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PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE.
An Athenian GUEST, CLINIAS A Cretan, And
[1.] Clinias. According to our agreement, we have all of us, guest, come correctly, being three, I, and you, and Megillus here, to consider the question of intellect, in what manner it is meet to go through in a discourse that, which we say belongs to the constitution of man, (and which,)1 when it has been thought upon, causes2 it to be in the best state with regard to itself,3 as far as it is possible for man to possess it. For, as we assert, we have gone through all the other matters, that existed, relating to the laying down of laws. But that, which is of the greatest moment to discover and to speak of, namely, by learning what will a mortal man become wise, this we have neither spoken of nor discovered. Now then let us endeavour not to leave this behind. For we should nearly do that imperfectly, for the sake of which we have all rushed onwards, with the view of making clear (every thing) 4 from the beginning to the end.
Athenian Guest. You speak well, friend Clinias. But I
1 I have translated, as if iS re had dropt out before 'orav— * 3 I have adopted iroiii, found in the best MS. Z., in lieu of vouiv: which I cannot understand; nor could, I think, Ficinus, who has omitted it in his version, adopted in part by Taylor, " quo intellecto, humanus habitus optime se, quantum natura fert, ad prudentiam habet." From which however it is easy to see that he found in his MS. 7rp6c iavrr/u, of which irpoc 0p6vij<riv would be the interpretation.
'I have translated, as if travra had dropt out before woiiiaovrsQ. Ficinus avoids the difficulty by thus abridging two sentences into one, "cujus aperiendi gratia hucusque profecti sumus."
think you will now hear a strange discourse, and on the other hand in a certain respect not strange. For many, who meet us in life,1 tell2 the same story, that the human race will be neither blessed nor happy. Follow me, then, and see whether 3 to you I likewise appear together with them to speak correctly on a point like this.3 I assert then that it is not possible for men, except a few, to be blessed and happy; 4I limit this to as long as we live;4 but there is a fair hope that a person will after death obtain every thing, for the sake of which he would desire, when alive, to live in the best manner he could, 5 and dying to meet with such an end.5 And I assert nothing (very) wise,6 but what all of us, both Greeks and Barbarians, after a certain manner know, that to be produced is at the beginning difficult for every animal. In the first place, it is difficult to partake of 7 the state of conception, next to be born,7 and, further still, to be brought up and educated; (for) all these things take place, as we all say, through ten thousand troubles. The time too would be short, 8 not only with respect to the calculation of annoyances, but what every one would imagine to be moderate; and this seems to
1 Ficinus evidently found something different in his MS., for his version is " multi enim fluctibus hujus vitae jactati—"
2 1 have adopted \iyovoi, found in the best MS. Z., in lieu of ipipovm: for \6yov ipkptiv is said only of a messenger bringing news.
3— 3 Such is the literal version of the Greek, which Ficinus has thus abridged, "utrum et ipse recte hac de re dicere videar—" while Taylor has given this unaccountable mistranslation, "whether it appears to you, as well as to me, that by speaking as follows about this affair, we shall speak well."
4— 4 The words between the numerals are omitted by Ficinus and Taylor, and in their place is introduced " in this life " in the sentence preceding.
3—s Here again Ficinus and Taylor after him omit all between the numerals, and in their place substitute one word, in Latin " exegit," and in English " die," in the sentence preceding.
0 Ficinus has more fully "nec inauditum aliquid novumque adduco;" but Taylor merely " Nor is my assertion novel."
7— 7 Ficinus has "in conceptione et utero primum; deinde in nativitate et partu—" while Taylor omits " to be born —"
8— 8 Such is the liteyil version of the Greek. In the MS. of Ficinus there was something wanting, as shown by his version, adopted almost to the letter by Taylor, "non solum respectu diuturnitatis malorum, verum etiam quocunque modo quis cogitet, quod quasi circa humane vit:e medium respirare parumper nos facit," where are omitted the words fiETjiiov Ovtoq Fe Itx«jov, that made up the twenty letters in each line of the Codex Archetypus.
make almost a kind of breathing-time in the middle of the life of man.8 Old age however, quickly overtaking a person, would make him not at all willing to live his life over again, 1 after he has considered the life he has lived,1 unless he happens to be full of the thoughts of a child. Now of this what is to me the proof? It is, because what is sought for in our discourse exists naturally in this way. Now we are seeking by what manner we shall become wise, as if there were to each of us some such power as this". But it flies quickly away then, when any one proceeds to an 2 investigation of the so-called arts or notions,2 or any other things of that kind, which we imagine to be sciences; whereas not one of them is worthy to be called by the name of that wisdom, which is conversant with the affairs of man; while on the other hand, the soul is very confident, and divines, as if this wisdom were existing in her by some gift of nature; but what it is, and when, and how it exists, it is wholly unable to discover. Does not then in this manner our difficulty about, and search after, wisdom, 3 seem somehow greatly to be full of the hope, which exists3 to each of those amongst us, who are able to examine both themselves prudently, and others harmoniously,4 through reasonings of all kinds and spoken in every manner? Shall we agree that these things are not thus, or thus?
Clin. We will agree in this, O guest, in the hope perhaps, which will arise in the course of time, of having hereafter with you opinions the most true on these points.
Athen. We must then first go through the other sciences, as they are called, but which do not render him wise, who receives and possesses them, in order that, by putting them out of the way, we may endeavour to place by our side those, of which we are in want, and, after placing them by our side, learn them.
1—1 Ficinus has—" cum prseteritas molestias cogitet—"
*—1 I cannot believe that the author wrote <ppovi)aiv—Qpovr/tTcwv— but what he did write I am no less at a loss to know; unless it were ipiivriaiv for (ppovqotv: for fp and pp are elsewhere confounded as I have shown in Prsef. Eurip. Tro. p. xvii, and so I have translated.
5—3 The Greek is in one MS. <r*p6fipa irpoasoix i)pu>v—7r\cI'wv—yiyvoyjtvti—but in three, irpoaixoi, in two irpoaixti, and in one irpoaix'—while Ficinus has—" hue spectat—plena nimirum spe "— I have translated as if the Greek were—<r<l>65pa Trwg toix'—TrXfitoc elvai—ytyvof^vris—for the other I cannot understand.
4 I confess myself unable to see what is meant here by av/KpiivoiQ.
[2.] Let us, then, first look into the sciences, of which the race of man is 'first in want; since these are nearly the most necessary, and truly the first. Now he, who becomes skilled in these, even though he seemed at first to be wise, yet now he is not considered to be wise, but obtains rather a disgrace by a science of this kind, We will therefore mention what they are, and (show) that nearly every one, to whom is proposed the contest of seeming to become the best man, avoids them through the possession of intellect and study. Let the first art then be that, 1 which, withdrawing us from eating human flesh, that, as the story goes, took place formerly amongst mankind after the manner of savage animals, has recalled us to a more lawful food.1 2 And may those before be propitious to us, and they are. For whosoever we are, who have spoken, let them be bidden the first farewell.2 The manufacture of wheaten flour and barley meal and moreover the food is indeed beautiful and good; but it will never be able to work out the man completely wise. 3 For this very thing, under the appellation of a manufacture, would produce a difficult handling of the things manufactured.3 Nor would the cultivation of nearly the whole country (do so); 4 for we all appear to take
1— 1 Such is the literal version of the Latin of Ficinus—" quae ab humanarum carnium esu, qui ferarum ritu quondam inter homines inoleverat, ut fabulae ferunt, abstinere jussit et ad victum modestiorem nos revocavit "—This is at least intelligible; what cannot be said of the Greek— £<rrw Si] npuiTOVi&v r/ rijc d\\rj\o(payiaQ Tuiv /relic, run, }ilv, wc 6 fivQ6q ktTTtv, To -jrapdnav airoarTjcrava, run, de, slg riv vo/ufiov kdu)6i)v Karaariiaaaa—which Ast says is obscure; nor has his attempt to explain it made it, I conceive, less so; for it is literally—" Let that be in the first place, what has withdrawn among some animals us from eating each other, as is the story, and of others instituted for lawful eating."
2— 2 Here again is a passage, of which the literal translation proves it to be perfectly unintelligible. And so have thought Stephens, Ast, and Winckelmann on Euthyd. p. 69, of whom the two last have suggested alterations from which nothing is gained; while the first has been content to draw attention to the version of Ficinus—" in quo sane prisci homines, quamvis mansuete et humaniter nobis consuluerint, valeant tamen, nec sapientise nomen usurpent;" which is certainly what the train of thought requires; but whether Ficinus found in his MS. the Greek words answering to the Latin, is another question.
3— 3 Such is the literal version of the Greek, which Ficinus has thus abridged and improved—" difficultatem enim et molestiam potius quam sapientiam afferet."
1—4 Here again Ficinus has expressed in his Latin version, adopted by Taylor, what is far more elegant than the original Greek, "non in hand the "earth, not by art, but by nature, according to a god.4 Nor yet would the weaving together1 of dwellings nor the whole of house-building, and the manufacture of all kinds of utensils, and copper-work, and the preparing of instruments for carpenters and moulders, and weavers, and trades in general, although possessing what is useful for the common people, be suited for virtue. Nor yet does the whole of hunting, although various and full of art, contribute what is greatly becoming2 together with what is wise. Nor yet does the diviner's and interpreter's art at all; for such merely knows what is said, but has not learnt whether it is true. Since then we see that the possession of necessaries is worked out indeed by art, but that not one of these arts makes any person wise, there would be left after this a certain sport,3 imitative for the most part, but by no means a serious pursuit. For persons do with many instruments, 4 and with many imitations, effected by their own bodies,4 not altogether graceful, make an imitation of things, expressed 5 in prose and verse,5 and of those, of which painting is the mother, while colours many and various are worked out,6 by many substances moist and dry; by operating upon none of which with the greatest care does the imitative art render a person wise. 7And when all has been done,7 there would be something remaining in the assistance without number given to persons without number ; the greatest of which and for the most numerous occasions is the art of war, called by the name of generalship, of the highest repute in the case of need, but requiring the greatest good fortune, and that which is assigned naturally rather to bravery than wisdom. And what persons
enim arte sed natura, dei quodam favore, terra culturam aggressi vide' mur—"
1 On the expression oUrioewv Zwvtjiri, see my note on .iEsch. Prom. 460, ir\ivQvipuQ So^iovg—
1 I must leave for others to explain, what I cannot, why To /jeyaXoxptjrt c avv rip aofyif is thus introduced instead of T6 oofybv by itself.
'The iraidia is here opposed to oirovSr), as in Epist. 6, p. 499, where I have referred to Wyttenbach in Epist. Crit. p. 14.
4— 4 Ficinus has more elegantly " corporum gestibus et figuris —" Did the author write /civii/iaoi?
5— 5 Ast quotes opportunely Legg. viii. f 5, p. 835, A., Kara \6yov tat car (fSag—
• One MS. has, what seems preferable, airorvirovfiivtav, " put into a form "—similar to " exprimuntur " in Ficinus.
'—' Ficinus has—" imitatione vero sublata—" From which it is difficult to ascertain what he found in his MS.