περὶ δὲ ὧν διελέγοντο οὐκ ἐδυνάμην ἔγωγε μαθεῖν ἔξωθεν, καίπερ λιπαρῶς ἔχων ἀκούειν τοῦ Προδίκου—πάσσοφος γάρ μοι δοκεῖ ἁνὴρ [316a] εἶναι καὶ θεῖος—ἀλλὰ διὰ τὴν βαρύτητα τῆς φωνῆς βόμβος τις ἐν τῷ οἰκήματι γιγνόμενος ἀσαφῆ ἐποίει τὰ λεγόμενα. καὶ ἡμεῖς μὲν ἄρτι εἰσεληλύθεμεν, κατόπιν δὲ ἡμῶν ἐπεισῆλθον Ἀλκιβιάδης τε ὁ καλός, ὡς φῂς σὺ καὶ ἐγὼ πείθομαι, καὶ Κριτίας ὁ Καλλαίσχρου. ἡμεῖς οὖν ὡς εἰσήλθομεν, ἔτι σμίκρ’ ἄττα διατρίψαντες καὶ ταῦτα διαθεασάμενοι προσῇμεν πρὸς τὸν Πρωταγόραν, [316b] καὶ ἐγὼ εἶπον· ὦ Πρωταγόρα, πρὸς σέ τοι ἤλθομεν ἐγώ τε καὶ Ἱπποκράτης οὗτος.
πότερον, ἔφη, μόνῳ βουλόμενοι διαλεχθῆναι ἢ καὶ μετὰ τῶν ἄλλων;
ἡμῖν μέν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, οὐδὲν διαφέρει· ἀκούσας δὲ οὗ ἕνεκα ἤλθομεν, αὐτὸς σκέψαι.
τί οὖν δή ἐστιν, ἔφη, οὗ ἕνεκα ἥκετε;
Ἱπποκράτης ὅδε ἐστὶν μὲν τῶν ἐπιχωρίων, Ἀπολλοδώρου ὑός, οἰκίας μεγάλης τε καὶ εὐδαίμονος, αὐτὸς δὲ τὴν φύσιν δοκεῖ ἐνάμιλλος εἶναι τοῖς ἡλικιώταις. ἐπιθυμεῖν δέ μοι [316c] δοκεῖ ἐλλόγιμος γενέσθαι ἐν τῇ πόλει, τοῦτο δὲ οἴεταί οἱ μάλιστ’ ἂ γενέσθαι, εἰ σοὶ συγγένοιτο· ταῦτ’ οὖν ἤδη σὺ σκόπει, πότερον περὶ αὐτῶν μόνος οἴει δεῖν διαλέγεσθαι πρὸς μόνους, ἢ μετ’ ἄλλων.
ὀρθῶς, ἔφη, προμηθῇ, ὦ Σώκρατες, ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ. ξένον γὰρ ἄνδρα καὶ ἰόντα εἰς πόλεις μεγάλας, καὶ ἐν ταύταις πείθοντα τῶν νέων τοὺς βελτίστους ἀπολείποντας τὰς τῶν ἄλλων συνουσίας, καὶ οἰκείων καὶ ὀθνείων, καὶ πρεσβυτέρων καὶ νεωτέρων, ἑαυτῷ συνεῖναι ὡς βελτίους ἐσομένους διὰ [316d] τὴν ἑαυτοῦ συνουσίαν, χρὴ εὐλαβεῖσθαι τὸν ταῦτα πράττοντα· οὐ γὰρ σμικροὶ περὶ αὐτὰ φθόνοι τε γίγνονται καὶ ἄλλαι δυσμένειαί τε καὶ ἐπιβουλαί. ἐγὼ δὲ τὴν σοφιστικὴν τέχνην φημὶ μὲν εἶναι παλαιάν, τοὺς δὲ μεταχειριζομένους αὐτὴν τῶν παλαιῶν ἀνδρῶν, φοβουμένους τὸ ἐπαχθὲς αὐτῆς, πρόσχημα ποιεῖσθαι καὶ προκαλύπτεσθαι, τοὺς μὲν ποίησιν, οἷον Ὅμηρόν τε καὶ Ἡσίοδον καὶ Σιμωνίδην, τοὺς δὲ αὖ τελετάς τε καὶ χρησμῳδίας, τοὺς ἀμφί τε Ὀρφέα καὶ Μουσαῖον· ἐνίους δέ τινας ᾔσθημαι καὶ γυμναστικήν, οἷον Ἴκκος τε ὁ Ταραντῖνος καὶ ὁ νῦν ἔτι ὢν οὐδενὸς ἥττων σοφιστὴς [316e] Ἡρόδικος ὁ Σηλυμβριανός, τὸ δὲ ἀρχαῖον Μεγαρεύς· μουσικὴν δὲ Ἀγαθοκλῆς τε ὁ ὑμέτερος πρόσχημα ἐποιήσατο, μέγας ὢν σοφιστής, καὶ Πυθοκλείδης ὁ Κεῖος καὶ ἄλλοι πολλοί. οὗτοι πάντες, ὥσπερ λέγω, φοβηθέντες τὸν φθόνον ταῖς τέχναις ταύταις παραπετάσμασιν ἐχρήσαντο.
from Burnet's (1903) Oxford Classical Text, courtesy of the Perseus Project
An original translation
I couldn’t make out what they were discussing from outside, though I was really eager to listen to Prodicus. He’s a genius, I think, a phenomenon. Unfortunately, his voice is so deep that the room rumbled, making his words indistinct. As soon as we had made it inside, the beautiful Alcibiades – as you say, and I have to agree he is – and Critias the son of Callaeschrus came in after us. Once we were inside, we spent a little time taking a good look about, but then, we went up to Protagoras and I said, “Protagoras, you’re the man Hippocrates here and I are after.”
“Would you rather talk in private or in front of others?”
“It makes no diﬀerence to us. Listen to why we’ve come and you can decide.”
“So, why have you come?”
“Hippocrates here is a local, Apollodorus’ son, from an influential and prosperous family, and a match for any his age in talent. I get the impression he wants to become a public figure in the city, and he thinks the best way is by spending time with you. So what do you think now? Should we discuss this in private or with others present?”
“You’re right, for my sake, to be cautious, Socrates. A foreigner who visits powerful cities and persuades the best of their young men to abandon the company of all others – from one’s own family or another, young or old – and to spend time with himself instead in order to be the better for it – a man who does these things has to be careful. After all, doing so provokes no small amount of envy not to mention ill-will and plotting. I claim that sophistry is ancient, but because its earliest practitioners were afraid of the stigma, they tried to disguise it and pass it oﬀ as something else. Some did so as poetry, like Homer and Hesiod and Simonides, and others as mystical rites and prophecy, like the followers of Orpheus and Musaeus. I’ve heard some even pass it oﬀ as athletics, like Iccus from Tarentum as well as Herodicus the Selymbrian (an ex-Megarian), who’s still around and a sophist nonpareil. Your own Agathocles used music as a cover, although he was a great sophist, not to mention Pythocleides from Ceos and lots more. All of them, as I say, have used such professions as screens out of a fear of envy.”
Jowett's translation (1871)
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 inaudible.
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 company.
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.
Compare Lamb's (1924) translation at the Perseus Project