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Hope, who chiefly rules the changeful mind of mortals.
”Pindar Frag. 214, LoebThat is a fine saying and an admirable. It is for this, then, that I affirm that the possession of wealth is of most value [331b] not it may be to every man but to the good man. Not to cheat any man even unintentionally or play him false, not remaining in debt to a god3 for some sacrifice or to a man for money, so to depart in fear to that other world—to this result the possession of property contributes not a little. It has also many other uses. But, setting one thing against another, I would lay it down, Socrates, that for a man of sense this is the chief service of wealth.” “An admirable sentiment, Cephalus,” [331c] said I. “But speaking of this very thing, justice, are we to affirm thus without qualification4 that it is truth-telling and paying back what one has received from anyone, or may these very actions sometimes be just and sometimes unjust? I mean, for example, as everyone I presume would admit, if one took over weapons from a friend who was in his right mind and then the lender should go mad and demand them back, that we ought not to return them in that case and that he who did so return them would not be acting justly—nor yet would he who chose to speak nothing but the truth [331d] to one who was in that state.” “You are right,” he replied. “Then this is not the definition of justice: to tell the truth and return what one has received.” “Nay, but it is, Socrates,” said Polemarchus breaking in, “if indeed we are to put any faith in Simonides.” “Very well,” said Cephalus, “indeed I make over the whole argument5 to you. For it is time for me to attend the sacrifices.” “Well,” said I, “is not Polemarchus the heir of everything that is yours?” “Certainly,” said he with a laugh, and at the same time went out to the sacred rites.6 [331e] “Tell me, then, you the inheritor of the argument, what it is that you affirm that Simonides says and rightly says about justice.” “That it is just,” he replied, “to render to each his due.7 In saying this I think he speaks well.” “I must admit,” said I, “that it is not easy to disbelieve Simonides. For he is a wise and inspired man.8 But just what he may mean by this you, Polemarchus, doubtless know, but I do not. Obviously he does not mean what we were just speaking of, this return of a deposit9 to anyone whatsoever even if he asks it back when not in his right mind. And yet what the man deposited
1 The better hope of the initiated, often mentioned in connection with the mysteries, blends with the better hope of the righteous (Isocrates i. 39, iv. 20, viii. 34, Schmidt, Ethik der Griechen, ii. 73), and in the conclusion of the Pindar passage almost becomes the hope against which Greek moralists warn us. Cf. Pindar Nem. xi. in fine, Sophocles Antigone 615, Thuc. 2.62, Thuc. 3.45.
2 Pindar, Fragment 214, L.C.L. Edition.
3 Cf. the famous, “We owe a cock to Aesculapius,”Phaedo 118 A. Cf. further, Browne, Christian Morals, i. 26 “Well content if they be but rich enough to be honest, and to give every man his due.”
4 It is Platonic Doctrine that no act is per se good or bad. Plat. Sym. 181a. This opens the door to casuistry, Xen. Mem. 4.2.12, Cic. De offic. 3.25. For the argument cf. Xen. Mem. 4.2.18, Cic. De offic. 3.25. For the proverb, “a knife to a child” or a madman cf. Athen. 5.52, Iambl. Protrep. 18k, Jebb's Bentley , p. 69, where Jebb misses Bentley's allusion to it.
5 The argument, or one side of it, is often treated as a thesis which may be thus transferred. Cf. Philebus 12 A, Charmides 162 E, Protagoras 331 A.
6 Cicero Ad Att. iv. 16 “Credo Platonem vix putasse satis consonum fore, si hominem id aetatis in tam longo sermone diutius retinuisset,” Bagehot, Hartley Coleridge, “It (metaphysical debate) attracts the scorn of middle-aged men, who depart πρὸς τὰ ἱερά,” etc.
7 The defintion is not found in the fragments of Simonides. Cf. 433 E, and the Roman Jurists' “Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas suum cuique tribuens.” For the various meanings of the Greek word cf. my Articles “Righteousness” and “Theognis” in Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics.
8 The Platonic Socrates ironically treats the poets as inspired but not wise because they cannot explain their fine sayings.Apology 22 A-B, Ion 542 A. He always assumes that the utterances of the “wise” men must be true.Theaetetus 152 B, Phaedrus 260 A, Laws 888 E, Euthydemus 280 A. But they are often obscure, and he reserves for himself the right of interpretation (335 E). Since the poets contradict one another and cannot be cross-examined they are not to be taken seriously as authorities.Protagoras 347 E, Meno 71 D, Lysis 214-215, Hippias Minor 365 D.
9 Owing to the rarity of banks “reddere depositum” was throughout antiquity the typical instance of just conduct. Cf. 442 E, Mayor on Juvenal Satire 13. 15, Herodotus. vi. 86, Democr. fr. 265 Diels, Philo, De spec. leg. 4. 67. Salt was a symbol of justice because it preserves ἃ παραλαμβάνει: Diogenes Laertius viii. 35. Earth is “iustissima tellus” because she returns the seed with interest. Socrates' distinction between the fact of returning a deposit, and returning it rightly is expressed in Stoic terminology: “ut si iuste depositum reddere in recte factis sit, in officiis ponatur depositum reddere,” Cicero De fin. iii. 18.
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