Hipparchus

by Plato

translated by George Burges (1855)


PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Socrates and an anonymous friend.

SOCRATES:

What is the love of gain, and who are its lovers?

FRIEND:

They seem to me to be those, who think it worth while to make a gain from what is nothing worth.

SOCRATES:

Whether then do they seem to you to do so, while knowing that the things are of no worth, or not knowing? For if they do so not knowing, you call the lovers of gain senseless.

FRIEND:

Nay, I do not call them senseless, but thorough knaves and villains, the slaves of gain, and who know indeed that the things are worthless, from which they dare to make a gain, but yet through their shamelessness they dare to have a love of gain.

SOCRATES:

Do you then call a person of this kind a lover of gain? For instance, should a husbandman, while planting, and knowing the plant to be worthless, nevertheless think to make a gain from it when grown up, do you call such a person a lover of gain?

FRIEND:

The lover of gain, Socrates, thinks he ought to make a gain from everything.

SOCRATES:

Do not thus answer me at random, like a person injured by someone, but, giving your mind, answer me, as if I were questioning you again from the beginning. Do you not agree with me, that a lover of gain knows the value of that, from which he thinks it worth while to make a gain?

FRIEND:

I do.

SOCRATES:

Who then is he, that knows the value of plants, and in what time and place it is worth while to plant them? That we also may introduce something from the words of the wise, which the clever in law-suits employ for the sake of elegance.

FRIEND:

A husbandman, I think.

SOCRATES:

Do you then mean by the expression — It is worth while to make a gain — anything else than to think that one ought to make a gain?

FRIEND:

I mean this.

SOCRATES:

Now do not you, who are so young, endeavour to deceive me, your elder, by answering as you do at present, what you do not think but tell me truly, do you think that a husbandman exists, who knows it is not worth while to plant a certain plant, and yet fancies he will make a gain by such a plant?

FRIEND:

By Zeus, not I.

SOCRATES:

What then, think you that a horsedealer, who knows that the food which he gives a horse, is of no worth, does not know that it destroys the horse?

FRIEND:

I do not.

SOCRATES:

He does not think then that from such worthless food he will make a gain.

FRIEND:

He does not.

SOCRATES:

What then, do you think that a pilot, who has furnished his ship with sails and a rudder of no worth, does not know that he will sustain a damage, and be in danger of perishing himself, and of losing the ship and all it carries?

FRIEND:

I do not.

SOCRATES:

He will not think then that he will make a gain by worthless articles.

FRIEND:

He will not.

SOCRATES:

But does the general, who knows that his army carries worthless arms, think he will make a gain, or that he is worthy to make a gain by them?

FRIEND:

By no means.

SOCRATES:

But if a hautboy-player possesses a worthless hautboy, or a lyre-player a lyre, or a bowman a bow, or, in short, any other artist or skilled person possesses instruments or any other apparatus of no value, does he think he will make a gain by these?

FRIEND:

It appears he will not.

SOCRATES:

Whom then do you call lovers of gain? For surely they are not those, whom we have already mentioned, who, knowing what are things of no value, think they must make a gain by them. And thus, O wonderful man, according to what you say, no one is a lover of gain.

FRIEND:

But, Socrates, I mean to say, that those are lovers of gain, who, through insatiable avidity, are perpetually and beyond all measure, greedy after things that are small and worth little or nothing, and thus have a love of gain.

SOCRATES:

But surely, thou best of men, they do not know this, that they are worthless; for we have proved against ourselves, that this is impossible.

FRIEND:

So it seems to me.

SOCRATES:

If then they do so not knowing it, it is evident that,

not knowing it, they fancy things of no worth to be of great value.

FRIEND:

It appears so.

SOCRATES:

Do not the lovers of gain love gain?

FRIEND:

Yes.

SOCRATES:

But do you say that gain is contrary to loss?

FRIEND:

I do.

SOCRATES:

Is it therefore a good to anyone to suffer a loss?

FRIEND:

To no one.

SOCRATES:

But it is an evil?

FRIEND:

Yes.

SOCRATES:

Are men then injured by a damage?

FRIEND:

They are injured.

SOCRATES:

Is then damage an evil?

FRIEND:

It is.

SOCRATES:

But gain is contrary to damage?

FRIEND:

Contrary.

SOCRATES:

Gain is therefore a good?

FRIEND:

It is.

SOCRATES:

Do you then call those, who love a good, lovers of gain?

FRIEND:

It seems so.

SOCRATES:

You do not then, my friend, call the lovers of gain mad-men. But do you yourself love what is a good, or not love it?

FRIEND:

I do.

SOCRATES:

Is there a good which you do not love, but an evil which you do?

FRIEND:

By Zeus, there is not.

SOCRATES:

But you love all good things equally?

FRIEND:

I do.

SOCRATES:

Ask me, if I also do not. For I also shall acknowledge to you, that I love good things. But besides I and you, do not all the rest of men appear to you to love good things, and to hate evil?

FRIEND:

To me it appears so.

SOCRATES:

But have we not acknowledged that gain is a good?

FRIEND:

Yes.

SOCRATES:

In this way then, all appear to be lovers of gain; but that, in which we before mentioned, no one was a lover of gain. By employing then which assertion, would a person not err?

FRIEND:

Should, Socrates, one rightly apprehend what a lover of gain is, I think it is right to consider him a lover of gain who earnestly applies himself to, and thinks it worthwhile to make a gain from those things, from which the good do not dare to make a gain.

SOCRATES:

But do you not see, O sweetest of men, that we just now acknowledged that to make a gain is to be benefited?

FRIEND:

What then?

SOCRATES:

Because this also we previously admitted, that all men always wished for good things.

FRIEND:

We did.

SOCRATES:

Do not, then, good men wish to possess everything gainful, since such things are good?

FRIEND:

But not the things, Socrates, by which they are about to be hurt.

SOCRATES:

By "to be hurt" do you mean "to be damaged"? Or something else?

FRIEND:

No, but I mean "to be damaged."

SOCRATES:

Are persons damaged by gain, or by damage?

FRIEND:

Through both. For they are damaged by damage, and through iniquitous gain.

SOCRATES:

Does it then appear to you that anything useful and good is iniquitous?

FRIEND:

To me it does not.

SOCRATES:

Did we not then a little before acknowledge that gain is contrary to damage, which is an evil?

FRIEND:

We did.

SOCRATES:

And that being contrary to evil, it is a good?

FRIEND:

We granted this.

SOCRATES:

You endeavour then, you see, to deceive me, by designedly asserting the contrary to what we just now granted.

FRIEND:

By Zeus, I do not, Socrates; but you, on the contrary, are deceiving me; and I know not how, in your reasonings you turn things topsy-turvy.

SOCRATES:

Speak fair words. For I should not act correctly, if I were not persuaded by a man good and wise.

FRIEND:

Who is he? And why particularly say you this?

SOCRATES:

My fellow-citizen, and likewise yours, Hipparchus, the son of Pisistratus, one of the Philaidae, and the eldest and wisest of the sons of Pisistratus; who exhibited many other illustrious acts of wisdom, and was the first who introduced into this land the poems of Homer, and compelled the rhapsodists during the Panathenaea to go through them successively and in order, just as you know they do at present; and having sent for Anacreon, the Teian, a ship of fifty oars, brought him to this city, and always had about him Simonides of Ceos, having induced him to stay by great rewards and gifts. And this he did, wishing to instruct the citizens, in order that he might rule over them being the best of men nor thinking, that he ought to begrudge wisdom to any man, as being himself a highly educated person. And when such of the citizens as were living around the town had been educated well, and admired him for his wisdom, he likewise laid down a plan to instruct those in the country; and he setup for them statues of Hermes along the roads, in the middle of the city and of each of the wards; and afterwards selecting from his wisdom, on points he had partly learned, and partly discovered himself, what he deemed to be the cleverest idea, he put them into elegiac verses, and engraved them on the Hermae as his poems, and specimens of wisdom; in order that in the first place the citizens might not wonder at those wise inscriptions on the temple at Delphi, "Know thyself," and "Nothing too much," and the rest of that kind, but that they might deem the words of Hipparchus still wiser; and, in the next place, that passing by them, up and down, they might read them, and have a taste of his wisdom, and come from the fields and be instructed in the remaining branches of learning. And there are two epigrams. In some upon the left-hand sides of each of the Hermae there is sculptured a Hermes, saying that he was standing midway between the city and the ward; and in others upon the right-hand sides he says: — "This is the memorial of Hipparchus. Go on, having just thoughts." There are also many other beautiful poetical descriptions on other Hermae; and there is this in the Steiriac road, in which he says — "This is the memorial of Hipparchus. Do not deceive your friend." I would not then have dared to deceive you, being my friend, and disobey so great a man; after whose death, the Athenians were tyrannized over by his brother Hippias; and you have heard from all the old men, that only during those years did there exist a tyranny at Athens, and that during all the other period, the Athenians lived nearly as when Saturn reigned. But it is said by rather clever persons, that he did not die in the way which the multitude have thought, through the dishonour done to the sister of Harmodius respecting the carrying the sacred basket — for that is a silly reason — but that Harmodius was the bosom friend and pupil of Aristogeiton, who valued himself highly upon instructing a man, and fancied that Hipparchus would be his rival. But at that time it happened that Harmodius was the lover of one of the handsome and nobly-born youths — whose name persons have mentioned, but I do not remember — and that this young person did for a time admire Harmodius and Aristogeiton, as wise men; but afterwards associating with Hipparchus, he despised them; and that they, being very much annoyed at the dishonour, slew Hipparchus.

FRIEND:

You run the risk, Socrates, of either not considering me a friend; or, if you do think me a friend, of not being persuaded by Hipparchus: for I cannot be persuaded that you have not deceived me in I know not what manner, during the discourse.

SOCRATES:

But indeed, just as in the game of backgammon, I am willing to put back whatever part you please of the assertions already made, in order that you may not think you have been deceived. Whether therefore shall I retract this assertion for you, that all men desire good?

FRIEND:

Not for me.

SOCRATES:

But that to be damaged, and damage itself, is not an evil?

FRIEND:

Not for me.

SOCRATES:

But that gain, and to make a gain; are not contrary to damage, and to be damaged?

FRIEND:

Nor this neither.

SOCRATES:

But that to make a gain, as being contrary to evil, is not a good?

FRIEND:

Retract nothing of this kind at all for me.

SOCRATES:

It appears to you then, as it seems, that of gain one part is a good, and another an evil.

FRIEND:

Yes, to me.

SOCRATES:

I retract therefore this for you. For let it be, that one kind of gain is a good, and another kind an evil; but that gain itself is not more good than evil. Is it not so?

FRIEND:

Why do you ask me?

SOCRATES:

I will tell you. Is there food good, and bad?

FRIEND:

Yes.

SOCRATES:

Is therefore one of them more food than the other? Or are both of them similarly food? And does the one differ in no respect from the other, so far as each is food, but so far as one is good, and the other bad?

FRIEND:

Just so.

SOCRATES:

And is it not as regards drink, and all other things which are parts of things existing, that some at least are so circumstanced as to be bad, and others, good; and that they differ not at all from each other, in that they are the same just as one man is good, and another bad?

FRIEND:

Yes.

SOCRATES:

But one man is, I suppose, neither more nor less a man than another, neither the good than the bad, nor the bad than the good.

FRIEND:

You speak the truth.

SOCRATES:

Shall we not then think in like manner respecting gain, that both the good and the bad are similarly gain?

FRIEND:

It is necessary.

SOCRATES:

He, therefore, who has a good gain, does not in any respect make a gain more than he, who has a bad gain: for neither of these, as we have granted, appears to be more a gain than the other.

FRIEND:

True.

SOCRATES:

For to neither of them is the more or the less present.

FRIEND:

It is not.

SOCRATES:

But in a thing of this kind, to which neither of these accidents is present, how can any one do, or suffer, more or less?

FRIEND:

It is impossible.

SOCRATES:

Since, then, both are similarly gain and gainful, it is requisite that we should still further consider this — why do you call both of them gain? And what do you see to be in both the same? Just as if you had asked me about the recent question, why I called both good and bad food similarly food, I would have said — Because each is a dry aliment of the body, on this account I called them so. For that this is food, you would surely acknowledge; would you not?

FRIEND:

I would.

SOCRATES:

And there will be the same manner of answering respecting drink; that for the moist aliment of the body, whether it is good or bad, the name is drink; and for the rest of things, in like manner. Do you therefore endeavour to imitate me, by answering thus. When you speak of good gain and bad gain, as being both of them gain, what same thing do you perceive in them, that this too is gain? But if you are not able to answer me in this way, reflect, while I am speaking. Do you call a gain every acquisition that a person obtains, when he either spends nothing, or when, after spending less, he receives more?

FRIEND:

I seem to myself to call the latter gain.

SOCRATES:

Are you therefore speaking of such things as these? If a person after having been feasted and spending nothing, and indulging in good living, should become diseased?

FRIEND:

Not I, by Zeus.

SOCRATES:

But if he should obtain health after feasting, would he obtain a gain or damage?

FRIEND:

Gain.

SOCRATES:

This then is not a gain, to obtain any acquisition whatever.

FRIEND:

It is not.

SOCRATES:

Whether will he, who obtains what is an evil, or at least what is not a good, not obtain a gain?

FRIEND:

It appears so, at least if it be a good.

SOCRATES:

But if he obtains an evil, will he not obtain a damage?

FRIEND:

To me it appears so.

SOCRATES:

See then how you are again running round to the same point? For gain appears to be a good, but damage an evil.

FRIEND:

I really am at a loss what to say.

SOCRATES:

Nor unjustly are you at a loss. But, answer me still further this. If any one after having spent less, obtains more, do you say this is a gain?

FRIEND:

I do not say it is an evil, but if after having spent less of gold or silver money, he receives more.

SOCRATES:

I too am about to ask you this. For come, tell me, should a person spending half a pound of gold, receive double this weight of silver, would he obtain a gain or a damage?

FRIEND:

A damage surely, Socrates; for, instead of a value twelve times as much, the silver is only twice as much.

SOCRATES:

But yet he has received more. Or is not double more than half?

FRIEND:

But silver is not of the same value as gold.

SOCRATES:

It is requisite then, as it seems, that this, namely, value, be added to gain; for in this case do you not say that the silver, although being more than the gold, is not of equal value? The gold, although being less, you say, is of equal value.

FRIEND:

Very much so: for such is the fact.

SOCRATES:

Value, therefore, is gainful, whether it is small or great; but that which is valueless is gainless.

FRIEND:

Yes

SOCRATES:

By "value," do you mean any thing else than what it is worthy to acquire?

FRIEND:

I do not.

SOCRATES:

But by the expression "it is worthy to acquire," do you mean the useless, or the useful?

FRIEND:

The useful, certainly.

SOCRATES:

The useful, therefore, is a good.

FRIEND:

Yes.

SOCRATES:

Hence, thou most manly of all men, has not the lucrative come to us again a third or a fourth time, as being an acknowledged good?

FRIEND:

So it seems.

SOCRATES:

Do you remember, then, from whence this discourse of ours originated?

FRIEND:

I think I do.

SOCRATES:

If you do not, I will remind, you. You contended that good men are not willing to make every kind of gain, but of gains the good alone but not the iniquitous.

FRIEND:

It did originate from this.

SOCRATES:

But has not reason forced us to acknowledge, that all kinds of gain, both small and great, are good?

FRIEND:

It has forced me, Socrates, rather than persuaded.

SOCRATES:

But perhaps after this it will also persuade you. Now, however, whether you are persuaded, or in whatever manner you may be affected, you agree at least with us, that all kinds of gain are good, both small and great?

FRIEND:

I do agree.

SOCRATES:

And do you agree with me, or not, that all good men wish for all things that are good?

FRIEND:

I do.

SOCRATES:

But you said that bad men love gain of every kind, both small and great.

FRIEND:

I did say so.

SOCRATES:

According to your assertion, then, all men, both good and bad, would be lovers of gain.

FRIEND:

It appears so.

SOCRATES:

If then any person reproaches another with being a lover of gain, he does not correctly reproach him; for the very person so reproaching happens to be such a character himself.


Monadnock Valley Press > Plato