At the Gates of Hell:
Do Socrates and Ion have a snowball's chance?
Erin Martel, '09 and Madeleine Laupheimer, '10
Socrates: Greetings, Ion! Have you come from your home in Ephesus?
Ion: No, you idiot. I've been rhapsodizing in the Elysian Fields.
Socrates: They still have contests there? How did you do?
Ion: It was a living hell. They all wanted to hear about themselves and there were too many of them to fit them all in. I think I did all right in the end
Socrates: Congratulations. You must speak quite well, to impress the denizens of hell.
Ion: I'm the best.
Socrates: I so envy you rhapsodes your great skill and wisdom. I am but a simple man, on a simple pilgrimage for truth. A journey. (pause— Ion is examining the architecture.) A Quest, if you will.
Ion: Well, I've got what I came here for (shakes a bag of silver). I made them cry like anything! Not a laugher in the house. Ephesus, ho! Which of these do you think is the Horn Gate?
Socrates: Horn Gate? But the Ivory Gate is the exit.
Ion: No, it's the Horn Gate.
Socrates: Surely it is not by or by that you know this.
Ion: You speak the truth Socrates. It was all those tragic and beautiful maidens hanging around Homer.
Socrates: So it is not by or that you know this.
Ion: That's what I just said.
Socrates: So you know this by your manly qualities, for which the maidens admired you, and offered this piece of advice.
Socrates: But what is it that these manly qualities consist of, Ion?
Ion: I'm sure you would know much better than I, Socrates. For I so admire you wise men who speak so well.
Socrates: No, you speak well, Ion.
Ion: No, you speak well, Socrates.
Socrates: But surely it is you who speaks best, Ion.
Ion: No you.
Socrates: I will make time for this later. But first, answer me the following: Is it by the depth of you eyes or by the curl of your hair that you attract these maidens so?
Ion: I'm sure it depends on the maiden.
Socrates: So if one maiden could say whose eyes were deep and whose were not, could she then say that the curl of his hair was appealing or not?
Socrates: And every maiden knows which man is attractive.
Socrates: Well then? What if these maidens do not agree? If one should think the eyes are appealing and the hair is not, and the other should find the eyes dull but the hair divine, then there must be no skill in judging the parts of a man, for both will agree that as a whole the man is attractive. Do you need me to explain what I mean by this, Ion?
Ion: No, I beg you. By your father and your mother and your knees.
Socrates: Knees? Well, maidens don't generally use knees as a criterion, but I suppose they could. Yours are a bit boney, though... anyway, you agree then that there is no skill to judge a man's qualities?
Ion: You speak the truth, w Socrates.
Socrates: Then there can be no skill in judging a man as a whole.
Ion: I suppose not. Yet I know that maidens find me attractive as a whole, and everyone says that I am the most attractive of men who have ever yet lived to walk among the dead.
Socrates: Indeed, but is not byor that these maidens know you are , but by
Ion: Must be.
Socrates: the god is like a magnet, which pulls rings toward it and imparts to the rings the power to pull other rings. So are the maidens, inspired and possessed by the god, pulled toward attractive men. Thus some maidens are pulled to one man, and others to another, but, like the iron bits, no one maiden is pulled to more than one man, and once she has become attached to a man, it is difficult to separate her from him.
Ion: Indeed Socrates, you speak the truth.
Socrates: the maidens who were attracted to you will not wish you to leave.
Ion: Of course not.
Socrates: And they will lie to you, and tell you the wrong gate, in order to keep you here.
Ion: You speak well Socrates, but I do not think you can speak well enough to persuade me that these fine young women spoke falsely.
Socrates: Come, come, you cannot have it both ways. Either you are ugly and they're telling you the truth, or you're stupid and you believe deceitful maidens.
Ion: I must be stupid then, Socrates. Let's go through the ivory gate.
Socrates: In our eyes, then, you will forever more, be stupid and pretty.
They walk arm and arm through the Ivory Gate.