Socrates and Plato Weren’t as Dull as We Were Taught

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If you’ve ever had to read the Socratic Dialogues by Plato, you might think that those ancient Greek guys were a bunch of stuffy old men. Actually, Socrates was quite earthly, and had a rowdy sense of humor.

An example: in one of the dialogue’s, Socrates says to his students, “We will give birth to an idea, or we will give birth to a wind-egg.”

“Wind-egg? What is that?”, you ask. How can I possibly think giving birth to a wind-egg is funny?

Well, the problem is with the translation. Frequently you’ll come across translations that were done by Benjamin Jowett. Mr. Jowett was undoubtedly a brilliant scholar, which is why his translations are still being used after the passage of 150 years. But he was also a Victorian gentleman, and there are just certain, uh, bodily functions that a proper Victorian gentleman would NOT talk about in public, let alone put down in writing.

Suppose we replaced “wind-egg” with a better word, such as …….. “fart”! Socrates is then saying to his students, “We will give birth to an idea, or we will give birth to a fart.”

MUCH more descriptive, and kind of funny too!

Note:  I must also admit that I last read Plato over thirty years ago! I clearly remember a discussion we had in class over the “wind-egg” statement, but for some bizarre reason reality seems to be separating from my memories as I age. Has someone invented a way to alter the past?