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EUTHYDEMUS by Plato, Part 04


There is no one, said Cleinias, who does not.
Well, then, I said, since we all of us desire happiness, how can we be happy?-that is the next question. Shall we not be happy if we have many good things? And this, perhaps, is even a more simple question than the first, for there can be no doubt of the answer.

He assented.
And what things do we esteem good? No solemn sage is required to tell us this, which may be easily answered; for every one will say that wealth is a good.

Certainly, he said.
And are not health and beauty goods, and other personal gifts?
He agreed.
Can there be any doubt that good birth, and power, and honours in one's own land, are goods?

He assented.
And what other goods are there? I said. What do you say of temperance, justice, courage: do you not verily and indeed think, Cleinias, that we shall be more right in ranking them as goods than in not ranking them as goods? For a dispute might possibly arise about this. What then do you say?

They are goods, said Cleinias.
Very well, I said; and where in the company shall we find a place for wisdom-among the goods or not?

Among the goods.
And now, I said, think whether we have left out any considerable goods.

I do not think that we have, said Cleinias.
Upon recollection, I said, indeed I am afraid that we have left out the greatest of them all.

What is that? he asked.
Fortune, Cleinias, I replied; which all, even the most foolish, admit to be the greatest of goods.

True, he said.
On second thoughts, I added, how narrowly, O son of Axiochus, have you and I escaped making a laughing-stock of ourselves to the strangers.

Why do you say so?
Why, because we have already spoken of good-fortune, and are but repeating ourselves.

What do you mean?
I mean that there is something ridiculous in again putting forward good-fortune, which has a place in the list already, and saying the same thing twice over.

He asked what was the meaning of this, and I replied: Surely wisdom is good-fortune; even a child may know that.

The simple-minded youth was amazed; and, observing his surprise, I said to him: Do you not know, Cleinias, that flute-players are most fortunate and successful in performing on the flute?

He assented.
And are not the scribes most fortunate in writing and reading letters?

Certainly.
Amid the dangers of the sea, again, are any more fortunate on the whole than wise pilots?

None, certainly.
And if you were engaged in war, in whose company would you rather take the risk-in company with a wise general, or with a foolish one?

With a wise one.
And if you were ill, whom would you rather have as a companion in a dangerous illness-a wise physician, or an ignorant one?

A wise one.
You think, I said, that to act with a wise man is more fortunate than to act with an ignorant one?

He assented.
Then wisdom always makes men fortunate: for by wisdom no man would ever err, and therefore he must act rightly and succeed, or his wisdom would be wisdom no longer.

We contrived at last, somehow or other, to agree in a general conclusion, that he who had wisdom had no need of fortune. I then recalled to his mind the previous state of the question. You remember, I said, our making the admission that we should be happy and fortunate if many good things were present with us?

He assented.
And should we be happy by reason of the presence of good things, if they profited us not, or if they profited us?

If they profited us, he said.
And would they profit us, if we only had them and did not use them? For example, if we had a great deal of food and did not eat, or a great deal of drink and did not drink, should we be profited?

Certainly not, he said.
Or would an artisan, who had all the implements necessary for his work, and did not use them, be any the better for the possession of them? For example, would a carpenter be any the better for having all his tools and plenty of wood, if he never worked?

Certainly not, he said.
And if a person had wealth and all the goods of which we were just now speaking, and did not use them, would he be happy because he possessed them?

 

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