“Democracy in America” by Tocqueville (Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 8) (1835)

Chapter 8: What Tempers the Tyranny of the Majority in the United States

  • I – Absence of Administrative Centralization
    • 2 types of centralization – government & administrative
      • Only government centralization in the US
      • If directing power had both, there’s be no freedom because it have the right to command, & the faculty & habit to perform everything
      • US lacks the tools of tyrants
    • Central government only occupied with small number of matters & doesn’t regulate secondary concerns, nor has the desire to do so
      • wouldn’t expand absolute authority of central government
      • majority can’t make all citizens obey in everything & at anytime
    • Central government’s commands carried out by agents but retarded by city & county governments, who divide the popular will so that even with oppressive laws, enforcement is difficult because of decentralization
  • II – The Temper of the American Legal Profession and How it Serves to Counterbalance Democracy
    • Prestige & influence of lawyers are strongest barriers against the faults of Democracy
      • European political movements are led by lawyers either against authorities or on behalf of authorities
        • Extends power of the king or aristocracy
      • Lawyers have habits & tastes for formality, not the revolutionary spirit, & have privilege of intellectual class with aristocratic tastes
    • In free governments, lawyers are in the leading ranks of the parties, along with aristocracy
      • All democratic movements are led by lawyers
      • Aristocracy & lawyers make natural allies but lawyers have the ability to overthrow governments
        • Love ordered life -> authority is the guarantor of order
        • Less afraid of tyranny than arbitrariness
    • Democracy favors political power for lawyers because when the rich, noble & prince are excluded from government, lawyers take over
    • If they gravitate toward aristocracy & prince, the people can bring them back with the promise of powers
      • Lawyers don’t want to overthrow Democracies but to try to guide it with familiar methods
      • One with the people but aristocratic in habits – make natural liaison between the two
        • Aristocratic nature of the legal mind is largest in the UK & US due to common law & legal procedures
      • UK & US lawyers look at what’s been done while French lawyers look at what’s wished to be done.
      • French lawyers more interested in their own opinions than US & UK lawyers who defer to ancestors, tradition & precedents
        • French laws are opaque but clearly available for all to read.
        • US & UK laws require reading precedents & interpreting them like Egyptian priests
    • In UK, lawyers are the cadet branch of aristocracy. They value laws not because they’re good but because they are old, & don’t want to innovate
    • In the US, people distrust the rich but lawyers effectively make up the political & intellectual upper class & only stand to lose from innovation – making them fairly conservative
      • US’s form of aristocracy
    • Lawyers apply a brake to public passions & ideas
      • Judges are lawyers who like the stability of their office, where their knowledge gives them high standing among peers & political power gives him privilege
        • Judges can be removed by the legislature & some are even elected
          • May lead to bad results someday
    • Americans are reluctant to change civil laws
    • Hardly a political question that doesn’t turn into a judicial one
      • Legal language has been introduced into common speech because it infiltrates society
  • III – The Jury in the United States Considered as a Political Institution
    • Judicial Aspect – English started juries when they were barbarians & have grown attached to it, especially with Enlightenment & have spread it all around the world
    • Political institution – a jury is made of citizens selected by chance & given the right to judge. May have aristocratic members but juries have a republican element – real control is in people’s hands, not the rulers’.
      • True sanction of political law is penal sanction & when that’s missing, law loses power.
      • Man who’s judge in a criminal trial is true master of society
        • Jury puts control into people’s hands
        • UK uses aristocratic juries making it an aristocratic society
        • US – any citizen who votes can be a jury member -> sovereignty of the people as universal suffrage.
          • Responsible for execution of laws along with legislature who has the duty of making laws
    • Laws unsteady if unsupported by mores, which are the only tough & durable power in a nation.
      • Criminal & civil juries -> System infiltrates into business of life & has influence on national character by instilling habits of judicial on everyone’s minds & are the best way to prepare a people to be free
      • Spreads respect for court decisions & idea of right throughout all classes, teaching equity in practice & invests each citizen with magisterial office & a duty toward society & share in government
    • Greatest Advantage – effective in shaping a nation’s judgment & increasing its natural rights
      • it is a free school, always open, where the juror learns his own rights & comes in contact with the best educated & most enlightened members with practical lessons in laws
      • Judges & lawyers only aristocratic body to check people’s movements but without physical power & only influence on people’s mind
      • Civil suits – judge acts a disinterested arbiter but the jury is mostly incompetent & useless.

“Democracy in America” by Tocqueville (Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 7)

Chapter 7: The Omnipotence of the Majority in the United States and Its Effects

  • Democratic government’s essence is absolute sovereignty of the will of the majority
    • Legislature is chose to represent the majority directly for short terms – almost all government power is here
    • Laws weaken the executive to the point where it has no stability
    • Moral authority of majority rule is the number of representations is more important than how they’re chosen & there’s more wisdom in an elected body than in one man
      • power seems more legitimate it by majority
    • vs. ancien régime France – king could do no wrong & any blame was put on advisers, making obedience easier by exonerating the king of responsibility for outcome
    • Parties affect respect for majority because if nation is divided by irreconcilable differences, majority is disregarded as unpleasant to submit to
      • Aristocracy would have to give up its privileges to rule like a majority
  • I – How in America the Omnipotence of the Majority Increases the Legislative and Administrative Instability Natural to Democracies
    • Instability comes from turnover of representatives & Democracy is only applied to most important matters
      • laws & constitutions change, but activity never slows down which causes instability
      • omnipotence of majority & quick execution of laws make laws unstable because improvements are being made all the time
        • e.g. Prison reform was brought up, public got excited, prisoners & prisons were reformed due to the majority wanting it. Penitentiaries compared to old prisons & it became obvious new system was better.
  • II – Tyranny of the Majority
    • Majority shouldn’t have complete control
      • Justice forms boundary to people’s rights & majority is merely a representation of society – can’t go beyond justice & reason
      • Juxtapose majority to minority – no difference in character, only number
    • No such thing as a “mixed government” – society has some principle of action which dominates others
      • When contrary principles occur, revolutions happen & society crumbles
    • Necessary to place one social power over others but freedom is in trouble if that power can’t be restrained & moderated
    • When omnipotence in an authority, seeds of tyranny planted
      • in US, there’s a shortage of guarantees against tyranny
    • If you suffer injustice in US, where do you turn to?
      • All institutions are represented by majority
  • III – Effect of the Omnipotence of the Majority on the Arbitrary Power of the American Public Officials
    • Tyranny can use law as an instrument – no longer arbitrary but usually makes use of arbitrariness, can do without it
    • Arbitrary power can be non-tyrannical if used in public interest
    • Omnipotence of majority favors legal despotism of legislators & arbitrary power & magistrate
      • public functionaries passive agents – freer but rarely abuse power
  • IV – The Power Exercised by the Majority in America over Thought
    • Absolute monarchy can’t completely control thoughts hostile to it from circulating in courts & public
    • King’s power is physical, controlling actions not desires
    • People in US talk when majority is in doubt & then shut up when it’s clear, & act accordingly
      • Less independence of mind & freedom of discussion in the US
      • Only one authority & source of strength/success – nothing outside of it
    • Democracy restrains the intellectual area, threatening those outside of what’s acceptable it with ostracism & persecution
      • Bruyère & Molière criticized government of Louis XIV. As dangerous as this was in France, it would never happen in the US
      • Majority in US lives in perpetual state of self-adoration
    • No literary geniuses because there’s no freedom of spirit – absolutely necessary for them to arise
      • Even Spain under the Inquisition had opposition in public arena
  • V – Effects of the Majority’s Tyranny on American National Character; the Courtier Spirit in the United States
    • Outstanding politicians are rare due to despotism of majority in the US
      • A ton of them during the Revolution to guide men without tyrannizing them
      • Intellectual movement & their greatness brought honor to the nation
    • Courtiers flattered absolute monarchs but majority don’t, & only submitted out of weakness, rather than to abase themselves in bootlicking
      • In democracy, all opinions are given, & public & private life is mingled
        • As in the spirit of the court, put within the reach of all classes to participate
    • Majority having absolute & irresistible sway causes many to renounce their rights if they diverge from it
    • Not many willing to stray from public opinion – which is completely different to the generation of the Revolution
    • Despotism corrupts a man who submits to it than the man who imposes it. The absolute monarch may have virtues but courtiers are always vile.
    • American moralists excuse this by appealing to the majority’s vanity
  • VI – The Greatest Danger to the American Republics Comes from the Omnipotence of the Majority
    • governments collapse from impotence or tyranny – either power slips from its grasp or is taken from it
    • Anarchy in Democracy seen as nature of a democratic state to be weak but really, government influence stops during a war between 2 factions
      • Always abuse of strength & ill use of resources brings the government down
      • Usually from tyranny or inability – not impotence
    • Governments of US more energetic than absolute monarchs of Europe
    • If freedom is lost in America, it’ll be due to omnipotence of the majority making minorities resort to desperation & physical force
      • Madison – justice is the purpose of government & civil society. When a majority can oppress the weaker, anarchy reigns & we go back to a state of nature
      • Jefferson – tyranny exists in the executive but mostly in the legislative. Keep an eye on both

“Democracy in America” by Tocqueville (Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 6) (1835)

Chapter 6: The Real Advantages Derived by American Society From Democratic Government

  • I – The General Tendency of Laws Under the Sway of American Democracy and the Instincts of Those Who Apply Them
    • defects of Democracy are obvious but the benefits are only seen in the long run
      • laws can be defective & incomplete
      • most of them violate rights or sanction dangerous ones
    • If a legislator wants to favor one at the expense of many he has to propose it quickly & without much attention to it
      • efficiency of passage makes it dangerous
    • Aristocracy is more skillful in legislating then Democracy, not subject to transitory impulses, & moves with intelligence & efficiency
    • Democracy’s laws are defective or untimely but often unintentionally works against itself
      • If a society organized by nature or Constitution, can tolerate passing effect of bad laws & the general tendency of laws without disaster
        • In America, great privilege is to be able to make retrievable mistakes
    • American democracy often makes mistakes in choice of men it entrusts power
    • Democracy’s rulers are less honest & capable but the governed are more enlightened & more alert
      • People more occupied with own affairs, jealous of their rights & prevent representatives from deviating from public’s interests
      • Democratic magistrates may abuse power but only have it for a short time
    • Rulers should have virtues & talents but shouldn’t have interests contrary to the governed
    • Political structure equally favors growth & prosperity for all classes
      • Classes like distinct nations within a nation
      • It’s dangerous to entrust the fate of all to one class just as it is to entrust one nation’s fate to another
    • When rich alone rule, poor’s interests are in danger
      • When poor alone rule, rich’s interests are in danger
    • Advantage to Democracy to serve the well-being for the greatest number
      • Those entrusted are often inferior in capacity & morality
      • interest is mingled & identified with the majority
      • Power is untrustworthy & mistake-prone but will never systematically follow a tendency hostile to the majority
    • Bad administration’s effect small due to terms of office being short
      • corruption & incapacity not in common interests of men
      • Won’t work in concert – vices of magistrates are personal & hardly shared
    • Aristocracy is distinct from majority’s interest
      • Aristocratic magistrates think in the long term, sees class spirit & unconsciously shapes society to convenience of their descendants
    • Only England has a liberal aristocracy with Enlightenment but the welfare of the poor has been sacrificed for that of the rich
    • US officials have no class interest to promote
      • government is beneficial even if rulers are inept & contemptible
      • tends to promote general prosperity in spite of vices & mistakes
      • aristocratic institutions have secret bias to contribute to afflictions of the country
        • Good men do evil without intending it
      • US – brings good results without thinking
  • II – Public Spirit in the United States
    • Older form of Patriotism from feeling tying a man to where he was born
      • habits, ancestors, memories, tradition
      • similar to religious zeal – doesn’t reason – feels & acts
      • Can be personified in a monarch & people are proud of his power
      • decays in peace & grows in a crisis
      • When mores are simple, society rests & legitimacy is not contested
    • New for of Patriotism – more rational, less generous, more creative, less ardent, longer lasting, enlightened, grows with help from laws, rights are mingled with personal interest
    • Man understands the country’s well-being influences his own & laws allow him to contribute to it.
      • Gives him an interest in its prosperity
      • At first, it just seems useful, then he thinks he’s created it
    • Maybe the best way to interest people in the fate of their country is to give them a stake in it
    • The newly arrived take such an interest in new country because they are actively taking part in it
    • Common man understands influence of general prosperity because it’s his responsibility
    • Americans feel duty to defend what’s criticized
      • But sometimes Patriotism turns into national pride, childishness & vanity
  • III – The Idea of Rights in the United States
    • Virtues & rights are mingled
      • Rights have defined the nature of license & tyranny
      • with them we can be independent without arrogance & obedient without servility
    • Submission to force debases a man because he knows a fellow mortal has the right to give him orders
    • No man can be great without virtue & no nation can be great without respect for rights
    • Children grab what they can & must be taught to respect property & that it can be taken from them too
      • Eventually learns to respect others’ property
    • America has no proletarians – everybody’s got some possession to defend
      • High idea of political rights because they all have some & don’t want to be violated themselves
    • Democracy – political rights to benefit the least of the citizens & property is within the reach of all
    • New form of Patriotism
      • beliefs giving way to arguments & feelings giving way to calculations
    • Links idea of rights to personal interest
    • Despotism presents itself as repairer of all ills, support of just rights, defender of oppressed & founder of order
      • People are lulled to sleep by its temporary prosperity & when they wake up, they are wretched
      • Liberty is born in stormy weather, growing with difficulty in civil discord & only when it’s old do we see its blessings
  • IV – Respect for Laws in the United States
    • Parties are aware expression of the will of the whole can’t easily be smothered
      • Often cast doubts on majority’s validity
      • Without majority, they claim it from those who abstained from voting or that the majority have no right to vote.
      • Those who want to attack laws must either
        • 1 – Change the nation’s opinion, or
        • 2 – Trample its wishes underfoot
    • Americans feel a person interest in obeying laws – majority may one day become minority, minority may one day become majority & will demand laws of its own
      • Americans will submit as the work of the majority is of his own choosing
    • No numerous or perpetually turbulent crowd regarding the law as a natural enemy to fear or suspect
  • V – Activity Prevailing in All Parts of the Political Body in the United States; the Influence Thereby Exerted on Society
    • In free countries, lots of activity
      • In unfree countries, not much activity
    • Democracies are in a rush to attain happiness
      • the state of society is the concern of the whole nation – including all classes
    • As soon as you show up in America, things are happening
      • noises, voices, movement, plans being made & carried out
      • choosing representatives & talking about morals, values & laws
    • With legislatures, agitation comes from all classes
      • to take hand in the government & talk about it is important
      • even women get involved
    • In some countries, political rights are seen as burdensome – worrying about communal interest is annoying
      • If an American did this, he’d lose all reason for living
    • Renews agitation goes into civil society
      • People manage public affairs badly but concern keeps the government going
      • A man of the people gets his self-esteem from listening to proposals & acting on them
    • Enemies of Democracy claim that a single man can do a better job than a government for all.
      • Correct, BUT
      • It provides a social & civic energy never seen before
      • raise mankind
      • cause scorn for material goods
      • engender devotion & conviction
      • refine manners
      • turn man’s intellect & moral activity toward the necessities of physical life & use the to produce well-being for all
      • create tranquil habits
      • fewer crimes, vices & greater deeds
      • prosperous society
      • not build glory for the nation but the well-being of individuals

“Poetics” by Aristotle

“Poetics” by Aristotle


  • Trying to tackle poetry, variations – giving the the essentials, structure of plot & parts of a good poem, etc.
  • Epics, tragedies, comedies, dithryambic poetry, flute & lyre music & all forms of imitation
    • differences – medium, objects & manner of imitation
  • People imitate, either consciously or unconsciously, through color, form, voice, rhythm, language or harmony
  • Flutes & lyres use harmony & rhythm – dancing using rhythm w/o harmony – with emotion, character & action
  • You can use any of these in combination with each other


  • Objects of imitation are men in action
    • must represent as better or worse than in real life
  • Each mode of imitation will exhibit the difference & become a distinct king of imitation of objects
    • can use with dance, music, verse, etc.
    • Homer makes men better than they are
    • Cleophon shows them as they are
    • Hegemon & Thasian did parodies
    • Nicochares made them worse
    • Use different tactics with respect to verse & language depending on now you wish to portray them


  • Another way to differentiate is how they are imitated
    • with same medium, objects, poets can imitate by narration
    • they can impersonate Homer or use their own voices
    • 3 differences – medium, object & manner
      • Sophocles imitated Homer with higher types of character
      • Aristophanes did too with people’s actions
    • Giving “drama” to poems – representing action
    • Dorians claim to have invented both tragedy & comedy
    • Megarians claim comedy
    • Peloponnesian Dorians claim tragedy


  • Reason for Poetry’s birth
    • 1 – Instinct of imitation implanted from childhood, learning earliest lessons
      • view with pain when we think of monstrous animals & dead bodies
      • we enjoy seeing imitation b/c when we think of ourselves learning & saying “I recognize that in my life!”
      • You might be taken in other ways, too
    • 2 – Imitation is in our nature, as are harmony & rhythm. They continued w/ dancing & music until poetry was born.
      • Poetry diverged
        • Graver spirits – imitate actions of good/noble men
        • Trivial – imitate mean people (satires), no earlier than Homer, as well as lampooning
      • Homer is preeminent b/c he excelled at imitation, laid out foundation of comedy by dramatizing the ludicrous
        • Lampooning turned into comedy
        • Epics led to tragedy (a higher form of art than comedy)
  • Tragedy & comedy began as improvization
    • tragedy began as dithryambic poetry
    • comedians sand phallic songs
    • tragedy advanced slowly but each step was a development & eventually found a natural form & stopped there.
  • Aeschylus – first to add a second actor, diminished the importance of the chorus & advanced dialogue
  • Sophocles – increased to 3 actors & used scene-painting
  • Once dialogue came about, nature sorted out the right meters
    • Iambic – colloquial/conversational
  • Number of episodes/acts & acts other accessories would be hard to do a history about


  • Comedy is an imitator of a lower type
    • The mask is ugly & distorted but no pain is implied
    • tragedy’s history is detailed but comedy’s isn’t b/c it was never taken seriously
    • comedy had already solidified in its form by the time any famous poets came around
      • plots started in Sicily but solidified by Athenians in its form
  • Epics are similar to tragedies – imitates higher characters
    • epic is narrated & in one king of meter
    • tragedies limit themselves to one day in the plot or a little more
    • epic has no limit in time
    • All elements of epics are in a tragedy but not vice versa


  • Tragedy – serious, complete, of magnitude, embellished language, in an artistic manner, action, non-narrative, & fear & pity play large
    • embellished language – with rhythm & harmony
    • tragic drama – spectacular equipment, song & diction – metrical arrangement of words
    • plot – action & arrangement of incidents
    • 1 – Plot – the soul of tragedy
    • 2 – Character – same with painting, if you have beautiful colors but the picture/character is confused, it’s not as good as a chalk outline
    • 3 – Thought – saying what’s possible or pertinent in given circumstances. While character reveals moral purpose, thought is where something is proved to be or not to be, or a general maxim is enunciated
    • 4 – Diction – expression of words – essence in prose & verse
    • 5 – Song – chief place for embellishments
    • 6 – Spectacle – least artistic or least connected to poetry. Depends more on stage manager than the poet


  • Plot – tragedy must be imitation of action, complete, whole & of a certain magnitude
    • Whole – must have a beginning, middle & end
      • Beginning – doesn’t need something to precede it
      • Middle – must have something before it & something after it. The plot can’t end haphazardly.
      • End – must have something before it but nothing follows it
    • Must have an orderly arrangement of parts & be of a certain magnitude [beauty requires a bigness]
      • not too small or trivial & not too large as to confuse or overwhelm the audience.
      • has a length that can be embraced by memory – all are mostly the same length
      • must have a change from good to bad fortune or bad to good


  • Plot’s unity doesn’t need to rely on a hero’s unity of character
    • you can’t reduce a man’s life to a single unit
    • Some poets imagine Heracles as 1 man & think that his story must be written as a unity – far too long!
    • Homer didn’t include all Odysseus’s adventures but made the Odyssey & Iliad center around a single action
    • Plot must imitate one subject, one action & the whole forms a structural union around it such that removing any part of it will cause the plot to be disjointed.
    • If something’s presence or absence makes no difference, then it’s not an organic part of the whole


  • It’s not the poet’s job to relate what happened but what might happen – what’s possible according to probability or necessity
    • the poet & history are the same in this
    • Herodotus – could put history into verse but it’s still history
    • Difference is history actually happened, drama might happen
    • Poetry is higher & more philosophical b/c it tends to be more universal
      • Shows how a person may speak or act based on probability or necessity
    • comedy is around probability then inserts names & characters
    • Tragedy uses real names to be more credible & make the story seem more plausible
      • Some tragedies use a couple of real names & the rest are fictitious
    • You don’t have to stick to legends – the usual subjects of tragedy
    • Poets should write poems around plots & not write plots around poems
      • If historical subject, write poetry but stick to what’s possible or necessary
    • Epeisodic – worst king
      • acts succeed each other without probable or necessary sequence
      • bad poets compose them by their own fault
      • good poets compose them to please actors but stretch beyond its natural capacity
    • Tragedy must inspire fear or pity using surprise, & cause & effect


  • Plots – simple or complex based on real life
    • Simple – change of fortune happens without situation reversal or recognition
    • Complex – change of fortune happens with situational reversal or recognition


  • Reversal of situation – change by which action switches around to its opposite
    • Oedipus – messenger comes to cheer him up & relieve him of alarms about his mother
    • Lynceus – being led to his death & Danaus goes with him to kill him but Danaus is the one who’s killed & Lynceus ends up being spared
  • Recognition – change from ignorance to knowledge – producing love or hate between people
    • Oedipus – coincidental with situation reversal
    • in inanimate objects too
    • must be connected with the plot & action
    • should produce fear or pity
    • causes/leads to a good or bad fortune
    • maybe only one person recognizes
      • Iphigenia – is revealed to Orestes by sending a letter
      • later Orestes is revealed to her
    • 2 parts cause plot to turn on surprise
      • another is a scene where a destructive or painful action happens on stage – death, agony, wounds (scene of suffering)


  • Now to quantitative parts – separate parts of tragedy
    • Prologue – precedes parode of chorus
    • Episode – entire part of tragedy between complete choric songs
    • Parode – first undivided utterance of chorus
    • Stasimon – choric ode without anapaests or trochaic tetrameters
    • Commos – joint lamentation between chorus & actors


  • What a poet should be aiming for & should avoid
    • Perfect tragedy – in complex form, provoke fear or pity
      • Change of fortune – DO NOT take a man of prosperity from prosperity to adversity – it’s not tragic, only shocking
    • No bad man from adversity to prosperity – pisses the audience off
    • Pity for unmerited misfortune & fear misfortune for a man just like us
    • Character – between 2 extremes – a man not eminently good or bad but one whose misfortune is brought about by error or frailty, not vice or depravity
    • Single in issue – not from vice but error, fortune from good to bad
    • Like Euripides – he followed these principles, ending unhappily
    • With double threads, catastrophe for good & bad
      • Poets write for the audience & detracts from tragic form


  • Fear & pity – come about through spectacle but result from inner structure
    • Plot to be constructed so if you only just hear the play, you’ll hear it with terror & melt with pity [Oedipus]
    • less about artistry & more about extraneous aids
    • sense of terrible & monstrous
    • pleasure of spectator from pity & fear
    • Actions happen between friends, enemies or those indifferent
      • Enemies – killing each other don’t evoke pity except for suffering
      • Indifferents – don’t evoke pity either
      • Friends & family – because they’re near & dear to each other
        • don’t even have to tinker with legends – Clytamnestra was killed by Orestes & Eriphyle killed by Alcmaeon
        • Poet shows his genius by setting up the situation himself
    • Action cause consciously
      • How Euripides got Medea to kill her kids
    • May also be done in ignorance or tie of kinship or friendship is discovered afterwards [Oedipus]
    • Another form – about to act with knowledge &then doesn’t act
    • Another form – about to do irreparable deed through ignorance & makes discovery before deed’s done
    • Shock isn’t necessarily tragic because there’s no disaster – rarely use
    • Better is deed is perpetuated, especially in ignorance & discovered later
    • Best  – in Cresphontes, Merope is about to kill her son but recognizes him & ends up sparing him
    • Iphigenia recognizes Orestes in time


  • Character – FOUR AIMS
    • Must be good – speech or action manifesting moral purpose exposes character -> If good purpose -> good character, even slaves & women
    • Propriety – valor for men but not for women or unscrupulously clever
    • Character – true to life – believable
    • Consistency – if inconsistent, be consistently inconsistent
      • motive – less degradation of character [Menelaus in Orestes] of indecorous & inappropriate character
      • lament of Odysseus in the Scylla
      • Iphigenia at Aulis – doesn’t resemble her later suppliant self
      • Always aim for necessity & probabilty
        • speak in a way that is probable & the event must be followed by necessary/probable sequence
    • In unraveling of plot, must come out of the plot itself & not from Deus ex Machina, e.g. Medea, Return of Greeks in Iliad
      • Deus ex Machina – only for events external to drama – antecedent/subsequent events beyond human knowledge & needing to be foretold
      • Within action – nothing can be irrational
    • Tragedy is about people above common level – true to life yet more beautiful
    • Poet is to represent man as irascible, indolent or with other defects, preserve the type & ennoble it [Achilles by Homer]


  • Kinds of Recognition
    • 1 – least artistic – from ignorance, by signs, stars – could be congenital, maybe acquired after birth – bodily marks, scars, necklaces
      • Odysseus is recognized by a scar by his nurse & swineherds
      • Use of tokens as proof
      • Bath scene in Odyssey
    • 2 – Invented by poet, not artistic ether, done as poet requires in play
      • Orestes just tells Iphigenia who he is
      • She reveals herself in a letter
    • 3 – Depends on memory – when the sight of something awakens a feeling [Cyprians of Dicaeogenes] or Lay of Alcinous, where Odysseus hears a lure, recalls the past & weeps – recognition
    • 4 – Reasoning [Choephori] – Iphigenia realizes that Orestes looks like her & that he must be her brother
      • Maybe a composition of recognition based on a false inference by one character
      • Odysseus disguised – nobody could bend a bow but Odysseus & only he would know that the bow, which was unseen & reveals who he is
      • Recognitions are best when they come from incidents & discovery is done naturally [Oedipus]
        • Iphigenia sens a letter – natural occurrence
      • Dispense with artificial tokens, amulets, etc


  • Poets should place the scene as far away as possible from his eyes, as if he’s a spectator & unlikely to overlook any inconsistencies
    • Found in Carcinus – audience saw inconsistencies & hated the play
    • Most show, to those who are likely to feel emotion, a play most convincing through natural sympathy with the characters.
    • All audience’s emotions must be properly brought out when appropriate
      • Poet should write an outline & fill in action & details afterwards
      • Give names & fill in episodes
    • In Tragedy, brief summary – Orestes is captured by madness & delivered by a purification rite
    • In Epic, brief summary – Odysseus is away for years, watched jealously by Poseidon, his home is depleted by his wife’s suitors who are plotting against his son. He finally gets home, meets up with friends, attacks the suitors & gets his life back


  • Tragedies have 2 parts
    • Complication – incidents extraneous to action & bit of action
    • Unravelling/Dénouement – extends from beginning of change of fortune until the end
  • Four Kinds of Tragedy
    • 1 – Complex – depends entirely on situation reversal & recognition
    • 2 – Pathetic – motive is passion [Ajax, Ixion]
    • 3 – Ethical – motive is ethical [Phthiotides, Peleus]
    • 4 – Simple – w/o situation reversal & recognition
  • Try to combine all elements or as many as possible
  • Make complication & dénouement both good – both parts must be mastered!
  • Don’t turn an epic into a tragedy & a tragedy into an epic
  • Epics are so because of length & each part has its own magnitude
  • Those who try to dramatize the Fall of Troy instead of just parts fail utterly or the play does badly on stage
  • Don’t forget to use the Chorus like Sophocles used it. They should be a part of all this not just interludes


  • Thought – every thought produced by speech – proof, refutation, excitation of pity & fear, anger, suggestion of importance
    • dramatic incidents must do the same as speech in evoking emotion
    • Incidents speak for themselves without speech
    • Speech must be produced by the speaker
  • Diction – art of delivery – what are prayer, statement, threat, question, answer, etc.?
    • Not to know this is no huge crime – Homer uses a prayer as a commend to a god


  • Letter – indivisible sound
  • Syllable – one beat of speech
  • Connecting word – prepositions connect 2 words
  • Noun – subject, object
  • Verb – word of action
  • Inflection – in Greek grammar, changes the case of a word to change or give a word additional significance
  • Sentence/phrase – composition of words to give one or more ideas


  • Compound word – 2 or more words combined together to have a new or different meaning
  • Current word – word commonly used today
  • Metaphor – a concept/word not to be taken literally
  • Analogy – makes a comparison between 2 different things or ideas
  • New word – never been used before & made up by the poet
  • Lengthened word – adding extra syllables to a word
  • Altered word – recast parts of a word for a different meaning


  • Perfection of style – bearing clear without being too Laconic. Use proper or current words
    • Clear diction raised above commonplace & may use unusual words [strange, metaphor, etc.]
    • Style made from unusual words is a riddle if it’s made wholly of them
    • Riddle – expresses true facts under impossible combinations (only in metaphor)
    • Diction of strange terms is jargon – may be necessary
    • Deviating from normal language gives it distinction, while conformity gives it clarity
    • To use all of these types too much would be obnoxious but some use is good & gives the language distinction
    • Compounds & lengthened words help the text match or fit with the rhythm & harmony of the meter


  • Plot ought to be built on dramatic principles
    • Subject to have a single action
    • Whole with beginning, middle & end
    • Resembles life & gives the audience some pleasure
    • Historical events should have some basis in reality but also possibility
      • Homer’s example – Whole Trojan war wasn’t the plot – war had no beginning or end but plot focuses on one section [also w/ Cypria]


  • Epics must be simple, complex, ethical or pathetic
    • They have 4 of the 6 parts of tragedy – NOT song & spectacle but has reversals, recognitions, suffering [Best example is Homer]
    • Different to tragedy on scale & meter, has larger dimensions
      • Tragedy can’t have all those plot lines
      • Tragedy must confine action to players & on a stage
    • Epics’ events can occur simultaneously, if relevant – diverts the mind & conduces to grandeur, story’s relieved by episode
    • Poet shouldn’t speak for himself – only narrate
    • Many actions couldn’t occur on stage [Pursuit of Hector]
    • Homer tells lies skillfully (secret is fallacy)
      • Assume that if one thing is, then a second thing is seen to be there -> not necessarily true but the author pulls you along
      • Prefer probably impossibilities to improbably possibilities
      • Don’t compose plot with irrational parts
        • If irrational – exclude it from events/action of the play
      • Diction to be elaborated in pauses of action where there’s no character or thought


  • Solutions to Difficulties – must imitate 1 of 3 things
    • 1 – Things as they are or were
    • 2 – Things as they are said or thought to be
    • 3 – Things as they ought to be – using language [current, rare, metaphors]
  • 2 Kinds of faults in poetry
    • 1 – Those concerning its essence (plotholes or terrible characters or language)
    • 2 – Those concerning details (anachronisms, continuity mistakes)
      • if a poet wants to imitate something but does so incorrectly, the error is inherent in the poetry
      • if a poet makes a wrong choice – represents a horse throwing out both its off legs at once or technical inaccuracies – error is not essential
      • if a poet describes the impossible – guilty of an error but may be justified if goal is attained – embellished action
        • Does the error affect the essentials of the poem or are they accidental?
      • if a description isn’t true – could reply but they’re as they ought to be [Sophocles & Euripides] -> Is it poetically good or bad?
      • Punctuation may answer questions
      • Ambiguity needs to be cleared up
      • Make metaphors clearly understood to be metaphors
      • Contradictions should be examined with the same rules as dialectic refutation
  • 5 Critical Objections
    • Impossibility
    • Improbability
    • Morally harmful
    • Contradictory
    • Contrary to artistic correctness


  • Epic v Tragedy
    • High refinement appeals to better sort of audience
    • Art that imitates anything & everything is unrefined
    • Audience is supposed to be too dull to understand something on their own – restless movements by performers confuse the audience
      • Bad musicians distract physically to distract from bad play
      • Tragedy has that defeat
    • Epics addressed to a cultivated audience who don’t need gesture
      • Tragedy is lower mostly due to histrionic art – gesticulation can be overdone
      • Not all action is overdone but there are bad performers
    • Tragedies would not make good epics
      • imagine Oedipus as long as the Iliad
    • Epic has less unity – can furnish several tragedies
    • Tragedy is superior in all respects & fulfills function of better arts – produces pleasure proper to it
      • Attains its end more perfectly

“Meno” by Plato

“Meno” by Plato

  • Meno was a young, rich nobleman from Thessaly
  • Anytos was an Athenian politician, later accuser at Socrates’s trial


Meno – Can virtue be taught? Does it come by practice? If neither, do you get it through nature or another way?

Socrates – I’ve always thought people from your neck of the woods were smart & that they’d always answer freely without fear if asked such a question. But, unfortunately, we’re not as smart as you in Athens. Ask that question around here & you’re likely to get blank looks, shrugs or questions in return. I don’t even know what virtue is, let alone where it comes from.

Meno – Are you serious?

Socrates – I don’t even know anyone who does know.

Meno – You knew Gorgias. Don’t you think that he knew?

Socrates – Maybe. What did he say? I can’t remember.

Meno – A man’s virtue is to manage public business, help friends, hurt enemies & stay out of trouble. A woman’s virtue is to manage the house, keep the stores safe & obey her husband. There are other virtues for boys, girls & old people. There are many kinds of virtue depending on your activities, age, etc.

Socrates – OK. If I asked you what a bee was, you’d tell me there were different kinds of bees. They may be different but what do they all have in common that make them all bees? Likewise, virtues may be different but what do they all have in common in that men, women, the old & children all can have them? Is managing public affairs justly & is managing the household justly virtuous?

Meno – Yes.

Socrates – So, it’s not possible to manage affairs justly without being just. Being just is a virtue. All the virtues you’ve listed are only activities performed justly… What did Gorgias say?

Meno – To be able to rule men.

Socrates – Can a slave rule his master? If he rules, would he still be a slave? Shouldn’t we add “justly” to “to be able to rule men”?

Meno – Yes, justice is a virtue.

