previous next


No, by Zeus, I do not. But I think Hesiod is right in saying:“If you can only add little to little, it is worth while.
Hes. WD 359 So now if you can make even a little progress, do not shirk the trouble, but oblige Socrates—you owe it to him—and me.

For that matter, Cratylus, I would not positively affirm any of the things I have said. I merely expressed the opinions which I reached with the help of Hermogenes. So far as I am concerned, you need not hesitate, [428b] and if your view is better than mine, I will accept it. And I should not be at all surprised if it were better; for I think you have not only investigated such matters yourself but have been taught about them by others. So if you have any better theory to propound, put me down as one of your pupils in the course on the correctness of names.

Yes, Socrates, I have, as you say, paid attention to these matters, and perhaps I might make you my pupil. However, I am afraid the opposite is the case, [428c] and I am impelled to say to you what Achilles says in the “Prayers” to Ajax. He says:“Ajax, descendant of Zeus, son of Telamon, chief of thy people,
All thou hast uttered is good in my sight and pleases my spirit.
Hom. Il. 9.644 f And so, Socrates, your oracular utterances seem to me to be much to my mind, whether you are inspired by Euthyphro or some other Muse has dwelt within you all along without our knowing it. [428d]

My excellent Cratylus, I myself have been marvelling at my own wisdom all along, and I cannot believe in it. So I think we ought to reexamine my utterances. For the worst of all deceptions is self-deception. How can it help being terrible, when the deceiver is always present and never stirs from the spot? So I think we must turn back repeatedly to what we have said and must try, as the poet says, to look “both forwards and backwards.
Hom. Il. 1.343; 3.109 [428e] Then let us now see what we have said. Correctness of a name, we say, is the quality of showing the nature of the thing named. Shall we call that a satisfactory statement?

I am perfectly satisfied with it, Socrates.

Names, then, are given with a view to instruction?


Shall we, then; say that this instruction is an art and has its artisans?


Who are they?

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 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 Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: