Plato wrote dialogues. While there has been attention to the dramatic elements of Plato's dialogues by a number of scholars, there has been much less attention to the narrative style of the dialogues. I argue that we should consider whether the dialogues are recited or presented like dramatic works with each character speaking his own words—or as a mixture of these narrative forms. By employing this interpretive tool to read the Republic, I illustrate how paying attention to the narrative style (...) enables us to see a democratic Socrates who undermines readings of the Republic famously offered by Karl Popper and Leo Strauss. Plato appears then as neither a defender of the "closed society" nor an advocate of the elite rule of the wise over the many. (shrink)
The Phoenician Women, Euripides' peculiar retelling and refashioning of the Theban myth, offers a portrait of Antigone before she becomes the actor we mostly know today from Sophocles' play. In this under-studied Greek tragedy, Euripides portrays the political and epistemological dissolution that allows for Antigone's appearance in public. Whereas Sophocles' Antigone appears on stage ready to confront Creon with her appeal to the universal unwritten laws of the gods and later dissolves into the female lamenting a lost (...) womanhood, Euripides' Antigone experiences the opposite journey, thereby offering insights into the conditions that allow for her exposure in the political arena. A speech by Eteocles at the center of the play questions the existence of absolutes, calls injustice beautiful, and opens the door for Antigone's entrance into the public sphere. With this speech Eteocles challenges us to consider the conditions of political openness in the modern age. (shrink)
They do not understand that being brought apart is carried back together with itself; it is a back-stretching harmony as of the bow and the lyre.Herakleitus, Frag. 51“Tell me, you, the heir of the argument,” I said, “what was it Simonides said about justice that you assert he said correctly?”“That it is just to give to each what is owed,” he said. “In saying this he said a fine thing, at least in my opinion.”Plato, Republic 331e (Bloom translation).