In book X of his Republic, Plato is talking about the prizes and rewards made out to good men. Once again, I have the gist of the sentence, but I'm a little unsure of a minor detail.

καὶ ἀνθρώπων ἆθλά τε καὶ μισθοὶ καὶ δῶρα γίγνεται πρὸς ἐκείνοις τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς οἷς αὐτὴ παρείχετο ἡ δικαιοσύνη, τοιαῦτ᾽ ἂν εἴη.

And the prizes and rewards and gifts of men are made to those good men whom justice itself produces, such as those that could be (exist?).

(Plat. Rep. 10.614a)

I think the majority of my translation is correct, although please correct me if any parts are wrong. The point of confusion is the phrase τοιαῦτ᾽ ἂν εἴη at the end. I have parsed εἴη as the 3sg pres. act. potential optative of the verb "to be". What's more, I have parsed τοιαῦτ᾽ as the nominative pl neuter of τοιοῦτος, tipped off by the elision which could only occur with an alpha at the end (as it would conflict with the alpha of the following particle). It's not surprising to see a singular verb go with a plural subject, as the subject here is neuter.

First, am I right to assume that the antecedent of τοιαῦτ᾽ is the prizes, rewards and gifts that were talked about in the previous clause? As a neuter subject, I reason that it can't possibly refer to the men (τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς) or justice (ἡ δικαιοσύνη) which are masculine and feminine respectively.

Second, is my translation "such as those that could exist" a good one? It's a little tricky to come up with a good translation for the optative, in this case. I'm a little torn between "be" and "exist", for translating the conjugated verb "to be".

In other words, I think what Plato is saying is that whatever prizes, rewards, and gifts could be offered, will be offered; I feel like this is the point of the final clause, i.e. τοιαῦτ᾽ ἂν εἴη.

  • 1
    Note that what you've quoted is a sentence fragment. The sentence begins (on the previous Stephanus page) ἃ μὲν τοίνυν, ἦν δ᾽ ἐγώ, ζῶντι τῷ δικαίῳ παρὰ θεῶν τε...
    – TKR
    Dec 1, 2017 at 18:36

1 Answer 1

  1. I agree that τοιαῦτ᾽ refers to the prizes for the reasons you cite. Also, if we look at the other guy’s response (is it Glaucon?), he also uses neuter plurals to describe them:

Καὶ μάλ’, ἔφη, καλά τε καὶ βέβαια

Indeed, he said, they are both good and sure

  1. This excerpt comes at the end of a protracted discussion of the rewards a just man receives, from gods and men, which in turn is Socrates’ argument for why justice is worth pursuing. I think this contextualisation may help translate the end bit.

So, if we backtrack to 613a, Socrates says:

Τῷ δὲ θεοφιλεῖ οὐχ ὁμολογήσομεν, ὅσα γε ἀπὸ θεῶν γίγνεται, πάντα γίγνεσθαι ὡς οἷόν τε ἄριστα …

Did we not agree regarding those loved by the gods, that whatever comes from the gods, it is all the best possible …

From this and the intervening discussion, I understand the end of your excerpt, and the optative + ἂν combination, as saying:

would they be such as these [that is to say, the best possible things]

Alternatively, it could be translated as: might they be such as these

  • 1
    Thanks, Penelope! That line in 613a really does clarify the context. I guess you could think of τοιαῦτ᾽ referring to either the prizes in the preceding clause, or even ἄριστα (the best possible things) in 613a. Perhaps it's ambiguous and inconsequential. You've made the general sense of the clause very clear: "would [the prizes] be such as these [the best possible things]". +1
    – ktm5124
    Dec 1, 2017 at 5:47
  • You're welcome, @ktm5124 It was fun to tackle a Greek problem. Nice to see it's back on the menu :)
    – Penelope
    Dec 3, 2017 at 1:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.