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Headword: *me/nwn
Adler number: mu,618
Translated headword: Menon, Meno
Vetting Status: high
Athenian.[1] This man "was open in his strong desire to become rich; he also wanted a command, to bring him more money; and he wanted honours, for extra profits. And his wish was to be a friend to the most powerful, so as to avoid paying the penalty for wrongdoing. As the shortest route to the attainment of his desires he saw perjury and lying and deceit; simplicity and truth, on the other hand, was something he considered foolish.[2] It was obvious that he felt no affection for anyone; rather, whenever he claimed to be a friend to somebody, this person was plainly the target of his intrigues. He never laughed at an enemy, but always conversed with his own associates as if laughing at them. He did not scheme against the property of his enemies, for in his opinion it was difficult to take what belonged to men who were on their guard; instead, he was unique in realising that the property of his friends, unguarded, was easy to take. Any men he perceived as perjurors and wrongdoers[3] he feared as well-protected, whereas the scrupulous and truthful he sought to treat as spineless. Just as some take pride in piety and truth and uprightness, so Menon took pride in his capacity to deceive, to fabricate falsehoods, and to sneer at friends; anyone not a villain he regarded as needing an education. When there was a group in which he wanted to be top man, he thought that the way to win over the first (dependants?) was by slandering love.[4] His plan for making troops obedient was to become a partner in their crimes. He considered himself worthy of honours and attention by displaying that he had great powers and was willing to abuse them; but whenever someone parted company with him he used to say that he had done the man a kindness - he had employed him and not killed him."
Greek Original:
*me/nwn, *)aqhnai=os. ou(=tos dh=los h)=n e)piqumw=n plou/tou i)sxurw=s, e)piqumw=n de\ a)/rxein, o(/pws plei/w lamba/noi, e)piqumw=n de\ tima=sqai, i(/na plei/w kerdai/noi: fi/los te e)bou/leto ei)=nai toi=s me/giston duname/nois i(/n' a)dikw=n mh\ doi/h di/khn. e)pi\ de\ to\ katerga/zesqai w(=n e)piqumoi/h suntomwta/thn w)/|eto o(do\n ei)=nai dia\ tou= e)piorkei=n te kai\ yeu/desqai kai\ e)capata=n, to\ de\ a(plou=n kai\ to\ a)lhqe\s e)nomi/zeto au)tw=| h)li/qion ei)=nai. ste/rgwn de\ fanero\s me\n h)=n ou)de/na: o(/tw| de\ fai/h fi/los ei)=nai, tou/tw| e)/ndhlos e)gi/neto e)pibouleu/wn. kai\ polemi/ou me\n ou)deno\s katege/la, tw=n de\ suno/ntwn pa/ntwn w(s katagelw=n a)ei\ diele/geto. kai\ toi=s me\n tw=n polemi/wn kth/masin ou)k e)pebou/leue: xalepo\n ga\r w)/|eto ei)=nai ta\ tw=n fulattome/nwn lamba/nein: a)lla\ ta\ tw=n fi/lwn mo/nos w)/|eto ei)de/nai o(/ti r(a=|ston a)fu/lakta lamba/nein. kai\ o(/sous me\n ai)sqa/noito e)pio/rkous kai\ a)di/kous, w(s eu)= w(plisme/nous e)fobei=to, toi=s de\ o(si/ois kai\ a)lh/qeian a)skou=sin w(s a)na/ndrois e)peira=to xrh=sqai. w(/sper de/ tis a)ga/lletai e)pi\ qeosebei/a| kai\ a)lhqei/a| kai\ dikaio/thti, ou(/tw *me/nwn h)ga/lleto tw=| e)capata=n du/nasqai, tw=| pla/sai yeudh=, tw=| fi/lous diagela=n: to\n de\ mh\ panou=rgon a)pai/deuton e)no/mizen ei)=nai. kai\ par' oi(=s me\n e)pexei/rei prwteu/ein, diaba/llwn fili/an, tou\s prw/tous tou/tw| w)/|eto dei=n kth/sasqai. to\ de\ peiqome/nous stratiw/tas pare/xesqai e)k tou= sunadikei=n au)toi=s e)mhxana=to. tima=sqai de\ kai\ qerapeu/esqai h)ci/ou e)pideiknu/wn me/n, o(/ti plei=sta du/naito kai\ e)qe/loi a)\n a)dikei=n. eu)ergesi/an de\ kate/legen, o(po/te tis au)tou= a)fi/staito, o(/ti xrw/menos au)tw=| ou)k a)pw/lesen au)to/n.
The quotation that begins at the fourth word of the Greek entry (see above) is from Xenophon, Anabasis 2.6.21-27, but its text shows numerous departures from the two families of Xenophon mss known to us (see web address 1). In at least one instance it is superior to them and supported by an extract in Stobaeus. Meno was a mercenary general of Aristippus the Aleuad of Larisa (PW 1.1372-74; Gehrke pp. 189-90), who belonged to the pro-Persian faction in that city. Plato calls him 'the hereditary friend of the Great King' (Meno 78d2 f.). He joined the Persian pretender Cyrus in the campaign narrated by Xenophon in the Anabasis (1.2.6, 20f.; 4.13ff., etc.). The unflattering portrait in the passage quoted here reflects general Athenian hatred for those who supported the Persians in the Persian Wars, perhaps also the alleged jealousy between Plato and Xenophon (Klein p.37 and n.13) and factional distrust in Cyrus's army. Plato opens a delightful field for Socratic irony when he chooses a man of such dubious reputation as the central character of his Meno, to join in asking the question, What is virtue (a)reth/)? Meno is there an example of the a)maqi/a that is unable to learn virtue.
[1] Meno(n) was not, to our knowledge, an Athenian, but, like his patron, a Thessalian -- as indeed Xenophon has begun by saying. Xenophon and all known sources (for which see references below) agree on this point. Plato describes him as on a visit to Athens. This entry is thus either in simple error (LGPN ii (Athens) lists 70 known individuals with this name) or deliberate in contradicting the citizenship given by Xenophon in the passage it cites. Was Meno perhaps a member of the Thessalian family in Pharsalus awarded honorific Athenian citizenship in the 470s for their services (Demosthenes 23.199, etc.: Osborne T1) and still helping Athens out in 431 (Thuc. 2.22.3)? Or could he have been born in Athens and later followed Aristippus to Thessaly as his boyfriend?
[2] This reading is also found at eta 223. It is not inferior to the mss reading to\ au)to\ tw|= h)liqi/w|=, 'was the same as foolishness', but is perhaps a marginal elucidation of the use of the dative in the phrase 'the same as'.
[3] The reading here is supported by Stobaeus codex A and appears correct.
[4] This sentence is unsatisfactory both here and in our mss, from which it differs in substance. It should illustrate the villainy (panourgi/a, willingness to undertake any act no matter how immoral) of Meno. The mss have "friendship" in the preceding subordinate clause in the dative of manner (fili/a|, 'in friendship/love'): 'When there was a group in which he wanted to stand out (prwteu/ein 'to be first') in friendship, he thought that the way to achieve (sc. being first) was by this, by slandering the principals (tou\s prw/tous)'. This is an example of manipulativeness, a characteristic already highlighted, but not of panourgi/a. The problem in both readings is that the transitive verb kth/sasqai, 'to get, acquire, get control of', requires a satisfactory direct object. The reading in the mss has no such object expressed, although perhaps "being first" can be supplied. The reading in the Suda has "the principals" as object, but it is unclear how you get leaders into your power by slandering friendship. It is likely that the required meaning refers to Meno's sexual politics as a gay man, seeking to be the sexually dominant figure in the group: by attacking fili/a in its sense as the love between homosexual lover and his (subordinate) beloved, he sought to seduce his first beloveds in the group.
Der Kleine Pauly 7.1249-50.
Pauly-Wissowa, RE 15.925-26 'Menon 4'
T.S. Brown, 'Meno of Thessaly;, Historia 35 (1986) 387-404
H.-J. Gehrke, Stasis (Munich: Beck, 1985) 184-97 (esp. 190 n.4)
J. Klein, Commentary on Plato's Meno (1965) 35ff.
O. Lendle, Kommentar zu Xenophons Anabasis (1995)
M.J. Osborne, Naturalization in Athens vols.III-IV (Brussels 1983)
H.D. Westlake, Thessaly in the Fourth Century B.C. (London: Methuen, 1935) 55
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; economics; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; historiography; history; military affairs; philosophy; rhetoric
Translated by: David Whitehead on 8 July 2001@05:40:14.
Vetted by:
Robert Dyer (Slight modification of translation to match note 4, addition of introductory note and expansion of numbered notes, with a speculative interpretation introduced in note 4, added bibliography and keywords) on 16 December 2002@12:34:09.
David Whitehead (augmented note and bibliography; cosmetics) on 17 December 2002@03:23:18.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 1 December 2005@08:17:51.
Catharine Roth (added link) on 11 August 2006@19:14:24.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 13 August 2006@04:22:06.
David Whitehead on 16 May 2013@05:49:02.


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