No man undertakes a trade he has not learned, even the meanest; yet everyone thinks himself sufficiently qualified for the hardest of all trades — that of government.

Socrates (c.470-399 BC) Greek philosopher
Paraphrased from Plato, Protagoras, 319b-d

In Henry St. John Bolingbroke, Political Writings (1736). Original Plato passage (tr. Jowett) here (search).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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4 Responses to Paraphrased from Plato, Protagoras, 319b-d

  1. David Newman says:

    This passage appears to be a paraphrase of Plato, not a direct quotation. I found it in “Political Writings” by Henry St. John Bolingbroke, edited by David Armitage, published by Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 197. (See Google Books URL below.) There, Bolingbroke cites a passage from Plato’s “Protagoras” with a footnote (319b-d), and his text includes no quotation marks. The cited text from Plato is too long for me to type here, but you can find the Jowett translation of that passage at http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/protagoras.html : search for the paragraph containing “a noble art”. That’s the paragraph that Bolingbroke cites. He doesn’t use quotation marks, and while I think the conventions on quotation were less strict in Bolingbroke’s day than they are now (this was apparently written in 1736), the fact that he cites Plato and does not use quotation marks suggests to me that this is a paraphrase rather than a quotation. In addition, although Bolingbroke was reading a different translation (Jowett’s was published after Bolingbroke’s book was published), the passage Bolingbroke cites is quite long, and I don’t see anything in it that can be reasonably construed as something that might be an alternate translation of Bolingbroke’s text.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=tmJ6uxHNuzoC&pg=PA197&lpg=PA197&dq=plato+%22sufficiently+qualified%22&source=bl&ots=huL-6E0THV&sig=Cv2BK1GuPIU8uAtGRCnOTT-i458&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result)

  2. *** Dave says:

    Cool, I have update the quote to match the above. Thanks for the research!

  3. David Newman says:

    You may now be the only quotation site that has got this right! Every other site I looked at when I was doing the research had it cited to Plato with no mention of Bolingbroke. And of course, there’s no way I could have done it as easily as I did if Bolingbroke’s book wasn’t available online. So kudos to Google for that.

  4. *** Dave says:

    Google Reader has truly revolutionized the “quotation” biz. Almost every time I find something in there, it provide more info (not to mention context) that isn’t available even as the few quote sites that bother with citation info.
    I will confess to some pride in the amount of time I put into trying to find where these things come from. It may mean I have fewer quotes than some of the bigger sites, but they’re much better sourced than most. If I do say so myself.

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