Brygosschilder, Selene in haar wagen, rood-figurige kylix (Volsci), ca. 490
Brygos Painter, Selene in her chariot (ca. 490 B.C.)


[ΣΩΚΡ.] Συχνὰ μέν μοι προστάττεις, ὅμως δέ, εἴπερ σοι κεχαρισμένον ἔσται, ἐθέλω.
[ἙΡΜ.] καὶ μὴν χαριῇ.
[ΣΩΚΡ.] τί δὴ οὖν πρῶτον βούλει; ἢ ὥσπερ εἶπες τὸν ἥλιον διέλθωμεν;
[ἙΡΜ.] πάνυ γε.
[ΣΩΚΡ.] ἔοικε τοίνυν κατάδηλον γενόμενον ἂν μᾶλλον, εἰ τῷ Δωρικῷ τις ὀνόματι χρῷτο· ἅλιον γὰρ καλοῦσιν οἱ Δωριῆς· ἅλιος οὖν εἴη μὲν ἂν κατὰ τὸ ἁλίζειν εἰς ταὐτὸν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐπειδὰν ἀνατείλῃ, εἴη δ’ ἂν καὶ τῷ περὶ τὴν γῆν ἀεὶ εἱλεῖν ἰών, ἐοίκοι δ’ ἂν καὶ ὅτι ποικίλλει ἰὼν τὰ γιγνόμενα ἐκ τῆς γῆς· τὸ δὲ ποικίλλειν καὶ αἰολεῖν ταὐτόν.
[ἙΡΜ.] τί δὲ ἡ σελήνη;
[ΣΩΚΡ.] τοῦτο δὲ τὸ ὄνομα φαίνεται τὸν Ἀναξαγόραν πιέζειν.
[ἙΡΜ.] τί δή;
[ΣΩΚΡ.] ἔοικε δηλοῦντι παλαιότερον ὃ ἐκεῖνος νεωστὶ ἔλεγεν, ὅτι ἡ σελήνη ἀπὸ τοῦ ἡλίου ἔχει τὸ φῶς.
[ἙΡΜ.] πῶς δή;
[ΣΩΚΡ.] τὸ μέν που σέλας καὶ τὸ φῶς ταὐτόν.
ἙΡΜ. ναί.
[ΣΩΚΡ.] νέον δέ που καὶ ἕνον ἀεί ἐστι περὶ τὴν σελήνην τοῦτο τὸ φῶς, εἴπερ ἀληθῆ οἱ Ἀναξαγόρειοι λέγουσιν· κύκλῳ γάρ που ἀεὶ αὐτὴν περιιὼν νέον ἀεὶ ἐπιβάλλει, ἕνον δὲ ὑπάρχει τὸ τοῦ προτέρου μηνός.
ἙΡΜ. πάνυ γε.
[ΣΩΚΡ.] σελαναίαν δέ γε καλοῦσιν αὐτὴν πολλοί.
[ἙΡΜ.] πάνυ γε.
[ΣΩΚΡ.] ὅτι δὲ σέλας νέον καὶ ἕνον ἔχει ἀεί, Σελαενονεοάεια μὲν δικαιότατ᾽ ἂν τῶν ὀνομάτων καλοῖτο, συγκεκροτημένον δὲ σελαναία κέκληται.
[ἙΡΜ.] διθυραμβῶδές γε τοῦτο τοὔνομα, ὦ Σώκρατες. ἀλλὰ τὸν μῆνα καὶ τὰ ἄστρα πῶς λέγεις;
[ΣΩΚΡ.] ὁ μὲν μεὶς ἀπὸ τοῦ μειοῦσθαι εἴη ἂν μείης ὀρθῶς κεκλημένος, τὰ δ’ ἄστρα ἔοικε τῆς ἀστραπῆς ἐπωνυμίαν ἔχειν. ἡ δὲ ἀστραπή, ὅτι τὰ ὦπα ἀναστρέφει, ἀναστρωπὴ ἂν εἴη, νῦν δὲ ἀστραπὴ καλλωπισθεῖσα κέκληται.
[ἙΡΜ.] τί δὲ τὸ πῦρ καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ;
[ΣΩΚΡ.] τὸ πῦρ ἀπορῶ· καὶ κινδυνεύει ἤτοι ἡ τοῦ Εὐθύφρονός με μοῦσα ἐπιλελοιπέναι, ἢ τοῦτό τι παγχάλεπον εἶναι.
(Plato, Cratylus 408e-409d)


[SOCR.] You are imposing a good many tasks upon me; however, if it will give you pleasure, I am willing.
HERM. It will give me pleasure.
[SOCR.] What, then, do you wish first? Shall we discuss the sun (Ἥλιος), as you mentioned it first?
[HERM.] By all means.
[SOCR.] I think it would be clearer if we were to use the Doric form of the name. The Dorians call it Ἅλιος. Now ἅλιος might be derived from collecting (ἁλίζειν) men when he rises, or because he always turns (ἀεὶ εἱλεῖν) about the earth in his course, or because he variegates the products of the earth, for variegate is identical with αἰολεῖν.
[HERM.] And what of the moon, Selene?
[SOCR.] That name appears to put Anaxagoras in an uncomfortable position.
[HERM.] How so?
[SOCR.] Why, it seems to have anticipated by many years the recent doctrine of Anaxagoras, that the moon receives its light from the sun.
[HERM.] How is that?
[SOCR.] Σέλας (gleam) and φῶς (light) are the same thing.
HERM. Yes.
[SOCR.] Now the light is always new and old about the moon, if the Anaxagoreans are right; for they say the sun, in its continuous course about the moon, always sheds new light upon it, and the light of the previous month persists.
[HERM.] Certainly.
[SOCR.] The moon is often called Σελαναία.
[HERM.] Certainly.
[SOCR.] Because it has always a new and old gleam (σέλα νέον τε καὶ ἕνον) the very most fitting name for it would be Σελαενονεοάεια, which has been compressed into Σελαναία.
[HERM.] That is a regular opéra bouffe name, Socrates. But what have you to say of the month (μήν) and the stars?
[SOCR.] The word “month” (μείς) would be properly pronounced μείης, from μειοῦσθαι, “to grow less,” and I think the stars (ἄστερα) get their name from ἀστραπή (lightning). But ἀστραπή, because it turns our eyes upwards (τὰ ὦπα ἀναστρέφει), would be called ἀναστρωπή, which is now pronounced more prettily ἀστραπή.
[HERM.] And what of πῦρ (fire) and ὕδωρ (water)?
[SOCR.] Πῦρ is too much for me. It must be that either the muse of Euthyphro has deserted me or this is a very difficult word.
(tr. Harold North Fowler)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: