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Socrates and Money

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The Translation of Plato, Apology 30b2-4

image of Mnemosyne

The controversy over the translation of Plato, Apology 30b2-4 began officially with the publication of John Burnet’s Oxford edition and commentary in 1924. The aim of the present paper is to prove that the standard translation rejected by Burnet is both preferable on linguistic grounds and is also an accurate reflection of Socrates’ philosophical position in the Apology. In the first part of the paper, I present an augmented version of the argument of De Strycker and Slings and then provide three novel arguments of a philological nature based on linguistic parallels and popular usage in support of the standard translation. In the second part I examine the immediate context of the aphorism and conclude that Socrates held money to be a good for mankind (albeit a contingent good) when it is produced ex aretês, that is by the truly virtuous individual or state.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Classics and Ancient History, The University of Sydney


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1. Bassett S.E."ὙΣΤΕΡΟΝ ΠΡΟΤΕΡΟΝὉΜΗΡΙΚΩΣ Cicero Att. 1,16,1" HSPh 1920Vol 31 39 62
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11. Hammond Taylor J."Virtue and Wealth According to Socrates. (Apol. 30b)" CB 1973Vol 49 4 49 52
12. McCoy M. Plato on the Rhetoric of Philosophers and Sophists 2008 Cambridge
13. Rowe C. Plato and the Art of Philosophical Writing 2007 Cambridge [Crossref]
14. Seager R."Thrasybulus, Conon and Athenian Imperialism, 396-386 b.c." JHS 1967Vol 87 95 115 [Crossref]
15. Skard E. Zwei religiös-politische Begriffe: Euergetes-Concordia 1932 Oslo
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17. de Strycker E., Slings S.R. Plato’s Apology of Socrates: a Literary and Philosophical Study with a Running Commentary 1994 Leiden

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