An Echo of Grace: Plato’s Doctrine of Gifts

Written by Patrick Harmon


The interpreter that undertakes to compare the works of Plato with the gospel must begin somewhere. Here I attempt to set out Plato’s view on gifts and divine dispensation, and would ask that you consider the two following texts:

“And this [grace] is a gift from God; not from you nor your deeds, so that no one should boast.”

Ephesians 2:8–9[1]

“Then according to our argument, Meno, it appears that if we become virtuous, we do so through a gift from the gods.”

Meno 100b2–3, cf., 99e4–100a3[2]

Recognizing the similarity between these two passages depends on an understanding of Plato’s deep and abiding interest in education (παιδεία). This interest echoes throughout all his work, and although it should be admitted that he sharpens the focus in certain dialogues more than in others (e.g., Meno, Republic, Protagoras, Gorgias, and Laws), it is not difficult to draw out observations and teachings that concern παιδεία from all his texts. Comprehensive exegesis on the topic would overrun the bounds of the space permitted to me here, but a general sense of the matter can be achieved with a few judiciously selected texts.

The School of Athens (1509-1511) by Raphael


I am interested in pointing out some similarities between the gospel doctrine of grace and gifts and Plato’s philosophy for various reasons, but most generally in the hope of coming to a greater understanding of God’s sovereign rule. It is my opinion that Greek philosophy helped to prepare the ground where the seed of the gospel was to be sown.[3] That is to say that the gospel message fell on ears that were in significant ways primed to receive it, and was articulated in concepts and categories already familiar to them. Plato’s propositions concerning education, of which the notion of gifts plays an important part, derive from natural philosophy. Of course the gospel’s doctrine of grace is not revealed in the same way; yet Plato’s account of gifts and what we might construe as similar in some aspects to grace may be compared to the gospel’s with some benefit, especially in the sense that one may see the preparatory providential hand of God at work in the development of key concepts that were certainly part of the cosmopolitan education of the Hellenized Mediterranean.

Plato’s Account

Plato’s account of education is dependent on his more general account of human nature. Human beings have the capacity to be educated (Republic 518b–519b). The body of a human being can be “educated” in the sense that it can undergo training (γυμνασία), but Plato’s pressing interest and the central focus of his account is the education of the soul (ψύχη).  It seems to me that this primary interest precedes and gives rise to propositions or accounts (in both cases, λόγοι) that can summarize significant insights and conclusions that Plato reached. The following three propositions are on the order of conclusions.  Through his study of both human nature and nature writ large, Plato established that:

  1. Humanity is radically separated from the divine.
  2. The law of the divine is written on the human heart.
  3. The fundamental desire of the human heart is reconciliation with the divine.

The fall depicted in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo


These propositions derive from empirical observation of worldly phenomena and by speculation concerning the antecedent causes of these phenomena. This is a method and paradigm common to human existence, and in its most rigorous application, constitutes the formalized practice of scientific investigation. We commonly understand this to be natural philosophy, or in Reformed terms, natural revelation. Plato’s arguments for these propositions derive from his empirical experience, his study of nature, and his speculation concerning the causes (or perhaps single cause) that generate(s) the phenomena of nature.

I do not expect the Reformed to balk at any of these propositions. Those who wish to examine texts that establish these propositions should begin with the texts noted below.[4]

All three propositions are universal statements concerning human nature. Each and every human’s condition is determined by these natural facts. There is no individual choice or special circumstance that will change their consequences in any way. Human beings are not free to do so.

1: Humanity is radically separated from the divine.

