Plato's Apology

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Andriko
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Plato's Apology

Post by Andriko » Thu May 30, 2019 5:32 pm

Hi all,

I am struggling through Plato's apology using Helm's Reader edition. I am, for the most part, keeping up and I don't mind not quite getting everything as yet, but there is one part (the bold in the quote) which is really bugging me:
εἰ μὲν γὰρ τοῦτο λέγουσιν, ὁμολογοίην ἂν ἔγωγε οὐ κατὰ τούτους εἶναι ῥήτωρ.
The best I can come up with is:

For if they are saying this [that a clever speaker is one who speaks the truth], I would have to agree with them, [but if] not, I am a speaker not according to them.

Essentially, I think that Mr Socrates is saying that he is a speaker but not in the way that they actually mean it as he feels a good speaker is one who tells the truth, but they are speaking lies, and thus implying that what they define as a good speaker is actually someone who tells falsehoods.

The thing that confuses me is the negation 'οὐ'. Without it, I would understand it as saying '... I would have to agree agree that I am, according to them, a speaker [if they mean someone who speaks the truth].

Any help with this would be much appreciated, as I've been perplexed by this for a little while now.

A

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bedwere
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Re: Plato's Apology

Post by bedwere » Thu May 30, 2019 6:20 pm

My literal translation:

For if they indeed say this, I'd agree I am not according to these an orator.

Without οὐ

For if they indeed say this, I'd agree I am according to these an orator.

Andriko
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Re: Plato's Apology

Post by Andriko » Fri May 31, 2019 11:22 am

This is why I am confused - he seems to be saying that if they are saying that a clever speaker is one who speaks the truth, according to them he isn't a speaker. It is like he is saying that he isn't speaking the truth.

donhamiltontx
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Re: Plato's Apology

Post by donhamiltontx » Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:17 pm

Two 19th century scholars comment on this passage. Louis Dyer argues that "οὐ κατὰ τούτους" is a parenthetical expression that means "not on their level." * St. George Stock argues that this is an instance of meiosis or litotes**, so "not on their level" can mean either below their level or above their level, and so creating a source of confusion. Would the meaning be clearer if we added 'but' to Dyer's translation: "(but) not on their level"?

*Louis Dyer, Plato: Apology of Socrates and Crito, Boston: 1890. Page 56 (of the actual book, not the pdf pagination).
** St. George Stock, The Apology of Plato, 3d ed rev. OUP 1899? (date obscured by a stamp) Notes, page 4.
Both books downloaded today, June 2, 2019, from Archive.org.
ἐς Τροίαν πειρώμενοι ἦνθον ᾿Αχαιοί,
καλλίστα παίδων: πείρᾳ θην πάντα τελεῖται.
Theocritus, Idyll 15

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seneca2008
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Re: Plato's Apology

Post by seneca2008 » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:14 am

This is why I am confused - he seems to be saying that if they are saying that a clever speaker is one who speaks the truth, according to them he isn't a speaker. It is like he is saying that he isn't speaking the truth.
In the preceding passage Socrates’ accusers warn against his influence saying he is a “clever speaker” (ὡς δεινοῦ ὄντος λέγειν). They mean by this that he deceives. Socrates says he is not a “clever speaker” (ἐπειδὰν μηδ’ ὁπωστιοῦν φαίνωμαι δεινὸς λέγειν -since there is no way whatever I can appear to be clever at speaking). But he says if what his accusers mean by a “clever speaker” is someone who speaks the truth (εἰ μὴ ἄρα δεινὸν καλοῦσιν | οὗτοι λέγειν τὸν τἀληθῆ λέγοντα..) then Socrates is indeed a “clever speaker”. But of course they don’t mean that.

So if you follow the logic in the preceding passage you can see that Socrates says that if his accusers mean by “clever speaker” someone who speaks the truth then he is a “clever speaker”. But as they clearly don’t (they are prosecuting him saying he is untruthful) he isn’t. Hence bedwere’s translation.

You need carefully to distinguish all the verbs of saying (λέγειν etc) with the final ῥήτωρ which you translate as speaker but here it is a particular kind of speaker - according to Socrates a sophist or orator.

Does this help?

Andriko
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Re: Plato's Apology

Post by Andriko » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:48 am

Thanks all,

I think between donhamiltontx's comment and Seneca's explanation I can see what is going on in the phrase much better now.

It was, I think, a case of knowing what he is saying, but not knowing why he is saying it the way he is.

Thanks for all the help, no doubt I will have many other such confusions before long!

A

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