previous next

οὐκοῦν ἀρετὴ -- πεφυκός. The historical Socrates was in the habit of testing the beauty, excellence etc. of an object by the degree in which it fulfilled its function or purpose: see especially Xen. Symp. 5. 4 ff. together with other passages cited by Krohn Pl. St. p. 369. Plato himself adopts the same standard in I 352 E—353 E and elsewhere.

ἐμπειρότατον. Throughout the whole of this argument it is held that he who uses, e.g. an instrument, has knowledge of it (ἐπίσταται C, εἰδώς and εἰδότι E, εἰδότος and ἐπιστήμην etc. 602 A), and Plato says nothing to make us attach any metaphysical significance to the word ‘knowledge,’ which he often employs throughout his writings without any suggestion of the Ideas (e.g. II 374 D, IV 422 C). There is no doubt a certain sense in which —if we have regard to Crat. 390 B ff. and Euthyd. 288 E ff.— χρώμενος has, not indeed scientific knowledge of the Idea, but something analogous thereto. Dialectic, which is the scientific Knowledge of Ideas, is κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν the χρωμένη ἐπιστήμη, the Science which alone knows in what respect each thing is good and useful, and uses things accordingly (cf. Euthyd. 290 C, Crat. 390 C), proving itself thereby the royal or kingly science (VI 505 A note). Thus the man who uses a single instrument correctly occupies the same relative position in regard to that object which the dialectician occupies in regard to the totality of things, and is, in his own small way, a king compared with the maker and imitator of the instrument. Cf. Bosanquet p. 390. But if Plato had intended us to pursue this vein, he would, I think, have furnished us with some hints in the course of the argument itself. See also on 601 B.

οἷα -- χρῆται: ‘what are the good or bad points of the instrument he uses when he uses it,’ lit. ‘what good or bad things that which he uses does’—we cannot like the Greeks say ‘makes’— ‘in use.’ This interpretation, which is Schleiermacher's (“wie sich das was er gebraucht gut oder schlecht zeigt in Gebrauch”), seems to me the natural and obvious meaning of the Greek. In agreement, apparently, with Schneider's version, Campbell proposes “what specimens of that which he (the user) employs, the maker makes that are good or bad in actual use,” remarking that “the correlation of singular and plural arises from the collocation of particular and universal. The instrument (sing.) is good in some cases, but bad in others (plur.).” Campbell's solution has the advantage of referring ποιεῖ to ποιητής, and corresponds more exactly with χρηστῶν καὶ πονήρῶν αὐλῶν in E. The grammatical difficulty is however, I think, insuperable. If the subject to ποιεῖ must be ποιητής, it would even be easier to make χρῆται=τούτῳ ὃς χρῆται—a rare form of attraction illustrated on V 465 D: but there is a certain elegance in applying ποιεῖ also to the instrument, which is in its way a ‘maker too’ and one by whose ἔργα the other maker must be guided. Herwerden remarks “expectabam potius οἷα ἀγαθὰ κακὰ (sc. ἐστι) ἐν τῇ χρείᾳ ὧν (i.e. τῶν οἷς) κτλ.” It is well that his expectations have been disappointed.

ἐξαγγέλλει. Bekker and others write ἐξαγγελεῖ both here and in E below. The present echoes ἄγγελον γίγνεσθαι, and I agree with Schneider that change is needless, in spite of ἐπιτάξει and ὑπηρετήσει: cf. κεῖσθαιἔσεσθαι V 478 D. For the meaning cf. Crat. 390 B.

οἳ ἂν ὑπηρετῶσιν κτλ. I take this clause as a sort of parenthetical adjunct or characterisation of αὐλοποιῷ: ‘thus the fluteplayer informs the flutemaker about his flutes—the persons who are his servants in the art of fluteplaying— and he will give orders how they should be made, and the flutemaker will serve him.’ The liberty is great, but hardly greater than Plato allows himself elsewhere in the Republic: cf. III 411 C ἀκράχολοι οὖν καὶ ὀργίλοι ἀντὶ θυμοειδοῦς γεγένηνται, δυσκολίας ἔμπλεοι, IV 426 C ὡς ἀποθανουμένους, ὃς ἂν τοῦτο δρᾷ, VI 496 C, D, I 347 A note: and the break afforded by the interposition of this clause makes the difference of tense between ἐξαγγέλλει and ἐπιτάξει seem easy and natural. To the ordinary interpretation, which makes αὐλῶν the antecedent to οἳ ἄν, it is a serious and I think fatal objection that the verb ὑπηρετεῖν is used immediately afterwards of the flutemaker in a way which seems to imply that it has been used of him before: and it is also very strange and unnatural to speak of flutes as ὑπηρέται ἐν τῷ αὐλεῖν. Jowett's translation “which of his flutes is satisfactory to the performer,” though Schleiermacher, Schneider and Prantl take much the same view, cannot be fairly extracted from οἳ ἂν ὑπηρετῶσιν. Many inferior MSS read οἷα for οἵ: and Richards conjectures οἷα ποιοῦσιν or οἷα ἀποτελοῦσιν, but the change is much too great. I once suggested ὑπερέχωσιν for ὑπηρετῶσιν, but now believe the foregoing interpretation to be right.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Plato, Cratylus, 390b
    • Plato, Cratylus, 390c
    • Plato, Euthydemus, 288e
    • Plato, Euthydemus, 290c
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: