failed to discover what that is to which the imposer of names gave
this name of temperance or wisdom. And yet many more admissions were
made by us than could be fairly granted; for we admitted that there
was a science of science, although the argument said No, and protested
against us; and we admitted further, that this science knew the works
of the other sciences (although this too was denied by the argument),
because we wanted to show that the wise man had knowledge of what he
knew and did not know; also we nobly disregarded, and never even
considered, the impossibility of a man knowing in a sort of way that
which he does not know at all; for our assumption was, that he knows
that which he does not know; than which nothing, as I think, can be
more irrational. And yet, after finding us so easy and good-natured,
the enquiry is still unable to discover the truth; but mocks us to a
degree, and has gone out of its way to prove the inutility of that
which we admitted only by a sort of supposition and fiction to be the
true definition of temperance or wisdom: which result, as far as I am
concerned, is not so much to be lamented, I said. But for your sake,
Charmides, I am very sorry-that you, having such beauty and such
wisdom and temperance of soul, should have no profit or good in life
from your wisdom and temperance. And still more am I grieved about the
charm which I learned with so much pain, and to so little profit, from
the Thracian, for the sake of a thing which is nothing worth. I think
indeed that there is a mistake, and that I must be a bad enquirer, for
wisdom or temperance I believe to be really a great good; and happy
are you, Charmides, if you certainly possess it. Wherefore examine
yourself, and see whether you have this gift and can do without the
charm; for if you can, I would rather advise you to regard me simply
as a fool who is never able to reason out anything; and to rest
assured that the more wise and temperate you are, the happier you will
Charmides said: I am sure that I do not know, Socrates, whether I have
or have not this gift of wisdom and temperance; for how can I know
whether I have a thing, of which even you and Critias are, as you say,
unable to discover the nature?-(not that I believe you.) And further,
I am sure, Socrates, that I do need the charm, and as far as I am
concerned, I shall be willing to be charmed by you daily, until you
say that I have had enough.
Very good, Charmides, said Critias; if you do this I shall have a
proof of your temperance, that is, if you allow yourself to be charmed
by Socrates, and never desert him at all.
You may depend on my following and not deserting him, said Charmides:
if you who are my guardian command me, I should be very wrong not to
And I do command you, he said.
Then I will do as you say, and begin this very day.
You sirs, I said, what are you conspiring about?
We are not conspiring, said Charmides, we have conspired already.
And are you about to use violence, without even going through the
forms of justice?
Yes, I shall use violence, he replied, since he orders me; and
therefore you had better consider well.
But the time for consideration has passed, I said, when violence is
employed; and you, when you are determined on anything, and in the
mood of violence, are irresistible.
Do not you resist me then, he said.
I will not resist you, I replied.