Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 4 translated by Harold North Fowler; Introduction by W.R.M. Lamb. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1926.

Socrates. But possibly that may not be right; possibly two lambdas were originally pronounced instead of the sigma, because the god knew (εἰδότος) many (πολλά) things. Or it may be that from his shaking he was called the Shaker (ὁ σείων), and the pi and delta are additions. As for Pluto, he was so named as the giver of wealth (πλοῦτος), because wealth comes up from below out of the earth. And Hades—I fancy most people think that this is a name of the Invisible (ἀειδής), so they are afraid and call him Pluto.

Hermogenes. And what do you think yourself, Socrates?

Socrates. I think people have many false notions about the power of this god, and are unduly afraid of him. They are afraid because when we are once dead we remain in his realm for ever, and they are also terrified because the soul goes to him without the covering of the body. But I think all these facts, and the office and the name of the god, point in the same direction.

Hermogenes. How so?

Socrates. I will tell you my own view. Please answer this question: Which is the stronger bond upon any living being to keep him in any one place, desire, or compulsion?

Hermogenes. Desire, Socrates, is much stronger.

Socrates. Then do you not believe there would be many fugitives from Hades, if he did not bind with the strongest bond those who go to him there?

Hermogenes. Of course there would.

Socrates. Apparently, then, if he binds them with the strongest bond, he binds them by some kind of desire, not by compulsion.

Hermogenes. Yes, that is plain.

Socrates. There are many desires, are there not?

Hermogenes. Yes.

Socrates. Then he binds with the desire which is the strongest of all, if he is to restrain them with the strongest bond.

Hermogenes. Yes.

Socrates. And is there any desire stronger than the thought of being made a better man by association with some one?

Hermogenes. No, by Zeus, Socrates, there certainly is not.

Socrates. Then, Hermogenes, we must believe that this is the reason why no one has been willing to come away from that other world, not even the Sirens, but they and all others have been overcome by his enchantments, so beautiful, as it appears, are the words which Hades has the power to speak; and from this point of view this god is a perfect sophist and a great benefactor of those in his realm, he who also bestows such great blessings upon us who are on earth; such abundance surrounds him there below, and for this reason he is called Pluto.

Socrates. Then, too, he refuses to consort with men while they have bodies, but only accepts their society when the soul is pure of all the evils and desires of the body. Do you not think this shows him to be a philosopher and to understand perfectly that under these conditions he could restrain them by binding them with the desire of virtue, but that so long as they are infected with the unrest and madness of the body, not even his father Cronus could hold them to himself, though he bound them with his famous chains?

Hermogenes. There seems to be something in that, Socrates.

Socrates. And the name Hades is not in the least derived from the invisible (ἀειδές), but far more probably from knowing (εἰδέναι) all noble things, and for that reason he was called Hades by the lawgiver.

Hermogenes. Very well; what shall we say of Demeter, Hera, Apollo, Athena, Hephaestus, Ares, and the other gods

Socrates. Demeter appears to have been called Demeter, because like a mother (μήτηρ) she gives the gift of food, and Hera is a lovely one (ἐρατή), as indeed, Zeus is said to have married her for love. But perhaps the lawgiver had natural phenomena in mind, and called her Hera (Ἥρα) as a disguise for ἀήρ (air), putting the beginning at the end. You would understand, if you were to repeat the name Hera over and over. And Pherephatta!—How many people fear this name, and also Apollo! I imagine it is because they do not know about correctness of names. You see they change the name to Phersephone and its aspect frightens them. But really the name indicates that the goddess is wise; for since things are in motion (φερόμενα), that which grasps (ἐφαπτόμενον) and touches (ἐπαφῶν) and is able to follow them is wisdom. Pherepapha, or something of that sort, would therefore be the correct name of the goddess, because she is wise and touches that which is in motion (ἐπαφὴ τοῦ φερομένου)—and this is the reason why Hades, who is wise, consorts with her, because she is wise—but people have altered her name, attaching more importance to euphony than to truth, and they call her Pherephatta. Likewise in the case of Apollo, as I say, many people are afraid because of the name of the god, thinking that it has some terrible meaning. Have you not noticed that?

Hermogenes. Certainly; what you say is true.

Socrates. But really the name is admirably appropriate to the power of the god.

Hermogenes. How is that?

Socrates. I will try to tell you what I think about it; for no single name could more aptly indicate the four functions of the god, touching upon them all and in a manner declaring his power in music, prophecy, medicine, and archery.

Hermogenes. Go on; you seem to imply that it is a remarkable name.

Socrates. His name and nature are in harmony; you see he is a musical god. For in the first place, purification and purgations used in medicine and in soothsaying, and fumigations with medicinal and magic drugs, and the baths and sprinklings connected with that sort of thing all have the single function of making a man pure in body and soul, do they not?

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. But this is the god who purifies and washes away (ἀπαλοούων) and delivers (ἀπολύων) from such evils, is he not?

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. With reference, then, to his acts of delivering and his washings, as being the physician of such diseases, he might properly be called Apoluon (ἀπαλούων, the washer), and with reference to soothsaying and truth and simplicity—for the two are identical—he might most properly be called by the name the Thessalians use; for all Thessalians call the god Aplun. And because he is always by his archery controller of darts (βολῶν) he is ever darting (ἀεὶ βάλλων). And with reference to music we have to understand that alpha often signifies together, and here it denotes moving together in the heavens about the poles, as we call them, and harmony in song, which is called concord; for, as the ingenious musicians and astronomers tell us, all these things move together by a kind of harmony. And this god directs the harmony, making them all move together, among both gods and men; and so, just as we call the ὁμοκέλευθον (him who accompanies), and ὁμόκοιτιν (bedfellow), by changing the ὁμο to alpha, ἀκόλουθον and ἄκοιτιν, so also we called him Apollo who was Homopolo, and the second lambda was inserted, because without it the name sounded of disaster (ἀπολῶ, ἀπόλωλα, etc.).

Socrates. Even as it is, some have a suspicion of this, because they do not properly regard the force of the name, and therefore they fear it, thinking that it denotes some kind of ruin. But in fact, as was said, the name touches upon all the qualities of the god, as simple, ever-darting, purifying, and accompanying. The Muses and music in general are named, apparently, from μῶσθαι, searching, and philosophy; and Leto from her gentleness, because whatever is asked of her, she is willing (ἐθελήμων). But perhaps her name is Letho, as she is called by many foreigners; and those who call her by that name seem to do so on account of the mild and gentle (λεῖον, Ληθώ) kindness of her character. Artemis appears to get her name from her healthy (ἀρτεμές) and well-ordered nature, and her love of virginity; or perhaps he who named her meant that she is learned in virtue (ἀρετή), or possibly, too, that she hates sexual intercourse (ἄροτον μισεῖ) of man and woman; or he who gave the goddess her name may have given it for any or all of these reasons.

Hermogenes. What of Dionysus and Aphrodite?

Socrates. You ask great things of me, son of Hipponicus. You see there is both a serious and a facetious account of the form of the name of these deities. You will have to ask others for the serious one; but there is nothing to hinder my giving you the facetious account, for the gods also have a sense of humor. Dionysus, the giver (διδούς) of wine (οἶνος), might be called in jest Didoinysus, and wine, because it makes most drinkers think (οἴεσθαι) they have wit (νοῦς) when they have not, might very justly be called Oeonus (οἰόνους). As for Aphrodite, we need not oppose Hesiod; we can accept his derivation of the name from her birth out of the foam (ἀφροῦ).

Hermogenes. But surely you, as an Athenian, will not forget Athena, nor Hephaestus and Ares.

Socrates. That is not likely.

Hermogenes. No.

Socrates. It is easy to tell the reason of one of her two names.

Hermogenes. What name?

Socrates. We call her Pallas, you know.

Hermogenes. Yes, of course.

Socrates. Those of us are right, I fancy, who think this name is derived from armed dances, for lifting oneself or anything else from the ground or in the hands is called shaking (πάλλειν) and being shaken, or dancing and being danced.

Hermogenes. Yes, certainly.

Socrates. So that is the reason she is called Pallas.

Hermogenes. And rightly called so. But what can you say of her other name?

Socrates. You mean Athena?

Hermogenes. Yes.

Socrates. That is a weightier matter, my friend. The ancients seem to have had the same belief about Athena as the interpreters of Homer have now; for most of these, in commenting on the poet, say that he represents Athena as mind (νοῦς) and intellect (διάνοια); and the maker of her name seems to have had a similar conception of her, but he gives her the still grander title of mind of God ἡ θεοῦ νόησις, seeming to say that she is a ἁ θεονόα; here he used the alpha in foreign fashion instead of eta, and dropped out the iota and sigma. But perhaps that was not his reason; he may have called her Theonoe because she has unequalled knowledge of divine things (τὰ θεῖα νοοῦσα). Perhaps, too, he may have wished to identify the goddess with wisdom of character (ἐν ἤθει νόησις) by calling her Ethonoe; and then he himself or others afterwards improved the name, as they thought, and called her Athenaa.

Hermogenes. And how do you explain Hephaestus?

Socrates. You ask about the noble master of light?

Hermogenes. To be sure.

Socrates. Hephaestus is Phaestus, with the eta added by attraction; anyone could see that, I should think.

Hermogenes. Very likely, unless some other explanation occurs to you, as it probably will.

Socrates. To prevent that, ask about Ares.

Hermogenes. I do ask.

Socrates. Ares, then, if you like, would be named for his virility and courage, or for his hard and unbending nature, which is called ἄρρατον; so Ares would be in every way a fitting name for the god of war.

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. For God’s sake, let us leave the gods, as I am afraid to talk about them; but ask me about any others you please,

that you may see what
horses are.
[*](Cf. Hom. Il. 5.221, Hom. Il. 8.105.)

Hermogenes. I will do so, but first one more god. I want to ask you about Hermes, since Cratylus says I am not Hermogenes (son of Hermes). Let us investigate the name of Hermes, to find out whether there is anything in what he says.

Socrates. Well then, this name Hermes seems to me to have to do with speech; he is an interpreter (ἡρμηνεύς) and a messenger, is wily and deceptive in speech, and is oratorical. All this activity is concerned with the power of speech. Now, as I said before, εἴρειν denotes the use of speech; moreover, Homer often uses the word ἐμήσατο, which means contrive. From these two words, then, the lawgiver imposes upon us the name of this god who contrived speech and the use of speech—εἴρεινmeans speak— and tells us: Ye human beings, he who contrived speech (εἴρειν ἐμήσατο) ought to be called Eiremes by you. We, however, have beautified the name, as we imagine, and call him Hermes. Iris also seems to have got her name from εἴρειν, because she is a messenger.

