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.

He said further that retired places, and such as could be seen from afar, were very proper to erect altars and build temples in; for though we are at a distance from them, yet it is a satisfaction to pray in sight of the holy places, and as they are apart from the haunts of men, innocent souls find more devotion in approaching them.


Another time being asked whether courage can be learnt as an art or was a gift of Nature, he answered:  “In my opinion, as we see many bodies that are naturally more vigorous than others, and that better endure fatigue, so there are some souls that are naturally more brave, and look dangers in the face with greater resolution.  For I see some men, who live under the same laws, who are brought up in the same customs, and who are not all equally valiant.  Nevertheless, I believe that education and exercise add much to natural courage.  Whence comes it to pass that the Scythians and the Thracians durst not face the Lacedemonians with pikes and targets; and, on the contrary, that the Lacedemonians would not fight against the Thracians with shields and darts, nor against the Scythians with bows?  I see it to be the same in all other things, and that when some men are better inclined by nature for certain things than other men are, they very much advance and perfect themselves in those things by study and diligence.  This shows that they who are most favoured by Nature, as well as those to whom she has been less indulgent, ought to apply themselves assiduously to the things by which they would gain themselves a reputation.”

He allowed no difference between knowledge and temperance; and he held that he who knows what is good and embraces it, who knows what is bad and avoids it, is learned and temperate; and when he was asked whether he believed that they who know very well what ought to be done, but do quite otherwise, were learned and temperate?  “On the contrary,” answered he, “they are very ignorant and very stupid, for, in my opinion, every man who, in the great number of possible things that offer themselves to him, can discern what is most advantageous for him to do, never fails to do it; but all who govern not themselves well and as they ought, are neither learned nor men of good morals.”

He said likewise that justice and every other virtue is only a science, because all the actions of justice and of the other virtues are good and honourable; and that all who know the beauty of these actions think nothing more charming; as, on the contrary, they who are ignorant of them cannot perform any one virtuous action, or, if they attempt to do it, are sure to perform it in a wrong manner.  So that the persons only who possess this science can do just and good actions; but all just and good actions are done by the means of virtue, therefore justice and virtue is only a science.

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