Sunday, March 23, 2014

Plato - Second Alcibiades

Second Alcibiades:  A discussion on weather men know what is really good or not.  On the nature of actions directed by truth.

1. The Best Prayer Ever:   King Zeus, whether we pray or not, give us what is good for us                                                                 What is not good for us, give us not, however hard we pray for it.”

2. It is best to know what is best:  “SOCRATES: So what we want is the person who knows one or other of these things [any how-to knowledge such as how to fight or how to give advice] but also has the knowledge of what is best—which no doubt is the same as knowledge of utility. . . So if someone does what he knows, or thinks he knows, and has in addition knowledge of utility, we will judge him a boon both to the state and to himself?”

ALCIBIADES:  Absolutely.”   pp. 604-605

3. “Knowing things “wrong”:  “SOCRATES: There is a verse which fits his case, where the poet complains of someone that “he knew a lot of things but knew them all wrong.”  P. 605

4. On Homer:  “SOCRATES: For you don’t think that Homer, the divinest and wisest of poets—for it is he who says that Margites knew a lot of things but knew them all wrong—didn’t know that it was impossible to know a thing wrong.”  pp. 605-606

5. How the Spartans pray:  “SOCRATES: They [the Spartans] pray the gods to give them first what is good and then what is noble; no one ever hears them asking anything more.”  p. 606

6. God gets to answer our prayers as He sees fit (Thy will be done):  “SOCRATES: Whether we are given what we pray for or the reverse is in the lap of the gods.”  p. 606

7. Homer tells us the Gods are not for sale:  “SOCRATES: In Homer you will find other similar stories.  He tells how the Trojans, when they pitched camp, “sacrificed to the immortals perfect hecatombs [an ancient Greek and Roman sacrifice of 100 oxen or cattle].  And how: The winds carried the delicious smell from the plain up to heaven.  But the blessed gods took none of it, and had no pleasure in it; So deep was their hatred of holy Ilium, and Priam, And the people of Priam of the ashen spear.

. . . For I don’t imagine that it is like the gods to be swayed by gifts, like some low moneylender; we make ourselves sound very silly when we boast that we do better than the Spartans on this score.”   p. 607

8. That which is of value to Gods and men of sound mind:  “SOCRATES: Gods and men of sound mind are more likely to hold justice and wisdom in especial honor; and none are wise and just but those who know how to behave and speak to gods and men.”  


Euphemisms - the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.

Polymath - a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Art of War, Sun Tzu

The translation I read, which is cited below, was done in 1910 by Lionel Giles.  The actual text is 45 pages long and divided into 13 “chapters”.  These chapters contain a total of 389 verses.  The book was far shorter than I had imagined, in light of its fame and impact.  Also it is usually sold in book stores in volumes containing extensive commentary.  

From the 389 “verses” I chose the following 40 without considering commentary or providing specific comments other than the bolded topic phrase before each quote. 

In general, I will note that the advice seems to be equally applicable to leading an army, a nation, a company, a scout camp, or a classroom.  I have double stared (**) the two “verses” I thought most powerful.

I. Laying Plans

1. Importance of war to the state:  1. Sun Tzu said: the art of war is of vital importance to the State.   p. 7

2.  The five constant factors of war: “3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.  4. These are : (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven: (3) Earth; (4) The Commander, (5) Method and discipline. 5, 6. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. 7. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.  8. Earth comprises distance, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances f life and death.   9. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.  10. By Method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling  of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.” p. 7

3. Deception: “18. All warfare is based on deception.  19. Hence, when ale to attack, we  must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”  p. 8

4. Guerrilla war: “21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him.  If he is in superior strength, evade him.”  p. 8

II. Waging War

5. On the danger of protracted war:  “2. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped.  If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.  3. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.  4. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity.  Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.  5. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.  6. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”  p. 10

6. How to motivate men to fight:  “Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards.”  p. 11

7. Prisoners of war:  “17. . . The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.”  p. 12

8. One must fight of VICTORY:  “19. In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.” p. 12

III. Attack by Stratagem

9. Breaking resistance better than winning battles:  “2. Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”  p. 13 

10. Victory without battle; think Epaminondas, Claudius, Sherman, Patton, and MacArthur:  “6. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures cities without laying siege to them, he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.”  p. 14

11. Importance of the General:  “11. Now the general is the bulwark of the State; if the bulwark is complete at all points; the State will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State will be weak.”  p. 14

12. Bad ruler brings misfortune – think Obama:  “12. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:- 13. (1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey.  This is called hobbling the army.  14. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army.  This causes restlessness in the soldier’s minds.”  15. (3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances.  This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.”  p. 14

13. Five essentials for victory:  “17. Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.  (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.  (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.  (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.  (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.  Victory lies in the knowledge of these five points.”  p. 15

IV. Tactical Dispositions

14. Peace through Strength:  “1. Sun Tzu said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.”  p. 16

15. Overwhelming military superiority – the Powel Doctrine:  “14. Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy.”  p. 17

16. Key tactics:  “16. The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.”  p. 17  

V. Energy

17. All music for few (five?) notes; all colors from few (five?) primary colors:  “7. There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.  8. There are not more than five primary colors, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever  been seen.”  pp. 18-19

18. Let nothing be as it seems:  “17. Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline, simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.  18. Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under a show if timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy; masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions.”  p. 19

VI. Weak Points and Strong

19. Don’t repeat tactics:  “Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulat4d by the infinite variety of circumstances.”  p. 23

VII. Maneuvering

20. Know the area – have a guide:  “13. We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country—its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps.  14. We shall be unable to turn natural advantage to account unless we make use of local guides.”  p. 26

21. On signaling:  “23. The Book of Army Management says: On the field of battle, the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of gongs and drums.  Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and flags.  24. Gongs and drums, banners and flags, are means where by the ears and eyes of the host may be focused on one particular point.”  p. 27

VIII. Variation in Tactics:

 22. Don’ts:  “3. There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must be not attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.  p. 29

23.  Five Flaws in a General:  “There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general:  (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction: (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.”  p. 30

IX. The Army on the March

24. Where to camp – where not to fight:  “2. Camp in high places, facing the sun.  Do not climb heights in order to fight.  So much for mountain warfare.”  p.31

25. Judging the enemies demeanor:  “38. When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths ,it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce.”   p. 34

26. Don’t underestimate your enemy:  “41. He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.”  p. 34

*27. On discipline:  “42. If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you, they will not prove submissive; and, unless submissive, then will be practically useless.  If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be useless.  43. Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity but kept under control by means of iron discipline.  This is a certain road to victory.  44. If in training soldiers commands are habitually enforced, the army will be well-disciplined; if not, its discipline will be bad.  45. If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual. ” pp. 34-35

X. Terrain

28. Balance between leaders and followers: “16. When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak, the result is insubordination.  When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers are too weak, the result is collapse.  p. 37

 30. The general must be strong:  “18. When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct; when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization.”  p. 38

31. On challenging the ruler:  “23. If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler’s bidding.”  p. 38

**32. How to treat the crew:  “25. Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.  26. If, however you are indulgent, but unable to make your authority felt; kind-hearted, but unable to enforce your commands; and incapable, moreover, of quelling disorder: then your soldiers must e likened to spoilt children; they are useless for any practical purpose.”  pp.  38-39

XI. The Nine Situations

33. Keep the “army” busy:  “22. Carefully study the well-being of your men, and do not overtax them.  Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength.  Keep your army continually on the move, and devise unfathomable plans.”  P 42

34. Advantage of desperation:  “24. Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear.  If there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm.  If they are in the heart of hostile country, they will show a stubborn front.  If there is no help for it, they will fight hard.” p. 42

35. No Omens:  “26. Prohibit the taking of omens, and do away with superstitious doubts. Ten, until death itself comes, no calamity need be feared.”  p. 42

36. The standard of Courage:  “32. The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach.”  p. 43

37. Burn the boats:  “38. At the critical moment, the leader of an army acts like one who has climbed up a height and then kicks away the ladder behind him.  He carries his men deep into hostile territory before he shows his hand.  39. He burns his boats and breaks his cooking-pots; like a shepherd driving a flock of sheep, he drives his men this way and that, and nothing know whither he is going.”   Pp. 43-44

38. Give “them” the challenge:  “58. Place your army in deadly peril, and it will survive; plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off in safety.  59. For it is precisely when a force has fallen into harm’s way that is capable of striking a blow for victory.”  pp. 45-46

XII. The Attack by Fire

39. Plan ahead:  “16. Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources.”  p. 48

40. Caution:  “17. Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.”  p. 48

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Plato - Alcibiades One

Alcibiades is a great lesson on teaching and politics.  In it Socrates portrays the role of a true teacher and what it is that any person must learn and do to be a good and just leader.  The nature of the soul is also discussed.

1. Platonic Love of Socrates for Alcibiades (from John Cooper’s introduction): “Platonic love is an intensely affectionate, but not a sexual, relationship: but with Socrates and Alcibiades it was also a teaching relationship, in which Socrates tried to help Alcibiades make the transition to manhood by his stimulating conversation.”  p. 557

 2. How Great a Desire?: "SOCRATES : Suppose one of the gods asked you, “Alcibiades, would you rather live with what you now have, or would you rather die on the spot if you weren’t permitted to acquire anything greater?”  I think you’d choose to die. What then is your real ambition in life?  I’ll tell you.  You think that as soon as you present yourself before the Athenian people—as indeed you expect to in a very few days—by presenting yourself you’ll show them that you deserve to be honored more than Pericles or anyone else who ever was.”  p. 559 

3. Socrates desire to be of value to Alcibiades: “SOCRATES :  I hope to exert great influence over you by showing you that I’m worth the world to you and that nobody is capable of providing you with the influence you crave, neither your guardian [Pericles] nor your relatives, nor anybody else except me—with the god’s help, of course.”  p. 560

4. One must teach what they know:  "SOCRATES :You’re getting up to advise them because it’s something you know better than they do, aren’t you?’  What would you reply?

ALCIBIADES:   Yes, I suppose I would say it was something that I know better than they do.

SOCRATES :So it’s on matters you know about that you’re a good adviser.

ALCIBIADES:  Of course.  p. 561

5. On what we know:  “SOCRATES: Now the only things you know are what you’ve learned from others or found out from yourself; isn’t that right?

ALCIBIADES:  What else could I know?

SOCRATES:  Is that right?  Would you have wanted to learn or work out something that you thought you understood?

ALCIBIADES:  Of course not.

SOCRATES: So there was a time when you didn’t think you knew what you now understand?

ALCIBIADES:  There must have been.”  p. 561

6. Those who know best should advise:  “SOCRATES: I suppose that’s because advice on any subject is the business not of those who are rich but of those who know it.”  p. 562

7. Just War – “Justification” of War:  “SOCRATES:  But suppose we’re at war with somebody—surely you know what treatment we accuse each other of when we enter into a war, and what we call it. 

ALCIBIADES:  I do—we say that they’re playing some trick on us, or attacking us or taking things away from us.

SOCRATES: Hold on—how do we suffer from each of these treatments?  Try to tell me how one way differs from another way.

ALCIBIADES:  When you way ‘way’, Socrates, do you mean ‘justly’ or ‘unjustly’?

SOCRATES: Precisely.

ALCIBIADES:  But surely that makes all the difference in the world.

SOCRATES: Really?  Who will you advise the Athenians to wage war on?  Those who are treating us unjustly or those who are treating us justly?

ALCIBIADES:   That’s a hard question you’re asking.  Even if someone thought it was necessary to wage war on people who were treating us justly, he wouldn’t admit it.

SOCRATES:  Because I think that wouldn’t be lawful.

ALCIBIADES:   It certainly wouldn’t.

SOCRATES:  Nor would it be considered a proper thing to do.


SOCRATES:  So you would also frame you speech in these terms.

ALCIBIADES:   I’d have to.

SOCRATES:  Then this ‘better’ I was just asking you about—when it comes to waging war or not, on whom to wage war and on whom not to, and when and when not to—this ‘better’ turns out to be the same as ‘more just’, doesn’t it?

ALCIBIADES:   It certainly seems so.”  p. 564

8. Homer on Justice:  “SOCRATES:  But I know you’ve seen this sort of dispute over questions of justice and injustice; or even if you haven’t seen it, at least you’ve heard about it from many other people—especially Homer, since you’ve heard the Iliad and the Odyssey, haven’t you?

ALCIBIADES:  I certainly have, of course, Socrates.

SOCRATES:  Aren’t these poems all about disagreements over justice and injustice?

ALCIBIADES:  Yes.”  pp. 567-568

9. Justice – v – Expedience:  “ALCIBIADES:   Actually, Socrates, I think the Athenians and the other Greeks rarely discuss which course is more just or unjust.  They think that sort of thing is obvious, so they skip over it and ask which one would be advantageous to do.  In fact, though, what’s just is not the same,  I think, as what’s advantageous; many people have profited by committing great injustices, and others, I think, got no advantage from doing this right thing.”  p. 569

10. Alcibiades does not know:  “SOCRATES:  Well then, you tell me that you’re wavering about what is just and unjust, admirable and contemptible, good and bad, and advantageous and disadvantageous.  Isn’t it obvious that the reason you waver about them is that you don’t know about them?”  p. 574

11. Those who don’t know but think they do:  “SOCRATES:  Well, since it’s not those who know, and it’s not those who don’t know and know they don’t know, is there anyone left except those who don’t know but think they do know”

ALCIBIADES:  No, they’re the only ones left.

SOCRATES: So this is the ignorance that causes bad things; this is the most disgraceful sort of stupidity.”  p. 575

12. Learn before you lead:  “SOCRATES:  Good God, Alcibiades, what a sorry state you’re in!  I hesitate to call it by its name, but still, since we are alone, it must be said.  You are wedded to stupidity, my good fellow, stupidity in the highest degree—our discussion and your own words convict you of it.  This is why you’re rushing into politics before you’ve got an education.  You’re not alone in this sad state—you’ve got most of our city’s politicians for company.  There are only a few exceptions, among them, perhaps, your guardian, Pericles.”  p. 575

13. Why Alcibiades feels he need not be better educated:  “ALCIBIADES: Let’s discuss it together, Socrates.  You know, I do see what you’re saying and actually I agree—it seems to me that none of our city’s politicians have been properly educated, except for a few.”

SOCRATES: And what does that mean?

ALCIBIADES:  Well, if they were educated, then anyone who wanted to compete with them would have to get some knowledge and go into training, like an athlete.  But as it is, since they entered politics as amateurs, there’s no need for me to train and go to the trouble of learning.  I’m sure my natural abilities will be far superior to theirs.”   p. 576

14. The weakness of leaders in a democratic state:  “SOCRATES:  Don’t you know that our city is at war from time to time with the Spartans and with the Great King of Persia?

ALCIBIADES:  You’re right.

SOCRATES: So since you plan to be leader of this city wouldn’t it be right to think that your struggle is with the kings of Sparta and Persia?

ALCIBIADES:  That may well be true.

SOCRATES: But no sir, you’ve got to keep an eye on Midias the cockfighter and such people—people who try to run the city’s affairs with their slave-boy hair styles’ (as the women say) still showing on their boorish minds.  They set out to flatter the city with their outlandish talk, not to rule it.  These are the people, I’m telling you, you’ve got to keep your eyes on.  So relax, don’t bother to learn what needs to be learned for the great struggle to come, don’t train yourself for what needs training—go ahead and go into politics with your complete and thorough preparation.”   p. 577

15. Genealogy of the Spartans and the Persians and the noble linage of Alcibiades:  “SOCRATES:Is it likely that natural talents will be greatest among noble families, or in other families?

ALCIBIADES:  In noble families, obviously.

SOCRATES:  Those who are well born will turn out to be perfectly virtuous, if they’re well brought up, won’t they?

ALCIBIADES:  They certainly will.

SOCRATES: So let’s compare our situation with theirs, and consider, first of all, whether the Spartan and Persian kings are of humbler descent.  We know, of course, that the Spartan kings are descended from Heracles, and the Persian kings are descended from Achaemenes, and that the family of Heracles and Achaemenes go right back to Perseus, son of Zeus.

ALCIBIADES:   Mine too, Socrates—my family goes back to Eurysaces and Eurysaces’ goes back to Zeus.”  p. 578

16. After relating the training of the kings of Persia and Sparta, Alcibiades’ assets, as seen by the queens Persia and Sparta, are presented:  SOCRATES: “I [Amestris, mother of Artaxeres] don’t see what this fellow could be relying on, except diligence and wisdom—the Greeks don’t have anything else worth mentioning.

But if she heard that this Alcibiades who is making this attempt is, in the first place, hardly twenty years old yet, and, secondly, entirely uneducated, and furthermore, when his lover tells him to study and cultivate himself and discipline himself so that he can compete with the king, he says he doesn’t want to and that he’s happy with the way he is—if when heard all that, I think she’d ask in amazement, “What in the world could this youngster be relying on?”  Suppose we were to reply, “Good looks, height, birth, wealth, and native intelligence.”  Then, Alcibiades, considering all that they have of these things as well, she’d conclude that we were stark raving mad.  Again, I think that Lampido, the daughter of Leotychides, wife of Archidamus and mother of Agis, who were all Spartan kings, would be similarly amazed if you, with your bad upbringing, proposed to compete with her son, considering all his advantages.

And yet, don’t you think it’s disgraceful that even our enemies’ wives have a better appreciation than we do of what it would take to challenge them?  No, my excellent friend, trust in me and in the Delphic inscription and ‘know thyself’.  These are the people we must defeat, not the ones you think, and we have no hope of defeating them unless we act with both diligence and skill.  If you fall short in these, then you will fall short of achieving fame in Greece as well as abroad; and that is what I think you’re longing for, more than anyone else ever longed for anything.”  pp. 580-581

17. On the importance and necessity of knowing oneself:  “SOCRATES: Is it actually such an easy thing to know oneself?  Was it some simpleton who inscribed those words on the temple wall at Delphi?  Or is it difficult, and not for everybody?”

ALCIBIADES:  Sometime I think, Socrates, that anyone can do it, but then sometimes I think it’s extremely difficult.”

SOCRATES: But Alcibiades, whether it’s easy or not, nevertheless this is the situation we’re in: if we know ourselves, but if we don’t know ourselves, we’ll never know how.”  p. 587

18. What is man? Body, soul and both:  “SOCRATES: Then what is man?

ALCIBIADES:  I don’t know what to say.

SOCRATES: Yes, you do—say that it’s what uses the body.


SOCRATES: What else uses it but the soul?

ALCIBIADES:  Nothing else.

SOCRATES: And doesn’t the soul rule the body?


SOCRATES: Now here’s something I don’t think anybody would disagree with.

Alcibiades: ALCIBIADES:  What?

SOCRATES: Man is one of three things.

ALCIBIADES:  What things?

SOCRATES: The body, the soul, or the two of them together, the whole thing.

ALCIBIADES:  Of course.

SOCRATES: But we agree that man is that which rules the body.

ALCIBIADES:  Yes, we did agree to that.

SOCRATES: Does the body rule itself?

ALCIBIADES:  It couldn’t.

SOCRATES: Because we said it was ruled.


SOCRATES: So this can’t be what we’re looking for.

ALCIBIADES:  Not likely.

SOCRATES: Well then, can the two of them together rule the body?  Is this what man is?

ALCIBIADES:  Yes, maybe that’s it.

SOCRATES: No, that’s the least likely of all.  If one of them doesn’t take part in ruling, then surely no combination of the two of them could rule.

ALCIBIADES:  You’re right.

SOCRATES: Since a man is neither his body, nor his body and soul together, what remains, I think, is either that he’s nothing or else, if he is something, he’s nothing other than his soul.

ALCIBIADES:  Quite so.

SOCRATES: Do you need any clearer proof that the soul is the man?  . . . So the command that we should know ourselves means that we should know our souls. “  pp. 588-589

19. True Love:  “SOCRATES: Now if there was someone who loved Alcibiades’ body, he wouldn’t be loving Alcibiades, only something that belonged to Alcibiades.

ALCIBIADES:  That’s right.

SOCRATES: But someone who loved you would love your soul.

ALCIBIADES:  By our argument, I think he’d have to.

SOCRATES: Wouldn’t someone who loves you body go off an leave you when your beauty is no longer in full bloom?

ALCIBIADES:  Obviously.

SOCRATES: But someone who loves your soul will not leave you, as long as you making progress. 

ALCIBIADES:  That’s probably right.

SOCRATES: Well, I’m the one who won’t leave you—I’m the one who will stay with you, now that your body has lost its bloom and everyone else has gone away.

ALCIBIADES:  I’m glad you are, Socrates, and I hope you never leave me.

SOCRATES: Then you must try to be as attractive as possible.

ALCIBIADES:  I’ll certainly try.

SOCRATES: So this is your situation: you, Alcibiades, son of Clinias, have no lovers and never have had any, it seems, except for one only, and he is your darling Socrtes, son of Sophronixcus and Phaenarte.”  p. 590

20. Danger of corruption in politics:  “SOCRATES:. . . I shall never forsake you now, never, unless the Athenian people make you corrupt and ugly.  And that is my greatest fear, that a love of the common people might corrupt you, for many Athenian gentlemen have suffered that fate already.  “The people of great-hearted Erecheus. “ might look attractive on the outside, but you need to scrutinize them in their nakedness, so take the precautions I urge.”  p. 591

21. What cities [nations] need – leaders with virtue:  “SOCRATES: So it’s not walls or war-ship or shipyards that cities need, Alcibiades, if they are to prosper, nor is it numbers or size, without virtue.

ALCIBIADES:  Definitely.

SOCRATES: So if you are to manage the city’s business properly and well, you must impart virtue to the citizens.

ALCIBIADES:  Of course.

SOCRATES: Is it possible to impart something you haven’t got?

ALCIBIADES:  How could you?

SOCRATES: Then you, or anyone else who is to be ruler and trustee, not only of himself and his private business, but also the city and the city’s business, must first acquire virtue himself.

ALCIBIADES:  You’re right.

SOCRATES: So what you need to get for yourself and for the city isn’t political power, nor the authority to do what you like; what you need is justice and self-control.

ALCIBIADES:  Apparently.

SOCRATES: Because my dear Alcibiades, when an individual or a city with no intelligence is at liberty to do what he or it wants, what do you think the likely result will be?  For example, if he’s sick and has the power to do whatever he likes—without any medical insight but with such a dictator’s power that nobody criticizes him—what’s going to happen?  Isn’t it likely his helth will be ruined?

ALCIBIADES:  You are right.

SOCRATES: And in a ship, if someone were free to do what he liked, but was completely lacking in insight and skill in navigation, don’t you see what would happen to him and his fellow sailors?

ALCIBIADES: I do indeed; they would all die.

SOCRATES:  Likewise, if a city, or any ruler or administrator, is lacking in virtue, then bad conduct will result.


SOCRATES: Well then, my good Alcibiades, if you are to prosper, it isn’t supreme power you need to get from yourself are the city, but virtue.

ALCIBIADES:  You’re right.

SOCRATES: But before one acquires virtue it’s better to be ruled by somebody superior than to rule; this applies to men as well as to boys.

ALCIBIADES:  So it seems.

SOCRATES: And isn’t what is better also more admirable?


SOCRATES: So it’s appropriate for a bad man to be a slave, since it’s better. 


SOCRATES: And vice is appropriate for a slave.

ALCIBIADES:  Apparently.

SOCRATES: And virtue is appropriate for a free man.

ALCIBIADES: Yes.”  pp. 594-595