διδακτὸν . . . ἀρετή
: this is the
proposition to be proved, and we naturally expect at the outset a definition of ἀρετή.— μὴ φθονήσῃς
: politely urges the request. Cf. Gorg.
489 a μὴ φθόνει μοι ἀποκρίνασθαι τοῦτο
: Protagoras gives both story and argument. He first, after the manner of the sophists, tells a story, drawn in part from the popular myths concerning Prometheus and aboriginal man, and embellished by his free invention; a method, as he is aware, much more acceptable to the people than dry disquisition; and from this myth he draws various conciusions. Then, after 324 d
(οὐκέτι μῦθον, ἀλλὰ λόγον
), he develops an argument which he contrasts as real (λόγος
) with the fictitious (μῦθος
). With similar contrast, Socrates says in Phaedo
61 b ἐννοήσας ὅτι τὸν ποιητὴν δέοι ποιεῖν μύθους ἀλλ᾽ οὐ λόγους
(fictions, not realities
523 a ἄκουε δὴ μάλα καλοῦ λόγου, ὃν σὺ μὲν ἡγήσει μῦθον, ἐγὼ δὲ λόγον
: we should expect διεξερχόμενος
, but cf. Theaet.
167 d ἀμφισβήτει, λόγῳ ἀντιδιεξελθών dispute it, traversing it in an argument.
: an element of value, provided the argument be not impaired.
In the first part of the discourse, the myth, Plato represents Protagoras as imitating the tone of old legends, as indeed he may very likely have done in similar narratives. This appears in the whole tone of the recital, the simple construction, the selection of words and phrases peculiar to poetry (γῆς ἔνδον, ἄοπλον φύσιν, σμικρότητι ἤμπισχε, πτηνὸν φυγήν, ἀιστωθείη, ἀλληλοφθοριῶν, σχόμενος, πόλεων κόσμοι τε καὶ δεσμοί, φιλίας συναγωγοί, νόσον πόλεως κτἑ.
), and the freq. omission of the art. (esp. with ἄνθρωπος
). The very beginning was common in legends. Cf. Stasinus Cypr.
Frag. 1 ἦν ὅτε μυρία φῦλα
, Critias in Sext. Empir. ix. 54 ἦν χρόνος, ὅτε ἦν
, Theocr. vii. 1 ἦς χρόνος, ἁνίκ᾽ ἐγών