Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Meno 15

Socrates: Then you do not think the sophists are teachers of virtue (Ou0d a1ra soi\ dokou=sin oi9 sofistai\ dida/skaloi ei]nai;)?

Meno: I cannot say, Socrates. I am in the same plight as the rest of the world: sometimes I think that they are, sometimes that they are not (Ou0k e1xw le/gein, w} Sw&kratej, kai\ ga\r au0to\j o3per oi9 polloi\ pe/ponqa, tote\ me/n moi dokou=si, tote\ de\ ou1).

Socrates: And are you aware (Oi]sqa de/) that not only you (o3ti ou0 mo/non soi/ te) and other political folk (kai\ a1lloij toi=j politikoi=j) are in two minds as to whether virtue is to be taught (tou=to dokei= tote\ me\n ei]nai didakto/n, to/te d ou1), but Theognis the poet also says, you remember, the very same thing (a0lla\ kai\ Qe/ognin to\n poihth\n oi]sq o3ti tau0ta\ tau=ta le/gei;)?

Meno: In which part of his poems (E0n poi/oij e1pesin;)?

Socrates: In those elegiac lines where he says (E0n toi=j e0legei/oij, ou[ le/gei)–

“Eat and drink with these men; sit with them, and be pleasing unto them, who wield great power; for from the good wilt thou win thee lessons in the good; but mingle with the bad, and thou wilt lose even the sense that thou hast.”

kai\ para\ toi=sin pi=ne kai\ e1sqie, kai\ meta\ toi=sin

i3ze, kai\ a3ndane toi=j, w{n mega/lh du/namij.

e0sqlw~n me\n ga\r a1p e1sqla dida/ceai ׄ h2n de\ kakoi=sin

summi/sgh|j, a0polei=j kai\ to\n e0o/nta no/on.

oi]sqo1ti e0n tou/toij me\n w(j didaktou= ou1shj th=j a9reth=j le/gei;

Meno: He does, evidently (Fai/netai/ ge).

Socrates: But in some other lines he shifts his ground a little, saying –

“Could understanding be created and put into a man”

{I think it runs thus} “many high rewards would they obtain” {that is, the men who were able to do such a thing}: and again –

“Never would a bad son have sprung from a good father,

for he would have followed the precepts of wisdom: but not

by teaching wilt thou ever make the bad man good.”

You notice how in the second passage he contradicts himself on the same point?

E0n a1lloij de/ ge oli/gon metaba/j,

Ei0 d h]n poihto/n, fhsi/, kai\ e1nqeton a0ndri\ no/hma,

le/gei pwj o3ti

pollou\j a2n misqou\j kai\ mega/louj e1feron

oi9 duna/menoi tou=to poiei=n, kai\

ou1 pot a2n e0c a0gaqou= patro\j e1gento kako/j,

peiqo/menoj mu/qoisi sao/frosin. a0lla\ dida/skwn                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ou1 pote poih/seij to\n kako\n a1ndr a0gaqo/n.

e0nnoei=j o3ti au0to\j au9tw~| peri\ tw~n au0tw~n ta0nanti/a le/gei;

Meno: Apparently (Fai/netai).

Socrates: Well, can you name any other subject (E!xeij ou]n ei0pei=n a1llou o9touou=n pra/gmatoj) in which the professing teachers (ou3 oi9 me\n fa/skontej dida/skaloi ei]nai) are not only refused recognition as teachers of others (ou0x o3pwj a1llwn dida/skaloi o9mologou=ntai), but regarded as not understanding it themselves (a0ll ou0de\ au0toi\ e0pi/stasqai), and indeed as inferior in the very quality of which they claim to be teachers (a0lla\ ponhroi\ ei]nai peri\ au0to\ tou=to to\ pra=gma ou[ fasi\ dida/skaloi ei]nai); while those who are themselves recognised as men of worth and honour (oi9 de\ o9mologou/menoi  au0toi\ kaloi\ ka0gaqoi/) say at one time that it is teachable (tote\ me/n fasin au0to\ didakto\n ei]nai), and at another that it is not (to/te de\ ou1;)? When people are so confused about this or that matter (tou\j ou]n ou3tw tetaragme/nouj peri\ o9touou=n), can you say they are teachers in any proper sense of the word (fai/hj a2n su\ kuri/wj didaska/louj ei]nai;)?

Meno: No, indeed, I cannot (Ma\ Di/ ou0k e1gwge).

Socrates: Well (Ou0kou=n), if neither the sophists (ei0 mh/te oi9 sofistai/) nor the men who are themselves good and honourable (mh/te oi9 au0toi\ kaloi\ ka0gaqoi\ o1ntej) are teachers of the subject (dida/skaloi/ ei0si tou= pra/gmatoj), clearly no others can be (dh=lon o3ti ou0k a2n a1lloi ge;)?

Meno: I agree (Ou1 moi dokei=).

Socrates: And if there are no teachers (Ei0 de/ ge mh\ dida/skaloi), there can be no disciples either (ou0de\ maqhtai/;)?

Meno: I think that statement is true (Dokei= moi e1xein w(j le/geij).

Socrates: And we have admitted (W(mologh/kamen de/ ge) that a thing of which there are neither teachers nor disciples (pra/gmatoj ou[ mh/te dida/skaloi mh/te maqhtai\ ei]en) cannot be taught (tou=to mhde\ didakto\n ei]nai)?

Meno: We have (W(mologh/kamen).

Socrates: So nowhere are any teachers of virtue to be found (Ou0kou=n a1reth=j ou0damou= fai/nontai dida/skaloi;)?

Meno: That is so (E!sti tau=ta).

Socrates: And if no teachers (Ei0 de/ ge mh\ dida/skaloi), then no disciples (ou0de\ maqhtai/;)?

Meno: So it appears (Fai/netai ou3tw).

Socrates: Hence virtue cannot be taught (A0reth\ a1ra ou0k a2n ei1h didakto/n;)?

Meno: It seems likely (Ou0k e1oiken), if our investigation is correct (ei1per o0rqw~j h9mei=j e0ske/mmeqa). And that makes me wonder, I must say (w#ste kai\ qauma/zw dh/), Socrates (w} Sw&kratej), whether perhaps there are no good men at all (po/tero/n pote ou0d ei0si\n a0gaqoi\ a1ndrej), or by what possible sort of process good people can come to exist (h2 ti/j a2n ei1h tro/poj th=j gene/sewj tw~n a0gaqw~n genome/nwn;)?

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Meno 14

Socrates: Meno (w{ Me/nwn) … Now you must answer me (su\ de/ moi ei0pe/): are there not good and honourable men among your people also (ou0 kai\ par u9mi=n ei0si\ kaloi\ ka0gaqoi\ a1ndrej;)?

Meno: Certainly (Pa/nu ge).

Socrates: Well then (Ti/ ou]n;), are they willing to put themselves forward as teachers of the young (e0qe/lousin ou[toi pare/xein au9tou\j didaska/louj toi=j ne/oij), and avow that they are teachers (kai\ o9mologei=n dida/skaloi/ te ei]nai) and that virtue is to be taught (kai\ didakto\n a0reth/n;)?

Meno: No, no, Socrates, I assure you (Ou0 ma\ to\n Di/a, w} Sw&kratej): sometimes you may hear them refer to it as teachable (a0lla\ tote\ me\n a2n au0tw~n a0kou/saij w(j didakto/n), but sometimes as not (tote\ de\ w(j ou1).

Socrates: Then are we to call those persons teachers of this thing (Fw~men ou]n tou/touj didaska/louj ei]nai tou/tou tou= pra/gmatoj), when they do not even agree on that great question (oi[j mhde\ au0to\ tou=to o9mologei=tai;)?

Meno: I should say not, Socrates (Ou1 moi dokei=, w} Sw&kratej).

Socrates: Well, and what of the sophists (Ti/ de\ dh/; oi0 sofistai/ soi ou3toi)? Do you consider these, its only professors, to be teachers of virtue (oi[per mo/noi e0pagge/llontai, dokou=si dida/skaloi ei]nai a0reth=j;)?

Meno: That is a point, Socrates, for which I admire Gorgias (Kai\ Gorgi/ou ma/lista, w} Sw&kratej, tau=ta a1gamai): you will never hear him promising this (o3ti ou0k a1n pote au0tou= tou=to a0kou=saij u9pisxnoume/nou), and he ridicules the others (a0lla\ kai\ tw~n a1llwn katagela=|) when he hears them promising it (o3tan a0kou/sh| u9pisxnoune/nwn). Skill in speaking is what he takes it to be their business to produce (a0lla\ le/gein oi1etai dei=n poiei=n a0gaqou/j).


Concerning Gorgias, Meno appears to have travelled a long journey, having entered the dialogue an enthusiastic follower of Gorgias; see e.g. Socrates’ remark at 73c: ‘Seeing then that it is the same virtue in all cases, try and tell me, if you can recollect, what Gorgias – and you in agreement with him – say it is.’

Sunday, February 18, 2024


As can be seen, I have tried to put on my blog an exchange of emails between me and Dan Clifton. My attempt has come up with the result, which is worthwhile to look at and register: For the record. I shall try again tomorrow.

 Dear Julius

I am a documentary filmmaker here in the UK, scoping out a documentary project about the underground seminars held in Prague in the 80s.  I would love to have a chat with you about it at some point when you are free.

Kind regards

Dan Clifton

I replied:

Julius Tomin

8 Feb 2024, 13:03 (10 days ago)
to Dan
Dear Dan Clifton,
Best for me are late afternoons. But let me have a suggestion. In my philosophy seminar in Prague Plato played an important role. In May 1978 I invited Oxford Dons to my seminar. In 1979 Dr Wilkes opened Oxford visits to my seminar. It soon became clear that our approach to the Ancient Greeks, and Plato in particular, differed. Since my arrival to Oxford, in late August 1980 I've been trying to obtain a possibility to present my views on Plato to students and academics, in vain. Try to get in touch with Oxford classicists and/or classical philosophers on this matter. You might be lucky. What follows is my latest attempt to get the discussion going:

'Dear Professor Alan,

Some thirteen years ago I went for a walk with my son. I began to talk about Plato’s Phaedrus. My son stopped me: ‘Dad, I shall accept that you are right, when Google says so.’ A few months ago, I googled Julius Tomin, and to my great surprise, there was an information about my article ‘Plato’s First Dialogue’, published in Ancient Philosophy 17 (1997). Elated, I emailed it to my son. In his reply my son wrote to me that there was also a reference to my article ‘The Phaedrus and the Charmides: Plato in Athens 405-404’, published in History of Political Thought, Summer 2022.

A few days ago, when I googled Julius Tomin, instead of information on my work on Plato, I saw countless permutations on the name Tomin. I wanted to inform you: If I cannot figure on Google as someone working on the Greeks, and on Plato in particular, I shall go again to Oxford to protest at Balliol with my ‘LET US DISCUSS PLATO’.

But now, as I began to write to you, it occurred to me to Google Julius Tomin again. To my great surprise, there was quite a lot of information about my work, and among other things, there was a photo of me protesting at Balliol with ‘LET US DISCUSS PLATO’. I won’t have to go to Oxford to protest at Balliol.

Well, I can’t deny that there is a side in my character that makes me regret this victory of good sense. In Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk and His Fortunes in the World War there is an episode in which Švejk’s housekeeper is driving Švejk to the War Office on a trolly, with crutches, shouting ‘na Bělehrad‘ (on Beograd). After I looked at that expurgated Julius Tomin entry on Google, I toyed with an idea of arriving at Balliol on a trolly, with crutches: ‘LET US DISCUSS PLATO’.

It would be great if my e-mail to you resulted in my being invited to Balliol, just as I invited Oxford dons to my seminar in Prague in the late 1970’s. Let me quote from The Velvet Philosophers: Dr Wilkes, from St. Hilda’s College, reflected on her first seminar, which ‘started at the usual time of 6.00 p.m., it lasted until midnight. Wilkes subsequently observed that “… the discussions were the most stimulating that I have experienced”.’ I should like to experience something like that at Oxford. With you in Chair, it might become a reality. What entitles me to saying this? I spent some three months with your Helen of Euripides, to my great benefit.

Professor Alan, allow me to turn to you with the request: Let me be allowed to present at Oxford University, preferably at Balliol, my views on Plato’s Phaedrus.

With best wishes,

Julius Tomin'

I have not received any reply from Professor Alan. Please, try to contact him. It would be nice to meet in Oxford, and to enjoy a belated revival of my Prague meetings and discussions with Oxford dons. 
With best wishes,
Julius Tomin
Dan Clifton replied:

Dan Clifton

8 Feb 2024, 13:42 (10 days ago)
to me
Dear Julius

It’s great to hear from you!  You’ve been quite tricky to track down so I’m delighted that we’re now in touch.

This is a nice cheeky idea.   In the first instance I’d love to talk to you about your establishment of the Prague seminars - after all, you were the driving force behind that historic endeavour.

You didn’t leave a contact number but I was wondering where you are now based - perhaps I could buy you lunch some time?

With all good wishes

Dan Clifton

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Meno 13

Meno 12 ended with Anytus’ advice to Socrates: Socrates, I consider you are too apt to speak ill of people. I, for one, if you will take my advice, would warn you to be careful: in most cities it is probably easier to do people harm than good, and particularly in this one; I think you know that yourself.

I shall devote Meno 13 to Socrates’ response to Anytus’ advice, and to Lamb’s note on it, which represents what those Platonic scholars would have thought about it, who gave it a thought.

Socrates: Meno, (W} Me/nwn) I think Anytus is angry (A1nutoj me/n moi dokei= xalepai/nein), and I am not at all surprised (kai\ ou0de\n qauma/zw): for he conceives, in the first place, that I am speaking ill of these gentlemen (oi1etai ga/r me prw~ton me\n kakhgorei=n tou/touj tou\j a1ndraj): and in the second place (e1peita), he considers he is one of them himself (h9gei=tai kai\ au0to\j ei]nai ei[j tou/twn). Yet, should the day come when he knows what “speaking ill” means (a0ll ou[toj me\n e0a/n pote gnw~|, oi[o/n e0sti to\ kakw~j le/gein), his anger will cease (pau/setai xalepai/nwn); at present he does not know (nu=n de\ a0gnoei=). (95a2-6)

W.R.M. Lamb, the translator, notes: ‘This is probably not a reference to a prosecution of Anytus himself, but a suggestion that what he needs is a Socratic discussion on “speaking ill,” for “ill” may mean “maliciously,” “untruthfully,” “ignorantly,” etc.’

Dating the Meno after Socrates’ death, the Platonic scholars could not but misrepresent the dialogue. For the whole of Plato’s Apology (APOLOGIA SWKRATOUS: Socrates’ defence) can be seen as Socrates’ discussion of “speaking ill”, with a focus on Anytus and those around him (oi9 a0mfi\ A1nuton, 18b3). But there was no point in trying to explain to Anytus and those around him what “speaking ill” meant. They did speak ill of Socrates, and they did it “maliciously” and “untruthfully.” But since “speaking ill” was a big problem, generally, and in the accusation of Socrates in particular, Socrates devoted to the problem a lot of time in his Defence, beginning with his opening sentence:

“How you, men of Athens, have been affected by my accusers (O! ti me\n u9mei=j, w} a1ndrej A0qhnai/oi, pepo/nqate u9po\ tw~n e0mw~n kathgo/rwn), I do not know (ou0k oi]da): but I, for my part, almost forgot my own identity (e0gw_ d ou]n kai\ au0to\j u9p au0tw~n o0li/gou e0mautou= e0pelaqo/mhn), so persuasively did they talk (ou3tw piqanw~j e1legon); and yet there is hardly a word of truth in what they have said (kai/toi a0lhqe/j ge, w(j e1poj ei0pei=n, ou0de\n ei0rh/kasin).


Lamb’s “ignorantly” deserves special attention. One might, of course, maintain that they misunderstood Socrates; but who didn’t. When I say “ignorantly”, I mean that they had a completely false idea of how it will all end. And for that they can be hardly blamed, for there are reasons to believe that at that time Socrates himself did not know. Or to be more precise, at the time Socrates made his Defence speech, he was ready to die for what he was saying to the Athenian people. It was the month that followed his death sentence that Socrates ceased to be sure, the month his friends did their best to get Socrates out of prison, out of Athens, to save him, as we know from the Crito: Socrates did not stop his friends from making all those preparations for his escape, which were fraught with danger.

But let me quote Crito: ‘But, my dear Socrates, even now listen to me and save yourself (a1ll, w} daimo/nie Sw&kratej, e1ti kai\ nu=n e0moi\ piqou= kai\ sw&qhti, 44b5-6) … But, Socrates, tell me this (ta/de de/, w} Sw&kratej, ei0pe/ moi): you are not considering me and your other friends, are you (a]ra/ ge mh\ e0mou= promhqh=| kai\ tw~n a1llwn e0pithdei/wn), fearing that, if you escape, the informers will make trouble for us (mh/, e0a\n su\ e0nqe/nde e0ce/lqh|j, oi9 sukofa/ntai h9mi=n pra/gmata pare/xousin) by saying that we stole you away (w(j se\ e0nqe/nde e0kkle/yasin), and we shall be forced to lose all our property and a good deal of money (kai\ a0nagkasqw~men h2 kai\ pa=san th\n ou0si/an a0pobalei=n h2 suxna\ xrh/mata), or be punished in some other way besides (h2 kai\ a1llo ti pro\j tou/toij paqei=n;)? For if you are afraid of anything of that kind (ei0 ga/r ti toiou/ton fobh=|), let it go (e1ason tou=to xairei=n); since it is right for us to run this risk, and even greater risk than this, if necessary, provided we save you (h9mei=j ga\r pou di/kaioi/ e0smen sw&sante/j se kinduneu/ein tou/ton to\n ki/ndunon kai\ e0a\n de/h| e1ti tou/tou mei/zw). Now please do as I ask (a1ll e0moi\ pei/qou kai\ mh\ a1llwj poi/ei).’ (44e1-45a3)

But I was to say whether Anytus and those around him did what they did – assured a death sentence for Socrates – being “ignorant” of Socrates. We may presume that they were well informed of all the preparations Socrates’ friends were making for his escape from prison, and from Athens. I even believe, that it was not by accident (tou=to d e1tuxen, ‘this happened’, Phaedo 68c3) that the priest of Apollo has wreathed the stern of the ship the day before the trial – see Phaedo 59a-c. Had Socrates escaped from prison, and with him his friends went into exile, Anytus’ hopes would have been fulfilled.

For Anytus’ hopes, see Meno 11. Let me point to the relevant passages.

Socrates: And now there is an opportunity of your joining me in a consultation on my friend Meno here. He has been declaring to me ever so long, Anytus, that he desires to have that wisdom and virtue whereby men keep their house or their city in good order, and honour their parents, and know when to welcome and when to speed citizens and strangers as befits a good man. Now tell me, to whom ought we properly to send him for lessons in this virtue? Or is it clear enough, from our argument just now, that he should go to these men who profess to be teachers of virtue and advertise themselves as the common teachers of the Greeks, and are ready to instruct anyone who chooses in return for fees charged on a fixed scale?

Anytus: To whom are you referring, Socrates?

Socrates: Surely you know as well as anyone; they are the men whom people call sophists.

Anytus: For heaven’s sake hold your tongue, Socrates. May no kinsman or friend of mine, whether of this city or another, be seized with such madness as to let himself infected with the company of those men; for they are a manifest plague and corruption to those who frequent them.

Socrates: What is this, Anytus? Of all the people who set up to understand how to do us good, do you mean to single out these as conveying not merely no benefit, such as the rest can give, but actually corruption to anyone placed in their hands? And is it for doing this that they openly claim the payment of fees? … Now are we to take it, according to you, that they wittingly deceive and corrupt the youth, or that they are themselves unconscious of it? Are we to conclude that those who are frequently termed the wisest of mankind to have been so demented as that?

Anytus: Demented! Not they, Socrates: far rather the young men who pay them money, and still more the relations who let the young men have their way; and most of all the cities that allow them to enter, and do not expel them, whether such attempt be made by stranger or citizen.

These words of Anytus entitle us to presume that he hoped to clean the city of such men, and that his ‘or citizen’ points to Socrates.  

Socrates asked Anytus to point to any Athenian who would teach virtue to Meno. When Anytus was at a loss, to keep him in discussion, Socrates suggested the names of several distinguished leaders of Athens, and their children: Themistocles and his son Cleophantes, Aristeides and his son Lysimachus, Pericles and his two sons, Paralus and Xanthippus, Thucydides [not the historian] and his two sons, Melesias and Stefanus.

Note Socrates’ words, with which he introduced this discussion: ‘Just consider it in your own way of speaking (w{de ou]n sko/pei e0k tou= sautou= lo/gou): would you not say that Themistocles was a good man?’ Introduced to philosophic mysteries, 76 e, Meno would cease to consider Themistocles – Aristeides, Pericles, and Thucydides – a great man.

Each of these great men let their sons to be well educated, but none was able to pass to them their own virtue. Socrates concluded: ‘Ah no, my dear Anytus, it looks as though virtue were not a teachable thing (a0lla\ ga\r, w} e9tai=re A1nute, mh\ ou0k h=| didakto\n a0reth/, 94e2)’

Anytus extricated himself from any further participation in discussion with an advice: ‘Socrates, I consider you are too apt to speak ill of people. I, for one, if you will take my advice, would warn you to be careful: in most cities it is probably easier to do people harm than good, and particularly in this one; I think you know that yourself.’

What Anytus did next, we may learn from Diogenes Laertius: ‘Socrates would take to task those who thought highly of themselves, proving them to be fools, as to be sure he treated Anytus, according to Plato’s Meno (w(j kai\ e0n tw~| Pla/twno/j e0sti Me/nwni). For Anytus could not endure to be thus ridiculed by Socrates (ou[toj ga\r ou0 fe/rwn to\n u9po\ Swkra/touj xleuasmo/n), and so in the first place stirred up against him Aristophanes [the writer of comedies] and those around him (prw~ton me\n e0ph/leiyen au0tw~| tou\j peri\ A0ristofa/nhn); then afterwards he helped to persuade Meletus to indict him on a charge of impiety and corrupting the youth (e1peita kai\ Me/lhton sune/peisen a0pene/gkasqai kat au0tou= grafh\n a0sebei/aj kai\ tw~n ne/wn diafqora=j)’. (Diog. Laert. II. 38)

Since, as we know from Plato’s Crito, Socrates refused to allow his friends to liberate him from prison, and decided to abide by the court’s decision, thus proving to be a model citizen, the Athenians soon repented, ‘banished the other accusers but put Meletus to death (tou\j me\n a1llouj e0fuga/deusan, Me/lhton de\ qa/naton kate/gnwsan) (Diog. Laert. II. 43).’






Monday, February 12, 2024

For the record: asterisks.

My “computer” does not allow me to use asterisk.  Instead of asterisks, which until now I have been using to mark my notes, I have been left with the feeble ***.

I apologize. When I returned to my note, and began to type it, it came out in Greek. But I was sure that I had there clearly 'Calibri' as the font I wanted to use. But I am 85, it happens easily that I forget to check such things, and that's why "I apologize". I therefore changed SPIonic to Calibri, and returned to my blog to write the I apologize. But when I turned back to my note, it again came out in SPIonic. Obviously, the last thing I wrote in the main text, was the original Greek, which, written in backets, followed H.N. Fowler’s translation, and the computer disregarded Calibri as font, and the moment I began to type the text of my note, it automatically continued in SPIonic.

So, once again, I apologize. If I knew how to remove this note from my blog, I would do so. But since I don’t know how to do it, my apology is the best I can do.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Meno 12

In Meno 11 Socrates’ questioning of Anytus culminated in Anytus’ defamation of sophists as corruptors of those they get into their hands, upon which Socrates remarked: ‘You are a wizard, perhaps, Anytus; for I really cannot see, from what you say yourself, how else you can know anything about them.’ (92c6-7)

Let Meno 12 begin with Socrates’ words that immediately follow.

Socrates:  But we are not inquiring now who the teachers are (a0lla\ ga\r mh\ ou0 tou/touj e0pizhtou=men ti/nej ei0si) whose lessons would make Meno wicked (pa\r ou4j a2n Me/nwn a0fiko/menoj moxqhro\j ge/noito); let us grant, if you will, that they are the sophists (ou[toi men ga\r, ei0 bou/lei, e1stwn oi9 sofistai/): I only ask you to tell us (a0lla\ dh\ e0kei/nouj ei0pe\ h9mi=n), and do Meno a service as a friend of your family by letting him know (kai\ to\n patriko\n to/nde e9tai=ron eu0rge/thson fra/saj au0tw~|), to whom  in all this great city he should apply (para\ ti/naj a0fiko/menoj e0n tosau/th| po/lei) in order to become eminent in the virtue I described just now (th\n a0reth\n h4n nundh\ e0gw_ dih=lqon ge/noit a2n a0ci/wj lo/gou).

Anytus: Why not tell him yourself (Ti/ de\ au0tw~| ou0 su\ e1frasaj;)?

Socrates: I did mention to him the men whom I supposed to be teachers of these things (a0ll ou4j me\n e0gw_ w@|mhn didaska/louj tou/twn ei]nai, ei]pon); but I find, from what you say, that I am quite off the track (a0lla\ tugxa/nw ou0de\n le/gwn, w(j su\ fh\|j ׄ kai\ i1swj ti\ le/geij). Now you take your turn (a0lla\ su\ dh\ e0n tw~| me/rei), and tell him (au0tw~| ei0pe/) to whom of the Athenians he is to go (para\ ti/naj e1lqh| A0qhnai/wn). Give us a name (ei0pe\ o1noma) – anyone you please (o3tou bou/lei).

Anytus: Why mention a particular one (Ti/ de\ e9no\j a0nqrw&pou o1noma dei= a0kou=sai;)? Any Athenian gentleman he comes across, without exception (o3tw~| ga\r a2n e0ntu/xh| A0qhnai/wn tw~n kalw~n ka0gaqw~n), will do him more good, if he will do as he is bid, than the sophists (ou0dei\j e1stin o4j ou0 belti/w au0to\n poih/sei h2 oi9 sofistai/, e0a/nper e0qe/lh| pei/qesqai).

Socrates: And did those gentlemen grow spontaneously into what they are (Po/teron de\ ou3toi oi9 kaloi\ ka0gaqoi\ a0po\ tou= au0toma/tou e0ge/nonto toiou/toi), and without learning from anybody (par ou0deno\j maqo/ntej) are they able, nevertheless, to teach others (o3mwj me/ntoi a1llouj dida/skein oi[oi/ te o1ntej tau=ta) what they did not learn themselves (a3 au0toi\ ou0k e1maqon;)?

Anytus: I expect they must have learnt in their turn from the older generation, who were gentlemen: or does it not seem to you that we have had many good men in this city (Kai\ tou/touj e1gwge a0ciw~ para\ tw~n prote/rwn maqei=n, o1ntwn kalw~n ka0gaqw~n): or does it not seem to you that we have had many good men in this city (h2 ou0 dokousi/ soi polloi\ kai\ a0gaqoi\ gegone/nai e0n th=|de th=| po/lei a1ndrej;)?

Socrates: Yes, I agree, Anytus; we have also many who are good at politics, and have had them in the past as well as now (E!moige, w} A1nute, kai\ ei]nai dokou=sin e0nqa/de a0gaqoi\ ta\ politika/, kai\ gegone/nai e1ti ou0x h3tton h2 ei]nai). But I want to know whether they have proved good teachers besides of their own virtue (a0lla\ mw~n kai\ dida/skaloi a0gaqoi\ gego/nasi th=j au9tw~n a0reth=j;): that is the question with which our discussion is actually concerned (tou=to ga/r e0sti peri\ ou4 o9 lo/goj h9mi=n tugxa/nei w!n); not whether there are, or formerly have been, good man amongst us or not (ou0k ei0 ei0si\n a0gaqoi\ h2 mh\ a1ndrej e0nqa/de, ou0d' ei0 gego/nasin e0n tw~| pro/sqen), but whether virtue is teachable; this has been our problem all the time (a0ll ei0 didakto/n e0stin a0reth\ pa/lai skopou=men). And our inquiry into this problem resolves itself into the question (tou=to de\ skopou=ntej to/de skopou=men): Did the good men of our own and of former times know how to transmit to another man the virtue in respect of which they are good (a]ra oi9 a0gaqoi\ a1ndrej kai\ tw~n nu=n kai\ tw~n prote/rwn tau/thn th\n a0reth/n, h4n au0toi\ a0gaqoi\ h]san, h0pi/stanto kai\ a1llw| paradou=nai), or is it something not to be transmitted or taken over from one human being to another (h2 ou0 paradoto\n tou=to a0nqrw&pw| ou0de\ paralhpto\n a1llw| par a1llou)? That is the question I and Meno have been discussing all the time (tou=t e1stin o4 pa/lai zhtou=men e0gw& te kai\ Me/nwn). Well, just consider it in your way of speaking: would you not say that Themistocles was a good man (w#de ou]n sko/pei e0k tou= sautou= lo/gou ׄ Qe/mistokle/a ou0k a0gaqo\n a2n fai/hj a1ndra gegone/nai;)?

Anytus: I would, particularly so (E!gwge, pa/ntwn ge ma/lista),

Socrates: And if any man ever was a teacher of his own virtue, he especially was a good teacher of his (Ou0kou=n kai\ dida/skalon a0gaqo/n, ei1per tij a1lloj th=j au9tou= a1reth=j dida/skaloj h]n, ka0kei=non ei]nai;)?

Anytus: In my opinion yes (Oi]mai e1gwge), assuming that he wished to be so (ei1per e0bou/leto/ ge).

Socrates: But can you suppose he would not have wished that other people should become good, honourable men (A0ll, oi]ei, ou0k a2n e0boulh/qh a1llouj te/ tinaj kalou\j ka0gaqou\j gene/sqai) – above all, I presume, his own son (ma/lista de/ pou to\n u9io\n to\n au9tou=)? Or do you think he was jealous of him, and deliberately refused to impart the virtue of his own goodness to him (h2 oi1ei au0to\n fqonei=n au0tw~| kai\ e0cepi/thdej ou0 paradido/nai th\n a0reth/n, h4n au0to\j a0gaqo\j h]n;)? Have you never heard how Themistocles had his son Cleophantus taught to be a good horseman (h2 ou0k a0kh/koaj, o3ti Qemistoklh=j Kleo/fanton to\n ui9o\n i9ppe/a me\n e0dida/cato a0gaqo/n;)? Why, he could keep his balance standing upright on horseback (e0pe/mene gou=n e0pi\ tw~n i3ppwn o0rqo\j e9sthkw&j), and hurl the javelin while so standing (kai\ h0ko/ntizen a0po\ tw~n i3ppwn o0rqo/j), and perform many other wonderful feats (kai\ a1lla polla\ kai\ qaumasta\ ei0rga/zeto) in which his father had had him trained, so as to make him skilled in all that could be learnt from good masters (a4 e0kei=noj au0to\n e0paideu/sato kai\ e0poi/hse sofo/n, o3sa didaska/lwn a0gaqw~n ei1xeto). Surely you must have heard all this from your elders (h2 tau=ta ou0k a0kh/koaj tw~n presbute/rwn;)?

Anytus: I have (A0kh/koa).

Socrates: Then there could be no complaints of badness in his son’s nature (Ou0k a2n a1ra th/n ge fu/sin tou= ui9e/oj au0tou= h|0tia/sat a1n tij ei]nai kakh/n)?

Anytus: I daresay not (I!swj ou0k a1n).

Socrates: But I ask you (Ti/ de\ to/de;) – did you ever hear anybody, old or young, say that Cleophantus, son of Themistocles, had the same goodness and accomplishments as his father (w(j Kleo/fantoj o9 Qemistokle/ouj a0nh\r a0gaqo\j kai\ sofo\j e0ge/neto a3per o9 path\r au0tou=, h1dh tou= a0kh/koaj h2 newte/rou h2 presbute/rou;)?

Anytus: Certainly not (Ou0 dh=ta)

Socrates: And can we believe that his father chose to train his own son in those feats, and yet make him no better than his neighbours in his own particular accomplishments – if virtue, as alleged, was to be taught (A]r ou]n tau=ta me\n ou]n oi0o/meqa bou/lesqai au0to\n to\n au9tou= ui9o\n paideu=sai, h4n de\ au0to\j sofi/an h]n sofo/j, ou0de\n tw~n geito/nwn belti/w poih=sai, ei1per h]n ge didakto\n h9 a0reth/;)?

Anytus: On my word, I think not (I!swj ma\ Di/ ou1).

Socrates: Well, there you have a fine teacher of virtue who, you admit, was one of the best men of the past times (Ou[toj me\n dh/ soi toiou/toj dida/skaloj a0reth=j, o4n kai\ su\ o9mologei=j e0n toi=j a1riston tw~n prote/rwn ei]nai). Let us take another (a1llon de\ dh\ skeyw&meqa), Aristeides, son of Lysimachus (A9ristei/dhn to\n Lusima/xou): do you not admit that he was a good man (ׄ h2 tou=ton ou0x o9mologei=j a0gaqo\n gegone/nai;)?

Anytus: I do, absolutely, of course (E!gwge, pa/ntwj dh/pou).

Socrates: Well, did he not train his son Lysimachus better than any other Athenian in all that masters could teach him (Ou0kou=n kai\ ou[toj to\n ui9o\n to\n au9tou= Lusi/maxon, o3sa me\n didaska/lwn ei1xeto, ka/llista A0qhnai/wn e0pai/deusen)? And in the result, do you consider he has turned out better than anyone else (a1ndra de\ belti/w dokei= soi o9touou=n pepoihke/nai;)? You have been in his company, I know (tou/tw| ga/r pou kai\ sugge/gonaj), and you see what he is like (kai\ o9ra|=j oi[o/j e0stin). Or take another example – the splendidly accomplished Pericles (ei0 de\ bou/lei Perikle/a, ou3tw| megaloprepw~j sofo\n a1ndra): he, as you are aware, brought up two sons, Paralus and Xanthippus (oi]sq o3ti du/o u9iei=j e1qreye, Pa/ralon kai\ Ca/nqipon;).

Anytus: Yes (E!gwge).

Socrates: And, you know as well as I, he taught them to be the foremost horsemen of Athens and trained them to excel in music and gymnastics and all else that comes under the head of the arts (Tou/touj me/ntoi, w(j oi]sqa kai\ su/, i9ppe/aj me\n e0di/dacen ou0deno\j xei/rouj A0qhnai/wn kai\ mousikh\n kai\ a0gwni/an kai\ ta]lla e0pai/deusen, o3sa te/xnhj e1xetai, ou0deno\j xei/rouj); and with all that, had he no desire to make them good men (a0gaqou\j de\ a1ra a1ndraj ou0k e0bou/leto poih=sai;)? He wished to, I imagine (dokw~ me/n, e0bou/leto), but presumably it is not a thing one can be taught (a0lla\ mh\ ou0k h]n didakto/n). And that you may not suppose it was only a few of the meanest sort of Athenians who failed in this matter (i3na de\ mh\ o0li/gouj oi1h| kai\ tou\j faulota/touj A0qhnai/wn a0duna/touj gegone/nai tou=to to pra/gma), let me remind you that Thucydides also brought up two sons, Melesias and Stephanus (e0nqumh/qhti o3ti Qoukudi/dhj au] du/o ui9ei=j e1qreye, Melhsi/an kai\ Ste/fanon), and that besides giving them a good general education (kai\ tou/touj e0pai/deuse ta/ te a1lla eu]) he made them the best wrestlers in Athens (kai\ e0pa/laisan ka/llista A0qhnai/wn): one he placed with Xanthias (to\n me\n ga\r Canqi/a| e1dwke), and the other with Eudorus (to\n de\ Eudw&rw|) – masters who, I should think, had the name of being the best exponents of the art (ou[toi de/ pou e0do/koun tw~n to/te ka/llista palai/ein). You remember them, do you not (ׄh2 ou0 me/mnhsai;)?

Anytus, Yes (E!gwge), by hearsay (a0koh=|).


Lamb notes: ‘Thucydides (son of Melesias, and no relation of the historian) was an aristocrat of high principle and conservative views who opposed the plans of Pericles for enriching and adorning Athens.


Socrates: Well, is it not obvious that this father, would never have spent this money on having his children taught all those things (Ou0kou=n dh=lon o3ti ou[toj ou0k a1n pote, ou[ me\n e1dei dapanw&menon dida/skein, tau=ta me\n e0di/dace tou\j pai=daj tou\j au9tou=), and then would have omitted to teach them at no expense the others that would have made them good men (ou[ de\ ou0de\n e1dei a0nalw&santa a0gaqou\j a1ndraj poih=sai, tau=ta de\ ou0k e0di/dacen), if virtue was to be taught (ei0 didakto\n h]n;)? Will you say that perhaps Thucydides was one of the meaner sort, and had no great number of friends among the Athenians and allies (a0lla\ ga\r i1swj o9 Qoukudi/dhj fau=loj h]n, kai\ ou0k h]san au0tw~| plei=stoi fi/loi A0qhnai/wn kai\ tw~n summa/xwn;)? He, who was of a great house (kai\ oi0ki/aj mega/lhj h]n) and had much influence in our city (kai\ e0du/nato me/ga e0n th=| po/lei) and all over Greece (kai\ e0n toi=j a1lloij E3llhsin), so that if virtue were to be taught (w#ste ei1per h]n tou=to didakto/n) he would have found out the man who was likely to make his sons good (e0ceurei=n a2n o3stij e1mellen au0tou= tou\j ui9ei=j a0gaqou\j poih/sein), whether one of our own people (h2 tw~n e0pixwri/wn tij) or a foreigner (h2 tw~n ce/nwn), were he himself too busy owing to the cares of state (ei0 au0to\j mh\ e0sxo/laze dia\ th\n th=j po/lewj e0pime/leian)! Ah no, my dear Anytus, it looks as though virtue were not a teachable thing (a0lla\ ga/r, w} e9tai=re A1nute, mh\ ou0k h]| didakto\n a0reth/).

Anytus: Socrates (W} Sw&kratej), I consider you are too apt to speak ill of people (r9a|di/wj moi dokei=j kakw~j le/gein a0nqrw&pouj). I, for one, if you will take my advice, would warn you to be careful (e0gw_ me\n ga/r soi sumbouleu/saimi, ei0 e0qe/leij e0moi\ pei/qesqai, eu0labei=sqai): in most cities it is probably easier to do people harm than good (w(j i1swj me\n kai\ e0n a1llh| po/lei r9a|o/n e0sti kakw~j poiei=n a0nqrw&pouj h2 eu]), and particularly in this one (e0n th=||de de\ kai\ pa/nu); I think you know that yourself (oi]mai de\ se\ kai\ au0to\n ei0de/nai).