Jowett: THEAGES

THEAGES

Persons of the Dialogue : DEMODOCUS, SOCRATES, THEAGES.

[121a] Demodocus : Socrates, I was wanting to have some private talk with you, if you had time to spare ; even if there is some demand, which is not particularly important, on your time, do spare some, nevertheless, for me.

Socrates : Why, in any case I happen to have time to spare, and for you, moreover, I have plenty. Well, you are free to say whatever you wish.

Demodocus : Then do you mind if we step aside here from the street into the portico of Zeus the Liberator ?

Socrates : As you think best.

[121b] Demodocus : Let us go, then. Socrates, it would seem that all growths follow the same course, both those that grow from the earth, and the animals, including man. In regard to the plants, as you know, we who cultivate the earth find it the easiest part of our work to make all our preparations that are needed before planting, and to do the planting itself ; but when the plant begins to grow, thenceforward we have a great deal of difficult and vexatious business in tending the new growth. [121c] Such, it seems, is also the case in regard to men : I take my own concerns as evidence for judging of the rest. For indeed I have found the planting, or the procreation — whichever one ought to call it — of this son of mine the easiest thing in the world ; but his upbringing has been vexatious and a constant source of alarm, so great are my fears for him. Among the many instances that I could mention, the desire which occupies him at the moment is a thing that especially alarms me : for it is not an ill-bred desire, but a dangerous one, since here we have him, Socrates, as he says, desiring to become wise. [121d] My opinion is that some of his fellow-townsmen, about his own age, who pay visits to the city, excite him with accounts of certain discussions they have heard there ; and in his envy of these he has long been pestering me with the demand that I should take due thought for his needs, and pay fees to some sophist or other who will make him wise. Now I do not mind so much about the fees, but I believe he is running into no slight danger [122a] where he is hastening. I did for a time restrain him with good advice ; but since I am no longer able to do so, I believe my best course is to comply with his request, in order that he may not resort, perchance, behind my back to somebody who will corrupt him. So I have come now on this very business of placing this youth with one of these sophists, or purveyors of wisdom, as they are held to be. It is a happy chance, therefore, that has thrown you in our way, as I should be particularly glad, with this plan of action in my mind, to ask your advice. Come, if you have any advice to give [122b] on what you have heard from me, you not only may, but should, give it.

Socrates : Well, you know, Demodocus, they do say that advice is a holy thing. And so, if ever it is to be accounted holy, it must be in this instance, in which you now seek it. For there is no more divine matter on which a mortal could take counsel than the education either [122c] of himself or of his relations. Now, first of all, let you and me come to an agreement as to what we suppose that this thing can be, on which we are taking counsel ; for it may happen that I conceive it to be one thing, and you another, and then when we have proceeded some little way in our conference, we may perceive how ridiculous we are, I the adviser and you the advised, in having no common ground in our notions.

Demodocus : Why, I think you are right there, Socrates, and we should do as you suggest.

Socrates : Yes, I am right, but yet not entirely, because I have a slight change to make. For it occurs to me that [122d] this youngster may not be desiring the thing that we suppose him to desire, but something else, and there again we may be still more absurdly taking counsel on some other thing.

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