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Bill Thayer

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On the Sign of Socrates


The work appears in pp361‑509 of Vol. VII of the Loeb Classical Library's edition of the Moralia, first published in 1959. The Greek text and the English translation (by Phillip H. De Lacy and Benedict Einarson) are now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright expired in 1987 and was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been that year or the year before. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

The Text on LacusCurtius

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the little table of contents below, the items are therefore shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme. Should you spot an error, however . . . please do report it.

The "Parts" referred to below and in the window title bars are of no authority: they merely stand for my own division of the work into webpages.

575B‑588B: In 379 B.C. a group of Theban conspirators assembles; they discuss philosophy, an ancient inscription, the sign of Socrates and its connection with divination, and the tomb of a Pythagorean sage.

588B‑594A: A deeper discussion of the sign of Socrates; the myth of Timarchus in Trophonius' Cave.

594A‑598F: The conspirators disperse, kill the tyrants and liberate Thebes.

[image ALT: A stylized starburst of 16 rays. It is my icon for Plutarch's essay on The Sign of Socrates.]

Representing this work by an icon was not so easy, given the mix of topics and the ungraphic quality of some of them. If the above image has you thinking of a numinous and radiating source of wisdom, or an eye allowing Socrates to see the world correctly, or even the daggers of the Theban conspirators, that will be good enough. The rays themselves, though, are of the same hue of purple I use in the Roman Gazetteer section of this site as the background for Roman monuments of the Imperial period, to which our author belongs.

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Page updated: 29 May 16