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Headword: *swkra/ths
Adler number: sigma,830
Translated headword: Socrates, Sokrates
Vetting Status: high
[Genitive] *Swkra/tous ["of Socrates"].
"Socrates the Melian and Chaerephon, who knows about the footsteps of fleas."[1] [Said] in reference to those discussing certain esoteric matters.[2] It is unhistorical, for Socrates [was] an Athenian; but since Diagoras, who was a Melian, was criticized as being hostile to the gods, so [the dramatist] criticizes Socrates as being an atheist.[3] On account of the inquiry about how many feet a flea which has feet would jump. Or 'Melian', as some opine, as being one sharpening the souls who enter [the Think Shop] who were uncivilized before they entered, by a metaphor regarding irrational beasts, for sheep[4] are animals. But others understand it as meaning a dense and dry topic;[5] and some accepted [this interpretation]. Diagoras the Melian, who had formerly been devout, on being deprived of a deposit by someone, ran off [into exile] on a charge of atheism.[6] The Athenians, indignant at this, maltreated Melos.[7] And there was also Aristagoras the Melian, a dithyrambic poet:[8] [the man] who after openly dancing about and speaking out on the Eleusinian Mysteries was adjudged particularly impious. And because of him they [the comic poets] ridicule the Melians for impiety. [The term Melian] is also applied to blasphemers.
Greek Original:
*swkra/ths, *swkra/tous. *swkra/ths o( *mh/lios kai\ *xairefw=n, o(\s oi)=de ta\ yullw=n i)/xnh. e)pi\ tw=n a)po/rrhta/ tina lego/ntwn. e)/sti de\ par' i(stori/an: *)aqhnai=os ga\r o( *swkra/ths: a)ll' e)pei\ *diago/ras *mh/lios w)\n dieba/lleto w(s qeoma/xos, kai\ to\n *swkra/thn w(s a)/qeon diaba/llei. dia\ de\ th\n zh/thsin, o(po/sous a(/lloito h( yu/lla po/das e)/xousa. h)\ *mh/lios, w(/s tines e)cede/canto, o( ta\s tw=n ei)sio/ntwn yuxa\s o)cu/nwn, pri\n ei)selqei=n h)griwme/nas, a)po\ metafora=s tw=n a)lo/gwn qhri/wn: mh=la ga\r ta\ qre/mmata. oi( de\ ei)s to\ dasu\ kai\ au)xmhro\n noou=sin au)to/: oi( de\ pare/labon au)to/. *diago/ras: o( *mh/lios, o(\s to\ me\n pro/teron h)=n qeosebh/s, parakataqh/khn de\ u(po/ tinos a)posterhqei\s e)pi\ to\ a)/qeos ei)=nai e)/dramen. e)f' w(=| kai\ oi( *)aqhnai=oi a)ganakth/santes th\n *mh=lon e)ka/kwsan. e)ge/neto de\ kai\ *)aristago/ras *mh/lios, diqurambopoio/s: o(\s ta\ *)eleusi/nia musth/ria e)corxhsa/menos kai\ e)ceipw\n a)sebe/statos e)kri/qh. kai\ a)p' e)kei/nou tou\s *mhli/ous a)sebei/a| kwmw|dou=si. ta/ttetai de\ kai\ e)pi\ tw=n blasfh/mwn.
For Socrates see already sigma 829.
Adler (Prolegomena p. xviii) reports that the compiler of the Suda had available a manuscript containing the comedies of Aristophanes and annotations very like the Laurentian scholia. The present entry quotes Aristophanes, Clouds 830-1 and the scholia thereto, except that it sometimes truncates the latter to the point of unintelligibility.
[1] For Chaerephon see chi 158, chi 159, chi 160. In Clouds 143-152 a pupil at the Think Shop had reported to Strepsiades that Chaerephon and Socrates had calculated how many flea-feet a flea could jump. Our encyclopedist quotes neither Aristophanes nor the scholia quite correctly. The pupil had said that the philosophers had figured out 'how many of its own feet a flea could jump' (line 145), and so says the scholiast.
[2] Or 'things that may not be spoken publicly'. The expression would suggest that the calculations were the inner lore of a mystery religion, which is in fact exactly what the pupil had called them in line 143, musth/ria.
[3] For Diagoras see alpha 3493, delta 523, delta 524, tau 543. Also see Dover (below), commentary to line 830, where he accepts the interpretation that an allusion to Diagoras is intended and suggesting Socrates is an atheist. We learn from the feathered chorus in Birds 1073-74 that whoever killed Diagoras would receive a talent's reward, at least in Cloudcuckooland.
[4] The scholiast over-ingeniously connects the adjective 'Melian' with mh=lon, a sheep.
[5] 'Dense and dry', as the sort of ground sheep would graze on.
[6] In the ancient world, where few had access to banking services, someone leaving home would deposit money or other valuables with a trusted person. Violation of such a trust became a prominent topic of rhetoric and moralizing (as well, sometimes, as court-cases).
[7] The Melian affair, a notorious massacre and slave haul, 416 BCE. See Thucydides 5.17. Though it was one year too late for this comedy, even in its second version (Dover, Introduction, p. lxxx), it would have been known to the scholiast and presumed to be connected with Diagoras' misfortunes. See lambda 557.
[8] Otherwise unknown (but for another Melian dithyrambic poet see mu 455; confusion?).
Aristophanes, Clouds, edited with introduction and commentary by K.J. Dover (Oxford 1968)
Keywords: biography; comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; economics; ethics; geography; history; imagery; law; philosophy; poetry; religion
Translated by: Oliver Phillips ✝ on 17 August 2003@16:11:57.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (modified translation) on 17 August 2003@18:48:27.
David Whitehead (modified end of translation; added initial note and augmented others; augmented keywords; cosmetics) on 18 August 2003@03:33:19.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 18 October 2005@06:56:05.
Catharine Roth (removed nonfunctional links) on 19 September 2011@22:41:56.
David Whitehead (tweaks and cosmetics; raised status) on 31 December 2013@04:03:58.


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