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A. Do as you please. We are prepared to listen.
M. We must, therefore, first inquire what Death is, which seems to be a thing perfectly well known. There are some who think that death is the departure of the soul from the body. Others say no departure takes place, but that the soul and body perish together, and that the soul is extinguished in the body. Of those who think that the soul leaves the body at death, some think ihat it is immediately dissolved, some that it remains a long time after the separation, while others say it exists forever. What this soul is, where and from whence, is a great subject of dispute. To some cor, the heart, seems to be the soul; hence we have such expressions as, excordes, vecordes, concordesque, silly, insane, and barmonious; and that wise man, Nasica, who was twice consul, was called Corculum, a little heart, and Ælius Sextus a shrewd man was called, Egregie cordatus homo, a man of a lofty soul.
Empedocles thinks the soul to be the blood in the heart. To some a certain part of the brain seems to hold the chief part of the soul; others will not allow the heart itself or any part of the brain to be the soul; but others have said that the seat and place of the soul is in the heart, others in the brain ; but others think the soul is the breath, as our countrymen declare by the name itself; for we use such expressions as agere animam, and efflure animam, to expire. Also we say animosos, animate, bene animatos, very brave, and ex animi sententia, from the opinion of the mind. But this soul itself, animus, is called so from anima, the breath. Zeno the Stoic thought the mind was fire.
X. But these theories, which I have mentioned, that the soul is the heart, the brain, the breath, or fire, bave been held by entire sects; other opinions, by individuals, as by many ancients before. And latest Aristoxenus, a musician and also a pbilosopher, supposed the soul to be a certain attuning of the body, similar to that which in singing and stringed instruments is called harmony; and that its various motions are drawn out from the nature and figure of the whole body, as the tones in music. He did not relinquish his art, and yet said something the purport of which had been said and explained much before that time by Plato. Xenocrates denied that the soul had any figure or body, and said it was nurnber, whose influence, as before was thought by Pythagoras, was the greatest in nature. His teacher, Plato, formed VOL. XXXIII. — 30 S. VOL. XV. NO. II.
a triple soul, the ruling part of which, the reason, he placed in the head, as in a citadel; the two other parts, anger and desire, which he wished to be considered subordinate, he enclosed in separate places, – anger in the breast, and desire under the præcordia.
But Dicæarchus, in his account of the disputes of the learned held at Corinth, wbich he has set forth in three books, in the first book introduces many speakers; in the other two he brings forward a certain old man of Phthia, called Pherecrates, who he says, was sprung from Deucalion, saying, that the soul is nothing at all; and that it is an utterly empty name; that things are unmeaningly called animals, animated ; that soul or spirit does not exist in man nor beast; and that all that power, by which we perform anything or percieve anything, is equally diffused through all living bodies ; nor can it be separated from body, inasmuch as there is no such thing ; nor is there anything except body one and simple, which is so formed as to feel by organization.
Aristotle, excelling by far all (I always except Plato) in learning and industry, when he reduced the origin of all things to four classes, thought there was a certain fifth nature, from which the soul originated; for he thought, that to think, to foresee, to learn, to teach, to invent anything, as well as to remember so many things, to love, to hate, lo desire, to fear, to grieve, and to be joyful, — these and similar things cannot be brought under any one of the four classes. He employs a fisth class without a name, and this soul he calls by a new name, évtɛlɛxlav, as if it was something which possessed a continued and perennial activity.
XI. Unless some escape me, these are nearly all the opinions concerning the soul. For we will omit Democritus, a great man indeed, who thought the soul was the result of the accidental coming together of smooth and round atoms ; for there is nothing among those sages which a collection of atoms may not produce. Which of all these opinions is true let some god determine, -- which is most probable is a great question. Shall we discuss these opinions or return to our proposition ?
A. I desire both, if it might be ; but it is difficult to mingle them. Wherefore, not to discuss these points, if we can be freed from the fear of death, let us do it; but if that is not possible without unravelling this question of the soul, let us atiend to it now, and leave the other question for another time.
M. The course I understand you to prefer, that I think will be the most suitable. For reason teaches us that, whichever of the opinions I have set forth is true, death is not an evil, but rather a good. Because if the heart, or blood, or brain is the soul, certainly, since it is material, it will perish with the body. If it be the breath, it will be dissipated; if fire, extinguished ; if the harmony of Aristoxenus, it will be broken. What shall I say of the theory of Dicæarchus, who thinks the soul is nothing at all ? According to all these various opinions nothing can pertain to any one after death. Sense is lost equally with life. There is nothing that can affect in any way whatever bim who bas no sensation. The opinions of others excite some hope, if may hap that pleases you, that the souls when they leave the body may be able to go to a heaven, as to their own home.
