Category Archives: Ancient Philosophy

Workshop at Durham University on Ancient Historiography, Science, and Theology

 Paradigm and Method in Ancient Historiography, Science, and Theology

 A CAMNE Workshop at Durham University

 3–4 May 2013

theophrastus

Theophrastus

Polybius

Polybius

Under the auspices of the Centre   for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East (CAMNE), the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University is pleased to host an interdisciplinary workshop entitled ‘Paradigm and Method in Ancient Historiography, Science, and Theology’, 3–4 May 2013.  This workshop seeks to develop a scholarly dialogue concerning the epistemological assumptions, writing strategies, and methodological applications employed by ancient authors of historical writings, scientific and technical compositions, and theological works.  Papers will be delivered by a group of scholars whose academic interests pursue the interrelationships between various disciplines of knowledge in ancient cultures.

All events will take place at the Department of Classics and Ancient History, Durham University, 38 North Bailey, Durham, DH1 3EU. This workshop is open to the public, and there is no cost to participate.  Any enquiries can be directed to the organizer, Phillip Horky (Phillip.Horky@Durham.ac.uk).  Postdoctoral students are particularly encouraged to attend the workshop.

Programme

FRIDAY, 3 MAY

(Ritson Room/CL007, Dept. of Classics and Ancient History)

4:00pm–4:15pm: Introductory Remarks by Phillip Horky (Durham University)

Afternoon/Evening Session: Chaired by Luca Castagnoli (Durham University)

4:15pm–5:15pm: Chris Pelling (Christ Church, Oxford University)

‘Herodotus and the Hippocratics’

5:15pm–6:15pm: Phillip Horky (Durham University)

‘The First Words of Pythagoras’ Physics? Diogenes Laertius on Heraclitus on Pythagoras’

6:15pm–6:45pm: Coffee & Tea Break (Seminar Room/CL108)

6:45pm–7:45pm: Stefan Schorn (KU Leuven)

‘Theophrastus on Jewish Sacrifice’

8:00pm: Dinner for speakers

SATURDAY, 4 MAY

(Ritson Room/CL007, Dept. of Classics and Ancient History)

8:30am–9:00am: Coffee & Snacks (Seminar Room/CL108)

 Morning Session: Chaired by John Moles (Newcastle University)

9:00am–10:00am: Nicolas Wiater (University of St. Andrews)

‘History with(out) Gods: A Fresh Look at Polybius and Theology’

10:00am–11:00am: Thorsten Foegen (Durham University)

‘Memory, Methodology, and Morality: Links between Ancient Technical Writing and Historiography’

11:00am–11:30am: Coffee & Snacks (Seminar Room/CL108)

Morning/Afternoon Session: Chaired by Amy Russell (Durham) 

11:30am–12:30pm: Lucas Herchenroeder (Durham University)

‘Polybius and Political Causality: the Case of the Hannibalic War’

12:30pm–1:30pm: Luke Pitcher (Somerville College, Oxford University)

‘The Doctor’s Dilemma: Polybius, Science, and Philosophy’

1:30pm–1:45pm: Closing Remarks by Lucas Herchenroeder (Durham University)

This workshop is generously supported by the Department of Classics and Ancient History and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Durham University.

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Conference Announcement: Dialectic and Aristotle’s Logic

Below is a call for papers received from Matt Duncombe (Groningen); please do consider applying if you are working on Aristotelian logic!

Dialectic and Aristotle’s Logic

September 2-4 2013
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Groningen (Netherlands)

https://sites.google.com/site/therootsofdeduction/conference-dialectic-in-aristotle-s-logic

Aristotle’s logic is often treated as though it falls into two quite distinct parts: the deductive syllogistic system, discussed in the Prior and Posterior Analytics and the dialectical system, discussed in the Topics and Sophistical Refutations. Each of these parts has received sustained, independent attention: logicians have done much to articulate the structure of Aristotle’s syllogistic, while commentators have seen Aristotle’s dialectic as key to his whole philosophical enterprise.

This conference aims to examine the (putative) dialectical grounding for Aristotle’s logical theories in general (in particular, but not exclusively, syllogistic), and thus to emphasize the coherence and continuity of his logical writings by taking multi-agent dialogical interactions such as dialectic as the founding concept.

Confirmed speakers

Luca Castagnoli (Durham)
Marko Malink (Chicago)
Mathieu Marion (UQAM, Montreal)
Ana Maria Mora (Copenhagen)
Carrie Swanson (Bloomington)
Paul Thom (Sydney)
Matthew Duncombe (Groningen)
Catarina Dutilh Novaes (Groningen)

Call for Papers

There will be a number of slots for contributed papers. Contributions may address the following themes, among others:

The pragmatic context of Aristotle’s syllogistic
Game-theoretic construals of Aristotle’s logic
Aristotle’s account of fallacies
Dialectic in the Organon (including the Categories and On Interpretation)
Dialogical readings of Aristotle’s logic by ancient and (Latin and Arabic) medieval commentators

The organizers invite submissions from scholars at all levels (graduate students, junior and senior researchers). Please submit abstracts of up to 1000 words (in PDF format) by March 15th 2013 to rootsofdeduction ‘at’ gmail.com.

Abstracts should be prepared for blind review. Notification of acceptance will be sent by April 15th.

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A Game of Source Criticism

I’ve got a game for you to play, but you’ll have to bear with me until the end.  I’ll be presenting a paper at the Institute of Classical Studies in London in the Ancient Philosophy Seminar next week on 28 January (Room 243 at the Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU), and I’m feverishly trying to wade through the mushy snow to get to the office and write this one up!  Who wants to help?

The talk, entitled ‘Aristotle on Pythagorean Number-Substance’, represents a sustained defense of Fragment 6 of the Pythagorean Philolaus of Croton, whose authenticity Luc Brisson recently challenged at a talk I gave in Paris.  It occurred to me that I haven’t really seen anyone do a comprehensive analysis of Aristotle’s Fragment 203 Rose, which – or so I will argue – preserves several references to Philolaus’ work.  Alexander of Aphrodisias seems to get this precious information from a lost work of Aristotle’s called On the Opinions of the Pythagoreans, probably a treatise not totally unlike Theophrastus’ doxographical On the Opinions of the Natural Scientists (if that is what it was called).  For fun (not so much), and by way of preview, I’ll give my translation and the Greek text of Alexander which will be the focus of this presentation (in Metaph. p. 40.7-24 Hayduck):

The bodies that move the greatest distance to move [the Pythagoreans thought to be] the fastest, those that move the least distance to be slowest, and the intermediate bodies to move in proportion to the size of their orbit.  Indeed, on the basis of these likenesses in beings with regard to numbers and things, they supposed that beings are both composed out of numbers and are particular numbers.

And thinking that numbers are prior to nature as a whole as well as to beings in nature (for, they thought, it is not possible for any being either to be or to be known at all without number, whereas it is possible for numbers to be known even without other things), they assumed that the elements of numbers and the first principles of all these [sc. numbers] are the first principles of all beings.  These elements were, as has been said [?], even and odd, of which they thought the odd to be limited and the even unlimited; of numbers, they thought the unit to be the first principle, being composed out of the unlimited and the limited; for the unit was at once even-odd, which he [?] demonstrated by way of the unit’s being generative of both the odd and the even number.  For the unit added to an even generates an odd, and the unit added to an odd generates an even.

And assuming as obvious from the first likenesses between numbers and harmonic combinations, on the one hand, and the attributes and parts of heaven, on the other, they demonstrated that the heavens are composed out of and in accordance with harmony.

κινεῖσθαι δὲ τάχιστα μὲν τὰ τό μέγιστον διάστημα κινούμενα, βραδύτατα δὲ τὰ τὸ ἐλάχιστον, τὰ δὲ μεταξὺ κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν τοῦ μεγέθους τῆςπεριφορᾶς. ἐκ δὴ τούτων τῶν ὁμοιοτήτων ἐν τοῖς οὖσι πρὸς τοὺς ἀριθμοὺς τὰ μὲν πράγματα καὶ τὰ ὄντα ἐξ ἀριθμῶν τε συγκεῖσθαι καὶ ἀριθμούς τινας εἶναι ὑπελάμβανον. 

τοὺς δὲ ἀριθμοὺς ἡγούμενοι πάσης τῆς φύσεως καὶ τῶν φύσει ὄντωνπρώτους (μήτε γὰρ δύνασθαί τι τῶν ὄντων χωρὶς ἀριθμοῦ εἶναι μήτεγνωρίζεσθαι ὅλως, τοὺς δὲ ἀριθμοὺς καὶ χωρὶς τῶν ἄλλων γιγνώσεσθαι)τὰ τῶν ἀριθμῶν στοιχεῖα καὶ τὰς ἀρχὰς τούτων πάντων τῶν ὄντωνἀρχὰς ἔθεντο.  ταῦτα δὲ ἦν, ὡς εἴρηται, ἄρτιον καὶ περιττόν, ὧν τὸ μὲν περιττὸν πεπερασμένον τὸ δὲ ἄρτιον ἄπειρον ἡγοῦντο εἶναι˙ τῶν δὲ ἀριθμῶν τὴν μονάδα ἀρχὴν εἶναι, συγκειμένην ἔκ τε τοῦ ἀρτίου καὶ περιττοῦ˙ εἶναι γὰρ τὴν μονάδα ἅμα ἀρτιοπέριττον, ὃ ἐδείκνυε διὰ τοῦ γεννητικὴν αὐτὴν εἶναι καὶ τοῦ περιττοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἀρτίου ἀριθμοῦ˙ ἀρτίῳ μὲν γὰρ προστιθεμένη περιττὸν γεννᾷ, περιττῷ δὲ ἄρτιον.

καὶ ὅσα μὲν εἶχον ὁμολογούμενα ἔν τε τοῖς ἀριθμοῖς καὶ τοῖς κατὰ τὰς ἁρμονίας συνθέσεσι πρὸς τὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πάθη τε καὶ μέρη, ταῦτα μὲν αὐτόθι ὡς φανερὰ λαμβάνοντες ἐδείκνουν τὸν οὐρανὀν ἐξ ἀριθμῶν τε συγκεῖσθαι καὶ καθ’ἁρμονίαν. 

Let’s play a game, then.  Can anyone identify specifically (a) which portions come from Aristotle’s De Caelo and Metaphysics, and (b) which definitely refer to (i.e. summarize) Philolaus’ fragments?  Help me out!

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Reflections on Plato’s Academy Conference

The conference on Plato’s Academy, which took place this past week at the University of Athens, organized chiefly by Paul Kalligas (Athens), Chloe Balla (Crete), and Vassilis Karasmanis (Athens), was, in this writer’s opinion, an unqualified success.  Overall, the papers and discussion forced the many excellent scholars who participated to obtain greater precision in several areas of interest, of which I will discuss four [[1]].

Plato in the Shadow of Aristotle?

Plato in the Shadow of Aristotle? The New Plato Bust in the Acropolis Museum

First of all, there were heated debates concerning the interpretation and influence of Plato’s philosophy among his successors in the 4th and 3rd Centuries BCE.  This was an important theme in various papers, especially those of John Glucker (Tel Aviv), who cast doubt on the possibility that interpretive models associated with the so-called ‘Tubingen School’ could be justified by evidence from antiquity, and of Katharina Luchner (Munich), who supplied a very careful stylistic analysis which showed how the Seventh and Thirteenth Letters represented diverse appropriations of Plato’s philosophy through rhetorical and doctrinal presentation.  In this vein, too, the stylometrical and historical analyses of the works of contested authorship by Harold Tarrant (Newcastle, Australia) were a welcome addition, forcing us to think more about not just the importance of later Platonist dialogue-writers such as Philip of Opus, but also the role that these figures played in the institutions that helped to shape the reception of Plato’s philosophy.  Individual figures associated with the Early Academy were also featured: István Bodnár (Budapest) presented a good case for the differentiation between two camps in the Early Academy with regard to the formulation and use of the mathematical sciences (astronomy and harmonic theory); Henry Mendell (CSU-Los Angeles) expanded our understanding of the actual observations of celestial objects by the astronomers from Cyzicus (including Eudoxus), highlighting their role in providing empirical evidence for Aristotle’s use, while at the same time casting doubt on Eudoxus’ importance within the Academy; and John Dillon (Dublin) aimed to elucidate the applied ethics of Polemon, which differentiated him from his senior colleague, Xenocrates, whose dialectical approaches to the precepts of Pythagoras and Triptolemus I discussed in my own contribution.  A brilliant and, in many ways, charmingly paradigmatic teacher-student debate exploded between Vassilis Karasmanis (Athens) and Michalis Sialaros (London), who took opposing sides on the issue of whether Euclid could be considered a product of Plato’s Academy, with the issue left in the balance at the end (although I probably lean against Euclid’s Platonic inheritance, but not necessarily for the reasons Sialaros pointed out).

A second ‘hot topic’ of the conference was the articulation of Platonic doctrines and schools in the late Hellenistic and Roman Republican periods.  Oliver Primavesi’s (Munich) intrepid analysis of the manuscript tradition of Alexander of Aphrodisias revealed a new testimonium for Eudorus of Alexandria’s metaphysics, which focused on the relationship between the material principle and the Forms.  David Sedley (Cambridge) argued compellingly that Carneades’ atheistic sorites arguments presented not an attack on the Stoics, but rather an example of a particular mode of Academic disputation on various topics.   Several hetairoi of Sedley focused especially on the history of the Academy in the 2nd and 1st Centuries BCE.  Myrto Hatzimichali (Cambridge) presented a careful analysis of Philodemus’ approach to writing about the scholarchs of the Academy, focusing on both historiographical and philosophical elements.  Mauro Bonazzi (Milano) and Georgia Tsouni (Bern) obtained mostly divergent conclusions (to my eye) of the philosophical and doctrinal underpinnings of Antiochus of Ascalon, extending some of the conclusions they reached in their earlier contributions to The Philosophy of Antiochus (ed. Sedley, Cambridge 2012) by thinking more about the sociology and competitive philosophical milieu of Antiochus’ ‘Old Academy’.  The dilemma of Antiochus’ Platonism remains difficult to solve, if stimulating to contemplate.

There was a palpable sense of symbiosis between Hatzimichali’s paper and that of Matthias Haake (Münster), who provided a most compact discussion of the political and social history of the Academy in Athens (with appeal especially to inscriptional evidence) from the mid-4th Century BCE until its ‘end’ (or one of its many ‘ends?’ – as Bonazzi’s paper encouraged us to contemplate) with Sulla’s arrival in Athens in 86 BCE.  It is my hope that they will use one another’s discoveries to nuance their own contributions, if the papers go on to be published.  And Paul Cartledge (Cambridge) provided a thoughtful, if finally aporetic, discussion of the social and political influence of the ‘members’ (scare-quotes in original) of the Academy in the political culture of the Greek world, topped of with a comparative analysis between the Academy and the RAND Corporation.  Cartledge’s paper was a fit dedication to the late Trevor Saunders, who did so much to encourage us to think about Plato’s Laws beyond Plato.

