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[288a] and shall never be confuted?

Hippias
Yes, for how could you, Socrates, be confuted, when you say what everybody thinks, and when all who hear it will bear witness that what you say is correct?

Socrates
Very well; certainly. Come, then, Hippias, let me rehearse to myself what you say. The man will question me in some such fashion as this: “Come Socrates, answer me. All these things which you say are beautiful, if the absolute beautiful is anything, would be beautiful?” And I shall say that if a beautiful maiden is beautiful, there is something by reason of which these things would be beautiful. [288b]

Hippias
Do you think, then, that he will still attempt to refute you and to show that what you say is not beautiful, or, if he does attempt it, that he will not be ridiculous?

Socrates
That he will attempt it, my admirable friend, I am sure but whether the attempt will make him ridiculous, the event will show. However, I should like to tell you what he will ask.

Hippias
Do so.

Socrates
“How charming you are, Socrates!” he will say. “But is not a beautiful mare beautiful, which even the god praised in his oracle?”1 [288c] What shall we say, Hippias? Shall we not say that the mare is beautiful, I mean the beautiful mare? For how could we dare to deny that the beautiful thing is beautiful?

Hippias
Quite true, Socrates for what the god said is quite correct, too; for very beautiful mares are bred in our country.

Socrates
“Very well,” he will say, “and how about a beautiful lyre? Is it not beautiful?” Shall we agree, Hippias?

Hippias
Yes.

Socrates
After this, then, the man will ask, I am sure, judging by his character: “You most excellent man, how about a beautiful pot? Is it, then, not beautiful?” [288d]

Hippias
Socrates, who is the fellow? What an uncultivated person, who has the face to mention such worthless things in a dignified discussion!

Socrates
That's the kind of person he is, Hippias, not elegant, but vulgar, thinking of nothing but the truth. But nevertheless the man must be answered, and I will declare my opinion beforehand: if the pot were made by a good potter, were smooth and round and well fired, as are some of the two-handled pots, those that hold six choes,2 very beautiful ones— [288e] if that were the kind of pot he asked about, we must agree that it is beautiful; for how could we say that being beautiful it is not beautiful?

Hippias
We could not at all, Socrates.

Socrates
“Then,” he will say, “a beautiful pot also is beautiful, is it not?” Answer.

Hippias
Well, Socrates, it is like this, I think. This utensil, when well wrought, is beautiful, but absolutely considered it does not deserve to be regarded as beautiful in comparison with a mare and a maiden and all the beautiful things.


1 Heindorf and other commentators connect this reference with an oracle quoted by a scholiast on Theocritus, Idyl xiv. 48. The Megarians, being filled with pride, asked the god who were better then they. The first lines of the reply they received are:“Γαίης μέν πάσης τὸ Πελασγικὸν Ἄργος ἄμεινον,
ἵπποι Θρηΐκιαι, Λακεδαιμόνιαι δὲ γυναῖκες
“Better than all other land is the land of Pelasgian Argos,
Thracian mares are the best, and the Lacedaemonian women.”
”To be sure, nothing is said about the beauty of the mares, and the reference to Elis contained in παρ᾽ ἡμῖν just below is hard to reconcile with the Thracian mares of the oracle.

2 The χοῦς was 5.76 pints.

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