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[364a]

Socrates
You are in a state of blessedness, Hippias, if at every Olympiad you come to the sanctuary with fair hopes concerning your soul and its wisdom; and I should be surprised if any of the physical athletes when he goes to that same place to take part in the contests, has such fearless confidence in his body as you have in your intellect.

Hippias
Naturally, Socrates, I am in this state: for since I began to contend at the Olympic games, I never yet met anyone better than myself in anything.

Socrates
That is splendid, Hippias! Your reputation will be a monument of wisdom for the city of Elis and your parents. [364b] But now what do you say about Achilles and Odysseus? Which do you say is the better and in what respect? For when there were many of us in the room, and you were making your exhibition, I could not keep up with what you were saying: for I hesitated to ask questions, because there was a great crowd in the room, also for fear of hindering your exhibition by doing so; but now, since we are fewer and Eudicus here urges me to question you, speak and tell us clearly [364c] what you said about these two men; how did you distinguish them?

Hippias
Why I am glad, Socrates, to explain to you still more clearly what I say about these and others also. For I say that Homer made Achilles the bravest man of those who went to Troy, and Nestor the wisest, and Odysseus the wiliest.

Socrates
Oh dear, Hippias! Would you do me the favour not to laugh at me if I find it hard to understand what you say, and keep asking questions over and over? [364d] Please try to answer me gently and courteously.

Hippias
Of course; for it would be a disgrace, Socrates, if I, who teach others good manners and charge them money for it, should not myself, when questioned by you, be considerate and reply gently.

Socrates
That is excellent. For when you said that the poet made Achilles the bravest of men, and Nestor the wisest, I thought I understood what you meant; [364e] but when you said that he made Odysseus the wiliest, to tell you the truth, I do not in the least know what you mean by that. Now tell me, and perhaps it may result in my understanding better. Has not Homer made Achilles wily?

Hippias
Not at all, Socrates; he made him most simple; for in “The Prayers,” when he depicts them talking with one another, he makes Achilles say to Odysseus:1


1 The division into twenty-four books was made in Alexandrian times. Before that division was made (and even after) references were made to parts of the Iliad and Odyssey by descriptive titles, “The Prayers,” “The Catalogue of Ships,” and the like.

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