316 (English, original)

An original translation

I couldn’t make out what they were discussing from outside, though I was really eager to listen to Prodicus. He’s a genius, I think, a phenomenon. Unfortunately, his voice is so deep that the room rumbled, making his words indistinct. As soon as we had made it inside, the beautiful Alcibiades – as you say, and I have to agree he is – and Critias the son of Callaeschrus came in after us. Once we were inside, we spent a little time taking a good look about, but then, we went up to Protagoras and I said, “Protagoras, you’re the man Hippocrates here and I are after.”
“Would you rather talk in private or in front of others?”
“It makes no difference to us. Listen to why we’ve come and you can decide.”
“So, why have you come?”
“Hippocrates here is a local, Apollodorus’ son, from an influential and prosperous family, and a match for any his age in talent. I get the impression he wants to become a public figure in the city, and he thinks the best way is by spending time with you. So what do you think now? Should we discuss this in private or with others present?”
“You’re right, for my sake, to be cautious, Socrates. A foreigner who visits powerful cities and persuades the best of their young men to abandon the company of all others – from one’s own family or another, young or old – and to spend time with himself instead in order to be the better for it – a man who does these things has to be careful. After all, doing so provokes no small amount of envy not to mention ill-will and plotting. I claim that sophistry is ancient, but because its earliest practitioners were afraid of the stigma, they tried to disguise it and pass it off as something else. Some did so as poetry, like Homer and Hesiod and Simonides, and others as mystical rites and prophecy, like the followers of Orpheus and Musaeus. I’ve heard some even pass it off as athletics, like Iccus from Tarentum as well as Herodicus the Selymbrian (an ex-Megarian), who’s still around and a sophist nonpareil. Your own Agathocles used music as a cover, although he was a great sophist, not to mention Pythocleides from Ceos and lots more. All of them, as I say, have used such professions as screens out of a fear of envy.”

6 Responses to 316 (English, original)

  1. Nakul says:

    1. You use ‘really’ quite often as an intensifier — it sounds a little adolescent to my ear (as in, ‘he’s, like, really cool’ etc). In this place, I wonder if it quite gets πάσσοφος. You want the (perhaps intentionally hyperbolic) suggestion of omniscience (which would go with the subsequent imputation of god-likeness in θεῖος). I’d suggest ‘genius’ or maybe ‘super-smart’ for πάσσοφος. For θεῖος, what about ‘sensation’? Or ‘phenomenon’? Or ‘superstar’? Or ‘legend’, but that might be too British.

    2. ‘Baritone’ somewhere in that sentence is tempting to given the etymological link to βαρύτητα? And a smaller word for ἀσαφῆ: unclear? garbled?

    3. I quite like Jowett’s ‘Alcibiades the beautiful’ — it sounds right to me even in an American accent. I propose: ‘Alcibiades the beautiful –- as you’d have it, and I must agree –‘.

  2. Nakul says:

    4. You’ve forgotten to close the inverted commas after “Protagoras, you’re the man Hippocrates here and I are after.
    5. ‘I believe’ rather than ‘I think’ — the latter implies too much thinking and is more appropriate for οἴεταί later in the sentence than for δοκεῖ.
    6. ἐλλόγιμος … ἐν τῇ πόλει is ambiguous, I suppose, between ‘political eminence’ and ‘fame’ more generally, but I wonder if ‘fame’ is not specific enough, in that it is compatible with notoriety? I prefer ’eminence in the city’…
    7. ‘You’ve taken the proper precaution on my behalf, Socrates’ sounds stilted to my ear. ‘You’re right, for my sake, to be chary/prudent/cautious’, perhaps?

  3. Nakul says:

    8. ‘envy plus ill-will and plotting’: plus sounds odd to me. Something like ‘not to mention’ seems more natural.
    9. I wonder if ‘causing offen[c]e’ is an improvement on ‘odium’. The LSJ entry for ἐπαχθὲς suggests it runs the gamut of meaning from ‘poor taste’ to ‘odium’, as Jowett and the Loeb render it. But given the context — i.e. the serious costs of being seen to be a sophist — it seems something preserving the link with ‘weight/burden’ (i.e. millstone or albatross around one’s neck) is called for. I like odium myself, but equally, opprobrium, or stigma? Or obloquy!
    10. I don’t think you can just ‘pass [something] off’ full stop. I’d add ‘as something else’ to that sentence.

  4. Dhananjay says:

    ad 1. A quick scan of NYT headlines with intensive ‘really’ seems to prove that it’s sometimes merely colloquial (see, e.g., this Tom Friedman piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/opinion/15friedman.html), and not necessarily adolescent. But the association is unwanted, so I’ll change it.
    ‘Genius’ is good.
    ad 2. The point of ‘indistinct’ is to make the link (surely implied by Plato) to Prodicus’ tedious distinctions that get parodied later on.
    ad 3. Your version doesn’t quite work for me, but it’s better than what I have.
    ad 4. Thanks
    ad 5. δοκεῖ μοὶ is actually stronger than οἴεται, which is often something like ‘suspect’. Perhaps “I get the impression” is a good compromise?
    ad 6. How about ‘become a public figure’?
    ad 7. Of those, I like ‘You’re right, for my sake, to be cautious’.
    ad 8. Point taken.
    ad 9. ‘Stigma’ is good.
    ad 10. Will do.

  5. Bill Walderman says:

    ellogimos einai — wants to rise to a position of prominence?

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