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[591c] “Then the wise man will bend all his endeavors1 to this end throughout his life; he will, to begin with, prize the studies that will give this quality to his soul and disprize the others.” “Clearly,” he said. “And then,” I said, “he not only will not abandon the habit and nurture of his body to the brutish and irrational pleasure and live with his face set in that direction, but he will not even make health his chief aim,2 nor give the first place to the ways of becoming strong or healthy or beautiful unless these things are likely to bring with them soberness of spirit,

1 Cf. Gorg. 507 D, Isoc.Epist. vi. 9, Xen.Ages. 7. 1.

2 Health in the familiar skolion (Cf. Gorg. 451 E, Laws 631 C, 661 A, 728 D-E, Euthydem. 279 A-B, Meno 87 E, Soph.frag. 356) is proverbially the highest of ordinary goods. Cf. Gorg. 452 A-B, Crito 47 D, Eryxias 393 C. In fact, for Plato as for modern “scientific” ethics, health in the higher sense—the health of the soul—may be said to be the ultimate sanction. Cf. Vol. I. Introd. pp. xvi and xxi, Unity of Plato's Thought, p. 26, Idea of Good in Plato's Republic, pp. 192-194 f. But an idealistic ethics sometimes expresses itself in the paradox that “not even health,” highest of earthly goods, is of any value compared with the true interests of the soul. Cf. Laws 661 C-E ff., 728 D-E, 744 A, 960 D, Laches 195 C; and Arnold, Culture and Anarchy, p. 17 “Bodily health and vigor . . . have a more real and essential value . . . but only as they are more intimately connected with a perfect spiritual condition than wealth and population are.” This idea may be the source of the story from which the Christian Fathers and the Middle Ages derived much edification, that Plato intentionally chose an unhealthy site for the Academy in order to keep down the flesh. Cf. Aelian, Var. Hist. ix. 10, perhaps the first mention, Porphyry, De abstinentia i. 36, Zeller, Phil. d. Gr. ii. 1.4 416, n. 2; Camden on Cambridge, Gosse, Gossip in a Library, p. 23, and Himerius, Ecl. iii. 18 (Diels ii.3 p. 18)ἑκὼν δὲ ἐνόσει σῶμα Δημόκριτος, ἵνα ὑγιαίνῃ τὰ κρείττονα.

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