Key to Reading Unit 24

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Unit Key 23

Unit Key 25

Unit 24

1. One must accept the smallest of evils.

2. As a human being I erred; there is no cause for surprise.

3. You see that, even among the gods, it is fine to gain profit, and the [god] who has most gold in his temples is admired. What then prevents you from making [lit. getting] a gain, if it is permitted to be like the gods?

4. For absolute power is aimed at from all quarters with terrible desire; we must be on our guard concerning it.

5. A just man is not the one who does no wrong, but the one who does not wish to do wrong, even when he has the power (lit. being able).

6. Marry the woman, not the dowry.

7. Be the same when you are judging both friends and enemies (lit. not friends).

8. Do not reveal the secrets of a friend for the sake of anger.

9. The man who knows nothing errs in no respect.

10. It is better to be silent than to speak what is not fitting.

11. One must labour on behalf of one's wife and one's friend.

12. Furthermore, gentlemen, it was worth watching Socrates when our army was retreating in flight from Delium. I happened to be there in the cavalry (lit.. having a horse), he in the infantry (lit. [having] arms). Now, as the men were already scattered, he was retreating in the company of Laches (lit. and at the same time Laches). I came upon them, and, as soon as I saw them, I urged them to keep their courage up. I said that I would not abandon them. On that occasion I got a better view of Socrates than at Potidaea - for I myself was less afraid because I was on horseback - first of all [of] how much he outclassed Laches in his self-possession, and then he seemed to me, Aristophanes, [to quote] that line you wrote, to be walking along there just as [he does] here, 'swaggering and looking from side to side,' quietly glancing sideways at both friend and foe, and making it clear to everyone, even at a considerable distance, that, if anyone laid a hand on this person, he would defend himself very vigorously. Therefore, both he and his companion got safely away; for, as a general rule, [the enemy] do not lay a hand on those who adopt this attitude in war, but pursue those who flee in headlong flight. (Adapted from Plato Symposium 221 A-C)

13. O my children, my children, you have a city and a home, in which, after leaving me in my misery, you will dwell, always deprived of your mother; and I shall go in exile to another land, before finding joy in you and looking upon your happiness (lit. [you being] happy), before decking out for you the bath and wife and marriage-bed and holding up torches. O deeply miserable am I because of my wilfulness. In vain, then, my children, I nurtured you, in vain I laboured and was tortured with pangs, bearing cruel pains at your birth. Many indeed were the hopes I once had in you, wretch that I am, that you would tend me in old age and that, when I died, you would decently enshroud me with your hands, a [duty that is] envied among men. But, as it is, that sweet thought is gone. For, bereft of you both, I shall lead a life painful and grievous for me; and you will no longer see your mother with your dear eyes, when you have been removed to another form of life. Alas, alas! Why do you look at me with your eyes, my children? Why do you laugh this last laugh? (Euripides Medea 1021-1041).

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(c) Gavin Betts, Alan Henry 2001