18. ἐν ὑμῖν
: not ‘before your tribunal’, but ‘in you’, i.e.
inside you, in your souls. The idea is of a conflict between the
good and evil in the soul before you do the evil. ἐν ὑμῖν
have been ἐν αὐτῶ̣
, but the ὑβριστής
now selects his interlocutors
as his examples. The subtle reasoning which follows may be put
thus: We do evil, knowing it to be evil, because we
by good. But—since that which we do is evil—the good which
overcomes is less worthy than the evil in us
which it overcomes.
‘Less worthy’ (to overcome) means that ‘there is less of it’: to
be overcome by good is therefore to choose less good than evil.
The argument is extraordinarily ingenious but hardly sound—
the flaw lies in substituting ‘the evil in us’ for ‘us’; it was not
‘the evil in us’, but ‘we’ who were overcome by good. See also
Introduction, p. xxvi. The usual way of taking ἐν ὑμῖν
your tribunal’ or the like (cf. Gorg. 464D
) makes the false step
much more serious—since it substitutes not ‘the evil in us’ but
simply ‘the evil’ for ‘us’.
21. ἀνάξιά ἐστιν τἀγαθὰ τῶν κακῶν
should be translated
literally—‘the good is unworthy of the bad’. The expression—
in Greek as in English—is somewhat strained in order to
correspond to οὐκ ἀξίων
above (l. 17); but after all ‘I am unworthy of you’ is much the same as ‘I am less worthy than you’.
The Greeks can even use ἀνάξιος
in the sense of ‘more worthy
than’, ‘too good for’: e.g. Soph. Philoct.
22. τὰ μὲν μείζω—ᾖ
: i.e. when τὰ κακά
, then τἀγαθά
are ἀνάξια τῶν κακῶν
: τὰ κακά
are ἀνάξια τῶν ἀγαθῶν
, when τὰ ἀγαθά
, and τὰ κακὰ
. Similarly with πλείω
. It must be borne
in mind that ἄξιος
does not here denote moral, but rather
physical strength or value: good is ἀνάξιον κακοῦ
, because it is
smaller or less numerous.