examination is meant to result in some defensible positive convictions, 508e–509a.
Isocrates cites Plato and his school among the eristics, 12.26, 13.1–4, 15.258–61; see W. H. Thompson (2), 172f., Sidgwick (2), 329–31, E. S. Thompson, 284, Jebb, ii. 131. Plato is probably sensitive to this criticism. The Eud. seeks to distinguish the real eristics from Socrates' constructive dialectic; the ethical arguments at Eud. 278e ff., 288d ff., presented as specimens of what Socrates can do, 278d, raise questions discussed at more length in the G. Eud. 304c ff. defends Socratic philosophy against the criticisms of a speech-writer who identifies it with eristic (305c; W. H. Thompson (2), 179–83, and Gifford, 17–20, see an allusion to Isocrates here; cf. Guthrie (1), iv. 282f.). Though the G. does not directly address this criticism, it implicitly answers it, by stressing the constructive purpose of Socratic dialectic and questioning the authority of rhetoric.
Editor’s Note
457e 'things which don't quite follow from or harmonize with the things you said first about rhetoric'. Socrates seems to be alleging a fallacy or inconsistency in Gorgias' previous remarks: see 460e–461a.
Editor’s Note
457e–458a 'examination … refute'. Both translate elenchein; see 473b.
Editor’s Note
458d Callicles says how 'pleased' (hēdesthai) and 'gratified' (charizesthai) he is by the discussion. These are later identified as the characteristic effects of rhetoric (462cd). Callicles thinks of dialectical argument as a source of pleasure, like a rhetorical display; Socrates, by contrast, has claimed that it is a source of the greatest possible benefit to a man (458d), and takes his pleasure in that — 'beneficial' pleasure (cf. 499de) — introducing the vital contrast with rhetoric. Later Callicles finds that dialectical argument is less pleasant when he is being examined, and it is Gorgias who has to persuade him to go on (497b, 506ab). For him pleasure and benefit do not go together, since his pleasures and inclinations are misguided (cf. 475d, 479bc, 505a–c, 513c).
Editor’s Note
459c Gorgias has argued that the rhetor will be more persuasive than the expert among the non-expert and ignorant. Socrates now suggests that the rhetor makes himself appear to know more than the expert, which Gorgias has not so far conceded. Socrates must assume that the rhetor can persuade his audience only by appearing to know more than the expert. But this assumption is dubious. Why could a rhetor not appear to know the relevant facts, even though in general the expert knows more about the subject? Or why could the rhetor not be more persuasive because he appeals vividly and powerfully to people's feelings? Socrates ignores this possible reply, as though the only successful persuasive device could be the appearance of knowledge; see 465a. He makes the rhetor appear a suspicious character with a false pretence to knowledge; but why is any such false pretence needed? On the other hand, the confinement of rhetorical success to the inexpert is a good ground for suspicion. If the rhetor could claim to have the objectively better case, why should it not persuade the experts in the subject as well? And if the rhetor admits that he appeals mainly to people's feelings, not offering good reasons and arguments, would that not give us reason to, and perhaps cause us to, take his advice less seriously?
Gorgias might defend himself here by pointing to an ambiguity in the claim that the rhetor is more persuasive than the doctor 'about the healthy'. He may not be more persuasive about what medicine should be taken for heartburn; but he may still be more persuasive about the wisdom of taking the medicine (this is Gorgias' claim at 456b), because he understands the value of restoring health, and can present it persuasively to the patient. He will be more persuasive in a public gathering because he can present the implications for the public good of a particular expert's work. This claim is considered in Socrates' next question.
Editor’s Note
459d Socrates uses three terms, 'good', agathon, 'fine' (or 'admirable' or 'beautiful', kalon), and 'just', dikaion, to isolate the subjects that concern him. Either 'good' or 'fine' by itself might be too broad, suggesting that the question is about good walls or beautiful pictures. The inclusion of 'just' perhaps is meant to show that the question is about human actions and characters in their moral, social, and political context. Gorgias has previously suggested at 454b — cf. 455a — that justice is the whole field of the rhetor's competence. But 'just' alone might sometimes seem too narrow. While 'just' sometimes extends over the whole area of other-directed virtue (Ar. EN v.1), there may be other virtuous aspects of an action which are not other-directed. Two actions or policies might be equally just in violating no law and seriously harming no one, while one might be 'better', more beneficial to an individual or group, and 'finer' (more admirable, kalon), in displaying courage, magnanimity, and other qualities which seem to go beyond justice (cf. Dover, 190–5). Often the good, the just, and the fine actions will be the same; but the different terms say different things about them; and the later argument with Polus shows that some people disagree about the general coincidence of these properties. But when we talk about 'moral' questions, the nearest Greek equivalent is probably the conjunction of these three terms. On their relation cf. Thuc. 5.105.4, 1.37.5, Adkins (3), ch. 9, Creed, Adkins (4).
Such phrases as 'the good' (to agathon, neuter singular definite article and adjective) may refer to:
(1) the class of good things: or
(2) the property goodness — the adjectival phrase and the abstract noun are used interchangeably at e.g. Eu. 5cd, 14c.
And so here 'he doesn't know the things themselves, what is good or bad' might mean;
(1) he does not know the class of good and bad things; or
(2) he does not know the properties goodness and badness.
'Know' is also unclear (cf. 449e on 'understand'). Gorgias might take it to mean:
(3) he cannot recognize examples of good.
But Socrates' normal doctrine about knowledge suggests:
(4) he does not know what good is, i.e. he cannot give a Socratic definition of it — cf. 448e.
On Socrates' view knowledge requires a Socratic definition to provide the justification expected of someone who knows — cf. 454b–e; someone who really knows about the class of good things knows because he can provide a Socratic definition (cf. 448e) of the property goodness. Socrates implies that if the rhetor cannot justify his own judgements about good etc. by an account of these moral properties, his authority should not be trusted.
Editor’s Note
459e 'appear good when he isn't'. Socrates speaks as though 'being good' were logically parallel to 'being a doctor' and other craft-terms. This is true only if someone is good if and only if he knows what is good; see 460b.
Editor’s Note
460a Why should Gorgias obligingly give the answer that causes him trouble? Would he not have been better off insisting that the rhetor needs no special competence in justice and injustice? Polus suggests, 461c, that Gorgias was ashamed to say that he did not know what is just and could not teach others; but would less shame have avoided some difficulties? Gorgias' intended concession, however, may be reasonable.
(a) It is not clear what is meant by 'knowing just and unjust things'. Gorgias may have taken Socrates to refer only to ability to recognize them, as in (3) above, whereas Socrates referred to (4), explicit understanding.
(b) Gorgias does not promise to 'teach virtue' in the sense of making people virtuous. (His claim is consistent, pace Dodds, with M. 95c.) He only promises to tell his pupils the sorts of things that are just and unjust. Learning this and acting justly or being just are, for Gorgias and for most people, two very different things; it is Socrates who holds the beliefs which imply their identity, 460b.
(c) We have noticed that Gorgias does not present rhetoric as merely skill in using formal elements of discourse apart from their content. He also suggested that the rhetor is well trained to give advice on questions of public concern, 452e, 459c. For this he must have some views on just and unjust actions and policies. Gorgias may only be promising to tell his pupils the common beliefs about these questions. He does not distinguish this information from what Socrates has been asking about, expert knowledge of morals and politics. But Socrates' question is not very explicit — cf. 459d — and the distinction might well seem unimportant, if Gorgias thinks there are no experts in morals and politics — here he will, in Socrates' view, agree with most Athenians, Pr. 319cd.
But still we might expect more from the rhetor than the common grasp of moral and political issues; for Gorgias has suggested that he is an authority on these matters. He has not conceded that he is an authority only because he sounds convincing, because he can use techniques of persuasion and manipulate common beliefs; but this must be conceded if the rhetor turns out to have no better grasp than anyone else of morals and politics.
Gorgias' claim here is not fatal to his case, as Polus and many critics assume. He supposes his pupils will be informed about virtue, since the information is generally available, and promises only that he will inform them if they happen to be uninformed when they come to him. Only Gorgias' following answers cause him serious trouble (but see 452e).
Some rhetors want to defend their moral respectability by claiming that virtue is the best and most persuasive recommendation; Isoc. 15.274–8, 13.21.
Editor’s Note
460b 'According to this account (logos) isn't also the man who has learnt just things just?' Socrates assumes that justice is analogous to the crafts in so far as learning about what is just is sufficient for being called 'just'; cf. 459e. Here are the two assumptions which cause trouble for Gorgias' previous claims:
(1) Learning what is just is learning a craft.
(2) Having learnt a craft is sufficient for being just.
Gorgias has been given no reason to accept (1) and (2); they are parts of the Socratic conception of virtue as a craft. We might be inclined to reject either (1) or (2). We normally suppose that a virtue differs from a craft; a craft is a capacity which may or may not be exercised, while a virtue must, in the right conditions, be exercised. Someone who has learnt carpentry no doubt needed certain desires to acquire his craft; but he may have lost those desires now. If he does not want to make tables when they are needed, but could make them if he wanted to, he is still a skilled craftsman. But a just man is expected not simply to know what would be just to do if he wanted to, but to want to do it when it is needed. Cf. Ar. EN 1106a 6–13. Socrates does not agree that these beliefs justify a distinction between virtue and craft. See Intr. § 4, Gibbs.
The argument against Gorgias is illegitimate as it stands, since it depends on (1) and (2) above, which are not obvious, which Gorgias has been given no reason to accept, and which have not yet been proved in the argument so far. The argument is therefore elliptical, rather than purely fallacious; cf. 475de, 478e, 507ab, Robinson (1), 19f. Socrates can support (1) and (2) by this argument:
(3) Someone who believes that something is in his own interest will do it.
(4) Being just and acting justly are in the agent's interest.
(5) Someone who knows that an action is just knows that it is in his interest.
(6) Therefore someone who knows that an action (or state of character) is just will do the action (or acquire the state of character). Step (5) is not defended. Socrates probably thinks it follows from his conditions for knowledge; if I know, and do not merely believe, that something is just, I can relate it to the definition of justice, which, on Socrates' account of justice and other virtues, will relate it to my over-all good. Contrast Santas (2), 159. But (3) is defended at 467c–468e, and (4) at 474c–479e. See 466cd, 475d, 482cd.
Socrates' doctrine here offends common beliefs, and needs further defence. See 491d, Intr. § 4, Pr. 352bc, Dover, 124–6, O'Brien, ch. 1. Contrast Dodds ad loc., and (2), 17.
Throughout this argument Socrates has assumed that virtue, including justice, is a craft, a systematic, rationally teachable body of knowledge. Gorgias never challenges this assumption. But we have seen that his responses to Socrates would be more convincing if he denied that there are experts in moral and political questions. A rhetor might claim that his moral and political beliefs are no truer than other people's, since there are no objective criteria of truth and knowledge in this area. Plato examines this conception of moral and political (and other) knowledge at Tht. 177b–179b. Socrates and Plato always assume that there are right and wrong answers about moral and political questions, because these deal with people's interests, and there are right and wrong answers about what is in people's interests. No separate argument is offered for these views; but they are implicitly defended in the argument with Callicles (see 488b, 499ab, 506e–507c). That is why Socrates never recognizes a distinction between questions of fact, where truth and knowledge are possible, and questions of values, where they are not possible. Questions of value are a particular kind of questions of fact; and so our moral education, for Socrates, must include our acquiring true beliefs about our own interest, and the resultant true moral beliefs.
Editor’s Note
460e–461a Socrates' explanation for having suspected a conflict in Gorgias' previous remarks is poor. The term 'did not harmonize', ou sunādein, may refer to some looser mis-match than formal contradiction — Plato's logical vocabulary is not sharp or specialized (see Robinson (2), 29f.). But even the allegation of a looser mis-match is not clearly justified. Socrates says that Gorgias claimed:
(1) Rhetoric is concerned with speech about what is just and unjust; from which Socrates inferred:
(2) Rhetoric could never be an unjust thing, when it always speaks about justice; and that conflicted with —
(3) The rhetor can use rhetoric unjustly.
Why does Socrates infer (2) from (1)? He might mean that the rhetor must 'learn justice' to talk about it, and that someone who learns justice will never be unjust. But that is simply to rely on Socratic assumptions. The 'disharmony' is between Gorgias' views and Socrates' views, not internal to Gorgias' views. Socrates might say that Gorgias' views are disharmonious, given the Socratic assumptions he has left unchallenged. But this reply shows only that the Socratic assumptions still need defence.
Editor’s Note
461bc Polus interrupts indignantly in a syntactically confused outburst against Socrates, accusing him of 'ill-breeding', agroikia — a crass and ill-educated pleasure in ruthlessly exploiting unwary admissions, to force a contradiction and to pretend to have scored some significant victory. But Polus misidentifies Socrates' false move. He suggests that Socrates has appealed unscrupulously to Gorgias' sense of shame, making him admit that he will tell his pupils about justice; Polus suggests that this admission did produce a real conflict in Gorgias' statements, which can be removed by simply rejecting Gorgias' sense of shame. He ignores Socrates' previous questions about the qualifications of rhetors to advise about just and unjust.
Polus is dissatisfied with the apparently smug and eristic manner of Socrates' argument (see 457c–458b); the interlocutor seems to have been trapped into contradiction by a trivial mistake he could easily have avoided. Socrates tries to show that his opponents cannot avoid self-contradiction so easily. See Intr. § 5.
Editor’s Note
461c Why should anyone be ashamed to admit that he does not know about just things and cannot teach others about them? cf. 482bc. 'Know' and 'teach' must be taken fairly weakly, to mean that he can recognize just things and point them out to others; cf. 457d. This is the kind of 'knowledge' which qualifies any respectable moral agent to 'teach' others, in the way described in Pr. 323a–326e, M. 92c. Just as it would be a matter of shame not to have virtue and to be ignorant about it, Pr. 323bc, Alc. 118b, it would also be a matter of shame to be unable to tell others about it, Amat. 138d. But Socrates assumes that teaching and knowing justice involve teaching and knowing a craft. Is this more than can reasonably be demanded of a normal moral agent? We might demand some understanding of the grounds and reasons for virtuous action, not just ability to identify the action; but ought we to expect all that Socrates expects? Polus, as Plato presents him, does not see the difficulty in 'knowing' and 'teaching', and so overlooks the real source of Gorgias' troubles. Does Plato see the difficulty?
Editor’s Note
461cd The dialectical method rests on the agreement of the interlocutor, and the recent conclusion rests on Gorgias' agreement, open to challenge by another interlocutor. Dialectic can never certify that the conclusion is beyond challenge; it is reasonable for Socrates to test it repeatedly with different interlocutors (see Intr. § 8). He offered to do this with Crito, who declined the offer, Cri. 46bc. Polus now accepts the offer, raising questions about basic Socratic principles, e.g. the identity of living well, finely, and justly (Cri. 48b). Callicles' challenge at 482cd is more radical.
Editor’s Note
461e 'where there is most liberty (exousia; cf. 468a, 486c, 492b, 525a) to speak'. Socrates alludes to the 'freedom of speech', parrhēsia (cf. 487c) which was a prized feature of Athenian democracy; see Eur. Hipp. 419–23, Ion 670–2, and for a less favourable view of the same thing see Ps.-Xen, Ath. Pol. 1.12, Isoc. 7.20. Socrates' allusion is not entirely innocent; for he will suggest that the rhetors do not really 'speak freely'; they flatter the people by telling them what they want to hear, rather than what would be best for them (cf. Dem. 9.3–4). It will appear later that Socrates is the only one who really speaks freely and tells the truth without concern for personal safety; cf. 521d–522a, Ap. 31b–32a, 36bc.
Editor’s Note
462b 'A thing which you say produced craft'. Quite probably Socrates alludes to a work of Polus on rhetoric which was quoted or parodied or alluded to in 448c.
Editor’s Note
462c Socrates says rhetoric is a kind of empeiria. This term often means 'experience', and here refers to the result of experience, a 'knack' or 'technique' (which would be a good translation except for its derivation from technē, which Socrates sharply opposes to empeiria). It is not clear how far Socrates relies on some accepted distinction between empeiria and technē, and how far he draws his own. The two are not always opposed; cf. 448b, Thuc. 2.85.2, 5.7.2. But here Socrates contrasts e.g. someone who simply prescribes some treatment for a feverish condition because it has worked in the past, and a qualified doctor, who is guided by some general theory of the causes of a disease; the theory might require different treatment for diseases with similar symptoms which someone going 'by experience' might treat in the same way; cf. Laws 720b–e, 857c–e, Hippoc. VM 20. Aristotle treats experience as a source of craft and knowledge, epistēmē, but sharply distinguishes it from them, Met. 980a27–981b10. See 501a.
The criticism of rhetoric as a mere knack attacks Polus' and, perhaps, Gorgias' stress on experience as the basis of rhetoric; cf. Isoc. 15.187–92. Socrates argues that this is a reason for distrusting rhetoric.
Polus asks whether rhetoric is not a fine, kalon, thing, when it makes someone able to gratify people. 'Kalon' is used quite generally here; it is not clear whether it is meant to be desirable for us to have this power for ourselves because it benefits us, or because it benefits other people, or both; cf. 463d, 474cd.
Socrates also claims that rhetoric is concerned with the production of pleasure, and makes this a sufficient condition for being a knack. But is it? Perhaps (a) rhetoric is a knack, not a craft, and (b) it is concerned with pleasure, not with good. Both (a) and (b) may give good reasons for distrusting rhetoric. But how does (b) support (a)? See 500e–501a.
Polus' view that the rhetor's ability to satisfy people's desires counts in his favour reflects a view that Socrates rejects more and more strongly in the dialogue; see 503c, 505ab, 517b–519a. Many would agree with Polus, including some defenders of advertising: 'An advertising executive … related … that America was growing great by the systematic creation of dissatisfaction. He talked specifically of the triumphs of the cosmetics industry in reaching the billion-dollar class by the sale of hope and by making women more anxious and critical about their appearance. Triumphantly he concluded; "And everybody is happy." … Business Week, in denying the charge that the science of behavior was spawning some monster of human engineering who was "manipulating a population of puppets from behind the scenes", contended; "It is hard to find anything very sinister about a science whose principal conclusion is that you get along with people by giving them what they want." But is "everybody happy"? And should we all be "given" whatever our ids "want"?' (Packard, 255f.).
Editor’s Note
463a–c Socrates places rhetoric in the genus 'flattery' or 'pandering', kolakeia, defined by Theophrastus as 'a shameful, (aischra) association, but expedient to the flatterer', Char. 2. The flatterer does all kinds of services for his client which are humiliating for a free man, for anyone other than a slave, and incompatible with the flatterer's self-respect. But he does not do these services just to please the client, but for his own advantage; cf. Ar. EN 1127a8–10.
All these aspects of flattery are relevant in the dialogue.
(1) Here Socrates emphasizes the consumer-oriented attitude of the flatterer. His advertising, market research, product promotion, attractive packing and colouring, all aim to discover, enlarge, and cater to the desires of the consumer. The political aspects of this attitude become clearer later, 517b ff. The techniques of modern advertising and mass media, and their use for promoting the image (a term Plato would no doubt have approved of; cf. 463d) of political candidates, are perfect examples of what Plato regards as flattery. The economic aspects are explored in a comment of Marx's: '… the expansion of production and of needs becomes an ingenious and always calculating subservience to inhuman, depraved, unnatural and imaginary appetites … No eunuch flatters his tyrant more shamefully or seeks by more infamous means to stimulate his jaded appetite, in order to get some favour, than does the eunuch of industry, the entrepreneur, in order to acquire a few silver coins or to charm the gold from the purse of his dearly beloved neighbour.' (Marx, 169.) Already here Plato hints at the conclusion he will draw more explicitly later, that the best politician will not be concerned with what people say they want, or what would satisfy their present whims, but with their real good; see 464c, 504d. The argument with Callicles is meant to show that the satisfaction of the desires catered to by rhetoric does not really promote a person's over-all good.
(2) Later Socrates suggests to Callicles that the moves and shifts of a rhetor to survive and to please his customers will be intolerable to anyone who cares about his own self-respect and about acting on his own values rather than adapting himself to other people's, 511b–513c; cf. 465b, 481d.
(3) Socrates also suggests, and claims at 502e, 503c, that the rhetor's flattery of the masses really aims, not at their pleasure as an ultimate good, but at the rhetor's own imagined good; all the time, as Polus and Callicles insist, and as even Gorgias has suggested at 452e, the rhetor is out for his own interest, exploiting and manipulating the masses. However, Socrates does not argue that there is anything wrong with self-interest; instead he argues that the rhetor has mistaken his real interest.
This conception of flattery is supposed to imply that no form of flattery can be a craft. The argument assumes that no craft can be concerned with pleasure, a claim Socrates does not defend until 500ab. See also 517c.
The claim that rhetors are flatterers is probably not original to Socrates. Aristophanes, e.g. Eq. 763–1110, attacks popular leaders for their flattery of the demos, the Athenian people; he denounces their combination of self-abasement and self-seeking; cf. 481d below. The political merits of this charge are harder to assess.
In calling rhetoric a mere 'procedure' or 'routine', tribē, Socrates suggests that the ability of a rhetor is acquired by habituation and practice alone, not by instruction and theory. He means much the same as when he calls it a 'knack', that the rhetor cannot give an explicit rational justification of what he does.
Editor’s Note
463a Socrates says that the flatterer's soul (or character; psuchē) is 'brave' (or 'manly', andreios), a common use of andreios for someone who is resolute in pursuing his aims, and even ready, as Socrates insinuates, to be shameless and unscrupulous. For this use see also 491b. The flatterer is also clever in approaching (or 'dealing with', proshomilein; cf. 513d, 521a) people; like Aristotle, EN 1144a23–9, Socrates recognizes cleverness as a natural ability capable of misuse. The virtuous person has real knowledge of how to approach people, La. 199de; the flatterer, here as elsewhere, deceptively resembles him.
Editor’s Note
463c Socrates insists on the priority of the 'What is x?' question, demanding an answer to it before he answers questions about the value of rhetoric; cf. 448e. He does not say that we cannot say anything true about rhetoric before we know what it is, and (on Socrates' view of knowledge) are able to define it. He implies only that an account of what rhetoric is will affect our views on its value, and is necessary to justify them; cf. R 354bc.
Editor’s Note
463d Socrates calls rhetoric an 'image' or 'semblance', eidōlon, of politics (or 'the political craft' — politikē, with technē or epistēmē understood), and Gorgias asks for an explanation of 'image'. Socrates has in mind the kind of relation just considered — rhetoric has some features similar enough to features of politics to deceive someone into thinking it is politics. It is, however, necessary for the features of the original to be part of the causal explanation of the features of the image; it remains to be seen whether Socrates can show that this condition applies to rhetoric; see 464cd.
The relation between image and reality is important in later dialogues for explaining the relation between Forms and sensible things. The contrast between the genuine and the spurious or derived is important there as it is in the G.; cf. R. 476cd, 515a–c, 520c, 596e–598d. In each case the man who concentrates on the image of F and does not recognize how it differs from the original and real F will be misled and draw false conclusions about the nature of Fs. But the G.'s remarks need not be part of a definite metaphysical theory of Forms, though they are obvious sources of such a theory.
'I call evil things shameful'. Socrates' claim anticipates 474c ff.
