Chapter 4. The Muses and the Tree

Having returned to Athens, Plato lived in the Academy, which is a gymnasium outside the walls, in a grove named after a certain hero, Hecademus, as is stated by Eupolis in his play entitled Shirkers “In the shady walks of the divine Hecademus.” Moreover, there are verses of Timon which refer to Plato “Amongst all of them Plato was the leader, a big fish, but a sweet-voiced speaker, musical in prose as the cicala who, perched on the trees of Hecademus, pours forth a strain as delicate as a lily.”
Diogenes Laertius 3.7, trans. Ricks modified
Platanus haec est … Celebratae sunt primum in ambulatione Academiae Athenis, cubitorum XXXIII radice ramos antecedente
Pliny Natural History 12.3–5
Velut ego nunc moueor. Venit enim mihi Platonis in mentem, quem accepimus primum hic disputare solitum; cuius etiam illi hortuli propinqui non memoriam solum mihi adferunt sed ipsum uidentur in conspectu meo ponere
Cicero On the Ends of Good and Evil 5.1.2
Capra fig4
Pyxis by the Hesiod painter. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Inv. no. 98.887.
  • “The pyxis divides into two panels. In the first a cowherd and a draped female figure flank a cow, whose four legs are still just visible. The female figure framing this composition to the right holds a plektron and a strap in her hand. Turn the vase and the scene that next appears represents a poet seated on a diphros holding a lyre. He is flanked by two Muses [...] Archilochos is shown in the first panel as young cowherd: in the second he is shown holding the Muses’ gift of a lyre, flanked by two Muses. To the right of this grouping are two more Muses.” (Clay 2004:14 and 55).

The Academy and the Heroization of Socrates

In the third chapter, I argued that Plato’s dialogues project the discourse of philosophy onto the magnetic chains of rhapsody described in the Ion. The emotional impact they aroused in their respective audiences was almost identical, though certain significant differences were emphasized. Perhaps the most revealing of these emerges in the cicada myth: the Muses pass on their dialogic song to the cicadas, who are expected to do the same with Phaedrus and Socrates, who in turn will pass on the dialogue to other people in an unending chain. Unlike rhapsodic chains, their philosophical counterpart entails that every “ring” is both the recipient and the producer of ever-new logoi. As we have seen, the Phaedrus epitomizes such a process with the image of “writing in the soul.”
The myth is then modeled on initiation scenes that can be found throughout the Greek poetic tradition. However, again, it is the differences that count, for it is these that mark the memorable birth of philosophic dialogue as opposed to monologic forms of discourse. Given that the myth comes in the middle of the Phaedrus, sandwiched between the erotic speeches of the first half and the dialectical discussion of the second, one might be tempted to regard it as a moment of transition, as if it were meant to suggest that dialectics must eventually supersede myth, or poetry, or at least continuous speech. [1] This line of argument could be continued in such a way as to interpret the cicada myth as a turning point in Plato’s career; this would tally with some influential readings of the Phaedrus. For example, Charles Kahn reads the Phaedrus as a “Janus dialogue”: [2] according to this interpretation, the self-referential reminiscences of the first half of the dialogue refer back to Plato’s earlier output, while the second half points forward to the “dialectical” dialogues of Plato’s later career. [3] However, I cannot subscribe to such an explanation. Regardless of my personal dislike of developmentalism, [4] the cicada myth clearly highlights dialectics as dialogue rather than as the more specific procedure, based on the systematic division of concepts, typical of Plato’s “late” works (or at least of some of them). Moreover, the myth appears to authorize both dialectics and myth: the cicadas and, indeed, any philosophers (potentially at least) who receive the “Muses’ gift,” both sing and dialogue. [5]
One peculiarity of the cicada myth is particularly relevant for my present argument. Initiation narratives are traditionally recounted in the past mode, after the poet has already received the gift of poetry, which, in turn, may serve to “motivate the cult of a poet as a hero.” [6] By contrast, the initiation adumbrated in the Phaedrus remains potential: Socrates and Phaedrus, we are told, will receive the gift of the cicadas-Muses only if they fight back sleep and are willing to dialogue untiringly in the midday heat. [7] Moreover, the Phaedrus does not specify the precise nature of the gift, which in the traditional stories takes the form of divine inspiration and of a symbolic object. What is the reason for this?
Dialoguing in the midday heat is precisely what Socrates and Phaedrus do in the second half of the Phaedrus, when they discuss all forms of speech and writing. Socrates criticizes traditional rhetoric in favor of a form of personal, erotic discourse, which is best exemplified by his second speech in the first half of the dialogue. (Again, the Phaedrus seems to authorize forms of discourse other than Plato’s “late” dialectic.) While famously criticizing writing, moreover, he describes good authors as those who know more than they write and who are aware that their works are ephemeral (like the “gardens of Adonis”), in contrast to the enduring effects of oral, personal speech (the “real crops”). [8]
Thus the Phaedrus draws to its conclusion, though its finale has proved difficult to interpret. I shall start with a close examination of Socrates’ puzzling prayer to Pan, before moving on to a careful reconstruction of its general background. As we shall see, the conclusion of the Phaedrus does not point so much to the “gold of wisdom”, or to a polemical skirmish with Isocrates. Rather, it prefigures the heroization of Socrates and provides insights into the life of the Academy and the role of Plato as a Socratic writer, both within and against the cultural practices of the Athenian polis.

Praying to Pan: The Riddle

A number of prayers can be found in Plato’s dialogues, [9] but that of Socrates to Pan, which coincides with the last words of the Phaedrus, is by far the most famous and puzzling:
ΣΩ. Ὦ φίλε Πάν τε καὶ ἄλλοι ὅσοι τῇδε θεοί, δοίητέ μοι καλῷ γενέσθαι τἄνδοθεν· ἔξωθεν δὲ ὅσα ἔχω, τοῖς ἐντὸς εἶναί μοι φίλια. πλούσιον δὲ νομίζοιμι τὸν σοφόν· τὸ δὲ χρυσοῦ πλῆθος εἴη μοι ὅσον μήτε φέρειν μήτε ἄγειν δύναιτο ἄλλος ἢ ὁ σώφρων. Ἔτ’ ἄλλου του δεόμεθα, ὦ Φαῖδρε; ἐμοὶ μὲν γὰρ μετρίως ηὖκται. ΦΑΙ. Καὶ ἐμοὶ ταῦτα συνεύχου· κοινὰ γὰρ τὰ τῶν φίλων. ΣΩ. Ἴωμεν.
SOCRATES: Dear Pan, and ye other gods who dwell in this place, grant that I may become beautiful within, and that such outward things as I have may be in agreement with the things within. May I count rich the wise; as for the amount of gold, may I have so much of it as no one but the temperate man should be able to bear and carry. Do we still need anything else, Phaedrus? For me that prayer is enough. PHAEDRUS: Let me join in prayer; for what friends have they share. SOCRATES: Let’s go.
Plato Phaedrus 279b–c [10]
Socrates’ words are mysterious enough, yet the problem received “practically no attention” until the 1960s. [11] In the last few decades, however, scholars have become increasingly interested in their significance, so that the passage is now a notorious Platonic crux. [12] Indeed, the only thing scholars can agree upon is its enigmatic nature, so it is generally considered to be a “riddle.” [13] Nevertheless, as Konrad Gaiser and others have sensibly remarked, the prayer must have some “logographic necessity,” [14] since Socrates has made it amply clear that each part of a good logos must have its unique and meaningful place in relation to the other parts. Yet how is the prayer related to the rest of the dialogue? At least three points are worth mentioning, and can serve as the basis for my own discussion.
Firstly, Diskin Clay has noted that the opening words of the prayer, ô phile Pan, are meant to recall the very beginning of the dialogue as well as Socrates’ prayer to Eros at the end of the palinode, i.e. halfway through the Phaedrus. The very first words of the Phaedrus are ô phile Phaidre and, even more importantly, Socrates’ prayer to Eros opens with the words ô phile Erôs. Socrates’ prayer(s), then, must be of some importance for the structure of the Phaedrus as a whole and would, therefore, be consistent with the principle of “logographic necessity.” [15]
A second point, developed by Konrad Gaiser in particular, is that the “gold” in question is a metaphor for wisdom, and that the phrase “bear and carry” conveys the idea of looting. [16] Thus the “temperate man,” somewhat paradoxically, is put forward as a philosopher who successfully performs the Sack of Wisdom. I doubt whether there is any compelling evidence to bear out such an interpretation. Nevertheless, since Gaiser’s exegetical tour de force is widely accepted, I will take it as my own starting point.
The third point is the paradoxical nature of the prayer: Socrates, the man who famously refuted the notion of kalokagathia as that of a correspondence between inner and outer, now seems to be making a plea for overall harmony. However we may interpret the expression “bear and carry,” the emphasis on temperance results in an odd choice: of all the gods, Socrates addresses his prayer to Pan, possibly the least temperate divinity of the entire Greek pantheon. As we know from Socrates’ palinode, this must mean that temperance and (divine) madness must coincide at some higher level. Yet what is the precise role of Pan and the local gods?
Let us suppose for a moment that gold might indeed stand for wisdom: what kind of golden knowledge would Socrates be hinting at? Does gold allude to some secret doctrine, as the Tübingen followers of the “esoteric” interpretation have maintained? Or is it the superior, “royal” knowledge of the philosopher? Both options are hard to accept, since the equation, philosophy = wisdom, was explicitly rejected a few lines earlier (279d). [17] Consequently, “the wise” (τὸν σοφόν, which tends to be translated wrongly as “the wise man”) is either god, or else an ideal projection of the philosopher’s striving for knowledge, which more or less amounts to the same thing. At least, one can accept that the wealth referred to is metaphorical—surely “the wise” is not rich in any material sense—and that Socrates is not begging for money, but asking for something more “spiritual.” [18] However, this is little more than a platitude.
Perhaps the key to the problem lies elsewhere. I shall start by submitting that the link between Socrates’ two prayers (to Eros and to Pan) is even stronger than Clay has suggested. On praying to Eros to avert “termination,” Socrates, among other things, asks him “not to take away or maim (mête … mête)” his erotic expertise, and Phaedrus joins in the prayer (suneuchomai). The same structure is found in the prayer to Pan, in that Socrates asks for a pile of gold that nobody else but the temperate man could bear or carry (mête mête), and Phaedrus readily joins in the prayer (suneuchou). [19] Thus, the reader is more than authorized (by the author himself) to compare the two prayers. Likewise, I invite my own reader to look at the prayers side by side, that is, to look back at the text of Socrates’ prayer to Eros and to its crucial message: by alluding to the story of Thamyris, Socrates is anxious to avert “poetic termination , or, as the cicada myth makes clear in positive terms, to obtain poetic initiation. This, perhaps, is the key to a correct understanding of the meaning of the two most controversial points: namely the word “gold,” and the phrase “bear and carry.”
I shall begin with gold. In the light of numerous parallels, including some Platonic ones, scholars have made it amply clear that gold can be understood metaphorically. Nevertheless, there are two other important details that need to be clarified if we are to have a proper understanding of the term’s connotations.
Firstly, the expression is preceded by a definite article: “as for the amount of gold” (τὸ δὲ χρυσοῦ πλῆθος). Why is there an article? This is an arresting, though neglected, detail, for it is as if Socrates were talking about something we are supposed to know. The word order also contributes to this impression, as “the amount of gold” is placed emphatically in a front position. [20] In fact, this is not the first time that “gold” appears as a motif in the Phaedrus. Almost at the beginning of the dialogue, Phaedrus declares that he would rather be able to learn Lysias’ speech by heart than possess a vast amount of gold, with the Greek polu khrusion closely paralleling Socrates’ final words (228a). Not much later (235d–e), Phaedrus commits himself to a jocular promise: should Socrates succeed in outsmarting Lysias, he, Phaedrus, will set up a life-sized golden statue of Socrates at Delphi. Phaedrus’ promise has been rightly interpreted as “the product of his own habitual vanity and inclination toward hyperbole,” [21] which explains why Socrates replies ironically, saying that Phaedrus really is a “golden boy.” [22] Gold, then, is a recurrent motif, one that is associated with Phaedrus, and with rhetorical competition. [23] Secondly, it is worth noting that “(the) amount of gold” is a fairly common expression. Most of the time, “amount of gold” refers to excessive wealth, [24] which is often compared with something nobler, such as wisdom. [25] This will prove to be an important point, as I shall argue in the next section.

The Gift of Poetry

Given the connotations of the phrase “amount of gold,” Gaiser’s reading begins to look less promising: in our passage, gold is prima facie unlikely to be an unqualified good, or something that the temperate man would be eager to put his hands on. [26] On the contrary, Socrates would seem to be aspiring to something radically different from a vast amount of gold. However, Gaiser’s interpretation would still stand were Socrates’ prayer to be seen as self-consciously paradoxical, though it would still seem very odd that the “lover of wisdom” (philosophos), who was by definition distinct from the accomplished “wise [man],” could ever wish and pray for the “Sack of Wisdom.” Be that as it may, the really vital question is the meaning of “bear-and-carry,” the second controversial expression in the prayer. Are there any compelling reasons why we should understand it in the sense Gaiser declares, namely, as something akin to looting? A passage from the Laws helps to shed light (and cast serious doubts) on any reason why we should:
τῶν δὲ σπουδαίων, ὥς φασι, τῶν περὶ τραγῳδίαν ἡμῖν ποιητῶν, ἐάν ποτέ τινες αὐτῶν ἡμᾶς ἐλθόντες ἐπανερωτήσωσιν οὑτωσί πως· “Ὦ ξένοι, πότερον φοιτῶμεν ὑμῖν εἰς τὴν πόλιν τε καὶ χώραν ἢ μή, καὶ τὴν ποίησιν φέρωμέν τε καὶ ἄγωμεν, ἢ πῶς ὑμῖν δέδοκται περὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα δρᾶν;”
And, if any of the serious poets, as they are termed, who write tragedy, come to us and say “O strangers, may we go to your city and country or may we not, and shall traffic our poetry, what is your will about these matters?”
Plato Laws 817a, trans. Jowett (modified)
The answer to the above question is, of course, in the negative: the lawmakers are themselves tragedians and “authors of the most beautiful tragedy,” i.e. the laws, and, by extension, Plato’s dialogue itself, the Laws. My immediate purpose in quoting the above words, however, is to draw attention to the phrase “traffic our poetry” (τὴν ποίησιν φέρωμέν τε καὶ ἄγωμεν), which proves Gaiser wrong, for this is the same pair of verbs we encounter in Socrates’ prayer, and they certainly cannot mean loot or anything similar in this passage. [27] Of particular interest too, is that the object of the two verbs is “poetry,” which, in the context of Socrates’ prayer, reminds one of Pindar’s Nemean Ode 8.36–39: some men pray for gold, but the poet’s prayer is that he may give pleasure to his fellow citizens by “praising things worthy of praise while blaming the wicked,” [28] that is, by practicing poetry.
As Gaiser himself notes, throughout the Phaedrus the role of the gods is to provide Socrates with poetic inspiration, and it is precisely to this effect that Pan gets his only other mention a little earlier in the dialogue: Socrates credits “Pan son of Hermes” and the “nymphs daughters of Achelous” with granting him the “enthusiastic element” that enabled him to outsmart Lysias. [29] This is hardly surprising, given that nymphs often “act as rustic counterparts of the Muses” [30] in Greek tradition. Even more importantly, at 262d Socrates claims that the local gods, together with the “prophets of the Muses,” i.e. the cicadas, were responsible for his inspiration, and at 278b he mentions the water and the Mouseion of the nymphs, which may be a possible allusion to the local Ilisiades or Ilissides, the Muses of the Ilissus. [31] Finally, we should not forget that the Muses’ gift in the cicada myth was conditional upon Socrates’ and Phaedrus’ willingness to dialogue untiringly in the heat; by the end of the dialogue, this condition has been met.
Bearing these points in mind, we can now reformulate our question: what is Socrates asking from Pan and the local gods? At this point, Socrates has proved to be a better orator than Lysias, and a better poet than such venerable figures as Sappho, Anacreon, Ibycus, and Stesichorus—almost as if he had triumphed in some kind of poetic contest. As Phaedrus suggests, he deserves to be rewarded with gold. But Socrates’ indifference to riches is well known, so the statue mentioned by Phaedrus—indeed a vast amount of gold—is of no interest to him. There is, however, another gift he would find much more appealing, but has not yet received: Socrates still awaits the “gift of the Muses.” Like Pindar, whose prayer contrasts gold and poetry, Socrates is asking for a definitive consecration.
In short, my suggestion is that Socrates is asking the gods to complete his incomplete initiation, and that he is possibly hinting at some kind of symbolic gift, which is the missing detail with respect to the cicada myth, since all the other elements of poetic initiation are there. Thus, everything comes full circle, for Socrates’ prayer brings together the various parts of the Phaedrus and leads to one final, crucial step. In the cicada myth, an important characteristic of Socrates’ initiation is its potential status as against the actual experiences of the poets. At this later point, however, Socrates has met the cicadas’ conditions and is ready to ask the gods to grant him an actual “poetic license,” in order to “bear-and-carry” (that is, to practice) what in the Laws is denied to the tragedians: namely poetry, and perhaps the honors that poets traditionally enjoy.

Heroism in the Making

So far, my argument may be described as fundamentally textual in that I have tried to penetrate the meaning of Socrates’ final words by means of a new set of parallels, taken from both Plato and other sources. The notion of poetic honor, however, calls for broader consideration. Traditional stories of initiation are essentially linked with the idea of heroism: as Aristotle records, Archilochus enjoyed “honors” from his fellow citizens (Ἀρχίλοχον …τετιμήκασι), [32] and the story told by Mnesiepes in the Archilocheion is part of this hero cult. Mnesiepes refers to the initiation of Archilochus as a story of the past: Mnesiepes’ role, as suggested by the Delphic oracle, was to monumentalize the Archilocheion in honor of an indisputably authoritative poet. It is possible, though by no means certain, that Archilochus himself had referred to his initiation, or even to his potential heroization, in some lost poem. [33] However that may be, such a potential heroization is clearly recognizable in the case of Socrates, who looks like a poet (and a hero?) in the making: his initiation story is not recounted ex post, but is seen as a potential outcome, one that Socrates himself prays for, as the final scene of the Phaedrus makes quite clear. How are we to assess this situation? Is there any clear parallel for it?
Unexpected help in contextualizing Socrates as a poet-hero in statu nascenti may be found in a document of exceptional interest. I am referring to the so-called seal of the Hellenistic poet Posidippus (ca. 310–240 BCE), who staged himself as an aspirant hero. [34] Many details of the text, preserved by two precarious wax tablets from the first century CE, remain uncertain, but the overall meaning of the poem, as well as its importance, have now been firmly established. [35] Here is Colin Austin’s improved text, together with his beautiful translation: [36]
εἴ τι καλόν, Μοῦϲαι πολιήτιδεϲ, ἢ παρὰ Φοίβου
     χρυϲαλύρεω καθαροῖϲ οὔαϲιν ἐκλ[ύ]ετε
Παρνηϲοῦ νιφόεντοϲ ἀνὰ πτύχ[α]ϲ ἢ παρ’ Ὀλύμπωι
     Βάκχωι τὰς τριετεῖϲ ἀρχόμεναι θυμέλα[ϲ
νῦν δὲ Ποϲε[ι]δίππωι ϲτυγερὸν ϲυναείρατε γῆραϲ
     γραψάμεναι δέλτων ἐν χρυϲέαιϲ ϲελίϲιν.
λιμπάνετε ϲκοπιὰϲ Ἑλικωνίδαϲ, εἰϲ δὲ τὰ θήβηϲ
     τείχεα Πιπ[λ]ε̣ί̣ηϲ βαίνετε, Καϲταλίδεϲ.
καὶ ϲὺ Ποσείδιππόν ποτ’ ἐφίλαο; Κύνθιε, Λητοῦϲ
     υἵ’ ἑ̣κ̣ά̣ε[ργ]ε̣, β̣έ̣λ̣ο̣ϲ̣ (vacat)
[..].[……].. ρ̣α̣ν̣[.]ν̣ω̣………….
     φήμη τιϲ νιφόεντ’ οἰκία τοῦ Παρίου·
τοίην ἐκχρήϲαιϲ τε καὶ ἐξ ἀδύτων καναχήϲαι[ϲ
     φωνὴν ἀθανάτην, ὦ ἄνα, καὶ κατ’ ἐμοῦ
ὄφρα με τιμήϲωϲι Μακηδόνεϲ, οἵ τ’ ἐπὶ ν̣[ήϲων
     οἵ τ’ Ἀϲίηϲ πάϲηϲ γείτονεϲ ἠϊόνοϲ.
Πελλαῖον γένοϲ ἀμόν· ἔοιμι δὲ βίβλον ἑλίϲϲων
     ἄφνω λαοφόρωι κείμενοϲ εἰν ἀγορῆι.
ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ μὲν Παρίηι δὸϲ ἀηδόνι λυγρὸν ἐφ.[
     νῆμα κατὰ γληνέων δάκρυα κε̣ι̣ν̣ὰ̣ χ̣έ̣ω̣[ν
καὶ ϲτενάχων, δι’ ἐμὸν δὲ φίλον στόμα [ ‒⏖ ‒⏑
     μηδέ τιϲ οὖν χεύαι δάκρυον· αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ
γήραϊ μυϲτικὸν οἶμον ἐπὶ Ῥαδάμανθυν ἱκοίμην
     δήμωι καὶ λαῶι παντὶ ποθεινὸϲ ἐών,
ἀσκίπτων ἐν ποϲϲὶ καὶ ὀρθοεπὴϲ ἀν’ ὅμιλον
     καὶ λείπων τέκνοιϲ δῶμα καὶ ὄλβον ἐμόν.

If, Muses of my city, you have with pure ears
     heard anything beautiful, either from Phoebus of the golden lyre,
in the glens of snowy Parnassus, or near Olympus,
     as you start for Bacchus his triennial ceremonies,
now help Posidippus to bear the burden of hateful old age,
     writing down the song on the golden columns of your tablets.
Leave your Heliconian peaks, and come to the walls
     of Piplean Thebes, Muses of Castalia.
You also loved Posidippus once, Cynthian god, of Leto
     the far-shooting son […] a dart [… … …]
an oracle to the snow-white house of the man from Paros.
May you send forth and sound out from your holy shrine
     such an immortal voice, O Lord, even for me,
so that the Macedonians may honor me, both the [islanders]
     and the neighbours of all the Asiatic shore.
Pellaean is my family. May I find myself unrolling a book,
     placed [37] all at once in the crowded marketplace.
For the Parian nightingale grant […] a mournful
     thread, with empty tears streaming down the eyelids,
and groaning, while through my friendly mouth [… … …]
     and let no one shed a tear. But in old age
may I travel the mystic path to Rhadamnthys,
     longed for by my people and all the community,
on my feet without a stick, sure of speech among the crowd,
     and leaving to my children my house and my wealth.
Posidippus 118 AB, trans. Austin
Posidippus envisages himself as a statue in the agora, honored by his fellow citizens thanks to Apollo and the local Muses, who are summoned to come to his hometown (Piplean Thebes). [38] For this purpose, he reminds the gods of an earlier oracle: in all probability, “the well-known one to Archilochus’ father, to the effect that his son would be ‘immortal and renowned in song among men.’ ” [39] The poet wishes for himself nothing less than heroization: he envisages himself as a poet-hero in the making, and refers to Archilochus as an important antecedent.
Posidippus’ wish features a number of details that recall the cicada myth and Socrates’ prayer to Pan. Firstly, Posidippus addresses his distinctly local divinities with cultic formulae (the optative mode, translated with “may,” and the request to “give”). [40] Secondly, he envisages the possibility of escaping old age through never-ending performance, albeit in the form of a statue unrolling a book. Thirdly, he mentions gold in connection with his poetic achievement. Fourthly, he asks for corporal, as well as “spiritual,” well being. Finally, and most importantly, he superimposes his story onto a pattern of poetic initiation by referring to Archilochus.
Despite the many obvious differences, the Socrates of the Phaedrus shares all these five features. [41] Moreover, in adopting the persona of an inspired poet, he describes the blessed future that awaits the initiated after their death, something that closely resembles Posidippus’ mystical voyage, [42] while it is also relevant that both Poseidippus’ elegy and the myth of the cicadas stress the relationship of philia between man and the Muses. [43] Finally, as we have seen, Phaedrus makes a deliberate hint at the possibility of erecting a statue to celebrate Socrates’ achievements, which also matches Posidippus’ expectations and requests.
Like Mnesiepes and Socrates, Posidippus resorts to familiar patterns in order to stress the specific features of his own poetry. Thus, by means of a contrast between mourning and serenity, he sets his own prospective status as a poet-hero against Archilochus’. It is also very likely that Posidippus would have been familiar, more or less directly, with the heroic statue of Archilochus that inspired an epigram usually attributed to Theocritus. [44] The epigram characterizes Archilochus as, like Posidippus, dear to Apollo and the Muses, and skilled in singing to the lyre, perhaps unlike Posidippus. [45] This strongly suggests that the Parian poet was represented with his famous instrument (the gift of the Muses) in his hands. [46] By contrast, Posidippus envisages himself holding a book roll, and his fellow citizens apparently fulfilled his wish: the Hellenistic statue of “Posidippus,” quite possibly our poet, does in fact hold a book roll. [47]
Like other Hellenistic poets, though with a distinctly heroic tone, Posidippus “foresees, and to some extent constructs, his own passage into the pantheon of the ‘great poets of the past.’ ” [48] At this point, mention of Callimachus’ prologue to the Aetia becomes inevitable. [49] Here, the poet wishes to avert old age (γῆρας) by casting off his old skin (again γῆρας), as cicadas were known to do. [50] To this effect, he claims that Apollo and the Muses initiated him into poetry at an early age, and that this, in turn, allows him to avoid, or at least cope with old age. While probably alluding to both Plato’s cicadas and Posidippus’ seal, [51] Callimachus steers clear of the latter’s mysticism and seems to opt for a more mundane, jocular form of poetic heroization, as his play on the word γῆρας suggests. [52]
Both Callimachus and Posidippus loosely follow the same mythological pattern found in the Phaedrus and in the initiation stories of Hesiod, Epimenides, and Archilochus. [53] Like Socrates, and possibly like Archilochus, they look to their poetic, even cultic future, which they deem to be a consequence of their devotion to the composition of poetry. This final detail cannot apply to Socrates, of course, since he is not a poet. This means we are confronted with the strange scenario of the poetic initiation of someone who is not a poet and who has never written anything. Posidippus has a vision of himself turned into a cultic statue and perpetually reciting his poems, as the book roll suggests. [54] Socrates, in a dialogue that famously criticizes writing, envisages himself as a cicada, perpetually pouring out his dialogic song. In other words, Plato aligns Socrates with a tradition that is structurally alien to him—a paradox that calls for some explanation.

The Cult of Socrates in the Academy

It is important to recognize that Socrates was in fact a cultic figure. We happen to know that he “fell among the lesser deities or daimones, for a shrine dedicated to him (ἱερὸν χωρίον), the Sokrateion, lay outside the city gate on the road up from the Peiraeus (ἐπὶ τὴν πόλιν). A statue of Socrates marked the site (ἡ Σωκράτους στήλη), which also had a sacred spring not far away (οὐδὲ γὰρ πόρρω ἦν ἡ πηγή). Various rites were performed at the Sokrateion. Marinus of Neapolis refers to them as ‘honors’ (τιμαί), but Zosimus of Panopolis uses that expression as a euphemism for sacrifices. It was here that Proclus drank Attic water (Ἀττικὸν ὕδωρ) for the first time upon his arrival in Athens, and entered the city after making the proskynesis to the deity.” [55]
Admittedly, this is evidence from a later period. [56] However, Plutarch also mentions his own and his Platonic friends’ custom of celebrating Socrates’ birthday, which clearly points to a heroic cult. [57] In a seminal publication dedicated to “Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy,” Donald White has argued convincingly that “the later Platonist practice of commemorating Socrates began a decade or two after his death, and […] Plato alludes to the occasion and nature of those rites in the Phaedo by evoking their date, their form, and their function. This passion play … presents Socrates as the founding father or ἥρως κτίστης, not of an educational institution, but of a new way of life devoted to the pursuit and cultivation of wisdom and virtue … On the outskirts of Athens, Plato and his friends laid foundations for science and mathematics, drew plans for reforming education and society, and emulated their intellectual and moral model. They apparently also celebrated his life and memory in annual rites, which included a modest feast but centered on discussion, perhaps prompted by a reading of one of the dialogues that dramatically revive Socrates reasoning with his friends and many others.” [58]
White’s exceptionally well-documented and well-argued essay discusses a number of parallels between the portrayal of Socrates in Plato’s dialogues and the cult of heroes, citing important antecedents and later examples, as well as Plato’s own proposals for heroic rites in the Republic and in the Laws. [59] As he shows, the Phaedo seems to allude to the cult of Socrates much as the Oedipus Coloneus alludes to the cult of Oedipus, [60] a parallel that has a “spatial” dimension as well: as Cicero fondly recalled, the close proximity of the Academy to Colonus stirred “Platonic,” as well as “Sophoclean,” memories in the minds of the visitors. [61]
White is also interested in the differences that distinguish Plato’s “way” to heroization. By performing rites that were usually the prerogative of family members, Plato promoted the cult of Socrates in a potentially universal form, which stands in contrast to the traditionally parochial nature of heroic cults. [62] As such, the cult of Socrates may be said to be “philosophical,” something by no means unknown in the Greek tradition, since figures ranging from Parmenides’ teacher Ameinias to Pythagoras and Anaxagoras had long been the object of heroic worship. [63]
Unlike White’s, my own discussion of the Phaedrus reveals a specific connection with the cults of poets in particular, whose traditions “have their own distinctive set of formulaic themes (initiation, inventions, pupils, poverty, power over nature, etc.).” [64] The coupling of poet and hero is not far-fetched. Socrates was not a poet, and, from this point of view, it might be better to place him in the company of more traditional heroes such as Oedipus. And yet Socrates inspired others to write. The figure of the logos-inspirer is explicitly and emphatically recognized in the Phaedrus, and elsewhere in Plato. And both Socrates, who helps his friends memorize and even write down Socratic conversations (as is clear for the framework of the Symposium and the Theaetetus), and others like Phaedrus, who are “divine” on account of their capacity to impel others to deliver speeches, [65] are such figures. The very boom of Socratic literature in the first half of the fourth century BCE testifies to the ability of the man to inspire composition: in some 50 years, no fewer than 250 Socratic works saw the light, [66] while Socrates’ trial inspired the literary apologies of Plato, Xenophon, Lysias, and Isocrates, arguably the most important writers of their time. [67] Besides, no other thinker or writer was so influential in classical times as to give his name to a literary genre, so that, judged even by later standards, Socrates is no ordinary case. [68] Menippean satire was named after Menippus of Gadara, but Menippus did write satires, that is, works of the kind later named after him. By contrast, Socrates never wrote sokratikoi logoi.
With this background in mind, hardly any reader will be surprised to hear Socrates, the man who never wrote, describe the philosopher at the end of the Phaedrus as someone who is devoted to both oral dialectics (his serious concern, which he compares to agriculture) and written composition (his playful hobby, which he compares to the ephemeral gardens of Adonis). [69] Moreover, he puts an end to the discussion with a warning to Lysias and other prose writers and poets, including Homer, as well as Solon and other lawmakers. His warning is to the effect that they may rightly aspire to the title of philosophos, the highest honor achievable by a human being on this earth, provided they have stored within them a deeper knowledge than transpires from their writings—which was obviously not the case as far as Lysias and Homer were concerned. [70] These figures, however, are all labeled “mere poets,” [71] and clearly function as a foil for the true writer, that is, the philosopher, that is, … Socrates? Most certainly not—Socrates is no writer. The man who combines serious agriculture with ephemeral gardening is clearly Plato, and this is confirmed by the quasi-anachronistic mention of Isocrates, Plato’s rival, a few lines later. [72] Socrates is not a poet and does not write, and yet he juxtaposes himself and his own discourse to poets, writers, and even lawmakers. His status, then, may be described as that of a “half-poet.”
White is once more on the right track when he makes the following observation:
Through Plato’s writing, Socrates thus attains the immortality that epic song awards its heroes. He also continues to exert a potent force at once similar to and very different from that ascribed to heroes in traditional cult, as his disembodied voice reasons dispassionately in the arguments of the dialogues. It is thus more than a humorous aside when Plato has him remark, in the middle of the final argument for immortality, that he is “talking like a book” (Hackforth’s apt rendering of συγγραφικῶς ἐρεῖν, 102d3). It is likewise more than a poignant interlude when he pauses before that argument to advise Phaedo that unless they can “revive” the logos from its apparent state of death, the youth should cut his locks in mourning for its demise rather than for Socrates’ imminent death (89b). Both remarks suggest that Socrates and the text speak as one. [73]
Though this may seem a bit far-fetched at first sight, I believe White’s idea can be proven to be right. [74] One way to do so would be to find appropriate parallels in earlier works. For example, it has been argued that “an ideology reflecting the cult of the poet Hesiod is built into the poetry of Hesiod” [75] and that Empedocles’ mention of the Muse refers to “the promise of mystic communion with the divinity of the Muse, and the poet’s own future acquisition of divinity.” [76] It is also pertinent to recall that “nympholepts”—Socrates claims he is becoming one—were known as semi-poetic figures of cult and were the object of pilgrimage, as Corinne Pache has recently argued on epigraphic and archaeological grounds. [77] However, this would be too long a path to follow, as it involves, among other things, delving into the elusive opacity of heroic cults in the archaic age, [78] and “Homeric reticence about cult.” [79] Later texts, while preserving heroic traditions, tend to be more explicit, which is why I will continue to refer to the Hellenistic Age in this chapter. [80]

