322

Greek text

ἐπειδὴ δὲ ὁ ἄνθρωπος θείας μετέσχε μοίρας, πρῶτον μὲν διὰ τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ συγγένειαν ζῴων μόνον θεοὺς ἐνόμισεν, καὶ ἐπεχείρει βωμούς τε ἱδρύεσθαι καὶ ἀγάλματα θεῶν: ἔπειτα φωνὴν καὶ ὀνόματα ταχὺ διηρθρώσατο τῇ τέχνῃ, καὶ οἰκήσεις καὶ ἐσθῆτας καὶ ὑποδέσεις καὶ στρωμνὰς καὶ τὰς ἐκ γῆς τροφὰς ηὕρετο. οὕτω δὴ παρεσκευασμένοι κατ᾽ ἀρχὰς [322b] ἄνθρωποι ᾤκουν σποράδην, πόλεις δὲ οὐκ ἦσαν: ἀπώλλυντο οὖν ὑπὸ τῶν θηρίων διὰ τὸ πανταχῇ αὐτῶν ἀσθενέστεροι εἶναι, καὶ ἡ δημιουργικὴ τέχνη αὐτοῖς πρὸς μὲν τροφὴν ἱκανὴ βοηθὸς ἦν, πρὸς δὲ τὸν τῶν θηρίων πόλεμον ἐνδεής —πολιτικὴν γὰρ τέχνην οὔπω εἶχον, ἧς μέρος πολεμική— ἐζήτουν δὴ ἁθροίζεσθαι καὶ σῴζεσθαι κτίζοντες πόλεις: ὅτ᾽ οὖν ἁθροισθεῖεν, ἠδίκουν ἀλλήλους ἅτε οὐκ ἔχοντες τὴν πολιτικὴν τέχνην, ὥστε πάλιν σκεδαννύμενοι διεφθείροντο. [322c] Ζεὺς οὖν δείσας περὶ τῷ γένει ἡμῶν μὴ ἀπόλοιτο πᾶν, Ἑρμῆν πέμπει ἄγοντα εἰς ἀνθρώπους αἰδῶ τε καὶ δίκην, ἵν᾽ εἶεν πόλεων κόσμοι τε καὶ δεσμοὶ φιλίας συναγωγοί. ἐρωτᾷ οὖν Ἑρμῆς Δία τίνα οὖν τρόπον δοίη δίκην καὶ αἰδῶ ἀνθρώποις: “πότερον ὡς αἱ τέχναι νενέμηνται, οὕτω καὶ ταύτας νείμω; νενέμηνται δὲ ὧδε: εἷς ἔχων ἰατρικὴν πολλοῖς ἱκανὸς ἰδιώταις, καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι δημιουργοί: καὶ δίκην δὴ καὶ αἰδῶ [322d] οὕτω θῶ ἐν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, ἢ ἐπὶ πάντας νείμω;” “ἐπὶ πάντας,” ἔφη ὁ Ζεύς, “καὶ πάντες μετεχόντων: οὐ γὰρ ἂν γένοιντο πόλεις, εἰ ὀλίγοι αὐτῶν μετέχοιεν ὥσπερ ἄλλων τεχνῶν: καὶ νόμον γε θὲς παρ᾽ ἐμοῦ τὸν μὴ δυνάμενον αἰδοῦς καὶ δίκης μετέχειν κτείνειν ὡς νόσον πόλεως.” οὕτω δή, ὦ Σώκρατες, καὶ διὰ ταῦτα οἵ τε ἄλλοι καὶ Ἀθηναῖοι, ὅταν μὲν περὶ ἀρετῆς τεκτονικῆς ᾖ λόγος ἢ ἄλλης τινὸς δημιουργικῆς, ὀλίγοις οἴονται μετεῖναι συμβουλῆς, καὶ ἐάν [322e] τις ἐκτὸς ὢν τῶν ὀλίγων συμβουλεύῃ, οὐκ ἀνέχονται, ὡς σὺ φῄς—εἰκότως, ὡς ἐγώ φημι—ὅταν δὲ εἰς συμβουλὴν πολιτικῆς
[323a] ἀρετῆς ἴωσιν, ἣν δεῖ διὰ δικαιοσύνης πᾶσαν ἰέναι καὶ σωφροσύνης, εἰκότως ἅπαντος ἀνδρὸς ἀνέχονται, ὡς παντὶ προσῆκον ταύτης γε μετέχειν τῆς ἀρετῆς ἢ μὴ εἶναι πόλεις. αὕτη, ὦ Σώκρατες, τούτου αἰτία.

from Burnet's (1903) Oxford Classical Text, courtesy of the Perseus Project

An original translation

Since human beings had a share in a divine inheritance, first of all, on account of being related to the gods, they alone among animals believed in the gods, and started building altars and statues of the gods. Pretty soon they invented articulate speech and names with their skill, and found housing and clothing, shoes and beds, and food from the earth. Now prepared in this way, at first they began to live scattered here and there, and there were no cities. As a result, they were destroyed by wild beasts, being completely weaker than them. Knowing how to make things was helpful enough for them to get food, but not enough to battle wild beasts, because they didn't yet have citizen know-how, part of which is knowing how to fight battles. So now they tried to rally together and save themselves by founding cities. But when they rallied together, they did each other wrong, not knowing how to be citizens. So they ended up scattered again and were destroyed. Then Zeus got frightened that every one of our kind would get destroyed, so he sent Hermes to give us respect and right, to serve as forces of order in cities and bonds of friendship bringing us together. But Hermes asked Zeus how he should give people respect and right: 'Should I distribute these like the skills have been distributed? They've been distributed so that there's one doctor or other expert for a lot of ordinary people, and that's enough. Shall I set down respect and right among people in this way or give it to them all?' 'To them all,' Zeus replied. 'Have all share in them, since there won't be any cities if only a few people have them like the other skills. And lay down a law, my law, that those who can't share in respect and right are to be considered a plague on the city and killed.'
So that's how and why, Socrates, others but especially the Athenians, when they're talking about how to building or make anything else well, think only a few people have a right to give advice. And if anyone else tries to give them advice, they don't let them, as you say – and I say, right on. But when they come to take advice on good citizenship - a discussion which must be carried out entirely with righteousness and levelheadedness - they naturally take all comers, seeing as it's everyone's duty to share in that kind of goodness or there wouldn't be cities. There's your explanation for it, Socrates.

Jowett's translation (1871)

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.

Compare Lamb's (1924) translation at the Perseus Project

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