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[496c] for his backsliding from philosophy, but his sickly habit of body keeping him out of politics holds him back. My own case, the divine sign,1 is hardly worth mentioning—for I suppose it has happened to few or none before me. And those who have been of this little company2 and have tasted the sweetness and blessedness of this possession and who have also come to understand the madness of the multitude sufficiently and have seen that there is nothing, if I may say so, sound or right in any present politics,3 and that there is no ally

1 The enormous fanciful literature on the daimonion does not concern the interpretation of Plato, who consistently treats it as a kind of spiritual tact checking Socrates from any act opposed to his true moral and intellectual interests. Cf. What Plato Said, pp. 456-457, on Euthyphro 3 B, Jowett and Campbell, p. 285.

2 For τούτων . . . γενόμενοι cf. Aristoph.Clouds 107τούτων γενοῦ μοι.

3 The irremediable degeneracy of existing governments is the starting-point of Plato's political and social speculations. Cf. 597 B, Laws 832 C f., Epist. vii. 326 A; Byron, apudArnold, Essays in Crit. ii. p. 195 “I have simplified my politics into an utter detestation of all existing governments.” This passage, Apol. 31 E ff. and Gorg. 521-522 may be considered Plato's apology for not engaging in politics Cf. J. V. Novak, Platon u. d. Rhetorik, p. 495 (Schleiermacher, Einl. z. Gorg. pp. 15 f.), Wilamowitz, Platon, i. 441-442 “Wer kann hier die Klage über das eigene Los überhören?” There is no probability that, as an eminent scholar has maintained, the Republic itself was intended as a programme of practical politics for Athens, and that its failure to win popular opinion is the chief cause of the disappointed tone of Plato's later writings. Cf. Erwin Wolff in Jaeger's Neue Phil. Untersuchungen,Heft 6, Platos Apologie, pp. 31-33, who argues that abstinence from politics is proclaimed in the Apology before the Gorgias and that the same doctrine in the seventh Epistle absolutely proves that the Apology is Plato's own. Cf. also Theaet. 173 C ff., Hipp. Maj. 281 C, Euthydem. 306 B,Xen.Mem. i. 6. 15.

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