previous next

εὐδαίμων εἶ κτλ.: ‘you are fortunate to be able to think etc.’: cf. V 450 C. εὐδαίμων is less common in this ironical sense than μακάριος.

ἑκάστη γὰρ κτλ.: ‘for each of them is, as the saying goes, no city, but a-many cities.’ The phrase τὸ τῶν παιζόντων in Plato seems always to mean ‘as they say in the proverb’ or ‘proverbial saying’: see IX 573 C, Laws 780 C, and cf. ib. 723 D. Now it is probable from the position of τὸ τῶν παιζόντων that ἀλλ᾽ οὐ πόλις forms part of the proverb: so that the whole saying may have run πόλεις μέν εἰσι παμπόλεις, ἀλλ᾽ οὐ πόλις. (Herwerden, more suo, cancels ἀλλ᾽ οὐ πόλις, but we have of course no right to take this step.) The form παμπόλεις for πάμπολλαι may be allowed in a pun on πόλεις, especially as the Epic plural of πολύς is sometimes found with feminine nouns. It should be remarked also that the first hand in Paris A wrote πάμπολαι (see cr. n.), though this may be merely accidental. What the ordinary application of the proverb was, we cannot say: presumably it was generally employed, as here by Plato, in speaking of a city divided against itself. The origin of the saying is to be sought in the variety of πεττεία known as πόλεις παίζειν, an expression which, according to the Scholiast on this passage of Plato, as well as Suidas s.v. πόλις, and Hesychius s.v. πόλεις παίζειν, had itself also a proverbial signification. In this game the abacus was divided into 60 spaces, each of which was called πόλις in ancient times (Photius s.v. πόλεις παίζειν ed. Porson. Porson's alteration of ξ́ i.e. 60 into ζ́ is a gratuitous change, as Schneider hints. See also Eustathius on Od. I p. 29. 13 ff., ed. Lips., quoted by Schneider). The name πόλις was moreover sometimes applied to the game itself (Cratinus Δραπετίδες Fr. 3 ed. Meineke καὶ κύνα καὶ πόλιν ἣν παίζουσιν), as well as to the πλινθίον or abacus on which it was played (Pollux IX 98). There is also, I think, some reason for believing that each of the players' sides was called collectively his πόλις. In Susemihl and Hicks Politics of Aristotle p. 148 note, Dr Jackson remarks that the words πάμπολλαι πόλεις, ἀλλ᾽ οὐ πόλις make it likely “that a compact body of pieces was called πόλις.” If we may go further, and suppose that the whole of a player's side was called his πόλις, the words of Plato δύο μὲνπολεμία ἀλλἡλαις, μὲν πενήτων, δὲ πλουσίων: τούτων δ᾽ ἐν ἑκατέρᾳ πάνυ πολλαί receive additional point by becoming an exact counterpart of the game. A defeated player, gazing ruefully at his depopulated squares, each of which, as well as the whole of his side, is a ‘city,’ might therefore well exclaim, ‘Cities upon cities, but no city!’ for there can be no city without men (ἔρημος ἀνδρῶν μὴ ξυνοικούντων ἔσω Soph. O. T. 57). I have thought of other possibilities, but this hypothesis as to the origin of the proverb suits the words of Plato better than any other which I can devise. For a different view see Hoffmann in Fl. Jahrb. 1863 pp. 240 ff. Cf. also Meineke Fr. Com. Gr. II pp. 44 f. It should be mentioned that Stewart (Cl. Rev. VII p. 359) thinks there need be no allusion to the game of πόλεις in this passage, but only a jest about making one into many (cf. Men. 77 A παῦσαι πολλὰ ποιῶν ἐκ τοῦ ἑνός, ὅπερ φασὶ τοὺς συντρίβοντάς τι ἑκάστοτε οἱ σκώπτοντες), while Schneider finds only a “lusus in verbis atque in consociatione singularis et pluralis.” Neither of these suggestions meets the situation.

δύο -- κἂν ὁτιοῦν : ‘two, in any case,’ lit. ‘if there be even anything at all,’ i.e. ‘whatever there be.’ So also Schneider. The subject to ὁτιοῦν is impersonal, and not the city, as Jowett seems to suppose.

πολεμία. On this—comparatively rare —termination of the dual feminine in Plato see Roeper de dual. usu Pl. pp. 3 ff. Cf. IX 587 B note

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 (2 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Plato, Meno, 77a
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 57
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: