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.

This discourse was the reason that Diodorus went to Hermogenes, and for a small gratification obliged him to be his friend; after which Hermogenes took particular care to please Diodorus, and sought all opportunities of serving him and of giving him content.



Let us now see how Socrates was serviceable to those who were desirous to qualify themselves for employments of trust and honour, by advising them to apply themselves diligently to the study of their duty, that they might acquire a perfect knowledge of it.

Having heard that there was arrived at Athens one Dionysodorus, who undertook to teach the art of war, he made the following discourse to one of his friends, who pretended to one of the highest posts in the army:—­

“It were a scandalous thing,” said Socrates to him, “for a man who aims to be chief over others, to neglect to learn how to command, when so fair an opportunity offers; nay, I think he would rather deserve to be punished, than the man who should undertake to make a statue without having learnt the sculptor’s trade; for as in war the whole fortune of the Republic is trusted to the general, it is to be presumed that his good conduct will procure success, and that his faults will be followed with great losses.  And, therefore, a man who should neglect to make himself capable of such an employment, and yet pretend to it, ought to be severely punished.”  By these reasons he persuaded this young man to get himself instructed.

After the youth had imagined that he had acquired some knowledge of the art, he returned to pay Socrates a visit, who, jesting him, addressed the company that were present in this manner:—­“Do not you think, gentlemen, that as Homer, when speaking of Agamemnon, gives him the surname of venerable, we ought also to bestow the same epithet on this young man, who justly deserveth to be called by that name, since, like him, he has learned how to command?  For, as a man who can play on the lute is a player on that instrument, though he never toucheth it; and as he who is knowing in the art of physic is a physician, though he never practise; so this young man, having learned to command is become a general, though not a man of us should ever give our voice to make him so.  On the contrary, it is in vain for him who knows not how to command, to get himself chosen; he will not be one jot a better general for it, no more than he who knows nothing of physic is a better physician, because he has the reputation of being one.”  Then turning towards the young man, he went on—­“But because it may happen that one of us may have the honour of commanding a regiment or a company in the troops that are to compose your army, to the end we may not be entirely ignorant of the military art, pray tell us by what he began to instruct you.”  “By

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