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THE CHARACTER OF SOCRATES.
ANCIENT writers speak of the character of Socrates in
terms of the greatest respect. There are, however, A. The
some exceptions, quite apart from the prejudice greatness of the cha- occasioned by his condemnation, which no doubt racter of survived some time after his death. Followers of
Epicurus indulged their love of slander even at his expense,' and one voice from the Peripatetic School has scandalous stories to tell respecting his life: as a boy he was disobedient and refractory; as a youth, profligate; as a man, coarse, importunate, given to sudden bursts of anger, and of fiery passions. But
i Cicero de N. D. i. 34, says και οπότε κρατηθείη τω πάθει διά that his teacher, the Epicurean πάσης άσχημοσύνης εβάδιζενZeno, called him an Attic buf- Synesius (Enc. Galv. 81) will foon. Epicurus, however, ac- have this limited to his younger cording to Diog. x. 8, appears years; that of Cyril. c. Jul. vi. to have spared him, although 185, C.; Theod. Cur. Gr. Aff. he depreciated every other xii., 63, p. 174 : ÖTE 8è Prexoeln philosopher.
υπό του πάθους τούτου δεινών 2 The source from which these είναι την άσχημοσύνην ουδενός unfavourable reports, collected γαρ ούτε ονόματος αποσχέσθαι by Lnzac, come is Aristoxenus, OÚTe apdymaros ; and another of Lect. Att. 246 (from whom we Cyril. 186, C. Theod. 1. c.) that have already heard similar Socrates was in other ways things, p. 58, note; 61, 3; 64, temperate, após dè Thy Tôv 5). From this writer come αφροδισίων χρήσιν σφοδρότερον the following statements; that μεν είναι, αδικίαν δε μη προσεϊναι, mentioned in Porphyry : ώς ή γάρ ταϊς γαμεταϊς ή ταϊς κοιναΐς φύσει γεγόνοι τραχύς εις οργήν, χρήσθαι μόναις, and then after
the stories we have of this kind are so improbable, and the chief relater is so untrustworthy,' that we cannot even with certainty infer that Socrates only became what he was after a severe struggle with his
the history of his bigamy he to illustrate the power of reaconcludes : είναι δέ φησιν αυτόν son over a defective natural εν ταις ομιλίαις αινώς τε φιλ. disposition, as illustrated in απεχθήμονα και λοιδορον και υβρισ. Plato, Symp. 215, 221, Β. If Tikóv. From the same source, the story was current in the as may be gathered from Plut. time of Aristoxenus, he may Mal. Her. c. 9, p. 856, comes
have used it for his picture; the charge which Theod. 1. c. but it is also possible that his I. 29, p. 8 quotes from Porphyry, description produced the story, without naming Aristoxenus, which in this case would have είναι δε αυτόν προς ουδέν μέν an apologetic meaning. The αφυή, απαίδευτον δε περί πάντα, name of Zopyrus would lead us so that he was hardly able to to think of the Syrian magi. read, besides what follows cian, who, according to Aris(Ibid. xii. 66, p. 174 ; conf. iv. totle in Diog. ii. 45, had 2, p. 56): έλεγιτο δε περί αυτού foretold the violent death of ως άρα παίς ων ουκ ει βιώσειεν ουδέ Socrates. . ευτάκτως: πρώτον μεν γάρ φασιν 1 As may be already seen αυτόν το πατρι διατελέσαι, απει- from the stories respecting the θούντα και οπότε κελεύσειεν αυτόν bigamy, the gross ignorance, λαβόντα τα όργανα τα περί την the violent temper, and the τέχνης απαντάν οπουδήποτε ολι- sensual indulgences of Soγωρήσαντα του προστάγματος crates. περιτρέχειν αυτόν οπουδήποτε ? As Hermann does, De Socr. δόξειεν ήν δε και των Mag. 30. επιτιμωμένων και τάδε Σωκράτει 3 Though this is in itself ότι εις τους όχλους εισωθείτο και possible, we have no certain τας διατριβής εποιείτο προς ταϊς authority for such an assertion. . τραπέζαις και προς ταϊς Έρμαϊs. The anecdote of Zopyrus is, Herewith is connected the as already remarked, very unstory of the physiognomist certain, and where is the warZopyrus. (Cic. Tusc. vi. 37, rant that Aristoxenus followed 83 ; De Fat. iv. 10; Alex. Aph. a really credible tradition ? De Fato, vi., Pers. Sat. IV. 24 He refers, it is true, to his Conf.; Max. Tyr. xxxi. 3), who father Spintharus, an actual declared Socrates to be stupid acquaintance of Socrates. But and profligate, and received the question arises whether from him the answer, that by this statement is more trustnature he had been so, but had worthy than the rest. The been changed by reason. This chronology is against it, and account can hardly be true. It still
so is the sublooks as if it had been devised Stance of what Spintharus
natural disposition. Our best authorities only know him as the perfect man, to whom they look up with respect, and whom they regard as the exemplar of humanity and morality. “No one,' says Xenophon, ever heard or saw anything wicked in Socrates; so pious was he that he never did anything without first consulting the Gods ; so just that he never injured any one in the least; so master of himself that he never preferred pleasure to goodness; so sensible that he never erred in his choice between what was better and what was worse. In a word, he was of men the best and happiest.'!
He further represents Socrates as a pattern of hardiness, of self-denial, of self-mastery; as a man
says. It may also be asked sions and inferences. His whether Spintharus spoke the overdrawn imagination makes truth, when he professed to Socrates as a boy dissatisfied have witnessed outbursts of with his father's business, and anger in Socrates, who must as a man pass his life in the then have been in the last streets. In the same way he years of his life.
Certainly finds that Socrates must have we have no more
to been a man without culture, believe him than his because of expressions such as Lastly, Aristoxenus does not that in the Apology, 17, B., or confine his remarks to the that in the Symp. 221, E.; 199, youth of Socrates, but they A.; violent in temper, in supare of a most general character, port of which he refers to or refer distinctly to his later Symp. 214, D. ; and dissolute years. Luzac, l. c. 261, would because of his supposed bigamy, appear to have hit the truth and the words in Xen. Mem. i. when he makes Aristoxenus 3, 14; ii. 2, 4, and p. 51, 2. responsible for all these state- 1 Mem. i. 1, 11; iv. 8, 11. ments. For Aristoxenus ap- R. Lange's objections to the pears not only to have carried genuineness of the concluding his warfare with the Socratic chapters of the Memorabilia Schools against the person of (iv. 8) (De Xenoph. Apol. Berl. Socrates, but also to have in- 1873) do not appear sufficiently dulged in the most capricious strong to preclude their being and unfounded misapprehen- cited as an authority,
of piety and love for his country, of unbending fidelity to his convictions, as a sensible and trustworthy adviser both for the bodies and souls of his friends; as an agreeable and affable companion, with a happy combination of cheerfulness and seriousness; above all, as an untiring educator of character, embracing every opportunity of bringing all with whom he came into contact to self-knowledge and virtue, and especially opposing the conceit and thoughtlessness of youth.
Plato says the same of him. He too calls his teacher the best, the most sensible, and the most just man of his age, and never tires of praising his simplicity, his moderation, his control over the wants and desires of the senses ; imbued with the deepest religious feeling in all his doings, devoting his whole life to the service of the Gods, and dying a martyr's death because of his obedience to the divine voice; and like Xenophon, he describes this service as the exercise of a universal moral influence on others, and particularly on youth. In his picture, too, the more serious side in the character of Socrates is relieved by a real kindness, an Athenian polish, a sparkling cheerfulness and a pleasing humour. Of his social virtues and his political courage Plato speaks in the same terms as Xenophon, and adds thereto an admirable description of Socrates on military service.? Every trait which he mentions adds to the clearness of that picture of moral greatness, so wonderful for
1 See the end of the Phædo.
2 See page 66, note 2.
CHAP. its very originality, for the absence of all that is IV.
studied and artificial about it, for its exclusion of
self-glorification and affectation, B. His Owing to its being a native growth, the Socratic character reflecting type of virtue bears, throughout, the peculiar impress Greek pe- of the Greek mind. Socrates is not the insipid ideal culiarities.
of virtue, which a superficial rationalism would make of him, but he is a thorough Greek and Athenian, taken, as it were, from the very marrow of his nation, possessed of flesh and blood, and not merely the universal moral standard for all time. His much-lauded moderation is free from the ascetic element, which it seems always to suggest in modern times. Socrates enjoys good company, although he avoids noisy carousals; ? and if he does not make the pleasures of the senses an object in life, no more does he avoid them, when they are offered to him, nay, not even when in excess. Thus the call for small cups in Xenophon’s banquet is not made for fear of indulging
| Most of the traits and Adulat. 32, p. 70; Coh. Ira, 4, anecdotes recorded by later p. 455; Tranqu. An. 10, p. 471; writers are in harmony with Garrulit. 20; Diog. ii. 21, 24, this view of Socrates. Some 27, 30; vi. 8; Gell. N. A. ii. 1; of them are certainly fictions. xix. 9, 9; Val. Max. viii. 8; Others may be taken from wri. Ælian, V. H. i. 16; ii. 11, 13, tings of pupils of Socrates, 36; iii. 28; ix. 7, 29; xii. 15; which have been since lost, or xiii. 27, 32; Athen. iv. 157 c. ; from other trustworthy sources. Stob. Flor. 17, 17 and 22. They may be found in the fol- Basil. De leg. Græc. libr. Op. lowing places. Cic. Tusc. iii. II. 179, a. Themist. Orat. vii. 15, 31; Off. i. 26 and 90; 95, a. Simpl. in Epict. Enchir. Seneca, De Const. 18, 5; De C., 20, p. 218. A few others Ira, i. 15, 3; iii. 11, 2; ii. 7, 1; have been or will be referred Tranqu. An. 5, 2; 17, 4; Epist. to. 104, 27; Plin. H. Nat. vii. 18; 2 Plato, Symp. 220, A.; conf. Plut. Educ. Pu. 14, p. 10; De 174, A.