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ἐπαΐοντες. I should adopt the accusative with Stallbaum and others were it not for οἰόμενοι. Schneider is fully justified in saying “si Plato ἐπαΐοντες scripserat et οἰόμενοι, fieri vix poterat, quin prius vitiosum quibusdam et in accusativum mutandum videretur: alterum ipsa distantia tutum erat.” This is precisely what has happened, for while q (with some other MSS, but not Π or Ξ) has ἐπαΐοντας, all the MSS, without exception, have οἰόμενοι. The anacoluthon is not harsher than other instances in which the best MSS have the nominative of the participle instead of the accusative, e.g. Phaedr. 241 D, Soph. 219 E, Laws 885 D, Phaed. 81 A. See also Classen on Thuc. II 53. 4, where many parallel instances are quoted from Thucydides. A long and unperiodic sentence like the present is peculiarly liable to anacolutha: and one has occurred already in 488 C. For these reasons I now agree with Schneider and others that the text is sound. The nominatives πείθοντες and βιαζόμενοι may have suggested the change to Plato: “ψέγοντας propter ἐπαινοῦντας tenuit, mox velut impatiens tenoris diu servati paullisper de via deflexit” (Schneider). Similar ungrammatical anacolutha are found occasionally also in Inscriptions, when the sentence runs to a considerable length: see Meisterhans^{3} pp. 203, 205.

ὅπως δὲ...κυβερνητικήν. The sailors, Plato has already told us, have not the smallest idea that the true pilot must study the year and the seasons etc., if he is to be truly qualified to rule a ship (that is to say, from Plato's point of view, if he is to know how to steer), but as for how he shall steer—let people wish him to or no—of that they think it impossible to acquire either art or study and therewith (lit. ‘at-once-and’) the art of steersmanship. We may translate the sentence thus: ‘but art or system of how to steer, let alone whether people wish him to steer or no—that they think it impossible to acquire, and therewithal the art of steering.’ The true pilot, according to Plato, is one who knows how to steer. Whether others wish him to steer or no, is wholly irrelevant; see Pol. 293 A ff., where this principle is declared to be of universal application, and illustrated as follows from the case of doctors: ἰατροὺς δὲ οὐχ ἥκιστα νενομίκαμεν, ἐάν τε ἑκόντας ἐάν τε ἄκοντας ἡμᾶς ἰῶνταιπάντως οὐδὲν ἧττον ἰατρούς φαμεν, ἕωσπερ ἂν ἐπιστατοῦντες τέχνῃσῴζωσιν οἱ θεραπεύοντες ἕκαστοι τὰ θεραπευόμενα. Cf. ibid. C ἀναγκαῖον δὴ καὶ πολιτειῶνταύτην ὀρθὴν διαφερόντως εἶναι καὶ μόνην πολιτείαν, ἐν τις ἂν εὑρίσκοι τοὺς ἄρχοντας ἀληθῶς ἐπιστήμονας καὶ οὐ δοκοῦντας μόνον, ἐάν τε κατὰ νόμους ἐάν τε ἄνευ νόμων ἄρχωσι, καὶ ἑκόντων καὶ ἀκόντων κτλ. The expressions ἐάν τε ἑκόντας ἐάν τε ἄκοντας, and καὶ ἑκόντων καὶ ἀκόντων in these two passages, the general drift of which is the same as Plato's argument throughout this part of the Republic, exactly correspond to ἐάν τέ τινες βούλωνται ἐάν τε μή, and enable us to interpret that clause, as Schneider has already pointed out. Cf. also 296 E— 297 B. Plato, indeed, is ready to go farther still, and would maintain that he who knows how to steer is a true pilot, even although he does not touch the helm (cf. ibid. 292 E). If others wish for his services, it is their business to apply to him, not his to sue for the opportunity of doing them a service (infra 489 B, C). A like principle holds good in the government of cities, and the Platonic Socrates, though abstaining from political life, may fairly claim ἐπιχειρεῖν τῇ ὡς ἀληθῶς πολιτικῇ τέχνῃ καὶ πράττειν τὰ πολιτικὰ μόνος τῶν νῦν (Gorg. 521 D). The foolish sailors, on the other hand, desire only to get the helm into their hands (488 C): how to handle it, they know not, and deny that it is possible to learn (μήτε τέχνηνλαβεῖν). What of ἅμα καὶ τὴν κυβερνητικήν? These words should be taken closely with what goes before. The literal translation is (to acquire) ‘at once and the art of steering’: cf. Phil. 22 D βίος οὗτος γέγονεν αἱρετὸς ἅμα καὶ ἀγαθός ‘this life is at once choiceworthy and good.’ Now ‘to acquire at once the art of how to steer (ὅπως κυβερνήσει, τούτου τέχνην) and the art of steering’ is merely a way of saying ‘to acquire the art of how to steer and therewith the art of steering.’ He who learns the art and study of how to steer necessarily learns therewith the art of steering (“quarum qui compos factus sit, simul gubernatoriam artem teneat” Schneider): for κυβερνητική is, according to Plato, simply and solely the art of how to steer. τὴν κυβερνητικήν, in short, is nothing but the τέχνη and μελέτη τούτου ὅπως κυβερνήσει, expressed from Plato's point of view. Thus in denying that it is possible to learn either τέχνη or μελέτη of how to steer, the sailors are in effect emphatically denying that it is possible to learn κυβερνητική in Plato's sense of the word at all: cf. 488 B φάσκοντες μηδὲ διδακτὸν εἶναι. So much for the meaning of this passage as a whole. In regard to details, it should be noted that ὅπως means ‘how’: ‘ὅπως ad τούτου spectans modum et rationem potius quam finem significat’ (after Schneider). With Schneider also I understand κυβερνήσει as ‘shall steer’ and not ‘shall get possession of the helm.’ μελέτη is ‘study’ (in the more concrete sense of the word), rather than actual exercise or practice: cf. III 402 B ἔστι τῆς αὐτῆς τέχνης τε καὶ μελέτης. With τέχνην λαβεῖν cf. Pol. 300 E.

The above explanation agrees in the main with that of Schneider, and is in my opinion what Plato meant to say. For other views see App. I.

οἰόμενοι . οἰομένους is read by Stallbaum and others, but see note on line 25.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (5):
    • Plato, Phaedo, 81a
    • Plato, Sophist, 219e
    • Plato, Phaedrus, 241d
    • Plato, Philebus, 22d
    • Plato, Gorgias, 521d
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