The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

Document Type


Publication Date



On the level of ideas the dialogue remains incomplete. A satisfactory conception of courage is never formulated. On the level of personalities, however, there is a solution, in the person of Socrates. He has fought bravely at Delium and has matched or surpassed Laches in steadfastness. But he can also examine courage rationally and realizes the importance of knowledge to virtue, like Nicias. Neither Laches nor Nicias is fully worthy as a person of courage, as Socrates is. But there is a harmony between the incomplete definitions they offer and their own characters. The unity of the Laches is both a piece of dramatic literature and an essay in philosophy, and the purposes of the dramatist and the philosopher are in perfect agreement.


Michael J. O’Brien presented “The Unity of the Laches” to the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy at its meeting with the American Philological Association in Baltimore, 1962. It was published in Yale Classical Studies 18 (1963) 131-147, and reprinted in John P. Anton & George Kustas, eds. 1971. Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy vol. 1, SUNY, 303-315.