he does not then by his gifts pay honor to his soul,—far from it, in sooth!—for what is honorable therein and noble he is bartering away for a handful of gold; yet all the gold on earth, or under it, does not equal the price of goodness. To speak shortly:—in respect of the things which the lawgiver enumerates and describes as either, on the one hand, base and evil, or, on the other hand, noble and good, if any man refuses to avoid by every means the one kind, and with all his power to practise the other kind,—such a man knows not that
everyone who acts thus is treating most dishonorably and most disgracefully that most divine of things, his soul. Hardly anyone takes account of the greatest “judgment” (as men call it) upon evil-doing; that greatest judgment is this,—to grow like unto men that are wicked, and, in so growing, to shun good men and good counsels and cut oneself off from them,1
but to cleave to the company of the wicked and follow after them; and he that is joined to such men inevitably acts and is acted upon in the way that such men bid one another to act.
Now such a resultant condition is not a “judgment” (for justice and judgment are things honorable) , but a punishment, an infliction that follows on injustice; both he that undergoes this and he that undergoes it not are alike wretched,—the one in that he remains uncured, the other in that he is destroyed in order to secure the salvation of many others.2
Thus we declare that honor, speaking generally, consists in following the better, and in doing our utmost to effect the betterment of the worse, when it admits of being bettered. Man has no possession better fitted by nature than the soul for
the avoidance of evil and the tracking and taking of what is best of all, and living in fellowship therewith, when he has taken it, for all his life thereafter. Wherefore the soul is put second3
in order of honor; as for the third, everyone would conceive that this place naturally belongs to the honor due to the body. But here again one has to investigate the various forms of honor,—which of them are genuine, which spurious; and this is the lawgiver's task. Now he, as I suppose, declares that the honors are these and of these kinds:—the honorable body is not the fair body nor the strong nor
the swift nor the large, nor yet the body that is sound in health, although this is what many believe; neither is it a body of the opposite kind to any of these; rather those bodies which hold the mean position between all these opposite extremes are by far the most temperate and stable; for while the one extreme makes the souls puffed up and proud, the other makes them lowly and spiritless. The same holds good of the possession of goods and chattels, and they are to be valued on a similar scale. In each case, when they are in excess,