On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:19 am

ON TYRANNY
by Leo Strauss
Revised and Expanded Edition Including the Strauss-Kojeve Correspondence
Edited by Victor Gourevitch and Michael S. Roth
© 1961, 1991, 2000 by the Estate of Leo Strauss

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Table of Contents:

• Preface and Acknowledgments
• Introduction
• I. On Tyranny
o Xenophon: Hiero or Tyrannicus
o Leo Strauss: On Tyranny
 Introduction
 I. The Problem
 II. The Title and the Form
 III. The Setting
 IV. The Teaching Concerning Tyranny
 V. The Two Ways of Life
 VI. Pleasure and Virtue
 VII. Piety and Law
o Notes to On Tyranny
• II. The Strauss-Kojeve Debate
o Alexandre Kojeve: Tyranny and Wisdom
o Leo Strauss: Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero
• III. The Strauss-Kojeve Correspondence
o Letters
o Editorial Notes
o Name Index
o Subject Index

We have therefore to consider whether the thesis that tyranny can live up to the highest political standard is defensible on the basis of Xenophon's, or Socrates', political philosophy.

To begin with, it must appear most paradoxical that Xenophon should have had any liking whatsoever for tyranny however good. Tyranny at its best is still rule without laws and, according to Socrates' definition, justice is identical with legality or obedience to laws. Thus tyranny in any form seems to be irreconcilable with the requirement of justice. On the other hand, tyranny would become morally possible if the identification of "just" and "legal" were not absolutely correct, or if "everything according to law were (only) somehow (Image) just." The laws which determine what is legal are the rules of conduct upon which the citizens have agreed. "The citizens" may be "the multitude" or "the few"; "the few" may be the rich or the virtuous. That is to say, the laws, and hence what is legal, depend on the political order of the community for which they are given. Could Xenophon or his Socrates have believed that the difference between laws depending on a faulty political order and laws depending on a good political order is wholly irrelevant as far as justice is concerned? Could they have believed that rules prescribed by a monarch, i.e., not by "the citizens," cannot be laws? Besides, is it wholly irrelevant for justice whether what the laws prescribe is reasonable or unreasonable, good or bad? Finally, is it wholly irrelevant for justice whether the laws enacted by the legislator (the many, the few, the monarch) are forcibly imposed on, or voluntarily agreed to by, the other members of the community? Questions such as these are not raised by Xenophon, or his Socrates, but only by Xenophon's young and rash Alcibiades who, however, was a pupil of Socrates at the time when he raised those questions; only Alcibiades, and not Socrates, is presented by Xenophon as raising the Socratic question, "What is law?" Socrates' doubt of the unqualified identification of justice and legality is intimated, however, by the facts that, on the one hand, he considers an enactment of the "legislator" Critias and his fellows a "law" which, he says, he is prepared to obey; and that, on the other hand, he actually disobeys it because it is "against the laws." But apart from the consideration that the identification of "just" and "legal" would make impossible the evidently necessary distinction between just and unjust laws, there are elements of justice which necessarily transcend the dimension of the legal. Ingratitude, e.g., while not being illegal, is unjust. The justice in business dealings -- Aristotle's commutative justice proper -- which is possible under a tyrant, is for this very reason not essentially dependent on law. Xenophon is thus led to suggest another definition, a more adequate definition, of justice. According to it, the just man is a man who does not hurt anyone, but helps everyone who has dealings with him. To be just, in other words, simply means to be beneficent. If justice is then essentially translegal, rule without laws may very well be just: beneficent absolute rule is just. Absolute rule of a man who knows how to rule, who is a born ruler, is actually superior to the rule of laws, in so far as the good ruler is "a seeing law," and laws do not "see," or legal justice is blind. Whereas a good ruler is necessarily beneficent, laws are not necessarily beneficent. To say nothing of laws which are actually bad and harmful, even good laws suffer from the fact that they cannot "see." Now, tyranny is absolute monarchic rule. Hence the rule of an excellent tyrant is superior to, or more just than, rule of laws. Xenophon's realization of the problem of law, his understanding of the essence of law, his having raised and answered the Socratic question, "What is law?" enables and compels him to grant that tyranny may live up to the highest political standard. His giving, in the Hiero, a greater weight to the praise of tyranny than to the indictment of tyranny is then more than an accidental consequence of his decision to present the teaching concerning tyranny in the form of a dialogue.

***

The meaning of this difference is indicated by Simonides in his praise of the beneficent ruler. The beneficent ruler will be loved by his subjects, he will be passionately desired by human beings, he will have earned the affectionate regard of many cities, whereas he will be praised by all human beings and will be admirable in the eyes of all. Everyone present, but not everyone absent, will be his ally, just as not everyone will be afraid that something might happen to him and not everyone will desire to serve him. Precisely by making his city happy, he will antagonize and hurt her enemies who cannot be expected to love him and to extol his victory. But even the enemies will have to admit that he is a great man: they will admire him and praise his virtue. The beneficent ruler will be praised and admired by all men, whereas he will not be loved by all men: the range of love is more limited than that of admiration or praise. Each man loves what is somehow his own, his private possession; admiration or praise is concerned with the excellent regardless of whether it is one's own or not. Love as distinguished from admiration requires proximity. The range of love is limited not only in regard to space, but likewise -- although Xenophon's Simonides in his delicacy refrains from even alluding to it -- in regard to time. A man may be admired many generations after his death whereas he will cease to be loved once those who knew him well are dead. Desire for "inextinguishable fame," as distinguished from desire for love, enables a man to liberate himself from the shackles of the Here and Now. The beneficent ruler is praised and admired by all men, whereas he is loved mainly by his subjects: the limits of love coincide normally with the borders of the political community, whereas admiration of human excellence knows no boundaries. The beneficent ruler is loved by those whom he benefits or serves on account of his benefits or services, whereas he is admired even by those to whom he has done the greatest harm and certainly by many whom he did not serve or benefit at all: admiration seems to be less mercenary than love. Those who admire the beneficent ruler while loving him do not necessarily make a distinction between their benefactor and the man of excellence; but those who admire him without loving him -- e.g., the enemy cities -- rise above the vulgar error of mistaking one's benefactor for the man of excellence. Admiration is as much superior to love as the man of excellence is to one's benefactor as such. To express this somewhat differently, love has no criterion of its relevance outside itself, but admiration has. If admiration does not presuppose services rendered by the admired to the admirer, one is led to wonder whether it presupposes any services, or any prospect of services, by the admired at all. This question is answered explicitly in the affirmative by Hiero, and tacitly in the negative by Simonides. Hiero is right as regards the ruler: the ruler does not gain the admiration of all men but by rendering services to his subjects. Simonides is right as regards the wise man: the wise man is admired, not on account of any services which he renders to others, but simply because he is what he is. The wise man need not be a benefactor at all in order to be admired as a man of excellence. More precisely: the specific function of the ruler is to be beneficent; he is essentially a benefactor; the specific function of the wise man is to understand; he is a benefactor only accidentally. The wise man is as self-sufficient as is humanly possible; the admiration which he gains is essentially a tribute to his perfection, and not a reward for any services. The desire for praise and admiration as distinguished and divorced from the desire for love is the natural foundation for the predominance of the desire for one's own perfection. This is what Xenophon subtly indicates by presenting Simonides as chiefly interested in the pleasures of eating, whereas Hiero appears to be chiefly interested in the pleasures of sex: for the enjoyment of food, as distinguished from sexual enjoyments, one does not need other human beings.

***

That examination leads to the conclusion suggested by Hiero that friendship has a higher value than city or fatherland or patriotism. Friendship, i.e., being loved and cared for by the small number of human beings whom one knows intimately (one's nearest relatives and companions) is not only "a very great good"; it is also "very pleasant." It is a very great good because it is intrinsically pleasant. Trust, i.e., one's trusting others, is "a great good." It is not a very great good, because it is not so much intrinsically pleasant as the conditio sine qua non of intrinsically pleasant relations. A man whom one trusts is not yet a friend: a servant or a bodyguard must be trustworthy, but there is no reason why they ought to be one's friends. While trust is not intrinsically pleasant, it stands in a fairly close relation to pleasure: when discussing trust, Hiero mentions pleasure three times. On the other hand, in the passage immediately following in which he discusses "fatherlands," he does not mention pleasure at all. Not only are "fatherlands" not intrinsically pleasant, they do not even stand in a close relation to pleasure. "Fatherlands are worth very much" because the citizens afford each other protection without pay against violent death and thus enable each citizen to live in safety. That for which the fatherland is "worth very much" is life in safety; safety, or freedom from fear, the spoiler of all pleasures, is the conditio sine qua non of every pleasure however insignificant; but to live in safety and to live pleasantly are clearly two different things. More precisely, the fatherland is not, as is trust, the specific condition of the great pleasures deriving from friendship: "strangers," men like Simonides, may enjoy friendship. Friendship and trust are good for human beings as such, but the cities are good primarily, not to say exclusively, for the citizens and the rulers; they are certainly less good for strangers, and still less for slaves. The fatherland, or the city, is good for the citizens because it liberates them from fear. This does not mean that it abolishes fear; it rather replaces one kind of fear (the fear of enemies, evil-doers, and slaves) by another (the fear of the laws or of the law-enforcing authorities). The city, as distinguished from friendship and trust, is not possible without compulsion; and compulsion, constraint, or necessity (Image) is essentially unpleasant. Friendship, i.e., being loved, is pleasant, while being patriotic is necessary. While friendship, as praised by Hiero, is not only pleasant but also good, its goodness is not moral goodness or nobility

***

I do not believe in the possibility of a conversation of Socrates with the people (it is not clear to me what you think about this); the relation of the philosopher to the people is mediated by a certain kind of rhetoricians who arouse fear of punishment after death; the philosophers can guide these rhetoricians but cannot do their work.

***

I am one of those who refuse to go through open doors when one can enter just as well through a keyhole....Only a teleological concept of nature can help out here.... As regards p. 13 of the Restatement (Hitler), I am perfectly ready to strike the three sentences in the middle of the paragraph: "As is shown by his reference...under his rule." But I cannot accept your suggestion to replace "good tyranny" with some other expression....I particularly liked your sensible comment about the old women or the adolescents who call themselves philosophers and savor their "tragic" condition instead of making an effort like reasonable people....I believe that you underestimate the positive side of manliness; in the Republic everyone is just and moderate, but only the elite is manly (and wise); manliness and wisdom belong together...This attracts me as every ingenious malice would....The primary correction, therefore, is this: if philosophy's quest is for the knowledge of the whole, and if the whole must be understood in the light of ideas, there must be ideas of "everything."... My general reaction to your statements is that we are poles apart. The root of the question is I suppose the same as it always was, that you are convinced of the truth of Hegel (Marx) and I am not. You have never given me an answer to my questions: a) was Nietzsche not right in describing the Hegelian-Marxian end as "the last man"? and b) what would you put into the place of Hegel's philosophy of nature?...I am looking forward with the utmost interest to your history of pagan philosophy. I am glad to see that, as is indicated by the adjective, you have returned to the faith of your fathers. -- Strauss

***

Enclosed a picture of Hitler which -- in my opinion -- explains a great deal: the man is really very congenial and "cozy....Be that as it may, Theatetus is nevertheless depicted as philosophically "dumb" and a "chatter-box" ("amateur-philosopher" in the manner of Einstein).... only when the body is "negated" does the soul become "pure" idea, and only man can "negate" his body (on the basis of diairesis without koinonia, which precisely allows the body to be understood as non-A, where the Non, which appears as space-time, is derived from the non-existing dyad.)...Proclus himself was the originator of many previously unknown doctrines in natural, intellectual and even more divine subjects. He was the first to claim that there was a genus of souls who were able to perceive many Ideas at one time and who occupied a middle position between the Nous which knows everything at once and those souls who can concentrate upon only one Idea at a time....In regard to this he had the following wonderful dream: the great Plutarch [Syriannus's teacher] appeared to him and foretold that he would live for as many years as there were four-page sheets in his works on the oracles; afterwards he counted these and found that there were 70. That the dream had been divine was proved by the close of his life. For although he really lived, as was said before, for 75 years, during the last five years he was no longer strong. To be sure, he still prayed, even in this condition, composed hymns, but he did everything in accordance with this weakened condition so that he marvelled whenever he thought of the dream and constantly said: "I have really lived for only 70 years ...Proclus proceeded step by step; first he was cleansed by the Chaldean purification; then he held converse, as he himself mentions in one of his works, with the luminous apparitions of Hecate which he conjured up himself; then he caused rain-falls by correctly moving the wry-neckbird wheel, by this means he saved Athens from a severe drought. He proposed means to prevent earthquakes; he tested the divinatory power of the tripod; and even wrote verses about his own destiny...I was afraid lest, in the words of Ibycus, I might win the esteem of men by sinning, not against the gods, as he said, but against a wise man [sc. Proclus], especially since it would not have been right that I alone of all his friends should keep silent and should not, on the contrary, make every effort to tell the truth about him, in spite of the fact that of all men I was under the greatest obligation to speak out openly. Perhaps, in fact, I might not have even won men's esteem, because they would not have attributed to modesty my refusal to undertake this task but to mental laziness or even a worse fault of soul. For all these reasons, therefore, I felt myself compelled to set forth at least some of the countless superior accomplishments of the philosopher Proclus and some of the things that have been truly reported about him....This genuinely platonic conception was tried ("monks") for a thousand years (by both Christians and Muslims), and degenerated into Bayle's Republic of Letters which remains "alive" to this day. Betrayal of the Intellectuals). Genuine politicians (statesmen) were always opposed to this (as Julian already was): namely, what Plato may really have meant was of no concern to them, and what they (mis)understood of Plato was naturally "utopian" (because it could only be carried out by a "superhuman" tyranny). That is how it stood until Hegel-Marx: for they did not want either to destroy the Academy (= "monasteries") or to render them inactive and ineffectual, but wanted on the contrary to transform them into a "polis."...Julian was of the opinion (as were Dam<ascius> and Farabi) that Plato thought exactly as they did, and only never said so openly. -- Kojeve

***

Constitutional" authority ought to be given to the equitable men (epieikeis), i.e., to gentlemen -- preferably an urban patriciate which derives its income from the cultivation of its landed estates. It is true that it is at least partly a matter of accident -- of the accident of birth -- whether a given individual does or does not belong to the class of gentlemen and has thereby had an opportunity of being brought up in the proper manner. But in the absence of absolute rule of the wise on the one hand, and on the other hand of a degree of abundance which is possible only on the basis of unlimited technological progress with all its terrible hazards, the apparently just alternative to aristocracy open or disguised will be permanent revolution, i.e., permanent chaos in which life will be not only poor and short but brutish as well.

***

The philosopher's dominating passion is the desire for truth, i.e., for knowledge of the eternal order, or the eternal cause or causes of the whole. As he looks up in search for the eternal order, all human things and all human concerns reveal themselves to him in all clarity as paltry and ephemeral, and no one can find solid happiness in what he knows to be paltry and ephemeral. He has then the same experience regarding all human things, nay, regarding man himself, which the man of high ambition has regarding the low and narrow goals, or the cheap happiness, of the general run of men. The philosopher, being the man of the largest views, is the only man who can be properly described as possessing megaloprepreia (which is commonly rendered by "magnificence") (Plato, Republic 486a). Or, as Xenophon indicates, the philosopher is the only man who is truly ambitious. Chiefly concerned with eternal beings, or the "ideas," and hence also with the "idea" of man, he is as unconcerned as possible with individual and perishable human beings and hence also with his own "individuality," or his body, as well as with the sum total of all individual human beings and their "historical" procession. He knows as little as possible about the way to the market place, to say nothing of the market place itself, and he almost as little knows whether his very neighbor is a human being or some other animal (Plato, Theaetetus 173c8-dl, 174bl-6).

But if the philosopher is radically detached from human beings as human beings, why does he communicate his knowledge, or his questionings, to others? Why was the same Socrates, who said that the philosopher does not even know the way to the market place, almost constantly in the market place? Why was the same Socrates, who said that the philosopher barely knows whether his neighbor is a human being, so well informed about so many trivial details regarding his neighbors? The philosopher's radical detachment from human beings must then be compatible with an attachment to human beings. While trying to transcend humanity (for wisdom is divine) or while trying to make it his sole business to die and to be dead to all human things, the philosopher cannot help living as a human being who as such cannot be dead to human concerns, although his soul will not be in these concerns.

The philosopher cannot devote his life to his own work if other people do not take care of the needs of his body. Philosophy is possible only in a society in which there is "division of labor." The philosopher needs the services of other human beings and has to pay for them with services of his own if he does not want to be reproved as a thief or fraud. But man's need for other men's services is founded on the fact that man is by nature a social animal or that the human individual is not self-sufficient. There is therefore a natural attachment of man to man which is prior to any calculation of mutual benefit. This natural attachment to human beings is weakened in the case of the philosopher by his attachment to the eternal beings. On the other hand, the philosopher is immune to the most common and the most powerful dissolvent of man's natural attachment to man, the desire to have more than one has already and in particular to have more than others have; for he has the greatest self-sufficiency which is humanly possible. Hence the philosopher will not hurt anyone. While he cannot help being more attached to his family and his city than to strangers, he is free from the delusions bred by collective egoisms; his benevolence or humanity extends to all human beings with whom he comes into contact. (Memorabilia 12.60-61; 6.10; IV 8.11.) Since he fully realizes the limits set to all human action and all human planning (for what has come into being must perish again), he does not expect salvation or satisfaction from the establishment of the simply best social order. He will therefore not engage in revolutionary or subversive activity. But he will try to help his fellow man by mitigating, as far as in him lies, the evils which are inseparable from the human condition. (Plato, Theaetetus 176a5-b1; Seventh Letter 331c7-d5; Aristotle, Politics 130la39-b2.) In particular, he will give advice to his city or to other rulers. Since all advice of this kind presupposes comprehensive reflections which as such are the business of the philosopher, he must first have become a political philosopher. After this preparation he will act as Simonides did when he talked to Hiero, or as Socrates did when he talked to Alcibiades, Critias, Charmides, Critobulus, the younger Pericles and others....

The philosopher's attempt to grasp the eternal order is necessarily an ascent from the perishable things which as such reflect the eternal order. Of all perishable things known to us, those which reflect that order most, or which are most akin to that order, are the souls of men. But the souls of men reflect the eternal order in different degrees. A soul that is in good order or healthy reflects it to a higher degree than a soul that is chaotic or diseased. The philosopher who as such has had a glimpse of the eternal order is therefore particularly sensitive to the difference among human souls. In the first place, he alone knows what a healthy or well-ordered soul is. And secondly, precisely because he has had a glimpse of the eternal order, he cannot help being intensely pleased by the aspect of a healthy or well-ordered soul, and he cannot help being intensely pained by the aspect of a diseased or chaotic soul, without regard to his own needs or benefits. Hence he cannot help being attached to men of well-ordered souls: he desires "to be together" with such men all the time. He admires such men not on account of any services which they may render to him but simply because they are what they are. On the other hand, he cannot help being repelled by ill-ordered souls. He avoids men of ill-ordered souls as much as he can, while trying of course not to offend them. Last but not least, he is highly sensitive to the promise of good or ill order, or of happiness or misery, which is held out by the souls of the young. Hence he cannot help desiring, without any regard to his own needs or benefits, that those among the young whose souls are by nature fitted for it, acquire good order of their souls. But the good order of the soul is philosophizing. The philosopher therefore has the urge to educate potential philosophers simply because he cannot help loving well-ordered souls.

-- On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss


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Re: On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:21 am

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Leo Strauss

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Alexandre Kojeve

Preface and Acknowledgments

On Tyranny, Leo Strauss's critical study of Xenophon's Hiero, was first published in 1948. A French edition appeared in 1954, which, in addition to Strauss's original study, included a French version of the Hiero, a slightly edited version of Alexandre Kojeve's important review of Strauss's study, and a "Restatement" by Strauss that briefly replies to a review by Professor Eric Voegelin and goes on to challenge Kojeve's review point by point. A volume containing essentially the same texts appeared in English in 1963. We are happy to be able to bring out a new edition of this now classic volume, enlarged by the full surviving correspondence between Strauss and Kojeve.

We have taken the opportunity provided by this re-publication to correct various errors in the earlier edition, and to revise the translations. We are particularly grateful to Professor Seth Benardete for his careful review of the translation of the Hiero. The earlier version of Kojeve's "Tyranny and Wisdom" required such extensive revisions, that we for all intents and purposes re-translated it.

We have restored the important concluding paragraph of Strauss's "Restatement" which appeared in the original French edition but was omitted from the subsequent American edition. Unfortunately we did not find a copy of Strauss's English-language original, and we therefore had to translate the published French translation of that paragraph.

In our Introduction we chose to concentrate on the issues raised in the texts that are included in the present volume, and in particular on the debate between Strauss and Kojeve. Readers interested in the broader context of that debate will find it discussed more fully in Victor Gourevitch, "Philosophy and Politics," I-II, The Review of Metaphysics, 1968, 32: 58-84, 281-328; and in "The Problem of Natural Right and the Fundamental Alternatives in Natural Right and History," in The Crisis of Liberal Democracy, K. Deutsch and W. Soffer eds., SUNY Press, 1987, pp. 30-47; as well as in Michael Roth's Knowing and History: Appropriations of Hegelin Twentieth Century France (Cornell 1988); and in "The Problem of Recognition: Alexandre Kojeve and the End of History," History and Theory, 1985, 24: 293-306.

We have been reluctant to come between the reader and the texts, and have therefore kept editorial intrusions to a minimum. Unless otherwise indicated, they are placed between wedge-brackets: < >.

Michael Roth found the Strauss letters among Kojeve's papers in the course of research for his Knowing and History. Kojeve's surviving letters to Strauss are preserved in the Strauss Archive of the University of Chicago Library. We wish to thank Nina Ivanoff, Kojeve's legatee, for permission to publish the Strauss letters, and Professor Joseph Cropsey, Executor of the Literary Estate of Leo Strauss, as well as the University of Chicago Archives, for permission to publish the Kojeve letters. We are also grateful to Mr. Laurence Berns for placing the photograph of Strauss at our disposal and to Nina Ivanoff for placing the photograph of Kojeve at our disposal.

Victor Gourevitch transcribed, translated, and annotated the Correspondence, and wrote the Prefatory Note to it. We collaborated on the Introduction.

V.G., M.S.R.
June 1990

Preface to the University of Chicago Edition

We welcome this opportunity to restore the acknowledgment (unfortunately omitted from the first printing) of the efforts of Jenny Strauss Clay, George Elliot Tucker, Suzanne Klein, and Heinrich Meier in the early stages of transcribing Strauss's letters, and of the help Herbert A. Arnold and Krishna R. Winston gave us in reviewing portions of the translation of the correspondence.

We are pleased to have been able to restore the concluding paragraph of Strauss's "Restatement" as he wrote it. Laurence Berns very kindly placed his copy of the English original at our disposal.

We have corrected the typographical errors that vigilant readers were good enough to point out, and have brought some of the editorial notes up to date.

V.G., M.S.R.
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Re: On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:31 am

Introduction

Over the last decade there has been a lively debate about the nature of modernity. Can it be that we have passed from a modern to a post-modern age? And, if we have made this transition, how can we evaluate the history that has led to it? Or is it the case that the transition is marked by our inability to make such evaluations? This new edition of On Tyranny recalls two earlier positions about modernity: those of Leo Strauss and Alexandre Kojeve. In their debate about tyranny, and in their correspondence, we see articulated the fundamental alternatives regarding the possibility and the responsibilities of philosophy now.

The debate between them is most unusual. It ranges from comparatively superficial political differences to basic disagreements about first principles. As a rule, when disagreement is this deep and this passionate, there is little serious discussion. Here, the parties' desire to understand the issues is greater than their attachment to their own position. That is one reason why they state their positions so radically. They know perfectly well that, for the most part, it is not sensible to reduce the philosophical or the political alternatives to only two. But the exercise does help to bring the issues into crisp focus.

The advantages in presenting these various related texts together are obvious. The major drawback in doing so is perhaps less immediately apparent: by being made part of a larger whole, Strauss's original On Tyranny becomes difficult to see on its own terms. Yet it is worth the effort. On Tyranny is a close reading of Xenophon's short dialogue between Hiero, tyrant of Syracuse, and Simonides, the wise poet, about the burdens of tyranny and about how these burdens might be lightened. Strauss was an exemplary reader. He read with respect and an open mind. Because he read in order to learn, he read critically. But nothing was more alien to him than to use texts as pretexts for displays of his own ingenuity. On Tyranny was his first published full-length analysis of a single classical work, and it remains the most accessible of his close readings. It seems fitting that it should have been devoted to a dialogue. He very reasonably assumes that careful writers choose the form in which they present their thought, and that the difference between a dialogue and a treatise is therefore of philosophic import. Accordingly, he attends as closely to a dialogue's setting, characters, and actions, as he does to its speeches. On Tyranny illustrates how much one's understanding of a dialogue's argument can be enriched by such close attention to its dramatic features. Strauss's way of reading goes directly counter to Hegel's view that the dramatic features of the dialogue are mere embellishments. The difference between the two approaches is vividly illustrated by the contrast between Kojeve's Hegelian reading of Plato, and Strauss's reading of the same dialogues. In discussing these differences Strauss succinctly states his principles of interpretation, and he goes on to comment briefly but interestingly on a number of dialogues which he never discussed in print. This series of letters about Plato -- beginning with Kojeve's letter of 11 April 1957, and ending with Strauss's letter of 11 September 1957 -- might usefully be read in conjunction with Strauss's interpretation of the Hiero. It is altogether one of the high points of this correspondence.

Strauss opens On Tyranny defiantly: modern political science is so lacking in understanding of the most massive political phenomena, that it cannot even recognize the worst tyrannies for what they are.

. . . when we were brought face to face with tyranny -- with a kind of tyranny that surpassed the boldest imagination of the most powerful thinkers of the past -- our political science failed to recognize it. (23; 177).


In view of the failure of "our political science," he invites us to reconsider how classical political philosophy or science understood tyranny. The invitation immediately raises the question of how classical thought could possibly do justice to political phenomena so radically different from those of which it had direct experience. The question presupposes the truth of Hegel's claim that "philosophy is its own time grasped in thought." One of the aims of On Tyranny is to challenge that claim. The basic premise of classical political philosophy which Strauss invites us to reconsider is that the fundamental problems -- and in particular the fundamental problems of political life -- are, at least in principle, always and everywhere accessible. Now, "[t]yranny is a danger coeval with political life" (22), and reflection on political life suggests that "society will always try to tyrannize thought" (27). Reflection on tyranny thus leads to reflection on the relation between thought or philosophy and society. Strauss therefore gradually shifts the focus of his inquiry from tyranny proper to the relation between philosophy and society. In his view, the Hiero enacts the classical, Socratic understanding of that relation: Simonides represents the philosophic life, and Hiero the political life. Now, the relation of philosophy and society is as central to the understanding of modern tyranny as it is to the understanding of ancient tyranny. For while modern tyranny owes its distinctive character to ideology and to technology, ideology and technology are products or by-products of the specifically modern understanding of the relationship between philosophy and society (23). Strauss makes himself the spokesman for the classical understanding of this relationship, and Kojeve makes himself the spokesman for the modern understanding of it.

The two fully agree that there is a tension, indeed a conflict, between philosophy and society (195, 205, cp. 27); and they agree that philosophy or wisdom ranks highest in the order of ends, that it is the architectonic end or principle (Introduction ala lecture de Hegel, Paris, Gallimard, 1947, pp. 303, 95, 273-275, 397f; 15 September 1950). They disagree about whether the conflict between philosophy and society can -- and should -- be resolved. In other words, they disagree about the possibility of a fully rational society. The choice is clear: to try as far as possible to elude the conflict between philosophy and society by maintaining as great a distance as possible between them; or to try as far as possible to resolve the conflict between philosophy and society by working for a reconciliation between them. Strauss opts for the first alternative; Kojeve for the second.

For Strauss the conflict between philosophy and society is inevitable because society rests on a shared trust in shared beliefs, and philosophy questions every trust and authority. He sides with Plato against Kojeve's Hegel in holding that philosophy cannot cease to be a quest and become wisdom simply.

Philosophy as such is nothing but genuine awareness of the problems, i.e., of the fundamental and comprehensive problems. It is impossible to think about these problems without becoming inclined toward a solution, toward one or the other of the very few solutions. Yet as long as there is no wisdom but only quest for wisdom, the evidence of all solutions is necessarily smaller than the evidence of the problems. (196; 16 January 1934, 28 May 1957).


Philosophy is inherently skeptical or "zetetic" (196). It therefore threatens to undermine society's self-confidence and to sap its will. It must therefore take account of society's requirements. But the moment it yields to them, it ceases to be philosophy and becomes dogmatism. It must therefore go its own way. The human problem does not admit of a political solution (182).

Kojeve rejects that conclusion. In his view, the philosopher who finds himself faced by inconsistencies -- "contradictions" -- in the practices and beliefs of his society or of his age, cannot leave it at resolving them "merely" in thought. He must resolve them in deed as well. The only effective way to resolve "contradictions" -- the only effective way to resolve any differences among men or between men and nature -- is by laboring and struggling to change the reality that exhibited them in the first place: to change men's attitudes, beliefs, ways of life, through enlightenment or ideology; and to change their material conditions of life through the mastery and control of nature or technology (178). All significant theoretical disagreements are at the same time practical. It follows that they can also not be resolved by oneself alone, but can only be resolved together, by the combined efforts of each and all. Philosophy is necessarily political, and politics philosophical. Or, as Kojeve puts it, anyone seriously intent on knowing, in the strong sense of the term, will be driven to "verify" his merely "subjective certainties" (152, 163f, 166).

Now, as long as a man is alone in knowing something, he can never be sure that he truly knows it. If, as a consistent atheist, one replaces God (taken as consciousness and will surpassing human consciousness and will) by Society (the State) and History, one must say that whatever is, in fact, outside of the range of social and historical verification is forever relegated to the domain of opinion (doxa). (p. 161).


The only way to "verify" our opinions is to have them "recognized." Recognition "verifies" our "subjective certainty" that what is "for us" is also "for others." It thus establishes an "intersubjective consensus." Recognition is necessarily mutual. There is therefore always also a moral dimension to recognition. At a minimum, recognition is always also recognition of others as free and equal. It follows that philosophical progress is possible only hand in hand with moral and political progress (174f). "History," in the strong sense Kojeve attaches to the term, is, then, the history of successive "verifications" "recognized." "Recognition" makes for "satisfaction." Kojeve prefers to speak of "satisfaction" rather than of "happiness" because, once again, "satisfaction" is a more public, and hence a more "objective" criterion than "happiness," which tends to be private or "subjective." Recognition makes for satisfaction; whether it also makes for happiness is another question entirely (22 June 1946, 8 June 1956; Hegel, e.g Vernunft in der Geschichte, Lasson ed., Meiner, 1930, pp. 70, 78). History in the strong sense of the term, men's millennial labor and struggle to achieve satisfaction through recognition, is, then, the successive actualization and "verification" of harmony among men, and conformity between them and their world. In short, history is the progressive recognition of the proposition that all men are free and equal.

Kojeve argues that, in the final analysis, the quest for mutual recognition can only be satisfied in what he calls the "universal and homogeneous state." Anything short of "homogeneity," that is to say of equality, would leave open the possibility of arbitrary distinctions of class, status, gender. Anything short of "universality" would leave open the possibility of sectarian, religious, or national rivalries, and of continuing civil and foreign wars. In the universal and homogenous state everyone "knows" and lives in the "knowledge" that everyone enjoys equal dignity, and this knowledge is embedded in the state's practices and institutions (e.g., Introduction, 184f). Once all recognize that all are free, there is no further collective dis-satisfaction, hence no further collective seeking or striving, and in particular no further collective labor and struggle for new modes and orders or for a new understanding. Once men are free and universally recognize that they are, history, in the strong sense of the term, is at an end. And in so far as political and philosophical progress go hand in hand, so does their fulfillment. The end of history therefore also marks the end of philosophy or of the quest for wisdom, and the beginning of the reign of wisdom simply (e.g., Introduction, 435n).

For Kojeve's Hegel, history was the revelation of truth, and this truth was revealed primarily through the various turns taken by the master-slave dialectic. The master-slave dialectic was the motor of history, and the desire for recognition its fuel. Why did the central role which Kojeve assigned to the master-slave dialectic prove so powerful? Kojeve's Hegel was certainly a dramatic pragmatist. Truth and successful action were tied together, and progress was accomplished through labor and bloody battles for recognition. Kojeve claimed that he was able to make sense of the totality of history and of the structure of human desire by looking at them through lenses ground against the texts of Marx and Heidegger. History and desire became understandable when their ends, their goals, became clear. Kojeve claimed to provide this clarity, and he couched his interpretation in the form of a political propaganda which would further the revolution that would confirm the interpretation itself. In the 1930s Kojeve thought that Hegel's philosophy promoted the self-consciousness that is appropriate to the final stage of history, a stage which would be characterized by satisfaction of the fundamental human desire for mutual and equal recognition. Kojeve -- and everybody else -- could also see who the enemies of equality were, and thus the battle lines for the final struggle for recognition were clear. Philosophy and revolution were linked in what would be the culmination of world history.

After the War, perhaps in response to Strauss's sharp criticisms of his views, especially in his letter of 22 August 1948, and perhaps also in response to what he may have perceived as an increasingly congealed political environment, Kojeve abandoned his "heroic Hegelianism," his confidence in the meaning and direction of history. His late work no longer took the form of propaganda aimed at stimulating a revolutionary self- consciousness. It took the form, instead, of a commentary on a history that had already run its course. The change in the place of revolution entailed a change in the form of his philosophy: he shifts from being a dramatic pragmatist to being an ironic culture critic. He continued to believe that the culmination of world history would define the truth of all previous events, and he continued to write of Hegelian philosophy as providing this truth. Instead of situating this philosophy at the onset of the culmination, however, in his late work Kojeve claims that the end of history has already occurred. Once it became clear that revolution was not just about to occur, the only political rhetoric possible for Kojeve's Hegelianism was in the mode of irony. The ironic edge of much of his late work results from his valorization of self-consciousness even when progress is not possible.

The expressions "the end of history" and "the end of philosophy" have become fashionable and hence virtually empty slogans. In our time, Kojeve was the first seriously to think what such expressions might mean.

With a certain rhetorical flourish, he maintained that history "ended" in 1806 with Napoleon's victory over Prussia in the battle of Jena, a victory which opened the rest of Europe and, in the long run, the rest of the world to the principles of the French Revolution.

What has happened since then has been nothing but an extension in space of the universal revolutionary force actualized in France by Robespierre-Napoleon. From the genuinely historical perspective, the two World Wars with their train of small and large revolutions have only had the effect of bringing the backward civilizations of the outlying provinces into line with the (really or virtually) most advanced European historical stages. If the sovietization of Russia and the communization of China are anything more and other than the democratization of Imperial Germany (by way of Hitlerism) or of the accession of Togo to independence, or even of the self-determination of the Papuans, they are so only because the Sino-Soviet actualization of Robespierran Bonapartism compels post-Napoleonic Europe to accelerate the elimination of the numerous more or less anachronistic remainders of its pre-revolutionary past. This process of elimination is already more advanced in the North American extensions of Europe than it is in Europe itself. It might even be said that, from a certain point of view, the United States has already reached the final stage of Marxist "communism," since all the members of a "classless society" can, for all practical purposes, acquire whatever they please, whenever they please, without having to work for it any more than they are inclined to do. (Introduction, 2nd ed., p. 436n; J. H. Nichols Jr. translation, pp. 160f, somewhat altered.)


Clearly, if the Russian and the Chinese Revolutions, the two World Wars, Stalinism and Hiterlism merely confirm -- "verify" -- it, then "the end of history" cannot possibly mean that nothing more happens. It can only mean that nothing radically new can be achieved, nothing comparable in magnitude to the recognition, at all levels of life and over the entire face of the earth, that, in Hegel's phrase, all men are free; or, as Kojeve's phrase "universal and homogeneous state" suggests, that all are free and equal. But that does not by any means entail an end to politics. As Strauss notes, Kojeve holds out no prospect of the state's ever withering away (210).

Kojeve argues that if history is the millennial struggle to achieve freedom and equality, then the end of history also marks the end of "historical man," of man striving and struggling, in short of man as we have so far known him. (19 September 1950, Introduction, 387 n. 1, 434, 64). He does not share Marx's vision of an end of history that opens to "the realm of true freedom," in which men might hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, farm in the evening, and engage in criticism after dinner, without needing to become hunters, fishermen, farmers, or critics (Kapital, III, 48, iii; German Ideology, I A). Nor does he expect that once men have achieved freedom and equality, they will go on and seek to achieve the noble or the good. He envisages, rather, that most men, satisfied with one another's mutual recognition, doing whatever they do without purpose or constraints, and free to acquire and consume to their hearts' content, would do what is right and avoid doing what is wrong because nothing would constrain them to do otherwise. They would not be heroes; but, he appears to think, neither would they be villains. They will be mere "automata" that might assert a remnant of humanity by such utterly formal rituals of pure snobbishness as tea-ceremonies, flower arrangements, or Noh plays. As for the few who remain dissatisfied with their aimless existence in the universal and homogenous state, they will seek wisdom. Since they live in an essentially rational order, they no longer need to change it in order to understand. They can now "merely" contemplate (September 19, 1950; Introduction, 440n; second edition, 436n). "The owl of Minerva takes flight at dusk."

"One more word about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it... When philosophy paints its gloomy picture then a form of life has grown old. It cannot be rejuvenated by the gloomy picture, but only understood. Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly.”

—G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right (1820), "Preface"


It is a constant of Kojeve's thought that the end, so understood, is good and desirable. Kojevian philosophers will therefore do what they can to embed freedom and equality in practices and institutions, or "at least accept and 'justify' such action if someone somewhere engages in it." (Introduction 291, 29 October 1953 i.f.) One cannot help wondering how Kojeve reconciles arguing for universal recognition with "accepting" and "justifying" the worst tyrants of the age. It is true that in "Tyranny and Wisdom" his advice to tyrants is to work for mutual recognition in the universal homogeneous state, in other words for "liberalization" and, at least in the long run, for some form of democracy. He, of course, knew that if his advice were to have reached the tyrant, the tyrant would, at best, have turned a deaf ear to it. But Kojeve also knew that deeds carry more weight than speeches, and regardless of what he may have said, his actions were designed to put as much pressure as he could on the tyrant. He quite rightly thought that the European Economic Community which he was helping to establish, could become an economic power capable of standing up to the Soviet Union, and hence of forcing it to liberalize (19 September 1950). He evidently also came to think of the European Economic Community and of the Soviet Union as the most plausible alternative models for the "universal and homogeneous state," and he spent the last twenty-five years of his life trying to tip the balance in favor of the European model. He did not turn his back on the horrors of the age and, "like a man in a storm, seek shelter behind a wall."

The end of history, as Kojeve understands it, also marks "the end of philosophy." Indeed, he regards the universal and homogeneous state as the goal and fulfillment of history only because he regards it as the necessary condition for the comprehensive, coherent, hence definitive, hence true account; in short, for wisdom (19 September 1950; Introduction, 288f, 291). Wisdom is the architectonic principle. The comprehensive and coherent account is "circular": it explains and resolves the conflicts between "all" alternative, provisional-earlier accounts, at the same time as it accounts for itself. Provisional accounts, that is to say philosophy or philosophies in the strict sense of the term, are inevitably shadowed by skepticism. The comprehensive and coherent account would overcome that skepticism.

Skepticism is one thing; relativism is another thing entirely. Skepticism leaves open the possibility of a definitive account. Relativism categorically denies that possibility. The most typical and influential versions of relativism accept Hegel's argument that, up to "now," being, life, and thought have been through and through historical, but reject his conclusion, that history has "now" ended. They hold that history cannot "end," and that therefore there cannot "ever" be a definitive account. Kojeve and Strauss are at one in categorically rejecting this decapitated Hegelianism (e.g., 19 September 1950, 1 August 1957 i.f.) Kojeve rejects it in the name of the comprehensive and coherent account, and Strauss in the name of skepticism or, as he prefers to call it, zeteticism.

Kojeve does not think that "the end of philosophy" leaves nothing to think about, or that men would cease to think. Rather, as far as we can tell, or, as he says, as far as he can tell, there would henceforth be no occasion for thinking which, in the language of the long note quoted on p. xv makes a difference from "the genuinely historical perspective." Henceforth men think "merely" in order to understand. Henceforth to think is to re-think or to re-collect (erinnern) and to re-construct history, and most particularly the history of philosophy, and re-confirm its end. It is in this spirit that Kojeve thought his later studies in ancient philosophy about which he speaks at such length in his correspondence with Strauss.

***

Strauss rejects Kojeve's reconciliation of philosophy and society root and branch. It is not necessary, it is not desirable, it is not even possible. One aim -- perhaps the main aim -- of his study of the Hiero is to present the alternative to the arguments in support of their reconciliation, and he seizes the opportunity to restate that alternative in his reply to Kojeve's review. In his judgment, that review only confirms that the effort to reconcile philosophy and society is bound to be destructive of both. It thus once again confirms the need to sort out -- to "de-construct" -- their entanglement, and to restore their classical separation.

Strauss grants, indeed he stresses, that the philosophic life, as he envisages it, is essentially a life apart. It is as self-sufficient as is humanly possible. The philosophers' "self-admiration or self-satisfaction does not have to be confirmed by others to be reasonable" (204). He does not protest when Kojeve calls this account of the philosophic life "Epicurean." Nor is he deterred by Kojeve's "verificationist" argument. Subjective certainty is regrettable; it may be inescapable. Philosophers have always tended to cluster in rival sects. But, he adds in a clear allusion to the life-long friendly disagreements between Kojeve and himself, "recognition" among philosophers can also transcend sectarian allegiances. Amicus Plato. However, while "recognition" need not remain restricted to members of the same sect, it cannot be universal. Universal recognition slights or altogether ignores the difference between the competent and the incompetent, or between knowledge and opinion. As a matter of fact, the desire for recognition is not a desire for knowledge at all. The desire for recognition is nothing but vanity by another name: Recognitio recognitiorum (209). Kojeve had sought to ward off this criticism by speaking of "earned recognition" (156). But earned recognition, the recognition we have earned from those who have earned ours, simply cannot be reconciled with the equal and universal recognition Kojeve calls for. "Recognition" can, then, not solve the problem of philosophic isolation. Kojeve's argument for verification by recognition -- that philosophers must change the world as well as themselves in order to bring it and their otherwise merely subjective certainties into harmony -- is therefore without force. So, therefore, is the conclusion that philosophy is necessarily political (207f, 195f, 202f).

More precisely, Strauss fully grants, indeed he stresses that philosophy is inevitably political, if only because philosophers live in political communities. But he denies that philosophy needs to contribute to the improvement of any given political order. It does not need to do so for its own good, and it is not obligated to do so for the common good. For the contradictions in men's beliefs and practices cannot be resolved in deed. What is more, philosophy does not require a just, or even a coherent political order. Philosophy and philosophical education thrive in the most diverse regimes, and they necessarily come into conflict with all regimes. Philosophy will therefore always and everywhere have to protect itself against the suspicion or even the outright accusation of corrupting the young, and of propagating skepticism and atheism. To that end it engages in what Strauss calls "philosophic politics," the effort by philosophers always and everywhere to win their society's tolerance and even approval by persuading it that philosophers cherish what it cherishes and abhor what it abhors (205f). Whereas Kojeve assigns the task of mediating between philosophy and the political community to intellectuals who try to bring philosophy to the community and to enlighten it (173), Strauss assigns the task of mediating between them to rhetoricians who, like Prospero's art, try to protect philosophy and the community from one another (205f):

I do not believe in the possibility of a conversation of Socrates with the people (it is not clear to me what you think about this); the relation of the philosopher to the people is mediated by a certain kind of rhetoricians who arouse fear of punishment after death; the philosophers can guide these rhetoricians but cannot do their work (this is the meaning of the Gorgias). (22 April 1957)


For Strauss it is primarily the manner of philosophy that is political. For Kojeve it is just as much its matter.

Kojeve's argument stands or falls with his claim that the reconciliation of philosophy and society makes it possible to put an end to philosophy as quest, and provides the conditions for wisdom understood as the definitive, comprehensive, and coherent account. Such an account would, in Kojeve's terse formula, deduce everything we (can) say from the mere fact that we speak (29 October 1953). He evidently does not think it necessary -- or possible -- also to deduce "the fact that we speak." Yet wisdom as he conceives of it, the comprehensive and coherent, i.e. "circular" account, would require him to deduce it: man is not simply self-caused. The comprehensive and coherent account would therefore require a deductive account of man, hence of living beings, hence of nature. Hegel attempted such a deduction. Kojeve consistently denies that such a deduction or, indeed, any discursive account of nature is possible (Introduction 166-168, 378). The question therefore arises whether his account can, even if only in principle, be comprehensive and coherent. The same question arises in an only slightly different guise as soon as one pauses to reflect on Kojeve's claim that the reconciliation between philosophy and society required for his comprehensive and coherent account presupposes the mastery and control of nature; and thus presupposes that nature yields to man's will and reason (Introduction, 301). In other words, as Strauss points out, it presupposes an anthropocentric teleology or providence. If one rejects that presupposition, as Kojeve explicitly does and as Strauss does tacitly, then philosophy cannot overcome skepticism. "Nature" places limits on our capacity to give a comprehensive account. Strauss therefore calls into question the claim that philosophy and society are or can be fully reconciled. The problem of nature can no more be set aside, than it can be disposed of by "recognition" (28 May 1957, 279; cp. 22 August 1948, 237; see also Natural Right and History, p. 173 n. 9).

As for the moral dimension of "recognition," Strauss rejects out of hand the proposition that people can or should be satisfied with everyone's recognition of everyone's equal freedom of opportunity and dignity. (207f, 209.) He frequently leaves the reader with the distinct impression that, in his view, freedom and equality are not so much goals as they are concessions to weakness and passion. He challenges Kojeve to show how the citizens of his universal and homogeneous end-state differ from Nietzsche's "last men." (208; 22 August 1948, 239; 11 Sept. 1957,291; see Thus Spake Zarathustra, I, 3-5.) The last men are self-absorbed and self-satisfied. They know neither wonder nor awe, neither fear nor shame. Their souls are atrophied. They are utterly repugnant. The mere fact that we cannot help recoiling from them clearly shows that we aspire to more than the satisfaction of being recognized as free and equal. In particular, a political society that does not allow adequate scope for the soul's aspiration to greatness might succeed in destroying or subjugating man's humanity for a time, but it is most likely to lead to its own destruction in the long run. When souls driven by great ambition are denied scope to seek what is noble and beautiful, they will become bent on destruction. If they cannot be heroes, they will become villains. With these few terse references to the soul, Strauss returns to the problem of nature, and most specifically to the problem of human nature: any adequate ethics and politics has to take the nature of the soul into account. Kojeve grants that if there is a human nature, Strauss is right. But he rejects human nature as a standard, and he most particularly rejects it as the standard for morals or politics:

the question arises whether there is not a contradiction between speaking about "ethics" and "ought" on the one hand, and about conforming to a "given" or "innate" human nature on the other. For animals, which unquestionably have such a nature, are not morally "good" or "evil," but at most healthy or sick, and wild or trained. One might therefore conclude that it is precisely ancient anthropology that would lead to mass-training and eugenics. (29 October 1953).


For once Kojeve's language takes on a very sharp edge: Massendressur or mass-training, and Volkshygiene or eugenics, inevitably call to mind Nazi language and practice. Still, regardless of what one thinks of such charges of "biologism," the problem is not resolved by ignoring nature, or by invoking Geist or esprit. For Kojeve the struggles and bloody battles by which Geist conquers nature are not just figures of speech. Earlier in the same letter, he had defended Stalin's and Mao's collectivizations. The term he chose, Kollektivierungsaktion, clearly acknowledges the ruthless brutality of these collectivizations. He appears to have shared Hegel's chilling judgment that "the wounds of the Spirit heal without scars." (In late 1999, unconfirmed press reports alleged that Kojeve had been involved in some unspecified way with the Soviet secret services.)









On Tyranny is dedicated to the effort to restore classical political philosophy. The reader may therefore be somewhat startled to find Strauss assert that

[i]t would not be difficult to show that ... liberal or constitutional democracy comes closer to what the classics demanded than any alternative that is viable in our age. (194).


He does not say what alternatives to liberal or constitutional democracy he considers viable in our age. Nor does he show the affinity between the political orders which the classics favored -- or even those which they found merely acceptable -- and modern liberal democracy. Aristotle's mixed regime is sometimes said to come close to our liberal democracy. But no one ever derived modern liberal democracy from Aristotle's principles (cp. e.g. Politics III, ix, 8). It may, of course, seem that, to paraphrase a remark of Strauss's about the relation between natural right and divine revelation, once the idea of liberal democracy has emerged and become a matter of course, it can easily be accommodated to classical political philosophy. But to judge by the efforts of thoughtful and patriotic scholars who have tried to reconcile classical political philosophy with modern liberal democracy, all such attempts end either in admissions of failure, or in concessions to the moderns -- regarding, for example, natural rights, commercial republicanism, or technology -- which Strauss consistently refused to make (205; 223, 190, 22, 207). His suggestion that liberal democracy be justified in terms of the classics is, therefore, perhaps best understood as a suggestion for a radical revision of our conception of liberal democracy.

***

The correspondence confirms what attentive readers had noticed long ago, that although Heidegger is never mentioned in the published debate, he is present throughout it. It is not surprising that he should be. Both Strauss and Kojeve had been deeply impressed by him in their formative years. And besides, how could they, how could anyone reflect on the relations between tyranny and philosophy during the years when the full horror of Nazism was being uncovered, without being constantly mindful of the only significant thinker who joined the Nazis and, what is more, who did so in the name of his teaching? Perhaps no major thinker in the history of philosophy ever so compromised the good name of philosophy or so radically challenged in deed the Socratic dictum that knowledge is virtue, and its correlate, that the soul insensibly conforms to the objects to which it attends. He would seem to be the target of the concluding lines in Strauss's original "Restatement:" et humiliter serviebant et superbe dominabantur -- "either humbly slavish, or ruling haughtily" -- a slight paraphrase of what Livy says about the nature of the mob as he recounts how it behaved during and immediately after the tyranny of another, later Hiero of Syracuse (XXIV, xxv, 8). We can only speculate about Strauss's reasons for omitting this passage from the subsequently published English versions of this text. It seems plausible that by the time he did so, he had decided to speak out about Heidegger explicitly and at length, and that he wished his public comments to be suitably modulated. But there is no reason at all to doubt that reflection on Heidegger's political career only confirmed him -- as well as Kojeve -- in the conviction that the thinking of what is first in itself or of Being has to remain continuous with what is first for us, the political life.

The dialogue between Strauss and Kojeve does not end in reconciliation. Both are willing to accept the full consequences of their respective positions. At the same time, precisely because it does not end in reconciliation, their dialogue helps us to see more clearly the temptations and the risks of the most basic alternatives before us.
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Re: On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:40 am

Xenophon: Hiero or Tyrannicus

1


(1) Simonides the poet came once upon a time to Hiero the tyrant. After both had found leisure, Simonides said,

"Would you be willing, Hiero, to explain what you probably know better than I?"

"And just what sort are they," said Hiero, "which I myself would know better than so wise a man as you?"

(2) "I know for my part," he said, "that you have been a private man and are now a tyrant. It is likely, then, that since you have experienced both, you also know better than I how the tyrannical and the private life differ in human joys and pains."

(3) "Then why don't you remind me of the things in private life," said Hiero, "since, at present at least, you are still a private man? For in this way I think I would best be able to show you the difference in each."

(4) So Simonides spoke in this way: "Well then, Hiero, I seem to have observed that private men feel pleasure and distress at sights through the eyes, at sounds through the ears, at smells through the nose, at foods and drinks through the mouth, and as to sex through what, of course, we all know. (5) As to what is cold and hot, hard and soft, light and heavy, when we distinguish between them, we seem to me to be pleased and pained by them with our entire body. And we seem to me to enjoy and be pained by what is good and bad sometimes through the soul alone, and at other times through the soul and through the body. (6) That we are pleased by sleep I imagine I'm aware, but how, but what, and when-of this I believe I am somehow more ignorant," he said. "And perhaps it is not to be wondered that things in waking give us clearer perceptions than do things in sleep. "

(7) Now to this Hiero replied: "Then I for one, Simonides," he said, "would certainly be unable to say how the tyrant can perceive anything other than these things you yourself have mentioned. So that up to this point at least I do not know whether the tyrannical life differs in any respect from the private life. "

(8) Simonides spoke. "But in this way it does differ," he said, "[the tyrant's] pleasure is multiplied many times over through each of these means, and he has the painful things far less.

"That is not so, Simonides," Hiero said. "Know well tyrants have much fewer pleasures than private men who live on modest means, and they have far more and greater pains."

(9) "What you say is incredible," said Simonides. "For if this were the case, why would many desire to be tyrant and, what's more, many who are reputed to be most able men? And why would all be jealous of the tyrants?"

(10) "By Zeus," said Hiero, "because they speculate about it, although they are inexperienced in the deeds of both lives. I will try to teach you that I speak the truth, beginning with sight; for I seem to recall you also began speaking there.

(11) "In the first place, when I reason on it, I find that tyrants are at a disadvantage in the spectacles which impress us through vision. For one thing, there are different things in different countries worth seeing. Private men go to each of these places, and to whatever cities they please, for the sake of spectacles. And they go to the common festivals, where the things which human beings hold most worth seeing are brought together. (12) But tyrants have little share in viewing these, for it is not safe for them to go where they are not going to be stronger than those who will be present. Nor is what they possess at home secure enough for them to entrust it to others and go abroad. For there is the fear that they will at the same time be deprived of their rule and become powerless to take vengeance on those who have committed the injustice.

(13) "Perhaps, then, you may say, 'But after all [sights] of this kind come to them, even when they remain at home.' By Zeus, yes, Simonides, but only few of many; and these, being of such a kind, are sold to tyrants at such a price that those who display anything at all expect to leave, receiving from the tyrant in a moment an amount multiplied many times over what they acquire from all human beings besides in their entire lifetime."

(14) And Simonides said, "But if you are worse off with respect to spectacles, you at least gain the advantage through hearing; since you never lack praise, the sweetest sound. For all who are in your presence praise everything you say and everything you do. You in turn are out of the range of abuse, the harshest of things to hear; for no one is willing to accuse a tyrant to his face."

(15) Hiero spoke. "What pleasure," he said, "do you think a tyrant gets from those who say nothing bad, when he knows clearly every thought these silent men have is bad for him? Or what pleasure do you think he gets from those who praise him, when he suspects them of bestowing their praise for the sake of flattery?"

(16) And Simonides said, "By Zeus, this I certainly grant you, Hiero: the sweetest praise comes from those who are free in the highest degree. But, you see, you still would not persuade any human being that you do not get much more pleasure from that which nourishes us humans."

(17) "I know, at least, Simonides," he said, "that the majority judge we drink and eat with more pleasure than private men, believing they themselves would dine more. pleasantly on the dish served to us than the one served to them; for what surpasses the ordinary causes the pleasures. (18) For this reason all human beings save tyrants anticipate feasts with delight. For [tyrants'] tables are always prepared for them in such abundance that they admit no possibility of increase at feasts. So, first in this pleasure of hope [tyrants] are worse off than private men." (19) "Next," he said, "I know well that you too have experience of this, that the more someone is served with an amount beyond what is sufficient, the more quickly he is struck with satiety of eating. So in the duration of pleasure too, one who is served many dishes fares worse than those who live in a moderate way."

(20) "But, by Zeus," Simonides said, "for as long as the soul is attracted, is the time that those who are nourished by richer dishes have much more pleasure than those served cheaper fare."

(21) "Then do you think, Simonides," said Hiero, "that the man who gets the most pleasure from each act also has the most love for it?"

"Certainly," he said.

"Well, then, do you see tyrants going to their fare with any more pleasure than private men to theirs?"

"No, by Zeus," he said, "I certainly do not, but, as it would seem to many, even more sourly. "

(22) "For why else," said Hiero, "do you see so many contrived dishes served to tyrants: sharp, bitter, sour, and the like?"

"Certainly," Simonides said, "and they seem to me very unnatural for human beings."

(23) "Do you think these foods," said Hiero, "anything else but objects of desire to a soft and sick soul? Since I myself know well, and presumably you know too, that those who eat with pleasure need none of these sophistries."

(24) "Well, and what is more," said Simonides, "as for these expensive scents you anoint yourself with, I suppose those near you enjoy them more than you yourselves do; just as a man who has eaten does not himself perceive graceless odors as much as those near him."

(25) "Moreover," said Hiero, "so with respect to food, the one who always has all kinds takes none of it with longing. But the one who lacks something takes his fill with delight whenever it comes to sight before him."

(26) "It is probable that the enjoyment of sex," said Simonides, "comes dangerously close to producing desires for tyranny. For there it is possible for you to have intercourse with the fairest you see."

(27) "But now," said Hiero, "you have mentioned the very thing -- know well -- in which, if at all, we are at a greater disadvantage than private men. For as regards marriage, first there is marriage with those superior in wealth and power, which I presume is held to be the noblest, and to confer a certain pleasurable distinction on the bridegroom. Secondly, there is marriage with equals. But marriage with those who are lower is considered very dishonorable and useless. (28) Well then, unless the tyrant marries a foreign woman, necessity compels him to marry an inferior, so that what would content him is not readily accessible to him. Furthermore, it is attentions from the proudest women which give the most pleasure, whereas attentions from slaves, even when they are available, do not content at all, and rather occasion fits of terrible anger and pain if anything is neglected.

(29) "But in the pleasures of sex with boys the tyrant comes off still much worse than in those with women for begetting offspring. For I presume we all know these pleasures of sex give much greater enjoyment when accompanied with love. (30) But love in turn is least of all willing to arise in the tyrant, for love takes pleasure in longing not for what is at hand, but for what is hoped for. Then, just as a man without experience of thirst would not enjoy drinking, so too the man without experience of love is without experience of the sweetest pleasures of sex." So Hiero spoke.

(31) Simonides laughed at this and said, "What do you mean, Hiero? So you deny that love of boys arises naturally in a tyrant? How could you, in that case, love Dailochus, the one they call the fairest?"

(32) "By Zeus, Simonides," he said, "it is not because I particularly desire to get what seems available in him, but to win what is very ill-suited for a tyrant. (33) Because I love Dailochus for that very thing which nature perhaps compels a human being to want from the fair, and it is this I love to win; but I desire very deeply to win it with love [*] and from one who is willing; and I think I desire less to take it from him by force than to do myself an injury. (34) I believe myself that to take from an unwilling enemy is the most pleasant of all things, but I think the favors are most pleasant from willing boys. (35) For instance, the glances of one who loves back are pleasant; the questions are pleasant and pleasant the answers; but fights and quarrels are the most sexually provocative. (36) It certainly seems to me," he said, "that pleasure taken from unwilling boys is more an act of robbery than of sex. Although the profit and vexation to his private enemy give certain pleasures to the robber, yet to take pleasure in the pain of whomever one loves, to kiss and be hated, to touch and be loathed -- must this not by now be a distressing and pitiful affliction? (37) To the private man it is immediately a sign that the beloved grants favors from love when he renders some service, because the private man knows his beloved serves under no compulsion. But it is never possible for the tyrant to trust that he is loved. (38) For we know as a matter of course that those who serve through fear try by every means in their power to make themselves appear to be like friends by the services of friends.

And what is more, plots against tyrants spring from none more than from those who pretend to love them most."

2

(1) To this Simonides said, "Well, these disadvantages you mention seem to me at least to be very trivial. For I see many," he said, "of those who are reputed to be real men, willingly suffer disadvantages in food, drink, and delicacies, and even refrain from sex. (2) But you tyrants far surpass private men surely in the following. You devise great enterprises; you execute them swiftly; you have the greatest amount of superfluous things; you own horses surpassing in virtue, arms surpassing in beauty, superior adornment for your women, the most magnificent houses, and these furnished with what is of the most value; moreover, the servants you possess are the best in their numbers and their knowledge; and you are the ones most capable of harming your private enemies and benefiting your friends."

(3) To this Hiero said, "I do not wonder at all that the multitude of human beings are utterly deceived by tyranny, Simonides. For the crowd seems to me to form the opinion that some men are happy and wretched by seeing. (4) Now tyranny displays openly, evident for all to see, the possessions which are held to be of much value. But it keeps what is harsh hidden in the tyrants' souls, where human happiness and unhappiness are stored up. (5) That this escapes the notice of the multitude is, as I said, not a wonder to me. But that you too are unaware of this, you who are reputed to get a finer view of most matters through your understanding than through your eyes, this I do hold to be a wonder. (6) But I myself know dearly from experience, Simonides, and I tell you that the tyrant has the least share of the greatest goods, and possesses the largest share of the greatest evils. (7) Take this for example: if peace is held to be a great good for human beings, for tyrants there is the least share in it; and if war is a great evil, in this tyrants get the largest share. (8) For, to begin with, it is possible for private men, unless their city is engaged in fighting a common war, to take a journey wherever they wish, without being afraid that someone will kill them. But the tyrants, all of them, proceed everywhere as through hostile territory. They themselves at least think it necessary to go armed and always to be surrounded by an armed bodyguard. (9) Moreover, if private men go on an expedition somewhere into enemy country, they believe they are safe at least after they have returned home. But the tyrants know that when they reach their own city they are then in the midst of the largest number of their enemies. (10) Again, if others who are stronger attack the city, and those outside the wall, being weaker, think they are in danger, all believe they have been rendered safe, at least after they have come within the fortifications. The tyrant, however, not even when he passes inside his house is free from danger; he thinks it is there that he must be particularly on his guard. (11) Furthermore, for private men, relief from war is brought about both by treaties and by peace. Whereas for tyrants peace is never made with those subject to their tyranny; nor could the tyrant be confident trusting for a moment to a treaty.

(12) "There are wars which cities wage and wars which tyrants wage against those they have subjected to force. Now in these wars, everything hard which the man in the cities undergoes, the tyrant too undergoes. (13) For both must be armed, must be on their guard, and run risks; and if, being beaten, they suffer some harm, each suffers pain from these wars. (14) Up to this point, then, the wars of both are equal. But when it comes to the pleasures which the men in the cities get from fighting the cities, these the tyrants cease to have. (15) For surely when the cities overpower their opponents in a battle, it is not easy to express how much pleasure [the men] get from routing the enemy; how much from the pursuit; how much from killing their enemies; how they exult in the deed; how they receive a brilliant reputation for themselves; and how they take delight in believing they have augmented their city. (16) Each one pretends that he shared in the planning and killed the most; and it is hard to find where they do not make some false additions, claiming they killed more than all who really died. So noble a thing does a great victory seem to them.

(17) "But when the tyrant suspects certain men of plotting against him, and, perceiving that they are in fact plotting, puts them to death, he knows that he does not augment the whole city; he knows without a doubt that he will rule fewer men, and he cannot be glad; he does not pride himself on the deed, but rather minimizes what has happened as much as he can, and while he does it he makes the apology that he has done it without committing injustice. Thus what he has done does not seem noble even to him. (18) And when they whom he feared are dead he is not any bolder, but is still more on his guard than before. So, then, the tyrant spends his life fighting the kind of war which I myself am showing you."

3

(1) "Now consider friendship in its turn, and how the tyrants partake of it. First let us reflect whether friendship is a great good for human beings. (2) For surely it is the case with a man who is loved by someone that the one who loves him gladly sees him present; gladly benefits him; longs for him if he is absent; welcomes him returning again; takes pleasure with him in the goods which are his; and comes to his aid if he sees him fallen into any trouble.

(3) "Moreover, it has not even escaped the notice of the cities that friendship is a very great good and very pleasant to human beings. At any rate, many cities have established a law that only adulterers may be killed with impunity, evidently for this reason, because they believe adulterers are destroyers of the wives' friendship for their husbands. (4) Since whenever a woman submits to intercourse by way of some misfortune, her husband honors her no less, as far as this goes, provided he is of the opinion that her friendship continues uncorrupted.

(5) "I myself judge being loved a good so great that I believe benefits actually come of themselves to the one who is loved, both from gods and men. (6) Yet in this kind of possession too, tyrants are at a disadvantage beyond all others.

"But if you wish to know, Simonides, that I speak the truth, reflect on this consideration. (7) For surely the firmest friendships are held to be those of parents for children, and children for their parents, brothers for their brothers, wives for their husbands, and comrades for comrades. (8) If, then, you are willing to reflect thoughtfully on it, you will find that private men are loved chiefly by these, whereas many tyrants have killed their own children, and many have themselves perished at the hands of their children; that many brothers in tyrannies have become one another's murderers; and that many tyrants have been brought to ruin both by their wives and by comrades who they thought were most their friends. (9) How should they believe they are loved by anyone else, inasmuch as they are so hated by such as are inclined by nature and compelled by law to love them?

4

(1) "Again, take trust also, who can share least in this and not suffer disadvantage in a great good? For what kind of companionship is sweet without mutual trust? What kind of intimacy is delightful to man and wife without trust? Or what kind of servant is pleasing if he is not trusted? (2) Now of this trusting someone, a tyrant has the least share; inasmuch as he not only spends his life without trusting his food and drink, but it is even a practice tyrants have, before they begin sacrifice to the gods, to first bid the attendants taste it, because of their distrust that even in that they may eat or drink something bad.

(3) "Fatherlands in their turn, are worth very much to other human beings. For citizens act as a bodyguard to one another against slaves, and against evil-doers, without pay, so that no citizen will meet a violent death. (4) And they have advanced so far in watchfulness that many have made a law that even the accomplice of a slayer is not free from taint. Thus, because of the fatherlands, each of the citizens lives his life in safety. (5) But in this too it is the reverse for the tyrants. For instead of avenging them, the cities magnificently honor the tyrannicide; and instead of excluding the killer from sacred rites, as they do the murderers of private men, the cities erect in their temples statues of those who have committed such an act.

(6) "And if you think that because the tyrant has more possessions than private men he gets more pleasure from them, this is not the case either, Simonides. But just as athletes do not enjoy proving stronger than private men, but are annoyed when they prove weaker than their opponents, so the tyrant gets no pleasure when he evidently has more than private men, but suffers pain when he has less than other tyrants. For these he regards as rivals for his own wealth.

(7) "Nor does something of what he desires come more quickly to the tyrant than to the private man. For the private man desires a house, or a field, or a domestic slave; but the tyrant desires cities, extensive territory, harbors, or mighty citadels, which are things much harder and more dangerous to win than the objects desired by private men.

(8) "And, furthermore, you will see but few private men as poor as many tyrants. For what is a large and sufficient amount is not judged by an enumeration, but with a view to its use. Accordingly, an amount which exceeds what is sufficient is large, but what falls short of sufficiency is small. (9) Now for the tyrant a multiplicity of possessions is less adequate for his necessary expenditures than for the private man. For private men can cut their daily expenditure in any way they wish, but the tyrants cannot, because their largest and most necessary expenses go to guard their lives. And to curtail these is thought to be ruinous.

(10) "Next, why would someone pity as poor all those who can get what they need by just means? And who would not justly call wretched and poor all those who are compelled by their need to live by contriving something bad and base? (11) Now the tyrants are compelled most of the time to plunder unjustly both temples and human beings, because they always need additional money to meet their necessary expenses. For, as if there were a perpetual war on, [tyrants] are compelled to support an army or perish."

5

(1) "I will tell you of another harsh affliction, Simonides, which the tyrants have. For although they are acquainted with the decent, the wise, and the just, no less than private men [the tyrants] fear rather than admire them. They fear the brave because they might dare something for the sake of freedom; the wise, because they might contrive something; and the just, because the multitude might desire to be ruled by them. (2) When, because of their fear, they do away secretly with such men, who is left for them to use save the unjust, the incontinent, and the slavish? The unjust are trusted because they are afraid, just as the tyrants are, that some day the cities, becoming free, will become their masters. The incontinent are trusted because they are at liberty for the present, and the slavish because not even they deem themselves worthy to be free. This affliction, then, seems harsh to me: to think some are good men, and yet to be compelled to make use of the others.

(3) "Moreover, the tyrant also is compelled to be a lover of the city; for without the city he would not be able either to preserve himself or to be happy. Yet tyranny compels to give trouble to even their own fatherlands. For they do not rejoice in making the citizens either brave or well-armed. Rather they take pleasure in making strangers more formidable than the citizens, and these strangers they use as bodyguards. (4) Furthermore, when good seasons come and there is an abundance of good things, not even then does the tyrant rejoice with them. For [tyrants] think that as men are more in want, they are more submissive for being used."

6

(1) "I wish, Simonides," he said, "to make clear to you those pleasures which I enjoyed when 1 was a private man; now, since I became a tyrant, I perceive that I am deprived of them. (2) I was together with companions of my own age, taking pleasure in them, and they in me; I was a companion to myself when I desired peace and tranquility; I lived amid banquets, often until I forgot everything harsh in human life, and often until my soul was completely absorbed in song, festivity, and dancing, and often until there was desire for intercourse between me and those who were present. (3) Now I am deprived of those who take pleasure in me, because I have slaves instead of friends for comrades. I myself am deprived of pleasant intimacy with them, because I see in them no good will for me. And I guard against strong drink and sleep as if I were in an ambush. (4) To fear the crowd, yet to fear solitude; to fear being without a guard, and to fear the very men who are guarding; to be unwilling to have unarmed men about me, yet not gladly to see them armed -- how could this fail to be a painful condition? (5) Furthermore, to trust strangers more than citizens, barbarians more than Greeks; to desire to keep the free slaves, and be compelled to make the slaves free -- do not all these things seem to you signs of a soul distracted by fears?

(6) "Fear, you know, when in the soul is not only painful itself, it also becomes the spoiler of all the pleasures it accompanies. (7) If you too have experience of war, Simonides, and have ever before now been posted near the enemy line, recall what sort of food you took at that time, and what sort of sleep you had. (8) The kind of pain you suffered then is the kind the tyrants have, and still more terrible. For the tyrants believe they see enemies not only in front of them, but on every side."

(9) After he heard this, Simonides interrupted and said, "I think you put some things extremely well. For war is a fearful thing. But nevertheless, Hiero, we at any rate post guards, when we are on a campaign, and take our share of food and sleep with confidence.

(10) And Hiero said, "Yes, by Zeus, Simonides, for the laws stand watch over the guards, so that they fear for themselves and in your behalf. But the tyrants hire guards, like harvesters, for pay. (11) And surely the guards, if they ought to be capable of doing anything, ought to be faithful. Yet one faithful man is much harder to find than a great many workers for whatever kind of task you wish, especially when those doing the guarding are only present for the sake of money, and when they may get in a moment much more by killing the tyrant than all they earn from him being his guards for a long time.

(12) "As to why you were jealous of us, because we are most able to benefit our friends, and because we, above all men, master our private enemies, this is not the case either. (13) For as to friends, how would you believe that you ever confer a benefit, when you know well that the one who receives the most from you would the most gladly get out of your sight as quickly as possible? For whatever it is he receives from a tyrant, no one believes it his own until he is beyond the tyrant's power to command. (14) As for private enemies in their turn, how would you say the tyrants have the most ability to master them, when they know well that all their subjects are their enemies, and when it is not possible either to kill all these outright or to put them in chains? For who then would be left for [the tyrant] to rule? But knowing that they are his enemies, he must at the same time guard against, and be compelled to make use of, these very men.

(15) "Know well, Simonides, that those whom they fear among the citizens they find it hard to see alive, and yet hard to kill. It is just as if there were a good horse who yet gives rise to the fear that he might do some irreparable harm; a man would find it hard to kill him because of his virtue, yet hard to manage him alive, being constantly alert against his working irreparable harm in the midst of danger. (16) So too with respect to as many other possessions as are hard to manage but useful; all alike give pain to their possessors, and to those who are rid of them."

7

(1) When he heard these things from [Hiero], Simonides spoke. "Honor," he said "seems to be something great, and human beings undergo all toil and endure all danger striving for it. (2) You too, apparently, although tyranny has as many difficulties as you say, nevertheless rush into it headlong in order that you may be honored, and in order that all -- all who are present -- may serve you in all your commands without excuses, admire you, rise from their seats, give way in the streets, and always honor you both in speeches and deeds. For these are of course the kinds of things that subjects do for tyrants and for anyone else they happen to honor at the moment.

(3) "I myself think, Hiero, that a real man differs from the other animals in this striving for honor. Since, after all, all animals alike seem to take pleasure in food, drink, sleep, and sex. But ambition does not arise naturally either in the irrational animals or in all human beings. Those in whom love of honor and praise arises by nature differ the most from cattle and are also believed to be no longer human beings merely, but real men. (4) Accordingly, it seems to me that you probably endure all these things you bear in the tyranny because you are honored above all other human beings. For no human pleasure seems to come closer to what is divine than the joy connected with honors."

(5) To this Hiero said, "But, Simonides, even the honors of the tyrants appear to me of a kind similar to that which I demonstrated their sexual pleasures to be. (6) For services from those who do not love in return we did not think to be favors, anymore than sex which is forced appears pleasant. In the same way, services from those under fear are not honors. (7) For must we say that those who are forced to rise from their chairs stand up to honor those who are treating them unjustly, or that those who give way in the streets to the stronger yield to honor those who are treating them unjustly?

(8) "And further, the many offer gifts to those they hate, and what is more, particularly when they fear they may suffer some harm from them. But this, I think, would probably be considered deeds of slavery. Whereas I believe for my part that honors derive from acts the opposite of this. (9) For when human beings, considering a real man able to be their benefactor, and believing that they enjoy his goods, for this reason have him on their lips in praise; when each one sees him as his own private good; when they willingly give way to him in the streets and rise from their chairs out of liking and not fear; when they crown him for his public virtue and beneficence, and willingly bestow gifts on him; these men who serve him in this way, I believe, honor him truly; and the one deemed worthy of these things I believe to be honored in reality. I myself count blessed the one so honored. (10) For I perceive that he is not plotted against, but rather that he causes anxiety lest he suffer harm, and that he lives his life -- happy, without fear, without envy, and without danger. But the tyrant, Simonides, knows well, lives night and day as one condemned by all human beings to die for his injustice."

(11) When Simonides heard all this through to the end, he said, "But why, Hiero, if being a tyrant is so wretched, and you realize this, do you not rid yourself of so great an evil, and why did no one else ever willingly let a tyranny go, who once acquired it?"

(12) "Because," he said, "in this too is tyranny most miserable, Simonides: it is not possible to be rid of it either. For how would some tyrant ever be able to repay in full the money of those he has dispossessed, or suffer in turn the chains he has loaded on them, or how supply in requital enough lives to die for those he has put to death? (13) Rather, if it profit any man, Simonides, to hang himself, know," he said, "that I myself find this most profits the tyrant. He alone, whether he keeps his troubles or lays them aside, gains no advantage."

8

(1) Simonides took him up and said, "Well, Hiero, I do not wonder that you are for the moment out of heart with tyranny; since, desiring to be loved by human beings, you believe that tyranny is an obstacle in the way of your attaining this. However, I think myself able to teach you that ruling does not at all prevent your being loved, and that it even has the advantage of private life in this respect. (2) While examining whether this is of itself the case, let us not yet inquire whether because of his greater power the ruler also would be able to grant more favors; but rather, if the private man and the tyrant do similar things, consider which of the two wins more gratitude by means of equal favors. I will begin with the smallest examples. (3) First, suppose the ruler and the private man, when they see someone, address him in a friendly way. In this case, from which man do you believe the greeting gives the hearer more pleasure? Again, suppose both praise the same man; from which of them do you think the praise brings greater pleasure? Suppose each, when he offers sacrifice, honors the same man; from which of the two do you think the honor would obtain more gratitude? (4) Suppose they alike attend a sick person; is it not obvious that attentions from the most powerful produce the greatest cheer? Suppose, then, they make equal gifts; is it not clear, in this case too, that favors of half the value from the most powerful are worth more than the whole of a grant from the private man? (5) Indeed, I myself hold that even from gods a certain honor and grace attend a man who rules. For not only does ruling make a real man nobler, but we behold with greater pleasure the same man when he is ruling than when he lives privately; and we delight more in discoursing with those preeminent in honor than with those equal to us.

(6) "As for boys, with regard to whom you found the most fault with tyranny, they are least offended at the old age of one who rules, and they pay least attention to a beloved's ugliness. For his being honored itself helps most to dignify him, so that his offensiveness disappears, and what is noble appears more resplendent.

(7) "Since, then, you obtain greater thanks by means of equal services, must it not be fitting, when you are able to confer benefits by accomplishing many times more things and are able to make many times more gifts, that you also be loved far more than the private men?"

(8) Hiero answered at once, "No, by Zeus, Simonides," he said, "because we are compelled to do the things on the basis of which men incur enmity, more than private men. (9) We must exact money if we are to have the means to spend on our needs; we must compel [men] to guard the things which need guarding; we must punish the unjust; we must restrain those who wish to be insolent; and when the moment comes to set out with all speed on an expedition by land or sea, we must not entrust the business to the sluggards. (10) Moreover, the man who is a tyrant needs mercenaries. And no burden weighs heavier on the citizens than that. For the citizens believe that tyrants keep these mercenaries not to share equal honors with themselves, but to get the advantage by supporting them."

9

(1) To this in its turn Simonides said, "Well, I do not deny that all these matters require attention, Hiero. Some cares seem to me, however, to lead to much hatred, whereas others seem to be mutually very gratifying. (2) For to teach what is best, and to praise and honor the man who achieves this in the noblest way, is a concern which itself gives rise to mutual regard; whereas to rebuke the one who is slack in doing something, to coerce, to punish, to correct -- these things necessarily give rise more to mutual enmity. (3) Accordingly I say that the man who rules ought to command others to punish the one who requires coercion, but that he ought to award the prizes himself. What occurs at present confirms that this is a good arrangement. (4) For whenever we wish our choruses to compete, the Archon offers the prizes, but he orders the managers of each chorus to assemble them, and others to instruct them and to apply coercion to those who are at all slack in performing. Accordingly, what gives rise to gratitude in these contests comes about at once through the Archon, and what is repulsive comes about through others. (5) Now what prevents all other political things from also being managed in this way? For all the cities are apportioned up, some according to tribes, some according to divisions, others according to companies, and rulers are put in charge of each section. (6) If someone should offer prizes to these sections, like choruses, for good arms, good discipline, horsemanship, prowess in war, and justice in contractual relations, it is likely that all these things, through emulation, would be practiced intently. (7) Yes, and, by Zeus, they would set out on an expedition with more speed wherever required, striving for honor; they would contribute money more promptly when the moment for this came; and farming, certainly the most useful thing of all, but the least accustomed to being managed by emulation, would itself greatly improve, if someone should offer prizes by fields or villages to those who best cultivate the ground; and many good things would be accomplished by those among the citizens who turn to it vigorously. (8) For the revenues would increase, and moderation would follow much more closely upon the absence of leisure. And as for evil doings, they arise less naturally in those who are busy.

(9) "If imports are of any benefit to a city, the one honored the most for engaging in this would also bring together more importers. And if it should become apparent that the man who invents some painless revenue for the city will be honored, not even this kind of reflection would be left uncultivated. (10) To sum it up, if it should become clear with respect to all matters that the man who introduces something beneficial will not go unhonored, he would stimulate many to engage in reflecting on something good. And whenever many are concerned with what is useful, this is necessarily discovered and perfected all the more.

(11) "But if you are afraid, Hiero, that when prizes are offered among many, correspondingly many expenses will arise, keep in mind that no articles of commerce are cheaper than what human beings purchase by means of prizes. Do you see that in contests of horsemanship, gymnastic, and choruses small prizes bring forth great expenditures, much toil, and much care from human beings?"

10

(1) And Hiero said, "Well, Simonides, you seem to me to speak well as far as these matters go; but have you anything to say regarding the mercenaries, so that I may not incur hatred because of them? Or do you mean that once a ruler wins friendship he will no longer need a bodyguard at all?"

(2) "By Zeus, certainly he will need it," said Simonides. "For I know that it is inbred in some human beings, just as in horses, to be insolent in proportion as the needs they have are more fully satisfied. (3) The fear inspired by the bodyguard would make such men more moderate. And as for the gentlemen, there is nothing, it seems to me, by means of which you would confer so great services on them as by the mercenaries. (4) For surely you support them as guards for yourself; but before now many masters have died violently at the hands of their slaves. If, then, one -- and this the first -- of the mercenaries' orders should be, that as the bodyguard of all the citizens they were, whenever they perceived a thing of this kind, to go to the aid of all -- and if they were ordered to guard against the evil-doers we all know arise in cities -- the citizens would know they were helped by them. (5) In addition to this, these [mercenaries] would probably best be able to provide confidence and safety for the husband-men and property of herds and flocks in the country, alike for your own privately and for those throughout the country. They are capable, moreover, of providing the citizens with leisure to concern themselves with their private property, by guarding the positions of advantage. (6) Furthermore, as regards the secret and surprise attacks of enemies, who would be readier either to perceive them in advance or to prevent them than those who are always under arms and disciplined? Surely on a campaign, what is more useful to citizens than mercenaries? For [mercenaries] are likely to be readier to toil, run risks, and stand guard for the citizens. (7) As for the neighboring cities, is there not a necessity, brought about by those who are constantly under arms, for them especially to desire peace? For being disciplined the mercenaries would best be able to preserve what belongs to their friends and to destroy what belongs to their enemies. (8) Surely when the citizens realize that these mercenaries do no harm at all to one who commits no injustice; that they restrain those who wish to do evil; that they come to the aid of those who are unjustly wronged; and that they take counsel for and incur danger in behalf of the citizens -- must they not necessarily spend very gladly for their upkeep? After all, men support guards privately, and for lesser objects than these."

11

(1) "You must not, Hiero, shrink from spending from your private possessions for the common good. For it seems to me that what a man as tyrant lays out for the city is spent more on what is necessary than what he lays out for his private [estate]. Let us examine each detail point by point. (2) First, which do you think would dignify you more, a house embellished at tremendous cost, or the whole city furnished with walls, temples, colonnades, market places, and harbors? (3) As for arms, which of the two would appear more formidable to your enemies, yourself fitted out in the most splendid arms, or your entire city well armed? (4) Take revenues; in which way do you think they would become greater, if you should keep your private property alone productive, or if you should contrive to make the property of all the citizens so? (5) And regarding the pursuit believed to be the most noble and magnificent of all, the raising of chariot horses, in which way do you think there would be greater dignity, if you yourself should raise the most teams among the Greeks and send them to the games, or if the most breeders, and the most in competition, should be from your city? And as for winning victories, which do you hold the nobler way, by the virtue of your chariot horses, or by the happiness of the city which you rule? (6) I myself say that it is not fitting for a man who is a tyrant even to compete against private men. For, should you win, you would not be admired, but envied, as meeting the cost by means of many estates, and should you lose, you would be ridiculed most of all.

(7) "But I tell you, Hiero, your contest is against others who rule cities; if you make the city you rule the happiest of these, know well that you will be declared by herald the victor in the most noble and magnificent contest among human beings. (8) First, you would at once secure the love of your subjects, which is the very thing you happen to desire. Further, the herald of your victory would not be one, but all human beings would sing of your virtue. (9) Being an object of attention you would be cherished not only by private men, but by many cities; marveled at not only in private, but in public among all as well; (10) it would be possible for you, as far as safety is concerned, to travel wherever you wish, for the sake of viewing the sights; and it would be possible for you to do this remaining here. For there would be a continual festival by you of those wishing to display whatever wise, beautiful, or good thing they had, and of those desiring to serve you as well. (11) Every man present would be your ally, and every man absent would desire to see you. Therefore, you would not only be liked, you would be loved by human beings; as for the fair, you would not have to seduce them, but submit to being seduced by them; as for fear, it would not be your own but others' that you might suffer some harm; (12) you would have willing men obeying you, and you would see them willingly take thought for you; if there should be some danger, you would see not only allies, but also champions, and those eager; being deemed worthy of many gifts, you will not be at a loss for someone well disposed with whom to share them, with all men rejoicing at your good things and all fighting for those which are yours just as if they were their own. (13) For treasuries, furthermore, you would have all the wealth of your friends.

"But enrich your friends with confidence, Hiero; for you will enrich yourself. Augment the city, for you will attach power to yourself. Acquire allies for it. (14) Consider the fatherland to be your estate, the citizens your comrades, friends your own children, your sons the same as your life, and try to surpass all these in benefactions. (15) For if you prove superior to your friends in beneficence, your enemies will be utterly unable to resist you. And if you do all these things, know well, of all things you will acquire the most noble and most blessed possession to be met with among human beings, for while being happy, you will not be envied for being happy."

_______________

Note:

Translated by Marvin Kendrick; revised by Seth Bernardete.

* < Here Image , love returned on the part of the beloved. Hiero maintains a distinction throughout this passage (29-end) between the Image , (erotic or passionate Jove) which is not engendered on his part and the Image (love, liking, friendship) which is not returned by the beloved. The parallel to Image in 29 supra. Note by M.K. >
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Re: On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:02 am

PART 1 OF 6

Leo Strauss: On Tyranny

The habit of writing against the government had, of itself, an unfavorable effect on the character. For whoever was in the habit of writing against the government was in the habit of breaking the law; and the habit of breaking even an unreasonable law tends to make men altogether lawless. . . .

From the day on which the emancipation of our literature was accomplished, the purification of our literature began.... During a hundred and sixty years the liberty of our press has been constantly becoming more and more entire; and during those hundred and sixty years the restraint imposed on writers by the general feeling of readers has been constantly becoming more and more strict.... At this day foreigners, who dare not print a word reflecting on the government under which they live, are at a loss to understand how it happens that the freest press in Europe is the most prudish.

-- MACAULAY


INTRODUCTION

It is proper that I should indicate my reasons for submitting this detailed analysis of a forgotten dialogue on tyranny to the consideration of political scientists.

Tyranny is a danger coeval with political life. The analysis of tyranny is therefore as old as political science itself. The analysis of tyranny that was made by the first political scientists was so clear, so comprehensive, and so unforgettably expressed that it was remembered and understood by generations which did not have any direct experience of actual tyranny. On the other hand, when we were brought face to face with tyranny -- with a kind of tyranny that surpassed the boldest imagination of the most powerful thinkers of the past -- our political science failed to recognize it. It is not surprising then that many of our contemporaries, disappointed or repelled by present-day analyses of present-day tyranny, were relieved when they rediscovered the pages in which Plato and other classical thinkers seemed to have interpreted for us the horrors of the twentieth century. What is surprising is that the renewed general interest in authentic interpretation of the phenomenon of tyranny did not lead to renewed interest, general or scholarly, in the only writing of the classical period which is explicitly devoted to the discussion of tyranny and its implications, and to nothing else, and which has never been subjected to comprehensive analysis: Xenophon's Hiero.

Not much observation and reflection is needed to realize that there is an essential difference between the tyranny analyzed by the classics and that of our age. In contradistinction to classical tyranny, present-day tyranny has at its disposal "technology" as well as "ideologies"; more generally expressed, it presupposes the existence of "science," i.e., of a particular interpretation, or kind, of science. Conversely, classical tyranny, unlike modern tyranny, was confronted, actually or potentially, by a science which was not meant to be applied to "the conquest of nature" or to be popularized and diffused. But in noting this one implicitly grants that one cannot understand modern tyranny in its specific character before one has understood the elementary and in a sense natural form of tyranny which is premodern tyranny. This basic stratum of modern tyranny remains, for all practical purposes, unintelligible to us if we do not have recourse to the political science of the classics.

It is no accident that present-day political science has failed to grasp tyranny as what it really is. Our political science is haunted by the belief that "value judgments" are inadmissible in scientific considerations, and to call a regime tyrannical clearly amounts to pronouncing a "value judgment." The political scientist who accepts this view of science will speak of the mass-state, of dictatorship, of totalitarianism, of authoritarianism, and so on, and as a citizen he may wholeheartedly condemn these things; but as a political scientist he is forced to reject the notion of tyranny as "mythical." One cannot overcome this limitation without reflecting on the basis, or the origin, of present-day political science. Present-day political science often traces its origin to Machiavelli. There is truth in this contention. To say nothing of broader considerations, Machiavelli's Prince (as distinguished from his Discourses on Livy) is characterized by the deliberate indifference to the distinction between king and tyrant; the Prince presupposes the tacit rejection of that traditional distinction. [1] Machiavelli was fully aware that by conceiving the view expounded in the Prince he was breaking away from the whole tradition of political science; or, to apply to the Prince an expression which he uses when speaking of his Discourses, that he was taking a road which had not yet been followed by anyone. [2] To understand the basic premise of present-day political science, one would have to understand the meaning of the epoch-making change effected by Machiavelli; for that change consisted in the discovery of the continent on which all specifically modern political thought, and hence especially present-day political science, is at home.

It is precisely when trying to bring to light the deepest roots of modern political thought that one will find it to be very useful, not to say indispensable, to devote some attention to the Hiero. One cannot understand the meaning of Machiavelli's achievement if one does not confront his teaching with the traditional teaching he rejects. As regards the Prince in particular, which is deservedly his most famous work, one has to confront its teaching with that of the traditional mirrors of princes. But in doing this one must beware of the temptation to try to be wiser, or rather more learned, than Machiavelli wants his readers to be, by attaching undue importance to medieval and early modern mirrors of princes which Machiavelli never stoops to mention by name. Instead one should concentrate on the only mirror of princes to which he emphatically refers and which is, as one would expect, the classic and the fountainhead of this whole genre: Xenophon's Education of Cyrus. [3] This work has never been studied by modern historians with even a small fraction of the care and concentration it merits and which is needed if it is to disclose its meaning. The Education of Cyrus may be said to be devoted to the perfect king in contradistinction to the tyrant, whereas the Prince is characterized by the deliberate disregard of the difference between king and tyrant. There is only one earlier work on tyranny to which Machiavelli emphatically refers: Xenophon's Hiero. [4] The analysis of the Hiero leads to the conclusion that the teaching of that dialogue comes as near to the teaching of the Prince as the teaching of any Socratic could possibly come. By confronting the teaching of the Prince with that transmitted through the Hiero, one can grasp most clearly the subtlest and indeed the decisive difference between Socratic political science and Machiavellian political science. If it is true that all premodern political science rests on the foundations laid by Socrates, whereas all specifically modern political science rests on the foundations laid by Machiavelli, one may also say that the Hiero marks the point of closest contact between premodern and modern political science. [5]

As regards the manner in which I have treated my subject, I have been mindful that there are two opposed ways in which one can study the thought of the past. Many present-day scholars start from the historicist assumption, namely, that all human thought is "historical" or that the foundations of human thought are laid by specific experiences which are not, as a matter of principle, coeval with human thought as such. Yet there is a fatal disproportion between historicism and true historical understanding. The goal of the historian of thought is to understand the thought of the past "as it really has been," i.e., to understand it as exactly as possible as it was actually understood by its authors. But the historicist approaches the thought of the past on the basis of the historicist assumption which was wholly alien to the thought of the past. He is therefore compelled to attempt to understand the thought of the past better than it understood itself before he has understood it exactly as it understood itself. In one way or the other, his presentation will be a questionable mixture of interpretation and critique. It is the beginning of historical understanding, its necessary and, one is tempted to add, its sufficient condition that one realizes the problematic character of historicism. For one cannot realize it without becoming seriously interested in an impartial confrontation of the historicist approach that prevails today with the nonhistoricist approach of the past. And such a confrontation in its turn requires that the nonhistoricist thought of the past be understood on its own terms, and not in the way in which it presents itself within the horizon of historicism.

In accordance with this principle, I have tried to understand Xenophon's thought as exactly as I could. I have not tried to relate his thought to his "historical situation" because this is not the natural way of reading the work of a wise man; and, in addition, Xenophon never indicated that he wanted to be understood that way. I assumed that Xenophon, being an able writer, gave us to the best of his powers the information required for understanding his work. I have relied therefore as much as possible on what he himself says, directly or indirectly, and as little as possible on extraneous information, to say nothing of modern hypotheses. Distrustful of all conventions, however trivial, which are likely to do harm to matters of importance, I went so far as to omit the angular brackets with which modern scholars are in the habit of adorning their citations of certain ancient writings. It goes without saying that I never believed that my mind was moving in a larger "circle of ideas" than Xenophon's mind.

The neglect of the Hiero (as well as of the Education of Cyrus) is no doubt partly due to the fashionable underestimation and even contempt of Xenophon's intellectual powers. Until the end of the eighteenth century, he was generally considered a wise man and a classic in the precise sense. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, he is compared as a philosopher to Plato, and found wanting; he is compared as a historian to Thucydides, and found wanting. One need not, as well one might, take issue with the views of philosophy and of history which are presupposed in these comparisons. One merely has to raise the question whether Xenophon wanted to be understood primarily as a philosopher or as a historian. In the manuscripts of his works, he is frequently designated as "the orator Xenophon." It is reasonable to assume that the temporary eclipse of Xenophon -- just as the temporary eclipse of Livy and of Cicero -- has been due to a decline in the understanding of the significance of rhetoric: both the peculiar "idealism" and the peculiar "realism" of the nineteenth century were guided by the modern concept of "Art" and for that reason were unable to understand the crucial significance of the lowly art of rhetoric. While they could thus find a place for Plato and Thucydides, they completely failed duly to appreciate Xenophon.

Xenophon's rhetoric is not ordinary rhetoric; it is Socratic rhetoric. The character of Socratic rhetoric does not become sufficiently clear from the judiciously scattered remarks on the subject that occur in Plato's and Xenophon's writings, but only from detailed analyses of its products. The most perfect product of Socratic rhetoric is the dialogue. The form of Plato's dialogues has been discussed frequently, but no one would claim that the problem of the Platonic dialogue has been solved. Modern analyses are, as a rule, vitiated by the estheticist prejudice of the interpreters. Yet Plato's expulsion of the poets from his best city should have sufficed for discouraging any estheticist approach. It would seem that the attempt to clarify the meaning of the dialogue should start from an analysis of Xenophon's dialogue. Xenophon uses far fewer devices than Plato uses even in his simplest works. By understanding the art of Xenophon, one will realize certain minimum requirements that one must fulfill when interpreting any Platonic dialogue, requirements which today are so little fulfilled that they are hardly known.

The dialogue that deserves the name communicates the thought of the author in an indirect or oblique way. Thus the danger of arbitrary interpretation might well seem to be overwhelming. The danger can be overcome only if the greatest possible attention is paid to every detail, and especially to the unthematic details, and if the function of Socratic rhetoric is never lost sight of.

Socratic rhetoric is meant to be an indispensable instrument of philosophy. Its purpose is to lead potential philosophers to philosophy both by training them and by liberating them from the charms which obstruct the philosophic effort, as well as to prevent the access to philosophy of those who are not fit for it. Socratic rhetoric is emphatically just. It is animated by the spirit of social responsibility. It is based on the premise that there is a disproportion between the intransigent quest for truth and the requirements of society, or that not all truths are always harmless. Society will always try to tyrannize thought. Socratic rhetoric is the classic means for ever again frustrating these attempts. This highest kind of rhetoric did not die with the immediate pupils of Socrates. Many monographs bear witness to the fact that great thinkers of later times have used a kind of caution or thrift in communicating their thought to posterity which is no longer appreciated: it ceased to be appreciated at about the same time at which historicism emerged, at about the end of the eighteenth century.

The experience of the present generation has taught us to read the great political literature of the past with different eyes and with different expectations. The lesson may not be without value for our political orientation. We are now brought face to face with a tyranny which holds out the threat of becoming, thanks to "the conquest of nature" and in particular of human nature, what no earlier tyranny ever became: perpetual and universal. Confronted by the appalling alternative that man, or human thought, must be collectivized either by one stroke and without mercy or else by slow and gentle processes, we are forced to wonder how we could escape from this dilemma. We reconsider therefore the elementary and unobtrusive conditions of human freedom.

The historical form in which this reflection is here presented is perhaps not inappropriate. The manifest and deliberate collectivization or coordination of thought is being prepared in a hidden and frequently quite unconscious way by the spread of the teaching that all human thought is collective independently of any human effort directed to this end, because all human thought is historical. There seems to be no more appropriate way of combating this teaching than the study of history.

As has been indicated, one must have some patience if one wants to grasp the meaning of the Hiero. The patience of the interpreter does not make superfluous the patience of the reader of the interpretation. In explaining writings like the Hiero, one has to engage in long-winded and sometimes repetitious considerations which can arrest attention only if one sees their purpose, and it is necessary that this purpose should reveal itself in its proper place, which cannot be at the beginning. If one wants to establish the precise meaning of a subtle hint, one must proceed in a way which comes dangerously close to the loathsome business of explaining a joke. The charm produced by Xenophon's unobtrusive art is destroyed, at least for a moment, if that art is made obtrusive by the interpretation. Still, I believe that I have not dotted all the i's. One can only hope that the time will again come when Xenophon's art will be understood by a generation which, properly trained in their youth, will no longer need cumbersome introductions like the present study.

The Problem

The intention of the Hiero is nowhere stated by the author. Being an account of a conversation between the poet Simonides and the tyrant Hiero, the work consists almost exclusively of the utterances, recorded in direct speech, of these two characters. The author limits himself to describing at the beginning in sixteen words the circumstances in which the conversation took place, and to linking with each other, or separating from each other, the statements of the two interlocutors by such expressions as "Simonides said" and "Hiero answered."

The intention of the work does not become manifest at once from the content. The work consists of two main parts of very unequal length, the first part making up about five sevenths of the whole. In the first part (ch. 1-7), Hiero proves to Simonides that the life of a tyrant, as compared with the life of a private man, is so unhappy that the tyrant can hardly do better than to hang himself. In the second part (ch. 8-11), Simonides proves to Hiero that the tyrant could be the happiest of men. The first part seems to be directed against the popular prejudice that the life of a tyrant is more pleasant than private life. The second part, however, seems to establish the view that the life of a beneficent tyrant is superior, in the most important respect, to private life. [1] At first glance, the work as a whole clearly conveys the message that the life of a beneficent tyrant is highly desirable. But it is not clear what that message means since we do not know to what type of men it is addressed. If we assume that the work is addressed to tyrants, its intention is to exhort them to exercise their rule in a spirit of shrewd benevolence. Yet only a very small part of its readers can be supposed to be actual tyrants. The work as a whole may therefore have to be taken as a recommendation addressed to properly equipped young men who are pondering what way of life they should choose -- a recommendation to strive for tyrannical power, not indeed to gratify their desires, but to gain the love and admiration of all men by deeds of benevolence on the greatest possible scale. [2] Socrates, the teacher of Xenophon, was suspected of teaching his companions to be "tyrannical": [3] Xenophon lays himself open to the same suspicion.

Yet it is not Xenophon but Simonides who proves that a beneficent tyrant will reach the summit of happiness, and one cannot identify without further consideration the author's views with those of one of his characters. The fact that Simonides is called "wise" by Hiero [4] does not prove anything, since we do not know what Xenophon thought of Hiero's competence. But even if we assume that Simonides is simply the mouthpiece of Xenophon, great difficulties remain, for Simonides' thesis is ambiguous. It is addressed to a tyrant who is out of heart with tyranny, who has just declared that a tyrant can hardly do better than to hang himself. Does it not serve the purpose of comforting the sad tyrant, and does not the intention to comfort detract from the sincerity of a speech? [5] Is any speech addressed to a tyrant by a man who is in the tyrant's power likely to be a sincere speech? [6]

II: The Title and the Form

While practically everything said in the Hiero is said by Xenophon's characters, Xenophon himself takes full responsibility for the title of the work. [1] The title is Image. No other work contained in the Corpus Xenophanteum has a title consisting of both a proper name and an adjective referring to the subject. The first part of the title is reminiscent of the title of the Agesilaus. The Agesilaus deals with an outstanding Greek king, just as the Hiero deals with an outstanding Greek tyrant. Proper names of individuals also occur in the titles of the Cyri Institutio, the Cyri Expeditio, and the Apologia Socratis. Agesilaus, the two Cyruses, and Socrates seem to be the men Xenophon admired most. But the two Cyruses were not Greek, and Socrates was not a ruler: the Agesilaus and the Hiero, the only writings of Xenophon the titles of which contain proper names of individuals in the nominative, are the only writings of Xenophon which may be said to be devoted to Greek rulers.

The second part of the title reminds one of the tides of the Hipparchicus, the Oeconomicus, and the Cynegeticus. These three writings serve the purpose of teaching skills befitting gentlemen: the skill of a commander of cavalry, the skill of managing one's estate, and the skill of hunting. [2] Accordingly, one should expect that the purpose of the Tyrannicus is to teach the skill of the tyrant, the Image Image [3] and in fact Simonides does therein teach Hiero how best to exercise tyrannical rule.

There is only one work of Xenophon apart from the Hiero which has an alternative title: the Image (Ways and Means). The purpose of that work is to show the (democratic) rulers of Athens how they could become more just by showing them how they could overcome the necessity under which they found themselves of acting unjustly. [4] That is to say, its purpose is to show how the democratic order of Athens could be improved without being fundamentally changed. Similarly, Simonides shows the tyrannical ruler of Syracuse how he could overcome the necessity of acting unjustly under which he found himself without abandoning tyrannical rule as such. [5] Xenophon, the pupil of Socrates, seems to have considered both democracy and tyranny faulty regimes. [6] The Ways and Means and the Hiero are the only works of Xenophon which are devoted to the question of how a given political order (Image) of a faulty character could be corrected without being transformed into a good political order.

Xenophon could easily have explained in direct terms the conditional character of the policy recommended in the Hiero. Had he done so, however, he might have conveyed the impression that he was not absolutely opposed to tyranny. But "the cities," and especially Athens, were absolutely opposed to tyranny. [7] Besides, one of the charges brought against Socrates was that he taught his pupils to be "tyrannical." Reasons such as these explain why Xenophon presented his reflections on the improvement of tyrannical rule (and therewith on the stabilization of such rule), as distinguished from his reflections on the improvement of the Athenian regime, in the form of a dialogue in which he does not participate in any way: the Hiero is the only work of Xenophon in which the author, when speaking in his own name, never uses the first person, whereas the Ways and Means is the only work of Xenophon whose very opening word is an emphatic I. The reasons indicated explain besides why the fairly brief suggestions for the improvement of tyrannical rule are prefaced by a considerably more extensive discourse which expounds the undesirable character of tyranny in the strongest possible terms.

The Hiero consists almost exclusively of utterances of men other than the author. There is only one other work of Xenophon which has that character: the Oeconomicus. In the Oeconomicus, too, the author "hides himself" [8] almost completely. The Oeconomicus is a dialogue between Socrates and another Athenian on the management of the household. According to Socrates, there does not seem to be an essential difference between the art of managing the household and that of managing the affairs of the city: both are called by him "the royal art." [9] Hence it can only be due to secondary considerations that the dialogue which is destined to teach that art is called Oeconomicus, and not Politicus or Basilicus. There is ample evidence to show that the Oeconomicus, while apparently devoted to the economic art only, actually deals with the royal art as such. [10] It is then permissible to describe the relation of Xenophon's two dialogues as that of a Basilicus to a Tyrannicus: the two dialogues deal with the two types of monarchic rule. [11] Since the economist is a ruler, the Oeconomicus is, just as the Hiero, a dialogue between a wise man (Socrates) [12] and a ruler (the potential economist Critobulus and the actual economist Ischomachus). But whereas the wise man and the rulers of the Oeconomicus are Athenians, the wise man and the ruler of the Hiero are not. And whereas the wise man and the potential ruler of the Oeconomicus were friends of Xenophon, and Xenophon himself was present at their conversation, the wise man and the ruler of the Hiero were dead long before Xenophon's time. It was evidently impossible to assign the "tyrannical" teaching to Socrates. But the reason was not that there was any scarcity of actual or potential tyrants in the entourage of Socrates. Rather the reverse. Nothing would have been easier for Xenophon than to arrange a conversation on how to rule well as a tyrant between Socrates and Charmides or Critias [13] or Alcibiades. So doing, though -- giving Socrates such a role in such a context -- he would have destroyed the basis of his own defense of Socrates. It is for this reason that the place occupied in the Oeconimicus by Socrates is occupied in the Hiero by another wise man. After having chosen Simonides, Xenophon was free to present him as engaged in a conversation with the Athenian tyrant Hipparchus; [14] but he apparently wished to avoid any connection between the topics "tyranny" and "Athens."

One cannot help wondering why Xenophon chose Simonides as a chief character in preference to certain other wise men who were known to have conversed with tyrants. [15] A clue is offered by the parallelism between the Hiero and the Oeconimicus. The royal art is morally superior to the tyrannical art. Socrates, who teaches the royal or economic art, has perfect self-control as regards the pleasures deriving from wealth. [16] Simonides, who teaches the tyrannical art, was famous for his greed. [17] Socrates, who teaches the economic or royal art, was not himself an economist because he was not interested in increasing his property; accordingly, his teaching consists largely of giving to a potential economist an account of a conversation which he once had with an actual economist. [18] Simonides, who teaches the tyrannical art, and therewith at least some rudiments of the economic art as well, [19] without any assistance, was an "economist."

In the light of the parallelism between the Oeconomicus and the Hiero, our previous explanation of the fact that Xenophon presented the "tyrannical" teaching in the form of a dialogue proves to be insufficient. With a view to that parallelism, we have to raise the more comprehensive question as to why the Oeconomicus and the Hiero, as distinguished from Xenophon's two other technical writings, the Hipparchicus and the Cynegticus, are written in the form not of treatises, nor even of stories, but of dialogues. The subjects of the two former works, we shall venture to say, are of a higher order, or are more philosophic than those of the two latter. Accordingly, their treatment too should be more philosophic. From Xenophon's point of view, philosophic treatment is conversational treatment. Conversational teaching of the skill of ruling has these two particular advantages. First, it necessitates the confrontation of a wise man (the teacher) and a ruler (the pupil). Besides, it compels the reader to wonder whether the lessons given by the wise man to the ruler bore fruit, because it compels the author to leave unanswered that question which is nothing less than a special form of the fundamental question of the relation of theory and practice, or of knowledge and virtue.

The second advantage of conversational teaching is particularly striking in the Hiero. Whereas the proof of the unhappiness of the unjust tyrant is emphatically based on experience, [20] the proof of the happiness of the beneficent tyrant is not: that happiness is merely promised -- by a poet. The reader is left wondering whether experience offered a single instance of a tyrant who was happy because he was virtuous. [21] The corresponding question forced upon the reader of the Oeconomicus is answered, if not by the Oeconomicus itself, by the Cyropaedia and the Agesilaus. But the question of the actual happiness of the virtuous tyrant is left open by the Corpus Xenophonteum as a whole. And whereas the Cyropaedia and the Agesilaus set the happiness of the virtuous kings Cyrus and Agesilaus beyond any imaginable doubt by showing or at least intimating how they died, the Hiero, owing to its form, cannot throw any light on the end of the tyrant Hiero. [22]

We hope to have explained why Xenophon presents the "tyrannical" teaching in the form of a conversation between Simonides and a non-Athenian tyrant. An adequate understanding of that teaching requires more than an understanding of its content. One must also consider the form in which it is presented, for otherwise one cannot realize the place which it occupies, according to the author, within the whole of wisdom. The form in which it is presented characterizes it as a philosophic teaching of the sort that a truly wise man would not care to present in his own name. Moreover, by throwing some light on the procedure of the wise man who stoops to present the "tyrannical" teaching in his own name, i.e., of Simonides, the author shows us how that teaching should be presented to its ultimate addressee, the tyrant.
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Re: On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:03 am

PART 2 OF 6

III: The Setting

A. THE CHARACTERS AND THEIR INTENTIONS


"Simonides the poet came once upon a time to Hiero the tyrant. After both had found leisure, Simonides said...." This is all that Xenophon says thematically and explicitly about the situation in which the conversation took place. "Simonides came to Hiero": Hiero did not come to Simonides. Tyrants do not like to travel to foreign parts, [1] and, as Simonides seems to have said to Hiero's wife, the wise are spending their time at the doors of the rich and not vice versa. [2] Simonides came to Hiero "once upon a time": he was merely visiting Hiero; those coming to display before the tyrant something wise or beautiful or good prefer to go away as soon as they have received their reward. [3] The conversation opens "after both had found leisure" and, we may add, when they were alone: it does not open immediately on Simonides' arrival. It appears in the course of the conversation that prior to the conversation Hiero had acquired a definite opinion of Simonides' qualities, and Simonides had made some observations about Hiero. It is not impossible that the business which each had before both found leisure was a business which they had with each other. At any rate, they were not complete strangers to each other at the moment when the conversation starts. Their knowledge of, or their opinions about, each other might even explain why they engage in a leisurely conversation at all, as well as how they behave during their conversation from its very beginning.

It is Simonides who opens the conversation. What is his purpose? He starts with the question whether Hiero would be willing to explain to him something which he is likely to know better than the poet. The polite question which he addresses to a tyrant who is not his ruler keeps in the appropriate middle between the informal request, so frequently used by Socrates in particular, "Tell me," or the polite request, "I want very much to learn," on the one hand, and the deferential question addressed by Socrates to tyrants who were his rulers (the "legislators" Critias and Charicles), "Is it permitted to inquire...?" on the other. [4] By his question, Simonides presents himself as a wise man who, always desirous to learn, wishes to avail himself of the opportunity of learning something from Hiero. He thus assigns Hiero the position of a man who is, in a certain respect, wiser, a greater authority than he is himself. Hiero, fully aware of how wise Simonides is, has not the slightest notion as to what sort of thing he could know better than a man of Simonides' wisdom. Simonides explains to him that since he, Hiero, was born a private man and is now a tyrant, he is, on the basis of his experience of both conditions, likely to know better than Simonides in what way the life of a tyrant and that of private men differ with regard to human enjoyments and pains. [5] The choice of the topic is perfect. A comparison of a tyrant's life and private life is the only comprehensive, or "wise," topic in the discussion of which a wise man can with some plausibility be presented as inferior to a tyrant who once had been a private man and who is not wise. Moreover, the point of view which, as Simonides suggests, should guide the comparison -- pleasure-pain as distinguished from virtue-vice -- seems to be characteristic of tyrants as distinguished from kings. [6] Simonides seems then to open the conversation with the intention of learning something from Hiero, or of getting some first-hand information from an authority on the subject which he proposes.

Yet the reason with which he justifies his question in the eyes of Hiero is only a probable one. It leaves out of consideration the decisive contribution of judgment, or wisdom, to the correct evaluation of experiences. [7] Moreover, the question itself is not of such a nature that peculiar experiences which a wise man may or may not have had (such as those which only an actual tyrant can have had) could contribute significantly to its complete answer. It rather belongs to the kind of question to which the wise man as such (and only the wise man as such) necessarily possesses the complete answer. Simonides' question concerning the manner of difference between the tyrant's life and private life in regard to pleasures and pains is identical, in the context, with the question as to which of the two ways of life is more desirable; for "pleasure-pain" is the only ultimate criterion of preference which is thematically considered. The initial question is rendered more specific by the assertion which Simonides makes soon afterward that the tyrant's life knows many more pleasures of all kinds and many fewer pains of all kinds than private life, in other words, that tyrannical life is more desirable than private life. [8] Even Hiero states that Simonides' assertion is surprising in the mouth of a reputedly wise man: a wise man should be able to judge of the happiness or misery of the tyrant's life without ever having had the actual experience of tyrannical life. [9] The question as to whether, or how far, tyrannical life is more desirable than private life, and in particular whether, or how far, it is more desirable from the point of view of pleasure, is no longer a question for a man who has acquired wisdom. [10] If Simonides was a wise man, he must then have had a motive other than eagerness to learn for inquiring with Hiero about that subject.

Hiero expresses the view that Simonides is a wise man, a man much wiser than he himself is. This assertion is borne out to a certain extent by the action of the dialogue, by which Simonides is shown to be able to teach Hiero the art of ruling as a tyrant. While Simonides is thus shown to be wiser than Hiero, it is by no means certain that Xenophon considered him simply wise. What Xenophon thought of Simonides' wisdom can be definitely established only by a comparison of Simonides with Socrates, whom Xenophon certainly considered wise. It is possible, however, to reach a provisional conclusion on the basis of the parallelism of the Hiero and the Oeconomicus as well as of the following consideration: If Simonides was wise, he had conversation skill; i.e., he could do what he liked with any interlocutor, [11] or he could lead any conversation to the end which he desired. His conversation with Hiero leads up to such suggestions about the improvement of tyrannical rule as a wise man could be expected to make to a tyrant toward whom he is well disposed. We shall then assume that the wise Simonides opens the conversation intending to be of some benefit to Hiero, perhaps in order to be benefited in turn or to benefit the tyrant's subjects. During his stay with Hiero, Simonides had observed several things about the ruler -- some concerning his appetite, some concerning his amours; [12] and Simonides knew that Hiero was making certain grave mistakes, such as his participating at the Olympic and Pythian games. [13] To express this more generally, Simonides knew that Hiero was not a perfect ruler. He decided to teach him how to rule well as a tyrant. More specifically, he considered it advisable to warn him against certain grave mistakes. But, to say nothing of common politeness, no one wishes to rebuke, or to speak against, a tyrant in his presence. [14] Simonides had, then, by the least offensive means to reduce the tyrant to a mood in which the latter would be pleased to listen attentively to, and even to ask for, the poet's advice. He had at the same time, or by the same action, to convince Hiero of his competence to give sound advice to a tyrant.

Before Simonides can teach Hiero how to rule as a tyrant, he has to make him aware, or to remind him, of the difficulties with which he is beset and which he cannot overcome, of the shortcomings of his rule, and indeed of his whole life. To be made aware by someone else of one's own shortcomings means, for most people to be humbled by the censor. Simonides has to humble the tyrant; he has to reduce him to a condition of inferiority; or, to describe Simonides' intention in the light of the aim apparently achieved by him, he has to dishearten the tyrant. Moreover, if he intends to use Hiero's recognition of his shortcomings as the starting point for his teaching, he has to induce Hiero expressly to grant all the relevant unpleasant facts about his life. The least he can do, in order to avoid unnecessary offense, is to talk, not about Hiero's life, but about a more general, a less offensive, subject. To begin with, we shall assume that when starting a conversation with Hiero about the relative desirability of the life of the tyrant and private life, he is guided by the intention to dishearten the tyrant by a comparison of the life of the tyrant, and therewith of Hiero's own life, with private life.

To reach this immediate aim in the least offensive manner, Simonides has to create a situation in which not he, but the tyrant himself, explains the shortcomings of his life, or of tyrannical life in general, and a situation in which, moreover, the tyrant does this normally unpleasant work not only spontaneously but even gladly. The artifice by means of which Simonides brings about this result consists in his giving to Hiero an opportunity of vindicating his superiority while demonstrating his inferiority. He starts the conversation by presenting himself explicitly as a man who has to learn from Hiero, or who is, in a certain respect, less wise than Hiero, or by assuming the role of the pupil. Thereafter, he makes himself the spokesman of the opinion that tyrannical life is more desirable than private life, i.e., of the crude opinion about tyranny which is characteristic of the unwise, of the multitude, or the vulgar. [15] He thus presents himself tacitly, and therefore all the more effectively, as a man who is absolutely less wise than Hiero. He thus tempts Hiero to assume the role of the teacher. [16] He succeeds in seducing him into refuting the vulgar opinion, and thus into proving that tyrannical life, and hence his own life, is extremely unhappy. Hiero vindicates his superiority by winning his argument, which, so far as its content is concerned, would be merely depressing for him: by proving that he is extremely unhappy, he proves that he is wiser than the wise Simonides. Yet his victory is his defeat. By appealing to the tyrant's interest in superiority, or desire for victory, Simonides brings about the tyrant's spontaneous and almost joyful recognition of all the shortcomings of his life and therewith a situation in which the offering of advice is the act, not of an awkward schoolmaster, but of a humane poet. And besides, in the moment that Hiero becomes aware of his having walked straight into the trap which Simonides had so ingeniously and so charmingly set for him, he will be more convinced than ever before of Simonides' wisdom.

Before Simonides starts teaching Hiero, in other words, in the largest part of the Hiero (ch. 1-7), he presents himself to Hiero as less wise than he really is. In the first part of the Hiero, Simonides hides his wisdom. He does not merely report the vulgar opinion about tyranny, he does not merely hand it over to Hiero for its refutation by asking him what he thinks about it; he actually adopts it. Hiero is justifiably under the impression that Simonides is ignorant of or deceived about the nature of tyrannical life. [17] Thus the question arises as to why Simonides' artifice does not defeat his purpose: why can Hiero still take him seriously? Why does he not consider him a fool, a foolish follower of the opinions of the vulgar? The situation in which the conversation takes place remains wholly obscure as long as this difficulty is not satisfactorily explained.

The difficulty would be insoluble if to be vulgar merely meant to be simply foolish or unwise. The vulgar opinion about tyranny can be summarized as follows: Tyranny is bad for the city but good for the tyrant, for the tyrannical life is the most enjoyable and desirable way of life. [18] This opinion is founded on the basic premise of the vulgar mind that bodily pleasures and wealth or power are more important than virtue. The vulgar opinion is contested, not only by the wise, but above all by the gentlemen. According to the opinion of the perfect gentleman, tyranny is bad, not only for the city, but above all for the tyrant himself. [19] By adopting the vulgar view, Simonides tacitly rejects the gentleman's view. Could he not be a gentleman? Could he lack the moderation, the self-restraint of the gentleman?' Could he be dangerous? Whether this suspicion arises evidently depends on what opinion is held by Hiero about the relation of "wise" and "gentlemen." But if it arises, the theoretical and somewhat playful discussion will transform itself into a conflict.

The ironic element of Simonides' procedure would endanger the achievement of his serious purpose if it did not arouse a deeper emotion in the soul of the tyrant than the somewhat whimsical desire to win a dialectical victory. The manner in which he understands, and reacts to, Simonides' question and assertion is bound to be determined by his view of Simonides' qualities and of his intention. He considers Simonides a wise man. His attitude toward Simonides will then be a special case of his attitude toward wise men in general. He says that tyrants fear the wise. His attitude toward Simonides must be understood accordingly: "Instead of admiring" him, he fears him. [20] Considering the fact that Simonides is a stranger in Hiero's city, and therefore not likely to be really dangerous to Hiero's rule, [21] we prefer to say that his admiration for Simonides is mitigated by some fear, by some fear in statu nascendi, i.e., by distrust. He does not trust people in any case; he will be particularly distrustful in his dealings with a man of unusually great abilities. Hence he is not likely to be perfectly frank. He is likely to be as reserved as Simonides, although for somewhat different reasons. [22] Their conversation is likely to take place in an atmosphere of limited straightforwardness.

The tyrant's fear of the wise is a specific one. This crucial fact is explained by Hiero in what is even literally the central passage of the Hiero. [23] He fears the brave because they might take risks for the sake of freedom. He fears the just because the multitude might desire to be ruled by them. As regards the wise, he fears that "they might contrive something." He fears, then, the brave and the just because their virtues or virtuous actions might bring about the restoration of freedom or at least of nontyrannical government. This much, and not more, is explained by Hiero in unequivocal terms. He does not say explicitly what kind of danger he apprehends from the wise: Does he fear that they might contrive something for the sake of freedom or of just government, or does he fear that they might contrive something for some other purpose? [24] Hiero's explicit statement leaves unanswered the crucial question, Why does the tyrant fear the wise?

The most cautious explanation of Hiero's silence would be the suggestion that he does not know what the wise intend. Having once been a private man, a private citizen, a subject of a tyrant, he knows and understands the goals of the brave and the just as well as they themselves do. But he has never been a wise man: he does not know wisdom from his own experience. He realizes that wisdom is a virtue, a power, hence a limit to the tyrant's power, and therefore a danger to the tyrant's rule. He realizes, besides, that wisdom is something different from courage and justice. But he does not clearly grasp the specific and positive character of wisdom: wisdom is more elusive than courage and justice. Perhaps it would not be too much to say that for the tyrant wisdom, as distinguished from courage and justice, is something uncanny. At any rate, his fear of the wise is an indeterminate fear, in some cases (as in the case of Hiero's fear of Simonides) hardly more than a vague, but strong, uneasiness.

This attitude toward the wise is characteristic not only of tyrants. The fate of Socrates must be presumed always to have been present to Xenophon's mind. It confirmed the view that wise men are apt to be envied by men who are less wise or altogether unwise, and that they are exposed to all sorts of vague suspicion on the part of "the many." Xenophon himself suggested that the same experience which Socrates had had under a democracy would have been had by him under a monarchy: wise men are apt to be envied, or suspected, by monarchs as well as by ordinary citizens. [25] The distrust of the wise, which proceeds from lack of understanding of wisdom, is characteristic of the vulgar, of tyrants and nontyrants alike. Hiero's attitude toward the wise bears at least some resemblance to the vulgar attitude.

The fate of Socrates showed that those who do not understand the nature of wisdom are apt to mistake the wise man for the sophist. Both the wise man and the sophist are in a sense possessors of wisdom. But whereas the sophist prostitutes wisdom for base purposes, and especially for money, the wise man makes the most noble or moral use of wisdom. [26] The wise man is a gentleman, whereas the sophist is servile. The error of mistaking the wise man for the sophist is made possible by the ambiguity of "gentlemanliness." In common parlance, "gentleman" designates a just and brave man, a good citizen, who as such is not necessarily a wise man. Ischomachus, that perfectly respectable man whom Xenophon confronts with Socrates, is called a gentleman by everyone, by men and women, by strangers and citizens. In the Socratic meaning of the term, the gentleman is identical with the wise man. [27] The essence of wisdom, or what distinguishes wisdom from ordinary gentlemanliness, escapes the vulgar, who may thus be led to believe in an opposition between wisdom and the only gentlemanliness known to them: they may doubt the gentlemanliness of the wise. They will see this much, that wisdom is the ability to contrive the acquisition of that possession which is most valuable and therefore most difficult to obtain. But believing that the tyrannical life is the most enjoyable and therefore the most desirable possession, they will be inclined to identify wisdom with the ability to become a tyrant or to remain a tyrant. Those who succeeded in acquiring tyrannical power, and in preserving it for ever so short a time, are admired as wise and lucky men: the specific ability which enables a man to become, and to remain, a tyrant is popularly identified with wisdom. On the other hand, if a wise man manifestly abstains from striving for tyrannical power, he may still be suspected of teaching his friends to be "tyrannical." [28] On the basis of the vulgar notion of wisdom, the conclusion is plausible that a wise man would aspire to tyranny or, if he is already a tyrant, that he would attempt to preserve his position.

Let us now return to Hiero's statement about the various types of human excellence. The brave would take risks for the sake of freedom; the just would be desired as rulers by the multitude. The brave as brave would not be desired as rulers, and the just as just would not rebel. As clearly as the brave as brave are distinguished from the just as just, the wise as wise are distinguished from both the brave and the just. Would the wise take risks for the sake of freedom? Did Socrates, as distinguished from Thrasybulus, take such risks? While blaming "somewhere" the practices of Critias and his fellows, and while refusing to obey their unjust commands, he did not work for their overthrow. [29] Would the wise be desired as rulers by the multitude? Was Socrates desired as a ruler by the multitude? One has no right to assume that Hiero's view of wisdom and justice is identical with Xenophon's. The context suggests that, according to Hiero, the wise as wise have a purpose different from those of the brave and of the just, or, if courage and justice combined are the essence of gentlemanliness, that the wise man is not necessarily a gentleman. The context suggests that the wise have another goal than the typical enemies of tyranny, who are concerned with restoring freedom and "possession of good laws." [30] This suggestion is far from being contradicted by Simonides, who avoids in his teaching the very terms "freedom" and "law." There is only one reasonable alternative: the tyrant fears the wise man because he might attempt to overthrow the tyrant, not in order to restore nontyrannical government, but to become a tyrant himself or because he might advise a pupil or friend of his as to how he could become a tyrant by overthrowing the actual tyrant. Hiero's central statement does not exclude but rather suggests the vulgar view of wisdom; [31] it does not exclude but rather suggests the view that the wise man is a potential tyrant. [32]

Hiero is somehow aware of the fact that wise men do not judge of happiness or misery on the basis of outward appearance because they know that the seat of happiness and misery is in the souls of men. It therefore seems surprising to him that Simonides should identity, for all practical purposes, happiness with wealth and power, and ultimately with the tyrannical life. He does not say, however, that Simonides, being a wise man, cannot possibly mean what he says, or that he must be joking. On the contrary, he takes Simonides' assertion most seriously. He does not consider it incredible or impossible that a wise man should hold the view adopted by Simonides. [33] He does not consider it impossible because he believes that only the experience of a tyrant can establish with final certainty whether tyrannical life is, or is not, more desirable than private life. [34] He does not really know the purpose of the wise. He is then not convinced that the wise man is a potential tyrant. Nor is he convinced of the contrary. He oscillates between two diametrically opposed views, between the vulgar view and the wise view of wisdom. Which of the two opposed views he will take in a given case will depend on the behavior of the wise individual with whom he converses. Regarding Simonides, the question is decided by the fact that he adopts the vulgar opinion according to which the tyrannical life is more desirable than private life. At least in his conversation with Simonides, Hiero will be disturbed by the suspicion that the wise man may be a potential tyrant, or a potential adviser of possible rivals of Hiero. [35]

Hiero's fear or distrust of Simonides originates in his attitude toward wise men and would exist regardless of the topic of their conversation. But if there were any one topic which could aggravate Hiero's suspicion of Simonides, it is that topic which the wise man in fact proposed -- a topic relating to the object with regard to which the tyrants fear the wise. In addition, Simonides explicitly says that all men regard tyrants with a mixture of admiration and envy, or that they are jealous of tyrants, and Hiero understands the bearing of this statement sufficiently to apply it to Simonides by speaking of Simonides himself being jealous of tyrants. [36] Hiero does not possess that true understanding of the nature of wisdom which alone could protect him from being suspicious of Simonides' question about the relative desirability of tyrannical and private life. Lacking such understanding, Hiero cannot be certain that the question might not serve the very practical purpose of eliciting some first-hand information from the tyrant about a condition of which the poet is jealous or to which he is aspiring for himself or someone else. His fear or distrust of Simonides will be a fear or distrust strengthened and rendered definite by Simonides' apparently believing that the tyrannical life is more desirable than private life. Simonides' apparently frank confession of his preference will seem to Hiero to supply him with an opportunity of getting rid of his uneasiness. His whole answer will serve the very practical purpose of dissuading Simonides from looking at tyrants with a mixture of admiration and envy.

By playing upon this intention of Hiero, [37] Simonidcs compels him to use the strongest possible language against tyranny and thus finally to declare his bankruptcy, therewith handing over the leadership in the conversation to Simonides. Simonides' intention to dishearten Hiero and Hiero's intention to dissuade Simonides from admiring or envying tyrants produce by their cooperation the result primarily intended by Simonides, viz., a situation in which Hiero has no choice but to listen to Simonides' advice.

In order to provoke Hiero's passionate reaction, Simonides has to overstate the case for tyranny. When reading all his statements by themselves, one is struck by the fact that there are indeed some passages in which he, more or less compelled by Hiero's arguments, grants that tyranny has its drawbacks, whereas one finds more passages in which he spontaneously and strongly asserts its advantages. The statements of Simonides on tyranny would justify Hiero in thinking that Simonides is envious of tyrants. Yet the ironic character of Simonides' praise of tyranny as such (as distinguished from his praise of beneficent tyranny in the second part of the Hiero) can hardly escape the notice of any reader. For instance, when he asserts that tyrants derive greater pleasure from sounds than private men because they constantly hear the most pleasant kind of sound -- viz., praise -- he is not ignorant of the fact that the praise bestowed upon tyrants by their entourage is not genuine praise. [38] On the other hand, Hiero is interested in overstating the case against tyranny. This point requires some discussion since the explicit indictment of tyranny in the Hiero is entrusted exclusively to Hiero, and therefore the understanding of the tendency of the Hiero as a whole depends decisively on the correct appreciation of Hiero's utterances on the subject.

It is certainly inadmissible to take for granted that Hiero simply voices Xenophon's considered judgment on tyranny: Hiero is not Xenophon. Besides, there is some specific evidence which goes to show that Hiero's indictment of tyranny is, according to Xenophon's view, exaggerated. Hiero asserts that "the cities magnificently honor the tyrannicide"; Xenophon, however, tells us that those murderers of Jason who survived were honored "in most of the Greek cities" to which they came. [39] Hiero asserts that the tyrants "know well that all their subjects are their enemies"; Xenophon, however, tells us that the subjects of the tyrant Euphron considered him their benefactor and revered him highly. [40] Hiero describes the tyrant as deprived of all pleasures of gay companionship; Xenophon, however, describes the tyrant Astyages as securely enjoying those pleasures to the full. [41] Yet Hiero may have said more against tyranny than Xenophon would grant; he may still have said exactly what he himself thought about the subject on the basis of his bitter experiences. Now, no reader however careful of the speeches of Hiero can possibly know anything of the expression of Hiero's face, of his gestures, and of the inflections of his voice. He is then not in the best position to detect which words of Hiero's rang true and which rang false. One of the many advantages of a dialogue one character of which is a wise man is that it puts at the disposal of the reader the wise man's discriminating observations concerning the different degree of reliability of the various utterances which flow with an equal ease, but not necessarily with an equal degree of conviction, from his companion's mouth. When reading the Hiero cursorily, one is bound to feel that Hiero is worried particularly by the tyrant's lack of friendship, confidence, patriotism, and true honor as well as by the constant danger of assassination. Yet Xenophon's Simonides, who is our sole authority for the adequate interpretation of the speeches of Xenophon's Hiero, was definitely not under the impression that Hiero's greatest sorrow was caused by the lack of the noble things mentioned, or by those agonies of perpetual and limitless fear which he describes in so edifying a manner. He has not the slightest doubt that Hiero has blamed tyranny most of all with a view to the fact that the tyrant is deprived of the sweetest pleasures of homosexual love, i.e., of pleasures which Simonides himself declares to be of minor importance. [42] Simonides is then not greatly impressed by Hiero's indictment of tyranny. That indictment, however touching or eloquent, has therefore to be read with a great deal of reasonable distrust.

When proving that private men derive greater pleasure from victory than tyrants, Hiero compares the victory of the citizens over their foreign enemies with the victory of the tyrant over his subjects: the citizens consider their victory something noble, and they are proud of it and boast of it, whereas the tyrant cannot be proud of his victory, or boast of it, or consider it noble. [43] Hiero fails to mention not only the victory of a party in a civil war but above all the victory of the citizens governed or led by their tyrannical ruler over their foreign enemies: he forgets his own victory in the battle of Cumae. He fails to consider the obvious possibility that a tyrant, who takes the chief responsibility for the outcome of a war, might be more gratified by victory than might the ordinary citizen; for it was the prudent counsel and efficient leadership of the tyrant that brought about the happy issue, while the ordinary citizen never can have had more than a small share in the deliberations concerning the war. Hiero fails to consider that this great pleasure might fully compensate the tyrant for the lack of many lesser pleasures.

We may speak of a twofold meaning of the indictment of tyranny, which forms the first and by far the largest part of the Hiero. According to its obvious meaning, it amounts to the strongest possible indictment of tyranny: the greatest possible authority on the subject, a tyrant who as such speaks from experience, shows that tyranny is bad even from the point of view of tyrants, even from the point of view of the pleasures of the tyrant. [44] This meaning is obvious; one merely has to read the first part of the Hiero, which consists chiefly of speeches of Hiero to this effect, in order to grasp it. A less obvious meaning of the first part of the Hiero comes into sight as soon as one considers its conversational setting -- the fact that the distrustful tyrant is speaking pro domo -- and, going one step further in the same direction, when one considers the facts recorded in Xenophon's historical work (the Hellenica). These considerations lead one to a more qualified indictment of tyranny, or to a more truthful account of tyranny, or to the wise view of tyranny. This means that in order to grasp Xenophon's view of tyranny as distinguished from Hiero's utterances about tyranny, one has to consider Hiero's "speeches" in the light of the more trustworthy "deeds" or "actions" or "facts," [45] and in particular that most important of "facts," the conversational setting of the Hiero. To the two meanings correspond then two types of reading, and ultimately two types of men. It was with a view to this difference between types of men and a corresponding difference between types of speaking that Socrates liked to quote the verses from the Iliad in which Odysseus is described as using different language when speaking to outstanding men on the one hand, and when speaking to the common people on the other; [46] and that he distinguished the superficial understanding of Homer on the part of the rhapsodes from that understanding which grasps the poet's "insinuations." [47] The superficial understanding is not simply wrong, since it grasps the obvious meaning which is as much intended by the author as is the deeper meaning. To describe in one sentence the art employed by Xenophon in the first part of the Hiero, we may say that by choosing a conversational setting in which the strongest possible indictment of tyranny becomes necessary, he intimates the limited validity of that indictment. [48]
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Re: On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:05 am

PART 3 OF 6

B. THE ACTION OF THE DIALOGUE

No genuine communication could develop if Hiero were animated exclusively by distrust of Simonides, or if Simonides did not succeed in gaining the tyrant's confidence to some extent. At the beginning of the conversation he reassures Hiero by declaring his willingness to learn from Hiero, i.e., to trust him in what he is going to say about the relative desirability of tyrannical and private life. The first section of the dialogue (ch. 1) is characterized by the interplay of Simonides' intention to reassure Hiero with his intention to dishearten him. That interplay ceases as soon as Hiero is completely committed to the continuance of the conversation. From that moment Simonides limits himself to provoking Hiero to express his unqualified indictment of tyranny.

Hiero, perhaps offended by Simonides' inevitable reference to his pretyrannical past and at the same time desirous to know more about Simonides' intentions and his preferences, emphasizes how remote he considers that past by asking Simonides to remind him of the pleasures and pains of private men: he pretends to have forgotten them. [1] In this context he mentions the fact that Simonides is "at present still a private man." Simonides seems to accept the challenge for a moment. At any rate, he makes to begin with a distinction between himself and private men ("I seem to have observed that private men enjoy ..."); but he soon drops that odious distinction by identifying himself unreservedly with the private men ("We seem to enjoy ..."). [2] In complying with Hiero's request, Simonides enumerates various groups of pleasurable and painful things. The enumeration is in a sense complete: it covers the pleasures and pains of the body, those of the soul, and those common to body and soul. Otherwise, it is most surprising. While it is unnecessarily detailed as regards the pleasures and pains of the body, it does not give any details whatsoever as regards the other kinds of pleasure and pain mentioned. It is reasonable to assume that the selection is made, at least partly, ad hominem, or that it is meant to prepare a discussion which serves a specific practical purpose. Simonides enumerates seven groups of things which are sometimes pleasant and sometimes painful for private men, and one which is always pleasant for them: that which is always pleasant for them is sleep -- which the tyrant, haunted by fears of all kinds, must strive to avoid. [3] This example seems to show that the purpose of Simonides' enumeration is to remind the tyrant of the pleasures of which he is supposed to be deprived, and thus to induce him to make clear to himself the misery of tyrannical life. It is for this reason, one might surmise to begin with, that the enumeration puts the emphasis on the pleasures of the body, [4] i.e., on those pleasures the enjoyment of which is not characteristic of actual or potential tyrants. However, if Simonides' chief intention had been to remind Hiero of the pleasures of which he is actually or supposedly deprived, he would not have dropped the topic "sleep" in the discussion which immediately follows (in ch. 1). Furthermore, Simonides' initial enumeration fails to have any depressing effect on Hiero. It seems therefore preferable to say that his emphasizing the pleasures of the body in the initial enumeration is chiefly due to his intention to reassure Hiero. Emphasizing these pleasures, he creates the impression that he is himself chiefly interested in them. But men chiefly interested in bodily pleasures are not likely to aspire to any ruling position. [5]

Hiero is satisfied with Simonides' enumeration. He gives Simonides to understand that it exhausts the types of pleasure and pain experienced by tyrants as well as by private men. Simonides strikes the first obvious note of dissonance by asserting that the life of a tyrant contains many more pleasures of all kinds and many fewer pains of all kinds than private life. Hiero's immediate answer is still restrained. He does not assert that tyrannical life is inferior to private life as such; he merely says that tyrannical life is inferior to the life of private men of moderate means. [6] He admits by implication that the condition of tyrants is preferable to that of poor men. Yet poverty and wealth are to be measured, not by number, but with a view to use, or to need. [7] At least from this point of view, Simonides may be poor and hence justified in being jealous of tyrants. At any rate, he now reveals that he looks at tyrants with a mixture of admiration and envy and that he might belong to the "many who are reputed to be most able men" who desire to be tyrants. The tension increases. Hiero strengthens his reply, which is more emphatic than any previous utterance of his, by an oath, and he expresses his intention to teach Simonidcs the truth about the relative desirability of tyrannical and private life. [8] Speaking as a teacher, he embarks upon a discussion of the various kinds of bodily pleasure which keeps in the main to the order followed by Simonides in his initial enumeration. [9] Hiero now tries to prove the thesis that tyrannical life is inferior, not merely to a specific private life, but to private life as such. [10]

The discussion of bodily pleasures (1.10-38) reveals the preferences of the two interlocutors in an indirect way. [11] According to Hiero, the inferiority of tyranny shows itself most dearly with regard to the pleasures of sex, and especially of homosexuality. [12] The only proper name occurring in the Hiero (apart from those of Simonides, Hiero, Zeus, and the Greeks), i.e., the only concrete reference to Hiero's life, as well as Hiero's second emphatic oath (which is his last emphatic oath), occurs in the passage dealing with homosexual love. [13] Simonides is particularly vocal regarding the pleasures of hearing, i. e., the pleasures of hearing praise, and, above all, regarding the pleasures of food. His most emphatic assertion, occurring in the discussion of bodily pleasures, concerns food. [14] Two of his five "by Zeus" occur in the passage dealing with food. [15] That passage is the only part of the Hiero where the conversation takes on the character of a lively discussion, and in fact of a Socratic elenchus (with Hiero in the role of Socrates): Hiero is compelled, point by point, to refute Simonides' assertion that tyrants derive greater pleasure from food than private men. [16] Only in reading the discussion concerning food does one get the impression that Hiero has to overcome a serious resistance on the part of Simonides: four times he appeals from Simonides' assertion to Simonides' experience, observation, or knowledge. How much Hiero is aware of this state of things is shown by the fact that after Simonides had already abandoned the subject, Hiero once more returns to it in order to leave no doubt whatsoever in Simonides' mind as to the inferiority of tyrannical life in the matter of the pleasures of the table: he does not rest until Simonides has granted that, as regards these pleasures, tyrants are worse off than private men. [17] As an explanation we suggest that Simonides wants to reassure Hiero by presenting himself as a man chiefly interested in food, or in "good living" in general, or by ironically overstating his actual liking for "good living." [18]

At the end of the discussion of the bodily pleasures, we seem to have reached the end of the whole conversation. Simonides had originally enumerated eight groups of pleasurable or painful things: (1) sights, (2) sounds, (3) odors, (4) food and drink, (5) sex, (6) objects perceived by the whole body, (7) good and bad things, and (8) sleep. After four of them (sights, sounds, food and drink, odors) have been discussed, he says that the pleasures of sex seem to be the only motive which excites in tyrants the desire for tyrannical rule. [19] By implication, he thus dismisses as irrelevant three of the four groups of pleasant or painful things which had not thereto been discussed (objects perceived by the whole body, good and bad things, sleep). Hence, he narrows down the whole question of the relative desirability of tyrannical and private life to the question, Do tyrants or private men enjoy to a higher degree the pleasures of sex? So doing, he completely reassures Hiero: he practically capitulates. For of nothing is Hiero more convinced than of this, that precisely as regards the pleasures of sex, tyrants are most evidently worse off than private men. He is so much convinced of the truth of his thesis and of the decisive character of the argument by which he upholds it that he can speak later on of his having "demonstrated" to Simonides the true character of a tyrant's amatory pleasures. [20] At the end of the discussion of sex, i.e., at the end of the discussion of the bodily pleasures, Hiero has proved to Simonides what the latter had admitted to be the only point which still needed proof if Hiero's general thesis were to be established securely. On the level of the surface argument the discussion has reached its end. The discussion would have reached its end as well if Simonides had no other intention than to find out what Hiero's greatest worries are, or to remind him of the pleasures from the lack of which he suffers most, or to give him an opportunity of speaking freely of what disturbs him most. All these aims have been reached at the end of the discussion of sex: Hiero is concerned most of all with the tyrant's lack of the sweetest pleasures of homosexual love, [21] and the later discussion is devoted to entirely different subjects. On the other hand, the continuation of the conversation is evidently necessary if Simonides' intention is to defeat Hiero by playing upon the tyrant's fear of the wise.

The first round ends, so it seems, with a complete victory for Hiero. He has proved his thesis without saying too much against tyranny and therewith against himself. Now the struggle begins in earnest. In the preceding part of the conversation, Simonides' expressions of jealousy of the tyrants had been mitigated, if not altogether retracted, by his emphasis on the pleasures of the body. Now he declares in glaring contrast to all that has gone before, and in particular to what he has said about the unique significance of the pleasures of sex, that the whole preceding discussion is irrelevant, because it dealt only with what he believes to be very minor matters: many of those who are reputed to be (real) men () [22] just despise the bodily pleasures; they aspire to greater things, namely, to power and wealth; it is in relation to wealth and power that tyrannical life is manifestly superior to private life. In the preceding part of the conversation, Simonides had tacitly identified himself with the vulgar; now he tacitly makes a distinction between himself and the vulgar. But the nonvulgar type to which he tacitly claims to belong is not the type of the "gentleman" but of the "real man." [23] While elaborating the thesis that tyrannical life brings greater wealth and power than private life, he supplements his initial enumeration of pleasurable and painful things (in which the "good and bad" things have almost disappeared amid the throng of objects of bodily pleasure) by an enumeration of the elements of power and wealth. In doing this he seems to imply that power and wealth are unambiguously "good" and in fact the only things that matter. [24] Since Simonides knows that Hiero considers him a real man, and since he declares explicitly that he himself considers the bodily pleasures as of very minor importance, Simonides thus intimates [25] an unequivocal taste for tyranny. In enumerating the various elements of power and wealth, he reveals his taste more specifically, and more subtly, by what he mentions and by what he fails to mention. [26]

From this moment the conversation changes its character in a surprising manner. Whereas Simonides had been fairly vocal during the rather short discussion of the bodily pleasures (his contribution consisting of about 218 words out of 1058), he is almost completely silent during the much more extensive discussion of the good or bad things (his contribution consisting of 28 words out of about 2000). Besides, the discussion of the bodily pleasures had kept, in the main, to the items and the sequence suggested in Simonides' initial enumeration, and this had been due largely to Simonides' almost continuous interference with Hiero's exposition. But now, in the discussion of the good or bad things, Hiero deviates considerably, not to say completely, from Simonides' enumeration of these things and their sequence by introducing topics which had barely been hinted at by Simonides. [27] The purpose of Hiero's procedure is evident. In the first place, he can refute only with difficulty the cautious assertion to which the wise Simonides had limited himself, [28] that the tyrant possesses greater power and wealth than private men. Above all, he is very anxious to push "wealth" into the background in favor of the other good things because wealth is so highly desired by "real men" of the type of Simonides as well as by the actual tyrant himself. [29]

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[Narrator] Far back in the mists of ancient time, in the great and glorious days of the former Galactic Empire, life was wild, rich and, on the whole, tax-free. Mighty starships plied their way between exotic suns, seeking adventure and reward amongst the furthest reaches of Galactic space.

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In those days, spirits were brave, stakes were high, men were real men Image ...

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women were real women ...

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and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.

All dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before. And thus was the Empire forged.
Many men, of course, became extremely rich, but this was perfectly natural, and nothing to be ashamed of, because no one was really poor -- at least no one worth speaking of.

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And for these extremely rich merchants, life eventually became rather dull, and it seemed that none of the worlds they settled on was entirely satisfactory. Either the climate wasn't quite right in the later part of the afternoon, or the day was half an hour too long, or the sea was just the wrong shade of pink.

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(GULLS CRY)

-- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, directed by Douglas Adams


The topics not mentioned by Simonides but introduced by Hiero are: peace and war, friendship, [30] confidence, fatherland, good men, city and citizens, fear and protection. Simonides' declaration asserting the superiority of tyrants as regards power and wealth provokes Hiero to an eloquent indictment of tyranny which surpasses in scope everything said in the first section: the tyrant is cut off from such good things as peace, the pleasant aspects of war, friendship, confidence, fatherland, and the company of good men; he is hated and conspired against by his nearest relatives and friends; he cannot enjoy the greatness of his own fatherland; he lives in perpetual fear for his life; he is compelled to commit grave crimes against gods and men; those who kill him, far from being punished, are greatly honored. Simonides has succeeded in increasing Hiero's tenseness far beyond the limits which it had reached during the discussion of the bodily pleasures. This shows itself particularly in those passages where the tyrant speaks of subjects already mentioned in the first section. [31] And this increase of tension is due, not only to the declaration with which the poet had opened the second round, but, above all, to the ambiguous silence with which he listens to Hiero's tirade. Is he overawed by Hiero's indictment of tyranny? Does he doubt Hiero's sincerity? Or is he just bored by Hiero's speech because his chief concern is with "food," with the pleasures of the body, the discussion of which had interested him sufficiently to make him talk? Hiero cannot know.

The meaning of Simonides' silence is partly revealed by its immediate consequence. It leads to the consequence that the topics introduced by Hiero are hardly as much as mentioned, and certainly not discussed by Simonides in the first two sections of the dialogue. His silence thus brings out in full relief the contrast between the topics introduced in the first two sections by Hiero on the one hand and by Simonides on the other. Simonides introduces the pleasures of the body as well as wealth and power; Hiero introduces the loftier things. Simonides, who has to convince Hiero of his competence to give sound advice to tyrants, must guard by all means against appearing in Hiero's eyes as a poet: he limits himself to speaking about the more pedestrian things. [32] Hiero, who tries to dissuade Simonides from being jealous of tyrants or from aspiring to tyranny, has to appeal from Simonides' craving for low things to his more noble aspirations. The lesson which Xenophon ironically conveys by this element of the conversational setting seems to be this: a teacher of tyrants has to appear as a hardboiled man; it does not do any harm if he makes his pupil suspect that he cannot be impressed by considerations of a more noble character.

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[Loudon] Oh. Hey, hey. You stole that from Cartier. That's grand theft.

[Nikki] Thanks.

[Loudon] But they're going to come after us.

[Nikki] Loudon, you don't seem to understand. They don't care about this stuff. Those places they deal in diamonds. They don't want the diamonds stolen so they put stuff like this out for people to take. It's what you call in business a loss leader. They want us to steal it, yeah. You understand that? It's like a promotional thing with them.

-- Who's That Girl, directed by James Foley


The poet interrupts his silence only once. The circumstances of that interruption call for some attention. Hiero had given Simonides more than one opportunity to say something, especially by addressing him by name. [33] This applies especially to his discussion of friendship. Therein one can almost see Hiero urging him toward at least some visible reaction. [34] After all his efforts to make Simonides talk have failed, he turns to what he considers the characteristic pleasures of private men: drink, song, and sleep, which he, having become a tyrant, cannot enjoy any longer because he is perpetually harassed by fear, the spoiler of all pleasures. [35] Simonides remains silent. Hiero makes a last attempt, this one more successful. Reminding himself of the fact that Simonides had been most vocal while food was being discussed, he replaces "strong drink and sleep" by "food and sleep." [36] Referring to the poet's possible experience of fear in battle, he asserts that tyrants can enjoy food and sleep as little as, or less than, soldiers who have the enemy's phalanx close in front of them. Simonides replies that his military experience proves to him the possibility of combining "living dangerously" with a healthy appetite and a sound sleep. [37] Saying this, he tacitly denies more strongly than by his statement at the beginning of the second section the reassuring implications of his previous emphasis on the pleasures of the body. [38]

We must now step back and look again at the picture as a whole. Taken as a whole, the second section consists of Hiero's sweeping indictment of tyranny, to which Simonides listens in silence. The meaning of this silence is finally revealed by what happens in the third section (ch. 7). The third section, the shortest section of the Hiero, contains, or immediately prepares for, the peripeteia. It culminates in Hiero's declaration that the tyrant can hardly do better than to hang himself. By making this declaration, Hiero abdicates the leadership in the conversation in favor of Simonides, who keeps it throughout the fourth and last section (ch. 8-11). [39] We contend that this crucial event -- Hiero's breakdown or the change from Hiero's leadership to Simonides' leadership -- is consciously and decisively prepared by Simonides' remaining silent in the second section.

The third section opens again with a surprising move of Simonides. [40] He grants to Hiero that tyranny is as toilsome and as dangerous as the latter had asserted; yet, he says, those toils and dangers are reasonably borne because they lead to the pleasure deriving from honors, and no other human pleasure comes nearer to divinity than this kind of pleasure: tyrants are honored more than any other men.

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[George Bush: This is an impressive crowd. The haves, and the have-mores.

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Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.

-- Fahrenheit 9/11, directed by Michael Moore


In the parallel at the beginning of the second section Simonides had spoken only of what "many of those who are reputed to be (real) men" desire, and had merely implied that what they desire is power and wealth. Now he openly declares that the desire for honor is characteristic of real men as such, i.e., as distinguished from ordinary "human beings." [41] There seems to be no longer any doubt that Simonides, who is admittedly a real man, longs for tyrannical power.

Hiero's immediate reply reveals that he is more alarmed than ever before. He had mentioned before the facts that the tyrant is in perpetual danger of being assassinated and that tyrants commit acts of injustice. But never before had he mentioned these two facts within one and the same sentence. Still less had he explicitly established a connection between them. Only now, while trying to prove that the tyrant does not derive any pleasure from the honors shown to him, does he declare that the tyrant spends night and day like one condemned by all men to die for his injustice.

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-- Fahrenheit 9/11, directed by Michael Moore


[42] One might think for a moment that this increase in the vehemence of Hiero's indictment of tyranny is due to the subject matter so unexpectedly introduced by Simonides: Hiero might seem to suffer most of all from the fact that the tyrant is deprived of genuine honor. But if this is the case, why does he not protest against Simonides' later remark that Hiero had depreciated tyranny most because it frustrated the tyrant's homosexual desires? Why did he not bring up the subject of "honor" himself instead of waiting until Simonides did it? Why did he not find fault with Simonides' misleading initial enumeration of pleasures? Last but not least, why did the earlier discussion of a similar subject -- praise [43] -- fail to make any noticeable impression on his mood? It is not so much the intrinsic significance of Simonides' statement on honor as its conversational significance which accounts for its conspicuous and indeed decisive effect.

At the beginning of his statement on honor, Simonides alludes to Hiero's description of the toils and dangers which attend the life of a tyrant. But Hiero had described not merely those toils and dangers, but also the moral depravity to which the tyrant is condemned: he is compelled to live "by contriving something bad and base"; he is compelled to commit the crime of robbing temples and men; he cannot be a true patriot; he desires to enslave his fellow citizens; only the consideration that a tyrant must have living subjects who walk around seems to prevent him from killing or imprisoning all his subjects. After Hiero has finished his long speech, Simonides declares that in spite of everything that the tyrant has said, tyranny is highly desirable because it leads to supreme honor. As regards the toils and dangers pointed out by Hiero, Simonides pauses to allude to them; as regards the moral flaws deplored by Hiero, he simply ignores them. That is to say, the poet is not at all impressed by the immorality, or the injustice, characteristic of the tyrannical life; certainly its inevitable immorality would not prevent him for a moment from aspiring to tyranny for the sake of honor. No wonder then that Hiero collapses shortly afterward: what overwhelms him is not Simonides' statement on honor itself, but the poet's making it in this particular context. Because it is made in that context, and merely because it is made in that context, does it make Hiero realize to what lengths a man of Simonides' exceptional "wisdom" could go in "contriving something" and in particular in "contriving something bad and base." It is by thus silently, i.e., most astutely, revealing a complete lack of scruple that the poet both overwhelms Hiero and convinces him of his competence to give sound advice to a tyrant. [44]

The lesson which Xenophon conveys by making Simonides listen silently to Hiero's long speech, as well as by his answer to that speech, can now be stated as follows. Even a perfectly just man who wants to give advice to a tyrant has to present himself to his pupil as an utterly unscrupulous man. The greatest man who ever imitated the Hiero was Machiavelli. I should not be surprised if a sufficiently attentive study of Machiavelli's work would lead to the conclusion that it is precisely Machiavelli's perfect understanding of Xenophon's chief pedagogic lesson which accounts for the most shocking sentences occurring in the Prince. But if Machiavelli understood Xenophon's lesson, he certainly did not apply it in the spirit of its originator. For, according to Xenophon, the teacher of tyrants has to appear as an utterly unscrupulous man, not by protesting that he does not fear hell nor devil, nor by expressing immoral principles, but by simply failing to take notice of the moral principles. He has to reveal his alleged or real freedom from morality, not by speech but by silence. For by doing so -- by disregarding morality "by deed" rather than by attacking it "by speech" -- he reveals at the same time his understanding of political things. Xenophon, or his Simonides, is more "politic" than Machiavelli; he refuses to separate "moderation" (prudence) from "wisdom" (insight).

By replying to Hiero's long speech in the manner described, Simonides compels him to use still stronger language against tyranny than he had done before. Now Hiero declares that a tyrant, as distinguished from a man who is a benefactor of his fellows and therefore genuinely honored, lives like one condemned by all men to die for his injustice. Arrived at this point, Simonides could have replied in the most natural manner that, this being the case, the tyrant ought to rule as beneficently as possible. He could have begun at once to teach Hiero how to rule well as a tyrant. But he apparently felt that he needed some further information for sizing Hiero up, or that Hiero needed a further shock before he would be prepared to listen. Therefore he asks Hiero why, if tyranny is really such a great evil for the tyrant, neither he nor any other tyrant ever yet gave up his position voluntarily. Hiero answers that no tyrant can abdicate because he cannot make amends for the robbing, imprisoning, and killing of his subjects; (just as it does not profit him to live as a tyrant, it does not profit him to live again as a private man); if it profits any man (to cease living), to hang himself, it profits the tyrant most of all. [45] This answer puts the finishing touch to the preparation for Simonides' instruction. Simonides' final attack had amounted to a veiled suggestion addressed to the tyrant to return to private life. That suggestion is the necessary conclusion which a reasonable man would draw from Hiero's comparison between tyrannical and private life. Hiero defends himself against that suggestion by revealing what might seem to be some rudimentary sense of justice: he cannot return to private life because he cannot make amends for the many acts of injustice which he has committed. This defense is manifestly hypocritical: if tyranny is what he has asserted it to be, he prefers heaping new crimes on the untold number of crimes which he has already committed rather than stop his criminal career and suffer the consequences of his former misdeeds. His real motive for not abdicating seems then to be fear of punishment. But could he not escape punishment by simply fleeing? This is indeed the crucial implication of Hiero's last word against tyranny: as if there never had been a tyrant who, after having been expelled from his city, lived quietly thereafter in exile, and although he himself had said on a former occasion [46] that while making a journey abroad, the tyrant might easily be deposed, Hiero refuses to consider the possibility of escape from his city. He thus reveals himself as a man who is unable to live as a stranger. [47] It is this citizen spirit of his -- the fact that he cannot help being absolutely attached to his city -- to which the wandering poet silently appeals when teaching him how to be a good ruler.

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In 1923, Strauss named his initial Zionism revealingly a “pagan-fascism.” In Breslau, he belonged to a reactionary Jewish youth group Juedischer Wanderbund Blau-Weiss [“Blue-White”], modeled on the German Wandervogel groups which, however, excluded Jews. These were groups of German young people with nationalist sentiments, who hiked together in the mountains. Blau-Weiss was even more militaristic. Strauss supported Blau-Weiss’s leader, Walter Moses, who imitated Mussolini (the latter had come to power in Italy in 1922). He sought to shape Blau-Weiss into an army (many of its members had not served in World War I, and liked the militarism). (Leo Strauss, The Early Writings, 1921-32 trans. and ed. Michael Zank, p. 73, n. 9).

-- Leo Strauss's 1923 Celebration of "Pagan-Fascism," by Alan Gilbert


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Wandervogel is the name adopted by a popular movement of German youth groups from 1896 onward. The name can be translated as rambling, hiking or wandering bird (differing in meaning from "Zugvogel" or migratory bird) and the ethos is to shake off the restrictions of society and get back to nature and freedom. The Wandervogel movement was officially established on 4 November 1901 by Herman Hoffmann Fölkersamb, who in 1895 had formed a study circle at the boys' Berlin-Steglitz grammar school where he was teaching. The Wandervogel soon became the pre-eminent German youth movement. It was a back-to-nature youth organization emphasizing freedom, self-responsibility, and the spirit of adventure, and took a nationalistic approach, stressing Germany's Teutonic roots

-- Wandervogel, by Wikipedia


"As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the benign indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself—so like a brother, really—I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate."

-- The Stranger, by Camus


Hiero has finally been rendered incapable of any further move. He has been reduced to a condition in which he has to fetter himself by a sincere or insincere assertion, or in which he has to use the language of a man who is despondent. He uses entirely different language in the two fairly brief utterances which he makes in the fourth or last section. Whereas his indictment of tyranny in the first part of the Hiero had presented the tyrant as the companion of the unjust and had culminated in the description of the tyrant as injustice incarnate, he describes him in the last part of the dialogue -- i.e., a few minutes later -- as a man who punishes the unjust, [48] as a defender of justice. This quick change of language, or of attitude, is most astonishing. As we have seen, the vehemence of Hiero's indictment had been increasing from section to section because Simonides had not been deterred from praising tyranny by the shortcomings of tyranny pointed out by Hiero. Now, Hiero had spoken against tyranny in the third section more violently than ever before, and in the fourth section Simonides continues praising tyranny. [49] Hence one should expect that Hiero will continue still increasing the vehemence of his indictment of tyranny. Yet he takes the opposite course. What has happened? Why does Simonides' praise of tyranny in the fourth section, and especially in the early part of that section (8.1-7), fail to arouse Hiero's violent reaction? We suggest the following answer: Simonides' praise of tyranny in the fourth section -- as distinguished from his praise of tyranny in the preceding sections -- is not considered by Hiero an expression of the poet's jealousy of tyrants. More precisely, Simonides' immediate reaction to Hiero's statement that a tyrant can hardly do better than to hang himself, or the use which Simonides makes of his newly acquired leadership, convinces Hiero that the poet is not concerned with "contriving something" of an undesirable character. The action by which Simonides breaks down the walls of Hiero's distrust, is the peripeteia of the dialogue.

The difficult position into which Hiero has been forced is not without its advantages. Hiero had been on the defensive because he did not know what Simonides might be contriving. By his defeat, by his declaration of bankruptcy, he succeeds in stopping Simonides to the extent that he forces him to show his hand. He presents himself as a man who knows that neither of the two ways of life -- the tyrannical and the private life -- profits him, but who does not know whether it would profit him to cease living by hanging himself ("if it profits any man ..."). [50] Simonides could have taken up in a fairly natural manner the question implicitly raised by Hiero as to whether suicide is an advisable course of action, and in particular whether there are not other forms of death preferable to, or easier than, hanging. [51] In other words, the poet could conceivably have tried to persuade the tyrant to commit suicide, or to commit suicide in the easiest manner. To exaggerate grossly for purposes of clarification: the victory of the wise man over the tyrant, achieved solely by means of speech prudently interspersed with silence, is so complete that the wise man could kill the tyrant without lifting a finger, employing only speech, only persuasion. But he does nothing of the kind: he who has the power of persuasion, he who can do what he likes with any interlocutor, prefers to make use of the obedience of a living man rather than to kill him. [52] After having made Hiero realize fully that a wise man has the power of going to any length in contriving anything, Simonides gives him to understand that the wise man would not make use of this power. Simonides' refraining from acting like a man who wants to do away with a tyrant, or to deprive him of his power, is the decisive reason for the change in Hiero's attitude.

But silence is not enough: Simonides has to say something. What he says is determined by his intention to advise Hiero, and by the impossibility of advising a man who is despondent. It is immaterial in this respect that Hiero's complaints about his situation are of questionable sincerity; for Simonides is not in a position openly to question their sincerity. He has then to comfort Hiero while advising him or prior to advising him. Accordingly, his teaching of the tyrannical art is presented in the following form: Tyranny is most desirable ("comfort") if you will only do such and such things ("advice"). The comfort element of Simonides' teaching -- the praise of (beneficent) tyranny -- is due to the conversational situation and cannot be presumed to be an integral part of Xenophon's teaching concerning tyranny until it has been proved to be so. On the other hand, Simonides' advice can be presumed from the outset to be identical with Xenophon's suggestions about the improvement of tyrannical rule as a radically faulty political order.

It would not have been impossible for Simonides to refute Hiero by showing that the latter's account of tyranny is exaggerated, i.e., by discussing Hiero's indictment of tyranny point by point. But such a detailed discussion would merely have led to the conclusion that tyranny is not quite as bad as Hiero had asserted. That dreary result would not have sufficed for restoring Hiero's courage or for counteracting the crushing effect of his final verdict on tyranny. Or, to disregard for one moment the conversational setting, an exact examination of Hiero's arguments would have destroyed completely the edifying effect of the indictment of tyranny in the first part of the Hiero. Xenophon had then to burden his Simonides with the task of drawing a picture of tyranny which would be at least as bright as the one drawn by Hiero had been dark. The abundant use of the modus potentialis in Simonides' speech as well as the silence of the Hiero and indeed of the whole Corpus Xenophonteum about happy tyrants who actually existed anywhere in Greece make it certain that Simonides' praise of tyranny in the second part of the Hiero was considered by Xenophon even more rhetorical than Hiero's indictment of tyranny in the first part.

Hiero had tried to show that tyrannical life is inferior to private life from the point of view of pleasure. In the existing situation, Simonides cannot appeal directly from the pleasant to the noble, for Hiero had just declared in the most emphatic manner that, as a matter of fact, a tyrant is a man who has committed an untold number of crimes. Simonides is therefore compelled to show (what in the first part he had hardly more than asserted) that tyrannical life is superior to private life from the point of view of pleasure. Being compelled to accept the tyrant's end, he must show that Hiero used the wrong means. In other words, he must trace Hiero's being out of heart with tyranny not to a wrong intention but to an error of judgment, to an erroneous belief. [53]

Simonides discovers the specific error which he ascribes to Hiero by reflecting on the latter's reply to the poet's statement concerning honor. Hiero had compared the honors enjoyed by tyrants with their sexual pleasures: just as services rendered by those who do not love in turn, or who act under compulsion, are no favors, services rendered by those who fear, are no honors. The tertium comparationis between the pleasures of sex and those of honor is that both must be granted by people who are prompted by love (Image) and not by fear.

[Testimony of Paul Bonacci]: I went in January of '84 on every trip. I was paid by men King knew for sex. In the summer of '84 sometime I went to Dallas, Texas and had sex with several men King knew in a hotel.

I flew on YNR Airlines and Kam Airlines normally for King. I never had much personally to do with King, only went where he told me to go.

In or on July 26th I went to Sacramento, Ca. King flew me out on a private plane from Eppley Airfield [in Omaha] to Denver where we picked up Nicholas, a boy who was about 12 or 13. Then we flew to Las Vegas to a desert strip and drove in to Las Vegas and to some ranch and got something. Then flew on to Sacramento.

We were picked up by a white limo and taken to a hotel. I don't remember the name of it. We meaning Nicholas and I were driven to a area that had big trees, it took about an hour to get there. There was a cage with a boy in it who was not wearing anything. Nicholas and I were given these tarzan things to put around us and stuff.

They told me to f---the boy and stuff. At first I said no and they held a gun to my balls and said do it or else lose them or something like that. I began doing it to the boy and stuff. And Nicholas had anal sex and stuff with him. We were told to f-- him and stuff and beat on him. I didn't try to hurt him. We were told to put our d---s in his mouth and stuff and sit on the boys penis and stuff and they filmed it. We did this stuff to the boy for about 30 minutes or an hour when a man came in and kicked us and stuff in the balls and picked us up and threw us. He grabbed the boy and started f---ing him and stuff. The man was about 10 inches long and the boy screamed and stuff and the man was forcing his d-- into the boy all the way. The boy was bleeding from his rectum and the men tossed him and me and stuff and put the boy right next to me and grabbed a gun and blew the boys head off.

The boys blood was all over me and I started yelling and crying. The men grabbed Nicholas and I and forced us to lie down. They put the boy on top of Nicholas who was crying and they were putting Nicholas hands on the boys ass. They put the boy on top of me and did the same thing. They then forced me to f-- the dead boy up his ass and also Nicholas they put a gun to our heads to make us do it. His blood was all over us. They made us kiss the boys lips and to eat him out. Then they made me do something I don't want to even write so I won't.

After that the men grabbed Nicholas and drug him off screaming they put me up against a tree and put a gun to my head but fired into the air. I heard another shot from somewhere. I then saw the man who killed the boy drag him like a toy. Everything including when the men put the boy in a trunk was filmed. They took me with them and we went up in a plane. I saw the bag the boy was in. We went over a very thick brush area with a clearing in it. Over the clearing they dropped the boy. One said the men with the hoods would take care of the body for them.

I didn't see Nicholas until that night at the hotel. He and I hugged and held each other for a long while. About two hours later the men or Larry King came in and told us to go take a shower since we had only been hosed off at some guys house. We took a shower together and then were told to put on the tarzan things. After we were cleaned up and dressed in these things we were told to put on shorts, socks and a shirt and shoes and driven to a house where the men were at with some others. They had the film and they played it. As the men watched they passed Nicholas and I around as if we were toys and sexually abused us.

They made Nicholas and I screw each other and one of the men put the dead boy's penis in mine and Nicholas' mouth. I didn't want to write this because the man forced me to bite the boys' penis and balls off. It was gross and I saw the film where it happened and started freaking out remembering what they made us do afterwards to the boy. They showed us doing everything to the boy. I was there for about 5 days attending parties but only recall cutting my wrist which is why I stayed two days in a hospital under a name I can't recall. Some guy paid for me.

***

[Ernest E. Bryant, Omaha Star] Chairman King has accepted a position in the Reagan/Bush re-election campaign. He was appointed by National Black Republican Council Chairperson LeGree Daniels, who was named Chairperson of the Black Voters for the Campaign, in the Reagan/Bush' 84 re-election bid. She has appointed King as coordinator of all the activities to bring out the Black vote. In brief this means that Mr. King will be responsible for meeting with the Party officials and the Black Republican leadership within each of the 17 targeted states. He will coordinate the efforts of these groups in support of the Reagan/Bush campaign. ... Mr. King will also be traveling to the 17 targeted states when President Reagan does, to draw state party officials and Black Republican leadership together.

-- The Franklin Cover-Up -- Child Abuse, Satanism and Murder in Nebraska, by John W. DeCamp


A homosexual prostitution ring is under investigation by federal and District authorities and includes among its clients key officials of the Reagan and Bush administrations, military officers, congressional aides and U.S. and foreign businessmen with close social ties to Washington's political elite, documents obtained by The Washington Times reveal.

-- Homosexual Prostitution Inquiry Ensnares VIPs with Reagan, Bush -- 'Call Boys' Took Midnight Tour of White House, by Paul M. Rodriguez and George Archibald


The case is almost seven years old now, but matters surrounding a mysterious group known as the Finders keeps growing curiouser and curiouser.

In early February 1987, an anonymous tipster in Tallahassee, Fla., made a phone call to police. Two "well-dressed men" seemed to be "supervising" six disheveled and hungry children in a local park, the caller said. The cops went after the case like bloodhounds - at least at first. The two men were identified as members of the Finders. They were charged with child abuse in Florida. In Washington, D.C., police and U.S. Customs Service agents raided a duplex apartment building and a warehouse connected to the group. Among the evidence seized: detailed instructions on how to obtain children for unknown purposes and several photographs of nude children. According to a Customs Service memorandum obtained by U.S. News, one photo appeared "to accent the child's genitals."

The more police learned about the Finders, the more bizarre they seemed: There were suggestions of child abuse, Satanism, dealing in pornography and ritualistic animal slaughter.

None of the allegations was ever proved, however. The child abuse charges against the two men in Tallahassee were dropped; all six of the children were eventually returned to their mothers, though in the case of two, conditions were attached by a court. In Washington, D.C., police began backing away from the Finders investigation. The group's practices, the police said, were eccentric - not illegal.

Questions.

Today, things appear to have changed yet again. The Justice Department has begun a new investigation into the Finders and into the group's activities. It is also reviewing the 1987 investigation into the group to determine whether the probe was closed improperly. Justice officials will not elaborate, except to say that the investigation is "ongoing" and that it involves "unresolved matters" in relation to the Finders.

One of the unresolved questions involves allegations that the Finders are somehow linked to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Customs Service documents reveal that in 1987, when Customs agents sought to examine the evidence gathered by Washington, D.C. police, they were told that the Finders investigation "had become a CIA internal matter." The police report on the case had been classified secret. Even now, Tallahassee police complain about the handling of the investigation by D.C. police. "They dropped this case," one Tallahassee investigator says, "like a hot rock." D.C. police will not comment on the matter. As for the CIA, ranking officials describe allegations about links between the intelligence agency and the Finders as "hogwash" - perhaps the result of a simple mix-up with D.C. police. The only connection, according to the CIA: A firm that provided computer training to CIA officers also employed several members of the Finders.

The many unanswered questions about the Finders case now have Democratic Rep. Charlie Rose of North Carolina, chairman of the House Administration Committee, and Florida's Rep. Tom Lewis, a Republican, more than a little exercised. "Could our own government have something to do with this Finders organization and turned their backs on these children? That's what all the evidence points to," says Lewis. "And there is a lot of evidence. I can tell you this: We've got a lot of people scrambling, and that wouldn't be happening if there was nothing here."

Perhaps. But the Finders say there is nothing there - at least nothing illegal. The Finders have never been involved in child abuse, pornography, Satanism, animal slaughter or anything of the kind, says the group's leader, Marion David Pettie. Pettie, too, says the group has never been connected to the CIA. In an interview with U.S. News, Pettie described the Finders as a communal, holistic- living and learning arrangement. The group numbers some 20 members, Pettie says; they do freelance journalism, research and "competitor intelligence" for a variety of mostly foreign clients. The Finders work for no foreign governments, Pettie says. Their duplex, in a residential Northwest Washington neighborhood, is decorated with global maps and bulletin boards. Residents in Culpepper, Va., 90 minutes from Washington, say the Finders operated an office there, too, from time to time. That office contained computer terminals and clocks reflecting different time zones from around the world.

CIA officials say they refer all matters concerning the Finders and the police investigation to the FBI's Foreign Counterintelligence Division. FBI officials will not comment. Law enforcement sources say some of the Finders are listed in the FBI's classified counterintelligence files.

None of this fazes Pettie. He says the CIA's interest in the Finders may stem from the fact that his late wife once worked for the agency and that his son worked for a CIA proprietary firm, Air America. Overall, says Pettie, "we're a zero security threat. When you don't do much of anything, and you don't explain, people start rumors about you." To judge from the latest case, some of the rumors can last an awfully long time.

-- Through a Glass, Very Darkly -- Cops, Spies and a Very Odd Investigation, by Gordon Witkin and Peter Cary with Ancel Martinez
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Re: On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:07 am

PART 4 OF 6

Now Hiero is worried most by his being deprived of the genuine pleasures of sex. But Simonides might offend him by emphasizing this fact and thus asserting that Hiero is more concerned with sex than with honor and hence perhaps not a "real man." He elegantly avoids this embarrassment by escaping into something more general, viz., into that which is common to "honor" and "sex." [54] For whether Hiero is chiefly concerned with the one or the other, he is in both cases in need of love (Image). And in both cases his misery is due to his belief that being a tyrant and being loved are mutually exclusive. [55] This is then the diagnosis of Hiero's illness from which Simonides starts: Hiero is out of heart with tyranny because, desiring to be loved by human beings, he believes that tyrannical rule prevents him from being so loved. [56] Simonides does not limit himself to rejecting this belief. He asserts that tyrants are more likely to gain affection than private men. For whatever might have to be said against tyranny, the tyrant is certainly a ruler, hence a man of high standing among his fellows, and "we" naturally admire men of high social standing. Above all, the prestige attending ruling positions adds an unbought grace to any act of kindness performed by rulers in general and hence by tyrants in particularly. It is by means of this assertion that Simonides surreptitiously suggests his cure for Hiero's illness, a cure discovered, just as the illness itself was, by reflecting on Hiero's comparison of "honor" and "sex." Hiero had granted as a matter of course that in order to receive favors, to be loved in return, one must first love: the misery of the tyrant consists in the very fact that he loves and is not loved in turn. [58] Simonides tacitly applies what Hiero had granted as regards sexual love to love in general: he who wants to be loved must love first; he who wants to be loved by his subjects in order to be genuinely honored by them must love them first; to gain favors he must first show favors. He does not state this lesson in so many words, but he transmits it implicitly by comparing the effects of a tyrant's acts of kindness with the effects of a private man's acts of kindness. He thus shifts the emphasis almost insensibly from the pleasant feelings primarily desired to the noble or praiseworthy actions which directly or indirectly bring about those pleasant feelings. He tacitly advises the tyrant to think not of his own pleasures but of the pleasures of others; not of his being served and receiving gifts, but of his doing services and making gifts. [59] That is to say, he tacitly gives the tyrant exactly the same advice which Socrates explicitly gives his companions, nay, which Virtue herself explicitly gives to Heracles. [60]

Simonides' virtuous advice does not spoil the effect of his previous indifference to moral principles because the virtuous character of his advice is sufficiently qualified by the context in which it is given. Socrates and Virtue shout their advice from the housetops to men who are of normal decency, and even potential paragons of virtue. Simonides, on the other hand, suggests substantially the same advice in the most subdued language to a tyrant who has just confessed having committed an untold number of crimes. It is true, Simonides' language becomes considerably less restrained toward the end of the conversation. But it is also true that throughout the conversation he presents the pleasant effects of a tyrant's kind actions as wholly independent of the manner in which the tyrant had come to power and of any of his previous misdeeds. Simonides' alleged or real freedom from scruple is preserved in, and operates in, his very recommendation of virtue. [61]

Hiero answers "straightway," "at once." This is the only occasion on which either of the two interlocutors says something "straightway." [62] It is Simonides' reaction to Hiero's statement that the tyrant can hardly do better than to hang himself, which induces the tyrant to answer "at once," i.e., to proceed without that slowness, or circumspection, which characterizes all other utterances of the two men. Dropping his habitual reserve, Hiero gives a sincere, not exaggerated account of the difficulties confronting the tyrant. He no longer denies that tyrants have greater power than private men to do things by means of which men gain affection; he merely denies that they are for this reason more likely to be loved than private men, because they are also compelled to do very many things by which men incur hatred. Thus, e.g., they have to exact money and to punish the unjust; and, above all, they are in need of mercenaries. [63] Simonides does not say that one should not take care of all these matters. [64] But, he believes, there are ways of taking care of things which lead to hatred and other ways which lead to gratification: a ruler should himself do the gratifying things (such as the awarding of prizes) while entrusting to others the hateful things (such as the inflicting of punishment). The implication of this advice as well as of all other advice given to Hiero by Simonides is, of course, that Hiero needs such advice, or that he is actually doing the opposite of what Simonides is advising him to do, i.e., that he is at present a most imperfect ruler. Imitating in his speech by anticipation the hoped-for behavior of his pupil Hiero, or rather giving him by his own action an example of the behavior proper to a tyrant, Simonides soon drops all explicit mention of the hateful things inseparable from tyranny, if not from government as such, while he praises the enormous usefulness of offering prizes: the hateful aspects of tyranny are not indeed annihilated, but banished from sight. [65] Simonides' praise of beneficent tyranny thus serves the purpose not merely of comforting Hiero (who is certainly much less in need of comfort than his utterances might induce the unwary reader to believe), but above all of teaching him in what light the tyrant should appear to his subjects: far from being a naive expression of a naive belief in virtuous tyrants, it is rather a prudently presented lesson in political prudence. [66] Simonides goes so far as to avoid in this context the very term "tyrant." [67] On the other hand, he now uses the terms "noble" as well as "good" and "useful" much more frequently than ever before, while speaking considerably less of the "pleasant." With a view to the difficulty of appealing directly from the pleasant to the noble, however, he stresses for the time being the "good" (with its "utilitarian" implications) considerably more than the "noble" or "fair." [68] Furthermore, he shows that striving for honor is perfectly compatible with being the subject of a tyrant, thus blotting out completely the odious implications of his previous statement about honor. He shows, too, that honoring subjects by means of prizes is an excellent bargain. [69] And what is most important, he strongly (but by implication) advises against disarming the citizens when he suggests that prizes be offered them for certain achievements of a military nature. [70]

Only after all these steps have been taken does there appear some agreement between Hiero and Simonides on the subject of tyranny. Only now is Hiero prepared not only to listen to Simonides' advice but to address to him a question, his only question, concerning the proper conduct of tyrannical government. The formulation of the question shows that he has learned something: he does not speak any longer of "tyrant," but of "ruler." The purport of the question is established by these facts: First, that Simonides had not said anything about the mercenaries whom Hiero had described in his preceding statement as an oppressive burden on the citizens; [71] and second, that Simonides' speech might seem to imply a suggestion that the mercenaries be replaced by citizens. Accordingly, Hiero's question consists of two parts. First, he asks Simonides to advise him how he could avoid incurring hatred on account of his employing mercenaries. Then he asks him whether he means that a ruler who has gained affection is no longer in need of a bodyguard. [72] Simonides answers emphatically that a bodyguard is indispensable: [73] the improvement of tyrannical government should not go to the extreme of undermining the very pillar of tyrannical rule. Thus Simonides' answer to Hiero's only question is tantamount to strong counsel against the abdication which he had tentatively suggested earlier. Besides, Hiero's question as to whether a bodyguard might not be dispensed with might have been prompted by his desire to save the enormous expenses involved. With a view to this possibility, Simonides' statement implies the answer that such expenses are indeed inevitable, but that the proper use of the mercenaries will dispose the subjects to pay the cost of them most cheerfully. [74] Yet, Simonides says, adding a word of advice for which he had not been asked, while the ample use of prizes and the proper use of the mercenaries will help greatly in the solution of the tyrant's financial problems, a tyrant ought not to hesitate to spend his own money for the common good. [75] Nay, a tyrant's interests are better served if he spends money for public affairs rather than for his own affairs. In this context Simonides gives the more specific advice -- the giving of which may have been the only purpose of Simonides' starting a conversation with Hiero -- that a tyrant should not compete with private men in chariot races and the like, but rather should take care that the greatest number of competitors should come from his city. [76] He should compete with other leaders of cities for victory in the noblest and grandest contest -- viz., in making his city as happy as possible. By winning that contest, Simonides promises him, he will gain the love of all his subjects, the regard of many cities, the admiration of all men, and many other good things; by surpassing his friends in acts of kindness he will be possessed of the noblest and most blessed possession among men: he will not be envied while being happy. [77] With this outlook the dialogue ends. Any answer of the tyrant to the poet's almost boundless promise would have been an anticlimax, and, what would have been worse, it would have prevented the reader from reasonably enjoying the polite silence in which a Greek tyrant, old in crime and martial glory, could listen to a siren-song of virtue. [78]

Q.: What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?

THALES. An aged tyrant.


C. THE USE OF CHARACTERISTIC TERMS

One may say that "the gist of Xenophon 's counsel to despots is that a despot should endeavour to rule like a good king." [1] It is therefore all the more striking that he avoids consistently the very term "king." By avoiding the term "king" in a work destined to teach the art of a tyrant, he complies with the rule of tact which requires that one should not embarrass people by mentioning things from the lack of which they can be presumed to suffer: a tyrant must be presumed to suffer from the lack of a valid title to his position. Xenophon's procedure may have been the model for the apparently opposite but fundamentally identical device of Machiavelli, who in his Prince avoids the term "tiranno": individuals who are called "tiranni" in the Discourses and elsewhere are called "principi" in the Prince. [2] We may also note the absence of the terms demos and politeia [3] from the Hiero.

As for Simonides in particular, he never uses the term "law." He mentions justice only once, making it clear that he is speaking of that justice only which is required of subjects rather than rulers: justice in business dealings. [4] He never speaks of truth or of falsehood or of deceiving. While laughing is never mentioned by Simonides or by Hiero, Simonides speaks once of Image . This is not insignificant because in the only remark of that kind which occurs in the Hiero, Xenophon notes that Simonides made a certain statement -- it concerns Hiero's love affairs -- "laughingly"; Hiero is always serious. [5] Simonides, who never mentions courage (Image), [6] once mentions moderation (Image) which is never mentioned by Hiero. On the other hand, Hiero uses the terms Image and Image ; which are never used by Simonides. [7]

Some consideration should also be given the distribution of characteristic terms between the two main parts of the dialogue, namely, the indictment of tyranny on the one hand, the suggestions concerning the improvement of tyrannical rule on the other.

Since Strauss repeats the phrase "indictment of tyranny" forty-one times in his essay, the reader might be lead to think Xenophon's work actually indicts tyranny. But it's a flaccid "indictment of tyranny" indeed that considers only the tyrant's pleasure and the tyrant's pain, while ignoring the suffering of the tyrannized populace. This critique affirms Plato's definition of the tyrant as "one who rules without law, looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects, and uses extreme and cruel tactics against his own people as well as others". Tyranny is a poor form of governance precisely because the tyrant places his own quota of pleasure and pain at the apex of his concerns, relegating the needs of his subjects to irrelevance. When Simonides "laughingly" refutes Hiero's complaint that being a tyrant is often unpleasant, he affirms the theory that tyranny is to be judged by what it produces for the tyrant, and merely disputes Hiero's sincerity -- arguing that he enjoys occupying his seat at the pinnacle of misrule more than he admits. In the end, of course, the tyrant's "indictment" of his own rule counts for nothing, and indeed is merely a weak apology to his victims, offering them a sop of consolation in the thought that ultimately they are better off than their overlord because they don't have to endure the stress. Contrary to Strauss's assertion that the tyrant is "the greatest possible authority on the subject," he is the least reliable authority. Is the slaveholder the greatest authority on slavery? No. It is the slave who hauls the burdens, bears the lash, and dies without knowing what it is to be self-ruled. Nor can the tyrant's self-indictment matter much to the People, who in recent ages, after long silence, cast their final votes at the guillotine and the gibbet. An indictment, by definition, comes from someone other than the wrongdoer, and the People's tribunal will grant little time to consideration of the tyrant's plea that his position was a curse he bore generously, rather than an indulgence he stole from others. The People are concerned about their individual lives and their collective social welfare, not the pathetic whining of the privileged.

-- by Tara Carreon


Terms which are avoided in the second part are: law, free (freedom), nature, courage, misery. On the other hand, moderation is mentioned only in the second part. "Tyrant" (and derivatives) occurs relatively much more frequently in the first part (83 times) than in the second part (7 times); on the other hand, "ruling" (and derivatives) occurs much more frequently in the much shorter second part (12 times) than in the much more extensive first part (4 times): Simonides wants to induce Hiero to think of his position in terms of "ruling" rather than in terms of "tyranny"; for it is not good for any man to think of his activity in odious terms. How well Simonides succeeds is shown by the fact that in his last remark [8] Hiero speaks of "ruler" and no longer of "tyrant." Terms designating pleasure and pain occur relatively much more frequently in the first part (93 times) than in the second part (6 times). On the other hand, "noble" ("fair") and "base" ("ugly") occur relatively much more frequently in the second part (15 times) than in the first part (9 times). The reason is obvious: Simonides wants to educate Hiero to take his bearings by the fair rather than by the pleasant. Image (and derivates) occurs relatively much more frequently in the second part (9 times) than in the first part (4 times). Image (and derivatives) occurs relatively less frequently in the second part (9 times) than in the first part (16 times).



IV. The Teaching Concerning Tyranny

Since tyranny is essentially a faulty political order, the teaching concerning tyranny necessarily consists of two parts. The first part has to make manifest the specific shortcomings of tyranny ("pathology"), and the second part has to show how these shortcomings can be mitigated ("therapeutics"). The bipartition of the Hiero reflects the bipartition of the "tyrannical" teaching itself. Now, Xenophon chose to present that teaching in the form of a dialogue, and he had therefore to choose a particular conversational setting. However sound, and even compelling, his reasons may have been, they certainly lead to the result that he has not given us his "tyrannical" teaching in its pure, scientific form, in the form of a treatise. The reader has to add to and to subtract from Hiero's and Simonides' speeches in order to lay hold of Xenophon's teaching. That addition and subtraction is not left to the reader's arbitrary decision. It is guided by the author's indications, some of which have been discussed in the preceding chapters. Nevertheless, a certain ambiguity remains, an ambiguity ultimately due not to the unsolved riddles implied in many individual passages of the Hiero but to the fact that a perfectly lucid and unambiguous connection between content and form, between a general teaching and a contingent event (e.g., a conversation between two individuals) is impossible.

Considering the primarily practical character of the "tyrannical" teaching as a political teaching, it is necessary that one interlocutor, the pupil, should be a tyrant. It is equally necessary that he should be an actual tyrant, not a potential tyrant. If the pupil were only a potential tyrant, the teacher would have to show him how to become a tyrant, and in so doing he would have to teach him injustice, whereas in the case of an actual tyrant the teacher has the much less odious task of showing him a way toward lesser injustice. Seeing that a tyrant (Periander of Corinth) was said to have instituted most of the common devices for preserving tyranny, [1] one might think that the natural teacher of the tyrannical art would be a great tyrant; but preservation of tyranny and correction of tyranny are two different things. Xenophon evidently felt that only a wise man could teach what he considered the tyrannical art, i.e., the art of ruling well as a tyrant, and that a tyrant would not be wise. This leads to the consequence that the wise man who teaches the tyrannical art cannot have learned that art from a tyrant as Socrates, who teaches the economic art, has learned it from an economist. In other words, the wise teacher of the tyrannical art has to teach it by himself, without any assistance, or he has to discover it by himself. [2] Now, the wise man might transmit to his pupil the whole "tyrannical" teaching, i.e., both the indictment of tyranny and the correction of tyranny; but Xenophon apparently thought that a tyrant's indictment of tyranny would be more impressive for the average reader. [3] Finally, the tyrant might start the conversation by complaining to a wise man about a tyrant's sad lot, in order to elicit his advice. This, however, would presuppose that the tyrant would have a wise friend whom he trusts, and that he would consider himself in need of advice. [4] To sum up, the more one considers alternatives to the conversational setting chosen by Xenophon, the more one becomes convinced that his choice was sound.

Yet this choice, however sound and even necessary, leads to the result that Xenophon's indictment of tyranny is presented by a man who is not wise and who has a selfish interest in disparaging tyranny, whereas his praise of tyranny is presented by a wise man who argues in favor of tyranny without an apparent selfish interest. Besides, since the indictment of tyranny precedes the praise of tyranny, the indictment is presented on the basis of insufficient evidence -- for Hiero does not take into account the facts or possibilities set forth by Simonides in the latter part of the Hiero -- whereas the praise of tyranny seems to be voiced en pleine connaissance de cause. That is to say, Xenophon could not help being led to giving a greater weight, at least apparently, to the praise of tyranny than to the indictment of tyranny. The question arises whether this is merely the inevitable result of considerations such as those sketched before, or whether it is directly intended.

One might think for a moment that the ambiguity under consideration was caused merely by Xenophon's decision to treat at all in a dialogue the question of the improvement of tyrannical rule: every ambiguity would have been avoided if he had limited himself to indicting tyranny. A comparison of his conversational treatment of tyranny with Plato's, however, shows that this suggestion does not go to the root of the matter. Plato refrained from teaching the tyrannical art and he entrusted his indictment of tyranny to Socrates. The price which he had to pay for this choice was that he had to entrust his praise of tyranny to men who were not wise (Polos, Callicles, and Thrasymachus) and who therefore were openly praising the very injustice of tyranny. To avoid the latter inconvenience, Xenophon had to pay the price of burdening a wise man with the task of praising tyranny. An effective conversational treatment of tyranny which is free from inconveniences is impossible. For there are only two possibilities apart from those chosen by Xenophon and Plato: the praise of tyranny by the wise might be succeeded by the indictment of tyranny by the unwise, and the indictment of tyranny by the wise might be succeeded by the praise of tyranny by the unwise; these alternatives are ruled out by the consideration that the wise man ought to have the last word.

It is more appropriate to say that the bearing of Xenophon's praise of tyranny is sufficiently limited, not only by the conversational setting, but above all by the fact that his wise man who praises tyranny makes sufficiently clear the essential shortcomings of tyranny. He describes tyranny at its best, but he lets it be understood that tyranny even at its best suffers from serious defects. This implied criticism of tyranny is much more convincing than Hiero's passionate indictment which serves a selfish purpose and which would be literally true only of the very worst kind of tyranny. To see the broad outline of Simonides' criticism of tyranny at its best, one has only to consider the result of his suggested correction of tyranny in the light of Xenophon's, or Socrates', definition of tyranny. Tyranny is defined in contradistinction to kingship: kingship is such rule as is exercised over willing subjects and is in accordance with the laws of the cities; tyranny is such rule as is exercised over unwilling subjects and accords, not with laws, but with the will of the ruler. [5] This definition covers the common form of tyranny, but not tyranny at its best. Tyranny at its best, tyranny as corrected according to Simonides' suggestions, is no longer rule over unwilling subjects. It is most certainly rule over willing subjects. [6] But it remains rule "not according to laws," i.e., it is absolute government. Simonides, who extols tyranny at its best, refrains from using the very term "law." [7] Tyranny is essentially rule without laws, or, more precisely, monarchic rule without laws.

Before considering the shortcomings of tyranny thus understood, we may dwell for a moment on its positive qualities. As regards the tyrant himself, Simonides asserts without hesitation that he may be perfectly happy. Furthermore, he leaves no doubt that the tyrant may be virtuous, and in fact of outstanding virtue. The correction of tyranny consists in nothing else than the transformation of the unjust or vicious tyrant who is more or less unhappy into a virtuous tyrant who is happy. [8] As for the tyrant's subjects, or his city, Simonides makes it clear that it may be very happy. The tyrant and his subjects may be united by the bonds of mutual kindness. The subjects of the virtuous tyrant are treated, not like little children, but like comrades or companions. [9] They are not deprived by him of honors. [10] They are not disarmed; their military spirit is encouraged. [11] Nor are the mercenaries, without whom tyranny is impossible, undesirable from the point of view of the city: they enable the city to wage war vigorously. [12] When Simonides recommends that the tyrant should make a most ample use of prizes and that he should promote agriculture and commerce, if agriculture to a higher degree than commerce, he simply seems to approve of policies which Xenophon considered to befit a well-ordered commonwealth. He thus creates the impression that according to Xenophon tyrannical government can live up to the highest political standards. [13]

Simonides' praise of beneficent tyranny, which at first sight seems to be boundless and rhetorically vague, proves on closer examination to be most carefully worded and to remain within very precise limits. Just as Simonides avoids in it the term "law," he avoids in it the term "freedom." The practical consequence of the absence of laws, he gives us to understand, is the absence of freedom: no laws, no liberty. All specific suggestions made by Simonides flow from this implied axiom, or reveal their political meaning in its light. For instance, when recommending to the tyrant that he consider the citizens as companions or comrades, he does not mean that the tyrant should treat the citizens as his equals, or even as freemen. For slaves may be companions as well as freemen. Furthermore, Simonides advises the tyrant that he consider the citizens as companions, and his friends as his own children: [14] if his very friends are then in every respect his subordinates, the citizens will be his subordinates in a still more far-reaching sense. The advice just referred to shows in addition that Simonides does not go so far in his praise of beneficent tyranny as to call it "paternal" rule. [15] It is true, the subjects of the beneficent tyrant are not disarmed; but in time of peace at least they do not protect themselves against the slaves and evildoers as the citizens of free commonwealths do; they are protected by the tyrant's bodyguard, [16] They are literally at the mercy of the tyrant and his mercenaries, and they can only wish or pray that the tyrant will become, or remain, beneficent. The true character of tyranny even at its best is clearly indicated by Simonides' "Machiavellian" suggestion that the tyrant should do the gratifying things (such as the awarding of prizes) himself, while entrusting to others the punitive actions. [17] It is hardly necessary to say that the tyrant's refraining from openly taking responsibility for punitive action does not bespeak a particular mildness of this rule: Non-tyrannical rulers take that responsibility without any concealment [18] because their authority, deriving from law, is secure. Similarly, the extraordinarily ample use of prizes, especially for the promotion of agriculture, seems to serve the "tyrannical" purpose of keeping the subjects busy with their private concerns rather than with public affairs. [19] At the same time it compensates for the lack of the natural incentives to increase one's wealth, a lack due to the precarious character of property rights under a tyrant. The best tyrant would consider his fatherland his estate. This may be preferable to his impoverishing his fatherland in order to increase his private estate; yet it certainly implies that the best tyrant would consider his fatherland his private property which he would naturally administer according to his own discretion. Thus no subject of a tyrant could have any property rights against the tyrant. The subjects would pay as much as he deems necessary in the form of gifts or voluntary contributions. [20] Nor can the tyrant be said to honor the citizens because he awards prizes or distinctions to some of them; he may be able and willing to enrich his subjects: he cannot accord to them the "equality of honor" which is irreconcilable with tyrannical rule and from the lack of which they may be presumed always to suffer. [21]

These shortcomings of tyranny at its best are not, however, necessarily decisive. How Simonides, and Xenophon, judged of the value of tyranny at its best depends on what they thought of the importance of freedom. As for Simonides, he seems to esteem nothing as highly as honor or praise; and of praise he says that it will be the more pleasant the freer are those who bestow it. [22] This leads to the consequence that the demands of honor or praise cannot be satisfied by tyranny however perfect. The tyrant will not enjoy honor of the highest kind because his subjects lack freedom, and on the other hand the tyrant's subjects will not enjoy full honor for the reason mentioned before. As for Xenophon himself, we have to start from the facts that freedom was considered the aim of democracy, as particularly distinguished from aristocracy, the aim of which was said to be virtue; [23] and that Xenophon was not a democrat. Xenophon's view is reflected in Hiero's implicit assertion that the wise are not concerned with freedom. [24] To establish Xenophon's attitude toward tyranny at its best as characterized by Simonides, we have to consider the relation of tyranny at its best, not to freedom, but to virtue. Only if virtue were impossible without freedom, would the demand for freedom be absolutely justified from Xenophon's point of view.

America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies. Yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators. They are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

-- "There is No Justice Without Freedom," George Bush's second inaugural address, 1/21/05


The term "virtue" occurs five times in the Hiero. In only two out of the five cases is it applied to human beings. [25] Only once is it applied to the tyrant. Never is it applied to the tyrant's subjects. Simonides advises the tyrant to be proud of "the happiness of his city" rather than of "the virtue of his chariot horses": he does not mention the virtue of the city as a possible goal of tyrannical rule. It is safe to say that a city ruled by a tyrant is not supposed by him to "practice gentlemanliness as a matter of public concern." [26] But, as has been proved by Socrates' life, there are virtuous men in cities which do not "practice gentlemanliness as a matter of public concern." It is therefore an open question whether and how far virtue is possible under a tyrant. The beneficent tyrant would award prizes for "prowess in war" and for "justice in contractual relations": [27] he would not be concerned with fostering prowess simply and justice simply. This confirms Hiero's assertion that the brave and the just are not desirable as subjects of a tyrant. [28] Only a qualified, or reduced, form of courage and justice befits the subjects of a tyrant. For prowess simply is closely akin to freedom, or love of freedom, [29] and justice simply is obedience to laws. The justice befitting the subjects of a tyrant is the least political form of justice, or that form of justice which is most remote from public-spiritedness: the justice to be observed in contractual, private relations. [30]

But how can a virtuous man -- and Simonides' beneficent tyrant would seem to be a virtuous man -- rest satisfied with the necessity of preventing his subjects from reaching the summit of virtue? Let us then reconsider the facts mentioned in the preceding paragraph. As regards the fact that Simonides ascribes to the tyrant's subjects a qualified form of prowess only, and fails to ascribe courage to them, we have to remember that in Xenophon's two lists of the virtues of Socrates, courage does not occur. [31] As regards Simonides' failure to ascribe to the tyrant's subjects justice simply, we have to remember that justice can be understood as a part of moderation and that, according to an explicit statement of Simonides, the tyrant's subjects may very well possess moderation. [32] As regards Simonides' failure to ascribe to the tyrant's subjects virtue as such, we have to remember that virtue is not necessarily a generic term, but may indicate a specific virtue distinguished from justice in particular. [33] However this may be, the question of what Simonides thought about the possibility of virtue under tyrannical rule seems to be definitely settled by an explicit statement of his according to which "gentlemen" may live, and live happily, under a beneficent tyrant. [34] In order not to misinterpret Simonides' ascribing to the tyrant's subjects only qualified forms of courage and justice, we have to compare it with Xenophon's failure, in his Lacedamoniorum respublica, to ascribe justice in any sense to the Spartans themselves. The utmost one is entitled to say is that the virtue possible under a tyrant will have a specific color, a color different from that of republican virtue. It may tentatively be suggested that the place occupied within republican virtue by courage is occupied within the virtue befitting the subjects of the excellent tyrant by moderation which is produced by fear. [35] But one has no right to assume that the virtue befitting the subjects of a good tyrant is meant to be inferior in dignity to republican virtue. How little Xenophon believed that virtue is impossible without freedom is shown most strikingly by his admiration for the younger Cyrus whom he does not hesitate to describe as a "slave." [36]

What is virtue? Beneficence towards the fellow-creature. Can I call virtue things other than those which do me good? I am needy, you are generous. I am in danger, you help me. I am deceived, you tell me the truth. I am neglected, you console me. I am ignorant, you teach me. Without difficulty I shall call you virtuous. But what will become of the cardinal and divine virtues? Some of them will remain in the schools.

What does it matter to me that you are temperate? you observe a precept of health; you will have better health, and I am happy to hear it. You have faith and hope, and I am happy still; they will procure you eternal life. Your divine virtues are celestial gifts; your cardinal virtues are excellent qualities which serve to guide you: but they are not virtues as regards your fellow-creature. The prudent man does good to himself, the virtuous man does good to mankind. St. Paul was right to tell you that charity prevails over faith and hope.

But shall only those that are useful to one's fellow-creature be admitted as virtues? How can I admit any others? We live in society; really, therefore, the only things that are good for us are those that are good for society. A recluse will be sober, pious; he will be clad in hair-cloth; he will be a saint: but I shall not call him virtuous until he has done some act of virtue by which other men have profited. So long as he is alone, he is doing neither good nor evil; for us he is nothing. If St. Bruno brought peace to families, if he succoured want, he was virtuous; if he fasted, prayed in solitude, he was a saint. Virtue among men is an interchange of kindness; he who has no part in this interchange should not be counted. If this saint were in the world, he would doubtless do good; but so long as he is not in the world, the world will be right in refusing him the title of virtuous; he will be good for himself and not for us.

But, you say to me, if a recluse is a glutton, a drunkard, given to secret debauches with himself, he is vicious; he is virtuous, therefore, if he has the opposite qualities. That is what I cannot agree: he is a very disagreeable fellow if he has the faults you mention; but he is not vicious, wicked, punishable as regards society to whom these infamies do no harm. It is to be presumed that were he to return to society he would do harm there, that he would be very vicious; and it is even more probable that he would be a wicked man, than it is sure that the other temperate and chaste recluse would be a virtuous man, for in society faults increase, and good qualities diminish.

A much stronger objection is made; Nero, Pope Alexander VI., and other monsters of this species, have bestowed kindnesses; I answer hardily that on that day they were virtuous.

A few theologians say that the divine emperor Antonine was not virtuous; that he was a stubborn Stoic who, not content with commanding men, wished further to be esteemed by them; that he attributed to himself the good he did to the human race; that all his life he was just, laborious, beneficent through vanity, and that he only deceived men through his virtues. "My God!" I exclaim. "Give us often rogues like him!"

-- Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary


If gentlemen can live happily under a beneficent tyrant, tyranny as corrected according to Simonides' suggestions might seem to live up to Xenophon's highest political standard. To see at once that this is the case, one merely has to measure Simonides' excellent tyrant by the criterion set forth in Xenophon's, or Socrates', definition of the good ruler. The virtue of the good ruler consists in making happy those he rules. The aim of the good ruler can be achieved by means of laws -- this was done, according to Xenophon, in the most remarkable manner in Lycrugus' city -- or by rule without laws, i.e., by tyranny: the beneficent tyrant as described by Simonides makes his city happy. [37] It is certainly most significant that, as regards the happiness achieved by means of laws, Xenophon can adduce an actual example (Sparta), whereas as regards the happiness achieved by tyranny, he offers no other evidence than the promise of a poet. In other words, it is of very great importance that, according to Xenophon, the aim of the good ruler is much more likely to be achieved by means of laws than by means of absolute rule. This does not do away, however, with the admission that, as a matter of principle, rule of laws is not essential for good government.

Xenophon does not make this admission in so many words. He presents Simonides as describing tyranny at its best and as declaring that the tyrant can make his city happy. Considering the situation in which Simonides expounds his views of tyranny, the objection is justified that what he says serves the purpose of comforting a somewhat disturbed tyrant or at any rate is said ad hominem and ought not to be taken as expressing directly Xenophon's own views. We have therefore to consider whether the thesis that tyranny can live up to the highest political standard is defensible on the basis of Xenophon's, or Socrates', political philosophy.

To begin with, it must appear most paradoxical that Xenophon should have had any liking whatsoever for tyranny however good. Tyranny at its best is still rule without laws and, according to Socrates' definition, justice is identical with legality or obedience to laws. [38] Thus tyranny in any form seems to be irreconcilable with the requirement of justice. On the other hand, tyranny would become morally possible if the identification of "just" and "legal" were not absolutely correct, or if "everything according to law were (only) somehow (Image) just." [39] The laws which determine what is legal are the rules of conduct upon which the citizens have agreed. [40] "The citizens" may be "the multitude" or "the few"; "the few" may be the rich or the virtuous. That is to say, the laws, and hence what is legal, depend on the political order of the community for which they are given. Could Xenophon or his Socrates have believed that the difference between laws depending on a faulty political order and laws depending on a good political order is wholly irrelevant as far as justice is concerned? Could they have believed that rules prescribed by a monarch, i.e., not by "the citizens," cannot be laws? [41] Besides, is it wholly irrelevant for justice whether what the laws prescribe is reasonable or unreasonable, good or bad? Finally, is it wholly irrelevant for justice whether the laws enacted by the legislator (the many, the few, the monarch) are forcibly imposed on, or voluntarily agreed to by, the other members of the community? Questions such as these are not raised by Xenophon, or his Socrates, but only by Xenophon's young and rash Alcibiades who, however, was a pupil of Socrates at the time when he raised those questions; only Alcibiades, and not Socrates, is presented by Xenophon as raising the Socratic question, "What is law?" [42] Socrates' doubt of the unqualified identification of justice and legality is intimated, however, by the facts that, on the one hand, he considers an enactment of the "legislator" Critias and his fellows a "law" which, he says, he is prepared to obey; and that, on the other hand, he actually disobeys it because it is "against the laws." [43] But apart from the consideration that the identification of "just" and "legal" would make impossible the evidently necessary distinction between just and unjust laws, there are elements of justice which necessarily transcend the dimension of the legal. Ingratitude, e.g., while not being illegal, is unjust. [44] The justice in business dealings -- Aristotle's commutative justice proper -- which is possible under a tyrant, is for this very reason not essentially dependent on law. Xenophon is thus led to suggest another definition, a more adequate definition, of justice. According to it, the just man is a man who does not hurt anyone, but helps everyone who has dealings with him. To be just, in other words, simply means to be beneficent. [45] If justice is then essentially translegal, rule without laws may very well be just: beneficent absolute rule is just. Absolute rule of a man who knows how to rule, who is a born ruler, is actually superior to the rule of laws, in so far as the good ruler is "a seeing law," [46] and laws do not "see," or legal justice is blind. Whereas a good ruler is necessarily beneficent, laws are not necessarily beneficent. To say nothing of laws which are actually bad and harmful, even good laws suffer from the fact that they cannot "see." Now, tyranny is absolute monarchic rule. Hence the rule of an excellent tyrant is superior to, or more just than, rule of laws. Xenophon's realization of the problem of law, his understanding of the essence of law, his having raised and answered the Socratic question, "What is law?" enables and compels him to grant that tyranny may live up to the highest political standard. His giving, in the Hiero, a greater weight to the praise of tyranny than to the indictment of tyranny is then more than an accidental consequence of his decision to present the teaching concerning tyranny in the form of a dialogue.

Yet Simonides goes much beyond praising beneficent tyranny: he praises in the strongest terms the hoped-for beneficent rule of a tyrant who previously had committed a considerable number of crimes. By implication he admits that the praiseworthy character of tyranny at its best is not impaired by the unjust manner in which the tyrant originally acquired his power or in which he ruled prior to his conversion. Xenophon would have been prevented from fully agreeing with his Simonides regarding tyranny if he had been a legitimist or constitutionalist. Xenophon's Socrates makes it clear that there is only one sufficient title to rule: only knowledge, and not force and fraud or election, or, we may add, inheritance makes a man a king or ruler. If this is the case, "constitutional" rule, rule derived from elections in particular, is not essentially more legitimate than tyrannical rule, rule derived from force or fraud. Tyrannical rule as well as "constitutional" rule will be legitimate to the extent to which the tyrant or the "constitutional" rulers will listen to the counsels of him who "speaks well" because he "thinks well." At any rate, the rule of a tyrant who, after having come to power by means of force and fraud, or after having committed any number of crimes, listens to the suggestions of reasonable men, is essentially more legitimate than the rule of elected magistrates who refuse to listen to such suggestions, i.e., than the rule of elected magistrates as such. Xenophon's Socrates is so little committed to the cause of "constitutionalism" that he can describe the sensible men who advise the tyrant as the tyrant's "allies." That is to say, he conceives of the relation of the wise to the tyrant in almost exactly the same way as does Simonides. [47]

While Xenophon seems to have believed that beneficent tyranny or the rule of a tyrant who listens to the counsels of the wise is, as a matter of principle, preferable to the rule of laws or to the rule of elected magistrates as such, he seems to have thought that tyranny at its best could hardly, if ever, be realized. This is shown most clearly by the absence of any reference to beneficent and happy tyrants who actually existed, not only from the Hiero, but from the Corpus Xenophonteum as a whole. It is true, in the Education of Cyrus he occasionally refers to a tyrant who was apparently happy; [48] he does not say, however, that he was beneficent or virtuous. Above all, the monarch in question was not a Greek: the chances of tyranny at its best seem to be particularly small among Greeks. [49] The reason why Xenophon was so skeptical regarding the prospects of tyranny at its best is indicated by a feature common to the two thematic treatments of tyranny at its best which occur in his works. In the Hiero as well as in the Memorabilia, the tyrant is presented as a ruler who needs guidance by another man in order to become a good ruler: even the best tyrant is, as such, an imperfect, an inefficient ruler. [50] Being a tyrant, being called a tyrant and not a king, means having been unable to transform tyranny into kingship, or to transform a title which is generally considered defective into a title which is generally considered valid. [51] The ensuing lack of unquestioned authority leads to the consequence that tyrannical government is essentially more oppressive and hence less stable than nontyrannical government. Thus no tyrant can dispense with a bodyguard which is more loyal to him than to the city and which enables him to maintain his power against the wishes of the city. [52] Reasons such as these explain why Xenophon, or his Socrates, preferred, for all practical purposes, at least as far as Greeks were concerned, the rules of laws to tyranny, and why they identified, for all practical purposes, the just with the legal.

The "tyrannical" teaching -- the teaching which expounds the view that a case can be made for beneficent tyranny, and even for a beneficent tyranny which was originally established by force or fraud -- has then a purely theoretical meaning. It is not more than a most forceful expression of the problem of law and legitimacy. When Socrates was charged with teaching his pupils to be "tyrannical," this doubtless was due to the popular misunderstanding of a theoretical thesis as a practical proposal. Yet the theoretical thesis by itself necessarily prevented its holders from being unqualifiedly loyal to Athenian democracy, e.g., for it prevented them from believing that democracy is simply the best political order. It prevented them from being "good citizens" (in the precise sense of the term) [53] under a democracy. Xenophon does not even attempt to defend Socrates against the charge that he led the young to look down with contempt on the political order established in Athens. [54] It goes without saying that the theoretical thesis in question might have become embarrassing for its holder in any city not ruled by a tyrant, i.e., in almost every city. Socrates' and Xenophon's acceptance of the "tyrannical" teaching would then explain why they became suspect to their fellow citizens, and, therefore, to a considerable extent, why Socrates was condemned to death and Xenophon was condemned to exile.

It is one thing to accept the theoretical thesis concerning tyranny; it is another thing to expound it publicly. Every written exposition is to a smaller or larger degree a public exposition. The Hiero does not expound the "tyrannical" teaching. But it enables, and even compels, its reader to disentangle that teaching from the writings in which Xenophon speaks in his own name or presents the views of Socrates. Only if read in the light of the question posed by the Hiero do the relevant passages of Xenophon's other writings reveal their full meaning. The Hiero reveals, however, if only indirectly, the conditions under which the "tyrannical" teaching may be expounded. If the city is essentially the community kept together and ruled by law, the "tyrannical" teaching cannot exist for the citizen as citizen. The ultimate reason why the very tyrant Hiero strongly indicts tyranny is precisely that he is at bottom a citizen. [55] Accordingly, Xenophon entrusted the only explicit praise of tyranny which he ever wrote to a "stranger," a man who does not have citizen responsibilities and who, in addition, voices the praise of tyranny not publicly but in a strictly private conversation with a tyrant, and for a purpose which supplies him with an almost perfect excuse. Socrates did not consider it good that the wise man should be simply a stranger; [56] Socrates was a citizen-philosopher. He could not, therefore, with propriety be presented as praising tyranny under any circumstances. There is no fundamental difference in this respect between Xenophon and Plato. Plato entrusted his discussion of the problematic character of the "rule of laws" to a stranger: Plato's Socrates is as silent about this grave, not to say awe-inspiring, subject as is Xenophon's Socrates. [57] Simonides fulfills in the Corpus Xenophonteum a function comparable to that fulfilled in the Corpus Platonicum by the stranger from Elea.
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Re: On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:07 am

PART 5 OF 6

V. The Two Ways of Life

The primary subject of the conversation described in the Hiero is not the improvement of tyrannical government, but the difference between tyrannical and private life with regard to human enjoyments and pains. The question concerning that difference is identical, in the context, with the question as to whether tyrannical life is more choiceworthy than private life or vice versa. Insofar as "tyrant" is eventually replaced by "ruler," and the life of the ruler is the political life in the strict sense, [1] the question discussed in the Hiero concerns the relative desirability of the life of the ruler, or of political life, on the one hand, and of private life on the other. But however the question discussed in the dialogue may be formulated, it is in any case only a special form of the fundamental Socratic question of how man ought to live, or of what way of life is the most choiceworthy. [2]

In the Hiero, the difference between the tyrannical and the private life is discussed in a conversation between a tyrant and a private man. This means that the same subject is presented in two different manners. It is presented most obviously by the explicit and thematic statements of the two characters. Yet none of the two characters can be presumed to have stated exactly what Xenophon thought about the subject. In addition, the two characters cannot be presumed to have stated exactly what they themselves thought about it: Hiero is afraid of Simonides, and Simonides is guided by a pedagogic intention. Xenophon presents his view more directly, although less obviously, by the action of the dialogue, by what the characters silently do and unintentionally or occasionally reveal, or by the actual contrast as conceived by him between the tyrant Hiero and the private man Simonides. Insofar as Hiero reveals himself as a citizen in the most radical sense and Simonides proves to be a stranger in the most radical sense, the dialogue presents the contrast between the citizen and the stranger. At any rate, Simonides is not a "private man" simply, [3] and he is not an ordinary representative of private life. However silent he may be about his own way of life, he reveals himself by his being or by deed as a wise man. If one considers the conversational setting, the dialogue reveals itself as an attempt to contrast the tyrannical life, or the life of the ruler, not simply with private life but with the life of the wise man. [4] Or, more specifically, it is an attempt to contrast an educated tyrant, a tyrant who admires, or wishes to admire, the wise, with a wise man who stoops to converse with tyrants. [5] Ultimately, the dialogue serves the purpose of contrasting the two ways of life: the political life and the life devoted to wisdom. [6]

One might object that according to Xenophon there is no contrast between the wise man and the ruler: the ruler in the strict sense is he who knows how to rule, who possesses the most noble kind of knowledge, who is able to teach what is best; and such knowledge is identical with wisdom. [7] Even if this objection were not exposed to any doubts, there would still remain the difference between the wise man or ruler who wishes to rule or does actually rule, and the wise man or ruler (e.g., Socrates and the poet Simonides) who does not wish to rule and does not engage in politics, but leads a life of privacy and leisure. [8]

The ambiguity that characterizes the Hiero is illustrated by nothing more strikingly than by the fact that the primary question discussed in the work does not receive a final and explicit answer. To discover the final answer that is implicitly given, we have to start from the explicit, if provisional, answers. In discussing both the explicit or provisional and the implicit or final answers, we have to distinguish between the answers of the two characters; for we have no right to assume that Hiero and Simonides are in agreement.

Hiero's explicit answer is to the effect that private life is absolutely preferable to tyrannical life. [9] But he cannot deny Simonides' contention that tyrants have greater power than private men to do things by means of which men gain love, and he spontaneously praises being loved more highly than anything else. It is true, he retorts that tyrants are also more likely to incur hatred than private men; but Simonides succeeds in silencing this objection by implicitly distinguishing between the good or prudent and the bad or foolish tyrant. In his last utterance, Hiero grants that a ruler or tyrant may gain the affection of his subjects. [10] If one accepts Hiero's premise that love, i.e., being loved, is the most choiceworthy thing, one is led by Simonides' argument to the conclusion that the life of a beneficent tyrant is preferable in the most important respect to private life. As the conclusion follows from Hiero's premise and is eventually not contested by him, we may regard it as his final answer.

Since Hiero is less wise, or competent, than Simonides, his answer is much less important than the poet's. Simonides asserts first that tyrannical life is superior to private life in every respect. He is soon compelled, or able, to admit that tyrannical life is not superior to private life in every respect. But he seems to maintain that tyrannical life is superior to private life in the most important respect: he praises nothing so highly as honor, and he asserts that tyrants are honored above other men. [11] With a view to his subsequent distinction between the good and the bad tyrant, we may state his final thesis as follows: the life of the beneficent tyrant is superior to private life in the most important respect. Simonides and Hiero seem to reach the same conclusion by starting from different premises.

On closer examination, it appears, however, that Simonides' praise of the tyrannical life is ambiguous. In order to lay hold of his view, we have to distinguish in the first place between what he explicitly says and what Hiero believes him to say. [12] Secondly, we have to distinguish between what Simonides says in the first part of the Hiero in which he hides his wisdom, and what he says in the second part to which he contributes so much more than to the first part, and in which he speaks no longer as a somewhat diffident pupil but with the confidence of a teacher. We have to attach particular weight to the fact that Simonides' most emphatic statement regarding the superiority of tyrannical life occurs in the first section in which he hides his wisdom to a higher degree than in any subsequent section. [13]

Simonides states to begin with that tyrants experience many more pleasures of all kinds and many fewer pains of all kinds than private men. He grants soon afterward that in a number of minor respects, if not in all minor respects, private life is preferable to tyrannical life. The question arises whether he thus simply retracts or merely qualifies the general statement made at the beginning: Does he believe that tyrannical life is superior to private life in the most important respect? He never answers this question explicitly. When comparing tyrannical and private life with regard to things more important than bodily pleasures, he uses much more reserved language than he did in his initial and general assertion. In particular when speaking about honor, he says, after having enumerated the various ways in which people honor tyrants: "for these are of course the kinds of things that subjects do for the tyrants and to anyone else whom they happen to honor at the moment." By this he seems to say that the most outstanding honor is not a preserve of tyrants. On the other hand, he says almost immediately thereafter that "you (sc. the tyrants) are honored above (all) other men." What he says in the first part of the dialogue might well appear to be ambiguous or inconclusive to the detached reader of the Hiero as distinguished from the rather disturbed interlocutor Hiero. [14] In the second part he nowhere explicitly says that tyrannical life is superior to private life in regard to the greatest pleasure. He does assert that the life of tyrants is superior to private life in regard to love. But he never says anywhere in the dialogue that love, or friendship, is the most pleasant thing. [15]

To arrive at a more exact formulation of the difficulty, we start again from the crucial fact that Simonides praises nothing as highly as honor. His contribution to the first part culminates in the assertion that the characteristic difference between the species "real man" () and the other kinds of living beings, ordinary human beings of course included, consists in the desire for honor which is characteristic of the former, and in the suggestion that the most outstanding honors are reserved for rulers, if not for tyrants in particular. It is true, he declares in the same context that no human pleasure seems to be superior to the pleasure deriving from honor, and he thus seems to grant that other human pleasures might equal it. [16] On the other hand, he nowhere explicitly excludes the possibility that pleasure is not the sole or ultimate criterion. We have already observed that in the second part of the dialogue the emphasis tacitly shifts from the pleasant to the good and the noble. [17] This change reaches its climax in Simonides' final statement (11.7-15). At its beginning he indicates clearly that the noblest and grandest contest among human beings, and hence the victory in it, is reserved for rulers: victory in that contest consists in rendering very happy the city of which one is the chief. He thus leads one to expect that no human being other than a ruler can reach the summit of happiness: can anything rival victory in the noblest and grandest contest? This question is answered in the concluding sentence, according to which Hiero, by becoming the benefactor of his city, would be possessed of the most noble and the most blessed possession to be met with among human beings: he would be happy without being envied. Simonides does not say that the most noble and most blessed possession accessible to human beings is victory in the most noble and most grand contest among them. He does not even say that one cannot become happy without being envied but by making the city which one rules most happy. In the circumstances he had the strongest reasons for praising the beneficent ruler as emphatically, as explicitly as possible. By refraining from explicitly identifying "making one's city most happy" with "the most noble and most blessed possession," he seems to suggest that there are possibilities of bliss outside of, or beyond, the political life. The very phrasing of the last sentence seems to suggest it. The farmers and artisans who do their work well, are content with their lot and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, are at least as likely to be happy without being envied as rich and powerful rulers however beneficent. [18] What is true of the common people is equally true of other types of men, and in particular of that type which seems to be most important in the conversational situation: those who come to display before the tyrant the wise or beautiful or good things which they possess, who share in the amenities of court life and are rewarded with royal munificence. [19] The highest goal which the greatest ruler could reach only after having made the most extraordinary exertions, seems to be within easy reach of every private man.

This interpretation is open to a very strong objection. We shall not insist on the facts that "being happy" in Simonides' final sentence ("while being happy, you will not be envied' ') might very well mean "being powerful and wealthy" [20] and that tyrants are superior to private men in regard to power and wealth as not even Hiero can deny. For Simonides might have understood by happiness continuous joy or contentment. [21] Suffice it to say that precisely on account of the essential ambiguity of "being happy" the purport of Simonides' final sentence depends decisively on its second part, viz., the expression "you will not be envied. " What this expression means for the decision of the crucial issue becomes clear if we remind ourselves of the following facts: that the purpose of the Hiero is to contrast the ruler, not simply with private men in general, but with the wise; that the representative of wisdom is Socrates; and that Socrates was exposed, and fell victim, to the envy of his fellow citizens. If the beneficent ruler can be "happy" without being envied, whereas even Socrates' "happiness" was accompanied by envy, [22] the political life, the life of the ruler or of the tyrant, would seem to be unambiguously superior to the life of the wise man. It would seem then that Simonides' praise of tyranny, in spite of his ironical overstatements and his pedagogic intention, is at bottom serious. True happiness -- this seems to be Xenophon's thought -- is possible only on the basis of excellence or superiority, and there are ultimately only two kinds of excellence -- the excellence of the ruler and that of the wise man. All superior men are exposed to envy on account of their excellence. But the ruler, as distinguished from the wise man, is able to do penance for his superiority by becoming the servant of all his subjects: the hardworking and beneficent ruler, and not the retiring wise man, can put envy at rest. [23]

This must be taken with a grain of salt. It goes without saying that the prospect by means of which Simonides attempts to educate Hiero is incapable of fulfillment. Xenophon knew too well that if there are any forms of superiority which do not expose their possessors to envy, political power, however beneficent, would not be one of them. Or, to put it somewhat differently, if it is true that he who wants to receive kindness must first show kindness, it is not certain that his kindness will not be requited with ingratitude. [24] The thought that a superior man who does not successfully hide his superiority would not be exposed to envy is clearly a delusion. It forms the fitting climax of the illusory image of the tyrant who is happy because he is virtuous. Its aptness consists precisely in this: that it makes intelligible the whole illusory image as the momentary illusion of a wise man, i.e., as something more than a noble lie invented for the benefit of an unwise pupil. Being wise, he is most happy and exposed to envy. His bliss would seem to be complete if he could escape envy. If it were true that only experience could fully reveal the character of tyrannical life -- it is this assumption on which the explicit argument of the Hiero is largely based -- the wise man could not be absolutely certain whether the beneficent tyrant would not be beyond the reach of envy. He could indulge the hope that by becoming a beneficent tyrant, i.e., by actually exercising that tyrannical or royal art which flows from wisdom (if it is not identical with wisdom), he would escape envy while retaining his superiority. Simonides' climactic assertion that by acting on his advice Hiero would become happy without being envied intimates the only reason why a wise man could be imagined for a moment to wish to be a ruler or to envy the man who rules well. It thus reveals the truth underlying Hiero's fear of the wise: that fear proves to be based on a misunderstanding of a momentary velleity of the wise. It reveals at the same time the constant preoccupation of Hiero himself: his misunderstanding is the natural outcome of the fact that he himself is greatly tormented by other people's envy of his happiness. It reveals finally the reason why Simonides could not possibly be envious of Hiero. For the irony of Simonides' last sentence consists, above all, in this: that, if per impossibile the perfect ruler would escape from envy, his very escape from envy would expose him to envy; by ceasing to be envied by the multitude, he would begin to be envied by the wise. He would be envied for not being envied. Simonides could become dangerous to Hiero only if Hiero followed his advice. Hiero's final silence is a fitting answer to all the implications of Simonides' final statement.

At any rate, the wise are not envious, and the fact that they are envied does not impair their happiness or bliss. [25] Even if they would grant that the life of the ruler is in a certain respect superior to the life of the wise man, they would wonder whether the price which has to be paid for that superiority is worthwhile. The ruler cannot escape envy but by leading a life of perpetual business, care and trouble. [26] The ruler whose specific function is "doing" or "well-doing" has to serve all his subjects. Socrates, on the other hand, whose specific function is "speaking" or discussing, does not engage in discussion except with those with whom he likes to converse. The wise man alone is free. [27]

To sum up, Simonides' final statement does not imply the view that political life is preferable to private life. This conclusion is confirmed by the carefully chosen expression which he uses for describing the character of happiness unmarred by envy. He calls it "the most noble and most blessed possession to be met with among human beings." He does not call it the greatest good. The most noble and most blessed possession for human beings is choiceworthy, but there are other things which are equally or more choiceworthy. It may even be doubted whether it is simply the most choiceworthy "possession." Euthydemus, answering a question of Socrates, says that freedom is a most noble and most magnificent possession for real men and for cities. The older Cyrus says in a speech addressed to the Persian nobility that the most noble and most "political" possession consists in deriving the greatest pleasure from praise. Xenophon himself says to Seuthes that for a real man and in particular a ruler, no possession is more noble or more splendid than virtue and justice and gentility. Antisthenes calls leisure the most delicate or luxurious possession. [28] Socrates, on the other hand, says that a good friend is the best, or the most all productive, possession and that no possession is more pleasant for a free human being than agriculture. [29] Xenophon's Simonides agrees with Xenophon's Socrates and in fact with Xenophon himself by failing to describe "happiness unmarred by envy" as the most pleasant possession for human beings or as the most noble possession for real men or simply as the best possession. [30] We need not discuss here how Xenophon conceived of the exact relation between "possession" and "good." It is safe to assume that he used "possession" mostly in its less strict sense according to which a possession is a good only conditionally, i.e., only if the possessor knows how to use it or to use it well. [31] If this is the case, even the possession which is simply best would not be identical with the greatest good. While people in general are apt to identify the best possession with the greatest good, Socrates makes a clear distinction between the two things. According to him, the greatest good is wisdom, whereas education is the greatest good for human beings, [32] and the best possession is a good friend. Education cannot be the greatest good simply, because gods do not need education. Education, i.e., the most excellent education, which is education to wisdom, is the greatest good for human beings, i.e., for human beings as such, for men in so far as they do not transcend humanity by approaching divinity: God alone is simply wise. [33] The wise man or the philosopher who partakes of the highest good will be blessed although he does not possess "the most noble and most blessed possession to be met with among human beings."

The Hiero is silent about the status of wisdom. Although most explicit about various kinds of pleasure, it is silent about the specific pleasures of the wise, such as, for example, friendly discussion. [34] It is silent about the way of life of the wise. This silence cannot be explained by the fact that the thematic subject of the dialogue is the comparison of the life of the ruler, not with the life of the wise man, but with private life in general. For the thematic subject of the parallel dialogue, the Oeconomicus, is the economist, or the management of the household, and yet its central chapter contains a most striking confrontation of the life of the economist (who is a ruler) with the Socratic way of life. The Hiero is reserved about the nature of wisdom because the purpose of the dialogue, or of Simonides, requires that "wisdom" be kept in its ordinary ambiguity. If we consider, however, how profoundly Socrates or Xenophon agree with Simonides regarding tyranny, we may be inclined to impute to Xenophon's Simonides the Socratic view that is nowhere contradicted by Xenophon, according to which wisdom is the highest good. Certainly, what Simonides says in his final statement in praise of the life of the ruler accords perfectly with the Socratic view.

In the Hiero, Xenophon indicates his view of wisdom by incidental remarks entrusted to Simonides and by the action of the dialogue. Simonides mentions two ways of "taking care" of things which lead to gratification: teaching the things that are best (or teaching what things are best), on the one hand; and praising and honoring him who executes what is best in the finest manner, on the other. When applying this general remark to rulers in particular, he does not mention teaching at all; he silently limits the ruler's ways of taking care which leads to gratification, to praising and honoring, or more specifically to the offering and distributing of prizes. The specific function of the ruler appears to be strictly subordinate to that of the wise man. In the best case imaginable, the ruler would be the one who, by means of honoring, to say nothing of punishing, would put into practice the teaching or the prescriptions of the wise man. [35] The wise man is the ruler of rulers. Similarly, the ruler is supposed merely to encourage the discovery of, or the looking out for, "something good"; he is not supposed to engage in these intellectual activities himself. [36] It deserves mention that the passage in which Simonides adumbrates his view of the relation of wisdom and rule is one of the two chapters in which the very term tyrant is avoided: Simonides describes by the remarks in question not merely the tyrant, but the ruler in general. [37]

The superiority of the wise man to the ruler is brought to light by the action of the dialogue. The tyrannical life, or the life of the ruler, is chosen by Hiero not only prior to the conversation, but again within the conversation itself: he rejects Simonides' veiled suggestion to return to private life. And Hiero proves to be less wise than Simonides, who rejects the political life in favor of the wise man's private life. [38] At the beginning of the conversation, Simonides suggests that not he, but Hiero, has a better knowledge of the two ways of life or their difference. This suggestion does not lack a certain plausibility as long as one understands by the two ways of life the tyrannical life and private life in general; it proves to be simply ironical if it is considered in the light of the setting, i.e., if it is applied to the difference between the life of the ruler and the life of the wise man. For Hiero proves to be ignorant of the life of the wise man and its goal, whereas Simonides knows, not only his own way of life, but the political life as well, as is shown by his ability to teach the art of ruling well. Only Simonides, and not Hiero, is competent to make a choice between the two ways of life. [39] At the beginning, Simonides bows to Hiero's leadership; he even permits Hiero to defeat him. But in the moment of his victory Hiero becomes aware of the fact that far from really defeating Simonides, he has merely prepared his own downfall. The wise man sits leisurely upon the very goal toward which the ruler is blindly and furiously working his way and which he will never reach. At the end, Simonides' leadership is firmly established: the wise man defeats the ruler. This most obvious aspect of the action is a peculiarity of the Hiero. In most of Xenophon's dialogues, no change of leadership takes place: Socrates is the leader from the beginning to the end. In Xenophon's Socratic dialogue par excellance, the Oeconomicus, a change of leadership does occur; but it is a change from the leadership of the wise man (Socrates) to the leadership of the ruler (the economist Ischomachus). Whereas in the Oeconomicus the wise man surrenders to the ruler, in the Hiero the ruler surrenders to the wise man. The Hiero, and not the Oeconomicus, reveals by its action the true relation of rule and wisdom. In addition, the Hiero is that work of Xenophon which draws our attention most forcefully to the problem of that relation. It can be said to do this for several reasons. In the first place, because its primary subject is the difference between private life and the life of a certain type of ruler. In the second place, because it does contrast a wise man and a ruler more explicitly than any other Xenophontic writing. And finally, the Hiero's most obvious practical aim (the improvement of tyranny) is hardly capable of fulfillment, which precludes the possibility that the obvious practical aim of the work coincides with its final purpose. Here again we may note a profound agreement between Xenophon and Plato. The precise relation between the philosopher and the political man (i.e., their fundamental difference) is the thematic premise, not of the Republic and the Gorgias in which Socrates as citizen-philosopher is the leading character, but of the Politicus in which a stranger occupies the central position.

From what has been said it may be inferred that Simonides' emphatic praise of honor cannot possibly mean that he preferred honor as such to all other things. After all, his statement on honor belongs to that part of the dialogue in which he hides his wisdom almost completely. Besides, its bearing is sufficiently qualified by the sentences with which it opens and ends. [40] One might even think to begin with that his praise of honor can be explained completely by his pedagogic intention. His intention is to show Hiero, who reveals a remarkable indifference to virtue, a way to virtuous rule by appealing, not to virtue or the noble, but to the pleasant; and the pleasure deriving from honor seems to be the natural substitute for the pleasure deriving from virtue. Yet Simonides appeals in his teaching primarily not to Hiero's desire for honor, but to his desire for love. It could not be otherwise since Hiero had bestowed spontaneously the highest praise not on honor, but on love. We may take it then that by extolling honor Simonides reveals his own preferences rather than those of his pupil [41]: Simonides, and not Hiero, prefers the pleasure deriving from honor to the other pleasures explicitly mentioned by him. We may even say that of all desires which are natural, i.e., which "grow" in human beings independently of any education or teaching, [42] he considered the desire for honor the highest because it is the foundation of the desire for any excellence, be it the excellence of the ruler or that of the wise man. [43]

Whereas Simonides is concerned with honor, he is not concerned with love. Hiero has to demonstrate to him not only that as regards love tyrants are worse off than private men, but even that love is a great good and that private men are particularly loved by their children, parents, brothers, wives, and companions. In discussing love, Hiero feels utterly unable to appeal to the poet's experience or previous knowledge as he did when discussing the pleasures of the table and even of sex. He urges him to acquire the rudiments of knowledge regarding love immediately or in the future without being in any way certain Simonides would wish to acquire them. [44]

Just as desire for honor is characteristic of Simonides, desire for love is characteristic of Hiero. [45] In so far as Hiero represents the ruler and Simonides represents the wise man, the difference between love and honor as interpreted in the Hiero will throw some light on Xenophon's view of the difference between the ruler and the wise man. What Xenophon has primarily in mind is not simply the difference between love and honor in general: Hiero desires to be loved by "human beings," i.e., not merely by real men, but by everyone regardless of his qualities, and Simonides is concerned with admiration or praise, not by everybody, but by "those who are free in the highest degree." [46] The desire which Xenophon or his Simonides ascribes to Hiero, or the ruler, is fundamentally the same as the erotic desire for the common people which Plato's Socrates ascribes to Callicles. [47] Only because the ruler has the desire to be loved by "human beings" as such is he able to become the willing servant and benefactor of all his subjects and hence to become a good ruler. The wise man, on the other hand, has no such desire; he is satisfied with the admiration, the praise, the approval of a small minority. [48] It would seem, then, that the characteristic difference between the ruler and the wise man manifests itself in the objects of their passionate interest and not in the character of their passion itself. [49] Yet it is no accident that Simonides is primarily concerned with being praised by the competent minority, and not with being loved by them, whereas Hiero is primarily concerned with being loved by human beings in the mass, and not with being admired by them. The characteristic difference between the ruler and the wise man may therefore be presumed to manifest itself somehow in the difference between love and admiration.

The meaning of this difference is indicated by Simonides in his praise of the beneficent ruler. The beneficent ruler will be loved by his subjects, he will be passionately desired by human beings, he will have earned the affectionate regard of many cities, whereas he will be praised by all human beings and will be admirable in the eyes of all. Everyone present, but not everyone absent, will be his ally, just as not everyone will be afraid that something might happen to him and not everyone will desire to serve him. Precisely by making his city happy, he will antagonize and hurt her enemies who cannot be expected to love him and to extol his victory. But even the enemies will have to admit that he is a great man: they will admire him and praise his virtue. [50] The beneficent ruler will be praised and admired by all men, whereas he will not be loved by all men: the range of love is more limited than that of admiration or praise. Each man loves what is somehow his own, his private possession; admiration or praise is concerned with the excellent regardless of whether it is one's own or not. Love as distinguished from admiration requires proximity. The range of love is limited not only in regard to space, but likewise -- although Xenophon's Simonides in his delicacy refrains from even alluding to it -- in regard to time. A man may be admired many generations after his death whereas he will cease to be loved once those who knew him well are dead. [51] Desire for "inextinguishable fame," [52] as distinguished from desire for love, enables a man to liberate himself from the shackles of the Here and Now. The beneficent ruler is praised and admired by all men, whereas he is loved mainly by his subjects: the limits of love coincide normally with the borders of the political community, whereas admiration of human excellence knows no boundaries. [53] The beneficent ruler is loved by those whom he benefits or serves on account of his benefits or services, [54] whereas he is admired even by those to whom he has done the greatest harm and certainly by many whom he did not serve or benefit at all: admiration seems to be less mercenary than love. Those who admire the beneficent ruler while loving him do not necessarily make a distinction between their benefactor and the man of excellence; but those who admire him without loving him -- e.g., the enemy cities -- rise above the vulgar error of mistaking one's benefactor for the man of excellence. [55] Admiration is as much superior to love as the man of excellence is to one's benefactor as such. To express this somewhat differently, love has no criterion of its relevance outside itself, but admiration has. If admiration does not presuppose services rendered by the admired to the admirer, one is led to wonder whether it presupposes any services, or any prospect of services, by the admired at all. This question is answered explicitly in the affirmative by Hiero, and tacitly in the negative by Simonides. [56] Hiero is right as regards the ruler: the ruler does not gain the admiration of all men but by rendering services to his subjects. Simonides is right as regards the wise man: the wise man is admired, not on account of any services which he renders to others, but simply because he is what he is. The wise man need not be a benefactor at all in order to be admired as a man of excellence. [57] More precisely: the specific function of the ruler is to be beneficent; he is essentially a benefactor; the specific function of the wise man is to understand; he is a benefactor only accidentally. The wise man is as self-sufficient as is humanly possible; the admiration which he gains is essentially a tribute to his perfection, and not a reward for any services. [58] The desire for praise and admiration as distinguished and divorced from the desire for love is the natural foundation for the predominance of the desire for one's own perfection. [59] This is what Xenophon subtly indicates by presenting Simonides as chiefly interested in the pleasures of eating, whereas Hiero appears to be chiefly interested in the pleasures of sex: for the enjoyment of food, as distinguished from sexual enjoyments, one does not need other human beings. [60]

THE EIGHT WORLDLY CONCERNS: Only Dharma, and a motivation appropriate to the practice of Dharma, effectively leads to fulfillment. All other activities are included in what Buddhists call the eight worldly concerns. These concerns dominate a life without Dharma and prevent us from entering a way of life that leads to the cessation of discontent. These eight worldly concerns are: gain and loss, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, and fame and disgrace. These are the concerns that pervade most people's daily lives. They are pervasive precisely because they are mistaken for effective means to attain happiness and to avoid suffering...the reason for pointing them out is to reveal their essentially transient nature and their impotence as a means to lasting happiness.
***
The initial emphasis of moral discipline is on restraint from unwholesome behavior; namely, that which harms ourselves and others. The second emphasis is on service to others.

