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CHAPTER I

Socrates meets a friend, who asks him to describe his interview with Protagoras.

1. πόθενὥραν. The opening words of Cicero's translation of the Protagoras are preserved by Priscian (VI. 63): quid tu? unde tandem appares, o Socrate? an id quidem dubium non est, quin ab Alcibiade? = Latin an? introduces a second question intended to forestall Socrates' answer to the first: cf. Apol. 26B πῶς με φῂς διαφθείρειν, Μέλητε, τοὺς νεωτέρους; δῆλον δὴ ὅτι κτλ.;

2. κυνηγεσίουὥραν. For the metaphor in κυνηγεσίου Sauppe quotes Soph. 222D τῇ τῶν ἐρώντων θήρᾳ τὸν νοῦν, ὡς ἔοικας, οὔπω προσέσχες and Xen. Mem. 1. 2. 24 Ἀλκιβιάδηςδιὰ μὲν κάλλοςθηρώμενος κτλ. τοῦ περὶ τὴν Ἀλκιβιάδου ὥραν (= τὸν ὡραῖον Ἀλκιβιάδην, cf. βίη Ἡρακλείη for βίαιος Ἡρακλῆς) is a slight παρὰ προσδοκίαν as in the English: ‘From hunting, no doubt—after the young and blooming Alcibiades.’ It was part of Socrates' habitual irony to pretend to be in love with young men of ability (cf. the words of Alcibiades in Symp. 216D Σωκράτης ἐρωτικῶς διάκειται τῶν καλῶν καὶ ἀεὶ περὶ τούτους ἐστὶ καὶ ἐκπέπληκται and 216E: see also below, note on 310A l. 36).

καὶ μήν μοι καί. καὶ μήν is merely ‘well’ as in Phaedo, 84D καὶ μὴντἀληθῆ σοι ἐρῶ. The second καί goes with πρῴην: ‘well, it was only the other day that I saw him, etc.’ In the next line καλὸς ἀνήρ is in the predicate: the readings of Bekker (ἁνήρ) and Athenaeus ( ἀνήρ) are less good. ἀνὴρ μέντοι is ‘but yet a man’)(παῖς. At the age of 18 an Athenian εἰς ἄνδρας ἐνεγράφετο.

4. ὥς γ᾽ ἐν αὐτοῖς ἡμῖνὑποπιμπλάμενος. αὐτοῖς = μόνοις is emphatic as in the usual αὐτοὶ γάρ ἐσμεν and therefore precedes ἡμῖν. ὥς γ᾽ ἐν αὐτοῖς ἡμῖν εἰρῆσθαι apologises for ἀνὴρ μέντοι: for this use of ὥς γε cf. Euthyd. 307A ὥς γε πρὸς σὲ τἀληθῆ εἰρῆσθαι and below 339E καὶ in καὶ πώγωνος is ‘and’ not ‘even’. ὑπο- in ὑποπιμπλάμενος is diminutive, like sub- in Latin. So in 312Aἤδη γὰρ ὑπέφαινέν τι ἡμέρας.

6. οὐ σὺ μέντοι. ‘In interrogationibus haec particula’ (μέντοι) ‘ita cum οὐ negatione coniungitur, ut gravissima sententiae vox intercedat, quo modo aliquis eis quae ex altero quaerit summam veritatis ingerit speciem’ (Hoefer, de particulis Platonicis, p. 34). The idiom is very frequent in Plato, e.g. Rep. I. 339B, Crat. 439A, Theaet. 163E. Translate ‘You don't mean to say that you disapprove of Homer’.

7. ὃς ἔφη χαριεστάτην ἥβην κτλ. Homer, Il. XXIV. 348 and Od. X. 279 πρῶτον ὑπηνήτῃ τοῦπερ χαριεστάτη ἥβη. To insert τήν (with Hirschig) before ἥβην would make the reference to Homer less precise. The line in Homer refers to Hermes, and Sauppe quotes Clement to show that sculptors modelled their busts of Hermes after Alcibiades.

11. εὖ ἔμοιγε ἔδοξεν, sc. διακεῖσθαι. Socrates replies to his friend's second question (καὶ πῶς πρὸς σὲ νεανίας διάκειται;) first, and to his first question ( παρ᾽ ἐκείνου φαίνει;) second, in the words καὶ οὖν καὶ ἄρτι ἀπ᾽ ἐκείνου ἔρχομαι, where οὖν marks the regression to the earlier inquiry. Both B and T read ἄρχομαι by mistake for ἔρχομαι: ἔρχομαι is found in a Vienna codex (suppl. phil. gr. 7) which Kral and Wohlrab place along with B in the first class of MSS.

14. οὔτε προσεῖχονἐπελανθανόμηντε. τε following οὔτε throws emphasis on the second clause: e.g. Apol. 26C παντάπασί με φῂς οὔτε αὐτὸν νομίζειν θεοὺς τούς τε ἄλλους ταῦτα διδάσκειν. The idiom is very common in Plato (e.g. below 347E 360D 361E and corresponds to neque—que or (more frequently) neque—et in Latin. For the interchange of pronouns ἐκείνουαὐτοῦ see on 310D

19. καὶ πολύ γε, i.e. καλλίονι ἐνέτυχον.

23. Ἀβδηρίτῃ. Abdera, on the coast of Thrace, was the birthplace of Democritus and of Protagoras. The reputation of the city for heaviness and stupidity seems not to be earlier than the age of Demosthenes: see pseudo-Dem. περὶ τῶν πρὸς Ἀλέξανδρον, 23 ὥσπερ ἐν Ἀβδηρίταις Μαρωνείταις ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἐν Ἀθηναίοις πολιτευόμενοι and Cic. ad Atticum, VII. 7. 4.

25. υἱέος. Schanz writes ὑέος in conformity with the general usage of inscriptions about Plato's time, but MSS. upon the whole favour υἱέος: see the Editor's note on Crito, 45C.

26. τὸ σοφώτατον. So the MSS.: Schanz and others read σοφώτερον, apparently the reading of Ficinus, who translates the word by sapientius. Socrates, however, is thinking of Protagoras, who is not σοφός, but σοφώτατος (l. 31): the effect of the neuter τὸ σοφώτατον is to generalise the statement into a kind of adage. σοφώτερον would introduce a somewhat frigid comparison between Alcibiades and Protagoras in respect of wisdom; and it should also be noted that the MSS. reading σοφώτατον was more likely to be changed to σοφώτερον by mistake than vice versa. There may be an allusion to some proverbial form of speech resembling that in Theognis, 255 κάλλιστον τὸ δικαιότατον: λῷστον δ᾽ ὑγιαίνειν κτλ.: cf. also the scolion referred to in Gorg. 451E. The sentiment is an interesting anticipation of the Stoic paradoxes as to the beauty of the wise man.

28. ἀλλ᾽ expresses surprise and interest: ‘What! have you just left etc.’ So in Gorg. 447A ἀλλ᾽ τὸ λεγόμενον κατόπιν ἑορτῆς ἥκομεν; Presently μὲν οὖν is as usual corrective: see on Apol. 26B.

31. σοφώτατος εἶναι Πρωταγόρας. The interest is sustained by reserving the name of Protagoras to the end.

35. πάνυ γε πολλὰ καὶ εἰπὼν κτλ. Sauppe places a comma after πάνυ γε, but it suits the rapid movement of the dialogue better to take πάνυ with πολλά.

36. τί οὖν οὐ διηγήσω. Literally ‘why didn't you relate’, i.e. ‘tell us at once’. So in 317Dτί οὖνοὐ καὶ Πρόδικον καὶ Ἱππίαν ἐκαλέσαμεν; This construction of τί οὐ and τί οὖν οὐ is common in animated conversational style, especially with the second person: e.g. Gorg. 503B τί οὐχὶ καὶ ἐμοὶ αὐτὸν ἔφρασας τίς ἐστιν; = φράσον ὅτι τάχισταοὐκ ἂν φθάνοις φράζων as Thompson remarks.

τὴν ξυνουσίαν recalls συγγεγονώς in l. 34. The continual use of the words συνεῖναι, συγγίγνεσθαι, πλησιάζειν, ἰέναι ἐπί, ἐρᾶν and the like to denote the relation between learner and teacher in Plato's dialogues depends upon the conception of the philosophical impulse as ἔρως: see Symp. 210.

37. ἐξαναστήσας τὸν παῖδα τουτονί. The slave was doubtless in attendance on the Friend.

40. ἀκούητε. From this, as well as from ἡμεῖς and ἀκούετε, it appears that the Friend was not the only listener.

42. διπλῆ ἂν εἴη χάρις. The expression is almost proverbial: cf. (with Schneidewin on Soph. Phil. 1370) Eur. Rhesus, 162-3 παντὶ γὰρ προσκείμενον κέρδος πρὸς ἔργω̣ τὴν χάριν τίκτει διπλῆν, and Eur. Suppl. 333-4 τῷδέ τ᾽ εἴρηκας καλῶς κἀμοί: διπλοῦν δὲ χάρμα γίγνεται τόδε.

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hide References (28 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (28):
    • Euripides, Suppliants, 333
    • Homer, Odyssey, 10.279
    • Plato, Republic, 339b
    • Plato, Apology, 26b
    • Plato, Apology, 26c
    • Plato, Crito, 45c
    • Plato, Phaedo, 84d
    • Plato, Cratylus, 439a
    • Plato, Sophist, 222d
    • Plato, Theaetetus, 163e
    • Plato, Symposium, 210a
    • Plato, Symposium, 216d
    • Plato, Euthydemus, 307a
    • Plato, Gorgias, 447a
    • Plato, Gorgias, 451e
    • Plato, Gorgias, 503b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 310a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 310d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 312a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 317d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 339e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 347e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 360d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 361e
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 1370
    • Xenophon, Memorabilia, 1.2.24
    • Homer, Iliad, 24.348
    • Euripides, Rhesus, 162
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