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.


Another time he asked a general, whom the Athenians had lately chosen, why Homer calls Agamemnon the pastor of the people?  “Is it not,” said he, “because as a shepherd ought to take care of his flocks, that they be well and want for nothing; so a general ought to take care to keep his soldiers always in a good condition, to see they be supplied with provisions, and to bring to a happy issue the design that made them take arms, which is to overcome their enemies, and to live more happily afterwards?  And why does the same poet praise Agamemnon likewise for being—­

   ‘At once a gracious prince and generous warrior’?

For is it not true, that to gain a prince the character of being generous and a warrior too, it is not sufficient to be brave in his own person, and to fight with intrepidity; but he must likewise animate the whole army, and be the cause that every soldier behave himself like him? and to gain the reputation of a good and gracious prince, it is not enough to have secured his private affairs, he must also take care that plenty and happiness be seen in all places of his dominions.  For kings are not chosen to take care of themselves only, but to render happy the people who choose them.  All people engage in war only to secure their own quiet, and choose commanders that they may have guides to conduct them to the end which they propose to themselves.  A general, therefore, ought to prepare the way of good fortune to those who raise him to that dignity; this is the most glorious success he can desire, as nothing can be more ignominious to him than to do the contrary.”

We see by this discourse that Socrates, designing to give the idea of a good prince, required scarce anything of him but to render his subjects happy.


Socrates at another time, as I well remember, had the following conference with a general of the cavalry:—­

“What was your reason,” said Socrates, “to desire this office?  I cannot think it was that you might march first at the head of the troops, for the horse-archers are to march before you.  Nor can I believe it was to make yourself be known, for no men are more generally known than madmen.  Perhaps it was because you thought you could mend what was amiss in the cavalry, and make the troops better than they are, to the end that if the Republic should have occasion to use them, you might be able to do your country some eminent service.”  “That is my design,” answered the other.  “It were well you could do this,” said Socrates, “but does not your office oblige you to have an eye on the horses and troopers?” “Most certainly.”  “What course will you then take,” continued Socrates, “to get good horses?” “It is not my business to look to that,” replied the general; “every

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