The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

  Nagy, Gregory. 2013. The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013. Abridged edition 2019.

Hour 22. The living word I: Socrates in Plato’s Apology of Socrates

[[“It is, in short, music which observes neither end nor beginning, music with neither real climax nor real resolution …” – Glenn Gould 1956, concerning the Goldberg Variations of Johann Sebastian Bach (there are 32 of them: “Aria” plus 30 variations plus “Aria”)]] [[This epigraph is excluded from the printed version.]]

The meaning of daimonion

22§1. The key word for this hour is daimonion, which is a neuter adjective derived from the noun daimōn. In Hour 5§1, we saw that this word daimōn (plural daimones) is used to refer to an unspecified god or hero intervening in human life. By contrast, theos, ‘god’, is used to refer to a specified god. Accordingly, I have been translating the noun daimōn as ‘superhuman force’. And now I will apply this translation to the derivative form daimonion.
22§2. In the usage of Plato’s Socrates, as in Plato’s Republic (6.496c), daimonion functions as the adjective of the neuter noun sēmeion, which is derived from another neuter noun, sēma. As we saw in Hour 7§1, sēma means ‘sign, signal, symbol; tomb, tomb of a hero’. Since sēmeion can be translated as ‘signal’, I propose to translate the expression to daimonion sēmeion, as we find it in the Republic, as ‘the superhuman signal’. Elsewhere in the usage of Plato’s Socrates, however, as in Plato’s Apology of Socrates, the expressions to daimonion and to sēmeion are used separately as synonyms of each other; in these cases, I will translate to daimonion as ‘the superhuman thing’ and to sēmeion as ‘the signal’.

The subversive threat of ‘the superhuman signal’

22§3. In Plato’s Apology of Socrates (31d), in a passage I will not be quoting here, Plato’s Socrates says that ‘the superhuman thing’, to daimonion, had prevented him from participating in the public life of the Athenian state, restricting him to a private way of interacting with his fellow citizens. He describes this superhuman thing as an inner phōnē, ‘voice’, that never tells him what to do but only what not to do. One of the things that this inner voice tells Socrates not to do is to participate in the public life of the Athenian State. As Plato’s Socrates says in {605|606} the Apology (32a), in another passage I will not be quoting, he must not ‘lead the public life of a citizen’, politeuein, and so, by default, he will ‘lead the private life’, idiōteuein. That is how he gets into trouble with the Athenian State: as we learn in Plato’s Euthyphro (3b), in yet another passage I will not be quoting, Socrates was accused of subversion, on the grounds that we was corrupting the young men of Athens by speaking to them about to daimonion, ‘the superhuman thing’, which did not fit the traditional concept of theoi, ‘gods’.
22§4. I will now quote from the Apology another passage in which this expression to daimonion, ‘the superhuman thing’, occurs. In this passage, as we will see, the synonymous expression to sēmeion, ‘the signal’, is also used:

Hour 22 Text A1

In the past, the oracular [mantikē] art of the superhuman thing [to daimonion] within me was in the habit of opposing me, each and every time, even about minor things, if I was going to do anything not correctly [orthōs]. But now that these things, as you can see, have happened to me – things that anyone would consider, by general consensus, to be the worst possible things to happen to someone – |40b the signal [to sēmeion] of the god [theos] has not opposed me, either as I was leaving my house and going out in the morning, or when I was coming up to this place of judgment, or as I was speaking. No, it has not opposed me about anything I was going to say, though on other occasions when I was speaking, it [= the signal] has often stopped me, even when I was in the middle of saying something. But now in nothing I either said or did concerning this matter has it opposed me. So, what do I take to be the explanation of this? I will tell you. Perhaps this is a proof that what has happened to me is something good [agathon], |40c and it cannot be that we are thinking straight [orthōs] if we think that death is something bad [kakon]. This is a great proof to me of what I am saying, since the signal [to sēmeion] that I am used to would surely have opposed me if I had been heading toward something not good [agathon].
Plato Apology of Socrates 40a-c [1] {606|607}
22§5. So, what does ‘the superhuman signal’ tell Socrates not to experience? The answer to that question will be clear when we reach Text A5. As we will see in that text, this ‘signal’ does not tell Socrates not to choose death. And that is because, as we will also see in that text, dying ‘now’ is not wrong – it is right. The present time will be for Socrates the ‘right time’, the hōrā, to die.

What happens to Socrates after death

22§6. As Plato’s Socrates argues, one of two things is most likely to happen after he or anyone else dies, and neither one of them is a bad thing:

Hour 22 Text A2

Let us think about it this way: there is plenty of reason to hope that death is something good [agathon]. I say this because death is one of two things: either it is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness for the person who has died, or, according to the sayings [legomena], there is some kind of a change [meta-bolē] that happens – a relocation [met-oikēsis] for the soul [psūkhē] from this place [topos] to another place [topos].
Plato Apology of Socrates 40c [2]
22§7. The legomena or ‘sayings’ here are the revelations of a mystical hero named Orpheus, which are mediated in Athenian traditions by another mystical hero named Musaeus. Both of these figures will be mentioned by name later, in Text A4. In the dialogues composed by Plato, Socrates frequently expresses interest in the mystical teachings attributed to Orpheus and Musaeus, who are associated with the elitist predemocratic agenda of the Peisistratidai, a dynasty of tyrants who ruled Athens before the advent of the democratic regime. [3] In {607|608} 19§8, I have already noted the ideological antipathy of the Athenian democracy toward the Peisistratidai.
22§8. The interest expressed by Socrates in the legomena or ‘sayings’ of figures like Orpheus and Musaeus does not make him dependent on their teachings, however. Plato’s Socrates is equally interested in another scenario for an afterlife, which is no afterlife at all:

Hour 22 Text A3

Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, |40d but a sleep like the sleep of someone who sees nothing even in a dream, death will be a wondrous gain [kerdos]. For if a person were to select the night in which he slept without seeing anything even in a dream, and if he were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life in a better and more pleasant way than this one, I think that any person – I will not say a private individual [idiōtēs], but even the great king – |40e will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if death is like this, I say that to die is a gain [kerdos]; for the sum total of time is then only a single night.
Plato Apology of Socrates 40c-e [4]
22§9. That said, Plato’s Socrates proceeds to consider in some detail the alternative scenario, giving a precious glimpse into the mystical legomena or ‘sayings’ of Orpheus about an afterlife: [5]

Hour 22 Text A4

But if death is the journey [apo-dēmiā] to another place [topos], and, if the sayings [legomena] are true [alēthē], that all the dead are over there [ekeî], then what good [agathon], O jurors, [dikastai], can be greater {608|609} than this? |41a If, when someone arrives in the world of Hādēs, he is freed from those who call themselves jurors [dikastai] here, and finds the true [alētheîs] judges [dikastai] who are said to give judgment [dikazein] over there [ekeî] – Minos and Rhadamanthus and Aiakos and Triptolemos, and other demigods [hēmi-theoi] who were righteous [dikaioi] in their own life – that would not be a bad journey [apo-dēmiā], now would it? To make contact with Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer – who of you would not welcome such a great opportunity? Why, if these things are true [alēthē], let me die again and again. |41b I, too, would have a wondrous activity [diatribē] there, once I make contact with Palamedes, and with Ajax the son of Telamon, and with other ancient men who have suffered death through an unjust [a-dikos] judgment [krisis]. And there will be no small pleasure, I think, in comparing my own experiences [pathos plural] with theirs. Further – and this is the greatest thing of all – I will be able to continue questioning those who are over there [ekeî], just as I question those who are over here [entautha], and investigating who among them is wise [sophos] and who among them thinks he is wise [sophos] but is not. Who would not welcome the great opportunity, O jurors [dikastai], of being able to question the leader of the great Trojan expedition; |41c or Odysseus or Sisyphus, or one could mention countless other men – and women too! What unmitigated happiness [eudaimoniā] would there be in having dialogues [dialegesthai] with them over there [ekeî] and just being in their company and asking them questions! And I say it absolutely: those who are over there [ekeî] do not put someone to death for this; certainly not. I say that because those who are over there [ekeî] are happier [eu-daimonesteroi] than those who are over here [entautha]. And they are already immortal [athanatoi] for the rest of time, if in fact the sayings [legomena] are true [alēthē].
Plato Apology of Socrates 40e-41c [6] {609|610}
22§10. The world of such an afterlife, which is indicated mystically as ekeî, ‘over there’, in the sense of in that life, in opposition to entautha, ‘over here’, in the sense of in this life, is evidently a world in which heroes themselves achieve an afterlife. And such an afterlife, as I have been arguing in this book, is the third of three experiences: (1) death itself, (2) arrival in Hādēs, and (3) passing through Hādēs into a mystical otherworldly life. In the process of passing through Hādēs what is just and what is unjust will clearly be seen. Plato’s Socrates has a keen interest in such a prospect: he shows it by highlighting the heroes Palamedes and Ajax, both of whom died unjust deaths and both of whom could blame their deaths not only on the unjust treatment they received from their fellow Achaeans but also, more importantly, on the machinations of an unjust Odysseus.
22§11. What Plato’s Socrates is saying here about Odysseus is that he was unjust – and recognized as unjust – in the myths about the deaths of Palamedes and Ajax. From these myths, we learn that Odysseus was instrumental in causing the deaths of both these heroes. In the case of Ajax, the relevant myth is well known from sources such as Pindar’s Nemean 8. In the case of Palamedes, the myth is retold briefly by the figure of Socrates himself in the Memorabilia of Xenophon (4.2.33) – and in Xenophon’s version of the Apology of Socrates (26).
22§12. In Text A4, which I quoted a minute ago from Plato’s own version of the Apology of Socrates (41c), we saw the figure of Odysseus associated with the figure of Sisyphus, who is a prototypical trickster. In Odyssey xi 593-600, this trickster is actually punished in the afterlife for his trickery. This is not to say, however, that the world ‘over there’ is a place of eternal punishment even for tricksters like Sisyphus. More simply, it is a place where unjust as well as just deeds are sorted out and judged for all to see. In the case of Sisyphus, his negative side is highlighted in the Odyssey while his positive side is shaded over. But we have already seen a glimpse of this hero’s positive side in Hour 8a§13, where we read the report of Pausanias (2.1.3) concerning Sisyphus as the founder of the Isthmian Games. Conversely, in the case of Odysseus, the Homeric Odyssey consistently highlights this hero’s positive side and shades over his negative side. Still, the {610|611} myths that involve him in the deaths of Palamedes and Ajax show that Odysseus too, like Sisyphus, had his negative side – as a trickster.
22§13. It comes as no surprise, then, that Socrates in Text A4 from Plato’s Apology of Socrates (41c) seeks to cross-examine Odysseus as an exponent of injustice – if, that is, there is really an afterlife, and if Socrates will really get a chance to make contact with that hero in such an afterlife. As we can also see in Text A4 from Plato’s Apology of Socrates (41c), another exponent of injustice whom Socrates would hope to cross-examine in such an afterlife is the hero Agamemnon himself as the leader of the expedition against Troy. That hero too can be considered an exponent of injustice, as we have seen more than once in this book. And such a negative view is highlighted by the fact that Plato’s Socrates does not even mention that hero by name in this context.
22§14. After speaking about men who lived in the heroic past, Socrates now turns his attention to men of his own time, especially to the dikastai or ‘jurors’ who condemn him to death. He speaks to them ironically and even sarcastically:

Hour 22 Text A5

But even you, O jurors [dikastai], should have good hopes when you face death, and you should have in mind [dia-noeîsthai] this one thing as true [alēthes]: |41d that nothing bad [kakon] can happen to a good [agathos] person, either in life or when he comes to its completion [teleutân]. The events involving this person are not neglected by the gods [theoi]. Nor is it by chance that the events involving me have happened. Rather, this one thing is clear to me, that to be already dead and to be in a state where I am already released from events involving me was better for me. And it is for this reason that the signal [sēmeion] in no way diverted me from my path. Further, it is for this reason that I am not at all angry with those who accused me or with those who condemned me. Granted, it was not with this in mind that they accused me and condemned me, since they thought they were doing me harm, |41e and for this they deserve to be blamed. In any case, I ask them for only one thing. When my sons are grown up, I would ask you men to punish them [= my sons] and give them pain, as I have given you pain – if they seem to care about material things or the like, instead of striving for merit [aretē]. Or, if they seem to be something but are not at all that thing – then go ahead and insult them, as I am now insulting {611|612} you, for not caring about things they ought to care about, and for thinking they are something when they are really worth nothing. And if |42a you do this, then the things I have experienced because of what you have done to me will be just [dikaia] – and the same goes for my sons.
Plato Apology of Socrates 41c-42a [7]
22§15. These jurors who condemn Socrates to death are supposedly the upholders of justice, but for Socrates they are exactly the opposite, despite the term dikastai that they apply to themselves. Socrates has in mind here the literal meaning of dikastai. This word means not only ‘jurors’ in the political context of Athens in the world of the historical present time of Socrates in 399 BCE. In the world of the distant heroic past, this same word means, literally, ‘judges’ in the sense of ‘men of justice’. Those dikastai are the ‘men of justice’ who once upon a time lived in the heroic age and who now judge each and every person who dies and passes through Hādēs. According to the relevant myth cited by Socrates in Plato’s Apology of Socrates (41a), as I quoted it in Text A4, these otherworldly ‘judges’ include Minos, Rhadamanthus, Aiakos, and Triptolemos. Further, as we saw in the quoted text, all four of these heroes qualify as hēmi-theoi or ‘demigods’. We have already seen in Hour 12§28 the use of this word hēmi-theoi with reference to the great heroes of the heroic age – as viewed from the perspective of the present.
22§16. So, now, we can finally see why it is that the mysterious superhuman signal or sēmeion of Socrates never did divert him from doing or saying what he did or said in his own life. It is because he deserves to be judged as a man of justice, while the jurors who condemned him fail to merit such a judgment. And, as a man of justice, Socrates even deserves to become a hero. {612|613}

A heroic timing for the death of Socrates

22§17. This idea, that Socrates deserves to become a hero, starts to take shape in the context of the passage I quoted in Text A4 from Plato’s Apology of Socrates (40e-41c). This passage centered on the possibility of an afterlife as predicted in the mystical legomena or ‘sayings’ attributed to figures like Orpheus and Musaeus. If there is to be such an afterlife, then Socrates after death will be judged to be a just man by otherworldly judges like the heroes Minos, Rhadamanthus, Aiakos, and Triptolemos, and then, once judged, he will be allowed to pass through Hādēs into a mystical place of afterlife. This mystical place, as we see from the context of this Text A4, is populated not only by the four heroes who judge the incoming dead and who are described as hēmi-theoi or ‘demigods’ but also by heroes in general, who likewise qualify as hēmi-theoi or ‘demigods’. Among these heroes are the poets Orpheus, Musaeus, Hesiod, and Homer, listed in order of seniority, from the supposedly earliest to the latest. [8] As we have already seen in Hour 13§33, both Hesiod and Homer were actually worshipped as cult heroes. After the four poets, mentioned as heroes here in the Apology of Socrates (41a), Plato’s Socrates goes on to mention the heroes Palamedes and Ajax (41b), whom we have already considered, and then, as he nears the end of his speech, he makes this general statement about all the heroes whom he hopes to join in the afterlife: ‘And they [= all these heroes] are already immortal [athanatoi] for the rest of time, if in fact the sayings [legomena] are true [alēthē]’ (41c). Finally, in the last sentence of his speech, Plato’s Socrates says that the time has come for him to die. I will now quote this sentence and then argue that it signals the idea that Socrates will be dying the death of a hero:

Hour 22 Text A6

But let me interrupt. You see, the hour [hōrā] of departure has already arrived. So, now, we all go our ways – I to die, and you to live. And the question is, which one of us on either side is going toward something that is better? It is not clear, except to the god.
Plato Apology of Socrates 42a [9] {613|614}
22§18. So, the death of Socrates will take place at exactly the right ‘time’, which is the hōrā. And we come back full circle to Hour 1 of this book, where we saw that the very idea of the ancient Greek hero is defined by hōrā as the right ‘time’ of death.

Socrates and Achilles

22§19. As we have seen, those whom Socrates will meet in an afterlife – if there is to be an afterlife – include heroes like Odysseus, who committed acts of injustice against other heroes. They also include Agamemnon, who as we know from our readings can likewise be considered guilty of having committed acts of injustice. These examples of inclusion make it clear that membership in a heroic afterlife as pictured in the sayings of mystical poets like Orpheus and Musaeus is not restricted to paragons of justice like Minos, Rhadamanthus, Aiakos, and Triptolemos. Even heroes who are known to have committed catastrophically unjust deeds are still eligible for immortalization in an afterlife. The wording of Socrates in Plato’s Apology of Socrates (41c) takes for granted such eligibility when he says that all the heroes whom he will meet and with whom he will engage in dialogue ‘are already immortal [athanatoi] for the rest of time, if in fact the sayings [legomena] are true [alēthē]’. So, the assumption here is that Homeric heroes like Odysseus and Agamemnon are already immortalized by the time Plato’s Socrates initiates his dialogues with them. But something seems to be missing in this picture. Socrates does not mention another most prominent Homeric hero here. I mean Achilles. But Socrates does not need to mention Achilles in this context – because Socrates has already been having a dialogue with Achilles in a previous context.
22§20. Even before Socrates dies, he is already interrogating Achilles – however indirectly – about that hero’s motives as they play out in the Iliad:

Hour 22 Text B

Perhaps someone might say: And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of pursuing such a goal in life, which is likely to cause you to die right now? To him I would reply – and I would be replying justly [dikaiōs]: You, my good man, are not saying it well, if you think it is necessary for a man to calculate the risks of living or dying; there is little use in doing that. Rather, he should only consider whether in doing anything he is doing things that are just [dikaia] or unjust [adika], acting the part of {614|615} a good [agathos] man or of a bad [kakos] one. Worthless men, |28c according to your view, would be the demigods [hēmi-theoi] who fulfilled their lives by dying at Troy, especially the son of Thetis [= Achilles], who so despised the danger of risk, preferring it to waiting for disgrace. His mother, goddess that she was, had said to him, when he was showing his eagerness to slay Hector, something like this, I think: My child, if you avenge the slaying of your comrade [hetairos] Patroklos and kill Hector, you will die yourself. “Right away your fate [potmos]” – she says – “is ready for you after Hector”. And he [= Achilles], hearing this, utterly despised danger and death, |28d and instead of fearing them, feared rather to live like a worthless [kakos] man, and not to avenge his friend. “Right away may I die next,” he says, “and impose justice [dikē] on the one who committed injustice [adikeîn], rather than stay behind here by the curved ships, a laughing stock and a heavy load for Earth to bear.” Do you think that he had any thought of death and danger?
Plato Apology of Socrates 28b-d [10]
22§21. Now I will elaborate on what I already said about this passage in Hour 2§77. Socrates here is paraphrasing the relevant verses of Iliad XVIII 90-104, but he weaves into his paraphrases some actual quotations of the original Homeric wording. Likewise in Plato’s Symposium (179e-180a), we see a second paraphrase of the same verses. In the case of that second paraphrase, however, the choice made by Achilles to forfeit his life in order to avenge the death of Patroklos appears to be conflated with another choice that faces the hero. At an earlier point in the Iliad, in the context of the so-called Embassy Scene where Achilles is speaking to Phoenix and the other delegates (IX 410-416), he says {615|616} that he must decide between two kēres or ‘fated ways’ (IX 411): either he dies at a ripe old age after a safe nostos, ‘homecoming’, to his homeland Phthia or he dies young on the battlefield in Troy – and thereby wins for himself a kleos, ‘glory’, that will last forever (IX 413). This is the passage I first quoted in Hour 0 Text F and in Hour 1 Text A.
22§22. And now I will elaborate on what I said in Hour 2§78. I noted there that Plato’s apparent conflation of two choices facing Achilles turns out to be justified: the two choices are in fact one choice. In the Embassy Scene of the Iliad, when Achilles says he must choose between two kēres or ‘fated ways’ (IX 411), either a nostos, ‘homecoming’, or a kleos, ‘glory’, that will last forever (IX 413), he is actually not yet ready to make his choice: the two alternative fates have simply been foretold for him by his mother, the goddess Thetis (IX 410-411). Later on, after Patroklos has been killed, Achilles is facing the same choice, but by now he has made his decision. He says that there cannot be a homecoming for him (nosteîn XVIII 90) because he must kill Hector in order to avenge the death of Patroklos, and, once he kills Hector, his own death in battle will become a certainty (XVIII 90-93), just as his mother had foretold – and as she now foretells again (XVIII 96-97).
22§23. In the passage from Plato that I quoted in Text B, Apology of Socrates 28b-d, we saw that Thetis is first being paraphrased. Since it is easy to overlook the distinction that Plato’s verbal art is making here between paraphrasing and quoting, I will repeat here the wording of the paraphrase: ‘His mother, goddess that she was, had said to him, when he was showing his eagerness to slay Hector, something like this, I think: My child, if you avenge the slaying of your comrade [hetairos] Patroklos and kill Hector, you will die yourself’ (28c). So, the paraphrase is signaled ostentatiously as a paraphrase. Then, immediately after we hear this paraphrase, we now hear Thetis being quoted directly (28c again), and the wording that I will translate as ‘she says’ (φησί) signals just as ostentatiously that we are now hearing a quotation: ‘“Right away your fate [potmos]” – she says – “is ready for you after Hector”’. [11] The quotation corresponds exactly to what we find in Iliad XVIII 96, where Thetis says: ‘Right away your fate [potmos] is next, ready for you after Hector’. [12] And then, immediately after the quotation from Thetis, Achilles himself seems to be quoted directly as he responds to Thetis (28d). The wording that I will translate as ‘he says’ (φησί) indicates – {616|617} again, ostentatiously – that we are once again hearing a quotation: ‘“Right away may I die next,” he says, “and impose justice [dikē] on the one who committed injustice [adikeîn], rather than stay behind here by the curved ships, a laughing stock and a heavy load for Earth to bear”’. [13] So, Achilles wants to punish Hector for having ‘committed injustice’, and this punishment is viewed as the imposing of ‘justice’. But in this case the words of Achilles as quoted by Plato’s Socrates do not at all correspond to the words we find in Iliad XVIII 98-104, where Achilles says something different – and something that takes much longer to say. What the hero does say here in the Iliad is a spectacular masterpiece of virtuosity in verbal pyrotechnics, full of the most intensely emotive outbursts. Here is my translation of these lines in Iliad XVIII 98-104: ‘Right away may I die next, since it turns out that I did not help my comrade [hetairos] |99 by protecting him when he was about to be killed. And there he was, far away from his fatherland, |100 and he died. He missed having me as his protector from harm. |101 And now, since I will not have a homecoming [neesthai] to my dear fatherland, |102 and I did not become the light [of salvation] for Patroklos or for my other companions, |103 those others, many of them, who were also dispatched by radiant Hector |104 – and here I am by the ships, just sitting here, a heavy load for Earth to bear – …’. [14]
22§24. At this juncture, exactly at the point where Achilles has just spoken of himself as ‘a heavy load for Earth to bear’, the wording of the hero as quoted by Plato’s Socrates in the Apology (28d) breaks off, as we saw. I repeat the wording: ‘“Right away may I die next,” he says, “and impose justice [dikē] on the one who committed injustice [adikeîn], rather than stay behind here by the curved ships, a laughing stock and a heavy load for Earth to bear”’. [15] In the Iliad, however, we see that the wording of Achilles does not break off but continues for several more lines, moving past the parenthetical expression at line 104 where the hero had said: ‘and here I am by the ships, just sitting here, a heavy load for Earth to bear’. [16] Not only does the wording of Achilles continue. It must continue. And {617|618} that is because this wording is, so far, still incomplete in syntax, as also in meaning. At this point, there is no syntactical follow-up as of yet for the clause indicated by the second ‘since’ in my translation, which I will now highlight as I repeat what Achilles is saying so passionately: ‘Right away may I die next, since it turns out that I did not help my comrade [hetairos] |99 by protecting him when he was about to be killed. And there he was, far away from his fatherland, |100 and he died. He missed having me as his protector from harm. |101 And now, since I will not have a homecoming [neesthai] to my dear fatherland, |102 and I did not become the light [of salvation] for Patroklos or for my other companions, |103 those others, many of them, who were also dispatched by radiant Hector |104 – and here I am by the ships, just sitting here, a heavy load for Earth to bear – …’. Picking up from this point onward, both the syntax and the meaning of Achilles will keep moving on, from line 105 all the way to line 121, where the hero will finally have the chance to say what his motive is. Leading up to line 121, Achilles had said that his determination to kill Hector shows that he chooses to die young on the battlefield, and he refers to this death as his inevitable kēr or ‘fated way’ at line 115. And now, highlighting what he will get for himself as his compensation, he declares at line 121 that he will win kleos, that is, the ‘glory’ of epic song. For Achilles, to die this way is the right thing to do.
22§25. For Socrates as well, to die as he chooses to die is the right thing to do. And he expresses this idea by using the words dikē or ‘justice’ and dikaios or ‘just’. It is true of course that the Homeric wording used by Achilles in the Iliad to motivate his own choice is not replicated by the Platonic wording used by Plato’s Socrates when the hero is quoted as saying that he chooses to die for a just cause, but I still find the Platonic wording to be true to Homeric poetry – in the sense that it conveys with psychological insight and accuracy the larger-than-life feelings expressed by Achilles. So, even before he dies and goes off to a heroic afterlife – if there is such a thing – Socrates is already having a dialogue with Achilles by quoting him in this special way, using words that Achilles himself does not use in his own Iliad. Moreover, since the readers of Plato’s Apology of Socrates are reading the words of Socrates at a time when the man they are reading is already dead, we may say that Socrates is having his dialogue with Achilles every time we read him quoting the hero of the Iliad.
22§26. Plato’s Socrates is meeting Achilles half way by using the diction of Homeric poetry in speaking about ‘a heavy load for Earth to bear’, but Achilles in turn is meeting Socrates half way by letting himself be quoted in the act of speaking about dying for a just cause. And this special way of letting Achilles speak about the just cause of dying for his comrade Patroklos, even if it is too {618|619} late now to save him, matches the special way of speaking that is chosen by Socrates when he says that he fights for justice as a philosopher the same way as he fights in war as a citizen soldier. In the Apology (28a), Socrates goes out of his way to remind his listeners of the fact that he was a distinguished combat veteran of three famous battles in the Peloponnesian War – Potidaea, Amphipolis, and Delium. Each one of these three battles was a military disaster for Athens, the homeland of Socrates, and in each one of these battles, as Socrates is proud to remind his fellow Athenians, he showed to all his bravery in the face of death. This bravery is portrayed also in Plato’s Symposium (220d–221c), where we find a vivid retelling of the admirable comportment of Socrates at a critical moment in the battle of Delium. Summing up the stories of his reputation for bravery on the battlefield, Socrates says in the Apology (28e): ‘I stood my ground [e-men-on] and put my life at risk’, following the orders of military commanders. Socrates is saying here that he was always ready to die for his fellow citizens in war – not only to die with them – just as Achilles is saying that he is ready to die for his comrade, since that is the right thing to do. In the same way, as we read in the Apology (29a), Socrates will not break rank and flee when he follows the dictates of his own moral responsibilities as a philosopher: that is, he will not abandon the taxis or ‘military formation’ of the just cause that he pursues.

An Odyssean way for the journey of Socrates

22§27. We have already seen that Socrates in Plato’s Apology of Socrates views Odysseus in an unfavorable light when he refers to injustices committed by this hero against other heroes such as Ajax and Palamedes. But Socrates shows a different attitude when it comes to the overall story of Odysseus as narrated in the Homeric Odyssey. As we will now see, Socrates views this story in a favorable light, modeling his own evolution as a philosopher on the idea of an Odyssean journey of a soul. I used this expression journey of a soul when I analyzed the overall narrative of the Homeric Odyssey in Hour 10§§32-50. In the context of that analysis, I was emphasizing not the specific idea of the soul, which is the English word I used there as a working translation of psūkhē, but rather the more general idea of a mystical journey experienced by the psūkhē – however we may translate that Greek word. As the psūkhē travels on its journey, it passes through a transitional phase visualized as Hādēs and eventually reaches an eschatological phase or afterlife visualized as the Island of the Blessed – or as various other such kinds of mystical places where heroes are immortalized. Socrates in the Apology of Socrates hopes to reach such a place after his death and, in {619|620} such an afterlife, he hopes to have dialogues with a variety of heroes, including Odysseus. In Text A4, I have already quoted the passage where Socrates refers to such hoped-for dialogues in the afterlife (41c). But now the question is, how will Socrates reach such an afterlife? As I will argue, the way for Socrates to journey to such an afterlife is an Odyssean way.
22§28. The impetus for this spiritual journey of Socrates is a visit to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi by a man named Chaerephon. The story of this visit is retold by Plato’s Socrates in the Apology: he describes Chaerephon as someone who has been a hetairos or ‘comrade’ of his ever since the two of them were young men (20e-21a). As we see from the retelling of the story by Plato’s Socrates, Chaerephon went to Delphi and formally asked the oracle whether there existed anyone more sophos or ‘wise’ than Socrates, and the priestess of Apollo, the Pythia, responded that there was no such man; when Socrates finds out about this oracular pronouncement, he interprets it as an ainigma or ‘riddle’ sent to him by the god Apollo himself (21a). [17] In this retelling by Plato’s Socrates, it is made clear that Chaerephon had consulted the oracle on his own. Clearly he was not some kind of official emissary – the kind that would have been delegated to consult the oracle on behalf of the Athenian State. In other words, Chaerephon was not an official theōros or ‘sacred delegate’. I will wait till Hour 23 before I analyze the relevance of this word theōros, and for now I simply emphasize that Chaerephon consulted the oracle on his own. And, given the nature of the question that was asked of the oracle, we can understand how such a consultation could be viewed by the State as an act of provocation – even of subversion. The wording of Socrates is actually implying such a view when he says that Chaerephon ‘dared to do it’ (ἐτόλμησε 21a). Then, in Plato’s dramatization of the speech by Socrates, the hostile listeners to his speech react by shouting their sense of outrage at the very thought of such a consultation, and Socrates needs to quiet them down, saying to them: ‘stop your shouting’ (μὴ θορυβεῖτε, again 21a). Continuing his story, Socrates now describes what happened after he learned of the oracle’s response: ever since, he says, he has been wandering around and testing what the god said by engaging in dialogue with any and all persons who may be more sophos or ‘wise’ than he is (21b-22a). And the word that Plato’s Socrates uses for ‘engaging in dialogue’, dialegesthai (21c), is the key to understanding the entire spiritual journey of Socrates. The never-ending {620|621} quest of Socrates to engage in dialogue extends even into his hoped-for afterlife: he says he intends to continue doing in this afterlife what he has been doing throughout his life ever since he heard what the oracle said. So, Socrates will continue testing the truth of Apollo by seeking to discover whether those whom he encounters in the afterlife are ‘wise’, sophoi, or whether they merely think they are ‘wise’ but are not (41b). [18] And, once again, the discovery procedure for Plato’s Socrates is expressed by way of the word dialegesthai, which means ‘engaging in dialogue’ (41c). I have already quoted the context of this passage in Text A4.
22§29. So, now, we come at last to the wording used by Plato’s Socrates to describe his spiritual journey. He taps into the language of initiation in telling about his wanderings through life, describing these wanderings as an ordeal of initiation, ‘laboring [poneîn] to achieve labors [ponoi]’:

Hour 22 Text C

I must perform for you the tale of my wandering [planē], just as if I had been laboring [poneîn] to achieve labors [ponoi] that I endured for this purpose: that the [god’s] oracular wording [manteiā] should become impossible to refute.
Plato Apology of Socrates 22a [19]
22§30. Words like ponos and kamatos, both of which mean ‘ordeal, labor, pain’, can apply to the life-and-death struggles of heroes in stories about their larger-than-life struggles. A classic example is the ponos or ‘labor’ of Hēraklēs himself in the act of literally wrestling with Thanatos or Death incarnate in the Alcestis of Euripides (1027). In that context as also elsewhere, especially in related contexts that we find in the songs of Pindar, such mythical experiences of heroes are presented as models for the ritual experiences of humans who engage in ritual activities such as athletic competitions, [20] and this kind of engagement can be seen in anthropological terms as a shining example of what we know as initiation. [21] {621|622}
22§31. I highlight again the ponoi or ‘labors’ of Socrates, which he equates with his planē or ‘wandering’ all over the world, as it were, in the course of his unending spiritual journey. The wording that Socrates uses here evokes the experiences of heroes like Hēraklēs himself. For example, the canonical Labors of Hēraklēs are described this way in a Homeric Hymn:

Hour 22 Text D

|4 He [= Hēraklēs] used to travel all over the boundless earth and all over the sea, |5 veering from his path and wandering off, all because of the missions assigned to him by Eurystheus the king. |6 He [= Hēraklēs] performed many reckless things on his own, and he suffered many such things in return.
Homeric Hymn to Herakles 4-6 [22]
22§32. The words used here in telling about the ordeals of Hēraklēs match closely the words used at the very beginning of the Odyssey to tell about the ordeals of Odysseus: [23]

Hour 22 Text E (part of Hour 9 Text A and Hour 10 Text A)

|1 That man, tell me O Muse the song of that man, that versatile [polu-tropos] man, who in very many ways |2 veered from his path and wandered off far and wide, after he had destroyed the sacred citadel of Troy. |3 Many different cities of many different people did he see, getting to know different ways of thinking [noos]. |4 Many were the pains [algea] he suffered in his heart [thūmos] while crossing the sea |5 struggling to merit [arnusthai] the saving of his own life [psūkhē] and his own homecoming [nostos] as well as the homecoming of his comrades [hetairoi]. [24]
Odyssey i 1-5
22§33. The philosophical wandering of Socrates in the course of his spiritual journey matches in wording the heroic wandering of Odysseus as we see it described {622|623} here at the very beginning of the Odyssey (i 1-5), where it is said that the hero kept on wandering off (i 2) as he kept on learning all kinds of things (i 3) in the course of his painful struggle to save his own psūkhē (i 5). I had translated this word psūkhē simply as ‘life’ when I first quoted the beginning of the Odyssey in Hour 9 Text A and in Hour 10 Text A. Now I am ready to interpret psūkhē in the present context as ‘soul’ – in the transcendent sense that Odysseus experiences a journey of a soul. And this psūkhē or ‘soul’ is destined for immortalization after death. In the Phaedo of Plato, to which we will turn in Hour 23, the very idea of such a destiny for the psūkhē will be most passionately debated.

The swan song of Socrates

22§34. Before I bring this hour about Plato’s Apology of Socrates to a close, I will show a preview from his Phaedo. In the passage I am about to quote, Plato’s Socrates is speaking about this final dialogue of his, comparing the words in this dialogue to the song sung by a swan before death:

Hour 22 Text F

When he heard [what Simmias said] Socrates laughed in a measured way and said: |84e “Well, well, Simmias, so I guess I am not very likely to persuade other people that I do not regard my present situation as a misfortune, if I am unable to persuade even you, and if you keep worrying whether I am at all more troubled now than I was in my earlier phase of life – and whether I am inferior to swans [kuknoi] in my prophetic [mantikē] capacity. It seems that swans, when they get the feeling that they must die, even though they were singing throughout their earlier phase of life, |85a will now sing more and better than ever, rejoicing in the thought that they are about to go away to the god whose attendants [therapōn plural] they are. But humans, because of their fear of death, tell lies about the swans [kuknoi], claiming that swans are lamenting [thrēneîn] their own death when they sing their hearts out in sorrow. So, humans are not taking into account the fact that no bird sings when it is hungry or cold or experiences some other such pain – not even the nightingale herself or the swallow or the hoopoe. All these birds are said to be singing in their sorrow because they have something to lament. But I do not believe that these birds sing because of some sorrow – and I do not believe it about the swans [kuknoi], either. {623|624} |85b Rather, as I believe, it is because swans are sacred to Apollo and have a prophetic [mantikē] capacity and foresee the good things that will happen in the house of Hādēs – that is why they sing and rejoice in that [last] day of theirs more than they ever did in the previous time of their life. And I, too, think of myself as the consecrated [hieros] agent of the same god, and a fellow temple-servant [homo-doulos] with the swans [kuknoi], and, thinking that I have received from my master [despotēs] a prophetic [mantikē] capacity that is not inferior to theirs, I would not part from life in a less happy state of mind [thūmos] than the swans. And it is for this reason that you must speak and ask whatever questions you want, so long as the Athenian people’s Board of Eleven allows it.”
Plato Phaedo 84d-85b [25]
22§35. The swan song of Socrates is not the last word. In other words, it is not the same thing as the last dialogue – as staged by Plato – in which Socrates engages while he is still alive. Rather, the swan song of Socrates is the living word that he perpetuates by way of his eternal quest for the truth. That is why I give the title “The Living Word” to this present hour – as also to the hour that will now follow. {624|625}


[ back ] 1. ἡ γὰρ εἰωθυῖά μοι μαντικὴ ἡ τοῦ δαιμονίου ἐν μὲν τῷ πρόσθεν χρόνῳ παντὶ πάνυ πυκνὴ ἀεὶ ἦν καὶ πάνυ ἐπὶ σμικροῖς ἐναντιουμένη, εἴ τι μέλλοιμι μὴ ὀρθῶς πράξειν. νυνὶ δὲ συμβέβηκέ μοι ἅπερ ὁρᾶτε καὶ αὐτοί, ταυτὶ ἅ γε δὴ οἰηθείη ἄν τις καὶ νομίζεται ἔσχατα κακῶν εἶναι· ἐμοὶ δὲ |40b οὔτε ἐξιόντι ἕωθεν οἴκοθεν ἠναντιώθη τὸ τοῦ θεοῦ σημεῖον, οὔτε ἡνίκα ἀνέβαινον ἐνταυθοῖ ἐπὶ τὸ δικαστήριον, οὔτε ἐν τῷ λόγῳ οὐδαμοῦ μέλλοντί τι ἐρεῖν. καίτοι ἐν ἄλλοις λόγοις πολλαχοῦ δή με ἐπέσχε λέγοντα μεταξύ· νῦν δὲ οὐδαμοῦ περὶ ταύτην τὴν πρᾶξιν οὔτ’ ἐν ἔργῳ οὐδενὶ οὔτ’ ἐν λόγῳ ἠναντίωταί μοι. τί οὖν αἴτιον εἶναι ὑπολαμβάνω; ἐγὼ ὑμῖν ἐρῶ· κινδυνεύει γάρ μοι τὸ συμβεβηκὸς τοῦτο ἀγαθὸν γεγονέναι, καὶ οὐκ ἔσθ’ ὅπως ἡμεῖς ὀρθῶς ὑπολαμβάνομεν, |40c ὅσοι οἰόμεθα κακὸν εἶναι τὸ τεθνάναι. μέγα μοι τεκμήριον τούτου γέγονεν· οὐ γὰρ ἔσθ’ ὅπως οὐκ ἠναντιώθη ἄν μοι τὸ εἰωθὸς σημεῖον, εἰ μή τι ἔμελλον ἐγὼ ἀγαθὸν πράξειν.
[ back ] 2. Ἐννοήσωμεν δὲ καὶ τῇδε ὡς πολλὴ ἐλπίς ἐστιν ἀγαθὸν αὐτὸ εἶναι. δυοῖν γὰρ θάτερόν ἐστιν τὸ τεθνάναι· ἢ γὰρ οἷον μηδὲν εἶναι μηδὲ αἴσθησιν μηδεμίαν μηδενὸς ἔχειν τὸν τεθνεῶτα, ἢ κατὰ τὰ λεγόμενα μεταβολή τις τυγχάνει οὖσα καὶ μετοίκησις τῇ ψυχῇ τοῦ τόπου τοῦ ἐνθένδε εἰς ἄλλον τόπον.
[ back ] 3. HPC 340-352 = E§§95-128.
[ back ] 4. καὶ εἴτε δὴ μηδεμία αἴσθησίς ἐστιν ἀλλ’ |40d οἷον ὕπνος ἐπειδάν τις καθεύδων μηδ’ ὄναρ μηδὲν ὁρᾷ, θαυμάσιον κέρδος ἂν εἴη ὁ θάνατος – ἐγὼ γὰρ ἂν οἶμαι, εἴ τινα ἐκλεξάμενον δέοι ταύτην τὴν νύκτα ἐν ᾗ οὕτω κατέδαρθεν ὥστε μηδὲ ὄναρ ἰδεῖν, καὶ τὰς ἄλλας νύκτας τε καὶ ἡμέρας τὰς τοῦ βίου τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ ἀντιπαραθέντα ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ δέοι σκεψάμενον εἰπεῖν πόσας ἄμεινον καὶ ἥδιον ἡμέρας καὶ νύκτας ταύτης τῆς νυκτὸς βεβίωκεν ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ βίῳ, οἶμαι ἂν μὴ ὅτι ἰδιώτην τινά, ἀλλὰ τὸν μέγαν βασιλέα εὐαριθμήτους |40e ἂν εὑρεῖν αὐτὸν ταύτας πρὸς τὰς ἄλλας ἡμέρας καὶ νύκτας – εἰ οὖν τοιοῦτον ὁ θάνατός ἐστιν, κέρδος ἔγωγε λέγω· καὶ γὰρ οὐδὲν πλείων ὁ πᾶς χρόνος φαίνεται οὕτω δὴ εἶναι ἢ μία νύξ.
[ back ] 5. Herodotus 2.8.2 speaks of hieros logos or ‘sacred discourse’ attributed to the followers of Orpheus, among others; I offer comments in HPC 343-344 = E§§104-105.
[ back ] 6. εἰ δ’ αὖ οἷον ἀποδημῆσαί ἐστιν ὁ θάνατος ἐνθένδε εἰς ἄλλον τόπον, καὶ ἀληθῆ ἐστιν τὰ λεγόμενα, ὡς ἄρα ἐκεῖ εἰσι πάντες οἱ τεθνεῶτες, τί μεῖζον ἀγαθὸν τούτου εἴη ἄν, ὦ ἄνδρες δικασταί; εἰ γάρ τις |41a ἀφικόμενος εἰς Ἅιδου, ἀπαλλαγεὶς τουτωνὶ τῶν φασκόντων δικαστῶν εἶναι, εὑρήσει τοὺς ὡς ἀληθῶς δικαστάς, οἵπερ καὶ λέγονται ἐκεῖ δικάζειν, Μίνως τε καὶ Ῥαδάμανθυς καὶ Αἰακὸς καὶ Τριπτόλεμος καὶ ἄλλοι ὅσοι τῶν ἡμιθέων δίκαιοι ἐγένοντο ἐν τῷ ἑαυτῶν βίῳ, ἆρα φαύλη ἂν εἴη ἡ ἀποδημία; ἢ αὖ Ὀρφεῖ συγγενέσθαι καὶ Μουσαίῳ καὶ Ἡσιόδῳ καὶ Ὁμήρῳ ἐπὶ πόσῳ ἄν τις δέξαιτ’ ἂν ὑμῶν; ἐγὼ μὲν γὰρ πολλάκις ἐθέλω τεθνάναι εἰ ταῦτ’ ἔστιν ἀληθῆ. ἐπεὶ |41b ἔμοιγε καὶ αὐτῷ θαυμαστὴ ἂν εἴη ἡ διατριβὴ αὐτόθι, ὁπότε ἐντύχοιμι Παλαμήδει καὶ Αἴαντι τῷ Τελαμῶνος καὶ εἴ τις ἄλλος τῶν παλαιῶν διὰ κρίσιν ἄδικον τέθνηκεν, ἀντιπαραβάλλοντι τὰ ἐμαυτοῦ πάθη πρὸς τὰ ἐκείνων – ὡς ἐγὼ οἶμαι, οὐκ ἂν ἀηδὲς εἴη – καὶ δὴ τὸ μέγιστον, τοὺς ἐκεῖ ἐξετάζοντα καὶ ἐρευνῶντα ὥσπερ τοὺς ἐνταῦθα διάγειν, τίς αὐτῶν σοφός ἐστιν καὶ τίς οἴεται μέν, ἔστιν δ’ οὔ. ἐπὶ πόσῳ δ’ ἄν τις, ὦ ἄνδρες δικασταί, δέξαιτο ἐξετάσαι τὸν ἐπὶ Τροίαν ἀγαγόντα |41c τὴν πολλὴν στρατιὰν ἢ Ὀδυσσέα ἢ Σίσυφον ἢ ἄλλους μυρίους ἄν τις εἴποι καὶ ἄνδρας καὶ γυναῖκας, οἷς ἐκεῖ διαλέγεσθαι καὶ συνεῖναι καὶ ἐξετάζειν ἀμήχανον ἂν εἴη εὐδαιμονίας; πάντως οὐ δήπου τούτου γε ἕνεκα οἱ ἐκεῖ ἀποκτείνουσι· τά τε γὰρ ἄλλα εὐδαιμονέστεροί εἰσιν οἱ ἐκεῖ τῶν ἐνθάδε, καὶ ἤδη τὸν λοιπὸν χρόνον ἀθάνατοί εἰσιν, εἴπερ γε τὰ λεγόμενα ἀληθῆ.
[ back ] 7. Ἀλλὰ καὶ ὑμᾶς χρή, ὦ ἄνδρες δικασταί, εὐέλπιδας εἶναι πρὸς τὸν θάνατον, καὶ ἕν τι τοῦτο διανοεῖσθαι ἀληθές, ὅτι |41d οὐκ ἔστιν ἀνδρὶ ἀγαθῷ κακὸν οὐδὲν οὔτε ζῶντι οὔτε τελευτήσαντι, οὐδὲ ἀμελεῖται ὑπὸ θεῶν τὰ τούτου πράγματα· οὐδὲ τὰ ἐμὰ νῦν ἀπὸ τοῦ αὐτομάτου γέγονεν, ἀλλά μοι δῆλόν ἐστι τοῦτο, ὅτι ἤδη τεθνάναι καὶ ἀπηλλάχθαι πραγμάτων βέλτιον ἦν μοι. διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἐμὲ οὐδαμοῦ ἀπέτρεψεν τὸ σημεῖον, καὶ ἔγωγε τοῖς καταψηφισαμένοις μου καὶ τοῖς κατηγόροις οὐ πάνυ χαλεπαίνω. καίτοι οὐ ταύτῃ τῇ διανοίᾳ κατεψηφίζοντό μου καὶ κατηγόρουν, ἀλλ’ οἰόμενοι βλάπτειν· |41e τοῦτο αὐτοῖς ἄξιον μέμφεσθαι. τοσόνδε μέντοι αὐτῶν δέομαι· τοὺς ὑεῖς μου, ἐπειδὰν ἡβήσωσι, τιμωρήσασθε, ὦ ἄνδρες, ταὐτὰ ταῦτα λυποῦντες ἅπερ ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ἐλύπουν, ἐὰν ὑμῖν δοκῶσιν ἢ χρημάτων ἢ ἄλλου του πρότερον ἐπιμελεῖσθαι ἢ ἀρετῆς, καὶ ἐὰν δοκῶσί τι εἶναι μηδὲν ὄντες, ὀνειδίζετε αὐτοῖς ὥσπερ ἐγὼ ὑμῖν, ὅτι οὐκ ἐπιμελοῦνται ὧν δεῖ, καὶ οἴονταί τι εἶναι ὄντες οὐδενὸς ἄξιοι. καὶ ἐὰν |42a ταῦτα ποιῆτε, δίκαια πεπονθὼς ἐγὼ ἔσομαι ὑφ’ ὑμῶν αὐτός τε καὶ οἱ ὑεῖς.
[ back ] 8. On this canonical sequence of listing the four poets Orpheus, Musaeus, Hesiod, and Homer, see HC 394-398 = 3§§99-102.
