PLATO (427-347 B.C.)
Plato was the son of Ariston and a citizen of Athens.
His mother was Perictione (or Potone), who traced
back her descent to Solon. For Solon had a brother,
Dropides; he was the father of Critias, who was the
father of Callaeschrus, who was the father of Critias,
one of the Thirty, as well as of Glaucon, who was the
father of Charmides and Perictione. Thus Plato,
the son of this Perictione and Ariston, was in the
sixth generation from Solon. And Solon traced his
descent to Neleus and Poseidon. His father too is
said to be in the direct line from Codrus, the son of
Melanthus, and, according to Thrasylus, Codrus and
Melanthus also trace their descent from Poseidon.
Speusippus in the work entitled
, Clearchus in his
Encomium on Plato
Anaxilaïdes in his second book
us that there was a story at Athens that Ariston
made violent love to Perictione, then in her bloom,
and failed to win her; and that, when he ceased to
offer violence, Apollo appeared to him in a dream,
whereupon he left her unmolested until her child
Apollodorus in his
fixes the date of
Plato's birth in the 88th Olympiad, on the seventh
day of the month Thargelion, the same day on which
the Delians say that Apollo himself was born. He
died, according to Hermippus, at a wedding feast,
in the first year of the 108th Olympiad, in his eightyfirst year.1
Neanthes, however, makes him
die at the
age of eighty-four. He is thus seen to be six years
the junior of Isocrates. For Isocrates was born in the
archonship of Lysimachus,2
Plato in that
the year of Pericles' death.3
He belonged to
deme Collytus, as is stated by Antileon in his second
He was born, according to some,
in Aegina, in the house of Phidiades, the son of
Thales, as Favorinus states in his
, for his father had been sent along with
others to Aegina to settle in the island, but returned
to Athens when the Athenians were expelled by the
Lacedaemonians, who championed the Aeginetan
cause. That Plato acted as choregus at Athens, the
cost being defrayed by Dion, is stated by Athenodorus in the eighth book of a work entitled
He had two brothers, Adeimantus and Glaucon, and
a sister, Potone, who was the mother of Speusippus.
He was taught letters in the school of Dionysius,
who is mentioned by him in the
learnt gymnastics under Ariston, the Argive wrestler.
And from him he received the name of Plato on
account of his robust figure, in place of his original
name which was Aristocles, after his grandfather, as
Alexander informs us in his
But others affirm that he got the name Plato from
the breadth of his style, or from the breadth of his
forehead, as suggested by Neanthes. Others again
affirm that he wrestled in the Isthmian Games--this
is stated by Dicaearchus in his first book
and that he applied himself to painting and wrote
poems, first dithyrambs, afterwards lyric poems and
tragedies. He had, they say, a weak voice; this is
confirmed by Timotheus the Athenian in his book
It is stated that Socrates in a dream
a cygnet on his knees, which all at once put forth
plumage, and flew away after uttering a loud sweet
note. And the next day Plato was introduced as a
pupil, and thereupon he recognized in him the swan
of his dream.4
At first he used to study philosophy in the
Academy, and afterwards in the garden at Colonus
(as Alexander states in his
as a follower of Heraclitus. Afterwards, when he
was about to compete for the prize with a tragedy,
he listened to Socrates in front of the theatre of
and then consigned his poems to the
flames, with the words6
Come hither, O fire-god, Plato now has need of
thee.e)/peita me/ntoi . . . ti sei=o xati/zei. It is suggested that
this sentence also is an insertion by Diogenes, which interrupts the real sequence of the narrative.
From that time onward, having reached his twentieth
year (so it is said), he was the pupil of Socrates.
When Socrates was gone, he attached himself to
Cratylus the Heraclitean, and to Hermogenes who
professed the philosophy of Parmenides. Then at
the age of twenty-eight, according to Hermodorus,
he withdrew to Megara to Euclides, with certain
other disciples of Socrates. Next he proceeded to
Cyrene on a visit to Theodorus the mathematician,
thence to Italy to see the Pythagorean philosophers
Philolaus and Eurytus, and thence to Egypt to see
those who interpreted the will of the gods; and
Euripides is said to have accompanied him thither.
There he fell sick and was cured by the priests, who
treated him with sea-water, and for this reason he
cited the line8
The sea doth wash away all human ills.
Furthermore he said that, according to Homer,9
beyond all men the Egyptians were skilled in healing.
Plato also intended to make the acquaintance of the
Magians, but was prevented by the wars in Asia.
Having returned to Athens, he lived in the Academy,
which is a gymnasium outside the walls, in a grove
named after a certain hero, Hecademus, as is stated
by Eupolis in his play entitled
In the shady walks of the divine
Moreover, there are verses of Timon which refer to
Amongst all of them Plato was the leader, a big fish, but
a sweet-voiced speaker, musical in prose as the cicala who,
perched on the trees of Hecademus, pours forth a strain as
delicate as a lily.
Thus the original name of the place was Hecademy,
Now Plato was a friend of Isocrates.
And Praxiphanes makes them converse about poets
at a country-seat where Plato was entertaining
Isocrates. And Aristoxenus asserts that he went
on service three times, first to Tanagra, secondly
to Corinth, and thirdly at Delium, where also he
obtained the prize of valour. He mixed together
doctrines of Heraclitus, the Pythagoreans and
Socrates. In his doctrine of sensible things he
agrees with Heraclitus, in his doctrine of the intelligible with Pythagoras, and in political philosophy
Some authorities, amongst them Satyrus, say that
he wrote to Dion in Sicily instructing him to purchase three Pythagorean books from Philolaus for
100 minae. For they say he was well off, having
received from Dionysius over eighty talents. This
is stated by Onetor in an essay upon the theme,
"Whether a wise man will make money." Further,
he derived great assistance from Epicharmus the
Comic poet, for he transcribed a great deal from
him, as Alcimus says in the essays dedicated to
Amyntas, of which there are four. In the first of
them he writes thus:
"It is evident that Plato often employs the words
Just consider. Plato asserts that
the object of sense is that which never abides in
quality or quantity, but is ever in flux and change.
The assumption is that the things from which you
take away number are no longer equal nor determinate, nor have they quantity or quality. These
are the things to which becoming always, and being
never, belongs. But the object of thought is something constant from which nothing is subtracted, to
which nothing is added. This is the nature of the
eternal things, the attribute of which is to be ever
alike and the same. And indeed Epicharmus has
expressed himself plainly about objects of sense and
objects of thought.
a. But gods there always were; never at any time were
they wanting, while things in this world are always alike,
and are brought about through the same agencies.
b. Yet it is said that Chaos was the first-born of the
a. How so? If indeed there was nothing out of which,
or into which, it could come first.
b. What! Then did nothing come first after all?
a. No, by Zeus, nor second either,
at least of the things
which we are thus talking about now; on the contrary, they
existed from all eternity. . . .
a. But suppose some one chooses to add a single pebble
to a heap containing either an odd or an even number,
whichever you please, or to take away one of those already
there; do you think the number of pebbles would remain
b. Not I.
a. Nor yet, if one chooses to add to a cubit-measure
or cut off
some of what was there already,
would the original measure still exist?
b. Of course not.
a. Now consider mankind in this same way. One man
grows, and another again shrinks; and they are all undergoing change the whole time. But a thing which naturally
changes and never remains in the same state must ever be
different from that which has thus changed. And even so
you and I were one pair of men yesterday, are another
to-day, and again will be another to-morrow, and will never
remain ourselves, by this same argument."
Again, Alcimus makes this further statement:
"There are some things, say the wise, which the
soul perceives through the body, as in seeing and
hearing; there are other things which it discerns by
itself without the aid of the body. Hence it follows
that of existing things some are objects of sense and
others objects of thought. Hence Plato said that, if
we wish to take in at one glance the principles
underlying the universe, we must first distinguish
the ideas by themselves, for example, likeness, unity
and plurality, magnitude, rest and motion; next we
must assume the existence of
justice and the like, each existing in and for itself;
in the third place we must see how many of the
ideas are relative to other ideas, as are knowledge,
or magnitude, or ownership, remembering that the
things within our experience bear the same names
as those ideas because they partake of them; I
mean that things which partake of justice are just,
things which partake of beauty are beautiful. Each
one of the ideas is eternal, it is a notion, and moreover is incapable of change. Hence Plato says that
they stand in nature like archetypes, and that all
things else bear a resemblance to the ideas because
they are copies of these archetypes. Now here are
the words of Epicharmus about the good and about
a. Is flute-playing a thing?
b. Most certainly.
a. Is man then flute-playing?
b. By no means.
a. Come, let me see, what is a flute-player? Whom do
you take him to be? Is he not a man?
b. Most certainly.
a. Well, don't you think the same would be the case with
the good? Is not the good in itself a thing? And does not
he who has learnt that thing and knows it at once become
good? For, just as he becomes a flute-player by learning
flute-playing, or a dancer when he has learnt dancing, or a
plaiter when he has learnt plaiting, in the same way, if he
has learnt anything of the sort, whatever you like, he would
not be one with the craft but he would be the craftsman.
Now Plato in conceiving his theory of Ideas says14
Since there is such a thing as memory, there must
be ideas present in things, because memory is of
something stable and permanent, and nothing is
permanent except the ideas. `For how,' he says,
`could animals have survived unless they had apprehended the idea and had been endowed by Nature
with intelligence to that end? As it is, they remember similarities and what their food is like,
which shows that animals have the innate power of
discerning what is similar. And hence they perceive others of their own kind.' How then does
Epicharmus put it?
Wisdom is not confined, Eumaeus, to one kind alone, but
all living creatures likewise have understanding. For, if
you will study intently the hen among poultry, she does not
bring forth the chicks alive, but sits clucking on the eggs
and wakens life in them. As for this wisdom of hers, the
true state of the case is known to Nature alone, for the hen
has learnt it from herself.
It is no wonder then that we talk thus and are pleased
with ourselves and think we are fine folk. For a dog
appears the fairest of things to a dog, an ox to an ox, an
ass to an ass, and verily a pig to a pig."
These and the like instances Alcimus notes through
four books, pointing out the assistance derived by
Plato from Epicharmus. That Epicharmus himself
was fully conscious of his wisdom can also be seen
from the lines in which he foretells that he will have
And as I think--for when I think anything I know it full
well--that my words will some day be remembered; some
one will take them and free them from the metre in which
they are now set, nay, will give them instead a purple robe,
embroidering it with fine phrases; and, being invincible, he
will make every one else an easy prey.
Plato, it seems, was the first to bring to Athens
the mimes of Sophron which had been neglected,
and to draw characters in the style of that writer;
a copy of the mimes, they say, was actually found
under his pillow. He made three voyages to Sicily,
the first time to see the island and the craters of
Etna: on this occasion Dionysius, the son of Hermocrates, being on the throne, forced him to become
intimate with him. But when Plato held forth on
tyranny and maintained that the interest of the
ruler alone was not the best end, unless he were
also pre-eminent in virtue, he offended Dionysius,
who in his anger exclaimed, "You talk like an old
dotard." "And you like a tyrant," rejoined Plato.
At this the tyrant grew furious and at first was bent
on putting him to death; then, when he had been
dissuaded from this by Dion and Aristomenes, he
did not indeed go so far but handed him over to
Pollis the Lacedaemonian, who had just then arrived
on an embassy, with orders to sell him into slavery.
And Pollis took him to Aegina and there offered him
for sale. And then Charmandrus, the son of Charmandrides, indicted him on a capital charge according
to the law in force among the Aeginetans, to the
effect that the first Athenian who set foot upon the
island should be put to death without a trial. This
law had been passed by the prosecutor himself,
according to Favorinus in his
But when some one urged, though in jest, that the
offender was a philosopher, the court acquitted him.
There is another version to the effect that he was
brought before the assembly and, being kept under
close scrutiny, he maintained an absolute silence and
awaited the issue with confidence. The assembly
decided not to put him to death but to sell him just
as if he were a prisoner of war.
Anniceris the Cyrenaic happened to be present
and ransomed him for twenty minae--according to
others the sum was thirty minae--and dispatched
him to Athens to his friends, who immediately remitted the money. But Anniceris declined it, saying
that the Athenians were not the only people worthy
of the privilege of providing for Plato. Others assert
that Dion sent the money and that Anniceris would
not take it, but bought for Plato the little garden
which is in the Academy. Pollis, however, is stated
to have been defeated by Chabrias and afterwards to
have been drowned at Helice,16
his treatment of the
philosopher having provoked the wrath of heaven,
as Favorinus says in the first book of his
Dionysius, indeed, could not rest. On learning the
facts he wrote and enjoined upon Plato not to speak
evil of him. And Plato replied that he had not the
leisure to keep Dionysius in his mind.
The second time he visited the younger Dionysius,
requesting of him lands and settlers for the realization of his republic. Dionysius promised them but
did not keep his word. Some say that Plato was
also in great danger, being suspected of encouraging
Dion and Theodotas in a scheme for liberating the
whole island; on this occasion Archytas the Pythagorean wrote to Dionysius, procured his pardon, and
got him conveyed safe to Athens. The letter runs
"Archytas to Dionysius, wishing him good health.
"We, being all of us the friends of Plato, have
sent to you Lamiscus and Photidas in order to take
the philosopher away by the terms of the agreement
made with you. You will do well to remember the
zeal with which you urged us all to secure Plato's
coming to Sicily, determined as you were to persuade him and to undertake, amongst other things,
responsibility for his safety so long as he stayed with
you and on his return. Remember this too, that
you set great store by his coming, and from that time
had more regard for him than for any of those at
your court. If he has given you offence, it behoves
you to behave with humanity and restore him to us
unhurt. By so doing you will satisfy justice and at
the same time put us under an obligation."
The third time he came to reconcile Dion and
Dionysius, but, failing to do so, returned to his own
country without achieving anything. And there he
refrained from meddling with politics, although his
writings show that he was a statesman. The reason
was that the people had already been accustomed
to measures and institutions quite different from
his own. Pamphila in the twenty-fifth book of her
says that the Arcadians and
when they were founding Megalopolis, invited Plato
to be their legislator; but that, when he discovered
that they were opposed to equality of possessions,
he refused to go.17
There is a story that he pleaded
for Chabrias the general when he was tried for his
life, although no one else at Athens would do so,
and that, on this occasion, as he was going up to the
Acropolis along with Chabrias, Crobylus the informer
met him and said, "What, are you come to speak
for the defence? Don't you know that the hemlock
of Socrates awaits you?" To this Plato replied,
"As I faced dangers when serving in the cause of
my country, so I will face them now in the cause of
duty for a friend."
He was the first to introduce argument by means
of question and answer, says Favorinus in the eighth
book of his
; he was the
to explain to Leodamas of Thasos the method of
solving problems by analysis18
; and the first
philosophical discussion employed the terms antipodes, element, dialectic, quality, oblong number,
and, among boundaries, the plane superficies; also
He was also the first philosopher who controverted
the speech of Lysias, the son of Cephalus, which he
has set out word for word in the
first to study the significance of grammar. And, as
he was the first to attack the views of almost all his
predecessors, the question is raised why he makes
no mention of Democritus. Neanthes of Cyzicus
says that, on his going to Olympia, the eyes of all
the Greeks were turned towards him, and there he
met Dion, who was about to make his expedition
against Dionysius. In the first book of the
of Favorinus there is a statement that
Mithradates the Persian set up a statue of Plato in
the Academy and inscribed upon it these words:
"Mithradates the Persian, the son of Orontobates,
dedicated to the Muses a likeness of Plato made by
Heraclides declares that in his youth he was so
modest and orderly that he was never seen to laugh
outright. In spite of this he too was ridiculed by the
Comic poets. At any rate Theopompus in his
There is not anything that is truly one, even the number
two is scarcely one, according to Plato.
He was eating olives exactly like Plato.
Then there is Timon who puns on his name thus:22
As Plato placed strange platitudes.
Alexis again in the
You have come in the nick of time. For I am at my
wits' end and walking up and down, like Plato, and yet
have discovered no wise plan but only tired my legs.
And in the
You don't know what you are talking about: run about
with Plato, and you'll know all about soap and onions.
too, in the
a. And as for the good, whatever that be, that you are
likely to get on her account, I know no more about it,
master, than I do of the good of Plato.
b. Just attend.
And in the
O Plato, all you know is how to frown with eyebrows
lifted high like any snail.
The False Changeling
a. Clearly you are a man and have a soul.
b. In Plato's words, I am not sure but suspect that I have.
And Alexis in the
a. My mortal body withered up, my immortal part sped
into the air.
b. Is not this a lecture of Plato's?
And in the
Or, with Plato, to converse alone.
again, in the
, and in
, has a gibe at him.
Aristippus in his fourth book
On the Luxury of the
says that he was attached to a youth named
Aster, who joined him in the study of astronomy, as
also to Dion who has been mentioned above, and, as
some aver, to Phaedrus too. His passionate affection
is revealed in the following epigrams which he is
said to have written upon them31
Star-gazing Aster, would I were the skies,
To gaze upon thee with a thousand eyes.
Among the living once the Morning Star,
Thou shin'st, now dead, like Hesper from afar.
And he wrote thus upon Dion32
Tears from their birth the lot had been
Of Ilium's daughters and their queen.
By thee, O Dion, great deeds done
New hopes and larger promise won.
Now here thou liest gloriously,
How deeply loved, how mourned by me.
This, they say, was actually inscribed upon his tomb
Again, it is said that being enamoured of Alexis
and Phaedrus, as before mentioned, he composed
the following lines33
Now, when Alexis is of no account, I have said no more
than this. He is fair to see, and everywhere all eyes are
turned upon him. Why, my heart, do you show the dogs
a bone? And then will you smart for this hereafter? Was
it not thus that we lost Phaedrus?
He is also credited with a mistress, Archeanassa, upon
whom he wrote as follows34
I have a mistress, fair Archeanassa of Colophon, on whose
very wrinkles sits hot love. O hapless ye who met such
beauty on its first voyage, what a flame must have been
kindled in you!
There is another upon Agathon35
While kissing Agathon, my soul leapt to my lips, as if
fain, alas! to pass over to him.
I throw an apple to you and, if indeed you are willing to
love me, then receive it and let me taste your virgin charms.
But if you are otherwise minded, which heaven forbid, take
this very apple and see how short-lived all beauty is.
An apple am I, thrown by one who loves you. Nay,
Xanthippe, give consent, for you and I are both born to
It is also said that the epigram on the Eretrians,
who were swept out of the country, was written by
We are Eretrians by race, from Euboea, and lie near
Susa. How far, alas, from our native land!
Thus Venus to the Muses spoke:
Damsels, submit to Venus' yoke,
Or dread my Cupid's arms.
Those threats, the virgins nine replied,
May weigh with Mars, but we deride
Love's wrongs, or darts, or charms.
A certain person found some gold,
Carried it off and, in its stead,
Left a strong halter, neatly rolled.
The owner found his treasure fled,
And, daunted by his fortune's wreck,
Fitted the halter to his neck.
Further, Molon, being his enemy, said, "It is not
wonderful that Dionysius should be in Corinth, but
rather that Plato should be in Sicily." And it seems
that Xenophon was not on good terms with him.
At any rate, they have written similar narratives as
if out of rivalry with each other, a
Defence of Socrates
, and their moral treatises
Next, the one wrote a
And in the
Plato declares the story of the education of Cyrus to be a
fiction, for that Cyrus did not answer to the description of him. And although both make mention of
Socrates, neither of them refers to the other, except
that Xenophon mentions Plato in the third book of
It is said also that Antisthenes,
being about to read publicly something that he had
composed, invited Plato to be present. And on his
inquiring what he was about to read, Antisthenes
replied that it was something about the impossibility
of contradiction. "How then," said Plato, "can
you write on this subject?" thus showing him that
the argument refutes itself. Thereupon he wrote a
dialogue against Plato and entitled it
this they continued to be estranged from one another.
They say that, on hearing Plato read the
Socrates exclaimed, "By Heracles, what a number
of lies this young man is telling about me!" For
he has included in the dialogue much that Socrates
Plato was also on bad terms with Aristippus. At
least in the dialogue
Of the Soul43
he disparages him
by saying that he was not present at the death of
Socrates, though he was no farther off than Aegina.
Again, they say that he showed a certain jealousy of
Aeschines, because of his reputation with Dionysius,
and that, when he arrived at the court, he was
despised by Plato because of his poverty, but supported by Aristippus. And Idomeneus asserts that
the arguments used by Crito, when in the prison he
urges Socrates to escape, are really due to Aeschines,
and that Plato transferred them to Crito because of
his enmity to Aeschines.
Nowhere in his writings does Plato mention himself
by name, except in the dialogue
On the Soul44
remarks that the style of
the dialogues is half-way between poetry and prose.
And according to Favorinus, when Plato read the
On the Soul
, Aristotle alone stayed to
end; the rest of the audience got up and went
away. Some say that Philippus of Opus copied out
, which were left upon waxen tablets, and
it is said that he was the author of the
Euphorion and Panaetius relate that the beginning of
was found several times revised and
rewritten, and the
to have been nearly all of it included in the
There is a story that the
was his first dialogue. For the subject
has about it something of the freshness of youth.
Dicaearchus, however, censures its whole style as
A story is told that Plato once saw some one playing
at dice and rebuked him. And, upon his protesting
that he played for a trifle only, "But the habit,"
rejoined Plato, "is not a trifle." Being asked
whether there would be any memoirs of him as of
his predecessors, he replied, "A man must first
make a name, and he will have no lack of memoirs."
One day, when Xenocrates had come in, Plato asked
him to chastise his slave, since he was unable to do
it himself because he was in a passion.
is alleged that he said to one of his slaves, "I would
have given you a flogging, had I not been in a
passion." Being mounted on horseback, he quickly
got down again, declaring that he was afraid he
would be infected with horse-pride. He advised
those who got drunk to view themselves in a mirror;
for they would then abandon the habit which so
disfigured them. To drink to excess was nowhere
becoming, he used to say, save at the feasts of the
god who was the giver of wine. He also disapproved
of over - sleeping. At any rate in the
"no one when asleep is good for anything." He also said that the truth is the pleasantest
of sounds. Another version of this saying is that the
pleasantest of all things is to speak the truth. Again,
of truth he speaks thus in the
: "Truth, O
stranger, is a fair and durable thing. But it is a
thing of which it is hard to persuade men." His wish
always was to leave a memorial of himself behind,
either in the hearts of his friends or in his books.
He was himself fond of seclusion according to some
His death, the circumstances of which have already
been related, took place in the thirteenth year of
the reign of King Philip, as stated by Favorinus in
the third book of his
, and according
honours were paid to
him at his death
Myronianus in his
that Philo mentions some proverbs that were in
circulation about Plato's lice, implying that this was
the mode of his death.
He was buried in the
Academy, where he spent the greatest part of his
life in philosophical study. And hence the school
which he founded was called the Academic school.
And all the students there joined in the funeral
procession. The terms of his will were as follows:
"These things have been left and devised by
Plato: the estate in Iphistiadae, bounded on the
north by the road from the temple at Cephisia, on
the south by the temple of Heracles in Iphistiadae,
on the east by the property of Archestratus of
Phrearrhi, on the west by that of Philippus of
Chollidae: this it shall be unlawful for anyone to
sell or alienate, but it shall be the property of the
boy Adeimantus to all intents and purposes:
estate in Eiresidae which I bought of Callimachus,
bounded on the north by the property of Eurymedon
of Myrrhinus, on the south by the property of
Demostratus of Xypete, on the east by that of
Eurymedon of Myrrhinus, and on the west by the
Cephisus; three minae of silver; a silver vessel
weighing 165 drachmas; a cup weighing 45
drachmas; a gold signet-ring and earring together
weighing four drachmas and three obols. Euclides
the lapidary owes me three minae. I enfranchise
Artemis. I leave four household servants, Tychon,
Bictas, Apollonides and Dionysius.
furniture, as set down in the inventory of which
Demetrius has the duplicate. I owe no one anything.
My executors are Leosthenes, Speusippus, Demetrius,
Hegias, Eurymedon, Callimachus and Thrasippus."
Such were the terms of his will. The following
epitaphs were inscribed upon his tomb50
Here lies the god-like man Aristocles, eminent among men
for temperance and the justice of his character. And he, if
ever anyone, had the fullest meed of praise for wisdom, and
was too great for envy.
Earth in her bosom here hides Plato's body, but his soul
hath its immortal station with the blest, Ariston's son,
whom every good man, even if he dwell afar off, honours
because he discerned the divine life.
And a third of later date52
a. Eagle, why fly you o'er this tomb? Say, is your
gaze fixed upon the starry house of one of the immortals?
b. I am the image of the soul of Plato, which has soared
to Olympus, while his earth-born body rests in Attic soil.
There is also an epitaph of my own which runs
If Phoebus did not cause Plato to be born in Greece,
how came it that he healed the minds of men by letters?
As the god's son Asclepius is a healer of the body, so is
Plato of the immortal soul.
And another on the manner of his death54
Phoebus gave to mortals Asclepius and Plato, the one to
save their souls, the other to save their bodies. From a
wedding banquet he has passed to that city which he had
founded for himself and planted in the sky.
Such then are his epitaphs.
His disciples were Speusippus of Athens, Xenocrates of Chalcedon, Aristotle of Stagira, Philippus
of Opus, Hestiaeus of Perinthus, Dion of Syracuse,
Amyclus of Heraclea, Erastus and Coriscus of
Scepsus, Timolaus of Cyzicus, Euaeon of Lampsacus,
Python and Heraclides of Aenus, Hippothales and
Callippus of Athens, Demetrius of Amphipolis,
Heraclides of Pontus, and many others, among them
two women, Lastheneia of Mantinea and Axiothea
of Phlius, who is reported by Dicaearchus to have
worn men's clothes. Some say that Theophrastus
too attended his lectures. Chamaeleon adds Hyper-
ides the orator and Lycurgus,
and in this Polemo
agrees. Sabinus makes Demosthenes his pupil,
quoting, in the fourth book of his
, Mnesistratus of Thasos as his authority.
And it is not improbable.55
Now, as you are an enthusiastic Platonist, and
rightly so, and as you eagerly seek out that philosopher's doctrines in preference to all others, I have
thought it necessary to give some account of the
true nature of his discourses, the arrangement of the
dialogues, and the method of his inductive procedure, as far as possible in an elementary manner
and in main outline, in order that the facts I have
collected respecting his life may not suffer by the
omission of his doctrines. For, in the words of the
proverb, it would be taking owls to Athens, were
I to give you of all people the full particulars.
They say that Zeno the Eleatic was the first to
write dialogues. But, according to Favorinus in his
, Aristotle in the first book of his
asserts that it was Alexamenus of Styra
Teos. In my opinion Plato, who brought this form
of writing to perfection, ought to be adjudged the
prize for its invention as well as for its embellishment.
A dialogue is a discourse consisting of question and
answer on some philosophical or political subject,
with due regard to the characters of the persons
introduced and the choice of diction. Dialectic is
the art of discourse by which we either refute or
establish some proposition by means of question and
answer on the part of the interlocutors.
Of the Platonic dialogues there are two most
general types, the one adapted for instruction and
the other for inquiry. And the former is further
divided into two types, the theoretical and the
practical. And of these the theoretical is divided
into the physical and logical, and the practical into
the ethical and political. The dialogue of inquiry
also has two main divisions, the one of which aims at
training the mind and the other at victory in controversy. Again, the part which aims at training
the mind has two subdivisions, the one akin to the
midwife's art, the other merely tentative. And that
suited to controversy is also subdivided into one part
which raises critical objections, and another which
is subversive of the main position.
I am not unaware that there are other ways in
which certain writers classify the dialogues. For
some dialogues they call dramatic, others narrative,
and others again a mixture of the two. But the
terms they employ in their classification of the
dialogues are better suited to the stage than to
philosophy. Physics is represented by the
logic by the
Statesman, Cratylus, Parmenides
, ethics by the
Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus
, as well as by the
Epistles, Philebus, Hipparchus
lastly politics by the
, and the dialogue concerning Atlantis.56
To the class of mental obstetrics belong the two
Alcibiades, Theages, Lysis
, while the
Euthyphro, Meno, Io, Charmides
illustrate the tentative method. In the
seen the method of critical objections; in the
, and the two dialogues
that of subversive argument. So much then
for dialogue, its definition and varieties.
Again, as there is great division of opinion between
those who affirm and those who deny that Plato was
a dogmatist, let me proceed to deal with this further
question. To be a dogmatist in philosophy is to lay
down positive dogmas, just as to be a legislator is
to lay down laws. Further, under dogma two things
are included, the thing opined and the opinion itself.
Of these the former is a proposition, the latter a
conception. Now where he has a firm grasp Plato
expounds his own view and refutes the false one,
but, if the subject is obscure, he suspends judgement.
His own views are expounded by four persons,
Socrates, Timaeus, the Athenian Stranger,57
These strangers are not, as
hold, Plato and Parmenides, but imaginary characters
for, even when
Socrates and Timaeus
are the speakers, it is Plato's doctrines that are laid
down. To illustrate the refutation of false opinions,
he introduces Thrasymachus, Callicles, Polus, Gorgias,
Protagoras, or again Hippias, Euthydemus and the
In constructing his proofs he makes most use of
induction, not always in the same way, but under
two forms. For induction is an argument which by
means of certain true premisses properly infers a
truth resembling them. And there are two kinds of
induction, the one proceeding by way of contradiction, the other from agreement. In the kind which
proceeds by contradiction the answer given to every
question will necessarily be the contrary of the
"My father is
than or the same as your father. If then your
father is other than my father, by being other than
a father he will not be a father. But if he is the
same as my father, then by being the same as my
father he will be my father."
And again: "If
man is not an animal, he will be either a stick or a
stone. But he is not a stick or a stone; for he is
animate and self-moved. Therefore he is an animal.
But if he is an animal, and if a dog or an ox is also
an animal, then man by being an animal will be a
dog and an ox as well." This is the kind of induction
which proceeds by contradiction and dispute, and
Plato used it, not for laying down positive doctrines
but for refutation. The other kind of induction by
agreement appears in two forms, the one proving
the particular conclusion under discussion from a
particular, the other proceeding by way of the universal [by means of particular facts]. The former is
suited to rhetoric, the latter to dialectic. For instance, under the first form the question is raised,
"Did so-and-so commit a murder?" The proof is
that he was found at the time with stains of blood
This is the rhetorical form of induction,
since rhetoric also is concerned with particular facts
and not with universals. It does not inquire about
justice in the abstract, but about particular cases of
justice. The other kind, where the general proposition is first established by means of particular
facts, is the induction of dialectic. For instance, the
question put is whether the soul is immortal, and
whether the living come back from the dead. And
this is proved in the dialogue
On the Soul
of a certain general proposition, that opposites pro-
ceed from opposites. And the general proposition
itself is established by means of certain propositions
which are particular, as that sleep comes from
, the greater from the less
This is the form which he used to
his own views.
But, just as long ago in tragedy the chorus was
the only actor, and afterwards, in order to give the
chorus breathing space, Thespis devised a single
actor, Aeschylus a second, Sophocles a third, and
thus tragedy was completed, so too with philosophy: in early times it discoursed on one subject
only, namely physics, then Socrates added the second
subject, ethics, and Plato the third, dialectics, and
so brought philosophy to perfection. Thrasylus says
that he published his dialogues in tetralogies, like
those of the tragic poets. Thus they contended with
four plays at the Dionysia, the Lenaea, the Panathenaea and the festival of Chytri.60
plays the last was a satiric drama; and the four
together were called a tetralogy.
Now, says Thrasylus, the genuine dialogues are
fifty-six in all, if the
be divided into
into twelve. Favorinus, however, in the
second book of his
nearly the whole of the
is to be found in
a work of Protagoras entitled
gives nine tetralogies, if the
of one single work and the
of another. His
first tetralogy has a common plan underlying it, for
he wishes to describe what the life of the philosopher
will be. To each of the works Thrasylus affixes a
double title, the one taken from the name of the
interlocutor, the other from the subject.
tetralogy, then, which is the first, begins with the
tentative dialogue; the
Apology of Socrates
, an ethical dialogue, comes
second; the third is
what is to be done
ethical; the fourth
, also ethical.
The second tetralogy begins with
Correctness of Names
, a logical dialogue, which is
logical dialogue, the
also logical. The third
tetralogy includes, first,
is logical, next
, an ethical
The fourth tetralogy starts with
the Nature of Man
, an obstetric dialogue; this is
followed by the second
obstetric; then comes
The Lover of
, which is ethical, and
, also ethical. The fifth tetralogy includes, first,
obstetric dialogue, then
which is tentative,
, also obstetric. The sixth tetralogy starts
, a refutative dialogue,
which is followed by
, which is tentative.
The seventh tetralogy
contains, first, two dialogues entitled
, the latter
, both refutative; next
, which is tentative,
, which is
ethical. The eighth tetralogy starts with
, which is ethical, and is followed
, a physical treatise, and
, which is ethical. The ninth tetralogy starts
political dialogue, which is
followed by the
, also political,
and lastly the
, thirteen in number, which
ethical. In these epistles his heading was "Welfare," as that of Epicurus was "A Good Life," and
that of Cleon "All Joy." They comprise: one to
Aristodemus, two to Archytas, four to Dionysius,
one to Hermias, Erastus and Coriscus, one each to
Leodamas, Dion and Perdiccas, and two to Dion's
friends. This is the division adopted by Thrasylus
and some others.
Some, including Aristophanes the grammarian,
arrange the dialogues arbitrarily in trilogies.
first trilogy they place the
; in the second the
; in the third the
in the fourth
in the fifth
follow as separate compositions in no regular order.
Some critics, as has already been stated, put the
first, while others start with the
, and others again with the
begin with the
, others with the
some with the
, others with the
others again with the
, while many begin
The following dialogues are
acknowledged to be spurious: the
Of these the
is thought to be
the work of a certain Leon, according to Favorinus
in the fifth book of his
Plato has employed a variety of terms in order
to make his system less intelligible to the ignorant.
But in a special sense he considers wisdom to be the
science of those things which are objects of thought
and really existent, the science which, he says, is
concerned with God and the soul as separate from
the body. And especially by wisdom he means
philosophy, which is a yearning for divine wisdom.
And in a general sense all experience is also termed
by him wisdom,
when he calls a craftsman
And he applies the same terms with very different
meanings. For instance, the word
plain) is employed by him63
in the sense of
(simple, honest), just as it is applied to Heracles in
of Euripides in the following
staunch to do great deeds,
unversed in talk, with all his store of wisdom curtailed to
But sometimes Plato uses this same word (φαῦλος
to mean what is bad, and at other times for what is
small or petty. Again, he often uses different terms
to express the same thing. For instance, he calls the
Idea form (εἶδος
), genus (γένος
), archetype (παρά-δειγμα
). He also
uses contrary expressions for the same thing. Thus
he calls the sensible thing both existent and non-
existent, existent inasmuch as it comes into being,
non-existent because it is continually changing. And
he says the Idea is neither in motion nor at rest;
that it is uniformly the same and yet both one and
many. And it is his habit to do this in many more
The right interpretation of his dialogues includes
three things: first, the meaning of every statement
must be explained; next, its purpose, whether it is
made for a primary reason or by way of illustration,
and whether to establish his own doctrines or to
refute his interlocutor; in the third place it remains
to examine its truth.
And since certain critical marks are affixed to his
works let us now say a word about these. The cross
X is taken to indicate peculiar expressions and
figures of speech, and generally any idiom of Platonic
(>) calls attention to doctrines
and opinions characteristic of Plato;
the dotted cross
(?) denotes select passages and beauties of style;
(?) editors' corrections of the
(÷) passages suspected without
reason; the dotted antisigma (?) repetitions and
proposals for transpositions; the
philosophical school; the asterisk (?) an agreement
of doctrine; the
(-) a spurious passage. So
much for the critical marks and his writings in
general. As Antigonus of Carystus says in his
, when the writings were first edited with
critical marks, their possessors charged a certain fee
to anyone who wished to consult them.
