Friday, December 9, 2016

1 The dating of Plato’s Phaedrus with a reference to his Republic

In my last post I wrote: ‘Polemarchus, then, is your heir? I said (Oukoun, ephȇ, egȏ, ho Polemarchos, tȏn ge sȏn klȇronomos; [331d8] – Jowett’s I said, i.e. his ascription of these words to Socrates, is wrong. It is Polemarchus who turns to his father with the words: ‘Am I not the heir of the things that are yours?’.

James Adam, without referring to Jowett by name, notes on 331d8: ‘There is not sufficient reason for changing the best supported reading ephȇ, egȏ to ephȇn egȏ [i.e. for changing Oukoun, ephȇ, egȏ (‘Am I not’, said) ho Polemarchos (Polemarchus), tȏn ge sȏn klȇronomos (‘the heir of the things that are yours?’); into Oukoun, ephȇn egȏ, ho Polemarchos, tȏn ge sȏn klȇronomos; – ‘Polemarchus, then, is your heir? I said.’]. Polemarchus is throughout the introduction represented as a vivacious person: e.g. horais oun hȇmashosoi esmen [‘but do you see us – how many we are’] (327c), and in the lively emphasis with which he breaks in just above Panu men oun [‘Yes it is’ {the definition of justice}]eiper ge ti chrȇ Simȏnidȇi peithesthai [‘if Simonides is to be believed’]. True to his name [Polemarchos, polemos = ‘war’, archos = ‘leader’], he is first to mingle in the fray … Cephalus leaves the argument to be carried on by the assembled company (for humin [‘to you’] does not mean Polemarchus and Socrates alone): whereupon Polemarchus, seizing hold on the word paradidȏmi in its sense of ‘transmit’, ‘bequeath,’ playfully claims the right to inherit his logos as Cephalus’ eldest son and heir.’ (The Republic of Plato, Cambridge Universityy Press, 1902, digitally printed 2009, vol. I, p. 12)

Let me add that Polemarchus’ claim to all things that are his fathers is to be understood in unity with Cephalus’ self-portrait as a moderate money-maker and as a man who uses his wealth to act in accordance with justice, never to lie and never to deceive anyone, – and as such to be viewed in connection with Against Eratosthenes (19) in which Lysias intimates that when the Thirty confiscated Polemarchus’ property, the wealth they got was ‘beyond what they had ever expected to get’.

If we want to see how Plato himself saw Polemarchus’ character, which he depicted in Republic I, we must go to Republic VIII and take into account his description of the transformation of oligarchy into tyranny and of democracy into tyranny: ‘And does not tyranny spring from democracy in the same manner, so to speak, as democracy from oligarchy (Ar’ oun tropon tina ton auton ek te oligarchias dȇmokratia gignetai kai ek dȇmokratias turannis;)? … The good which oligarchy proposed to itself and the object for which it was established (Ho prouthento agathon, kai di’ hou hȇ oligarchia kathistato) was wealth (touto ȇn ploutos) – am I not right (ȇ gar;)? … Thus, the insatiable desire for wealth (hȇ ploutou toinun aplȇstia) and the neglect of all other things (kai hȇ tȏn allȏn ameleia) for the sake of money getting (dia chrȇmatismon) was also the ruin of oligarchy (autȇn apȏllu;)? … And democracy also is brought to dissolution by an insatiable desire for that which she designates as good (Ar’ oun kai ho dȇmokratia horizetai agathon, hȇ toutou aplȇstia kai tautȇn kataluei;)?’ – ‘What do you suppose that to be (Legeis d’ autȇn ti horizesthai;)?’ – ‘Freedom (Tȇn eleutherian), which, as they tell you in a democracy, is the glory of the State (touto gar pou en dȇmokratoumenȇi polei akousais an hȏs echei te kalliston) – and that therefore (kai dia tauta) in a democracy alone (en monȇ tautȇi) will the freeman of nature deign to dwell (axion oikein hostis phusei eleutheros) … When a democracy which has begun to thirst for freedom (Hotan oimai dȇmokratoumenȇ polis eleutherias dipsȇsasa) has evil cup-bearers presiding over the feast (kakȏn oinochoȏn prostatountȏn tuchȇi), and has drunk too deeply of the strong wine of freedom (kai porrȏterȏ tou deontos akratou autȇs methusthȇi), then, unless her rulers are very amenable and give a plentiful draught, she calls them to account and punishes them, and says that they are accursed oligarchs (tous archontas dȇ, an mȇ panu praioi ȏsi kai pollȇn parechȏsi tȇn eleutherian, kolazei aitiȏmenȇ hȏs miarous te kai oligarchikous) … By degrees the anarchy must find a way into private houses (Kai kataduesthai ge eis te tas idias oikias) … the father grows accustomed to descend to the level of his sons (patera men ethizesthai paidi homoion gignesthai), and to fear them (kai phobeisthai tous hueis), and the son is on a level with his father (huon de patri) … And the metic is equal with the citizen and the citizen with the metic (metoikon de astȏi kai aston metoikȏi exizousthai), and the stranger is quite as good as either (kai xenon hȏsautȏs).’ (562a10-563a1, tr. Jowett)

In Republic I, doesn’t Polemarchus, a metic, speak and behave as an equal of Socrates, Adeimantus, and Glaucon?

In Republic VIII there is only one thing that Plato views as a greater evil: ‘The last extreme of popular liberty is (To de ge eschaton tȇs eleutherias tou plȇthous, hoson gignetai en tȇi toiatȇi polei) when the slave bought with money, whether male or female (hotan dȇ hoi eȏnȇmenoi kai hai eȏnȇmenai), is just as free as his or her purchaser (mȇden hȇtton eleutheroi ȏsi tȏn priamenȏn, 563b4-7, tr. Jowett).’

In the Republic Plato accomplishes a dual task; he indicates how it happened to him that in the Phaedrus he pointed to Polemarchus as a man turned to philosophy, and he makes it abundantly clear that Polemarchus is anything but a man turned to philosophy.

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