Plato: "Phaedo" 

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" Phaedo"







































































































































































































































written cir. 360 BC?

translated by Benjamin Jowett, modernized by Dr. G



SETTING: Phlius, a town distant from Athens in the
Peloponnesus peninsula of southern Greece. 

[57a] Echecrates. Were you there in the prison with Socrates on the day when he drank the poison, Phaedo? 

Phaedo. Yes, Echecrates, I was. 

Ech. I wish that you would tell me about his death. What did he say in his last hours? We heard that he died by taking poison, but nobody knew anything more, [b] for no Phliasian ever goes to Athens now, and it has been a long time since any Athenians found their way here. 

[58a] Phaed. Did you hear about the trial? 

Ech. Yes, we heard about that, but why wasn't he put to death immediately? Why was he held in jail for such a long time after his trial?

Phaed. A coincidence, Echecrates. The festival ship that the Athenians send to Delos happened to sail on the day before he was tried. . .

Ech. What ship? 

Phaed. The ship in which, the Athenians say, Theseus went to Crete with the seven young couples, when he saved both them and himself. [b] It's said that they vowed to Apollo at the time, that if they were saved, they would make an annual pilgrimage to Delos in honor of the god. This custom still continues, and the whole time during the voyage to and from Delos, beginning when the priest of Apollo crowns the stern of the ship with garlands, is a holy season, and public executions are not allowed to pollute the city. [c] The ship was crowned on the day before Socrates' trial, as I was saying, but it was delayed on its return by adverse winds. So Socrates lay in prison and was not put to death until long after he was condemned. 

Ech. How did he die, Phaedo? What was said or done? And what friends were there with him? Or were visitors not allowed? Did he die alone? 

[d]  Phaed. No, several, quite a few of his friends were there with him. 

Ech. If you're not too busy, I wish that you would tell me what happened, as exactly as you can. 

Phaed. I am not too busy. I like nothing better than to remember Socrates, whether I speak myself or hear someone else speak of him.

Ech. I am of the same mind as you; I hope that you will give a full account in telling your story. 

Phaed. I remember the strange feeling that came over me when I was there with him. [e] I could hardly believe that I was present at the death of a friend, and yet I did not pity him, Echecrates, for his actions and his words were so noble and fearless in the hour of death that he seemed to me to be blessed. [59a] I thought that in going to the other world he must have heard a divine call, and that he would be happy, if anyone ever was, when he arrived there, so I did not pity him. Yet I could not take any pleasure in our philosophical discussion on that day, either, because I was pained that he was so soon to die. This strange mixture of feeling was shared by all of us. We were laughing and weeping in turns, and especially the excitable Apollodorus--you know the sort of person he is? 

[b]  Ech. Yes. 

Phaed. He was completely overcome, and I myself and all of us were greatly moved. 

Ech. Who were present? 

Phaed. Of native Athenians there were, besides Apollodorus, Critobulus and his father Crito, Hermogenes, Epigenes, Aeschines, and Antisthenes; likewise Ctesippus of Paeania, Menexenus, and some others; but Plato, I think, was ill.

Ech. Were there any foreigners? 

[c]  Phaed. Yes, there were; Simmias the Theban, and Cebes, and Phaedondes; Euclid and Terpison, who came from Megara. 

Ech. And was Aristippus there, and Cleombrotus? 

Phaed. No, they were said to be in Aegina. 

Ech. Anyone else? 

Phaed. I don't think so. 

Ech. And what did you talk about? 

Phaed. I will begin at the beginning, and try to repeat the whole  conversation for you. [d] Usually we assembled early in the morning at the court where the trial was held, not far from the prison, and we waited there for the prison to open. (The doors were not opened very early.) Then we would go in and pass the day with Socrates. [e] But on the last morning, we met earlier than usual because we had heard that the sacred ship had arrived from Delos. When we arrived at the prison, the jailer would not let us in but told us to wait until he called us. "For the Eleven," he said, "are now with Socrates; they are taking off his chains, and giving orders that he is to die today." 

When the jailer finally let us in, [60a] we found Socrates newly released from his chains, and there was Xanthippe, whom you know, sitting by him, and holding his child in her arms. When she saw us she cried and lamented, as women will: "O Socrates, this is the last time that you will talk with your friends, or they will talk with you." 

Socrates turned to Crito and said: "Crito, let someone take her home." Some of Crito's people then led her away, wailing and striking herself.

[b]  When she was gone, Socrates sat up on the couch and began to bend and rub his leg, saying: "How unique is the thing that we call pleasure, and how strangely related to pain. We might think that the two are opposites, for they never happen together, and yet anybody who pursues either of them generally receives both. They are two, but they apparently grow from the same stem. [c] I can't help thinking that if Aesop had written about them, he would have told how God tried to reconcile their conflict, but when he failed at that, he fastened them together, and that's why when one comes the other follows. I find it in my own case, with the removal of the chains, pleasure follows after the pain in my leg." 

Cebes responded: Socrates, now that you mentioned the name of Aesop, it reminds me of a question that I was asked only the day before yesterday by Evenus the poet. I'm sure that he will ask me again, so maybe you will tell me what to say to him, if you would like him to have an answer. He wanted to know why you, who never before wrote a line of poetry, [d] now that you are in prison are putting Aesop into verse, and writing a hymn in honor of Apollo.

Tell him, Cebes, he replied, that I had no idea of rivaling him or his poems. I know I can't do that. But I wanted to see whether I could clear away an uncertainty that I felt about certain dreams. [e] During my life I often have had directions in dreams that I should practice the arts. The same dream came to me sometimes in one form, and sometimes in another, but always saying the same or nearly the same words: "Socrates, study and practice the arts." I used to imagine [61a] that this dream meant to encourage me to study philosophy, as it is the noblest and best of the arts. The dream seemed to bid me to do what I was already doing in my life long pursuit of philosophy--in much the same way that a competitor in a race may be cheered on by the spectators to run when he is already running. 

But then after my trial, when the god of the festival delayed my execution, I wasn't sure. The dream may have meant "arts" in the popular sense of the word, [b] and so I thought that I'd be safer and more peaceful in my mind if, before I departed, I composed a few verses in obedience to the dream. First I made a hymn in honor of the god of the festival . Then, because a poet, a poet who's really a maker of things, must not only string words together but make stories, and since I am not a good story-teller, I borrowed some fables from Aesop, fables that I knew and had ready at hand, and I began turning them into poems. Tell Evenus this, and tell him to be of good cheer; that he should follow after me as soon as possible, if he's a wise man, and not delay; for today I am leaving, [c] as the Athenians say that I must.

Simmias said: What a message for such a man! I know him well, and I know that he will never take your advice unless he is forced to do it. 

Why, said Socrates. Isn't Evenus a philosopher? 

I think that he is, said Simmias. 

Then he will understand. Any person who has the spirit of philosophy is willing to die. I don't tell him to commit suicide, for that's believed to be wrong. [d] 

Socrates sat up, and put his legs off the couch on to the ground, and he remained sitting in that position during the rest of the conversation.

Cebes asked: why do you say that people ought not to take their own lives, but that philosophers should be willing to follow one who is dying?

Socrates replied: And have you, Cebes and Simmias, who are acquainted with Philolaus, never heard him speak of this? 

I'm not sure, Socrates. 

My words can be only an echo, and yet I am very willing to say what I have heard: and indeed, since I am going to another place, [c]  I ought to be thinking and examining stories about the nature of the journey that I am about to make. What can I do better in the time from now until the setting of the sun? 

But, Socrates, why do people say that suicide is wrong?  I heard Philolaus claim this, when he was staying with us at Thebes, and there are others who say the same thing, but I never heard anybody give any good reasons to believe it. 

[62a]  Socrates replied: do your best to listen, and the day may come when you will hear one. I suppose that you wonder why, when people are better off dead, they can't help themselves to death but must wait for someone else to help them. 

By Zeus! yes, indeed, laughed Cebes, lapsing into his native Doric

[b]  I admit that it seems illogical, replied Socrates, but maybe there is some logic in it. In the mysteries it's said that man is a prisoner who has no right to open the door of his prison and run away. This concept is difficult to understand. Yet I believe that the gods are our guardians, and that we are a possession of theirs. Do you agree, Cebes? 

Yes, I agree, said Cebes. 

And if one of your own possessions--an ox or an ass, for example--took the liberty of putting itself out of the way when you had given no hint of your wish that it should die, [c]  wouldn't you be angry and punish it if you could? 

Certainly, replied Cebes. 

Then maybe there's a reason not to kill oneself until a god summons, as I am being summoned by necessity now.

[d]  Yes, Socrates, said Cebes, that's logical. Yet, if a god is our guardian and we are the god's possessions, then why should a philosopher want to die, as you were saying? Why would the wisest of people want to leave the service of the god here on earth?  The gods are the best of caretakers, so how can people take better care of themselves than the wise gods take care of them here? Maybe a fool will think that he should run away from his master [e]  and forget his duty to remain to the end in the master's service, but any sensible person will see that there is no sense in running away. It's sensible to remain in the protection of one who is greater us. But this, Socrates, is the reverse of what you were saying just now--that wise people rejoice and fools sorrow at death. 

I thought that Cebes' argumentativeness pleased Socrates. [63a]  He turned to us and said: Cebes here is full of arguments, and is not willing to be persuaded by the first ideas that anyone puts to him. 

Simmias then joined in: I think that Cebes has made a good case. For why should truly wise people want to run away and leave the protection of caretakers who are better than themselves? And I suspect that Cebes is referring to you, Socrates. He thinks that you are too ready to leave us, and too ready to leave the gods who, as you acknowledge, are our good caretakers. 

[b]  Yes, replied Socrates; this appears to be the indictment that he brings against me. Shall I answer his complaint as if I were in court

You should, said Simmias. 

All right, then I'll have to make a better impression upon you than I did when I defended myself before the judges. Simmias and Cebes, I would object to death, except that I believe that I am going to other gods who are wise and good. Of this I am as certain as I can be of anything of the sort. And perhaps I am going to be with people departed who are better than those whom I leave behind. So I do not sorrow, [c]  for I have good hope that there is yet something remaining for the dead, and, as has been said of old, some far better thing for good people than for evil ones. 

Simmias asked: But do you mean to take away your thoughts with you, Socrates? [d]  Won't you tell us what you're thinking about the life to come? We might benefit if you shared your ideas. If you can convince us, it will be an answer to all of the charges against you. 

I can try, replied Socrates. But first, did you have something to say to me, Crito? 

Only this, Socrates, replied Crito: the attendant who is to give you the poison has been telling me that you should not to talk very much, and he wants me to let you know this. Talking increases your temperature, and the heat interferes with the action of the poison. [e]  Those who excite themselves are sometimes forced to drink the poison two or three times. 

Then, said Socrates, let him mind his business and be prepared to give the poison two or three times, if necessary. 

I thought that you'd say that, replied Crito, but he keeps bothering me to warn you. 

Never mind him, he said. And now I'll make answer to you, O my judges, and show that he who has lived as a true philosopher has reason to be of good cheer when he is about to die, and that after death he may hope to receive the greatest good in the world beyond. [64a]  And how this may be, Simmias and Cebes, I will try to explain. The true disciple of philosophy is likely to be misunderstood by other people. They don't know that the philosopher is always pursuing death and dying. If this is true, if the philosopher has the desire of death for a whole lifetime, why should he sorrow when the time arrives that he has desired? 

Simmias laughed and said: I'm sorry, but I can't help laughing when I think what the immoral majority will say when they hear this. [b]  They will say that the life which philosophers desire is really death, and that they deserve the death which they desire. 

And they are partly right about the philosopher's desires, Simmias, but they don't know the nature of the death that philosophers desire, or how they desire or deserve it. [c]  But let's leave them and talk among ourselves. Do we believe there is such a thing as death? 

To be sure, replied Simmias. 

And isn't it the separation of soul and body? Haven't the dead attained this separation, when the soul exists in herself without the body, and the body exists in itself without the soul? Isn't this death? 

Exactly that and nothing else, he replied. 

And how do you answer another question, my friend, to enlighten us in our present investigation? [d]  Do you think that the philosopher ought to care about the pleasures--if they can be called pleasures--of eating and drinking

Certainly not, answered Simmias. 

And what do you say of sex--should he care about it? 

By no means. 

And will he spend his days thinking about other ways to indulge the body--for example, shopping for costly clothes, or sandals, or other excessive or unnecessary adornments of the body? Instead of caring about these things, doesn't he despise them? What do you say? [e]  

I say that the true philosopher despises them. 

Wouldn't you say that he is entirely concerned with the soul and not with the body? He would like, as far as he can, to be quit of the body and turn to the soul. 

That is true. [65a]  

In matters of this sort philosophers, above all other people, may be observed in every sort of way to dissever the soul from the body.

That is true. 

But, Simmias, the rest of the world believes that a life without bodily pleasures is hardly worth living; and a person who thinks nothing of bodily pleasures might as well be dead. 

That is quite true. 

What again shall we say of the actual acquisition of knowledge? Is the body, if invited to share in the inquiry, a hinderer or a helper? [b]  I mean to say, do sight and hearing have any truth in them? Are they not, as the poets are always telling us, inaccurate witnesses? and yet, if even they are inaccurate and indistinct, what is to be said of the other senses?--for you will allow that they are the best of them? 

Certainly, he replied. 

Then how can the soul grasp the truth?--for in attempting to consider anything in company with the body she is always deceived. 