Hermogenes. By Zeus, I believe Cratylus was right in saying I was not Hermogenes; I certainly am no good contriver of speech.

Socrates. And it is reasonable, my friend, that Pan is the double-natured son of Hermes.

Hermogenes. How is that?

Socrates. You know that speech makes all things (πᾶν) known and always makes them circulate and move about, and is twofold, true and false.

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. Well, the true part is smooth and divine and dwells aloft among the gods, but falsehood dwells below among common men, is rough and like the tragic goat[*](The chorus of the primitive performances from which tragedy developed appeared as satyrs, clad in goat-skins. Hence the name τραγῳδία (goat-song). The adjective τραγικός may mean either goat-like or tragic. In this passage it has both meanings.); for tales and falsehoods are most at home there, in the tragic life.

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. Then Pan, who declares and always moves (ἀεὶ πολῶν) all, is rightly called goat-herd (αἰπόλος), being the double-natured son of Hermes, smooth in his upper parts, rough and goat-like in his lower parts. And Pan, if he is the son of Hermes, is either speech or the brother of speech, and that brother resembles brother is not at all surprising. But, as I said, my friend, let us get away from the gods.

Hermogenes. From such gods as those, if you like, Socrates; but why should you not tell of another kind of gods, such as sun, moon, stars, earth, ether, air, fire, water, the seasons, and the year?

Socrates. You are imposing a good many tasks upon me; however, if it will give you pleasure, I am willing.

Hermogenes. It will give me pleasure.

Socrates. What, then, do you wish first? Shall we discuss the sun (Ἥλιος), as you mentioned it first?

Hermogenes. By all means.

Socrates. I think it would be clearer if we were to use the Doric form of the name. The Dorians call it Ἅλιος. Now ἅλιος might be derived from collecting (ἁλίζειν) men when he rises, or because he always turns (ἀεὶ εἱλεῖν) about the earth in his course, or because he variegates the products of the earth, for variegate is identical with αἰολλεῖν.

Hermogenes. And what of the moon, Selene?

Socrates. That name appears to put Anaxagoras in an uncomfortable position.

Hermogenes. How so?

Socrates. Why, it seems to have anticipated by many years the recent doctrine of Anaxagoras, that the moon receives its light from the sun.

Hermogenes. How is that?

Socrates.Σέλας (gleam) and φῶς (light) are the same thing.

Hermogenes. Yes.

Socrates. Now the light is always new and old about the moon, if the Anaxagoreans are right; for they say the sun, in its continuous course about the moon, always sheds new light upon it, and the light of the previous month persists.

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. The moon is often called Σελαναία.

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. Because it has always a new and old gleam (σέλα νέον τε καὶ ἕνον) the very most fitting name for it would be Σελαενονεοάεια, which has been compressed into Σελαναία.

Hermogenes. That is a regular opera bouffe name, Socrates. But what have you to say of the month (μήν) and the stars?

Socrates. The word month (μείς) would be properly pronounced μείης, from μειοῦσθαι, to grow less, and I think the stars (ἄστερα) get their name from ἀστραπή (lightning). But ἀστραπή, because it turns our eyes upwards (τὰ ὦπα ἀναστρέθει), would be called ἀναστρωπή, which is now pronounced more prettily ἀστραπή.

Hermogenes. And what of πῦρ (fire) and ὕδωρ (water)?

Socrates.Πῦρ is too much for me. It must be that either the muse of Euthyphro has deserted me or this is a very difficult word. Now just note the contrivance I introduce in all cases like this which are too much for me.

Hermogenes. What contrivance?

Socrates. I will tell you. Answer me; can you tell the reason of the word πῦρ?

Hermogenes. Not I, by Zeus.

Socrates. See what I suspect about it. I know that many Greeks, especially those who are subject to the barbarians, have adopted many foreign words.

Hermogenes. What of that?

Socrates. If we should try to demonstrate the fitness of those words in accordance with the Greek language, and not in accordance with the language from which they are derived, you know we should get into trouble.

Hermogenes. Naturally.

Socrates. Well, this word πῦρ is probably foreign; for it is difficult to connect it with the Greek language, and besides, the Phrygians have the same word, only slightly altered. The same is the case with ὕδωρ (water), κύων (dog), and many other words.

Hermogenes. Yes, that is true.

Socrates. So we must not propose forced explanations of these words, though something might be said about them. I therefore set aside πῦρ and ὕδωρ in this way. But is air called ἀήρ because it raises (αἴρει) things from the earth, or because it is always flowing (ἀεὶ ῥεῖ), or because wind arises from its flow? The poets call the winds ἀήτας, blasts. Perhaps the poet means to say air-flow (ἀητόρρουν), as he might say wind-flow (πνευματόρρουν). The word αἴθηρ (ether) I understand in this way: because it always runs and flows about the air (ἀεὶ θεῖ περὶ τὸν ἀέρα ῥέον), it may properly be called ἀειθεήρα. The word γῆ (earth) shows the meaning better in the form γαῖα; for γαῖα is a correct word for mother, as Homer says, for he uses γεγάασιν to mean γεγενῆσθαι (be born). Well, now what came next?

Hermogenes. The seasons, Socrates, and the two words for year.

Socrates. The word ὧραι (seasons) should be pronounced in the old Attic fashion, ὅραι, if you wish to know the probable meaning; ΗΟΡΑΙ exist to divide winters and summers and winds and the fruits of the earth; and since they divide (ὁρίζουσι), they would rightly be called ὅραι. The two words for year, ἐνιαυτός and ἔτος, are really one. For that which brings to light within itself the plants and animals, each in its turn, and examines them, is called by some ἐνιαυτός, because of its activity within itself (ἐν ἑαυτῷ), and by others ἔτος, because it examines (ἐτάζει), just as we saw before that the name of Zeus was divided and some said Δία and others Ζῆνα. The whole phrase is that which examines within itself (τὸ ἐν ἁυτῷ ἐτάζον), and this one phrase is divided in speech so that the two words ἐνιαυτός and ἔτος are formed from one phrase.

Hermogenes. Truly, Socrates, you are going ahead at a great rate.

Socrates. Yes, I fancy I am already far along on the road of wisdom.

Hermogenes. I am sure you are.

Socrates. You will be surer presently.

Hermogenes. Now after the class of words you, have explained, I should like to examine the correctness of the noble words that relate to virtue, such as wisdom, intelligence, justice, and all the others of that sort.

Socrates. You are stirring up a mighty tribe of words, my friend; however, since I have put on the lion helmet, I must not play the coward, but must, it seems, examine wisdom, intelligence, thought, knowledge, and all the other noble words of which you speak.

Hermogenes. Certainly we must not stop until that is done.

Socrates. By dog, I believe I have a fine intuition which has just come to me, that the very ancient men who invented names were quite like most of the present philosophers who always get dizzy as they turn round and round in their search for the nature of things, and then the things seem to them to turn round and round and be in motion. They think the cause of this belief is not an affection within themselves, but that the nature of things really is such that nothing is at rest or stable, but everything is flowing and moving and always full of constant motion and generation. I say this because I thought of it with reference to all these words we are now considering.

Hermogenes. How is that, Socrates?

Socrates. Perhaps you did not observe that the names we just mentioned are given under the assumption that the things named are moving and flowing and being generated.

Hermogenes. No, I did not notice that at all.

Socrates. Surely the first one we mentioned is subject to such assumptions.

Hermogenes. What is the word ?

Socrates. Wisdom (φρόνησις); for it is perception (νόησις) of motion (φορᾶς) and flowing (ῥοῦ); or it might be understood as benefit (ὄνησις) of motion (φορᾶς); in either case it has to do with motion. And γνώμη (thought), if you please, certainly denotes contemplation and consideration of generation (γονῆς νώμησις); for to consider is the same as to contemplate. Or, if you please, νόησις (intelligence) is merely ἕσις (desire) τοῦ νεοῦ (of the new); but that things are new shows that they are always being generated; therefore the soul’s desire for generation is declared by the giver of the name νεόεσις; for in antiquity the name was not νόησις, but two epsilons had to be spoken instead of the eta.

Socrates.Σωφροσύνη (self-restraint) is σωτηρία (salvation) of φρόνησις (wisdom), which we have just been discussing. And ἐπιστήμη (knowledge) indicates that the soul which is of any account accompanies (ἕπεται) things in their motion, neither falling behind them nor running in front of them; therefore we ought to insert an epsilon and call it ἐπεϊστήμη. Σύνεσις (intelligence) in its turn is a kind of reckoning together; when one says συνιέναι (understand), the same thing as ἐπίστασθαι is said; for συνιέναι means that the soul goes with things. Certainly σοφία (wisdom) denotes the touching of motion. This word is very obscure and of foreign origin; but we must remember that the poets often say of something which begins to advance ἐσύθη (it rushed). There was a famous Laconian whose name was Σοῦς (Rush), for this is the Laconian word for rapid motion. Now σοφία signifies the touching (ἐπαφή) of this rapid motion, the assumption being that things are in motion. And the word ἀγαθόν (good) is intended to denote the admirable (ἀγαστόν) in all nature. For since all things are in motion, they possess quickness and slowness; now not all that is swift, but only part of it, is admirable; this name ἀγαθόν is therefore given to the admirable (ἀγαστόν) part of the swift (θοοῦ).It is easy to conjecture that the word δικαιασύνη applies to the understanding (σύνεσις) of the just (τοῦ διαίον) but the word δίκαιον (just) is itself difficult. Up to a certain point, you see, many men seem to agree about it, but beyond that they differ. For those who think the universe is in motion believe that the greater part of it is of such a nature as to be a mere receptacle, and that there is some element which passes through all this, by means of which all created things are generated. And this element must be very rapid and very subtle; for it could not pass through all the universe unless it were very subtle, so that nothing could keep it out, and it must be very swift, so that all other things are relatively at rest. Since, then, it superintends and passes through (διαϊόν) all other things, this is rightly called by the name δίκαιον, the sound of the kappa being added merely for the sake of euphony.

Socrates. Up to this point, as I said just now, many men agree about justice (δίκαιον); and I, Hermogenes, being very much in earnest about it, have persistently asked questions and have been told in secret teachings that this is justice, or the cause—for that through which creation takes place is a cause—and some one told me that it was for this reason rightly called Zeus (Δία). But when, after hearing this, I nevertheless ask them quietly, What then, my most excellent friend, if this is true, is justice? they think I am asking too many questions and am leaping over the trenches.[*](A trench was the limit of the leap for the pentathletes.) They say I have been told enough; they try to satisfy me by saying all sorts of different things, and they no longer agree. For one says the sun is justice, for the sun alone superintends all things, passing through and burning (διαϊόντα καὶ καίοντα) them. Then when I am pleased and tell this to some one, thinking it is a fine answer, he laughs at me and asks if I think there is no justice among men when the sun has set. So I beg him to tell me what he thinks it is, and he says Fire. But this is not easy to understand. He says it is not actual fire, but heat in the abstract that is in the fire. Another man says he laughs at all these notions, and that justice is what Anaxagoras says it is, mind; for mind, he says, is ruled only by itself, is mixed with nothing, orders all things, and passes through them. Then, my friend, I am far more perplexed than before I undertook to learn about the nature of justice. But I think the name—and that was the subject of our investigation—was given for the reasons I have mentioned.

Hermogenes. I think, Socrates, you must have heard this from some one and are not inventing it yourself.

Socrates. And how about the rest of my talk?

Hermogenes. I do not at all think you had heard that.

Socrates. Listen then; perhaps I may deceive you into thinking that all I am going to say is my own. What remains to consider after justice? I think we have not yet discussed courage. It is plain enough that injustice (ἀδικία) is really a mere hindrance of that which passes through (τοῦ διαϊόντος, but the word ἀδρεία (courage) implies that courage got its name in battle, and if the universe is flowing, a battle in the universe can be nothing else than an opposite current or flow (ῥοή). Now if we remove the delta from the word ἀνδρεία, the word ἀνρεία signifies exactly that activity.

Socrates Of course it is clear that not the current opposed to every current is courage, but only that opposed to the current which is contrary to justice; for otherwise courage would not be praised. The words ἄρρεν (male) and ἀνήρ (man) refer, like ἀνδρεία, to the upward (ἄνω) current or flow. The word γυνή (woman) seems to me to be much the same as γονή (birth). I think θῆλυ (female) is derived from θηλή (teat); and is not θηλή, Hermogenes, so called because it makes things flourish (τεθηλέναι), like plants wet with showers?

Hermogenes. Very likely, Socrates.

Socrates. And again, the word θάλλειν (flourish) seems to me to figure the rapid and sudden growth of the young. Something of that sort the namegiver has reproduced in the name, which he compounded of θεῖν (run) and ἅλλεσθαι (jump). You do not seem to notice how I rush along outside of the race-course, when I get on smooth ground. But we still have plenty of subjects left which seem to be serious.

Hermogenes. True.

Socrates. One of which is to see what the word τέχνη (art, science) means.

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. Does not this denote possession of mind, if you remove the tau and insert omicron between the chi and the nu and the nu and the eta (making ἐχονόη)?

Hermogenes. It does it very poorly, Socrates.

Socrates. My friend, you do not bear in mind that the original words have before now been completely buried by those who wished to dress them up, for they have added and subtracted letters for the sake of euphony and have distorted the words in every way for ornamentation or merely in the lapse of time. Do you not, for instance, think it absurd that the letter rho is inserted in the word κάαπτρον (mirror)? I think that sort of thing is the work of people who care nothing for truth, but only for the shape of their mouths; so they keep adding to the original words until finally no human being can understand what in the world the word means. So the sphinx, for instance, is called sphinx, instead of phix, and there are many other examples.

Hermogenes. Yes, that is true, Socrates.

Socrates. And if we are permitted to insert and remove any letters we please in words, it will be perfectly easy to fit any name to anything.

Hermogenes. True.

Socrates. Yes, quite true. But I think you, as a wise director, must observe the rule of moderation and probability.

Hermogenes. I should like to do so.

Socrates. And I, too, Hermogenes. But do not, my friend, demand too much precision, lest you

enfeeble me of my sight.
Hom. Il. 6.265 For now that τέχνη (art) is disposed of, I am nearing the loftiest height of my subject, when once we have investigated μηχανή(contrivance). For I think μηχανή signifies ἄνειν ἐπὶ πολύ (much accomplishment); for μῆκος (length) has about the same meaning as τὸ πολύ (much), and the name μηχανή is composed of these two, μῆκος and ἄνειν. But, as I was just saying, we must go on to the loftiest height of our subject; we must search for the meaning of the words ἀρετή (virtue) and κακία (wickedness). Now one of them I cannot yet see; but the other seems to be quite clear, since it agrees with everything we have said before. For inasmuch as all things are in motion, everything that moves badly (κακῶς ἰόν) would be evil (κακία); and when this evil motion in relation to its environment exists in the soul, it receives the general name κακία (evil) in the special sense of wickedness. But the nature of evil motion (κακῶς ἰέναι) is made clear, I think, also in the word δειλία (cowardice), which we have not yet discussed. We passed it by, when we ought to have examined it after ἀνδρεία (courage); and I fancy we passed over a good many other words. Now the meaning of δειλία is a strong bond of the soul; for λίαν (excessively) is, in a way, expressive of strength; so δειλία would be the excessive or greatest bond (δεσμός, δεῖν) of the soul; and so, too, ἀπορία (perplexity) is an evil, as is everything, apparently, which hinders motion and progress (πορεύεσθαι). This, then, seems to be the meaning of evil motion (κακῶς ἰέναι), that advance is halting and impeded; and the soul that is infected by it becomes filled with wickedness (κακία). If these are the reasons for the name of wickedness, virtue (ἀρετή) would be the opposite of this; it would signify first ease of motion, and secondly that the flow of the good soul is always unimpeded, and therefore it has received this name, which designates that which always flows (ἀεὶ ῥέον) without let or hindrance. It is properly called ἀειρειτή, or perhaps also αἱρετή, indicating that this condition is especially to be chosen; but it has been compressed and is pronounced ἀρετή. Perhaps you will say this is another invention of mine; but I say if what I said just now about κακία is right, this about the name of ἀρετή is right too.

Hermogenes. But what is the meaning of the word κακόν which you used in many of your derivations?

Socrates. By Zeus, I think it is a strange word and hard to understand; so I apply to it that contrivance of mine.

Hermogenes. What contrivance?

Socrates. The claim of foreign origin, which I advance in this case as in those others.

Hermogenes. Well, probably you are right. But, if you please, let us drop these words and try to discover the reasons for the words καλόν (beautiful, noble) and αἰσχρόν (base).

Socrates. I think the meaning of αἰσχρόν is clear, and this also agrees with what has been said before. For the giver of names appears to me throughout to denounce that which hinders and restrains things from flowing, and in this instance he gave to that which always restrains the flow (ἀεὶ ἴσχει τὸν ῥοῦν) this name ἀεισχοροῦν, which is now compressed and pronounced αἰσχρόν.

Hermogenes. What about καλόν?

Socrates. That is harder to understand, and yet it expresses its meaning: it has been altered merely in accent and in the length of the O.

Hermogenes. How is that?

Socrates. I think this word denotes intellect.

Hermogenes. What do you mean?

Socrates. Why, what do you think is the cause why anything is called by a name? Is it not the power which gave the name?

Hermogenes. Why, certainly.

Socrates. And is not that power the intellect either of gods or of men or both?

Hermogenes. Yes.

Socrates. Are not that which called things by name and that which calls them by name (τὸ καλοῦν) the same thing, namely intellect?

Hermogenes. Yes, clearly.

Socrates. And are not all works which are done by mind and intelligence worthy of praise, and those that are not done by them worthy of blame?

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. Does not the medical power perform medical works and the power of carpentry works of carpentry? Do you agree to that?

Hermogenes. I agree.

Socrates. And the beautiful performs beautiful works?

Hermogenes. It must do so.

Socrates. And the beautiful is, we say, intellect?

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. Then this name, the beautiful, is rightly given to mind, since it accomplishes the works which we call beautiful and in which we delight.

Hermogenes. Evidently.

Socrates. What further words of this sort are left for us?

Hermogenes. Those that are related to the good and the beautiful, such as συμφέροντα (advantageous), λυσιτελοῦντα (profitable), ὠφέλιμα (useful), κερδαλέα (gainful), and their opposites.

Socrates. You might by this time be able to find the meaning of συμφέροντα by yourself in the light of the previous explanations, for it appears to be own brother to ἐπιστήμη. It means nothing else but the motion (φορά) of the soul in company with the world, and naturally things which are done by such a power are called συμφέροντα and σύμφορα because they are carried round with (συμπεριφέρεσθαι) the world. But κερδαλέον is from κέρδος (gain). If you restore nu in the word κέρδος in place of the delta, the meaning is plain; it signifies good, but in another way. Because it passes through and is mingled (κεράννυται) with all things, he who named it gave it this name which indicates that function; but he inserted a delta instead of nu and said κέρδος.

Hermogenes. And what is λυσιτελοῦν?

Socrates. I do not think, Hermogenes, the name-giver gives the meaning to λυσιτελοῦν which it has in the language of tradesfolk, when profit sets free (ἀπολύει) the sum invested, but he means that because it is the swiftest thing in the world it does not allow things to remain at rest and does not allow the motion to come to any end (τέλος) of movement or to stop or pause, but always, if any end of the motion is attempted, it sets it free, making it unceasing and immortal. It is in this sense, I think, that the good is dubbed λυσιτελοῦν, for it frees (λύει) the end (τέλος) of the motion. But the word ὠφέλιμον is a foreign one, which Homer often uses in the verbal form ὀφέλλειν. This is a synonym of increase and create.

Hermogenes. What shall be our explanations of the opposites of these?

Socrates. Those of them that are mere negatives, need, I think, no discussion.

Hermogenes. Which are those?

Socrates. Disadvantageous, useless, unprofitable, and ungainful.

Hermogenes. True.

Socrates. But βλαβερόν (harmful) and ζημιῶδες (hurtful) do need it.

Hermogenes. Yes.

Socrates. And βλαβερόν means that which harms (βλάπτον) the flow (ῥοῦν); but βλάπτον means wishing to fasten (ἅπτειν), and ἅπτειν is the same thing as δεῖν (bind), which the name-giver constantly finds fault with. Now τὸ βουλόμενον ἅπτειν ῥοῦν (that which wishes to fasten the flow) would most correctly be called βουλαπτεροῦν, but is called βλαβερόν merely, as I think, to make it prettier.

Hermogenes. Elaborate names these are, Socrates, that result from your method. Just now, when you pronounced βουλαπτεροῦν, you looked as if you had made up your mouth to whistle the flute-prelude of the hymn to Athena.

Socrates. Not I, Hermogenes, am responsible, but those who gave the name.

Hermogenes. True. Well, what is the origin of ζημιῶδες?

Socrates. What can the origin of ζημιῶδες be? See, Hermogenes, how true my words are when I say that by adding and taking away letters people alter the sense of words so that even by very slight changes they sometimes make them mean the opposite of what they meant before; as, for instance, in the case of the word δέον (obligation, right), for that just occurred to me and I was reminded of it by what I was going to say to you, that this fine modern language of ours has turned δέον and also ζημιῶδες round, so that each has the opposite of its original meaning, whereas the ancient language shows clearly the real sense of both words.

Hermogenes. What do you mean?

Socrates. I will tell you. You know that our ancestors made good use of the sounds of iota and delta, and that is especially true of the women, who are most addicted to preserving old forms of speech. But nowadays people change iota to eta or epsilon, and delta to zeta, thinking they have a grander sound.

Hermogenes. How is that?

Socrates. For instance, in the earliest times they called day ἱμέρα, others said ἑμέρα, and now they say ἡμέρα.

Hermogenes. That is true.

Socrates. Only the ancient word discloses the intention of the name-giver, don’t you know? For day comes out of darkness to men; they welcome it and long (ἱμείρουσι) for it, and so they called it ἱμέρα.

Hermogenes. That is clear.

Socrates. But now ἡμέρα is masquerading so that you could not guess its meaning. Why, some people think day is called ἡμέρα because it makes things gentle (ἥμερα).

Hermogenes. I believe they do.

Socrates. And you know the ancients called ζυγόν (yoke) δυογόν.

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. And ζυγόν conveys no clear meaning, but the name δυογόν is quite properly given to that which binds two together for the purpose of draught; now, however, we say ζυγόν. There are a great many other such instances.

Hermogenes. Yes, that is plain.

Socrates. Similarly the word δέον (obligation) at first, when spoken in this way, denotes the opposite of all words connected with the good; for although it is a form of good, δέον seems to be a bond (δεσμός) and hindrance of motion, own brother, as it were, toβλαβερόν.

Hermogenes. Yes, Socrates, it certainly does seem so.

Socrates. But it does not, if you employ the ancient word, which is more likely to be right than the present one. You will find that it agrees with the previous words for good, if instead of the epsilon you restore the iota, as it was in old times for διόν (going through), not δέον, signifies good, which the name-giver praises. And so the giver of names does not contradict himself, but δέον (obligation, right), ὠφέλιμον (useful), λυσιτελοῦν (profitable), κερδαλέον (gainful), ἀγαθόν (good), ξυμφέρον (advantageous), and εὔπορον (prosperous), are plainly identical, signifying under different names the principle of arrangement and motion which has constantly been praised, whereas the principle of constraint and bondage is found fault with. And likewise in the case of ζημιῶδες, if you restore the ancient delta in place of the zeta, you will see that the name, pronounced δημιῶδες, was given to that which binds motion (δοῦντι τὸ ἰόν).

Hermogenes. What of ἡδονή (pleasure) and λύπη (pain) and ἐπιθυμία (desire), and the like, Socrates?

Socrates. I do not think they are at all difficult, Hermogenes, for ἡδονή appears to have this name because it is the action that tends towards advantage (ἡ πρὸς τὴν ὄνησιν τείνουσα); the delta is inserted, so that we say ἡδονή instead of ἡονή. Λύπη appears to have received its name from the dissolution (διάλυσις) of the body which takes place through pain. Ἀνία (sorrow) is that which hinders motion (ἰέναι). Ἀλγηδών (distress) is, I think, a foreign word, derived from ἀλγεινός (distressing). Ὀδύνη (grief) appears to be so called from the putting on of pain (τῆς ἐνδύσεως τῆς λύπης). Ἀχθηδών (vexation) has a name, as anyone can see, made in the likeness of the weight (ἄχθος, burden) which vexation imposes upon motion. Χαρά (joy) seems to have its name from the plenteous diffusion (διάχυσις) of the flow of the soul. Τέρψις (delight) is from τερπνόν (delightful); and τερπνόν is called from the creeping (ἕρψις) of the soul, which is likened to a breath (πνοή), and would properly be called ἕρπνουν, but the name has been changed in course of time to τερπνόν. Εὐφροσύνη(mirth) needs no explanation, for it is clear to anyone that from the motion of the soul in harmony (εὖ) with the universe, it received the name εὐφεροσύνη, as it rightfully is; but we call it ευφροσύνη. Nor is there any difficulty about ἐπιθυμία (desire), for this name was evidently given to the power that goes (ἰοῦσα) into the soul (θυμός). And θυμός has its name from the raging (θύσις) and boiling of the soul.

Socrates The name ἵμερος (longing) was given to the stream (ῥοῦς) which most draws the soul; for because it flows with a rush (ἱέμενος) and with a desire for things and thus draws the soul on through the impulse of its flowing, all this power gives it the name of ἵμερος. And the word πόθος (yearning) signifies that it pertains not to that which is present, but to that which is elsewhere (ἄλλοθί που) or absent, and therefore the same feeling which is called ἵμερος when its object is present, is called πόθος when it is absent. And ἔρως (love) is so called because it flows in (ἐσρεῖ) from without, and this flowing is not inherent in him who has it, but is introduced through the eyes; for this reason it was in ancient times called ἔσρος, from ἐσρεῖν—for we used to employ omicron instead of omega—but now it is called ἔρως through the change of omicron to omega. Well, what more is there that you want to examine?

Hermogenes. What is your view about δόξα (opinion) and the like?

Socrates.Δόξα is derived either from the pursuit (δίωξις) which the soul carries on as it pursues the knowledge of the nature of things, or from the shooting of the bow (τόξον); the latter is more likely; at any rate οἴησις (belief) supports this view, for it appears to mean the motion (οἶσις) of the soul towards the essential nature of every individual thing, just as βουλή (intention) denotes shooting (βολή) and βούλεσθαι (wish), as well as βουλεύεσθαι (plan), denotes aiming at something. All these words seem to follow δόξα and to express the idea of shooting, just as ἀβουλία (ill-advisedness), on the other hand, appears to be a failure to hit, as if a person did not shoot or hit that which he shot at or wished or planned or desired.

Hermogenes. I think you are hurrying things a bit, Socrates.

Socrates. Yes, for I am running the last lap now. But I think I must still explain ἀνάγκη (compulsion) and ἑκούσιον (voluntary) because they naturally come next. Now by the word ἑκούσιον is expressed the yielding (εἶκον) and not opposing, but, as I say, yielding to the motion which is in accordance with the will; but the compulsory (τὸ ἀναγκαῖον) and resistant, being contrary to the will, is associated with error and ignorance; so it is likened to walking through ravines (ἄγκη), because they are hard to traverse, rough, and rugged, and retard motion; the word ἀναγκαῖον may, then, originate in a comparison with progress through a ravine. But let us not cease to use my strength, so long as it lasts and do not you cease from asking questions.

Hermogenes. I ask, then, about the greatest and noblest words, truth (ἀλήθεια), falsehood (ψεῦδος), being (τὸ ὄν), and why name, the subject of our whole discourse, has the name ὄνομα.

Socrates. Does the word μαίσθαι (search) mean anything to you?

Hermogenes. Yes, it means seek.

Socrates. The word ὄνομα seems to be a word composed from a sentence signifying this is a being about which our search is. You can recognize that more readily in the adjective ὀνομαστόν, for that says clearly that this is ὄν οὗ μάσμα ἐστίν (being of which the search is). And ἀλήθεια (truth) is like the others; for the divine motion of the universe is, I think, called by this name, ἀλήθεια, because it is a divine wandering θεία ἄλη. But ψεῦδος (falsehood) is the opposite of motion; for once more that which is held back and forced to be quiet is found fault with, and it is compared to slumberers (εὕουσι); but the addition of the psi conceals the meaning of the word. The words τὸ ὄν (being) and οὐσία (existence) agree with ἀληθής with the loss of iota, for they mean going (ἰόν). And οὐκ ὄν (not being) means οὐκ ἰόν (not going), and indeed some people pronounce it so.

Hermogenes. I think you have knocked these words to pieces manfully, Socrates; but if anyone should ask you what propriety or correctness there was in these words that you have employed—ἰόν and ρἕον and δοῦν—

Socrates. What answer should I make? Is that your meaning?

Hermogenes. Yes, exactly.

Socrates. We acquired just now one way of making an answer with a semblance of sense in it.

Hermogenes. What way was that?

Socrates. Saying, if there is a word we do not know about, that it is of foreign origin. Now this may be true of some of them, and also on account of the lapse of time it may be impossible to find out about the earliest words; for since words get twisted in all sorts of ways, it would not be in the least wonderful if the ancient Greek word should be identical with the modern foreign one.

Hermogenes. That is not unlikely.

Socrates. It is indeed quite probable. However, we must play the game[*](A proverbial expression.) and investigate these questions vigorously. But let us bear in mind that if a person asks about the words by means of which names are formed, and again about those by means of which those words were formed, and keeps on doing this indefinitely, he who answers his questions will at last give up; will he not?

Hermogenes. Yes, I think so.

Socrates. Now at what point will he be right in giving up and stopping? Will it not be when he reaches the names which are the elements of the other names and words? For these, if they are the elements, can no longer rightly appear to be composed of other names. For instance, we said just now that ἀγαθόν was composed of ἀγαστόν and θοόν; and perhaps we might say that θοόν was composed of other words, and those of still others; but if we ever get hold of a word which is no longer composed of other words, we should be right ill saying that we had at last reached an element, and that we must no longer refer to other words for its derivation.

Hermogenes. I think you are right.

Socrates. Are, then, these words about which you are now asking elements, and must we henceforth investigate their correctness by some other method?

Hermogenes. Probably.

Socrates. Yes, probably, Hermogenes; at any rate, all the previous words were traced back to these. But if this be true, as I think it is, come to my aid again and help me in the investigation, that I may not say anything foolish in declaring what principle must underlie the correctness of the earliest names.

Hermogenes. Go on, and I will help you to the best of my ability.

Socrates. I think you agree with me that there is but one principle of correctness in all names, the earliest as well as the latest, and that none of them is any more a name than the rest.

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. Now the correctness of all the names we have discussed was based upon the intention of showing the nature of the things named.

Hermogenes. Yes, of course.

Socrates. And this principle of correctness must be present in all names, the earliest as well as the later ones, if they are really to be names.

Hermogenes. Certainly.

Socrates. But the later ones, apparently, were able to accomplish this by means of the earlier ones.

Hermogenes. Evidently.

Socrates. Well, then, how can the earliest names, which are not as yet based upon any others, make clear to us the nature of things, so far as that is possible, which they must do if they are to be names at all? Answer me this question: If we had no voice or tongue, and wished to make things clear to one another, should we not try, as dumb people actually do, to make signs with our hands and head and person generally?

Hermogenes. Yes. What other method is there, Socrates?