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Lectures 16 and 17: Socrates

IN the foregoing lectures we have witnessed the stream of pre-Socratic religious thought as it pursues its way in two concurrent channels, that of Philosophy and that of Poetry. From this point onwards we are concerned with Philosophy alone; for no poet after Euripides has any appreciable claim to be called a religious teacher of the Greeks. The period upon which we are about to enter is one of the utmost interest and importance to the student of religious thought. A new intellectual and spiritual era begins with Socrates. It is chiefly Socrates and Plato whom the Christian Fathers had in mind when they spoke of Greek philosophy as a preparation for the Gospel; and our investigation of Socratic and Platonic thought will tend, I think, to show that to a certain extent this view is right. The fundamental religious ideas of Platonism, in particular, as will afterwards be seen, have much in common with those of Christianity.

Professor James has characteristically said that “when a superior intellect and a psychopathic temperament coalesce—as in the endless permutations and combinations of human faculty they are bound to coalesce often enough—in the same individual, we have the best possible condition for the kind of effective genius that gets into the biographical dictionaries.”1 If for the somewhat sinister adjective “psychopathic” we substitute “transcendental,” the sentence just quoted gives a fair description of the two apparently opposite poles in the character of Socrates. On the one hand, a fixed and unalterable conviction that he stood in a peculiar relation to the Godhead, and was entrusted with a divine mission to his countrymen; and, on the other hand, a singularly clear and penetrating intellect, which refused to acquiesce in anything that reason could not justify—these are the two predominant characteristics of the man. The union of prophet and rationalist is so rare in our experience, that writers on Socrates have often unduly emphasised one of the two sides of his character at the expense of the other. A century or so ago, the tendency was to regard him as a preacher and not much more; now the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme. In the view of a distinguished German scholar, for example, Socrates abstained from positive exhortations altogether, and was content to try and purge men's minds of the false persuasion of knowledge.2 But we must insist that each of these two aspects of the personality of Socrates is attested by each of our two principal authorities, Xenophon and Plato, although Xenophon, as we should expect from his distinctively religious type of mind, lays more stress upon the one, and Plato, in his dialogues at all events, upon the other.

What I have ventured to call the vein of transcendentalism in Socrates reveals itself most of all in connexion with a peculiarity which he shared in common with not a few of those who have believed themselves entrusted with some divine communication to their follow-men. I refer, of course, to his δαιμόνιον σημϵι̑ον or “supernatural sign.” In the dialogues of Plato, the “divine sign” is represented as a “voice” which Socrates heard frequently throughout his life from childhood onwards. Its operation, according to Plato, was always inhibitory; it never positively suggested or enjoined any particular course of conduct; and, as a rule, it interfered only in cases where the intended action would have been harmful or inexpedient, rather than morally wrong. Yet in at least one instance of which Plato speaks, its timely warning enabled Socrates to perform a religious duty he would otherwise have neglected.3 We are further told that the voice sometimes made itself heard on very trivial occasions; but, if Plato may be trusted, the effect of its repeated inhibitions was not trivial; for we read in one place that the opposition of the divine sign prevented Socrates from taking part in politics, and in another that the voice indicated to him whom he should admit into the circle of his associates, and whom he should refuse.4 How important a part this mysterious messenger must have played in the life of Socrates is evident from the concluding chapters of Plato's Apology. No sooner is Socrates condemned, than his thoughts revert to the inward monitor, from whose approving silence from first to last throughout the trial he draws the inference that death is for him no evil, but a good.5 The daemonium, as Plato depicts it, is, in short, a kind of internal oracle, which its possessor believed to have been almost, if not altogether, unique in the history of mankind. “It has been granted,” says the Platonic Socrates, “to few or none of those who have lived before me.”6 The testimony of Xenophon is in general agreement with that of Plato, except that he attributes to the daemonium positive as well as negative commands, and otherwise enlarges the sphere of its activity, representing it sometimes as a prophetic faculty or gift exercised by Socrates on behalf not only of himself, but also of his friends. “He was in the habit,” writes Xenophon, “of advising his associates to do this, or refrain from doing that, on the authority of the divine sign. Those who obeyed would prosper; those who disobeyed had reason to regret their indifference.”7 It need only be added that when Plato calls the phenomenon a “voice ”(ϕωνή), the word should probably be understood in a literal and not in a metaphorical sense. We are to suppose, in other words, that Socrates was subject to what is called a hallucination of the sense of hearing. “I seemed to hear a voice,” he says in the Phaedrus.8 Writers on the daemonium have quoted many examples tending to show that similar hallucinations are compatible with perfect rationality in other respects; and they are, of course, a familiar accompaniment of abnormal religious conditions. Du Prel, who in his Mystik der alten Griechen discusses the daemonium of Socrates as a problem in transcendental psychology, finds a curious parallel in the voice which Campanella, according to his own account, so often heard. “When anything evil presents itself to me,” writes Campanella, “I am in the habit, whether asleep or awake, of hearing a voice, which calls out quite clearly, ‘Campanella, Campanella!’ Sometimes I hear other words also; and though I attend to the matter at once, I can see nothing, nor can I discover who it is. Assuredly, if it is no Angel, it must at least be a Daemon or Spirit, or a Genius like that which accompanied Socrates.”9

The question as to the actual psychological basis of this remarkable phenomenon is one of much interest, and has frequently been discussed in recent times. Speaking broadly and generally, we may say, perhaps, that the explanations offered fall into two classes, according as they ascribe the phenomenon to “ordinary psychological causes,” or represent it as something transcendental and supernormal, if not, indeed, abnormal and psychopathic.10 For us, however, in trying to understand the character of Socrates, the important point is not what the daemonium really was, but rather what Socrates himself believed it to be. There can be no question that Socrates regarded it as a special and all but unique revelation from the Gods. Nor are there lacking other peculiarities about Socrates from which we can see that although no one ever served the cause of reason better, he was not by any means a rationalist pure and simple. According to the testimony of Xenophon, he had a high regard for oracles and divination in general, and we may infer from Plato that he frequently attached a supernatural significance to dreams and visions of the night.11

That Socrates conceived himself as a divinely-appointed minister to Athens is clear from the Apology of Plato. The Apology , in purpose and effect, is a representation of the historical Socrates as he appeared to the one disciple who by opportunity, sympathy, and insight was fully qualified to understand his master; and throughout the whole of that noble speech there breathes the consciousness of a mission from on high. “It is the God,” says Socrates, “who has laid this duty upon me, by means of oracles and dreams and every way whereby God manifests his will to man.”12 “Now, therefore, men of Athens, so far from pleading my own cause, as might be supposed, I am pleading yours, lest by condemning me ye should sin in the matter of God's gift to you.ƒ But perhaps ye will obey Anytus, and lightly put me to death, and then sleep away the rest of your lives, unless the God in his love for you sends you some other missionary.”13 And again: “Some one perhaps may say: ‘Can you not go away, Socrates, and dwell in another city, keeping silence and living a quiet life?’ Alas! it is so difficult to persuade you on this point. For if I say that to do this would be to disobey the God, you will not believe me, but think I speak ironically.”14 “Men of Athens, I should be guilty of a crime indeed, if…through fear of death or anything else whatever, I should desert the post to which I am assigned by the God; for the God ordains…that I should follow after wisdom and examine myself and others.”15

This special relationship to Apollo—for Apollo is the God whose servant Socrates here and elsewhere claims to be16—is not without significance in connexion with the general character and tendency of Socratic teaching. It is not merely that the precept γνω̑θι σϵαυτόν, “learn to know thyself,” which Socrates made the basis of his doctrine, was engraved on the walls of Apollo's temple; nor is it only that his attitude on questions of religious cult and ceremony was in harmony with the large and tolerant spirit which dictated the Pythian priestess' advice to “worship the Gods according to the custom of your city.”17 Socrates was Apollo's minister in yet another sense. The oracle of Delphi was not the exclusive possession of any one Greek city, or even of the whole of Hellas; in the words of Livy, it was the “commune humani generis oraculum”18—a kind of religious centre for all mankind, barbarian as well as Greek. And it is certain that Socrates' life and teaching led the way to a more perfect realisation of the religious aspect of human brotherhood than had hitherto been dreamed of by Greek thinkers.

In attempting to describe how Socrates fulfilled his mission, I will begin by reminding you of the words which Plato attributes to him in the Apology. “I do nothing but go to and fro, endeavouring to persuade you all, both young and old, not to care about the body or riches, but first and foremost about the soul—how to make the soul as good as possible. I tell you that virtue is not the child of riches, but riches of virtue; and so with every other good that men possess, alike in private and in public life.”19 The words are strangely like the text, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”20 but I quote them now because they furnish a convenient point of view from which to study the missionary work of Socrates. It is primarily as the ἰατρὸς τη̑ς ψυχη̑ς—the physician or healer of the soul—that he regards himself.21 His object is to help the Athenians to “make their souls as good as possible.” Let us see how he set about the task.

The first duty of a physician manifestly is to discover the cause of the disease. Now we have seen that in the age of Socrates there was a widespread disposition to call in question the moral and religious principles of the past. Reason had begun to weaken the authority of faith, but was herself too weak to rule the kingdom she would claim; and the consequences of this inward sedition—so, at least, it seemed to Socrates and Plato—were only too manifest in the social and political life of Athens. It might accordingly appear reasonable to attribute the disease of the body politic to the prevailing scepticism; and the conservative section of public opinion undoubtedly took this view. Socrates diagnosed otherwise. In his opinion, the lack of knowledge, and not the lack of faith, was responsible for the evils which he saw around him. What considerations led Socrates to this conclusion? In the first place, he found, or thought he found, nearly every section of a society which seemed to him unsound pervaded by the disease of ignorance in its worst form—the conceit of knowledge without the reality. He observed, moreover, that in the sphere of the industrial arts, carpentry, shoemaking, and so forth, right action springs from knowledge, wrong action from ignorance; and he inferred that the same must hold good of the art of life. But these and similar arguments probably counted for less than the unconscious testimony of his own character. Whether in his early years Socrates passed through a period of struggle for self-mastery, we do not know for certain. In itself, it is not improbable that a nature so full and strong had experienced the power of passion; and there is some slight evidence to this effect. A certain Zopyrus, who prided himself on reading the mind's construction in the face, is said to have once enlarged on the vices reflected in the physiognomy of Socrates. Most of those present disagreed; Socrates, however, remarked: “He is right: the vices are there; only reason has dethroned them.”22

But whether this anecdote be true or false, every one must allow that in the maturer Socrates of whom we read in Xenophon and Plato, desire and will were completely under the sway of reason. We are told by Xenophon that he was “so self-controlled, so temperate, that he never at any time chose the sweeter in place of the better.” “His self-restraint shone forth even more in his acts than in his language. Not only was he master over the pleasures which flow from the body, but of those also which are fed by riches.”23 With Socrates, to know his duty was to perform it; and what was true of himself, he expected would prove true of others also.

Moral perversity, in the view of Socrates, is therefore due to ignorance; nay more, he went so far as to maintain that vice is ignorance, and ignorance vice. This is the first principle of Socratic doctrine; and we must now attempt to understand its significance and value as a contribution to theoretical and practical ethics.

We are struck in the first place by the excessive intellectualism of the theory, all the more remarkable, perhaps, in one who was so fully in touch with concrete human nature. It has already been pointed out that the Greeks were from the first disposed to recognise a strongly intellectual element in morality. The prevailing conception of sin in Homer and Herodotus, in lyric poetry and the drama, treats it as a form of mental blindness or aberration. By Socrates, however, this inherent tendency of Greek thought is carried to what appears to us a paradoxical extreme. Not only does he reduce all the specific virtues to varieties of knowledge, but he constantly speaks as if there were no irrational part of soul at all. To Socrates, the proverbial video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor, would be altogether meaningless: he who knows what is right, does it, and there is no more to be said. Aristotle declares that the identification of virtue with knowledge amounts to a denial of the possibility of incontinence—that is, the state of mind which, knowing the better, deliberately chooses the worse;24 and the criticism is fair enough. But on a closer scrutiny, the Socratic thesis is less paradoxical than it appears, on account of Socrates' peculiar conception of knowledge. What the word “knowledge” meant to Socrates, will be clearly seen if we contrast his view with that of an eminent prelate, who in a recent address to an assembly of schoolboys is reported to have said that “as to the material we wanted turned out at our public schools, he placed straightness of character first, unselfishness of character second, courage and perseverance to stand up for the faith next, and knowledge last.” Here, presumably, knowledge is conceived of as having little or no relation to character and conduct; otherwise it would hardly be placed last and lowest in the scale. The speaker is obviously thinking of the accumulation of facts within the mind, and nothing more. Now this is not at all what Socrates meant by knowledge. With what we may call pure science, he had little or no sympathy. “Up to the limit set by utility,” says Xenophon, “he was ready to join in any investigation, and to follow out an argument with those who were with him; but there he stopped.”25 Geometry, in its original meaning of “land-measurement” (γϵωμϵτρία), he regarded as a useful aid to life; but he emphatically condemned what he used to call the “study of unintelligible diagrams.”26 His attitude towards astronomy and physics might be expressed in the words of Cowper:

“God never meant that man should scale the Heavens

By strides of human wisdom.”27

The truth is that knowledge, as understood by Socrates, has the closest possible relation to the character. It is a certain overmastering principle or power that lays hold primarily indeed of the intellect, but through the intellect of the entire personality, moulding and disciplining the will and the emotions into absolute unison with itself, a principle from which courage, temperance, justice, and every other virtue inevitably flow. It seemed to Socrates a monstrous thing, says Aristotle, that a man who possesses knowledge should be overcome and dragged this way and that by any other impulse like a slave.28 Socrates' conception of knowledge is the intellectual counterpart of the Christian conception of faith; inasmuch as knowledge must necessarily—so he thought—bear fruit in the life. We may be sure that Socrates would have denied the possession of knowledge to one whose actions were immoral or unjust. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” and by nothing else.

Seen from this point of view, the identification of virtue and knowledge ceases to be a paradox, and becomes the expression of an ideal. It is, in effect, an exhortation to inward unity: all the different elements of the soul are to be brought into harmony with reason, the highest of human faculties, according to Socrates and Plato. This, I believe, is the full and proper meaning of the doctrine; and in this sense, as I have already indicated, Socrates was himself a living example of what he taught. But the doctrine that vice is ignorance, however one-sided it may at first appear, conveys yet another lesson which we are sometimes in danger of forgetting. A larger proportion of human wickedness and misery than stern-voiced moralists are sometimes apt to suppose, is undoubtedly the offspring of ignorance. The temptation of organised communities is to ignore this fact, because it appears to raise the difficult question of the moral responsibility of the individual. If vice is nothing but ignorance, deliberate wrong-doing, it might be argued, is non-existent: οὐδϵὶ ς ϵ̔κὼν ἁμαρτάνϵι as Socrates used to say: so that we have no right to inflict punishment upon the wrong-doer. This difficulty—whether real or apparent, we need not at present inquire—Socrates seems not to have considered; but it was certainly present to the mind of Plato, and the solution which he offers is entirely in harmony with the spirit of his master's teaching. Because men sin through ignorance, it by no means follows, according to Plato, that we should dispense with punishment: the proper inference is that punishment should in its aim and character be educative or remedial, rather than vindictive or retributory. “In chastising the wicked,” Plato says, “our object should always be to make him better”: τὸν κακὸν ἀϵὶ δϵι̑ κολάζϵιν ἵν̕ ἀμϵίνων ᾐ̑.29 The judge, in the true or ideal meaning of the word, is a spiritual physician—one whose duty is to heal the soul of the disease of wickedness.30 We have met with several anticipations of this relatively humane conception of punishment in earlier Greek literature, for example in Aeschylus, where he teaches that “through suffering men learn” (πάθος μάθος); and from the history of words like δικαιου̑ν, and σωϕροίνϵίιν, signifying at first “make just,” “make temperate,” and afterwards “chastise,” it is plain that such a view was not unfamiliar to the ordinary Greek consciousness, though seldom recognised in the penal legislation of antiquity. But the remedial theory of punishment, when it occurs in Plato, is probably a deliberate and conscious inference from the Socratic identification of ignorance and vice.

Nothing is more noteworthy in connexion with Socrates' doctrine of virtue and vice than the faith which it exhibits in the essential goodness of human nature. If a man errs, he errs involuntarily, through ignorance: so that even in the very act of sinning, he is fain not to sin. In other words, all men always and everywhere desire (βούλονται) the good—a sentiment than which none is more characteristic of Socraticism. What precisely did the sentiment mean in the mouth of Socrates? To us the word “good” appears to be ambiguous: did Socrates understand by it the morally good and right, or only the useful and expedient? The answer is that he understood the word in both senses at once: for, according to his view, the morally right is that which is useful (ὠϕϵ́λιμον): only by “useful” in this connexion he invariably meant what is useful or salubrious to the soul, virtue being conceived of as the health of the inward man. Substituting only the word “ignorance” for “sin,” Socrates might have applied to humanity at large what St. Paul says of himself: “The good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise. But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me.”31 The Socratic doctrine that “no one is willingly evil”—οὐδϵὶς ϵ̔κὼν πονηρός—recognises the presence in all men of a hunger and thirst after righteousness, which it thus becomes the duty and privilege of the teacher both to stimulate and to assuage. In such a creed there is no room for despair; nor in his life and doctrine did Socrates ever show the smallest trace of pessimism. It is not the least of his claims to be regarded as the prophet of a new evangel, that every word he utters is full of indomitable courage and steadfast hope.

It remains to inquire how this physician of the soul endeavoured to direct men on the way to knowledge. And first of all we are concerned with the method rather than with the substance of his teaching.

Plato, in the Republic, declares that a good teacher will begin by a cleansing or cathartic process,32 and the historical Socrates invariably observed this rule. The mind of the learner is seldom or never a tabula rasa: on the contrary, it is nearly always full of erroneous sentiments and prejudices which must be discarded before any true progress can be made. The aggregate of these prejudices Socrates was in the habit of calling the “conceit of knowledge without the reality.” How did he endeavour to remove this obstacle? By means of the “negative arm of the elenchus”—the destructive or refutative dialectic of which we have so many examples in the so-called Socratic dialogues of Plato. It is unnecessary to dwell on this preliminary stage in the Socratic method, further than to remind you of its general character. An apparently casual conversation leads to the emergence of one of those familiar ethical concepts whose meaning we generally take for granted; and Socrates invites his companion to define the concept. When at last an attempt is made, Socrates proceeds to quote individual cases to which the definition will not apply: other definitions follow, only to suffer the same fate, and in the end the unfortunate victim of the elenchus generally contradicts himself out of his own mouth. It is obvious, of course, that the effect of this interrogatory, which Socrates, true to his principle that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” practised in season and out of season, on all sorts and conditions of men, must inevitably have varied according to the character of those on whom it was exercised. In the case of men swollen with self-esteem and still further inflated by the applause of others, the Socratic cross-examination must have been all the more exasperating when they noticed that their discomfiture provided both Socrates and his disciples with a measure of enjoyment which the latter at least made no attempt to conceal. ἔστι γὰρ οὐκ ἀηδδϵ́ς—says Socrates in the Apology—“it really is a source of satisfaction” to witness the exposure of men who think themselves wise when they are foolish.33 Others there doubtless were whose hostility was inspired by deeper and less self-regarding motives. There is in every age a type of mind that hates and fears discussion, partly, perhaps, from intellectual impotence, and partly from a sincere and sometimes just alarm lest it should “corrupt” the young. Even in the sceptical atmosphere of Periclean Athens, men of this stamp were common, conservatives without exception, and sometimes patriots, of sufficient intelligence to understand the destructive power of the Socratic elenchus, but unable to appreciate its positive or reconstructive side. From these two classes Socrates might provoke animosity and opposition, but he could not expect to do them good. With all the greater zeal did he throw himself into his true vocation, that of an apostle to young men. Nowhere, perhaps, is the false conceit of knowledge so common as in that quarter; but at no other period is it so amenable to treatment, provided the physician is a man of skill. And there never was a greater master of the art of dealing with the young than Socrates. He possessed in a unique degree that indefinable, half-magnetic power which attracts even when it puzzles and bewilders; and in spite of, or rather, perhaps, because of, his characteristic ϵἰρωνϵία or self-depreciation, he seldom failed to leave the impression that the hand which dealt the wound could also heal. But the immediate effect which the preliminary and purgatorial dialectic of Socrates produced in those who were destined to profit by his teaching was one of extreme perplexity and distress—a necessary stage, as it seemed to Socrates, upon the road to knowledge. Of this state of mind, which in the Socratic school was called ἀπορία, we have several pictures from the pen of Plato, and one at least from Xenophon. After a somewhat drastic application of the elenchus, Euthydemus in the Memorabilia expresses himself in these words: “By heaven, Socrates, I used emphatically to consider myself a student of the knowledge which I thought most likely to teach me everything suitable for one who would fain be a good and honourable man; but imagine my despair when, in spite of all my former labours, I find that I cannot so much as answer a question about things which a man ought most of all to know, and have no other way to go, in order to become better.”34 To a similar effect, but infinitely more powerful and impressive, is the confession which Plato in the Symposium puts into the mouth of Alcibiades. “When we hear any other speaker, even a very good one, he produces absolutely no effect upon us, or not much, whereas the mere fragments of you and your words, even at second-hand, and however imperfectly repeated, amaze and possess the souls of every man, woman, and child who comes within hearing of them.…My heart leaps within me more than that of any Corybantian reveller, and my eyes rain tears when I hear them. And I observe that many others are affected in the same manner. I have heard Pericles and other great orators, and I thought that they spoke well, but I never had any similar feeling; my soul was not stirred by them, nor was I angry at the thought of my own slavish state. But this Marsyas has often brought me to such a pass, that I have felt as if I could hardly endure the life which I am leading (this, Socrates, you will admit); and I am conscious that if I did not shut my ears against him, and fly as from the voice of the siren, my fate would be like that of others,—he would transfix me, and I should grow old sitting at his feet. For he makes me confess that I ought not to live as I do, neglecting the wants of my own soul, and busying myself with the concerns of the Athenians; therefore I hold my ears and tear myself away from him.…Many a time have I wished that he were dead, and yet I know that I should be much more sorry than glad if he were to die: so that I am at my wits' end.”35

It is from testimony of this kind, even more than from the records of his actual conversations, that we can best understand the extraordinary power which Socrates wielded over his disciples. What chiefly concerns us at present, however, is to understand the exact nature of that ἀπορία which the purgatorial exercise of the elenchus was designed to produce. We have seen that ignorance was the Socratic equivalent of sin, and knowledge in some respects the Socratic equivalent of faith; and in this condition of perplexity, which Alcibiades so powerfully describes, we have the intellectual counterpart of the kind of moral and spiritual awakening which so often proves the prelude to a better life. I say the “intellectual counterpart,” because here it is the intellect which is primarily affected, whereas in religious experiences it is rather the emotions and the will; but the Socratic ἀπορία was moral as well as intellectual. “He made me feel,” says Alcibiades, “as though I could hardly endure the life which I am living”: πολλάκις δὴ οὕτω διϵτϵ́θην ὥστϵ μοι δόξαι μὴ βιωτὸν ϵἰ̑ναι / ? /χοντι ὡς / ? /χω.

Before we consider the second or positive stage in Socrates' dialectical method, it is necessary that we should clearly understand the limits within which he worked. It has already been pointed out that he will have nothing to do with mathematical or physical studies. As regards the latter, he justified his attitude by sarcastic observations on the mutually destructive theories of pre-Socratic cosmological inquiry.36 Socrates concerned himself exclusively with man, considered as an individual, as a member of the community or state, and in his relation to the Gods; and this, of course, is what Cicero means by saying that he called Philosophy down from heaven to earth. But even within the sphere of strictly human interests and concerns, he drew a sharp distinction between what he called things hidden or obscure(τὰ ἄδηλα), and certain other matters with which our reason is both qualified and called upon to deal. To the first of these categories belong questions into which an element of uncertainty must always enter by reason of their reference to the future, such as the success or failure of any particular enterprise or undertaking, the vicissitudes of human life, and so forth. Let us hear what Socrates himself says on the subject. “Let a man sow field or plant farm never so well, yet he cannot foretell who will gather in the fruits: another may build him a house of fairest proportion, yet he knows not who will inhabit it. Neither can a general foresee whether it will profit him to conduct a campaign, nor a politician be certain whether his leadership will turn to evil or to good.…To suppose that all these matters lay within the scope of human judgment, to the exclusion of the preternatural, was preternatural folly.”37 The whole of this side of things, Socrates believed, the Gods had reserved for themselves, and denied to human reason; but we are not on that account to leave it out of consideration altogether. Our duty in such matters is to consult the Gods through the appointed channels of communication—that is, by means of oracles and the diviner's art. “About things which are hidden,” he would say, “we ought to inquire of the Gods by divination; for the Gods grant signs to those to whom they are gracious.”38 It follows that “no one who wishes to manage a house or city with success: no one aspiring to guide the helm of state aright, can afford to dispense with aid from above.”39 Here, as well as elsewhere, it has sometimes been supposed that Xenophon unjustly ascribes his own extreme religiosity to Socrates; but surely this distinction between two spheres, the one accessible to reason, and the other suprarational, is the natural result of that peculiar combination of rationalism and transcendentalism which we have already found to be characteristic of the man. At the same time, after having discriminated the two departments, Socrates turns with enthusiasm to that in which, as it seems to him, Reason and not Revelation is our appointed guide. On questions of morality and conduct, he deemed it not less absurd to consult the Gods than to refrain from consulting them in the cases I have described. Our business is to determine all such questions by the exercise of reason, and reason alone.40

How, then, did Socrates set himself to establish in his followers a positive foundation for morality? Aristotle observes that two discoveries may justly be ascribed to him, inductive reasoning and the art of definition.41 It would lead us too far to illustrate the use which Socrates made of these two weapons in his conversations; and it must suffice to say in general terms that his object invariably was to arrive at some λόγος or principle acceptable to the reason, and afterwards to apply this principle in particular cases as a criterion of what ought or ought not to be done. By this method he directed all his own actions;42 and he could conceive of no better rule for his disciples. There is nothing mystical or transcendental about the Socratic Logos; with that of Heraclitus it has nothing in common except the name. It is simply the general idea, definition, or concept, let us say of justice, or courage, or temperance, arrived at by the comparison of instances not always representative, and sometimes chosen in such a way as to suggest that Socrates, like other preachers of morality, occasionally framed his premises to suit a preconceived conclusion.

One noteworthy feature in Socratic induction is the extent to which its materials were drawn from the scenes of everyday life. It was made a matter of reproach to him by some of his contemporaries that he was always saying the same thing, and always in the same style—continually harping on “shoemakers and fullers and cooks and doctors,” says Callicles in the Gorgias of Plato.43 Those who knew Socrates better could not fail to be attracted by the contrast between his plebeian illustrations, and the lessons they were meant to impart: it was like the contrast between the almost grotesque exterior of the man himself and the soul which it concealed. “His words,” says the Platonic Alcibiades, “are like the images of Silenus which open; they are ridiculous when you first hear them; he clothes himself in language that is like the skin of the wanton satyr—for his talk is of pack-asses and smiths and cobblers and curriers, and he is always repeating the same things in the same words, so that any ignorant or inexperienced person might feel disposed to laugh at him; but he who opens the bust and sees what is within will find that they are the only words which have a meaning in them, and also the most divine, abounding in fair images of virtue, and of the widest comprehension, or rather extending to the whole duty of a good and honourable man.”44

Another characteristic mark of Socrates' method of instruction is deserving of particular notice. He expressly disclaims the title of teacher, and prefers to represent himself as a fellow-inquirer, a companion in the search for knowledge and the virtuous life. His motto, it has been said, was docendo discimus; truth is brought to light, not by solitary meditation, but rather through the contact of mind with mind. The practical result of this attitude was to establish an intimate personal relationship between him and his disciples, a relationship which the Platonic Socrates playfully describes in language borrowed from the vocabulary of passion. In Plato this conception appears in the form familiar to English readers from the platonising poets of the Elizabethan age—as a kind of spiritual union between two souls for the generation of lofty thoughts and noble deeds, what Shakespeare calls the “marriage of true minds.” The germ of the idea was, however, transmitted to Socrates by Plato; and the same may probably be said of another and kindred notion which plays a great part in the educational theory of the greatest of Socrates' disciples. In the Theaetetus45 Plato describes the ἀπορία or “perplexity” of which I have spoken as a form of intellectual parturition; so that the teacher becomes as it were an obstetrician who brings to light those thoughts and intuitions with which the mind of the pupil is in labour. He does not so much attempt to instil knowledge from without as to educe it from within. The consequences of this view of education are of far-reaching significance, but it would be premature to discuss them now; for it was not Socrates, but Plato, who elaborated the conception, and gave it, as we shall see, a yet deeper meaning by the doctrine that the soul in its essential and uncorrupted nature is divine.

From what has hitherto been said, we may perhaps form some idea of the distinctive peculiarities of the Socratic method, and more especially of the way in which it was calculated to produce a moral as well as an intellectual regeneration—what Plato for his part calls a πϵριαγωγή or revolution of the entire soul. We have next to consider the substance or content of Socrates' doctrine. As already indicated, he deals exclusively, or almost exclusively, with man: and even within the sphere of human activities he confines himself for the most part to questions which have a practical bearing on life and conduct. The object of nearly all his disputations was to determine “how we ought to live” (πω̑ς βιωτϵ́ον): and the first great principle, on which he constantly insisted, was the Delphic maxim, γνω̑θι σϵαυτόν, “Learn to know thyself.” “Tell me, Euthydemus,” we read in the Memorabilia, “have you ever been to Delphi?” “Twice.” “And did you observe the inscription on the temple, Learn to know thyself'?” “I did.” “Well, now, did you pay no heed to it? or did you attend thereto and try to examine and find out who and what you are?” “No, I did not. I thought I knew that well enough already; for if I did not know my own self, I should indeed be ignorant.”46 Let us consider for a moment how Socrates interpreted this text. He did not regard it as a summons to the exercise of self-examination, as practised, for example, by the later Pythagoreans, who at the close of the day were in the habit of asking themselves, “How have I sinned? What duty have I left undone?” Self-scrutiny of such a kind would have appeared to Socrates irrational and morbid. Still less did he find in the Delphic exhortation any hint of the deep religious significance attaching to it in one of the recently discovered “Sayings of Jesus,” where we have a notable example of the way in which Greek ideas were absorbed into Christianity at a comparatively early date. “The kingdom of heaven”—I follow Grenfell and Hunt's restoration—“is within you; and whoever shall know himself shall find it. (Strive therefore?) to know yourselves, and ye shall be aware that ye are the sons of the (almighty?) Father.”47 The teaching of this fragment might be illustrated from Plato and Cleanthes,48 but scarcely from Socrates, although the phrase “self-knowledge” is doubtless ultimately due to him. In the mouth of Socrates the Delphic precept meant nothing more than “Learn to take the measure of your own capacities, proclivities, and powers.” “The man who has self-knowledge,” Socrates said, “knows what is suited to himself, distinguishes between what he can and what he cannot do, and by doing what he knows, acquires what he needs, and so does well (ϵὐ̑ πράττουσιν); while, on the other hand, by refraining from what he does not know, he makes no blunders, and avoids ill-doing” (διαϕϵύγουσι τὸ κακω̑ς πράττϵιν).49 It is obvious that the Socratic doctrine of self-knowledge has nothing metaphysical or recondite about it, but is just an eminently practical assertion of a principle the truth of which men often learn by sad experience.

If one were invited to express the sum and substance of Socrates' teaching in a single word, it would be difficult to find a better than “Noocracy.” As far as concerns the relation of the individual to himself, I have already stated that he tried to establish a perfect harmony of all the powers and faculties of the soul under the government of reason, and that he inculcated this ideal by example as well as by precept. We must beware, however, of supposing that Socrates had any sympathy with the kind of asceticism by means of which his followers the Cynics endeavoured to exemplify, as they imagined, the rule of reason in their lives. The inward freedom which Socrates desired for himself and others was that which comes not from self-abnegation, but from “self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control”; it would be quite in the spirit of his teaching to hold that asceticism is a sign of weakness rather than of strength. Alcibiades in the Symposium of Plato relates how Socrates, when serving in the army, far excelled his fellow-soldiers in power to endure the miseries incidental to a campaign, hunger, cold, and the like, and yet at a banquet he seemed the only person capable of enjoying himself; he did not wish to drink, but when compelled to do so, no one could keep pace with him, although no one ever saw him intoxicated.50 It is clear that the noocratical ideal of Socrates did not require or permit him to renounce the world. Monasticism would have seemed to him a form of indolence, or even of betrayal. In its political application, the principle we are now considering takes the form of a demand for an aristocracy of knowledge, in direct and conscious antagonism to the rule of ignorance, which, in the opinion of Socrates, was the most dangerous feature of Athenian democracy. He never tires of reiterating that government is not a happy inspiration, but an art or science, like the art of steering, making shoes, and so on; and the ruthless logic with which he exposed the pretensions of self-seeking politicians, as well as his outspoken denunciations of some of the most cherished institutions of the Athenian state, made for him many powerful enemies, in spite of his unfailing loyalty to the existing laws. How perfect that loyalty was, there is ample evidence to show. On one famous occasion he had stood forth as the champion of the laws against the fury of the people; on another, against the tyranny of the Thirty; and at the end of his life, though recognising to the full the injustice of his condemnation, he refused the offer of escape, lest he should violate what Plato calls the law requiring judicial sentences to be enforced.51 It must be allowed that however much the teaching of Socrates may have involuntarily tended to subvert the purely Hellenic ideal, in practice at least, Athens never had a better citizen.

We have often seen that popular Greek morality considered it a duty to requite evil with evil, no less than good with good. What was the position of Socrates on this subject? In the first book of Plato's Republic,52 the ordinary Greek view is for the first time assailed by arguments which, alike in form and in substance, are such as the historical Socrates might well have employed. It is urged that to injure a human being under any circumstances whatever is to make him worse in point of human excellence or virtue, just as by injuring a horse or a dog we make them less serviceable for the work in which they for their part are fitted to excel; and from hence the conclusion is drawn that the good man never does harm to any one, whether friend or foe. The Gorgias and Crito teach the same lesson. Plato knows well that such a doctrine is directly opposed to the usual Greek belief. “Though all the world agree with you,” Socrates exclaims in the Gorgias, “I, one man, do not agree” (ϵ̕γω̃ σοι ϵἱ̑ς ὢν οὐχ ὁμολογω̑).53 “It is wrong,” we read in the Crito, “to requite injustice with injustice, or to inflict evil upon any man, whatever we may suffer at his hand.”54 No one who fully understands what is involved in this sentence will deny that it opens up a new conception, not only of human duty, but also of humanity itself: essentially the same conception, indeed, which Christ proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount. Some have doubted whether the new departure was really the work of Socrates, and not rather of his disciple Plato. To me it seems clearly due to Socrates; for by this principle Socrates invariably regulated his life, both in public and in private. “To the state,” says Xenophon, “he was never the cause of any evil—neither disaster in war, nor faction, nor treason, nor any other mischief whatsoever. And if his public life was free from all offence, so was his private. He never hurt a single soul either by deprivation of good or infliction of evil, nor did he ever lie under the imputation of any of those misdoings.”55 And at the close of the Apology, Plato makes him forgive his judges. “I am not angry,” he says, “with those who voted for my death.”56

On the question of the immortality of the soul it is not altogether easy to determine what Socrates believed. There is, of course, a strong a priori probability that he gave some consideration to the subject. As Jowett observes, “it may be fairly urged that the greatest religious interest of mankind could not have been wholly ignored by one who passed his life in fulfilling the commands of an oracle, and who recognized a Divine plan in man and nature.”57 One thing at least is clear: In the prosecution of his mission, Socrates did not dwell upon the hope of immortality as a motive for piety and virtue in this present life: otherwise we should certainly have found some traces of the doctrine in the Memorabilia. The only hint which I can find is contained in the statement that the soul of man participates in the divine (του̑ θϵίου μϵτϵ́χϵι).58 It is the kinship between the human soul and the divine that forms the ultimate foundation of Plato's belief in immortality. But nowhere in the Memorabilia is the suggestion worked out. The Cyropaedia, however, contains a notable passage, where Xenophon makes the dying Cyrus express an inclination to hold that man's νου̑ς or reason survives the moment of dissolution, and when freed from the body and its encumbrances, attains to a measure of intelligence far greater than during its imprisonment in the flesh.59 The parallel between the argument of Xenophon and one or two passages of Plato's Phaedo is so close, that we may fairly suppose their common master sometimes reasoned in this way.60 At the same time Cyrus refrains from dogmatising on the subject; his last words are, “I shall be in safety, beyond the reach of evil, whether I am with God (του̑ θϵίου), or whether I no longer exist.”61 This is just the position which the Platonic Socrates takes up in the Apology, except that it is not the absence of evil, but the positive presence of good, which is the leading feature of the immortality which he there conceives as possible, or, perhaps we should rather say, as probable. In the Apology it is said that there are two possibilities, and no other. Death must either be annihilation, or another form of life: and each of these alternatives—observe how Socrates herein reveals his lifelong optimism —is good. In the one case, rest from labour, a dreamless sleep that knows no waking; in the other, fellowship with the mighty dead, Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer. What greater happiness than to continue in the other world the service to which God had called him here, examining the heroes of old, Agamemnon, or Odysseus, or Sisyphus, to see which of them is wise and which foolish, though wise in his own esteem—a missionary, as it were, to the spirits in prison? But the last word is non liquet: ἄδηλον παντὶ πλὴν ἢ τῳ̑ θϵῳ̑—one knows but God.62 During the month which elapsed between the condemnation and the death of Socrates, his hope of immortality, perhaps, grew stronger : there may be more historical foundation for the Phaedo of Plato than is commonly supposed. Of one thing, however, according to Socrates, we may be sure. The soul may perish, or it may survive; but for the good man neither life nor death has any terrors: his interests are safe with God.63 “Our times are in His hand; trust God, nor be afraid.”

Our consideration of Socrates' views on immortality has brought us by natural stages to the last division of our subject. What did Socrates teach about the Gods, and man's duty towards the Gods? I cannot here attempt to discuss the critical questions that have lately been raised with reference to those passages of the Memorabilia which profess to give an account of Socrates' theological opinions. It must suffice to say that while in agreement with Gomperz I believe them to have really been written by Xenophon, I go further than Gomperz, and hold that Xenophon is in all probability reproducing some of the actual conversations of his master. The tendency of some recent works has been to look upon Aristotle, rather than Xenophon, as our primary and most trustworthy source for the doctrine of the historical Socrates.64 But the effect of this assumption—more than an assumption it cannot well be called—is to represent not only the teacher, but also the man himself in a different light from that in which he appeared to those with whom he lived in daily converse. To them Socrates was not in the first instance what he was to Aristotle, the founder of “inductive reasoning and definition,” but rather, as we have already seen from many testimonies, a spiritual guide, philosopher, and friend. And, in point of fact, the particular form which Socrates' theology took, if Xenophon is to be believed, was just what we should expect from the rest of his teaching. One who consistently preached the rule of Reason in the individual and the state, might well conceive of God as the Reason that rules the world.

To Socrates the whole of Nature appeared to bear the impress of design. Anticipating in scope and purpose, though not, of course, in detail, the “Anatomist's Hymn” of Oliver Wendell Holmes, he enlarges on the adaptation of means to ends discernible in the structure of the human body, arguing that it cannot be the work of chance, but only of a wise artificer, who loves the creatures he has made (σοϕου̑ τινὸς δημιουργου̑ καὶ ϕιλοζώου).65 The same lesson, he maintains, is even more clearly taught by a study of man's psychical nature. Those involuntary instincts which ensure the safety of the individual and the species, the reproductive impulse, the love of parents for their children, our natural love of life and hatred of death; the faculty of speech, by which alone society, civilisation, and law are rendered possible; how are they all to be accounted for, except on the hypothesis of a Being who deliberately planned the existence and happiness of man? Consider again the religious endowment of the human race. Man is the only animal who can apprehend the existence of Gods, the only creature who is privileged to do them service. Or consider the faculty of reason, by which we draw conclusions from what we perceive and devise contrivances for enjoying the good and repelling the evil. Surely in all this we have the strongest proof of a creative intelligence deliberating for the interests of mankind. And if we turn from man to outward nature, the spectacle is just the same. Socrates expatiates on the movements of the heavenly bodies, on the blessed gift of sunlight, on the silence of the nocturnal hours designed as if to invite repose: he points to the earth yielding her fruit in due season, to the beneficent operation of the other elements, and insists so powerfully on the adaptation of universal nature to human needs, that Euthydemus is disposed to doubt whether the Gods have any other occupation except to minister to man, till he remembers that the other animals also partake in many of these benefits. True, replies Socrates; but the lower animals are themselves created for the sake of man, to supply him with food and labour and so on. And finally, in matters appertaining to the future, where human reason is of no avail, the Gods are ready and willing to help, through the medium of oracles and divination. The inference which Socrates draws from all these apparent instances of design is that in nature, as in man, there is an indwelling intelligence or mind, ἡ ϵ̕ν τῳ̑ παντὶ ϕρόνησις, invisible, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, itself in need of nothing, but always working on behalf of human creatures, both individually and collectively. This is the Socratic conception of God, as described by Xenophon; and Socrates further suggests that the human mind is itself only an efflux or fragment of the universal or cosmic mind—a theory which we have already met with in Greek thought.66

The two conversations67 thus briefly summarised represent in a primitive and rudimentary form the physico-theological argument which has played so great a part in the history of theism. It is doubtless correct to look upon Socrates as the originator of this proof, in the sense that he was the first who deliberately employed the a posteriori traces of design in nature with a view to establish the existence of a rational and beneficent Deity: but the doctrine of a supreme intelligence controlling and directing all things was not of course a new one. By the poets, especially Pindar, Aeschylus, and Sophocles, we are constantly reminded that Zeus is the universal ruler, and one of his attributes is Reason. Among the philosophers, Xenophanes speaks of the World-God as “ruling all things by the purpose of his mind²: the omnipresent Logos of Heraclitus we have seen to be divine and rational: and, according to Anaxagoras, the ultimate cause of the World-order is Nous. The teleology of Socrates looks at first sight like an imperfect attempt to develop the pregnant suggestion of Anaxagoras; but the reasoning is much too anthropocentric to deserve to be regarded as an adequate interpretation of the Anaxagorean concept. For that we must look to Plato, and still more, perhaps, to Aristotle. Socrates' discourses on this subject should rather be compared with a note-worthy passage of Herodotus, where it is remarked as an indication of the divine providence (του̑ θϵίου ἡ προνοΐη) that timorous and edible animals, such as the hare, have been created prolific, whereas those which are dangerous to man and unfit for food, like lions, vipers, and winged serpents, breed very sparingly.68 Or we may compare the lines in which Euripides, inspired, perhaps, by Socrates himself, enumerates the blessings we owe to the God

“who shaped in order's mould

Our lives redeemed from chaos and the brute,”

dwelling successively on the gift of reason, the faculty of speech, the bountiful produce of the earth, and so on, concluding, just like Socrates, with a reference to the art of divination by which the Gods disclose what human reason cannot see.69 The truth clearly is, that in its immediate aim and purpose the theology of Socrates is hortatory rather than philosophical. At the same time, by representing God as the immanent reason of the world, as well as by insisting, however narrowly, on the adaptation of means to ends in nature, he exercised a considerable influence on later theological thought, as may be seen from the second book of Cicero's de Natura Deorum.70

It remains to consider briefly Socrates' religious teaching on its practical side. Plato in the Euthyphro makes him say that every blessing we enjoy is the gift of Heaven.71 Hence the object of worship, according to Socrates, is not to win the favour or appease the anger of the Gods, but simply to express our gratitude. If it is urged that the Gods are too exalted to require our homage, Socrates replies, “The greater the power that tends us, the more we are bound to do it honour.”72 How then are we to honour the Gods? So far as external forms and ceremonies are concerned, we should obey the oracle of Delphi, and worship God according to the law or custom of our country (νόμῳ πόλϵως)73 Xenophon assures us that Socrates invariably enforced this principle by example as well as precept; and Plato's evidence is to a similar effect.74 I conceive that the injunction to “worship God according to the custom of your city” carries a twofold implication. It seems to suggest on the one hand that all men everywhere worship the same God, though under different names and with different forms and ceremonies. A similar lesson is indirectly taught by the doctrine of eternal laws or principles, implanted by the Gods themselves in the consciences of all mankind, without distinction of nationality or race; and we may infer from Xenophon that Socrates was one of those who entertained this belief.75 In the second place, the Delphic command appears to imply that the essence of true religion does not consist in observances and rites. It is of comparatively slight importance how or with what ritual we worship—we should acquiesce in the form of religion appointed by the State, and give ourselves no further anxiety on that score. What really matters is the spirit—the inward character of mind and soul—with which we sacrifice and pray. Speaking of Socrates' view of sacrifice, Xenophon thus writes: “If with scant means he offered but small sacrifices, he believed that he was in no wise inferior to others who make frequent and large sacrifices from an ampler store. It were ill surely for the very gods themselves, could they take delight in large sacrifices rather than in small, else oftentimes must the offerings of bad men be found acceptable rather than of good; nor from the point of view of men themselves would life be worth living if the offerings of a villain rather than of a righteous man found favour in the sight of Heaven. His belief was that the joy of the gods is greater in proportion to the holiness of the giver, and he was ever an admirer of that line of Hesiod which says,

“‘According to thine ability do sacrifice to the immortal gods.’”76

As for prayer, we are told by Xenophon that Socrates “used to pray for that which is good, without further specification, believing that the Gods best know what is good.”77 In the second of the two Platonic dialogues named after Alcibiades, Socrates quotes with approval an old Lacedaemonian prayer: “Give us, O King Zeus, what is good, whether we pray for it or not; and avert from us the evil, even if we pray for it.”78 In its perfect faith and self-suppression, the Socratic formula of prayer is more Christian than Greek.

I have dwelt so long upon the doctrine of Socrates, that we may be in danger, perhaps, of forgetting that the secret of his influence over his disciples lay in what he was even more than in what he taught. Lest we should fall into this error, let me remind you of the words with which Xenophon ends the Memorabilia: “To me, personally, he was what I have myself endeavoured to describe: so pious and devoutly religious that he would take no step apart from the will of heaven; so just and upright that he never did even a trifling injury to any living soul; so self-controlled, so temperate, that he never at any time chose the sweeter in place of the better; so sensible and wise and prudent that in distinguishing the better from the worse he never erred; nor had he need of any helper, but for the knowledge of these matters, his judgment was at once infallible and self-sufficing. Capable of reasonably setting forth and defining moral questions, he was also able to test others, and where they erred, to cross-examine and convict them, and so to impel and guide them in the path of virtue and noble manhood. With these characteristics, he seemed to be the very impersonation of human perfection and happiness.”79 This obviously sincere and heart-felt testimony will show us what the living Socrates was to his followers; but there is something still to be said.

Great as was the influence of his life, the power he exercised through his death was not less great. That the most truly moral and religious of the Greeks should have been condemned on the double charge of corrupting the youth and introducing new Gods, cannot but appear a signal instance of the irony of Fate. And yet it is not difficult to understand the causes which brought about the martyrdom of Socrates. Some part, no doubt, was played by personal rancour and hostility; we are told in the Apology that he had made not a few enemies in the exercise of his vocation.80 The repeated attacks of the comedians, culminating in the Clouds of Aristophanes, may also have done something to instil and foster in the public mind a prejudice against one whom they invariably represented as the leading champion of the so-called sophistic culture. But these two causes, if such they may be called, were at most subsidiary; otherwise Socrates could hardly have escaped persecution for so long. It is indeed a remarkable testimony to the toleration of his countrymen, that so outspoken a critic of Athenian democracy and statesmen should have made his first acquaintance with a law court at the age of seventy.81 We must therefore look for circumstances of a more special character to explain why he was put on trial at that particular time. The date was 399 B.C., four years after the restoration of the democracy. Although a formal amnesty had been proclaimed, the rule of the Thirty had left bitter memories which it was not easy to efface. Socrates himself had taken no part in any of the revolutions by which Athens had been convulsed; but it could not be forgotten that the majority of his associates were men of oligarchical sympathies, and that he himself, however loyal in his actions, condemned the institution of the lot, and frequently gave utterance to other sentiments of an anti-democratical nature. Above all, the hated Critias had once belonged to the Socratic circle; so, too, had Alcibiades; and both of them had inflicted irreparable harm upon their country. It was beyond doubt this early intimacy with Alcibiades and Critias that was the most powerful factor in the trial and condemnation of Socrates. The orator Aeschines expressly says that the Athenians put Socrates to death because he had taught Critias, one of the Thirty who had overthrown the constitution.82 Mingled with this motive, there was also, no doubt, a feeling of apprehension for the future. What had happened already might happen again; for Socrates' power over the young was in no way diminished, and he still continued to practise the “art of words.” Thus it is little wonder that in the strong republican reaction that had now set in, Socrates should have been regarded by some as a source of danger to the state; and in point of fact, the most dangerous of his three accusers was Anytus, a prominent politician of the day, one of those who had co-operated with Thrasybulus in the re-establishment of the democracy.

