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simple confession of truth and of his own ignorance, would here be called impudence and madness. He that will not dissemble here, will be by all regarded as an idiot; for to own that one knows not what justice is, is to own that one ought not to live among mankind.
He proceeds to shew, that no one thought our idea of justice to be the gift of nature; but that it is acquired by instruction and by experience : for with the weak, the deformed, or the blind man, no one is angry ; no reprimands, no punishments attend the unfortunate, nor are employed to correct our natural defects; but they are the proper consequences of our voluntary neglects or offences. Nor is the punishment, which follows even these, intended to redress an evil already past, (for that is impossible) but to prevent a future, or at least to deter others from like offences; which proves, that wickedness is by all regarded as a voluntary ignorance.
Next he shews, how this knowledge is acquired; it is by education. Every one is interested in teaching another the proper virtue of a man, on which alone all his other acquisitions must be founded, and without
P. 341. Acolos.] The Lesbians then spoke a corrupt dialect ; yet that island produced Alcæus, Sappho, Theophrastus, &c.*
342. This is a beautiful compliment to the Cretans and Lacedæmonians.
Ib. Sta te kataqvuutai.] The rougher exercises of boxing and of the cæstus. See Diog. Laertius in Menedemo, and the Gorgias, p. 515.
350. IIeltaotlKOL.] A light-armed militia, a Thracian invention, and borrowed from that nation by the Greek colonies on which he cannot exist among his fellow-creatures. His parents, as soon as understanding begins to dawn in him, are employed in prescribing what he ought to do and what he ought not to do; his masters, in filling his mind with the precepts, and forming it to the example, of the greatest men, or in fashioning his body to perform with ease and patience whatever his reason commands; and lastly, the laws of the state lay down a rule, by which he is necessitated to direct his actions. If then the sons of the greatest men do not appear to be greater proficients in virtue than the ordinary sort, it must not be ascribed to the parent's neglect; much less must it be concluded, that virtue is not to be acquired by instruction : it is the fault perhaps of genius and of nature. Let us suppose, that to perform on a certain instrument were a qualification required in every man, and necessary to the existence of a city, ought we to wonder, that the son of an admirable performer fell infinitely short of his father in skill? Should we attribute this to want of care, or say, that musick were not attainable by any art? or should we not rather ascribe it to defect of genius and to natural inability ? Yet every member of such a state would doubtless far surpass all persons rude and unpractised in musick.
their coast, whence it was afterwards introduced in Athens, Sparta, and in the rest of Greece. They fought on foot armed with a crescent-like shield, bow and arrows, long javelins, and a sword. See Xenoph. ap. Pollucem. L. 1. c. 10. This species of shield was afterwards introduced by Iphicrates among the heavy-armed foot also. (Diodorus. L. 15. c. 44.)
In like manner, the most worthless member of a society, civilized by some sort of education and brought up under the influence of laws and of policy, will be an amiable man, if compared with a wild and uncultivated savage.
It is hard indeed to say, who is our particular instructor in the social virtues; as, for the same reason, it is hard to say, who taught us our native tongue; yet no one will therefore deny that we learned it. The publick is in these cases our master : and all the world has a share in our instruction. Suffice it (continues the sophist) to know, that some there are among us, elevated a little above the ordinary sort, in the art of leading mankind to honour and to virtue; and among these I have the advantage to be distinguished.
Socrates continues astonished for a time and speechless, as though dazzled with the beauty of Protagoras's discourse. At last, recovering himself, he ventures to propound a little doubt which has arisen in his mind (though perfectly satisfied, he says, with the main question), whether temperance, fortitude, justice, and the rest, which Protagoras has so often mentioned, and
P. 357. 'Oti Auabia.] This is the true key and great moral of the dialogue, that knowledge alone is the source of virtue, and ignorance the source of vice : it was Plato's own principle, (see Plat. Epist. 7. p. 336. Αμαθια, εξ ης παντα κακα πάσι ερριζωται και βλαστανει, και ύστερον αποτελει καρπον τους γεννηpaol Trikpotatov. See also Sophist. p. 228 and 229. and Euthydemus. from p. 278 to 281. and De Legib. L. 3. p. 688.) and probably it was also the principle of Socrates : the consequence of it is, that virtue ay be taught, and may be acquired ; and that philosophy alone can point us out the way to it. VOL. IV.
seemed to comprehend under the general name of virtue, are different things, and can subsist separately in the same person; or whether they are all the same quality of mind, only exerted on different occasions. Protagoras readily agrees to the first of these; but is insensibly betrayed by Socrates into the toils of his logick, and makes such concessions, that he finds himself forced to conclude the direct contrary of what he had first advanced. He is sensible of his disgrace, and tries to evade this closer kind of reasoning by taking refuge in that more diffuse eloquence, which used to gain him such applause. But when he finds himself cut short by Socrates, who pleads the weakness of his own memory, unable to attend to long continued discourses, and who intreats him to bring down the greatness of his talents to the level of a mind so much inferiour, he is forced to pick a frivolous quarrel with Socrates, and break off the conversation in the middle. Here Callias interposes, and Alcibiades, in his insolent way, by supporting the request of Socrates and by piquing the vanity of Protagoras, obliges him to accommodate himself to the interrogatory method of disputation, and renews the dialogue.
To save the dignity of Protagoras, and to put him in humour again, Socrates proposes that he shall conduct the debate, and state the questions, while he himself will only answer them; provided Protagoras will
1 The episodical characters of Prodicus and Hippias, introduced as mediating a reconciliation, are great ornaments to the dialogue; the affectation of eloquence and of an accurate choice of words in the former, and the stately figurative diction of the latter, being undoubtedly drawn from the life.
in his turn afterwards condescend to do the same for him. The sophist begins by proposing a famous ode of Simonides, which seems to carry in it an absolute contradiction, which he desires Socrates to reconcile. Socrates appears at first puzzled, and after he has played awhile with Protagoras and with the other sophists, (that he may have time to recollect himself) he gives an explanation of that poem, and of its pretended inconsistency, in a manner so new and so just as to gain the applause of the whole company. He then brings back Protagoras (in spite of his reluctance) to his former subject, but without taking advantage of his former concessions, and desires again his opinion on the unity, or on the similitude, of the virtues. Prota
, goras now owns, that there is a near 1 affinity between them all, except valour, which he affirms that a man may possess, who is entirely destitute of all the rest. Socrates proves to him, that this virtue also, like the others, is founded on knowledge and is reducible to it; that it is but to know what is really to be feared, and what is not; that good and evil, or in other words; pleasure and pain, being the great and the only movers
i See Gorgias, p. 507.
? Plato reasons on the principles of the most rational Epicurean in this place, and indeed on the only principles which can be defended. (See Gorgias, p. 467 and 499. Telos åmaowv των πραξεων το αγαθον.) As our sense of pleasure and of pain is our earliest sentiment, and is the great instrument of selfpreservation, some philosophers have called these affections, Τα πρωτα κατα φυσιν. See Aul. Gell. L. 12. c. 5. Ουδεμια ηδονη καθ' εαυτην κακον, αλλα τα τινων ήδονων ποιητικα πολλαπλασιους επιφερει τας οχλησεις των ήδονων. Epicurus in Κυριαις Δοξαις. apud Laert. L. 10. s. 141.