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What potion of the kind can we mention, Stranger, as existing anywhere?Athenian
There is none. Supposing, however, that there had been one, would it have been of any service to the lawgiver for promoting courage? For instance, we might quite well have addressed him concerning it in this wise: “Come now, O lawgiver,—whether it be Cretans you are legislating for [648b] or anyone else, would not your first desire be to have a test of courage and of cowardice which you might apply to your citizens?”Clinias
Obviously everyone of them would say “Yes.”Athenian
“And would you desire a test that was safe and free from serious risks, or the reverse?”Clinias
All will agree, also, that the test must be safe.Athenian
“And would you utilize the test by bringing men into these fears and proving them while thus affected, so as to compel them to become fearless; employing exhortations admonitions and rewards,— [648c] but degradation for all those that refused to conform wholly to the character you prescribed? And would you acquit without penalty everyone who had trained himself manfully and well, but impose a penalty on everyone who had done so badly? Or would you totally refuse to employ the potion as a test, although you have no objection to it on other grounds?”Clinias
Of course he would employ it, Stranger.Athenian
At any rate, my friend, the training involved would be wonderfully simple, as compared with our present methods, whether it were applied to individuals singly, or to small groups, [648d] or to groups ever so large. Suppose, then, that a man, actuated by a feeling of shame and loth to show himself in public before he was in the best of condition, should remain alone by himself while undergoing this training against fears and relying on the potion alone for his solitary equipment, instead of endless exercises,—he would be acting quite rightly: so too would he who, trusting in himself that by nature and practice he is already well equipped, should have no hesitation in training in company with a number of drinking companions and showing off how for speed and strength he is superior to the potency of the draughts he is obliged to drink, [648e] with the result that because of his excellence he neither commits any grave impropriety nor loses his head, and who, before they came to the last round, should quit the company, through fear of the defeat inflicted on all men by the wine-cup.Clinias
Yes, Stranger, this man too would be acting temperately.
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