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[174a] just as my friend told it to me.

1 He said that he met with Socrates fresh from the bath and wearing his best pair of slippers—quite rare events with him—and asked him whither he was bound in such fine trim.

“To dinner at Agathon's,” he answered. “I evaded him and his celebrations yesterday, fearing the crowd; but I agreed to be present today. So I got myself up in this handsome style in order to be a match for my handsome host. Now tell me,” said he, “do you feel in the mood [174b] for going unasked to dinner?”

“For anything,” he said he replied, “that you may bid me do.”

“Come along then,” he said; “let us corrupt the proverb with a new version:

What if they go of their own accord,

The good men to our Goodman's2 board?

Though indeed Homer3 may be said to have not merely corrupted the adage, but debauched it: for after setting forth Agamemnon as a man eminently good at warfare, [174c] and Menelaus as only ““a spearman spiritless,””4 he makes the latter come unbidden to the banquet of the former, who was offering sacrifice and holding a feast; so the worse man was the guest of the better.”

To this my friend's answer, as he told me, was: “I am afraid mine, most likely, is a case that fits not your version, Socrates, but Homer's—a dolt coming unbidden to the banquet of a scholar. Be sure, then, to have your excuse quite ready when you bring me; for I shall not own to coming unasked, [174d] but only on your invitation.”

“‘If two go along together,’” he remarked, “‘there's one before another’5 in devising what we are to say. Well, off we go.”

After some such conversation, he told me, they started off. Then Socrates, becoming absorbed in his own thoughts by the way, fell behind him as they went; and when my friend began to wait for him he bade him go on ahead. [174e] So he came to Agathon's house, and found the door open; where he found himself in a rather ridiculous position. For he was met immediately by a servant from within, who took him where the company was reclining, and he found them just about to dine. However, as soon as Agathon saw him “Ha, Aristodemus,” he cried, “right welcome to a place at table with us! If you came on some other errand, put it off to another time: only yesterday I went round to invite you, but failed to see you. But how is it you do not bring us Socrates?”

At that I turned back for Socrates, he said, but saw no sign of him coming after me: so I told them how I myself had come along with Socrates, since he had asked me to dine with them.

“Very good of you to come,” he said, “but where is the man?”

1 How Aristodemus fell in with Socrates and came to the Banquet

2 The name Agathon resembles the Greek for “good men's” in the proverb, which seems to have been: αὐτόματοι δ᾽ ἀγαθοὶ ἀγαθῶν ἐπὶ δαῖτας ἴασι (Athen. i. 8A; Bacchyl. fr. 33). The “corruption” consists in putting the dative Ἀγάθωνι for ἀγαθῶν; though perhaps the reference is to another form of the proverb which had δειλῶν (cravens') instead of ἀγαθῶν.

3 Hom. Il. 17.587 Μενέλαον ὑπετρέσας, τὸ πάρος γε μαλθακὸς αἰχμητής, and Hom. Il. 2.408 αὐτόματος δέ οἱ ἦλθε βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Μενέλαος.

4 Hom. Il. 17.587

5 Cf. Hom. Il. 10.224 σύν τε δύ᾽ ἐρχομένω, καί τε πρὸ τοῦ ἐνόησεν ὅππως κέρδος ἔῃ, “if two go along together, there's one to espy before another how a profit may be had.”

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