Tarrant examines whether the relationship between Socrates and his young followers could ever have been treated by Plato in the same fashion as it is treated in the Platonic Theages, where the terminology of synousia is repeatedly applied to it. In minimizing the part played by knowledge and maximizing the role of the divine and of eros, the work creates a "Socrates" who conforms to the educational ideology of the Academy of Polemo in the period 314-270 BC.
Various ancient sources refer to the Platonic work that we know as Republic in the plural. Aristotle seems to have made it possible to refer to politeiai as ‘constitutions’, actual or written, and therefore some of our texts are best explained as references to Plato’s two written constitutions, Republic and Laws. One neglected reference that may perhaps be explained in this way occurs in the anonymous Antiatticista. A large number of references from the Alexandrian school of Platonism in late antiquity (...) cannot be explained in that way, and should be understood with reference to the prevalent interpretation of the Republic, which gives equal weight to the internal (psychic) and external (civic) constitutions. The trickiest question is what it means in the titles of three commentaries dating from the early imperial era. (shrink)
Apart from Plutarch, whose work is often seen as atypical, there are no substantial pieces of extant writing from named Platonists between the death of Plato and the Enneads of Plotinus in the 3rd century AD. Anybody intent on charting the course of Platonism must therefore be reconciled to working regularly with fragments: piecing them together as our archaeological colleagues would seek to reassemble an example of red-figure pottery. Where most fragments survive, the task ahead is easier, but in more (...) challenging cases one must rely on an idea of what the artist was trying to depict, some comparative material, and the instincts acquired from repeatedly dealing with the same kind of material. (shrink)
Our knowledge of the Academy between the death of Plato and the first century BC is not extensive, though covered both by Philodemus' Academica, a history of the School on damaged papyrus, and by brief biographies in the fourth book of Diogenes Laertius' Lives of the Philosophers. These biographies cover the main school leaders down to the time of Clitomachus (d. 110/09 BC). It would be usual to see the Academy as having built on Plato's work and maintained his traditions (...) for about eighty years after the death of Plato in 347 BC, where upon Arcesilaus drew on the precedent of Socratic ignorance to move in a new, more sceptical direction. (shrink)
This paper examines the late Neoplatonic evidence for the text at the crucial point of the Alcibiades I, 133c, finding that Olympiodorus' important evidence is not in the lexis, which strangely has nothing to say. Perhaps it was dangerous in Christian Alexandria to record one's views here too precisely. Rather, they are found primarily in the prologue and secondarily in the relevant theoria. Olympiodorus believes that he is quoting from the work or paraphrasing closely, but offers nothing that (...) can be paralleled in either the manuscripts or the Eusebian (or Stobaean) versions. Since both the manuscript text and the Eusebian text fail to satisfy, the evidence deserves consideration. Even if he were not in possession of a text that was wholly correct, Olympiodorus does at least offer an overall interpretation of the passage which neatly unites the daemonic and erotic aspects of Socrates' activities, and offers a real reason for Alcibiades to return Socrates' love. He is encouraged to reflect upon the nature of the divine being (not just a daemo but a theos in this work) controlling Socrates, so that he may behold the likeness of his own, woefully obscured, inner self, and so acquire the self-knowledge necessary for true political success.The anonymous Prolegomena (unsurprisingly) are compatible with Olympiodorus, while Proclus' prologue again largely agrees with Olympiodorus' interpretation. For Proclus, Alcibiades must become an observer of Socrates knowledge and indeed of Socrates' whole life. 'For to desire to know the reason for Socrates' actions is to become the lover of the knowledge which is pre-established within him.' So the path towards a total understanding of his own inner intellective self lies via the contemplation of that being that is rooted within Socrates.I also examine earlier Platonist evidence for the text and find little that is not in harmony with late Neoplatonism. (shrink)
Proclus' Commentary on Plato's dialogue Timaeus is arguably the most important commentary on a text of Plato, offering unparalleled insights into eight centuries of Platonic interpretation. This edition offers the first new English translation of the work for nearly two centuries, building on significant recent advances in scholarship on Neoplatonic commentators. It provides an invaluable record of early interpretations of Plato's dialogue, while also presenting Proclus' own views on the meaning and significance of Platonic philosophy. The present volume, the first (...) in the edition, deals with what may be seen as the prefatory material of the Timaeus. In it Socrates gives a summary of the political arrangements favoured in the Republic, and Critias tells the story of how news of the defeat of Atlantis by ancient Athens had been brought back to Greece from Egypt by the poet and politician Solon. (shrink)
Readers of the early dialogues of Plato may soon feel that his Socrates proceeds methodically towards the ultimate embarrassment of his verbal wrestling-partners. Several recurrent tactics are easily identified, giving credence to claims that Socrates has a method. As Aristotle saw, he demanded universal definitions and he employed epagōgē. He elicited from an interlocutor whose belief he would question certain other beliefs, seemingly more fundamental, entailing the contradiction of the original belief. He flattered, hassled, cajoled, and criticized. He employed his (...) own recurrent themes, presented in a positive light, so as to undermine others. More fundamentally, he pursued philosophy neither in solitary meditation, nor out among the masses, but on a one-to-one basis,following an argument through with one individual at a time, as if the nature of philosophy demanded that it be practiced dialogically. (shrink)
: This paper questions whether the relationship between Socrates and his young followers could ever have been treated by Plato in the same fashion as it is treated in the Platonic Theages, where the terminology of synousia is repeatedly applied to it. It argues that in minimizing the part played by knowledge, and in maximizing the role of the divine and of erōs, the work creates a 'Socrates' who conforms to the educational ideology of the Academy of Polemo in the (...) period 314-270 B.C. I indicate how this may assist our understanding of Arcesilaus' Socraticism, and suggest ways in which the work may have found its present place in the corpus. (shrink)