The doctrines he
approved are these. He held
that the soul is immortal, that by transmigration it
puts on many bodies,67
that it has a numerical
first principle, whereas the first principle of the body
; and he
defined soul as the idea of
vital breath diffused in all directions. He held that
it is self-moved and tripartite, the rational part of it
having its seat in the head, the passionate part about
the heart, while the appetitive is placed in the region
of the navel and the liver.69
And from the centre outwards it encloses the body
on all sides in a circle, and is compounded of elements,
and, being divided at harmonic intervals, it forms
two circles which touch one another twice; and the
interior circle, being slit six times over, makes seven
circles in all. And this interior circle moves by way
of the diagonal to the left, and the other by way of
the side to the right. Hence also the one is supreme,
being a single circle, for the other interior circle was
divided; the former is the circle of the Same, the
latter that of the Other, whereby he means that the
motion of the soul is the motion of the universe
together with the revolutions of the planets.70
And the division from the centre to the circumference which is adjusted in harmony with the soul
being thus determined, the soul knows that which
is, and adjusts it proportionately because she has the
elements proportionately disposed in herself. And
when the circle of the Other revolves aright, the
result is opinion; but from the regular motion of
the circle of the Same comes knowledge. He set
forth two universal principles, God and matter, and
he calls God mind and cause; he held that matter
is devoid of form and unlimited, and that composite
things arise out of it71
; and that it was once in
disorderly motion but, inasmuch as God preferred
order to disorder, was by him brought together in one
This substance, he says, is
the four elements, fire, water, air, earth, of which
the world itself and all that therein is are formed.
Earth alone of these elements is not subject to
change, the assumed cause being the peculiarity of
its constituent triangles. For he thinks that in all
the other elements the figures employed are homogeneous, the scalene triangle out of which they are
all put together being one and the same, whereas
for earth a triangle of peculiar shape is employed;
the element of fire is a pyramid, of air an octahedron,
of water an icosahedron, of earth a cube. Hence
earth is not transmuted into the other three elements,
nor these three into earth.
But the elements are not separated each into its
own region of the universe, because the revolution
unites their minute particles, compressing and forcing
them together into the centre, at the same time as
it separates the larger masses. Hence as they change
their shapes, so also do they change the regions which
And there is one created universe,74
seeing that it
is perceptible to sense, which has been made by God.
And it is animate because that which is animate is
better than that which is inanimate.75
piece of workmanship is assumed to come from a
cause supremely good.76
It was made one and not
unlimited because the pattern from which he made
it was one. And it is spherical because such is the
shape of its maker.
For that maker contains the
other living things, and this universe the shapes of
It is smooth
and has no organ all round
because it has no need of organs. Moreover, the
universe remains imperishable because it is not dissolved into the Deity.78
And the creation
as a whole
is caused by God, because it is the nature of the good
to be beneficent,79
creation of the universe
has the highest good for its cause. For the most
beautiful of created things is due to the best of
; so that, as God is of
and the universe resembles the best in its perfect
beauty, it will not be in the likeness of anything
created, but only of God.
The universe is composed of fire, water, air and
earth; of fire in order to be visible; of earth in
order to be solid; of water and air in order to be
For the powers represented by solids
are connected by two mean proportionals in a way
to secure the complete unity of the whole. And the
universe was made of all the elements in order to be
complete and indestructible.
Time was created as an image of eternity. And
while the latter remains for ever at rest, time consists in the motion of the universe. For night and
day and month and the like are all parts of time;
for which reason, apart from the nature of the
universe, time has no existence. But so soon as the
universe is fashioned time exists.82
And the sun and moon and planets were created
as means to the creation of time. And God kindled
the light of the sun in order that the number of the
seasons might be definite and in order that animals
might possess number. The moon is in the circle
immediately above the earth, and the sun in that
which is next beyond that, and in the circles above
come the planets. Further, the universe is an
animate being, for it is bound fast in animate movement.83
And in order that the universe
been created in the likeness of the intelligible living
creature might be rendered complete, the nature
of all other animals was created. Since then its
pattern possesses them, the universe also ought to
have them. And thus it contains gods for the most
part of a fiery nature; of the rest there are three
kinds, winged, aquatic and terrestrial.84
And of all
the gods in heaven the earth is the oldest. And it
was fashioned to make night and day. And being
at the centre it moves round the centre.85
there are two causes, it must be affirmed, he says,
that some things are due to reason and others have
a necessary cause,86
being air, fire, earth
and water, which are not exactly elements but rather
recipients of form.87
They are composed of triangles,
and are resolved into triangles. The scalene triangle and the isosceles triangle are their constituent
The principles, then, and causes assumed are the
two above mentioned, of which God and matter are
the exemplar. Matter is of necessity formless like
the other recipients of form. Of all these there is
a necessary cause. For it somehow or other receives
the ideas and so generates substances, and it moves
because its power is not uniform, and, being in
motion, it in turn sets in motion those things which
are generated from it. And these were at first in
irrational and irregular motion, but after they began
to frame the universe, under the conditions possible
they were made by God symmetrical and regular.
For the two causes existed even before the world
was made, as well as becoming in the third place, but
they were not distinct, merely traces of them being
found, and in disorder. When the world was made,
they too acquired order.89
And out of all
there are the universe was fashioned. He holds God,
like the soul, to be incorporeal. For only thus is he
exempt from change and decay. As already stated,
he assumes the Ideas to be causes and principles
whereby the world of natural objects is what it is.
On good and evil he would discourse to this effect.
He maintained that the end to aim at is assimilation
to God, that virtue is in itself sufficient for happiness,
but that it needs in addition, as instruments for use,
first, bodily advantages like health and strength,
sound senses and the like, and, secondly, external
advantages such as wealth, good birth and reputation. But the wise man will be no less happy even
if he be without these things. Again, he will take
part in public affairs, will marry, and will refrain
from breaking the laws which have been made. And
as far as circumstances allow he will legislate for
his own country, unless in the extreme corruption of
the people he sees that the state of affairs completely
justifies his abstention.
He thinks that the gods
take note of human life90
and that there are superhuman beings.91
He was the first to define the
notion of good as that which is bound up with
whatever is praiseworthy and rational and useful
and proper and becoming. And all these are bound
up with that which is consistent and in accord with
He also discoursed on the propriety of names, and
indeed he was the first to frame a science for rightly
asking and answering questions, having employed it
himself to excess. And in the dialogues he conceived
righteousness to be the law of God because it is
stronger to incite men to do righteous acts, that
malefactors may not be punished after death also.
Hence to some he appeared too fond of myths.
These narratives he intermingles with his works in
order to deter men from wickedness, by reminding
them how little they know of what awaits them92
death. Such, then, are the doctrines he approved.
He used also to divide things, according to Aristotle, in the following manner.93
Goods are in the
mind or in the body, or external. For example,
justice, prudence, courage, temperance and such like
are in the mind; beauty, a good constitution, health
and strength in the body; while friends, the welfare
of one's country and riches are amongst external
Thus there are three kinds of goods: goods of the
mind, goods of the body and external goods. There
are three species of friendship: one species is natural,
another social, and another hospitable. By natural
friendship we mean the affection which parents have
for their offspring and kinsmen for each other. And
other animals besides man have inherited this form.
By the social form of friendship we mean that which
arises from intimacy and has nothing to do with
kinship; for instance, that of Pylades for Orestes.
The friendship of hospitality is that which is extended
to strangers owing to an introduction or letters of
recommendation. Thus friendship is either natural
or social or hospitable. Some add a fourth species,
that of love.
There are five forms of civil government: one form
is democratic, another aristocratic, a third oligarchic,
a fourth monarchic, a fifth that of a tyrant. The
democratic form is that in which the people has control and chooses at its own pleasure both magistrates
and laws. The aristocratic form is that in which the
rulers are neither the rich nor the poor nor the
nobles, but the state is under the guidance of the
best. Oligarchy is that form in which there is a
property-qualification for the holding of office; for
the rich are fewer than the poor. Monarchy is
either regulated by law or hereditary. At Carthage
the kingship is regulated by law, the office being
put up for sale.94
But the monarchy in Lacedaemon
and in Macedonia is hereditary, for they select the
king from a certain family. A tyranny is that form
in which the citizens are ruled either through fraud
or force by an individual. Thus civil government
is either democratic, aristocratic, oligarchic, or a
monarchy or a tyranny.
