[B-Greek] Plato and righteousness

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Thu May 21 07:17:33 EDT 2009


On May 21, 2009, at 1:35 AM, Emil Salim wrote:

> This is probably off-topic, so I'll be quick. That line is from
> Republic 433a8-9 where Socrates and Glaucon finally came to the
> conclusion that justice is doing one's own and not meddling around
> unnecessarily.
>
> I think DIKAOSUNH in this passage cannot mean "righteousness" like we
> see in Romans 1:16-17 because here it is understood as one of the four
> cardinal virtues among temperance, courage, and wisdom.
>
> TO TA AUTOU PRATTEIN KAI MH POLUPRAGMONEIN DIKAISOUNH ESTIN
>
> "Justice is doing one's own and not meddling [with what is not one's  
> own]."

Emil is right on target here. I do think that Plato's Greek  
phraseology for his own ethical notions presents special difficulties  
to a translator seeking to express them in English. DIKAIOSUNH does  
not, as Emil rightly says, quite mean what "righteousness" means in  
the Biblical sense, but it's not that far off from "righteousness"  
either. It means -- especially in the Republic of Plato -- moral  
integrity, the functioning of all aspects of one's selfhood in harmony  
while each aspect is engaged in its own proper function and not the  
function of some other aspect. This whole conception, which is at the  
very heart of the Republic as a literary dialogue, is not so utterly  
removed from the sort of thinking that governs St. Paul's image in 1  
Cor 12 of the ecclesiastical community as a body whose parts function  
in the right relationship to each other as governed by the Spirit.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

>
> On Wed, May 20, 2009 at 8:28 PM,  <kgraham0938 at comcast.net> wrote:
>> Can anyone here help me translate this verse from Plato?
>>
>> TO TA AUTOU PRATTEIN KAI MH POLUPRAGOMONEIN DIKAISOUNH ESTIN
>>
>> I'm getting something like .....
>>
>> To practice the same and not to interfere that is righteousness.
>>
>> -----------------------
>>
>>
>>
>> Kelton Graham







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