When I came to Oxford in September 1980, Dr Kathleen Wilkes – the first Oxford don to give a lecture in my philosophy seminar in Prague, in 1979 – told me: ‘Publish or Perish’. My English was not up to scratch, but Kathy helped, and so we wrote ‘Socrates in the Phaedrus’. She sent the paper to Tony Long, the editor of The Classical Quarterly, who replied to her: ‘I’ve read the article twice, over an interval of ten days. It’s very interesting and stimulating, but I don’t think I can publish it … I considered publishing it and be damned. But I don’t think that would be fair to Julius himself … I don’t see the force of the claim about Lysias – Polemarchus. If Polemarchus had been devoted to philosophy, and had lost his life under a tyrannical regime, why would it be bad taste for Plato to allude to this years later? What about Socrates himself, and his death?’
My claim that Plato’s presentation of Polemarchus in the Phaedrus is relevant to the dating of the dialogue derives its force from Socrates’ assertion that ‘if the victory be won by the higher elements of mind guiding them [the lover and his beloved] into the ordered rule of the philosophic life (ean men dȇ oun eis tetagmenȇn te diaitan kai philosophian nikȇsȇi ta beltiȏ tȇs dianoias agagonta), their days on earth will be blessed with happiness and concord (makarion men kai homonoȇtikon ton enthade bion diagousin, 256a7-b1, tr. Hackforth),’ viewed in its relation to Socrates’ prayer to Eros: ‘Turn Lysias to philosophy, even as his brother Polemarchus has been turned to it (Lusian epi philosophian de, hȏsper h’adelphos autou tetraptai, trepson), so that (hina) his loving admirer here present [i.e. Phaedrus] may (kai ho erastȇs hode autou) cease to waver (mȇketi epamphoterizȇi), as now he does (kathaper nun), but simply (all’ haplȏs) directs his life towards Love with the aid of philosophic discourse (pros Erȏta meta philosophȏn logȏn ton bion poiȇtai, 257b2-6).’ These two points, confronted with the death of Polemarchus in the hands of the Thirty, relate the dialogue to the Solonian view that true happiness cannot be ascribed to any man whose life does not end well.
Tony Long’s comparison of Polemarchus, who ‘had been devoted to philosophy, and had lost his life under a tyrannical regime’ with ‘Socrates himself, and his death’ deserves to be discussed. We don’t have any reference to Polemarchus’ death in Plato, but we have a description of the circumstances in which he died from the pen of his brother Lysias.
Lysias, Against Eratosthenes
‘Polemarchus received from the Thirty their accustomed order (Polemarchȏi de parȇngeilan hoi triakonta t’oup’ ekeinȏn eithismenon parangelma) to drink hemlock (pinein kȏneion), with no statement made as to the reason for his execution (prin tȇn aitian eipein di’ hȇntina emellen apothaneisthai): so far did he come short of (houtȏ pollou edeȇse) being tried (krithȇnai) and defending himself (kai apologȇsasthai). And when he was being brought away dead from the prison (kai epeidȇ apephereto ek tou desmȏtȇriou tethneȏs), although we had three houses among us (triȏn hȇmin oikiȏn ousȏn), they did not permit his funeral to be conducted from any of them (ex oudemias eiasan exenechthȇnai), but they hired a small hut (alla kleision misthȏsamenoi) in which to lay him out (prou’thento auton). We had plenty of cloaks (kai pollȏn ontȏn himatiȏn), yet they refused our request of one for the funeral (aitousin ouden edosan eis tȇn taphȇn); but our friends (alla tȏn philȏn) gave either a cloak, or a pillow, or whatever each had to spare, for his internment (ho men himation, ho de proskephalaion, ho de ho ti hekastos etuchen edȏken eis tȇn ekeinou taphȇn). They had seven hundred shields of ours (kai echontes men heptakosias aspidas tȏn hȇmeterȏn), they had all that silver and gold (echontes de argurion kai chrusion tosouton), with copper (chalkon de), jewellery (kai kosmon), furniture (kai epipla) and women’s apparel (kai himatia gunaikeia) beyond what they had ever expected to get (hosa oudepȏpote ȏionto ktȇsesthai); also a hundred and twenty slaves (kai andrapoda eikosi kai hekaton), of whom they took the ablest (hȏn ta men beltista elabon), delivering the rest to the treasury (ta de loipa eis to dȇmosion apedosan); and yet to what extremes of insatiable greed of gain did they go (eis tosautȇn aplȇstian kai aischrokerdeian aphikonto), in this revelation that they made of their personal character (kai tou tropou tou hautȏn apodeixin epoiȇsanto)! For some twisted earrings, which Polemarchus’ wife chanced to have (tȇs gar Polemarchou gunaikos chrusous heliktȇras, hous echousa etunchanen), were taken off her ears by Melobius as soon as ever he entered the house (hote to prȏton ȇlthen eis tȇn oikian Mȇlobios ek tȏn ȏtȏn exeileto).’ (17-20, tr. W. R. M. Lamb)
Compare this with the way in which Socrates faced his indictment, undergone his trial, refused to escape from prison, and faced death on his last day. At present I shall focus attention to Theaetetus, Euthyphro, and Cratylus, the dialogues in which we are presented with Socrates after he had been indicted, before his trial.
In the Theaetetus Socrates addresses Theodorus, a mathematician from Cyrene, with the words: ‘If I cared more about the people in Cyrene (Ei men tȏn en Kurȇnȇ mallon ekȇdomȇn), Theodorus (ȏ Theodȏre), I’d be asking you about its affairs and its people (ta ekei an se kai peri ekeinȏn anȇrȏtȏn) – whether any of the young men there are taking an interest in geometry or any other way of cultivating wisdom (ei tines autothi peri geȏmetrian ȇ tina allȇn philosophian eisi tȏn neȏn epimeleian poioumenoi). But as things are (nun de), I’m less fond of them than I am of the Athenians (hȇtton gar ekeinous ȇ tousde philȏ), and so I’m keener to know (kai mallon epithumȏ eidenai) which of our young men (tines hȇmin tȏn neȏn) are thought likely to turn well (epidoxoi genesthai epieikeis). So I keep a look-out for that myself (tauta dȇ autos te skopȏ), as far as I can (kath’ hoson dunamai), and ask other people about it too (kai tous allous erȏtȏ) – anyone with whom I see that the young men like to associate (hois an horȏ tous neous ethelontas sungignesthai). Now you have quite large numbers who come to you (soi dȇ ouk oligistoi plȇsiazousi), and justly so (kai dikaiȏs), because you deserve it for several reasons (axios gar ta te alla), and in particular for your geometry (kai geȏmetrias heneka). So if you’ve come across anyone worth talking about (ei dȇ oun tini enetuches axiȏi logou), I’d be glad to hear it (hȇdeȏs an puthoimȇn).’ (143d1-e3, tr. John McDowell)
Introduced to young Theaetetus, Socrates goes on to discuss knowledge with him and Theodorus. He ends the discussion with the words: ‘Well, now I must go to the King’s Porch (nun men oun apantȇteon moi eis tȇn tou basileȏs stoan) to face the charge Meletus has brought against me (epi tȇn Melȇtou graphȇn hȇn me gegraptai). But let’s meet here again, Theodorus, in the morning (heȏthen de, ȏ Theodȏre, deuro palin apantȏmen).’ – With the intellectual and moral well-being of young Athenians foremost in his mind, Socrates went to face the charge of corrupting the youth of Athens.
The dialogue in its entirety presents us with philosophy brought into action by a true philosopher. In its middle section is a cameo: ‘The philosophers always have plenty of time (tois men touto aei paresti, scholȇ); they carry on their discussions in peace and with time to spare (kai tous logous en eirȇnȇi epi scholȇs poiountai). For instance, look at us now (hȏsper hȇmeis nuni), taking up one argument after another: we’re already on our third (triton ȇdȇ logon ek logou metalambanomen). That’s what they’ll do too (houtȏ k’akeinoi), if the next argument to come up attracts them more than the one in front of them, which is what happened to us (ean autous ho epelthȏn tou prokeimenou mallon kathaper hȇmas aresȇi). It doesn’t matter at all whether they talk for a long time or a short one (kai dia makrȏn ȇ bracheȏn melei ouden legein), provided only that they hit on that which is (an monon tuchȏsi tou ontos). (172d4-8) … The one, whom you call a philosopher, has really been brought up in freedom and leisure (ho tropos … tȏi onti en eleutheriai te kai scholȇi tethrammenou, hon dȇ philosophon kaleis, 175d7-e2).’ (Tr. McDowell)
A glance at Xenophon’s Symposium
The notion of scholȇ is central to Socrates’ philosophy. It comes to the fore in Xenophon’s Symposium. Each participant declares what he is most proud of, and Antisthenes prides himself on his riches (epi ploutȏi). Asked how much land he has, he answers ‘Well, perhaps it might prove big enough for Autolycus here to sand himself in’ (Isȏs an Autolukȏi toutȏi hikanȇ genoito enkonisasthai, III. 8; O. J. Todd, the translator, explains: ‘The reference is to the handful or so of dry sand that an athlete put on after oiling his skin’.) Asked ‘tell us (lege hȇmin) how it is that with such slender means (pȏs houtȏ brachea echȏn) you base your pride on wealth (mega phroneis epi ploutȏi)’, Antistenes says: ‘Because I conceive (Hoti nomizȏ) that people’s wealth and poverty are to be found not in their real estate (tous anthrȏpous ouk en tȏi oikȏi ton plouton kai tȇn penian echein) but in their souls (all’ en tais psuchais) … And it is worth noting (axion d’ ennoȇsai) that wealth of this kind makes people generous, also (hoti kai eleutherious ho toioutos ploutos parechetai). For Socrates (Sȏkratȇs te gar houtos), from whom I acquired this wealth of mine (par’ hou egȏ touton ektȇsamȇn), did not come to my relief with limitation of number and weight (out’ arithmȏi oute stathmȏi epȇrkei moi), but made over to me all that I could carry (all’ hoposon edunamȇn pheresthai, tosouton moi paredidou) … But – most exquisite possession of all! (kai mȇn kai to habrotaton ge ktȇma) – you observe that I always have leisure (tȇn scholȇn aei horate moi parousan), with the result that I can go and see whatever is worth seeing (hȏste kai theasthai ta axiotheata), and hear whatever is worth hearing (kai akouein ta axiakousta) and – what I praise highest (kai ho pleistou egȏ timȏmai) – pass the whole day, untroubled by business, in Socrates’ company (Sȏkratei scholazȏn sundiȇmereuein). Like me, he does not bestow his admiration on those who count the most gold (kai houtos de ou tous pleiston arithmountas chrusion thaumazei, all’ hoi an autȏi areskȏsi), but spends his time with those who are congenial to him (toutois sunȏn diatelei). (IV. 34-44, tr. Todd)
Next, Plato brings us to the King’s Porch. Socrates is met there by Euthyphro who intends to indict his father for murder. Euthyphro narrates: ‘The man who is dead was a poor dependent of mine (ho ge apothanomenos pelatȇs tis ȇn emos) who worked for us as field labourer on our farm in Naxos (kai hȏs egeȏrgoumen en tȇi Naxȏi, ethȇteuen ekei par’ hȇmin), and one day in a fit of drunken passion (paroinȇsas oun) he got into a quarrel with one of our domestic servants (kai orgistheis tȏn oiketȏn tini tȏn hȇmeterȏn) and slew him (aposphattei auton). My father (ho oun patȇr) bound him hand and foot (sundȇsas tous podas kai tas cheiras autou) and threw him into a ditch (katabalȏn eis taphron tina), and then sent to Athens (pempei deuro andra) to ask an expositor of religious law (peusomenon tou exȇgȇtou) what he should do with him (hoti chreiȇ poiein). Meanwhile (en de toutȏi tȏi chronȏi) he never attended to him and took no care about him (tou dedemenou ȏligȏrei te kai ȇmelei), for he regarded him as a murderer (hȏs androphonou); and thought that no great harm would be done (kai ouden on pragma) even if he did die (ei kai apothanoi). Now this is just what had happened (hoper oun kai epathen). For such was the effect of cold and hunger (hupo gar limou kai rigous) and chains upon him (kai tȏn desmȏn), that before the messenger returned from the expositor, he was dead (apothnȇiskei prin ton angelon para tou exȇgȇtou aphikesthai). And my father and family are angry with me (tauta dȇ oun kai aganaktei ho te patȇr kai hoi alloi oikeioi) for taking the part of the murderer (hoti egȏ huper tou androphonou) and prosecuting my father (tȏi patri phonou epexerchomai). They say that he did not kill him (oute apokteinanti, hȏs phasi ekeinoi), and that if he did (out’ ei hoti malista apekteinen), the dead man was just a murderer (androphonou ge ontos tou apothanontos), and I ought not to take any notice (ou dein phrontizein huper tou toioutou), for that a son is impious who prosecutes a father for murder (anosion gar einai to huon patri phonou epexienai). Which shows how little they know (kakȏs eidotes) what the gods think about piety and impiety (to theion hȏs echei tou hosiou te peri kai tou anosiou, 4c3-e3, tr. Jowett).’
Euthyphro is certain that he does the right thing, following the example of Zeus (ton Dia), the best and most righteous of the gods (tȏn theȏn ariston kai dikaiotaton), who bound his father (Cronos) because he wickedly devoured his sons (ton hautou patera dȇsai hoti tous hueis katepinen ouk en dikȇi, 5e6-6a2). Returning again and again to the circumstances of the case, Socrates insists that Euthyphro must know what true piety is: ‘If you had not certainly known (ei gar mȇ ȇidȇstha saphȏs) the nature of piety and impiety (to te hosion kai to anosion), I am confident that you would never (ouk estin hopȏs an pote), on behalf of a serf, have charged your aged father with murder (epecheirȇsas huper andros thȇtos andra presbutȇn patera diȏkathein phonou). You would not have run such a risk of doing wrong in the sight of the gods (alla kai tous theous an edeisas parakinduneuein mȇ ouk orthȏs auto poiȇsois), and you would have had too much respect for the opinion of men (kai tous anthrȏpous ȇischunthȇs). I am sure, therefore (nun de eu oida), that you believe you know the nature of piety and impiety (hoti saphȏs oiei eidenai to te hosion kai mȇ). Speak out then (eipe oun), my dear Euthyphro (ȏ beltiste Euthuphrȏn), and do not hide (kai mȇ apokrupsȇi) what you think it is (ho ti auto hȇgȇi).’ (15d4-e2, tr. Jowett with two corrections: Jowett wrongly translates Socrates’ oiei eidenai ‘you know’, and his ho ti auto hȇgȇi ‘your knowledge’). – At this point, after several failed attempts to define piety and impiety, without making another effort, instead of entering the King’s office to pursue the case, Euthyphro hastens away: ‘Another time (Eis authis toinun), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates), for now I am in a hurry to go somewhere (nun gar speudȏ poi), and it’s time for me to go away (kai moi hȏra apienai, 15e3-4. Jowett’s ‘I am in a hurry, and must go now’ is misleading. If I remember, Peter Geach in an article on the dialogue maintains that Euthyphro at that point went into the King’s office to indict his father).’
Socrates with his philosophic questioning succeeded in undermining Euthyphro’s self-assurance.
Euthyphro was eager to tell Socrates all the mysteries of religion, but Socrates had no time for it: ‘You shall tell me about these things some other time when we have leisure’ (tauta men moi eis authis epi scholȇs diȇgȇsȇi, Euthyphro 6c8-9). At the end of the dialogue Euthyphro makes a similar suggestion concerning Socrates’ enquiries about piety and impiety: ‘Another time (Eis authis toinun, 15e3)’. They appear to have met again, as they both suggested, for in Plato’s Cratylus, having embarked on interpreting the names given to gods, Socrates refers to Euthyphro as the source of ‘this wisdom’ (tȇs sophias tautȇsi): ‘And I attribute its coming over me mostly to Euthyphro of the Prospaltian deme (Kai aitiȏmai ge malista autȇn apo Euthuphronos tou Prospaltiou prospeptȏkenai moi), for from morn (heȏthen gar) I spent a long time with him (polla autȏi sunȇ) and gave him my ears (kai pareichon ta ȏta). Enthused, he appears (kinduneuei oun enthousiȏn) not only to have filled my ears (ou monon ta ȏta mou emplȇsai) with his remarkable wisdom (tȇs daimonias sophias), but even laid hold of my soul (alla kai tȇs psuchȇs epeilȇphthai). I think that we must do the following (dokei oun moi chrȇnai houtȏsi hȇmas poiȇsai) – to use it today (to men tȇmeron chrȇsasthai autȇi) and investigate all that remains concerning the names (kai ta loipa peri tȏn onomatȏn episkepsasthai), but tomorrow (aurion de), if you agree (an kai humin sundokȇi), we will conjure it away (apodiopompȇsometha te autȇn) and purify ourselves (kai katharoumetha), finding somebody who is great at purifying such things (exeurontes hostis ta toiauta deinos kathairein), either one of the priests (eite tȏn hiereȏn tis) or of sophists (eite tȏn sophistȏn).’ (396d4-397a1)
Socrates speaks in irony, and we can measure the depth of his irony if we compare what Euthyphro was saying about Zeus, his father Cronus, and Cronus’ father Uranus in the Euthyphro – ‘for people themselves (autoi gar hoi anthrȏpoi), who consider Zeus to be the best and most righteous of the gods (nomizontes ton Dia tȏn theȏn ariston kai diakiotaton), agree with me that he bound his father (Cronus) (kai touton homologousi ton hautou patera dȇsai) for he wickedly devoured his sons (hoti tous hueis katepinen ouk en dikȇi), and that he (Cronus) (k’akeinon ge), again (au), castrated his father (Uranus) (ton patera hautou ektemein) for similar misdeeds (di’ hetera toiauta, Euthyphro 5e5-6a3)’ – with what Socrates said concerning the names of these three gods in the passage that triggered his reference to Euthyphro: the name Zeus – (accusative Zȇna), combined with the form Dia – points to the god ‘through whom (di’ hon) all living creatures always have life (zȇn aei pasi tois zȏsi huparchei’, and as such to be the child of mighty intellect (megalȇs tinos dianoias ekgonon einai), taking Cronus to signify ‘the purity (to katharon) and undefiled nature (kai akȇraton) of his intellect (autou tou nou)’, him being the son of Uranus, whose name signifies ‘the heavenly sight’ (opsis ourania), derived from ‘seeing the things above’ i.e. ‘in heaven’ (opsis horȏsa ta anȏ, Cratylus 396a1-c1).
Although ironical, Socrates comes back to his early morning meeting with Euthyphro again and again. For what he achieved in his discussion with Euthyphro was something really great. As Euthyphro himself informs us in the Euthyphro, his father and all his relatives were unhappy about his prosecuting his father for murder, but their attempts to dissuade him from it were all in vain; he considered himself an expert in religious matters (4d). Only Socrates succeeded in piercing his conceit. In the Life of Socrates Diogenes Laertius writes: ‘When Euthyphro had indicted his father for manslaughter (Euthuphrona de tȏi patri grapsamenon xenoktonias dikȇn), Socrates, after some conversation with him on piety (peri hosiou tina dialechtheis), diverted him from his purpose (apȇgage).’ (II. 29, tr. R. D. Hicks)
In Cratylus 398e Socrates tells Hermogenes that ‘it is difficult to understand (chalepon estin ennoȇsai), why men are called anthrȏpoi (dia ti pote anthrȏpoi kalountai),’ and asks him: ‘can you tell me the reason (su echeis eipein)?’ – Hermogenes: ‘How can I, my friend (Pothen, ȏ’gathe, echȏ;)? Even if I could find something (oud’ ei ti hoios t’ an eiȇn heurein), I do not try (ou sunteinȏ), because I think (dia to hȇgeisthai) you are more likely to find it (se mallon heurȇsein) than myself (ȇ emauton).’ – Soc. ‘You trust the inspiration of Euthyphro (Tȇi tou Euthuphronos epipnoiai pisteueis), as it seems (hȏs eoikas). You are right in trusting it (Orthȏs ge su pepisteukas), as just now I appear (hȏs kai nun ge moi phainomai) to have got an ingenious thought (kompsȏs ennenoȇkenai), and I am in danger (kai kinduneuȏ), if I am not careful (ean mȇ eulabȏmai), this very day (eti tȇmeron) to become wiser than I ought to be (sophȏteros tou deontos genesthai). Now attend to what I say (skopei dȇ ho legȏ); for firstly (prȏton men gar), one must consider this (to toionde dei ennoȇsai) concerning names (peri onomatȏn), that we often put in letters (hoti pollakis epemballomen grammata), and take out other letters (ta d’ exairoumen) … one of these things happened concerning he name of man (toutȏn toinun hen kai to tȏn anthrȏpȏn onoma peponthen), as it seems to me (hȏs emoi eoiken), for it became a name out of a phrase (ek gar rȇmatos onoma gegonen) … other animals (ta men alla thȇria) never examine, or consider, or look up at what they see (hȏn horai ouden episkopei oude analogizetai oude anathrei), but man not only sees but considers and looks up at that which he sees (ho de anthrȏpos hama heȏraken – touto d’ esti opȏpe – kai anathrei kai logizetai touto ho opȏpe), and hence (enteuthen dȇ) man alone of all animals is rightly called anthrȏpos (monon tȏn thȇriȏn ho anthrȏpos “anthrȏpos” ȏnomasthȇ), looking up, examining, what he sees (anathrȏn ha opȏpe). (398e4-399c6)
Socrates refers to Euthyphro again at 400a1, at 407d8, and 409d1. The last reference to him, at 428c7, is made by Cratylus: ‘I already find myself moved to say to you (moi pȏs eperchetai legein pros se) what Achilles in the ‘Prayers’ says to Ajax (to tou Achilleȏs, ho ekeinos en Litais pros ton Aianta legei), - “Illustrious Ajax, son of Telamon (Aian Diogenes Telamȏnie), lord of the people (koirane laȏn), You appear to have spoken in all things much to my mind (panta ti moi kata thumon eeisȏ muthȇsasthai).” – And you, Socrates, appear to me (kai emoi su, ȏ Sȏkrates, epieikȏs phainȇi) to be an oracle, and to give answers much to my mind (kata noun chrȇsmȏidein), whether you are inspired by Euthyphro (eite par’ Euthuphronos epipnous genomenos), or whether some other Muse (eite kai allȇ tis Mousa) may have long been an inhabitant of you breast, unconsciously to yourself (se enousa elelȇthei).’ – Socrates: ‘Excellent Cratylus (Ȏ’gathe Kratyle), I have long been wondering at my own wisdom (thaumazȏ kai autos palai tȇn emautou sophian), finding it beyond belief (kai apistȏ ‘and I do not trust it’). And I think that I ought to stop and ask myself (dokei oun moi chrȇnai epanaskepsasthai), What am I saying (ti kai legȏ)? For there is nothing worse than self-deception (to gar exapatasthai auton huph’ hautou pantȏn chalepȏtaton) – when the deceiver is always at home and always with you (hotan gar mȇde smikron apostatȇi all’ aei parȇi ho exapatȇsȏn) – it is quite terrible (pȏs ou deinon;), and therefore I ought (dei dȇ, hȏs eoike) often to retrace my steps (thama metastrephesthai epi ta proeirȇmena) and endeavour (kai peirasthai) to ‘look fore and aft’, in the words of the aforesaid Homer (to ekeinou tou poiȇtou, blepein “hama prossȏ kai opissȏ”).’ (428c2-d8; the exchange between Cratylus and Socrates is in Jowett’s translation)
Xenophon in his Memorabilia recorded that Hermogenes – Socrates’ interlocutor in Plato’s Cratylus – said: ‘that when Melȇtus had already formally indicted Socrates (ȇdȇ Melȇtou gegrammenou auton tȇn graphȇn), he heard Socrates talking about everything possible rather than the case (autos akouȏn autou panta mallon ȇ peri tȇs dikȇs dialegomenou), and that he told him (legein autȏi) that he ought to be thinking (hȏs chrȇ skopein) what to say in his defence (ho ti apologȇsetai).
Socrates’ first remark was (ton de men prȏton eipein), “Don’t you think that I have been preparing for it all my life?” (Ou gar dokȏ soi touto meletȏn diabebiȏkenai;) And when he asked him how (epei de auton ȇreto, hopȏs), Socrates said (eipein auton) that he had been constantly occupied in the consideration of right and wrong (hoti ouden allo poiȏn diagegenȇtai ȇ diaskopȏn men ta te dikaia kai ta adika), and in doing what was right (prattȏn de ta dikaia) and avoiding what was wrong (kai tȏn adikȏn apechomenos), which he regarded (hȇnper nomizoi) as the best preparation for a defence (kallistȇn meletȇn apologias einai). And Hermogenes said again (autos de palin eipein): “Don’t you see (Ouch horais), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates), that the Athenian judges (hoti hoi Athȇnaioi dikastai) have put to death many innocent people, misled by argument (pollous men ȇdȇ mȇden adikountas logȏi parachthentes apekteinan), and acquitted many who were guilty (pollous de adikountas apelusan)?” “Ah yes, Hermogenes,” he answered (Alla nȇ ton Dia, phanai auton, ȏ Hermogenes), “when I tried to think out my defence to the judges (ȇdȇ mou epicheirountos phrontisai tȇs pros tous dikastas apologias), the daimonion resisted me (ȇnantiȏthȇ to daimonion). [cf. Plato’s Apology: ‘This sign, which is a kind of voice, first began to come to me when I was a child (emoi de tout’ estin ek paidos arxamenon, phȏnȇ tis gignomenȇ); from time to time it forbids me to do something which I am going to do (hȇ hotan genȇtai, aei apotrepei me touto ho an mellȏ prattein), but never commands anything (protrepei de oupote, 31d2-4, tr. Jowett)’]
And Hermogenes said (kai autos eipein): “It is strange what you say (Thaumasta legeis)”. And Socrates (ton de): “Do you think it strange (Thaumazeis),” he said (phanai), “if it seems better to God (ei tȏi theȏi dokei beltion einai) that I should die now? (eme teleutan ton bion ȇdȇ;) Don’t you know (ouk oisth’) that until this time (hoti mechri men toude tou chronou) I would never accept that any man had lived a better or pleasanter life than I? (egȏ oudeni anthrȏpȏn hupheimȇn an oute beltion outh’ hȇdion emou bebiȏkenai;) For I think that those live best (arista men gar oimai zȇn), who strive best to become as good as possible (tous arista epimelomenous tou hȏs beltistous gignesthai), and the pleasantest life is theirs (hȇdista de tous) who feel most intensely (malista aisthanomenous) that they are becoming better men (hoti beltious gignontai). Which until this time I have felt occurring to me (ha mechri toude tou chronou ȇisthanomȇn emautȏi sumbainonta), and encountering others (kai tois allois anthrȏpois entunchanȏn) and comparing myself with them (kai pros tous allous paratheȏrȏn emauton), I have held without ceasing to this opinion of myself (houtȏ diateteleka peri emoutou gignȏskȏn). And not only I (kai ou monon egȏ), but my friends also (alla kai hoi emoi philoi) cease not to feel thus towards me (houtȏs echontes peri emou diatelousin), not because of their love for me (ou dia to philein eme), for in that case those who love others would feel the same towards their friends (kai gar hoi tous allous philountes houtȏs an eichon pros tous heautȏn philous), but because they themselves think (alla dioper kai autoi an oiontai) that by being with me they become the best men (emoi sunontes beltistoi gignesthai). But if I live longer (ei de biȏsomai pleiȏ chronon), presumably (isȏs) it will be necessary (anankaion estai) to experience what the old age brings (ta tou gȇrȏs epiteleisthai), to see and to hear feebly (kai horan te kai akouein hȇtton) and to become dull of wit, slower to learn, quicker to forget (kai dianoeisthai cheiron kai dusmathesteron apobainein kai epilȇsmonesteron), outstripped now by those who were behind me (kai hȏn proteron beltiȏ ȇn, toutȏn cheirȏ gignesthai). And if I were unable to perceive it (alla mȇn tauta ge mȇ aisthanomenȏ men), life would unlivable (abiȏtos an eiȇ ho bios); and if I perceived it (aisthanomenon de), I would live necessarily badly and unpleasantly (pȏs ouk anankȇ cheiron te kai aȇdesteron zȇn;).
But now (Alla mȇn), if I am to die unjustly (ei ge adikȏs apothanoumai), they who unjustly kill me (tois adikȏs me apokteinasi) will bear the shame of it (aischron an eiȇ touto). For if to do injustice is shameful (ei gar to adikein aischron esti), whatever is unjustly done must surely bring shame (pȏs ouk aischron kai to adikȏs hotioun poiein;). But to me what shame is it (emoi de ti aischron) that others (to heterous) fail to decide and act justly concerning me? (mȇ dunasthai peri emou ta dikaia mȇte gnȏnai mȇte poiȇsai;) And I see (horȏ d’ egȏge) that posterity judges differently of the dead according as they did or suffered injustice (kai tȇn doxan tȏn progegonotȏn anthrȏpȏn en tois epigignomenois ouch homoian kataleipomenȇn tȏn te adikȇsantȏn kai tȏn adikȇthentȏn). And I know (oida de) that men will remember me too (hoti kai egȏ epimeleias teuxomai hup’ anthrȏpȏn), and, if I die now (kai ean nun apothanȏ), not as they will remember those who took my life (ouch homoiȏs tois eme apokteinasin). For I know that they will ever testify of me (oida gar aei marturȇsesthai moi) that I wronged no man at any time (hoti egȏ ȇdikȇsa oudena pȏpote anthrȏpȏn), nor corrupted any man (oude cheirȏ epoiȇsa), but strove ever to make my companions better (beltious de poiein epeirȏmȇn aei tous emoi sunontas).”
This was the tenor of his conversation with Hermogenes (Toiauta men pros Hermogenȇ te dielechthȇ) and with the others (kai pros tous allous).’ (IV. viii. 4-10; wherever I could, I have employed E. C. Marchant’s translation.)