[c]  Yes, that is true. 

Then if truth is to be revealed to her at all, isn't it revealed only in thought? 


And thought is best when the soul is gathered into herself and no external things trouble her--neither sounds nor sights nor pain nor any bodily pleasure--when she has as little as possible to do with the physical senses, and has no bodily sense or feeling, but is aspiring solely after truth

That is true. 

[d]  And in this the philosopher dishonors the body: his soul runs away from the body and desires to be alone and by herself? 

That is true. 

Well, but there is another thing, Simmias. Do we ever say the word "justice"? 

We do, by Zeus! 

And "beauty" and "good"? 

Of course. 

But did you ever see any of these with your eyes? 

No, never. 

Or did you ever perceive them with any of your body's senses? I mean, not only these words but many others, such as greatness, health, strength, and all other words for the essence or true nature of everything. [e]  Have you every perceived any of these through any of your bodily senses? Don't we come closest to knowledge when we prepare ourselves to grasp it most accurately? 


The person who would grasp knowledge most perfectly must approach the subject with thought alone, [66a]  without contaminating thought with sight, or dragging any other sense perceptions into it. Such a person must use pure thought to find pure reality, by getting rid of eyes and ears and other physical senses, as much as possible, which disturb and hinder the soul from acquiring true knowledge. If anyone can grasp the truth, Simmias, will it not be someone who believes this? 

What you say is very true, Simmias answered. 

[b]  And when true philosophers consider this, they will tell each other: we will not be satisfied as long as we are in the body, and our souls are entangled in this mass of evil, so that as long as we live we can't ever know the truth. For the body is a source of endless distractions because it requires food, [c]  and it is prone to diseases that impede us in our search for truth. It fills us full of wants and desires, fears, and fantasies, and every sort of illusion, and so it prevents our ever having, as people say, so much as a thought. Why are there wars, fighting, and factions? Because of the body and the lusts of the body. For wars are waged for the love of money, and money has to be acquired for the sake and in the service of the body; [d]  and in consequence of all these things the time which ought to be given to philosophy is lost. And even worse, when we do have time for philosophy and try to practice it, the body brings us confusion and fear, so that we are prevented from seeing the truth.

All experience shows that if we would gain pure knowledge of anything we must be quit of the body, [e]   so that the soul can know how things really are. Only then--when the body is dead--will we find what we desire and love, and that is wisdom. For while it is in company with the body the soul cannot have pure knowledge. If knowledge is to be attained at all, it can be only after death. [67a]  For then, and not till then, the soul will be by herself alone and without the body. In this present life, I reckon that we make the nearest approach to knowledge when we have the least possible concern or interest in the body, and are not saturated with the bodily nature, but remain pure until the hour when the god is pleased to release us. And then the foolishness of the body will be cleared away and we shall be pure and hold conversation with other pure souls, and know of ourselves the clear light everywhere; and this is surely the light of truth. [b]  For no impure thing can be purified by approaching the pure. These are the sort of words, Simmias, which the true lovers of wisdom cannot help saying to one another, and thinking. You will agree with me in that? 

Certainly, Socrates. 

But if this is true, my friend, then there is good hope that, going where I am going, I will acquire that which has been our chief concern in life. [c]   And now that the hour of departure is appointed to me, this is the hope with which I depart, and not I only, but all people who believe that they have prepared their minds and purified their thoughts.

True, said Simmias. 

And what is purification but the separation of the soul from the body, as I was saying before; the habit of the soul gathering and collecting herself into herself, out of all the courses of the body; the dwelling in her own place alone, [d]  as in another life, so also in this, as far as she can--the release of the soul from the chains of the body

Very true, he said. 

And what we call death is only this separation and release of the soul from the body? 

That is sure, he said. 

And the true philosophers, and they only, are eager to release the soul. They are preoccupied with this separation and release of the soul from the body, are they not? 

Yes, so it seems. 

And so, as I was saying at first, it would be absurd for people who study how to live as nearly as possible to the state of death, if they objected to the approach of death. [e]    


Then, Simmias, since true philosophers study death as closely as possible, to them, of all people, death is the least terrible. They have been enemies of the body, and hopeful of living with the soul alone, so when this state is granted to them, they do not tremble or sorrow but; instead, rejoice. [68a]  In their departure, they hope to gain that which in life they loved (and this was wisdom), and at the same time to be rid of the company of their enemy. 

Many people have been willing to go to the world below in the hope of seeing there once again an earthly love, or wife, or son who died. And will a true lover of wisdom, then, not hold out a similar hope, knowing that wisdom is not to be be found anywhere except in Hades?  [b]  Such a person, a true philosopher, will not stew about death but will depart with joy and a firm conviction that in death, and nowhere else, will pure wisdom be found. And if this be true, it's absurd to fear death.

So it is, by Zeus! replied Simmias. 

And when you see a man who sorrows at the approach of death, you know that he is not a lover of wisdom, but a lover of the body, [c]  and probably at the same time a lover of either money or power, or both. 

That is very true, he replied. 

Simmias, the virtue that we call courage belongs to true philosophers. 

Indeed, it does. 

They have another virtue, too, that even the immoral majority admires, namely temperance. [d]  The control and moderation of the passions is a quality that belongs chiefly to those who despise the body and live as philosophers. 

That is not to be denied. 

The courage and temperance of other people, who are not philosophers, are contradictions. 

How is that, Socrates? 

Well, he said, you are aware that death is regarded by people in general as a great evil. 

That is true, he said. 

And don't these courageous individuals endure death because they are afraid of yet greater evils? 

That is true. 

Then they are courageous only from fear. To be courageous from fear, or because of cowardice, is surely a strange thing. 

[e]  Very true. 

And what about their temperance? They are temperate because they are intemperate-an obvious contradiction, but nevertheless true. [69a]  For there are pleasures that they must have, and are afraid of losing; and therefore they abstain from one class of pleasures because they indulge in another class. They overcome in some areas only because they are overcome in others. That is what I mean by saying that they are temperate through intemperance. 

That seems probable. 

Yet the exchange of one fear or pleasure or pain for another fear or pleasure or pain, is not real virtue. Good Simmias, the only true coin for which all things ought to be exchanged is wisdom. [b]  For only with wisdom do we have real courage or temperance or justice. All virtues are the companion of wisdom, no matter what fears or pleasures may be present or absent. A virtue without wisdom is not really a virtue at all but only an illusion or appearance of virtue. It is unsound and false, fit only for slaves. Only wisdom purges away these evils so that real virtues can exist. [c]  I believe that the founders of the mysteries understood the truth of these matters long ago when they said that whoever passes unsanctified and uninitiated into the world below will wallow in the dirt, but whoever arrives there after initiation and purification will dwell with the gods. For as they say in the mysteries, "Many are the thyrsus bearers, but few are the mystics." [d]   Mystics meaning, as I interpret these words, the true philosophers. In my life I have done all that I could to be counted in their number. Whether I have succeeded or not, I will know for certain in a little while, god willing, when I arrive in the other world. 

And now, Simmias and Cebes, this is my defense. [e]   I have answered those who charge me with not grieving at parting from you and my masters in this world. I believe that I will find good masters and good friends in the world below. I hope that I have convinced you more fully that I persuaded the Athenian jury. 

Cebes answered: I agree with you, Socrates, in most of what you say. [70a]  But as for the soul, many people think that when she leaves the body her place may be nowhere, and that on the very day of death she is destroyed or perishes immediately upon her release from the body--like smoke or air and vanishing away into nothingness. If she could hold together and still be herself after she was released from the evils of the body, there would be good reason to hope that what you say is true, Socrates. [b]  But strong persuasion and faith are required for belief that the soul exists after death and has intelligence. 

All that you say is true, Cebes, said Socrates. Shall we discuss the likelihood of these things? 

I would like to know your opinions, said Cebes.. 

Well, said Socrates, no one who hears me now, not even my old enemy, the comic poet, can accuse me of idle talking about matters in which I have no concern. [c] Come on, then, let's get started with the inquiry. Whether the souls of the dead are or are not in the world below is a question that may be argued in this way: The ancient belief of which I have been speaking affirms that they go from this into the other world, and return hither, and are born from the dead. Now if this is true, and the living come from the dead, then our souls must be in the other world, for if not, how could they be born again? [d]  And this would be conclusive, if there were any real evidence that the living are only born from the dead; but if there is no evidence of this, then we will need to find other arguments. 

That is very true, replied Cebes. 

Then let us consider this question, not in relation to humans only, but in relation to animals generally, and to plants, and to everything of which there is generation, and the proof will be easier.  [e]  Are not all things which have opposites generated out of their opposites? I mean such things as good and evil, just and unjust--and there are innumerable other opposites which are generated out of opposites. And I want to show that this holds universally of all opposites; I mean, for example, that anything which becomes greater must become greater after being less. 


And that which becomes less must have been once greater and then become less.  [71a]  


And the weaker is generated from the stronger, and the swifter from the slower. 

Very true. 

And the worse is from the better, and the more just is from the more unjust. 

Of course. 

And is this true of all opposites? and are we convinced that all of them are generated out of opposites? 


 [b]  And in this universal opposition of all things, are there not also two intermediate processes which are ever going on, from one to the other, and back again; where there is a greater and a less there is also an intermediate process of increase and diminution, and that which grows is said to wax, and that which decays to wane? 

Yes, he said. 

And there are many other processes, such as division and multiplication, cooling and heating, which equally involve a passage into and out of one another. And this holds of all opposites, even though not always expressed in words--they are generated out of one another, and there is a passing or process from one to the other of them? 

Very true, he replied. 

 [c]  Well, and is there not an opposite of life, as sleep is the opposite of waking? 

True, he said. 

And what is that? 

Death, he answered. 

And these, then, are generated, if they are opposites, the one from the other, and have there their two intermediate processes also? 

Of course. 

Now, said Socrates, I will analyze one of the two pairs of opposites which I have mentioned to you, and also its intermediate processes, and you shall analyze the other to me.  [d]  The state of sleep is opposed to the state of waking, and out of sleeping waking is generated, and out of waking, sleeping, and the process of generation is in the one case falling asleep, and in the other waking up. Are you agreed about that?

Quite agreed. 

Then suppose that you analyze life and death to me in the same manner.

Is not death opposed to life? 


And they are generated one from the other? 


What is generated from life? 


And what from death? 

I can only say in answer--life. Then the living, whether things or persons, Cebes, are generated from the dead? 

That is clear, he replied. 

Then the inference is, that our souls are in the world below? 

 [e]  It appears so. 

And one of the two processes or generations is visible--for surely the act of dying is visible? 

Surely, he said. 

And may not the other be inferred as the complement of nature, who is not to be supposed to go on one leg only? And if not, a corresponding process of generation in death must also be assigned to her? 

Certainly, he replied. 

And what is that process? 


 [72a]  And revival, if there is such a thing, must be the birth of the dead into the world of the living? 

Quite true. 

Then there is a new way in which we arrive at the inference that the living come from the dead, just as the dead come from the living; and if this is true, then the souls of the dead must be in some place out of which they come again. And this, as I think, has been satisfactorily proved. 

Yes, Socrates, he said; all this seems to flow necessarily out of our previous admissions. 

And that these admissions are not unfair, Cebes, he said, may be shown, as I think, in this way:  [b]  If generation were in a straight line only, and there were no compensation or circle in nature, no turn or return into one another, then you know that all things would at last have the same form and pass into the same state, and there would be no more generation of them. 

What do you mean? he said. 

A simple thing enough, which I will illustrate by the case of sleep, he replied. You know that if there were no compensation of sleeping and waking,  [c]  the story of the sleeping Endymion would in the end have no meaning, because all other things would be asleep, too, and he would not be thought of. Or if there were composition only, and no division of substances, then the chaos of Anaxagoras would come again. And in like manner, my dear Cebes, if all things which partook of life were to die,  [d]  and after they were dead remained in the form of death, and did not come to life again, all would at last die, and nothing would be alive--how could this be otherwise? For if the living spring from any others who are not the dead, and they die, must not all things at last be swallowed up in death? 

There is no escape from that, Socrates, said Cebes; and I think that what you say is entirely true. 

Yes, he said, Cebes, I entirely think so, too. We are not walking in a vain imagination, but I am confident in the belief that there truly is such a thing as living again, and that the living spring from the dead,  [e]  and that the souls of the dead are in existence, and that the good souls have a better portion than the evil. 

Cebes added: Your favorite doctrine, Socrates, that knowledge is simply recollection, if true, also necessarily implies a previous time in which we learned that which we now recollect.  [73a]  But this would be impossible unless our soul was in some place before existing in the human form; here, then, is another argument of the soul's immortality.

But tell me, Cebes, Simmias interrupted, what proofs are given of this doctrine of recollection? I don't think that I remember them. 

Cebes answered, one excellent proof can come from questioning. If you put questions to people in a right way, they will give true answers even though they have not been taught the answers. How is this possible unless there knowledge and right reason already were in them?  [b]  This proof can be most clearly shown when he is taken to a diagram or to anything of that sort. 

But if, said Socrates, you still don't believe, Simmias, let's look at the matter in another way and prove that knowledge is recollection. 

I believe, said Simmias; but I'd like to have this doctrine of recollection brought to my own recollection, and, from what Cebes has said, I am beginning to recollect and be convinced of it, but still I'd like to hear what more you have to say. 

This is what I would say, he replied: We should agree, if I am not mistaken, that what people recollect they must have known at some previous time.  [c]  


And what is the nature of this recollection? When people already have seen or heard or in any way perceived anything, and so they know not only that, but other things of the same kind, they recollect that which comes into their minds. Are we agreed about that? 

 [d]  What do you mean? 

I mean what I may illustrate by the following instance: The knowledge of a lyre is not the same as the knowledge of a young man? 


And yet what is the feeling of lovers when they recognize a lyre, or a garment, or anything else which the beloved has been in the habit of using? Do not they, from knowing the lyre, form in the mind's eye an image of the lover to whom the lyre belongs? And this is recollection: and in the same way anyone who sees Simmias may remember Cebes; and there are endless other things of the same nature. 

Yes, indeed, there are--endless, replied Simmias. 

And this sort of thing, he said, is recollection, and is most commonly a process of recovering that which has been forgotten through time and inattention.  [e]  

Very true. 

Well; and may you not also from seeing the picture of a horse or a lyre remember a man? and from the picture of Simmias, you may be led to remember Cebes? 


Or you may also be led to the recollection of Simmias himself? 

True, he said. 

 [74a]  And in all these cases, the recollection may be derived from things either like or unlike? 

That is true. 

And when the recollection is derived from like things, then there is sure to be another question, which is, whether the likeness of that which is recollected is in any way defective or not. 

Very true, he said. 

And shall we proceed a step further, and say that there is such a thing as equality, not of stick with stick, or of stone with stone, but that, over and above this, there is equality in the abstract? Shall we agree on this? 

 [b]  Agree, yes, and swear to it, replied Simmias, with all the confidence in life. 

And do we know the nature of this abstract essence? 

To be sure, he said. 

And whence did we obtain this knowledge? Did we not see equalities of material things, such as pieces of wood and stones, and gather from them the idea of an equality which is different from them?--you will admit that? Or look at the matter again in this way: Do not the same pieces of wood or stone appear at one time equal, and at another time unequal? 

That is certain. 

 [c]  But are real equals ever unequal? or is the idea of equality ever inequality? 

That surely was never yet known, Socrates. 

Then these (so-called) equals are not the same with the idea of equality? 

I should say, clearly not, Socrates. 

And yet from these equals, although differing from the idea of equality, you conceived and attained that idea? 

Very true, he said. 

Which might be like, or might be unlike them? 


But that makes no difference; whenever from seeing one thing you conceived another, whether like or unlike, there must surely have been an act of recollection?  [d]  

Very true. 

But what would you say of equal portions of wood and stone, or other material equals? and what is the impression produced by them? Are they equals in the same sense as absolute equality? or do they fall short of this in a measure? 

Yes, he said, in a very great measure, too. 

And when I or anyone look at any object, and perceive that the object aims at being some other thing, but falls short of, and cannot attain to it [e]  ---then whoever makes this observation must have had previous knowledge of that to which, as he says, the other, although similar, was inferior? 


And has not this been our case in the matter of equals and of absolute equality? 


 [75a]  Then we must have known absolute equality previously to the time when we first saw the material equals, and reflected that all these apparent equals aim at this absolute equality, but fall short of it? 

That is true. 

And we recognize also that this absolute equality has only been known, and can only be known, through the medium of sight or touch, or of some other sense. And this I would affirm of all such conceptions. 

Yes, Socrates, as far as the argument is concerned, one of them is the same as the other. And from the senses, then, is derived the knowledge that all sensible things aim at an idea of equality of which they fall short--is not that true? 


 [b]  Then before we began to see or hear or perceive in any way, we must have had a knowledge of absolute equality, or we could not have referred to that the equals which are derived from the senses-for to that they all aspire, and of that they fall short? 

That, Socrates, is certainly to be inferred from the previous statements.

And did we not see and hear and acquire our other senses as soon as we were born? 


 [c]  Then we must have acquired the knowledge of the ideal equal at some time before this? 


That is to say, before we were born, I suppose? 


And if we acquired this knowledge before we were born, and were born having it, then we also knew before we were born and at the instant of birth not only equal or the greater or the less, but all other ideas; for we are not speaking only of equality absolute, but of beauty, goodness, justice, holiness, and all which we classify as essences  [d]  when we ask and answer questions. Of all this we may certainly conclude that we acquired the knowledge before birth? 

That is true. 

But if, after having acquired, we have not forgotten that which we acquired, then we must always have been born with knowledge, and shall always continue to know as long as life lasts. For knowing is the acquiring and retaining knowledge, the opposite of forgetting. Is not forgetting, Simmias, just the losing of knowledge? 

 [e]  Quite true, Socrates. 

But if the knowledge which we acquired before birth was lost by us at birth, and afterwards by the use of the senses we recovered that which we previously knew, will not that which we call learning be a process of recovering our knowledge, and may not this be rightly termed recollection by us? 

Very true. 

 [76a]  For this is clear, that when we perceived something, either by sight or hearing or some other sense, there was no difficulty in receiving from this a thought of some other thing like or unlike which had been forgotten and which was associated with this. So, as I was saying, one of two alternatives follows: either we had this knowledge at birth, and continued to know through life, or else after birth we remember it. We call this remembering "learning," but learning is only recollection. 

Yes, that is quite true, Socrates. 

And which alternative, Simmias, do you prefer? Had we the knowledge at our birth,  [b]  or did we remember afterwards the things which we knew previously to our birth? 

I don't know, I can't decide... 

At any rate you can decide whether he who has knowledge ought or ought not to be able to give a reason for what he knows. 


But do you think that every person can give a reason about these very matters of which we are speaking? 

I wish that they could, Socrates, but I greatly fear that tomorrow at this time there will be no one able to give a reason worth having. 

 [c]  Then you are not of opinion, Simmias, that all people know these things?

Certainly not. 

Then they are in process of recollecting that which they learned before.


But when did our souls acquire this knowledge? Not after we were born? 

Certainly not. 

And therefore previously? 


Then, Simmias, our souls must have existed before they were in the form of human beings--when they were without bodies but must have had intelligence. 

Unless indeed you suppose, Socrates, that these notions were given us at the moment of birth; for this is the only time that remains. 

Yes, my friend, but when did we lose them?  [d]  for they are not in us when we are born--that is admitted. Did we lose them at the moment of receiving them, or at some other time? 

No, Socrates, now I see that I was talking nonsense. 

Then may we not say, Simmias, that if, as we are always repeating, there is an absolute beauty, and goodness, and essence in general, and to this, which is now discovered to be a previous condition of our being, we refer all our sensations, and with this compare them--assuming this to have a prior existence, then our souls must have had a prior existence,  [e]  but if not, there would be no force in the argument? There can be no doubt that if these absolute ideas existed before we were born, then our souls must have existed before we were born, and if not the ideas, then not the souls. 

Yes, Socrates; I am convinced that there is precisely the same necessity for the existence of the soul before birth, and of the essence of which you are speaking:  [77a]  and the argument arrives at a result which happily agrees with my own notion. For there is nothing which to my mind is so evident as that beauty, goodness, and other notions of which you were just now speaking have a most real and absolute existence; and I am satisfied with the proof. 

Well, but is Cebes equally satisfied? for I must convince him too. 

I think, said Simmias, that Cebes is satisfied. He is the most doubting of mortals, yet I think that he believes in the existence of the soul before birth. [b]   But there's another problem. After death, will the soul will continue to exist? This has not yet been proven, even to my own satisfaction. I cannot get rid of the feeling of the many to which Cebes was referring--the feeling that when the man dies the soul may be scattered, and that this may be the end of her. For admitting that she may be generated and created in some other place, and may have existed before entering the human body, why after having entered in and gone out again may she not herself be destroyed and come to an end? 

Very true, Simmias, said Cebes; that our soul existed before we were born was the first half of the argument,  [c]  and this appears to have been proven; that the soul will exist after death as well as before birth is the other half of which the proof is still wanting, and has to be supplied.

But that proof, Simmias and Cebes, has been already given, said Socrates, if you put the two arguments together. I mean this and the former one, in which we admitted that everything living is born of the dead.  [d]  For if the soul existed before birth, and in coming to life and being born can be born only from death and dying, must she not after death continue to exist, since she has to be born again? Surely the proof which you desire has been already furnished. Still I suspect that you and Simmias would be glad to probe the argument further; like children, you are haunted with a fear that when the soul leaves the body, the wind may really blow her away and scatter her;  [e]   especially if a man should happen to die in stormy weather and not when the sky is calm. 

Cebes laughed and answered: then, Socrates, you must argue us out of our fears--and yet, strictly speaking, they are not our fears, but there is a child within us to whom death is a sort of hobgoblin; him too we must persuade not to be afraid when he is alone with him in the dark. 

 [78a]  Socrates said: Let the voice of the charmer be applied daily until you have charmed him away. 

And when you are gone, Socrates, where shall we find a good enchanter who knows the proper spells to drive away our fears? 

Hellas, he replied, is a big place, Cebes, and it has many good people, and there are other good people among the barbarians, too. Seek your magician among them all, far and wide, sparing neither pains nor money; for there is no better way to spend your time and money. And don't forget to look among yourselves, either, for nowhere is your teacher more likely to be found. 

 [b]  We'll search, replied Cebes. But please, if you will, let's go back to the argument, where we left it. 

Good, replied Socrates! Why not? 

Very good, he said. 

OK, said Socrates, shall we ask ourselves a question of this sort? What is that which, as we imagine, is liable to be lost, and about which we fear? and what again is that about which we have no fear? And then we may proceed to inquire whether that which can be lost is or is not of the nature of soul. Our hopes and fears as to our own souls will turn upon that. 

That is true, he said. 

 [c]  Now the compound or composite may be supposed to be naturally capable of being dissolved, just as it is naturally capable as of being compounded. But that which is uncompounded must be, if anything is, indissoluble. 

Yes, I imagine that is right, said Cebes. 

And the uncompounded may be assumed to be the same and unchanging, where the compound is always changing and never the same? 

That's right, too, I think. 

Then now let us return to the previous discussion, to the ideas or essences of existence.  [d]  Does the essence of equality, beauty, or anything else ever change. Are these essences subject at times to some degree of change? or are they, each of them, always what they are, having the same simple, self-existent and unchanging forms, and not admitting of variation at all, or in any way, or at any time? 

They must be always the same, Socrates, replied Cebes. 

And what would you say of the instances of the beautiful--whether men or horses or garments or any other things which may be called equal or beautiful-- [e]  are they all unchanging and the same always, or quite the reverse? May they not rather be described as almost always changing and hardly ever the same either with themselves or with one another? 

The latter, replied Cebes; they are always in a state of change. 

 [79a]  And these you can touch and see and perceive with the senses, but the unchanging things you can only perceive with the mind. They are invisible and are not seen? 

That is very true, he said. 

Well, then, he added, let's suppose that there are two sorts of existences, one seen, the other unseen. Let us suppose them. The seen is the changing, and the unseen is the unchanging. 

That may be also supposed. 

 [b]  And, further, is not one part of us body, and the rest of us soul? 

To be sure. 

And to which class may we say that the body is more alike and akin?

Clearly to the seen: no one can doubt that. 

And is the soul seen or not seen? 

It's not seen by mortals, Socrates. 

And by "seen" and "not seen" is meant by us that which is or is not visible to our eyes? 

Yes, to our eyes. 

And what do we say of the soul? is that seen or not seen? 

Not seen. 



 [c]  Then the soul is more like the unseen, and the body is more like the seen? 

Certainly, Socrates. 

And didn't say some time ago that the soul uses the body as an instrument of perception, that is to say, when it uses the sense of sight or hearing or some other sense? And didn't we say that the soul then was dragged down by the body into the region of the changeable, where it wanders and is confused? Doesn't the world spin around her, so that she is like a drunkard when under its influence? 

Very true. 

 [d]  But when returning into herself she reflects; then she passes into the realm of purity, and eternity, and immortality, and unchangeableness, which are her kindred, and with them she ever lives, when she is by herself and is not let or hindered; then she ceases from her erring ways, and being in communion with the unchanging is unchanging. And this state of the soul is called wisdom

That is well said, Socrates, he replied. 

And to which class is the soul more nearly alike and akin, as far as may be inferred from this argument, as well as from the preceding one? 

 [e]  I think, Socrates, that, in the opinion of everyone who follows the argument, the soul will be infinitely more like the unchangeable--even the most stupid person will not deny that. 

And the body is more like the changing? 


 [80a]  Yet once more consider the matter in this light: When the soul and the body are united, then nature orders the soul to rule and govern, and the body to obey and serve. Now which of these two functions is akin to the divine? and which to the mortal? Does not the divine appear to you to be that which naturally orders and rules, and the mortal that which is subject and servant? 


And which does the soul resemble? 

The soul resembles the divine and the body the mortal--there can be no doubt of that, Socrates. 

 [b]  Then reflect, Cebes: shouldn't we draw this conclusion--that the soul is in the very likeness of the divine, and immortal, and intelligible, and uniform, and indissoluble, and unchangeable; and the body is in the very likeness of the human, and mortal, and unintelligible, and multiform, and dissoluble, and changeable. Can this, my dear Cebes, be denied? 

No, indeed. 

But if this is true, then is not the body liable to speedy dissolution? and is not the soul almost or altogether indissoluble? 


 [c]  And do you further observe, that after a man is dead, the body, which is the visible part of man, and has a visible framework, which is called a corpse, and which would naturally be dissolved and decomposed and dissipated, is not dissolved or decomposed at once, but may remain for a good while, if the constitution be sound at the time of death, and the season of the year favorable? For the body when shrunk and embalmed, as is the custom in Egypt, may remain almost entire through infinite ages;  [d]  and even in decay, still there are some portions, such as the bones and ligaments, which are practically indestructible. You allow that? 


And are we to suppose that the soul, which is invisible, in passing to the true Hades, which like her is invisible, and pure, and noble, and on her way to the good and wise God, whither, if God will, my soul is also soon to go--that the soul, I repeat, if this be her nature and origin, is blown away and perishes immediately on quitting the body as the many say? That can never be, dear Simmias and Cebes.  [e]  The truth rather is that the soul which is pure at departing draws after her no bodily taint, having never voluntarily had connection with the body, which she is ever avoiding, herself gathered into herself (for such abstraction has been the study of her life). And what does this mean but that she has been a true disciple of philosophy and has practiced how to die easily?  [81a]  And is not philosophy the practice of death?


That soul, I say, herself invisible, departs to the invisible world to the divine and immortal and rational: thither arriving, she lives in bliss and is released from the error and folly of men, their fears and wild passions and all other human ills, and forever dwells, as they say of the initiated, in company with the gods. Is not this true, Cebes? 

Yes, said Cebes, beyond a doubt. 

 [b]  But some souls have been polluted, and are impure at the time of her departure; these have been the companions and servants of the body always, and they are in love with and fascinated by the body and by the desires and pleasures of the body. A soul in this condition is led to believe that the truth exists only in a bodily form, which may be touched and seen and tasted and used for the purposes of lust. This soul is accustomed to hate and fear and avoid the intellectual principle, which to the bodily eye is dark and invisible, and can be attained only by philosophy. Do you suppose that a soul of this kind will depart pure and unalloyed? 

 [c]  That is impossible, he replied. 

She is engrossed by the corporeal, which the continual association and constant care of the body have made natural to her. 

Very true. 

And this, my friend, may be conceived to be that heavy, weighty, earthy element of sight by which such a soul is depressed and dragged down again into the visible world, because she is afraid of the invisible and of the world below [d]  --prowling about tombs and sepulchres, in the neighborhood of which, as they tell us, are seen certain ghostly apparitions of souls which have not departed pure, but are cloyed with sight and therefore visible. 

That is very likely, Socrates. 

Yes, that is very likely, Cebes; and these must be the souls, not of the good, but of the evil, who are compelled to wander about such places in payment of the penalty of their former evil way of life; [e] and they continue to wander until the desire which haunts them is satisfied and they are imprisoned in another body. And they may be supposed to be fixed in the same natures which they had in their former life. 

What natures do you mean, Socrates? 

I mean to say that people who have followed after gluttony, and wantonness, and drunkenness, and have had no thought of avoiding them, would pass into asses and beasts of that sort.  [82a]  What do you think? 

I think that exceedingly probable. 

And those who have chosen the portion of injustice, and tyranny, and violence, will pass into wolves, or into hawks and kites; whither else can we suppose them to go? 

Yes, said Cebes; that is doubtless the place of natures such as theirs.

And there is no difficulty, he said, in assigning to all of them places answering to their several natures and propensities? 

There is not, he said. 

Even among them some are happier than others; and the happiest both in themselves and their place of abode  [b]  are those who have practiced the civil and social virtues which are called temperance and justice, and are acquired by habit and attention without philosophy and mind. 

Why are they the happiest? 

Because they may be expected to pass into some gentle, social nature which is like their own, such as that of bees or ants, or even back again into the form of man, and just and moderate men spring from them. 

That is not impossible. 

But the philosopher or lover of learning, who is entirely pure at departing, is alone permitted to reach the gods.  [c]  And this is the reason, Simmias and Cebes, why the true votaries of philosophy abstain from all fleshly lusts, and endure and refuse to give themselves up to them-not because they fear poverty or the ruin of their families, like the lovers of money, and the world in general; nor like the lovers of power and honor, because they dread the dishonor or disgrace of evil deeds. 

No, Socrates, that would not become them, said Cebes. 

 [d]  No, indeed, he replied; and therefore they who have a care of their souls, and do not merely live in the fashions of the body, say farewell to all this; they will not walk in the ways of the blind: and when philosophy offers them purification and release from evil, they feel that they ought not to resist her influence, and to her they incline, and whither she leads they follow her. 

What do you mean, Socrates? 

I will tell you, he said. The lovers of knowledge are conscious that their souls, when philosophy receives them,  [e]  are simply fastened and glued to their bodies. The soul here must view existence through the bars of a prison, and not in her own nature; she is wallowing in the mire of all ignorance. Philosophy sees the terrible nature of her confinement, and that the captive is led through desire to conspire in her own captivity. Philosophy receives her and gently counsels her, and attempts to release her, pointing out to her that the eye is full of deceit, and also the ear and other senses,  [83a]  and persuading her to retire from them in all but the necessary use of them and to be gathered up and collected into herself, and to trust only to herself and her own intuitions of absolute existence, and to mistrust everything else. Philosophy shows her that this world is visible and tangible, but that what she sees in her own nature is intellectual and invisible. [b]   And the soul of the true philosopher is happy for this deliverance, and therefore she abstains from pleasures and desires and pains and fears, as far as she is able. She reflects that when a person has great pleasures or sorrows or fears or desires, that person always suffers more more than he imagines. For example, when a person loses health or property, because of some lust or other,  [c]  a much greater evil has befallen than that person imagines. Indeed, the greatest and worst of all evils has happened. 

And what is that, Socrates? Cebes asked. 

Why, this: When the feeling of pleasure or pain in the soul is most intense, we naturally suppose that the object of this intense feeling is then plainest and truest, but this is not the case. 


 [d]  And this is the state in which the soul is most tied to the body most completely. 

How is that? 

Why, because each pleasure and pain is a sort of nail that rivets the soul to the body, and engrosses her and makes her believe that to be true which the body affirms to be true; and from agreeing with the body and having the same delights she is obliged to have the same habits and ways, and is not likely ever to be pure at her departure to the world below, but is always saturated with the body;  [e]  so that she soon sinks into another body and there germinates and grows, and has therefore no part in the communion of the divine and pure and simple. 

That is most true, Socrates, answered Cebes. 

And this, Cebes, is the reason why the true lovers of knowledge are temperate and brave; and not for the reason which the world gives. 

 [84a]  Certainly not. 

Certainly not! For not in that way does the soul of a philosopher reason; she will not ask philosophy to release her in order that when released she may deliver herself up again to the slavery of pleasures and pains, doing a work only to be undone again, weaving instead of unweaving her Penelope's web. But she will make herself a calm of passion and follow Reason, and dwell in her, beholding the true and divine (which is not matter of opinion), and thence derive nourishment.  [b]  Thus she seeks to live while she lives, and after death she hopes to go to her own kindred and to be freed from human ills. Never fear, Simmias and Cebes, that a soul which has been thus nurtured and has had these pursuits, will at her departure from the body be scattered and blown away by the winds and be nowhere and nothing. 

 [c]  When Socrates had done speaking, for a considerable time there was silence; he himself and most of us appeared to be meditating on what had been said; only Cebes and Simmias spoke a few words to one another. And Socrates observing this asked them what they thought of the argument, and whether there was anything wanting? For, said he, much is still open to suspicion and attack, if anyone were disposed to sift the matter thoroughly. If you are talking of something else I would rather not interrupt you, but if you are still doubtful about the argument do not hesitate to say exactly what you think, and let us have anything better which you can suggest;  [d]  and if I am likely to be of any use, allow me to help you. 

Simmias said: I must confess, Socrates, that doubts did arise in our minds, and each of us was urging and inciting the other to put the question which he wanted to have answered and which neither of us liked to ask, fearing that our importunity might be troublesome under present circumstances. 

Socrates smiled and said: O Simmias, if I can't persuade you, how will I persuade others  [e]  that I do not regard my present situation as a misfortune? Will you keep imagining that I am more troubled now than at any in my life? Won't you believe that I, like the swans, have the spirit of prophecy in me now? For they, when they know that they must die, sing more than ever,  [85a]  rejoicing in the thought that they are about to fly away to the god they serve. But humans, because they are themselves afraid of death, slanderously say that the swans lament that the end has come. This is wrong. No bird sings when cold, or hungry, or in pain, not even the nightingale, nor the swallow, nor yet the hoopoe, which are said to sing a tune of sorrow--but this is no more true of them than of the swans. But because they are sacred to Apollo and have the gift of prophecy  [b]  and anticipate the good things of another world, they sing and rejoice in that day more than they ever did before. And I, too, believing myself to be the consecrated servant of the same god, and the fellow servant of the swans, and thinking that I have received from my master gifts of prophecy which are not inferior to theirs, I will not go out of life less merrily than the swans. Stop worrying about me, but speak and ask anything that you like, while the eleven magistrates of Athens allow. 

Well, Socrates, said Simmias, then I will tell you my problem,  [c]  and Cebes will tell you his. You must feel, as I do, how very hard or almost impossible it is to be certain about questions like these in the present life. And yet it is cowardly to avoid trying to prove them, as well as we can, or to fail to examine the questions in every way. We must persevere until we conclude one of two things: either we discover the truth; or, if this is impossible, I would have him take the best and most dependable theory that human intelligence can construct,  [d]  and then we use this raft to sail the seas life--unless we find some word of God to carry us even more surely and safely. And now, as you bid me, I will question you, so that I will blame myself later for failing to say what I think. For when I consider the question, either alone or with Cebes, the argument appears to be unsatisfactory. 

 [e]  Socrates answered: I dare say, my friend, that you may be right, but how is the argument not satisfactory? 

In this respect, replied Simmias: Might not a person use the same argument about harmony and the lyre--might he not say that harmony is a thing invisible, incorporeal, fair, divine, abiding in the lyre which is harmonized,  [86a]  but that the lyre and the strings are matter and material, composite, earthy, and akin to mortality? And when someone breaks the lyre, or cuts and rends the strings, then he who takes this view would argue as you do, and on the same analogy,  [b]  that the harmony survives and has not perished; for you cannot imagine, as we would say, that the lyre without the strings, and the broken strings themselves, remain, and yet that the harmony, which is of heavenly and immortal nature and kindred, has perished--and perished too before the mortal.  [c]  The harmony, he would say, certainly exists somewhere, and the wood and strings will decay before that decays. For I suspect, Socrates, that the notion of the soul which we are all of us inclined to entertain, would also be yours, and that you too would conceive the body to be strung up, and held together, by the elements of hot and cold, wet and dry, and the like, and that the soul is the harmony or due proportionate admixture of them. And, if this is true, the inference clearly is that when the strings of the body are unduly loosened or overstrained through disorder or other injury, then the soul, though most divine, like other harmonies of music or of the works of art, of course perishes at once, although the material remains of the body may last for a considerable time, until they are either decayed or burnt.  [d]  Now if anyone maintained that the soul, being the harmony of the elements of the body, first perishes in that which is called death, how shall we answer him? 

Socrates looked round at us, wide-eyed as his manner was, and said, with a smile: Simmias has reason on his side; and why does not some one of you who is abler than myself answer him? for there is force in his attack upon me. But perhaps, before we answer him,  [e]  we had better also hear what Cebes has to say against the argument--this will give us time to think, and when both of them have spoken, we may either assent to them if their words appear to be in consonance with the truth, or if not, we may take up the other side, and argue with them. So tell me then, Cebes, what was the difficulty in my argument that troubled you? 

 [87a]  Cebes said: I will tell you. My feeling is that the argument is still in the same position, and open to the same objections which were urged before. I am ready to admit that the soul exists before it enters into bodily form. This has been argued very ingeniously, and sufficiently proven. But the existence of the soul after death is still, in my judgment, unproven. My objection is not the same as that of Simmias; for I believe that the soul is stronger and more lasting than the body, since it is in all such respects superior to the the body.  [b]  So why do I remain unconvinced? Since the body still exists after the person is dead, why shouldn't the soul exist too? 

Now I, like Simmias, must speak figuratively; and I'll ask you to consider whether my figure is to the point. The parallel which  [c]  I will suppose is that of an old weaver, who dies, and after his death somebody says: He is not dead, he must be alive; and he appeals to the coat which he himself wove and wore, and which is still whole and undecayed. And then he proceeds to ask of someone, whether a man lasts longer, or the coat which is in use and wear; and when he is answered that a man lasts far longer, thinks that he has thus certainly demonstrated the survival of the man, who is the more lasting, because the less lasting remains. But that, Simmias, is simply not the truth; everyone sees that he who talks this way is talking nonsense. For the truth is that this weaver, having worn and woven many such coats, though he outlived several of them, was himself outlived by the last; but this is surely very far from proving that a man is slighter and weaker than a coat.  [d]  Now the relation of the body to the soul may be expressed in a similar figure; for you may say with reason that the soul is lasting, and the body weak and short-lived in comparison. And every soul may be said to wear out many bodies, especially in the course of a long life. For if while the man is alive the body decays, [e]  and yet the soul always weaves her garment anew and repairs the waste, then of course, when the soul perishes, she must have on her last garment, and this only will survive her; but then again when the soul is dead the body will at last show its native weakness, and soon pass into decay.  [88a]  And therefore this is an argument on which I would rather not rely as proving that the soul exists after death. For suppose that we grant even more than you affirm as within the range of possibility, and besides acknowledging that the soul existed before birth admit also that after death the souls of some are existing still, and will exist, and will be born and die again and again, and that there is a natural strength in the soul which will hold out and be born many times--for all this, we may be still inclined to think that she will weary in the labors of successive births, and may at last succumb in one of her deaths and utterly perish; and this death and dissolution of the body which brings destruction to the soul may be unknown to any of us, for no one of us can have had any experience of it:  [b]  and if this be true, then I say that he who is confident in death has but a foolish confidence, unless he is able to prove that the soul is altogether immortal and imperishable. But if he is not able to prove this, he who is about to die will always have reason to fear that when the body is disunited, the soul also may utterly perish. 

