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The meaning of the phrase ‘to be overcome by pleasure’ is now explained in conformity with the results of the last chapter.

If we substitute ‘good’ for ‘pleasure’ the common saying that we do evil, knowing it to be evil, because overcome by ‘pleasure’, becomes ‘we do evil knowing it to be evil, because overcome by good’ (355BC). ‘To be overcome by good’ is shown to be the choosing of greater evil in place of lesser good (D-E). Similarly, substituting pleasure for good, and pain for evil, we have the sentiment ‘we do the painful, knowing it to be painful, because overcome by pleasure’, and here also ‘to be overcome by pleasure’ is to choose in place of lesser pleasures greater pains (355E356A. No doubt in this case the pleasures are present and the pains remote, but we make allowance for this in our process of weighing pleasures and pains against themselves and one another (356AC). ‘Near’ and ‘Far’ have the same bewildering effect on the eyes when we look at size and number; but there the arts of measurement and of arithmetic resolve our perplexity (356C357A. In like manner there must be some art or knowledge whose function it is to settle the value of ‘more’ and ‘less’, ‘near’ and ‘far’, etc., in their application to pleasure and pain. In other words τὸ ἡδονῆς ἡττᾶσθαι is due to ignorance (357A357E.

2. χρώμεθα ἅμα. ἅμα is due to a correction in one inferior MS., approved by Cobet and Kroschel; BT have χρώμεθα ἄρα. If we read χρώμεθα ἄρα, there are difficulties serious enough to suggest an error in the reading: (1) the position of ἄρα is to say the least most unusual: no example is quoted of ἄρα coming at the end of a conditional clause in this way; (2) is ἄρα to be taken with ἐάν in the usual sense (si forte) or as inferential? The inferential meaning strikes us as somewhat far-fetched, and the other is both inappropriate here and impossible from the position of the particle. On the other hand ἅμα is almost necessary to the sense; without ἅμα, the words ἐὰν μὴχρώμεθα would not correctly describe Socrates' procedure in the following discussion, in which he does use all four names. But as he does not use them together, his procedure is accurately described by the addition of ἅμα to χρώμεθα.

6. θέμενοιοὕτω: οὕτω is explained by ὅτι γιγνώσκωναὐτὰ ποιεῖ: ‘let us lay it down and say, etc.’ The thesis of the many is stated in order to be demolished. With the style of reasoning which follows cf. Gorg. 499A-B, where (as a reduction ad absurdum of the view that pleasure is good and pain evil) it is argued that in that case the bad man would be just as bad and just as good as the good man since he feels just as much pain and pleasure as the other: see also Alc. I, 116 A ἆρ᾽ οὖν καὶ ἀγαθὸν καλόν, δὲ κακὸν αἰσχπόν; ϝαί. τὴν ἄπα ἐν τῷ ρολέμῳ τοῖς φίλοις βοήθειαν λέγων καλὴν μὲν εἶναι, κακὴν δέ, οὐδὲν διαφεπόντως λέγεις εἰ προσεῖπες αὐτὴν ἀγαθὴν μέν, κακὴν δέ.

10. ὑπὸ μὲν ἡδονῆς. The antithesis is not expressed by a δέ clause but in ἐκείνῳ δὴτοῦ ἀγαθοῦ below.

11. μετείληφεν: the subject is ἡδονή and τὸ ἀγαθόν is in apposition to ἄλλο ὄνομα. ἀντὶ τῆς ἡδονῆς means ‘in place of pleasure’, i.e. the name pleasure.

