previous next
[487a] “Nay, most necessary,” he said. “Is there any fault, then, that you can find with a pursuit which a man could not properly practise unless he were by nature of good memory, quick apprehension, magnificent,1 gracious, friendly and akin to truth, justice, bravery and sobriety?” “Momus2 himself,” he said, “could not find fault with such a combination.” “Well, then,” said I, “when men of this sort are perfected by education and maturity of age, would you not entrust the state solely to them?”

And Adeimantus said, “No one, Socrates, [487b] would be able to controvert these statements of yours. But, all the same, those who occasionally hear you3 argue thus feel in this way4: They think that owing to their inexperience in the game of question and answer5 they are at every question led astray6 a little bit by the argument, and when these bits are accumulated at the conclusion of the discussion mighty is their fall7 and the apparent contradiction of what they at first said8; and that just as by expert draught-players9 the unskilled are finally shut in and cannot make a move, [487c] so they are finally blocked and have their mouths stopped by this other game of draughts played not with counters but with words; yet the truth is not affected by that outcome.10 I say this with reference to the present case, for in this instance one might say that he is unable in words to contend against you at each question, but that when it comes to facts11 he sees that of those who turn to philosophy,12 not merely touching upon it to complete their education13 [487d] and dropping it while still young, but lingering too long14 in the study of it, the majority become cranks,15 not to say rascals, and those accounted the finest spirits among them are still rendered useless16 to society by the pursuit17 which you commend.” And I, on hearing this, said, “Do you think that they are mistaken in saying so?” “I don't know,” said he, [487e] “but I would gladly hear your opinion.” “You may hear, then, that I think that what they say is true.” “How, then,” he replied, “can it be right to say that our cities will never be freed from their evils until the philosophers, whom we admit to be useless to them, become their rulers?” “Your question,” I said, “requires an answer expressed in a comparison or parable.18” “And you,” he said, “of course, are not accustomed to speak in comparisons!”

“So,” said I, “you are making fun of me after driving me into such an impasse of argument. But, all the same, hear my comparison

1 μεγαλοπρεπής is frequently ironical in Plato, but not here. For the list of qualities of the ideal student cf. also 503 C, Theaet. 144 A-B, and Friedländer, Platon, ii. p. 418. Cf. Laws 709 E on the qualifications of the young tyrant, and Cic.Tusc. v. 24, with Renaissance literature on education.

2 The god of censure, who finds fault with the gods in Lucian's dialogues. Cf. Overbeck, Schriftquellen, p. 208, n. 1091, Otto, p. 227, s. v. Momus. Cf. Callimachus, fr. 70; and Anth. Pal. xvi. 262. 3-4:αὐτὸς Μῶμος φθέγξεται, Ἄκρητος, Ζεῦ πάτερ, σοφίη, “Momus himself will cry out ‘Father Zeus, this was perfect skill.'” (L.C.L. translation.) Stallbaum refers to Erasmus, Chiliad, i. 5. 75 and interpreters on Aristaenet.Epist. i. I, p. 239, ed. Boissonade.

3 Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, p. 35 n. 236, and What Plato Said, p. 488 on Crito 48 B. A speaker in Plato may thus refer to any fundamental Platonic doctrine. Wilamowitz' suggested emendation (Platon, ii. p. 205) ἂν λέγῃς is due to a misunderstanding of this.

4 Alocus classicus for Plato's anticipation of objections. Cf. 475 B, Theaet. 166 A-B, Rep. 609 C, 438-439, and Apelt, Republic, p. 492. Plato does it more tactfully than Isocrates, e.g.Demon. 44.

5 Cf. Apelt, Aufsätze, p. 73, Minto, Logic, Induction and Deduction, pp. 4 ff.; also Gorg. 461 D, 462 A, Soph. 230 B.

6 Cf. Phaedrus 262 B.

7 Cf. 451 A, and Theaet. 166 A, 168 A, 534 Cἀπτῶτι.

8 Cf. Phaedr. 262 B, Cleitophon 410 A, Gorg. 495 A, schol.,τοὺς πρώτους λόγους τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ δηλονότι, Gorg. 457 Eοἷς τὸ πρῶτον ἔλεγες, and also Agathon in Symp. 201 B.

9 For this figure Cf. Laws 739 A, 820 C-D, 903 D, Eryxias 395 A-B, Hipparchus 220 E, Eurip.Suppl. 409. Aristotle, Soph. El. 165 a 10 ff., borrows the metaphor, but his ψῆφοι are those of book-keeping or reckoning. Cf. also Dem.De cor. 227 f.

10 Cf. Hipp. Minor 369 B-C and Grote ii. p. 64 “Though Hippias admits each successive step he still mistrusts the conclusion” also Apelt, p. 492, 357 A-B and Laws 903 Aβιάζεσθαι τοῖς λόγοις, and also Hipparchus 232 B for the idea that dialectic constrains rather than persuades. In the Ion, 533 C, Ion says he cannot ἀντιλέγειν, but the fact remains that he knows Homer but not other poets. Cf. also 536 D. The passage virtually anticipates Bacon's Novum Organum,App. XIII. “(syllogismus) . . . assensum itaque constringit, non res.” Cf. Cic.De fin. iv. 3, Tusc. i. 8. 16, and the proverbial οὐ γὰρ πείσεις, οὐδ᾽ ἢν πείσῃς,, Aristoph.Plutus 600.

11 See Soph. 234 E for a different application of the same idea. There is no change of opinion. The commonplace Greek contrast of word and deed, theory and fact, is valid against eristic but not against dialectic. See What Plato Said, p. 534 on Phaedo 99 E, and on 473 A; also What Plato Said, p. 625 on Laws 636 A. A favorite formula of Aristotle runs, “This is true in theory and is confirmed by facts.” Cf. Eth. Nic. 1099 b 25, 1123 b 22, 1131 a 13, Pol. 1323 a 39-b 6, 1326 a 25 and 29, 1334 a 5-6.

12 Scholars in politics cut a sorry figure. For this popular view of philosophers Cf. Theaet. 173 C ff., 174 C-D, Gorg. 484-486 C, Phaedo 64 B. Cf. also Isoc. passim, e. g.Antid. 250, 312.

13 The perfect tense is ironical in Crat. 384 B, serious in Laws 670 A-B. In Gorg. 485 A it is replaced by ὅσον παιδείας χάριν.

14 Cf. What Plato Said, p. 506 on Gorg. 484 C.

15 Cf. Euthydem. 306 E, Protag. 346 A, and for the idea without the word, Soph. 216 C.

16 Cf. Eurip.Medea 299, and on 489 B.

17 Cf. 497 A. In Euthydem. 307 B Plato uses both ἐπιτήδευμα and πρᾶγμα

18 Cf. Gory. 517 D, Laws 644 C, Symp. 215 A with Bury's note. Cf. the parable of the great beast 493, and of the many-headed beast, 588-589.

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)
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.
1334 AD (1)
1326 AD (1)
1323 AD (1)
1131 AD (1)
1123 AD (1)
1099 AD (1)
1091 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: