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[358a] and so you fare badly both in private and in public life.

Such would have been our answer to the world at large. And I ask you now, Hippias and Prodicus, as well as Protagoras—for I would have you make a joint reply—whether you think what I say is true or false.

They all thought what I had said was absolutely true.

Then you agree, I continued, that the pleasant is good and the painful bad. And let me entreat my friend Prodicus to spare me his distinction of terms: [358b] for whether you say pleasant or delightful or enjoyable, my excellent Prodicus, or in whatever style or manner you may be pleased to name these things, pray reply to the sense of my question.

At this Prodicus laughed and consented, as did the rest.

Well now, my friends, I said, what of this? All actions aimed at living painlessly and pleasantly are honorable, are they not? And the honorable work is both good and useful?

They agreed.

Then if, I proceeded, the pleasant is good, no one who has knowledge [358c] or thought of other actions as better than those he is doing, and as possible, will do as he proposes if he is free to do the better ones; and this yielding to oneself is nothing but ignorance, and mastery of1 oneself is as certainly wisdom.

They all agreed.

Well then, by ignorance do you mean having a false opinion and being deceived about matters of importance?

They all agreed to this also.

Then surely, I went on, no one willingly goes after evil or what he thinks to be evil; [358d] it is not in human nature, apparently, to do so—to wish to go after what one thinks to be evil in preference to the good; and when compelled to choose one of two evils, nobody will choose the greater when he may the lesser.

All this met with the assent of everyone.

Well, I said, is there something you call dread, or fear? And is it—I address myself to you, Prodicus —the same as I have in mind—something I describe as an expectation of evil, whether you call it fear or dread?

Protagoras and Hippias agreed [358e] to this description of dread or fear; but Prodicus thought this was dread, not fear.

No matter, Prodicus, I said, but my point is this: if our former statements are true, will any man wish to go after what he dreads, when he may pursue what he does not? Surely this is impossible after what we have admitted—that he regards as evil that which he dreads? And what is regarded as evil is neither pursued nor accepted willingly, we saw, by anyone.

1 “Yielding to oneself” and “mastery of oneself” are here put instead of “being overcome by pleasure” and the opposite state. The conflict between the better and worse self is discussed in Plat. Rep. 4.430e ff.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 695
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