But what will those who maintain the soul to be a harmony say of this presence of virtue and vice in the soul? — will they say that here is another harmony, and another discord, and that the virtuous soul is harmonized, and herself being a harmony has another harmony within her, and that the vicious soul is inharmonical and has no harmony within her?
I cannot tell, replied Simmias; but I suppose that something of the sort would be asserted by those who say that the soul is a harmony.
And we have already admitted that no soul is more a soul than another; which is equivalent to admitting that harmony is not more or less harmony, or more or less completely a harmony?
And that which is not more or less a harmony is not more or less harmonized?
And that which is not more or less harmonized cannot have more or less of harmony, but only an equal harmony?
Yes, an equal harmony.
Then one soul not being more or less absolutely a soul than another, is not more or less harmonized?
And therefore has neither more nor less of discord, nor yet of harmony?
She has not.
And having neither more nor less of harmony or of discord, one soul has no more vice or virtue than another, if vice be discord and virtue harmony?
Not at all more.
Or speaking more correctly, Simmias, the soul, if she is a harmony, will never have any vice; because a harmony, being absolutely a harmony, has no part in the inharmonical.
And therefore a soul which is absolutely a soul has no vice?
How can she have, if the previous argument holds?
Then, if all souls are equally by their nature souls, all souls of all living creatures will be equally good?
I agree with you, Socrates, he said.
And can all this be true, think you? he said; for these are the consequences which seem to follow from the assumption that the soul is a harmony?
It cannot be true.
Once more, he said, what ruler is there of the elements of human nature other than the soul, and especially the wise soul? Do you know of any?
Indeed, I do not.
And is the soul in agreement with the affections of the body? or is she at variance with them? For example, when the body is hot and thirsty, does not the soul incline us against drinking? and when the body is hungry, against eating? And this is only one instance out of ten thousand of the opposition of the soul to the things of the body.
But we have already acknowledged that the soul, being a harmony, can never utter a note at variance with the tensions and relaxations and vibrations and other affections of the strings out of which she is composed; she can only follow, she cannot lead them?
It must be so, he replied.
And yet do we not now discover the soul to be doing the exact opposite — leading the elements of which she is believed to be composed; almost always opposing and coercing them in all sorts of ways throughout life, sometimes more violently with the pains of medicine and gymnastic; then again more gently; now threatening, now admonishing the desires, passions, fears, as if talking to a thing which is not herself, as Homer in the Odyssee represents Odysseus doing in the words —
'He beat his breast, and thus reproached his heart: Endure, my heart; far worse hast thou endured!'
Do you think that Homer wrote this under the idea that the soul is a harmony capable of being led by the affections of the body, and not rather of a nature which should lead and master them — herself a far diviner thing than any harmony?
Yes, Socrates, I quite think so.
Then, my friend, we can never be right in saying that the soul is a harmony, for we should contradict the divine Homer, and contradict ourselves.
True, he said.
Thus much, said Socrates, of Harmonia, your Theban goddess, who has graciously yielded to us; but what shall I say, Cebes, to her husband Cadmus, and how shall I make peace with him?