Plato, Protagoras (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Pl. Prt.].
<<Pl. Prt. 309a Pl. Prt. 311a (Greek) >>Pl. Prt. 313a

310band when they opened to him he came hurrying in at once and calling to me in a loud voice: Socrates, are you awake, or sleeping? Then I, recognizing his voice, said: Hippocrates, hallo! Some news to break to me? Only good news, he replied. Tell it, and welcome, I said: what is it, and what business brings you here at such an hour? Protagoras has come, he said, standing at my side. Yes, two days ago, I said: have you only just heard? Yes, by Heaven! he replied, 310clast evening. With this he groped about for the bedstead, and sitting down by my feet he said: It was in the evening, after I had got in very late from Oenoe. My boy Satyrus, you see, had run away: I meant to let you know I was going in chase of him, but some other matter put it out of my head. On my return, when we had finished dinner and were about to retire, my brother told me, only then, that Protagoras had come. I made an effort, even at that hour, to get to you at once, but came to the conclusion that it was too late at night. 310dBut as soon as I had slept off my fatigue I got up at once and made my way straight here. Then I, noting the man's gallant spirit and the flutter he was in, remarked: Well, what is that to you? Has Protagoras wronged you? At this he laughed and, Yes, by the gods! he said, by being the only wise man, and not making me one. But, by Zeus! I said, if you give him a fee and win him over he will make you wise too. Would to Zeus and all the gods, he exclaimed, 310eonly that were needed! I should not spare either my own pocket or those of my friends. But it is on this very account I have come to you now, to see if you will have a talk with him on my behalf: for one thing, I am too young to do it myself; and for another, I have never yet seen Protagoras nor heard him speak a word—I was but a child when he paid us his previous visit. You know, Socrates, how everyone praises the man and tells of his mastery of speech: let us step over to him at once, 311ato make sure of finding him in; he is staying, so I was told, with Callias, son of Hipponicus. Now, let us be going. To this I replied: We had better not go there yet, my good friend, it is so very early: let us rise and turn into the court here, and spend the time strolling there till daylight comes; after that we can go. Protagoras, you see, spends most of his time indoors, so have no fear, we shall find him in all right, most likely.

So then we got up and strolled in the court; 311band I, to test Hippocrates' grit, began examining him with a few questions. Tell me, Hippocrates, I said, in your present design of going to Protagoras and paying him money as a fee for his services to yourself, to whom do you consider you are resorting, and what is it that you are to become? Suppose, for example, you had taken it into your head to call on your namesake Hippocrates of Cos, the Asclepiad, and pay him money as your personal fee, and suppose someone asked you—Tell me, Hippocrates, in purposing to pay 311ca fee to Hippocrates, what do you consider him to be? How would you answer that?

A doctor, I would say.

And what would you intend to become?

A doctor, he replied.

And suppose you had a mind to approach Polycleitus the Argive or Pheidias the Athenian and pay them a personal fee, and somebody asked you—What is it that you consider Polycleitus or Pheidias to be, that you are minded to pay them this money? What would your answer be to that?

Sculptors, I would reply.

And what would you intend to become?

Obviously, a sculptor.

Very well then, I said; you and I will go now to Protagoras, 311dprepared to pay him money as your fee,from our own means if they are adequate for the purpose of prevailing on him, but if not, then drawing on our friends' resources to make up the sum. Now if anyone, observing our extreme earnestness in the matter, should ask us,—Pray, Socrates and Hippocrates, what is it that you take Protagoras to be, when you purpose to pay him money? What should we reply to him? What is the other name that we commonly hear attached to Protagoras? They call Pheidias a sculptor and Homer a poet: 311ewhat title do they give Protagoras?

A sophist, to be sure, Socrates, is what they call him.

Then we go to him and pay him the money as a sophist?

Certainly.

Now suppose someone asked you this further question: 312aAnd what is it that you yourself hope to become when you go to Protagoras ?

To this he replied with a blush—for by then there was a glimmer of daylight by which I could see him quite clearly—If it is like the previous cases, obviously, to become a sophist.

In Heaven's name, I said, would you not be ashamed to present yourself before the Greeks as a sophist?

Yes, on my soul I should, Socrates, if I am to speak my real thoughts.

Yet after all, Hippocrates, perhaps it is not this sort of learning that you expect to get from Protagoras, but rather the sort you had 312bfrom your language-master, your harp-teacher, and your sports-instructor; for when you took your lessons from each of these it was not in the technical way, with a view to becoming a professional, but for education, as befits a private gentleman.

I quite agree, he said it is rather this kind of learning that one gets from Protagoras.

Then are you aware what you are now about to do, or is it not clear to you? I asked.

To what do you refer?

I mean your intention of submitting your soul



Plato, Protagoras (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Pl. Prt.].
<<Pl. Prt. 309a Pl. Prt. 311a (Greek) >>Pl. Prt. 313a

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