Exercise the mind and body

Socrates: “Do you not notice how those who are involved with physical education throughout their lives, but have nothing to do with the arts, develop a particular type of mind? Or again, those who do the opposite?”

Glaucon: “What are you talking about?”

“Roughness and hardness as opposed to softness and gentleness,” I said.

“I get it,” he said: “you mean that those who indulge in nothing but physical training end up rougher than necessary, while those who indulge in the arts become softer than is really good for them.”

“There again,” I said, “the spirited part of their nature may produce a roughness, and if rightly nurtured it might be manly, but applied more than is necessary, it would in all likelihood become intractable and recalcitrant.”

“I think so,” he said.

“What then? Wouldn’t a philosopher’s nature have a gentleness in it and, if it were allowed to go too far, wouldn’t it be softer than need be? But if it were nurtured in the right way wouldn’t it be gentle and orderly?”

“That is right.”

           Plato, The Republic, Book III, 410c


Σωκράτης: Οὐκ ἐννοεῖς, εἶπον, ὡς διατίθενται αὐτὴν τὴν διάνοιαν οἳ ἂν γυμναστικῇ μὲν διὰ βίου ὁμιλήσωσιν, μουσικῆς δὲ μὴ ἅψωνται; ἢ αὖ ὅσοι ἂν τοὐναντίον διατεθῶσιν;

Τίνος δέ, ἦ δ’ ὅς, πέρι λέγεις;

Ἀγριότητός τε καὶ σκληρότητος, καὶ αὖ μαλακίας τε καὶ ἡμερότητος, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ—

Ἔγωγε, ἔφη· ὅτι οἱ μὲν γυμναστικῇ ἀκράτῳ χρησάμενοι ἀγριώτεροι τοῦ δέοντος ἀποβαίνουσιν, οἱ δὲ μουσικῇ μαλακώτεροι αὖ γίγνονται ἢ ὡς κάλλιον αὐτοῖς.

Καὶ μήν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, τό γε ἄγριον τὸ θυμοειδὲς ἂν τῆς φύσεως παρέχοιτο, καὶ ὀρθῶς μὲν τραφὲν ἀνδρεῖον ἂν εἴη, μᾶλλον δ’ ἐπιταθὲν τοῦ δέοντος σκληρόν τε καὶ χαλεπὸν γίγνοιτ’ ἄν, ὡς τὸ εἰκός.

Δοκεῖ μοι, ἔφη.

Τί δέ; τὸ ἥμερον οὐχ ἡ φιλόσοφος ἂν ἔχοι φύσις, καὶ μᾶλλον μὲν ἀνεθέντος αὐτοῦ μαλακώτερον εἴη τοῦ δέοντος, καλῶς δὲ τραφέντος ἥμερόν τε καὶ κόσμιον;

Ἔστι ταῦτα.



I don’t think I have to ask whether you think this is true today. It seems fairly obvious.

In order to exercise our minds, we must have a sound body. Even Seneca agreed to this fact. Yet I think today people do not place this into high in their minds. Somehow they think working all the time or reading or studying all the time will somehow make up for the loss in strength or body tone. Most people give up also after they get married. THIS I BELIEVE IS WRONG. Your health is always important even if you met that special someone who is buff or beautiful. But take note, they like you for who you are now and not always for what happens later (let’s be real here).

So take care of yourself, both of you, in mind [Ψυχῇ] and body [σώματι] and live a much happier and fuller life. Don’t let yourself go in either respect. Make it routine and habit to get in shape but always take heed about what was said above; it must be supplemented with literature, philosophy, and learning, etc. I don’t mean going to the opera, reading the newspaper, or seeing a show on broadway.  These are  contemporary things that usually have no basis in Ancient Greek or Roman thought. They are usually barren and just entertainment. Think about it. Be a life long learner of literature. See The Great Courses.com on the web for this part and read ancient literature.

Ancient Literature or an Education in the Muses can make you better. Read, write, listen to music, learn an instrument, learn another language, and practice philosophy.

Am I wrong?


Apollo Kitharoidos


Above Apollo, god of music, represents the ideal to strive for, a mixture of beauty and mind. But also let us be practical, we all can’t look like Apollo or Aphrodite. The point is to strive for the best while you are able.


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