Then once more, Charmides, I said, fix your attention, and look within; consider the effect which temperance has upon yourself, and the nature of that which has the effect. Think over all this, and, like a brave youth, tell me—What is temperance?
After a moment's pause, in which he made a real manly effort to think, he said: My opinion is, Socrates, that temperance makes a man ashamed or modest, and that temperance is the same as modesty.
Very good, I said; and did you not admit, just now, that temperance is noble?
Yes, certainly, he said.
And the temperate are also good?
And can that be good which does not make men good?
And you would infer that temperance is not only noble, but also good?
That is my opinion.
Well, I said; but surely you would agree with Homer when he says,
'Modesty is not good for a needy man'?
Yes, he said; I agree.
Then I suppose that modesty is and is not good?
But temperance, whose presence makes men only good, and not bad, is always good?
That appears to me to be as you say.
And the inference is that temperance cannot be modesty—if temperance is a good, and if modesty is as much an evil as a good?
All that, Socrates, appears to me to be true; but I should like to know what you think about another definition of temperance, which I just now remember to have heard from some one, who said, 'That temperance is doing our own business.' Was he right who affirmed that?
You monster! I said; this is what Critias, or some philosopher has told you.
Some one else, then, said Critias; for certainly I have not.