Friday, July 29, 2016

A few days with the 3rd Book of Homer’s Odyssey

I left the Odyssey at the beginning of the 3rd Book when I turned to Russel’s History of Western Philosophy. After a day with Russell I turned back to the Odyssey.

‘And the sun rose (Êelios d’ anorouse), having left the beautiful sea (lipȏn perikallea limnȇn), on the heaven-vault (ouranon es) of solid bronze (poluchalkon), in order to shine for the immortals (hin’ athanatoisi phaeionoi) and for the mortal men (kai thnȇtoisi brotoisin) on the corn-bearing earth (epi zeidȏron arouran, Od. III, 1-3). And they (hoi de [Telemachus and Athena, who accompanied him under the guise of Odysseus’ old friend Mentor]) reached Pylos, the well-built city of Neleus (Pulon, Nȇlȇos eüktimenon ptoliethron, hixon – Neleus was the father of Nestor). But they (toi d’ i.e. the Pylians) on the shore of the sea (epi thini thalassȇs) offered sacrifice (hiera rezon), jet black bulls (taurous pammelanas), to the dark-blue-haired earth-shaker (enosichthoni kuanochaitȇi – an epithet of Poseidon). There were nine sessions (ennea d’ hedrai esan), five hundred men sat in each (pentȇkosioi d’ en hekastȇi hȇato), and they put forward (kai prouchonto) in each (hekastothi) nine bulls (ennea taurous, 4-8).’

‘When the ones ate the intestines (euth’ hoi splanchna pasanto) and for the god (theȏi d’ epi) burnt the pieces of flesh of the thighs (mȇria kaion), the others (hoi d’) brought their ship straight to land (ithus katagonto, 9-10). Telemachus and Athena disembarked, and the latter admonished the former: “Telemachus (Tȇlemach’), you mustn’t be bashful any more (ou men se chrȇ et aidous), not even a little (out ȇbaion), for you have sailed the sea (touneka gar kai ponton epeplȏs) in order to learn about your father (ophra puthȇai patros) … go now straight to Nestor, the tamer of horses (all age nun ithus kie Nestoros hippodamoio, 14-17).’ –  Telemachus: “Mentor (Mentor), how then shall I go (pȏs t’ ar’ iȏ), how shall I greet him (pȏs t’ ar’ prosptuxomai auton); I have not yet learned to make wise speeches (oude ti pȏ muthois pepeirȇmai pukinoisi), modesty bars a young man from asking an older man (aidȏs d’ au neon andra geraiteron exereesthai).” But again the goddess, the bright-eyed Athena, spoke to him (Ton d’ aute proseeipe thea glaukȏpis Athȇnȇ): “Telemachus (Tȇlemach’), you yourself will think up some things to say (alla men autos eni phresi sȇisi noȇseis), and the divine power will suggest other things (alla de kai daimȏn hupothȇsetai), for I don’t think (ou gar oїȏ) that you were born and reared without the favour of gods (ou se theȏn aekȇti genesthai te traphemen te).” Thus having spoken (Hȏs ara phȏnȇsas’), Pallas Athena led the way (hȇgȇsat’ Pallas Athȇnȇ) swiftly (karpalimȏs), and he then (ho d’ epeita) walked in the footsteps of the goddess’ (met’ ichnia baine theoio).’ (22-30)

‘And they came into (hixon d’ es) the assembly and sessions of the Pylian men (Puliȏn andrȏn agurin te kai hedras), just where (enth’ ara) Nestor was sitting (Nestȏr hȇsto) with his sons (sun huiasin); and companions around them were preparing the feast (amphi d’ hetairoi dait’ entunomenoi), roasting flesh (krea t’ ȏptȏn) and putting other flesh on spits (alla t’ epeiron). As they saw the strangers (hoi d’ hȏs oun xeinous idon), they all came (athrooi ȇlthon hapantes), welcomed them by reaching hands to them (chersin t’ ȇspazonto), and bade them sit down (kai hedraasthai anȏgon). As the first (prȏtos), Nestor’s son Peisistratus (Nestoridȇs Peisistratos) having come near (enguthen elthȏn) took both by hand (amphoterȏn hele cheira) and bade them sit at the feast (kai hidrusen para daiti) on soft fleece (kȏesin en malakoisin), on the sand (epi psamathois) of the sea-shore (haliȇisi).’ (31-38)

‘And when they roasted (hoi d’ epei ȏptȇsan) the fine pieces of flesh (kre’ hupertera) and drew them off the spits (kai erusanto), they divided the portions (moiras dassamenoi) and had a glorious meal (dainunt’ erikudea daita). But after they got rid of their desire for drink and food (autar epei posios kai edȇtuos ex eron hento), to them then (tois d’ ara) Gerenios (Gerȇnios) the chariot-fighter (hippota) Nestor (Nestȏr) began to speak (muthȏn arche): “Now it is more proper (Nun dȇ kallion esti) to enquire (metallȇsai) and ask (kai eresthai) the strangers (xeinous) who they are (hoi tines eisin), after they enjoyed (epei tarpȇsan) the food (edȏdȇs). Strangers (ȏ xeinoi), who are you (tines este?” (65-71) … To him then the inspired Telemachus replied boldly (Ton d’ au Tȇlemachos pepnumenos antion ȇuda tharsȇsas), for Athena herself put courage into his mind (autȇ gar eni phresi tharsos Athȇnȇ thȇch’) so that he would ask him about his absent father (hina min peri patros apoichomenoio eroito), and in order that he would gain ecellent fame among men (ȇd’ hina min kleos esthlon en anthrȏpoisin echȇisin).’ (75-79)

Telemachus made an eloquent speech, explaining that they came from Ithaka and that he was seeking the tidings of Odysseus, his father: ‘I beg you (lissomai), if ever my father, the valiant Odysseus, having promised you some word or some deed (ei pote toi ti patȇr emos, esthlos Odusseus, ȇ epos ȇe ti ergon hupostas), fulfilled it (exetelesse) in the country of Troy (dȇmȏi eni Trȏȏn), where you, Achaians, endured great sufferings (hothi paschete pȇmat’ Achaioi), remember those instances now (tȏn nun moi mnȇsai), and tell me the truth (kai moi nȇmertes enispes, 98-101).’

Nestor: “Dear friend (ȏ phil’), now you’ve brought to my memory the hardships (epei m’ emnȇsas oizuos) that we endured at Troy (hȇn en ekeinȏi dȇmȏi anetlȇmen), how much we suffered in our ships roving thorough the misty sea in search of booty (hosa xun nȇusin ep’ ȇeroeidea ponton plazomenoi kata lȇid’), wherever Achilles led us (hopȇi arxeie Achilleus, 103-109) … For nine years (Enneaetes) we stitched up evil for them [i.e. for the Trojans] (gar sphin kaka raptomen) besetting them with various plots (amphiepontes pantoioisi doloisi); with toil and pain (mogis) the son of Cronus brought it to end (d’ etelesse Kroniȏn). There never anybody (enth’ ou tis pote) wanted to match up to him in shrewdness (mȇtin homoiȏthȇmenai antȇn ȇthel’), for the noble Odysseus was far superior in devising various plots (epei mala pollon enika dios Odusseus pantoioisi doloisi), your father (patȇr teos), if you are truly (ei eteon ge) his offspring (keinou ekgonos essi); I am filled with awe (sebas m’ echei) looking at you (eisoroȏnta); for to be sure (ȇ toi gar), speaking is similar (muthoi ge eoikotes), you would not say (oude ke phaiȇs) a young man  (andra neȏteron) could speak so seemly (hȏde eoikota muthȇsastai). For sure, when there, I and the noble Odusseus (enth’ ȇ toi hȇos men egȏ kai dios Odusseus) never in the assembly (oute pot’ ein agorȇi) spoke at variance with each other (dich’ ebazomen), nor in the counsel (out’ eni boulȇi).’ (118-127).

Nestor then spoke of the way back, full of misfortunes. Agamemnon, Menelaos, Nestor and Odysseus, each with his men, became separated by storms and other mishaps: “So I came home (hȏs ȇlthon), dear child (phile teknon), ignorant (apeuthȇs), and I don’t know anything (oude ti oida) of them (keinȏn), who of the Achaians were saved (hoi t’ esaȏthen Achaiȏn), and who perished (hoi t’ apolonto, 184-5).” He ends with the pitiable end of Agamemnon in the hands of Aigisthos, and Orestes’ revenge against his father’s murderer: “And you (kai su), my dear (philos) – I can see that you are a very fine (mala gar s’ horoȏ kalon) and stout man (te megan te) – you are brave (alkimos ess’), so that even someone in posterity (hina tis se kai opsigonȏn) may speak well of you (eü eipȇi, 199-200)!”

Telemachus replied: “Aw Nestor son of Neleus (Ȏ Nestor Nȇlȇiadȇ), great glory (mega kudos) of the Achaians (Achaiȏn), that man made a great revenge (kai liȇn men keinos etisato), and the Achaians (kai hoi Achaioi) will bear his fame far and wide (oisousi kleos euru), for posterity to make songs about (kai essomenoisi aoidȇn). If only gods gave me such power (ai gar emoi tossȇnde theoi dunamin peritheien), to make the suitors pay (tisasthai mnȇstȇras) for their grievous transgressions (huperbasiȇs alegeinȇs), who, committing outrage (hoi te moi hubrizontes), are wickedly intriguing against me (atasthala mȇchanoȏntai)! But gods have not allotted such good fortune to me (all’ ou moi toiouton epeklȏsan theoi olbon), to my father and me (patri t’ emȏi kai emoi); but now one must (nun de chrȇ) endure (tetlamen) as things are (empȇs).” (201-209)

Nestor: “Who knows (tis d’ oid’), perhaps one day (ei ke pote) he will take vengeance on them for their violence when he comes (sphi bias apotisetai elthȏn), either he on his own (ȇ ho ge mounos eȏn), or even all Achaians (ȇ kai pantes Achaioi). For if the bright-eyed Athena wanted to cherish you so (ei gar s’ hȏs etheloi phileein glaukȏpis Athȇnȇ) as she then cared for the glorious Odysseus in the district of Trojans (hȏs tot’Odussȇos perikȇdeto kudalimoio dȇmȏi eni Trȏȏn), where we Achaians suffered grievously (hothi paschomen alge’ Achaioi). I’ve never seen (ou gar pȏ idon) gods cherishing so openly (hȏde theous anaphanda phileuntas) as Pallas Athena openly stood by him (hȏs keinȏi anaphanda paristato Pallas Athȇnȇ). If she wanted to cherish you thus (ei s’ houtȏs etheloi phileein) and cared for you (kȇdoito te) in her heart (thumȏi), then someone of those for sure (tȏ ken tis keinȏn ge) would even forget (kai eklelathoito) about marriage (gamoio).” (216-224)

Telemachus: “Dear old man (ȏ geron), I don’t think that these words will be fulfilled (ou pȏ touto epos teleesthai oїȏ); for what you said is too great (liȇn gar mega eipes); I am astounded (agȇ m’ echei). Even though I wished, these things would not happen (ouk an emoi ge elpomenȏi ta genoit’), not even if the gods so wished (oud’ ei theoi hȏs etheloien).” (226-8)

Athena (as Mentor): “Telemachus (Tȇlemache), what word of yours (poion se epos) escaped the barrier of the teeth (phugen herkos odontȏn)? Easily (reia) a god (theos g’), if willing (ethelȏn), even from far away (kai tȇlothen) could save a man (andra saȏsai).” (230-231)

Telemachus: “Mentor (Mentor), let us speak of this no more (mȇketi tauta legȏmetha), even though we care (kȇdomenoi per). For him (keinȏi d’) there is no more return (ouketi nostos etȇtumos), but the immortals had already devised for him (alla hoi ȇdȇ phrassant’ athanatoi) death (thanaton) and dark end (kai kȇra melainan).” (240-242) Then he turned to Nestor and asked: “How did Agamemnon, the far-ruling son of Atreus, die (pȏs ethan’ Atreidȇs eurukreiȏn Agamenȏn)? Where was Menelaos [Agamemnon’s brother] (pou Menelaos eȇn)? What ruin had the wily Aigisthos devise for him [for Agamemnon] (tina d’ autȏi mȇsat’ olethron Aigisthos dolomȇtis), for he murdered a much better man (epei ktane pollon areiȏ)? Or wasn’t he [Menelaos] in the Achaic Argos (ȇ ouk Argeos ȇen Achaїkou), but was wandering somewhere else among men (alla pȇi allȇi plazet’ ep’ anthrȏpous), and he [Aigisthos] (ho de) emboldened (tharsȇsas) killed him [Agamemnon] (katepephne)? (248-252)

In his answer Nestor embarked on another long story, narrating how Aigisthos plotted his enormous deed (mala mega mȇsato ergon, 261): “We were sitting there [at Troy] engaged in many combats (hȇmeis men gar keithi poleas teleontes aethlous hȇmeth’), but he [Aigisthos] at his ease (ho d’ eukȇlos), in the innermost corner of the horse-breeding Argos (muchȏi Argeos hippobotoio), was persistently charming Agamemnon’s wife with his words (poll’ Agamemnoneȇn alochon thelgesken epessin). She surely at first (hȇ d’ ȇ toi to prin), was rejecting (anaineto) the unbecoming deed (ergon aeikes), the illustrious Clytaemnestra (dia Klutaimnȇstrȇ), for she had good sense (phresi gar kechrȇt’ agathȇsi). And there was a bard at her side (par d’ ar’ eȇn kai aoidos anȇr), upon whom Atreus’ son [Agamemnon], going to Troy, laid firmly the task (hȏi poll’ epetellen Atreidȇs Troiȇnde kiȏn) of watching over (eirusthai) his wife (akoitin). But when the destiny of gods bound her to be overcome (all hote dȇ min moira theȏn epedȇse damȇnai), then (dȇ tote) taking the bard (ton men aoidon agȏn) on a desolate island (es nȇson erȇmȇn) he [Aigisthos] left him there (kallipen) to become prey and booty for birds (oiȏnoisin helȏr kai kurma genesthai). And he willing, her willing (tȇn d’ ethelȏn ethelousan), led her into his house (agȇgagen honde domonde).” (262-272)

“We sailed together (Hȇmeis men gar hama) from Troy (Troiȇthen iontes) Atreus’ son [Menelaos] and I (Atreidȇs kai egȏ) in mutual friendship (phila eidotes allȇloisi), but when we arrfived at the holy Sounion (all’ hote Sounion hiron aphikometh’), Athenean promontory (akron Athȇnȏn), there Phoibos Apollon killed Menelaos’ helmsman visiting him with his gentle missiles [‘a formula for a man’s sudden and painless death,’ noted W. B. Stanford ad loc.] (entha kubernȇtȇn Menelaou Phoibos Apollȏn hois aganois beleessin epoichomenos katepephne) … Thus he was held back there (hȏs ho men entha kateschet’), although he was eager to go (epeigomenos per hodoio), in order to bury his comrade (ophr’ hetaron thaptoi) with due honours (kai epi kterea kteriseien). But when he then as well (all hote dȇ kai keinos), returning on the gleaming sea (iȏn epi oinopa ponton) in spacious ships (en nȇusi glaphurȇisi), reached the high mountain of Maleiai [’the Cape Horn of Greek navigators’, notes Stanford ad loc.] (Maleiaȏn oros aipu hixe), sailing swiftly (theȏn), at that point the far-thundering Zeus devised a dreadful way (tote dȇ stugerȇn hodon euruopa Zeus ephrasato), he poured out a hurricane of whistling winds and monstrous swollen waves mountain-high (ligeȏn d’ anemȏn ep’ aütmena cheue kumata te trophoenta pelȏria, isa oressin – tr. Rouse quoted by Stanford in his note ad loc.) … Menelaos’ five dark-bowed ships (tas pente neas kuanoprȏireious) the wind and the water brought to Egypt (Aiguptȏi epelasse pherȏn anemos te kai hudȏr). Thus (hȏs) he there (ho men entha), gathering much wealth and gold (polun bioton kai chruson ageirȏn), wandered with ships (ȇlato xun nȇusi) among men speaking strange tongues (kat’ allothroous anthrȏpous). And meanwhile (tophra de) Aigisthos plotted these dreadful things at home (taut’ Aigisthos emȇsato oikothi lugra); and seven years he ruled over (heptaetes d’ ȇnasse) Mycenae rich in gold (poluchrusoio Mukȇnȇs), having killed Atreus’ son (kteinas Atreїdȇn); the people were subjugated by him (dedmȇto de laos hup’ autȏi). But on the eighth year evil for him (tȏi de hoi ogdoatȏi kakon); the illustrious Orestes came (ȇluthe dios Orestȇs) back (aps) from Athens (ap’ Athȇnaȏn) and killed the parricide (kata d’ ektane patrophonȇa), the wily Aigisthos (Aigisthon dolomȇtin), who murdered his glorious father (ho hoi patera kluton ekta). Verily, I tell you (ȇ toi), after killing him he was giving the feast to Argaeans (ho ton kteinas dainu taphon Argeioisin) at the funeral of his hated mother (mȇtros te stugerȇs) and the cowardly (kai analkidos) Aigisthos (Aigishoio), and on the same day (autȇmar de) arrived to him (hoi ȇlthe) Menelaos good at the battle cry (boȇn agathos Menelaos), bringing great treasures (polla ktȇmat’ agȏn), as much as ships could carry for him (hosa hoi nees achthos aeiran).” (279-312)

Nestor ended his story with a word of advice for Telemachus: “And you (kai su), my friend (philos), do not wander long far away from home (mȇ dȇtha domȏn apo tȇl’ alalȇso), leaving the property behind (ktȇmata te prolipȏn) and men in your house who are so outrageous (andras t’ en soisi domoisi houtȏ huperphialous), lest they devour everything (mȇ toi kata panta phagȏsi), dividing your property among themselves (ktȇmata dassamenoi), and you make a useless journey (su de tȇüsiȇn hodon elthȇis). But to Menelaos (all’ es men Menelaon) I command (egȏ kelomai) and urge (kai anȏga) you to go (elthein), for he newly returned from abroad (keinos gar neon allothen eilȇlouthen).” (313-318)

‘Thus he spoke (hȏs ephat’); and the sun sunk into the sea (ȇelios d’ ar’ edu) and twilight came (kai epi knephas ȇlthe, 329).’ Athena urged them: “Cut out the tongues [of the sacrificial victims] (tamnete men glȏssas) and mix the wine (keraasthe de oinon), so that (ophra) after making the libation to Poseidon and other immortals (Poseidaȏni kai allois athanatoisi speisantes) we may think of going to bed (koitoio medȏmetha); for it’s time for this (toio gar hȏrȇ, 332-334)” … And the heralds poured water over their hands (toisi de kȇrukes men hudȏr epi cheiras echeuan), and young men (kouroi de) filled their glasses (krȇtȇras epestepsanto) with drink (potoio), dealt out to everyone (nȏmȇsan d’ ara pasin) having performed the dedicatory rights with the cups (eparxamenoi depaessi). They threw the tongues into the fire (glȏssas en puri ballon) and standing up poured the libation over (anistamenoi d’ epeleibon). But after they made the libation (autar epei speisan t’) and drank as much as their heart desired (epion t’ hoson ȇthele thumos), then (dȇ tot’) Athena and the godlike Telemachus (Athȇnaiȇ kai Tȇlemachos theoeidȇs), they both (amphȏ) were eager (hiesthȇn) to go to the ship (epi nȇa neesthai).’ (337-344).

‘But Nestor held them back (Nestor d’ au kateruke) addressing them with the words (kathaptomenos epeessi): “May Zeus ward this off (Zeus to g’ alexȇseie) and other immortal gods (kai athanatoi theoi alloi), that you (hȏs humeis) from me (par’ emeio) should go on the swift ship (thoȇn epi nȇa kioite), as from some man destitute of bed-clothing (hȏs te teu ȇ para pampan aneimonos) or needy (ȇe penichrou), in whose house there aren’t coverlets and blankets in abundance (hȏi ou ti chlainai kai rȇgea poll’ eni oikȏi), and for whom and for whose guests there is nowhere to sleep comfortably (out’ autȏi malakȏs oute xeinoisin eneudein). But in my house (autar emoi para) there are coverlets (men chlainai) and beautiful blankets (kai rȇgea kala). Certainly not this man’s (ou thȇn de toud’ andros), Odysseus’ (Odussȇos) own son (philos huios); he will not lie down on the ship’s deck (nȇos ep’ ikriophin katalexetai) as long as I live (ophr’ an egȏ ge zȏȏ), and then (epeita de) my children are left in the house (paides eni megaroisi lipȏntai) to receive guests (xeinous xeinizein), whoever (hos tis) may come to my house (k’ ema dȏmat’ hikȇtai).’ (346-355)

‘To him then spoke (Ton d’ aute proseeipe) the bright-eyed goddess Athena (thea glaukȏpis Athȇnȇ): “You’ve said this rightly (eu dȇ tauta g’ ephȇstha), dear old man (geron phile), it beseems Telemachus to obey you (soi de eoike Tȇlemachon peithesthai), for it is much better thus (epei polu kallion houtȏs). So he will now go together with you (all’ houtos men nun soi ham’ hepsetai), so that he may sleep (ophra ken heudȇi) in your house (soisin eni megaroisin), but I shall go to the black ship (egȏ d’ epi nȇa melainan eim’) so that I encourage (hina tharsunȏ) the comrades (th’ hetarous) and tell them everything (eipȏ te hekasta) (355-361) … But in the morning (atar ȇȏthen) I shall go to the high-hearted Caucons (meta Kaukȏnas megathumous eim’); there is a debt owed to me (entha chreios moi ophelletai), not a new one nor small (ou ti neon ge oud’ oligon).” (366-8)

‘Having spoken thus (hȏs ara phȏnȇsas’), the bright-eyed Athena departed (apebȇ glaukȏpis Athȇnȇ) in the likeness of the bearded vulture (phȇnȇi eidomenȇ). Wonder overwhelmed all the Achaeans (thambos d’ hele pantas Achaious), the old man was amazed (thaumazen d’ ho geraios), as he saw it with his eyes (hopȏs d’ iden ophthalmoisi). He took Telemachus’ hand (Tȇlemachou d’ hele cheira) and said (epos t’ ephat’ ek t’ onomazen): “My dear friend (ȏ philos), I don’t think that you (ou se eolpa) will become bad and cowardly (kakon kai analkin esesthai), if you, so young (ei dȇ toi neȏi hȏde), have gods as your escorts (theoi pompȇes hepontai). This was no one else (ou men gar tis hod’ allos), of those that have their dwellings on Olympus (Olumpia dȏmat’ echontȏn), but Zeus’ daughter (alla Dios thugatȇr), the glorious tritogeneia (kudistȇ tritogeneia); she distinguished your excellent father as well with honour among the Argives (hȇ toi kai pater’ esthlon en Argeioisi etima). But (alla), queen (anass’), be gracious (hilȇthi), give me good fame (didȏthi moi kleos esthlon), to myself (autȏi), and to my children (kai paidessi), and to my well respected wife (kai aidoiȇi parakoiti), and I will sacrifice to you (soi d’ au egȏ rexȏ) a shining broad-browed unbroken cow (boun ȇnin eurumetȏpon admȇtȇn), not yet brought under the yoke by man (hȇn ou pȏ hupo zugon ȇgagen anȇr). I shall sacrifice her to you (tȇn toi egȏ rexȏ), gold (chruson) pouring around her horns (kerasin pericheuas).” (371-384)
‘Thus he spoke in his prayer (Hȏs ephat’ euchomenos), and Pallas Athene gave ear to him (tou d’ eklue Pallas Athȇnȇ). And Gerȇnios chariot-fighter Nestor led them (toisin d’ hȇgemoneue Gerȇnios hippota Nestȏr), his sons (huiasi) and his sons-in-law (kai gambroisi), to his lovely house (hea pros dȏmata kala).’ (385-388)
After reaching the house Nestor mixed them delicious wine, made a libation and ardently prayed to Athene.  When they all made their libations and drunk as much as they wanted, each went to their homes to go to bed. Nestor put Telemachus to bed side by side with his son Peisistratus, of the same age as Telemachus – “he is of the same age as me” (homȇlikiȇ d’ emoi autȏi) says Peisistratus in l. 49 – who was unmarried (ȇitheos), still in his house (en megaroisi, 401).

Nestor got up early in the morning, sat on the polished stone-seat in front of his house, his six sons – Echephron, Stratios, Perseus, Aretus, Thrasymedes, and Peisistratus – assembled around him, and he spoke to them: “Quickly (karpalimȏs moi), dear children (tekna phila), fulfil my wish (krȇȇnat’ eeldȏr), so that (ophr’) as the first of gods I propitiate Athena (ȇ toi prȏtista theȏn hilassom’ Athȇnȇn), who came to me in real form to the goodly feast dedicated to the god (hȇ moi enargȇs ȇlthe theou es daita thaleian, 418- 420).” One of the sons went to fetch the cow from the field for the sacrifice, another went to bring Telemachus’ companions from the ship, and yet another was sent to tell the coppersmith to come; the others were told to stand by and tell the servants to prepare everything in the house for the feast.
‘And so the cow came from the field (ȇlthe men ar bous ek pediou), and from the swift well-proportioned ship came (ȇlthon de thoȇs para nȇos eїsȇs) the great-hearted comrades of Telemachus (Tȇlemachou hetaroi megalȇtores), and the coppersmith came (ȇlthe de chalkeus) with bronze tools in his hands (hopl’ en chersin echȏn chalkȇїa), implements of art (peirata technȇs), the anvil (akmona te), the hammer (sphuran t’), and well-made pincers (eupoiȇton te puragrȇn) with which he wrought the gold (hoisin te chruson ȇrgazeto); and Athena came to take part in the holy ceremony (ȇlthe d’ Athȇnȇ hirȏn antioȏsa). And the old man (gerȏn d’), the chariot-fighter Nestor (hippȇlata Nestȏr), presented the gold (chruson edȏch’), and he [the coppersmith] (ho d’) then (epeita) poured it over the horns of the cow (boos kerasin pericheuen) with skill and care (askȇsas), in order that the goddess might rejoice seeing the precious offering’ (hin’ agalma thea kecharoito idousa).’ (430-438).

‘Stratios and noble Echephron led the cow by the horns (boun d’ agetȇn keraȏn Stratios kai dios Echephrȏn), and Aretus came from the room, [in one hand] carrying water for washing their hands in a cauldron adorned with flowers (cherniba de sph’ Arȇtos en anthemoenti lebȇti ȇluthen ek thalamoio pherȏn), in the other hand he had (heterȇi d’ echen) roasted barley-corns mixed with salt (oulas) in a basket (en kaneȏi), and Thrasymachus steadfast-in-battle with a sharp axe in his hand stood by (pelekun de meneptolemos Thrasumȇdȇs oxun echȏn en cheiri paristato), to strike the cow (boun epikopsȏn), and Perseus had amnion (Perseus amnion d’ eiche – a basin in which the blood of the victims was caught). And the old man (gerȏn d’), the chariot-fighter Nestor (hippȇlata Nestȏr), began the sacred hand-washing and the sprinkling of the barley-meal (cherniba t’ oulochutas te katarcheto); he ardently prayed to Athena (polla d’ Athȇnȇi euchet’) as he began the sacred rites of cutting off hair from the head [of the victim] (aparchomenos kephalȇs trichas), casting it in the fire (en puri ballȏn).’ (439-446)

‘But after they prayed (Autar epei r’ euxanto) and cast the barley-meal in front of them (kai oulochutas probalonto), immediately (autika) Nestor’s son (Nestoros huios), the high-spirited Thrasymedes (huperthumos Thrasumȇdȇs), struck (ȇlasen) standing near (anchi stas); and the axe (pelekus d’) cut off (apekopse) the neck-muscles (tenontas auchenious), knocked out the cow’s vital force (lusen de boos menos), and in triumph shouted Nestor’s daughters, and their sisters in law, and the much respected wife of Nestor, Euridice (hai d’ ololuxan thugateres te nuoi te kai aidoiȇ parakoitis Nestoros), the eldest of the daughters of Klymenos (presba Klumenoio thugatrȏn). Then having raised the cow from the broad-way ground they held her (hoi men epeit’ anelontes apo chthonos euruodeiȇs eschon), and Peisistratus slit her throat (atar sphazen Peisistratos), the leader of men (orchamos andrȏn). From her then the dark blood poured out (tȇs d’ epei ek melan haima ruȇ), and life deserted her bones (lipe d’ ostea thumos). Forthwith they cut her up (aips’ ara min diecheuan), straightaway cut out pieces of the flesh of the thighs (aphar d’ ek mȇria tamnon), everything suitably (panta kata moiran), wrapped the pieces in the caul (kata te knisȇi ekalupsan), folded in two layers (diptucha poiȇsantes), and on these put raw pieces of flesh (ep’ autȏn d’ ȏmothetȇsan). The old men burnt these on split wood (kaie d’ epi schizȇis ho gerȏn), and poured over fiery wine (epi d’ aithopa oinon leibe). And young men on his side (neoi de par’ auton) held forks with five prongs in their hands (echon pempȏbola chersin). Now after the thighs were completely burnt (autar epei kata mȇra kaȇ) and the inner parts consumed (kai splanchna pasanto), they cut the rest small (mistullon t’ ara t’alla), and spitted (kai amph’ obeloisin epeiran), and roasted (ȏpton d’), holding the sharp spits in their hands (akroporous obelous en chersin echontes).’ (454-463)

‘And meanwhile (Tophra de) the beautiful Polykaste, the youngest daughter of Nestor, the son of Neleus, washed Telemachus (Tȇlemachon lousen kalȇ Polukastȇ Nestoros hoplotatȇ thugatȇr Nȇlȇїadao). But when she washed him (autar epei lousen te) and richly oiled with olive oil (kai echrisen lip’ elaiȏi), and put on him a beautiful mantle (amphi de min pharos kalon balen) and tunic (ȇde chitȏna), he came out of the bath (ek r’ asaminthou bȇ) with his looks similar to the immortals (demas athanatoisin homoios). And coming to Nestor, the shepherd of the people, he sat by his side (par d’ ho ge Nestor’ iȏn kat’ ar’ hezeto, poimena laȏn).’ (464-469)

W. B. Stanford noted on l. 464: ‘Women or girls regularly washed the men in Il. and Od. Later Greek tradition, however, thought it fitting that Polykaste should marry Telemachus.’ (The Odyssey of Homer, vol. I, London, Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1965, p. 265)

And when they roasted the outer flesh [flesh about the bones, the better pieces] (Hoi d’ epei ȏptȇsan kre’ hupertera) and drawn them off the spits (kai erusanto), they sat and feasted (dainunt’ hezomenoi), and then the excellent men arose (epi d’ aneres esthloi oronto) pouring out wine in golden cups (oinon oinochoeuntes eni chruseois depaessi). But when (autar epei) they got rid of their desire for drink and food (posios kai edȇtuos ex eron hento), Gerenios chariot-fighter Nestor began to speak to them (toisi de muthȏn ȇrche Gerȇnios hippota Nestȏr): “My children (Paides emoi), come! (age), put the horses with beautiful main to the chariot for Telemachus (Tȇlemachȏi kallitrichas hippous zeuxath’ huph’ harmat’ agontes), so that he can make his journey (hina prȇssȇisi hodoio).” So he spoke (Hȏs ephat’), and they readily listened to him (hoi d’ ara tou mala men kluon) and obeyed (ȇd’ epithonto), and quickly (karpalimȏs d’) put the swift horses to the chariot (ezeuxan huph’ harmasin ȏkeas hippous). The housekeeper put in bread and wine (en de gunȇ tamiȇ siton kai onion ethȇken) and meat (opsa te), such as kings cherished by Zeus eat (hoia edousi diotrephees basilȇes). Then Telemachus stepped in the beautiful chariot (an d’ ara Tȇlemachos perikallea bȇseto diphron), then Nestor’s son Peisistratus, leader of men, stepped in the chariot beside him (par d’ ara Nestoridȇs Peisistratos, orchamos andrȏn, es diphron t’ anebȇse) and took the reins in his hands (kai hȇnia lazeto chersi), and swung the lash to drive (mastixen d’ elaan), and they [the two horses] flew not unwillingly (tȏd’ ouk aekonte petesthȇn) into the plain (es pedion), and they left (lipetȇn de) the lofty city of Pylos (Pulou aipu ptoliethron).’ (470-485)

That day they reached Pherai, where they spent the night, and the next day ‘they completed the journey (ȇnon hodon), for with such speed (toion gar) the swift horses carried them (hupekpheron ȏkees hippoi). And the sun set (duseto t’ ȇelios) and darkness overshadowed all ways (skioȏnto te pasai aguiai, 496-7).’

Saturday, July 23, 2016

1 Bertrand Russell on ‘The Theory of Ideas’ and Plato's Republic

In the last few days I felt like Odysseus – roaming through centuries of thought. Plato’s Protagoras took me to Book XI of Homer’s Odyssey, and reading Homer aloud, just for myself, is always a treat. Odysseus’ encounter with the dead in that Book made me go back to see how Odysseus got there, and start at the beginning. Not long ago I recorded a number of Books form the Iliad (putting the recordings on my website), and so I was struck by the difference between the beginnings of these two poems. The Iliad is a compact story, displaying in great detail one great theme, which is set in its opening words: Mȇnin aeide (Sing the wrath), thea (Goddess), Pȇlȇїadeȏ Achilȇos (of Achilles the son of Peleus), oulomenȇn (destructive), hȇ muri Achaiois alge ethȇke (that caused distress to tens of thousands of Achaians), pollous d’ iphthimous psuchas (many mighty souls) Aїdi proiapsen (it sent to Hades) hȇrȏȏn (of heroes), autous de helȏria teuche kunessin oiȏnoisi te pasi (and made them prey to dogs and to all birds), Dios d’ eteleieto boulȇ (the will of Zeus was brought to pass, Il. I. 1-5).

Note that in Homer the dead heroes ‘themselves’ became prey of the dogs and birds, while their souls, ‘the phantoms of the deceased mortals’ (brotȏn eidȏla kamontȏn, Od. XI. 476), were sent to Hades. In contrast, for Socrates the soul is what we truly are (see e.g. Plato, Alcibiades 130e), and Plato says that ‘the body (to sȏma) follows us about in the likeness of each of us (indallomenon hȇmȏn hekastois hepesthai), and therefore, when we are dead (kai teleutȇsantȏn), the bodies of the dead are quite rightly said to be our shades or images (legesthai kalȏs eidȏla einai ta tȏn nekrȏn sȏmata, Laws XII, 959b1-3, tr. B. Jowett)’. E. B. England notes ad loc.: ‘Ast says that Plato, in calling the dead body an eidȏlon, is consciously contradicting Homer’s view that the psuchȇ is an eidȏlon.’

In the Odyssey the poet prays: ‘Tell me the man (Andra moi ennepe), Muse (Mousa), versatile (polutropon), who wandered a lot (hos mala polla planchthȇ) … of these events (tȏn), from some point (hamothen ge), Goddess (thea), the daughter of Zeus (thugater Dios), tell us also now (eipe kai hȇmin, Od. I. 1-10)’. W. B. Stanford notes on line 10: ‘The poet faced with the immense mass of epic material needs the Muse help in choosing a beginning ‘at some point’.’

The poet begins by saying that all others, who avoided death and destruction in the war or on the sea, were at home, while Odysseus was still held back by Calypso, but when the year came when he was destined to return to Ithaca, his home, all the gods – with the exception of Poseidon, who was in rage with Odysseus for blinding Cyclops, his son, and was away in the realm of the Ethiopians – assembled in the house of Zeus. Zeus opened the meeting with a complaint against the mortals: ‘Dear me (Ȏ popoi), what charges the mortals are bringing against the gods (hoion dȇ nu theous brotoi aitioȏntai). For they say that we are the cause of their ills (ex hȇmeȏn gar phasi kak’ emmenai). But they themselves also (hoi de kai autoi) by their own reckless sins (sphȇisin atasthaliȇisin) have sufferings beyond their measure (hupermoron alge echousin).’ – Stanford notes: ‘kai implies that Zeus does accept some responsibility for the amount of sufferings apportioned to each man by destiny.’
Zeus gives as an example of such ills for which gods ur unjustly blamed the death of Aigisthos in the hands of Orestes; he sent Hermes to advise the former against marrying Agamemnon’s wife and against killing Agamemnon: ‘there will come revenge from Orestes (ek gar Orestao tisis essetai), the son of Agamemnon (Atreidao), when he grows up (hoppot’ an hȇbȇsȇi) and yearns after his land (kai hȇs himeiretai aiȇs, 40-41)’; Hermes told him thus (hȏs ephat’ Hermeias), but he did not persuade the mind of Aigisthes (all’ ou phrenas Aigisthoio peith’), meaning well (agatha phroneȏn), and now he paid for all (nun d’ athroa pant’ apetise).’ (Od. I. 32-43).

Zeus’ complaint against the mortals creates the framework within which the Odyssey is unveiled. Athena tells Zeus that Aigisthos got what he deserved; it’s time to think of Odysseus. With Zeus’ approval, she goes to visit Telemachos, the son of Odysseus, who, as everybody, believes his father to be long dead, and is unhappy about the suitors of his mother who live in the house at his expense. The goddess tells him to call an assembly, to appeal to the suitors of Penelope and their parents and relatives, urge them to have the decency and leave the house. The assembly takes place, Telemachus makes an eloquent plea, but the suitors (and their relatives) spurn him. Leocritus dissolves the assembly saying that nobody can fight the illustrious suitors, they are too many; even if Odysseus himself comes back and attempts to throw them out of his house, he will pay with his death (Od. I. 246-250). – And so the suitors themselves, their friends, relatives, and parents co-determine their own fate – the suitors will end up slaughtered by Odysseus.

Telemachus and Athena (who accompanied him in the guise of Odysseus’ old friend Mentor) then sailed to Nestor, to enquire about the fate of Odysseus. As they reached Nestor’s Pylos at the beginning of the 3rd book, before returning to Plato’s Protagoras, I felt like reading another chapter from Russell’s History of Western Philosophy.

In ‘The Theory of Ideas’, Russell gives a masterful summary of Plato’s theory of Forms (Russell, Ch. 15, p. 121), but in discussing the theory he makes mistakes. He says: ‘Those who are destitute of philosophy may be compared to prisoners in a cave, who are only able to look in one direction because they are bound, and who have a fire behind them and a wall in front. Between them and the wall there is nothing; all that they see are shadows of themselves, and of objects behind them, cast on the wall by the light of the fire. Inevitably they regard these shadows as real, and have no notion of the objects to which they are due. At last some man succeeds in escaping from the cave to the light of the sun; for the first time he sees real things, and becomes aware that he had hitherto been deceived by shadows.’ – So far so good; but then he goes on: ‘If he is the sort of philosopher who is fit to become a guardian, he will feel it is his duty to those who were formerly his fellow-prisoners to go down again into the cave, instruct them as to the truth, and show them the way up. But he will have difficulty in persuading them, because, coming out of the sunlight, he will see shadows less clearly than they do, and will seem to them stupider than before his escape.’ (p. 126)

Compare what Plato says about the ascent from the cave and the descent back into it that takes place within the framework of the ideal State. Socrates: ‘The business of us (Hȇmeteron dȇ ergon) who are the founders of the State (tȏn oikistȏn) will be to compel the best minds (tas te beltistas phuseis anankasai) to attain that knowledge (aphikesthai pros to mathȇma) which we have already shown (ho en tȏi prosthen ephamen) to be the greatest of all (einai megiston), namely, the vision of the good (idein te to agathon); they must make the ascent which we have described (kai anabȇnai ekeinȇn tȇn anabasin); but when they have ascended (kai epeidan anabantes) and seen enough (hikanȏs idȏsi) we must not allow them to do (mȇ epitrepein autois) as they do now (ho nun epitrepetai).’ – Glaucon: ‘What do you mean (To poion dȇ)?’ – Socrates: ‘They are permitted to remain in the upper world (To autou katamenein), refusing to descend again (kai mȇ ethelein palin katabainein) among the prisoners of the cave (par’ ekeinous tous desmȏtas), and partake (mȇde metechein) of their (tȏn par ekeinȏn) labours and honours (ponȏn te kai timȏn) (519c8-d6) … we shall explain to them (eroumen gar hoti, 520a9) … we have brought you into the world to be the rulers of the hive, kings of yourselves and of the other citizens  (humas d’ hȇmeis humin te autois tȇi te allȇi polei hȏsper en smȇnesi hȇgemonas te kai basileas egennȇsamen, 520b5-6) … Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down (katabateon oun en merei hekastȏi) to rejoin his companions (eis tȇn tȏn allȏn katoikȇsin), and acquire with them the habit of seeing things in the dark (kai sunethisteon ta skoteina theasasthai). As you acquire that habit (sunethizomenoi gar), you will see ten thousand times better (muriȏi beltion opsesthe) than the inhabitants of the cave (tȏn ekei), and you will know (kai gnȏsesthe) what the several images are and what they represent (hekasta ta eidȏla hatta esti kai hȏn), because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth (dia to alȇthȇ heȏrakenai kalȏn te kai dikaiȏn kai agathȏn peri).’ (Pl. Rep. 519c8-520c6, tr. B. Jowett)

Pace Russell, the philosopher-guardian does not have any choice in going or not going back into the cave; he must go when his turn comes to do so. He is not going down to instruct the inhabitants of the cave as to the truth; the truth, that is the Forms, is beyond their capacity of understanding; their mind operates within the framework of mere opinion. He is not going to show them the way up; the inhabitants stay in the cave – with the exception of those few who are or are to become philosopher-guardians – each at his or her place doing the work for which they are suited; the philosopher-guardian descends into the cave to help them in doing so and to make sure that they do so.

Let me note that Jowett’s ‘to rejoin his companions’ for Plato’s eis tȇn tȏn allȏn katoikȇsin is misleading; the bees in the beehive can hardly be companions of the rulers and the kings in the beehives; [katabateon] eis tȇn tȏn allȏn katoikȇsin means ‘[to descend] into the dwelling of the others’.

Russell’s (and Jowett’s) mistake is understandable, for Plato begins the description of the ascent from the cave by contemplating it within the framework of the situation in Athens.

Socrates: ‘And now look again (Skopei dȇ), and see in what manner they would be released from their bonds, and cured of their error (autȏn lusin te kai iasin tȏn te desmȏn kai tȇs aphrosunȇs, hoia tis an eiȇ), whether the process would naturally be as follows (ei phusei toiade sumbainoi autois). At first, when any of them is liberated (hopote tis lutheiȇ) and compelled (kai anankazoito) suddenly (exaiphnȇs) to stand up (anistasthai) and turn his neck round (te kai periagein ton auchena) and walk (kai badizein) and look towards the light (kai pros to phȏs anablepein), he will suffer sharp pains (panta de tauta poiȏn algoi); the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows (te kai dia tas marmarugas adunatoi kathoran ekeina hȏn tote tas skias heȏra); and then conceive someone saying to him that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, – what will be his reply (ti an oiei auton eipein, ei tis autȏi legoi hoti tote men heȏra phluarias, nun de mallon ti enguterȏ tou ontos kai pros mallon onta tetrammenos orthoteron blepoi)? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them (kai dȇ kai hekaston tȏn pariontȏn deiknus autȏi anankazoi erȏtȏn apokrinesthai hoti estin), – will not he be perplexed (ouk oiei auton aporein)? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw (te an kai hȇgeisthai ta tote horȏmena) are truer (alȇthestera) than the objects which are now shown to him (ȇ ta nun deiknumena)?’ – Glaucon: ‘Far truer (Polu ge).’ (515c4-d8, tr. Jowett)

When Plato then asks Glaucon to imagine the descent back into the cave, he goes back in time to the days of Socrates, whom he has in front of his mind.

Socrates: ‘Imagine once more (Kai tode dȇ ennoȇson) such a one coming down suddenly out of the sunlight, and being replaced in his old seat (ei palin ho toioutos katabas eis ton auton thakon kathizoito); would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness (ar’ ou skotou an anapleȏs schoiȇ tous ophthalmous, exaiphnȇs hȇkȏn ek tou hȇliou)? – Glaucon: ‘To be sure (Kai mala).’ – Socrates: ‘And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows (Tas de skias ekeinas palin ei deoi auton gnȏmateuonta diamillasthai) with the prisoners who had never moved out of the cave (tois aei desmȏtais ekeinois), while his sight was still weak (en hȏi ambluȏttei), and before his eyes had become steady (prin anastȇnai ta ommata), and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable (houtos d’ ho chronos mȇ panu oligos eiȇ tȇs sunȇtheias), would he not make himself ridiculous (ar’ ou gelȏt’ an paraschoi)? Men would say of him (kai legoito an peri autou) that he had returned from the place above with his eyes ruined (hȏs anabas anȏ diephtharmenos hȇkei ta ommata); and that it was better not even to think of ascending (kai hoti ouk axion oude peirasthai anȏ ienai); and if anyone tried to lose another (kai ton epicheirounta luein) and lead him up to the light (te kai anagein), let them only catch the offender (ei pȏs en tais chersi dunainto labein), and they would put him to death (kai apokteinein, apokteinunai an).’ – Glaucon: ‘No question (Sphodra ge).’ (516e3-517a7, tr. Jowett)

On the margin of my text, as I was sitting at Oxford in the Bodleian Library years ago, I wrote down Adam’s remark ad loc.: ‘a manifest allusion to the death of Socrates’.

Follows a paragraph in which Plato explains the simile of the cave, with his eyes firmly fixed on his ideal State.

Socrates: ‘This entire allegory (Tautȇn toinun tȇn eikona) you may now append, dear Glaucon (ȏ phile Glaukȏn, prosapteon hapasan), to the previous argument (tois emprosthen legomenois); the prison-house is the world of sight (tȇn men di’ opseȏs phainomenȇn hedran tȇi tou desmȏtȇriou oikȇsei aphomoiounta), the light of the fire is the power of the sun (to de tou puros en autȇi phȏs tȇi tou hȇliou dunamei), and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my surmise (tȇn de anȏ anabasin kai thean tȏn anȏ tȇn eis ton noȇton topon tȇs psuchȇs anodon titheis ouch hamartȇsȇi tȇs emȇs elpidos), which, at your desire, I have expressed (epeidȇ tautȇs epithumeis akouein) – whether rightly or wrongly God knows (theos de pou oiden ei alȇthȇs ousa tunchanei). But whether true or false, my opinion is (ta d’ oun emoi phainomena houtȏ phainetai) that in the world of knowledge the Idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with effort (en tȏi gnȏstȏi teleutaia hȇ tou agathou idea kai mogis horasthai); although, when seen (ophtheisa de), it is inferred (sullogistea) to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right (einai hȏs ara pasi pantȏn hautȇ orthȏn te kai kalȏn aitia), parent of light and of the lord of light in the visible world (en te horatȏi phȏs kai ton toutou kurion tekousa), and the immediate and supreme source of reason and truth in the intellectual (en te noȇtȏi autȇ kuria alȇtheian kai noun paraschomenȇ) and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in private or public life must have his eyes fixed (kai hoti dei tautȇn idein ton mellonta emphronȏs praxein ȇ idiai ȇ dȇmosiai).’ – Glaucon: ‘I agree (Sunoiomai kai egȏ), as far as I am able to understand you (hon ge dȇ tropon dunamai).’ (517a8-c6, tr. Jowett)

The brightness of this vision of the Idea of the Good appears to have thrown Plato’s thought back to the last days of Socrates.

Socrates: ‘Moreover (Ithi toinun), you must agree once more (kai tode sunoiȇthȇti), and not wonder (kai mȇ thaumasȇis) that those who attain to this vision (hoti hoi entautha elthontes) are unwilling (ouk ethelousin) to take any part in human affairs (ta tȏn anthrȏpȏn prattein); for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world (all’ anȏ aei epeigontai autȏn hai psuchai) where they desire to dwell (diatribein); which desire of theirs is very natural (eikos gar pou houtȏs), if our allegory may be trusted (eiper au kata tȇn proeirȇmenȇn eikona tout’ echei).’ – Glaucon: ‘Yes, very natural (Eikos mentoi).’ – Socrates: ‘And is there anything surprising (Ti de; tode oiei ti thaumaston) in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man (ei apo theiȏn theȏriȏn epi ta anthrȏpeia tis elthȏn kaka), appearing grotesque (aschȇmonei) and ridiculous (te kai phainetai sphodra geloios); if, while his eyes are blinking (eti ambluȏttȏn) and before he has become accustomed (kai prin hikanȏs sunȇthȇs genesthai) to the surrounding darkness (tȏi paronti skotȏi), he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places (anankazomenos en dikastȇriois ȇ allothi pou agȏnizesthai), about the images or the shadows of images of justice (peri tȏn tou dikaiou skiȏn ȇ agalmatȏn hȏn hai skiai), and must strive (kai diamillasthai) against some rival about opinions of those things which are entertained by  men who have never yet seen the true justice (peri toutou, hopȇi pote hupolambanetai tauta hupo tȏn autȇn dikaiosunȇn mȇ pȏpote idontȏn)?’ – Glaucon: ‘Anything but surprising (Oud’ hopȏstioun thaumaston).’ (517c7-e2, tr. Jowett)

Adam in his ‘Commentary’ on the Republic remarked, as I noted on the margin of my text: ‘Plato is doubtless thinking of Socrates and his judges throughout the whole of this passage.’

Plato was still deeply steeped, in memory, in the days when he discussed philosophy with Socrates when he made him say the following: ‘But then (Dei dȇ), if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes (hȇmas toionde nomisai peri autȏn, ei taut’ alȇthȇ, tȇn paideian ouch hoian tines epangellomenoi phasin einai toiautȇn kai einai. Phasi de pou ouk enousȇs en tȇi psychȇi epistȇmȇs spheis entithenai, hoion tuphlois ophthalmois opsin entithentes).’ – Glaucon: ‘They undoubtedly say this (Phasi gar oun).’ – Socrates: ‘Whereas our argument (Ho de ge nun logos) shows (sȇmainei) that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already (tautȇn tȇn enousan hekastou dunamin en tȇi psuchȇi kai to organon hȏi katamanthanei hekastos); and that just as if it were not possible to turn the eyes from darkness to light without the whole body (hoion ei omma mȇ dunaton ȇn allȏs ȇ sun holȏi tȏi sȏmati strephein pros to phanon ek tou skotȏdous), so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming to that of being (houtȏ sun holȇi tȇi psuchȇi ek tou gignomenou periakteon einai), and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being (heȏs an eis to on kai tou ontos to phanotaton dunatȇ genȇtai anaschesthai theȏmenȇ), or in other words, of the good (touto d’ einai phamen t’agathon. ȇ gar;).’ – Glaucon: ‘Very true (Nai).’ (518b6-d1, tr. Jowett)

Jowett does not translate Plato’s hekastou ‘of everyone’ and hekastos ‘everyone’; is it because within the framework of the ideal State of the Republic it is unacceptable to think of everyone as having the power of knowing the Forms in his soul? only the few, those who have gold in their souls (415a), the philosophers, can become rulers; only they have in their soul the power to see the Forms.

Yet Plato, immersed as he was, in memory, in the days he was with Socrates, echoes in this passage the days of the Phaedrus, his first dialogue, in which he maintained that ‘no soul can enter human body that had not beheld the Truth [that is the Forms, J.T.]’ (ou gar hȇ ge mȇpote idousa tȇn alȇtheian eis tode hȇxei to schȇma, Phdr. 249b5-6) prior to its first incarnation, and of the Meno, where Socrates discusses a mathematic problem with Meno’s slave, with his questioning awakening the boy’s capacity of transcendental Recollection. (For the dating of the Phaedrus and the Meno see The Lost Plato on my website.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

7 ‘Being together’ in Plato’s Protagoras (with a glance at Homer’s Odyssey and Plato’s Cratylus)

In the Odyssey, the words ‘“And after him I recognized (Ton de met’ eisenoȇsa)” point back at Sisyphus; in Socrates’ narrative in the Protagoras these words point back to Protagoras and his entourage, the depiction of which has nothing to do with the underworld scene in the Odyssey: ‘When we came in (Epeidȇ de eisȇlthomen) we found Protagoras (katelabomen Prȏtagoran) walking in the colonnade (en tȏi prostȏiȏi peripatounta), and ranged on one side of him were (hexȇs d’ autȏi sumperiepatoun ek men tou epi thatera) Callias the son of Hipponicus (Kallias ho Hipponikou) and his half-brother (kai ho adelphos autou ho homomȇtrios) Paralus the son of Pericles (Paralos ho Perikleous) and Charmides the son of Glaucon (kai Charmides ho Glaukȏnos), and on the other (ek de tou epi thatera) Pericles’ other son Xanthippus (ho heteros tou Perikleous Xanthippos, 314e3-315a3) … Those who were following them (toutȏn de hoi opisthen ȇkolouthoun) listening (epakouontes) to the conversation (tȏn legomenȏn) seemed mostly to be foreigners (to men polu xenoi ephainonto) – Protagoras collects them from every city (hous agei ex hekastȏn tȏn poleȏn ho Prȏtagoras) he passes through (di’ hȏn diexerchetai), charming them (kȇlȏn) with his voice (tȇi phȏnȇi) like Orpheus (hȏsper Orpheus), and they (hoi de) follow the sound of his voice (kata tȇn phȏnȇn hepontai) quite spellbound (kekȇlȇmenoi, 315a5-b1, tr. C. C. W. Taylor). If Socrates on entering Callias’ house saw himself as stepping into the underworld, he must have had in mind a different view of Hades than the one offered by Homer.

After seeing Hippias, Socrates’ eyes fell on Prodicus, and to his mind came another quote from the Odyssey: ‘”And then I saw Tantalus too (Kai men dȇ kai Tantalon ge eiseidon)”, for Prodicus of Ceos was also in town (epedȇmei gar ara kai Prodikos ho Keios, 315c8-d1).’ J. Adam and A. M. Adam note that ‘Prodicus is compared to Tantalus because of his physical wretchedness: see Crat. 395 E kai atechnȏs eoiken hȏsper an ei tis boulomenos talantaton onomasai, apokruptomenos onomaseie kai eipoi ant’ ekeinou Tantalon [Jowett translates: ‘You might imagine that some person who wanted to call him talantatos (the most weighed down by misfortune) disguised the name by altering it into Tantalus’].’ (Platonis Protagoras, Cambridge at the University Press, 1971, p. 100, n. 1 on Ch. VII). And indeed, if we want to understand why Socrates at seeing Prodicus was reminded of Odysseus’ seeing Tantalus in the underworld, we must consult Socrates’ playful etymologizing in the Cratylus. And I have little doubt that if we are to understand Socrates’ view of Protagoras and his entourage as part of the underworld scene, we must take into account the underworld depicted in the Cratylus.

Socrates begins his etymological analysis of Hades by considering the two very different names given to him: ‘Pluto gives wealth, which comes out of the earth beneath (to de Ploutȏnos, touto men kata tȇn tou ploutou dosin, hoti ek tȇs gȇs katȏthen anietai ho ploutos, epȏnomasthȇ). People in general appear to imagine that the term Hades is connected with the invisible (ho de ‘Haidȇs,’ hoi polloi men moi dokousin hupolambanein to aїdes proseirȇsthai tȏi onomati toutȏi); and since they fear this name (kai phoboumenoi to onoma), they call the god Pluto instead (‘Ploutȏna’ kalousi auton).’ (Pl. Crat. 403a3-8, tr. B. Jowett)

Let me note that the view adopted by ‘people in general’ (hoi polloi) concerning Hades is the view derived from Homer (or in harmony with him, for it may go further back). Thus Circe tells Odysseus that before embarking on his journey home he must first ‘reach the house of Aїdȇs [the Invisible]’ (hikesthai eis Aїdao domous, Hom. Od. X. 490-491). With the view derived from the name of Haidȇs Socrates challenged the Homeric view.

‘Hermogenes: “And what is your own opinion (Soi de pȏs phainetai), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates)?” – Socrates: “I consider that men make various mistakes (Pollachȇi emoige dokousin anthrȏpoi diȇmartȇkenai) about the power of this deity (peri toutou tou theou tȇs dunameȏs), and fear him without good reason (kai phobeisthai auton ouk axion). For example, they are afraid because, when a man is dead, he will be for ever in that place (hoti te gar, epeidan hapax tis hȇmȏn apothanȇi, aei ekei estin, phobountai); and they are afraid because the soul denuded of the body passes to him (kai hoti hȇ psuchȇ gumnȇ tou sȏmatos par’ ekeinon aperchetai, kai touto pephobȇntai). (403b1-6, tr. Jowett)

When Circe told Odysseus that he and his comrades must go to the house of Hades, it broke his heart (autar emoi kateklasthȇ philon ȇtor); he sat in their bed (he slept with Circe) crying (klaion d’ en lecheessi kathȇmenos); ‘my heart did not want any more (oude nu moi kȇr ȇthel’ eti) to live and see the light of the sun (zȏein kai horan phaos ȇelioio, Od. X. 496-8). When Odysseus reached Hades, dug the ditch with his sword, filled it with the blood of the sacrificial victims: ‘the multitude [of the dead] roamed around the ditch (hoi polloi peri bothron ephoitȏn) from different sides (allothen allos) with tremendous clamour (thespesiȇi iachȇi); and pale fear seized me (eme de chlȏron deos hȇrei, Od. XI. 42-3)’.

I wonder whether Socrates did not share a bit of the fright that seized Odysseus in the realm of the dead – he speaks as Odysseus when he quotes him without naming him – as he was entering Callias’ house. His delight at observing the decorum of Protagoras’ admirers seems to have been a reaction to, and overcoming of, that initial fright: ‘I was absolutely delighted by this procession (touton ton choron malista egȏge idȏn hȇsthȇn), to see how careful they were (hȏs kalȏs ȇulabounto) that nobody ever got in Protagoras’ way (mȇdepote empodȏn en tȏi prosthen einai Prȏtagorou), but whenever he and his companions turned round (all’ epeidȇ autos anastrephoi kai hoi met’ ekeinou), those followers of his turned smartly outwards in formation to left and right (eu pȏs kai en kosmȏi perieschizonto houtoi hoi epȇkooi enthen kai enthen), wheeled round and so every time formed up in perfect order behind him (kai en kuklȏi periiontes aei eis to opisthen kathistanto kallista, 315b2-7, tr. C. C. W. Taylor).

Socrates and Protagoras met before. Protagoras says in his closing entry: ‘I’ve said to many people (pros pollous dȇ eirȇka) that of all those I’ve met (hoti hȏn entunchanȏ) I admire you far the best {polu malista agamai se), especially of those of your age (tȏn men tȇlikoutȏn kai panu). And I declare (kai legȏ ge) that I should not be surprised (hoti ouk an thaumazoimi) if you became famous (ei tȏn ellogimȏn genoio andrȏn) for your wisdom (epi sophiai, Protagoras 361e2-5).’ But when Socrates decided to go to Callias’ house to question Protagoras’ wisdom, and to do so in front of the other two great sophists and all their combined entourage, he was undertaking a completely new venture, compared only to his challenging Zeno and Parmenides in his early youth (For this see ‘Plato’s defence of Forms in the Parmenides’ on my website). That early encounter with Parmenides ended with Socrates’ being reduced to not-knowing. What gave Socrates the courage to challenge Protagoras as he did was the awareness of his not-knowing, in which he remained stuck ever since his encounter with Parmenides, and that in spite of his attempts to overcome it, of which his discussion with Protagoras is the best example.

Socrates’ remark in the Cratylus that ‘people are afraid because the soul denuded of the body passes to Hades’, pointed me to the following scene in the Odyssey. The phantom of Odysseus’ mother told her son that it was her longing for him that brought her to her death (alla me sos ge pothos … thumon apȇura, 202-3). Odysseus: ‘And so I wanted (autar egȏ g’ ethelon) to embrace the soul of my deceased mother (mȇtros emȇs psuchȇn heleein katatethnȇuȇs). Three times I strived (tris men ephormȇthȇn); my heart urged me to embrace her (heleein te me thumos anȏgei), three times from my hands (tris de moi ek cheirȏn) like a shadow (skiȇi ikelon) or a dream (ȇ kai oneirȏi) she flew (eptat’, Od. XI. 204-9).’

Back to the Cratylus. Socrates: ‘But my belief is that all is quite consistent, and that the office and the name of the god really correspond (ta d’ emoi dokei panta es t’auton ti sunteinein, kai hȇ archȇ tou theou kai to onoma).’ – Hermogenes: ‘Why, why is that (Pȏs dȇ)?’ – Socrates: ‘I will tell you (egȏ soi erȏ) my own opinion (ha ge moi phainetai); but first, I should like to ask you which chain does any animal feel to be the stronger? and which confines him more to the same spot, desire or necessity (eipe gar moi, desmos zȏiȏi hotȏioun hȏste menein hopououn, poteros ischuroteros estin, anankȇ ȇ epithumia)? – Hermogenes: ‘Desire, Socrates, is stronger far (Polu diapherei, ȏ Sȏkrates, hȇ epithumia).’ – Socrates: ‘And do you not think that many a one would escape from Hades (Oiei oun ton Haidȇn ouk an pollous ekpheugein), if he did not bind those who depart to him by the strongest of chains (ei mȇ tȏi ischurotatȏi desmȏi edei tous ekeise iontas) … And if by the strongest of chains, then by some desire (Epithumiai ara tini autous, hȏs eoike, dei, eiper tȏi megistȏi desmȏi dei) … And therefore by the greatest desire (Tȇi megistȇi ara epithumiai tȏn epithumiȏn dei autous), if the chain is to be the greatest (eiper mellei tȏi megistȏi desmȏi katechein) … And is there any desire stronger (Estin oun tis meizȏn epithumia) than the thought that you will be made better by associating with another (ȇ hotan tis tȏi sunȏn oiȇtai di’ ekeinon esesthai ameinȏn anȇr)?’ – Hermogenes: ‘Certainly not (Ma di’ oud hopȏstioun, ȏ Sȏkrates).’ (Pl. Crat. 403b7-d6, tr. Jowett)

Dramatically, Cratylus is the dialogue that took place the nearest to Socrates’ trial, imprisonment, and death, for it follows his discussion with Euthyphro (see Cratylus 396d4-8), which Euthyphro suggested as he hastened away at the end of the Euthyphro (15e3-4); the Euthyphro took place in front of the Office of the King where Socrates was summoned to face the charges of impiety and of corrupting the youth of Athens raised against him by Meletus.

As I read Socrates’ ‘And is there any desire stronger (Estin oun tis meizȏn epithumia) than the thought that you will be made better by associating with another (ȇ hotan tis tȏi sunȏn oiȇtai di’ ekeinon esesthai ameinȏn anȇr)?’ and Hermogenes’ ‘Certainly not (Ma di’ oud hopȏstioun, ȏ Sȏkrates),’ I cannot help thinking that Hermogenes with his desire to hear and learn everything Socrates had to say reminded the latter of Hippocrates who knocked at his door just before daybreak, all because he desired to better himself by ‘being with’ (sunȏn) Protagoras. And is it too far-fetched to think that Protagoras on that occasion appeared to Socrates as a caricature of Hades, just as Pericles appeared to the contemporary writers of comedy as a caricature of Zeus? (See Plutarch’s ‘Life of Pericles’, Ch. XIII. 4)

Socrates: ‘And is not that the reason, Hermogenes, why no one, who has been to him, is willing to come back to us (Dia tauta ara phȏmen, ȏ Hermogenes, oudena deuro ethelȇsai apelthein tȏn ekeithen)? Even the Sirens, like the rest of the world, have been laid under his spells (oude autas tas Seirȇnas, alla katakekȇlȇsthai ekeinas te kai tous allous pantas). Such a charm, as I imagine, is the God able to infuse into his words (houtȏ kalous tinas, hȏs eoiken, epistatai logous legein ho Haidȇs). And, according to this view, he is the perfect and accomplished sophist (kai estin, hȏs ek tou logou toutou, ho theos teleos sophistȇs te), and the great benefactor (kai megas euergetȇs) of the inhabitants of the other world (tȏn par autȏi); and even to us who are upon earth he sends from below exceeding blessings (hos ge kai tois enthade tosauta agatha aniȇsin). For he has much more than he wants down there (houtȏ polla autȏi ta perionta ekei estin); wherefore he is called Pluto (kai ton “Ploutȏna” apo toutou esche to onoma). Note also (kai to au), that he will have nothing to do with men while they are in the body (mȇ ethelein suneinai tois anthrȏpois echousi ta sȏmata), but only when the soul is liberated from the desires and evils of the body (alla tote sungignesthai, epeidan hȇ psuchȇ kathara ȇi pantȏn tȏn peri to sȏma kakȏn kai epithumiȏn). Do you not think that this marks him as a philosopher, who is well aware that in their liberated state he can bind them with the desire of virtue (ou philosophou dokei soi einai kai eu entethumȇmenou hoti houtȏ men an katechoi autous dȇsas tȇi peri aretȇn epithumiai), but while they are flustered and maddened by the body (echontas de tȇn tou sȏmatos ptoiȇsin kai manian), not even his father Cronos himself would suffice (oud’ an ho Kronos dunaito ho patȇr) to keep them with him (sunkatechein hautȏi) in his far-famed chains (en tois desmois dȇsas tois autou legomenois).’ (Pl.Crat. 403d7-404a6, tr. Jowett)

Note how freely Socrates combines references to the received mythology with his theological speculations derived from his etymologizing; in the Cratylus he derives the name of Cronus from to katharon kai akȇraton tou nou, that is from ‘the pure and undefiled intellect’ (396b6-7)

There is a noticeable divide in Socrates’ eulogy on Hades in the Cratylus:

Hades, who has made the inhabitants of his realm spell-bound (katakekȇlȇsthai) by charming them with his beautiful words, is ‘the perfect and accomplished sophist’ (kai estin ho theos teleos sophistȇs, Pl. Crat. 403d7-e7). After reproducing Protagoras’ oration in the Protagoras, Socrates remarked: ‘So Protagoras concluded this lengthy exhibition of his skill as a speaker (Prȏtagoras men tosauta kai toiauta epideixamenos apepausato tou logou). I stayed gazing at him, quite spellbound, for a long time (kai egȏ epi men polun chronon kekȇlȇmenos eti pros auton eblepon), thinking that he was going to say something more (hȏs erounta ti), and anxious to hear it (epithumȏn akouein).’ (328d3-6, tr. Taylor) – Note that in the introductory discussion about Hades in the Cratylus the concept of ‘desire’ (epithumia) plays a central role. The inhabitants of the underworld are bound by the desire to hear Hades’ beautiful words. (Taylor’s ‘anxious to hear’ for Plato’s epithumȏn akouein in the Protagoras obfuscates the connection between these two passages.)

Hades won’t ‘be with’ (suneinai) anybody while they are in the body, and will ‘come-to-be with’ (sungignesthai) only with souls purified of all bodily desires and evils; ‘this marks him as a philosopher (philosophou dokei einai, 404a2, tr. Jowett)’. Note Socrates’ words at 403b5-6: ‘the soul denuded of the body passes to him (hȇ psuchȇ gumnȇ tou sȏmatos par’ ekeinon aperchetai)’. Denuding the soul of his interlocutors was Socrates’ constant preoccupation (see ‘4 Socrates in Aristophanes, Plato and Xenophon’ posted on my blog on June 3, 2016).


Hermogenes: ‘There is a deal of truth in what you say (Kinduneueis ti legein, ȏ Sȏkrates).’ – Socrates: ‘Yes, Hermogenes, and the legislator called him Hades not from the unseen, – far otherwise, but from his knowledge of all noble things (Kai to onoma ho Haidȇs, ȏ Hermogenes, pollou dei apo tou aїdous epȏnomasthai, alla polu mallon apo tou panta ta kala eidenai, apo toutou hupo tou nomothetou “Haidȇs” eklȇthȇ).’ (Pl. Crat. 404a7-b4, tr. Jowett)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

6 ‘Being together’ in Plato’s Protagoras (with a glance at Homer's Odyssey and Plato's Greater Hippias)

As I have mentioned in my 3rd post devoted to the sunousia in Plato’s Protagoras, Aristides noted that ‘Plato presents the sophists as those who are punished in Hades’ (phainetai de Platȏn tous sophistas kata tous en Haidou kolazomenous titheis, Aristid. Vol. III. P. 483). In the light of his observation, let us reflect once again on Socrates’ words ‘“And after him I recognized (Ton de met’ eisenoȇsa)”, as Homer says (ephȇ Homȇros), Hippias of Elis (Hippian ton Êleion).’ Odysseus’ words ‘And after him I recognized’ point forward at the phantom of Heracles, and back at Sisyphus whom he saw just before: ‘And I saw Sisyphus (Kai mȇn Sisyphon eiseidon) suffering great pains (krater’ alge’ echonta, XI, 593); before Sisyphus he saw another great ancient sinner, Tantalus: ‘And I saw Tantalus (Kai mȇn Tantalon eiseidon) in grievous pains (chalep’ alge echonta, XI, 582)’; and before Tantalus he saw the third great sinner: ‘And I saw Tityus (Kai Tituon eidon), the son of the glorious Earth (Gaiȇs erikudeos huion), as he lay on the ground he covered nine acres (ho d’ ep’ ennea keito pelethra), two vultures (gupe), sitting on each side of him (de min hekaterthe parȇmenȏ), were devouring his liver (hȇpar ekeiron), penetrating into the intestines (dertron esȏ dunontes), but he did not defend himself with his hands (ho d’ ouk epamuneto chersi, XI, 576-579).’ Odysseus explains his sin: ‘For he tried to rape Leto (Lȇtȏ gar helkȇse), the illustrious consort of Zeus (Dios kudrȇn parakoitin, XI, 580).

What could have brought this scene from Homer to Socrates’ mind as he saw the scene in Callias’ house? He saw three sophists, the sinners noted by Odysseus in the Hades were three. This might have contributed to Socrates’ perceiving the parallel, but it cannot explain it.

Socrates was reminded of the three sinners in Hades as his eyes fell on Hippias of Elis. Can Plato’s Greater Hippias help us see the connection? In this dialogue Socrates subjects Hippias to biting irony, yet the witless sophist is incapable of perceiving it. Socrates: ‘It is Hippias, the beautiful and wise (Hippias ho kalos te kai sophos)! What a long while it is since (hȏs dia chronou) you came to anchor at Athens (hȇmin katȇras eis tas Athȇnas)!’ – Hippias: ‘I have had no time to spare (ou gar scholȇ) Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates). Elis (hȇ gar Êlis) looks on me as her best judge and reporter of anything said by other governments, and so I am always the first choice among her citizens to be her ambassador when she has business to settle (hotan ti deȇtai diapraxasthai pros tina tȏn poleȏn, aei epi prȏton eme erchetai tȏn politȏn hairoumenȇ presbeutȇn, hȇgoumenȇ dikastȇn kai angelon hikanȏtaton einai tȏn logȏn hoi an para tȏn poleȏn hekastȏn legȏntai).’ (281a1-b1) … Socrates: ‘Hippias, what a thing it is to be a complete man, as well as a wise one (Toiouton, mentoi, ȏ Hippia, esti to tȇi alȇtheiai sophon te kai teleion andra einai)! As a private person, your talents earn you a great deal of money from the young (su gar kai idiai hikanos ei para tȏn neȏn polla chrȇmata lambanȏn), and in return you confer on them even greater benefits (eti pleiȏ ȏphelein hȏn lambaneis); in public affairs, again (kai au dȇmosiai), you can do good work for your country (tȇn sautou polin hikanos euergetein), which is the way to avoid contempt (hȏsper chrȇ ton mellonta mȇ kataphronȇsesthai) and win popular esteem (all’ eudokimȇsein en tois pollois). Yet I wonder for what possible reason (atar, ȏ Hippia, ti pote to aition) the great figures of the past (hoti hoi palaioi ekeinoi) who are famous for their wisdom (hȏn onomata megala legetai epi sophiai) – Pittacus and Bias (Pittakou te kai Biantos) and the school of Thales of Miletus (kai tȏn amphi ton Milȇsion Thalȇn), and others nearer to our own time, down to Anaxagoras (kai eti tȏn husteron mechri Anaxagorou) – why all (hȏs ȇ pantes) or most of them (ȇ hoi polloi autȏn) clearly made a habit of taking no active part in politics (phainontai apechomenoi tȏn politikȏn praxeȏn)? – Hippias: ‘What reason do you suppose (Ti d’ oiei, ȏ Sȏkrates) except incapacity (allo ge ȇ adunatoi ȇsan), the lack of the power (kai ouch hikanoi) to carry their wisdom into both regions of life (exikneisthai phronȇsei ep’ amphotera), the public (ta te koina) and the private (kai ta idia)?’ – Socrates: ‘Then we should be right in saying that just as other arts have advanced until the craftsmen of the past compare ill with those of today (Ar’ oun pros Dios, hȏsper hai allai technai epidedȏkasi kai eisi para tous nun dȇmiourgous hoi palaioi phauloi), so your art, that of the sophist (houtȏ kai tȇn humeteran tȇn tȏn sophistȏn technȇn), has advanced until the old philosophers cannot stand comparison with you and your fellows (epidedȏkenai phȏmen kai einai tȏn archaiȏn tous peri tȇn sophian phaulous pros humas)?’ – Hippias: ‘Perfectly right (Panu men oun orthȏs legeis).’ (281b5-d8) … Socrates: ‘I can support with my own testimony your statement (summarturȇsai de soi echȏ hoti alȇthȇ legeis) that your art really has made progress (kai tȏi onti humȏn epidedȏken hȇ technȇ) towards (pros to) combining public business with private pursuits (kai ta dȇmosia prattein dunasthai meta tȏn idiȏn). The eminent Gorgias (Gorgias te gar houtos), the sophist of Leontini (ho Leontinos sophistȇs), came here from his home on an official mission (deuro aphiketo dȇmosiai oikothen presbeuȏn), selected because he was the ablest man of his city (hȏs hikanȏtatos ȏn Leontinȏn ta koina prattein). By general consent he spoke most eloquently before the Assembly (kai en te tȏi dȇmȏi edoxen arista eipein), and in his private capacity (kai idiai), by giving demonstrations (epideixeis poioumenos) to the young and associating with them (kai sunȏn tois neois), he earned and took away with him a large sum of Athenian money (chrȇmata polla ȇrgasato kai elaben ek tȇsde tȇs poleȏs). Or again (ei de boulei), there is our distinguished friend Prodicus (ho hȇmeteros hetairos Prodikos). He has often been at Athens on public business from Ceos; the last time he came on such a mission, quite lately (houtos pollakis men kai allote dȇmosiai aphiketo, atar ta teleutaia enanchos aphikomenos dȇmosiai ek Keȏ), he was much admired for his eloquence before the Council (legȏn t’ en tȇi boulȇi panu ȇudokimȇsen), and also as a private person (kai idiai) he made an astonishing amount of money by giving demonstrations to the young and admitting them to his society (epideixeis poioumenos kai tois neois sunȏn chrȇmata elaben thaumasta hosa). None of those great men of the past (tȏn de palaiȏn ekeinȏn oudeis) ever saw fit to charge money for his wisdom (pȏpote ȇxiȏsen argurion misthon praxasthai), or to give demonstrations of it to miscellaneous audiences (oud’ epideixeis poiȇsasthai en pantodapois anthrȏpois tȇs heautou sophias); they were too simple (houtȏs ȇsan euȇtheis) ever to realise the enormous importance of money (kai elelȇthei autous argurion hȏs pollou axion eiȇ). Either of the two I have mentioned (toutȏn d’ hekateros) has earned more from his wisdom (pleon argurion apo sophias eirgastai) than any other craftsman (ȇ allos dȇmiourgos) from his art, whatever it may have been (aph’ hȇstinos technȇs); and so did Protagoras before them (kai eti proteros toutȏn Prȏtagoras).’ – Hippias: ‘Socrates, you know nothing of the real charms of all this business (Ouden gar, ȏ Sȏkrates, oistha tȏn kalȏn peri touto). If you were told (ei gar eideiȇs) how much I have earned (hoson argurion eirgasmai egȏ), you would be astounded (thaumasais an).’ (282b2-d7, tr. B. Jowett)


The Greater Hippias reads as if written to explain why Socrates was reminded of Odysseus in the realm of the dead when he saw Hippias in Callias’ house. The Greater Hippias, in its turn, may be best appreciated if we read it in the light of what Socrates said to the young Hippocrates after the latter had told him that he wanted to be taught wisdom by Protagoras: ‘Do you realize (Oistha), then (oun), what you are going to do (ho melleis nun prattein) … that you are going to entrust your soul to the care of a man (hoti melleis tȇn psuchȇn sautou paraschein therapeusai andri) who is, as you agree, a sophist (hȏs phȇis, sophistȇi)? … do you realize (oistha) in what danger you are going to expose your soul (eis hoion tina kindunon erchȇi hupothȇsȏn tȇn psuchȇn) … the soul (tȇn psuchȇn), on which everything in your life depends: your doing well if it becomes good and badly if it becomes bad (kai en hȏi pant’ estin ta sa ȇ eu ȇ kakȏs prattein, chrȇstou ȇ ponȇrou autou genomenou) … you have to put down the price (anankaion katathenta tȇn timȇn), and taking the learning into your soul (to mathȇma en autȇi tȇi psuchȇi labonta), and learning it (kai mathonta), to go away harmed or benefited (apienai ȇ beblammenon ȇ ȏphelȇmenon). (312b7-314b4)