[318a] καὶ ἐγὼ εἶπον ὅτι ἡ αὐτή μοι ἀρχή ἐστιν, ὦ Πρωταγόρα, ἥπερ ἄρτι, περὶ ὧν ἀφικόμην. Ἱπποκράτης γὰρ ὅδε τυγχάνει ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ ὢν τῆς σῆς συνουσίας: ὅτι οὖν αὐτῷ ἀποβήσεται, ἐάν σοι συνῇ, ἡδέως ἄν φησι πυθέσθαι. τοσοῦτος ὅ γε ἡμέτερος λόγος.
ὑπολαβὼν οὖν ὁ Πρωταγόρας εἶπεν: ὦ νεανίσκε, ἔσται τοίνυν σοι, ἐὰν ἐμοὶ συνῇς, ᾗ ἂν ἡμέρᾳ ἐμοὶ συγγένῃ, ἀπιέναι οἴκαδε βελτίονι γεγονότι, καὶ ἐν τῇ ὑστεραίᾳ ταὐτὰ ταῦτα: καὶ ἑκάστης ἡμέρας ἀεὶ ἐπὶ τὸ βέλτιον ἐπιδιδόναι. [318b]
καὶ ἐγὼ ἀκούσας εἶπον: ὦ Πρωταγόρα, τοῦτο μὲν οὐδὲν θαυμαστὸν λέγεις, ἀλλὰ εἰκός, ἐπεὶ κἂν σύ, καίπερ τηλικοῦτος ὢν καὶ οὕτως σοφός, εἴ τίς σε διδάξειεν ὃ μὴ τυγχάνοις ἐπιστάμενος, βελτίων ἂν γένοιο. ἀλλὰ μὴ οὕτως, ἀλλ᾽ ὥσπερ ἂν εἰ αὐτίκα μάλα μεταβαλὼν τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν Ἱπποκράτης ὅδε ἐπιθυμήσειεν τῆς συνουσίας τούτου τοῦ νεανίσκου τοῦ νῦν νεωστὶ ἐπιδημοῦντος, Ζευξίππου τοῦ Ἡρακλεώτου, καὶ ἀφικόμενος παρ᾽ αὐτόν, ὥσπερ παρὰ σὲ [318c] νῦν, ἀκούσειεν αὐτοῦ ταὐτὰ ταῦτα ἅπερ σοῦ, ὅτι ἑκάστης ἡμέρας συνὼν αὐτῷ βελτίων ἔσται καὶ ἐπιδώσει, εἰ αὐτὸν ἐπανέροιτο: “τί δὴ φῂς βελτίω ἔσεσθαι καὶ εἰς τί ἐπιδώσειν;” εἴποι ἂν αὐτῷ ὁ Ζεύξιππος ὅτι πρὸς γραφικήν: κἂν εἰ Ὀρθαγόρᾳ τῷ Θηβαίῳ συγγενόμενος, ἀκούσας ἐκείνου ταὐτὰ ταῦτα ἅπερ σοῦ, ἐπανέροιτο αὐτὸν εἰς ὅτι βελτίων καθ᾽ ἡμέραν ἔσται συγγιγνόμενος ἐκείνῳ, εἴποι ἂν ὅτι εἰς αὔλησιν: οὕτω δὴ καὶ σὺ εἰπὲ τῷ νεανίσκῳ καὶ ἐμοὶ ὑπὲρ [318d] τούτου ἐρωτῶντι, Ἱπποκράτης ὅδε Πρωταγόρᾳ συγγενόμενος, ᾗ ἂν αὐτῷ ἡμέρᾳ συγγένηται, βελτίων ἄπεισι γενόμενος καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἡμερῶν ἑκάστης οὕτως ἐπιδώσει εἰς τί, ὦ Πρωταγόρα, καὶ περὶ τοῦ;
καὶ ὁ Πρωταγόρας ἐμοῦ ταῦτα ἀκούσας, σύ τε καλῶς ἐρωτᾷς, ἔφη, ὦ Σώκρατες, καὶ ἐγὼ τοῖς καλῶς ἐρωτῶσι χαίρω ἀποκρινόμενος. Ἱπποκράτης γὰρ παρ᾽ ἐμὲ ἀφικόμενος οὐ πείσεται ἅπερ ἂν ἔπαθεν ἄλλῳ τῳ συγγενόμενος τῶν σοφιστῶν. οἱ μὲν γὰρ ἄλλοι λωβῶνται τοὺς νέους: [318e] τὰς γὰρ τέχνας αὐτοὺς πεφευγότας ἄκοντας πάλιν αὖ ἄγοντες ἐμβάλλουσιν εἰς τέχνας, λογισμούς τε καὶ ἀστρονομίαν καὶ γεωμετρίαν καὶ μουσικὴν διδάσκοντες—καὶ ἅμα εἰς τὸν Ἱππίαν ἀπέβλεψεν—παρὰ δ᾽ ἐμὲ ἀφικόμενος μαθήσεται οὐ περὶ ἄλλου του ἢ περὶ οὗ ἥκει.
from Burnet's (1903) Oxford Classical Text, courtesy of the Perseus Project
An original translation
I said, “I’ll start in the same place I did just now, Protagoras, about what I came for. Hippocrates here really wants to spend time with you. So he says he would like to know what's in it for him. That’s all we have to say.”
Protagoras responded, “Young man, if you come and learn from me, that same day, you’ll go home better, and the same thing the next day. And every day after, you will make progress towards betterment.”
I said in turn, “Protagoras, what you’re saying is no surprise; it’s only to be expected. Even you, despite your age and wisdom would become better if someone taught you something you happened to not know. So don’t give me that; think of it this way: say Hippocrates here had a sudden change of heart and longed instead to spend time learning from this young man who’s new in town, Zeuxippus from Heraclea. Say Hippocrates came to him, like he’s come to you now, and heard the same things from him that he has from you: that every day he’s with him, he’d become better and make progress. What if Hippocrates kept asking, ‘Now, what exactly will I get better at and what am I going to make progress toward?’ Zeuxippus would tell him, ‘At painting.’ Now let’s say he went to study with Orthagoras the Theban, heard the same things he’s heard from you, and again asked him what exactly he’d get better at by spending every day with him, Orthagoras would tell him, ‘At playing the flute.’ Now in this way, tell the young man – and me, since I’m asking for him – if Hippocrates here spends time learning with Protagoras, he’ll go home better on the very first day he comes to study with him, and he'll make progress every other day after that, but toward what, Protagoras? In what area?”
Protagoras listened to me saying all this and said, “Excellent question, Socrates. I enjoy answering people who ask excellent questions. If Hippocrates comes to me, he won’t suffer what the other sophists would put him through. They treat young people disgracefully: just when they've managed to escape technical subjects, their teachers bring them back unwillingly and throw them into arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music again” — here, he looked over at Hippias. “But if he comes to me, he’ll learn nothing but what he came for.”
Jowett's translation (1871)
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.
Compare Lamb's (1924) translation at the Perseus Project