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theaetetus   


Theodorus. Yes, Socrates, I have become acquainted with one very
remarkable Athenian youth, whom I commend to you as well worthy of
your attention. If he had been a beauty I should have been afraid to
praise him, lest you should suppose that I was in love with him; but
he is no beauty, and you must not be offended if I say that he is very
like you; for he has a snub nose and projecting eyes, although these
features are less marked in him than in you. Seeing, then, that he has
no personal attractions, I may freely say, that in all my
acquaintance, which is very large, I never knew anyone who was his
equal in natural gifts: for he has a quickness of apprehension which
is almost unrivalled, and he is exceedingly gentle, and also the
most courageous of men; there is a union of qualities in him such as I
have never seen in any other, and should scarcely have thought
possible; for those who, like him, have quick and ready and
retentive wits, have generally also quick tempers; they are ships
without ballast, and go darting about, and are mad rather than
courageous; and the steadier sort, when they have to face study, prove
stupid and cannot remember. Whereas he moves surely and smoothly and
successfully in the path of knowledge and enquiry; and he is full of
gentleness, flowing on silently like a river of oil; at his age, it is
wonderful.
Soc. That is good news; whose son is he?
Theod. The name of his father I have forgotten, but the youth
himself is the middle one of those who are approaching us; he and
his companions have been anointing themselves in the outer court,
and now they seem to have finished, and are towards us. Look and see
whether you know him.
Soc. I know the youth, but I do not know his name; he is the son
of Euphronius the Sunian, who was himself an eminent man, and such
another as his son is, according to your account of him; I believe
that he left a considerable fortune.
Theod. Theaetetus, Socrates, is his name; but I rather think that
the property disappeared in the hands of trustees; notwithstanding
which he is wonderfully liberal.
Soc. He must be a fine fellow; tell him to come and sit by me.
Theod. I will. Come hither, Theaetetus, and sit by Socrates.
Soc. By all means, Theaetetus, in order that I may see the
reflection of myself in your face, for Theodorus says that we are
alike; and yet if each of us held in his hands a lyre, and he said
that they were, tuned alike, should we at once take his word, or
should we ask whether he who said so was or was not a musician?
Theaetetus. We should ask.
Soc. And if we found that he was, we should take his word; and if
not, not?
Theaet. True.
Soc. And if this supposed, likeness of our faces is a matter of
any interest to us we should enquire whether he who says that we are
alike is a painter or not?
Theaet. Certainly we should.
Soc. And is Theodorus a painter?
Theaet. I never heard that he was.
Soc. Is he a geometrician?
Theaet. Of course he is, Socrates.
Soc. And is he an astronomer and calculator and musician, and in
general an educated man?
Theaet. I think so.
Soc. If, then, he remarks on a similarity in our persons, either
by way of praise or blame, there is no particular reason why we should
attend to him.
Theaet. I should say not.
Soc. But if he praises the virtue or wisdom which are the mental
endowments of either of us, then he who hears the praises will
naturally desire to examine him who is praised: and he again should be
willing to exhibit himself.

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