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ignorance, while the expositor knows nothing himself; for this is unquestionably the meaning of the passage in which Nicias censures this very point as something contemptible in Laches. So also the assertion that it must be a matter of indifference whether the teacher is young and unknown or not, is certainly a defence of Plato himself in regard of his treatment of Lysias as well as Protagoras; and the other, in opposition to those who are of opinion that age is of itself to bring understanding, has a similar object in view. It cannot be superfluous to draw the attention of the reader of Plato to such particulars, partly because they bring to light still more the connection of these dialogues, partly that he may learn in time to estimate properly the constant presence of a purpose in the author's mind. This pervading connection then with the Protagoras indisputably secures to the Laches its place in the series of the dialogues of Plato, notwithstanding that Aristotle, when he speaks of courage in his ethical works, never distinctly mentions it. Nor is this circumstance to be wondered at, and it can excite no suspicion; for it would have been superfluous for one who disputes the Platonic views of the good in general as well as of virtue, to delay in particular over Plato's treatment of the detailed and popular parts of virtue, and his own objections to it. Moreover, all that is external is here so perfectly Platonic, and even in part to be explained likewise from the connection of the dialogue with the Protagoras, that not a doubt can remain upon any side in any one's mind. The richness of the by-work, the change of the speakers, the presence of mute persons, are altogether as it were a continuation of the Protagoras. And as regards the choice of persons, Lysimachus the son of Aristeides, and Melesias the son of that Thucydides who maintained for a long time the balance of power against Pericles with great ability, verify with much accuracy the remark first offered in the Protagoras, that the greatest statesmen were still incapable of instructing others in their art. Moreover they are clearly here for the additional purpose of defending youth, by an almost comically kept-up representation of well-meaning but incompetent and insipid old age; and in order to show how perfectly worthless objections grounded upon youth are, as extreme old age, most of all when it has nothing else to be proud of, is accustomed to treat even men of the ripest years depreciatingly as boys, as Lysimachus here treats Socrates. In the choice of the other persons it seems to have been a general object to repel the charge, that the Socrates of Plato only understood how to parade consequentially before boys and Sophists. Therefore there are indeed boys here, but mute; and the regular interlocutors are noble personages from among the first of their class, with whom Socrates argues upon that which they might fairly be supposed to understand; of courage, that is, with captains. And Laches may have been selected above the rest of them with the intention of ennobling Socrates as his comrade in campaign, and an eyewitness of his courage. And Nicias, of whom Plutarch says that he was by nature averse to precipitation and ambitious hopes, and only concealed his innate cowardice by chance successes in war, very appropriately defends the unusual theory of courage, which makes it more a matter of insight and ingenuity. Only the too prolix discussion of the first question regarding the art of weapon-practice, and the very agreeable though little appropriate tale of the sickle-spear of the utterly unknown Stesilaus, are not quite to be understood, and it might be difficult to come at any other information about it than that it is a luxurious excess of that pleasantry, of which, as is said in the Phaedrus, there must necessarily be an admixture in every piece of writing.
OF all the particular virtues applied in common life, as Socrates enumerates them in the Protagoras, Discretion was there discussed in the most unsatisfactory manner. At first it was only ironically represented as one and the same with wisdom, and afterwards, when its relation to justice was to be discussed, Protagoras, fearing the result, shot off in another direction. Hence, the Charmides very naturally arises as a second offset from that, with the view, as was done in the Laches in the case of courage, partly of confuting this notion of discretion and reinstating it as an independent virtue in the ordinary acceptation of the term, partly with that of establishing it anew in a higher sense. On behalf of the first it is here shown at large, that the particular exhibition of outward action, in which the nature of this virtue is ordinarily made to consist, may as easily be an imperfection as a perfection, and therefore cannot in any way claim to form an unconditional ethical notion. Neither tardy caution nor bashfulness, which Socrates himself recognises as the ordinary explanations of discretion, and which are conceived as opposed to impudence and precipitation, can be, as he shows, virtues in and for themselves. In the Laches the phenomena corresponding to courage, I mean boldness and perseverance, were less formally discussed. In this dialogue on the other hand, what was there worked out more circumstantially, is here brought forward in a shorter and less direct form. I speak of the proposition, that it is not by subdivision of the object that particular virtues can be defined, but that in the case of each and every one, we come back to the good as its sole and exclusive object. Now as regards the particular mode of stating the idea, it is only a deceptive appearance, though one which might haunt the minds of many readers, which, in this dialogue as well as in the Laches, would lead one to believe that Plato has only gone sceptically to work. For the view in which he gives to the one and indivisible virtue the title of discretion, is sufficiently shewn, even previously to that sceptical investigation, where he lays it down as the real health of the mind, and, in another passage, makes even Critias coincide in this position with great emphasis. Whoever then further connects with this the general proposition: no man can be discreet without knowing as a consequence of it, and also what Socrates allows to pass from Critias concerning self-knowledge, it is impossible that after combining the Laches and the Protagoras with this dialogue, he should continue in doubt as to Plato's opinion. And we would moreover leave it for the decision of readers who have thus arrived at a perfect understanding of the subject, whether setting aside the trifling advantages which this O
translation of ours of the Greek sophrosyne by the word besonmenheit, may have obtained in consequence of our former application of it in the Protagoras, Plato's idea could be expressed more appropriately in our language than by this term. That of moderation (Mássigung), as it was translated by Cicero, in which he seems to have had Aristotle in his mind more than Plato, is certainly not to be used at all. Socrates' transition from the one explanation, that discretion is self-knowledge, to the other that it is knowledge of knowledge and ignorance, might perhaps at first sight appear forced and sophistical. But if self-knowledge is knowledge of perfection and imperfection, of virtue or its opposite, and if virtue itself is a knowledge, which, rightly understood, must certainly be pre-supposed, and which Plato only ceased to repeat when the further repetition of it would have been tedious; then, certainly, self-knowledge is a knowledge conversant about knowledge or ignorance. And it is simply by means of this transition, and of the way in which this investigation prefaces the separation of the dialectic from the ethical, that the investigation of the particular notion of discretion is connected with the more general one of the nature of morals, which pervades all these dialogues, and the progress of which, moreover, is the reason why the Charmides has its place rightly assigned after the Laches. For the difference between the good and pleasure is here at once pre-supposed as recognised and granted, the required unity of knowledge and action in the province of ethics is brought nearer by the inquiry into the operation of virtue as separate and distinct from virtue itself, and above all the distinction between that higher species of