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[95a] I think you know that yourself.1

Meno, I think Anytus is angry, and I am not at all surprised: for he conceives, in the first place, that I am speaking ill of these gentlemen; and in the second place, he considers he is one of them himself. Yet, should the day come when he knows what “speaking ill” means, his anger will cease; at present he does not know.2 Now you must answer me: are there not good and honorable men among your people also?

Certainly. [95b]

Well then, are they willing to put themselves forward as teachers of the young, and avow that they are teachers and that virtue is to be taught?

No, no, Socrates, I assure you: sometimes you may hear them refer to it as teachable, but sometimes as not.

Then are we to call those persons teachers of this thing, when they do not even agree on that great question?

I should say not, Socrates.

Well, and what of the sophists? Do you consider these, its only professors, [95c] to be teachers of virtue?

That is a point, Socrates, for which I admire Gorgias: you will never hear him promising this, and he ridicules the others when he hears them promise it. Skill in speaking is what he takes it to be their business to produce.

Then you do not think the sophists are teachers of virtue?

I cannot say, Socrates. I am in the same plight as the rest of the world: sometimes I think that they are, sometimes that they are not.

And are you aware that not only you and other political folk [95d] are in two minds as to whether virtue is to be taught, but Theognis the poet also says, you remember, the very same thing?

In which part of his poems?

In those elegiac lines where he says—“Eat and drink with these men; sit with them, and he pleasing unto them, who wield great power; for from the good wilt thou win thee lessons in the good; but mingle with the bad,
” [95e] “and thou wilt lose even the sense that thou hast.” Theognis 33-36 BergkDo you observe how in these words he implies that virtue is to be taught?

He does, evidently.

But in some other lines he shifts his ground a little, saying—“Could understanding be created and put into a man
Theognis 434-438 Bergk (I think it runs thus) “many high rewards would they obtain”“

1 Anytus goes away. His parting words show that (in Plato's view) he regarded Socrates as an enemy of the restored democracy which, he hints, has popular juries only too ready to condemn such an awkward critic.

2 This is probably not a reference to a prosecution of Anytus himself, but a suggestion that what he needs is a Socratic discussion on “speaking ill,” for “ill” may mean “maliciously,” “untruthfully.” “ignorantly,” etc.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Thomas W. Allen, E. E. Sikes, Commentary on the Homeric Hymns, HYMN TO HERMES
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