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He was a wretch, who employed the fophiftry and cunning argumentation, which he learnt of his master, to the purpose only of evading his debts, contracted by the most profligate extravagancies: He afterwaads went over to the Ichool of Plato, and when Socrates was dead, had influence enough with Xantippe to obtain of her fome dialogues from her husband's papers, which he published as his own, and fet up for an author and preceptor in philofophy. It is very probable Ariftophanes had in view the character of this very Æfchines, when he brings his old man on the fcene, confulting Socrates for fophiftical evasions how to elude his cre ditors.
Another of the scholars of Socrates was Simon the fophift, a man whofe rapacity be a proverb (Σίμωνος ἁρπακτικώτερος, Simoni rapacior). This Simon was such a plunderer of the public money, that Ariftophanes in his strong manner fays, The very wolves run off upon the fight of Simon.
The defpicable Cleonymus, whofe cowardice was as proverbial as Simon's rapacity, and the profligate Theorus, who buried himfelf in the ftews at Corinth, were alfo fellow ftudents under Socrates, and it is with just indignation against fuch execrable characters that Ariftophanes exclaims
claims-O Jupiter, if thy bolts are aimed at perjury, why do thefe wretches, of all most perjured, Simon, Cleonymus and Theorus, escape the firoke?
Ἐπερβάλλει τῆς ἐπιόρκες, πῶς δῆτ ̓ ἐχί Σίμων ἐνέπρησεν,
Ουδὲ Κλεώνυμον, ἐδὲ Θεώρον ; καὶ τοι σφόδρα γ ασ ̓ ἐπιόρκοι.
Ariftippus, the Cyrenaic founder, was a diftinguished disciple of the Socratic school, a parafite alfo in the court of Dionyfius, a buffoon and drunkard, the avowed oppofer of every thing virtuous, a mafter and professor of immorality, who laid down institutes of fenfuality and reduced it to a system.
Of Alcibiades I fhall briefly fpeak, for the ftories of Socrates's attachment to him are such as need not be enlarged upon; they obtained fo generally, that he was vulgarly called Alcibiades's Silefius: When I glance at these reports in disfavour of a character, which probably stands fo high in the opinion of the learned reader, I muft hope for a candid interpretation of my motives for collecting thefe anecdotes, which I do not wish to apply to any other purpose than merely to fhew that Ariftophanes was not fingular
gular in his attack upon this celebrated philofopher; neither did this attack bear fo hard against him, as many ftories, then in general circulation, otherwife did: Great authorities have afcribed his attachment to Alcibiades to the most virtuous principle; common fame, or perhaps (more properly fpeaking) common defamation, turned it into a charge of the impureft nature: In like manner we find him ridiculed for his devotion to the noted Afpafia, in whose company he is faid to have paffed much of his time; and Athenæus quotes fome paffages of his dialogues with her, which he tells us were published by Herodicus, and which we muft either totally reject, or allow him to have been fubject to fuch private weakneffes and frailties, as were very unfuitable to his public character: What were the real motives for his frequent visits to Afpafia, as well as for his feeming attachment to the ftrumpet Theodote, must be left to conjecture; of the fact there is no room to doubt. He is ftigmatized for his guilty connections in his youth with his preceptor Archelaus, and yet this charge (however improbable it may feem) refts upon the authority of Ariftoxenus, a man of the most candid character, and whofe credit ftands high with all true critics. Herodicus the hiftorian, VOL. III. M
whom I have before mentioned, and who lived about three hundred and fifty years before the Christian æra, feems to have treated Socrates with the greatest feverity, charging him with fitting up all night drinking and carousing with Agatho and others, whom when he had left drunk and afleep, he reeled into the Lyceum, more fit (in the words quoted from the relater) for the fociety of Homer's cannibals, than of thofe he found there: In this debauch it is pretended, that although Phedrus, Eryximachus and many other potent drinkers fled the company, Socrates fate to the laft, fwallowing drenches of wine out of enormous goblets of filver: He defcribes him fitting amongst lafcivious revellers at a banquet, where dancinggirls and boys were exhibiting their indecent attitudes to the mufic of harpers and minstrels : He expofes this mafter of morality entering into a controverfy with his fcholar Critobulus upon the fubject of male beauty; and because Critobulus had ridiculed him for his ugliness, he afferts that Socrates challenged him to a naked exhibition, and that he actually expofed his unfeemly perfon to a Pathic and a dancinggirl, the appointed umpires of the difpute; the conqueror was to be rewarded with an embrace from each of thefe umpires, as the prize of fu
perior beauty, and the decifion was of confequence given ex abfurdo to the philosopher, in preference to one of the handsomest young men in Greece, and he enjoyed the prize annexed to the decree. If we can believe this anecdote to have been gravely related by an historian, who lived fo near to him in point of time, we shall ceafe to wonder that Ariftophanes had the whole theatre on his fide, when fuch ftories were in circulation against the character of Socrates.
As I have no other object in view but to offer what occurs to me in defence of Ariftophanes, who appears to have been moft unjustly accused of taking bribes for his attack upon Socrates, and of having paved the way for the cruel fentence by which he fuffered death, I fhall here conclude an invidious tafk, which my subject, not my choice, has laid upon me.
In our volume of Ariftophanes, the comedies are not placed according to the order of time in which they were produced: There is reason to think that The Acharnenfians was the first of its author; it was acted in the laft year of Olymp. LXXXV. when the edict was reversed which prohibited the reprefentation of comedies and it is said that Aristophanes brought it out in the name of Calliftratus the comedian.
In the last year of Olymp. LXXXVIII. hẽ M 2