previous next
[600a] is there any tradition of a war in Homer's time that was well conducted by his command or counsel?” “None.” “Well, then, as might be expected of a man wise in practical affairs, are many and ingenious inventions1 for the arts and business of life reported of Homer as they are of Thales2 the Milesian and Anacharsis3 the Scythian?” “Nothing whatever of the sort.” “Well, then, if no public service is credited to him, is Homer reported while he lived to have been a guide in education to men who took pleasure in associating with him [600b] and transmitted to posterity a certain Homeric way of life4 just as Pythagoras5 was himself especially honored for this, and his successors, even to this day, denominating a certain way of life the Pythagorean,6 are distinguished among their contemporaries?” “No, nothing of this sort either is reported; for Creophylos,7 Socrates, the friend of Homer, would perhaps be even more ridiculous than his name8 as a representative of Homeric culture and education, if what is said about Homer is true. For the tradition is that Homer was completely neglected in his own lifetime by that friend of the flesh.” [600c]

“Why, yes, that is the tradition,” said I; “but do you suppose, Glaucon, that, if Homer had really been able to educate men9 and make them better and had possessed not the art of imitation but real knowledge, he would not have acquired many companions and been honored and loved by them? But are we to believe that while Protagoras10 of Abdera and Prodicus11 of Ceos and many others are able by private teaching [600d] to impress upon their contemporaries the conviction that they will not be capable of governing their homes or the city12 unless they put them in charge of their education, and make themselves so beloved for this wisdom13 that their companions all but14 carry them about on their shoulders,15 yet, forsooth, that Homer's contemporaries, if he had been able to help men to achieve excellence,16 would have suffered him or Hesiod to roam about rhapsodizing and would not have clung to them far rather than to their gold,17 and constrained them to dwell with them18 in their homes, [600e] or failing to persuade them, would themselves have escorted them wheresoever they went until they should have sufficiently imbibed their culture?” “What you say seems to me to be altogether true, Socrates,” he said. “Shall we, then, lay it down that all the poetic tribe, beginning with Homer,19 are imitators of images of excellence and of the other things that they ‘create,20’ and do not lay hold on truth? but, as we were just now saying, the painter will fashion,

1 On the literature of “inventions,” εὑρήματα, see Newman ii. p. 382 on Aristot.Pol. 1274 b 4. Cf. Virgil, Aen. vi. 663 “inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes,” and Symp. 209 A.

2 Diog. Laert. i. 23-27.

3 Diog. Laert. i. 105 says he was reported to be the inventor of the anchor and the potter's wheel.

4 In the (spurious?) seventh epistle, 328 A, Plato speaks of the life and λόγος advocated by himself. Cf. Novotny, Plato's Epistles, p. 168.

5 Diels i3 pp. 27 f.

6 Cf.ὀρφικοὶ . . . βίοιLaws 782 C.

7 “Of the beef-clan.” The scholiast says he was a Chian and an epic poet. See Callimachus's epigram apudSext. Empir., Bekker, p. 609 (Adv. Math. i. 48), and Suidas s.v.κρεώφυλος

8 Modern Greeks also are often very sensitive to the etymology of proper names. Cf. also on 580 B, p. 369, note d.

9 See on 540 B, p. 230, note d.

10 Cf. Prot. 315 A-B, 316 C.

11 See What Plato Said, p. 486, on Laches 197 D.

12 For διοικεῖν Cf. Protag. 318 E.

13 See Thompson on Meno 70 B.

14 On μόνον οὐκ Cf. Menex. 235 C, Ax. 365 B.

15 Stallbaum refers to Themist.Orat. xxii. p. 254 Aὃν ἡμεῖς διὰ ταύτην τὴν φαντασίαν μόνον οὐκ ἐπὶ ταῖς κεφαλαῖς περιφέρομεν, Erasmus, Chiliad iv. Cent. 7 n. 98 p. 794, and the German idiom “einen auf den Händen tragen.”

16 Cf. Protag. 328 B.

17 The article perhaps gives the word a contemptuous significance. So Meno 89 Bτὸ χρυσίον.

18 οἴκοι εἶναι: J. J. Hartman, Ad Platonis Remp. 600 E, Mnem. 1916, p. 45, would change εἶναι to μεῖναι. But cf. Cic.Att. vii. 10 “erimus una.”

19 Cf. 366 E.Gorg. 471 C-D, Symp. 173 D.

20 Or “about which they versify,” playing with the double meaning of ποιεῖν.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (James Adam)
load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1916 AD (1)
1274 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: