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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Deipnosophistae


published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. II) Athenaeus

Book V
(Part 5 of 5)

p475 (215C) Such are the military leaders who have risen from the ranks of philosophy. Of them Demochares1 used to say: "Precisely as no one can make lance-head from a leaf of savoury, so also one cannot make a blameless soldier out of a Socrates." Plato, indeed, says2 that Socrates went on three campaigns, Done against Potidaea, one against Amphipolis, and another against the Boeotians, at the time when it came to pass that a battle was fought in the precinct of Delium. And although no historian3 has recorded this, Plato tells us himself Socrates won the prize for the bravest when all the Athenians had fled, many also having been killed. But all this is fictitious. For the expedition against Amphipolis, in the archonship of Alcaeus,4 was made up of picked men led by Cleon, as Thucydides says.5 So Socrates must have been one of those picked men — Socrates, who had nothing but a tattered coat and a staff! EWhat historian or poet has mentioned it? Or where p477has Thucydides touched even slightly upon Socrates, this warrior of Plato?? "What is there in common between a shield and a staff?"6 And when did he go on a campaign against Potidaea,7 as Plato has asserted in the Charmides,8 alleging that on that occasion he also resigned the prize for the bravest to Alcibiades.9 Neither Thucydides, nor even Isocrates On the Team of Horses,10 has mentioned it. In what battle did Socrates receive the prize for the bravest, and what striking and conspicuous feat did he perform? No battle whatever occurred then, according to the account in Thucydides. FBut not content with this narrative of his prodigy, Plato adds the battle which occurred in the precinct of Delium11 or rather, a story of fictitious valour. For even if Socrates had captured Delium, to quote the account given by Herodicus, the disciple of Crates, in his Against the Socrates-worshipper, he must have fled in disgrace with the mob, since Pagondas had unexpectedly sent two troops of cavalry round the hill.12 216 On that occasion, to be sure, some of the Athenians fled to Delium, others to the coast, others again to Oropus, and still others to Mount Parnes; but the Boeotians, particularly their own cavalry and that of the Locrians, followed close upon them and put them to death. When, then, such confusion and panic had seized the Athenians, is it likely that Socrates, "with head cocked high, his eyes rolling this side and that,"13 stood his ground alone and threw back p479the Boeotian and Locrian horsemen?14 Not Thucydides, not any poet besides, makes mention of this bravery. Again, how could he resign the prize for the bravest in favour of Alcibiades, Bwho had not taken the smallest part in this campaign> And in the Crito,15 this devotee of the goddess of memory, Plato, says explicitly that Socrates had never made a journey abroad, excepting the excursion to the Isthmus.16 And Antisthenes, the disciple of Socrates, tells the same story about the prize for the bravest that Plato tells. "But this tale is not sooth."17 For this Cynic, as well as Plato, displays favouritism toward Socrates in many ways; consequently neither of them should be trusted by those who have Thucydides in regard. Antisthenes, in fact, even adds to the faction these words: C"We hear that in the battle with the Boeotians, also, you won the prize for the bravest. — Hush, stranger! That glory belongs to Alcibiades, not to me. — Yes, for you gave it to him, as we hear." And Plato's Socrates says that he was present at Potidaea, and resigned the prize for the bravest to Alcibiades. But according to all the historians, the expedition to Potidaea, under command of Phormion, preceded that against Delium.

At all points, then, the philosophers are false, and they fail to notice that they record many things p481anachronistically; Djust so even the noble Xenophon, in the Symposium, represents Callias, the son of Hipponicus, as having a passion for Autolycus, the son of Lycon, and giving a banquet in his honour when he was victor in the pancratium; he places himself in the scene with the other guests at dinner, though probably he had not been even born then, or at least was in his infancy still. Now the time of this scene was the archonship of Aristion.18 For in this year Eupolis brought out his Autolycus by the agency of Demostratus,19 and satirized the victory of Autolycus. EAgain, Xenophon makes Socrates say these words in his Symposium:20 "and yet Pausanias, the lover of the poet Agathon, defends those who wallow in lust, saying that a very valiant army could be formed of lovers and their favourites. For he said that he should expect that they, more than all others, would be ashamed to desert one another, a preposterous assertion, which assumes that men who habitually disregard censure and are lost to shame would scruple more than all others to do anything dishonourable." FThat, however, Pausanias never said any such thing one may learn from Plato's Symposium.21 As for Pausanias indeed, I know of no work by him, nor has he even been introduced as a character speaking on the usefulness of lovers and their favourites in any other author than Plato; but waiving the question whether Xenophon has invented all this, or whether he had read a Symposium by Plato in different form from p483that now extant, we must emphasize his error in chronology. Aristion, in whose archonship Xenophon's symposium is supposed to be held, was archon four years before Euphemus,22 217in whose year Plato has placed the celebration of Agathon's victory; in the course of this celebration Pausanias delivers his views on love. It is, therefore, prodigiously surprising that words not yet spoken or essayed until four years after, in the house of Agathon, should have been reproved as improper by Socrates when dining at the house of Callias. But Plato's Symposium is nonsense pure and simple. For when Agathon won his victory, Plato was only fourteen years old. Agathon was crowned at Lenaea in the archonship of Euphemus,23 but Plato was born in the archonship of Apollodorus,24 who succeeded Euthydemus;25 he lived for eighty-two years Band departed this life in the archonship of Theophilus,26 who succeeded Callimachus, and was the eighty-second archon.27 From Apollodorus and the birth of Plato Euphemus makes the fourteenth archon, and it was in his year that Agathon's victory was celebrated by a dinner. Plato himself makes it clear that this party occurred a long while before when he says in his Symposium:28 ". . . 'if you imagine that the party is a recent occurrence, so that I too could be there.' C'Indeed I did,' he replied. 'But how could that be, Glaucon? p485Don't you know that Agathon has not lived here for many years?' " And going on he says: " 'Tell me, please, when did that party take place?' And I said: 'We were still busy when Agathon won a victory with his tragedy.' " But that Plato29 makes many mistakes in chronology can be proved by many instances. To quote the poet who said, "Whatsoever cometh untimely to the tongue,"30 Plato writes this down without discrimination. To be sure, he never said anything that he did not put into writing, but he wrote it with scarcely31 any care, as when he says in the Gorgias:32 D"According to your contention, then, this prince Archelaus is a wretched man. — Certainly, my friend, if he is an unrighteous man." And then, after expressly speaking of archelaus as being in possession of the throne of Macedonia, he proceeds to set down the following:33 "And this Pericles, who has died recently."34 But if Pericles has died recently, archelaus cannot yet be in possession of the throne; on the other hand, granting that archelaus is king, Pericles died a very long time before him. Perdiccas, then, was in fact king before archelaus for a period of forty-one years, according to Nicomedes of Acanthus; ETheopompus says thirty-five, Anaximenes forty, Hieronymus twenty-eight, Marsyas and Philochorus twenty-three. now, since these records are diverse, let us take the smallest number, twenty-three years. Pericles died during the third year of the Peloponnesian war,35 in the archonship p487of Epameinon,36 in whose year died . . .37 Perdiccas; and archelaus succeeded to the throne. How, then, could Pericles have died "recently," as Plato says? Again, in the same Gorgias38 Plato makes Socrates say: F"Last year I was chosen by lot a member of the Council, and when my tribe39 was prytanizing, and it became my duty to put a question to vote, I only caused mirth, and was unable to put the question." But Socrates did this not because of any incapacity, but rather because of his courageous devotion to the right; for he could not consent to violate the laws of the commonwealth. Xenophon makes this clear in the first book of his Hellanica:40 "when some of the Prytanes refused to put the question41 which was contrary to the laws, 218 once more Callixeinus rose and denounced them. And the mob shouted that the recusants should be brought to trial; so all the Prytanes, in fear of their lives, promised that they would put the question, excepting Socrates, the son of Sophroniscus. He said that he would not, but would do everything according to the laws." The vote here mentioned is the one taken against Erasinides and the other commanders associated with him, because they failed to pick up the bodies of the men lost at Arginussae in the sea-fight. This fight occurred in the archonship of Callias,42 twenty-four years after the death of Pericles.

BNor is this all. The conversation in the Protagoras, p489which took place after the death of Hipponicus, when Callias had by this time succeeded to his property, mentions43 Protagoras as having arrived on his second visit to Athens just a few days before. But in the archonship of Euthydemus,44 Hipponicus is in the battle-line as a commanding officer associated with Nicias against the Tanagraeans and other Boeotians who came to their aid; and he is victor in the battle. He is dead, however, probably not long before the production of The Flatterers, by Eupolis, in the archonship of Alcaeus;45 Cat least so we must infer, because this play shows that Callias's inheriting of the property was then a recent event. In this play, then, Eupolis46 represents Protagoras as being in town, whereas Ameipsias in Connus,47 which was brought out two years previously, does not include Protagoras in his chorus of "Thinkers." It is evident, then, that Protagoras came to Athens between these two dates. But Plato represents Hippias of Elis as also present on the scene in the Protagoras,48 along with certain of his own fellow-citizens, who could hardly live at Athens in safety Dbefore the conclusion of the year's truce in the archonship of Isarchus, month Elaphebolion.49 He, however, assumes that the dialogue took place about the time when this truce had just been made; at any rate he says:50 "For if there should be savages such as the poet Pherecrates portrayed last year in the play which he brought out at the Lenaea." Now The Savages p491was produced in the archonship of Aristion;51 after him Astyphilus was archon, and he was the fifth archon after Isarchus, in whose year the truce was made. The archons, namely, were Isarchus, then Ameinias, after him Alcaeus, then Aristion, then Astyphilus. EPlato, then, contrary to history, brings to Athens in his dialogue Hippias and others hostile to the city, though there was no truce at the time.

In another passage,52 also, Plato says that Chaerephon asked the Delphic priestess whether there was anyone wiser than Socrates; and she made response that no one was wiser. But on this point, again, Xenophon does not agree; for he says:53 "on one occasion, in fact, Chaerephon put a question at Delphi on my behalf, and Apollo returned answer before many witnesses that no man Fwas more just or sober than I." How, then, is it reasonable or probable that Socrates, who confessed that he knew nothing, should have been proclaimed by the god who knows all things as the wisest of men? For if that is wisdom, to know nothing, then to know all things must be stupidity. And what was the use in Chaerephon's bothering the god by his question about Socrates? For Socrates was himself entitled to credence when he said on his own behalf that he was not wise. 219"A fool, indeed, was he who asked such questions of the god"54 — as foolish as if he asked, for instance: "What other wool is softer than the Attic?" "Are there any camels stronger than the Bactrian?" "Is there anybody with a flatter nose than Socrates's?" For persons who put such questions to the god are properly rebuked by p493him; like the man (whether the fable-maker Aesop or someone else) who inquired: "How may I get rich, son of Zeus and Leto?" The god mockingly replied: "By acquiring what lies between Corinth and Sicyon."55

But further: not one of the scandals uttered by Plato concerning Socrates is mentioned even by any comic poet; Bfor example, that he was the son of a strapping midwife,56 or that Xanthippe was a shrew who poured slops over his head,57 or that he lay down to sleep with Alcibiades under the same coverlet.58 And yet this last must inevitably have been proclaimed with the ringing of bells by Aristophanes, who was present at the symposium, according to Plato; Aristophanes would never have hushed up this bit of gossip, seeing that he accused Socrates59 of corrupting the young men. The clever Aspasia, to be sure, who was Socrates's teacher in rhetoric, Csays in the verses which are extant under her name60 and which are quoted by Herodicus, the disciple of Crates: "Socrates, I have not failed to notice that thy heart is smitten with desire for the son of Deinomache and Cleinias. But hearken, if thou wouldst prosper in thy suit Disregard not my message, and it will be much better for thee. For so soon as I heard, my body was suffused with the glow of joy, p495Dand tears not unwelcome fell from my eyelids. Restrain thyself, filling thy soul with the conquering Muse; and with her aid thou shalt win him; pour her into the ears of his desire. For she is the true beginning of love in both; through her thou shalt master him, by offering to his ear gifts for the unveiling of his soul."61

So, then, the noble Socrates goes a‑hunting, employing the woman of Miletus as his preceptor in love, instead of being hunted himself, as Plato has said, being caught in Alcibiades' net. EAnd what is more, he does not leave off weeping, being, I fancy, unfortunate in his pursuit. For seeing what a state he was in, Aspasia says: "Why art thou all tears, dear Socrates? Can it be that the thunderbolt of desire, rankling in thy breast, stirs thee up — the bolt which crashed from the eyes of the lad invincible, whom I promised to make tame for thee?" And that Socrates really had a passion for Alcibiades is disclosed by Plato in the Protagoras, although Alcibiades was little short of thirty years old. FPlato says:62 "Where do you come from, Socrates? But I know for certain: you have come from the hunt, and the beauty of Alcibiades is your quarry. As a matter of fact, when I saw the man the other day he looked handsome still, though a man, between ourselves, Socrates, who is already covered with a beard under his chin. Socrates. 220 Well, what of it? Don't you approve Homer when he says63 that the most beautiful age is that of the bearded man, the age which Alcibiades himself has now attained?"

p497 Most philosophers have a natural tendency to be more abusive than the comic poets; for example, Aeschines, the disciple of Socrates, derides Critobulus the son of Crito in the Telauges64 for his boorishness and sordid manner of life; while as for Telauges himself, BAeschines ridicules him, who was a very poor orator, in no measured terms, for wearing a cloak for which he pays a fuller a farthing daily, and then puts on a belted sheepskin coat, his shoes being tied with frayed laces. Again, in the Aspasia,65 he calls Hipponicus, the son of Callias, a booby, and says sweepingly that the women who come from Ionia are adulterous and avaricious. And his Callias66 contains the contrast drawn between Callias67 and his father, also the bitter mockery against the sophists Prodicus and Anaxagoras. he says, namely, that Prodicus produced as his pull Theramenes, while the other had Philoxenus68 the son of Eryxis, and Ariphrades the brother of the harp-singer Arignotus; Chis intention being to show the kind of instruction given by these teachers from the wickedness and the itch for depravity in those whom he named.69 In the Axiochus,70 again, he bitterly disparages Alcibiades as a drunken sot and an eager pursuer of other men's wives.

Antisthenes, too, in the treatise on the second Cyrus, abuses Alcibiades and says that he was perverted in his relations with women as well as in his mode of life generally. He even says that Alcibiades lay with his mother, his daughter, and p499his sister, as Persians do. DThe dialogue on the Statesman, by Antisthenes, contains a denunciation of all the demagogues at Athens; the Archelaus, of the orator Gorgias; the Aspasia, slanders against Xanthippus and Paralus, the sons of pericles. One of them, he says, lived with Archestratus, who plied a trade similar to that of women in the cheaper brothels; the other was the boon companion of Euphemus, who used to make vulgar and heartless jokes at the expense of all whom he met. Again, Antisthenes changed the name of Plato to Satho, a filthy, vulgar word, Eand published the dialogue against him under this title. For in the eyes of these gentry no statesman is honest, no general is wise, no sophist is worth considering, no poet is good for anything, no populace is capable of reason; only Socrates is — he who consorts with Aspasia's flute-girls at the workshops, or converses with Piston the cuirass-maker, or instructs the courtesan Theodote how to lure her lovers, as Xenophon represents him in the second book of the Memorabilia.71 For he makes him recommend to Theodote measures Fsuch as neither Nico the Samian beauty, nor Callistrate the Lesbian, nor Philaenis the Leucadian, nor even Pythonicus the Athenian, ever conceived as lures to desire; for all these persons used to busy themselves very devotedly with these questions. But all eternity would fail me if I should undertake to set forth the pompous censures of the philosophers. To quote Plato himself,72 "A crowd of similar Gorgons and winged horses 221 and other fabulous creatures, p501incomprehensible in number and strangeness."73 Wherefore I will lapse into silence.

After Masurius had delivered this long harangue74 and had been complimented by all on his knowledge, silence ensued, and then Ulpian spoke: "It seems to me, fellow-diners, that you have unexpectedly 'been deluged with violent words'75 and soused in the wine unmixed: 'For a man who guzzles wine as a horse does water speaks gibberish and cannot recognize a single letter;76 speechless he lies immersed in the cask, Bsunken in sleep like one who drinks the poppy drug.' So speaks Parmenon of Byzantium.77 Or have you been turned into stone by the Gorgons just mentioned? And speaking of Gorgons, Alexander of Myndus records that certain animals really exist capable of turning men into stone. In the second book of his Inquiry into Birds he says: 'The gorgon is the creature which the Numidians of Libya, where it occurs, call "down-looker." As the majority aver, drawing their comparison from its skin, it is like a wild sheep; but some say that it is like a calf. They say, too, that it has a breath so strong that it destroys any one who meets the animal. CAnd it carries a mane hanging from its forehead over the eyes; whenever it shakes this aside, as it does with difficulty because of its weight, and catches sight of anything, it kills p503whatever is seen from beneath it;78 not by its breath, but by the influence which emanates from the peculiar nature79a of its eyes; and it turns the object into a corpse. It came to be known in this wise. Some soldiers in the expedition of Marius against Jugurtha80 saw the gorgon, and supposing that it was a wild sheep,81 since its head was bent low and it moved slowly, they rushed forward to get it, thinking that they could kill it with what swords they had. DBut the creature, being startled, shook the mane which lay over its eyes and immediately turned to corpses the men who had rushed upon it. Again and again other persons did the same thing and became corpses; and since all who attacked it at close quarters always died, some made inquiry of the natives about the nature of the animal; whereupon79b some Numidian horsemen, at the command of Marius, lay in ambush for it at a distance and shot it; they then returned with the animal to the commander.' EThat this creature was, to be sure, of the character described is confirmed both by its skin and by the expedition under Marius. But that other report given by this investigator is not credible; he says that in Libya there are backward-grazing cattle, so called because they do not move forward when they graze, but do it retreating backward; for, says he, their horns are a hindrance to grazing in the natural way, since they do not curve upwards like those of all other animals, but incline downwards and shade their eyes. This is really incredible, since no other inquirer confirms it."

p505 FThese remarks of Ulpian were found and attested in so many words by Larensis, who said that Marius had sent skins of these animals back to Rome, and that no one could guess to what animal they belonged, so extraordinary was their appearance; he further said that these skins hang dedicated in the temple of Hercules, where commanders celebrating their triumphs feast the citizens, 222 as many poets and historians of Rome have told. "As for you then, my pedants, you don't look into these matters; in the words of the Babylonian Herodicus, 'Fly, sons of Aristarchus, fly from Hellas over the broad back of the ocean, more craven than the lawny lechive antelope, buzzing in corners, mumbling monosyllables, whose sole business is the difference between "ye" and "your" and "it" and "hit";82 may your journey be rough83 through these waters, but as for Herodicus, long live Hellas and Babylon, child of the gods.' "84 — Indeed, as the comic poet Anaxandrides85 says: B"It is a pleasure, when one discovers a new idea, to proclaim it to all; but those who keep their wisdom to themselves have, first, no critic to judge their new device, and, secondly, they are looked upon with ill-will. One should publish to the crowd all things, when one thinks he has a novelty." At these words most of the guests withdrew, and gradually dissolved the party.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Frag. 3 Turnebus; cf. 187D.

2 Apol. 28E.

3 Or, "no one else." See critical note.

4 422‑41 B.C. The archons held office for twelve months from about July 1.

5 V.2.

6 Cf. Aristoph. Ran. 47 τί κόθορνος καὶ ῥόπαλον ξυνηλθέτην; "What means this conjunction of soft buskin with bludgeon?" See Kock III.498.

7 The answer is, "in 432 B.C."

8 153B.

9 Symp. 220E.

10 Since this is a speech in defence and laudation of Alcibiades, it is difficult to see why Isocrates should have mentioned the superiority of Socrates over his hero.

11 424 B.C..

12 Thuc. IV.96.

13 First said of Socrates by Aristoph. Nub. 362, quoted by Plato, Symp. 221B.

14 Cicero, Div. I.54, says that Socrates was warned by his divine monitor to go by another road!

15 52B.

16 To attend the Isthmian Games held near Corinth. But see critical note.

17 Stesichorus, P. L. G.4 frag. 32, in the famous Palinode wherein he retracted what he had said against Helen.

18 421‑420 B.C.

19 The comic poets often employed the services of friends in producing a play.

20 8.32.

21 Athenaeus (or Herodicus) at first assumes that Xenophon derived all he knew of Pausanias from Plato. But this is impossible, he argues, because the events in Xenophon's Symposium antedate those narrated by Plato. Either, then, Xenophon invented it all, or Plato's Symposium once contained other matter.

22 417‑416 B.C. Agathon's victory occurred in February, 416; the Lenaea, festival of "Dionysus of the wine-press," was held in the latter part of February.

23 417‑416 B.C.; see last note.

24 430‑429 B.C.

25 Euthynus I. A. IV.22A.

26 348‑347 B.C.

27 After Apollodorus, not counting the year of "anarchy," 404‑403 B.C.

28 172C. Apollodorus, one of Socrates' youngest disciples, says: "It would seem that your informant has not given you a clear account if you imagine that this party occurred so recently that I too could be there."

29 As well as Xenophon.

30 P. L. G.4 III.717.

31 See critical note.

32 471A.

33 503C.

34 In 429 B.C.

35 431‑404 B.C.

36 429‑428 B.C.

37 Sc. Alexander? See crit. note.

38 473 end.

39 Antiochis: on the Prytanes see 187D, note h. The behaviour of Socrates when chairman of the Prytanes is described by Plato, Apol. 32B, agreeing substantially with Xenophon. This defence of Socrates, extending to 218A (πἀντα ποιήσειν), is interposed by Athenaeus himself in the citation from Herodicus.

40 I.7.14.

41 To condemn to death the generals collectively and without trial.

42 406‑405 B.C. The battle was fought September, 406.

43 309D.

44 431‑430 B.C. See 217A, note d.

45 422‑421 B.C.

46 Kock I.297.

47 Kock I.673; the title is the name Socrates' music teacher; the play was performed with the first Clouds of Aristophanes, and adjudged superior, at the City Dionysia, March 423 B.C. Like the Clouds, Ameipsias's play satirized the new education.

48 314C, 315D.

49 14th day; end of March, 423 B.C. (Thuc. IV.117‑18). Isarchus was archon 424‑423 B.C.

50 Prot. 327D.

51 421‑420 B.C.

52 Apol. 21A.

53 (Xen.) Apol. 14.

54 A line from some comic poet.

55 A very rich territory, claimed by both Corinth and Sicyon. A private individual had as much chance of buying it as a man to‑day might have of buying the City or Wall Street. For the views of Socrates concerning those who asked trivial questions of the oracle see Xen. Mem. I.1.9.

56 μαίας μάλα γενναίας ("buxom") βλοσυρᾶς Φαιναρέτης, Theaet. 149A.

57 Not in Plato!

58 Symp. 219B.

59 See crit. note.

60 P. L. G.4 II.288, where the verses are ascribed to Socrates himself.

61 Referring to the gifts brought by the bridegroom when the bride removed her veil.

62 Prot. 309A: a nameless friend speaks.

63 Od. X.279.

64 p25 Hermann, 54 Krauss.

65 p16 Hermann, 45 Krauss.

66 p12 Hermann, 50 Krauss.

67 Now become poor; he had inherited great wealth from his father Hipponicus.

68 Cf. Athen. 289F, 241E.

69 or, "those who were taught"; see crit. note.

70 p20 Hermann, 40 Krauss.

71 III.10.9; 11.15.

72 Phaedr. 229D.

73 Or "winged horses and quantities of other impossibles, and strange shapes of fabulous creatures." See crit. note.

74 Beginning at 196A.

75 See Demiańczuk, Suppl. Com. 114.

76 lit. "knows not koppa," the letter which became Q in the Latin alphabet.

77 Frag. 1 Powell; the verses are choliambic. Cf. Herodas 2, of the truant schoolboy: ἐπίσταται δ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ἄλφα συλλαβὴν γνῶναι, "he can't make out even the letter A."

78 Or, "seen by it"; see critical note.

79a 79b See critical note.

80 107 B.C.

81 This indicates the Barbary wild sheep, rather than the gnu.

82 i.e. old pronominal forms; σφὶν = old dat. plural, "to them"; σφῷν, old dat. dual, "to you twain"; μιν, Ionic acc. sing. (rarely plur.), "him," "her," "it"; νιν, Doric acc. sing., "him, "her," "it.

83 Cf. Il. XVI.748 εἰ καὶ δυσπέμφελος εἴη, "though the sea be rough."

84 Here ends the critique of Plato and the Alexandrians by Herodicus the Pergamene, begun at 213C, with one slight interruption, 217F‑218A.

85 Kock II.159.

Page updated: 24 Aug 10