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“Tell me, then, you the inheritor of the argument, what it is that you affirm that Simonides says and rightly says about justice.” “That it is just,” he replied, “to render to each his due.1 In saying this I think he speaks well.” “I must admit,” said I, “that it is not easy to disbelieve Simonides. For he is a wise and inspired man.2 But just what he may mean by this you, Polemarchus, doubtless know, but I do not. Obviously he does not mean what we were just speaking of, this return of a deposit3 to anyone whatsoever even if he asks it back when not in his right mind. And yet what the man deposited

1 The defintion is not found in the fragments of Simonides. Cf. 433 E, and the Roman Jurists' “Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas suum cuique tribuens.” For the various meanings of the Greek word cf. my Articles “Righteousness” and “Theognis” in Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics.

2 The Platonic Socrates ironically treats the poets as inspired but not wise because they cannot explain their fine sayings.Apology 22 A-B, Ion 542 A. He always assumes that the utterances of the “wise” men must be true.Theaetetus 152 B, Phaedrus 260 A, Laws 888 E, Euthydemus 280 A. But they are often obscure, and he reserves for himself the right of interpretation (335 E). Since the poets contradict one another and cannot be cross-examined they are not to be taken seriously as authorities.Protagoras 347 E, Meno 71 D, Lysis 214-215, Hippias Minor 365 D.

3 Owing to the rarity of banks “reddere depositum” was throughout antiquity the typical instance of just conduct. Cf. 442 E, Mayor on Juvenal Satire 13. 15, Herodotus. vi. 86, Democr. fr. 265 Diels, Philo, De spec. leg. 4. 67. Salt was a symbol of justice because it preserves παραλαμβάνει: Diogenes Laertius viii. 35. Earth is “iustissima tellus” because she returns the seed with interest. Socrates' distinction between the fact of returning a deposit, and returning it rightly is expressed in Stoic terminology: “ut si iuste depositum reddere in recte factis sit, in officiis ponatur depositum reddere,” Cicero De fin. iii. 18.

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