But concerning the things which he has said in his Dialogues, what can any one say? For the doctrine respecting the soul, which he makes out to be immortal, even after it is separated from the body, and after the dissolution of this latter, was first mentioned by Homer; for he has said, that the soul of Patroclus—
Fled to the shades below,If, then, any one were to say that this is also the argument of [p. 813] Plato, still I do not see what good we have got from him; for if any one were to agree that the souls of those who are dead do migrate into other natures, and do mount up to some higher and purer district, as partaking of its lightness, still what should we get by that theory? For, as we have neither any recollection of where we formerly were, nor any perception whether we really existed at all, what do we get by such an immortality as that? And as to the book of the Laws composed by him, and the Polity which was written before the Laws, what good have they done us? And yet he ought (as Lycurgus did the Lacedæmonians, and as Solon did the Athenians, and Zaleucus the Thurians), if they were excellent, to have persuaded some of the Greeks to adopt them. For a law (as Aristotle says) is a form of words decided on by the common agreement of a city, pointing out how one ought to do everything. And how can we consider Plato's conduct anything but ridiculous; since, when there were already three Athenian lawgivers who had a great name,—Draco, and Plato himself, and Solon,—the citizens abide by the laws of the other two, but ridicule those of Plato? And the case of the Polity is the same. Even if his Constitution is the best of all possible constitutions, yet, if it does not persuade us to adopt it, what are we the better for it? Plato, then, appears to have written his laws, not for men who have any real existence, but rather for a set of men invented by himself; so that one has to look for people who will use them. But it would have been better for him to write such things as he could persuade men of; and not to act like people who only pray, but rather like those who seize hold of what offers itself to them.
Lamenting its untimely fate, and leaving
Its vigour and its youth.