Socratic Monuments

I shall begin with a curious document in the Platonic corpus, namely the Second Letter, which probably dates from the second or first century BCE. [81] Building on Plato’s own authorial self-effacement as expressed in the Seventh Letter and in the Phaedrus, and possibly drawing on a tradition observed in the Academy, the letter concludes on an astonishing note, with “Plato” making the following claim:
διὰ ταῦτα οὐδὲν πώποτ’ ἐγὼ περὶ τούτων γέγραφα, οὐδ’ ἔστιν σύγγραμμα Πλάτωνος οὐδὲν οὐδ’ ἔσται, τὰ δὲ νῦν λεγόμενα Σωκράτους ἐστὶν καλοῦ καὶ νέου γεγονότος.
For these reasons I have never written anything about such things, and there is no writing by Plato, and never will be: the ones that now bear his name belong to a Socrates become beautiful and young.
“Plato” Letter 3.314c
Interestingly, this authorial statement fulfills Socrates’ prayer to Pan, since it was Socrates’ precise request to become beautiful (καλῷ γενέσθαι). In the general Conclusion, we shall see how the Phaedo provides us with firm evidence for a construal of the dialogues as a monument designed to host the hero Socrates. Before moving on to Socrates’ prison, however, I shall conclude this chapter with a further suggestion regarding Socrates’ prayer to Pan.
As we have seen, Posidippus wished heroic immortality for himself, and that this took various forms: poetic, insofar as his poetry, written on golden columns, is an implicit defiance of time; mystic, in that the poet is a mystês, an affiliated, and imagines himself travelling to Rhadamanthys; civic, in that Posidippus asks for a statue that may be worshipped in the agora of Pella. Needless to say, these three forms, far from being mutually exclusive, are closely interconnected, and one could fairly say that Posidippus’ heroic status was trinus et unus.
Let us see if this tripartite pattern fits Socrates. [82] “Writing in the soul” amounts to a form of immortality, in that authentic logoi will never cease to proliferate. Mysticism is also relevant in the Phaedrus, since Socrates lingers on the blessed afterlife that awaits philosophic lovers. [83] As for the third point, we have seen how Phaedrus volunteers to have a golden statue sculpted for Socrates (235d–e). Almost immediately after, he reiterates his promise in a jocular, yet striking, manner:
τῶν δὲ λοιπῶν ἕτερα πλείω καὶ πλείονος ἄξια εἰπὼν τῶνδε [Λυσίου] παρὰ τὸ Κυψελιδῶν ἀνάθημα σφυρήλατος ἐν Ὀλυμπίᾳ στάθητι.
… when you’ve made a speech different from Lysias’ in all other respects, which contains more and of greater value, then you’ll stand in hammered metal beside the votive offering of the Cypselids at Olympia.
Plato Phaedrus 236b, trans. Rowe
Socrates is envisaged as a statue, and we know that Socrates did in fact receive such an honor. Scholars have long recognized that ancient portraits of Socrates are of two different types, conventionally called “A” and “B”: “B” portraits are likely to derive from an official statue made by Lysippus, whereas “A” can be traced to a privately sponsored work, which has been identified with a bust of Socrates erected by Plato and his associates. [84] In type “B,” Socrates is “normalized” and portrayed as a good citizen, whereas type “A” is more Silenus-like and wild. Paul Zanker has interpreted the latter as a deliberate provocation aimed at the ideal of the good citizen, by definition “good and beautiful” (kalokagathia). As he sees it, it was a paradoxical “example not of the confirmation of collective norms, but of their denial, in paying honors to Socrates.” [85] The point is worth developing briefly.
In the Apology, Socrates comes up with an odd request: he asks the jury for public maintenance at the Prytanaeum. [86] This may sound outrageous, but it was not unheard of. We know of a number of such requests made by exceptional benefactors, who, according to the law, had to formulate the request in their own name. Lysias himself, a haunting “stone guest” in the Phaedrus, was said to have defended the general Iphicrates against a charge aimed at stripping him of the honors he had successfully asked for, [87] and the story was probably discussed in a lost Socratic work that featured a dialogue between Socrates and Iphicrates himself. [88] Besides the maintenance, the request included the making of a statue and, as another token of honor, a golden crown. [89]
The archetypal benefactors were Harmodius and Aristogeiton, and in the fifth century the honor was reserved for generals only. In a later age, however, the orators Demades and Demosthenes obtained it. [90] The statue of the latter was placed in the agora beside a plane-tree, as Plutarch reports. [91] Later still, and outside Athens, similar honors were given to poets as well. In addition to Posidippus, who (successfully!) requested a statue in a way reminiscent of Athenian law, there is the famous example of Philitas, as recorded by his pupil Hermesianax:
Οἶσθα δὲ καὶ τὸν ἀοιδόν, ὃν Εὐρυπύλου πολιῆται
     Κῷοι χάλκειον στῆσαν ὑπὸ πλατάνῳ
Βιττίδα μολπάζοντα θοήν, περὶ πάντα Φιλίταν
     ῥήματα καὶ πᾶσαν τρυόμενον λαλιήν.

You also know, (Leontion) for whom the townsmen of Eurypylus,
     the Coans, raised a bronze statue under a plane-tree,
Philetas, who sang his love for tall Bittis,
     whilst rescuing all the love terms and all the rare words.
Hermesianax fr. 7.75–78 Powell, trans. Kobiliri
This statue is probably the same as that described in one of Posidippus’ “new” epigrams, where the idea of heroic status is clearly implied, [92] and scholars have argued that the context must have been that of a Mouseion. [93] Philitas himself seems to have suggested preemptively the placing of his statue under a plane-tree, since a fragment of his poetry has a curious reference to “the sitting under a plane-tree.” [94] His pupil may well have made sure that his master’s wish for a heroic statue under a plane-tree was fulfilled. [95]
Now, a simple question arises: where did Plato and his friends place the statue of Socrates? Zanker suggested that “the statue might have been intended to stand in the Mouseion of Plato’s Academy … where we know a statue of Plato himself, put up by the Persian Mithradatas and made by the sculptor Silanion, later stood (Diogenes Laertius 3.25).” [96] Thanks to the testimony of Philochorus, as recorded in a Philodemus papyrus from Hercolanum, we can now confirm Zanker’s idea that an early type “A” really did exist. We can even determine its date with a fair degree of accuracy, for given that Philochorus mentions it in his fifth book, the statue could not date from any later than 359–358 BCE and must have belonged to the Academy’s Mouseion. [97] At this point, it should be remembered that the Academy was renowned for its shady trees, and for its plane-trees in particular. [98] In other words, the portrait was placed in a context very similar to that of Philitas’, and in an ambient closely resembling that of the landscape in Phaedrus, where Socrates is promised an honorary statue and where he prays to Pan and the nymphs of the Mouseion “under a plane-tree.” [99] I find it hard to believe that all this is coincidental. Let us look once more at Timon’s hilarious description of the Academy:
τῶν πάντων δ’ ἡγεῖτο πλατίστακος, ἀλλ’ ἀγορητὴς
ἡδυεπής, τέττιξιν ἰσογράφος, οἵ θ’ Ἑκαδήμου
δένδρει ἐφεζόμενοι ὄπα λειριόεσσαν ἱεῖσιν.

And a plate-fish was leading them all, though it was a speaking one,
and sweet-voiced at that! In his writings, he matches the cicadas,
pouring out their lily song from the tree of Academos.
Timon of Phlius fr. 30 Di Marco
On first discussing the uniquely self-referential quality of the Phaedrus in the Introduction, we found that the plane-tree was constantly associated with Plato, and that Timon made a pun out of “Plato” and “platanos,” a typically Academic tree. We also saw that Timon closely echoes, or parodies rather, the myth of the cicadas in the dialogue. [100] What is even more striking is that the distinction between the setting of the dialogue and the site of the Academy collapse into each other, the unifying element being the plane-tree inhabited by the cicadas. [101] This is all the more interesting insofar as the Phaedrus, as we have seen in the second chapter, conjures up the arboreal cult of Helen. [102] “Helen of the Trees” was strongly associated with plane-trees and she was worshipped both at Therapne, where Helen’s plane-tree stood by the river, and near Platanistas, whose very name points to the suburban wood of plane-trees that was found on the opposite side of the river and which hosted a famous gymnasium. [103] The rustic cult at Therapne was earlier, and its suburban counterpart near Platanistas has been interpreted as its complement. [104]
All of this becomes meaningful once it is realized that the Academy and its suburban gymnasium owed their name to Hecademus, a relatively minor figure, whose sole exploit involved Helen: he saved her by helping her brothers to find her, which explains why the Spartans spared the Academy when they invaded Attica. [105] Like Platanistas, the Academy must have had numerous “trees of Academus,” that is, many plane-trees; [106] yet Timon surprisingly uses a singular form. So why just one plane-tree? This may be a result of Timon’s echoing Iliad 3.152, or of his conflating two settings (the Academy and the Phaedrus). There is, however, another possible explanation. As we have seen, a plane-tree was a feature of the natural setting for statues of heroes. Given his close connections with two heads of the Academy, namely Arcesilaus and Lacydes, [107] Timon was certainly familiar with the school, so his lines, rather than the result of confusion, [108] may be a reference to just a very simple fact: that the portraits of Socrates and Plato, like those of Demosthenes and Philitas, were placed near a plane-tree. [109] Timon clearly identifies the plane-tree and Mouseion of the Phaedrus with the plane-tree and Mouseion of the Academy, and, in so doing, becomes our first testimony of a long-lived tradition whereby plane-trees served as a symbol for Plato’s activity and writings. [110]
My reading of the Phaedrus, like White’s reading of the Phaedo, reflects the cultic reality of the Academy. In short, what I am proposing is a figural or typological reading of the Phaedrus’ setting, which, I believe, Plato’s contemporaries would have been well aware of. In figural reading, be it applied to the Scriptures, the Divine Comedy, or any other work, “the figure itself is real in its own place, time, and right and without any detraction from that reality it prefigures the reality that will fulfill it. This figural relation not only brings into coherent relation events in biblical narration, but allows also the fitting of each present occurrence and experience into a real, narrative framework or world.” [111] The plane-tree and Mouseion of the Phaedrus really existed, and the Athenians knew their whereabouts. [112] At the same time, in Plato’s Phaedrus, they serve the purpose of prefiguring the plane-tree(s) and Mouseion of the fourth-century Academy, which were no less real, but had yet to become a Socratic-Platonic site at the time of the fifth-century “events” of the Phaedrus (the so-called dramatic date). Thus, the relationship between the two sites recalls that between Helen’s two places of worship at Sparta. At the end of the Phaedrus, Socrates prays and bids farewell to the rustic gods before crossing the river to go to the city. In so doing, he points ideally to the future of the Academy and provides a kind of aition for its foundation. [113]
Socrates’ prayer and his potential initiation as a poet-hero in the cicada myth are realized only through the writings of Plato, and, presumably, through the placing of Socrates’ portrait under the plane-tree(s) of the Academy. In the foreshadowing “figure” provided by the Phaedrus, Socrates and his friend read Lysias in the shade of the plane-tree by the local Mouseion; in the foreshadowed “reality” of the Academy’s Mouseion, however, Plato and his associates were likely to have read and recited the cicada-like words of their hero Socrates, as embedded in Plato’s dialogues. In the spirit of the Greek cult of poets, the relevant book rolls must have been integral to the Mouseion, [114] as was the case later for a sacred space marked by a metrical inscription that seems to have a Platonic echo: [115]
ἄλϲοϲ μὲν μούϲαιϲ ἱερὸν λέγε τοῦτ’ ἀνακεῖϲθαι
     τὰϲ βύβλουϲ δείξαϲ τὰϲ παρὰ ταῖϲ πλατάνοιϲ
ἡμᾶϲ δὲ φρουρεῖν· κἂν γνήϲιοϲ ἐνθάδ’ ἐραϲτὴϲ
     ἔλθῃ τῷ κιϲϲῷ τοῦτον ἀν[α]—στέφομεν.

Say that this grove is sacred to the Muses,
     show the books that lie by the planes,
and add that we guard them. And if a true lover
     comes by, we crown him with heather.
In all likelihood, the Academy was not equipped with a proper library. [116] Perhaps it is not too fanciful to imagine that the book rolls containing the dialogues, together with Socrates’ portrait, and later Plato’s, lay by that majestic plane-tree of the Academy, which Pliny recalls in the passage reproduced on the cover page. [117]


We have seen that Socrates’ prayer to Pan is really a request for the “poetic license” required to fulfill the potential initiation of the cicada myth. Viewed in the light of a number of parallels, this points to poetic heroization, and suggests that a cult of Socrates was practiced at the Academy. Hence, his monumentalization in both literary terms (Plato’s dialogues) and in more tangible ways (Socrates’ portrait by a plane-tree). Nevertheless, the many affinities with the cult of poets lead to a strange paradox, for whereas Socrates was not so much a poet as a maieutic logos-inspirer, Plato, Socrates’ complement and mirror-image, is a writer constantly disavowing authorship through stubborn anonymity. As we shall see in the Conclusion, the Phaedo can be seen as the meeting point where these two complementary half-poets merge to form a whole.

Endnote: New “Facts”

  • Socrates’ prayer to Pan is a notorious riddle, which can be better understood in the light of certain neglected data. Firstly, the article in the expression τὸ δὲ χρυσοῦ πλῆθος emphasizes the negative connotations of gold throughout the Phaedrus. Secondly, an examination of the use of χρυσοῦ πλῆθος reveals that it carries equally negative overtones, usually in contrast to other good ones. Thirdly, contrary to Gaiser’s widely accepted interpretation, the hendiadys ἄγω-φέρω may mean something quite different from looting: in the instance found in Laws 817a, it signifies the practice of poetry. Fourthly, the local divinities Socrates prays to are mentioned earlier as capable of conferring poetic inspiration. All this suggests that Socrates is really asking the gods to grant him the status of poet. Socrates’ request for heroic status may be fruitfully compared to those made by other poets, such as that found in Posidippus 118 AB.
  • A new reading of PHerc 1021 has confirmed that a statue representing Socrates was placed in the Academy’s Mouseion between 385 and 359–358 BCE, possibly near a plane-tree. Comparative material such as Hermesianax 75–78 (which mentions the statue of Philitas under a plane-tree) suggests that the Phaedrus’ references to the envisaged erection of a statue to celebrate Socrates’ rhetorical accomplishments (235d–e; 236b) should be read against that historical background. Specifically, the fifth-century setting of the Phaedrus (Mouseion and plane-tree) prefigures the fourth-century cult of Socrates within the precinct of the Academy. Additional evidence (IG XIV 1011) suggests that a plane-tree within the Academy was likely to be the natural place where the book rolls containing Plato’s dialogues were preserved as part of an ongoing cultic tradition.


[ back ] 1. See e.g. Scott 2011, who argues that the second part of the dialogue corrects the thesis that philosophy is a form of madness.
[ back ] 2. Kahn 1996:372.
[ back ] 3. Cairns 2013, too, argues that the Phaedrus “encapsulates Plato’s career” (234) by juxtaposing its three phases: early, middle, and late.
[ back ] 4. Cf. the Introduction to the current volume.
[ back ] 5. Pinnoy rightly stresses the twofold nature of the cicadas’ gift: “Daze gave is inets anders dan de kunst van het dichten (of zingen) en van het dialogeren. De Cicaden zijn van beide activiteiten de inspratiebron (ἐπιπεπνευκότες ἂν ἡμῖν εἶεν τοῦτο τὸ γέρας, 262d); immers, deze gave betekent niet alleen natuurlijke, aangeboren begaafdheid maar is een blijvende gunst, op voorwaarde dat de filosoof, naar het voorbeeld van de Cicaden, twee eigenschappen ontwikkelt: waakzaamheid (οὐ καθευδητέον) en onthechting (μηδὲν τροφῆς δεῖσθαι). Daarom zien de Cicaden nauwlettend toe” (Pinnoy 1986–1987:113). Cf. also Görgemanns 1993:145. One may add that the process of division is integral to the “mythic” section of the Phaedrus as well (e.g. 249b–c, discussed in Chapter 2 of this volume).
[ back ] 6. Nagy 1990:49.
[ back ] 7. 259b.
[ back ] 8. 276b.
[ back ] 9. Jackson 1971 collects and discusses the 21 prayers (some of them mere hints) found in Plato’s dialogues.
[ back ] 10. The translation combines those by Rosenmeyer (1962:34) and Rowe (1988).
[ back ] 11. Rosenmayer 1962:34.
[ back ] 12. Gaiser 1989, itself a very long, dense work, provides an impressive list of relevant contributions.
[ back ] 13. E.g. Clay 1979:353, Griswold 1986:289, Gaiser 1989:109, Yunis 2011:248, and Stavru 2011:271.
[ back ] 14. 264b–e, with Gaiser 1989: “Im Phaidros war zu lesen, eine gut gemachte Rede sei in ihrem Aufbau nicht willkürlich, sondern Anfang, Mitte un Ende müssten wie bei einem lebendigen Organismus aufeinander und auf das Ganze abgestimmt sein” (108). Cf. e.g. Clay 1979:345. For a recent discussion of the principle itself, with interesting parallels both in Plato and in the Hippocratic corpus, see Marino 2011.
[ back ] 15. Clay 1979. I may add that a not altogether different stance can be found in Hermias Alexandrinus (on 279b, p. 279.5–8 Lucarini-Moreschini).
[ back ] 16. A hendiadys or “Doppelausdruck,” for which there are parallels. See e.g. Gaiser 1989:123.
[ back ] 17. Sophos and its cognates are constantly used ironically when applied to men, and with good reason. (See Stavru 2011, and cf. Despotopoulos 1999 for a good survey of Plato’s use of philosophos, including our passage.) Despite what the esoteric interpreters say (e.g. Lavecchia 2006:86), as far as Plato was concerned, no mortal could possibly be described as sophos (wise), but, at the very most, philosophos (lover of wisdom), which is precisely what Socrates says just before uttering his prayer.
[ back ] 18. The best Platonic parallel is possibly Republic 521a. Others are listed e.g. by Gaiser 1989:112n19.
[ back ] 19. Note the exceptional repetition of this rare verb. Plato only uses it here and in the Laws, at 687e, 909e, and 931e.
[ back ] 20. Although he does not comment on either the article or the wording, Dušanić 1980:20, puts forward an explanation that would account for gold: namely that “Isocrates saw material profit from the Samian expedition [366–365], which is probably the immediate explanation of Socrates’ mention of gold at 279c.” Such topical allusions are as hard to disprove as they are to prove, and at best can only provide an added option. When available, internal evidence should be preferred as being more immediate.
[ back ] 21. Ryan 2012:130. Phaedrus’ words call to mind the oath the Athenian archons had to swear upon taking office: ἀναθήσειν ἀνδριάντα χρυσοῦν, ἐάν τινα παραβῶσι τῶν νόμων (Aristotle The Athenian Constitution 7.1).
[ back ] 22. At 236b Phaedrus reiterates his promise, although this time he imagines a votive offer at Olympia, possibly cast in bronze.
[ back ] 23. Cf. 240a (Socrates’ first speech), where it designates material riches. There are no other instances of the word in the Phaedrus.
[ back ] 24. A TLG survey of the relevant terms leaves little doubt, and the skeptics should take a look for themselves. For example, Plutarch’s Aristides (10.5) says the following: “Go and tell the Spartans that for no amount of gold, such as that one may find either upon or underneath the earth, shall we ever surrender the freedom of the Greeks.” This defiant declaration clearly demonstrates the note of contempt the expression conveyed.
[ back ] 25. Particularly illuminating is Plutarch How the Young Man Should Study Poetry 20c–d. The passage features two poetic quotations. In both quotes, a “bad” line is immediately followed by a “good” one, which, according to Plutarch, “corrects” the former, and rehabilitates the poetic work. The second example, taken from an unknown play by Euripides, features the very same vocabulary of Socrates’ prayer, reproducing the same contrast whereby the idea of rejoicing in “amounts of gold” (χρυσοῦ … πλήθει) is corrected by the claim that it is shameful to be rich and ignorant (σκαιὸν τὸ πλουτεῖν κἄλλο μηδὲν εἰδέναι). Another passage bearing striking resemblances to Socrates’ prayer is an epigram, which, according to Athenaeus (11.465c–e), is reported by Harmodius from Leprea. Commenting on the licentiousness of the Arcads from Phigaleia, the epigram makes a sinister and overtly impious association between a man who is ironically called σώφρων in that he owned riches and πλῆθος ἀπειρέσιον … χρυσοῦ. The epigram is possibly meant to recall Socrates’ prayer.
[ back ] 26. Moreover, there are two more clear instances that witness against it. The first comes in Hermias Alexandrinus, who in his commentary on the Phaedrus interprets the expression in the “normal” way (on 279c, p. 279.25–27 Lucarini-Moreschini). The second, more important example comes from Plato himself, who, at the beginning of the probably authentic Letter 6, suggests that good friends are no match for any “amount of gold” (322c–d).
[ back ] 27. As Rosenmeyer points out: “the notion intended is that of doing business, of give and take, of setting up and taking down, of some kind of compound and commutative activity” (Rosenmeyer 1962:39). Gaiser himself, of course, knows this passage, yet he does not discuss it directly and merely says that the two verbs are “nicht allzu weit von der üblichen Bedeutung” (Gaiser 1989:123).
[ back ] 28. … χρυσὸν εὔχονται, πεδίον δ’ ἕτεροι ἀπέραντον, ἐγὼ δ’ ἀστοῖς ἁδὼν καὶ χθονὶ γυῖα καλύψαι, αἰνέων αἰνητά, μομφὰν δ’ ἐπισπείρων ἀλιτροῖς.
[ back ] 29. 263d. The inspiring role of Pan and the Nymphs is not surprising. Note that, according to Pausanias, Pan used to utter oracles through the nymph Erato, his prophet (8.37.11; the tradition is, of course, Arcadian). A nymph Erato is found in the Theogony as well (246), and there are other cases where the names of the Muses overlap with those of the nymphs. Cf. Kambylis 1965:38–47. As for Pan, Cratylus 408b–d connects it with logos (cf. the useful discussion in Werner 2012:230–235).
[ back ] 30. Larson 2001:52, quoting Theocritus 7.91–92 and referring to 1.12, 4.29, and 5.140.
[ back ] 31. Cf. Marchiandi 2011: “Anche le Muse erano annoverate tra le divinità dell’Ilisso, con l’epiclesi locativa Ilisiades o Ilissides. Un altare è ricordato da Pausania (1.19.5); nel II secolo d.C. il loro sacerdote aveva un seggio riservato nel teatro di Dioniso (IG II2 5067; cf. F17). Il loro culto, tuttavia, parrebbe già attestato negli anni ’20 del V secolo a.C. in un rendiconto delle finanze sacre ateniesi (IG I3 369.66,86, cf. Pl[ato] Ph[ae]dr[us] 262d, 237a, 259b; H[ero]d[ia]n[us] De prosodia catholica Lentz; Him. 69.9 Colonna; St.Byz. s.v. Ilissos)” (Marchiandi 2011:482).
[ back ] 32. Rhetoric 1398b10–12.
[ back ] 33. Cf. Aloni 2011. It is possible that another moment of Archilochus’ initiation, namely his bargaining with the Muses, was the theme of one of Archilochus’ own poems, i.e. fr. 35 W. See Cunha Corrêa 2008. The exchange is possibly: “la trasposizione narrativa di un evento sacrificale, ovvero la trasfigurazione del sacrificio dell’animale in onore delle dee tesmoforiche” (Ornaghi 2009:144–145).
[ back ] 34. Cf. Clay 2004:83–86, where he also discusses another example of an aspirant hero (Clay’s own epithet), namely, Antigonos of Knidos, known to us only through an inscription (IKnidos no. 303). In an earlier age, Theodectas of Phaselis (ca. 375–334 BCE) “conceived a plan to honor himself in death that is more elaborate than the later ambitions of Poseidippos of Pella. At the site of his grave along the Sacred Road to Eleusis, he set up statues of the most famous poets along with a statue of himself” (Clay 2004:89).
[ back ] 35. See Di Nino 2010:61–65, for a status quaestionis (with bibliography).
[ back ] 36. Austin and Bastianini 2002 (118).
[ back ] 37. Greek κείμενος. I have substituted “placed” for Austin’s “standing,” since the verb, as Dickie points out: “denotes placing a statue. A brief perusal of Pausanias’ usage settles the meaning of the term and makes it quite clear that Posidippus is talking about a statue of himself. The term tells us nothing about how Posidippus will be represented” (Dickie 1994:381).
[ back ] 38. “Piplea was a place in Macedonia associated with the Muses, so ‘Piplean Thebes’ must surely be a poetic description of Pella itself, the poet’s own birthplace” (Austin 2002:17).
[ back ] 39. Clay 2004:30, cf. Klooster 2011:180. This oracle figures in Mnesiepes’ account too. Moreover, as Clay points out, “in his desire for heroic status in death, Poseidippos might be echoing the earlier vision of Simonides, who in fragment 23 of P. Oxy. 2327 seems to imagine himself travelling by ship to the Islands of the Blest, where not only the young Echekratides of Thessaly awaits him but perhaps Achilles and Patroklos as well” (Clay 2004:30). According to Lloyd-Jones 1963, the oracle referred to by Posidippus is the same as that which persuaded Mnesiepes to monumentalize the Archilocheion (178–179). (This seems less likely, nor would it change my point significantly.)
[ back ] 40. Local or made such, like the Muses. On the strongly local color of the elegy and its references to Pellaean cultic practices, see Rossi 1996.
[ back ] 41. To summarize: (1) Socrates reveres local divinities; (2) refers to dialectical teaching as a path to immortality (cf. 277a ἀθάνατον); (3) asks for a reward of gold; (4) asks for harmony between body and soul; (5) conforms to the pattern of poetic initiation.
[ back ] 42. Posidippus’ “mystic path” (μυστικὸν οἶμον, 25) allows for a double meaning: “Così anche οἶμος, oltre ad indicare la ‘via’ che conduce a Radamanto, non può non mantenere la peculiarità che ha di indicare soprattutto il sentiero della poesia, la via del canto” (Angiò 1997:10).
[ back ] 43. Cf. verse 9 καὶ σὺ … ἐφίλαο, which points to both Apollo and the Muses, and Phaedrus 259b φιλόμουσον ἄνδρα.
[ back ] 44. Palatine Anthology 7.664 = Gow 21 = Gow-Page 14. In the Anthology, the epigram is wrongly attributed to Leonidas. On the overall meaning of the epigram, see Aloni 1984, with further bibliography. On its “authenticity,” whether it is a real inscription or a literary composition, see Rossi 2001, who favors the former (329–330).
[ back ] 45. The little testimony we have of the life of Posidippus makes no mention of music. Instead, he seems to be called “maker of epigrams,” ἐπιγραμματοποιός (Testimonium 3 AB).
[ back ] 46. Cf. Corso 2008.
[ back ] 47. A Roman copy of the statue, complete with an inscription bearing the name Posidippus, is preserved in the Vatican Museums, inventory number 735. See Dickie 1994:372–383 and Clay 2004:31–32.
[ back ] 48. Hunter 2001:251. Hunter is concerned with Meleager (Palatine Anthology 7.419), but his article also discusses Posidippus and Callimachus.
[ back ] 49. There is no space here to address any of the questions posed by this most troubled text. See Herder 2012, as well as Massimilla 1996, for a primary orientation.
[ back ] 50. An echo from Plato’s cicada myth is very likely. See e.g. Acosta-Hughes and Stephens 2012:36–39.
[ back ] 51. Di Benedetto 2003 makes the case for Posidippus’ priority and summarizes the analogy between Callimachus’ proem and Posidippus’ seal as follows: “Ma ecco l’elenco dei punti di contatto tra l’Elegia di Posidippo e la parte proemiale degli Aitia di cui abbiamo detto: 1) Invocazione delle Muse; 2) precedenti esperienze poetiche; 3) le tavolette; 4) canto e vecchiaia; 5) l’intervento di Apollo; 6) evocazione di regioni del Nord; 7) il culto bacchico; 8) l’isola di Paro; 9) αὐτὰρ ἐγώ a proposito di avviarsi” (Di Benedetto 2003:108). Cf. also Angiò 1997.
[ back ] 52. Theocritus 7 (cf. the following note) is also more mundane than Posidippus’ seal (cf. Lombardi 2009). For Callimachus’ reshaping of initiation stories, cf. Tulli 2008a.
[ back ] 53. As does Theocritus 7, where, according to the general consensus, the figure bestowing the gift of poetry is “disguised” as a goatherd, namely Lycidas. The real identity of the goatherd is anyone’s guess. The old hypothesis of a “mascarade bucolique” pointing to some fellow poet having now been discarded (see Gow 1952:129–130), scholars have recently suggested Pan (e.g. Clauss 2003), Dionysus (e.g. Moscadi 2007), Apollo (e.g. Williams 1971 and Livrea 2004), or perhaps no one in particular (e.g. Fantuzzi 2008:581) insofar as Lycidas is the “Musterbukoliker” (Puelma 1960:151). The idyll is strongly influenced by Plato, and by the Phaedrus in particular, as regards the landscape, the erotic motif, and the narrative technique: see Pearce 1988, Billault 2008, and Montes Cala 2009. On the other hand, it has been suggested that a pre-literary form of Sicilian bucolic poetry might have influenced the composition of the Phaedrus, as Murley 1940 famously argues.
[ back ] 54. As for the actual statue, Posidippus does not seem to be portrayed in the act of reading the book roll. Rather, the position of the book roll points to “interrupted reading,” according to an iconographic tradition that intimated intellectual prestige and was fully compatible with the representation of a poeta recitans. Cadario 2001 provides a perceptive survey of the “gesto della lettura interrotta.”
[ back ] 55. Trombley 1993:312, quoting Marinus The Life of Proclus 10.
[ back ] 56. Moreover, the site in question is on the road from Peiraeus to the city; thus, it could not have been Plato’s Academy. Giannoulidou 1979, however, favors an early date and discusses the topography of the site. Masullo 1985 wonders whether or not “si tratti della statua di Lisippo” (131, on 251).
[ back ] 57. Table Talks 717b.
[ back ] 58. White 2000:168.
[ back ] 59. Wypustek 2013:65–95, provides an up-to-date, illuminating discussion of private hero cults. The evidence he has collected, together with his conclusions, are wholly compatible with White’s interpretation.
[ back ] 60. The last days in the lives of both figures determine and (to a certain extent) prepare the way for their respective cults. This paradigm can be seen at work elsewhere too: Ajax’s ambiguous speech in Sophocles’ tragedy (646–692) can be construed precisely in this way (see Mambrini 2011).
[ back ] 61. On the Ends of Good and Evil 5.1.3, i.e. immediately after the passage quoted in the cover page.
[ back ] 62. Heroic cults could be parochial and even explicitly exclusive. Cf. Ekroth 2009:138–139.
[ back ] 63. Diogenes Laertius 9.21; Aristotle Rhetoric 1398b16–17. For Pythagoras, see the sources assembled and discussed by Boyancé 1937:233–241.
[ back ] 64. Kivilo 2010:222. However, I do not share Kivilo’s skepticism with regards to the heroic cults of poets in the archaic and classical ages.
[ back ] 65. Phaedrus 242b. Cf. e.g. Phaedo 85c.
[ back ] 66. See Vegetti 2006:119–120, who builds on a number of works by Livio Rossetti (see Rossetti 2011). Remarkably, the figures are adjusted downwards. Rossetti 2008 points out that sokratikoi logoi brought about “un sostanziale oscuramento di altri modi più tradizionali di fare filosofia” (39).
[ back ] 67. Besides the Apology of Plato and that of Xenophon (see e.g. Danzig 2010:19–68) and the little we know about the speech composed by Lysias (cf. Rossetti 1975), I am of course referring to Isocrates’ Antidosis. As Nicolai puts it: “Isocrate, che si presenta come educatore sommo, scrive per se stesso quella apologia—che è insieme solenne encomio—che Socrate, l’educatore degli Ateniesi nell’immaginario collettivo, non aveva mai scritto e che dopo la sua morte era stata redatta da Platone” (Nicolai 2004:99). It should be noted, moreover, that there is clear evidence of Socrates’ direct influence on Isocrates, as Sarri 1974 has shown.
[ back ] 68. Cf. Clay 1994, who notes that no other philosopher “has lent his name to a genre of literature that is the mimesis of a philosophical life” (23).
[ back ] 69. Ballériaux aptly points out that “dans les deux cas, ce que Socrate compare, ce sont des activités, différentes en sérieux et en valeur, d’un même homme” that is “Platon lui-même qui, à la fois, a écrit pour son plaisir—et pour le nôtre—et a, pour ensemencer leur âme, réunis des disciples choisis auxquels il prodiguait son enseignement à l’Académie” (Ballériaux 1987:163).
[ back ] 70. 278b–d. Ford 2010 rightly compares this passage to Isocrates Antidosis 45, which features a list of prose genres that is “merely a foil to Isocrates’ own oratory” (233). Ford goes on to say that “Lysias heads Plato’s list because his ἐρωτικὸς λόγος had prompted the distinction, but here he represents the class of ‘those who write prose’ (συντίθησι λόγους) as distinct from poets. Next, with a formalistic thoroughness that is either prophetic or reminiscent of Poetics, Plato subdivides poets into composers of ‘bare’ poetry without melody and those of ‘song.’ Plato’s categories are at bottom the same as Aristotle’s; he differs in that he wants to set his own writing above all other texts and so takes in all artistic prose regardless of its mimetic nature” (Ford 2010:234).
[ back ] 71. Cf. 258b. Alcidamas does the same in his attack against writers. Cf. Roscalla 1997:69–72.
[ back ] 72. Cf. the Introduction to the current volume.
[ back ] 73. White 2000:161–162. Cf. Tomin 2001:172.
[ back ] 74. Boter 2013 (a provisional version of the author’s ongoing research) also believes that “both the Phaedo and the Symposium can be regarded as monuments for Socrates.” (91). Boter convincingly interprets Symposium 211e–212a as a reference to Socrates’ posthumous immortality.
[ back ] 75. Nagy 1990:48. The argument is further developed, as regards Works and Days 42–105, by Bershadsky 2011 (quoting Nagy’s words at page 6).
[ back ] 76. Hardie 2013:238–239.
[ back ] 77. Pache 2011 (see Chapter 2).
[ back ] 78. This opacity is due to the well-known “contrast … between the literary (or poetic) and the archaeological record” (Clay 2004:65).
[ back ] 79. Bravo 2009:17, with a useful discussion that duly compares the classic (and conflicting) explanations provided by Martin West (1978) and Gregory Nagy (Bravo quotes from the original 1979 edition of Nagy 1999). In the second part, Bravo addresses the arduous “challenge” of “pinpointing the earliest examples of hero cult in the archaeological record” (Bravo 2009:18).
[ back ] 80. For example, Wypustek writes that “possible (and debated) evidence of heroization in the strict sense of the word, i.e. the hero-cult, consists of a wide array of testimonies, dated to Classical, Hellenistic, and Greek-Roman periods. It is sometimes thought to be found in heroic iconography on funerary reliefs. Later (Hellenistic) instances include the word ἥρως appearing on tombs and hero-cult foundations recorded in wills; funerary epigrams with heroic themes make a slightly later (Greek-Roman period) phenomenon” (Wypustek 2013:65). As for archaic poetry, one can detect indirect allusions to hero cults. Thus, Dué and Nagy 2004 (with references to previous works by both authors) note that “the lamentation for heroes within epic is a reflection of ritual lamentation on the part of the community outside of epic,” pointing to “hero cults of Achilles in the classical and even postclassical periods” (Dué and Nagy 2004:69).
[ back ] 81. For the dating, see Isnardi Parente 2002:13.
[ back ] 82. It is beyond my scope to discuss Socrates’ immortality as referred to in other dialogues, notably in Symposium 212a (for two contrasting views, see Tuozzo 2013, who holds immortality to be educative talk, and Vegetti 2013, who believes it to be contemplation).
[ back ] 83. Note that in the Apology Socrates expresses a desire to meet a just judge such as Rhadamanthys (41a). The Apology (along with its sequel the Phaedo) is full of Socrates’ hopes for a blessed afterlife. (For references to eschatological ἐλπίς cf. Apology 40c, 41c; Phaedo 63c, 114c. Cf. Phaedo 114d and 114e.) See Slings’s discussion on the relevant passages from the Apology (1994).
[ back ] 84. Zanker 1995. See Charalabopoulos 2012:166–173, with added bibliography.
[ back ] 85. Zanker 1995:32.
[ back ] 86. 36d–37a.
[ back ] 87. The authenticity of the speech (fr. 40–49 Carey) is disputed. Cf. Gauthier 1985:177–180, who concludes that “l’attribution à Lysias ne ferait guère de difficulté” (180). C. Carey summarizes the question concisely as follows: “Oratio in anno 371 habita est. De Lysia auctore ambigebatur apud scriptores antiquos. Propter tempus a Lysia abiudicante Dionysio, Paulus Germanus authentiam vindicabat. Iudicium non dat Aelius. Lysiae sine dubitatione tribuit auctor vitarum decem oratorum, sed Aristotelem quidem ut Dionysius apparet existimasse ipsum Iphicratem scipsisse orationem” (Carey 2007:336).
[ back ] 88. The existence of such a Socratic work is suggested by a remark made by Iphicrates in Diogenes Laertius 2.30, where a list of people who had been exposed to Socrates’ protreptic or apotreptic influence is drawn up. All the examples seem to be linked with Socratic works, so this is probably the case with Iphicrates as well. See Patzer 1985. For a reconstruction of Iphicrates’ career, see Bianco 1997.
[ back ] 89. For a detailed discussion of this tradition, see Gauthier 1985, who defines this institution as “une procédure assez répandue” (112). Gauthier discusses both the literary and epigraphic evidence. As regards Athens in the Classical and Hellenistic Ages, he examines all the known cases, namely Harmodius and Aristogiton, Cleon, Conon, Iphicrates, Chabrias, Timotheus, Demades, Lycurgus, Philippides of Paiania, Philippides of Cephale, Demosthenes, Callias of Sphettos, Phaedrus of Sphettos, and Cephisodorus (Gauthier 1985:79–112).
[ back ] 90. “Plutarch” Lives of the Ten Orators 847a.
[ back ] 91. Life of Demosthenes 31.2. For an analysis of the statue, sculpted by one Polyeuktos and easily recognizable in certain Roman copies, see Zanker 1995:83–87, with added bibliography. The statue was meaningfully close to that of Lycurgus with Eirene holding their child Plutus. Demosthenes had in fact pleaded the cause of Lycurgus’ children. See Worthington 1986.
[ back ] 92. Posidippus 63 AB. As Clay 2004 remarks, “before the definitive publication of Poseidippos’ epigram on a statue of Philitas on Kos, it had been suggested that Propertius’ mysterious invocation to the sacred rites of Philitas (Coi sacra Philitae) was an indication of Philitas’ wish to be honored by a hero cult in his native island. Line 4 of the new epigram might well strengthen this conjecture. Here Poseidippos says of the sculptor, Heketaios, that he conveyed nothing of the form of heroes in rendering the old man in bronze (ἀφ’ἡρώων δ’οὐδὲν ἔμειξ{ε} ἰδέης), a description that seems to indicate a new manner of representing the poet as heros” (Clay 2004:30–31).
[ back ] 93. See Hardie 1997, and, after the publication of the new Posidippus, Prioux 2007:23–27. The statues of aspirant heroes from the so-called “Mouseion of Epiktêta” constitute an interesting parallel (see Clay 2004:72–74).
[ back ] 94. Fr. 14 Powell θρήσασθαι πλατάνῃ γραίῃ ὕπο.
[ back ] 95. It is not clear, however, whether the text implies that the statue represented Philitas in the act of singing, i.e. whether μολπάζοντα is governed by στῆσαν or by οἶσθα. Scholars are divided on this point. A positive answer would amount to a stronger case for a heroic context, in that the analogy with the seal of Posidippus would be greater. (Cf. Hollis 2006 and, for the style, Kobiliri 1998 ad loc.)
[ back ] 96. Zanker 1995:38. The exact location of the Mouseion is not known. See Billot 1983:743–744 and Charalabopoulos 2012:173n46, with more bibliography.
[ back ] 97. The existence of type A was previously posited on merely stylistic grounds (this is the reconstruction still found in Zanker 1995:57–63). PHerc 1021 Col. II puts the case for the new reconstruction, as is clear from Augustin Speyer’s translation: “ ‘But [according] … to others … philanthropy … to the ….’ Whilst Dikaiarchos was writing such things, Philochorus joked laughingly in the sixth book of the Atthis: ‘He, Plato, obtains that all more or less in passing, and does not take it … knowing …’ And in the fifth book of the Atthis, he writes, ‘And they put up an image of Socrates, a bronze bust, on which was written: SOTES MADE IT. On the sides … there were inscribed numerous names [words?] … that he has ordered to put up at Athens an image, a bronze bust, on which was written THIS IMAGE… besides the Museion, but he [ = Plato] was from the demos Kollytos. He [ = Philodemus’ source] says, he [ = Plato] died in the year of Theophilos, having lived 82 years.” (Speyer 2001:85–86. The crucial supplements at lines 13–15, ἀνέθε̣[σε]ν̣ εἰκό̣[να / Σ[ω]κράτους π̣[ροσω]π̣ον̣ [χαλ / κο̣ῦ̣ν are made possible by the fact that the phrase is found again at lines 26–28: ἀνα̣θή / [σ]ε̣ιν Ἀθ[ηνε]σ̣[ι]ν̣ [εἰ]κόνα πρό / σω̣πο̣ν χαλκοῦν̣). Besides Speyer 2001 and Dorandi 1991:30–31 and 86–87, see Méndez-Angeli 1992:250–251. (On palaeographical grounds, they rule out the previous reconstruction whereby the statue portrayed Isocrates rather than Socrates.) See also Voutiras 1994, who concludes that the very same portrait is referred to twice. Charalabopoulos 2012:171–174 provides a full interpretation.
[ back ] 98. Cf. the Introduction to the current volume.
[ back ] 99. 278c. Cf. Gaiser 1989:133.
[ back ] 100. Cf. Di Marco 1989 ad loc.
[ back ] 101. As Vallozza 2011 notes, Timon “trasferisce nell’Accademia gli alberi e le cicale del Fedro” (122). A conflation of the two settings is also implicit in Diogenes Laertius 3.8, who resorts to Timon’s lines, as well as to Eupolis 36 PCG, in order to introduce Praxiphanes’ On the Poets, where, says Diogenes, Plato hosted Isocrates in a field. Vallozza thus suggests that the setting of Praxiphanes’ On the Poets was the Academy, described through the words of the Phaedrus. In her edition of Praxiphanes, Matelli 2013 fully endorses this view (281–284).
[ back ] 102. Cf. Chapter 2 in the current volume.
[ back ] 103. Cf. Scholia on Theocritus 18.22–25 (p. 322 Wendel).
[ back ] 104. See the illuminating discussion in Arrigoni 2008:70–76 (originally published in 1985).
[ back ] 105. See Plutarch Life of Theseus 32, with Billot 1989:733–735 and Caruso 2013:48.
[ back ] 106. On the arrangement of the Academy’s plane-trees, cf. Arrigoni: “ Ὡς πρὸς τὴν διάταξιν τῶν δένδρων εἶναι δυνατὸν νὰ βεβαιωθῇ μετ’ ἀρκούσης ἀσφαλείας ὅτι οἱ δενδρόφυτοι δρόμοι (περίπατοι) τῆς Ἀκαδημίας περιεβάλλοντο κατὰ τὰς πλευράς τῶν ὑπὸ μακρῶν σειρῶν πλατάνων, συμφώνως πρὸς συνήθειαν ἐπικρατήσασαν κατὰ τὸν ε’ αἰ. π.Χ. Κατὰ τὰ ἄλλα ὁ Κίμων εἶχεν ἐπίσης κοσμήσει τοὺς χώρους τῆς ἀγορᾶς μὲ πλατάνους” (Arrigoni 1969–1970:359).
[ back ] 107. Diogenes Laertius 9.115; Athenaeus 10.438a. As Caruso makes clear, no significant change marked the arrangement of the Academy “per tutto il periodo compreso dalla fondazione alla direzione di Filone di Larissa (110–87 a.C.)” (Caruso 2013:193).
[ back ] 108. As Reale 1998 apparently believes (xxv–xxvi).
[ back ] 109. As Billot 1989 aptly notes, “Favorinus dit qu’un certain Mithradatès, fils d’un Orontobatès également inconnu, dédia aux Muses, à l’Académie, une statue de Platon réalisée par Silanion (fr. 43 Amato). Ce que nous savons de la carrière de Silanion permet de dater l’érection de la statue aux environs de 360. Le “chaldéen” qui, selon Philppe d’Oponte, reproduit par Philodème, adoucit de ses chants les derniers moments de Platon (PHerc 1021, col. III, 34–43, et col. V, 1–22 Gaiser [pages 13–14 Mekler]) était peut-être, d’après K. Gaiser … Mithradates lui-même. Dans ce cas, conformément à l’éthique de Platon, Silanion n’aurait exécuté son portrait qu’après la mort du philosophe en 348/7 … cette statue-portrait ne pouvait alors se dresser que dans le mouséion de la proprieté privée de Platon” (Billot 1989:781–782).
[ back ] 110. Cf. the Introduction to the current volume, pages 16–18.
[ back ] 111. Frei 1974:153.
[ back ] 112. It was in fact a sacred area, “a grove next to the Callirrhoe spring on the Agrae side of the Ilissus River,” a setting designed “to evoke the Lesser Mysteries of Eleusis, which were celebrated there” (Nelson 2000:43). Nelson shows that the Phaedrus resonates with the lesser mysteries in a number of ways. Rinella argues that the Phaedrus entails “the superimposition of philosophy’s metaphysical epopteia on top of the original, drug-induced Eleusinian epopteia” (Rinella 2000:75–76).
[ back ] 113. The crossing of the river is emphatically mentioned at 242a and again at 242b, when Socrates claims that his daemonic sign has persuaded him to postpone his return to the city. The Academy, of course, was not near the Ilissus.
[ back ] 114. As Clay 2004 reminds us, “poetry was also preserved in places associated with the cult of the poets” (82).
[ back ] 115. CLE 886 and CIG III 6186 = Kaibel 829 = IG XIV 1011. The relevant stele (“II fere saeculi,” according to Kaibel), was found in the eighteenth century in the area of Colonna, ancient Labicum ad Quintanas (see the entry in CIG) along with a second one inscribed with a Latin version (Hunc · sacrum · Aoniis · lucum dic · esse · Camoenis, / ostendens · libros · heic ·prope sub · platanis. / Nos · agere · excubias · atque huc · si · dignus · amator / se · ferat · huic · hederae mollia · serta · damus). Of particular interest is the motif of the “authentic” lover. The phrase γνήσιος ἐραστής was originally a Platonic iunctura (Lysis 222a) and, according to the TLG, is not to be found elsewhere in poetry. Moreover, it recurs mainly in the Platonic tradition, and is explicitly associated with Plato and Socrates. Such a phrase, in conjunction with the plane-trees and the Mouseion, makes it very likely that the author has Plato and the Phaedrus in mind.
[ back ] 116. Caruso 2013 cautiously concludes that “per la scuola di Platone … l’esistenza stessa di una biblioteca … è un fatto ancora da dimostrare” (116).
[ back ] 117. References to “Platonic” plane-tree(s) are found in Cicero (cf. De Oratore 1.7.28, with González Rendón 2012) and intensify in second-century Roman culture. Not only literary texts (see the Introduction to the current volume), but even everyday objects can serve as evidence of Plato’s Academy. Thus, Simon 2002 discusses what she refers to as a “lychnouchos platonikos,” i.e. a bronze putto representing Eros and crowned with plane-tree leaves, which Simon dates to the second century and interprets as an allusion to Plato’s plane-trees. In such an atmosphere of revival, at a time when “tourism” in Greece was a long-established phenomenon, the epigram may well have been a reproduction of an Academic original. If so, the otherwise elusive pronoun of the third line of the epigram (ἡμᾶϲ-nos) could stand for the portraits of Socrates and Plato, the “guardians” of the Mouseion and of the book-rolls. However, one should not forget that plane-trees were also a prominent feature of Pompey’s portico, where “stately plane trees as living colonnades dominated ordered boxwood topiaries, myrtle and palm and laurel trees and vines, and living birds brought to life the paradeisos conceit enacted in the theater’s beast shows” (Kuttner 1999:347; Kuttner discusses a number of poems probably related more or less to Pompey’s plane-trees).