Ariel Helfer

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

David Leibowitz

Second Advisor

Pamela Jensen


The Charmides is a dialogue in which the question “What is moderation?” is addressed by Socrates and two future tyrants: the beautiful young Charmides, and his cousin and guardian, Critias. Besides being an investigation of moderation, the Charmides also treats thematically the subject of Socrates' strange way of life; in particular, his characteristic examinations of others, and his association with beautiful boys of whom Charmides is himself one. By having Socrates converse with two tyrants-to-be about moderation, Plato means to show us something about the political importance of moderation, and the way in which immoderation might lead to tyranny. Simultaneously, Plato shows us how moderation is important to Socrates' own, philosophic way of life. Thus we have a juxtaposition of the political and philosophic lives, with the ultimate result that moderation, properly understood, directs one away from the former and toward the latter.

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