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ἀλλὰ μὴν κτλ. It is first proved that good is not the cause of evil (ἀλλὰ μὴνπῶς γάρ;), and next that good is the cause of εὐπραγία (τί δέ;— ναί): the conclusions are then stated in the reverse order. The step by which each conclusion is reached—the identification of ἀγαθόν and ὠφέλιμον—is Socratic (cf. Xen. Mem. IV 6. 8); but it is doubtful if the historical Socrates ever went so far as to deny that God is sometimes the cause of real evil or adversity to man, in spite of his belief in Providence (Mem. I 4 and IV 3; yet I 4. 16 οἴει δ᾽ ἂν τοὺς θεοὺς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δόξαν ἐμφῦσαι, ὡς ἱκανοί εἰσιν εὖ καὶ κακῶς ποιεῖν, εἰ μὴ δυνατοὶ ἦσαν;). The moral goodness of the Deity himself was proclaimed before Socrates and Plato by Xenophanes, Pindar, and the dramatists, but the inference, that God, because He is good, is never the cause of evil, is probably due to Plato. Bacchylides expresses a kindred sentiment in Fr. 29 (Bergk) Ζεὺς ὑψιμέδων, δ̔̀ς ἅπαντα δέρκεται, | οὐκ αἴτιος θνατοῖς μεγάλων ἀχέων. Read in the light of Book VI, the theology of this and the succeeding chapters gains, no doubt, in significance and depth; yet it is illegitimate to argue on this account (as Susemihl does Genet. Entwick. II p. 121) that the existence of the Idea of Good is already presupposed, unless it is shewn that Plato could not have purified his theology except by metaphysics. In point of fact, Plato might have written the end of Book III even if he had never thought of the Ideas at all.

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    • Xenophon, Memorabilia, 4.6.8
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