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At this point Socrates said: “I suspect that it remains now for each one of us to prove that what he engaged himself to champion is of real worth.”

“You may hear me first,” said Callias. “While I listen to your philosophical discussions of what righteousness is, I am all the time actually rendering men more righteous.”

“How so, my good friend?” asked Socrates.

“Why, by giving them money.” [2]

Then Antisthenes got up and in a very argumentative fashion interrogated him. “Where do you think men harbour their righteousness, Callias, in their souls or in their purses?”

“In their souls,” he replied.

“So you make their souls more righteous by putting money into their purses?”

“I surely do.”


“Because they know that they have the wherewithal to buy the necessities of life, and so they are reluctant to expose themselves to the hazards of crime.” [3]

“And do they repay you,” he asked, “the money that they get from you?”

“Heavens, no!” he replied.

“Well, do they substitute thanks for money payment?”

“No, indeed, nor that either,” he said. “On the contrary, some of them have an even greater dislike of me than before they got the money.”

“It is remarkable,” said Antisthenes, looking fixedly at him as though he had him in a corner, “that you can make them righteous toward others but not toward yourself.” [4]

“What is there remarkable about that?” asked Callias. “Do you not see plenty of carpenters, also, and architects that build houses for many another person but cannot do it for themselves, but live in rented houses? Come now, my captious friend, take your medicine and own that you are beaten.” [5]

“By all means,” said Socrates, “let him do so. For even the soothsayers have the reputation, you know, of prophesying the future for others but of not being able to foresee their own fate.”

Here the discussion of this point ended. [6]

Then Niceratus remarked: “You may now hear me tell wherein you will be improved by associating with me. You know, doubtless, that the sage Homer has written about practically everything pertaining to man. Any one of you, therefore, who wishes to acquire the art of the householder, the political leader, or the general, or to become like Achilles or Ajax or Nestor or Odysseus, should seek my favour, for I understand all these things.”

“Ha!” said Antisthenes; “do you understand how to play the king, too, knowing, as you do, that Homer praised Agamemnon1 for being ‘both goodly king and spearman strong’?”

“Yes, indeed!” said he; “and I know also that in driving a chariot one must run close to the goalpost at the turn2 and“ Himself lean lightly to the left within The polished car, the right-hand trace-horse goad, Urge him with shouts, and let him have the reins.3Hom. Il. 23.335-337 [7] And beside this I know something else, which you may test immediately. For Homer says somewhere: ‘An onion, too, a relish for the drink.’4 Now if some one will bring an onion, you will receive this benefit, at any rate, without delay; for you will get more pleasure out of your drinking.” [8]

“Gentlemen,” said Charmides, “Niceratus is intent on going home smelling of onions to make his wife believe that no one would even have conceived the thought of kissing him.”

“Undoubtedly,” said Socrates. “But we run the risk of getting a different sort of reputation, one that will bring us ridicule. For though the onion seems to be in the truest sense a relish, since it adds to our enjoyment not only of food, but also of drink, yet if we eat it not only with our dinner but after it as well, take care that some one does not say of us that on our visit to Callias we were merely indulging our appetites.” [9]

“Heaven forbid, Socrates!” was the reply. “I grant that when a man is setting out for battle, it is well for him to nibble an onion, just as some people give their game-cocks a feed of garlic before pitting them together in the ring; as for us, however, our plans perhaps look more to getting a kiss from some one than to fighting.”

That was about the way the discussion of this point ended. [10]

Then Critobulus said: “Shall I take my turn now and tell you my grounds for taking pride in my handsomeness?”

“Do,” they said.

“Well, then, if I am not handsome, as I think I am, you could fairly be sued for misrepresentation; for though no one asks you for an oath, you are always swearing that I am handsome. And indeed I believe you; for I consider you to be honourable men. [11] But, on the other hand, if I really am handsome and you have the same feelings toward me that I have toward the one who is handsome in my eyes, I swear by all the gods that I would not take the kingdom of Persia in exchange for the possession of beauty. [12] For as it is, I would rather gaze at Cleinias5 than at all the other beautiful objects in the world. I would rather be blind to all things else than to Cleinias alone. I chafe at both night and sleep because then I do not see him; I feel the deepest gratitude to day and the sun because they reveal Cleinias to me. [13] We handsome people have a right to be proud of this fact, too, that whereas the strong man must get the good things of his desire by toil, and the brave man by adventure, and the wise man by his eloquence, the handsome person can attain all his ends without doing anything. [14] So far as I, at least, am concerned, although I realize that money is a delightful possession, I should take more delight in giving what I have to Cleinias than in adding to my possessions from another person's; and I should take more delight in being a slave than in being a free man, if Cleinias would deign to be my master. For I should find it easier to toil for him than to rest, and it would be more delightful to risk my life for his sake than to live in safety. [15] And so, Callias, if you are proud of your ability to make people more righteous, I have a better ‘right’ than you to claim that I can influence men toward every sort of virtue. For since we handsome men exert a certain inspiration upon the amorous, we make them more generous in money matters, more strenuous and heroic amid dangers, yes, and more modest and self-controlled also; for they feel abashed about the very things that they want most. [16] Madness is in those people, too, who do not elect the handsome men as generals; I certainly would go through fire with Cleinias, and I know that you would, also, with me. Therefore, Socrates, do not puzzle any more over the question whether or not my beauty will be of any benefit to men. [17] But more than that, beauty is not to be contemned on this ground, either, that it soon passes its prime; for just as we recognize beauty in a boy, so we do in a youth, a full-grown man, or an old man. Witness the fact that in selecting garlandbearers for Athena they choose beautiful old men, thus intimating that beauty attends every period of life. [18] Furthermore, if it is pleasurable to attain one's desires with the good will of the giver, I know very well that at this very moment, without uttering a word, I could persuade this boy or this girl to give me a kiss sooner than you could, Socrates, no matter how long and profoundly you might argue.” [19]

“How now?” exclaimed Socrates. “You boast as though you actually thought yourself a handsomer man than me.”

“Of course,” was Critobulus's reply; “otherwise I should be the ugliest of all the Satyrs ever on the stage.”

Now Socrates, as fortune would have it, really resembled these creatures.6 [20]

“Come, come,” said Socrates; “see that you remember to enter a beauty contest with me when the discussion now under way has gone the rounds. And let our judges be not Alexander, Priam's son,7 but these very persons whom you consider eager to give you a kiss.” [21]

“Would you not entrust the arbitrament to Cleinias, Socrates?”

“Aren't you ever going to get your mind off Cleinias?” was the rejoinder.

“If I refrain from mentioning his name, do you suppose that I shall have him any the less in mind? Do you not know that I have so clear an image of him in my heart that had I ability as a sculptor or a painter I could produce a likeness of him from this image that would be quite as close as if he were sitting for me in person?” [22]

“Why do you annoy me, then,” was Socrates' retort, “and keep taking me about to places where you can see him in person, if you possess so faithful an image of him?”

“Because, Socrates, the sight of him in person has the power to delight one, whereas the sight of the image does not give pleasure, but implants a craving for him.” [23]

“For my part, Socrates,” said Hermogenes, “I do not regard it as at all like you to countenance such a mad passion of love in Critobulus.”

“What? Do you suppose,” asked Socrates, “that this condition has arisen since he began associating with me?”

“If not, when did it?”

“Do you not notice that the soft down is just beginning to grow down in front of his ears, while that of Cleinias is already creeping up the nape of his neck? Well, then, this hot flame of his was kindled in the days when they used to go to school together. [24] It was the discovery of this that caused his father to put him into my hands, in the hope that I might do him some good. And without question he is already much improved. For awhile ago he was like those who look at the Gorgons—he would gaze at Cleinias with a fixed and stony stare and would never leave his presence; but now I have seen him actually close his eyes in a wink. [25] But to tell you the truth, gentlemen,” he continued, “by Heaven! it does look to me—to speak confidentially—as if he had also kissed Cleinias; and there is nothing more terribly potent than this at kindling the fires of passion. For it is insatiable and holds out seductive hopes. [26] For this reason I maintain that one who intends to possess the power of self-control must refrain from kissing those in the bloom of beauty.” [27]

“But why in the world, Socrates,” Charmides now asked, “do you flourish your bogeys so to frighten us, your friends, away from the beauties, when, by Apollo! I have seen you yourself,” he continued, “when the two of you were hunting down something in the same book-roll at the school, sitting head to head, with your nude shoulder pressing against Critobulus's nude shoulder?” [28]

“Dear me!” exclaimed Socrates. “So that is what affected me like the bite of a wild animal! And for over five days my shoulder smarted and I felt as if I had something like a sting in my heart. But now, Critobulus,” said he, “in the presence of all these witnesses I warn you not to lay a finger on me until you get as much hair on your chin as you have on your head.”

Such was the mingled raillery and seriousness that these indulged in. [29]

But Callias now remarked, “It is your turn, Charmides, to tell us why poverty makes you feel proud.”

“Very well,” said he. “So much, at least, every one admits, that assurance is preferable to fear, freedom to slavery, being the recipient of attention to being the giver of it, the confidence of one's country to its distrust. [30] Now, as for my situation in our commonwealth, when I was rich, I was, to begin with, in dread of some one's digging through the wall of my house and not only getting my money but also doing me a mischief personally; in the next place, I knuckled down to the blackmailers, knowing well enough that my abilities lay more in the direction of suffering injury than of inflicting it on them. Then, too, I was for ever being ordered by the government to undergo some expenditure or other, and I never had the opportunity for foreign travel. [31] Now, however, since I am stripped of my property over the border and get no income from the property in Attica, and my household effects have been sold, I stretch out and enjoy a sound sleep, I have gained the confidence of the state, I am no longer subjected to threats but do the threatening now myself; and I have the free man's privilege of going abroad or staying here at home as I please. People now actually rise from their seats in deference to me, and rich men obsequiously give me the right of way on the street,8 [32] Now I am like a despot; then I was clearly a slave. Then I paid a revenue to the body politic; now I live on the tribute9 that the state pays to me. Moreover, people used to vilify me, when I was wealthy, for consorting with Socrates; but now that I have got poor, no one bothers his head about it any longer. Again, when my property was large, either the government or fate was continually making me throw some of it to the winds; but now, far from throwing anything away (for I possess nothing), I am always in expectation of acquiring something.” [33]

“Your prayers, also,” said Callias, “are doubtless to the effect that you may never be rich; and if you ever have a fine dream you sacrifice, do you not, to the deities who avert disasters?”

“Oh, no’” was the reply; “I don't go so far as that; I hazard the danger with great heroism if I have any expectation of getting something from some one.” [34]

“Come, now, Antisthenes,” said Socrates, “take your turn and tell us how it is that with such slender means you base your pride on wealth.”

“Because, sirs, I conceive that people's wealth and poverty are to be found not in their real estate but in their hearts. [35] For I see many persons, not in office, who though possessors of large resources, yet look upon themselves as so poor that they bend their backs to any toil, any risk, if only they may increase their holdings; and again I know of brothers, with equal shares in their inheritance, where one of them has plenty, and more than enough to meet expenses, while the other is in utter want. [36] Again, I am told of certain despots, also, who have such a greedy appetite for riches that they commit much more dreadful crimes than they who are afflicted with the direst poverty. For it is of course their want that makes some people steal, others commit burglary, others follow the slave trade; but there are some despots who destroy whole families, kill men wholesale, oftentimes enslave even entire cities, for the sake of money. [37] As for such men, I pity them deeply for their malignant disease; for in my eyes their malady resembles that of a person who possessed abundance but though continually eating could never be satisfied. For my own part, my possessions are so great that I can hardly find them myself; yet I have enough so that I can eat until I reach a point where I no longer feel hungry and drink until I do not feel thirsty and have enough clothing so that when out of doors I do not feel the cold any more than my superlatively wealthy friend Callias here; [38] and when I get into the house I look on my walls as exceedingly warm tunics and the roofs as exceptionally thick mantles; and the bedding that I own is so satisfactory that it is actually a hard task to get me awake in the morning. If I ever feel a natural desire for converse with women, I am so well satisfied with whatever chance puts in my way that those to whom I make my addresses are more than glad to welcome me because they have no one else who wants to consort with them. [39] In a word, all these items appeal to me as being so conducive to enjoyment that I could not pray for greater pleasure in performing any one of them, but could pray rather for less—so much more pleasurable do I regard some of them than is good for one. [40] But the most valuable parcel of my wealth I reckon to be this, that even though some one were to rob me of what I now possess, I see no occupation so humble that it would not give me adequate fare. [41] For whenever I feel an inclination to indulge my appetite, I do not buy fancy articles at the market (for they come high), but I draw on the store-house of my soul. And it goes a long way farther toward producing enjoyment when I take food only after awaiting the craving for it than when I partake of one of these fancy dishes, like this fine Thasian wine that fortune has put in my way and I am drinking without the promptings of thirst. [42] Yes, and it is natural that those whose eyes are set on frugality should be more honest than those whose eyes are fixed on money-making. For those who are most contented with what they have are least likely to covet what belongs to others. [43] And it is worth noting that wealth of this kind makes people generous, also. My friend Socrates here and I are examples. For Socrates, from whom I acquired this wealth of mine, did not come to my relief with limitation of number and weight, but made over to me all that I could carry. And as for me, I am now niggardly to no one, but both make an open display of my abundance to all my friends and share my spiritual wealth with any one of them that desires it. [44] But—most exquisite possession of all!—you observe that I always have leisure, with the result that I can go and see whatever is worth seeing, and hear whatever is worth hearing and—what I prize highest—pass the whole day, untroubled by business, in Socrates' company. Like me, he does not bestow his admiration on those who count the most gold, but spends his time with those who are congenial to him.” [45]

