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[378b] Adeimantus, in our city, nor is it to be said in the hearing of a young man, that in doing the utmost wrong he would do nothing to surprise anybody, nor again in punishing his father's1 wrong-doings to the limit, but would only be following the example of the first and greatest of the gods.2” “No, by heaven,” said he, “I do not myself think that they are fit to be told.” “Neither must we admit at all,” said I, “that gods war with gods3 and plot against one another and contend—for it is not true either—

1 Plato does not sympathize with the Samuel Butlers of his day.

2 The argument, whether used in jest or earnest, was a commonplace. Cf. Schmidt, Ethik der Griechen, i. 137, Laws 941 B, Aeschylus Eumenides 640-641, Terence Eunuchus 590 “At quem deum! . . . ego homuncio hoc non facerem.” The Neoplatonists met the criticism of Plato and the Christian Fathers by allegorizing or refining away the immoral parts of the mythology, but St. Augustine cleverly retorts (De Civ. Dei, ii. 7): “Omnes enim . . . cultores talium deorum . . . magis intuentur quid Iupiter fecerit quam quid docuerit Plato.”

3 Cf. the protest in the Euthyphro 6 B, beautifully translated by Ruskin, Aratra Pentelici 107: “And think you that there is verily war with each other among the gods? And dreadful enmities and battles, such as the poets have told, and such as our painters set forth in graven sculpture to adorn all our sacred rites and holy places. Yes, and in the great Panathenaia themselves the Peplus full of such wild picturing, is carried up into the Acropolis—shall we say that these things are true, oh Euthyphron, right-minded friend?”

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