Charmides

by: Plato

Important Quotes

And all the people in the palaestra crowded about us, and at that moment, my good friend, I caught a sight of the inwards of [Charmides's] garment, and took the flame. Then I could no longer contain myself.

At this moment (155d), toward the beginning of the dialogue, Charmides is just coming over and sitting down with Socrates. Clearly, Socrates's reaction to this simple action is overwhelming, a bit sneaky, and certainly far from what we now think of as "philosophical." But learning and love are intimately bound up in Athenian society at the time: the love of an older man for a young man was not only accepted, but idealized as a kind of teacher-student relationship in which wisdom was to be imparted. Nonetheless, the kind of bawdy and intimate narrative—emphasized by Socrates confiding in us as his "good friend"—drops out for much of the "philosophical" debate, leaving us to wonder what the framing device of uncontrollable desire has to do with the intense discussion of the "knowledge of knowledge."