previous next

τι νῦν -- στόμα: “‘what rose to our lips just now, whatever it be,’ as Aeschylus observes.” See Aesch. Frag. 337 Dindorf=334 Nauck. The reference in νῦν, which here as in some other places (III 414 B note) has the meaning of ‘just now,’ is to 562 E καὶ τελευτᾶν μέχρι τῶν θηρίων τὴν ἀναρχίαν ἐμφυομένην. Nauck restores the fragment of Aeschylus in the form ὅτι νυν ἦλθ᾽ ἐπὶ στόμα: but the enclitic is unpleasing, and as ὅτι is absent from the other two places where the quotation occurs (Plat. Amat. 763 B, Them. Or. IV 52 B) Aeschylus probably wrote νῦν γὰρ ἦλθ᾽ ἐπὶ στόμα (‘just come to my lips’) or something of the sort. With the general sense cf. III 394 D. Similar expressions in Greek literature are collected by Schaefer on Dion. Hal. de comp. verb. pp. 12, 13. Jackson ingeniously proposes to connect the present passage with Arist. Eth. Nic. III 2. 1111^{a} 9 ff., where he conjectures οἷον λέγοντές φασιν ἐκπεσεῖν αὑτοὺς (for ) οὐκ εἰδέναι ὅτι ἀπόρρητα ἦν, ὥσπερ Αἰσχύλος τὰ μυστικά (Proceedings of the Camb. Phil. Soc. XIII 8 and Journal of Philology XXVII p. 159 f.). “Is it possible” he asks “that the phrase ἦλθ᾽ ἐπὶ στόμα is a proverbial survival of the plea urged by Aeschylus in plain prose on the occasion referred to in the Ethics?” I think an Athenian speaking in plain prose would have said ἦλθεν ἐπὶ στόμα or ἐπὶ τὸ στόμα, not ἦλθ᾽ ἐπὶ στόμα. The elision is tragic.

οὕτω: i.e. in the spirit of the Aeschylean phrase: the idea occurred to me, and it shall out, though never so extravagant and absurd!

ἐλευθερώτερα. For the concord cf. Phil. 45 E and Laws 657 D (Ast).

τὴν παροιμίαν. The proverb was οἵαπερ δέσποινα, τοία χἀ κύων (Schol.), and meant <*>τι ὁποία δέσποινα, τοιαύτη καὶ θεραπαινίς ‘like mistress, like maid.’ Plato takes κύων literally: hence ἀτεχνῶς. See Leutsch und Schneidewin Paroem. Gr. II p. 44. The traveller in modern Greece will remember the ‘democratic dogs’ of Peloponnesian villages.

γίγνονταί τε δὴ κτλ.: ‘aye, and there arise both horses and asses’ etc. This explanation—Jowett's—catches the mock-heroic humour of the passage and is at the same time easier grammatically than to supply, with Schneider, οἷοίπερ οἱ δεσπόται or, with Campbell, ἐλεύθεροι or the like. There is no ground for suspecting the text as some have done. Plato's humorous description brings vividly before us the anarchical condition of the Athenian streets. Foot-passengers have a poor time of it where the very beasts of burden forsooth are tainted with the spirit of democracy! “The regulation of traffic,” remarks Bosanquet, perhaps a little sententiously, “is in some degree a real test of social order.” No doubt this is what Plato means.

ἐμβάλλοντες κτλ. See the amusing and characteristic anecdote about Alcibiades' childhood in Plut. Alc. 2. 4 μικρὸς ὢν ἔπαιζεν ἀστραγάλοις ἐν τῷ στενωπῷ, τῆς δὲ βολῆς καθηκούσης εἰς αὐτὸν ἅμαξα φορτίων ἐπῄει. πρῶτον μὲν οὖν ἐκέλευε περιμεῖναι τὸν ἄγοντα τὸ ζεῦγος: ὑπέπιπτε γὰρ βολὴ τῇ παρόδῳ τῆς ἁμάξης: μὴ πειθομένου δὲ δἰ ἀγροικίαν, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπάγοντος, οἱ μὲν ἄλλοι παῖδες διέσχον, δ᾽ Ἀλκιβιάδης καταβαλὼν ἐπὶ στόμα πρὸ τοῦ ζεύγους καὶ παρατείνας ἑαυτὸν ἐκέλευεν οὕτως, εἰ βούλεται, διεξελθεῖν, ὥστε τὸν μὲν ἄνθρωπον ἀνακροῦσαι τὸ ζεῦγος ὀπίσω δείσαντα, τοὺς δ᾽ ἰδόντας ἐκπλαγῆναι καὶ μετὰ βοῆς συνδραμεῖν πρὸς αὐτον.

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 (1 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (1):
    • Plato, Philebus, 45e
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: