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[89a] than then. That he had an answer ready was perhaps to be expected; but what astonished me more about him was, first, the pleasant, gentle, and respectful manner in which he listened to the young men's criticisms, secondly, his quick sense of the effect their words had upon us, and lastly, the skill with which he cured us and, as it were, recalled us from our flight and defeat and made us face about and follow him and join in his examination of the argument.

How did he do it?

I will tell you. I was sitting at his right hand on a low stool [89b] beside his couch, and his seat was a good deal higher than mine. He stroked my head and gathered the hair on the back of my neck into his hand—he had a habit of playing with my hair on occasion—and said, “Tomorrow, perhaps, Phaedo, you will cut off this beautiful hair.”

“I suppose so, Socrates,” said I.

“Not if you take my advice.”

“What shall I do then?” I asked.

“You will cut it off today, and I will cut mine, if our argument dies and we cannot bring it to life again. [89c] If I were you and the argument escaped me, I would take an oath, like the Argives, not to let my hair grow until I had renewed the fight and won a victory over the argument of Simmias and Cebes.”

“But,” I replied, “they say that even Heracles is not a match for two.”

“Well,” said he, “call me to help you, as your Iolaus, while there is still light.”

“I call you to help, then,” said I, “not as Heracles calling Iolaus, but as Iolaus calling Heracles.”

“That is all one,” said he. “But first let us guard against a danger.”

“Of what sort?” I asked. [89d] “The danger of becoming misologists or haters of argument,” said he, “as people become misanthropists or haters of man; for no worse evil can happen to a man than to hate argument. Misology and misanthropy arise from similar causes. For misanthropy arises from trusting someone implicitly without sufficient knowledge. You think the man is perfectly true and sound and trustworthy, and afterwards you find him base and false. Then you have the same experience with another person. By the time this has happened to a man a good many times, especially if it happens among those whom he might regard as his nearest [89e] and dearest friends, he ends by being in continual quarrels and by hating everybody and thinking there is nothing sound in anyone at all. Have you not noticed this?”

“Certainly,” said I.

“Well,” he went on, “is it not disgraceful, and is it not plain that such a man undertakes to consort with men when he has no knowledge of human nature? For if he had knowledge when he dealt with them, he would think that the good

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 1362
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