Handsome is as handsome does

Every morning, before leaving his home, the great philosopher Socrates used to stand in front of a mirror and gaze attentively at his reflection for several minutes.
One day, a disciple came upon him doing this, and was unable to suppress a smile at the sight of his master examining himself so closely. Socrates turned to him and said, “You are smiling, no doubt, at the sight of this ugly old fellow staring at himself in the mirror, are you not? I do this everyday.”
Shamed, the disciple bowed his head, but before he could beg pardon, Socrates continued: “On seeing myself in the mirror everyday, I become aware of my own ugliness. This strengthens my resolve to live in a way that the virtue of my work may outshine the unattractiveness of my countenance.”
The disciple exclaimed, “Master, do you mean to say that those who are good looking should not look in a mirror at all?”

“Nothing of the sort” said Socrates. “They should also keep looking in the mirror to remind themselves to think, speak and behave in a way that is as beautiful and striking as they are. May not their actions cast a shadow over their pleasing appearance.”

In this way Socrates left behind a profound lesson for all of us: Handsome is as handsome does.


After his service in the war, Socrates devoted himself to his favorite pastime: the pursuit of truth.

His reputation as a philosopher, literally meaning ‘a lover of wisdom’, soon spread all over Athens and beyond. When told that the Oracle of Delphi had revealed to one of his friends that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens, he responded not by boasting or celebrating, but by trying to prove the Oracle wrong.

So Socrates decided he would try and find out if anyone knew what was truly worthwhile in life, because anyone who knew that would surely be wiser than him. He set about questioning everyone he could find, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Instead they all pretended to know something they clearly did not.

Finally he realized the Oracle might be right after all. He was the wisest man in Athens because he alone was prepared to admit his own ignorance rather than pretend to know something he did not.

Know thy self… Socrates