The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 214 pages of information about The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates.


But let us now see whether by dissuading his friends from a vain ostentation he did not exhort them to the pursuit of virtue.  He frequently said that there was no readier way to glory than to render oneself excellent, and not to affect to appear so.  To prove this he alleged the following example:—­“Let us suppose,” said he, “that any one would be thought a good musician, without being so in reality; what course must he take?  He must be careful to imitate the great masters in everything that is not of their art; he must, like them, have fine musical instruments; he must, like them, be followed by a great number of persons wherever he goes, who must be always talking in his praise.  And yet he must not venture to sing in public:  for then all men would immediately perceive not only his ignorance, but his presumption and folly likewise.  And would it not be ridiculous in him to spend his estate to ruin his reputation?  In like manner, if any one would appear a great general, or a good pilot, though he knew nothing of either, what would be the issue of it?  If he cannot make others believe it, it troubles him, and if he can persuade them to think so he is yet more unhappy, because, if he be made choice of for the steering of ships, or to command an army, he will acquit himself very ill of his office, and perhaps be the cause of the loss of his best friends.  It is not less dangerous to appear to be rich, or brave, or strong, if we are not so indeed, for this opinion of us may procure us employments that are above our capacity, and if we fail to effect what was expected of us there is no remission for our faults.  And if it be a great cheat to wheedle one of your neighbours out of any of his ready money or goods, and not restore them to him afterwards, it is a much greater impudence and cheat for a worthless fellow to persuade the world that he is capable to govern a Republic.”  By these and the like arguments he inspired a hatred of vanity and ostentation into the minds of those who frequented him.



In the same manner, likewise, he encouraged his hearers by the following arguments to support hunger and thirst, to resist the temptations of love, to fly from laziness, and inure themselves to all manner of fatigues.  For, being told that one of them lived too luxuriously, he asked him this question:  “If you were entrusted, Aristippus, with the education of two young men, one to be a prince and the other a private man, how would you educate them?  Let us begin with their nourishment, as being the foundation of all.”  “It is true,” said Aristippus, “that nourishment is the foundation of our life, for a man must soon die if he be not nourished.” 

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The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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