The concluding paragraph to Frank Cole Babbitt’s introductory essay to his Loeb edition of Plutarch’s Moralia:
The statement is not infrequently made in histories of Greek literature that Plutarch is the one Greek author whose work is improved by being translated. Those who make or repeat this statement ought to be condemned to keep company with Sisyphus and the Danaids, and to spend their time in the futile attempt to demonstrate how such a statement can be true.
A breeze from a more civilized time.
Below is the conclusion to Plutarch’s On Listening. The text and translation are from the Loeb edition – Moralia v.1 pg.259 – but I think the translation rather dilutes the point.
Finally, if there be need of any other instruction in regard to listening to a lecture, it is that it is necessary to keep in mind what has here been said, and to cultivate independent thinking along with our learning, so that we may acquire a habit of mind that is not sophistic or bent on acquiring mere information, but one that is deeply ingrained and philosophic, as we may do if we believe that right listening is the beginning of right living.
Εἰ δεῖ τινος οὖν πρὸς ἀκρόασιν ἑτέρου παραγγέλματος, δεῖ καὶ τοῦ νῦν εἰρημένου μνημονεύοντας ἀσκεῖν ἅμα τῇ μαθήσει τὴν εὕρεσιν, ἵνα μὴ σοφιστικὴν ἕξιν μηδ᾿ ἱστορικὴν ἀλλ᾿ ἐνδιάθετον καὶ φιλόσοφον λαμβάνωμεν, ἀρχὴν τοῦ καλῶς βιῶναι τὸ καλῶς ἀκοῦσαι νομίζοντες.
The bolded phrase could get 20+ pages of comparanda and discussion without coming any closer to a satisfying rendering. My sense would be “so that we may acquire a mental disposition oriented not toward hair-splitting or pedantism but focused on our inner selves and in love with true wisdom.” The directive, as I read it, is to avoid the distractions of externally-oriented mental activity – wasting energy on the squabbling style of sophists and the small-minded detail focus of data inquiry – and instead turn inward for more Platonic self-cultivation.
But – because it’s never good to be too sure – here are the relevant LSJ entries (borrowed from Perseus) to offer confounding alternatives.
σοφισ-τικός , ή, όν,
A.of or for a sophist, “βίος” Pl.Phdr.248e; τὸ ς. γένος the class of sophists, Id.Sph.224c; ἡ –κή (sc. τέχνη) sophistry, ib.224d, al.
II. belonging to history, historical
: Subst., historian
, Arist. Po.1451b1
, Aristeas 31
, etc.; “–ώτατος βασιλέων
. Adv. “–κῶς, ἱ. καὶδιδασκαλικῶς
” Str. 1.1.10
; ἱ. καὶ ἐξηγητικῶς
, opp. ἀποδεικτικῶς
K.; but ἐξηγητικώτερον ἢ –ώτερον
, of Aristotle’s method in HA
ἐνδιά-θετος , ον,
A.residing in the mind
(ἐν τῇ διαθέσει
, opp. ἐν τῇ προφορᾷ
), ἐ. λόγος conception, thought
, opp. προφορικὸς λ
. (expression), Stoic.2.43
, etc.; of the immanent
reason of the world, Ph.1.598
; ὁ ἐ. ἄνθρωπος
(s. v. l.).
: hence, unaffected, spontaneous
; τὸ ἐ
A.lover of wisdom
; Pythagoras called himself φιλόσοφος,
; “τὸν φ. σοφίαςφήσομεν ἐπιθυμητὴν εἶναι πάσης
, cf. Isoc.15.271
; “ὁ ὡς ἀληθῶς φ.
sq.; φ. φύσει, τὴν φύσιν, Id.R.376c
; φ. τῇ ψυχῇ,
opp. φιλόπονος τῷσώματι, Isoc.1.40
: used of all men of education and learning,
joined with φιλομαθής
and φιλόλογος, Pl.R.376c
; opp. σοφιστής, X.Cyn.13.6
; later, academician,
of the members of the Museum at Alexandria, OGI712
(ii A. D.), etc.
i. e. one who speculates on truth and reality, οἱ ἀληθινοὶ φ.,
defined as οἱ τῆςἀληθείας φιλοθεάμονες, Pl.R.475e
of Aristotle, Plu.2.115b
; ὁ σκηνικὸςφ.,
of Euripides, Ath.13.561a
; as the butt of Com., Philem.71.1
, Bato 5.11
of arguments, sciences, etc., scientific, philosophic,
; λόγοι –ώτεροι,
; “–ώτερον ποίησις ἱστορίας
; τὸ φ.,
opp. τὸ θυμοειδές,
as an element of the soul, Pl.R.411e
, but = φιλοσοφία