Plato, Alcibiades 2 (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [lemma count] [Pl. Alc. 2].
<<Pl. Alc. 2 138b Pl. Alc. 2 141a (Greek) >>Pl. Alc. 2 143a

140bor ophthalmia, I take it; though everything of the sort is a disease, but differs—to quote those whom we call doctors— in its manifestation. note For they are not all alike, nor of like effect, but each works according to its own faculty, and yet all are diseases. In the same way, we conceive of some men as artisans, do we not?

Alcibiades

Certainly.

Socrates

That is, cobblers and carpenters and statuaries and a host of others, whom we need not mention in particular; but any way, they have 140ctheir several departments of craft, and all of them are craftsmen; yet they are not all carpenters or cobblers or statuaries, though these taken together are craftsmen.

Alcibiades

No, indeed.

Socrates

In the same way, then, have men divided unwisdom also among them, and those who have the largest share of it we call “mad,” and those who have a little less, “dolts” and “idiots”; though people who prefer to use the mildest language term them sometimes “romantic,” note sometimes “simpleminded,” note or again 140d“innocent,” “inexperienced,” or “obtuse”; and many another name will you find if you look for more. But all these things are unwisdom, though they differ, as we observed that one art or one disease differs from another. Or how does it strike you?

Alcibiades

That is my view.

Socrates

Then let us turn at this point and retrace our steps. For we said, you know, at the beginning that we must consider who the unwise can be, and who the wise: for we had admitted that there are such persons, had we not?

Alcibiades

Yes, we have admitted it. 140e

Socrates

Then you conceive those to be wise who know what one ought to do and say?

Alcibiades

I do.

Socrates

And which are the unwise? Those who know neither of these things?

Alcibiades

The same.

Socrates

And those who know neither of these things will say and do unawares what one ought not?

Alcibiades

Apparently.

Socrates

Well, just such a person, as I was saying, Alcibiades, 141awas Oedipus; and even in our time you will find many who do the same, not in a fit of anger, as he was: they think they pray not for something evil, but for something good. He neither prayed for that, nor thought he did, but there are others who are in the opposite case. For I imagine that if the god to whom you are now going should appear to you and first ask you, before you made any prayer, whether you would be content to become sovereign of the Athenian state and, on your accounting this as something poor and unimportant, should add “and of all the Greeks also”; and if he saw 141byou were still unsatisfied unless he promised you besides the mastery of all Europe, and should not merely promise you that, but on the self-same day a recognition by all men, if you so desired, of Alcibiades, son of Cleinias, as their sovereign—I imagine you would actually depart in a transport of delight, as having secured the greatest of goods.

Alcibiades

So would anybody else, I imagine, Socrates, at such a stroke of luck! 141c

Socrates

But still you would not wish to sacrifice your life even for the territory and sovereignty of all the Greeks and barbarians together.

Alcibiades

I should think not. How could I, without a prospect of making any use of them?

Socrates

And what if you had a prospect of making an evil and injurious use of them? Not in this case either?

Alcibiades

No, indeed.

Socrates

So you see it is not safe either to accept casually what one is given, or to pray for one's own advancement, if one is going to be injured in consequence, or deprived of one's life altogether. Yet we could tell of 141d"> many ere now who, having desired sovereignty, and endeavored to secure it, with the idea of working for their good, have lost their lives by plots which their sovereignty has provoked. And I expect you are not unacquainted with certain events “of a day or two ago,”Hom. Il. 2.303 when Archelaus, the monarch of Macedonia, was slain note by his favorite, who was as much in love with the monarchy as Archelaus was with him, and who killed his lover 141ewith the expectation of being not only the monarch, but also a happy man: but after holding the monarchy for three or four days he was plotted against by others in his turn, and perished. You have only to look at some of our own citizens—and these are examples that we know, not by hearsay, but by personal observation—who in their time have desired to hold military command 142aand have obtained it, and see how some to this very day are exiles from our city, while others have lost their lives. And even those who are deemed to be faring best have not only gone through many dangers and terrors in holding their command, but on returning home have continued to be as sorely besieged by informers as they were by the enemy, so that some of them wished to heaven



Plato, Alcibiades 2 (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [lemma count] [Pl. Alc. 2].
<<Pl. Alc. 2 138b Pl. Alc. 2 141a (Greek) >>Pl. Alc. 2 143a

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