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[328a] “that you haven't heard that there is to be a torchlight race1 this evening on horseback in honor of the Goddess?” “On horseback?” said I. “That is a new idea. Will they carry torches and pass them along to one another as they race with the horses, or how do you mean?” “That's the way of it,” said Polemarchus, “and, besides, there is to be a night festival which will be worth seeing. For after dinner we will get up2 and go out and see the sights and meet a lot of the lads there and have good talk. So stay [328b] and do as we ask.”3“It looks as if we should have to stay,” said Glaucon. “Well,” said I, “if it so be, so be it.”

So we went with them to Polemarchus's house, and there we found Lysias and Euthydemus, the brothers of Polemarchus, yes, and4 Thrasymachus, too, of Chalcedon, and Charmantides of the deme of Paeania, and Kleitophon the son of Aristonymus. And the father of Polemarchus, Cephalus, was also at home.

And I thought him much aged, [328c] for it was a long time since I had seen him. He was sitting on a sort of couch with cushions and he had a chaplet5 on his head, for he had just finished sacrificing in the court. So we went and sat down beside him, for there were seats there disposed in a circle.6 As soon as he saw me Cephalus greeted me and said, “You are not a very frequent7 visitor, Socrates. You don't often come down to the Peiraeus to see us. That is not right. For if I were still able to make the journey up to town easily there would be no need of your resorting hither, [328d] but we would go to visit you. But as it is you should not space too widely your visits here. For I would have you know that, for my part, as the satisfactions of the body decay,8 in the same measure my desire for the pleasures of good talk and my delight in them increase. Don't refuse then, but be yourself a companion to these lads and make our house your resort and regard us as your very good friends and intimates.” “Why, yes, Cephalus,” said I, “and I enjoy talking with the very aged. [328e] For to my thinking we have to learn of them as it were from wayfarers9 who have preceded us on a road on which we too, it may be, must some time fare—what10 it is like—is it rough11 and hard going or easy and pleasant to travel. And so now I would fain learn of you what you think of this thing, now that your time has come to it, the thing that the poets call ‘the threshold12 of old age.’ Is it a hard part of life to bear or what report have you to make of it?”

“Yes, indeed, Socrates,” he said, “I will tell you my own feeling about it.

1 See Sterrett in AJP xxii. p. 393. “The torch was passed down the lines which competed as wholes. For the metaphorical transmission of the torch of life cf. Plato, Laws, 776 B, Lucretius ii. 79.

2 Rise from the table. This is forgotten.

3 In “American,” the colloquial Greek means “be a sport.”

4 The particles single out Thrasymachus for ironical emphasis. Proclus in Tim. 3 E preserves them in his enumeration of the dramatis personae.

5 A companion picture to the fair vision of the youthful Lysis (Lysis, 207 A). The wreath was worn at the sacrifice.

6 For the seats compare Protagoras 317 D-E, Cicero Laelius 1. 2 “in hemicyclio sedentem.”

7 The language recalls the Homeric formula,πάρος γε μὲν οὔτι θαμίζεις, Iliad xviii. 386, Odyssey v. 88, Jebb on O.C. 672. Cephalus' friendly urgency to Socrates is in the tone of Laches 181 C.

8 Plato characteristically contrasts the transitory pleasures of the body with the enduring joys of the mind. Phaedrus 258 E. Anaximenes imitates and expands the passage, Stobaeus, 117. 5. Pleasures are not strictly speaking “of” the body, but “in” or “relating to” it. See my Unity of Plato's Thought, p. 45.

9 Much of this passage, including the comparison of old men to travellers, is copied by Cicero, De sen. 3 ff.

10 Cf. Horace, Epistles i. 11 “Quid tibi visa Chios?” The vague neuter and the slight anacoluthon give a colloquial turn to the sentence.

11 Hesiod, Works and Days 290, says that the path of virtue is rough at first and then grows easy.

12 This, whatever its precise meaning, was a familiar phrase like our “One foot in the grave.” Cf. Leaf on Iliad xxii. 60, xxiv 487; Hyperides (i. xx. 13) employs it without apology in prose.

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