Editor’s Note
463e 'Polus the colt'. 'Pōlos' in Greek means 'colt'.
Editor’s Note
464a 'You call something body and soul?' — or 'you think there are such things as body and soul?' This is not meant to be a controversial move; cf. 465a, 512a, 517d. The soul is recognized in Greek thought as the source of life, and then as the source of knowledge, feeling, and action — and this is what is meant here. Plato may be referring to Gorgias' comparison of medicine to rhetoric and rejecting it. (See DK 82 B 11.14; cf. Protagoras in Tht. 167bc, and Plato himself, Phdr. 270b, where, however, rhetoric is treated as a craft, contrary to the G.) For Gorgias suggests that making a soul feel pleased and confident corresponds to making a body healthy. Socrates disagrees; these speeches only make the soul feel in good condition, when really it is not. See further De Romilly, 38–43.
Editor’s Note
464b–e Polus' incompetence as questioner and Gorgias' puzzlement give Socrates a chance to break his own rules against long speeches. See Intr. § 9.
Socrates' procedure here (cf. 454e) suggests an interest in systematic division and classification which Plato does not discuss theoretically until later dialogues, e.g. Phdr. 265c–266c, Sph. 253de, Pol. 285d–287b.
'Politics'; the use of the term is justified by Socrates' doctrines developed at 502d–503d, 513d–519a, perhaps expanding previous suggestions at Eud. 291b–d.
Editor’s Note
464b 'The legislative craft', nomothetikē; concerned with nomos, on which see 482e.
Editor’s Note
464c 'aiming at the best'. This hallmark of the four genuine crafts is ambiguous, just as the previous talk of 'good condition' was. It might mean:
(a) aiming to make the soul or body as good as possible; or
(b) aiming at what is best for soul or body, what is most in its interest. The difference between (a) and (b) is easily overlooked with medicine, since we normally suppose that what makes the body better — healthier, stronger — is what is better for the body. But it is not so clear that someone who makes my soul good thereby does something good for me; for it is not clear that being good — i.e. virtuous — is always good — i.e. beneficial — for me. In the rest of the dialogue Socrates tries to remove these doubts by arguing that being virtuous, especially just, is beneficial to the agent; see 506d–507c.
'I don't say it knew (gnousa), but it guessed (stochasamenē)' Socrates regards the rhetor as a 'guessing' (or 'contriving'; cf. stochastikēs, 463a) type of person; and just as he denied in 463a that the rhetor is a craftsman, technikos, he denies here that he has any knowledge about what he is doing.
Editor’s Note
464cd The various techniques of flattery are said to 'impersonate' crafts, or 'dress themselves up' (hupodunai) as crafts; cf. Ar. Met. 1004b17–22, Rhet. 1356a27–30. But surely Socrates is wrong to say that cookery pretends to offer healthy food. Children or foolish people may not know the difference between tasty or enjoyable food and healthy food, but surely adults know the difference and sometimes choose pleasant food? Socrates suggests that most people's moral and political judgement is as ignorant as children's judgement about healthy foods, 521e–522a, and that they will alter their choices when they know better; on his assumptions about knowledge and choice see 460b, 467c–468c, 506c–507c.
Socrates here returns to Gorgias' claim that the rhetor will beat the doctor in a contest about whose advice should be taken (456b). As in 459c, Socrates makes the rhetor's success a ground for suspicion of him (see 521e–522c).
Editor’s Note
464d7–e1 'worthy (chrēston) and base (ponēron) food'. Here 'chrēston and ponēron' just seems to mean 'good and bad', i.e. 'healthy and unhealthy', as in 517e8. The terms are also used for worthy and base people, as in 521d1–2, and hence as political terms for the 'good' and 'bad' side (cf. 470e8 on kalos kagathos and ponēros). This may, though it need not, influence Socrates' use of chrēston in 499e2, 504a7–8. On chrēston see Dover, 296.
Editor’s Note
465a Socrates mentions two objections to rhetoric; (1) It is shameful because it aims at the pleasant without the best. (2) It is not a craft because it offers no 'rational account', logos (see 449de) and cannot give the 'cause' or 'explanation' (aitia; the cognate aitios is translated by 'responsible' at 452d) of its treatment; cf. 462c. Some questions arise:
(1) Socrates does not deny the Pr.'s claim that what is pleasantest over all is also best over all; and so if the rhetor aims at what is pleasantest, will he not aim at what is best over all? This inference would not be valid as it stands, since it would involve illicit substitution of coreferential expressions 'what is pleasantest', 'what is best', in an 'opaque' context, where this kind of substitution does not preserve truth (see Quine; Lacey, s.v. 'Intensionality'). But if the rhetor pursues what is pleasantest over all because he thinks it is good over all (a view of over-all good supported by Pr. 354bc), he is still practising a craft. And so Socrates' objection does not exclude a hedonistic craft, if the Pr.'s theory is true; see further 495a.
(2) Socrates apparently contrasts rhetoric with a craft which can give a rational account of its procedures and of why they are right for its ends (the text here is doubtful). 'Applying' may refer especially to the application of medicines; cf. Phdr. 268a. For the contrast between medicine with a logos and without it cf. Laws 720b–e, 857c–e. But Socrates has not shown why there cannot be an 'Art of Rhetoric' explaining why each rhetorical device is the right one to use to persuade different audiences in different conditions. He apparently thinks that the concern of rhetoric with pleasure disqualifies it from being a craft. But why is that? See 500e–501c; contrast Ar. EN 1152b18–19, 1153a24–5.
(3) In demanding a rational account from a craft or science, Socrates relies on a further condition for knowledge besides truth, though it is not explicitly stated before the M. (see 454e). A craftsman with knowledge can say and explain what he is doing (cf. La. 190c). Does Socrates think this ability is necessary for competent, flexible performance in a variety of conditions? If he does, some would say that he ignores a distinction between 'knowing how' and 'knowing that' — e.g. knowing how to swim need not involve any explicit, statable knowledge that something is the case. See Ryle (1) ch. 2, Brown, Gould, chs. 1–2, Vlastos (14). But with more complex crafts in disputable situations, the demand for rational and statable understanding is more reasonable; cf. M. 97b–98a, Irwin, 90–2, 142–4.
(4) Socrates never objects against rhetoric that it appeals to the emotions, hopes, fears, and other non-rational aspects of its audience, so that it can sway them against their better judgement; cf. 459c, 464cd, Gorgias in DK 82 B 11.8–14, Segal, 108. Socrates believes that no one acts against his better judgement at the time of his action (i.e. if at a later time I act contrary to what I thought best at an earlier time, that shows that I have changed my judgement about what is best between the earlier and the later time); see 491d, 493a, 502b. Contrast Plato's own later view in R. 602c–606d, Phdr. 237d–238e, 245c–252c, 261ab, 271c–272b.
'undergo discussion' (logos); see 449de, 523a.
Editor’s Note
465b 'Slavish' (or 'unfree'; aneleutheron). Flattery is unworthy of a self-respecting free man because it caters to its customers; cf. 463a–c. On freedom see 452de, 485c–e, 491e, 492c, 511c–512d, Dover, 114–16.
Editor’s Note
465b7–c1 'for now (ēdē) perhaps you might follow me'. Either (a) ēdē has a temporal force — 'already' or 'by now', and Socrates means 'Since you should by now have understood my examples, I'll briefly summarize my point in geometrical terms'; or (b) ēdē has a logical force — 'in that case' — and Socrates means 'I'll use geometrical terms, for perhaps you'll grasp my point more easily in that case.' Here (a) suggests that the geometrical terminology is Socrates' preference, (b) that it is an expository device to help Polus, who must then be assumed to be familiar with it. Geometrical examples are used in the way suggested by (b) at M. 82b ff., 86e–87b, to illustrate a philosophical point. See 508a, Intr. § 8.
Editor’s Note
465c Whereas the sophist is concerned with general moral and political issues (nomos and nomothetikē have a broad range; see 464b, 482c), rhetoric is concerned with the area of justice (see 464b), the observance of which is prescribed by the nomoi. The sophist does consider how the nomoi, general moral and political norms, should be, and so offers to teach people these norms and make them virtuous. The rhetor takes the nomoi for granted and appeals to them either in the law-courts, governed by rules of just procedure, or in the assembly, guided by rules of procedure and by more general norms. On sophistic and rhetoric see Grote (1), ch. 67, Sidgwick (2), 353, E. L. Harrison, Guthrie (1), iii.44.
'if the soul did not control the body'. Here as before (see 464a), the use of 'soul', psuchē, implies no psycho-physical dualism involving two independent entities (contrast Dodds). Socrates means only that we are guided by thoughts, judgements, and so on in the way we distinguish these various pursuits in practice.
Editor’s Note
466a Polus' bad memory; HMi. 369a, Ion 539e. Dodds suggests that here the focus shifts from the rhetorician, the teacher of rhetoric, to the practising orator himself (though he says 'there is no breach in logical continuity'). Plato does not draw this distinction; 449a. He criticizes the 'speaker', the rhetor, whether he is teaching others to be rhetors or using his rhetoric as a speaker himself; Socrates assumes that if rhetoric is a real craft, the same man can do both, 449b. To find out whether rhetoric is a craft, he has not asked whether the teacher teaches as a craftsman would teach. He has asked whether what is taught is a craft, whether the practising speaker is a craftsman.
Editor’s Note
466a9 'as (hōs) flatterers', i.e. 'do people despise rhetors because they think they are flatterers?' Polus meets Socrates' claim that rhetors are flatterers with the reply that people don't think they are flatterers. Socrates' next remark about how rhetors 'don't count' returns to their real character.
Editor’s Note
466ab Polus asks Socrates whether he thinks rhetors do not 'count' (nomizesthai; or 'are not recognized') as important people in the cities. Here as later, Socrates states his reply in deliberately, and misleadingly, paradoxical terms. He probably does not really mean to deny what Polus meant to assert, that rhetors are in fact well thought of in their cities (contrast Dodds, who cites 481e, 513a–c, which are indecisive). He means that there is no reason to think well of rhetors, since in fact they 'don't count' or 'don't matter' (Lodge cites Aristoph. Nub. 962). 'Nomizesthai' is used for coin, nomisma, which is legal tender. Perhaps this use influences Socrates in saying that rhetors 'count for nothing' and are valueless.
Editor’s Note
466b The discussion returns to Gorgias' earlier claims about the power, dunamis, of the rhetor (452d). Socrates replies that if power is a good to the man who has it, rhetors have no power. The reply is stated in deliberately paradoxical terms — and, we will find, overstated.
Editor’s Note
466bc 'Aren't they like tyrants?' As an example of absolute power of life and death Polus mentions the tyrant, turannos. The term 'tyrant' initially refers to a leader with absolute, extra-legal, and extra-constitutional powers in the state, not necessarily implying that the ruler is bad or oppressive — some of them, like Peisistratus in Athens, were respected in their lifetime and later; see Ehrenberg (1), 23–7, 77–90. However, the tyrant comes to be associated, especially in the literature of the fifth and fourth centuries, with arbitrary, cruel, and reckless abuse of absolute power; Zeus in Aeschylus' Prometheus Vinctus, Oedipus in Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus, Creon in the Antigone, Jason in Euripides' Medea, Lycus in the Heracles, are all 'tyrant-figures'; see also Hdt. 3.80. The 'typical tyrant' appears again in R. 344a–c, and at length in R. viii–ix.
It is striking that Polus introduces this comparison, which would be shocking to anyone with democratic, or even constitutional, sentiments. Grote objects; 'Pericles would have listened with mixed surprise and anger if he had heard the monstrous assertion which Plato puts into the mouth of Polus — That rhetors, like despots, kill or impoverish any citizen at their pleasure', (2), ii.370. (Socrates notes later that it is not so easy for all rhetors; 515d ff.) But Socrates is not necessarily saying that all rhetors would agree with Polus. He claims that someone who thinks rhetoric is an unqualified good for the rhetor must in consistency accept that power is an unqualified good, so that the tyrant who achieves supreme power achieves some unqualified good for himself. Earlier Gorgias praised rhetoric for the power it gives the rhetor, 452d; and Socrates now considers the moral attitude implicit in this praise. Nor is Plato's view of rhetors clearly unfair. (Isoc. 15.142 expresses a similar view of some rhetors, though from a strongly biased point of view.)
Many Greeks (like many others) could not restrain some admiration for the tyrant's powers or worldly success; like the successful capitalist 'robber-baron' more recently, he appears to be the embodiment of success and independence, however he may have achieved it; cf. 452d, 468e on freedom. Adam Smith, i.3.3, p. 62 (quoted by Grote (2), ii.333) remarks: 'The great mob of mankind are the admirers and worshippers, and, what may seem more extraordinary, most frequently the disinterested admirers and worshippers, of wealth and greatness.' Polus does not go quite as far as disinterested admiration — see 474c. But his attitude is not unfamiliar. Solon replies to those who think he was stupid to give up the good fortune of permanent tyranny in Athens; he answers that he will not be ashamed at having spared his city bloodshed, and indeed will win greater eminence this way (Solon 24, Diehl); this argument based on the effects of tyranny on others is not considered by Socrates at all (cf. Grote, 335). Pericles and Cleon are both presented telling the Athenians that they hold and must continue to hold their empire as a tyranny, Thuc. 2.63.2–3, 3.37.2; and in Aristoph. Eq. 1111–15, Demos (the Athenian people) is admired because he is feared as a tyrant. Polus thinks the rhetor, not the people, has the tyrannical power; Socrates replies at 510a–d, supporting his view of the rhetor as a flatterer (cf. 463a–c). For other expressions of admiration for tyranny cf. Eur. Tro. 1168–70, Phoen. 523–5 (it is most kalon to do injustice for the sake of a tyranny).
By examining the tyrant Plato examines his contemporaries' admiration of power and success, suggesting that they must choose between this and their admiration for justice and the other recognized virtues. In particular he suggests that they cannot consistently admire justice the way they profess to if they think a man is best off with tyrannical power and success, whatever unjust methods are needed to achieve them.
Editor’s Note
466de 'want to … think is best'. Polus has said that rhetors do what they 'want to' (boulesthai) and what they 'think fit' (literally, 'what seems, dokein, to them', perhaps alluding to the official formula in resolutions of the Athenian Assembly; 'it seemed (edoxe) to the Council and to the People'), intending these two phrases to refer to the same condition. Socrates replies that they need not refer to the same condition because I can do 'what I think best' (dokein beltiston; Socrates adds the 'best' to Polus' description without argument) without doing what I want — cf. 447b.
Editor’s Note
466e Socrates says, rather surprisingly, that Polus himself does not agree with what Polus has said; see 495e, 482bc. Socrates means — as 'For you said …' shows — that Polus has said things which, as the elenchos will show, conflict with his present claim and which he will maintain against it. His beliefs refute him out of his own mouth, but only the elenchos shows it. Socrates says the same at 474b, and explains himself at 516d. Cf. Intr. § 8, Alc. 112e–113c.
Socrates argues against Polus as follows:
(1) Great power is good for the man who has it.
(2) Doing what someone thinks best without intelligence ('when he has no intelligence', e10) is not good for him.
(3) Someone who does what he thinks best without intelligence lacks great power.
But (1) and (2) are ambiguous. 'Good' may mean
(a) some good, i.e. good to some extent; or
(b) good over all, so that I am always, on the whole, everything considered, better off with it than without it.
Now (2) is a convincing objection against (b), but not obviously against (a). We might insist that taken by itself power, like health or intelligence, is always some good (i.e. that if I know nothing else about the situation I know you are better off with power than without it); we could still admit that in some situations my having power will either not prevent my being badly off over all or will even positively harm me — so might the other goods. Socrates thinks this is true of most of the recognized goods, M. 87e–88d, Eud. 279a–281e, and assumes here that Polus does not accept this status for rhetoric. Is the assumption fair? Gorgias said that rhetoric produces the greatest and best things and that these things are freedom — i.e. freedom to do what you like — and power, 452d. Polus agrees with him. Neither has admitted that rhetoric is sometimes harmful to the rhetor — Gorgias said only that it might be used unjustly, 456c–457b — nor that it needs to be controlled by some other knowledge or character-trait in the rhetor's own interest. Their praise of rhetoric and power assumed no such restrictions, and it is fair for Socrates to assume that they mean (b).
Editor’s Note
466e–467a Why does Polus have to prove that rhetors practise a craft if he is to prove that they do what is good for them? Perhaps Socrates means this:
(1) A knack is an 'unreasoning' thing, 465a, so that someone who has it will be 'without intelligence'.
(2) A knack, unlike a craft, is not concerned with the good, so that someone who has it will not thereby be able to achieve any good, and so will lack real power.
These are shaky reasons. Someone who uses an unreasoning knack might still use it intelligently and for his own good; Socrates can claim only that if rhetoric is only a knack, it cannot by itself constitute the rhetor's rational understanding of what is best — that knowledge will have to come from some knowledge not included in rhetoric. However, even this claim refutes Polus and Gorgias, who think that rhetoric is not only a possibly useful technique, but an unqualified good, simply because it gives the rhetor power to direct other people. Socrates reasonably replies that this alleged power does not make rhetoric an unqualified good, unless the rhetor directs other people for his benefit; and to do this he must know what benefits him.
We might think that in the argument against rhetoric above (2) is equivocal. 'Concerned with the good' might mean
(a) concerned with producing a good (from some point of view) result; or
(b) concerned with the agent's good.
The relevant sense for distinguishing knacks from crafts was (a); but (b) is the relevant sense in (2). But Polus' case for saying that rhetoric equips someone to achieve his own interest still deserves examination. Though the connection between these questions and the previous comments is not as close as Socrates suggests, the questions are still fair.
Editor’s Note
467a 'refuting', exelenchein; see 473b, note.
Editor’s Note
467b Polus cannot see what Socrates is driving at in distinguishing 'doing what he wants to' from 'doing what he thinks fit'. And he is right to be puzzled, since Socrates is proposing a restriction in the ordinary range of 'want'. This exchange suggests that Socrates' claims about wanting are not comments on the ordinary correct usage of the word. Polus is right, as far as we can tell, to find it natural, in Greek as in English, to say that tyrants do what they want to; Socrates means to show that our beliefs about what is involved in wanting make it wrong for us to say this.
Editor’s Note
467c 'Peerless Polus'. Socrates uses the jingling style favoured by Polus' type of rhetoric (see Dodds). 'Display, epideixon, my mistake'; Socrates uses the term previously used for a rhetorical display at 447a, and asks Polus to offer a different kind of display.
Editor’s Note
467cd Why should we agree that when we do x for the sake of y, we don't want x, but y? Socrates suggests cases where it seems implausible to say I want x, by asking 'Who would want to be in pain?' etc. But it sounds odd to say we want these things only because we have not described them in the way that explains our wanting them. It also sounds odd to say that I want to move my fingers rapidly over the piano keyboard, until I realize that that process can also be described as 'playing the Third Sonata'. While it is odd to say 'I want to suffer this pain' by itself, it is not odd to say that I want to suffer it as a means of getting better. Socrates, then, is right to insist that the relevant description showing why I want x will mention the end I expect to be promoted by x; but he is wrong to infer that therefore we don't really want x if x is a means to some further end; all he can say is that we don't want dangers, pains, etc. as such — i.e. described only as 'dangers', 'pains', etc. His argument also seems to rule out wanting something both as a means and as an end; this is more clearly ruled out in Lys. 220ab. See further 468bc, Anscombe (1), 11f., 37–41.
Socrates' claim would be trivial if he were proposing to re-define 'want', boulesthai, to mean 'want for itself' rather than 'want' in general; but nothing suggests that this is what he wants to do (contrast O'Brien, 89). For a similar argument about means and ends cf. Lys. 219e–220b (which reaches a stronger conclusion than is asserted here in the G., that we always aim at a single final end). Nor does Socrates suggest any distinction between what a person thinks he wants and his 'true will', which is taken to express what he 'really wants', whether or not he thinks he wants it (cf. Dodds, Gould, ch. 3). Here the 'ends' mentioned are those someone thinks he wants as results of his actions.
Editor’s Note
467e–468a Socrates introduces a third class of things intermediate between good and bad. They are described in two ways:
(a) neither good nor bad by themselves in all cases;
(b) sometimes good, sometimes bad.
Socrates' descriptions and examples cover different cases:
(1) An individual thing sometimes shares in the good, sometimes in the evil if and only if on some occasions it benefits and on other occasions it harms — my fur coat shares in the evil for me on a hot day, but in the good for me on a cold day.
(2) Types of things or events sometimes share in the good, sometimes in the evil if and only if some tokens of the types benefit and others harm, not necessarily at different times — e.g. aspirin is sometimes good and sometimes bad if you take an aspirin now and get better and I take one now and get worse.
On Plato's treatment of types and tokens see Irwin (2). When Socrates says that these things 'share in the good' he avoids saying that they are good — presumably they share in the good only in so far as they are means to it. He assumes that the only really good things are goods as ends in themselves. But he has hot justified this restriction on 'good'. See 468bc.
Socrates assumes that when intermediate things are neither good nor bad they are indifferent. He assumes that the only description under which something is an object of pursuit is 'good'; but this has not been shown. Why can something not lie outside, rather than between, good and bad and be an object of pursuit because it is pleasant, interesting, intriguing, irresistible, etc? Socrates may reply that these are all various ways of being good. He might mean by this
(a) whatever is desired is thereby believed to be good;
(b) some further feature beside being desired is needed for something to be good, and whatever is desired is believed to have that further feature.
Editor’s Note
468ab rules out (a); For Socrates thinks that what is better than something else must better promote some over-all good, the agent's welfare. He must accept (b), and claim that whenever I want something I want it because I believe it promotes my welfare. This is indeed the assumption of the Socratic Paradox (468ab).
'wisdom, health, and wealth'. Socrates perhaps refers again to the drinking-song quoted in 451e — the reference to wisdom is his significant addition to the list of goods.
Editor’s Note
468a 'share in the good'. The term 'share', metechein, is used in later dialogues to refer to the relation between particular good, just, etc. things and the Form of Good, Just, etc. The technical use grows naturally from contexts like this one; but no technical, metaphysical use is implied here. cf. 497e, note.
Editor’s Note
468ab Socrates describes the object of preference and wanting in three ways:
(a) It is a good.
(b) It is the good.
(c) It is better.
Together (b) and (c) probably explain what 'the good' is supposed to be. For Socrates believes
(d) When I choose x over y, I believe that x contributes more than y to my over-all good.
Now (d) does not follow from (a). We might say, following (a), that if I desire x I regard it as good to some extent; but (d) does not follow. For I might regard x as some good, a good to some extent, and choose x, but still believe that y is better than x (e.g. I might have some strong desire for food when I am very hungry or for revenge when I am very angry, which makes me choose it against my better judgement). Socrates implicitly denies this possibility; here as in 466e he takes 'x is good' to imply 'x is better than the other options' or 'x contributes more to over-all good'.
In accepting (d) and claiming that I always do what I think is better than anything else, that I do not act against my belief about what is better, Socrates asserts a 'Socratic Paradox', the denial of incontinence (weakness of will, lack of self-control, akrasia; cf. Ar. EN 1145b8–29). I am normally supposed to act incontinently, on an incontinent desire, if, e.g., I believe I would be better off without another drink now (I would drive safely, stay polite, be clear-headed tomorrow), but still my desire for the drink is too strong, and I drink. Socrates' acceptance of (d) rules out this description of my action; at the time I act I must believe that it is better to drink, or be unaware of the badness of its results. Socrates does not argue here for his implicit rejection of incontinence; but it is central for his claim that knowledge is sufficient for virtue (460b; Intr. § 5). He argues for his claim at Pr. 353c ff. (probably earlier than the G.) and at M. 77b–78b (probably later than the G.). It is less clear that he can consistently maintain this position throughout the G.; see 491d, 493a. On the Socratic Paradox see Vlastos (12), Penner (1), Allen (3), O'Brien, chs. 3–4, Gulley (1), and (2), ch. 2, Nakhnikian (2), Gosling (2), ch. 2, Santas (2), Bambrough (2), Walsh. A recent discussion exposing some of Socrates' assumptions is Davidson. (Calogero implausibly attributes the Paradox to Gorgias himself.) See 479b, note.
What does Socrates mean by 'the same thing, the good'? If 'the good' is 'the over-all good', related to 'the better' in the way suggested above, he is saying that in any choice we pursue what we think best over-all at that time. This does not imply that there is a single good or set of goods constituting the over-all good which we pursue at all times. But this further claim is defended at Lys. 219c–220b; see Irwin, 51–3. The G. soon shows that Socrates accepts it here too, believing that all someone's actions aim at his own happiness.
Editor’s Note
468b 'thinking it is better for us if we do it'. This is a new move, to suppose that I aim not only at what I think good, but always at what I think good for me; but Socrates introduces the 'for me' casually, as though he had been assuming it all along. M. 77d makes the same move, assuming that what I reject as bad I reject as bad for me. The egoistic reference is perhaps meant to support the previous claims, especially the implicit rejection of incontinence. It is perhaps more plausible to think I will never do what I think is bad for me than to think I will never do what I think is bad in some more general way; cf. M. 78a. At Eud. 278e–279a Socrates assumes that we all want to be 'well off' (or 'fare well', eu prattein) or 'be happy' (eudaimonein, 280b). He does not say there that we choose everything else for the sake of our happiness; but he suggests no other reason in the Eud. or anywhere else, and the arguments against incontinence imply that this is our only reason. 'Welfare' or 'happiness' is not precise. It need not be identified with pleasure or feelings of satisfaction or contentment. Nor need it exclude concern for benefiting other people; it is not clear that concentration on my own happiness, in the sense involved here, rules out altruistic concern for others, which at first sight might seem to be an obvious counter-example to Socrates' claims. See further Prichard (1), (2), Mabbott (1), J. L. Austin, Von Wright, ch. 5. Socrates' doctrine here is a form of psychological egoism, claiming that people do in fact pursue what they believe to be their own good all the time; it is 'not in human nature' to act differently, Pr. 358cd. On psychological egoism see Broad, Feinberg (1), Irwin, 53f. On happiness see 470e, 492c, 494ab, d, 507c, notes.
Editor’s Note
468bc Socrates states his position in significantly different ways:
(1) Whenever we do x for the sake of y, we don't want x, but y, 467d6–e1, 468b8–c1.
(2) If we want x and x is not identical to the good, we want x for the sake of the good, as something beneficial, ōphelimon, 468c3.
(3) We want good things, not bad things or intermediate things, 468c5.
Here (3) is ambiguous between (1) and (2), depending on whether we take 'good' means 'good as means or as end' or 'good as an end'. But (1) and (2) are inconsistent, leading Socrates to inconsistent descriptions of intermediate things. At 468a he says they sometimes share in the good and when we do them, we do them for the sake of something else; it follows, by (1), that we do not want them; and at 468c5–7 he reaffirms that we don't want intermediate things, but only good things — this excludes our wanting intermediate things on the occasions when they share in the good. On the other hand, at 468c he says that we don't want an intermediate thing 'just like that' or 'without qualification', haplōs houtōs, but we do want it on the occasions when it shares in the good, when it is beneficial, as in (2).
Socrates should choose (2) over (1). He sees that when the act-token of running satisfies the description of 'running to win the race' it is quite intelligibly something we want to do. He is right to say that to explain why I want to do something I need to refer ultimately to something I want for itself. But it does not follow that, as (1) suggests, this end is the only thing I want, that, in other words, the only thing I want is what I want for its own sake. Perhaps Socrates is led into (1) by (3) plus the belief that the only real good is what is good as an end — since that is the only unqualified over-all good; even if something is an absolutely reliable means to some end, it is not always good, since it will not be beneficial when I have already achieved the end. But (3) is true only if 'good' includes both means and ends. cf. 467cd.
Editor’s Note
468d Socrates' question, 'Does A do what he wants?', is misleading, since he seems to suggest that it must have a yes-or-no answer, when in fact the answer may be yes when the action is considered under one description the agent believed true of it, and no when it is considered under another description.
Socrates uses his conclusion to defend his previous claim that rhetors and tyrants have no power. He relies on the account of power in HMi. 366bc; A has the power to do x if and only if when A wants to do x, A does x. Socrates argues that if A wants what is good for him, but does x, which is not good for him, he does not want to do x, and therefore has no power, and does not do what he wants to do, even though he does x. This argument fails because of Socrates' previous unclarity in 468bc about wanting under a description. He unwarrantably assumes that A does or doesn't exercise power without qualification in doing x, whereas we should ask which power is exercised. If A wants to do something good for him, and x is not good for him, then his doing x does not display power to get what is good for him. But it does not follow that in doing x, A displays no power. For if he does want to do x, even because of a false belief about the good results of x, and does x, then he does display his power to do x. And so Socrates' conclusion that someone who fails to do what is good for him thereby shows that he has no power is unjustified; Polus is still free to maintain that the rhetor or tyrant is powerful. But Socrates has shown that if I do not have correct beliefs about what is good for me, I lack the power to achieve my own good, which I want above all, and so I lack that power which is an unqualified good promoting my over-all welfare — see 466a. And that is enough to undermine Polus' main claim. If the tyrant or rhetor lacks the power to do what is good for him, that is a serious lack. We might still say that his other great powers are goods to some extent for him; but they are not enough for his overall welfare. If Polus agrees to this, he will seriously weaken his earlier defence of the rhetor. Though Socrates' actual conclusion is unjustifiably strong, a weaker conclusion is all he needs for his main point — as we often find in the dialogue.
Editor’s Note
468e 'according to your agreement'. cf. 471d, 479c, Intr. § 8. Polus' admission that power is a good is supposed to have forced him to draw the conclusion conflicting with his other views. In fact Socrates has offered no argument for some of the most disputable assumptions used in reaching this conclusion:
(1) In Polus' claim 'good' means 'good on the whole', not just 'good to some extent' (466e).
(2) No one acts incontinently, or against his own believed interest in any other way.
(3) If I don't do what is good for me, I don't do what I want to at all.
Polus has not challenged these assumptions. He apparently could withdraw his agreement to them without any further inconsistency in his position. If he had argued that rhetoric is only good to some extent, or that the rhetor and the tyrant have incontinent desires and satisfy them, or that they do something they want to even though they do not secure the good they want, his position would be consistent. But in this case the policy of the rhetor and the tyrant would lose much of its attraction, and Gorgias' and Polus' fervent praise would turn out to be unjustified. Socrates' arguments raise a legitimate question about Polus' case, though not by wholly legitimate methods.
Polus' reply to Socrates is fair (contrast Dodds). For even if Socrates has proved that I am not well off being a tyrant or rhetor if I do not know what is good for me, he has not proved that the tyrant or rhetor does not know what is good for him, or that I would not become a tyrant or rhetor if I knew what was good for me. And Polus replies that since we would all envy the holder of absolute power and would choose to be like him, it is clear that someone with this power is better off than someone without it (granting, despite Socrates, that what he has is properly called 'power'). When Socrates asks whether the holder exercises his power justly or unjustly, Polus does not see the relevance of the question. We are not asking whether we would approve of someone with power as a just man, but whether we would envy him as someone who is well off, who has achieved his own good.
'You wouldn't choose' (dechesthai); cf. 474b, 475d. Since the Socratic Paradox has been accepted at 468ab, this claim about choice requires us to see whether someone is better off by his choice. 'Liberty' (or 'power', 'opportunity', from exeinai, 'to be possible') is the discretion of a ruler to do what he likes with other people, fulfilling one of the conditions of freedom; see 452d, 461d, 466bc, 486c, notes.
In saying that we would 'envy' the powerful man Polus follows a traditional pattern of Greek moral thought since Homer, which admires the rich, strong, and powerful as fortunate and successful people, and regards a man's virtues or excellences, aretai, as those qualities which promote this kind of result; see 466bc, Adkins (3), chs. 3, 8. This pattern of thought is not purely Greek; see 466bc (on Adam Smith). Polus does not explicitly endorse this whole line of thought. He does not say or deny that the powerful man is 'good', agathos, or has virtue, aretē; the discussion of 'agathon' and 'kakon' at 474c ff. is concerned with their application to actions, not to people. Polus might be willing to condemn the powerful man for his injustice, but he cannot refrain from admiring and envying him as happy, eudaimōn. It follows that he separates the recognized virtues, including justice and, probably, temperance, sōphrosunē, from the conditions of eudaimonia; here he agrees with the ordinary people criticized in R. ii, esp. 364a. Socrates and Plato believe this is the cardinal error about virtue and happiness; it is avoided by Callicles, 492c, and Thrasymachus, R. 348c–349a, in their different ways which take them some distance from ordinary views about what is virtuous. We might not think this 'cardinal error' is such an obvious error at all; see 459d, note.
Editor’s Note
469b When Socrates says that doing injustice is the greatest 'evil', kakon, 'evil' means something like 'harm' and in particular 'harm to the agent'. This is clear when (a) Socrates is supporting his claim that the man who does injustice is to be pitied because he does not achieve his own benefit; (b) Polus at once replies that suffering injustice is 'more evil' than doing it, and clearly means that it is worse for the sufferer than doing injustice is for the doer.
'Doing injustice' and 'suffering injustice' (or 'doing (suffering) unjust actions', adikein and adikeisthai) refer to actions, not necessarily to someone's being just or unjust; the difference becomes important later; 472d, 477b, 478e, 522e.
Editor’s Note
469c 'want … elect'. Socrates relies on claim (1) in 468bc; cf. 467cd, SVF iii.131, Rist, 12.
Editor’s Note
470b 'what definition (horos) you define'. 'Horos' is rather less specialized than 'definition'. It originally means 'boundary' or 'boundary-marker', and so includes 'standard', 'rule' as well as 'definition'. Socrates is asking Polus how he distinguishes the cases where it is better not to act like a tyrant from the cases where it is not better, and demands some statement of the grounds for the distinction. Robinson (2), 54 f., offers no convincing examples of Socrates' seeking a mere distinguishing mark rather than a definition when he seeks a horos; see 448e, 475a.
Editor’s Note
470de 'Happy' (or 'well off', eudaimōn); cf. 468b. On the 'Great King', the king of Persia, see Ap. 40d, Eud. 274a, Ar. SE 173a26. Polus refers to Archelaus as a particularly striking figure well known in Athens because of his close relations with the city; see Dodds, and Meiggs and Lewis, no. 91. But Socrates had apparently refused invitations from Archelaus which others, including Euripides, had accepted; Ar. Rhet. 1398a24.
Earlier Greek writers try to show that unjust men will come to a bad end; like the Psalmists, they say that the unjust will be punished in this life or after death, or that their descendants will pay for their injustice; see e.g. Solon 1.9–32 (Diehl), Adkins (3), 65–70. However, not all of Socrates' contemporaries need have agreed with Hesiod, Op. 220, that there is no reason to be just unless we benefit by it. Some might agree with Polus' view that someone might benefit by being unjust, and still say that it is worth while to be just. Socrates ignores this possible response, without giving any good reasons. On Archelaus and the Persian king see 524e, 525d.
Editor’s Note
470e6 'how he is off (or 'what his condition is') for education, paideia, and justice, dikaiosunē'. Socrates does not explain what he means by 'education' — see 487c. Presumably it is training of the kind proposed at La. 185de, to develop the virtues, including justice, in someone. Paideia is the normal term for the moral education and 'good upbringing' of a citizen, such as Protagoras described in Pr. 323c ff. There Socrates' arguments implied a criticism of the standard view. Here, though he uses the standard term, he presumably has in mind reasoned inquiry and knowledge, rather than merely habitual right action, as the proper result of paideia, cf. 510b, 527e.
Socrates is not eccentric in believing that a man's virtues contribute to his happiness, to his living his life successfully. Many interlocutors in the dialogues agree with him in taking this for granted; cf. M. 87e–88d, Ch. l74de, Eud. 279b. But many of his contemporaries combine this belief inconsistently with the belief that justice is a virtue which does not always contribute to the agent's happiness; at Pr. 327b Protagoras says that someone's justice benefits other people, not that it benefits the agent himself. A natural resolution of the conflict would be to say that virtues include, in Hume's terms, qualities useful or agreeable either to others or to the agent himself; cf. Hume, ix, Pt. 1. But Socrates is not content with this simple recognition of different grounds for calling something a virtue. He still wants to prove that they all benefit the agent. Hume also wants to prove this; see ix. Pt. 2.
Editor’s Note
470e8 'Is the whole of happiness in that?' (en toutō(i) hē pasa eudaimonia estin). 'In' is ambiguous, and makes Polus' question hard to understand. We might translate it by 'consisting in' (Cope and others; cf. Cicero, TD 5.35; tu in ea sitam vitam beatam putas?), suggesting that justice and education are the whole of happiness. Socrates' argument so far shows only that they are necessary for happiness; and if 'in' is taken to mean 'dependent on' (cf. Woodhead, Hamilton), that is what Polus is asking. Again Polus is not saying that justice is not worth while, but only that it is not worth while for my happiness. The egoistic assumption that this is the only way a character-trait or pattern of action can be worth while is Socrates' assumption, not Polus'.
The terms 'fine and good', and the corresponding quality, kalokagathia, naturally interest Socrates in the G., since he is concerned with the relations between the fine and the good. A 'fine and good' man has the best and finest qualities, whatever they may be; but different people's views of what these qualities are affect the intended reference of the terms. For examples see Ste Croix, 371–6, and good criticisms by Dover, 41–5. Often the fine and good man is the gentleman whose fine and good qualities or virtues (aretai; 457c) consist in his good breeding, wealth, and accomplishments, as well as in more familiar virtues such as courage and justice. This conception of 'personal merit' is not purely Greek; it would not seem strange to Hume (see above). Naturally, the upper classes who think they have all these qualities, and those who agree with their view of themselves, use 'fine and good' for an aristocrat, and the term can sound like a 'party label'. This does not necessarily pick out a separate sense of the term; those who call an aristocrat 'fine and good' would also — as far as we can tell — mean to imply that his aristocratic qualities are fine and good. The term is also used to refer to someone with virtues more accessible to everyone. The 'base', ponēros, man is the opposite of the fine and good man in all these contexts (cf. Isoc. 15.316 f., Aristoph. Eq. 186). See 464d7–e1, 499e, 526e.
Socrates rejects the special claims of aristocratic qualities to make someone fine and good. The term would naturally suggest the 'manly' qualities of the gentleman; but here he applies it to women as well — he elsewhere argues, against Meno, that the virtuous condition is the same for men and women, M. 71e–73c. Later in the dialogue he develops his own conception of the central elements of being fine and good, 484d, 503c, 511b, 516e, 526a; cf. Ap. 20b. Already it is clear that justice is central and pre-eminent in being fine and good. It is not clear whether Socrates means to say it is the whole of being fine and good — whether the three terms 'good', 'fine', and 'just' are meant to pick out three conditions of a person, or only one. We might try to decide by seeing which view would be a more suitable answer to Polus' question. Unfortunately the question was ambiguous on the crucial point. If 'in' meant 'dependent on', Socrates need only show that justice is necessary for being fine and good, and therefore necessary for happiness. If 'in' meant 'consisting in', Socrates must show that justice is the whole of being fine and good, and therefore sufficient for being happy. These obscurities also make it hard to say whether Socrates claims that justice is sufficient for happiness; he commits himself more clearly at 507c.
On happiness cf. 468b, 491e. Does Socrates mean justice to be instrumental to, or partly constitutive of, happiness? See 507c–e, note.
Editor’s Note
471b 'he became utterly wretched without noticing it, and didn't regret it'. Polus perhaps implies that if someone is unhappy he should suffer pains and regrets all the time. Socrates' conception of happiness and wretchedness does not involve any subjective test of this kind. We might agree with Socrates this far, and still insist that some pleasure is a necessary element of happiness; see J. Austin. It is not clear if Socrates agrees.
Isocrates dismisses Socrates' claim as a mere philosopher's paradox, offered by 'a few of those who make themselves out to be wise', which all sensible men would reject, 12. 117–8. He repeats Polus' reaction here.
Editor’s Note
471d Socrates recalls his reference to education, paideia, in 470e, saying that Polus is well educated in rhetoric, but not in what matters, and especially not in the methods of 'dialogue' or 'discussion', dialektikē; see 448c, Intr. § 8.
Editor’s Note
471e–472b The elenchos requires refutation of the individual interlocutor; 473de, 475e–476a. On 'refute', elenchein, see 473b.
Editor’s Note
472ab Socrates does not suggest that these eminent men are all flagrant examples of injustice. But presumably the emphasis on their wealth, power, and status is meant to imply that these were what they supposed to be means to happiness, or components of it; and that conception of happiness seems to make justice unnecessary for it; cf. R. 363e–365a. On the aims of Athenian politicians see 502e–503d, 517b.
Socrates' remarks expose one of the apparent paradoxes of the dialectical method. He recognizes that his view conflicts with common sense and recognized authority (cf. Cri. 49d; for the views of most people see Isocrates, quoted on 471b above). But he thinks he can convince any interlocutor who holds common moral beliefs that they imply the Socratic position; cf. 508e–509a. On 'the many' cf. 464de, 521e.
Editor’s Note
472c Socrates stresses the importance of the question being discussed; cf. 487e, 492d, 500c, R. 352d, 578c, La. 188a. Examination of these questions leading to knowledge about them is a common benefit for everyone, Ch. 167e, Ap. 36cd, 38a; and it is a benefit for each man because it shows him how to live for his own good and welfare, Eud. 278e–282d. Knowledge about this is finest of all and ignorance most shameful of all (487b, 521d, Alc. 118ab) because someone who wants to plan his life rationally for his own benefit can be expected to be concerned with this kind of knowledge.
Editor’s Note
472d Socrates' question about Archelaus shows that he is asking Polus both whether it is good for someone to be unjust and whether it is good for him to do injustice. The same arguments will not necessarily decide both questions; see 469b, 478e, 522e.
Editor’s Note
472d2 'blessed' (makarios) … 'happy' (eudaimon), used with no clearly different sense here.
Editor’s Note
472de 'meets justice … pays justice' (didonai dikēn). These phrases are standardly used for 'punishment' or 'paying the (just) penalty', as we use 'brought to justice' in English. Though the term translated 'justice' is dikē, not dikaiosunē (standard in Classical Greek), the translation 'justice' is most suitable for Socrates' line of argument. On 'vengeance' see 525b1, note.
Editor’s Note
473b Socrates speaks as though Polus had said that unpunished injustice is sufficient for happiness. But Polus has said only that it is sometimes necessary to achieve the goods — wealth, power, etc. — which promote happiness. Presumably someone might do injustice without punishment, but do such tiny and ill-judged injustices that he does not achieve happiness by them. To show that injustice is never necessary for happiness Socrates must either (a) describe the constituents of happiness and show that they can always be secured without injustice, or, best of all, that they preclude injustice; or (b) show that doing injustice is so bad for me that no benefits could compensate for the harm caused by injustice. Socrates tries (b) with Polus and Callicles; see 478e, 507c.
Editor’s Note
473b10 Why does Socrates say 'What's true is never refuted'? The term translated by 'refute', elenchein (noun elenchos) covers different things (see 457e–458a):
(1) cross-examination, as carried on in a Socratic inquiry;
(2) completion of this examination, inducing the interlocutor to reject his initial claim;
(3) correct completion of the examination, inducing in the interlocutor the correct belief that his initial claim should be rejected. Socrates has no separate term for (2) and (3). This is not surprising, when his method of inquiry makes it hard to tell them apart. It is sometimes hard to decide whether the interlocutor's defeat shows a genuine flaw in his position, or only a mistake in his defence of it, or failure to detect an illegitimate Socratic move.
In saying that what is true never suffers elenchein, Socrates may intend the formal point, relying on (3), that what undergoes elenchein is always false; elenchein will have to mean 'refute' — you cannot refute what is true, just as you cannot know what is false. But he may be claiming something about the actual fortunes of true belief in dialectical argument, claiming that no case of (2) will ever be illegitimate — i.e. that it will never induce an interlocutor to give up a true belief. If this is what he means, Socrates is being rather optimistic. Perhaps the optimism looks reasonable because he fails to distinguish (2) and (3). Perhaps he means that the proper use of the elenchos will elicit true beliefs from the interlocutor; but its infallibility can hardly be guaranteed, as Socrates seems to realize elsewhere (509a, Cri. 46bc; but cf. 487e). Perhaps, then, he just means the formal claim.
Editor’s Note
473c 'doing whatever he wants to' (bouletai). Polus assumes that the tyrant does what he wants to, forgetting his previous agreement with Socrates on the correct use of 'want', 468bc.
Editor’s Note
473de Socrates replies that Polus, like Crito in Cri. 46c, is trying to frighten him with a bogy-man, appealing to public opinion against the truth of the Socratic view. Socrates admits, indeed insists, that his beliefs are not those of the many, Cri. 49d. See 471e–472b.
Editor’s Note
473e Polus' attempt to ridicule Socrates' reply apparently follows standard practice; at least, this was one way Gorgias advised his pupils to make the opponent look foolish, Ar. Rhet. 1419b3–6.
'I'm not one of the politicians'. Socrates says he is not one of those who know about public business and participate actively in it. There were no professional politicians in Athens in the sense that modern states have salaried legislators and cabinet ministers; the ordinary citizen sat in the sovereign Assembly, and also in the Council (see OCD, s.v. Boulē), on its committees (as Socrates did in the incident mentioned here), and in many other administrative and executive bodies. But there were semi-professionals, hoi politikoi or hoi politeuomenoi (see Demosth. 3.30–1, Jones, 130), who often spoke in public, sought public office, and generally led and formed public opinion. The growth of rhetorical training and the importance of persuasive public speaking meant that many politicians would have good reason to become rhetors. Socrates says he is not one of these active public figures. He has already introduced 'political knowledge' or 'politics' (politikē, 464b) as the craft concerned with care for the soul. He does not concede here that those normally called politikoi are real craftsmen in politikē. See 500c, 515c, 521d.
Editor’s Note
474a Socrates refers to his attempt to obstruct the illegal (in his view) procedure for the mass trial of the negligent generals after the battle of Arginusae; see Ehrenberg (1), 328. The prytaneis were a standing committee of the Council (see OCD, s.v. Prytaneis); and in the prytaneis Socrates opposed the motion for a mass trial. Ap. 32b, Xen. Hell. 1.7.15, describe his role differently.
Editor’s Note
474ab 'Refutation' and 'examination' both translate elenchos; see 473b. In 473e 'refutation' is suitable; but in 474b Socrates does not explicitly ask Polus to undergo refutation, but only to give Socrates a chance to refute him, by undergoing examination.
Editor’s Note
474b 'Would you choose to suffer injustice rather than do it?' The argument is concerned with choice and action; and therefore it is covered, though Socrates does not say so, by the Socratic Paradox. See 468e, 475d.
Editor’s Note
474c Polus agrees with Socrates that doing injustice is more 'shameful' (aischron, opposite of kalon; also, e.g. in 477a, 514b, 'ugly') than suffering it, while suffering it is 'worse' (or 'more harmful', kakon, opposite of agathon) than doing it. The term 'kalon' — 'fine', 'admirable', 'noble', 'honourable', 'beautiful' in suitable contexts — is applied to what is supposed admirable from some point of view. A face or body can be kalon, i.e. beautiful in appearance; but earth can also be kalon for growing things, shoes kalon for walking in, etc., even though they are not beautiful to look at. Socrates draws attention to this wide range of 'kalon' in a paradoxical way at Xen. Mem. 3.8.4–7, 4.6.9–11; see also Dover, 69–73. It is doubtful whether we should speak of different senses of 'kalon', especially of a 'moral sense' of the term. It is hard to say that the Greeks were aware of using it in different senses, as we might be aware of using 'bank' in different senses for a riverside and a finance house; a statue and a brave action might both be kalon, though different properties would make them kalon. It is even harder to pick out a 'moral sense' of the term; it is not easy to pick out specifically moral terms in Plato anyhow (see 459d, 462e, 463d, 470e). There is no reason to believe that the use of 'kalon' for what we call moral properties indicates that the Greeks have a particularly 'aesthetic' attitude to morality, as the translation 'beautiful' might suggest. Kalon covers what is admirable from the aesthetic, the agricultural, the industrial, the prudential, and the moral point of view, and there is no reason to think any point of view primarily determines the sense or associations of the term.
Polus agrees that justice is more kalon than injustice, while injustice is more agathon, and therefore more beneficial, ōphelimon, to the agent. Here, as before, 'good' and 'bad' refer to the agent's good and harm (468b, 469b, 469d–470a). It is natural to ask of something good 'good for whom?', while kalon is not linked so obviously with someone's benefit. Polus' claim that justice may be fine, and therefore have something to be said for it, even though it does not always benefit the agent, shows that his praise of the tyrant need not imply rejection of justice or complete refusal to be guided by it; it will imply that only to someone who cares only about his own interest, and Polus has taken no position on that question. The distinction is neither immoral nor unusual; cf. Alc. 115a–116d, Ar. EE 1214a1–8. Adkins (3), 266, says, 'Polus clearly wishes to advocate injustice'. But this is not so clear:
(1) Polus claims only that no one would choose to suffer rather than to do injustice. He may simply be reporting what he thinks people would do, as a matter of psychological fact; he does not explicitly recommend or advocate doing what people would do. We might say that everyone will fight to keep his own job when it is threatened, no matter who gets hurt; we could say this and still regret it.
(2) Neither Polus nor Socrates clearly distinguishes
(a) doing injustice as a general policy; and
(b) doing injustice when it is the only alternative to suffering it (cf. 469c).
A normal person who acts justly in normal conditions, even when he would gain by doing injustice, might make an exception under the especially severe threat of suffering injustice; he need not be looking out for every opportunity for doing injustice. If Polus accepts only (b), his view is much more morally conservative than if he accepts (a). His praise of Archelaus suggested (a); but here (b) is the main question at issue.
Over all, we might say that Polus' distinction between the fine and the beneficial is quite legitimate, and indeed even a central feature of morality, since he sees, or at least does not deny, that we may have reason to act morally even against our own interests. This is not Socrates' view; see 468b.
Someone who probably agrees with Polus that doing injustice is more shameful but more beneficial than suffering injustice is Neoptolemus in Sophocles' Philoctetes; see 108–20, 1224–51. However, others would disagree with Polus and say it is far more shameful to betray weakness and vulnerability by suffering injustice than to give proof of strength and resourcefulness by doing it; cf. 483ab, R. 348e, Cri. 46a, Adkins (3), Chs. 8, 9. (In Cri. 45c, however, Crito also thinks he has justice on his side — Adkins, 230–2, does not mention this.)
Socrates agrees with those who deny that an action can be fine without being good; Ch. 160e, La. 193de, Pr. 349e–350b, 351bc, 359e–360a, Cri. 48b, Intr. § 3, Irwin, 49.
Though Polus thinks doing injustice is better for the agent than suffering injustice is for the victim, he never claims that it is virtue, aretē, to do injustice, and vice to suffer it, or that someone like Archelaus is a good, agathos, and virtuous man. Given the very broad range of 'aretē' and 'agathos', it would not be surprising if Polus had made these claims that he avoids (cf. 457c). His avoidance of them perhaps suggests that he does not definitely intend to advocate injustice; or it may show that aretē and agathos tend to be associated, unless further explanation is offered, especially with justice and related virtues. Cf. aretē in Thuc. 5.105.4, andragathizesthai, 2.63.2,3.40.4, Dover, 165, Adkins (5), 135–7. Callicles goes further than Polus, and transfers these terms to his own preferred way of life; he transfers 'just' with them; 482c.
Editor’s Note
474d Socrates' two conditions for being kalon, pleasure, hēdonē, and use, chreia, or benefit, ōphelia, are explained by the wide range of 'kalon'. 'Pleasure' is meant to explain how faces, buildings, etc. are kalon in themselves. 'Use' explains how shoes are kalon for walking. But it need not apply only to means to further ends. Plato often says that what is good is beneficial, M. 88e, R. 379b, and he asks whether justice is profitable, R. 367c, 392b. He may only be saying that anyone who has justice is better off than anyone who lacks it; it might be an intrinsic or an instrumental good. R. 354a even says that being happy is profitable, while being wretched is not; instrumental benefit is not relevant here, and happiness is clearly an intrinsic good. At the same time it is unwise to assume that Plato is clear in the G., as he is at R. 357b–358a, about the different kinds of goods he includes under 'beneficial'; he may regard them all as instrumental. Nor is his position on hedonism clear. He makes pleasure one good in itself; he does not say whether it is the only one, since he does not say or deny that something is beneficial only in so far as it promotes pleasure. See 465a, 499de.
Editor’s Note
475a Polus accepts Socrates' way of 'defining', horizein (cf. 470b), the kalon, presumably because it sounds realistic and down-to-earth, referring to people's pleasure and advantage. Socrates' readiness to give this account of the fine might seem inconsistent with his normal profession of ignorance, his claim that he cannot answer his 'What is it?' question. But —
(1) The vagueness of 'horizein' makes it uncertain whether this is being offered as a definition, i.e. an answer to the 'What is it?' question. But the question about what we 'look to', apoblepein, in calling something fine, 474d, does suggest a definition, or at least some kind of standard. See 495a, 503de, La. 197e, Pr. 354e, Eu. 6e.
(2) 'Benefit' or 'good' is surely one of those terms which Socrates said was 'disputed', when he rejected an account offered by Gorgias, 451de; cf. 'Courage is knowledge of good and evil', La. 199c. Perhaps Socrates thinks an adequate answer to his demand for a definition requires the elimination of these disputed terms; see Irwin, 89. On these grounds he might say he cannot define the fine, and does not know what it is. See 507c, note, Intr. § 9.
'Distress' (lupē); or 'pain'. See 495e–496a. In 475c2 'more in pain' translates algousin, and 'painfully' in 476c5 algeinōs. No difference in sense between lupē and algein is obvious here.
Editor’s Note
475c Socrates argues as follows:
(1) Doing injustice is more beneficial than suffering it (Polus' claim).
(2) Doing injustice is more shameful (less fine) than suffering it (Polus' claim).
(3) x is finer than y if and only if either x is pleasanter than y or x is more beneficial than y.
(4) Therefore doing injustice is either more painful or more evil (i.e. more harmful) than suffering it.
(5) A's doing injustice is not more painful for A than A's suffering injustice is for A.
(6) It is not the case that A's doing injustice is more painful than A's suffering it.
(7) Therefore A's doing injustice must be more evil than A's suffering it.
Here (1), (3), and (4) are ambiguous. After 'pleasant' (painful) and 'good/beneficial' (evil/harmful) we might substitute either (a) 'for those concerned' (i.e. for those taken to be relevant in any particular case); or (b) 'for the subject' (i.e. for the person who does the action or is in the state mentioned by the verb). In (1) Polus presumably meant (1b) (i.e. (1) read as in (b)); for he claimed that it is more beneficial for me to do injustice than to suffer it. But (3) is less clear. Socrates' mention of onlookers enjoying visual beauty (474d) might mean (a) that anyone — onlooker or not, truly judges that x is beautiful if x gives pleasure to someone (in this case, the onlooker); or (b) that any subject looking on a beautiful thing will judge it beautiful by reference to his own pleasure. This ambiguity in (3) is important. For (3a) is a far more plausible account of something's being fine or beautiful; (3b) implies that I cannot truly judge that something is fine except when it pleases or benefits me. However, (3b) is necessary for Socrates' argument.
Socrates says to Polus, 'Let's see if doing injustice exceeds suffering it in distress, and whether those who do injustice are more in pain than those who suffer it.' When Polus says no to these questions, he accepts (5) and (6). Now only (6b) follows from (5); and only (7b) follows from (3b), (4b) and (6b). With (3a), (4a), and (6a) Socrates has a more plausible account of what is fine, but at the price of an invalid argument. For (6a) does not follow from (5); perhaps other people suffer more pain when they think of A's doing injustice to B than when they think of B's suffering injustice. (Of course any case of someone's suffering injustice from someone else will also be a case of someone's doing injustice to someone else.) Socrates has either a valid argument with an implausible and undefended premise, (3b), or a more plausible premise, (3a), and an invalid argument. Failure to disambiguate (3), (4), and (6) can easily make the premises seem plausible and the argument seem valid; and Socrates may well be sliding between the two readings of the ambiguous steps. See further Grote (2), ii.334, Vlastos (16), Guthrie (1), iv.311.
Editor’s Note
475d Socrates continues the argument from (7) above:
(8) No one would choose (dechesthai, cf. 474b) the more shameful and evil over the less shameful and evil.
(9) Therefore no one would choose doing injustice over suffering it. What is the status of (8) in this argument? Further choices are open.
(A) Perhaps these steps are meant to be justified by the previous argument. And indeed (8) follows from (7b) plus the Socratic Paradox (see 468b). The reference in (8) to the more shameful is superfluous once (2) and (7b) are accepted. (7b) rather than (7a) is needed for (8); for the Socratic Paradox concerns only what is good for the agent, not what is good for all concerned. (7b) requires (3b), (4b), and (6b). Socrates has not shown how to justify (9) from the plausible (3a). But from the implausible (3b) a valid argument can be found — as long as (9) is taken to mean
(9a) No one who accepts (2)–(7) would choose doing injustice over suffering it.
For Socrates does not seem to mean to deny that someone might choose to do injustice when he falsely believes that he is doing justice, or that someone might correctly believe he is doing injustice and still do it because he is ignorant of some or all of (2)–(7). He does not mean that the belief that something is unjust is by itself, apart from (2)–(7), enough to prevent someone from doing it.
(B) Alternatively, Polus may accept (8) without relying on (3)–(7), if he thinks that something's being fine is a reason for choosing it (cf. 474c). Then Socrates can argue as follows:
(10) Everyone chooses what he believes to be finer over what he believes to be less fine (Polus' reason for accepting (8)).
(11) Everyone chooses only what he believes to be better for him over what he believes to be worse for him (the Socratic Paradox).
(12) Therefore everyone believes that the finer thing is better for him than the less fine thing.
This argument shows that Polus cannot accept (10) and (11) consistently with his initial claims (1) and (2).
While interpretation (A) makes 'shameful' in (8) redundant, (B) makes 'evil' redundant. But (B) makes (3)–(7) irrelevant to the proof of (8), and therefore to the over-all argument against Polus. The presence of 'shameful and evil' in (8) may suggest that Socrates confusedly combines (A) and (B). If he relies on (B), he may fail to see the weaknesses in (A) arising from the ambiguities in (1)–(7).
Both (A) and (B) imply that Polus cannot both accept (1) and (2) and endorse the Socratic Paradox, accepted in (8) or in (11). Socrates expects him to resolve the conflict in his position by rejecting (1). But why should he not reject (2), rejected by Callicles at 482cd? Or why should he not challenge the Socratic Paradox, which has so far been accepted with neither challenge nor defence?
Editor’s Note
476a 'Paying justice (see 472de) and being punished (kolazesthai) justly'. Kolazesthai indicates not merely the infliction of harm in punishment, but also something about the effects — the treatment 'curbs' or 'checks' or 'moderates'; cf. sōphronizein, 478d, Hippoc. Reg. Acut. 59, Xen. Oec. 20.12. Socrates relies on this association of kolazein in claiming later that it removes the vice of being unchecked, immoderate, or intemperate (akolastos; 477de). See 478d, 491e, and Lodge, ad loc., 492c, 493a, 505bc, and Thompson (1), ad loc., Lodge on 472d.
Editor’s Note
476a–d Aristotle, Rhet. 1397a23–b11, notices counter-examples to this argument from correlatives. It works only when the property of the action belongs to it intrinsically and non-relationally, or implicitly refers to the 'thing affected' (or 'patient' — paschōn) and not to the agent. If I strike a sudden blow which you receive, you are struck a sudden blow; but if I inflict pain with difficulty, it does not follow that you suffer pain with difficulty, though it follows that you suffer something done with difficulty by me. Socrates does not mention difficult cases; he sticks to those cases where his principle looks plausible.
Editor’s Note
476d2–3 'as I was saying just now'. Socrates might refer to the generalization in 476b5, or (perhaps more probably) to his demand for agreement in 476a1. His next remark emphasizes agreement again.
Editor’s Note
477a 'The man who pays justice is affected by (or 'undergoes') good things … Then he is benefited.' Socrates makes the same slide as in his previous argument. He is entitled to say that I undergo something good for someone; but he has not shown why the someone must be me. The Greek for 'is affected by good things', agatha paschei, helps Socrates, since it looks like the passive of agatha poiein, which normally means 'benefit' — cf. English 'do good'. But if that is how Socrates means to speak of agatha paschein, Polus should deny that in this sense the man who is punished really 'has good done to him', agatha paschei. To defend his moves Socrates must appeal to the same line of argument as before, supposing that Polus thinks something's being fine makes it worth choosing.
Socrates at once assumes that the benefit someone receives from punishment is some improvement in his condition, and, since his physical condition is not improved, his psychic condition must be. Perhaps he relies on the association of kolazein — see 476a — with making moderate or temperate. But he has not shown that the harm inflicted by the state must have this effect. Nor is Socrates justified in his very quick move from 'A becomes better off' (i.e. A is benefited) to 'A becomes better' (i.e. A is improved). Why am I benefited if and only if I am improved? We might say that having a good soul is having a virtuous soul which benefits other people, not necessarily me. Here the analogy with physical health (cf. 464b) might seem to break down; the good condition of the body may be judged by what is best for me, but the virtuous condition of my soul may be judged by other people's benefit. By inducing Polus to agree that justice is fine, and adding his assumption that what is fine and choiceworthy must be good for the agent, Socrates has so far avoided explicit discussion of how justice is supposed to be good for the agent. He has assumed that punishment makes me a better person by making me more just, and that it is good for me because it is just treatment and therefore fine. But he has not justified these claims.
Grote (2), ii. 363, challenges the analogy between justice and health more radically: 'Good health and strength of the body … are states which every man knows when he has got them … Every sick man derives from his own senses an anxiety to get well. But virtue is not a point thus fixed, undisputed, indubitable.' Grote here combines the claims: (a) everyone knows that he is well or sick when he is; (b) everyone believes that health is desirable. His claim (a) is false; but (b) is a more serious challenge. Socrates has not yet shown how justice is as obviously desirable as health, so that someone who knows what it is will want it. See 504e.
Editor’s Note
477b Polus concedes more than he needs to in saying that injustice is 'baseness' (or 'bad condition', ponēria; see 470e, 474c) of the soul parallel to sickness, disease, and ugliness in the body. These bodily defects are bad for me. But it is not equally clear how injustice is bad for me; Polus has been driven to agree that somehow it is bad for me, but Socrates has not explained how.
Here Socrates begins to argue about the evil of being unjust, rather than the evil of doing injustice, which has been the main topic of discussion so far — though at 470e he said that happiness depends on being just, not that it depends directly on doing just actions. Here he argues that since someone who does injustice is punished, and becomes more just, and being just is better for him than being unjust, it is good for him to be punished for doing injustice. But the argument from the badness of beng unjust to the badness of doing injustice is not easy; see 469b, 478e.
'injustice and stupidity, amathia, and cowardice and the like'. Socrates seems to be listing the vices corresponding to the recognized 'cardinal virtues'; cf. 507c, Pindar, Isth. 8.24–8, Aesch. Sep. 610, North, 25, 41, 72, Dover, 66–9. Courage and justice are mentioned here. The other two recognized cardinal virtues are temperance (or 'sound mind', sōphrosunē) and wisdom, sophia or phronēsis. 'Stupidity' is clearly lack of wisdom; but Socrates may also intend it to be lack of sōphrosunē. Sōphrosunē standardly includes cognitive or affective conditions or both, so that it can be contrasted with stupidity or foolishness, aphrosunē, and with intemperance, akolasia; see 477d, 507a. Amathia is recognized elsewhere as a defect in virtue; see Eur. El. 970, Ps.-Xen. Ath. Pol. 1.5., and Dover, 122 f. on opposites to sōphrosunē. Sometimes, however, knowledge and sōphrosunē are dissociated, Thuc. 3.37.4, 1.84.3, Eur. HF 347, Tro. 982, Dover, 119. In mentioning stupidity alone as the opposite of both temperance and wisdom Socrates presupposes his view that knowledge is sufficient for virtue; see 460b, Pr. 357de.
Editor’s Note
477c After apparently mentioning three vices Socrates reduces them to one. He assumes his doctrine of the Unity of the Virtues — see Intr. § 5 — but with a difference. Earlier dialogues, La., Ch., Pr., suggest that the basic virtue is knowledge of the good. Here Socrates does not deny, and indeed assumes, that knowledge is sufficient for virtue; but he also thinks there is some reason to present justice as the basic virtue. Cri. 47d–48b also compared justice with health, but did not explicitly identify justice with the whole of virtue. This identification has some precedent (cf. Ar. EN 1129b27–31), if someone's other-regarding virtues are taken to be supremely important (cf. Adkins (3), 78 f.). But so far Socrates has not shown why justice, rather than any other virtue, should be the basic virtue; see 507a–c. We might also be surprised to see courage associated so closely with justice and temperance. Even if courage is only knowledge, why could someone not have enough knowledge to be brave without having the knowledge needed for the other virtues? See 491b, 491e–492a, 522e.
Editor’s Note
477c–e In his argument to show that injustice is 'worse' than various physical defects, Socrates does not say who it is worse for. But his analogy between injustice and sickness, and his implicit identification of injustice with ignorance require him to assume, for the same reasons as before, that injustice is bad for the unjust man himself.
Editor’s Note
477de Socrates mentions injustice, intemperance (akolasia), cowardice, and stupidity, and then injustice, intemperance 'and the rest'. Here temperance is one of the primary virtues (cf. 477b); but the argument is the same. Socrates is entitled to his carelessness only if the unity of virtue is assumed. It is suitable to mention akolasia in the context, when kolazein is being discussed; cf. 476a.
'Pain' and 'painful' translate cognates of aniaron in d1–3. 'It is more painful', d4–5, and 'since it doesn't exceed in pain', e1–2, represent cognates of algein. See 475a, 495e–496a.
Editor’s Note
478a Socrates now uses 'baseness' (depravity, defect; ponēria; see 474c) to refer only to injustice and vice in the soul, after beginning with a more general application to both physical and psychic defects. He is assuming that our basis for calling these different things 'defects' or 'basenesses' is the same — that they are bad for the man who has them. But we might challenge this claim about injustice.
Socrates then assumes that the point of punishment must be the improvement of the criminal's soul. The argument he could offer might be this:
(1) It is finer for me to be punished than to be unpunished, if I have done injustice.
(2) If it is finer, it is more choiceworthy for me.
(3) If it is more choiceworthy for me, it is more beneficial to me.
(4) The only possible benefit to me from my punishment is improvement of my soul by the removal of injustice from it.
(5) Therefore punishment must benefit me by removing injustice from my soul.
Polus has accepted arguments which require acceptance of (2) and (3). But he could still deny (4); perhaps, e.g., punishment benefits me by removing other people's indignation against me. Perhaps Socrates relies on the suggestion of 'kolazein' ('punish'; 476a) that it removes akolasia, which he identifies with injustice. But here he would be pressing ordinary language too far. Punishment might leave someone 'checked' or 'moderated' without having changed his desires and aims, the sorts of changes Socrates has in mind.
Socrates' claim about punishment is not clear.
(1) Does he mean that punishment as practised in his own society, the infliction of harm on law-breakers, actually benefits the soul of the law-breaker if the punishment is just?
(2) Or does he mean that just punishment would be that treatment of law-breakers which improves their souls?
(3) What makes a punishment just? Is it merely its tendency to improve the criminal, so that it is an analytic truth that just punishment improves the criminal?
(4) Or is the justice of a punishment decided by the gravity of the offence and the suitability of the punishment to the offence, and is Socrates claiming that punishment which is just by this standard also improves the criminal?
(5) Or is just punishment decided by some combination of these considerations, so that improvement of the criminal is necessary but not sufficient for just punishment?
Socrates' remarks do not help very much:
(a) He does not suggest he refers to some possible scheme of punishment different from the one he knows. He speaks as though he is defending the present system, not demanding reforms.
(b) On the other hand, he considers just punishment, not saying that the present system is just.
(c) He does not say what makes a punishment just.
(d) But he offers no criterion apart from the improvement of the criminal, and his only account of 'just' applied to actions is 'promoting justice in the soul'; cf. 478e.
(e) If Socrates is considering just, remedial systems of punishment, and the system in the present society is not just by this standard, then Polus has no good reason to accept punishment in present society if he can help it. Socrates does not mention this restriction on his conclusion. For more systematic discussion of punishment see Laws 859d–864c.
Arguments about punishment have been concerned with the relative weight of different considerations affecting who should be punished, for what, and by what penalties. Some views are these:
(1) Retributive. Punishment should be guided by retrospective criteria — the intentional action of the criminal, his intentions. It should be a proper response to the seriousness of the crime. (The lex talionis, providing for supposed equal return in punishment, is one, but not the only, form of a retributive theory. Nor is revenge a necessary part of it.)
(2) Deterrent. Punishment should deter the criminal from repeating his action, and deter other people from doing the same.
(3) Preventive. Punishment should prevent the occurrence of socially harmful actions.
(4) Remedial. Punishment should improve and rehabilitate the criminal.
Hart, ch. 1, surveys different views about the function and justification of punishment. See also Benn in Edwards, s.v. 'Punishment'. Aspects of punishment overlooked or rejected by Socrates here are stressed by Feinberg (3) and by Morris.
Socrates here seems to insist on (4) as the only test for punishment. Attention to (4) will fulfil (3) to some extent, but only imperfectly; why should the most effective preventive measures also be remedial? He seems to forget (1) and (2) entirely; cf. Pr. 324ab, C. C. W. Taylor, ad loc., below, 525b. But if Socrates relies on (4) he faces questions:
(a) Why should (4) always involve infliction of harm? We normally assume that punishment involves this. And Socrates agrees when he says that punishment is painful; it must be harmful to some extent, though not necessarily harmful over all. Perhaps (4) would be better achieved by rewarding the criminal; but would that be just punishment?
(b) Why should (4) be confined to those who have done injustice? Socrates takes for granted the normal view, that punishment is to be inflicted only on those who have intentionally committed a crime. He believes that no one is intentionally unjust, in the sense that no one is unjust because he wants to be, but only because he falsely believes that injustice is good for him (see 460b). But he still believes that people intentionally commit crimes, i.e. want to do actions they know to be against the law, because they think these actions are good for them. But why should remedial treatment be confined to criminals when many others could probably benefit from being made more just? Socrates might reply:
(i) All and only criminals benefit from the infliction of harm involved in punishment.
Why should this be? If it depends on the punishment's being deserved and therefore just, we must appeal to some retributive, not purely remedial, considerations to see how punishment is just.
(ii) There is no difference; what we call punishment is just one way of making people more just, the general function of the state; someone need not commit a crime to be eligible for this remedial treatment.
This is the view of the state's functions taken later in the G., 505ab, and developed further in the R. But if we reject such sweeping powers of coercion, remedial functions cannot be our only guide in punishment; retributive considerations must guide at least our choice of who should be punished.
(c) Why should worse crimes meet heavier penalties? Socrates might say that worse crimes are evidence of worse injustice in the soul, and heavier punishment is needed to remove worse injustice. But why should we agree? Remedial, preventive, and deterrent goals might be achieved by heavy penalties for small crimes — e.g. for careless driving. If we think there is something unjust in punishing careless driving as heavily as murder, we seem to be relying on retrospective considerations.
In these various ways we might doubt whether Socrates has really found the sole and sufficient criterion of just punishment.
Editor’s Note
478b Why does Polus agree that the administration of justice is far finer than the other two crafts? Dodds suggests that he thinks of the rhetor's role in courts of justice; cf. 452e. Perhaps Socrates also still relies on Polus' conventional respect for justice as something fine.
Editor’s Note
478c 'Happiest, as far as his body is concerned'. 'Happiest' translates the superlative of 'eudaimōn'. This term can be used to refer to a bodily condition, since it refers to success, prosperity, flourishing, with no necessary reference (often suggested by 'happy') to a certain kind of feeling — though it can belong only to beings with consciousness and desires (and perhaps more, as Aristotle claims, EN 1099b32–1100a5). See 468b, note.
Editor’s Note
478d 'makes people temperate'. The verb used here, sōphronizein, often means 'bring to one's senses', hence 'discipline', 'punish', and someone who administers it is a sōphronistēs (cf. the American terms 'correctional officer' and 'correctional facility'). But Socrates relies on the derivation from sōphrōn — see 477b — and infers that this 'correction' really corrects someone and makes him better off. He has also assumed that kolazein (check, restrain, hence punish) will make someone less akolastos (unrestrained, hence intemperate) and so more sōphrōn; see 476a, 477de, 478ab.
'Then the man with no evil in his soul is happiest.' Socrates finally defends the claim at 477a that someone punished justly is benefited. Until now he has argued that punishment improves a man by making him just and temperate. Now he argues, by exploiting the analogy between justice and health, that justice is better for the agent, and that the criminal who is punished is 'happier' or 'better off' (see 478c) than the unpunished criminal.
Editor’s Note
478e '… lives worst (kakista)'. 'Worst' is used here, as 'bad' or 'evil' has been used throughout, for what is bad or harmful to the agent. 'Living badly' does not mean 'living unjustly etc.', but 'living disadvantageously', the opposite of living well or being happy. It is sometimes said that Plato equivocates on two senses of 'live well' or 'do well', eu prattein; (a) 'living virtuously', and (b) 'living happily'. See 507c, Shorey (3) 482, Grote (2), ii. 352n., Ch. 171e–172a, 173d, Eud. 281bc, R. 353d–354a, Alc. 116b, 134a. But in each passage Plato need intend no more than (b); he always argues or assumes that an agent's virtue promotes his happiness, and need rely on no equivocation. Here as elsewhere (see 460b, 475de, 507ab), the fault in the argument is not that it is fallacious, but that it relies on premisses that seem inadequately defended.
'does the greatest injustices and exercises the greatest injustice'. Socrates seems to refer to someone who (a) does unjust actions, and (b) is unjust, has an unjust soul; cf. 469b, 477b. If everyone who does unjust action benefits from punishment, Socrates must claim that (b) follows from (a). It is hard to say if he is entitled to claim this, since he has not fully described the state of soul he calls 'being just'. But why could I not take care to have a generally just character, and yet gain the benefit from selected unjust actions, without making my soul unjust? See 504c, 509b, 519d, 522b,e, 524d, 525a.
On 'dynasts' see 492b.
Editor’s Note
479a 'faults' (or 'errors', hamartēmata); cf. 525b. 'Fault' and 'excellence', aretē, do not refer exclusively to moral actions and states of character; and so they can be used, with no shift in sense, for both bodily and psychic conditions.
Editor’s Note
479b 'Apparently he doesn't know what (hoion; cf. 448e) health and excellence, aretē, of body are like.' In saying that health is (or is at least closely associated with, depending on how 'and' is understood here) bodily excellence or virtue, and that justice is the psychic analogue to health, Socrates claims that justice is the soul's virtue; he has been implying this all along in saying that injustice is analogous to disease.
On fear of medical treatment cf. 456b. What is someone ignorant of when he shrinks from the knife? Socrates might mean either of two things:
(1) He does not know what being healthy is like (so Jowett, Hamilton), e.g. that it involves having purified blood, so that it requires whatever measures are required to purify the blood.
(2) He does not know how good it is to be healthy (so Cope, Croiset), so that he does not realize that its benefits outweigh the evils involved in this painful treatment.
The parallel with punishment suggests (2) here. People are aware of the evil involved in punishment, when it is painful, but blind to the superior benefits of having a healthy soul. How is this ignorance to be removed? We might suggest to someone
(a) that physical health is a good in itself, to be chosen apart from its consequences, though it may also be good because of its consequences;
(b) that it enables us to do many other things we want to do, so that it is an instrumental good.
For (a) cf. R. 357c; for (b) cf. Lys. 219c, Irwin, 184. Is (a) or (b) the right way here to argue that justice is an even greater good than physical health? Socrates' craft-analogy (see 460b) suggests that (b) would be the defence he should use. If learning justice is analogous to learning a craft, then being just should be parallel to having craft-knowledge, good for me because it allows me to get other things I already want; my having a craft does not alter my views about what is intrinsically good, but only my views about suitable means to acquire it. We would expect the same to be true of justice, since Socrates suggests that I will come to value justice as soon as I am told what it really is — nothing is said about changing my view of what is intrinsically good.
This argument has apparently violated the Socratic principle of the priority of definition — see 448e; Socrates has argued about the benefits of justice before saying clearly what justice is. But he has not violated his principle, since he has not been claiming knowledge, but only arguing from some beliefs about justice to other beliefs. However, the principle is relevant here; reasonable confidence in these conclusions might well require an account of what justice is; see 507c, R. 354a–e.
Socrates assumes that fear of medical treatment or of punishment reflects the belief that it is worse to be treated than to be unhealthy, that we are blind to the benefits of justice or health. This Socratic explanation of wrong choice (cf. esp. Pr. 356c–357b, 359c–360b) follows from the Socratic Paradox (see 468ab). That is why Socrates neglects possibilities that might seem natural — e.g. that I fear punishment more than is rationally justified, just as I might avoid going to the dentist from a fear which I know is irrational. Here, however, the neglect does not harm the argument against Polus; to say that the tyrant or rhetor is moved by irrational desires and fears is not the defence Polus intended.
Editor’s Note
479c The fallibility of the elenchos; 468e, 471d, Intr. § 8.
Editor’s Note
479d–480b Socrates has still not explained the relation between being just and doing unjust actions, or shown how being unjust is undesirable; and so he has not fully justified his conclusion here about Archelaus and about the real value of rhetoric. But these faults do not undermine the whole argument against Polus. Polus has agreed, 471a, that Archelaus is unjust, and Socrates' argument shows how that makes him worse off, challenging Polus' unreflective assumption that the benefits gained by being unjust are large enough to make being unjust worth while over all. Polus has been shown, from his own beliefs plus Socratic assumptions he did not contest, that he must agree that someone is worse off by being unjust. But we have noticed several ways for Polus to avoid Socrates' conclusion; see 475de.
Editor’s Note
479e 'it is fitting' (prosēkei). Prosēkein (see 456c, n.) might mean here (a) it is to be expected and not surprising that it does happen; (b) it ought to happen even if it does not. The context suggests that Socrates means (a) here; he thinks not merely that the unjust man deserves to be unhappy, but that he is inevitably unhappy.
Editor’s Note
480a 'go voluntarily'. Here acting voluntarily (hekōn), by one's own choice, is contrasted with being taken by force to be punished. Elsewhere, at 488a3, 499c3, 509e6, acting voluntarily is contrasted with acting because of ignorance; here 'intentionally' would be an apt translation. Aristotle discusses force and ignorance as two conditions excluding voluntary action, EN iii.1.
Editor’s Note
480b For 'remain firm' see Cri. 48b, Eu, 11b–d.
'or his native state' (or 'fatherland', patris, naturally mentioned here with other relations and friends). Socrates alludes to the different attitudes of the rhetor and of the 'real politician' to the faults of the state; cf. 473e–474a, 502e, Ap. 30c–31a; contrast perhaps Cri. 51a–c.
Editor’s Note
480e Socrates tells Polus it is not enough to find the conclusions absurd unless we can decide what to reject in the premisses from which they follow. He assumes that the conclusions do follow from the premisses. He notices the danger of false premisses, but neglects the possibility of fallacious inference.
'if we really should harm anyone'. The conditional (cf. HMi. 376b) shows that Socrates does not necessarily endorse this use of rhetoric to harm enemies. He normally insists that we should harm no one, Cri. 49b–d, R. 333b–336a.
Editor’s Note
481b Socrates does not mention the possible use of rhetoric for avoiding unjust condemnation. It would be less important in this case than it seems to those who think that suffering injustice is most harmful of all; but it would still be doing something useful for us. On the uses of rhetoric see 504de, 508de.
Editor’s Note
481bc Chaerephon answers Callicles with the advice Callicles earlier gave Chaerephon when he told him to ask Gorgias himself, 447c; the focus of attention is now Socrates.
Callicles realizes the importance of Socrates' claims. Instead of simply saying with Polus (480e) that they are absurd, he sees that if they are true, they imply radical criticisms of most people's beliefs and values; 'wouldn't the life of us men be upside down?' Callicles probably refers immediately to the paradoxical conclusions of 480e–481b. But in general he also sees that if Socrates is right, most people spend more effort on supposed goods which benefit them less, and less effort on what will benefit them most (cf. Ap. 29d–30b). Probably Callicles means that Socrates' conclusions show that people's lives are upside down (Cope, Lodge, Jowett), not that his conclusions will turn their lives upside down (Croiset, Hamilton; other versions are ambiguous). Callicles' next words suggest the first view.
Editor’s Note
481d On Socrates' relations with Alcibiades, not further discussed here, see Symp. 215e–219d; cf. Ch. 155cd, Guthrie (1) iii. 390–8. Socrates puns on the names of Callicles' boy-friend, Demos, and the name of the Athenian people, the dēmos. Cleon and other popular leaders and rhetors are called lovers, erastai, and suitors of the sovereign dēmos in Aristoph. Eq. 732–40; cf. Alc. 132a, above 463c. Socrates emphasizes Callicles' readiness to follow the whims of the people, when Callicles is about to profess contempt for the masses and their conventional views; cf. 482bc. But his policy does not seem inconsistent; for flattery is his method to win power for himself. This defence raises the question whether the results — power and its supposed benefits — are worth while for the rhetor. The question discussed with Polus is reopened. See 503a, 513ac, Thuc, 6.89.3–6.
Socrates suggests that Callicles' two beloveds are really very similar, since they have rapidly changing views, and that Callicles tries to keep up with the whims of each. Socrates conspicuously does not suggest that he flatters the whims of Alcibiades; cf. Symp. 218b–219e. Plato implies that Socrates' values allow him the kind of integrity and self-respect in his attitude to others which Callicles can never achieve, despite his professed contempt for the masses. See 463a–c, 511b, 513c. And Socrates explicitly denies that philosophy is as capricious as the Athenian demos; cf. 508e–509a, Cri. 46bc.
The partly playful comparison here is a striking anticipation of Plato's later theory, when he suggests that someone's aim and ultimate attachment in his life is his 'love'; men are taken to be lovers of power, honour, or (if rightly directed) virtue and wisdom — so that the best lover will be the philosopher, Phd. 66e. Plato traces someone's progress from love of persons to love of knowledge and the Forms, Symp. 204d–206a, 210a–212a. Talk of 'love', erōs, in these later dialogues is no mere metaphor; and Socrates' attitude in the G. suggests that it is no mere metaphor here either, though it is not supported by the theory found in later dialogues. See 513c.
Editor’s Note
482b7 'it is superior' (kreitton). 'It is better' would be more natural English; but 'kreitton' becomes important in the following argument, which Plato perhaps anticipates here; see 488bc.
Editor’s Note
482bc Callicles' 'discord'; cf. 513cd.
Editor’s Note
482cd Callicles' speech is syntactically awkward and unclear at the beginning — perhaps suggesting his haste and indignation (cf. 461bc). He accuses Socrates of acting like a 'mob-orator', or of 'playing to the gallery'; despite his objections to rhetoric he acts like a rhetor himself (cf. 519d), using popular prejudice rather than the truth to force his opponent into difficulties. Just as Polus offered a diagnosis of Gorgias' error, 461bc, Callicles now offers a diagnosis of Polus' error, as showing the same kind of conventional scruples as those which betrayed Gorgias (cf. 475d). This diagnosis is both right and wrong, just as Polus' was. Rejection of the view that doing injustice is more shameful than suffering it would have been sufficient to block Socrates' argument, just as Gorgias could have blocked the argument in the way suggested by Polus. But once Gorgias or Polus made the concession criticized by Callicles, he could still have blocked the rest of the argument; see 475de.
The G. is one of the dialogues which criticize the methods and assumptions of the elenchos; cf. Cleit. 408d–410e, M. 79de. Here Callicles offers two related objections:
(1) He challenges the premisses of the previous argument. Socrates gave Crito a chance to do this, but Crito refused, Cri. 46b, 49ab, de. Polus (461d) and Callicles are less compliant.
(2) According to Callicles, Socrates depends on premisses conceded by the interlocutor; he simply relies on the interlocutor's prejudices, or even on views which he does not really accept, but is too embarrassed to disavow; cf. 461bc, 487e.
Is this the most serious objection? Callicles remarks neither on the tacit acceptance of Socratic assumptions in the argument nor on the danger of fallacious inference; cf. 479c, 480b,e.
Editor’s Note
482e 'vulgarities and stock themes of mob-orators'. Socrates appeals to boring, commonplace moral clichés; cf. R. 442e, Ar. EN 1178b16.
'things which are not fine by nature (phusis), but only by rule' (or 'norm'; nomos). Callicles introduces the antithesis around which he builds much of his case. Nomos is hard to translate by a single English word, and its complex behaviour is important for Callicles' argument. It tends to be correlated with nomizein (think, esteem, recognize; see 466b), and refers to anything that can be recognized, in the way that a rule is recognized; and so it includes customs, habits, rules, usual ways of behaving, conventions, laws, moral and social norms. The common feature seized on by Callicles is the way that nomos appears to owe its existence to human action and decision; it 'exists' only in so far as it is obeyed or recognized or enforced or accepted or observed, only when people agree among themselves, or act appropriately, or both. The problem is further complicated because nomos and its cognate adjective nomimon are sometimes applied not only to the recognized positive law or other forms of presently recognized law, and to what is 'legal', but also to what is 'lawful' or 'legitimate' in a more general way.
This variety of usage may lead to different conclusions:
(1) The last use of nomos makes it plausible to identify justice with nomos — observance; cf. Minos 314b–e, Xen. Mem. 4.4.12–25 for different arguments reflecting this view.
(2) On the other hand, if we think of positive nomos, the laws in force or recognized at the time, and insist on the association between the lawful and the just, we will conclude with Protagoras that justice is what is prescribed by positive nomos; see Tht. 167c, Vlastos (11), xii–xx.
(3) If we think of nomos as positive law, and believe that the positive nomoi now in force are the result of the power of the present regime, we may infer that nomos as a whole is simply the expression of force exerted by the regime; cf. Xen. Mem. 1.2.40–6.
On nomos see esp. Ostwald (1), 20–40, Guthrie (1), iii.55–8; on nomos and phusis see Adkins (2), ch. 5, Sinclair, chs. 4–5, Barker (2), ch. 4, Field, 87–90.
When Callicles claims that Socrates appeals to what is fine by rule and not by nature, he means that it is only believed to be fine by those with conventional moral beliefs, and is not really fine. He is emphatically not a Protagorean relativist or subjectivist about morals or values. He never appeals to relativist or sceptical arguments about the variability of nomoi between societies, one standard way to draw the nomos-phusis contrast — cf. Ar. EN 1134b24–7, Gosling (2), 2–5. On the contrary, he claims that nomoi have a uniform effect, of keeping down the superior men. To show that we have no reason to obey the conventional rules of justice he must show that they are only thought to be just and fine, and are not really just and fine. This line of criticism requires an independent standard of what is just and fine — and Callicles presents such a standard.
'Nature' or 'reality', phusis, is contrasted with nomos, often in two distinct ways:
(1) Phusis is how things are if human beings, especially human societies, do not act on them to change their behaviour; a river which 'by nature' flows into the sea may be dammed.
(2) Phusis is how things are apart from any human wishes or beliefs about them.
Nomos contrasts with phusis in two parallel ways:
(a) It is a human institution, which alters phusis.
(b) It reflects human beliefs with no basis in phusis, in the way things really are.
Democritus, DK 68 B 9, relies on this double contrast.
'For mostly these are opposed to each other, nature and rule …' Here Callicles exploits the double contrast:
(a) Nomos alters phusis by making people sociable and non-aggressive instead of wild and aggressive.
(b) It is contrary to reality, phusis, and therefore always false, reflecting only what people believe and lay down.
Here (a) is plausible, and would be accepted by such defenders of nomos and non-aggression as Protagoras and the Anonymus Iamblichi (see DK 89 A 6.1–5, Guthrie (1) iii. 71–4, 314 f.). But (b) is more controversial. To justify (b) Callicles must show that the restraints of nature involved in (a) are a bad thing, so that they are not really just and fine, but only by rule. See 490a.
For different views on the opposition of phusis and nomos cf. Pr. 337d, Laws 889e–890a, Antiphon in DK 87 B 44A, 1.6–2.23 (this view is nearest to Callicles'; cf. Barker (2), 95–8, Guthrie (1), iii.l07–13), Thuc, 3.45.3.
Editor’s Note
483a On Socrates' debating device cf. Ar. SE 173a7–18.
'For by nature everything is more shameful which is also worse, suffering injustice …' Callicles appears to claim that suffering injustice is the whole of what is more shameful by nature; and alterations of the text have been suggested. But perhaps the text can stand, as a not untypical overstatement.
Editor’s Note
483b Callicles says, and Socrates later agrees, that some people live so badly that they would be better off dead; cf. 512ab. But Callicles thinks that such a person is someone who cannot defend (boēthein) himself or those he cares about. Both in Homer and in later Greek thought the power and ability to defend friends, associates, and family is regarded as a part of someone's virtue; cf. 486bc, 492c, 509bc, 522c–e, 526a, Cri. 45cd.
'Having more' pleon echein, sometimes means simply 'getting the better' or 'getting the advantage', with no implied criticism; cf. Hdt. 9.70, Thuc. 1.76.2, 4.62, Ps.-Xen. Ath. Pol. 1.2, 2.18 (where the sense may, but need not, be critical), Adam, on R. 349b. 'Taking more', pleonektein (abstract noun pleonexia) sometimes has a similar sense; Dem. 9.52, Isoc. 6.81, 4.48, Thuc. 4.62.3, 86.6. But it often has a definitely unfavourable sense, 'overreaching, grasping, taking more than is just'; R. 344a, Ar. EN 1129a34 and Gauthier and Jolif, ad loc., Thuc. 1.77.3, 3.82.8, 84.1 (4.61.5 might be taken favourably or unfavourably); cf. also Isoc. 15.284 (a deliberate paradox?), R. 349b–350c (a confusing combination of the two terms).
Perhaps Callicles uses the more neutral term, pleon echein, here to imply that what the many try to prevent is not merely definite harm and violence to them — the obvious result of pleonektein — but also the superiority of some people, expressed in any inequality of power, possessions, or accomplishment. When they say that 'taking more' is shameful and unjust, they are saying something plausible, since they may be taken to refer to 'taking more than is just'. But then Callicles makes them say 'and doing injustice is this, seeking to have more than other people', which is more controversial; in his view, the many interpret 'taking more than is just', pleonektein, to include any inequality, pleon echein, at all.
On conventional justice as an expression of the views of the weak and vulnerable majority cf. R. 358e–359b. Callicles treats conventional justice as a particularly characteristic product of egalitarian democracy. This is strange at first sight; for non-democratic regimes also prohibited aggression, insisted on law-observance, and enjoined the other things rejected by Callicles. Perhaps he suggests that democracy and complete equality are the logical result of respect for conventional justice — that once we admit we are justifiably restrained from assaulting one of the weak majority for our benefit, we cannot claim justification for getting any advantage over him, and if nomos can justifiably forbid our getting the better of another by physical force, it can justifiably forbid getting the better of him in status or property. The situation described by Callicles is described from a similar political position by the 'Old Oligarch', Ps.-Xen. Ath. Pol. 1.7, 2.20 (cf. Thuc. 4.61.5). The Old Oligarch, however, says that democracy gives more to the poor and inferior than to the rich and superior (1.2, pleon echein; 1.4, pleon nemein). Callicles expresses the radical character of democracy better when he says that it forbids having more altogether — here is evidence of Plato's care in the construction of Callicles' position.
Callicles suggests that the same principles which prohibit superiority in power and political control to a minority also prohibit superiority in wealth. His attitude to the implications of justice and equality is all the more interesting since most democrats of his own time as well as later times would probably — not obviously correctly — reject it. Athenian democratic doctrine did not demand such complete equality; cf. Thuc. 2.37.1, Jones, 54–60, Vlastos (4), (3), esp. 352–6. Conceivably, however, Plato was influenced by this demand for complete equality in justice. Equality of property is prescribed for the ruling class of the Platonic state in the R., and taking more is rejected as unjust, 416d–421a, 464b–d; here private property is also abolished. On democracy and equality see R. 558c, Laws 756e–758a, which fall short of Callicles' criticisms (Plato does not say that democracies demand equality in everything). See 508a below. With Callicles' attack cf. esp. Thuc. 6.38–9. Callicles' criticisms of democratic equality associate him with oligarchic critics (for another view see Kerferd). See 503a, 515c.
Editor’s Note
483cd 'nature itself shows this, that it is just for the better (ameinōn, comparative of agathos) to have more than the worse, and the more powerful (dunatōteros) than the less powerful.' Callicles claims that what is counted just by conventional rules is not really just, and that real justice requires action against conventional rules. He does not provide an amended account of 'do injustice' and 'suffer injustice' to match his account of real justice; and so it is not clear whether his claim in 483a — that it is more shameful and harmful by nature to suffer injustice than to do injustice — is still true on his revised account of real justice; for in 483a 'injustice' meant 'injustice by rule'. But perhaps the claim is still true. For presumably doing real injustice will be doing what the Athenians do, thwarting the rule of the superior men; and it would be more harmful and shameful to suffer this treatment, a sign of defencelessness, than to inflict it, a sign of power.
Callicles states the principle of real or natural justice in two ways, one referring to the better man, one to the more powerful man. He revives Gorgias' and Polus' earlier praise of power — see 466b; he challenges Socrates' attack on Polus, since he rejects Polus' eventual admission that being powerful and unjust is bad for a man. But does he simply repeat Polus' claim? See 488b–489b, 491ab, 491e.
Editor’s Note
483d On animals as the norm for legitimate behaviour cf. Aristoph. Nub. 1427, Hdt. 2.64 (notice the disapproving comment).
'The superior rules over the inferior and has more.' Callicles appeals to the 'state of nature' in the actions of animals and of states unconstrained by conventional justice. Hobbes, ch. 13, argues that the behaviour of individuals in a state of nature can be inferred from the behaviour of states, which are in a permanent condition of war of all against all. Hobbes also argues that where there is no common power there is no law and no justice. Callicles agrees with Hobbes in saying that there is nothing unjust in the rule of the strong over the weak in the state of nature; but, unlike Hobbes, he thinks this is really just.
In claiming that Darius and Xerxes had no basis in conventional justice for their attacks on Scythians and Greeks, Callicles is opposed to Hdt. 4.1.4, 7.8–18 (esp. 7.8a2). But these kings are presented as more typical despots and tyrants in Hdt. 4.126–7, 7.8c–d, 7.35, Aesch. Pers. 739–831. It is a bit odd that Callicles mentions them as illustrations of the 'justice of nature', since both were unsuccessful; many might point to their failures as examples of the penalty of conventional injustice. Perhaps Plato suggests that the critic of conventional justice has to endorse these sorts of actions, though an actual critic might not be as 'frank' as Callicles is; see 487ab.
How many would be shocked by Callicles' claim that aggression by powerful states is all right, and actually fine and admirable? In considering apparent parallels at Thuc. 1.75–6, 5.85–113, 6.83, two points should be noticed:
(1) Thucydides may be reporting, not what the Athenians actually said or would actually say of themselves, but only what it would be rational (in his view) for someone to say who did what they did. Perhaps explicit rejection of conventional justice and moral considerations was unusual.
(2) Even Thucydides' speakers do not say it is just and fine to do what they do against conventional justice. They suggest instead that questions about what is just and fine do not apply here (see Hobbes, cited above). Callicles, however, suggests that they do apply, and that the behaviour rejected by conventional justice is really just and fine. He, rather than the speakers in Thucydides, seems to believe that 'Might is right'. But 'might' is not exactly the quality which makes aggression just; see 488b. See further Andrewes, on Thuc. 5.89, Ste Croix, 16–25, Dover, 310–14, A. G. Woodhead, ch. 1.
Editor’s Note
483e 'by the rule of nature'. This is the first occurrence in Greek of a phrase translatable by 'law of nature'; after his sharp division between rule and nature, Callicles must mean it as a deliberate and striking paradox — hence perhaps 'by Zeus' is added for emphasis. But what does he mean? All he has shown is that this is what normally goes on, and in that sense it is the norm or rule, nomos, in nature. But he seems to infer that this is what is lawful, nomimon, i.e. really just. Just as conventional justice is associated with nomos, natural justice has its nomos, though, unlike other nomos, it does not depend for its existence on human institutions. On 'the law of nature' cf. Thuc. 1.76.2, 5.105.2. Thucydides' speakers suggest that this law is necessary, not that it is just; perhaps the plea of necessity is meant to avoid ordinary moral condemnation, which does not apply to those acting under necessity (cf. 4.61.5, 6.83.2–4). On nature and necessity see also Aristoph. Nub. 1075, Antiphon, DK 87 B 44A, 1.26, Ste Croix, 60–2. Callicles does not appeal to natural necessities, perhaps because he maintains that conduct following the 'law of nature' is not merely to be expected, and perhaps regretted, but to be valued as fine and just. See 490a.
Aristotle, Rhet. 1373b4–18 (cf. 1368b6–9) regards the law of nature as common and universal, unlike the law of a particular state. Callicles also thinks the law of nature is universal; but for him, unlike Aristotle, it is an observed regularity. Callicles offers evidence that this is what happens in the state of nature, while Aristotle does not believe that everyone in the state of nature observes the laws of nature; and Callicles does not attack the non-universality of ordinary nomos, but its tendency to frustrate nature.
But what right has Callicles to claim that the examples cited from nature show what is just? He might mean —
(1) What happens in nature unencumbered by human institutions is our best guide to justice.
(2) We can see that the rule of the superior is just, and nature confirms our belief, since it follows that principle.
So far Callicles has hardly defended either (1) or (2). But even if he could show that I do not benefit as much from observing the nomoi of the many as I would from breaking them, how would he have shown thereby that it is not just to impose them on me, and that real justice requires me to break them? Callicles must assume this about justice:
(3) Real, natural justice prescribes the benefit of the superior man. How is (3) to be justified? Callicles is clearly not assuming that justice prescribes whatever promotes the common good of a community (cf. Ar. EN 1129b1 7–19) — that is what nomos may claim to pursue when in fact it pursues what benefits the inferior at the expense of the superior. Callicles believes (3) because he assumes that real justice prescribes the way things objectively ought to be, the way someone has reason to behave apart from his feelings or inclinations. It is really just to give more to the superior man because justice is determined by someone's worth or desert, and the superior man deserves more. Both Plato and Aristotle accept this distributive principle, against the democratic presumption of equality for superior and inferior people; see 508a, Ar. Pol. 1280a7–25. Callicles' argument does not say that it is just for everyone to violate conventional justice; the superior and the inferior person might equally violate it, but only the superior conforms to justice in pursuing his own interests. Callicles believes that the superior man deserves more in justice because he believes, and argues later, that such a man develops the best and finest human qualities. Plato does not reject this general principle; he just disagrees with Callicles over what are the best and finest human qualities, and over what he should have 'more' of — these disagreements are made clearer in the following discussion.
In ordinary usage a just man is someone who (at least) does what justice requires; and so, on Callicles' view of justice, the superior man who pursues his own interest despite conventional justice should be the just man. Socrates agrees with him that any virtue must be in the agent's interest (Ch. 175c, La. 192cd, M. 87de, above on 474cd, Intr. § 3). Callicles can then argue:
(1) Justice is a virtue.
(2) Being virtuous is always in the agent's interests.
(3) But conventional justice is not always in the agent's interests.
(4) Therefore conventional justice is not real justice.
Though this line of argument is open to Callicles, he does not exploit it. He does not apply the terms 'just' and 'justice' to persons who do what natural justice requires. He uses the terms to refer to states of affairs when he applies them to real justice (e.g. 'it is just for the superior to rule the inferior', not 'the superior is just when he rules the inferior'). For Callicles' later usage see 491e–492a, n.
The account of education in Pr. 325c–326a illustrates the 'spells and incantations' mentioned by Callicles — the remorseless pressure of conventional education from early life, producing mediocre and stunted people (so he believes). Callicles' attack may have directly influenced Nietzsche; in any case some parallels are striking (see Dodds, Appx.). See Nietzsche Part I, esp. I.13: 'But to return to business: our inquiry into the origins of that other notion of goodness, as conceived by the resentful, demands to be completed. There is nothing odd about lambs disliking birds of prey, but this is no reason for holding it against large birds of prey that they carry off lambs … To expect that strength will not manifest itself as strength, as the desire to overcome, to have enemies, obstacles and triumphs, is every bit as absurd as to expect that weakness will manifest itself as strength.' See also I.10, on the contrast between 'truly noble morality' which 'grows out of triumphant self-affirmation' and 'slave ethics' which 'begins by saying no to an "outside", an "other", and that no is its creative act.' See further Foot (2).
Against the advice of someone like the Anonymus Iamblichi (see 482e) that conventional justice is the safest policy, Callicles suggests that though the many try to make the superior man capitulate and conform, he should not; a safe way of life involves such frustration of his best capacities that no superior man should tolerate it. Socrates adopts this argument at 511b–513c.
Editor’s Note
484a Callicles returns to the praise of the tyrant, begun by Polus; see 466bc. Cf. R. 344a–c, 574d–575a on the rise of the tyrant.
Editor’s Note
484bc Callicles thinks that the 'rule', which Pindar says is king of all, is the rule of nature which shows that it is just by nature for Heracles to steal Geryon's cattle. But Pindar's meaning, and the sense of 'rule', are disputed. Hdt. 3.38 takes Pindar to mean 'usage, custom'; see further Ostwald (2).
Editor’s Note
484c Callicles mentions 'the worse and inferior men' (plural), but 'the better and superior man' (singular); see also 488b. Though he has been speaking of Heracles and Geryon, he returns to the tyrant who expropriates other people.
Callicles now seems to raise a different question, about the choice of life (a bios; cf. 494d). He discusses the contrast between a life of theoretical study and an active life in public affairs. This contrast was a standard theme of discussion; see the later reference to Euripides. But what has it to do with the question about conventional justice?
Callicles makes three claims at once:
(1) We should not follow conventional justice.
(2) We should not spend our adult life on philosophy.
(3) We should be active in public and political life.
He suggests that someone who accepts (3) will accept (2), since philosophy disables someone for public life, and then accept (1), since that will be the wise thing for someone who accepts (3). Plato's view is not clear. Socrates does not clearly explain the relation between his rejection of (2) and (3) and his rejection of (1). It is easy to see how someone accepting (1) and (3) should accept (2); for him, philosophy will distract us from what is most worth while in life. If Socrates can show that Callicles' view of the ends of life is wrong, he can defend philosophy against this line of criticism.
But why should someone not reject (1) and still accept (2) and (3), because he thinks that philosophy is useless for a good citizen? (See Isocrates, cited on 485a.) Perhaps Socrates has wrongly conflated arguments about (1) with arguments about (2) and (3) because some people accepted all three. It would surely be unfair to claim that everyone who accepts any one of the three claims also accepts the other two. However, Socrates might say that if we reject (1), we have no good reason to accept (2), since philosophy, properly understood, makes someone more virtuous and just (cf. R. 487b–500). But if this is his argument, it is not an argument for forsaking public life in favour of philosophy. See 485d, 500cd.
Editor’s Note
484cd Callicles praises 'philosophy', Socrates' type of argument and discussion, as a useful part of education, presumably because the habits of debate are useful for public life. Prolonged exposure to philosophy deprives someone of experience, empeiria; cf. 462c. Callicles aims to be a 'fine and good and respected man'. Socrates previously applied 'fine and good' to the best kind of person, 470e; Callicles now uses the terms in a more usual way, to refer to a 'gentleman', and uses 'respected' to show that he thinks of honour and good reputation. Though he has just spoken contemptuously of conventional rules and opinions, now he is guided by them at least to some extent, when he values good reputation. (See Adkins (3), 156–64, Dover, 236–42.) Plato suggests that Callicles cannot maintain his self-respect; his chosen way of achieving his goals makes him depend on the public opinion of the masses he despises. cf. 474ab, 511b–513c, 526e–527a.
Editor’s Note
485a Callicles praises philosophy learnt only for the sake of education (or culture, paideia; cf. R. 487cd) to make someone a gentleman amateur, as opposed to learning it professionally as a craft. Cf. Pr. 312b, Isoc. 15.261–9, 12.26–32, 13.7–8, Guthrie (1), iv. 309, Jebb, ii.36–47.
Editor’s Note
485b Perhaps 'mumbling' (psellizein; leaving out letters and syllables, Ps.-Ar. Probl. 902b23–7) was the sign of a well off, and therefore 'free' rather than slavish (452d), young man who did not need to work, and so talk to strangers, as a slave child would. Aristotle mentions mumbling and lisping, traulizein, as childish defects of speech, HA 492b32–4, 536b5–8, PA 660a26–8. Alcibiades retained a lisp later in life, Aristoph. Vesp. 44–5, Plutarch, Alc. 1.3–4. Perhaps this was a sign of prolonged adolescence, and therefore, in Athenian eyes, of effeminacy, explaining Callicles' remark that an adult who speaks childishly is being 'unmanly', i.e. (perhaps) effeminate. This might possibly be a gibe at young men like Alcibiades who hung around Socrates, suggesting their general effeminacy and immaturity.
Editor’s Note
485bc The philosopher is attacked for being useless to society in R. 480d (cf. Thuc. 2.40.2), 487b–d. Callicles, however, does not emphasize the uselessness of the recluse to society, but his failure to acquire the reputation and honour demanded by a real man. We might find this incongruous with Callicles' contempt for popular opinions and sanctions, expressed in 483e–484a. We might ask if his preferred way of life would still be worth while apart from popular admiration (on which cf. R. 344a–c, 364ab). If admiration matters a lot, then perhaps Callicles is not as free and self-respecting as he claims to be; cf. 521d, 526c.
The picture of a philosopher whispering in a corner has sometimes seemed more suitable for Plato's Academy than for the historical Socrates, who may have talked in public places, and at least did not avoid them (cf. Ryle (3), ch. 5, Thompson (1), xvii). But these controversies may have begun in Socrates' lifetime, and it is hard to point to any definite anachronism.
Editor’s Note
485e–486a Callicles quotes again from Euripides' Antiope, which included a debate between the shepherd Zethus and the musician Amphion, on the value of the active, practical life and the contemplative life, the life of study. See Snell (2), ch. 4.
Editor’s Note
486a 'Likely and persuasive' speeches are the mark of a successful rhetor, useful both in court ('the council of justice') and in the Council and Assembly, to pass resolutions helping our friends ('propose any daring resolution …'). Euripides sums up the rewards of rhetoric praised by Gorgias, Polus, and Callicles so far.
Editor’s Note
486a–c Callicles' argument here depends on Athenian law and legal procedure. He implies that Socrates' life will leave him defenceless against attack, like those who are legally 'dishonoured' (atimos, c2, from timē, 'honour'). In Athens an atimos was deprived of the normal legal protections against ill-treatment. He was excluded from 'market-place and temples' (i.e. from public meetings and ceremonies, including courts) 'so that he could not even execute justice when he suffered injustice from his enemies' (Lys. 6.24; cf. Demosth. 21.95, A. R. W. Harrison, ii. 169–72). Atimia could be inflicted without formal trial on those guilty of cowardice in military service or of homosexual prostitution (Aeschin. i.27–30; cf. perhaps above 485b, n.). Socrates' position is like the position of an atimos because he is incapable of defending himself in court or seeking redress from a particularly insulting attack (a blow with the open hand; 'push his face in', 486c3), while the atimos is legally prohibited from legal defence.
The law on atimia also explains 'arrested … and threw you (apagein) into gaol', 486a7–8. Apagein, summary arrest and imprisonment (Harrison, ii.222–9) was prescribed for, among others, an atimos who violated the prohibitions imposed on him. The penalties for such violations were at the jury's discretion (486b3, 'if he wanted …', i.e. he would persuade the jury); see Demosth. 24.105. By saying that Socrates' incapacity for political life makes him no better off than if he were legally prevented from defending himself (atimia prevented someone from defending himself or his property against attack; cf. Harrison, i.236), Callicles states his charge in strong and vivid terms.
Editor’s Note
486ab Callicles repeats the charge that Socrates could not defend himself or anyone else as a self-respecting man should. Plato no doubt intends readers to think of Socrates' own trial — though in fact Socrates was not harmed by ignorance of normal procedure; he just chose not to follow it.
Editor’s Note
486b3 'inferior wretch' (phaulos kai mochthēros). Mochthēros corresponds to 'wretched' or 'miserable' in English, in so far as it can be used either to condemn someone for vice or to pity him for his unhappy position. The combination of these two uses is especially useful for Socrates who thinks that being vicious is being in an unhappy and pitiable position; he uses mochthēros to make this point at 505a2–3, and perhaps at 511a1. It is used to judge someone's nature or character rather than his happiness at 488a8, 504a8, where it is very close to ponēros (see 464d7–e1). Here Callicles means that Socrates will be prosecuted in an especially shameful way, by his inferior in aretē, his social, political, and moral inferior (cf. Thuc. 4.40.2).
'How can this be wise (sophon), Socrates?' Sophon is not restricted to theoretical wisdom; it refers also to practical wisdom, shown either in practical crafts and specialities, or in a more general understanding of what is worth my while to pursue in life. See Dover, 119–24, O'Brien, 24 f., 34–8. Callicles relies on these various associations of sophon here; despite all Socrates' claims to be looking for wisdom, his way of life denies him the wisdom which really counts, wisdom about his own good (cf. Aesch. PV 61–2, 944). Callicles praises the methods of gaining a reputation for wisdom, phronein; cf. 458e–459c, 464cd. On power, stressed by Callicles here, cf. 483cd.
Editor’s Note
486c 'to live dishonoured in the city'. 'Dishonoured'; see 486a–e. Callicles plays on both associations of the term, suggesting that Socrates is as defenceless as an atimos, and that he will lack the honour and reputation which Callicles thinks is a major good; cf. 484d, 485d, 525a.
'anyone is at liberty (exesti); cf. 461d, 468e.
'Examinations' (or 'refutations', elenchos); see 473b.
Editor’s Note
486d 'A living' (bios). Bios is used both for the means to live a life (like English 'living', 'livelihood', 'what I live off') and for someone's way of life. Both senses may be relevant here; Callicles claims that these people have the resources of a good life and the good life itself. On bios see 494d.
Euripides, Med. 816–19, and Theognis, 119–28, wish for a touchstone to determine the goodness or badness of other people's characters. Socrates, however, is more concerned with testing his own soul; cf. Ap. 36c. And he tests it to see if it has true beliefs, assuming that they determine character, according to the Socratic Paradox (467b–468e).
Editor’s Note
487a 'Free speaking', parrhēsia; cf. 461e, 492d, 521a. Socrates calls on Callicles to display this reputed virtue, which Polus, despite his initial protestations, has proved to lack.
'Wise', sophon; cf. 486b. Here 'being wise' and 'having knowledge' (epistēmē; cf. 447c, 454bc) seem to be equivalent.
Editor’s Note
487b 'each of them dares'. Socrates suggests that Gorgias' and Polus' sense of shame was misplaced, since they could 'dare', tolman, or 'be shameless enough' to show their ignorance and confusion on questions they should be ashamed not to have considered carefully. cf. 472c.
'you are educated, pepaideusai, adequately, many Athenians would say'. Socrates severely restricts his claim that Callicles has the knowledge needed for successful argument — not even Socrates has that. All he says is that Callicles would generally be thought to have a good education, paideia; cf. 485a, 470e. The reference to the Athenians' view shows that Socrates rejects Callicles' claim to have a really good education; cf. M. 90b. In the Pr. Socrates argued that the traditional moral education praised by Protagoras did not equip someone to understand the relations between the virtues or their relation to the agent's happiness. Here he implies that this education leaves someone ill equipped to resist the attacks of Callicles on conventional morality.
Editor’s Note
487c Of these associates of Callicles Andron is the most significant. He was one of the Four Hundred, the oligarchic conspirators who took power in 411 (see Ehrenberg (1), 316–21), and an associate of Hippias, someone else who defended phusis against nomos; cf. Pr. 337cd, Xen. Mem. 4.4.14. Such oligarchic sympathies are not surprising in friends of Callicles, after we have seen his attacks on the many and their doctrine of equality.
'Associates' (koinōnoi). Callicles recognizes the value of friendship and association, and has expressed goodwill for Socrates, 485e. His preferred way of life for the superior man does not explicitly seek to exclude these attachments. See 507e.
The insistence on sincerity is no doubt meant to distinguish dialectic and rhetoric, where the rhetor is trained to argue on either side of the case (see Solmsen, 20–3), and also from eristic. Socrates was accused of disputation without regard for the truth, Ap. 19b; so was Protagoras, Ar. Rhet. 1402a3–28, DK 80 A 1. See 453bc, 457b–458c.
'philosophize as far as exactness'. 'Exactness', akribeia, is a complimentary term e.g. in Thuc. 1.22.2, Hippoc. VM 12, Tht. 184c, Ar. EN 1104a2. But it is also used in an uncomplimentary way for pedantic and useless pursuit of exactness, Isoc. 2.39, 10.5 — especially referring to his more theoretical rivals, e.g. in Plato's Academy.
Editor’s Note
487e 'goal (or 'end') of truth', telos tēs alētheias. This is probably 'the goal consisting in the truth' (cf. perhaps Ch. 173d6). Others translate 'perfect truth' or 'truth in the end' (Dodds).
Plato considers a basic question about the elenchos, and perhaps replies to criticisms of his claim that its results could be used as a guide to the truth. Socrates assumes that he can rely on the truth of his results; cf. Cri. 49ab. In so far as he finds more and more interlocutors who agree with him after examination, he has better reason to believe his claims. But some interlocutors count for less than others; Crito is a disciple, Laches and Charmides perhaps lack the argumentative skill to resist Socrates, and Gorgias and Polus, Callicles says, have given way to shame. If Socrates can prove that Callicles also has better reason to agree with Socrates than to maintain his anti-Socratic beliefs. this will be much more significant. If Socrates' ethical doctrines can be defended not only to conventional and respectable people, but also to radical critics, they rely on something firmer than conventional prejudices.
We might object that this procedure makes Socrates' arguments merely ad hominem, since they depend on the sincerity and good judgement of particular interlocutors, and on their initial beliefs. But this ad hominem character may not be easily avoidable in moral argument, or even in other rational arguments, e.g. in empirical science. We always could maintain that observations apparently challenging a theory were illusory, or try to explain them away by some ad hoc auxiliary hypothesis (whatever exactly makes it ad hoc). What is less ad hominem about the claim that sometimes a rational man will not protect his theory in these ways than about the claims Socrates relies on? See 505d, 508e.
'This inquiry is the finest of all'; see 472c.
Editor’s Note
488a Socrates applies the Socratic Paradox to his own case; cf. 509e, Ap. 25c–26a.
Editor’s Note
488a–489a Why should Callicles agree that the rules, nomima, of the many are really fine? He has said that the rule, nomos, of nature is fine, that the stronger dominate the weaker; but it does not follow that rules agreed by people who are stronger by nature will be fine. Socrates' inference from Callicles' position is illegitimate. But he still has a fair objection. If the stronger is the superior and better, then domination by the many weaker men over fewer stronger men is domination by the collectively stronger over the collectively weaker, and is therefore just and fine by nature, on Callicles' view. This is enough to show that Callicles' examples and explanation of what is just by nature are inconsistent with his claim that democratic repression of aristocrats is not just by nature. Thrasymachus in R. i avoids this claim. In rejecting Socrates' conclusion Callicles shows that he rejects the position defended by Thrasymachus, that justice is simply the interest of the collectively stronger.
Socrates has sometimes wrongly been taken to endorse democracy, in this passage, as just by nature; see Popper, i. 91, 117, 254. But he is simply showing the inconsistency in Callicles' position, not endorsing the conclusion. The conclusion would require him to endorse oligarchy and tyranny as equally just, and to admit that the verdict of the Athenian court on him was just. But there is no reason to suppose that he would agree to any of this. He does argue for obedience to the laws in the Cri.; but his argument there is not confined to laws of a democracy. In general there is no reason to believe that Socrates was any less anti-democratic than Plato turns out to be in the R. See 505ab, Guthrie (1), iii 409–16.
Editor’s Note
488bc Socrates does not reply directly to Callicles' attack on the philosophical life, but instead returns to his account of the just by nature. Callicles has appealed to what happens in nature, the fact that the superior dominate the inferior, to argue that this is 'justice by nature', i.e. real justice. He spoke of domination by the 'better', beltiōn, 484c, the 'superior', kreittōn, 483e, and the 'more powerful', dunatōteros, 483d, over the worse or inferior or less powerful. Socrates asks for clarification. Kreittōn may refer to superior strength, but also to superiority in general (cf. 482b7). Beltiōn tends to suggest less purely physical superiority, and especially suggests social eminence — hoi beltiones or hoi beltistoi (superlative) are often the upper classes, in social and political contexts (cf. 512cd). Here Socrates suggests that being superior and being stronger are the same, and asks whether the better and the superior are the same. He is right to see an ambiguity in Callicles' position, even though he wrongly ignores the ambiguity in 'superior' itself — the gloss 'stronger' removes the ambiguity.
On the singular 'better man' and plural 'worse men' cf. 484c, n. 'Should' (c2); see 456e, n. 'More wretched'; 486b3, n.
Editor’s Note
488cd 'the finest of the crafts' (cf. Phil. 58ab) … 'finely equipped'. The term 'fine' (kalon) is prominent in later arguments; see 474cd. Polus introduces it into the discussion here, and Socrates picks it up in his comment.
Editor’s Note
488cd When Socrates asks whether the better, the superior, and the stronger are the same, we might understand the question in at least three ways:
(1) Are all superior men stronger and better, and vice versa, i.e. are all three classes coextensive? (Cf. 'Are all superior men red-haired?') This seems to be a straightforward empirical question.
(2) Do the words 'stronger' and 'superior' and 'better' mean the same? (Cf. 'Is "vixen" the same as "female fox"?' Remember that Greek has no quotation marks.) Discovery of the identity would apparently yield what is often called an analytic truth, something true by meaning or definition (see Lacey, Edwards, s.v. 'Analytic'). (3) Are the properties of being superior, being stronger, and being better all the same property? (Cf. 'Is temperature the same as mean kinetic energy?') The answer to this question would not be an analytic truth following from the meanings of the words; the discovery about temperature requires scientific investigation and theory.
Socrates suggests that he is looking for something more than (1) when he asks whether the 'definition' or 'standard' (horos; see 470b, 491b–d) of the better and the superior is the same; here (1) would not require the same definition. It is harder to decide between (2) and (3). It would be implausible for anyone to claim that all these terms have the same meaning; and a negative answer to (2) would not help Socrates much, since it is compatible with an affirmative answer to (3), which would support Callicles. What Socrates often asks for is 'that by which all Fs are F' (e.g. HMa. 294ab, Eu. 6d), or 'what is the same in all Fs' (M. 72e–73a, Eu. 5d), which is what we 'look to' in calling something F (see 475a). Considerations about the context and the kind of answer Socrates seeks suggest that he is concerned with (3) rather than (2). See further Putnam, Rosenmeyer, 93–7, Vlastos (15), 236–40, Penner (2), 37–43, Irwin, 63, Woodruff, for different views on this issue. See 495a.
Editor’s Note
488d Socrates' claim that the many are 'superior' (plural) to one superior man seems to combine two claims:
(a) Each one of the many is individually superior to any one superior man.
(b) The many collectively constitute something superior to any one superior man (or even — though Socrates does not mention this — to superior men collectively).
Socrates has argued for (b), not for (a). Thrasymachus is more careful about stating (b) at R. 338d–339a. Socrates might also defend (a), by arguing that when each of the many can rely on the collective strength of the others to defend himself against a superior man, he is himself stronger than the superior man, when the resources available to each of them are considered. With this conception of the state as a source of strength and protection to the weak cf. R. 358e–359b.
Editor’s Note
489ab Since Callicles should not have agreed that the nomoi accepted by the collectively superior party are really just and fine, he has no reason to retract his earlier criticism of Socrates on doing and suffering injustice. Nor does Socrates need this retraction to show that Callicles' claims have been inconsistent.
Editor’s Note
489bc 'hunting after names'. Callicles accuses Socrates of picking on some merely verbal error, and not realizing, as any reasonable person would, how a word was being used; cf. Tht. 166c. Socrates denies that this is his concern; he is not, as Prodicus is, concerned with the meaning and correct use of words, but with their application — whether they were applied to the same property or not; cf. Pr. 337ac, 358a, Ch. 163de, above, 450e, 457c–458b.
Editor’s Note
489c Callicles says that he thinks being superior men (to kreittous einai) and being better men are the same thing; and this is taken to amount to the claim that the better and the superior (neuter adjectives in Greek, not masculine) are the same. It is most plausible to suppose that Plato is concerned with property identity; see 488cd.
Callicles claims correctly that he has identified the better with the superior. He now gives up, and does not admit he ever accepted it, the identification which caused him trouble, of the superior with the stronger. But he needed this identification; his earlier appeal to the facts of nature showed only that the stronger people dominate the weaker, and that is relevant for his argument only if there is some close connection between being stronger and being superior; see 483d. Callicles now tacitly drops his appeal to the facts of collective behaviour in the state of nature. If he no longer identifies the better and the superior with the stronger, he must explain the better some other way.
Why should Callicles deny that what a mob of slaves and inferior men decide automatically becomes 'the rule' (or 'lawful', nomimon)? He certainly seemed to argue at 483bc that their decisions determine what is 'just by rule'. Perhaps he uses 'lawful' to mean 'really lawful', i.e. just, i.e. according to justice by nature, which he called the nomos of nature at 483a, so that being just by law (nomos) does not imply being lawful (nomimon).
Editor’s Note
489e Callicles says that the 'better' (beltious, comparative of agathoi) are the 'worthier' (or 'nobler', ameinous, also used as a comparative of agathoi, and so a near-synonym of beltious). Socrates tells him he is just 'saying names', without making anything clear — simply offering verbal equivalents which do not show what sort of person he is talking about; see 451d. Socrates proposes a further specification of 'nobler' and 'better' as 'wiser', phronimōteroi, and tries to find the relevant kind of wisdom.
Why does Socrates suggest that Callicles had the wiser man in mind? Callicles earlier advised him to acquire a reputation for phronein, wisdom, 486e. Phronimos (abstract noun phronēsis) especially suggests general practical wisdom. While sophia (486b) also includes this, it would be applied more naturally than phronēsis would to knowledge and expertise in particular crafts. Socrates supposes that Callicles is speaking of people with phronēsis — people like Callicles himself, upper-class, well-educated, more capable people, who claim supreme power on that account. Phronēsis is widely valued as a part of political skill and excellence, aretē; cf. Aristoph. Lys. 547, Isoc. 2.14, Adkins (3), 244–6. On phronesis and craft see 495cd.
Editor’s Note
490a 'what I think the just by nature is'. Callicles offers another account of natural justice. But the appeals to nature do not work as they did before. Previously 'nature' showed us what in fact happens apart from what people agree should happen — Callicles mentioned cases where the strongest rule. He cannot appeal to nature to show that the wise always dominate the ignorant. And so what does it mean to say that the rule of the wise is just by nature? Callicles must appeal to something which is 'just by nature' in the sense of 'really just, apart from what people agree on'; it will no longer be just by nature in the other sense, 'what would happen apart from human intervention' (see 482e). This 'justice by nature' must prescribe domination by the wise. Callicles has not yet justified this claim; for his previous appeals to what happens in nature do not support him. When his case is clarified, he loses his apparently 'realistic' arguments. Again contrast Thrasymachus and Thucydides' Athenians; see 483e, 491b.
Socrates, it will eventually appear, agrees with this claim of Callicles', though he does not understand wisdom the same way, and does not advocate the rule of the wise on the same grounds. cf. 490b ff., 504d ff.
Editor’s Note
490b Socrates takes Callicles to mean that if A is wiser than B about Fs, A is entitled to more Fs than B. This general principle is not implied by Callicles' previous remarks. But it is fair for Socrates to look for the principle which is meant to justify the advantages of the wiser. Socrates rightly insists that some justification is needed, that superior wisdom does not by itself self-evidently justify privileges for the wise.
Editor’s Note
490c 'should (cf. 456c) he distribute everything, because he rules …' Socrates suggests that the expert 'rules' or 'has authority' (archei) in his particular area because he has knowledge, and should have the power to distribute because he will know what each person needs, and — Socrates assumes — the proper basis of distribution is need. But this assumption about the authority of the expert will apply only to the crafts which involve knowledge of people's needs — e.g. the doctor may know that you need more food than I need, but the tailor does not necessarily know that you need more coats than I need. Socrates also assumes that the expert can be trusted to be fair, simply because he is an expert. Perhaps the doctor will not eat more than he needs, since he knows it is not good for him and — by the Socratic Paradox — he does only what he thinks good for him. But if he realizes he will make money by taking more food and selling his surplus, how will his medical knowledge prevent him? See further 503d–504a, R. 341c–347a.
Here and in 490e Socrates does not seem to distinguish 'have more', pleon echein, and 'take more' or 'outdo', pleonektein; cf. 483c. But 'getting the advantage', pleonektein, 491a, seems to be the result of getting a larger quantity, pleon echein. Perhaps Socrates argues: superior wisdom gives no claim to have more, pleon echein, and therefore, contrary to Callicles, it gives no claim to advantage, pleonektein. Callicles can fairly reply, 491ab, that he has some other kind of pleonektein in mind than simply having more; but then it is fair to ask why wisdom justifies this.
Socrates does not discuss the right criteria of distributive justice here. But he suggests that the doctor will distribute to each according to his need or according to his ability to use it well — either principle might justify giving more to the sick. The second principle guides the distribution of responsibilities and benefits in the R., e.g. at 433de. While Socrates successfully ridicules Callicles here, he does not show that he has himself adequately considered the questions of distributive justice (see further Feinberg (4)).
Editor’s Note
490de Callicles is especially annoyed because Socrates mentions vulgar, manual crafts (cf. 512c) as parallels to the man with political wisdom. Cf. HMa. 286d, Symp. 221e, Xen. Mem. 1.2.37 (cf. 449d). Socrates has a serious point (cf. 513e–515b, Pr. 319a–320c, Xen. Mem. 1.2.9, Guthrie (1), iii. 409–12). He believes that moral and political wisdom is a craft too — see 505ab; and so he believes that it also confers no automatic title to privilege. See R. 416d–421c.
Editor’s Note
491ab Callicles clarifies his conception of the wise men, so that they are recognizable as the superior men, the aristocrats who were earlier said to be unjustly repressed by democracies. His account of the superior and wise man recalls M. 71e, 73c (derived from Gorgias; cf. Alc. 125b), and so resumes the earlier dispute about the value of the power achieved through rhetoric; cf. 483cd.
Editor’s Note
491b 'about how to govern it well'. Callicles does not say what counts as governing the city well; we should not suppose that he means 'for the benefit of the citizens', since they will include the many whose interests conflict with those of the superior man. More probably, he thinks of someone who is 'good at ruling', in so far as he can keep order and crush or forestall opposition to his rule. See also 504a.
Callicles demands 'courage' and resolution from his wise man; cf. 463a, R. 560cd, Thuc. 3.82.4. For Socrates' and Plato's view see La. 194d ff., R. 442bc, which demand knowledge in a brave man. The next question is whether Callicles' 'brave' men have this knowledge; 495d ff. Courage is contrasted with 'softness', malakia, applied (a) to cowards, Thuc. 6.13, Xen. Hell. 4.5.16; (b) to impractical and spiritless philosophers; Thuc. 2.40.1, R. 410de; (c) to self-indulgent, intemperate people; Hdt. 7.153, Aristoph. Vesp. 1455. Callicles has in mind (a) and perhaps (b); but (c) leads Socrates to raise the question at 491d.
How is it supposed to be just by nature for these wiser and braver men to dominate? Callicles might mean either of these two claims:
(1) If nomoi do not interfere, the braver and wiser will naturally dominate the rest.
(2) Even if this does not naturally happen, there is some reason, which can be found by examining nature, why we should make it happen.
From the start Callicles' argument has conflated these two attitudes to nature; see 482e, 490a. Here the first, 'realistic' claim is not plausible, since the wisest do not always rule in the cities. It is more plausible to rely on (2), and this is the claim Socrates examines.
Editor’s Note
491d1 'it is fitting' (prosēkei). Prosēkein might suggest either (1) or (2) above. See 479e.
Editor’s Note
491d4 The point Socrates professes not to understand is Callicles' reference to ruling; he asks whether the brave man must also rule himself and be self-controlled and temperate. He claims that by 'self-control' he means just what the many mean, referring to some commonly recognized phenomenon. His claim raises two questions: (1) Though Socrates suggests that the many recognize the possibility of self-control, and says in Pr. 352b that they also recognize failures of self-control, it is actually quite hard to find evidence of this view in pre-Platonic Greek. But cf. Antiphon DK 87 B 58, Anon. Iamb. DK 89.4.1, Democritus DK 68 B 214 (if genuine), Eur. Med. 1078, fr. 718, Dodds (2), 186 f., 199, Walsh, ch. 1, Irwin
(3), Dover, 124–6.
(2) Socrates here accepts the common view which conflicts with the Socratic position; contrast 460b, 467c–468c, Pr. 352–357. Controlling and overcoming suggest desires of different strengths, which may not reflect our comparative valuation of their objects. The only conflict allowed by the Socratic Paradox is indecision about what is best, caused by conflict between different considerations; but this conflict would cause hesitation, not the impetuous and demanding desires which a self-controlled man is supposed to restrain. The Pr. suggested, contrary to common belief, that 'being overcome by pleasure' (and so lacking self-control) is only ignorance. If this were Socrates' view here, we would expect him to qualify the common belief in a similar way; but he does not. See 493a, 499e, 505bc, 516c, 522e.
Why is it relevant to introduce questions about self-control and temperance into the argument with Callicles?
(1) Callicles has suggested, as Polus did earlier, that it is a good thing for a superior man to have all he needs to indulge his desires like a tyrant. If in fact someone is better off with restrained desires which will be unaffected by abundant resources, a powerful man may not be better off; for he may not have what is good for him.
(2) Callicles has recognized courage as a virtue of the superior man, and it is fair to ask whether this does not involve some kinds of self-restraint, to prevent action on cowardly desires (see 491b on malakia).
(3) Antiphon B 44 maintains a view of nature and convention rather similar to Callicles' view (see 482e). But in B 58 Antiphon advocates self-control for the agent's benefit (see Guthrie (1), iii. 259 f.). Now Socrates can fairly ask why Callicles and Antiphon should reject conventional justice because it restrains the superior man's desires, and then advocate temperance which involves restraint of desires. If Callicles' reason for rejecting nomos is simply that it restrains desires, he must argue that all restraint of desire is bad for the superior man, and so must reject temperance. If not all restraint is bad for the superior man, then Callicles must show that nomos imposes some restraint which we know, on other grounds, to be bad for him. See 491e–492a, 501ab, 504a.
When Socrates says that the self-controlled man will rule 'the pleasures and appetites, epithumiai, in him', the use of epithumia is puzzling. It can refer to desire in general, and in the earlier Platonic dialogues usually does; see 447b, 520e, Lys. 207e, M. 77b–78b; cf. R. 431b–d. But often it is used for cravings, lusts and especially insistent or irrational desires; cf. Thuc. 2.1.7, 2.52, 6.13, 7.84, Democritus B 234. Some such view is alluded to at Ch. 167e, Pr. 340a. Socrates may intend the more restricted sense of epithumia here, to refer to desires which aim at some pleasure rather than at the agent's good, as the agent conceives it (call these 'good-independent desires'). But it is hard to see how he can recognize good-independent desires consistently with 467c ff. See 493a, 505a–c, 517b.
Editor’s Note
491e 'Sōphrosunē', here translated 'temperance' indicates 'sound mind', i.e. good sense and sagacity in general. Since it is commonly believed that a sound and sensible man will restrain some of his desires, sōphrosunē is often taken to include self-control; and this conception of sōphrosunē is criticized by Callicles. See 507a, C. C. W. Taylor on Pr. 332a7. On sōphrosunē and akolasia see 476a, 477b–e, 478a–d.
Editor’s Note
491e–492a Socrates' reference to self-control provokes Callicles into a statement of the views which explain his opposition to conventional justice and his advocacy of domination by the stronger. His argument is this:
(1) Happiness consists in the full satisfaction of the most and most demanding desires.
(2) Justice and temperance prevent the development and satisfaction of these desires.
(3) The nomoi of the many require justice and temperance.
(4) Therefore the nomoi of the many should be rejected.
Callicles supports his previous claim that the wise men he has mentioned will not be temperate, if temperance requires self-control; for he argues that self-control is foolish. To show this he argues that self-control does not promote my happiness, eudaimonia (see 468b); it is not in my interest, and therefore not a virtue. This is Callicles' reply to Socrates' claims at 470e, 478e. He appeals plausibly to the association between happiness and freedom, eleutheria, reasserting the claim of his way of life to embody freedom, and rebutting Socrates' earlier objections to Polus and Gorgias (see 452d, 465b, 485b–d, R. 344c, Isoc. 7.20). He suggests that happiness requires full desire-satisfaction, and therefore the complete freedom to satisfy desires. A man cannot be happy if he is a slave to anything or anyone, because a slave or anyone under authority is denied free expression of his desires (cf. Lys. 207e). Callicles then infers that self-control inhibits freedom, and therefore prevents the full satisfaction of desires that is required for happiness.
Callicles plausibly denies that if I manage to reduce my wants until all I want is e.g. enough to eat for bare survival, I am happy when I satisfy that want; happiness or welfare (eudaimonia; see 468b) requires a person to reach a certain level of demanding desires, to exercise a reasonable range of his capacities. Callicles then argues that the best development of desires and realization of my capacities requires the development and satisfaction of the 'greatest', i.e. the most extravagant, desires. That is why someone who is to achieve his happiness must have a large conception of the capacities he wants to realize in happiness, the power to realize these capacities, and the resolution, what Callicles calls 'courage', to exercise his power.
How is Callicles' criticism of justice in this passage to be reconciled with his previous advocacy of natural justice? When he spoke of what is just by nature, he did not speak of a virtue or state of character called 'natural justice' opposed to the state of character normally called justice. 'Just' was applied to the social and natural order in which the superior man rules, not to his states of character. Callicles has other names for the relevant states of character — 'courage' and 'wisdom' — and so he keeps 'justice' here for what the many call justice. He can consistently say 'It is just by nature for the superior man to be unjust.' See 483e.
Why must anyone who rejects conventional justice also accept Callicles' conception of a good life, and the resulting attack on temperance? Someone might surely reject particular laws as unjust because, e.g., he rejects the ideal of equality they imply. But Callicles goes further; he rejects nomos in principle when it interferes with the desires of a superior man; and so he needs some reason to claim that such interference is always, everything considered, bad. This reason is derived from the present account of happiness and ways of achieving it. Perhaps Plato believes that someone who rejects nomos and its conception of justice as a whole can justify himself only by advocating the complete self-indulgence supported by Callicles. Plato does not show that Callicles' ground is the only reasonable ground for a general criticism of nomos; it is up to Plato's opponent to find a more defensible ground if Callicles is refuted. See 494ac, 499b, 500ab, 504a.
Editor’s Note
491e Callicles calls for the cultivation of 'desires' or 'appetites', epithumiai. Again, as in 491d, it is not clear how broad the range of epithumia is. Callicles later says that the many 'haven't the power to find fulfilment for their pleasures', 492a; since 'pleasures' here seems equivalent to 'epithumiai' in 491e, pleasure and epithumia seem to be closely associated, as Socrates suggested in 491d. We also ask in English 'What's your pleasure?', meaning 'What do you want?'; and this can make hedonism seem deceptively obvious; see Sidgwick (1), 43 f. cf. 470c, 496e, 504c, 'if it pleases you' (or 'if it is pleasanter for you, ei soi hēdion estin). Callicles suggests here that the superior man will maximize his pleasure in fulfilling his desires, and Socrates exploits the suggestion.
Editor’s Note
492a Callicles assumes that the many are aware of their incapacity to achieve happiness, since they can't achieve it except by harming others with impunity, and they are not strong enough to do that. They over-compensate for their own weakness; they gang up on the superior man, and actually persuade him and themselves that his policy is shameful, trying to transfer the shame from themselves to him (see Nietzsche, cited on 483e above). Callicles returns to the defence of Polus and Gorgias on power; see 488cd.
Editor’s Note
492b 'rule, tyranny, or dynasty'. A dynasty (dunasteia, related to dunamis, 'power'; cf. 479a) is the collective equivalent of tyranny, rule by a group of people without law — this was the kind of regime that took power in Athens in 404, appropriately called the 'Thirty Tyrants'; see Bury-Meiggs, 318–21, Ap. 32cd, 490de above. Callicles, as earlier, keeps in mind the political implications of his position. See above 452d, 466bc, 468e, 474c (Callicles goes beyond Polus' view). On the cowardice of the many cf. 491ab.
Editor’s Note
492b 'At liberty' (exeinai); see 461e.
'set up a master over themselves'. A master (despotēs) has the absolute power of a tyrant, though he may hold it by nomos (e.g. a father's power over a son, or a slave-owner's power over a slave). Callicles suggests that nomos itself is a tyrant over the superior man. Here he turns a common belief on its head. Defenders of government by law and constitution contrast the rule of nomos with the arbitrary will of a tyrant or some other regime with absolute power; cf. Hdt. 7.104.4–5, a deliberate paradox. For Callicles' attitude cf. Critias, DK 88 B 25.5–7, Antiphon B 44 A 3.1–7, Guthrie (1), iii. 68–70. The nomoi try to prevent superior men from following their usual practice of protecting and favouring their friends and allies (philoi), a traditional sign of power and nobility (M. 71e), reflected in the traditional view of virtue as helping friends and harming enemies (R. 332ab, Isoc. 1.26, Eur. Med. 807–10). This was a regular habit in political office; R. 343e, 362c. 'Even though they're rulers in their own city' shows that Callicles thinks of aristocratic office-holders in a democracy; he criticizes them for playing the game and observing democratic rules.
Editor’s Note
492c 'under what justice and temperance count as fine', literally (if the text is sound) 'under the fine of justice and temperance'.
Callicles concludes that luxury, intemperance (or licence, akolasia) and freedom are virtue and happiness. It is generally agreed that happiness involves being able to do what I desire (epithumein; cf. 491e, Lys. 207e); to be able to do what I want to do is to be free (cf. 491e–492a). This freedom seems to require akolasia, which is freedom from restraints or checks (on kolazein see 476a); any of these restraints would make me less able to do what I want, and therefore less happy. In so far as self-control requires frustration of desires, it seems to conflict with my happiness (though it may be necessary, e.g., because of the expected reactions of other people). Here as often, freedom is associated with ruling over others to satisfy one's own desires; cf. 452d. It is equally plausible for Callicles to claim that this way of life is aretē; cf. 457c.
Editor’s Note
492e Both Callicles and Socrates appeal to a conception of eudaimonia as the fulfilment of desire. Socrates now remarks that we can fulfil our desires by reducing them to the level that we can realistically hope to satisfy, and so achieve another desirable goal, self-sufficiency (autarkeia; Lys. 215a, Ar. EN 1097b7). This principle is interpreted ascetically in Xen. Mem. 1.2.14, 1.6, Democritus B 284, Epicurus, KD 15, Lucretius, 5.1118, SVF 3.49, 67, 208. Socrates might claim to satisfy the demand for freedom by the same move; if freedom consists in being able to satisfy the desires I have, then if my desires are undemanding, it is easy for me to be free (cf. Feinberg (2), 6 f.). Callicles' reply is reasonable.
Editor’s Note
492e–493d On the sources of this myth see Dodds, Linforth, Guthrie (2), 161–4.
Editor’s Note
493a 'that of our soul with appetites in it'. It is natural to supplement 'that' with 'part' here and just below; but the Greek does not show whether Socrates thinks of parts, or, more generally, of aspects of the soul. The same question arises in R. 436a–e, 439b–d; cf. Robinson (3), 44. But at least Socrates seems to refer to a subset of desires in anyone's soul, which are particularly developed in the foolish man. He may mean this in speaking of 'appetites' (epithumiai; but cf. 491d). He thinks a subset of the foolish man's desires are intemperate, akolaston, and insatiable — otherwise there would be no reason to say this about only one part of the soul. Though Socrates does not say so, these desires seem to be liable to conflict with other desires; if some desires are insatiable and others are not, conflict is liable to result. Socrates, then, has reason to advocate self-control because some desires are insatiable; Callicles' defence of intemperance allows freedom to insatiable desires, and since we can never satisfy these, we never achieve happiness (cf. 491e–492a).
But is this answer to Callicles consistent with the Socratic Paradox? The intemperate appetites must surely be good-independent. For either the foolish man's good-dependent desires are insatiable in the same way as his appetites are, or they are not. If they are, insatiability does not, as Socrates claims, distinguish the two parts of the soul. If good-dependent desires are not insatiable, they will conflict with insatiable desires, which must then be good-independent. This recognition of good-independent desires is incompatible with the Socratic Paradox (contrast Xen. Mem. 3.9.4–5, Guthrie (1), iii. 454–7, O'Brien, ch. 4). See 499e.
'played on the name'. The passage includes a series of puns, some perhaps etymological. These are taken quite seriously, e.g. at Aesch. Ag. 681–90, Soph. Ajax, 430–3; Plato considers similar things in the Cra.
Editor’s Note
493bc Socrates uses the image of the leaky jar (see Guthrie (2), 163, 190) to suggest that Callicles' advice to cultivate desires is less attractive than it might have seemed. For the desires which are cultivated will be insatiable; the more they are satisfied, the more demanding they will become, requiring further satisfaction creating further desires.
Editor’s Note
494a 'Orderly', kosmios, is more or less equivalent to 'temperate', sōphrōn, the opposite of 'intemperate', akolastos; see 506e–507a.
Editor’s Note
494ab Callicles, like Socrates, believes that desires aim at 'filling' or 'satisfaction'. But Socrates has assumed that happiness consists in a permanent state of being filled — if I could desire and get everything I need all at once and then always remain filled, I would be well off. Callicles justifiably disputes the assumption that the process of filling is valuable only for the result, the state of being filled. He thinks Socrates has left out the important thing, the pleasure which occurs in the process of filling; since pleasure depends on the influx of desire-satisfying elements, it requires the inflowing process to continue; and now the insatiable desire, far from precluding happiness, seems to be a prime source of pleasure, and therefore of happiness. We should not welcome the continence and self-control that restrains intemperate and insatiable desires.
Callicles says, 'living pleasantly is in this …' 'In' is ambiguous between 'consisting in' and 'dependent on'; cf. 470e.
Here the argument shifts from general claims about happiness to specific claims about pleasure. Callicles has already advocated the development of appetites to find the necessary fillings for 'pleasures' (i.e. desires for pleasure; 492a); now he rejects Socrates' well-filled man because such a man lacks any pleasure, and so, for Callicles, is less happy than the intemperate man with a large inflow. This view requires pleasure to be at least the predominant component of happiness, i.e. no other combination of components must ever outweigh the value of pleasure.
Is Plato fair in making Callicles endorse hedonism? Callicles' claims so far are these:
J: Conventional justice should not be observed.
T: Conventional temperance should not be observed.
P: Pleasure is the good.
On J and T see 491e–492a. Plato has now suggested why T needs to be defended by P; if self-control and restraint of desire are mistaken, happiness must depend crucially on the process of satisfying desires; the component of happiness achieved in this process is pleasure; and so pleasure must at least be the predominant component of happiness.
Socrates might answer Callicles in two ways:
(1) He might reject this conception of what pleasure is.
(2) He might deny that pleasure is the good.
These replies are consistent, but only one is needed. Socrates chooses (2). Callicles has raised questions not raised at all in the Pr., about the nature of the process or state of pleasure or enjoyment; is it just the same as the process of filling, or some condition resulting from it? And does this account of pleasure as filling apply to all pleasures, or must different accounts be given of pleasure taken in different objects, e.g. in eating, listening to a symphony, lying in a chair, going for a walk? On pleasure and filling cf. R. 584b–585e, Phil. 34a–35d, 51a–52c, Gosling (1), ad loc., Ar. EN 1152b33–1153a7. On pleasure and processes see Phil. 53c–55a, Gosling ad loc., EN 1173a31–b20, 1174a19–b14, Gosling (3), chs. 3–5. The G. does not pursue any of these questions. Socrates does not challenge Callicles' account of what pleasure is (which does not imply that he accepts it). He thereby leaves open the possibility that a more sophisticated hedonism, with a different conception of pleasure, might avoid Socrates' objections; but then he might ask whether this sophisticated hedonism can defend Callicles' claims J and T.
Editor’s Note
494b The 'torrent-bird', charadrios, is normally identified with the stone-curlew, reputed to excrete as fast as it eats (cf. Dodds). It is named after the streams or torrents (charadra) where it normally lives (see Ar. HA 614b35–615a1); and perhaps its name, as well as its habits, appealed to Plato here.
On these demanding desires see Phil. 45d–47b.
Editor’s Note
494bc Whereas Callicles has previously encouraged us to develop a number of extravagant desires and satisfy them, Socrates suggests that if I have only one demanding desire for a very trivial satisfaction, such as scratching, and I can satisfy that without limit, then I have the enjoyment sufficient for happiness. Why should Callicles accept this apparently important alteration in his position? Socrates forces him to say what he meant by 'all desires'; does he mean:
(a) we should cultivate a variety of desires; or
(b) it doesn't matter which desire we cultivate, as long as we cultivate and satisfy it intensely?
Socrates suggests that Callicles means (b), and 494b suggested that too. Should Callicles have chosen (a)? It might have been a more plausible position; but it would not have supported T (see 494ab); for the cultivation of a variety of desires may require order and self-control, which Callicles rejects. The more extreme position (b) is needed to justify the rejection of that self-control which inhibits some intense desires and satisfactions. cf. 491e, 499b.
Editor’s Note
494c 'The power to fill them and enjoy it' (dunamenon plēroun chaironta). Though the Greek is unclear, Callicles seems to mean that what I enjoy is the process of filling; this explains why the successions of emptying and filling are necessary for happiness.
Editor’s Note
494d 'and if pleasantly, then happily?' Callicles agrees that pleasure is sufficient for happiness. He has already insisted, 494a, that it is necessary.
Editor’s Note
494e4 'when these all come to a head' or 'the conclusion (kephalaion) of these'. Socrates plays on kephalaion ('conclusion, summary') and kephalē ('head'), used in e1.
Editor’s Note
494e–495a Socrates sometimes appears to be asking questions of this form:
(1) Does my pleasure, e.g. in this meal or this piece of music, make me happy?
This is a normal use of 'happy' in English, but not a normal use of eudaimōn in Greek (nor the normal use of e.g. 'the pursuit of happiness', which is closer to the Greek view). To be eudaimōn is to be well off, to be a happy person living a happy life, and I can hardly decide that from looking at a single action (cf. Ar. EN 1098a17–19). This is the point of phrases like 'the life of a curlew', 'the life of catamites', 'continuing to scratch all your life'. In the first two phrases 'life', bios, refers to a whole way of life, not just to particular episodes of living (cf. 486d; Jaeger, ii.46, 'human existence regarded not as the mere lapse of time, but as a clear and comprehensible unity, a deliberately shaped life-pattern'; Cooper, 160), as in the two 'lives' contrasted in 485a ff.; Socrates suggests that the unattractive lives mentioned here are the logical result of the life Callicles advocated there. And so Socrates is asking, not (1), but (2) Does my having more pleasure than pain over my life as a whole make my life a happy one?
Editor’s Note
495a Socrates asks Callicles whether he thinks
(a) 'the same thing is pleasant and good', to auto hēdu kai agathon; or
(b) 'there is something of pleasant things which is not good', einai ti tōn hēdeōn ho ouk estin agathon.
'Something' might mean 'some part', i.e. some subset (cf. 488cd). In that case Socrates will be asking whether 'pleasant' and 'good' are coextensive, so that something is pleasant if and only if it is good. We might also take (a) to mean this. But it is idiomatic in Greek to omit definite articles after 'to be', so that (a) might be asking whether the pleasant and the good are the same thing, i.e. whether the property of being pleasant and the property of being good are the same property. If 'pleasant' and 'good' are merely coextensive, Callicles might be right to say that someone who pursues pleasure will always achieve the good, but still might not have explained what someone aims at in aiming at the good, or what makes it good. But he has implied that the pleasure in a life is what makes it a good life over all; to justify this claim he should assert (a), as a claim about property-identity, which would not involve the implausible claim that 'pleasant' and 'good' mean the same. See 465a, 488cd, Pr. 354a–c, C. C. W. Taylor, on 355c1–5, Irwin, 104.
Socrates says that Callicles does not distinguish good from bad pleasures, but advocates the pursuit of all alike. But Callicles could easily distinguish good pleasures, those which offer more pleasure, from bad ones, those which offer less; if I enjoy eating steak more than I enjoy ice cream, then the pleasure of eating steak is apparently a better pleasure, because more pleasant, than the pleasure of eating ice cream. Socrates should not deny that Callicles can distinguish pleasures this way. He should say that Callicles cannot distinguish them on any other test apart from their yield of pleasure. Here Callicles seems to agree with the position of Socrates in Pr. 351b–e; see C. C. W. Taylor ad loc.
Editor’s Note
495b3 'blessed man'. On 'blessed', makarios, see 472d. This is a conventional form of address, but here it may have ironical point, when Callicles' conception of happiness and blessedness is being examined; cf. 'excellent man', 494c3, and 'you're a happy man' (i.e. 'you're lucky'), 497c3.
Editor’s Note
495cd Socrates returns to Callicles' previous claim that a brave man is wise, phronimos, and now assumes that he has knowledge, epistēmē. This move may be controversial. In speaking of phronēsis Callicles was thinking of practical common sense and sagacity, not necessarily expressed in a formal body of knowledge, epistēmē, which Socrates identifies with a craft, technē; see 459e. But Socrates might ask how a claim to wisdom is to be justified, except by some theoretical knowledge — which he identifies with a craft.
The argument returns to the earlier question about rhetoric and genuine knowledge. Callicles accepts two virtues accepted by Socrates, wisdom and courage (though he has a different view of brave and wise actions), and rejects two others, temperance and justice. Socrates argues that Callicles cannot accept the first pair without accepting the second pair.
Socrates again says that Callicles believes that 'the same thing is pleasant and good'; this might imply only coextensiveness of the two terms. But then Callicles is said to believe that knowledge and courage are different from each other and from the good, while the pleasant is not different from the good. Callicles is taken to believe that the pleasant and the good are the same, i.e. that pleasantness and goodness are the same property. Sometimes the argument mentions (1) pleasure (hēdonē, abstract noun) and the good (to agathon, neuter adjective functioning, as is common in Greek, as an abstract noun), as in 'the good for horses', i.e. what is good for horses, the condition in which they are well off. Sometimes it mentions (2) the pleasant (to hēdu, adjective) and the good (to agathon, adjective), as in 'a good meal'. The abstract nouns designate the goal, the adjectives the states of affairs that promote the goal.
The hedonist position gives an account of both (1) and (2):
(1) The final good is pleasure, i.e. someone is happy when he has pleasure on the whole, i.e. when he has a large surplus of pleasure over pain.
(2) The goodness of an action or condition is its tendency to promote the good, i.e. the final good; since the final good is over-all pleasure, the goodness of an action is its pleasantness, i.e. its tendency to promote over-all pleasure.
Usually we say that an action or condition is pleasant if it is a source of pleasure by itself; in this sense it may be pleasant to eat a quart of ice cream, but it is painful to have a tooth filled because it is a source of pain by itself. Now (1) and (2) do not justify our tendency to call such an action pleasant without qualification. If my ice cream eating causes more pain than pleasure on the whole (because it gives me stomach-ache tomorrow, or makes me painfully overweight in the future), it is painful, while the tooth-filling may be both good and pleasant, when the consequences are considered. While we often use 'good' this way, to include good consequences, we do not so often use 'pleasant' this way. On 'good' and 'pleasant' see Pr. 353c–354e.
Callicles agrees that
(a) Courage and knowledge are different from the good.
(b) Courage and knowledge are different from each other.
(c) Pleasure is the same as the good.
Socrates clearly means to reject (c). It would be natural for Callicles, as for most people, to accept (b). If courage is the high spirit and resolution making us fulfil our purposes (491b), it might be present even in a foolish man. Callicles' superior man needs both courage and wisdom if he is to have the right aims for himself. Socrates has already assumed the identity of courage and wisdom (477e), and Callicles' conception of courage denies the identity. Socrates rejects (b) at 507b. It is harder to see whether Socrates rejects (a). Callicles has not claimed, and (a) does not say, that courage and knowledge are not good. To reject (a) Socrates would need to show that being brave and wise is a part of, not merely a means to, happiness. But he never shows this in the G.; see 507c.
Editor’s Note
495e1 'Nor Callicles either'. We might supply a verb in the present tense (the tense of the previous verb) or in the future. The tense and mood of 'whenever he views' (the aorist subjunctive, hotan theasētai) allow, as does 'whenever …' in English, either a present or a future supposition. Socrates has previously suggested that Polus himself does not agree with what Polus himself is now saying, because his better-entrenched beliefs are inconsistent with it; see 461e. The point here may be the same.
Editor’s Note
495e–496a First Socrates makes Callicles admit that doing well and doing badly are opposites, like health and sickness, which cannot be compresent in the same thing; then he illustrates his point with examples from parts of the body, which shows what he means by 'in the same thing', i.e. in the same part.
'Pleasant' and 'painful' translate hēdu and aniaron, and 'pleasure' translates hēdonē. 'Enjoyment' and 'distress' and cognates translate chairein and lupeisthai and cognates. Socrates uses no abstract noun derived from chairein; hēdonē is the only corresponding abstract noun. It is hard to see any significant difference between the members of each of the pleasure-pain pairs.
Editor’s Note
496b–e The argument proceeds as follows:
(1) Doing well and doing badly are opposites.
(2) Opposites cannot be compresent in the same thing.
(3) Therefore doing well and doing badly cannot be compresent in the same thing.
(4) An appetite, e.g. thirst, is painful.
(5) Drinking when we are thirsty is pleasant.
(6) In drinking when we are thirsty we have pleasure and pain at the same time.
(7) Therefore pain and pleasure can be compresent in the same thing.
(8) Therefore having pain and having pleasure are not the same as doing well and doing badly.
There is no reason to reject the claim in (6); contrast Adkins (3) 280n., answered by Guthrie (1), iv. 291n. We might say that what is pleasant, strictly speaking, is not just 'drinking', but 'drinking-when-thirsty'; if we say this, we prevent Socrates from substituting 'pleasure when in pain' 'for drinking when thirsty'. But then we must also agree with him that 'drinking when thirsty when thirsty is pleasant' is true, though redundant; and if 'pleasure' is substituted here for 'drinking when thirsty', Socrates can still say 'pleasure when in pain is pleasant'. His substitutions are legitimate. But do they show that pleasure and pain can be compresent 'in the same thing' in the relevant way? If I am healthy and sick, I am healthy in one part or aspect and sick in another. Why might we not also say that I enjoy in one part and feel pain in another? Apparently we can treat pleasure and pain as ordinary opposites satisfying (2). (On a similar question about 'parts' in R. iv see above on 493a.)
But even apart from this difficulty, what does Socrates' conclusion prove? He shows that I can have some pleasure and some pain together. But equally I can in some ways be well off and in other ways be badly off at the same time. I cannot be well off over all and badly off over all at the same time; but neither can I be having pleasure over all (i.e. having more pleasure than pain) and having pain over all at the same time. Socrates does not show that having pleasure and pain over all are different from being well off and being badly off over all; see Crombie (1), i.247. Socrates' argument has ignored the distinction in the use of 'pleasure' mentioned at 495de. It does not follow that Plato is unaware of the distinction; for he does not rely heavily on this argument, but begins another at 497e. Perhaps it is only a preliminary argument, making clear how the hedonist position must be understood.
Editor’s Note
496d 'every lack and appetite'. The scope of 'appetite', epithumia, is not clear; see on 493a. If it includes all desire, Socrates means that it all involves the filling of some gap or 'lack'; but if it includes only the good-independent subset of desires, not all desire need involve emptying and filling. Cf. R. 584bc, Phil. 51a–52c.
Editor’s Note
496e 'and drinking is a filling of the lack and a pleasure?' 'Pleasure' here is apparently a source of pleasure, rather than the pleasure associated with it. Callicles' previous remarks have not shown how pleasure is associated with the process of drinking — whether it just is the process of replenishment, or is some psychic state associated with it. Nor is it clear whether the replenishment is a purely physical, or a psychic, process (cf. Phil. 31d–35a). It is common enough, in any case, to describe an activity, as well as its resultant pleasure, as 'a pleasure'; e.g. Mill, ch. iv, calls music a pleasure; see also Kenny, 127. On pleasure see 491e, 499e; on pleasure and sensations see Ryle (2), ch. 4, Gosling (3), chs. 3–5.
Editor’s Note
497ac Callicles resorts to abuse (cf. Ar. Top. 160b10–13, 161a21–4) and objects to the dialectical refutation; see 453bc, 457e–458d, 461bc, 482de.
Editor’s Note
497e 'Don't you call good men good by the presence of goods (agatha, neuter plural adjective), just as you call beautiful those to whom beauty (kallos, noun) is present?' Expressions of the form 'The F is present to x' or F-ness (abstract noun) is present to x' are standard ways of saying that x is F, that F is predicated of x; cf. Lys. 217c–e, Ch. 158e. The idiom itself presupposes no definite ontological doctrine (cf. Aesch. Pers. 391, Soph. Ant. 254). It fits neatly into Socrates' ontology — however explicit this may be — which makes 'the F' and 'F-ness' refer to a constituent of the F thing; the pious in Socrates, or piety in Socrates, is some state of his soul, what is pious about him; see Penner (2), 44–9. Similar idioms are used in later dialogues to express the relation of separated Forms to particulars (e.g. Phd. 100d); but the idioms themselves do not require any doctrine of separated Forms; see Vlastos (2), 35 f., Guthrie (1), iv. 307.
Socrates suggests that just as x is beautiful by the presence of beauty, so x is good by the presence of goods; and since, on Callicles' view, pleasures are goods, a man who has pleasures will be a good man. Callicles might object:
(1) The presence of F in x is not always sufficient to make x F; cf. Lys. 217c–e. And so the presence of pleasures need not be sufficient to make x good.
(2) Socrates might reply that x is good in so far as x has goods present, so that the more pleasure x has the better x is (cf. Phil. 55b). Callicles might deny the parallel between 'beautiful man' and 'good man'. He can accept both (a) x is well off by the presence of intrinsic goods, and (b) x is good, i.e. virtuous, by the presence of virtue (506d), an instrumental, not an intrinsic, good. Socrates' illegitimate combination of (a) and (b) causes trouble for Callicles.
Callicles should maintain (2), and rely on Gorgias' definition of virtue as power; cf. 452d. If virtue is the power to acquire pleasure, I am not virtuous just because I stumble on some pleasure. How well does the rest of Socrates' argument work if Callicles' position is understood this way?
Editor’s Note
497e–498c Callicles now agrees that sometimes cowards have greater pains, and greater pleasures, than brave men have. The greater pains are relevant because they have previously agreed that to gain large pleasures, we must have large gaps to be filled, and therefore large pains; and so the coward seems more capable of maximum pleasure than the brave man is.
Editor’s Note
499ab Socrates' argument is illegitimate for the reasons noticed on 497e. But suppose he had begun with what Callicles could fairly be expected to admit; how effective would his argument have been? He would have had to claim that the coward is no less capable of securing pleasure for himself than the brave man, and is therefore just as wise, on Callicles' view of wisdom. Callicles might deny this, and say that though the coward may have episodes of pleasure more intense than the brave man's, still it is the brave man who on the whole has the knowledge to maximize his over-all pleasure in life; cf. 496bc.
But this defence would cause trouble for Callicles:
(1) Suppose that the brave man enjoys more pleasure over all, even though on particular occasions he may have less intense episodes of pleasure. In that case the way to maximize pleasure may not be Callicles' way, to make episodes of pleasure as intense as possible; and then Callicles loses his argument for an uncontrolled life devoted to intense present satisfaction.
(2) Socrates might reject the claim that the brave man is a more successful long-term pleasure-seeker than the coward. For how do we know that the coward will not achieve more and more intense pleasures which may seem to him to outweigh the increased pain he suffers? Indeed, this seems very likely for the pleasures advocated by Callicles. Since they can be maximized only by maximizing the pains which they remove, surely the coward alternating between severe pain and huge relief is best equipped to maximize pleasure? The claim that Callicles' preferred types of pleasure will be maximized by prudent planning is not easy to defend. If this is Socrates' reply, it is a general challenge to hedonism, including the doctrine of the Pr., which defended courage as a virtue because it maximized the agent's over-all pleasure, 359c–360a. Socrates must now deny that there is any purely hedonistic reaosn for valuing bravery over cowardice. Since hedonism advocates the maximization of pleasures, it cannot reject the maximization of Calliclean pleasures; and if they are not best maximized by prudent planning, hedonism cannot justify prudent planning, and therefore cannot show that courage is a virtue.
The argument so far makes (2) the better reply to Callicles. If we agree that the maximum surplus of any pleasure is the good, as Callicles claims, then the Pr.'s assumption that the normal virtues of courage and temperance maximize pleasure is questionable. The argument here tends to undermine the hedonism of the Pr. Contrast Guthrie (1), iv. 203 f., Shorey (1), 24–7.
These possibilities about the G. and the Pr. remain open:
(a) Plato would appeal to (1) above, to show that Callicles' preferred life does not maximize pleasure; this appeal would rely on the hedonist doctrine of the Pr. (cf. 465a). Nothing follows about the relative date of the dialogues.
(b) Plato believes when h