“Haven’t you heard—you who are hastily accusing it—that magic is an art approved of by the immortal gods, a profound knowledge of their care and worship, manifestly pious and wise in divine things, noble since the time of its authors, Zoroaster and Ahura Mazda, a celestial high-priestess, which is, in fact, among the first of the royal arts to be taught—and not just anyone among the Persians is allowed to be a magician, any more than anyone is allowed to reign. Plato, too, in a discussion about Zalmoxis, a Thracian and of the same skill as this man (sc. Zoroaster), once wrote: ‘magic spells are beautiful words.’ If this is true, why am I not allowed the beautiful words of Zalmoxis, or the ceremonies of Zoroaster?”
auditisne magiam, qui eam temere accusatis, artem esse dis immortalibus acceptam, colendi eos ac uenerandi pergnaram, piam scilicet et diuini scientem, iam inde a Zoroastre et Oromaze auctoribus suis nobilem, caelitum antistitam, quippe qui inter prima regalia docetur nec ulli temere inter Persas concessum est magum esse, haud magis quam regnare. idem Plato in alia sermocinatione de Zalmoxi quodam Thraci generis, sed eiusdem artis uiro ita scriptum reliquit: τὰς δὲ ἐπῳδὰς εἶναι τοὺς λόγους τοὺς καλούς. quod si ita est, cur mihi nosse non liceat uel Zalmoxi bona uerba uel Zoroastri sacerdotia?
“This, Charmides, is what the nature of the magical spell is like. I learned it back when I was in the army from one of the Thracian doctors of Zalmoxis, who are even said to grant immortality. This Thracian fellow said that Greek doctors may know what they’re talking about when it comes to these things—the things I was discussing just now—, ‘but,’ he said, ‘our king Zalmoxis, who is also a god, says that, just as you shouldn’t try to cure the eye without curing the head, nor the head without the whole body, so you shouldn’t try to heal the body without the soul. And this is the reason the doctors in Greece miss so many diseases: because they neglect the whole that they ought to be concerned about, since if it is not in good shape, it is impossible for the part to be. For everything,’ he said, ‘that is good and bad for the body and for a human being as a whole starts from the soul and flows out from there, as from the head to the eyes, and so if head and the rest of the body are to be in good shape, first and foremost, you need to heal the soul. The soul is cured, my dear friend,’ he said, ‘by a kind of magic spell, and these magic spells are beautiful words. From such words temperance is engendered in the soul, and when it’s engendered and present, then health is easy to bring about, both in the head and in the rest of the body.’”
τοιοῦτον τοίνυν ἐστίν, ὦ Χαρμίδη, καὶ τὸ ταύτης τῆς ἐπῳδῆς. ἔμαθον δ᾽ αὐτὴν ἐγὼ ἐκεῖ ἐπὶ στρατιᾶς παρά τινος τῶν Θρᾳκῶν τῶν Ζαλμόξιδος ἰατρῶν, οἳ λέγονται καὶ ἀπαθανατίζειν. ἔλεγεν δὲ ὁ Θρᾲξ οὗτος ὅτι ταῦτα μὲν ἰατροὶ οἱ Ἕλληνες, ἃ νυνδὴ ἐγὼ ἔλεγον, καλῶς λέγοιεν: ἀλλὰ Ζάλμοξις, ἔφη, λέγει ὁ ἡμέτερος βασιλεύς, θεὸς ὤν, ὅτι ὥσπερ ὀφθαλμοὺς ἄνευ κεφαλῆς οὐ δεῖ ἐπιχειρεῖν ἰᾶσθαι οὐδὲ κεφαλὴν ἄνευ σώματος, οὕτως οὐδὲ σῶμα ἄνευ ψυχῆς, ἀλλὰ τοῦτο καὶ αἴτιον εἴη τοῦ διαφεύγειν τοὺς παρὰ τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἰατροὺς τὰ πολλὰ νοσήματα, ὅτι τοῦ ὅλου ἀμελοῖεν οὗ δέοι τὴν ἐπιμέλειαν ποιεῖσθαι, οὗ μὴ καλῶς ἔχοντος ἀδύνατον εἴη τὸ μέρος εὖ ἔχειν. πάντα γὰρ ἔφη ἐκ τῆς ψυχῆς ὡρμῆσθαι καὶ τὰ κακὰ καὶ τὰ ἀγαθὰ τῷ σώματι καὶ παντὶ τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ, καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἐπιρρεῖν ὥσπερ ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ἐπὶ τὰ ὄμματα: δεῖν οὖν ἐκεῖνο καὶ πρῶτον καὶ μάλιστα θεραπεύειν, εἰ μέλλει καὶ τὰ τῆς κεφαλῆς καὶ τὰ τοῦ ἄλλου σώματος καλῶς ἔχειν. θεραπεύεσθαι δὲ τὴν ψυχὴν ἔφη, ὦ μακάριε, ἐπῳδαῖς τισιν, τὰς δ᾽ ἐπῳδὰς ταύτας τοὺς λόγους εἶναι τοὺς καλούς: ἐκ δὲ τῶν τοιούτων λόγων ἐν ταῖς ψυχαῖς σωφροσύνην ἐγγίγνεσθαι, ἧς ἐγγενομένης καὶ παρούσης ῥᾴδιον ἤδη εἶναι τὴν ὑγίειαν καὶ τῇ κεφαλῇ καὶ τῷ ἄλλῳ σώματι πορίζειν.