A Real Love of Wisdom: Euclides Risked Death to Hear Socrates Speak

Taurus is a figure who appears elsewhere in Aulus Gellius’ anecdotes, also complaining about contemporary students…

Gellius, Attic Nights, 7.11

“An account of Euclides, a socratic, whose example the philosopher Taurus used to offer to students to encourage them to pursue philosophy doggedly.

The philosopher Taurus, a man praised in recent memory in Platonic studies, when he was encouraging students to apply themselves to philosophy with many wholesome and useful examples, especially used to stimulate young minds with an anecdote about what Euclides the Socratic used to do. He said “the Athenians had warned with a decree that if anyone who was a citizen of Megara set foot in Athens he should be arrested and that the punishment would be death. That is how great,” he continued, “a hatred was burning among the Athenians for their neighbors the Megarians. Then Euclides, who was in fact from Megara also, and who, before that decree, was in the habit of traveling to Athens to hear Socrates, after the decree, at night, when darkness was falling, would don the long tunic of a woman, and wrapped in a multicolor cloak with a veil across his face, he would travel from his own home in Megara to see Socrates so that he might spent at least some of the night present for his teaching and conversations. Again, before dawn, he used to return again from a distance a little more than twenty miles, clothed in the same way. But now,” Taurus continued,” it is more likely to see philosophers running to the doors of rich young men to teach them, only to set and wait until midday at their doors, until their students sleep off the last night’s wine.”

Historia super Euclida Socratico, cuius exemplo Taurus philosophus hortari adulescentes suos solitus ad philosophiam naviter sectandam.

1 Philosophus Taurus, vir memoria nostra in disciplina Platonica celebratus, cum aliis bonis multis salubribusque exemplis hortabatur ad philosophiam capessendam, tum vel maxime ista re iuvenum animos expergebat, Euclidem quam dicebat Socraticum factitavisse. 2 “Decreto” inquit “suo Athenienses caverant, ut, qui Megaris civis esset, si intulisse Athenas pedem prensus esset, ut ea res ei homini capitalis esset; 3 tanto Athenienses” inquit “odio flagrabant finitimorum hominum Megarensium. 4 Tum Euclides, qui indidem Megaris erat quique ante id decretum et esse Athenis et audire Socratem consueverat, postquam id decretum sanxerunt, sub noctem, cum advesperasceret, tunica longa muliebri indutus et pallio versicolore amictus et caput rica velatus e domo sua Megaris Athenas ad Socratem commeabat, ut vel noctis aliquo tempore consiliorum sermonumque eius fieret particeps, rursusque sub lucem milia passuum paulo amplius viginti eadem veste illa tectus redibat. 5 At nunc” inquit “videre est philosophos ultro currere, ut doceant, ad fores iuvenum divitum eosque ibi sedere atque opperiri ad meridiem, donec discipuli nocturnum omne vinum edormiant.”

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