|Peithô's Web||Lives index|
The Web edition of the Life of Plato, translated by Yonge, is dedicated to Christopher Planeaux, who took the time to share some thoughts about Gorgias.
To link to a specific chapter, use the url for this page plus "#" plus the Arabic numeral corresponding to the appropriate red Roman numeral.
I. PLATO was the son of Ariston and Perictione or Petone, and a citizen of Athens; and his mother traced her family back to Solon; for Solon had a brother named Diopidas, who had a son named Critias, who was the father of Calloeschrus, who was the father of that Critias who was one of the thirty tyrants, and also of Glaucon, who was the father of Charmides and Perictione. And she became the mother of Plato by her husband Ariston, Plato being the sixth in descent from Solon. And Solon traced his pedigree up to Neleus and Neptune. They say too that on the father's side, he was descended from Codrus, the son of Melanthus, and they too are said by Thrasylus to derive their origin from Neptune. And Speusippus, in his book which is entitled the Funeral Banquet of Plato, and Clearchus in his Panegyric on Plato, and Anaxilides in the second book of his History of Philosophers, say that the report at Athens was that Perictione was very beautiful, and that Ariston endeavoured to violate her and did not succeed; and that he, after he had desisted from his violence saw a vision of Apollo in a dream, in consequence of which he abstained from approaching his wife till after her confinement.
II. And Plato was born, as Apollodorus says in his Chronicles, in the eighty-eighth Olympiad, on the seventh day of the month Thargelion, on which day the people of Delos say that Apollo also was born. And he died as Hermippus says, at a marriage feast, in the first year of the hundred and eighth Olympiad, having lived eighty-one years. But Neanthes says that he was eighty-four years of age at his death. He is then younger than Isocrates by six years; for Isocrates was born in the archonship of Lysimachus, and Plato in that of Aminias, in which year Pericles died.
III. And he was of the borough of Colytus, as Antileon tells us in his second book on Dates. And he was born, according to some writers, in Aegina in the house of Phidiades the son of Thales, as Favorinus affirms in his Universal History, as his father had been sent thither with several others as a settler, and returned again to Athens when the settlers were driven out by the Lacedaemonians, who came to the assistance of the Aeginetans. And he served the office of choregus at Athens, when Dion was at the expense of the spectacle exhibited, as Theodorus relates in the eighth book of his Philosophical Conservations.
IV. And he had brothers, whose names were Adimantus and Glaucon, and a sister called Petone, who was the mother of Speusippus.
V. And he was taught learning in the school of Dionysius, whom he mentious in his Rival Lovers. And he learnt gymnastic exercises under the wrestler Ariston of Argos. And it was by him that he had the name of Plato given to him instead of his original name, on account of his robust figure, as he had previously been called Aristocles, after the name of his grandfather, as Alexander informs us in his Successions. But some say that he derived this name from the breadth (platutês) of his eloquence, or else because he was very wide (platus) across the forehead, as Neanthes affirms There are some also, among whom is Dicaearchus in the first volume on Lives, who say that he wrestled at the Isthmian games.
VI. It is also said that he applied himself to the study of painting, and that he wrote poems, dithyrambics at first, and afterwards lyric poems and tragedies.
VII. But he had a very weak voice, they say; and the same fact is stated by Timotheus the Athenian, in his book on Lives. And it is said that Socrates in a dream saw a cygnet on his knees, who immediately put forth feathers, and flew up on high, uttering a sweet note, and that the next day Plato came to him, and that he pronounced him the bird which he had seen.
VIII. And he used to philosophize at first in the Academy, and afterwards in the garden near Colonus, as Alexander tells us in his Successions, quoting the testimony of Heraclitus; and subsequently, though he was about to contend for the prize in tragedy in the theatre of Bacchus, after he had heard the discourse of Socrates, he learnt his poems, saying :
Vulcan, come here; for Plato wants your aid. And from henceforth, as they say, being now twenty years old, he became a pupil of Socrates. And when he was gone, he attached himself to Cratylus, the disciple of Heraclitus, and to Hermogenes, who had adopted the principles of Parmenides. Afterwards, when he was eight and twenty years of age, as Hermodorus tells us, he withdrew to Megara to Euclid, with certain others of the pupils of Socrates; and subsequently, he went to Cyrene to Theodorus the mathematician; and from thence he proceeded to Italy to the Pythagoreans, Philolaus and Eurytus, and from thence he went to Eurytus to the priests there; and having fallen sick at that place, he was cured by the priests by the application of sea water, in reference to which he said:
The sea doth wash away all human evils.
And he said too, that, according to Homer, all the Egyptians were physicians. Plato had also formed the idea of making the acquaintance of the Magi; but he abandoned it on account of the wars in Asia.
IX. And when he returned to Athens, he settled in the Academy, and that is a suburban place of exercise planted like a grove, so named from an ancient hero named Hecademus, as Eupolis tells us in his Discharged Soldiers.
In the well-shaded walks, protected well
And Timon, with reference to Plato, says :
A man did lead them on, a strong stout man,
For the word academy was formerly spelt with E. Now our philosopher was a friend of Isocrates; and Praxiphanes composed an account of a conversation which took place between them, on the subject of poets, when Isocrates was staying with Plato in the country.
X. And Aristoxenus says that he was three times engaged in military expeditions; once against Tanagra; the second time against Corinth, and the third time at Delium; and that in the battle of Delium he obtained the prize of pre-eminent valour. He combined the principles of the schools of Heraclitus, and Pythagoras and Socrates; for he used to philosophize on those things which are the subjects of sensation, according to the system of Heraclitus; on those with which intellect is conversant, according to that of Pythagoras; and on politics, according to that of Socrates.
XI. And some people, (of whom Satyrus is one,) say that he sent a commission to Sicily to Dion, to buy him three books of Pythagoras from Philolaus for a hundred minae; for they say that he was in very easy circumstances, having received from Dionysius more than eighty talents, as Onetor also asserts in his treatise which is entitled, Whether a wise Man ought to acquire Gains.
XII. And he was much assisted by Epicharmus the comic poet, a great part of whose works he transcribed, as Alcinus says in his essays addressed to Amyntas, of which there are four. And in the first of them he speaks as follows:-"And Plato appears to utter a great many of the sentiments of Epicharmus. Let us just examine. Plato says that that is an object of sensation, which is never stationary either as to its quality or its quantity, but which is always flowing and changing; as, for instance, if one take from any objects all number, then one cannot affirm that they are either equal, or of any particular things, or of what quality or quantity they are. And these things are of such a kind that they are always being produced, but that they never have any invariable substances."
But that is a subject for intellect from which nothing is taken, and to which nothing is added. And this is the nature of things eternal, which is always similar and the same. And, indeed, Epicharmus speaks intelligibly on the subject of what is perceived by the senses and by the intellect:
A. But the great Gods were always present, nor
And Alcinus speaks as follows: - "The wise men say that the soul perceives some things by means of the body, as for instance, when it hears and sees; but that it also perceives something by its own power, without availing itself at all of the assistance of the body. On which account existent things are divisible into objects of sensation and objects of understanding. On account of which Plato used to say, that those who wished to become acquainted with the principles of everything, ought first of all to divide the ideas as he calls them, separately, such as similarity, and unity, and multitude, and magnitude, and stationariness, and motion. And secondly, that they ought to form a notion of the honourable and the good, and the just, and things of that sort, by themselves, apart from other considerations. And thirdly, that they ought to ascertain the character of such ideas as are relative to one another, such as knowledge, or magnitude, or authority; considering that the things which come under our notice from partaking of their nature, have the same names that they have. I mean that one calls that just which partakes of the just; and that beautiful which partakes of the beautiful. And each of these primary species is eternal, and is to be understood by the intellect, and is not subject to the influence of external circumstances. On which account he says, that ideas exist in nature as models; and that all other things are like them, and, as it were, copies of them. Accordingly Epicharmus speaks thus about the good, and about the ideas.
A. Tell me, is flute-playing now a thing at all?
Plato, in his theory of Ideas, says, "That since there is such a thing as memory, the ideas are in existent things, because memory is only conversant about what is stable and enduring; and that no other thing is durable except ideas, for in what way," he continues, "could animals be preserved, if they had no ideas to guide them, and if, in addition to them, they had not an intellect given to them by nature?" But as it is they recollect similitudes, and also their food, so as to know what kind of food is fit for them; which they learn because the notion of similarity is implanted naturally in every animal; owing to which notion they recognize those of the same species as themselves. What is it then that Epicharmus says?
Eumaeus' wisdom? - not a scanty gift
And in a subsequent passage he says :
There is no wonder in my teaching this,
And these and similar speculations are examined and compared by Alcinus through four books, where he shows how much assistance Plato has derived from Epicharmus. And that Epicharmus himself was not indisposed to appreciate his own wisdom, one may learn from these lines, in which he predicts that there will arise some one to imitate him:
But as I think, I surely foresee this,
XIII. Plato also appears to have brought the books of Sophron, the farce-writer, to Athens, which were previously neglected; and to have availed himself of them in his Speculations on Morals: and a copy of them was found under his head.
XIV. And Plato made three voyages to Sicily, first of all for the purpose of seeing the island and the craters of volcanoes, when Dionysius, the son of Hermocrates, being the tyrant of Sicily, pressed him earnestly to come and see him; and he, conversing about tyranny, and saying that that is not the best government which is advantageous for one individual alone, unless that individual is pre-eminent in virtue, had a quarrel with Dionysius, who got angry, and said, "Your words are those of an old dotard." And Plato replied,
* The Greek is tou mimographon. "A mime was a kind of prose drama, intended as a familiar representation of life and character, without any distinct plot. It was divided into mimioi andreioi and gynaikeioi, also into mimoi spoudaiôn and geloiôn." -- L&S in voc. mimos.
"And your language is that of a tyrant." And on this the tyrant became very indignant, and at first was inclined to put him to death; but afterwards, being appeased by Deni and Aristimenes, he forebore to do that, but gave him to Pollis, the Lacedaemonian, who happened to have come to him on an embassy just at that time, to sell as a slave. And he took him to Aegina and sold him; and Charmander, the son of Charmandrides, instituted a capital prosecution against him, in accordance with the law which was in force, in the island of Aegina, that the first Athenian who landed on the island should be put to death without a trial; and he himself was the person who had originally proposed that law, as Favorinus says, in his Universal History. But when some one said, though he said it only in joke, that it was a philosopher who had landed, the people released him. But some say that he was brought into the assembly and watched; and that he did not say a word, but stood prepared to submit to whatever might befall him; and that they determined not to put him to death, but to sell him after the fashion of prisoners of war. And it happened by chance that Anniceris, the Cyrenean, was present, who ransomed him for twenty minae, or, as others say, for thirty, and sent him to Athens, to his companions, and they immediately sent Anniceris his money: but he refused to receive it, saying that they were not the only people in the world who were entitled to have a regard for Plato. Some writers again say, that it was Deni who sent the money, and that he did not refuse it, but bought him the garden in the Academy. And with respect to Pollis it is said that he was defeated by Chabrias, and that he was afterwards drowned in Helia, in consequence of the anger of the deity at his treatment of this philosopher. And this is the story told by Favorinus in the first book of his Commentaries. Dionysius, however, did not remain quiet; but when he had heard what had happened he wrote to Plato not to speak ill of him, and he wrote back in reply that he had not leisure enough to think at all of Dionysius.
XV. But he went a second time to Sicily to the younger Dionysius, and asked him for some land and for some men whom he might make live according to his own theory of a constitution. And Dionysius promised to give him some, but never did it. And some say that he was in danger himself, having been suspected of exciting Dion and Thetas to attempt the deliverance of the island; but that Archytas, the Pythagorean, wrote a letter to Dionysius, and begged Plato off and sent him back safe to Athens. And the letter is as follows :
ARCHYTAS TO DIONYSIUS, GREETING.
"All of us who are the friends of Plato, have sent to you Lamiscus and Photidas, to claim of you this philosopher in accordance with the agreement which you made with us. And it is right that you should recollect the eagerness which you had to see him, when you pressed us all to secure Plato's visit to you, promising to provide for him, and to treat him hospitably in every respect, and to ensure his safety both while he remained with you, and when be departed. Remember this too that you were very delighted indeed at his arrival, and that you expressed great pleasure at the time, such as you never did on any other occasion. And if any unpleasantness has arisen between you, you ought to behave with humanity, and restore the man unhurt; for by so doing you will act justly, and do us a favour."
XVI. The third time that he went to Sicily was for the purpose of reconciling Dion to Dionysius. And as he could not succeed he returned back to his own country, having lost his labour.
XVII. And in his own country he did not meddle with state affairs, although he was a politician as far as his writings went. And the reason was, that the people were accustomed to a form of government and constitution different from what he approved of. And Pamphile, in the twenty-fifth book of his Commentaries, says that the Arcadians and Thebans, when they were founding a great city, appointed him its lawgiver; but that he, when he had ascertained that they would not consent to an equality of rights, refused to go thither.
XVIII. It is said also, that he defended Chabrias the general, when he was impeached in a capital charge; when no one else of the citizens would undertake the task: and as he was going up towards the Acropolis with his client, Crobylus the sycophant met him and said, "Are you come to plead for another, not knowing that the hemlock of Socrates is waiting
also for you?" But he replied, "And also, when I fought for my country I encountered dangers; and now too I encounter them in the cause of justice and for the defence of a friend."
XIX. He was the first author who wrote treatises in the form of dialogues, as Favorinus tells us in the eighth book of his Universal History. And he was also the first person who introduced the analytical method of investigation, which he taught to Leodamus of Thasos. He was also the first person in philosophy who spoke of antipodes, and elements, and dialectics, and actions (poiêmata) and oblong numbers, and plane surfaces, and the providence of God. He was likewise the first of the philosophers who contradicted the assertion of Lysias, the son of Cephalus, setting it out word for word in his Phaedrus. And he was also the first person who examined the subject of grammatical knowledge scientifically. And as he argued against almost every one who had lived before his time, it is often asked why he has never mentioned Democritus.
XX. Neanthes of Cyzicus says, that when he came to the Olympic games all the Greeks who were present turned to look at him: and that it was on that occasion that he held a conversation with Dion, who was on the point of attacking Dionysius. Moreover, in the first book of the Commentaries of Favorinus, it is related that Mithridates, the Persian, erected a statue of Plato in the Academy, and put on it this inscription, "Mithridates, the son of Rhodobates, a Persian, consecrated an image of Plato to the Muses, which was made by Silanion."
XXI. And Heraclides says, that even while a young man, he was so modest and well regulated, that he was never once seen to laugh excessively.
XXII. But though he was of such a grave character himself, he was nevertheless ridiculed by the comic poets. Accordingly, Theopompus, in his Pleasure-seeker, says:
For one thing is no longer only one,
And Anaxandrides in his Theseus, says:
When he ate olives like our worthy Plato.
And Timon speaks of him in this way, punning on his name:
As Plato placed strange platitudes on paper.*
Alexis says in his Mesopis :
You've come in time: since I've been doubting long,
And in his Analion, he says:
You speak of what you do not understand,
Amphis says in his Amphicrates :
A. But what the good is, which you hope to get
And in his Dexidemides he speaks thus:
O Plato! how your learning is confined
Cratinas in his Pseudripobolimaeus, says:
You clearly are a man, endued with sense,
Alexis, in his Olympiodorus speaks thus :
My mortal body became dry and withered:
And in his Parasite he says :
Or to converse alone, like Plato.
Anaxilas also laughs at him in his Botrylion, and Circe, and his Rich Women.
