previous next


Speak then.

Do you know what I'm going to do?

About what?

I'm going to keep my head wrapped up while I talk, that I may get through my discourse as quickly as possible and that I may not look at you and become embarrassed.

Only speak, and in other matters suit yourself.

Come then, O tuneful Muses, whether ye receive this name from the quality of your song or from the musical race of the Ligyans, grant me your aid in the tale this most excellent man compels me to relate, [237b] that his friend whom he has hitherto considered wise, may seem to him wiser still. Now there was once upon a time a boy, or rather a stripling, of great beauty: and he had many lovers. And among these was one of peculiar craftiness, who was as much in love with the boy as anyone, but had made him believe that he was not in love; and once in wooing him, he tried to persuade him of this very thing, that favors ought to be granted rather to the non-lover than to the lover; and his words were as follows:— There is only one way, dear boy, for those to begin who [237c] are to take counsel wisely about anything. One must know what the counsel is about, or it is sure to be utterly futile, but most people are ignorant of the fact that they do not know the nature of things. So, supposing that they do know it, they come to no agreement in the beginning of their enquiry, and as they go on they reach the natural result,—they agree neither with themselves nor with each other. Now you and I must not fall into the error which we condemn in others, but, since we are to discuss the question, whether the lover or the non-lover is to be preferred let us first agree on a definition of love, its nature and its power, [237d] and then, keeping this definition in view and making constant reference to it, let us enquire whether love brings advantage or harm. Now everyone sees that love is a desire; and we know too that non-lovers also desire the beautiful. How then are we to distinguish the lover from the non-lover? We must observe that in each one of us there are two ruling and leading principles, which we follow whithersoever they lead; one is the innate desire for pleasures, the other an acquired opinion [237e] which strives for the best. These two sometimes agree within us and are sometimes in strife; and sometimes one, and sometimes the other has the greater power. Now when opinion leads through reason toward the best and is more powerful,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: