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Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel). Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903) -- Book 12



I. That the Hebrews, according to Plato, were right in imparting to beginners the belief in their instructions in a simple form because of their incapacity  p. 573 b
II. That faith, according even to Plato, is the greatest of virtues  p. 574 b
III. That we ought to believe what is said concerning the soul, and the other statements concerning things of this kind. From the eleventh Book of The Laws p. 575 b
IV. That it will be necessary to deliver the first introductory lessons to children in the form of fables. From the second Book of The Republic   p. 575 d
V. That no hurtful fables must be recited to children, but only those that are beneficial  p. 576 b
VI. That Plato accepted the Faith not only in word, but also confessed that with true disposition of mind he believed and was persuaded of these things which we also believe  p. 577 b
VII. That it would not be right to publish the solemn doctrines of the truth to all  p. 581 a
VIII. What kind of rulers Plato says should be appointed: simple and illiterate men, if only they were well ordered in moral character. From the sixth Book of The Laws   p. 581 c
IX. That one should decline offices. From the first Book of The Republic   p. 582 c
X. On Plato's idea of Justice  p. 583 a
XI. On the Paradise described by Moses  p. 584 c
XII. How the woman is said to have been taken out of the man  p. 585 b
XIII. On the mode of life of mankind at first  p. 586 a
XIV. That they associated even with irrational animals  p. 586 d
XV. How they mention the Flood  p. 587 b
XVI. That the course of doctrine rightly begins with things divine and ends with things human. From Plato's first Book of The Laws p. 588 d
XVII. That it is good to train children from a still early age in habits of religion  p. 590 c
XVIII. That we should regard as education only that which leads to virtue, not that which leads to money-making or any pursuit for earning a livelihood  p. 591 b
XIX. That Plato agreed with the Hebrews in thinking that this world is an image of one more divine  p. 592 d
XX. That the young should be prepared for the acquirement of virtue by learning proper hymns and odes. From the second Book of The Laws   p. 594 a
XXI. What kind of thoughts the odes should contain  p. 594 d
XXII. That it is not every one that can compose the proper odes and songs, but either God alone, or some godlike man  p. 596 b
XXIII. Concerning those who are capable of judging the odes composed according to the mind of God  p. 596 d
XXIV. That even in banquets the odes should be adopted for laws as it Were of the banquet  p. 597 d
XXV. That drinking of wine is not to be permitted to all  p. 598 c
XXVI. That Plato was not ignorant that his enactments were in use among certain Barbarians  p. 599 d
XXVII. That our warfare is against ourselves and our inward passions  p. 600 b
XXVIII That it is not the body but the soul that is the cause of our evil deeds  p. 601 d
XXIX. Of the pure philosopher. From the Theaetetus   p. 602 b
XXX. Of all the sophistry in man  p. 606 d
XXXI. That it will be necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a remedy for the benefit of those who require such a mode of treatment p. 607 d
XXXII. That not men only, but also women and every race of mankind, ought to be admitted to the education above described  p. 608 b
XXXIII. That it is not right to accuse the whole nation from the cases of those who live disorderly among us  p. 609 e
XXXIV. How Plato changed the oracles in Proverbs into a more Hellenic form  p. 610 a
XXXV. Of riches and poverty  p. 610 c
XXXVI. Of honour to parents p. 610 d
XXXVII. Of purchasing slaves p. 611 b
XXXVIII. How he altered the saying, 'Remove not ancient landmarks which were set by thy fathers'  p. 611 c
XXXIX. A saying like, Visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me   p. 611 d
XL. Of thieves  p. 612 a
XLI. Of slaying a thief  p. 612 c
XLII. Of a beast of burden  p. 612 d
XLIII. That Plato uses the same examples as the Hebrew Scriptures  p. 613 a
XLIV. Further concerning the like examples  p. 614 a
XLV. Further concerning the same  p. 615 a
XLVI. Further concerning the same  p. 615 b
XLVII. That Plato also enacts that the citizens should be divided into twelve tribes in imitation of the Hebrew nation  p. 616 d
XLVIII. In what kind of place Plato enacts that the city should be founded : he describes certain features like the site of Jerusalem  p. 617 a
XLIX. How Plato deprecates the preparatory teaching of the Greeks as being injurious  p. 618 c
L. On the opinion of the Atheists, from the tenth Book of The Laws   p. 621 a
LI. How Plato arranges the argument concerning God  p. 623 c
LII. How he discourses on God's universal providence. In the tenth Book of The Laws p. 630 c


OUR twelfth Book of the Preparation for the Gospel will now from this point supply what was lacking in the preceding Book in proof of Plato's accordance with the Hebrew Oracles, like the harmony of a well-tuned lyre. We shall begin with a defence of our Faith, that is reviled among the multitude.

[PLATO] 1 'It would be another question therefore whether one is right or wrong in finding fault with the constitutions of Lacedaemon and Crete: perhaps, however, I should be better able than either of you to tell what most people say of them. For if your laws are even moderately well framed, one of the best of them must be a law allowing none of the young to inquire what is right or wrong in them, but bidding all with one Yoice and one mouth to agree that everything is well settled by the appointment of the gods; and if any one says otherwise, they must not endure to listen to him at all. But if an old man observes any fault in your laws, he may discuss such subjects with a ruler and one of his own age, no young man being present.'

'What you enjoin, Stranger, is perfectly right.'

With good reason then the Hebrew Scriptures at an earlier time require faith before either the understanding or examination of the sacred writings, where it says, 'If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not understand,' 2 and again, 'I believed, and therefore have I spoken.' 3

For which cause also among us those who are newly admitted and in an immature condition, as if infants in soul, have the reading of the sacred Scriptures imparted to them in a very simple way, with the injunction that they must believe what is brought forward as words of God. But those who are in a more advanced condition, and as it were grown grey in mind, are permitted to dive into the deeps, and test the meaning of the words: and these the Hebrews were wont to name 'Deuterotists,' as being interpreters and expounders of the meaning of the Scriptures.


[PLATO] 4 'IN the next place therefore we should say: It seems, Tyrtaeus, that you praise most highly those who distinguish themselves in foreign and external war. He would admit this, I suppose, and agree?

'Of course.

'But we say that, though these are brave, those are far braver who show their valour conspicuously in the greatest of all wars. And we too have a poet as witness on our side, Theognis, a citizen of Megara in Sicily, who says:

"Cyrnus, when factions rage, a faithful man 
Is worth his weight in silver and in gold." 5

'Such a man then, we say, is very much braver than the other in a harder warfare, almost as much as justice and temperance and wisdom combined with valour are better than valour by itself alone. For a man would never be found faithful and true in civil wars without possessing all virtue. But there are very many mercenaries who are willing to die in war, standing firm and fighting, as Tyrtaeus says,6 the greater part of whom, with very few exceptions, are violent and unjust and insolent and the most senseless of mankind.

'To what conclusion then does our present argument lead? And what does it wish to make clear by these statements? Evidently this, that before all things both the heaven-sent lawgiver in this country, and every other of the least usefulness, will always enact his laws with a view chiefly to the greatest virtue: and this is, as Theognis says, faithfulness in dangers, which one might call perfect justice.'

Among us also the Word of salvation, joining wisdom with faith, commends the man who is adorned with both, saying, in His own words: 'Who then is the faithful and wise steward?' 7 and again, 'Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things.' 8 Certainly in these passages He clearly shows that He approves not unreasoning faith, but that which is combined with the greatest virtues, such certainly being wisdom and goodness.


[PLATO] 9 'FOR indeed it seems to me that in our former arguments we stated opportunely that the souls of the dead have a certain power after death, and take an interest in human affairs. There are tales treating of these matters, which are tedious though true: but on such subjects besides the other reports which we ought to believe, as being so many and so ancient, we must also believe the lawgivers who say that these things are true, unless they are shown to be utter fools.'

In the Book of the Maccabees also it is said that Jeremiah the Prophet after his departure from life was seen praying for the people, as one who took thought for men upon earth.10 And Plato also says that we ought to believe these stories.


[PLATO] 11 'THERE are two kinds of stories, the one true, and the other false?


'And we must instruct children in both, and in the false first?

'I do not understand, said he, what you mean.

'Do you not understand, said I, that what we first tell children is a fable? And this, I suppose, is, generally speaking, fiction, though there is also some truth in it. And we use fables with children earlier than gymnastics.

'That is true.'

So Plato writes. And among the Hebrews also it is the custom to teach the histories of the inspired Scriptures to those of infantine souls in a very simple way just like any fables, but to teach those of a trained mental habit the more profound and doctrinal views of the histories by means of the so-called Deuterosis and explanation of the thoughts that are unknown to the multitude.


[PLATO] 12 'Do you not know then that the beginning is the chief part of every work, especially for any young and tender mind? For at that age any character that one wishes to impress on each is most easily formed and imparted.

'Quite so.

'Shall we then just carelessly permit our children to listen to casual fables (composed by casual persons), and to receive into their souls opinions for the most part opposite to those which, when they are grown up, we shall think they ought to hold?

'We must by no means permit it.

'In the first place then, it seems, we must supervise the writers of fables, and approve any good fable they may compose, and reject any that are not good. And we must persuade nurses and mothers to tell their children those which are approved, and to form their souls by the fables much more carefully than their bodies with their hands. But the greater number of the tales which they tell them now must be rejected.'

These precautions also had been taken by the Hebrews before Plato's time. For those who had a divine spirit fit for discerning of spirits approved what was rightly said or written with help from the Holy Spirit, and the contrary they rejected, just as they rejected the words of the false prophets. Moreover it was the custom of parents and nurses to soothe their infant children by singing the most edifying narratives from the divine Scriptures, just like any fables, for the sake of preparing beforehand for the religion which they were to learn when approaching to manhood.


[PLATO] 13 'LISTEN then, as they say, to a very pretty story, which you, I suppose, will regard as a myth, but I as a true story, for what I am going to say I shall tell you as being true.'

And after a little more:

'(There was a law) that he who had lived a just and holy life should depart after death to the Islands of the Blessed, and dwell in perfect happiness beyond the reach of all evils. But the man who had lived an unjust and ungodly life must go away to the prison-house of vengeance and punishment, which they call Tartarus.'

And again a little farther on:

'Next they must be stripped of all these wrappings and so tried, for their judgement must be after death. The judge also must be naked, that is to say, dead, examining by his very soul the very soul of each immediately after death, when it is bereft of all its kindred, and has left all that apparel behind on earth, in order that the judgement may be just.'

And afterwards he adds: 14

'This, Callicles, is what I have heard and believe to be true, and from these stories I gather the following conclusion: death, as it seems to me, is nothing else than the separation from each other of two things, the soul and the body.

'And after they are separated, each of them retains its own condition almost the same as it had when the man was alive, the body having its own nature and the results of its treatment and sufferings all plainly visible. For instance, if a man's body was large either by nature or by training or both while he was alive, his corpse also after death will be large; and if it was fat, it will be fat also after death, and so on.

'And again, if it was his custom to wear long hair, his corpse also will have long hair; or if a man was often whipped, and bore traces of the stripes in scars on his body either from scourges or from wounds of other kinds, when alive, his body after death may be seen to have these marks. Or if a man's limbs were broken or distorted during life, the same will be visible also after death. 'And in a word, whatever was a man's condition of body during life, the same conditions are also plainly visible after death, either all or most of them for a certain time.

This same then seems to me to be the case, Callicles, with reference to the soul also. When it is stript of the body, all things are visible in the soul, both its natural qualities, and the effects due to the habits of every kind which the man had contracted in his soul.

'When therefore they have come before the judge, those from Asia before Rhadamanthus, he stops them, and examines the soul of each, without knowing whose it is; but often when he has laid hands on the Great King or some other king or potentate, he discerns that his soul has no sound part in it, but is scored with scourges, and full of scars from perjuries and injustice, of which each man's deeds have left the print upon his soul, and all crooked from falsehood and imposture, with nothing straight, because it has been reared with no sense of truth: and from power, and luxury, and insolence, and intemperance of conduct he sees the soul full of deformity and ugliness; at sight of which he sends it off straight to prison in disgrace, where on its arrival it will have to endure its befitting punishments,

'Now every man who is under punishment, if punished rightly by another, ought either to become better and profit by it, or to be made an example to the rest, that others, seeing the sufferings which he endures, may be brought by terror to amendment.

'Those who receive benefit when they are punished by gods and men are they whose sins are remediable; but nevertheless it is by pain and suffering that they receive the benefit both here and in Hades, for in no other way is it possible to be delivered from iniquity.

'But if any have been guilty of the worst crimes, and have become incurable by reason of such iniquities, of these the examples are made; and inasmuch as they are incurable, they can no longer receive any benefit themselves, but others are benefited, who see them enduring for ever the greatest and most painful and terrible sufferings for their sins, hung up there in the prison-house in Hades as signal examples, a spectacle and a warning to the wicked who from time to time arrive there. And if what Polus says is true, I foretell that Archelaus will be one of these, and every other tyrant who is like him.15

'I suppose that the majority of these examples have been taken from among tyrants and kings and potentates, and those who have managed the affairs of states; for these because of their power commit the greatest and most impious crimes.

'Homer too bears witness to this.16 For he has represented those who are suffering eternal punishment in Hades as kings and potentates, a Tantalus, and Sisyphus, and Tityus. But Thersites, or any other common villain, no poet has represented as involved in extreme punishments as being incurable: for, I suppose, he had not the power, and therefore was happier than those who had it. In fact, however, Callicles, the men who become excessively wicked are of the class who have power. Yet there is nothing to prevent good men from being found even among these; and those who are so found are very worthy of admiration. For it is a difficult thing, Callicles, and very praiseworthy for a man who has great power of doing wrong to live always a just life, and few there be of this kind. Some there have been both here and elsewhere, and I doubt not there will be others, endowed with this virtue of administering justly whatever may be entrusted to them; and one there has been very celebrated over all Greece, Aristides son of Lysimachus: yet for the most part, my good friend, men in power turn out bad.

As I was saying therefore, when Rhadamanthus gets hold of such a man, he knows nothing else about him, neither who he is, nor of what family, but only that he is a villain: and on seeing this, he sends him off to Tartarus, with a badge upon him to show whether he seems to be curable or incurable; and on arrival there he undergoes the treatment proper to his case.

'But sometimes after looking upon another soul that has lived a holy life in company with truth, a private man's or any other's (most likely, I venture to say, Callicles, the soul of a philosopher who minded his own work and did not busy himself in affairs during his life), he is delighted and sends it off to the Islands of the Blessed.

'Aeacus also does just the same, and each of these two sits in judgement with a rod in his hand. But Minos as superintending sits alone, and holds a golden sceptre, as Ulysses in Homer says that he saw him,

"Holding a sceptre of gold, as he utters the doom of the dead." 17

'For my part therefore, Callicles, I am convinced by these stories, and consider how I shall present my soul before the judge in the healthiest condition possible. So renouncing what most men deem honours, I shall try by really practising truth both to live the best life in my power, and so, when death comes, to die.

'All other men also I exhort to the best of my ability. And you especially I in my turn invite to enter upon this mode of life and this conflict, which I declare to be worth all other conflicts here on earth.

'And I make it a reproach to you that you will not be able to help yourself, when the trial and the judgement of which I was just now speaking come upon you. But on coming before that judge, the son of Aegina, when he lays hold of you and leads you forward, you will stand agape and turn dizzy there, just as much as I should here. And perhaps some one will smite you even to your shame upon the cheek, and will insult you in every way.

'Perhaps, however, this appears to you a fable, like an old wife's tale, and so you despise it. And there would be nothing strange in despising it, if by any searching we could find something better and truer.

'But as it is you see that though there are three of you, who are the wisest of the Greeks of the present time, yourself and Polus and Gorgias, you are not able to show that we ought to live any other life than this, which appears to be of advantage in the other world as well. But amid so many arguments, while all the rest were refuted, this alone remains unshaken, that to do wrong is to be more carefully avoided than to suffer wrong, and above all a man must study not to seem but to be good, both in private and in public life.'

So then Plato supposed that Aeacus and Minos and Rhadamanthus would be judges of the dead: but the word of God protests that 'all must appear before the judgement-seat of God; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.' 18

And again it says, 'In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, . . . who will render to every man according to his works: to them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek;19 . . . for there is no difference.'20


[PLATO] 21 'TAKE care, however, that these things come not to the knowledge of uneducated men: for there are, I think, hardly any tales more ridiculous than these to the multitude, nor on the other hand any more admirable and inspiring to the well disposed. But though often repeated and constantly heard even for many years, they, like gold, hardly become thoroughly purified with much careful treatment.'

Among us also the Word of salvation says:

'Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.' 22 And again, 'For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him.'23


[PLATO] 24 'AND indeed (I call it folly) also in the individual, when good reasons that are present in his soul produce no good effect, but what is quite contrary to them. All these I should class as the worst kinds of ignorance both in a state and in each individual citizen, and not the ignorance of the craftsmen, if you understand, Strangers, what I mean.

'Yes, we understand, friend, and admit what you say.

'Let this then be thus laid down as agreed on and stated, that nothing connected with government must be entrusted to those citizens who are ignorant of these things, and they must be reproached for ignorance, even though they may be very clever in argument and thoroughly trained in all accomplishments, and all that naturally tends to quickness of understanding: while those who are of the opposite character to them must be called wise, even though, according to the proverb, they know neither how to read nor how to swim; and offices of authority must be given to them as sensible men.

'For, my friends, how can there be even the smallest kind of wisdom without harmony? It is not possible. But the finest and greatest of harmonies may most justly be called the greatest wisdom; and of this that man partakes who lives according to reason, whereas he who lacks wisdom is the ruin of his family, and by no means a saviour to the state, but on the contrary he will on every occasion be found ignorant in such affairs.'

Let this suffice for my quotation from the Laws, But in the Statesman also the same author speaks as follows on the subject of not being at all anxious about names and phrases:

'Very good, Socrates; and if you continue to guard against being anxious on account of names, you will turn out to be richer in wisdom in your old age.' 25


THE Hebrew Scripture introduces Moses at first as deprecating the leadership of the people by what he said to Him who conversed with him, 'I beseech Thee, O Lord, appoint some other that is able, whom Thou shalt send' 26: and afterwards it represents Saul as hiding himself to avoid assuming the kingdom, and the prophet Jeremiah as humbly deprecating his mission. Now hear how Plato also confirms the reasonableness of declining office, speaking as follows:

[PLATO] 27 'This then, O Thrasymachus, is now clear, that no art nor government provides for its own benefit, but as I said before, both provides and enjoins what is profitable to the governed, having regard to his advantage though he is the weaker, and not to that of the stronger.

'It was for these reasons then, my dear Thrasymachus, that I said just now that no one is ready to accept office of his own free will, and take in hand other people's troubles to set right, but all demand a recompense, because he who intends to do j ustice to his art never practises nor enjoins what is best for himself, if he follows the rules of art, but what is best for the governed. For which reasons, as it seems, there must be a payment for those who are expected to be willing to take office, either money, or honour, or a penalty if he refuse.'


WHEREAS the oracles of the Hebrews teach that their prophets and righteous men bravely endured the most extreme insults and outrages and every kind of danger, you may learn the agreement of Plato's opinion on this point also from these words of his, which he has set down in the second Book of the Republic:

[PLATO] 28 'Such then being our representation of the unjust man, let us now in our argument set the just man beside him "in his nobleness and simplicity," a man, as Aeschylus says:

"Whose will is not to seem good, but to be." 29

'We must take away the seeming. For if he is to seem just, he will have honours and rewards for seeming to be so: and then it will be uncertain whether he is just for the sake of justice, or for the sake of the rewards and honours.

'We must strip him then of everything except justice, and make his condition the reverse of the former. Though never doing wrong, he must have the reputation of the worst wrongdoing, that his justice may be strictly tested by his being proof against infamy, and its consequences: and he must be immovably steadfast even unto death, being in reality just but "with a life-long reputation for injustice." '

And soon after he adds:

'Let me therefore describe it; and so, Socrates, if my speech be somewhat coarse, imagine the speaker to be not me, but those who praise injustice above justice. And they will tell you as follows, that in these circumstances the just man will be scourged, racked, fettered, will have both eyes torn out, and at last after suffering every kind of torture he will be crucified, and will learn that a man should wish not to be, but to seem, just.'

Such is Plato's description in words, but the righteous men and prophets among the Hebrews are recorded long before to have suffered in deed all that he describes. For though most just, yet as if the most unjust, 'they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword, they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented,... wandering in deserts, and mountains, and caves, and the holes of the earth, of whom the world was not worthy.' 30

The Apostles also of our Saviour, though following the highest path of justice and piety, were by the multitude involved in the reputation of injustice, and what they suffered we may learn from themselves when they say, 'We are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and to men 31 . . . And even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place: 32 . . . being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world.'

Nay, even unto this present time the noble witnesses of our Saviour throughout all man's habitable world, while exercising themselves 'not to seem but to be' both just and pious, have endured all the sufferings which Plato enumerated: for they were both scourged, and endured bonds and racks, and even had their eyes torn out, and at last after suffering all terrible tortures they were crucified. None like them will you find by any searching among the Greeks, so that one may naturally say that the philosopher did no less than prophesy in these words concerning those who among us were distinguished in piety and true righteousness.


As Moses in some mystic words says that in the beginning of the constitution of the world there had been a certain Paradise of God, and that therein man had been deceived by the serpent through the woman, hear now what Plato, all but directly translating the words, and on his part also speaking allegorically, has set down in the Symposium. Instead of the Paradise of God he called it the garden of Zeus, and instead of the serpent and the deception wrought by it he supposed Penia (Poverty) to lay the plot, and instead of the first man, whom the counsel and providence of God had set forth as it were for His new-born son, he spake of a son ot Metis (Counsel) called Poros (Plenty), and instead of saying 'when this world was being constituted,' he said 'when Aphrodite was born,' speaking in this allegorical way of the world, because of the beauty with which it is clothed. He speaks, however, word for word as follows:

[PLATO] 33 'When Aphrodite was born, the gods were holding a feast, and among the rest was Poros the son of Metis. And after dinner, Penia, as there was a feast, came to beg and stood about the doors. So Poros being drunk with nectar, for there was no wine as yet, went into the garden of Zeus, where he was weighed down with sleep. So then Penia, to relieve her destitution, plotted to get a child by Poros, and lay down beside him, and conceived Eros.'

Such then were the thoughts which in this passage also Plato obscurely hinted in imitation of Moses.


AGAIN Moses had said, 'But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And God caused a trance to fall upon Adam, and cast him into a sleep, and He took one of his ribs, and filled up the flesh instead thereof. And the Lord God builded the rib, which He had taken from Adam, into a woman.' 34

Plato, though he did not understand in what sense the story is told, was evidently not ignorant of it. But he assigns it to Aristophanes, as a comedian accustomed to scoff even at holy things, introducing him in the Symposium as speaking thus:

'Now you must first become acquainted with human nature and its affections. For our original nature of old was not the same as now, but of a different kind. In the first place the sexes of mankind were three, not two as now, male and female, but there was also a third combining them both, of which the name remains now, but the thing itself has disappeared. For Hermaphrodite was then both a real form and a name combined of both, the male and the female.' 35

Then after his usual sarcasms, he adds:

'After this speech his Zeus proceeded to cut the men in two, like those who cut sorb-apples for pickling, or eggs with hairs. And of each whom he cut he bade Apollo turn round the face and half of the neck towards the cutting, that by contemplating the section of himself the man might be more obedient to order: he also bade him heal the other parts.' 36


MOSES described the original life of the earth-born as having been spent in the Paradise of God, and God as guiding them in a course of life without money or possessions, and all things as growing up for them without sowing or ploughing, and themselves as bare of the clothing afterwards adopted: and now listen to the philosopher all but translating these very statements into the Greek language. He says then:

[PLATO] 37 'God Himself was their shepherd and guardian, just as now man being another animal of more divine nature tends other kinds inferior to himself. And while God was their ruler, there were no states, nor any possessions of wives and children; for they all sprang up out of the earth into a new life with no remembrance of their former state: and there were no things of this present kind, but they had fruits in abundance both from trees and many various plants, not growing from cultivation, but sent up spontaneously by the earth. They dwelt for the most part in the open air, without clothes and without bedding; for their seasons were so tempered as to cause them no trouble, and they had soft couches, where grass sprang up in abundance out of the earth. The life of which I speak, Socrates, was that of the age of Kronos: but the present life, which is said to be in the reign of Zeus, you know by your own experience.'


AGAIN as Moses has recorded that 'the serpent was more subtle than all the beasts,' 38 and how the serpent talked to the woman and the woman to the serpent, and has set forth the persuasions used by the serpent, now listen to what Plato writes:

[PLATO] 39 'If therefore the children of Kronos, with so much leisure and ability to hold intercourse by words not only with men but with beasts also, used all these advantages with a yiew to philosophy, conversing with the beasts as well as with one another, and inquiring from every nature which by the possession of any special faculty discerned anything different from the rest to add to the store of wisdom, it is easy to decide that the men of that age were ten thousand times better than the present in respect of happiness. 'But if filling themselves to the full with meat and drink they discoursed to one another and to the beasts of fables such as now are told of themselves, this also, just simply to declare my own opinion, is very easy to decide. Nevertheless let us leave these questions, until there appear some informer competent to tell us in which way the men of that age were inclined in regard to knowledge and the use of language.'


WHEN Moses had laid down a plan of legislating for men, he thought that he must have in his preface an account of ancient times: and he makes mention of the Flood, and of the subsequent life of mankind, and then he describes the social life of the men of old among the Hebrews who were friends of God, and also of those who were proved otherwise in offences, because he considered that the narration of these things would be a parallel to his legislation.

And in like manner Plato also, when he proceeds to write down laws, affects the same method with Moses. In the preface, for instance, of the Laws, he has made use of his account of ancient times, making mention of a flood, and of the mode of life after the flood. Listen at least to what he says at the beginning of the third Book of the Laws:40

'Do you think then that there is any truth in the ancient traditions?

'What traditions?

'That mankind has often been destroyed by floods and diseases and many other calamities, in which only some small portion of the human race was left.

'Certainly every one thinks all this very probable.

'Come then, let us consider one of the many destructions, namely this which was caused by the flood.

'What point are we to observe in regard to it?

'That those who escaped the destruction at that time would be chiefly mountain-shepherds, small sparks of the human race preserved on the hill-tops.


'Moreover such men must necessarily be unacquainted both with other arts and especially with the devices of men in towns against each other with regard to selfish advantage and rivalry, and all other evil deeds which they contrive one against another.

'Certainly it is probable.

'Let us suppose then that the cities settled on the plains and by the sea were utterly destroyed at that time.

'Suppose so.

'Must we not say then that all implements were lost, and every excellent invention connected with art, whether of political or any other kind of wisdom, must all have perished at that time? '

And further on he says: 41

'Let us say then that, at the time when the destruction had just taken place, the condition of mankind was this, a boundless and fearful desolation, and a very great expanse of fertile land.'

After these and other such statements, he goes on to describe the lives of mankind after the flood, and then, just as Moses appends to the history after the flood the civil state of the godly Hebrews of old, in like manner Plato also, next to the lives of those who followed the flood, tries to describe the ancient times of Greek history, as Moses does of the Hebrews, mentioning the Trojan war, and the first constitution of Lacedaemon, and the Persians, and those who had lived among these events whether well or ill: and then after the narration of these things he begins his arrangement of the laws, following Moses in this also.


MOSES made all his legislation and the constitution of his state dependent on piety towards the God of the universe, and inaugurated his legislation with the Creator of all, and then taught that from the good that is divine proceeds all good for man, and referred the divine to the ruling mind of the world, that is the very God of all. Now see how our philosopher also, treading in the same steps, finds fault with the lawgivers of the Cretans and Lacedaemonians, and teaches throughout the law approved by Moses, speaking as follows:

[PLATO] 42 'May I then explain how I should have liked to hear you define the matter further?

'By all means, Stranger.

'You ought to have spoken thus: It is not without reason that the laws of the Cretans are especially celebrated among all the Greeks: for they are rightly framed in that they render those who use them happy; for they provide all good things for them.

'Now goods are of two kinds: some human, and some divine; and the former are dependent on the divine; and if a city accept the greater, it gains the less also; but otherwise, it is deprived of both. Now there are first the lesser goods, of which the chief is health, and beauty second, and the third strength of body for running and all other movements, and wealth fourth, not blind but keen-sighted wealth, if it accompany wisdom.

'For this indeed is the first and chief of divine goods, wisdom I mean, and next a temperate habit of soul joined with intelligence, and from these combined with courage a third good would be justice, and a fourth courage. Now all these are by nature set in higher rank than those bodily goods, and the lawgiver too must give them this rank.

'And next he must direct that all the other ordinances for his citizens are to be regarded by them as looking towards these goods, and among these the human to look to the divine, and all the divine to the ruling mind.

'With regard also to mutual contracts of marriage, and then in the procreation and nurture of children, both male and female, he must take care of his citizens in youth and maturer years even till old age, duly awarding honour or disgrace, and after having observed and watched over their pains and pleasures and desires in all these kinds of intercourse, and their pursuit of love of all kinds, he must rightly distribute praise or blame by means of the laws themselves.'

Also a little afterwards he says: 43

'After careful observation the legislator will appoint guardians over all these matters, some guiding their course by wisdom, and some by true opinion, so. that intelligence may bind all these ordinances together and render them, subservient to temperance and justice, not to wealth or ambition.

'It is in this way that I, O Strangers, should have wished, and still do wish you to describe how in the so-called laws of Zeus, and those of the Pythian Apollo, which Minos and Lycurgus enacted, all these provisions are contained, and what orderly arrangement in them is discernible to one who by skill and habits has experience about laws, although to the rest of us this is by no means clear.'

Among us also it is said, 'Seek ye first the kingdom (of God) and (His) righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.' 44 But long before this Moses also having commenced with the doctrine concerning God, and having next adapted to it his constitution of the state, and the rules about contracts, and the customs of social life, appoints as rulers and guardians over them all those who are consecrated to God, as the scriptures also teach, just men, haters of arrogance, 'some guiding their course by wisdom and some by true opinion.'


[PLATO] 45 'I TELL you then; and I affirm that the man who is to excel in anything must practise that very thing from his earliest youth, both in sport and in earnest, in every particular pertaining to the subject. Take for instance, the man who is to be a good husbandman or a builder of some kind; the one must play at building children's houses, and the other at tilling the ground, and be who brings up either of them must provide small copies of the real tools for him; and whatever branches of knowledge must be learnt beforehand they must begin to learn; the carpenter for instance must learn to measure by rule or line, and the soldier to play at riding or some other such exercise; and by their sports the teacher must try to turn the children's pleasures and desires to the point which they must reach to attain their end in life.

'The chief point then in education, we say, is the right "training in the nursery," which will best lead the soul of the child in his play to the love of that, in which, when he has become a man, he will need to be perfect in the excellence of his work.'

This also Moses had previously enacted, saying, 'And these words, which I command thee this, day, shall be in thy heart and in thy soul, and thou shalt enforce them upon thy sons.' 46 This the Hebrews are accustomed to do, training up all their young children from a tender age in the precepts of religion: and this is zealously practised to the present time in accordance with an ancestral custom in the Jewish nation.


[PLATO] 47 'LET not therefore that which we call education be indefinite. For at present when we blame, or praise the mode in which each has been brought up we speak of one of us as educated, and another as uneducated, although sometimes they are men extremely well educated for retail trade or a ship-master's life or any other such calling. For in our present discourse, as it seems, we do not regard this as education, but that training to virtue from childhood, which makes a man desire and long to become a perfect citizen, knowing how to rule and to obey with justice.

'This is the training which, as it seems to me, our present mode of speaking designates, and which alone it would allow us to call education; but that which aims at wealth or at strength or even at any kind of cleverness apart from intelligence and justice (it deems) mechanic and illiberal and not worthy to be called education at all.

'Let us then have no difference with them about a name, but let the present mode of speaking continue as agreed on between us, namely that those who have been rightly educated generally become good men. And so we must never disparage education, as it is of all noblest things the first that comes to the best of men: and if ever it transgresses, but may possibly be reformed, that is what every man should do to the utmost of his power throughout life.'

Also in the second Book of the Laws he adds: 'By education then I mean the virtue that comes first to children, that is, if pleasure and friendship and pain and hatred are rightly engendered in their souls when as yet they are incapable of reason, and, when they have attained to reason, agree with their reason that they have been rightly trained by suitable habits. This harmonious agreement is virtue as a whole, but the part of it due to right training in regard to pleasures and pains, so as to hate what one ought to hate, from the very beginning unto the end, and to love what one ought to love, if you cut off just this part by your argument and call it education, according to my judgement you would use the name rightly.' 48

So speaks Plato. But he is anticipated by David in the Psalms, when in teaching us 'to hate what we ought to hate, and love what we ought to love' 49 he speaks as follows: 'Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and would fain see good days? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.'

Solomon too says in like manner: 'Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father. For I give you a good gift: forget not my laws.'  50 And again: 'Get wisdom, get understanding; forget it not.' 51 And: 'Say that wisdom is thy sister; and gain understanding for thy familiar friend.' 52 Again: 'Enter not upon the paths of the ungodly, and envy not the ways of transgressors.' 53 And numberless other such, passages you will find in the Hebrew Scriptures, fitted for teaching the acquisition of piety and virtue, and suited alike to the young and to those of full age.


THE answer of God said to Moses: 'See, thou make all things after the pattern which was shown to thee in the mount.' 54 And the sacred word stated more plainly, 'Who served a copy and shadow of the heavenly things;' 55 and taught that the symbols in the writings of Moses plainly contain an image of the more divine realities in the intelligible world. Now then listen how Plato also gives similar interpretations in the sixth Book of the Republic, writing as follows;

[PLATO] 56 'The philosopher then by communing with God and with the order of the world becomes both orderly and divine, as far as is possible to man: slander however is rife in all things.

'In all indeed.

'If therefore, said I, it ever becomes necessary for him to study how to introduce what he sees in yonder world into the habits of mankind both in private and in public life, and so to mould others as well as himself, do you think that he will be found a bad artificer of temperance and justice and civic virtue in general?

'Certainly not, said he.

'But then if the multitude understand that what we say about him is true, will they be angry with the philosophers? And will they disbelieve us when we say that a State can never be prosperous, unless it be planned by artists who follow the divine pattern?

'They will not be angry, said he, if they understand it. But now what kind of plan do you mean?

'They would take, said I, a State and the moral nature of man for a tablet, and first of all would make a clean board, which is not at all an easy matter. You know, however, that the philosophers would differ at once from other men on this point, that they would be unwilling to touch either individual or State, or to frame laws, before they had either received a clean board, or themselves had made it so,

'Yes, and rightly, said he.

'Next then do you not think they would sketch out the plan of the constitution?

'Of course.

'Then, I suppose, in working it out, they would frequently look to this side and to that, both to what is essentially just and beautiful and temperate and everything of that kind, and then to. the other side, to what is found in men, and would put upon their tablet the likeness of a man by making a combination and mixture of the various ways of life, and taking their design from that which, when embodied in man, Homer called the form and likeness of God.57

'Rightly, said he.

'And one feature, I suppose, they would wipe out, and paint in another, until they made the human characters as pleasing as possible to God.'


[PLATO] 58 'IT seems to me that for the third or fourth time our argument has been brought round to the same point, namely that education is the drawing and leading of children to that which has been declared by the law to be right reason, and which has been approved by the best and eldest men from experience to be truly right.

'In order therefore that the soul of the child may not be accustomed in its joys and sorrows to go contrary to the law and to the rules laid down by the law, but may comply with it by rejoicing and sorrowing at the same things as the old man,----for this purpose, let these, which we call songs, be now in reality charms for the soul, seriously designed with a view to harmony such as we speak of; but because the souls of the young are unable to bear seriousness, let them be called and treated as plays and songs, just as those who are in charge try to offer to the sick and enfeebled in body the nutriment that is good for them in some kinds of pleasant food and drink, but that which is unwholesome in unpleasant things, in order that they may like the one, and be rightly trained to dislike the other.

'And in the same way the good lawgiver will persuade, and, failing to persuade, will compel the poet rightly to represent by noble and praiseworthy language both the gestures in his rhythms and the music in his harmonies of the temperate and brave and thoroughly good men.'

With good reason then among us also the children are trained to practise the songs made by divine prophets and hymns addressed to God.


[PLATO] 59 'You compel your poets to say that the good man, as being temperate and just, is happy and blessed, whether he be tall and strong, or small and weak, and whether he be rich or poor: but if he should perchance

"Midas and Cinyras in wealth surpass," 60

and be unjust, he would be miserable and live a wretched life. 

'Also your poet, if he speaks rightly, says,

"Ne'er would I praise, nor count for aught, a man"  61

who did not combine justice with the practice and attainment of all things accounted honourable; and, being a just man,

"Close should he stand and strive to reach the foe:"  62

but if unjust he should

"Not dare to look on battle's bloody death, 63
Nor outstrip Thracian Boreas in the race," 64 

nor ever have any other of the so-called good things, for the things called good by the many have no right to the name.

'For health is called the best, and beauty the second, and wealth the third; and numberless other things are called good, such as quick sight and hearing, and the sensitive and sound condition of all organs connected with the senses, and again to be a tyrant and do whatever one likes, and then it is said the consummation of all blessedness is to have acquired all these things and then come to be immortal as soon as possible.

'But you and I say this, I suppose, that to just and holy men these are all excellent possessions, but to the unjust great evils all of them, beginning with health. For indeed to have sight and hearing and sensation and to live at all are the greatest of evils for a man who possesses all the so-called goods without justice and virtue in general if he is to be immortal for ever, but a less evil if such a one survive as short a time as possible.

'These then are the things which I suppose you will persuade and compel your poets to say, as I do, and also by making their rhythms and harmonies correspond thereto, so to train your youths. Do you not see? For I say plainly that evil things so-called are to the unjust good, but evil to the just: and good things to the good are really good, but evil to the evil. As I was asking then before, do you and I agree, or how say you?'

These thoughts are not much unlike David's Psalms, which he had previously composed by divine inspiration, teaching by songs and hymns who is the truly blessed man, and who the contrary. This, at least, is the thought with which his Book begins, where he says: 'Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,' 65 and so on. This is what Plato has altered when he declares that the poets ought to say, 'that the good man being temperate and just is happy and blessed, and if a man be rich but unjust, he is miserable.'

And the very same thought David again expressed thus in the Psalms, saying: 'If riches abound, set not your heart upon them.'66 And again: 'Be not thou afraid when a man is made rich, and when the glory of his house is increased.'67 And at your leisure you may find each of the philosopher's sayings stated word for word throughout the whole sacred writing of the Psalms.


[PLATO] 68  'NAY rather, how surpassingly worthy of a lawgiver and a statesman. But other things there you would find to be less worthy: this point, however, about music is both true and worthy of consideration, that it was possible, as it seems, on such subjects for a man of firm courage to get songs established by law which naturally produce right conduct. But this will be work for a god or some godlike man.'

With good reason therefore it had been enacted among the Hebrews also that they should admit no other hymns and songs in religious instructions than those which had been made under the influence of the Divine Spirit by men of God and prophets, and the music corresponding to these sung in the manner customary among them.


[PLATO] 69 'So far I myself agree with the multitude, that music must be judged by pleasure, not however by the pleasure of chance persons, but that the best music generally is that which gives delight to the best persons who are well educated, and especially that which delights the one man pre-eminent both in virtue and education.

'And the reason why I say that the judges of this matter must be virtuous is this, that they ought to be endowed with wisdom in general, and especially with courage.

'For the true judge ought not to judge by what he learns from the theatre, when driven out of his senses by the tumult of the multitude and his own ignorance; nor if, on the other hand, he knows right, ought he through unmaniiness and cowardice carelessly to deliver a false judgement out of the same mouth with which he invoked the gods before proceeding to give judgement. For the judge sits there not as the learner but rather, according to right, as the teacher of the spectators, and to oppose those who neither properly nor rightly give pleasure to the spectators.'

Among the Hebrews also in old times it was not the part of the multitude to judge the discourses pronounced from divine inspiration, and the inspired songs, but they were few and rare persons, themselves partakers of a divine spirit, fit to judge of what was said, who alone were permitted to approve and consecrate the books of the prophets, and to reject those of men unlike them in character.


[PLATO] 70 'Now the original purpose of my argument, to exhibit in becoming language the aid that should be given to the Chorus of Dionysus, has been stated to the best of my power. Let us then consider whether this has been rightly done. I suppose that an assembly of this kind necessarily ends by becoming ever more tumultuous as the drinking goes on, just what we supposed at the outset must necessarily occur in the circumstances now under discussion.


'Yes, and every man is lifted with lighter heart above himself, and is gladdened, and grows full of loud confidence, and of unwillingness in such a state to listen to his neighbours, and claims to be competent to govern both himself and every one else.


'Did we not say then that in these circumstances the souls of the drinkers, becoming like iron heated in the fire, grow softer and younger, so as to be found tractable by one who has both the knowledge and the power to train and mould them just as when they were young? And that this modeller is the same as in their youth, namely the good legislator, who must make laws for the banquet, able to give an entirely opposite turn to the will of the man who is growing confident and bold and impudent beyond bounds, and refuses to submit to order and to his turn of silence, and speech, and drinking, and singing; laws able also justly to inspire that noblest fear, which stoutly resists the entrance of unbecoming boldness, that divine fear to which we have given the names of reverence and shame?

'That is true.

'We said too that the quiet and sober must be guardians of these laws and aid their operation.'

With good reason therefore it has been made a traditional custom for us also in our feasts to sing songs and hymns composed in honour of God, the proper order being under the charge of those who are guardians among us.


[PLATO] 71 'IF, as a serious matter, any city means to practise the custom now mentioned in a lawful and orderly fashion, as taking anxious care for the sake of temperance, and in like manner and for the same reason will not hold aloof from other pleasures, but form plans for the sake of controlling them, in this way they may all be used: but if it is to be for sport, and with permission for any one to drink who will, and whenever he will, and with whomsoever he will, with the accompaniment of whatever other customs he will, I should never join in the vote, that this city or this man ought ever to indulge in drinking; but going even farther than the usage of the Cretans and Lacedaemonians I should vote for the law of the Carthaginians, that no one when in camp should ever taste wine, but accustom himself to water-drinking the whole time; and that in any city neither male nor female slave should ever taste wine, nor magistrates during the year in which they may be in office, nor again should pilots or judges while on duty taste wine at all, nor any one who is coming to deliberate in any important council, nor any one at all in the daytime, unless on account of bodily training or sickness; nor again at night, when any one whether man or woman thinks of getting children. One might also mention many other reasons, why those who hold to reason and law should not drink wine, so that on this principle no city whatever would have need of many vineyards, but the other forms of husbandry and the whole mode of life would be duly regulated.'

Moses also anticipates this by enacting that the priests must not taste wine at the time of their religious service, saying: 'And the Lord spake to Aaron, saying, Ye shall drink no wine nor strong drink, thou and thy sons with thee, whenever ye go into the tent of the testimony, or when ye approach to the altar, so shall ye not die: a statute for ever throughout your generations.' 72 The same author also gives a law to those who make a vow, saying: 'Whosoever, whether man or woman, shall make a special vow of self-dedication to purity unto the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and vinegar of wine and vinegar of strong drink shall he not drink.' 73 Solomon too forbids the use of wine to rulers and judges, saying: 'Do all things with deliberation; drink wine with deliberation: princes are passionate, let them not drink wine, lest they drink and forget wisdom... and troubles.' 74 The apostle also gives permission to Timothy on account of sicknesses, saying: 'Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.' 75


[PLATO] 76 'IF therefore there has either been in the boundless ages of the past, or is even now in some barbarous region lying far away out of our sight, or shall hereafter be a necessity for men eminent in philosophy to take charge of a State, I am ready to argue to the death in defence of this assertion, that the constitution which I have described has existed, and still exists, and will exist, whenever the Muse herself becomes mistress of the State: for it is not impossible that she should become mistress, nor are my descriptions impossible.'


[PLATO] 77 'But how for a man in relation to himself? Must he be disposed as an enemy towards an enemy, or what do we say in this case?

'O Athenian stranger, Attic I should not like to call you, since you seem to me worthy rather to be called after the name of the goddess, because you have made the argument clearer by rightly bringing it back to its first principle, so that you will more easily recognize that we were quite right just now in saying that all men are enemies to all, both in public and in private, and every one an enemy to himself.

'What do you mean, my good sir?

'In this last case also, my friend, a man's conquest over himself is the first and noblest of all victories, but to be defeated by himself is at once the basest and worst defeat of all. For this is a sign that there is a war against ourselves going on in every one of us.'

And after other passages he adds to this and says: 78

'Must we not then reckon each of ourselves as one?


'But as possessing in himself two counsellors, antagonistic and foolish, which we call pleasure and pain?

'That is true.

'And in addition to both these certain opinions of things future, which in common are called expectation, but severally the expectation of pain is called fear, and the expectation of the contrary is confidence. And further with all these there is a calculation, which of them is better or worse, and when this calculation has become a common decree of a State it is called law.'

And presently he says: 79

'But this we know, that these affections in us are like cords and strings which pull us inwardly, and being opposite to each other draw us different ways towards opposite actions; and herein lies the distinction between virtue and vice. For reason affirms that there is one of these drawings to which every man ought always to yield, and never let it go, but pull against the other cords; and that this one is the golden and sacred guidance of reason, called the public law of the State; and that others are hard and of iron, but this one soft, as being of gold (and of one form), while the others are like all kinds of forms. We ought therefore always to take part with the best guidance, that of the law. For inasmuch as reason is beautiful and gentle and not violent, its guidance needs assistants, in order that in us the golden kind of motive may prevail over the other kinds.

'And so in this way the fable about virtue, speaking of us as being puppets, would be maintained, and the meaning of the expression about a man being "better or worse than himself" would in a certain way be made clearer; and that in regard to a State or an individual, the latter having found in his own case a true principle with regard to this drawing by cords should live in obedience to it, and a State, having learned the principle either from some god or from this very individual thus informed, should establish it as a law for dealing both with herself and with all other states. Thus vice and virtue would be more clearly distinguished for us.'

Among us also the word of God teaches the like doctrines, saying: 'I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind.' 80 And again: 'Their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them.' 81 And other passages which are similar to these.


[PLATO] 82 'We remember, however, that in the former part of our discussion we agreed that, if the soul should be found to be older than the body, the properties also of the soul would be older than those of the body.

'Yes, certainly.

'Then tempers, and dispositions, and wishes, and reasonings, and true opinions, and meditations, and remembrances must hare been prior to length and breadth and thickness and strength of bodies, if soul is prior to body.


'Must we not then necessarily grant what follows immediately from this, that the soul is the cause of all that is good and evil, and noble and base, and just and unjust, and of all opposites, if we suppose her to be the cause of all things?'

Let these quotations suffice from the tenth Book of the Laws. Now with these Moses frequently agrees in his laws, saying: 'And if a soul sin and commit a transgression,' 83 and all other passages expressed by him in like manner to this.


THE Hebrew Scripture says of the earnest philosopher: 'It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth: he will sit alone, and keep silence, because he hath taken it upon him:' 84 and of the prophets beloved by God, that they passed their lives in deserts, and mountains, and caves,85 for the sake of attaining the height of philosophy, fixing their thought upon God alone; and now hear Plato, how he too makes this mode of life divine, giving the following description of one who aspires to the height of philosophy:

[PLATO] 86 'We are to speak then, it seems, since this is your pleasure, of the leaders: for why should one talk about those who spend their time to bad purpose in philosophy? But these leaders, I suppose, in the first place from their youth up have never known the way to the Agora, nor where the court of justice is, or the council-chamber, or any other public assembly of the State: and laws and decrees, whether read or written, they neither see nor hear. The strivings of political clubs to gain offices, and meetings and banquets and revellings with flute-girls, are practices which do not occur to them even in dreams.

'And what has happened well or ill in the city, or what evil has come to any one from his ancestors male or female, is less known to him than, as the proverb says, the number of gallons in the sea. And as to all these things he knows not even that he does not know them, for he does not abstain from them for the sake of gaining reputation; but in fact it is only his body that has its place and home in the city, but his mind esteeming all these things as little or nothing, disdains them and is "flying all abroad," 87 as Pindar says, measuring both the things beneath the earth and on its surface, and studying the stars above the sky, and scrutinizing in all ways the whole nature of existing things each as a universal, but not condescending to anything close at hand.

'How do you mean this, Socrates?

'Just as, when Thales was star-gazing, Theodorus, and looking upward fell into a well, a clever and witty Thracian handmaid is said to have made a jest upon him, that he was eager to know about things in heaven, but took no notice of what was before his face and at his feet.

'And the same jest holds good against all who pass their lives in philosophy. For in fact a man of this kind knows nothing of his nearest neighbour, not merely as to what he is doing, but hardly even knows whether he is a man or some other kind of animal. But what man is as man, and what is becoming to such a nature to do or to suffer different from all others, this he is investigating, and takes much trouble in searching it out. You understand, I suppose, Theodorus, do you not?

'Yes, I do, and what you say is true.

'Therefore, my friend, the man of this character both in his private intercourse with every one, and in public life, as I said at first, whenever he is compelled either in a law-court or anywhere else to talk about the things at his feet and before his eyes, becomes a laughing-stock not only to Thracian girls but also to the rest of the rabble, by falling into wells and every kind of trouble from want of experience: and his awkwardness is shocking and makes him seem no better than a fool.

'For when scandal is going on he has nothing personal wherewith to reproach anybody, inasmuch as he knows no harm of any one from having paid no attention to it: so he appears ridiculous in his perplexity. And amidst the praises and loud boastings of others it is evident that he is laughing not in pretence but in reality, and so he is thought to be silly.

'For when either a tyrant or a king is eulogized, he fancies that it is some kind of herdsman, as a swineherd, or a shepherd, or cowherd that he hears congratulated for drawing much milk; but he supposes that they have a more ill-tempered and more treacherous animal than those to tend and to milk.

'He supposes also that a man in this position must become from want of leisure no less boorish and uneducated than the herdsmen, being shut in by his citywall as by a fold on the mountain. And when he hears how some one or other, possessing ten thousand plethra of land or yet more, possesses a wonderful amount, he thinks that what he hears of is very little, being accustomed to look at the earth as a whole.

'And when men sing the praises of family, saying that some man of birth can show seven wealthy ancestors, he regards the commendation as that of very dull and short-sighted persons, who from want of education cannot look always to the whole, nor calculate that every man has had countless myriads of ancestors and forefathers, among whom any man whatever has had many times over thousands and thousands of rich and poor, and kings and slaves, barbarians and Greeks: but when men pride themselves upon a pedigree of five and twenty ancestors, or trace back to Hercules son of Amphitryon, their narrow-mindedness seems to him extraordinary, and he laughs at their being unable to calculate that the twenty-fifth upwards from Amphitryon, and the fiftieth from him, was such as fortune made him, and so to shake off the vanity of an unintelligent soul.

'In all these matters then such a philosopher is derided by the multitude, on the one hand as seeming to be arrogant, and on the other as ignorant of what is before his feet, and at a loss on every occasion.

'You state exactly what takes place, Socrates.

'But when the philosopher himself, O my friend, draws a man upwards, and the other is willing to escape with him from the question, "In what do I wrong you, or, you me," into the contemplation of abstract justice and injustice, and what is the essence of each of them, and in what they differ from other things or from each other; or from the question, whether a king possessing much wealth is happy, to the contemplation of abstract monarchy and human happiness and misery in general, of what nature "they are, and in what way it is befitting to human nature to acquire the one of them, and avoid the other,----when in turn that narrow-minded, shrewd and pettifogging creature is required to explain all these subjects, he gives the philosopher his revenge. Turning giddy where he hangs on high, and looking down, unaccustomed as he is, from the upper air, dismayed and perplexed and stammering a barbarous jargon, he makes himself a laughing-stock not to Thracian girls, nor to any other uneducated person, for they do not understand it, but to all who have been brought up otherwise than as slaves.

'This then, O Theodorus, is the character of each. The one is the character of the man who has been really brought up in freedom and leisure, whom you call a philosopher, with whom we need not be indignant at his seeming to be a simpleton and a nobody, when he is thrown into any servile offices, as for instance if he does not understand how to tie up a bundle of bed-clothes, nor to sweeten a sauce or a flattering speech. But the other is the character of the man who is able to render all such services as these smartly and quickly, but does not understand how to throw his cloak over his right shoulder like a gentleman, nor in just harmony of language to hymn the praises of the true life of gods and of divinely favoured men.

'If, Socrates, you could persuade all men, as you do me, of the truth of what you say, there would be more peace and fewer evils among men.

'But it is not possible, O Theodorus, either that evils should disappear (for there must always be something antagonistic to good), or that they should be settled among the gods, but they necessarily haunt our mortal nature and this our place of abode.

'Wherefore also we should try to escape from this world to the other as speedily as possible. And escape means assimilation to God as far as is possible, and assimilation means to become just and holy and wise withal. But in fact, my good friend, it is not at all an easy thing to persuade men that the reasons for which the multitude say that we ought to shun wickedness and pursue virtue are not the right reasons for practising the one and avoiding the other, I mean the wish not to seem to be bad, but to seem to be good.

'For this, as it seems to me, is the proverbial old wives' gossip: but the truth we may state as follows: God is never in any way unrighteous, but most perfectly righteous: and nothing is more like Him than any one of us who may likewise become most righteous. On this depends a man's true ability, or his nothingness and cowardice.

'For to know this is wisdom and genuine virtue, but not to know it is manifest ignorance and vice: and all other kinds of seeming cleverness and wisdom, when they display themselves in political power, are vulgar, and in arts mechanical. With the man then who does wrong, and says or does unholy things, it is far best not to admit that villany makes him a clever man.

'For such men glory in their shame, and suppose that they are spoken of as no fools, nor mere cumberers of the ground, but men of the right sort to prosper in a State. We ought therefore to tell them the truth, that they are all the more what they think they are not, because they think they are not. For they are ignorant of the penalty of injustice, the last thing of which they ought to be ignorant. For it is not the penalty which they fancy, stripes and death, which wrong-doers sometimes escape altogether, but a penalty which it is not possible to escape.

'What penalty then do you mean?

'Though there are two examples set forth in the world of reality, the divinity being the example of the greatest happiness, and the godless of the greatest misery, they do not see that this is true, but from silliness and the extreme of folly they are not conscious of growing like to the one and unlike the other because of their evil deeds: and they pay the penalty for this by living the life fitted for the pattern to which they are growing like.

'And if we tell them that unless they get rid of their cleverness, the place that is free from all evil will not receive them after death, but that they will always have a life here on earth corresponding to their own character by a continual association with evil, being evil themselves, they will listen to this, as men of the utmost cleverness and cunning listening to fools.

'Quite so, Socrates.

'I know it indeed, my friend. There is, however, just one circumstance in their case, whenever they are obliged to give and to receive an explanation in private about the studies which they condemn, and are willing to stand their ground manfully for a long time, and not run away like cowards, then at last, my good sir, they are strangely dissatisfied with themselves and their arguments, and their fine rhetoric somehow fades away, so that they seem to be no better than children.'


AMONG us also there is this saying concerning all sophistry practised among men: 'For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will set at nought the prudence of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world?' 88,89

Moreover that those who study a divine philosophy ought to have no narrow-minded thoughts, we are taught in the saying: 'While we look not at the things which are seen, but at those which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.'90

And of the fact that wickedness gathers close around the earth and this mortal life, the word of God says somewhere: 'Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.'91 And: 'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.'92 The prophet also says: 'Cursing, and stealing, and adultery, and murder, are poured out upon the earth, and they mingle blood with blood.'93

And with regard to escaping from this world to God, Moses says: 'Thou shalt walk after the Lord thy God, and to Him shalt thou cleave.'94 And the same Moses teaches us to imitate God, saying: 'Ye shall be holy, for the Lord your God is holy.'95

David also knowing that God is righteous, and urging us to become imitators of Him ourselves, says: 'Righteous is the Lord, and loveth righteousness.'96 The same David taught us to despise wealth, saying: 'If riches increase, set not your heart upon them';97 and, 'Be not thou afraid, when a man is made rich, and when the glory of his house is increased: for when he dieth, he shall carry nothing away, nor shall his glory descend with him.'98

Also in the following words he taught us not to admire the ruling powers among mankind: 'Put not your trust in princes, nor in any sons of men, in whom there is no safety. His breath will go forth, and he will return to his earth: in that day shall all his thoughts perish.'99


[PLATO] 100 'But even if the case were not such as our argument has now proved it to be, if a lawgiver, who is to be of ever so little use, could have ventured to tell any falsehood at all to the young for their good, is there any falsehood that he could have told more beneficial than this, and better able to make them all do everything that is just, not by compulsion but willingly?

'Truth, O Stranger, is a noble and an enduring thing; it seems, however, not easy to persuade men of it.'

Now you may find in the Hebrew Scriptures also thousands of such passages concerning God as though He were jealous, or sleeping, or angry, or subject to any other human passions, which passages are adopted for the benefit of those who need this mode of instruction.


[PLATO] 101 'ARE we then agreed as to our former statements?

'About what?

'That every one, man and boy, free and slave, male and female, and the whole city, should never cease from reciting to themselves these charms which we have just described, changed from time to time in some way or other, and presenting every kind of variation, so that the singers may have an insatiable desire for the hymns, and pleasure in them.

'How could there be any doubt that this practice ought to be adopted?'

In the fifth Book also of the Republic he writes to the like effect, saying as follows: 

[PLATO] 102 'Do you then know any human occupation, in which the male sex is not superior in all these respects to the female? Or need we waste time by mentioning the art of weaving, and the making of pancakes and preserves, in which the female sex is thought forsooth to be great, and in which their utter inferiority is most ridiculous?

'You say with truth, said he, that the one sex is far surpassed by the other, I might almost say, in everything. Many women, no doubt, are better than many men in many points, but the general truth is as you say.

'No occupation then, my friend, of those who manage the affairs of the state belongs to a woman as woman nor to a man as man; but the natural qualities are found here and there in both sexes alike, and while woman has by nature a share in all pursuits, and man in all, yet woman is in all weaker than man.

'Yes, certainly.

'Are we then to assign all employments to men, and none to women?

'How can we?

'In fact, we shall say, I suppose, that among women also one has a natural gift of healing and another has not, and one is musical and another unmusical?


'Also one fit for gymnastics and for war, and another unwarlike and with no taste for gymnastics?

'So I suppose.

'Again, one woman is a philosopher, another hates philosophy? And one is high-spirited, another spiritless?

'This too is true.

'So there is one woman fit for a guardian, and another unfit.

Or was not such the nature which we selected as that of men who were fit for guardians?

'Yes, it was such.

'Both woman and man therefore have the same natural fitness for guardianship of the state, except in so far as one is weaker and another stronger.

'So it appears.

'We must then select women also who are of this character to live with men of the same character, and to share in their guardianship, since they are competent, and akin to them in nature.'

With good reason then our Word also admits to its divine instruction and philosophy every class not only of men but also of women, and not only of free men and slaves, but also of Barbarians and Greeks.


[PLATO] 103 'LET us look at it then in this way. Now suppose some one were to praise the breeding of goats, and the animal itself as a fine property; and some one else, having seen goats feeding without a goatherd in cultivated ground and doing mischief, should find fault with them, and on seeing any kind of cattle without a keeper or with bad keepers, should in this case blame them, do we think that such a man's censure would convey any just blame whatever?

'How should it? '

Also after a few sentences:

'And what would you say of one who praises or blames any kind of community, which ought naturally to have a ruler, and which with his aid is useful, whereas the critic had never seen it in its rightful association with a ruler, but always without rule, or with bad rulers? Do we suppose that observers such as these could pronounce any useful censure or praise on communities of this kind?

'How could they?'

If then among us also it should appear that some without any president and ruler, or with evil rulers, were doing evil, one ought not to find fault with our whole school, but rather to admire our religious constitution from the conduct of those who follow it rightly.


IN the Proverbs of Solomon it is briefly stated: 'The memory of the just is associated with praises, but the name of the ungodly is extinguished';104 and again it is said: 'Call no man blessed before his death'105: so now hear how Plato interprets the thought in the seventh Book of the Laws, saying:

[PLATO] 106 'Whosoever of the citizens should reach the end of their life after having wrought good and laborious works either in body or soul, and been obedient to the laws, it would be fitting that they should receive eulogies.

'By all means.

'It is not safe, however, to honour those who are still alive with eulogies and hymns, before a man has finished his whole course of life, and crowned it with a noble end. And let us have all these honours common to men and to women who have been conspicuously good.'


As Solomon had said in Proverbs: 'Give me neither poverty nor riches,' 107 so Plato says in the fourth Book of the Republic:

[PLATO] 108 'But we have found, it seems, some other things for the guardians, against which they must watch in every way, that they may not creep in unobserved into the state.

'What kind of things?

'Riches, said I, and poverty; as the one engenders luxury, and idleness, and revolution, and the other meanness and mischievousness, as well as revolution.'

By mischievousness is meant every disgraceful action.


AGAIN Moses says in his laws: 'Let every man fear his father and his mother,'109 and 'Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee'110; and Plato, like Moses, bids us both honour and fear them, speaking thus in the Laws:

[PLATO] 111 'Every man of sense fears and honours the prayers of his parents, knowing that many times and for many persons they have been accomplished.'

And again in another place he says:

[PLATO] 112 'We would have every one reverence his elder both in word and deed. And any one who is twenty years older than himself, whether male or female, let him regard as father or mother, and treat with reverence.'


MOSES in his laws forbade Hebrews to have Hebrews as slaves, and said: 'If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years shall he serve thee: and in the seventh year thou shalt send him away free.' 113 And in like manner Plato says in the Republic:

[PLATO] 114 'They should therefore themselves own no Greek as a slave, and advise the other Greeks to the same effect.

'Certainly, said he.

'Thus then they would be more ready to turn their arms against Barbarians, and abstain from war against each other.'


[PLATO] 115 'LET no man move landmarks, either of his own fellow citizen who is a neighbour, or of one whose property marches with his on the borders, if he be neighbour to a foreigner, considering that this is really to move what should be immoveable.'

And presently he says:

[PLATO] 116 'Whosoever ploughs over his neighbour's lands, encroaching upon the boundaries, let him repay the damage, and as a cure for both his impudence and his meanness let him pay besides double of the damage to the person injured.'


[PLATO] 117 'And in a word, let not the disgrace and punishment of a father follow upon any of the children, except when any one's father and grandfather and great-grandfather in succession have paid the penalty of death.'


A LAW of Moses says: 'If a man steal a calf, or a sheep, and slay it, or sell it, he shall repay five calves for the calf, and four sheep for the sheep. . . . But if he be caught, and the theft be found in his hand alive, from a calf or an ass to a sheep, he shall repay double.' 118 Now hear how Plato follows this, saying:

[PLATO] 119 'But whether a thief steal much or little, let there be one law and one punishment imposed for all alike. For in the first place he must pay double the amount stolen, if he be convicted in a suit of this kind, and if the rest of his substance suffice to pay it, beyond his lot of land; and if not, he must be kept in prison until he has paid it, or persuaded the man who gained sentence against him to release him.'


AGAIN when Moses says: 'But if the thief be found breaking in, and be smitten that he die, it is not murder,'120 Plato agrees in this also, saying:

[PLATO] 121 'If a man catch a thief coming into his house by night to steal his goods, and slay him, let him be guiltless: also if he kill a footpad in self-defence, let him be guiltless.'


[PLATO] 122 'AND so if a beast of burden or any other animal kill a man, except any animals which, when struggling in any contest of the public games, do such a thing, let the relatives prosecute the slayer for murder, and let the suit be decided by the country guardians, such and so many as the relative shall appoint, and let the beast which is condemned by them be slain and cast outside the borders of the country.'

So says Plato. And Moses in anticipation says: 'But if a bull gore a man or a woman and they die, the bull shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the bull shall be quit.'123


THE prophetic scripture says: 'Son of man, behold, the house of Israel are all of them become unto Me a mixture of copper, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace are they made a mixture of silver. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord; because ye are all become one mixture, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem, even as silver is gathered, and copper, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow fire upon them, that they may be melted' 124: and now hear what Plato says in like manner:

[PLATO] 125 'Listen then to the rest of the fable. For we in the city are of course all brothers, as we shall say to them in telling the fable, but the god, in forming as many of you as are fit to rule, mixed gold in their composition; wherefore they are the most to be honoured; and for all the auxiliaries, silver; but iron and copper for the husbandmen and other operatives.

'Inasmuch then as you are all of one family, you will generally beget children like yourselves, but sometimes from a golden parent a silver child will be born, and a golden child from a silver parent, and all the rest in this way, one from another.

'And this is the first and chief command that God lays upon the rulers, that they be above all good guardians of their children and watch over them with strictest care, to see what metal is mingled in their souls; and if one of their own children be found to be partly of copper or iron, they must by no means have pity on him, but assign to him the rank befitting his nature, and thrust him down either among the operatives or the husbandmen; and if, on the other hand, from these classes there be born a child with a mixture of gold or silver, they will value them and promote them, some to the rank of guardian, others to that of auxiliary: for there is an oracle that the state will be destroyed, whenever the man of iron or of copper has become its guardian. Do you know any device then by which they might be brought to believe this fable?'


THE Hebrew prophecy says to the princes of the people: 'O ye shepherds of Israel, do shepherds feed themselves? Do not the shepherds feed the sheep? Behold, ye devour the milk, and the fat ye slay, and clothe you with the wool, and ye feed not My sheep.... And ye sought not the lost, and the broken ye bound not up, and brought not back that which was going astray.'126 Moreover the Word of our salvation says: 'The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep: but he that is an hireling and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, forsaketh them.'127 Now listen also to Plato, in the first Book of the Republic, how he translates these sayings:

[PLATO] 128 'But as it is, Thrasymachus (for we must still look back upon our former statements), you see that though at first you defined the true physician, you did not afterwards think it necessary to keep strict watch over the definition of the true shepherd; but you suppose that, in so far as he is a shepherd, he fattens the sheep not with a view to what is best for the sheep, but with a view to the good cheer, just as a banqueter who is going to have a feast, or on the other hand with a view to selling them, as a money-maker and not a shepherd. But surely the art of the shepherd is concerned with nothing else than how to provide what is best for the flock over which he is set: for surely it has sufficiently provided all that is required for its own perfection, as long as it lacks nothing of the shepherd's art. Thus then I was supposing just now, that we must necessarily admit that every government, in so far as it is a government, looks solely to what is best for that which is governed and tended by it, in the case both of public and private government. But is it your opinion that the rulers in states, I mean the true rulers, hold office willingly?'


THE Hebrew prophecy says: 'From fear of thee, O Lord, we have been with child, and we have been in pain, and have brought forth wind [of deliverance]'129: and Plato in the Theaetetus represents Socrates as speaking thus:

[PLATO] 130 'Those who associate with me are in fact affected in the same way as women in childbirth: for they travail in pain and are full of perplexity night and day far more than the women. And this pain my art is able both to arouse and to allay.'


THE prophet Ezekiel said: 'And the hand of the Lord came upon me, and I saw, and, behold, an uplifting wind came from the north.'131 And presently he said: 'And in the midst was the likeness as of four living creatures. And the appearance of them was as the likeness of a man upon them, and each one had four faces. And the likeness of their faces was as the face of a man: and they four had the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of a calf on the left side; they four had also the face of an eagle.' Hear now what Plato also says in like manner:

[PLATO] 132 'Now then, said I, let us discuss it with him, since we have come to an agreement as to the effect of a course of injustice and a course of justice respectively.

'How discuss it? said he.

'By forming in words an image of the soul, that the author of those remarks may know how he described it.

'What sort of image? said he.

'One of such a kind, said I, as the creatures which, according to the legend, were naturally produced in old times, the Chimaera and Scylla and Cerberus, and many others in which several forms are said to have grown together into one.

'So they say, said he.

'Mould then, first, a single form of a motley many-headed beast, having a ring of heads of tame and wild beasts, and able to change all these and to produce them out of itself.

'The task, said he, needs a cunning artist: but nevertheless, since language is more easily moulded than wax and substances of that kind, suppose the model made.

'Now then model a second form of a lion, and a third of a man: but let the first be far the greatest, and the second next to it.

'These, said he, are easier, and are already done.

'Well, then, join the three in one, so that they may in a manner be grown together.

'They are so joined, said he.

'Now mould around them on the outside a likeness of 'one of them, that of the man, so that to one who cannot see the inside, but only the outer cover, there may appear to be one single animal, a man.

'The cover is moulded, said he.

'To the man, then, who says that it is profitable for this human creature to do wrong and not for his interest to do right, let us reply, that his assertion can only mean, that it is profitable for him by feeding the multiform beast well to strengthen both the lion and the lion's members, but to starve and weaken the man, so that he may be dragged whichever way either of the others draws him. and not to familiarize them at all or make them friendly one to another, but leave them to bite and struggle among themselves and devour one another.

'Certainly, said he, this is what the eulogist of injustice must say.

'On the other hand, then, would not he who says that justice is profitable assert that the creature ought so to act and speak, that his inner man shall have the chief control over the whole man, and take charge of the many-headed beast like a husbandman, nourishing and taming the gentle parts and hindering the growth of the wild, having taken the lion's nature for his ally, and by his common care for all make them friendly to each other and to himself, and so train them?

'Yes, this again is quite what the advocate of justice has to say.'


THE whole nation of the Hebrews having been divided into twelve tribes, Plato also in like manner enjoins by law the necessity of maintaining the propriety of this in the case of his own citizens, speaking as follows:

[PLATO] 133 'Let our whole country be divided into twelve parts as equal as possible, and for each part let one tribe assigned by lot furnish annually five men as guardians of the public lands and commanders of cavalry.'

And again he says:134

'Let the generals elected propose for themselves twelve commanders of infantry, one for each tribe.'


As the royal metropolis established long before among the Hebrews was far from the sea, and situated among the mountains, and possessed of very fruitful land; so Plato says that the metropolis to be founded by him in his Laws ought to be something of this kind. His words are as follows:

[PLATO] 135 'But what I am more desirous of asking concerning it is this, whether it will be a city on the sea-coast or inland.

'The city of which we spake just now, Stranger, is about eighty stadia distant from the sea.

'How then? Are there harbours on this side of it, or is it altogether without harbours?

'Nay, on this side, O Stranger, it is as well provided with harbours as possible.

'Wonderful! You don't say so! Further, then, does the country about it produce everything, or does it need anything besides?

'It hardly needs anything more.

'And will it have any neighbouring city close to it?

'None at all, and that is why it is to be founded there: for some emigration that occurred in the place in old times has left this region uninhabited for an immense time.

'Well, again? As to hills, and plains, and forest, what proportion has it of each?

'It is like the general character of the rest of Crete.

'Should you call it rocky rather than level?

'Yes, certainly.

'It cannot then be hopelessly bad for the attainment of virtue. For if it was to have been on the coast, and with good harbours, and in need of many things more than it could produce, it would have needed some mighty saviour and lawgivers more than mortal, if, under such natural conditions, its moral tendencies were not to be very promiscuous and evil; but as it is there is some consolation in the eighty stadia. It lies indeed nearer to the sea than it should, considering how very well you say it is provided with harbours; nevertheless we may be content even with this. For when the sea is close to a country, its daily neighbourhood is pleasant, but in reality it is very brackish and bitter: for by filling the city with commerce and retail trade, it engenders shifty and faithless habits in men's souls, and makes the city unfaithful and unfriendly both to herself, and likewise to all other nations. Against this, however, it possesses a consolation in producing all things; yet being rocky it evidently cannot be at the same time productive in abundance and in variety. For if it had both, it would provide large exports, and in return be filled with gold and silver coin; than which, I may say, there could be no greater evil, taken singly, for a city in regard to the attainment of just and noble sentiments.'

But now after so many proofs as we have hitherto given, let us observe how, after approving the mode of education among the Hebrews in the passages which we have mentioned, he deprecates the Greek method, writing as follows in the tenth Book of the Republic:


[PLATO] 136 'LET me say to you in confidence (for you will not tell of me to the tragic poets and all the rest of the imitative tribe), all such poetry seems to be hurtful to the understanding of those hearers who do not possess an antidote in the knowledge of its real nature.

'Pray what is the purport of your remarks? said he.

'I must speak, said I, although a certain fondness and reverence which I have felt from boyhood for Homer restrains my speech. For of all those charming tragic poets he seems to have been the first teacher and leader: nevertheless we must not respect a person in preference to the truth, but, as I said, I must speak out.

'Quite so, said he.'

Then afterwards he adds:

[PLATO] 137 'As to other matters, then, let us demand no explanation from Homer, or any other of the poets, by asking why, if any of them was skilful in healing, and not a mere imitator of medical language, none of the poets ancient or modern is said to have made cures, as Asclepius did, or to have left any school of medical art behind him, as Asclepius left his descendants: and let us not ask him about other arts, but let them pass.

'With regard, however, to those grandest and noblest subjects of which Homer undertakes to speak, such as war, and strategy, and administration of states, and the education of mankind, it is fair, I suppose, to ask him this question: "My dear Homer, if in the representation of virtue you were not a mere image-maker twice removed from the truth, as we defined an imitator to be, but only once removed, and capable of knowing what pursuits make men better or worse both in private and in public, tell us which of our states owed a better government to you, as Lacedaemon to Lycurgus, and many both small and great states to many other legislators? What state alleges that you have been a good lawgiver to them and have conferred a benefit upon them? For Italy and Sicily so speak of Charondas, and we of Solon: but who says this of you?" Will he be able to mention any?

'I think not, said Glaucon. At least no one says so, not even the Homeridae themselves.

'Well, but what war in the time of Homer is recorded to have been waged successfully under his command or advice?

'Not one.

'But are there said to have been many ingenious inventions applicable to arts or any other pursuits, as in the case of a man who is wise in practical work, such as Thales the Milesian, and Anacharsis the Scythian?

'Nothing of the kind whatever.

'Well, then, if not publicly, yet in private, is Homer said during his lifetime to have guided the education of any persons, who loved him for his society, and handed down a certain Homeric way of living to those who came after; just as Pythagoras was wonderfully beloved himself for this kind of association, and his successors, who to this day call their mode of life Pythagorean, seem to be in a manner distinguished among other men?

'Nothing of this kind either is reported of him. For surely, Socrates, the education of Creophylus, the companion of Homer, would appear even more ridiculous than his name, if the stories told about Homer are true: for it is said that in his lifetime he was much neglected by this very man.

'Yes, so indeed it is said, I replied.

'But do you suppose, O Glaucon, that if Homer had been really able to educate men and make them better, as being himself capable not merely of imitating but of knowing such subjects, he would have failed to gain many companions, by whom he would have been honoured and beloved? So then Protagoras of Abdera, and Prodicus of Ceos, and very many others are able in private intercourse to persuade the men of their day, that they will not be able to manage either their own house or their state, unless they preside over their education, and are so much beloved for this their wisdom as to be almost carried about on the heads of their companions. Can we then suppose that, if Homer or Hesiod was really capable of improving men in virtue, their contemporaries would have allowed them to wander about as rhapsodists, and would not rather have hugged them closer than gold, and constrained them to stay with them at home, or, if they could not persuade them, would themselves have escorted them wherever they went, until they had received sufficient education?

'It seems to me, Socrates, said he, that what you say is entirely true.

'Then must we not assume that all the poets, from Homer downwards, only copy images of virtue and of the other subjects of their poetry, and do not touch the truth? But, as we were saying just now, the painter, though he knows nothing himself about shoemaking, will make what seems to be a shoemaker to those who likewise know nothing about it, but judge by the colours and forms?

'Yes, certainly.

'In the same way, then, I suppose, we may say that the poet also by his names and phrases lays on certain colours proper to the several arts, of which he knows nothing himself except how to imitate them, so that to others like him, judging only from the words, whether he speaks about shoemaking, or generalship, or any other subject whatever, in metre and rhythm and harmony, it seems to be extremely well spoken.

'So powerful a charm these musical forms have naturally in themselves: but when stripped of their musical colouring, you know, I imagine, how poor the poets' works appear when read in bare simplicity as prose. Have you observed it, or not?

'I have, said he.'

Now these things being so, it seems good to me to go through some short passages of Plato, wherein he maintains the doctrine of God and of providence in a more logical manner, adhering in this also to the Hebrew dogmas. And first let us observe how he sets forth the opinions of the atheists.


[PLATO] 138 'THERE are some who say that all things come, and have come, and will come into existence some by nature, some by art, and some by chance.

'Do they not say well then?

'Yes, it is probable, I suppose, that wise men are right in what they say. Nevertheless let us follow them up, and inquire what they on that side mean.

'By all means.

'It seems, they say, that the greatest and fairest things are wrought by nature and chance, and the less important by art, which receiving from nature the great original works of creation moulds and frames all the smaller, which we all call artificial.

'What do you mean?

'I will state it still more plainly thus. Fire and water and earth and air, they say, all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art. And the bodies which come next to these, the earth, and sun, and moon, and stars, have been created by help of these elements, which are absolutely inanimate. And being severally carried by the chance with which they meet from their several forces, they combine in some intimate way, hot with cold, or dry with moist, and soft with hard, and all other principles which by chance were yet necessarily combined with a mixture of their opposites, and in this way and according to these conditions they have thus created both the whole heaven and all things in the heaven, and all animals too and plants, all seasons being produced, they say, from these elements, not by virtue of intelligence, nor any god, nor art, but, as we say, by nature and chance.

'And afterwards from these mortal elements art sprang up later, mortal like them, and has since produced certain playthings, not partaking much of truth, but certain images akin, one to another, such as are produced by painting and music and all their assistant arts. And the arts which do produce anything good, are those which combine their own power with that of nature, as for example medicine, and husbandry, and gymnastics. Moreover it is said that political science also cooperates in some small measure with nature, but for the most part with art: and thus that all legislation allies itself not with nature but with art, the assumptions of which are not true.

'How do you mean?

'In the first place, my excellent friend, these people say that gods exist not by nature but by art and by certain laws, and that these laws differ in various ways, according as the several states agreed among themselves in establishing their legislation: and moreover that what is honourable by nature is one thing, but by law another; and that principles of justice have no existence at all by nature, but that men go on disputing with one another, and are always changing them; and whatever alterations they make are severally valid at the time when they make them, being made by art and laws, and not by any natural principle.

'All these, my friends, are doctrines of men whom the young think wise, both poets and prose writers, who say that conquest by force is the best right. And from this cause young men are assailed by impious thoughts, as that there are no gods such as the law commands them to believe in, and therefore dissensions arise, from their drawing men towards what they call the right life of nature, which is in reality to live in mastery over all others, and not as serving others according to law.

'What a description you have given, O Stranger, and what injury by young men both publicly to states and to private families!'

Also after other passages he says: 139

'But now, Cleinias, answer me again, since you too must take part in the discussion. For the man who talks thus probably believes fire, and water, and earth, and air to be the first elements of all things, and these are what he calls nature, and believes the soul to be made out of them afterwards: and this not only seems to be probable, but he really tries to prove it to us by his argument.

'Yes, certainly.

'Is it possible then that we have discovered a source, as it were, of the senseless opinion of all men who ever meddled with physical inquiries? Consider and examine every argument: for indeed it is a matter of no small importance, if those who take up impious arguments, and lead others, should be found to be using their arguments not at all rightly, but in a mistaken manner. This seems indeed to me to be the case.

'You say well; but try now to explain how it is.

'It is likely then that we shall have to deal with rather unusual arguments.'

Also soon after he adds this:140 

'Nearly all of them, my friend, seem to have been ignorant both of the nature and of the power of the soul, and especially of its origin, that it is the first of all things, created before all bodies, and the chief ruling principle of all their change and rearrangement. Now if this is so, must not the things which are akin to the soul have of necessity been created before those which belong to the body, if the soul itself is older than the body?


'Then thought, and attention, and mind, and art, and law must be prior to hard and soft, and heavy and light: and moreover the great primal works and actions must be works of art, as being first of all; and natural products and nature, which they are wrong in calling by this name, must come afterwards and take their beginning from art and mind.

'How wrong?

'By "nature" they mean the generation of the first principles. But if the soul shall be found to be first, not fire nor air, then the soul having been the very first generated would most rightly be said to exist pre-eminently by nature. This is true, if one has proved soul to be older than body, but not otherwise. 'What you say is most true.'


'COME then, if we ought ever to invoke divine aid, let us do so now: let the gods be invoked with all earnestness to come to the demonstration of their own existence; and let us hold fast to this as a sure cable in embarking upon our present argument.

When I am questioned upon matters of this kind, it seems to be the safest course to answer such questions in the following manner.

'When any one says to me, Stranger, are all things at rest, and nothing in motion, or the very contrary? Or are some of them in motion, and some at rest? Some I suppose are in motion, I shall say, and some at rest. Is there not then some place in which the fixed are at rest, and the moving move?

'Of course.

'And some, I suppose, would move in one single place, and others in more than one.

'Do you mean, I shall say, that the things which are in the condition of rest at the centre move in one single place, just as the circumference of circles revolves, though the circles are said to be at rest?


And afterwards he adds:141

'Let us further state it in the following way, and answer ourselves again. If all things were somehow combined in one mass at rest, as most of such philosophers are bold enough to say, which of the above-mentioned kinds of motion must first arise among them?

'Of course the self-moving: for unless there were previously some change in themselves, they could never begin to change from any external cause.

'As the beginning then of all motions, and the first which arises in things at rest and continues in things in motion, the self-moving, we must say, is necessarily the eldest and mightiest of all changes; and that which is changed by another, and itself moves others, is the second.

'Most true.

'Since therefore we have reached this stage of the argument, let us make the following answer.

'What answer?

'If we see this self-motion take place anywhere in the element of earth, or water, or fire, whether separate or combined, what condition shall we say exists in such element?

'Do you ask me whether we shall say that it is alive, when it moves itself?


'It is alive, of course.

'And again, when we see soul in any thing, must we admit that this has a different or the same life as the former?

'The same, and no other.

'Stay then, in heaven's name. Should you not wish to understand three points about every thing?

'What do you mean?

'One, the essence; and one, the definition of the essence; and one, the name: and further, that there are two questions concerning everything that exists.

'How two?

'Sometimes one puts forward the name alone and asks for the definition, and at another time one puts forward the definition alone and asks the name. Are we then willing now again to make a statement of the following kind?

'Of what kind?

'There is, I suppose, something divisible into two equal parts in other things as well as in number. And the name of this that is divisible in number is "even," and its definition is "number divisible into two equal parts."


'It is something of this kind that I am trying to explain. 'Is it not the same thing of which we speak in either way, whether on being asked for the definition we give the name, or being asked for the name we give the definition, since it is the same thing that we speak of by name as "even," and by definition as "number divisible into two equal parts "?

'Yes, certainly.

'What then is the definition of that which has the name "soul"? Have we any other except that which was stated just now, "the motion which has the power of moving itself "?

'Do you mean to say that the definition "self-moving " implies the same essence as the name, which we all call "soul "?

'That is what I say. And if this is so, do we any longer feel the want of a sufficient proof that soul is the same as the first creative and moving principle of all things that are, and have been, and shall be, and again of all their contraries, since it has been shown to be the cause of all change and motion?

'We want no more: but it has been most satisfactorily proved that soul is the oldest of all things, as having been the beginning of motion.

'Is not then the motion which is produced in one thing because of another, but never presents any self-motion, being in reality a change of a soul-less body, of secondary rank or of a rank as far removed as any number by which one may choose to reckon it?

'Rightly so.

'Should we then have said rightly and properly and with the most perfect truth that soul has existed before body, or not, and that body is secondary and comes after soul, as according to nature the governed comes after the governing principle?

'Yes, with the most perfect truth.

'Do we however remember that we admitted in the former part, that, if soul should be found to be older than body, the things of the soul would also be older than those of the body?

'Yes, certainly.

'Then characters, and moral habits, and wishes, and reasonings, and true opinions, and acts of attention and memory must have existed earlier than length, and breadth, and depth, and strength of bodies, if soul was prior to body.


'Must we then necessarily admit what follows immediately on this, that soul is the cause of good and evil, and honourable and base, and just and unjust, and of all opposites, if at least we are to assume it to be the cause of all things?

'Of course.

'Must we not say then that, as soul governs and inhabits all things that move in any way, it governs the heaven also?


'One soul, or more? More than one, I will answer for you both. Not less than two at least we must suppose, the beneficent, and that which has power to work evil. You have spoken very rightly.

'Well, to proceed. Soul then conducts all things in heaven, and earth, and sea by her own movements, the names of which are will, consideration, attention, deliberation, opinion right or wrong, joy, sorrow, confidence, fear, hatred, affection, and all movements either akin to these or primary, which again taking with them the secondary movements of bodies lead all things to growth and decay, and separation and combination, and their attendant conditions of heat and cold, heaviness and lightness, hard and soft, white and black, bitter and sweet, and all things by use of which the soul, which is divine, taking ever with her the divine mind, conducts all things rightly and happily, but, if she allies herself with folly, works all the contrary effects to these. Are we to assume that these things are so, or have we still a doubt whether they may not be otherwise?

'By no means.

'Which kind then of soul, are we to say, rules over heaven and earth and their whole circuit? That which is full of wisdom and virtue, or that which possesses neither? Are you willing that we should answer this as follows?


'If on the one hand, my excellent friend, we are to say, the whole path of heaven and the course of all things therein has a nature similar to the movement and revolution and reasonings of mind, and proceeds in a manner akin thereto, we must evidently say, that the best kind of soul takes care of the whole world, and guides it on that best path.


'But if it proceeds in an insane and disorderly manner, we must say that the evil soul is guiding it.

'This too is most true.

'What then is the nature of the movement of mind? Now in answering this question, my friends, it is difficult to speak wisely. And for this reason it is fair that I too should help you now in the answer.

'You say well.

'Let us then not frame our answer as if looking straight at the sun and bringing on ourselves darkness at noonday, by supposing that we shall ever see mind with mortal eyes, and know it thoroughly. It is safer to observe the subject of our inquiry by looking upon an image of it.

'How do you mean?

'Of those ten kinds of motion let us take as its image that which mind resembles; and when I have helped you to remember this, I will frame our common answer.

'You could not speak better.

'Well then of our former discourse we remember thus much at least, that of all things we supposed some to be in motion, and some at rest.


'And again of those that were in motion we supposed some to more in one place only, and others in more than one, as they were carried along.

'That is so.

'Of these two motions then that whose course is always in one place must necessarily move round some centre, like the wheels on a lathe, and must be in every way as much as possible akin and similar to the revolving motion of the mind.

'How do you mean?

'Surely if we say that mind and the motion which goes on in one place both move according to the same conditions, and in the same manner, and in the same course, and round the same centres, and towards the same direction, and according to one law and one order, like the motions of a top, we should never be shown to be bad word-painters of beautiful images.

'What you say is very right.

'Well then this other motion which never proceeds in the same manner, nor according to the same conditions, nor in the same course, nor round the same centres, nor towards the same direction, nor in one place, nor in proportion, nor order, nor any law, must be akin to every kind of folly.

'Most truly it must.

'Now then there is no longer any difficulty in saying expressly, that since soul is that which carries all things round for us, we must of necessity affirm that the revolution of the heaven is carried on by the care and arrangement either of the best soul or of the worse.

'But according to what has now been said, O Stranger, it would be impious to say otherwise than that soul or souls endowed with every virtue carry them round.

'You have paid admirable attention to my arguments, Cleinias. But listen further to the following.


'If soul carries all things round, sun and moon and the stars too, does she not also carry round each one of them?

'Of course.

'Then concerning one of them let us argue in a manner which we shall find applicable to all the heavenly bodies.

'Which one?

'Every man sees the sun's body, but no one sees his soul, nor yet the soul of any animal's body, either in life or after death. There is, however, much reason to suppose that this nature of soul invests all our bodily senses though utterly imperceptible thereby to us, but is apprehended by mind alone. By mind therefore and by thought let us grasp the following notion of it.

'What kind of notion?

'If soul carries the sun round, we shall not be far wrong in saying that it does one of three things.

'What three?

'That either dwelling within this circular body that we see the soul carries it such as it is safely through in every direction, as our soul carries us about every way; or having from some external source provided herself with a body of fire or a kind of air, as some say, she forcibly drives body by body; or thirdly, being herself without a body, but endowed with certain other exceedingly wonderful powers, she so guides his course.


'This so far must be true, that soul directs all things by one or other of these operations.'

These then are the statements of our philosopher in the tenth Book of the Laws. But hear how he arranges the same thought in the Philebus also:

[PLATO] 142 'All the wise men say with one voice, in reality magnifying themselves, that mind is our king of heaven and earth. And perhaps they are right. But, if you please, let us conduct our examination of the general nature of mind more at length.

'Speak in whatever way you please, Socrates, thinking nothing of length on our account, as you will not be wearisome, to us.

'You say well. Let us then begin our further inquiries in the following manner.


'Whether ought we to assert, Protarchus, that all things and this so-called universe are under the guardianship of the irrational and purposeless force, and mere hap-hazard; or that, on the contrary, as those before us used to say, mind and wisdom of some marvellous kind arrange and govern them?

'They are utterly different assertions, O noble Socrates. For the opinion which you mention seems to me to be impious. But the assertion that mind arranges them all is worthy of the aspect of the world, and of sun and moon and stars and the whole circuit of heaven, and for my part I would never speak nor even think of them otherwise.

'Are you willing then that we also should assent to what was agreed on by those before us, that these things are so? And not merely think that we must state the opinions of others without risk to ourselves, but also share the danger and bear part of the blame, when some clever man asserts that these things are not as we say but all in disorder?

'Of course I should be willing.

'Come then, scan carefully the argument on this subject which now encounters us.

'Only state it.

'Do we discern in the constitution of the world the elements belonging to the nature of the bodies of all living things, fire and water and air and "land," as the storm-tossed sailors say?

'Certainly. For we are verily tossed by storms of perplexity in our present discussions.

'Well then, concerning each of the elements existing in us, take a statement of this kind.


'That each of these as existing in us is small, and weak, and in no respect at all pure, and without a power worthy of its nature: and having admitted this in one, conceive the same of all. As for instance there is fire, I suppose, in us, and fire in the universe.

'Of course.

'Is not then the part that is in us small and weak, and mean, but that which is in the universe wonderful both in quantity and beauty, and in every kind of power that belongs to fire?

'What you say is very true.

'Again, is the fire of the universe generated and fed and ruled by this fire that is in us, or on the contrary is it from that fire that mine and yours and that of all other animals receives all these services?

'This question does not even require an answer.

'Quite right. You will say the same then, I suppose, concerning the earth that is here in the animals and that which is in the universe; and so of all the other elements about which I asked just now you will give this same answer.

'Yes, for who would ever be thought to be in his right mind, if he answered otherwise?

'No one probably. But now follow the next point. For when we saw all these elements now mentioned combined in one, did we not call it a body?

'Of course.

'Assume the same then in regard also to this which we call the world: for because of the same process it must be a body, being composed out of the same elements.

'What you say is very right.

'Is then our body nourished wholly from this body, or does this receive from ours its nourishment and all the further services which we just now mentioned in reference to them?

'This is another question, Socrates, not worth asking.

'But what of the following? Is it worth asking? Or what will you say?

'Say what it is.

'Shall we not say that this body of ours has a soul?

'Of course we shall say so.

'Whence, my dear Protarchus, did it get a soul, unless indeed the body of the universe had a soul, inasmuch as it has all things the same as our body, and in every way more beautiful?

'Evidently from no other source, Socrates.

'For surely we do not think, O Protarchus, that those four classes, the finite, the infinite, their compound, and cause which exists as a fourth class in all things,----that this, which in our bodies supplies a soul, and endows it with the art of exercising the body and healing it when it has fallen ill, and makes various arrangements and remedies in various parts, is to be called entire and complete wisdom; but that, though these same elements exist in the heaven as a whole, and in its great divisions, in more beauty and purity, it has not contrived to create in these the nature of all that is most beautiful and noble.

'Nay, this would be in every way unreasonable.

'If then this is denied, would it not be better for us, with that other argument as our guide, to say, that, as we have often said, there is in the world a vast infinity and an efficient limit, and over them a cause of no little power, ordering and arranging years, and seasons, and months, which cause is most justly called wisdom and mind?

'Most justly indeed.

'Wisdom however and mind could never exist without soul.

'No indeed.

'Will you not say then that through the power of the cause there is implanted in the nature of Zeus a kingly soul and a kingly mind: and in other gods other noble qualities, according to the names by which they like each to be called?'


[PLATO] 143 'To the man who believes that there are gods, but that they take no heed of human affairs, we must speak words of encouragement. O best of men, let us say, your believing in gods is perhaps due to some divine affinity that draws you towards your kindred, to honour and believe in them. But the fortunes of evil and unjust men both in private and in public life, though not really happy, yet being in the opinions of men vehemently but unduly commended as happy, and wrongfully celebrated both in poetry and in literature of every kind, tend to draw you towards impiety.

'Or perhaps from seeing unrighteous men at last reach old age, and leave behind them children's children in the greatest dignities, you are now disturbed, when, after seeing them in all these conditions or after hearing or having been yourself an actual eye-witness of some of them, when many terrible impieties were committed, you see them in consequence of these very deeds attain from small beginnings to despotic powers and highest dignities: then it is evident that because of all such things, though you would riot like to blame the gods as the causes of them, because they are your kindred, yet being at the same time led astray by false reasoning and unable to be angry with the gods, you have come to this your present condition of thinking that, though they exist, they despise and disregard the affairs of men.

'In order therefore that your present doctrine may not grow into a stronger tendency towards impiety, but that, if it be at all possible, we may be enabled to avert its progress by arguments, let us add the sequel to the argument by which at the outset we reached our conclusion against the man who did not believe in gods at all, and try now to make further use of it. And do you, O Cleinias, and you, Megillus, take turns in answering for the young man, as before. And if any difficult point arise in the arguments, I will take it from you, and carry you across the river, as I did just now.

'You speak well: and if you do this, we to the best of our ability will do as you say.

'But probably it will not be difficult to prove at least this, that the gods are not less careful over small matters than over those of great importance. For he was present, I suppose, and heard what we were saying just now, that being endowed with every virtue they hold the care of all things as their own peculiar right.

'Yes, and he listened attentively.

'Let us then examine the next point together, namely what virtue we ascribe to them, when we agree that they are good. Do we say, pray, that prudence and the possession of mind is proper to virtue, and the contrary to vice?

'We do say so.

'Again? That manliness is part of virtue, and cowardice of vice?

'Yes, certainly.

'Shall we also say that of these qualities one class is disgraceful, and the other honourable?

'We must.

'And of these shall we say that all the bad belong, if so be, to us, but the gods have no part either great or small in such qualities?

'This also every one must admit.

'Again? Shall we class carelessness, and idleness, and luxury as a virtue of the soul? How say you?

'How could we?

'Well then on the opposite side?


'The contraries to these therefore we must set on the other side?

'Yes, on the other side.

'What then? Luxurious, and careless, and idle, every one of this character would be in our opinion a man whom the poet declared to be most like to stingless drones?144

'Most truly the poet spake.

'We must not say then that god is of a character such as this, which he himself hates: nor if any one attempts to utter anything of this kind must it be allowed.

'Surely not. How could it be allowed?

'If then it is a man's especial duty to manage and attend to some work, but he attends to the great and neglects the small parts of this kind of work, on what principle can we praise such a man without going altogether wrong? Let us, however, look at it thus. Does not he who acts in this way, whether god or man, act on one of two principles?

'What two principles?

'Either as thinking that it is of no consequence to the whole, if the small matters are neglected, or from slothfulness and luxury, if it is of consequence and he neglects them. Is there any other way in which negligence occurs? For of course, when it is impossible to attend to all, there will then be no negligence on the part of one who fails to attend to any matters either small or great, to which a god or any inferior person deficient in power may be unable to attend.

'Of course not.

'Now then to answer us three there are two, who both admit that gods exist, though one says that they may be appeased by prayer, and the other that they are careless of small matters. In the first place you both say that gods know and see and hear all things, and that of all the objects of sensation or knowledge nothing can possibly escape their notice. Do you say this is so, or how?

'It is so.

'Well, again? Can they do all things which are possible for mortals and immortals?

'How can they refuse to admit that this also is true?

'Moreover we have agreed, all five of us, that they are not only good but as good as possible.

'Yes, certainly.

'Is it not impossible then to admit that they do anything whatever from indolence and luxury, if they are such as we say? For in us idleness is the offspring of cowardice, and carelessness of idleness and luxury.

'You speak most truly.

'No god then is ever negligent from idleness and carelessness, for of course there is no cowardice in him.

'Most true.

'If then they neglect the small and trifling concerns of the universe, the alternative is that they must do this, either from knowing that there is no need to attend to any such things at all; or----what is the remaining alternative except that they know the contrary?

'There is none.

'Are we then to suppose, O excellent and best of men, that you mean to say that they are ignorant and, though they ought to attend, are negligent from ignorance, or that they know they ought, just as the worst of men are said to do, when they know that it would be better to do differently from what they really do, and do it not, because of some yielding to pleasures or pain?

'How is it possible?

'Do not then human affairs partake of the nature endowed with soul, and is not man himself of all animals the most religious?

'It seems so indeed.

'We say, however, that all mortal animals are the "possessions of the gods," to whom also the whole heaven belongs. 'Of course.

'Now therefore any one may say that these things are either small or great to the gods; for in neither case can it become our owners to neglect us, being, as they are, most careful and benevolent. Besides this let us consider the following point also.

'What point?

'About sensation and power. Are they not naturally opposed to each other in regard to ease and difficulty?

'How do you mean?

'It is surely more difficult to see and to hear the small than the great; but on the other hand it is easier for any one to carry, and hold, and take care of the small and light, than the opposites.

'Very much more.

'If then a physician who is willing and able to cure a whole body committed to his charge, attend to the great but neglect the small parts, will the whole do well with him?

'By no means.

'No, nor yet with pilots, nor generals, nor stewards, nor statesmen, nor any such officials, would the many or the great things do well apart from the few or small. For as the stonemasons say, the large stones do not lie well without the small.

'How could they?

'Let us therefore never think that God is inferior to mortal workmen, who, the better they are themselves, finish their proper works the more exactly and perfectly, both small and great with the same skill; but that God, most wise as He is, and both willing and able to care for all, takes no care at all for those which it is easier to care for, as being small, but only of the great, just like some idle or cowardly workman giving up work because of the labour.

'By no means, O Stranger, let us admit such a thought as this concerning gods: for our thought in that case would be by no means either pious or true.

'It seems to me that we have now at last had quite sufficient discussion with the censorious young man about the negligence of gods.


'In forcing him at least by our arguments to confess that he was wrong in what he said. I think, however, that he is still in need of some consoling words.

'Of what nature, my good friend?

'Let us persuade the young man by our arguments, that all things have been arranged by the guardian of the universe with a view to the safety and excellence of the whole, and that each part thereof does and suffers its proper share according to its power. And for each of these parts there are rulers appointed over the very smallest portion of action and suffering, by whom perfection is wrought out even to the minutest subdivision.

'And as one of these thy own portion, O bold man, small indeed though it is, ever looks and tends towards the whole. But of this very fact thou art ignorant, that all creation takes place for the sake of that whole, in order that the life of the universe may have a constant supply of happy being, created not for thy sake, but thou for the sake of that whole. For every physician and every skilful workman makes every thing for the sake of all, aiming at that which is most for the common good: each part he makes for the sake of a whole, and not a whole for the sake of a part.

'But thou art discontented, because thou knowest not in what way that which is best for thee is expedient both for the whole and for thyself, as far as the law of your common origin admits. But since a soul combined now with one body, and now with another, is always undergoing changes of all kinds, either of itself or through some other soul, nothing is left for the player to do but to shift the pieces, moving the disposition that is growing better into a more favourable place, and that which is growing worse into the worse place, in order that each may obtain the lot appropriate to its destiny.

'How do you mean?

'I think I am explaining it in the way in which it would naturally be easy for the gods to take care of all. For if one were to form and to refashion all things without constantly looking to the whole, as for instance to make living water out of fire, instead of so forming many things out of one, or one out of many, that they partook of a first, or second, or third birth, the contents of the ever-changing arrangement would be infinite in multitude. But now there is wonderful facility for the guardian of the universe.

'How do you mean again?

'In this way. Our King saw that all actions were full of life, and that there was much virtue in them and much vice, and that soul and body had become indestructible, but not eternal, like those who are gods according to law; for if either of these two, soul and body, had perished, there would never have been any generation of living beings; he also discerned that it was the constant nature, of one part, the good in the soul, to be beneficial, and of the evil part to do harm; and when He considered all this, He contrived the place of each part so that it would render virtue victorious in the whole being, and vice overpowered, in the fullest and easiest and best manner.

'With a view then to all this, He has arranged what quality each must be constantly acquiring, and what seat and what regions it must inhabit in its transmutations: but the causes of the production of a certain quality He left to the will of each of us. For every one of us becomes for the most part such at each time as is the tendency of his desires and the quality of his soul.

'Naturally so.

'All things therefore which are endowed with a soul are liable to change, as possessing the cause of change in themselves; and in changing they follow the order and law of destiny. If they make only slight changes of moral character, their changes of place are less and on the level surface of their country; but those which make more and worse changes of character are cast down into the abyss, and the so-called infernal regions, all which under the name of Hades and other similar names men greatly dread and dream about, both in life and after they are separated from their bodies. Whenever therefore a soul undergoes great changes of vice or virtue, through her own will and the strong influence of association, if in the one case from communion with divine virtue she becomes eminently virtuous, she passes into an excellent and all-holy place, being carried away to some other and better region than this; but in the contrary case, she transfers her life to places of the opposite kind.

' "Such the just doom the Olympian gods decree," for you, O boy, or youth, who think the gods care nothing for you; namely, that if you are growing worse you must pass on to the worse souls, and if better to the better, and both in life and in every successive death must do and suffer what it is fitting for like to do to like.

'Neither shall you nor any other ever boast of having got the better of the gods by escaping this doom, which is the most strictly ordained of all dooms by those who ordained it, and of which you must most carefully beware: for it will never lose sight of you. Neither will you be so little as to sink into the depth of the earth, nor so high as to fly tip into heaven; but you shall pay the fitting penalty, whether while abiding here, or after you have passed into Hades, or been carried away into some yet more savage place than these.

'You must also take the same account of those others, those, I mean, whom you saw grown from small to great by unholy deeds or any such practices, and supposed that they had passed from misery to happiness, and thought that in their deeds, as in. a mirror, you had seen the universal carelessness of the gods, not knowing in what way their share contributes to the whole. But think you, O boldest of men, that it is of no importance to know this, without knowing which a man can never have an idea of life nor be able to join in a discussion thereon, in regard to a happy or unhappy lot.

'If you can be persuaded of this by Cleinias here, and by all this our company of reverend seniors, that you know not what you say about the gods, God Himself will give you good help: but if you should be in need of any further argument, listen to what we say to the third opponent, if you have any sense at all.'

The meaning of this, if not the actual words, has been previously set down very briefly in the oracles of the Hebrews, the thought being comprised in few words. For the sentence, 'You will neither be so little as to sink into the depth of the earth, nor so high as to fly up into heaven,' must be similar to the passage in David, which runs thus:145 'Whither shall I go from Thy spirit, and whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I go up into heaven, Thou art there. If I go down into Hades, Thou art there.

'If I should take wings, and abide in the utmost parts of the sea; there also shall Thy hand lead me.' Also this: 'The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handy-work.'146 And again, this in Isaiah: 'Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who shewed all these things.'147 Also this: 'From the greatness and beauty of created things in like proportion is their first maker beheld.'148 And this: 'For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead.'149 Also this, 'I was envious at the wicked, when I saw the prosperity of sinners,'150 seems to me to have been paraphrased by Plato in the passage, 'You must also take the same account of those others, those, I mean, whom you saw grown from small to great by unholy deeds, or any such practices, and supposed that they had passed from misery to happiness.'

Also all the other passages expressed like these in the words of the Hebrews anticipated the interpretation put forth at length by Plato. And so you will find, by carefully examining each of them point by point, that it agrees with the Hebrew writings. And by doctrines of the Hebrews I mean not only the oracles of Moses, but also those of all the other godly men after Moses, whether prophets or apostles of our Saviour, whose consent in doctrines must fairly render them worthy of one and the same title.

[Footnotes moved to end and numbered]

1. 573 c 1 Plato, Laws, i. 634 D

2. d 5 Isa. vii. 9

3. d 7 Ps. cxv. i

4. 574 b 1 Plato, Laws, i. 629 E

5. c 2 Theognis, Elegiac Gnomes, v. 77 f.

6. c 10 Tyrtaeus, i. 16

7. 575 a 2 Matt. xxiv. 45

8. a 3 ibid. xxv. 21

9. b 1 Plato, Laws, xi. 926 E 

10. c 8 2 Macc. xv. 12

11. d 3 Plato, Republic, ii. 376 E

12. 676 b 1 Plato, Republic, ii. 377 B

13. 577 b 1 Plato, Gorgias, 523 A

14. c 5 ibid. 524 A

15. 578 d 11 Plato, Gorgias, 471 A

16. 579 a 5 Hom. Od. xi. 575 ff.

17. d 10 Hom. Od. xi. 569

18. 580 d 2 2 Cor. v, 10

19. d 6 Rom. ii. 16, 6

20. d 13 ibid. iii. 22

21. 581 a 1 Plato, Epistles, ii. 313 E

22. b 4 Matt. vii. 6

23. b 5 1 Cor, ii. 14

24. c 1 Plato, Laws, iii. 689 B

25. 582 b 3 Plato, Statesman, 261 E

26. 582 c 3 Exod. iv. 13

27. d 1 Plato, Republic, i. 346

28. 583 b 4 ibid, ii. 361 B

29. b 5 Aeschylus, Seven against Thebes, 577

30. d 10 Heb. xi. 37

31. 584 a 5 i Cor. iv. 9

32. a 6 ibid. 11

33. 585 a 1 Plato, Symposium, 203

34. b 2 Gen. ii. 20-22

35. c 8 Plato, Symposium, 189 D

36. d 9 ibid. 190 D

37. 586 b 3 Plato, Statesman, 271 E

38. d 1 Gen. iii. 1

39. d 6 Plato, Statesman, 272B

40. 587 d 1 Plato, Laws, 677 A

41. 588 a 10 Plato, Laws, 677 E

42. 589 a 2 Plato, Laws, 631 A

43. 589 d 10 Plato, Laws, 632 C

44. 590 a 7 Matt. vi. 33

45. c 1 Plato, Laws, 643 B

46. 591 a 1 Deut. vi. 6.

47. b 1 Plato, Laws, 643 D

48. 591 d 12 Plato, Laws, ii. 653 B

49. 592 b 6 Ps. xxxiv. 11, 12

50. 592 c 2 Prov. iv. 1

51. c 5 ibid. iv. 5

52. c 6 ibid. vii. 4

53. c 7 ibid. iv. 14 

54.  d 1 Exod. xv. 40

55. d 3 Heb. viii. 5

56. 693 a 6 Plato, Republic, 500 C

57. 593 d 7 Hom. Il. i. 131, iii. 16

58. 594 a 1 Plato, Laws, 659 C

59. d 8 Plato, Laws, 660 E

60. 595 a 3 Tyrtaeus, i. 6

61. a 6 ibid. i. 1

62. a 9 ibid. i. 12

63. a 11 ibid. i. 11

64. a 12 ibid. i. 4

65. 596 a 1 Ps. i. 1

66. a 7 Ps. lxii. 10

67. a 8 Ps. xlix. 16

68. b 3 Plato, Laws, 657 A

69. d 3 ibid. 658 E

70. 597 d 1 Plato, Laws, 671 A

71. 598 c 1 Plato, Laws, 673 E

72. 599 b 4 Lev. x. 8

73. b 9 Num. vi. 2, 3

74. c 4 Prov. xxxi. 4

75. c 8 I Tim. v. 23

76. d 1 Plato, Republic, 499 C

77. 600 b 1 Plato, Laws, 626 D

78. c 9 ibid. 644 C

79. d 9 ibid. 644 E

80. 601 c 1 Rom. vii. 22

81. c 3 ibid. ii. 15

82. d 1 Plato, Laws, 896 C

83. 602 a 7 Lev. vi. 2, 4

84. b 2 Lam. iii. 27, 28

85. c 1 Heb. xi. 38

86. c 7 Plato, Theaetetus, 173 C

87. 602 d 14 Pindar, Fragment, 123 (226)

88. 606 d 2 i Cor. iii. 19

89. d 3 ibid. i. 19, 20

90. d 9 2 Cor. iv. 18

91. 607 a 3 Eph. v. 16

92. a 4 Matt. vi. 34

93. a 5 Hos. iv. 2

94. a 8 Deut. x. 20

95. b 2 Lev. xi. 45

96. b 5 Ps. xi. 7

97. b 6 Ps. lxii. 10

98. b 7 Ps. xlix. 16

99. c a Ps. cxlvi. 3

100. d 1 Plato, Laws, 663 D

101. 608 b 1 ibid. 665 B

102. 608 c 6 Plato, Republic, 455 C

103. 609 c 1 Plato, Laws, 639 A

104. 610 a 1 Prov. x. 7

105. a 3 Ecclus. xi. 28

106. b 3 Plato, Laws, 801 E

107. e 2 Prov. xxx. 8

108. c 5 Plato, Rep. 421 E

109. d 7 Lev. xix. 3

110. d 8 Exod. xx. 12

111. 611 a 1 Plato, Laws, 931 E

112. a 5 ibid. 879 C

113. b 2 Exod. xxi. 2; Deut. xv. 12

114. b 6 Plato, Republic, 469 C

115. c 1 Plato, Laws, 842 E

116. d 1 ibid. 843 C

117. 611 d 5 Plato, Laws, 856 C

118. 612 a 3 Exod. xxii. 1,4

119. b 2 Plato, Laws, 857 A

120. c 1 Exod. xxii. 2

121. c 4 Plato, Laws, 874 B

122. d 1 Plato, Laws, 873 D

123. d 8 Exod. xxi. 28

124. 613 a 4 Ezek. xxii. 18 

125.  b 8 Plato, Republic, 415 A

126. 614 a 4 Ezek. xxxiv. 2

127. b 5 John x. 11

128. c 2 Plato, Republic, 345 C

129. 615 a 1 Isa. xxvi. 18

130. 35 Plato, Theaetetus, 151 A

131. b 2 Ezek. i. 3, 5 

132.  c 5 Plato, Republic, 588 B

133. 616 d 5 Plato, Laws, 760 B

134. d 10 ibid. 755 D

135. 617 b 6 ibid. 704 B

136. 618 c 1 Plato, Republic, X. 595 B

137. d 12 ibid. 599 B

138. 621 a 1 Plato, Laws, 888 E

139. 622 c 3 Plato, Laws, 891 C

140. 622 d 11 Plato, Laws, 892 A

141. 624 a 1 Plato, Laws, 895 A

142. 628 b 4 Plato, Philebus, 28 C

143. 630 c 1 Plato, Laws, 899 D

144. 631 d 8 Hesiod, Works and Days, 303

145. 636 b 4 Ps. cxxxix. 7

146. b 8 Ps. xix. 1

147. c 2 Is. xl. 26

148. c 4 Wisdom xiii. 5

149. c 5 Rom. i. 20

150. c 8 Ps. lxxiii. 3

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Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts