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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Plato Bilingual Anthology : NO MAN IS VOLUNTARILY EVIL

from Timaeus, * 86.b-87.b, translated by B. Jowett

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And in general, all that which is termed the incontinence of pleasure and is deemed a reproach under the idea that the wicked voluntarily do wrong is not justly a matter for reproach. For no man is voluntarily bad; but the bad become bad by reason of an ill disposition of the body and bad education, things which are hateful to every man and happen to him against his will. And in the case of pain too in like manner the soul suffers much evil from the body. For where the acid and briny phlegm and other bitter and bilious humours wander about in the body, and find no exit or escape, but are pent up within and mingle their own vapours with the motions of the soul, and are blended, with them, they produce all sorts of diseases, more or fewer, and in every degree of intensity; and being carried to the three places of the soul, whichever they may severally assail, they create infinite varieties of ill-temper and melancholy, of rashness and cowardice, and also of forgetfulness and stupidity. Further, when to this evil constitution of body evil forms of government are added and evil discourses are uttered in private as well as in public, and no sort of instruction is given in youth to cure these evils, then all of us who are bad become bad from two causes which are entirely beyond our control. In such cases the planters are to blame rather than the plants, the educators rather than the educated. But however that may be, we should endeavour as far as we can by education, and studies, and learning, to avoid vice and attain virtue; this, however, is part of another subject.

καὶ σχεδὸν δὴ πάντα ὁπόσα ἡδονῶν ἀκράτεια καὶ ὄνειδος ὡς ἑκόντων λέγεται τῶν κακῶν͵ οὐκ ὀρθῶς ὀνειδίζεται· κακὸς μὲν γὰρ ἑκὼν οὐδείς͵ διὰ δὲ πονηρὰν ἕξιν τινὰ τοῦ σώματος καὶ ἀπαίδευτον τροφὴν ὁ κακὸς γίγνεται κακός͵ παντὶ δὲ ταῦτα ἐχθρὰ καὶ ἄκοντι προσγίγνεται. καὶ πάλιν δὴ τὸ περὶ τὰς λύπας ἡ ψυχὴ κατὰ ταὐτὰ διὰ σῶμα πολλὴν ἴσχει κακίαν. ὅτου γὰρ ἂν ἢ τῶν ὀξέων καὶ τῶν ἁλυκῶν φλεγμάτων καὶ ὅσοι πικροὶ καὶ χολώδεις χυμοὶ κατὰ τὸ σῶμα πλανηθέντες ἔξω μὲν μὴ λάβωσιν ἀναπνοήν͵ ἐντὸς δὲ εἱλλόμενοι τὴν ἀφ΄ αὑτῶν ἀτμίδα τῇ τῆς ψυχῆς φορᾷ συμμείξαντες ἀνακερασθῶσι͵ παντοδαπὰ νοσήματα ψυχῆς ἐμποιοῦσι μᾶλλον καὶ ἧττον καὶ ἐλάττω καὶ πλείω͵ πρός τε τοὺς τρεῖς τόπους ἐνεχθέντα τῆς ψυχῆς͵ πρὸς ὃν ἂν ἕκαστ΄ αὐτῶν προσπίπτῃ͵ ποικίλλει μὲν εἴδη δυσκολίας καὶ δυσθυμίας παντοδαπά͵ ποικίλλει δὲ θρασύτητός τε καὶ δειλίας͵ ἔτι δὲ λήθης ἅμα καὶ δυσμαθίας. πρὸς δὲ τούτοις͵ ὅταν οὕτως κακῶς παγέντων πολιτεῖαι κακαὶ καὶ λόγοι κατὰ πόλεις ἰδίᾳ τε καὶ δημοσίᾳ λεχθῶσιν͵ ἔτι δὲ μαθήματα μηδαμῇ τούτων ἰατικὰ ἐκ νέων μανθάνηται͵ ταύτῃ κακοὶ πάντες οἱ κακοὶ διὰ δύο ἀκουσιώτατα γιγνόμεθα· ὧν αἰτιατέον μὲν τοὺς φυτεύοντας ἀεὶ τῶν φυτευομένων μᾶλλον καὶ τοὺς τρέφοντας τῶν τρεφομένων͵ προθυμητέον μήν͵ ὅπῃ τις δύναται͵ καὶ διὰ τροφῆς καὶ δι΄ ἐπιτηδευμάτων μαθημάτων τε φυγεῖν μὲν κακίαν͵ τοὐναντίον δὲ ἑλεῖν. ταῦτα μὲν οὖν δὴ τρόπος ἄλλος λόγων.

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