 [c]  All of us, as we afterwards remarked to one another, had an unpleasant feeling at hearing them say this. When we had been so firmly convinced before, now to have our faith shaken seemed to introduce a confusion and uncertainty, not only into the previous argument, but into any future one. Either we were not good judges, or there were no real grounds of belief. 

Ech. There I feel with you. Indeed I do, Phaedo, and when you were speaking,  [d]  I was beginning to ask myself the same question: What argument can I ever trust again? For what could be more convincing than the argument of Socrates, which has now fallen into discredit? That the soul is a harmony is a doctrine which has always had a wonderful attraction for me, and, when mentioned, came back to me at once, as my own original conviction. And now I must begin again and find another argument which will assure me that when the man is dead the soul dies not with him. Tell me, I beg, how did Socrates proceed?  [e]  Did he appear to share the unpleasant feeling which you mention? or did he receive the interruption calmly and give a sufficient answer? Tell us, as exactly as you can, what passed. 

Phaed. Echecrates, as often as I have admired Socrates, I never admired him more than at that moment[89a]  That he should be able to answer was nothing, but what astonished me was, first, the gentle and pleasant and approving manner in which he regarded the words of the young men, and then his quick sense of the wound which had been inflicted by the argument, and his ready application of the healing art. He might be compared to a general rallying his defeated and broken army, urging them to follow him and return to the field of argument. 

Ech. How was that? 

 [b]  Phaed. You shall hear, for I was close to him on his right hand, seated on a sort of stool, and he on a couch which was a good deal higher. Now he had a way of playing with my hair, and then he smoothed my head, and pressed the hair upon my neck, and said: Tomorrow, Phaedo, I suppose that these fair locks of yours will be severed. 

Yes, Socrates, I suppose that they will, I replied. 

Not so if you will take my advice. 

What shall I do with them? I said. 

Today, he replied, and not tomorrow, if this argument dies and cannot be brought to life again by us, you and I will both shave our locks;  [c]  and if I were you, and could not maintain my ground against Simmias and Cebes, I would myself take an oath, like the Argives, not to wear hair any more until I had renewed the conflict and defeated them. 

Yes, I said, but Herakles himself is said not to be a match for two. 

Summon me then, he said, and I will be your Iolaus until the sun goes down. 

I summon you rather, I said, not as Heracles summoning Iolaus, but as Iolaus might summon Heracles. 

That will be all the same, he said. But first let us take care that we avoid a danger. 

And what is that? I said. 

 [d]  The danger of becoming "misologists," he replied, which is one of the very worst things that can happen to us. For as there are misanthropists or haters of people, there are also misologists or haters of arguments, and both spring from the same cause, which is ignorance of the world. Misanthropy arises from the too great confidence of inexperience; you trust a man and think him altogether true and good and faithful, and then in a little while he turns out to be false and knavish; and then another and another,  [e]  and when this has happened several times to a man, especially within the circle of his most trusted friends, as he deems them, and he has often quarreled with them, he at last hates all men, and believes that no one has any good in him at all. I dare say that you must have observed this. 

Yes, I said. 

And is not this discreditable? The reason is that a man, having to deal with other men, has no knowledge of them; for if he had knowledge he would have known the true state of the case,  [90a]  that few are the good and few the evil, and that the great majority are in the interval between them. 

How do you mean? I said. 

I mean, he replied, as you might say of the very large and very small, that nothing is more uncommon than a very large or a very small man; and this applies generally to all extremes, whether of great and small, or swift and slow, or fair and foul, or black and white: and whether the instances you select be men or dogs or anything else, few are the extremes, but many are in the mean between them. Did you never observe this? 

Yes, I said, I have. 

 [b]  And do you not imagine, he said, that if there were a competition of evil, the first in evil would be found to be very few? 

Yes, that is very likely, I said. 

Yes, that is very likely, he replied; not that in this respect arguments are like men--there I was led on by you to say more than I had intended, but the point of comparison was that when a simple man who has no skill in debate believes an argument to be true, which he afterwards imagines to be false, whether really false or not, and then another and another,  [c]  he has no longer any faith left, and great disputers, as you know, come to think, at last that they have grown to be the wisest of mankind; for they alone perceive the utter unsoundness and instability of all arguments, or, indeed, of all things, which, like the currents in the Euripus, are going up and down in never-ceasing ebb and flow. 

That is quite true, I said. 

Yes, Phaedo, he replied, and very sad too. If there be such a thing as truth or certainty or power of knowing at all,  [d]  that a man should have lighted upon some argument or other which at first seemed true and then turned out to be false, and instead of blaming himself and his own want of wit, he is annoyed and he transfers the blame from himself to arguments in general. And so forever afterwards he hates and despises all arguments, and he loses the hope of learning the truth and gaining knowledge. 

That is sad indeed, I said. 

 [e]  Let us, then, in the first place, he said, be careful of admitting into our souls the notion that there is no truth or health or soundness in any arguments at all; but let us rather say that there is as yet no health in us, and that we must quit ourselves like men and do our best to gain health--you and all other men with a view to the whole of your future life, and I myself with a view to death.  [91a]  For at this moment I am sensible that I have not the temper of a philosopher; like the vulgar, I am only a partisan. For the partisan, when engaged in a debate, cares nothing about the rights of the question, but is anxious only to convince his hearers of his own assertions. And the difference between him and me at the present moment is only this--that whereas he seeks to convince his hearers that what he says is true, [b]   I am rather seeking to convince myself; to convince my hearers is a secondary matter with me. And do but see how much I gain by this. For if what I say is true, then I do well to be persuaded of the truth, but if there be nothing after death, still, during the short time that remains, I shall save my friends from lamentations, and my ignorance will not last, and therefore no harm will be done. This is the state of mind, Simmias and Cebes, in which I approach the argument.  [c]  And I would ask you to be thinking of the truth and not of Socrates: agree with me, if I seem to you to be speaking the truth; or if not, withstand me might and main, that I may not deceive you as well as myself in my enthusiasm, and, like the bee, leave my sting in you before I die. 

And now let us proceed, he said. And first of all let me be sure that I have in my mind what you were saying. Simmias, if I remember rightly, has fears and misgivings whether the soul, being in the form of harmony,  [d]  although a fairer and diviner thing than the body, may not perish first. On the other hand, Cebes appeared to grant that the soul was more lasting than the body, but he said that no one could know whether the soul, after having worn out many bodies, might not perish herself and leave her last body behind her; and that this is death, which is the destruction not of the body but of the soul, for in the body the work of destruction is ever going on. Are not these, Simmias and Cebes, the points which we have to consider? 

 [e]  They both agreed to this statement of them. 

He proceeded: And did you deny the force of the whole preceding argument, or of a part only? 

Of a part only, they replied. 

And what did you think, he said, of that part of the argument in which we said that knowledge was recollection only,  [92a]  and inferred from this that the soul must have previously existed somewhere else before she was enclosed in the body?

Cebes said that he had been wonderfully impressed by that part of the argument, and that his conviction remained unshaken. 

Simmias agreed, and added that he himself could hardly imagine the possibility of his ever thinking differently about that. 

But, rejoined Socrates, you will have to think differently, my Theban friend, if you still maintain that harmony is a compound, and that the soul is a harmony which is made out of strings set in the frame of the body;  [b]  for you will surely never allow yourself to say that a harmony is prior to the elements which compose the harmony. 

No, Socrates, that is impossible. 

But do you not see that you are saying this when you say that the soul existed before she took the form and body of man, and was made up of elements which as yet had no existence? For harmony is not a sort of thing like the soul, as you suppose;  [c]  but first the lyre, and the strings, and the sounds exist in a state of discord, and then harmony is made last of all, and perishes first. And how can such a notion of the soul as this agree with the other? 

Not at all, replied Simmias. 

And yet, he said, there surely ought to be harmony when harmony is the theme of discourse. 

There ought, replied Simmias. 

But there is no harmony, he said, in the two propositions that knowledge is recollection, and that the soul is a harmony. Which of them, then, will you retain? 

 [d]  I think, he replied, that I have a much stronger faith, Socrates, in the first of the two, which has been fully demonstrated to me, than in the latter, which has not been demonstrated at all, but rests only on probable and plausible grounds; and I know too well that these arguments from probabilities are impostors, and unless great caution is observed in the use of them they are apt to be deceptive--in geometry, and in other things too. But the doctrine of knowledge and recollection has been proven to me on trustworthy grounds; and the proof was that the soul must have existed before she came into the body, because to her belongs the essence of which the very name implies existence.  [e]  Having, as I am convinced, rightly accepted this conclusion, and on sufficient grounds, I must, as I suppose, cease to argue or allow others to argue that the soul is a harmony. 

Let me put the matter in a different perspective, Simmias, he said: Do you imagine that a harmony  [93a]  or any other composition can be in a state other than that of the elements out of which it is compounded?

Certainly not. 

Or do or suffer anything other than they do or suffer? 

He agreed. 

Then a harmony does not lead the parts or elements which make up the harmony, but only follows them. 

He assented. 

For harmony cannot possibly have any motion, or sound, or other quality which is opposed to the parts. 

That would be impossible, he replied. 

And does not every harmony depend upon the manner in which the elements are harmonized? 

I do not understand you, he said. 

 [b]  I mean to say that a harmony admits of degrees, and is more of a harmony, and more completely a harmony, when more completely harmonized, if that be possible; and less of a harmony, and less completely a harmony, when less harmonized. 


But does the soul admit of degrees? or is one soul in the very least degree more or less, or more or less completely, a soul than another? 

Not in the least. 

Yet surely one soul is said to have intelligence and virtue, and to be good, and another soul is said to have folly and vice,  [c]  and to be an evil soul: and this is said truly? 

Yes, truly. 

But what will those who maintain the soul to be a harmony say of this presence of virtue and vice in the soul? Will they say that there is another harmony, and another discord,  and that the virtuous soul is harmonized, and herself being a harmony has another harmony within her, and that the vicious soul is unharmonious and has no harmony within her? 

I cannot say, replied Simmias; but I suppose that something of that kind would be asserted by those who take this view. 

 [d]  And we already have agreed that no soul is more of a soul than another; and this is equivalent to admitting that harmony is not more or less harmony, or more or less completely a harmony? 

Quite true. 

And that which is not more or less a harmony is not more or less harmonized? 


And that which is not more or less harmonized cannot have more or less of harmony, but only an equal harmony? 

Yes, an equal harmony. 

 [e]  Then if one soul is not more or less absolutely a soul than another, it has been more or less harmonized? 


And therefore has neither more nor less of harmony or of discord? 

She has not. 

And having neither more nor less of harmony or of discord, one soul has no more vice or virtue than another, if vice be discord and virtue harmony? 

Not at all more. 

 [94a]  Or speaking more correctly, Simmias, the soul, if she is a harmony, will never have any vice; because a harmony, being absolutely a harmony, has no part in the unharmonious? 


And therefore a soul which is absolutely a soul has no vice? 

How can she have, consistently with the preceding argument? 

Then, according to this, if the souls of all animals are equally and absolutely souls, they will be equally good?

 I agree with you, Socrates, he said. 

 [b]  And can all this be true, do you think? he said; and are all these consequences admissible--which nevertheless seem to follow from the assumption that the soul is a harmony? 

Certainly not, he said. 

Once more, he said, what ruling principle is there of human things other than the soul, and especially the wise soul? Do you know of any? 

Indeed, I do not. 

And is the soul in agreement with the affections of the body? or is she at variance with them? For example, when the body is hot and thirsty, does not the soul incline us against drinking? and when the body is hungry, against eating? And this is only one instance out of ten thousand  [c]  of the opposition of the soul to the things of the body. 

Very true. 

But we have already acknowledged that the soul, being a harmony, can never utter a note at variance with the tensions and relaxations and vibrations and other affections of the strings out of which she is composed; she can only follow, she cannot lead them? 

Yes, he said, we acknowledged that, certainly. 

And yet do we not now discover the soul to be doing the exact opposite-- [d]  leading the elements of which she is believed to be composed; almost always opposing and coercing them in all sorts of ways throughout life, sometimes more violently with the pains of medicine and gymnastic; then again more gently; threatening and also reprimanding the desires, passions, fears, as if talking to a thing which is not herself, as Homer in the Odyssey represents Odysseus doing in the words, "He beat his breast, and thus reproached his heart: "Endure, my heart; far worse hast thou endured!"  [e]  Do you think that Homer could have written this under the idea that the soul is a harmony capable of being led by the affections of the body, and not rather of a nature which leads and masters them; and herself a far diviner thing than any harmony? 

Yes, Socrates, I quite agree to that. 

 [95a]  Then, my friend, we can never be right in saying that the soul is a harmony, for that would clearly contradict the divine Homer as well as ourselves. 

True, he said. 

Thus much, said Socrates, of Harmonia, your Theban goddess, Cebes, who has not been ungracious to us, I think; but what shall I say to the Theban Cadmus, and how shall I appease him? 

I think that you will discover a way, said Cebes. You answered the argument about harmony in a way that I never could have expected.  [b]  For when Simmias raised his objection, I thought that no answer could be given to him, and yet his argument fell at the first onset of yours. I suppose that Cadmus' arguments would suffer a similar fate. 

No, my good friend, said Socrates, let us not boast, lest some evil eye should put a curse on the argument that I am about to make. As for fate, let's leave that in the hands of the gods above, while I draw near in Homeric fashion, and try the mettle of your words. Briefly, your objection is as follows: You want me to prove that the soul is imperishable and immortal.  [c]  You think that the philosopher who is confident in death is a fool, especially if he thinks that he will fare better in the world below than everybody else, unless he can prove his case. You say that the strength and endurance of the soul, and her existence prior to our births, does not necessarily imply her immortality. Even if the soul is long-lived, and has known and done much in a former state, you say that she is not on that account immortal; and her entrance into the human form may be a sort of disease which is the beginning of dissolution, and may at last, after the toils of life are over, end in death.  [d]  And whether the soul enters into the body once only or many times, that, as you would say, makes no difference in the fears of individuals. For any man, who is not devoid of natural feeling, has reason to fear, if he has no knowledge or proof of the soul's immortality. That is what I think you have said, Cebes, which I have tried to repeat in full  [e]  so that nothing will escape us. Did I miss anything? Do you have more to add? 

No, said Cebes, I have nothing to add or subtract. 

Socrates paused awhile, and seemed to be absorbed in reflection. At length he said:  [96a]  This is a very serious inquiry which you are raising, Cebes, involving the whole question of generation and corruption, about which I will, if you like, give you my own experience; and you can apply this, if you think that anything which I say will avail towards the solution of your difficulty. 

I should very much like, said Cebes, to hear what you have to say.

Then I will tell you, said Socrates. When I was young, Cebes, I had a prodigious desire to know that department of philosophy which is called Natural Science; this appeared to me to have high aims, as being the science that has to do with the causes of things, it teaches why a thing is,  [b]  and why it is created and destroyed, and I was always agitating myself with the consideration of such questions as these: Is the growth of animals the result of some decay which the hot and cold principle contracts, as some have said? Is the blood the element with which we think, or the air, or the fire? or perhaps nothing of this sort--but the brain may be the originating power of the perceptions of hearing and sight and smell, and memory and opinion may come from them, and science may be based on memory and opinion when no longer in motion, but at rest. And then I went on to examine the decay of them,  [c]  and then to the things of heaven and earth, and at last I concluded that I was wholly incapable of these inquiries, as I will satisfactorily prove to you. For I was fascinated by them to such a degree that my eyes grew blind to things that I had seemed to myself, and also to others, to know quite well; and I forgot what I had before thought to be self-evident, that the growth of man is the result of eating and drinking;  [d]  for when by the digestion of food flesh is added to flesh and bone to bone, and whenever there is an aggregation of congenial elements, the lesser bulk becomes larger and the small man greater. Was not that a reasonable notion? 

Yes, said Cebes, I think so. 

Well, but let me tell you something more. There was a time when I thought that I understood the meaning of greater and less pretty well; and when I saw a great man standing by a little one I fancied that one was taller than the other by a head; or  [e]  one horse would appear to be greater than another horse: and still more clearly did I seem to perceive that ten is two more than eight, and that two cubits are more than one, because two is twice one. 

And what is now your notion of such matters? said Cebes. 

I should be far enough from imagining, he replied, that I knew the cause of any of them. I can't even satisfy myself that when one is added to one, the one to which the addition is made becomes two,  [97a]  or that the two units added together make two by reason of the addition. I can't understand how, when separated from the other, each of them was one and not two, and now, when they are brought together, the mere juxtaposition of them can be the cause of their becoming two: nor can I understand how the division of one is the way to make two; for then a different cause would produce the same effect--as in the former instance the addition and juxtaposition of one to one was the cause of two,  [b]  in this the separation and subtraction of one from the other would be the cause. Nor am I any longer satisfied that I understand the reason why one or anything else either is generated or destroyed or is at all, but I have in my mind some confused notion of another method, and can never admit this.  [c]  Then I heard someone with book of Anaxagoras, reading that mind directs and is the cause of everything, and I was quite delighted at the notion of this, which appeared admirable, and I said to myself: If mind is the disposer, mind will dispose all for the best, and put each particular in the best place; and I argued that if people wanted to find out the cause of the growth or decay or the existence of anything,  [d]  they must find out what state of being or suffering or doing was best for that thing, and therefore if people had only to consider the best for themselves, then they would also know the worse, for that the same science comprised both. And I rejoiced to think that I had found in Anaxagoras a teacher of the causes of existence, such as I desired. I imagined that he would tell me first whether the earth is flat or round;  [e]  and then he would further explain the cause and the necessity of this, and would teach me the nature of the best and show that this was best; and if he said that the earth was in the center, he would explain that this position was the best, and I should be satisfied if this were shown to me, and not want any other sort of cause.  [98a]  And I thought that I would then go and ask him about the sun and moon and stars, and that he would explain to me their comparative swiftness, and their returns and various states, and how their several influences, active and passive, were all for the best. For I could not imagine that when he spoke of mind as the disposer of them,  [b]  he would give any other account of their being as they are, except that this was best; and I thought when he had explained to me in detail the cause of each and the cause of all, he would go on to explain to me what was best for each and what was best for all. I had hopes which I would not have sold for much, and I seized the books and read them as fast as I could in my eagerness to know the better and the worse. 

What hopes I had, and how terribly I was disappointed! As I proceeded, I found my philosopher altogether forsaking mind or any other principle of order,  [c]  but having recourse to air, and ether, and water, and other eccentricities. I might compare him to a person who began by maintaining generally that mind is the cause of the actions of Socrates, but who, when he endeavored to explain the causes of my several actions in detail, went on to show that I sit here because my body is made up of bones and muscles;  [d]  and the bones, as he would say, are hard and have ligaments which divide them, and the muscles are elastic, and they cover the bones, which have also a covering or environment of flesh and skin which contains them; and as the bones are lifted at their joints by the contraction or relaxation of the muscles, I am able to bend my limbs, and this is why I am sitting here in a curved posture: that is what he would say. 

And he would have a similar explanation of my talking to you, which he would attribute to sound, and air, and hearing, and he would assign ten thousand other causes of the same sort, forgetting to mention the true cause, which is  [e]  that the Athenians have thought fit to condemn me, and accordingly I have thought it better and more right to remain here and undergo my sentence;  [99a]  for I am inclined to think that these muscles and bones of mine would have gone off to Megara or Boeotia--by the dog of Egypt they would, if they had been guided only by their own idea of what was best, and if I had not chosen as the better and nobler part, instead of playing truant and running away, to undergo any punishment which the State inflicts. There is surely a strange confusion of causes and conditions in all this. It may be said, indeed, that without bones and muscles and the other parts of the body I cannot execute my purposes. But to say that I do as I do because of them, and that this is the way in which mind acts,  [b]  and not from the choice of the best, is a very careless and idle mode of speaking. I wonder that they cannot distinguish the cause from the condition, which the many, feeling about in the dark, are always mistaking and misnaming. And thus one man makes a vortex all round  [c]  and steadies the earth by the heaven; another gives the air as a support to the earth, which is a sort of broad trough. Any power which in disposing them as they are disposes them for the best never enters into their minds, nor do they imagine that there is any superhuman strength in that; they rather expect to find another Atlas of the world who is stronger and more everlasting and more containing than the good is, and are clearly of opinion that the obligatory and containing power of the good is as nothing; and yet this is the principle which I would fain learn if anyone would teach me. [d]   But as I have failed either to discover myself or to learn of anyone else, the nature of the best, I will exhibit to you, if you like, what I have found to be the second best mode of inquiring into the cause. 

I should very much like to hear that, he replied. 

Socrates proceeded: I thought that as I had failed in the contemplation of true existence, I ought to be careful that I did not lose the eye of my soul; as people may injure their bodily eye by observing and gazing on the sun during an eclipse, unless they take the precaution of only looking at the image reflected in the water, or in some similar medium.  [e]  That thought occurred to me, and I was afraid that my soul might be blinded altogether if I looked at things with my eyes or tried by the help of the senses to apprehend them. And I thought that I had better have recourse to ideas, and seek in them the truth of existence. I dare say that the simile is not perfect--for I am very far from admitting that he who contemplates existence through the medium of ideas, sees them only "through a glass darkly,"  [100a]  any more than he who sees them in their working and effects. However, this was the method which I adopted: I first assumed some principle which I judged to be the strongest, and then I affirmed as true whatever seemed to agree with this, whether relating to the cause or to anything else; and that which disagreed I regarded as untrue. But I should like to explain my meaning clearly, as I do not think that you understand me. 

No, replied Cebes, not very well. 

 [b]  There is nothing new, he said, in what I am about to tell you; but only what I have been always and everywhere repeating in the previous discussion and on other occasions. I want to show you the nature of that cause which has occupied my thoughts, and I shall have to go back to those familiar words which are in the mouth of everyone, and first of all assume that there is an absolute beauty and goodness and greatness, and the like; grant me this, and I hope to be able to show you the nature of the cause, and to prove the immortality of the soul. 

 [c]  Cebes said: You may proceed at once with the proof, as I readily grant you this. 

Well, he said, then I should like to know whether you agree with me in the next step; for I cannot help thinking that if there be anything beautiful other than absolute beauty, that can only be beautiful in as far as it partakes of absolute beauty-and this I should say of everything. Do you agree in this notion of the cause? 

Yes, he said, I agree. 

 [d]  He proceeded: I know nothing and can understand nothing of any other of those wise causes which are alleged; and if a person says to me that the bloom of color, or form, or anything else of that sort is a source of beauty, I leave all that, which is only confusing to me, and simply and singly, and perhaps foolishly, hold and am assured in my own mind that nothing makes a thing beautiful but the presence and participation of beauty in whatever way or manner obtained; for as to the manner I am uncertain, but I stoutly contend that by beauty all beautiful things become beautiful.  [e]  That appears to me to be the only safe answer that I can give, either to myself or to any other, and to that I cling, in the persuasion that I shall never be overthrown, and that I may safely answer to myself or any other that by beauty beautiful things become beautiful. Do you not agree to that? 

Yes, I agree. 

And that by greatness only great things become great and greater greater, and by smallness the less becomes less. 


 [101a]  Then if a person remarks that A is taller by a head than B, and B less by a head than A, you would refuse to admit this, and would stoutly contend that what you mean is only that the greater is greater by, and by reason of, greatness, and the less is less only by, or by reason of, smallness; and thus you would avoid the danger of saying that the greater is greater and the less by the measure of the head, which is the same in both,  [b]  and would also avoid the monstrous absurdity of supposing that the greater man is greater by reason of the head, which is small. Would you not be afraid of that? 

Indeed, I should, said Cebes, laughing. 

In like manner you would be afraid to say that ten exceeded eight by, and by reason of, two; but would say by, and by reason of, number; or that two cubits exceed one cubit not by a half, but by magnitude?--that is what you would say, for there is the same danger in both cases. 

Very true, he said. 

Again, would you not be cautious of affirming that the addition of one to one, or the division of one, is the cause of two?  [c]  And you would loudly asseverate that you know of no way in which anything comes into existence except by participation in its own proper essence, and consequently, as far as you know, the only cause of two is the participation in duality; that is the way to make two, and the participation in one is the way to make one. You would say: I will let alone puzzles of division and addition. Wiser heads than mine may answer them; inexperienced as I am, and ready to start, as the proverb says, at my own shadow,  [d]  I cannot afford to give up the sure ground of a principle. And if anyone attacks your idea there, you would ignore him, or answer him until you had seen whether the consequences which follow agree with one another or not. And when you are further required to give an explanation of this principle,  [e]  you will go on to assume a higher principle, and the best of the higher ones, until you found a resting-place; but you would not refuse the principle and the consequences in your reasoning as debaters do--at least if you wanted to discover the truth. Not that they care or think about it at all, for they have the wit to be well pleased with themselves, however great may be the turmoil of their ideas.  [102a]  But you, if you are a philosopher, as I think you are, you will do as I say. 

What you say is most true, said Simmias and Cebes, both speaking at once. 

Ech. Yes, Phaedo; and I don't wonder at their assenting. Anyone who has the least sense will acknowledge the wonderful clarity of Socrates' reasoning. 

Phaed. Yes, Echecrates; and that was the feeling of the whole company at the time. 

Ech. Yes, and equally of ourselves, who were not of the company, and are now listening to you. But what followed? 

Phaed. As I recall, after all this was admitted, and they had agreed about the existence of ideas  [b]  and the participation in them of the other things which derive their names from them, Socrates then said: this is your way of speaking; and yet when you say that Simmias is larger than Socrates and smaller than Phaedo, do you not mean that there is in Simmias both largeness and smallness? 

Yes, I do. 

But still you agree that Simmias is really larger than Socrates,  [c]  as the words may seem to imply, not because he is Simmias, but because of the size that he has; likewise Simmias is not greater than Socrates because Socrates is Socrates, but because Socrates has more smallness than Simmias? 


And if Phaedo exceeds him in size, that is not because Phaedo is Phaedo, but because Phaedo has more largeness than Simmias has largeness? 

That is true. 

 [d]  And so Simmias is said to be both large and small, because he is in a mean between them, exceeding the smallness of the one and the largeness of the other. He added, laughing, I am speaking like a book now, but I think that what I am saying is nevertheless true. 

Simmias agreed. 

The reason why I say tell you all of this is that I want you to agree with me in thinking that absolute largeness is never both large and small. Largeness in us individually, or in the concrete, never mixes with smallness. Instead, one of two things happens- [e]  either it retreats as its opposite --smallness-- approaches, or else it ceases to exist because of the advance and domination of smallness; but it will not change in either case. It remains largeness; even as I, when compared with Simmias, remain the same small person that I am. The idea of largeness cannot condescend ever to become small,  [103a]  and the idea of smallness in us cannot ever become large. Neither can any other opposite which remains the same ever be or become its own opposite, but either it passes away or it perishes in the change. 

That, replied Cebes, is quite my notion. 

One of the company, though I do not exactly remember which of them, on hearing this, said: By Heaven, this is exactly contrary to what we decided before--that out of the greater came the less and out of the less the greater, and that opposites are simply generated from opposites. Now all of this seems to be incorrect. 

Socrates inclined his head to the speaker and listened. Then he said: I like your courage in reminding us of this.  [b]  But you do not observe that there is a difference in the two cases. For then we were speaking of opposites in the concrete, but now we are talking about opposite ideas. An idea can never turn into the opposite of itself, neither in us nor in nature. It is inherently itself. It gives its name to itself.  [c]  These essential opposites will never generate into or out of one another. 

At the same time, Socrates turned to Cebes and said: are you at all disturbed, Cebes, at our friend's objection? 

Not now, said Cebes; but many other things disturb me. 

Then we agree after all, said Socrates, that an opposite will never in any case be opposite to itself? 

Yes, we agree, he replied. 

Yet once more let me ask you to consider the question from another point of view, and see whether you still agree with me: There is a thing which we call hot, and another thing that we call cold? 


 [d]  Are they the same as fire and snow? 

Most assuredly not. 

Heat is not the same as fire, nor is cold the same as snow? 


And yet when snow is under the influence of heat, they will not remain snow and heat; but at the advance of the heat the snow either retreats or perishes? 

Yes, he replied. 

And the fire too, at the advance of the cold, either retreats or perishes, and when the fire is under the influence of the cold, they will not remain, as before, fire and cold. 

That is true, he said. 

 [e]  And in some cases the name of the idea is not confined to the idea; but anything else which, not being the idea, exists only in the form of the idea, may also lay claim to it. I will try to make this clearer by an example: The odd number is always called by the name of odd? 

Very true. 

But is this the only thing which is called odd?  [104a]  Are there not other things which have their own name, and yet are called odd, because, although not the same as oddness, they are never without oddness?--that is what I mean to ask--whether numbers such as the number three are not of the class of odd. And there are many other examples: would you not say? For example, that three may be called by its proper name, and also be called odd, which is not the same with three? And this may be said not only of three but also of five, and every alternate number, each of them without being oddness is odd, and in the same way two and four, and the whole series of alternate numbers, has every number even, without being evenness.  [b]  Do you admit that? 

Yes, he said, how can I deny that? 

Then look. Here's the point. Opposites exclude one another, but concrete things contain opposites that either perish or withdraw as the advance of their opposites.  [c]  There is the number three for example; there's no way to convert it into an even number, but it always remains three? 

Very true, said Cebes. 

But the number two is not the opposite of the number three? 

It is not. 

So, there are not only opposite ideas that do not change into their opposites, but there are also other things like the number three that do not change? 

That is quite true, he said. 

Let's try to determine what theses other things may be. 

By all means. 

 [d]  Are they not, Cebes, such as compel the things of which they have possession, not only to take their own form, but also the form of some opposite? 

What do you mean? 

I mean, as I was just now saying, that those things which are possessed by the number three must not only be three in number, but must also be odd. 

Quite true. 

And on this oddness, of which the number three has the impress, the opposite idea will never intrude? 


And this impress was given by the odd principle? 


And to the odd is opposed the even? 


 [e]  Then the idea of the even number will never arrive at three? 


Then three has no part in the even? 


Then the triad or number three is uneven? 

Very true. 

To return then to my distinction of natures which are not opposites, and yet do not admit opposites: as, in this instance, three, although not opposed to the even, does not any the more admit of the even, but always brings the opposite into play on the other side;  [105]  or as two does not receive the odd, or fire the cold--from these examples (and there are many more of them) perhaps you may be able to arrive at the general conclusion that not only opposites will not receive opposites, but also that nothing which brings the opposite will admit the opposite of that which it brings in that to which it is brought. And here let me recapitulate--for there is no harm in repetition. The number five will not admit the nature of the even, any more than ten, which is the double of five, will admit the nature of the odd. The double, though not strictly opposed to the odd, rejects the odd altogether.  [b]  Nor again will parts in the ratio of 3:2, nor any fraction in which there is a half, nor again in which there is a third, admit the notion of the whole, although they are not opposed to the whole. You will agree to that? 

Yes, he said, I entirely agree and go along with you in that. 

And now, he said, I think that I may begin again; and to the question which I am about to ask I will beg you to give not the old safe answer, but another, of which I will offer you an example;  [c]  and I hope that you will find in what has been just said another foundation which is as safe. I mean that if anyone asks you "what that is, the inherence of which makes the body hot," you will reply not heat (this is what I call the safe and stupid answer), but fire, a far better answer, which we are now in a condition to give. Or if anyone asks you "why a body is diseased," you will not say from disease, but from fever; and instead of saying that oddness is the cause of odd numbers, you will say that the monad is the cause of them: and so of things in general, as I dare say that you will understand sufficiently without my adducing any further examples. 

Yes, he said, I quite understand you. 

Tell me, then, what is that the inherence of which will render the body alive? 

The soul, he replied. 

 [d]  And is this always the case? 

Yes, he said, of course. 

Then whatever the soul possesses, to that she comes bearing life? 

Yes, certainly. 

And is there any opposite to life? 

There is, he said. 

And what is that? 


Then the soul, as has been acknowledged, will never receive the opposite of what she brings. And now, he said, what did we call that principle which repels the even? 

The odd. 

And that principle which repels the musical, or the just? 

 [e]  The unmusical, he said, and the unjust. 

And what do we call the principle which does not admit of death? 

The immortal, he said. 

And does the soul admit of death? 


Then the soul is immortal? 

Yes, he said. 

And may we say that this is proven? 

Yes, abundantly proven, Socrates, he replied. 

 [106a]  And supposing that the odd were imperishable, must not three be imperishable? 

Of course. 

And if that which is cold were imperishable, when the warm principle came attacking the snow, must not the snow have retired whole and unmelted--for it could never have perished, nor could it have remained and admitted the heat? 

True, he said. 

Again, if the uncooling or warm principle were imperishable, the fire when assailed by cold would not have perished or have been extinguished, but would have gone away unaffected? 

Certainly, he said. 

 [b]  And the same may be said of the immortal: if the immortal is imperishable, the soul when attacked by death cannot perish. Our preceding argument shows that the soul will not partake of death, or ever die, any more than three or the odd number will partake of the even, or the heat in the fire will partake of the cold.  [c]  Yet a person may say: "But although the odd will not become even at the approach of the even, why may not the odd perish and the even take the place of the odd?" Now to him who makes this objection, we cannot answer that the odd principle is imperishable; for this has not been acknowledged, but if this had been acknowledged, there would have been no difficulty in contending that at the approach of the even the odd principle and the number three took up their departure; and the same argument would have held good of fire and heat and any other thing. 

Very true. 

 [d]  And the same may be said of the immortal: if the immortal is also imperishable, then the soul will be imperishable as well as immortal; but if not, some other proof of her imperishableness will have to be given. 

No other proof is needed, he said; for if the immortal, being eternal, is liable to perish, then nothing is imperishable. 

Yes, replied Socrates, all people will agree that god, and the essential form of life, and the immortal in general, will never perish.  [e]  Seeing then that the immortal is indestructible, must not the soul, if she is immortal, be also imperishable? 

Most certainly. 

Then when death attacks a man, the mortal portion of him may be supposed to die, but the immortal goes out of the way of death and is preserved safe and sound? 


 [107a]  Then, Cebes, beyond question the soul is immortal and imperishable, and our souls will exist in another world! 

Cebes replied: I am convinced, Socrates, and have nothing more to object; but if my friend Simmias, or anyone else, has any further objection, it's time to speak out now, and not keep silence. I don't know when there ever will be a better time for the discussion. 

But I have nothing more to say, replied Simmias; nor do I see any room for uncertainty, except that which arises necessarily out of the greatness of the subject  [b]  and the feebleness of man, and which I cannot help feeling. 

Yes, Simmias, replied Socrates, that is well said: and more than that, first principles, even if they appear certain, should be carefully considered; and when they are satisfactorily ascertained, then, with a sort of hesitating confidence in human reason, you may, I think, follow the course of the argument; and if this is clear, there will be no need for any further inquiry. 

That, he said, is true. 

 [c]  But then, my friends, he said, if the soul really really immortal, what care should we take of her, not only because of the small portion of time that we call life, but because of eternity! Neglecting her is a terrible danger. If death were the end of the soul, wicked people would gain bb dying, for they would quit body and soul, and their evil would cease.  [d]  But since the soul appears to be immortal, there is no escape from evil except by achieving the greatest possible virtue and wisdom. For the soul goes to the world below with nothing with her upbringing and education; which are said to benefit or to injure her, even from the beginning of her pilgrimage in the other world. 

For after death, as they say, the genius of each individual, to whom he belonged in life, leads him to a certain place in which the dead are gathered together for judgment[e]  whence they go into the world below, following the guide who is appointed to conduct them from this world to the other: and when they have there received their due and remained their time, another guide brings them back again after many revolutions of ages. Now this journey to the other world is not, as Aeschylus says in the Telephus, a single and straight path--[108a]  no guide would be wanted for that, and no one could miss a single path; but there are many forks and turns in the road, as I must infer from the rites and sacrifices which are offered to the gods below in places where three ways meet on earth. 

The wise and orderly soul is conscious of her situation and follows in the path, but the soul that is passionately attached to the body hovers over it [b]  and fights to remain in the world of sight. Eventually she is led away by her attendant genius only after many struggles and sufferings, and when she arrives at the place where the other souls are gathered, if she is impure and has done evil deeds, foul murders or other crimes or bad works--from that soul all of the rest flees and turn away; none will be her companion, none will be her guide, [c]  but she wanders alone at a complete loss until the time comes when she is borne off irresistibly to an appropriate abode. Yet the pure and just soul finds fellow travelers and gods to guide her, as she passes to her home. 

Now the earth has many strange and wonderful regions. In fact, it is in nature and extent very unlike the notions of geographers, as someone once convinced me. 

[d]  What do you mean, Socrates? said Simmias. I have myself heard many descriptions of the earth, but I don't know how you see it, and I would like to know. 

Socrates answered: well, Simmias, telling the story does not require the skill of Glaucus. The skill of Glaucus could not prove it to be true, and neither can I--[e]  or even if I could, my life would come to an end before the story was finished. But I'll describe for you in general the form and regions of the earth, as I conceive of them. 

That will be enough, said Simmias. 

[109a]  Well, then, he said, I believe that the earth is a round body in the center of the heavens, and therefore has no need of air or any similar force as a support, but is kept there and hindered from falling or inclining any way by the weight of the surrounding heaven and by her own weight. For in equilibrium, anything that is in the center of that which is homogeneous, will not incline more in one direction or another, but will always remain in the same state and not deviate. And this is my first notion. 

Which is surely a correct one, said Simmias. 

Also I believe that the earth is very vast, and that we who live in the region [b] extending from the river Phasis to the Pillars of Herakles, along the borders of the sea, are just like ants or frogs about a marsh, and inhabit a small portion only, and that many other peoples dwell in many other places. In all parts of the earth there are hollows of various forms and sizes, into which the water and the mist and the air collect. The true earth is pure, and there is also a pure heaven, [c] the place of stars that is commonly called the ether, for the sediments have dropped out and collected in the hollows of the earth. Of course, we who live in these hollows are deceived into thinking that we are dwelling above, on the surface of the earth, It's just as if a creature at the bottom of the sea [d] imagined that he was on the surface of the water, and that the sea was the heaven through which he saw the sun and the other stars--since he has been too feeble or lazy to swim to the surface he has never lifted up his head and seen this region which is so much purer than his own. 

This is exactly our case: for we live in a hollow of the earth, and imagine that we are on the surface; and the air we mistakenly call the heaven, and in this so-called heaven we incorrectly believe that the stars move. We are too feeble and lazy to fly up and reach the upper surface of the air. [e] For if any person could arrive at the upper limit, by taking the wings of a bird and flying upward, like a fish who puts his head out and sees this world, a world beyond would appear; and, if the human could sustain the sight, the discoverer would acknowledge that this was the place of the true heaven and the true light and the true stars. For this earth where we live, and the stones, and the entire region that surrounds us, are spoiled and worn, [110a] like the things in the sea which are corroded by the brine; for in the sea too there is hardly any noble or perfect growth, but clefts only, and sand, and an endless slough of mud: and even the shore cannot compare with the fairer sights of the real world above. 

If this is the right time to tell tales, Simmias, I could tell you more about the true surface of the earth under the true heaven. [b] It is well worth hearing. 

And we will listen carefully, Socrates, replied Simmias. 

Well, my friend, the story goes as follows. In the first place, the earth, when looked at from above, is like one of those balls which have leather coverings in twelve strips of various colors [c] that painters use for samples. But there the true earth is made up of colors that are far brighter and clearer than ours. There is a purple of wonderful luster, also a radiance of gold, and the white which is whiter than any chalk or snow that we experience in our lives below. Of these and other colors the true earth is made up, and they are more in number and fairer than the eye of mankind ever has seen. [d] The hollows below (of which I was speaking), full of air and water, gleam reflecting these true colors from above, so the the upper surface has a brilliant unity. And in this fair region everything that grows--trees and flowers and fruits--is in a like degree fairer than any here; and there are hills, and stones in them in a like degree smoother, and more transparent, and fairer in color than our highly valued emeralds and onyxes and jaspers, and other gems, which are but minute fragments of them: [e] for there all the stones are like our precious stones, and fairer still. The reason of this is that they are pure, and not, like our precious stones, infected or corroded by the corrupt briny elements which coagulate among us, and which breed foulness and disease both in earth and stones, as well as in animals and plants. [111a] They are the jewels of the upper earth, which also shines with gold and silver and the like, and they are visible to sight and large and abundant and found in every region of the earth, and blessed is he who sees them. 

And upon the earth are animals and men, some in a middle region, others dwelling about the air as we dwell about the sea; others in islands which the air flows round, near the continent: and in a word, the air is used by them as the water and the sea are by us, [b] and the ether is to them what the air is to us. Moreover, the temperament of their seasons is such that they have no disease, and live much longer than we do, and have sight and hearing and smell, and all the other senses, in far greater perfection, in the same degree that air is purer than water or the ether than air. [c] Also they have temples and sacred places in which the gods really dwell, and they hear their voices and receive their answers, and are conscious of them and hold converse with them, and they see the sun, moon, and stars as they really are, and their other blessedness is of a piece with this. Such is the nature of the whole earth, and of the things which are around the earth; and there are divers regions in the hollows on the face of the globe everywhere, [d] some of them deeper and also wider than that which we inhabit, others deeper and with a narrower opening than ours, and some are shallower and wider; all have numerous perforations, and passages broad and narrow in the interior of the earth, connecting them with one another; and there flows into and out of them, as into basins, a vast tide of water, [e] and huge subterranean streams of perennial rivers, and springs hot and cold, and a great fire, and great rivers of fire, and streams of liquid mud, thin or thick (like the rivers of mud in Sicily, and the lava-streams which follow them), and the regions about which they happen to flow are filled up with them. 

And there is a sort of swing in the interior of the earth which moves all this up and down. It's like this. [112a] There is a chasm which is the most vast of them all, and it pierces right through the whole earth. Homer describes it in the words, "Far off, where is the inmost depth beneath the earth," a place that he and many other poets have called Tartarus. The swing is caused by the streams flowing into and out of this chasm, [b] and they each have the nature of the soil through which they flow. And the reason why the streams are always flowing in and out is that the watery element has no bed or bottom, and is surging and swinging up and down, and the surrounding wind and air do the same; they follow the water up and down, hither and thither, over the earth--just as in respiring the air is always in process of inhalation and exhalation; and the wind swinging with the water in and out produces fearful and irresistible blasts: [c] when the waters retire with a rush into the lower parts of the earth, as they are called, they flow through the earth into those regions, and fill them up as with the alternate motion of a pump, and then when they leave those regions and rush back hither, they again fill the hollows here, and when these are filled, flow through subterranean channels and find their way to their several places, forming seas, and lakes, and rivers, and springs. [d] Thence they again enter the earth, some of them making a long circuit into many lands, others going to few places and those not distant, and again fall into Tartarus, some at a point a good deal lower than that at which they rose, and others not much lower, but all in some degree lower than the point of issue. And some burst forth again on the opposite side, and some on the same side, and some wind round the earth with one or many folds, like the coils of a serpent, and descend as far as they can, but always return and fall into the lake. [e] The rivers on either side can descend only to the center and no further, for to the rivers on both sides the opposite side is a precipice. 

Now these rivers are many, and mighty, and diverse, and there are four principal ones, of which the greatest and outermost is that called Oceanus, which flows round the earth in a circle; [113a] and in the opposite direction flows Acheron, which passes under the earth through desert places, into the Acherusian Lake: this is the lake to the shores of which the souls of the many go when they are dead, and after waiting an appointed time, which is to some a longer and to some a shorter time, they are sent back again to be born as animals. The third river rises between the two, and near the place of rising pours into a vast region of fire, and forms a lake larger than the Mediterranean Sea, boiling with water and mud; [b] and proceeding muddy and turbid, and winding about the earth, comes, among other places, to the extremities of the Acherusian Lake, but mingles not with the waters of the lake, and after making many coils about the earth plunges into Tartarus at a deeper level. This is that Pyriphlegethon, as the stream is called, which throws up jets of fire in all sorts of places. The fourth river goes out on the opposite side, and falls first of all into a wild and savage region, which is all of a dark-blue color, like lapis lazuli; and this is that river which is [c] called the Stygian River, and falls into and forms the Lake Styx, and after falling into the lake and receiving strange powers in the waters, passes under the earth, winding round in the opposite direction to Pyriphlegethon, and meeting in the Acherusian Lake from the opposite side. And the water of this river too mingles with no other, but flows round in a circle and falls into Tartarus over against Pyriphlegethon, and the name of this river, as the poet says, is Cocytus. 

[d] Such is the name of the other world; and when the dead arrive at the place to which the genius of each severally conveys them, first of all they have sentence passed upon them, as they have lived well and piously or not. And those who appear to have lived neither well nor ill, go to the river Acheron, and mount such conveyances as they can get, and are carried in them to the lake, [e] and there they dwell and are purified of their evil deeds, and suffer the penalty of the wrongs which they have done to others, and are absolved, and receive the rewards of their good deeds according to their deserts. But those who appear to be incurable by reason of the greatness of their crimes-who have committed many and terrible deeds of sacrilege, murders foul and violent, or the like--such are hurled into Tartarus, which is their suitable destiny, and they never come out. Those again who have committed crimes, which, although great, are not unpardonable--who in a moment of anger, for example, have done violence [114a] to a father or mother, and have repented for the remainder of their lives, or who have taken the life of another under like extenuating circumstances--these are plunged into Tartarus, the pains of which they are compelled to undergo for a year, but at the end of the year the wave casts them forth--mere homicides by way of Cocytus, parricides and matricides by Pyriphlegethon--and they are borne to the Acherusian Lake, and there they lift up their voices and call upon the victims whom they have slain or wronged, to have pity on them, [b] and to receive them, and to let them come out of the river into the lake. And if they prevail, then they come forth and cease from their troubles; but if not, they are carried back again into Tartarus and from thence into the rivers unceasingly, until they obtain mercy from those whom they have wronged: for that is the sentence inflicted upon them by their judges. [c] Those also who are remarkable for having led holy lives are released from this earthly prison, and go to their pure home which is above, and dwell in the purer earth; and those who have duly purified themselves with philosophy live henceforth altogether without the body, in mansions fairer far than these, which may not be described, and of which the time would fail me to tell. 

So, Simmias, seeing all these things, why should we not strive for all possible virtue and wisdom in this life? Our hope is noble that these things, or something like them, are true. [d] I do not claim that my description of souls and their dwelling places is exactly correct in all details--no man of sense ought to say that. But I do say that, because the soul is immortal, something of the kind is true, and people should repeat these things to themselves as a kind of incantation, which is the reason why I have told the whole story at such length. [e] Therefore, let us be happy that we have cast away the pleasures and ornaments of the body as alien to us, and harmful in their effects. Let us be happy that we have followed after the pleasures of knowledge in this life; and have adorned our souls with their proper jewels, which are temperance, and justice, and courage, and nobility, and truth. [115a]  Dressed in this fashion our souls are prepared for their journey to the world below, when the time comes. 

You, Simmias and Cebes and the rest, all of you will depart at some time or other. To me already, as the tragic poets say, the voice of fate calls. Soon I must drink the poison; and I think that I had better repair to the bath first, in order that the women will not have the trouble of washing my body after I am dead. 

[b] When he had done speaking, Crito said: And have you any commands for us, Socrates--anything to say about your children, or any other matter in which we can serve you? 

Nothing particular, he said: only, as I have always told you, I would have you look to yourselves; that is a service which you may always be doing to me and mine as well as to yourselves. And you need not make professions; for if you take no thought for yourselves, and walk not according to the precepts which I have given [c] you, not now for the first time, the warmth of your professions will be of no avail. 

We will do our best, said Crito. But in what way would you have us bury you? 

In any way that you like; only you must get hold of me, and take care that I do not walk away from you. Then he turned to us, and added with a laugh: I cannot make Crito believe that I am the same Socrates who has been talking and conducting the argument; [d] he thinks that I am some other Socrates that soon will become a dead body--and he asks, How shall he bury me? Me!  I have spoken all day to show that when I have drunk the poison I will leave you and go to the joys of the blessed. But these words of mine, with which I comforted you and myself, have had absolutely no effect at all on Crito. He was the surety for me at the trial, for he promised the judges that I would remain, [e] but now you must be my surety to him that I shall not remain, but I shall run away. He must not sorrow at my death or be grieved when he sees my body being burned or buried. I would not have him say at the funeral, "Thus we lay out Socrates," or "Thus we follow him to the grave,"  for false words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil. [116a] Be happy, then, my dear Crito, and say that you are burying my body only, and do with that as is usual, and as you think best. 

When he had spoken these words, he arose and went into the bath chamber with Crito, who bade us wait; and we waited, talking and thinking of the day's conversation, and also of the greatness of our sorrow. [b] We felt as if our father was being taken from us and leaving us to pass the rest of our lives as orphans. 

When he had taken the bath his children were brought to him (he had two young sons and an elder one), and the women of his family also came, and he talked to them and gave them a few directions in the presence of Crito. Then he dismissed them and returned to us. 

Sunset was near, for a good deal of time had passed while he was within. [c] When he sat down with us again, little was said. Soon the jailer, who was the servant of the Eleven, entered and stood by him, saying: To you, Socrates, whom I know to be the noblest and gentlest and best of all who ever came to this place, I will not impute the angry feelings of other men, who rage and swear at me when, in obedience to the authorities, I bid them drink the poison--indeed, I am sure that you will not be angry with me; for others, as you are aware, and not I, are the guilty cause. And so fare you well, and try to bear lightly what must needs be; you know my errand. [d] Then bursting into tears he turned away and went out. 

Socrates looked at him and said: I return your good wishes, and will do as you bid. 

Then, turning to us, he said, what a pleasant fellow the man is: ever since I have been in prison he has always been coming to see me, and at times he would talk to me, and was as good as could be to me, and now see how generously he sorrows for me. But we must do as he says, Crito; let the cup be brought, if the poison is prepared: if not, let the attendant prepare some. 

[e] Yet, said Crito, the sun is still upon the hilltops. Many have taken the drink late, and after the announcement has been made to him, he has eaten and drunk, and indulged his senses. Do not hurry. There's still time. 

Socrates said: Yes, Crito, they are right to delay, [117a] for they think that they will gain by it, but I am right to go now, for there's nothing to be gained by drinking the poison in a few minutes from now. It would be ridiculous for me to cling to life when none is left. Please then to do as I say, and not to refuse me. 

Crito made a sign to the servant, and the servant left for some time but finally returned with the jailer carrying a cup of poison. 

Socrates said: You, my good friend, who are experienced in these matters, shall give me directions how I am to proceed. 

The man answered: You have only to walk about until your legs are heavy, and then lie down, and the poison will work. [b] At the same time he handed the cup to Socrates, who took it cheerfully, Echecrates. He peered under his eyebrows with his usual bullish glance and asked bravely: What do you say about making a libation out of this cup? May I, or not? 

The man answered: we only prepare just enough, Socrates. 

[c] I understand, he said. Yet I pray to the gods that the journey from here to the other world may prosper. This is my prayer, and may it be so. 

Then holding the cup to his lips, he calmly and easily drained it. Most of us had been able to control our sorrow until that point, but now we could no longer hold back our tears. I covered my face and wept for myself, for certainly I was not weeping for him, [d] but at the thought of my own misfortune in having lost such a companion. Crito found himself unable to restrain his tears, so he got up and moved away, and I followed, but at that moment Apollodorus, who had been weeping all the time, broke out in a loud wail that made cowards of us all. 

Socrates alone remained unmoved: What is this strange outcry? he said. [e] I sent the women away to avoid these noises. I have heard that it's a good omen to die in peace, so keep quiet and control yourselves. 

His words shamed us, and we stopped our tears. He walked about until, as he said, his legs began to fail, and then he lay on his back, according to the directions, and the man who gave him the poison now and then looked at his feet and legs; and after a while he pressed his foot hard and asked him if he could feel anything, and Socrates said, no. [118]  Then he pressed his calves and then his legs, and so upwards and upwards, and the body was cold and stiff. When the poison reaches the heart, that will be the end, he said. 

Socrates was beginning to grow cold about the groin, when he uncovered his face, for he had covered himself up, and said: Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Don't forget the offering.

[a] It shall be done, said Crito. Is there anything else? 

There was no answer, but after a moment we heard him move, and the attendant uncovered him. His eyes and mouth were set, and Crito closed them. Echecrates, this was the end of our friend, the man who we can call the best and wisest and most virtuous of any we have ever known.










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