“Only a Fool Would Ask the God…” Plato and Xenophon on Socrates (According to Athenaeus)

In another passage (Apol. 21a), Plato says that Chaerophon asked the Pythia if anyone was wiser than Socrates and that she answered that no one was. In this, as well, Xenophon says something different (Apol.14): “When Chaerophon once asked about me at Delphi, Apollo answered that no one of the present men was more just or wise.”

How is it sensible or persuasive that Socrates, who agreed that he knew nothing, was declared the wisest of all men by the god who knows everything? If this is wisdom, knowing nothing, then knowing everything is foolishness. What need was there for Chaerophon to ask the god about Socrates? It is because itwas right to Believe Socrates when he said about himself that he was not wise. “For the man who would ask such things of a god is a fool”.

Is this the face of a fool?
Is this the face of a fool?

κἀν ἄλλοις δ’ ὁ Πλάτων φησὶ (apol. p. 21 a) Χαιρεφῶντα ἐρωτῆσαι τὴν Πυθίαν εἴ τις εἴη Σωκράτους σοφώτερος· καὶ τὴν ἀνελεῖν μηδένα. κἀν τούτοις δὲ μὴ συμφωνῶν Ξενοφῶν φησι (apol. 14)· ‘Χαιρεφῶντος γάρ ποτε ἐπερωτήσαντος ἐν Δελφοῖς ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ, ἀνεῖλεν ὁ ᾿Απόλλων <πολλῶν> παρόντων μηδένα εἶναι ἀνθρώπων ἐμοῦ μήτε δικαιότερον μήτε σωφρονέστερον.’ πῶς οὖν εὔλογον ἢ πιθανὸν Σωκράτη τὸν ὁμολογοῦντα μηδὲν ἐπίστασθαι σοφώτατον ἁπάντων ὑπὸ τοῦ πάντα ἐπισταμένου θεοῦ ἀναρρηθῆναι; εἰ γὰρ τοῦτό ἐστι σοφία, τὸ μηδὲν εἰδέναι, τὸ πάντα εἰδέναι φαυλότης ἂν εἴη. τίς δ’ ἦν χρεία τῷ Χαιρεφῶντι παρενοχλεῖν τὸν θεὸν περὶ Σωκράτους πυνθανόμενον; αὐτὸς γὰρ ἦν ἀξιόπιστος ὑπὲρ αὑτοῦ λέγων ὡς οὔκ ἐστι σοφός. ‘βλὰξ γάρ τις ἦν τοιαῦτ’ ἐρωτῶν τὸν θεόν,’

Love Is Tearing Me Apart: Tibullus, II.IV (1-12)

“Here I see my addiction, my mistress ready for me;
And so: farewell to my inherited freedom.
Here a sad slavery is granted and I am held by chains,
as Love never removes his bonds, though he burns me
whether I have earned it or made no mistake at all.
I burn, Oh I burn: remove the brands, you savage girl.
Oh, if I were but able not to feel such sorrow,
I would rather be a stone on the frozen cliffs
where the waves of the ruinous sea crush the shipwrecks!
Now the day is bitter and night’s shadow bitterer too.
Every second is dyed with a stinging poison.”

Hic mihi seruitium uideo dominamque paratam:
iam mihi, libertas illa paterna, uale.
seruitium sed triste datur, teneorque catenis,
et numquam misero uincla remittit Amor,
et seu quid merui seu nil peccauimus, urit.
uror, io, remoue, saeua puella, faces.
o ego ne possim tales sentire dolores,
quam mallem in gelidis montibus esse lapis,
stare uel insanis cautes obnoxia uentis,
naufraga quam uasti tunderet unda maris!
nunc et amara dies et noctis amarior umbra est:
omnia nam tristi tempora felle madent.

I have been in a longstanding debate with Palaiophron about the merits of Tibullus versus Propertius. I don’t know whether this segment proves his case, but it certainly does not help mine.

Here’s some Joy Division as an antidote. Or accelerant.