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phaedo   


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,

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