previous next
[732a] bound always to value what is his own more than what is true; for the man who is to attain the title of “Great” must be devoted neither to himself nor to his own belongings, but to things just, whether they happen to be actions of his own or rather those of another man. And it is from this same sin that every man has derived the further notion that his own folly is wisdom; whence it comes about that though we know practically nothing, we fancy that we know everything; and since we will not entrust to others the doing of things we do not understand, [732b] we necessarily go wrong in doing them ourselves. Wherefore every man must shun excessive self-love, and ever follow after him that is better than himself, allowing no shame to prevent him from so doing. Precepts that are less important than these and oftentimes repeated—but no less profitable—a man should repeat to himself by way of reminder; for where there is a constant efflux, there must also be a corresponding influx, and when wisdom flows away, the proper influx consists in recollection;1 [732c] wherefore men must be restrained from untimely laughter and tears,2 and every individual, as well as the whole State, must charge every man to try to conceal all show of extreme joy or sorrow, and to behave himself seemly, alike in good fortune and in evil, according as each man's Genius3 ranges itself,—hoping always that God will diminish the troubles that fall upon them by the blessings which he bestows, and will change for the better [732d] the present evils; and as to their blessings, hoping that they, contrariwise, will, with the help of good fortune, be increased. In these hopes, and in the recollections of all these truths, it behoves every man to live, sparing no pains, but constantly recalling them clearly to the recollection both of himself and of his neighbor, alike when at work and when at play. Thus, as regards the right character of institutions [732e] and the right character of individuals, we have now laid down practically all the rules that are of divine sanction. Those that are of human origin we have not stated as yet, but state them we must; for our converse is with men, not gods. Pleasures, pains and desires are by nature especially human; and from these, of necessity, every mortal creature is, so to say, suspended and dependent by the strongest cords of influence. Thus one should commend the noblest life, not merely because it is of superior fashion in respect of fair repute,

1 Cp.Plat. Phileb. 33e ff.

2 Cp.Plat. Rep. 388e f., Plat. Rep. 606c ff.

3 i.e. divine controlling force, or destiny.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: