Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Lucky, but sad


On Wednesday April 7 I received an email from Mr Krása, who invited me in the name of the Czech Platonic Society to present a paper at the XIII Symposium Platonicum Pragense, which will be devoted to Plato’s Phaedrus and will take place on November 3-5 in Prague. I was elated.

On April 11, I wrote to a friend of mine: ‘I opened my e-mails at ten this evening, just after my breakfast. This is not a mistake. I completely lost the sense of time. For after I wrote to you my last letter, I began to write my contribution for the Prague Symposium. And it just grabbed me. I wrote, went to sleep, woke up, started to write again, shaved, had a bath combined with massaging my whole body, went to bed again, woke up, worked a bit on my ‘Dating of the Phaedrus’, went to bed. Woke up, did some more work, cooked my breakfast, worked some more, went to bed, woke up, worked some more, went shopping, which I combined with a decent bit of cycling, went to bed, woke up, worked again, made my supper, worked again, went for a night walk, went to bed again, woke up, made my bath, worked again, went to bed, woke up at about eight in the morning – or so I thought. I was surprised that it was rather dark for eight in the morning, ‘it must be very cloudy’, I thought, and began to prepare my breakfast. When I looked at the window again, it began to be seriously dark. Only then I realized that it wasn’t a quarter past eight in the morning, but in the evening.’

When I finished the paper, I wanted to time my reading it aloud. I read the first sentence and had to stop timing. I had to rewrite the sentence, too many words, I wanted it terse. I started again, and the same happened with my second, the with my third sentence. At that point I realized that I must revise the paper. The revision took three or four days. I started reading it aloud and timing. It was better, but after being forced to make changes again, I stopped the timing and revised it again. This time I decided to read it aloud without timing, leaving as much time ass was needed for the final revision. When I finished it, I read it aloud in one go, was happy, timed it, shortened it to get into the prescribed 30 minutes.

I read it aloud again, and again, until I was happy with my reading. I wated for more than 40 years for the opportunity to present this paper to academics for discussion. The discussion period will be for 40 minutes. I am looking forward to it.


Until this point all my Greek quotations were written in italics. But being really happy with it, I decided to change the italics into the authentic Greek script. It was quite a job, for I haven’t used the SPionic for years. I managed in the end, and was very happy with it.


Then I began to write a Czech version of my paper on Plato for the Symposium. I began by translating the English version, but since the Czech version is not designed to be read at the Symposium, I felt free to discuss points, which I could not do in the English version because of the 30 minutes time constraint. And new points compelled me to quote some Greek. To my amazement, the SPionic did not allow me to print any Ancient Greek characters. It appeared to function as if designed for the modern Greek. At that moment I realised how lucky I was that I succeeded in rewriting all my quotations in the Ancient Greek alphabet.

It made me sad, when I realised that from now on there was to be no possibility of quoting Ancient Greek on the internet. I spoke about it to a friend; I told him I was about to write about it on my blog. But before committing myself to the intended post, I tried it again. And to my amazement, it worked. I thought of writing a post on ‘Lucky, sad, happy’, but then I was distracted by other things, reading English detective stories aloud, just to keep my voice in good condition. For week or two I did not touch any Greek. But today I returned to my Czech version.

I was explaining that in the Palinode Plato responded to the challenge raised by Aristophanes’ last choric antistrophe in the Frogs. The chorus maintains that when he ceased writing tragedies, he threw away and abandoned the greatest art. In the Palinode Plato shows that philosophy is the greatest art (mousikȇ).

I went on to explain that Plato in the Palinode indicates that as a philosopher he was destined to be the ruler. Thus, at 246e Zeus, the great leader, travels first, leading the train of his followers, and ordering all things in cosmos; at 250b1-7 Plato says that before their incarnation the souls, which were to become philosophers, viewed the Forms in the company of Zeus. He becomes personal: ‘we beheld with our eyes that blessed vision, ourselves in the train of Zeus’. I wanted to type the crucial words in SPionic: e9po/menoi meta_ me_n Dio_j h9mei=j – but it did not work. Then I began to write this post, and suddenly, SPionic appears to work again.

But when I then returned to my Czech text, the SPionic didn’t work with the Czech font used as the basis.

The computer does not allow me to save this text among my documents: ‘UPLOAD BLOCKED’. And so I shall copy the text and try to put it on my blog as my next post. Will that work?

Monday, April 26, 2021

Thursday, April 22, 2021

A paper on Plato for the XIII. Symposium Platonicum Pragense

My paper on the dating of the Phaedrus has two parts. In the first, I shall discuss the late dating, focussing on the role of Cicero. In the second, I shall propose my dating of the dialogue.


According to the ancient tradition, recorded by Diogenes Laertius, the Phaedrus was Plato’s first dialogue. Modern Platonic studies began with the rejection of this dating by Tennemann, inspired by Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. For Kant believed that he discovered the truth, and that the only thing remaining for professional philosophers was to discover the history of Pure Reason, that is the history of thought that led to his discovery. Tennemann undertook this task, which he began to pursue with his System der platonischen Philosophie, published in 1792. With the theory of Forms in the Phaedrus Plato comes the nearest to Kant’s a priori concepts, for Socrates says in the Palinode that ‘human speech requires understanding according to Forms (dei= ga_r a!nqrwpon sunie/nai kat ei]doj lego/menon), bringing the influx of perceptions into unity by reasoning (e0k pollw~n i0o_n ai0sqh/sewn ei0j e9n logismw~i sunairou/menon, 249b4-c1)’. Plato must have progressed towards the Phaedrus through a chain of dialogues, just as the subsequent history of philosophy progressed towards Kant’ Critique of Pure Reason.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century Schleiermacher dismissed Tennemann’s dating of the Phaedrus: ‘Surely everybody who understands the matter and who has the corresponding personal experience will agree that true philosophy does not start with separate special points but with anticipation at least of the whole … The beginnings of almost all Plato’s philosophy are undeniably found in the Phaedrus, but its undeveloped state can be seen there as well.’

This insight is valuable; the problem lies in Schleiermacher’s ‘philosophic system’ of Plato. He divided Plato’s work into three periods. The first contained the Phaedrus, Protagoras, and Parmenides, which laid down the first principles of Plato’s philosophy. In the second period these principles were applied to ethics and physics. Here belonged the Theaetetus, Sophist, Politicus, Phaedo, and Philebus. The last, so called constructive period, was dominated by the Republic, and contained Timaeus and Critias. (Let me note: stylometric investigations proved that the Sophist, Politicus, and Philebus were written after the Republic.) Schleiermacher maintained: ‘The necessity of giving the last place to the constructive dialogues is so great from all points of view that if dependable historical testimonies were found which would prove that the Republic was written earlier than any of the preparatory works, we would stand in the most vexing conflict with our judgment about Plato and we would be thrown into the greatest perplexity of how to make such a want of reason compatible with his great intellect.’

But that’s precisely what happened. In 1822 was published Cicero’s De re publica, discovered in the Vatican Library by its prefect, Cardinal Angelo Mai, in 1820. Cicero says in in its first book that Socrates discarded the study of nature, and so did Plato as long as Socrates lived. After Socrates’ death Plato devoted himself to it under the influence of the Pythagoreans, whom he joined on his journey to Italy and Sicily. In his dialogues he then attributed to Socrates his own thoughts on the subject, ‘as he loved Socrates with singular affection and wished to give him credit for everything’ (cum Socratem unice dilexisset eique omnia tribuere voluisset, I. 16). De re publica ends with ‘Scipio’s dream’, in which Plato presents cosmological speculations from the Timaeus. The ‘Dream’ ends with Cicero’s translation of the proofs of the immortality of soul from the Phaedrus and the Phaedo. Cicero does not mention Plato in connection with any of it. In his view it all went back to the Pythagoreans, and thus to Italy and Sicily.

In the Orator, written a few years after De re publica, Cicero says that Plato wrote the Phaedrus when Isocrates was senior and Plato his aequalis (42). As Stallbaum pointed out, the Romans called seniores men between forty-five and sixty years of age. But after the Orator Cicero changed his mind concerning the dating of the Phaedrus. In the Tusculan Disputations (i.53,54) he reproduces his translation of the proofs of immortality from De re publica, retrospectively acknowledges Plato’s authorship, and insists that those views were Plato’s own, derived from the Delphic ‘Know thyself’ (Nosce te), understood as ‘Know thy soul’ (Nosce animum tuum) (i.52,53). He says that ‘influenced by these and similar reasons Socrates sought out no advocate when on trial for his life, and did not humbly entreat his judges’ (His et talibus rationibus adductus Socrates nec patronum quaesivit ad iudicium capitis nec iudicibus supplex fuit, i.71). This suggests that Cicero received information that Plato conceived his proofs of the immortality of soul during Socrates’ lifetime; his Letters to Atticus provide a clue concerning its source.

In the end of 46 B.C. Cicero wrote to Atticus, an authority on Greek and Roman antiquities, that he greatly appreciated his finding time to read the Orator (Letters to Atticus XII, 6a). From Cicero’s letter of May 28, 45 B.C. we learn that Atticus suggested to him that he ought to read Dicaearchus’ books. Cicero welcomed the suggestion and asked Atticus to send him the books. He repeated his request in his letter of May 29, and in a letter of June 3 he acknowledged accepting the books. In the Tusculan Disputations, written in 45 B.C., Cicero refers to Dicaearchus repeatedly, invoking Plato and Socrates against his view that ‘the soul is nothing at all’ (i.24), for ‘Dicaearchus argued most incisively against this immortality’ (acerrime Dicaearchus contra hanc immortalitatem disseruit, i.77).

Now we can turn to Diogenes on the dating of the Phaedrus: lo/goj de_ prw~ton gra/yai au0to_n to_n Fai=dronˑ kai_ ga_r e1xein meirakiw~de/j ti to_ pro/blhma. Dikai/arxoj de_ kai_ to_n tro/pon th=j grafh=j o3lon e0pime/mfetai w(j fortiko/n. (III.38). This statement falls into three parts. Hicks translates the first two parts: ‘There is a story that the Phaedrus was his first dialogue. For the subject has about it something of the freshness of youth.’ The first part is based on the second part. As early as 1792 the element of ‘youthfulness’ was identified by Tennemann with the theme of love. Diogenes’ source was dismissed as a pedant who could not envisage Plato in his later years writing on love with passion.

Arguing against this view, I shall begin by focussing attention on the connective kai_ ga/r. It can occasionally have the force of the causal ‘for’, but usually introduces a clause that merely corroborates what was said before. For example, in Apology 34d3-5 Socrates addresses an imaginary critic: ‘My friend, I have a family, and indeed (kai\ ga/r), as Homer says, I am not “of a tree or of a rock”, I am a man.’ The connective kai_ ga/r introduces the quotation from Homer to give a special touch to Socrates’ ‘I am a man’, but Socrates’ ‘I am a man’ does not depend on the quotation from Homer.

In order to decide which is the function of kai_ ga/r in the given case, we must enquire into the meaning of meirakiw~de/j ti in the ancient references to the dialogue. Hermias begins his commentary on the Phaedrus by taking on Plato’s critics who maintained that Plato in the dialogue argued for and against love ‘like a juvenile’ (w#sper meira/kion), and that he contended against the speech of Lysias as a contentious youngster (Hermias 9). Hermias’ testimony is supported by Themistius who in Oration xxvi addressed philosophy with the words ‘and you were not afraid that someone might accuse you of juvenile behaviour (meirakieu/esqai) when you contended against Lysias’. The ancients did not see the theme of love as a streak of juvenility, but the contentious manner in which Plato presented it, and in which he argued against Lysias.

Now we can turn to Dicaearchus’ censure. The word that Dicaearchus used in criticising the dialogue is fortiko/n. In the Phaedrus this term signifies contentious ridiculing of one another ‘as the comic writers do’ (to_ tw~n kwmwidw~n fortiko/n, 236c). In Hermias the link between meirakiw~de/j ti and fortiko/n is obvious: The ancient critics alleged that like a youngster (w#sper meira/kion) Plato exposed Lysias to comic ridicule (kwmwidou/ntoj to_n r9h/tora, Hermias 9). The collocation of particles de_ kai/ that links Dicaearchus’ criticism to the preceding statements concerning its dating and character is not adversative (‘however’) but assentient and progressive: ‘moreover’, ‘in addition’, ‘and what is more’. Previous critics censured merely the contentious manner, in which Plato attacked Lysias and argued for and against love; Dicaearchus extended this censure to the dialogue in its entirety. Dicaearchus’ testimony is valuable, for he was a distinguished disciple of Aristotle, and he wrote a Life of Plato.

The reference to Dicaearchus in Diogenes was made after he published the books in which he criticised the Phaedrus. But the ancient tradition concerning the dating of the Phaedrus goes back to the time of Plato. Xenophon says that ‘Charicles and Critias, intrusted by the Thirty with drafting laws, inserted a clause that made it illegal to teach ‘the art of speaking’, i.e. the rhetoric (lo/gwn te/xnhn mh_ dida/skein, Memorabilia I.ii.31)’. Then they sent for Socrates, showed him the law, and forbade him to hold conversation with the young. Socrates asked them to fix the age limit below which a man is to be accounted to be young. “So long,” replied Charicles, “as he is not permitted to sit in the Council, because as yet he lacks wisdom. You shall not converse with anyone who is under thirty.” The Thirty thus forbade Socrates to speak with Plato, who was in his early twenties.

The incident hurt Plato. In the Lysis, written after the restoration of democracy, in 403, Socrates enumerates to Lysis all the things he would like to do, but is forbidden because of his youth – he can visit a newly opened Palaistra, but only under the guardianship of a paidagwgo/j, a well trusted slave appointed by the boy’s parents for that role. Then he points to all things his parents enjoy him doing, like reading and playing a musical instrument. When the boy acknowledges that he is not allowed to do things he does not know how to do, Socrates gets to the point: ‘So your father is not waiting for you to come of age to trust everything to you, but on the day he considers that you know better than himself, he’ll trust both himself and his property to you … What about the Athenians? Do you think they’ll trust you with their affairs, as soon as they realise that you know enough?’ – Lysis replies: ‘I do.’ (209c,d).

In the Republic Plato turned the tables on the Thirty: ‘If the guardian (o( fu/lac) shall strive for a kind of happiness that will unmake him as a guardian and shall not be content with the way of life that is moderate and secure and, as we affirm, the best, but if some senseless and childish opinion (meirakiw&dhj do/ca) about happiness shall beset him and impel him to use his power to appropriate everything in the city for himself, then he will find out that Hesiod was indeed wise, who said that the half was in some sort more than the whole’ (466b5-c3). This indicates that the opprobrium of juvenility that beset the Phaedrus preceded Socrates’ incident with Charicles and Critias.

In the Phaedrus, the Forms are divine essentially, god gets his divinity from his closeness to the Forms (249c6). Written in 405 B.C., the Phaedrus was protected by the amnesty issued by the democrats after their victory over the Thirty. Accused of introducing new divinities, Socrates expected to be accused of the views ‘he’ expressed in the Phaedrus. Counting on the widespread characterisation of the Phaedrus as something juvenile (meirakiw~de/j ti), he said in his defence: ‘It would not be fitting for one of my age, O men, to come before you like a youngster making up speeches’ (w#sper meiraki/wi pla/ttonti lo/gouj, Ap. 17c4-5).


Aristophanes’ comedy, the Frogs, is pivotal for my dating of the Phaedrus. It was staged about six months after the naval victory of Arginusae, four months after the death of Euripides, and two months after the death of Sophocles. Dionysus is journeying to the world below to bring Euripides back to the Athenian stage. There, a contest between Aeschylus and Euripides is under way. Dionysus is the judge, but he can’t decide (1411-1413).

Pluto, the Lord of the underworld, steps in: ‘Then you’ll effect nothing for which you came?’ – Dionysus: ‘And how, if I decide?’ – Pluto: ‘Then take the winner. So will your journey not be made in vain’. (1414-1416, tr. Rogers)

Thus spurred, Dionysus addresses the two contestants: ‘Listen, I came down for a poet’. – Euripides: ‘To what end?’ – Dionysus: ‘That so the city, saved, may keep her choral games. Now then, whichever of you two shall best advise the city, he shall come with me … Let each in turn declare what plan of safety for the state you’ve got’ … Aeschylus advises: ‘When they shall count the enemy’s soil their own, and theirs the enemy’s: when they know that ships are their true wealth, their so-called wealth delusion’ (1417-1465). As the Scholiast observes, this counsel was given by Pericles at the commencement of the war (Thucydides i. 140-144)’ (Rogers ad loc.). Dionysus declares Aeschylus the winner.

Pluto invites Dionysus and Aeschylus to entertain them before sailing away over the lake. The actors leave the stage, and the Chorus enter it.

In the strophe, the Chorus sings the praise of a blessed man who has a perfected his mind. It has been established that he is well disposed towards the City; he is returning home for the good of the citizens, for the good of his relatives and friends; for he is wise (1482-1490).

In the antistrophe, the Chorus finds it delightful not to sit babbling next to Socrates any more – having thrown away the art, and abandoned what is the greatest in it, the art of tragedy. Pursuit of solemn arguments, those petty quibbles, activity in which nothing is done, befits a man who had lost his reason (1496-1499).

The strophe describes the man going to save Athens, and the antistrophe presents this man as one of those around Socrates. Whom among them could Aristophanes see as such a man, and hope that the audience would applaud him? Only Plato.

Aristophanes regales the audience with a well-known incident from Plato’s life. ‘When he was about to compete for the prize with a tragedy, he listened to Socrates in front of the theatre of Dionysus – Aelian (V,H. ii.30) has pro\ tw~n Dionusi/wn, before the festival of Dionysus.”  and then consigned his poems to the flames. From that time onward, having reached his twentieth year, he was the pupil of Socrates (dih/kouse Swkra/touj).’ (Diog. Laert. Iii,5-6).

The Frogs closes with the Chorus imploring the powers below: ‘give the poet ascending to light good journey, and good counsels of great benefits to the City,

‘So we at last shall be freed from the anguish, the fear, and the woe,

Freed from the onsets of war. Let Cleophon now and his band

Battle if battle they must, far away in their own fatherland’

 (tr. of the three closing lines B.B. Rogers).

Let us imagine Plato in his early twenties, how must he have felt, sitting there in the theatre. To see yourself as the leader of the Athenian State in your imagination, and to be pointed at as such in a packed theatre, the audience roaring with applause, is very different.

But there was something wrong with Aristophanes’ presentation; throwing away his tragedies, Plato was not abandoning art (mousikh/), he was embracing it. For philosophy is the greatest mousikh/, to which he invites the reader in the Palinode:

‘The region above the heavens has never yet been celebrated as it deserves by any earthly poet, nor will it ever be … This region is occupied by being which really is, which is without colour or shape, intangible, observable by the steersman of the soul alone, by intellect, and to which the class of true knowledge relates.’ (247c3-d1).

The second part, devoted to rhetoric, is dry in comparison. It is therefore introduced with the myth of cicadas, who announce to Calliope and Ourania those who philosophy even in the midday heat, when others sleep. These two Muses, ‘having as their sphere the heavens and discussions both divine and human, give rise to the most beautiful voice’ (259b-d).’

The third part is very different, introduced as it is with the myth about two Egyptian gods, Theuth and Thamus. Theuth invents writing and presents it to Thamus: “This study, O King, will make the Egyptians wiser and improve their memory; what I have discovered is an elixir of memory and wisdom.” Thamus replied: “Your invention will produce forgetfulness in the souls of those who have learned … through reliance on writing they are reminded from outside by alien marks, not from inside, themselves by themselves … To your students you give appearance of wisdom, not the reality of it … they will appear to know much when for the most part they know nothing.” (274c-275b, tr. Rowe)

A philosopher writes ‘for amusement (paidia=j xa/rin), laying up a store of reminders both for himself, if he reaches a forgetful old age, and for anyone who is following in the same track’ (276d).

If we want to understand the dialogue, we must take into account the historical circumstances in which it was written. With anachronism, Plato indicates the time he finished the dialogue. In his first speech, after describing the lover’s noxious attentions to the boy, Socrates was to narrate the benefits the non-lover would bestow on the boy. But he says to Phaedrus ‘Not a word more shall you have from me; let that be the end of my discourse’ (241d1-3). As he was about to leave, Phaedrus begged him to stay and discuss what was said. Socrates stopped: ‘You’ve a superhuman capacity when it comes to speeches, O Phaedrus; you’re simply amazing. Of the speeches which there have been during your lifetime, I think, no one has brought more into existence than you … Simmias the Theban is the one exception (Simmi/an Qhbai=on e0cairw~ lo/gou); the rest you beat by a long way.’ (242a7-b5, tr. C.J. Rowe). At the time of the dramatic staging of the dialogue – the Peace of Nicias, signed 421, abandoned 414 B.C. – Simmias was a little boy. This we can infer from the Phaedo, where we find Simmias and Cebes referred to as youngsters (neani/skoi, 89a3).

Implicated in the mutilation of herms, Phaedrus was in exile since 415. This is the latest possible dramatic date for the Phaedrus.

Simmias could not come during the war; I believe he came to Athens when ‘the exiles returned, and the Peloponnesians with great enthusiasm began to tear down the walls [of Athens and of Piraeus] to the music of flute-girls, thinking that that day was the beginning of freedom of Greece.’ (Xenophon, Hellenica II.ii.23, tr. C.L. Brownson). The anachronism implies that Plato finished the Phaedrus after he witnessed Simmias’ eager questioning of Socrates and everyone around him.

Apart from the anachronism, it can be ascertained that Plato finished the Phaedrus before the aristocratic revolution. What makes it certain is the Charmides. Socrates’ main interlocutor is Critias. At the end of the dialogue Socrates bewails his inability to make a proper investigation; he did his best to discover what swfrosu/nh (‘self-control’, ‘self-knowledge’, ‘each person doing their own thing’) was, and failed. But Charmides waves Socrates’ ignorance aside – ‘I don’t really believe you at all’ – and expresses his wish to be instructed by Socrates. Critias not only approves, he orders him to let himself be educated by Socrates. Charmides says: ‘I’d be behaving terribly if I didn’t obey you, my guardian, and didn’t do what you tell me.’ – Critias: ‘I’m telling you.’ – Charmides: ‘Well then, I’ll do it, starting today.’ (176b9-c3).

The last couple of lines, which are of crucial importance for the dating of the Charmides, are best narrated by Socrates (he narrates the whole dialogue to his noble friend – ȏ hetaire ‘my friend’ 154b8, ȏ gennada ‘my noble friend’ 155d3):

‘What are you two plotting to do?’ I asked.

‘Nothing,’ said Charmides. ‘We’ve done our plotting.’

‘Are you going to resort to the use of force, without even giving me a preliminary hearing in court?’ I asked.

‘I shall use force,’ he replied, ‘since Critias here orders me to – which is why you should plot what you’ll do.’

‘But there’s no time left for plotting,’ I said. ‘Once you’re intent on doing something and are resorting to the use of force, no man alive will be able to resist you.’

‘Well then,’ he said, ‘don’t resist me either.’

‘Then I won’t resist you’ (Ou0 toi/nun e0nantiw&somai),’ I said. (Translation Donald Watt).

Plato must have written and published these lines before the Thirty summoned Socrates and four others to the Round Chamber, ordering them to go and fetch Leon of Salamis for execution. Socrates says in the Apology that the other four went off to Salamis and arrested Leon, but he went home. (32c4-d7).

Plato narrates the incident at great length in his Seventh letter, referring to it as the reason for his disgust with the Thirty and his turning away from the evils of those days (SL 325a4-5). He returns to it when he speaks of the democrats, who ‘condemned and executed the very man who would not participate in the iniquitous arrest of one of the friends of the party then in exile’ (SL 325c2-5).

Beginning to write the Phaedrus after Aristophanes’ Frogs, and ending it before he conceived the Charmides, Plato wrote and published it during the most difficult months in the life of Athens. This explains its bewildering complexity and contradictions.

The first part is written in the aftermath of the victorious naval battle of Arginusae. Entertaining the reader with its peaceful atmosphere, Plato appeals to the Athenians: accept the peaceful offer extended to us by Sparta.

The second part, devoted to rhetoric, which was the main tool of politics, was written before the defeat and destruction of the Athenian fleet as well, but only after the readers could read, appreciate and judge the first part. For Socrates dismisses in it the two speeches, which he had delivered in the first part. He maintains that they were playfully done just for amusement (paidia=i pepai=sqai, 265c8-9), and that the only thing worthy of serious attention are the two principles of dialectic, which they exemplify. On closer look, the two speeches do not exemplify the two dialectic principles, which Socrates ascribes to them; Plato denigrated the Palinode with religious fanatics in mind.

The third part with its uncompromising denunciation of writing was written after the disastrous battle of Aegospotami, during the months of siege. With the prospect of an aristocratic revolution in the air, the Phaedrus could harm his political ambitions. The first two parts had been published, the best thing he could do was to denigrate them as ‘writing’. From the Seventh Letter we learn that he wrote the Phaedrus at the time in which he was most eager to enter politics (SL 324b8-325b1).

If we read the third part attentively, we find that the dismissal of writing is directed only against the second part of the dialogue. For after elaborating on the myth of the invention of writing Socrates says: ‘Then now we can decide those issues, when we have agreed on these.’ – Phaedrus asks: ‘What issues?’ – Socrates replies: ‘The ones we wanted to look into, which brought us to this: how we were to investigate and scrutinize the reproach aimed at Lysias about the writing of speeches, and speeches themselves, which would be written scientifically and which not.’ (277a6-b2)

Phaedrus spoke about the reproach aimed at Lysias just after Socrates ended the Palinode: ‘For sometimes now I have been amazed at how much finer you managed to make your speech than the one before; so that I am afraid Lysias will appear wretched to me in comparison, if he really does consent to put another in competition with it. Indeed, my fine fellow, just recently one of the politicians was abusing him with this very charge, and throughout all his abuse kept calling him a “speech writer”; so perhaps we shall find him refraining from writing out of concern for his reputation.’ (257c1-7, tr. Rowe) With these words Phaedrus looks back on the Palinode as Socrates’ spoken word, characterized in the third part as the living word of philosophy, and opens the second part, devoted to rhetoric, which is in the third part dubbed as writing, and dismissed as such. In the third part, the prominence of the Palinode is re-ascertained.


Friday, April 2, 2021

A letter to my children on Epicurus

After sending to my daughter the email on Lucretius, I realised that I must tell her that Lucretius’ grand poem De rerum natura is an exposition of the theory of an ancient philosopher, Epicurus. I wrote to her:

Ask Dan, what Shakespeare says about Epicurus in King Lear. In exchange, show him a quotation that I just read – before I phoned you – in Epicurus’ letter to Pythocles, his disciple and friend: ‘In the first place, remember that, like everything else, knowledge of the celestial phenomena, whether taken with other things or in isolation, has no other end in view than peace of mind (ataraxia i.e. ataraxy) and firm conviction’ (quoted in Diogenes Laertius’ The Lives of Eminent Philosophers).

The translator, R.D. Hicks, remarks: “Epicurus defines philosophy as an activity which by words and arguments secures the happy life”.


In King Lear, Goneril says to the king: “Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires; Men so disorder’d, so debosh’d, and bold, That this our court, infected with their manners, Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust.”


To my son I wrote:

I must admit that it is only now that I have been properly reading Epicurus. I started several times in the past, but repulsed by his language, I always stopped after a few pages. The Oxford Classical Dictionary says: “Epicurus' surviving writings are needlessly difficult, clumsy, ambiguous, badly organised and full of jargon. Present-day knowledge and appreciation of Epicurus' system depends very largely on the poem of Lucretius, De rerum natura 'On the nature of things'.”

On Epicurus I agreed with the OCD. But the more I have been reading him, the more I disagree. Let me quote the introductory paragraph from his letter to Menoeceus:

“Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search thereof when he is grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. Therefore, both old and young ought to seek wisdom, the former in order that, as age comes over him, he may be young in good things because of the grace of what has been, and the latter in order that, while he is young, he may at the same time be old, because he has no fear of the things which are to come. So we must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed towards attaining it.”

One more thing. Three influential philosophical schools – stoicism, scepticism, and the system of Epicurus – pursued the same aim in life, ataraxy. But they widely differed in the way they pursued this aim, each opposing the other two. All three started around 300 B.C., although each had a long and distinguished pre-history.


A letter to my daughter on Lucretius

My daughter studies zoology. She sent me the modules she is going to study next year. One of the modules, ‘Evolution of communication: from animal signals to human speech’, compelled me to write to her on Lucretius, a Roman philosopher and poet, who in his poem On the nature of things (De rerum natura) deals with the theme outlined in the module. The passages in his poem devoted to it can be read as a historical background to the module. My daughter read my letter with interest, which encouraged me to put it on my blog in the hope that other students might find it worth reading.

The relevant passages from the poem can be found on my blog in the post of Tuesday, November 3, 2020 entitled ‘Lucretius on the beginning of civilization’. It is not easy to read, for in the post I quote Lucretius verse by verse first in Latin, then in an English translation. In my letter I have eliminated the Latin, giving just an English version, in Bailey’s translation. Bailey follows the Latin original very faithfully, and so it is not easy to read. I therefore preface each section with a short explanatory introduction, printed in italics.


After people got themselves huts and skins and fire, they began to soften:

‘Then after they got themselves huts and skins and fire,

and woman yoked with man retired to a single

home, and the laws of marriage

were learnt, and they saw children sprung from them,

then first the race of man began to soften.

For fire brought it about that their chilly limbs could not now so well bear cold under the roof of heaven,

and Venus lessened their strength, and children, by their winning ways, easily broke down the will of their parents.’


Then neighbours began to make friendship one with another, with cries and gestures entrusted children and women to the charge of men, made compacts of unity, not to hurt or be harmed, and for the most part faithfully kept them:

‘Then, too, neighbours began eagerly to form friendship one with another, not to hurt or be harmed,

and they commended to mercy children and the race of women,

when with cries and gestures they taught by broken words

that ‘tis right for all men to have pity on the weak.

Yet not in all ways could unity be begotten,

but a good part, the larger part, would keep their compacts loyally;

or else the human race would even then have been all destroyed,

nor could breeding have prolonged the generations until now.’


Men used different voices for different things in their dealings with one another:

‘But the diverse sounds of the tongue nature constrained men to utter, and use shaped the names of things in a manner not far other than the very speechlessness of their tongue is seen to lead children on to gesture, when it makes them point out with finger the things that are before their eyes.’


Lucretius supports this insight into the beginning of language by referring to the behaviour of baby animals:

‘For everyone feels for what purpose he can use his own powers.

Before the horns of a calf appear and sprout from his forehead,

he buts with them when angry, and pushes passionately.

But the whelps of panthers and lion-cubs

already fight with claws and feet and biting,

when their teeth and claws are scarce yet formed.

Further, we see all the tribe of winged fowls trusting to their wings, and seeking an unsteady aid from their pinions.’


It is silly to think that somebody gave names to things and taught them to men [as Socrates and Plato and their followers believed]:

‘Again, to think that any one then parcelled out names

to things, and that from him men learnt their first words,

is mere folly. For why should he be able to mark off all things

by words, and to utter the diverse sounds of the tongue,

and at the same time others be thought unable to do this?

Moreover, if others too had not used words to one another, whence was implanted in him the concept of their use; whence was he given the first power to know and see in his mind what he wanted to do?

Likewise one man could not avail to constrain many, and vanquish them to his will, that they should be willing to learn all his names for things;

nor indeed is it easy in any way to teach and persuade the deaf what it is needful to do; for they would not endure it,

nor in any way suffer the sounds of words unheard before to batter on their ears any more to no purpose.’


Clearly, men used their tongue and voice to mark different things with different sounds for their diverse feelings, just as dumb animals give forth diverse sounds for their diverse feelings in different situations:

‘Lastly, what is there so marvellous in this,

if the human race, with strong voice and tongue,

should mark off things with diverse sounds for diverse feelings?

When the dumb cattle, yea and the races of wild beasts

are wont to give forth diverse unlike sounds,

when they are in fear or pain, or again when their joys grow strong.

Yea verily, this we may learn from things clear to see.’

When the large loose lips of Molossian dogs start to snarl in anger, bearing their hard teeth, thus drawn back in rage, they threaten with a noise far other than when they bark and fill all around with their clamour.

Yet when they assay fondly to lick their cubs with their tongue,

or when they toss them with their feet, and making for them with open mouth, feign gently to swallow them, checking their closing teeth

they fondle them with growling voice in a way far other

than when left alone in the house they bay, or when

whining they shrink from beating with cringing body.

Again, is not neighing seen to differ likewise,

when a young stallion in the flower of his years rages among the mares, pricked by the spur of winged love,

and from spreading nostrils snorts for the fray,

and when, it may be, at other times he whinnies with trembling limbs?

Lastly, the tribe of winged fowls and the diverse birds,

hawks and ospreys and gulls amid the sea-waves, seeking in the salt waters for life and livelihood,

utter at other times cries far other

than when they are struggling for their food and fighting for their prey.

And some of them change their harsh notes with the weather as the long-lived tribes of crows

and flocks of rooks, when they are said to cry for water and rain, and anon to summon the winds and breezes.

And so, if diverse feelings constrain animals,

though they are dumb, to utter diverse sounds,

how much more likely is it that mortals should then have been able to mark off things unlike with one sound and another.’

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The police watchdog had failed

The Guardian online reports: On Tuesday Jessica Leigh, one of the original vigil’s organisers said the watchdog report had failed to investigate how the cancellation of the event had led to more anger and the greater likelihood of public disorder.

Let me add: the watchdog failed to investigate the police's and  politicians' inability to foresee and anticipate what happened when they refused to cooperate with Reclaim These Streets and cancelled the event.

The Guardian online reports: The group Reclaim These Streets, formed of local women, had originally worked with police to organize a peaceful and short vigil to honour Sarah Everard. They said local police had originally been willing to work together, but had then said their “hands were tied” and they had to ban the event because of coronavirus restrictions. The group took the police to the high court for an emergency hearing on the day before the event was due to be held, but after their challenge failed, they cancelled the event citing the police’s “lack of constructive engagement”.

Jessica Leigh said: “There is no attempt in this report to address the issue that women now have less trust in the police than they did before the vigil. It is a missed opportunity to recognise the damage done by the police’s decision to push for the event to be cancelled, and exacerbated by their actions while policing the event.”

Let me add: the watchdog failed to anticipate the profoundly negative effect of its report. Young women determined to Reclaim These Streets have now less trust in the police than they did before the watchdog’s report was made and published.


On March 13 I tweeted: Shouldn’t the police have helped to organise Sarah Everard vigil – helping to preserve social distancing, offering face masks to those who wouldn’t wear one – instead of cancelling it?


The watchdog’s report is bedevilled by glaring inconsistency. It says on its website: ‘HMICFRS found that an event on Clapham Common could have taken place because the right to protest remains even during the pandemic. However, it said planning a COVID-friendly event at Clapham Common was not realistic because of the high number of people expected to attend and the limited time available to plan the event. The inspectorate concluded that, in this case, the Met’s decision to prioritise consistency with their approach to policing other mass gathering during the COVID-19 lockdown was right.’

The Associated Press says on its website on March 14: ‘Emotions were still running high Sunday, as several hundred demonstrators gathered outside London police headquarters. The crowds, which were peaceful, then marched to Parliament and laid down on the ground for a minute of silence to remember Everard.’

The policing of the event was impeccable. But imagine what would have happened if the event had been policed in line with ‘the Met’s decision to prioritise consistency with their approach to policing other mass gathering during the COVID-19 lockdown’.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

2 Plato’s Phaedrus and Aristophanes’ Frogs, Cleophon in the Frogs, demagogue in the Phaedrus

In my preceding post I suggested that the Phaedrus can be seen as Plato’s answer to the expectations concerning his entry into the political arena, expectations voiced in Aristophanes’ Frogs. I argued that the song – in which the chorus in the strophe celebrates Aeschylus for ‘his keen intelligent mind’ (echȏn xunesin ȇkribȏmenȇn, 1482-3), returning home to save his city ’because of his keen intelligent mind’ (dia to sunetos einai, 1490), and in the antistrophe deprecates Socrates for activities in which nothing is done, nothing achieved – is aimed at Plato: Plato must shake Socrates off (the antistrophe), becoming fully aware of his powers and of his destiny (the strophe).

Plato in the Phaedrus entered the political arena with Socrates’ opening words ‘My dear Phaedrus (Ō phile Phaidre), where is it you’re going (poi dȇ)?’ Phaedrus was in exile; introducing him as Socrates’ dear friend, Plato presented the return of the emigrants as a political imperative.

Phaedrus replied: ‘I’m going for a walk outside the city-wall (poreuomai pros peripaton exȏ teichous) … I’m taking my walks along the country roads (kata tas hodous poioumai tous peripatous) … walking here is more refreshing than in the colonnades (akopȏterous einai tȏn en tois dromois).’

Phaedrus could take his walks along the country roads only in the dialogue dramatically dated in time of peace, prior to his being accused of profaning the Eleusinian mysteries and fleeing into exile, and thus prior to the Athenian’s invasion of Sicily.

In 405 B.C., when Aristophanes’ Frogs were written and staged, Aristophanes could present the annual solemn procession to Eleusis only in the Underworld. For since the fortification of Deceleia by the Spartans, the procession had been compelled to travel by sea, except when Alcibiades, restored to Athens in 407 B.C. led out his army to protect the overland route (Xen. Hellenica, I. iv.,20,21), ‘so guarding the Mysteries which himself was accused of profaning, and neutralizing the garrison in Deceleia which he had himself recommended to Sparta. And whilst the procession had to travel by sea, says Plutarch, it was shorn of its accustomed solemnities – Alcibiades 34.’ (B.B. Rogers’ comment on Frogs 326). 

Aristophanes in the Frogs, and Plato in the Phaedrus, thus emphasised the conclusion of peace with Sparta as a political imperative. 

In the Frogs, in the parabasis the chorus advises the citizens to re-enfranchise those who were disenfranchised for their connection with the oligarchic revolution of the Four Hundred (in 411 B.C.):

Well it suits the holy Chorus evermore with counsel wise

To exhort and teach the city: this we therefore now advise –

ton hieron choron dikaion esti chrȇsta tȇi polei

xumparainein kai didaskein. prȏton oun hȇmin dokei

End the townsmen’s apprehensions; equalize the rights of all;

exisȏsai tous politas k’aphelein ta deimata. (686-688, tr. B.B. Rogers)

Scholiast says that ‘the play (to drama) … was so admired because of its Parabasis (houtȏ ethaumasthȇ dia tȇn en autȏi Parabasin), in which the author reconciles (kath’ hȇn diallattei) those who enjoyed their citizen-rights (tous entimous) with those who were deprived of all their rights of citizenship (tois atimois) … that it was acted a second time (hȏste kai anedidachthȇ), as says Dicaearchus (hȏs phȇsi Dikaiarchos).’ (III. THŌMA TOU MAGISTROU).


Dicaearchus was a distinguished disciple of Aristotle. Diogenes Laertius refers to him in corroboration of the ancient tradition according to which the Phaedrus was Plato’s first dialogue (III. 38).


Aristophanes in the Frogs pleaded for disenfranchised citizens who lived in Athens. Plato went further: he turned the reader’s mind to citizens who were in exile.


When Aristophanes wrote the Frogs, the political situation in Athens was dominated by the aftermath of the naval victory of Arginusae. The Spartans offered to evacuate Deceleia and conclude a general peace, on the terms that each side should retain what it held. The wiser citizens were anxious to embrace the offer, but the Athenian Assembly, inflamed by the demagog Cleophon with deleterious patriotism, rejected the offer. If Athens were to be saved, Cleophon’s hold on the People’s Assembly had to end. In the Frogs, in the introductory song of the parabasis Aristophanes points to his semi-Thracian origin: ‘upon whose double-speaking lips (eph’ hou dȇ cheilesin amphilalois) the Thracian swallow is terribly roaring (deinon epibremetai Thrȇikia chelidȏn), as it sits perched on that barbarian leafage (epi barbaron hezomenȇ petalon).’

This is Rogers’ prosaic translation of lines 679-682, which he gives in his note on Frogs 678, commenting: ‘It was far from Aristophanes’ intention to attribute to the demagogue the musical notes of the swallow, and therefore the bird on Cleophon’s lips does not warble but deinon epibremetai, “makes a terrible roaring”. It is Cleophon’s voice, and not her own, that issues from the swallow’s throat.’

In his poetic rendering of the Frogs Rogers translates:

‘On the lips of that foreigner base, of Athens the bane and disgrace,

There is shrieking, his kinsman by race,

The garrulous swallow of Thrace.’

Having thus initiated his attack on Cleophon in the parabasis, Aristophanes turns it into a veritable onslaught in the scenes with which the Frogs culminate. Sending Aeschylus ‘back home’ (palin oikad’, 1486), Pluto says to him:

save our state (sȏze polin tȇn hȇmeteran) … and give this to Cleophon (kai dos touti Kleophȏnti), and this to the revenue-raising crew (kai touti toisi poristais), to Nicomachus and Myrmex, together (Murmȇki th’ homou kai Nikomachȏi).

The Scholiast says that ‘this’ means a halter; Aeschylus is asked by Pluto ‘to be carrying’ (pherȏn) three halters, one for each of the three to hang themselves. Pluto continues:

‘And bid them all that without delay,

To my realm of the dead they hasten away.

kai phraz’ autois tacheȏs hȇkein

hȏs eme deuri kai mȇ melleinˑ

For if they loiter above, I swear

I’ll come myself and arrest them there.

And branded and fettered the slaves shall go

Down, down to the darkness below.

k’an mȇ tacheȏs hȇkȏsin, egȏ

nȇ ton Apollȏ stixas autous

kai sumpodisas

kata gȇs tacheȏs apopempsȏ.

Rogers notes on Pluto’s ‘save our state’: ‘In this last solemn scene – for solemn scene it is, although it occurs in comedy – Pluto is paying a compliment to Athens, by identifying himself with her citizens.’


The reader of Plato will be reminded of the closing scene of Plato’s Symposium, in which Socrates ‘compels Agathon [a tragedian] and Aristophanes to acknowledge (prosanankazein ton Sȏkratȇ homologein autous) that the true artist in tragedy is an artist in comedy also (tou autou andros einai kȏmȏidian kai tragȏidian epistasthai poiein, 223c-d).’


In the closing song of the Chorus the desire for peace is paramount, and the rejection of Cleophon definitive:

First, as the poet triumphant is passing away to the light,

Grant him success on his journey, ye powers that are ruling below.

prȏta men euodian agathȇn apionti poiȇtȇi

es phaos ornumenȏi dote, daimones hoi kata gaias,

Grant that he find for the city good counsels to guide her aright;

tȇi te polei megalȏn agathȏn agathas epinoias.

So we at last shall be freed from the anguish, the fear, and the woe,

Freed from the onset of war. Let Cleophon and his band

Battle, if battle they must, far away in their own fatherland.

pangchu gar ek megalȏn acheȏn pausaimeth’ an houtȏs

argaleȏn t’ en hoplois sunodȏn. Kleophȏn de machesthȏ

k’allos ho boulomenos toutȏn patriois en arourais.

Although Aristophanes does not mention the Spartan offer of peace directly, he clearly alludes to it in this closing song of the Chorus. For the Athenians can be ‘freed from the anguish, the fear, and the woe, freed from the onset of war’ only if they conclude a lasting peace with Sparta.

Plato in the Phaedrus does not name Cleophon. But when he speaks of ‘a rhetorician (ho rȇtorikos) who is ignorant of good and evil (agnoȏn agathon kai kakon), who employs his power of persuasion on a community as ignorant as himself (labȏn polin hȏsautȏs echousan peithȇi), and by studying the beliefs of the masses (doxas de plȇthous memeletȇkȏs) he persuades them to do evil instead of good (peisȇi kaka prattein ant’ agathȏn, 260c), who else can he be speaking about but Cleophon?

Cleophon was invincible in the People’s Assembly. Aristophanes could allow himself to attack him as he did because he directed at him his wit, in which his audience delighted. Had Plato merely stated that Cleophon, being ignorant of good and evil, persuaded the Athenians to do what was bad for them instead of good, his statement would be counterproductive.

Socrates asked: ‘Well then, for things that are to be said well and acceptably, at least, mustn’t there be knowledge in the mind of the speaker of the truth (Ar’ oun ouch huparchein dei tois eu ge kai kalȏs rȇthȇsomenois tȇn tou legontos dianoian eiduian to alȇhes) about whatever he intends to speak about (hȏn an erein peri mellȇi;)?’

Phaedrus: ‘What I have heard about this (Houtȏsi peri toutou akȇkoa), my dear Socrates (ȏ phile Sȏkrates), is that there is no necessity for the man who intends to be an orator (ouk einai anankȇn tȏi mellonti rȇtori esesthai) to understand what is really just (ta tȏi onti dikaia manthanein), but only what would appear so to the majority of those who will give judgement (alla ta doxant’ an plȇthei hoiper dikasousin), and not what is really good (oude ta ontȏs agatha) or fine (ȇ kala) but whatever will appear so (all’ hosa doxei); because persuasion comes from that (ek gar toutȏn einai to peithein) and not from the truth (all’ ouk ek tȇs alȇtheias).’

Socrates: ‘Not to be cast aside, Phaedrus, must apply to whatever wise people say, and we should perhaps look to see whether they may not be right (Outoi apoblȇton epos einai dei, ȏ Phaidre, ho an eipȏsi sophoi, alla skopein mȇ ti legȏsi); what has just been said, particularly (kai dȇ kai to nun lechthen), must not be dismissed (ouk apheteon).’ – Phaedrus: ‘Quite right (Orthȏs legeis)’. – Socrates: ‘Let us consider it like this (Hȏde dȇ skopȏmen auto). – Phaedrus: ‘How (Pȏs;)’

Socrates: ‘If I were persuading you (ei se peithoimi egȏ) to defend yourself against the enemy (polemious amunein) by getting a horse (ktȇsamenon hippon), and neither of us knew what a horse was (amphȏ de hippon agnooimen), but I happened to know just so much about you (tosonde mentoi tunchanoimi eidȏs peri sou), that Phaedrus thinks a horse is that tame animal (hoti Phaidros hippon hȇgeitai to tȏn hȇmerȏn zȏiȏn) which has the largest ears – (megista echon ȏta)’ – Phaedrus stepped in: ‘It would be ridiculous, Socrates (Geloion g’ an, ȏ Sȏkrates, eiȇ).’ – Socrates: ‘Not yet (Oupȏ ge); but it would be when I tried earnestly to persuade you (all’ hote dȇ spoudȇ se peithoimi) by putting together a speech in praise of the donkey (suntitheis logon epainon kata tou onou), labelling it a horse (hippon eponomazȏn) and saying (kai legȏn) that the beast would be an invaluable acquisition both at home (hȏs pantos axion to thremma oikoi te kektȇsthai) and on active service (kai epi stratias), useful to fight from (apopolemein te chrȇsimon) and capable too of carrying baggage (kai pros g’ enenkein dunaton skeuȇ), and good for many other purposes (kai alla polla ȏphelimon).’ – Phaedrus: ‘Then it would be thoroughly ridiculous (Pangeloion g’ an ȇdȇ eiȇ).’

