previous next

12-48. The fact that Alcibiades and Critias wrought great evil in the state should not be laid to the account of Socrates. They were impelled by measureless ambition and lust for power; and in Socrates they only sought a man from whom they could learn the art of persuasion, so as to win thereby positions of political influence. But they sufficiently showed in the sequel that they had not learned to imitate the character and life of their teacher. Socrates did not fail to set before them the attractions of a virtuous life; and, in fact, so long as they remained with him, they showed moderation. But virtue must be practiced to be retained; and they quickly fell a prey to all manner of temptations after leaving Socrates. For this he is not to be held responsible, the less so as he reproached them severely for their unworthy conduct,—incurring thereby the hate of Critias, as he later had cause to know. Thus they only followed their own natural bent after leaving Socrates; while many other friends of Socrates remained true through life to the principles of virtue which they had learned from him.

12. ἔφη γε: with marked emphasis, like Mark Antony's ‘But Brutus says he was ambitious.’

γενομένω: the κατήγορος seems to insinuate a causal, as well as a temporal, force of the participle; post hoc, propter hoc.

Κριτίας: son of Callaeschrus, was one of the thirty men who were placed in power at Athens (by the aid of the victorious Lacedaemonians) at the close of the Peloponnesian war (404 B.C.). He took a prominent part in the cruelties practiced by the Thirty, and fell in the final conflicts with the Liberators under Thrasybulus. He had associated, as a young man, with Socrates and Gorgias of Leontini, and was a poet and dramatist of some repute. For an account of his activity, see Hell. ii.3.11 ff.

Ἀλκιβιάδης: son of Clinias, born at Athens about 450 B.C.; he was distinguished for his personal beauty, talents, and wealth, and was notorious for his reckless profligacy. Socrates took great interest in him, and seems in return to have been respected and loved by him. At the siege of Potidaea (432 B.C.) Socrates saved his life, a service which Alcibiades returned by aiding Socrates at the battle of Delium (424 B.C.). For his connection with the Sicilian expedition (415 B.C.), see Thuc. vi, passim. Plutarch brackets him with Coriolanus in the Parallel Lives.

τὴν πόλιν: for the double acc., see G. 1073; H. 725 a.

ἐν τῇ ὀλιγαρχίᾳ: i.e. in 404 B.C., when the Thirty, with Critias at their head, were in power at Athens. Cf. Hell. ii. 3. 11 ff. See on νομοθέτης 31. Aeschines (Contra Timarchum 173) says, with exaggeration, ἔπειτ᾽ ὑμεῖς, Ἀθηναῖοι, Σωκράτη μὲν τὸν σοφιστὴν ἀπεκτείνατε, ὅτι Κριτίαν ἐφάνη πεπαιδευκώς, ἕνα τῶν τριάκοντα τῶν τὸν δῆμον καταλυσάντων (who overthrew the democracy).

κλεπτίστατος, βιαιότατος: so, in ii. 6. 24, χρήματά τε κλέπτειν καὶ βιάζεσθαι ἀνθρώπους are mentioned as low motives for attaining power in the state.

ἐν τῇ δημοκρατίᾳ: refers to the public and private life of Alcibiades, down to his return to the army at Samos in 411. See Grote, Hist. of Greece, cc. lv, lxiii.

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.

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