εἰ οὖν καὶ τοῦτό τίς σε προσέροιτο· [312a] “αὐτὸς δὲ δὴ ὡς τίς γενησόμενος ἔρχῃ παρὰ τὸν Πρωταγόραν;”
καὶ ὃς εἶπεν ἐρυθριάσας—ἤδη γὰρ ὑπέφαινέν τι ἡμέρας, ὥστε καταφανῆ αὐτὸν γενέσθαι— εἰ μέν τι τοῖς ἔμπροσθεν ἔοικεν, δῆλον ὅτι σοφιστὴς γενησόμενος.
σὺ δέ, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, πρὸς θεῶν, οὐκ ἂν αἰσχύνοιο εἰς τοὺς Ἕλληνας σαυτὸν σοφιστὴν παρέχων;
νὴ τὸν Δία, ὦ Σώκρατες, εἴπερ γε ἃ διανοοῦμαι χρὴ λέγειν.
ἀλλ’ ἄρα, ὦ Ἱππόκρατες, μὴ οὐ τοιαύτην ὑπολαμβάνεις σου τὴν παρὰ Πρωταγόρου μάθησιν [312b] ἔσεσθαι, ἀλλ’ οἵαπερ ἡ παρὰ τοῦ γραμματιστοῦ ἐγένετο καὶ κιθαριστοῦ καὶ παιδοτρίβου; τούτων γὰρ σὺ ἑκάστην οὐκ ἐπὶ τέχνῃ ἔμαθες, ὡς δημιουργὸς ἐσόμενος, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ παιδείᾳ, ὡς τὸν ἰδιώτην καὶ τὸν ἐλεύθερον πρέπει.
πάνυ μὲν οὖν μοι δοκεῖ, ἔφη, τοιαύτη μᾶλλον εἶναι ἡ παρὰ Πρωταγόρου μάθησις.
οἶσθα οὖν ὃ μέλλεις νῦν πράττειν, ἤ σε λανθάνει; ἦν δ’ ἐγώ.
ὅτι μέλλεις τὴν ψυχὴν τὴν σαυτοῦ παρασχεῖν [312c] θεραπεῦσαι ἀνδρί, ὡς φῄς, σοφιστῇ· ὅτι δέ ποτε ὁ σοφιστής ἐστιν, θαυμάζοιμ’ ἂν εἰ οἶσθα. καίτοι εἰ τοῦτ’ ἀγνοεῖς, οὐδὲ ὅτῳ παραδίδως τὴν ψυχὴν οἶσθα, οὔτ’ εἰ ἀγαθῷ οὔτ’ εἰ κακῷ πράγματι.
οἶμαί γ’, ἔφη, εἰδέναι.
λέγε δή, τί ἡγῇ εἶναι τὸν σοφιστήν;
ἐγὼ μέν, ἦ δ’ ὅς, ὥσπερ τοὔνομα λέγει, τοῦτον εἶναι τὸν τῶν σοφῶν ἐπιστήμονα.
οὐκοῦν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, τοῦτο μὲν ἔξεστι λέγειν καὶ περὶ ζωγράφων καὶ περὶ τεκτόνων, ὅτι οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τῶν σοφῶν ἐπιστήμονες· ἀλλ’ [312d] εἴ τις ἔροιτο ἡμᾶς, “τῶν τί σοφῶν εἰσιν οἱ ζωγράφοι ἐπιστήμονες,” εἴποιμεν ἄν που αὐτῷ ὅτι τῶν πρὸς τὴν ἀπεργασίαν τὴν τῶν εἰκόνων, καὶ τἆλλα οὕτως. εἰ δέ τις ἐκεῖνο ἔροιτο, “ὁ δὲ σοφιστὴς τῶν τί σοφῶν ἐστιν;” τί ἂν ἀποκρινοίμεθα αὐτῷ; ποίας ἐργασίας ἐπιστάτης;
τί ἂν εἴποιμεν αὐτὸν εἶναι, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἢ ἐπιστάτην τοῦ ποιῆσαι δεινὸν λέγειν;
ἴσως ἄν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, ἀληθῆ λέγοιμεν, οὐ μέντοι ἱκανῶς γε· ἐρωτήσεως γὰρ ἔτι ἡ ἀπόκρισις ἡμῖν δεῖται, περὶ ὅτου ὁ σοφιστὴς δεινὸν ποιεῖ λέγειν· ὥσπερ ὁ κιθαριστὴς [312e] δεινὸν δήπου ποιεῖ λέγειν περὶ οὗπερ καὶ ἐπιστήμονα, περὶ κιθαρίσεως· ἦ γάρ;
εἶεν· ὁ δὲ δὴ σοφιστὴς περὶ τίνος δεινὸν ποιεῖ λέγειν;
δῆλον ὅτι περὶ οὗπερ καὶ ἐπίστασθαι;
εἰκός γε. τί δή ἐστιν τοῦτο περὶ οὗ αὐτός τε ἐπιστήμων ἐστὶν ὁ σοφιστὴς καὶ τὸν μαθητὴν ποιεῖ;
μὰ Δί’, ἔφη, οὐκέτι ἔχω σοι λέγειν
from Burnet's (1903) Oxford Classical Text, courtesy of the Perseus Project
An original translation
“And what if someone went on to ask, ‘Well, what sort of person do you think you’ll become if you go to Protagoras?’”
Hippocrates blushed (by that point there was enough daylight that I could see him) and said, “If it’s like the previous cases, it’s clear that I would be planning to become a sophist.”
“And wouldn’t you be ashamed, for heavens’ sake, to present yourself to the Greeks as a sophist?”
“By god, Socrates, yes I would – if I should say what I think, anyway.”
“But maybe you don’t actually think that the kind of education you’ll get from Protagoras is any diﬀerent from the kind you got from your writing tutor or music teacher or gymnastics coach? You didn’t learn any of these things to go into a trade, but just for your education, since you’re a private citizen and a free man.”
“Oh, yes, that‘s deﬁnitely how I think studying with Protagoras is.”
“So, do you realize what you’re about to do or have you not noticed?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re about to hand over care of your soul to a man who is, as you say, a sophist. But I’d be surprised if you even knew what a sophist was. And if you don’t know this much, then you can’t know whether you're handing your soul over to something good or bad.”
“I think I know.”
“Tell me, then, what you think a sophist is.”
“Well, I’d say anyway that a sophist is, as the name implies, someone who knows about sophisticated stuff.”
“But then, couldn’t you also say that painters and builders know about sophisticated stuff? If someone asked us, ‘What kind of sophisticated stuff do painters know about?’ I suppose I’d tell him that they know how to produce paintings. The same for the others. But if someone asked, ‘What kind of sophisticated stuff do sophists know about?’ what would we answer? What sort of job are they in charge of?”
“We’d have to answer that a sophist is in charge of making people clever at speaking, wouldn’t we?”
“Maybe that’s right, but it isn’t enough by itself. Our answer to the question has to say what the sophist makes someone clever at speaking about. For example, the music teacher makes you clever, I guess, at speaking about the same thing you then know about: music. Right?”
“All right. And the sophist, what does he make you clever at speaking about?”
“It’s clear that it would be the same thing he makes you know about.”
“That’s reasonable. But then what is it that the sophist himself knows about and makes his student know about?”
“I swear, I don’t know what to tell you this time.”
Jowett's translation (1871)
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 him?
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 know?
Indeed, he said, I cannot tell.
Compare Lamb's (1924) translation at the Perseus Project