9 Unit 18: Meno 81a-b

In Plato’s Meno, Socrates and Meno discuss the nature of virtue, whether it is learned, acquired, or innate. Over the course of the dialogue they end up talking about the nature of knowledge itself, where it comes from, and how it’s acquired. To set up the theory of recollection, which we will hear about shortly, Socrates establishes his theory of reincarnation or transmigration of the soul.


Σωκράτης: ἀκήκοα γὰρ ἀνδρῶν τε καὶ γυναικῶν σοφῶν περὶ τὰ θεῖα πράγματα-
Μέν.: τί ἀκήκοας; καὶ τίνες οἱ λέγοντες;
Σωκ.: οἱ μὲν λέγοντές εἰσί τινες τῶν ἱερέων τε καὶ τῶν ἱερειῶν ὅσοι ζητοῦσι λόγον διδόναι περὶ τούτων ἅ μεταχειρίζονται·

θεῖος, -α, -ον: divine, holy
ἱέρεια, -ας (ἡ): priestess
μεταχειρίζω: to take in hand; [middle] practice


[Σωκ.:] λέγει* δὲ καὶ Πίνδαρος καὶ ἄλλοι πολλοὶ τῶν ποιητῶν. ἃ δὲ λέγουσιν, τάδε ἐστιν· ἀλλὰ σκόπει εἴ σοι δοκοῦσιν ἀληθῆ λέγειν. φασὶ γὰρ τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου εἶναι ἀθάνατον, καὶ τοτὲ μὲν τελευτᾶν—ὃ* δὴ ἀποθνῄσκειν καλοῦσι—τοτὲ δὲ πάλιν γίγνεσθαι, καταλυθῆναι δ᾽ οὒποτε. διὰ δὲ ταῦτα δεῖ, ὡς λέγουσι, ἀγαγεῖν βίον ὁσιώτατον·

λέγει*: Some verbs, like this one, will agree in number with their nearest subject, even if additional subjects are given later in the sentence. This is often the case when the later subjects appear as afterthoughts.
Πίνδαρος, -ου (ὁ): Pindar
σκοπέω: to examine, consider
ὃ*: “a thing which…” The antecedent of this relative clause is the idea of the previous infinitive phrase.
πάλιν (adv.): back; again
δεῖ: it is necessary, one must (+inf.)
ὅσιος, -α, -ον: pious


[Σωκ.:] ἐκ γὰρ ὧν* …
[Adapted into Attic:]
Περσεφόνη ποινὰν παλαιοῦ πένθεος
δέξεται, εἰς τὸν ἄνω ἥλιον ἐκείνων ἐνάτῳ ἔτει
ἀναδίδωσιν ψυχὰς πάλιν.”

[Pindar’s Original:]
“Φερσεφόνα ποινὰν παλαιοῦ πένθεος
δέξεται, εἰς τὸν ὕπερθεν ἅλιον κείνων ἐνάτῳ ἔτεϊ
ἀνδιδοῖ ψυχὰς πάλιν,”

ἐκ γὰρ ὧν*: This begins a relative clause that will continue into the quotation that follows. “For (the people) from whom ‘Persephone will…'”
Περσεφόνη -ης (ἡ): Persephone
ποινά, -ής (ἡ): recompense
πένθος, -εος (τό): grief
ἄνω (adv.): above
ἥλιος, -ου (ὁ): sun
ἔνατος, -η, -ον: ninth
ἔτος, -ους (τό): year


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