have anything better which you can suggest; and if I am likely to be
of any use, allow me to help you.
Simmias said: I must confess, Socrates, that doubts did arise in our
minds, and each of us was urging and inciting the other to put the
question which he wanted to have answered and which neither of us
liked to ask, fearing that our importunity might be troublesome
under present circumstances.
Socrates smiled and said: O Simmias, how strange that is; I am not
very likely to persuade other men that I do not regard my present
situation as a misfortune, if I am unable to persuade you, and you
will keep fancying that I am at all more troubled now than at any
other time. Will you not allow that I have as much of the spirit of
prophecy in me as the swans? For they, when they perceive that they
must die, having sung all their life long, do then sing more than
ever, rejoicing in the thought that they are about to go away to the
god whose ministers they are. But men, because they are themselves
afraid of death, slanderously affirm of the swans that they sing a
lament at the last, not considering that no bird sings when cold, or
hungry, or in pain, not even the nightingale, nor the swallow, nor yet
the hoopoe; which are said indeed to tune a lay of sorrow, although
I do not believe this to be true of them any more than of the swans.
But because they are sacred to Apollo and have the gift of prophecy
and anticipate the good things of another world, therefore they sing
and rejoice in that day more than they ever did before. And I, too,
believing myself to be the consecrated servant of the same God, and
the fellow servant of the swans, and thinking that I have received
from my master gifts of prophecy which are not inferior to theirs,
would not go out of life less merrily than the swans. Cease to mind
then about this, but speak and ask anything which you like, while
the eleven magistrates of Athens allow.
Well, Socrates, said Simmias, then I will tell you my difficulty,
and Cebes will tell you his. For I dare say that you, Socrates,