"Interpreters of Interpreters": Is Socrates talking about Poets, or about Literary Analysts?
Socrates: For the rhapsode ought to make himself an interpreter
of the poet's thought to his audience; and to do this properly without knowing
what the poet means is impossible. So one cannot but envy all this.
hermeneus, "an interpreter" (of poets, in this instance, vs. "of foreign tongues") from which comes "hermeneutic" interpretation, and which, itself, comes from Hermes, messenger of the gods, trickster, thief, master-of-crossroads, and soul-guide to the Underworld.
Ion: And indeed it is worth hearing, Socrates,
how well I have embellished Homer; so that I think I deserve to be
crowned with a golden crown by the Homeridae.4
kekosmeka, "have arranged" if masculine (e.g., to set an army in order) or "have adorned or embellished" if female (e.g., to dress a woman).
Ion: Yes, upon my word, Socrates,
I do; for I enjoy listening to you wise men.
Socrates: I only wish you were right there, Ion: but surely it is you rhapsodes and actors, and the men whose poems you chant, who are wise; whereas I speak but the plain truth, as a simple layman might.
sophon, from sophos, skilled in a craft or art, cunning; rhapsodes, stitchers-together of songs; hupokritai, an interpreter, expounder, actor, or hypocrite; talethe, from alethe, unconcealed or true, that which is true and unconcealed.
Ion: Yes, upon my word, I do: for you somehow touch my soul with your
and I believe it is by divine dispensation that good poets interpret to us these
utterances of the gods.
And you rhapsodes, for your part, interpret the utterances of the poets?
Ion: Again your words are true.
Socrates: And so you act as interpreters of interpreters?
Note: the entire Ion in Greek and English is available from Project Perseus. You can click on any word in the Greek text to be taken to a Greek lexicon for its meanings.