Alcibiades II, Plato
Alcibiades II
Plato
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The Second Alcibiades, or Alcibiades II, is a dialogue traditionally ascribed to Plato. In it, Socrates attempts to persuade Alcibiades that it is unsafe for him to pray to the gods if he does not know whether what he prays for is actually good or bad for him. Socrates meets Alcibiades while the latter was on his way to pray, and warns him that one must be careful what he prays for, since the gods might actually grant his wishes. Alcibiades replies that one must be mad to pray for something harmful, but Socrates corrects him by saying that if ignorance was equated to madness, and considering the ignorant are so many, they would be in grave danger with all these lunatics running around.

Alcibiades II

by
Plato


Alcibiades II

Persons of the Dialogue:
Socrates
Alcibiades

SOCRATES: Are you going, Alcibiades, to offer prayer to Zeus?

ALCIBIADES: Yes, Socrates, I am.

SOCRATES: you seem to be troubled and to cast your eyes on the ground, as though you were thinking about something.

ALCIBIADES: Of what do you suppose that I am thinking?

SOCRATES: Of the greatest of all things, as I believe. Tell me, do you not suppose that the Gods sometimes partly grant and partly reject the requests which we make in public and private, and favour some persons and not others?

ALCIBIADES: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Do you not imagine, then, that a man ought to be very careful, lest perchance without knowing it he implore great evils for himself, deeming that he is asking for good, especially if the Gods are in the mood to grant whatever he may request? There is the story of Oedipus, for instance, who prayed that his children might divide their inheritance between them by the sword: he did not, as he might have done, beg that his present evils might be averted, but called down new ones. And was not his prayer accomplished, and did not many and terrible evils thence arise, upon which I need not dilate?

ALCIBIADES: Yes, Socrates, but you are speaking of a madman: surely you do not think that any one in his senses would venture to make such a prayer?

SOCRATES: Madness, then, you consider to be the opposite of discretion?

ALCIBIADES: Of course.

SOCRATES: And some men seem to you to be discreet, and others the contrary?

ALCIBIADES: They do.

SOCRATES: Well, then, let us discuss who these are. We acknowledge that some are discreet, some foolish, and that some are mad?

ALCIBIADES: Yes.

SOCRATES: And again, there are some who are in health?

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