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[97a] this must needs be so?

Meno
Yes.

Socrates
And in thinking that they will be useful if they give us right guidance in conduct: here also, I suppose, our admission was correct?

Meno
Yes.

Socrates
But our assertion that it is impossible to give right guidance unless one has knowledge looks very like a mistake.

Meno
What do you mean by that?

Socrates
I will tell you. If a man knew the way to Larisa, or any other place you please, and walked there and led others, would he not give right and good guidance?

Meno
Certainly. [97b]

Socrates
Well, and a person who had a right opinion as to which was the way, but had never been there and did not really know, might give right guidance, might he not?

Meno
Certainly.

Socrates
And so long, I presume, as he has right opinion about that which the other man really knows, he will be just as good a guide—if he thinks the truth instead of knowing it—as the man who has the knowledge.

Meno
Just as good.

Socrates
Hence true opinion is as good a guide to rightness of action as knowledge; and this is a point we omitted just now in our consideration of the nature of virtue, [97c] when we stated that knowledge is the only guide of right action; whereas we find there is also true opinion.

Meno
So it seems.

Socrates
Then right opinion is just as useful as knowledge.

Meno
With this difference, Socrates, that he who has knowledge will always hit on the right way, whereas he who has right opinion will sometimes do so, but sometimes not.

Socrates
How do you mean? Will not he who always has right opinion be always right, so long as he opines rightly?

Meno
It appears to me that he must; and therefore I wonder, Socrates, [97d] this being the case, that knowledge should ever be more prized than right opinion, and why they should be two distinct and separate things.

Socrates
Well, do you know why it is that you wonder, or shall I tell you?

Meno
Please tell me.

Socrates
It is because you have not observed with attention the images of Daedalus.1 But perhaps there are none in your country.

Meno
What is the point of your remark?

Socrates
That if they are not fastened up they play truant and run away; but, if fastened, they stay where they are. [97e]

Meno
Well, what of that?

Socrates
To possess one of his works which is let loose does not count for much in value; it will not stay with you any more than a runaway slave: but when fastened up it is worth a great deal, for his productions are very fine things And to what am I referring in all this? To true opinion. For these, so long as they stay with us, are a fine possession,


1 Cf. Plat. Euthyph. 11. Socrates pretends to believe the old legend according to which Daedalus, the first sculptor, contrived a wonderful mechanism in his statues by which they could move.

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    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 1.411
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