Socrates – Is it “a virtue”, or “virtue” itself?

Meno – What do you mean?

Socrates – Take “roundness”. A figure can be round  but “figure” is not necessarily “roundness” because we know there are other types of figures.

Meno – I see… Yes, there are other virtues, like courage, temperance, wisdom, high-mindedness, etc.

Socrates – So, we’ve found a few examples but what do they all have in common? “Roundness” is a type of figure but you must allow for others. “White” is a type of color, but not all colors. I’d like a definition that ties all virtues together.

Meno – What would you say what color was to someone who didn’t know?

Socrates – The truth. If he’s being a dick about it, I’d explain & then tell him to take it or leave it. If he’s friendly, I’d walk him through it. For a figure, I’d say, “something bounded & ended”.

Meno – What about color?

Socrates – We were talking about Gorgias’s definition of virtue…

Meno – You first.

Socrates – Very well, but you’re just ordering me about. OK… [Does an imitation of Gorgias] “Color is an emanation from figures symmetrical with sight & perceptibility to the senses.”

Meno – Very nice. I like that answer!

Socrates – I figured you would. But that answer can also apply to a question about smell, sound, etc. So, what about virtue then?

Meno – “To rejoice in what’s handsome & to be able…” as a poet once said. It’s the desire for handsome things & to be able to provide them.

Socrates – Don’t we all want good things but just differ in what we see as “good”? Do people want “bad” things if they know they’re bad?

Meno – Yes.

Socrates – Why?

Meno – To have them.

Socrates – Because they benefit from them or because they injure?

Meno – Some because they benefit. Some because they injure.

Socrates – Those who want bad things don’t know what they are but desire them because they thought they were good but in reality, they’re bad. Those who don’t know will think they’re good & desire good. Those who want them because they injure know that they will injure but don’t know that to injure will make them wretched.

Meno – Yes.

Socrates – Who wants to be wretched?

Meno – No one.

Socrates – Nobody unless he wants to be wretched… Isn’t misery or wretchedness just the desire for bad things & actually getting them?

Meno – Yes.

Socrates – If virtue is the desire for good things & to be able to provide them, desiring makes no difference between one man & another – only in their ability – the power to get good things.

Meno – Yes. Gold, silver, public appointments & honor are the highest things.

Socrates – Could you add “justly” to that?

Meno – Yes.

Socrates – It seems like no matter what you do, for it to be virtuous, you have to do it justly.

Meno – Yes.

Socrates – So not getting silver, gold, public appointments, etc. when it’s unjust is also virtuous. Getting those thing is no more just or unjust than not getting them. Just using justice makes everything good. Whatever you do with virtue is virtuous. But I still need a definition for virtue. What is it?

Meno – You’re lucky you live here & not somewhere else. They’d lynch you. I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.

Socrates – I’ve heard people of all kinds talk about virtue at great length with eloquence. They say the soul is immortal & it’s reborn after death & can never be destroyed. Since the soul is immortal, there can be nothing we don’t know. There is no learning, just remembering.

Meno – Explain that.

Socrates – I’ll demonstrate it using your servant. [Starts with things the servant understands, asks questions & the servant begins to understand geometry & arithmetic.] I’m not teaching him a thing. He’s only remembering my questions. He starts off not remembering anything & answers my carefully worded questions. Now he remembers. It might have been difficult but he got there in the end. By numbing the pain & not launching right away into difficult questions, he’s learned. We didn’t put thoughts into his head that weren’t originally his.

Meno – No, they must have been there all the while.

Socrates – It’s like they came from a dream. No one taught him, only asked him. It must be a form of remembering. He’d either got it before, or he always knew it. It wouldn’t have been in this lifetime because he didn’t know it.

Meno – No one had ever taught it to him.

Socrates – If knowledge & truth are always in us, the soul must be immortal. Anything you know must be re-learned or remembered. In order to know what is really unknown, we must be braver & less idle than if we believed that it’s impossible to know & not worth trying.

Meno – OK. Let’s find out if virtue can be taught or if you’re born with it.

Socrates – I think we’d better find out what it is before. Let’s approach this matter as if it were geometry. Is virtue a form of knowledge?

Meno – I think so.

Socrates – If something is good, but separate from knowledge, then there’s something that exists outside of knowledge. I think there’s no good that knowledge doesn’t have. So maybe virtue is a form of knowledge.

Meno – Yes

Socrates – Health, strength, good looks, wealth – there are all good but are the helpful?

Meno – Yes

Socrates – But sometimes they do harm?

Meno – Yes.

Socrates – When used correctly, they help & when used incorrectly, they harm. You said temperance, justice, courage & cleverness are good things for the soul.

Meno – Yes

Socrates – But you don’t think they’re a form of knowledge & somehow separate. Are they sometimes harmful & sometimes helpful? Courage isn’t intelligence. It’s more like boldness. If a man is senselessly bold, he’s harmed. If he’s sensefully bold, he’s helped.

Meno – Yes

Socrates – The same is true with temperance & cleverness. With sense, they’re good & without it, they’re bad. So, it seems with the soul, wisdom leads to happiness & senseless leads to unhappiness. Virtue must be a sort of wisdom. It all revolves around your soul

Meno – Yes

Socrates – So, wealth, heal, strength, etc. – we said they can harm or help. Using wisdom makes them help & not using wisdom makes them harm. A senseless soul will use them badly & a wise soul will use them well. It doesn’t depend on the soul, just on whether or not the soul uses wisdom. Using wisdom is good & not using it is bad. Virtue is a form of wisdom & nature doesn’t make us good or bad.

Meno – Right.

Socrates – If that were true, you could just isolate the good away from the bad to protect them. If men aren’t good or bad by nature, it must be learned or taught.

Meno – Yes.

Socrates – What if we’re wrong… If it can be taught, there must be teachers & students. If there aren’t any, it probably can’t be taught.

Meno – You don’t think there are any teachers?

Socrates – I’ve tried to find them without any luck. I know others have tried, too [ANYTOS ENTERS]. Say, Anytos, your father became a wealthy guy without any luck or inheritance but by his own wisdom. If we wanted Meno to become a doctor, would we send him to learn with the doctors?

Anytos – And if we wanted him to be a shoemaker, we’d send him to learn with a shoemaker?

Socrates – In general, if you want to learn something, you’ll have to learn it from someone who practices it. It would be stupid to do otherwise. Meno says he wants wisdom & virtue. Should he got to those who claim to be virtuous & teach it?

Anytos – Who might that be?

Socrates – Sophists.

Anytos – Hell no! You don’t want to go see them. They’re turn you into an absolute maniac.

Socrates – They say they know how to do good. But you say they’ll corrupt us through their teachings. & they want money on top of all that! I knew a guy, Protagoras, who made way more money than any artist or shoemaker. If a shoemaker did his job as poorly as you say Sophists do, you’d know it with in a month by the shoe falling apart. But Protagoras got away with it for over 40 years without anyone noticing it. His name is still praised by the Sophists. Do you think the Sophists know what they’re doing to their students? Or do you think they’re crazy & have no idea.

Anytos – They know what they’re doing. It’s crazy to pay them for what they do. It’s crazier to send your kids off to them. & what’s craziest of all is that cities allow these charlatans to hand around corrupting their young with their bullshit!

Socrates – Have you ever been trained by one?

Anytos – No way would I ever go near one of them!!

Socrates – How do you know anything about them if you’ve never been near them?

Anytos – I know how they operate.

Socrates – Well, we don’t want to send Meno to a charlatan, just to someone who can teach him virtue. I was about to send him to a sophist but as you say, they probably aren’t the ones to see. Perhaps you can suggest one?

Anytos – Any gentleman in Athens would be a better teacher than a Sophist.

Socrates – Did they learn or become virtuous by luck. If they got lucky, how could they teach it?

Anytos – I guess they probably learned from their fathers. Don’t you think we’ve got virtuous men here in Athens?

Socrates – I know politicians. They’ve always been around. But have they taught virtue? Meno & I have been discussing whether or not virtue can be taught or if comes naturally or another way… Was naval hero Themistocles a good man?

Anytos – None better.

Socrates – Wouldn’t he have provided virtue lessons to his son by himself or hired a teacher if he could? He taught his son to be an expert at horses. Why not do the same with virtue? Did he wish to teach his son but not make him any more virtuous than the neighbors’ kids? If virtue could be taught, could we believe he wouldn’t provide lessons for him?

Anytos – Probably not.

Socrates – One of the best men of the past? Not a grand teacher of virtue? It’s hard to believe. What about Aristeides? Was he good?

Anytos – Yes.

Socrates – He taught his sons & gave them the best teachers you get in Athens. But he never gave them lessons in virtue. & Pericles’s sons? He taught them to be the best horsemen Athens has ever seen. He gave them the best education money could buy. No virtue teacher, though. Thucydides’s sons were educated & he got them the best wrestling coach & they became the best wrestlers in Greece. No courses in virtue…

Anytos – No…

Socrates – Isn’t it clear that all these great men with money could provide their kids with an education but never taught them virtue. I think it’s because it can’t be taught.

Anytos – Be careful. It’s easy to do more harm than good in most cities. It’s even easier in Athens… [ANYTOS LEAVES]

Socrates – I guess Anytos left because he thought I was defaming those men & him as well… Do you have good men in Thessaly?

Meno – Absolutely.

Socrates – Do they teach virtue?

Meno – No… Sometimes you hear it can be taught. Sometimes you hear that it can’t be taught.

Socrates – Only Sophists claim that it can be taught. Do you think that they teach it?

Meno – Gorgias always laughed at those who claimed it because he just thought they were teaching them how to speak cleverly.

Socrates – Do you think they taught virtue?

Meno – I’m not sure… Sometimes I think so & other times I don’t.

Socrates – You aren’t alone. Theogonis said the same as you. That it can’t be & then said it can be. Can you think of any other subject whose teachers are thought not only not to teach but not even to know the subject itself? If students are confused, they must be bad teachers.

Meno – Correct.

Socrates – If neither Sophists nor gentlemen can teach virtue, there are probably no teachers or students. Then it probably can’t be taught.

Meno – Looks like it. Are there any good men at all?

Socrates – Maybe we should try to find out how good men become good. Good men must be useful & guide their business correctly. If a man knows the way from here to Larissa (region where Thessaly, north of Athens), he goes there himself & can guide others there as well.

Meno – Right.

Socrates – If a man who’s never been there before guess & is correct, then a good guess isn’t any worse than knowledge. They both guide to the right action.

Meno – But the one with knowledge will always be right. The one who makes good guesses will be wrong sometimes.

Socrates – Not if he always guesses correctly.

Meno – I suppose so. Why is knowledge any better than good guesses? How are they different?

Socrates – Well, like it is with statues. You’ve got to nail them down to something otherwise they’ll disappear. They’ll be stolen, get knocked over or the wind will take them away. If you don’t do that, there’s little point in owning one. As long as they stay, they’re wonderful. But we all know sooner or later, they’ll be gone or broken. They’re not worth much unless they’re fastened down. Having a good guess isn’t worth much in the long run unless you start to understand why you’re right, and cause & effect. When you do that, it turns into knowledge. That’s why it’s better.

Meno – Nicely put. I think I get it.

Socrates – Good guesses guide us no better or worse than knowledge. Good guesses aren’t inferior to knowledge in their results. A man is as useful to his city if he’s a good guesser than if he is knowledgeable, no matter how knowledge or good guessing skills are acquired.

Meno – So, not by nature.

Socrates – The good doesn’t not come by nature. But if not from nature, can it be taught? Since we don’t have teachers & students, probably not.

Meno – Correct.

Socrates – Good guesses & knowledge do just as well as each other in guiding us. If a man has either, he’s useful. If he’s not useful by knowledge, at least he guesses well. That’s how politicians keep a state afloat. It has no more to do with knowledge & understanding than an oracle or a diviner, or poets or artists. When they are right, they are divinely inspired but have no understanding of why they’re right.

Meno – Seems right.

Socrates – Women call a good man divine.

Meno – Don’t let Anytos catch you saying that. He won’t like it.

Socrates – Whatever… He’ll hear about it sooner or later. Virtue comes not from nature or learning but from divine allotment or dispensation.

“Enchiridion” by Epictetus (c.125)

“Enchiridion” by Epictetus (c.125)

  • Things you can control:
    • opinion, aim, desire, aversion
      • all of your own affairs
      • by nature free & unrestricted
    • if you confuse them with things you can’t control, you’ll be sad & disappointed
    • if you focus purely on these, you won’t do anything against your will, won’t be harmed or have enemies
  • Things you can’t control:
    • body, property, reputation, office
      • all not of your own affairs
    • don’t go for these or you’ll only be disappointed if you don’t get them
      • avoid them to be happy
  • Think of unpleasant things
    • say to them: you’re just a semblance & you’re not real
    • Think: Is this within my control? Or not?
      • If in your control, or not, be prepared to walk away
  • Focusing on things you can’t control or can’t get will make you sad & disappointed
    • things you want to avoid but can’t will make you sad
    • things you want but can’t get will make you sad
    • Focus on things you can get & can control & make sure that your desires, opinions & avoidances are properly placed
    • Do so with discretion, gentleness & moderation
  • Remember to notice what category things are in (controllable or not controllable)
    • if a valuable object breaks, remember it’s just a thing
    • if a loved one dies, remember you can bear the pain if you choose to do so
  • When doing anything, remember to maintain your harmony with nature, no matter what happens
  • Disturbances come from views of things, not things
    • The thought of death is worse than death
    • Don’t put views into things & people
  • Don’t become elated by excellence or down by failure
    • Maintaining harmony with nature is most important
  • Be perpetually attentive to what’s most important, especially when around trivial things
  • Sickness or lameness is only a hindrance to the body
    • Don’t let it affect your will because you’ll be hindered twice
  • Whenever confronted by a situation, think:
    • How can I make the most of this?
    • Pain builds strength, annoyance builds patience
  • Don’t whine about losing things
    • You’ve been borrowing it & now it has been returned: people & things
  • Better to die of hunger w/o grief than to be affluent & in constant worry
    • Think: this is the price of peace & tranquility. Everything has its price. Nothing can be had for nothing
  • Don’t worry about looking like a fool to others
    • It’s hard to be in harmony with nature & maintain external appearances
  • Don’t wish to live forever
    • It’s not going to happen & you’ll only be disappointed when it doesn’t happen
    • Don’t make wishes for things you can’t control
  • Don’t yearn for your desires
    • Wait for it to come to you
    • At some point, you’ll be worthy to feast with the gods
    • Don’t always take things as they are laid out for you
      • If you can resist, then you can even command the gods
  • If you see someone grieving, don’t worry
    • Think: what hurts him is the view he allows himself to have of it
    • You may groan along with him but don’t groan on the inside
  • Remember, you’re just an actor in a play
    • The author may cast you as a cripple, a peasant or a king
    • Play your part to the best of your ability
  • Nothing is portended to anyone or anything
  • You’ll be unconquerable if you only fight battles you can win
    • Don’t be bewildered by appearances, honors, etc
    • Don’t wish for high roles – just focus on what you can control
  • Allow terrible things to appear so you’ll be used to them & won’t panic
  • If you are prone philosophy be prepared to be mocked
    • If you are persistent, they’ll come around & admire you
  • Don’t worry about not being believed
    • What’s it to you to get power based on people’s belief?
    • Friends who don’t believe you aren’t much as friends
    • Better to have self-respect & harmony w/ nature than to worry what others thing
  • You can learn about nature through things everyone agrees with
    • Things break & people die
  • Before you do something, think about what you have to do before & after as well as during
    • You may not know how to prepare for success or how to deal with consequences
    • In participating in the Olympics, you have to follow rules, eat right, exercise, practice, etc
      • If you don’t prepare, you could hurt yourself or suffer defeat & swear off the activity
    • Think before you do & you’ll be much more likely to succeed
  • Duties are independent of relations
    • Whether or not your father is good or bad, your duty to him is the same
    • You’ll only be hurt when you consent to be hurt
    • Think of your duties as family member, citizen, neighbor or commander
  • If something’s not in your power, it can’t be good or bad
    • it’s indifferent to you
    • It’s within your power to make the right use of it
  • Piety toward the gods
    • Have the right opinions of them
    • Obey them & yield to them
      • You’ll never find fault with them or think they neglect you
      • If you focus on good/bad events you’ll be disappointed
  • Forge a character you can have in public or alone
    • Be mostly silent & say only what needs to be said
    • Don’t go into discourse too often
      • if you do, don’t focus on vulgar topics: sports, food, drink or people
      • Don’t take oaths if you can help it
    • Only eat & drink what you need
      • same with clothes, home & company you keep
      • nothing for show or luxury
    • Don’t fool around women too much
      • don’t brag about doing so
      • don’t condemn those who do
    • If someone speaks badly of you, think:
      • He was ignorant of the real me
    • Refrain from acclamations, derision & violent emotions
    • In private events, maintain your dignity & gravity
    • If before anyone in power, hope he doesn’t notice you
      • if you can’t avoid it, just deal with it
    • Don’t brag about your adventures
  • If you are excited about anticipated pleasure
    • allow it to wait for your leisure or some delay
    • If it’s not too gratifying, go ahead but don’t get carried away
  • When doing something needed to be done
    • Don’t hide from being seen doing it
    • If people misunderstand think:
      • Why do people censure me for it?
  • When at a feast, don’t pig out
    • You might have a huge appetite but have some courtesy for the host
      • You have to balance hunger & etiquette
  • You try to avoid walking on nails b/c they hurt
    • do the same with your mind
      • take care before acting
  • Women over the age of 14 are flattered by being someone’s “mistress”
    • they are only qualified to give pleasure to men
    • They begin to adorn themselves
    • But they will only truly be honored if they appear beautiful in demeanor & modestly virtuous
  • You look stupid only worrying about the physical
    • Exercise, drinking, eating
    • You look like an animal
    • Apply strength to reason
  • Everything has 2 handles
    • one by which you can carry & one by which you can’t
    • learn which one is which & act accordingly
  • Makes no sense to say:
    • I’m richer than you therefore I’m better than you
    • I’m more eloquent than you therefore I’m better than you
  • Makes more sense to say
    • I’m richer than you therefore I have more stuff than you
    • I’m more eloquent than you there for my style is better than yours
  • If someone does something that seems wrong outwardly, withhold opinion
    • until you know his motives completely
  • Don’t tell people you’re a philosopher or talk to them about your principles
    • Show them by your actions naturally
  • Don’t publicize your virtue
  • A vulgar person looks to the external world for help or confirmation
    • A proficient person looks within
  • To understand nature, follow her
    • make use of instructions
  • Follow principles as laws & ignore the detractors
    • How long will you allow yourself to delay improvement?
    • Will wallow until your death regretting it
  • Don’t lie. Learn why not to lie. & Learn what a good demonstration of why not is.

“The Character of Socrates” by Xenophon

“The Character of Socrates” by Xenophon

  • Socrates always said what was on his mind to friends
    • Also made sure that they were independent enough to pursue the avenues they were suited for
    • He knew all his friends very well – often probing their minds w/ questions
  • He taught his friends w/ all his heart the things a person ought to know, & at least be familiar w/ any subject
    • Geometry – Good for surveying & owning property, & being able make use of the land. Going too far into it excluded research into other subjects
    • Astronomy – helped plan journeys by land or sea. It helped hunters & pilots measure distances & directions. But trying to know why the gods made the heavens that way wasn’t possible to understand & trying to do so would drive you crazy
    • Arithmetic – good for business & geometry – but don’t get carried away!
    • Health – you should learn all you can from those who know what to eat, drink & how to exercise
  • He was often forewarned by a deity of what to do & what not to do. Some thought he was crazy for this – he wasn’t.
  • He lived w/ a death sentence hanging over him for 30 days. It was so long b/c it was during the month when it was illegal to execute prisoners
    • But during this period, he lived exactly how he lived before
    • When he had been indicted, he wouldn’t even discuss the case.
      • When pressed on trying to build his defense, he replied:
        • “Don’t you think I have been preparing for it all my life?”
    • He refused to stop his way of life because his life had been growing in goodness
      • If he were to live on, he would have died of old age soon anyway
  • He felt if he were to die unjustly, let those who killed him bear the shame of killing him
    • Posterity judges the dead based on the injustice they did much more than the injustice they had to bear
    • He said he’d be remembered fondly, much more than those who took his life because he lived his life to make others better & to corrupt or wrong nobody.
  • Anyone who knew Socrates knew what sort of a man he was & they searched for virtue & helped out anyone in their own quest
    • He was so religious that he did nothing without consulting the gods
    • He was so just that he did no injury to anyone
    • He was so self-controlled that he never chose the pleasanter over the better course
    • He was so wife that he need no counselor & never erred in his judgment of good & bad
      • He suggested that everyone follow virtue & gentleness
        • Seemed to be a truly good & happy man.