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rlclrose21

Apollodorus

How appropriate that Plato should frame this work as a tale told second hand.  From his pen, we are hearing the story as told by a disciple of Plato named Apollodorus who had heard the story from Aristodemus who was present at the symposium in question.  Apollodorus has verified the account with Plato, and so we may consider it fairly accurate. Still, we are reading about it approximately twenty-four hundred years later and are also twice removed from the actual event.

Apollodorus is particularly ready to tell us because he has already recounted the story to his friend Glaucon while on the road to Athens.  Glaucon had caught up with Apollodorus by formally hailing him as “The Gentleman from Phaleron.”  I read in the footnotes that the joke is that men like Apollodorus are not addressed in this manner except in formal situations, such as when they are assembled at court.  Of course, this is how members of Congress are addressed today and calls attention to how much the Greeks still influence us.

Apollodorus makes much of the idea that philosophy is the only worthwhile pursuit in life and that focusing on the mundane activities of life as Apollodorus once did and as his friend does now, dooms a person to a life of failure. Unimpressed with this sentiment, Apollodorus’ friend urges him to begin to recount the speeches given at the symposium.
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Pa’ntes A’nthropoi Tou^ Eide’nai Ore’gontai Phy’sei.
All men by nature desire to know. —Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1:1

rlclrose21 When one begins to take a closer look at Socrates of Athens, (469-399 B.C. ) it immediately becomes clear that he is a man in a unique and enviable position. A citizen of an established polis, he was neither obscure nor highly celebrated. His service to his country as a soldier was established, yet he did not distinguish himself to the extent that it required him to bear the burden of celebrity nor assume the mantle of hero (Vlastos, Pg. 50). He was born of a good family but not of a noble or patrician one. His father was an artist; a sculptor, he himself was an artisan; a stonemason. Apparently a man of limited independent means, he was far from what would be considered wealthy. This fortuitous combination of circumstances worked to place Socrates, not in the center of urban life and culture, but rather in the middle of it. He found himself in an ideal position to observe his fellow Athenians, and to interact and converse with them.
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