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[347a] But as it is, since you lie so grievously about the greatest matters with an air of speaking the truth, on this score I reproach you.”

Such is my view, Prodicus and Protagoras, I said, of Simonides' intention in composing this ode.

Then Hippias remarked: It certainly seems to me, Socrates, that you have given a good exposition of the poem: but I also have an elegant discourse upon it, [347b] which I will perform for you if you wish.

Yes, Hippias, said Alcibiades, but some other time: for the moment the proper thing, according to the agreement which Protagoras and Socrates made between them, will be for Socrates to answer any questions that Protagoras may still wish to put to him, but if he prefers to answer Socrates, then it will be for Socrates to ask.

On this I remarked: For my part I place it in Protagoras's hands to do whichever he likes best. [347c] But if he does not mind, let us talk no more of poems and verses, but consider the points on which I questioned you at first, Protagoras, and on which I should be glad to reach, with your help, a conclusion. For it seems to me that arguing about poetry is comparable to the wine-parties of common market-folk. These people, owing to their inability to carry on a familiar conversation over their wine by means of their own voices and discussions— [347d] such is their lack of education—put a premium on flute-girls by hiring the extraneous voice of the flute at a high price, and carry on their intercourse by means of its utterance. But where the party consists of thorough gentlemen who have had a proper education, you will see neither flute-girls nor dancing-girls nor harp-girls, but only the company contenting themselves with their own conversation, and none of these fooleries and frolics—each speaking and listening decently in his turn, [347e] even though they may drink a great deal of wine. And so a gathering like this of ours, when it includes such men as most of us claim to be, requires no extraneous voices, not even of the poets, whom one cannot question on the sense of what they say; when they are adduced in discussion we are generally told by some that the poet thought so and so, and by others, something different, and they go on arguing about a matter which they are powerless to determine. No, this sort of meeting is avoided by men of culture,

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