A friend learns that Socrates met Protagoras: ‘And you’ve just come from talking to him (Kai arti ara ekeinȏi sungegonȏs hȇkeis)?’ The friend’s ‘talking to him’ stands in Taylor’s translation for ekeinȏi sungegonȏs, which actually means ‘getting together with’; sungegonȏs is a perfect participle of sungignesthai, which is composed of the preposition sun, which expresses ‘togetherness’, and of the verb gignesthai, which means ‘come into being’; sungignesthai often stands for the activity that takes place in this ‘coming-to-being-together’; thus sungignesthai gunaiki means ‘having sexual intercourse with a woman’. Socrates answers to his friends’ question ‘And you’ve just come from “coming-together” with him’: ‘Yes indeed (Panau ge), I said a lot to him (polla kai eipȏn ‘having said a lot’) and he to me (kai akousas, ‘and heard’).’ – Just as sungignesthai means what happens when people come together, so sunousia means what happens when people are together. Thus for the sophists it means being together with those who will pay them for their being with them (Xenophon, Memorabilia I. vi. 11-12). But for Socrates and his friends sunousia means simply ‘being together’. The friend: ‘Well, if there’s nothing else you have to do, why don’t you tell us about your conversation (Ti oun ou diȇgȇsȏ hȇmin tȇn sunousian, ei mȇ se ti kȏluei, 309d5-310a3, tr. Taylor)? The friends’ ti oun ou diȇgȇsȏ hȇmin tȇn sunousian is much more than Taylor’s ‘why don’t you tell us about your conversation’; it means ‘why don’t you take us through your being together’; it anticipates Socrates’ long and demanding narrative. Socrates begins by explaining how it happened that he got together with Protagoras (ekeinȏi sungegonȏs); his sunousia with Protagoras has as a prelude.
Socrates: ‘Last night (Tȇs gar parelthousȇs nuktos tautȇsi), just before daybreak (eti batheos orthrou), Hippocrates began knocking very loudly on the door with a stick (Hippokratȇs tȇn thuran tȇi baktȇriai panu sphodra ekroue), and when someone opened it (kai epeidȇ autȏi aneȏixe tis) he came straight in in a great hurry (euthus eisȏ ȇiei epeigomenos), calling out loudly (kai tȇi phȏnȇi mega legȏn), “Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates), are you awake (egrȇgoras) or asleep (ȇ katheudeis)? … Protagoras has come (Prȏtagoras hȇkei)” … I knew him to be a spirited and excitable character (Kai egȏ gignȏskȏn autou tȇn andreian kai tȇn ptoiȇsin), so I said “What’s all this to you (Ti ouns soi, ȇn d’ egȏ, touto)? Protagoras hasn’t done you any injury, has he (mȏn ti se adikei Prȏtagoras)?” He laughed (Kai hos gelasas). “By havens, he has (Nȇ tous theous, ephȇ), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates). He is the only man who is wise (hoti ge monos esti sophos), but he doesn’t make me wise too (eme de ou poiei).” “O yes, he will (Alla nai ma Dia),” I said (ephȇn d’ egȏ); “if you give him money (an autȏi didȏis argurion) and use a little persuasion (kai peithȇis ekeinon), he’ll make you wise as well (poiȇsei kai se sophon).” “I wish to God,” he said (Ei gar, ȇ d’ hos, ȏ Zeu kai theoi), “that that was all there was to it (en toutȏi eiȇ). I’d use every penny of my own (hȏs out’ an tȏn emȏn epilipoimi ouden), and of my friends too (oute tȏn philȏn). But it’s just that (all’ auta tauta) that I’ve come to you about now (kai nun hȇkȏ para se), so that you can put in a word for me with him (hina huper emou dialechthȇis autȏi). First of all, I’m too young (egȏ gar hama men kai neȏteros eimi), and then I’ve never seen Protagoras (hama de oude heȏraka Prȏtagoran pȏpote) nor heard him speak (oud’ akȇkoa ouden); for I was still a child (eti gar pais ȇ) when he came here before (hote to prȏton epedȇmȇse). But you know (Alla gar), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates), everybody speaks highly of the man (pantes ton andra epainousin), and says that (kai phasin) he’s a wonderfully clever speaker (sophȏtaton einai legein). Why don’t we go (alla ti ou badizomen) to him (par’ auton), so as to catch him at home (hina endon katalabȏmen). He’s staying (kataluei d’), so I’ve heard (hȏs egȏ ȇkousa), with Callias (para Kalliai) the son of Hipponicus (tȏi Hipponikou). Do let’s go (all’ iȏmen).” “Don’t let’s go there yet,“ I said (Kai egȏ eipon Mȇpȏ, agathe, ekeise iȏmen); “it’s still early (prȏi gar estin). Let’s go out into the courtyard here (alla deuro exanastȏmen eis tȇn aulȇn), and take a turn to pass the time (kai periiontes autou diatripsȏmen) till it gets light (heȏs an phȏs genȇtai), and then let’s go”(eita iȏmen).’ (310a8-311a5, tr. Taylor) – Socrtates’ sunousia with Protagoras has as a prelude his sunousia with Hippocrates.
Socrates: ‘Then we got up, went out into the courtyard and strolled about (Meta tauta anastantes eis tȇn aulȇn periȇimen). In order to test Hippocrates (kai egȏ apopeirȏmenos tou Hippokratous tȇs rȏmȇs) I began to examine him (dieskopun auton) and ask him questions (kai ȇrȏtȏn, 311b1-2, tr. Taylor).’ In his translation, Taylor failed to grapple with the concept of rȏmȇ, which is often used by Plato in different contexts. Fridrich Ast in his Lexicon Platonicum renders its meaning by Latin terms robur, vis, vires, animi firmitas, constantia. LSJ connects it with the verb rȏomai: ‘move with speed or violence’, ‘rush on’. In the Phaedrus Socrates derives erȏs from rȏmȇ (238c). It is the strength of Hippocrates’ resolve and its direction, what he is really aiming for, that Socrates is going to test by examining and questioning him.
Socrates began by asking Hippocrates what he wanted to become as a result of paying money to Protagoras, as for example, if he paid money to Hippocrates, his namesake, he would become a doctor. After some more similar examples Socrates asked: ‘What other name (ti onoma allo ge) do we hear applied to Protagoras (legomenon peri Prȏtagorou akouomen)?’ … Hippocrates: ‘A sophist is what they call him (sophistȇn dȇ toi onomazousi ge).’ … Socrates: ‘And what do you yourself (autos de dȇ) hope to become as a result of your association with Protagoras (hȏs tis genȇsomenos erchȇi para ton Prȏtagoran)?’ … Hippocrates, blushing (eruthriasas): ‘If it’s like what we said before (Ei men ti tois emprosthen eoiken), then obviously (dȇlon hoti) I should be hoping to become a sophist (sophistȇs genȇsomenos).’ – Socrates: ‘Wouldn’t you be ashamed (Su de ouk an aischunoio) to present yourself to people as a sophist (eis tous Hellȇnas sauton sophistȇn parechȏn?’ – Hippocrates: ‘Of course I should (Nȇ ton Dia), if I’m to be quite frank (eiper ge ha dianooumai chrȇ legein).’ Socrates helps him out, suggesting that he would go to Protagoras ‘simply for the educational value of his teaching (epi paideiai), as an amateur and a gentleman should’ (hȏs ton idiȏtȇn kai ton eleutheron prepei). – Hippocrates: ‘Exactly (Panu men oun, 311e1-312b5, tr. Taylor)’.
When they reached this point, Socrates took Hippocrates to task: ‘Do you realize (Oistha), then (oun), what you are going to do (ho melleis nun prattein) … going to entrust your soul to the care of a man (hoti melleis tȇn psuchȇn sautou paraschein therapeusai andri) who is, as you agree, a sophist (hȏs phȇis, sophistȇi, 312b7-c1)? … do you realize (oistha) the danger that you are going to expose yourself to in taking a chance like this (eis hoion tina kindunon erchȇi hupothȇsȏn tȇn psuchȇn)? If you had to entrust your physical health to someone (ȇ ei men to sȏma epitrepein se edei tȏi), for good or ill (diakinduneuonta ȇ chrȇston auto genesthai ȇ ponȇron), you would way up the matter very carefully (polla an perieskepsȏ eit’ epitrepteon eite ou), and call on your friends and relations for advice (kai eis sumboulȇn tous te philous an parekaleis kai tous oikeious) and take a long time to decide (skopoumenos hȇmeras suchnas). But now in a matter which concerns something which you value more highly than your body (ho de peri pleionos tou sȏmatos hȇgȇi), I mean your soul (tȇn psuchȇn), on whose condition your whole fate depends for good or ill (kai en hȏi pant’ estin ta sa ȇ eu ȇ kakȏs prattein, chrȇstou ȇ ponȇrou autou genomenou), you haven’t sought the advice of your father or your brother or of any of us who are your friends (peri de toutou oute tȏi patri oute tȏi adelphȏi epekoinȏsȏ oute hȇmȏn tȏn hetairȏn oudeni) as to whether or not to entrust your soul to this stranger who has just arrived (eit’ epitrepteon eite kai ou tȏi aphikomenȏi toutȏi xenȏi tȇn sȇn psuchȇn, 313a1-b2) … You call him a sophist (sophistȇn d’ onomazeis), and it turns out that you don’t even know what a sophist is (ton de sophistȇn hoti pot’ estin phainȇi agnoȏn, 313c1-2, tr. Taylor).’
Follows a discussion on the nature of sophists, which Socrates closes with the words: ‘If you buy food or drink (sitia kai pota men priamenon) from a pedlar (para tou kapȇlou) or a merchant (kai emporou) you can carry it away in another container (exestin en allois angeiois apopherein [Adam notes: ‘i.e. other than our own bodies’]), and before you actually eat or drink it (kai prin dexasthai auta eis to sȏma pionta ȇ phagonta) you can set it down at home (katathemenon oikade exestin) and call in an expert and take his advice (sumbouleusasthai, parakaleusanta ton epaionta) on what you ought to eat (hoti te edesteon) or drink (ȇ poteon) and what you ought not (kai hoti mȇ), and how much (kai hoposon), and when you ought to take it (kai hopote). So there is no great risk in buying (hȏste en tȇi ȏnȇi ou megas ho kindunos). But you can’t carry learning away in a jar (mathȇmata de ouk estin en allȏi angeiȏi apenenkein); you have to put down the price (all’ anankaion katathenta tȇn timȇn) and take the learning into your soul right away (to mathȇma en autȇi tȇi psuchȇi labonta kai mathonta). By the time you go away you have already assimilated it, and got the harm or the benefit (apienai ȇ beblammenon ȇ ȏphelȇmenon). So let’s consider this (tauta oun skopȏmetha) along with our elders (kai meta tȏn presbuterȏn hȇmȏn); for we are still too young (hȇmeis gar eti neoi) to settle such an important matter (hȏste tosouton pragma dielesthai). But now (nun mentoi), let’s go and listen to Protagoras as we set out to do (hȏsper hȏrmȇsamen, iȏmen kai akousȏmen tou andros), and afterwards let’s consult some others (epeita akousantes kai allois anakoinȏsȏmetha). For Protagoras isn’t there alone (kai gar ou monos Prȏtagoras autothi estin); Hippias of Elis is there too (alla kai Hippias ho Êleios), and I think Prodicus of Ceos as well (oimai de kai Prodikon ton Keion), and many other wise men (kai alloi polloi kai sophoi, 314a3-c2, tr. Taylor).’
And so the two came to the door of Callias’ house, but they didn’t go straight in. Socrates: ‘When we got to the doorway (epeidȇ de en tȏi prothurȏi egenometha), we stood there (epistantes) talking about some subject (peri tinos logou dielegometha) which had come up on the way (hos hȇmin kata tȇn hodon enepesen). As we didn’t want to break off the discussion (hin’ oun mȇ atelȇs genoito), but preferred to reach a conclusion and then go in (alla diaperanamenoi houtȏs esioimen), we stood in the doorway (stantes en tȏi prothurȏi) talking (dielegometha) until we reached agreement (heȏs sunȏmologȇsamen allȇlois).’
This is a very important point, for it gave Socrates an opportunity to test the mettle of Hippocrates, his rȏmȇ: it was more important for him to finish the logos they discussed than knock on the door straightaway. In fact, the whole of Protagoras can be viewed as a test to which Socrates subjects his young friend, the test which begins with Socrates’ ‘In order to test (kai egȏ apopeirȏmenos) Hippocrates’ (tou Hippokratous) resolve and determination (tȇs rȏmȇs) I began to examine him (dieskopun auton) and ask him questions (kai ȇrȏtȏn, 311b1-2)’, and ends with their leaving the house of Callias together: ‘After saying these things (Taut’ eipontes) and listening to these things (kai akousantes) we left (apȇimen)’. On the margin of my Oxford edition I wrote Nestle’s note ‘Sokrates und Hippokrates, auf welch letzteren nur akousantes past’. The plural refers to both Socrates and Hippocrates; eipontes applies only to Socrates, akousantes [‘listening’] to both. Nestle clearly saw that these last words refer to Socrates’ (and Hippocrates’) sunousia with Protagoras (and the others) in its entirety. Not so C. C. W. Taylor, who ‘translates’ Socrates’ taut’ eipontes kai akousantes apȇimen: ‘With that we left’, which seems to refer merely to the closing exchange between Protagoras and Socrates.
There are two important references to the Phaedrus in this prelude to Socrates’ sunousia with Protagoras. Firstly, at 314b5-6 Socrates says ‘we are still too young (hȇmeis gar eti neoi) to settle such an important matter (hȏste tosouton pragma dielesthai)’; dielesthai is the aorist infinitive of diairein, divide or distinguish; here we encounter Socrates’ notion of conceptual ‘divisions’, ‘distinctions’, of which he speaks in Phaedrus 265d-266a, divisions by virtue of which he differentiated the two types of Eros in the dialogue. Secondly, when Socrates says that he and Hippocrates stood in the doorway (epeidȇ de en tȏi prothurȏi egenometha) discussing some discourse (peri tinos logou dielegometha) which had come up on the way (hos hȇmin kata tȇn hodon enepesen) so that it would not become incomplete (hin’ oun mȇ atelȇs genoito), this points to Phaedrus 264c2-4, where Socrates says: ‘any discourse ought to be constructed like a living creature (dein panta logon hȏsper zȏion sunestanai), with its own body, as it were (sȏma ti echonta auton hautou); it must not lack either head or feet (hȏste mȇte akephalon onta mȇte apoun, tr. R. Hackforth)’. The art of dialectic outlined in the Phaedrus is going to be powerfully displayed in Socrates’ narrative of his sunousia with Protagoras in the Protagoras.