They told us the one on the left was Plato, but I rather think it's Plocrates (h/t to Christopher Rowe)

They told us the one on the left was Plato, but I rather think it’s Plocrates (h/t to Christopher Rowe)

Finally, two papers in particular encouraged us to think about possible allusions to academic practices embedded in the dialogues of Plato.  Thomas Szlezák (Tübingen) sought to extract evidence for unwritten doctrines from within Plato’s dialogues, and there was a vigorous debate concerning the authority and status of the enigmatic statements concerning what cannot be said at the present moment by Plato’s speakers; and the ever-effervescent Alexander Nehamas (Princeton) showed that the way in which Plato works out the consequences of Zeno’s claim in the Parmenides that ‘all is not many’ through dialectical exercises in the second half of the work, which might point to actual practice in logic.

We were able to visit the new Acropolis Museum, where we saw new copies of busts of Plato and Aristotle – as well as the homunculi versions of Plato and Socrates you see above – and had a short tour of the park known as the Academy, where the photo associated with my gravatar to the left was snapped (extemporaneous photo by Henry Mendell of me lecturing in Plato’s Academy, actually at the 4th Century Peristyle building that I fantasize was the location of  Plato’s Academy).  

I admit to having fought back a tear or two while standing there, and the generous dogs who occupied the park didn’t mind at all.

[[1]] Unfortunately,  I had to leave early in the morning on Sunday and sadly missed what I’m sure were terrific papers on the archaeology and material culture of the Academy by Manolis Panayotopoulos Tania Chatziefthymiou (Athens), Effie Lygkouri-Tolia (Athens), Ada Caruso (Rome),  Voula Bardani (Athens), Daniela Marchiandi (Torino), Angelos Matthaiou (Athens), Ismini Trianti (Ioannina), and Stephen Miller (UC-Berkeley).

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Preview of ‘Pythagoreanism in the Early Academy: the Question of Appropriation’

As promised, here is preview of the paper I’ll be giving in the Plato’s Academy Conference at the University of Athens on 14 December (9:30-10:10 in the Ioannis Drakopoulos Auditorium), on the modalities of ‘appropriation’ of Pythagorean philosophy in the Early Academy:

Antisthenes at the British Museum

Antisthenes of Athens, at the British Museum

From the very earliest sources in Athens, we see diverse approaches to the ‘appropriation’ of Pythagoreanism: the Socratic philosopher Antisthenes of Athens, who celebrated the rhetorical dexterity of Pythagoras, and who cast him as a figure whose activities exemplified the claim that ‘to discover the mode of wisdom appropriate to each person is the mark of wisdom’ (τὸν γὰρ ἑκάστοις πρόσφορον τρόπον τῆς σοφίας ἐξευρίσκειν σοφίας ἐστίν).[1]  Here, Pythagoras’ civic performances in Croton – whatever historical veracity they might obtain – seem to be elicited in order to demonstrate his exemplarity as an orator, a πολύτροπος who, like Odysseus, is able to intuit the best way to speak to his audience, and tailor his speech accordingly.[2]  This, according to Antisthenes, is a sort of higher order wisdom in itself, under which fall other sorts of wisdom.  But even from the earliest response to Pythagoreanism, in the dialogues of the Socratic Antisthenes, we can see that Pythagorean wisdom was, itself, inherently thought to be appropriable to the object of its persuasion.[3]

The fact of the appropriability of Pythagoreanism to its audience, evident in Antisthenes’ fragments, might help to explain why Pythagoreanism was so open to diversity of interpretation in the intellectual culture of late 5th-Century BCE Athens.  Indeed, other intellectuals within the circle of Socrates were approaching Pythagoreanism with what might seem to us to be more exotic exegetical strategies.  Another associate of Socrates, Aristippus of Cyrene, also focused on Pythagoras’ disclosure of the truth, but he cleverly employed an explanatory strategy based in allegorical etymologization of the sort found in the Derveni Papyrus and Plato’s Cratylus.[4]  In a work entitled On the Natural Scientists, Aristippus claimed:

…he was named Pythagoras because he, no less than the Pythian, orated

the truth.”

Πυθαγόραν αὐτὸν ὀνομασθῆναι ὅτι τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἠγόρευεν οὐχ ἧττον

τοῦ Πυθίου.

(D.L. 8.21 = SSR IV A 150)

This strategy of interpretation of Pythagoras’ name, which was associated with riddling speech elsewhere in this period, is all the more striking given Aristippus’ refusal elsewhere to ‘solve a riddle’ (λῦσον αἴνιγμα), on the grounds that it already offers us enough trouble in its current ‘bound-up’ state (δεδεμένον).[5]  Was Aristippus joking in the first case, or being flippant in the second?  Perhaps Aristippus was aping a method of allegorical interpretation practiced by natural scientists of the stripe of someone like Metrodorus of Lampsacus, who was associated with Anaxagoras and the φυσικὴ πραγματεία in the traditions, and who engaged in forms of metonymical explanation of Homeric characters, both human and divine.[6]  We cannot be sure.[7]  Be that as it may, this testimonium shows that etymologization was a possible vehicle for explaining what the name Pythagoras – and potentially, by extension, Pythagoreanism – meant to some late 5th and early 4th Century BCE intellectuals engaged in current methods of critical analysis.


[1] V A 187 SSR.  Cf. Zhmud 2012: 46-47.

[2] Of course, this tradition tends to be associated with Socrates more broadly, if we are to see in the discussion of legitimate rhetoric as ‘leading the soul’ (ψυχαγωγία) in Plato’s Phaedrus (271a-272b) as Socratic.

[3] The tradition that associates Pythagoras with excellence in oratory remains strong throughout the 4th and early 3rd Centuries BCE, being adopted by Dicaearchus (F 33 Mirhady) and Timaeus of Tauromenium (apud Justin 20.4), and extensively elaborated upon by Iamblichus’ source (Timaeus?) at VP 37-37.

[4] On allegorical exegesis in the Derveni Papyrus and its relationship to etymological exegesis in the Cratylus, see, inter alia, Struck (2004: 29-59).

[5] D.L. 2.70 = SSR IV A 116.

[6] DK 61 F 2, 4, and 6.

[7] Probably, much rides on what it means to ‘solve’ a ‘riddle’, which is difficult to contextualize for Aristippus.  Boys-Stones and Rowe (2013) note that Socrates apparently refused to split hairs by appeal to eristics of the sort practiced by Eubulides, and that Antisthenes (DK 29 A 15, not in SSR), when presented with Eleatic arguments that being is unmoved, walked around rather than try to solve the five arguments given by Zeno, considering proof ‘through activity’ (διὰ τῆς ἐνεργείας) more concrete than proof ‘through arguments’ (δὶα λόγων).

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The One-man Symposium Show of Lucian

Silenus and his Mask

Slow going is the proper term to describe this new project.  I’m trying to investigate the reception of Plato’s Symposium in the ancient world [[1]].   This is already a challenge, since there is very little information concerning commentaries and adaptations of Plato’s Symposium in the philosophical tradition: Calvenus Taurus (T 5 Lakmann) complained that the lazy budding philosophers of his day only wanted to hear about Alcibiades’ revelry; Plutarch might have written his own version of the Symposium, which would have focused on, among other things, obtaining a definition of love (e.g. F 135 Sandbach); Porphyry appears to have written a commentary on it, of which one testimonium survives (177 T Smith).  But very little by way of philosophical commentary on Plato’s justly celebrated work is extant, or even hinted at, in the ancient world.

On the other hand, so-called ‘literary’ receptions of the Symposium are somewhat plentiful: witness, for example, Lucian’s Symposium, also known as the Lapiths, which begins by exploiting Alcibiades’ late entrance:

Philo: All sorts of tomfoolery, so they say, happened yesterday to you guys at the dinner party at Aristaenetus’  house: some philosophical speeches were made, thanks to which a quite substantial quarrel arose.  Unless Charinus was lying, it all came to blows, and the party was broken up by bloodshed.

Lycinus:  Where did Charinus get hold of this information, Philo?   He didn’t eat with us!

Philo: He said he heard it from Dionicus, the doctor.   I suspect that Dionicus was one of the guests.

Lycinus: True enough; but he wasn’t even there for all of it from the beginning: he came in quite late, when the battle was half over, right before it came to blows. So I’d be surprised if he could say anything specific about it, since he wasn’t there for the beginning of the quarrel which ended in bloodshed.

(Lucian, Symposium or The Lapiths 1)

Obviously, Lucian is exploiting the trope of distancing the account through establishment of narrative registers found at the beginning of Plato’s Symposium (172b-174a); but he innovates by making Dionicus arrive late, like Alcibiades, and casting him as a doctor, like Eryximachus.  Moreover, at the end of the story, after the dispersal of the dinner party, he stands in for Socrates too, who tucks in his friends before leaving for the Lyceum (223d):

Lycinus: The bridegroom, after his wound had been dressed by the doctor Dionicus, was carried home, head bandaged, in the carriage in which he was planning to carry his bride – bitter was the wedding he celebrated!  As for the rest, well, Dionicus treated them to the best of his ability and they were carried off to bed, most of them puking in the streets.

Sounds like a Thursday night in Newcastle!  At any rate, it is somewhat striking to see Dionicus take on so many masks here: the person who told Phoenix the story of Agathon’s party, Eryximachus, Alcibiades, and finally Socrates.   Maybe that’s part of the reason why Lycinus quotes the famous closing lines of several plays of Euripides (Alcestis, Andromache, Bacchae, Helen, and Medea) at the end of Lucian’s work (Symposium 48):

Many are the shapes of divine things,

And many are the things the gods bring to pass unexpectedly,

As things expected were not brought to completion.

πολλαὶ μορφαὶ τῶν δαιμονίων

πολλὰ δ’ἀέλπτως κραίνουσι θεοί,

καὶ τὰ δοκηθέντ’ οὐκ ἐτελέσθη.

Like Proteus, or a mime performer, Dionicus combines many of the shapes of those heroic figures of the Symposium‘s literary past into one character, a kind of syncretism that – in itself – counterbalances the squabbling and outright brutal warfare demonstrated by the philosophers whom he was left to tend to at the end of the work.  Like the Silenic Socrates who, according to Alcibiades (215b; cf. 217a), is full of “statuettes of the gods” (ἔνδοθεν ἀγάλματα ἔχοντες θεῶν) – and whose speech adapts and comes to contain all the others that come before – Dionicus embodies many of characters who participated in the paradigmatic Platonic Symposium.  Lucian’s is a unique (I think) model of intertextual syncretism in the ancient literary tradition that reinterprets Plato’s masterpiece of literary and philosophical composition on its own terms.  But perhaps I’m wrong, and people can point me to other texts?

[[1]]  It is worth citing, among others, Richard Hunter’s Plato’s Symposium (Oxford, 2006) as well as Harold Tarrant’s Plato’s First Interpreters (London, 2000) as major studies that deal with the reception of Plato’s Symposium.

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Socrates Redivivus Iuvenis

Infancy Gospel of St. Thomas

OK, I got really confused at the beginning of this article, when I read in the caption under the picture that *Simonides* said, “with Socrates’ help…Greeks might be able to admit their limitations.”  Uh…do they mean Simonides of Ceos, who died around the time when Socrates was a little boy?  So perhaps, I began to wonder, there is a pseudo-Simonides oral tradition in which Simonides is said to have praised the young Socrates, not unlike the apocryphal Infancy tradition that posited the wisdom and miracles of Jesus.  How had I missed this kernel of biographical evidence for Socrates?  Then I read on and realized my homonymous blunder…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/03/theatre-socrates-tour-greece

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