Page images


true friends, he says, will do everything for one another. Virtue and active benevolence are the only means for securing friends. From this platform the prevailing custom is then criticised. Socrates not only allows friendship to assume the Greek form of affection for boys and men, but he adopts that form of it himself, hardly only out of mere deference to others. In applying, however, his own moral principles to this relation, he opposes the prevailing errors, and demands a reformation, in order that the sensual conception of Eros may be transformed into the moral conception of Friendship. True love, he declares, can only then be said to exist when the good of the loved object is sought disinterestedly; not when, with reckless selfishness, aims are pursued and means employed by which both persons become contemptible to one another. Only by an unselfish love can fidelity and constancy be secured. The plea that the complaisance of the one buys the kindly offices of another for its complete training is wholly a mistaken one; for immorality and immodesty can never be means to moral ends.4

It really seems that with these principles Socrates (3) Civil was enunciating to his cotemporaries a new truth, or

Life and the State,

i Similar explanations are 8; ii. 6, 31. worked into the Platonic Lysis, 3 Symp. 8, 27: ου γαρ οίόν τε but probably in too free a man- πονηρά αυτόν ποιούντα αγαθόν τον ner for us to be able to gain σύνοντα αποδείξαι, ουδέ γε αναιfrom them any information σχυντίαν και ακρασίαν παρεχόrespecting Socrates.

μενον εγκρατη και αιδούμενον τον 2 Xen. Symp. 8, 12, the lead- épájevov mocnoal. ing thought of which at least 4 See p. 75. is Socratic. Mem. i. 2, 29; 3,


at least recalling to their memories one long since forgotten. On the other hand, in his low estimate of marriage he agreed with his fellow-countrymen. This was no doubt partly the cause of the Greek affection for boys; partly, too, it was a consequence favoured thereby. Whilst assuming in women a moral disposition similar to that of men, whilst even maintaining with intellectual women an instructive interchange of opinions, he still speaks of married life in terms more in keeping with the husband of Xanthippe, than with the friend of Aspasia. He allows that a clever woman is as useful for the household as a man, and he reproaches men for not caring about the education of their wives, but he considers the procreation of children the end of marriage, and his own conduct shows little love for domestic life. 6His social and his personal instincts are satisfied by friendly intercourse with men; in their society be sees a means of fulfilling his peculiar mission as an educator of mankind; apart herefrom, with the peculiarity of a Greek, he considers the state, and not the family, to be the chief object of moral action.

! Conf. Plato, Symp. 178, C.; A., the character of Xanthippe 180, C. ; 217, E.

(which has no pretensions to 2 Conf. Plato, Symp. 192, A. great tenderness) be considered * See p. 145, 2.

the joking character of the 4 Xen. Ec. 3, 10; but the conversation in Xen. Symp. 2, question may be raised, in how 10, being thrown into the far the substance of these re- scale against the passages in marks applies to Socrates him- Plato, Apol. 34, D., the balance self. Symp. 2, 9.

of probability is, that Socrates 5 Mem. ii. 2, 4.

lived almost entirely in public, 6 If in addition to the trait and almost never at home. described by Plato, Phædo, 60,


Of the importance of the state, and the obligations towards the same, a very high notion indeed is entertained by Socrates : he who would live amongst men, he says, must live in a state, be it as a ruler or as ruled. He requires, therefore, the most unconditional obedience to the laws, to such an extent that the conception of justice is reduced to that of obedience to law, but he desires every competent man to take part in the administration of the state, the well-being of all individuals depending on the wellbeing of the community.3 These principles were really carried into practice by him throughout life. With devoted self-sacrifice his duties as a citizen were fulfilled, even death being endured in order that he might not violate the laws. Even his philosophic labours were regarded as the fulfilment of a duty to the state ; 5 and in Xenophon's Memorabilia we see him using every opportunity of impressing able people for political services, of deterring the incompetent, of awakening officials to a sense of their duties, and of giving them help in the administration of their offices. He himself expresses the political character of these efforts most tellingly, by including? all virtues under the conception of the ruling art.


i Mem. ii. 1, 12.

291, B., πολιτική stands for 2 See p. 148, 1.

βασιλική. 3 Mem. iii. 7, 9.

Accordingly the story told 4 See p. 76.

by Cicero, Tusc. v. 37, 108, and 5 See pp. 65, 7; 68, 2.

Plut. de Exil. c. 5, p. 600, 6 Mem. iii. 2-7.

Epict. Diss. i. 9, 1 (Conf. Mu1 βασιλική τέχνη in Mem. ii. son. in Stob. Floril. 40, 9), that 1, 17; iv. 2, 11. Plato, Euthyd. in answer to the question, to


Whilst thus doing homage to the old Greek view of the state, in other respects he deviates from it widely. If knowledge is the condition of all true virtue, it is also the condition of all political virtue; all the more so in proportion as the conception of political virtue is the higher one.

Hence everyone who aspires to the position of a statesman is required to prepare himself for this calling' by a thorough self-sifting and a course of intellectual labour; and conversely, Socrates only recognises capacity or right to political position where this condition is fulfilled. Neither the possession of power, nor the good fortune of acquiring it by lot or popular election, but only knowledge makes the ruler. As regards the rule of

what country he belonged, he is then illustrated by the exreplied that he was a citizen of ample of physicians, pilots, the world, cannot command and others. Similarly in Mem. credit, and the question itself iii. 5, 21; iv. 2, 2; iii. 1, 4; sounds strange as addressed to Ibid. 4, 6: λέγω έγωγε, ως ότου Socrates in Athens. In Plato's άν τις προστατεύη εάν γιγνώσκη Crito and Apol. 37, C., he uses τε ών δει και ταυτα πορίζεσθαι language very different from δύνηται, αγαθός αν είη προστάthe later cosmopolitan philoso- tns.

Similar views are advophers. Probably one of these cated by Plato with the same attributed to him the above illustrations, Polit. 297, D., story.

and they appear to have been Mem. iii. 6, particularly generally held in the school towards the end; iv. 2, 6; of Socrates. Accordingly the Plato, Symp. 216, A. See p. accuser Xen. Mem. i. 2, 9, 55, 6.

charges Socrates with having 2 Mem. iii. 9, 10 : Baoileîs dè contributed to bring existing και άρχοντας του τους τα σκήπτρα institutions into contempt : έχοντας έφη είναι, ουδε τους υπό λέγων ως μωρών εις τους μεν της των τυχόντων αιρεθέντας, ουδέ πόλεως άρχοντας από κυάμου καθτους κλήρω λαχόντας, ουδε τους ίστασθαι, κυβερνήτη δε μηδένα βιασαμένους, ουδε τους εξαπατή- θέλειν κεχρήσθαι κυαμευτώ μηδέ σαντας, ,

αλλά τους επισταμένους τέκτονι μηδ' αυλητή μηδ' επ' άλλα άρχειν: in all other cases obedi- τοιαύτα, and Xenophon does ence is given to men of pro- not deny the accuracy of this fessional knowledge ;-which statement, but only attempts


the majority, his judgment is, that it is impossible for a statesman desirous for right and justice to hold his own against it; hence, where it prevails, what else can an upright man do but withdraw to private life?

A political principle was here advocated, which brought Socrates not only into collision with the Athenian democracy, but with the whole political administration of Greece. In place of the equality of all, or the preference accorded to birth and wealth, he demanded an aristocracy of intelligence; in place of citizen-rulers, a race of intellectually educated officials; in place of a government of tribes and people, a government by professional adepts, which Plato, consistently developing the principles of Socrates, attempted to realise in his philosophic community. Socrates is here observed following in the track which the Sophists first struck out, being themselves the first to offer and to declare necessary a preparatory intellectual training for a statesman's career. Still what he aimed at was in point of substance very different from what they aimed at. For him the aim of politics was not the power of the individual, but the well-being of the community; the object of training was not to acquire personal dexterity, but to attain truth; the means of culture was not the art of persuasion, but the science of what really is. Socrates aimed at a knowledge by means of which the state might be reformed, the

to prove the harmlessness of such principles.

| Plato, Apol. 31, E.; conf. Rep. vi. 496, C.

« PreviousContinue »