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380 BC 
by Plato 
translated by Benjamin Jowett 


Crito. Who was the person, Socrates, with whom you were talking 
yesterday at the Lyceum? There was such a crowd around you that I 
could not get within hearing, but I caught a sight of him over their 
heads, and I made out, as I thought, that he was a stranger with 
whom you were talking: who was he? 

Socrates. There were two, Crito; which of them do you mean? 

Cri . The one whom I mean was seated second from you on the 
right-hand side. In the middle was Cleinias the young son of Axiochus, 
who has wonderfully grown; he is only about the age of my own 
Critobulus, but he is much forwarder and very good-looking: the 
other is thin and looks younger than he is. 

Soc. He whom you mean, Crito, is Euthydemus; and on my left hand 
there was his brother Dionysodorus, who also took part in the 
conversation . 

Cri. Neither of them are known to me, Socrates; they are a new 
importation of Sophists, as I should imagine. Of what country are 
they, and what is their line of wisdom? 

Soc. As to their origin, I believe that they are natives of this 
part of the world, and have migrated from Chios to Thurii; they were 
driven out of Thurii, and have been living for many years past in 
these regions. As to their wisdom, about which you ask, Crito, they 
are wonderful-consummate! I never knew what the true pancratiast was 
before; they are simply made up of fighting, not like the two 
Acarnanian brothers who fight with their bodies only, but this pair of 
heroes, besides being perfect in the use of their bodies, are 
invincible in every sort of warfare; for they are capital at 
fighting in armour, and will teach the art to any one who pays them; 
and also they are most skilful in legal warfare; they will plead 
themselves and teach others to speak and to compose speeches which 
will have an effect upon the courts. And this was only the beginning 
of their wisdom, but they have at last carried out the pancratiastic 
art to the very end, and have mastered the only mode of fighting which 
had been hitherto neglected by them; and now no one dares even to 
stand up against them: such is their skill in the war of words, that 
they can refute any proposition whether true or false. Now I am 
thinking, Crito, of placing myself in their hands; for they say that 
in a short time they can impart their skill to any one. 

Cri. But, Socrates, are you not too old? there may be reason to fear 

Soc. Certainly not, Crito; as I will prove to you, for I have the 
consolation of knowing that they began this art of disputation which I 
covet, quite, as I may say, in old age; last year, or the year before, 
they had none of their new wisdom. I am only apprehensive that I may 
bring the two strangers into disrepute, as I have done Connus the 
son of Metrobius, the harp-player, who is still my music-master; for 
when the boys who go to him see me going with them, they laugh at me 
and call him grandpapa's master. Now I should not like the strangers 
to experience similar treatment; the fear of ridicule may make them 
unwilling to receive me; and therefore, Crito, I shall try and 
persuade some old men to accompany me to them, as I persuaded them 
to go with me to Connus, and I hope that you will make one: and 
perhaps we had better take your sons as a bait; they will want to have 
them as pupils, and for the sake of them willing to receive us. 

Cri. I see no objection, Socrates, if you like; but first I wish 
that you would give me a description of their wisdom, that I may 
know beforehand what we are going to learn. 

Soc. In less than no time you shall hear; for I cannot say that I 
did not attend-I paid great attention to them, and I remember and will 
endeavour to repeat the whole story. Providentially I was sitting 
alone in the dressing-room of the Lyceum where you saw me, and was 
about to depart; when I was getting up I recognized the familiar 
divine sign: so I sat down again, and in a little while the two 
brothers Euthydemus and Dionysodorus came in, and several others 
with them, whom I believe to be their disciples, and they walked about 
in the covered court; they had not taken more than two or three 
turns when Cleinias entered, who, as you truly say, is very much 
improved: he was followed by a host of lovers, one of whom was 
Ctesippus the Paeanian, a well-bred youth, but also having the 
wildness of youth. Cleinias saw me from the entrance as I was 
sitting alone, and at once came and sat down on the right hand of 
me, as you describe; and Dionysodorus and Euthydemus, when they saw 
him, at first stopped and talked with one another, now and then 
glancing at us, for I particularly watched them; and then Euthydemus 
came and sat down by the youth, and the other by me on the left 
hand; the rest anywhere. I saluted the brothers, whom I had not seen 
for a long time; and then I said to Cleinias: Here are two wise men, 
Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, Cleinias, wise not in a small but in a 
large way of wisdom, for they know all about war, -all that a good 
general ought to know about the array and command of an army, and 
the whole art of fighting in armour: and they know about law too, 
and can teach a man how to use the weapons of the courts when he is 
injured . 

They heard me say this, but only despised me. I observed that they 
looked at one another, and both of them laughed; and then Euthydemus 
Those, Socrates, are matters which we no longer pursue seriously; to 
us they are secondary occupations . 

Indeed, I said, if such occupations are regarded by you as 
secondary, what must the principal one be; tell me, I beseech you, 
what that noble study is? 

The teaching of virtue, Socrates, he replied, is our principal 
occupation; and we believe that we can impart it better and quicker 
than any man . 

My God! I said, and where did you learn that? I always thought, as I 
was saying just now, that your chief accomplishment was the art of 
fighting in armour; and I used to say as much of you, for I remember 
that you professed this when you were here before. But now if you 
really have the other knowledge, forgive me: I address you as I 
would superior beings, and ask you to pardon the impiety of my 
former expressions. But are you quite sure about this, Dionysodorus 
and Euthydemus? the promise is so vast, that a feeling of 
incredulity steals over me. 

You may take our word, Socrates, for the fact. 

Then I think you happier in having such a treasure than the great 
king is in the possession of his kingdom. And please to tell me 
whether you intend to exhibit your wisdom; or what will you do? 

That is why we have come hither, Socrates; and our purpose is not 
only to exhibit, but also to teach any one who likes to learn. 

But I can promise you, I said, that every unvirtuous person will 
want to learn. I shall be the first; and there is the youth 
Cleinias, and Ctesippus: and here are several others, I said, pointing 
to the lovers of Cleinias, who were beginning to gather round us. 
Now Ctesippus was sitting at some distance from Cleinias; and when 
Euthydemus leaned forward in talking with me, he was prevented from 
seeing Cleinias, who was between us; and so, partly because he 
wanted to look at his love, and also because he was interested, he 
jumped up and stood opposite to us: and all the other admirers of 
Cleinias, as well as the disciples of Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, 
followed his example. And these were the persons whom I showed to 
Euthydemus, telling him that they were all eager to learn: to which 
Ctesippus and all of them with one voice vehemently assented, and 

bid him exhibit the power of his wisdom. Then I said: Euthydemus and 
Dionysodorus, I earnestly request you to do myself and the company the 
favour to exhibit. There may be some trouble in giving the whole 
exhibition; but tell me one thing, -can you make a good man of him only 
who is already convinced that he ought to learn of you, or of him also 
who is not convinced, either because he imagines that virtue is a 
thing which cannot be taught at all, or that you are not the 
teachers of it? Has your art power to persuade him, who is of the 
latter temper of mind, that virtue can be taught; and that you are the 
men from whom he will best learn it? 

Certainly, Socrates, said Dionysodorus; our art will do both. 

And you and your brother, Dionysodorus, I said, of all men who are 
now living are the most likely to stimulate him to philosophy and to 
the study of virtue? 

Yes, Socrates, I rather think that we are. 

Then I wish that you would be so good as to defer the other part 
of the exhibition, and only try to persuade the youth whom you see 
here that he ought to be a philosopher and study virtue. Exhibit that, 
and you will confer a great favour on me and on every one present; for 
the fact is I and all of us are extremely anxious that he should 
become truly good. His name is Cleinias, and he is the son of 
Axiochus, and grandson of the old Alcibiades, cousin of the Alcibiades 
that now is. He is quite young, and we are naturally afraid that 
some one may get the start of us, and turn his mind in a wrong 
direction, and he may be ruined. Your visit, therefore, is most 
happily timed; and I hope that you will make a trial of the young man, 
and converse with him in our presence, if you have no objection. 

These were pretty nearly the expressions which I used; and 
Euthydemus, in a manly and at the same time encouraging tone, replied: 
There can be no objection, Socrates, if the young man is only 
willing to answer questions. 

He is quite accustomed to do so, I replied; for his friends often 
come and ask him questions and argue with him; and therefore he is 
quite at home in answering. 

What followed, Crito, how can I rightly narrate? For not slight is 
the task of rehearsing infinite wisdom, and therefore, like the poets, 
I ought to commence my relation with an invocation to Memory and the 
Muses. Now Euthydemus, if I remember rightly, began nearly as follows: 

Cleinias, are those who learn the wise or the ignorant? 
The youth, overpowered by the question blushed, and in his 

perplexity looked at me for help; and I, knowing that he was 
disconcerted, said: Take courage, Cleinias, and answer like a man 
whichever you think; for my belief is that you will derive the 
greatest benefit from their questions. 

Whichever he answers, said Dionysodorus, leaning forward so as to 
catch my ear, his face beaming with laughter, I prophesy that he 
will be refuted, Socrates. 

While he was speaking to me, Cleinias gave his answer: and therefore 

1 had no time to warn him of the predicament in which he was placed, 
and he answered that those who learned were the wise. 

Euthydemus proceeded: There are some whom you would call teachers, 
are there not? 

The boy assented. 

And they are the teachers of those who learn-the grammar-master 
and the lyre master used to teach you and other boys; and you were the 


And when you were learners you did not as yet know the things 
which you were learning? 

No, he said. 

And were you wise then? 

No, indeed, he said. 

But if you were not wise you were unlearned? 

Certainly . 

You then, learning what you did not know, were unlearned when you 
were learning? 

The youth nodded assent. 

Then the unlearned learn, and not the wise, Cleinias, as you 
imagine . 

At these words the followers of Euthydemus, of whom I spoke, like 
a chorus at the bidding of their director, laughed and cheered. 
Then, before the youth had time to recover his breath, Dionysodorus 
cleverly took him in hand, and said: Yes, Cleinias; and when the 
grammar master dictated anything to you, were they the wise boys or 
the unlearned who learned the dictation? 

The wise, replied Cleinias. 

Then after all the wise are the learners and not the unlearned; 
and your last answer to Euthydemus was wrong. 

Then once more the admirers of the two heroes, in an ecstasy at 
their wisdom, gave vent to another peal of laughter, while the rest of 
us were silent and amazed. Euthydemus, observing this, determined to 
persevere with the youth; and in order to heighten the effect went 
on asking another similar question, which might be compared to the 
double turn of an expert dancer. Do those, said he, who learn, learn 
what they know, or what they do not know? 

Again Dionysodorus whispered to me: That, Socrates, is just 
another of the same sort. 

Good heavens, I said; and your last question was so good! 

Like all our other questions, Socrates, he replied-inevitable . 

I see the reason, I said, why you are in such reputation among 
your disciples. 

Meanwhile Cleinias had answered Euthydemus that those who learned 
learn what they do not know; and he put him through a series of 
questions the same as before. 

Do you not know letters? 

He assented. 

All letters? 


But when the teacher dictates to you, does he not dictate letters? 

To this also he assented. 

Then if you know all letters, he dictates that which you know? 

This again was admitted by him. 

Then, said the other, you do not learn that which he dictates; but 
he only who does not know letters learns? 

Nay, said Cleinias; but I do learn. 

Then, said he, you learn what you know, if you know all the letters? 

He admitted that. 

Then, he said, you were wrong in your answer. 

The word was hardly out of his mouth when Dionysodorus took up the 
argument, like a ball which he caught, and had another throw at the 
youth. Cleinias, he said, Euthydemus is deceiving you. For tell me 
now, is not learning acquiring knowledge of that which one learns? 

Cleinias assented. 

And knowing is having knowledge at the time? 

He agreed. 

And not knowing is not having knowledge at the time? 

He admitted that. 

And are those who acquire those who have or have not a thing? 

Those who have not. 

And have you not admitted that those who do not know are of the 
number of those who have not? 

He nodded assent. 

Then those who learn are of the class of those who acquire, and 
not of those who have? 

He agreed. 

Then, Cleinias, he said, those who do not know learn, and not 
those who know. 

Euthydemus was proceeding to give the youth a third fall; but I knew 

that he was in deep water, and therefore, as I wanted to give him a 
respite lest he should be disheartened, I said to him consolingly: You 
must not be surprised, Cleinias, at the singularity of their mode of 
speech: this I say because you may not understand what the two 
strangers are doing with you; they are only initiating you after the 
manner of the Corybantes in the mysteries; and this answers to the 
enthronement, which, if you have ever been initiated, is, as you 
will know, accompanied by dancing and sport; and now they are just 
prancing and dancing about you, and will next proceed to initiate you; 
imagine then that you have gone through the first part of the 
sophistical ritual, which, as Prodicus says, begins with initiation 
into the correct use of terms. The two foreign gentlemen, perceiving 
that you did not know, wanted to explain to you that the word "to 
learn" has two meanings, and is used, first, in the sense of acquiring 
knowledge of some matter of which you previously have no knowledge, 
and also, when you have the knowledge, in the sense of reviewing 
this matter, whether something done or spoken by the light of this 
newly-acquired knowledge; the latter is generally called "knowing" 
rather than "learning," but the word "learning" is also used; and 
you did not see, as they explained to you, that the term is employed 
of two opposite sorts of men, of those who know, and of those who do 
not know. There was a similar trick in the second question, when 
they asked you whether men learn what they know or what they do not 
know. These parts of learning are not serious, and therefore I say 
that the gentlemen are not serious, but are only playing with you. For 
if a man had all that sort of knowledge that ever was, he would not be 
at all the wiser; he would only be able to play with men, tripping 
them up and over setting them with distinctions of words. He would 
be like a person who pulls away a stool from some one when he is about 
to sit down, and then laughs and makes merry at the sight of his 
friend overturned and laid on his back. And you must regard all that 
has hitherto passed between you and them as merely play. But in what 
is to follow I am certain that they will exhibit to you their 
serious purpose, and keep their promise (I will show them how); for 
they promised to give me a sample of the hortatory philosophy, but I 
suppose that they wanted to have a game with you first. And now, 
Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, I think that we have had enough of 
this. Will you let me see you explaining to the young man how he is to 
apply himself to the study of virtue and wisdom? And I will first show 
you what I conceive to be the nature of the task, and what sort of a 
discourse I desire to hear; and if I do this in a very inartistic 
and ridiculous manner, do not laugh at me, for I only venture to 
improvise before you because I am eager to hear your wisdom: and I 
must therefore ask you and your disciples to refrain from laughing. 
And now, son of Axiochus, let me put a question to you: Do not all 
men desire happiness? And yet, perhaps, this is one of those 
ridiculous questions which I am afraid to ask, and which ought not 
to be asked by a sensible man: for what human being is there who 
does not desire happiness? 

There is no one, said Cleinias, who does not. 

Well, then, I said, since we all of us desire happiness, how can 
we be happy?-that is the next question. Shall we not be happy if we 
have many good things? And this, perhaps, is even a more simple 
question than the first, for there can be no doubt of the answer. 

He assented. 

And what things do we esteem good? No solemn sage is required to 
tell us this, which may be easily answered; for every one will say 
that wealth is a good. 

Certainly, he said. 

And are not health and beauty goods, and other personal gifts? 

He agreed. 

Can there be any doubt that good birth, and power, and honours in 
one's own land, are goods? 

He assented. 

And what other goods are there? I said. What do you say of 
temperance, justice, courage: do you not verily and indeed think, 
Cleinias, that we shall be more right in ranking them as goods than in 
not ranking them as goods? For a dispute might possibly arise about 
this. What then do you say? 

They are goods, said Cleinias. 

Very well, I said; and where in the company shall we find a place 
for wisdom-among the goods or not? 

Among the goods . 

And now, I said, think whether we have left out any considerable 
goods . 

I do not think that we have, said Cleinias. 

Upon recollection, I said, indeed I am afraid that we have left 
out the greatest of them all. 

What is that? he asked. 

Fortune, Cleinias, I replied; which all, even the most foolish, 
admit to be the greatest of goods. 

True, he said. 

On second thoughts, I added, how narrowly, son of Axiochus, have 
you and I escaped making a laughing-stock of ourselves to the 
strangers . 

Why do you say so? 

Why, because we have already spoken of good-fortune, and are but 
repeating ourselves . 

What do you mean? 

I mean that there is something ridiculous in again putting forward 
good-fortune, which has a place in the list already, and saying the 
same thing twice over. 

He asked what was the meaning of this, and I replied: Surely 
wisdom is good-fortune; even a child may know that. 

The simple-minded youth was amazed; and, observing his surprise, I 
said to him: Do you not know, Cleinias, that flute-players are most 
fortunate and successful in performing on the flute? 

He assented. 

And are not the scribes most fortunate in writing and reading 

Certainly . 

Amid the dangers of the sea, again, are any more fortunate on the 
whole than wise pilots? 

None, certainly. 

And if you were engaged in war, in whose company would you rather 
take the risk-in company with a wise general, or with a foolish one? 

With a wise one. 

And if you were ill, whom would you rather have as a companion in 
a dangerous illness-a wise physician, or an ignorant one? 

A wise one. 

You think, I said, that to act with a wise man is more fortunate 
than to act with an ignorant one? 

He assented. 

Then wisdom always makes men fortunate: for by wisdom no man would 
ever err, and therefore he must act rightly and succeed, or his wisdom 
would be wisdom no longer. 

We contrived at last, somehow or other, to agree in a general 
conclusion, that he who had wisdom had no need of fortune. I then 
recalled to his mind the previous state of the question. You remember, 
I said, our making the admission that we should be happy and fortunate 
if many good things were present with us? 

He assented. 

And should we be happy by reason of the presence of good things, 
if they profited us not, or if they profited us? 

If they profited us, he said. 

And would they profit us, if we only had them and did not use 
them? For example, if we had a great deal of food and did not eat, 
or a great deal of drink and did not drink, should we be profited? 

Certainly not, he said. 

Or would an artisan, who had all the implements necessary for his 
work, and did not use them, be any the better for the possession of 
them? For example, would a carpenter be any the better for having 
all his tools and plenty of wood, if he never worked? 

Certainly not, he said. 

And if a person had wealth and all the goods of which we were just 
now speaking, and did not use them, would he be happy because he 
possessed them? 

No indeed, Socrates . 

Then, I said, a man who would be happy must not only have the good 
things, but he must also use them; there is no advantage in merely 
having them? 


Well, Cleinias, but if you have the use as well as the possession of 
good things, is that sufficient to confer happiness? 

Yes, in my opinion. 

And may a person use them either rightly or wrongly? 

He must use them rightly. 

That is quite true, I said. And the wrong use of a thing is far 
worse than the non-use; for the one is an evil, and the other is 
neither a good nor an evil. You admit that? 

He assented. 

Now in the working and use of wood, is not that which gives the 
right use simply the knowledge of the carpenter? 

Nothing else, he said. 

And surely, in the manufacture of vessels, knowledge is that which 
gives the right way of making them? 

He agreed. 

And in the use of the goods of which we spoke at first-wealth and 
health and beauty, is not knowledge that which directs us to the right 
use of them, and regulates our practice about them? 

He assented. 

Then in every possession and every use of a thing, knowledge is that 
which gives a man not only good-fortune but success? 

He again assented. 

And tell me, I said, tell me, what do possessions profit a man, if 
he have neither good sense nor wisdom? Would a man be better off, 
having and doing many things without wisdom, or a few things with 
wisdom? Look at the matter thus: If he did fewer things would he not 
make fewer mistakes? if he made fewer mistakes would he not have fewer 
misfortunes? and if he had fewer misfortunes would he not be less 

Certainly, he said. 

And who would do least-a Poor man or a rich man? 

A poor man. 

A weak man or a strong man? 

A weak man. 

A noble man or a mean man? 

A mean man. 

And a coward would do less than a courageous and temperate man? 


And an indolent man less than an active man? 

He assented. 

And a slow man less than a quick; and one who had dull perceptions 
of seeing and hearing less than one who had keen ones? 

All this was mutually allowed by us. 

Then, I said, Cleinias, the sum of the matter appears to be that the 
goods of which we spoke before are not to be regarded as goods in 
themselves, but the degree of good and evil in them depends on whether 
they are or are not under the guidance of knowledge: under the 
guidance of ignorance, they are greater evils than their opposites, 
inasmuch as they are more able to minister to the evil principle which 
rules them; and when under the guidance of wisdom and prudence, they 

are greater goods: but in themselves are nothing? 

That, he replied, is obvious. 

What then is the result of what has been said? Is not this the 
result-that other things are indifferent, and that wisdom is the 
only good, and ignorance the only evil? 

He assented. 

Let us consider a further point, I said: Seeing that all men 
desire happiness, and happiness, as has been shown, is gained by a 
use, and a right use, of the things of life, and the right use of 
them, and good fortune in the use of them, is given by 
knowledge, -the inference is that everybody ought by all means to try 
and make himself as wise as he can? 

Yes, he said. 

And when a man thinks that he ought to obtain this treasure, far 
more than money, from a father or a guardian or a friend or a 
suitor, whether citizen or stranger-the eager desire and prayer to 
them that they would impart wisdom to you, is not at all 
dishonourable, Cleinias; nor is any one to be blamed for doing any 
honourable service or ministration to any man, whether a lover or not, 
if his aim is to get wisdom. Do you agree? I said. 

Yes, he said, I quite agree, and think that you are right. 

Yes, I said, Cleinias, if only wisdom can be taught, and does not 
come to man spontaneously; for this is a point which has still to be 
considered, and is not yet agreed upon by you and me- 

But I think, Socrates, that wisdom can be taught, he said. 

Best of men, I said, I am delighted to hear you say so; and I am 
also grateful to you for having saved me from a long and tiresome 
investigation as to whether wisdom can be taught or not. But now, as 
you think that wisdom can be taught, and that wisdom only can make a 
man happy and fortunate will you not acknowledge that all of us 
ought to love wisdom, and you individually will try to love her? 

Certainly, Socrates, he said; I will do my best. 

I was pleased at hearing this; and I turned to Dionysodorus and 
Euthydemus and said: That is an example, clumsy and tedious I admit, 
of the sort of exhortations which I would have you give; and I hope 
that one of you will set forth what I have been saying in a more 
artistic style: or at least take up the enquiry where I left off, 
and proceed to show the youth whether he should have all knowledge; or 
whether there is one sort of knowledge only which will make him good 
and happy, and what that is. For, as I was saying at first, the 
improvement of this young man in virtue and wisdom is a matter which 
we have very much at heart. 

Thus I spoke, Crito, and was all attention to what was coming. I 
wanted to see how they would approach the question, and where they 
would start in their exhortation to the young man that he should 
practise wisdom and virtue. Dionysodorus, who was the elder, spoke 
first. Everybody's eyes were directed towards him, perceiving that 
something wonderful might shortly be expected. And certainly they were 
not far wrong; for the man, Crito, began a remarkable discourse well 
worth hearing, and wonderfully persuasive regarded as an exhortation 
to virtue. 

Tell me, he said, Socrates and the rest of you who say that you want 
this young man to become wise, are you in jest or in real earnest? 

I was led by this to imagine that they fancied us to have been 
jesting when we asked them to converse with the youth, and that this 
made them jest and play, and being under this impression, I was the 
more decided in saying that we were in profound earnest. 
Dionysodorus said: 

Reflect, Socrates; you may have to deny your words. 

I have reflected, I said; and I shall never deny my words. 

Well, said he, and so you say that you wish Cleinias to become wise? 


And he is not wise as yet? 

At least his modesty will not allow him to say that he is. 


You wish him, he said, to become wise and not, to be ignorant? 

That we do . 

You wish him to be what he is not, and no longer to be what he is? 

I was thrown into consternation at this. 

Taking advantage of my consternation he added: You wish him no 
longer to be what he is, which can only mean that you wish him to 
perish. Pretty lovers and friends they must be who want their 
favourite not to be, or to perish! 

When Ctesippus heard this he got very angry (as a lover well 
might) and said: Stranger of Thurii-if politeness would allow me I 
should say, A plague upon you! What can make you tell such a lie about 
me and the others, which I hardly like to repeat, as that I wish 
Cleinias to perish? 

Euthydemus replied: And do you think, Ctesippus, that it is possible 
to tell a lie? 

Yes, said Ctesippus; I should be mad to say anything else. 

And in telling a lie, do you tell the thing of which you speak or 

You tell the thing of which you speak. 

And he who tells, tells that thing which he tells, and no other? 

Yes, said Ctesippus. 

And that is a distinct thing apart from other things? 

Certainly . 

And he who says that thing says that which is? 


And he who says that which is, says the truth. And therefore 
Dionysodorus, if he says that which is, says the truth of you and no 

Yes, Euthydemus, said Ctesippus; but in saying this, he says what is 
not . 

Euthydemus answered: And that which is not is not? 


And that which is not is nowhere? 

Nowhere . 

And can any one do anything about that which has no existence, or do 
to Cleinias that which is not and is nowhere? 

I think not, said Ctesippus. 

Well, but do rhetoricians, when they speak in the assembly, do 

Nay, he said, they do something. 

And doing is making? 


And speaking is doing and making? 

He agreed. 

Then no one says that which is not, for in saying what is not he 
would be doing something; and you have already acknowledged that no 
one can do what is not. And therefore, upon your own showing, no one 
says what is false; but if Dionysodorus says anything, he says what is 
true and what is. 

Yes, Euthydemus, said Ctesippus; but he speaks of things in a 
certain way and manner, and not as they really are. 

Why, Ctesippus, said Dionysodorus, do you mean to say that any one 
speaks of things as they are? 

Yes, he said-all gentlemen and truth-speaking persons. 

And are not good things good, and evil things evil? 

He assented. 

And you say that gentlemen speak of things as they are? 


Then the good speak evil of evil things, if they speak of them as 
they are? 

Yes, indeed, he said; and they speak evil of evil men. And if I 
may give you a piece of advice, you had better take care that they 
do not speak evil of you, since I can tell you that the good speak 
evil of the evil. 

And do they speak great things of the great, rejoined Euthydemus, 
and warm things of the warm? 

To be sure they do, said Ctesippus; and they speak coldly of the 
insipid and cold dialectician. 

You are abusive, Ctesippus, said Dionysodorus, you are abusive! 

Indeed, I am not, Dionysodorus, he replied; for I love you and am 
giving you friendly advice, and, if I could, would persuade you not 
like a boor to say in my presence that I desire my beloved, whom I 
value above all men, to perish. 

I saw that they were getting exasperated with one another, so I made 
a joke with him and said: Ctesippus, I think that we must allow 
the strangers to use language in their own way, and not quarrel with 
them about words, but be thankful for what they give us. If they 
know how to destroy men in such a way as to make good and sensible men 
out of bad and foolish ones-whether this is a discovery of their 
own, or whether they have learned from some one else this new sort 
of death and destruction which enables them to get rid of a bad man 
and turn him into a good one-if they know this (and they do know 
this-at any rate they said just now that this was the secret of 
their newly-discovered art) -let them, in their phraseology, destroy 
the youth and make him wise, and all of us with him. But if you 
young men do not like to trust yourselves with them, then fiat 
experimentum in corpore senis; I will be the Carian on whom they shall 
operate. And here I offer my old person to Dionysodorus; he may put me 
into the pot, like Medea the Colchian, kill me, boil me, if he will 
only make me good. 

Ctesippus said: And I, Socrates, am ready to commit myself to the 
strangers; they may skin me alive, if they please (and I am pretty 
well skinned by them already) , if only my skin is made at last, not 
like that of Marsyas, into a leathern bottle, but into a piece of 
virtue. And here is Dionysodorus fancying that I am angry with him, 
when really I am not angry at all; I do but contradict him when I 
think that he is speaking improperly to me: and you must not 
confound abuse and contradiction, illustrious Dionysodorus; for they 
are quite different things. 

Contradiction! said Dionysodorus; why, there never was such a thing. 

Certainly there is, he replied; there can be no question of that. Do 
you, Dionysodorus, maintain that there is not? 

You will never prove to me, he said, that you have heard any one 
contradicting any one else. 

Indeed, said Ctesippus; then now you may hear me contradicting 
Dionysodorus . 

Are you prepared to make that good? 

Certainly, he said. 

Well, have not all things words expressive of them? 


Of their existence or of their non-existence? 

Of their existence. 

Yes, Ctesippus, and we just now proved, as you may remember, that no 
man could affirm a negative; for no one could affirm that which is 
not . 

And what does that signify? said Ctesippus; you and I may contradict 
all the same for that. 

But can we contradict one another, said Dionysodorus, when both of 
us are describing the same thing? Then we must surely be speaking 
the same thing? 

He assented. 

Or when neither of us is speaking of the same thing? For then 
neither of us says a word about the thing at all? 

He granted that proposition also. 

But when I describe something and you describe another thing, or I 
say something and you say nothing-is there any contradiction? How 
can he who speaks contradict him who speaks not? 

Here Ctesippus was silent; and I in my astonishment said: What do 

you mean, Dionysodorus? I have often heard, and have been amazed to 
hear, this thesis of yours, which is maintained and employed by the 
disciples of Protagoras, and others before them, and which to me 
appears to be quite wonderful, and suicidal as well as destructive, 
and I think that I am most likely to hear the truth about it from you. 
The dictum is that there is no such thing as falsehood; a man must 
either say what is true or say nothing. Is not that your position? 

He assented. 

But if he cannot speak falsely, may he not think falsely? 

No, he cannot, he said. 

Then there is no such thing as false opinion? 

No, he said. 

Then there is no such thing as ignorance, or men who are ignorant; 
for is not ignorance, if there be such a thing, a mistake of fact? 

Certainly, he said. 

And that is impossible? 

Impossible, he replied. 

Are you saying this as a paradox, Dionysodorus; or do you 
seriously maintain no man to be ignorant? 

Refute me, he said. 

But how can I refute you, if, as you say, to tell a falsehood is 

Very true, said Euthydemus . 

Neither did I tell you just now to refute me, said Dionysodorus; for 
how can I tell you to do that which is not? 

Euthydemus, I said, I have but a dull conception of these 
subtleties and excellent devices of wisdom; I am afraid that I 
hardly understand them, and you must forgive me therefore if I ask a 
very stupid question: if there be no falsehood or false opinion or 
ignorance, there can be no such thing as erroneous action, for a man 
cannot fail of acting as he is acting-that is what you mean? 

Yes, he replied. 

And now, I said, I will ask my stupid question: If there is no 
such thing as error in deed, word, or thought, then what, in the 
name of goodness, do you come hither to teach? And were you not just 
now saying that you could teach virtue best of all men, to any one who 
was willing to learn? 

And are you such an old fool, Socrates, rejoined Dionysodorus, 
that you bring up now what I said at first-and if I had said 
anything last year, I suppose that you would bring that up too-but are 
non-plussed at the words which I have just uttered? 

Why, I said, they are not easy to answer; for they are the words 
of wise men: and indeed I know not what to make of this word 
"nonplussed," which you used last: what do you mean by it, 
Dionysodorus? You must mean that I cannot refute your argument. Tell 
me if the words have any other sense. 

No, he replied, they mean what you say. And now answer. 

What, before you, Dionysodorus? I said. 

Answer, said he. 

And is that fair? 

Yes, quite fair, he said. 

Upon what principle? I said. I can only suppose that you are a 
very wise man who comes to us in the character of a great logician, 
and who knows when to answer and when not to answer-and now you will 
not open your mouth at all, because you know that you ought not. 

You prate, he said, instead of answering. But if, my good sir, you 
admit that I am wise, answer as I tell you. 

1 suppose that I must obey, for you are master. Put the question. 
Are the things which have sense alive or lifeless? 

They are alive. 

And do you know of any word which is alive? 

I cannot say that I do. 

Then why did you ask me what sense my words had? 

Why, because I was stupid and made a mistake. And yet, perhaps, I 

was right after all in saying that words have a sense; -what do you 
say, wise man? If I was not in error, even you will not refute me, and 
all your wisdom will be non-plussed; but if I did fall into error, 
then again you are wrong in saying that there is no error, -and this 
remark was made by you not quite a year ago. I am inclined to think, 
however, Dionysodorus and Euthydemus, that this argument lies where it 
was and is not very likely to advance: even your skill in the 
subtleties of logic, which is really amazing, has not found out the 
way of throwing another and not falling yourself, now any more than of 

Ctesippus said: Men of Chios, Thurii, or however and whatever you 
call yourselves, I wonder at you, for you seem to have no objection to 
talking nonsense. 

Fearing that there would be high words, I again endeavoured to 
soothe Ctesippus, and said to him: To you, Ctesippus, I must repeat 
what I said before to Cleinias-that you do not understand the ways 
of these philosophers from abroad. They are not serious, but, like the 
Egyptian wizard, Proteus, they take different forms and deceive us 
by their enchantments: and let us, like Menelaus, refuse to let them 
go until they show themselves to us in earnest. When they begin to 
be in earnest their full beauty will appear: let us then beg and 
entreat and beseech them to shine forth. And I think that I had better 
once more exhibit the form in which I pray to behold them; it might be 
a guide to them. I will go on therefore where I left off, as well as I 
can, in the hope that I may touch their hearts and move them to 
pity, and that when they see me deeply serious and interested, they 
also may be serious. You, Cleinias, I said, shall remind me at what 
point we left off. Did we not agree that philosophy should be studied? 
and was not that our conclusion? 

Yes, he replied. 

And philosophy is the acquisition of knowledge? 

Yes, he said. 

And what knowledge ought we to acquire? May we not answer with 
absolute truth-A knowledge which will do us good? 

Certainly, he said. 

And should we be any the better if we went about having a 
knowledge of the places where most gold was hidden in the earth? 

Perhaps we should, he said. 

But have we not already proved, I said, that we should be none the 
better off, even if without trouble and digging all the gold which 
there is in the earth were ours? And if we knew how to convert 
stones into gold, the knowledge would be of no value to us, unless 
we also knew how to use the gold? Do you not remember? I said. 

I quite remember, he said. 

Nor would any other knowledge, whether of money-making, or of 
medicine, or of any other art which knows only how to make a thing, 
and not to use it when made, be of any good to us. Am I not right? 

He agreed. 

And if there were a knowledge which was able to make men immortal, 
without giving them the knowledge of the way to use the immortality, 
neither would there be any use in that, if we may argue from the 
analogy of the previous instances? 

To all this he agreed. 

Then, my dear boy, I said, the knowledge which we want is one that 
uses as well as makes? 

True, he said. 

And our desire is not to be skilful lyre-makers, or artists of 
that sort-far otherwise; for with them the art which makes is one, and 
the art which uses is another. Although they have to do with the same, 
they are divided: for the art which makes and the art which plays on 
the lyre differ widely from one another. Am I not right? 

He agreed. 

And clearly we do not want the art of the flute-maker; this is 
only another of the same sort? 

He assented. 

But suppose, I said, that we were to learn the art of making 
speeches-would that be the art which would make us happy? 

I should say no, rejoined Cleinias . 

And why should you say so? I asked. 

I see, he replied, that there are some composers of speeches who 
do not know how to use the speeches which they make, just as the 
makers of lyres do not know how to use the lyres; and also some who 
are of themselves unable to compose speeches, but are able to use 
the speeches which the others make for them; and this proves that 
the art of making speeches is not the same as the art of using them. 

Yes, I said; and I take your words to be a sufficient proof that the 
art of making speeches is not one which will make a man happy. And yet 
I did think that the art which we have so long been seeking might be 
discovered in that direction; for the composers of speeches, 
whenever I meet them, always appear to me to be very extraordinary 
men, Cleinias, and their art is lofty and divine, and no wonder. For 
their art is a part of the great art of enchantment, and hardly, if at 
all, inferior to it: and whereas the art of the enchanter is a mode of 
charming snakes and spiders and scorpions, and other monsters and 
pests, this art of theirs acts upon dicasts and ecclesiasts and bodies 
of men, for the charming and pacifying of them. Do you agree with me? 

Yes, he said, I think that you are quite right. 

Whither then shall we go, I said, and to what art shall we have 

I do not see my way, he said. 

But I think that I do, I replied. 

And what is your notion? asked Cleinias. 

I think that the art of the general is above all others the one of 
which the possession is most likely to make a man happy. 

I do not think so, he said. 

Why not? I said. 

The art of the general is surely an art of hunting mankind. 

What of that? I said. 

Why, he said, no art of hunting extends beyond hunting and 
capturing; and when the prey is taken the huntsman or fisherman cannot 
use it; but they hand it over to the cook, and the geometricians and 
astronomers and calculators (who all belong to the hunting class, 
for they do not make their diagrams, but only find out that which 
was previously contained in them) -they, I say, not being able to use 
but only to catch their prey, hand over their inventions to the 
dialectician to be applied by him, if they have any sense in them. 

Good, I said, fairest and wisest Cleinias. And is this true? 

Certainly, he said; just as a general when he takes a city or a camp 
hands over his new acquisition to the statesman, for he does not 
know how to use them himself; or as the quail-taker transfers the 
quails to the keeper of them. If we are looking for the art which is 
to make us blessed, and which is able to use that which it makes or 
takes, the art of the general is not the one, and some other must be 
found . 

Cri . And do you mean, Socrates, that the youngster said all this? 

Soc. Are you incredulous, Crito? 

Cri. Indeed, I am; for if he did say so, then in my opinion he needs 
neither Euthydemus nor any one else to be his instructor. 

Soc. Perhaps I may have forgotten, and Ctesippus was the real 
answerer . 

Cri. Ctesippus! nonsense. 

Soc. All I know is that I heard these words, and that they were 
not spoken either by Euthydemus or Dionysodorus . I dare say, my good 
Crito, that they may have been spoken by some superior person: that 
I heard them I am certain. 

Cri. Yes, indeed, Socrates, by some one a good deal superior, as I 
should be disposed to think. But did you carry the search any further, 
and did you find the art which you were seeking? 

Soc. Find! my dear sir, no indeed. And we cut a poor figure; we were 
like children after larks, always on the point of catching the art, 
which was always getting away from us. But why should I repeat the 
whole story? At last we came to the kingly art, and enquired whether 
that gave and caused happiness, and then we got into a labyrinth, 
and when we thought we were at the end, came out again at the 
beginning, having still to seek as much as ever. 

Cri . How did that happen, Socrates? 

Soc. I will tell you; the kingly art was identified by us with the 
political . 

Cri. Well, and what came of that? 

Soc. To this royal or political art all the arts, including the 
art of the general, seemed to render up the supremacy, that being 
the only one which knew how to use what they produce. Here obviously 
was the very art which we were seeking-the art which is the source 
of good government, and which may be described, in the language of 
Aeschylus, as alone sitting at the helm of the vessel of state, 
piloting and governing all things, and utilizing them. 

Cri. And were you not right, Socrates? 

Soc. You shall judge, Crito, if you are willing to hear what 
followed; for we resumed the enquiry, and a question of this sort 
was asked: Does the kingly art, having this supreme authority, do 
anything for us? To be sure, was the answer. And would not you, Crito, 
say the same? 

Cri. Yes, I should. 

Soc. And what would you say that the kingly art does? If medicine 
were supposed to have supreme authority over the subordinate arts, and 
I were to ask you a similar question about that, you would say-it 
produces health? 

Cri . I should . 

Soc. And what of your own art of husbandry, supposing that to have 
supreme authority over the subject arts-what does that do? Does it not 
supply us with the fruits of the earth? 

Cri . Yes . 

Soc. And what does the kingly art do when invested with supreme 
power? Perhaps you may not be ready with an answer? 

Cri. Indeed I am not, Socrates. 

Soc. No more were we, Crito. But at any rate you know that if this 
is the art which we were seeking, it ought to be useful. 

Cri . Certainly . 

Soc. And surely it ought to do us some good? 

Cri . Certainly, Socrates . 

Soc. And Cleinias and I had arrived at the conclusion that knowledge 
of some kind is the only good. 

Cri. Yes, that was what you were saying. 

Soc. All the other results of politics, and they are many, as for 
example, wealth, freedom, tranquillity, were neither good nor evil 
in themselves; but the political science ought to make us wise, and 
impart knowledge to us, if that is the science which is likely to do 
us good, and make us happy. 

Cri. Yes; that was the conclusion at which you had arrived, 
according to your report of the conversation. 

Soc. And does the kingly art make men wise and good? 

Cri. Why not, Socrates? 

Soc. What, all men, and in every respect? and teach them all the 
arts, -carpentering, and cobbling, and the rest of them? 

Cri. I think not, Socrates. 

Soc. But then what is this knowledge, and what are we to do with it? 
For it is not the source of any works which are neither good nor evil, 
and gives no knowledge, but the knowledge of itself; what then can 
it be, and what are we to do with it? Shall we say, Crito, that it 
is the knowledge by which we are to make other men good? 

Cri. By all means. 

Soc. And in what will they be good and useful? Shall we repeat 

that they will make others good, and that these others will make 
others again, without ever determining in what they are to be good; 
for we have put aside the results of politics, as they are called. 
This is the old, old song over again; and we are just as far as 
ever, if not farther, from the knowledge of the art or science of 
happiness . 

.Cri. Indeed, Socrates, you do appear to have got into a great 
perplexity . 

Soc. Thereupon, Crito, seeing that I was on the point of 
shipwreck, I lifted up my voice, and earnestly entreated and called 
upon the strangers to save me and the youth from the whirlpool of 
the argument; they were our Castor and Pollux, I said, and they should 
be serious, and show us in sober earnest what that knowledge was which 
would enable us to pass the rest of our lives in happiness. 

Cri. And did Euthydemus show you this knowledge? 

Soc. Yes, indeed; he proceeded in a lofty strain to the following 
effect: Would you rather, Socrates, said he, that I should show you 
this knowledge about which you have been doubting, or shall I prove 
that you already have it? 

What, I said, are you blessed with such a power as this? 

Indeed I am. 

Then I would much rather that you should prove me to have such a 
knowledge; at my time of life that will be more agreeable than 
having to learn. 

Then tell me, he said, do you know anything? 

Yes, I said, I know many things, but not anything of much 
importance . 

That will do, he said: And would you admit that anything is what 
it is, and at the same time is not what it is? 

Certainly not. 

And did you not say that you knew something? 

I did. 

If you know, you are knowing. 

Certainly, of the knowledge which I have. 

That makes no difference; -and must you not, if you are knowing, know 
all things? 

Certainly not, I said, for there are many other things which I do 
not know. 

And if you do not know, you are not knowing. 

Yes, friend, of that which I do not know. 

Still you are not knowing, and you said just now that you were 
knowing; and therefore you are and are not at the same time, and in 
reference to the same things . 

A pretty clatter, as men say, Euthydemus, this of yours! and will 
you explain how I possess that knowledge for which we were seeking? Do 
you mean to say that the same thing cannot be and also not be; and 
therefore, since I know one thing, that I know all, for I cannot be 
knowing and not knowing at the same time, and if I know all things, 
then I must have the knowledge for which we are seeking-May I assume 
this to be your ingenious notion? 

Out of your own mouth, Socrates, you are convicted, he said. 

Well, but, Euthydemus, I said, has that never happened to you? for 
if I am only in the same case with you and our beloved Dionysodorus, I 
cannot complain. Tell me, then, you two, do you not know some 
things, and not know others? 

Certainly not, Socrates, said Dionysodorus. 

What do you mean, I said; do you know nothing? 

Nay, he replied, we do know something. 

Then, I said, you know all things, if you know anything? 

Yes, all things, he said; and that is as true of you as of us. 

0, indeed, I said, what a wonderful thing, and what a great 
blessing! And do all other men know all things or nothing? 

Certainly, he replied; they cannot know some things, and not know 
others, and be at the same time knowing and not knowing. 

Then what is the inference? I said. 

They all know all things, he replied, if they know one thing. 

heavens, Dionysodorus, I said, I see now that you are in 
earnest; hardly have I got you to that point. And do you really and 
truly know all things, including carpentering and leather cutting? 

Certainly, he said. 

And do you know stitching? 

Yes, by the gods, we do, and cobbling, too. 

And do you know things such as the numbers of the stars and of the 

Certainly; did you think we should say no to that? 

By Zeus, said Ctesippus, interrupting, I only wish that you would 
give me some proof which would enable me to know whether you speak 
truly . 

What proof shall I give you? he said. 

Will you tell me how many teeth Euthydemus has? and Euthydemus shall 
tell how many teeth you have. 

Will you not take our word that we know all things? 

Certainly not, said Ctesippus: you must further tell us this one 
thing, and then we shall know that you are speak the truth; if you 
tell us the number, and we count them, and you are found to be 
right, we will believe the rest. They fancied that Ctesippus was 
making game of them, and they refused, and they would only say in 
answer to each of his questions, that they knew all things. For at 
last Ctesippus began to throw off all restraint; no question in fact 
was too bad for him; he would ask them if they knew the foulest 
things, and they, like wild boars, came rushing on his blows, and 
fearlessly replied that they did. At last, Crito, I too was carried 
away by my incredulity, and asked Euthydemus whether Dionysodorus 
could dance. 

Certainly, he replied. 

And can he vault among swords, and turn upon a wheel, at his age? 
has he got to such a height of skill as that? 

He can do anything, he said. 

And did you always know this? 

Always, he said. 

When you were children, and at your birth? 

They both said that they did. 

This we could not believe. And Euthydemus said: You are incredulous, 
Socrates . 

Yes, I said, and I might well be incredulous, if I did not know 
you to be wise men. 

But if you will answer, he said, I will make you confess to 
similar marvels. 

Well, I said, there is nothing that I should like better than to 
be self-convicted of this, for if I am really a wise man, which I 
never knew before, and you will prove to me that I know and have 
always known all things, nothing in life would be a greater gain to 
me . 

Answer then, he said. 

Ask, I said, and I will answer. 

Do you know something, Socrates, or nothing? 

Something, I said. 

And do you know with what you know, or with something else? 

With what I know; and I suppose that you mean with my soul? 

Are you not ashamed, Socrates, of asking a question when you are 
asked one? 

Well, I said; but then what am I to do? for I will do whatever you 
bid; when I do not know what you are asking, you tell me to answer 
nevertheless, and not to ask again. 

Why, you surely have some notion of my meaning, he said. 

Yes, I replied. 

Well, then, answer according to your notion of my meaning. 

Yes, I said; but if the question which you ask in one sense is 

understood and answered by me in another, will that please you-if I 
answer what is not to the point? 

That will please me very well; but will not please you equally well, 
as I imagine. 

I certainly will not answer unless I understand you, I said. 

You will not answer, he said, according to your view of the meaning, 
because you will be prating, and are an ancient. 

Now I saw that he was getting angry with me for drawing 
distinctions, when he wanted to catch me in his springes of words. And 
I remembered that Connus was always angry with me when I opposed 
him, and then he neglected me, because he thought that I was stupid; 
and as I was intending to go to Euthydemus as a pupil, I reflected 
that I had better let him have his way, as he might think me a 
blockhead, and refuse to take me. So I said: You are a far better 
dialectician than myself, Euthydemus, for I have never made a 
profession of the art, and therefore do as you say; ask your questions 
once more, and I will answer. 

Answer then, he said, again, whether you know what you know with 
something, or with nothing. 

Yes, I said; I know with my soul. 

The man will answer more than the question; for I did not ask you, 
he said, with what you know, but whether you know with something. 

Again I replied, Through ignorance I have answered too much, but I 
hope that you will forgive me. And now I will answer simply that I 
always know what I know with something. 

And is that something, he rejoined, always the same, or sometimes 
one thing, and sometimes another thing? 

Always, I replied, when I know, I know with this. 

Will you not cease adding to your answers? 

My fear is that this word "always" may get us into trouble. 

You, perhaps, but certainly not us. And now answer: Do you always 
know with this? 

Always; since I am required to withdraw the words "when I know." 

You always know with this, or, always knowing, do you know some 
things with this, and some things with something else, or do you 
know all things with this? 

All that I know, I replied, I know with this. 

There again, Socrates, he said, the addition is superfluous. 

Well, then, I said, I will take away the words that I know." 

Nay, take nothing away; I desire no favours of you; but let me 
ask: Would you be able to know all things, if you did not know all 

Quite impossible. 

And now, he said, you may add on whatever you like, for you 
confess that you know all things. 

I suppose that is true, I said, if my qualification implied in the 
words "that I know" is not allowed to stand; and so I do know all 
things . 

And have you not admitted that you always know all things with 
that which you know, whether you make the addition of "when you know 
them" or not? for you have acknowledged that you have always and at 
once known all things, that is to say, when you were a child, and at 
your birth, and when you were growing up, and before you were born, 
and before the heaven and earth existed, you knew all things if you 
always know them; and I swear that you shall always continue to know 
all things, if I am of the mind to make you. 

But I hope that you will be of that mind, reverend Euthydemus, I 
said, if you are really speaking the truth, and yet I a little doubt 
your power to make good your words unless you have the help of your 
brother Dionysodorus ; then you may do it. Tell me now, both of you, 
for although in the main I cannot doubt that I really do know all 
things, when I am told so by men of your prodigious wisdom-how can I 
say that I know such things, Euthydemus, as that the good are 
unjust; come, do I know that or not? 

Certainly, you know that. 

What do I know? 

That the good are not unjust. 

Quite true, I said; and that I have always known; but the question 
is, where did I learn that the good are unjust? 

Nowhere, said Dionysodorus . 

Then, I said, I do not know this. 

You are ruining the argument, said Euthydemus to Dionysodorus; he 
will be proved not to know, and then after all he will be knowing 
and not knowing at the same time. 

Dionysodorus blushed. 

I turned to the other, and said, What do you think, Euthydemus? Does 
not your omniscient brother appear to you to have made a mistake? 

What, replied Dionysodorus in a moment; am I the brother of 

Thereupon I said, Please not to interrupt, my good friend, or 
prevent Euthydemus from proving to me that I know the good to be 
unjust; such a lesson you might at least allow me to learn. 

You are running away, Socrates, said Dionysodorus, and refusing to 
answer . 

No wonder, I said, for I am not a match for one of you, and a 
fortiori I must run away from two. I am no Heracles; and even Heracles 
could not fight against the Hydra, who was a she-Sophist, and had 
the wit to shoot up many new heads when one of them was cut off; 
especially when he saw a second monster of a sea-crab, who was also 
a Sophist, and appeared to have newly arrived from a sea-voyage, 
bearing down upon him from the left, opening his mouth and biting. 
When the monster was growing troublesome he called Iolaus, his nephew, 
to his help, who ably succoured him; but if my Iolaus, who is my 
brother Patrocles [the statuary], were to come, he would only make a 
bad business worse. 

And now that you have delivered yourself of this strain, said 
Dionysodorus, will you inform me whether Iolaus was the nephew of 
Heracles any more than he is yours? 

I suppose that I had best answer you, Dionysodorus, I said, for 
you will insist on asking that I pretty well know-out of envy, in 
order to prevent me from learning the wisdom of Euthydemus. 

Then answer me, he said. 

Well then, I said, I can only reply that Iolaus was not my nephew at 
all, but the nephew of Heracles; and his father was not my brother 
Patrocles, but Iphicles, who has a name rather like his, and was the 
brother of Heracles. 

And is Patrocles, he said, your brother? 

Yes, I said, he is my half-brother, the son of my mother, but not of 
my father. 

Then he is and is not your brother. 

Not by the same father, my good man, I said, for Chaeredemus was his 
father, and mine was Sophroniscus . 

And was Sophroniscus a father, and Chaeredemus also? 

Yes, I said; the former was my father, and the latter his. 

Then, he said, Chaeredemus is not a father. 

He is not my father, I said. 

But can a father be other than a father? or are you the same as a 

I certainly do not think that I am a stone, I said, though I am 
afraid that you may prove me to be one. 

Are you not other than a stone? 

I am . 

And being other than a stone, you are not a stone; and being other 
than gold, you are not gold? 

Very true. 

And so Chaeredemus, he said, being other than a father, is not a 

I suppose that he is not a father, I replied. 

For if, said Euthydemus, taking up the argument, Chaeredemus is a 
father, then Sophroniscus, being other than a father, is not a father; 
and you, Socrates, are without a father. 

Ctesippus, here taking up the argument, said: And is not your father 
in the same case, for he is other than my father? 

Assuredly not, said Euthydemus. 

Then he is the same? 

He is the same. 

I cannot say that I like the connection; but is he only my father, 
Euthydemus, or is he the father of all other men? 

Of all other men, he replied. Do you suppose the same person to be a 
father and not a father? 

Certainly, I did so imagine, said Ctesippus. 

And do you suppose that gold is not gold, or that a man is not a 

They are not "in pari materia," Euthydemus, said Ctesippus, and 
you had better take care, for it is monstrous to suppose that your 
father is the father of all. 

But he is, he replied. 

What, of men only, said Ctesippus, or of horses and of all other 

Of all, he said. 

And your mother, too, is the mother of all? 

Yes, our mother too. 

Yes; and your mother has a progeny of sea-urchins then? 

Yes; and yours, he said. 

And gudgeons and puppies and pigs are your brothers? 

And yours too. 

And your papa is a dog? 

And so is yours, he said. 

If you will answer my questions, said Dionysodorus, I will soon 
extract the same admissions from you, Ctesippus. You say that you have 
a dog . 

Yes, a villain of a one, said Ctesippus. 

And he has puppies? 

Yes, and they are very like himself. 

And the dog is the father of them? 

Yes, he said, I certainly saw him and the mother of the puppies come 
together . 

And is he not yours? 

To be sure he is . 

Then he is a father, and he is yours; ergo, he is your father, and 
the puppies are your brothers . 

Let me ask you one little question more, said Dionysodorus, 
quickly interposing, in order that Ctesippus might not get in his 
word: You beat this dog? 

Ctesippus said, laughing, Indeed I do; and I only wish that I 
could beat you instead of him. 

Then you beat your father, he said. 

I should have far more reason to beat yours, said Ctesippus; what 
could he have been thinking of when he begat such wise sons? much good 
has this father of you and your brethren the puppies got out of this 
wisdom of yours. 

But neither he nor you, Ctesippus, have any need of much good. 

And have you no need, Euthydemus? he said. 

Neither I nor any other man; for tell me now, Ctesippus, if you 
think it good or evil for a man who is sick to drink medicine when 
he wants it; or to go to war armed rather than unarmed. 

Good, I say. And yet I know that I am going to be caught in one of 
your charming puzzles. 

That, he replied, you will discover, if you answer; since you 
admit medicine to be good for a man to drink, when wanted, must it not 
be good for him to drink as much as possible; when he takes his 
medicine, a cartload of hellebore will not be too much for him? 

Ctesippus said: Quite so, Euthydemus, that is to say, if he who 
drinks is as big as the statue of Delphi. 

And seeing that in war to have arms is a good thing, he ought to 
have as many spears and shields as possible? 

Very true, said Ctesippus; and do you think, Euthydemus, that he 
ought to have one shield only, and one spear? 

I do. 

And would you arm Geryon and Briarcus in that way? Considering 
that you and your companion fight in armour, I thought that you 
would have known better. . . . Here Euthydemus held his peace, but 
Dionysodorus returned to the previous answer of Ctesippus and said:- 

Do you not think that the possession of gold is a good thing? 

Yes, said Ctesippus, and the more the better. 

And to have money everywhere and always is a good? 

Certain a great good, he said. 

And you admit gold to be a good? 

Certainly, he replied. 

And ought not a man then to have gold everywhere and always, and 
as much as possible in himself, and may he not be deemed the 
happiest of men who has three talents of gold in his belly, and a 
talent in his pate, and a stater of gold in either eye? 

Yes, Euthydemus, said Ctesippus; and the Scythians reckon those 
who have gold in their own skulls to be the happiest and bravest of 
men (that is only another instance of your manner of speaking about 
the dog and father) , and what is still more extraordinary, they 
drink out of their own skulls gilt and see the inside of them, and 
hold their own head in their hands. 

And do the Scythians and others see that which has the quality of 
vision, or that which has not? said Euthydemus. 

That which has the quality of vision clearly. 

And you also see that which has the quality Of vision? he said. 

Yes, I do. 

Then do you see our garments? 


Then our garments have the quality of vision. 

They can see to any extent, said Ctesippus. 

What can they see? 

Nothing; but you, my sweet man, may perhaps imagine that they do not 
see; and certainly, Euthydemus, you do seem to me to have been 
caught napping when you were not asleep, and that if it be possible to 
speak and say nothing-you are doing so. 

And may there not be a silence of the speaker? said Dionysodorus. 

Impossible, said Ctesippus. 

Or a speaking of the silent? 

That is still more impossible, he said. 

But when you speak of stones, wood, iron bars, do you not speak of 
the silent? 

Not when I pass a smithy; for then the iron bars make a tremendous 
noise and outcry if they are touched: so that here your wisdom is 
strangely mistaken, please, however, to tell me how you can be 
silent when speaking (I thought that Ctesippus was put upon his mettle 
because Cleinias was present) . 

When you are silent, said Euthydemus, is there not a silence of 
all things? 

Yes, he said. 

But if speaking things are included in all things, then the speaking 
are silent. 

What, said Ctesippus; then all things are not silent? 

Certainly not, said Euthydemus. 

Then, my good friend, do they all speak? 

Yes; those which speak. 

Nay, said Ctesippus, but the question which I ask is whether all 
things are silent or speak? 

Neither and both, said Dionysodorus, quickly interposing; I am 

sure that you will be "nonplussed" at that answer. 

Here Ctesippus, as his manner was, burst into a roar of laughter; he 
said, That brother of yours, Euthydemus, has got into a dilemma; all 
is over with him. This delighted Cleinias, whose laughter made 
Ctesippus ten times as uproarious; but I cannot help thinking that the 
rogue must have picked up this answer from them; for there has been no 
wisdom like theirs in our time. Why do you laugh, Cleinias, I said, at 
such solemn and beautiful things? 

Why, Socrates, said Dionysodorus, did you ever see a beautiful 

Yes, Dionysodorus, I replied, I have seen many. 

Were they other than the beautiful, or the same as the beautiful? 

Now I was in a great quandary at having to answer this question, and 
I thought that I was rightly served for having opened my mouth at all: 
I said however, They are not the same as absolute beauty, but they 
have beauty present with each of them. 

And are you an ox because an ox is present with you, or are you 
Dionysodorus, because Dionysodorus is present with you? 

God forbid, I replied. 

But how, he said, by reason of one thing being present with another, 
will one thing be another? 

Is that your difficulty? I said. For I was beginning to imitate 
their skill, on which my heart was set. 

Of course, he replied, I and all the world are in a difficulty about 
the non-existent. 

What do you mean, Dionysodorus? I said. Is not the honourable 
honourable and the base base? 

That, he said, is as I please. 

And do you please? 

Yes, he said. 

And you will admit that the same is the same, and the other other; 
for surely the other is not the same; I should imagine that even a 
child will hardly deny the other to be other. But I think, 
Dionysodorus, that you must have intentionally missed the last 
question; for in general you and your brother seem to me to be good 
workmen in your own department, and to do the dialectician's 
business excellently well. 

What, said he, is the business of a good workman? tell me, in the 
first place, whose business is hammering? 

The smith's. 

And whose the making of pots? 

The potter's. 

And who has to kill and skin and mince and boil and roast? 

The cook, I said. 

And if a man does his business he does rightly? 

Certainly . 

And the business of the cook is to cut up and skin; you have 
admitted that? 

Yes, I have admitted that, but you must not be too hard upon me. 

Then if some one were to kill, mince, boil, roast the cook, he would 
do his business, and if he were to hammer the smith, and make a pot of 
the potter, he would do their business. 

Poseidon, I said, this is the crown of wisdom; can I ever hope to 
have such wisdom of my own? 

And would you be able, Socrates, to recognize this wisdom when it 
has become your own? 

Certainly, I said, if you will allow me. 

What, he said, do you think that you know what is your own? 

Yes, I do, subject to your correction; for you are the bottom, and 
Euthydemus is the top, of all my wisdom. 

Is not that which you would deem your own, he said, that which you 
have in your own power, and which you are able to use as you would 
desire, for example, an ox or a sheep would you not think that which 
you could sell and give and sacrifice to any god whom you pleased, 

to be your own, and that which you could not give or sell or sacrifice 
you would think not to be in your own power? 

Yes, I said (for I was certain that something good would come out of 
the questions, which I was impatient to hear); yes, such things, and 
such things only are mine. 

Yes, he said, and you would mean by animals living beings? 

Yes, I said. 

You agree then, that-those animals only are yours with which you 
have the power to do all these things which I was just naming? 

I agree . 

Then, after a pause, in which he seemed to be lost in the 
contemplation of something great, he said: Tell me, Socrates, have you 
an ancestral Zeus? Here, anticipating the final move, like a person 
caught in a net, who gives a desperate twist that he may get away, I 
said: No, Dionysodorus, I have not. 

What a miserable man you must be then, he said; you are not an 
Athenian at all if you have no ancestral gods or temples, or any other 
mark of gentility. 

Nay, Dionysodorus, I said, do not be rough; good words, if you 
please; in the way of religion I have altars and temples, domestic and 
ancestral, and all that other Athenians have. 

And have not other Athenians, he said, an ancestral Zeus? 

That name, I said, is not to be found among the Ionians, whether 
colonists or citizens of Athens; an ancestral Apollo there is, who 
is the father of Ion, and a family Zeus, and a Zeus guardian of the 
phratry, and an Athene guardian of the phratry. But the name of 
ancestral Zeus is unknown to us. 

No matter, said Dionysodorus, for you admit that you have Apollo, 
Zeus, and Athene. 

Certainly, I said. 

And they are your gods, he said. 

Yes, I said, my lords and ancestors. 

At any rate they are yours, he said, did you not admit that? 

I did, I said; what is going to happen to me? 

And are not these gods animals? for you admit that all things 
which have life are animals; and have not these gods life? 

They have life, I said. 

Then are they not animals? 

They are animals, I said. 

And you admitted that of animals those are yours which you could 
give away or sell or offer in sacrifice, as you pleased? 

I did admit that, Euthydemus, and I have no way of escape. 

Well then, said he, if you admit that Zeus and the other gods are 
yours, can you sell them or give them away or do what you will with 
them, as you would with other animals? 

At this I was quite struck dumb, Crito, and lay prostrate. Ctesippus 
came to the rescue. 

Bravo, Heracles, brave words, said he. 

Bravo Heracles, or is Heracles a Bravo? said Dionysodorus. 

Poseidon, said Ctesippus, what awful distinctions. I will have no 
more of them; the pair are invincible. 

Then, my dear Crito, there was universal applause of the speakers 
and their words, and what with laughing and clapping of hands and 
rejoicings the two men were quite overpowered; for hitherto their 
partisans only had cheered at each successive hit, but now the whole 
company shouted with delight until the columns of the Lyceum 
returned the sound, seeming to sympathize in their joy. To such a 
pitch was I affected myself, that I made a speech, in which I 
acknowledged that I had never seen the like of their wisdom; I was 
their devoted servant, and fell to praising and admiring of them. What 
marvellous dexterity of wit, I said, enabled you to acquire this great 
perfection in such a short time? There is much, indeed, to admire in 
your words, Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, but there is nothing that I 
admire more than your magnanimous disregard of any opinion-whether 

of the many, or of the grave and reverend seigniors-you regard only 
those who are like yourselves. And I do verily believe that there 
are few who are like you, and who would approve of such arguments; the 
majority of mankind are so ignorant of their value, that they would be 
more ashamed of employing them in the refutation of others than of 
being refuted by them. I must further express my approval of your kind 
and public-spirited denial of all differences, whether of good and 
evil, white or black, or any other; the result of which is that, as 
you say, every mouth is sewn up, not excepting your own, which 
graciously follows the example of others; and thus all ground of 
offence is taken away. But what appears to me to be more than all 
is, that this art and invention of yours has been so admirably 
contrived by you, that in a very short time it can be imparted to 
any one. I observed that Ctesippus learned to imitate you in no 
time. Now this quickness of attainment is an excellent thing; but at 
the same time I would advise you not to have any more public 
entertainments; there is a danger that men may undervalue an art which 
they have so easy an opportunity of acquiring; the exhibition would be 
best of all, if the discussion were confined to your two selves; but 
if there must be an audience, let him only be present who is willing 
to pay a handsome fee; -you should be careful of this; -and if you are 
wise, you will also bid your disciples discourse with no man but you 
and themselves. For only what is rare is valuable; and "water," which, 
as Pindar says, is the "best of all things," is also the cheapest. And 
now I have only to request that you will receive Cleinias and me among 
your pupils . 

Such was the discussion, Crito; and after a few more words had 
passed between us we went away. I hope that you will come to them with 
me, since they say that they are able to teach any one who will give 
them money; no age or want of capacity is an impediment. And I must 
repeat one thing which they said, for your especial benefit, -that 
the learning of their art did not at all interfere with the business 
of money-making. 

Cri . Truly, Socrates, though I am curious and ready to learn, yet 
I fear that I am not like minded with Euthydemus, but one of the other 
sort, who, as you were saying, would rather be refuted by such 
arguments than use them in refutation of others. And though I may 
appear ridiculous in venturing to advise you, I think that you may 
as well hear what was said to me by a man of very considerable 
pretensions-he was a professor of legal oratory-who came away from you 
while I was walking up and down. "Crito," said he to me, "are you 
giving no attention to these wise men?" "No, indeed," I said to him; 
"I could not get within hearing of them-there was such a crowd." 
"You would have heard something worth hearing if you had." "What was 
that?" I said. "You would have heard the greatest masters of the art 
of rhetoric discoursing." "And what did you think of them?" I said. 
"What did I think of them?" he said : -"theirs was the sort of discourse 
which anybody might hear from men who were playing the fool, and 
making much ado about nothing. "That was the expression which he used. 
"Surely," I said, "philosophy is a charming thing." "Charming!" he 
said; "what simplicity! philosophy is nought; and I think that if 
you had been present you would have been ashamed of your friend-his 
conduct was so very strange in placing himself at the mercy of men who 
care not what they say, and fasten upon every word. And these, as I 
was telling you, are supposed to be the most eminent professors of 
their time. But the truth is, Crito, that the study itself and the men 
themselves are utterly mean and ridiculous." Now censure of the 
pursuit, Socrates, whether coming from him or from others, appears 
to me to be undeserved; but as to the impropriety of holding a 
public discussion with such men, there, I confess that, in my opinion, 
he was in the right. 

Soc. Crito, they are marvellous men; but what was I going to 
say? First of all let me know; -What manner of man was he who came up 
to you and censured philosophy; was he an orator who himself practises 

in the courts, or an instructor of orators, who makes the speeches 
with which they do battle? 

Cri . He was certainly not an orator, and I doubt whether he had ever 
been into court; but they say that he knows the business, and is a 
clever man, and composes wonderful speeches. 

Soc. Now I understand, Crito; he is one of an amphibious class, whom 
I was on the point of mentioning-one of those whom Prodicus 
describes as on the border-ground between philosophers and 
statesmen-they think that they are the wisest of all men, and that 
they are generally esteemed the wisest; nothing but the rivalry of the 
philosophers stands in their way; and they are of the opinion that 
if they can prove the philosophers to be good for nothing, no one will 
dispute their title to the palm of wisdom, for that they are 
themselves really the wisest, although they are apt to be mauled by 
Euthydemus and his friends, when they get hold of them in 
conversation. This opinion which they entertain of their own wisdom is 
very natural; for they have a certain amount of philosophy, and a 
certain amount of political wisdom; there is reason in what they 
say, for they argue that they have just enough of both, and so they 
keep out-of the way all risks and conflicts and reap the fruits of 
their wisdom. 

Cri. What do you say of them, Socrates? There is certainly something 
specious in that notion of theirs. 

Soc. Yes, Crito, there is more speciousness than truth; they 
cannot be made to understand the nature of intermediates. For all 
persons or things, which are intermediate between two other things, 
and participate in both of them-if one of these two things is good and 
the other evil, are better than the one and worse than the other; 
but if they are in a mean between two good things which do not tend to 
the same end, they fall short of either of their component elements in 
the attainment of their ends. Only in the case when the two 
component elements which do not tend to the same end are evil is the 
participant better than either. Now, if philosophy and political 
action are both good, but tend to different ends, and they participate 
in both, and are in a mean between them, then they are talking 
nonsense, for they are worse than either; or, if the one be good and 
the other evil, they are better than the one and worse than the other; 
only on the supposition that they are both evil could there be any 
truth in what they say. I do not think that they will admit that their 
two pursuits are either wholly or partly evil; but the truth is, 
that these philosopher-politicians who aim at both fall short of 
both in the attainment of their respective ends, and are really third, 
although they would like to stand first. There is no need, however, to 
be angry at this ambition of theirs-which may be forgiven; for every 
man ought to be loved who says and manfully pursues and works out 
anything which is at all like wisdom: at the same time we shall do 
well to see them as they really are. 

Cri. I have often told you, Socrates, that I am in a constant 
difficulty about my two sons. What am I to do with them? There is no 
hurry about the younger one, who is only a child; but the other, 
Critobulus, is getting on, and needs some one who will improve him. 
I cannot help thinking, when I hear you talk, that there is a sort 
of madness in many of our anxieties about our children: -in the first 
place, about marrying a wife of good family to be the mother of 
them, and then about heaping up money for them-and yet taking no 
care about their education. But then again, when I contemplate any 
of those who pretend to educate others, I am amazed. To me, if I am to 
confess the truth, they all seem to be such outrageous beings: so that 
I do not know how I can advise the youth to study philosophy. 

Soc. Dear Crito, do you not know that in every profession the 
inferior sort are numerous and good for nothing, and the good are 
few and beyond all price: for example, are not gymnastic and 
rhetoric and money-making and the art of the general, noble arts? 

Cri. Certainly they are, in my judgment. 

Soc. Well, and do you not see that in each of these arts the many 
are ridiculous performers? 

Cri . Yes, indeed, that is very true. 

Soc. And will you on this account shun all these pursuits yourself 
and refuse to allow them to your son? 

Cri. That would not be reasonable, Socrates. 

Soc. Do you then be reasonable, Crito, and do not mind whether the 
teachers of philosophy are good or bad, but think only of philosophy 
herself. Try and examine her well and truly, and if she be evil seek 
to turn away all men from her, and not your sons only; but if she be 
what I believe that she is, then follow her and serve her, you and 
your house, as the saying is, and be of good cheer.