Friday, January 19, 2018

1 Rhetoric in the Phaedrus

Phaedrus read Lysias’ speech, Socrates gave his two speeches on love, and the two decided to enquire into the nature of bad and good speaking and writing. Socrates asked: ‘Then does not a good and successful discourse presuppose (Ar’ oun ouch huparchein dei tois eu ge kai kalôs rêthêsomenois) a knowledge in the mind of the speaker of the truth (tên tou legontos dianoian eiduian to alêthes) about his subject (hôn an erein peri mellê̢;)?’ Phaedrus answered: ‘What I have heard is (Houtôsi peri toutou akêkoa) that the intending orator is under no necessity (ouk einai anankên tô̢ mellonti rêtori esesthai) of understanding what is truly just (ta tô̢ onti dikaia manthanein), but only what is likely to be thought just by the body of men who are to give judgement (alla ta doxant’ an plêthei hoiper dikasousi); nor need he know what is truly good or noble (oude ta ontôs dikaia kai kala), but what will be thought so (all’ hosa doxei); because persuasion comes from that and not from the truth (ek gar toutôn einai to peithein all’ ouk ek tês alêtheias). (259e4-260a4, tr. R. Hackforth, except the last clause – 260a3-4 – translated by C. J. Rowe; see the preceding post.)

Phaedrus’ ‘what I have heard’ might suggest just a hearsay that is not to be taken seriously. But Socrates’ ‘Not to be lightly rejected, Phaedrus, is any word of the wise; perhaps they are right: one has to see (“Outoi apoblêton epos” einai dei, ô Phaidre, ho an eipôsi hoi sophoi, alla skopein mê ti legôsi). And in particular this present assertion (kai dê kai to nun lechthen) must not be dismissed (ouk apheteon, 260a5-7; translated by Hackforth)’, although tinged with irony, suggests that it is not just a hearsay; it expresses the main tenet of the contemporary rhetoric.

Socrates lets speak tên tôn logôn technên  – ‘the art of speech’ (Hackforth), ‘the science of speaking’ (Rowe): ‘I never insist on ignorance of the truth on the part of one who would learn to speak (egô gar ouden’ agnoounta t’alêthes anankazô manthanein legein); on the contrary (all’), if my advice goes for anything (ei ti emê sumboulê), it is that he should only resort to me after he has come into possession of truth (ktêsamenon ekeino houtôs eme lambanein); what I do however pride myself on is (tode d’ oun mega legô) that without my aid (hôs aneu emou) knowledge of what is true will get a man no nearer to mastering the art of persuasion (tô̢ ta onta eidoti ouden ti mallon estai peithein technê̢,  260d5-9, tr. Hackforth).’ But Socrates hears ‘certain arguments’ (akouein dokô tinôn logôn) alleging ‘that she is lying (hoti pseudetai), and is not a science (kai ouk esti technê) but an unscientific knack (all atechnos tribê); of speaking (tou de legein), saith the Spartan (phêsin ho Lakôn), a genuine science (etumos technê), without a grasp of truth (aneu tou alêtheias hêphthai) neither exists (out’ estin) nor will come to exist in the future (oute mêpote husteron genêtai, 260e3-7, tr. Rowe)’. He asks the arguments to come and persuade Phaedrus ‘that unless he engages in philosophy sufficiently well (hôs ean mê hikanôs philosophêsê̢) he will never be a sufficiently good speaker either (oude hikanos pote legein estai) about anything (peri oudenos, 261a4-5, tr. Rowe)’. And so ‘the arguments’ ask Phaedrus: ‘Well then, will not the science of rhetoric as a whole be a kind of leading of the soul by means of things said (Ar’ oun ou to men holon hê rêtorikê an eiê technê psuchagôgia tis dia logôn), not only in law-courts (ou monon en dikastêriois) and all other kinds of public gatherings (kai hosoi alloi dêmosioi sullogoi), but in private ones too (alla kai en idiois) – the same science (hê autê, 261a7-9, tr. Rowe) that is concerned with great issues and small (smikrôn te kai megalôn peri), its right employment commanding no more respect when dealing with important matters than with unimportant (kai ouden entimoteron to ge orthon peri spoudaia ê peri phaula gignomenon;)? Is that what you have been told about it (ê pôs su tauta akêkoas; 261a9-b2, tr. Hackforth)?’ Phaedrus answers: ‘No, I must say, not absolutely that (Ou ma ton Di’ ou pantapasin houtôs): a science of speaking and writing is perhaps especially employed in lawsuits (alla malista men pôs peri tas dikas legetai te kai graphetai technê̢), though also in public addresses (legetai de kai peri dêmêgorias); I have not heard of any extension of it beyond that (epi pleon de ouk akêkoa, 261b3-5, tr. Rowe).’

Phaedrus’ answer to ‘the arguments’ indicates that the definition of the science of rhetoric proffered by the arguments is a new definition. But why is this definition given by ‘the arguments’ and not by Socrates himself? I believe that the answer lies in Socrates’ self-professed ignorance: ‘I don’t think I share in any science of speaking’ (ou gar pou egôge technês tinos tou leein metochos, 262d5-6, tr. Rowe)

Christopher Rowe says in the ‘Introduction’ to his edition of the Phaedrus: ‘[Socrates’ two speeches on love] belong to the local deities who inspired him – or to anyone, rather than to him, since he knows nothing (235b [correctly 235c]), and has no share in any ‘science of speaking’ (263d [correctly 262d]). This is a transparent ploy. The speeches are of course his; and they show him to possess just that expertise as a speaker which he disclaims. On the other hand, they do not imply his possession of the sort of expertise which really matters, i.e. about the subjects with which they deal; what is claimed of them is only that they point us – perhaps – in the right direction, not that they are full exposition of the truth. In this sense, Socrates’ disavowal of knowledge stands.’

[At this point I must interrupt, for I cannot see how Christopher Rowe can say that Socrates’ speeches ‘do not imply his possession of the sort of expertise which really matters’ when I think of the definition of the soul as the prime self-moving mover (245c5-246a2) or of the introduction of the theory of Forms residing in the ‘Plain of Truth’ (to alêtheias pedion, 248b6) in Socrates’ second speech.]

Christopher Rowe says further on: ‘The speeches include a large number of central Platonic ideas – the second is almost a roll-call – which are also prominently represented in other dialogues, in a recognizably similar fashion; and what is said about these ideas here in the Phaedrus will then presumably apply equally to the same ideas as they appear elsewhere. In other words, Plato will in part be using the dialogue in order to comment on the nature and value of his own output as a writer.’ (PLATO Phaedrus, Aris & Phillips Classical Texts, second edition, Oxford 1988, pp. 9-10).

I could hardly find a more striking example of the profound difference that separates Rowe’s view of the Phaedrus as one of Plato’s latest dialogues and my view of it as Plato’s first dialogue.

Plato points the reader’s eyes to the Plain of Truth with the words ‘Of that place beyond the heavens (Ton de huperouranion topon) none of our earthly poets has yet sung (oute tis humnêse pô tôn tê̢de poiêtês), and none shall sing worthily (oute pote humnêsei kat’ axian). But this is the manner of it (echei de hôde), for assuredly we must be bold to speak what is true (tolmêteon oun to ge alêthes eipein), above all when our discourse is upon truth (allôs te kai peri alêtheias legonta). It is there that true Being dwells, without colour or shape, that cannot be touched; reason alone, the soul’s pilot, can behold it, and all true knowledge is knowledge thereof (hê gar achrômatos te kai aschêmatistos kai anaphês ousia ontôs ousa, psuchês kubernêtê̢ monô̢ theatê nô̢, peri hên to tês alêthous epistêmês genos, touton echei ton topon).’ (247c3-d1, tr. Hackforth)

I can enjoy with Plato the joy he experiences in presenting his readers for the first time with the sight of the Forms, whereas Christopher Rowe cannot but see the passage as a roll-call, for in his view ‘the Phaedrus is certainly later than the Republic and other middle dialogues like the Phaedo and the Symposium; certainly later than the Timaeus’ (op. cit. p. 14), in which the Forms are prominent. And I can fully appreciate the daring with which Plato presents the Forms as entities ‘to which a god’s nearness makes him truly god’ (pros hoisper theos ôn theios estin, 249c6, tr. Hackforth). Plato could not speak of the Forms like this after Socrates was sentenced to death for introducing new deities; since the Phaedrus was written after Aristophanes’ Frogs but before the Thirty took power, as I have argued, Plato as the author of the Phaedrus was protected against any accusation of impiety by the general amnesty introduced by the democrats after their victory over the Thirty. In the Republic, in which the Forms are presented very boldly in the central books, Plato ‘covers his tracks’ by making the god the creator of the Form of the bed in its last book (597b-c). (Concerning Plato’s ‘covering his tracks’ in Republic X see my posts of August 4, 6, and 13, 2016 devoted to Bertrand Russell on ‘The theory of Ideas’ and Plato’s Republic.)

I do agree with Rowe that Plato’s frequent references to Socrates’ ignorance are ‘a ploy’. Face to face with Aristophanes’ very public invective in the Frogs against Socrates and against himself (as the one who sat by Socrates after having thrown away mousikê) Plato had to defend them both by giving full sway to philosophy as the highest mousikê, to which Socrates inspired him. This he did by expressing his own view of love, of truth, of the Forms through the mouth of Socrates, while paying due respect to Socrates’ philosophic ignorance.

Let me return to the definition of rhetoric as ‘leading of the soul (psuchagôgia) by means of words’ (261a8). What is meant by psuchagôgia, ‘leading of the soul’, is indicated in the following discussion. Socrates asks Phaedrus: ‘Tell me (su d’ eipe), what is it that the opposing parties in the law-courts do (en dikastêriois hoi antidikoi ti drôsin;)? Isn’t it just speaking in opposition to each other (ouk antilegousin mentoi;)? … On the subject of what is just (Peri tou dikaiou te) and unjust (kai adikou;)? … So the man who does this scientifically (Oukoun ho technê̢ touto drôn) will make (poiêsei) the same thing appear to the same people (phanênai to auto tois autois) at one time just (tote men dikaion), but at any time he wishes (hotan de boulêtai), unjust (adikon;)? … And in public addresses (Kai en dêmêgoria̢ dê) [‘to the city’ (tê̢ polei), left out both by Hackforth and by Rowe] he will make the same things appear at one time good (dokein ta auta tote men agatha), at another the opposite (tote d’ au t’anantia;)?’ (261c4-d4, tr. Rowe)

The rhetorician who mastered rhetoric as psuchagôgia ‘leads the soul’ of his audience in whatever direction he wants to. What is new in the definition proffered by ‘the arguments’ is the insistence that rhetoric performs its role not only in the law-courts and public assemblies, but in private discussions too (alla kai en idiois sullogois, 261a9): ‘Then the science of antilogic is not only concerned with law-courts and public addresses (Ouk ara monon peri dikastêria te estin hê antilogikê kai peri dêmêgorias), but (all’), so it seems (hôs eoike), there will be this one science – if indeed it is one – in relation to everything that is said (peri panta ta legomena mia tis technê, eiper estin, hautê an eiê), by which a man will be able (hê̢ tis hoios t’ estai) to make everything which is capable of being made to resemble something else resemble everything which it is capable of being made to resemble (pan panti homoioun tôn dunatôn kai hois dunaton), and to bring it to light when someone else makes one thing resemble another and disguises it (kai allou homoiountos kai apokruptomenou eis phôs agein, 261d10-e4).’ This is Rowe’s translation. Hackforth translates this passage as follows: ‘So contending with words is a practice found not only in lawsuits and public harangues (Ouk ara monon peri dikastêria te estin hê antilogikê kai peri dêmêgorias) but (all’), it seems (hôs eoike), wherever men speak we find this single art, if indeed it is an art (peri panta ta legomena mia tis technê, eiper estin, hautê an eiê), which enables people (hê̢ tis hoios t’ estai) to make out everything to be like everything else , within the limits of possible comparison (pan panti homoioun tôn dunatôn kai hois dunaton), and to expose the corresponding attempts of others who disguise what they are doing (kai allou homoiountos kai apokruptomenou eis phôs agein).’

As Hackforth notes, ‘the Greek is elliptical and difficult’. Phaedrus himself does not understand it. ‘What sort of thing do you mean (Pôs dê to toiouton legeis;),’ he asks. Socrates explains: ‘I think it will be clear to us if we direct our search in this way (Tê̢de dokô zêtousin phaneisthai): does deception come about more in the case of things which are widely different or in those which differ little (apatê poteron en polu diapherousi gignetai mallon ê oligon;)?’ – Phaedrus: ‘In those which differ little (En tois oligon).’ – S.: Now (Alla ge dê) when you are passing over from one thing to its opposite you will be more likely to escape detection if you take small steps than if you take large ones (kata smikron metabainôn mallon lêseis elthôn epi to enantion ê kata mega).’ – P.: ‘Certainly (Pôs d’ ou;).’ – S.: ‘In that case the person who intends to deceive someone else, but be undeceived himself, must have a precise knowledge of the resemblance and the dissimilarity between the things that are (Dei ara ton mellonta apatêsein men allon, auton de mê apatêsesthai, tên homoiotêta tôn ontôn kai anomoiotêta akribôs dieidenai).’ – P.: ‘Necessarily (Anankê men oun).’ – S.: ‘So will he be able (Ê oun hoios te estai), if he is ignorant of the truth of each thing (alêtheian agnoôn hekastou), to identify the resemblance, whether small or great, which the other things have to the things he does not know (tên tou agnooumenou homoiotêta smikran te kai megalên en tois allois diagignôskein;)?’ – P.: ‘Impossible (Adunaton).’ – S.: Then clearly those who hold beliefs contrary to what is the case and are deceived have this kind of thing creeping in on them through certain resemblances (Oukoun tois para ta onta doxazousi kai apatômenois dêlon hôs to pathos touto di’ homoiotêtôn tinôn eiserruê).’ – P.: ‘It does happen that way (Gignetai g’oun houtôs).’ – S.: ‘So is there any way in which a man will be expert at making others cross over a little by little from what is the case on each occasion, via the resemblances (Estin oun hopôs technikos estai metabibazein kata smikron dia tôn homoiotêtôn apo tou ontos hekastote), leading them away towards the opposite (epi t’ounantion apagôn), or at escaping this himself (ê autos touto diapheugein), if he has not recognised (ho mê egnôrikôs) what each thing that is actually is (ho estin hekaston tôn ontôn;)?’ – P.: ‘No, never (Ou mê pote).’ – S.: ‘In that case, my friend, anyone who does not know the truth, but has made it his business to hunt down appearances, will give us a science of speech which is, so it seems, ridiculously unscientific (Logôn ara technên, ô hetaire, ho tên alêtheian mê eidôs, doxas de tethêreukôs, geloian tina, hôs eoike, kai atechnon parexetai).’ (261e5-262c3, tr. Rowe)

As I was reading and typing this, Plato’s Apology came to my mind in which Socrates defines the excellence of a rhetorician (rêtoros aretên) as speaking the truth (t’alêthê legein, 18a5-6). Rhetorician’s excellence conceived as speaking the truth is completely missing in the introductory discussion of rhetoric in the Phaedrus. True, the rhetorician must know the truth about the things of which he is to speak, if he is to proceed scientifically (technê̢), but he must know the truth not in order to convey it to his audience, but in order to be able to persuade the audience that something else is the truth, something that only resembles it – if this is what he wants to do: ‘So the man who does this scientifically will make the same thing appear to the same people at one time just, but at any time he wishes, unjust, and in public addresses, he will make the same things appear to the city (tê̢ polei) at one time good, at another the opposite (261c10-d4).’ I cannot see how Plato could have propounded this concept of scientific rhetoric at any time of his life except in the days in which his desire to become engaged in politics was the strongest, which were the days that followed the naval battle of Arginousae, the last great battle that the Athenians won by efforts that rekindled the best aspects of the Athenian democracy (cf. Seventh Letter 324b 8-325a5).


In the Athenian democracy politicians could achieve their political goals only by their rhetoric. The inseparability of politics from rhetoric dominates Plato’s discussion of rhetoric in the Phaedrus

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The purpose of Plato’s Phaedrus

Hackforth says in the ‘Introduction’ to his translation of the Phaedrus that ‘it is not obvious, at a first reading, what its subject and purpose are, whether they are two or more, and if so how they are connected. Scholars, ancient and modern alike, have been puzzled on the point; Hermeias has a section of some length, before his commentary proper begins, on the doxai tou skopou [‘opinions concerning its aim’; skopos – ‘mark or object on which one fixes his eye’ LSJ]: some, he tells us, say it is Love, some Rhetoric, some the Good, some the prôton kalon [‘the first beautiful’, i.e. Beauty, the Form of beauty].’

Hackforth must be saying his ‘at a first reading’ with tongue-in-cheek, for he goes on to say that modern scholars ‘necessarily agree with and differ from each other in an infinite variety of combinations’ on this, and that he will state his own view ‘somewhat dogmatically, trusting to the commentary which follows to confirm it. I think it is helpful to ask for the purpose rather than the subject, and I believe there are three purposes, all important but one more important than others. They are: (1) To vindicate the pursuit of philosophy, in the meaning given to that word by Socrates and Plato, as the true culture of the soul (psuchês thearapeia), by contrast with the false claims of contemporary rhetoric to provide that culture. This I regard as the most important purpose.’ (Plato’s Phaedrus, Cambridge 1972, pp. 8-9)

I cannot find the concept of psuchês thearapeia in the Phaedrus. The verbal forms thearapeuein, therapeuesthai and therapeuthênai tên psuchên come to the fore in the Charmides (157a-b). Socrates maintains there that Charmides’ headaches can be properly treated only if one treats the soul prior to the head.

Equally, I cannot find Plato mentioning, let alone discussing ‘the false claims of contemporary rhetoric to provide that culture [of the soul]’ in the Phaedrus.

Phaedrus characterizes the claims of contemporary rhetoric as follows: ‘What I have heard is (Houtôsi peri toutou akêkoa) that the intending orator is under no necessity (ouk einai anankên tô̢ mellonti rêtori esesthai) of understanding what is truly just (ta tô̢ onti dikaia manthanein), but only what is likely to be thought just by the body of men who are to give judgement (alla ta doxant’ an plêthei hoiper dikasousi); nor need he know what is truly good or noble (oude ta ontôs dikaia kai kala), but what will be thought so (all’ hosa doxei); since it is on the latter, not the former, that persuasion depends (ek gar toutôn einai to peithein all’ ouk ek tês alêtheias).’ (259e7-260a4, tr. Hackforth)

Hackforth’s translation of the last phrase is misleading. C. J. Rowe translates correctly: ‘because persuasion comes from that and not from the truth’. Rhetoric is all about persuasion, even Plato’s proposal of rhetoric founded on dialectic is all about persuasion. The point he makes against the leading exponents of contemporary rhetoric is that one can aim at persuasion with confidence only if one knows the truth.

Hackforth’s second purpose is as follows: ‘(2) To make proposals for a reformed rhetoric, which should subserve the ends of philosophy and adopt its method.’

Pace Hackforth, I can’t see Plato in the Phaedrus making proposals for a reformed rhetoric ‘to subserve the ends of philosophy’. Plato proposes a reformed rhetoric founded on the knowledge of truth and thus capable of properly serving the city. The discussion that follows Phaedrus’ characterization of contemporary rhetoric is to the purpose.

Socrates: ‘Suppose I tried to persuade you (Ei se peithoimi egô) to acquire a horse to use in battle against the enemy (polemious amunein ktêsamenon hippon), and suppose that neither of us knew what a horse was (amphô de hippon agnooimen), but I knew this much about you (tosonde mentoi tunchanoimi eidôs peri sou), that Phaedrus believes a horse to be (hoti Phaidros hippon hêgeitai) that tame animal (to tôn hêmerôn zô̢ôn) which possesses the largest ears (megista echon ôta).’ – Phaedrus: ‘A ridiculous thing to suppose, Socrates (Geloion g’ an, ô Sôkrates, eiê).’ – S.: ‘Wait a moment (Oupô ge): suppose I continued to urge upon you in all seriousness (all’ hote dê spoudê̢ se peithoimi), with a studied encomium (suntitheis logon epainon) of a donkey (kata tou onou), that it was what I called it, a horse (hippon eponomazôn kai legôn): that it was highly important for you to possess the creature, both at home (hôs pantos axion to thremma oikoi te kektêsthai) and in the field (kai epi stratias): that it was just the animal to ride on in the battle (apopolemein te chrêsimon), and that it was handy, into the bargain, for carrying your equipment and so forth (kai pros g’ enenkein dunaton skeuê kai alla polla ôphelimon).’ – P.: ‘To go to that length would be utterly ridiculous (Pangeloion g’ an êdê eiê).’ – S. ‘Well, isn’t it better to be a ridiculous friend (ar’ oun ou kreitton geloion kai philon) than a clever enemy (ê deinon kai echthron;)?’ – P.: ‘I suppose it is (Phainetai).’ – S.: ’Then when a master of oratory (Hotan oun ho rêtorikos), who is ignorant (agnoôn) of good (agathon) and evil (kai kakon), employs his power of persuasion on a community as ignorant as himself (labôn polin hôsautôs echousan peithê̢), not by extolling a miserable donkey as being really a horse (mê peri onou skias hôs hippou ton epainon poioumenos), but by extolling evil as being really good (alla peri kakou hôs agathou): and when by studying the beliefs of the masses (doxas de plêthous memeletêkôs) he persuades them to do evil (peisê̢ kaka prattein) instead of good (ant’ agathôn), what kind of crop do you think his oratory is likely to reap from  the seed thus sown (poion tin’ an oiei meta tauta tên rêtorikên karpon hôn espeire therizein;)?’ – P.: ‘A pretty poor one (Ou panu ge epieikê).’

Plato refrains from giving any examples of rhetoricians persuading the masses to do evil extolling it as good, but on the dating of the Phaedrus prior to the Charmides two disasters caused by oratory come to mind:

1) The illegal condemnation to death of generals who participated in the victorious battle of Arginousae and did not recover the shipwrecked; they were prevented from doing so by a severe storm (see Xenophon Hellenica I.vii.4 ff.). This incident must have been prominent on Plato’s mind, for Socrates was the only one of the Prytanes who opposed the illegality, as he mentions it in his Defence speech: ‘I gave my vote against you (enantia epsêphisamên); and when the orators threatened to impeach and arrest me (kai hetoimôn ontôn endeiknunai me kai apagein tôn rêtorôn), and you called (kai humôn keleuontôn) and shouted (kai boôntôn), I made up my mind that I would run the risk, having law and justice with me (meta tou nomou kai tou dikaiou ô̢mên mallon me dein diakinduneuein), rather than take part in your injustice (ê meth’ humôn genesthai mê dikaia bouleuomenôn) because I feared imprisonment (phobêthenta desmon) and death (ê thanaton, Pl. Apology 32b6c3, tr. B. Jowett).’

2) After the battle of Arginousae the Sparta wanted to make peace with Athens but through the intervention of Cleophon’s rhetorical trickery the offer was rejected (see Aristotle, Athênaiôn Politeia 34,1). To this disastrous intervention of Cleophon the Chorus of the Frogs alludes in its closing song, celebrating Aeschylus’ return to Athens from the underworld:

‘First (Prôta men), as the poet triumphant is passing away to the light, grant him success on his journey (euodian agathên apionti poiêtê̢ es phaos ornumenô̢ dote), yea powers that are ruling below (daimones hoi kata gaias). Grant that he find for the city good counsels to guide her aright (tê̢ te polei megalôn agathôn agathas epinoias); so we at last shall be freed from the anguish, the fear, and the woe, freed from the onset of war (panchu gar ek megalôn acheôn pausaimeth’ an houtôs argaleôn t’ en hoplois xunodôn). Let Cleophon now and his band battle, if battle they must, far away in their own fatherland (Kleophôn de machesthô k’allos ho boulomenos toutôn patriois en arourais, 1528-33, translation Rogers).’ (As Rogers points out, Cleophon’s mother was from Thrace.)

Rogers says that to ‘the condemnation of the victorious generals, and the execution of the six who ventured within the reach of the democracy, Aristophanes makes but one, and that a very faint and obscure, allusion. Aeschylus is considering whether it is right to predicate of Oedipus that he was ever deserving of the epithet eudaimôn [‘happy’, ‘blessed’, ‘of good fortune’]; and running through the various calamities of his life, he comes at last to the statement, he blinded himself, whereupon Dionysus at once cuts in with the remark –eudaimôn ar’ ên, ei k’astratêgêsen ge met’ Erasinidou [Rogers translates: ‘Happy indeed had he been Erasinides’ colleague!], meaning, I suppose, that had Oedipus been a colleague of Erasinides [one of the six executed generals] in the stratêgia [as a general], his blindness would have been a piece of good fortune. For then he would not have gone to the great battle, and so would not have fallen a victim to the machinations of Theramenes and the madness of people.’ (Rogers, op. cit., ‘Introduction’ pp. xiii-xiv)

The allusion may appear ‘very faint and obscure’ to the modern reader, but Aristophanes’ audience was well tuned to understand it, for Erasinides was the first general to be charged and imprisoned (Xenophon, Hellenica, and Dionysus’ viewing Oedipus’ blinding himself as a good fortune in comparison to the imprisoned and executed generals indicates the epic proportions of that tragedy. But I believe that there is another, hidden ‘allusion’ to that tragic event, in the song with which the Chorus of the Frogs celebrates Aeschylus’ victory and his return to Athens to save the city.

Aeschylus won the contest with Euripides because of his good thinking (eu phronein dokêsas), which showed him capable of bringing good to the citizens of Athens (ep’ agathô̢ men tois politais). His return from Hades to the city of Athens thus liberates one from ‘sitting around Socrates in vain talk, having thrown away mousikê’ (charien oun mê Sôkratei parakathêmenon lalein apobalonta mousikên, 1491-3) This invective against Socrates in fact testifies to Aristophanes’ high esteem of him. I believe that it was Socrates’ protest at the illegality of the sentencing of the generals that earned him the high respect that the Chorus thus grudgingly expresses.

Yet, the Chorus does not fail to characterize the ‘idle talk’ in which a man sitting around Socrates was engaged as that of the man who had lost his mind (paraphronountos andros, 1495-9). Plato could not but see himself thus inveighed together with Socrates; in response to Aristophanes’ attack he in the Phaedrus, in the Palinode on love, showed that ‘sitting by Socrates’ did not mean abandoning mousikê, but was conducive to its cultivation.


Concerning Hackforth’s third purpose I have no criticism: ‘(3) To announce a special method of philosophy – the “dialectic” method of Collection and Division – and to exemplify this both positively (in the two speeches of Socrates) and negatively (in the speech of Lysias).’ (Loc. cit.)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

3 Plato’s Phaedrus in the light of the dating of his Charmides, with reference to his Phaedo, and to Aristophanes’ Frogs and Clouds

Full of admiration for Aeschylus ascending to Athens to save the city, the Chorus of the Frogs sang: ‘Right it is and befitting (Charien oun), not (mê), by Socrates sitting, idle talk to pursue (Sôkratei parakathêmenon lalein) … fine-drawn quibbles to seek, fine-set phrases to speak (to d’epi semnoisi logoisi kai skariphêsmoisi lêrôn diatribên argon poieisthai), is but the part of a fool (paraphronountos andros).’ (1482-99, tr. B. B. Rogers)

Rogers comments: ‘This perpetual talking which surrounded Socrates is in truth the adoleschia of which the comic poets speak (Clouds 1480; Eupolis Fragm. Inc. 10), and to which Plato makes such a pathetic reference in the fourteenth chapter of the Phaedo.’ Both Rogers’ references, to Aristophanes’ Clouds and to Plato’s Phaedo, are worth considering, for Plato’s presentation of adoleschia in the Phaedrus deserves to be viewed in their light.

The scene in the Clouds to which Rogers refers is the closing scene of the play. To explain it, I must say a few words about its background. Strepsiades, a simple farmer who married a female from aristocratic circles, got into debts because of the aristocratic leanings of his son Pheidippides. He wanted to send his son to Socrates’ Thinkery (Phrontistêrion, 94) to learn rhetoric, so that Pheidippides might defend him against his creditors at the courts. But Pheidippides knows all about Socrates and Chairephon and those around them, and flatly refuses to go to them: ‘I know, those miserable wretches’ (aiboi ponêroi g’, oida, 102). Strepsiades himself therefore goes to Socrates to be taught by him, but after several attempts to teach him, Socrates throws him out for his stupidity (789-90). Strepsiades therefore sends there his son, in spite of his unwillingness and objections. When Pheidippides accomplished his course of learning, Strepsiades brought him home and prepared for him a welcoming feast (1211-12).

After this, Strepsiades runs out of his house to complain to his neighbours about the beating he received from his son. He narrates: ‘I asked him to narrate me something from Aeschylus (ekeleus’ auton tôn Aischulou lexai ti moi), and he said immediately: “I consider Aeschylus to be the first among the poets (egô gar Aischulon nomizô prôton en poiêtais – [spoken with a heavy Socratic irony] – full of bombast (psophou pleôn), full of contradictions (axustaton), a ranter (stomphaka) using big and rugged words (krêmnopoion, 1366-7)”.’ However much he was vexed at his son’s verdict on Aeschylus, Strepsiades asked him: ‘“But tell me something of those new things (su d’ alla toutôn lexon ti tôn neôterôn), those that are full of wisdom (hatt’ esti ta sopha tauta),” and he immediately sang (ho d’ euthus ê̢s’) some speech from Euripides (Euripidou rêsin tin’) about a brother sleeping (hôs ekinei adelphos), o god keeping off ill and mischief (ôlexikake), with his half-sister (tên homomêtrian adelphên, 1369-1372).’ This was too much for Strepsiades; he began to chastise his son with harsh words, and his son gave him a beating.

In the closing scene, Strepsiades prays to Hermes to forgive him ‘that I was chasing away gods because of Socrates (hot’ exeballon tous theous dia Sôkratê, 1477) … I was deranged by idle talk’ (emou paranoêsantos adoleschia̢, 1480).’ He asks Hermes for advice whether he should prosecute Socrates and his acolytes [charging them with impiety]: ‘You advise me correctly (orthôs paraineis) not allowing me to stitch up lawsuits (ouk eôn dikorraphein), but to set on fire the house of those idle babblers as quickly as possible (all’ hôs tachist’ empimpranai tên oikian tôn adoleschôn, 1483-4).

Let us now see Plato’s ‘pathetic reference’ to adoleschia in the Phaedo. Pace Rogers, I find it apposite. Let us see it in context. Socrates’ friends assembled in prison to spend with Socrates his last hours, and Socrates appeared a happy man to them (eudaimôn anêr ephaineto, 58e3). So much so that Simmias reproached him for taking so lightly his leaving them and the gods, who, as he himself admits, are good rulers (63a). Socrates defends himself: ‘It is reasonable for me not to take it hard or be resentful at leaving you and my masters here (eikotôs humas te apoleipôn kai tous enthade despotas ou chalepôs pherô oud’ aganaktô), since I believe that there [in Hades, in after-life] also (hêgoumenos k’akei), no less than here (ouden hêtton ê enthade), I shall find good masters (despotais te agathois enteuxesthai) and companions (kai hetairois, 69d8-e2).’ Since Socrates in his defence spoke much about the good life of the soul liberated from the body with all its evils, Kebes says to him: ‘What you say about the soul is the subject of much disbelief (ta de peri psuchês pollên apistian parechei tois anthrôpois): men fear that when it’s been separated from the body (mê, epeidan apallagê̢ tou sômatos), it may no longer exist anywhere (oudamou eti ê̢, 70a1-2) … True (epei), if it did exist somewhere, gathered together alone by itself (eiper eiê pou autê kath’ hautên sunêthroismenê), and separated from all the evils (kai apêllagmenê toutôn tôn kakôn) you were recounting just now (hôn su nundê diêlthes), there’d be plenty of hope (pollê an eiê elpis, 70a6-8) … but on just this point (alla touto dê), perhaps (isôs), one needs no little reassuring (ouk oligês paramuthias deitai) and convincing (kai pisteôs), that when the man has died, his soul exists (hôs esti te psuchê apothanontos tou anthrôpou), and that it possesses some power (kai tina dunamin echei) and wisdom (kai phronêsin, 70b1-4).’ – Socrates: ‘That’s true (Alêthê legeis), but then what are we to do (alla ti dê poiômen;)? Would you like us to converse on these very questions (ê peri autôn toutôn boulei diamuthologômen), and see whether this is likely to be the case or not (eite eikos houtôs echein eite mê;)?’ – Cebes: ‘For my part anyway (Egô g’oun) I’d gladly hear (hêdeôs an akousaimi) whatever opinion you have about them (hêntina doxan echeis peri autôn).’ – Socrates: ‘Well, I really don’t think anyone listening now, even if he were a comic poet, would say that I’m talking idly (Oukoun g’ an oimai eipein tina nun akousanta, oud’ ei kômô̢dopoios eiê, hôs adoleschô), and arguing about things that don’t concern me (kai ou peri prosêkontôn tous logous poioumai). If you agree, then (ei oun dokei), we should look into the matter (chrê diaskopeisthai).’ (70b5-c3, translation D. Gallop, with one alteration. He translates diamuthologômen (in line 70b6) ‘to speculate’, I translate it ‘to converse’; I do so following his note 15: ‘diamuthologein … need mean no more than “converse”, as at Apology 39e5.’)

Bent on defending Socrates against Aristophanes’ derogation of him, Plato in the Phaedrus presents adoleschia very differently, giving it a prominent place in his outline of the philosophic rhetoric.

Socrates: ‘I am inclined to think (Kinduneuei), my good friend (ô ariste), that it was not surprising (eikotôs) that Pericles became the most finished exponent of rhetoric (ho Periklês pantôn teleôtatos eis tên rêtortikên genesthai).’ – Phaedrus: ‘Why so (Ti dê;)?’ – Socrates: ‘All the great arts (Pasai hosai megalai tôn technôn) need supplementing (prosdeontai) by a study of Nature: your artist must cultivate garrulity and high-flown speculation (adoleschias kai meteôrologias phuseôs peri); from that source alone can come the mental elevation and thoroughly finished execution of which you are thinking (to gar hupsêlonoun touto kai pantê̢ telesiourgon eoiken enteuthen pothen eisienai); and that is what Pericles acquired to supplement his inborn capacity (ho kai Periklês pros tô̢ euphuês einai ektêsato). He came across the right sort of man, I fancy, in Anaxagoras (prospesôn gar oimai toioutô̢ onti Anaxagora̢), and by enriching himself with high speculation (meteôrologias emplêstheis) and coming to recognise the nature of wisdom and folly (kai epi phusin nou te kai anoias aphikomenos) – on which topics of course Anaxagoras was always discoursing (hôn dê peri ton polun logon epoieito Anaxagoras) – he drew from that source and applied to the art of rhetoric (enteuthen heilkusen epi tên tôn logôn technên) what was suitable thereto (to prosphoron autê̢).’ (269e1-270a8, translation by R. Hackforth)

The Phaedo is a late dialogue (see my post on ‘The dating of Plato’s Phaedo of April 3, 2017), and the remark Socrates makes in it concerning adoleschia can be viewed as a correction of the depiction of it in the Phaedrus. It is hardly an accidental correction, for in the Phaedrus the notion of adoleschia is linked to the picture of Anaxagoras, of whom Socrates speaks very differently in the Phaedo. Speaking of his philosophical beginnings, Socrates says in the latter: ‘One day I heard someone reading from a book he said was by Anaxagoras (akousas men pote ek bibliou tinos, hôs ephê, Anaxagorou anagignôskontos), according to which it is, in fact, Intelligence that orders and is the reason for everything (kai legontos hôs ara nous estin ho diakosmôn te kai pantôn aitios, 97b8-c2) … I made all haste to get hold of the books and read them as quickly as I could (panu spoudê̢ labôn tas biblous hôs tachista hoios t’ ê anegignôskon, 98b4-5) … as I went on with my reading (proïôn kai anagignôskôn), I beheld a man (horô andra) making no use of his Intelligence at all (tô̢ men nô̢ ouden chrômenon), nor finding in it any reasons (oude tinas aitias epaitiômenon) for the ordering of things (eis to diakosmein ta pragmata), but imputing them to such things as air and aether and water and many other absurdities (aeras de kai aitheras kai hudata aitiômenon kai alla polla kai atopa, 98b8-c2).

In fact, when I see that Plato’s Anaxagoras in the Phaedrus ‘arrived at the nature of mind and the absence of mind (epi phusin nou te kai anoias aphikomenos) … which were the very subjects about which Anaxagoras used to talk so much (hôn dê peri ton polun logon epoieito Anaxagoras, C. J. Rowe’s translation)’, and compare it with what Socrates says in the Phaedo – ‘as I went on with my reading (proïôn kai anagignôskôn), I beheld a man (horô andra) making no use of mind at all (tô̢ men nô̢ ouden chrômenon)’ – I suspect that when Plato wrote the Phaedrus he hadn’t yet read Anaxagoras’ books.

Let me end this post by noting that the exalted picture of Pericles, which Plato presents in the Phaedrus, chimes with Aristophanes’ oblique reference to him in the Frogs. For it is the advice that echoes the counsel of Pericles thanks to which Aeschylus returns to Athens as its saviour: ‘When they shall count the enemy’s soil their own (tên gên hotan nomisôsi tên tôn polemiôn einai spheteran), and theirs the enemy’s (tên de spheteran tôn polemiôn): when they know that ships are their true wealth (poron de tas naus), their so called wealth delusion (aporian de ton poron).’ (1463-5, translation by Rogers). Rogers notes: ‘It is, as the Scholiast observes, the counsel which was given by Pericles at the commencement of the war (Thucydides i. 140-144). “What if the enemy ravages Attica? So long as Athens is mistress of the sea, the whole world will be open to her fleet.”’ – In the wake of the great naval victory of Arginousae the thoughts of those who hoped that Athenian democracy could renew itself and be saved turned to Pericles as a man worth emulating; in this spirit Aristophanes alludes to him in the Frogs and Plato speaks of him in the Phaedrus.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

With Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations in a hospital waiting room

I went today to the Gloucester Hospital to undergo colonoscopy. I expected a long waiting time. I took with me G. E. Moore’s Principia Ethica, which I have not read, and Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, which I read once upon a time in Prague in preparation for Roger Scruton’s lecture on Wittgenstein (it took place in my philosophy seminar in Prague on 26 September 1979). In the waiting room, waiting for my colonoscopy, I took Wittgenstein in my hands, and I managed to open it on page 124, paragraph 412, which caught my eye, for it is marked on the margin by red pen with a squiggly line. I must have expressed my unease with it in the discussion.

I found myself as unhappy with it today, in the waiting room, as almost forty years ago in Prague. Wittgenstein says:

‘The feeling of an unbridgeable gulf between consciousness and brain-process: how does it come about that this does not come into the considerations of our ordinary life? This idea of a difference in kind is accompanied by slight giddiness – which occurs when we are performing a piece of logical sleight-of-hand. When does this feeling occur in the present case? It is when I, for example, turn my attention in a particular way on to my own consciousness, and astonished, say to myself: THIS is supposed to be produced by a process in the brain! – as it were clutching my forehead. – But what can it mean to speak of “turning my attention on to my own consciousness”? This is surely the queerest thing there could be! It was a particular act of gazing that I called doing this. I stared fixedly in front of me – but not at any particular point or object. My eyes were wide open, the brows not contracted (as they mostly are when I am interested in a particular object). No such interest preceded this gazing. My glance was vacant; or again like that of someone admiring the illumination of the sky and drinking in light.
Now bear in mind that the proposition which I uttered as a paradox (THIS is produced by a brain-process!) has nothing paradoxical about it. I could have said it in the course of an experiment whose purpose was to shew that an effect of light which I see is produced by stimulation of a particular part of the brain. – But I did not utter the sentence in the surroundings in which it would have had an everyday and unparadoxical sense. And my attention was not such as would have accorded with making an experiment. (If it had been, my look would have been intent, not vacant.)”

Wittgenstein solved the problem of consciousness: There is no gap between brain and consciousness. For everybody would agree ‘that an effect of light which I see is produced by stimulation of a particular part of the brain’

I cannot agree with Wittgenstein on this. ‘Stimulation of a particular part of my brain’ mediates ‘an effect of light which I see’, it does not produce it. There is nothing in the brain that can produce light which I see. In the brain there are neural activities on the basis of which I can see light. So there must be something else – may I call it ‘mind’, or ‘soul’, or ‘spiritual nature’ – something radically different from the brain, which on the basis of the visual brain centre produces light which I see. For I see it, this is an undisputable fact, and the data of neurophysiology tell me, that there is nothing in the brain that can produce it. Yet without the mediaing activities of the visual brain centre I could not see light.

Light is obviously not a good example, for Wittgenstein and his followers did not see and do not see any problem with their claim that their visual brain centre produces light they see. So let me take a different example. I am typing all this on my computer. The computer screen has a rectangular shape, the keyboard has a rectangular shape, as all the keys do. In the visual brain centre all these rectangular forms must be coded and processed, but there is no place in the brain in which these rectangular forms can be produced, let alone perceived. In the brain there must be neural activities – the electrical currents and chemical transmitters by means of which the neurons convey the sensory stimuli to the brain centres where they are coded and processed, again by bio-chemico-electrical neural activities – which accompany every movement of my hands as I type, but these neural activities proceed completely differently in time and are completely differently structured in space  from that of which I am conscious as I move my fingers when typing, as I follow these movements with my eyes, as I check what I type on the screen ... Since what I am conscious of as I am typing is the primary data, and I accept what neurophysiology tells me about my sensory organs and about the brain, I cannot but conjecture that there must be a part of me of which I am not conscious, which transforms the brain activities, of which I am not conscious, into the activities (of my typing etc.) of which I am conscious.

Let me end my comments on Wittgenstein by attempting to answer his introductory question: ‘The feeling of an unbridgeable gulf between consciousness and brain-process: how does it come about that this does not come into the considerations of our ordinary life?

In our ordinary life we take the computer in front of me, my typing, my sitting in front of it, simply as being there, just as I see and perceive it all. How could I live my ordinary life if I were to think all the time of the neurophysiological data that tell me that all this – in so far as I see it, experience it – is mediated by the brain, and as such happens ‘inside my head’? I say ‘inside my head’ for the X transforms the activities that proceed in the brain into what I see in front of me, and so it must be ‘reading’ all those neural activities that take place in my brain which is inside my head. It is therefore reasonable to think of this X as located in the same space as the brain. To do so, it must be different from the brain, yet it must be intimately linked to it, so as to be in constant contact with its activities.

Let me end this blog by some ruminations I was having in the waiting room of the Gloucester Hospital while waiting for my colonoscopy. In 1978, almost forty years ago, I invited Oxford dons to my philosophy seminar. Barbara Day gives prominent space to Roger Scruton’s visit to my seminar in The Velvet Philosophers:

‘For his lecture to Tomin’s seminar, he spoke on Wittgenstein’s private language argument. He remembers that there were about 25 people present … After the seminar, from 6.00 till 9.00 p.m., Scruton and the Tomins went to a restaurant; the next day he met Tomáš and Lenka on the quiet, wooded Shooters’ Island in the Vltava. As he talked to them he … wondered how much opportunity they had to express their own ideas; the seminars were dominated by Tomin, and the young students were overshadowed by his powerful personality … he also thought how much more effective they could be if the teaching were freed from the influence of personality.’ (The Claridge Press, 1999, p. 45)

The students in Prague were freed from the influence of the personality. It was the Czech secret police that did the dirty work. But who or what is it nowadays that prevents the Oxford University and the Philosophy Institute of the Philosophy Faculty at Charles University in Prague from allowing me, let alone inviting me, to present to their students and academics a lecture on ‘Human spiritual nature and the X of neurophysiologists’ or on ‘Self-knowledge as an imperative’ (the texts are on my website), or a lecture on Plato?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2 Plato’s Phaedrus in the light of the dating of his Charmides, with reference to his Phaedo, to Aristophanes’ Frogs and to Aristotle’s Metaphysics

In Aristophanes’ Frogs, instead of Euripides, Dionysus brings out from Hades Aeschylus, for only he can save the city in its time of peril. Pluto, the Lord of the underworld invites Dionysus to a parting festivity and the Chorus sings in praise of Aeschylus:

‘Blest the man (Makarios g’ anêr) who possesses (echôn) a keen intelligent mind (xunesin êkribômenên). This full often we find (para de polloisi mathein). He, the bard of renown (hode gar eu phronein dokêsas 'of renown for his good/right thinking'), now to earth reascends (palin apeisi oikad’ au), goes, a joy to his town (ep’ agathô̢ men tois politais 'to bring good/benefit to the citizens'), goes, a joy to his friends (ep’ agathô̢ de tois heautou xungenesi kai philoisi 'to bring good ...'), just because he possesses a keen intelligent mind (dia to sunetos einai).

Right it is and befitting (Charien oun), not (mê), by Socrates sitting, idle talk to pursue (Sôkratei parakathêmenon lalein), stripping tragedy-art of all things noble and true (apobalonta mousikên, ta te megista tês tragô̢ dikês technês). Surely the mind to school fine-drawn quibbles to seek, fine-set phrases to speak (to d’epi semnoisi logoisi kai skariphêsmoisi lêrôn diatribên argon poieisthai), is but the part of a fool (paraphronountos andros).’ (1482-99, tr. B. B. Rogers)

Rogers leaves untranslated apobalonta mousikên, which means ‘having thrown away mousikê’. Chorus’ Charien oun mê Sôkratei parakathêmenon lalein apobalonta mousikên means ‘It is gratifying not to chat sitting by Socrates, having thrown away mousikê’. The circumstancial participial clause apobalonta mousikên indicates the condition under which ‘to chat sitting by Socrates’ had been taking place.

In pointing to Rogers’ omission, I have left untranslated mousikê, for with reference to Socrates it is misleading to translate it as ‘art’. In the Phaedo Socrates says: ‘Often in my past life the same dream had visited me (pollakis moi phoitôn to auto enupnion en tô̢ proelthonti biô̢), now in one guise, now in another (allot’ en allê opsei phainomenon), but always saying the same thing (to auto de legon): “Socrates (Ô Sôkrates),” it said (ephê), “make art (mousikên poiei) and practise it (kai ergazou).” Now in earlier times I used to assume that the dream was urging and telling me to do exactly what I was doing (kai egô en ge tô̢ prosthen chronô̢ hoper epratton touto hupelambanon auto moi parakeleuesthai te kai epikeleuein) (60e4-61a1) … to make art (mousikên poiein), since philosophy is a very high artform (hôs philosophias men ousês megistês mousikês ‘since philosophy is the greatest mousikê‘), and that was what I was making (emou de touto prattontos). But now that the trial was over (nun d’ epeidê hê te dikê egeneto) and the festival of the god was preventing my death (kai hê te tou theou heortê diekôlue me apothnê̢skein), I thought that in case it was art in the popular sense that the dream was commanding me to make, I ought not to disobey it (edoxe chrênai, ei ara pollakis moi prostattoi to enupnion tautên tên dêmôdê mousikên poiein, mê apeithênai autô̢), but should make it (alla poiein); as it was safer (asphalesteron gar einai) not to go off (mê apienai) before I’d fulfilled a sacred duty (prin aphosiôsasthai), by making verses (poiêsanta poiêmata) and thus obeying the dream (pithomenon tô̢ enupniô̢).’ (61a3-b1, translation D. Gallop)

If we view the Phaedrus as Plato’s first dialog written prior to the Charmides, as proposed, we can’t help seeing it as Plato’s response to Aristophanes’ invective, with which the chorus in the Frogs assails Socrates and his friends. In my preceding post I quoted Rogers as saying that the Frogs was greatly admired: ‘the victorious poet was crowned in the full theatre with the usual wreath of Bacchic ivy. But it achieved a far higher success than this. It enjoyed the, apparently, unique distinction of being acted a second time, as we should say, by request; and at this second representation the poet was again crowned, not now with mere leaves of ivy, but a wreath made from Athene’s sacred olive, an honour reserved for citizens who were deemed to have rendered important services to Athene’s city.’

Plato was in his early (if born in 427 B. C.) or mid-twenties (if born in 429 B. C.) when the Frogs were staged. How could he have left Aristophanes’ invective unanswered?

Diogenes Laertius in his ‘Life of Plato’ says that when Plato (III.6) ‘was about to compete for the prize with a tragedy (mellôn agônieisthai tragôdia̢), he listened to Socrates in front of the theatre of Dionysus (pro tou Dionusiakou theatrou Sôkratous akousas), and then consigned his poems to the flames (katephlexe ta poiêmata), with the words (eipôn) “Come hither, O fire-god (Hêphaiste, promol’ hôde), Plato has now need of thee (Platôn nun ti seio chatizei)”  From that time onward (tounteuthen dê), having reached his twentieth year (gegonôs eikosi etê), he was the pupil of Socrates (diêkouse Sôkratous III.5-6).’ R. D. Hicks in his edition of Diogenes notes that ‘Aelian (V.H. ii. 30) has pro tôn Dionusiôn “before the festival of Dionysius”’ instead of Diogenes’ “in front of the theatre of Dionysus”. These two variations do not exclude each other, for it could have happened “in front of the theatre of Dionysus” in the time “before the festival of Dionysius”. The festival of Dionysus took place in Lenaea, the month corresponding to our January-February. One can well imagine that people made a fire in front of the theatre to keep warm, and Plato threw his tragedies into the flames. I believe that Aristophanes’ ‘having thrown away mousikê’ (apobalonta mousikên) authenticates Diogenes’/Aelian’s story.

To properly understand this event, we must go to Aristotle’s explanation of how Plato conceived the Forms. For he says that before his philosophic encounter with Socrates Plato adhered to Heraclitean doctrines according to which ‘the whole sensible world is always in a state of flux (hôs hapantôn tôn aisthêtôn aei reontôn) and there is no knowledge about it (kai epistêmês peri autôn ouk ousês, 987a33-4).’ [The term epistêmê for ‘knowledge’ is here of fundamental importance, for it involves the minds’ ‘standing at’ (epi-histêmi) the object that does not change.] When Plato then encountered Socrates ‘who as the first brought his mind to stand-still on definitions (peri horismôn epistêsantos prôtou tên dianoian), having accepted him (ekeinon apodexamenos), because of it (dia to toiouton) he assumed (hupelaben) that this concerned different entities (hôs peri heterôn touto gignomenon) and not the things perceived by senses (kai ou tôn aisthêtôn, 987b3-6) … and these entities he called Forms (ta men toiauta tôn ontôn ideas prosêgoreuse, 987b7-8).’ – Plato conceived the Forms under the impact of his first philosophic encounter with Socrates.

Chorus of the Frogs accused Socrates and ‘those sitting by him’ (Sôkratei parakathêmenous, 1491-2) of ‘engaging in idle amusement’ (diatribên argon poieisthai, 1498). Plato in the Phaedrus answers this invective at the turning point of the dialogue, when Socrates and Phaedrus decide to discuss the art of writing with reference to the three speeches on love presented in the first part (Lysias’ speech read by Phaedrus, and two speeches presented by Socrates).

Socrates: ‘Then what is the nature (Tis oun ho tropos) of good writing and bad (tou kalôs te kai mê graphein;)? Is it incumbent on us (deometha ti), Phaedrus (ô Phaidre), to examine Lysias on this point (Lusian te peri toutôn exetasai), and all such as have written or mean to write anything at all (kai allon hostis pôpote ti gegraphen ê grapsei), whether in the field of public affairs (eite politikon sungramma) or private (eite idiôtikon), whether in the verse of the poet (en metrô̢ hôs poiêtês) or the plain speech of prose (ê aneu metrou hôs idiôtês;)?’ – Phaedrus: ‘Is it incumbent (Erôta̢s ei deometha;)! Why, life itself would hardly be worth living save for pleasures like this (tinos men oun heneka k’an tis hôs eipein zô̢ê, all’ ê tôn toioutôn hêdonôn heneka;): certainly not for those pleasures that involve previous pain (ou gar pou ekeinôn ge hôn prolupêthênai dei ê mêde hêsthênai), as do almost all concerned with the body (ho dê oligou pasai hai peri to sôma hêdonai echousi), which for that reason are rightly called slavish (dio kai dikaiôs andrapodôdeis keklêntai).’ – Socrates: ‘Well, I suppose we can spare the time (Scholê men dê, hôs eoike); and I think too that the cicadas overhead, singing after their wont in the hot sun (kai hama moi dokousin hôs en tô̢ pnigei huper kephalês hêmôn hoi tettiges a̢dontes) and conversing with one another (kai allêlois dialegomenoi), don’t fail to observe us as well (kathoran kai hêmas). So if they were to see us two (ei oun idoien kai nô) behaving like ordinary folk (kathaper tous pollous) at midday (en mesêmbria̢), not conversing (mê dialegomenous) but dozing (alla nustazontas) lazy-minded under their spell (kai kêloumenous huph’ hautôn di argian tês dianoias), they would very properly have the laugh of us (dikaiôs an katagelô̢en), taking us for a pair of slaves that had invaded their retreat (hêgoumenoi andrapod’ atta sphisin elthonta eis to katagôgion) like sheep (hôsper probatia), to have their midday sleep beside the spring (mesêmbriazonta peri tên krênên heudein). If however they see us conversing (ean de horôsi dialegomenous) and steering clear of their bewitching siren-song (kai parapleontas sphas hôsper Seirênas akêlêtous), they might feel respect for us and grant us that boon which heaven permits them to confer upon mortals (ho geras para theôn echousin anthrôpois didonai, tach’ an doien agasthentes).’ – Phaedrus: ‘Oh, what is that (Echousi de dê ti touto;)? I don’t think I have heard of it (anêkoos gar, hôs eoike, tunchanô ôn).’ (258d7-259b4)

Before I give Socrates’ answer, I think it proper to remark that the chorus of the cicadas in the Phaedrus functions as a counterpart to the chorus of the Frogs in the Frogs. Plato wants his Phaedrus to be seen as a response to Aristophanes’ play. In the preceding post I reproduced the introductory scene of the Phaedrus in which Socrates admires ‘the shrill summery music (therinon te kai liguron hupêchei) of the cicada-choir (tô̢ tôn tettigôn chorô̢, 230c2-3)’.

I’ve proposed to see Socrates’ emphasis on the importance of engaging one’s mind and keeping it active in earnest discussion and investigation, quoted above, as an answer to Aristophanes’ invective that he and his followers engaged in ‘idle amusement’. Socrates’ answer to Phaedrus’ question concerning the story about the cicadas confirms the conjecture. For Aristophanes’ invective against Socrates and his friends for their addiction to ‘idle amusement’ was to give substance to their ‘having thrown away mousikê’. Socrates in his myth of the cicadas presents philosophy as the greatest mousikê. Those who have conversations ‘sitting by him’ are not ‘idly amusing themselves’. Far from ‘throwing away mousikê they are practicing the greatest mousikê.

Socrates: ‘Surely it is unbecoming in a devotee of the Muses (Ou men dê prepei ge philomouson andra) not to have heard of a thing like that (tôn toioutôn anêkoon einai)! The story is (legetai d’) that once upon a time these creatures were men (hôs pot’ êsan houtoi anthrôpoi) – men of an age before there were any Muses (tôn prin Mousas gegonenai): and that when the latter came into the world (genomenôn de Mousôn), and music made its appearance (kai phaneisê̢s ô̢dês), some of the people of those days were so thrilled (houtôs ara tines tôn tote exeplagêsan) with pleasure (huph’ hêdonês) that they went on singing (hôste a̢dontes), and quite forgot to eat (êmelêsan sitôn te) and drink (kai potôn) until they actually died without noticing it (kai elathon teleutêsantes hautous). From them (ex hôn) in due course sprang the race of cicadas (to tettigôn genos met’ ekeino phuetai), to which the Muses have granted the boon (geras touto para Mousôn labon) of needing no sustenance right from their birth (mêden trophês deisthai genomenon), but singing from the very first, without food or drink (all’ asiton te kai apoton euthus a̢dein), until the day of their death (heôs an teleutêsê̢): after which they go and report to the Muses (kai meta tauta elthon para Mousas apangellein) how they severally are paid honour amongst mankind, and by whom (tis tina autôn tima̢ tôn enthade). So for those whom they report as having honoured Terpsichore in the dance they win that Muse’s favour (Terpsichora̢ men oun tous en tois chorois tetimêkotas autên apangellontes poiousi prosphilesterous); for those that have worshipped in the rites of love the favour of Erato (tê̢ de Eratoi tous en tois erôtikois); and so with all the others (kai tais allais houtôs), according to the nature of the worship paid to each (kata to eidos hekastês timês). To the eldest (Tê̢ de presbutatê̢), Calliope (Kalliopê̢), and to her next sister (kai tê̢ met’ autên) Urania (Ourania̢), they tell of those who live a life of philosophy and so do honour to the music of those twain (tous en philosophia̢ diagontas te kai timôntas tên ekeinôn mousikên angellousin) whose theme is the heavens and all the story of gods and men (hai dê malista tôn Mousôn peri te ouranon kai logous ousai theious te kai anthrôpinous), and whose song is the noblest of them all (hiasin kallistên phônên).’ (259b5-d7, passages from the Phaedrus are translated by R. Hackforth) 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

1 Plato’s Phaedrus in the light of the dating of his Charmides, with reference to his Seventh Letter and to Aristophanes’ Frogs

In June and July of this year I devoted eleven posts to ‘Plato’s Charmides in the light of its dating’. Now I intend to view Plato’s Phaedrus in the light of the dating of the Charmides. Let me begin by restating my dating of the latter. I am dating the Charmides in the early days of the Thirty, which Xenophon characterises as follows: ‘Now at Athens the Thirty had been chosen as soon as the long walls and the walls around Piraeus were demolished … as a first step, they arrested and brought to trial for their lives those persons who, by common knowledge, had made a living in the time of democracy by acting as informers and had been offensive to the aristocrats; and the Senate was glad to pronounce these people guilty, and the rest of the citizens – at least all who were conscious that they were not of the same sort themselves – were not at all displeased.’ (Hellenica II.iii.11-12, tr. C. L. Brownson)

Socrates’ interlocutors in the Charmides are well known historical figures: Chaerephon, Critias, and Charmides. Charmides and Critias took an active part in the aristocratic revolution that took place after the dissolution of democracy with which the military defeat of Athens ended. This regime deteriorated in a few months into tyranny under Critias’ leadership and became known as the rule of the Thirty Tyrants. In the Charmides, Chaerephon, an ardent democrat, is on the best terms with Critias and is presented as a great admirer of Charmides. Chaerephon went into exile when the aristocratic regime began to show its true nature (cf. Apology 20e-21a); I therefore date the Charmides in 404, before Chaerephon went to exile.

My main reason for this dating of the Charmides is provided by its closing scene, in which Charmides decides to be instructed by Socrates in the virtue of sôphrosunê (temperance/self-control), and Critias not only commends him for this decision, but commands him to be an assiduous follower of Socrates. In response, Charmides says to him: ‘Rest assured that I will follow him and won’t desert him. I’d be behaving terribly if I didn’t obey you, my guardian, and didn’t do what you tell me.’ – Critias: ‘I’m telling you.’ – Charmides: ‘Well then, I’ll do it, beginning this very day.’ – Socrates: ‘What are you two plotting to do?’ – Charmides: ‘Nothing, we’ve done our plotting.’ – Socrates: ‘Are you going to use violence, without even giving me a preliminary hearing?’ – Charmides: ‘Yes, I shall use violence, since Critias here orders me to – which is why you should consider what you’ll do.’ – Socrates: ‘But there’s no time left for consideration. Once you’re intent on doing something and are resorting to violence, no man alive will be able to resist you.’ – Charmides: ‘Well then, don’t you resist me either.’ – Socrates: ‘I won’t resist you then.’ (175e2-176d5)

I cannot see how Plato could have closed the Charmides in this manner after the Thirty attempted to implicate Socrates in their crimes, of which Socrates said at his trial: ‘when the oligarchy of the Thirty was in power, they sent for me and four others into the rotunda, and bade us bring Leon the Salaminian from Salamis, as they wanted to put him to death … when we came out of the rotunda the other four went to Salamis and fetched Leon, but I went quietly home. For which I might have lost my life, had not the power of the Thirty shortly afterwards come to an end.’ (Plato, Apology 32c4-d8, tr. B. Jowett) In his old age, in the Seventh Letter, Plato pointed to this incident as the decisive moment after which he became indignant and withdrew himself ‘from the evils of those days’ (apo tôn tote kakôn, 325a4-5)’.

Diogenes Laertius writes in his ‘Life of Plato’: ‘There is a story that the Phaedrus was his first dialogue’ (logos de prôton auton grapsai ton Phaidron, III. 38). There are mistakes and conflicting indications in Diogenes Laertius – thus at III.2 he gives 427 B.C. and at III.3 the year 429 B. C. as the date of Plato’s birth – and it would be wrong to accept the ancient story that the Phaedrus was Plato’s first dialogue simply because Diogenes refers to it. But it would be equally wrong to reject the story without asking a question: what would Plato and his work look like if we viewed the Phaedrus as his first dialogue.

The dating of the Charmides in the early days of the Thirty simplifies the task with which the ancient story confronts us; we have to enquire, what does the Phaedrus look like if we view it as written before the Charmides. If the experiment fails, then we can discard the ancient story with good conscience. If it succeeds, then we must see what does the Charmides look like, if we view it as a dialogue that follows the Phaedrus, and then we must ask the same question concerning Plato’s other dialogues.

If the Phaedrus was written prior to the Charmides, it must have been written in the closing stages of the Peloponnesian war. We can infer from Plato’s Seventh Letter that those were the days in which Plato’s desire to get involved in politics was most ardent (324b8-c1). For when the Thirty took power, they invited Plato ‘at once to join their administration, thinking it would be congenial’ (kai dê kai parekaloun euthus hôs epi prosêkonta pragmata me, 324d2-3), but although Plato hoped that they ‘would lead the city out of an unjust way of life into a just way’ (ek tinos adikou biou epi diakaion tropon agontas, 324d4-5), he says that he waited and watched what they would do: ‘And indeed I saw (kai horôn dêpou) how these men within a short time (tous andras en chronô̢ oligô̢) caused men to look back on the former government as a golden age (chruson apodeixantas tên emprosthen politeian, 324d6-8, translation R. G. Bury)’.

Plato’s Phaedrus is full of hope and optimism. Most of its second part is devoted to the project of philosophic rhetoric. In democracy all political activity relied on persuading the demos, ‘the people’, and its main tool was rhetoric. If Plato wrote the Phaedrus prior to the Charmides, he wrote or began to write it in the atmosphere of a renewed hope that democracy might be mended, which was marked by the victorious battle of Arginusae, and was reflected in and promoted by Aristophanes’ Frogs.

B. B. Rogers writes in the ‘Introduction’ to his edition of the Frogs: ‘The comedy of the Frogs was produced during the Lenaean festival, at the commencement of the year B. C. 405 … about six months after the great naval victory of Arginusae … the result of an almost unexampled effort on the part of the Athenian people. Conon, their most brilliant officer, had been defeated at Mytilene, and was closely blockaded there. One trireme managed to run the blockade, and bring news of his peril to Athens. The Athenians received the intelligence in a spirit worthy of their best traditions. All classes at once responded to the call with hearty and contagious enthusiasm. In thirty days a fleet of 110 triremes, fully equipped and manned, was able to put to sea. The knights had emulated the devotion of their forefathers (as recorded in the parabasis of the comedy which bears their name [i.e. Aristophanes’ Knights produced in B. C. 424]), and volunteered for service on the unaccustomed element. The very slaves had been induced to join by the promise of freedom and, what was more than freedom, the privileges of Athenian citizenship … These exertions were rewarded by a victory which, if it was the last, was also the most considerable of all that were gained by the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War.’ (The Frogs of Aristophanes, the Greek text revised by B. B. Rogers, second edition, London 1919, pp. v-ix.)

Concering the play, Rogers writes: ‘It carried off the prize at the Lenaean contest … and the victorious poet was crowned in the full theatre with the usual wreath of Bacchic ivy. But it achieved a far higher success than this. It enjoyed the, apparently, unique distinction of being acted a second time, as we should say, by request; and at this second representation the poet was again crowned, not now with mere leaves of ivy, but a wreath made from Athene’s sacred olive, an honour reserved for citizens who were deemed to have rendered important services to Athene’s city. It was not for its wit and humour that these exceptional honours were accorded to the play; nor yet for what to modern readers constitutes its pre-eminent attraction, the literary contest between Aeschylus and Euripides. It was for the lofty strain of patriotism which breathed through all its political allusions, and was especially felt in the advice tendered, obviously with some misgivings as to the spirit in which the audience would receive it, in the epirrhema of the parabasis. There the poet appeals to the Athenian people to forego all party animosities, to forget and forgive all political offences, to place the state on a broader basis, to leave no Athenian disfranchised. More particularly, he pleads for those who having been implicated in the establishment of the Council of Four Hundred [replacing democracy by oligarchy] had ever since been deprived of all civic rights … we are told on the authority of Dicaearchus, a writer of the very greatest weight on such matters, that it was this very appeal which won the admiration of the public, and obtained for the play the honour of a second representation.’ (pp. v-vii)

It is in the spirit of Aristophanes’ parabasis in the Frogs that Plato’s choice of Phaedrus as Socrates’ interlocutor in the Phaedrus should be seen. Aristophanes pleaded that the civic rights should be restored to those who were deprived of their citizenship. Phaedrus was exiled in 415; by choosing him as Socrates’ interlocutor Plato implicitly raised the question of the exiles whose return and reintegration into the life of the city he undoubtedly viewed as imperative. This could happen only if Athens negotiated peace with Sparta. The scene Plato chose for the Phaedrus – the scene of which he and his readers could only dream ever since Spartans occupied the fort of Decelea on Attic soil in 413 B.C. – breathes the desire for peace. For Plato takes Socrates and Phaedrus outside the city walls, and it is there that the dialogue takes place. Let me end this post with the opening scene of the Phaedrus.

Socrates: ‘Where do you come from, Phaedrus my friend, and where are you going?’ (Ô phile Phaidre, poi dê kai pothen;) – Phaedrus: ‘I’ve been with Lysias (Para Lusiou), Socrates (ô Sôkrates), the son of Cephalus (tou Kephalou), and I’m off for a walk (poreuomai de pros peripaton) outside the wall (exô teichous), after a long morning’s sitting there (suchnon gar ekei dietripsa chronon kathêmenos ex heôthinou). On the instruction of our common friend (tô̢ de sô̢ kai emô̢ hetairô̢ peithomenos) Acumenus (Akoumenô̢) I take my walks on the open roads (kata tas hodous poioumai tous peripatous); he tells me that is more invigorating (phêsi gar akopôterous einai) than walking in the colonnades (tôn en tois dromois).’ (227a1-b1, translation of the passages from the Phaedrus by R. Hackforth)

Phaedrus is going to read to Socrates the speech with which Lysias had been entertaining his audience that morning: ‘Well (alla), where would you like us to sit for our reading (pou dê boulei kathizomenoi anagnômen)?’ – Socrates: ‘Let us turn off here (Deur’ ektrapomenoi) and walk along the Ilissus (kata ton Ilisson iômen); then (eita) we can sit down in any quiet spot you choose (hopou an doxê̢ en hêsuchia̢ kathizêsometha).’ – P.: ‘It’s convenient, isn’t it, that I chance to be bare-footed (Eis kairon, hôs eoiken, anupodêtos ôn etuchon): you of course are always so (su men gar dê aei). There will be no trouble in wading in the stream (ra̢ston oun hêmin kata to hudation brechousi tous podas ienai), which is especially delightful at this hour of a summer’s day (kai ouk aêdes, allôs te kai tênde tên hôran tou etous te kai tês hêmeras). – S.: ‘Lead on then (Proage dê), and look out (kai skopei hama) for a place to sit down (hopou kathizêsometha).’ – P.: ‘You see (Hora̢s oun) that plane-tree over there (ekeinên tên hupsêlotatên platanon;)? – S.: ‘To be sure (Ti mên;).’ – P.: ‘There’s some shade (Ekei skia t’ estin), and a little breeze (kai pneuma metrion), and grass to sit down on (kai poa kathizesthai), or lie down if we like (ê an boulômetha kataklinênai).’ – S.: ‘Then make for it (Proagois an) (228e4-229b3) … By the way (atar, ô hetaire, metaxu tôn logôn), isn’t this the tree (ar’ ou tode ên to dendron) we were making for (eph’ hoper êges hêmas;)? – P.: ‘Yes, that’s the one (Touto men oun auto).’ – S.: ‘Upon my word (Nê tên Hêran), a delightful resting-place (kalê ge hê katagôgê), with this tall, spreading plane (hê te gar platanos hautê mal' amphilaphês te kai hupsêlê), and a lovely shade from the high branches of the agnus (tou te agnou to hupsos kai to suskion pankalon): now that it’s in full flower (kai hôs akmên echei tês anthês), it will make the place ever so fragrant (hôs an euôdestaton parechoi ton topon). And what a lovely stream under the plane-tree, and how cool to the feet (hê te au pêgê chariestatê hupo tês platanou rei mala psuchrou hudatos, hôste ge tô̢ podi tekmêrasthai)! Judging by the statuettes and images I should say it’s consecrated to Achelous and some of the Nymphs (Numphôn te tinôn kai Achelôou hieron apo tôn korôn te kai agalmatôn eoiken einai). And then too (ei d’ au boulei), isn’t the freshness of the air (to eupnoun tou topou) most welcome (hôs agapêton) and pleasant (kai sphodra hêdu): and the shrill summery music (therinon te kai liguron hupêchei) of the cicada-choir (tô̢ tôn tettigôn chorô̢)! And as crowning delight the grass (pantôn de kompsotaton to tês poas), thick enough on a gentle slope to rest your head on most comfortably (hoti en êrema prosantei hikanê pephuke kataklinenti tên kephalên pankalôs echein).’ (230a6-c5)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Platonův Faidros ve světle datování jeho Charmidu

Závěrečný rozhovor mezi Charmidem a Sokratem v Charmidu nasvědčuje tomu, že tento dialog byl napsán v prvních týdnech Aristokratického převratu, jímž se vláda dostala do rukou Třiceti mužů s neomezenou vrchní mocí, od níž si Platon sliboval, že obec budou spravovat tak, že ji „povedou od jakéhosi nespravedlivého života k spravedlivému jednání“ (ek tinos atikou biou epi dikaion tropon agontas, Sedmý dopis 324d4-5). Protože tento závěrečný rozhovor má mimořádný význam nejen pro datování Charmidu, ale i pro datování Faidru, vytknu zde z něho to nejdůležitější.

Poté, co Sokrates v Charmidu uzavřel své zkoumání sôphrosunê (rozumnosti, uměřenosti) nářkem nad svou neschopností tuto zdatnost správně určit, Charmides Sokratovu sebekritiku odmítá, a rozhoduje se, že se Sokratem v této zdatnosti nechá vzdělávat. Kritias mu toto rozhodnutí nejen že schvaluje, ale přikazuje mu, aby se Sokrata nepouštěl. Když se Sokrates ptá, o čem se to spolu radí, Charmides odpovídá, že se již uradili. Tu se Sokrates otáže: „Užiješ tedy násilí?“ – Charmides: „Buď jist, že užiji násilí, když tento zde přikazuje; vzhledem k tomu zase ty uvažuj, co uděláš.“ – Sokrates: „Žádná nezbývá úvaha; neboť tobě, když by ses pokoušel něco udělat a užíval násilí, nikdo na světě nebude s to odporovat.“ – Charmides: „Tedy neodporuj ani ty!“ – Sokrates: „Nebudu tedy odporovat.“ (176c7-d5, řeklad pasáží z Charmidu a z Faidru F. Novotný)

V rámci dramatického datování se tento rozhovor odehrál bezmála třicet let před sepsáním Charmidu. Tu si mladičký Charmides dobře uvědomil, že Sokrata hluboce zaujal, a v tom nejlepším smyslu slova z toho těží, Sokratovi poroučí, a s hravostí mu hrozí násilím, kdyby ho neuposlechnul. A Sokrates si od něho nechává poroučet, tak jako si nechává mnoho líbit od mladého a krásného Menona v Menonu. Jako takovým, Platon mohl tímto rozhovorem dialog ukončit před tím, než se vláda Třiceti pod vedením Kritia zvrhla v bezuzdnou tyranidu. Jak by však Platon byl mohl tímto rozhovorem ukončit Charmides poté, co vláda Třiceti tyranů Sokratovi přikázala, aby spolu se čtyřmi dalšími zatknul Leonta Salaminského a přivedl ho na smrt, poté, co Sokrates toho příkazu neuposlechl, čímž se sám vystavil nebezpečí smrti, kterému unikl jen proto, že „ta vláda brzo padla“ (hê archê dia tacheôs kateluthê), jak Platon zdůrazňuje v Obraně Sokrata (32c8) i v Sedmém dopisu (324d-325a).

Napsal-li tedy Platon Charmides v počáteční fázi vlády Třiceti, tak jak ji koncipoval a zpočátku za souhlasu značné části občanů vedl Theramenes, tu je ve světle tohoto datování třeba zvážit starověkou životopisnou tradici, podle níž Platonovým prvním dialogem byl Faidros.

V životopise Platona Diogena Laertského je mnoho chybných údajů a bylo by nesprávné Faidros považovat za první na podkladě Diogenova „existuje podání (logos de), že nejprve napsal Faidros (prôton auton grapsai ton Phaidron, III.38)“ Stejně nesprávné však je toto starověké datování Faidru odmítnout, aniž bychom si položili otázku, jak by tento dialog, dialogy s ním myšlenkově spojené, a celý platonský korpus vypadal, kdybychom Faidros nahlédli jako Platonův první dialog.

Datování Charmidu jako dialogu napsaného a vydaného v první fázi vlády Třiceti, tedy v roce 404 př.n.l., nás staví před úkol podívat se na tyto dva dialogy za předpokladu, že Platon napsal Faidros před Charmidem. V tomto příspěvku se soustředím na motiv lékařství, který oba tyto dialogy spojuje.

Ve Faidru se motiv lékařství ohlašuje hned na začátku. Sokrates otevírá dialog slovy: „Milý Faidre (Ô phile Phaidre), kampak (poi dê) a odkud (kai pothen)?“ Faidros odpovídá: „Od Lysia (Para Lusiou), Sokrate (ô Sôkrates), syna Kefalova (tou Kephalou), a jdu na procházku na cestu za hradbami (poreuomai de pros peripaton exô teichous); neboť jsem tam byl velmi dlouho (suchnon gar ekei dietripsa chronon), seděl jsem tam od rána (kathêmenos ex heôthinou). Poslouchám totiž tvého i mého přítele Akumena (tô̢ de sô̢ kai emô̢ hetairô̢ peithomenos Akoumenô̢) a konám procházky po cestách (kata tas hodous poioumai tous peripatous); on totiž říká (phêsi gar), že jsou méně únavné (akopôterous einai) než procházky na závodišti (tôn en tois dromois).“ [Novotný poznamenává: „Akumenos byl známý lékař, otec lékaře Eryximacha, uvedeného v Symposiu.“]

V druhé části Faidru, která je věnovaná dialektice a rétorice, Platon probírá existující pokusy o rétoriku, a jejich nedostatečnost nahlíží ve světle lékařství, uznávané vědecké disciplíny (technê).

Faidros poukazuje na věci „které jsou v knihách napsaných o řečnickém umění“ (ta g‘ en tois bibliois tois peri logôn technês gegrammenois, 266d5-6) a Sokrates ty věci přivádí na světlo: „Úvod“ (prooimion), „vypravování“ (diêgêsin), „svědectví“ (marturias), „důkazy“ (tekmêria), „pravděpodobnosti“ (eikota), „dotvrzování“ (pistôsin), „přídavek k dotvrzování“ (epipistôsin), „vyvracení“ (elenchon) a „přídavek k vyvracení“ (epexelenchon), které lze najít u Theodora Byzantského (266d7-267a2); „skryté projevování“ (hupodêlôsin), „nepřímé chvály“ (parepainous) i „nepřímé hany“ (parapsogous) vynalezené Euenem z Paru (267a2-5); pak připomíná Teisia a Gorgia: „Ti uviděli, že více než pravdy jest si vážiti pravděpodobnosti (hoi pro tôn alêthôn ta eikota eidon hôs timêtea mallon), dále pak způsobují silou řeči, že se malé věci jeví velikými a veliké malými (ta te au smikra megala kai ta megala smikra phainesthai poiousi dia rômên logou), a nové věci představují starým způsobem (kaina te archaiôs) a opačné novým (ta t’enantia kainôs); také vynalezli ve výkladu o všech věcech i stručnost řečí i nesmírné délky (suntomian te logôn kai apeira mêkê peri pantôn anêuron, 267a6-b2).“ Dále uvádí Polovo „zdvojování“ (diplasiologian), „sloh průpovědní“ (gnômologian) a „sloh obrazný“ (eikonologian), Protagorovu „správnost jazyka“ (orthoepeia) (267b10-c6), a neopomene Thrasymacha z Chalcedonu, „který svým uměním ovládl žalné řeči, které vláčí ke stáří a chudobě (tôn ge mên oiktrogoôn epi gêras kai penian helkomenôn logôn kekratékenai technê̢); … ten muž zároveň dovede množství rozjitřiti (orgisai te au pollous hama deinos hanêr gegonen), a zase rozjitřené kouzelnými slovy tišiti (kai palin ôrgismenois epa̢dôn kêlein), jak sám pravil (hôs ephê); také nejpůsobivěji umí osočovati, i osočování, ať to je kdekoli, vyvrátit (diaballein te kai apolusasthai diabolas hothendê kratistos). A dále, co se týče konce řeči (to de dê telos tôn logôn), podobá se, že všichni společně mají totéž mínění (koinê̢ pasin eoike sundedogmenon einai); jedni mu říkají ‚závěr‘, jiné mu dávají jiné jméno (hô̢ tines epanodon, alloi d‘ allo tithentai onoma).“ – Faidros: „Myslíš způsob uvésti na konci posluchačům na paměť všechny jednotlivé myšlenky o předmětu řeči (To en kephalaiô̢ hekasta legeis hupomnêsai epi teleutês tous akouontas peri tôn eirêmenôn;)?“ – Sokrates: „Ano, to myslím (Tauta legô), a máš-li ty ještě něco jiného říci o řečnickém umění (kai ei ti su allo echeis eipein logôn technês peri).“ – Faidros: „Jen maličkosti (Smikra ge), které nestojí za řeč (kai ouk axia legein).“ (267c7-d9)

Po tomto přehledu technických vymožeností vynalezených předními učiteli rétoriky Sokrates navrhuje: „Maličkosti nechme být (Eômen ta ge smikra); ale raději se podívejme při světle na tyto věci (tauta de hup‘ augas mallon idômen), jaký (tina) a kdy (kai pot‘) mají umělecký význam (echei tên tês technês dunamin).“ – Faidros: „Ba velmi silný (kai mala errômenên), Sokrate (ô Sôkrates), jistě aspoň ve shromážděních lidu (en ge dê plêthous sunodois).“ – Sokrates: „Ano, mají (Echei gar). Než podívej se i ty, vzácný příteli (all‘, ô daimonie, ide kai su), zdali se snad i tobě jeví jejich osnova tak řídkou (ei ara kai soi phainetai diestêkos autôn to êtrion) jako mně (hôsper emoi).“ – Faidros: „Jen ukazuj (Deiknue monon).“(268a1-7)

V Novotného překladu se ztrácí smysl tohoto krátkého rozhovoru mezi Sokratem a Faidrem. Faidros se upne na slovo dunamin (sílu, moc), a Sokratovu otázku chápe jako dotaz, zda ty vymoženosti vynalezené učiteli rétoriky mají moc přesvědčivosti. Proto odpovídá: „A velice mocnou (kai mala errômenên) [sílu (dunamin)], jistě aspoň ve shromážděních lidu.“ Na to Sokrates nemůže jinak než přitakat: „Ano, mají“. Jeho otázka však směřovala jinam. On se ptal, zda „tyto věci“ (tauta, 268a1), tedy veškeré ty jmenované vymoženosti učitelů rétoriky mají „moc vědecké disciplíny“ (tên tês technês dunamin), jak ukáže poukaz na lékařství, kterým Sokrates na Faidrovu výzvu „Jen ukazuj“ odpovídá.

Sokrates: „Nuže pověz mi toto (Eipe dê moi). Kdyby někdo přišel k tvému příteli (ei tis proselthôn tô̢ hetairô̢ sou) Eryximachovi (Eruximachô̢) nebo k jeho otci Akumenovi (ê tô̢ patri autou Akoumenô̢) a řekl (eipoi hoti): ‚Já umím (Egô epistamai) podávat tělům takové prostředky (toiaut‘ atta sômasi prospherein), že je podle své vůle zahřívám (hôste thermainein t‘ ean boulômai) i chladím (kai psuchein), a kdykoli se mi uzdá (kai ean men doxê̢ moi), způsobuji zvracení (emein poiein) nebo (ean d‘ au) také průjem (katô diachôrein) a velmi mnoho jiných takových věcí (kai alla pampolla toiauta); a když to umím (kai epistamenos auta), soudím (axiô), že mám právo být lékařem (iatrikos einai) a také dělat lékařem jiného (kai allon poiein), komukoliv bych odevzdal znalost těchto věcí (hô̢ an tên toutôn epistêmên paradô).‘ – co by asi na to řekli (ti an oiei akousantas eipein;)?“ – Faidros: „Co jiného (Ti d‘ allo ge), nežli že by se otázali (ê eresthai), zdali kromě toho také ví (ei prosepistatai), u kterých lidí a kdy má dělat jednotlivé z těchto věcí a v které míře (kai houstinas dei kai hopote hekasta toutôn poiein, kai mechri hoposou;).“ – Sokrates: „A kdyby tu odpověděl (Ei oun eipoi hoti): „Nikoli (Oudamôs), ale soudím (all‘ axiô), že ten, kdo se tomu ode mne naučí (ton tauta par‘ emou mathonta), má sám být schopen dělat (auton hoion t‘ einai poiein), nač se tážeš (ha erôta̢s).“ – Faidros: „Myslím, že by řekli (Eipein d‘ an oimai), že ten člověk blázní (hoti mainetai h‘anthrôpos), a když se o něčem dočetl v knize (kai ek bibliou pothen akousas), nebo když se mu náhodou dostaly do rukou nějaké lékařské prostředky (ê perituchôn pharmakiois), že se domnívá, že se stal lékařem (iatros oietai gegonenai), ačkoli nerozumí ničemu z toho umění (ouden epaïôn tês technês).“ (268a8-c4)

Platon vzápětí koriguje tento příkrý Faidrův odsudek. Sokrates upozorňuje, že Akoumenos by o takovém člověku řekl, že zná „přípravné věci k lékařství (ta pro iatrikês), ale ne lékařství (all‘ ou ta iatrika, 269a2-3).“ V rámci svého srovnání kvazi rétoriky s lékařstvím se tu Platon odvolává na Akumena, aby naznačil, že jmenované vynálezy kvazi-odborníků na rétoriku neodmítá jako vadné či neužitečné, že je však považuje pouze za věci přípravné, které mají daleko do toho, aby postavily rétoriku na roveň vědecké disciplíny, o kterou mu tu jde.

Zřejmě mu tu jde o věc důležitou, protože hned na to se obrací k Perikleovi, kterého nechává promlouvat následovně: „Faidre a Sokrate (Ô Phaidre te kai Sôkrates), nesmíte se horšiti (Ou chrê chalepainein), nýbrž musíte odpouštět (alla sungignôskein), jestliže někteří z neznalosti dialektiky (ei tines mê dunamenoi dialegesthai) se ukázali neschopnými určiti (adunatoi egenonto horisasthai), co je rétorika (ti pot‘ estin rêtorikê), a jestliže se pro tento nedostatek (ek de toutou tou pathous) domnívali, že již vynalezli rétoriku, když mají nutné přípravné znalosti k tomu umění (ta pro tês technês anankaia mathêmata echontes rêtorikên ô̢êthêsan hêurêkenai); i to, že si myslí, když učí těmto věcem jiné, že je dokonale vyučili rétorice (kai tauta dê didaskontes allous hêgountai sphisin teleôs rêtorikên dedidachthai), avšak co se týče toho, aby se jednotlivých z těch věcí užívalo přesvědčivě (to de hekasta toutôn pithanôs legein te) a aby z nich byl sestavován celek (kai to holon sunistasthai), to že není nic těžkého (ouden ergon on) a že si to mají jejich žáci opatřiti při svých řečech sami od sebe (autous dein par‘ heautôn tous mathêtas sphôn porizesthai en tois logois).“ (269b4-c5)

Faidros s tím vším souhlasí, ptá se však: „ale jak a odkud by tedy bylo možno si opatřiti umění řečníka vskutku odborného a přesvědčivého (alla dê tên tou tô̢ onti rêtorikou te kai pithanou technên pôs kai pothen an tis dunaito porisasthai)?“ – Sokrates odpovídá: „S možností státi se (To men dunasthai) dokonalým zápasníkem má se to, Faidre, pravděpodobně – nebo snad i nutně – jako s ostatními věcmi (ô Phaidre, hôste agônistên teleon genesthai, eikosisôs de kai anankaion echein hôsper t’alla): je-li ti dána od přírody řečnická schopnost (ei men soi huparchei phusei rêtorikô̢ einai), budeš proslulým řečníkem (esê̢ rêtôr ellogimos), jestliže přibereš nauku (proslabôn epistêmên te) a cvik (kai meletên); avšak které z těchto podmínek se ti bude nedostávat (hotou d‘ au elleipê̢s toutôn), po té stránce budeš nedokonalý (tautê̢ atelês esê̢). Pokud však jde při tom o umění (hoson de autou technê), nevidím správnou k němu cestu tam, kudy se ubírá Lysias a Thrasymachus (ouch hê̢ Lusias te kai Thrasumachos poreuetai dokei moi phainesthai hê methodos).“ (269c9-d8)

Když se Faidros táže, jakou cestu má Sokrates na mysli, tento se vrací k Periklovi: „Skoro se zdá (Kinduneuei), můj milý (ô ariste), že se Perikles podle všeho osvědčil ze všech nejdokonalejším v umění řečnickém (eikotôs ho Periklês pantôn teleôtatos eis tên rêtorikên genesthai) … Všechna umění, která jsou veliká (Pasai hosai megalai tôn technôn), potřebují také (prosdeontai) důvtipného mluvení (adoleschias) a nad zem hledícího zkoumání o přírodě (kai meteôrologias phuseôs peri); neboť odtamtud odněkud, jak se podobá, vchází do nich tato povýšenost mysli a všestranná účinnost (to gar hupsêlonoun touto kai pantê̢ telesiourgon eoiken enteuthen pothen eisienai). To si získal také Perikles ke svému nadání (ho kai Periklês pros to euphuês einai ektêsato). Stalo se to, myslím, tím, že se setkal s Anaxagorou, který byl takový (prospesôn gar oimai toioutô̢ onti Anaxagora̢); tu se naplnil zájmem o věci nad zemí (meteôrologias emplêstheis), přišel k podstatě rozumu a myšlení (kai epi phusin nou te kai dianoias aphikomenos), o kterýchžto věcech (hôn dê peri) tak obšírně vykládal Anaxagoras (ton polun logon epoieito Anaxagoras), a odtamtud zatáhl do řečnického umění (enteuthen heilkusen epi tên tôn logôn technên), co bylo prospěšné (to prosphoron autê̢).“ – Faidros: „Jak to myslíš (Pôs touto legeis;)?“ – Sokrates: „Bezpochyby je tomu stejně s lékařským uměním jako s rétorikou (Ho autos pou tropos technês iatrikês hôsper kai rêtorikês).“ – Faidros: „Jak to (Pôs dê;)?“ – Sokrates: „V obém je třeba rozebrati přirozenost (en amphoterais dei dielesthai phusin) – v onom těla (sômatos men en tê̢ hetera̢), v této duše (psuchês de en tê̢ hetera̢) – jestliže chceš působit netoliko obratností a zkušeností, nýbrž uměním (ei melleis, mê tribê̢ monon kai empeiria̢ alla technê̢), a takto tělu zjednat zdraví a sílu podáním léků a výživy (tô̢ men pharmaka kai trophên prospehrôn hugieian kai rômên empoiêsein), duši pak podáváním řádných řečí a činností dát přesvědčení, které bys chtěl, a zdatnost (tê̢ de logous te kai epitêdeuseis nomimous peithô hên an boulê̢ kai aretên empoiêsein).“ – Faidros: „Je tomu aspoň pravděpodobně tak, Sokrate (To goun eikos, ô Sôkrates, houtôs).“ – Sokrates: „Nuže myslíš, že je možné vypozorovati přirozenost duše tak, aby to stálo za řeč (Psuchês oun phusin axiôs logou katanoêsai oiei dunaton einai), bez přirozenosti celku (aneu tês tou holou phuseôs;)?“ – Faidros: „Máme-li něco věřit Hippokratovi, jednomu z asklepiovců (Ei men Hippokratei ge tô̢ tôn Asklêpiadôn dei ti pithesthai), ani o tělu nelze nabýt znalosti bez tohoto postupu (oude peri sômatos aneu tês methodou tautês).“ (269e1-270b9)

Charmidu, tak jako ve Faidru, se motiv lékařství dostává na scénu v úvodní části. Sokrates požádal Kritia, aby mu představil Charmida, a Kritias řekl svému průvodci: „Hochu (Pai), zavolej Charmida (kalei Charmidên) a řekni mu (eipôn), že ho chci dovést k lékaři (hoti boulomai auton iatrô̢ sustêsai) stran té churavosti (peri tês astheneias), na kterou si mi nedávno stěžoval (hês prô̢ên pros me elegen hoti asthenoi).“ K Sokratovi se Kritias obrátil se slovy: „Před krátkým časem mi říkal (Enanchos toi ephê), že ho jaksi tíží hlava (barunesthai ti tên kephalên), když ráno vstává (heôthen anistamenos); nuže co ti brání (alla ti se kôluei), abys před ním nedělal (prospoiêsasthai pros auton), jako bys znal nějaký lék proti bolení hlavy (epistasthai ti kephalês pharmakon)?“ – Sokrates: „Nic (Ouden), jen ať přijde (monon elthetô).“ (155b1-7)

Charmides přišel a zeptal se Sokrata, jestli zná lék pro bolení hlavy. Sokrates odpověděl, že zná. Když se Charmides zeptal: „Co je to (Ti oun estin;)?“, Sokrates odpověděl, „že to je jisté lupení (hoti auto eiê phullon ti), ale k tomu léku že patří jakési zaříkání (epô̢dê de tis epi tô̢ pharmakô̢ eiê); jestliže někdo to zaříkání pronáší (hên ei men tis epa̢doi) a zároveň užívá toho léku (hama kai chrô̢to autô̢), že ten lék nadobro uzdravuje (pantapasin hugia poioi to pharmakon), ale bez toho zaříkání (aneu de tês epô̢dês) že to lupení není nic platno (ouden ophelos eiê tou phullou) (155e4-8)… [to zaříkání] jest totiž takové (esti gar toiautê), že dovede uzdravovat netoliko hlavu (hoia mê dunasthai tên kephalên monon hugia poiein, správně: „že nedovede uzdravovat toliko hlavu“ , protože může uzdravovat pouze celé tělo, jak Sokrates dále vysvětluje). Snad jsi i ty slyšel o dobrých lékařích (all‘ hôsper isôs êdê kai su akêkoas tôn agathôn iatrôn), že kdykoli k nim někdo přijde s nemocí očí (epeidê tis autois proselthê̢ tous ophthalmous algôn), oni říkají (legousi pou), že jim není možno (hoti ouch hoion te) podnikat léčení toliko očí (autous monous epicheirein tous ophthalmous iasthai), nýbrž že je nutné (all‘ anankaion eiê) ošetřovat i hlavu (hama kai tên kephalên therapeuein), má-li to být dobré i s očima (ei melloi kai ta tôn  ophthalmôn eu echein); a zase že je velká nerozumnost domnívat se, že by někdy bylo možno léčit hlavu samu o sobě bez celého těla (kai au to tên kephalên oiesthai an pote therapeusai autên eph‘ heautês aneu holou tou sômatos pollên anoian einai). Podle této zásady (ek dê toutou tou logou) se pak obracejí s předpisy o životosprávě k celému tělu (diaitais epi pan to sôma trepomenoi) a spolu s celkem podnikají ošetřování a léčení části (meta tou holou to meros epicheirousin therapeuein te kai iasthai).“ (156b4-c5)

Až k tomuto bodu je Sokratův pohled na lékařství v Charmidu v souladu s tím, jak o lékařství mluví ve Faidru. V Charmidu se však k tomu pojí pohled kritický, který tu Sokrates podává s odvoláním na „jednoho z thráckých lékařů: „Pravil pak tento Thrák (elegen de ho Thra̢k houtos) … že Řekové mají pravdu, když vyslovují zásadu, kterou jsem já právě uvedl (hoti tauta men hoi Hellênes, ha nundê egô elegon, kalôs legoien); ale Zalmoxis (alla Zalmoxis), řekl (ephê), náš král, jenž jest bůh, praví (legei ho hêmeteros basileus, theos ôn), že jako se nemá podnikat léčení očí bez léčení hlavy (hoti hôsper ophthalmous aneu kephalês ou dei epicheirein iasthai) ani léčení hlavy bez léčení těla (oude kephalên aneu sômatos), tak že se nemá ani tělo léčiti bez duše (houtôs oude sôma aneu psuchês), nýbrž ta prý je příčina (alla touto kai aition eiê), že mnohé nemoci unikají řeckým lékařům (tou diapheugein tous para tois Hellêsi iatrous ta polla nosêmata), že se totiž nestarají o celek (hoti tou holou ameloien), o který je třeba pečovati (hou deoi tên epimeleian poieisthai), neboť když ten není v dobrém stavu (hou mê kalôs echontos), že není možno (adunaton eiê), aby byla v dobrém stavu část (to meros eu echein). Neboť z duše, pravil, vycházejí všechny věci (panta gar ephê ek tês psuchês hôrmasthai) i zlé (kai ta kaka) i dobré (kai ta agatha) pro tělo (tô̢ sômati) a pro celého člověka (kai panti tô̢ anthrôpô̢) a odtamtud přitékají (kai ekeithen epirrein), jako přitékají z hlavy (hôsper ek tês kephalês) k očím (epi ta ommata); proto tedy že je třeba onen zdroj (dein oun ekeino) nejprve (kai prôton) a nejvíce ošetřovati (kai malista therapeuein), má-li být i hlava i ostatní tělo v dobrém stavu (ei mellei kai ta tês kephalês kai ta tou allou sômatos eu echein). Řekl pak, že se duše ošetřuje (therapeuesthai de tên psuchên ephê), můj drahý (ô makarie), jakýmisi zaříkáními (epô̢dais tisin), a ta zaříkání (tas d‘ epô̢das tautas) že jsou krásné řeči (tous logous einai tous kalous); z takovýchto řečí (ek tôn logôn toioutôn) že vzniká v duši rozumnost (en tais psuchais sôphrosunên engignesthai), a když ta vznikne (hês engenomenês) a je tam (kai parousês), že již je snadné (ra̢dion êdê einai) opatřiti zdraví i hlavě i ostatnímu tělu (tên hugieian kai tê̢ kephalê̢ kai tô̢ allô̢ sômati porizein).“ (156d5-157b1)

Duši, péči o níž Platon v Charmidu připisuje plnohodnotnému lékařství, učinil ve Faidru doménou rétoriky založené na dialektice. Ve svém projektu této rétoriky píše: „Je patrno, že (dêlon hôs) jestliže kdo bude někomu podávat odborný výklad o řečnictví (an tô̢ tis technê̢ logous didô̢), ukáže přesně jsoucnost přirozené podstaty toho (tên ousian deixei akribôs tês phuseôs toutou), čemu bude podávat řeči (pros ho tous logous prosoisei); a to bude bezpochyby duše (estai de pou psuchê touto, 270e2-e5) … Proto tedy je všechno jeho úsilí napjato k tomuto předmětu (Oukoun hê hamilla autô̢ tetatai pros touto pasa); neboť se snaží způsobiti v něm jisté přesvědčení (peithô gar en toutô̢ poiein epicheirei, 271a1-2) … Je tedy patrno (Dêlon ara), že Thrasymachus (hoti ho Thrasumachos te), i kdokoli jiný (kai hos an allos) bude vážně podávat řečnické umění (spoudê̢ technên rêtorikên didô̢), nejprve se vší přesností (prôton pasê̢ akribeia̢) napíše o duši a způsobí, aby bylo viděti (grapsei te kai poiêsei psuchên idein), zdali to je svou přirozeností věc jedna a sobě stále podobná (poteron hen kai homoion pephuken), či podle podoby těla složitá (ê kata sômatos morphên polueides); neboť to znamená, jak myslíme, ukazovat přirozenou povahu (touto gar phamen phusin einai deiknunai, 271a4-8) … Za druhé pak (Deuteron de ge), čím je přirozeně způsobilá k činnosti a jaké, nebo k trpění a od čeho (hotô̢ ti poiein ê pathein hupo tou pephuken, 271a10-11) … Za třetí pak (Triton de dê), roztřídě (diataxamenos) druhy řečí i druhy duše (ta logôn te kai psuchês genê) a jejich rozličné stavy (kai ta toutôn pathêmata), probere všechny příčinné vztahy (dieisi pasas aitias), uváděje ve vhodné spojení pokaždé jedno s druhým (prosarmottôn hekaston hekastô̢) a vykládaje (kai didaskôn), za jakých podmínek, hledíc k jakosti duše i k jakosti řeči, a z které příčiny (hoia ousa huph‘ hoiôn logôn di‘ hên aitian) nutně (ex anankês) jedna duše se dává přesvědčiti (hê men peithetai) a druhá zůstává nepřesvědčena (hê de apeithei, 271b1-5).“

V posledních měsících válek peloponéských, když Platon sepisoval Faidros, byla athénská demokracie upadlá, ale byla to demokracie, a veškerá politická činnost se odehrávala prostřednictvím řečnického umění, jímž byl lid veden, respektive sváděn k tomu či onomu rozhodnutí, k té či oné činnosti nebo nečinnosti. Toto období bylo obdobím, kdy Platonův zájem o to, aby se pustil do záležitostí týkajících se celé obce, tedy do záležitostí politických (epi ta koina tês poleôs ienai, Sedmý dopis 324b9-c1), byl nejživější. Pro jakoukoli pozitivní politickou činnost však nebylo místo, a tak Platon do Faidru vložil své naděje v lepší demokracii vedenou skutečným, filozoficky koncipovaným řečnickým uměním, zaměřeným k dobru a postaveným na dialektice. Po aristokratickém převratu, kterým se vláda dostala do rukou Třiceti, v Athénách nebylo místo pro rétoriku, a jak nás o tom informuje Xenofon, Kritias spolu s Chariklem „vydal zákon, kterým se zakazovalo vyučování rétorice“ (en tois nomois egrapse logôn technên mê didaskein, Vzpomínky na Sokrata I.ii.31)

Charmidu Platon dělá vše pro to, aby z Faidru zachránil, co za záchranu stálo. To jsou především Sokratovy dvě řeči o lásce, zejména řeč druhá, v níž pravá láska, soustředěná na filozofii, a tak silou nahlédnuté ideje krásna a sôphrosunê osvobozená od sexuálního styku (253c7-256b7), přináší filozofovi a jeho miláčkovi to největší dobrodiní zde na zemi: „Takoví lidé tráví vezdejší život blaženě a v svornosti (makarion men kai homonoêtikon ton enthade bion diagousin), majíce v moci sami sebe a jsouce spořádaní (enkrateis hautôn kai kosmioi ontes), když si podrobili to, čím vznikala špatnost duše (doulôsamenoi men hô̢ kakia psuchês enegigneto), a osvobodili to, čím vznikala zdatnost (eleutherôsantes de hô̢ aretê). Po skončení tohoto života (teleutêsantes de dê) … mají získáno vítězství v jednom ze tří zápasů vpravdě olympijských (tôn triôn palaismatôn tôn hôs alêthôs Olumpiakôn hen nenikêkasin), vítězství, nad které nemůže člověku poskytnouti většího dobra ani lidská rozumnost, ani božská šílenost (hou meizon agathon oute sôpohrosunê anthrôpinê oute theia mania dunatê porisai anthrôpô̢).“ (256a8-b7)

O jakých třech vítězstvích tu Platonův Sokrates mluví? Duše, které během své nebeské poutě nedokázaly nahlédnout ideje, jimž přináleží pravé bytí, ztrácejí své perutě a jsou inkarnovány. Většina z nich se pak potácí od inkarnace k inkarnaci po deset tisíc let, „kromě duše toho, kdo nezáludně filozofoval (plên hê tou philosophêsantos adolôs) neb filozoficky miloval (ê paideratêsantos meta philosophias); tyto v třetím tisíciletém kruhu (hautai de tritê̢ periodô̢ tê̢ chilietei), jestliže si zvolí třikrát za sebou takovýto život (ean helôntai tris ephexês ton bion touton), nabudou takto perutí (houtô pterôtheisai) a v třítisícím roce odcházejí (trischiliostô̢ etei aperchontai, 249a1-5)“ – osvobozeni od koloběhu života na zemi a v podsvětí, a tak zbaveni smrti.

V příspěvku ‚Platonův Charmides ve světle jeho Faidru‘ jsem ukázal, že epô̢dê (Novotného „zaříkání“) v Charmidu, specifikovaná jako krásné řeči, které duši přinášejí sôphrosunê (uměřenost, rozumnost) poukazuje k Sokratovým dvěma řečem o lásce, v nichž sôphrosunê hraje centrální úlohu; v té první řeči sôphrosunê lidská (anthrôpinê), v palinodii idea sôphrosunê, tedy sôphrosunê, které náleží pravé bytí. Tu k tomu jen dodám, že k palinodii ve Faidru, v níž nezáludná filozofie nebo láska vedená filozofií člověka „po třech vítězstvích“ zbavuje koloběhu života a smrti, Platon poukazuje v Charmidu hned když Sokrates vykládá, jak se dostal k epô̢dê, která v duši vzbuzuje sôphrosunê: „Já jsem se ji naučil (emathon d‘ autên egô) tam na vojně (ekei epi stratias) od jednoho z thráckých lékařů, žáků Zalmoxidových (para tinos tôn Thra̢kôn tôn Zalmoxidos iatrôn), kteří prý pomáhají i k nesmrtelnosti (hoi legontai kai apathanatizein, 156d4-6).“