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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Plato Bilingual Anthology : SEARCHING FOR THE THINGS' REASON

from Politicus, * 285.d-286.b, Theaetetus * 155.d, 173c-176a, translated by B. Jowett

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SOC. Then, as this is your wish, I will describe the leaders; for there is no use in talking about the inferior sort. In the first place, the lords of philosophy have never, from their youth upwards, known their way to the Agora, or the dicastery, or the council, or any other political assembly; they neither see nor hear the laws or decrees, as they are called, of the state written or recited; the eagerness of political societies in the attainment of office-clubs, and banquets, and revels, and singing-maidens,-do not enter even into their dreams. Whether any event has turned out well or ill in the city, what disgrace may have descended to any one from his ancestors, male or female, are matters of which the philosopher no more knows than he can tell, as they say, how many pints are contained in the ocean. Neither is he conscious of his ignorance. For he does not hold aloof in order; that he may gain a reputation; but the truth is, that the outer form of him only is in the city: his mind, disdaining the littlenesses and nothingnesses of human things, is "flying all abroad" as Pindar says, measuring earth and heaven and the things which are under and on the earth and above the heaven, interrogating the whole nature of each and all in their entirety, but not condescending to anything which is within reach.

THEOD. What do you mean, Socrates?

ΣΩ. Λέγωμεν δή͵ ὡς ἔοικεν͵ ἐπεὶ σοί γε δοκεῖ͵ περὶ τῶν κορυφαίων· τί γὰρ ἄν τις τούς γε φαύλως διατρίβοντας ἐν φιλοσοφίᾳ λέγοι; οὗτοι δέ που ἐκ νέων πρῶτον μὲν εἰς ἀγορὰν οὐκ ἴσασι τὴν ὁδόν͵ οὐδὲ ὅπου δικαστήριον ἢ βουλευτήριον ἤ τι κοινὸν ἄλλο τῆς πόλεως συνέδριον· νόμους δὲ καὶ ψηφίσματα λεγόμενα ἢ γεγραμμένα οὔτε ὁρῶσιν οὔτε ἀκούουσι· σπουδαὶ δὲ ἑταιριῶν ἐπ΄ ἀρχὰς καὶ σύνοδοι καὶ δεῖπνα καὶ σὺν αὐλητρίσι κῶμοι͵ οὐδὲ ὄναρ πράττειν προσίσταται αὐτοῖς. εὖ δὲ ἢ κακῶς τις γέγονεν ἐν πόλει͵ ἤ τί τῳ κακόν ἐστιν ἐκ προγόνων γεγονὸς ἢ πρὸς ἀνδρῶν ἢ γυναικῶν͵ μᾶλλον αὐτὸν λέληθεν ἢ οἱ τῆς θαλάττης λεγόμενοι χόες. καὶ ταῦτα πάντ΄ οὐδ΄ ὅτι οὐκ οἶδεν͵ οἶδεν· οὐδὲ γὰρ αὐτῶν ἀπέχεται τοῦ εὐδοκιμεῖν χάριν͵ ἀλλὰ τῷ ὄντι τὸ σῶμα μόνον ἐν τῇ πόλει κεῖται αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐπιδημεῖ͵ ἡ δὲ διάνοια͵ ταῦτα πάντα ἡγησαμένη σμικρὰ καὶ οὐδέν͵ ἀτιμάσασα πανταχῇ πέτεται κατὰ Πίνδαρον τᾶς τε γᾶς ὑπένερθε καὶ τὰ ἐπίπεδα γεωμετροῦσα͵ οὐρανοῦ θ΄ ὕπερ ἀστρονομοῦσα͵ καὶ πᾶσαν πάντῃ φύσιν ἐρευνωμένη τῶν ὄντων ἑκάστου ὅλου͵ εἰς τῶν ἐγγὺς οὐδὲν αὑτὴν συγκαθιεῖσα.

ΘΕΟ. Πῶς τοῦτο λέγεις͵ ὦ Σώκρατες;

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