previous next

οἱ νέοι πολῖται: ‘the new citizens,’ viz. these quondam slaves etc., not (as D. and V.) ‘the young citizens.’ It is, in view, for example, of νέους ἑταίρους ‘new friends’ IX 575 D, quite unnecessary to read οἱ νεοπολῖται (apparently with Pollux III 56: cf. also id. IX 26), although according to Diodorus XIV 7 Dionysius called his body-guard of emancipated slaves νεοπολῖται. See Freeman's Sicily l.c.

οὐκ ἐτὸς κτλ. A highly ironical and sarcastic sentence. It is not without reason that tragedy ‘in general’ (ὅλως is not ‘on the whole’ as D. and V. render) is thought σοφόν, and Euripides a mastertragedian (Euripides was notoriously ‘σοφός’—see Blaydes on Ar. Clouds 1378): for he gave utterance inter alia to this sapient remark (for ἐφθέγξατο of an oracular, would-be-profound observation, see on VI 505 C): σοφοὶ τύραννοι τῶν σοφῶν συνουσίᾳ, in which by ‘τῶν σοφῶν’ he meant of course οἷς ξύνεστιν ( τύραννος), the associates of the tyrant, i.e., as we have seen, a rabble of emancipated slaves and foreign mercenaries. In τραγῳδίασοφὸν δοκεῖ εἶναι Plato is also perhaps scoffing at the constant use of σοφός in tragedy, especially by Euripides: σοφός is, no doubt, that σοφόν says! None but a σοφός could have written σοφοὶ τύραννοι τῶν σοφῶν συνουσίᾳ. The poet of course really meant that tyrants gain wisdom from the wise men who throng the ‘rich man's courts’ (VI 489 B note); but Plato maliciously twists the words into a compliment to tyrants and their rabble rout, and makes them a reason for tabooing tragic poets as τυραννίδος ὑμνητάς (B). Cobet would omit τούς before σοφούς: but the article is necessary because τοὺς σοφούς represents τῶν σοφῶν of the quotation. As regards the verse itself, it was Sophocles (in his Αἴας Αοκρός), and not Euripides, who was the author: see the references in Schneider, with Blaydes on Ar. Thesm. 21, Frag. 311 and Dindorf on Soph. Frag. 12 = Nauck Frag. 13. Plato's error is repeated in Theag. 125 B, and the Scholiast on Ar. Thesm. l.c. remarks that Aristophanes and Antisthenes made the same mistake, suggesting that either Aristophanes misled the others (so also Hirmer Entst. u. Komp. d. pl. Pol. p. 658 note 2), or that the two tragedians wrote the same line independently (so Schneider also thinks). The latter supposition is unlikely. Perhaps the reduplication of the cant Euripidean σοφός is responsible for a kind of error which was easier in antiquity than it would be now. There is little to be said in favour of Dümmler's conjecture (Akadem. p. 16), that Antisthenes had quoted the line as from Euripides in an attack on Plato for associating with tyrants (Dionysius I and II), and that Plato, in his hurry to reply, forgets to rectify his assailant's error. Still less should we suppose that Plato's perverse exegesis is meant to caricature Antisthenes' way of expounding poetry.

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 (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae, 21
    • Plato, Theages, 125b
    • Aristophanes, Clouds, 1378
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: