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Why, they were all born because a god fell in love with a mortal woman, or a mortal man with a goddess. Now if you consider the word “hero” also in the old Attic pronunciation,1 you will understand better; for that will show you that it has been only slightly altered from the name of love (Eros), the source from which the heroes spring, to make a name for them. And either this is the reason why they are called heroes, or it is because they were wise and clever orators and dialecticians, able to ask questions (ἐρωτᾶν), for εἴρειν is the same as λέγειν (speak). Therefore, when their name is spoken in the Attic dialect, which I was mentioning just now, the heroes turn out to be orators and askers of questions,

1 The old Attic alphabet was officially given up in favour of the Ionic alphabet in 404 or 403 B.C. The Attic for of the word “hero” is ἥρος, that of “Eros” ἔρως. Plato seems to think there was a change in pronunciation, as well as in spelling, and indeed that is quite possible. Or Plato may simply be confusing pronunciation with spelling, as he seems to do in several passages of this dialogue (cf. especially 410).

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