There are three species of justice. One is con-
cerned with gods, another with men, and the third
with the departed. For those who sacrifice according to the laws and take care of the temples are
obviously pious towards the gods. Those again who
repay loans and restore what they have received
upon trust act justly towards men. Lastly, those
who take care of tombs are obviously just towards
the departed. Thus one species of justice relates to
the gods, another to men, while a third species is
concerned with the departed.
There are three species of knowledge or science,
one practical, another productive, and a third theoretical. For architecture and shipbuilding are productive arts, since the work produced by them can
be seen. Politics and flute-playing, harp-playing
and similar arts are practical. For nothing visible
is produced by them; yet they do or perform something. In the one case the artist plays the flute or
the harp, in the other the politician takes part in
politics. Geometry and harmonics and astronomy
are theoretical sciences. For they neither perform
nor produce anything. But the geometer considers
how lines are related to each other, the student of
harmony investigates sounds, the astronomer stars
and the universe. Thus some sciences are theoretical,
others are practical, and others are productive.
There are five species of medicine : the first is
pharmacy, the second is surgery, the third deals
with diet and regimen, the fourth with diagnosis,
the fifth with remedies. Pharmacy cures sickness
by drugs, surgery heals by the use of knife and
cautery, the species concerned with diet prescribes
a regimen for the removal of disease, that concerned
with diagnosis proceeds by determining the nature
of the ailment, that concerned with remedies by
prescribing for the immediate removal of the pain.
The species of medicine, then, are pharmacy, surgery, diet and regimen, diagnosis, prescription of
There are two divisions of law, the one written
and the other unwritten. Written law is that under
which we live in different cities, but that which has
arisen out of custom is called unwritten law; for
instance, not to appear in the market-place undressed
or in women's attire. There is no statute forbidding
this, but nevertheless we abstain from such conduct
because it is prohibited by an unwritten law. Thus
law is either written or unwritten.
There are five kinds of speech, of which one is
that which politicians employ in the assemblies;
this is called political speech.
The second division
is that which the rhetors employ in written compositions, whether composed for display or praise or
blame, or for accusation. Hence this division is
termed rhetorical. The third division of speech is
that of private persons conversing with one another;
this is called the mode of speech of ordinary life.
Another division of speech is the language of those
who converse by means of short questions and
answers; this kind is called dialectical. The fifth
division is the speech of craftsmen conversing about
their own subjects; this is called technical language.
Thus speech is either political, or rhetorical, or that
of ordinary conversation, or dialectical, or technical.
Music has three divisions. One employs the mouth
alone, like singing. The second employs both the
mouth and the hands, as is the case with the harper
singing to his own accompaniment. The third
division employs the hands alone; for instance, the
music of the harp. Thus music employs either the
mouth alone, or the mouth and the hands, or the
Nobility has four divisions. First, when the ancestors are gentle and handsome and also just, their
descendants are said to be noble. Secondly, when
the ancestors have been princes or magistrates, their
descendants are said to be noble. The third kind
arises when the ancestors have been illustrious; for
instance, through having held military command or
through success in the national games. For then
we call the descendants noble.
The last division
includes the man who is himself of a generous and
high-minded spirit. He too is said to be noble.
And this indeed is the highest form of nobility.
Thus, of nobility, one kind depends on excellent
ancestors, another on princely ancestors, a third on
illustrious ancestors, while the fourth is due to the
individual's own beauty and worth.
Beauty has three divisions. The first is the object
of praise, as of form fair to see. Another is serviceable; thus an instrument, a house and the like are
beautiful for use. Other things again which relate
to customs and pursuits and the like are beautiful
because beneficial. Of beauty, then, one kind is
matter for praise, another is for use, and another
for the benefit it procures.
The soul has three divisions. One part of it is
rational, another appetitive, and a third irascible.
Of these the rational part is the cause of purpose,
reflection, understanding and the like. The appeti-
tive part of the soul is the cause of desire of eating,
sexual indulgence and the like, while the irascible
part is the cause of courage, of pleasure and pain,
and of anger. Thus one part of the soul is rational,
another appetitive, and a third irascible.
Of perfect virtue there are four species: prudence,
justice, bravery and temperance.
Of these prudence
is the cause of right conduct, justice of just dealing
in partnerships and commercial transactions. Bravery
is the cause which makes a man not give way but
stand his ground in alarms and perils. Temperance
causes mastery over desires, so that we are never
enslaved by any pleasure, but lead an orderly life.
Thus virtue includes first prudence, next justice,
thirdly bravery, and lastly temperance.
Rule has five divisions, one that which is according
to law, another according to nature, another according to custom, a fourth by birth, a fifth by force.
Now the magistrates in cities when elected by their
fellow-citizens rule according to law. The natural
rulers are the males, not only among men, but
also among the other animals; for the males everywhere exert wide-reaching rule over the females.
Rule according to custom is such authority as
attendants exercise over children and teachers over
their pupils. Hereditary rule is exemplified by that
of the Lacedaemonian kings, for the office of king is
confined to a certain family. And the same system
is in force for the kingdom of Macedonia; for there
too the office of king goes by birth. Others have
acquired power by force or fraud, and govern the
citizens against their will; this kind of rule is called
forcible. Thus rule is either by law, or by nature,
or by custom, or by birth, or by force.
There are six kinds of rhetoric. For when the
speakers urge war or alliance with a neighbouring
state, that species of rhetoric is called persuasion.
But when they speak against making war or alliance,
and urge their hearers to remain at peace, this kind
of rhetoric is called dissuasion. A third kind is
employed when a speaker asserts that he is wronged
by some one whom he makes out to have caused
him much mischief; accusation is the name applied
to the kind here defined. The fourth kind of rhetoric
is termed defence; here the speaker shows that he
has done no wrong and that his conduct is in no
respect abnormal; defence is the term applied in
such a case.
A fifth kind of rhetoric is employed
when a speaker speaks well of some one and proves
him to be worthy and honourable; encomium is the
name given to this kind. A sixth kind is that
employed when the speaker shows some one to be unworthy; the name given to this is invective. Under
rhetoric, then, are included encomium, invective,
persuasion, dissuasion, accusation and defence.
Successful speaking has four divisions. The first
consists in speaking to the purpose, the next to the
requisite length, the third before the proper audience,
and the fourth at the proper moment. The things
to the purpose are those which are likely to be
expedient for speaker and hearer. The requisite
length is that which is neither more nor less than
To speak to the proper audience means
this: in addressing persons older than yourself, the
discourse must be made suitable to the audience as
being elderly men; whereas in addressing juniors
the discourse must be suitable to young men.
The proper time of speaking is neither too soon nor
too late; otherwise you will miss the mark and not
speak with success.
Of conferring benefits there are four divisions.
For it takes place either by pecuniary aid or by
personal service, by means of knowledge or of speech.
Pecuniary aid is given when one assists a man in
need, so that he is relieved from all anxiety on the
score of money. Personal service is given when men
come up to those who are being beaten and rescue
Those who train or heal, or who teach something valuable, confer benefit by means of knowledge.
But when men enter a law-court and one appears as
advocate for another and delivers an effective speech
on his behalf, he is benefiting him by speech. Thus
benefits are conferred by means either of money or
of personal service, or of knowledge, or of speech.
There are four ways in which things are completed
and brought to an end. The first is by legal enactment, when a decree is passed and this decree is
confirmed by law. The second is in the course of
nature, as the day, the year and the seasons are
completed. The third is by the rules of art, say the
builder's art, for so a house is completed; and so it
is with shipbuilding, whereby vessels are completed.
Fourthly, matters are brought to an end by chance
or accident, when they turn out otherwise than is
expected. Thus the completion of things is due
either to law, or to nature, or to art, or to chance.
Of power or ability there are four divisions. First,
whatever we can do with the mind, namely calculate
or anticipate; next, whatever we can effect with the
body, for instance, marching, giving, taking and the
like. Thirdly, whatever we can do by a multitude
of soldiers or a plentiful supply of money; hence a
king is said to have great power. The fourth division
of power or influence is doing, or being done by, well
or ill; thus we can become ill or be educated, be
restored to health and the like. Power, then, is
either in the mind, or the body, or in armies and
resources, or in acting and being acted upon.
Philanthropy is of three kinds. One is by way of
salutations, as when certain people address every one
they meet and, stretching out their hand, give him
a hearty greeting; another mode is seen when one
is given to assisting every one in distress; another
mode of philanthropy is that which makes certain
people fond of giving dinners. Thus philanthropy is
shown either by a courteous address, or by conferring
benefits, or by hospitality and the promotion of social
Welfare or happiness includes five parts. One
part of it is good counsel, a second soundness of the
senses and bodily health, a third success in one's
undertakings, a fourth a reputation with one's
fellow-men, a fifth ample means in money and in
whatever else subserves the end of life.
Now deliberating well is a result of education and of having
experience of many things. Soundness of the senses
depends upon the bodily organs: I mean, if one sees
with his eyes, hears with his ears, and perceives
with his nostrils and his mouth the appropriate
objects, then such a condition is soundness of the
senses. Success is attained when a man does what
he aims at in the right way, as becomes a good man.
A man has a good reputation when he is well spoken
of. A man has ample means when he is so equipped
for the needs of life that he can afford to benefit his
friends and discharge his public services with lavish
display. If a man has all these things, he is completely happy. Thus of welfare or happiness one
part is good counsel, another soundness of senses
and bodily health, a third success, a fourth a good
reputation, a fifth ample means.
There are three divisions of the arts and crafts.
The first division consists of mining and forestry,
which are productive arts. The second includes
the smith's and carpenter's arts which transform
material; for the smith makes weapons out of iron,
and the carpenter transforms timber into flutes and
lyres. The third division is that which uses what is
thus made, as horsemanship employs bridles, the art
of war employs weapons, and music flutes and the
lyre. Thus of art there are three several species,
those above-mentioned in the first, second and third
Good is divided into four kinds. One is the possessor of virtue, whom we affirm to be individually
good. Another is virtue itself and justice; these
we affirm to be good. A third includes such things
as food, suitable exercises and drugs. The fourth
kind which we affirm to be good includes the arts of
flute-playing, acting and the like. Thus there are
four kinds of good: the possession of virtue; virtue
itself; thirdly, food and beneficial exercises; lastly,
flute-playing, acting, and the poetic art.
is is either evil or good or indifferent. We call that
evil which is capable of invariably doing harm; for
instance, bad judgement and folly and injustice and
the like. The contraries of these things are good.
But the things which can sometimes benefit and
sometimes harm, such as walking and sitting and
eating, or which can neither do any benefit nor
harm at all, these are things indifferent, neither
good nor evil. Thus all things whatever are either
good, or evil, or neither good nor evil.
Good order in the state falls under three heads.
First, if the laws are good, we say that there is good
government. Secondly, if the citizens obey the
established laws, we also call this good government.
Thirdly, if, without the aid of laws, the people
manage their affairs well under the guidance of
customs and institutions, we call this again good
government. Thus three forms of good government may exist, (1) when the laws are good, (2) when
the existing laws are obeyed, (3) when the people
live under salutary customs and institutions.
Disorder in a state has three forms. The first
arises when the laws affecting citizens and strangers
are alike bad,
the second when the existing laws are
not obeyed, and the third when there is no law at
all. Thus the state is badly governed when the laws
are bad or not obeyed, or lastly, when there is no law.
Contraries are divided into three species. For
instance, we say that goods are contrary to evils, as
justice to injustice, wisdom to folly, and the like.
Again, evils are contrary to evils, prodigality is
contrary to niggardliness, and to be unjustly tortured
is the contrary of being justly tortured, and so with
similar evils. Again, heavy is the contrary of light,
quick of slow, black of white, and these pairs are
contraries, while they are neither good nor evil.
of contraries, some are opposed as goods to evils,
others as evils to evils, and others, as things which are
neither good nor evil, are opposed to one another.
There are three kinds of goods, those which can
be exclusively possessed, those which can be shared
with others, and those which simply exist. To the
first division, namely, those which can be exclusively
possessed, belong such things as justice and health.
To the next belong all those which, though they
cannot be exclusively possessed, can be shared with
others. Thus we cannot possess the absolute good,
but we can participate in it. The third division
includes those goods the existence of which is
necessary, though we can neither possess them exclusively nor participate in them. The mere existence of worth and justice is a good; and these things
cannot be shared or had in exclusive possession, but
must simply exist. Of goods, then, some are possessed exclusively, some shared, and others merely
Counsel is divided under three heads. One is
taken from past time, one from the future, and the
third from the present. That from past time consists of examples; for instance, what the Lacedaemonians suffered through trusting others. Counsel
drawn from the present is to show, for instance, that
the walls are weak, the men cowards, and the
supplies running short. Counsel from the future is.
for instance, to urge that we should not wrong the
embassies by suspicions, lest the fair fame of Hellas
be stained. Thus counsel is derived from the past,
the present and the future.
Vocal sound falls into two divisions according as it
is animate or inanimate. The voice of living things
is animate sound; notes of instruments and noises
are inanimate. And of the animate voice part is
articulate, part inarticulate, that of men being
articulate speech, that of the animals inarticulate.
Thus vocal sound is either animate or inanimate.
Whatever exists is either divisible or indivisible.
Of divisible things some are divisible into similar
and others into dissimilar parts. Those things are
indivisible which cannot be divided and are not
compounded of elements, for example, the unit,
the point and the musical note; whereas those which
have constituent parts, for instance, syllables, concords in music, animals, water, gold, are divisible.
If they are composed of similar parts, so that the
whole does not differ from the part except in bulk,
as water, gold and all that is fusible, and the like,
then they are termed homogeneous. But whatever
is composed of dissimilar parts, as a house and the
like, is termed heterogeneous. Thus all things whatever are either divisible or indivisible, and of those
which are divisible some are homogeneous, others
heterogeneous in their parts.
Of existing things some are absolute and some are
called relative. Things said to exist absolutely are
those which need nothing else to explain them, as
man, horse, and all other animals.
For none of these
gains by explanation. To those which are called
relative belong all which stand in need of some
explanation, as that which is greater than something
or quicker than something, or more beautiful and
the like. For the greater implies a less, and the
quicker is quicker than something. Thus existing
things are either absolute or relative. And in this
way, according to Aristotle, Plato used to divide the
primary conceptions also.
There was also another man named Plato, a
philosopher of Rhodes, a pupil of Panaetius, as is
stated by Seleucus the grammarian in his first book
; another a Peripatetic and pupil of
Aristotle; and another who was a pupil of Praxiphanes; and lastly, there was Plato, the poet of the