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The difficulties of this poem are well known, and have called forth many pages of comment.1 The restoration proposed by Schneidewin has met with most favour, and is printed in most texts of the Protagoras, not because it is thought to be certain, but as the nearest approach to certainty of which the case admits. It may be at once allowed that no restoration can claim to represent with certainty just what Simonides wrote in the order in which it was written. Plato is seldom careful to make his quotations accurate, and the perverse exposition of the meaning of this particular poem is hardly calculated to increase our confidence in his verbal accuracy here. Nevertheless, Plato is our sole authority for the poem in question, and consequently that restoration will be the most probable which, while it satisfies every metrical requirement, involves the fewest changes in the text and sequence of the poem as it stands in Plato.

The words apparently quoted from the poem, as they occur in the Bodleian manuscript, are according to Schanz as follows (we note obvious corrections at the foot of the page).

339B ἄνδρα2 ἀγαθὸν μὲν ἀλαθέως γενέσθαι χαλεπὸν χερσί3 τε καὶ ποσὶ καὶ νόῳ τετράγωνον ἄνευ ψόγου τετυγμένον

339C οὐδέ μοι ἐμμελέως τὸ Πιττάκιον4 ϝέμεται καίτοι σοφοῦ παρὰ φωτὸς εἰρημένον χαλεπὸν φάτο5 ἐσθλὸν ἔμμεναι

341E θεὸς ἂν μόνος τοῦτο6 ἔχοι γέρας

344C ἄνδρα δὲ7 οὐκ ἔστιν8 μὴ οὐ κακὸν ἔμμεναι ὃν ἂν ἀμήχανος συμφορὰ καθέλῃ

344E πράξας μὲν γὰρ εὖ πᾶς ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς κακὸς δ᾽ εἰ κακῶς

345C ἐπὶ πλεῖστον δὲ καὶ ἄριστοί εἰσιν οὒς ἂν οἱ θεοὶ φιλῶσιν

345C τοὔνεκεν οὔ ποτ᾽ ἐγὼ τὸ μὴ γενέσθαι δυνατὸν διζήμενος κεν ἐὰν9 ἐς ἄπρακτον ἐλπίδα μοῖραν αἰῶνος βαλέω πανάμωμον ἄνθρωπον εὐρυεδοῦς ὅσοι καρπὸν αἰνύμεθα χθονὸς ἔπειθ᾽ ὑμῖν εὑρὼν ἀπαγγελέω

345D πάντας δ᾽ ἐπαίνημιν10καὶ φιλέω ἑκὼν ὅστις ἕρδῃ μηδὲν αἰσχρὸν ἀνάγκῃ δ᾽ οὐδὲ θεοὶ μάχονται

346C ἔμοιγε ἐξαρκεῖ ὃς ἂν μὴ κακὸς μηδ᾽ ἄγαν ἀπάλαμνος εἰδώς γε ὀνήσει πόλιν11 δίκαν ὑγιὴς ἀνήρ οὐ μὴν ἐγὼ μωμήσομαι οὐ γάρ εἰμι φιλόμωμος τῶν γὰο ἠλιθίων ἀπείρων γένεθλα12 πάντα τοι καλὰ τοῖσί τ᾽ αἰσχρὰ μὴ μέμικται.

In 346DE part of the poem is paraphrased and repeated in the words οὐ ζητῶ πανάμωμον ἄνθρωπον εὐρυεδοῦς ὅσοι καρπὸν αἰνύμεθα χθονός, ἔρειθ᾽ ὑμῖν εὑπὼν ἀραγγελέω: ὥστε τούτου γ᾽ ἕνεκα οὐδένα ἐραινέσομαι, ἀλλά μοι ἐξαπκεῖ ἂν μέσος καὶ μηδὲν κακὸν ροιῇ, ὡς ἐγὼ πάντας φιλέω καὶ ἐπαίνημι ἑκὼν ὅστις ἕρδῃ μηδὲν αἰσχρόν.

The only words whose place in the poem is somewhat doubtful are ἔμοιγ᾽ ἐξαρκεῖ and οὐ γάρ εἰμι φιλόμωμος. They are excluded both by Bergk and Blass, but it is not likely that they come from Plato, since μοι ἐξαρκεῖ occurs also in the final recapitulation, and οὐ διὰ ταῦτά σε ψέγω, ὅτι εἰμὶ φιλόψογος is said (346C as well as οὐ γάρ εἰμι φιλόμωμος. Bonghi (quoted by Aars)13 assigns the words οἶόν τε μέντοι ἐπί γε χρόνον τινά in 344Bto a place in the poem after ἄνευ ψόγου τετυγμένον; it is however tolerably clear that they come from Socrates, who is merely developing the latent antithesis in χαλεπόν.

Schneidewin's14 restoration is as follows:


Ἄνδρ᾽ ἀγαθὸν μὲν ἀλαθέως γενέσθαι χαλεπὸν

χερσίν τε καὶ ποσὶ καὶ νόῳ τετράγωνον ἄνευ ψόγου τετυγμένον,

(Desunt quinque versus.)


οὐδέ μοι ἐμμελέως τὸ Πιττάκειον νέμεται,

καίτοι σοφοῦ παρὰ φωτὸς εἰρημένον: χαλεπὸν φάτ᾽ ἐσλὸν ἔμμεναι.

θεὸς ἂν μόνος τοῦτ᾽ ἔχοι γέρας: ἄνδρα δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι μὴ οὐ κακὸν ἔμμεναι,

ὃν ἂν ἀμάχανος συμφορὰ καθέλῃ.

πράξαις γὰρ εὖ πᾶς ἀνὴρ ἀγαθός,

κακὸς δ᾽ εἰ κακῶς, καὶ

τοὐπίπλειστον ἄριστοι, τούς κε θεοὶ φιλῶσιν.


ἔμοιγ᾽ ἐξαρκεῖ

ὃς ἂν μὴ κακὸς

μηδ᾽ ἄγαν ἀπάλαμνος εἰδώς τ᾽ ὀνησίπολιν δίκαν, ὑγιὴς ἀνήρ.

οὔ μιν ἐγὼ μωμάσομαι:

οὐ γὰρ ἐγὼ φιλόμωμος.

τῶν γὰρ ἀλιθίων ἀπείρων γενέθλα.

πάντα τοι καλά, τοῖσί τ᾽ αἰσχρὰ μὴ μέμικται.

Στροφὴ β᾽

τοὔνεκεν οὔποτ᾽ ἐγὼ τὸ μὴ γενέσθαι δυνατὸν

διζήμενος, κενεὰν ἐς ἄπρακτον ἐλπίδα μοῖραν αἰῶνος βαλέω,

πανάμωμον ἄνθρωπον, εὐρυεδοῦς ὅσοι καρπὸν αἰνύμεθα χθονός.

ἔπειτ᾽ ὔμμιν εὐρὼν ἀπαγγελέω.

πάντας δ᾽ ἐπαίνημι καὶ φιλέω,

ἑκὼν ὄστις ἕρδῃ

μηδὲν αἰσχρόν, ἀνάγκᾳ δ᾽ οὐδὲ θεοὶ μάχονται.

There is little probability in this arrangement. Schneidewin altogether neglects the evident metrical resemblance between the words from ἔμοιγ᾽ ἐξαρκεῖ to τοῖσί τ᾽ αἰσχρὰ μὴ μέμικται15 and the other sections of the poem. But the obvious and indeed fatal objection to Schneidewin's restoration is that he makes a wide departure from the order of the words as they come in Plato, placing the ἔμοιγ᾽ ἐξαρκεῖ κτλ. of 346Cbefore the τοὔνεκεν οὔποτ᾽ ἐγώ of 345C That Socrates reverts in 346Dto τοὔνεκεν οὔποτ᾽ ἐγὼ κτλ. is no reason for placing these words in the last part of the poem, any more than we should place the words Ἄνδρ᾽ ἀγαθὸν μὲν ἀλαθέως κτλ. after ἄνδρα δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι κτλ. because Socrates reverts to them in 344E A man who professes to be giving a continuous exposition of a poem may revert to the middle of it when he has come to the end, in order to illustrate the sentiment with which the poem concludes, but it would be the superfluity of naughtiness to put the end of the poem into the middle, which is what Schneidewin makes Socrates do. If οὐ ζητῶ κτλ. in 346Dwere in reality the conclusion of the poem, we ought to frame our Στροφὴ β᾽ out of these very words, and not from τοὔνεκεν οὕποτ᾽ ἐγὼ κτλ. We should then have to omit the words ἀνάγκᾳ δ᾽ οὐδὲ θεοὶ μάχονται, because they are not found in 346DE, but it is beyond question that these words are part of Simonides' poem. It is tolerably certain that in 346Dwe have but a recapitulation of part of the argument, presented as a commentary on the concluding text πάντα τοι καλὰ κτλ., which sums up the whole ethical teaching of the poem. This is practically admitted by Schneidewin himself when he writes his final strophe not as it appears in 346D but as it stands in 345CD.

Bergk16 arranges the poem in three complete strophes. His restoration has the merit of recognising the similarity in rhythm between Schneidewin's epode and the other parts of the poem; several of his emendations are also in all probability right.17 It may, however, be doubted whether he does well in altogether excluding from the poem the words ἔμοιγ᾽ ἐξαρκεῖ and οὐ γάρ εἰμι φιλόμωμος, and he deserts the Platonic order even more ruthlessly than Schneidewin when he places ὃς ἂν 18 κακὸςμὴ μέμικται directly after ἄνευ ψόγου τετυγμένον, besides that Plato clearly indicates by the words προιόντος τοῦ ᾁσματος (339C, ὀλίγονεἰς τὸ πρόσθεν προελθών (339D, and ὀλίγα διελθών (344B, that there is a lacuna after τετυγμένον.

Blass19 agrees with Bergk in regarding the poem as a sequence of strophes, but discovers four of these in place of three. In the first strophe Blass's arrangement agrees with that of Schneidewin; in the second, he supposes the first two verses to be lost, and the rest to contain ὃς ἂν κακὸς κτλ. down to τοῖσί τ᾽ αἰσχρὰ μὴ μέμικται; the third consists of οὐδέ μοι ἐμμελέωςτούς κε θεοὶ φιλῶσιν; the fourth and last extends from τοὔνεκεν οὔ ποτ᾽ ἐγώ to ἀνάγκη̣ δ᾽ οὐδὲ θεοὶ μάχονται. This arrangement (which further agrees with that of Bergk in rejecting ἔμοιγ᾽ ἐξαρκεῖ and οὐ γάρ εἰμι φιλόμωμος) upsets even more completely than either of the others the sequence of the poem as it is given by Plato, and for that reason is most unlikely to be right.

The only arrangement which faithfully adheres to the Platonic order of citation is that of Aars, in the treatise referred to already.20


1. Ἄνδρ᾽ ἀγαθὸν μὲν ἀλαθέως γενέσθαι χαλεπόν,

2. χερσίν τε καὶ ποσὶ καὶ νόῳ τετράγωνον, ἄνευ ψόγου τετυγμένον.

Verses 3-7 are wanting.


1. οὐδέ μοι ἐμμελέως τὸ Πιττάκειον νέμεται,

2. καίτοι σοφοῦ παρὰ φωτὸς εἰρημένον: χαλεπὸν φάτ᾽ ἐσθλὸν ἔμμεναι.

3. θεὸς ἂν μόνος τοῦτ᾽ ἔχοι γέρας: ἄνδρα δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι μὴ οὐ κακὸν ἔμμεναι,

4. ὃν ἀμήχανος συμφορὰ καθέλῃ.

5. πράξας μὲν εὖ πᾶς ἀνὴρ ἀγαθός,

6. κακὸς δ᾽ εἰ κακῶς <τις>,

7. καὶ τὸ πλεῖστον ἄριστοι, τούς κε θεοὶ φιλῶσιν.


1. τοὔνεκεν οὔ ποτ᾽ ἐγὼ τὸ μὴ γενέσθαι δυνατὸν

2. διζήμενος κενεὰν ἐς ἄπρακτον ἐλπίδα μοῖραν αἰῶνος βαλέω,

3. πανάμωμον ἄνθρωπον, εὐρυεδοῦς ὅσοι καρπὸν αἰνύμεθα χθονός:

4. ἐπὶ δ᾽ ὔμμιν εὑρὼν ἀπαγγελέω.

5. πάντας δ᾽ ἐπαίνημι καὶ φιλέω,

6. ἑκὼν ὄστις ἕρδη̣

7. μηδὲν αἰσχρόν: ἀνάγκῃ δ᾽ οὐδὲ θεοὶ μάχονται.


1. Wanting.

2. ¯ ¯ ˘ ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ [οὔκ εἰμ᾽ ἐγὼ φιλόμωμος:] ἐξαρκεῖ γ᾽ ἐμοί,

3. ὃς ἂν κακὸς μηδ᾽ ἄγαν ἀπάλαμνος, εἰδώς γ᾽ ὀνησίπολιν δίκαν,

4. ὑγιὴς ἀνήρ, οὐδὲ μή μιν ἐγὼ

5. μωμήσομαι: τῶν γὰρ ἠλιθίων

6. ἀπείρων γενέθλα:

7. πάντα τοι καλά, τοῖσί τ᾽ αἰσχρὰ μὴ μέμικται.

This restoration seems to us on the whole the most probable. In l. 4 of strophe 2 Plato no doubt wrote ὃν ἄν (the MSS. reading) for ὅν, using the more common construction in defiance of metre, just as in l. 5 γάρ after μέν is due to the desire to show the sequence of thought. In ll. 6 and 7 of the same strophe Plato omits some monosyllable after κακῶς, perhaps τις or τι or αὖ: Hermann's view that καί of the next line should be written in l. 6, and l. 7 be made into τοὐπίπλειστον ἄριστοι κτλ., is perhaps less probable. For l. 7 we should prefer as nearer to the words of Plato κἀπὶ πλεῖστον ἄριστοι κτλ. In the third strophe we prefer ἐπί τ᾽ ὔμμιν for the reasons given in the note upon the passage on p. 180. In the last strophe ὃς ἂν κακός is Bergk's emendation for ὸς ἂν μὴ κακὸς : here again Plato substitutes the commoner idiom for the rarer and more poetic, with which we may compare Aristophanes, Birds, 694 γῆ δ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ἀὴρ οὐδ᾽ οὐρανὸς ἦν. It is, however, more likely that Simonides wrote ὃς ἂν κακὸς μήτ᾽ ἄγαν ἀπάλαμνος, i.e. μήτε κακὸς μήτε κτλ., for this idiom is seldom found with μηδέ or οὐδέ: see Jebb on Sophocles, Philoctetes, 771. To take μηδέ for ἀλλὰ μή would give a wrong meaning, as can be seen from the paraphrase in 346Dἀλλά μοι ἐξαρκεῖ ἂν μέσος καὶ μηδὲν κακὸν ποιῇ. It seems better too, in this line, to take εἰδώς γ᾽ ὀνησίπολιν δίκαν ὑγιὴς ἀνήρ (sc. ἐστιν) together, and print colons before εἰδώς and after ἀνήρ. In l. 4 οὐδὲ μή μιν is Bergk's restoration for μήν of the MSS. The position assigned by Aars to οὔκ εἰμ᾽ ἐγὼ φιλόμωμος (in l. 2) is only tentative, but it is slightly supported by οὐ διὰ ταῦτά σε ψέγω ὅτι εἰμὶ φιλόψογος coming before ἔμοιγ᾽ ἐξαρκεῖ in 346C There is nothing in Plato to indicate that the first line (with part of the second) is wanting in strophe 4, but neither is there anything to prove the reverse, and (since the poem is not in any case preserved entire, five verses being omitted in the first strophe) it is much more reasonable to assume an omission here than violently to distort the sequence of the poem as quoted by Plato.

Whether the poem is to be ranked as an ᾠδὴ ἐπίνικος, an ἐγκώμιον, or a σκόλιον is a question which should not be raised until the poem has first been restored from the quotations in the Protagoras. If the restoration given above is even approximately correct, the poem cannot be classed as an epinikion; an encomium it is not likely to be, since no one is praised. There is no reason whatever for identifying it with the famous encomium referred to by Quintilian (XI. 2. 11). Blass holds that the poem was a scolion, and this is by far the most probable view, but no certainty is attainable on the point. With the exception of the lacunae which we have noted, the poem is most probably complete, for Socrates is trying to prove that Simonides attacks Pittacus throughout the whole poem: see 345Dοὕτω σφόδρα καὶ δι᾽ ὅλου τοῦ ᾁσματος ἐπεξέρχεται τῷ τοῦ Πιττακοῦ ῥήματι and 343C 344B

We add a translation of the poem, incorporating the few changes which we have made in Aars's restoration.


It is hard to quit you like a truly good man, in hands and feet and mind foursquare, fashioned without blame.

(The five lost vv, may have further elaborated the meaning of ‘truly good’.)


Nor do I deem the word of Pittacus well said, wise though he was that spake it: ‘it is hard’ he said ‘to be noble.’ To a god alone belongs that meed; a man cannot but prove evil, if hopeless calamity overthrow him. Every man if he has fared well is good, evil, if ill; and for the most part best are they whom the gods love.


Therefore never will I cast away my portion of life vainly upon a bootless hope, seeking what cannot come to be, an all-blameless man, of us who take the fruit of the broad earth; when I find him, look you, you shall hear. I praise and love all them that willingly do nothing base; against necessity even gods do not contend.


¯ ¯ ¯ [I love not fault-finding]; enough for me if one be not evi nor exceeding violent: yea sound is the man who knoweth justice, benefactress of cities; nor will I find fault with him; for the tribe of fools is infinite. Surely all is fair wherein is no alloy of foul.

The easy-going morality of the poem is in harmony with what we know both of the life and poetry of Simonides: he was ever ‘a genial and courtly man’, anxious to make the most of life, ‘dwelling with flowers like the bee, seeking yellow honey’ (Sim. Frag. 47).

1 On p. 20 of his fourth edition of the Protagoras, Sauppe enumerates the discussions on the subject down to 1884. The most important contribution since that year is Das Gedicht des Simonides in Platons Protagoras, von J. Aars (Christiania, 1888). Aars's restoration has received the approval of Peppmüller (in the Berliner Philologische Wochenschrift for 1899, pp. 174 ff.) and others; and there now seems to be some prospect of finality in the criticism of the poem. In his programme (Das Simonideische Gedicht in Platons Protagoras und die Versuche dasselbe zu reconstruiren, Graz, 1889) Schwenk follows Aars in every essential point.

2 ἄνδρ᾽.

3 χερσίν.

4 4 Πιττάκειον I (i.e. Vind. suppl. Phil. gr. 7) rightly.

5 5 φάτ᾽.

6 τοῦτ᾽.

7 δ᾽.

8 ἔστι.

9 κενεὰν 1, rightly.

10 ἐπαίνημι.

11 γ᾽ ὀνησίπολιν after Bergk; Hermann ὀνησίπολιν.

12 γενέθλα.

13 p. 8, note 1.

14 In his Delectus poesis Graecorum, p. 379.

15 See the restoration below on p. 216.

16 Poetae Lyr. Graeci4, III, 384 ff.

17 See the footnotes on p. 213.

18 Bergk's emendation for μή.

19 In the Rheinisches Museum for 1872, pp. 326 ff.

20 P. 212, n. 1.

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hide References (12 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (12):
    • Plato, Protagoras, 339b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 339c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 339d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 341e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 343c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 344b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 344c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 344e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 345c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 345d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 346c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 346d
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