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[334a] the very same man is a good guardian of an army who is good at stealing a march1 upon the enemy in respect of their designs and proceedings generally.” “Certainly.” “Of whatsoever, then, anyone is a skilful guardian, of that he is also a skilful thief?” “It seems so.” “If then the just man is an expert in guarding money he is an expert in stealing it.” “The argument certainly points that way.”2“A kind of thief then the just man it seems has turned out to be, and it is likely that you acquired this idea from Homer.3 For he regards with complacency Autolycus,4

1 The play on the Greek word recalls Shakespeare's “If you do take a thief . . . let him show himself what he is and steal out of your company,”Much Ado, III. iii.

2 The qualified assent here marks the speaker's perception that something is wrong. But often it expresses modesty or is a mere mannerism. Cf. 399 D, 401 D, 409 C, 410 A, 553 E, etc.

3 Plato playfully follows the fashion of tracing all modern wisdom to Homer. Cf. Theaetetus 152 E.

4 “A snapper-up of unconsidered trifles” (Winter's Tale, IV. iii. 26), whom Homer celebrates (Hom. Od. 19.395). The naivete of Homer's “amoral” standpoint (Cf. Odyssey xiii. 290 ff.) tickles Plato's sense of humor, and he amuses himself by showing that the popular rule “help friends and harm enemies” is on the same ethical plane. So in the Euthyphro, popular piety is gravely reduced to a kind of καπηλεία or retail trade in prayer and blessings. Cf. also Dio Chrys.Or. xi. 315 R., and modern laments over the “Decay of Lying.”

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