and sufficient for themselves in astronomy and geometry, and the other
branches of knowledge in which you are supposed to excel them.
Theod. He who is sitting by you, Socrates, will not easily avoid
being drawn into an argument; and when I said just now that you
would excuse me, and not, like the Lacedaemonians, compel me to
strip and fight, I was talking nonsense-I should rather compare you to
Scirrhon, who threw travellers from the rocks; for the Lacedaemonian
rule is "strip or depart," but you seem to go about your work more
after the fashion of Antaeus: you will not allow any one who
approaches you to depart until you have stripped him, and he has
been compelled to try a fall with you in argument.
Soc. There, Theodorus, you have hit off precisely the nature of my
complaint; but I am even more pugnacious than the giants of old, for I
have met with no end of heroes; many a Heracles, many a Theseus,
mighty in words, has broken my head; nevertheless I am always at
this rough exercise, which inspires me like a passion. Please, then,
to try a fall with me, whereby you will do yourself good as well as
Theod. I consent; lead me whither you will, for I know that you
are like destiny; no man can escape from any argument which you may
weave for him. But I am not disposed to go further than you suggest.
Soc. Once will be enough; and now take particular care that we do
not again unwittingly expose ourselves to the reproach of talking
Theod. I will do my best to avoid that error.
Soc. In the first place, let us return to our old objection, and see
whether we were right in blaming and taking offence at Protagoras on
the ground that he assumed all to be equal and sufficient in wisdom;
although he admitted that there was a better and worse, and that in
respect of this, some who as he said were the wise excelled others.
Theod. Very true.
Soc. Had Protagoras been living and answered for himself, instead of
our answering for him, there would have been no need of our
reviewing or reinforcing the argument. But as he is not here, and some
one may accuse us of speaking without authority on his behalf, had
we not better come to a clearer agreement about his meaning, for a
great deal may be at stake?
Soc. Then let us obtain, not through any third person, but from
his own statement and in the fewest words possible, the basis of
Theod. In what way?
Soc. In this way:-His words are, "What seems to a man, is to him."
Theod. Yes, so he says.
Soc. And are not we, Protagoras, uttering the opinion of man, or
rather of all mankind, when we say that every one thinks himself wiser
than other men in some things, and their inferior in others? In the
hour of danger, when they are in perils of war, or of the sea, or of
sickness, do they not look up to their commanders as if they were
gods, and expect salvation from them, only because they excel them
in knowledge? Is not the world full of men in their several
employments, who are looking for teachers and rulers of themselves and
of the animals? and there are plenty who think that they are able to
teach and able to rule. Now, in all this is implied that ignorance and
wisdom exist among them, least in their own opinion.
Soc. And wisdom is assumed by them to be true thought, and ignorance
to be false opinion.
Soc. How then, Protagoras, would you have us treat the argument?
Shall we say that the opinions of men are always true, or sometimes
true and sometimes false? In either case, the result is the same,
and their opinions are not always true, but sometimes true and
sometimes false. For tell me, Theodorus, do you suppose that you