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[312a] And what is it that you yourself hope to become when you go to Protagoras ?

To this he replied with a blush—for by then there was a glimmer of daylight by which I could see him quite clearly—If it is like the previous cases, obviously, to become a sophist.

In Heaven's name, I said, would you not be ashamed to present yourself before the Greeks as a sophist?

Yes, on my soul I should, Socrates, if I am to speak my real thoughts.

Yet after all, Hippocrates, perhaps it is not this sort of learning that you expect to get from Protagoras, but rather the sort you had [312b] from your language-master, your harp-teacher, and your sports-instructor; for when you took your lessons from each of these it was not in the technical way, with a view to becoming a professional, but for education, as befits a private gentleman.

I quite agree, he said it is rather this kind of learning that one gets from Protagoras.

Then are you aware what you are now about to do, or is it not clear to you? I asked.

To what do you refer?

I mean your intention of submitting your soul [312c] to the treatment of a man who, as you say, is a sophist; and as to what a sophist really is, I shall be surprised if you can tell me. And yet, if you are ignorant of this, you cannot know to whom you are entrusting your soul,—whether it is to something good or to something evil.

I really think, he said, that I know.

Then tell me, please, what you consider a sophist to be.

I should say, he replied, from what the name implies, that he is one who has knowledge of wise matters.

Well, I went on, we are able to say this of painters also, and of carpenters,—that they are the persons who have knowledge of wise matters; [312d] and if someone asked us for what those matters are wise, of which painters have knowledge, I suppose we should tell him that they are wise for the production of likenesses, and similarly with the rest. But if he should ask for what the matters of the sophist are wise, how should we answer him? What sort of workmanship is he master of?

How should we describe him, Socrates,—as a master of making one a clever speaker?

Perhaps, I replied, we should be speaking the truth, but yet not all the truth; for our answer still calls for a question, as to the subject on which the sophist makes one a clever speaker: just as the harp player [312e] makes one clever, I presume, at speaking on the matter of which he gives one knowledge, namely harp-playing,—you agree to that?


Well, about what does the sophist make one a clever speaker?

Clearly it must be the same thing as that of which he gives one knowledge.

So it would seem: now what is this thing, of which the sophist himself has knowledge and gives knowledge to his pupil?

Ah, there, in good faith, he said, I fail to find you an answer.

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