Rival Lovers

Recommended translation:

  • "Rival Lovers," trans. J. Leake in The Roots of Political Philosophy, ed. Thomas L. Pangle (Cornell, 1987).


I entered the grammar school of the teacher Dionysius, and saw there the young men who are accounted the most comely in form and of distinguished family, and their lovers. Now it chanced that two of the young people were disputing, but about what, I did not clearly overhear: it appeared, however, that they were disputing either about Anaxagoras or about Oenopides; at any rate, they appeared to be drawing circles, and they were imitating certain inclinations with their arms, bending to it and taking it most earnestly. Then I—for I was sitting beside the lover of one of the pair—nudged him with my elbow and asked him what on earth the two youngsters were so earnest about, and I said: Is it then something great and fine, in which they are so earnestly immersed?

Great and fine, indeed! he replied: why, these fellows are prating about the heavenly bodies, and babbling philosophy.

Then I, surprised at his answer, said: Young man, do you consider philosophizing to be shameful? Else, why do you speak so sharply?

Then the other youth—for he chanced to be sitting near him, as his rival in love—when he heard my question and his rival’s answer, said: You do yourself no good, Socrates, by pressing this fellow with a further question, as to whether he considers philosophizing to be shameful. Do you not know that he has spent the whole of his life in practising the neckhold, and stuffing himself, and sleeping? So why did you suppose he would make any other reply than that philosophy is shameful?

Amazon (Recommended Translation: Leake)
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