Don’t Let Questions Ruin Your Conference

In solidarity with friends traveling to the capitol this week….

Plato, Protagoras 338d-e

“But am willing to do this in such a way that you are eager for the conference and you will have some conversations. If Protagoras does not want to respond to questions, let him ask them instead, and I will answer and I will at the same time try to show him how I believe that someone should answer when he is asked something.

Whenever I answer however many questions he wants to ask, then let him promise to give me the same courtesy in return. If he does not seem enthusiastic about answering what he has been asked, then you and I can ask him in common—the very thing which you asked—that he not ruin our conference. It is not necessary to put one person in charge of this, but you can all watch over this together.”

ἀλλ᾿ οὑτωσὶ ἐθέλω ποιῆσαι, ἵν᾿ ὃ προθυμεῖσθε συνουσία τε καὶ διάλογοι ἡμῖν γίγνωνται· εἰ μὴ βούλεται Πρωταγόρας ἀποκρίνεσθαι, οὗτος μὲν ἐρωτάτω, ἐγὼ δὲ ἀποκρινοῦμαι, καὶ ἅμα πειράσομαι αὐτῷ δεῖξαι, ὡς ἐγώ φημι χρῆναι τὸν ἀποκρινόμενον ἀποκρίνεσθαι· ἐπειδὰν δὲ ἐγὼ ἀποκρίνωμαι ὁπόσ᾿ ἂν οὗτος βούληται ἐρωτᾷν, πάλιν οὗτος ἐμοὶ λόγον ὑποσχέτω ὁμοίως. ἐὰν οὖν μὴ δοκῇ πρόθυμος εἶναι πρὸς αὐτὸ τὸ ἐρωτώμενον ἀποκρίνεσθαι, καὶ ἐγὼ καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινῇ δεησόμεθα αὐτοῦ ἅπερ ὑμεῖς ἐμοῦ, μὴ διαφθείρειν τὴν συνουσίαν· καὶ οὐδὲν δεῖ τούτου ἕνεκα ἕνα ἐπιστάτην γενέσθαι, ἀλλὰ πάντες κοινῇ ἐπιστατήσετε.


Ammianus Marcellinus, History 21.4

“After Aquileia was surrounded by a double line of shields, when leaders conferred, it seemed best to try to persuade the defenders to surrender with a variety of threats and promises. Even though many words were intensively exchanged, their reluctance actually grew stronger and the conference was ended without a thing accomplished.”

Ordine itaque scutorum gemino Aquileia circumsaepta, concinentibus sententiis ducum, conveniens visum est ad deditionem allicere defensores, minacium blandorumque varietate sermonum: et multis ultro citroque dictitatis, in immensum obstinatione gliscente, ex colloquio re infecta disceditur.

One of the tapestries in the series The Hunt of the Unicorn: The Unicorn is Found, circa 1495-1505, The CloistersMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

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