SOCRATES: What troubles you, dear Glaucon?
GLAUCON: I was in the market today buying figs, and an old man in rags asked if I could spare a drachma or two. Even though I could have spared several, I told him I could spare none. I knew if I gave him money, he would buy wine to satiate the very vice responsible for his pitiful condition. It got me thinking about ethics. I wonder, Socrates, was it wrong of me to withhold money from that beggar, even though I knew he would use it to harm himself?
SOCRATES: Is it wrong to withhold a merciful death from a wounded horse, Glaucon?
GLAUCON: Well…yes, I suppose…
FRANKIOS: He asked you about giving charity, Athena. Nobody said anything about a horse.
SOCRATES: Yes, I know, Frank — it’s called an analogy. That’s what I’m trying to do. Make an analogy. And if you’re trying to get a rise out of me by calling me Athena, it won’t work. Now be quiet.
FRANKIOS: Sure thing.
SOCRATES: Thank you. Now Glaucon, would you care to respond to my question?
GLAUCON: Of course, wise Socrates. I do believe it’s wrong to withhold a merciful death from a wounded horse…unless the animal could eventually be healed.
SOCRATES: Ah! Now we’re getting somewhere! But what, sweet Glaucon, if the horse does not want to be healed? What if the horse simply wants to die so the pain will stop?
GLAUCON: I suppose in that case…
FRANKIOS: A suicidal horse. Yeah, I’ve heard that’s been a real problem lately. Just a bunch of horses offing themselves all over Greece.
SOCRATES: Shut up, Frank. I’m simply trying to illustrate a point. If you’ll freaking let me.
FRANKIOS: All right, Hera, take it easy.
SOCRATES: Dammit, you piss me off sometimes.
GLAUCON: Um, Socrates? Hi. As I was saying, one should of course try to heal the wounded horse, even if the horse does not want to be healed.
SOCRATES: Yes yes, and why is that, precious Glaucon?
GLAUCON: Because the horse cannot think for itself. It doesn’t understand that by enduring the pain long enough to be healed, it can live a long, healthy life.
SOCRATES: And if the horse could think for itself, what then?
GLAUCON: Well then I suppose…
FRANKIOS: What if the horse could crap magical rainbows? As long as we’re making stuff up.
SOCRATES: Honestly Frank, if you’re not going to take this seriously…
GLAUCON: What kind of magical rainbows?
SOCRATES: Don’t listen to him, Glaucon! He’s trying to sabotage our discussion!
FRANKIOS: Just your standard magical rainbows — cure any sickness, slow the aging process, enhance sexual performance — you know the kind.
SOCRATES: Stop this at once!
GLAUCON: Oh I see. I hadn’t heard of those before, but it sounds like a magical rainbow-crapping horse would be very valuable indeed. I suppose in that case, one should heal the wounded horse for the good of mankind.
SOCRATES: What? No!
FRANKIOS: Yes, Glaucon, now we’re getting somewhere…
GLAUCON: So what you’re really saying, Frankios, is that one cannot be certain which wounded horses can crap rainbows and which ones cannot…
FRANKIOS: Something like that.
SOCRATES: No, he isn’t! Do you see him smirking?!
GLAUCON: So it’s best to heal all of the wounded horses, just in case…
FRANKIOS: Sure, why not.
GLAUCON: And you’re also saying, unless I’m mistaken, that any beggar on the street might also possess an amazing talent which could be invaluable to society — just as any wounded horse might possess the ability to crap magical rainbows…
SOCRATES: He isn’t saying that at all! I’m the one who’s wise! Listen to me!
FRANKIOS: Yes, Glaucon, go on…
GLAUCON: So earlier today in the market, I was right not to give that beggar any money. If I had given him money, he would have bought wine…and it’s the wine that’s killing him! I was actually saving his life so society could potentially benefit from an amazing talent that he might possess!
FRANKIOS: Couldn’t have said it better myself.
SOCRATES: Why, Frank?! Why do you always do this to me?!
GLAUCON: It’s all so clear now. Thank you, wise Frankios.
SOCRATES: You once convinced father I was a nymph! Remember?!
FRANKIOS: It’s really no problem, Glaucon, I’m just glad I could help.
SOCRATES: I’ll kill you! This time I’m really going to kill you!
FRANKIOS: Did you say something, Aphrodite?