Tag Archives: xenophon

Too cool for school

On another occasion when Euthydemus was present, Socrates noticed that he was withdrawing from the group and taking care not to seem impressed by Socrates’ wisdom. “Gentlemen,” he said, “it is easy to see from the way in which our friend Euthydemus spends his time that, when he is old enough, he won’t refrain from advising the State on any political issue that comes up. And it seems to me that by carefully avoiding the appearance of learning anything from anybody, he has provided himself with a splendid preface to his public speeches. Evidently, when he begins to speak, he will introduce what he has to say like this: ‘Gentlemen of Athens, I have never learned anything from anybody, nor have I sought the company of any person whose abilities in speech and action I have heard of. Nor have I troubled to acquire a teacher from among those who understand these matters. On the contrary, I have consistently avoided not only learning anything from anybody, but even giving the impression of doing so. However, I shall offer you whatever advice occurs to me of its own accord.”

Such an introduction would be appropriate for candidates applying for a public medical post. They could suitably begin their speech in this way: ‘Gentlemen of Athens, I have never learned medicine from anyone, nor have I tried to secure any doctor as a teacher. I have consistently avoided not only learning anything from medical men, but even giving the impression of having learned this art. However, I ask you to give me this medical post. I shall try to learn by experimenting on you.'”

-Xenophon’s Memorabilia