Charmides, Plato
Charmides
Plato
1:20 h Ideas Lvl 10.23
The Charmides is a dialogue of Plato, in which Socrates engages a handsome and popular boy named Charmides in a conversation about the meaning of sophrosyne, a Greek word usually translated into English as "temperance," "self-control," or "restraint." When the boy is unable to satisfy him with an answer, he next turns to the boy's mentor Critias. In the dialogue, Charmides and then later Critias champion that Temperance is "doing one's own work" but Socrates derides this as vague. The definition given next of "knowing oneself" seems promising but the question is then raised if something can even have the knowledge of itself as a base. As is typical with Platonic early dialogues, the two never arrive at a completely satisfactory definition, but the discussion nevertheless raises many important points. This dialogue was translated into English by Benjamin Jowett in 1870.

Charmides

by
Plato


Charmides

Persons of the dialogue:
Socrates, who is the narrator, Charmides, Chaerephon, Critias.

Scene:
The Palaestra of Taureas, which is near the Porch of the King Archon.

Socrates, who has just returned to Athens, visits his old friends and tells them the news from the army at Potidaea.

Yesterday evening I returned from the army at Potidaea, and having been a good while away, I thought that I should like to go and look at my old haunts. So I went into the palaestra of Taureas, which is over against the temple adjoining the porch of the King Archon, and there I found a number of persons, most of whom I knew, but not all. My visit was unexpected, and no sooner did they see me entering than they saluted me from afar on all sides; and Chaerephon, who is a kind of madman, started up and ran to me, seizing my hand, and saying, How did you escape, Socrates? — (I should explain that an engagement had taken place at Potidaea not long before we came away, of which the news had only just reached Athens.)

You see, I replied, that here I am.

There was a report, he said, that the engagement was very severe, and that many of our acquaintance had fallen.

That, I replied, was not far from the truth.

I suppose, he said, that you were present.

I was.

Then sit down, and tell us the whole story, which as yet we have only heard imperfectly.

I took the place which he assigned to me, by the side of Critias the son of Callaeschrus, and when I had saluted him and the rest of the company, I told them the news from the army, and answered their several enquiries.

He proceeds to make enquiries about the state of philosophy and about the youth; and is told of the beautiful Charmides.

Then, when there had been enough of this, I, in my turn, began to make enquiries about matters at home — about the present state of philosophy, and about the youth. I asked whether any of them were remarkable for wisdom or beauty, or both. Critias, glancing at the door, invited my attention to some youths who were coming in, and talking noisily to one another, followed by a crowd. Of the beauties, Socrates, he said, I fancy that you will soon be able to form a judgment. For those who are just entering are the advanced guard of the great beauty, as he is thought to be, of the day, and he is likely to be not far off himself.

Who is he, I said; and who is his father?

Charmides, he replied, is his name; he is my cousin, and the son of my uncle Glaucon: I rather think that you know him too, although he was not grown up at the time of your departure.

Certainly, I know him, I said, for he was remarkable even then when he was still a child, and I should imagine that by this time he must be almost a young man.

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