Friday, October 08, 2021



Plato, Gorgias 486a-d (Callicles speaking; tr. Walter Hamilton, rev. Chris Emlyn-Jones):
Do not be offended, Socrates — I am speaking out of the kindness of my heart to you — aren't you ashamed to be in this plight, which I believe you to share with all those who plunge deeper and deeper into philosophy?

As things are now, if anyone were to arrest you or one of your sort and drag you off to prison on a charge of which you were innocent, you would be quite helpless — you can be sure of that; you would be in a daze and gape and have nothing to say, and when you got into court, however unprincipled a rascal the prosecutor might be, you would be condemned to death, if he chose to ask for the death penalty.

But what kind of wisdom can we call it, Socrates, this art that 'takes a man of talent and spoils his gifts', so that he cannot defend himself or another from mortal danger, but lets his enemies rob him of all his goods, and lives to all intents and purposes the life of an outlaw in his own city? A man like that, if you will pardon a rather blunt expression, can be slapped on the face with complete impunity.

Take my advice then, my good friend; 'abandon argument, practise the accomplishments of active life', which will give you the reputation of a prudent man. 'Leave others to split hairs' of what I don't know whether to call folly or nonsense; 'their only outcome is that you will inhabit a barren house.' Take for your models not the men who spend their time on these petty quibbles, but those who have a livelihood and reputation and many other good things.

καίτοι, ὦ φίλε Σώκρατες — καί μοι μηδὲν ἀχθεσθῇς· εὐνοίᾳ γὰρ ἐρῶ τῇ σῇ — οὐκ αἰσχρὸν δοκεῖ σοι εἶναι οὕτως ἔχειν ὡς ἐγὼ σὲ οἶμαι ἔχειν καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους τοὺς πόρρω ἀεὶ φιλοσοφίας ἐλαύνοντας;

νῦν γὰρ εἴ τις σοῦ λαβόμενος ἢ ἄλλου ὁτουοῦν τῶν τοιούτων εἰς τὸ δεσμωτήριον ἀπάγοι, φάσκων ἀδικεῖν μηδὲν ἀδικοῦντα, οἶσθ᾽ ὅτι οὐκ ἂν ἔχοις ὅτι χρήσαιο σαυτῷ, ἀλλ᾽ ἰλιγγιῴης ἂν καὶ χασμῷο οὐκ ἔχων ὅτι εἴποις, καὶ εἰς τὸ δικαστήριον ἀναβάς, κατηγόρου τυχὼν πάνυ φαύλου καὶ μοχθηροῦ, ἀποθάνοις ἄν, εἰ βούλοιτο θανάτου σοι τιμᾶσθαι.

καίτοι πῶς σοφὸν τοῦτό ἐστιν, ὦ Σώκρατες, “ἥτις εὐφυῆ λαβοῦσα τέχνη φῶτα ἔθηκε χείρονα”, μήτε αὐτὸν αὑτῷ δυνάμενον βοηθεῖν μηδ᾽ ἐκσῶσαι ἐκ τῶν μεγίστων κινδύνων μήτε ἑαυτὸν μήτε ἄλλον μηδένα, ὑπὸ δὲ τῶν ἐχθρῶν περισυλᾶσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οὐσίαν, ἀτεχνῶς δὲ ἄτιμον ζῆν ἐν τῇ πόλει; τὸν δὲ τοιοῦτον, εἴ τι καὶ ἀγροικότερον εἰρῆσθαι, ἔξεστιν ἐπὶ κόρρης τύπτοντα μὴ διδόναι δίκην.

ἀλλ᾽ ὠγαθέ, ἐμοὶ πείθου, “παῦσαι δὲ ἐλέγχων, πραγμάτων δ᾽ εὐμουσίαν ἄσκει”, καὶ ἄσκει ὁπόθεν δόξεις φρονεῖν, “ἄλλοις τὰ κομψὰ ταῦτα ἀφείς”, εἴτε ληρήματα χρὴ φάναι εἶναι εἴτε φλυαρίας, “ἐξ ὧν κενοῖσιν ἐγκατοικήσεις δόμοις”· ζηλῶν οὐκ ἐλέγχοντας ἄνδρας τὰ μικρὰ ταῦτα, ἀλλ᾽ οἷς ἔστιν καὶ βίος καὶ δόξα καὶ ἄλλα πολλὰ ἀγαθά.
The quotations/paraphrases are from Euripides' Antiope, here in the translation of Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp.

Fragment 186:
And how is this wise—an art that takes a naturally robust man and makes him inferior?

καὶ πῶς σοφὸν τοῦτ᾿ ἐστίν, ἥτις εὐφυᾶ
λαβοῦσα τέχνη φῶτ᾿ ἔθηκε χείρονα;
Fragment 188:
No, let me persuade you! Cease this idle folly, and practise the fine music of hard work! Make this your song, and you will seem sensible, digging, ploughing the land, watching over flocks, leaving to others these pretty arts of yours which will have you keeping house in a bare home.

                                         ἀλλ᾿ ἐμοὶ πιθοῦ·
παῦσαι ματᾴζων καὶ πόνων εὐμουσίαν
ἄσκει· τοιαῦτ᾿ ἄειδε καὶ δόξεις φρονεῖν,
σκάπτων, ἀρῶν γῆν, ποιμνίοις ἐπιστατῶν,
ἄλλοις τὰ κομψὰ ταῦτ᾿ ἀφεὶς σοφίσματα,
ἐξ ὧν κενοῖσιν ἐγκατοικήσεις δόμοις.

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