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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Persons of the dialogue: Socrates - Protarchus - Philebus
Translated by Benjamin Jowett - 79 Pages - Greek fonts
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Page 2

Soc. And you say that pleasure and I say that wisdom, is such a state?

Pro. True.

Soc. And what if there be a third state, which is better than either? Then both of us are vanquished - are we not? But if this life, which really has the power of making men happy, turn out to be more akin to pleasure than to wisdom, the life of pleasure may still have the advantage over the life of wisdom.

Pro. True.

Soc. Or suppose that the better life is more nearly allied to wisdom, then wisdom conquers, and pleasure is defeated; - do you agree? Pro. Certainly.

Soc. And what do you say, Philebus?

Phi. I say; and shall always say, that pleasure is easily the conqueror; but you must decide for yourself, Protarchus.

Pro. You, Philebus, have handed over the argument to me, and have no longer a voice in the matter?

Phi. True enough. Nevertheless I would clear myself and deliver my soul of you; and I call the goddess herself to witness that I now do so.

Pro. You may appeal to us; we too be the witnesses of your words. And now, Socrates, whether Philebus is pleased or displeased, we will proceed with the argument.

Soc. Then let us begin with the goddess herself, of whom Philebus says that she is called Aphrodite, but that her real name is Pleasure. Pro. Very good.

Soc. The awe which I always feel, Protarchus, about the names of the gods is more than human - it exceeds all other fears. And now I would not sin against Aphrodite by naming her amiss; let her be called what she pleases. But Pleasure I know to be manifold, and with her, as I was just now saying, we must begin, and consider what her nature is. She has one name, and therefore you would imagine that she is one; and yet surely she takes the most varied and even unlike forms. For do we not say that the intemperate has pleasure, and that the temperate has pleasure in his very temperance - that the fool is pleased when he is full of foolish fancies and hopes, and that the wise man has pleasure in his wisdom? and how foolish would any one be who affirmed that all these opposite pleasures are severally alike!

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