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[406a] the name touches upon all the qualities of the god, as simple, ever-darting, purifying, and accompanying. The Muses and music in general are named, apparently, from μῶσθαι, searching, and philosophy; and Leto from her gentleness, because whatever is asked of her, she is willing (ἐθελήμων). But perhaps her name is Letho, as she is called by many foreigners; and those who call her by that name seem to do so [406b] on account of the mild and gentle (λεῖον, Ληθώ) kindness of her character. Artemis appears to get her name from her healthy (ἀρτεμές) and well-ordered nature, and her love of virginity; or perhaps he who named her meant that she is learned in virtue (ἀρετή), or possibly, too, that she hates sexual intercourse (ἄροτον μισεῖ) of man and woman; or he who gave the goddess her name may have given it for any or all of these reasons.

What of Dionysus and Aphrodite?

You ask great things of me, son of Hipponicus. You see there is both a serious and a facetious account of the form [406c] of the name of these deities. You will have to ask others for the serious one; but there is nothing to hinder my giving you the facetious account, for the gods also have a sense of humor. Dionysus, the giver (διδούς) of wine (οἶνος), might be called in jest Didoinysus, and wine, because it makes most drinkers think (οἴεσθαι) they have wit (νοῦς) when they have not, might very justly be called Oeonus (οἰόνους). As for Aphrodite, we need not oppose Hesiod; we can accept his derivation of the name [406d] from her birth out of the foam (ἀφροῦ).

But surely you, as an Athenian, will not forget Athena, nor Hephaestus and Ares.

That is not likely.


It is easy to tell the reason of one of her two names.

What name?

We call her Pallas, you know.

Yes, of course.

Those of us are right, I fancy, [406e] who think this name is derived from armed dances, for lifting oneself or anything else from the ground or

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