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First Edition 1881. 
Reprinted 1885, 1889, 1895, 1904, 191? 




IONIC SCHOOL. One evcr-changitig self-developed universe. 
(Dynamical Physicism^.} 

B.C. 600 fl. Thales, p. 2. 

580 Anaximander, p. 3. 
520 Anaximenes, p. 4. 
510 Heraclitus, p. 4. 

ITALIC SCHOOL. One unchanging self-existent universe 
(Transcendental Physicism.) 

B.C. 530 fl. Pythagoras, p. 7. 
530 Xenophanes ) 

480 Parmenides > Eleatic school, pp. 14 16. 
460 Zeno of Elea ) 

1 Ritter in his History of Ancient Philosophy employs the terms 
Dynamical and Mechanical to distinguish the view which regards 
the universe as one great organism with an inherent power of move- 
ment and change, from that which regards it as a result of forces 
acting upon a number of independent elements. 


lONICO-lTALIC SCHOOL \ Changing Universe formed out of a 
plurality of unchanging elements. (Mechanical Phystcism.) 

B.C. 470 fl. Empedocles, p. 17. 
470 Anaxagoras, p. 19. 
[ 4 6o Diogenes of Apollonia, p. 19*.] 
430 Democritus, p. 20. 

SOPHISTS, pp. 25, 26. 

B.C. 450 fl. Protagoras. 
440 Gorgias, 
430 Hippias. 
430 Prodicus. 

B.C. 470 399, SOCRATES, p. 27. 

B.C. 440 355 Xenophon, p. 32. 

399 fl. Euclides of Megara, p. 35. 

CYNICS, pp. 3539- 

B.C. 380 fl. Antisthenes. 
360 Diogenes. 

CYRENAICS, pp. 39 41. 

B. C. 380 fl. Aristippus. 

- JHegesias. 
B.C. 428 347, PLATO (Academy), pp. 41 83. 

Abstract of the Republic, pp. 47 59. 
Remarks on Republic, pp. 59 67. 
Example of dialectic, pp. 67 73. 
Examples of exposition, pp. 74 80. 
Example of allegory, pp. 80 83. 

1 This is not a recognized title, but merely used here for the sake 
of convenience. 

3 Diogenes, as explained in the body of the work, is re-actionary, 
approaching more nearly to the earlier Ionic philosophers. 


8.0.385 322, ARISTOTLE (Lyceum], pp. 83 142. 

His writings, pp. 91 100. 

Abstract of Nicomac hean Ethics, pp. 100 n6. 

Remarks on same, pp. 126 130. 

Abstract of Politics, pp. 130 138. 

Contrast between moral and physical treatises, 

pp. 138140. 

History of his writings, pp. 140 142. 
Lost Dialogues, p. 142. 


B.C. 310 fl. Theophrastus. 
290 Strato. 

SCEPTICS, p. 146. 

B.C. 320 fl. Pyrrho. 
270 Timon. 

ACADEMY OLD, p. 147. 

B.C. 350 fl. Speusippus. 
340 Xenocrates. 

ACADEMY SCEPTICAL (by Cicero called 'New'). 
B.C. 315 241 ArcesilausJ 

214 129 CarneadesV pp. 147 150. 
130 fl. Clitomachus ) 
STOICISM, pp. 150 178. 

B.C. 280 fl. Zeno of Citium. 
260 Cleanthes. 
240 Chrysippus. 
Stoic Logic, p. 152. 

Physics, pp. 153155. 

Ethics, pp. 155 162. 

Theology, pp. 162 164. 
Comparison with Christianity, pp. 164 177. 
Hymn of Cleanthes, p. 177. 


EPICUREANISM, pp. 178205. 

B.C. 341 270 Epicurus, pp. 181 183. 

His aversion to science, pp. 183 186. 
Epicurean Logic, pp. 186 188. 

Physics, pp. 188 191. 
Atomic System, pp. 191 193. 
Theology, pp. 193 199. 

Ethics, pp. 199 203. 

Lucretius quoted, pp. 203 205. 

ECLECTICISM, pp. 205 to end. 

Philosophy in Rome, pp. 206 2 1 8. 
Eclectic Stoics, pp. 218, 219. 
B.C. 140 fl. Panaetius. 

too Posidonius. 
Eclectic Academics (Reformed or ' Old'' Academy], pp. 220 

B.C. too fl. Philo. 

80 Antiochus. 

Eclectic Epicureans and Peripatetics, p. 233. 
B.C. 106 43, CICERO, pp. 224 244. 

His character, pp. 224 226. 

Professedly a 'New' (i.e. Sceptical) Academic, 

p. 226. 

In reality a moderate Stoic, p. 227. 
in regard to Theology, p. 227. 
in regard to Ethics, p. 230. 

Surveyof his philosophical writings, pp. 231 237. 
Their value for the history of philosophy, pp. 


Their value as philosophy, pp. 243, 244. 
B.C. 60 fl. Varro, p. 245. 

60 Nigidius Figulus, p. 245. 
30 Sextius, p. 246. 



THE readers whom I have chiefly had in my mind, in 
writing the following sketch of Ancient Philosophy, are 
Undergraduates at the University or others who are 
commencing the study of the philosophical works of 
Cicero or Plato or Aristotle in the original language. It 
has been my wish to supply to them, what I remember 
vainly seeking when I was in their position, something 
which may help them to find their bearings in the new 
world into which they are plunged on first making 
acquaintance with such books as Cicero's De Finibus or 
the Republic of Plato. The only helps which I had in 
similar circumstances some thirty years ago were a trans- 
lation of Schleiermacher's Introduction to the Dialogues of 
Plato, of which I could make nothing, and Lewes' small 
Biographical History of Philosophy, of which the aim, as 
far as I could judge, was to show that, as philosophy was 
moonshine, it was mere waste of time to read what the 
philosophers had written. Things have changed since 
then. The noblest defence of ancient philosophy which 
has ever appeared, is contained in the chapters on the 


Sophists and Socrates written by one, who might have 
been supposed to be himself more or less a sympathizer 
with Lewes, and in the elaborate examination of the spe- 
culations of the Ancients contained in the same Author's 
Plato and Aristotle. During the same interval the charm 
and the wit and the irony of Plato have for the first time 
been made intelligible to English readers by Mr Jowett's 
admirable translations; and the excellent German his- 
tories of philosophy by Zeller, Ueberweg and Schwegler 
have been translated into English. None of these 
however, nor any others which might be named, seem to 
me exactly to meet the wants of the case. They are too 
long, too full, too hard, too abstract, or too vague, for a 
first sketch. What is wanted is something to combine 
conciseness with accuracy and clearness, something 
which will be easy and interesting to readers of ordinary 
intelligence, and will leave no doubt in their minds as to 
the author's meaning. It is for others to judge how far 
this object has been accomplished in the present book, 
which is the outcome of various courses of lectures 
delivered on the same subject during the last quarter 
of a century. 

But, though I write in the first instance for Classical 
scholars, and have therefore thought myself at liberty to 
quote the original Greek and Latin, wherever it seemed 
expedient to do so ; I am not without hopes that what I 
have written may be found interesting and useful by 
educated readers generally, not merely as an introduction 
to the formal history of philosophy, but as supplying a 


key to our present ways of thinking and judging in regard 
to matters of the highest importance. For Greece is 
in everything the starting-point of modern civilization. 
Homer is not more the fountain-head of Western poetry, 
than Socrates of Western philosophy. Allowing as much 
as we will to Semitic and Teutonic influences, it remains 
true that for Art and Science and Law, for the Philosophy 
of thought and of action, nay even for Theology itself, 
as far as the form is concerned, we are mainly indebted 
to Greece, and to Rome as the interpreter of Greece. 
Even that which we call 'common sense' consists of 
little more than the worn fragments of older systems of 
thought, just as the common soil of our gardens is com- 
posed, in great part, of the detritus of primeval rocks. 

As we trace backwards the march of civilization, we 
find extraordinary contrasts in the degrees of progress 
made in its different departments. In some departments, 
as for instance in the inductive sciences and in mechani- 
cal inventions, the early stages have only a historical 
value : in others, as in geometry, we still use text-books 
written two thousand years ago. So in the arts : while in 
sculpture we despair of approaching Greece, in music we 
have far surpassed her, and in poetry we may claim 
equality at least, if not superiority. How stands it with 
regard to philosophy? Here too we find the same 
variety. While the fanciful speculations of the ancients 
as to the constitution and laws of the external universe, 
have for the most part vanished away before the touch of 
reality, and given place to the solid edifice of modern 


physical science ; while the loose induction of Socrates 
and of Aristotle has been reduced in our own day into 
a definite system of Inductive Logic; while immense 
additions have thus been made to our knowledge of the 
external universe and of man as a part of the universe, 
that is, of the anatomy, the physiology and the habits of 
the human animal, there has been far less advance in the 
knowledge of man as a moral and intellectual being. 
Thus, Deductive Logic remains in its essentials the same 
as when it was first given to the world by Aristotle, and 
neither in Psychology nor in Ethics can it be said that 
the ancient systems have been finally superseded by any 
generally accepted system of modern times. No doubt 
many new facts have been observed and new explana- 
tions have been offered in reference to such subjects as 
comparative psychology, the association of ideas, the 
influence of heredity, the influence of nature on man, the 
laws of human progress, and so on. Above all, Chris- 
tianity has imparted a far deeper feeling of the complexity 
of life, a sense of moral responsibility, of man's weakness 
and sinfulness, and of the regenerating powers of faith 
and love, such as was never dreamt of by the ancients. 
And yet, in spite of all this, is there any modern work 
of systematic morality which could be compared with 
Aristotle's Ethics for its power of stimulating moral 
thought? Most moderns appear to write under the 
consciousness that they are uttering truisms ; or, if they 
escape from this, it is by running off from the main high- 
way of morality into by-paths of psychology or physiology 


or sociology. Again, they are hampered by the suspicion 
that whatever concerns moral practice is more impres- 
sively and effectively treated of by religion ; or else they 
consign, what, supposing it to be true, is the most im- 
portant part of morality, to the region of the unknown 
and unknowable. The ancient moralists knew no such 
restrictions. Aristotle's, and still more Plato's, theory of 
conduct was no stale repetition of other men's thoughts ; 
it was the full expression of their own highest aspirations 
and discoveries in regard to the duty, the hopes, and the 
destiny of man. And thus there is a freshness and a 
completeness about the ethics of the Ancients which we 
seek in vain in the Moderns. Even if it were otherwise, 
the comparison between pre-Christian and post-Christian 
systems of morality must always be full of interest 
and importance in reference to our view of Christianity 

One word more as to the general use of the history of 
philosophy. It was a saying of Democritus that a fool 
has to be taught everything by his own personal ex- 
perience, while a wise man draws lessons from the 
experience of others. History of whatever kind supplies 
us with the means of thus gaining experience by proxy, 
and in the history of philosophy above all we have the 
concentrated essence of all human experience. For the 
philosopher is, no more than the poet, an isolated pheno- 
menon. As the latter expresses the feeling, so the former 
expresses in its purest form the thought of his time, sum- 
ming up the past, interpreting the present, and fore- 


shadowing the future. We might be spared much of 
crudeness and violence and one-sidedness, if people were 
aware that what they hold to be the last result of modern 
enlightenment was perhaps the common-place of 2000 
years ago ; or, on the other hand, that doctrines or prac- 
tices which they regard as too sacred for examination are 
to be traced back, it may be, to a Pagan origin. It is 
possible to be provincial in regard to time as well as in 
regard to space ; and there is no more mischievous pro- 
vincialism than that of the man who accepts blindly the 
fashionable belief, or no-belief, of his particular time, with- 
out caring to inquire what were the ideas of the countless 
generations which preceded, or what are likely to be the 
ideas of the generations which will follow. However firm 
may be our persuasion of the Divinely guided progress of 
our race, the fact of a general forward movement in the 
stream of'history is not inconsistent with all sorts of eddies 
and retardations at particular points ; and before we can 
be sure that such points are not to be found in our own 
age, we must have some knowledge of the past develop- 
ment of thought, and have taken the trouble to compare 
our own ways of thinking and acting with those that have 
prevailed in other epochs of humanity. 

Had space permitted, I should have been glad to 
have followed the example set by Sir Alexander Grant in 
his Essays on Aristotle, and shown how the half-conscious 
morality of the Epic and Gnomic and Lyric poets, and 
of the early historians, provided the raw material which 
was afterwards worked up by the philosophers; and 


again how the results of philosophic thought became in 
their turn the common property of the educated class, 
and were transformed into household words by Euripides 
and the writers of the New Comedy, and still more by 
the Roman Satirists. But to do this would have swollen 
the volume to twice its present size, and perhaps it may 
suffice here to throw out a hint which any Classical 
scholar may put into practice for himself. 

In conclusion I have to return my best thanks to the 
friends who have helped me by looking over portions of 
my proof-sheets, especially to my colleague Prof. Warr, 
to whose suggestion indeed it is mainly owing that a 
part of the Introduction to my edition of Cicero's De 
Natura Deorum has thus been expanded into a separate 
work on the History of Ancient Philosophy. 

N.B. The references to Zeller are, except when otherwise 
stated, to the latest German edition, which is denoted by the small 
numeral following the number of the page. To the books recom- 
mended under Aristotle's Ethics, p. 100, add a new translation by 
Mr F. H. Peters, and the Essays V. and VI. contained in Crete's 
Fragments on Ethical Subjects. 

May 20, 1881. 

"OTAN r^p e9NH TA MH* NO'MON exoNTA 4>Ycei TA" 
eiciN NOMOC, ofriNec eNAeiKNYNTAi TO eproN TOY NOMOY 


S. PAUL, ad Rom. n. 14, 15. 


d Oedc r^p AYTO?C ec})ANepcoceN. TA r^p AdpATA 


Ibid. I. 19, 20. 

npdc eeoceBeiAN pNeTAi, nponAiAeiA TIC OYCA TO?C TK!N 

CLEM. AL. Strom, i. c. 5 28. 



GREEK philosophy had its origin not in the mother 
country, but in the colonies of Asia Minor and Magna 
Graecia. This is owing partly to the reflectiveness be- 
longing to a more advanced civilization, and partly to 
the fact that the colonists were brought in contact with 
the customs and ideas of foreign nations. The philoso- 

1 The following works will be found useful by the student 
They are arranged in what I consider to be their order of import- 
ance. Full references will be found in the two which stand at the 
head of the list and also in Ueberweg. 

Ritter and Preller, Historia Philosophic^ Graecae et Romanae ex 
fontium locis contexta (referred to as R. and P. below). 

Zeller, History of Greek Philosophy (in German. Translations 
of portions have been published by Longmans). 

Grote, History of Greece* together with his Plato and Aristotle. 
Grant, Ethics of Aristotle , Vol. I. ed. 3. 
Ueberweg, History of Philosophy, Vol. I. tr. by Morris. 
Schwegler, Hist, of Pkilcsofhy, tr. by Sterling. 
Dollinger, The Gentile and the Jew, translated by Darnell. 
A. Butler, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy. 

Mullach's Fragmenta Philosophorum in Didot's series ought 
to have been more useful than any of these, but its value is much 
lessened by the want of discrimination shown in the selection and 
arrangement of the writers quoted. 

M. P. i 


phers of the earliest, or Pre-Socratic period, are broadly 
divided into the Ionic and the Italic Schools. Both had 
the same object of interest, to ascertain the nature, the 
origin, the laws, the destiny of the visible world. But 
while the former, with the Ionic sensitiveness to all out- 
ward influences, dwelt more upon the material element it- 
self, and the life which manifested itself in its ever-chang- 
ing developments, the latter (who, if not themselves 
Dorian, were yet surrounded by Dorian settlers, with 
their Doric ideal of discipline, order, stability, superiority 
to sense, as opposed to the Ionic ideal of free growth, 
of ease, beauty and nature,) turned their thoughts more 
to the laws by which the world was governed, or the one 
unchanging substance which they believed to underlie its 
shifting phenomena. 

The first name in Greek philosophy is the so-called 
founder of the Ionic or physical school, Thales of Mile- 
tus, a contemporary of Solon (B.C. 640 550), said to be 
of Phenician descent. With him begins the transition 
from the mythological to the scientific interpretation of 
nature, the transition, as Grote puts it, from the question 
Who sends rain, or thunder, or earthquakes, and why 
does he send it ? to the question What are the antece- 
dent conditions of rain, thunder, or earthquakes? The 
old cosmogonies and theogonies suggested the idea of 
development under the form of a personal history of 
a number of supernatural beings variously related to each 
other. The first parent of all, according to Homer, was 
Oceanus (//. xiv. 201, 240), perhaps a nature-myth to be 
interpreted of the sun rising and setting in the sea. 
Thales stripped him of his personality, and laid down 
the proposition that water is the one original substance 


out of which all things are produced. Aristotle conjec- 
tures that he was led to this belief by observing that 
moisture is essential to animal and vegetable life : pro- 
bably it was also from the fact that water supplies the 
most obvious example of the transmutation of matter 
under its three forms, solid, fluid and gaseous. Thales 
further held that the universe is a living creature ; which 
he expressed by saying that 'all things are full of God,' 
and in agreement with this he is reported to have said 
that ' the magnet had a soul.' 

The second of the Ionic philosophers was Anaxi 
mander, also an inhabitant of Miletus (B.C. 610 540). 
He followed Thales in seeking for an original substance 
to which he gave the name of ap^i/, but he found this not 
in Water, but in the a-n-eipov, matter indeterminate (/. e, 
not yet developed into any one of the forms familiar to 
us) and infinite, which we may regard as bearing the 
same relation to Hesiod's primaeval Chaos, as Water did 
to the Homeric Oceanus. The elementary contraries, 
hot, cold, moist, dry, are separated from this first matter 
by virtue of the eternal movement belonging to it ; thus 
are produced the four elements; the earth was in the 
form of a cylinder, self-poised, in the centre of the uni- 
verse ; round it was air, and round that again a fiery 
sphere which was broken up so as to form the heavenly 
bodies. As all substances are produced out of the In- 
finite so they are resolved into it, thus ' atoning for their 
injustice" in arrogating to themselves a separate indi- 
vidual existence. The Infinite is divine, containing and 
directing all things: divine too are the innumerable 

1 Aidovcu yap avra rlcrif ical SiKrjv TTJS udiKtas. R. and P. 18. 

I 2 


worlds which it is ever generating and re-absorbing into 
its own bosom. 

After Anaximander conies Anaximenes, also of 
Miletus, who is supposed to have flourished about 520 
B.C. While his doctrine approaches in many respects to 
that of Anaximander, he nevertheless returned to the 
principle of Thales in so far that he assumed, as the 
dpxy, a definite substance, Air, in contradistinction to the 
indefinite airei.pov of his immediate predecessor. Air is 
infinite in extent and eternal in duration. It is in con- 
tinual motion, and produces all things out of itself by 
condensation and rarefaction, passing through successive 
stages from fire downwards to wind, cloud, water, earth 
and stone. As man's life is supported by breathing, so 
the universe subsists by the air which encompasses it. 
We are told that Anaximenes gave the name of God both 
to his first principle Air, and to certain of its products, 
probably the stars. 

The greatest of the Pre-Socratic philosophers, Hera- 
clitus of Ephesus, known among the ancients as the 
obscure and the weeping philosopher, was a little junior 
to Anaximenes. Following in the steps of his predecessor, 
he held that it was one and the self-same substance which 
by processes of condensation and rarefaction changed it- 
self into all the elements known by us, but he preferred 
to name this from its highest potency fire, rather than to 
stop at the intermediate stage of air. But the point of 
main interest with him was not the original substance, 
but the process, the everlasting movement upwards and 
downwards, fire (including air), water, earth; earth, water, 
fire. All death is birth into a new form, all birth the 
death of the previous form. There is properly no ex- 


istence but only 'becoming,' i.e. a continual passing 
from one existence into another. Each moment is the 
union of opposites, being and not-being: the life of the 
world is maintained by conflict, TroAe/^os irar-qp Travrwv. 
Every particle of matter is in continual movement. All 
things are in flux like the waters of a river. One thing 
alone is permanent, the universal law which reveals itself 
in this movement. This is Zeus, the all-pervading reason 
of the world. It is only the illusion of the senses which 
makes us fancy that there are such things as permanent 
substances. Fire exhibits most clearly the incessant 
movement and activity of the world : confined in the 
body it constitutes the human soul, in the universe at 
large it is God (the substance and the process being thus 

The fragmentary remains of Heraclitus abound in 
those pregnant oracular sayings for which he was so 
famous among the ancients. Such are the following, in 
which the law of man and the law of nature are connected 
with the Will and Word of God. Fr. 91 ', 'Understand- 
ing is common to all. When we speak with reason we 
must hold fast to that which is common, even as a city 
holds fast to the law, yea, and far more strongly: for all 
human laws are fed by one law, that of God, which pre- 
vails wherever it will, and suffices for all and surpasses V 
Fr. 100, 'The law is the rampart of the city 3 .' Fr. 92, 

1 I give the numbering of Mr Bywater's edition. 

8 fZvvbv (cm irdffi rb <ppovteu>- vv voifi \fyovrat Ia"xyplt<r6a.i x/"7 
rtf l-viXj) trdvTUv, 8K<iHrirep v6p<jj ir6\is icai TTO\I> lexvportpus. Tpf<f>ovrai 
y&p irdvTfs ol dvOplnrfioi vo/j.oi vtrd ef6j TOV Oflov Kpa/rtfi yap roffov- 
TCV OKOVOV f9t\fi KOJ. tap\tti Trout Kal irfpiyivfrai. 

fjuov inrtp TOV VO/J.QV OKW virt 


' Reason is common to all, but most live as though under- 
standing were their own 1 .' Fr. 29, 'The sun shall not 
overpass his measure, else the Erinyes, the ministers of 
justice, will find him out*.' Fr. 19, 'Wisdom consists 
in one thing, to know the mind by which all through all 
is guided*.' Fr. 65, 'One thing alone wisdom willeth and 
willeth not to be spoken, the name of Zeus 4 .' I add a 
few apophthegms of a more miscellaneous character. Fr. 
46, 'Out of discord proceeds the fairest harmony 5 .' Fr. 47, 
'The hidden harmony is better than that which is mani- 
fest 8 .' Fr. u, 'The king to whom belongs the shrine at 
Delphi neither publishes nor conceals but shadows forth 
the truth 7 .' Fr. 12, 'The Sibyl, uttering with frenzied 
mouth words unmirthful, unadorned, untricked, reaches 
with her voice through a thousand years by the help of 
God 8 .' Fr. 122, 'After death there await men such things 

1 ToO X6-you 5' ^6vTos wov, fwou<ri ol TroXXol us ISiy? ^xovres ippbvnaiv. 
* 'HXfos ot/x inrfpftriffeTai ^rpa.' el 8t H.-TI, "Bpiwej fuv Shcijj M- 
Kovpoi f^evpriffovffi. 

8 *Ec TO ffo<f>6r, MffraffOj.1 yew/* 7 ?*' 5 KvjScpvarai ir&vra 5ia iravTuv. 
4 *Bf rb ffo<pi>v ftavvov \tyea8cu OVK tOtXei Kal 0\ei, Z-qv&s ovvona. 

6 'E* TWV dia<pepovTWV KaXXIffTi) dp/wvla. 
8 ' Ap/xof/a d<t><u>ris (f>aveprjs Kpelfffftav. 

7 aval- ov rb fj.a.VTtiov fffTi rb tv AA0ots, ovre \tyei oure Kpvirrei, 

8 Z^uXXa 8^'o/j.fiXfi aytXaffra Kal d/caXXcijrt<7Ta KO! 
6,/j.vpiffTa <f>OeYY/ J ^ v ''l X l ^ u " if^v t!-iKvt(Tai ry (fnavrj dia rov 0(6v t 
which Coleridge has thus translated (Lit. Rent. in. p. 419) 

not hers 

To win the sense by words of rhetoric, 
Lip-blossoms breathing perishable sweets; 
But by the power of the informing Word 
Roll sounding onward through a thousand years 
Her deep prophetic bodements. 


as they think not nor expect 1 .' Fr. 4, 'Eyes and ears 
are bad witnesses when the soul is barbarous 2 .' Fr. 7, 
'To him that hopes not, the unhoped will never come 8 .' 
Fr. 8, 'They that search for gold, dig much ground and 
find little 4 .' Fr. 16, 'Great learning does not teach wis- 
dom 5 .' Fr. 75, 'The dry light is the wisest soul 6 .' 

Heraclitus is the first philosopher of whom we read 
that he referred to the doctrines of other philosophers. 
He is said to have spoken highly of some of the seven 
Wise Men, but condemned severely Pythagoras and 
Xenophanes as well as the poets Hesiod, Homer and 
Archilochus. Though I agree with Ueberweg in classing 
him with the older Ionics, yet his philosophy was no 
doubt largely developed with a reference to the rival 
schools of Italy. Thus there is something of a Pythago- 
rean colour in fragments 46 and 47 quoted above. 

We must now cross the water with Pythagoras of 

1 ' Avffptairovs fitvei reXeim/ffavraj atrcra. owe ^Xirovrai ou5 Soxeovai. 

2 Kcucot ndprvpes ai>6puiroi<ri 6<f>9a\fj.ol ical wra, 

3 'Edv HTJ (\in)at, dv^Xwiffrov owe tevpjffti. 

* Xpuo'dv ol St^fifvoi yrjv iroXXijv itpwaovffi KO.I evplcncovffi 6\lyov. 

8 Ho\vfj.a.ffirj voov ^fiv ov diSdffKfi. 

8 This has reference to the doctrine that fire is the essence of 
spirit. It was illustrated by the obscuration of the faculties in drunk- 
enness, and by the supposed ill effect of a foggy district on the 
intelligence of the inhabitants. The siecum lumen of the Novum 
Organum is borrowed from it. There are three different forms of 
the original maxim, which may possibly be all due to Heraclitus, as 
we see from other fragments (e.g. 66) that he was fond of playing on 
words. In Fr. 74 it runs avrj ^vx*! <ro<j>(*rrd.Tr) Kal dplffTij, in Fr. 75 
avyf) TJ/>I} V'^X'/ ffo^wrari; Kal dplffrij, in Fr. 76 ov yrj T;PJ/, 
KO! dpiffri}. 


Samos, born about 580 B.C., who settled at Crotona in Italy, 
529 B.C., and there founded what is known as the Italic 
school'. He seems to have found in the mysteries and 
in the Orphic hymns the starting point which Thales had 
discovered in Homer; and there can be little doubt that 
his doctrine and system were also in part suggested by 
his travels in Egypt. He established a sort of religious 
brotherhood with strict rules and a severe initiation*, in- 
sisted on training in gymnastics, mathematics and music, 

1 There is no one of the early philosophers about whose history 
and doctrines it is more difficult to ascertain the exact truth than 
Pythagoras. This is owing in part to the fact that neither 
Pythagoras himself nor any of his immediate disciples committed 
their teaching to writing, and also that the earliest Pythagorean 
treatise, composed by Philolaus a contemporary of Socrates, is only 
known to us through fragments, the genuineness of which is disputed ; 
but still more it is owing to the luxuriant growth of an apocryphal 
Pythagorean literature among later eclectic philosophers, who 
desired to claim the authority of Pythagoras for their own specula- 
tions. This was particularly the case with Neo-Pythagoreans and 
Neo-Platonists, such as Porphyry and lamblichus, who selected him, 
as Philostratus had done Apollonius of Tyana, to be the champion 
of the old religion, and opposed his claims, as prophet and miracle- 
worker, to those put forward by the Christians in the name of their 
Master or His Apostles. In the account which I have given in the 
text I have mainly followed Zeller who has examined the evidence 
with extreme care, testing all later reports by the statements of 
Plato and Aristotle. 

* It was said by later Pythagoreans that the noviciate lasted for 
five years, and that absolute silence had to be observed throughout 
that time. One rule strongly insisted on for all the brotherhood was 
daily self-examination, as we see by the following lines taken from 
the miscellaneous collection of Pythagorean precepts entitled the 
Golden Verses, which Mullach attributes to Lysis, the tutor of 
Epaminondas, but which, as a collection, are probably of much later 


and taught the doctrines of immortality and of the trans- 
migration of souls, and the duty of great abstemiousness, 
if not, as some report, of total abstinence from animal 
food 1 . Three points may be noticed about this society, 
(i) their high ideal of friendship, evinced in the maxims 
Kotvd TO. TWV <tX<Dv flvai, ToV Sc <$>L\ov aAAov favrov, and in 
the well-known story of the devotion of Damon and 
Phintias; (2) the admission into their body, as into the 
Epicurean society of later times, of female associates, of 
whom the most distinguished was Theano, the wife of 

Mi;8' virvov /jLaXaKoiffiv tir IT po<rd{ 00601, 
vplv rQiv ^fj.epiv(2v tpyuv rpis fKOffrof tire\6f?V 
ir-g vaptp-rjv ; rl 5' tpel-a ; rl pot dtov OVK treMadi) ; 
'Api-anevos 3' dirb irptlirov tirtl-idi, Kal nertireiTa. 
S(i\d fitv ^ACTp^as tirurXriffcrto, -xfrjffTO. dt rtpirov. 

Plato (Rep. X. 600) bears witness to the marked character of the 
Pythagorean life (UvOayopeiotTpbirosrov piov) ; and Herodotus (II. 81) 
connects the religious rites practised by them with those of the 
Orphic sect and of the Egyptians, bfju>\oytovffi & ravra. (the use of 
linen garments) roiffi 'Qp<j>iKoi<n KaXeo/^votcn Kal BaicxiKoun, towi dt 
\lyvirr loicri Kal HvBayopflouri. (I do not agree with Zeller in putting 
a comma after Alyvirrioifft.) 

1 The earliest notice we have of Pythagoras is contained in some 
verses of Xenophanes in which allusion is made to his doctrine of 
metempsychosis. Pythagoras is there said to have interceded for a 
dog which was being beaten, professing that he recognized in his 
cries the voice of a friend. 

Kal irort fuv ffTv(p\io/j.tvov ffniXaKos irapiovTa 
<f>afflv tirotKTeipai Kal r65e (pdcrOai tiros' 
iravffai, /J.t)8t pdiri^', lireirj <f>i\ov dvtpos tarl 

It was believed that he retained the memory of his own former 
transmigrations, and that he had once recognized a shield hanging 
up in a temple, as one which he had himself carried at Troy under 
the name of Euphorbus, (see Hor. Od. I. xxvui. 1. 10). 


Pythagoras; (3) the unquestioning submission with which 
the dicta of the master were received by his disciples, as 
shown by the famous avros e<a, ipse dixit, which was to 
them an end of all controversy. The brotherhood, first 
established at Crotona, soon gained great influence with 
the wealthier class in that and the neighbouring cities; 
but after some twenty years of prosperity they seem to 
have provoked the opposition of the democratic party by 
their arrogance and exclusiveness. Pythagoras himself is 
said to have been banished from Crotona and taken 
refuge at Metapontum. A worse fate overtook his follow- 
ers about a hundred years later, when their church at 
Crotona was burnt down, and they themselves massacred 
with the exception of two. The school appears to have 
died out altogether about the middle of the 4th century 
B.C., but revived in the time of Cicero. 

The new and startling feature in the Pythagorean 
philosophy, as opposed to the Ionic systems, was that it 
found its dpxq, its key of the universe, not in any known 
substance, but in number and proportion. This might 
naturally have occurred to one who had listened to the 
teaching of Thales and Anaximander. After all it makes 
no difference, he might say, what we take as our original 
matter, it is the law of development, the measure of con- 
densation, which determines the nature of each thing. 
Number rules the harmonies of music, the proportions of 
sculpture and architecture, the movements of the heavenly 
bodies 1 . It is Number which makes the universe into a 

1 He believed that the intervals between the heavenly bodies 
corresponded exactly to those of the octave, and that hence arose 
the Harmony of the Spheres, which mortals were unable to hear, 
either because it was too powerful for their organs of hearing or be- 


s 1 , and is the secret of a virtuous and orderly life. 
Then, by a confusion similar to that which led Heraclitus 
to identify the law of movement with Fire, the Pythago- 
reans went on to identify number with form, substance 
and quality. One, the Monad, evolved out of itself 
Limit (order), exhibited in the series of odd numbers, and 
the Unlimited (freedom, expansiveness), the Dyad, ex- 
hibited in the series of even numbers, especially of the 
powers of Two ; out of the harmonious mixture of these 
contraries all particular substances were produced. Again, 
One was the point, Two the line, Three the plane, Four 
the concrete solid (but from another point of view, as 
being the first square number, equal into equal, it was 
conceived to be Justice). Yet once more, One was the 
central fire, the hearth of the universe, the throne of 
Zeus. Around this revolved in regular dance ten spheres ; 
on the outside that of the fixed stars, within this the five 
planets in their order, then the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, 
between which and the central fire was interposed the 
imaginary Anti-Chthon or Counter-Earth, cutting off our 
view of the central fire and leaving us dependent on the 
reflection of its light by the Sun, which was not in itself 
luminous. The separation of the Earth into its two 
hemispheres was for the purpose of making up the Decad, 
the symbol of totality. As the Decad was the sum of the 
first four numbers (1 + 2 + 3 + 4=10), special sacredness 
attached to this group, known under the name Tetractys*. 

cause they had never experienced absolute silence. Arist. Cael. 
II. 9, Plin. N. II. II. 21. 

1 Pythagoras is said to have been the first who called the 
universe by this name. 

a Compare the Pythagorean oath contained in the Golden Verses, 


The number Ten was also the number of the Pythagorean 
categories, or list of contraries, thus given by Aristotle 
(Met. I. v. 986), Limit and Unlimited, Odd and Even, 
One and Many, Right and Left, Male and Female, Rest 
and Motion, Straight and Curved, Light and Darkness, 
Good and Bad, Square and Oblong. 

These mystical extravagances appear to have been the 
necessary introduction to the sciences of Arithmetic and 
Geometry, just as Astrology and Alchemy were the intro- 
duction to Astronomy and Chemistry. Indeed we find 
that men like Copernicus and Kepler were to some extent 
influenced and guided in their investigations by the ideas 
of Pythagoras. Nor was he himself deficient in knowledge 
of a more exact kind, if it is true that he was the discoverer 
of the theorem which we know as the 47th in the first 
book of Euclid, and was also acquainted with such pro- 
perties of numbers as are mentioned byZeller (i. p. 322*). 

The Pythagorean doctrine of the soul and of God 
is variously reported. If we may trust the oldest accounts, 
there does not seem to have been any close connexion 
between the religious and philosophical opinions of 

ov /td rbv a/ier^i yevef vapaSovra rerpaKrvv, irayaj> devaov 0i5<rtos 
fnfa/MT fx vffa "- There was of course no end to the fancies which 
might be connected with numbers. Thus, One was reason, as 
being unchangeable ; Two was opinion, and the earth as the region 
of opinion ; Three was perfection, as comprising in itself beginning, 
middle, and end ; Five was marriage, the union of odd and even. 
Later Pythagoreans made the Monad God, the Dyad Matter, the 
Triad the World. For other interpretations, see Zeller I. p. 359* foil. 
The five regular solids were supposed to be the ultimate forms of 
the five elements, the cube of earth, pyramid of fire, octahedron 
of air, icosahedron* of water, dodecahedron of the etherial element 
which encompassed the universe on the outside. 


Pythagoras. We are told that he believed in One God 
eternal, unchangeable, ruling and upholding all things, 
that the soul was a 'harmony 1 ,' that the body was its 
prison 8 , in which it was punished for past sin and dis- 
ciplined for a divine life after death, that those who 
failed to profit by this discipline would pass into lower 
forms of life, or suffer severer penalties in Hades. 

Heraclides Ponticus reports (Diog. L. Proem. 12, 
Cic. Tusc. v. 3) that Pythagoras was the first to call 
himself <iAo'o-o<os, a lover of wisdom, saying that the 
name o-o<os, used by the older sages, properly belonged 
to God alone. He compared human life to the gather- 
ing at the Olympic games, where some came to win 
glory, others to make gain, others to watch the spectacle: 
the philosopher, he said, resembled these last in despising 
honour and gain, and caring only for knowledge. Other 
sayings attributed to Pythagoras are the following : 'man 
is at his best when he visits the temples of the Gods 3 .' 
'Choose the best life; use will make it pleasant,' (Stob. 
Flor. i. 29). 'Do not speak few things in many words, but 
many things in few words,' (Stob. Flor. xxxv. 8). ' Either 
be silent, or speak words better than silence,' (Stob. 
Flor. xxxiv. 7). 'Be sleepless in the things of the 

1 The statement of Cicero and others that Pythagoras held the 
human soul to be a portion of the Divine soul (Cato M 78) is not 
confirmed by the earlier authorities. 

2 So Philolaus (R. and P. 124) Sid TIVOS n/iw/>ias a ^t>x<* TV 
ffw/iari ffwtfevKTOi Kal Ka.6a.irfp fv ffd/ TOVTI# reOaiTTau.. Plato 
adds that he condemned suicide as desertion of our post, ft> TII>I 
<f>povp$ tfffJtv ol dvOptinroi, Kal ov 5e? 5rj eavrbv K ravT-rjt \ueii> ovS 

3 Bl\rrro( tavruv "yivovrcu. avOpuiroi STOJ> vpbs roiJs Oeoin 
iv, Plut. Def. Or. 183, see Cic. Leg. II. ir. 


spirit; for sleep in them is akin to death,' (Stob. Flor. i. 
19). 'It is hard to take many paths in life at the same 
time,' (Stob. Flor. i. 27). 'It is the part of a fool to 
attend to every opinion of every man, above all to that 
of the mob,' (Iambi V. P. 31). 

The second of the Italic schools was the Eleatic, 
founded by Xenophanes of Colophon in Asia Minor 
(b. 569 B.C.), who migrated to Elea in Italy about 540 B.C. 
While the Pythagoreans strove to explain nature mathe- 
matically and symbolically, the Eleatics in their later 
developments did the same by their metaphysical ab- 
stractions. Xenophanes himself seems to have received 
his first philosophical impulse in the revulsion from the 
popular mythology. In his philosophical poem he con- 
demns anthropomorphism and polytheism altogether, and 
charges Homer and Hesiod with attributing to the Gods 
conduct which would have been disgraceful in men. 
'If animals had had hands they would have depicted Gods 
each in their own form, just as men have done 1 . God 
is one, all eye, all ear, all understanding; he is for ever 
unmoved, unchangeable, a vast all-embracing sphere.' 

1 Hdvra deals avedi)Kai> "Ofj.i)pos ff 'Hcrlodos re 
offffa Trap dvOpuwoKnv dveiSea Kal \{/6yos effriv, 
ol fXelffT e<t>Oey$a,VTO Oe(av dOefjdffria tpya, 
K\fTrreiv /jioixetieiv re Kal dXXiJXous a 
Er$ Beos tv re Oeoiffi Kal dvffpuTroicri 

OuXos opq., oi/Xos d voel, of'Xos 5^ r aicovei. 
'AXX' etroi xetpds y elxov floes i} X^oi^rey, 
17 ypdtf/ai xelpevffi /cal tpya re\eit> airep dvdpes, 
tiriroi (i^v 6' tiriroiat /So'ej 3^ re ftovfflv 6/xo/as 
Kal K( (huv lbias (ypcupov Kal crwfjuir' tiroiovv, 
ToiavO' olov Trep KO.UTOI 5^aj elxov cfJ.oi.ov. 


It is disputed whether the last expression is to be taken 
literally, implying that the universe is God, or whether 
it is a metaphor to express God's perfection and omni- 
presence. With all his freedom of censure Xenophanes 
is far from claiming for himself that oracular authority 
which the Pythagoreans ascribed to the dicta of their 
master. 'It is not for man,' he says, 'to hope for certainty 
in these matters of high speculation. However well he 
speaks, he has not attained to knowledge, but only to 
probability at best 1 .' 

The chief representative of the Eleatic School is 
Parmenides (b. 515 B.C.). The fragments of his philo- 
sophical poem, collected by Mullach, amount to more 
than 150 hexameters. He disengaged the doctrine of 
Xenophanes from its theological form, and ascribed to 
Being what his predecessor had ascribed to God. His 
philosophy is the antithesis of that of Heraclitus. While 
Heraclitus said 'all is motion and change, the appearance 
of fixity is merely illusion of the senses;' Parmenides 
asserted, with distinct reference to him, that all that exists 
has existed and will exist the same for ever, that it is 
change and multiplicity which is illusory. It is only by 
thought we can become conscious of the really existent; 
being and thought are the same, sense can only give rise 
to uncertain opinion. In such language we see partly a pro- 
test against thevagueness of the conception of development 
or 'becoming,' by which the Ionic philosophers en- 
deavoured to explain the origin of things, 'You say fire be- 
comes water, but each thing is what it is, and can never be 

1 Koi TO fjv ovv ffafos OVTIS a.vrip yiver ov54 Tts form 
elStiK a/j.(pl 6fU re Kcd affffa. X^yw irepl vdvruv 
fl ybp Kal T pdXiffTa TUX<M. rereXefffifrov eliruiv, 
avrdi 6/tu/s OVK olSf So*oy 5' ^irl Tcur 


otherwise;' partly an idea of the indestructibility of matter; 
partly an anticipation of the later distinction between neces- 
sary and contingent truth; thus one point dwelt upon by him 
was the impossibility of any separation of parts of space. 

But though truth only belonged to the world of real 
existence, Parmenides condescended to give his romance 
of nature for the benefit of those who could not pene- 
trate beyond the world of phenomena. He begins with 
two principles, light and darkness, also called fire and 
earth, or male and female; and supposes all things to 
proceed from their mixture. The existing universe con- 
sists of a central fire, the seat of the presiding Deity, 
and of several concentric rings of mingled light and 
darkness, bounded on the outside by a wall of flame. 
The first-born of Gods was Love, by whom the union of 
opposites is brought about. In this we may trace a 
reminiscence of the Hesiodic "Epws. 

Zeno of Elea (b. 490 B.C.) is chiefly known from his 
arguments showing the absurd consequences of the ordi- 
nary belief in the phenomenal world. Parmenides must 
be right in denying motion and multiplicity, for their as- 
sertion leads to self-contradiction. Zeno was in conse- 
quence called the inventor of Dialectic. His arguments, 
especially the famous 'Achilles,' still find a place in 
treatises on Logic 1 . 

1 It is thus given by Mill (System of Logic II. 385") , 'The argu- 
ment is, let Achilles run ten times as fast as the tortoise, yet if the 
tortoise has the start, Achilles will never overtake him. For sup- 
pose them to be at first separated by an interval of a thousand feet : 
when Achilles has run those thousand feet, the tortoise will have 
got on a hundred : when Achilles has run those hundred, the tor- 
toise will have run ten, and so on for ever: therefore Achilles may 
run for ever without overtaking the tortoise. ' 


The clearly marked opposition between the Ionic and 
the Eleatic views of nature, as shown in Heraclitus and 
Parmenides, had a powerful influence on the subsequent 
course of philosophy. Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and the 
Atomists agreed in accepting the Eleatic principle of the 
immutability of substance, while denying its absolute 
Oneness; and they explained the Ionic 'becoming' as 
the result of the mixture of a number of unchangeable 
substances. Empedocles of Agrigentum (b. 500 B.C.) 
'than whom,' says Lucretius, 'Sicily has produced nothing 
holier, more marvellous or more dear,' held that there 
were four eternal, self-subsistent elements or 'roots of 
things,' which were being continually separated and com- 
bined under the influence of Love and Hatred. At times 
Love has the upper hand, at times Hate. When Love 
has the complete supremacy the elements are at rest, 
united in one all-including sphere (2<aipos) : when Hate 
prevails, the elements are entirely separate. The soul, 
like all other things, is formed by the mixture of the 
elements, and is thus capable of perception, for like can 
only be perceived by like 1 . In regard to the origin of 
living things, Empedocles imagined that the several parts 
or limbs were in the first instance produced separately in 
the bosom of the earth, eyes apart from brows, arms 
from shoulders, etc. ; and that these were afterwards joined 
at haphazard, giving rise to all sorts of monsters, ox- 
headed men, men-headed oxen; and that it was only 
after successive trials that nature gave birth to perfect 
animals, fitted to survive and to propagate their 

1 yal-g ptv yap yalav 6jrwira/iev, uSart S* vSwp, 
aldtpi 8' aiOtpa Slav, drip irvpl vvp atSri\ov 
ffropyrj 52 ^Iropyrjv, NeiKOj 5^ re vciice'i \vyp$. 

M.P. a 


race'. In his opinions on the Gods and on religion, Empe- 
docles was chiefly influenced by Pythagoras. He believed 
in the existence of Daemons intermediate between Gods 
and men, some of which had passed into mortal bodies 
as an atonement for former sins, and could only be 
restored to their original state after long ages of disci- 
pline. While at one time he speaks of God as one spirit 
pervading the world in swift thought, in other places 
he speaks of Gods produced like men from the mixture 
of the elements, but possessed of a longer existence, and 
then again we find divinity attributed to Sphaerus and 
the four elements and two moving powers. 

Empedocles closes the series of those philosophers 
who used the medium of verse for their speculations. 
We have still nearly 500 verses remaining of his two 
great philosophical poems (the Hep! <ucrea>s and KaOapp.oi) 
so highly praised by Lucretius in the well-known lines 
'Carmina quin etiam divini pectoris ejus 
vociferantur et exponunt praeclara reperta, 
ut vix humana videatur stirpe creatus.' 
The claim to divinity seems to have been seriously pui 
forward by Empedocles himself in the line x ai/ P T '> fy" 8' Ofos a/x/Jporos, OVKCTI 0vT)To<;, and one of the stories 
told about his death was that he had been carried up to 
heaven in a chariot of fire; the more common belief 
however seems to have been that reported by Horace 

deus immortalis haberi 

dum cupit Empedocles, ardentem frigidus Aetnam 

Returning now to Ionia, we see the effect of the 
Eleatic school in the speculations of Anaxagoras of 
1 See the lines quoted in R. and P. 175. 


Clazomenae (b. 500 B.C.), the friend and teacher of Peri- 
cles and Euripides, of whom Aristotle says that his 
speculations, compared to those of his predecessors, 
were as sober reason contrasted with baseless vagaries *. 
Instead of the four elements of Empedocles, which 
he declared to be themselves compounds, he assumed 
an indefinite number of 'seeds' of the different kinds 
of matter. To these seeds later philosophers gave 
the distinctive name of 'homceomeries,' denoting that 
the constituent particles of bodies were of the same 
nature as the bodies which they composed, while the un- 
qualified atoms of Democritus gave rise to the different 
qualities of their compounds by the mode in which they 
were compounded. In the beginning these seeds were 
huddled together in a confused chaos, then came Nous, 
the pure self-moving intelligence, almighty and all-wise 
(this takes the place of the half-conscious Love and Hate 
of Empedocles), and communicated a rotatory impulse 
to the inert mass, by means of which the cognate par- 
ticles were gradually brought together and reduced to 
order. Nous is the soul of the world and dwells in all 
living things, even plants, as the principle of their life. 
Whether Anaxagoras called it by the name of God is 
doubtful. Plato and Aristotle complain that, having be- 
gun well, he failed to make full use of the right principle 
with which he started, and turned his attention to me- 
chanical causes, only having recourse to Nous as a deus 
ex machina when the others failed. 

Diogenes of Apollonia in Crete was a younger con- 
temporary of Anaxagoras, against whom he took up a 
reactionary position and defended the older Ionic doc- 
trine, assuming Air to be the one principle out of which 
all things were produced, and assigning to it all the attri- 

1 Met. A 984 B 1 7 r-f)<t><isv rap' e//cj; Myovras. 

2 2 


butes of Nous. Both he and Anaxagoras taught at 
Athens, but were compelled to leave it on a charge of 

Of far greater importance is Democritus, born at 
the Ionic colony of Abdera in Thrace, B.C. 460, the chief 
expositor of the Atomic theory, which was originated by 
his elder contemporary and friend, Leucippus the Eleatic. 
Briefly stated, their doctrine is that of Anaxagoras, minus 
Nous and the qualitative diversity in the seeds or atoms. 
They adopted the Eleatic view so far as relates to the 
eternal sameness of Being, applying this to the indivisible, 
unchangeable atoms, but they denied its unity, continuity 
and immobility, and they asserted that 'Not-being' (the 
Vacuum of their system) existed no less than 'Being,' 
and was no less essential as an a/j^', since without it 
motion would be impossible. The atoms are absolutely 
solid and incompressible, they are without any secondary 
qualities, and differ only in size (and therefore in weight), 
in figure, position and arrangement. Though too small 
to be seen or felt by us, they produce all things by their 
combinations ; and the compounds have various qualities 
in accordance with the differences in the constituent 
atoms, the mode of arrangement, and the larger or smaller 
amount of vacuum separating the atoms. Thus Soul, the 
divine element pervading the world, is a sort of fire 
made up of small, round, smooth atoms in continual 
motion, and largely mixed with vacuum. The account 
given by Democritus of the origin of the existing universe 
is that there were, to begin with, an infinite number of 
atoms carried downwards by their own inherent gravity 
at different rates in proportion to their magnitude, that 
thus they impinged one upon another, and gave rise to 


all sorts of oblique and contrary movements, out of which 
was generated an all-absorbing rotatory motion or vortex. 
Under these various movements corresponding atoms 
found their fitting places and became entangled and 
hooked together so as to form bodies. Thus the earthy 
and watery particles were drawn to the centre where 
they remained at rest, while the airy and fiery rebounded 
from them and rose to the circumference, forming a sort 
of shell between the organized world and the infinitude 
of unorganized atoms on the outside. There was an 
endless number of such worlds in various stages of 
growth or decay under the influx or efflux of atoms; the 
destruction of each world followed upon its collision with 
another world. 

The account given of the mind and its operations 
was as follows: Particles of mind or soul were distri- 
buted throughout the body, and were continually es- 
caping owing to their subtle nature, but, as they escaped, 
their place was taken by other particles inhaled in the 
breath. When breathing ceased there was nothing to 
recruit the living particles, and death speedily followed. 
Every mental impression was of the nature of touch, and 
was caused either by actual contact with atoms as in the 
case of taste and hearing, or by images thrown off from 
bodies external to us, and entering in through the pores. 

These images were a kind of film consisting of the 
surface atoms which were continually floating off from 
all bodies without any disturbance of their mutual order, 
and were, so to speak, a sample of the object from which 
they were detached. Democritus used the same word 
(etSwXa) for certain anthropomorphic combinations of 
the finest soul-atoms, which he believed to exist in the 


air and to be at times perceived by men. These were 
the Gods of the popular religion, not immortal, though 
longer lived than men: some were friendly, some ma- 
lignant; he prayed that he might himself only meet with 
the former. 

Democritus was contrasted with Heraclitus by the 
ancients, as the laughing with the weeping philosopher, 
see Juvenal x. 28 foil. In both we find the same lofty 
aristocratic spirit; both stand aloof from the herd, and 
scan with critical eyes the follies of men; but the wisdom 
of the younger is characterized by shrewd common-sense 
and good-humoured contentment, and has nothing of that 
mysterious gloom which pervades the utterances of the 
elder. The writings of Democritus seem to have rivalled 
those of Aristotle in extent and variety, and in beauty of 
style to have been scarcely inferior to Plato. I select a 
few aphorisms from the Fragments, which fill about forty 
pages in Mullach's collection. Fr. 1 1, 'Men have invented 
for themselves the phantom, fortune, to excuse their own 
want of prudence 1 .' Fr. 17, 'The chiefest pleasures come 
from the contemplation of noble deeds*.' Fr. 29, 'He 
is a man of sense who rejoices over what he has, instead 
of grieving over what he has not.' Fr. 30, 'The envious 
man is his own enemy.' Fr. 32, 'A life without a holiday 
is a long road without an inn. Fr. 92, 'He who would 
be happy must not be busy about many things, nor en- 
gage in business beyond his powers.' Fr. 94, 'It is better 
for a man to find fault with himself than with his neigh- 
bour.' Fr. 100, ' Reverence thyself no less than thy 
neighbours, and be equally on thy guard against wrong- 

I^XIJS etSu\ov firXdcravro, Trpo<f>affiv ISlrp afiovXtm. 
AZ fteyd\ai T^^-tej <iir6 rov 0ea<r0eu rA icaXA TUV tpyuv 


doing, whether all or none shall know it.' Fr. 107, 
'Those only are dear to God, who hate injustice.' Fr. 
109, 'It is the motive, not the outward act, which proves 
a man just 1 .' Fr. 116, 'Sin is caused by ignorance of 
the better course.' Fr. 132, ' Education is an ornament 
in prosperity, a refuge in adversity.' Fr. 138, 'Adver- 
sity is the only teacher of fools.' Fr. 142, 'Do not 
seek to know all things, or you will be ignorant of all 
things.' Fr. 149, 'To bear injury meekly is the part 
of magnanimity.' Fr. 161, 'He who loves none will be 
loved by none.' Fr. 245, 'He whom all fear, fears all.' 
Fr. 224, 'The doer of injustice is more miserable than 
the sufferer.' Fr. 225, 'The whole world is the father- 
land of the good.' Fr. 238, 'Different men have different 
pleasures, but goodness and truth are reverenced alike 
by all 8 .' Fr. Phys. i and 5, 'The objects of sense are 
not what they are supposed to be : Atoms and Void alone 
have real existence. There are two kinds of judgment, 
the genuine and the obscure: the obscure is that of 
sight, hearing, feeling and the rest; the genuine is dis- 
tinct (diroKfKpLfifvTj) from all of these. Truth lies at the 
bottom of a well (ev /3v6w).' 

Democritus closes the series of the pre-Socratic 
dogmatists, men who devoted themselves to the in- 
vestigation of Nature as a whole, believing that the 
investigation would lead to the discovery of the truth. 
Between these and Socrates, the great regenerator of 
philosophy, is interposed the sceptical or Sophistic era. 

1 'AyaObv ov TO pr) aditctfiv, d\X<i r6 fj.rjdt e 
* ' Avdpuirouri Traffi <re/3a<rrd Am TO a-ya.6bi> nal aXrjd^' 7j5i) 


That the latter was a natural and necessary stage in the 
development of Greek thought will be apparent from the 
following considerations : 

What we are told about Pythagoras and his disciples 
must have been more or less true of all the early phi- 
losophers. The sage, no less than the poet, believed 
himself the organ of a special inspiration, which, in the 
case of the former, revealed to him the inner truth of 
nature; those who were worthy to receive the revelation 
listened with reverence to his teaching, and rested their 
faith implicitly on their master's authority. But when 
different schools sprang up, each asserting their own 
doctrines with equal positiveness; when the increase of 
intercommunication spread the knowledge of these con- 
tradictory systems throughout the Greek-speaking world; 
when philosophical questions began to be popularized by 
poets like Euripides, and discussed in the saloons of a 
Pericles or an Aspasia; when Zeno's criticisms had made 
clear to the public, what had been an esoteric truth 
to the hearers of Parmenides and Heraclitus, that not 
merely traditional beliefs, but even the evidence of the 
senses was incapable of standing against the reason of 
the philosophers, the result of all this was a widespread 
scepticism either as to the existence of objective truth 
altogether (Protagoras), or as to the possibility of the 
attainment of physical truth by man (Socrates). If we 
remember at the same time the incredibly rapid develop- 
ment in every department of life which took place in 
Greece and especially in Athens during the 5th cen- 
tury B.C.; the sense, which must have forced itself on all 
the more thoughtful minds, of the incompetency of the 
Old beliefs to explain the problems of the new age which 


was dawning upon them; and on the other hand the 
growing importance of oratory and the immense stimulus 
to ambition held out, in a state like Athens, to those 
who were of a more practical turn of mind, we shall 
not be surprised if there was much curiosity to learn the 
opinions of the most advanced thinkers, and much eager- 
ness to acquire the argumentative power by which a 
Zeno could make the worse cause appear the better. 
The enlightened men who came forward to supply this 
demand called themselves by the name of Sophists, or 
professors of wisdom. They were the first who made a 
profession of the higher education, and some of them 
amassed considerable fortunes by their lectures on rhetoric, 
the art of speaking, which was also made to include in- 
struction in regard to political and social life. The 
speculative interest of the older philosophers was in them 
changed into a predominantly practical interest, ist, as 
to how to acquire wealth and notoriety for themselves, 
and 2ndly, as a means to this, to attract by omniscient 
pretensions, by brilliant declamation and startling para- 
dox, clever and ambitious young men of the richer 
classes; and then to secure their continued discipleship 
by careful training with a view to the attainment of 
political power 1 . 

Protagoras of Abdera (B.C. 490415) and Gorgias 
of Leontini in Sicily (B.C. 480 375) are the earliest of 
the so-called Sophists. Protagoras taught in Sicily and 
at Athens, from which latter place he was banished on a 

1 The general features of the Sophistic period are photographed 
in the Clouds of Aristophanes, and in Thucydides' chapters on the 
Plague of Athens and the Corcyrean revolution, and his speeches 


charge of impiety in consequence of his treatise on Theo- 
logy, in which he declared his inability to arrive at any 
conclusion as to the nature or even the very existence of 
the Gods 1 . His treatise on Truth began with the famous 
sentence, 'Man is the measure of all things;' meaning 
that truth is relative, not absolute, that what each man 
holds to be true is true to him; and similarly in regard 
to conduct, that it is impossible to pronounce universally 
that one kind of conduct is right, another wrong: right 
and wrong depend upon opinion; what is generally 
thought right is right generally; what each thinks right 
is right for him, just as each man's sensations are true 
for him, though perhaps not for another; there is there- 
fore no more reason for one general assertion than for 
another, perhaps an opposite assertion. It is plain that 
this was a sort of conciliation-theory naturally springing 
from the fact of the opposition of philosophical schools : 
'each of you are equally right relatively, equally wrong 
absolutely; there is no need for quarrel.' Protagoras 
also wrote on Grammar and Philology. Gorgias is said 
to have first come to Athens in B.C. 427, and afterwards 
to have travelled about giving lectures from town to town. 
He devoted himself mainly to the cultivation of rhetoric, 
but also wrote a treatise irepl ^ucrews, in which he main- 
tained ist 'that nothing exists' (i.e. doubtless 'in the 
absolute Eleatic sense'); 2nd that, if anything did exist, 
still it could not be known; $rd that, even if it could be 
known, the knowledge of it could not be communicated 
to others. Hippias of Elis and Prodicus of Ceos 

1 we pi fj.ev 6fu>v OVK fx<a ftStvai, ovd' wj elfflv ovff ws OVK elalv 
roXXd ykp T& xwXiJoiTtt tiSfvai, 77 re dSrjXoTijs KO.I fipa.\vs uv 6 y3/os 
TQV dvOpwvov. Diog. L. ix. 51. 


were some twenty years younger than Protagoras. The 
former was best known for his scientific attainments : he 
is said to have given utterance to the revolutionary senti- 
ment of the age in the phrase, 'Law is a tyrant over 
men, forcing them to do many things contrary to nature.' 
Prodicus is famed for his moral apologue on the Choice 
of Hercules narrated by Xenophon. He is reported 
to have considered the Gods of the popular religion 
to be merely deified utilities, Bacchus wine, Ceres 
corn, &c. 

But the extreme effects of the disintegration of es- 
tablished beliefs were not seen in the teachers, but in 
some of their pupils who were less dependent on public 
opinion, young aristocrats who fretted under democratic 
rule, and were eager to take advantage of the disorga- 
nized state of society in order to grasp at power for them- 
selves. Such was the Callicles of the Gorgias, such 
Critias and Alcibiades, both disciples of Socrates, of 
whom we have now to speak. 

Socrates was born at Athens 4703.0.; he was the 
son of Sophroniscus a sculptor, and Phaenarete a mid- 
wife. While sharing the general scepticism as to the 
possibility of arriving at certainty in regard to the Natural 
Philosophy which had formed the almost exclusive sub- 
ject of earlier speculation, he maintained, in opposition 
to most of the popular teachers of his time, the certainty 
of moral distinctions, and laid down a method for the 
discovery of error on the one side, and the establishment 
of objective truth on the other. The main lines of his 
philosophy are given in three famous sentences: (i) that 
of Cicero, that he brought down philosophy from heaven 


to earth 1 ; (2) his own assertion that he practised in re- 
gard to the soul the art of midwifery (/taievriK^) which his 
mother had practised in regard to the body, bringing to 
birth and consciousness truths before held unconsciously 2 ; 
(3) Aristotle's statement that Socrates was the first to 
introduce inductive reasoning and general definitions 8 . 
But more important than any innovation in regard to 
method was the immense personal influence of Socrates. 
His force of will, his indifference to conventionalities, 
his intense earnestness, both moral and intellectual, con- 
trasting so strongly with the dilettanteism of ordinary 
teachers, and yet combined with such universal interest 
and sympathy in all varieties of life and character, his 
warm and genial nature, his humour, his irony, his ex- 
traordinary conversational powers, these formed a whole 
unique in the history of the world; and we can well be- 
lieve that they acted like an electric shock on the more 
susceptible minds of his time. For we must remember 
that Socrates did not, like earlier philosophers, content 
himself with imparting the results of solitary meditation 
to a few favoured disciples : nor did he, like the Sophists, 
lecture to a paying audience on a set subject; but obey- 
ing, as he believed, a divine call, he mixed with men 
of every class wherever they were to be found, cross- 
questioning them as to the grounds of their beliefs, and 
endeavouring to awaken in them a consciousness of their 
ignorance and a desire for real knowledge. His own 
account of his call is as follows : one of his disciples was 

1 Cic. Tusc. v. 10. 
1 Plat. Theaet. p. 149 foil. 

* Ai5o yap fariv a rts cu> curoSolT) Sw/cpdrei dccalw?, rous r 
TW>I>S Xo-yoi/j xal rl> 6/>(e<r0at KaffoXov. Arist. Met. M. 4, 


2 9 

told by the Oracle at Delphi that Socrates was the wisest 
of men. Socrates could not conceive how this should 
be, as he was conscious only of ignorance; but he de- 
termined to question some of those who had the highest 
repute for wisdom; accordingly he went to statesmen and 
poets and orators, and last of all to craftsmen, but every- 
where met with the same response: none really knew 
what were the true ends of life, but each one fancied that 
he knew, and most were angry when Socrates attempted 
to disturb their illusion of knowledge. Thus he arrived 
at the conclusion that what the oracle meant was that 
the first step to knowledge was the consciousness of 
ignorance, and he believed, in consequence of other 
divine warnings, that it was his special mission to bring 
men to this consciousness. 

The next step on the way to knowledge was to get 
clear general notions, by comparing a number of specific 
cases in which the same general term was employed; or, 
according to the phraseology of ancient philosophy, to 
see the One (the kind or genus, the general principle, 
the law, the idea,) in the Many (the subordinate species 
or individuals, the particulars, the phenomena, the facts) 
and conversely to rise from the Many to the One. The 
process of doing this he called Dialectic, i.e. discourse, 
since it was by question and answer that he believed the 
proposed definition could be best tested, and the uni- 
versal idea which was latent in each individual could be 
brought to light. Truth and right were the same for all : 
it was only ignorance, mistake, confusion which made 
them seem different to different men. And similarly it 
is ignorance which leads men to commit vicious actions : 
no one willingly does wrong, since to do right is the 


only way to happiness, and every man desires happi- 
ness 1 . Thus virtue is a knowledge of the way to happiness, 
and more generally, right action is reasonable action; in 
other words, virtue is wisdom, and each particular virtue 
wisdom in reference to particular circumstances or a par- 
ticular class of objects. Thus he is brave who dis- 
tinguishes between what is really dangerous and what is 
not so, and knows how to guard against danger, as the 
sailor in a storm at sea; he is just who knows what is 
right towards men ; he is pious who knows what is right 
towards God; he is temperate who can always distinguish 
between real and apparent good. Training therefore and 
teaching are essential to virtue, and above all the training 
in self-knowledge, to know what are man's needs and 
capacities, and what are one's own weak points. No 
action can be really virtuous which is not based on this 

In regard to religion, Socrates, while often employing 
language suited to the popular polytheism, held that 
there was one supreme God who was to the universe 
what the soul of man was to his body, that all things 
were arranged and ordered by Him for good, and that 
man was the object of His special providence and might 
look for guidance from Him in oracles and otherwise. 
The soul was immortal, and had in it a divine element. 
Socrates believed that he was himself favoured beyond 
others in the warning sign (TO Sai/ioViov) which checked 

1 Compare Xen. Mem. iv. 8. 6, ' He lives the best life who is 
always studying to improve himself, and he the pleasantest, who 
feels that he is really improving,' (dpurra frjv TOUS apurra 
fiutvovs TOV tin /3e\TitrTous ytyveffffat, ySiffra, 5 TOI)S /idAwra 
/j.tvovs on jSeXrious ylyv 


him whenever he was about to take an ill-judged- 
step '. 

The personal enmity provoked by the use of the 
Socratic elenchus, and the more general dislike to the 
Socratic method as unsettling the grounds of belief and 
undermining authority, a dislike which showed itself in 
the Clouds of Aristophanes as early as 423 B.C., com- 
bined with the democratic reaction, after the overthrow 
of the Thirty, to bring about the execution of Socrates 
in the year 399 B.C. The charges on which he was con- 
demned were that he did not believe in the Gods of the 
established religion, that he introduced new Gods, and 
that he corrupted the young : the last charge probably 
referring to the fact that Socrates freely pointed out the 
faults of the Athenian constitution, and that many of his 
disciples took the anti-popular side. 

Our authorities for the life of Socrates are the writings 
of his two disciples, Xenophon and Plato, which .are 

1 Mucli has been written on the exact nature of the 
I take nearly the same view as Zeller (Socrates tr. p. 94), that it 
was a quick instinctive movement, analogous in its action to what 
we know as conscience and presentiment, but not identical with 
either, combining with a natural sensitiveness for whatever was 
right and fitting the practised tact acquired by large experience 
of life. To this sudden decisive mandate of the inward monitor, 
Socrates ascribed a supernatural origin, because he was unable to 
analyse the grounds on which it rested, attributing it, as he did all 
other good things, to the favour and goodness of God. We note 
here an element of mysticism, which showed itself also in the sort of 
brooding trance to which he was occasionally liable (cf. Plat. Symp. 
220). It belonged to his wonderful personality to unite in himself, 
as perhaps none other but Luther has ever done, robust common- 
sense with deep religious mysticism, keen speculative interest with 
the widest human sympathies. 


related to one another much as the Gospel of St Mark 
to that of St John. Xenophon (440 355 B.C.) was a 
soldier and country gentleman with a taste for literature, 
who endeavoured to clear his master's memory from the 
imputation of impiety and immorality by publishing the 
Memorabilia, a collection of his noteworthy sayings and 
discourses. Other discourses of Socrates are given in 
his Apologia, Convivium, and (Economicus. What has 
been said above as to the method and the belief of 
Socrates may be illustrated by the following passages 
from the Memorabilia. In a conversation with Euthy- 
demus ' the question arises as to the nature of jus- 
tice. To discover what injustice is, it is necessary 
to consider what kind of actions are unjust. 'It is 
unjust,' says Euthydemus, 'to lie, deceive, rob, &c.' 
On Socrates reminding him that such actions are not 
thought unjust in the case of enemies, Euthydemus 
amended his definition by adding 'if practised on a 
friend.' 'But,' says Socrates, ' it is not unjust in a general 
to encourage his soldiers by a lie, or in a father to im- 
pose upon his child by giving medicine in his food, or in 
a friend to rob his friend of the weapon with which he is 
about to kill himself.' Euthydemus has no answer to 
make, so Socrates turns to another point, and asks which 
is the more unjust, to tell a lie intentionally or unin- 
tentionally. The answer naturally is that it is worse to 
lie with intention to deceive. Socrates, arguing on his 
principle that all virtue is knowledge, asks whether a 
man must not be taught to be just, as he is taught to 
read and write, and whether the man who misspells in- 

1 Mem. iv. i. 



tentionally does not know his letters better than one who 
misspells without intending it; whether therefore he who 
intentionally commits an unjust action must not have a 
better knowledge of what is just than he who commits it 
unintentionally, and consequently be a juster man, since 
justice consists in the knowledge of what is just. Socrates 
then proceeds to show that Euthydemus' ideas of what 
is really good are no less confused and self-contradictory 
than his ideas about justice, and Euthydemus goes away 
convinced that he knows nothing, and thinking himself 
no better than a slave. ' Such, 1 adds Xenophon, ' was a 
frequent result of conversing with Socrates; in many 
cases those who had been thus humiliated kept out of 
his way for the future; these he called cowards; but 
Euthydemus on the contrary thought his only hope of 
improving himself was to be continually in the society 
of Socrates, and Socrates, finding him thus docile and 
eager to improve, taught him simply and plainly what he 
thought it most useful for him to know.' 

I have selected this conversation for the sake of 
comparison with a conversation on the same subject 
which I have quoted below from Plato's Republic. It 
is interesting to note that it ends with a negative 
conclusion, as so many of the Platonic dialogues do, 
its object being to destroy a false belief of know- 
ledge and awaken interest, not to communicate any 
definite doctrines. The paradox as to the superior 
morality of intentional wrong-doing reappears in Plato. 
And no doubt, if we are comparing the moral condition 
of two persons guilty of the same act of treachery 
or ingratitude, one of whom did wrong knowing it to 
be wrong, while the other had no feeling of wrong in 

M. P. * 



the matter, we should agree with Socrates in considering 
the latter more hopelessly immoral than the former 1 : 
but it is plain, from many passages both in Xenophon 
and Plato, that Socrates was really carried away by his 
analogy between the art or science of life (which was his 
view of virtue) and the particular arts and sciences ; and 
that he never gave due attention to the phenomena of 
human weakness (aKpareia) and moral choice (Trpoatpeo-is) 
which were afterwards so carefully analyzed by Aristotle. 
One other passage from Xenophon may be cited here, 
as the first appearance of the argument from Final Causes 8 . 
Socrates is endeavouring to prove to Aristodemus that 
the world is the work of a benevolent Creator, not the 
result of chance. After laying down the principle that 
the adaptation of means to ends is an evidence of in- 
telligent activity, he proceeds to point out the adaptations 
existing between the several parts of man's nature and 
also between his nature and his environment. Man is 
endowed with instincts which lead him, independently of 
reason, to perform those actions which are essential for 
self-preservation and for the continuance of the species; 
he has senses capable of receiving pleasure, and he finds 
objects around him of such a nature as to give him 
pleasure; he is favoured above all other animals in the 
possession of hands and in the faculty of speech and the 
power of thought, through which he is made capable of 
higher pleasures and brought into communication with 
higher objects. His consciousness of his own reason is 
a proof to him of a Reason outside of him, from which 
that reason was derived. 

1 See Arist. Eth.. in. i. 14. 
8 Mem. i. 4, cf. iv. 3. 


Plato is distinguished from the other disciples of 
Socrates as the one who represents most truly the 
many-sidedness of his master, completing indeed and 
developing what was defective in him and incorporating 
all that was valuable in the earlier philosophers. Before 
treating of him it will be convenient to speak shortly of 
the ' imperfect ' or one-sided Socraticists. 

Euclides of Megara, the founder of the Megaric and 
so ultimately of the Sceptic school, was chiefly attracted 
by the negative teaching of Socrates, and his followers 
are noted as the inventors of various sophisms which 
served them as offensive weapons against their oppo- 
nents. The main positive doctrine attributed to them 
is that they identified the Good, which Socrates called 
the highest object of knowledge, with the Absolute One of 
Parmenides, denying the existence of Evil. 

Antisthenes, the founder of the Cynic and in- 
directly of the Stoic school, was the caricature of the 
ascetic and unconventional side of Socrates. Nothing is 
good but virtue, nothing evil but vice. Virtue is wisdom 
and the wise man is always perfectly happy because he is 
self-sufficient and has no wants, no ties and no weak- 
nesses. The mass of men are fools and slaves, and the wise 
man is their appointed guide and physician. Acting on these 
principles the Cynics were the mendicant Friars of their 
time, abstaining from marriage and repudiating all civil 
claims, while they professed themselves to be citizens of 
a world-wide community. On the subject of religion 
Antisthenes stated explicitly, what was doubtless implied 
in the teaching of Socrates, that there was only one God, 
who is invisible and whose worship consists in a virtuous 



The name 'Cynic' may have had a reference in the 
first instance to Cynosarges, the gymnasium in which 
Antisthenes taught; but it speedily received the conno- 
tation of dog-like, brutal, which seems to have been 
justified by the manners of some members of the school. 
Diogenes, the more famous disciple of Antisthenes, was 
fond of speaking of himself as o KVW'V, and it seems 
to have been a usual thing with the Cynics, as with the 
other Socratics, to draw inferences as to the true and 
unsophisticated nature of man, from the habits of dogs and 
other animals 1 . The aim of the school being to return 
from a corrupt civilization to a state of nature, they put 
forward' three main 'Counsels of Perfection,' as we may 
call them, by which this was to be attained, freedom 
(fXevOepta), frankness or outspokenness (Trappr/via), and 
self-sufficingness or independence (avrdpKfia). The 
Cynics, and especially Diogenes, were famous for their 
pithy sayings and for their pungent biting wit. The 
following are taken from Mullach's collection. Antis- 
thenes Fr. 65, 'Give me madness rather than pleasure 2 .' 
Fr. 88, ' If you pursue pleasure, let it be that which 
follows toil, not that which precedes it' Fr. 64, 'The 
only pleasure that is good is that which does not need to 
be repented of.' Fr. 55, 'To be in ill repute is good, 

1 Compare in Mullach's Collection of Fragments, Diog. 33, 
'other dogs bite their enemies, but I my friends for their good;' 
also 122, 145, 190, 210, &c. In 286 men are said to be 
more miserable than beasts because of their luxury and effeminacy. 
If they would live the same simple lives, they would be equally free 
from diseases whether of mind or body." Similarly Plato in the 
Republic makes the dog his pattern for the education and mode of 
life of the Guardians. See n 375 foil., and v 451 foil. 

3 >> /j.a\\oi> 17 jJfftfeiV- 



as toil is good.' Fr. 105, 108, to the question 'what he 
had gained from philosophy?' he replied 'to be able 
to endure my own company;' 'what kind of learning was 
the most necessary?' 'to unlearn what is evil.' Fr. 44, 
discussing with Plato the nature of general conceptions, 
he said 1 , 'I can see this horse, but not your ideal horse.' 
'Yes,' said Plato, 'for you have the sight with which this 
horse can be seen, but you have not acquired the sight 
with which the ideal can be seen.' We read of similar 
encounters between Diogenes and Plato; thus, by way 
of ridiculing the tatter's definition of man, a 'featherless 
biped,' Diogenes brought a plucked fowl into the lecture- 
room; upon which Plato is said to have amended his defi- 
nition by adding TrAaruuWxos, 'with broad nails' (Fr. 124). 
On another occasion he is said to have come into Plato's 
house when he was entertaining some friends, and trampled 
on the beautiful carpets, saying, 'thus I trample on Plato's 
pride;' to which Plato replied, 'with no less pride, Dio- 
genes 2 .' The story of his interview with Alexander is 
familiar to every one. Among other characteristic sayings 
may be mentioned Fr. 281, 'It belongs to the Gods to want 
nothing, to godlike men to want as little as possible.' 
Fr. 113, 'Oppose to fortune courage, to law nature, to 
passion reason.' Fr. 295, 296, 'Nothing can be accom- 
plished without training (aa/c^cris). Training of the soul 
is as necessary as that of the body. All things are 
possible by training.' We read that he crowned himself 
with the pine-wreath, claiming to have won a greater 
victory than that at the Isthmia, in his contest with 

"iTrjroc fitv 6pu>, lirir&Tyra 8 oi>x opu>. 
Fr. 82, IIaru> TOV llXdrwvox rv<f,ov. 


poverty, disgrace, anger, grief, desire, fear, and, above all, 
pleasure (Fr. 294). 

In spite of a good deal of exaggeration and some- 
thing of charlatanry, it is probable that the influence 
of the early Cynics was not without its use in awaking 
men to a higher view of life; but it was not till the time 
of the Roman Empire that Cynicism became a real 
power, fostering freedom of thought and speech in 
the midst of the soul-crushing despotism of a Nero 
or a Domitian '. If at times the Cynic reminds us of the 
'all-licensed fool' of the Middle Ages, at other times, as 
in the striking discourse in which Epictetus bids a friend 
pause before he assumes that name, he rises almost to the 
sublimity of a Hebrew prophet. Epictetus there reminds 
his friend that 'to be a Cynic is not merely to wear coarse 
clothing, to endure hard fare, to beg his bread, to rebuke 
luxury in others; it is to stand forward as a pattern of 
virtue to all men, to be to them the ambassador of Zeus, 
showing them how far they have strayed from what 
is right and true, how they have mistaken good for evil, 
and evil for good. It is the duty of the Cynic to shame 
men out of their peevish murmurings by himself main- 
taining a cheerful and contented disposition under what- 
ever pressure of outward circumstances. If reviled and 
persecuted, it is his duty to love his persecutors and, far 
from appealing to the courts against ill-usage, to render 
thanks to God for giving him an opportunity of exer- 
cising his virtue and setting a brighter example to others. 
While fearless in reproving vice, he should avoid giving 

1 See Epict. Diss. HI. 11, and Bernays' very interesting tract 
Lucian und die Kyniker. 



unnecessary offence, and endeavour, as far as possible, to 
recommend his teaching, not only by persuasiveness 
of speech, but also by manner and personal appearance, 
never allowing hardness to degenerate into rudeness 
or coarseness. If the Cynic were living in a society 
of wise men, it might be his duty to marry and bring up 
children like himself; but as things are, he must look 
upon himself as a soldier in active service, and keep 
himself free from all ties which might interfere with 
his great work of delivering the Divine message to the 
blind and erring world.' 

Aristippus of Gyrene the founder of the Cyrenaic 
school, resembled Antisthenes in dwelling exclusively 
upon the practical side of his master's teaching. Holding 
that we can never be conscious of anything beyond 
our own feelings, he held of course that it was impossible 
to attain objective knowledge. We each have feelings of 
what we call sweetness, whiteness, and so on, but what is 
the nature of the object which causes those feelings, and 
whether the feelings which others call by the same name 
are really the same as our feelings, on these points we 
know nothing. The only thing of which we can be sure, 
the only thing of importance is, whether our feelings are 
agreeable or disagreeable. A gentle movement of the mind 
is agreeable and we call it pleasure; a violent movement 
is disagreeable and we call it pain. Every pleasure is in 
itself equally desirable, but we may get a greater amount 
of pleasure by one sort of action than by another. Thus 
Aristippus interpreted the somewhat ambiguous language 
of Socrates about happiness in a purely eudaemonistic 
sense, and declared that the only rule of life was to enjoy 


the present moment. But for such enjoyment it is not 
enough simply to follow the passing impulse. The 
immediate pleasure obtained by gratifying an impulse 
may be more than balanced by a succeeding pain. The 
mind must be trained by philosophy to estimate and 
compare pleasures and pains, to master its impulses 
where their indulgence would lead to an overplus of pain, 
to be able promptly to discern and to act upon the 
possibilities offered by every situation of life, keeping 
itself ever calm and free, unfettered by the prejudices and 
superstitions of the vulgar. Accordingly it was the 
boast of Aristippus, no less than of Antisthenes, l mihi res, 
non me rebus subjungere co/ior 1 .' His apophthegms and 
witticisms were scarcely less famous than those of 
Diogenes. The following may suffice as specimens. 

(Mullach, Fr. 6,) asked what good he had gained from 
philosophy, he replied 'to converse freely (tfappoAe'ws) 
with all.' Fr. 8 and 15, asked why philosophers seek 
the rich and not the rich philosophers, he replied, 
'because the former know what they need, the latter 
do not The physician visits his patient, but no one 
would prefer to be the sick patient rather than the 
healthy physician.' Fr. 30, when reproached for his 
intimacy with Lais, he defended himself in the words 
x<i> AaiSa aAX' OVK l^o/xai. Fr. 53, 'He is the true 
conqueror of pleasure, who can make use of it without 
being carried away by it, not he who abstains from it 
altogether.' Fr. 50, Dionysius reminded him, on his 
begging for money, how he had once said that a 
philosopher could never be in want. 'Give the money,' 
said he, 'and we will discuss that point afterwards.' 

1 See Horace Epp. I. 17. 13 32. 

PLA TO. 41 

The money being given, he said, 'You see it is true, 
I am not in want.' (Compare with this the manner 
in which he got his wants supplied in shipwreck, Fr. 61.) 
Among the more prominent members of this school 
was Theodorus, surnamed the Atheist, who lived towards 
the close of the 4th century, B.C. Objecting to the 
doctrine of his predecessor on the ground that it did 
not leave sufficient scope to wisdom, since pleasure and 
pain are so much dependent on outward circumstances, 
he put forward as the chief good, not the enjoyment of 
passing pleasure, but the maintaining of a calm and cheer- 
ful frame of mind. The anecdotes related of him have 
quite a Stoic ring. Thus, when Lysimachus threatened 
to crucify him, he answers 'keep your threats for your 
courtiers: it matters not to Theodorus whether his body 
decays in the earth or above the earth.' Euhemerus, 
the rationalizing mythologist so much quoted by the 
Fathers, is said to have been a pupil of his. His contem- 
porary, Hegesias, called Treto-i^ava-ros from his gloomy doc- 
trine, considered that, as life has more of pain than 
pleasure, the aim of the wise man should be not to 
obtain pleasure, but to steel himself against pain. Thus 
in the end the Cyrenaic doctrine blends with the Cynic. 

Plato 1 , the ( deus fhilosophorum' (Cic. N. D. n 32), 
was born of a noble family at Athens 428 B.C. and, like 
his brothers, Glaucon and Adimantus, and his relations 
Critias and Charmides, became a disciple of Socrates in 
408 B.C. After the death of his master he left Athens 
and lived at Megara with Euclides. From thence he 

1 The best complete edition is Stallbaum's with Latin notes, the 
best English translation Jowett's in 5 vols. Oxford, 1875. 

42 PLA TO. 

visited Cyrene, Egypt, Magna Graecia and Sicily. After 
nearly ten years of travelling he took up his residence 
again at Athens in 389 B.C. and began to lecture in the 
gymnasium of the Academia. At the request of Dion 
he revisited Sicily in 367 with a view of winning over 
Dionysius the Younger to the study of philosophy, and 
again in 361 in the hope of reconciling him to Dion; 
but he was unsuccessful in both attempts, and indeed 
seems to have been himself in considerable danger from 
the mercenaries of the tyrant. He died in his eightieth 
year, B.C. 347. 

Building on the foundation of Socrates, he insists, no 
less than his master, on the importance of negative 
Dialectic, as a means of testing commonly received 
opinions ; indeed most of his Dialogues come to no 
positive result, but merely serve to show the difficulties 
of the subject discussed and the unsatisfactory nature of 
the solutions hitherto proposed '. As he makes Socrates 
the spokesman in almost all the Dialogues, it is not 
always easy to determine precisely where the line is to be 
drawn between the purely Socratic and the Platonic 
doctrine, but the general relation of the one to the other 
may be stated as follows. 

In his theory of knowledge Plato unites the Socratic 
definition with the Heraclitean Becoming and the Eleatic 
Being*. Agreeing with Heraclitus that all the objects of 
the senses are fleeting and unreal in themselves, he held 

1 These are classified by Thrasyllus as \6yot I^TijTiKot, dialogues 
of search, in opposition to the \6yoi v^tjyriTiKol, dialogues of exposition. 

Among the sub-classes of the former are the fj-aievriKol (obstetric), 
and ireipa.ffTi.Kol (testing). 

a See Aristotle Met. A 6. 987, M 4. 1078. 



that they are nevertheless participant of Being in so far 
as they represent to us the general terms after which they 
are named. Thus we can make no general assertion 
with regard to this or that concrete triangular thing : it is 
merely a passing sensation : but by abstraction we may 
rise from the concrete to the contemplation of the Ideal 
triangle, which is the object of science, and concerning 
which we may make universal and absolutely true 
predications. If we approach the Ideal from below, 
from the concrete particulars, it takes the form of the 
class, the common name, the definition, the concept, 
the Idea; but this is an incomplete view of it The 
Ideal exists apart from, and prior to, all concrete 
embodiment It is the eternal archetype of which the 
sensible objects are the copies. It is because the soul in 
its pre- existent state is already familiar with this archetype, 
that it is capable of being reminded of it when it sees its 
shadow in the phenomenal existences which make up the 
world of sense 1 . All learning is reminiscence*. What 

1 The reader will remember the magnificent ode in which 
Wordsworth has embodied Plato's sublime conception. The fact 
which underlies it was well illustrated by the late Prof. Sedgwick, 
commenting on Locke's saying that "the mind previous to ex- 
perience is a sheet of white paper" (the old rasa tabula), "Naked 
he comes from his mother's womb, endowed with limbs and senses 
indeed, well fitted to the material world, yet powerless from want of 
use: and as for knowledge, his soul is one unvaried blank; yet has 
this blank been already touched by a celestial hand, and when 
plunged in the colours which surround it, it takes not its tinge from 
accident, but design, and comes forth covered with a glorious 
pattern." Discourse, p. 53. The Common-sense Philosophy of the 
Scotch and the a priori judgments of Kant are other forms of the 
same doctrine. 

1 Cf. Afftto, p. 81, and Grate's Plato n. p. 7, ' Socrates illustrates 

44 PLATO. 

cannot be traced back to this intuitive consciousness 
in the soul itself is not knowledge, but mere opinion. 
Dialectic is the means by which the soul is enabled 
to recover the lost consciousness of the Ideal. The 
highest Ideal, which is the foundation of all existence 
and all knowledge, is the Ideal Good or Goodness (17 
iSe'a TOV dyaOov), personified in God. He, as the Creator 
or Demiurgus, formed the universe by imprinting the 
ideas on formless chaotic Matter. The process of 
creation is described in the Timaeus under the form 
of a myth, Plato holding, like Parmenides, that it was 
not possible to arrive at more than a symbolical adum- 
bration of physical truth. The cause and ground of 
creation is the goodness of God, who seeks to extend 
his own blessedness as widely as possible. He begins 
his work by constructing the soul of the world out of 
the two elements before him, the immutable harmo- 
nious Ideals and changing discordant Matter. This soul 
he infuses into the mass of matter, which thereupon 
crystallizes into the geometrical forms of the four 
elements, and assumes the shape of a perfect sphere 
rotating on its axis. The Kosmos thus created is divine, 
imperishable and infinitely beautiful. Further, each 

the position, that in all our researches we are looking for what we 
have once known but have forgotten, by cross-examining Meno's 
slave; who, though wholly untaught, and never having heard 
any mention of geometry, is brought by a proper series of questions 
to give answers out of his own mind furnishing the solution of a geo- 
metrical problem. From the fact that the mind thus possesses the 
truth of things which it has not acquired in this life, Socrates infers 
that it must have gone through a pre-existence of indefinite dura- 
tion.' The same argument is used in the Phaedo to prove the 
immortality of the soul. 



element is to have living creatures belonging to it. 
Those belonging to the element of fire are the Gods, 
both the heavenly bodies and those of whom tradition 
tells us. All these were fashioned by the Demiurgus 
himself, but the creatures belonging to the other elements, 
including the mortal part of man, were the work of the 
created gods. The immortal part of man, the reason, 
is of like substance with the soul of the world, and was 
distributed by the Demiurgus amongst the stars till the 
time came for each several particle to enter the body 
prepared for it by the created gods, when it combined 
with two other ingredients, the appetitive (TO cn-iflu/iTpriKov) 
and the spirited (TO 0v/>iSes) which it had to bring into 
subjection. If it succeeded, it returned to its star on the 
death of the body ; if it failed, it was destined to undergo 
various transmigrations until its victory was complete. 
In all these physical speculations Plato was much 
influenced by the Pythagoreans. 

We have now to speak of his ethical doctrines, 
which were based upon the psychological views mentioned 
above. The soul is on a small scale what the State, 
or city, is on a large scale : it is a constitution which 
is in its right condition when its parts work harmoniously 
together, when the governing reason is warmly supported 
by its auxiliary the heart, and promptly and loyally 
obeyed by the appetites. Thus perfect virtue arises 
when wisdom, courage and temperance are bound 
together by justice. The highest good is the being 
made like to God ; and this is effected by that yearning 
after the Ideal which we know by the name of Love. 

Thirty-five Dialogues have come down to us under 
the name of Plato, the greater number of which are 

46 PLATO. 

all but universally acknowledged to be genuine. Five of 
these are classified as 'logical' in the catalogue of Thra- 
syllus; one, the Timaeus, as 'physical;' in the remainder 
the ostensible purpose commonly is to define the meaning 
of some ethical term, as the Laches turns on the definition 
of Courage, the Charmides on the definition of Tem- 
perance, the Republic on that of Justice. But, in a 
writer so discursive, and so little systematic as Plato, it is 
impossible to carry out any strict system of classification: 
all that can be done is to group different dialogues 
together from one or another point of view; as we may 
call the Apology, Crito, Euthyphro and Phaedo Socratic 
in a special sense, because they give the substance 
of discourses really held by the historic Socrates. Or 
again we may trace a gradual progress from the simpler 
and narrower doctrines of the Protagoras, the Lysis, the 
Cliarmides, the Laches, which hardly pass beyond the 
Socratic point of view, to the Phaedrus, the Gorgias, the 
Phaedo, the Symposium, in which the Ideal theory is 
developed along with the doctrines of pre-existence and 
immortality; until at length we arrive at the culminating 
point of the Platonic philosophy in the Republic, that un- 
surpassable monument of genius, which stands on the 
same level in the world of speculation, as the Agamem- 
non or the Parthenon in the world of Art. We may 
observe the growth of Pythagorean mysticism in the 
Timaeus; and finally, in the deeply-interesting dialogue 
of the Laws, we may listen to the sadder and sterner 
tones in which the aged Plato, summing up his life's 
experience, confesses that he had been too sanguine 
in his hopes as to what could be effected by philosophy, and 
avows his belief tha^ th^ rWn rooted evil in nature and in 



man must be traced back to an evil spirit counterworking 
the action of the divine spirit in the universe 1 ; and that 
the lessons of philosophy must be supplemented and en- 
forced by religion, if they are to have a real practical 
power over the mass of men. In addition to the extant 
Dialogues, we find references to lectures of a more esoteric 
character upon the Chief Good, in which the theory of 
Ideas seems to have been mixed up with quasi-Pythago- 
rean speculations on the symbolism of Number. 

Perhaps the best way in which I can employ the brief 
space at my disposal, in order to give some notion of 
Plato's manner of treating a subject, will be to append 
here an abstract of the Republic*, and then to illustrate, 
from that and from other dialogues, his three styles, dialec- 
tical, expository, and allegorical. 

In the ist Book of the Republic we have an excellent 
example of a dialectical discussion, which will be given 
more in detail below; upon the nature of Justice or 
Righteousness. The conclusion arrived at is that Justice 
is in all respects superior to injustice, the opposite thesis 
having been maintained by Thrasymachus, and that the 
just man is happier than the unjust, not only because he 
is loved by the Gods and by all good men, but because 
Justice is that quality of the soul by which it is enabled 
to perform well its proper functions. Socrates however 
allows that the discussion had been too rapid, and that 
they ought to have determined the exact nature of justice 
before arguing as to its effects. Accordingly in the 2nd 
Book two of his disciples put forward the difficulties they 

1 Cf. x. 896. 

* On the Republic see the interesting paper by Mr Nettleship in 
'Hellenica,' and the translation by Davies and Vaughan. 

48 PLATO. 

feel on the subject, and beg of Socrates to prove, if he can, 
that justice is not only good in its results, but good and 
desirable in itself. Though men agree to commend justice, 
yet they generally do this in such a way as to imply that, 
if a man could practise injustice without fear of detection 
and retaliation or punishment, he would be happier than a 
just man who suffered under a false imputation of injustice, 
particularly if it be true that the favour of the Gods may 
be won by sacrifices and offerings, irrespectively of the 
moral character of the worshipper. 

Socrates commences the expository portion of the 
dialogue by proposing to examine the nature of justice 
and injustice on a larger scale in the State. Tracing the 
rise of the State we shall be able to see how justice 
and injustice spring up within it. Society is founded in 
the wants of the individual : men enter into partnership 
because no one is sufficient to himself. Experience soon 
teaches the advantages of division of labour : thus one is 
a husbandman, another a builder, another a clothier ; and 
with the growth of the community a whole class of dis- 
tributors are needed in addition to the producers. If the 
State becomes wealthy and luxurious it will speedily 
be involved in war, and we shall need a standing army of 
thoroughly trained soldiers. Like good watch-dogs, they 
must be brave to resist the enemy, while at the same 
time they are gentle towards the citizens whom they 
guard. They must be carefully selected and trained 
up from their earliest years to be true Guardians of the 
State, trained in mind by music (including under this 
term literature), trained in body by gymnastics. The 
earliest training will be that by means of tales partly 
fictitious and partly true. Tales, such as those of Homer 



and Hesiod, which attribute wicked actions to the Gods, 
or represent the heroes as mastered by passion or be- 
moaning the approach of death, must be altogether 
excluded, and only such admitted as inculcate truth, 
courage, self-control, and trust in the unchanging good- 
ness of God. God, being perfectly good, can never 
deceive, never be the cause of evil : when he sends what is 
apparently evil, it is really good in the form of chastisement. 
But not only the substance of these tales, but the form 
also must be under strict regulation. The style, the 
rhythm and the music must all be simple, grave and 
dignified, expressive of the feelings of a noble and 
virtuous man, never stooping to imitate folly or vice. 
Similarly in every branch of art, our youthful Guardians 
must be familiarized with all that is beautiful, graceful 
and harmonious, in order that they may learn instinctively 
to hate what is ugly, and thus may be fitted to receive 
the fuller teaching of reason, as they advance in years. 
The use of gymnastic is not only to train the body, but 
to develop the spirited element in the mind, and so 
supplement the use of music, which develops especially 
the philosophic element and by itself might induce too 
great softness and sensitiveness. For this second branch of 
education we need the same rules as for the first; it 
must be simple, sober, moderate. When our Guards 
have been thus trained, we shall select the ablest, the 
most prudent, the most public-spirited, to be governors or 
chief Guardians ; the rest we shall call the 'Auxiliaries.' 
To prevent jealousies we must instil into all the citizens 
the belief that the Guardians are born with a certain 
mixture of gold in their composition, the Auxiliaries with 
a like mixture of silver, and the inferior classes with 

M. P. 4 



brass and iron ; that it is the duty therefore of the rulers 
carefully to test the nature of each citizen, and not allow 
one of golden nature to remain in a lower class, or one of 
iron in the higher, since the city is fated to perish if ever 
brazen or iron men become its Guardians. Finally the 
Guardians and Auxiliaries are to live together in a camp, 
having no private property or home, but maintained 
by the contributions of the other citizens. Otherwise 
they will become tyrants rather than Guardians, wolves 
instead of watch-dogs. 

Adeimantus here objects that the Guardians will be 
worse off than the other citizens. To which Socrates 
replies that the end of the true legislator is not to make 
any particular class happy, but to provide that each class 
and each citizen shall perform aright their proper function, 
and thus contribute to the general welfare of the city as 
a whole One of the duties of the Guardians will be 
to take care that the citizens are not unfitted for their 
work or estranged from each other by the entering in 
either of poverty or riches. Another will be to prevent 
the city outgrowing its proper limits and losing its unity 
in that way: a third to guard against any innovation 
in the constitution, especially as regards the training 
of the Guardians themselves. 

The State being thus fully organized, we have now to 
look for justice in it. If it is a perfect State, it must 
possess all virtue, i.e. it must be wise, brave, temperate 
and just. If we can discover the three former charac- 
teristics in our State, then the virtue which remains 
unaccounted for will be justice. Now the State is 
wise in the wisdom of its Guardians; it is brave in 
the bravery of its Auxiliaries, who have learnt in the 

PLATO. 51 

course of their training to form a true estimate of 
what is, or is not, really formidable, and have acquired, 
through the same training, sufficient strength of mind to 
hold fast to these convictions in spite of all temptation. 
Temperance is another name for self-mastery, by which 
we understand the subordination of a lower self to 
a higher self in the individual : in our State it will mean 
the willing obedience of all the citizens to the Guardians 
who form the smallest class. Finally justice is that 
principle of conduct which lies at the root of all these, 
and which we assumed in the very foundation of our 
State, the principle, namely, that each citizen should 
do his own work without meddling with others. Our 
city will be just, as long as each class in it confines itsell 
to its own proper work; it will become unjust, when one 
class usurps the position of another, especially if a lowei 
class usurps that of a higher. 

We have now to apply this analogy to the individual 
As there are three classes in the State, so there are three 
parts or elements existing in the individual mind. One 
is Appetite (TO liridvprfTiKov), such as we are conscious 
of when we thirst; another Reason (TO Xoywrrucov), which 
at times forbids us to drink, though thirsty; the third 
Spirit or the sense of honour, (TO flv/xoetSe's), which at 
times assists the reason to keep under the appetites, 
at times itself chafes and frets, like a wild horse, under 
the control of reason. The virtues then of the individual 
will be analogous to those of the State. He will be wise 
through the wisdom of the rational element within him ; 
brave, through the courage of the spirited or irascible 
element; temperate, through the willing obedience of 
the two inferior elements to the superior; just, when each 


5 2 PLATO. 

part of the soul performs its own proper function without 
encroaching upon the others. And this inward harmony 
will show itself outwardly in just deeds, while injustice is 
an unnatural discord and disease in the soul, and mani- 
fests its presence outwardly in all unjust and criminal 
actions. From this it must follow that justice in itself, 
apart from its consequences, must be always the greatest 
good, and injustice the greatest evil of the soul, as 
health is the greatest good and disease the greatest evil 
of the body. 

In the 5th Book Socrates explains at length the 
community of women and children to which he had 
before alluded. The greatest evil to a State being 
separation of interests, and the greatest good being 
unity of interests and harmony of feeling, it must be 
our object to weld the whole city into one body, in 
which every part sympathizes with every other part, and 
the separate parts cease to talk of 'mine' and 'not mine, ' 
but all together speak of * ours.' But, as long as we have 
separate homes and separate families, we cannot hope for 
this complete blending of interests. It will be otherwise in 
our model State. Our women will go through the same 
training as the men; for the common opinion which restricts 
all women to a narrow circle of family duties is altogether 
contrary to nature : women have the same variety of 
aptitudes and ability as men ; they only differ from men 
in being weaker. As we do not refuse to make use 
of female watch-dogs because they are weaker than the 
male, so we shall not forbid a woman to be a Guardian if 
she shows the requisite qualifications for the office. In 
regard to the rearing of children, it will be the duty of 
the rulers to follow the example of skilful breeders, and 

PLATO. 53 

secure the best offspring by selecting the best parents. No 
union of Guardians or Auxiliaries will be allowed without 
the sanction of the rulers, and the children will be 
removed at once to a state-establishment, where they 
will be brought up under the charge of nurses, unknown 
to their parents; but every child will regard every man of 
mature age as a father; and all of the same age will be to 
each other brothers and sisters. 

It is a question how far this ideal is capable of being 
put into practice. The only chance of it would be by the 
union of political power and philosophy in the same 
person. And here it becomes necessary to distinguish 
between the true philosopher and the pretender. The 
true philosopher, while he eagerly pursues every kind of 
wisdom and is enamoured of every kind of beauty, is 
never satisfied with the contemplation of isolated truths 
or of individual beautiful objects, but presses onwards 
till he sees the Ideal itself, which alone is always true, 
always beautiful, and is the cause of beauty and truth 
in other things by entering into them and irradiating 
them with some faint gleams of its own perfection. One 
who is thus familiar with the Ideal will be most likely to 
keep continually before his eyes the type of the perfect 
State, and to make laws in accordance with it. Having 
his mind occupied by such high thoughts, he will be in 
no danger from those temptations to voluptuousness, 
avarice and other weaknesses, which beset ordinary 
rulers. He will possess in fact those four characteristics 
which make up perfect virtue. 

Adeimantus here objects that Socrates' picture of the 
philosopher is not in accordance with experience. Those 
who devote themselves to philosophy are generally thought 



useless, if not unprincipled. Socrates replies that this is 
owing to the corrupt state of public opinion, through which 
the qualities of mind which go to make a philosopher are 
perverted by adverse influences, while philosophy is left in 
the hands of pretenders who bring discredit upon it; or, 
if here and there a genuine philosopher is to be found, he 
is powerless to resist the stream, and is content if he can 
keep himself pure from the world, and retain the hope of 
a better life to come. In such a State as we are describ- 
ing, the philosopher would not only reach a higher stage 
of growth himself, but he would secure his country's 
welfare as well as his own. The next point then is 
to show by what kind of education the Guardians may be 
raised into philosophers. Besides the tests previously 
mentioned, they must now be exercised in a variety of 
studies, terminating in the highest of all studies, that of 
the Ideal Good, the knowledge of which is needed, 
if they are to be perfect Guardians. What then is 
the Ideal Good? Socrates answers by an analogy. The 
Ideal Good is, in the invisible world, which is apprehended 
by the intellect and not by the senses, that which its 
offspring, the Sun, is in the visible world. As the Sun is 
the source of life and light to visible things, so the Ideal 
Good is the source of being and of knowledge in the 
intelligible world 1 . The use of education is to turn 

1 The analogy may be presented in a parallelism, as follows : 


Supreme Cause. 

(i) Objective. 

(t) Subjectivo- 

TO oparov the visible. 


' becoming.' 
pw, light. 

TO VOTJTOV the intelligible. 
/5^a TOV dyaOov. 

otiffla, 'being.' 
a\i)^eta, truth. 



the mind from that which is visible and temporal, and to 
fix it upon the invisible and eternal. The preparatory 
studies are Arithmetic, Plain and Solid Geometry, Astro- 
nomy, Harmonics; he who has been duly trained in these 
will be fitted to enter on the crowning study of Dialectic, 
which does not start with assumed premisses, like the 
others, but examines and tests the premisses themselves, 
and will not rest till it has traced back each portion 
of knowledge to its fundamental idea, and further has 
seen how all ideas are connected with the Ideal Good. 

The subject of education being thus completed, the 
argument proceeds to the consideration of the different 
kinds of constitution, and the corresponding varieties of 
character. Since all that has had a beginning is liable to 
decay, the time will come when the breed of Guardians 
will degenerate. The spirited or irascible element will 

(3) Subjective. otyts, sight. kvia-r-r\^i\, knowledge. 

Human Organ. 0/, the eye. roCs, the reason. 

A further parallelism will represent the action of the mind within 
the two spheres. Thus regarded, the visible world is the sphere of 
opinion (do^affrov), the other of knowledge (yvuffTov), and both are 
capable of subdivision, thus : 

5oa<TToi>, world of 

yvwarov, world of knowledge. 









Sidvoia, discur- 
sive reasoning, 
starting from 

vorjffts, intui- 
tion, which 
tests hypo- 
theses by the 
aid of dia- 

5 6 PLATO. 

overpower the rational element; and the two upper 
classes will enslave the third, and devote themselves 
to wars of conquest. Thus the aristocracy, or govern- 
ment of the best, will be changed into a 'timocracy' 
or government of honour, resembling that of Sparta; and 
corresponding to this we shall have the timocratical 
or ambitious man. The next stage in the downward 
progress will be the change from the love of honour and 
power to the love of wealth, giving rise to an oligarchical 
government or plutocracy, under which the old harmony 
will entirely disappear, and the city will be divided into 
two hostile communities, the few rich opposed to the 
many poor. Correspondingly to this, when the son of an 
ambitious father is taught by his father's calamities 
the danger of ambition, he becomes industrious, prudent 
and parsimonious, providing the means of enjoyment 
without the skill or the courage to use them. Democracy 
is the constitution which succeeds plutocracy, when those 
who have wasted their property by extravagance offer 
themselves as leaders to the discontented poor, and with 
their aid expel the rich and establish equality of rights. 
The democratical man is one who uses the money left by 
his father to gratify every impulse and indulge in every 
amusement, keeping himself however within certain limits 
of moderation. lastly we have the passage from demo- 
cracy to tyranny, when some popular leader has succeeded 
in putting down an insurrection of the rich, and having 
surrounded himself with a body-guard proceeds to estab- 
lish his power by putting to death the bolder and more 
able citizens, and grinds down the rest by every kind of 
extortion and oppression. The tyrannical man is the son 
of the democratical man, but in him the father's various 

PLATO. 57 

and comparatively innocent impulses are swallowed up 
by one over-mastering and lawless passion, which he 
gratifies at the expense of whatever violence or crime. If 
the tyrannical man is able to find a sufficient number 
of followers like himself, he makes himself an actual tyrant 
in his city and thus attains the summit of wickedness 
and injustice. 

And now we have to answer the question which 
of these conditions is the happiest, which the most 
miserable. There can be no doubt as to which is the 
happiest, and which the unhappiest city, but some have 
maintained that, however unhappy may be the city which 
is under tyrannical rule, the tyrant himself is happy. But 
the facts are the same in both cases. As in the State, so 
in the tyrant, the better part is enslaved to the worse, the 
soul is for ever agitated by fierce and violent impulses; it 
is conscious that it is sinking deeper and deeper into 
wretchedness and crime, and is terror-stricken at the pros- 
pect of coming vengeance. The same conclusion follows 
from a consideration of the different kinds of pleasure. 
Each element of the soul has its appropriate pleasure. 
Thus he who is governed by reason enjoys the pleasures of 
wisdom, and extols these above the pleasures derived 
from honour or from wealth, while those in whom the 
irascible, or the appetitive element is strongest, magnify 
these latter pleasures above the former. Whose judgment 
are we to take? Manifestly that of him who both pos- 
sesses the faculty of judgment and has had experience of 
all pleasures, that is, the philosopher; for he alone has 
the necessary mental qualifications, and has tasted both 
the pleasures of appetite and of honour; while the other 
two have never tasted the pleasures of knowledge. Again 

58 PLATO. 

the pleasures which spring from philosophy are the only 
pure pleasures: other pleasures are for the most part 
merely negative, consisting in a momentary release from 
pain. He that drinks only escapes the pain of thirst for 
the moment, but he who has become conscious of mental 
emptiness and feels himself replenished by instruction, is 
nourished by a food more real and true. Further even the 
inferior pleasures cannot be fully enjoyed except by one 
in whose soul reason is supreme. Thus we conclude 
that it is best for every one to be governed by the divine 
principle of reason residing in his own soul; but if not, 
that this government must be imposed upon him from 
without; that the worst of all conditions is to be unjust, 
and then to evade the penalties by which injustice might 
be cured and the soul restored to health. 

In the Tenth book Plato reverts to the subject of 
poetry and imitation, and lays down the rule that the only 
poetry allowed in the model State will be hymns in honour 
of the Gods and of virtuous men. He then introduces a 
consideration which, he says, adds tenfold force to all that 
has been urged in favour of justice, viz. the immortality of 
the soul, for which he gives the following as a new 
and additional proof. Whatever perishes, perishes in 
consequence of some particular vice or disease which 
belongs to it. If there be any thing which can withstand 
the corroding effect of its own special vice, that thing 
would be indissoluble and imperishable. The soul is 
liable to the disease of injustice, but we do not find that 
it ever dies of this disease. We must conclude therefore 
that it is imperishable. Thus, in considering the natural 
consequences of justice, we must not limit ourselves to 
this life, but must raise our eyes to the eternity beyond. 



As we have proved that justice is in itself best, we need 
no longer fear that we shall be thought to base its claim 
on mere accessories, if we view the facts as they really 
are, and confess that the just man will always be seen in 
his true character by the Gods, and will be loved and 
favoured by them, however he may seem to be neglected 
with a view to his better training in virtue in this life. 
For it is impossible, we shall say, that he whose chief 
object it is to grow like to God, should ever be really 
neglected by him whom he resembles. And as for man, 
we shall say that, in the end at any rate, justice and 
injustice will be detected and will receive their due deserts 
of honour and dishonour. And yet these rewards are 
nothing in comparison with those which await the just 
in Hades, as we gather from the story of Er, who was 
permitted to return to earth after visiting the unseen 
world, and brought back with him the report of all that 
he had witnessed there. 

In dealing with a book so pregnant and suggestive 
as the Republic, it is difficult to know where comment is 
likely to be most useful The few remarks which I am 
able to make will have reference (i) to Plato's intention 
in writing the book ; (2) to the circumstances which may 
have contributed to give it its special form and colouring ; 
(3) to the anticipations of later thought and especially of 
Christian thought which may be found in it ; (4) to the 
more striking examples of divergence between Plato and 
the prevalent views of his own or of later times. 

(i) Some have held that the object of the writer is 
fully given in the name by which the book is commonly 
known, and that whatever travels beyond political philo- 

60 PLATO. 

sophy is to be regarded as a part of the scaffolding of the 
dialogue, or put to the account of Plato's incurable love 
of rambling. Others have been equally sure that the 
model State is a mere piece of machinery for the exhi- 
bition of Justice. Others have considered that its main 
object was to put forward a new theory of Education. 
The true view is given in a sentence of the Laws, 'our 
whole State is an imitation of the best and noblest life 1 .' 
The root or foundation of this perfect life is righteousness, 
which is no spontaneous product of human nature, but 
must be fostered by careful training ; and that life cannot 
be fully manifested except in a community. 

Next follows the subordinate question, 'Did Plato 
mean his State to be a practical model, or did he mean 
it for an ideal, which might guide or suggest legislation, 
but could not be actually realized in practice?' His own 
language seems to waver ; thus, while in vi. 502 it is 
stated that it is indeed difficult to carry out this ideal, but 
certainly not impossible, if the government were in the 
hands of philosophers; in ix. 592 Socrates, in reply to 
Glaucon's remark, that such a city is not to be found on 
earth, claims no more for it than that perhaps a pattern 
of it may exist in heaven for him who wishes to behold it, 
and beholding to organize himself accordingly ; adding 
that it is of no importance whether it does now, or ever 
will, exist on earth. This double aspect of the State, in 
which it appears at one time as an improved Greek city, 
at another as the ideal society, the /3acnAia 0eou or 
civitas del, reminds one of the double meaning of Jewish 
prophecy, by which the changing fortunes of the little 

1 Leg. VII. 817 Ta<ro 17 ToXlreia ^w^trrjjKe nlp-yvcs TQV Ka\\i<rrov 

PLATO. 6 1 

Israelite kingdoms are made to bring out fresh features of 
the great Messianic idea. 

(2) The impulse which Plato received from the cir- 
cumstances of his times is partly negative, from the state 
of affairs in Athens and in Sicily, partly positive, from 
Egypt, Sparta and the Pythagorean brotherhood. To the 
natural distaste of the philosophic student for the rule of 
the unthinking Demos, there was added a distinct repro- 
bation of some of the existing customs or institutions of 
Athens, as for instance the seclusion of women, a feeling 
which seems to have been widely spread among the 
Socratic School, perhaps owing in part to the influence of 
Aspasia, and then, above all, in Plato's case, indignation 
at the ingratitude shown towards his master. If this dislike 
of the rule of the many led him at times to sigh for a 
paternal despotism, his experience in Syracuse taught 
him that there was one thing worse than an unprincipled 
democracy, and that was a selfish and unprincipled 
tyranny. In Egypt with its fixed system of castes 
and its long unbroken traditions, in Sparta with its 
Lycurgean discipline, he beheld the supremacy of Law, 
the sacrifice of the individual for the good of the whole ' ; 
in the brotherhood of Pythagoras he saw the same dis- 
cipline joined to higher and wider aims, not merely the 
attainment of order and strength in the body politic, but 
the perfection of human nature as displayed in its best 

(3) One of the most striking anticipations of later 
thought to be found in the book is the comparison 
between the constitution of the State and that of the soul, 
and the consequent building up of ethics upon the 

1 See Grote's chapter on the legislation of Lycurgus. 

62 PLATO. 

foundation of psychology. The State is a. moral unit; 
the soul is a composite being, which is then only in a 
healthy condition when each constituent element is in 
due relation with the others, and performs its proper 
functions aright. Just so Bp. Butler in his Sermons 
insists that we do not fully explain the moral nature of 
man by giving a list of its various parts or elements, but 
that it involves also certain natural relations between 
these parts ; that it is the function of reflexion or consci- 
ence to govern, and of the other elements or principles 
of man's nature to obey. Plato's psychological analysis 
is no doubt very defective. He entirely omits the bene- 
volent affections, which form the instinctive basis of 
virtue, and limits the emotional part of man's nature to 
the appetites and the sense of honour, which last how- 
ever he disguises as a quasi-malevolent affection, thus 
narrowing it down to one of its secondary developments. 
Still, here, as elsewhere, he supplied to Aristotle the 
starting-point for a more accurate analysis, and in giving 
prominence to spiritedness, or the sense of honour, as a 
main help to right actions, he has been truer to fact than 
the great majority of subsequent philosophers. The 
specification of the four so-called cardinal virtues makes 
its first appearance in Plato, who assumes it as a thing 
generally admitted, though he also endeavours, not very 
successfully, to show that it may be inferred from the 
nature of the State and of man. His conception of 
SiKauxrwTj, the will to do what is right, is too broad and 
general to justify its being placed on a level with the 
other more specific virtues. In this sense it really 
includes them all ; for, if reason performs rightly its work 
of thinking and governing, the man will be wise and 

PLA TO. 63 

prudent ; if the spirited element does its part, he will not 
only be courageous but will exhibit in all his actions a 
'proud submission' to the voice of reason ; if the appe- 
tites work rightly, they will supply all natural wants 
without overstepping the line of honour and of right. 
Proceeding to the consideration of the State itself, the 
idea of a community which is to realize before the eyes 
of men the pattern of heavenly perfection, to develop 
and strengthen all virtue in its citizens, and to guard 
them from the pernicious influences to which man's ordi- 
nary life is exposed 1 such a conception has naturally been 
looked upon as an anticipation of the Church : and the 
principle so often insisted on, that the Guardians are not 
to think of their own happiness but to sacrifice them- 
selves for their subjects, as the good shepherd sacrifices 
himself for his sheep* this naturally recalls the words of 
the Gospel, contrasting the duties of the Christian governor 
with the claims made by those who exercise lordship 
among the Gentiles. Even the strange aberrations of 
the fifth book, describing the communism of the Guardians, 
might seem like broken visions of the future, when we 
think of the first disciples who had all things in common, 
and, in later days, of the celibate clergy, and the cloisteral 
life of the religious orders. Of social and political prin- 
ciples or institutions first enunciated or advocated by 
Plato, though in part suggested by the practice of Sparta, 
we may notice the division of labour, and, as a conse- 
quence of this, the establishment of a standing army, the 
recognition of the equality of the sexes, the duty of 
national education for the young, and of self-education 

1 Rep. vi. 491. 
8 ! 345. IV - 4*o. 

64 PLATO. 

continued through life for the philosopher, the limitation 
of wealth and of population, the abolition of an idle 
class. In the rules laid down for education the most 
noticeable points are the importance attached to the 
early training of the feelings and the imagination by 
means of fictitious narratives, and the strict censorship 
over religious and moral instruction. The great principle 
is laid down that, God being perfectly good, all teaching 
which represents him as doing wrong, or as the cause of 
evil, or as capable of change, must be forbidden as false 
and injurious. Similarly with regard to the use of Art : it 
is only admissible where it tends to produce a high and 
noble temper in the citizens : immoral or enfeebling 
art, like immoral or enfeebling religion, is to be expelled 
from the state. There is much that is interesting in the 
details of the Platonic education, in regard to which 
I would refer the reader to Mr Nettleship's excellent 
paper contained in the volume entitled ' Hellenica. ' 
But beyond all special details, the great, the surpassing 
merit of the Republic lies in its power to kindle a 
love of the ideal, to make a man ashamed of preferring 
lower pleasures to higher, or of living only for himself 
or for his own pleasure, instead of living and working 
for the general good. Plato gives him the spirit to 
strive after this, because he encourages him to believe 
in the existence of an unseen world of beauty and of 
goodness, to which he of right belongs, however much he 
may have fallen from it ; he tells him that he may be 
converted from low and earthly thoughts and aims, and 
be enabled to hold communion with the Divine essence 
even here by the help of philosophy ; that life should be 
a commentatio mortis, and that he who perseveres in the 

PL A TO. 65 

practice of justice and the pursuit of wisdom will here- 
after be readmitted to that august assembly, and dwell in 
heaven with the Gods and with the wise and just of all 
ages. It is not to be wondered at that, when they 
met with teaching like this, some of the Christian 
Fathers should have thought that Plato must have 
learnt his wisdom from the Bible, or on the other 
hand that Celsus should have charged the Evangelists 
with borrowing from Plato 1 . 

(4) Our last point is what may be called the eccen- 
tricity of Plato. Many of his doctrines were regarded as 
paradoxes in his own day and have now become common- 
places, such as, that it is better to suffer than to do 
wrong, better for the wrong-doer to be detected and 
suffer punishment than to escape. Other paradoxes we 
are perhaps on the way to accept. But there are some 
which are more shocking to the improved feeling of the 
present day than they were when first uttered. A flagrant 
example is the communism of the Guardians, of which 
Mr Jowett writes 'the most important transaction of 
social life, he who is the idealist philosopher converts 
into the most brutal. The married pair are to have no 
relation to each other except at the hymeneal festival, 
their children are not theirs but the State's, nor is any tie 
of affection to unite them. Yet here his own illustration 
from the animal kingdom might have saved Plato from a 
gigantic error. For the nobler sort of birds and beasts 
nourish and protect their offspring and are faithful to one 
another.' The explanation is that women in Athens 

1 See Ackermann, Das Christliche im Plato, p. 3 foil., and Havet 
Le Christianisme et Les Origines, I. 203 foil. The view taken by 
the latter is that of a modern Celsus. 

M. P. C 

66 PLATO. 

at that time were much in the position of Turkish women 
at the present day. Rome had still to teach the world 
that the true nursery of patriotism is the Family ; and 
neither Plato nor any other Greek, unless perchance 
Euripides, could form any conception of what marriage 
was destined to become when the proud patriotism of 
the Roman matron was softened and idealized under the 
combined influence of Christianity and Teutonism. The 
romance of affection, so far as it existed, was perverted 
into an unnatural channel by that evil custom which had 
run through Greek society like a plague; and the glamour 
of this romance was powerful enough to blind even a 
Plato in some degree to the foulness which it covered. It 
is only in his last dialogue, the Laws, that he seems to 
have discovered its true character and speaks with just 
severity of its enormity 1 . Marriage in Athens was com- 
monly arranged as a mere matter of business with a view 
to private aggrandisement; Plato made it still more a 
matter of business, but with him the gain sought was a 
public one, the improvement of the breed of citizens. The 
chief motive, however, which led him to abolish family life 
was his fear of the unity of the State being dissolved by 
separate interests ; he thought that these interests would 
disappear if none could speak of wife or child or property 
as his own. Aristotle in his criticism has shown how little 
such mechanical rules would answer the purpose intended 2 . 

1 Compare the difference of tone in Rep. v. 468 and Laws vill. 

1 There can be no doubt that Plato's regulations in regard to 
marriage, like those in regard to the bodily training of women, were 
in part suggested by the customs of Sparta; where, as Grote says, 
' the two sexes were perpetually intermingled in public, in a way 
foreign to the habits, as well as repugnant to the feelings, of other 

PLATO. 67 

My space does not allow me to treat of the other 
stumbling-blocks of the Republic, the expulsion of 
poets, the principle that philosophers must reign : for 
all such I must refer the reader to the excellent discussion 
prefixed to Mr Jowett's translation. 

I proceed now to give examples of Plato's different 
styles. An analysis of the argument of the first book of 
the Republic may suffice for his Dialectic. 

This book serves as an introduction to the rest by 
raising the various difficulties which are to be solved 
afterwards, or by distinguishing various moral stand- 
points existing in Athens at the time. Thus the aged 
Cephalus represents the simple pre-scientific morality of 
old times; he has a sure instinct of what is right and 
wrong in action but has never attempted to theorize 
about them. His son Polemarchus has advanced a step 
further, he is ready with a definition of justice taken 
from Simonides, and is glad to discuss it with Socrates. 
Thrasymachus is the representative of the new lights 
to whom the old-fashioned morality and old-fashioned 

Grecian states. ' ' The age of marriage was deferred by law until 
the period supposed to be most consistent with the perfection of 
the offspring.' ' The bride seems to have continued to reside with 
her family, visiting her husband in his barrack in the disguise of 
male attire and on short and stolen occasions. ' ' To bring together 
the finest couples was regarded by the citizens as desirable, and 
by the lawgiver as a duty : no personal feeling or jealousy on the 
part of the husband found sympathy from any one, and he permitted 
without difficulty, sometimes actively encouraged, compliances on 
the part of his wife consistent with this generally acknowledged 
object. So far was such toleration carried that there were some 
married women who were recognized mistresses of two houses and 
mothers of two distinct families.' Hist, of Greece II., p. 509 foil. 


68 PLATO. 

maxims are mere ridiculous prejudices: the fetters im- 
posed by tradition have been broken by reason; man 
should be guided by nature and not by law, and nature 
bids him enjoy himself. Lastly in the second book we 
have the 'third thoughts' of the two Socratics, the doubt 
whether reason and nature may not after all be nearer to 
the old traditional, than to the new enlightened view; 
and the remaining books, as we have seen, are employed 
in proving that such is the case. 

The points raised in the remarks of Cephalus are (i) 
in reference to the nature of happiness: it is not mere 
sensual enjoyment, but rather the calmness which arises 
from the subjection of the senses 1 ; not the wealth which 
enables a man to gratify his desires, but the peace which 
arises from the harmony of the inner nature; (2) as to 
the connexion of justice and happiness; the unjust are 
filled with remorseful fears of judgment to come, the just 
have hope in their end; (3) as to the definition of justice; 
it is to speak the truth and repay what is owed. 

When the critical process is to begin, the repre- 
sentative of the unconscious morality leaves the stage, 
and his place is taken by Polemarchus. It having been 
already shown that it is not always just to give back what 
is owed (e.g. in the case of a madman's sword), the 
definition is slightly modified and confirmed by the 
authority of Simonides. It now stands thus: 

'Justice is to restore to each man his due.' 

What then is due? 

'Good to friends, harm to enemies.' 

But if we try this definition by facts, we shall not find 
that it is justice to which we attribute the rendering of 

1 P- 3 2 9- 

PLA TO. 69 

good and evil, but now one art, now another, e. g. in disease 
the art of medicine. It seems therefore that the defini- 
tion requires limitation. What due thing then is it which 
justice renders back, and to whom? 

'Justice renders good to friends, harm to enemies, in 
war,' to which the following additions are made in course 
of the argument : 

'and in peace also,' 
'viz. in partnerships,' 

'i.e. money-partnerships,' 

'for keeping money safe.' 

To which final definition Socrates replies that (i) it 
makes justice useless, (2) that it implies ingenuity in 
stealing (on the principle of 'set a thief to catch a thief) 
and is therefore unjust. 

[To examine this piece of 'dialectic': it is evident that the 
definition of Simonides is too objective, not based upon the character 
or the intention of the just man, but on the thing performed. 
Polemarchus' mistake is that he conceives justice throughout in the 
early Socratic manner, as an art, not as a habit. He is willing to 
have it compared with cookery or medicine, and does not see that it 
is not parallel with these, but a habit of the mind which must show 
itself in every act. If it is assumed to be an art, it is easy to prove 
that there is really no place left for it, that every department of 
human action has its own special art, and that the kind of action 
singled out as most distinctively just will be either mere inactivity, 
something best performed by an infrangible iron safe, or a thorough 
acquaintance with the tricks of thieves, and quickwittedness in 
devising expedients to meet them ; but such a science, as it fits a 
man for attack as much as for defence, has no more right to be 
called the science of justice than of injustice. 1 ] 

Returning to the original definition, Socrates asks 

1 Cf. Arist. Eth. V. i. 4. 5uva/ju$ iced eirwr^ju.ij SOKCITUV tvavrltav 
j} cuJrTj elccu, eu 5^ i] tvavrla. T&V tvavrluv off' olov dvb rrjs v 

(HU TpO.TTTCU. TO, tvOVTlo., tt\\a TO. VfielVO. fJ-OVOV. 

70 PLATO. 

what is to be understood by 'friends'. Does it mean 
'those whom a man thinks honest and good'? Then, 
since we do not always think aright, it may be just to 
help the bad and injure the good. Does it mean 'those 
who are really just, whether we think so or not'? Then 
it may be just to injure those whom we call our friends 
and to benefit those whom we call our enemies, reversing 
the original definition. Thus we arrive at the amended 
definition ; 

'Justice is to help friends, if good, injure enemies, if 

Here Socrates lays hold of another point. Is it 
consistent with justice to injure, to do harm? Harm, in 
its true sense, means degrading a man in a moral point 
of view, making him less just, less righteous. Can it 
be the part of righteousness to make a man less right- 

[This high view of what is beneficial and what is harmful recurs 
in p. 379, where it is shown that God harms none. He may punish 
and inflict pain, but it is only to bring out good in the end. Man 
has no right to harm for the sake of harming. This is the opposite 
of the old Greek view that the true manly character was shown in 
the power and will to favour friends and injure enemies.] 

Polemarchus being silenced, Thrasymachus brings 
forward a new definition, 

'Justice is the interest of the stronger ; 
i. e. of the sovereign power in the state.' 

' It is just for the subject to obey his ruler and to act 
for his ruler's interest.' 

How then, if the ruler enjoins what is not for his own 
interest? Then the act will be just by one part of the 
definition, unjust by the other. 

PLATO. 71 

Amended definition (i) 'What the stronger imagines 
to be for his interest is just.' 

Amended definition (2) 'Justice is obedience to the 
true governor who always enjoins what is for his interest.' 

But the true governor is one who practises the art of 
government unmixed with other arts, who is in fact an 
impersonation of the art. Now, is the notion of self- 
interest involved in the art? Compare the pilot's art, the 
physician's art; they may be combined with other arts, 
but nothing is essential to them beyond the healing of 
the sick and the management of the vessel. The art 
simply exercises an oversight over that to which as an art 
it belongs; but the art is stronger than that which it 
oversees; therefore the art provides for the interest of the 
weaker, and the true governor, who personifies the art, 
will accordingly act not for his own interest, but for the 
interest of his subjects, who are the weaker 1 . 

Thrasymachus brings forward an instance on his side; 
'why should the ruler, the TTOI/^I/ Xatav, regard the interest 
of his people in any other light than the shepherd does 
that of his sheep?' and then lays down broadly the 
principle that 

'Justice is one's own loss, another's gain; injustice 
one's own gain, another's loss.' 

' This may be most clearly seen in the complete in- 
justice of the tyrant, whom all count happy and enviable ; 
though they profess to blame injustice on a small scale, 
because they are afraid of suffering it.' 

Socrates begins by disputing Thrasymachus' illustra- 
tion, and points out that Thrasymachus is here deserting 

1 This argument is used by Aristotle Pol. in. 6. 

72 PLATO. 

his former ground, describing not the true shepherd, but 
the banqueter or money-maker. If we confine our 
attention to the art of government, we shall see that it 
cannot be itself profitable to the governor, because no 
one will undertake it without a bribe. The bargaining 
for this bribe belongs to a special art, the art of wages ; it 
is no more a function of government, than piloting is a 
function of medicine ; yet a man may recover his health 
by acting as pilot, just as he might get wages by govern- 
ing. The governor would not be less a governor if he 
chose to perform his work gratuitously. As regards the 
kind of wages offered to induce men to devote their time 
to study the interests of others in governing them, they 
are usually paid either in money or honour, or the motive 
appealed to may be the fear of being misgoverned by 
others. If it were not for the last motive the best men 
would prefer to remain subjects, and thus receive, instead 
of bestowing, benefit. 

Thrasymachus reasserts that perfect injustice is more 
profitable than perfect justice, the former being good 
policy, the latter at best a weak good-nature. Socrates 
on the other hand proceeds to argue that justice is 
knowledge, injustice ignorance. For the just man is one 
who sets limits to his actions, who will never overstep the 
bounds of justice, or seek to get more than a just man 
should. On the other hand the unjust observes no 
limits, but seeks to gratify every impulse and to get as 
much as he can. Which of the two is the scientific 
character? In the case of the musician and physician it 
is shown that the scientific are distinguished from the 
ignorant by this very property of attending to rules, not 
overstepping the bounds laid down by the masters of the 



science. In like manner the just man must be scientific 
as compared with the unjust. 

[The argument turns on the thoroughly Greek conception of the 
superiority of the limited to the unlimited, the defined to the un- 
defined, vipa.* to aireipov. Aristotle made limitation, or the avoidance 
of extremes, a part of his definition of virtue.] 

Socrates then proceeds to overthrow the assertion 

'Injustice is stronger than justice' 

by showing that if an unjust city is strong, it can only be 
so on the principle of 'honour among thieves/ some 
remnant of justice in its internal relations. If the citizens 
are unjust to each other, if they illtreat and oppress one 
another, there can be no unity and therefore no strength. 
In like manner, if injustice exists in an individual, it must 
destroy all inward concord, and so make him half-hearted 
and irresolute in action ; he becomes an enemy to 
himself and to the Gods and all just men. The same 
argument will overthrow the remaining assertion of 
Thrasymachus, viz. that 

'Injustice is happier than justice.' 

But this is also shown to be false from a consideration 
of the nature of virtue. The soul, like the eye or ear or 
anything else, has a special work or function to perform, 
and can only perform that work aright if possessed of the 
fitting quality or virtue. The function of the soul is life 
and thought, the virtue of the soul is justice ; a just soul 
will live well, an unjust soul will live ill. But living well 
is happiness, living ill misery. Therefore justice is shown 
to be more profitable than injustice, being wiser, stronger 
and happier, as well as better. 

Then follows in the second book the argument of 

74 PLATO. 

Glaucon, which we will give in Professor Jowett's abstract 
slightly altered, as an example of Plato's expository 

'To do injustice is said to be a good; to suffer in- 
justice an evil. As the evil is discovered by experience 
to be greater than the good, the sufferers make a com- 
pact that they will have neither, and this compact or 
mean is called justice, but is really the incapacity to do 
injustice. No one would observe such a compact if he 
were not obliged. Let us suppose that the just and 
unjust had two rings, like that of Gyges in the well- 
known story, which made them invisible ; then no dif- 
ference would appear in them, for every one does evil 
if he can, and he who abstained would be regarded by 
the world as a fooL Men may praise him in public 
out of fear for themselves, but they will laugh in their 
hearts. And now let us frame an ideal of the just and 
unjust. Imagine the unjust man to be master of his 
craft, seldom making mistakes and easily correcting 
them : having gifts of money, speech, strength the 
greatest villain bearing the highest character : and at his 
side let us place the just in his nobleness and simplicity, 
being, not seeming, without name or reward, clothed in 
his justice only, the best of men, but thought to be the 
worst, and let him die as he has lived. The just man will 
then be scourged, racked, bound, and at last crucified ; 
and all this because he ought to have preferred seeming 
to being. How different is the case of the unjust, who 
clings to appearance as the true reality ! His high cha- 
racter makes him a ruler ; he can marry where he likes, 
trade where he likes, help his friends and hurt his 
enemies ; having got rich by dishonesty, he can worship 

PLATO. 75 

the Gods better, and will therefore be more loved by 
them than the just.' 

Adeimantus adds further arguments to the same effect 
and concludes as follows : 

'The origin of the evil is that all men from the 
beginning have always asserted the honours, profits, 
expediencies of justice. Had they been taught in early 
youth the power of justice and injustice inherent in the 
soul, and unseen by any human or divine eye, they 
would not have needed others to be their guardians, but 
every one would have been the guardian of himself. 
And this is what I want you to show, Socrates : other 
men use arguments which rather tend to strengthen the 
position of Thrasymachus that might is right ; but from 
you I expect better things. And please to exclude 
reputation ; let the just be thought unjust and the unjust 
just, and do you still prove to us the superiority of 

I add four other specimens of Plato's expository 
style taken, the ist from the Symposium p. 210, on the 
love of Ideal Beauty; the 2nd from the Laws v p. 
731, on Selfishness; the 3rd also from the Laws x 
p. 87, on Atheism; the 4th from the Phaedo p. 85, 
on the need of a Revelation. The translations are 
borrowed with slight alterations from Professor JowetL 
The Love of Ideal Beauty. 

'He who has been instructed thus far in the things of 
love and who has learned to see the beautiful in due 
order and succession, when he comes towards the end 
will suddenly perceive a nature of wondrous beauty; a 
nature which in the first place is everlasting, not growing 
and decaying, or waxing and waning; in the next place, 

76 PLATO. 

not fair in one point of view and foul in another, or fair to 
some and foul to others, or in the likeness of a face or 
hands or any other part of the bodily frame, or in any 
form of speech or knowledge, or existing in any other 
being; but beauty absolute and simple, which, without 
diminution and without increase or any change, is im- 
parted to the ever growing and perishing beauties of all 
other things. He who under the influence of true love, 
rising upwards from these, begins to see that beauty, is 
not far from the end. And the true order of ascent is to 
use the beauties of earth as steps along which he mounts 
upwards for the sake of that other beauty ; going from 
one to two, and from two to all beautiful forms, and 
from beautiful forms to beautiful exercises, and from the 
performance of beautiful exercises to the learning of 
beautiful ideas, until at last he arrives at the end of all 
learning, the Idea of Beauty itself and knows what the 
essence of Beauty really is. "This, my dear Socrates," 
said Diotima, "is the life which is truly worth living, 
when a man has attained to the contemplation of 
beauty absolute ; a beauty which if you once beheld, you 
would see not to be after the measure of gold, and 
garments, and that youthful beauty, whose presence now 
entrances you so, that you and many a one would be 
content to live, seeing only and conversing with those 
whom they love, without meat and drink if that were 
possible ; you want only to be with them and look at 
them. But what, if a man had eyes to behold the true 
beauty, the divine beauty, I mean, pure and clear and 
unalloyed, not clogged with the pollutions of mortality, 
and all the colours and vanities of human life? Do you 
not see that in that communion only, beholding beauty 



with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring 
forth, not images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold 
not of an image, but of a reality), and bringing forth and 
nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God, and 
be immortal, if mortal man may ? " 

'The greatest evil to men generally is one which is 
innate in their souls, and which a man is always excusing 
in himself and never correcting; I mean what is ex- 
pressed in the saying, that every man by nature is and 
ought to be his own friend. Whereas the excessive love 
of self is in reality the source to each man of all offences; 
for the lover is blinded about the beloved, so that he 
judges wrongly of the just, the good, and the honourable, 
and thinks that he ought always to prefer his own in- 
terest to the truth. But he who would be a great man 
ought to regard what is just, and not himself or his 
interests, whether in his own actions or those of others. 
Through a similar error men are induced to fancy that 
their own ignorance is wisdom ; and thus we, who may be 
truly said to know nothing, think that we know all things; 
and because we will not let others act for us in what we do 
not know, we are compelled to act amiss ourselves. 
Wherefore let every man avoid excess of self-love, and 
condescend to follow a better man than himself, not allow- 
ing any false shame to stand in the way.' 

'Who can be calm when he is called upon to prove 
the existence of the Gods ? How can one help feeling 
indignation at those who will not believe the words they 
have heard as babes and sucklings from their mothers 
and nurses, words repeated by them like charms both in 

7 8 PLATO. 

earnest and in jest ; who have also heard and seen their 
parents offering up sacrifices and prayers sights and 
sounds delightful to children, sacrificing, I say, with all 
earnestness on behalf of them and of themselves, and 
communing with the Gods in vows and supplications as 
though they were firmly convinced of their existence ; 
who likewise see and hear the genuflexions and pros- 
trations which are made at the rising and setting of the 
sun and moon both by Greeks and barbarians in all the 
various turns of good and evil fortune, not as if they 
thought that there were no Gods, but as if there could be 
no doubt of their existence, and no suspicion of their 
non-existence ; if men know all these things, and with- 
out reason disregard them, how is it possible in gentle 
terms to remonstrate with them, when one has to begin 
by proving to them the very existence of the Gods? 
Yet the attempt must be made, for it would be unseemly 
that one half of mankind should go mad in their lust of 
pleasure, and the other half in righteous indignation at 
them. Our address to these lost and perverted natures 
should not be spoken in passion; let us suppose our- 
selves to select some one of them, and gently to reason 
with him, smothering our anger : O my son, we will say 
to him, you are young, and the advance of time will make 
you reverse many of the opinions which you now hold. 
Wait therefore, until the time comes, and do not attempt 
to judge of high matters at present; and that is the 
highest of all of which you now think nothing to know 
the Gods rightly and to live accordingly. And in the 
first place let me indicate to you one point which is of 
great importance, and of the truth of which I am quite 
certain : you and your friends are not the first who have 



held this opinion about the Gods. There have always 
been persons more or less numerous who have had the 
same disorder. I have known many of them, and can 
tell you, that no one who had taken up in youth this 
opinion, that the Gods do not exist, ever continued in 
the same till he was old. The two other notions certainly 
do continue in some cases, but not in many ; the notion 
I mean, that the Gods exist, but take no heed of human 
beings, and the notion that they do take heed of them, but 
are easily propitiated' with offerings and prayers. Now, 
if you will take my advice, you will continue to examine 
whether the opinion which might seem to you to have 
been established to the best of your power, is really true 
or not, asking help both of others and above all of the 
legislator. And meanwhile beware of committing any 
impiety against the Gods'. After this prelude the speaker 
proceeds to give a proof of theism from the essential and 
necessary priority of mind to matter, and from the move- 
ments of the heavenly bodies. 

A ''divine word' needed to dispel the darkness of the future. 

Simmias and Cebes are not quite satisfied with the 
grounds alleged by Socrates for his belief in the im- 
mortality of the soul, but they shrink from saying any- 
thing which could disturb the serenity of his last hours. 
Socrates encourages them to speak fearlessly, since his 
patron, Apollo, has granted to him that same foretaste of 
future blessedness, which makes the dying swan burst 
forth into its hymn of praise. Simmias, thus encouraged, 
excuses his own hardness of belief in the following 

1 By 'propitiation' here, as in the 2nd book of the Republic^ 
Plato means the supposed power, on the part of an unrepentant 
sinner, to avert the Divine wrath by votive offerings. 

8o PLA TO. 

words: 'I do not doubt, Socrates, that you are as fully 
convinced as we are of the impossibility, or at least the 
extreme difficulty, of arriving at actual certainty in regard 
to these matters, whilst we are on earth. Still you would 
justly blame our faint-heartedness, if we desisted from 
the search for truth, before we had tried every possible 
means of attaining it. You would tell us that, if a man 
has failed to learn the truth from another, or to discover 
it for himself, it is his duty at any rate to find the 
best and most irrefragable of human words, and trusting 
himself to this, as to a raft, to set forth on the hazardous 
voyage of life, unless it were possible to find a surer and 
less dangerous way on board a stronger vessel, some 
word of God V 

I conclude with one example of Plato's allegorical 
style, the famous simile of the Cave from the Seventh 
book of the Republic. 

'Imagine human beings living in a sort of under- 
ground den which has a mouth wide open towards 
the light: they have been there from childhood and, 
having their necks and legs chained, can only see 
before them. At a distance there is a fire, and between 
the fire and the prisoners a raised way, and a low wall 
built along the way, like that over which marionette 
players show their puppets. Above the wall are seen 
moving figures, who hold in their hands various works of 
art, and among them figures of men and animals, wood 
and stone, and some of the passers-by are talking and 

1 rbv yovv f$f\Turrov rwr avBpdnflvuv 
tXeytcrfyraTor, irl TOVTOV 6~)(ovfji(vov y uffirep 
5iair\(vcrai rbv (3iov, (I fir) T:S dvvairo a<r(f>a 
irl fiefiaiOTtpov oxy/Mro?, \6yov Oflov Tu>t>s, 

PLATO. 8 1 

others silent. The captives see nothing but the shadows 
which the fire throws on the wall of the cave ; to these 
they give names; and, if we add an echo which returns 
from the wall, the voices of the passengers will seem to 
proceed from the shadows. Suppose now that you sud- 
denly turn them round and make them look with pain 
and grief to themselves at the real images ; will they be- 
lieve them to be real ? Will not their eyes be dazzled, and 
will they not try to get away from the light to something 
which they are able to behold without blinking? And 
suppose further, that they are dragged up a steep and 
rugged ascent into the presence of the sun himself, will 
not their sight be darkened with excess of light ? Some 
time will pass before they get the habit of perceiving at 
all; and at first they will be able to perceive only 
shadows and reflexions in the water; then they will 
recognize the moon and the stars, and will at length be- 
hold the sun in his own proper place as he is. Last of all 
they will conclude : This is he who gives us the year and 
the seasons, and is the author of all that we see. How will 
they rejoice in passing from darkness to light ! How 
worthless to them will seem the honours and glories of 
the den or cave out of which they came ! And now 
imagine further that they descend into their old habita- 
tions. In that underground dwelling they will not see as 
well as their fellows, and will not be able to compete 
with them in the measurement of the shadows on the 
wall ; there will be many jokes about the man who went 
on a visit to the sun and lost his eyes; and if those 
imprisoned there find any one trying to set free and 
enlighten one of their number, they will put him to death 
if they can catch him. 

M. p. 6 

<$2 PLATO. 

Now in this allegory, the cave or den is the world 
of sight, the fire is the sun, the way upwards is the way 
to knowledge; and in the world of knowledge the Idea of 
Good is last seen and with difficulty, but, when seen, is 
inferred to be the author of good and right, parent of the 
lord of light in this world and of truth and understanding 
in the other. He who attains to the beatific vision is 
always going upwards; he is unwilling to descend into 
political assemblies and courts of law; for his eyes are 
apt to blink at the images or shadows of images which 
they behold in them ; he cannot enter into the ideas ot 
those who have never in their lives understood the 
relation of the shadow to the substance. Now blindness 
is of two kinds, and may be caused either by passing out 
of darkness into light, or out of light into darkness, and 
a man of sense will distinguish between them, and the 
blindness which arises from fulness of light he will deem 
blessed, and pity the other. There is a further lesson 
taught by this parable of ours. Some persons fancy that 
instruction is like giving eyes to the blind, but we say 
that the faculty of sight was always there, and that the 
soul only requires to be turned round towards the light. 
And this is conversion : other virtues are not innate but 
acquired by exercise like bodily habits ; but intelligence 
has a diviner life and is indestructible, turning either to 
good or evil according to the direction given. Did you 
never observe how the mind of a clever rogue peers out of 
his eyes, and the more clearly he sees, the more evil he 
does ? Now, if you take such an one and cut away from 
him the leaden weights which drag him down and keep the 
eye of the soul fixed on the ground, the same faculty in 
him will be turned round, and he will behold the truth as 


clearly as he now discerns his meaner ends. And have we 
not decided that our rulers must neither be so uneducated 
as to have no fixed rule of life, nor so over-educated as to be 
unwilling to leave their paradise for the business of the 
world ? While we must choose out the natures who are 
most likely to ascend to the light and knowledge of the 
good, we must not allow them to remain in that region of 
light, but must force them to descend again among the 
captives in the den to partake of their labours and 
honours. Nor is this unjust to them, for our purpose in 
framing the State was not that our citizens should do 
what they like, but that they should serve the State for 
the common good of all. May we not fairly say to the 
philosopher: In other states philosophy grows wild, and a 
wild plant owes nothing to the gardener, but you we have 
trained to be the rulers of our hive, and therefore we 
must insist on your descending into the darkness of the 
den ? You must each of you take your turn and become 
able to use your eyes in the dark, and with a little 
practice you will see far better than those who quarrel 
about the shadows, whose knowledge is a dream only, 
whilst yours is a waking reality. It may be that the 
saint or philosopher, who is best fitted, may also be the 
least inclined to rule, but necessity is laid upon him, 
and he must no longer live in the heaven of ideas. And 
this will be the salvation of the State.' 

Aristotle 'the master of the wise,' according to the 
great poet of the Middle Ages, the tyrant of the schools, 
and champion of the Obscurantists, according to Bacon 
and the Renaissance, was born at Stagira, a Greek colony 
in Thrace, in the year 385 B.C. He came to Athens in 



his iyth year and studied under Plato for twenty years. 
On Plato's death in 347 B.C. he went with Xenocrates to 
reside at the court of his former pupil Hermias, the ruler 
of the Mysian cities of Assos and Atarneus. On the 
overthrow and death of Hermias in 344, he retired 
to Mitylene, from whence he was invited in 342 by 
Philip, King of Macedon, to superintend the education 
of his son Alexander, then a boy of 13. When Alexander 
set out on his Persian expedition in 335 B.C. Aristotle 
returned to Athens and taught in the Lyceum. As he 
lectured while walking his disciples were called Peripa- 
tetics 1 . On the death of Alexander, Aristotle left Athens 
to escape from a charge of impiety, 'desiring', as he 
said, 'to save the Athenians from sinning a second 
time against philosophy', and settled at Chalcis in 
Euboea, where he died 322 B.C. 

It is worth while to pause and reflect for a moment 
on the succession here brought before us; Alexander the 
disciple of Aristotle, the disciple of Plato, the disciple of 
Socrates. That four such names, each supreme in his 
own line, should have been thus linked together, is a fact 
unparalleled in the history of the world ; and its momentous 
nature is seen in its consequences, the Hellenizing of 
East and West by the sword of Alexander and by the 
writings of Plato and Aristotle. The work of Alexander 
might perhaps have been done by a meaner instrument, 
but without the 'great twin brethren' the whole course of 
human development must have been different. Science, 
Law, Philosophy, Theology, owe their present form and 
almost their existence to them. When Plato, griev- 

1 The form shows that the word is derived from vepnraTtu not 
from irepiiraroj. 


ing over the helplessness and the isolation of the solitary 
thinker, sighed for a philosophic governor to carry out 
his ideas in action, he little dreamt that he was laying 
the foundation of a spiritual kingdom which was to em- 
brace the whole of the civilized world. Then again, 
reflect on what is meant by twenty years of philosophic 
intercourse between a Plato and an Aristotle. Zeller has 
conclusively shown the falsehood of various scandalous 
anecdotes in which the latter is represented as guilty, 
among other faults, of disrespect and ingratitude towards 
his master. On the contrary there seems every reason to 
believe that tradition has preserved the spirit, if not the 
precise facts, of the relationship between them, when it 
attributes to Plato the saying that 'Aristotle was the 
intellect of his school' (vovs TT;S Siarpi/^s), and to Aris- 
totle the epitaph in which Plato is described as 'one 
whom it would be profanity in a bad man even to praise' 
(avSpos, ov ovS' aiveiv TOUTI KaKoicrj. Oe/J.L<i). No wonder 
that the mind of the disciple became to such a degree 
saturated with the thoughts of his master that, in the words 
of Sir A. Grant, 'almost every page of Aristotle's Logical, 
Rhetorical, Ethical, Political and Metaphysical writings 
bears traces of a relation to some part or other of Plato's 
dialogues 1 .' 

But though it would hardly be going too far to say 
that Aristotle's philosophy, setting aside his Logic and 
Natural History, was, in the main, little more than an 
expansion and elaboration of the guesses and hints of 
Plato ; though the groundwork of the two systems is the 
same, yet nothing can be more dissimilar than the im- 
pressions produced by the writings of the two men. The 

1 Ethics of Aristotle, Vol. I. p. 180. 


vague mysticism, the high poetic imagination, the reform- 
ing and revolutionary tendencies of the master, were 
altogether alien to the scholar. While Plato's aim was 
to modify or reform existing fact or opinion by the stan- 
dard of the idea in his own mind, Aristotle's aim is to 
correct and develop the idea, which he usually accepts 
from Plato, by a reference to existing fact or opinion 1 . 
While Plato is overpowered by the sense of a sur- 
rounding infinity, which the intellect of man is powerless 
to grasp, but to which it is nevertheless drawn by an 
irresistible attraction; while he appears oppressed by 
the consciousness of the necessary incompleteness of all 
human knowledge, and seeks rather to throw new lights 
on the various objects of thought, than to bring them 
under fixed and definite formularies; Aristotle on the 
contrary cared only for what is clear, precise, defined, 
and made it his chief aim to map out the whole of 
existing knowledge in definite compartments and to 
sum up results in technical formulas of universal ap- 
plication. Probably one reason for his popularity in 
the Middle Ages was the almost magical virtue which 
he thus appears to attribute to formulas. Corresponding 
with this difference in tone and feeling is the difference 
of style : there is an inimitable charm and grace in almost 
every sentence of Plato, but Aristotle, of set purpose, 
adopts a style which is, for the most part, as dry and 
unadorned as Euclid, though perhaps we may be dis- 

1 See Ethics^ x. 8, ffVfufxavfiv TOIJ \6yois tolKaviv al rwv ffo<p&v 
56tu. vUrTiv ntv oZv K<d rd. roiavra ?x ei TIVO, rb 5* d\ijds tv rots 
H-pa/CTOts tic T&V fpyuv KO.I TOV filov Kplverai' tv Tourots yap TO Kvpiov. 
ffKoveiv dr} TO. irpofipij(di>a \p-q M TO. fpya Kcd TOV ftiov tirt<f>tpovra.s, 
leal <Tvvy.56i>T(i)v fj^v TOIS fyyots diroSeKTfov, 5ia.<t>wvovvT<ai> $2 Xuyous 


posed to think, as we study his writings more carefully, 
that no other style could have given so strong an impres- 
sion of the earnest truthfulness and the philosophic calm of 
the author 1 . For a further account of the relation between 
them, I borrow again from Sir Alexander Grant. 

'While Aristotle is far more scientific, he is wanting 
in the moral earnestness, the tenderness, and the enthusi- 
asm of Plato... On the other hand he is more safe than 
Plato. He is quite opposed to anything unnatural (such 
as communism) in life or institutions... And on all ques- 
tions he endeavours to put himself in harmony with the 
opinions of the multitude, to which he thinks a certain 
validity must be ascribed' (p. 215). 'Plato's rich and 
manifold contributions to logic, psychology, metaphysics, 
ethics, and natural religion, were too much scattered up 
and down in his works, too much overlaid by conversa- 
tional prolixity, too much coloured by poetry or wit, 
sometimes too subtly or slightly indicated, to be readily 
available for the world in general, and they thus required 
a process of codification. Aristotle with the greatest 
gifts for the analytic systematizing of philosophy that 
have ever been seen, unconsciously applied himself to the 
required task' (p. 181.) 

Thus Plato's Dialectic method was developed by 
Aristotle into the strict technical science of Logic: Plato's 
Ideas, though shorn of their separate supra-mundane 
existence, still survived in the Aristotelian Form, as 
opposed to Matter. Aristotle distinguished three move- 
ments or aspects of the former, and, by adding to these 
the antagonistic principle of Matter, he arrived at his 

1 For a more unfavourable view of Aristotle's style, see Cope, 
Introduction to Aristotle's Rhetoric, p. 132. 


famous classification of the four Causes, the strictly 
formal (eTSos, TO TI yv etvcu 1 , ij TTpw-rrj ou<rta), the material 
(vXv}, TO v7roKi/ivov, TO e of), the efficient (TO KLVOVV, TO 
u</> ou), the final (T\OS, TO ov /e/ca), which are really four 
kinds of antecedent conditions required for the existence 
of each thing. For instance, in order to the production 
of a marble statue by Phidias there is needed (i) the 
pre-existence in his own mind of the ideal form which 
is subsequently impressed upon the stone; (2) the 
existence of the stone; (3) the act of carving; (4) the 
motive which induced the sculptor to make the statue, as 
for instance the desire to do honour to the God whose 
statue it is. Or again, we may illustrate Aristotle's 
doctrine on this point, and shew how the three aspects of 

1 This curious phrase, applying most properly to the creative 
idea in the mind of the artist, is thoroughly characteristic of 
the plastic genius of Greece. We may ask, in regard to any work, 
ri tan ; what is its actual nature ? or we may ask rl TJV ; what is 
the idea it was intended to embody? And by putting this in a 
substantival form, ' the being what it was intended to be,' we get an 
expression for its essential nature or true definition ; see Trendelen- 
burg's note on the De Anima i. i, 2, Waitz on Anal. Post. I. n. 
Every concrete object is a combination of pre-existing matter and 
form : matter being regarded as indefinite, without character or 
quality, (cf. Met. VII. 10, p. 1036 a. 17 d' v\rj dyvucrros icad' avr^v), 
all that is characteristic in the object must come from the 
other element, viz. form, which may therefore be described as that 
which the thing was, previous to its state of concrete existence. 
Thus a house consists of bricks or other materials adapted to a 
certain end, but the thought of this adaptation preceded the actual 
existence of the house : so, in nature, the tree is a combination of 
materials grouped according to a certain law or form, but this law 
was pre-existent in the seed before it was made manifest in the tree, 
and again it pre-existed in the parent tree before it received a latent 
embodiment in the seed. 


Form tend to run into one another, by considering what 
was the cause of the virtue of Socrates. The material 
cause here is the existing Socrates with a yet unrealized 
potentiality of virtue; the formal cause is the virtuous 
ideal presented to his mind; and this formal cause will 
also be the efficient cause, in so far as it tends to actualize 
itself in the concrete Socrates, and the final cause, in so 
far as the virtuous character is its own end. But the 
opposition of Form and Matter is not confined to such 
simple cases; it covers the whole range of existence 
from the First Matter, which is mere potentiality of being 
(Swa/us) at the one extreme, to the First Form which 
is pure immaterial actuality (eve'pyeta), the Divine Being, at 
the other extreme. The intermediate links in the chain 
are matter or form according as they are viewed from 
above or below, as marble for instance is form in reference 
to stone generally, matter in reference to statue ; vitality 
is form in reference to the living body, matter in reference 
to rationality. In this way Matter becomes identified 
with the logical Genus, Form with the Differentia: as 
Matter can only attain to actual existence in some 
concrete shape by the addition of Form, so the Genus 
is by itself only potential, but attains actual existence in 
its Species through the addition of the Differentia 1 . 

The First Form of Aristotle, like the iSe'a TOV dyaOov 
of Plato, is also the First Mover, the cause of the 
upward striving of the universe, of the development 
of each thing from the potential into the actual; and 
this not by any act of creation, for He remains ever 
unmoved in His own eternity, but by the natural 

1 See Zeller in. p. -210, Bonitz on Arist. Met. iv. p. 1024 6, 
Grote Arist. n. 341. 


tendency which all things have towards Him as the 
absolutely Good, the object and end of all effort, of all 
desire 1 . The universe itself is eternal, a perfect sphere 
the circumference of which is composed of the purest 
element, ether, and is carried round in circular motion 
by the immediate influence of the Deity. In it are the 
fixed stars, themselves divine. All above this Primum 
Mobile is the abode of divinity, in which there is 
no body, no movement, no void, and therefore no 
space and no time. The lower planetary spheres 
have a less perfect movement and are under the 
guidance of subordinate divinities. Still, throughout the 
whole space, from the outermost sidereal sphere down to 
the lunar sphere, all is ordered with perfect regularity 
according to Nature. It is only in the sublunary region 
extending from the moon to the earth, which is fixed in 
the centre, furthest removed from the First Mover and 
composed of the four inferior elements with their recti- 
linear movements, centripetal or downwards in the 
case of earth and water, centrifugal or upwards in 
the case of air and fire, that the irregular forces of 
Spontaneity and Chance make their appearance, and 
impede or modify the working of Nature Yet even 
here we find a constant progressive movement from 
inorganic into organic, from plant into animal from life 
which is nutritive and sensitive only into life which is 
locomotive and finally rational in man. The human soul 
is a microcosm, uniting in itself all the faculties of the 
lower orders of animated existence, and possessing, 

1 Aristotle's words mvei wi ipdifjufvov (Met. XI I, 7), remind us 
of the yearning after the First Fair, treated of in the Symposium and 
other dialogues of Plato. 


besides, the divine and immortal faculty of reason. As 
each thing attains its end by fulfilling the work for which 
it is designed by nature, so man achieves happiness by 
the unobstructed exercise of his special endowment, a 
rational and virtuous activity. Pleasure is the natural 
accompaniment of such an activity. Virtue, which may 
be described as perfected nature, belongs potentially to 
man's nature, but it becomes actual by the repetition of 
acts in accordance with reason. It is subdivided into 
intellectual and moral, according as it is a habit of the 
purely rational part of the soul, or as it is a habit of the 
emotional part, which is capable of being influenced by 
reason, but not itself rational. Every natural impulse is 
the potential basis of a particular virtue which may be 
developed by repeated actions freely performed in 
accordance with the law of reason so as to avoid either 
excess or defect. Since man is by nature gregarious, his 
perfection is only attainable in society, and ethical science 
is thus subordinate to political science. 

I have here given the briefest possible summary of 
Aristotle's general system, as it is contained in the Physica, 
the Metaphysica (so called as following the Physical) and 
the Nicomachean Ethics. Of the latter and of the Politics 
I have added a fuller analysis below, in order to enable the 
reader to compare them with Plato's Republic. In the 
remaining works we have a sort of encyclopaedia of 
science. The Organon ' contains the theory of deduc- 
tive reasoning. It includes (i) the Categories in which 

1 There is an excellent edition by Waitz with Latin notes : Mr 
Poste has brought out an English translation of the Posterior Analytics 
and Fallacies^ with introduction and notes. See also Trendelen- 
burg's Elementa Logices Aristoleae. 


all predications are classified under ten heads, Sub- 
stance (oucria), Quantity (iroo-ov), Quality (TTOIOV), Relation 
(Trpo's TI), Place (TOU), Time (TTOTC), Situation 
Possession (exv), Action (Troieiv), Passion 
Their use may be thus illustrated, 'Socrates is a man, 
seventy years old, wise, the teacher of Plato, now sitting 
on his couch, in prison, having fetters on his legs, in- 
structing his disciples, and questioned by them'. It 
has been often pointed out that the classification here 
given errs both in excess and in defect, but it has the merit 
of being the first attempt of the kind. Trendelenburg sug- 
gests that it was borrowed from the grammatical division 
of the Parts of Speech. The 2nd of the Logical treatises 
is the De Interpretation*, dealing with the Proposition, in 
which the distinction between Contrary and Contradictory, 
and between Possible and Necessary ('Modal') Proposi- 
tions, is for the first time clearly explained. In the 
3rd, the Analytica, we have the doctrine of the Syllogism 
set forth with as much completeness as in Whately or 
Aldrich, together with an account of applied reasoning 
under the two heads of Demonstration (etTroSeifis) and 
Dialectic (StaXe/crtK^'). It further distinguishes between 
Induction (eTrayuryj;), arguing upwards to Universals from 
Particulars, which are yvwpi/zwrepa, more familiar and 
intelligible to the learner or investigator, and Deduction 
(o-uAAoyioy-ios), arguing downwards to Particulars from 
Universals, which are <ixret yvwpi/Awrepa, naturally and in 
themselves clearer and more intelligible. But though 
Aristotle thus derives the major premiss of the Syllogism 
from previous Induction, he has nowhere attempted to state 
the laws of the Inductive process, as he has done those of 
the Syllogism. He only tells us that the general idea, which 


Plato thought to be a separate existence known to the soul 
in a previous state of being, was simply a truth attained 
by gradual process of Induction, and certified by the un- 
erring principle of reason (vovs). The steps were percep- 
tion (ato-07/cns), memory (/XK^/AT?), experience (e/ATm/na); 
and the half-conscious judgment contained in the last, 
when taken up, examined and approved by the supreme 
faculty vovs, was stamped as absolutely and universally true. 
Dialectical reasoning is the subject of the 4th of Aris- 
totle's logical treatises, called the Topica, because it 
treats of the 'places' or 'storehouses' (TOTTOI) in which 
arguments are to be found. In it Aristotle gives the 
principles and rules of the Socratic dialogue, the original 
'Dialectic' before the term had been twisted by Plato to 
mean not only the art of philosophical discussion, but the 
highest part of philosophy itself. Aristotle on the con- 
trary carefully separates it from science (eTno-T?;//.^) and 
connects it more with rhetoric, since both deal with 
matters of opinion and make use of probable arguments. 
Its end is not so much to prove truth as to expose 
inconsistency : it is useful both as a stimulating mental 
exercise, and as clearing the ground for a scientific treat- 
ment of a subject by bringing to light the difficulties on 
all sides. The TOTTOI are arranged under the four Predic- 
ables, genus, differentia, proprium, aaidens, which express 
the various relations which the predicate may bear to the 
subject. The last of the logical treatises is the Sophistici 
Elenchi, in which we have a careful enumeration of the 
various kinds of Fallacies. The fundamental axioms of 
Logic, viz. the Maxim of Contradiction and the Maxim of 
the Excluded Middle are treated of in the Metaphysica, 
From the art of reasoning we proceed to the art of 


persuasion, which forms the subject of the Rhetoric.* 
Aristotle begins by clearing this art, which he calls an 
off-shoot of Dialectic, from the reproach which had been 
brought upon it by its sophistical misuse, and which had 
caused it to be repudiated with such contempt by Plato. 
He defines it as 'the power of discovering in each case the 
possible means of persuading,' (8vvap.K irepi I/cacn-ov rov 
6f<apfj<rai. TO evSe^o^tevov iriOavov, Rfiet. I 2), and shows that 
it is really an art founded on scientific principles, and 
that, if it is liable to abuse, that is common to it with all 
other methods of increasing human power. The fault 
lies in the motive (Trpoaipeo-is) of the speaker, not in the 
command of the resources of speech supplied by the art. 
It is unfair to expose justice unarmed to the attack of in- 
justice armed with rhetoric. The means of persuasion 
are divided into the scientific, supplied by the speech 
itself, and the unscientific, which exist independently of 
the speech, such as the evidence of witnesses, &c. The 
scientific means are of three kinds, (i) probable proofs 
(Trwrrew) contained in the speech, (2) the moral weight 
(^0os) of the speaker, (3) the emotions of the audience 
(7ra0os). The proofs are either of the nature of De- 
duction, or of Induction. The former is the 'considera- 
tion, 'or enthymeme (evflv/iij/xa), a probable syllogism con- 
structed out of signs and likelihoods (o-^/Aeia KOL CIKOTO) 
with the major premiss omitted 2 : the latter is the example 

1 See Cope's edition with the Introduction. 

a See Cope, Introduction, p. 103. In Rhet. II. 21 it is said that 
a maxim (yvia/j.rj) is turned into an enthymeme by adding a reason. 
Among the examples given is one from the Medea 294 foil, in which 
over-education is blamed for the envy it excites. As a syllogism 
this would require the additional statement of the major, ' the envy 



(7rapa8eiy/aa). Besides giving proof of fact, the speech 
should impress the audience with a certain idea of the ^0os 
of the speaker, i.e. of his wisdom (^po'v^o-is), virtue (dpe-nj) 
and goodwill towards themselves (woia); and it should 
appeal to the appropriate feelings, of which a classifica- 
tion is given. There are three branches of rhetoric, 
distinguished by the aim of the speaker, (i) Deliberative 
(<rvfji(3ovXevTiKov) which advocates or deprecates some 
course to be taken in the future, on the ground of ex- 
pediency, (2) Judicial (SIKCLVTIKOV) which defends or ac- 
cuses some person as having acted justly or unjustly in 
time past ; (3) the least important of the three, Declama- 
tory (eTTiSciKTiKoi/) the subject of which is commonly 
eulogy of honorable conduct in reference to present time. 
The last book of the Rhetoric deals with style (A.eis) and 
the arrangement of the topics of the speech (rafis). 

In the Poetic 1 Aristotle takes Plato's view of Poetry as 
a branch of Imitation, and divides it into three kinds, 
Epic, Tragic, and Comic. All imitation is a source of 
pleasure, but the imitation of the poet or artist is not 
simple representation of ordinary fact, but of the univer- 
sal and ideal which underlies ordinary fact; whence 
poetry is more philosophical than history. This is most 
conspicuous in Tragedy, where the characters are all on 
a grander scale than those of common life ; but even 
Comedy selects and heightens in its imitation of the 

of the citizens is to be avoided.' Another example is the anonymous 
line 6pynv ny tftiXaaffe 6vr)rbs uv, where the full syllogism 
would be ' the feelings of mortals should be mortal like themselves ; 
you are mortal ; therefore your wrath should have an end.' 

1 Translated into English with full commentary by Twining, 
1789. See also the German edition by Susemihl, and Boring's Die 
Ktmstlehre des Aristoteles. 


grotesque. Tragedy is not, as Plato thought, a mere 
enfeebling luxury ; rather it makes use of the feelings of 
pity and terror to purify similar affections in ourselves (Si 
al <o/3ou trtpaivov(ra rrjv ru>v TOIOVTCDV TraOrjudrtav 
), i.e. it gives a safe vent to our feelings by 
taking us out of ourselves, and opening our hearts to 
sympathize with heavier woes of humanity at large, typi- 
fied in the persons of the. drama, while it chastens and 
controls the vehemence of passion by never allowing its 
expression to transgress the limits of beauty, and by 
recognizing the righteous meaning and use of suffering. 

Aristotle's treatises on the science and philosophy 
of Nature may be classed under the Physical, in- 
cluding the Physica Auscultatio, the De Caelo, De 
Generatione et Corruptions and Meteorologica ; and the 
Biological, including the Historia Animalium, with its 
appendages the De Partibus Animalium, De Generatione 
Animalium, De Incessu Animalium, and the De Anima 
with its appendages the De Motu Animalium and the 
collection of tracts known as Parva Naturalia. 

The Physical treatises, which deal not so much with 
what we should now call Natural Philosophy as with the 
underlying metaphysical ideas, are those which especially 
provoked the animadversions of Bacon. Thus in the 
Novum Organum i Aph, 63 he says 'Of Sophistical 
philosophy the most conspicuous example was Aristotle 
who corrupted natural philosophy by his logic, fashioning 
the world out of categories,... disposing of the distinction 
of Dense and Rare by the frigid distinction of Act and 
Power, asserting that single bodies have each a single 

and proper motion and imposing countless other 

arbitrary restrictions on the nature of things, being 
always more anxious to find a ready answer in words 



than to ascertain the inner truth of things.' Bacon no 
doubt, is disposed to make Aristotle responsible for all 
the short-comings of the Scholastic philosophy; but 
more impartial and better-instructed writers are hardly 
more favourable in their judgments. Thus Dr Whewell 
writes (Hist, of Ind. Sc. i 52*.) 'The Aristotelian physics 
cannot be considered as otherwise than a complete failure. 
It collected no general laws from facts; and consequently, 
when it tried to explain facts, it had no principles which 
were of any avail.' And he explains this failure not so 
much by the absence of observation, as by the absence of 
clear and appropriate Ideas to arrange the facts observed 
(p. 54 foil.). In illustration he quotes Aristotle's proof of 
the Quinta Essentia, the eternal celestial substance 1 , from 
the fact of circular motion : ' The simple elements must 
have simple motions ; thus fire and air have their natural 
motions upwards, and water and earth have their natural 
motions downwards; besides these rectilinear motions 
there is the motion in a circle, which is a more perfect 
motion than the other, because a circle is a perfect line, 
and a straight line is not ; there must therefore be some 
simple and primary body more divine than the four 
elements, whose nature it is to be carried round in a 
circle, as it is the nature of earth to move downwards, 
and of fire to move upwards. It is impossible that the 
revolving bodies can revolve contrary to nature, for their 
motion is continuous and eternal, whereas all that is 
contrary to nature speedily dies away 2 .' It must not be 
supposed however that the physical reasoning of Aristotle 

1 De Cae/o, i i. 

1 See too Herschel's Natural Philosophy, p. 109, and Lewes' 
Aristotle passim. 

M. P. 7 


is all of this description. In the Physica Auscultatio n 8 
there is a very interesting discussion on the evidences 
of Design in Nature, in which he gives his reasons against 
Empedocles' theory of Development. Still on the whole 
we too often hnd ourselves balked with phrases and 
formulas, where we looked for facts and ideas. 

In Biology Aristotle was more successful. Cuvier 
speaks in ecstatic terms of his History oj Animals, and 
though Dr Whewell and G. H. Lewes' have shown that 
he has greatly exaggerated its merits, and that Aristotle 
has not attempted anything like a scientific classification 
of animals, yet all admit 'that it is a marvellous work 
considering the period at which it was produced and the 
multiform productions of its author 8 .' The spirit in 
which Aristotle entered on his investigations is shown in 
a striking passage of the Part. An. i. 5, the substance of 
which is as follows, 'It remains for us to speak of the 
nature of animals, omitting nothing as too mean. For 
even in those things which are least agreeable to the 
sense, creative nature affords a wonderful delight to those 
who are able to understand their causes. Therefore we 
must not shrink in disgust, like children, from the examina- 
tion even of the meanest animals, for there is something 
admirable in all nature's handiwork. As Heraclitus said, 
when his friends were reluctant to enter a mean apartment 
(wrvos), "Enter, for here too there are Gods," so every 
work of nature is beautiful as exhibiting evidences of 
design. There is much that is offensive in the sight of 
flesh, bones, veins, <fec, but we disregard this in our desire 
to master the principle of construction which they embody.' 

1 See his Aristotle, ch. xv. * Lewes, p. 790. 



We need not dwell upon any of the treatises classed 
under this head except the DeAnima, of which Lewes says 
'the extreme interest of its problems and the profundity 
of its views render it the most valuable of ancient attempts 
to bring the facts of life and mind into scientific order 1 .' 
Aristotle here examines the theories of previous philoso- 
phers, Democritus, Empedocles, Plato &c., and then pro- 
ceeds to give his own view as follows. The Soul (i/^x 7 ?) is 
the vital principle of all organized bodies, manifesting 
itself in an ascending scale of functions, nutritive, sentient, 
locomotive, appetitive, imaginative, rational, throughout 
the range of animated existence, from plant up to man. 
Each higher function involves the lower, so that all the 
functions are found conjoined with rationality m man, 
while the nutritive function exists separately in vegetables. 
The soul is the Form of which body is the Matter, it 
brings into actuality 8 the capacities which are latent in 
body and is itself limited by those capacities. It is also 
the Final and the Efficient Cause of the body, since this 
exists for the sake of the soul, and is set in motion by it. 
The highest function of soul is not inherent in the body 
and has no special organ with which it is connected, 

1 P. MI. The book is also analysed by Grote, Aristotle vol. II. 
ch. 12, and in A. Butler's Lectures. 

2 This actualizing power is expressed by the technical term 
A'TeX^x 6 '*! whence the definition ^VXTJ larui ^ireX^xeia 17 irpwnr) 
ffu(j.a.Tos (pvcriKov fanjf HX. OVTOS > which Grote explains as 'the 
lowest stage of actuality, the minimum of influence required to 
transform potentiality into actuality'; 'it is not indispensable that all 
the functions of the living subject should be at all times in complete 
exercise : it is enough if the functional aptitude exist as a dormant 
property, ready to rise into activity when the proper occasions 
present themselves.' Aristotle II. 186. 



like the other functions; it is an emanation from the 
celestial sphere, and is the only part of the soul which 
survives the death of the body ; but though it survives, it 
apparently loses its individuality and becomes merged in 
the universal reason. There is much that is interesting 
in the account of the Senses and of the 'Common Sensi- 
bles' (i.e. primary qualities); in the distinction drawn be- 
tween the Active and Passive Reason, between Memory 
and Reminiscence and, as connected with this, in the 
theory of the Association of Ideas '; but the pleasure of 
reading the book is lessened, as is so often the case in 
Aristotle, by his over-fondness for logical distinctions, by 
confused arrangement and extreme conciseness, made up 
for at times by unnecessary repetitions. 

I proceed now to give an analysis of the book in 
which the true greatness of Aristotle is most conspicuous, 
the Nicomachean Ethics, commencing with a translation of 
the first three chapters*. 

'Every art and every science, and so too every act 
and purpose, seems to aim at some good. Hence people 
have well defined the supreme good to be that at which 
all things aim. Sometimes the end consists in the exer- 
cise of a faculty for its own sake, at other times in certain 
external results beyond this. Where the end consists in 
such external result, the result is more important than 
the activity to which it is due. Now as there are many 
kinds of action and of art and science, there must also be 
many ends, the end of medicine for instance being health, 
of ship-building a ship, of strategy victory, of domestic 

1 See his short treatise on Memory. 

* See Grant's 3rd edition and the English translation by Chase 
or Williams. 


economy wealth. But where the arts themselves fall 
under some higher art, as bridle-making under the 
general art of riding, and this again and the whole 
business of war under the master art of strategy, in 
all such cases the end of the master art, whether it be 
a simple activity or some further tangible result, is more 
important than the ends of the subordinate arts, the latter 
being pursued for the sake of the former. If then, there 
is some end for all that has to do with action, and if 
everything else which we desire is relative and subordi- 
nate to this final end, and we do not go on interminably 
making every choice for the sake of something beyond 
(in which case our desires would be frustrate and void of 
effect), then this must be the Summum Bonum or chief 
good. And, if so, must not the knowledge of this be of 
great importance for the conduct of life; and shall we 
not be more likely to know what we ought to do, when 
we have this before us, as a mark to aim at ? Can we form 
any conception of the science to which this highest end 
belongs ? Plainly it must be the highest and most com- 
prehensive science. And such is TTO\ITIKIJ, the science of 
society, as it ordains what other sciences shall find a 
home in States, what sciences shall be learnt by different 
classes, and to what degree of proficiency. Even the 
most esteemed of the arts and faculties are subordinate 
to this ; for example, strategy, domestic economy, and 
rhetoric. Seeing then that the science of society makes 
use of the various sciences concerned with action and 
production, and lays down the law as to what men should 
do and should abstain from doing, the end of this will 
embrace the ends of all other sciences and will conse- 
quently be the highest good of man. For even supposing 


it to be the case that the end of the individual is identical 
with that of the State, yet the end of the State is at any 
rate more comprehensive and complete. Granted that 
even in the case of the individual the Summum Bonum 
is an aim to be cherished, yet for a nation and for States 
it is certainly more noble and divine. Our science there- 
fore is of the nature of iroXiTiKrj. 

'In regard to method, the subject will be adequately 
treated if it be elucidated with as much clearness as the 
subject matter admits. Rigorous exactness must not be 
looked for, to the same extent, in all subjects of dis- 
cussion, any more than an equal perfection of finish in 
all the different products of handicraft And there is so 
much controversy and uncertainty in regard to what is 
honorable and what is just, questions with which our 
science is concerned that they have been thought to 
depend on custom only and to have no natural founda- 
tion. Similarly with regard to good things; for some- 
times these are found to be injurious in their results, as 
men have been ruined owing to their wealth or their 
courage. Arguing then, as we are, upon such varying 
phenomena and from such uncertain premisses, we must 
be satisfied if we can set forth the truth roughly and 
in outline. Where the premisses, no less than the subject 
matter, are only probable and contingent, we must be 
content to draw inferences of a corresponding nature. 
It is the characteristic of an educated man not to re- 
quire scientific precision upon any subject under in- 
quiry beyond what the nature of the case admits; e.g. to 
demand scientific demonstration from an orator would 
be as improper as to accept probable reasoning from a 
mathematician. A man judges aright only of what he 



himself knows: and only to that extent is he a good 
critic. Special points will be judged best by him who 
has received a special education, and general questions 
by him who has been generally educated. It follows 
that a young man is no fit student of our science, having 
no experience in the affairs of real life, from which our 
reasonings must be drawn and with which they are 
concerned. Moreover, as he is prone to follow \\\9 
passions, it will be idle and profitless for him to listen 
to moral truths, of which the end is not intellectual but 
practical. Whether such a student be young in age or 
only childish in character, is immaterial, as his incompe- 
tence is not measured by length of time, but is due to his 
living, and pursuing his several objects, under the rule of 
the passions. To such persons knowledge is useless, as 
it is to those who have no self control ; on the other 
hand to those who shape their desires and regulate their 
conduct in accordance with reason, it will be highly 
profitable to be informed on these points. 

'These remarks may serve as an introduction to 
indicate who are the proper students of morals, what is 
the spirit and method with which the subject must be 
treated, and what is the precise scope of the present 

Aristotle then proceeds, in his usual manner, to ex- 
amine the opinions current on the subject of the chief good, 
first premising that, as our reasoning must be drawn from 
experience, he who is to appreciate its force must have 
been so brought up as to have this experience at com- 
mand, i.e. to have the feeling of honour and right, in 
his own mind. He points out that, while all agree in 
calling the Chief Good by such names as Happiness, 



Living well, Doing-well, there is great dispute as to 
what these consist in. Judging from people's lives, we 
may distinguish three main views : the mass hold that 
happiness consists in bodily pleasure ; those of a higher 
class, who are engaged in active life, make it consist in 
honour; the philosopher makes it consist in thought. The 
ist is an animal view, the 2nd assumes an end which is 
precarious, and is sought rather as a means to assure 
ourselves of our own excellence than as being in itself 
an end : the consideration of the 3rd is postponed. Then, 
though reluctantly, he criticizes Plato's ideal good, for 
' friends and truth being equally dear, we are bound to 
prefer the truth 1 .' The arguments are not very clear*, 
but their general purport is to prove that the 'Ideal Good' 
is something unintelligible, and in any case of no use for 
practice. Having thus cleared the ground, Aristotle 
developes his own conception of happiness. It is final, 
it is self-sufficing (avrap/ces), it must be found in the 
proper work or function (pyov) of man. 

The reasoning by which man's happiness is inferred 
from his Ipyov appears to be as follows. Everything 
which exists is specially adapted to some special good end 
(reXos). This adaptation is called the nature (</>uo-ts) of the 
thing. The process by which it arrives at its end is its 
Ipyov. Its special excellence (dpenty consists in the per- 
fection of its </>uo-is. Therefore, <u<ris being given, we 
may find the other terms. Life is the function of all 
living things. Amongst these man is distinguished by 
the possession of reason; his Ipyov therefore will be 
not life simply but rational life, and this must be 

1 dfjupoiv <pi\oiv dvroiv Satov irpoTi/j.a.v r 

* See Essay III. of the Introduction to Grant's Ethics. 


actively rational, and such as is found in the best speci- 
men of man. Thus we obtain the definition: 'the good 
of man is a putting forth of the faculties of the soul in 
accordance with his highest excellence, (TO dv6pu>invov 
dyaBov i/^X'V 5 evepyeta ytvcTai Kara rr)v apioTTjf apen/f). And 
fui ther we must add tv /3tu> TAau> ' in a complete life,' so that 
nothing may hinder the full development of the ercpycia. 
It is shown that this definition embraces all the various 
characteristics of happiness distinguished by previous 
philosophers, not excluding pleasure, because virtue is 
essentially productive of pleasure, and that the highest 
pleasure. Hence we learn that man is himself the chief 
source of his own happiness, and that Solon was wrong 
in saying that no man is to be called happy during his 

Aristotle then proceeds to give a further account 
of human excellence. Man is a compound of a rational 
and an irrational nature. Of the irrational nature part 
is merely nutritive and entirely unparticipant of reason, 
part is appetitive and impulsive (tTn6v/j.r]TiKov KOL opeicriKov) 
and is capable of being brought into subjection to reason. 
Human excellence therefore will be twofold, according 
as it is seen in the purely rational or the semi-rational 
part. The excellence of the former is intellectual, Sia- 
vorjTLiaj, the excellence of the latter moral, ^$1/07. (In 
speaking of the latter the word ape/ will be translated by 
' virtue,') Moral virtue is acquired by practice, just as 
manual skill is acquired. According to the practice will 
be the resulting character; by a repetition of brave 
acts we become brave, fcc. 1 We start with a capacity 
which may be developed in either direction by 

(K riav 6fj.oiuv tvepyetur ai es ylvorrai. II. 1. 7. 


a series of acts of a definite quality, and thus become 
fixed in a corresponding habit or tone of mind (?is). 

In order to become virtuous then, we must first know 
how to do virtuous actions, to act, that is, in accordance 
with right reason or the right standard ; and this we 
shall do by avoiding excess or defect. When a man does 
such actions wittingly, intentionally, choosing them for 
their own sakes and taking pleasure in them, and when 
he is also firmly set in this course, he exhibits all the 
marks of a formed habit of virtue; of which let this be 
our definition, 'a fixed habit of mind, resulting from effort 
and principle, which, with reference to our own particu- 
lar nature, is equidistant from excess or defect ;' to which 
we must add, that the mean must be determined by 
reason and as a sensible man would determine it 1 . It 
must be confessed however that there are exceptions to 
the definition. We sometimes find a virtue which has 
nothing to do with a mean, and it frequently happens 
that a virtue is more opposed to one extreme than to 
another. A good practical rule is to shun the worse 
extreme or that to which we are most prone. 

The Third Book commences with an inquiry into 
moral responsibility. It is only voluntary acts, that are 
praised or blamed. An act is involuntary when done 
ignorantly or under consiraint Of constraint there are 
two kinds, physical or moral ; it is only the former which 
is, strictly speaking, involuntary. So of ignorance there 
are two kinds, ignorance of principles, which is a mark of 
utter depravity, and ignorance of particular facts, which 
is excusable if the agent, when better informed, repents 

1 ?u trpoaipfTiK^, li> fj.effjrriTi oD<ro TTJ r/> 
xal ut ei* 6 <f>p6viij.os bplfftitv. II. 6. 



of his act done in ignorance. Thus we may define 
voluntary action as 'that which originates with the agent's 
self, knowing the circumstances of the action, (TO IKOV- 
criov So^eicv &v ftvai ov 17 <*PX*i * v a ^ >T ^ eiSori rd Ka.0' fKacrra 
iv ots 17 irpais). It is* a mistake to suppose that actions 
done from anger or desire are involuntary. One particu- 
lar form of the Voluntary is Purpose or Volition, (irpoai- 
peo-ts). It is distinguished from Wish (ySovA^o-ts) because 
that refers to the end, this to the means ; as well as from 
Desire, Anger, and Opinion. It implies previous de- 
liberation (/SovXcuo-ts) and may be denned 'a grasping 
after something within our own power after previous 
deliberation' (/^oiAem-i*?} opeis TWV l<f> ^tV). 

A question has been raised as to the nature of the 
End which is the object of our wish. The true account 
seems to be that abstractedly, and to the virtuous man, 
good itself is the end wished for, but to others the 
apparent good. And then arises the question whether 
vice is really voluntary, if we of necessity wish for the 
apparent good, which may not after all be the real good. 
To this it may be answered that it is in our power to be 
virtuous (and so, to wish rightly), because it is in our power 
to do the acts which lead to the formation of virtuous 
habits, and avoid the opposite acts: and that we are 
thus free, is witnessed to by the whole constitution of 
society. If it is further argued that we are born dif- 
ferent, one with an eye for what is good and right, and 
another without it, we may at least reply that in any case 
virtue and vice must stand on the same footing as regards 
freedom, and that our own actions do at any rate contri- 
bute to intensify this difference. 

Aristotle then proceeds to the discussion of the 



several virtues which may be presented in a scheme 
as follows with their corresponding extremes. 














bodily plea- 



























fJLlKpO^VX^ -, 



littleness of 









want of spirit. 

right ambi- 

wrong am- 

































facing of men. 




the fortunes of 










1 N^/teo-tj is a ' mean,' because the indignant man is pained only 
at undeserved prosperity, while the envious, exceeding him, is pained 
at all prosperity, and the malicious is so far defective in feeling pain 
that heeven rejoices at not prosperity, but adversity, Eth. II. 7. By 
the time he wrote the Rhetoric, Aristotle had come to see the absurdity 
of this opposition, and identifies vix ai P eK a/ua w i tn envy, Rhet. n. 9. 



As a specimen of Aristotle's analysis of character, 
I give an abstract of his remarks on the Brave Man and 
the-Magnanimous or high-minded man. 

He begins by limiting the sphere of Bravery. Bra- 
very is not concerned with all objects of fear; e.g. a man 
is not called brave for being fearless as to disgrace, or to 
injury which may threaten his family; but we call him 
brave who does not shrink from death. He is truly 
brave who in presence of danger behaves as reason directs 
and under a sentiment of honour. Suicide is a mark of 
cowardice rather than of courage. There are five imper- 
fect forms of courage, (i) that which is produced by 
a regard to the opinion of others, (2) that which comes 
from experience, as the sailor's in a storm, (3) that which 
comes from passion or spirit ; when joined to reason 
this becomes true courage, (4) that which comes from a 
hopeful temperament, (5) that which comes from ig- 
norance of danger. 

High-mindedness or loftiness of spirit is an accom- 
paniment and ornament of the other virtues combined. 
The high-minded man is one who is worthy of the 
highest honour and rates himself at his true worth. If a 
man has small worth and rates himself accordingly, we 
should call him modest. The vicious excess is where a 
man rates himself above his worth, the vicious defect 
where he is too humble and rates himself below his 
worth. The high-minded man will always bear himself 
with calmness and moderation. He will despise dis- 
honour, knowing it to be undeserved, and honour too, for 
this can never be an adequate reward of virtue, though 
he will accept it as his due from the good. He is ready 
to bestow favours on others, but scorns to receive them ; 


is proud to the great, but affable to the lowly ; will not 
compete for common objects of ambition; is open in 
friendship and hatred; cares for reality more than, for 
appearance, dislikes personal talk, wonders at nothing, 
bears no malice, disregards utility in comparison with 
beauty, is dignified in all his actions and movements. 

The Fifth, Sixth and Seventh books are taken bodily 
from the Eudemian Ethics^ a sort of paraphrase of the Ni- 
comachean Ethics, written by a pupil of Aristotle. Some 
suppose that the Nicomachean Ethics were never com- 
pleted; perhaps it is a more probable view that these 
three books were accidentally lost, and that their place 
was supplied from the paraphrase. Sir A. Grant and 
others have pointed out slight divergences between the 
genuine Aristotelian doctrine and that put forward in 
these books ; but, though inferior in force and perspicuity, 
they may be accepted as supplying a generally faithful 
representation of the ideas of Aristotle. Justice is the 
subject of the Fifth Book. The writer begins by distin- 
guishing two meanings of the term: it either means 'the 
fixed habit of fulfilling the law,' which is equivalent 
to virtue in general as displayed towards our neighbour; 
or it is used in a narrower sense and means 'fair dealing 
with regard to property.' It is the latter or Civil Justice 
which is our subject. It is divided into two kinds, 
Distributive (Stavt/ATp-iKi;) and Corrective (SwpOuTiKij). The 
former assigns to each citizen his due in regard to the 
honours and burdens of civil life: and that which is due 
or equal will be discovered here by a 'geometrical propor- 
tion;' as man is related to man, so must the honour done 
to the one be related to the honour done to the other. 
Corrective Justice takes no account of persons, but, when 

ARISI^OTLE. 1 1 1 

inequality has been occasioned by injustice, it endeavours 
to restore equality by an 'arithmetical proportion,' 
simply subtracting so much from one side and adding it 
to the other. This latter Justice is the principle of 
commerce. The simple 'retaliation' of Pythagoras is too 
rude for either Distributive or Corrective Justice. Just 
dealing is a mean between injuring and being injured, so 
that Injustice is both an excess and a defect. Justice in 
the strict sense exists only between equals who are 
subject to the same law. It is partly natural, partly 
conventional. One form of justice is Equity, emeiKeia. 
This is a rectification of law in the spirit of the Law- 
giver, where the law fails to prescribe what is just in the 
particular case, owing to its generality. 

The Sixth Book returns to the definition of virtue, and 
explains the phrase 'right reason' there employed. The 
soul has been already analyzed into Irrational and Ra- 
tional; and we have shown that the Moral Excellences, 
though having their foundation in the former, must be reg- 
ulated by the latter. It remains to explain how this is done. 
We begin by sub-dividing the rational soul into the 
Scientific part (CTTIO-T^/AOVIKOV) which is concerned with 
necessary truth, and the Calculative or Deliberative 
(Xoyio-riKov, /SouAcvriKov) , answering to the Sofa of Plato, 
which is concerned with contingent matter. It is this 
latter kind of Reason which, when combined with Im- 
pulse (opefis), becomes Trpoaipeons and leads to action. 
Action itself is of two kinds, Making (Trowjcns) and Doing 
(n-pafis). The rational excellence which is concerned in 
making is re'^vr;, Art, that which is concerned with doing 
is <povT7o-is, Practical Wisdom or Prudence. Returning to 
the eTrio-TTj/ioviKov, we find two forms of excellence which 


belong to this head, Intuitive Reason, vovs, the faculty 
which supplies first principles (ap^ai), and Discursive 
Reason, cTrio-r^/xT/, which arrives at truth by reasoning 
from the principles supplied by vows; the combination of 
the two is called <ro<ia, Philosophy ; which is the perfec- 
tion of Reason dealing with that which is divine and 
eternal, as Prudence is the perfection of Reason dealing 
with that which concerns human well-being. As regards 
first principles, Prudence is the opposite to the Intuitive 
reason, being concerned chiefly with particulars which are 
below demonstration ; it is indeed a sort of moral sense 
which only acts rightly in the temperate man ; (whence 
Temperance is called o-to^poo-wT/, the guard of Prudence), 
and is strengthened by experience. Without moral 
virtue, Prudence would be mere cleverness, and without 
Prudence moral virtue would be only a generous instinct 
liable to perversion. For complete virtue we need both 
the impulsive and the rational element This explains 
the mistake of Socrates in confounding Virtue with 

In the Seventh Book we have a fuller account of 
Temperance and the allied and contrasted qualities, which 
bears no relation to the previous discussion on the subject 
It contains a graduated scale of good and evil states 
in reference to our power of resisting pleasures and pains. 
Thus/ between divine or heroic goodness on the one side 
and bestial depravity on the other, we have 
where passion is entirely subject to reason ; 
Continence or Self-control, where reason prevails over 
resisting passion; a*pa<n'a Incontinence, where passion 
prevails in spite of the resistance of reason; cucoAao-ta 
Intemperance, where reason is entirely subject to passion. 


Corresponding to lyKparda and aKpao-ta in reference to 
pleasure, we have two states distinguished in reference 
to pain, Kaprepia endurance, and paXaKia effeminacy. 

The account above given of a/cpatna seems at variance 
with Socrates' principle that men never do wrong except 
through ignorance. In what sense is it true that the 
incontinent man sins against knowledge? Before he is 
under the influence of passion, he certainly knows that 
the act is unlawful. But a man may have knowledge 
without using it, as in slumber; and a man may un- 
consciously practise sophistry towards himself, allowing 
the general principle ' excess is wrong,' but shutting his 
eyes to the particular premiss ' to drink this would be 
excess,' and attending to another principle suggested by 
passion, ' drinking is pleasant.' Incontinence in Anger is 
not so bad as incontinence in respect to Lust, because 
Anger, which kindles on suspicion of wrong, does in a way 
listen to Reason, though it listens amiss ; also Anger is 
less deliberate than Lust, and it is accompanied with pain 
and is less wanton. There are two kinds of incontinence, 
the one proceeding from hastiness of temper, where a 
man acts without deliberation ; the other from weakness 
of will, where he deliberates but cannot hold to his 
resolve ; the latter is less easily cured. Holding to one's 
resolve is not always a mark of continence ; it may even 
be a kind of incontinence, as when a man sticks to a 
wrong opinion merely from self-will. 

In Book VIII. we return to the genuine Aristotle. I 
have thought it worth while to give a somewhat full 
analysis of the beautiful treatise on </>tXta contained in this 
and the following book, as supplying a Pagan counter- 
part to the description of Christian ayaTn/' contained 
M. P. 8 



in the thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the 

Friendship, by which we understand 'mutual affection 
mutually known,' ' deserves a place in a treatise on 
Morals, because it is a great help to leading a virtuous 
and happy life, and because the best friendship is im- 
possible without virtue. It is also deeply rooted in human 
nature, and is the chief bond in civil society. There are 
three chief kinds of friendship, based respectively on the 
good, the pleasant, the useful. As the useful merely means 
that which conduces to good or to pleasure, the three are 
ultimately reducible to two. Of the three, the first alone 
is perfect. It is possible only for the good, who wish each 
other's real good. It is unselfish, unaffected by external 
considerations, permanent, trustful, built on similarity of 
tastes, and surpasses the other forms even in their special 
characteristics of utility and pleasantness. Such friendship 
is rare and slowly formed. The friendships founded on 
pleasure and on utility are not disinterested, and therefore 
they are liable to come to an end when they cease to 
produce these effects. Still such friendships may pass into 
the true friendship, if virtue is joined to them. Friendship 
may exist potentially in separation, but for its active 
exercise frequent intercourse is needed; otherwise it 
passes into simple good-will (ewota). For the formation 
of friendships sensibility and amiability are needed ; for 
these make intercourse delightful; and therefore the 
young are more prompt to make friends than the old. 
Mere fondness, however, will not suffice: the judgment 
and the will must combine with the affection to promote 
the welfare of the beloved. This ideal friendship can 

1 dt>Tt<f>i\T}ffu oil \av6dvovffaL, VIII. 3. 


only be exercised towards a few, but the friendship of 
interest or of pleasure may be spread over a large circle. 
Men in power will have friends of these imperfect kinds, 
but not a perfect friend, unless they excel in virtue as 
well as in power. All the forms of friendship imply 
a kind of equality or reciprocity of good for good, or 
pleasure for pleasure, or pleasure for use. Where the 
parties to friendship stand in a position of relative in- 
feriority and superiority, as parents and children, the 
balance should be made up by a larger proportion of 
honour and affection on the part of the inferior. Extreme 
inequality, as between a man and a God, renders friendship 
impossible. The essence of friendship is to love rather 
than to be loved, but the majority prefer to be loved, 
taking it as a sign of honour. Every association implies 
something of friendship, as well as of justice. The end 
of Civil Society is the same as that of friendship, viz. the 
common good, and all subordinate associations are but 
parts of the great society of the state. The family union 
presents counterparts to the various forms of Civil Govern- 
ment. In the family, friendship varies according to the dif- 
ferent relationships. Parents love their children as being a 
part of themselves ; children gradually come to love their 
parents as benefactors. Brothers love each other as 
being of common blood, and also from companionship and 
long intimacy and similar tastes. The friendship of 
husband and wife has its root in instinct, and is increased 
by the sense of mutual help and common interests and 
pleasures and, if they are good, by the delight in each 
other's virtue. Quarrels and complaints occur most 
frequently in the case of interested friendships, where 
each party seeks a surplus of advantage to accrue to 



himself. Such friendship may be either on a business 
footing, corresponding to legal justice, or it may have 
more of a moral element, resembling unwritten law. In 
the latter, no precise stipulation is made, yet still the 
benefactor expects an equivalent and grumbles if he 
does not receive it. He may please himself with the 
idea of acting disinterestedly, but when it comes to the 
point, he prefers payment. It is well therefore to have a 
clear understanding before receiving the favour, and to 
do one's best afterwards to repay it in full. The amount 
returned should be determined by the receiver in propor- 
tion to what he would have been prepared to give to 
obtain the favour at first. 

Questions of casuistry arise in reference to conflicting 
claims of friendship. In general it may be said that the 
payment of a debt must take precedence of conferring a 
favour, and that claims will vary with the nearness of the 
relationship. Another question relates to the termination 
of friendships. Where friendship is only for pleasure or use, 
the connexion ceases with the motive. Where a more ideal 
friendship is professed, it may be broken off if one of the 
parties finds that the other has been acting from an inferior 
motive, or if he finds him out to be a vicious man ; but 
in the latter case, he is bound to make every effort to 
reclaim him before breaking off the connexion. Where 
one party improves and the other remains stationary, it 
may be impossible for friendship to continue, but there 
should be kindly feeling for the sake of old association. 
It is often said that 'a friend is a second self,' and it 
would seem that a good man's feeling towards a friend is 
an extension of his feeling towards himself. For he is at 
unity with himself, and desires and does with all his 



powers all that is good for himself, i.e. for the intellectual 
principle within him, which is his true self; and he 
desires his own continued existence, and takes pleasure 
in his own society, for his memories of the past are 
sweet, and he has good hopes for the future, and his 
mind is fully stored with subjects for contemplation, and 
his days are 'joined each to each by natural piety.' And 
just such are his feelings towards his friend. But with a 
bad man all this is changed : he is at variance with him- 
self, and lusts after one thing but wishes for another, and 
chooses what is pleasant, though he knows it to be 
hurtful, and shrinks in cowardice from what he knows to 
be best ; and at length, having committed many crimes, 
he comes to hate his life and puts an end to himself. 
Moreover the bad man cannot endure his own society, 
for his memories of the past and his expectations of the 
future are alike unpleasant; and it is only when in com- 
pany with others that he can escape from these thoughts. 
He cannot sympathise with himself, because his soul is 
torn in sunder by faction, one part grieving at what 
pleases another part And thus he is incapable of 
friendship, either for himself or for another. Good- 
will and Unanimity are akin to friendship, but not 
the same. The first may be felt towards strangers; 
it is usually called out by the sight of some noble or 
excellent quality, and forms the natural prelude to friend- 
ship. By unanimity we understand a unity of sentiment 
on practical matters, especially among citizens of the 
same state. The bad are incapable of such unanimity, 
as they are always seeking to get an advantage over each 

What is the explanation of the superior strength of 


affection in the benefactor as compared with the bene- 
fited ? It is not enough to say that this is a case of a 
creditor desiring the prosperity of the debtor. The 
benefactor is like an artist who loves his work as 
increasing his sense of his own powers ; he has also the 
lasting consciousness of doing an honourable act, while 
the recipient of kindness has only the consciousness of 
the present profit. Finally the active part taken by the 
benefactor has more affinity with the active principle of 
loving. Another question which is asked is whether self- 
love is good or bad. On the one hand, the worse a man 
is, the more selfish (<i\avTos) he is thought to be : on the 
other hand, we have pointed out that love for self is the 
original type of love for others. The explanation is that 
the word self-love (TO ^tXavrov) is used in two senses, 
having reference to two different selves. When we use 
the name 'self-love' of those who are eager to give to 
themselves the larger share of honours, riches and bodily 
pleasures, we mean the love of the lower self, that is, of 
the appetites and passions and generally of the irrational 
part of the soul. If on the contrary a man sets himself 
to do always what is just and temperate and thus wins 
honour to himself, we should not generally speak of such 
a man as loving himself; and yet it is plain that he 
seeks the best and noblest things for himself, and 
gratifies that principle of his nature which is most 
rightfully authoritative (^api^rai tavrov TO> Kvpiwrdrtai) ; 
and such a principle we must consider to constitute the 
man's true self, just as it does in the case of the State or 
any other system. In this sense then the good man 
ought to love himself, for his reason chooses what is in 
itself best, and in obeying reason he performs noble 



actions, which not only benefit himself but also do good to 
others. On the other hand the bad man ought not 
to love himself, for he will only do harm both to himself 
and to others by following his evil propensities. It is 
true that the good man will seem at times to be sacrificing 
himself for his friends or for his country ; for, for their 
sakes, he will throw away money and honours and even 
life itself, if so be he may win true glory (TO KaXov). Nay 
he will even surrender to his friend the doing of noble 
deeds ; and yet, in all, he does what is best for himself 
and chooses what is best ; for to help his friend to 
honour is more honorable than to win honour for 
himself, and the rapture of one glorious moment is worth 
years of common-place life. 

Another question raised is whether the happy man 
needs friends ? Those who deny this take the view that 
the only use of friends is to supply a want, and the happy 
man has no wants. But this is plainly a mistake. For 
(i) the possession of friends being one of the greatest of 
external goods is necessarily included in perfect happi- 
ness : (2) the happy man will need friends, not as givers, 
but as recipients of kindness : (3) companionship is a 
natural want to him as to others : (4) the good man's 
happiness consists in doing and seeing good, and he can 
see goodness in a friend more clearly than he can in 
himself: he delights in a good action for its own sake, 
and he delights in it still more because it is his friend's : 
(5) the performance of good acts is made easier and 
pleasanter and consequently more continuous by their 
being done in company with others : and (6) to be in the 
society of the good is a sort of schooling in virtue. The 
argument may be put in a more metaphysical form as 


follows, 'Life is good, especially to the good man ; but 
man's life consists in consciousness 1 ; the more of con- 
sciousness the more of life; if then he doubles his 
consciousness in a good friend, he has so much more of 
life and therefore of good.' But to enjoy this sympa- 
thetic consciousness it is necessary to live in the company 
of the friend and share his words and thoughts. 

The number of friends for use or pleasure is limited 
by convenience. The number of true friends is limited 
by our incapacity to feel the highest kind of affection for 
many, and also by the difficulty of harmonious asso- 
ciation among many ; ol Se 7roAv<iAoi ovSevl So/couo-iv tlvai 
<i'Aoi, 'the man of many friends is thought to be no one's 

Friendship is more beautiful in prosperity, more 
necessary in adversity. In the latter the presence of 
friends has a mixed effect. While it is sweet to see 
a friend and be conscious of his sympathy, and while 
a friend, if he has tact (eav y cTriSe^ios), is the best of all 
comforters; yet, on the other hand, it is inconsistent 
with a manly character to cause unnecessary pain to 
friends. We should invite our friends to share our good 
fortune, and we should go unasked to comfort them in 
their misfortunes, but not solicit their help ourselves 
unless the service they are able to do would far outweigh 
the pain it costs. On the other hand we must beware of 
the appearance of sullenness in declining offers of help 
or sympathy. In the ordinary course of life friendship 
proves itself in companionship. Whatever a man makes 
the chief interest of his life, from drinking to philosophy, 
he wishes his friend to share in it. And thus it is that 

1 touce TO rji> tlvai Kupiws TO alaQdveffOai 17 votiv. IX. 9. 


the bad are made worse, and the good better by their 

The subject of the Tenth Book is Pleasure. This 
forms a part of ethics, because it is an essential element 
of human life and also of virtuous training ; for to take 
pleasure in what we ought is the foundation of a good 
moral character. Two opposite views have been put 
forward by philosophers, (i) that it is the Summum 
Bonum, (2) that it is altogether bad. Some of the 
supporters of the latter view have probably overstated 
the case in order to correct man's common proneness 
to pleasure ; but this is a mistaken policy. The exagge- 
ration is soon exposed, and its exposure brings the truth 
itself into disrepute. 

The first argument alleged in favour of pleasure is 
that pleasure is the one thing which all creatures, rational 
and irrational, desire; which proves that it must be 
the Summum Bonum, because all creatures are led by 
nature to their good, as they are to their proper food. 
Aristotle defends this argument in so far as it is founded 
on a universal instinct; o yap Tracri SOKCI TOUT' eu/ai </>a/Av. 
'Those who dispute this will hardly find any better 
ground of certainty. Even in the inferior animals nature 
has infused something of a higher strain which aims at 
that which is good for them.' I will not dwell on the 
somewhat technical argumentation which follows, but pass 
on at once to Aristotle's own view of Pleasure, which 
comes in, like a virtuous mean, between the two extreme 
views. Pleasure is something complete in itself at each 
successive moment of time. It is an accompaniment 
of the natural activity of the healthy organ or faculty, 
and is better in proportion to the excellence of the faculty. 


It is thus a sort of crowning perfection or consummation 
of the activity '. Uninterrupted pleasure is an impossi- 
bility, because our faculties are not capable of uninterrupted 
exercise. Since pleasure is thus bound up with the activity, 
and is sweetest when that is best, it is evident that, in 
seeking to exercise their living powers, all things seek the 
pleasure which is the accompaniment and token of their 
most perfect exercise. Thus we may say indifferently that 
we desire pleasure for the sake of life, or life for the sake 
of pleasure. 

Pleasures are of different kinds in accordance with 
the differences of the faculties and activities to which 
they are attached. Each activity is promoted and inten- 
sified by its own pleasure ; for instance, he who takes 
pleasure in a particular study is likely to succeed best in 
it. On the other hand the activity is impeded by an 
alien pleasure, as the sound of a flute makes it difficult 
for a musician to attend to a speech. 

Since activities differ in a moral point of view, and 
we call some good, some bad ; there must be the same 
difference among pleasures. Again, the pleasures of in- 
tellect differ in purity from those of sense ; and the 
pleasures of sight, hearing, and smell, from those of 
taste and touch. Each species of animal has its own 
specific pleasures, as it has its own powers and activities. 
Even among men we find great varieties of liking, for 
instance the healthy man and the sick man have a 
different judgment as to what is sweet. Amid these 
varieties we shall make the perfect man our stand- 
ard : that is true pleasure which is pleasure to 

1 rt\fioi ri)v tvtpytiav 17 ijSoH), o{/x wJ i] ivvvdp X' vffa, dXX' wj 
{riyiv6ncv6i> TI rAos, ctov TOIJ aKnalott TJ wpo, X. 4. 


him '. But it is no wonder that these pleasures are not 
agreeable to corrupt and degraded natures, nor on the other 
hand that what they think pleasures are abhorrent to the 
virtuous man. 

Aristotle here reverts to his definition of happiness, 
'an activity in accordance with excellence,' and preemi- 
nently with the highest excellence, which is that of the 
highest part of the soul, the reason (vov?). The highest 
happiness therefore consists in activity of the reason, i. e. 
in philosophy (eyepyeia Oewp-rjTiKTj). This activity is capable 
of being sustained longer than any other. It is also the 
pleasantest, the least dependent on circumstances, and 
the freest from care ; and it is sought for its own sake 
without reference to any further result to be gained by 
it. Such a life of calm contemplation (fowpi'a) continued 
through an adequate period is the highest human happi- 
ness 2 . Nay, it is more than human, for it is only by virtue 
of the divine element within him that man is capable 
of living such a life. And in whatever proportion that 

1 (anv iado-rov ^rpov -rj dperrj KO\ 6 d.ya6(>s jj roioPros, Kal i)5ova.l 
(lev dv al Tot'/Ttp (f>aiv6fj.fvat Kcd rjSta. ols OUTOJ x<x/pet, x - 5 

2 This high estimate of the philosophic life is common to all the 
great thinkers of antiquity; see Grant I. p. 197. It is echoed in 
Virgil's Ale vero primum dukes ante omnia Musae accipiant, caelique 
vias et sidera monstrent, G. II. 475 ; and in the description of 
Elysium, Aen. VI. 721. The distinction between the Active and the 
Contemplative life was familiar in the Middle Ages, and supposed 
to be symbolized in the persons of Leah and Rachel, Martha and 
Mary ; see Aquinas Summa Sec. Sec. Qu. 180. But our word 
' contemplatipn ' is scarcely an equivalent for Aristotle's Seupia, 
suggesting rather the Imitatio Christi than the speculations of a 
Newton or a Kant, or the poetic musings of a Milton or a Words- 
worth ; which would certainly approach nearer to Aristotle's concep- 
tion or what constituted the joy of the philosophic life. 



divine element transcends man's mixed and composite 
nature, in the same proportion will his purely rational 
activities transcend those which are inspired by the other 
virtues 1 . We often hear it said, that man should be content 
with his lot and not seek to rise above the limits of 
mortality; but, if we would attain the highest happiness, we 
must do the very contrary to this, train ourselves, as far as 
may be, to think and feel as immortals, and to live with a 
constant reference to that which is best and highest in our 
nature*. For that, after all, is the man's truest self; and 
it would be absurd to prefer another's life to that which 
is in the truest sense our own proper life. All other 
virtues, and the happiness which flows from them, are, 
in comparison with contemplation, human as opposed 
to divine. They are necessary for society and for the 
business of life ; they are bound up with man's composite 
nature, with the passions as well as with the reason, 
with the corporeal as well as with the spiritual ; they are 
more or less dependent on circumstances, (thus the liberal 
man and the just man need some amount of property 
if they are to give proof of their justice and liberality), 
while the contemplative life needs only the minimum of 
external prosperity. On the other hand the contempla- 
tive life is the only one which we can ascribe to the 
Gods. For what sort of actions would be congruous 
with our idea of the divine nature? Not just acts; for 

1 See, on the divine principle in man, Grant's Aristotle I. p. 296, 
and the passage quoted there from Gen. Anim. n. 3. 10, \elTrerai 
rbv vow i.ibvov BupaOff iirttffifrcu leal Oeiov flvat novov. 

* oil xprj (card rous rapatvovvTas dvOpdiiriva. <f>poi>eiv dvOpuirov ovra. 
ovdt Ovqra. TOI> OVTJTOV, a\X' <f> oaov (vdixerat^fiv KO.I irara 
Trout* rpij TO fijv Kara TO KpdrtffTcv TWJ> ev airr<?, X. 7. 



what have they to do with contracts and deposits? nor 
brave acts; for what danger can threaten them? nor 
temperate acts; for what passions have they to need 
restraint ? And yet the Gods are in the full enjoyment 
of conscious life. If then this life is not one of action, 
still less one of production, nothing remains but that 
it should be a life of contemplation. And thus it is 
in the contemplative life that man approaches most 
nearly the eternal blessedness of the Gods. The other 
animals have no share in happiness because they are 
incapable of contemplation. 

Something of external prosperity is needed for the 
putting forth of that activity which constitutes happiness, 
but the wisest of men are agreed that what is needful 
is very small. And if there is any providential care of 
mankind, surely it is reasonable to suppose that he who 
cherishes reason above all things, and passes his life in 
harmony with reason, will be dear to those to whom 
reason is dear, and consequently under the special charge 
of the Gods and receive from them all he needs. 

Our theory is now complete, but theory has little 
influence except with the small minority who are pre- 
disposed to virtue. The mass of mankind are insensible 
to appeals to reason or honour. Living by the rule of 
their passions they know of no higher pleasures than can 
be obtained through these. What is to be done, if such 
as these are to be reformed ? Some hold that goodness 
is a gift of nature, some that it comes from teaching, 
others that it comes from habituation. If the first is 
a true account, we can ascribe it only to a special divine 
blessing ; the second, as we have said, is only efficacious 
where the soul of the learner has been duly prepared, 


as soil to receive good seed, by being accustomed to like 
and dislike as he ought ; when a man is once enslaved 
to his passions, there is no reasoning with him. We must 
therefore begin a course of habituation early in life. It 
is a part of the duty of the State to provide a system of 
public education and to enforce discipline by punish- 
ments, and this authoritative control should be con- 
tinued through the whole of life, as at Sparta. Where 
such a system does not exist, private individuals should 
do their best to train and influence for good those who 
come within their reach. For this purpose it is necessary 
that they should endeavour to acquaint themselves with 
the principles of legislation and gain something of the 
spirit of a legislator. But where and how is this to be 
learnt? Up to the present time we have nothing but 
the empirical politics of the statesman, or the doctrinaire 
politics of the sophist. Aristotle proposes to construct 
a science of Politics from which to determine the nature 
of the best State and the laws by which it will train its 
citizens to virtue. 

The sequel to the Ethics, as we might infer from the 
last sentence, is to be found in the Politics. Before 
proceeding to the analysis of the latter, I will make one 
or two brief remarks upon the former. First, as to 
Aristotle's general conception of Ethics, is he to be called 
a Eudaemonist? So it has often been said, because he 
makes evSai^ovta the end to which man's life and actions 
should be referred. But the well-being and well-doing, 
the ev^wia and cvrrpa^ia, which constitute the evSai/xoVia 
of Aristotle, are carefully distinguished from any form of 
pleasurable sensation. "EvSaifiovla with him is a particular 



kind of putting forth of the powers of the soul, which is 
intrinsically good by itself, quite apart from the pleasure 
which, as a matter of fact, attends it like its shadow. 
Virtuous activity does not become good because it is a 
means to pleasure; it is good as being itself the end we 
should aim at. We admire it in and for itself, as we 
admire a beautiful statue. This view is of course very 
far removed from the Epicurean and also from the 
modern Utilitarian. It agrees with these in so far as it 
determines the quality of our actions by referring them 
immediately to an end, instead of to an absolute law, or 
intuitive conception of right; but the end is neither 
pleasure to self nor pleasure to others, but the perfect 
fulfilment of the Ipyov of man. And to know what this 
perfect fulfilment is, we must fall back on reason em- 
bodied in the judgment of the wise man. It is no doubt 
a grave defect in Aristotle's system, as compared with 
Utilitarianism or with Christianity, that in determining 
the quality of actions, he only incidentally, as in the dis- 
cussion on friendship, notices their influence on the well- 
being of others; in fact, he nowhere gives any clear 
statement of the grounds of reason on which the wise man 
founds his judgment as to the virtuous mean. Secondly, 
as to the doctrine of the 'Mean' itself, I think every one 
must feel that, while it is highly important to insist on 
balance, proportion, moderation, as an element of a 
perfect character, yet to make this the differentia of virtue, 
is both superficial and misleading. Aristotle himself 
confesses that the definition is not always strictly 
applicable; and, if we try to apply it to the higher 
Christian conception of virtue, as love towards God and 
Man, it of course fails utterly: there can be no excess of 


such love. But confining ourselves to cases which 
Aristotle gives, and where the doctrine of the mean 
might seem least unsatisfactory, as in the definition of 
courage, this would seem to imply that there is a certain 
quality or instinct, which is found existing in three 
different degrees; a small degree constituting cowardice, 
a somewhat larger amount courage, a larger still rashness. 
Whereas the truth is that, while courage and rashness do 
differ in degree, and spring from the same instinctive root, 
cowardice differs from them both in kind, and springs 
from an entirely different instinct. There cannot be less 
of the natural impulse which, moralized and rationalized, 
becomes courage, than none at all; yet such a negative 
state would never give rise to the impulse to run away, 
which springs from another positive principle, the desire 
of self-preservation. Aristotle's 'Mean' is in fact an 
attempt to express two distinct circumstances in regard 
to the moral constitution of man, one that the several 
instincts are indeed the raw material of as many virtues, 
but that, if untrained and unchecked, they run to excess 
and become vices; and, secondly, that the perfect 
character is one in which all the various instincts are 
harmoniously developed, so that the adventurous instinct, 
for instance, is balanced by the cautious instinct; one 
giving rise to the virtue of courage, the other to the virtue 
of prudence. The last point on which I shall touch is 
the divergence between the Aristotelian and Christian 
ethics. I have mentioned the absence of benevolence 
from Aristotle's list of virtues. In this he fails to give a 
right idea of our relation towards our fellow-men; but 
the main defects of his system arise from his defective 
idea of our relation to God. In regard to theology, as in 



regard to every thing else, Aristotle seeks to find some 
confirmation for his own view in the ordinary belief of 
men. He thinks that the human race is for ever passing 
through alternate cycles of barbarism and civilization, 
and that in the traditional beliefs of men we may see, as 
it were, a ray of earlier light which has not been entirely 
extinguished in its passage through succeeding dark- 
ness 1 . [Such is Aristotle's matter-of-fact rendering of 
the 'Reminiscence' (aya/Avrycns) of Plato*.] It is this 
primaeval tradition which teaches us that all nature is 
encompassed by Deity, and that the heaven itself and 
the heavenly bodies are divine. But this original belief 
has got incrusted with mythological additions, partly 
owing to man's natural tendency to generalize his own 
experience 3 , and attribute to the Gods whatever belongs 
to himself; and partly to design on the part of legislators 
with a view to moral or political expediency. While 
Aristotle considers these fables unworthy of serious atten- 
tion * he is not roused like Plato, to protest against their 
immoral tendency. Nor, again, will he accept Plato's idea 
of God as the Creator and Governor of the world. Such 
an idea appears to him unworthy of the Deity and incon- 
sistent with . the blessedness which we ascribe to Him. 
The supreme God of Aristotle is the perfection of wisdom, 
the never-ceasing cause of all the beauty and order of the 
universe; but we cannot speak of Him as acting, or, as 

1 Cf. Zeller, il. 2. p. 792 with the references, especially Met. xil. 8. 
a See above p. 43. 

3 Cf. Pol. I. 2, ucrirep TO. etST) iavrois atpofAoiovau> ol dvQpuiroi, 
OVTU Kal TOI>J fiiovs ruv 6ei3v. 

4 Met. II. 4, irepl TUJC fj.v9t.Kus fftxtufrntixav (such as Hesiod) OVK 
a^iov nera. ffirovS jj ffKoirfiif. 

M.P. 9 

I 3 


displaying moral virtue; He is not in any sense a 
moral Governor ; no idea of Duty or of Sin arises in 
us at the thought of the relation in which we stand to 
Him. The same reason may probably explain why 
humility is treated as a failing; why nothing is said of 
purity, as distinct from self-mastery ; and why the descrip- 
tion of the crowning virtue of magnanimity, presents so 
much that is offensive to our present feeling. There is 
a further difference between the Aristotelian and the 
Christian views as to the immortality of the soul. Aris- 
totle, it is true, allows immortality to yos, the rational 
element in man, but his statements in regard to the 
continuance of a separate individual existence after death 
are extremely vague 1 . The thought of immortality is far 
from having the same practical influence with him, as it 
had with Plato. 

I proceed now to the analysis of the Politics*, which 
commences, as is usual in Aristotle's writings, with a broad 
generalization 8 . 

Every association aims at some good, and the State, as 
the highest and most comprehensive association, at the 
highest and most comprehensive good. The elements of 

1 See Grant, Ethics of Aristotle I. p. 294 foil. 

2 English editions by Eaton, 1855, and Congreve, ed. u, 1874 ; a 
better one of books i, 3, 4 with translation by Bolland and Lang, 
1878. See Oncken Staatslehre des Aristoteles, 1877, and an essay on 
'Aristotle's conception of the State' by A. C. Bradley in Hellenica. 

8 It is a great drawback to this interesting and admirable book 
that it has come down to us in such a confused and fragmentary 
state. In my analysis I have arranged the topics in the order which 
seemed to me most natural, disregarding altogether the order of the 
books after the first two. 


the State, in the ultimate analysis, are male and female, 
ruler and ruled. Society originates in the instinctive and 
necessary combination of these elements, for the sake of 
the preservation and perpetuation of the race. The 
simplest form of society is the family, consisting of 
husband, wife, children, slave. Out of a combination of 
families is produced the village (KM/A*?), governed by the 
eldest progenitor ; out of a combination of villages is 
produced the complete and self-sufficing organization of 
the State (TTO'AIS) still under the government of One. 
Though later in time, this is essentially prior (-n-porepov 
<f>vo-ei) to the family or the individual, as every whole is 
prior to its parts, because man is by nature a political 
animal, and only attains his perfection in the State. 
Whoever is unfitted for the State must be either above or 
below humanity (r) Oeos rj QtjpLov). Without political 
society man is without justice and law, and becomes 
the worst of animals, as he is the best armed with courage 
and craft. 

The theory of the Family has to do with persons and 
with possessions. In regard to the former it embraces 
the relations of master to slave, of husband to wife, 
of father to child. To these relations correspond three 
forms of government, despotism, civil magistracy, mon- 
archy. As to the question whether slavery is natural and 
lawful or not, it would seem that, if there are any men 
whose epyov consists in bodily activity alone, and who 
can only be said to have a share in reason in so far as, 
without possessing it themselves, they are capable of 
receiving it from others, from whom they differ as much 
as the body differs from the soul, then slavery is the 
best condition for them, and they are by nature slaves : 


I 3 2 


but where this difference is not found, as in the case of 
Greeks enslaved by Greeks, there slavery is unnatural and 
unlawful. The slave, not possessing the deliberative 
faculty, is only capable of the inferior virtues, such as 
temperance, in the degree in which they are needed for 
his work. There is a corresponding difference between 
the virtue of a man, a woman and a child 1 . 

In treating of wealth we have to distinguish between 
what is real and what is factitious. In increasing 
the former we actually increase the general stock of 
useful things by agriculture, hunting, or otherwise; in 
increasing the latter we merely add to our own store of 
money, which is simply a convenient token. The worst 
and most unnatural form of accumulation is usury. 

The Second Book commences with a criticism of 
Plato's Republic. It is founded on the wrong principle, 
that unity is the perfection of the State. So far from this 
being the case, the State, as it approaches unity, loses its 
character of a community, becoming first a family, then 
an individual Even if unity were the perfection of the 
State, Socrates (Aristotle prefers to make him the nominal 
opponent) uses the wrong means to attain it. For (i) as 
regards community of women, it is impossible for 'all to 
have all in common,' if we use the word 'all' distributive- 
ly; and, if it is used collectively, (affirming a general 

1 o SoOXos oXws oi>K % r6 f3ov\evTiic6t> t TO 5t 6r)\v 
aXX' aKvpov, 6 $t ircuj %, a'XX" dre\4s...uffre oi^x "n o-vrri 
ffdxppoffvvri yvvaucbs /ecu dvSp&s, ov8' dvdpia icai Sticaiofftjri), KO.da.irep 
<pero SavcpaTijs, aXX' 17 ntv apxiicf), i; 5' irirtipeTiKri. Compare, on the 
difference of the male and female character, CEcon. I. 3, and the 
very elaborate comparison in the Hist. An. ix. i, quoted by Zeller 
II. i. p 688. 



right, without granting to each the enjoyment of that 
right), this would have no tendency to produce harmony. 
(2) Such policy would lead to an absence of interest : 
every man's duty being no man's duty. The sonship pro- 
posed would be a weaker tie than the most distant relation- 
ship now recognized. (3) It is impracticable : resemblance 
would betray the closer relationship. (4) Concealment of 
relationship would open the door to offences against 
nature. (5) As regards property, Communism destroys the 
charm of property and the virtue of liberality'. (6) The 
State is split up into two nations differing altogether in 
manners and institutions. (7) The argument from the 
customs of animals (ots oiovo/u'as ovBev //.eVecrriv) to 
the customs of men, ignores the moral difference be- 
tween the two. After urging these and similar objec- 
tions, Aristotle proceeds to point out defects in the more 
practical Ideal contained in the Laws, as also in the 
ideal commonwealths of Phaleas and others. He dis- 
cusses, by the way, how far it is desirable to make 
changes in laws. On the one hand, laws need constant 
improvement ; men should not care for antiquity but for 
utility. On the other hand, since laws derive their force 
from custom, every change must weaken the reverence 
which the citizens should have for the constitution. The 
book ends with an account of the constitutions of Sparta, 
Crete &c. 

Existing forms of government may be classified as 
follows. A State may be ruled by One, by the few who are 
rich, or by the many who are poor ; and the rule is just or 
unjust, as it is for the public good, or for the good of the 

1 See p. 1263 @\TIOI> elvai> ISLas rds *m;<retj, rjj dt 



rulers only. We shall thus have three normal or legitimate 
forms of government and three perversions (Trapex/SaVeis), 
monarchy (/foo-iAeta) with its perversion tyranny (rvpai'i is), 
aristocracy (apio-TOKpcm'a) with its perversion oligarchy 
(dAiyapxta), and republic (iroAirei'a) with its perversion 
democracy (Sv/yxoKparta). Each of these is better or worse 
in proportion as it is adapted to the nature and position 
of the people, and as it approaches to the ideal State, the 
true apioTOKparia, of which the end is to dispose all the 
citizens to a noble and virtuous activity; not simply to train 
for war, as Lycurgus sought to do, but far more to foster 
the peaceful virtues of self-control, justice, wisdom, 
since all war is undertaken for the sake of peace, as 
all business for the sake of leisure. This ideal State 
requires certain external advantages (as the good man 
his /3ios Te'Aeios). It must not be too small for strength, 
or too large for unity 1 ; must possess a country fruitful, not 
luxurious, well situated for commerce and for defence. 
The people must neither have the fierceness of the North, 
nor the softness of the East, but combine spirit with 
intelligence like the Greeks, who are the mean between 
these two extremes. None can be admitted to citizenship 
who are incapable of exercising the virtues of the 
citizen, which in the ideal State will be identical with 
all human virtue. That is to say, all the citizens will 
be gentlemen enjoying an honorable and virtuous leisure 
(cr^oA.a^ovTS cAeu^epiws a/xa /cat (rwe^povtos Pol. VII. 5 p. 
1326), supported in part by the State and in part by 
their hereditary allotments, which will -be worked for them 

1 It is remarkable that Aristotle, writing after the conquests of 
Alexander, seems to have no suspicion that the Stateof the future would 
exceed the limits of a Greek 


by slaves or other dependents. They will have common 
meals, as at Sparta, and form the standing army during 
the military age, after which they will be employed in 
civil duties and such magistracies as they may be appointed 
to by the common vote. Their highest work, however, 
will be thought and study, the advancement of science 
and the superintendence of education. When age unfits 
them for more active duties they will become eligible for 
the priesthood. The number of citizens and allotments 
being strictly limited by law, it will be the duty of the 
magistrates to regulate marriage with a view to restrict the 
number of children and to prevent any but the healthiest 
and strongest being reared. Children born under the 
conditions sanctioned by the law will be taught at home 
till their yth year, and will then be sent to the public 
schools, where the education will be directed to train 
the body, the feelings, and the reason for a noble life. 
Unfortunately we have only an incomplete account of 
the subjects of education. Besides Reading and Writing, 
Drawing is recommended as training the eye to beauty 
of form ; Music is praised, not only for the pleasure it 
gives, but for its power of calming the passions and 
generally for its moral influence : it is the natural 
expression of emotion and tends to produce the emotion 
which it expresses ; it is therefore of great importance to 
exclude all music which is of a vulgar or debasing 
character. Education should be general and liberal, not 
utilitarian or professional 1 . One of its chief uses is to 
teach the proper use of leisure (cr^oAaeiv 

1 TO %-rfTeiv iravraxov TO xpfl (ri V- ov ^Kiara. dpfj.6 fet 

KQ.I TOtS t\fV0tpOlS. Pol, V. p. 13380. 


To return to existing constitutions, Monarchy is allow- 
able where one citizen far surpasses all the others in 
wisdom and virtue, or where the mass of the people 
are only fit for subjection, as in the East. Aristocracy 
is allowable where the qualitative superiority of the 
wealthy more than counterbalances the quantitative supe- 
riority of the poor. A republic is best where the citizens 
are nearly on a level in respect to the contribution of 
service which they bring to the State. It has an advantage 
because it interests the majority in the government; and 
though, taken separately, the poor may be inferior to the 
rich, yet in combination they may surpass them ; as for 
instance the popular judgment is decisive in works of 
art. They should share in any part of government which 
can be safely intrusted to a number, and have a voice in 
electing the higher officers. Each of these three normal 
constitutions is better in itself and more likely to be per- 
manent, the more it borrows from the other two, and 
the more influence it allows to the middle class which 
forms the link between rich and poor. Revolutions 
are brought about by the excess of the characteristic 
quality of each constitution, as an oligarchy is over- 
thrown by the temper shown in the oligarchical oath 
' I will be an enemy of the Commons and do them all 
the harm I can V The true policy is the exact contrary; 
the government should show special tenderness to the 
interest which it does not itself represent. It is a sign 
of a good, i.e. an appropriate constitution, when no portion 
of the body politic is desirous of organic change. The 
functions of government are Deliberative, Administrative 

1 Tif SrjfMf KaKbvovs tffo/j.a.i Kdl povXeuffu 5 r^ fo ^w KO.K.OV. Pol. V. 9. 



and Judicial. General principles should be as far as 
possible laid down by the Law, leaving only questions 
of fact and details of application to be determined by 
votes of assemblies or the judgment of the magistrate. 
When the Law rules, it is the rule of Reason and of God; 
when man rules, without law, he brings with him the 
wild beast of passion '. 

Aristotle treats at considerable length of the varieties 
of each kind of constitution, e.g. of the difference caused 
in the nature of a democracy, according as the citizens 
are mainly agricultural or manufacturing, and as the 
franchise is higher or lower. He points out, with very 
full historical illustrations, the characteristics of each 
variety, the dangers to which it is exposed and the 
means of guarding against them. Many of the maxims 
of Machiavelli's Prince are taken from Aristotle's chapters 
on the Tyrant. The broad distinction between the 
normal constitution and its perversion seems here to 
pass into a gradation of varieties, a view which is per- 
haps more in accordance with actual facts. 

It is strange that, in constructing his Ideal State, 
Aristotle should have fallen into some of the errors which 
he condemns in Plato. As far as we can judge from the 
imperfect sketch which he has left, there would have been 
less of common feeling between his gentleman-citizens and 
the urban and rural population by whose labour they are 
supported, than between Plato's Guardians and Artizans. 
The latter had at any rate the name of citizens, and Plato 

ovv rbv 

KOLI rbv vovv fi.6vovs, d 5' fftftmf KfXevwv irpoaTi&rjffi. Kal 6rjptoi>. 
Pel. III. 16. 


makes provision for raising promising boys from the lower 
class into the higher. Probably Aristotle thought that the 
disaffection of citizens was likely to be more dangerous 
than that of slaves or Metoeci, who were sure to recognize 
their own unfitness to rule. The philosophic disbelief 
in the possibility of virtue, i.e. of thoughtfulness and a 
sense of honour, in artizans and labourers (^rcs and 
/Javavoroi), becomes more remarkable when we remember 
that many of the philosophers themselves belonged to 
this class, from the time of Protagoras the porter, and 
the Socratics Aeschines and Simon, down to the time 
of the slave Epictetus. Again Aristotle, no less than 
Plato, is open to the charge of making regulations Trapa 
<f>v<nv, when he sanctions abortion and exposure of infants. 
The contrast between Aristotle's philosophy of Man 
and his philosophy of Nature, between the richness of 
ideas, the exhaustive analysis, the firm grasp of fact, the 
sound judgment, which characterize the former, and the 
barren notionalism which is too prevalent in the latter, 
is a striking justification of Socrates' resolve to keep clear 
of physics. Aristotle indeed is unfortunate even as com- 
pared with other ancient writers on the same subject 
While Parmenides and Plato, as we have seen, profess to 
give nothing more than guesses as to the nature of the 
Universe, Aristotle puts forward his views with an air of 
scientific precision which makes his mistakes seem all the 
more absurd; and he often deliberately rejects anticipa- 
tions of later science which may be found in the writings 
of his predecessors. Thus Pythagoras having guessed 
that the earth was a planet moving round the central fire 
of the Universe, Aristotle rebukes him for not squaring 
his causes and theories with the apparent facts, but en- 



deavouring to force facts to suit his fancies (De Caelo, 11. 
13)'. So Democritus had already exploded the doctrine 
of the four elements, substituting for it the more scientific 
conception of atoms; similarly he had explained circular 
movement as a resultant of various rectilinear move- 
ments; and Epicurus afterwards distinctly controverted 
the attribution of a natural upward movement to air 
and fire 2 , as well as the Aristotelian limitation of Space 8 . 
And yet, if we hold Plato right in describing the 
philosopher as one who is enamoured of all truth and all 
knowledge", we can hardly blame Aristotle either for 
his boundless curiosity in seeking to ascertain facts and 
causes, or for his endeavour to harmonize all facts, 
whether of inner or outer experience, and so to build 
up one all-embracing body of science. No doubt he, 
like his predecessors, thought the human microcosm 
to be a truer mirror of the macrocosm than it really is, 
and was disposed to assume as a law of the objective 
universe whatever appeared to satisfy our subjective needs 
and tastes; and yet he made a decided advance by 
insisting on the importance of observation, and on the 
necessity of testing theory by comparison with the actual 
phenomena*. Again it is no doubt true that when he 

1 It is probable, however, that, in this criticism, Aristotle is 
thinking chiefly of the Anti-Chthon, invented for the purpose of 
making up the sacred number Ten. 

* See Lucr. II 185. 

3 Lucr. I 958. 

4 Rep. V. 475- 

6 See Gen. An. ill. 10. 75. 'From our reasoning and from the 
apparent facts, such would seem to be the truth about the bees ; but 
the facts have not yet been fully ascertained : when they have been, 



ventured into the province of Physical Science, Aristotle 
was endeavouring to map out a terra incognita which he 
had no means for exploring. He had neither the 
methods nor the instruments which were needed: but 
were men to wait for the microscope and telescope, or 
for the full development of the various branches of 
mathematical and physical science, before formulating 
any ideas on the general character of the universe in 
which they were placed? Now, that we know that 
Aristotle was following a blind path in his endless refine- 
ments on the meaning of 'motion' and similar terms, we 
may find his physical treatises 'inexpressibly fatiguing 
and unfruitful 1 ;' but the question is, whether it was not 
worth while to make some attempt at a working hypo- 
thesis which might supply men with a framework in 
which to arrange their thoughts and feelings with regard 
to the nature of the world around them. There is a 
value in the prophet's vision as well as in the historian's 
narrative; and men may be thankful to the philosopher 
who gives wings to their imagination and extends the 
limit of their mental horizon, however much he may 
have failed to anticipate the revelations of modern 

To turn now to the history of Aristotle's writings. 
All readers of Aristotle have had to complain of the 
defective arrangement and the general abstruseness of 

then we must trust observation more than theory, and only trust our 
theory if it gives results corresponding to the phenomena,' TOIJ 
X6-yo Kurrtvrtov kb.v 6ft.o\oyo^fva dtiicvvuffi ro?j <f>aivo^voi^. Com- 
pare a multitude of similar passages in Bonitz's Index under 

1 Lewes Aristotle, p. 177. 



his works. This has been accounted for, partly, by the 
supposition that the treatises which have come down to us 
under his name, consist of notes for lectures hastily revised 
by himself, or edited after his death by his disciples, and 
partly by the story, reported by Strabo and others, of their 
concealment for nearly 150 years in the cellar of Neleus. 
According to this story, the Library and MSS. of Aristotle 
passed, at the death of his successor Theophrastus, into 
the hands of Neleus, a pupil of the latter, and were taken 
by him to Scepsis, a city which was then under the rule of 
the kings of Pergamus. These kings appear to have paid 
little regard to the rights of property in their desire to 
augment the royal library, which was almost as renown- 
ed as that of the Ptolemies; and the descendants of 
Neleus could only preserve their treasures by hiding 
them in a cellar where they suffered much from worms 
and damp. When the last Attalus left his kingdom to 
the Romans in 133 B.C., the then owner of the MSS. 
brought them out from their concealment and sold them 
to Apellicon, a Peripatetic residing at Athens, who at 
once had copies made, and endeavoured, not very succes- 
fully, to restore the text where it was defective. The 
library of Apellicon was seized by Sulla on his conquest 
of Athens in 86 B.C., and transported to Rome, where 
the Aristotelian MSS. once more fell into the hands of a 
competent reader in the person of the Rhodian Androni- 
cus, who brought out a new edition in which the treatises 
were rearranged and the text much improved. This 
edition is considered to be the foundation of our existing 
text of Aristotle. There seems no doubt that somehow 
or other the abstruser works of Aristotle had been lost to 
common use not many years after his death. Strabo 


tells us that only a few of the more popular treatises were 
in the possession of the Peripatetic school at Athens, and 
this is what we might infer from the manner in which Cicero 
speaks of the style of Aristotle, 1 using expressions which 
are certainly anything but appropriate to the books which 
have come down to us, as well as from the comparative 
frequency of his references to the lost Dialogues. Again 
we find in Diogenes Laertius a list taken probably from 
the catalogue of the Alexandrine Library, containing the 
names of 146 separate Aristotelian treatises, of which 
more than twenty are dialogues. This would represent 
Aristotle as he was known at the beginning of the and 
century B.C. Our existing Aristotle consists of 46 treatises, 
very few of which appear in the list of Diogenes. 

As a specimen of the more popular style by which 
Aristotle was best known during the interval from Theo- 
phrastus to Andronicus I insert here a translation of a 
passage from his dialogue De Philosophia preserved by 
Cicero (N. D. u. 95). 

'Imagine a race of men who had always lived under 
ground in beautiful houses adorned with pictures and 
statues and every luxury of wealth. Suppose that some 
dim rumour of a divine being had reached them in their 
subterranean world. Then suppose that the earth were 
to open and they ascended up from their dark abodes 
and saw before them all the wonders of this world. 
Could they doubt, when they beheld the earth and the 
sea and the sky with its gathering clouds and its mighty 
winds, and the glory and majesty of the sun as he floods 
the heaven with the light of day, and then the starry 

1 See Acad. n. 119, veniet flumen orationis aureum fundtns 
Aristotf/fs, and the other passages cited in Grote's Aristotle, i. 43. 



heaven of night, and the varying brightness of the waxing 
and the waning moon, and the regular movements of all 
the heavenly bodies and their risings and settings 
governed by an everlasting and unchanging law, could 
they doubt that the Gods really existed, and that these 
mighty works were theirs ?' 

With the death of Aristotle a new age begins. The 
fearless spirit of Greek thought which had soared up- 
wards as on eagle wings to the empyrean, gazing with 
Plato on the Ideas clustered around the one supreme 
Idea of Good, contemplating with Aristotle the Thought 
of Thought, the Form and End and Cause of all existence, 
sank back to earth in weariness when once the spell of 
the mighty masters was removed. A feebler generation 
followed whose lot was cast in a more ungenial time. As 
the great prae-Socratic movement had terminated in the 
scepticism of the Sophists, so this greater movement 
produced its natural reaction in the scepticism of Pyrrho 
and the later Academy. Even the dogmatic systems 
which sprang up along with them, while asserting man's 
claim to know, yet changed the object and limited the 
range of knowledge, as it was understood by the preceding 
age. Lofty idealist systems require strenuous effort of 
thought and imagination on the part of their adherents, if 
they are not to wither into mere empty phrases and 
barren formalism. While the founders live, enthusiastic 
faith gives a motive for effort, and supplies any deficiency 
in the evidence demanded by reason: when that first 
enthusiasm has died away, slumbering doubts awake in 
the minds of the more independent disciples, and the ruder 
and coarser among them are likely to seize on some one 



portion or aspect of the master's teaching, losing sight 
of its more subtle and refined elements, and to make 
that stand for the whole ; or perhaps they break away 
altogether and fall back on some earlier and simpler 

So here, men were not only repelled by the difficulty 
of understanding what Plato and Aristotle really meant; 
they had further positive grounds for departing from 
them when they found them opposed to each other on 
essential points, such as the nature and import of ideas, 
when they saw the weaknesses of the former laid bare in 
the criticisms of the latter, and became aware of the 
vagueness and uncertainty which characterized the 
the critic's own utterances in regard to questions of deep 
practical interest such as the nature of God and the provi- 
dential government of the world. Under these circum- 
stances those who still believed that it was possible for men 
to attain to knowledge, practically limited the range of 
knowledge to what had reference to man's own immediate 
use ; all that they asked for was knowledge so far as it 
is needed to direct the life of man ; and by man they 
meant the individual standing alone, not man as the 
citizen of a Greek TroAis. We shall see, when we come to 
speak of the Stoics, in what way the political circum- 
stances of the time contributed to this change of view. 
Again, the abstruseness and indefiniteness, which offended 
them in preceding philosophers, were especially connected 
with Ideas and Forms, with the depreciation of the senses 
and the glorification of incorporeal spirit. All this might 
be avoided by the assumption that the sole ground of 
knowledge is sensation, and that body is the only thing 
which can either act or be acted upon. The post- 


Aristotelian schools therefore were predominantly ethical, 
sensationalist, and materialist, as opposed to the idealistic 
metaphysics of the preceding age. 

Of these schools the least original and the least 
important is the Peripatetic. The immediate successor 
of Aristotle was Theophrastus, whose Characters and 
treatises on Botany we still possess, together with 
fragments of other works. He appears to have carried 
further his master's investigations upon particular points, 
without diverging from his general principles. Cicero 
charges him with assigning too much weight to fortune 
as an element of happiness. Strato, who succeeded 
him as head of the Lyceum in 287 B.C., dethroned the 
Nous of Aristotle, and explained the ordered movement of 
the universe by ascribing ' to the several parts of matter an 
inward plastic life, whereby they could artificially frame 
themselves to the best advantage according to their 
several capabilities without any conscious or reflexive 
knowledge V Cicero says that he is omnino semovendus 
from the true Peripatetics, as he abandoned ethics and 
departed very widely from his predecessors in physics, to 
which he confined himself. Aristoxenus and Dicaearchus 
were contemporaries of Theophrastus ; the former is 
chiefly known as the writer of the first scientific treatise 
on Music, the latter was a voluminous popular writer 
much esteemed by Cicero. He denied the immortality 
of the soul. After the time of Andronicus, mentioned 
above, the Peripatetics were chiefly known as laborious 
commentators. Cratippus presided over the school during 
the lifetime of Cicen\ who sent young Marcus to Athens 
to attend his lectures. 

1 Cudworth i. p. 149. 
M. P. 10 


The first name among the Sceptics is Pyrrho of Elis 
(fl. about 3 20 B.C.), who is said to have had some 
connexion with the Megarian and the Atomic schools, 
and to have accompanied Alexander on his expedition 
into India, and thus learnt something of the doctrines of 
the Magi and the Indian Gymnosophists. Perhaps the 
influence of the latter may be traced in the three posi- 
tions attributed to him, (i) that the wise man should 
practise eiro^, suspension of judgment, (2) that all 
external things are a'Sia^opa, matters of indifference to 
him, (3) that he will thus be free from passion and 
anxiety, and arrive at the condition of complete drapatia, 
imperturbability. Pyrrho left no writings, but his pupil, 
Timon of Phlius (fl. 2 80 B.C.), was a voluminous writer. 
We have a few fragments of his Silli, a satirical poem in 
which he ridiculed the tenets of other philosophers. 
When the Academy became sceptical there was no room 
for an independent Pyrrhonist school, but it revived in 
the person of Aenesidemus when the Academy became 
identified with an eclectic dogmatism under Antiochus. 
The sceptical argument was summed up in ten rpoVot, 
and is given in full in the works of Sextus Empiricus 
(fl. 200 A.D.). The most important points in it are 
as follows: (i) the discrepancy of opinions among wise 
and honest men, (2) the relativity of all knowledge, i.e. the 
manner in which it varies with the physical and mental 
conditions of the observer or thinker, (3) the impossibility 
of proving the first principles on which proof is based, 
(4) the petitio principii involved in the syllogism, the 
major premiss assuming the truth of the conclusion. 

We turn back now to trace the fortunes of the Academy, 


which may be conveniently divided into three schools, the 
Old, the Middle or Sceptical, and the Reformed or Eclectic 
Academy 1 . To the first belong the names of Speusippus 
Xenocrates and Polemo, who successively presided over 
the school between 347 and 270 B.C., as well as those 
of Heraclides of Pontus, Grantor and Crates. They 
appear to have modified the Platonic doctrines mainly 
by the admixture of Pythagorean elements. Grantor's 
writings were used by Cicero for his Consolatio and 
Tusculan Disputations. The chief expounders of the 
Middle Academy were its founder Arcesilaus 315 241 
B.C., (characterized in a line borrowed from the Homeric 
description of the Chimaera as irpoo-Oe IIAaTwv, oVitfev IIvp- 
pwv, /icVo-os AioSwpos, implying that by his dialectic 
quibbling he had changed the Platonism, which he pro- 
fessed, into a mere Pyrrhonism), Carneades of Cyrene 
214 129 B.C., one of the Athenian ambassadors to Rome 
in 155 B.C.*, and Clitomachus of Carthage, the literary 
exponent of the views of his master Carneades, who is 
said to have never written anything himself. They neg- 
lected the positive doctrine of Plato, and employed them- 
selves mainly in a negative polemic against the dogmatism 

1 Cicero only recognized the Old and the New Academy, the 
latter corresponding to what is above called the Middle Academy, 
but including Philo. Antiochus himself claimed to be a true 
representative of the Old Academy. Later writers made five 
Academic schools, the second founded by Arcesilaus, the third by 
Carneades, the fourth by Philo, the fifth by Antiochus. 

2 Carneades had an extraordinary reputation for acuteness and 
skill in argument, as is shown by a line of Lucilius (preserved by 
Lactantius v. 15), in which Neptune speaks of some question as 
insoluble even to a Carneades, nee si Cameaden ipsum ad nos Orcu' 
remit 't 'at. 

10 2 


of the Stoics, professing to follow the example of Socrates, 
though they thought that even he had approached too 
near to dogmatism in saying that he knew that he knew 
nothing. Probable opinion was the furthest point in the 
direction of knowledge to which man could attain. 

Cicero, in his Natura Deorum and Academica, and 
Sextus Empiricus have preserved to us several specimens 
of the arguments used by Carneades in order to prove 
the impossibility of the attainment of knowledge in the 
abstract, as well as to expose the errors and inconsistency 
of the knowledge professed by the Dogmatic schools of 
his time. Thus, if there is such a thing as knowledge, it 
must rest ultimately on the senses ; but the senses are 
constantly deceptive, and we have no means of dis- 
tinguishing between a true and a false sensation, the 
difference between objects being often so imperceptible 
that we are liable to mistake one for another. The 
impotence of reasoning as an instrument for the attain- 
ment of certain truth is shown by the Sorites and other 
logical puzzles. Dialectic only tests formal accuracy of 
procedure, it cannot assure us of the truth of that which 
we assume as the foundation of our reasoning. Like the 
polypus which feeds on its own limbs, it can destroy, but 
never establish proof. The Stoics allege universal con- 
sent as a proof of the existence of God. But this consent 
is not proved, and, if it were, the opinion of the ignorant 
has no weight. The Stoics further maintain that the 
world exhibits the perfection of reason in its constitution 
and that Divine Providence directs all things for the good 
of men. But many things exist for which we can see no 
reason, many which are distinctly injurious to mankind. 
Even the possession of reason is a very doubtful advan- 



tage; and we do not find that the wise and virtuous man 
is always prosperous. Granting that the world is perfect, 
why may not this perfection be the result of the un- 
conscious working of nature? Why are we bound to 
attribute it to the action of an intelligent Being ? Again 
it is impossible to form any consistent conception of God. 
The ideas of personality and infinity are mutually contra- 
dictory. Even to think of Him as the living God or the 
good God, is opposed to reason. For animal life is 
necessarily joined with feeling, and feeling implies 
consciousness of pleasure and pain, but whatever is 
capable of pain is liable to destruction by excess of pain. 
And how can we ascribe virtue to a Being who is 
supposed to have no weaknesses to conquer, no tempta- 
tions to resist ; who being all-powerful can have no need 
of prudence to devise means for attaining his ends, no 
need of courage to sustain him against danger? It is 
equally impossible to think of God either as corporeal or 
incorporeal. If he is the former, he must be either 
simple or compound : if he is compounded of different 
elements, he is naturally liable to dissolution; if he is a 
pure elementary substance, he must be without life and 
thought. On the other hand that which is incorporeal can 
neither feel nor act. In like manner it may be shown that 
it is impossible to make any assertion whatever about God. 
But though knowledge and certainty are unattainable, 
we are not left simply to act at hazard. Probability was 
the guide of life to Carneades, as to Bp. Butler; and he 
carefully distinguished degrees of probability. Thus a 
sensation might be of such a nature as to produce in us 
belief involuntarily; this he called (fravraa-ia irtOavTj, a 
persuasive presentation. Again, no sensation comes 


singly, and any one sensation is liable to be confirmed or 
weakened by the connected sensations. We may believe, 
for instance, that we see the figure of Socrates ; and this 
belief will be confirmed if we think we recognize his 
voice. If then all the associated sensations agree in 
confirming our belief, such a belief is called <f>avraa-ia 
cwrepiWacn-os, an undisturbed presentation. The highest 
degree of probability is when we have further investi- 
gated the conditions under which the sensation occurred 
(such as the soundness of the organ, the distance from 
the object etc.), and find nothing to raise suspicion as to 
its reality; belief is then called ^avraa-ia Trepua?>ev/j.evr], a 
thoroughly explored presentation. We have very little in- 
formation as to the particular doctrines to which Carneades 
assigned probability. One tradition says that in his old 
age, he relaxed in his irony, and became more free-spoken ', 
but his successor Clitomachus professed that he had 
never been able to ascertain what his real belief was*. 

The Reformed Academy may be regarded as com- 
mencing with Philo of Larissa, a pupil of Clitomachus 
and one of Cicero's teachers. In it we see a return 
to dogmatism combined with an eclectic tendency which 
showed itself most strongly in Philo's pupil Antiochus, 
who endeavoured to strengthen the Academy by uniting 
Stoic and Peripatetic doctrines with the original Platonism. 
Further details will be given when we come to speak of 
the influence of the Roman spirit on the development of 

We turn now to the two most important developments 
of post- Aristotelian philosophy, Stoicism and Epicurean- 
ism. To understand them it is necessary to look for a 

1 See Zeller in. i. p. 53i 3 . s Cic. Acad. u. 130. 


moment at the changes which had been brought about by 
the conquests of Alexander. While Greece proper lost 
its national life, the Greek language and Greek civilization 
spread throughout the world, and the Greeks in their turn 
became familiarized with Oriental thought and religion. 
Thus the two main supports of the authoritative tradition 
by which practical life had hitherto been regulated, the 
law of the State and the old religion of Greece, were 
shaken from their foundations. The need which was 
most strongly felt by the best minds was to find some 
substitute for these, some principle of conduct which 
should enable a man to retain his self-respect under the 
rule of brute force to which all were subject. It must be 
something which would enable him to stand alone, to defy 
the oppressor, to rise superior to circumstances. Such a 
principle the Stoics boasted to have found 1 . Zeno, 
the founder of the school, was a native of Citium in 
Cyprus. He came to Athens about 320 B.C. and attended 
the lectures of Crates the Cynic and afterwards of Stilpo 
the Megarian and of some of the Academics, and began 
to teach in the a-roa. TTOIKI\.VI about 308 B.C. He was 
succeeded by Cleanthes of Assos in Asia Minor about 
26oB.c. Among his other pupils were Aristo of Chius, 
Herillus of Carthage, Persaeus, who like his master 
was a native of Citium, and Aratus of Soli in Cilicia, the 
author of two astronomical poems translated by Cicero 
(N. D. ii. 104 115). Cleanthes was succeeded by 
Chrysippus of Soli (b. 280, d. 206), who did so 
much to develop and systematize the Stoic philosophy 
that he was called the Second Founder of the 

1 See the interesting treatise on Stoicism by W. W. Capes in the 
S. P.C.K. series, and Essay vi of the Introduction to Grant's Ethics. 



school 1 . Next came Zeno of Tarsus and Diogenes of 
Babylon, one of the three ambassadors to Rome in 155 B.C. 
From this time forward Stoicism begins to show a softened 
and eclectic tendency, as we may see in Panaetius 
of Rhodes (180 in B.C.), and also in his pupil Posi- 
donius of Apamea in Syria, of whom we shall have 
more to say hereafter. 

The end of philosophy with the Stoics was purely 
practical. Philosophy is identical with virtue. But since 
virtue consists in bringing the actions into harmony with 
the general order of the world, it is essential to know 
what this order is, and thus we arrive at the famous triple 
division of philosophy into physics, including cosmology 
and theology, which explains the nature and laws of the 
universe ; logic, which ensures us against deception and 
supplies the method for attaining to true knowledge; 
ethics, which draws the conclusion for practical life. The 
Stoics were famed for their logical subtilties, and are 
often referred to under the name Dialectici. They in- 
cluded in Logic both Rhetoric and Grammar, and 
made great improvements in the theory of the latter 
subject. The chief point of interest however in their 
Logic is their theory as to the criterion. They considered 
the soul to resemble a sheet of blank paper* on which 
impressions (<avrao-tai) were made through the senses 8 . 

1 Cf. the line e/ firj ydp ip Xpucrnrjros OVK a.v -r\v oroo. 

* Plut. Plac. Phil. IV. n. 

3 Cleanthes held that each impression was literally a material 
impression on the soul, like that of a signet-ring on wax : Chrysippus 
thought this inconsistent with the infinite variety of impressions 
which we are continually receiving, and preferred to speak of them 
as modifications (irtpoiuxreit) of the soul. See Sext. Math. vil. 



The concept (Iwoia) was produced from the impressions 
by generalization, which might be either spontaneous and 
unconscious, giving rise to common ideas or natural 
anticipations (KOIKU JWotcu, e/x^>vrot TrpoAT^eis), or it might 
be conscious and methodical, giving rise to artificial 
concepts. In entire opposition to Plato they held that 
the individual object alone had real existence; the 
universal, the general term, existed only in the mind as 
subjective thought The truth or falsehood of these 
impressions and conceptions depended on their possession 
of TO KaTaXrjTmKov, the power of carrying conviction. An 
impression which was not merely assented to, but forced 
itself irresistibly on the mind, was a KaTaXrjTrrtKrj favraala 
a perception that has a firm grasp of reality 1 . The same 
irresistible evidence attaches to a TrpdA^is 2 , but artificial 
concepts required to have their truth proved by being 
connected with one or other of these criteria. The ten 
Categories of Aristotle were reduced by the Stoics to 
four, (i) the substratum, TO v-n-oKfifjievov, (2) the essential 
quality, TO TTOIO'V, (3) the condition, TO TTW? ex ov > (4) tne 
relation, TO Trpos TI irw? x ov ' 

The physical theory of the Stoics is a pantheistic 
materialism. The only real existences are such as can 
act and be acted upon, and these are bodies, for like can 

1 Zeno compared the simple impression or sensation ((ftavraffla) 
to the touching of an object with the outstretched fingers; the 
mental assent which follows (avytca.TaJBeffis} to a half closure of the 
hand upon the object ; the distinct apprehension (jraTtxXi^is) to a 
tight grasp ; knowledge itself to the grasping of the fist by the other 
hand, so as to keep it more firmly closed. 

2 Cicero's renderings of the above technical terms are as follows : 
(ftavTaaia visurn, Koivai Evvotai communes notiones, ffupvroi. vpo\-ip}/eii 
insitae anticipation**, Ka.Ta.\rjif/is comprehensio, ffvyKaraffeffis assensio. 



only act on like 1 . But these bodies are not moved simply 
by mechanical laws, as Democritus supposed. The whole 
universe is an embodied spiritual force, of which we may 
call one part passive, one part active, but all is alike 
material. The active portion is soul, a fiery ether 
pervading the whole, but having its principal seat in the 
heaven which encompasses it on every side; the passive 
portion consists mainly of the inferior elements, water and 
earth. These latter proceed from the former and are 
periodically reabsorbed into it in the world-conflagration. 
The universe itself, as a perfect living creature, is rightly 
called God, but the name is more particularly given to the 
soul of the universe, who is also known by many descrip- 
tive appellations, Rational or Artistic Fire (irvp vocpov, 
irvp rexyiKov), All-penetrating Air, Spirit, Reason, Nature, 
Providence, Destiny, Law, Necessity, the Ruling Principle 
(TO TTye/ioviKo'v), and, with reference to his creative and 
'informing' power, the Generative Reason (Aoyos cnrepfj.a- 
TIKOS). The gods of the popular religion represented 
different activities of the one true Deity. Thus Zeus, 
one God under many names as Cleanthes calls him, is 
denominated Hera, when we think of him as pervading 
the air, Poseidon as pervading water, Demeter as per- 
vading earth : again Demeter is the name we give to 
Zeus when we think of him as the giver of corn, 
Dionysus, when we think of him as the giver of wine. 

1 Not only substances, but feelings and attributes were regarded 
as corporeal. Thus the virtues, and even the seasons of the year, 
were called animals or bodies. These paradoxical modes of speech 
were explained by saying, that virtue denoted a certain tension or 
elasticity (TOVOJ) of the psychical element, ether ; that when we speak 
of summer, we mean air of a certain temperature, &c. 



The foolish or immoral stories told by the poets were 
explained as allegories intended to convey some moral 
or physical truth. For instance, when Hera is repre- 
sented as suspended by a gold chain from heaven with 
weights round her feet lv aidept KCU vt^iXrjviv, this is 
interpreted to mean the order of nature binding the four 
elements together 1 . The human soul is an emanation 
from Deity, and is often spoken of as the God within 
us*. Although it outlives the body, it will only retain 
its individual existence till the next conflagration, and 
that only in the case of the wise. The stars being made 
of pure fire are divine. 

In all this we see the influence of Heraclitus, who 
was much quoted by the Stoics; but in their distinction 
between the active and passive elements of the universe 
they probably had in mind the Aristotelian distinction 
between Form and Matter, only substituting for the 
mysterious attraction exercised on Matter by the tran- 
scendent First Form of Aristotle, the quickening influence 
of an ever-active all-pervading Spirit They agreed with 
Aristotle also in holding the unity, finiteness and sphe- 
ricity of the world, but, unlike him, considered that 
there was an unlimited void beyond it. That which was 
peculiarly Stoical was the strong moral colouring which 
they gave to their materialistic system. The all-pervading 
fire was at the same time the all-seeing Providence, who 
creates and governs all things for the best ends, and 
makes each several existence, each several fact, conspire 
together for the good of the whole. It is the privilege of 

1 Heracl. Alleg. Horn. p. 463 Gale. 

2 See Seneca Epp. 31 and 41, and other passages quoted in 
Zeller in. i. p. 319* . 



man to be able knowingly and willingly to act as a 
rational part of the rational whole, instead of yielding 
himself up to irrational and selfish impulse: but however 
he acts, he must perforce carry out the divine purpose, as 
Cleanthes says in the noble lines : 

Syov d fi <3 Zev, Kol <rv y 77 TTcxpw/u^j'Tj, 
ojrot iro0* vfuv fifd Sia.rera.yiJ.4vor 
us \f>o/jMi y O.OKVOS' TIV 5 /J.TJ 0Aw, 
KO.KOS ytvouevc', ovStv rjrrov I^Ojiwu. 

From this it follows that the summum bonum is to live 
according to nature, both universal nature, i.e. the reason 
embodied in the universe, and the particular nature 1 , not 
only of man in general, but of the individual concerned ; 
or, to express the same principle in other words, each 
man is to act in accordance with his own particular 
nature in so far as that is in harmony with universal 
nature : and it is through virtue or wisdom that we are 
enabled to do this; wisdom being not only speculative, 
judging what is in accordance with nature or the divine 
law, but practical, strongly willing what is thus determined 
to be right. 

The stages of rational development in the individual 
were thus described. The first impulse in every animal 
is to its own self-preservation*. This appetite mani- 
fests itself in little children before any pleasure or 
pain is felt. We begin by loving our own vitality; 
and we come, by association, to love what promotes 
our vitality; we hate destruction or disablement, 

1 Cf. Diog. L. VII. 88 rAoj yiyvtrai TO anoKovOws rfj <f>vcrei fir, 
Strtp tcrrl Kara, re rrfv avrov KO!, ryu ruv SXuv, and Cic. De Off. 
I. 107. 

* This was called the prima conciliutio naturae, 7} 
see Cic. Fin. in 16 with Madvig's note. 



and we come to hate whatever produces that effect. 
But these prima naturae^ are not good in themselves, 
and there is nothing virtuous in the effort to attain them. 
It is only as the dawning reason of the youth becomes 
conscious of a wider nature of which his own nature is a 
part, and of a higher Reason revealing itself in the order 
and harmony of nature and of human society, that the 
true Good becomes possible for him, not in the attainment 
of those primary ends, but in the right choice of the 
means by which to attain them. And the right choice is 
one which is always in accordance with reason and with 
nature. If he takes the right course, whether he attains 
those lower ends or not, he has attained the highest end 
of man, the true Bonum or Honestum. Just as the 
archer's excellence is shown in aiming rightly, and there 
is no independent value in the mere act of hitting the 
target ; so there is no independent value in those prima 
naturae ; the acting in accordance with nature is all 
in all*. One who has thus learnt to live in accordance 
with nature is aurapio;?, in need of nothing. He alone 
is free, for he has all he wishes : his will is one with the 
universal Will. External good, external evil are matters 
of indifference (aSid^opa): intrinsically and in themselves 
they are neither bad nor good, though they may become 
such according to the manner in which they are used. 
Nothing can -be called really good which is not always 
and under all circumstances good. What are commonly 
regarded as goods, such as wealth, station, &c, only 
provide the field in which virtue is to exercise itself; 

1 See on the prima naturae, vpCira. Kara Qfoiv, Madvig's De 
Finibus, Exc. 4. 

a Grate's Aristotle II. p. 444, R. and P. 420. 

t 5 8 STOICISM. 

they are not essential to its exercise, as the Peripatetics 
thought. If ivory and gold are wanting, the art of 
Phidias will show itself in baser materials : so the wise 
man will show his mastery in the art of life, alike in 
poverty as in wealth, in adversity as in prosperity. Nay, 
the less favourable his circumstances are, the greater is 
the call on the resources of his art, and the more glorious 
his success if he succeeds in acting the virtuous part. 
A good man struggling with adversity is a spectacle 
worthy of God '. Until we have learnt the lesson that 
our happiness can neither be increased nor diminished by 
the presence or absence of anything outside of ourselves, 
anything which is not in our own power, we can never 
attain to that inner calm, which is the essence of true 

This distinction between things in our power*, and 
things not in our power, is one on which the Stoics 
laid great stress. By the former they meant things which 
we could do or acquire if we willed, such as our opinions, 
our affections, desires and aversions ; by the latter they 
meant things which we could not do or acquire if we 
willed, such as natural constitution of body, wealth, 
honour, rank, &c., but in regard to these last our judg- 
ment of them is in our own power, we can train ourselves 
to think of them as unimportant. Thus it is in our power 
to discipline the mind in the way of controlling or 
suppressing some emotions, generating and encouraging 
others. The grand aim of the Stoical system was to 
strengthen the governing reason and to enthrone it as a 

1 Seneca Efisl. LXXXV, De providentia, c. i. 
9 TO. i<f> rifuv, the sphere of ir/joo/peo-is according to Aristotle Elk. 
Ill 4 . 


fixed habit and character, which would control by 
counter-suggestions the impulse arising at each special 
moment, particularly all disturbing terrors or allurements, 
by the reflection that the objects which appear to be 
desirable, or the contrary, are not really such, but are 
only made to appear so by false and curable associations. 
Nothing can really harm us unless we choose to make it 
do so by allowing it to conquer our reason and will 1 . 
Pleasure is a natural concomitant (eViyeWr/jLia) of 
activity, but is not a natural end : not even if we count as 
pleasure that high delight (xapa as opposed to ijSov?;), 
which belongs to virtuous activity, for pleasure regarded 
in itself has a tendency to lead man away from the true 
end, viz. acting not for self, but for the whole. On this 
ground Chrysippus condemned Plato and Aristotle for 
preferring the contemplative to the practical life, alleging 
that the former was merely a higher kind of self-indulgence. 
Man is born for society, he is a member of the great 
body* which includes all rational creatures within it : if he 
forgets his relation to other men, and only cares to 
gratify his intellectual tastes, he abnegates his proper 
place in the world. The feeling of common membership 
in one body binds each not to justice only but to bene- 
ficence and to mutual help 3 : above all it constitutes the 
firmest bond of friendship between those who act up to 
that membership, so that every wise man is dear to ail 
who are wise, even though he may be personally unknown 
to them \ 

1 See Grote's Aristotle, II. p. 446. 

8 Seneca Ep. xcv. 52 membra sumus corporis ntagni. Nalura 
nos cognatos edidit; Cic. Off. III. 32. 

3 Cic. Off. i. 20. Cic. N. D. \. 121. 


But while on the one hand the consciousness 
of our being thus bound up with others, as parts of a 
common whole, supplies a motive for action and forbids 
all exclusive self-regard, as far as feeling is concerned ; 
on the other hand the consciousness that the indi- 
vidual reason (TO AoyurriKoV, TO r/ye/ioviKoY) in each man 
is a portion of the Universal Reason, a revelation to him 
personally of the Divine Will 1 , this preserves intact 
the individuality of each, and enables and requires him to 
act and think for himself, and to stand alone, regardless of 
the opinions and wishes of the world outside. It is this 
sense of independence towards man and of responsibility 
towards God which especially distinguishes the Stoic 
morality from that which preceded it. The Stoics may be 
said to have introduced into philosophical ethics the con- 
ception of Duty, involving obligation*, as distinguished 
from that of Good, regarded as the desirable or the useful 
or the beautiful, and of Virtue as the way to this. Not that 
Duty is with them mere obedience to an external law ; 

1 See Chrysippus in Diogenes vn. 88, ' We call by the name of 
Zeus the Right Reason which pervades the universe ; ' Zeno in Cic. 
ff. D. I. 36 ' God is the divine law of nature, commanding what 
is right, forbidding what is wrong,' Cic. Leg. n. 10, and i. 18, 
'Law is first the mind and reason of Jupiter, and then reason 
in the mind of man ; ' Leg. I. 33, ' To whom nature has given 
reason, to them she has given law;' Chrysippus in Plut. Comtn. 
Not. p. 1076 'not even the smallest particle can exist otherwise than 
as God wills' (dXXwj ?x fl " && i) Kara, r-qv TOV Atoj fiotiXijffiv) ; also 
passages from Seneca referred to in a previous note. 

8 Compare the Stoic definition of right and wrong as that which 
is commanded or forbidden by law, TO Kar6p6ufj.a VO/J.QV Trpwrrayfia 
flvaa., TO 8' afMpnjfia vofiov airayopevfjia Plut. Sto. Rep. II. i, and other 
passages quoted by Zeller p. 245. 


it is also the following of the highest natural impulse 
(opfiif) 1 . But impulse by itself is no trustworthy guide. 
On the contrary it is one chief work of reason in man to 
subdue and eradicate his irrational impulses. These 
passions (iraQ-rj), as they are called, originate in a perver- 
sion of the reason itself. The four principal are pleasure 
and pain, which may be denned as false beliefs of present 
good or evil ; hope and fear, which are similar beliefs in 
reference to the future. No man can be called virtuous 
who has not got rid of all such beliefs and arrived at the 
state of pure a7ra0eia. We may distinguish different 
virtues in thought, as the Stoics themselves summed up 
their teaching on this subject under the four Cardinal 
Virtues, which represent four principal aspects of the one 
Honestum or Decorum; but in fact no virtue can exist apart 
from the rest 2 . He who has a right judgment and right 
intention is perfectly virtuous, he who is without right 
judgment and intention is perfectly vicious. There is no 
mean. The wise man is perfectly happy, the fool perfectly 
miserable : all the actions of the former are wise and good ; 
all the actions of the latter foolish and bad. There may 
be a progress towards wisdom, but, until the actual mo- 
ment of conversion, even those who are advancing (ol 
irpoKOTTTovres) must still be classed among the fools 8 . 
Thus in the original Stoicism we have the strange 

1 See Zeller in. i, p. 2?3 3 . 

2 So Aristotle had said that all other virtue is involved in <f>p6i>ij<Tit. 
Eth. VI. 13, vil. i. 

8 See Plut. ATor. p. 1058. ' Among the Stoics you go to bed 
stupid and ignorant and unjust and intemperate, a pauper and a 
slave ; you wake up in a few hours a king, or rather a God, rich and 
wise and temperate and just.' 

M. P. II 

r 6 2 STOICISM. 

union of a highly ideal ethics with a materialistic philo- 
sophy. But it was impossible to maintain this un- 
compromising idealism in practice. The later Stoics 
found themselves compelled to admit that, apart from 
virtue and vice, the absolute Good and Evil, there were 
preferences to be made among things indifferent. Some 
of these, such as bodily health, mental endowments, even 
wealth and position, were allowed to have comparative 
value, and, as such, were called Trpoi/y/Aei a, producta 
or praeposita, 'preferable,' while their opposites were 
, rejecta, 'undesirable'; and the name 
was now limited to such things as were entirely 
neutral and could not influence choice. In like manner 
it was allowed that, besides the perfectly virtuous actions 
of the wise man (Kcn-op^co/iara, perfecta qfficia), there was 
a subordinate class of appropriate actions (KaOrJKovra, 
media qfficia) , which might be performed by one who had 
not attained to perfection, or which might have reference 
to some preferable end other than tne absolute good. 
Again, since they were compelled to allow that their 
perfectly wise man, whom they vaunted to be equal to 
Zeus, had never existed, they found it necessary to 
allow a positive value to irpoKOTn?, progress towards 
wisdom, and to self-control as contrasted with absolute 

The Stoics paid great attention to the subject of Natural 
Theology and pleased themselves with discovering evi- 
dence, in the external universe, of a creative intelligence 
and a providential care for man. Cicero gives the 
Stoical argument on this head in the Second Book of his 
Natura Deorum. Holding, as they did, the optimist 
theory of the perfection of the universe, they were bound 


to reconcile this with the apparent existence of moral 
and physical evil. They endeavoured to do so by the 
following reasoning. What we call evil is only imperfec- 
tion ; and in a system compounded of parts, the imper- 
fection of the parts taken separately is essential to the 
perfection of the whole. What we call physical evil is a 
necessary result of natural causes, and is in itself a matter 
of indifference : it only becomes evil to the man who uses 
it wrongly. Many things which are commonly regarded 
as evil are really beneficial ; as an instance, Chrysippus 
cited the prevention of over-population by means of war 1 . 
Moral evil, which arises like disease from human weak- 
ness, is the necessary foil and condition of virtue. How 
could prudence and courage display themselves, if there 
were no choice to be made between good and evil ; if 
there were no injustice and fraud to guard against and 
endure? In the end however all evil will be converted 
into good. If we sometimes see virtue unrewarded, this 
is because the government of the world proceeds by 
general laws, which, though best for the whole, necessarily 
involve the possibility of what seems to be individual 
hardship*. But this is, after all, only appearance, for good 
and evil lie not in feeling, but in action. He who acts 
fittingly is happy, and it is always in our own power to 
act fittingly to the circumstances in which we are placed. 
If in no other way, it is at least in our power to quit a 
world in which we are hindered from action. God has 
placed in our hands, as the last safeguard of our freedom, 

1 Compare Plut. Stoic. Rep. 32, and other passages quoted by 
Zeller in. i. p. i74 3 . 

* The same argument is used by Bp. Butler in the Analogy Pt. I. 
ch. 7. 

II 2 


this highest privilege of self-removal (cuXoyos e 
not to be used at random, but to save another's life, or 
to escape from being forced into anything degrading, or 
at the lowest to cut short unprofitable years. 

One other characteristic doctrine of the Stoics may be 
mentioned here. It will have been noticed that none of 
the above-named representatives of the school were of 
pure Greek birth, and that most were only connected 
with Greece by the Macedonian conquests. It was 
easy to rise from this fact to the higher doctrine 
which flowed naturally from their first principle, the 
doctrine namely that all men were members of one 
State, that the world is the common City of Gods 
and men, that all men are brethren as having the 
same Divine Father. Sir A. Grant has further called 
attention to the fact that Zeno himself and some of his 
most distinguished followers belonged to Semitic towns 
or colonies ; and he suggests that the characteristic 
features of Stoicism, its stern morality, its deep religious 
earnestness, may perhaps be traced to this connexion. 

There is indeed a very striking resemblance, mixed 
with no less striking contrasts, not only between 
particular sayings of individual Stoics, especially Seneca 1 , 
and the language of the New Testament, but between 
Stoicism and Christianity in regard to their general view 
of the facts of the physical and moral universe. The 
Stoic pantheism, i.e. the doctrine of the interpenetration 
and transfusion of all nature by a Divine Spirit, has its 
Christian counterpart in St Paul's words, 'in Him we live 

1 Cf. the appendix on St Paul and Seneca in Bp. Lightfoot's edition 
of the Epistle to the Philippians. 


and move and have our being,' 'of Him, through Him 
and to Him are all things 1 ,' and still more markedly in the 
language of the great Christian poet of this century: 

"And I have felt 

A presence which disturbs me with the joy 
Of elevated thoughts ; a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, 
And the round ocean and the living air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man : 
A motion and a spirit, that impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought, 
And rolls through all things 2 ." 

This indwelling Spirit was known to the Stoics, as to the 
Christians, under the name of the Logos 8 . He fashions 
the universe according to His own will and upholds it 
and governs it by His wisdom ; but His principal seat is 
in the highest heaven and in the heart of man. He is 
the Father of lights and the Father of spirits, the source 
of all spiritual and rational life, an ever-present inward 
witness, monitor, and guide to those who submit them- 
selves to His guidance. He orders all things for our 
good and for the good of all this universe. To follow 
and to imitate Him is the perfection and happiness of 
man. Where, we might ask, is the inconsistency between 
this and Christian theology? Bp. Lightfoot* answers 
the question as follows : 'The basis of Stoic theology is 
gross materialism,... the supreme God of the Stoics had 
no existence distinct from external nature... the different 

1 Acts xvn. 28, Rom. xi. 36. 

2 Wordsworth Tinttrn Abbey. 

8 See Heinze, Die Lehre vom Logos ch. 3. 
4 Philippians p. 294 foil. 


elements of the universe, such as the planetary bodies, 
were inferior Gods, members of the Universal Being.' 
It is however only fair to remember that the views of 
many of the early Christians were far from clear on these 
points, and that individual Stoics differed much in the 
explanations they gave of the formulas of their system. 
Tertullian was as thorough-going a materialist as any Stoic 
or Epicurean 1 ; and Origen thought it necessary to argue 
against those who interpreted the words 'Our God is a 
consuming fire,' 'God is a spirit,' (irvevpa = breath), as 
implying some kind of corporeity*. I confess it seems to 
me that, while metaphysically it is a solecism to talk of 
'thinking matter,' yet practically, if the supposition is 
once admitted that thought itself can be somehow ma- 
terial, it makes little difference whether we conceive the 
one eternal Being, who constitutes the universe by his 
thought, to be absolutely incorporeal and immaterial, or 
to be, as the Stoics held, a pure etherial substance, 
generating all existence out of itself and taking it back 
into itself. Probably the incongruous compound 'thinking 
matter' resolved itself, more or less consciously, into one 
or other element according to the idiosyncrasy of the 
individual philosopher, God being regarded in the one 
case as self-determining Reason residing in its fiery 
vehicle and impelling baser matter through that instrumen- 
tality ; in the other as the material universe developing 
itself according to necessary law. In either case, the 

1 Compare Dt Cam. Christi c. H. Omne quod est, corpus est 
sui generis : nihil est incorporate, nin quod non est (quoted with 
apparent agreement by the Lutheran Bp. Martensen Christian 
Ethics, p. 71 tr.). 

2 De principiis \. I. 


Stoic might say, no less than the Christian, looking 
fonvard to the cyclical conflagration, and contrasting 
nature with the God of nature, the mundus with the 
anima mundi, the passive with the active elements of the 
universe, 'they (i.e. all that we see in the world around) 
shall perish, but thou remainest ; yea, all of them shall 
wax old as doth a garment ; as a vesture shalt thou 
change them and they shall be changed ; but thou art the 
same and thy years shall have no end 1 .' 

The contrast between the second view mentioned 
above, which gives the name of God to the material 
universe developing itself according to necessary law, and 
the Christian view, has been well expressed by St Augus- 
tine in a splendid passage of his Confessions. 'Seeking 
to find an answer to the question "What is God," I 
asked', he says, 'the earth, the sea, the air, the heaven, 
the sun, the moon and the stars : all gave the same answer 
"we are not God, but we are made by Him." Interrogavi 
mundi nwlem de Deo meo, et respondit mihi: non ego sum, 
sed ipse me fecit*' I doubt however whether such a frank 
identification of the Deity with external nature as that sup- 
posed, is to be found in any genuine Stoic writer, and 
whether it is not in fact rather the limit (to speak mathe- 
matically) of Stoic materialism, than a positive doctrine 
taught in their schools. The world, like every other system, 
must have its Tj'ye/xovucov, its guiding principle ; and, as the 
soul which guides and governs the body, though material, 
is still distinct from the body ; so God, the guide and ruler 
of the world, is distinct from the world, though that too 
may be called divine or even God, in virtue of the 
divine principle pervading it When we are told that 
1 Psalm 1 02. 26. a ic. 7. 


Necessity is one of the Stoic names for God, this does 
not mean that God is Himself subject to a Necessity sup- 
posed higher than Himself, but that His own Reason 
constitutes the universal law which He Himself and all 
things obey 1 . Some Stoics, such as Boethus, even denied 
the animality of the universe, and said that it was guided 
by the Deity, as the car by the charioteer or the ship by 
the pilot ; and it would be hard to say that the hymn of 
Cleanthes is addressed to an impersonal God. On the 
other hand, it must be granted that, though we never find 
a Stoic going so far as to say, with Strauss, that the 
universal Reason only becomes self-conscious in man, we 
do find Chrysippus asserting the equality of reason in 
man and reason in God, and speaking of the wise man 
as the equal of Zeus, no less useful to Zeus than Zeus to 
him, both being alike divine*. 

Still more marked is the opposition between the Chris- 
tian and the Stoic idea of the character of God. To the 
Stoic He is perfect reason and justice, to the Christian 
He is preeminently the God of love. So, while the 
Logos represents both to Stoic and to Christian the 
rational element in the universe, the light that lighteth 
every man, the latter regards Him, first, as existing with 
the Father before all worlds, and secondly, as made 

1 The Stoics were the first to discuss with any fulness the difficul- 
ties connected with the doctrine of Necessity, see Heinze /. c. 

PP- '53 1 7- 

2 Compare Cic. N. D. n. 154, 'The life of the wise man is in no 
respect inferior to that of the Gods except in duration,' and other 
passages cited by Zeller, p. 151?. Yet, objectionable as is the tone 
of these passages, they need not be regarded as asserting more than 
the doctrine of a Divine presence in the heart of man, and of the 
sameness of the Divine nature under all circumstances. 


man in the person of Jesus Christ, and so revealing the 
truly Divine under the perfectly human. 

If we turn now to man and compare the teaching of the 
two systems in reference to the ideal of man, his duty and 
his happiness, we find again great apparent agreement. 
There is the same uncompromising tone in both ; the one 
thing needful is a righteous will; Stoicism is no less em- 
phatic than Christianity in asserting that the gain of the 
whole world can never counterbalance the loss of the soul. 
Both demand from their followers the practice of stern 
self-denial, they call upon them to make the will of God 
their rule of life 1 , and to shine as lights in the midst of 
prevailing darkness. Both use the same language in 
reference to the corruption of the unregenerate man. If 
we read in the Bible ' the whole world lieth in wicked- 
ness,' 'there is none that doeth good, no, not one;' we 
find Cleanthes in like manner saying that, though man is 
the highest being on earth, it is plain there must be 
somewhere a higher and more perfect being, for ' man 
walks in wickedness all his life through, or at least for 
the greater part of it, only attaining to virtue in late old- 
age 2 / and Seneca still more strongly 'we are all thought- 
less and foolish, all ambitious and complaining, in a 
word, we are all wicked;' 'we have all sinned, some 
more, some less grievously, some in malice, some in 
haste, some led away by others. Even if there be one 
who has so cleansed his heart that nothing can hence- 
forth agitate or deceive it, still it was through sin that he 
finally arrived at innocence;' also Cicero, ' Even an 

1 Hence the Stoics held that every wrong action was an act of 
impiety, TO* d/iaprrj/ta dff^rjfjia, Stob. Eel. II. p. 116. 
s Sext. Math. ix. 90. 


Aristides was not perfect in justice, nor a Scipio in 
courage, nor a Laelius in wisdom ; all have fallen short 
of the standard of the sage 1 .' On the other hand 
the excellency of the ideal life is described by both 
in equally glowing terms. The Wise Man of the 
Stoics is the only freeman, he alone is self-sufficient, 
he possesses all things, he is the true king and the true 
priest : whatever he does, though it be no more than the 
putting forth of a finger, is done in accordance with per- 
fect virtue and the highest reason: there is no mean 
between virtue and vice; he who is guilty of one vice is 
guilty of all, and he who can act rightly in one point must 
act rightly in all ; it is impossible for him to sin, as it is 
impossible for him to lose his firm conviction that the 
only evil is vice, the only good virtue*; virtue is the ground 
of all his preferences ; what is virtuous he loves however 
far removed from him, what is vicious he hates however 
closely connected 3 : he knows no ties but those of virtue. 
In like manner the Christian holds that he whom the truth 
has made free is the only freeman, that we are made 
kings and priests unto God, that all things are ours ; and 
St Paul speaks of himself and the other Apostles 'as 
sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as beggars, yet making 
many rich ; as having nothing, but yet possessing all 

1 Seneca De fra, III. 26, De Clemtntia, I. 6, Benef. IV. 27, Cic. 
Off, in. 16, cited among other passages by Zeller, p. 253, foil. 

' The question of Final Perseverance, so much debated among 
Christians afterwards, was not unknown to the Stoics ; Cleanthes 
with the Cynics maintaining it, Chrysippus on the other hand argu- 
ing that it was possible for the Wise Man to fall away and become a 
reprobate ; see Zeller, p. 271. 

* Diog. L. vn. 33. 



things 1 . He tells his converts that, whether they eat or 
drink or whatever they do, they may do all to the glory 
of God; and St John asserts boldly that 'whatsoever is 
born of God cannot commit sin,' of which we have the 
converse again in St Paul's 'whatever is not of faith is 
sin,' and in St James's 'whosoever shall keep the whole 
law and yet offend in one point is guilty of all.' Again the 
weakness of earthly ties, as contrasted with that which 
unites men to Christ and to each other, as members of 
Christ's body, appears in the constant allusion to brotherly 
love in the Epistles, as well as in the words of Christ 
himself 'Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is 
my brother and my sister and mother,' and still more 
strongly in the warning 'if any man come to me and hate 
not father and mother... yea, and his own life also, he 
cannot be my disciple.' 

Yet on closer examination we find a great gulf 
concealed under this apparent agreement. The Chris- 
tian, while he claims all these high prerogatives, 
owns that none of them are his by his own right; in 
himself he is poor and blind and naked ; all the good 
that is in him flows to him from Christ, through whom 
he is made a partaker in the divine nature, and with whom 
he is connected as the branch with the vine, as the hand 

1 Compare Plutarch's paradoxical account of the Stoic Wise Man 
(Mor. p. 1057) with St Paul's description of himself in i Cor. vi 
4 10. 6 STWIKOW <ro06s tyicXfio/jifvos ov KwXverat, Kal KaraKprifU'i- 
ftfi.fvos OVK avayKafcrai, Kal ffTpefiXovfJ.ei'os oil ftatravi^fTai, teal injpov- 
Htvos oil pXaTTTfTai, Kal iriirruv tv r<f ira\alfu> CMJTTIJT-OS t<rriv, Kal 
ievoj caroXiOpKriros, xal iruXov/j.ei'os vro r(av roXefjduv 
s, and just above, <0oj3os Si fdvft Kal oAviroj Kal arfmrros Kal 
s, TiTpuffKOfj.fvos, aXywv, ffTpe^XovfJLefot, br Karaana<f>ais rarpl- 
5oj, iv iradfffi rotourotj. 



with the body. Once alone has the ideal life been fully 
revealed on earth, in the man Christ Jesus; but each 
Christian is encouraged to strive after it as that to which 
he is called, and to which he may continually approximate 
in proportion as he yields himself to the sanctifying 
influence of Christ's Spirit within him. 

On the other hand, while some of the Stoics, as 
we have seen, claimed for their wise man a moral 
equality with God; most of them confessed that they 
were unable to point to any actual example of the 
ideal life ; or, if some thought that they saw it exemplified 
in a Hercules, a Socrates or a Diogenes, they never 
imagined that virtue was attainable for themselves only 
through the virtue of one of these. The victory of 
Socrates might be an encouragement to another to 
struggle against weakness after his example, but it con- 
tained no ground or assurance of victory, as that of 
Christ does to the Christian. There is no personal feeling 
of loyalty or devotion to Socrates as to an ever-present, 
all-powerful Saviour and friend. Again, while Christian 
and Stoic both agree in regarding pleasure in itself as 
utterly worthless in comparison with virtue and the calm 
of mind which accompanies self-mastery ; Stoic apathy is, 
in the first place, a very poor and colourless substitute for 
the Christian 'peace that passeth all understanding,' 'the 
joy unspeakable and full of glory;' in the next place, it is 
itself un-Christian, since the Gospel stimulates to the 
utmost the unselfish affections which Stoicism represses, 
and makes virtue consist at least as much in warmth and 
energy of feeling as in rational self-control; thirdly, 
though the mere life of pleasure, the living for pleasure, 
is everywhere condemned in the New Testament, yet 



asceticism, as such, is reprobated in the Epistle to 
Timothy, as a doctrine of devils, and pleasure is recog- 
nized as a good gift of God in the words 'every creature 
of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it be received 
with thanksgiving.' So too with regard to its opposite, 
though there may be occasions on which the Christian 
will rejoice in tribulation, yet he is not bound to pretend, 
like the Stoic, that pain is not in itself an evil : on the 
contrary, the great Pattern of Christians, as He had always 
the tenderest sympathy for the sorrow of others, so in his 
own case He combined the utmost sensitiveness to pain 
with the unshaken resolution to do and to bear His 
Father's will. Lastly, the Christian belief in the immor- 
tality of each individual man, the belief that virtue, 
inchoate here, will be finally perfected hereafter, and 
have full scope for its exercise, that the ideals which 
nature even now suggests will there be more than 
realized, this sheds over life a warm and genial ray, in 
contrast to the grim austerity of the Porch, and supplies 
a solid basis for that which with them was scarcely more 
than a romantic and irrational optimism 1 . Christianity 

1 The contrast between the Christian conception of an uninter- 
rupted progress continued throughout eternity, and the Cyclical 
Regeneration by which the Stoics imagined that, after the general 
conflagration, all things would be reproduced in the same order, so 
that each Great Year should be an exact copy of its predecessors, is 
well pointed out in Dean Mansel's posthumous lectures on Gnosticism, 
p. 4, and illustrated by the beautiful chorus from Shelley's Hellas : 
The world's great age begins anew, 

The golden years return ; 
The eanh doth like a snake renew 

Her winter weeds outworn ; 
Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam 
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream. 


may in fact be regarded as the fulfilment of the dreams 
of Stoicism, as St Paul seems to suggest when he took a 
line of Cleanthes for his text in preaching at the Areo- 
pagus. The noblest things in Stoicism are the analogues 
to the three Christian Graces, the faith which led 
them to believe that all things were ordered by a good 
and wise Governor, the hope that made them look 
forward to the more perfect revelation of the City of God 
after death, the love which taught them that they were 
made for the world and not for themselves, that all 
mankind were one body. 'The poet sings of beloved 
Athens, and shall not we sing of thee, O beloved City 
of Zeus 1 ,' do we not seem to hear in these words 
of Marcus Aurelius the tuning of the harp of Zion by the 
waters of Babylon ? 

A brighter Hellas rears its mountains 

From waves serener far; 
A new Peneus rolls its fountains 

Against the morning star. 

Where (Here?) fairer Tempes bloom, there sleep 
Young Cyclads on a sunnier deep. 
A loftier Argo cleaves the main, 

Fraught with a later prize; 
Another Orpheus sings again, 

And loves, and weeps, and dies. 
A new Ulysses leaves once more 
Calypso for his native shore. 
O cease ! must hate and death return ? 

Cease ! must men kill and die ? 
Cease I drain not to its dregs the urn 

Of bitter prophecy. 
The world is weary of the past, 
O might it die, or rest at last ! 
See further Zeller, p. 154, folL 

1 Anton. iv. 73. 


But if Stoicism is admirable, as promise of better 
things to come, what are we to say of it when it shows 
itself as the residuum of a dying faith ? We may at least 
find it easier to understand the attraction which it had for 
the Thraseas and Arrias of the Empire, when we find 
pure Stoicism preached as the Gospel for our own day in 
such words as those of Carlyle. 'This fair universe, were 
it in the meanest province thereof, is in very deed the 
star-domed City of God : through every star, through 
every grass-blade, and most through every Living Soul 
the glory of a present God still beams 1 .' 'The situation 
which has not its Duty, its Ideal, was never yet occupied 
by man. Yes, here, in this poor, miserable, hampered, 
despicable Actual, wherein thou even now standest, here 
or nowhere is thy Ideal : work it out therefrom, and 
working, believe, live, be free. Fool! the Ideal is in 
thyself, the impediment too is in thyself : thy condition 
is but the stuff thou art to shape that same Ideal out of: 
what matters whether such stuff is of this sort or that, so 
the Form thou give it be heroic, be poetic *?' 'Does not 
the whole wretchedness of man's ways in these genera- 
tions shadow itself for us in that unspeakable Life- 
philosophy of his : the pretension to be what he calls 
happy?.. .\Ve construct our theory of Human Duties not 
on any Greatest-Nobleness Principle, but on a Greatest- 
Happiness Principle. . .But a life of ease is not for any man 
nor for any god 8 .' Again, what else is the 'New Faith' 

' Sartor Resartus, Bk. III. ch. S. 

8 Sartor Resartus, Bk. II. ch. 9. 

3 Past and Present, Bk. in. ch. 4. Compare with the last clause 
the continual reference in Epictetus to the Labours of Hercules, as 
giving a pattern of the life which all men should lead ; e.g. Dits. ill. 


put forward by Strauss than a revival of the least 
Christian side of Stoicism together with even an ex- 
aggeration of its old unrealities? The nature of this 
Neo-Stoicism 1 will be sufficiently apparent from the 
following passage. 'In regard to the Cosmos we 
know ourselves as part of a part ; our might as naught 
in comparison to the almightiness of Nature ; our 
thought only capable of slowly and laboriously com- 
prehending the least part of that which the universe 
offers to our contemplation as the object of knowledge... 
As we feel ourselves absolutely dependent on this world, 
as we can only deduce our existence and the adjustment 
of our nature from it, we are compelled to conceive of it 
as the primary source of all that is reasonable and good 
in ourselves as well as in it... That on which we feel 
ourselves thus dependent is no mere rude power to which 
we bow in mute resignation, but is at the same time both 
order and law, reason and goodness, to which we sur- 
render ourselves in loving trust. More than this : as we 
perceive in ourselves the same disposition to the reason- 
able and the good, which we seem to recognize in 
the Cosmos, and find ourselves to be the beings by 
whom it is felt and recognized, in whom it is to 
become personified, we also feel ourselves related in our 
inmost nature to that on which we are dependent, 
we discover ourselves at the same time to be free in this 
dependence: and pride and humility, joy and submission, 
intermingle in our feeling for the Cosmos... We consider 
it arrogant and profane on the part of a single individual 

'6, 31 rpv<f>a fix oiJ 0{\ei 6 0e6$, ovSt yap r$ 'HpcucXei irapaxf r<f vl<j> 
rip favrov. 

1 The Old Faith and the New, Eng. tr. p. 161. 


to oppose himself with such audacious levity [as the 
Pessimists do] to the Cosmos, whence he springs, from 
which also he derives that spark of reason [compare the 
aTroppoia and aTroo-Traor/ia of the Stoics] which he misuses. 
...We demand the same piety for our Cosmos that the 
devout of old demanded for his God 1 .' 

The hymn of Cleanthes may fitly conclude our account 
of the Stoics. 'O Thou of many names, most glorious of 
immortals, Almighty Zeus, sovereign ruler of Nature, 
directing all things in accordance with law; Thee it is right 
that all mortals should address, for Thine offspring we are, 
and, alone of all creatures that live and move on earth, have 
received from Thee the gift of imitative sound*. Where- 
fore I will hymn thy praise and sing thy might for ever. 
The universe, as it rolls around this earth, obeys Thy 
guidance and willingly submits to Thy control. Such a 
minister Thou holdest in thine invincible hands, the clo- 
ven thunderbolt of ever-living fire, at whose strokes all 
nature trembles... No work is done without Thee, O Lord, 
neither on earth, nor in the heaven, nor in the sea, 
except what the wicked do in their foolishness. Thou 
knowest how to make the rough smooth 3 , and bringest 
order out of disorder, and things not friendly are friendly 
in Thy sight : for so hast Thou fitted all things together, 
good and evil alike, that there might be one eternal law 
and reason for all things. The wicked heed it not, 

1 It is worthy of note that Strauss also accepts the Stoic confla- 
gration, see p. 1 80. 

8 The Stoics thought that names were given tfrvati ov po/ty, and 
that in some way they represented the real nature of the thing, 
<f)wvu>v TO. TTpccy/jLaTa, see Orig. c. Cels. I. 24. 

* Literally ' to make what is odd c\x.i.' 

M. P. 12 


unhappy ones, who, though ever craving for good, have 
neither eyes nor ears for the universal law of God, by 
wise obedience to which they might attain a noble life. 
But now they think not of right ; but hasten each after 
their own way, some painfully striving for honour, others 
bent on shameful gains, others on luxury and the plea- 
sures of the body. But do Thou, all-bounteous Zeus, who 
sittest in the clouds and rulest the thunder, save men, 
from their grievous ignorance : scatter it from their souls, 
and grant them to obtain wisdom, whereon relying Thou 
dost govern all things in righteousness; that so, being 
honoured, we may requite Thee with honour, as it is 
fitting for man to do, since there is no nobler office for 
mortals or for gods, than duly to praise for evermore the 
universal law.' 

The broad distinction which we noticed at the be- 
ginning of our history between the Italic or Doric and 
the Ionic Schools, reappears in the marked contrast 
between the two materialistic schools of later times. As 
the Stoics are preeminently Doric and Roman in charac- 
ter, so the Epicureans are Ionic and Greek. The one 
might be said to represent the Law, the other the Gospel 
of Paganism. The former not unfrequently made them- 
selves odious and ridiculous among the more educated 
class by their obstinacy, pride and intolerance, their 
exaggeration, pedantry and narrow-mindedness ; while the 
latter won general favour in society by their freedom from 
prejudice, their good sense and amiability. But, in spite 
of this, it was the Porch which was the nurse and school 
of all that was noblest in the Graeco-Roman world; from 
it came the patriot, the martyr, the missionary, the hero : 



it set the example of that renunciation which was followed 
by the ascetic orders of Christendom ; it supplied to the 
technicalities of Roman law that ideal element which 
fitted it to become so important a factor in our modern 
civilization. On the other hand, if we ask what results 
proceeded from the Garden of Epicurus, we may point to 
such a life as that of Atticus, who passed unscathed 
through the Civil Wars of Rome, retaining the esteem of 
all parties, and using his influence to alleviate the 
sufferings of all ; we may see in Epicureanism a needful 
protest in behalf of the rights of human nature and the 
freedom of individual thought and feeling, against the 
oppression of a superstitious religion and an over-strained 
morality. But it is only as protest and correction that it 
is of value; its own view of human nature is poorer and 
narrower than that put forward by any of the systems 
which it sought to supersede ; it cares not for science in 
itself, it has no serious regard for truth as such, it offers 
no spirit-stirring ideal for action ; there is nothing great, 
generous or self-sacrificing in the temper of mind which 
it tends to foster and encourage. And popular opinion, 
which only recognizes broad contrasts, fastened upon the 
essential differences in the two schools ; it regarded with 
admiration the lofty character of a Zeno or a Cato, and 
looked with suspicion upon their Epicurean rivals, as 
undermining the foundations of religion and morality, 
and advocating a life of selfish enjoyment. 

We have comparatively few remains of Epicurean 
writers, none in fact but the poem of Lucretius, together 
with some letters of Epicurus and the scarcely legible 
fragments of Philodemus and others discovered at Her- 
culaneum; while we have several complete treatises on 

12 2 


the other side, such as those of Seneca, Epictetus, M. 
Aurelius, and Cicero's philosophical dialogues. The 
Christian Fathers also sided strongly with the Stoics 
against the Epicureans, even going so far as to count 
Seneca one of themselves, so that the traditional literary 
view had till lately followed the old popular view. But 
of late years the pendulum has swung in the other 
direction, partly owing to more accurate research, which 
has brought to light the exaggerations of the old view, 
partly to the present rage for rehabilitating whatever has 
been condemned by former ages, but more particularly 
because Epicureanism was identified with the cause of 
freedom, intellectual, social, moral and religious ; because 
it was regarded as the forerunner of positive science and 
of utilitarian morality; and in a lesser degree because, 
the great poem of Lucretius having been better edited 
and more widely studied, admiration for the poet has led 
to an increased sympathy with the philosophy which he 
advocates 1 . To what extent these advantages may fairly 
be claimed on behalf of Epicureanism will perhaps be 
made clear as we proceed. For my own part I am in- 
clined to think Cicero was not very wide of the mark when 
he spoke of it as a 'bourgeois philosophy*.' Whether we 
have regard to his expressed opinions on science and 
literature and ethics ; or to the naivete of his assumptions, 
the narrow scope of his imagination, the arbitrariness and 
one-sidedness shown in his appeals to experience, and 
the want of subtlety and thoroughness in his reasonings, 

1 An example of this change of view, in quarters where it would 
hardly have been expected, is to be found in Dean Alford's Note on 
Acts xvn. 18. 

PUbeii philosophi, Tusc. I. 55. 


Epicurus seems to me to stand out among philosophers 
as the representative of good-natured, self-satisfied, un- 
impassioned, strong-willed and clear-headed Philistinism. 
No doubt it was doing a service to mankind to give any- 
thing like philosophical expression to such a very im- 
portant body of sentiment as that with which we are 
familiar under this name ; but I think Epicurus himself 
would be not a little surprised, if he could return to life 
and see the kind of supporters, aesthetic and other, who 
have lately flocked to his standard. 

Historically speaking, Epicureanism may be roughly 
described as a combination of the physics of Democritus 
with the ethics of Aristippus 1 . Epicurus (341 270 B.C.) 
was an Athenian, born in Samos, where he is said to have 
received instruction in the doctrines of Plato and Demo- 
critus, though, like Hobbes and Bentham and Comte in 
later times, he himself always denied his indebtedness 
to previous thinkers, and stoutly maintained his entire 
independence and originality of thought. He founded 
his school at Athens about 306 B.C., teaching in his own 
'Garden,' which became not less famous than the Stoic 
'Porch.' Here he gathered around him a sort of Pytha- 
gorean brotherhood, consisting both of men and women, 
united in a common veneration for their master*, and in 
a mutual friendship which became proverbial in after 

1 See the excellent, though somewhat apologetic, account of 
Epicureanism by W. Wallace, in the S. P. C. K. series. 

3 For the extravagant terms in which the Epicureans were 
accustomed to speak of their founder, see Lucretius V. 8, deus ille 
fuit, dcus, inchite Mcmnii, qui princeps vitae rationem invenit earn 
quae mine appdlatur sapientia, and other passages quoted in my 
note on Cic. N. D. \. 43. His disciples kept sacred to his memory 
not only his birthday, but the aoth day of every month, in ac- 


years. All Epicureans were expected to learn by heart 
short abstracts of their master's teaching, especially 
the Articles of Belief, nvpuu Sofcu 1 , still preserved to 
us by Diogenes Laertius; and it is said that the last 
words addressed by Epicurus to his disciples, were to bid 
them 'remember the doctrines,' fiep.vfj(rdai T&V Soy/xarwv. 
The scandalous tongue of antiquity was never more 
virulent than it was in the case of Epicurus, but, as 
far as we can judge, the life of the Garden joined to 
urbanity and refinement, a simplicity which would have 
done no discredit to a Stoic; indeed the Stoic Seneca 
continually refers to Epicurus not less as a model for 
conduct, than as a master of sententious wisdom. It is 
recorded that, though partly supported by the contribu- 
tions of his disciples, Epicurus condemned the literal 
application of the Pythagorean maxim KOLVO. TO. <iAwv, much 
as Aristotle had done before, because it implied a want 
of trust in the generosity of friendship. Among the most 
distinguished members of the school were Metrodorus, 
(paene alter Epicurus, as Cicero calls him) Hermarchus the 
successor of Epicurus, Colotes, Leonteus and his wife 
Themista, to whom Cicero jestingly alludes in his speech 
against Piso, as a sort of female Solon, and Leontium the 
hetaera, who ventured to attack Theophrastus in an essay 
characterised, as we are told, by much elegance of style*. 
Cicero mentions among his own contemporaries Phaedrus, 
Zeno of Sidon, called the Coryphaeus Epicureorum 

cordance with the instructions in his will. Hence they were called 
in derision elKa5i<rrat, see Diog L. X. 15, Cic. Fin. n. 101. 

1 Cf. Diog. X. 12, 1 6, and Cic. fin. II. 20, quis enirn vtstrum 
non edidicit Epicuri Kvptas 56oy? 

1 Cic. N. D. I. 93. 



(N. D. I 59,) and Philodemus of Gadara ' : and his ac- 
count of the Epicurean doctrines is probably borrowed 
from these. Epicureanism had great success among the 
Romans 2 ; but, with the exception of the poet Lucretius, 
none of the Latin expounders of the system seem to have 
been of any importance 8 . 

The end of the Epicurean philosophy was even more 
exclusively practical than that of the Stoics. Logic 
(called by Epicurus 'Canonic,' as giving the 'canon' or 
test of truth) and physics were merely subordinate to 
ethics, the art of attaining happiness. Knowledge, as 
generally understood, is in itself of no value or interest, 
but tends rather to corrupt and distort our natural judg- 
ment and feeling. Hence we are told that Epicurus 
preferred that his disciples should have advanced no 
farther in the elements of ordinary education than just so 
far as to be able to read and write 4 . In particular we 
are informed that he condemned not only the study of 
Poetry, Rhetoric and Music, but also those sciences 
which Plato had declared to be the necessary Propaedeu- 
tic of the philosopher, Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy 
and Dialectic or Logic, as being at best a frivolous waste 
of time, dealing with words and not with things, if not 

1 Several treatises of Philodemus have been found among the 
Herculanean papyri. On the relation between his Ilept Ei)<reetas 
and Cicero's De Natura Deorum see my edition of the latter, 
pp. XLII LV. 

8 Cic. Tusc. IV 7, Fin. I 25. 

1 Cf. Cic. Tusc. II 7, and Zeller in i. p. 372. 

4 Compare his words reported by Diogenes X 6, raidflaj> 5 
iraffav, fta.Ka.pif, </>erye ; Quintil. Inst. xil 24, Epicurus fugere 
ointiem disciplinam navigation* quam velocissima jubet ; and Sext. 
Pmp. Math. 1 1 and 49. 


actually erroneous and misleading 1 . It is possible that 
these strictures may have had reference not so much to 
Art and Literature and Science in themselves, as to the 
manner in which they were then prosecuted, to the 
'learned' poetry of Alexandria with its recondite mytho- 
logical allusions 2 , to the hair-splitting logic of the Me- 
garic and Stoic schools, and the unreal interpretations of 
Nature propounded by the great idealistic philosophies; 
but there is not the least appearance of any real specula- 
tive interest among the early Epicureans 8 . If there had 
been, we can hardly suppose, that they would have 
spoken of geometry as 'utterly false,' just at the time 
when the Elements of Euclid, the elder contemporary of 
Epicurus, had made their appearance amid the general 
applause of the scientific world 4 . Even their supposed 
strong point 6 , Physical Science, was not studied by them 
for its own sake. Epicurus himself distinctly says that 

1 See Cic. Fin. I 72, II 12, Acad. n 106, and 97. 

1 Metrodorus, however, told his disciples they need feel no 
shame in confessing that they could not quote a line of the Iliad, 
and did not know which side Hector took in the Trojan war. 

8 Hirzel has shown in his Untcrsuchungen ztt Ciceros philosopk- 
ischen Schriften, p. 177 foil, that there was an important section 
among the later Epicureans (probably alluded to in Diog. x 25, as 
those ouj oi yvijffioi "BiTt/cov/mot aoQiffras a.troKa.\ovoiv) who set a 
higher value on logic and literary culture generally than their 
master had done. One of these was Philodemus, of whom Cicero 
speaks as litteris perpolitus (In Pis. 70), the author of numerous 
treatises on rhetoric, music, poetry, dialectic, &c. 

4 See Art. in Diet, of Biog. by De Morgan, ' the Elements must 
have been a tremendous advance, probably even greater than that con- 
tained in the Principia of Newton ;' 'their fame was almost coaeval 
with their publication.' 

5 Cic. Fin. I 63: in physicis plurimum posuit. 



'we must not think there is any other end in the 
knowledge of TO, /lerewpa, celestial phenomena, beyond 
tranquillity of mind and freedom from superstitious 
fears,', .'if it had not been for the anxieties caused by 
our ideas about death and about the influence of these 
heavenly powers, there would have been no need for 
Natural Philosophy (<vo-ioAoyias) '.'... 'The minute in- 
quiries of the astronomers do not tend to happiness : 
nay the constant observation of the phenomena of the 
heavens, without a previous knowledge of the true causes 
of things, is likely to generate a timid and slavish turn of 
mind'.' The indifference of Epicurus to scientific truth 
comes out still more strongly in the explanations which 
he offers of particular phenomena. His one object being 
to guard against the hypothesis either of divine agency or 
of necessary law 8 , he tells his disciples that it is madness 
to suppose that similar effects must always proceed from 
the same causes, and provides them with a choice of 
various hypotheses on which to explain the rising and 
setting of the sun, the changes of the moon, the move- 
ments of planets, earthquakes, thunder, lightning, &c. For 
instance, it may be that the sun (which is no bigger than 
it appears to the naked eye, so there is no need to be 
afraid of it or make a god of it), passes under the earth 

1 Diog. L. X 85 and 142, and other passages cited by Zeller, 
p. 382 foil. 

2 Paraphrased from Diog. x. 79, cf. 93. 

8 Compare Diog. X 134, where he speaks of the blessedness of 
the man who has learnt that necessity is only a name for the 
effect of chance or of our own free will, and says that 'it were better 
to believe in the fables about the gods than in the Fate of the 
philosophers ; the former at least allows us some hope of propitia- 
tion, but fate is inexorable.' 


on setting, and comes above it again on rising ; but it 
may be, and it is just as probable, that the fiery particles 
collect anew every day to form a fresh sun. We cannot 
bring the matter to the direct test of sense, and therefore 
we can only argue from our general experience of what 
happens on earth, which shows that the one view is as 
admissible as the other, spite of all that our system- 
mongers may say 1 . Nay, even supposing that a certain 
class of phenomena, such as eclipses, are always caused 
in the same way in our world, it is still probable, indeed 
almost certain, that they must be caused in different 
ways in the countless worlds contained in the universe*. 

As regards the Logic of the Epicureans we are told 
that they rejected as useless almost all that was known 
under that name, Definition, Generalization, Classification, 
the Syllogism, and that they had a special objection to 
the Law of the Excluded Middle (A either is or is not B, 
aut vivet eras Hermarchus aut non vivet}, as involving the 
principle of Necessity ". But in that age of the world, it 
was no longer possible to fall back upon the master's 
Jpse dixit with the implicit confidence of the old 
Pythagoreans: some reason for their faith had to be 
given. This ground of certainty Epicurus found in the 
senses and feelings. What our sense or feeling tells us, 

1 Cf. Diog. L. X 1 1 3 TO 8 n(ay alrlav TOVTUV airoStSovai, rrXeova- 
Xws TUV (pa.iv o/j.^vuv ^KKaXovfj^vuv, [naviKov. See examples of these 
alternative hypotheses in Diog. X 84 foil., Lucr. V 510 770. 

2 Compare Munro on Lucr. v. 532. In Diog. x. 78, Epicurus 
seems to be applying Aristotle's contrast between the disorderly and 
capricious movements of the sublunary sphere and the perfect order 
of the higher spheres, to his own Koo-fioi and neraicoff/jua., and to find 
in this a justification for the variety of causation in the former. 

8 See Cjc. Fin. i 11, and ;V. D. I 70 and 89 with my notes, 


we receive as certain. Even the supposed sensations of 
sleep or of insanity are in a way true. They have a real 
cause, viz. the influx of those images of which Democritus 
spoke. 'The error,' said Epicurus following Aristotle 1 , 
'lies not in the sensation, but in our interpretation of the 
sensation, in the inference we draw from it. If we once 
abandon this ground of certainty, all is gone. Whatever 
reasoning is not founded on the clear evidence (Ivdpytia, 
perspicuitas) of sense, is mere words. It is true that the 
image which comes to us does not always correspond 
with the actual object (on-cpe/mov). An image coming 
from a square tower at a distance, will perhaps be round 
by the time it reaches us, its edges having been rubbed 
away in its passage through the air: but the sensation 
has given the image correctly ; error arises when we add 
to the sensation the opinion that the image is an exact 
representation of the object 8 .' Opinions (vu-oX^t/'eis) 
are only true, if testified to by a distinct sensation, or, 
supposing such direct evidence unattainable, if there is 
no contrary sensation ; they are false, in all other cases 3 . 
Repeated sensations produce a permanent image, irpo- 
\r)*l/i<>, so called because it exists in the mind as an 
anticipation of the name, which would be unmeaning if 
it could not be referred to a known type. General terms 
can only be safely used for the purpose of argument 
when they rest upon and represent a irpoArj^is. Otherwise 

1 See De Anima III 3, 7} pv aXadyffK rwv Idtuv del dXij^j, 
diavoflffBai 5" ivStxerai KO.I \//ev5ws t and my note on N. D. I 70. 

2 Sext. Emp. Adv. Math. VII 303, foil. 

8 An instance given is the existence of void, of which there can 
be no distinct evidence, but it is in accordance with the fact of 
motion, which itself rests upon the evidence of our senses, Sext. 
Emp. /. (. 213. 


their use only engenders strifes of words. Epicurus him- 
self does not seem to have carried his logical investiga- 
tions further than this; but among the Herculanean 
papyri we have an interesting treatise by Philodemus in 
which he deals with Analogical and Inductive Argu- 
ments 1 . 

It has been already stated that the only reason allowed 
by the Epicureans for studying Physics was to free the 
soul from superstitious fears, and with this view to prove 
that the constitution of the universe might be explained 
from mechanical causes. There is something very re- 
markable, and not altogether easy to account for, in the 
extreme earnestness with which the Epicureans deprecated 
the oppressive influence of superstition, at a time when 
other philosophers, and writers in general, treated it as 
too unimportant to deserve the slightest attention. Thus 
Cicero asks 'where is the old woman so far gone in 
dotage as to believe in a three-headed Cerberus and 
those other bugbears which your sect tells us you have 
only ceased to fear because of your knowledge of physical 
science 8 ,' and in arguing against the fear of death, he 
assumes as an undoubted point that death is either 
annihilation or the admission to a higher state of 
happiness 3 . Fried lander however in his Sittengeschichte 
Rows* has shown that this only expresses the opinion of 

1 See Bahnsch on the wepl <r?;yue/a /ceil ffijueiwreuv of Philodemus, 

2 See Tusc. I 10 and 48, and compare N. D. I 86, quibus 
mediocre* homines non ita valde moventur, his ille clamat omnium 
mortalium ntenles esse perterritas. 

* Tusc. I 25. 

4 Bk. XI on the Immortality of the Soul. 


a small educated class, and that the mass still clung to 
the old beliefs about Charon and Cocytus. Even Cicero 
himself elsewhere speaks of the spread of superstition in 
terms not unlike those employed by Lucretius'. The 
fact seems to be that while, on the one side, the spread 
of enlightenment made it more and more impossible for 
any educated man to accept the absurdities and im- 
moralities of paganism ; and while the prevalence of this 
educated scepticism cannot but have shaken the popular 
hold on the old superstitions, so far as this partook in 
any degree of the nature of belief rather than of unreason- 
ing custom; on the other hand that deepening of the 
individual consciousness which accompanied the extinc- 
tion of the public life of Greece, and which was fostered 
by the growing influence of philosophy and its more 
subjective tone, must have intensified the sense of moral 
and religious responsibility, and given rise to an increased 
anxiety as to a possible retribution to follow this life. 
This appears partly in the rapid growth of the Orphic 
and other mysteries, partly in philosophic or poetic 
imaginations of the unseen world, such as we read in the 
Republic and the Aeneid. And thus * the general convic- 
tion of a judgment to come, where the deeds done in 
this life would receive their reward and punishment, 
seems to have been widely felt, and to have been, for 
priests and prophets, a fruitful soil. Indulgences for sin, 
propitiation of impiety, sacramental atonement, not to 

1 De Divin. II 148, Nam, ut vere loquamur, superstitio fusa pei- 
gentes oppressit omnium fere animos atque hominum imbecillitatem 
occupavit ; compare Lucretius I 62, Humana ante oculos foede ami 
vita jaceret in tern's opprcssa gravi sub religione, quae caput a caeli 
regionibus osten 'ebat horribili super aspectu mortalibus instans, drv. 


mention magic and baser forms of superstition, flourished 
alongside of Epicureanism all through its career, and 
probably reached their maximum in the first and second 
centuries of the Christian era 1 .' The fault of Epicurus 
was that he only saw the bad side of this state of things. 
He saw, as Plato had done, that 'a corrupt religion gives 
birth to impious and unholy deeds;' he saw the paralyzing 
influence of a real belief in the never-ending punishment 
of sin*. Plato's remedy was to train the young in the be- 
lief of the perfect goodness and justice of God, that so they 
might learn to trust in His Providence, and receive with 
meekness His chastisements, knowing that He harms none 
and punishes only to reform. Epicurus thought there could 
be no security from superstitious terror unless men could 
be persuaded that death ended all, and that the Gods took 
no heed of our actions. Plutarch has well pointed out 
how little this accords with the experience of life 8 . 'It 
is far better,' says he, 'that there should be a blended 
fear and reverence in our feelings towards the Deity, 
than that, to avoid this, we should leave ourselves neither 
hope nor gratitude in the enjoyment of our good things, 
nor any recourse to the Divine aid in our adversity. 
Epicurus takes credit to himself for delivering us from the 
misery of fear, but in the case of the bad this fear is the, 

1 Wallace Epicureanism, p. 123, Theophrastus Charartcrs xvi. 
Plutarch De Superstitione. 

8 See Lucr. I 101, tantum religio potuit suadere malorum, and 
107, nam si certam finem esse viderent aeruinnarum homines, aliqua 
ratione vakrent rtligionibus atque minis obsistere vatum : nunc ratio 
nnlla est restanJi, nulla facultas, aeternas quoniam poenas in morte 

* The quotation which follows is a paraphrase from the treatise 
Non posse suavilcr vivi secundum Epicurum, p. iroi foil. 



one thing which enables them to resist temptation to vice, 
and in all other cases the thought of God and of a future 
life is a source of joy and consolation, in proportion as 
a man has come to know God as the Friend of man and 
the Father of all beautiful things.' 

We will now see what was the talisman by which 
Epicurus endeavoured to arm the soul against the 
religion which he so much dreaded. The two main 
principles on which he built his physical system were 
that nothing could be produced out of nothing, and 
that what exists cannot become non-existent. From 
these principles he deduced the truth of the atomic 
doctrine, differing however from Democritus in one im- 
portant point, viz. in his explanation of the manner in 
which the atoms were brought together. Democritus 
had asserted that the heavier atoms overtook the lighter 
in their downward course, and thus initiated the collision 
which finally resulted in a general vortical movement. 
Epicurus retaining the same crude view of 'up' and 'down' 
held that each atom moved with equal speed, and that they 
could only meet by an inherent power of self-movement 
which enabled them to swerve to the slightest possible 
extent from the rigid vertical line ; and he found a 
confirmation of this indeterminate movement of the 
atoms in the free will of man 1 . In other respects there 
is little difference between the physical views of De- 
mocritus and Epicurus. Both held that there were 
innumerable worlds" continually coming into being and 

1 On the deviation of atoms (trappy K\i<r a, clinameri), see Cic. 
N. D. I 69 with my note. 

2 Epicurus defined a world as 'a section of the infinite, embracing 
in itself an earth and stars and all the phenomena of the heavens,' 


passing out of being in the infinitude of space. Our 
own world is already showing signs of decay, and is no 
longer prolific of fresh life as in its beginning. As to 
subordinate arrangements Epicurus thought it unnecessary 
and indeed impossible to assign any one theory as 
certain. It was enough if we could imagine theories 
which were not palpably inadmissible, and which enabled 
us to dispense with any supernatural cause. The ex- 
istence of the present race of animals was explained, as it 
had been by Empedocles, on a rude Darwinian hypothesis 1 . 
Out of the innumerable combinations of atoms which 
had been tried throughout the infinite ages of the past, 
those only survived which were found to be suited to 
their environment. The eye was not made to see with, 
but being made by the fortuitous concourse of atoms it 
was found on trial to have the property of seeing*. 

On the nature of the soul and the manner in which it 
receives its impressions by images from without, Epicurus, 
in the main, follows Democritus, adding a few unimpor- 
tant modifications suggested by the subsequent course of 
speculation. Thus the soul is still made to consist of 
smooth round atoms, but it is no longer a simple 
substance : it is partly the irrational principle of life 
(anima) dispersed throughout the body, partly the rational 
principle (mens, animus,) concentered in the heart : and 
the atoms of which both of these are made up, though 
we must suppose not in the same proportions, have 

n TII ovpavou dirrpa re icai yijv ical travTa. ra <f>a.Lv6fifva irepi- 
such worlds are of every variety of form, Diog. L. X 88. 
(Hiibner and other editors omit yrjv without reason.) 
1 Lucr. v 783 foil. 
" Lucr. iv 823 foil. 



already coalesced into four distinct elements, one resem- 
bling wind (irvfvfjiai, ventus or aura), which predominates 
in the timid soul of the swift deer, one fire, which shows 
itself in the fury of the lion, the third air, which gives to 
the oxen their character of calm repose, midway between 
burning passion and chill fear; the last element (evidently 
suggested by the Quinta Essentia of Aristotle) is name- 
less, composed of the very finest atoms ; sensation, 
thought and will, are transmitted from it to the other 
elements. Death ensues on the severing of the link 
which binds the soul to the body : the etherial atoms 
of soul are immediately dispersed into the outer air, the 
earthy atoms of body gradually fall apart and rejoin their 
parent earth. Every mental impression is a modification 
of touch. The images thrown off from the surface of 
solid objects (o-Tepe/ma) are perceptible by the soul- 
atoms located in the bodily organs ; but there are more 
delicate images which are only perceptible by the mind 
itself: such are the images presented to the mind in 
slumber, or in thinking of the absent or the unreal. 
These images are sometimes produced by the coalescence 
of two or more images as in the case of the centaur, 
sometimes by a chance concatenation of fine atoms. 
Often, as in recollection, it requires an effort of mind 
(itrifioXij, injectus animi,) to bring the fleeting image 
steadily before us. It is for the wise man to determine 
in the case of each image, whether it has a real object 
corresponding to it. 

One class of images deserves especial attention. 

They are those which have led men to believe in the 

Gods. Shapes of superhuman size and beauty and 

strength appear to us both in our waking moments and 

M. P. 13 


still more in sleep 1 . These recurring appearances have 
given rise to an anticipation, TrpoX^i/us, of Divinity, of which 
the essential characteristics are immortality and blessed- 
ness. The truth of this TrpoX^is is testified to by the 
universal consent of mankind. Taking it as our starting 
point we may go on to assign to the Gods such qualities 
as are agreeable to these essential attributes. If, in doing 
so, we run counter to the vulgar opinion and the many idle 
imaginations (vn-oXr^ets) which have been added to the 
Trpo'XT/i/as, it is not we who are guilty of impiety, but 
those who impute to the Gods what is inconsistent with 
their true character. The idea of blessedness involves 
not only happiness but absolute perfection. It forbids 
us to suppose that the Gods can be troubled with the 
creation or government of a world ; and this conclusion 
is confirmed by our experience of what our own world is, 
the greatest portion of it uninhabitable from excess of 
cold or heat, much of the remainder barren and unfruit- 
ful, even the best land requiring constant toil to make it 
produce what is of use to man. Then think of the 
various miseries of life, to which the good are exposed 
no less than the bad, all this shows 

nequaquam nobis dhrinitus esse paratam 
naturam rerum ; tanta stat praedita culpa*. 

1 The fact of these 'epiphanies' was generally accepted. For 
recorded instances see my note on Cic. N. D. \ 46. It is not very 
clear why the appearances of Gods were considered to stand on 
a different footing from those of departed spirits, which were 
equally vouched for by experience. See Lucr. iv 32 foil, of 
the shapes of the dead, which 'frighten our minds when they present 
themselves to us awake as well as in sleep;' and compare 722 foil, 
and I 132. Aristotle also referred to dreams as one cause of our 
belief in Divine beings. 

* Lucr. v 198. 



There are other more general considerations which point 
to the same conclusion : for what sudden motive can we 
conceive which should make the Gods abandon their 
state of eternal repose, and set to the work of creation, 
and how, with no model before them, could they know 
what to make or how to make it ; again, how can we 
possibly believe that any being should be powerful 
enough to administer, not to say to create, the infinity of 
nature ? It is equally impossible to ascribe to the Gods 
such weakness and pettiness of mind as to feel anger 
or be propitiated with gifts, or to take a fussy interest 
in the affairs of men. They enjoy undisturbed tran- 
quillity in some region far removed from our troubled 

This tranquil region Epicurus found in the inter- 
mundia, the spaces between his countless worlds. He 
seems to have borrowed the suggestion from Aristotle, who 
transformed the heaven of the poets into the supra-celestial 
region where space and time are not, but 'where the 
things outside enjoy through all eternity a perfect life ot 
absolute joy and peace 1 .' But the unchangeableness 
which belongs naturally to Aristotle's solitary world is 
altogether out of place in the countless perishable worlds 
of Epicurus. For successive worlds need not occupy the 
same point in space nor be made up of the same 
materials ; new worlds are formed KCU cv KOO>I<J> KOI ev 
/LtTaKo<T/AMj>, and their materials may have been either 
already made use of for the formation of a world or they 
may be floating loose in an intermundium* . Moreover, 
during the existence of each world, it is constantly either 

1 Arist. De Caelo \ 9. 
8 Diog. X 89. 

13 2 


receiving an accession of atoms from the intermundia or, 
in its later stages, giving them back again. It is plain 
therefore that Epicurus has failed to find a safe retreat for 
his Gods in the intermundia and that they are quite as 
much exposed to the me/us ruinarum there as they 
would have been within the world 1 . 

Again, the Gods, like every other existing thing, are 
made up of atoms and void; but every compound is liable 
to dissolution ; how is this compatible with immortality ? 
One answer given was that the destructive and conservative 
forces in the universe balance one another, but in this 
world the destructive forces have the upper hand, therefore 
elsewhere, probably in the intermundia, the conservative 
forces must prevail*. Another reason was that the atoms 
of which the Gods are composed, were so fine and 
delicate as to evade the blows of the coarser atoms . 
This idea of the extreme tenuity of the divine corporeity 
was doubtless suggested partly by the Homeric descrip- 
tion of the Gods 'who are bloodless and immortal' 
(//. v 340) and partly by the shadowy idola of the dead, 
which escape the grasp of their living friends. We find 
yet another reason assigned, not so much perhaps for the 
actual immortality of the Gods, as for our belief in it, in 
the alleged fact of an incessant stream of divine images 
(eiSwAa), too subtle to impinge on the bodily senses, but 

1 Compare Cic. Dnrin. II 40, N. D. \ 18, 53, 114, Diog. x 89, 
Lucr. II 1105 1174. 

2 Cic. N. D. I 50, with my note. 

8 See Cic. N. D. I 68 71, and the passage from Herculanensia, 
Vol. VI. pt. i p. 35, quoted in my note on 71 'no object which is 
perceptible to the senses is immortal, for its density makes it liable 
to severe shocks. ' 


perceptible by the kindred atoms of mind 1 . Evidently 
this incessant never-ending influx of divine images is not 
a thing which can be directly vouched for by any human 
experience. We are not directly conscious even of the 
stream of images. All that an Epicurean could say is 
that we seem from time to time to behold the same 
glorified form, and that there is some ground for suppos- 
ing similar appearances during past ages; that we can 
only account for such appearances by the supposition of 
an uninterrupted succession of images continued from a 
very remote period. But this of course is no proof of 
immortality : if it were so, we must a fortiori believe the 
immortality of the sun, or indeed, as the Ciceronian Cotta 
remarks (N. D. i 109), of any common object, since our 
ordinary perceptions are due to such an uninterrupted 
stream of images*. If it is said that we cannot help attri- 
buting in our thought a permanent unchanging existence 
to the divine nature, and that this law of thought is only 
explicable, on the Epicurean hypothesis, by the supposi- 
tion of an endless stream of images actuating our mind, 
then the belief in the divine immortality is made the 

1 Lucretius (v 1161 foil.) describing how the belief in the gods 
originated in visions, tells us that they were thought to be immortal, 
partly because they seemed to be too mighty to be overcome by any 
force, and partly quia semper eorum subpeditabatur fades et forma 
manebat, one image constantly succeeded another giving the impres- 
sion of a permanent form. There is a similar use of the verb 
suppedito in IV 776, (where he explains the apparent movements in 
dreams by the rapid succession of particles, tanta est copia particula- 
rum ut possit suppeditare) and in Cic. N. D. I 109 (referring to the 
divine images) innumerabilitas suppeditat atomorum. See for a 
general discussion on the subject my notes on N. D. I 49. 

* See Lucr. IV 26 foil, Diog. X 48. 


ground of our belief in the interminableness of images, 
not vice versa. When we further remember that these 
countless images are supposed to travel intact all the way 
from the intermundia, (see Cic. N. D. I 114 ex ipso (deo) 
imagines semper affltfant, and Lucr. vi 76 de eorpore quae 
sancto simulacra feruntur in mentes hominum divinae 
nuntia formae,} and to be incessantly thrown off from 
bodies which were themselves scarcely more than images, 
we shall not wonder that some of the Epicureans failed 
to rise to the height of the credo quia impossibilevt\\ic\\ their 
system demanded, and fell back on the easier doctrine of 
Democritus, asserting the divinity of the images them- 
selves, and deriving them not from the deities of the 
intermundia, but from the combinations of etherial atoms 
floating in the surrounding air 1 . 

1 This seems to me to be the easiest explanation of the much 
disputed words of Diogenes X r 39, fr dLXXots 5^ <t>i)<rt TOVS deovs \6y<? 
vs, ovs KO.T apiOfjav u^eerro/ras, oils 5 icad' ofioeiSiai' K -rijs 
irifipv<reus rQ>v opoiuv el5w\ut> eirl TO avro airorfTeXeff/j^vwr 
iSus. Hirzelinhis Untersuchungm zu Cicero 1 sphilosophischen 
schriften, pp. 46 90, whom Zeller follows in his last edition, p. 431, 
has shown, in opposition to Schomann (De Epicuri Theologia, con- 
tained In the 4th TO!, of his Opuscula) t that there is no reason for 
altering the text, and that we must accept it as a fact that there were 
two classes of gods recognized in the Epicurean school, one possessed 
of a separate individuality and having their abode in the intermundia, 
the other existing only in virtue of a continuous stream of un- 
distinguishable images which in their combination produce on our 
minds the impression of a human form. Zeller thinks that the latter 
are meant for the unreal gods of the popular mythology, which, like 
the centaur and every other human imagination, must have their 
origin in some corresponding image ; but the words of Diogenes 
seem to me to be less appropriate to the very concrete deities of the 
Greek pantheon than to some vague feeling of a divine presence such 


Leaving the question of immortality, we pass on to 
speak of the Epicurean belief as to the shape of the 
Gods. They derided the spherical mundane God of the 
Stoics, and held that the direct evidence of visions, no 
less than the general belief of mankind, testified that the 
Gods were in the likeness of men. But this might also 
be proved by reasoning, for experience showed that 
rationality was only found in human form ; and besides, 
the human, being the most perfect form, must be that of 
the most perfect being. Some of the later Epicureans 
went on to describe in detail the manner of life of their 
Intermundian Gods. They lived in houses, ate and drank 
celestial food, needed no sleep, for they were never weary; 
their chief enjoyment was conversation, which probably 
went on in Greek or something very like it : in fact they 
were in heaven what the Epicurean brotherhood was, or 
strove to be, on earth '. Such Gods were worthy of our 
reverence and imitation, but they were not objects of 
fear, as they neither could nor would do us harm 9 . 

While Epicurus agrees with Aristippus in making 
pleasure the sole natural end of life, the standard of 
good, as sensation is of truth, he differs from him in 
attaching more value to permanent tranquillity than to 

as might be caused by the idola of Democritus. Compare also the 
parallel passage in Cic. N. D. I 49. 

1 See Philodemus, quoted by Zeller, p. 434 foil. 

8 Some of the Epicureans seem to have allowed to their Gods a 
certain influence over the happiness of men ; see the passages quoted 
from Philodemus irepl ev<rej3efas in my note on Cic. N. D. \ 45, 
especially pp. 86 89 (Gompertz) 'the Stoics deny that the Gods are 
the authors of evil to men and thus take away all restraint on 
iniquity, while we say that punishment comes to some from the gods 
and the greatest of good to others. ' See too Lucr. vi 70. 


momentary gratification, and also in preferring mental 
pleasures to bodily, as involving memory and hope, and 
therefore both more enduring and more under our control. 
Still bodily pleasure is the groundwork and foundation of 
all other pleasure, as Epicurus says (Diog. x 6) 'I know 
not what good means if you deny me the pleasures of the 
senses;' and Metrodorus 'all good is concerned with 
the belly' or, as it might be expressed in our own 
day, 'the summum bonum is a healthy digestion' (Cic. 
N. D. i 113). Virtue is not desirable for itself, 
as an end, but only as the means to attain pleasure. 
The wise man, i. e. the virtuous man, is happy because he is 
free from the fear of the Gods and of death, because he 
has learnt to moderate his passions and desires, because 
he knows how to estimate and compare pleasures and 
pains, so as to secure the largest amount of the former 
with the least of the latter. The distinction between 
right and wrong rests merely on utility and has nothing 
mysterious about it. Thus Epicurus says 'Injustice is 
not in itself evil, but it is rightly shunned because it is 
always accompanied by the fear of detection and punish- 
ment 1 .' 'Justice is nothing in itself; it is simply an 
agreement neither to injure or be injured*.' One chief 
means of attaining pleasure is the society of friends. To 

1 Diog. X 151. -f) adtKta ov Ka.6' tavrriv KCLKOV, aXX' tt> r<j3 /card r^v 
viro\f/tav </>o/3<f), el fir) \rjffet TOI)S virtp TUV TOIOVTUV ttpfffrrjitoTas 

2 Diog. X 150. TO TTJS 0utrews 5/KatoV &m <rv/J./:)o\ot> TOV <rv/j.<f>4- 
j TO fJLrj /SXairreii' dXXTjXovs (tridt (3\airTfff6ai. 'There is no 
justice or injustice for animals or for those tribes which have not 
been able, or have not chosen to make such compacts : OVK -rjv rt 
KO.&' eavro SiKaioffiivrj, but a kind of compact in regard to mutual 
association extending over certain localities.' 


enjoy this we should cultivate the feelings of kindness and 
benevolence. Epicurus does not recognize any claims 
of a wider society. He considers it folly to take part 
in public life, and Metrodorus dissuaded his brother from 
such a course in the words 'it is not our business to seek 
for crowns by saving the Greeks, but to enjoy ourselves 
in good eating and drinking' (Plut. Adv. Col. 1125 D.). 

What has been said will sufficiently account for the 
dislike entertained by Cicero and others towards the 
' swinish doctrines ' of Epicurus. I subjoin a few other 
quotations from his writings, some of which may help to 
give a more favourable impression of the man and -explain 
Seneca's admiration for him. 'We think contentment 
(avrapKia, self-sum* cingn ess) a great good, not with a view 
to stint ourselves to a little in all cases, but in order that, 
if we have not got much, we may content ourselves with 
little, being fully persuaded that those enjoy luxury most 
who need it least, and that whatever is natural is easily 
procured, and only what is matter of vain ostentation is 
hard to win. Plain dishes give as much pleasure as 
expensive ones, provided there is enough to remove the 
pain of hunger ; and bread and water are productive of 
the highest pleasure to one who is really in want. The 
regular use of a simple inexpensive diet not only keeps a 
man in perfect health, but it gives him promptness and 
energy to meet all the requirements of life, while it makes 
him more capable of enjoying an occasional feast and 
also renders him fearless of fortune. When we speak 
then of pleasure as the end, we do not mean the pleasure 
of the sensualist, as some accuse us of doing : we mean 
the absence of bodily pain and of mental anxiety V 
1 From the Epistle of Epicurus to Menoeceus in Diog. X 130. 


'Man cannot live pleasantly without living wisely and 
nobly and justly, nor can he live wisely and nobly and 
justly without living pleasantly 1 .' 

' The wealth of nature is limited and easily procured, 
the wealth of vain imagination knows no limit*.' 

' Fleshly pleasure, when once the pain of want is 
removed, admits of no increase, but only of variation 8 .' 

' Great pain cannot last long, lasting pain is never 
violent. In chronic diseases the bodily state is on the 
whole more pleasurable than painful 4 .' 

So far we may recognize a genuine Epicurean senti- 
ment. In the two quotations which follow there is an 
imitation of Stoic bravado. 

Epistle to Idomeneus. ' I write this to you on the 
last day of my life, a happy day in spite of the agonizing 
pain of my disease, for I oppose to all my pain the 
mental pleasure arising from the memory of our former 
discussions. My last request is that you will befriend 
the children of Metrodorus in a manner worthy of your 
life-long devotion to me and to philosophy 8 .' 

' Even in the bull of Phalaris the wise man would 
retain his happiness 6 .' 

' Courage does not come by nature, but by calculation 
of expediency 7 .' 

4 Friendship exists for the sake of advantage. But we 

1 From the /ev/jteu 56|at Diog. X 140. 
Ib. 144. Ibid. 

4 Diog. X 140, Plut. Aud. Poet. 36 B. ; Cic. Fin. II 12, si gra- 
ms brevis, si longus levis. 

6 Diog. X 33, Cic. Fin. II 96. 
6 Cic. Tusf. ii 17, Diog. x 118. 
* Diog. x i30. 



must be willing to take the initiative, just as we must 
begin by sowing, in order to reap afterwards 1 .' 

' The wise man will dogmatize and not raise sceptical 
objections (aTropifo-tu/) 2 .' 

'The wise man will not fall in love, nor will he marry 
or beget children except under special circumstances, for 
many are the inconveniences of marriage 3 .' 

I add one more quotation to illustrate not so much 
the doctrines of Epicurus, as the grandeur and the 
gloom of one who was a Roman and a poet before he 
was an Epicurean. 

'" Now no more shall thy home receive thee with glad 
welcome, nor wife and children run to be the first to snatch 
kisses and touch thy heart with a silent joy. One disastrous 
day has taken from thee, luckless man, all the many prizes 
of life." This do men say, but add not thereto "and now no 
longer does any craving for these things beset thee withal." 
For thus they ought rather to think "Thou, even as now 
thou art, sunk in the sleep of death, shalt continue so for 
ever, freed from all distress ; but we with a sorrow that 
would not be sated, wept for thee, when close by, thou 
didst turn to an ashen hue on the appalling funeral pile, 
and no length of days shall pluck from our hearts our ever- 

1 Diog. x tit. Seneca Ep. 9, draws the contrast between the 
Epicurean view which recommended friendship in order that one 
might have a friend's help and succour, ut habeat qui sibi aegro 
assideat, sitccurrat in vincula conjee to vel inopi, and the Stoic view 
that he might be useful to others, ut habeat aliquem cui ipse aegro 
assideat, quern ipse circumventum hostiJi custodia liberet. But 
Epicurus allows there may be occasions on which the wise man 
would die for his friend, vwtp <pl\ov iror Te6vyea6ai. Diog. Hi. 

2 Diog. X 121. 

8 Diog. X 119. The last clause is added by Seneca, see Zeller, 
p. 459, n. 



during grief."... Once more, if Nature could suddenly 
utter a voice and rally any one of us in such words as 
these, " what reason hast thou, O mortal, for all this ex- 
ceeding sorrow? why bemoan and bewail death? For, 
if thy life past and gone has been welcome to thee, why 
not take thy departure like a guest filled with life, and 
enter with resignation on untroubled rest? But if all 
thou hast enjoyed has been squandered and lost and life 
is a grievance, why seek to add more, to be wasted in 
its turn and utterly lost without avail ? Why not rather 
make an end of life and travail? for there is nothing 
more which I can contrive to give thee pleasure : all 
things are ever the same."... With good reason, methinks, 
Nature would bring her charge ; for old things give way 
and are supplanted by new, thing never ceases to 
rise out of another, and life is granted to none in fee- 
simple, to all in usufruct... And those things sure enough, 
which are fabled to be in the deep of Acheron, do all 
exist for us in this life... Cerberus and the Furies and 
Tartarus belching forth hideous fires from his throat, 
these are things which nowhere are, nor sooth to say can 
be. But there is in life a dread of punishment for evil 
deeds, signal as the deeds are signal ; there is the prison 
and the hurling from the rock, the scourging and the 
executioner, the dungeon of the doomed ; or should 
these be wanting, yet the conscience-stricken mind through 
boding fears applies to itself whips and goads, and sees 
not what end there can be of evils or what limit at last is 
set to punishments, and fears lest these very evils be 
aggravated after death, so that the life of fools becomes 
at length a hell on earth. Remember too that even 
worthy Ancus has closed his eyes in darkness, who was 



far, far better than thou, unconscionable man. And since 
then, many kings and potentates have been laid low, who 
lorded it over mighty nations. He too, even he who erst 
made a path for his legions to march over the deep, and 
set at naught the roarings of the seas, trampling on them 
with his horses, had the light taken from him and shed 
forth his soul from his dying body. The son of the 
Scipios, thunderbolt of war, terror of Carthage, yielded 
his bones to earth, just as if he were the lowest menial. 
Think too of the inventors of all sciences and graceful 
arts, think of the companions of the Heliconian maids ; 
among whom Homer bore the sceptre without a peer, 
and he now sleeps the same sleep as others... Even 
Epicurus passed away, when his light of life had run its 
course, he who surpassed in intellect the race of man 
and quenched the light of all, as the etherial sun arisen 
quenches the stars. Wilt thou then hesitate and think it 
a hardship to die ? thou for whom life is well nigh dead 
whilst yet thou livest and seest the light, who wastest the 
greater part of thy time in sleep and snorest wide awake 
and ceasest not to see visions and hast a mind troubled 
with groundless terror and canst not discover often what 
it is that ails thee, when, besotted man, thou art sore 
pressed on all sides with a multitude of cares and goest 
astray still floundering in the maze of error 1 .' 

In tracing the history of the post-Aristotelian philo- 
sophy we have seen that, underneath the antagonisms of 
the different schools of this period, there was, in the first 
place, much which they held in common, in opposition 

1 Lucr. in 894 1051. The translation is Munro's, slightly 
altered and abbreviated. 


to the earlier schools ; and secondly that there was 
a constant tendency, especially noticeable in the Acade- 
mic and Stoic schools, to approximate to each other and 
to modify or suppress their own distinctive characteristics. 
Partly owing to better acquaintance and improved under- 
standing of each other's doctrines, and partly as a result 
of criticism bringing to light the weak points of each, 
there was a double movement going on, towards eclecti- 
cism on the one side, as it began to be surmised that the 
different schools presented different aspects of truth, and 
towards scepticism on the other side, as it was felt that no 
school could boast to have attained to absolute truth. 
This natural tendency of speculative thought was further 
assisted by the circumstances of the time, especially by 
the rise of the Roman power and the growing intercourse 
between Greece and Rome. To estimate the nature and 
extent of this influence on the ulterior development of 
philosophy, there are four points to be considered; 
(i) what new factors were supplied by Rome? or, to 
express it differently, what were the distinguishing features 
of the Roman intellect and character before it underwent 
the process of Hellenizing? (2) through what channels 
was this process carried on ? (3) what was the result as re- 
gards the Romans ? (4) how did Rome react on Greece ? 
As regards (i), if we compare a Roman or a 
Sabine at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. with an 
Athenian, we shall probably find the latter to be a 
townsman, vain, flighty, impressible, excitable; tolerant 
and liberal in opinion, and lax, not to say loose, in 
morality; of ready and versatile talent, with a taste 
for literature and art, and a natural fondness for dis- 
cussion, ever seeking for novelty and amusement; demo- 


cratic in politics, so far as, under the altered circum- 
stances of Athens, he still retains any interest in politics ; 
half sceptical, half superstitious and wholly inquisitive in 
matters of religion. The former is the contrary of 
all this, a dweller in the country, fond of home, proud, 
stubborn, earnest, narrowly conservative, a stern moralist 
and strict disciplinarian, scorning luxury and refinement, 
and content to be guided in all things by the wisdom of 
his ancestors, suspicious of ideas and rhetoric, indifferent 
to all but practical considerations, aristocratic in politics, 
with a deep-rooted belief in his traditional religion, as the 
only foundation and safeguard of the fortune and the great- 
ness of the city, for which he is at all times ready to sacrifice 
his life 1 . The contrast was often commented on both by 
Greeks and Romans. Thus Polybius in the middle of the 
2nd century B.C. writes as follows, 'the great superiority 
of the Romans lies in their religious belief: what is 
blamed among other men is the foundation of their 
power, I mean, superstition. They endeavour in every 
way to heighten the imposing aspect of their religion (eVl 
TOO-OVTOV KTcrpayw8r]Tai) and to extend its influence over 
the whole of life, both public and private. And this 
seems to be done especially with a view to the common 
people, for in a state consisting of wise men alone, 
perhaps such a course would be less necessary. But as 
the multitude is always frivolous, full of lawless passions 
and senseless anger, nothing remains but to restrain 
them by giving form and shape to the terrors of an unseen 
world (TOIS aS^Xois <o/3ois Kai rjj roiavrrj TpaywSia). Hence 
it appears to me that the ancients had good reason for in- 

1 See the account of Cato the elder in Mommsen, Bk. ill. ch. 13. 


troducing the beliefs in the gods and in the infernal 
regions, and that it is a far less rational course to attempt 
to get rid of these beliefs as some are now doing. This is 
shown by the difficulty of securing honesty in public men 
among the sceptical Greeks, in spite of every possible 
precaution, while a Roman on his oath may safely be 
entrusted with any amount of money 1 .' The next passage 
is from Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a younger contem- 
porary of Cicero. After enumerating the causes of national 
prosperity, viz. ist the blessing of heaven, and 2ndly the 
moral qualities of the citizens, their temperance, justice and 
courage, and the habit of making honour, not pleasure, 
the distinguishing mark of happiness, he praises the 
wisdom of the founder of Rome in omitting from his 
religious system all that was immoral, useless or un- 
seemly in the mythology of Greece; 'from whence,' he 
says, ' it comes that in all their actions and words, which 
have a reference to religious matters, the Romans show a 
devoutness not found among Greeks or barbarians 2 .' 
Compare with these passages Cicero's words, 'how- 
ever highly we may think of ourselves, we must con- 
fess that in many points we are inferior to other nations, 
in bodily strength to the Gauls, in art to the Greeks, 
&c, but in piety and religion and the wisdom to see 
that all things are directed by Divine Providence, we 
are unquestionably the first.' 'I allow to the Greeks 
literature, artistic training, genius, elegance, fluency; I 
make no objection to other claims which they may put 
forward; but they have not, they never have had, any 
feeling of the sanctity of an oath, any scruple in regard 

1 In the above, I give the substance of Polyb. vi 56. 
Dion. II 18, foil. 


to the giving of evidence.' 'It is a nation made to de 
ceive: I am utterly weary of their frivolity, their flattery, 
their time-serving and unconscientious character.' 'It is 
wonderful how they are delighted with trifles which we 
despise 1 .' 

Our next business is to trace the growth of the 
connexion between Rome and Greece, for which the 
following dates will supply the most important land- 
marks; but it must not be forgotten that the ground-work 
of this connexion is to be found in the intercourse which 
subsisted from a very early period between Rome and 
the Greek cities of Southern Italy, such as Cumae, Nea- 
polis, and Tarentum. 

B.C. 281. War with Pyrrhus. 

250 150. Rise of a Hellenized literature in Rome 
represented by such names as Livius Andronicus (first 
play 240 B.C.), Plautus d. 184, Ennius d. 169, Terence d. 


228. First Roman embassy to Greece. Ambassa- 
dors admitted to the Isthmian games and the Eleusinian 

213. War between Rome and Philip of Macedon. 

196. Overthrow of Macedon at Cynoscephalae. 
Declaration of the independence of Greece at the 
Isthmian games in the following year by the philhellene 

191. War with Antiochus. 

1 68. Final conquest of Macedon by Paullus Aemi- 

1 See Cic. ffarusp. Resp. 19, Pro Flacco 9, 1 1, ad Q. Fr. 1. 1, i, 
and compare the well-known lines in Hor. Od. in. 6, beginning Dis 
te minorem quod geris imperas, and the still more famous lines from 
the 6th Aeneid 848, foil, excudent alii spirantia mollins atra, also Ju- 
venal Sat. III. 60 80 non possum ferre, Quirites, Graecam urbem, &c. 
M. P. 14 


lius. One thousand Achaeans carried to Rome in the 
following year: among them the historian Polybius. 

146. Fall of Carthage. Corinth taken by Mummius. 
Greece made into the Roman province of Achaia. 

For an account of the social and literary influence of 
Greece on Rome, the reader is referred to Mommsen's 
History of Rome Bk. in. chapters 13 and 14. I must 
content myself here with a few remarks on the special 
influence of Greek philosophy 1 . This is first seen in the 
poet Ennius, who appears to have rationalized the 
national religion in two directions, ist, by physical and 
allegorical explanations in his Epicharmus, and 2ndly 
by a so-called 'pragmatical' or historical explanation, in 
his translation of the Sacred History of Euhernerus, in 
which Jupiter and the rest of the Gods were represented 
as ancient kings or other historical personages, who had 
been deified by their descendants. His free-thinking is 
also shown in the lines quoted from one of his tragedies : 
Ego deum genus esse semper dixi et dicam caelitiu/t, 
Sed eos nan curare opinor quid agat humanum genus ; 
Nam, si curent, bene bonis sit, male malts, quod nunc abcst. 

In 181 B.C. an attempt was made to add to what may 
be called the canonical books of Rome, certain spurious 
writings, said to have been discovered in the tomb of 
Numa, containing a sort of Pythagorean philosophy of 
religion. These were burnt by order of the Senate as 
likely to disturb the faith of their readers. Further 
evidence of the growing influence of philosophy may 

1 For what follows, see Marquardt Romische Staatsverwaliung, 
vol. VI. pp. i 80; Preller Romische Mythologie; Benjamin 
Constant Du Polytheisme Remain \ Havet Le Christianisme et ses 
Origines, Vol. II. 


be seen in the decree of the senate made in 161 B.C. by 
which philosophers and rhetoricians were forbidden to 
reside in Rome, and still more in the interest excited by 
the Athenian embassy in the year 156 B.C. The object 
of the embassy was to induce the Romans to remit 
or reduce a fine which had been imposed upon the 
Athenians for plundering Oropus ; and the fact that the 
leaders of the three schools which stood highest in public 
estimation, the Academic Carneades, the Peripatetic 
Critolaus and the Stoic Diogenes, were selected as am- 
bassadors, not only shows the confidence which their 
fellow-citizens had in their powers of oratory, but also 
implies a belief, as Cicero has remarked, that their 
philosophy would not be unacceptable in Rome 1 . Accord- 
ingly we are told that the envoys found there numerous 
patrons and admirers, and that, while their cause was 
pending in the senate, each of them, but especially Car- 
neades, drew crowds of the young nobility to their private 
exhibitions of philosophical rhetoric. Cato was deeply dis- 
pleased and alarmed by the reports he heard of the fasci- 
nation they were exerting on the Roman youth : and cen- 
sured the magistrates for allowing men, who had the power 
of making the worst doctrines seem probable, to wait 
so long for the dispatch of their business. It seems that 
Carneades had shocked the moral sense of Rome by 
arguing on one day in favour of justice, and the next day 
taking the opposite side and citing the greatness of Rome 
itself as a proof that justice was impracticable, since it 
would necessitate the Romans giving back their conquests 
and returning to their primitive huts. Cicero tells 
another anecdote of the embassy on the authority of 

1 7 use. iv. 5. 



Clitomachus, the pupil of Carneades. The praetor Albi- 
nus having asked, 'Is it true, Carneades, that you hold me 
to be no praetor, because I am not wise, and this city to 
be no city?' 'It is not I, that thinks so,' replied Car- 
neades, ' but this Stoic here,' pointing to Diogenes'. Cicero 
dates the commencement of the study of philosophy in 
Rome from this embassy, and there is no doubt that 
from this time forward we constantly find Greek philo- 
sophers resident in Rome, either as tutors of youth or as 
inmates of great houses, domestic chaplains, as they have 
been called, and on the other hand that it became the 
practice for Romans who were ambitious of literary or 
oratorical distinction to attend lectures at Athens and the 
other seats of Greek philosophy. The earliest and most 
famous philosophical coterie in Rome was that of which 
Panaetius was the centre, including such names as the 
younger Africanus, with whom he resided, Laelius, Tubero, 
Q. Mucius Scaevola, and many others 2 . 

We have next to consider what was the effect on the 
Romans of this influx of Greek philosophy. We may 
probably say that, in the first instance, it was not unlike 
the effect of the Sophistic rhetoric on the Athenians in the 
days of Socrates. It was welcomed as promising new light 
when people were beginning to feel that there was great 
need for light, and as providing new powers just at the 
time when the field for the use of those powers was im- 
mensely widened. The old religion, which had stood the 
Romans in good stead, as we have seen, while they were 
still a struggling Italian tribe, was after all little better than 
a mere ceremonial drill, which fostered religious awe and 
deepened the sense of duty, but supplied no food for 

1 Cic. Acad. II. 137, Tusc. IV. 5. a See Zeller, pp. 535, 548, 571. 


thought or imagination; the Gods whom it taught them 
to worship were objects of fear, not of veneration or love, 
and the worship which it inculcated was not Socrates' 
prayer of mingled trust and resignation, not the sponta- 
neous expression of gratitude or repentance, but the use 
of certain rites and formulas, now generally felt to be 
irrational or unintelligible, by the mechanical repetition 
of which it was asserted that the will of the Gods might be 
ascertained, their wrath averted, or their favour secured. 
Already the faith in the old religion had been seriously 
undermined 1 . It was no longer a secret that it was em- 
ployed as a political engine by the magistrates ; and the 
introduction of various foreign deities, of Cybele, of 
Bacchus, of Isis, showed that even among the multitude 
a more full-blooded religion was wanted, that the religious 
instinct could no longer be satisfied with the old dreary 
round of lifeless ceremonial. In this state of things the 
first effect of philosophy was to open men's eyes to that 
of which they had been dimly conscious before ; and hence 
it was, as Cicero tells us, that the common opinion iden- 
tified philosophy with unbelief. 

But, however it might be with the other sects, it was 
never the aim of Stoicism to overthrow a traditional 
religion, but rather to purify and strengthen it. And so 
we find the Pontifex, Mucius Scaevola, in accordance 
with the principles of his master Panaetius, distinguishing 
between three different theologies, that of the poets, that 
of the philosophers, and that of the magistrates: the first 

1 It was Cato, the great opponent of philosophy, who wondered 
how one soothsayer (haruspex} could meet another without laughing, 
Cic. Divin. II. 51. 

3 Cic. De Invent. 46. 


he said was altogether unworthy of belief, the second was 
true, but not suited to the multitude, for instance it was 
not expedient to proclaim openly that the images did not 
really resemble the Gods after whom they were named, 
since the true God was without sex or age and had no 
resemblance to the form of man, the third ought to be 
such an approach to the truth as the magistrates thought 
the people were capable of receiving. The same idea was 
developed with more fulness by Cicero's friend the anti- 
quarian Varro, in his famous work on the religious anti- 
quities of Rome, where he distinctly states that his object 
in writing it was to revive a decaying worship 1 . He classi- 
fies the almost countless deities of the Roman pantheon, 
as different manifestations or functions of the one self- 
existent God, whom he even compares with the God of the 
Jews*. He regrets that the use of images, unknown for 
170 years after the founding of the city, had ever been 
introduced, and says that, if he had had to do with the 
first establishment of religion in Rome he would have 
kept more closely to the religion of nature as understood 
by the philosophers. 

It may be doubted however whether the well-meant 
efforts of Varro and others were really successful in their 
object. Granting that the effect of philosophy was on 
the whole to elevate and improve the moral and religious 
ideal of the few who were capable of receiving it, we 
have to set against this the demoralizing tendency of 
Epicureanism, as vulgarly understood, and the general 

1 August. C. D. IV. 31, ad turn fi rum ilia scribere se dicit Vam 
ut potius deos magis colere quam despicere vulgus velit. 

8 Aug. de Cons. Evang. i. 22, 41, cited by Dollinger, and at 
Ctv. Dei iv. 31. 


unsettling of belief which was encouraged by the nega- 
tive criticism of the Academy. Even the teaching of the 
Stoics, though it set before the more educated classes an 
object which they could feel to be worthy of their venera- 
tion and worship, and thus effected for them a recon- 
ciliation between reason and religion; and though it 
confirmed the old Roman ideas as to the essential con- 
nexion between national prosperity and religion; yet, so 
far as it affected in any way the mass of the people, it 
can only have acted as a solvent of the popular belief. 
Religion is in danger of being degraded into a matter of 
political expediency, when it is left to the magistrates to 
determine what the people are to believe : indeed we 
find Cicero, when he writes as an Academic, appealing 
more than once to expediency as the sole or the chief 
ground for religious belief; and this was also, according 
to Dion Cassius, the avowed principle of the religious 
reforms carried out by Augustus and dutifully hymned by 
the Augustan poets '. But all experience, from the time of 
Augustus to that of Napoleon, shows that the attempt to 
retain religion simply as an instrument of police can never 
succeed; without belief it is too weak to be of service; 
with belief it is too powerful; and the mere suspicion 
that it is so used deprives it of its natural force, and arms 
against it the honesty and the conscience of the nation. 

Passing out of the religious sphere we find two main 
applications of philosophy among the Romans, two 
advantages which they expected to gain from the study of 

1 See Cic. Divin. n. 70 retinetur et ad opinionem vulgi et ad 
magnas utilitates reipublicae mos, religio, disciplina t jus augurium, 
collegii auctoritas, and Dion. Cass. Lil. 36, where Maecenas recom- 
mends the maintenance of the national religion and the prohibition 
of strange rites as the best protection against political revolution or 


philosophy. The one is subordinate and superficial, the 
training in oratory to which Cicero so often refers. The 
youthful aspirant to the honours of the forum and the 
senate may learn from the philosopher how to arrange 
the topics of his speech, how to marshal his argu- 
ments, how to work on the passions of his audience, and 
to give colour and elevation to his style by the purple 
patches borrowed from the great masters of Athenian elo- 
quence and wisdom. Above all, the Academic school will 
teach him to see both sides of a question, to find argu- 
ments /r<? and con in regard to any subject which may be 
brought before him 1 . But the chief use of philosophy is 
to be the school of virtue, the guide of life, both the com- 
mon life of the State and the private life of the individual, 
and to afford the only consolations in the hour of weak- 
ness and sorrow 2 . How it was to answer this purpose, 
is shown by Cicero in his various practical treatises on 

1 Cic. De Orat. I. 53, 60, 87, Tusc. II. 9, Orator, 12, Paradox. 
pref., De Fata 3. 

2 Cicero often speaks of the benefits conferred by philosophy as 
a Christian might speak of the benefits conferred by religion : 
compare Tusc. V. 5, vitiorum peccatorumque nostrorum omnis a 
philosophia fetenda correctio est, ...O vitae philosophia dux ! O virtu- 
tis indagatrix, expultrixque vitiorum! quid non modo nos, sed 
omnino vita hcminum sine te esse pottt isset!...Ad te confugimus ; a te 
opem pelimus...Est autrm unus dies bene ex praeceptis tuts actus 
peccanti immortalitati anteponendus. See also Horace Ep. I. i. 36, 
laitdis amore tumes ? sunt certa piacula quae te terpure lecto poterunt 
recreare libello, 6rc. ; Varro ap. Cell. xv. 19, 'if you had bestowed 
on philosophy a tenth part of the pains that you have taken to get 
good bread, you would long ago have been a good man.' On the 
other hand Nepos (ap. Lact. ill. 15 10) is so far from ascribing 
such good effects to philosophy, that he says none need to be reformed 
more than the philosophers themselves. See Juv. III. 116 Stoicus 
occidit Baream, &*c. 

ECL EC TIC ISM. 2 1 7 

Duty, on Friendship, on Old age. on Law, on the State, 
as well as, no doubt, in the lost Hortensius, which 
first inflamed St Augustine with the love of heavenly 
wisdom 1 , and in the Consolatio, by the composition 
of which he vainly endeavoured to soothe the bitter 
sorrow caused by the death of his beloved Tullia. 

To turn now from the taught to the teacher, it is easy 
to understand that the change from a class of keen-witted 
but somewhat frivolous Greeks, who looked upon phi- 
losophy as an intellectual amusement, and thought of 
eloquence merely as an exhibition of skill in the use of 
the technicalities of rhetoric, by means of which to win 
the applause of the theatre or the lecture-room, to the 
proud and serious Roman, who sought for eloquence as a 
mighty engine by which to mould the destinies of Rome 
and of the nations which she held in subjection, and 
listened eagerly to the words of the professor in the ex- 
pectation of hearing something which would make him a 
wiser and a better man, show him what his duty was and 
give him strength to do it, it is easy to see that this could 
not but react upon the teacher himself, and, if it did not 
iwaken a corresponding earnestness in his own mind, yet 
would at least make it clear to him that speculative subtle- 
ties and controversial minutiae* would be thrown away, 

1 Confess. III. 4, ille liber mntavit affectum meiim, et ad te ipsum, 
Doniine, mutavit preces meas. Viluit repcnte mihi omnis vana spes, 
et immortalitatem sapientiae concupiscebam aestu cordis incredibili; 
et surgere cxperam ut ad te redirem. 

2 Compare the amusing story told of the proconsul Gellius 
(Cic. Leg. 1.53). On his arrival in Athens he called together the philo- 
sophers and urged them at last to put an end to their disputes, 
offering his assistance as umpire, if they were unable to settle 
matters peaceably without him. 


and that the plainer his teaching was, and the less he 
deviated from common sense and common morality, the 
more likely he was to recommend himself to the pupils, 
from whom he had most to gain in the shape of honours 
and emoluments. 

We have seen that the Stoic Panaetius was the first 
teacher who obtained any influence over the Romans : 
can we find in him any trace of the re-action of which we 
have spoken? If the Romans had made their acquaint- 
ance with Stoicism through Cleanthes, who was so 
genuinely Roman in character, they might have been 
satisfied to accept his doctrine in its integrity; but since 
then the system had undergone the manipulation of that 
subtle doctor of the Schools, the learned and ingenious 
Chrysippus, inventor of those thorny syllogisms of which 
Cicero so often complains. Comparing him with Panaetius. 
we find the latter softening down the severity of the Stoics 
in many particulars. Thus he adopted a more easy and 
natural style of writing, and spoke with warm admiration 
of philosophers belonging to other schools, especially of 
Plato, whom he called the Homer of philosophers'. He 
abandoned the Stoic belief in a cyclical conflagration, for 
the Aristotelian doctrine of the eternity of the world, 
and mitigated the austerity of the old view on the d8ia- 
<f)opa and the necessity of d-a-dOeta. In his treatise on 
Duty, which formed the model of Cicero's De officiis , 

1 Cic. Tusf. I. 79, cf. Fin. IV. 79 (Stoicorum) tristitiam atque 
asperitatem fugiens Panaetius nee acerbitatem senttntiarum nee 
disserendi spinas probavit, fuitque in altero genere mitior, in alttro 
illustrior i semper que habuit in ore Platonem, Aristotelem, Xenocratem, 
Theophrastum, Dicaearchum, uf ipsius scripta declarant ; also Off. 
II. 35 and Acad. II. 135. 


he addressed himself not to the wise, but to those who 
were seeking wisdom; and spoke not of perfect duties 
(xaTopOw/jLaTa) but of the officia media (KaO-ijKovTa) which 
ordinary people need not despair of fulfilling. Lastly in 
respect to Divination he forsook the tradition of his 
school, which had always been disposed to regard this as 
an important evidence of divine agency, and followed 
the sceptical line of the Academy. 

The eclectic character imprinted on the Porch by 
Panaetius was never obliterated, but rather became more 
marked in later writers such as Seneca and Marcus 
Aurelius. Our limits however do not permit us to speak 
of more than his immediate pupil Posidonius the Syrian, 
a man of great and varied learning, much esteemed by 
the Romans, many of whom attended his lectures at 
Rhodes. Among the number were Pompeius and Cicero, 
who calls him the greatest of the Stoics 1 . In regard to 
divination and the eternity of the world Posidonius went 
back to the old Stoic view, but in his unsectarian tone 
he is a faithful follower of Panaetius. He endeavoured 
to show that the opposition between the different 
systems of philosophy, far from justifying the sceptical 
conclusion, was not inconsistent with a real harmony 
upon the most important points. In regard to psycho- 
logy his views were more in accordance with Plato and 
Aristotle than with Chrysippus. Finding it impossible 
to explain the passions as morbid conditions of the 
reason, he fell back on the old division into the rational 
and irrational parts of the soul, and was followed in this 
by the later Stoics. 

1 Hortens. Frag. 36 (Orelli) ; so Seneca Ep. XC. 10 Posidonius, ut 
meafert opinio, ex his qui plurimum philosophies contulerunt. 


Among the Roman contemporaries of Cicero we need 
only mention Cato, as typical both of the weakness and 
the strength of the school, which in after years beheld in 
him the truest pattern of the sage, standing on the same 
level with Hercules or Ulysses 1 . Yet for him, as for all 
these later Stoics, it was Plato rather than Zeno, or at any 
rate not less than Zeno, who was the deus philosophorum, 
the fountain of inspiration to the Porch as much as to 
the Academy, of which we have next to speak 8 . 

Philo of Larissa, the disciple and successor of Clito- 
machus, took refuge in Rome during the Mithridatic war 
(B.C. 88) and lectured there with great applause. While 
maintaining the position of Carneades against the Stoics, 
he declared that it was a mistake to suppose that the 
Academy denied the possibility of arriving at truth. 
Concealed underneath their negative polemic, the teach- 
ing of Plato had always survived as an esoteric doctrine ; 
there was no ground therefore for the distinction between 
the New and Old Academy ; they were really the same, 
though the exigencies of controversy had for a while 
tended to obscure the positive side of their teaching, and 
thus led to a change of name. It was true, as against 
the Stoics, that irresistible evidence could not be derived 
from sensible perception, but the soul itself contains 
clear ideas on which we may safely act 8 . 

The most important representative of Eclecticism is 
Antiochus of Ascalon, who studied under Mnesarchus, a 
scholar of Panaetius, as well as under Philo, whom he 

1 Seneca De Const, n. i. 
1 Cic. N. D. II. 32, Ad Alt. iv. 16. 

3 This account of Philo is taken from Zeller ill. i, pp. 
S88596 3 . 


succeeded as head of the Academy. Cicero who attended 
his lectures at Athens 79 B.C. calls him the most polished 
and acute of the philosophers of his time, and professes 
that he had ever loved him 1 . Antiochus was not satisfied 
with reverting to Plato, as Philo had done ; he declared 
that the so-called New Academy of Arcesilaus and Carnea- 
des had not simply allowed the Platonic doctrines to 
fall into the background, but had altogether departed 
from them ; and the object which he set before himself 
was to show that scepticism was self-contradictory 
and impossible. If it is impossible to know what is true, 
it must be impossible to know what is like the truth : 
thus the natural instinct of curiosity is stultified, and 
action becomes irrational. How can the Sceptics them- 
selves learn the certainty of their first principle nil percipil 
how assert the falsehood of this or that proposition, 
while they maintain that it is impossible to distinguish 
between truth and falsehood ? how pretend to arrive at 
truth by argument, while they deny the principle on 
which all argument is based? Like Posidonius, Antio- 
chus affirmed the real agreement of the orthodox schools: 
the difference between Plato, Aristotle and Zeno was in 
the main a difference in the mode of expressing a common 
truth. Thus in regard to the theory of knowledge, all 
hold that sensation is the first element in knowledge, but 
that it is only by the exercise of reason that it is changed 
into knowledge. So in Physics, all are agreed that there 
are two natures, active and passive, force and matter, 
which are always found in combination*. Not to dwell 
on the vague and confused statements ascribed by 
Cicero to Antiochus under this head, I pass on to his 
ethical doctrines. Starting with the Stoic prima naturae, 

1 Acad. II. 113. * Acad. I. 23. 


but enlarging their scope so as to take in not only all that 
belongs to self-preservation, but the rudiments of virtue 
and knowledge also, and defining the Summum Bonum as a 
life in accordance with the perfect nature of man, Antiochus 
includes under this, not only the perfection of reason, but 
all bodily and external good. Virtue in itself suffices for 
happiness, as the Stoics said, but not for the highest happi- 
ness : here we must borrow a little from the Peripatetics ; 
though they err in allowing too much weight to external 
good, as the Stoics err in the opposite direction. The Stoics 
are right in their high estimate of the Sage as being alone 
free and rich and beautiful, all others being slaves and 
fools : they are right in esteeming apathy, the absolute 
suppression of emotion, as essential to virtue; but they 
have gone wrong in affirming the equality of sins. 

It is difficult to form any clear systematic conception 
of Antiochus' teaching from the existing evidence ; if it 
was really as loose and inconsistent as it would seem from 
Zeller's account, it only adds greater significance to the 
fact that from that time forward the Academy entirely 
loses its old sceptical character. The spirit of the age 
must evidently have been working strongly in favour of 
eclecticism, when Antiochus became the most influential 
of teachers, and the Fifth Academy could count among 
its members such names as those of Varro and Brutus 
and to a certain extent even Cicero himself. We shall 
be able to understand this better, if we realize to our- 
selves the position of the small band of philosophical 
enthusiasts in Rome. They were conscious that their 
own lives had gained in largeness of view, in dignity and in 
strength, from the study of philosophy ; but all around 
them were the rude mass, the hircosa gens centurionum 
with their quod sapio satis est mihi, jeering at the endless 


disputes of the schools ; and thus the natural instinct 
of self-preservation impelled them to strengthen them- 
selves by the re-union of philosophy, just as in our own 
days the same motive may be seen in aspirations after 
the re-union of Christendom. 

Before speaking in detail of the Romans, we must 
say a word as to the signs of eclecticism in the two 
remaining schools. It has been mentioned that the 
activity of the later Peripatetics was mainly of the com- 
mentatorial kind, but, in the spurious treatise De Mundo, 
which is included in the works of Aristotle, but was 
probably written in the middle of the ist century B.C., we 
find a decided admixture of Stoic elements, especially 
where it treats of the action of the Deity on the world. 
Again, even among the Epicureans, in spite of their 
hostility to the other schools and their own proverbial 
conservatism, we have already noticed a departure from 
the teaching of their founder, in the writings of Philodemus 
and others, ist as regards the greater importance attri- 
buted to art and science and literature 1 , 2ndly in the recog- 
nition, to a greater or less extent, of a Divine government 
of the world 8 , 3rdly in the abandonment of the old cynical 
repudiation of higher motives. Cicero tells us that this 
was especially the case in regard to the relation between 
bodily and mental pleasure, and to the selfish theory of 
friendship 3 . 

1 See above, p. 184, n. 3. * See above, p. 199, n. i. 

3 Cic. fin. i. 55 'there are many Epicureans who think erro- 
neously that mental pleasure need not be dependent on bodily 
pleasure ; ' 69 ' there are some weak brethren among the Epicu- 
reans who are ashamed to confess that our own pleasure is the sole 
ground of friendship ; ' compare Hirzel /. c. p. 168 foil, and my note 
on N. D. i. in. 

224 CICERO. 

The four last mentioned schools, i.e. the Academy, 
the Lyceum, the Porch and the Garden were, and had 
long been, the only recognized schools at the time when 
Cicero was growing up to manhood. Cicero was personally 
acquainted with the most distinguished living representa- 
tives of each. In his igth year, B. c. 88, he had studied 
under Phaedrus the Epicurean and Philo the Academic 
at Rome; in his 28th year, B.C. 79, he attended the 
lectures of the Epicureans Phaedrus and Zeno, as well as 
of Antiochus, the eclectic Academic, at Athens, and in 
the following year those of Posidonius, the eclectic Stoic, 
at Rhodes. Diodotus the Stoic was for many years the 
honoured inmate of his house. He had also a high 
esteem for the Peripatetic Cratippus, whom he selected 
as the tutor for his son at, what we may call, the Uni- 
versity of Athens. Nor did he only attend lectures : 
his letters show that he was a great reader of philo- 
sophical books, and he left behind him translations or 
adaptations of various dialogues and treatises of Plato, 
Aristotle, Theophrastus, Grantor, Carneades, Panaetius, 
Antiochus, Posidonius and others 1 . In a word he was 

1 He translated the Oeconomicus of Xenophon and the Pro- 
tagoras and Timaeus of Plato, whom he also imitates in the Leges 
and Rcspublica. The last is in part borrowed from Aristotle's 
Politics. Other treatises in which he follows Aristotle are the 
Hortensius, probably written on the model of Aristotle's vporpeir- 
Tt/c6j, and the Topica, professedly a reminiscence of Aristotle's 
treatise bearing the same name. The Laelius is said to be founded 
on the irepl <f>i\ias of Theophrastus ; the Consolatio was mainly taken 
from Grantor's irepl trtvOovs; but the materials for the great majority 
of his books are derived from Panaetius, Posidonius, Clitomachus 
and Antiochus, when he is treating of the orthodox schools, and 
probably from Zeno, Phaedrus or Philodemus, where he gives the 
Epicurean doctrines. 

CICERO. 225 

confessed to be by far the most accomplished of the 
philosophical amateurs of his time. 

As to the nature of his own views, we shall be better 
able to form a judgment, if we look first at the man and 
his position. Cicero was much more ol a modern Italian 
than of an ancient Roman. A novus homo, sprung from 
the Volscian municipium of Arpinum, he had none of that 
proud, self-centred hardness and toughness of character 
which marked the Senator of Rome. Nature had gifted 
him with the sensitive, idealistic temperament of the artist 
and the orator, and this had been trained to its highest 
pitch by the excellent education he had received. If he 
had been less open to ideas, less many-sided, less sympa- 
thetic, less conscientious, in a word, if he had been less 
human, he would have been a worse man, he would have 
exercised a less potent influence on the future of Western 
civilization, but he would have been a stronger and more 
consistent politician, more respected no doubt by the 
blood-and-iron school of his own day, as of ours. While 
his imagination pictured to him the glories of old Rome, 
and inflamed him with the ambition of himself acting 
a Roman part, as in the matter of Catiline, and in his 
judgment of Caesar, and while therefore he on the 
whole espoused the cause of the Senate, as representing 
the historic greatness of Rome, yet he is never fully 
convinced in his own mind, never satisfied either with 
himself or with the party or the persons with whom he 
is most closely allied. 

And this indecisio-i of his political views is reflected 
in his philosophy. Epicureanism indeed he condemns, 
as heartily as he condemns Clodius or Antony : its 
want of idealism, its prosaic regard for matter of fact, 

M. P. 15 

226 CICERO. 

or rather its exclusive regard for the lower fact to the 
neglect of the higher, its aversion to public life, above 
all, perhaps, its contempt for literature, as such, were 
odious in his eyes. But neither is its rival quite to 
his taste. While attracted by the lofty tone of its 
moral and religious teaching, he is repelled by its dog- 
matism, its extravagance and its technicalities. Of the 
two remaining schools, the Peripatetic had forgotten the 
more distinctive portion of the teaching of its founder, 
until his writings were re-edited by Andronicus of Rhodes 
(who strangely enough is never mentioned by Cicero, 
though he must have been lecturing about the time 
of his consulship), and it had dwindled accordingly 
into a colourless doctrine of common sense, of which 
Cicero speaks with respect, indeed, but without enthu- 
siasm. The Academy on the other hand was endeared 
to him as being lineally descended from Plato, for whose 
sublime idealism and consummate beauty of style he 
cherished an admiration little short of idolatry, and also 
as being the least dogmatic of systems, and the most 
helpful to the orator from the importance it attached to 
the use of negative dialectic. 

In the Academica Cicero declares himself to be an 
adherent of the New Academy, as opposed to the reformed 
'Old Academy' of Antiochus; but though he makes use 
of the ordinary sceptical arguments, he is scarcely more 
serious in his profession of agnosticism, than his professed 
pattern, the Platonic Socrates, is in his irony. All that 
he is anxious for is to defend himself from being tied 
down too definitely to any one system, and to protest 
against the overbearing dogmatism of the Stoics, or 
of such Old Academics as the strong-willed Brutus. He 



is fond of boasting of the freedom of his school, which 
permits him to advocate whatever doctrine takes his 
fancy at the time ; and, like Dr Johnson, he refuses to 
be bound by any reference to previous inconsistent 
utterances 1 . He even tries to make out that the scep- 
tical arguments of Carneades were only meant to rouse 
men from the slumber of thoughtless acquiescence, and 
to lead them to judge of the truth of doctrines by reason 
and not by authority 3 . Even in the Academica, the 
scepticism which he professes is hardly more than verbal. 
Let Antiochus consent to use the teimprobare instead of 
perdpere or assenfiri, let him adopt the courteous 'per- 
haps' (o-^eSov or icrw?) of Aristotle, and there seems no 
reason why the discussion should continue any longer 8 . 
Cicero has himself no real doubt as to the trustworthi- 
ness of the evidence of the bodily senses ; and, beyond 
this sensible evidence, he recognizes a higher source of 
knowledge in the mind itself. Accepting, as he does, 
the Platonic and Stoic doctrine of the divine origin of the 
soul, he believes that it has in itself the seeds of virtue 
and knowledge, which would grow up to maturity of 
themselves, if it were not for the corrupting influences of 
society. We may see the unsophisticated working of 
nature in children ; we may hear the voice of nature in the 
general consent of mankind, in the judgment of the wise 
and good, and above all in the teaching of old tradition 
handed down from our ancestors 4 . It is this natural 

1 Tusc. v. 33, Off. in. 20, N. D. I. 47. 
* N. D. i. 4, 10. 
8 Acad. II. 99, in, Fin. v. 76. 

4 Tusc. III. i sunt eniin ingeniis nostris semina innata virlutum ; 
quae si adolesccre lie fret, ipsa nosad beatam vitam natura perdiueret; 


228 CICERO. 

revelation (naturae lumen) which shows us the excellency 
of virtue, the dignity and freedom of man, and the 
existence of a Divine Being 1 . 

But though nature gives us light, so far as is needed 
for action and for life, it does not satisfy our curiosity on 
speculative matters : it does not tell us, for instance, 
what is the form or the abode of the Deity, or whether 
the soul is material or immaterial*. Cicero however 
believes, in common with all but the Epicureans, that God 
is eternal, all-wise, all-powerful and all-good ; he believes 
with Plato and the Stoics that the world was formed and 
is providentially governed by Him for the good of man ; 
he believes, in accordance with Plato but in opposition 
to the Stoics, that God is pure Spirit 3 ; and he thinks that 

Fin. V. 59 (natura komini) dedit talent mentem quaeomnein-virtutctii 
accipere posset, ingenuitque sine doctrina notilias parvas rerum 
maximarum et quasi institute docere et induxit in ea quae inerant 
tanquam elementa 7sirtutis ; ib. V. 61 indicant ptieri, in quibus, ut in 
speculis, natura cernitur ; Leg. I. 24 animum esse ingeneratum 
a deo...ex quo efficitur illud, ut is agnoscat deum, qui unde ortus sit 
quasi recordetur ac noscat ; Tusc. I. 35 omnium consensus naturaevox 
est; ib. I. 65, 70, V. 70, Consol. fr. 6, De Fato 23 foil. , Tusc. IV. 65, 79. 

1 Tusc. I. 27, 30, 66, Rep. vi. 13, Leg. I. 59 qui se ipse norit, 
primum aliquid se habere sentiet divinum, ingtniumque in se suum 
sicut simulacrum aliquod dicatum putabit, tantoque munere deorum 
semper dignum aliquid et /octet et sentiet ei intdliget quern admodum 
a natura subornalus in vitam venerit, quantaque instrumenta habeat 
ad obtinendam adipiscendamque sapicntiam, quoniam principle rerutn 
omnium quasi adumbratas intellegentias animo ac mente coneeperit, 
quibus illustratis sapientia duce bonum viruin et ob earn ipsam 
causam cernat se beatumfore. 

8 Tusc. I. 70, N. D. I. 60. 

3 Tusc. I. 66 nee vero dezis ipse qui intellegitur a nobis alio modo 
intellegi potest, nisi mens soluta quaedam et libera, segregata ab onmi 
concretione mortali, omnia sentiem et movetts ipsaque praedita motu 

CICERO. 229 

the same is true also of the soul, which is an emanation 
from Him and which, 'as we have been taught by 
our ancestors, and as Plato and Xenophon have shown 
by many excellent arguments,' is destined to enjoy 
a blissful immortality in the case of the wise and good '. 
Perhaps that which has most weight with Cicero is 
the practical consideration, 'if we give up our faith in an 
over-ruling Providence, we cannot hope to retain any 
genuine piety or religion ; and if these go, justice and 
faith and all that binds together human society, must go 
too 8 .' He is also fully convinced that reverence is due 
to what is old and long established, and that it is the 
duty of a good citizen to conform to the established 
church, to accept the tenets of the national religion and 
observe its customs, except so far as they might be incon- 
sistent with the plain rules of morality, or so flagrantly 
opposed to reason as to come under the head of supersti- 
tion. Thus, while he is himself a disbeliever in divina- 
tion, and argues convincingly against it in his book on the 
subject, yet, as a statesman, he approves the punishment 
of certain consuls who had disregarded the auspices. 
'They ought,' he says, 'to have submitted to the rule of 
the established religion.' 8 He cannot approve of the in- 

sempittrno ; Rep. VI. 16 foil. Yet he does not altogether deny the 
possibility of the Stoic view, that God is of a tiery or ethereal 
nature, Tusc. I. 65. 

1 Tusc, I. 70, Lael. 13, Goto 77 foil. 

1 See N. D. I. 4 with the passages cited in my note, II. 153, Leg. 
II. 16. 

3 Divin. II. 71 parendum fuit religioni, nee patrius mos tarn 
contumaciter repudiandus, and just before, retim-tur et ad opinionem 
vulgi et ad magnas utilitates reipublicae mos, religio, disciplina, jus, 
augurium, collegii auctoritas. 

230 CICERO. 

genious defence of divination by the Stoics, any more 
than he does of their elastic allegorical method, which 
might be stretched to cover the worst absurdities of 
mythology. Religion is to be upheld, in so far as it is in 
accordance with the teaching of nature ; but superstition 
is to be torn up by the root Unfortunately Cicero gives 
no precise definition of the latter opprobrious word, nor 
"does he distinctly say how the existing religion is to 
be cleared of its superstitious elements. 

In regard to ethics Cicero openly disclaims the nega- 
tive view of Carneades 1 , and only wavers between a more 
or less thorough acceptance of the Stoic doctrine. In 
general, it may be said that he has a higher admiration 
for the Stoic system of ethics and theology than he has 
for any other. Thus he calls it the most generous and 
masculine of systems, and is even inclined to deny 
the name of philosopher to all but the Stoics*. He 
defends their famous paradoxes as being absolutely true 
and genuinely Socratic 3 , and finds fault with Antiochus 
and the Peripatetics for hesitating to admit that the wise 
man will retain his happiness in the bull of Phalaris*. 
Similarly he blames the latter for justifying a moderate 
indulgence of the various emotions instead of eradicating 

1 Leg. I. 39 perturbatrieem harum omnium rerum Academiant, 
hanc ab Arccsila et Carnecuit recent em exoremus, ut sileat ; nam si 
invaserit in haec quae satis safe nobis instructa et composita videntur, 
nimias edet ruinas. 

8 Tusc. III. 12, IV. 53. 

8 Paradoxa 4 mihi ista irapaSo^a maxime videntur esse 
Socratica longcqtie verissfma, Acad. II. 135. Arguing as a Peri- 
patetic in the De Finibus IV. 74, Cicero takes the opposite side. 

* Tusc. V. 75. 

CICERO. 231 

them altogether 1 . At the same time he confesses that 
Stoicism is hardly adapted for this work-a-day world ; it 
would be more in place in Plato's Utopia 2 ; when it is 
attempted to apply it to practice, common sense speedily 
reduces it to something not very different from the 
Academy or the Lyceum. Indeed we often find Cicero 
arguing that the difference is merely nominal, and that 
Zeno changed the terms, but not the doctrines of the 
original Socratic school of which these were offshoots 8 . 

I proceed to give a very brief survey of Cicero's philo- 
sophical works, all composed, with the exception of the 
De Oratore, the De Republica and De Legibus, within the 
last two years of his life. His object in writing them was 
to give his countrymen a general view of Greek philo- 
sophy, particularly of its practical side ; and he claimed 
that in doing this he was labouring for the good of 
his country no less than, when he had been most active 
as a speaker in the Senate-House and the Forum 4 . 

1 Tusc. iv. 38, mollis etenervata putanda est Peripateticorum ratio 
et oratio, qui perturbari animos necesse dicunt use, sed adhibent 
modum quendam, quern ultra progredi non oporteat. Modum tu adhibes 
r'itio? and 42 nihil interest utrum mo/feratas per turbalioms 
approbent an moderatam injustitiam &>c ; compare ill. 22 and Off. 
I. 89. On the other hand in the Acudemica II. 135, where Cicero 
represents the New Academy, he defends, though in a somewhat 
perfunctory way, the moderate use of the emotions. 

8 Fin. iv. 21, Tusc. V. 3, ad Att. II. r. 

3 Fin. v. 22, restant Stoici , qui cum a Peripateticis et Academicis 
omnia transtulissent, nominibits aliis easdem res secuti sunt, Leg. I. 

54, 55- 

4 A^. D. I. 7 foil, with my notes, Divin. II. r, quaerenti mihi nntl- 
tutntjne et diu cogitanti quanam re possem prodesse quam plutimis, 
ne quando i ntermitterem consulere rei publuae, nulla major occur re- 
bat quam si optimarum artium vias traderem tneis civibus. 

232 CICERO. 

The earliest of this later group was the Hortensius y 
written in 46 B.C., but now lost. This was followed by 
several oratorical treatises. The De Consolatione, also 
lost, was written on the death of his daughter in 45. 
Then came the Academica, of which only a portion has 
come down to us. In this, as has been already mentioned, 
Cicero defends the doctrine of Probability, as enunciated 
by Philo, which may be regarded as a softened form of the 
scepticism of Carneades, against the 'Certitude' of Anti- 
ochus, the champion of the Eclectics. The Academica 
would be reckoned with the Topica and the rhetorical 
treatises, as coming under the head of Logic 1 . Under the 
head of Ethics we have (i) the De Finibus*, a treatise on 
the Summum Bonum. In the ist book the Epicurean 
doctrine is expounded by Torquatus ; in the 2nd it is 
controverted with Stoic arguments by Cicero ; the 3rd 
book contains an account of the Stoic doctrine by Cato, 
to whom Cicero replies with an argument taken from 
Antiochus in the 4th book, in which he endeavours to 
show, first, that all that is of value in Zeno's teaching is 
really Socratic, being derived from his master Polemo, and 
secondly, that the innovations of Zeno, where they are not 
confined to the use of an unnatural and paradoxical 
terminology, involve a contradiction between the prima 
naturae with which he starts, and his final conclusion 
that virtue is the only good; in the 5th book the 
doctrine of Antiochus himself it will be remembered 
that this is an amalgam of the three anti-Epicurean 
systems is expounded by the Peripatetic Piso. 

1 Divin. II. 4, Acad. I. 32. 

a On the plural, see Madvig's ed. Praef. p. Ixi n. It is uncer- 
tain who introduced the idea of a Summum Malum to correspond 
with the Summum Bonum. 

CICERO. 233 

After dealing with the theory of morals in the De 
Finibus, Cicero goes on to treat of practical morality in 
the De Officiis (2) addressed to his son, then studying 
under Cratippus at Athens. In a work intended for 
direct instruction, Cicero abandons the form of dialogue, 
which he was accustomed to employ in order to exhibit 
the views of others without necessarily indicating his 
own; and lays down in plain terms the principles and 
rules which he held to be of most importance for the 
guidance of conduct It is therefore significant that 
here, where he is speaking in his own person and not 
acting a character in a dialogue, he shows himself most 
distinctively Stoic in doctrine ', though he still only claims 
to be giving utterance to probabilities not to certainties*. 
The treatise is further of special interest as being the 
earliest we possess on Duty, and on that conflict 
between different kinds of Duty or between Duty and 
Expediency, which forms the subject of Casuistry. In 
the ist book Cicero treats of the honestum (TO Ka\6v) 
subdividing it into the four cardinal virtues, and gives 
directions for action in cases where one duty seems to 
conflict with another. In the and he does the same for 
the utile (TO <o^eAt/tov). Up to this point he had been 
able to make use of the Trcpl Kaflr/Koi/Tos of Panaetius as 
his guide ; but in the 3rd book he broaches a question to 
which Panaetius had given no answer, viz. how we are 
to act, when the honestum conflicts with the utile. For 
this he finds his authorities in Posidonius and Hecato, 
and shows, with abundant illustrations from Roman 
history, that there can be no real expediency apart from 

1 See Holden's Introduction pp. xxxiv folL * Off. n. 7. 

234 CICERO. 

In the Tusculanae Disputationes (3) Cicero discusses 
at length particular questions of practical philosophy. 
Though the form of dialogue is preserved, there is no 
pretence of real disputation; Cicero simply gives his 
opinion on the points on which it is solicited by the 
anonymous questioner, and shows why he has adopted it 
in preference to others. Here too he is distinctly Stoic, 
except on the single question of Immortality, where he 
prefers to share the error of Plato, if it be an error, 
rather than assent to the depressing doctrines of the 
other schools. The general subject is to prove that man 
has in his own power all that is necessary for happiness, 
and to teach us how to guard against the usual causes 
of unhappiness. Thus in the ist book we are armed 
against the fear of death, in the 2nd against pain, in the 
3rd against sorrow, in the 4th against all other passions, 
while the 5th shows the sufficiency of virtue in itself for 
happiness, independently of all that is circumstantial and 

In addition to these larger works we possess the 
following ethical tracts by Cicero, the Cato Major or De 
Seiiedute (4), showing how to spend old age happily ; 
a good deal of this is borrowed from Plato and Xenophon ; 
the Laelius or De Amicitia (5), on the benefits and duties 
of friendship, chiefly taken from the treatise by Theo- 
phrastus on the same subject, but with additions from 
Plato and Xenophon ; there is nothing sectarian in the 
tone of either of these. The Paradoxa (6) is a defence 
of the Stoic paradoxes, vi, 7 . that the honestum is the only 
good, that virtue is sufficient for happiness, that good 
and evil admit of no degrees, that every fool is mad, that 
the wise man alone is free, that the wise man alone 

CICERO. 235 

is rich. In his dedication Cicero tells Brutus that he has 
composed this for his amusement, but there is no reason 
for speaking of it as a merejeu (T esprit 1 . He writes in a 
tone of conviction, and most of the propositions which 
he maintains here, if attacked, are also defended, by him 
in other passages. 

Under the same head of Ethics we should arrange 
the political treatises, De Repul lica (7) and De Lrgibus 
(8). The former, of which about one third is still extant, 
was composed in six books, on the best form of govern- 
ment and the grounds of national prosperity. The 
writers chiefly followed are Plato, Aristotle, Theophrastus 
and Polybius; but, both in this and in the treatise 
on Law, Cicero is more independent than he is in dis- 
cussing questions of a more strictly philosophic character. 
The book ends, like the Republic of Plato, with an 
account of the rewards awaiting the righteous in a future 
life: it is noticeable however that, in the 'Dream of 
Scipio,' the highest rewards are reserved for the patriotic 
statesman, and that no mention is made of the punish- 
ments of the guilty, which fill so large a space in the 
story of Er. 

In imitation of Plato, Cicero followed up his treatise 
on the State by one on the Laws. There seems good 
reason for believing that the De Legibus was never 
completed. We only possess three books, but Macrobius 
quotes from a fifth book, and the latest editor conjectures 
that eight books were contemplated by t e author*. The 
work is in the form of a monologue by Cicero, inter- 

1 As is done by the writer of the article on Cicero in Smith's 
Dictionary of Biography. 

8 See editions by Du Meslin pp. 5, 6, and Bake pp. xv folL 

236 CICERO. 

spersed with a few remarks from his brother Quintus and 
Atticus. The ist book, on the origin and nature of 
Justice and Law, is taken from Stoic sources ; the 2nd, 
on the laws relating to Religion, and the 3rd, on the 
powers and duties of Magistrates, though modelled after 
Plato's No'/ioi, as far as their form goes, derive their con- 
tents mainly from the institutions of Rome, as idealized 
by Cicero. Besides Plato and the Stoics, Cicero men- 
tions particularly Theophrastus and other Peripatetics, as 
authorities on the subject of which he treats. He dis- 
tinctly abjures the New Academy of Arcesilaus and 
Carneades, and upholds the Antiochian view of the 
fundamental agreement of the Socratic, i.e. of the anti- 
Epicurean schools. 

The third great division of philosophy is Physics. 
Under this head would come the De Natura Deorum (i) 
De Divinations (2) and the fragmentary De Fato (3) and 
Ttmaeus (4). The first is composed much on the same 
principle as the De Finibus. It begins with an exposition 
of the Epicurean view, which is then controverted with 
Stoic arguments by Cotta representing the New Aca- 
demy. In the 2nd book Balbus expounds the Stoic 
view, which again is severely criticized in the 3rd and 
final book by Cotta, who thus seems to remain in 
possession of the field 1 . And as Cicero, in the introduc- 
tory chapters, avows himself a disciple of the Agnostic 
school of Arcesilaus and Carneades*, we might be tempted 

1 On the question whether the Epicurean argument is taken from 
Zeno or Philodemus or Phaedrus, see my edition pp. xlii to liv. 
The opposite argument is in all probability taken from Posidonius, 
who is also the authority used in the 2nd book. The 3rd book is 
taken from Clitomachus. 

2 N. D. i. ii and 17. 

CICERO. 237 

to say that the conclusion arrived at must represent his 
own view. That this however was not the case is 
apparent from the assertion repeated in two passages, 
that, for his own part, he regarded the view of Balbus as 
more probable than that of Cotta 1 . Nor does there 
seem any reason to suppose that this is said merely as a 
salve to popular prejudice. He had begun the discussion 
by laying down that the existence of a Divine Being was 
highly probable, and that we were by nature drawn to 
believe in it ; that the denial of a superintending Provi- 
dence must lead to the overthrow of all that binds 
together society ; and that the object of Carneades was, 
not to make men unbelievers, but to stimulate thought by 
stating the arguments on both sides with clearness and 
fairness, and then leaving his hearers to make up their 
minds for themselves*. 

In the De Divinatione Quintus Cicero gives the Stoic 
argument, probably taken from Posidonius, for the truth 
of Divination in the first book ; Marcus replies with 
unusual earnestness in the 2nd book, proving after 
Clitomachus and Panaetius that all Divination is decep- 
tive and superstitious. Of the De Fato and Tintaeus only 
fragments are extant. In the former Ciceio reproduces 
for the benefit of his pupil Hirtius, the consul elect, the 
subtle arguments by which Carneades endeavoured to 
disprove the Stoic doctrine of Necessity. The latter is 
a paraphrase of a portion of the Timaeus of Plato, 
intended apparently to have been inserted in a dialogue 
on the origin of the Universe, in which Nigidius the 
Pythagorean would have appeared as one of the interlocu- 

1 N. D. in. 95, Divin. I. 8. 

* A'. D. I. a, 3, 4, 13, Divin. \. 8. 

238 CICERO. 

tors. Probably the design was cut short by the author's 
death 1 . 

Having thus briefly analysed the philosophical writings 
of Cicero, it remains for us to endeavour to form some 
estimate of their value to readers of the present day. 
There can be no doubt that on their first appearance 
they supplied to the Romans all that Cicero had pro- 
mised, a philosophical vocabulary of their own, together 
with an agreeable introduction to the study of Greek 
philosophy. But it is a different question how far they 
are of value to those who can read for themselves the 
actual works of the greatest of the Greeks. We may 
consider this question from two points of view, according 
as we regard Cicero as being himself a philosopher or as 
merely supplying materials to the historian of philosophy. 
It is in the latter point of view undoubtedly that he is of 
most importance to us now. Yet, if we divide Greek phi- 
losophy into three periods, that of its youth, its maturity, 
its old age, it cannot be said that we gain much from Cicero 
for the knowledge of the two earlier periods. He had pro- 
bably not read for himself a single treatise by any pre- 
Socratic philosopher*, and the occasional second-hand 
references to them, which occur in his works, convey very 
little information beyond what is known from other 
sources 8 . Sometimes also they are full of mistakes; as we 

1 See K. F. Hermann De Interpretation Timaei. Gb'ttingen 

8 Perhaps an exception should be made in the case of Democritus 
whom he repeatedly praises for his style, see De Oratore I. 49 
Orator 67, Divin. II. 133. 

8 That the references are second-hand is shown in a crucial 
instance by a comparison between the irepl eu<re/3eiaj of Philodemus 
and the Epicurean sketch of early philosophers contained in the first 
book of the De Natura Deorum. See my notes on 25 41. 

CICERO. 239 

find to be the case in the Epicurean sketch of the early phi- 
losophers contained in the ist book of De Natura Deorum. 
No doubt it may be said that Cicero was not bound to 
correct all the errors of his Epicurean authority, that he 
might in fact have intentionally introduced them as 
characteristic of the school ; but in any case he was 
hardly justified in adding to them, as he has done ; and 
if he had had any familiar knowledge ot the philosophers 
mentioned, it seems scarcely likely that he would have 
lost the opportunity of pointing out these errors in the 
speech of Cotta which follows '. 

He had considerably more acquaintance with the 
writers of the 2nd period. He had translated portions 
of Plato and Xenophon and had probably read the 
greater part of their works. But when we talk of 
'reading,' we must remember who and what the 
reader was. He was an extremely busy man, a 
leading statesman, the most popular of orators, a con- 
noisseur and virtuoso, fond of society and evidently 
much sought after for his social qualities, and besides all 
this he was an unwearied correspondent Under these 
circumstances it was plainly impossible for him to devote 
to Plato and Aristotle that patient and continuous study 
which alone could have enabled him thoroughly to un- 
derstand their teaching. Even if he had had leisure for 
this, it may be questioned whether there is not something 
in the temperament of the orator which is inconsistent 
with a profound study of philosophy. The aim of the 
philosopher is an ever closer approach to perfect truth; 
the aim of the orator is to persuade the multitude to 
adopt a ce.tain course of action. While the philosopher 
1 See my edition with the notes on 25 39. 

240 CICERO. 

is always on the watch for difficulties or exceptions, which 
may lead to an extension or modification of his theory; 
the orator prefers to select topics which admit of broad 
and simple statements and are calculated to excite 
emotion both in himself and his audience. So with 
Cicero : perhaps no man was ever more sensitive to the 
loftiness and beauty of Plato's idealism ; but he had 
neither leisure nor taste for a prolonged piece of close 
technical argumentation, such as we find in the Par- 
menides or in Aristotle's metaphysical works. Nor 
again did he ever take the pains to trace out the inner 
connexion of a philosophical system, so as to see its 
several parts combined into a consistent whole. In 
spite therefore of his delight in Plato, he has not, as far 
as I am aware, contributed anything to our present 
understanding of Plato, very little even to our knowledge 
of Plato's surroundings, which we should not have learnt 
from other sources. On the contrary any reader who 
derived his notion of Plato's, and still more of Aristotle's 
system, exclusively from Cicero, would undoubtedly form 
a very erroneous notion of what Plato and Aristotle really 
were. Notwithstanding his protest against the theoretical 
positiveness of Antiochus, Cicero seems to have had no 
scruple in accepting his utterly uncritical view of the 
previous history of philosophy. He usually speaks of 
Aristotle and Plato as if their differences were scarcely 
more than those of style and manner of expression, and 
attributes to them doctrines which belong to later 
schools, such as the triple division of philosophy, and 
even the Stoic cosmopolitanism and humanitarianism, 
the distinction between perfect and imperfect duties, and 
the definition of the summum bonum as a life in accor- 

CICERO. 241 

dance with nature 1 . It is a little remarkable that though 
Cicero knew much less of Aristotle than he did of Plato, 
yet he has really added to our knowledge of the former 
by preserving to us some interesting fragments of his 
lost dialogues*. 

But it is in the 3rd or post-Aristotelian period 
that Cicero becomes an authority of first-rate importance. 
The original writers for this period have all disappeared, 
leaving only a few fragments behind them ; but their 
best thoughts still survive in a nobler form in the pages 
of Cicero. Even here, it may be doubted whether 
Cicero himself had read several of the earlier treatises, 
such as those of Zeno and Cleanthes, to which we find 
references in his works. But these post-Aristotelian schools 
were still flourishing when he wrote : he had heard their 
doctrines discussed by living expositors; he was personally 
acquainted with the authors of the most popular manuals, 
and he was himself a sincere believer in that common 
basis of practical philosophy to which all were more or 
less rapidly gravitating, in proportion as they were influ- 
enced by the eclectic spirit of their age. 

We may therefore in the main accept Cicero as a 

1 See Acad. 1.19 foil, with Reid's notes. Though Antiochus is 
responsible for much of Cicero's inaccuracy, yet the latter's transla- 
tion of the Timdetis shows that it was possible for him occasionally 
to go wrong through misinterpretation of the Greek, see Gedike 
Ciceronis historia philosophies antiquae pp. 164, 171 foil, and K. F. 
Hermann DC Interpretation Timaei. Again he often loses the 
point of an argument through carelessness and over-haste, see the 
notes on the N. D. I. 25 si di possunt &*c. 26 Anaximenes, 31 
Xenophon, 33 replicatione, and especially 87 quid? solus <5rv. 
also Madvig's note and excursus on Fin. n. 34. 

8 See the quotation given above, p. 142. 

M.P. l6 

242 CICERO. 

trustworthy witness of the doctrines taught in the schools 
of his time ; and, if we make allowance for the growth 
of eclecticism, we may further accept these as repre- 
senting fairly the views of the same schools during the 
earlier part of this period, except where they have been 
confused by the harmonizing treatment of Antiochus. 
One instance of this confusion has been already noticed, 
where Cicero identifies the Stoic prima naturae i. e. the 
objects of the instinctive, prae-moral impulses of child- 
hood, with the prima constitutio, the rudimentary constitu- 
tion of Antiochus, involving the seeds of all virtues, and 
makes this a part of the Summum Bonum, a dogma which 
he also ascribes to Aristotle and the early Academics 1 . 
But the larger part of Cicero's philosophical works is, as he 
modestly confesses, merely paraphrased from the Greek 2 ; 
and when he is reproducing a treatise of Panaetius 
or Posidonius or Clitomachus or the Epicurean Zeno, we 
are tolerably safe from the disturbing influence of Antio- 
chus. And I venture to think there are few remains 
of antiquity which are more worthy the attention of one 
who is interested in the development of human thought 
in its relation to the highest subjects, than the treatise of 
Panaetius on Duty, and the arguments and counter- 
arguments of Posidonius and Clitomachus on Natural 
Theology and Divination, preserved to us in the De 
Natura Deorum and De Divinatione ; or perhaps, 
above all, than the exposition of the Stoic conception of 
Law in the ist book of the De Legibus. Yet even 
in these we have to pay something for the beautiful form 

1 See Madvig Excursus IV. on the De Finibus. 
* Ad Alt. Xll. 52 dvoypaipa sunt ; minore labore fiunt ; verba 
tantuni afftro, quibus abundo. 

CICERO. 243 

which Cicero has given to the clumsy Greek of the 
ist century B.C The argument has not always been 
understood; the connexion is often broken; sometimes 
different treatises will have been somewhat carelessly 
pieced together ; scarcely ever do we find a rounded 
whole dominated by a single conception with all the parts 
in due subordination and harmony. 

It remains still to ask what Cicero himself has con- 
tributed to philosophy, independently of translations and 
paraphrases in which he has embalmed for us the 
thoughts of others. And the first thing to be said is, that 
he has not only given a new form, but he has breathed a 
new spirit into the dry bones of this later philosophy. 
The same wide experience of practical life which made 
him indifferent to subtle distinctions of thought, brought 
its compensation by enabling him to give life and reality 
to the bare abstractions of the schools. We feel that he 
is animated by a genuine enthusiasm when, amid the 
furious party-strife and the self-seeking lawlessness which 
marked the close of the Republic, he comes forward to 
preach of that supreme Law by which all Nature is 
governed, and which is written in the heart and conscience 
of each individual of our race, thus forming a common 
bond of brotherhood, which knits all mankind together 
and engages those who own that bond to love each other 
as they love themselves 1 . Whether he was actually the 
first to give prominence to this conception of an original 
revelation written on the heart of man, is not absolutely 
certain : he is at any rate the first writer in whom we find 
it distinctly expressed. Even Plato only spoke of 'our 
having beheld the ideas in a previous state of existence; 

1 Leg. I. 78 foil., N. D. L iai. 

16 2 

244 CICERO, 

Cicero supposes them to be implanted in us at our birth, 
and to grow with our growth, when they are not blighted 
by ungenial influences 1 . Another characteristic which 
adds a charm to the works of Cicero is his fondness for 
tracing in the ancient worthies of Rome the unconscious 
operation of those principles of generosity and fairness, 
which had been brought out into the distinct light of 
consciousness by Plato and the Stoics. Thus his moral 
treatises, even when they are most defective in logical 
arrangement, form a treasure-house in which the best 
sayings and doings of the best men of antiquity are set 
forth in the noblest language for the delight and instruc- 
tion of posterity. However it may please some writers of 
our time to vaunt their ingratitude to Cicero, it cannot be 
denied that to none of those great writers and thinkers, 
who 'like runners in the torch-race have passed from 
hand to hand the light of civilisation,' is the world more 
indebted than it is to him; that it was he who first made 
the thoughts of the mighty masters of old the common 
property of mankind; that he, beyond all others, raised 
the general standard of sentiment and morality in his 
own age; and that his writings kept alive through the 
Dark Ages, to be rekindled with a fresh glow in the 
Humanists of the Renaissance, the recollection of a 
glorious past, and a tradition of sound thinking and 
judging unfettered by the terrors of church authority. 

1 See Fin. V. 59 (natura ho mini) dedit talem mentem, qttae 
omnem virtutem accipere posset, ingenuitque sine doctrina notitias 
pantos rerum maximarum, et quasi instituil docert et induxit in ea 
quae intrant tanqnam elementa virtutts. Sed virtutem ipsam tn- 
choavit, nihil amptius ; also Leg. I. 33, Tusc. III. i quoted by Zeller 
p- 659- 

VARRO. 245 

M. Terentius Varro, the most learned and most 
voluminous of Roman writers was born B.C. 116. He 
took an active part in public affairs and served under 
Pompeius in the Civil War. After the battle of Pharsalia 
he submitted to Caesar, who employed him to superintend 
the collection and arrangement of books for a public 
library. He escaped from the proscription under the 
second triumvirate, and continued his literary labours 
without interruption till his death in B.C. 28. In phi- 
losophy he followed his master, Antiochus, with perhaps 
even a more decided leaning to Stoicism. Thus he 
holds that that which distinguishes the different schools 
is their view as to the Summum onum, on which he 
reckoned up 288 possible theories. He himself makes 
it consist in virtue combined with the prima naturae, 
which he identifies with the lower 'goods' (external and 
corporeal) of the Peripatetics. Probability is not suf- 
ficient for the guidance of life: a man cannot act 
resolutely unless he has full conviction. His religious 
opinions have been already referred to: the supreme 
God is the soul of the world, whose varied manifestations 
constitute the deities of the common worship, some 
belong to the higher spheres, others, such as the heroes 
and demigods, to the sublunary sphere: in man the 
Divine Spirit manifests himself as the genius or soul, 
which Varro identified with the warm breath which per- 
vades and vivifies the body. 

Another contemporary of Cicero is of interest to us 
as the first sign of a revival which was to be of increasing 
importance in the following age, I mean Nigidius 
Figulus, the restorer of the extinct philosophy of Pytha- 


goras 1 . With him we may connect the short-lived school 
of the Sextii, in which Seneca received his philosophical 
training. The founder Q. Sextius was born B. c 70. 
He combined certain Pythagorean elements with Stoicism. 
Thus he held that the soul was incorporeal, and urged 
on his pupils abstinence from meat, and the practice of 
daily self-examination. He spoke of man's life as a 
continuous struggle against folly, and said that constant 
vigilance is needed if we would contend victoriously 
against the foes by whom we are surrounded. A saying 
of his disciple Fabianus may be noted here as prophetic 
of the new spirit of the coming age : ' Reason is not 
sufficient to overcome passion: we must take to us the 
power of a noble enthusiasm 8 .' 

1 So Cicero calls him in the introduction to his translation of the 
Timaeus, sic judico post illos nobiles Pythagoreos, quorum disciplina 
extincta est qziodammodo, hunc exstitisse qui illam renovaret, 

3 See passages cited in R. and P. 469 472, and Zeller p. 680 
foil. The last quotation is from Seneca De Brevit. x. contra affcctus 
impelu, non subtilitate fiugnandum, nee minutis vulneribus, sed 
incursu avertcndam cuiem. 


WE have thus reached the limit which I proposed for 
my sketch of Ancient Philosophy. We have watched 
the growth of philosophy from the small seed, possibly a 
single Homeric line 1 , dropped in the fruitful soil of 
Miletus, to the mighty tree overshadowing the earth, 
whose branches we distinguish by such names as Socrates 
and Plato and Aristotle and Zeno. We have seen it 
throwing out offshoots in the shape of the various sciences, 
arithmetic, geometry, mechanics, astronomy, grammar, 
rhetoric, logic, and even zoology and botany. We have 
seen it withdrawing more and more from those vague 
speculations on the nature and origin of the universe, 
which first attracted the dawning intelligence of Greece, 
and concentrating its energies on the nature, the duty 
and the destiny of man. We have seen how it revolu- 
tionized men's thoughts in regard to religion, how, as 
early as the 6th century B.C.*, it had risen to the concep- 
tion of One eternal all-wise and all-righteous God, how it 
gradually came to see in Him the object, not of fear alone, 
but of reverence and trust and love; how sternly it 
denounced the follies and impurities of paganism, and 
taught men that the only acceptable worship was that 

1 II. xiv. 201. 

* See above on Xenophanes, p. 14. 


which was offered in a spirit of purity and truth 1 . As to 
men's relations towards each other, we have seen the 
change from the old narrowing and dividing principle 
'thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy,' to 
the recognition of the brotherhood which unites together 
all nations and all conditions of men, all alike sharing 
in one common humanity and being members of that 
great body of which God Himself is the head and which 
includes within it all rational existences whatsoever, 
whether human, angelic or divine*. We have seen too 
how the human consciousness was deepened and elevated 
as well as widened by philosophy. Instead of the old 
superficial conception of truth as that which is commonly 
believed, the investigation of the grounds of belief led 
many to doubt altogether of the possibility of the attain- 
ment of truth, and convinced all of their need of further 
light to dispel the shadows which obscured the subjects 
of highest and deepest interest. Happiness was no 
longer the simple indulgence of the natural impulses. 
The schools which began with the loudest profession of 
eudaemonism ended by acknowledging that the mis- 
fortune of the wise was better than the prosperity of the 
fool 3 , that if happiness was to be attained by man, it 
could only be through imperturbability and self-mastery, 
which would enable him to conquer pain and force 
pleasure out of whatever circumstances ; while we find 

1 Cic. N. D. II. 71 cultus autem deontm est optimus idemque 
castissimus atque sanctissimus plenissimusque pietatis, ut eos semper 
pura Integra incorrupta et mcnte et voce venerennir. 

8 See above, p. 159 and compare Cic. Fin. III. 64. 

* Diog. L. X. 135 KpeiTTov evXaylffrws arvx^ v "n 


writers of other schools maintaining that happiness is 
merely the accompaniment of virtuous energy, and can 
never be regarded as in itself constituting the end 
of action, or repudiating it altogether as something 
unworthy of our attention and likely to distract us from 
the one thing needful, or in fine despairing of its attain- 
ment in a world like this. Thus the life beyond the 
grave, that shadowy realm to which the Homeric 
Achilles preferred the meanest lot on earth, became to 
Plato and his followers the only real existence; death 
was the enfranchisement from the prison of the body 1 , 
the harbour of rest from the storms of life*, the re-union 
of long-parted friends 8 , the admission into the society of 
the wise and good of former ages, the attainment of that 
perfect goodness and wisdom and beauty, which had 
been the yearning of the embodied spirit during the 
weary years of its mortal pilgrimage 4 . So also in regard 
to virtue. This was no longer limited to the performing 
well the duties of a citizen, obeying the laws of the State 
and fighting its battles. It was the inner righteousness 
of the soul, the fixed habit of subordinating the individual 

1 Cic. Tusc.l.nS 'if we are called to depart from this life,' laetiet 
agentes gratias pareamus emittique nos e custodia et levari vinclis 
arbitremur, ut in aeternam et plane in nos tram domum remigrcmus ; 
Somn. Scip. 14, 75. 

2 Tusc. I. 1 18 profecto fuit qnatdam vis quae generi consuleret 
humano, nee id gigneret aut aleret, quod, cum exanclavisset omnes 
labores, turn incident in mortis malum sempitemum : portum potius 
paratum nobis et perfugium putemiis. 

3 Cic. Cato 84 O praedarum diem cum in illttd divinum animo- 
ntm concilium profiriscar, foil. , Plato Phaedo 63. 

4 Plat. Phaed. 67 iroXX^ av oX<ryfa ftrj, el /XT) aaiutvw. fiteifff twtv, ol 

fffnv ov Sid. filov rjpwv 


will to the Divine will, of acting not for private interest but 
for the good of all. And just as deeper thoughts about the 
nature of knowledge forced on men the conviction of their 
own ignorance, so deeper thoughts about virtue made men 
conscious of their own deficiency in virtue, and produced 
in them the new conviction of sin. The one conviction 
taught them their need of a revelation, the other convic- 
tion taught them their need of a purifying and sanctifying 
power 1 . And one step more philosophy could take : it 
chose out for its ideal of humanity, the Zeus-sprung son 
of Alcmena, whose life was spent in labours for the good 
of others, and who, after a death of agony on the burning 
pyre, was received up into heaven, thenceforth to be 
worshipped with divine honours by the gratitude of man- 
kind 2 . 

1 See above, p. 1 60 foil. The prevalence of this feeling of guilt 
and need of atonement is shown by the rapid growth of Jewish 
proselytism about the time of Augustus, by the new forms of ablution 
and sacrifice introduced in connexion with the worship of strange 
deities such as Isis, Serapis, Cybele, Bellona, especially the blood- 
bath, taurobolium, which came into vogue in the and century A. D. 
Virgil in his Messianic eclogue makes the power of cleansing from 
sin one of the attributes of the new-born King. 

2 Cicero and the Stoics continually appeal to the example 
of Hercules, see Off. in. 25 ' It is more in accordance with nature to 
undergo the greatest labours and pains in order to save or help 
mankind, as Hercules did, whom the gratitude of men has placed 
among the company of the immortals, than to live alone in the 
highest enjoyment, 'also Fin. II. 118, III. 66, Tusc. I, 31 'That man 
is of the noblest character who believes himself born for the assis- 
tance, the preservation, the salvation, of his fellows. Hercules 
would never have ranked among the Gods, if he had not paved his 
own way to heaven, while still on earth,' Hor. Od. in. 3, 9, IV. 5, 
35i 8, 29, Epist. II. i, 10. 


Thus far the light of nature had carried men. Here, 
when it had reached its climax, in the fulness of time, as 
we believe, the light of revelation was vouchsafed, to 
confirm its hesitating utterances, to answer its questions, 
to supply its deficiencies, to manifest before the eyes of 
men the power of a new life in the Word made flesh. In 
Christianity we reach the true goal of the ethical and 
religious philosophy of the Ancients. Christ fulfilled the 
hopes and longings of the Stoic and the Platonist, as He 
fulfilled the law of Moses and the prophecies of Isaiah. 

Here therefore, it seems to me, is the natural place to 
pause in our sketch of the development of ancient 
thought and see what was the highest attainment of the 
human mind, uninfluenced by Christianity. It is true 
there is one phase of that development, the mysticism of 
the Neo-Pythagorean and the Neo-Platonist schools, 
which we shall have to exclude, as it lies still in the 
future which we forbid ourselves to enter. But Neo 
Platonism can, no more than Christianity, be regarded as 
a simple development of Hellenic or Western thought ; it 
is a hybrid between East and West. Among its chief 
precursors we find the Alexandrian Jew Philo, born 
shortly after the death of Cicero, the object of whose 
teaching was to harmonize Judaism and Platonism, and 
Plutarch of Chaeronea, born about 50 A. D., who believed 
that a divine revelation was contained in the mysterious 
rites of Egypt no less than in the oracles of Delphi 
The mixture of Orientalism is even more marked in the 
marvellous history of the Neo-Pythagorean Apollonius of 
Tyana, born about the time of the Christian era, which 
was afterwards utilized by the opponents of Christianity 
as a rival to the Gospel history. If then we are to 


admit these into a history of Western philosophy, on 
what principle are we to exclude genuine Greeks and 
Romans who added to a training in the old systems 
of philosophy, ideas borrowed, not from Judaism or 
Zoroastrianism or the religion of Egypt, but from Chris- 
tianity? For instance, on what grounds are we to 
exclude Justin Martyr, himself a philosopher by pro- 
fession, who tells us that he had tried every sect, and at 
last found in Christianity what he had been vainly 
seeking in them? or Pantaenus the Stoic, or his pupil 
Clement of Alexandria, who saw in Christianity the 
perfect wisdom which united all the broken lights which 
had been divided in the several schools of the earlier 
philosophy? Why admit Apuleius, and exclude his 
fellow-countrymen Tertullian and Augustine, men not 
only of far greater natural ability, but of keener philo- 
sophical interest, and probably even better acquainted 
with the past history of philosophy? Why admit Plotinus 
and exclude his fellow-disciple Origen? The difficulty is 
increased when we remember the mutual influence of the 
Pagan and Christian philosophy. While some of the 
Pagan philosophers, such as Julian and Porphyry, owe 
their significance mainly to the fact that they endeavoured 
to remodel the old paganism into something which might 
hold its own against the rising religion; on the other 
hand many of the heresies were attempts to perpetuate 
some special doctrine of pagan philosophy within the 
pale of the Christian Church. 

Or we may state the question in another way, 
as follows : up to the date of the Christian era the 
history of philosophy has been the history of thought 
in its most general sense, whether materialistic or 


idealistic, whether sceptical or religious. It includes 
the allegorical mythology of the Stoics and the 
mysticism of Pythagoras, no less than the logic of 
Aristotle and the physics of Epicurus. Why then, after 
this era, are we to confine our attention to a portion, and 
that the less important portion, of the mental activity of 
the time? Why are we to turn our eyes exclusively 
to the philosophy of the Decline, and refuse to see the 
new life which is springing up by its side ? By so doing, 
we lose, as it seems to me, one of the most interesting 
and instructive of spectacles; we spoil our view of 
history, and do injustice to both sides, while we insist 
on keeping them separate from each other. It is a 
partial but, so far as it goes, a true account of Christianity 
that it is the meeting-point of Judaism and Hellenism. 
We get a very wrong impression of the early Christian 
writers, if we disregard the Hellenic element in them. 
We should be able to judge more fairly of many of the 
Fathers, if we regarded them as successors of the philo- 
sophers, especially of practical teachers such as Epictetus 
and Dio Chrysostom, instead of treating them as channels 
of a sort of supernatural tradition. Superstitious reverence 
for their supposed authority makes it impossible to 
appreciate their real greatness as men. I think therefore 
that, after the rise of Christianity, Christian and Pagan 
philosophy should be treated of together, until the time 
when the West was again separated from the East, and 
Western thought was crushed under the invasion of the 

To give an accurate picture of the religious thought 
of the first four centuries after Christ, (and all thought 
was then more or less religious), to exhibit it in its relation 


not only to the earlier philosophical ideas, but to the con- 
temporary religious systems of Egypt and the East, is a 
work which still remains to be done, and one which 
would require a variety of the highest qualities for its 
adequate performance. I have been merely occupied 
here with the preliminary inquiry as to the manner in 
which the philosophy of Greece prepared the way for 
that great central epoch of all human history ; to show 
how, in the words of Clement of Alexandria, 'philosophy 
was to the Greek, what the Law was to the Jew, the 
schoolmaster to bring him to Christ 1 .' It has therefore 
been my endeavour, while tracing the general development 
of philosophy in accordance with the lines laid down by 
Zeller, to note particularly the interaction of religion and 
philosophy, and show how the early hostility gave place to 
sympathy, as out of the old corrupt religion the form of a 
purer religion gradually disclosed itself to the mind of 
the philosopher, and philosophy itself learnt from fuller 
experience to distrust its own power whether of attaining 
to absolute truth or of moulding the character to virtue. 
1 Clem. Al, Strom, I. 5 p. 122. 




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