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Protagoras (by him it will rather be confessed, for when he grants to a gainsayer that the latter thinks what is true, then does Protagoras himself confess), that no dog or man he meets with is a measure concerning anything which he has not learnt. Is it not so?
So. Since this is the contention of all, to nobody will the Truth of Protagoras be true, neither to himself nor to anyone else.
We run down my friend very hard, Socrates.
So. But it is doubtful, my friend, if we are outrunning the fact. It is likely that he being older is wiser than we : and if he could at once pop up his head where we are, he would not sink down and run away again, until, probably, he had convicted me of talking much nonsense, and you of agreeing to it. As it is, we must needs, I think, make the best of ourselves, such as we are, and state our real opinions for the time being. And must we not now say that everybody will confess this-that one man is wiser, one more ignorant, than another?
Theo. Yes, I think so.
[If we admit, Socrates goes on, that each may judge for himself with equal 23 truth as to some sensible things, as 'hot' and 'cold; this is not universally applicable. For instance, all do not know with equal truth what is wholesome' for them. Again, if we admit that states and persons may judge with equal truth of 'right' and 'wrong,' 'holy' and 'unholy,' they certainly cannot equally well decide what is and will be 'expedient' and 'inexpedient' for them. But, he adds, this opens new questions. Well, says Theodorus, have we not leisure for them? Yes, replies Socrates, we have; and this is the reason why philosophers make such a poor figure in the law-courts. Their habits are those of freemen; those of lawyers are in a manner slavish. Then follows the Socratic picture of an Athenian lawyer's habits and character.
He asks if Theodorus wishes to hear its contrast in the habits and character of the true philosopher. Theodorus is very desirous to hear this.]
So. Must we not also say that our argument is most stably conducted on the lines we prescribed in our defence of Protagoras, averring that most things are as they seem to each, hot, dry, sweet, all such-like'? but that, if he will grant that one excels another in anything, he will be ready to say so in judgments upon health and disease: not every woman or child or beast, he will admit, knows what is wholesome in its own case, and is competent to cure itself: here, if anywhere, one excels another.
Theo. I think so.
So. In politics, too, will he not say, that of things honourable and dishonourable, just and unjust, holy and unholy, whatsoever each state shall deem and enact to be lawful for itself are also lawful in truth for each, and that in these no individual or state is wiser than another? but in enacting things expedient or inexpedient, here, if anywhere, he will confess that counsellor differs from counsellor and the opinion of one city from that of another in respect of truth, and he will certainly not venture to affirm, that whatever a state shall deem and enact to be expedient for itself will most assuredly be expedient. But of the former things I named, justice and injustice, holiness and unholiness, they (the Protagoreans) are ready to insist that none has any essential nature, but that whatever has seemed good by public consent is true when it has seemed good, and as long as it seems good. And those who do not altogether echo
1 Such-like, oа Tоû TÚTOV TOÚTov, lit. all that are of this type, i.e. (as Prof. Jowett says) 'immediate sensations.'
2 In the first two speeches (§ 23) assigned to Socrates the subjects who express or allow opinions are very indistinctly stated. The reason
the doctrine of Protagoras, take some such philosophic view. But now, Theodorus, we have question growing out of question, greater out of less.
Theo. Are we not at leisure, Socrates?
So. We appear to be. On many occasions, my good sir, I have noticed, but especially on this, how natural it is for those who have spent much time on philosophy, when they go into the law-courts, to shew themselves absurd
Theo. How do you mean?
So. People who from their youth have been knocking about in law-courts and such-like scenes, as compared with those who have been reared in philosophic and literary society, seem to have had a breeding like that of slaves compared with freemen.
Theo. In what respects?
So. In that (referring to your last observation) philosophers have leisure at all times, and hold their discussions peacefully and with leisurely ease, and as we have now been
of this seems to be, that he is referring throughout to what was said in his defence of Protagoras made in the name of Protagoras (§ 20). The oratio obliqua with which the first speech begins is dependent (as the translation indicates) on the λo ti pŵμev (must we not say?) at the close of the previous speech in $ 22. Οἱ ξυγχωρήσεται and ἐθελῆσαι ἂν φάναι, according to Heindorf and Stallbaum, τις τινὰ understood are severally the subjects. I am rather disposed to understand IIpwraɣópas and IIρwrayóρav, as Protagoras had been mentioned just before, and his confession would be appropriate here. For the same reasons I suppose him to be the subject on whose statement or admission the oratio obliqua depends in the first paragraph of the second speech (okoÛV K.T..), after which oμoλoynσe comes, where Protagoras is the natural subject. In the next sentence, where he recurs to rà кalà K.T.λ., Plato uses the plural ἐθέλουσιν ἰσχυρίζεσθαι. We cannot doubt that he speaks of the scholars of Protagoras, who still profess their master's doctrine on the question specified.
pursuing three arguments in succession, so do they also, if one which follows pleases them better than the preceding; nor do they care whether they speak briefly or at length, if only they can attain truth. The other class always speak in haste; for the flow of water3 quickens them, and they are not allowed to make their speeches on anything they desire; and the opponent stands over them holding compulsion in the shape of a prescribing document read in the ear, beyond the limits of which they must not speak, yclept an affidavit*: and the arguments are always about a fellow-slave addressed to a master on the bench, who holds justice between his finger and thumb; and the contests are never away from the point, but to the point of self-interest; and often too the race is for life. So that on all these grounds they become keen and shrewd, knowing how to wheedle the master by word and gratify him by deed, being stunted and crooked in soul. For their slavery from childhood has robbed them of growth and uprightness and freedom, compelling them to act tortuously, setting before their yet tender souls great perils and fears. And as they cannot bear up against these with the help of justice and truth, they have recourse at once to falsehood and mutual injury, and twist themselves in many ways, and become warped; and so they pass from youth to manhood without any mental soundness, becoming, as they imagine,
3 Flow of water. The kλeyúdpa or water-clock, used to measure the time allowed to each orator, and placed within his view.
4 Affidavit, ȧvтwμoola, literally counter-affidavit. The pleas of each party in a cause were affirmed by their several oaths: and by these affirmations they or their advocates would be bound, and could not stray from them.
5 Away from the point, τǹv ä^^ws (ódóv), a proverbial phrase. Such also is περὶ ψυχῆς ὁ δρόμος.
clever and wise. Such is this class of men, Theodorus. Would you wish us now to describe those of our circle, or to pass them by and return to our argument, that we may not, as we just now said, abuse too far our freedom in the change of topics?
Theo. Not so, Socrates; finish the description. For you have said with great truth that we who form a circle like this are not servants of our discussions: our discussions are, as it were, our servants, and each of them waits to be completed when we think fit. For amongst us there is no presiding authority; neither dicast to rule, nor spectator, as in the case of poets, to censure.
[The habits and character of the true philosopher are depicted in this and 24 the succeeding chapter.]
So. We must speak then, seemingly, since you think proper, concerning the leaders of such a circle; for why need one mention the inferior students of philosophy? This class from their youth, in the first place, do not know the way to the agora, nor where a law-court is or a councilhall or any other political meeting-room: laws and decrees spoken or written they neither see nor hear. Societies agitating for office and clubs and dinners and wine-bouts with flute-girls-these are practices which even in dreams. do not occur to them. Whether any one in the city is well or ill born, whether a person has inherited any disgrace from ancestors on the male or female side, he knows no more than he does of the proverbial 'gallons in the sea.' He does not even know that he is ignorant of all these things; for it is not for credit's sake that he stands aloof from them, but in point of fact it is only his body that reposes and resides in the city, while his mind, deeming