Consider the first proposition, that humanity is radically separated from the divine. The sense of separation follows from Plato’s famous distinction concerning the separate realms of the things that are and the things that are coming to be and passing away. The objects of human understanding are of two general types: the intelligible and the perceivable. The qualities of the two types are significant. The intelligible objects are none other than Plato’s paradigms, variously translated as forms, models, or patterns (παράδειγμα) or the ideals (ἰδέας εἶδιοι); and they are divine, immortal, immutable, immaterial, invisible, stable, predictable, orderly, good, etc.[5] They are objects grasped only by the intellect (νοῦς). The perceivable objects, on the other hand, are grasped first by the five senses and then “processed” by the powers or capacities of the human soul in a complex system of manifold judgments, memory, imagination, and advanced reasoning.  Of special note in regards to this division between types of being is the corresponding distinction between knowledge (ἐπιστήμη) and opinion (δόξα), and the consequences of that distinction. The intelligible, stable objects are objects of knowledge, while the objects of perception are the objects of opinions.[6] If we have a human to examine, we have a material creature that inhabits a material realm constantly in flux, within a manifold of sensible objects coming to be and passing away. The very furniture of human existence is unstable. The human cannot have certain reliable knowledge of the objects (including himself!) that surround him. He can only express opinions about them. The objects of knowledge, on the other hand, are not material. They are grasped by the mind through reason (λόγος), especially in the act of discovering and establishing the definitions of things. These intelligible objects have the quality of being in the fullest sense given their immutability. They are stable, predictable, and eternal. Conversely, the human experience, experienced as profoundly unstable and mortal, is fundamentally separated from divine things. The news of man’s separation from the divine (fallenness) was not news to Plato.

2. The law of the divine is written on the human heart.

As to the second proposition, that the law of the divine is written on the human heart, we see proof for this by comparing the orderly human life with its opposite. The orderly human life most often leads to happiness (εὐδαιμονία), generally construed as “living well.” Happiness is an outcome of education that depends on a complex set of necessary conditions; the most important of these is success in judgment—that is to say, managing well, hitting the mark (as opposed to missing it, i.e., ἡμαρτία, most often translated as “sin” in the Greek New Testament). This is particularly so in the context of managing an orderly household that is self-sufficient and produces orderly, educated citizens of the state; honoring and caring for one’s parents; managing the affairs of the city well, and benefitting its citizens; and behaving in a pious (εὐσεβής) manner. Such persons have wisdom (σοφία, φρόνησις, λόγος, etc.), and in this sense they are blessed (μακάριος). These types of persons will be rewarded in the afterlife, and in this case we see the sort of salvation that Plato describes.[7] In this life and after one can be happy, but how one is happy is not up to the individual. Happiness is achieved by living in such a way that corresponds to the divine, moral pattern which informs every human heart. It is not an unstable pattern; and although Plato makes concessions, as he must, for individuation, he argues that one cannot be happy unless they willingly allow the lawful pattern to reign over their souls.[8]

On the other hand, the disorderly life, one that does not conform to the pattern, results in the opposite, i.e., wretchedness (κακία). The reason for the disorderly man’s wretchedness lies in the conflict between his actual behavior and the law written upon his heart; they are not consonant (συμφωνία, “in harmony”) with one another (Timaeus 89d–90d; Laws 652a–673a; this second citation is translated below).[9]  This dissonance operates in both a conscious and unconscious mode. Whether this dissonance results from some misguided line of reasoning or some disorderly, hidden desire (cf. Republic 439e–440a for an example), lack of harmony with the divine in the human soul leads to sin and wretchedness.

It is worth noting a particular aspect of Plato’s method that leads to this evaluation of happiness and wretchedness. First, Plato believes that a person’s happiness is observable in a reliable, scientific way; and therefore, if you wish to know how people become happy, then you observe and study happy people in order to discover both what qualities they most often possess (in terms of virtues), and how they come to possess them (education). The result of this extended investigation was a comprehensive, persuasive account of human nature accompanied by a prescription for education that helped shape western civilization. Importantly for our focus, the account is one that addresses uncertainty concerning choice and merit. What makes you happy is not the result of some free choice, but you are certainly responsible for fulfilling the necessary conditions for happiness that are dictated by human nature, all of which concur with the law written upon the heart. Human nature has a pattern, and those who are happy or blessed conform to that pattern.[10]

3. The fundamental desire of the human heart is reconciliation with the divine.

Taking up the third proposition requires a description of the education of the blessed. The matter can be put quite simply. The blessed human (1) has gifts and (2) the opportunity to develop those gifts. The consequence of this conjunction (which is in fact a wildly confused and unpredictable manifold of conjunctions) is that the separation between the divine and the individual is reduced; that the individual lives in accordance with the law written upon his heart; and that the desire for reconciliation is partially satisfied in this life (especially when one is able to contemplate divine objects without distraction) and a virtuous life is rewarded in the next. Such is the consequence of grace in the sense of divine dispensation (θεία μοίρα) or blessedness in the fullest sense one may find in Plato. The blest are so because divine agency has granted them a set of innate gifts and has also granted them the circumstances in which those gifts may develop and thrive. Blessed people have a natural inclination for the good, the beautiful, the beneficial, etc.; but education is required to actualize their potential, and according to Plato, education consists of the process of turning them toward the correct things, the things worthy of study and veneration. It is an upward path, and as one travels that path one approaches divine things (Republic 514a–519b). The overwhelming force or cause of this need to approach the divine is love (ἔρος, ἀγάπη, φιλία; Symposium 201d—212c).

Plato names a set of gifts that are necessary for correct education by means of lists found at several different locations in the corpus. These lists do not match exactly, but most include the following: a person who can be educated to blessedness is by nature (φύσις) retentive (μνήμων), intelligent (εὐμαθής), magnificent (μεγαλοπρεπής), and graceful (εὔχαρις). These natural capacities, when developed by the correct sort of education, may eventually result in the possession of the cardinal virtues: wisdom (σοφία), moderation (σωφροσύνη), courage (ἀνδρεία), and justice or righteousness (δικαιοσύνη).

A representative passage that includes such a list and emphasizes the language of necessity can be found at Republic 486e–487a. The exchange is between Socrates and Glaucon and comes towards the end of the description of the education of the philosopher kings.

(S) Does it seem to you that any of the things we’ve discussed are unnecessary or inimical for the soul intent on grasping Being adequately in the end?

(G) No, they are surely necessary.

(S) How can anyone criticize a practice like this, one that no one can pursue adequately unless he is by nature retentive, intelligent, magnificent, graceful, endeared and akin to the truth, justice, courage, and moderation.[11]

The combination of the natural capacities and good education enables the soul that eagerly desires to be unified with the divine, the soul driven by love to “grasp Being adequately in the end,” the hope of doing just that. It is, however, only a hope. The conjunction of the necessary conditions just mentioned is not in itself sufficient for blessedness, and divine agency plays a part in at least two ways as far as gifts and grace are concerned.  All normal humans are born with the capacities of memory, reason, and the capacity to be educated, but they are not equally capable (Republic 370a). Some receive gifts, we might call them talents, in a degree that might distinguish the gifted from others. But these gifts require development, and that development is also a gift. Plato warns that those persons born gifted who do not receive the correct sort of education, those that are allowed to develop “in the midst of evil images like cattle in bad grass, plucking tufts all the day long, so that little by little a great evil comes to reside in their souls” (Republic 401b–c) are dangerous and miserable. The description of the poorly educated and, as a result unjust soul, is described at Republic 588b–590d, and such people are possible enemies of the state and bear watching (Republic 495a, 518e–519a; Laws 661b–c, 766a).

The possession of the cardinal virtues is an intermediate end (given that happiness or blessedness is the ultimate end) and counted as a successful educational outcome, but Plato adds to this set and includes other virtues such as the love of learning (Republic  376b–c, 411d, 475c, 485d, 490a, 535d, 581b), love of the noble, fine, beautiful (all of which collapse into the Good; Republic 400d–403c), the love of truth (Republic 485c–d), gracefulness (Republic 400c–401e, 486d, 588a; Laches 182d), and simplicity (Republic 400e; cf. Laws 679c). The most complete sort of good education results in a consonance (συμφωνία) residing in the mature soul that recognizes how fortunate (εὐτυχής ) he has been. Consider the following passage found at Laws 653a5–c4:

