But in the banquet of Epicurus there is an assembly of flatterers praising one another. And Plato's banquet is full of mockers, cavilling at one another; for I say nothing of the digression about Alcibiades But in Homer it is only banquets conducted with moderation which are applauded; and on one occasion, a man addressing Menelaus says—
I dare not in your presence speak,But he was reproving something which was either not said or not done with perfect correctness—
Whose voice we reverence as a voice divine.1
And now if aught there is that can be done,And again, he says—
Take my advice; I grief untimely shun
That interrupts the feast.2
O son of wise Ulysses, what a wordFor it is not right for a man to be a flatterer, nor a mocker. Again, Epicurus, in his banquet, inquires about indigestion, so as to draw an omen from the answer: and immediately after that he inquires about fevers; for why need I speak of the general want of rhythm and elegance which pervades the whole essay? But Plato, (I say nothing about his having been harassed by a cough, and about his taking care of himself with constant gargling of water, and also by inserting a straw, in order that he might excite his nose so as to sneeze; for his object was to turn things into ridicule and to disparage them,) Plato, I say, turns into ridicule the equalized sentences and the antitheses of Agathon, and introduces Alcibiades, saying that he is in a state of excitement. But still those men who write in this manner, propose to expel Homer from their cities. But, says Demochares, “A spear is not made of a stalk of savory,” nor is a good man made so by such discourses as these; and not only does he disparage [p. 299] Alcibiades, but he also runs down Charmides, and Euthyde- mus, and many others of the young men. And this is the conduct of a man ridiculing the whole city of the Athenians, the Museum of Greece, which Pindar styled The Bulwark of Greece; and Thucydides, in his Epigram address d to Euripides, The Greece of Greece; and the priest at De phi termed it, The Hearth and Prytaneum of the Greeks. And that he spoke falsely of the young men one may perceive from Plato himself, for he says that Alcibiades, (in the dialogue to which he has prefixed his name,) when he arrived at man's estate, then first began to converse with Socrates, when every one else who was devoted to the pleasures of the body fell off from him. But he says this at the very beginning of the dialogue. And how he contradicts himself in the Charmides any one who pleases may see in the dialogue itself. For he represents Socrates as subject to a most unseemly giddiness, and as absolutely intoxicated with a passion for Alcibiades, and as becoming beside himself, and yielding like a kid to the impetuosity of a lion; and at the same time he says that he disregarded his beauty.
Has 'scaped thy ivory fence!. . . .