The Simonides Episode in Plato’s Protagoras: A modest, methodical reading


  • Καλλιόπη Παπαμανώλη University of Crete



This paper presents an alternative to the mainstream readings of the Simonides episode in Plato’s Protagoras (338e6–348c4): Socrates analyzes the ode of Simonides in a way that is only superficially related, according to the new reading I propose, to sophistical techniques and/or sophistic practices as the latter are depicted by Plato, in this and other works, in contrast with Socratic dialectic; and Socrates does so under no particular pressure from Protagoras in the dialogue, nor under any other circumstantial influence operative for dramatic purposes there.
I argue that, both as a whole and in all important details, the analysis offered by Socrates is a characteristically philosophical one: it is conducted from beginning to end on the basis of unifying principles which retain throughout a clear and distinct methodological character, with only minimal invocation of substantial philosophical positions belonging, e.g., to general metaphysics or to philosophy of action proper. In addition, I also suggest that this analysis is intended as a sample of dialectic that serves the same purposes as the characteristically Socratic dialectic of this and other dialogues, namely the function of teaching by means of elenchus, with only superficial abandonment of the division of labor between the questioner and his respondent.
As a result, on the broad front constituted by issues affecting the vexed question of the overall unity of the Protagoras, this reading settles the unity of the Simonides’ episode, and thus takes a step towards demonstrating the unity of the dialogue as an organic whole. The detailed reading set out in this paper proceeds by a division of the argument into three successive stages: a demonstration that these distinct stages constitute in fact interconnected parts of a single, unified argument, will be the topic of a further paper.

Author Biography

Καλλιόπη Παπαμανώλη, University of Crete

Μεταδιδακτορική ερευνήτρια
Τμήμα Φιλοσοφικών και Κοινωνικών Σπουδών
Φιλοσοφική Σχολή Πανεπιστημίου Κρήτης



How to Cite

Παπαμανώλη Κ. (2020). The Simonides Episode in Plato’s Protagoras: A modest, methodical reading. Ariadne, (25-26), 045–072.