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Full text of "Ancient Classic Texts before 400 B.C."

380 BC 
GORGIAS 
by Plato 
translated by Benjamin Jowett 
GORGIAS 

PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: CALLICLES; SOCRATES; CHAEREPHON; GORGIAS; 
POLUS 

Scene: The house of Callicles. 

Callicles. The wise man, as the proverb says, is late for a fray, 
but not for a feast. 

Socrates. And are we late for a feast? 

Cal . Yes, and a delightful feast; for Gorgias has just been 
exhibiting to us many fine things. 

Soc. It is not my fault, Callicles; our friend Chaerephon is to 
blame; for he would keep us loitering in the Agora. 

Chaerephon. Never mind, Socrates; the misfortune of which I have 
been the cause I will also repair; for Gorgias is a friend of mine, 
and I will make him give the exhibition again either now, or, if you 
prefer, at some other time. 

Cal. What is the matter, Chaerephon-does Socrates want to hear 
Gorgias? 

Chaer. Yes, that was our intention in coming. 

Cal. Come into my house, then; for Gorgias is staying with me, and 
he shall exhibit to you. 

Soc. Very good, Callicles; but will he answer our questions? for I 
want to hear from him what is the nature of his art, and what it is 
which he professes and teaches; he may, as you [Chaerephon] suggest, 
defer the exhibition to some other time. 

Cal. There is nothing like asking him, Socrates; and indeed to 
answer questions is a part of his exhibition, for he was saying only 
just now, that any one in my house might put any question to him, 
and that he would answer. 

Soc. How fortunate! will you ask him, Chaerephon-? 

Chaer. What shall I ask him? 

Soc. Ask him who he is. 

Chaer. What do you mean? 

Soc. I mean such a question as would elicit from him, if he had been 
a maker of shoes, the answer that he is a cobbler. Do you understand? 

Chaer. I understand, and will ask him: Tell me, Gorgias, is our 
friend Callicles right in saying that you undertake to answer any 
questions which you are asked? 

Gorgias. Quite right, Chaerephon: I was saying as much only just 
now; and I may add, that many years have elapsed since any one has 
asked me a new one. 

Chaer. Then you must be very ready, Gorgias. 

Gor. Of that, Chaerephon, you can make trial. 

Polus . Yes, indeed, and if you like, Chaerephon, you may make 
trial of me too, for I think that Gorgias, who has been talking a long 
time, is tired. 

Chaer. And do you, Polus, think that you can answer better than 
Gorgias? 

Pol. What does that matter if I answer well enough for you? 

Chaer. Not at all: -and you shall answer if you like. 

Pol. Ask:- 

Chaer. My question is this: If Gorgias had the skill of his 
brother Herodicus, what ought we to call him? Ought he not to have the 
name which is given to his brother? 

Pol . Certainly . 

Chaer. Then we should be right in calling him a physician? 

Pol. Yes. 

Chaer. And if he had the skill of Aristophon the son of Aglaophon, 
or of his brother Polygnotus, what ought we to call him? 



Pol. Clearly, a painter. 

Chaer. But now what shall we call him-what is the art in which he is 
skilled . 

Pol. Chaerephon, there are many arts among mankind which are 
experimental, and have their origin in experience, for experience 
makes the days of men to proceed according to art, and inexperience 
according to chance, and different persons in different ways are 
proficient in different arts, and the best persons in the best arts. 
And our friend Gorgias is one of the best, and the art in which he 
is a proficient is the noblest. 

Soc. Polus has been taught how to make a capital speech, Gorgias; 
but he is not fulfilling the promise which he made to Chaerephon. 

Gor. What do you mean, Socrates? 

Soc. I mean that he has not exactly answered the question which he 
was asked. 

Gor. Then why not ask him yourself? 

Soc. But I would much rather ask you, if you are disposed to answer: 
for I see, from the few words which Polus has uttered, that he has 
attended more to the art which is called rhetoric than to dialectic. 

Pol. What makes you say so, Socrates? 

Soc. Because, Polus, when Chaerephon asked you what was the art 
which Gorgias knows, you praised it as if you were answering some 
one who found fault with it, but you never said what the art was. 

Pol. Why, did I not say that it was the noblest of arts? 

Soc. Yes, indeed, but that was no answer to the question: nobody 
asked what was the quality, but what was the nature, of the art, and 
by what name we were to describe Gorgias. And I would still beg you 
briefly and clearly, as you answered Chaerephon when he asked you at 
first, to say what this art is, and what we ought to call Gorgias: 
Or rather, Gorgias, let me turn to you, and ask the same question what 
are we to call you, and what is the art which you profess? 

Gor. Rhetoric, Socrates, is my art. 

Soc. Then I am to call you a rhetorician? 

Gor. Yes, Socrates, and a good one too, if you would call me that 
which, in Homeric language, "I boast myself to be." 

Soc. I should wish to do so. 

Gor. Then pray do. 

Soc. And are we to say that you are able to make other men 
rhetoricians? 

Gor. Yes, that is exactly what I profess to make them, not only at 
Athens, but in all places. 

Soc. And will you continue to ask and answer questions, Gorgias, 
as we are at present doing and reserve for another occasion the longer 
mode of speech which Polus was attempting? Will you keep your promise, 
and answer shortly the questions which are asked of you? 

Gor. Some answers, Socrates, are of necessity longer; but I will 
do my best to make them as short as possible; for a part of my 
profession is that I can be as short as any one. 

Soc. That is what is wanted, Gorgias; exhibit the shorter method 
now, and the longer one at some other time. 

Gor. Well, I will; and you will certainly say, that you never 
heard a man use fewer words . 

Soc. Very good then; as you profess to be a rhetorician, and a maker 
of rhetoricians, let me ask you, with what is rhetoric concerned: I 
might ask with what is weaving concerned, and you would reply (would 
you not?), with the making of garments? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. And music is concerned with the composition of melodies? 

Gor. It is. 

Soc. By Here, Gorgias, I admire the surpassing brevity of your 
answers . 

Gor. Yes, Socrates, I do think myself good at that. 

Soc. I am glad to hear it; answer me in like manner about 
rhetoric: with what is rhetoric concerned? 



Gor. With discourse. 

Soc. What sort of discourse, Gorgias?-such discourse as would 
teach the sick under what treatment they might get well? 

Gor. No. 

Soc. Then rhetoric does not treat of all kinds of discourse? 

Gor. Certainly not. 

Soc. And yet rhetoric makes men able to speak? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. And to understand that about which they speak? 

Gor. Of course. 

Soc. But does not the art of medicine, which we were just now 
mentioning, also make men able to understand and speak about the sick? 

Gor. Certainly. 

Soc. Then medicine also treats of discourse? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. Of discourse concerning diseases? 

Gor. Just so. 

Soc. And does not gymnastic also treat of discourse concerning the 
good or evil condition of the body? 

Gor. Very true. 

Soc. And the same, Gorgias, is true of the other arts: -all of them 
treat of discourse concerning the subjects with which they severally 
have to do . 

Gor. Clearly. 

Soc. Then why, if you call rhetoric the art which treats of 
discourse, and all the other arts treat of discourse, do you not 
call them arts of rhetoric? 

Gor. Because, Socrates, the knowledge of the other arts has only 
to do with some sort of external action, as of the hand; but there 
is no such action of the hand in rhetoric which works and takes effect 
only through the medium of discourse. And therefore I am justified 
in saying that rhetoric treats of discourse. 

Soc. I am not sure whether I entirely understand you, but I dare say 
I shall soon know better; please to answer me a question : -you would 
allow that there are arts? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. As to the arts generally, they are for the most part 
concerned with doing, and require little or no speaking; in 
painting, and statuary, and many other arts, the work may proceed in 
silence; and of such arts I suppose you would say that they do not 
come within the province of rhetoric. 

Gor. You perfectly conceive my meaning, Socrates. 

Soc. But there are other arts which work wholly through the medium 
of language, and require either no action or very little, as, for 
example, the arts of arithmetic, of calculation, of geometry, and of 
playing draughts; in some of these speech is pretty nearly 
co-extensive with action, but in most of them the verbal element is 
greater-they depend wholly on words for their efficacy and power: 
and I take your meaning to be that rhetoric is an art of this latter 
sort? 

Gor. Exactly. 

Soc. And yet I do not believe that you really mean to call any of 
these arts rhetoric; although the precise expression which you used 
was, that rhetoric is an art which works and takes effect only through 
the medium of discourse; and an adversary who wished to be captious 
might say, "And so, Gorgias, you call arithmetic rhetoric." But I do 
not think that you really call arithmetic rhetoric any more than 
geometry would be so called by you. 

Gor. You are quite right, Socrates, in your apprehension of my 
meaning . 

Soc. Well, then, let me now have the rest of my answer : -seeing 
that rhetoric is one of those arts which works mainly by the use of 
words, and there are other arts which also use words, tell me what 
is that quality in words with which rhetoric is concerned : -Suppose 



that a person asks me about some of the arts which I was mentioning 
just now; he might say, "Socrates, what is arithmetic?" and I should 
reply to him, as you replied to me, that arithmetic is one of those 
arts which take effect through words. And then he would proceed to 
ask: "Words about what?" and I should reply, Words about and even 
numbers, and how many there are of each. And if he asked again: 
"What is the art of calculation?" I should say, That also is one of 
the arts which is concerned wholly with words. And if he further said, 
"Concerned with what?" I should say, like the clerks in the 
assembly, "as aforesaid" of arithmetic, but with a difference, the 
difference being that the art of calculation considers not only the 
quantities of odd and even numbers, but also their numerical relations 
to themselves and to one another. And suppose, again, I were to say 
that astronomy is only word-he would ask, "Words about what, 
Socrates?" and I should answer, that astronomy tells us about the 
motions of the stars and sun and moon, and their relative swiftness. 

Gor. You would be quite right, Socrates. 

Soc. And now let us have from you, Gorgias, the truth about 
rhetoric: which you would admit (would you not?) to be one of those 
arts which act always and fulfil all their ends through the medium 
of words? 

Gor. True. 

Soc. Words which do what? I should ask. To what class of things do 
the words which rhetoric uses relate? 

Gor. To the greatest, Socrates, and the best of human things. 

Soc. That again, Gorgias is ambiguous; I am still in the dark: for 
which are the greatest and best of human things? I dare say that you 
have heard men singing at feasts the old drinking song, in which the 
singers enumerate the goods of life, first health, beauty next, 
thirdly, as the writer of the song says, wealth honesty obtained. 

Gor. Yes, I know the song; but what is your drift? 

Soc. I mean to say, that the producers of those things which the 
author of the song praises, that is to say, the physician, the 
trainer, the money-maker, will at once come to you, and first the 
physician will say: "0 Socrates, Gorgias is deceiving you, for my 
art is concerned with the greatest good of men and not his." And 
when I ask, Who are you? he will reply, "I am a physician." What do 
you mean? I shall say. Do you mean that your art produces the greatest 
good? "Certainly," he will answer, "for is not health the greatest 
good? What greater good can men have, Socrates?" And after him the 
trainer will come and say, "I too, Socrates, shall be greatly 
surprised if Gorgias can show more good of his art than I can show 
of mine." To him again I shall say, Who are you, honest friend, and 
what is your business? "I am a trainer," he will reply, "and my 
business is to make men beautiful and strong in body." When I have 
done with the trainer, there arrives the money-maker, and he, as I 
expect, utterly despise them all. "Consider Socrates," he will say, 
"whether Gorgias or any one-else can produce any greater good than 
wealth." Well, you and I say to him, and are you a creator of 
wealth? "Yes," he replies. And who are you? "A money-maker." And do 
you consider wealth to be the greatest good of man? "Of course, " 
will be his reply. And we shall rejoin: Yes; but our friend Gorgias 
contends that his art produces a greater good than yours. And then 
he will be sure to go on and ask, "What good? Let Gorgias answer." Now 
I want you, Gorgias, to imagine that this question is asked of you 
by them and by me; What is that which, as you say, is the greatest 
good of man, and of which you are the creator? Answer us. 

Gor. That good, Socrates, which is truly the greatest, being that 
which gives to men freedom in their own persons, and to individuals 
the power of ruling over others in their several states. 

Soc. And what would you consider this to be? 

Gor. What is there greater than the word which persuades the 
judges in the courts, or the senators in the council, or the 
citizens in the assembly, or at any other political meeting?-if you 



have the power of uttering this word, you will have the physician your 
slave, and the trainer your slave, and the money-maker of whom you 
talk will be found to gather treasures, not for himself, but for you 
who are able to speak and to persuade the multitude. 

Soc. Now I think, Gorgias, that you have very accurately explained 
what you conceive to be the art of rhetoric; and you mean to say, if I 
am not mistaken, that rhetoric is the artificer of persuasion, 
having this and no other business, and that this is her crown and end. 
Do you know any other effect of rhetoric over and above that of 
producing persuasion? 

Gor. No: the definition seems to me very fair, Socrates; for 
persuasion is the chief end of rhetoric. 

Soc. Then hear me, Gorgias, for I am quite sure that if there ever 
was a man who-entered on the discussion of a matter from a pure love 
of knowing the truth, I am such a one, and I should say the same of 
you . 

Gor. What is coming, Socrates? 

Soc. I will tell you: I am very well aware that do not know what, 
according to you, is the exact nature, or what are the topics of 
that persuasion of which you speak, and which is given by rhetoric; 
although I have a suspicion about both the one and the other. And I am 
going to ask-what is this power of persuasion which is given by 
rhetoric, and about what? But why, if I have a suspicion, do I ask 
instead of telling you? Not for your sake, but in order that the 
argument may proceed in such a manner as is most likely to set forth 
the truth. And I would have you observe, that I am right in asking 
this further question: If I asked, "What sort of a painter is Zeuxis?" 
and you said, "The painter of figures," should I not be right in 
asking, What kind of figures, and where do you find them?" 

Gor. Certainly. 

Soc. And the reason for asking this second question would be, that 
there are other painters besides, who paint many other figures? 

Gor. True. 

Soc. But if there had been no one but Zeuxis who painted them, 
then you would have answered very well? 

Gor. Quite so. 

Soc. Now I was it to know about rhetoric in the same way; -is 
rhetoric the only art which brings persuasion, or do other arts have 
the same effect? I mean to say-Does he who teaches anything persuade 
men of that which he teaches or not? 

Gor. He persuades, Socrates, -there can be no mistake about that. 

Soc. Again, if we take the arts of which we were just now 
speaking: -do not arithmetic and the arithmeticians teach us the 
properties of number? 

Gor. Certainly. 

Soc. And therefore persuade us of them? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. Then arithmetic as well as rhetoric is an artificer of 
persuasion? 

Gor. Clearly. 

Soc. And if any one asks us what sort of persuasion, and about 
what, -we shall answer, persuasion which teaches the quantity of odd 
and even; and we shall be able to show that all the other arts of 
which we were just now speaking are artificers of persuasion, and of 
what sort, and about what. 

Gor. Very true. 

Soc. Then rhetoric is not the only artificer of persuasion? 

Gor. True. 

Soc. Seeing, then, that not only rhetoric works by persuasion, but 
that other arts do the same, as in the case of the painter, a question 
has arisen which is a very fair one: Of what persuasion is rhetoric 
the artificer, and about what?-is not that a fair way of putting the 
question? 

Gor. I think so. 



Soc. Then, if you approve the question, Gorgias, what is the answer? 

Gor. I answer, Socrates, that rhetoric is the art of persuasion in 
courts of law and other assemblies, as I was just now saying, and 
about the just and unjust. 

Soc. And that, Gorgias, was what I was suspecting to be your notion; 
yet I would not have you wonder if by-and-by I am found repeating a 
seemingly plain question; for I ask not in order to confute you, but 
as I was saying that the argument may proceed consecutively, and 
that we may not get the habit of anticipating and suspecting the 
meaning of one another's words; I would have you develop your own 
views in your own way, whatever may be your hypothesis. 

Gor. I think that you are quite right, Socrates. 

Soc. Then let me raise another question; there is such a thing as 
"having learned"? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. And there is also "having believed"? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. And is the "having learned" the same "having believed," and are 
learning and belief the same things? 

Gor. In my judgment, Socrates, they are not the same. 

Soc. And your judgment is right, as you may ascertain in this 
way:-If a person were to say to you, "Is there, Gorgias, a false 
belief as well as a true?" -you would reply, if I am not mistaken, 
that there is . 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. Well, but is there a false knowledge as well as a true? 

Gor. No. 

Soc. No, indeed; and this again proves that knowledge and belief 
differ . 

Gor. Very true. 

Soc. And yet those who have learned as well as those who have 
believed are persuaded? 

Gor. Just so. 

Soc. Shall we then assume two sorts of persuasion, -one which is 
the source of belief without knowledge, as the other is of knowledge? 

Gor. By all means. 

Soc. And which sort of persuasion does rhetoric create in courts 
of law and other assemblies about the just and unjust, the sort of 
persuasion which gives belief without knowledge, or that which gives 
knowledge? 

Gor. Clearly, Socrates, that which only gives belief. 

Soc. Then rhetoric, as would appear, is the artificer of a 
persuasion which creates belief about the just and unjust, but gives 
no instruction about them? 

Gor. True. 

Soc. And the rhetorician does not instruct the courts of law or 
other assemblies about things just and unjust, but he creates belief 
about them; for no one can be supposed to instruct such a vast 
multitude about such high matters in a short time? 

Gor. Certainly not. 

Soc. Come, then, and let us see what we really mean about 
rhetoric; for I do not know what my own meaning is as yet. When the 
assembly meets to elect a physician or a shipwright or any other 
craftsman, will the rhetorician be taken into counsel? Surely not. For 
at every election he ought to be chosen who is most skilled; and, 
again, when walls have to be built or harbours or docks to be 
constructed, not the rhetorician but the master workman will advise; 
or when generals have to be chosen and an order of battle arranged, or 
a proposition taken, then the military will advise and not the 
rhetoricians: what do you say, Gorgias? Since you profess to be a 
rhetorician and a maker of rhetoricians, I cannot do better than learn 
the nature of your art from you. And here let me assure you that I 
have your interest in view as well as my own. For likely enough some 
one or other of the young men present might desire to become your 



pupil, and in fact I see some, and a good many too, who have this 
wish, but they would be too modest to question you. And therefore when 
you are interrogated by me, I would have you imagine that you are 
interrogated by them. "What is the use of coming to you, Gorgias? they 
will say about what will you teach us to advise the state?-about the 
just and unjust only, or about those other things also which 
Socrates has just mentioned? How will you answer them? 

Gor. I like your way of leading us on, Socrates, and I will 
endeavour to reveal to you the whole nature of rhetoric. You must have 
heard, I think, that the docks and the walls of the Athenians and 
the plan of the harbour were devised in accordance with the 
counsels, partly of Themistocles, and partly of Pericles, and not at 
the suggestion of the builders. 

Soc. Such is the tradition, Gorgias, about Themistocles; and I 
myself heard the speech of Pericles when he advised us about the 
middle wall . 

Gor. And you will observe, Socrates, that when a decision has to 
be given in such matters the rhetoricians are the advisers; they are 
the men who win their point. 

Soc. I had that in my admiring mind, Gorgias, when I asked what is 
the nature of rhetoric, which always appears to me, when I look at the 
matter in this way, to be a marvel of greatness. 

Gor. A marvel, indeed, Socrates, if you only knew how rhetoric 
comprehends and holds under her sway all the inferior arts. Let me 
offer you a striking example of this. On several occasions I have been 
with my brother Herodicus or some other physician to see one of his 
patients, who would not allow the physician to give him medicine, or 
apply a knife or hot iron to him; and I have persuaded him to do for 
me what he would not do for the physician just by the use of rhetoric. 
And I say that if a rhetorician and a physician were to go to any 
city, and had there to argue in the Ecclesia or any other assembly 
as to which of them should be elected state-physician, the physician 
would have no chance; but he who could speak would be chosen if he 
wished; and in a contest with a man of any other profession the 
rhetorician more than any one would have the power of getting 
himself chosen, for he can speak more persuasively to the multitude 
than any of them, and on any subject. Such is the nature and power 
of the art of rhetoric And yet, Socrates, rhetoric should be used like 
any other competitive art, not against everybody-the rhetorician ought 
not to abuse his strength any more than a pugilist or pancratiast or 
other master of fence; because he has powers which are more than a 
match either for friend or enemy, he ought not therefore to strike, 
stab, or slay his friends. Suppose a man to have been trained in the 
palestra and to be a skilful boxer-he in the fulness of his strength 
goes and strikes his father or mother or one of his familiars or 
friends; but that is no reason why the trainers or fencing-masters 
should be held in detestation or banished from the city-surely not. 
For they taught their art for a good purpose, to be used against 
enemies and evil-doers, in self-defence not in aggression, and 
others have perverted their instructions, and turned to a bad use 
their own strength and skill. But not on this account are the teachers 
bad, neither is the art in fault, or bad in itself; I should rather 
say that those who make a bad use of the art are to blame. And the 
same argument holds good of rhetoric; for the rhetorician can speak 
against all men and upon any subject-in short, he can persuade the 
multitude better than any other man of anything which he pleases, 
but he should not therefore seek to defraud the physician or any other 
artist of his reputation merely because he has the power; he ought 
to use rhetoric fairly, as he would also use his athletic powers. 
And if after having become a rhetorician he makes a bad use of his 
strength and skill, his instructor surely ought not on that account to 
be held in detestation or banished. For he was intended by his teacher 
to make a good use of his instructions, but he abuses them. And 
therefore he is the person who ought to be held in detestation, 



am 



banished, and put to death, and not his instructor. 

Soc. You, Gorgias, like myself, have had great experience of 
disputations, and you must have observed, I think, that they do not 
always terminate in mutual edification, or in the definition by either 
party of the subjects which they are discussing; but disagreements are 
apt to arise-somebody says that another has not spoken truly or 
clearly; and then they get into a passion and begin to quarrel, both 
parties conceiving that their opponents are arguing from personal 
feeling only and jealousy of themselves, not from any interest in 
the question at issue. And sometimes they will go on abusing one 
another until the company at last are quite vexed at themselves for 
ever listening to such fellows. Why do I say this? Why, because I 
cannot help feeling that you are now saying what is not quite 
consistent or accordant with what you were saying at first about 
rhetoric. And I am afraid to point this out to you, lest you should 
think that I have some animosity against you, and that I speak, not 
for the sake of discovering the truth, but from jealousy of you. Now 
if you are one of my sort, I should like to cross-examine you, but 
if not I will let you alone. And what is my sort? you will ask. I 
one of those who are very willing to be refuted if I say anything 
which is not true, and very willing to refute any one else who says 
what is not true, and quite as ready to be refuted as to refute-I 
for I hold that this is the greater gain of the two, just as the 
gain is greater of being cured of a very great evil than of curing 
another. For I imagine that there is no evil which a man can endure so 
great as an erroneous opinion about the matters of which we are 
speaking and if you claim to be one of my sort, let us have the 
discussion out, but if you would rather have done, no matter-let us 
make an end of it. 

Gor. I should say, Socrates, that I am quite the man whom you 
indicate; but, perhaps, we ought to consider the audience, for, before 
you came, I had already given a long exhibition, and if we proceed the 
argument may run on to a great length. And therefore I think that we 
should consider whether we, may not be detaining some part of the 
company when they are wanting to do something else. 

Chaer. You hear the audience cheering, Gorgias and Socrates, which 
shows their desire to listen to you; and for myself, Heaven forbid 
that I should have any business on hand which would take me Away 
from a discussion so interesting and so ably maintained. 

Cal . By the gods, Chaerephon, although I have been present at many 
discussions, I doubt whether I was ever so much delighted before, 
and therefore if you go on discoursing all day I shall be the better 
pleased. 

Soc. I may truly say, Callicles, that I am willing, if Gorgias is. 

Gor. After all this, Socrates, I should be disgraced if I refused, 
especially as I have promised to answer all comers; in accordance with 
the wishes of the company, them, do you begin, and ask of me any 
question which you like. 

Soc. Let me tell you then, Gorgias, what surprises me in your words; 
though I dare say that you may be right, and I may have understood 
your meaning. You say that you can make any man, who will learn of 
you, a rhetorician? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. Do you mean that you will teach him to gain the ears of the 
multitude on any subject, and this not by instruction but by 
persuasion? 

Gor. Quite so. 

Soc. You were saying, in fact, that the rhetorician will have, 
greater powers of persuasion than the physician even in a matter of 
health? 

Gor. Yes, with the multitude-that is. 

Soc. You mean to say, with the ignorant; for with those who know 
he cannot be supposed to have greater powers of persuasion. 

Gor. Very true. 



Soc. But if he is to have more power of persuasion than the 
physician, he will have greater power than he who knows? 

Gor. Certainly. 

Soc. Although he is not a physician : -is he? 

Gor. No. 

Soc. And he who is not a physician must, obviously, be ignorant of 
what the physician knows. 

Gor. Clearly. 

Soc. Then, when the rhetorician is more persuasive than the 
physician, the ignorant is more persuasive with the ignorant than he 
who has knowledge?-is not that the inference? 

Gor. In the case supposed : -Yes . 

Soc. And the same holds of the relation of rhetoric to all the other 
arts; the rhetorician need not know the truth about things; he has 
only to discover some way of persuading the ignorant that he has 
more knowledge than those who know? 

Gor. Yes, Socrates, and is not this a great comfort?-not to have 
learned the other arts, but the art of rhetoric only, and yet to be in 
no way inferior to the professors of them? 

Soc. Whether the rhetorician is or not inferior on this account is a 
question which we will hereafter examine if the enquiry is likely to 
be of any service to us; but I would rather begin by asking, whether 
he is as ignorant of the just and unjust, base and honourable, good 
and evil, as he is of medicine and the other arts; I mean to say, does 
he really know anything of what is good and evil, base or 
honourable, just or unjust in them; or has he only a way with the 
ignorant of persuading them that he not knowing is to be esteemed to 
know more about these things than some, one else who knows? Or must 
the pupil know these things and come to you knowing them before he can 
acquire the art of rhetoric? If he is ignorant, you who are the 
teacher of rhetoric will not teach him-it is not your business; but 
you will make him seem to the multitude to know them, when he does not 
know them; and seem to be a good man, when he is not. Or will you be 
unable to teach him rhetoric at all, unless he knows the truth of 
these things first? What is to be said about all this? By heavens, 
Gorgias, I wish that you would reveal to me the power of rhetoric, 
as you were saying that you would. 

Gor. Well, Socrates, I suppose that if the pupil does chance not 
to know them, he will have to learn of me these things as well. 

Soc. Say no more, for there you are right; and so he whom you make a 
rhetorician must either know the nature of the just and unjust 
already, or he must be taught by you. 

Gor. Certainly. 

Soc. Well, and is not he who has learned carpentering a carpenter? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. And he who has learned music a musician? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. And he who has learned medicine is a physician, in like manner? 
He who has learned anything whatever is that which his knowledge makes 
him . 

Gor. Certainly. 

Soc. And in the same way, he who has learned what is just is just? 

Gor. To be sure. 

Soc. And he who is just may be supposed to do what is just? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. And must not the just man always desire to do what is just? 

Gor. That is clearly the inference. 

Soc. Surely, then, the just man will never consent to do injustice? 

Gor. Certainly not. 

Soc. And according to the argument the rhetorician must be a just 
man? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. And will therefore never be willing to do injustice? 

Gor. Clearly not. 



Soc. But do you remember saying just now that the trainer is not 
to be accused or banished if the pugilist makes a wrong use of his 
pugilistic art; and in like manner, if the rhetorician makes a bad and 
unjust use of rhetoric, that is not to be laid to the charge of his 
teacher, who is not to be banished, but the wrong-doer himself who 
made a bad use of his rhetoric-he is to be banished-was not that said? 

Gor. Yes, it was. 

Soc. But now we are affirming that the aforesaid rhetorician will 
never have done injustice at all? 

Gor. True. 

Soc. And at the very outset, Gorgias, it was said that rhetoric 
treated of discourse, not [like arithmetic] about odd and even, but 
about just and unjust? Was not this said? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. I was thinking at the time, when I heard you saying so, that 
rhetoric, which is always discoursing about justice, could not 
possibly be an unjust thing. But when you added, shortly afterwards, 
that the rhetorician might make a bad use of rhetoric I noted with 
surprise the inconsistency into which you had fallen; and I said, that 
if you thought, as I did, that there was a gain in being refuted, 
there would be an advantage in going on with the question, but if not, 
I would leave off. And in the course of our investigations, as you 
will see yourself, the rhetorician has been acknowledged to be 
incapable of making an unjust use of rhetoric, or of willingness to do 
injustice. By the dog, Gorgias, there will be a great deal of 
discussion, before we get at the truth of all this. 

Polus . And do even you, Socrates, seriously believe what you are now 
saying about rhetoric? What! because Gorgias was ashamed to deny 
that the rhetorician knew the just and the honourable and the good, 
and admitted that to any one who came to him ignorant of them he could 
teach them, and then out of this admission there arose a 
contradiction-the thing which you dearly love, and to which not he, 
but you, brought the argument by your captious questions- [do you 
seriously believe that there is any truth in all this?] For will any 
one ever acknowledge that he does not know, or cannot teach, the 
nature of justice? The truth is, that there is great want of manners 
in bringing the argument to such a pass. 

Soc. Illustrious Polus, the reason why we provide ourselves with 
friends and children is, that when we get old and stumble, a younger 
generation may be at hand to set us on our legs again in our words and 
in our actions: and now, if I and Gorgias are stumbling, here are 
you who should raise us up; and I for my part engage to retract any 
error into which you may think that I have fallen-upon one condition: 

Pol. What condition? 

Soc. That you contract, Polus, the prolixity of speech in which 
you indulged at first. 

Pol. What! do you mean that I may not use as many words as I please? 

Soc. Only to think, my friend, that having come on a visit to 
Athens, which is the most free-spoken state in Hellas, you when you 
got there, and you alone, should be deprived of the power of 
speech-that would be hard indeed. But then consider my case: -shall not 
I be very hardly used, if, when you are making a long oration, and 
refusing to answer what you are asked, I am compelled to stay and 
listen to you, and may not go away? I say rather, if you have a real 
interest in the argument, or, to repeat my former expression, have any 
desire to set it on its legs, take back any statement which you 
please; and in your turn ask and answer, like myself and 
Gorgias-ref ute and be refuted: for I suppose that you would claim to 
know what Gorgias knows-would you not? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And you, like him, invite any one to ask you about anything 
which he pleases, and you will know how to answer him? 

Pol . To be sure . 

Soc. And now, which will you do, ask or answer? 



Pol. I will ask; and do you answer me, Socrates, the same question 
which Gorgias, as you suppose, is unable to answer: What is rhetoric? 

Soc. Do you mean what sort of an art? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. To say the truth, Polus, it is not an art at all, in my 
opinion . 

Pol. Then what, in your opinion, is rhetoric? 

Soc. A thing which, as I was lately reading in a book of yours, 
you say that you have made an art. 

Pol. What thing? 

Soc. I should say a sort of experience. 

Pol. Does rhetoric seem to you to be an experience? 

Soc. That is my view, but you may be of another mind. 

Pol. An experience in what? 

Soc. An experience in producing a sort of delight and gratification. 

Pol. And if able to gratify others, must not rhetoric be a fine 
thing? 

Soc. What are you saying, Polus? Why do you ask me whether 
rhetoric is a fine thing or not, when I have not as yet told you 
what rhetoric is? 

Pol. Did I not hear you say that rhetoric was a sort of experience? 

Soc. Will you, who are so desirous to gratify others, afford a 
slight gratification to me? 

Pol. I will. 

Soc. Will you ask me, what sort of an art is cookery? 

Pol. What sort of an art is cookery? 

Soc. Not an art at all, Polus. 

Pol. What then? 

Soc. I should say an experience. 

Pol. In what? I wish that you would explain to me. 

Soc. An experience in producing a sort of delight and gratification, 
Polus . 

Pol. Then are cookery and rhetoric the same? 

Soc. No, they are only different parts of the same profession. 

Pol. Of what profession? 

Soc. I am afraid that the truth may seem discourteous; and I 
hesitate to answer, lest Gorgias should imagine that I am making fun 
of his own profession. For whether or no this is that art of 
rhetoric which Gorgias practises I really cannot tell: -from what he 
was just now saying, nothing appeared of what he thought of his art, 
but the rhetoric which I mean is a part of a not very creditable 
whole . 

Gor. A part of what, Socrates? Say what you mean, and never mind me. 

Soc. In my opinion then, Gorgias, the whole of which rhetoric is a 
part is not an art at all, but the habit of a bold and ready wit, 
which knows how to manage mankind: this habit I sum up under the 
word "flattery"; and it appears to me to have many other parts, one of 
which is cookery, which may seem to be an art, but, as I maintain, 
is only an experience or routine and not an art: -another part is 
rhetoric, and the art of attiring and sophistry are two others: thus 
there are four branches, and four different things answering to 
them. And Polus may ask, if he likes, for he has not as yet been 
informed, what part of flattery is rhetoric: he did not see that I had 
not yet answered him when he proceeded to ask a further question: 
Whether I do not think rhetoric a fine thing? But I shall not tell him 
whether rhetoric is a fine thing or not, until I have first 
answered, "What is rhetoric?" For that would not be right, Polus; 
but I shall be happy to answer, if you will ask me, What part of 
flattery is rhetoric? 

Pol. I will ask and do you answer? What part of flattery is 
rhetoric? 

Soc. Will you understand my answer? Rhetoric, according to my 
view, is the ghost or counterfeit of a part of politics. 

Pol. And noble or ignoble? 



Soc. Ignoble, I should say, if I am compelled to answer, for I 
call what is bad ignoble: though I doubt whether you understand what I 
was saying before. 

Gor. Indeed, Socrates, I cannot say that I understand myself. 

Soc. I do not wonder, Gorgias; for I have not as yet explained 
myself, and our friend Polus, colt by name and colt by nature, is 
apt to run away. 

Gor. Never mind him, but explain to me what you mean by saying 
that rhetoric is the counterfeit of a part of politics. 

Soc. I will try, then, to explain my notion of rhetoric, and if I am 
mistaken, my friend Polus shall refute me. We may assume the existence 
of bodies and of souls? 

Gor. Of course. 

Soc. You would further admit that there is a good condition of 
either of them? 

Gor. Yes. 

Soc. Which condition may not be really good, but good only in 
appearance? I mean to say, that there are many persons who appear to 
be in good health, and whom only a physician or trainer will discern 
at first sight not to be in good health. 

Gor. True. 

Soc. And this applies not only to the body, but also to the soul: in 
either there may be that which gives the appearance of health and 
not the reality? 

Gor. Yes, certainly. 

Soc. And now I will endeavour to explain to you more clearly what 
I mean: The soul and body being two, have two arts corresponding to 
them: there is the art of politics attending on the soul; and 
another art attending on the body, of which I know no single name, but 
which may be described as having two divisions, one of them gymnastic, 
and the other medicine. And in politics there is a legislative part, 
which answers to gymnastic, as justice does to medicine; and the two 
parts run into one another, justice having to do with the same subject 
as legislation, and medicine with the same subject as gymnastic, but 
with a difference. Now, seeing that there are these four arts, two 
attending on the body and two on the soul for their highest good; 
flattery knowing, or rather guessing their natures, has distributed 
herself into four shams or simulations of them; she puts on the 
likeness of some one or other of them, and pretends to be that which 
she simulates, and having no regard for men's highest interests, is 
ever making pleasure the bait of the unwary, and deceiving them into 
the belief that she is of the highest value to them. Cookery simulates 
the disguise of medicine, and pretends to know what food is the best 
for the body; and if the physician and the cook had to enter into a 
competition in which children were the judges, or men who had no 
more sense than children, as to which of them best understands the 
goodness or badness of food, the physician would be starved to 
death. A flattery I deem this to be and of an ignoble sort, Polus, for 
to you I am now addressing myself, because it aims at pleasure without 
any thought of the best. An art I do not call it, but only an 
experience, because it is unable to explain or to give a reason of the 
nature of its own applications. And I do not call any irrational thing 
an art; but if you dispute my words, I am prepared to argue in defence 
of them. 

Cookery, then, I maintain to be a flattery which takes the form of 
medicine; and tiring, in like manner, is a flattery which takes the 
form of gymnastic, and is knavish, false, ignoble, illiberal, 
working deceitfully by the help of lines, and colours, and enamels, 
and garments, and making men affect a spurious beauty to the neglect 
of the true beauty which is given by gymnastic. 

I would rather not be tedious, and therefore I will only say, 
after the manner of the geometricians (for I think that by this time 
you will be able to follow) 



astiring : gymnastic :: cookery : medicine; 
or rather, 

astiring : gymnastic :: sophistry : legislation; 
and 

as cookery : medicine :: rhetoric : justice. 

And this, I say, is the natural difference between the rhetorician and 
the sophist, but by reason of their near connection, they are apt to 
be jumbled up together; neither do they know what to make of 
themselves, nor do other men know what to make of them. For if the 
body presided over itself, and were not under the guidance of the 
soul, and the soul did not discern and discriminate between cookery 
and medicine, but the body was made the judge of them, and the rule of 
judgment was the bodily delight which was given by them, then the word 
of Anaxagoras, that word with which you, friend Polus, are so well 
acquainted, would prevail far and wide: "Chaos" would come again, 
and cookery, health, and medicine would mingle in an indiscriminate 
mass. And now I have told you my notion of rhetoric, which is, in 
relation to the soul, what cookery is to the body. I may have been 
inconsistent in making a long speech, when I would not allow you to 
discourse at length. But I think that I may be excused, because you 
did not understand me, and could make no use of my answer when I spoke 
shortly, and therefore I had to enter into explanation. And if I 
show an equal inability to make use of yours, I hope that you will 
speak at equal length; but if I am able to understand you, let me have 
the benefit of your brevity, as is only fair: And now you may do 
what you please with my answer. 

Pol. What do you mean? do you think that rhetoric is flattery? 

Soc. Nay, I said a part of flattery-if at your age, Polus, you 
cannot remember, what will you do by-and-by, when you get older? 

Pol. And are the good rhetoricians meanly regarded in states, 
under the idea that they are flatterers? 

Soc. Is that a question or the beginning of a speech? 

Pol. I am asking a question. 

Soc. Then my answer is, that they are not regarded at all. 

Pol. How not regarded? Have they not very great power in states? 

Soc. Not if you mean to say that power is a good to the possessor. 

Pol. And that is what I do mean to say. 

Soc. Then, if so, I think that they have the least power of all 
the citizens . 

Pol. What! Are they not like tyrants? They kill and despoil and 
exile any one whom they please. 

Soc. By the dog, Polus, I cannot make out at each deliverance of 
yours, whether you are giving an opinion of your own, or asking a 
question of me. 

Pol. I am asking a question of you. 

Soc. Yes, my friend, but you ask two questions at once. 

Pol. How two questions? 

Soc. Why, did you not say just now that the rhetoricians are like 
tyrants, and that they kill and despoil or exile any one whom they 
please? 

Pol. I did. 

Soc. Well then, I say to you that here are two questions in one, and 
I will answer both of them. And I tell you, Polus, that rhetoricians 
and tyrants have the least possible power in states, as I was just now 
saying; for they do literally nothing which they will, but only what 
they think best. 

Pol. And is not that a great power? 

Soc. Polus has already said the reverse. 

Soc. No, by the great-what do you call him?-not you, for you say 
that power is a good to him who has the power. 

Pol. I do. 

Soc. And would you maintain that if a fool does what he think 
best, this is a good, and would you call this great power? 



Pol. I should not. 

Soc. Then you must prove that the rhetorician is not a fool, and 
that rhetoric is an art and not a flattery-and so you will have 
refuted me; but if you leave me unrefuted, why, the rhetoricians who 
do what they think best in states, and the tyrants, will have 
nothing upon which to congratulate themselves, if as you say, power be 
indeed a good, admitting at the same time that what is done without 
sense is an evil. 

Pol. Yes; I admit that. 

Soc. How then can the rhetoricians or the tyrants have great power 
in states, unless Polus can refute Socrates, and prove to him that 
they do as they will? 

Pol. This fellow- 

Soc. I say that they do not do as they will-now refute me. 

Pol. Why, have you not already said that they do as they think best? 

Soc. And I say so still. 

Pol. Then surely they do as they will? 

Soc. I deny it. 

Pol. But they do what they think best? 

Soc. Aye. 

Pol. That, Socrates, is monstrous and absurd. 

Soc. Good words, good Polus, as I may say in your own peculiar 
style; but if you have any questions to ask of me, either prove that I 
am in error or give the answer yourself. 

Pol. Very well, I am willing to answer that I may know what you 



mean . 



Soc. Do men appear to you to will that which they do, or to will 
that further end for the sake of which they do a thing? when they take 
medicine, for example, at the bidding of a physician, do they will the 
drinking of the medicine which is painful, or the health for the 
sake of which they drink? 

Pol. Clearly, the health. 

Soc. And when men go on a voyage or engage in business, they do 
not will that which they are doing at the time; for who would desire 
to take the risk of a voyage or the trouble of business?-But they 
will, to have the wealth for the sake of which they go on a voyage. 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. And is not this universally true? If a man does something for 
the sake of something else, he wills not that which he does, but 
that for the sake of which he does it. 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And are not all things either good or evil, or intermediate and 
indifferent? 

Pol. To be sure, Socrates. 

Soc. Wisdom and health and wealth and the like you would call goods, 
and their opposites evils? 

Pol . I should . 

Soc. And the things which are neither good nor evil, and which 
partake sometimes of the nature of good and at other times of evil, or 
of neither, are such as sitting, walking, running, sailing; or, again, 
wood, stones, and the like: -these are the things which you call 
neither good nor evil? 

Pol. Exactly so. 

Soc. Are these indifferent things done for the sake of the good, 
or the good for the sake of the indifferent? 

Pol. Clearly, the indifferent for the sake of the good. 

Soc. When we walk we walk for the sake of the good, and under the 
idea that it is better to walk, and when we stand we stand equally for 
the sake of the good? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And when we kill a man we kill him or exile him or despoil 
him of his goods, because, as we think, it will conduce to our good? 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. Men who do any of these things do them for the sake of the 



good? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And did we not admit that in doing something for the sake of 
something else, we do not will those things which we do, but that 
other thing for the sake of which we do them? 

Pol. Most true. 

Soc. Then we do not will simply to kill a man or to exile him or 
to despoil him of his goods, but we will to do that which conduces 
to our good, and if the act is not conducive to our good we do not 
will it; for we will, as you say, that which is our good, but that 
which is neither good nor evil, or simply evil, we do not will. Why 
are you silent, Polus? Am I not right? 

Pol. You are right. 

Soc. Hence we may infer, that if any one, whether he be a tyrant 
or a rhetorician, kills another or exiles another or deprives him of 
his property, under the idea that the act is for his own interests 
when really not for his own interests, he may be said to do what seems 
best to him? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. But does he do what he wills if he does what is evil? Why do 
you not answer? 

Pol. Well, I suppose not. 

Soc. Then if great power is a good as you allow, will such a one 
have great power in a state? 

Pol. He will not. 

Soc. Then I was right in saying that a man may do what seems good to 
him in a state, and not have great power, and not do what he wills? 

Pol. As though you, Socrates, would not like to have the power of 
doing what seemed good to you in the state, rather than not; you would 
not be jealous when you saw any one killing or despoiling or 
imprisoning whom he pleased, Oh, no! 

Soc. Justly or unjustly, do you mean? 

Pol. In either case is he not equally to be envied? 

Soc. Forbear, Polus! 

Pol. Why "forbear"? 

Soc. Because you ought not to envy wretches who are not to be 
envied, but only to pity them. 

Pol. And are those of whom spoke wretches? 

Soc. Yes, certainly they are. 

Pol. And so you think that he who slays any one whom he pleases, and 
justly slays him, is pitiable and wretched? 

Soc. No, I do not say that of him: but neither do I think that he is 
to be envied. 

Pol. Were you not saying just now that he is wretched? 

Soc. Yes, my friend, if he killed another unjustly, in which case he 
is also to be pitied; and he is not to be envied if he killed him 
justly. 

Pol. At any rate you will allow that he who is unjustly put to death 
is wretched, and to be pitied? 

Soc. Not so much, Polus, as he who kills him, and not so much as 
he who is justly killed. 

Pol. How can that be, Socrates? 

Soc. That may very well be, inasmuch as doing injustice is the 
greatest of evils. 

Pol. But is it the greatest? Is not suffering injustice a greater 
evil? 

Soc. Certainly not. 

Pol. Then would you rather suffer than do injustice? 

Soc. I should not like either, but if I must choose between them, 
I would rather suffer than do. 

Pol. Then you would not wish to be a tyrant? 

Soc. Not if you mean by tyranny what I mean. 

Pol. I mean, as I said before, the power of doing whatever seems 
good to you in a state, killing, banishing, doing in all things as you 



like. 

Soc. Well then, illustrious friend, when I have said my say, do 
you reply to me. Suppose that I go into a crowded Agora, and take a 
dagger under my arm. Polus, I say to you, I have just acquired rare 
power, and become a tyrant; for if I think that any of these men 
whom you see ought to be put to death, the man whom I have a mind to 
kill is as good as dead; and if I am disposed to break his head or 
tear his garment, he will have his head broken or his garment torn 
in an instant. Such is my great power in this city. And if you do 
not believe me, and I show you the dagger, you would probably reply: 
Socrates, in that sort of way any one may have great power-he may burn 
any house which he pleases, and the docks and triremes of the 
Athenians, and all their other vessels, whether public or 
private-but can you believe that this mere doing as you think best 
is great power? 

Pol. Certainly not such doing as this. 

Soc. But can you tell me why you disapprove of such a power? 

Pol . I can . 

Soc. Why then? 

Pol . Why, because he who did as you say would be certain to be 
punished. 

Soc. And punishment is an evil? 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. And you would admit once more, my good sir, that great power is 
a benefit to a man if his actions turn out to his advantage, and 
that this is the meaning of great power; and if not, then his power is 
an evil and is no power. But let us look at the matter in another 
way do we not acknowledge that the things of which we were speaking, 
the infliction of death, and exile, and the deprivation of property 
are sometimes a good and sometimes not a good? 

Pol. Certainly. 

Soc. About that you and I may be supposed to agree? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. Tell me, then, when do you say that they are good and when that 
they are evil-what principle do you lay down? 

Pol. I would rather, Socrates, that you should answer as well as ask 
that question. 

Soc. Well, Polus, since you would rather have the answer from me, 
I say that they are good when they are just, and evil when they are 
unjust . 

Pol. You are hard of refutation, Socrates, but might not a child 
refute that statement? 

Soc. Then I shall be very grateful to the child, and equally 
grateful to you if you will refute me and deliver me from my 
foolishness. And I hope that refute me you will, and not weary of 
doing good to a friend. 

Pol. Yes, Socrates, and I need not go far or appeal to antiquity; 
events which happened only a few days ago are enough to refute you, 
and to prove that many men who do wrong are happy. 

Soc. What events? 

Pol. You see, I presume, that Archelaus the son of Perdiccas is 
now the ruler of Macedonia? 

Soc. At any rate I hear that he is. 

Pol. And do you think that he is happy or miserable? 

Soc. I cannot say, Polus, for I have never had any acquaintance with 
him . 

Pol. And cannot you tell at once, and without having an acquaintance 
with him, whether a man is happy? 

Soc. Most certainly not. 

Pol. Then clearly, Socrates, you would say that you did not even 
know whether the great king was a happy man? 

Soc. And I should speak the truth; for I do not know how he stands 
in the matter of education and justice. 

Pol. What! and does all happiness consist in this? 



Soc. Yes, indeed, Polus, that is my doctrine; the men and women 
who are gentle and good are also happy, as I maintain, and the 
unjust and evil are miserable. 

Pol. Then, according to your doctrine, the said Archelaus is 
miserable? 

Soc. Yes, my friend, if he is wicked. 

Pol. That he is wicked I cannot deny; for he had no title at all 
to the throne which he now occupies, he being only the son of a 
woman who was the slave of Alcetas the brother of Perdiccas; he 
himself therefore in strict right was the slave of Alcetas; and if 
he had meant to do rightly he would have remained his slave, and then, 
according to your doctrine, he would have been happy. But now he is 
unspeakably miserable, for he has been guilty of the greatest 
crimes: in the first place he invited his uncle and master, Alcetas, 
to come to him, under the pretence that he would restore to him the 
throne which Perdiccas has usurped, and after entertaining him and his 
son Alexander, who was his own cousin, and nearly of an age with 
him, and making them drunk, he threw them into a waggon and carried 
them off by night, and slew them, and got both of them out of the way; 
and when he had done all this wickedness he never discovered that he 
was the most miserable of all men, was very far from repenting: 
shall I tell you how he showed his remorse? he had a younger 
brother, a child of seven years old, who was the legitimate son of 
Perdiccas, and to him of right the kingdom belonged; Archelaus, 
however, had no mind to bring him up as he ought and restore the 
kingdom to him; that was not his notion of happiness; but not long 
afterwards he threw him into a well and drowned him, and declared to 
his mother Cleopatra that he had fallen in while running after a 
goose, and had been killed. And now as he is the greatest criminal 
of all the Macedonians, he may be supposed to be the most miserable 
and not the happiest of them, and I dare say that there are many 
Athenians, and you would be at the head of them, who would rather be 
any other Macedonian than Archelaus ! 

Soc. I praised you at first, Polus, for being a rhetorician rather 
than a reasoner. And this, as I suppose, is the sort of argument 
with which you fancy that a child might refute me, and by which I 
stand refuted when I say that the unjust man is not happy. But, my 
good friend, where is the refutation? I cannot admit a word which 
you have been saying. 

Pol. That is because you will not; for you surely must think as I 
do . 

Soc. Not so, my simple friend, but because you will refute me 
after the manner which rhetoricians practise in courts of law. For 
there the one party think that they refute the other when they bring 
forward a number of witnesses of good repute in proof of their 
allegations, and their adversary has only a single one or none at all. 
But this kind of proof is of no value where truth is the aim; a man 
may often be sworn down by a multitude of false witnesses who have a 
great air of respectability. And in this argument nearly every one, 
Athenian and stranger alike, would be on your side, if you should 
bring witnesses in disproof of my statement-you may, if you will, 
summon Nicias the son of Niceratus, and let his brothers, who gave the 
row of tripods which stand in the precincts of Dionysus, come with 
him; or you may summon Aristocrates, the son of Scellius, who is the 
giver of that famous offering which is at Delphi; summon, if you will, 
the whole house of Pericles, or any other great Athenian family whom 
you choose-they will all agree with you: I only am left alone and 
cannot agree, for you do not convince me; although you produce many 
false witnesses against me, in the hope of depriving me of my 
inheritance, which is the truth. But I consider that nothing worth 
speaking of will have been effected by me unless I make you the one 
witness of my words; nor by you, unless you make me the one witness of 
yours; no matter about the rest of the world. For there are two ways 
of refutation, one which is yours and that of the world in general; 



but mine is of another sort-let us compare them, and see in what 
they differ. For, indeed, we are at issue about matters which to 
know is honourable and not to know disgraceful; to know or not to know 
happiness and misery-that is the chief of them. And what knowledge can 
be nobler? or what ignorance more disgraceful than this? And therefore 
I will begin by asking you whether you do not think that a man who 
is unjust and doing injustice can be happy, seeing that you think 
Archelaus unjust, and yet happy? May I assume this to be your opinion? 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. But I say that this is an impossibility-here is one point about 
which we are at issue: -very good. And do you mean to say also that 
if he meets with retribution and punishment he will still be happy? 

Pol. Certainly not; in that case he will be most miserable. 

Soc. On the other hand, if the unjust be not punished, then, 
according to you, he will be happy? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. But in my opinion, Polus, the unjust or doer of unjust 
actions is miserable in any case, -more miserable, however, if he be 
not punished and does not meet with retribution, and less miserable if 
he be punished and meets with retribution at the hands of gods and 
men . 

Pol. You are maintaining a strange doctrine, Socrates. 

Soc. I shall try to make you agree with me, my friend, for as a 
friend I regard you. Then these are the points at issue between us-are 
they not? I was saying that to do is worse than to suffer injustice? 

Pol. Exactly so. 

Soc. And you said the opposite? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. I said also that the wicked are miserable, and you refuted me? 

Pol. By Zeus, I did. 

Soc. In your own opinion, Polus. 

Pol. Yes, and I rather suspect that I was in the right. 

Soc. You further said that the wrong-doer is happy if he be 
unpunished? 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. And I affirm that he is most miserable, and that those who 
are punished are less miserable-are you going to refute this 
proposition also? 

Pol. A proposition which is harder of refutation than the other, 
Socrates . 

Soc. Say rather, Polus, impossible; for who can refute the truth? 

Pol. What do you mean? If a man is detected in an unjust attempt 
to make himself a tyrant, and when detected is racked, mutilated, 
has his eyes burned out, and after having had all sorts of great 
injuries inflicted on him, and having seen his wife and children 
suffer the like, is at last impaled or tarred and burned alive, will 
he be happier than if he escape and become a tyrant, and continue 
all through life doing what he likes and holding the reins of 
government, the envy and admiration both of citizens and strangers? Is 
that the paradox which, as you say, cannot be refuted? 

Soc. There again, noble Polus, you are raising hobgoblins instead of 
refuting me; just now you were calling witnesses against me. But 
please to refresh my memory a little; did you say-"in an unjust 
attempt to make himself a tyrant"? 

Pol. Yes, I did. 

Soc. Then I say that neither of them will be happier than the 
other-neither he who unjustly acquires a tyranny, nor he who suffers 
in the attempt, for of two miserables one cannot be the happier, but 
that he who escapes and becomes a tyrant is the more miserable of 
the two. Do you laugh, Polus? Well, this is a new kind of 
ref utation-when any one says anything, instead of refuting him to 
laugh at him. 

Pol. But do you not think, Socrates, that you have been sufficiently 
refuted, when you say that which no human being will allow? Ask the 



company. 

Soc. Polus, I am not a public man, and only last year, when my 
tribe were serving as Prytanes, and it became my duty as their 
president to take the votes, there was a laugh at me, because I was 
unable to take them. And as I failed then, you must not ask me to 
count the suffrages of the company now; but if, as I was saying, you 
have no better argument than numbers, let me have a turn, and do you 
make trial of the sort of proof which, as I think, is required; for 
I shall produce one witness only of the truth of my words, and he is 
the person with whom I am arguing; his suffrage I know how to take; 
but with the many I have nothing to do, and do not even address myself 
to them. May I ask then whether you will answer in turn and have 
your words put to the proof? For I certainly think that I and you 
and every man do really believe, that to do is a greater evil than 
to suffer injustice: and not to be punished than to be punished. 

Pol. And I should say neither I, nor any man: would you yourself, 
for example, suffer rather than do injustice? 

Soc. Yes, and you, too; I or any man would. 

Pol. Quite the reverse; neither you, nor I, nor any man. 

Soc. But will you answer? 

Pol. To be sure, I will-for I am curious to hear what you can have 
to say. 

Soc. Tell me, then, and you will know, and let us suppose that I 
am beginning at the beginning: which of the two, Polus, in your 
opinion, is the worst?-to do injustice or to suffer? 

Pol. I should say that suffering was worst. 

Soc. And which is the greater disgrace?-Answer . 

Pol. To do. 

Soc. And the greater disgrace is the greater evil? 

Pol. Certainly not. 

Soc. I understand you to say, if I am not mistaken, that the 
honourable is not the same as the good, or the disgraceful as the 
evil? 

Pol. Certainly not. 

Soc. Let me ask a question of you: When you speak of beautiful 
things, such as bodies, colours, figures, sounds, institutions, do you 
not call them beautiful in reference to some standard: bodies, for 
example, are beautiful in proportion as they are useful, or as the 
sight of them gives pleasure to the spectators; can you give any other 
account of personal beauty? 

Pol . I cannot . 

Soc. And you would say of figures or colours generally that they 
were beautiful, either by reason of the pleasure which they give, or 
of their use, or both? 

Pol. Yes, I should. 

Soc. And you would call sounds and music beautiful for the same 
reason? 

Pol . I should . 

Soc. Laws and institutions also have no beauty in them except in 
so far as they are useful or pleasant or both? 

Pol . I think not . 

Soc. And may not the same be said of the beauty of knowledge? 

Pol. To be sure, Socrates; and I very much approve of your measuring 
beauty by the standard of pleasure and utility. 

Soc. And deformity or disgrace may be equally measured by the 
opposite standard of pain and evil? 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. Then when of two beautiful things one exceeds in beauty, the 
measure of the excess is to be taken in one or both of these; that 
is to say, in pleasure or utility or both? 

Pol . Very true . 

Soc. And of two deformed things, that which exceeds in deformity 
or disgrace, exceeds either in pain or evil-must it not be so? 

Pol. Yes. 



Soc. But then again, what was the observation which you just now 
made, about doing and suffering wrong? Did you not say, that suffering 
wrong was more evil, and doing wrong more disgraceful? 

Pol. I did. 

Soc. Then, if doing wrong is more disgraceful than suffering, the 
more disgraceful must be more painful and must exceed in pain or in 
evil or both: does not that also follow? 

Pol . Of course . 

Soc. First, then, let us consider whether the doing of injustice 
exceeds the suffering in the consequent pain: Do the injurers suffer 
more than the injured? 

Pol. No, Socrates; certainly not. 

Soc. Then they do not exceed in pain? 

Pol. No. 

Soc. But if not in pain, then not in both? 

Pol. Certainly not. 

Soc. Then they can only exceed in the other? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. That is to say, in evil? 

Pol. True. 

Soc. Then doing injustice will have an excess of evil, and will 
therefore be a greater evil than suffering injustice? 

Pol. Clearly. 

Soc. But have not you and the world already agreed that to do 
injustice is more disgraceful than to suffer? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And that is now discovered to be more evil? 

Pol. True. 

Soc. And would you prefer a greater evil or a greater dishonour to a 
less one? Answer, Polus, and fear not; for you will come to no harm if 
you nobly resign yourself into the healing hand of the argument as 
to a physician without shrinking, and either say "Yes" or "No" to me. 

Pol. I should say "No." 

Soc. Would any other man prefer a greater to a less evil? 

Pol. No, not according to this way of putting the case, Socrates. 

Soc. Then I said truly, Polus that neither you, nor I, nor any 
man, would rather, do than suffer injustice; for to do injustice is 
the greater evil of the two. 

Pol. That is the conclusion. 

Soc. You see, Polus, when you compare the two kinds of 
refutations, how unlike they are. All men, with the exception of 
myself, are of your way of thinking; but your single assent and 
witness are enough for me-I have no need of any other, I take your 
suffrage, and am regardless of the rest. Enough of this, and now let 
us proceed to the next question; which is, Whether the greatest of 
evils to a guilty man is to suffer punishment, as you supposed, or 
whether to escape punishment is not a greater evil, as I supposed. 
Consider : -You would say that to suffer punishment is another name 
for being justly corrected when you do wrong? 

Pol . I should . 

Soc. And would you not allow that all just things are honourable 
in so far as they are just? Please to reflect, and, tell me your 
opinion . 

Pol. Yes, Socrates, I think that they are. 

Soc. Consider again: -Where there is an agent, must there not also be 
a patient? 

Pol. I should say so. 

Soc. And will not the patient suffer that which the agent does, 
and will not the suffering have the quality of the action? I mean, for 
example, that if a man strikes, there must be something which is 
stricken? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And if the striker strikes violently or quickly, that which 
is struck will he struck violently or quickly? 



Pol. True. 

Soc. And the suffering to him who is stricken is of the same 
nature as the act of him who strikes? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And if a man burns, there is something which is burned? 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. And if he burns in excess or so as to cause pain, the thing 
burned will be burned in the same way? 

Pol. Truly. 

Soc. And if he cuts, the same argument holds-there will be something 
cut? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And if the cutting be great or deep or such as will cause pain, 
the cut will be of the same nature? 

Pol. That is evident. 

Soc. Then you would agree generally to the universal proposition 
which I was just now asserting: that the affection of the patient 
answers to the affection of the agent? 

Pol . I agree . 

Soc. Then, as this is admitted, let me ask whether being punished is 
suffering or acting? 

Pol. Suffering, Socrates; there can be no doubt of that. 

Soc. And suffering implies an agent? 

Pol. Certainly, Socrates; and he is the punisher. 

Soc. And he who punishes rightly, punishes justly? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And therefore he acts justly? 

Pol. Justly. 

Soc. Then he who is punished and suffers retribution, suffers 
justly? 

Pol. That is evident. 

Soc. And that which is just has been admitted to be honourable? 

Pol. Certainly. 

Soc. Then the punisher does what is honourable, and the punished 
suffers what is honourable? 

Pol. True. 

Soc. And if what is honourable, then what is good, for the 
honourable is either pleasant or useful? 

Pol. Certainly. 

Soc. Then he who is punished suffers what is good? 

Pol. That is true. 

Soc. Then he is benefited? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. Do I understand you to mean what I mean by the term 
"benefited"? I mean, that if he be justly punished his soul is 
improved . 

Pol . Surely . 

Soc. Then he who is punished is delivered from the evil of his soul? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And is he not then delivered from the greatest evil? Look at 
the matter in this way: -In respect of a man's estate, do you see any 
greater evil than poverty? 

Pol. There is no greater evil. 

Soc. Again, in a man's bodily frame, you would say that the evil 
is weakness and disease and deformity? 

Pol . I should . 

Soc. And do you not imagine that the soul likewise has some evil 
of her own? 

Pol . Of course . 

Soc. And this you would call injustice and ignorance and 
cowardice, and the like? 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. So then, in mind, body, and estate, which are three, you have 
pointed out three corresponding evils-injustice, disease, poverty? 



Pol. True. 

Soc. And which of the evils is the most disgracef ul?-Is not the most 
disgraceful of them injustice, and in general the evil of the soul? 

Pol. By far the most. 

Soc. And if the most disgraceful, then also the worst? 

Pol. What do you mean, Socrates? 

Soc. I mean to say, that is most disgraceful has been already 
admitted to be most painful or hurtful, or both. 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. And now injustice and all evil in the soul has been admitted by 
to be most disgraceful? 

Pol. It has been admitted. 

Soc. And most disgraceful either because most painful and causing 
excessive pain, or most hurtful, or both? 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. And therefore to be unjust and intemperate, and cowardly and 
ignorant, is more painful than to be poor and sick? 

Pol. Nay, Socrates; the painfulness does not appear to me to 
follow from your premises. 

Soc. Then, if, as you would argue, not more painful, the evil of the 
soul is of all evils the most disgraceful; and the excess of 
disgrace must be caused by some preternatural greatness, or 
extraordinary hurtfulness of the evil. 

Pol. Clearly. 

Soc. And that which exceeds most in hurtfulness will be the greatest 
of evils? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. Then injustice and intemperance, and in general the depravity 
of the soul, are the greatest of evils! 

Pol. That is evident. 

Soc. Now, what art is there which delivers us from poverty? Does not 
the art of making money? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And what art frees us from disease? Does not the art of 
medicine? 

Pol . Very true . 

Soc. And what from vice and injustice? If you are not able to answer 
at once, ask yourself whither we go with the sick, and to whom we take 
them. 

Pol. To the physicians, Socrates. 

Soc. And to whom do we go with the unjust and intemperate? 

Pol. To the judges, you mean. 

Soc. -Who are to punish them? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And do not those who rightly punish others, punish them in 
accordance with a certain rule of justice? 

Pol. Clearly. 

Soc. Then the art of money-making frees a man from poverty; medicine 
from disease; and justice from intemperance and injustice? 

Pol. That is evident. 

Soc. Which, then, is the best of these three? 

Pol. Will you enumerate them? 

Soc. Money-making, medicine, and justice. 

Pol. Justice, Socrates, far excels the two others. 

Soc. And justice, if the best, gives the greatest pleasure or 
advantage or both? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. But is the being healed a pleasant thing, and are those who are 
being healed pleased? 

Pol . I think not . 

Soc. A useful thing, then? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. Yes, because the patient is delivered from a great evil; and 
this is the advantage of enduring the pain-that you get well? 



Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. And would he be the happier man in his bodily condition, who is 
healed, or who never was out of health? 

Pol. Clearly he who was never out of health. 

Soc. Yes; for happiness surely does not consist in being delivered 
from evils, but in never having had them. 

Pol. True. 

Soc. And suppose the case of two persons who have some evil in their 
bodies, and that one of them is healed and delivered from evil, and 
another is not healed, but retains the evil-which of them is the 
most miserable? 

Pol. Clearly he who is not healed. 

Soc. And was not punishment said by us to be a deliverance from 
the greatest of evils, which is vice? 

Pol. True. 

Soc. And justice punishes us, and makes us more just, and is the 
medicine of our vice? 

Pol. True. 

Soc. He, then, has the first place in the scale of happiness who has 
never had vice in his soul; for this has been shown to be the greatest 
of evils . 

Pol. Clearly. 

Soc. And he has the second place, who is delivered from vice? 

Pol. True. 

Soc. That is to say, he who receives admonition and rebuke and 
punishment? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. Then he lives worst, who, having been unjust, has no 
deliverance from injustice? 

Pol. Certainly. 

Soc. That is, he lives worst who commits the greatest crimes, and 
who, being the most unjust of men, succeeds in escaping rebuke or 
correction or punishment; and this, as you say, has been 
accomplished by Archelaus and other tyrants and rhetoricians and 
potentates? 

Pol. True. 

Soc. May not their way of proceeding, my friend, be compared to 
the conduct of a person who is afflicted with the worst of diseases 
and yet contrives not to pay the penalty to the physician for his sins 
against his constitution, and will not be cured, because, like a 
child, he is afraid of the pain of being burned or cut: -Is not that 
a parallel case? 

Pol . Yes, truly . 

Soc. He would seem as if he did not know the nature of health and 
bodily vigour; and if we are right, Polus, in our previous 
conclusions, they are in a like case who strive to evade justice, 
which they see to be painful, but are blind to the advantage which 
ensues from it, not knowing how far more miserable a companion a 
diseased soul is than a diseased body; a soul, I say, which is corrupt 
and unrighteous and unholy. And hence they do all that they can to 
avoid punishment and to avoid being released from the greatest of 
evils; they provide themselves with money and friends, and cultivate 
to the utmost their powers of persuasion. But if we, Polus, are right, 
do you see what follows, or shall we draw out the consequences in 
form? 

Pol. If you please. 

Soc. Is it not a fact that injustice, and the doing of injustice, is 
the greatest of evils? 

Pol. That is quite clear. 

Soc. And further, that to suffer punishment is the way to be 
released from this evil? 

Pol. True. 

Soc. And not to suffer, is to perpetuate the evil? 

Pol. Yes. 



Soc. To do wrong, then, is second only in the scale of evils; but to 
do wrong and not to be punished, is first and greatest of all? 

Pol. That is true. 

Soc. Well, and was not this the point in dispute, my friend? You 
deemed Archelaus happy, because he was a very great criminal and 
unpunished: I, on the other hand, maintained that he or any other 
who like him has done wrong and has not been punished, is, and ought 
to be, the most miserable of all men; and that the doer of injustice 
is more miserable than the sufferer; and he who escapes punishment, 
more miserable than he who suffers. -Was not that what I said? 

Pol. Yes. 

Soc. And it has been proved to be true? 

Pol . Certainly . 

Soc. Well, Polus, but if this is true, where is the great use of 
rhetoric? If we admit what has been just now said, every man ought 
in every way to guard himself against doing wrong, for he will thereby 
suffer great evil? 

Pol. True. 

Soc. And if he, or any one about whom he cares, does wrong, he ought 
of his own accord to go where he will be immediately punished; he will 
run to the judge, as he would to the physician, in order that the 
disease of injustice may not be rendered chronic and become the 
incurable cancer of the soul; must we not allow this consequence, 
Polus, if our former admissions are to stand:-is any other inference 
consistent with them? 

Pol. To that, Socrates, there can be but one answer. 

Soc. Then rhetoric is of no use to us, Polus, in helping a man to 
excuse his own injustice, that of his parents or friends, or 
children or country; but may be of use to any one who holds that 
instead of excusing he ought to accuse-himself above all, and in the 
next degree his family or any of his friends who may be doing wrong; 
he should bring to light the iniquity and not conceal it, that so 
the wrong-doer may suffer and be made whole; and he should even 
force himself and others not to shrink, but with closed eyes like 
brave men to let the physician operate with knife or searing iron, not 
regarding the pain, in the hope of attaining the good and the 
honourable; let him who has done things worthy of stripes, allow 
himself to be scourged, if of bonds, to be bound, if of a fine, to 
be fined, if of exile, to be exiled, if of death, to die, himself 
being the first to accuse himself and his relations, and using 
rhetoric to this end, that his and their unjust actions may be made 
manifest, and that they themselves may be delivered from injustice, 
which is the greatest evil. Then, Polus, rhetoric would indeed be 
useful. Do you say "Yes" or "No" to that? 

Pol. To me, Socrates, what you are saying appears very strange, 
though probably in agreement with your premises. 

Soc. Is not this the conclusion, if the premises are not disproven? 

Pol. Yes; it certainly is. 

Soc. And from the opposite point of view, if indeed it be our duty 
to harm another, whether an enemy or not-I except the case of 
self-defence-then I have to be upon my guard-but if my enemy injures a 
third person, then in every sort of way, by word as well as deed, I 
should try to prevent his being punished, or appearing before the 
judge; and if he appears, I should contrive that he should escape, and 
not suffer punishment: if he has stolen a sum of money, let him keep 
what he has stolen and spend it on him and his, regardless of religion 
and justice; and if he has done things worthy of death, let him not 
die, but rather be immortal in his wickedness; or, if this is not 
possible, let him at any rate be allowed to live as long as he can. 
For such purposes, Polus, rhetoric may be useful, but is of small if 
of any use to him who is not intending to commit injustice; at 
least, there was no such use discovered by us in the previous 
discussion . 

Cal . Tell me, Chaerephon, is Socrates in earnest, or is he joking? 



Chaer. I should say, Callicles, that he is in most profound earnest; 
but you may well ask him 

Cal . By the gods, and I will. Tell me, Socrates, are you in earnest, 
or only in jest? For if you are in earnest, and what you say is 
true, is not the whole of human life turned upside down; and are we 
not doing, as would appear, in everything the opposite of what we 
ought to be doing? 

Soc. Callicles, if there were not some community of feelings among 
mankind, however varying in different persons-I mean to say, if 
every man's feelings were peculiar to himself and were not shared by 
the rest of his species-I do not see how we could ever communicate our 
impressions to one another. I make this remark because I perceive that 
you and I have a common feeling. For we are lovers both, and both of 
us have two loves apiece: -I am the lover of Alcibiades, the son of 
Cleinias-I and of philosophy; and you of the Athenian Demus, and of 
Demus the son of Pyrilampes. Now, I observe that you, with all your 
cleverness, do not venture to contradict your favourite in any word or 
opinion of his; but as he changes you change, backwards and 
forwards . When the Athenian Demus denies anything that you are 
saying in the assembly, you go over to his opinion; and you do the 
same with Demus, the fair young son of Pyrilampes. For you have not 
the power to resist the words and ideas of your loves; and is a person 
were to express surprise at the strangeness of what you say from 
time to time when under their influence, you would probably reply to 
him, if you were honest, that you cannot help saying what your loves 
say unless they are prevented; and that you can only be silent when 
they are. Now you must understand that my words are an echo too, and 
therefore you need not wonder at me; but if you want to silence me, 
silence philosophy, who is my love, for she is always telling me 
what I am telling you, my friend; neither is she capricious like my 
other love, for the son of Cleinias says one thing to-day and 
another thing to-morrow, but philosophy is always true. She is the 
teacher at whose words you are. now wondering, and you have heard 
her yourself. Her you must refute, and either show, as I was saying, 
that to do injustice and to escape punishment is not the worst of 
all evils; or, if you leave her word unrefuted, by the dog the god 
of Egypt, I declare, Callicles, that Callicles will never be at 
one with himself, but that his whole life, will be a discord. And yet, 
my friend, I would rather that my lyre should be inharmonious, and 
that there should be no music in the chorus which I provided; aye, 
or that the whole world should be at odds with me, and oppose me, 
rather than that I myself should be at odds with myself, and 
contradict myself. 

Cal. Socrates, you are a regular declaimer, and seem to be running 
riot in the argument. And now you are declaiming in this way because 
Polus has fallen into the same error himself of which he accused 
Gorgias:-for he said that when Gorgias was asked by you, whether, if 
some one came to him who wanted to learn rhetoric, and did not know 
justice, he would teach him justice, Gorgias in his modesty replied 
that he would, because he thought that mankind in general would be 
displeased if he answered "No"; and then in consequence of this 
admission, Gorgias was compelled to contradict himself, that being 
just the sort of thing in which you delight. Whereupon Polus laughed 
at you deservedly, as I think; but now he has himself fallen into 
the same trap. I cannot say very much for his wit when he conceded 
to you that to do is more dishonourable than to suffer injustice, 
for this was the admission which led to his being entangled by you; 
and because he was too modest to say what he thought, he had his mouth 
stopped. For the truth is, Socrates, that you, who pretend to be 
engaged in the pursuit of truth, are appealing now to the popular 
and vulgar notions of right, which are not natural, but only 
conventional. Convention and nature are generally at variance with one 
another: and hence, if a person is too modest to say what he thinks, 
he is compelled to contradict himself; and you, in your ingenuity 



perceiving the advantage to be thereby gained, slyly ask of him who is 
arguing conventionally a question which is to be determined by the 
rule of nature; and if he is talking of the rule of nature, you slip 
away to custom: as, for instance, you did in this very discussion 
about doing and suffering injustice. When Polus was speaking of the 
conventionally dishonourable, you assailed him from the point of 
view of nature; for by the rule of nature, to suffer injustice is 
the greater disgrace because the greater evil; but conventionally, 
to do evil is the more disgraceful. For the suffering of injustice 
is hot the part of a man, but of a slave, who indeed had better die 
than live; since when he is wronged and trampled upon, he is unable to 
help himself, or any other about whom he cares. The reason, as I 
conceive, is that the makers of laws are the majority who are weak; 
and they, make laws and distribute praises and censures with a view to 
themselves and to their own interests; and they: terrify the 
stronger sort of men, and those who are able to get the better of them 
in order that they may not get the better of them; and they say, 
that dishonesty is shameful and unjust; meaning, by the word 
injustice, the desire of a man to have more than his neighbours; for 
knowing their own inferiority, I suspect that they are too glad of 
equality. And therefore the endeavour to have more than the many, is 
conventionally said to be shameful and unjust, and is called 
injustice, whereas nature herself intimates that it is just for the 
better to have more than the worse, the more powerful than the weaker; 
and in many ways she shows, among men as well as among animals, and 
indeed among whole cities and races, that justice consists in the 
superior ruling over and having more than the inferior. For on what 
principle of justice did Xerxes invade Hellas, or his father the 
Scythians? (not to speak of numberless other examples) . Nay, but these 
are the men who act according to nature; yes, by Heaven, and according 
to the law of nature: not, perhaps, according to that artificial 
law, which we invent and impose upon our fellows, of whom we take 
the best and strongest from their youth upwards, and tame them like 
young lions, -charming them with the sound of the voice, and saying to 
them, that with equality they must be content, and that the equal is 
the honourable and the just. But if there were a man who had 
sufficient force, he would shake off and break through, and escape 
from all this; he would trample under foot all our formulas and spells 
and charms, and all our laws which are against nature: the slave would 
rise in rebellion and be lord over us, and the light of natural 
justice would shine forth. And this I take to be the sentiment of 
Pindar, when he says in his poem, that 

Law is the king of all, of mortals as well as of immortals; 

this, as he says, 

Makes might to be right, doing violence with highest hand; as I 
infer from the deeds of Heracles, for without buying them- 

-I do not remember the exact words, but the meaning is, that without 
buying them, and without their being given to him, he carried off 
the oxen of Geryon, according to the law of natural right, and that 
the oxen and other possessions of the weaker and inferior properly 
belong to the stronger and superior. And this is true, as you may 
ascertain, if you will leave philosophy and go on to higher things: 
for philosophy, Socrates, if pursued in moderation and at the proper 
age, is an elegant accomplishment, but too much philosophy is the ruin 
of human life. Even if a man has good parts, still, if he carries 
philosophy into later life, he is necessarily ignorant of all those 
things which a gentleman and a person of honour ought to know; he is 
inexperienced in the laws of the State, and in the language which 
ought to be used in the dealings of man with man, whether private or 
public, and utterly ignorant of the pleasures and desires of mankind 



and of human character in general. And people of this sort, when 
they betake themselves to politics or business, are as ridiculous as I 
imagine the politicians to be, when they make their appearance in 
the arena of philosophy. For, as Euripides says, 

Every man shines in that and pursues that, and devotes the greatest 
portion of the day to that in which he most excels, 

but anything in which he is inferior, he avoids and depreciates, and 
praises the opposite partiality to himself, and because he from that 
he will thus praise himself. The true principle is to unite them. 
Philosophy, as a part of education, is an excellent thing, and there 
is no disgrace to a man while he is young in pursuing such a study; 
but when he is more advanced in years, the thing becomes ridiculous, 
and I feel towards philosophers as I do towards those who lisp and 
imitate children. For I love to see a little child, who is not of an 
age to speak plainly, lisping at his play; there is an appearance of 
grace and freedom in his utterance, which is natural to his childish 
years. But when I hear some small creature carefully articulating 
its words, I am offended; the sound is disagreeable, and has to my 
ears the twang of slavery. So when I hear a man lisping, or see him 
playing like a child, his behaviour appears to me ridiculous and 
unmanly and worthy of stripes. And I have the same feeling about 
students of philosophy; when I see a youth thus engaged-the study 
appears to me to be in character, and becoming a man of liberal 
education, and him who neglects philosophy I regard as an inferior 
man, who will never aspire to anything great or noble. But if I see 
him continuing the study in later life, and not leaving off, I 
should like to beat him, Socrates; for, as I was saying, such a one, 
even though he have good natural parts, becomes effeminate. He flies 
from the busy centre and the market-place, in which, as the poet says, 
men become distinguished; he creeps into a corner for the rest of 
his life, and talks in a whisper with three or four admiring you, 
but never speaks out like a freeman in a satisfactory manner. Now I, 
Socrates, am very well inclined towards you, and my feeling may be 
compared with that of Zethus towards Amphion, in the play of 
Euripides, whom I was mentioning just now: for I am disposed to say to 
you much what Zethus said to his brother, that you, Socrates, are 
careless about the things of which you ought to be careful; and that 
you 

Who have a soul so noble, are remarkable for a puerile exterior; 
Neither in a court of justice could you state a case, or give any 
reason or proof, offer valiant counsel on another's behalf. 

And you must not be offended, my dear Socrates, for I am speaking 
out of good-will towards you, if I ask whether you are not ashamed 
of being thus defenceless; which I affirm to be the condition not of 
you only but of all those who will carry the study of philosophy too 
far. For suppose that some one were to take you, or any one of your 
sort, off to prison, declaring that you had done wrong when you had 
done no wrong, you must allow that you would not know what to 
do: -there you would stand giddy and gaping, and not having a word to 
say; and when you went up before the Court, even if the accuser were a 
poor creature and not good for much, you would die if he were disposed 
to claim the penalty of death. And yet, Socrates, what is the value of 

An art which converts a man of sense into a fool, 

who is helpless, and has no power to save either himself or others, 
when he is in the greatest danger and is going to be despoiled by 
his enemies of all his goods, and has to live, simply deprived of 
his rights of citizenship?-he being a man who, if I may use the 
expression, may be boxed on the ears with impunity. Then, my good 



friend, take my advice, and refute no more: 

Learn the philosophy of business, and acquire the reputation 

of wisdom. 
But leave to others these niceties, 

whether they are to be described as follies or absurdities: 

For they will only 

Give you poverty for the inmate of your dwelling. 

Cease, then, emulating these paltry splitters of words, and 
emulate only the man of substance and honour, who is well to do. 

Soc. If my soul, Callicles, were made of gold, should I not 
rejoice to discover one of those stones with which they test gold, and 
the very best possible one to which I might bring my soul; and if 
the stone and I agreed in approving of her training, then I should 
know that I was in a satisfactory state, and that no other test was 
needed by me . 

Cal . What is your meaning, Socrates? 

Soc. I will tell you; I think that I have found in you the desired 
touchstone . 

Cal. Why? 

Soc. Because I am sure that if you agree with me in any of the 
opinions which my soul forms, I have at last found the truth indeed. 
For I consider that if a man is to make a complete trial of the good 
or evil of the soul, he ought to have three qualities-knowledge, 
good-will, outspokenness, which are all possessed by you. Many whom 
I meet are unable to make trial of me, because they are not wise as 
you are; others are wise, but they will not tell me the truth, because 
they have not the same interest in me which you have; and these two 
strangers, Gorgias and Polus, are undoubtedly wise men and my very 
good friends, but they are not outspoken enough, and they are too 
modest. Why, their modesty is so great that they are driven to 
contradict themselves, first one and then the other of them, in the 
face of a large company, on matters of the highest moment. But you 
have all the qualities in which these others are deficient, having 
received an excellent education; to this many Athenians can testify. 
And are my friend. Shall I tell you why I think so? I know that you, 
Callicles, and Tisander of Aphidnae, and Andron the son of 
Androtion, and Nausicydes of the deme of Cholarges, studied 
together: there were four of you, and I once heard you advising with 
one another as to the extent to which the pursuit of philosophy should 
be carried, and, as I know, you came to the conclusion that the 
study should not be pushed too much into detail. You were cautioning 
one another not to be overwise; you were afraid that too much wisdom 
might unconsciously to yourselves be the ruin of you. And now when I 
hear you giving the same advice to me which you then gave to your most 
intimate friends, I have a sufficient evidence of your real goodwill 
to me. And of the frankness of your nature and freedom from modesty 
I am assured by yourself, and the assurance is confirmed by your 
last speech. Well then, the inference in the present case clearly 
is, that if you agree with me in an argument about any point, that 
point will have been sufficiently tested by us, and will not require 
to be submitted to any further test. For you could not have agreed 
with me, either from lack of knowledge or from superfluity of modesty, 
nor yet from a desire to deceive me, for you are my friend, as you 
tell me yourself. And therefore when you and I are agreed, the 
result will be the attainment of perfect truth. Now there is no nobler 
enquiry, Callicles, than that which you censure me for making, -What 
ought the character of a man to be, and what his pursuits, and how far 
is he to go, both in maturer years and in youth? For be assured that 
if I err in my own conduct I do not err intentionally, but from 
ignorance. Do not then desist from advising me, now that you have 



begun, until I have learned clearly what this is which I am to 
practise, and how I may acquire it. And if you find me assenting to 
your words, and hereafter not doing that to which I assented, call 
me "dolt," and deem me unworthy of receiving further instruction. Once 
more, then, tell me what you and Pindar mean by natural justice: Do 
you not mean that the superior should take the property of the 
inferior by force; that the better should rule the worse, the noble 
have more than the mean? Am I not right in my recollection? 

Cal . Yes; that is what I was saying, and so I still aver. 

Soc. And do you mean by the better the same as the superior? for I 
could not make out what you were saying at the time-whether you 
meant by the superior the stronger, and that the weaker must obey 
the stronger, as you seemed to imply when you said that great cities 
attack small ones in accordance with-natural right, because they are 
superior and stronger, as though the superior and stronger and 
better were the same; or whether the better may be also the inferior 
and weaker, and the superior the worse, or whether better is to be 
defined in the same way as superior: this is the point which I want to 
have cleared up. Are the superior and better and stronger the same 
or different? 

Cal. I say unequivocally that they are the same. 

Soc. Then the many are by nature to the one, against whom, as you 
were saying, they make the laws? 

Cal. Certainly. 

Soc. Then the laws of the many are the laws of the superior? 

Cal . Very true . 

Soc. Then they are the laws of the better; for the superior class 
are far better, as you were saying? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And since they are superior, the laws which are made by them 
are by nature good? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And are not the many of opinion, as you were lately saying, 
that justice is equality, and that to do is more disgraceful than to 
suffer in justice?-is that so or not? Answer, Callicles, and let no 
modesty be: found to come in the way; do the many think, or do they 
not think thus?-I must beg of you to answer, in order that if you 
agree with me I may fortify myself by the assent of so competent an 
authority. 

Cal. Yes; the opinion of the many is what you say. 

Soc. Then not only custom but nature also affirms that to do is more 
disgraceful than to suffer injustice, and that justice is equality; so 
that you seem to have been wrong in your former assertion, when 
accusing me you said that nature and custom are opposed, and that I, 
knowing this, was dishonestly playing between them, appealing to 
custom when the argument is about nature, and to nature when the 
argument is about custom? 

Cal. This man will never cease talking nonsense. At your age, 
Socrates, are you not ashamed to be catching at words and chuckling 
over some verbal slip? do you not see-have I not told you already, 
that by superior I mean better: do you imagine me to say, that if a 
rabble of slaves and nondescripts, who are of no use except perhaps 
for their physical strength, get together their ipsissima verba are 
laws? 

Soc. Ho! my philosopher, is that your line? 

Cal. Certainly. 

Soc. I was thinking, Callicles, that something of the kind must have 
been in your mind, and that is why I repeated the question-What is the 
superior? I wanted to know clearly what you meant; for you surely do 
not think that two men are better than one, or that your slaves are 
better than you because they are stronger? Then please to begin again, 
and tell me who the better are, if they are not the stronger; and I 
will ask you, great Sir, to be a little milder in your instructions, 
or I shall have to run away from you. 



Cal . You are ironical. 

Soc. No, by the hero Zethus, Callicles, by whose aid you were just 
now saying many ironical things against me, I am not: -tell me, then, 
whom you mean, by the better? 

Cal. I mean the more excellent. 

Soc. Do you not see that you are yourself using words which have 
no meaning and that you are explaining nothing?-will you tell me 
whether you mean by the better and superior the wiser, or if not, 
whom? 

Cal. Most assuredly, I do mean the wiser. 

Soc. Then according to you, one wise man may often be superior to 
ten thousand fools, and he ought them, and they ought to be his 
subjects, and he ought to have more than they should. This is what I 
believe that you mean (and you must not suppose that I am 
word-catching) , if you allow that the one is superior to the ten 
thousand? 

Cal. Yes; that is what I mean, and that is what I conceive to be 
natural justice-that the better and wiser should rule have more than 
the inferior. 

Soc. Stop there, and let me ask you what you would say in this case: 
Let us suppose that we are all together as we are now; there are 
several of us, and we have a large common store of meats and drinks, 
and there are all sorts of persons in our company having various 
degrees of strength and weakness, and one of us, being physician, is 
wiser in the matter of food than all the rest, and he is probably 
stronger than some and not so strong as others of us-will he not, 
being wiser, be also better than we are, and our superior in this 
matter of food? 

Cal . Certainly . 

Soc. Either, then, he will have a larger share of the meats and 
drinks, because he is better, or he will have the distribution of 
all of them by reason of his authority, but he will not expend or make 
use of a larger share of them on his own person, or if he does, he 
will be punished-his share will exceed that of some, and be less 
than that of others, and if he be the weakest of all, he being the 
best of all will have the smallest share of all, Callicles : -am I not 
right, my friend? 

Cal. You talk about meats and drinks and physicians and other 
nonsense; I am not speaking of them. 

Soc. Well, but do you admit that the wiser is the better? Answer 
"Yes" or "No." 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And ought not the better to have a larger share? 

Cal. Not of meats and drinks. 

Soc. I understand: then, perhaps, of coats -the skilfullest weaver 
ought to have the largest coat, and the greatest number of them, and 
go about clothed in the best and finest of them? 

Cal . Fudge about coats ! 

Soc. Then the skilfullest and best in making shoes ought to have the 
advantage in shoes; the shoemaker, clearly, should walk about in the 
largest shoes, and have the greatest number of them? 

Cal. Fudge about shoes! What nonsense are you talking? 

Soc. Or, if this is not your meaning, perhaps you would say that the 
wise and good and true husbandman should actually have a larger 
share of seeds, and have as much seed as possible for his own land? 

Cal. How you go on, always talking in the same way, Socrates! 

Soc. Yes, Callicles, and also about the same things. 

Cal. Yes, by the Gods, you are literally always talking of 
cobblers and fullers and cooks and doctors, as if this had to do 
with our argument. 

Soc. But why will you not tell me in what a man must be superior and 
wiser in order to claim a larger share; will you neither accept a 
suggestion, nor offer one? 

Cal. I have already told you. In the first place, I mean by 



superiors not cobblers or cooks, but wise politicians who understand 
the administration of a state, and who are not only wise, but also 
valiant and able to carry, out their designs, and not the men to faint 
from want of soul. 

Soc. See now, most excellent Callicles, how different my charge 
against you is from that which you bring against me, for you 
reproach me with always saying the same; but I reproach you with never 
saying the same about the same things, for at one time you were 
defining the better and the superior to be the stronger, then again as 
the wiser, and now you bring forward a new notion; the superior and 
the better are now declared by you to be the more courageous : I 
wish, my good friend, that you would tell me once for all, whom you 
affirm to be the better and superior, and in what they are better? 

Cal . I have already told you that I mean those who are wise and 
courageous in the administration of a state-they ought to be the 
rulers of their states, and justice consists in their having more than 
their subjects. 

Soc. But whether rulers or subjects will they or will they not 
have more than themselves, my friend? 

Cal. What do you mean? 

Soc. I mean that every man is his own ruler; but perhaps you think 
that there is no necessity for him to rule himself; he is only 
required to rule others? 

Cal. What do you mean by his "ruling over himself"? 

Soc. A simple thing enough; just what is commonly said, that a man 
should be temperate and master of himself, and ruler of his own 
pleasures and passions. 

Cal. What innocence! you mean those fools-the temperate? 

Soc. Certainly : -any one may know that to be my meaning. 

Cal. Quite so, Socrates; and they are really fools, for how can a 
man be happy who is the servant of anything? On the contrary, I 
plainly assert, that he who would truly live ought to allow his 
desires to wax to the uttermost, and not to chastise them; but when 
they have grown to their greatest he should have courage and 
intelligence to minister to them and to satisfy all his longings. 
And this I affirm to be natural justice and nobility. To this 
however the many cannot attain; and they blame the strong man 
because they are ashamed of their own weakness, which they desire to 
conceal, and hence they say that intemperance is base. As I have 
remarked already, they enslave the nobler natures, and being unable to 
satisfy their pleasures, they praise temperance and justice out of 
their own cowardice. For if a man had been originally the son of a 
king, or had a nature capable of acquiring an empire or a tyranny or 
sovereignty, what could be more truly base or evil than temperance--to 
a man like him, I say, who might freely be enjoying every good, and 
has no one to stand in his way, and yet has admitted custom and reason 
and the opinion of other men to be lords over him?-must not he be in a 
miserable plight whom the reputation of justice and temperance hinders 
from giving more to his friends than to his enemies, even though he be 
a ruler in his city? Nay, Socrates, for you profess to be a votary 
of the truth, and the truth is this: -that luxury and intemperance 
and licence, if they be provided with means, are virtue and 
happiness-all the rest is a mere bauble, agreements contrary to 
nature, foolish talk of men, nothing worth. 

Soc. There is a noble freedom, Callicles, in your way of approaching 
the argument; for what you say is what the rest of the world think, 
but do not like to say. And I must beg of you to persevere, that the 
true rule of human life may become manifest. Tell me, then: -you say, 
do you not, that in the rightly-developed man the passions ought not 
to be controlled, but that we should let them grow to the utmost and 
somehow or other satisfy them, and that this is virtue? 

Cal. Yes; I do. 

Soc. Then those who want nothing are not truly said to be happy? 

Cal . No indeed, for then stones and dead men would be the happiest 



of all. 

Soc. But surely life according to your view is an awful thing; and 
indeed I think that Euripides may have been right in saying, 

Who knows if life be not death and death life; 

and that we are very likely dead; I have heard a philosopher say 
that at this moment we are actually dead, and that the body (soma) 
is our tomb (sema), and that the part of the soul which is the seat of 
the desires is liable to be tossed about by words and blown up and 
down; and some ingenious person, probably a Sicilian or an Italian, 
playing with the word, invented a tale in which he called the 
soul-because of its believing and make-believe nature-a vessel, and 
the ignorant he called the uninitiated or leaky, and the place in 
the souls of the uninitiated in which the desires are seated, being 
the intemperate and incontinent part, he compared to a vessel full 
of holes, because it can never be satisfied. He is not of your way 
of thinking, Callicles, for he declares, that of all the souls in 
Hades, meaning the invisible world these uninitiated or leaky 
persons are the most miserable, and that they pour water into a vessel 
which is full of holes out of a colander which is similarly 
perforated. The colander, as my informer assures me, is the soul, 
and the soul which he compares to a colander is the soul of the 
ignorant, which is likewise full of holes, and therefore 
incontinent, owing to a bad memory and want of faith. These notions 
are strange enough, but they show the principle which, if I can, I 
would fain prove to you; that you should change your mind, and, 
instead of the intemperate and insatiate life, choose that which is 
orderly and sufficient and has a due provision for daily needs. Do I 
make any impression on you, and are you coming over to the opinion 
that the orderly are happier than the intemperate? Or do I fail to 
persuade you, and, however many tales I rehearse to you, do you 
continue of the same opinion still? 

Cal . The latter, Socrates, is more like the truth. 

Soc. Well, I will tell you another image, which comes out of the 
same school: -Let me request you to consider how far you would accept 
this as an account of the two lives of the temperate and intemperate 
in a figure : -There are two men, both of whom have a number of casks; 
the one man has his casks sound and full, one of wine, another of 
honey, and a third of milk, besides others filled with other 
liquids, and the streams which fill them are few and scanty, and he 
can only obtain them with a great deal of toil and difficulty; but 
when his casks are once filled he has need to feed them anymore, and 
has no further trouble with them or care about them. The other, in 
like manner, can procure streams, though not without difficulty; but 
his vessels are leaky and unsound, and night and day he is compelled 
to be filling them, and if he pauses for a moment, he is in an agony 
of pain. Such are their respective lives: -And now would you say that 
the life of the intemperate is happier than that of the temperate? 
Do I not convince you that the opposite is the truth? 

Cal. You do not convince me, Socrates, for the one who has filled 
himself has no longer any pleasure left; and this, as I was just now 
saying, is the life of a stone: he has neither joy nor sorrow after he 
is once filled; but the pleasure depends on the superabundance of 
the influx. 

Soc. But the more you pour in, the greater the waste; and the 
holes must be large for the liquid to escape. 

Cal. Certainly. 

Soc. The life which you are now depicting is not that of a dead man, 
or of a stone, but of a cormorant; you mean that he is to be hungering 
and eating? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And he is to be thirsting and drinking? 

Cal. Yes, that is what I mean; he is to have all his desires about 



him, and to be able to live happily in the gratification of them. 

Soc. Capital, excellent; go on as you have begun, and have no shame; 
I, too, must disencumber myself of shame: and first, will you tell 
me whether you include itching and scratching, provided you have 
enough of them and pass your life in scratching, in your notion of 
happiness? 

Cal . What a strange being you are, Socrates! a regular mob-orator. 

Soc. That was the reason, Callicles, why I scared Polus and Gorgias, 
until they were too modest to say what they thought; but you will 
not be too modest and will not be scared, for you are a brave man. And 
now, answer my question. 

Cal. I answer, that even the scratcher would live pleasantly. 

Soc. And if pleasantly, then also happily? 

Cal. To be sure. 

Soc. But what if the itching is not confined to the head? Shall I 
pursue the question? And here, Callicles, I would have you consider 
how you would reply if consequences are pressed upon you, especially 
if in the last resort you are asked, whether the life of a catamite is 
not terrible, foul, miserable? Or would you venture to say, that 
they too are happy, if they only get enough of what they want? 

Cal. Are you not ashamed, Socrates, of introducing such topics 
into the argument? 

Soc. Well, my fine friend, but am I the introducer of these 
topics, or he who says without any qualification that all who feel 
pleasure in whatever manner are happy, and who admits of no 
distinction between good and bad pleasures? And I would still ask, 
whether you say that pleasure and good are the same, or whether 
there is some pleasure which is not a good? 

Cal. Well, then, for the sake of consistency, I will say that they 
are the same. 

Soc. You are breaking the original agreement, Callicles, and will no 
longer be a satisfactory companion in the search after truth, if you 
say what is contrary to your real opinion. 

Cal. Why, that is what you are doing too, Socrates. 

Soc. Then we are both doing wrong. Still, my dear friend, I would 
ask you to consider whether pleasure, from whatever source derived, is 
the good; for, if this be true, then the disagreeable consequences 
which have been darkly intimated must follow, and many others. 

Cal. That, Socrates, is only your opinion. 

Soc. And do you, Callicles, seriously maintain what you are saying? 

Cal. Indeed I do. 

Soc. Then, as you are in earnest, shall we proceed with the 
argument? 

Cal. By all means. 

Soc. Well, if you are willing to proceed, determine this question 
for me: -There is something, I presume, which you would call knowledge? 

Cal. There is. 

Soc. And were you not saying just now, that some courage implied 
knowledge? 

Cal . I was . 

Soc. And you were speaking of courage and knowledge as two things 
different from one another? 

Cal . Certainly I was . 

Soc. And would you say that pleasure and knowledge are the same, 
or not the same? 

Cal. Not the same, man of wisdom. 

Soc. And would you say that courage differed from pleasure? 

Cal . Certainly . 

Soc. Well, then, let us remember that Callicles, the Acharnian, says 
that pleasure and good are the same; but that knowledge and courage 
are not the same, either with one another, or with the good. 

Cal. And what does our friend Socrates, of Foxton, say -does he 
assent to this, or not? 



Soc. He does not assent; neither will Callicles, when he sees 
himself truly. You will admit, I suppose, that good and evil fortune 
are opposed to each other? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And if they are opposed to each other, then, like health and 
disease, they exclude one another; a man cannot have them both, or 
be without them both, at the same time? 

Cal. What do you mean? 

Soc. Take the case of any bodily affection: -a man may have the 
complaint in his eyes which is called ophthalmia? 

Cal. To be sure. 

Soc. But he surely cannot have the same eyes well and sound at the 
same time? 

Cal. Certainly not. 

Soc. And when he has got rid of his ophthalmia, has he got rid of 
the health of his eyes too? Is the final result, that he gets rid of 
them both together? 

Cal. Certainly not. 

Soc. That would surely be marvellous and absurd? 

Cal. Very. 

Soc. I suppose that he is affected by them, and gets rid of them 
in turns? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And he may have strength and weakness in the same way, by fits? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Or swiftness and slowness? 

Cal. Certainly. 

Soc. And does he have and not have good and happiness, and their 
opposites, evil and misery, in a similar alternation? 

Cal . Certainly he has . 

Soc. If then there be anything which a man has and has not at the 
same time, clearly that cannot be good and evil-do we agree? Please 
not to answer without consideration. 

Cal. I entirely agree. 

Soc. Go back now to our former admissions . -Did you say that to 
hunger, I mean the mere state of hunger, was pleasant or painful? 

Cal. I said painful, but that to eat when you are hungry is 
pleasant . 

Soc. I know; but still the actual hunger is painful: am I not right? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And thirst, too, is painful? 

Cal. Yes, very. 

Soc. Need I adduce any more instances, or would you agree that all 
wants or desires are painful? 

Cal. I agree, and therefore you need not adduce any more instances. 
Soc. Very good. And you would admit that to drink, when you are 
thirsty, is pleasant? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And in the sentence which you have just uttered, the word 
"thirsty" implies pain? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And the word "drinking" is expressive of pleasure, and of the 
satisfaction of the want? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. There is pleasure in drinking? 

Cal. Certainly. 

Soc. When you are thirsty? 

Soc. And in pain? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Do you see the inference : -that pleasure and pain are 
simultaneous, when you say that being thirsty, you drink? For are they 
not simultaneous, and do they not affect at the same time the same 
part, whether of the soul or the body?-which of them is affected 
cannot be supposed to be of any consequence: Is not this true? 



Cal. It is. 

Soc. You said also, that no man could have good and evil fortune 
at the same time? 

Cal. Yes, I did. 

Soc. But, you admitted that when in pain a man might also have 
pleasure? 

Cal. Clearly. 

Soc. Then pleasure is not the same as good fortune, or pain the same 
as evil fortune, and therefore the good is not the same as the 
pleasant? 

Cal. I wish I knew, Socrates, what your quibbling means. 

Soc. You know, Callicles, but you affect not to know. 

Cal. Well, get on, and don't keep fooling: then you will know what a 
wiseacre you are in your admonition of me. 

Soc. Does not a man cease from his thirst and from his pleasure in 
drinking at the same time? 

Cal. I do not understand what you are saying. 

Gor. Nay, Callicles, answer, if only for our sakes;-we should like 
to hear the argument out. 

Cal. Yes, Gorgias, but I must complain of the habitual trifling of 
Socrates; he is always arguing about little and unworthy questions. 

Gor. What matter? Your reputation, Callicles, is not at stake. Let 
Socrates argue in his own fashion. 

Cal. Well, then, Socrates, you shall ask these little peddling 
questions, since Gorgias wishes to have them. 

Soc. I envy you, Callicles, for having been initiated into the great 
mysteries before you were initiated into the lesser. I thought that 
this was not allowable, But to return to our argument : -Does not a 
man cease from thirsting and from pleasure of drinking at the same 
moment? 

Cal. True. 

Soc. And if he is hungry, or has any other desire, does he not cease 
from the desire and the pleasure at the same moment? 

Cal . Very true . 

Soc. Then he ceases from pain and pleasure at the same moment? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. But he does not cease from good and evil at the same moment, as 
you have admitted: do you still adhere to what you said? 

Cal. Yes, I do; but what is the inference? 

Soc. Why, my friend, the inference is that the good is not the 
same as the pleasant, or the evil the same as the painful; there is 
a cessation of pleasure and pain at the same moment; but not of good 
and evil, for they are different. How then can pleasure be the same as 
good, or pain as evil? And I would have you look at the matter in 
another light, which could hardly, I think, have been considered by 
you identified them: Are not the good they have good present with 
them, as the beautiful are those who have beauty present with them? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And do you call the fools and cowards good men? For you were 
saying just now that the courageous and the wise are the good would 
you not say so? 

Cal. Certainly. 

Soc. And did you never see a foolish child rejoicing? 

Cal . Yes, I have . 

Soc. And a foolish man too? 

Cal. Yes, certainly; but what is your drift? 

Soc. Nothing particular, if you will only answer. 

Cal . Yes, I have . 

Soc. And did you ever see a sensible man rejoicing or sorrowing? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Which rejoice and sorrow most-the wise or the foolish? 

Cal. They are much upon a par, I think, in that respect. 

Soc. Enough: And did you ever see a coward in battle? 

Cal. To be sure. 



Soc. And which rejoiced most at the departure of the enemy, the 
coward or the brave? 

Cal . I should say "most" of both; or at any rate, they rejoiced 
about equally. 

Soc. No matter; then the cowards, and not only the brave, rejoice? 

Cal. Greatly. 

Soc. And the foolish; so it would seem? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And are only the cowards pained at the approach of their 
enemies, or are the brave also pained? 

Cal. Both are pained. 

Soc. And are they equally pained? 

Cal. I should imagine that the cowards are more pained. 

Soc. And are they better pleased at the enemy's departure? 

Cal. I dare say. 

Soc. Then are the foolish and the wise and the cowards and the brave 
all pleased and pained, as you were saying, in nearly equal degree; 
but are the cowards more pleased and pained than the brave? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. But surely the wise and brave are the good, and the foolish and 
the cowardly are the bad? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Then the good and the bad are pleased and pained in a nearly 
equal degree? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Then are the good and bad good and bad in a nearly equal 
degree, or have the bad the advantage both in good and evil? [i.e. 
in having more pleasure and more pain.] 

Cal I really do not know what you mean. 

Soc. Why, do you not remember saying that the good were good because 
good was present with them, and the evil because evil; and that 
pleasures were goods and pains evils? 

Cal. Yes, I remember. 

Soc. And are not these pleasures or goods present to those who 
rejoice-if they do rejoice? 

Cal. Certainly. 

Soc. Then those who rejoice are good when goods are present with 
them? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And those who are in pain have evil or sorrow present with 
them? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And would you still say that the evil are evil by reason of the 
presence of evil? 

Cal . I should . 

Soc. Then those who rejoice are good, and those who are in pain 
evil? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. The degrees of good and evil vary with the degrees of 
pleasure and of pain? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Have the wise man and the fool, the brave and the coward, joy 
and pain in nearly equal degrees? or would you say that the coward has 
more? 

Cal . I should say that he has . 

Soc. Help me then to draw out the conclusion which follows from 
our admissions; for it is good to repeat and review what is good twice 
and thrice over, as they say. Both the wise man and the brave man we 
allow to be good? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And the foolish man and the coward to be evil? 

Cal . Certainly . 

Soc. And he who has joy is good? 

Cal. Yes. 



Soc. And he who is in pain is evil? 

Cal . Certainly. 

Soc. The good and evil both have joy and pain, but, perhaps, the 
evil has more of them? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Then must we not infer, that the bad man is as good and bad 
as the good, or, perhaps, even better?-is not this a further inference 
which follows equally with the preceding from the assertion that the 
good and the pleasant are the same: -can this be denied, Callicles? 

Cal. I have been listening and making admissions to you, Socrates; 
and I remark that if a person grants you anything in play, you, like a 
child, want to keep hold and will not give it back. But do you 
really suppose that I or any other human being denies that some 
pleasures are good and others bad? 

Soc. Alas, Callicles, how unfair you are! you certainly treat me 
as if I were a child, sometimes saying one thing, and then another, as 
if you were meaning to deceive me. And yet I thought at first that you 
were my friend, and would not have deceived me if you could have 
helped. But I see that I was mistaken; and now I suppose that I must 
make the best of a bad business, as they said of old, and take what 
I can get out of you. -Well, then, as I understand you to say, I may 
assume that some pleasures are good and others evil? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. The beneficial are good, and the hurtful are evil? 

Cal. To be sure. 

Soc. And the beneficial are those which do some good, and the 
hurtful are those which do some evil? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Take, for example, the bodily pleasures of eating and drinking, 
which were just now mentioning-you mean to say that those which 
promote health, or any other bodily excellence, are good, and their 
opposites evil? 

Cal. Certainly. 

Soc. And in the same way there are good pains and there are evil 
pains? 

Cal. To be sure. 

Soc. And ought we not to choose and use the good pleasures and 
pains? 

Cal. Certainly. 

Soc. But not the evil? 

Cal. Clearly. 

Soc. Because, if you remember, Polus and I have agreed that all 
our actions are to be done for the sake of the good-and will you agree 
with us in saying, that the good is the end of all our actions, and 
that all our actions are to be done for the sake of the good, and 
not the good, for of them?-will you add a third vote to our two? 

Cal. I will. 

Soc. Then pleasure, like everything else, is to be sought for the 
sake of that which is good, and not that which is good for the sake of 
pleasure? 

Cal. To be sure. 

Soc. But can every man choose what pleasures are good and what are 
evil, or must he have art or knowledge of them in detail? 

Cal. He must have art. 

Soc. Let me now remind you of what I was saying to Gorgias and 
Polus; I was saying, as you will not have forgotten, that there were 
some processes which aim only at pleasure, and know nothing of a 
better and worse, and there are other processes which know good and 
evil. And I considered that cookery, which I do not call an art, but 
only an experience, was of the former class, which is concerned with 
pleasure, and that the art of medicine was of the class which is 
concerned with the good. And now, by the god of friendship, I must beg 
you, Callicles, not to jest, or to imagine that I am jesting with you; 
do not answer at random and contrary to your real opinion-for you will 



observe that we are arguing about the way of human life; and to a 
man who has any sense at all, what question can be more serious than 
this?-whether he should follow after that way of life to which you 
exhort me, and act what you call the manly part of speaking in the 
assembly, and cultivating rhetoric, and engaging in public affairs, 
according to the principles now in vogue; or whether he should 
pursue the life of philosophy-and in what the latter way differs 
from the former. But perhaps we had better first try to distinguish 
them, as I did before, and when we have come to an agreement that they 
are distinct, we may proceed to consider in what they differ from 
one another, and which of them we should choose. Perhaps, however, you 
do not even now understand what I mean? 

Cal. No, I do not. 

Soc. Then I will explain myself more clearly: seeing that you and 
I have agreed that there is such a thing as good, and that there is 
such a thing as pleasure, and that pleasure is not the same as good, 
and that the pursuit and process of acquisition of the one, that is 
pleasure, is different from the pursuit and process of acquisition 
of the other, which is good-I wish that you would tell me whether 
you agree with me thus far or not-do you agree? 

Cal. I do. 

Soc. Then I will proceed, and ask whether you also agree with me, 
and whether you think that I spoke the truth when I further said to 
Gorgias and Polus that cookery in my opinion is only an experience, 
and not an art at all; and that whereas medicine is an art, and 
attends to the nature and constitution of the patient, and has 
principles of action and reason in each case, cookery in attending 
upon pleasure never regards either the nature or reason of that 
pleasure to which she devotes herself, but goes straight to her end, 
nor ever considers or calculates anything, but works by experience and 
routine, and just preserves the recollection of what she has usually 
done when producing pleasure. And first, I would have you consider 
whether I have proved what I was saying, and then whether there are 
not other similar processes which have to do with the soul-some of 
them processes of art, making a provision for the soul's highest 
interest-others despising the interest, and, as in the previous 
case, considering only the pleasure of the soul, and how this may be 
acquired, but not considering what pleasures are good or bad, and 
having no other aim but to afford gratification, whether good or 
bad. In my opinion, Callicles, there are such processes, and this is 
the sort of thing which I term flattery, whether concerned with the 
body or the soul, or whenever employed with a view to pleasure and 
without any consideration of good and evil. And now I wish that you 
would tell me whether you agree with us in this notion, or whether you 
differ . 

Cal. I do not differ; on the contrary, I agree; for in that way I 
shall soonest bring the argument to an end, and shall oblige my friend 
Gorgias . 

Soc. And is this notion true of one soul, or of two or more? 

Cal. Equally true of two or more. 

Soc. Then a man may delight a whole assembly, and yet have no regard 
for their true interests? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Can you tell me the pursuits which delight mankind-or rather, 
if you would prefer, let me ask, and do you answer, which of them 
belong to the pleasurable class, and which of them not? In the first 
place, what say you of flute-playing? Does not that appear to be an 
art which seeks only pleasure, Callicles, and thinks of nothing else? 

Cal. I assent. 

Soc. And is not the same true of all similar arts, as, for 
example, the art of playing the lyre at festivals? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And what do you say of the choral art and of dithyrambic 
poetry?-are not they of the same nature? Do you imagine that 



Cinesias the son of Meles cares about what will tend to the moral 
improvement of his hearers, or about what will give pleasure to the 
multitude? 

Cal . There can be no mistake about Cinesias, Socrates. 

Soc. And what do you say of his father, Meles the harp-player? Did 
he perform with any view to the good of his hearers? Could he be 
said to regard even their pleasure? For his singing was an 
infliction to his audience. And of harp playing and dithyrambic poetry 
in general, what would you say? Have they not been invented wholly for 
the sake of pleasure? 

Cal. That is my notion of them. 

Soc. And as for the Muse of Tragedy, that solemn and august 
personage-what are her aspirations? Is all her aim and desire only 
to give pleasure to the spectators, or does she fight against them and 
refuse to speak of their pleasant vices, and willingly proclaim in 
word and song truths welcome and unwelcome?-which in your judgment 
is her character? 

Cal. There can be no doubt, Socrates, that Tragedy has her face 
turned towards pleasure and the gratification of the audience. 

Soc. And is not that the sort of thing, Callicles, which we were 
just now describing as flattery? 

Cal. Quite true. 

Soc. Well now, suppose that we strip all poetry of song and rhythm 
and metre, there will remain speech? 

Cal. To be sure. 

Soc. And this speech is addressed to a crowd of people? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Then, poetry is a sort of rhetoric? 

Cal. True. 

Soc. And do not the poets in the theatres seem to you to be 
rhetoricians? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Then now we have discovered a sort of rhetoric which is 
addressed to a crowd of men, women, and children, freemen and 
slaves. And this is not much to our taste, for we have described it as 
having the nature of flattery. 

Cal. Quite true. 

Soc. Very good. And what do you say of that other rhetoric which 
addresses the Athenian assembly and the assemblies of freemen in other 
states? Do the rhetoricians appear to you always to aim at what is 
best, and do they seek to improve the citizens by their speeches, or 
are they too, like the rest of mankind, bent upon giving them 
pleasure, forgetting the public good in the thought of their own 
interest, playing with the people as with children, and trying to 
amuse them, but never considering whether they are better or worse for 
this? 

Cal. I must distinguish. There are some who have a real care of 
the public in what they say, while others are such as you describe. 

Soc. I am contented with the admission that rhetoric is of two 
sorts; one, which is mere flattery and disgraceful declamation; the 
other, which is noble and aims at the training and improvement of 
the souls of the citizens, and strives to say what is best, whether 
welcome or unwelcome, to the audience; but have you ever known such 
a rhetoric; or if you have, and can point out any rhetorician who is 
of this stamp, who is he? 

Cal. But, indeed, I am afraid that I cannot tell you of any such 
among the orators who are at present living. 

Soc. Well, then, can you mention any one of a former generation, who 
may be said to have improved the Athenians, who found them worse and 
made them better, from the day that he began to make speeches? for, 
indeed, I do not know of such a man. 

Cal. What! did you never hear that Themistocles was a good man, 
and Cimon and Miltiades and Pericles, who is just lately dead, and 
whom you heard yourself? 



Soc. Yes, Callicles, they were good men, if, as you said at first, 
true virtue consists only in the satisfaction of our own desires and 
those of others; but if not, and if, as we were afterwards compelled 
to acknowledge, the satisfaction of some desires makes us better, 
and of others, worse, and we ought to gratify the one and not the 
other, and there is an art in distinguishing them-can you tell me of 
any of these statesmen who did distinguish them? 

Cal . No, indeed, I cannot. 

Soc. Yet, surely, Callicles, if you look you will find such a one. 
Suppose that we just calmly consider whether any of these was such 
as I have described. Will not the good man, who says whatever he 
says with a view to the best, speak with a reference to some 
standard and not at random; just as all other artists, whether the 
painter, the builder, the shipwright, or any other look all of them to 
their own work, and do not select and apply at random what they apply, 
but strive to give a definite form to it? The artist disposes all 
things in order, and compels the one part to harmonize and accord with 
the other part, until he has constructed a regular and systematic 
whole; and this is true of all artists, and in the same way the 
trainers and physicians, of whom we spoke before, give order and 
regularity to the body: do you deny this? 

Cal. No; I am ready to admit it. 

Soc. Then the house in which order and regularity prevail is good, 
that in which there is disorder, evil? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And the same is true of a ship? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And the same may be said of the human body? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And what would you say of the soul? Will the good soul be 
that in which disorder is prevalent, or that in which there is harmony 
and order? 

Cal. The latter follows from our previous admissions. 

Soc. What is the name which is given to the effect of harmony and 
order in the body? 

Cal. I suppose that you mean health and strength? 

Soc. Yes, I do; and what is the name which you would give to the 
effect of harmony and order in the soul? Try and discover a name for 
this as well as for the other. 

Cal. Why not give the name yourself, Socrates? 

Soc. Well, if you had rather that I should, I will; and you shall 
say whether you agree with me, and if not, you shall refute and answer 
me. "Healthy," as I conceive, is the name which is given to the 
regular order of the body, whence comes health and every other 
bodily excellence: is that true or not? 

Cal. True. 

Soc. And "lawful" and "law" are the names which are given to the 
regular order and action of the soul, and these make men lawful and 
orderly: -and so we have temperance and justice: have we not? 

Cal. Granted. 

Soc. And will not the true rhetorician who is honest and understands 
his art have his eye fixed upon these, in all the words which he 
addresses to the souls of men, and in all his actions, both in what he 
gives and in what he takes away? Will not his aim be to implant 
justice in the souls of his citizens mind take away injustice, to 
implant temperance and take away intemperance, to implant every virtue 
and take away every vice? Do you not agree? 

Cal. I agree. 

Soc. For what use is there, Callicles, in giving to the body of a 
sick man who is in a bad state of health a quantity of the most 
delightful food or drink or any other pleasant thing, which may be 
really as bad for him as if you gave him nothing, or even worse if 
rightly estimated. Is not that true? 

Cal. I will not say No to it. 



Soc. For in my opinion there is no profit in a man's life if his 
body is in an evil plight-in that case his life also is evil: am I not 
right? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. When a man is in health the physicians will generally allow him 
to eat when he is hungry and drink when he is thirsty, and to 
satisfy his desires as he likes, but when he is sick they hardly 
suffer him to satisfy his desires at all: even you will admit that? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And does not the same argument hold of the soul, my good sir? 
While she is in a bad state and is senseless and intemperate and 
unjust and unholy, her desires ought to be controlled, and she ought 
to be prevented from doing anything which does not tend to her own 
improvement . 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Such treatment will be better for the soul herself? 

Cal. To be sure. 

Soc. And to restrain her from her appetites is to chastise her? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Then restraint or chastisement is better for the soul than 
intemperance or the-absence of control, which you were just now 
preferring? 

Cal. I do not understand you, Socrates, and I wish that you would 
ask some one who does. 

Soc. Here is a gentleman who cannot endure to be improved or: to 
subject himself to that very chastisement of which the argument 
speaks ! 

Cal. I do not heed a word of what you are saying, and have only 
answered hitherto out of civility to Gorgias . 

Soc. What are we to do, then? Shall we break off in the middle? 

Cal. You shall judge for yourself. 

Soc. Well, but people say that "a tale should have a head and not 
break off in the middle, " and I should not like to have the argument 
going about without a head; please then to go on a little longer, 
and put the head on . 

Cal. How tyrannical you are, Socrates! I wish that you and your 
argument would rest, or that you would get some one else to argue with 
you . 

Soc. But who else is willing?-! want to finish the argument. 

Cal. Cannot you finish without my help, either talking straight: on, 
or questioning and answering yourself? 

Soc. Must I then say with Epicharmus, "Two men spoke before, but now 
one shall be enough"? I suppose that there is absolutely no help. 
And if I am to carry on the enquiry by myself, I will first of all 
remark that not only, but all of us should have an ambition to know 
what is true and what is false in this matter, for the discovery of 
the truth is common good. And now I will proceed to argue according to 
my own notion. But if any of you think that I arrive at conclusions 
which are untrue you must interpose and refute me, for I do not 
speak from any knowledge of what I am saying; I am an enquirer like 
yourselves, and therefore, if my opponent says anything which is of 
force, I shall be the first to agree with him. I am speaking on the 
supposition that the argument ought to be completed; but if you 
think otherwise let us leave off and go our ways. 

Gor. I think, Socrates, that we should not go our ways until you 
have completed the argument; and this appears to me to be the wish 
of the rest of the company; I myself should very much like to hear 
what more you have to say. 

Soc. I too, Gorgias, should have liked to continue the argument with 
Callicles, and then I might have given him an "Amphion" in return 
for his "Zethus"; but since you, Callicles, are unwilling to continue, 
I hope that you will listen, and interrupt me if I seem to you to be 
in error. And if you refute me, I shall not be angry with you as you 
are with me, but I shall inscribe you as the greatest of benefactors 



on the tablets of my soul. 

Cal . My good fellow, never mind me, but get on. 

Soc. Listen to me, then, while I recapitulate the argument: -Is the 
pleasant the same as the good? Not the same. Callicles and I are 
agreed about that. And is the pleasant to be pursued for the sake of 
the good? or the good for the sake of the pleasant? The pleasant is to 
be pursued for the sake of the good. And that is pleasant at the 
presence of which we are pleased, and that is good at the presence 
of which we are good? To be sure. And we-good, and all good things 
whatever are good when some virtue is present in us or them? That, 
Callicles, is my conviction. But the virtue of each thing, whether 
body or soul, instrument or creature, when given to them in the best 
way comes to them not by chance but as the result of the order and 
truth and art which are imparted to them: Am I not right? I maintain 
that I am. And is not the virtue of each thing dependent on order or 
arrangement? Yes, I say. And that which makes a thing good is the 
proper order inhering in each thing? Such is my view. And is not the 
soul which has an order of her own better than that which has no 
order? Certainly. And the soul which has order is orderly? Of 
course. And that which is orderly is temperate? Assuredly. And the 
temperate soul is good? No other answer can I give, Callicles dear; 
have you any? 

Cal. Go on, my good fellow. 

Soc. Then I shall proceed to add, that if the, temperate soul is the 
good soul, the soul which is in the opposite condition, that is, the 
foolish and intemperate, is the bad soul. Very true. 

And will not the temperate man do what is proper, both in relation 
to the gods and to men; -for he would not be temperate if he did 
not? Certainly he will do what is proper. In his relation to other men 
he will do what is just; See and in his relation to the gods he will 
do what is holy; and he who does what is just and holy must be just 
and holy? Very true. And must he not be courageous? for the duty of 
a temperate man is not to follow or to avoid what he ought not, but 
what he ought, whether things or men or pleasures or pains, and 
patiently to endure when he ought; and therefore, Callicles, the 
temperate man, being, as we have described, also just and courageous 
and holy, cannot be other than a perfectly good man, nor can the 
good man do otherwise than well and perfectly whatever he does; and he 
who does well must of necessity be happy and blessed, and the evil man 
who does evil, miserable: now this latter is he whom you were 
applauding-the intemperate who is the opposite of the temperate. 
Such is my position, and these things I affirm to be true. And if they 
are true, then I further affirm that he who desires to be happy must 
pursue and practise temperance and run away from intemperance as 
fast as his legs will carry him: he had better order his life so as 
not to need punishment; but if either he or any of his friends, 
whether private individual or city, are in need of punishment, then 
justice must be done and he must suffer punishment, if he would be 
happy. This appears to me to be the aim which a man ought to have, and 
towards which he ought to direct all the energies both of himself 
and of the state, acting so that he may have temperance and justice 
present with him and be happy, not suffering his lusts to be 
unrestrained, and in the never-ending desire satisfy them leading a 
robber's life. Such; one is the friend neither of God nor man, for 
he is incapable of communion, and he who is incapable of communion 
is also incapable of friendship. And philosophers tell us, 
Callicles, that communion and friendship and orderliness and 
temperance and justice bind together heaven and earth and gods and 
men, and that this universe is therefore called Cosmos or order, not 
disorder or misrule, my friend. But although you are a philosopher you 
seem to me never to have observed that geometrical equality is mighty, 
both among gods and men; you think that you ought to cultivate 
inequality or excess, and do not care about geometry . -Well, then, 
either the principle that the happy are made happy by the possession 



of justice and temperance, and the miserable the possession of vice, 
must be refuted, or, if it is granted, what will be the 

consequences? All the consequences which I drew before, Callicles, and 
about which you asked me whether I was in earnest when I said that a 
man ought to accuse himself and his son and his friend if he did 
anything wrong, and that to this end he should use his rhetoric-all 
those consequences are true. And that which you thought that Polus was 
led to admit out of modesty is true, viz., that, to do injustice, if 
more disgraceful than to suffer, is in that degree worse; and the 
other position, which, according to Polus, Gorgias admitted out of 
modesty, that he who would truly be a rhetorician ought to be just and 
have a knowledge of justice, has also turned out to be true. 

And now, these things being as we have said, let us proceed in the 
next place to consider whether you are right in throwing in my teeth 
that I am unable to help myself or any of my friends or kinsmen, or to 
save them in the extremity of danger, and that I am in the power of 
another like an outlaw to whom anyone may do what he likes-he may 
box my ears, which was a brave saying of yours; or take away my 
goods or banish me, or even do his worst and kill me; a condition 
which, as you say, is the height of disgrace. My answer to you is 
one which has been already often repeated, but may as well be repeated 
once more. I tell you, Callicles, that to be boxed on the ears 
wrongfully is not the worst evil which can befall a man, nor to have 
my purse or my body cut open, but that to smite and slay me and mine 
wrongfully is far more disgraceful and more evil; aye, and to 
despoil and enslave and pillage, or in any way at all to wrong me 
and mine, is far more disgraceful and evil to the doer of the wrong 
than to me who am the sufferer. These truths, which have been 
already set forth as I state them in the previous discussion, would 
seem now to have been fixed and riveted by us, if I may use an 
expression which is certainly bold, in words which are like bonds of 
iron and adamant; and unless you or some other still more enterprising 
hero shall break them, there is no possibility of denying what I 
say. For my position has always been, that I myself am ignorant how 
these things are, but that I have never met any one who could say 
otherwise, any more than you can, and not appear ridiculous. This is 
my position still, and if what I am saying is true, and injustice is 
the greatest of evils to the doer of injustice, and yet there is if 
possible a greater than this greatest of evils, in an unjust man not 
suffering retribution, what is that defence of which the want will 
make a man truly ridiculous? Must not the defence be one which will 
avert the greatest of human evils? And will not worst of all 
defences be that with which a man is unable to defend himself or his 
family or his friends?-and next will come that which is unable to 
avert the next greatest evil; thirdly that which is unable to avert 
the third greatest evil; and so of other evils. As is the greatness of 
evil so is the honour of being able to avert them in their several 
degrees, and the disgrace of not being able to avert them. Am I not 
right Callicles? 

Cal . Yes, quite right. 

Soc. Seeing then that there are these two evils, the doing injustice 
and the suffering in justice-and we affirm that to do injustice is a 
greater, and to suffer injustice a lesser evil-by what devices can a 
man succeed in obtaining the two advantages, the one of not doing 
and the other of not suffering injustice? must he have the power, or 
only the will to obtain them? I mean to ask whether a man will 
escape injustice if he has only the will to escape, or must he have 
provided himself with the power? 

Cal. He must have provided himself with the power; that is clear. 

Soc. And what do you say of doing injustice? Is the will only 
sufficient, and will that prevent him from doing injustice, or must he 
have provided himself with power and art; and if he has not studied 
and practised, will he be unjust still? Surely you might say, 
Callicles, whether you think that Polus and I were right in 



admitting the conclusion that no one does wrong voluntarily, but 
that all do wrong against their will? 

Cal . Granted, Socrates, if you will only have done. 

Soc. Then, as would appear, power and art have to be provided in 
order that we may do no injustice? 

Cal . Certainly . 

Soc. And what art will protect us from suffering injustice, if not 
wholly, yet as far as possible? I want to know whether you agree 
with me; for I think that such an art is the art of one who is 
either a ruler or even tyrant himself, or the equal and companion of 
the ruling power. 

Cal. Well said, Socrates; and please to observe how ready I am to 
praise you when you talk sense. 

Soc. Think and tell me whether you would approve of another view 
of mine: To me every man appears to be most the friend of him who is 
most like to him-like to like, as ancient sages say: Would you not 
agree to this? 

Cal . I should . 

Soc. But when the tyrant is rude and uneducated, he may be 
expected to fear any one who is his superior in virtue, and will never 
be able to be perfectly friendly with him. 

Cal. That is true. 

Soc. Neither will he be the friend of any one who greatly his 
inferior, for the tyrant will despise him, and will never seriously 
regard him as a friend. 

Cal. That again is true. 

Soc. Then the only friend worth mentioning, whom the tyrant can 
have, will be one who is of the same character, and has the same likes 
and dislikes, and is at the same time willing to be subject and 
subservient to him; he is the man who will have power in the state, 
and no one will injure him with impunity: -is not that so? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And if a young man begins to ask how he may become great and 
formidable, this would seem to be the way-he will accustom himself, 
from his youth upward, to feel sorrow and joy on, the same occasions 
as his master, and will contrive to be as like him as possible? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And in this way he will have accomplished, as you and your 
friends would, say, the end of becoming a great man and not 
suffering injury? 

Cal . Very true . 

Soc. But will he also escape from doing injury? Must not the very 
opposite be true, -if he is to be like the tyrant in his injustice, and 
to have influence with him? Will he not rather contrive to do as 
much wrong as possible, and not be punished? 

Cal. True. 

Soc. And by the imitation of his master and by the power which he 
thus acquires will not his soul become bad and corrupted, and will not 
this be the greatest evil to him? 

Cal. You always contrive somehow or other, Socrates, to invert 
everything: do you not know that he who imitates the tyrant will, if 
he has a mind, kill him who does not imitate him and take away his 
goods? 

Soc. Excellent Callicles, I am not deaf, and I have heard that a 
great many times from you and from Polus and from nearly every man 
in the city, but I wish that you would hear me too. I dare say that he 
will kill him if he has a mind-the bad man will kill the good and 
true . 

Cal. And is not that just the provoking thing? 

Soc. Nay, not to a man of sense, as the argument shows: do you think 
that all our cares should be directed to prolonging life to the 
uttermost, and to the study of those arts which secure us from 
danger always; like that art of rhetoric which saves men in courts 
of law, and which you advise me to cultivate? 



Cal . Yes, truly, and very good advice too. 

Soc. Well, my friend, but what do you think of swimming; is that 
an art of any great pretensions? 

Cal . No, indeed . 

Soc. And yet surely swimming saves a man from death, there are 
occasions on which he must know how to swim. And if you despise the 
swimmers, I will tell you of another and greater art, the art of the 
pilot, who not only saves the souls of men, but also their bodies 
and properties from the extremity of danger, just like rhetoric. Yet 
his art is modest and unpresuming: it has no airs or pretences of 
doing anything extraordinary, and, in return for the same salvation 
which is given by the pleader, demands only two obols, if he brings us 
from Aegina to Athens, or for the longer voyage from Pontus or 
Egypt, at the utmost two drachmae, when he has saved, as I was just 
now saying, the passenger and his wife and children and goods, and 
safely disembarked them at the Piraeus -this is the payment which he 
asks in return for so great a boon; and he who is the master of the 
art, and has done all this, gets out and walks about on the 
sea-shore by his ship in an unassuming way. For he is able to 
reflect and is aware that he cannot tell which of his 
fellow-passengers he has benefited, and which of them he has injured 
in not allowing them to be drowned. He knows that they are just the 
same when he has disembarked them as when they embarked, and not a 
whit better either in their bodies or in their souls; and he considers 
that if a man who is afflicted by great and incurable bodily 
diseases is only to be pitied for having escaped, and is in no way 
benefited by him in having been saved from drowning, much less he 
who has great and incurable diseases, not of the body, but of the 
soul, which is the more valuable part of him; neither is life worth 
having nor of any profit to the bad man, whether he be delivered 
from the sea, or the law-courts, or any other devourer-and so he 
reflects that such a one had better not live, for he cannot live well. 

And this is the reason why the pilot, although he is our saviour, is 
not usually conceited, any more than the engineer, who is not at all 
behind either the general, or the pilot, or any one else, in his 
saving power, for he sometimes saves whole cities. Is there any 
comparison between him and the pleader? And if he were to talk, 
Callicles, in your grandiose style, he would bury you under a mountain 
of words, declaring and insisting that we ought all of us to be 
engine-makers, and that no other profession is worth thinking about; 
he would have plenty to say. Nevertheless you despise him and his art, 
and sneeringly call him an engine-maker, and you will not allow your 
daughters to marry his son, or marry your son to his daughters. And 
yet, on your principle, what justice or reason is there in your 
refusal? What right have you to despise the engine-maker, and the 
others whom I was just now mentioning? I know that you will say, "I am 
better, better born." But if the better is not what I say, and 
virtue consists only in a man saving himself and his, whatever may 
be his character, then your censure of the engine-maker, and of the 
physician, and of the other arts of salvation, is ridiculous. my 
friend! I want you to see that the noble and the good may possibly 
be something different from saving and being saved: -May not he who 
is truly a man cease to care about living a certain time?-he knows, as 
women say, that no man can escape fate, and therefore he is not fond 
of life; he leaves all that with God, and considers in what way he can 
best spend his appointed term-whether by assimilating himself to the 
constitution under which he lives, as you at this moment have to 
consider how you may become as like as possible to the Athenian 
people, if you mean to be in their good graces, and to have power in 
the state; whereas I want you to think and see whether this is for the 
interest of either of us-I would not have us risk that which is 
dearest on the acquisition of this power, like the Thessalian 
enchantresses, who, as they say, bring down the moon from heaven at 
the risk of their own perdition. But if you suppose that any man 



will show you the art of becoming great in the city, and yet not 
conforming yourself to the ways of the city, whether for better or 
worse, then I can only say that you are mistaken, Callides; for he who 
would deserve to be the true natural friend of the Athenian Demus, 
aye, or of Pyrilampes' darling who is called after them, must be by 
nature like them, and not an imitator only. He, then, who will make 
you most like them, will make you as you desire, a statesman and 
orator: for every man is pleased when he is spoken to in his own 
language and spirit, and dislikes any other. But perhaps you, sweet 
Callides, may be of another mind. What do you say? 

Cal . Somehow or other your words, Socrates, always appear to me to 
be good words; and yet, like the rest of the world, I am not quite 
convinced by them. 

Soc. The reason is, Callides, that the love of Demus which abides 
in your soul is an adversary to me; but I dare say that if we recur to 
these same matters, and consider them more thoroughly, you may be 
convinced for all that. Please, then, to remember that there are two 
processes of training all things, including body and soul; in the one, 
as we said, we treat them with a view to pleasure, and in the other 
with a view to the highest good, and then we do not indulge but resist 
them: was not that the distinction which we drew? 

Cal . Very true . 

Soc. And the one which had pleasure in view was just a vulgar 
flattery : -was not that another of our conclusions? 

Cal. Be it so, if you will have it. 

Soc. And the other had in view the greatest improvement of that 
which was ministered to, whether body or soul? 

Cal. Quite true. 

Soc. And must we not have the same end in view in the treatment of 
our city and citizens? Must we not try and make-them as good as 
possible? For we have already discovered that there is no use in 
imparting to them any other good, unless the mind of those who are 
to have the good, whether money, or office, or any other sort of 
power, be gentle and good. Shall we say that? 

Cal. Yes, certainly, if you like. 

Soc. Well, then, if you and I, Callides, were intending to set 
about some public business, and were advising one another to undertake 
buildings, such as walls, docks or temples of the largest size, 
ought we not to examine ourselves, first, as to whether we know or 
do not know the art of building, and who taught us?-would not that 
be necessary, Callides? 

Cal. True. 

Soc. In the second place, we should have to consider whether we 
had ever constructed any private house, either of our own or for our 
friends, and whether this building of ours was a success or not; and 
if upon consideration we found that we had had good and eminent 
masters, and had been successful in constructing many fine 
buildings, not only with their assistance, but without them, by our 
own unaided skill-in that case prudence would not dissuade us from 
proceeding to the construction of public works. But if we had no 
master to show, and only a number of worthless buildings or none at 
all, then, surely, it would be ridiculous in us to attempt public 
works, or to advise one another to undertake them. Is not this true? 

Cal . Certainly . 

Soc. And does not the same hold in all other cases? If you and I 
were physicians, and were advising one another that we were 
competent to practise as state-physicians, should I not ask about you, 
and would you not ask about me, Well, but how about Socrates 
himself, has he good health? and was any one else ever known to be 
cured by him, whether slave or freeman? And I should make the same 
enquiries about you. And if we arrived at the conclusion that no 
one, whether citizen or stranger, man or woman, had ever been any 
the better for the medical skill of either of us, then, by Heaven, 
Callides, what an absurdity to think that we or any human being 



should be so silly as to set up as state-physicians and advise 
others like ourselves to do the same, without having first practised 
in private, whether successfully or not, and acquired experience of 
the art! Is not this, as they say, to begin with the big jar when 
you are learning the potter's art; which is a foolish thing? 

Cal. True. 

Soc. And now, my friend, as you are already beginning to be a public 
character, and are admonishing and reproaching me for not being one, 
suppose that we ask a few questions of one another. Tell me, then, 
Callicles, how about making any of the citizens better? Was there ever 
a man who was once vicious, or unjust, or intemperate, or foolish, and 
became by the help of Callicles good and noble? Was there ever such 
a man, whether citizen or stranger, slave or freeman? Tell me, 
Callicles, if a person were to ask these questions of you, what 
would you answer? Whom would you say that-you had improved by your 
conversation? There may have been good deeds of this sort which were 
done by you as a private person, before you came forward in public. 
Why will you not answer? 

Cal. You are contentious, Socrates. 

Soc. Nay, I ask you, not from a love of contention, but because I 
really want to know in what way you think that affairs should be 
administered among us-whether, when you come to the administration 
of them, you have any other aim but the improvement of the citizens? 
Have we not already admitted many times over that such is the duty 
of a public man? Nay, we have surely said so; for if you will not 
answer for yourself I must answer for you. But if this is what the 
good man ought to effect for the benefit of his own state, allow me to 
recall to you the names of those whom you were just now mentioning, 
Pericles, and Cimon, and Miltiades, and Themistocles, and ask 
whether you still think that they were good citizens. 

Cal. I do. 

Soc. But if they were good, then clearly each of them must have made 
the citizens better instead of worse? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And, therefore, when Pericles first began to speak in the 
assembly, the Athenians were not so good as when he spoke last? 

Cal. Very likely. 

Soc. Nay, my friend, "likely" is not the word; for if he was a 
good citizen, the inference is certain. 

Cal. And what difference does that make? 

Soc. None; only I should like further to know whether the 
Athenians are supposed to have been made better by Pericles, or, on 
the contrary, to have been corrupted by him; for I hear that he was 
the first who gave the people pay, and made them idle and cowardly, 
and encouraged them in the love of talk and money. 

Cal. You heard that, Socrates, from the laconising set who bruise 
their ears . 

Soc. But what I am going to tell you now is not mere hearsay, but 
well known both to you and me: that at first, Pericles was glorious 
and his character unimpeached by any verdict of the Athenians-this was 
during the time when they were not so good-yet afterwards, when they 
had been made good and gentle by him, at the very end of his life they 
convicted him of theft, and almost put him to death, clearly under the 
notion that he was a malefactor. 

Cal. Well, but how does that prove Pericles' badness? 

Soc. Why, surely you would say that he was a bad manager of asses or 
horses or oxen, who had received them originally neither kicking nor 
butting nor biting him, and implanted in them all these savage tricks? 
Would he not be a bad manager of any animals who received them gentle, 
and made them fiercer than they were when he received them? What do 
you say? 

Cal. I will do you the favour of saying "yes." 

Soc. And will you also do me the favour of saying whether man is 
an animal? 



Cal . Certainly he is. 

Soc. And was not Pericles a shepherd of men? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. And if he was a good political shepherd, ought not the 
animals who were his subjects, as we were just now acknowledging, to 
have become more just, and not more unjust? 

Cal. Quite true. 

Soc. And are not just men gentle, as Homer says?-or are you of 
another mind? 

Cal. I agree. 

Soc. And yet he really did make them more savage than he received 
them, and their savageness was shown towards himself; which he must 
have been very far from desiring. 

Cal. Do you want me to agree with you? 

Soc. Yes, if I seem to you to speak the truth. 

Cal. Granted then. 

Soc. And if they were more savage, must they not have been more 
unjust and inferior? 

Cal. Granted again. 

Soc. Then upon this view, Pericles was not a good statesman? 

Cal. That is, upon your view. 

Soc. Nay, the view is yours, after what you have admitted. Take 
the case of Cimon again. Did not the very persons whom he was 
serving ostracize him, in order that they might not hear his voice for 
ten years? and they did just the same to Themistocles, adding the 
penalty of exile; and they voted that Miltiades, the hero of Marathon, 
should be thrown into the pit of death, and he was only saved by the 
Prytanis. And yet, if they had been really good men, as you say, these 
things would never have happened to them. For the good charioteers are 
not those who at first keep their place, and then, when they have 
broken-in their horses, and themselves become better charioteers, 
are thrown out-that is not the way either in charioteering or in any 
prof ession-What do you think? 

Cal. I should think not. 

Soc. Well, but if so, the truth is as I have said already, that in 
the Athenian State no one has ever shown himself to be a good 
statesman-you admitted that this was true of our present statesmen, 
but not true of former ones, and you preferred them to the others; yet 
they have turned out to be no better than our present ones; and 
therefore, if they were rhetoricians, they did not use the true art of 
rhetoric or of flattery, or they would not have fallen out of favour. 

Cal. But surely, Socrates, no living man ever came near any one of 
them in his performances. 

Soc. 0, my dear friend, I say nothing against them regarded as the 
serving-men of the State; and I do think that they were certainly more 
serviceable than those who are living now, and better able to 
gratify the wishes of the State; but as to transforming those 
desires and not allowing them to have their way, and using the 
powers which they had, whether of persuasion or of force, in the 
improvement of their fellow citizens, which is the prime object of the 
truly good citizen, I do not see that in these respects they were a 
whit superior to our present statesmen, although I do admit that 
they were more clever at providing ships and walls and docks, and 
all that. You and I have a ridiculous way, for during the whole time 
that we are arguing, we are always going round and round to the same 
point, and constantly misunderstanding one another. If I am not 
mistaken, you have admitted and acknowledged more than once, that 
there are two kinds of operations which have to do with the body, 
and two which have to do with the soul: one of the two is ministerial, 
and if our bodies are hungry provides food for them, and if they are 
thirsty gives them drink, or if they are cold supplies them with 
garments, blankets, shoes, and all that they crave. I use the same 
images as before intentionally, in order that you may understand me 
the better. The purveyor of the articles may provide them either 



wholesale or retail, or he may be the maker of any of them, -the baker, 
or the cook, or the weaver, or the shoemaker, or the currier; and in 
so doing, being such as he is, he is naturally supposed by himself and 
every one to minister to the body. For none of them know that there is 
another art-an art of gymnastic and medicine which is the true 
minister of the body, and ought to be the mistress of all the rest, 
and to use their results according to the knowledge which she has 
and they have not, of the real good or bad effects of meats and drinks 
on the body. All other arts which have to do with the body are servile 
and menial and illiberal; and gymnastic and medicine are, as they 
ought to be, their mistresses. 

Now, when I say that all this is equally true of the soul, you 
seem at first to know and understand and assent to my words, and 
then a little while afterwards you come repeating, Has not the State 
had good and noble citizens? and when I ask you who they are, you 
reply, seemingly quite in earnest as if I had asked, Who are or have 
been good trainers?-and you had replied, Thearion, the baker, 
Mithoecus, who wrote the Sicilian cookery-book, Sarambus, the vintner: 
these are ministers of the body, first-rate in their art; for the 
first makes admirable loaves, the second excellent dishes, and the 
third capital wine-to me these appear to be the exact parallel of 
the statesmen whom you mention. Now you would not be altogether 
pleased if I said to you, My friend, you know nothing of gymnastics; 
those of whom you are speaking to me are only the ministers and 
purveyors of luxury, who have no good or noble notions of their art, 
and may very likely be filling and fattening men's bodies and 
gaining their approval, although the result is that they lose their 
original flesh in the long run, and become thinner than they were 
before; and yet they, in their simplicity, will not attribute their 
diseases and loss of flesh to their entertainers; but when in after 
years the unhealthy surfeit brings the attendant penalty of disease, 
he who happens to be near them at the time, and offers them advice, is 
accused and blamed by them, and if they could they would do him some 
harm; while they proceed to eulogize the men who have been the real 
authors of the mischief. 

And that, Callicles, is just what you are now doing. You praise 
the men who feasted the citizens and satisfied their desires, and 
people say that they have made the city great, not seeing that the 
swollen And ulcerated condition of the State is to be attributed to 
these elder statesmen; for they have filled the city full of 
harbours and docks and walls and revenues and all that, and have 
left no room for justice and temperance. And when the crisis of the 
disorder comes, the people will blame the advisers of the hour, and 
applaud Themistocles and Cimon and Pericles, who are the real 
authors of their calamities; and if you are not careful they may 
assail you and my friend Alcibiades, when they are losing not only 
their new acquisitions, but also their original possessions; not 
that you are the authors of these misfortunes of theirs, although 
you may perhaps be accessories to them. A great piece of work is 
always being made, as I see and am told, now as of old; about our 
statesmen. When the State treats any of them as malefactors, I observe 
that there is a great uproar and indignation at the supposed wrong 
which is done to them; "after all their many services to the State, 
that they should unjustly perish"-so the tale runs. But the cry is all 
a lie; for no statesman ever could be unjustly put to death by the 
city of which he is the head. The case of the professed statesman 
is, I believe, very much like that of the professed sophist; for the 
sophists, although they are wise men, are nevertheless guilty of a 
strange piece of folly; professing to be teachers of virtue, they will 
often accuse their disciples of wronging them, and defrauding them 
of their pay, and showing no gratitude for their services. Yet what 
can be more absurd than that men who have become just and good, and 
whose injustice has been taken away from them, and who have had 
justice implanted in them by their teachers, should act unjustly by 



reason of the injustice which is not in them? Can anything be more 
irrational, my friends, than this? You, Callicles, compel me to be a 
mob-orator, because you will not answer. 

Cal . And you are the man who cannot speak unless there is some 
one to answer? 

Soc. I suppose that I can; just now, at any rate, the speeches which 
I am making are long enough because you refuse to answer me. But I 
adjure you by the god of friendship, my good sir, do tell me whether 
there does not appear to you to be a great inconsistency in saying 
that you have made a man good, and then blaming him for being bad? 

Cal. Yes, it appears so to me. 

Soc. Do you never hear our professors of education speaking in 
this inconsistent manner? 

Cal. Yes, but why talk of men who are good for nothing? 

Soc. I would rather say, why talk of men who profess to be rulers, 
and declare that they are devoted to the improvement of the city, 
and nevertheless upon occasion declaim against the utter vileness of 
the city: -do you think that there is any difference between one and 
the other? My good friend, the sophist and the rhetorician, as I was 
saying to Polus, are the same, or nearly the same; but you 
ignorantly fancy that rhetoric is a perfect thing, sophistry a thing 
to be despised; whereas the truth is, that sophistry is as much 
superior to rhetoric as legislation is to the practice of law, or 
gymnastic to medicine. The orators and sophists, as I am inclined to 
think, are the only class who cannot complain of the mischief 
ensuing to themselves from that which they teach others, without in 
the same breath accusing themselves of having done no good to those 
whom they profess to benefit. Is not this a fact? 

Cal. Certainly it is. 

Soc. If they were right in saying that they make men better, then 
they are the only class who can afford to leave their remuneration 
to those who have been benefited by them. Whereas if a man has been 
benefited in any other way, if, for example, he has been taught to run 
by a trainer, he might possibly defraud him of his pay, if the trainer 
left the matter to him, and made no agreement with him that he 
should receive money as soon as he had given him the utmost speed; for 
not because of any deficiency of speed do men act unjustly, but by 
reason of injustice. 

Cal . Very true . 

Soc. And he who removes injustice can be in no danger of being 
treated unjustly: he alone can safely leave the honorarium to his 
pupils, if he be really able to make them good-am I not right? 

Cal. Yes. 

Soc. Then we have found the reason why there is no dishonour in a 
man receiving pay who is called in to advise about building or any 
other art? 

Cal. Yes, we have found the reason. 

Soc. But when the point is, how a man may become best himself, and 
best govern his family and state, then to say that you will give no 
advice gratis is held to be dishonourable? 

Cal. True. 

Soc. And why? Because only such benefits call forth a desire to 
requite them, and there is evidence that a benefit has been 
conferred when the benefactor receives a return; otherwise not. Is 
this true? 

Cal. It is. 

Soc. Then to which service of the State do you invite me? 
determine for me. Am I to be the physician of the State who will 
strive and struggle to make the Athenians as good as possible; or am I 
to be the servant and flatterer of the State? Speak out, my good 
friend, freely and fairly as you did at first and ought to do again, 
and tell me your entire mind. 

Cal. I say then that you should be the servant of the State. 

Soc. The flatterer? well, sir, that is a noble invitation. 



Cal . The Mysian, Socrates, or what you please. For if you refuse, 
the consequences will be- 

Soc. Do not repeat the old story-that he who likes will kill me 
and get my money; for then I shall have to repeat the old answer, that 
he will be a bad man and will kill the good, and that the money will 
be of no use to him, but that he will wrongly use that which he 
wrongly took, and if wrongly, basely, and if basely, hurtfully. 

Cal. How confident you are, Socrates, that you will never come to 
harm! you seem to think that you are living in another country, and 
can never be brought into a court of justice, as you very likely may 
be brought by some miserable and mean person. 

Soc. Then I must indeed be a fool, Callicles, if I do not know 
that in the Athenian State any man may suffer anything. And if I am 
brought to trial and incur the dangers of which you speak, he will 
be a villain who brings me to trial-of that I am very sure, for no 
good man would accuse the innocent. Nor shall I be surprised if I am 
put to death. Shall I tell you why I anticipate this? 

Cal. By all means. 

Soc. I think that I am the only or almost the only Athenian living 
who practises the true art of politics; I am the only politician of my 
time. Now, seeing that when I speak my words are not uttered with 
any view of gaining favour, and that I look to what is best and not to 
what is most pleasant, having no mind to use those arts and graces 
which you recommend, I shall have nothing to say in the justice court. 
And you might argue with me, as I was arguing with Polus : -I shall 
be tried just as a physician would be tried in a court of little 
boys at the indictment of the cook. What Would he reply under such 
circumstances, if some one were to accuse him, saying, "0 my boys, 
many evil things has this man done to you: he is the death of you, 
especially of the younger ones among you, cutting and burning and 
starving and suffocating you, until you know not what to do; he 
gives you the bitterest potions, and compels you to hunger and thirst. 
How unlike the variety of meats and sweets on which I feasted you!" 
What do you suppose that the physician would be able to reply when 
he found himself in such a predicament? If he told the truth he 
could only say, "All these evil things, my boys, I did for your 
health," and then would there not just be a clamour among a jury 
like that? How they would cry out! 

Cal. I dare say. 

Soc. Would he not be utterly at a loss for a reply? 

Cal. He certainly would. 

Soc. And I too shall be treated in the same way, as I well know, 
if I am brought before the court. For I shall not be able to 
rehearse to the people the pleasures which I have procured for them, 
and which, although I am not disposed to envy either the procurers 
or enjoyers of them, are deemed by them to be benefits and advantages. 
And if any one says that I corrupt young men, and perplex their minds, 
or that I speak evil of old men, and use bitter words towards them, 
whether in private or public, it is useless for me to reply, as I 
truly might: -"All this I do for the sake of justice, and with a view 
to your interest, my judges, and to nothing else." And therefore there 
is no saying what may happen to me. 

Cal. And do you think, Socrates, that a man who is thus 
defenceless is in a good position? 

Soc. Yes, Callicles, if he have that defence, which as you have 
often acknowledged he should have-if he be his own defence, and have 
never said or done anything wrong, either in respect of gods or men; 
and this has been repeatedly acknowledged by us to be the best sort of 
defence. And if anyone could convict me of inability to defend 
myself or others after this sort, I should blush for shame, whether 
I was convicted before many, or before a few, or by myself alone; 
and if I died from want of ability to do so, that would indeed 
grieve me. But if I died because I have no powers of flattery or 
rhetoric, I am very sure that you would not find me repining at death. 



For no man who is not an utter fool and coward is afraid of death 
itself, but he is afraid of doing wrong. For to go to the world 
below having one's soul full of injustice is the last and worst of all 
evils. And in proof of what I say, if you have no objection, I 
should like to tell you a story. 

Cal . Very well, proceed; and then we shall have done. 

Soc. Listen, then, as story-tellers say, to a very pretty tale, 
which I dare say that you may be disposed to regard as a fable only, 
but which, as I believe, is a true tale, for I mean to speak the 
truth. Homer tells us, how Zeus and Poseidon and Pluto divided the 
empire which they inherited from their father. Now in the days of 
Cronos there existed a law respecting the destiny of man, which has 
always been, and still continues to be in Heaven-that he who has lived 
all his life in justice and holiness shall go, when he is dead, to the 
Islands of the Blessed, and dwell there in perfect happiness out of 
the reach of evil; but that he who has lived unjustly and impiously 
shall go to the house of vengeance and punishment, which is called 
Tartarus. And in the time of Cronos, and even quite lately in the 
reign of Zeus, the judgment was given on the very day on which the men 
were to die; the judges were alive, and the men were alive; and the 
consequence was that the judgments were not well given. Then Pluto and 
the authorities from the Islands of the Blessed came to Zeus, and said 
that the souls found their way to the wrong places. Zeus said: "I 
shall put a stop to this; the judgments are not well given, because 
the persons who are judged have their clothes on, for they are 
alive; and there are many who, having evil souls, are apparelled in 
fair bodies, or encased in wealth or rank, and, when the day of 
judgment arrives, numerous witnesses come forward and testify on their 
behalf that they have lived righteously. The judges are awed by 
them, and they themselves too have their clothes on when judging; 
their eyes and ears and their whole bodies are interposed as a well 
before their own souls. All this is a hindrance to them; there are the 
clothes of the judges and the clothes of the judged-What is to be 
done? I will tell you: -In the first place, I will deprive men of the 
foreknowledge of death, which they possess at present: this power 
which they have Prometheus has already received my orders to take from 
them: in the second place, they shall be entirely stripped before they 
are judged, for they shall be judged when they are dead; and the judge 
too shall be naked, that is to say, dead-he with his naked soul 
shall pierce into the other naked souls; and they shall die suddenly 
and be deprived of all their kindred, and leave their brave attire 
strewn upon the earth-conducted in this manner, the judgment will be 
just. I knew all about the matter before any of you, and therefore I 
have made my sons judges; two from Asia, Minos and Rhadamanthus, and 
one from Europe, Aeacus . And these, when they are dead, shall give 
judgment in the meadow at the parting of the ways, whence the two 
roads lead, one to the Islands of the Blessed, and the other to 
Tartarus. Rhadamanthus shall judge those who come from Asia, and 
Aeacus those who come from Europe. And to Minos I shall give the 
primacy, and he shall hold a court of appeal, in case either of the 
two others are in any doubt: -then the judgment respecting the last 
journey of men will be as just as possible." 

From this tale, Callicles, which I have heard and believe, I draw 
the following inferences : -Death, if I am right, is in the first 
place the separation from one another of two things, soul and body; 
nothing else. And after they are separated they retain their several 
natures, as in life; the body keeps the same habit, and the results of 
treatment or accident are distinctly visible in it: for example, he 
who by nature or training or both, was a tall man while he was 
alive, will remain as he was, after he is dead; and the fat man will 
remain fat; and so on; and the dead man, who in life had a fancy to 
have flowing hair, will have flowing hair. And if he was marked with 
the whip and had the prints of the scourge, or of wounds in him when 
he was alive, you might see the same in the dead body; and if his 



limbs were broken or misshapen when he was alive, the same 
appearance would be visible in the dead. And in a word, whatever was 
the habit of the body during life would be distinguishable after 
death, either perfectly, or in a great measure and for a certain time. 
And I should imagine that this is equally true of the soul, Callicles; 
when a man is stripped of the body, all the natural or acquired 
affections of the soul are laid open to view. And when they come to 
the judge, as those from Asia come to Rhadamanthus, he places them 
near him and inspects them quite impartially, not knowing whose the 
soul is: perhaps he may lay hands on the soul of the great king, or of 
some other king or potentate, who has no soundness in him, but his 
soul is marked with the whip, and is full of the prints and scars of 
perjuries and crimes with which each action has stained him, and he is 
all crooked with falsehood and imposture, and has no straightness, 
because he has lived without truth. Him Rhadamanthus beholds, full 
of all deformity and disproportion, which is caused by licence and 
luxury and insolence and incontinence, and despatches him 
ignominiously to his prison, and there he undergoes the punishment 
which he deserves. 

Now the proper office of punishment is twofold: he who is rightly 
punished ought either to become better and profit by it, or he ought 
to be made an example to his fellows, that they may see what he 
suffers, and fear and become better. Those who are improved when 
they are punished by gods and men, are those whose sins are curable; 
and they are improved, as in this world so also in another, by pain 
and suffering; for there is no other way in which they can be 
delivered from their evil. But they who have been guilty of the 
worst crimes, and are incurable by reason of their crimes, are made 
examples; for, as they are incurable, the time has passed at which 
they can receive any benefit. They get no good themselves, but 
others get good when they behold them enduring for ever the most 
terrible and painful and fearful sufferings as the penalty of their 
sins-there they are, hanging up as examples, in the prison-house of 
the world below, a spectacle and a warning to all unrighteous men 
who come thither. And among them, as I confidently affirm, will be 
found Archelaus, if Polus truly reports of him, and any other tyrant 
who is like him. Of these fearful examples, most, as I believe, are 
taken from the class of tyrants and kings and potentates and public 
men, for they are the authors of the greatest and most impious crimes, 
because they have the power. And Homer witnesses to the truth of this; 
for they are always kings and potentates whom he has described as 
suffering everlasting punishment in the world below: such were 
Tantalus and Sisyphus and Tityus . But no one ever described Thersites, 
or any private person who was a villain, as suffering everlasting 
punishment, or as incurable. For to commit the worst crimes, as I am 
inclined to think, was not in his power, and he was happier than those 
who had the power. No, Callicles, the very bad men come from the class 
of those who have power. And yet in that very class there may arise 
good men, and worthy of all admiration they are, for where there is 
great power to do wrong, to live and to die justly is a hard thing, 
and greatly to be praised, and few there are who attain to this. 
Such good and true men, however, there have been, and will be again, 
at Athens and in other states, who have fulfilled their trust 
righteously; and there is one who is quite famous all over Hellas, 
Aristeides, the son of Lysimachus. But, in general, great men are also 
bad, my friend. 

As I was saying, Rhadamanthus, when he gets a soul of the bad 
kind, knows nothing about him, neither who he is, nor who his 
parents are; he knows only that he has got hold of a villain; and 
seeing this, he stamps him as curable or incurable, and sends him away 
to Tartarus, whither he goes and receives his proper recompense. Or, 
again, he looks with admiration on the soul of some just one who has 
lived in holiness and truth; he may have been a private man or not; 
and I should say, Callicles, that he is most likely to have been a 



philosopher who has done his own work, and not troubled himself with 
the doings of other in his lifetime; him Rhadamanthus sends to the 
Islands of the Blessed. Aeacus does the same; and they both have 
sceptres, and judge; but Minos alone has a golden sceptre and is 
seated looking on, as Odysseus in Homer declares that he saw him: 

Holding a sceptre of gold, and giving laws to the dead. 

Now I, Callicles, am persuaded of the truth of these things, and I 
consider how I shall present my soul whole and undefiled before the 
judge in that day. Renouncing the honours at which the world aims, I 
desire only to know the truth, and to live as well as I can, and, when 
I die, to die as well as I can. And, to the utmost of my power, I 
exhort all other men to do the same. And, in return for your 
exhortation of me, I exhort you also to take part in the great combat, 
which is the combat of life, and greater than every other earthly 
conflict. And I retort your reproach of me, and say, that you will not 
be able to help yourself when the day of trial and judgment, of 
which I was speaking, comes upon you; you will go before the judge, 
the son of Aegina, and, when he has got you in his grip and is 
carrying you off, you will gape and your head will swim round, just as 
mine would in the courts of this world, and very likely some one 
will shamefully box you on the ears, and put upon you any sort of 
insult . 

Perhaps this may appear to you to be only an old wife's tale, 
which you will contemn. And there might be reason in your contemning 
such tales, if by searching we could find out anything better or 
truer: but now you see that you and Polus and Gorgias, who are the 
three wisest of the Greeks of our day, are not able to show that we 
ought to live any life which does not profit in another world as 
well as in this. And of all that has been said, nothing remains 
unshaken but the saying, that to do injustice is more to be avoided 
than to suffer injustice, and that the reality and not the 
appearance of virtue is to be followed above all things, as well in 
public as in private life; and that when any one has been wrong in 
anything, he is to be chastised, and that the next best thing to a man 
being just is that he should become just, and be chastised and 
punished; also that he should avoid all flattery of himself as well as 
of others, of the few or of the many: and rhetoric and any other art 
should be used by him, and all his actions should be done always, with 
a view to justice. 

Follow me then, and I will lead you where you will be happy in 
life and after death, as the argument shows. And never mind if some 
one despises you as a fool, and insults you, if he has a mind; let him 
strike you, by Zeus, and do you be of good cheer, and do not mind 
the insulting blow, for you will never come to any harm in the 
practise of virtue, if you are a really good and true man. When we 
have practised virtue together, we will apply ourselves to politics, 
if that seems desirable, or we will advise about whatever else may 
seem good to us, for we shall be better able to judge then. In our 
present condition we ought not to give ourselves airs, for even on the 
most important subjects we are always changing our minds; so utterly 
stupid are we! Let us, then, take the argument as our guide, which has 
revealed to us that the best way of life is to practise justice and 
every virtue in life and death. This way let us go; and in this exhort 
all men to follow, not in the way to which you trust and in which 
you exhort me to follow you; for that way, Callicles, is nothing 
worth . 



-THE END-