The centre of the Cratylus-and almost half its total length-is taken up with an extravagant array of etymologies. Urged on by Hermogenes, Socrates analyzes the names of the gods, of natural phenomena, and of psychological and evaluative concepts-virtually the whole lexicon of contemporary philosophy, religion, ethics and science. For example, ‘Hermes’ is so called because to eirein emêsato, ‘he devised speaking’ (408b1-3). Technê can-admittedly with a lot of phoneme-fiddling-be seen to disclose ‘possession of reason’ [hexis nou] (414b7-c8). And aischron, ‘shameful’, relates to ‘always restricting what flows’ [aei ischon ton rhoun] (416a10-b6); for, according to Socrates, the ancient namegivers believed that things are in flux, and that what flows is good.1