XXIII. And Aristippus, in the fourth book of his treatise upon Ancient Luxury, says that he was much attached to a youth of the name of Aster, who used to study astronomy with him; and also to Dion, whom we have already mentioned.
* The Greek is, hôs aneplatte Platôn peplasmena thaumata eidôs.
And some say that he was also attached to Phaedrus, and that the following epigrams which he wrote upon them are evidences of the love he felt for them:
My Aster, you're gazing on the stars (asteres),
Another of his epigrams is :
Aster, you while among the living shone,
And he wrote thus on Dion:
Once, at their birth, the fates did destine tears
And they say that this epigram is inscribed upon his tomb at Syracuse. They say, also, that he was in love with Alexis, and with Phaedrus, as I have already mentioned, and that he wrote an epigram on them both, which runs thus:
Now when Alexia is no longer aught,
There is also a tradition that he had a mistress named Archianassa, on whom he wrote the following lines :
I have a mistress fair from Colophon,
He also wrote this epigram on Agathon :
While kissing Agathon, my soul did rise,
Another of his epigrams is:
I throw this apple to you. And if you
I am an apple, and am thrown to you;
They also attribute to him the following epigram on the Eretrians who had been surprised in an ambuscade:
We were Eretrians, of Eubaean race,
And this one also :
Thus Venus to the muses spoke:
A certain person found some gold.
XXIV. But Melon, who had a great dislike to Plato, says, "There is not so much to wonder at in Dionysius being at Corinth, as in Plato's being in Sicily." Xenophon, too, does not appear to have been very friendlily disposed towards him: and accordingly they have, as if in rivalry of one another, both written books with the same title, the Banquet, the Defence of Socrates, Moral Reminiscences. Then, too, the one wrote the Cyropaedia and the other a book on Politics ; and Plato in his Laws says, that the Cyropaedia is a mere romance, for that Cyrus was not such a person as he is described in that book. And though they both speak so much of Socrates, neither of them ever mentions the other, except that Xenophon once speaks of Plato in the third book of his Reminiscences. It is said also, that Antisthenes, being about to recite something that he had written, invited him to be present; and that Plato having asked what he was going to recite, he said it was an essay on the impropriety of contradicting. "How then," said Plato, "can you write on this subject?" and then he showed him that he was arguing in a circle. But Antisthenes was annoyed, and composed a dialogue against Plato, which he entitled Sothon; after which they were always enemies to one another; and they say that Socrates having heard Plato read the Lysis, said, "O Hercules! what a number of lies the young man has told about me." For he had set down a great many things as sayings of Socrates which he never said.
Plato also was a great enemy of Aristippus; accordingly, he speaks ill of him in his book on the Soul, and says that he was not with Socrates when he died, though he was in Aegina, at no great distance. He also had a great rivalry with Aeschines, for that he had been held in great esteem by Dionysius, and afterwards came to want, and was despised by Plato, but supported by Aristippus. And Idomeneus says, that the speech which Plato attributes to Crito in the prison, when he counselled Socrates to make his escape, was really delivered by Aeschines, but that Plato attributed it to Crito because of his dislike to the other. And Plato never makes the slightest mention of him in any of his books, except in the treatise on the Soul, and the Defence of Socrates.
XXV. Aristotle says, that the treatises of Plato are something between poems and prose ; and Favorinus says, when Plato read his treatise on the Soul, Aristotle was the only person who sat it out, and that all the rest rose up and went away. And some say that Philip the Opuntian copied out the whole of his books upon Laws, which were written on waxen tablets only. Some people also attribute the Epinomis to him. Euphorion and Panaetius have stated that the beginning of the treatise on the Republic was often altered and re-written; and that very treatise, Aristoxenus affirms, was found almost entire in the Contradictions of Protagoras; and that the first book he wrote at all was the Phaedrus; and indeed that composition has a good many indications of a young composer. But Dicaearchus blames the whole style of that work as vulgar.
XXVI. A story is told, that Plato, having seen a man playing at dice, reproached him for it, and that he said he was playing for a trifle; "But the habit," rejoined Plato, "is not a trifle." On one occasion he was asked whether there would be any monument of him, as of his predecessors in philosophy? and he answered "A man must first make a name, and the monument will follow." Once, when Xenocrates came into his house, he desired him to scourge one of his slaves for him, for that he himself could not do it because he was in a passion; and that at another time he said to one of his slaves, "I should beat you if I were not in a passion." Having got on horseback he dismounted again immediately, saying that he was afraid that he should be infected with horse-pride. He used to advise people who got drunk to look in the glass, and then they would abandon their unseemly habit; and he said that it was never decorous to drink to the degree of drunkenness, except at the festivals of the God who had given men wine. He also disapproved of much sleeping: accordingly in his Laws he says, "No one while sleeping is good for anything." Another saying of his was, "That the pleasantest of all things to hear was the truth;" but others report this saying thus, "That the sweetest of all things was to speak truth." And of truth he speaks thus in his Laws, "Truth, my friend, is a beautiful and a durable thing; but it is not easy to persuade men of this fact."
XXVII. He used also to wish to leave a memorial of himself behind, either in the hearts of his friends, or in his books.
XXVIII. He also used to travel a good deal as some authors inform us.
XXIX. And he died in the manner we have already mentioned, in the thirteenth year of the reign of Philip of Macedon, as Favorinus mentions in the third book of his Commentaries; and Theopompus relates that Philip on one occasion reproached him. But Mysonianus, in his Resemblances, says that Philo mentions some proverbs that were in circulation about Plato's lice; implying that he had died of that disease.
XXX. He was buried in the Academy, where he spent the greater part of his time in the practice of philosophy, from which his was called the Academic school; and his funeral was attended by all the pupils of that sect. And he made his will in the following terms:
"Plato left these things, and has bequeathed them as follows:
The farm in the district of the Hephaestiades, bounded on the north by the road from the temple of the Cephiciades, and on the south by the temple of Hercules, which is in the district of the Hephaestiades; and on the east by the estate of Archestratus the Phreanian, and on the west by the farm of Philip the Challidian, shall be incapable of being sold or alienated, but shall belong to my son Ademantus as far as possible. And so likewise shall my farm in the district of the Eiresides, which I bought of Callimachus, which is bounded on the north by the property of Eurymedon the Myrrhinusian, on the south by that of Demostratus of Xypeta, on the east by that of Eurymedon the Myrrhinusian, and on the west by the Cephisus;-- I also leave him three minae of silver, a silver goblet weighing a hundred and sixty-five drachms, a cup weighing forty-five drachms, a golden ring and a golden ear-ring, weighing together four drachms and three obols. Euclides the stonecutter owes me three minae. I leave Diana her liberty. My slaves Sychon, Bictas, Apolloniades, and Dionysius, I bequeath to my son; and I also give him all my furniture, of which Demetrius has a catalogue. I owe no one anything. My executors shall be Tozthenes, Speusippus, Demetrius, Hegias, Eurymedon, Callimachus, and Thrasippus."
This was his will. And on his tomb the following epigrams were inscribed. First of all :
Here, first of all men for pure justice famed,
A second is:
Here in her bosom does the tender earth
There is another which is more modern:
A. Eagle, why fly you o'er this holy tomb?
We ourselves also have written one epigram on him, which is as follows:
If fav'ring Phoebus had not Plato given
And others, alluding to his death :
Phoebus, to bless mankind, became the father
These then are the epigrams on him.
XXXI. His disciples were, Speusippus the Athenian, Zenocrates of Chalcedon, Aristotle the Stagirite, Philip of Opus, Histiaeus of Perinthus, Dion of Syracuse, Amyclus of Heraclea, Erastus and Coriscus of Sceptos, Timolaus of Cyzicus, Eudon of Lampsacus, Pithon and Heraclides of Aemus, Hippothales and Callippus, Athenians, Demetrius of Amphipolis, Heraclides of Pontus, and numbers of others, among whom there were also two women, Lasthenea of Mantinea, and Axiothea of Phlius, who used even to wear man's clothes, as we are told by Dicaearchus. Some say that Theophrastus also was a pupil of his; and Chamaelion says that Hyperides the orator, and Lycurgus, were so likewise. Polemo also asserts that Demosthenes was. Sabinus adds Mnesistratus of Thasos to the number, quoting authority for the statement in the fourth book of his Meditative Matter; and it is not improbable.
XXXII. But as you, O lady, are rightly very much attached to Plato, and as you are very fond of hunting out in every quarter all the doctrines of the philosopher with great eagerness, I have thought it necessary to subjoin an account of the general character of his lectures, and of the arrangement of his dialogues, and of the method of his inductive argument; going back to their elements and first principles as far as I could, so that the collection of anecdotes concerning his life which I have been able to make, may not be curtailed by the omission of any statement as to his doctrines. For it would be like sending owls to Athens, as the proverb is, if I were to descend to particular details.
They say now, that Zeno, the Eleatic, was the first person who composed essays in the form of dialogue. But Aristotle, in the first book of his treatise on Poets, says that Alexander, a native of Styra, or Teos, did so before him, as Phavorinus also says in his Commentaries. But it seems to me that Plato gave this kind of writing the last polish, and that he has therefore, a just right to the first honour, not only as the improver, but also as inventor of that kind of writing. Now, the dialogue is a discourse carried on by way of question and answer, on some one of the subjects with which philosophy is conversant, or with which statesmanship is concerned, with a becoming attention to the characters of the persons who are introduced as speakers, and with a careful selection of language governed by the same consideration. And dialectics is the art of conversing, by means of which we either overturn or establish the proposition contended for, by means of the questions and answers which are put in the mouths of the parties conversing. Now, of the Platonic discourse there are two characteristics discernible on the very surface; one fitted for guiding, the other for investigating.
The first of these has two subordinate species, one speculative, the other practical; and of these two again, the speculative is divided into the natural and the logical, and the practical into the ethical and the political. Again, the kind fitted for investigating has also two primary divisions with their separate characteristics, one object of which is simply practice, the other being also disputatious: and the first of these two is again subdivided into two; one of which may be compared to the art of the midwife, and the other is at it were tentative; the disputatious one is also divided into the demonstrative and the distinctive.
But we are not unaware that some writers distinguish the various dialogues in a different manner from what we do. For they say that some of them are dramatic, and others narrative, and others of a mixed nature. But they, in this division, are classifying the dialogues in a theatrical rather than in a philosophical manner. Some of the dialogues also refer to subjects of natural philosophy, such as the Timaeus. Of the logical class there are the Politics, the Cratylus, the Parmenides, and the Sophist. Of the ethical kind there is the defence of Socrates, the Crito, the Phedo the Phaedrus, the Banquet, the Menexenus the Clitiphon, the Epistles, the Philebus, the Hipparchus and the Rival Lovers. Of the political class there is the Republic the Laws, the Minos, the Epinomis, and the Atlanticus. Of the midwife description we have the two Alcibiades's, the Theages, the Lysis, the Laches. Of the tentative kind, there is the Euthyphro, the Meno, the Ion, the Charmides, and the Theaetetus. Of the demonstrative description, we have the Protagoras, and of the distinctive class the Euthydemus, the two Hippias's, and the Gorgias. And this is enough to say about the dialogues as to what they are, and what their different kinds are.
XXXIII. But since there is also a great division of opinion respecting them, from some people asserting that in them Plato dogmatizes in a positive manner, while others deny this, we had better also touch upon this part of the question. Now, dogmatizing is laying down dogmas, just as legislating is making laws. But the word dogma is used in two senses; to mean both that which we think, and opinion itself. Now of these, that which we think is the proposition, and opinion is the conception by which we entertain it in our minds. Plato then explains the opinions which he entertains himself, and refutes false ones; and about doubtful matters he suspends his judgment. His opinions of matters as they appear to him he puts into the mouth of four persons, Socrates, Timaeus, an Athenian poet, and an Eleatic stranger. But the strangers are not, as some people have supposed, Plato and Parmenides, but certain nameless imaginary characters. Since Plato asserts as undeniable axioms all the opinions which he puts into the mouth of Socrates or Timaeus. But when he is refuting false propositions, he introduces such characters as Thrasymachus, and Callicles and Polus, and Gorgias, and Protagoras, Hippiastro, and Euthydemus, and men of that stamp. But when he is demonstrating anything, then he chiefly uses the inductive form of argument, and that too not of one kind only, but of two. For induction is an argument, which by means of some admitted truths establishes naturally other truths which resemble them. But there are two kinds of induction; the one proceeding from contraries, the other from consequents. Now, the one which proceeds from contraries, is one in which from the answer given, whatever that answer may be, the contrary of the principle indicated in the question must follow. As for instance. My father is either a different person from your father, or he is the same person. If now your father is a different person from my father, then as he is a different person from a father, he cannot be a father. If, on the other hand, he is the same person as my father, then, since he is the same person as my father, he must be my father. And again, if man be not an animal, he must be either a stone or a piece of wood; but he is not a stone or a piece of wood, for he is a living animal, and capable of independent motion. Therefore, he is an animal. But, if he is an animal, and a dog or an ox is likewise an animal, then man must be an animal, and a dog, and an ox. -- This then is the method of induction in contradiction and contention, which Plato was accustomed to employ, not for the purpose of establishing principles of his own, but with the object of refuting the arguments of others.
Now, the inductive kind of argument drawn from consequents is of a twofold character. The one proving a particular opinion by an admitted fact of an equally particular nature; or else going from particulars to generals. And the first of these two divisions is the oratorical one, the second the dialectic one. As for instance, in the former kind the question is whether this person has committed a murder; the proof is that he was found at the time covered with blood. But this is the oratorical method of employing the induction; since oratory is conversant about particulars, and does not concern itself about generals. For its object is not to ascertain abstract justice, but only particular justice. The other is the dialectic kind, the general proposition having been established by particular ones. As for instance, the question is whether the soul is immortal, and whether the living consist of those who have once been dead; and this proposition Plato establishes in his book on the Soul, by a certain general proposition, that contraries arise out of contraries; and this identical general proposition is established by certain particular ones. As, for instance, that sleep follows on waking, and waking from sleeping, and the greater from the less, and reversely the less from the greater. And this kind of induction he used to employ for the establishment of his own opinions.
XXXIV. Anciently, in tragedy, it was only the chorus who did the whole work of the play; but subsequently, Thespis introduced one actor for the sake of giving the chorus some rest, and Aeschylus added a Second, and Sophocles a third, and so they made tragedy complete. So in the same manner, philosophical discourse was originally uniform, concerning itself solely about natural philosophy; then Socrates added to it a second character, the ethical: and Plato a third, the dialectic: and so he brought philosophy to perfection.
XXXV. But Thrasybulus says that he published his dialogues as the dramatic poets published their tetralogies. For, they contended with four plays, (and at four festivals, the Dionysiac, the Lenaean, the Panathenaean, and the Chytri), one of which was a satiric drama, and the whole four plays were called a tetralogy. Now, people say, the whole of his genuine dialogues amount to fifty-six; the treatise on the Republic being divided into ten books, (which Phavorinus, in the second book of his Universal History, says may be found almost entire in the Contradictions of Protagoras), and that on Laws into twelve. And there are nine tetralogies, if we consider the Republic as occupying the place of one book, and the Laws of another. He arranges, therefore, the first tetralogy of these dialogues which have a common subject, wishing to show what sort of life that of the philosopher may have been. And he uses two titles for each separate book, taking one from the name of the principal speaker, and the other from the subject.
This tetralogy then, which is the first, is commenced by the Euthyphron, or what is Holy; and that dialogue is a tentative one. The second is the Defence of Socrates, a moral one. The third is the Criton, or What is to be done, a moral one. The fourth is the Phaedo, or the Dialogue on the Soul, a moral one.
The second tetralogy is that of which the first piece is the Cratylus, or the correctness of names, a logical one. The Theaetetus, or Knowledge, a tentative one. The Sophist, or a dialogue on the Existent, a logical one. The Statesman, or a dialogue of Monarchy, a logical one.
The first dialogue in the third tetralogy is the Parmenides, or a dialogue of Ideas, a logical one. The second is the Philebus, or on Pleasure, a moral one. The Banquet, or on the Good, a moral one. The Phaedrus, or on Love, a moral one.
The fourth tetralogy opens with the Alcibiades, or a treatise on the Nature of Man, a midwife-like work. The second Alcibiades, or on Prayer, a piece of the same character. The Hipparchus, or on the Love of Gain, a moral one. The Rival Lovers, or a treatise on Philosophy, a moral one.
The first dialogue in the fifth is the Theages, or another treatise on Philosophy, another midwife-like work. The Charmides, or on Temperance, a tentative essay. The Laches, or on Manly Courage, midwife-like. The Lysis, or a dissertation on Friendship, also midwife-like.
The sixth tetralogy commences with the Euthydemus, or the Disputatious Man, a distinctive dialogue. Then comes the Protagoras, or the Sophists, a demonstrative one. The Gorgias, or a dissertation on Rhetoric, another distinctive one. And the Meno, or on Virtue, a tentative dialogue.
The seventh begins with the two Hippias's. The first being a dissertation on the Beautiful; the second one on Falsehood, both distinctive. The third is the Ion, or a dissertation on the Iliad, a tentative one. The fourth is the Menexenus, or the Funeral Oration, a moral one.
The first dialogue in the eighth is the Clitophon, or the Exhortation, a moral piece. Then comes the Republic, or the treatise on Justice, a political one. The Timaeus, or a dissertation on Nature, a dialogue on Natural Philosophy. And the Critias, or Atlanticus, a moral one
The ninth begins with the Minos, or a treatise on Law, a political work. The Laws, or a dissertation on Legislation, another political work. The Epinomis, or the Nocturnal Conversation, or the Philosopher, a third political one.
XXXVI. And this last tetralogy is completed by thirteen epistles, all moral; to which is prefixed as a motto, eu prattein, just as Epicurus inscribed on his eu diagein, and Cleon on his chairein. They are, one letter to Aristodemus, two to Archytas, four to Dionysius, one to Hermeias, Erastus, and Coriscus, one to Leodamas, one to Dion, one to Perdiccas, and two to the friends of Dion.
XXXVII. And this is the way in which some people divide his works. But others, among whom is Aristophanes, the grammarian, arrange his dialogues in trilogies; and they make the first to consist of the Republic, the Timaeus and the Critias.
The second of the Sophist, the Statesman, the Cratylus.
The third of the Laws, the Minos, the Epinomis.
The fourth of the Theaetetus, the Euthyphro, the Defence of Socrates.
The fifth of the Crito, the Phaedo, the Epistles.
And the rest they arrange singly and independently, without any regular order. And some authors, as has been said already, place the Republic at the head of his works: others begin with the Greater Alcibiades: others with the Theages; some with the Euthyphro, others with the Clitophon; some with the Timaeus, some with the Phaedrus, others again with the Theaetetus. Many make the Defence of Socrates the first piece.
There are some dialogues attributed to him which are confessedly spurious. The Midon, or the Horse-breeder; the Eryxias, or Erasistratus; the Alcyon; the Acephali, or Sisyphi; the Axiochus; the Phaeacians; the Demodorus; The Chilidon; the Seventh; the Epimenides. Of which the Alcyon is believed to be the work of a man named Leon; as Phavorinus tells us in the seventh book of his Commentaries.
XXXVIII. But he employs a great variety of terms in order to render his philosophical system unintelligible to the ignorant. In his phraseology he considers wisdom as the knowledge of things which can be understood by the intellect, and which have a real existence: which has the Gods for its object, and the soul as unconnected with the body. He also, with a peculiarity of expression, calls wisdom also philosophy, which he explains as a desire for divine wisdom. But wisdom and experience are also used by him in their common acceptation; as, for instance, when he calls an artisan wise (sophos). He also uses the same words in different senses at different times. Accordingly he uses phaulos in the sense of haplous, simple, in which meaning also the word occurs in Euripides, in the Licymonius, where the poet speaks of Hercules in the following terms:
Mean looking (phaulos), rude, virtuous in great affairs,
But Plato uses the word sometimes even for what is beautiful; and sometimes for small and insignificant; and very often he uses different words to express the same idea. Accordingly, besides the word idea for a class, he uses also eidos, and genos, and paradeigma, and archê, and aition. Sometimes he uses opposite expressions for the same thing; accordingly, he says that it is an object of sensation that exists, while at other times he says it is that which does not exist; speaking of it as existing because of its origin, and as non-existent with reference to its continual changes. Then again, he defines his idea as something which is neither moving nor stationary, at one time calling the same thing, at another time one thing, at a third time many things. And he is in the habit of doing this in many instances.
And the explanation of his arguments is three-fold. For first of all, it is necessary to explain what each thing that is said is; secondly, on what account it is said, whether because of its bearing on the principal point, or figuratively, and whether it is said for the purpose of establishing an opinion of his own, or of refuting the arguments brought forward by the other party to the conversation; and thirdly, whether it has been said truly.
XXXIX. But since there are some particular marks put in his books, we must also say something about them. X indicates peculiar expressions and figures of speech, and generally any peculiarities of Plato's style. When doubled it points to the doctrines and peculiar opinions of Plato; X when dotted all round, points to some select bits of beautiful writing. When doubled and dotted it indicates corrections of some passages. A dotted obelus indicates hasty disapprovals. An inverted sigma dotted all round points out passages which may be taken in a double sense, and transpositions of words.
The Ceraunium (1) indicates a connection of philosophical ideas. An asterisk points out an agreement in doctrine. And an obelus marks the rejection of the expression or of the passage. These then are the marginal marks which occur, and the writings of which Plato was the author: which, as Antigonus the Carystian says, in his treatise on Zeno, when they had been but lately published, brought in some gain to the possessors, if any one else was desirous of reading them.
XL. These now were his chief opinions. He affirmed that the soul was immortal and clothed in many bodies successively, and that its first principle was number, and that the first principle of the body was geometry. And he defined it as an abstract idea of spirit diffused in every direction. He said also, that it was self-moving and threefold. For that that part of it which was capable of reasoning was situated in the head, that that portion which was affected by passion was seated around the heart, and that which was appetitive was placed around the navel and the liver. And that it is placed in the middle of the body, and embraces it at the same time in all its parts, and that it consists of elements; and that when it is divided according to harmonic intervals it forms two connected circles; of which the inner circle is divided into six portions, and makes in all seven circles; and that this is placed on the left hand of the diameter, and situated in the interior. But the other is on the right hand of the same line; on which account, and because it is one only, it is the superior of the two. For the other is divided internally; and this too, is the circle of that which is always the same; the other, the circle of that which is changeable and different. And the one he says is the motion of the soul, but the other is the motion of the universe and of the planets.
On the other side, the division of the circles from the centre to the extremities, being harmoniously appropriated to the essence of the soul, the one knows existing things and establishes harmony between them, because it is itself composed of harmonious elements. The circle of what is changeable, engenders opinion by its regular movements; but the circle of that which is always the same produces knowledge.
XLI. Plato lays down two primary causes or principles of all things, God and matter, which he also calls mind, and the cause. And he defines matter as something without shape and without limitation, and says that from it all concretions arise. He affirms also that as it was moving about at random, it was brought by God into one settled place, as God thought order better than disorder; and that this nature is divided into four elements, fire, water, air, and earth, of which the world itself and everything in it was made. But he says that the earth is the only thing that is unchangeable, as he considers the cause to be the difference of the figures of which it is composed; for he says that the figures of the others are homogeneous; for that they are all composed equally of scalene triangles. The figure of the earth, however, is peculiar to itself; for the element of fire is a pyramid; of air, an octagon; of water, an eicosagon; and of the earth, a cube; owing to which these things cannot be changed into earth, nor earth into them. He teaches also that these elements are not separated so as to occupy each a peculiar and distinct place; for the spherical motion collects and compresses all the small things towards the centre, and the small things separate the great ones, on which account the species, as they change, do also change their positions.
Moreover he asserts that the world is one, and has been produced, since it has been made by God, in such a manner as to be an object of sensation. And he considers it endowed with life, because that which is so endowed, is superior to that which is not, and it must be the production of the most excellent producer. It is also one, and illimitable; because the model after which it was made was one; and it is spherical, because its creator was of that form; for it also contains all other animals, and God who made it comprises all forms. And it is smooth, and has no instruments whatever all round it, because it has no need of any. But the whole world remains imperishable, because it cannot be resolved into God; and God is the cause of universal production, because it is the nature of the good to be productive of good; and the best is the cause of the production of the heaven; for the best of all productions can have no other cause than the best of all intelligible existences. And since God is of that character, and since heaven resembles the best, inasmuch as it is at least the most beautiful of all things, it cannot be like anything else that is produced, except God.
He also teaches that the world consists of fire, water, air, and earth; of fire, in order that it may be visible; of earth, in order that it may be firm; of water and air, that it may not be destitute of proportion; for two middle terms are indispensable to keep the solid bodies in due proportion to one another, and to realize the unity of the whole. In short, the world is formed of all the elements together, in order that it may be perfect and imperishable.
Again, time is the image of eternity; eternity subsists for ever; but the motion of the heaven is time; for day, and night, and the months, and all such divisions, are parts of time, on which account there could be no such thing as time apart from the nature of the world; for time existed contemporaneously and simultaneously with the world. And it was with reference to time that the sun, and the moon, and the planets were made; and it was in order that the number of the seasons might be manifest, and that the animals might partake of number, that God kindled the light of the sun; and that the moon was above the circle of the earth, and that the sun was next to it, and in the still higher circles were the planets. And that the universe was animated, because it was altogether bound up in animated motion, and that the race of all other animals was produced in order that the world might be made perfect, and resembling an animal such as could be comprehended by intellect. Since then God had life, the heaven also must have life; and the Gods are to a great extent composed of fire. And there are three other races of animals, those which fly in the air; those which live in the water; those which walk in the earth. The oldest of all the deities in heaven is the Earth; she was formed in order to be the dispenser of night and day; and as she is placed in the centre, she is constantly in motion around the centre.
And since there are two efficient causes, some things must, he says, be affirmed to exist in consequence of intellect, and some from some necessary cause. Now necessary causes are the air, fire, earth, and water, these not being real elements, but rather receptacles; and they too are formed of triangles in combination, and are resolvable into triangles; and their elements are the scalene triangle and the isosceles. These two before mentioned elements are the principles and causes of things, of which the models are God and matter, which last must necessarily be destitute of form, as is the case of other receptacles. And that the cause of these things was a necessary cause, which, receiving the ideas, produced the substances, and was moved by the dissimilarity of its own power, and again by its motion compelled those things which were moved by it to move other things in their turn.
But all these things were formerly moved without any reason or order; but after they began to form the world by their combination, they then received symmetry and regularity from God, according to the principles applicable to them; for the efficient causes, even before the creation of the heaven, were two in number. There was also a third, namely production; but these were not very evident, but rather traces than actual things, and quite devoid of regularity. But after the world was made, then they too assumed a regular form and arrangement; but the heaven was made of all existing bodies. And Plato considers that God is incorporeal just as the soul is, and that it is owing to that that he is not affected by any destruction or external circumstances. And ideas, as we have said before, he defines as certain causes and principles, owing to which it is that such and such things are by nature what they are.
XLII. On the subject of good and evil, these were his sentiments: that the end was to become like God; and that virtue was sufficient of herself for happiness, but nevertheless required the advantages of the body as instruments to work with; such as health, strength, the integrity of the senses, and things of that kind; and also external advantages, such as riches, and noble birth, and glory. Still that the wise man would be not the less happy, even if destitute of these auxiliary circumstances; for he would enjoy the constitution of his country, and would marry, and would not transgress the established laws, and that he would legislate for his country, as well as he could under existing circumstances, unless he saw affairs in an unmanageable condition, in consequence of the excessive factiousness of the people. He thinks too that the Gods superintend all the affairs of men, and that there are such beings as daemons. And he was the first person who defined the notion of the honourable, as that which borders on the praiseworthy, and the logical, and the useful, and the becoming, and the expedient, all which things are combined with that which is suitable to, and in accordance with, nature.
XLIII. He also discussed in his dialogues the correctness of terms, so that he was the first person who reduced the science of giving correct answers, and putting correct questions to a system, which he himself used to satiety.
XLIV. In his dialogues he used to speak of justice as a kind of law of God, as being of influence sufficient to excite men to act justly, in order to avoid suffering punishment as malefactors after death. Owing to which he appeared to some people rather fond of mythical stories, as he mingled stories of this kind with his writings, in order by the uncertainty of all the circumstances that affect men after their death, to induce them to abstain from evil actions. And these were his opinions.
XLV. He used too, says Aristotle, to divide things in this manner:-Of good, some have their place in the mind, some in the body, and some are wholly external. As, for instance, justice, and prudence, and manly courage, and temperance, and qualities of that sort exist in the soul. Beauty, and a good constitution, and health, and strength exist in the body. But friends, and the prosperity of one's country, and wealth, are external goods. There are then three species of goods, some in the soul, some in the body, and some external to either.
XLVI. There are also three species of friendship. For one kind is natural, another that which arises from companionship; and the third is that which is produced by ties of hospitality. We call that natural friendship which parents feel towards their offspring, and relations towards one another; and this is partaken of by other animals besides men. We call that the friendship of companionship which arises from a habit of association, and which has no reference to ties of blood, such as the friendship of Pylades for Orestes. That which arises from ties of hospitality is one which owes its origin to agreements, and which is carried on by means of letters between strangers. There is, therefore, natural friendship, and friendship between companions, and between strangers. Some also add a fourth kind, namely, the friendship of love.
XLVII. Of political constitutions there are five species. There is one kind which is democratical, a second which is aristocratical, a third is oligarchical, a fourth monarchical, and the fifth is tyrannical. Now, the democratical form of constitution exists in those cities in which the multitude has the chief power, and elects magistrates and passes laws at its own pleasure. But an aristocracy is that form in which neither the rich, nor the poor, nor the most illustrious men of the city rule, but the most nobly born have the chief sway. And oligarchy is that constitution in which the magistracies are distributed according to some sort of rating: for the rich are fewer in number than the poor. The monarchical constitution is either dependent on law or on family. That in Carthage depends on law; that in Lacaedemon and Macedonia on family; for they select their sovereign out of some particular family. But a tyranny is that kind of government in which the people are either cajoled or constrained into being governed by a single individual. Forms of government then, are divided into democracy, aristocracy, oligarchy, monarchy, and tyranny.
XLVIII. Again, of justice there are three species. For there is one kind which is conversant with the gods; a second which has reference to men; and a third, which concerns the dead. For they who sacrifice according to the laws, and who pay due respect to the temples, are manifestly pious to the gods. And those who repay what has been lent to them, and restore what has been deposited with them, act justly as to men. And those who pay due respect to the tombs, clearly are pious towards the dead. There is, therefore, one justice towards the Gods, a second towards men, and a third towards the dead.
XLIX. In the same way, there are also three species of knowledge. There is one kind which is practical, a second which is productive, a third which is theoretical. For the science of building houses or ships, is production, For one can see the work which is produced by it. Political science, and the science of playing the flute, or the harp, or such things as that, is practical; for one cannot see any visible result which has been produced by them, and yet they are doing something. For one man plays the flute or plays the harp, and another occupies himself with state affairs. Again, geometrical, and harmonic, and astronomical science are all theoretical, for they do nothing, and produce nothing. But the geometrician theorizes as to what relation lines bear to one another; and the harmonist speculates about sounds, and the astronomer about stars and about the world. Accordingly, of sciences some are theoretical, others productive, and a third species is practical.
L. Of medical science there are five species: one, pharmaceutical; a second, manual; a third, conversant about the regulation of the manner of life, and the diet; a fourth, the business of which is to detect diseases; and the fifth is remedial. The pharmaceutical relieves infirmities by means of medicines; the manual heals men by cutting and cauterizing; the one which attends to the diet, gets rid of diseases by altering and regulating the diet; the fourth produces its effects by a thorough comprehension of the nature of the disease; and the last relieves men from suffering by bringing prompt assistance at the moment. Medical science, then, is divided into the pharmaceutical, the manual, the dietetic, the diagnostic, and the remedial.
LI. Of law there are two divisions. For there is a written and an unwritten law. The one by which we regulate our constitutions in our cities, is the written law; that which arises from custom, is the unwritten law. As, for instance, for a man to come naked into the market place, or to wear woman's clothes, are actions which are not prohibited by any law, and yet we never do them because they are forbidden by the unwritten law. Law, therefore, is divided into the written and the unwritten law.
LII. Discourse is divided into five heads; one of which heads is that which statesmen employ when they speak in the public assemblies; and this is called political. Another division is that which orators use in their written harangues, and bring forward for the sake of display in panegyrics or reproaches, or impeachments. And such a description of discourse as this is the rhetorical. A third class is that which private individuals use when conversing with one another. This is called private discourse. Another kind is that which is employed when men converse by means of putting short questions and giving brief answers to those who question them. This is called the dialectic kind of discourse. The fifth division is that which artists adopt when conversing on their own particular art, and this is called professional discourse. Thus discourse, then, is divided into political, rhetorical, private, dialectic, and professional.
LIII. Music again is divided into three species. For there is the music of the mouth alone, such as song; secondly, there is the music which is performed by the hands and mouth together, such as singing to the harp; thirdly, there is that which is executed by the hands alone, such as harp playing. Music therefore, is divided into music of the mouth, music of the mouth and hands, and music of the hands.
LIV. Nobleness of birth is divided into four species; the first is when one's ancestors are noble, and valiant, and just; in which case they say that their posterity are nobly born. The second kind is when one's ancestors have been princes and rulers of nations, and their posterity also we call noble. Another kind is when one's ancestors have been distinguished for personal renown, such, for instance, as is gained by generalship or by victory at the games. For their offspring also we address as nobly born. And the last kind is when a man is himself noble in his spirit, and magnanimous. For that man also we call noble, and this is the last kind of nobility. There is, therefore, nobility arising from virtuous ancestors, from royal ancestors, from illustrious ancestors, and from one's own excellent qualities.
LV. Beauty also is divided into three kinds. For there is one kind which is praiseworthy, as that of a beautiful face. Another which is useful, as an instrument or a house, and things of that kind which are beautiful, with reference to our use of them. There is also a beauty with reference to laws, and habits, and things of that kind, which is likewise beautiful, because of its utility. So that beauty again is looked at in three ways, with reference to its praise, its utility, and to our use of it.
LVI. The soul is divided into three parts; for one part of it is capable of reason, another is influenced by appetite, the third part is liable to passion. Of these the reasoning part is the cause of deliberating and reasoning, and understanding, and everything of that kind. The appetite part is that portion of the soul which is the cause of desiring to eat, and to embrace, and things of that kind. The passionate part is the cause of men feeling confidence and delight, and grief and anger. The soul therefore is divided into the reasoning part, the appetitive part, and the passionate part.
LVII Of perfect virtue there are four species. One is prudence, one is justice, the third is manly gallantry, and the fourth is temperance. Of these, prudence is the cause of a man acting rightly in affairs; justice is the cause of his acting justly in partnerships and bargains; manly gallantry is the cause of a man's not being alarmed amid dangers and formidable circumstances, but standing firm; and temperance is the cause of his subduing his appetites, and being enslaved by no pleasure, but living decorously. So that virtue is divided into prudence, justice, manly gallantry, and temperance.
LVIII. Rule is divided into five parts. One is rule according to law; another is rule according to nature; a third kind is rule according to custom; a fourth division is rule with reference to family; the fifth is rule by force. Now when the rulers in cities are elected by the citizens, then they rule according to law; those who rule according to nature are the males not only among men, but also among all other animals; for everywhere we shall find it as a general rule that the male rules the female; the rule of him who rules according to custom is such as this, when schoolmasters rule their pupils, and teachers their disciples. Rule according to family is that which prevails in places like Lacedaemon, where hereditary sovereigns reign. For the kingdom there belongs to a certain family: and in Macedonia they rule on the same principle. For there, too, the kingdom depends on family. But those who rule by force, only cajoling the citizens, rule in spite of them; and such a sway is called rule by force. So that there is rule by law, and by nature, and by custom, and by family, and by force.
LIX. Of rhetoric he speaks of six species. For when orators exhort the people to make war upon or to form alliances against any one, this species of oratory is called exhortation. When they persuade the people not to make war, or to form alliances, but to keep quiet, this kind of rhetoric is called dissuasion. The third species of rhetoric, is when any one says that he has been injured by some one else, and impeaches that person as guilty of many crimes; for this species is called accusation. The fourth kind of rhetoric is called defence, when a man shows that he has done no wrong, and that he is not guilty of anything out of the way. Such a kind of speech they call a defence. The fifth species of rhetoric, is when any one speaks well of another, and shows him to be virtuous and honourable; and this kind is called encomium. The sixth species, is when any one shows that another person is worthless; and this kind is called blame. So that rhetoric is divided into encomium and blame, exhortation and dissuasion, accusation and defence.
Speaking correctly is divided under four heads. One, the saying what is right; one, the saying as much as is right; thirdly, the saying it to the proper people; and fourthly, the saying it at the proper time. Now as to the saying what is right, that is the saying what will be advantageous both to the speaker and to the hearer. The saying as much as is right, is saying neither more nor less than what is sufficient. The saying it to the proper people, is supposing one is speaking to one's elders who are mistaken in any point, the using expressions proper to be addressed to those older than one's self; or, on the other hand, if one is addressing those younger, then the using language such as is suitable to young people. The saying it at the proper time, is speaking neither too soon nor too late; for if one does, one will err and speak improperly.
LX. Beneficence is divided under four heads. For it may be exerted either in money, or by personal exertion, or by knowledge, or by words. In money when any one assists those who are in want, so as to put them at ease with respect to money. And men benefit one another by personal exertion when they come upon those who are being beaten and assist them. Again, those who instruct, or heal, or who teach any good thing, benefit others by their knowledge; and when one person comes down to the court of justice as an advocate for another, and delivers some speech full of sense and good feeling in his behalf, that man assists his friend by words. So that there is one beneficence which is displayed in money, another in personal exertion, a third by means of knowledge, and the fourth kind by words.
LXI. Again, Plato divides the end of all affairs into four species. An affair has one end in accordance with law, when a decree is passed, and when the law establishes it; it has an end in accordance with nature, when it is such a thing as a day, or a year, or the seasons. It has an end according to art, when it is architecture for instance, for a man builds a house; or when it is ship-building, for it makes a ship. And affairs also come to an end by chance, when they turn out differently from what any one expected. So that an end of an affair is regulated either by law, or by nature, or by art, or by chance.
LXII. Power again is divided into four species. There is one power which we possess by our ability to reason and form conceptions by means of our intellect. There is another power which we owe to the body, such as the power of walking, or giving, or taking, and such like. There is a third which we possess through the multitude of soldiers or riches, on which account a king is said to have great power. And the fourth division of power consists in the being well or ill treated, and treating others well or ill; as, for instance, we may be sick, or we may be taught, or we may be in vigorous health, and many more cases of that sort. So that one kind of power dwells in the intellect, another in the body, another in an army and riches, and another in our capacity as agents or patients.
LXIII. Of philanthropy there are three sorts. One which is displayed in addressing people, when some persons address every one whom they meet, and give them their right hand, and greet them heartily; another species is when one is disposed to assist every one who is unfortunate. The last kind is that sort of philanthropy which makes men pleasant boon companions. So that there is one kind of philanthropy displayed in addressing people, another in benefiting them, and a third in feasting and making merry with them.
LXIV. Happiness is divided into five parts. For one part of it is wisdom in counsel; another is a healthy condition of the sensations and general health of body; a third is good fortune in one's affairs; a fourth kind is good reputation among men; a fifth is abundance of riches and of all those things which are useful in life. Now wisdom in counsel arises from good instruction, and from a person's having experience of many things. A healthy condition of the sensations depends on the limbs of the body; as, for instance, when one sees with one's eyes, and hears with one's ears, and smells with one's nose, and feels with one's body, just what one ought to see, and hear, and smell, and feel. Such a condition as this is a healthy condition. And good fortune is when a man does rightly and successfully what a good and energetic man ought to do. And good reputation is when a man is well spoken of. And abundance of riches is when a man has such a sufficiency of everything which relates to the uses of life, that he is able to benefit his friends, and to discharge all public obligations in a splendid and liberal manner. And the man who has all these different parts of happiness, is a perfectly happy man. So that happiness is made up of wisdom in counsel, a good condition of the sensations and health of body, good fortune, good reputation, and riches.
LXV. The arts are divided into three kinds. The first, the second, and the third. The first are those of working mines and cutting wood, for these are preparatory arts. The second are such as working metals and carpentry, for they are alterative arts. For working in metals makes arms out of iron; and carpentry makes flutes and lyres out of wood. The third is the art which makes use of instruments; such as horsemanship, which uses bridles; the military art, which uses arms; music, which uses flutes and lyres. So that there are three species of art; one of which is the first, another the second, and another the third.
LXVI. Good is divided into four kinds. One of which we mean when we speak of a man endowed with private virtue, as good; another kind is that which we indicate, when we call virtue and justice, good. A third kind is that which we attribute to suitable food, and exercise, and medicine. The fourth good, is that which we mean, when we speak of good flute playing, good acting, and things of that sort. There are therefore four kinds of good. One the having virtue; another, virtue itself; a third, useful food and exercise; and fourthly, we call skill in flute playing and acting, good.
LXVII. Of things existing, some are bad, some good, and some neither one thing nor the other. Of these, we call those things bad, which are invariably capable of doing injury, such as intemperance, folly, injustice, and things of that sort. And the opposites to these qualities are good. But those things, which may at times be beneficial, and at times injurious, such as walking, sitting down, and eating; or which have absolutely no power in any case to benefit or injure any one; these are neither bad nor good. Of things existing then, there are some bad, and some good, and some of a neutral character, neither bad nor good.
LXVIII. A good state of affairs with reference to the laws, is divided under three heads. One when the laws are good, for that is a good state of affairs; so too is it, when the citizens abide by the existing laws; and the third case is, when although there are no positive laws, still men are good citizens in deference to custom and to established institutions; and this is also called a good state of affairs. So that of these three heads, one depends on the laws being good, another on obedience to existing laws, and the third on men yielding to good customs and institutions.
So again, lawlessness is divided into three heads. One of which is, when the laws are bad, both as concerns strangers, and the citizens; another, when the citizens do not obey the laws that are established; and the third is when there is actually no law at all. So that one kind of lawlessness arises from bad laws, another from disobedience to existing laws, and the third from the absence of laws.
LXIX. Contraries are of three sorts; for instance, we say that good is contrary to evil, as justice to injustice, wisdom to folly, and so on. Again, some evils are contrary to others, as extravagance is to stinginess, and the being tortured with justice to the being tortured with injustice. And such evils as these are the contraries of other evils. Again, the heavy is contrary to the light, the swift to the slow, the black to the white; so that some things which are of a neutral character, neither good nor evil, are contrary to other things of a neutral character. Of contraries then, there are some which are so, as what is good is contrary to what is evil; others, as one evil is contrary to another; and others again, as neutral things are contrary to other things of a neutral character.
LXX. Of good things there are three kinds; for there are some which can be possessed; others, which can be shared; others, which one realizes in one's self. Those which can be possessed, are those which it is possible for a person to have, such as justice, or good health; those can be shared, which it is not possible for a person to have entirely to himself, but which he may participate in; as for instance, a person cannot be the sole possessor of abstract good, but he may participate in it. Those again a person realizes in himself, when they are such, that he cannot possess them himself, or share them with others, and yet they ought to exist; as for instance, it is good to be virtuous and just, but yet a man does not possess the being virtuous, or participate in it; but the being virtuous and just ought to exist in him. Of good things, therefore, there are those which are possessed, those which are shared, and those which ought to exist in a man.
LXXI. In the same manner, good counsel is divisible into three kinds. For there is one kind which is derived from past time, another from the future, another from the present. That which is derived from past time is made up of instances, as for instance what the Lacedaemonians suffered by trusting to such and such people. That which relates to the present, is when what is wanted, is to show that the fortifications are weak, the men cowardly, or the provisions scanty. That which concerns the future, is when the speaker urges that no injury ought to be offered to ambassadors, in order that Greece may not get an evil reputation; and supports his argument by instances. So that good counsel has reference, firstly to what is past, secondly to what is present, and thirdly to the future.
LXXII. Voice is divided into two parts, one of which is animated, and the other inanimate. That is animated, which proceeds from living animals, while sounds and echoes are inanimate. Again, animated voice may be divided into that which can be indicated by letters, and that which cannot; that which can be so indicated being the voice of men, and that which cannot being the voice of animals; so that one kind of voice is animated, the other inanimate.
LXXIII. Of existing things, some are divisible and some indivisible. Again, those which are divisible, consist either of similar or of dissimilar parts. Those which are indivisible are such as have no separate parts, and are not formed by any combination, such as unity, a point, or a sound. But those are divisible which are formed by some combination; as, for instance, syllables, and symphonies, and animals, and water, and gold. These too consist of similar parts, which are made up of particles resembling one another, and of which the whole does not differ from any part, except in number. As for instance, water and gold, and everything which is fusible, and so on. And these consist of dissimilar parts, which are made up of various things not resembling one another; as for instance, a house, and things of that sort; so that of existing things, some are divisible and others indivisible. And of those which are divisible, some consist of similar and others of dissimilar parts.
LXXIV. Again, of existing things, some are spoken of as having an independent, and some only a relative existence. Those which are spoken of as having an independent existence, are those which require nothing else to be added to them, when we are explaining their nature; as man, a horse, and the other animals; for these have no need of any additional explanation. But those things are said to have a relative existence which do require some additional explanation. As for instance, that which is greater than something else, or less, or swifter, or more beautiful, and so on. For that which is greater, is greater than something which is less; and that which is swifter, is swifter than something else. So that, of existing things, some are spoken of as independently, and others relatively. And thus he divided them at first, according to Aristotle.
LXXV. There was also another man of the name of Plato, a philosopher of Rhodes, a disciple of Panaetius, as Seleucus, the grammarian, says in the first book of his treatise on Philosophy; and another was a Peripatetic, a pupil of Aristotle; and there was a third, a pupil of Praxiphanes; and there was besides all these, the poet of the Old Comedy.
1. This figure was like a barbed arrow, according to Zevort.
Scanned and edited for Peithô's Web from The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertius, Literally translated by C.D. Yonge. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Footnotes have been converted to endnotes. Some, but not all, of Yonge's spellings of ancient names have been updated.
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