I say that the first childish perception of pleasure and pain in the young accompanies the nascent formation of virtue and vice in the soul. As to prudence and steadfast true opinion, one is fortunate to come by them even in old age. Indeed, only the perfect man comes to have these things and all the goods they entail. I reckon that education attends the first formation of virtue in a child. Clearly, when pleasure, love, pain, and hate are bred correctly in souls not yet capable of rational thought, then once they are so capable, those souls agree that they have become correctly accustomed to the proper habits. This agreement is the whole of virtue; but the portion that fosters the correct relation to pleasures and pains, so that one hates what it is necessary to hate from beginning to end, and likewise to love what should be loved, if this is taken as a definition and called “education,” then I think that you have defined it correctly.[12]

That which is true shares in divinity even if it is true opinion (ἀληθεῖς δόξας), and one has an obligation to act correctly (ὀρθῶς) as one becomes “accustomed to the proper habits” (ὁρθῶς εἰθίσθαι . . . ἐθῶν), to love and hate things that are necessary (here χρῆ, elsewhere ἀνάγκη) to love and hate. Truth is stable, and therefore necessitates consonance with the human soul and itself. The words “correctly,” “proper,” and “necessary” are terms denoting obligation, not freedom.

Plato & the Gospel

We are now in position to compare Plato’s notion of grace and gifts with that of the gospel’s conception of them. There is some advantage to be gained from comparing Greek terms. The use of χάρις and εὐχαρις (grace) differs significantly in the works of Plato when compared to the Greek New Testament. In Plato these two terms most often refer to the phenomena surrounding musical education. In context, grace is a gift, indicating both a quality of innate physical grace, especially when describing both the movements of a naturally graceful dancer, as well as the consequent graceful character of one who has received a correct musical education. The arguments for the benefits of a correct musical education, and the harmful effects of a bad one, are consistent across the corpus. Evidence for this can be found by comparing Republic  376e–403c, a work written in Plato’s middle years, with Laws, his last work, at 652a–673a (of particular interest is the discussion of χαρίς at 667d–668a). There is nothing explicit that differs from this teaching that occurs in the earlier “socratic” dialogues. To the Reformed ear, such a teaching might echo a familiar teaching concerning gifts. This is not to say that one could not make an argument for a stronger relationship between the Platonic use of these terms with a Reformed doctrine of grace, but such a task would require shouldering  an interpretive burden beyond the scope of this article.

El Greco’s View of Mount Sinai


More closely akin might be the idea conveyed by the term μακάριος (blessedness). For Plato this would describe a person who (1) has been blessed with the natural capacities mentioned above; (2) has received the sort of education that properly developed these gifts; (3) has lived a life in accordance with the pattern written upon the human heart; (4) and has been liberated from the body (the flesh) and drawn near to the divine. The same passages cited just now pertain, along with those that describe the blessed after life, in particular the famous Myth of Er (Republic 614b–621d).

Even more closely aligned is the use of the words σώςω (to save from death) and σῶς (safe), and there are other etymologically related words. There are twenty-five uses of σώςω in Republic and thirty-five uses in Laws, but to my mind the most interesting comes at the end of the aforementioned Myth of Er and close to the conclusion of the Republic. There we are told that the myth was not lost, but preserved, and if we paid heed to it and were persuaded by it, ἡμᾶς ἂν σώσειεν, it would save us (Republic 621c1). The Greek New Testament uses this word 138 times, its first occurence found at Acts 2:21.

Even more profitable than a comparison of terms is the comparison of concepts. Therefore, considering the concepts I’ve described above, here is what I argue Plato and the gospel have in common: on both accounts divine agency is the source of gifts, and the dispensation of these gifts is ultimately unpredictable, ineffable, immutable, and freely given (in every metaphysical and practical sense).[13] The works of providence are, and will ultimately remain, beyond the ken of human beings. Human beings are separated from the divine, yet they love the divine and long to be united with it, but to do so requires harmony and kinship between the human soul and the divinely established, lawful pattern.

Philip Melanchthon argued that Plato was less beneficial than Aristotle insofar as the latter was much more straightforward when presenting his method and teaching. He did not mean that the two arrived at wildly different conclusions. In fact Melanchthon asserts that they agree on most points (they certainly agree on education). What Melanchton recommends is that the novice begin with Aristotle, and by doing so he will grasp more readily Plato’s convoluted presentation. Melanchthon duly warns that Plato is not to be confused with the gospel on the grounds that natural revelation cannot discover the mystery of salvation, but he does describe what Plato accomplished. He tells us that the conclusions of “true philosophy” (like Plato’s) have some notion of, or kinship with, divine laws. Such a philosophy, he writes,

[R]ecognizes that there is a God, it judges on civic morals, it sees that this distinction between worthy and vile acts is implanted in us by divine providence, it considers that horrid crimes are punished by God, and it also has some presentiment of immortality.[14]

I agree. Plato successfully worked his way to these conclusions, as well as the propositions I set out earlier. I also agree, as I must, that natural revelation cannot discover the doctrine of salvation.[15]

There is, however, another very important way that Plato diverges from the gospel. As I’ve shown, the love of the divine and the human desire to approach it are taught by Plato. I’ve described the education that takes one on an upward path, increasing in understanding and wisdom (think sanctification), striving for reconciliation. What Plato does not allow for is the possibility that the universal human love for the divine is reciprocated by the divine itself. We love God and desire to be reconciled with him, but Plato is silent on the possibility that God would desire to reconcile with us. It is true that the creator/craftsman/god of Timaeus is “without jealousy” in his creative act, but he is motivated by his love for the forms to create (to imitate the Good, primarily), not for the love of the world (κόσμος).[16]

More significantly, the gospel story would appear to be a logical impossibility for Plato in a very fundamental way; he explicitly denies the possibility of the incarnation. The reason for this can be found (most succinctly among others) in Republic 381b–e, where Socrates argues against the traditional prevailing myths that portray the gods as conniving, lustful, false, and mutable. His view on this is stated during an extended critique of poetry vis à vis the kind of stories the young will be told in the course of their education.[17] Stories that feature the gods behaving like humans (but assisted in their crimes by possessing supernatural shape-shifting powers) will only serve to corrupt the characters of the young, and they should not be raised on such harmful ideas. The traditional popular notion that the gods change shape and take on different forms in order to do wicked things is harmful to the souls that hear it. Being good in the most complete way, gods are by nature unable to change from that state. Furthermore, they could not willingly become something lesser and still be good. They could not logically relinquish or change their perfectly good natures and still be perfectly good. Socrates declares that the gods are good, and that being good, they would never reduce themselves to something that was lesser in nature.[18]

This notion, however, directly contradicts Scripture at Philippians 2:5–7:

[Christ Jesus] who, though as in the form of God,

Did not consider equality with God

To be like a prize to cling to

But instead relinquished his privilege

Taking for Himself the form of a slave

Becoming in image like men

And was revealed in the form of a man.[19]

This cannot be reconciled with Plato’s philosophy concerning divine dispensation, nor with Aristotle’s description of the famous unmoved mover. The divergence is plain. The concept of God’s love for his creation, the incarnation of Christ and his sacrifice, the resurrection, and the salvation that flows as its consequence, is not only foreign to Plato’s thought, it is directly denied. Furthermore, these things cannot be discovered by “the light of nature.”

Plato’s notion of grace follows a logical sequence, one of necessary and sufficient conditions intimately connected with his corresponding logic of education. Education, generally speaking, is conjunction of the innate gifts with the experiential process that determines an individual’s character. Good education is well-guided experience (instilled by habituation and formal teaching) that correctly orients the pupil toward the Good, and in the process teaches the pupil how to discern the Good from its opposite on his own. The truly blessed person has both the initial gifts and the opportunity and perseverance to actualize them.

The distinctions between the Platonic doctrine of grace and that of the gospel could not be more obvious. There are perhaps some features of Plato’s account that are more distant from the gospel and the Westminster Confession of Faith than others. Plato’s work, however, is the effort of a man of good will. His philosophy evinces a love of both humanity and the divine, as well as a desire to benefit his fellow man in the best spirit of agape. It can teach us much; and its arguments, as well as Aristotle’s,  can readily be deployed and brought to bear in the practice of apologetics.

Patrick Harmon (Ph.D., 2009, The Catholic University of America) is an Adjunct Professor at Valdosta State University where he lectures on Logic, History of Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Cosmology, and Aesthetics. He lives with his wife and son in Live Oak, Florida.


[1] Καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται.

[2] Here are the two texts: Meno 100b2–3: Ἐκ μὲν τοίνυν τούτου τοῦ λογισμοῦ, ὦ Μένων, θείᾳ μοίρᾳ ἡμῖν φαίνεται παραγιγνομένη ἡ ἀρετὴ οἷς ἂν παραγίγνηται·; 99e5–100a1:  ἀρετὴ ἂν εἴη οὔτε φύσει οὔτε διδακτόν, ἀλλὰ θείᾳ μοίρᾳ παραγιγνομένη ἄνευ νοῦ οἷς ἂν παραγίγνηται; and cf. Republic 418e4–6. These translations and the ones that follow are my own. Scriptural passages rely on the Nestle-Aland critical text Novum Testamentum Graece (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993). The passages from Plato rely on various Oxford critical texts: Platonis Opera, in 5 vols., ed. John Burnet (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903); with the exceptions of R. S. Bluck’s critical edition of Meno (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961); and S. R. Slings’ edition of Republic (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).

[3] This is not an original idea by any stretch of the imagination. Tertullian was one of the first to ask “what has Jerusalem to do with Athens?” (De praescriptione haereticorum, chap. 7), and since then many authors have vigorously pursued the question. I would recommend two recent works on the subject: see George Karamanolis’ The Philosophy of Early Christianity (Slough: Acumen Publishing Ltd, 2013), which also contains a helpful bibliography; and also the winsome work of Abraham J. Malherbe in the collection of essays in Light From the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity, ed. Carl R. Holladay, John T. Fitzgerald, Gregory E. Sterling, and James W. Thompson (Leiden: Brill, 2015).

[4] This note cites different texts offered in evidence for the propositions. The first proposition is established through study of Plato’s accounts concerning the Forms and Love. Texts that focus on the Forms and are often cited can be found at Republic 504d–517e, 595c–599b; Timaeus 27c–29d, 51b–55c, 69a–d, 89d–90d; Phaedo 73a–83c, 100c–102a. The most significant text on Love can be found in Symposium. I highly recommend it in its entirety, but particularly the famous sequential speeches of Agathon 194e–198a and Diotima 201d–212c. Also see Phaedrus 244b–252c, which is also valuable as evidence for my argument. As to the third proposition, all of the texts mentioned above in this note can be taken in evidence. Among them the most concise texts to consider are Timaeus 89d–90d and Symposium 201d–212c.

[5] Similar to the attributes of God mentioned in The Westminster Confession of Faith 2:1, 5: I–V, et al.

[6] Knowledge is knowledge simply, with all the qualities mentioned. Opinion, however, comes in a variety of types; simple opinion, the sort of opinion that is newly formed and unexamined; right opinion (ὀρθόδοξος), the sort of opinion that accurately predicts outcomes and is the product of examination, study, instruction, and the like; and also belief or faith (πίστις). All of these (and the list is by no means complete) have as theirs objects things that are in flux, things that are coming to be and passing away.

[7] Cf., among others, “The Myth of Er,” in Republic 614b–621d; Timaeus 42a–d, 89d–90d; Phaedo 63e–68b.

[8] I think the most succinct text available to us to establish proposition 2 is Timaeus 89d–90d (also mentioned in n4 above).

[9] Laws 652a–673a is translated in nN. 13 below.

[10] The second proposition would be familiar to scholastic philosophers as the phenomenon of synderesis. An interesting and informative account can be found in Douglas Kries’ Origen, Plato, and Conscience (Synderesis) in Jerome’s Ezekiel Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

[11] Republic 486e1–487a5:

Τί οὖν; μή πῃ δοκοῦμέν σοι οὐκ ἀναγκαῖα ἕκαστα διεληλυθέναι καὶ ἑπόμενα ἀλλήλοις τῇ μελλούσῃ τοῦ ὄντος ἱκανῶς τε καὶ τελέως ψυχῇ μεταλήψεσθαι;

Ἀναγκαιότατα μὲν οὖν, ἔφη.

Ἔστιν οὖν ὅπῃ μέμψη τοιοῦτον ἐπιτηδευμα, ὃ μή ποτ᾿ ἄν τις οἷός τε γένοιτο ἱκανῶς ἑπιτηδεῦσαι, εἰ μὴ φύσει εἴη μνήμων, εὐμαθής, μεγαλο πρεπής, εὔχαρις, φίλος τε καὶ συγγενὴς ἀληθείας, δικαιοσύνης, ἀνδρείας, σωφροσύνης;

  1. c Republic 433b, 591b; Laws 639a–b, 964b–965d; Meno 88a–b; Gorgias 492a; Phaedo 69b–c

[12] Laws 653a5–c4: ΑΘ. Λέγω τοίνυν τῶν παίδων παιδικὴν εἶναι πρώτην αἴσθησιν ἡδονὴν καὶ λύπην, καὶ ἐν οἷς ἀρετὴ ψυχῇ καὶ κακία παραγίγνεται πρῶτον, ταῦτ᾿ εἶναι, φρόνησιν δὲ καὶ ἀληθεῖς δόξας βεβαίους εὐτυχὲς ὅτῳ καὶ πρὸς τὸ γῆρας παρεγένετο· τέλεος δ᾿ οὖν ἔστ᾿ ἄνθρωπος ταῦτα καὶ τὰ ἐν τούτοις πάντα κεκτημένος ἀγαθά. παιδείαν δὴ λέγω τὴν παραγιγνομένην πρῶτον παισὶν ἀρετήν· ἡδονὴ δὴ καὶ φιλία καὶ λύπη καὶ μῖσος ἂν ὀρθῶς ἐν ψυχαῖς ἐγγίγνωνται μήπω δυναμένων λόγῳ λαμβάνειν, λαβόντων δὲ τὸν λόγον, συμφωνήσωσι τῷ λόγῳ ὀρθῶς εἰθίσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν προσηκόντων ἐθῶν, αὕτη ᾿σθ᾿ ἡ συμφωνία σύμπασα μὲν ἀρετή, τὸ δὲ περὶ τὰς ἡδονὰς καὶ λύπας τεθραμμένον αὐτῆς ὀρθῶς ὥστε μισεῖν μὲν ἃ χρὴ μισεῖν εὐθὺς ἐξ ἀρχῆς μέχρι τέλους, στέργειν δὲ ἃ χρὴ στέργειν, τοῦτ᾿ αὐτὸ ἀποτεμὼν τῷ λόγῳ καὶ παιδείαν προσαγορεύων, κατά γε τὴν ἐμὴν ὀρθῶς ἂν προσαγορεύοις.

[13] Pace Westminster Confession of Faith, 2:1.

[14] Philip Melanchthon, “On Plato,” in Orations on Philosophy and Education, ed. Sachiko Kusukawa, trans. Christina F. Salazar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) 203.

[15] Pace Westminster Confession of Faith, 1:1.

[16] Timaeus 29d–31a.

[17] This is the predominant subject matter of Republic Books II and III.

[18] Cf. Timaeus 41a–d.

[19] Philippians 2:6-7:

ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων

οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο

τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεὦ,

ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν

μορφὴ δούλου λαβών

ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος

καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος.