Superphysics Superphysics
Part 1

Socrates and Hippocrates Venture to Meet Protagoras

by Plato Icon
4 minutes  • 708 words


  • Socrates, the narrator of the Dialogue to his Companion
  • Hippocrates
  • Alcibiades
  • Critias
  • Protagoras (Sophist)
  • Hippias (Sophist)
  • Prodicus (Sophist)
  • Callias, a wealthy Athenian.

SCENE: The House of Callias.

Where did you come from, Socrates?
I visited Alcibiades. He was very gracious even if I paid no attention to him. Several times, I even forgot that he was present.
Has anything happened between you and him? He is the most just man in Athens.

I know of a juster and wiser foreigner from Abdera – Protagoras. He has been here in Athens for 2 days now.

I have heard him say many things

Last night, or rather very early this morning, Hippocrates, the son of Apollodorus and the brother of Phason, gave a tremendous thump with his staff at my door; some one opened to him, and he came rushing in and bawled out: Socrates, are you awake or asleep?

I knew his voice, and said: Hippocrates, is that you? and do you bring any news?

Good news, he said; nothing but good.

Delightful, I said; but what is the news? and why have you come hither at this unearthly hour?

He drew nearer to me and said: Protagoras is come.

Yes, I replied; he came two days ago: have you only just heard of his arrival?

Yes, by the gods, he said; but not until yesterday evening.

At the same time he felt for the truckle-bed, and sat down at my feet, and then he said: Yesterday quite late in the evening, on my return from Oenoe whither I had gone in pursuit of my runaway slave Satyrus, as I meant to have told you, if some other matter had not come in the way;—on my return, when we had done supper and were about to retire to rest, my brother said to me: Protagoras is come. I was going to you at once, and then I thought that the night was far spent. But the moment sleep left me after my fatigue, I got up and came hither direct.

I, who knew the very courageous madness of the man, said: What is the matter? Has Protagoras robbed you of anything?

He replied, laughing: Yes, indeed he has, Socrates, of the wisdom which he keeps from me.

But, surely, I said, if you give him money, and make friends with him, he will make you as wise as he is himself.

Would to heaven, he replied, that this were the case! He might take all that I have, and all that my friends have, if he pleased. But that is why I have come to you now, in order that you may speak to him on my behalf; for I am young, and also I have never seen nor heard him; (when he visited Athens before I was but a child;) and all men praise him, Socrates; he is reputed to be the most accomplished of speakers. There is no reason why we should not go to him at once, and then we shall find him at home. He lodges, as I hear, with Callias the son of Hipponicus: let us start.

I replied: Not yet, my good friend; the hour is too early. But let us rise and take a turn in the court and wait about there until day-break; when the day breaks, then we will go. For Protagoras is generally at home, and we shall be sure to find him; never fear.

We got up and walked about in the court. I thought of testing the strength of his resolution.

Hippocrates, you are going to Protagoras and will be paying your money to him. Who is he and what does he think of you?
I gave money to him as a physician.
If you went to Polycleitus the Argive, or Pheidias the Athenian, and were intending to give them money, and someone had asked you: What are Polycleitus and Pheidias? Why do you give them this money?
They were statuaries.

We are going to Protagoras, and we are ready to pay him money on your behalf.

If someone asks us what is Protagoras’’ job, and why are you going to pay him money?

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