But if the immediate cause of Socrates' condemnation was political, the issues involved were infinitely greater. On the day when Socrates was tried, two ideals of life, two conceptions of religion, stood forth as rivals for the allegiance of mankind. The one was the old Hellenic conception of the city-state, strong in its self-centred exclusiveness and isolation, strong in its narrow patriotism and devotion to the Gods of one particular nationality: the other was humanism and the worship of a God who knows no distinction between bond and free, barbarian and Greek, but exercises his providential care over the whole human race. The old ideal had already been undermined by the teaching of Euripides and the Sophists; the future was clearly with the new. It was long before the new ideal triumphed: perhaps, nay certainly, it has not achieved its final triumph even now: but the death of Socrates, so far from impeding its progress, gave it fresh life and vigour. In the Apology, Socrates warns the Athenians that others would arise to carry on the work he had begun. “If by putting men to death you hope to prevent others from reproaching you because you do not live aright, you are mistaken. Such a way of escape is neither possible nor honourable: the easiest and the noblest way is not to coerce others, but to make yourselves as good as possible.”83 The prophecy was fulfilled in a far deeper sense than Socrates, if he used these words, could have anticipated. The ideal of which Socrates was the half-conscious prophet and the earliest martyr was never afterwards lost sight of by Greek thinkers. More than any other of the Greeks, Plato prepared the way for its partial realisation in Christianity: and without the life and death of Socrates, we should hardly have had the Republic and the Phaedo. It was something, too, that having taught his followers how to live, Socrates should have been permitted also to teach them how to die. “No one,” says Xenophon, “within the memory of man, it is admitted, ever bowed his head to death more nobly. After the sentence he must needs live for thirty days, since it was the month of the ‘Delia,’ and the law does not suffer any man to die by the hand of the public executioner until the sacred embassy return from Delos. During the whole of that period (as his acquaintances without exception can testify) his life proceeded as usual. There was nothing to mark a difference between now and formerly in the even tenour of its courage; and it was a life which at all times had been a marvel of cheerfulness and calm content.”84

  • 1.

    Varieties of Religious Experience p. 23 f.

  • 2.

    Schanz in his edition of Plato's Apology p. 104 ff.

  • 3.

    Phaedra. 242 B f.

  • 4.

    Ap. 31 D; Theaet. 151 A.

  • 5.

    Ap. 40 A-C.

  • 6.

    Rep. vi. 496 C.

  • 7.

    Mem. i. 1. 4.

  • 8.

    242 C.

  • 9.

    Quoted by Du Prel, l.c. p. 153

  • 10.

    See e.g. on the one hand Riddell, Apology of Plato p. 114, and on the other hand Myers, Human Personality ii. pp. 96, 103.

  • 11.

    Ap. 33 C, Crito 44 A, Phaed. 60 E; cf. Xen. Mem. iv. 3. 12 al.

  • 12.

    33 C.

  • 13.

    30 D ff.

  • 14.

    37 E

  • 15.

    28 E.

  • 16.

    See esp. Phaed. 84 E ff.

  • 17.

    Xen. Mem. i. 3. 1; iv. 3. 16.

  • 18.

    xxxviii. 48. 2.

  • 19.

    30 A f.

  • 20.

    Mark viii. 36.

  • 21.

    Cf. Phaed. 89 A, ὡς ϵὐ̑ ϵὐ̑ ἡμα̑ς ἰάσατο.

  • 22.

    Cicero, Tusc. Disp. iv. 80.

  • 23.

    Mem. iv. 8. 11; i. 5. 6, tr. Dakyns.

  • 24.

    Eth. Nic. vii. 3. 1145b 25 f.

  • 25.

    Mem. iv. 7. 8 Dakyns.

  • 26.

    Mem>. l.c. § 3.

  • 27.

    Task iii.

  • 28.

    Eth. Nic. vii. 3. 1145b f.

  • 29.

    Laws 944 D.

  • 30.

    Rep. iii. 409 E ff.; Gorg. 478 D al.

  • 31.

    Rom. vii. 19 f.

  • 32.

    Rep. vi. 501 A.

  • 33.

    33 C.

  • 34.

    iv. 2. 23.

  • 35.

    Symp. 215 D ff. Jowett.

  • 36.

    Xen. Mem. i. 1. 13 ff.

  • 37.

    Mem. i. 1. 8 f. Dakyns.

  • 38.

    Mem. i. 1. 9.

  • 39.

    Mem. i. 1. 7 Dakyns.

  • 40.

    Mem. i. 1. 9.

  • 41.

    Met. M 4. 1078b 27 f.

  • 42.

    Plato, Crito 46 B.

  • 43.

    491 A. Cf. Xen. Mem. i. 2. 37.

  • 44.

    Symp. 221 E f. Jowett.

  • 45.

    149 A ff.

  • 46.

    iv. 2. 24.

  • 47.

    New Sayings of Jesus, etc. (1904) p. 15.

  • 48.

    ϵ̔ ̔σου̑ γϵ΄νος ϵ̕μϵ΄ν, Hymn of Cleanthes 4. For Plato, see p. 356, and cf. Alc. 133 B ff.

  • 49.

    Mem. iv. 2. 26. Here as often in Greek literature, ϵὐ̑ πράττϵιν combines the two ideas of right or virtuous action and happiness. Cf. Plato, Charm. 173 D, and Arist. Eth. Nic. i. 8. 1098 b 20 f.

  • 50.

    220 A.; cf. 223 C.

  • 51.

    Plato, Ap. 32 Bf.; Crito 50 B.

  • 52.

    335 A ff.

  • 53.

    472 B.

  • 54.

    49 C.

  • 55.

    Mem. i. 2. 63 Dakyns.

  • 56.

    41 D.

  • 57.

    Plato ii. p. 191.

  • 58.

    iv. 3. 14; cf. i. 4. 8.

  • 59.

    viii. 7. 19 ff.

  • 60.

    Phaed. 66 A-67 E, 79 B f.; cf. Rep. ix. 572 A, x. 611 E.

  • 61.

    Cyr. viii. 7. 27.

  • 62.

    Ap. 40 C ff.

  • 63.

    Apol. 41 D. Cf. Rom. viii. 28.

  • 64.

    See, for example, Joël's learned and exhaustive treatise, Der echte und der Xenophontische Sokrates, 1893-1901.

  • 65.

    Mem. i. 4. 7.

  • 66.

    Mem. i. 4. 8.

  • 67.

    Mem. i. 4. and iv. 3.

  • 68.

    iii. 108.

  • 69.

    Suppl. 201f. Way.

  • 70.

    esp. § 73 ff.

  • 71.

    14 E. A scholiast on this passage cities the paralle, “Every good gift and every perfect boon is from above² (St. James i. 17.)

  • 72.

    Mem. i. 4. 10.

  • 73.

    Mem. i. 3. 1.

  • 74.

    Mem. i. 3. 1. Cf. Plato, Phaed. 118 A, and Rep. i. 327 A.

  • 75.

    Mem. iv. 4. 19 ff. See p. 165 ff.

  • 76.

    Mem. i. 3. 3 Dakyns. Hes. O.D. 336. Cf. Eur. fr. 946, “He who with pious heart doth sacrifice, Small though the offering be, salvation wins.”

  • 77.

    Mem. i. 3. 2.

  • 78.

    AlC. ii. 143 A.

  • 79.

    Mem. iv. 8. 11 Dakyns.

  • 80.

    22 E f.

  • 81.

    Apol. 17 D.

  • 82.

    in Tim. 173.

  • 83.

    39 D.

  • 84.

    Mem. iv. 8. 2 Dakyns.