Sacred Texts  Classics  Plato


by Plato

380 BC

translated by Benjamin Jowett

New York, C. Scribner's Sons, [1871]

   PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: SOCRATES, who is the narrator of the
 Dialogue to his Companion; HIPPOCRATES; ALCIBIADES; CRINAS;
 Athenian. Scene: The House of Callias
   Com. Where do you come from, Socrates? And yet I need hardly ask the
 question, for I know that you have been in chase of the fair
 Alcibiades. I saw the day before yesterday; and he had got a beard
 like a man-and he is a man, as I may tell you in your ear. But I
 thought that he was still very charming.
   Soc. What of his beard? Are you not of Homer's opinion, who says
      Youth is most charming when the beard first appears?
 And that is now the charm of Alcibiades.
   Com. Well, and how do matters proceed? Have you been visiting him,
 and was he gracious to you?
   Soc. Yes, I thought that he was very gracious; and especially
 to-day, for I have just come from him, and he has been helping me in
 an argument. But shall I tell you a strange thing? I paid no attention
 to him, and several times I quite forgot that he was present.
   Com. What is the meaning of this? Has anything happened between
 you and him? For surely you cannot have discovered a fairer love
 than he is; certainly not in this city of Athens.
   Soc. Yes, much fairer.
   Com. What do you mean-a citizen or a foreigner?
   Soc. A foreigner.
   Com. Of what country?
   Soc. Of Abdera.
   Com. And is this stranger really in your opinion a fairer love
 than the son of Cleinias?
   Soc. And is not the wiser always the fairer, sweet friend?
   Com. But have you really met, Socrates, with some wise one?
   Soc. Say rather, with the wisest of all living men, if you are
 willing to accord that title to Protagoras.
   Com. What! Is Protagoras in Athens?
   Soc. Yes; he has been here two days.
   Com. And do you just come from an interview with him?
   Soc. Yes; and I have heard and said many things.
   Com. Then, if you have no engagement, suppose that you sit down tell
 me what passed, and my attendant here shall give up his place to you.
   Soc. To be sure; and I shall be grateful to you for listening.
   Com. Thank you, too, for telling us.
   Soc. That is thank you twice over. Listen then:-
   Last night, or rather very early this morning, Hippocrates, the
 son of Apollodorus and the brother of Phason, gave a tremendous
 thump with his staff at my door; some one opened to him, and he came
 rushing in and bawled out: Socrates, are you awake or asleep?
   I knew his voice, and said: Hippocrates, is that you? and do you
 bring any news?
   Good news, he said; nothing but good.
   Delightful, I said; but what is the news? and why have you come
 hither at this unearthly hour?
   He drew nearer to me and said: Protagoras is come.
   Yes, I replied; he came two days ago: have you only just heard of
 his arrival?
   Yes, by the gods, he said; but not until yesterday evening.
   At the same time he felt for the truckle-bed, and sat down at my
 feet, and then he said: Yesterday quite late in the evening, on my
 return from Oenoe whither I had gone in pursuit of my runaway slave
 Satyrus, as I meant to have told you, if some other matter had not
 come in the way;-on my return, when we had done supper and were
 about to retire to rest, my brother said to me: Protagoras is come.
 I was going to you at once, and then I thought that the night was
 far spent. But the moment sleep left me after my fatigue, I got up and
 came hither direct.
   I, who knew the very courageous madness of the man, said: What is
 the matter? Has Protagoras robbed you of anything?
   He replied, laughing: Yes, indeed he has, Socrates, of the wisdom
 which he keeps from me.
   But, surely, I said, if you give him money, and make friends with
 him, he will make you as wise as he is himself.
   Would to heaven, he replied, that this were the case! He might
 take all that I have, and all that my friends have, if he pleased. But
 that is why I have come to you now, in order that you may speak to him
 on my behalf; for I am young, and also I have never seen nor heard
 him; (when he visited Athens before I was but a child) and all men
 praise him, Socrates; he is reputed to be the most accomplished of
 speakers. There is no reason why we should not go to him at once,
 and then we shall find him at home. He lodges, as I hear, with Callias
 the son of Hipponicus: let us start.
   I replied: Not yet, my good friend; the hour is too early. But let
 us rise and take a turn in the court and wait about there until
 daybreak; when the day breaks, then we will go. For Protagoras is
 generally at home, and we shall be sure to find him; never fear.
   Upon this we got up and walked about in the court, and I thought
 that I would make trial of the strength of his resolution. So I
 examined him and put questions to him. Tell me, Hippocrates, I said,
 as you are going to Protagoras, and will be paying your money to
 him, what is he to whom you are going? and what will he make of you?
 If, for example, you had thought of going to Hippocrates of Cos, the
 Asclepiad, and were about to give him your money, and some one had
 said to you: You are paying money to your namesake Hippocrates, O
 Hippocrates; tell me, what is he that you give him money? how would
 you have answered?
   I should say, he replied, that I gave money to him as a physician.
   And what will he make of you?
   A physician, he said.
   And if you were resolved to go to Polycleitus the Argive, or
 Pheidias the Athenian, and were intending to give them money, and some
 one had asked you: What are Polycleitus and Pheidias? and why do you
 give them this money?-how would you have answered?
   I should have answered, that they were statuaries.
   And what will they make of you?
   A statuary, of course.
   Well now, I said, you and I are going to Protagoras, and we are
 ready to pay him money on your behalf. If our own means are
 sufficient, and we can gain him with these, we shall be only too glad;
 but if not, then we are to spend the money of your friends as well.
 Now suppose, that while we are thus enthusiastically pursuing our
 object some one were to say to us: Tell me, Socrates, and you
 Hippocrates, what is Protagoras, and why are you going to pay him
 money,-how should we answer? I know that Pheidias is a sculptor, and
 that Homer is a poet; but what appellation is given to Protagoras? how
 is he designated?
   They call him a Sophist, Socrates, he replied.
   Then we are going to pay our money to him in the character of a
   But suppose a person were to ask this further question: And how
 about yourself? What will Protagoras make of you, if you go to see
   He answered, with a blush upon his face (for the day was just
 beginning to dawn, so that I could see him): Unless this differs in
 some way from the former instances, I suppose that he will make a
 Sophist of me.
   By the gods, I said, and are you not ashamed at having to appear
 before the Hellenes in the character of a Sophist?
   Indeed, Socrates, to confess the truth, I am.
   But you should not assume, Hippocrates, that the instruction of
 Protagoras is of this nature: may you not learn of him in the same way
 that you learned the arts of the grammarian, musician, or trainer, not
 with the view of making any of them a profession, but only as a part
 of education, and because a private gentleman and freeman ought to
 know them?
   Just so, he said; and that, in my opinion, is a far truer account of
 the teaching of Protagoras.
   I said: I wonder whether you know what you are doing?
   And what am I doing?
   You are going to commit your soul to the care of a man whom you call
 a Sophist. And yet I hardly think that you know what a Sophist is; and
 if not, then you do not even know to whom you are committing your soul
 and whether the thing to which you commit yourself be good or evil.
   I certainly think that I do know, he replied.
   Then tell me, what do you imagine that he is?
   I take him to be one who knows wise things, he replied, as his
 name implies.
   And might you not, I said, affirm this of the painter and of the
 carpenter also: Do not they, too, know wise things? But suppose a
 person were to ask us: In what are the painters wise? We should
 answer: In what relates to the making of likenesses, and similarly
 of other things. And if he were further to ask: What is the wisdom
 of the Sophist, and what is the manufacture over which he
 presides?-how should we answer him?
   How should we answer him, Socrates? What other answer could there be
 but that he presides over the art which makes men eloquent?
   Yes, I replied, that is very likely true, but not enough; for in the
 answer a further question is involved: Of what does the Sophist make a
 man talk eloquently? The player on the lyre may be supposed to make
 a man talk eloquently about that which he makes him understand, that
 is about playing the lyre. Is not that true?
   Then about what does the Sophist make him eloquent? Must not he make
 him eloquent in that which he understands?
   Yes, that may be assumed.
   And what is that which the Sophist knows and makes his disciple
   Indeed, he said, I cannot tell.
   Then I proceeded to say: Well, but are you aware of the danger which
 you are incurring? If you were going to commit your body to some
 one, who might do good or harm to it, would you not carefully consider
 and ask the opinion of your friends and kindred, and deliberate many
 days as to whether you should give him the care of your body? But when
 the soul is in question, which you hold to be of far more value than
 the body, and upon the good or evil of which depends the well-being of
 your all,-about this never consulted either with your father or with
 your brother or with any one of us who are your companions. But no
 sooner does this foreigner appear, than you instantly commit your soul
 to his keeping. In the evening, as you say, you hear of him, and in
 the morning you go to him, never deliberating or taking the opinion of
 any one as to whether you ought to intrust yourself to him or not;-you
 have quite made up your mind that you will at all hazards be a pupil
 of Protagoras, and are prepared to expend all the property of yourself
 and of your friends in carrying out at any price this determination,
 although, as you admit, you do not know him, and have never spoken
 with him: and you call him a Sophist, but are manifestly ignorant of
 what a Sophist is; and yet you are going to commit yourself to his
   When he heard me say this, he replied: No other inference, Socrates,
 can be drawn from your words.
   I proceeded: Is not a Sophist, Hippocrates, one who deals
 wholesale or retail in the food of the soul? To me that appears to
 be his nature.
   And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul?
   Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul; and we must
 take care, my friend, that the Sophist does not deceive us when he
 praises what he sells, like the dealers wholesale or retail who sell
 the food of the body; for they praise indiscriminately all their
 goods, without knowing what are really beneficial or hurtful:
 neither do their customers know, with the exception of any trainer
 or physician who may happen to buy of them. In like manner those who
 carry about the wares of knowledge, and make the round of the
 cities, and sell or retail them to any customer who is in want of
 them, praise them all alike; though I should not wonder, O my
 friend, if many of them were really ignorant of their effect upon
 the soul; and their customers equally ignorant, unless he who buys
 of them happens to be a physician of the soul. If, therefore, you have
 understanding of what is good and evil, you may safely buy knowledge
 of Protagoras or of any one; but if not, then, O my friend, pause, and
 do not hazard your dearest interests at a game of chance. For there is
 far greater peril in buying knowledge than in buying meat and drink:
 the one you purchase of the wholesale or retail dealer, and carry them
 away in other vessels, and before you receive them into the body as
 food, you may deposit them at home and call in any experienced
 friend who knows what is good to be eaten or drunken, and what not,
 and how much, and when; and then the danger of purchasing them is
 not so great. But you cannot buy the wares of knowledge and carry them
 away in another vessel; when you have paid for them you must receive
 them into the soul and go your way, either greatly harmed or greatly
 benefited; and therefore we should deliberate and take counsel with
 our elders; for we are still young-too young to determine such a
 matter. And now let us go, as we were intending, and hear
 Protagoras; and when we have heard what he has to say, we may take
 counsel of others; for not only is Protagoras at the house of Callias,
 but there is Hippias of Elis, and, if I am not mistaken, Prodicus of
 Ceos, and several other wise men.
   To this we agreed, and proceeded on our way until we reached the
 vestibule of the house; and there we stopped in order to conclude a
 discussion which had arisen between us as we were going along; and
 we stood talking in the vestibule until we had finished and come to an
 understanding. And I think that the doorkeeper, who was a eunuch,
 and who was probably annoyed at the great inroad of the Sophists, must
 have heard us talking. At any rate, when we knocked at the door, and
 he opened and saw us, he grumbled: They are Sophists -he is not at
 home; and instantly gave the door a hearty bang with both his hands.
 Again we knocked, and he answered without opening: Did you not hear me
 say that he is not at home, fellows? But, my friend, I said, you
 need not be alarmed; for we are not Sophists, and we are not come to
 see Callias, but we want to see Protagoras; and I must request you
 to announce us. At last, after a good deal of difficulty, the man
 was persuaded to open the door.
   When we entered, we found Protagoras taking a walk in the
 cloister; and next to him, on one side, were walking Callias, the
 son of Hipponicus, and Paralus, the son of Pericles, who, by the
 mother's side, is his half-brother, and Charmides, the son of Glaucon.
 On the other side of him were Xanthippus, the other son of Pericles,
 Philippides, the son of Philomelus; also Antimoerus of Mende, who of
 all the disciples of Protagoras is the most famous, and intends to
 make sophistry his profession. A train of listeners followed him;
 the greater part of them appeared to be foreigners, whom Protagoras
 had brought with him out of the various cities visited by him in his
 journeys, he, like Orpheus, attracting them his voice, and they
 following. I should mention also that there were some Athenians in the
 company. Nothing delighted me more than the precision of their
 movements: they never got into his way at all; but when he and those
 who were with him turned back, then the band of listeners parted
 regularly on either side; he was always in front, and they wheeled
 round and took their places behind him in perfect order.
   After him, as Homer says, "I lifted up my eyes and saw" Hippias
 the Elean sitting in the opposite cloister on a chair of state, and
 around him were seated on benches Eryximachus, the son of Acumenus,
 and Phaedrus the Myrrhinusian, and Andron the son of Androtion, and
 there were strangers whom he had brought with him from his native city
 of Elis, and some others: they were putting to Hippias certain
 physical and astronomical questions, and he, ex cathedra, was
 determining their several questions to them, and discoursing of them.
   Also, "my eyes beheld Tantalus"; for Prodicus the Cean was at
 Athens: he had been lodged in a room which, in the days of Hipponicus,
 was a storehouse; but, as the house was full, Callias had cleared this
 out and made the room into a guest-chamber. Now Prodicus was still
 in bed, wrapped up in sheepskins and bed-clothes, of which there
 seemed to be a great heap; and there was sitting by him on the couches
 near, Pausanias of the deme of Cerameis, and with Pausanias was a
 youth quite young, who is certainly remarkable for his good looks,
 and, if I am not mistaken, is also of a fair and gentle nature. I
 thought that I heard him called Agathon, and my suspicion is that he
 is the beloved of Pausanias. There was this youth, and also there were
 the two Adeimantuses, one the son of Cepis, and the other of
 Leucolophides, and some others. I was very anxious to hear what
 Prodicus was saying, for he seems to me to be an all-wise and inspired
 man; but I was not able to get into the inner circle, and his fine
 deep voice made an echo in the room which rendered his words
   No sooner had we entered than there followed us Alcibiades the
 beautiful, as you say, and I believe you; and also Critias the son
 of Callaeschrus.
   On entering we stopped a little, in order to look about us, and then
 walked up to Protagoras, and I said: Protagoras, my friend Hippocrates
 and I have come to see you.
   Do you wish, he said, to speak with me alone, or in the presence
 of the company?
   Whichever you please, I said; you shall determine when you have
 heard the purpose of our visit.
   And what is your purpose? he said.
   I must explain, I said, that my friend Hippocrates is a native
 Athenian; he is the son of Apollodorus, and of a great and
 prosperous house, and he is himself in natural ability quite a match
 for anybody of his own age. I believe that he aspires to political
 eminence; and this he thinks that conversation with you is most likely
 to procure for him. And now you can determine whether you would wish
 to speak to him of your teaching alone or in the presence of the
   Thank you, Socrates, for your consideration of me. For certainly a
 stranger finding his way into great cities, and persuading the
 flower of the youth in them to leave company of their kinsmen or any
 other acquaintances, old or young, and live with him, under the idea
 that they will be improved by his conversation, ought to be very
 cautious; great jealousies are aroused by his proceedings, and he is
 the subject of many enmities and conspiracies. Now the art of the
 Sophist is, as I believe, of great antiquity; but in ancient times
 those who practised it, fearing this odium, veiled and disguised
 themselves under various names, some under that of poets, as Homer,
 Hesiod, and Simonides, some, of hierophants and prophets, as Orpheus
 and Musaeus, and some, as I observe, even under the name of
 gymnastic-masters, like Iccus of Tarentum, or the more recently
 celebrated Herodicus, now of Selymbria and formerly of Megara, who
 is a first-rate Sophist. Your own Agathocles pretended to be a
 musician, but was really an eminent Sophist; also Pythocleides the
 Cean; and there were many others; and all of them, as I was saying,
 adopted these arts as veils or disguises because they were afraid of
 the odium which they would incur. But that is not my way, for I do not
 believe that they effected their purpose, which was to deceive the
 government, who were not blinded by them; and as to the people, they
 have no understanding, and only repeat what their rulers are pleased
 to tell them. Now to run away, and to be caught in running away, is
 the very height of folly, and also greatly increases the
 exasperation of mankind; for they regard him who runs away as a rogue,
 in addition to any other objections which they have to him; and
 therefore I take an entirely opposite course, and acknowledge myself
 to be a Sophist and instructor of mankind; such an open
 acknowledgement appears to me to be a better sort of caution than
 concealment. Nor do I neglect other precautions, and therefore I hope,
 as I may say, by the favour of heaven that no harm will come of the
 acknowledgment that I am a Sophist. And I have been now many years
 in the profession-for all my years when added up are many: there is no
 one here present of whom I might not be the father. Wherefore I should
 much prefer conversing with you, if you want to speak with me, in
 the presence of the company.
   As I suspected that he would like to have a little display and
 glorification in the presence of Prodicus and Hippias, and would
 gladly show us to them in the light of his admirers, I said: But why
 should we not summon Prodicus and Hippias and their friends to hear
   Very good, he said.
   Suppose, said Callias, that we hold a council in which you may sit
 and discuss.-This was agreed upon, and great delight was felt at the
 prospect of hearing wise men talk; we ourselves took the chairs and
 benches, and arranged them by Hippias, where the other benches had
 been already placed. Meanwhile Callias and Alcibiades got Prodicus out
 of bed and brought in him and his companions.
   When we were all seated, Protagoras said: Now that the company are
 assembled, Socrates, tell me about the youngman of whom you were
 just now speaking.
   I replied: I will begin again at the same point, Protagoras, and
 tell you once more the purport of my visit: this is my friend
 Hippocrates, who is desirous of making your acquaintance; he would
 like to know what will happen to him if he associates with you. I have
 no more to say.
   Protagoras answered: Young man, if you associate with me, on the
 very first day you will return home a better man than you came, and
 better on the second day than on the first, and better every day
 than you were on the day before.
   When I heard this, I said: Protagoras, I do not at all wonder at
 hearing you say this; even at your age, and with all your wisdom, if
 any one were to teach you what you did not know before, you would
 become better no doubt: but please to answer in a different way-I will
 explain how by an example. Let me suppose that Hippocrates, instead of
 desiring your acquaintance, wished to become acquainted with the young
 man Zeuxippus of Heraclea, who has lately been in Athens, and he had
 come to him as he has come to you, and had heard him say, as he has
 heard you say, that every day he would grow and become better if he
 associated with him: and then suppose that he were to ask him, "In
 what shall I become better, and in what shall I grow?"-Zeuxippus would
 answer, "In painting." And suppose that he went to Orthagoras the
 Theban, and heard him say the same thing, and asked him, "In what
 shall I become better day by day?" he would reply, "In flute-playing."
 Now I want you to make the same sort of answer to this young man and
 to me, who am asking questions on his account. When you say that on
 the first day on which he associates with you he will return home a
 better man, and on every day will grow in like manner,-In what,
 Protagoras, will he be better? and about what?
   When Protagoras heard me say this, he replied: You ask questions
 fairly, and I like to answer a question which is fairly put. If
 Hippocrates comes to me he will not experience the sort of drudgery
 with which other Sophists are in the habit of insulting their
 pupils; who, when they have just escaped from the arts, are taken
 and driven back into them by these teachers, and made to learn
 calculation, and astronomy, and geometry, and music (he gave a look at
 Hippias as he said this); but if he comes to me, he will learn that
 which he comes to learn. And this is prudence in affairs private as
 well as public; he will learn to order his own house in the best
 manner, and he will be able to speak and act for the best in the
 affairs of the state.
   Do I understand you, I said; and is your meaning that you teach
 the art of politics, and that you promise to make men good citizens?
   That, Socrates, is exactly the profession which I make.
   Then, I said, you do indeed possess a noble art, if there is no
 mistake about this; for I will freely confess to you, Protagoras, that
 I have a doubt whether this art is capable of being taught, and yet
 I know not how to disbelieve your assertion. And I ought to tell you
 why I am of opinion that this art cannot be taught or communicated
 by man to man. I say that the Athenians are an understanding people,
 and indeed they are esteemed to be such by the other Hellenes. Now I
 observe that when we are met together in the assembly, and the
 matter in hand relates to building, the builders are summoned as
 advisers; when the question is one of shipbuilding, then the
 ship-wrights; and the like of other arts which they think capable of
 being taught and learned. And if some person offers to give them
 advice who is not supposed by them to have any skill in the art,
 even though he be good-looking, and rich, and noble, they will not
 listen to him, but laugh and hoot at him, until either he is clamoured
 down and retires of himself; or if he persist, he is dragged away or
 put out by the constables at the command of the prytanes. This is
 their way of behaving about professors of the arts. But when the
 question is an affair of state, then everybody is free to have a
 say-carpenter, tinker, cobbler, sailor, passenger; rich and poor, high
 and low-any one who likes gets up, and no one reproaches him, as in
 the former case, with not having learned, and having no teacher, and
 yet giving advice; evidently because they are under the impression
 that this sort of knowledge cannot be taught. And not only is this
 true of the state, but of individuals; the best and wisest of our
 citizens are unable to impart their political wisdom to others: as for
 example, Pericles, the father of these young men, who gave them
 excellent instruction in all that could be learned from masters, in
 his own department of politics neither taught them, nor gave them
 teachers; but they were allowed to wander at their own free will in
 a sort of hope that they would light upon virtue of their own
 accord. Or take another example: there was Cleinias the younger
 brother of our friend Alcibiades, of whom this very same Pericles
 was the guardian; and he being in fact under the apprehension that
 Cleinias would be corrupted by Alcibiades, took him away, and placed
 him in the house of Ariphron to be educated; but before six months had
 elapsed, Ariphron sent him back, not knowing what to do with him.
 And I could mention numberless other instances of persons who were
 good themselves, and never yet made any one else good, whether
 friend or stranger. Now I, Protagoras, having these examples before
 me, am inclined to think that virtue cannot be taught. But then again,
 when I listen to your words, I waver; and am disposed to think that
 there must be something in what you say, because I know that you
 have great experience, and learning, and invention. And I wish that
 you would, if possible, show me a little more clearly that virtue
 can be taught. Will you be so good?
   That I will, Socrates, and gladly. But what would you like? Shall I,
 as an elder, speak to you as younger men in an apologue or myth, or
 shall I argue out the question?
   To this several of the company answered that he should choose for
   Well, then, he said, I think that the myth will be more interesting.
   Once upon a time there were gods only, and no mortal creatures.
 But when the time came that these also should be created, the gods
 fashioned them out of earth and fire and various mixtures of both
 elements in the interior of the earth; and when they were about to
 bring them into the light of day, they ordered Prometheus and
 Epimetheus to equip them, and to distribute to them severally their
 proper qualities. Epimetheus said to Prometheus: "Let me distribute,
 and do you inspect." This was agreed, and Epimetheus made the
 distribution. There were some to whom he gave strength without
 swiftness, while he equipped the weaker with swiftness; some he armed,
 and others he left unarmed; and devised for the latter some other
 means of preservation, making some large, and having their size as a
 protection, and others small, whose nature was to fly in the air or
 burrow in the ground; this was to be their way of escape. Thus did
 he compensate them with the view of preventing any race from
 becoming extinct. And when he had provided against their destruction
 by one another, he contrived also a means of protecting them against
 the seasons of heaven; clothing them with close hair and thick skins
 sufficient to defend them against the winter cold and able to resist
 the summer heat, so that they might have a natural bed of their own
 when they wanted to rest; also he furnished them with hoofs and hair
 and hard and callous skins under their feet. Then he gave them
 varieties of food-herb of the soil to some, to others fruits of trees,
 and to others roots, and to some again he gave other animals as
 food. And some he made to have few young ones, while those who were
 their prey were very prolific; and in this manner the race was
 preserved. Thus did Epimetheus, who, not being very wise, forgot
 that he had distributed among the brute animals all the qualities
 which he had to give-and when he came to man, who was still
 unprovided, he was terribly perplexed. Now while he was in this
 perplexity, Prometheus came to inspect the distribution, and he
 found that the other animals were suitably furnished, but that man
 alone was naked and shoeless, and had neither bed nor arms of defence.
 The appointed hour was approaching when man in his turn was to go
 forth into the light of day; and Prometheus, not knowing how he
 could devise his salvation, stole the mechanical arts of Hephaestus
 and Athene, and fire with them (they could neither have been
 acquired nor used without fire), and gave them to man. Thus man had
 the wisdom necessary to the support of life, but political wisdom he
 had not; for that was in the keeping of Zeus, and the power of
 Prometheus did not extend to entering into the citadel of heaven,
 where Zeus dwelt, who moreover had terrible sentinels; but he did
 enter by stealth into the common workshop of Athene and Hephaestus, in
 which they used to practise their favourite arts, and carried off
 Hephaestus' art of working by fire, and also the art of Athene, and
 gave them to man. And in this way man was supplied with the means of
 life. But Prometheus is said to have been afterwards prosecuted for
 theft, owing to the blunder of Epimetheus.
   Now man, having a share of the divine attributes, was at first the
 only one of the animals who had any gods, because he alone was of
 their kindred; and he would raise altars and images of them. He was
 not long in inventing articulate speech and names; and he also
 constructed houses and clothes and shoes and beds, and drew sustenance
 from the earth. Thus provided, mankind at first lived dispersed, and
 there were no cities. But the consequence was that they were destroyed
 by the wild beasts, for they were utterly weak in comparison of
 them, and their art was only sufficient to provide them with the means
 of life, and did not enable them to carry on war against the
 animals: food they had, but not as yet the art of government, of which
 the art of war is a part. After a while the desire of
 self-preservation gathered them into cities; but when they were
 gathered together, having no art of government, they evil intreated
 one another, and were again in process of dispersion and
 destruction. Zeus feared that the entire race would be exterminated,
 and so he sent Hermes to them, bearing reverence and justice to be the
 ordering principles of cities and the bonds of friendship and
 conciliation. Hermes asked Zeus how he should impart justice and
 reverence among men:-Should he distribute them as the arts are
 distributed; that is to say, to a favoured few only, one skilled
 individual having enough of medicine or of any other art for many
 unskilled ones? "Shall this be the manner in which I am to
 distribute justice and reverence among men, or shall I give them to
 all?" "To all," said Zeus; "I should like them all to have a share;
 for cities cannot exist, if a few only share in the virtues, as in the
 arts. And further, make a law by my order, that he who has no part
 in reverence and justice shall be put to death, for he is a plague
 of the state."
   And this is the reason, Socrates, why the Athenians and mankind in
 general, when the question relates to carpentering or any other
 mechanical art, allow but a few to share in their deliberations; and
 when any one else interferes, then, as you say, they object, if he
 be not of the favoured few; which, as I reply, is very natural. But
 when they meet to deliberate about political virtue, which proceeds
 only by way of justice and wisdom, they are patient enough of any
 man who speaks of them, as is also natural, because they think that
 every man ought to share in this sort of virtue, and that states could
 not exist if this were otherwise. I have explained to you, Socrates,
 the reason of this phenomenon.
   And that you may not suppose yourself to be deceived in thinking
 that all men regard every man as having a share of justice or
 honesty and of every other political virtue, let me give you a further
 proof, which is this. In other cases, as you are aware, if a man
 says that he is a good flute-player, or skilful in any other art in
 which he has no skill, people either laugh at him or are angry with
 him, and his relations think that he is mad and go and admonish him;
 but when honesty is in question, or some other political virtue,
 even if they know that he is dishonest, yet, if the man comes publicly
 forward and tells the truth about his dishonesty, then, what in the
 other case was held by them to be good sense, they now deem to be
 madness. They say that all men ought to profess honesty whether they
 are honest or not, and that a man is out of his mind who says anything
 else. Their notion is, that a man must have some degree of honesty;
 and that if he has none at all he ought not to be in the world.
   I have been showing that they are right in admitting every man as
 a counsellor about this sort of virtue, as they are of opinion that
 every man is a partaker of it. And I will now endeavour to show
 further that they do not conceive this virtue to be given by nature,
 or to grow spontaneously, but to be a thing which may be taught; and
 which comes to a man by taking pains. No one would instruct, no one
 would rebuke, or be angry with those whose calamities they suppose
 to be due to nature or chance; they do not try to punish or to prevent
 them from being what they are; they do but pity them. Who is so
 foolish as to chastise or instruct the ugly, or the diminutive, or the
 feeble? And for this reason. Because he knows that good and evil of
 this kind is the work of nature and of chance; whereas if a man is
 wanting in those good qualities which are attained by study and
 exercise and teaching, and has only the contrary evil qualities, other
 men are angry with him, and punish and reprove him-of these evil
 qualities one is impiety, another injustice, and they may be described
 generally as the very opposite of political virtue. In such cases
 any man will be angry with another, and reprimand him,-clearly because
 he thinks that by study and learning, the virtue in which the other is
 deficient may be acquired. If you will think, Socrates, of the
 nature of punishment, you will see at once that in the opinion of
 mankind virtue may be acquired; no one punishes the evil-doer under
 the notion, or for the reason, that he has done wrong, only the
 unreasonable fury of a beast acts in that manner. But he who desires
 to inflict rational punishment does not retaliate for a past wrong
 which cannot be undone; he has regard to the future, and is desirous
 that the man who is punished, and he who sees him punished, may be
 deterred from doing wrong again. He punishes for the sake of
 prevention, thereby clearly implying that virtue is capable of being
 taught. This is the notion of all who retaliate upon others either
 privately or publicly. And the Athenians, too, your own citizens, like
 other men, punish and take vengeance on all whom they regard as evil
 doers; and hence, we may infer them to be of the number of those who
 think that virtue may be acquired and taught. Thus far, Socrates, I
 have shown you clearly enough, if I am not mistaken, that your
 countrymen are right in admitting the tinker and the cobbler to advise
 about politics, and also that they deem virtue to be capable of
 being taught and acquired.
   There yet remains one difficulty which has been raised by you
 about the sons of good men. What is the reason why good men teach
 their sons the knowledge which is gained from teachers, and make
 them wise in that, but do nothing towards improving them in the
 virtues which distinguish themselves? And here, Socrates, I will leave
 the apologue and resume the argument. Please to consider: Is there
 or is there not some one quality of which all the citizens must be
 partakers, if there is to be a city at all? In the answer to this
 question is contained the only solution of your difficulty; there is
 no other. For if there be any such quality, and this quality or
 unity is not the art of the carpenter, or the smith, or the potter,
 but justice and temperance and holiness and, in a word, manly
 virtue-if this is the quality of which all men must be partakers,
 and which is the very condition of their learning or doing anything
 else, and if he who is wanting in this, whether he be a child only
 or a grown-up man or woman, must be taught and punished, until by
 punishment he becomes better, and he who rebels against instruction
 and punishment is either exiled or condemned to death under the idea
 that he is incurable-if what I am saying be true, good men have
 their sons taught other things and not this, do consider how
 extraordinary their conduct would appear to be. For we have shown that
 they think virtue capable of being taught and cultivated both in
 private and public; and, notwithstanding, they have their sons
 taught lesser matters, ignorance of which does not involve the
 punishment of death: but greater things, of which the ignorance may
 cause death and exile to those who have no training or knowledge of
 them-aye, and confiscation as well as death, and, in a word, may be
 the ruin of families-those things, I say, they are supposed not to
 teach them-not to take the utmost care that they should learn. How
 improbable is this, Socrates!
   Education and admonition commence in the first years of childhood,
 and last to the very end of life. Mother and nurse and father and
 tutor are vying with one another about the improvement of the child as
 soon as ever he is able to understand what is being said to him: he
 cannot say or do anything without their setting forth to him that this
 is just and that is unjust; this is honourable, that is dishonourable;
 this is holy, that is unholy; do this and abstain from that. And if he
 obeys, well and good; if not, he is straightened by threats and blows,
 like a piece of bent or warped wood. At a later stage they send him to
 teachers, and enjoin them to see to his manners even more than to
 his reading and music; and the teachers do as they are desired. And
 when the boy has learned his letters and is beginning to understand
 what is written, as before he understood only what was spoken, they
 put into his hands the works of great poets, which he reads sitting on
 a bench at school; in these are contained many admonitions, and many
 tales, and praises, and encomia of ancient famous men, which he is
 required to learn by heart, in order that he may imitate or emulate
 them and desire to become like them. Then, again, the teachers of
 the lyre take similar care that their young disciple is temperate
 and gets into no mischief; and when they have taught him the use of
 the lyre, they introduce him to the poems of other excellent poets,
 who are the lyric poets; and these they set to music, and make their
 harmonies ana rhythms quite familiar to the children's souls, in order
 that they may learn to be more gentle, and harmonious, and rhythmical,
 and so more fitted for speech and action; for the life of man in every
 part has need of harmony and rhythm. Then they send them to the master
 of gymnastic, in order that their bodies may better minister to the
 virtuous mind, and that they may not be compelled through bodily
 weakness to play the coward in war or on any other occasion. This is
 what is done by those who have the means, and those who have the means
 are the rich; their children begin to go to school soonest and leave
 off latest. When they have done with masters, the state again
 compels them to learn the laws, and live after the pattern which
 they furnish, and not after their own fancies; and just as in learning
 to write, the writing-master first draws lines with a style for the
 use of the young beginner, and gives him the tablet and makes him
 follow the lines, so the city draws the laws, which were the invention
 of good lawgivers living in the olden time; these are given to the
 young man, in order to guide him in his conduct whether he is
 commanding or obeying; and he who transgresses them is to be
 corrected, or, in other words, called to account, which is a term used
 not only in your country, but also in many others, seeing that justice
 calls men to account. Now when there is all this care about virtue
 private and public, why, Socrates, do you still wonder and doubt
 whether virtue can be taught? Cease to wonder, for the opposite
 would be far more surprising.
   But why then do the sons of good fathers often turn out ill? There
 is nothing very wonderful in this; for, as I have been saying, the
 existence of a state implies that virtue is not any man's private
 possession. If so-and nothing can be truer-then I will further ask you
 to imagine, as an illustration, some other pursuit or branch of
 knowledge which may be assumed equally to be the condition of the
 existence of a state. Suppose that there could be no state unless we
 were all flute-players, as far as each had the capacity, and everybody
 was freely teaching everybody the art, both in private and public, and
 reproving the bad player as freely and openly as every man now teaches
 justice and the laws, not concealing them as he would conceal the
 other arts, but imparting them-for all of us have a mutual interest in
 the justice and virtue of one another, and this is the reason why
 every one is so ready to teach justice and the laws;-suppose, I say,
 that there were the same readiness and liberality among us in teaching
 one another flute-playing, do you imagine, Socrates, that the sons
 of good flute players would be more likely to be good than the sons of
 bad ones? I think not. Would not their sons grow up to be
 distinguished or undistinguished according to their own natural
 capacities as flute-players, and the son of a good player would
 often turn out to be a bad one, and the son of a bad player to be a
 good one, all flute-players would be good enough in comparison of
 those who were ignorant and unacquainted with the art of
 flute-playing? In like manner I would have you consider that he who
 appears to you to be the worst of those who have been brought up in
 laws and humanities, would appear to be a just man and a master of
 justice if he were to be compared with men who had no education, or
 courts of justice, or laws, or any restraints upon them which
 compelled them to practise virtue-with the savages, for example,
 whom the poet Pherecrates exhibited on the stage at the last year's
 Lenaean festival. If you were living among men such as the
 man-haters in his Chorus, you would be only too glad to meet with
 Eurybates and Phrynondas, and you would sorrowfully long to revisit
 the rascality of this part of the world. you, Socrates, are
 discontented, and why? Because all men are teachers of virtue, each
 one according to his ability; and you say, Where are the teachers? You
 might as well ask, Who teaches Greek? For of that too there will not
 be any teachers found. Or you might ask, Who is to teach the sons of
 our artisans this same art which they have learned of their fathers?
 He and his fellow-workmen have taught them to the best of their
 ability,-but who will carry them further in their arts? And you
 would certainly have a difficulty, Socrates, in finding a teacher of
 them; but there would be no difficulty in finding a teacher of those
 who are wholly ignorant. And this is true of virtue or of anything
 else; if a man is better able than we are to promote virtue ever so
 little, we must be content with the result. A teacher of this sort I
 believe myself to be, and above all other men to have the knowledge
 which makes a man noble and good; and I give my pupils their
 money's-worth, and even more, as they themselves confess. And
 therefore I have introduced the following mode of payment:-When a
 man has been my pupil, if he likes he pays my price, but there is no
 compulsion; and if he does not like, he has only to go into a temple
 and take an oath of the value of the instructions, and he pays no more
 than he declares to be their value.
   Such is my Apologue, Socrates, and such is the argument by which I
 endeavour to show that virtue may be taught, and that this is the
 opinion of the Athenians. And I have also attempted to show that you
 are not to wonder at good fathers having bad sons, or at good sons
 having bad fathers, of which the sons of Polycleitus afford an
 example, who are the companions of our friends here, Paralus and
 Xanthippus, but are nothing in comparison with their father; and
 this is true of the sons of many other artists. As yet I ought not
 to say the same of Paralus and Xanthippus themselves, for they are
 young and there is still hope of them.
   Protagoras ended, and in my ear
     So charming left his voice, that I the while
     Thought him still speaking; still stood fixed to hear.
 At length, when the truth dawned upon me, that he had really finished,
 not without difficulty I began to collect myself, and looking at
 Hippocrates, I said to him: O son of Apollodorus, how deeply
 grateful I am to you for having brought me hither; I would not have
 missed the speech of Protagoras for a great deal. For I used to
 imagine that no human care could make men good; but I know better now.
 Yet I have still one very small difficulty which I am sure that
 Protagoras will easily explain, as he has already explained so much.
 If a man were to go and consult Pericles or any of our great
 speakers about these matters, he might perhaps hear as fine a
 discourse; but then when one has a question to ask of any of them,
 like books, they can neither answer nor ask; and if any one challenges
 the least particular of their speech, they go ringing on in a long
 harangue, like brazen pots, which when they are struck continue to
 sound unless some one puts his hand upon them; whereas our friend
 Protagoras can not only make a good speech, as he has already shown,
 but when he is asked a question he can answer briefly; and when he
 asks he will wait and hear the answer; and this is a very rare gift.
 Now I, Protagoras, want to ask of you a little question, which if
 you will only answer, I shall be quite satisfied. You were saying that
 virtue can be taught;-that I will take upon your authority, and
 there is no one to whom I am more ready to trust. But I marvel at
 one thing about which I should like to have my mind set at rest. You
 were speaking of Zeus sending justice and reverence to men; and
 several times while you were speaking, justice, and temperance, and
 holiness, and all these qualities, were described by you as if
 together they made up virtue. Now I want you to tell me truly
 whether virtue is one whole, of which justice and temperance and
 holiness are parts; or whether all these are only the names of one and
 the same thing: that is the doubt which still lingers in my mind.
   There is no difficulty, Socrates, in answering that the qualities of
 which you are speaking are the parts of virtue which is one.
   And are they parts, I said, in the same sense in which mouth,
 nose, and eyes, and ears, are the parts of a face; or are they like
 the parts of gold, which differ from the whole and from one another
 only in being larger or smaller?
   I should say that they differed, Socrates, in the first way; they
 are related to one another as the parts of a face are related to the
 whole face.
   And do men have some one part and some another part of virtue? Of if
 a man has one part, must he also have all the others?
   By no means, he said; for many a man is brave and not just, or
 just and not wise.
   You would not deny, then, that courage and wisdom are also parts
 of virtue?
   Most undoubtedly they are, he answered; and wisdom is the noblest of
 the parts.
   And they are all different from one another? I said.
   And has each of them a distinct function like the parts of the
 face;-the eye, for example, is not like the ear, and has not the
 same functions; and the other parts are none of them like one another,
 either in their functions, or in any other way? I want to know whether
 the comparison holds concerning the parts of virtue. Do they also
 differ from one another in themselves and in their functions? For that
 is clearly what the simile would imply.
   Yes, Socrates, you are right in supposing that they differ.
   Then, I said, no other part of virtue is like knowledge, or like
 justice, or like courage, or like temperance, or like holiness?
   No, he answered.
   Well then, I said, suppose that you and I enquire into their
 natures. And first, you would agree with me that justice is of the
 nature of a thing, would you not? That is my opinion: would it not
 be yours also?
   Mine also, he said.
   And suppose that some one were to ask us, saying, "O Protagoras, and
 you, Socrates, what about this thing which you were calling justice,
 is it just or unjust?"-and I were to answer, just: would you vote with
 me or against me?
   With you, he said.
   Thereupon I should answer to him who asked me, that justice is of
 the nature of the just: would not you?
   Yes, he said.
   And suppose that he went on to say: "Well now, is there also such
 a thing as holiness? "we should answer, "Yes," if I am not mistaken?
   Yes, he said.
   Which you would also acknowledge to be a thing-should we not say so?
   He assented.
   "And is this a sort of thing which is of the nature of the holy,
 or of the nature of the unholy?" I should be angry at his putting such
 a question, and should say, "Peace, man; nothing can be holy if
 holiness is not holy." What would you say? Would you not answer in the
 same way?
   Certainly, he said.
   And then after this suppose that he came and asked us, "What were
 you saying just now? Perhaps I may not have heard you rightly, but you
 seemed to me to be saying that the parts of virtue were not the same
 as one another." I should reply, "You certainly heard that said, but
 not, as you imagine, by me; for I only asked the question;
 Protagoras gave the answer." And suppose that he turned to you and
 said, "Is this true, Protagoras? and do you maintain that one part
 of virtue is unlike another, and is this your position?"-how would you
 answer him?
   I could not help acknowledging the truth of what he said, Socrates.
   Well then, Protagoras, we will assume this; and now supposing that
 he proceeded to say further, "Then holiness is not of the nature of
 justice, nor justice of the nature of holiness, but of the nature of
 unholiness; and holiness is of the nature of the not just, and
 therefore of the unjust, and the unjust is the unholy": how shall we
 answer him? I should certainly answer him on my own behalf that
 justice is holy, and that holiness is just; and I would say in like
 manner on your behalf also, if you would allow me, that justice is
 either the same with holiness, or very nearly the same; and above
 all I would assert that justice is like holiness and holiness is
 like justice; and I wish that you would tell me whether I may be
 permitted to give this answer on your behalf, and whether you would
 agree with me.
   He replied, I cannot simply agree, Socrates, to the proposition that
 justice is holy and that holiness is just, for there appears to me
 to be a difference between them. But what matter? if you please I
 please; and let us assume, if you will I, that justice is holy, and
 that holiness is just.
   Pardon me, I replied; I do not want this "if you wish" or "if you
 will" sort of conclusion to be proven, but I want you and me to be
 proven: I mean to say that the conclusion will be best proven if there
 be no "if."
   Well, he said, I admit that justice bears a resemblance to holiness,
 for there is always some point of view in which everything is like
 every other thing; white is in a certain way like black, and hard is
 like soft, and the most extreme opposites have some qualities in
 common; even the parts of the face which, as we were saying before,
 are distinct and have different functions, are still in a certain
 point of view similar, and one of them is like another of them. And
 you may prove that they are like one another on the same principle
 that all things are like one another; and yet things which are like in
 some particular ought not to be called alike, nor things which are
 unlike in some particular, however slight, unlike.
   And do you think, I said in a tone of surprise, that justice and
 holiness have but a small degree of likeness?
   Certainly not; any more than I agree with what I understand to be
 your view.
   Well, I said, as you appear to have a difficulty about this, let
 us take another of the examples which you mentioned instead. Do you
 admit the existence of folly?
   I do.
   And is not wisdom the. very opposite of folly?
   That is true, he said.
   And when men act rightly and advantageously they seem to you to be
   Yes, he said.
   And temperance makes them temperate?
   And they who do not act rightly act foolishly, and in acting thus
 are not temperate?
   I agree, he said.
   Then to act foolishly is the opposite of acting temperately?
   He assented.
   And foolish actions are done by folly, and temperate actions by
   He agreed.
   And that is done strongly which is done by strength, and that
 which is weakly done, by weakness?
   He assented.
   And that which is done with swiftness is done swiftly, and that
 which is done with slowness, slowly?
   He assented again.
   And that which is done in the same manner, is done by the same;
 and that which is done in an opposite manner by the opposite?
   He agreed.
   Once more, I said, is there anything beautiful?
   To which the only opposite is the ugly?
   There is no other.
   And is there anything good?
   There is.
   To which the only opposite is the evil?
   There is no other.
   And there is the acute in sound?
   To which the only opposite is the grave?
   There is no other, he said, but that.
   Then every opposite has one opposite only and no more?
   He assented.
   Then now, I said, let us recapitulate our admissions. First of all
 we admitted that everything has one opposite and not more than one?
   We did so.
   And we admitted also that what was done in opposite ways was done by
   And that which was done foolishly, as we further admitted, was
 done in the opposite way to that which was done temperately?
   And that which was done temperately was done by temperance, and that
 which was done foolishly by folly?
   He agreed.
   And that which is done in opposite ways is done by opposites?
   And one thing is done by temperance, and quite another thing by
   And in opposite ways?
   And therefore by opposites:-then folly is the opposite of
   And do you remember that folly has already been acknowledged by us
 to be the opposite of wisdom?
   He assented.
   And we said that everything has only one opposite?
   Then, Protagoras, which of the two assertions shall we renounce? One
 says that everything has but one opposite; the other that wisdom is
 distinct from temperance, and that both of them are parts of virtue;
 and that they are not only distinct, but dissimilar, both in
 themselves and in their functions, like the parts of a face. Which
 of these two assertions shall we renounce? For both of them together
 are certainly not in harmony; they do not accord or agree: for how can
 they be said to agree if everything is assumed to have only one
 opposite and not more than one, and yet folly, which is one, has
 clearly the two opposites wisdom and temperance? Is not that true,
 Protagoras? What else would you say?
   He assented, but with great reluctance.
   Then temperance and wisdom are the same, as before justice and
 holiness appeared to us to be nearly the same. And now, Protagoras,
 I said, we must finish the enquiry, and not faint. Do you think that
 an unjust man can be temperate in his injustice?
   I should be ashamed, Socrates, he said, to acknowledge this which
 nevertheless many may be found to assert.
   And shall I argue with them or with you? I replied.
   I would rather, he said, that you should argue with the many
 first, if you will.
   Whichever you please, if you will only answer me and say whether you
 are of their opinion or not. My object is to test the validity of
 the argument; and yet the result may be that I who ask and you who
 answer may both be put on our trial.
   Protagoras at first made a show of refusing, as he said that the
 argument was not encouraging; at length, he consented to answer.
   Now then, I said, begin at the beginning and answer me. You think
 that some men are temperate, and yet unjust?
   Yes, he said; let that be admitted.
   And temperance is good sense?
   And good sense is good counsel in doing injustice?
   If they succeed, I said, or if they do not succeed?
   If they succeed.
   And you would admit the existence of goods?
   And is the good that which is expedient for man?
   Yes, indeed, he said: and there are some things which may be
 inexpedient, and yet I call them good.
   I thought that Protagoras was getting ruffled and excited; he seemed
 to be setting himself in an attitude of war. Seeing this, I minded
 my business, and gently said:-
   When you say, Protagoras, that things inexpedient are good, do you
 mean inexpedient for man only, or inexpedient altogether? and do you
 call the latter good?
   Certainly not the last, he replied; for I know of many things-meats,
 drinks, medicines, and ten thousand other things, which are
 inexpedient for man, and some which are expedient; and some which
 are neither expedient nor inexpedient for man, but only for horses;
 and some for oxen only, and some for dogs; and some for no animals,
 but only for trees; and some for the roots of trees and not for
 their branches, as for example, manure, which is a good thing when
 laid about the roots of a tree, but utterly destructive if thrown upon
 the shoots and young branches; or I may instance olive oil, which is
 mischievous to all plants, and generally most injurious to the hair of
 every animal with the exception of man, but beneficial to human hair
 and to the human body generally; and even in this application (so
 various and changeable is the nature of the benefit), that which is
 the greatest good to the outward parts of a man, is a very great
 evil to his inward parts: and for this reason physicians always forbid
 their patients the use of oil in their food, except in very small
 quantities, just enough to extinguish the disagreeable sensation of
 smell in meats and sauces.
   When he had given this answer, the company cheered him. And I
 said: Protagoras, I have a wretched memory, and when any one makes a
 long speech to me I never remember what he is talking about. As
 then, if I had been deaf, and you were going to converse with me,
 you would have had to raise your voice; so now, having such a bad
 memory, I will ask you to cut your answers shorter, if you would
 take me with you.
   What do you mean? he said: how am I to shorten my answers? shall I
 make them too short?
   Certainly not, I said.
   But short enough?
   Yes, I said.
   Shall I answer what appears to me to be short enough, or what
 appears to you to be short enough?
   I have heard, I said, that you can speak and teach others to speak
 about the same things at such length that words never seemed to
 fail, or with such brevity that no one could use fewer of them. Please
 therefore, if you talk with me, to adopt the latter or more
 compendious method.
   Socrates, he replied, many a battle of words have I fought, and if I
 had followed the method of disputation which my adversaries desired,
 as you want me to do, I should have been no better than another, and
 the name of Protagoras would have been nowhere.
   I saw that he was not satisfied with his previous answers, and
 that he would not play the part of answerer any more if he could help;
 and I considered that there was no call upon me to continue the
 conversation; so I said: Protagoras, I do not wish to force the
 conversation upon you if you had rather not, but when you are
 willing to argue with me in such a way that I can follow you, then I
 will argue with you. Now you, as is said of you by others and as you
 say of yourself, are able to have discussions in shorter forms of
 speech as well as in longer, for you are a master of wisdom; but I
 cannot manage these long speeches: I only wish that I could. You, on
 the other hand, who are capable of either, ought to speak shorter as I
 beg you, and then we might converse. But I see that you are
 disinclined, and as I have an engagement which will prevent my staying
 to hear you at greater length (for I have to be in another place), I
 will depart; although I should have liked to have heard you.
   Thus I spoke, and was rising from my seat, when Callias seized me by
 the right hand, and in his left hand caught hold of this old cloak
 of mine. He said: We cannot let you go, Socrates, for if you leave
 us there will be an end of our discussions: I must therefore beg you
 to remain, as there is nothing in the world that I should like
 better than to hear you and Protagoras discourse. Do not deny the
 company this pleasure.
   Now I had got up, and was in the act of departure. Son of
 Hipponicus, I replied, I have always admired, and do now heartily
 applaud and love your philosophical spirit, and I would gladly
 comply with your request, if I could. But the truth is that I
 cannot. And what you ask is as great an impossibility to me, as if you
 bade me run a race with Crison of Himera, when in his prime, or with
 some one of the long or day course runners. To such a request I should
 reply that I would fain ask the same of my own legs; but they refuse
 to comply. And therefore if you want to see Crison and me in the
 same stadium, you must bid him slacken his speed to mine, for I cannot
 run quickly, and he can run slowly. And in like manner if you want
 to hear me and Protagoras discoursing, you must ask him to shorten his
 answers, and keep to the point, as he did at first; if not, how can
 there be any discussion? For discussion is one thing, and making an
 oration is quite another, in my humble opinion.
   But you see, Socrates, said Callias, that Protagoras may fairly
 claim to speak in his own way, just as you claim to speak in yours.
   Here Alcibiades interposed, and said: That, Callias, is not a true
 statement of the case. For our friend Socrates admits that he cannot
 make a speech-in this he yields the palm to Protagoras: but I should
 be greatly surprised if he yielded to any living man in the power of
 holding and apprehending an argument. Now if Protagoras will make a
 similar admission, and confess that he is inferior to Socrates in
 argumentative skill, that is enough for Socrates; but if he claims a
 superiority in argument as well, let him ask and answer-not, when a
 question is asked, slipping away from the point, and instead of
 answering, making a speech at such length that most of his hearers
 forget the question at issue (not that Socrates is likely to
 forget-I will be bound for that, although he may pretend in fun that
 he has a bad memory). And Socrates appears to me to be more in the
 right than Protagoras; that is my view, and every man ought to say
 what he thinks.
   When Alcibiades had done speaking, some one-Critias, I
 believe-went on to say: O Prodicus and Hippias, Callias appears to
 me to be a partisan of Protagoras: and this led Alcibiades, who
 loves opposition, to take the other side. But we should not be
 partisans either of Socrates or of Protagoras; let us rather unite
 in entreating both of them not to break up the discussion.
   Prodicus added: That, Critias, seems to me to be well said, for
 those who are present at such discussions ought to be impartial
 hearers of both the speakers; remembering, however, that
 impartiality is not the same as equality, for both sides should be
 impartially heard, and yet an equal meed should not be assigned to
 both of them; but to the wiser a higher meed should be given, and a
 lower to the less wise. And I as well as Critias would beg you,
 Protagoras and Socrates, to grant our request, which is, that you will
 argue with one another and not wrangle; for friends argue with friends
 out of goodwill, but only adversaries and enemies wrangle. And then
 our meeting will be delightful; for in this way you, who are the
 speakers, will be most likely to win esteem, and not praise only,
 among us who are your audience; for esteem is a sincere conviction
 of the hearers' souls, but praise is often an insincere expression
 of men uttering falsehoods contrary to their conviction. And thus we
 who are the hearers will be gratified and not pleased; for
 gratification is of the mind when receiving wisdom and knowledge,
 but pleasure is of the body when eating or experiencing some other
 bodily delight. Thus spoke Prodicus, and many of the company applauded
 his words.
   Hippias the sage spoke next. He said: All of you who are here
 present I reckon to be kinsmen and friends and fellow-citizens, by
 nature and not by law; for by nature like is akin to like, whereas law
 is the tyrant of mankind, and often compels us to do many things which
 are against nature. How great would be the disgrace then, if we, who
 know the nature of things, and are the wisest of the Hellenes, and
 as such are met together in this city, which is the metropolis of
 wisdom, and in the greatest and most glorious house of this city,
 should have nothing to show worthy of this height of dignity, but
 should only quarrel with one another like the meanest of mankind I
 pray and advise you, Protagoras, and you, Socrates, to agree upon a
 compromise. Let us be your peacemakers. And do not you, Socrates,
 aim at this precise and extreme brevity in discourse, if Protagoras
 objects, but loosen and let go the reins of speech, that your words
 may be grander and more becoming to you. Neither do you, Protagoras,
 go forth on the gale with every sail set out of sight of land into
 an ocean of words, but let there be a mean observed by both of you. Do
 as I say. And let me also persuade you to choose an arbiter or
 overseer or president; he will keep watch over your words and will
 prescribe their proper length.
   This proposal was received by the company with universal approval;
 Callias said that he would not let me off, and they begged me to
 choose an arbiter. But I said that to choose an umpire of discourse
 would be unseemly; for if the person chosen was inferior, then the
 inferior or worse ought not to preside over the better; or if he was
 equal, neither would that be well; for he who is our equal will do
 as we do, and what will be the use of choosing him? And if you say,
 "Let us have a better then,"-to that I answer that you cannot have any
 one who is wiser than Protagoras. And if you choose another who is not
 really better, and whom you only say is better, to put another over
 him as though he were an inferior person would be an unworthy
 reflection on him; not that, as far as I am concerned, any
 reflection is of much consequence to me. Let me tell you then what I
 will do in order that the conversation and discussion may go on as you
 desire. If Protagoras is not disposed to answer, let him ask and I
 will answer; and I will endeavour to show at the same time how, as I
 maintain, he ought to answer: and when I have answered as many
 questions as he likes to ask, let him in like manner answer me; and if
 he seems to be not very ready at answering the precise question
 asked of him, you and I will unite in entreating him, as you entreated
 me, not to spoil the discussion. And this will require no special
 arbiter-all of you shall be arbiters.
   This was generally approved, and Protagoras, though very much
 against his will, was obliged to agree that he would ask questions;
 and when he had put a sufficient number of them, that he would
 answer in his turn those which he was asked in short replies. He began
 to put his questions as follows:-
   I am of opinion, Socrates, he said, that skill in poetry is the
 principal part of education; and this I conceive to be the power of
 knowing what compositions of the poets are correct, and what are
 not, and how they are to be distinguished, and of explaining when
 asked the reason of the difference. And I propose to transfer the
 question which you and I have been discussing to the domain of poetry;
 we will speak as before of virtue, but in reference to a passage of
 a poet. Now Simonides says to Scopas the son of Creon the Thessalian:
   Hardly on the one hand can a man become truly good, built
 four-square in hands and feet and mind, a work without a flaw.
 Do you know the poem? or shall I repeat the whole?
   There is no need, I said; for I am perfectly well acquainted with
 the ode-I have made a careful study of it.
   Very well, he said. And do you think that the ode is a good
 composition, and true?
   Yes, I said, both good and true.
   But if there is a contradiction, can the composition be good or
   No, not in that case, I replied.
   And is there not a contradiction? he asked. Reflect.
   Well, my friend, I have reflected.
   And does not the poet proceed to say, "I do not agree with the
 word of Pittacus, albeit the utterance of a wise man: Hardly can a man
 be good"? Now you will observe that this is said by the same poet.
   I know it.
   And do you think, he said, that the two sayings are consistent?
   Yes, I said, I think so (at the same time I could not help fearing
 that there might be something in what he said). And you think
   Why, he said, how can he be consistent in both? First of all,
 premising as his own thought, "Hardly can a man become truly good";
 and then a little further on in the poem, forgetting, and blaming
 Pittacus and refusing to agree with him, when he says, "Hardly can a
 man be good," which is the very same thing. And yet when he blames him
 who says the same with himself, he blames himself; so that he must
 be wrong either in his first or his second assertion.
   Many of the audience cheered and applauded this. And I felt at first
 giddy and faint, as if I had received a blow from the hand of an
 expert boxer, when I heard his words and the sound of the cheering;
 and to confess the truth, I wanted to get time to think what the
 meaning of the poet really was. So I turned to Prodicus and called
 him. Prodicus, I said, Simonides is a countryman of yours, and you
 ought to come to his aid. I must appeal to you, like the river
 Scamander in Homer, who, when beleaguered by Achilles, summons the
 Simois to aid him, saying:
   Brother dear, let us both together stay the force of the hero.
 And I summon you, for I am afraid that Protagoras will make an end
 of Simonides. Now is the time to rehabilitate Simonides, by the
 application of your philosophy of synonyms, which enables you to
 distinguish "will" and "wish," and make other charming distinctions
 like those which you drew just now. And I should like to know
 whether you would agree with me; for I am of opinion that there is
 no contradiction in the words of Simonides. And first of all I wish
 that you would say whether, in your opinion, Prodicus, "being" is
 the same as "becoming."
   Not the same, certainly, replied Prodicus.
   Did not Simonides first set forth, as his own view, that "Hardly can
 a man become truly good"?
   Quite right, said Prodicus.
   And then he blames Pittacus, not, as Protagoras imagines, for
 repeating that which he says himself, but for saying something
 different from himself. Pittacus does not say as Simonides says,
 that hardly can a man become good, but hardly can a man be good: and
 our friend Prodicus would maintain that being, Protagoras, is not
 the same as becoming; and if they are not the same, then Simonides
 is not inconsistent with himself. I dare say that Prodicus and many
 others would say, as Hesiod says,
    On the one hand, hardly can a man become good,
    For the gods have made virtue the reward of toil,
    But on the other hand, when you have climbed the height,
    Then, to retain virtue, however difficult the acquisition, is easy.
   Prodicus heard and approved; but Protagoras said: Your correction,
 Socrates, involves a greater error than is contained in the sentence
 which you are correcting.
   Alas! I said, Protagoras; then I am a sorry physician, and do but
 aggravate a disorder which I am seeking to cure.
   Such is the fact, he said.
   How so? I asked.
   The poet, he replied, could never have made such a mistake as to say
 that virtue, which in the opinion of all men is the hardest of all
 things, can be easily retained.
   Well, I said, and how fortunate are we in having Prodicus among
 us, at the right moment; for he has a wisdom, Protagoras, which, as
 I imagine, is more than human and of very ancient date, and may be
 as old as Simonides or even older. Learned as you are in many
 things, you appear to know nothing of this; but I know, for I am a
 disciple of his. And now, if I am not mistaken, you do not
 understand the word "hard" (chalepon) in the sense which Simonides
 intended; and I must correct you, as Prodicus corrects me when I use
 the word "awful" (deinon) as a term of praise. If I say that
 Protagoras or any one else is an "awfully" wise man, he asks me if I
 am not ashamed of calling that which is good "awful"; and then he
 explains to me that the term "awful" is always taken in a bad sense,
 and that no one speaks of being "awfully" healthy or wealthy, or
 "awful" peace, but of "awful" disease, "awful" war, "awful" poverty,
 meaning by the term "awful," evil. And I think that Simonides and
 his countrymen the Ceans, when they spoke of "hard" meant "evil," or
 something which you do not understand. Let us ask Prodicus, for he
 ought to be able to answer questions about the dialect of Simonides.
 What did he mean, Prodicus, by the term "hard?"
   Evil, said Prodicus.
   And therefore, I said, Prodicus, he blames Pittacus for saying,
 "Hard is the good," just as if that were equivalent to saying, Evil is
 the good.
   Yes, he said, that was certainly his meaning; and he is twitting
 Pittacus with ignorance of the use of terms, which in a Lesbian, who
 has been accustomed to speak a barbarous language, is natural.
   Do you hear, Protagoras, I asked, what our friend Prodicus is
 saying? And have you an answer for him?
   You are entirely mistaken, Prodicus, said Protagoras; and I know
 very well that Simonides in using the word "hard" meant what all of us
 mean, not evil, but that which is not easy-that which takes a great
 deal of trouble: of this I am positive.
   I said: I also incline to believe, Protagoras, that this was the
 meaning of Simonides, of which our friend Prodicus was very well
 aware, but he thought that he would make fun, and try if you could
 maintain your thesis; for that Simonides could never have meant the
 other is clearly proved by the context, in which he says that God only
 has this gift. Now he cannot surely mean to say that to be good is
 evil, when he afterwards proceeds to say that God only has this
 gift, and that this is the attribute of him and of no other. For if
 this be his meaning, Prodicus would impute to Simonides a character of
 recklessness which is very unlike his countrymen. And I should like to
 tell you, I said, what I imagine to be the real meaning of Simonides
 in this poem, if you will test what, in your way of speaking, would be
 called my skill in poetry; or if you would rather, I will be the
   To this proposal Protagoras replied: As you please;-and Hippias,
 Prodicus, and the others told me by all means to do as I proposed.
   Then now, I said, I will endeavour to explain to you my opinion
 about this poem of Simonides. There is a very ancient philosophy which
 is more cultivated in Crete and Lacedaemon than in any other part of
 Hellas, and there are more philosophers in those countries than
 anywhere else in the world. This, however, is a secret which the
 Lacedaemonians deny; and they pretend to be ignorant, just because
 they do not wish to have it thought that they rule the world by
 wisdom, like the Sophists of whom Protagoras was speaking, and not
 by valour of arms; considering that if the reason of their superiority
 were disclosed, all men would be practising their wisdom. And this
 secret of theirs has never been discovered by the imitators of
 Lacedaemonian fashions in other cities, who go about with their ears
 bruised in imitation of them, and have the caestus bound on their
 arms, and are always in training, and wear short cloaks; for they
 imagine that these are the practices which have enabled the
 Lacedaemonians to conquer the other Hellenes. Now when the
 Lacedaemonians want to unbend and hold free conversation with their
 wise men, and are no longer satisfied with mere secret intercourse,
 they drive out all these laconizers, and any other foreigners who
 may happen to be in their country, and they hold a philosophical
 seance unknown to strangers; and they themselves forbid their young
 men to go out into other cities-in this they are like the Cretans-in
 order that they may not unlearn the lessons which they have taught
 them. And in Lacedaemon and Crete not only men but also women have a
 pride in their high cultivation. And hereby you may know that I am
 right in attributing to the Lacedaemonians this excellence in
 philosophy and speculation: If a man converses with the most
 ordinary Lacedaemonian, he will find him seldom good for much in
 general conversation, but at any point in the discourse he will be
 darting out some notable saying, terse and full of meaning, with
 unerring aim; and the person with whom he is talking seems to be
 like a child in his hands. And many of our own age and of former
 ages have noted that the true Lacedaemonian type of character has
 the love of philosophy even stronger than the love of gymnastics; they
 are conscious that only a perfectly educated man is capable of
 uttering such expressions. Such were Thales of Miletus, and Pittacus
 of Mitylene, and Bias of Priene, and our own Solon, and Cleobulus
 the Lindian, and Myson the Chenian; and seventh in the catalogue of
 wise men was the Lacedaemonian Chilo. All these were lovers and
 emulators and disciples of the culture of the Lacedaemonians, and
 any one may perceive that their wisdom was of this character;
 consisting of short memorable sentences, which they severally uttered.
 And they met together and dedicated in the temple of Apollo at Delphi,
 as the first-fruits of their wisdom, the far-famed inscriptions, which
 are in all men's mouths-"Know thyself," and "Nothing too much."
   Why do I say all this? I am explaining that this Lacedaemonian
 brevity was the style of primitive philosophy. Now there was a
 saying of Pittacus which was privately circulated and received the
 approbation of the wise, "Hard is it to be good." And Simonides, who
 was ambitious of the fame of wisdom, was aware that if he could
 overthrow this saying, then, as if he had won a victory over some
 famous athlete, he would carry off the palm among his
 contemporaries. And if I am not mistaken, he composed the entire
 poem with the secret intention of damaging Pittacus and his saying.
   Let us all unite in examining his words, and see whether I am
 speaking the truth. Simonides must have been a lunatic, if, in the
 very first words of the poem, wanting to say only that to become
 good is hard, he inserted (men) "on the one hand" ["on the one hand to
 become good is hard"]; there would be no reason for the introduction
 of (men), unless you suppose him to speak with a hostile reference
 to the words of Pittacus. Pittacus is saying "Hard is it to be
 good," and he, in refutation of this thesis, rejoins that the truly
 hard thing, Pittacus, is to become good, not joining "truly" with
 "good," but with "hard." Not, that the hard thing is to be truly good,
 as though there were some truly good men, and there were others who
 were good but not truly good (this would be a very simple observation,
 and quite unworthy of Simonides); but you must suppose him to make a
 trajection of the word "truly," construing the saying of Pittacus thus
 (and let us imagine Pittacus to be speaking and Simonides answering
 him): "O my friends," says Pittacus, "hard is it to be good," and
 Simonides answers, "In that, Pittacus, you are mistaken; the
 difficulty is not to be good, but on the one hand, to become good,
 four-square in hands and feet and mind, without a flaw-that is hard
 truly." This way of reading the passage accounts for the insertion
 of (men) "on the one hand," and for the position at the end of the
 clause of the word "truly," and all that follows shows this to be
 the meaning. A great deal might be said in praise of the details of
 the poem, which is a charming piece of workmanship, and very finished,
 but such minutiae would be tedious. I should like, however, to point
 out the general intention of the poem, which is certainly designed
 in every part to be a refutation of the saying of Pittacus. For he
 speaks in what follows a little further on as if he meant to argue
 that although there is a difficulty in becoming good, yet this is
 possible for a time, and only for a time. But having become good, to
 remain in a good state and be good, as you, Pittacus, affirm, is not
 possible, and is not granted to man; God only has this blessing;
 "but man cannot help being bad when the force of circumstances
 overpowers him." Now whom does the force of circumstance overpower
 in the command of a vessel?-not the private individual, for he is
 always overpowered; and as one who is already prostrate cannot be
 overthrown, and only he who is standing upright but not he who is
 prostrate can be laid prostrate, so the force of circumstances can
 only overpower him who, at some time or other, has resources, and
 not him who is at all times helpless. The descent of a great storm may
 make the pilot helpless, or the severity of the season the
 husbandman or the physician; for the good may become bad, as another
 poet witnesses:
    The good are sometimes good and sometimes bad.
 But the bad does not become bad; he is always bad. So that when the
 force of circumstances overpowers the man of resources and skill and
 virtue, then he cannot help being bad. And you, Pittacus, are
 saying, "Hard is it to be good." Now there is a difficulty in becoming
 good; and yet this is possible: but to be good is an impossibility-
   For he who does well is the good man, and he who does ill is the
 But what sort of doing is good in letters? and what sort of doing
 makes a man good in letters? Clearly the knowing of them. And what
 sort of well-doing makes a man a good physician? Clearly the knowledge
 of the art of healing the sick. "But he who does ill is the bad."
 Now who becomes a bad physician? Clearly he who is in the first
 place a physician, and in the second place a good physician; for he
 may become a bad one also: but none of us unskilled individuals can by
 any amount of doing ill become physicians, any more than we can become
 carpenters or anything of that sort; and he who by doing ill cannot
 become a physician at all, clearly cannot become a bad physician. In
 like manner the good may become deteriorated by time, or toil, or
 disease, or other accident (the only real doing ill is to be
 deprived of knowledge), but the bad man will never become bad, for
 he is always bad; and if he were to become bad, he must previously
 have been good. Thus the words of the poem tend to show that on the
 one hand a man cannot be continuously good, but that he may become
 good and may also become bad; and again that
   They are the best for the longest time whom the gods love.
   All this relates to Pittacus, as is further proved by the sequel.
 For he adds:
   Therefore I will not throw away my span of life to no purpose in
 searching after the impossible, hoping in vain to find a perfectly
 faultless man among those who partake of the fruit of the
 broad-bosomed earth: if I find him, I will send you word.
 (this is the vehement way in which he pursues his attack upon Pittacus
 throughout the whole poem):
   But him who does no evil, voluntarily I praise and love;-not even
 the gods war against necessity.
 All this has a similar drift, for Simonides was not so ignorant as
 to say that he praised those who did no evil voluntarily, as though
 there were some who did evil voluntarily. For no wise man, as I
 believe, will allow that any human being errs voluntarily, or
 voluntarily does evil and dishonourable actions; but they are very
 well aware that all who do evil and dishonourable things do them
 against their will. And Simonides never says that he praises him who
 does no evil voluntarily; the word "voluntarily" applies to himself.
 For he was under the impression that a good man might often compel
 himself to love and praise another, and to be the friend and
 approver of another; and that there might be an involuntary love, such
 as a man might feel to an unnatural father or mother, or country, or
 the like. Now bad men, when their parents or country have any defects,
 look on them with malignant joy, and find fault with them and expose
 and denounce them to others, under the idea that the rest of mankind
 will be less likely to take themselves to task and accuse them of
 neglect; and they blame their defects far more than they deserve, in
 order that the odium which is necessarily incurred by them may be
 increased: but the good man dissembles his feelings, and constrains
 himself to praise them; and if they have wronged him and he is
 angry, he pacifies his anger and is reconciled, and compels himself to
 love and praise his own flesh and blood. And Simonides, as is
 probable, considered that he himself had often had to praise and
 magnify a tyrant or the like, much against his will, and he also
 wishes to imply to Pittacus that he does not censure him because he is
   For I am satisfied [he says] when a man is neither bad nor very
 stupid; and when he knows justice (which is the health of states), and
 is of sound mind, I will find no fault with him, for I am not given to
 finding fault, and there are innumerable fools
 (implying that if he delighted in censure he might have abundant
 opportunity of finding fault).
   All things are good with which evil is unmingled.
 In these latter words he does not mean to say that all things are good
 which have no evil in them, as you might say "All things are white
 which have no black in them," for that would be ridiculous; but he
 means to say that he accepts and finds no fault with the moderate or
 intermediate state. He says:
   I do not hope to find a perfectly blameless man among those who
 partake of the fruits of the broad-bosomed earth (if I find him, I
 will send you word); in this sense I praise no man. But he who is
 moderately good, and does no evil, is good enough for me, who love and
 approve every one.
 (and here observe that he uses a Lesbian word, epainemi [approve],
 because he is addressing Pittacus,
   Who love and approve every one voluntarily, who does no evil:
 and that the stop should be put after "voluntarily"); "but there are
 some whom I involuntarily praise and love. And you, Pittacus, I
 would never have blamed, if you had spoken what was moderately good
 and true; but I do blame you because, putting on the appearance of
 truth, you are speaking falsely about the highest matters. And this, I
 said, Prodicus and Protagoras, I take to be the meaning of Simonides
 in this poem.
   Hippias said: I think, Socrates, that you have given a very good
 explanation of the poem; but I have also an excellent interpretation
 of my own which I will propound to you, if you will allow me.
   Nay, Hippias, said Alcibiades; not now, but at some other time. At
 present we must abide by the compact which was made between Socrates
 and Protagoras, to the effect that as long as Protagoras is willing to
 ask, Socrates should answer; or that if he would rather answer, then
 that Socrates should ask.
   I said: I wish Protagoras either to ask or answer as he is inclined;
 but I would rather have done with poems and odes, if he does not
 object, and come back to the question about which I was asking you
 at first, Protagoras, and by your help make an end of that. The talk
 about the poets seems to me like a commonplace entertainment to
 which a vulgar company have recourse; who, because they are not able
 to converse or amuse one another, while they are drinking, with the
 sound of their own voices and conversation, by reason of their
 stupidity, raise the price of flute-girls in the market, hiring for
 a great sum the voice of a flute instead of their own breath, to be
 the medium of intercourse among them: but where the company are real
 gentlemen and men of education, you will see no flute-girls, nor
 dancing-girls, nor harp-girls; and they have no nonsense or games, but
 are contented with one another's conversation, of which their own
 voices are the medium, and which they carry on by turns and in an
 orderly manner, even though they are very liberal in their
 potations. And a company like this of ours, and men such as we profess
 to be, do not require the help of another's voice, or of the poets
 whom you cannot interrogate about meaning of what they are saying;
 people who cite them declaring, some that the poet has meaning, and
 others that he has another, and the point which is in dispute can
 never be decided. This sort of entertainment they decline, and
 prefer to talk with one another, and put one another to the proof in
 conversation. And these are the models which I desire that you and I
 should imitate. Leaving the poets, and keeping to ourselves, let us
 try the mettle of one another and make proof of the truth in
 conversation. If you have a mind to ask, I am ready to answer; or if
 you would rather, do you answer, and give me the opportunity of
 resuming and completing our unfinished argument.
   I made these and some similar observations; but Protagoras would not
 distinctly say which he would do. Thereupon Alcibiades turned to
 Callias, and said:-Do you think, Callias, that Protagoras is fair in
 refusing to say whether he will or will not answer? for I certainly
 think that he is unfair; he ought either to proceed with the argument,
 or distinctly refuse to proceed, that we may know his intention; and
 then Socrates will be able to discourse with some one else, and the
 rest of the company will be free to talk with one another.
   I think that Protagoras was really made ashamed by these words of
 Alcibiades and when the prayers of Callias and the company were
 superadded, he was at last induced to argue, and said that I might ask
 and he would answer.
   So I said: Do not imagine, Protagoras, that I have any other
 interest in asking questions of you but that of clearing up my own
 difficulties. For I think that Homer was very right in saying that
       When two go together, one sees before the other,
 for all men who have a companion are readier in deed, word, or
 thought; but if a man
           Sees a thing when he is alone,
 he goes about straightway seeking until he finds some one to whom he
 may show his discoveries, and who may confirm him in them. And I would
 rather hold discourse with you than with any one, because I think that
 no man has a better understanding of most things which a good man
 may be expected to understand, and in particular of virtue. For who is
 there, but you?-who not only claim to be a good man and a gentleman,
 for many are this, and yet have not the power of making others good
 whereas you are not only good yourself, but also the cause of goodness
 in others. Moreover such confidence have you in yourself, that
 although other Sophists conceal their profession, you proclaim in
 the face of Hellas that you are a Sophist or teacher of virtue and
 education, and are the first who demanded pay in return. How then
 can I do otherwise than invite you to the examination of these
 subjects, and ask questions and consult with you? I must, indeed.
 And I should like once more to have my memory refreshed by you about
 the questions which I was asking you at first, and also to have your
 help in considering them. If I am not mistaken the question was
 this: Are wisdom and temperance and courage and justice and holiness
 five names of the same thing? or has each of the names a separate
 underlying essence and corresponding thing having a peculiar function,
 no one of them being like any other of them? And you replied that
 the five names were not the names of the same thing, but that each
 of them had a separate object, and that all these objects were parts
 of virtue, not in the same way that the parts of gold are like each
 other and the whole of which they are parts, but as the parts of the
 face are unlike the whole of which they are parts and one another, and
 have each of them a distinct function. I should like to know whether
 this is still your opinion; or if not, I will ask you to define your
 meaning, and I shall not take you to task if you now make a
 different statement. For I dare say that you may have said what you
 did only in order to make trial of me.
   I answer, Socrates, he said, that all these qualities are parts of
 virtue, and that four out of the five are to some extent similar,
 and that the fifth of them, which is courage, is very different from
 the other four, as I prove in this way: You may observe that many
 men are utterly unrighteous, unholy, intemperate, ignorant, who are
 nevertheless remarkable for their courage.
   Stop, I said; I should like to think about that. When you speak of
 brave men, do you mean the confident, or another sort of nature?
   Yes, he said; I mean the impetuous, ready to go at that which others
 are afraid to approach.
   In the next place, you would affirm virtue to be a good thing, of
 which good thing you assert yourself to be a teacher.
   Yes, he said; I should say the best of all things, if I am in my
 right mind.
   And is it partly good and partly bad, I said, or wholly good?
   Wholly good, and in the highest degree.
   Tell me then; who are they who have confidence when diving into a
   I should say, the divers.
   And the reason of this is that they have knowledge?
   Yes, that is the reason.
   And who have confidence when fighting on horseback-the skilled
 horseman or the unskilled?
   The skilled.
   And who when fighting with light shields-the peltasts or the
   The peltasts. And that is true of all other things, he said, if that
 is your point: those who have knowledge are more confident than
 those who have no knowledge, and they are more confident after they
 have learned than before.
   And have you not seen persons utterly ignorant, I said, of these
 things, and yet confident about them?
   Yes, he said, I have seen such persons far too confident.
   And are not these confident persons also courageous?
   In that case, he replied, courage would be a base thing, for the men
 of whom we are speaking are surely madmen.
   Then who are the courageous? Are they not the confident?
   Yes, he said; to that statement I adhere.
   And those, I said, who are thus confident without knowledge are
 really not courageous, but mad; and in that case the wisest are also
 the most confident, and being the most confident are also the bravest,
 and upon that view again wisdom will be courage.
   Nay, Socrates, he replied, you are mistaken in your remembrance of
 what was said by me. When you asked me, I certainly did say that the
 courageous are the confident; but I was never asked whether the
 confident are the courageous; if you had asked me, I should have
 answered "Not all of them": and what I did answer you have not
 proved to be false, although you proceeded to show that those who have
 knowledge are more courageous than they were before they had
 knowledge, and more courageous than others who have no knowledge,
 and were then led on to think that courage is the same as wisdom.
 But in this way of arguing you might come to imagine that strength
 is wisdom. You might begin by asking whether the strong are able,
 and I should say "Yes"; and then whether those who know how to wrestle
 are not more able to wrestle than those who do not know how to
 wrestle, and more able after than before they had learned, and I
 should assent. And when I had admitted this, you might use my
 admissions in such a way as to prove that upon my view wisdom is
 strength; whereas in that case I should not have admitted, any more
 than in the other, that the able are strong, although I have
 admitted that the strong are able. For there is a difference between
 ability and strength; the former is given by knowledge as well as by
 madness or rage, but strength comes from nature and a healthy state of
 the body. And in like manner I say of confidence and courage, that
 they are not the same; and I argue that the courageous are
 confident, but not all the confident courageous. For confidence may be
 given to men by art, and also, like ability, by madness and rage;
 but courage comes to them from nature and the healthy state of the
   I said: You would admit, Protagoras, that some men live well and
 others ill?
   He assented.
   And do you think that a man lives well who lives in pain and grief?
   He does not.
   But if he lives pleasantly to the end of his life, will he not in
 that case have lived well?
   He will.
   Then to live pleasantly is a good, and to live unpleasantly an evil?
   Yes, he said, if the pleasure be good and honourable.
   And do you, Protagoras, like the rest of the world, call some
 pleasant things evil and some painful things good?-for I am rather
 disposed to say that things are good in as far as they are pleasant,
 if they have no consequences of another sort, and in as far as they
 are painful they are bad.
   I do not know, Socrates, he said, whether I can venture to assert in
 that unqualified manner that the pleasant is the good and the
 painful the evil. Having regard not only to my present answer, but
 also to the whole of my life, I shall be safer, if I am not
 mistaken, in saying that there are some pleasant things which are
 not good, and that there are some painful things which are good, and
 some which are not good, and that there are some which are neither
 good nor evil.
   And you would call pleasant, I said, the things which participate in
 pleasure or create pleasure?
   Certainly, he said.
   Then my meaning is, that in as far as they are pleasant they are
 good; and my question would imply that pleasure is a good in itself.
   According to your favourite mode of speech, Socrates, "Let us
 reflect about this," he said; and if the reflection is to the point,
 and the result proves that pleasure and good are really the same, then
 we will agree; but if not, then we will argue.
   And would you wish to begin the enquiry?
   I said; or shall I begin?
   You ought to take the lead, he said; for you are the author of the
   May I employ an illustration? I said. Suppose some one who is
 enquiring into the health or some other bodily quality of
 another:-he looks at his face and at the tips of his fingers, and then
 he says, Uncover your chest and back to me that I may have a better
 view:-that is the sort of thing which I desire in this speculation.
 Having seen what your opinion is about good and pleasure, I am
 minded to say to you: Uncover your mind to me, Protagoras, and
 reveal your opinion about knowledge, that I may know whether you agree
 with the rest of the world. Now the rest of the world are of opinion
 that knowledge is a principle not of strength, or of rule, or of
 command: their notion is that a man may have knowledge, and yet that
 the knowledge which is in him may be overmastered by anger, or
 pleasure, or pain, or love, or perhaps by fear,-just as if knowledge
 were a slave, and might be dragged about anyhow. Now is that your
 view? or do you think that knowledge is a noble and commanding
 thing, which cannot be overcome, and will not allow a man, if he
 only knows the difference of good and evil, to do anything which is
 contrary to knowledge, but that wisdom will have strength to help him?
   I agree with you, Socrates, said Protagoras; and not only so, but I,
 above all other men, am bound to say that wisdom and knowledge are the
 highest of human things.
   Good, I said, and true. But are you aware that the majority of the
 world are of another mind; and that men are commonly supposed to
 know the things which are best, and not to do them when they might?
 And most persons whom I have asked the reason of this have said that
 when men act contrary to knowledge they are overcome by pain, or
 pleasure, or some of those affections which I was just now mentioning.
   Yes, Socrates, he replied; and that is not the only point about
 which mankind are in error.
   Suppose, then, that you and I endeavour to instruct and inform
 them what is the nature of this affection which they call "being
 overcome by pleasure," and which they affirm to be the reason why they
 do not always do what is best. When we say to them: Friends, you are
 mistaken, and are saying what is not true, they would probably
 reply: Socrates and Protagoras, if this affection of the soul is not
 to be called "being overcome by pleasure," pray, what is it, and by
 what name would you describe it?
   But why, Socrates, should we trouble ourselves about the opinion
 of the many, who just say anything that happens to occur to them?
   I believe, I said, that they may be of use in helping us to discover
 how courage is related to the other parts of virtue. If you are
 disposed to abide by our agreement, that I should show the way in
 which, as I think, our recent difficulty is most likely to be
 cleared up, do you follow; but if not, never mind.
   You are quite right, he said; and I would have you proceed as you
 have begun.
   Well then, I said, let me suppose that they repeat their question,
 What account do you give of that which, in our way of speaking, is
 termed being overcome by pleasure? I should answer thus: Listen, and
 Protagoras and I will endeavour to show you. When men are overcome
 by eating and drinking and other sensual desires which are pleasant,
 and they, knowing them to be evil, nevertheless indulge in them, would
 you not say that they were overcome by pleasure? They will not deny
 this. And suppose that you and I were to go on and ask them again: "In
 what way do you say that they are evil-in that they are pleasant and
 give pleasure at the moment, or because they cause disease and poverty
 and other like evils in the future? Would they still be evil, if
 they had no attendant evil consequences, simply because they give
 the consciousness of pleasure of whatever nature?"-Would they not
 answer that they are not evil on account of the pleasure which is
 immediately given by them, but on account of the after
 consequences-diseases and the like?
   I believe, said Protagoras, that the world in general would answer
 as you do.
   And in causing diseases do they not cause pain? and in causing
 poverty do they not cause pain;-they would agree to that also, if I am
 not mistaken?
   Protagoras assented.
   Then I should say to them, in my name and yours: Do you think them
 evil for any other reason, except because they end in pain and rob
 us of other pleasures:-there again they would agree?
   We both of us thought that they would.
   And then I should take the question from the opposite point of view,
 and say: "Friends, when you speak of goods being painful, do you not
 mean remedial goods, such as gymnastic exercises, and military
 service, and the physician's use of burning, cutting, drugging, and
 starving? Are these the things which are good but painful?"-they would
 assent to me?
   He agreed.
   "And do you call them good because they occasion the greatest
 immediate suffering and pain; or because, afterwards, they bring
 health and improvement of the bodily condition and the salvation of
 states and power over others and wealth?"-they would agree to the
 latter alternative, if I am not mistaken?
   He assented.
   "Are these things good for any other reason except that they end
 in pleasure, and get rid of and avert pain? Are you looking to any
 other standard but pleasure and pain when you call them good?"-they
 would acknowledge that they were not?
   I think so, said Protagoras.
   "And do you not pursue after pleasure as a good, and avoid pain as
 an evil?"
   He assented.
   "Then you think that pain is an evil and pleasure is a good: and
 even pleasure you deem an evil, when it robs you of greater
 pleasures than it gives, or causes pains greater than the pleasure.
 If, however, you call pleasure an evil in relation to some other end
 or standard, you will be able to show us that standard. But you have
 none to show."
   I do not think that they have, said Protagoras.
   "And have you not a similar way of speaking about pain? You call
 pain a good when it takes away greater pains than those which it
 has, or gives pleasures greater than the pains: then if you have
 some standard other than pleasure and pain to which you refer when you
 call actual pain a good, you can show what that is. But you cannot."
   True, said Protagoras.
   Suppose again, I said, that the world says to me: "Why do you
 spend many words and speak in many ways on this subject?" Excuse me,
 friends, I should reply; but in the first place there is a
 difficulty in explaining the meaning of the expression "overcome by
 pleasure"; and the whole argument turns upon this. And even now, if
 you see any possible way in which evil can be explained as other
 than pain, or good as other than pleasure, you may still retract.
 Are you satisfied, then, at having a life of pleasure which is without
 pain? If you are, and if you are unable to show any good or evil which
 does not end in pleasure and pain, hear the consequences:-If what
 you say is true, then the argument is absurd which affirms that a
 man often does evil knowingly, when he might abstain, because he is
 seduced and overpowered by pleasure; or again, when you say that a man
 knowingly refuses to do what is good because he is overcome at the
 moment by pleasure. And that this is ridiculous will be evident if
 only we give up the use of various names, such as pleasant and
 painful, and good and evil. As there are two things, let us call
 them by two names-first, good and evil, and then pleasant and painful.
 Assuming this, let us go on to say that a man does evil knowing that
 he does evil. But some one will ask, Why? Because he is overcome, is
 the first answer. And by what is he overcome? the enquirer will
 proceed to ask. And we shall not be able to reply "By pleasure," for
 the name of pleasure has been exchanged for that of good. In our
 answer, then, we shall only say that he is overcome. "By what?" he
 will reiterate. By the good, we shall have to reply; indeed we
 shall. Nay, but our questioner will rejoin with a laugh, if he be
 one of the swaggering sort, "That is too ridiculous, that a man should
 do what he knows to be evil when he ought not, because he is
 overcome by good. Is that, he will ask, because the good was worthy or
 not worthy of conquering the evil?" And in answer to that we shall
 clearly reply, Because it was not worthy; for if it had been worthy,
 then he who, as we say, was overcome by pleasure, would not have
 been wrong. "But how," he will reply, "can the good be unworthy of the
 evil, or the evil of the good?" Is not the real explanation that
 they are out of proportion to one another, either as greater and
 smaller, or more and fewer? This we cannot deny. And when you speak of
 being overcome-"what do you mean," he will say, "but that you choose
 the greater evil in exchange for the lesser good?" Admitted. And now
 substitute the names of pleasure and pain for good and evil, and
 say, not as before, that a man does what is evil knowingly, but that
 he does what is painful knowingly, and because he is overcome by
 pleasure, which is unworthy to overcome. What measure is there of
 the relations of pleasure to pain other than excess and defect,
 which means that they become greater and smaller, and more and
 fewer, and differ in degree? For if any one says: "Yes, Socrates,
 but immediate pleasure differs widely from future pleasure and
 pain"-To that I should reply: And do they differ in anything but in
 pleasure and pain? There can be no other measure of them. And do
 you, like a skilful weigher, put into the balance the pleasures and
 the pains, and their nearness and distance, and weigh them, and then
 say which outweighs the other. If you weigh pleasures against
 pleasures, you of course take the more and greater; or if you weigh
 pains against pains, you take the fewer and the less; or if
 pleasures against pains, then you choose that course of action in
 which the painful is exceeded by the pleasant, whether the distant
 by the near or the near by the distant; and you avoid that course of
 action in which the pleasant is exceeded by the painful. Would you not
 admit, my friends, that this is true? I am confident that they
 cannot deny this.
   He agreed with me.
   Well then, I shall say, if you agree so far, be so good as to answer
 me a question: Do not the same magnitudes appear larger to your
 sight when near, and smaller when at a distance? They will acknowledge
 that. And the same holds of thickness and number; also sounds, which
 are in themselves equal, are greater when near, and lesser when at a
 distance. They will grant that also. Now suppose happiness to
 consist in doing or choosing the greater, and in not doing or in
 avoiding the less, what would be the saving principle of human life?
 Would not the art of measuring be the saving principle; or would the
 power of appearance? Is not the latter that deceiving art which
 makes us wander up and down and take the things at one time of which
 we repent at another, both in our actions and in our choice of
 things great and small? But the art of measurement would do away
 with the effect of appearances, and, showing the truth, would fain
 teach the soul at last to find rest in the truth, and would thus
 save our life. Would not mankind generally acknowledge that the art
 which accomplishes this result is the art of measurement?
   Yes, he said, the art of measurement.
   Suppose, again, the salvation of human life to depend on the
 choice of odd and even, and on the knowledge of when a man ought to
 choose the greater or less, either in reference to themselves or to
 each other, and whether near or at a distance; what would be the
 saving principle of our lives? Would not knowledge?-a knowledge of
 measuring, when the question is one of excess and defect, and a
 knowledge of number, when the question is of odd and even? The world
 will assent, will they not?
   Protagoras himself thought that they would.
   Well then, my friends, I say to them; seeing that the salvation of
 human life has been found to consist in the right choice of
 pleasures and pains,-in the choice of the more and the fewer, and
 the greater and the less, and the nearer and remoter, must not this
 measuring be a consideration of their excess and defect and equality
 in relation to each other?
   This is undeniably true.
   And this, as possessing measure, must undeniably also be an art
 and science?
   They will agree, he said.
   The nature of that art or science will be a matter of future
 consideration; but the existence of such a science furnishes a
 demonstrative answer to the question which you asked of me and
 Protagoras. At the time when you asked the question, if you
 remember, both of us were agreeing that there was nothing mightier
 than knowledge, and that knowledge, in whatever existing, must have
 the advantage over pleasure and all other things; and then you said
 that pleasure often got the advantage even over a man who has
 knowledge; and we refused to allow this, and you rejoined: O
 Protagoras and Socrates, what is the meaning of being overcome by
 pleasure if not this?-tell us what you call such a state:-if we had
 immediately and at the time answered "Ignorance," you would have
 laughed at us. But now, in laughing at us, you will be laughing at
 yourselves: for you also admitted that men err in their choice of
 pleasures and pains; that is, in their choice of good and evil, from
 defect of knowledge; and you admitted further, that they err, not only
 from defect of knowledge in general, but of that particular
 knowledge which is called measuring. And you are also aware that the
 erring act which is done without knowledge is done in ignorance. This,
 therefore, is the meaning of being overcome by pleasure;-ignorance,
 and that the greatest. And our friends Protagoras and Prodicus and
 Hippias declare that they are the physicians of ignorance; but you,
 who are under the mistaken impression that ignorance is not the cause,
 and that the art of which I am speaking cannot be taught, neither go
 yourselves, nor send your children, to the Sophists, who are the
 teachers of these things-you take care of your money and give them
 none; and the result is, that you are the worse off both in public and
 private life:-Let us suppose this to be our answer to the world in
 general: And now I should like to ask you, Hippias, and you, Prodicus,
 as well as Protagoras (for the argument is to be yours as well as
 ours), whether you think that I am speaking the truth or not?
   They all thought that what I said was entirely true.
   Then you agree, I said, that the pleasant is the good, and the
 painful evil. And here I would beg my friend Prodicus not to introduce
 his distinction of names, whether he is disposed to say pleasurable,
 delightful, joyful. However, by whatever name he prefers to call them,
 I will ask you, most excellent Prodicus, to answer in my sense of
 the words.
   Prodicus laughed and assented, as did the others.
   Then, my friends, what do you say to this? Are not all actions
 honourable and useful, of which the tendency is to make life
 painless and pleasant? The honourable work is also useful and good?
   This was admitted.
   Then, I said, if the pleasant is the good, nobody does anything
 under the idea or conviction that some other thing would be better and
 is also attainable, when he might do the better. And this
 inferiority of a man to himself is merely ignorance, as the
 superiority of a man to himself is wisdom.
   They all assented.
   And is not ignorance the having a false opinion and being deceived
 about important matters?
   To this also they unanimously assented.
   Then, I said, no man voluntarily pursues evil, or that which he
 thinks to be evil. To prefer evil to good is not in human nature;
 and when a man is compelled to choose one of two evils, no one will
 choose the greater when he may have the less.
   All of us agreed to every word of this.
   Well, I said, there is a certain thing called fear or terror; and
 here, Prodicus, I should particularly like to know whether you would
 agree with me in defining this fear or terror as expectation of evil.
   Protagoras and Hippias agreed, but Prodicus said that this was
 fear and not terror.
   Never mind, Prodicus, I said; but let me ask whether, if our
 former assertions are true, a man will pursue that which he fears when
 he is not compelled? Would not this be in flat contradiction to the
 admission which has been already made, that he thinks the things which
 he fears to be evil; and no one will pursue or voluntarily accept that
 which he thinks to be evil?
   That also was universally admitted.
   Then, I said, these, Hippias and Prodicus, are our premisses; and
 I would beg Protagoras to explain to us how he can be right in what he
 said at first. I do not mean in what he said quite at first, for his
 first statement, as you may remember, was that whereas there were five
 parts of virtue none of them was like any other of them; each of
 them had a separate function. To this, however, I am not referring,
 but to the assertion which he afterwards made that of the five virtues
 four were nearly akin to each other, but that the fifth, which was
 courage, differed greatly from the others. And of this he gave me
 the following proof. He said: You will find, Socrates, that some of
 the most impious, and unrighteous, and intemperate, and ignorant of
 men are among the most courageous; which proves that courage is very
 different from the other parts of virtue. I was surprised at his
 saying this at the time, and I am still more surprised now that I have
 discussed the matter with you. So I asked him whether by the brave
 he meant the confident. Yes, he replied, and the impetuous or goers.
 (You may remember, Protagoras, that this was your answer.)
   He assented.
   Well then, I said, tell us against what are the courageous ready
 to go-against the same dangers as the cowards?
   No, he answered.
   Then against something different?
   Yes, he said.
   Then do cowards go where there is safety, and the courageous where
 there is danger?
   Yes, Socrates, so men say.
   Very true, I said. But I want to know against what do you say that
 the courageous are ready to go-against dangers, believing them to be
 dangers, or not against dangers?
   No, said he; the former case has been proved by you in the
 previous argument to be impossible.
   That, again, I replied, is quite true. And if this has been
 rightly proven, then no one goes to meet what he thinks to be dangers,
 since the want of self-control, which makes men rush into dangers, has
 been shown to be ignorance.
   He assented.
   And yet the courageous man and the coward alike go to meet that
 about which they are confident; so that, in this point of view, the
 cowardly and the courageous go to meet the same things.
   And yet, Socrates, said Protagoras, that to which the coward goes is
 the opposite of that to which the courageous goes; the one, for
 example, is ready to go to battle, and the other is not ready.
   And is going to battle honourable or disgraceful? I said.
   Honourable, he replied.
   And if honourable, then already admitted by us to be good; for all
 honourable actions we have admitted to be good.
   That is true; and to that opinion I shall always adhere.
   True, I said. But which of the two are they who, as you say, are
 unwilling to go to war, which is a good and honourable thing?
   The cowards, he replied.
   And what is good and honourable, I said, is also pleasant?
   It has certainly been acknowledged to be so, he replied.
   And do the cowards knowingly refuse to go to the nobler, and
 pleasanter, and better?
   The admission of that, he replied, would belie our former
   But does not the courageous man also go to meet the better, and
 pleasanter, and nobler?
   That must be admitted.
   And the courageous man has no base fear or base confidence?
   True, he replied.
   And if not base, then honourable?
   He admitted this.
   And if honourable, then good?
   But the fear and confidence of the coward or foolhardy or madman, on
 the contrary, are base?
   He assented.
   And these base fears and confidences originate in ignorance and
   True, he said.
   Then as to the motive from which the cowards act, do you call it
 cowardice or courage?
   I should say cowardice, he replied.
   And have they not been shown to be cowards through their ignorance
 of dangers?
   Assuredly, he said.
   And because of that ignorance they are cowards?
   He assented.
   And the reason why they are cowards is admitted by you to be
   He again assented.
   Then the ignorance of what is and is not dangerous is cowardice?
   He nodded assent.
   But surely courage, I said, is opposed to cowardice?
   Then the wisdom which knows what are and are not dangers is
 opposed to the ignorance of them?
   To that again he nodded assent.
   And the ignorance of them is cowardice?
   To that he very reluctantly nodded assent.
   And the knowledge of that which is and is not dangerous is
 courage, and is opposed to the ignorance of these things?
   At this point he would no longer nod assent, but was silent.
   And why, I said, do you neither assent nor dissent, Protagoras?
   Finish the argument by yourself, he said.
   I only want to ask one more question, I said. I want to know whether
 you still think that there are men who are most ignorant and yet
 most courageous?
   You seem to have a great ambition to make me answer, Socrates, and
 therefore I will gratify you, and say, that this appears to me to be
 impossible consistently with the argument.
   My only object, I said, in continuing the discussion, has been the
 desire to ascertain the nature and relations of virtue; for if this
 were clear, I am very sure that the other controversy which has been
 carried on at great length by both of us-you affirming and I denying
 that virtue can be taught-would also become clear. The result of our
 discussion appears to me to be singular. For if the argument had a
 human voice, that voice would be heard laughing at us and saying:
 "Protagoras and Socrates, you are strange beings; there are you,
 Socrates, who were saying that virtue cannot be taught,
 contradicting yourself now by your attempt to prove that all things
 are knowledge, including justice, and temperance, and courage,-which
 tends to show that virtue can certainly be taught; for if virtue
 were other than knowledge, as Protagoras attempted to prove, then
 clearly virtue cannot be taught; but if virtue is entirely
 knowledge, as you are seeking to show, then I cannot but suppose
 that virtue is capable of being taught. Protagoras, on the other hand,
 who started by saying that it might be taught, is now eager to prove
 it to be anything rather than knowledge; and if this is true, it
 must be quite incapable of being taught." Now I, Protagoras,
 perceiving this terrible confusion of our ideas, have a great desire
 that they should be cleared up. And I should like to carry on the
 discussion until we ascertain what virtue is, whether capable of being
 taught or not, lest haply Epimetheus should trip us up and deceive
 us in the argument, as he forgot us in the story; I prefer your
 Prometheus to your Epimetheus, for of him I make use, whenever I am
 busy about these questions, in Promethean care of my own life. And
 if you have no objection, as I said at first, I should like to have
 your help in the enquiry.
   Protagoras replied: Socrates, I am not of a base nature, and I am
 the last man in the world to be envious. I cannot but applaud your
 energy and your conduct of an argument. As I have often said, I admire
 you above all men whom I know, and far above all men of your age;
 and I believe that you will become very eminent in philosophy. Let
 us come back to the subject at some future time; at present we had
 better turn to something else.
   By all means, I said, if that is your wish; for I too ought long
 since to have kept the engagement of which I spoke before, and only
 tarried because I could not refuse the request of the noble Callias.
 So the conversation ended, and we went our way.
                              -THE END-