18. ἐν ὑμῖν: not ‘before your tribunal’, but ‘in you’, i.e. inside you, in your souls. The idea is of a conflict between the good and evil in the soul before you do the evil. ἐν ὑμῖν might have been ἐν αὐτῶ̣, but the ὑβριστής now selects his interlocutors as his examples. The subtle reasoning which follows may be put thus: We do evil, knowing it to be evil, because we are overcome by good. But—since that which we do is evil—the good which overcomes is less worthy than the evil in us which it overcomes. ‘Less worthy’ (to overcome) means that ‘there is less of it’: to be overcome by good is therefore to choose less good than evil. The argument is extraordinarily ingenious but hardly sound— the flaw lies in substituting ‘the evil in us’ for ‘us’; it was not ‘the evil in us’, but ‘we’ who were overcome by good. See also Introduction, p. xxvi. The usual way of taking ἐν ὑμῖν as ‘before your tribunal’ or the like (cf. Gorg. 464D) makes the false step much more serious—since it substitutes not ‘the evil in us’ but simply ‘the evil’ for ‘us’.

21. ἀνάξιά ἐστιν τἀγαθὰ τῶν κακῶν should be translated literally—‘the good is unworthy of the bad’. The expression— in Greek as in English—is somewhat strained in order to correspond to οὐκ ἀξίων above (l. 17); but after all ‘I am unworthy of you’ is much the same as ‘I am less worthy than you’. The Greeks can even use ἀνάξιος in the sense of ‘more worthy than’, ‘too good for’: e.g. Soph. Philoct. 1009.

22. τὰ μὲν μείζω: i.e. when τὰ κακά are μείζω and τὰ ἀγαθὰ σμικρότερα, then τἀγαθά are ἀνάξια τῶν κακῶν: τὰ κακά are ἀνάξια τῶν ἀγαθῶν, when τὰ ἀγαθά are μείζω, and τὰ κακὰ σμικρότερα. Similarly with πλείω and ἐλάττω. It must be borne in mind that ἄξιος does not here denote moral, but rather physical strength or value: good is ἀνάξιον κακοῦ, because it is smaller or less numerous.

23. πλείω, τὰ δὲ ἐλάττω . See on 330A

26. μεταλάβωμεν, i.e. ‘let us change and take the names pleasant and painful and apply them to, etc.’ Cf. below 356D ἐπί follows ὀνόματα as in τίθεσθαι ὄνομα ἐπί τινι and the like.

31. καὶ τίς ἄλλη ἀναξία. This—the MSS. reading—is undoubtedly right. Plato coins the word ἀναξία for ‘unworthiness’ to complete the parallel with D above: cf. ll. 17-21 οὐκ ἀξίων ὄντων νικᾶνκατὰ τί δὲἀνάξιά ἐστιν τἀγαθὰ τῶν κακῶν κτλ. Similarly in Phaedo, 105E, Plato coins ἀνάρτιος, in 106A ἄθερμος (rightly accepted, in spite of MS. authority, by editors) and ἄψυκτος (see MSS., but Wyttenbach's ἄψυχρος is—we think rightly—accepted by some editors) as pointed and convenient negatives to ἄρτιος, θερμός, ψυχρός. Cicero's translation ‘quae igitur potest esse indignitas voluptatis ad molestiam, nisi in magnitudine aut in longitudine alterius utrius posita?’ (Nobbe's Cicero, p. 1313) shows that ἀναξία was read in his time: so in Ficinus' ‘quae vero alia inest ad dolorem indignitas voluptati quam excessus inter se atque defectus?’ The word ἀναξία hardly took root in Greek, though occasionally found in the writings of the Stoics, whose regular word for this notion is ἀπαξία. ἡδονῇ (now found to be the reading of some MSS.) for ἡδονή is due to Heindorf.

33. ταῦτα δ᾽ ἐστί: as Sauppe remarks, we should expect ταῦτα δ᾽ ἐστὶ τὸ μείζωγίγνεσθαι, but the words are said as if for καὶ τίς ἄλλη ἀναξία κτλ. had been written καὶ πῶς ἄλλως ἀνάξια τὰ ἡδέα ρπὸς τὰ λυρηπά, ἀλλ᾽ ὑρεπβάλλοντα ἀλλήλων καὶ ἐλλείποντα;

35. μᾶλλον καὶ ἧττον: this case is not given above (D-E) because the notion of intensity is more applicable to pleasure (and pain) than to good (and evil): cf. Phileb. 24A ff. with 27E ἡδονὴ καὶ λύπη πέρας ἔχετον, τῶν τὸ μᾶλλόν τε καὶ ἧττον δεχομένων ἐοτόν; ναί, τῶν τὸ μᾶλλον, Σώκρατες.

εἰ γάρ τις λέγοι. So far we have reached this point. To be overcome by pleasure is to choose in place of lesser pleasures greater pains and the like. But here the element of time comes in: a man might fairly say—yes, but the pleasures are now, the pains remote. Socrates tries to show that this makes no real difference.

36. τὸ παραχρῆμα ἡδύ. When we are overcome by pleasure, we do the pleasant, not the painful: therefore the contrast is between the present pleasure and the remote consequences, whether pleasure or pain. For this reason it would be wrong to supply καὶ λυπηρόν after ἡδύ.

39. ἀλλ᾽ ὥσπερ ἀγαθὸς ἱστάναι κτλ. Cf. Rep. X. 602D ἆρ᾽ οὖν οὐ τὸ μετρεῖν καὶ ἀριθμεῖν καὶ ἱστάναι βοήθειαι χαριέσταται ρπὸς αὐτὰ ἐφάνησαν, ὥστε μὴ ἄπχειν ἐν ἡμῖν τὸ φαινόμενον μεῖζον ἔλαττον πλέον βαρύτερον κτλ.;

40. καὶ τὸ ἐλλὺς κτλ.: in order that a near pleasure might count for more than a remote.

42. ἐὰν μὲν γὰρ ἡδέα κτλ. Cf. Laws, v. 733B ἡδονὴν βουλόμεθα ἡμῖν εἶναι, λύρην δὲ οὔθ᾽ αἱπούμεθα οὔτε βουλόμεθα, τὸ δὲ μηδέτεπον ἀντὶ μὲν ἡδονῆς οὐ βουλόμεθα, λύρης δὲ ἀλλάττεσθαι βουλόμεθα: λύρην δὲ ἐλάττω μετὰ μείζονος ἡδονῆς βουλόμεθα, ἡδονὴν δὲ ἐλάττω μετὰ μείζονος λύπης οὐ βουλόμεθα κτλ.

45. ἐάν τε τὰ ἐγγὺς κτλ. When once you have equated ‘near’ and ‘far’ (see above), then (but not till then) your final choice is not affected by the question of proximity in time. Theoretically, no doubt, this is right; but no man is so ἀγαθὸς ἱστάναι as to weigh ἐγγύς and πόρρω correctly; whence the saying ‘Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die’. ‘Near’ and ‘far’ can only be weighed aright on the supposition that man is immortal and will live hereafter under the same moral laws as rule us here: but of immortality there is no hint in this dialogue.

47. ταῦτα: i.e. τὰ ἡδέα.

51. ὅτε: the notion of time readily passes into that of cause, as in quoniam and cum.

52. φαίνεται ὑμῖν κτλ. Two examples are given: (1) size— of which παχέα and φωναὶ μεγάλαι (according to the Greek and Roman way of viewing sound) are special varieties, (2) number, i.e. τὰ πολλά. The specific varieties παχέα and φωναὶ μεγάλαι are not dealt with in the sequel. With what follows compare (besides Rep. X. 602D cited above) Euthyphr. 7B ff. and Alc. I, 126C ff., and with the present passage Phileb. 42A and Rep. VII. 523C524C. The resolution by the intellect of such contradictory sense-perceptions is made the basis of Plato's scheme of higher education in the Republic.

55. αἱ ἴσαι is Heindorf's correction for ἴσαι.

57. μήκηπράττειν: as we ἡδέα πράττομεν. πράττειν (with μήκη) is explained by λαμβάνειν: see above on 314A

59. μετρητικὴ τέχνη. See Introduction, p. xxix.

60. τοῦ φαινομένου δύναμις. is omitted in B and T. ‘The power of that which appears’ is its power to affect us.

61. ἐπλάνα καὶ ἐποίει κτλ. ἄν is not to be supplied. Plato is reverting to the illustration in C. The imperfect is idiomatic for ‘causes us, as we saw, to wander’, etc. (viz. because τὰ αὐτὰ μεγέθη seem to us both μείζω and ἐλάττω): it is what Goodwin calls the ‘philosophic imperfect’: cf. Crito, 47D διαφθεροῦμεν ἐκεῖνο καὶ λωβησόμεθα, τῷ μὲν δικαίῳ βέλτιον ἐγίγνετο (becomes as we saw), τῶ̣ δὲ ἀδίκω̣ ἀπώλλυτο. By adding καὶ ἐν ταῖς πράξεσινσμικρῶν Plato treats his hypothesis that εὖ πράττειν is to select μεγάλα μήκη as a fact; he does so also in ἂν ἐποίησε κτλ. i.e. ‘would have made’, viz. if we had made use of it, but we did not. If the hypothesis were still treated as a hypothesis, we should have had ἂν ἐποίει (and not ἂν ἐποίησε) to correspond to what would then have been ἂν (expressed or understood) ἐπλάνα καὶ ἐποίει.

ἄνω τε καὶ κάτω. ἄνω κάτω (Theaet. 195C) and ἄνω καὶ κάτω (Gorg. 495A) are other forms of this proverbial phrase.

77. ἀριθμητική. In Gorg. 451B ff. ἀριθμητική is said to be a science concerned with τὸ ἄρτιόν τε καὶ περιττόν, ὅσα ἑκάτερα τυγχάνει ὄντα, whereas the function which is here assigned to ἀριθμητική is there given to λογιστική: τὰ μὲν ἄλλα καθάπερ ἀπιθμητικὴ λογιστικὴ ἔχει: ρεπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ γάπ ἐστιν τό τε ἄπτιον καὶ τὸ ρεπιττόν: διαφέπει δὲ τοσοῦτον, ὅτι καὶ ρπὸς αὑτὰ καὶ ρπὸς ἄλληλα πῶς ἔχει πλήθονς (cf. ll. 71 ff. τὸ πλέοντὸ ἔλαττον αὐτὸ πρὸς ἑαυτὸ τὸ ἕτερον πρὸς τὸ ἕτερον) ἐπισκοπεῖ τὸ περιττὸν καὶ τὸ ἄρτιον λογιστική.

79. εἶενἐπεὶ δὲ δή. The MSS. read ἐπειδὴ δέ, but after εἶεν Plato regularly uses δὲ δή in coming to the application of a train of reasoning or illustrations: cf. 312Eεἶεν: δὲ δὴ σοφιστὴς περὶ τίνος δεινὸν ποιεῖ λέγειν; and 311Cεἶενπαρὰ δὲ δὴ Πρωταγόραν κτλ.

87. εἰσαῦθις σκεψόμεθα. Siebeck, who asserts (Zur Chronologie der Platonischen Dialogen, pp. 121 ff.) that this and similar formulas were intended by Plato to be a distinct promise of future dialogues (if not a reference to a later part of the same dialogue), finds here a reference to Politicus, 283D ff., where the ‘measuring art’ is discussed and described as the βασιλικὴ τέχνη.

90. ἡνίκα ἡμεῖςὡμολογοῦμεν: 352Bff.

93. ἔφατε: in 352D The original ἤρεσθε has to be repeated in consequence of the introduction of this independent clause.

95. ἤρεσθε: in 353A

98. εἴπατε: but εἴπατον in 353A otherwise there is no change in the quotation. B and T have εἴπετε, but Stobaeus (who cites from τοσοῦτον in 357Bto μεγίστη 357Ein his Florilegium) reads εἴπατε. According to Rutherford (New Phrynichus, p. 219) εἴπετε is not Attic, but this is doubtful, if any faith can be placed in MS. authority.

104. ἧς τὸ πρόσθεν. This—the reading of the best MSS.— has been unjustly rejected in favour of εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν; but εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν can hardly be justified here. Sauppe refers to 339Dὀλίγον δὲ τοῦ ποιήματος εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν προελθών, where, however, εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν goes with προελθών, and in all the cases which he quotes there is a verb containing the idea of progress to go with the phrase, and so in Ar. Knights. 751 ἀλλ᾽ ἐς τὸ πρόσθε χρὴ παρεῖν᾽ ἐς τὴν πύκνα (where probably we should read παριέν᾽ for παρεῖν᾽ as in Ach. 43 πάριτ᾽ ἐς τὸ πρόσθεν). Where there is no such verb (which is very rarely the case), the phrase means ‘with a view to what lies in front’, e.g. Alcib. I, 132B οὐκοῦν τοσοῦτον μὲν ἡμῖν εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν πεπέρανται. It need hardly be said that the phrase cannot mean simply ἔμπροσθεν. On the other hand ἧς seems to be just what is needed: the construction in full would be καὶ οὐ μόνον ἐπιστήμης (ἐνδείᾳ), ἀλλὰ καὶ (ταύτης τῆς ἐπιστήμης ἐνδείᾳ) ἣν τὸ πρόσθεν ἔτι ὡμολογήκατε ὅτι μετρητική (sc. ἐστι: for the omission of ἐστί after ὅτι cf. below 359Dἀπεδείχθη ἄρτι ὅτι ἀδύνατον): ‘and from lack, not merely of knowledge, but of the knowledge which you have further admitted above to be measuring knowledge’. The attraction of the relative extends to μετρητική also in spite of ὅτι: cf. Apol. 37B ὧν εὖ οἶδ᾽ ὅτι κακῶν ὄντων for τούτων εὖ οἶδ᾽ ὅτι κακὰ ὄντα (ὅτι being used with the participle as in Gorg. 481E: see note on Apol. loc. cit.).

108. ἀμαθία μεγίστη: cf. Laws, III. 689A τίς οὖν μεγίστη δικαίως ἂν λέγοιτο ἀμαθία;—ταύτην τὴν διαφωνίαν λύρης τε καὶ ἡδονῆς ρπὸς τὴν κατὰ λόγον δόξαν ἀμαθίαν φημὶ εἶναι τὴν ἐσχάτην, μεγίστην δέ, ὅτι τοῦ πλήθους ἐστὶ τῆς ψυχῆς.

110. οὔτε αὐτοί: the verb hangs fire: we should expect Plato to continue οὔτε οἱ ὑμέτεροι παῖδες ἔρχονται κτλ. Stephanus thought προσέρχεσθε had fallen out after αὐτοί, Madvig ἴτε, while Kroschel suggests οὔτ᾽ ἐφοιτᾶτε αὐτοί. It seems probable that the text is corrupt; at all events no parallel has yet been adduced. The two cases quoted by Sauppe (Dem. πρὸς Ἄφοβον, § 54, and pseudo-Dem. πρὸς Τιμόθεον, § 52) are more than doubtful in respect of their text, which (as Sauppe quotes it) is not according to the MSS. Madvig's ἴτε is simplest, but the future seems out of place: perhaps ᾖτε should be read.

112. ὡς οὐ διδακτοῦ ὄντος: i.e. τοῦ μὴ ἡδονῆς ἡττᾶσθαι.

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hide References (31 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (31):
    • Aristophanes, Knights, 751
    • Plato, Laws, 689a
    • Plato, Republic, 523c
    • Plato, Republic, 602d
    • Plato, Apology, 37b
    • Plato, Crito, 47d
    • Plato, Phaedo, 105e
    • Plato, Euthyphro, 7b
    • Plato, Theaetetus, 195c
    • Plato, Gorgias, 495a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 356c
    • Plato, Gorgias, 451b
    • Plato, Gorgias, 464d
    • Plato, Gorgias, 481e
    • Plato, Gorgias, 499a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 311c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 312e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 314a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 330a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 339d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 352b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 352d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 353a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 355b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 355e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 356a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 356d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 357a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 357b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 357e
    • Plato, Protagoras, 359d
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