Plato denied Greek inventiveness?
April 20, 2006 6:56 PM   Subscribe

During a recorded history lecture I was listening to recently, the professor mentioned in passing that Plato had said something to the effect that 'the Greeks never invented anything (but perfected what they borrowed)'. Can anyone point me to or quote the actual text in question, if it exists?

My searches brought up nothing, and I though I've read most of Plato at one point or another, I can't remember that being written.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken to Writing & Language (5 answers total)
 
This isn't, I take it, about the sequence with Meno and the idea that all knowledge is recollection? It seems that a consequence of that would be that there is no such thing as invention, but as far as I can remember that scene doesn't talk about perfecting borrowed things at all.
posted by juv3nal at 7:09 PM on April 20, 2006


It's in the pseudo-Platonic Epinomis at 987e.
posted by Bromius at 7:29 PM on April 20, 2006


That does indeed look like it, Bromius, thanks. No real implication there of the Greeks lacking creative invention, though, which is sadly the point on which I wanted to focus.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:37 PM on April 20, 2006


I'd just like to say how deeply impressed I am that Bromius managed to find that recondite reference in 20 minutes. Truly, AskMe is the modern Oracle of Delphi (except less ambiguous).
posted by languagehat at 5:15 AM on April 21, 2006


Also, Timaeus 22b: “O Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always children: there is not such a thing as an old Greek....You are young in soul, every one of you. For therein you possess not a single belief that is ancient and derived from old tradition, nor yet one science that is hoary with age."

It's Critias citing the words of an Egyptian priest, but fits with Plato's conceit in the Timaeus: that his is an ancient metaphysics available to all with sufficient reason (maybe close to the sentiment you're looking for, stavros).

languagehat:
Should I invade Persia? [more inside]
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posted by felix betachat at 7:52 AM on April 21, 2006


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