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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Plato Bilingual Anthology : BECOMING LIKE GOD

from Theaetetus, * 176a-177a, translated by B. Jowett

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OCRATES. Evils, Theodorus, can never pass away; for there must always remain something which is antagonistic to good. Having no place among the gods in heaven, of necessity they hover around the mortal nature, and this earthly sphere. Wherefore we ought to fly away from earth to heaven as quickly as we can; and to fly away is to become like God, as far as this is possible; and to become like him, is to become holy, just, and wise. But, O my friend, you cannot easily convince mankind that they should pursue virtue or avoid vice, not merely in order that a man may seem to be good, which is the reason given by the world, and in my judgment is only a repetition of an old wives fable. Whereas, the truth is that God is never in any way unrighteous-he is perfect righteousness; and he of us who is the most righteous is most like him. Herein is seen the true cleverness of a man, and also his nothingness and want of manhood. For to know this is true wisdom and virtue, and ignorance of this is manifest folly and vice. All other kinds of wisdom or cleverness, which seem only, such as the wisdom of politicians, or the wisdom of the arts, are coarse and vulgar. The unrighteous man, or the sayer and doer of unholy things, had far better not be encouraged in the illusion that his roguery is clever; for men glory in their shame -they fancy that they hear others saying of them, "These are not mere good-for nothing persons, mere burdens of the earth, but such as men should be who mean to dwell safely in a state." Let us tell them that they are all the more truly what they do not think they are because they do not know it; for they do not know the penalty of injustice, which above all things they ought to know-not stripes and death, as they suppose, which evil-doers often escape, but a penalty which cannot be escaped.

THEODORUS. What is that? 

ὁμοίωσις θεῷ

ΣΩ. Ἀλλ΄ οὔτ΄ ἀπολέσθαι τὰ κακὰ δυνατόν͵ ὦ Θεόδωρε - ὑπεναντίον γάρ τι τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἀεὶ εἶναι ἀνάγκη - οὔτ΄ ἐν θεοῖς αὐτὰ ἱδρῦσθαι͵ τὴν δὲ θνητὴν φύσιν καὶ τόνδε τὸν τόπον περιπολεῖ ἐξ ἀνάγκης. διὸ καὶ πειρᾶσθαι χρὴ ἐνθένδε ἐκεῖσε φεύγειν ὅτι τάχιστα. φυγὴ δὲ ὁμοίωσις θεῷ κατὰ τὸ δυνατόν· ὁμοίωσις δὲ δίκαιον καὶ ὅσιον μετὰ φρονήσεως γενέσθαι. ἀλλὰ γάρ͵ ὦ ἄριστε͵ οὐ πάνυ τι ῥᾴδιον πεῖσαι ὡς ἄρα οὐχ ὧν ἕνεκα οἱ πολλοί φασι δεῖν πονηρίαν μὲν φεύγειν͵ ἀρετὴν δὲ διώκειν͵ τούτων χάριν τὸ μὲν ἐπιτηδευτέον͵ τὸ δ΄ οὔ͵ ἵνα δὴ μὴ κακὸς καὶ ἵνα ἀγαθὸς δοκῇ εἶναι· ταῦτα μὲν γάρ ἐστιν ὁ λεγόμενος γραῶν ὕθλος͵ ὡς ἐμοὶ φαίνεται· τὸ δὲ ἀληθὲς ὧδε λέγωμεν. θεὸς οὐδαμῇ οὐδαμῶς ἄδικος͵ ἀλλ΄ ὡς οἷόν τε δικαιότατος͵ καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτῷ ὁμοιότερον οὐδὲν ἢ ὃς ἂν ἡμῶν αὖ γένηται ὅτι δικαιότατος. περὶ τοῦτο καὶ ἡ ὡς ἀληθῶς δεινότης ἀνδρὸς καὶ οὐδενία τε καὶ ἀνανδρία. ἡ μὲν γὰρ τούτου γνῶσις σοφία καὶ ἀρετὴ ἀληθινή͵ ἡ δὲ ἄγνοια ἀμαθία καὶ κακία ἐναργής· αἱ δ΄ ἄλλαι δεινότητές τε δοκοῦσαι καὶ σοφίαι ἐν μὲν πολιτικαῖς δυναστείαις γιγνόμεναι φορτικαί͵ ἐν δὲ τέχναις βάναυσοι. τῷ οὖν ἀδικοῦντι καὶ ἀνόσια λέγοντι ἢ πράττοντι μακρῷ ἄριστ΄ ἔχει τὸ μὴ συγχωρεῖν δεινῷ ὑπὸ πανουργίας εἶναι· ἀγάλλονται γὰρ τῷ ὀνείδει καὶ οἴονται ἀκούειν ὅτι οὐ λῆροί εἰσι͵ γῆς ἄλλως ἄχθη͵ ἀλλ΄ ἄνδρες οἵους δεῖ ἐν πόλει τοὺς σωθησομένους. λεκτέον οὖν τἀληθές͵ ὅτι τοσούτῳ μᾶλλόν εἰσιν οἷοι οὐκ οἴονται͵ ὅτι οὐχὶ οἴονται· ἀγνοοῦσι γὰρ ζημίαν ἀδικίας͵ ὃ δεῖ ἥκιστα ἀγνοεῖν. οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἣν δοκοῦσιν͵ πληγαί τε καὶ θάνατοι͵ ὧν ἐνίοτε πάσχουσιν οὐδὲν ἀδικοῦντες͵ ἀλλὰ ἣν ἀδύνατον ἐκφυγεῖν.

ΘΕΟ. Τίνα δὴ λέγεις;  

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