A. That indeed does delight me; that I would first wish to have so; and then, if that may not be, I would wish to be persuaded that it might be so.
M. What need then of my doing anything for you? Can I excel Plato in eloquence? Con diligently bis book upon the soul; there can be nothing more you can desire.
A. By Hercules, I have done so often; but some how whilst I read, I assent, but when I lay aside the book, and begin to reflect within myself concerning the immortality of the soul, all that assent glides from me.
M. But what? Do you not grant that either souls remain after death, or that they perish in death itself?
A. I admit it.
A. That they are not miserable, since they will not exist ; compelled by you, I made this concession soine time ago.
M. How then, or why, can you say that death seems to you to be an evil, — a state which results in bappiness is our souls survive the body, and not miserable if deprived of ail sensation ?
XII. A. Explain then, unless it be too much trouble, in the first place, if you can, ibat souls remain aster death, which if you fail in doing (for it is a bard task) you, shall teach that death is an exemption from all evil. For I fear lest this very thing be an evil, I do not say the being deprived of sense, but the being to be deprived of sense.
M. We can adduce the best authority for the opinion you wish to establish, that which is wont, and ought, to avail much in all questions. And, first, indeed all antiquity favors it, which, being nearer to the time of the birth and divine origin of the soul, could better discover what was true concerning it.
This one idea seems to have been deeply rooted in those ancients, whom Ennius calls Casci, that there is sense after death; that man is not so destroyed by death, as utterly to perish; and this may be understood, as from many other things, so also from the pontifical customs and ceremonies of burial, which men, endowed with the highest genius, would not have observed with so great care, nor punished the violating of thern as an inexpiable crime, unless it had been fixed in their mind, that death was not annihilation, the taking away and extinction of everything, but rather a removal and change of life, which, as a guide, might conduct renowned men and women to heaven; as for the rest they believed they remained in the earth where they were retained a long time. By this view, and in the opinion of our countrymen, “ Romulus passes his life in heaven with the gods ;” as Ennius also says, assenting to common report. And among the Greeks, and thence passing to us, and even to the ocean, Hercules is held as so great and so present a divinity. Hence we have Bacchus, son of Semele; and, of the same wide extended fame, the Tyndarian brothers, who not only aided the Roman people in battle, but became the messengers of their victories. What! Ino, the daughter of Cadmus, was she not named Leucothea by the Greeks, and Matuta by us? What! is not almost all heaven filled, not to mention others, with those who had their origin on earth ?
XIII. If I should attempt to examine ancient traditions, and to search out what the Greek writers have handed down, even those, who are esteemed gods of the highest dignity, would be found to have taken their departure from us to heaven. Seek the sepulchres of those pointed out in Greece; remember, since you have been initiated, what is handed down in the mysteries ; and then you will understand how widely this impression of immortality has spread. But they who had not known those physical laws, which began to be treated many years after, believed only so much as they knew by the teaching of nature. They did not fathom the reasons and causes of things; they were often moved by certain
visions, mostly appearing in the night time, to think those who had departed this life were yet alive. Moreover the fact, that no nation has been so wild, no one so uncultivated, as to be destitute of the idea of the gods, is the strongest proof of their existence to us. Many hold low views of the gods ; this is usually the result of a vicious character; yet all think there is a divine power and nature. Nor indeed has this been effected by the conferring of men together, nor by public opinion ; — the notion has not been supported by institutions nor established by laws. But in everything the consent of all nations is to be esteemed a law of nature. Who is there who does not mourn the death of his friends, in the first place, because he thinks them deprived of the pleasures of life? Remove this impression, and you have taken away grief. No one mourns on account of his own trouble. Men may grieve, it may be, and be pained, but that gloomy lamentation, that mournful weeping, is because we think, that he whom we have loved is deprived of the happiness of life, and is sensible of it. And this we feel by the teaching of nature, by no course of reasoning, by no learning.
XIV. But it is a great argument, that nature silently declares the immortality of the soul, in the regard that all bave for those things which shall happen to them after death. “One plants trees which will profit another generation,” as says the author of the Synephebi. With what view, unless after ages belonged to him? Therefore the diligent husbandman will plant trees, no berry of which he shall behold; and shall not the great man establish laws, institutions, and government ? What do the begetting of children, the preserving of names, the adopting of sons, the care about wills, — what do the monuments of burial places and their inscriptions signify, except that we think of the future also ? Do you doubt the propriety of drawing an ideal of nature from that nature which is best ? And what nature in the human race is bigher than that of those, who think they are born to assist, to guard, to preserve their fellow men ? Hercules went to the gods. He never would have gone there, unless when he was among men he had secured himself a way thither. These are now old, and are consecrated in the religion of all.
XV. What may we suppose those many great men thought, who in this republic have sacrificed their lives for their country? Did they suppose their names would die with them