What sort of persons we should choose for our friends, sect. 1-5. How we may ascertain the characters of people, before we form a friendship with them, 6, 7. How we may attach people to us as friends, 8-13. Friendship can exist only between the good and honorable, 14-19; between whom it will continue to subsist in spite of differences of opinion, 19-28. Deductions from the preceding remarks, 29-39.

1. He appeared to me, also, to make his followers wise in examining what sort of persons it was right to attach to themselves as friends, by such conversations as the following. “Tell me, Critobulus,” said he, “if we were in need of a good friend, how should we proceed to look for one? Should we not, in the first place, seek for a person who can govern his appetite, his inclination to wine or sensuality, and sleep and idleness; for one who is overcome by such propensities would he unable to do his duty either to himself or his friend.” “Assuredly he would not,” said Critobulus. “It appears then to you that we must avoid one who is at the mercy of such inclinations?” “Undoubtedly,” replied Critobulus. 2. “Besides,” continued Socrates, “does not a man who is extravagant and yet unable to support himself, but is always in want of assistance from his neighbor, a man who, when he borrows, cannot pay, and when he cannot borrow, hates him who will not lend, appear to you to be a dangerous friend?” “Assuredly,” replied Critobulus. “We must therefore avoid such a character?” “We must indeed.” 3. “Again: what sort of friend would he be who has the means of getting money, and covets great wealth, and who, on this account, is a driver of hard bargains, and delights to receive, but is unwilling to pay?” “Such a person appears to me,” said Critobulus, “to be a still worse character than the former.” 4. “What then do you think of him, who, from love of getting money, allows himself no time for thinking of anything else but whence he may obtain it?” “We must avoid him, as it seems to me; for he would be useless to any one that should make an associate of him.” “And what do you think of him who is quarrelsome, and likely to raise up many enemies against his friends?” “We must avoid him also, by Jupiter.” “But if a man have none of these bad qualities, but is content to receive obligations, taking no thought of returning them?” “He also would he useless as a friend. But what sort of person, then, Socrates, should we endeavor to make our friend?” 5. “A person, I think, who, being the reverse of all this, is proof against the seductions of bodily pleasures, is upright and fair in his dealings, and emulous not to be outdone in serving those who serve him, so that he is of advantage to those who associate with him.” 6. “How then shall we find proof of these qualities in him, Socrates, before we associate with him? “ “We make proof of statuaries,” rejoined Socrates, “not by forming opinions from their words, but, whomsoever we observe to have executed his previous statues skillfully, we trust that he will execute others well.” 7. “You mean, then, that the man who is known to have served his former friends, will doubtless be likely to serve such as may be his friends hereafter?” “Yes; for whomsoever I know to have previously managed horses with skill, I expect to manage other horses also with skill.”

8. “Be it so,” said Critobulus; “but by what means must we make a friend of him who appears to us worthy of our friendship?” “In the first place,” answered Socrates, “we must consult the gods, whether they recommend us to make him our friend.” “Can you tell me, then,” said Critobulus, “how he, who appears eligible to us, and whom the gods do not disapprove, is to be secured?” 9. “Assuredly,” returned Socrates, “he is not to be caught by tracking him like the hare, or by wiles, like birds, or by making him prisoner by force, like enemies; for it would be an arduous task to make a man your friend against his will, or to hold him fast if you were to bind him like a slave; for those who suffer such treatment are rendered enemies rather than friends.” 10. “How then are men made friends?” inquired Critobulus. “They say that there are certain incantations, which those who know them, chant to whomsoever they please, and thus make them their friends; and that there are also love-potions, which those who know them, administer to whomsoever they will, and are in consequence beloved by them.” 11. “And how can we discover these charms?” “You have heard from Homer the song which the Sirens sung to Ulysses, the commencement of which runs thus: ‘Come hither, much-extolled Ulysses, great glory of the Greeks.’” “Did the Sirens then, by singing this same song to other men also, detain them so that they were charmed and could not depart from them?” “No; but they sang thus to those who were desirous of being honored for virtue.” 12. “You seem to mean that we ought to apply as charms to any person, such commendations as, when he hears them, he will not suspect that his eulogist utters to ridicule him; for, if he conceived such a suspicion, he would rather be rendered an enemy, and would repel men from him; as, for instance, if a person were to praise as beautiful, and tall, and strong, one who is conscious that he is short, and deformed, and weak.

“But,” added Critobulus, “do you know any other charms?” 13. “No,” said Socrates, “but I have heard that Pericles knew many, which he used to chant to the city, and make it love him.” “And how did Themistocles make the city love him?” “Not, by Jupiter, by uttering charms to it, but by conferring on it some advantage.” 14. “You appear to me to mean, Socrates, that if we would attach to us any good person as a friend, we ourselves should be good both in speaking and acting.” “And did you think it possible,” said Socrates, “for a bad person to attach to himself good men as his friends?” 15. “I have seen,” rejoined Critobulus, “bad orators become friends to good orators, and men bad at commanding an army become friends to men eminently good in the military art.” 16. “Do you, then,” said Socrates, “regarding the subject of which we are speaking, know any persons, who, being themselves useless, can make useful persons their friends?” “No, by Jupiter,” replied Critobulus; “but if it is impossible for a worthless person to attach to himself good and honorable friends, then tell me this, whether it is possible for one who is himself honorable and good, to become, with ease, a friend to the honorable and good.” 17. “What perplexes you, Critobulus, is, that you often see men who are honorable in their conduct, and who refrain from everything disgraceful, involved, instead of being friends, in dissensions with one another, and showing more severity towards each other than the worthless part of mankind.” 18. “Nor is it only private persons,” rejoined Critobulus, “that act in this manner, but even whole communities, which have the greatest regard for what is honorable, and are least inclined to anything disgraceful, are often hostilely disposed towards one another.

19. “When I reflect on these things,” continued Critobulus, “I am quite in despair about the acquisition of friends; for I see that the bad cannot be friends with one another; for how can the ungrateful, or careless, or avaricious, or faithless, or intemperate, be friends to each other? indeed the bad appear to me to be altogether disposed by nature to be mutual enemies rather than friends. 20. Again, the bad, as you observe, can never harmonize in friendship with the good; for how can those who commit bad actions be friends with those who abhor such actions? And yet, if those also who practice virtue fall into dissensions with one another about pre-eminence in their respective communities, and, being zealous of their own ‘interests,’ even hate each other, who will ever be friends, or among what class of mankind shall affection and attachment be found?” 21. “But these affections act in various ways,” rejoined Socrates, “for men have by nature inclinations to attachment, since they stand in need of each other, and feel compassion for each other, and co-operate for mutual benefit, and, being conscious that such is the case, have a sense of gratitude towards one another; but they have also propensities to enmity, for such as think the same objects honorable and desirable, engage in contention for them, and, divided in feelings, become enemies. Disputation and anger lead to war; avarice excites ill-will; and envy is followed by hatred. 22. But, nevertheless, friendship, insinuating itself through all these hindrances, unites together the honorable and good; for such characters, through affection for virtue, prefer the enjoyment of a moderate competency without strife, to the attainment of unlimited power by means of war; they can endure hunger and thirst without discontent, and take only a fair share of meat and drink, and, though delighted with the attractions of youthful beauty, they can control themselves, so as to forbear from offending those whom they ought not to offend. 23. By laying aside all avaricious feelings too, they can not only be satisfied with their lawful share of the common property, but can even assist one another. They can settle their differences, not only without mutual offense, but even to their mutual benefit. They can prevent their anger from going so far as to cause them repentance; and envy they entirely banish, by sharing their own property with their friends, and considering that of their friends as their own.

24. “How, then, can it be otherwise than natural, that the honorable and good should be sharers in political distinctions, not only without detriment, but even with advantage, to each other? Those indeed who covet honor and office in states, merely that they may have power to embezzle money, to do violence to others, and to live a life of luxury, must be regarded as unprincipled and abandoned characters, and incapable of harmonious union with other men. 25. But when a person wishes to attain honors in a community, in order, not merely that he may not suffer wrong himself, but that he may assist his friends as far as is lawful, and may endeavor, in his term of office, to do some service to his country, why should he not, being of such a character, form a close union with another of similar character? Will he be less able to benefit his friends if he unite himself with the honorable and good, or will he be less able to serve his country if he have the honorable and good for his colleagues? 26. In the public games, indeed, it is plain, that if the strongest were allowed to unite and attack the weaker, they would conquer in all the contests, and carry off all the prizes; and accordingly people do not permit them, in those competitions, to act in such a manner; but since, in political affairs, in which honorable and good men rule, no one hinders another from serving his country in concert with whomsoever he pleases, how can it be otherwise than profitable for him to conduct affairs with the best men as his friends, having these as colleagues and co-operators, rather than antagonists, in his proceedings? 27. It is evident, too, that if one man commences hostilities against another, he will need allies, and will need a greater number of them, if he oppose the honorable and good; and those who consent to be his allies must be well treated by him, that they may be zealous in his interests; and it is much better for him to serve the best characters, who are the fewer, than the inferior, who are more numerous; for the bad require far more favors than the good. 28. But strive with good courage, Critobulus,” he continued, “to be good yourself, and, having become so, endeavor to gain the friendship of men of honor and virtue. Perhaps I myself also may be able to assist you in this pursuit of the honorable and virtuous, from being naturally disposed to love, for, for whatever persons I conceive a liking, I devote myself with ardor, and with my whole mind, to love them, and be loved in return by them, regretting their absence to have mine regretted by them, and longing for their society while they on the other hand long for mine. 29. I know that you also must cultivate such feelings, whenever you desire to form a friendship with any person. Do not conceal from my knowledge, therefore, the persons to whom you may wish to become a friend; for, from my carefulness to please those who please me, I do not think that I am unskilled in the art of gaining men’s affections.”

30. “Indeed, Socrates,” replied Critobulus, “I have long desired to receive such instructions as yours, especially if the same knowledge will help me in regard to those who are amiable in mind, and handsome in person.” 31. “But, Critobulus,” replied Socrates, “there is nothing in the knowledge that I communicate to make those who are handsome in person endure him who lays hands upon them; for I am persuaded that men shrunk from Scylla because she offered to put her hands on them; while every one, they say, was ready to listen to the Sirens, and were enchanted as they listened, because they laid hands on no one, but sang to all men from a distance.” 32. “On the understanding, then, that I shall lay my hands on no one,” said Critobulus, “tell me if you know any effectual means for securing friends.” “But will you never,” asked Socrates, “apply your lips to theirs?” “Be of good courage, Socrates,” said Critobulus, “for I will never apply my lips to those of any person, unless that person be beautiful.” “You have now said,” rejoined Socrates, “the exact contrary to what will promote your object; for the beautiful will not allow such liberties, though the deformed submit to them with pleasure, thinking that they are accounted beautiful for their mental qualities.” 33. “As I shall caress the beautiful, then,” said Critobulus, “and caress the good, teach me, with confidence, the art of attaching my friends to me.” “When, therefore, Critobulus,” said Socrates, “you wish to become a friend to any one, will you permit me to say to him concerning you, that you admire him, and desire to be his friend?” “You may say so,” answered Critobulus, “for I have never known any one dislike those who praised him.” 34. “But if I say of you, in addition, that, because you admire him, you feel kindly disposed towards him, will you not think that false information is given of you by me?” “No: for a kind feeling springs up in myself also towards those whom I regard as kindly disposed towards me.” 35. “Such information, then,” continued Socrates, “I may communicate regarding you to such as you may wish to make your friends; but if you enable me also to say concerning you, that you are attentive to your friends; that you delight in nothing so much as in the possession of good friends; that you pride yourself on the honorable conduct of your friends not less than on your own; that you rejoice at the good fortune of your friends not less than at your own; that you are never weary of contriving means by which good fortune may come to your friends; and that you think it the great virtue of a man to surpass his friends in doing them good and his enemies in doing them harm, I think that I shall be a very useful assistant to you in gaining the affections of worthy friends.” 36. “But why,” said Critobulus, “do you say this to me, as if you were not at liberty to say of me anything you please?” “No, by Jupiter,” replied Socrates; “I have no such liberty, according to a remark that I once heard from Aspasia; for she said that skillful match-makers, by reporting with truth good points of character, had great influence in leading people to form unions, but that those who said what was false, did no good by their praises, for that such as were deceived hated each other and the match-maker alike; and as I am persuaded that this opinion is correct, I think that I ought not to say, when I praise you, anything that I cannot utter with truth.” 37. “You are, therefore,” returned Critobulus, “a friend of such a kind to me, Socrates, as to assist me, if I have myself any qualities adapted to gain friends; but if not, you would not be willing to invent anything to serve me.” “And whether, Critobulus,” said Socrates, “should I appear to serve you more by extolling you with false praises, or by persuading you to endeavor to become a truly deserving man? 38. If this point is not clear to you, consider it with the following illustrations: If, wishing to make the owner of a ship your friend, I should praise you falsely to him, pronouncing you a skillful pilot, and he, believing me, should entrust his ship to you to steer when you are incapable of steering it, would you have any expectation that you would not destroy both yourself and the ship? Or if, by false representations, I should persuade the state, publicly, to entrust itself to you as a man skilled in military tactics, in judicial proceedings, or in political affairs, what do you think that yourself and the state would suffer at your hands? Or if, in private intercourse, I should induce any of the citizens, by unfounded statements, to commit their property to your care, as being a diligent manager, would you not, when you came to give proof of your abilities, be convicted of dishonesty, and make yourself appear ridiculous? 39. But the shortest, and safest, and best way, Critobulus, is, to strive to be really good in that in which you wish to be thought good. Whatever are called virtues among mankind, you will find, on consideration, capable of being increased by study and exercise. I am of opinion, that it is in accordance with these sentiments, that we ought to endeavor to acquire friends; if you know any other way, make me acquainted with it.” “I should be indeed ashamed,” replied Critobulus, “to say anything in opposition to such an opinion; for I should say what was neither honorable nor true.”