[ back ] 9. ἀλλὰ γὰρ ἤδη ὥρα ἀπιέναι, ἐμοὶ μὲν ἀποθανουμένῳ, ὑμῖν δὲ βιωσομένοις· ὁπότεροι δὲ ἡμῶν ἔρχονται ἐπὶ ἄμεινον πρᾶγμα, ἄδηλον παντὶ πλὴν ἢ τῷ θεῷ.
[ back ] 10. Ἴσως ἂν οὖν εἴποι τις· Εἶτ’ οὐκ αἰσχύνῃ, ὦ Σώκρατες, τοιοῦτον ἐπιτήδευμα ἐπιτηδεύσας ἐξ οὗ κινδυνεύεις νυνὶ ἀποθανεῖν; ἐγὼ δὲ τούτῳ ἂν δίκαιον λόγον ἀντείποιμι, ὅτι Οὐ καλῶς λέγεις, ὦ ἄνθρωπε, εἰ οἴει δεῖν κίνδυνον ὑπολογίζεσθαι τοῦ ζῆν ἢ τεθνάναι ἄνδρα ὅτου τι καὶ σμικρὸν ὄφελός ἐστιν, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐκεῖνο μόνον σκοπεῖν ὅταν πράττῃ, πότερον δίκαια ἢ ἄδικα πράττει, καὶ ἀνδρὸς ἀγαθοῦ ἔργα ἢ κακοῦ. φαῦλοι |28c γὰρ ἂν τῷ γε σῷ λόγῳ εἶεν τῶν ἡμιθέων ὅσοι ἐν Τροίᾳ τετελευτήκασιν οἵ τε ἄλλοι καὶ ὁ τῆς Θέτιδος ὑός, ὃς τοσοῦτον τοῦ κινδύνου κατεφρόνησεν παρὰ τὸ αἰσχρόν τι ὑπομεῖναι ὥστε, ἐπειδὴ εἶπεν ἡ μήτηρ αὐτῷ προθυμουμένῳ Ἕκτορα ἀποκτεῖναι, θεὸς οὖσα, οὑτωσί πως, ὡς ἐγὼ οἶμαι· Ὦ παῖ, εἰ τιμωρήσεις Πατρόκλῳ τῷ ἑταίρῳ τὸν φόνον καὶ Ἕκτορα ἀποκτενεῖς, αὐτὸς ἀποθανῇ – “αὐτίκα γάρ τοι,” φησί, “μεθ’ Ἕκτορα πότμος ἑτοῖμος” – ὁ δὲ τοῦτο ἀκούσας τοῦ μὲν θανάτου καὶ τοῦ κινδύνου ὠλιγώρησε, πολὺ δὲ μᾶλλον |28d δείσας τὸ ζῆν κακὸς ὢν καὶ τοῖς φίλοις μὴ τιμωρεῖν, “αὐτίκα,” φησί, “τεθναίην, δίκην ἐπιθεὶς τῷ ἀδικοῦντι, ἵνα μὴ ἐνθάδε μένω καταγέλαστος παρὰ νηυσὶ κορωνίσιν [ back ] ἄχθος ἀρούρης.” μὴ αὐτὸν οἴει φροντίσαι θανάτου καὶ κινδύνου;
[ back ] 11. “αὐτίκα γάρ τοι,” φησί, “μεθ’ Ἕκτορα πότμος ἑτοῖμος.”
[ back ] 12. αὐτίκα γάρ τοι ἔπειτα μεθ’ Ἕκτορα πότμος ἑτοῖμος.
[ back ] 13. “αὐτίκα,” φησί, “τεθναίην, δίκην ἐπιθεὶς τῷ ἀδικοῦντι, ἵνα μὴ ἐνθάδε μένω καταγέλαστος παρὰ νηυσὶ κορωνίσιν ἄχθος ἀρούρης.”
[ back ] 14. αὐτίκα τεθναίην, ἐπεὶ οὐκ ἄρ’ ἔμελλον ἑταίρῳ |99 κτεινομένῳ ἐπαμῦναι· ὃ μὲν μάλα τηλόθι πάτρης |100 ἔφθιτ’, ἐμεῖο δὲ δῆσεν ἀρῆς ἀλκτῆρα γενέσθαι. |101 νῦν δ’ ἐπεὶ οὐ νέομαί γε φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν, |102 οὐδέ τι Πατρόκλῳ γενόμην φάος οὐδ’ ἑτάροισι |103 τοῖς ἄλλοις, οἳ δὴ πολέες δάμεν Ἕκτορι δίῳ, |104 ἀλλ’ ἧμαι παρὰ νηυσὶν ἐτώσιον ἄχθος ἀρούρης.
[ back ] 15. (Plato Apology 28d:) “αὐτίκα,” φησί, “τεθναίην, δίκην ἐπιθεὶς τῷ ἀδικοῦντι, ἵνα μὴ ἐνθάδε μένω καταγέλαστος παρὰ νηυσὶ κορωνίσιν ἄχθος ἀρούρης.”
[ back ] 16. (Iliad XVIII 104:) ἀλλ’ ἧμαι παρὰ νηυσὶν ἐτώσιον ἄχθος ἀρούρης.
[ back ] 17. In play here is a distinction between transcendent and everyday understandings of the word sophos as ‘wise’ and ‘skilled’ respectively. I analyze the distinction in HC 398 = 3§303; 533-536 = 4§§161-162.
[ back ] 18. Again in play here is the distinction between transcendent and everyday understandings of this word sophos.
[ back ] 19. δεῖ δὴ ὑμῖν τὴν ἐμὴν πλάνην ἐπιδεῖξαι ὥσπερ πόνους τινὰς πονοῦντος ἵνα μοι καὶ ἀνέλεγκτος ἡ μαντεία γένοιτο.
[ back ] 20. PH 138-139 = 5§4.
[ back ] 21. PH 139-144 = 5§§5-15.
[ back ] 22. |4 ὃς πρὶν μὲν κατὰ γαῖαν ἀθέσφατον ἠδὲ θάλασσαν |5 πλαζόμενος πομπῇσιν ὕπ’ Εὐρυσθῆος ἄνακτος |6 πολλὰ μὲν αὐτὸς ἔρεξεν ἀτάσθαλα, πολλὰ δ’ ἀνέτλη.
[ back ] 23. I offer further commentary in GM 14-15 about the striking correspondences in the wording.
[ back ] 24. |1 ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, Μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ |2 πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσε· |3 πολλῶν δ’ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω, |4 πολλὰ δ’ ὅ γ’ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατὰ θυμόν, |5 ἀρνύμενος ἥν τε ψυχὴν καὶ νόστον ἑταίρων.
[ back ] 25. Καὶ ὃς ἀκούσας ἐγέλασέν τε ἠρέμα καί φησιν· Βαβαί, ὦ Σιμμία· ἦ που χαλεπῶς ἂν τοὺς ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους πείσαιμι |84e ὡς οὐ συμφορὰν ἡγοῦμαι τὴν παροῦσαν τύχην, ὅτε γε μηδ’ ὑμᾶς δύναμαι πείθειν, ἀλλὰ φοβεῖσθε μὴ δυσκολώτερόν τι νῦν διάκειμαι ἢ ἐν τῷ πρόσθεν βίῳ· καί, ὡς ἔοικε, τῶν κύκνων δοκῶ φαυλότερος ὑμῖν εἶναι τὴν μαντικήν, οἳ ἐπειδὰν αἴσθωνται ὅτι δεῖ αὐτοὺς ἀποθανεῖν, ᾄδοντες καὶ ἐν |85a τῷ πρόσθεν χρόνῳ, τότε δὴ πλεῖστα καὶ κάλλιστα ᾄδουσι, γεγηθότες ὅτι μέλλουσι παρὰ τὸν θεὸν ἀπιέναι οὗπέρ εἰσι θεράποντες. οἱ δ’ ἄνθρωποι διὰ τὸ αὑτῶν δέος τοῦ θανάτου καὶ τῶν κύκνων καταψεύδονται, καί φασιν αὐτοὺς θρηνοῦντας τὸν θάνατον ὑπὸ λύπης ἐξᾴδειν, καὶ οὐ λογίζονται ὅτι οὐδὲν ὄρνεον ᾄδει ὅταν πεινῇ ἢ ῥιγῷ ἤ τινα ἄλλην λύπην λυπῆται, οὐδὲ αὐτὴ ἥ τε ἀηδὼν καὶ χελιδὼν καὶ ὁ ἔποψ, ἃ δή φασι διὰ λύπην θρηνοῦντα ᾄδειν. ἀλλ’ οὔτε ταῦτά μοι φαίνεται |85b λυπούμενα ᾄδειν οὔτε οἱ κύκνοι, ἀλλ’ ἅτε οἶμαι τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ὄντες, μαντικοί τέ εἰσι καὶ προειδότες τὰ ἐν Ἅιδου ἀγαθὰ ᾄδουσι καὶ τέρπονται ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέραν διαφερόντως ἢ ἐν τῷ ἔμπροσθεν χρόνῳ. ἐγὼ δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς ἡγοῦμαι ὁμόδουλός τε εἶναι τῶν κύκνων καὶ ἱερὸς τοῦ αὐτοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ οὐ χεῖρον ἐκείνων τὴν μαντικὴν ἔχειν παρὰ τοῦ δεσπότου, οὐδὲ δυσθυμότερον αὐτῶν τοῦ βίου ἀπαλλάττεσθαι. ἀλλὰ [ back ] τούτου γ’ ἕνεκα λέγειν τε χρὴ καὶ ἐρωτᾶν ὅτι ἂν βούλησθε, ἕως ἂν Ἀθηναίων ἐῶσιν ἄνδρες ἕνδεκα.