Jowett: CHARMIDES

CHARMIDES, or, Temperance

Persons of the Dialogue : SOCRATES, who is the narrator ; CHARMIDES ; CHAEREPHON ; CRITIAS. Scene : The Palaestra of Taureas, which is near the Porch of the King Archon.

The subject of the Charmides is Temperance or sophrosyne, a peculiarly Greek notion, which may also be rendered Moderation, Modesty, Discretion, Wisdom, without completely exhausting by all these terms the various associations of the word. It may be described as ‘mens sana in corpore sano,’ the harmony or due proportion of the higher and lower elements of human nature which ‘makes a man his own master,’ according to the definition of the Republic. In the accompanying translation the word has been rendered in different places either Temperance or Wisdom, as the connection seemed to require: for in the philosophy of Plato sophrosyne still retains an intellectual element (as Socrates is also said to have identified sophrosyne with sophia: Xen. Mem. iii. 9, 4), and is not yet relegated to the sphere of moral virtue, as in the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle (iii. 10).