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[426a] “By all means.” And truly,” said I, “these latter go on in a most charming1 fashion. For with all their doctoring they accomplish nothing except to complicate and augment their maladies. And2 they are always hoping that some one will recommend a panacea that will restore their health.” “A perfect description,” he said, “of the state of such invalids.” “And isn't this a charming trait in them, that they hate most in all the world him who tells them the truth that until a man stops drinking and gorging and wenching [426b] and idling, neither drugs3 nor cautery nor the knife, no, nor spells nor periapts4 will be of any avail?” “Not altogether charming,” he said, “for there is no grace or charm in being angry5 with him who speaks well.” “You do not seem to be an admirer6 of such people,” said I. “No, by heaven, I am not.”

“Neither then, if an entire city,7 as we were just now saying, acts in this way, will it have your approval, or don't you think that the way of such invalids is precisely that of those cities [426c] which being badly governed forewarn their citizens not to meddle8 with the general constitution of the state, denouncing death to whosoever attempts that—while whoever most agreeably serves9 them governed as they are and who curries favor with them by fawning upon them and anticipating their desires and by his cleverness in gratifying them, him they will account the good man, the man wise in worthwhile things,10 the man they will delight to honor?” “Yes,” he said, “I think their conduct is identical, and I don't approve it in the very least.” [426d] “And what again of those who are willing and eager to serve11 such states? Don't you admire their valiance and light-hearted irresponsibility12?” “I do,” he said, “except those who are actually deluded and suppose themselves to be in truth statesmen13 because they are praised by the many.” “What do you mean? “Can't you make allowances14 for the men? Do you think it possible for a man who does not know how to measure when a multitude of others equally ignorant assure him that he is four cubits tall [426e] not to suppose this to be the fact about himself?” “Why no,15” he said, “I don't think that.” “Then don't be harsh with them. For surely such fellows are the most charming spectacle in the world when they enact and amend such laws as we just now described and are perpetually expecting to find a way of putting an end to frauds in business and in the other matters of which I was speaking because they can't see that they are in very truth16 trying to cut off a Hydra's head.”

1 Ironical. Quite fanciful is Dümmler's supposition (Kleine Schriften, i, p. 99) that this passage was meant as destructive criticism of Isocrates Panegyricus and that Antidosis 62 is a reply. Plato is obviously thinking of practical politicians rather than of Isocrates.

2 πλήν γε etc., is loosely elliptical, but emendations are superfluous.

3 For the list cf. Pindar, Pyth. iii. 50-54.οὐδ᾽ αὖ emphasizes the transition to superstitious remedies in which Plato doesn't really believe. Cf. his rationalizing interpretations of ἐπῳδαί, Charmides 157 A, Theaetetus 149 C.Laws 933 A-B is to be interpreted in the spirit of the observation in Selden's Table Talk: “The law against witches does not prove that there be any but it punishes the malice,” etc. [Demosthenes] xxv. 80 is sceptical.

4 Cf. any lexicon, Shakespeare 1 Henry VI. v. iii. 2 “Now help, ye charming spells and periapts,” and Plutarch's story of the women who hung them on Pericles' neck on his death-bed.

5 Cf. 480 A, 354 A.

6 The noun is more forcible than the verb would be. Cf. Protagoras 309 Aἐπαινέτης.

7 We return from the illustration to its application to the state.

8 Cf. 497 B, Aristotle Politics 1301 b 11. Cf. the obvious imitation in the (probably spurious)Epistle vii. 330 E. For the thought, from the point of view of an enemy of democracy, cf. the statement in [Xenophon]Rep. Ath. 3. 9, that the faults of Athens cannot be corrected while she remains a democracy. The Athenians naturally guarded their constitution and viewed with equal suspicion the idealistic reformer and the oligarchical reactionary.

9 Cf. , p. 65 note d, and Laws 923 B. The phraseology here recalls Gorgias 517 B, Aristophanes Knights 46-63. Cf. “Plato's Laws and the Unity of Plato's Thought,”Class Phil. vol. ix. (Oct. 1914) p. 363, n. 3.

10 Almost technical. Cf. 538 B.

11 Here “serve,” not “flatter.”

12 This word εὐχέρεια is often misunderstood by lexicons and commentators. It is of course not “dexterity” (L. and S.) nor yet probably “complaisance,” nor yet “humanitas” or “Gutmütigkeit” as Adam and Schneider think. It expresses rather the light-heartedness with which such politicians rush in where wiser men fear to tread, which is akin to the lightness with which men plunge into crime. Cf. Laws 690 Dτῶν ἐπὶ νόμων θέσιν ἰόντων ῥᾳδίως and 969ἀνδρειότατος. Plato's political physician makes “come out of that” a precondition of his treatment. Cf. Laws 736-737, Politicus 299 A-B, 501 A, 540 E, Epistle vii. 330 C-D, and the story in Aelian. V.H. ii. 42. of Plato's refusal to legislate for the Arcadians because they would not accept an equalization of property.

13 Cf. Euthyphro 2 C-D, Gorgias 513 B, Politicus 275 C and 292 D.

14 Plato often condescendingly and half ironically pardons psychologically inevitable errors. Cf. 366 C, Phaedrus 269 B, Euthydemus 306 C.

15 For οὐκ αὖ cf. 393 D, 442 A, Theaetetus 161 A, Class. Phil. vol. xxiii. pp. 285-287.ἔγωγε above concurs with ἄγασαι, ignoring the irony.πλήν γε etc. marks dissent on one point. This dissent is challenged, and is withdrawn by οὐκ αὖ . . . τοῦτο γεοἶμαι).

16 τῷ ὄντι points the application of the proverbial ὕδραν τέμνειν, which appears in this now trite metaphorical use for the first time here and in Euthydemus 297 C. Cf. my note on Horace iv. 4. 61. For the thought cf. Isocrates vii. 40, Macrob.Sat. ii. 13 “leges bonae ex malis moribus procreantur,” Arcesilaus apudStobaeus Flor. xliii. 981οὕτω δὴ καὶ ὅπου νόμοι πλεῖστοι ἐκεῖ καὶ ἀδικίαν εἶναι μεγίστην, Theophrastus apudStobaeus Flor. xxxvii. 21ὀλίγων οἱ ἀγαθοὶ νόμων δέονται.

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