Monday, October 25, 2004

Republic 328b2-3

And Glaucon said, "It seems we must remain."
"Well, if it seems so," I said, "then must one so do."

[The interesting part about this little exchange is the meaning of dokei in 328b3, which I've translated "seems."

First, one has to decide if the verb is in the second or the third person. Cornford favors the second person and translates "if you think so." All the others I consulted went with the third person, which results in a translation involving the third-person "it"; e.g., "it seems . . . ." I think the second-person construction is rare.

Second, one has to decide the meaning of dokei. It could mean think, suppose, expect, seem, etc. Fortunately, the options are narrowed down because of the third-person dokei. In this context, the word that makes the best sense is "seems."

To throw in another wrinkle, Bloom notes the following: "At the end of this scene, which is a dramatic prefiguration of the whole political problem, Socrates uses this word as it was used in the political assembly to announce that the sovereign authority had passed a law or decree. It is the expression with which the laws begin, "It is resolved by [literally, 'it seems to'] the Athenian people. . . ." (Bloom, 441n6). See, e.g., Herodotus, The Histories 1.3.2; see the entry in LSJ II.4.b for more entries in this vein. Thus, Bloom translates it "resolved."

This is a bit too interpretive for my tastes. I think it's important to draw the connection with the political resolutions, but I'm not sure if that's sufficient to employ the English word "resolved" to capture the meaning intended. However, Godley's translation of the Herodotus passage noted above disagrees with me, too.]

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