« PreviousContinue »
[1.] We happened to be taking a walk, myself and Eryxias, of the ward of Steiria, in the portico of Zeus, who presides over Freed-men, and there came to us Critias the son of Phasax, (and)1 the nephew of Erasistratus. Now Erasistratus happened at that time to be recently arrived from Sicily and those places ;2 and on approaching near he said—"Hail, Socrates." And (hail)3 too thou, said I. What then, can you tell us of any news4 from Sicily? And very (good) too, said he; but are you willing for us to sit down first? for I am tired from having walked yesterday from Megara.5 Perfectly so, (said I,) if it seems good to you. What then of the events there, said he, do you wish to hear the first? Is it of the people there, themselves, what they are doing, or how they are affected towards this state of ours? For they appear to me to
1 I have translated, as if rat had dropt out after *ai'a«:oe: and I have thus got rid of the difficulty, which others had seen, but failed tofcvercome.
1 In the words run, roiriav Tovtuv there is an error, which I am unable to correct.
1 In this formula xmot is wont to be repeated. See Person on Eurip. Orest. 4/0, and myself in Tro. Prof. p. xxiii.
In lieu of Kcikbv, Bas. 2, has Kaivbv— Corradus renders "Ecquid novi—affers? An habes pulchri aliquid?" thus uniting both readings. But rain, ought to follow xai iravv, as I have translated.
Megara was about 14 English miles from Athens.
be in a case similar to wasps; for if any one excites the latter in any slight manner to anger, they become difficult to battle against, until one falls upon them and destroys them nest and all. So, I think,1 are the people of Syracuse. For unless, after entertaining angry feelings, one2 shall go thither with a very large fleet, it is not possible for them to come under our power; but by all these little doings they will be enraged the more, so as to become the most difficult of all (to manage); and they have just now sent ambassadors,3 intending, as it seems to me, to deceive in some way the state.
[2.] During our conversation the ambassadors from Syracuse happened to pass by; when, pointing to one of them, Erasistratus observed—That person, Socrates, said he, is the most wealthy of the 4 Siceliotes and Italiotes ;4 and how should he not be, who has land without stint; so that it is easy for him, if one wished it, to cultivate a great deal of it; and it is of such a kind, that there is none other so good,5 at least amongst the Greeks; and he has still many 6 things leading to wealth, chattels,6 (and)7 slaves, and horses, and gold and silver. On seeing him excited,8 as if about to dilate upon the man's substance, I asked him—What kind of person, Erasistratus, does this man seem to be in Sicily? This man, said he, both seems to be and is the most knavish of all the Siceliotes and Italiotes, by how much he is the wealthiest; so that, should you be
1 Instead of out, the sense requires dl/tai, as I have translated.
'I cannot understand Ipyov von\aaptvog. Hence I have translated, as if the author had written hpyijv noiriadiitvog, a phrase found in Thucyd. iv. 122, and Demosth. F. L. p. 370, R., where Shilleto might have satisfied the doubts of Markland by quoting the two passages here adduced.
3 The embassy, to which allusion is here made, is mentioned by Thu cydides in iii. 86. From which it would seem that the dialogue was written much earlier than is commonly supposed.
1—4 By Siceliotes and Italiotes were meant the settlers in Sicily and Italy, not.the native people called SuecXoi and 'IraXoi.
5 Although eripag aXXij is found elsewhere, yet here the sense requires, as I have translated, irepa (caXij—
6 —8 The Greek is raXXa—arXa. But Hemsterhnis and Toup suggested iirnrXa, adopted by Boeckh; and they should have suggested likewise 7roXX<4— as I have translated.
7 In lieu of T& the sense requires icai—
* Fischer conceives that in avayoptvov there is a metaphor derived from a person setting sail, or appearing at a distance from the land at sea. See Arnold on Thucyd. i. 112, and myself on Philoct. 573.
willing to ask any Siceliote whom he thought to be the greatest rogue, not one would mention any other person than him.
[3.] Conceiving then that he was holding a conversation not upon trifling matters, but what seemed to be the greatest, namely, virtue and wealth,1 I asked him which would he say is the wealthier person, he, who happened to have 'two talents2 of silver, or he, who had a field worth two talents? I think, said he, the person who has the field. By the same rule then, said I, he, who happens to have garments, or bedfurniture, or other goods of greater value than are those, which the stranger possesses, would be the wealthier. To this he assented. Now, should any one give you the choice, which would you wish? I would wish that, said he, which is the most valuable. Would you not (say so), as conceiving yourself to be more wealthy? Just so. For the present then he appears to be the wealthiest, who possesses things the most valuable. Yes, said he. [4.] Would not then, said I, persons in health be more wealthy than those who are ill? at least if health is a possession more valuable than the property of a person who is ill. For surely there is no one, who would not set a higher value on health, although he possessed only a little money, than on illness, although he possessed the property of the great king,3 through his conceiving, it is plain, that health is of greater value; for he would never prefer it, unless he considered it of greater value than property. He would not. If then any thing else seems to be of greater value than health, the person, who possesses that thing, would be the wealthiest. Yes. If then a person were to come to us and ask—Can you, Socrates, and Eryxias, and Erasistratus,
1 I have omitted iript, which could not be thus repeated; for dperrje and irXourow are put in apposition with Twv jityidTiov.
1—1 The Greek is Svo rvyxavti raXavra. But six MSS. read by rvyXdvei, and one raXavrov— Both are adopted by Boeckh. But no one would ask whether the owner of a field, worth two talents, was not richer than the owner of one talent; although he might compare a certain amount of money with the same amount of money's worth. Some reason should however be given to prove how the field was superior to the silver. Hence I suspect that something has been lost here to this effect, "For the talents might be taken away by force or fraud, or lost by accident, or be diminished in value by rust; none of which events would happen in the case of the field."
3 Of Persia.
tell me, what possession is the most valuable to man? Is it not that, by possessing which a person would deliberate the best on this point, how he could best transact his own affairs and those of his friends? What should we say is this? To myself it appears, Socrates, that happiness is the thing of the greatest value to man. And not wrongly so, said I. But shall we consider those the most happy, who are the best to do? To me those appear so. [5.] Would not those then be the best to do, who err the least, in the case of themselves and the rest of mankind, and regulate affairs the most successfully? By all means. They then, who know what is evil and what is good, and what is to be done and what is not, would regulate affairs the most successfully, and err the least. To this too he consented. Now then, the same persons appear to be the wisest, and the best to do, and the happiest, and the wealthiest; if indeed wisdom is a possession of the greatest value. Yes. But, said Erasistratus,1 taking up the discourse, of what advantage would food and drink, and if there is any thing else of this kind, be to a person, if he were wiser than Nestor, and yet did not happen to have the necessaries of life? How would his wisdom be a benefit? Or how could he be the wealthiest, when nothing prevents him from being poor, while he possesses no resources for the necessaries (of life)? And he thought indeed he had said something extremely (well).2 But would the person, said I, who possesses wisdom, suffer in this way, even if he were in want of these things ? 3 For4 if a person possessed the residence 5 of Polytion, and the residence5 were full of gold and silver, would he be in want of nothing? Nay, said he, there is nothing to prevent that person from immediately disposing of his property, and obtaining
1 Fischer was the first to correct 'Epatricrrparoc into 'EpuSft'ac, adopted by all subsequent editors except Bekker.
2 I have translated, as if the Greek were 20o#pa ovv iS6at tii Xiytiv, not Kai \iynv, remembering the phrase in p. 399, B. § 16, <r<p6£pa Sonic
3 In lieu of Tovtidv the sense requires iravroyv, or rather iravruv Towvtwv—
- 4 Instead of di the train of reasoning requires yap, as I have translated. The words are constantly confounded.
5—5 To avoid the repetition in oiKtav and oiKta, we must evidently read ovaiav—otria—The origin of the error is to be traced to the similarity between Ic and K in MSS. See Porson Adversar. p. 53, 131.