In Digression 2, I dated the composition and publication of the Meno prior to Meno’s taking part in Cyrus’ ill-fated military campaign against Artaxerxes, the king of Persia; what compelled me to do so was profound transformation that Meno undergoes in the dialogue. In the present post I shall reinforce this by enlarging on Plato’s depiction of Meno’s pre-transformation state. In addition, I shall corroborate the proposed dating with reference to Xenophon’s presentation of Meno in the Anabasis.
What is the view of Meno by academics, so that they can date the dialogue after those events? Their view of Meno in Plato’s Meno is static. W.R.M. Lamb says in the ‘Introduction’ to his translation of the dialogue: ‘Meno was a young Thessalian of noble and wealthy family. He is supposed here to be on a visit to Athens about 402 B.C., three years before the death of Socrates. He has acquired some literary and scientific knowledge by association with Gorgias, who spent his last few years in Thessaly. He took part as a general in the great march of the Ten Thousand with Cyrus in 401 B.C.’
Lamb’s reference to Xenophon’s Meno is marginal, and viewed by him as complementary to Plato’s picture: ‘Xenophon depicts him in the Anabasis as greedy, self-seeking and treacherous. Plato shows us his pleasanter side, though we find here that he is rather conceited and lacking in self-control (76a, 80 b, c, 86d).’ (The LOEB Classical Library edition of the Meno in Plato II, 1924, repr. 1977).
Debra Nails opens her extensive article on Meno as follows: ‘Both Plato (76b) and Xenophon (Anab. 2.6.28) remark on Meno’s physical beauty in the bloom of his youth, and on his several lovers, both noting in particular that Meno is the beloved of Aristippus of Larissa s.v.’
S.V. Aristippus of Larissa she says: ‘In Plato’s Meno, a dialogue set in 402, shortly before Aristippus sent Meno against Artaxerxes, Aristippus is identified as a student of Gorgias (70b) and as Meno’s friend (hetairou 70b2) and lover (erastȇs 70b6). Aristippus received financial assistance against his political opponents from his friend, Cyrus, secretly to maintain an army of mercenaries in Thessaly (Anab. 1.1.10). In or just before 401, when Cyrus was ready to begin his campaign against his reigning brother, Artaxerxes, he sent a word to Aristippus to reconcile with his internal enemies and to send the army to Cyrus’ aid (1.2.1). Aristippus did so, under the command of Meno.’
On Plato’s Meno, apart from the opening line, Nails says as little as Lamb: ‘Plato represents Meno as a wealthy and outspoken young man, attended by several slaves (82a), and as recently having been under the influence of Gorgias (70b, 71c), whom Thessaly had especially welcomed.’ The major part of her article is devoted to Xenophon’s Meno. This I shall discuss after discussing Plato’s Meno.
What both Lamb and Nails miss is the transformation that Meno undergoes in the course of the dialogue. This transformation is so profound that Socrates can end the whole dialogue by asking Meno to persuade his host Anytus, a leading Athenian politician, of that of which he himself became persuaded (t’auta tauta haper autos pepeisa) in the course of the dialogue: ‘for if you can persuade him (hȏs ean peisȇis auton), you will do a good turn to the people of Athens also (estin hoti kai Athȇnaious onȇseis, 100c1-2).’
Meno enters the dialogue as a self-confident disciple of Gorgias who knows about virtue all that can be known. He opens the dialogue by asking Socrates whether virtue can be taught, or is acquired by practice, or comes to mankind by nature or in some other way. He doesn’t ask this question in order to learn something about virtue, he does so to display his knowledge and his wit concerning it; later in the dialogue he will say that on countless occasions he made abundant and very good speeches on virtue to various people (80b). Socrates underlines this state of Meno’s mind with his reply: ‘Meno (Ō Menȏn), of old (pro tou men) the Thessalians were famous and admired among the Greeks (Thessaloi eudokimoi ȇsan en tois Hellȇsi kai ethaumazonto) for their riding (eph’ hippikȇi te) and their riches (kai ploutȏi); but now they have a name (nun de), I believe (hȏs emoi dokei), for wisdom also (kai epi sophiai), especially your friend Aristippus’s people (kai ouch hȇkista hoi tou sou hetairou Aristippou politai), the Larisseans (Larissaioi). For this you have to thank Gorgias (toutou de humin aitios esti Gorgias); for when he came to that city (aphikomenos gar eis tȇn polin) he made the leading men of the Aleuadae – among them your lover Aristippus – and Thessalians generally enamoured of wisdom (erastas epi sophiai eilȇphen Aleuadȏn tous prȏtous, hȏn ho sos erastȇs estin Aristippos, kai tȏn allȏn Thettalȏn). Nay more (kai dȇ kai), he has given you the regular habit (touto to ethos humas eithiken) of answering any chance question in a fearless, magnificent manner (aphobȏs te kai megaloprepȏs apokrinesthai, ean tis ti erȇtai), as befits those who know (hȏsper eikos tous eidotas): for he sets the example of offering himself to be questioned by any Greek who chooses (hate kai autos parechȏn hauton erȏtan tȏn Hellȇnȏn tȏi boulomenȏi), and on any point one likes (ho ti an tis boulȇtai), and he has an answer for everybody (kai oudeni hotȏi ouk apokrinomenos).’ (70a5-c3, tr. from the Meno in this post W.R.M. Lamb)
In contrast to the wisdom of Meno and Thessalians Socrates points to a drought of wisdom (auchmos tis tȇs sophias) in Athens which he shared with his fellow countrymen. He, as well as any of them, is so far from knowing whether virtue can be taught or not, that he actually does not even know what virtue is (70c-71b).
Meno is confident that he knows what virtue is. And so he tells Socrates what a man’s virtue is – ‘to be competent to manage the affairs of his city (hikanon einai ta tȇs poleȏs prattein), and to manage them so (kai prattonta) as to benefit his friends (tous men philous eu poiein) and harm his enemies (tous d’ echthrous kakȏs), and to take care (kai auton eulabeisthai) to avoid suffering harm himself (mȇden toiouton pathein)’ – and what a woman’s virtue is – ‘the duty of ordering the house well (dei autȇn tȇn oikian eu oikein), looking after the property indoors (sȏizousan te ta endon), and obeying her husband (kai katȇkoon ousan tou andros, 71e2-7)’ – and that a different virtue is that of a child – one for the female and one for the male – and another for elderly men, and yet another for slaves: ‘And there are very many other virtues besides (kai allai pampollai aretai eisin), so that one cannot be at a loss to explain (hȏste ouk aporia eipein) what virtue is (aretȇs peri ho ti esti); for it is according to each activity (kath’ hekastȇn gar tȏn praxeȏn) and age (kai tȏn hȇlikiȏn) that every one of us, in whatever we do, has his virtue (pros hekaston ergon hekastȏi hȇmȏn hȇ aretȇ estin, 72a1-4).’
Socrates tells Meno that however many and various virtues may be, ‘they all have one common character [Form] (hen ge ti eidos hapasai echousin) by which they are virtues (di’ ho eisin aretai), and on which one of course would be wise to keep an eye when one answers the question what virtue is (eis ho kalȏs pou echei apoblepsanta ton apokrinomenon tȏi erȏtȇsanti dȇlȏsai, ho tunchanei ousa aretȇ, 72c6-d1) … Seeing then that it is the same virtue in all cases (Epeidȇ toinun hȇ autȇ aretȇ pantȏn esti), try and tell me (peirȏ eipein), if you can recollect (kai anamnȇsthȇnai), what Gorgias – and you in agreement with him – say it is (ti auto phȇsi Gorgias einai kai su met’ ekeinou).’ – Meno: ‘Simply that it is (Ti allo g’ ȇ) the power of governing mankind (archein hoion t’ einai tȏn anthrȏpȏn;) – if you want some single description to cover all cases (eiper hen ge ti zȇteis kata pantȏn).’ – Socrates: ‘But is virtue the same in a child (all’ ara kai paidos hȇ autȇ aretȇ), Meno (ȏ Menȏn), and in a slave (kai doulou) – an ability to govern each his master (archein hoiȏ te einai tou despotou)? And do you think he who governed would still be a slave (kai dokei soi eti an doulos einai ho archȏn;)?’ – Meno: ‘I should say certainly not (Ou panu moi dokei), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates).’ – Socrates: ‘And again, consider this further point (eti gar kai tode skopei): you say that it is “to be able to govern” (archein phȇis hoion t’ einai); shall we not add to that (ou prosthȇsomen autose to) – “justly (dikaiȏs), not unjustly (adikȏs de mȇ)”?’ – Meno: ‘Yes, I think so (Oimai egȏge); for justice (hȇ gar dikaiosunȇ), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates), is virtue (aretȇ estin).’ – S.: ‘Virtue (Poteron aretȇ), Meno (ȏ Menȏn), or a virtue (ȇ aretȇ tis;)? – M. ‘What do you mean by that (Pȏs touto legeis;)?’ S.: ‘What I would in any other case (Hȏs peri allou hotououn). To take roundness, for instance (hoion, ei boulei, strongulotȇtos peri); I should call it a figure (eipoim’ an egȏge hoti schȇma ti estin), and not figure pure and simple (ouch houtȏs haplȏs hoti schȇma). And I should name it so because (dia tauta de houtȏs an eipoimi) there are other figures as well (hoti kai alla esti schȇmata).’ M.: ‘You would be quite right (Orthȏs ge legȏn su) – just as I say (epei kai egȏ legȏ) there are other virtues beside justice (ou monon dikaiosunȇn alla kai allas einai aretas) … courage (hȇ andreia), I consider (emoige dokei), is a virtue (aretȇ einai), and temperance (kai sȏphrosunȇ), and wisdom (kai sophia), and loftiness of mind (kai megaloprepeia); and there are a great many others (kai allai pampollai.’ – S.: ‘Once more (Palin), Meno (ȏ Menȏn), we are in the same plight (t’auton peponthamen): again we have found a number of virtues (pollas au hȇurȇkamen aretas) when we are looking for one (mian zȇtountes) … but the one (tȇn de mian) that runs through them all (hȇ dia pantȏn toutȏn estin), this we are not able to find (ou dunametha aneurein).’ – M.: ‘No, for I am not yet able (Ou gar dunamai pȏ), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates), to follow your line of search (hȏs su zȇteis), and find a single virtue common to all (mian aretȇn labein kata pantȏn), as one can in other cases (hȏsper en tois allois).’ (73c6-74b1
Meno says that he is not yet able to follow Socrates’ line of search. This is an important point; it is the first in Meno’s transformation. His ‘I am not yet able‘ indicates that he wants to become able to follow Socrates’ line of search and thus find the Form of virtue. Socrates, being well aware of the importance and difficulty of this search, replies: ‘And no wonder (Eikotȏs); but I will make an effort (all’ egȏ prothumȇsomai), as far as I can (ean hoios t’ ȏ), to help us onward (hȇmas probibasai). You understand, of course (manthaneis gar pou), that this principle of mine applies to everything (hoti houtȏsi echei peri pantos, 74b2-4).’
Socrates takes figure (schȇma) as an example. However different the figures maybe – round and straight – they all have a common characteristic: ‘Figure, let us say (estȏ gar hȇmin touto schȇma), is the only exciting thing that is found always following colour (ho monon tȏn ontȏn tunchanei chrȏmati aei hepomenon, 75b9-11).’ Meno ripostes: ‘What if someone said he did not know colour (ei de dȇ tȇn chroan tis mȇ phaiȇ eidenai;)?’ In response, Socrates acknowledges that ‘in one’s answer one should use the points which the questioner, when asked, acknowledges he knows’ (apokrinesthai di’ ekeinȏn hȏn an prosomologȇi eidenai ho erȏtȏmenos, 75d5-7) And so he asks Meno, whether he calls something an ‘end’ (teleutȇn) or ‘limit’ (peras) and ‘extremity’ (eschaton). Meno answers that he does. Socrates then asks him whether he calls something a surface (epipedon) and something a solid (stereon). When Meno agrees he does, Socrates redefines figure: ‘In every instance of figure (kata pantos schȇmatos), I call that figure in which the solid ends (touto legȏ, eis ho to stereon perainei, tout’ einai schȇma), or to put it more succinctly (hoper an sullabȏn eipoimi), figure is limit of solid (stereou peras schȇma eiai, 76a5-7).’
Now it was Meno’s turn to define virtue similarly. Instead, he asked: ‘And what do you say of colour (To de chrȇma ti legeis;)?’
Follows a mini-scene with slightly erotic overtones. Socrates: ‘One might tell even blindfolded (kai katakekalummenos tis gnoiȇ), Meno (ȏ Menȏn), by the way you discuss (dialegomenou sou), that you are handsome (hoti kalos ei) and still have lovers (kai erastai soi eti eisin).’ – Meno: ‘Why so (Ti dȇ;)?’ – Socrates: ‘Because you invariably speak in a peremptory tone (Hoti ouden all’ ȇ epitatteis en tois logois), after the fashion of the spoilt beauties (hoper poiousin hoi truphȏntes), holding as they do a despotic power (hate turanneuontes) so long as their bloom is on them (heȏs an en hȏrai ȏsin). You have also, I daresay, made a note of my weakness for handsome people (kai hama emou isȏs kategnȏkas, hoti eimi hȇttȏn tȏn kalȏn). So I will indulge you (charioumai oun soi), and answer (kai apokrinoumai).’ – Meno: ‘You must certainly indulge me (Panu men oun charisai).’
And Socrates does indulge him:‘Would you like me to answer you in the manner of Gorgias (Boulei oun soi kata Gorgian apokrinȏmai), which you would find easiest to follow (hȇi an su malista akolouthȇsais;)?’ – Meno: ‘I should like that (Boulomai), of course (pȏs gar ou;).’ – Socrates: ‘Do not both of you say there are certain effluences of existent things (Oukoun legete aporroas tinas tȏn ontȏn), as Empedocles held (kata Empedoklea;)?’ – Meno: ‘Certainly (Sphodra ge).’ – Socrates: ‘And passages (Kai porous) into which (eis hous) and through which (kai di’ hȏn) the effluences pass (hai aporroai poreuontai;)?’ – Meno: ‘To be sure (Panu ge).’ – Socrates: ‘And some of the effluences fit into various passages (Kai tȏn aporroȏn tas men harmottein eniois tȏn porȏn), while some are too small or too large (tas de elattous ȇ meizous einai)? – Meno: ‘That is so (Esti tauta).’ – Socrates: ‘And further (Oukoun), there is what you call sight (kai opsin kaleis ti;)?’ – Meno: ‘Yes (Egȏge).’ – Socrates: ‘So now conceive my meaning (Ek toutȏn dȇ xunes ho toi legȏ), as Pindar says (ephȇ Pindaros): colour is (esti gar chroa) an effluence of figures (aporroȇ schȇmatȏn), commensurate with sight (opsei summetros) and sensible (kai aisthȇtȇ).’ – Meno: ‘This answer, Socrates, seems to me excellently put (Arista moi dokeis, ȏ Sȏkrates, tautȇn tȇn apokrisin eirȇkenai).’ – Socrates: ‘Yes, for I expect you find its terms familiar (Isȏs gar soi kata sunȇtheian eirȇtai) … and so more agreeable to you (hȏste areskei soi mallon) than that about the figure (ȇ hȇ peri tou schȇmatos).’ – Meno: ‘Yes, it is (Emoige).’
The passage that follows is very important for our understanding of the Meno.
Socrates: ‘But yet, son of Alexidemus, I am inclined to think the other was the better of the two (All’ ouk estin, ȏ pai Alexidȇmou, hȏs egȏ emauton peithȏ, all’ ekeinȇ beltiȏn); and I believe you also would prefer it (oimai de oud’ an soi doxai), if you were not compelled, as you were saying yesterday, to go away (ei mȇ, hȏsper chthes eleges, anankaion soi apienai) before the mysteries (pro tȏn mustȇriȏn), and could stay awhile (all’ ei perimeinai) and be initiated (kai muȇtheiȇs).’ – Meno: ‘But I should stay (Alla perimeinoim’ an), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates), if you would give me many such answers (ei moi polla toiauta legois).’ – Socrates: ‘Well then, I will spare no endeavour (Alla mȇn prothumias ge ouden apoleipsȏ), both for your sake (kai sou heneka) and for my own (kai emautou).’ (76b4-77a4)
In these few lines we learn that Socrates and Meno had a discussion a day before, or at least, that Socrates was present when Meno had said on that day that he must go away before the mysteries. We can now better understand Socrates’ elaborate answer to Meno’s initial question concerning virtue; he was well aware that Meno asked the question not out of the desire to learn, but to make an exhibition of his brilliance, which he had gained under the guidance of Gorgias. But most importantly, we learn that Meno was ready to stay and get initiated, if Socrates would tell him ‘many such things (polla toiauta)’ as was the definition of colour ‘in the manner of Gorgias’. And Socrates is ready to make his best, both for Meno’s sake and for his own. And Meno is ready to stay, although Socrates told him that if he stayed and were initiated, he would learn that the definition of figure was better than that of colour that pleased him so much.
But what is the initiation to be all about? František Novotný remarks in his Czech translation of the dialogue: ‘Double meaning; 1/ in its normal meaning concerning time – meaning probably the great Eleusinian Mysteries, which were celebrated in Athens in the month boedromion (September-October), 2/ in its deeper meaning, which Socrates gives to these words, philosophic mysteries, into which one needs to be initiated.’ This much is unquestionably true, but what does Plato mean by the ‘philosophic mysteries’? We may presume that the readers of his Phaedrus were in no difficulty concerning it. For in the Phaedrus, after proving the immortality of the soul, Plato turns his readers’ eyes to ‘the region above the heavens (ton huperouranion topon)’, which is ‘occupied by being which really is, which is without colour or shape, intangible, observable by the steersman of the soul alone, by intellect, and to which the class of true knowledge relates (hȇ gar achrȏmatos te kai aschȇmatistos kai anaphȇs ousia ontȏs ousa, psuchȇs kubernȇtȇi monȏi theatȇ nȏi, peri hȇn to tȇs alȇthous epistȇmȇs genos, touton echei ton topon)’ (247c3- d1, tr. C.J. Rowe)
The only immediate indication that Meno is to be initiated to ‘being which really is’ is Socrates’ remark that if Meno stayed he would find the definition of figure preferable to the one concerning colour. What can he mean by that? Colour is a primary sensory datum, it is there to be seen, not to be defined; the definition of colour ‘in the manner of Gorgias’ is full of problematic hypothetical ‘scientific’ notions, with which colour only appears to be defined. When Socrates asked what the Form of virtue is, he used the term eidos (72c7-d1), which involves mental seeing; any definition of it can only point towards it; in its truth it can only be seen by the soul’s eye. The most important indication that Meno is to be initiated to the Forms is the Meno in its entirety; for the initiation transcends the dialogue, it surpasses everything that he is told within its framework. Roughly speaking, Plato is turning his readers’ eyes through the Meno back to the Phaedrus.
Meno attempts to give one more definition of virtue: ‘Well, in my view (Dokei toinun moi), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates), virtue is (aretȇ einai) to desire what is honourable (epithumounta tȏn kalȏn) and be able to procure it (dunaton einai porizesthai, 76b2-5).
Lamb translates Meno’s ta kala as ‘what is honourable’, which is fine, but it misses the connection with the Phaedrus, which at this point an attentive reader is to perceive. The Beauty, auto to kallos (Phaedrus 250e2), is presented in the Phaedrus as a stepping stone with the help of which we can recollect other ‘beings that really are’, for after our soul had lost its wings and became incarnated, ‘we have found beauty (kateilȇphamen auto) gleaming most clearly through the clearest of our senses (dia tȇs enargestatȇs aisthȇseȏs tȏn hȇmeterȏn stilbon enargestata) … wisdom we do not see (hȇi phronȇsis ouch horatai) – the feelings of love it would cause in us would be terrible (deinous gar an pareichen erȏtas), if it allowed some such clear image of itself to reach our sight (ei ti toiouton heautȇs enarges eidȏlon pareicheto eis opsin ion), and so too with other objects of love (kai t’alla hosa erasta); as it is, beauty alone has acquired this privilege (nun de kallos monon tautȇn esche moiran), of being most evident (hȏst’ ekphanestaton einai) and most loved (kai erasmiȏtaton, 250d1-e1, tr. Rowe}.’
In the Meno we are now within the sphere of eidȏla (‘images’) of Beauty; the eye of Meno’s soul does not reach any further than that, he hasn’t been initiated yet, but it is worth noting in what direction Socrates is taking him within that sphere: ‘Do you say that who desires the honourable (Ara legeis ton tȏn kalȏn epithumounta) is desirous of the good (agathȏn epithumȇtȇn einai;)?’ – Meno: ‘Certainly (Malista ge).’ (77b6-7)
Socrates asks Meno whether with his definition of virtue he implies ‘that there are some who desire the evil and others the good (Ara hȏs ontȏn tinȏn hoi tȏn kakȏn epithumousi, heteroi de hoi tȏn agathȏn;)? Do not all men (ou pantes), in your opinion (dokousi soi), desire the good (tȏn agathȏn epithumein;)? – Meno: ‘I think not (Ouk emoige).’ (77b7-c2)
With his belief that there are men who desire evil Meno opposes Socrates’ view that all men are desirous of the good. And so, Socrates subjects Meno’s view to a thoroughgoing refutation. Socrates opensit by asking Meno: ‘There are some who desire the evil (Alla tines tȏn kakȏn;)?’ – M.: ‘Yes (Nai).’ – S.: ‘Thinking the evil to be good (Oiomenoi ta kaka agatha einai), do you mean (legeis), or actually recognizing (ȇ kai gignȏskontes) it to be evil (hoti kaka estin), and desiring it nevertheless (homȏs epithumousi autȏn;)? – M.: ‘Both (Amphotera), I believe (emoige dokei).’ – S.: ‘Do you really believe, Meno, that a man knows the evil to be evil (Ȇ gar dokei tis soi, ȏ Menȏn, gignȏskȏn ta kaka hoti kaka estin), and still desires it (homȏs epithumein autȏn;)?’ – M.: ‘Certainly (Malista).’ – S.: ‘What do you mean by “desires” (Ti epithumein legeis;)? Desires the possession of it (ȇ genesthai autȏi;)?’ – M.: ‘Yes (Genesthai); what else could it be (ti gar allo;)?’ – S.: ‘And does he think the evil benefits him who gets it (Poteron hȇgoumenos ta kaka ȏphelein ekeinon hȏi an genȇtai), or does he know (ȇ gignȏskȏn) that it harms him who has it (ta kaka hoti blaptei hȏi an parȇi;)?’ – M.: ‘There are some (Eisi men) who think the evil is a benefit (hoi hȇgoumenoi ta kaka ȏphelein), and others who know (eisi de kai hoi gignȏskontes) that it does harm (hoti blaptei).’ – S.: ‘And, in your opinion (Ȇ kai dokousi soi), do those who think the evil a benefit know that it is evil (gignȏskein ta kaka, hoti kaka estin, hoi hȇgoumenoi ta kaka ȏphelein;)? – M.: ‘I do not think that at all (Ou panu moi dokei touto ge).’ – S.: ‘Obviously (Oukoun dȇlon) those who are ignorant of the evil do not desire it (hoti houtoi men ou tȏn kakȏn epithumousin, hoi agnoountes auta), but only what they supposed to be good (alla ekeinȏn, ha ȏionto agatha einai), though it is really evil (esti de tauta ge kaka); so that those who are ignorant of it (hȏste hoi agnoountes auta) and think it good (kai oiomenoi agatha einai) are really desiring the good (dȇlon hoti tȏn agathȏn epithumousin). Is not that so (ȇ ou;)?’ – M.: ‘It would seem to be so in their case (Kinduneuousin houtoi ge).’ – S.: ‘Well now (Ti de;), I presume those who, as you say, desire the evil (hoi tȏn kakȏn men epithumountes, hȏs phȇis su), and consider that the evil harms him (hȇgoumenoi de ta kaka blaptein ekeinon) who gets it (hȏi an gignȇtai), know (gignȏskousin dȇpou) that they will be harmed by it (hoti blabȇsontai hup’ autȏn;)?’ – M.: ‘They needs must (Anankȇ).’ – S.: ‘But do they not hold that those who are harmed are miserable (Alla tous blaptomenous houtoi ouk oiontai athlious einai) in proportion to the harm they suffer (kath’ hoson blaptontai;)?’ – M.: ‘That too must be (Kai touto anankȇ).’ – S.: ‘And are not the miserable ill-starred (Tous de athlious ou kakodaimonas;)? – M.: ‘I think so (Oimai egȏge).’ – S.: ‘Then is there anyone who wishes (Estin oun hostis bouletai) to be miserable and ill-starred (athlios kai kakodaimȏn einai;)?’ – M.: ‘I do not suppose there is (Ou moi dokei).’ – S.: ‘No one, then, desires evil (Ouk ara bouletai ta kaka oudeis), if no one desires to be such a one (eiper ou bouletai toioutos einai): for what is being miserable (ti gar allo estin athlion einai) but desiring evil (ȇ epithumein te tȏn kakȏn) and obtaining it (kai ktasthai;)? – M.: ‘It seems that what you say is true (Kinduneueis alȇthȇ legein), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates), and that nobody desires evil (kai oudeis boulesthai ta kaka).’ (77c2-78b2)
Socrates can now point out to Meno what the refutation did to his definition of virtue: ‘Well now (Oukoun), you were saying a moment ago (nundȇ eleges) that virtue is (hoti estin aretȇ) the desire and ability for good (boulesthai te t’agatha kai dunasthai;)?’ – Meno: ‘Yes, I was (Eipon gar).’ – Socrates.: ‘One part of the statement – the desire – belongs to our common nature (Oukoun toutou lechthentos to men boulesthai pasin huparchei), and in this respect (kai tautȇi ge) one man is no better than another (ouden ho heteros tou heterou beltiȏn;)? – M.: ‘Apparently (Phainetai).’ S.: ‘But it is plain (Alla dȇlon) that if one man is not better than another in this, he must be superior in the ability (hoti eiper esti beltiȏn allos allou, kata to dunasthai an eiȇ ameinȏn).’ – M.: ‘Certainly (Panu ge).’ S.: ‘Then virtue, it sems by your account, is (Tout’ estin ara, hȏs eoike, kata ton son logon aretȇ) ability to procure goods (dunamis tou porizesthai t’agatha).’ – M.: ‘I entirely agree, Socrates, with the view which you now take of the matter (Pantapasi moi dokei, ȏ Sȏkrates, houtȏs echein hȏs su nun hupolambaneis).’ (78b3-c2)
If Meno thought that Socrates was going to be happy with the definition of virtue thus reached, he was wrong. For Socrates asked: ‘You say virtue is the ability to procure goods (t’agatha phȇis hoion t’ einai porizesthai aretȇn einai;)?’ – Meno.: ‘I do (Egȏge).’ – Socrates: ‘And do you not mean by goods (Agatha de kaleis ouchi) such things as health and wealth (hoion hugieian te kaI plouton;)?’ – M.: ‘Yes, and I include the acquisition of gold and silver (Kai chrusion legȏ kai argurion ktasthai), and of state honours (kai timas en polei) and offices (kai archas).’ – S.: ‘Are there any things beside this sort, that you class as goods (Mȇ all’ atta legeis t’agatha ȇ ta toiauta;)?’ – M.: ‘No (Ouk), I refer only to everything of that sort (alla panta legȏ ta toiauta).’ – S.: ‘Very well (Eien); procuring gold and silver (chrusion de dȇ kai argurion porizesthai) is virtue (aretȇ estin), according to Meno (hȏs phȇsi Menȏn), the ancestral friend of the Great King (ho tou megalou basileȏs patrikos xenos).’ (78c4-d2)
I’ll stop Socrates at this point, for his emphasis on Meno’s view that procuring gold and silver is virtue deserves special attention. With the original wording of his definition – ‘virtue is (aretȇ einai) to desire what is beautiful (epithumounta tȏn kalȏn) and be able to procure it’ – Meno put his finger on the central concept of Socrates’ Palinode in the Phaedrus. Now Plato shows how far from the virtuous life depicted in that speech of Socrates Meno was prior to his transformation, how far he had to progress to become initiated. The Phaedrus ends with Socrates’ prayer to Pan and the local deities: ‘And may I count the wise man as rich (plousion de nomizoimi ton sophon); and may my pile of gold (to de chrusou plȇthos eiȇ moi) be of a size which only a man of moderate desires could bear or carry (hoson mȇte pherein mȇte agein dunaito allos ȇ ho sȏphrȏn).’
At the beginning of this article I quoted Lamb’s ‘Xenophon depicts him [i.e. Meno] in the Anabasis as greedy, self-seeking and treacherous. Plato shows us his pleasanter side.’ In fact, Plato appears to have been well aware of the darker side of Meno prior to his initiation. When he became the general leading a mercenary force sent by Aristippus of Larissa to assist Cyrus in his expedition against his brother Artaxerxes, the Great King, that darker side of him found a fertile ground in which to ‘flourish’. And one more thing is worth attention; at the time of this discussion Meno must have been well aware of Aristippus’ arming the mercenary army at Cyrus’ bidding and for Cyrus’ money. But at the time of his sojourn in Athens Meno’s eyes were focussed on gold and silver that could be procured by obtaining lucrative offices (archas, ‘governing positions’) in his city Larissa, in Thessaly.
Socrates continued: ‘Tell me, do you add to such procuring (poteron prostitheis toutȏi tȏi porȏi), Meno (ȏ Menȏn), that it is to be done justly (to dikaiȏs) and piously (kai hosiȏs), or is this indifferent to you (ȇ ouden soi diapherei), but even though a man procures these things unjustly (alla k’an adikȏs tis auta porizȇtai), do you call them virtue all the same (homoiȏs su auta aretȇn kaleis;)?’ – Meno: ‘Surely not (Ou dȇpou), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates).’ (78d3-6)
Meno must agree that justice, or temperance, or piety are necessary – each of which is a part of virtue, as they agreed earlier, at 73d-74a – if procuring of these goods can be called virtuous; without these it becomes vice (kakia). So Socrates tells him that he must face the same question – What is virtue? – if every action that is accompanied by a part of virtue is virtue: ‘Then answer me (Apokrinai toinun) again (palin) from the beginning (ex archȇs): what do both you and your associate [Gorgias] say that virtue is (ti phȇis aretȇn einai kai su kai ho hetairos sou; 79e5-6)?’
Meno responds with a harangue: ‘Socrates (Ō Sȏkrates), I used to be told (ȇkouon men egȏge), before I began to meet you (prin kai sungenesthai soi), that yours was just a case of being in doubt yourself (hoti su ouden allo ȇ autos te aporeis) and making others to doubt also (kai tous allous poieis aporein); and so now I find you are merely bewitching me with your spells and incantations (kai nun, hȏs ge moi dokeis, goȇteueis me kai pharmatteis kai atechnȏs katepaideis), which have reduced me to utter perplexity (hȏste meston aporias gegonenai). And if I am indeed to have my jest, I consider that both in your appearance and in other respects you are extremely like the flat torpedo sea-fish (kai dokeis moi pantelȏs, ei dei ti kai skȏpsai, homoiotatos einai to te eidos kai t’alla tautȇi tȇi plataiai narkȇi tȇi thalattiai); for it benumbs anyone who approaches and touches it (kai gar hautȇ ton aei plȇsiazonta kai haptomenon narkan poiei), and something of the sort is what I find you have done to me now (kai su dokeis moi nun eme toiouton ti pepoiȇkenai). For in truth (alȇthȏs gar) I feel my soul and my tongue quite benumbed (egȏge kai tȇn psuchȇn kai to stoma narkȏ), and I am at a loss what answer to give you (kai ouk echȏ hoti apokrinȏmai soi). And yet on countless occasions I have made abundant speeches on virtue (kaitoi muriakis ge peri aretȇs pampollous logous eirȇka) to various people (kai pros pollous) – and very good speeches they were (kai panu eu), so I thought (hȏs ge emautȏi edokoun) – but now (nun de) I cannot say one word as to what it is (oud’ hoti estin to parapan echȏ eipein). You are well advised, I consider (kai moi dokeis eu bouleuesthai), in not voyaging (ouk ekpleȏn enthende) or taking a trip away from home (oud’ apodȇmȏn); for if you went on like this as a stranger in any other city (ei gar xenos en allȇi polei toiauta poiois) you would be cast in prison as a magician (tach’ an hȏs goȇs apachtheiȇs).’ (79e7-80b7; the translation of the last phrase - tach’ an hȏs goȇs apachtheiȇs – I have taken from Jowett, for I am not sure that Lamb’s ‘you would very likely be taken up for a wizard’ does justice to Meno’s words. On the margin of my Oxford text I wrote Bluck’s note: ‘Apagein is the regular term for summary arrest.’)
Socrates replied: ‘If the torpedo (ei men hȇ narkȇ) is torpid itself (autȇ narkȏsa) while causing others to be torpid (houtȏ kai tous allous poiei narkan), I am like it (eoika autȇi), but not otherwise (ei de mȇ, ou). For it is not from any sureness in myself (ou gar euporȏn autos) that I cause others to doubt (tous allous poiȏ aporein): it is from being in more doubt than anyone else (pantos mallon egȏ aporȏn) that I cause doubt in others (kai tous allous poiȏ aporein). So now, for my part, I do not know what virtue is (kai nun peri aretȇs ho estin egȏ men ouk oida), whilst you (su mentoi), though perhaps you may have known before you came in touch with me (isȏs proteron men ȇidȇstha prin emou hapsasthai), are now as good as ignorant of it also (nun mentoi homoios ei ouk eidoti). But none the less I am willing to join you in examining it and inquiring into its nature (homȏs de ethelȏ meta sou skepsasthai kai suzȇtȇsai ho ti pote estin).’ (80c6-d4)
Meno ripostes sarcastically: ‘And how will you enquire (Kai tina tropon zȇtȇseis), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates), into that which you do not know (touto ho mȇ oistha to parapan ho ti estin;)? What will you put forth as the subject of enquiry (poion gar hȏn ouk oistha prothemenos zȇtȇseis;) And if, at the best, you hit upon it (ȇ ei kai hoti malista entuchois autȏi), how will you ever know (pȏs eisȇi) that this is the thing (hoti touto estin) which you did not know (ho su ouk ȇidȇstha;)?’ (80c9-d8; In translating Meno’s last entry I drew on Lamb’s and Jowett’s translations.)
With this sarcasm ends Plato’s description of Meno prior to the transformation which he is about to undergo. Plato highlights the depth of the transformation with the words with which Socrates ends the dialogue. He asks Meno: ‘Of that of which you are now persuaded (su de t’auta tauta haper autos pepeisai), you do persuade your host Anytus here (peithe kai ton xenon tonde Anuton)’ – a leading Athenian politician who joined Socrates and Meno in their discussion – ‘for if you can persuade him (hȏs ean peisȇis auton), you will do a good turn to the people of Athens also (estin hoti kai Athȇnaious onȇseis, 100c1-2).’
For the transformation of Meno that begins with Socrates unveiling to him the theory of recollection I refer to ‘Digression 2, the Meno’, where it is discussed. What I omitted to discuss there is the passage in which Socrates introduces the theory of recollection. I shall supply the omission, and then I shall turn to Xenophon’s Meno.
Socrates points to the eristic nature of Meno’s argument. He says that according to it ‘a man cannot inquire (hȏs ouk ara estin zȇtein anthrȏpȏ) either about what he knows (oute ho oide) or about what he does not know (oute ho mȇ oide). For he cannot inquire about what he knows (oute gar an ho ge oiden zȇtoi), because he knows it (oiden gar), and in that case is in no need of inquiry (kai ouden dei tȏi ge toioutȏi zȇtȇseȏs); nor again can he inquire about what he does not know (oute ho mȇ oiden), since he does not know about (oude gar oiden) what he is to inquire (hoti zȇtȇsei).’ (80e2-5)
Meno does not object to Socrates’ clarification of the argument, but he wants his approval of it: ‘Now (Oukoun) does it seem to you to be a good argument (kalȏs soi dokei legesthai ho logos houtos), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates)?’ – Socrates: ‘It does not (Ouk emoige).’ – Meno: ‘’Can you explain how not (Echeis legein hopȇi;)?’ – S.: ‘I can (Egȏge); for I have heard from wise men and women (akȇkoa gar andrȏn te kai gunaikȏn sophȏn) who told of things divine (peri ta theia pragmata) – M.: ‘What was it (Tina touton;)? And who were the speakers (kai tines hoi legontes)? – S.: ‘They were certain priests and priestesses who have studied so as to be able to give a reasoned account of their ministry (Hoi men legontes eisi tȏn hiereȏn te kai hiereiȏn hosois memelȇke peri hȏn metacheirizontai logon hoiois t’ einai didonai); and Pindar also (legei de kai Pindaros) and many another poet of heavenly gifts (kai alloi polloi tȏn poiȇtȏn, hosoi theioi eisin). As to their words (ha de legousi), they are these (tauti estin): mark now (alla skopei), if you judge them to be true (ei soi dokousin alȇthȇ legein). They say (phasi gar) that the soul of man (tȇn psuchȇn tou anthrȏpou) is immortal (einai athanaton), and at one time comes to an end (kai tote men teleutan), which is called dying (ho dȇ apothnȇiskein kalousi), and at another is born again (tote de palin gignesthai), but never perishes (apollusthai d’ oudepote). Consequently (dein dȇ dia tauta) one ought to live one’s life in the utmost holiness (hȏs hosiȏtata diabiȏnai ton bion).’ (81a1-b7)
In support of this guidance Socrates quotes a few lines of a poem, presumably from one of Pindar’s Dirges: ‘For from whosoever (hoisi gar an) “Persephone shall accept requital for ancient wrong (Persephona poinan palaiou pentheos dexetai), the souls of these she restores in the ninth year to the upper sun again (eis ton huperthen halion keinȏn enatȏi eteï andidoi psuchas palin); from these arise glorious kings and men of splendid might and surpassing wisdom (ek tan basilȇes agauoi kai sthenei kraipnoi sophiai te megistoi andres auxontai), and for all remaining time are they called holy heroes amongst mankind (es de ton loipon chronon hȇrȏes hagnoi pros anthrȏpȏn kaleuntai).’ (81b7-c4)
On the dating I propose – 405/404 B.C. for the composition of the Phaedrus, 402for the composition of the Meno – there can be little doubt that this passage (i.e. 81a1-c4) in the latter refers to the former. For in the former Socrates embarks on his first speech of love referring to ‘men and women of antiquity and wisdom (palaioi kai sophoi andres te kai gunaikes) who have written and spoken on this subject (peri autȏn eirȇkotes kai gegraphotes) … I must have heard something, perhaps from the excellent Sappho, or the wise Anacreon (dȇlon hoti tinȏn akȇkoa, ȇ pou Saphous tȇs kalȇs ȇ Anakreontos tou sophou, Phdr. 235b7-c4)’. The Meno passage is retrospectively enlarging on those Phaedran references. For in the Phaedrus those references explicitly refer only to the provenance of Socrates’ first speech on love. His second speech is prefaced only by reference to Stesichorus’ palinode; for he styles it as a retraction of the first speech. In the Meno passage he derives from the wise men and women of the past the immortality of the soul and its undergoing chains of deaths and rebirths – the two points that form the doctrinal backbone of Socrates’ second speech in the Phaedrus. This reinforcement was needed, for in the second part of the Phaedrus Plato was compelled to cast a shadow over Socrates’ second speech, with Socrates maintaining that the two principles of dialectic, the principle of conceptual collections and the reciprocal principle of conceptual divisions, were the only two points in his speeches worth serious consideration, while ‘the rest really was playfully done, by way of amusement (ta men alla tȏi onti paidiai pepaisthai, 265c8-9).
In ‘5b C. J. Rowe’s arguments for a late dating of the Phaedrus – the second part of the Phaedrus’ I discussed Plato’s casting a shadow over the first part of the Phaedrus, from which I quote: ‘As I was thinking of Rowe’s interpretation founded on Socrates’ suggestion at 265c-d ‘that the only fully serious aspect of the [second] speech was a demonstration of the method of collection and division’ – three passages in the second speech suddenly came to my mind, which might have incriminated Plato and Socrates for introducing new deities. In the first of these Socrates dismisses the traditional conception of the gods as irrational (246c7-d2), in the second he presents the Forms as beings the ‘closeness to which gives god his divinity’ (249c6), and in the third he presents two of these beings, the nature of beauty (tȇn tou kallous phusin) together with self-control (meta sȏphrosunȇs), as they are standing on a holy pedestal (en hagnȏi bathrȏi, 254b3-7). When Socrates says in the second part of the Phaedrus about his second speech that ‘it allowed us perhaps to grasp some truth, though may be also it took us in a wrong direction (265b6-8)’, doesn’t he refer to these three passages in particular? If so, why didn’t he leave those three passages out?
And so I began to think that Plato must have circulated the first part of the Phaedrus independently. Once in circulation, the passages for which he and Socrates could be incriminated could not be simply taken away. A new part had to be added, in which Socrates’ second speech could be played down as a mere paidia, a myth told for amusement.’
As far as Meno is concerned, the reference to the Phaedrus, as Socrates is guiding him towards his transformation, is essential. For Socrates’ second speech in the Phaedrus presents as thorough initiation into true philosophy, as Plato ever expressed in writing.
Debra Nails devotes the major part of her article on Meno to Xenophon’s view of him, which is very negative. Her account appears to be very thorough and objective, but in fact it thoroughly misrepresents Xenophon’s account; she leaves out the most important passage in Xenophon’s Anabasis. And she ends her article by misrepresenting the account of Diodorus Siculus, so that she can maintain that ‘in a departure from the outline of Xenophon’s narrative, Diodorus reports that Meno …’, thus putting in doubt the reliability of Xenophon’s account.
Nails writes: ‘When Cyrus was killed at the battle of Cunaxa, stranding the army deep in Persian territory, Meno offered to accompany messengers in an effort to persuade Ariaeus, a Persian who had led troops under Cyrus, to accept the crown from the army. Meno was the “intimate and gust-friend” of Ariaeus (Anabasis 2.1.5; cf. 2.6.28, that Ariaeus loved boys in general and Meno in particular); Meno then remained with Ariaeus after the messengers returned to the Greek army to announce that Ariaeus had declined the offer of the throne (2.2.1). Clearchus then met on friendly terms with the Persian leader Tissaphernes, who had opposed Cyrus. Following pledges of mutual friendship, Tissaphernes asked that Clearchus return, accompanied by the other generals and captains, for a public exchange of the names of spies and slanderers on both sides. Knowing that Meno had had meetings with Tissaphernes in the company of Ariaeus, Clearchus assumed that Meno was the slanderer. When five generals and twenty captains, accompanied by two hundred soldiers, reached Tissaphernes’ tent, the generals were seized within, the captains killed outside, and soldiers killed wherever they could be found, causing panic among the Greeks (2.5.24-34). Whereas Xenophon says the generals were beheaded (2.6.1), his account is modified in the case of Meno to the torture-death mentioned above (2.6.29). [Nails refers to the opening lines of her rendering of Xenophon: ‘It is Xenophon who depicts Meno as so thoroughly scurrilous as to deserve his end: whereas other generals were beheaded, Meno was tortured alive for a year before being tortured to death (Anab. 2.6.29).’]
Debra Nails’ ‘causing panic among the Greeks’ glosses over what happened in the Greek camp. Xenophon narrates: ‘Nicarchus the Arcadian reached the camp in flight, wounded in his belly and holding his bowels in his hands, and told all that had happened. Thereupon the Greeks, one and all, ran to their arms, panic-stricken and believing that the enemy would come at once against the camp. Not all of them came, however, but Ariaeus, Artaozus, and Mithradates, who had been most faithful friends of Cyrus, did come; and the interpreter of the Greeks said that with them he also saw and recognized Tissaphernes’ brother; furthermore, they were followed by other Persians, armed with breastplates, to the number of three hundred. As soon as the party had come near, they directed whatever Greek general or captain there might be to come forward, in order that they might deliver a message from the King. After this two generals went forth from the Greek lines under guard, Cleanor the Orchomenian and Sophaenetus the Stymphalian, and with them Xenophon the Athenian, who wished to learn the fate of Proxenus [Xenophon joined Cyrus’ expedition on the invitation of Proxenus the Boeotian.]; Cheirisophus, however, chanced to be away in a village in company with others who were getting provisions. And when the Greeks got within hearing distance, Ariaeus said: “Clearchus, men of Greece, inasmuch as he was shown perjuring himself and violating the truce, has received his deserts and is dead, but Proxenus and Menon, because they gave information about his plotting, are held in high honour. For yourselves, the King demands your arms; for he says that they belong to him, since they belonged to Cyrus, his slave.”
To this the Greeks replied as follows, Cleanor the Orchomenian acting as spokesman: “Ariaeus, you basest of men, and all you others who were friends of Cyrus, are you not ashamed, either before gods or men, that, after giving us your oaths to count the same people friends and foes as we did, you have betrayed us, joining hands with Tissaphernes, that most godless and villainous man, and that you have not only destroyed the very men to whom you were then making oath, but betrayed the rest of us and are come with our enemies against us?” Ariaeus said: “But it was shown that long ago Clearchus was plotting against Tissaphernes and Orontas and all of us who are with them.” Upon this Xenophon spoke as follows: “Well, then, if Clearchus was really transgressing the truce in violation of his oaths, he has his deserts, for it is right that perjurers should perish; but as for Proxenus and Menon, since they are your benefactors and our generals, send them hither, for it is clear that, being friends of both parties, they will endeavour to give both you and ourselves the best advice.” To this the barbarians made no answer, but, after talking for a long time with one another, they departed.’ (Anab. 2.5.33-42)
Debra Nails ends her article with the words: ‘In a departure from the outline of Xenophon’s narrative, Diodorus reports that Meno was spared the beheading because, having quarreled with the other commanders, Tissaphernes thought him ready to betray the Greeks (14.27.2). Cf. the frr. of Ctes., which do not present Meno as the complete scoundrel of Xenophon’s account.)’
Diodorus says: Tissaphernȇs de tous stratȇgous dȇsas apesteile pros Artaxerxȇn: ekeinos de tous men allous aneile, Menȏna de monon aphȇken: edokei gar monos houtos stasiazȏn pros tous summachous prodȏsein tous Hellȇnas. I translate: ‘‘Tissafernes, having bound the generals [including Meno], sent them to Artaxerxes; he [i.e. the King, not Tissaphernes] destroyed the other generals, and only Meno he released; for he was the only one, who, being at variance with the allies, appeared to betray [prodȏsein, future infinitive: ‘to be going to betray’] the Greeks’.
Artaxerxes obviously hoped that all or at least some of the generals [apart from Clearchus, whom Tissaphernes personally and most heinously betrayed] would be ready to appeal to the Greek army to give up their weapons, as Artaxerxes demanded in the first place, and come ‘to his door’ asking for his favours. This is not an unfounded speculation. Ariaeus said, reporting the message from the King, that Clearchus, ‘as he was shown perjuring himself and violating the truce, has received his deserts and is dead’. The hope was, obviously, that Clearchus was to be the only one to be put to death; the other two generals, together with Proxenus and Meno, were to help persuade the Greeks to disarm. In the end it was only Meno who was ready to assist them in this way, Proxenus, though a friend of Meno, obviously refused to do so (Anab. 2.6.1-30).
Debra Nails does not dispute the date of Meno’s death, 400 B.C., which corresponds to Xenophon’s information that Meno died, being tortured for a year, until he was tortured to death. Why was this special treatment meted to Meno? Diodorus reports that the King released him in the hope that he would betray the Greeks. Where was he to go but back to Tissaphernes? Until the moment when the Greek army under the leadership of Cheirissophon entered the mountains where Tissaphernes and his army did not dare to follow, for it was the land of the wild and belligerent Carduchi, i.e. until the moment when Tissaphernes lost all hope of being able to enforce the surrender of the Greek army, Meno could ‘hopefully’ still be of use. But the moment when all was ‘lost’, Tissaphernes realized what a disastrous course of action he undertook at the behest of Meno. For Clearchus promised to him faithful allegiance, allegiance of well-disciplined Greek army at his service. Someone had to pay for the disaster. The culprit was obvious, and at hand.
The relevance of Xenophon’s narrative for the dating of the Meno is obvious. For how could Plato write the Meno after Meno’s betrayal became known? We may presume that it became known all over Greece by late summer 401 B.C. In making this assumption I have in mind what Clearchus said to Phalinus, the King’s messenger, after Cyrus fell in battle: ‘In the sight of the gods, give us whatever advice you think is best and most honourable (su oun pros theȏn sumbouleuson hȇmin ho ti soi dokei kalliston kai ariston einai), advice which will bring you honour in future time when it is reported in this way (kai ho soi timȇn oisei eis ton epeita chronon anangellomenon): “Once on a time Phalinus, when he was sent by the King (hoti Phalinos pote pemphtheis para basileȏs) to order the Greeks to surrender their arms (keleusȏn tous Hellȇnas ta hopla paradounai), gave them, when they sought his counsel , the following advice (xumbouleuomenois xunebouleusen autois tade).” And you know (oistha de) that any advice you may give will certainly be reported in Greece (hoti anankȇ legesthai en tȇi Helladi ha an xumbouleusȇis).’ (‘Anabasis 2.1.17).
In Plato’s Crito there is an indication that both Plato and Socrates had learnt about Meno’s betrayal. When Crito visits Socrates in prison, he suggests Thessaly as one of places where he would be welcome id he escaped. The impersonated Laws of Athens say to Socrates: ‘Or you will go to Crito’s friends in Thessaly (hȇxeis de eis Thessalian para tous xenous tous Kritȏnos); for there great disorder and lawlessness prevail (ekei gar dȇ pleistȇ ataxia kai akolasia, 53d2-4)’. A very different picture of Thessaly from the one Socrates gave in his first entry in the Meno (quoted earlier in this post), and then again towards the end of the dialogue. Discussing the question whether virtue can be defined as knowledge, Socrates asks Meno: ‘Now you must answer me (su de moi eipe): are there not good and honourable men among your people also (ou kai par’ humin eisin kaloi k’agathoi andres;) – Meno: ‘Certainly (Panu ge).’ – Socrates: ‘Well then (Ti oun;), are they willing to put themselves forward as teachers of the young (ethelousin houtoi parechein hautous didaskalous tois neois), and avow that they are teachers (kai homologein didaskaloi te einai) and that virtue is to be taught (kai didakton aretȇn;)?’ – Meno: No, no, Socrates, I assure you (Ou ma ton Dia, ȏ Sȏkrates): sometimes you may hear them refer to it as teachable (alla tote men an autȏn akousais hȏs didakton), but sometimes as not (tote de hȏs ou)’. (95a6-b5) … Socrates: ‘And are you aware (Oistha de) that not only you and other political folk (hoti ou monon soi te kai tois allois tois politikois) are in two minds as to whether virtue is to be taught (touto tote men dokei didakton, tote d’ ou), but Theognis the poet says, you remember, the very same thing (alla kai Theognin ton poiȇtȇn oisth’ hoti t’auta tauta legei;)?’ (95c9-d1)
If in these corona virus times someone has a possibility to photocopy and send to me the Fragments of Ctesias, to which Nails refers at the end of her article, I would be very grateful.