Now in that Age of Pericles there was a great interest in men and all that concerned human life. Socrates loved to talk with men. This put him in especial sympathy with the Pythagoreans, who valued human souls and said that men are immortal. Pythagoras, the founder of that school of thought in the previous century, had organized a brotherhood of students, bound to each other by ties of religion, austere life, and high thinking. This brotherhood had tried to influence and improve the political life of the cities where they lived. In the days of Socrates they had given up politics, but never had lost their religious and human interest. Not only did they work in healing, in astronomy, in music, and in geometry; they wanted to find the essence of justice, beauty, life, and health. Such essences seemed to give all the reality to human life. The Pythagoreans conceived of them, strangely enough, as somehow mixed up with geometry. Indeed, we ourselves are apt to speak of justice as the square thing; but this metaphor of ours was perhaps a reality to their minds. Different forms or shapes, cubes, spheres, pyramids, triangles, circles, and squares, may have seemed to them the essences of the world, and they took a Greek word, which meant form in those times, to express their notion of essence; in that sense they tried to find the ideas of beauty, or of temperance, or of health. Socrates, being interested in this line of thought, made up his mind to find the ideas. But he was not satisfied with such a geometrical notion of things as the Pythagoreans seem to have held. He wanted to talk with men, and study life as it was reflected in human thoughts, hoping thus to get clearer notions of reality which would be practical help to himself and others. A thing is made beautiful by the beauty in it. What is beauty? This was an important question for a Greek thinker; and to find the ideally beautiful life might be worth our effort also. An act is made just by the justice in it. What is the essence of justice? We and Socrates alike want to know that. Socrates found such inquiries puzzling, and was reduced to a kind of despair.

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