Such was the thesis maintained by Antisthenes. “So help me Hera,” commented Callias, “among the numerous reasons I find for congratulating you on your wealth, one is that the government does not lay its commands on you and treat you as a slave, another is that people do not feel resentful at your not making them a loan.”

“Do not be congratulating him,” said Niceratus; “because I am about to go and get him to make me a loan—of his contentment with his lot, schooled as I am by Homer to count“Seven pots unfired, ten talents' weight of gold, A score of gleaming cauldrons, chargers twelve,” Hom. Iliad 9.122 f., 264 f. weighing and calculating until I am never done with yearning for vast riches; as a result, some people perhaps regard me as just a bit fond of lucre.”

A burst of laughter from the whole company greeted this admission; for they considered that he had told nothing more than the truth. [46]

“Hermogenes, it devolves on you,” some one now remarked, “to mention who your friends are and to demonstrate their great power and their solicitude for you, so that your pride in them may appear justified.” [47]

“Very well; in the first place, it is clear as day that both Greeks and barbarians believe that the gods know everything both present and to come; at any rate, all cities and all races ask the gods, by the diviner's art, for advice as to what to do and what to avoid. Second, it is likewise manifest that we consider them able to work us good or ill; at all events, every one prays the gods to avert evil and grant blessings. [48] Well, these gods, omniscient and omnipotent, feel so friendly toward me that their watchfulness over me never lets me out of their ken night or day, no matter where I am going or what business I have in view. They know the results also that will follow any act; and so they send me as messengers omens of sounds, dreams, and birds, and thus indicate what I ought to do and what I ought not to do. And when I do their bidding, I never regret it; on the other hand, I have before now disregarded them and have been punished for it.” [49]

“None of these statements,” said Socrates, “is incredible. But what I should like very much to know is how you serve them to keep them so friendly.”

“A very economical service it is, I declare!” responded Hermogenes. “I sound their praises,—which costs nothing; I always restore them part of what they give me; I avoid profanity of speech as far as I can; and I never wittingly lie in matters wherein I have invoked them to be my witnesses.”

“Truly,” said Socrates, “if it is conduct like this that gives you their friendship, then the gods also, it would seem, take delight in nobility of soul!”

Such was the serious turn given to the discussion of this topic. [50]

When they got around to Philip, they asked him what he saw in the jester's profession to feel proud of it.

“Have I not a right to be proud,” said he, “when all know that I am a jester, and so whenever they have a bit of good fortune, give me hearty invitations to come and join them, but when they suffer some reverse, run from me with never a glance behind, in dread that they may be forced to laugh in spite of themselves?” [51]

“Your pride is abundantly justified,” said Niceratus. “In my case, on the contrary, those friends who enjoy success keep out of my way, but those that run into some mishap reckon up their kinship to me on the family tree, and I can't get rid of them.” [52]

“No doubt,” said Charmides; and then, turning to the Syracusan, “What is it that you are proud of? The boy, I suppose?”

“Quite the contrary,” was the reply; “I am instead in extreme apprehension about him. For I understand that there are certain persons plotting his undoing.” [53]

On receiving this information, “Good Heavens!” exclaimed Socrates; “what wrong do they imagine your lad has done them that is grave enough to make them wish to kill him?”

Syr. “It is not killing him that they desire; oh, no! but to persuade him to sleep with them.”

Soc. “Your belief, then, if I mistake not, is that if this happened, he would be undone?”

Syr. “Aye, utterly!” [54]

Soc. “Do you not then sleep in his bed yourself?”

Syr. “Most certainly, all night and every night.”

Soc. “Marry, you are in great luck to be formed of such flesh that you are unique in not corrupting those that sleep with you. And so you have a right to be proud of your flesh if of nothing else.” [55]

Syr. “And yet that is not the basis of my pride.”

Soc. “What is, then?”

Syr. “Fools, in faith. They give me a livelihood by coming to view my marionettes.”

“Ah!” ejaculated Philip; “that explains the prayer I heard you uttering the other day, that wherever you were the gods would grant you an abundant harvest of grain but a crop-failure of wits!” [56]

“Good!” said Callias. “And now, Socrates, what can you advance in support of your pride in that disreputable profession that you mentioned?”

“Let us first,” said he, “come to an understanding on the functions that belong to the procurer. Do not hesitate to answer all the questions I ask you, so that we may know our points of agreement. Is that your pleasure?” he asked.

“Certainly,” was their reply; and when they had once started with “certainly,” that was the regular answer they all made to his questions thereafter. [57]

Soc. “Well, then, you consider it the function of a good procurer to render the man or the woman whom he is serving attractive to his or her associates?”

All. “Certainly.”

Soc. “Now, one thing that contributes to rendering a person attractive is a comely arrangement of hair and clothing, is it not?”

All. “Certainly.” [58]

“This, also, we know, do we not, that it is in a man's power to use the one pair of eyes to express both friendship and hostility?”


“And again, it is possible to speak both modestly and boldly with the same voice?”


“Moreover, are there not words that create ill feeling and others that conduce to friendliness?”

“Certainly.” [59]

“Now the good procurer would teach only the words that tend to make one attractive, would he not?”


“Which one would be the better?” he continued, “the one who could make people attractive to a single person or the one who could make them attractive to many?”

This question brought a division; some said, “Clearly the one who could make them attractive to a great many”; the others merely repeated, “Certainly.” [60]

Remarking that they were all of one mind on this point as on the others, he went on: “If a person could render people attractive to the entire community, would he not satisfy the requirements of the ideal procurer?”

“Indubitably,” they all said.

“And so, if one could produce men of this type out of his clients, he would be entitled to feel proud of his profession and to receive a high remuneration, would he not?” [61]

All agreeing on this point, too, he added, “Antisthenes here seems to me to be a man of just that sort.”

Antisthenes asked, “Are you resigning your profession to me, Socrates?”

“Assuredly,” was the answer. “For I see that you have brought to a high state of perfection the complementary trade.”

“What is that?”

“The profession of go-between,” he said. [62]

Antisthenes was much incensed and asked, “What knowledge can you possibly have of my being guilty of such a thing as that?”

“I know several instances,” he replied. “I know that you acted the part between Callias here and the scholar Prodicus, when you saw that Callias was in love with philosophy and that Prodicus wanted money. I know also that you did the same for Hippias, the Elean, from whom Callias got his memory system; and as a result, Callias has become more amorous than ever, because he finds it impossible to forget any beauty he sees. [63] And just recently, you remember, you introduced the stranger from Heraclea10 to me, after arousing my keen interest in him by your commendations. For this I am indeed grateful to you; for I look upon him as endowed with a truly noble nature. And did you not laud Aeschylus the Phleiasian11 to me and me to him until you brought us to such a pass that in mutual yearning, excited by your words, we went coursing like hounds to find each other? [64] It is the witnessing of your talent at achieving such a result that makes me judge you an excellent go-between. For the man who can recognize those who are fitted to be mutually helpful and can make them desire one another's acquaintance, that man, in my opinion, could also create friendship between cities and arrange suitable marriages, and would be a very valuable acquisition as friend or ally for both states and individuals. But you got indignant, as if you had received an affront, when I said that you were a good go-between.”

“But, indeed, that is all over now,” he replied; “for with this power mine I shall find my soul chock-full of riches.”

And so this round of discourse was brought to a close.

1 Iliad, iii. 179.

2 Cf. Iliad, xxiii. 323, 334.

3 Hom. Il. 23.335-337

4 Iliad, xi. 630.

5 A young cousin of the brilliant and dissipated Alcibiades.

6 This is regarded by some as a comment interpolated in the text, though doubtless true enough. Plato (Symp. 215 A, B, E; 216 C, D; 221 D, E; cf. 222 D) represents Alcibiades as likening Socrates to the Sileni and particularly to the Satyr Marsyas. Vase paintings and statues give an idea of the Greek conception of their coarse features. They regularly formed the chorus in the Satyr-plays that were given in connection with tragedies.

7 Usually called Paris; the judge of beauty when Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite appealed for a decision.

8 Charmides is apparently drawing the picture of the independent voter or member of a jury.

9 The poor relief.

10 Zeuxippus, the painter. Cf. Plato, Protag. 318 B, C.

11 Nothing further seems to be known of this man.

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