317 (English, original)

An original translation

“But I don’t put any stock in the method used by all these men, because I don’t think they achieved what they wanted. It never escaped the powerful people in the cities what these disguises were in service of. Of course, the common people barely notice anything and just recite the handful of things the powerful tell them. Now, running away, but not managing it and getting caught red-handed is really stupid and makes people even more hostile, so it’s not even worth trying. They just end up thinking that a guy like that is a crook on top of everything else. So, I’ve gone the totally opposite way: I admit that I’m a sophist and educate people, and I find that making the admission is better protection than denial. I’ve taken other precautions besides this, too, so that, god willing, nothing awful happens to me because I admit to being a sophist. What’s more, I’ve spent quite a few years in the business, and, as you can see, I’m pretty old: there’s not a single man here too old for me to be his father. That’s why I’d prefer to make my speech about these things, with your permission, in front of everyone in the house.”
I suspected he wanted to put on a show in front of Prodicus and Hippias and bask in the fact that we had come as big fans of his. I said, “OK, why don’t we call over Prodicus and Hippias and the others they’re with to come and listen to us?”
“By all means,” said Protagoras.
“If it suits you,” Callias added, “shall we draw up the chairs council-style, so you can have the discussion sitting down?”
We thought that was a good idea. Since we were so glad that we were going to get to listen to wise men, we helped with the chairs and couches ourselves. We set up by Hippias since the chairs were around him. Meanwhile, Callias and Alcibiades came together leading Prodicus – they’d managed to get him out of bed – and his entourage.
When we were all sitting down together, Protagoras resumed, “Now, since everyone’s here, could you repeat what you told me a moment ago on the young man’s behalf.”

7 Responses to 317 (English, original)

  1. Nakul says:

    1. Re: ἐγὼ οὖν τούτων τὴν ἐναντίαν ἅπασαν ὁδὸν ἐλήλυθα, since the English way/route/road/direction can work for ‘course of action’ just like ὁδὸν here, how about: ‘I’ve gone the other way instead’. Or ‘I’ve taken the opposite road/route’…

    2. ‘Happy’ might be a bit ott for ἅσμενοι in that context. Maybe ‘pleased’, or ‘glad’, or perhaps ‘excited’?

  2. Adam Beresford says:

    I think I posted this in the wrong place:

    A few minor things:

    (1) You seem to have left out the phrase ‘καὶ τοῦ ἐπιχειρήματος’, or at any rate dealing with it by putting the word ‘trying’ earlier in the sentence is not really enough. Notice that the ‘καὶ’ has a particular force here: it means “[this suggests] it’s really stupid EVEN to try. Just like in English “If you’re going to get caught, it’s not EVEN worth trying.”

    (2) ‘καὶ γὰρ καὶ’ can’t just mean ‘and’. It must be something more like “I mean, after all, let’s not forget I’ve got a good few years under my belt in total” That’s an exaggeration. But you certainly need to do something more with the particles here.

    (3) δυσμενεστέρους isn’t quite ‘angry’. ‘Hostile’.

    (4) ‘περὶ τούτων ἁπάντων ἐναντίον τῶν ἔνδον ὄντων τὸν λόγον ποιεῖσθαι’ You translate ‘to make a speech about all this’. That makes it sound like P is going to make a speech about the very things he’s just been talking about (i.e., sophists in disguise), which he isn’t. ‘τούτων’ here must refer back to the stated topic of the planned discussion – i.e., what Hippocrates is going to learn, and what P teaches. Also, note the article: ‘THE speech’, i.e. “I want to have THE discussion” (i.e., the one we talked about earlier). Also, it is almost certain that ‘ἁπάντων’ goes with the FOLLOWING phrase, not the preceding one. That is a perfectly standard word order for Plato, and gives the much better sense, ‘[rather than speaking in private] I’d like to have the discussion about this in front of EVERYONE who’s here…’ The position of ἁπάντων, at the head of its phrase, gives it the emphasis P wants – like English “Not in private: in front of EVERYONE.”

    (5) ‘council chamber’? That sounds really odd. Is your idea that Plato isusing an inappropriate word facetiously? I think the word can easily just mean a ‘circle of seats’.

    (6) αὐτοί τε ἀντιλαβόμενοι You’ve left the αὐτοί out of your translation. It must mean ‘we ourselves grabbed the chairs’. If that doesn’t make any sense, then there is a problem with the text, but I think Socrates means that THEY did it rather than the servants.

    • Dhananjay says:

      ad 1-4, 6: Thanks for those points. I’ve certainly missed some important nuances there.
      ad 5: I have a little hypothesis about the occasional use of seemingly inappropriate political metaphor/diction in the Protagoras. It comes out most clearly in Hippias’ speech at 337c-38b, but there are hints of it elsewhere in the dialogue and this is one of them. The recurrent theme is that the ‘convention’ at Callias’ house is more than just an aristocratic get-together like the one in the Symposium: it’s a genuinely political context. So Hippias is right: they are in the headquarters (πρυτανεῖον) of the intellectual elite, but in the absence of democratic principles like παρρησία, this raises the difficult problem of who should moderate or oversee the discussion. Among other things, this demonstrates the tension between valuing egalitarianism and expertise, both of which Protagoras has defended in his great speech. So I do think that συνέδριον is a conscious choice, whether facetious or not. We might compare Tht. 173d2, the only other instance of the word in Plato (according to the TLG), where the context is explicitly political.

    • Dhananjay says:

      I do seem to have translated ἁπάντων with the following phrase, so I think ‘all this’ was my attempt to capture the plural τούτων. Do you think ‘make my speech about this…’ will suffice? It seems like the ‘this’ is pretty ambiguous without some kind of supplement (he must mean about teaching people, given what’s to come and what he’s said right before.).

  3. Adam Beresford says:

    The sunedrion idea is interesting and plausible. Sure, why not.

    The only problem is the slight non-sequitur you introduce into the English. A ‘council’ isn’t obviously something you can sit on. But a ‘sunedrion’ (a ‘seat-together’) even if it has a political sense, ALSO is obviously something you can sit on. Hence “so that you can sit down…” The verb adds to that. kataskeuazein means to ‘set up’ as in, especially, to set up a piece of furniture or equipment. ‘Prepare a council’ sounds different.

    So your task is to do all this at once. How about ‘shall we set up the chairs council-style?’ or something like that…

    I think “make my speech about this” is fine.The ‘my’ is a legitimate acknowledgment of the article. Maybe just check on uses of the phrase, though, with poieisthai. My suspicion is that it suggests ‘holding a talk/discussion’ rather than ‘making a speech’. I could well be wrong and don’t have TLG to hand.

    As for ‘this’, a rule of thumb is, when the pronoun seems a bit thin in English, try adding ‘things’ – perfectly legitimate for the Greek neuter plural:

    “I’d prefer to discuss these things in front of everyone”

    “I’d really rather give my speech on these questions in front everyone who’s here”

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