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The Lysis - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XI - Essays on Philosophy and the Classics 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XI - Essays on Philosophy and the Classics, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by F.E. Sparshott (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978).
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[Holograph MS, Berg Collection, New York Public Library, entitled “Notes on the Lysis of Plato.” Ff. 1-6 watermarked 1825; the remainder, 1828. Not mentioned in JSM’s bibliography. For details concerning the manuscript and the transcription, see the Textual Introduction, lxxxi-lxxxii above; for a discussion of this and the other translations of Plato, see also the Introduction, xvii-xxviii above.]
the subject of this dialogue is friendship:* and it is one of the numerous dialogues of Plato which are merely tentative, examining and rejecting a variety of opinions without adopting any. One indirect purpose seems to be, to ridicule several of the wise saws of the sophists, & naturalists, Empedocles & others.
Hippothales, a friend of Socrates, was attached to a very young man named Lysis. Ctesippus, another friend of Hippothales, rallied him in the presence of Socrates, on the extraordinary degree in which he was absorbed by the idea of this young man, & the extravagances which he performed in order to recommend himself to him. Socrates enquired what particular mode he took of winning the favour of Lysis: and Ctesippus again laughed at him for finding nothing to say except commonplaces which every child knew, making verses on the divine descent & heroic actions of Lysis’s progenitors & so forth, which all the town had in its mouth. Socrates hereupon asked Hippothales, why he composed an encomium on himself before he had gained the prize. Hippothales not understanding this, Socrates continued, “All these verses of yours tend directly to yourself. For, if you succeed in winning the object of your love, all these encomiums on him will be encomiums on yourself, for having succeeded with so distinguished a person: But if you fail, the more you have puffed the object of your pursuit, the greater good will you be thought to have lost, & will be laughed at accordingly. A person therefore who is wise in love affairs, takes care not to praise the beloved object until he has won it, for fear of what may happen. Besides, if you praise them, they are puffed up with conceit & self-will: & the more self-willed they become, the more difficult it is to gain them. But what sort of a hunter should you think him who made his game wilder & more difficult to catch; or him who by his songs & incantations did not sooth, but stir up? Take care that you do not resemble those persons.”
Hippothales admitted the justice of all this, & begged Socrates to advise him, what words or deeds he thought would most recommend him to the object of his affection. Socrates saying that he could not tell unless he could converse with Lysis himself, Hippothales and Ctesippus obtained for him an opportunity of entering into conversation with Lysis, in company with another young man of the same age, named Menexenus.
Socrates said to Menexenus, “Which of you two is the elder?”—“We doubt.”—“Then you must dispute, which is the more noble.”—Menexenus assented.—“And which is the handsomer.”—They both smiled.—“You will not dispute which is the richer; for you are friends; & friends have all things in common, if what they say of friendship is true, so that there can be no difference between you in this respect.”—They agreed.—Socrates was about to ask them, which of them was the most just & wise, when Menexenus was called away, and Socrates addressed himself to Lysis.
“Do your father & mother love you extremely?”—“They do.”—“Then they wish you to be happy.”—“Certainly.”—“Is a person happy, who is a slave, & allowed to do nothing which he desires?”—“No.”—“Then your parents, I suppose, allow you to do as you please, and never admonish or restrain you.”—“Indeed they do, very often.”—“What! do they wish you to be happy, & not let you do as you like? If you desired to drive one of your father’s chariots at the public contests, would they not permit you?”—“Certainly not.”—“But whom would they permit?”—“My father has a charioteer to whom he pays wages.”—“So they permit a hired servant to do what he pleases with the horses, & will not permit you. And they even pay him money for doing it.”—“What then?”—“But I suppose they allow you to drive the team of mules, & whip them too, if you have a mind.”—“Certainly not.”—“What! Is nobody allowed to whip them?”—“Certainly: the carter.”—“Is he a slave or a freeman?”—“A slave.”—“So it seems they value a slave more than you, their son, & commit their affairs to him rather than to you, & allow him to do as he pleases, but will not allow you. Answer me another question. Do they allow you to govern yourself, or do they not even trust you with that?”—“They do not.”—“Who governs you?”—“My tutor.”—“Is he a slave?”—“Yes, he is one of our slaves.”—“It is a shame that a freeman should be governed by a slave. What does this tutor do to you?”—“He takes me to school.”—“Does the schoolmaster govern you too?”—“Undoubtedly.”—“It seems then, your father voluntarily sets a great number of masters over you. And pray when you come home to your mother, does she let you do as you please with her loom and her web, that you may be happy? Of course, she does not prevent you from meddling with her distaff or spindle & the rest of her spinning apparatus.”—Lysis laughed, & said, he should be punished, if he ventured to touch them.—“Indeed! Pray, have you offended your father or your mother?”—“Not I.”—“What is the reason, then, that they prevent you from being happy, & make you pass your whole time in slavery to some person or other, doing hardly any thing of what you desire? So that it seems you are never the better for all your wealth (for every body has more power over it than you have) nor for your fine person, for even that is placed under the tutelage of another man: you have power over nobody, & nothing.”—“Because I am not yet old enough.”—“That is no hindrance; for there are some things, I suppose, which your father & mother permit you to do, without waiting till you grow older. When they want any body to read or write for them, I dare say you are the first person whom they apply to: and when you take up the lyre, they do not hinder you from striking what chords you please.”—“They do not.”—“What, then, is the reason that in these things they do not prevent you, but in the other things which we were talking about, they do?”—“I suppose it is because I understand these things & do not understand the others.”—“Then it is not age which your father waits for in order to entrust you with his affairs, but sense: & the day he thinks you have more sense than he, he will commit himself & his affairs to your care.”—“I suppose so.”—“And will not your neighbour do the same? Will he not entrust to you the management of his household, as soon as he thinks you understand domestic economy better than himself? And will not the Athenians entrust their affairs to you, when they see that you have sufficient understanding?”—“Yes.”—“And the Great King? Would he rather, think you, permit his own eldest son & heir to the throne, to put what he pleased into the pot where the meat is boiling, or us, if we could convince him that we knew more about cookery than his son?”—“Us.”—“He would not suffer his son to put in any thing; but he would let us empty the salt-box into it, if we thought fit.”—“Certainly.”—“And if his son had sore eyes, would he allow him to touch them himself, if he did not think him skilled in medicine?”—“Certainly not.”—“But us, if he thought us skilful physicians, he would allow even to open the eyes and throw in ashes, if we liked.”—“True.”—“He would entrust us in preference to himself or his son, with every thing in which he considered us as wiser than them.”—“He would.”—“It seems then that all Greeks or foreigners, men or women, will trust us in those things with which we are well acquainted; & we may do what we please in them, nobody will willingly resist us, we shall be ourselves free, & shall govern others, & these things will be ours, for we shall be benefitted by them. But in those things of which we possess no understanding, no one will suffer us to do what we please, but will throw every possible obstacle in our way; not only strangers, but our own father & mother; & in these things we shall be subject to others, & these things will be foreign to us, for we shall derive no benefit from them.”—“Granted.”—“Shall we be loved by any body in those things in which we are useless?”—“Certainly not.”—“Then at present, neither your father loves you, nor does any one love any one, in so far as he is useless.”—“Allowed.”—“If then you become wise, every one will be your friend & every one will be attached to you, for you will be useful & good; but if not, neither any one else, nor even your father & mother & relations, will be attached to you. Do you think, then, that it is possible to think much of oneself, in those things in which one is without thought?”—“It is not.”—“But if you need a schoolmaster, you are as yet without thought.”—“True.”—“Then you do not think much of yourself.”—“I do not think that I do.”
Socrates, who is the narrator of this dialogue, says, that he here thought of Hippothales, & had a mind to say to him, that this was the proper way to address a beloved object, humbling & chastening it rather than exalting & puffing it up.
At this moment Menexenus returned, & Lysis boyishly whispered to Socrates, to say the same things to Menexenus which he had said to him. Socrates bid Lysis himself repeat them to him; which Lysis promised that he would, but begged Socrates to say something else to Menexenus, that he himself might hear. “I must,” replied Socrates, “if you bid me. But mind that you come to my assistance if Menexenus attempts to refute me. Do you not know that he is extremely disputatious?”—“That is the very reason,” rejoined Lysis, “why I wish you to talk to him.”—“That I may make myself ridiculous?”—“No; that you may correct him.”—“That is no easy matter; he is a formidable person, a pupil of Ctesippus: & do you not perceive that Ctesippus himself is here to assist him?”—“Never mind that, but talk to him.”—Socrates at last consented, & addressed Menexenus thus.
“From my childhood upwards there is one thing which I have always desired to become possessed of. Other men have other fancies; one wishes for horses, another for dogs, another for money, another for honours. For my part, I am tolerably indifferent to these things, but am extremely passionate for the acquisition of friends, & would rather have a good friend, than the very best pigeon or cock in the world, or even horse or dog; aye, rather than all the gold of Darius, or Darius himself. When, therefore, I look upon you & Lysis, I felicitate you on having been able while yet so young to acquire easily & quickly so excellent a thing, while I am so far from possessing it, that I do not even know in what manner one person is made the friend of another, but would wish to question you on this subject, as being a person experienced in it. Tell me, then, which of the two becomes the other’s friend, he who loves, or he who is loved? Or is there no difference?”—“It seems to me that there is no difference.”—“What? Do they both become friends if only one of them loves the other?”—“I think so.”—“May not a person love & be not loved in return? May he not even be hated? Lovers at least say so.”—“True.”—“Then which of the two is the friend? he who loves (whether he be loved in return, or hated)? Or he who is loved? Or is neither of them the friend of the other unless they both love one another?”—“It would seem so.”—“Then nothing is dear to any one which does not love him in return. And nobody is fond of horses unless the horses love him in return, nor yet of dogs, nor of wine, nor of bodily exercises, no one is a lover of wisdom (ϕιλόσοϕος) unless wisdom loves him in return. Or do men love these things not being dear to them?”—“I think not.”—“Then that which is loved, is dear to him who loves, whether it loves him in return or not. For instance, young children, some of them not yet loving their parents, others positively hating them when their father or mother has punished them, are nevertheless dearer to their parents at that time than at any other.”—“Yes.”—“Then the friend is not he who loves, but he who is loved.”—“It seems so.”—“And the enemy, not he who hates, but he who is hated.”—“So it appears.”—“Then many are loved by their enemies, & hated by their friends, & are therefore the friends of their enemies & the enemies of their friends, if the friend be he who is loved & not he who loves. But this would be absurd.”—“True.”—“Then if this be absurd, it follows that the friend is he who loves, not he who is loved.”—“It does.”—“And the enemy is he who hates.”—“Yes.”—“But here the same consequence follows, that a person is often the friend of one who is not his friend, who is even his enemy, if he loves one who loves him not, or who hates him; & he is often the enemy of one who is not his enemy, who is even his friend, if he hates one who does not hate him, or who loves him.”—“True.”—“What shall we do, then, if neither they who love are friends, nor they who are loved, nor both those who love & those who are loved? Whom can we name besides, who can be called friends?”—“I do not know.”—“Perhaps we have pursued a wrong method of enquiry.”—Lysis here observed that he thought they had: & Socrates, addressing himself to Lysis, resumed:
“Let us follow, then, another course, seeking the assistance of the poets, who are as it were our fathers & guides in wisdom. They say that friends are brought together by the deity himself, who always brings like to like.[*] And the wise men, who have written on Nature & the Universe, say the same thing; that like is always fond of like. Do they say true?”—“Perhaps.”—“Perhaps one half of it is true, perhaps the whole; but we do not understand it. To us it seems, that bad men, the nearer they come together & the more intimately they associate, become the greater enemies. For they injure one another: & the Injurer & the Injured cannot be friends.”—“Yes.”—“By this account, then, one half of the adage cannot be true; for bad men are like each other.”—“Very true.”—“The meaning therefore, I suppose, is, that good men are like each other, & are friends, but that bad men, as is sometimes said of them, are never even like themselves, but vacillating and uncertain: & what is unlike itself, can scarcely be like any thing else. Do you not think so?”—“I do.”—“Those, then, who say that like is fond of like, wish to hint, that good men alone are friends; that a bad man never forms a true friendship either with a good man or a bad one.”—Lysis assented.—“We know, then, at last, who friends are: they are those who are good.”—“So it seems.”—“But I have a difficulty still. Like, is friendly to like, in proportion to the likeness: Is it useful to its like, in the same proportion? Can a thing which is exactly like another, possibly do that other any good or harm which it could not do to itself? And if not, how can such things love one another, which can be of no service to one another?”—“In no way.”—“And where there is no love, how can there be friendship?”—“There cannot.”—“Then like is not friendly to like: and a good man is friendly to a good man, not quâ like, but quâ good.”—“Perhaps.”—“But what! Is not a good man, quâ good, sufficient to himself?”—“Yes.”—“But he who is sufficient to himself, is in want of nothing.”—“True.”—“And he who is in want of nothing can love nothing.”—“No.”—“And he who does not love, is no friend.”—“It seems not.”—“How then can the good man be the friend of the good, since neither when absent do they desiderate each other (for they are sufficient to themselves when apart) nor when present have they any occasion for one another? How can such persons set much value upon each other?”—“In no way.”—“But they who do not set much value upon each other, are not friends.”—“True.”
“But observe, Lysis, how we are going wrong. We are mistaken in our whole course.”—“How?”—“I now recollect to have heard somebody say, that like is the greatest enemy of like, & the good, of the good. And he quoted Hesiod, who says, that potter has a grudge against potter, bard against bard, beggar against beggar.[*] He said, that like things must be full of envy & jealousy & hatred of each other, & that only unlike things are friendly. The poor man is of necessity friendly to the rich, the weak to the strong, for the sake of his assistance, the sick man to the physician, & all who do not know, love those who know. And, far from its being true that like is fond of like, the fondest things are direct contraries. Each thing desires its contrary, not its like. Dry desires wet, cold desires heat, bitter desires sweet, sharp desires blunt, what is empty desires fullness, what is full, emptiness, & so on: for contraries are the food of each other, but nothing has any enjoyment of its like. He seemed a clever fellow who said this: What do you think of it?”—“It sounds very well,” replied Menexenus.—“Shall we say then that contraries are fondest of each other?”—“Yes.”
“But will not those wise persons the disputants attack us here, & ask us, whether friendship & enmity are not direct contraries? Must we not acknowledge, that they are?”—“We must.”—“But, they will say, is a friend fond of an enemy, or an enemy of a friend?”—“No.”—“Is a just man, the friend of an unjust, a temperate man, of an intemperate, a good man, of a bad?”—“I should think not.”—“But they should, if contraries are the best friends.”—“True.”—“Then neither like things, nor contrary things, are friends.”—“It seems not.”
“Let us further consider whether we have not entirely missed the nature of friendship, & whether that which is neither good nor bad, be not the friend of what is good.”—“How?”—“I do not know; I am perplexed by the difficulty of the discussion. I suspect that according to the old proverb, τὸ καλὸν ϕίλον ἐστί;* for it must be something soft and smooth & slippery, so easily does it slip through our fingers.
“Things may be divided into three classes, may they not? the Good, the Bad, & that which is neither good nor bad.”—“True.”—“And the good is not the friend of the good, nor the bad of the bad, nor the good of the bad, as our former arguments have shewn. There remains therefore only what is neither good nor bad, which must be the friend either of the good, or of something of its own class: for nothing can be the friend of the bad.”—“True.”—“But we said just now, that like was not the friend of like.”—“We did.”—“What is neither good nor bad, cannot therefore be the friend of any thing of its own kind.”—“It cannot.”—“Then it only remains, for what is neither good nor bad to be the friend of what is good.”—“It seems so.”
“Let us see, then, whether we are right in our conclusion. A body in health has no need of medicine: a man in health, therefore, will not be friendly to the physician by reason of his health.”—“He will not.”—“But a sick man will, by reason of his disease.”—“Yes.”—“Disease is bad, Medicine is useful and good.”—“Yes.”—“But the body, quâ body, is neither good nor bad.”—“True.”—“The body is forced to love & attach itself to medicine, by reason of disease.”—“It is.”—“Then what is neither good nor bad, becomes friendly to what is good, by reason of the presence of what is bad.”—“It seems so.”—“Evidently, before it is itself rendered bad by the evil which is in it. For it would not, after becoming evil, still continue to desire & love what is good; for we said it was impossible for what is bad, to be friendly to what is good.”—“True.”
“Consider then what I am going to say. I say, that some things themselves become such as that thing is which is present to them; others do not. For example, if any thing is smeared over with any particular dye, the thing which is smeared over it is present to it.”—“Certainly.”—“When this is the case, is the thing itself of the colour of the dye, or not?”—“I do not understand.”—“If one were to sprinkle over your yellow hair with flour, would it be white or only appear so?”—“It would only appear.”—“And yet whiteness would be present to it.”—“True.”—“And nevertheless it would not be white.”—“True.”—“But when old age gives it the same colour, then, by the presence of white, it will really become white, the colour of that which is present to it.”—“No doubt.”—“I ask you, then, will that to which any thing is present, be similar to the thing which is present to it? Or will it be so only if the thing be present in a particular way, & not otherwise?”—“The latter.”—“And what is neither good nor bad, if evil be present to it, sometimes is not yet bad, sometimes it has already become so.”—“Yes.”—“When, in the presence of evil it is not yet evil, that very presence causes it to desire good; but that presence of evil in it, which makes it evil, puts an end to its desire & love of good, for it then is no longer neither good nor bad, but bad: & what is bad cannot be friendly to what is good.”—“Certainly.”—“We may therefore say, that those who are already wise, (whether they be men or Gods) no longer philosophize (love wisdom), & on the other hand, neither do those philosophize who are so ignorant as to be bad. For no bad & inept person philosophizes. There remain only those who have this evil, ignorance, but are not yet rendered silly or inept by it,—who still think themselves not to know what they really do not know. Therefore, those philosophize who are not yet either good nor bad: Those who are good, & those who are bad, do not philosophize; for, as we have seen, contraries are not fond of contraries, nor like of like.”—Menexenus & Lysis assented.—“Now,” said Socrates, “we have found out what are & are not friends. We have found, that, whether in body, in mind, or in any thing else, what is neither good nor bad is the friend of what is good, by the presence of evil.”—They both concurred, & Socrates, in telling the story, says, that he was extremely delighted, like a hunter who had secured his game. But soon, a troublesome suspicion seized him, that the things they had assented to were wrong, & he told them, he was afraid their wealth was visionary. “When a person is a friend, he must be the friend of somebody.”—“He must.”—“Is he so, for the sake of & in consequence of nothing, or for the sake of & in consequence of something?”—“For the sake of & in consequence of something.”—“And that something, for the sake of which one man is the friend of another, is it an object of friendship or neither of friendship nor of hatred?”—“I do not quite follow you.”—“I am not surprised: you will perhaps follow me better this way—&I shall understand myself better. The sick man, we said, has a friendship for the physician.”—“Yes.”—“In consequence of disease, & for the sake of health.”—“Yes.”—“Disease is an evil.”—“It is.”—“Health; is it an evil, a good, or neither?”—“A good.”—“We said, that the body being neither good nor evil, is friendly to medicine, in consequence of disease, that is, in consequence of evil; medicine being a good. And medicine became the object of this friendship for the sake of health; health being a good.”—“Yes.”—“Is health an object of friendship, or of hatred?”—“Of friendship.”—“Disease is an object of hatred.”—“Yes.”—“Then what is neither good nor evil is, (in consequence of what is evil & odious,) friendly to good, for the sake of what is good & an object of friendship.”—“It seems so.”—“Then every object of friendship, is so for the sake of some object of friendship & in consequence of some object of hatred.”—“So it seems.”—“Well then, since we have come to this point, let us see that we be not deceived. I let alone that what is friendly, has been found to be so to something friendly, & like, to be friendly to like, which we said was impossible. But let us consider this, that we may not be deceived in what we are now saying. Medicine, we say, is an object of friendship for the sake of health.”—“Yes.”—“Then health is an object of friendship.”—“Certainly.”—“But if it be so, it is so for the sake of something.”—“Yes.”—“Of some object of friendship, then, if it is to agree with our former admissions.”—“Yes.”—“Then that also will be an object of friendship for the sake of some other object of friendship.”—“Yes.”—“Then is it not necessary that we should stop somewhere in this progression, & arrive at some principle, which will no longer be referred back to some other object of friendship, but which is itself the primary object of friendship, & for the sake of which we say, that all other things are so?”—“It is.”—“Now I suspect, that all these other things which we say are objects of friendship for the sake of this first principle, are mere copies & semblances of it, which impose upon us; & there is no real object of friendship except that. Let us consider thus. Suppose that a person values any particular thing exceedingly, as for instance a father sometimes values his son above all other possessions: Might not such a man value some other thing much, by reason of his valuing his son supremely? For instance if his son had taken poison, & wine were an antidote, he would value wine exceedingly.”—“What then?”—“And consequently, the vessel in which the wine is.”—“Certainly.”—“Could it be said, however, that he valued an earthen pot, or half a pint of wine, as much as his own son? Or is not the case rather this, that what he really cares for in all his trouble & anxiety, is not those things which are provided for the sake of something else, but that something else, for the sake of which they are provided. It is true, we often say, that we greatly value money; but the truth is not so: What we really value supremely, is that for the sake of which money & all other things that we provide, are provided.”—“True.”—“Then we shall say the same about friendship. Those things which are dear to us for the sake of something else, we shall call by some other name: that alone is really an object of friendship, in which all these other attachments terminate.”—“So it seems.”—“Then what is really an object of friendship, is not so for the sake of some other object of friendship.”—“True.”—“Then this we have set at rest. But is good an object of friendship?”—“It seems to me to be so.”—“Is, then, Good an object of friendship on account of evil, & does the case stand thus, If, of the three things which we have mentioned, Good & Evil & what is neither good nor evil, two were left, but the third, viz. Evil, were absolutely extirpated & did not exist in any body or any mind or in any of the things which we call Good & Evil in themselves, would Good in that case be of no use to us? for if nothing any longer hurt us, we should not stand in need of any benefit. And in this manner it would be obvious that we loved Good on account of Evil, to wit as a medicine for it, Evil being a disease; & where there is no disease there needs no medicine. Is this then the case, that Good is loved by us, who are between good & evil, on account of evil, but is of no use in itself?”—“It seems to be so.”—“Then that primary object of friendship, in which all those things terminate, which we said were objects of friendship for the sake of something else, is not at all like those things themselves. For they, it appeared, were objects of friendship for the sake of an object of friendship. But the primary & real object of friendship has turned out to be in the contrary case: it is an object of friendship on account of an object of hatred: for if there were no objects of hatred, there would, it appears, be no objects of friendship left.”—“It would appear so from our last argument.”—“If, then, Evil were extirpated, should we no longer be hungry or thirsty or any thing of that sort? Or would there still be hunger, (if there be men & animals) but not detrimental? & likewise thirst & other desires, but not evil desires, evil being destroyed? Or is it a ridiculous question, what there would be or would not be in such a case; for who can tell? But we know this, that at present it is possible to be hungry detrimentally to ourselves, & it is also possible to be so beneficially.”—“True.”—“And so of thirst & all other such desires: we may have the desire beneficially, we may have it detrimentally, we may have it neither way.”—“Certainly.”—“Now, if evil is destroyed, why should those things which are not evil, be destroyed with it?”—“They need not.”—“Then those desires which are neither good nor evil, will still subsist.”—“It seems so.”—“Can we desire, & love a thing, without its being the object of our friendship?”—“I should think not.”—“Then if all evil things were destroyed, there would still be some objects of friendship.”—“Yes.”—“But if Evil were the cause of any thing’s being an object of friendship, there could be no objects of friendship after it was destroyed: for the cause ceasing, the effect would cease.”—“True.”—“But we had concluded, that whatever is friendly, was friendly to some thing, & in consequence of some thing: & we thought, that what is neither good nor evil, was friendly to good, in consequence of evil.”—“We did.”—“But now it seems that there is some other cause of friendship.”—“It seems so.”
“Is then, in reality, as we said just now, desire the cause of friendship? And is that which desires, friendly to that which it desires, at the time when it desires it? & was all the account we before gave of friendship, mere trifling?”—“It must be.”—“But that which desires, desires something which it is in want of.”—“True.”—“Then, that which is wanting, is an object of friendship to that which it is wanting to.”—“Yes.”—“But it is wanting, to that from which it is taken away.”—“Certainly.”—“It seems then, that love, & friendship, & desire, are for what is part of ourselves.”—“Agreed.”—“And if you two, Menexenus & Lysis, are friends, you must be of kindred natures.”—“Granted.”—“And if one person desires, or loves another, he would not have done so if he had not been akin to the person he loves, either in mind, or at least in some habit or disposition of the mind, or in form.”—“Certainly,” answered Menexenus: but Lysis was silent.—“And we found, that what is akin to us by nature, was necessarily an object of attachment to us.”—“It seems so.”—“Then a genuine, & not a pretended lover, must of necessity be an object of attachment to the person whom he loves.”—Lysis & Menexenus with some difficulty assented, while Hippothales, says the narrator, turned all sorts of colours with delight.
Socrates however resumed: “If kindred be not the same thing with like, what we are now saying about friendship may amount to something: But if kindred, & like, be the same thing, it is not easy to get rid of our former argument, that like, quâ like, is useless to its like; & what is useless cannot possibly be an object of friendship. Shall we therefore concede, that kindred is not the same thing with like?”—“Yes.”—“Shall we say, then, that Good is akin to every thing, Evil foreign to every thing? Or is Evil akin to evil, & good to good, & what is neither, to what is neither?”—“As you said last.”—“We have fallen back then to our first doctrines respecting friendship, which we have rejected. For by this account, the unjust & the wicked would be no less a friend to the unjust & wicked, than the good to the good.”—“So it appears.”—“If, on the other hand, we say that Good & Kindred are the same, the good man would be the only friend.”—“Yes.”—“But this, we thought we had refuted: do not you remember?”—“We do.”—“What then shall we do with the argument? Nothing at all? For if neither those who love, nor those who are loved, nor those who are like, nor those who are unlike, nor those who are good, nor those who are kindred, nor all the others whom we mentioned, for there were more of them than I remember;—if none of these be an object of friendship, I do not know what to say. Now, Lysis & Menexenus, we have all of us made ourselves ridiculous, I, an old man, & you. For the bystanders will report that we think we are each other’s friends, (for I account myself as one of you) but that we have not been able to find out what a friend is.”
And having thus as usual thrown the whole subject into a puzzle and then laughed at himself for doing so, he breaks off.
[* ]Or rather ϕιλία. No one who is not conversant with the general vagueness and various applications of this Greek word, can entirely comprehend some of the puzzles in this dialogue.
[[*] ]See Homer, Odyssey, trans. Murray, p. 166 (XVII, 218).
[[*] ]Hesiod, Works and Days, trans. Evelyn-White, p. 4 (25-6).
[* ]“The Beautiful is the object of friendship.”