[165a] the inscription1 and I declare, though one is likely enough to think them different—an error into which I consider the dedicators of the later inscriptions fell when they put up “Nothing overmuch”2 and “A pledge, and thereupon perdition.”3 For they supposed that “Know thyself!” was a piece of advice, and not the god's salutation of those who were entering; and so, in order that their dedications too might equally give pieces of useful advice, they wrote these words and dedicated them. Now my object in saying all this, Socrates, is to abandon to you all the previous argument—
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1 Throughout this passage there is allusion to the thought or wisdom implied in σωφρονεῖν, and here Critias seeks to identify φρόνει (“think well,” “be wise”) with γνῶθι (“know,” “understand”) in the inscription γνῶθι σαυτόν at Delphi.
3 Ἐγγύα πάρα δ᾽ ἄτη, an old saying on the rashness of giving a pledge, is quoted in a fragment of Cratinus, the elder rival of Aristophanes. Cf. Proverbs xi. 15—”He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it.”
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