-- "Tibetan Buddhism: From the Ground Up," by Alan Wallace


And with gladness I rejoice
In the ocean of virtue from developing an Awakening Mind
That wishes all beings to be happy,
As well as in the deeds that bring them benefit.

-- Bodhisattvacharyavatara, by Acharya Shantideva, translated by Stephen Batchelor


The specific function of the wise man is not bound up with an individual political community: the wise man may live as a stranger. The specific function of the ruler on the other hand consists in rendering happy the individual political community of which he is the chief. The city is essentially the potential enemy of other cities. Hence one cannot define the function of the ruler without thinking of war, enemies, and allies: the city and her ruler need allies, whereas the wise man does not. [61] To the specific functions correspond specific natural inclinations. The born ruler, as distinguished from him who is born to become wise, must have strong warlike inclinations. Hiero mentions the opinion according to which peace is a great good and war a great evil. He does not simply adopt it, however, for he feels too keenly that war affords great pleasures. When enumerating the very great pleasures which private citizens enjoy in war, he assigns the central place to the pleasure which they derive from killing their enemies. He notes with regret that the tyrant cannot have this great pleasure or at least cannot openly show it and boast of the deed. Simonides does not reveal any delight in war or killing. The most he says in favor of war is that Hiero had greatly exaggerated the detrimental effect on appetite and sleep of that fear which fills men's minds before a battle. [62] Not victory in war as such, but the happiness of one's city, is described by him as the goal of the noblest and grandest contest. [63] Hiero's statement about peace and war [64] doubtless serves the purpose of drawing our attention to the particularly close connection between tyranny and war. [65] But a comparison of this passage with what Xenophon tells us about the inclinations of the king Cyrus makes it clear that he considered a streak of cruelty an essential element of the great ruler in general. [66] The difference between the tyrant and the nontyrannical ruler is ultimately not a simple opposition, but rather that in the case of the tyrant certain elements of the character of the ruler are more strongly developed or less easily hidden than in the case of the nontyrannical ruler. Nor is it necessarily true that the pleasure which the ruler takes in hurting enemies is surpassed by his desire to be loved by friends. To say nothing of the fact that what Hiero enjoys most in his sexual relations are the quarrels with the beloved one, he apparently prefers "taking from enemies against their will" to all other pleasures. [67] According to him, the tyrant is compelled to free the slaves, but desirous to enslave the free: [68] if he could afford to indulge his desires everyone would be his slave. Simonides had limited himself to stating that tyrants are most capable of hurting their enemies and helping their friends. When reproducing this statement, Hiero puts a considerably greater weight on "hurting the enemies" than on "helping the friends"; and when discussing it, he implies that Simonides has an interest of his own in helping his friends but none in hurting his enemies: he can easily see Simonides helping his friends; he cannot see him as well hurting his enemies. [69] Since the wise man does not need human beings in the way in which, and to the extent to which, the ruler does, his attitude toward them is free, not passionate, and hence not susceptible of turning into malevolence or hatred. In other words, the wise man alone is capable of justice in the highest sense. When Hiero distinguishes between the wise and the just man, he implies that the just man is the good ruler. Accordingly, he must be presumed to understand by justice political justice, the justice which manifests itself in helping friends and hurting enemies. When Socrates assumes that the wise man is just, he understands by justice transpolitical justice, the justice which is irreconcilable with hurtthinking anyone. The highest form of justice is the preserve of those who have the greatest self-sufficiency which is humanly possible. [70]
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Re: On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:07 am

PART 6 OF 6

VI. Pleasure and Virtue

The Hiero almost leads up to the suggestion that tyranny may be perfectly just. It starts from the opinion that tyranny is radically unjust. The tyrant is supposed to reject the just and noble, or virtue, in favor of the pleasant; or, since virtue is human goodness, he is supposed to reject the good in favor of the pleasant. This opinion is based on the general premise that the good and the pleasant are fundamentally different from each other in such a way that the right choice has to be guided by considerations of the good, and not by considerations of the pleasant. [1]

The thesis that tyranny is radically unjust forms the climax of Hiero's indictment of tyranny. That indictment is exaggerated; Hiero simply reproduces without full conviction the gentleman's image of the tyrant. [2] But the very fact that he is capable of using that image for a selfish purpose proves that his thesis is not altogether wrong. Xenophon has taken some pains to make it clear that while Hiero is not as unjust as he declares the tyrant to be, he is remarkably indifferent to virtue. He does not think of mentioning virtue among the greatest goods or the most choice worthy possessions. At best, he considers virtuous men, i.e., the virtue of others, to be useful. But even the virtue of others is not regarded by him as an object of delight: he does not seek, and never sought, his companions among the virtuous men. Not he, but Simonides, points out the insignificance of bodily pleasures. [3] Only after having been driven into a corner by Simonides does he praise the virtue of the benefactor of human beings with a view to the fact that such virtue is productive of the highest honor and of unimpaired happiness. [4]

In attempting to educate a man of this kind, Simonides has no choice but to appeal to his desire for pleasure. In order to advise Hiero to rule as a virtuous tyrant, he has to show him that the tyrant cannot obtain pleasure, and in particular that kind of pleasure with which Hiero is chiefly concerned, viz., the pleasure deriving from being loved, but by being as virtuous as possible.

To say nothing of the fact that what Hiero enjoys most in his sexual relations are the quarrels with the beloved one, he apparently prefers "taking from enemies against their will" to all other pleasures.

-- On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss


I love Dailochus for that very thing which nature perhaps compels a human being to want from the fair, and it is this I love to win; but I desire very deeply to win it with love and from one who is willing;... [T]o take pleasure in the pain of whomever one loves, to kiss and be hated, to touch and be loathed -- must this not by now be a distressing and pitiful affliction?

-- Hiero, by Xenophon


What he shows Hiero is a way not so much to virtue as to pleasure. Strictly speaking, he does not advise him to become virtuous. He advises him to do the gratifying things himself while entrusting to others the things for which men incur hatred; to encourage certain virtues and pursuits among his subjects by offering prizes; to keep his bodyguard, yet to use it for the benefit of his subjects; and, generally speaking, to be as beneficent to his fellow citizens as possible. Now, the benefactor of his fellow citizens is not necessarily a man of excellence or a virtuous man. Simonides does not advise Hiero to practise any of the things which distinguish the virtuous man from the mere benefactor.

A comparison of the Hiero with Isocrates' work on the tyrannical art (To Nicocles) makes perfectly clear how amazingly little of moral admonition proper there is in the Hiero. Simonides speaks only once of the virtue of the tyrant, and he never mentions any of the special virtues (moderation, courage, justice, wisdom, and so on) when speaking of the tyrant. Isocrates, on the other hand, does not tire of admonishing Nicocles to cultivate his mind, to practise virtue, wisdom, piety, truthfulness, meekness, self-control, moderation, urbanity, and dignity; he advises him to love peace and to prefer a noble death to a base life, as well as to take care of just legislation and adjudication; he calls a good counsellor the most useful and most "tyrannical" possession. [5]

If Simonides can be said to recommend virtue at all, he recommends it, not as an end, but as a means. He recommends just and noble actions to the tyrant as means to pleasure. In order to do this, Simonides, or Xenophon, had to have at his disposal a hedonistic justification of virtue. Moreover, Simonides prepares his teaching by starting a discussion of whether tyrannical life is superior to private life from the point of view of pleasure. In discussing this subject, Hiero, and Simonides are compelled to examine a number of valuable things from the point of view of pleasure. The Hiero could only have been written by a man who had at his disposal a comprehensive hedonistic interpretation of human life.

Expression of essential parts of that hedonistic interpretation has been entrusted to Simonides who in one of his poems had said: "For what life of mortals, or what tyranny, is desirable without pleasure. Without her not even the lasting life of gods is to be envied." [6] It is difficult to say how Simonides conceived of the relation between pleasure and virtue except that he cannot have considered desirable a virtuous life which is devoid of pleasure. From the verses which he addressed to Scopas, it appears that he considered virtue essentially dependent on a man's fate: no one is protected against coming into situations in which he is compelled to do base things. [7] He gave the advice to be playful throughout, and not to be entirely serious about anything. Play is pleasant, and virtue, or gentlemanliness, is the serious thing par excellence. [8] If a sophist is a man who uses his wisdom for the sake of gain and who employs arts of deception, Simonides was a sophist. [9] The way in which he is presented in the Hiero does not contradict what we are told about the historical Simonides. Xenophon's Simonides is an "economist"; he rejects the gentleman's view of what is most desirable in favor of the view of the "real man"; he would be capable of going to any length in "contriving something"; and he is free from the responsibility of the citizen. [10] While he speaks of the noblest and grandest contest and of the noblest and most blessed possession, he does not speak of the noblest and grandest, or most splendid possession ("virtue and justice and gentility"): he reserves his highest praise, not for virtue, but for happiness unmarred by envy, and, above all, for honor. [11] The amazingly amoral nature of the tyrannical teaching embodied in the second part of the Hiero as well as the hedonistic consideration of human things that is given in the first part accord perfectly with Simonides' character.

Xenophon's Simonides not only has a definite leaning toward hedonism; he even has at his disposal a philosophic justification for his views about the importance of pleasure. What he says in his initial statement about the various kinds of pleasure and pain reveals a definite theoretical interest in the subject. He divides all pleasures into three classes: pleasures of the body, pleasures of the soul, and pleasures common to body and soul. He subdivides the pleasures of the body into those related to a special organ (eyes, ears, nose, sexual organs) and those related to the whole body. His failure to subdivide the pleasures of the soul may not be due merely to his wish to stress the pleasures of the body in order to present himself as a lover of those pleasures; it may have to be traced also to the theoretical reasons that there are no parts of the soul in the sense in which there are parts of the body and that the pleasures common to men and brutes are more fundamental and therefore, from a certain theoretical point of view, more important than those characteristic of human beings. [12] He makes it clear that all pleasures and pains presuppose some kind of knowledge, an act of distinction or judgment, a perception of the senses or of thought. [13] He distinguishes the knowledge presupposed by every pleasure and pain from the knowledge or perception of our pleasure or pain. He does not consider it unimportant to indicate that whereas we feel our own pleasures and pains, we merely observe those of others. He possibly alludes to a distinction between the Image and the Image with regard to pleasures and perceptions. [14] When mentioning the pleasure deriving from sleep, he does not limit himself to pointing out that sleep is unambiguously pleasant; he raises in addition the theoretical question of how and by what and when we enjoy sleep; since he feels that he cannot answer this question, he explains why it is so particularly difficult to answer it.

If we understand by hedonism the thesis that the pleasant is identical with the good, Xenophon's Simonides is not a hedonist. Before he ever mentions the pleasant, he mentions the good: he mentions at the very outset "better" knowledge, by which, of course, he does not mean "more pleasant" knowledge. [15] In his enumeration of the various kinds of pleasure he makes it clear that he considers the pleasant and the good fundamentally different from each other: the good and the bad things are sometimes pleasant and sometimes painful. He does not explicitly say how he conceives of the precise relation between the pleasant and the good. [16] To establish his view on the subject, we have to pay proper attention to the nonhedonistic principle of preference which he recognizes when he speaks with emphasis of "(ordinary) human beings" and of "(real) men." First, regarding "human beings," he seems to make a distinction between such pleasures as are in accordance with human nature and such pleasures as are against human nature: [17] the preferable or good pleasures are those which agree with human nature. Simonides' nonhedonistic principle of preference would then be "what agrees with human nature." Now, ordinary human beings may enjoy as much pleasure as real men; yet real men are to be esteemed more highly than ordinary human beings. [18] Hence, we may define Simonides' nonhedonistic principle of preference more precisely by identifying it with "what agrees with the nature of real men." Seeing that he praises nothing as highly as honor, and honor is most pleasant to real men as distinguished from ordinary human beings, we may say that the ultimate and complete principle of preference to which Simonides refers in the Hiero is the pleasure which agrees with the nature of real men. What he praises most highly is pleasant indeed, but pleasure alone does not define it sufficiently; it is pleasant on a certain level, and that level is determined, not by pleasure, but by the hierarchy of beings. [19] He is then a hedonist only in so far as he rejects the view that considerations of pleasure are irrelevant for right choice: the right goal towards which one has to aim, or with reference to which one has to judge, must be something which is intrinsically pleasant. This view seems to have been held by the historical Simonides as is shown by his verses on pleasure quoted above. We may ascribe the same view to Xenophon's Hiero, who admits the distinction between the good and the pleasant and who characterizes friendship, than which he praises nothing more highly, as both very good and very pleasant. [20]

This qualified hedonism guides Simonides and Hiero in their examination of a number of valuable things. That examination leads to the conclusion suggested by Hiero that friendship has a higher value than city or fatherland or patriotism. [21] Friendship, i.e., being loved and cared for by the small number of human beings whom one knows intimately (one's nearest relatives and companions) is not only "a very great good"; it is also "very pleasant." It is a very great good because it is intrinsically pleasant. Trust, i.e., one's trusting others, is "a great good." It is not a very great good, because it is not so much intrinsically pleasant as the conditio sine qua non of intrinsically pleasant relations. A man whom one trusts is not yet a friend: a servant or a bodyguard must be trustworthy, but there is no reason why they ought to be one's friends. While trust is not intrinsically pleasant, it stands in a fairly close relation to pleasure: when discussing trust, Hiero mentions pleasure three times. On the other hand, in the passage immediately following in which he discusses "fatherlands," he does not mention pleasure at all. [22] Not only are "fatherlands" not intrinsically pleasant, they do not even stand in a close relation to pleasure. "Fatherlands are worth very much" because the citizens afford each other protection without pay against violent death and thus enable each citizen to live in safety. That for which the fatherland is "worth very much" is life in safety; safety, or freedom from fear, the spoiler of all pleasures, is the conditio sine qua non of every pleasure however insignificant; but to live in safety and to live pleasantly are clearly two different things.

Image

[Arthur] Ford, if I asked you where the hell we were, would I regret it?

[Ford] We're safe.

[Arthur] Ah, good.

[Ford] We're in a cabin of one of the ships of the Vogon constructor fleet.

[Arthur Dent] Ah, this is obviously some strange usage of the word "safe" that I hadn't previously been aware of.

-- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, directed by Douglas Adams


More precisely, the fatherland is not, as is trust, the specific condition of the great pleasures deriving from friendship: "strangers," men like Simonides, may enjoy friendship. [23] Friendship and trust are good for human beings as such, but the cities are good primarily, not to say exclusively, for the citizens and the rulers; they are certainly less good for strangers, and still less for slaves. [24] The fatherland, or the city, is good for the citizens because it liberates them from fear. This does not mean that it abolishes fear; it rather replaces one kind of fear (the fear of enemies, evil-doers, and slaves) by another (the fear of the laws or of the law-enforcing authorities). [25] The city, as distinguished from friendship and trust, is not possible without compulsion; and compulsion, constraint, or necessity (Image) is essentially unpleasant. [26] Friendship, i.e., being loved, is pleasant, while being patriotic is necessary. [27] While friendship, as praised by Hiero, is not only pleasant but also good, its goodness is not moral goodness or nobility: Hiero praises him who has friends regardless of whether the friends are morally good or not. [28] In so far as friendship is being loved, preferring friendship to fatherland is tantamount to preferring oneself to others: when speaking about friendship, Hiero is silent about the mutuality to which he explicitly refers when discussing trust and fatherland. It is tantamount to preferring one's pleasure to one's duties to others.

The thesis that friendship is a greater good than the fatherland is suggested by Hiero who has a strong motive for asserting that private life is superior to the life of the ruler which is the political life par excellence. But that thesis is more than a weapon convenient for Hiero's purpose. Simonides, who could have been induced by his pedagogic intention rather to prefer fatherland to friendship, tacitly adopts Hiero's thesis by advising the tyrant to consider his fatherland as his estate, his fellow citizens as his comrades, his friends as his children, and his sons as the same thing as his life or soul. [29] He is even less capable than Hiero of assigning to the fatherland the most exalted place among the objects of human attachment. He adopts Hiero's thesis not only "by speech," but "by deed" as well: he lives as a stranger; he chooses to live as a stranger. Contrary to Hiero, he never praises the fatherland or the city. When he urges Hiero to think of the common good, and of the happiness of the city, he emphasizes the fact that this advice is addressed to a tyrant or ruler. Not Simonides, but Hiero, is concerned with being loved by "human beings" in the mass and therefore has to be a lover of the city in order to reach his goal. Simonides desires nothing as much as praise by the small number of competent judges: he can be satisfied with a small group of friends. [30] It is hardly necessary to repeat that his spontaneous praise of honor is concerned exclusively with the benefit of him who is honored or praised and is silent about the benefits to be rendered to others or the duties to others.

The view that a nonpolitical good such as friendship is more valuable than the city was not the view of the citizen as such. [31] It remains to be considered whether it was acceptable to citizen philosophers. Socrates agrees with Hiero as regards the fact that "the fatherlands are worth very much" because they afford safety, or protection against injury, to the citizens. [32] Xenophon seems to indicate by the plan of the Memorabilia that Socrates attached a greater importance to the self than to the city. [33] This is in accordance with Xenophon's distinction between the man of excellence and the benefactor of his fellow citizens. Xenophon himself was induced to accompany Cyrus, an old enemy of Athens, on his expedition against his brother by the promise of Proxenus, an old guest-friend of his, that he would make him a friend of Cyrus if he would come. Proxenus, a pupil of Gorgias, of a man who had no fixed domicile in any city, [34] explicitly stated that he himself considered Cyrus worth more to him than his fatherland. Xenophon does not say in so many words that he might conceivably come to consider Cyrus' friendship preferable to his fatherland; but he certainly was not shocked by Proxenus' statement and he certainly acted as if he were capable of sharing Proxenus' sentiment. Socrates had some misgivings regarding Xenophon's becoming a friend of Cyrus and he advised him therefore to consult Apollo about the journey; but Xenophon was so anxious to join Cyrus or to leave his fatherland that he decided at once to accept Proxenus' invitation. Even after everything had gone wrong with Cyrus' expedition, Xenophon was not anxious to return to his fatherland, although he was not yet exiled. If his comrades had not passionately protested, he would have founded a city "in some barbarian place"; not Xenophon, but his opponents, felt that one ought not to esteem anything more highly than Greece. [35] Later on, he did not hesitate to accompany Agesilaus on his campaign against Athens and her allies which culminated in the battle of Coronea. [36]

Lest we be carried away by blind indignation, [37] we shall try to understand what we might call Xenophon's theoretical and practical depreciation of the fatherland or the city [38] in the light of his political teaching in general and of the teaching of the Hiero in particular. If wisdom or virtue is the highest good, the fatherland or the city cannot be the highest good. If virtue is the highest good, not the fatherland as such, but only the virtuous community or the best political order can command a good man's undivided loyalty. If he has to choose between a fatherland which is corrupt and a foreign city which is well ordered, he may be justified in preferring that foreign city to his fatherland. Precisely because he is a good man, he will not be a good citizen in a bad polity. [39] Just as in choosing horses one looks for the best, and not for those which are born in the country, the wise general will fill the ranks of his army not merely with his fellow citizens but with every available man who can be expected to be virtuous. [40] In the spirit of this maxim Xenophon himself devoted his most extensive work to an idealizing description of the achievements of the "barbarian" Cyrus.

The reason why the city as such cannot lay claim to man's ultimate attachment is implied in Xenophon's "tyrannical" teaching. We have stated that according to that teaching beneficent tyranny is theoretically superior and practically inferior to rule of laws and legitimate government. In doing so, we might seem to have imputed to Xenophon the misologist view that a political teaching may be "morally and politically false ... in proportion as (it is) metaphysically true." But a pupil of Socrates must be presumed to have believed rather that nothing which is practically false can be theoretically true. [41] If Xenophon did then not seriously hold the view that beneficent tyranny is superior to rule of laws and legitimate government, why did he suggest it at all? The "tyrannical" teaching, we shall answer, serves the purpose, not of solving the problem of the best political order, but of bringing to light the nature of political things. The "theoretical" thesis which favors beneficent tyranny is indispensable in order to make clear a crucial implication of the practically and hence theoretically true thesis which favors rule of law and legitimate government. The "theoretical" thesis is a most striking expression of the problem, or of the problematic character, of law and legitimacy: legal justice is a justice which is imperfect and more or less blind, and legitimate government is not necessarily "good government" and almost certainly will not be government by the wise. Law and legitimacy are problematic from the highest point of view, namely, from that of wisdom. In so far as the city is the community kept together, nay, constituted, by law, the city cannot so much as aspire to that highest moral and intellectual level attainable by certain individuals. Hence the best city is morally and intellectually on a lower plane than the best individual. [42] The city as such exists on a lower plane than the individual as such. "Individualism" thus understood is at the bottom of Xenophon's "cosmopolitanism."

The emphasis on pleasure which characterizes the argument of the Hiero leads to a certain depreciation of virtue. For there is nothing in the dialogue to suggest that Simonides considered virtue intrinsically pleasant. The beneficence or virtue of the good tyrant procures for him the most noble and most blessed possession: it is not itself that possession. Simonides replaces the praise of virtue by a praise of honor. As appears from the context, this does not mean that only virtue can lead to honor. But even if it is meant this much, his praise of honor would imply that not virtue, but the reward or result of virtue, is intrinsically pleasant. [43]

Xenophon might seem to have revealed his, or his Socrates', attitude toward hedonism, however understood, in a conversation between Socrates and Aristippus which he has recorded or invented. That conversation is chiefly concerned with the unequivocal connection between love of pleasure and the rejection of the life of a ruler: the pleasure- loving Aristippus goes so far as to prefer explicitly the life of a stranger to political life in any sense. Socrates concludes the conversation by reciting a summary of Prodicus' writing on Hercules in which the pursuit of pleasure is almost identified with vice. [44] This is appropriate only if Aristippus' view is taken to imply a remarkable depreciation of virtue. It is not impossible that the historical Aristippus has served to some extent as a model for Xenophon's Simonides. To say nothing of his hedonistic teaching, he was the first of the Socratics to take pay for his teaching and he could adjust himself to places, times, and men so well that he was particularly popular with the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius. [45]

Be this as it may, the conversation referred to between Socrates and Aristippus tells us very little about Xenophon's attitude toward hedonism. After all, Socrates and Aristippus discuss almost exclusively the pleasures of the body; they barely mention the pleasures deriving from honor or praise. Besides, it would be rash to exclude the possibility that Xenophon's account of that conversation is to a certain extent ironical. That possibility is suggested by the disproportionately ample use which Socrates explicitly makes of an epideictic writing of the sophist Prodicus as an instrument of moral education. [46] Let us not forget the fact that in the only conversation between Socrates and Xenophon which is recorded in the latter's Socratic writings, Xenophon presents himself as a lover of certain sensual pleasures and as being rebuked by Socrates in much more severe terms than Aristippus ever was. This is not surprising, of course, since Xenophon is more explicit than Aristippus in praising the pursuit of sensual pleasure. [47] To point, therefore, to facts which are perhaps less ambiguous, Xenophon no more than his Simonides contends that virtue is the most blessed possession; he indicates that virtue is dependent on external goods and, far from being an end in itself, ought to be in the service of the acquisition of pleasure, wealth, and honors. [48]

At first glance, it is not altogether wrong to ascribe the same view even to Socrates. A distinguished historian did ascribe it, not only to Xenophon's Socrates, but to Plato's as well. "D'une part, son bon sens et sa grande sagesse pratique lui font sentir qu'il doit y avoir un principe d'action superieur al'agreable ou au plaisir immediat; d'autre part, quand il s'efforce de determiner ce principe lui-meme, il ne parvient pas ale distinguer de l'utile, et l'utile lui-meme ne differe pas essentiellement de l'agreable." [Google translate: "On the one hand, common sense and practical wisdom he felt that there must be a principle of action al'agreable superior or immediate pleasure, and second, when he tries to determine the principle itself, it can not distinguish the good ale, and good itself does not differ essentially from the pleasant."] Yet one cannot leave it at that; one has to acknowledge that Socrates' teaching is characterized by a fundamental contradiction: "Socreate recommande de pratiquer les diverses vertus acause des avantages materiels qu'elles sont susceptibles de nous procurer; mais ces avantages il n'en jouit jamais." [Google translate: Socreate recommended to practice the various virtues acause material benefits they may bring us, but these advantages he did not enjoy.] [49] Could Socrates, who insisted so strongly on the indispensable harmony between deed and speech completely have failed to account "by speech" for what he was revealing "by deed"? To solve the contradiction in question, one merely has to remind oneself of the distinction which Xenophon's Socrates makes silently and Plato's Socrates makes explicitly between two kinds of virtue or gentlemanliness: between common or political virtue, whose ends are wealth and honor, and true virtue which is identical with self-sufficient wisdom. [50] The fact that Socrates sometimes creates the impression that he was oblivious of true virtue, or that he mistook common virtue for true virtue, is explained by his habit of leading his discussions, as far as possible, "through the opinions accepted by human beings." [51] Thus the question of Socrates' attitude toward hedonism is reduced to the question as to whether wisdom, the highest good, is intrinsically pleasant. If we may trust Xenophon, Socrates has disclosed his answer in his last conversation: not so much wisdom, or true virtue itself, as one's consciousness of one's progress in wisdom or virtue, affords the highest pleasure. [52] Thus Socrates ultimately leaves no doubt as to the fundamental difference between the good and the pleasant. No man can be simply wise; therefore, not wisdom, but progress toward wisdom is the highest good for man. Wisdom cannot be separated from self-knowledge; therefore, progress toward wisdom will be accompanied by awareness of that progress. And that awareness is necessarily pleasant. This whole -- the progress and the awareness of it -- is both the best and the most pleasant thing for man. It is in this sense that the highest good is intrinsically pleasant. Concerning the thesis that the most choiceworthy thing must be intrinsically pleasant, there is then no difference between the historical Simonides, Xenophon's Simonides, and Xenophon's Socrates, and, indeed, Plato's Socrates. [53] Nor is this all. There is even an important agreement between Xenophon's Simonides and his Socrates as regards the object of the highest pleasure. For what else is the pleasant consciousness of one's progress in wisdom or virtue but one's reasonable and deserved satisfaction with, and even admiration of, [54] oneself? The difference between Socrates and Simonides seems then to be that Socrates is not at all concerned with being admired or praised by others, whereas Simonides is concerned exclusively with it. To reduce this difference to its proper proportions, it is well to remember that Simonides' statement on praise or honor is meant to serve a pedagogical function. The Hiero does not supply us then with the most adequate formulation of Xenophon's view regarding the relation of pleasure and virtue. But it is the only writing of Xenophon which has the merit, and even the function, of posing the problem of that relation in its most radical form: in the form of the question as to whether the demands of virtue cannot be completely replaced by, or reduced to, the desire for pleasure, if for the highest pleasure.

VII. Piety and Law

After advising the democratic rulers of Athens how they could overcome the necessity under which they found themselves of acting unjustly, Xenophon reminds them of the limitations of his advice, and, indeed, of all human advice, by giving them the additional advice to inquire of the gods in Dodona and in Delphi whether the reforms suggested by him would be salutary to the city both now and in the future. Yet even divine approval of his suggestions would not suffice. He gives the Athenians the crowning advice, in case the gods should approve of his suggestions, that they further ask the gods to which of the gods they ought to sacrifice in order to be successful. Divine approval and divine assistance seem to be indispensable for salutary political action. These remarks must be of special interest to the interpreter of the Hiero on account of the place where they occur in the Corpus Xenophonteum, for they occur at the end of the Ways and Means. [1] Still, their content cannot be surprising to any reader of our author: pious sentiments are expressed, more or less forcefully, in all those of his writings in which he speaks in his own or in Socrates' name.

Remember how at Aulis the altar of the Virgin Goddess was foully stained with the blood of Iphigineia by the leaders of the Greeks, the patterns of chivalry. The headband was bound about her virgin tresses and hung down evenly over both her cheeks. Suddenly, she caught sight of her father, standing sadly in front of the altar, the attendants beside him hiding the knife and her people bursting into tears when they saw her. Struck dumb with terror, she sank on her knees to the ground. Poor girl, at such a moment it did not help her that she had been first to give the name of father to a king. Raised by the hands of men, she was led trembling to the altar. Not for her the sacrament of marriage and the loud chant of Hymen. It was her fate in the very hour of marriage to fall a sinless victim to a sinful rite, slaughtered to her greater grief by a father's hand, so that a fleet might sail under happy auspices. Such are the heights of wickedness to which men are driven by superstition.

-- On the Nature of the Universe, by Lucretius


One of the most surprising features of the Hiero, i.e., of the only work of Xenophon in which he never speaks in the first person, is its complete silence about piety. Simonides never mentions piety. He does not say a word about the advisability of asking any gods whether his suggestions regarding the improvement of tyrannical rule would be salutary. Nor does he remind Hiero of the need of divine assistance. He does not admonish him in any way to worship the gods. [2] Hiero, too, is silent about piety. In particular, when enumerating the various virtues, he was almost compelled to mention piety: he fails to do so.

It might seem that this silence is sufficiently explained by the subject matter of the work. The tyrant, and indeed any absolute ruler, may be said to usurp honors rightfully belonging to the gods alone. [3] Yet the Hiero deals, not so much with how tyrants usually live, as with how tyranny can best be preserved or rather improved. If we may believe Aristotle, piety is rather more necessary for preserving and improving tyrannical government than it is for the preservation and improvement of any other political order. We might be inclined to credit Xenophon with the same view, since he indicates that the regime of Cyrus became the more pious in proportion as it became more absolute. [4] But Cyrus is not a tyrant strictly speaking. According to Xenophon, tyranny is in any case rule without laws, and according to his Socrates, piety is knowledge of the laws concerning the gods: [5] where there are no laws, there cannot be piety. However, the identification of piety with knowledge of the laws concerning the gods is not Xenophon's last word on the subject. In his final characterization of Socrates he says that Socrates was so pious that he would do nothing without the consent of the gods. When he describes how Socrates made his companions pious, he shows how he led them to a recognition of divine providence by making them consider the purposeful character of the universe and its parts. [6] It seems, then, that just as he admits a translegal justice, although his Socrates identifies justice with legality, so he admits a piety which emerges out of the contemplation of nature and which has no necessary relation to law; a piety, that is, whose possibility is virtually denied by the definition suggested by his Socrates. We shall conclude that the silence of the Hiero about piety cannot be fully explained by the subject matter of the work. For a full explanation one would have to consider the conversational situation, the fact that the Hiero is a dialogue between an educated tyrant and a wise man who is not a citizen-philosopher.

While the Hiero is silent about piety, it is not silent about the gods. But the silence about piety is reflected in what it says, or does not say, about the gods. In the sentence with which he concludes his statement about friendship, Hiero uses an expression which is reminiscent of an expression used in a similar context by Ischomachus in the Oeconomicus. Hiero speaks of those who are born by nature, and at the same time compelled by law, to love. Whereas Hiero speaks of a cooperation of nature and law, Ischomachus speaks of a cooperation of the god (or the gods) and law. [7] Hiero replaces "the god" or "the gods" by "nature." Xenophon's Simonides never corrects him. He seems to be the same Simonides who is said repeatedly to have postponed and finally abandoned the attempt to answer the question which Hiero had posed him, What is God? [8] It is true, both Hiero and Simonides mention "the gods," but there is no apparent connection between what they say about "nature" and what they say about "the gods." [9] It is possible that what they mean by "the gods" is chance rather than ''nature" or the origin of the natural order. [10]

The practical bearing of the difference between Ischomachus' and Hiero's statements appears from the different ways in which they describe the cooperation of gods or nature and law in the parallel passages cited. Ischomachus says that a certain order which has been established by the gods is at the same time praised by the law. Hiero says that men are prompted by nature to a certain action or feeling, to which they are at the same time compelled by the law. Ischomachus, who traces the natural order to the gods, describes the specific work of the law as praising; Hiero who does not take that step, describes it as compelling. One's manner of understanding and evaluating the man-made law depends then on one's manner of understanding the order which is not man-made and which is only confirmed by the law. If the natural order is traced to the gods, the compulsory character of the law recedes into the background. Conversely, the law as such is less likely to appear as an immediate source of pleasure if one does not go beyond the natural order itself. The law assumes a higher dignity if the universe is of divine origin. The notion linking "praise" and "gods" is gentlemanliness. Praise as distinguished from compulsion suffices for the guidance of gentlemen, and the gods delight at gentlemanliness. [11] As we have seen, Hiero's and Simonides' gentlemanliness is not altogether beyond doubt. Ischomachus, on the other hand, who traces the natural order to the gods and who describes in the cited passage the work of the law as praising, is the gentleman par excellence. What the attitude of the citizen-philosopher Socrates was can be ascertained only by a comprehensive and detailed analysis of Xenophon's Socratic writings.
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