previous next


Here begins an episode (lasting down to the end of ch. XXXII), in which Protagoras cross-examines Socrates upon a poem of Simonides. For the bearing of this episode on the general subject of the dialogue see Introduction, pp. xxiii ff.: and for the different restorations of the poem Appendix I.

3. περὶ ἐπῶν δεινὸν εἶναι. ἐπῶν is ‘verses’. As education in poetry formed part of the usual curriculum at Athens, it was natural for the Sophists to pose as poetical critics, and Sauppe gives a number of references to show that they did so: it will suffice to quote Isocrates, Panath. 18 ἀπαντήσαντες γάρ τινές μοι τῶν ἐριτηδείων ἔλεγον, ὡς ἐν τῷ Λυκείῳ συγκαθεζόμενοι τπεῖς τέτταπες τῶν ἀγελαίων σοφιστῶν καὶ ράντα φασκόντων εἰδέναιδιαλέγοιντο ρεπί τε τῶν ἄλλων ροιητῶν καὶ τῆς Ἡσιόδου καὶ τῆς Ὁμήρου ποιήσεως κτλ.: cf. below 347A where Hippias says he has a speech ready on the poem, and Hipp. Minor, 363Cff. καὶ ἄλλα ρολλὰ καὶ ραντοδαρὰ ἡμῖν ἐριδέδεικται καὶ ρεπὶ ροιητῶν τε ἄλλων καὶ περὶ Ὁμήρου. Protagoras appears as a critic of poetry in Ar. Poet. 19, p. 1456b. 15 ff. (where he censures Homer ὅτι εὔχεσθαι οἰόμενος ἐπιτάττει εἰπὼνμῆνιν ἄειδε θεά’) and in Soph. El. 14, p. 173b. 19 ff. The popularity of such discussions as the present may be inferred from the well-known scene between Euripides and Aeschylus in the Frogs, 1119 ff.

8. νῦν διαλεγόμεθα: so B and T: the editors mostly read νῦν δὴ (νυνδὴ) διελεγόμεθα. νῦν does not mean ‘at this present moment’, but simply ‘now’, ‘on the present occasion’, = ἐν τῇ νῦν συνουσίᾳ: translate ‘about the same subject as you and I are now discussing’, i.e. about the subject of our present discussion. A discussion which has never been finished (see on 334A and is to be resumed (cf. 338Eἐπειδὰν ἱκανῶς ἐρωτήσῃ, πάλιν δώσειν λόγον, and 338D ought not to be spoken of as past. We have in fact in νῦν διαλεγόμεθα an indication that the subject of the dialogue is the same throughout: see Introduction pp. xvii ff. νῦν in καὶ δὴ καὶ νῦν (l. 6) is simply ‘in the present case’ and introduces the application of the general statement contained in ἡγοῦμαιλόγον δοῦναι: cf. Apol. 17D-18A ὥσπερ οὖν ἂνκαὶ δὴ καὶ νῦν.

περὶ ἀρετῆς. According to Diog. Laert. IX. 8. 55, Protagoras wrote a book having the title περὶ ἀρετῶν.

10. Σιμωνίδης. It is a saying of Simonides of Ceos (ca. 556-468 B.C.) that forms the text on which the discussion in the first book of the Republic is based: see Rep. I. 331D ff. Plato seems also to allude to him in two other places, viz. Rep. II. 365C ἐπειδὴ τὸ δοκεῖν, ὡς δηλοῦσί μοι οἱ σοφοί, καὶ τὰν ἀλάθειαν βιᾶται καὶ κύριον εὐδαιμονίας κτλ. and Rep. VI. 489B οὐ γὰρ ἔχει φύσιντοὺς σοφοὺς ἐπὶ τὰς πλουσίων θύρας ἰέναι ἀλλ᾽ τοῦτο κομψευσάμενος ἐψεύσατο (compare Ar. Rhet. II. 16. 1391a. 8 ff. with Cope's note).

Σκόπαν. The Scopadae were a ruling family at Crannon and Pharsalus in Thessaly. Simonides seems to have frequently been their guest, and wrote poems in their honour: the most famous is that referred to by Cicero, de Or. II. § 352-3.

12. ἀγαθόν is here more than morally good: it includes bodily and external as well as internal well-being: whence χερσίν τε καὶ ποσί as well as νόῳ: see also note on 344B l. 4 below. The notion of external well-being belonged to the word from very early times: see Grote, III, 45, n. 3: ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are applied in Theognis and Solon ‘to wealth as contrasted with poverty— nobility with low birth—strength with weakness—conservative and oligarchical politics as opposed to innovation’. This sense survived in classical times in the political meaning of καλὸς κἀγαθός, e.g. Xen. Hell. II. 3. 12, Pl. Rep. VIII. 569A.

13. τετράγωνον. Simonides avails himself of a Pythagorean notion: among the Pythagoreans the number 4 was sacred, as being the first square number: see Ritter and Preller7, § 54. The expression τετράγωνος ἀνήρ became afterwards almost proverbial for a perfect man: Sauppe refers to Ar. Rhet. III. 11. 1411b. 27 ολ̔̂ον τὸν ἀγαθὸν ἄνδρα φάναι εἶναι τετράγωνον: ἄμφω γὰρ τέλεια.

16. καὶ πάνυ μοιμεμεληκός. From this and 347A where the same is implied of Hippias, it would seem that the poem was thought to be difficult.

19. ἔφην ἐγὼ καλῶς τε καὶ ὀρθῶς. This, Bergk's emendation, is generally accepted. B has ἔφην ἐγώ τε καὶ ὀρθῶς: Τ ἔφην ἔγωγε καὶ ὀρθῶς.

24. ἐμμελέωςνέμεται. ἐμμελέως belongs to εἰρημένον, and νέμεται is poetic for νομίζεται: cf. (with Sauppe) Soph. O.R. 1080 ἐγὼ δ᾽ ἐμαυτὸν παῖδα τῆς τύχης νέμων. The story is (schol. to Plato, Hipp. Maior, 304E quoted by Sauppe) that Pittacus, when ruler of Mitylene, on hearing of Periander's rapid conversion into a tyrant, sat down at an altar and begged to be released of his rule, assigning as his reason ὡς χαλεπὸν ἐσθλὸν ἔμμεναι. The scholiast adds that Solon when he heard the remark capped it with χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά. Pittacus is mentioned side by side with Bias and Simonides as one of the σοφοὶ καὶ μακάριοι ἄνδρες in Rep. I. 335E.

29-31. o(mologei=sqai—o(mologei=n. The middle is said of things, and the active of persons, according to the general rule.

34. ὀλίγον δὲ τοῦ ποιήματος εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν: these words as well as προϊόντος τοῦ ᾁσματος in 339Care in favour of the supposition that some verses are wanting between ἄνευ ψόγου τετυγμένον and οὐδέ μοι ἐμμελέως: see Appendix I, pp. 213-14.

40. τὸ πρότερον: adverbial.

41. θόρυβον παρέσχεν καὶ ἔπαινον. θόρυβος denotes only ‘noise’, ‘tumult’ (cf. Rep. VI. 492C θόρυβοντοῦ ψόγου καὶ ἐπαίνου): καὶ ἔπαινον is needed to show that the noise was favourable. So above, 334Cἀνεθορύβησαν ὡς εὖ λέγοι. With παρέχειν in this sense cf. the phrase παρέχειν γέλωτα in Gorg. 473E and Theaet. 174C.

43. ὡσπερεὶ ὑπὸ ἀγαθοῦ πύκτου πληγείς. For the metaphor cf. Euthyd. 303A ἐγὼ μὲν οὖνὥσπερ πληγεὶς ὑπὸ τοῦ λόγου ἐκείμην ἄφωνος. Socrates describes the effect of Protagoras' questions on himself in words which recall the descriptions of his own dialectic in its effect on others: cf. e.g. Meno, 80 A ff.

44. ἐσκοτώθην τε καὶ εἰλιγγίασα. So BT: the second hand in T corrects to ἰλιγγίασα. According to Suidas (quoted by Schanz in Preface to Vol. VII, p. v) the Greeks wrote εἰλιγγιῶ, but ἴλιγγος. In Plato's MSS. εἰλιγγιῶ is somewhat less frequent than ἰλιγγιῶ.

45. ὥς γεἀληθῆ: see on 309A

46. ἐγγένηται: B and T have ἐκγένηται: ἐγγένηται is Heindorf's correction, now found in a Vienna MS. (Kral's I): cf. Phaedo, 86E ἵνα χρόνου ἐγγενομένου βουλευσώμεθα τί ἐροῦμεν.

49. σὸς μέντοιπολίτης. Iulis in Ceos was their native place. μέντοι is ‘surely’. Notice the emphasis on σός and compare σέ in ll. 50 and 55.

50. παρακαλεῖν is future: cf. Theaet. 183D ἀλλά μοι δοκῶοὐ πείσεσθαι αὐτῷ, Phaedr. 228C δοκεῖς σὺ οὐδαμῶς με ἀφήσειν: tr. ‘therefore I think I will call you to my assistance’. ἐγώ and σέ are contrasted in view of the illustration which is about to follow.

ὥσπερ ἔφη κτλ.: ὥσπερ corresponds to καὶ ἐγώ in l. 55: as, according to Homer, Scamander called on Simois, so look you, I call upon you. For ὥσπερ used in this way see above, note on 330A The other editors take δοκῶ οὖν ἐγὼ παρακαλεῖν σέ with the ὥσπερ clause, and, regarding παρακαλεῖν as a present, print a full stop after σχῶμεν in the quotation; but (1) there is a certain awkwardness in the repetition ‘I think I am summoning you’ and ‘so look you, I am summoning you’; (2) the quotation does not finish with σχῶμεν, but ἐκπέρσῃ in l. 56 belongs to it also—a point which is against separating φίλε κασίγνητεσχῶμεν from the following clause. In the view which we have taken a fresh start begins with ὥσπερ, after which the actual summons follows in the present ἀτὰρ καὶ ἐγὼ σὲ παρακαλῶ.

51. ἔφη Ὁμηρος. Il. XXI. 305 ff. οὐδὲ Σκάμανδρος ἔληγε τὸ ὃν μένος ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι μᾶλλον χώετο ΡηλείωνιΣιμόεντι δὲ κέκλετ᾽ ἀύσας: Φίλε κασίγνητε, σθένος ἀνέπος ἀμφότεποί ρεπ σχῶμεν, ἐρεὶ τάχα ἄστυ μέγα Πριάμοιο ἄνακτος ἐκπέρσει. This ἐκπέρσει explains the occurrence of ἐκπέρσῃ in l. 56, although (as Heindorf shows) the same metaphor is occasionally found in tragedy (but hardly in prose), e.g. Trach. 1104 τυφλῆς ὑπ᾽ ἄτης ἐκπεπόρθημαι τάλας.

55. ἀτάρ: cf. above 335D

57. μουσικῆς: ‘culture’, as often; here not without some sarcasm, in reference to Prodicus' ὀνομάτων ὀρθότης, exemplified in 337Aff.

58. βούλεσθαιἐπιθυμεῖν. βούλεσθαι is of will, ἐπιθυμεῖν of desire. The distinction is generally well marked in Plato: see note on Apol. 25C and cf. Cope on Ar. Rhet. II. 19. 9. Prodicus does not touch on this example in his speech in 337, but it is quite in Plato's way to select a fresh example (cf. Theaet. 147A-B, 166E by the side of 159C, 169A-B), which may in this case be supposed to come from Prodicus' lectures (cf. 341A. We should expect the article to be repeated with ἐπιθυμεῖν, as the two words are to be distinguished (cf. below in l. 63 τὸ γενέσθαι καὶ τὸ εἶναι); but the article is sometimes dropped with the second of two words even when the words are contrasted, e.g. Euthyphr. 9C τὸ ὅσιον καὶ μή. Here the effect of its omission is perhaps to suggest that the two notions are after all more like than different.

63. γενέσθαιεἶναι. The distinction though long ago recognised by the philosophers was not always present in ordinary speech: otherwise (as Kroschel points out) Protagoras' censure of Simonides would be too absurd, and Socrates' pretended bewilderment out of place. But that Simonides in this poem drew a distinction between γενέσθαι and εἶναι is certain: whether it was the same distinction as Socrates himself draws later is another question; see on γενόμενον δὲἀδύνατον in 344B

69. τὸ αὐτόν. B and T here have τὸ αὐτόν, which Schanz retains: the form occurs on inscriptions and once or twice in Plato's MSS.: v. Schanz, XII, vii.

70. ἔλεγεν, τὸ χαλεπὸν γενέσθαι. So Heindorf. ἔλεγεν is ‘said’, not ‘meant’, and the sentence is intended to prove what is stated in the last sentence, viz. that Pittacus οὺ τὸ αὐτὸν ἑαυτῷ ἔλεγεν (said), ἀλλ᾽ ἄλλο. τό goes with the whole clause χαλεπὸν γενέσθαι ἐσθλόν; the emphasis is on γενέσθαι: for which reason τὸ ἔμμεναι in the next line (for τὸ ἔμμεναι ἐσθλὸν χαλεπόν) suffices. It is unnecessary to read (with Schanz and Kroschel) ἔλεγενχαλεπόν, τὸ γενέσθαι ἐσθλόν, or ἔλεγε χαλεπόν, γενέσθαι ἐσθλόν with Sauppe.

75. Πρόδικος ὅδε καὶ ἄλλοι πολλοί. Socrates dissociates himself from the others, because he is about to give a different solution of Simonides' apparently contradictory statements (in 344Bff.).

76. Ἡσίοδον: in Works and Days, 289 ff. τῆς δ᾽ ἀρετῆς ἱδπῶτα θεοὶ ρποράποιθεν ἔθηκαν ἀθάνατοι: μακπὸς δὲ καὶ ὄπθιος οἶμος ἐς αὐτὴν καὶ τπηχὺς τὸ ρπῶτον: ἐρὴν δ᾽ εἰς ἄκπον ἵκηται, ῥηιδίη δἤπειτα πέλει, χαλεπή περ ἐοῦσα. This passage was very famous in antiquity: Plato cites it again in Rep. II. 364C, Laws, IV. 718E. Hesiod in effect says it is difficult to become good, but easy to be good. Simonides himself refers to Hesiod's verses in Frag. 58 (Bergk) ἔστι τις λόγος τὰν ἀρετὰν ναίειν δυσαμβάτοις ἐπὶ ρέτπαις, νῦν δέ μιν θεῶν χῶπον ἁγνὸν ἀμφέρειν. . .οὐδ᾽ ἀραντᾶν βλεφάποις θνατῶν ἔσορτον, μὴ δακέθυμος ἱδπὼς ἔνδοθεν μόλῃ θ᾽ ἵκηταί τ᾽ ἐς ἄκρον ἀνδρείας.

80. ἐκτῆσθαι: to be taken with ῥηϊδίην. B and T read κτῆσθαι, but cf. 340E For the form see above on 319A

Creative Commons License
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.

hide References (33 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (33):
    • Aristotle, Rhetoric, 1391a
    • Plato, Republic, 365c
    • Plato, Republic, 331d
    • Plato, Republic, 335e
    • Plato, Republic, 364c
    • Plato, Republic, 489b
    • Plato, Republic, 492c
    • Plato, Republic, 569a
    • Plato, Apology, 17d
    • Plato, Apology, 25c
    • Plato, Phaedo, 86e
    • Plato, Euthyphro, 9c
    • Plato, Theaetetus, 183d
    • Plato, Theaetetus, 174c
    • Plato, Phaedrus, 228c
    • Plato, Euthydemus, 303a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 319a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 338d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 309a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 330a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 334a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 334c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 335d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 337a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 338e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 339c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 340e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 341a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 344b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 347a
    • Plato, Greater Hippias, 304e
    • Plato, Lesser Hippias, 363c
    • Homer, Iliad, 21.305
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: