Style Study: Plato
"Well said, Cephalus," I replied; "but as concerning justice,
what is it?
-- to speak the truth and to pay your debts -- no more
than this? And
even to this are there not exceptions? Suppose that a friend
when in his
right mind has deposited arms with me and he asks for them
when he is
not in his right mind, ought I to give them back to him?
No one would
say that I ought or that I should be right in doing so,
any more than
they would say that I ought always to speak the truth to
one who is in
"You are quite right," he replied.
"But then, I said, speaking the truth and
paying your debts is not a
correct definition of justice."
"Quite correct, Socrates, if Simonides is
to be believed," said
said Cephalus, that I must go now, for I have to look
sacrifices, and I hand over the argument to Polemarchus
and the company."
not Polemarchus your heir?" I said.
be sure," he answered, and went away laughing to the
then, O thou heir of the argument, what did Simonides
according to you truly say, about justice?"
"He said that
the repayment of a debt is just, and in saying so he
appears to me to be right."
be sorry to doubt the word of such a wise and inspired
his meaning, though probably clear to you,
is the reverse of clear to
me. For he certainly does not mean, as we were
now saying that I ought
to return a return a deposit of arms or of
anything else to one who asks
for it when he is not in his right senses;
and yet a deposit cannot be
denied to be a debt."
the person who asks me is not in his right mind I am
means to make the return?"
said that the repayment of a debt was justice, he did not
mean to include that case?"
not; for he thinks that a friend ought always to do good
friend and never evil."
that the return of a deposit of gold which is
to the injury of
the receiver, if the two
parties are friends, is not
debt -- that is what you
would imagine him to say?"
are enemies also to receive what we owe to them?"
be sure," he said, "they are to receive what we
and an enemy,
as I take it, owes to an
enemy that which is due
to him --
that is to say, evil."
then, after the manner of
poets, would seem
to have spoken
darkly of the
nature of justice;
for he really
meant to say
is the giving
to each man what
is proper to
he termed a
must have been his meaning,"
heaven! I replied;
if we asked
due or proper
and to whom,
make to us?"
that which justice
we are to be guided
at all by the
analogy of the