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charmides,-or-temperance   


And they are right, and you would agree with them?
Yes, he said, certainly I should.
His approving answers reassured me, and I began by degrees to regain
confidence, and the vital heat returned. Such, Charmides, I said, is
the nature of the charm, which I learned when serving with the army
from one of the physicians of the Thracian king Zamolxis, who are to
be so skilful that they can even give immortality. This Thracian told
me that in these notions of theirs, which I was just now mentioning,
the Greek physicians are quite right as far as they go; but Zamolxis,
he added, our king, who is also a god, says further, "that as you
ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without the head, or the head
without the body, so neither ought you to attempt to cure the body
without the soul; and this," he said, "is the reason why the cure of
many diseases is unknown to the physicians of Hellas, because they are
ignorant of the whole, which ought to be studied also; for the part
can never be well unless the whole is well." For all good and evil,
whether in the body or in human nature, originates, as he declared, in
the soul, and overflows from thence, as if from the head into the
eyes. And therefore if the head and body are to be well, you must
begin by curing the soul; that is the first thing. And the cure, my
dear youth, has to be effected by the use of certain charms, and these
charms are fair words; and by them temperance is implanted in the
soul, and where temperance is, there health is speedily imparted, not
only to the head, but to the whole body. And he who taught me the cure
and the charm at the same time added a special direction: "Let no
one," he said, "persuade you to cure the head, until he has first
given you his soul to be cured by the charm. For this," he said, "is
the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that
physicians separate the soul from the body." And he added with
emphasis, at the same time making me swear to his words, "Let no one,
however rich, or noble, or fair, persuade you to give him the cure,
without the charm." Now I have sworn, and I must keep my oath, and
therefore if you will allow me to apply the Thracian charm first to
your soul, as the stranger directed, I will afterwards proceed to
apply the cure to your head. But if not, I do not know what I am to do
with you, my dear Charmides.
Critias, when he heard this, said: The headache will be an unexpected
gain to my young relation, if the pain in his head compels him to
improve his mind: and I can tell you, Socrates, that Charmides is not
only pre-eminent in beauty among his equals, but also in that quality
which is given by the charm; and this, as you say, is temperance?
Yes, I said.
Then let me tell you that he is the most temperate of human beings,
and for his age inferior to none in any quality.
Yes, I said, Charmides; and indeed I think that you ought to excel
others in all good qualities; for if I am not mistaken there is no one
present who could easily point out two Athenian houses, whose union
would be likely to produce a better or nobler scion than the two from
which you are sprung. There is your father's house, which is descended
from Critias the son of Dropidas, whose family has been commemorated
in the panegyrical verses of Anacreon, Solon, and many other poets, as
famous for beauty and virtue and all other high fortune: and your
mother's house is equally distinguished; for your maternal uncle,
Pyrilampes, is reputed never to have found his equal, in Persia at the
court of the great king, or on the continent of Asia, in all the
places to which he went as ambassador, for stature and beauty; that
whole family is not a whit inferior to the other. Having such
ancestors you ought to be first in all things, and, sweet son of
Glaucon, your outward form is no dishonour to any of them. If to
beauty you add temperance, and if in other respects you are what
Critias declares you to be, then, dear Charmides, blessed art thou, in
being the son of thy mother. And here lies the point; for if, as he
declares, you have this gift of temperance already, and are temperate
enough, in that case you have no need of any charms, whether of

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