Socrates: ‘Well then (Ar’ oun), isn’t ridiculous and friendly better than clever and hateful (ou kreitton geloion kai philon ȇ deinon te kai echthron einai; 260c3-4)?’ – Phaedrus: ‘It seems so’ (Phainetai). – Socrates: ‘So when an expert in rhetoric (Hotan oun ho rȇtorikos) who is ignorant of good and evil (agnoȏn agathon kai kakon) employs his power of persuasion on a city as ignorant as himself (labȏn polin hȏsautȏs echousan peithȇi), not by extolling a miserable donkey as being really a horse (mȇ peri onou skias hȏs hippou ton epainon poioumenos), but by extolling evil as being really good (alla peri kakou hȏs agathou): and when by studying the beliefs of the masses (doxas de plȇthous memeletȏkȏs) he persuades them to do evil instead of good (peisȇi kaka prattein ant’ agathȏn), what kind of crop his oratory is likely to reap from the seed thus sown (poion tina oiei meta tauta tȇn rȇtorikȇn karpon hȏn espeire therizein;)?’ (259e4-260d1)


Hackforth and Rowe translate 260c3-4 differently. Hackforth: ‘Well, isn’t it better to be a ridiculous friend than a clever enemy?’ Rowe: ‘Well then, isn’t it better to be ridiculous and well-intentioned than to be clever and full of hostile intentions?’ But Socrates’ question – ‘isn’t ridiculous and friendly better than clever and hateful’ – refers to the rhetorician’s pronouncements, not to his intentions. Cleophon wanted the best for the people of Athens, he just did not know what was good.


Let me end this post with Cleophon as Lysias saw him:

‘You all know that Cleophon had all the affairs of the State in his hands for many years (Kleophȏnta de pantes iste hoti polla etȇ diecheirise ta tȇs poleȏs panta), and was expected to have got a great deal by his office (kai prosedokato panu polla ek tȇs archȇs echein); but when he died (apothanontos d’ autou) this money was nowhere to be found (oudamou dȇla ta chrȇmata), and moreover his relatives both by blood and by marriage (alla kai hoi prosȇkontes kai hoi kȇdestai), in whose hands he would have left it (par’ hois an katelipen), are admittedly poor people (homologoumenȏs penȇtes eisi).’ (Lysias XIX, 48-49, tr. W.R.M. Lamb)

After the disastrous battle at Aegospotami, Cleophon once again damaged the city with his well intentioned rhetoric: ‘They [ie. the oligarchs] began with an attack on Cleophon in the following matter (prȏton men oun Kleophȏnti epethento ek tropou toioutou). When the first Assembly was held on the question of peace (hote gar hȇ prȏtȇ ekklȇsia peri tȇs eirȇnȇs egigneto), and the emissaries of the Spartans (kai hoi para Lakedaimoniȏn hȇkontes) stated the terms on which the Spartans were prepared to make peace (elegon eph’ hois hetoimoi eien tȇn eirȇnȇn poieisthai hoi Lakedaimonioi) – on condition that the Long Walls were demolished, each to the extent of ten stades (ei kataskapheiȇ tȏn technȏn tȏn makrȏn epi deka stadia hekaterou), – you then refused, men of Athens, to stomach what you had heard as to the demolition of the walls (tote humeis te, ȏ andres Athȇnaioi, ouk ȇneschesthe akousantes peri tȏn teichȏn tȇs kataskaphȇs), and Cleophon arose and protested on behalf of you all (Kleophȏn te huper humȏn pantȏn anastas anteipen) that by no means could the thing be done (hȏs oudeni tropȏi hoion te eiȇ poiein tauta).’ (Lysias XIII, 8, tr. W.R.M. Lamb)

Cleophon prevailed: ‘After that Theramenes (meta de tauta Thȇramenȇs), who was plotting against democracy (epibouleuȏn tȏi plȇthei tȏi humeterȏi) arose and said that (anastas legei hoti), if you would appoint him (ean auton helȇsthe) an ambassador to treat for peace with a free hand (peri tȇs eirȇnȇs presbeutȇn autokratora), he would arrange (poiȇsei) that there should be neither a breach made in the walls (hȏste mȇte tȏn teichȏn dielein) nor any other abasement of the city (mȇte allo tȇn polin elattȏsthai mȇden); and that he thought (oioito de kai) he would contrive even to get from the Spartans some additional boon for the city (allo ti agathon para Lakedaimoniȏn tȇi polei heurȇsesthai) … Well, he went to Sparta (ekeinos men oun elthȏn eis Lakedaimona) and stayed there a long time (emenen ekei polun chronon), though he had left you here in a state of siege (katalipȏn humas poliorkoumenous), and knew that your population was in desperate straits (eidȏs to humeteron plȇthos en aporiai echomenon), as owing to the war (kai dia ton polemon) and its distresses (kai ta kaka) the majority must be in want of the necessities of life (tous pollous tȏn epitȇdeiȏn endeeis ontas). But he thought that (nomizȏn), if he should reduce you to the condition (ei diatheiȇ humas) to which he in fact reduced you (hȏsper diethȇke), you would be only too glad to make peace on any terms (hopoiantinoun ethelȇsai an eirȇnȇn poiȇsasthai). The others remained here (hoi d’ enthade hupomenontes), with the design of subverting the democracy (kai epibouleuontes katalusai tȇn dȇmokratian); they brought Cleophon to trial (eis agȏna Kleophȏnta kathistasi), on the pretext (prophasin men) that he did not go to the camp (hoti ouk ȇlthen eis ta hopla) for his night’s rest (anapausomenos), but really (to d’ alȇthes) because he had spoken on your behalf against the destruction of the walls (hoti anteipen huper humȏn mȇ kathairein ta teichȇ). So they packed a jury for his trial, and these promoters of oligarchy appeared before the court and had him put to death (ekeinȏi men oun dikastȇrion paraskeuasantes kai eiselthontes hoi boulomenoi oligarchian katastȇsasthai apekteinan) on that pretext (en tȇi prophasei tautȇi). Theramenes arrived later from Sparta (Thȇramenȇs de husteron aphikneitai ek Lakedaimonos) … He came bringing a peace (pherȏn eirȇnȇn) … its terms required (enȇn gar) … the razing of the Long walls in their entirety (hola ta makra teichȇ diaskapsai); and instead of his contriving to get some additional boon for the city (anti de tou allo ti agathon tȇi polei heuresthai): surrender of our ships (tas te naus paradounai) and dismantling of the wall around Piraeus (kai to peri ton Peiraia teichos perielein).’ (Lysias XIII, 9-14, tr. W.R.M. Lamb)