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[336a] “Do you know,” said I, “to whom I think the saying belongs—this statement that it is just to benefit friends and harm enemies?” “To whom?” he said. “I think it was the saying of Periander or Perdiccas or Xerxes or Ismenias1 the Theban or some other rich man who had great power in his own conceit.”2“That is most true,” he replied. “Very well,” said I, “since it has been made clear that this too is not justice and the just, what else is there that we might say justice to be?”3 [336b]

Now Thrasymachus,4 even while we were conversing, had been trying several times to break in and lay hold of the discussion but he was restrained by those who sat by him who wished to hear the argument out. But when we came to a pause after I had said this, he couldn't any longer hold his peace. But gathering himself up like a wild beast he hurled himself upon us as if he would tear us to pieces. And Polemarchus and I were frightened and fluttered apart, and he bawled out into our midst, [336c] “What balderdash is this that you have been talking, and why do you Simple Simons truckle and give way to one another? But if you really wish, Socrates, to know what the just is, don't merely ask questions or plume yourself upon controverting any answer that anyone gives—since your acumen has perceived that it is easier to ask questions than to answer them,5 but do you yourself answer and tell [336d] what you say the just is. And don't you be telling me6 that it is that which ought to be, or the beneficial or the profitable or the gainful or the advantageous, but express clearly and precisely whatever you say. For I won't take from you any such drivel as that!” And I, when I heard him, was dismayed, and looking upon him was filled with fear, and I believe that if I had not looked at him before he did at me I should have lost my voice.7 But as it is, at the very moment when he began to be exasperated by the course of the argument [336e] I glanced at him first, so that I became capable of answering him and said with a light tremor: “Thrasymachus, don't be harsh8 with us. If I and my friend have made mistakes in the consideration of the question, rest assured that it is unwillingly that we err. For you surely must not suppose that while9 if our quest were for gold10 we would never willingly truckle to one another and make concessions in the search and so spoil our chances of finding it, yet that when we are searching for justice, a thing more precious than much fine gold, we should then be so foolish as to give way to one another and not rather do our serious best to have it discovered. You surely must not suppose that, my friend. But you see it is our lack of ability that is at fault. It is pity then that we should far more reasonably receive

1 Cf. Thompson, Meno xl.

2 It is a Socratic paradox that “doing as one likes” is not power or freedom unless one likes the good. Cf. Gorgias 467 A, 577 D.

3 Cf. Introduction pp. ix-x.

4 Cf. Introduction.

5 Cf. Gorgias 483 A, Aristotle Soph. El. 183 b 7. “Socrates asked questions but did not answer, for he admitted that he did not know.” For similar complaints cf. Xenophon Memorabilia i. 2. 36, iv. 4. 9, Theaetetus 150 C, Clitophon passim.

6 Thrasymachus objects to definition by substitution of synonyms (Cf. Clitophon 409 C). He demands an analysis of the underlying facts (338 D-E), such as is given in the later books.

7 For the fancy that to be seen first by the wolf makes dumb see Virgil Eclogues 9. 53, Theocr. 14. 22, Pliny, N.H. viii. 34, Milton, Epitaphium Damonis 27 “nisi me lupus ante videbit.”

8 For similar irony Cf. Gorgias 461 C-D, 489 D.

9 For this type of a fortiori or ex contrario argument cf. 589 E, 600 C-D, Crito 46 D, Laws 647 C, 931 C, Protagoras 325 B-C, Phaedo 68 A, Thompson on Meno 91 E.

10 Cf. Heracleitus fr. 22 Diels, and Ruskin, King's Treasuries“The physical type of wisdom, gold,”Psalms xix. 10.

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