This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
σκοπεῖν δὲ καὶ παρ᾽ οἷς ὁ ἔπαινος] Compare III 14. 11. The same illustration of the topic, from Plato's Menexenus, is there repeated, with the addition of ἐν τῷ ἐπιταφίῳ, ‘in the funeral oration’, meaning the Platonic dialogue. Socrates, Plato's principal character, or hero, or spokesman, is here taken more Aristotelio as a substitute for Plato himself, whose opinions and sentiments he is supposed exactly to represent1. The passage of the Menex. 235 D runs thus, εἰ μὲν γὰρ δέοι Ἀθηναίους ἐν Πελοποννησίοις εὖ λέγειν ἢ Πελοποννησίους ἐν Ἀθηναίοις, ἀγαθοῦ ἂν ῥήτορος δέοι τοῦ πείσοντος καὶ εὐδοκιμήσοντος: ὅταν δέ τις ἐν τούτοις ἀγωνίζηται οὕσπερ καὶ ἐπαινεῖ οὐδὲν μέγα δοκεῖ εὖ λέγειν. On this passage, Quintilian, Inst. Or. III 7. 23, Interesse tamen Aristoteles putat ubi quidque laudetur aut vituperetur. Nam plurimum refert qui sint audientium mores, quae publice recepta persuasio: ut illa maxime quae probant esse in eo qui laudabitur credant, aut in eo contra quem dicemus ea quae oderunt. Ita non dubium erit iudicium quod orationem praecesserit. τὸ παρ᾽ ἑκάστοις τίμιον κ.τ.λ.] These are appeals to national and class prejudices and preferences. We should attribute to the object of our encomium the possession of any gift, quality, accomplishment which happens to be esteemed by the particular audience that we are addressing; as in a company of Scythians it would be advisable to address ourselves to their national habits and modes of thinking, and to praise our hero for his skill in hunting or strength or bravery; at Sparta for patience and fortitude (Quint. u. s.); at Athens for literary accomplishments. ‘And in a word, (or, as a general rule), to refer (in praising any one before an audience of this kind) what they highly value to the καλόν, since they appear to border closely upon one another’. ‘To refer τίμια to τὸ καλόν’, is to invest them with a moral character, τὸ καλόν being the moral end, the right, the end of action. This is as much as to say that these things, which are so precious in their eyes, are not only valuable, but right in themselves, and therefore they do well to hold them in high esteem.
1 Bp. Fitzgerald (ap. Grant, ad Eth. N. VI 13. 3) remarks, on Eth. N. III 8. 6, that Aristotle in referring to Socrates prefixes the article when he speaks of him as Plato's interlocutor and representative, and omits it when he has the real historical Socrates in his mind. This is no doubt the general (Grant says, invariable) rule; but I have noted one exception in Pol. V (VIII) 7, 1342 b 23, where we find Σωκράτει without the article in a reference to Plato's Republic, III 398E. The rule is extended to other Platonic characters borrowed from history, as τὸν Ἀριστοφάνην (the Aristophanes of the Symposium), Pol. II 4, 1262 b 11, and ὁ Τίμαιος (Plato's Timæus, not the real personage), de Anima A 3, 406 b 26.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.