My dear Kacvey,
While concerns of injustice, oppression and corruption have dominated the mind of honest and hard-working Cambodians, let have a short break from that and listen to Socrates’s voice through Diogenes Laertius’s writings.
Here are some of the anecdotes:
Once, Alcibiades offered Socrates, a man of great independence and dignity of character, a large site on which to build a house; but he replied, “Suppose, then, I wanted shoes and you offered me a whole hide to make a pair with, would it not be ridiculous in me to take it?”
Often when he looked at the multitude of wares exposed for sale, he would say to himself, “How many things I can do without!”
He used to say it was strange that, if you asked a man how many sheep he had, he could easily tell you the precise number; whereas he could not name his friends or say how many he had, so slight was the value he set upon them.
He said: There is only one good, that is knowledge, and only one evil, that is, ignorance; wealth and good birth bring their possessor no dignity, but on the contrary evil.
He used to say that to make a good start was no trifling advantage, but a trifle turned the scale; and that he knew nothing except just the fact of his ignorance.
Once he was asked in what consisted the virtue of a young man, he said, “In doing nothing to excess.”
Some one asked him whether he should marry or not, and received the reply, “Whichever you do you will repent it.”
He used to express his astonishment that the sculptors of marble statues should take pains to make the block of marble into a perfect likeness of a man, and should take no lest they should turn out mere blocks, not men.
He recommended to the young the constant use of the mirror, to the end that handsome men might acquire a corresponding behaviour, and ugly men conceal their defects by education.
He had invited some rich men and, when his wife, Xanthippe, said she felt ashamed of the dinner, “Never mind,” said he, “for if they are reasonable they will put up with it, and if they are good for nothing, we shall not trouble ourselves about them.”
He would say that the rest of the world lived to eat, while he himself ate to live.
To one who said to him, “You are condemned by the Athenians to die,” he made answer, “So are they, by nature.”
When he was told that So-and-so spoke ill of him, he replied, “True, for he has never learned to speak well.”
To one who said to him, “Don’t you find So-and-so very offensive?” his reply was , “No, for it takes two to make a quarrel.”
He used to say that we ought not to object to be subjects for the Comic poets, for if they satirize our faults they will do us good, and if not they do not touch us.