True, he said.
And which, I said, is better-facility in learning, or difficulty in
Yes, I said; and facility in learning is learning quickly, and
difficulty in learning is learning quietly and slowly?
And is it not better to teach another quickly and energetically,
rather than quietly and slowly?
And which is better, to call to mind, and to remember, quickly and
readily, or quietly and slowly?
And is not shrewdness a quickness or cleverness of the soul, and not a
And is it not best to understand what is said, whether at the
writing-master's or the music-master's, or anywhere else, not as
quietly as possible, but as quickly as possible?
And in the searchings or deliberations of the soul, not the quietest,
as I imagine, and he who with difficulty deliberates and discovers, is
thought worthy of praise, but he who does so most easily and quickly?
Quite true, he said.
And in all that concerns either body or soul, swiftness and activity
are clearly better than slowness and quietness?
Clearly they are.
Then temperance is not quietness, nor is the temperate life
quiet,-certainly not upon this view; for the life which is temperate
is supposed to be the good. And of two things, one is true, either
never, or very seldom, do the quiet actions in life appear to be
better than the quick and energetic ones; or supposing that of the
nobler actions, there are as many quiet, as quick and vehement: still,
even if we grant this, temperance will not be acting quietly any more
than acting quickly and energetically, either in walking or talking or
in anything else; nor will the quiet life be more temperate than the
unquiet, seeing that temperance is admitted by us to be a good and
noble thing, and the quick have been shown to be as good as the quiet.
I think, he said, Socrates, that you are right.
Then once more, Charmides, I said, fix your attention, and look
within; consider the effect which temperance has upon yourself, and
the nature of that which has the effect. Think over all this, and,
like a brave youth, tell me-What is temperance?
After a moment's pause, in which he made a real manly effort to think,
he said: My opinion is, Socrates, that temperance makes a man ashamed
or modest, and that temperance is the same as modesty.
Very good, I said; and did you not admit, just now, that temperance is
Yes, certainly, he said.
And the temperate are also good?
And can that be good which does not make men good?
And you would infer that temperance is not only noble, but also good?
That is my opinion.
Well, I said; but surely you would agree with Homer when he says,
Modesty is not good for a needy man?
Yes, he said; I agree.
Then I suppose that modesty is and is not good?
But temperance, whose presence makes men only good, and not bad, is
That appears to me to be as you say.
And the inference is that temperance cannot be modesty-if temperance