T h e G o d d e s s
A t h e n a
i n P l a t o ' s
E u t h y d e m u s
Then, after a pause, in which he seemed
to be lost in the contemplation of something great, he said: Tell
me, Socrates, have you an "ancestral Zeus"? Here, anticipating the
final move, like a person caught in a net, who gives a desperate twist
that he may get away, I said: No, Dionysodorus, I have not.
What a miserable man you must be
then, [302c] he said, and you are not an Athenian at all, if you have no
ancestral Gods, nor shrines, nor anything else that denotes a gentleman!
Enough, Dionysodorus; I said, do
not be rough, and don't browbeat your pupil! For I have altars and shrines,
domestic and ancestral, and all that other Athenians have.
And have not other Athenians, he
asked, an "ancestral Zeus"?
That name, I said, is not to be found
among the Ionians, neither we nor those who have left this city to settle
abroad: they have an "ancestral Apollo", [302d] there is, who is the father
of Ion, and a "family Zeus", and a "Zeus guardian of the phratry", and
guardian of the phratry". But the name of "ancestral Zeus" is
unknown to us.
That will do, said Dionysodorus;
you have, it seems, Apollo and Zeus and Athena.
Certainly, I said.
Then these must be your Gods? he
My ancestors, I said, and lords.
Well, at least, you have them, he
said: or have you not admitted they are yours?
I have admitted it, I replied: what
else could I do?
And are not these Gods animals? He
asked: you know you have admitted [302e] that whatever has life is an animal.
Or have these Gods no life?
They have life, I replied.
Then are they not animals?
Yes, animals, I said.
And you admitted that of animals
those are yours which you could give away or sell or offer in sacrifice
to any God, as you pleased?
I have admitted it, I replied; there
is no escape for me, Euthydemus.
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©1999 Roy George