The Palaestra of Taureas, which is near the Porch of the King
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.
Then sit down, and tell us the whole story, which as yet we have only
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
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.
You will see, he said, in a moment what progress he has made and what
he is like. He had scarcely said the word, when Charmides entered.
Now you know, my friend, that I cannot measure anything, and of the
beautiful, I am simply such a measure as a white line is of chalk; for
almost all young persons appear to be beautiful in my eyes. But at
that moment, when I saw him coming in, I confess that I was quite
astonished at his beauty and stature; all the world seemed to be
enamoured of him; amazement and confusion reigned when he entered; and
a troop of lovers followed him. That grown-up men like ourselves
should have been affected in this way was not surprising, but I
observed that there was the same feeling among the boys; all of them,
down to the very least child, turned and looked at him, as if he had
been a statue.
Chaerephon called me and said: What do you think of him, Socrates? Has
he not a beautiful face?
Most beautiful, I said.
But you would think nothing of his face, he replied, if you could see
his naked form: he is absolutely perfect.
And to this they all agreed.
By Heracles, I said, there never was such a paragon, if he has only
one other slight addition.
What is that? said Critias.
If he has a noble soul; and being of your house, Critias, he may be