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Socrates expounds the next section of the poem in accordance with his theory of the purport of the whole and finds therein his own doctrine that ill doing comes from want of knowledge.

1. μετὰ τοῦτοδιελθών. This sentence is somewhat difficult. τοῦτο means from ἄνδρ᾽ ἀγαθόν to ἄνευ ψόγου τετυγμένον. The reference in ὀλίγα διελθών must be to the verses omitted between τετυγμένον and οὐδέ μοι ἐμμελέως etc. The logical object of λέγει is the sentence (in l, 4) γενόμενον δὲ διαμένειν etc., which is Socrates' paraphrase of οὐδέ μοι ἐμμελέως, etc., but the grammatical object begins with ὅτι γενέσθαι—the stress being, as often happens, thrown upon the δέ clause: ‘While it is truly difficult to become a good man (albeit possible for some length of time), to continue in that state after you have become good and to be a good man, etc.’ γενέσθαι μὲν ἄνδρα ἀγαθόν, etc., is not, as Socrates says, μετὰ τοῦτο, but his desire to expound the τύπον τὸν ὅλον of the poem throughout (διὰ παντὸς τοῦ ᾁσματος) leads him to begin at the beginning, even at the cost of an error not unnatural in conversational style. See Appendix I, pp. 214-15.

ὡς ἂν εἰ λέγοι λόγον: ‘as if he were making a speech’, i.e. not a poem. The speech begins at γενέσθαι μέν, for ὅτι here introduces oratio recta.

3. οί̂ον τε μέντοι ἐπί γε χρόνον τινά. These words do not give the gist of the lost lines: still less are they to be assigned (with Bonghi) to the poem itself, for (as Aars remarks, ‘Das Gedichtdes Simonides’ in Platons Protagoras (1888), p. 12, n. 3) it is implied by Socrates in 343Dff. that μέν in γενέσθαι μέν has no expressed antithesis: they are educed by Socrates himself from χαλεπὸν ἀλαθέως. Cf. below 346Eπάντας δὲ ἐπαίνημι καὶ φιλέω ἑκὼν (ἐνταῦθα δεῖ ἐν τῷ ἑκών διαλαβεῖν λέγοντα) ὅστις ἕρδῃ μηδὲν αἰσχρόν, ἄκων δ᾽ ἔστιν οὓς ὲγὼ ἐπαινῶ καὶ φιλῶ. The likeliest supposition is that of Blass—that the lost verses contained a further elaboration of the idea in ἀγαθὸν ἀλαθέως.

4. γενόμενον δὲ...ἀδύνατον. Socrates correctly apprehends the gist of Simonides' objection to the saying of Pittacus, although Simonides himself no doubt read more into the ἔμμεναι of Pittacus than Pittacus intended it to express. Simonides here takes ἔμμεναι to denote a permanent state, and γενέσθαι as not permanent, although in ἄνδρα δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι μὴ οὐ κακὸν ἔμμεναι he himself uses ἔμμεναι more loosely: see below on 344E l. 26. It is however most improbable that Simonides meant by γενέσθαι ‘to become’, i.e. ‘to be made’, as Socrates everywhere implies: by ἄνδρ᾽ ἀγαθὸν μὲν γενέσθαι ἀλαθέως he meant only ‘that a man should prove himself truly good’, i.e. quit him like a perfect man: cf. Hdt. VII. 224 Λεωνίδηςπίπτει ἀνὴρ γενόμενος ἄριστος, Xen. Anab. IV. 1. 26 ἐρωτᾶν εἴ τις αὐτῶν ἔστιν ὅστις ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς ἐθέλοι γενέσθαι. The usage is thoroughly idiomatic.

6. ἀλλὰ θεὸς ἂν μόνοςγέρας. Plato, Symp. 204A θεῶν οὐδεὶς φιλοσοφεῖ οὐδ᾽ ἐπιθυμεῖ σοφὸς γενέσθαι: ἔστι γάρ.

8. ἄνδρα δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστικαθέλῃ: see below on 344E l. 30.

12-14. ou) to\n kei/menon—to\n de\ kei/menon ou)/. For the repetition compare (with Sauppe) Gorg. 521E οὐ πρὸς χάριν λέγωνἀλλὰ πρὸς τὸ βέλτιστον, οὐ πρὸς τὸ ἥδιστον.

15. ὄντα ποτὲκαθέλοι. ποτέ goes with καθέλοι as with καταβάλοι in l. 13.

19. καὶ ἰατρὸν ταὐτὰ ταῦτα. ταὐτὰ ταῦτα is virtually adverbial as in Meno, 90D οὐκοῦν καὶ περὶ αὐλήσεως καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τὰ αὐτὰ ταῦτα;

20. ἐγχωρεῖ κακῶ̣ γενέσθαι. Socrates says γενέσθαι, although Simonides said ἔμμεναι; see on E (l. 26) below.

21. παρ᾽ ἄλλου ποιητοῦ. Xen. Mem. 1. 2. 20 μαρτυρεῖ δὲ καὶ τῶν ποιητῶν τε λέγωνἐσθλῶν μὲν γὰρ ἀπ᾽ ἐσθλὰ διδάξεαι: ἢν δὲ κακοῖσι συμμίσγῃς, ἀπολεῖς καὶ τὸν ἐόντα νόον’, καὶ λέγωναὐτὰρ ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς τοτὲ μὲν κακός, ἄλλοτε δ᾽ ἐσθλός’. The first of these quotations is known (see Meno, 95D) to be from Theognis, so that it seems clear that the second must be from some other poet. It is difficult to resist the impression that the author of this line intended ἀγαθός, κακός, and ἐσθλός to have a political sense, and was alluding to the ups and downs of an aristocrat's life in times of civil dissension: cf. Theognis, 1109-10 Κύρν᾽, οἱ πρόσθ᾽ ἀγαθοὶ νῦν αὖ κακοί, οἱ δὲ κακοὶ ρπὶν νῦν ἀγαθοί: τίς κεν ταῦτ᾽ ἀνέχοιτ᾽ ἐσορῶν; Euripides, Hecuba, 595 ff. (quoted by Cron) pointedly contradicts the sentiment of this line (as interpreted by Socrates): ἄνθ ρωποι δ᾽ ἀεὶ μὲν πονηρὸς οὐδὲν ἄλλο πλὴν κακός, δ᾽ ἐσθλὸς ἐσθλός, οὐδὲ συμφορᾶς ὕπο (alluding to Simonides' poem) φύσιν διέφθειρ᾽, ἀλλὰ χρηστός ἐστ᾽ ἀεί.

25. εὐμήχανον καὶ σοφὸν καὶ ἀγαθόν. εὐμήχανος is identified with ἀγαθός by means of the middle step σοφός, σοφία being ἀγαθόν because it is one of the virtues. See on τῷ ἐπιστάτῃ καὶ ἐπαἳοντι in Crito, 47B.

26. οὐκ ἔστι μὴ οὐ κακὸν ἔμμεναι. If Simonides had consistently carried out the distinction between γένεσις and οὐσία attributed to him (in part rightly: see on 344B l. 4), he would have used γενέσθαι, not ἔμμεναι here. Socrates throughout interprets ἔμμεναι as equivalent to γενέσθαι in this part of the poem, in spite of his previous distinction: but so (apparently) did Simonides: see on 344B

28. τὸ δ᾽ ἐστίν κτλ. τὸ δέ ‘whereas in point of fact’ is very frequent in Plato: see on Apol. 23A. Notice how Socrates reverts to the beginning of the poem: see note on 346Dand Appendix I, p. 214.

29. δυνατὸν δὲἐσθλόν. There is not sufficient ground for rejecting (with most of the editors) ἐσθλόν: its position is a trifle awkward, but not more, since δυνατὸν δέ is parenthetical, the μέν after γενέσθαι being balanced by δέ in ἔμμεναι δέ. Heindorf reads δυνατὸν δέ, ἐσθλὸν δ᾽ ἔμμεναι with slight MS. authority.

30. πράξας μὲν γὰρ εὖ κτλ. γάρ is probably due to Plato, who represents this sentence as adducing a reason for ἔμμεναι δὲ ἀδύνατον: see Appendix I, p. 217. πράξας εὖ is ‘if he has prospered’: the whole sentiment is the converse of ἄνδρα δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι μὴ οὐ κακὸν ἔμμεναι and is characteristic of the ordinary Greek moral code: cf. Hom. Od. XVIII. 136-7 τοῖος γὰρ νόος ἐστὶν ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων οἷον ἐπ᾽ ἦμαρ ἄγῃσι πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε. The view that affliction involves moral degeneracy appears in the transition of meaning in πονηρός and μοχθηρός from ‘afflicted’ to ‘depraved’: the common view that ‘prosperity’ brings virtue is involved in the usual equivocation on εὖ πράττειν ‘fare well’ and ‘do well’; see on Crito, 47E and Euthyphr, 3A. After κακὸς δ᾽ εἰ κακῶς is to be understood ἔπραξεν.

32. τίς οὖν εἰς γράμματα κτλ. In order to read into Simonides the doctrine that virtue is knowledge and vice ignorance, Socrates assigns to πράξας εὖ in the poem the meaning of acting well, rather than faring well.

36. κακὸς δὲ κακῶς, sc. πράξας: a free rendering of κακὸς δ᾽ εἰ κακῶς of the poem, which Kral (following Ast) reads here against the MSS.

40. κακῶς πράξαντες, i.e. εἰ κακῶς πράξαιμεν, as the words of the poem show. Socrates' reasoning is: to become a bad doctor by practising badly, you must first have been a good doctor: for if you cannot become a doctor by practising badly, obviously you cannot become a bad doctor. The argument is as fallacious as it is ingenious: it assumes that κακὸς ἰατρός is a twofold notion, and more than ἰατρός, whereas it is a single notion and less. It would be more in conformity with experience to say that the ἰδιώτης does become by practising badly a κακὸς ἰατρός.

45. αὕτη γὰρ μόνηστερηθῆναι. This sentence (necessary as the converse of the statement in 345Athat good action comes from knowledge) is introduced as an explanation of ὑπὸ χρόνου κτλ., because χρόνος, πόνος, νόσος, etc., produce ἐπιστήμης στέρησις.

47. μέλλειγενέσθαι. See on 312Cabove.

50. διατελοῦντα ἀγαθόν explains ἀγαθόν more precisely: cf. 344Bγενόμενον δὲ διαμένειν ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ ἕξει καὶ εἶναι ἄνδρα ἀγαθόν. διατελεῖν without a participle seems not to be elsewhere found in Plato, though it occurs in Thucydides and others.

52. ἐπὶ πλεῖστον: ‘diutissime, ut ἐπὶ πολύ saepe significat diu’. καί is ‘also’ not ‘and’, and balances οὓς ἂν οἱ θεοὶ φιλῶσιν: οἱ θεοφιλεῖς are also ἄριστοι.

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hide References (12 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (12):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.224
    • Homer, Odyssey, 18.136
    • Plato, Apology, 23a
    • Plato, Symposium, 204a
    • Plato, Gorgias, 521e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 312c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 343d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 344b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 344e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 345a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 346d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 346e
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