“When we hear any other speaker he produces no effect upon us, or not much; whereas the mere fragments of Socrates and his words amaze and possess the soul of every man.
My heart leaps within me and my eyes rain tears when I hear them. I have heard Pericles and other great orators, and I think they speak well, but my soul was not stirred by them. But Socrates has often brought me to such a pass that I have felt as if I could hardly endure the life I am leading, and I know that if I did not shut my ears against him he would transfix me, and I should grow old sitting at his feet.
For he makes me confess that I ought not to live as I do, neglecting the wants of my own soul; therefore I hold my ears and tear myself away from him.
He is the only person who ever made me ashamed, for I know that I cannot answer him; but when I leave his presence the love of popularity gets the better of me, and therefore I run away and fly from him, and am ashamed of what I have confessed to him. Many a time I wished that he were dead, and yet I know that I should be much more sorry than glad if he were to die.”
Wow, what a powerful and convicting quote. Socrates was one of the world’s great minds, and no doubt not a stranger to his soul but what this quote makes me think is that although great wisdom has a strong appeal, yet it has no destination. Where could this young man take his feelings of shame? Not to Socrates, because as wise as he was, he was but a man and he would join the state of the dead and what would the young man be left with. But we preach Jesus, and when the state of our soul is discovered we have a destination; we have a remedy that is not temporal and not in a man, but we go to the living God that can relieve the shame, empower the will, and change the soul.
Painting by Henryk Siemiradzki