Advice and Its Rhetoric in Greece and Rome 8879494392, 9788879494397

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Advice and Its Rhetoric in Greece and Rome
 8879494392, 9788879494397

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Editorial Board: Dr. Catherine Atherton (Oxford) Prof. Francesco De Martino (Foggia) Prof. Alan Sommerstein (Nottingham) Dr. Elena Theodorakopoulos (Birmingham)

Volume 9, 2006

In the sameSeries








EDUCATION IN GREEKFICTION, ed. Alan Sommerstein& CatherineAtherton,1996


FORMANDCONTENTIN DIDACTICPOETRY, ed. Alan Sommerstein& CatherineAtherton,1997






SLEEP,ed. ThomasWiedeman& Ken Dowden,2003


ADVICEANDITS RHETORICIN GREECEANDROME, 2006 ed. DianaSpencer& ElenaTheodorakopoulos,

Forthcoming Volume10 RECEPTIONSOF HELLENISM,ed. NiallLivingstone

ADVICEAND ITS RHETORIC IN GREECEAND ROME Edited by Diana Spencer and Elena Theodorakopoulos


© 2006 - Tutti i diritti riservati

Contents Page Notes on Contributors List of illustrations Introduction DIANASPENCERand ELENATHEODORAKOPOULOS

VI Vll


1 'Good men who have skill in speaking': performingadvice in Rome DIANASPENCERand ELENATHEODORAKOPOULOS

2 On the receiving end: the hidden protagonistof Plato's Laches ANDREWBARKER

1 31

3 Advice and Advisers in Xenophon'sAnabasis TIM ROOD


4 Consul and consilium:suppressingthe Catilinarianconspiracy CATHERINESTEEL


5 Tellingit like it is: Seneca,Alexanderand the dynamicsof epistolary advice DIANASPENCER

6 Advice from on high - Pliny and Trajan ANDYFEAR 7 Dio Chrysostomand the developmentof On Kingship literature HARRYSIDEBOTTOM 8

'That's not funny': advice in skoptic epigram GIDEONNISBET

79 105 117 159

9 Afterword:giving advice in Greek letters DESMONDCOSTA Bibliography Index

179 193 209

Notes on Contributors Andrew Barker is Professor of Classics at the University of Birmingham Desmond Costa is Emeritus Professor of Classics at the University of Birmingham Andy Fear is Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Manchester Gideon Nisbet is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Glasgow Tim Rood is Fellow and Tutor in Classics at St Hugh's College, Oxford Harry Sidebottom is Fellow in Ancient History at Greyfriar's Hall, a Lecturer at Lincoln College, and a Hall Tutor at St Benet's Hall, Oxford Diana Spencer is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham Catherine Steel is Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Glasgow Elena Theodorakopoulos is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham

List of illustrations (pp. 156-157) Fig. 1: Hellenistic Kingship theory Fig. 2: Ways to reconstruct the contents of Hellenistic Kingship literature

Introduction Diana Spencer and Elena Theodorakopoulos

Substantially, the essays in this collection formed part of the 2000 meeting of the Midlands Classics Colloquium, held on that occasion in Nottingham. We are sad to say that Thomas Wiedemann's contribution on the consilium principis, though a highlight of the day, could not be recovered to be included in this volume. The essays by Desmond Costa and Gideon Nisbet, as well as our own essay, are additions to the original conference essays - we hope that they help to illuminate different facets of our subject. At its most basic, advice is the help that a friend or comrade gives - a gesture that saves one from acting, and also from feeling, alone. This, surely, is Diomedes' point when asking for someone to come with him on his nocturnal expedition: If another comrade would escort me though, there'd be more comfort in it, confidence too. When two work side by side, one or the other spots the opening first if a kill's at hand. When one looks out for himself, alert but alone, his reach is shorter - his sly moves miss the mark. (Homer Iliad 10.224-226) 1

It is settled that Odysseus will go with him, and so Diomedes achieves

both the comfort he asks for and the practical benefits to be had from

' Robert Fagles trans. Homer: The Iliad ( 1990).



being _partof a pair. He also now has as his partner one of the Iliad's best advisers - and the added bonus of Athena, an even greater Homeric adviser. There are, of course, many more public roles for advice or counsel in the Iliad itself: the process of making plans and taking decisions - of boule in the broadest sense - is central to the poem. 2 And the giving and the receiving of good counsel, both in assemblies and between friends, seem to be as much part of the world of the Iliad as the relentless pursuit of glory in warfare. In the Iliad, as in subsequent ancient advice literature, good advice is closely connected with the art of persuasion - it is not sufficient for advice to be wise and sound, it needs also to be delivered by an effective orator. This emphasis on a need to combine rhetoric with wisdom is evident for instance in Athenian symbouleutic speeches, such as those represented by Thucydides and Xenophon, or in the symbouleutic speeches of Demosthenes. Like so many other aspects of ancient culture, and in particular perhaps of Athenian democracy, advice and its rhetoric can therefore be seen to be part of what Simon Goldhill has termed a 'performance culture' .3 Of course, rhetoric and performance are harnessed both in the Iliad and in democratic Athens in order to achieve, through good counsel, a particular outcome. But in both worlds it is often the performance of the adviser that is more memorable and more successful than the decision-making process it is meant to influence. In our joint essay, which was stimulated and informed by our reading of the work of our contributors, we tum to the ways in which this rhetoric of advice is played out at Rome, as part of a wider set of discourses of citizen identity. Tracing a continuum of sorts from Homer through to the Second Sophistic, we endeavour to signal some of the connections between our contributors' individual approaches to the rhetoric and the performance of advice - and indeed to the processes and dynamics of advisory situations. This in tum reflects the approaches to advice that are addressed by many individual essays in this collection, in particular, a focus on the persona and status of the adviser, and on the relationship and power balance between adviser and advisee. 2 J

See Schofield I 986. Goldhill 1997: 55.



One initial, and in many ways foundational, example of such a relationship is explored in Andrew Barker's essay on the Laches. Barker here revises the traditional characterisation of the Laches as an investigation of andreia. In Barker's reading, the Laches is about the seeking, giving, and receiving of advice - the 'hidden protagonist' as he puts it, is the seeker of advice. In Barker's reading, Plato makes the dialogue an exploration of how to refocus and re-energise Lysimachus and Melesias as active and critically aware advisees who can take a positive part in the reciprocities of the process. And it is the task imposed on the receiver of advice that Barker argues is crucial to this dialogue. Socrates' examination of whether or not Nicias and Laches understand and can articulate the goal of the project on which their advice is sought (the minimum criteria for being good advisers) finds them wanting. Hence, Socrates says that since all are at a loss they must continue to search for a real expert who can teach the boys, as well as the fathers themselves. In the search for this elusive - and perhaps intentionally non-existent expert, everything hinges on the increasing communality that the dialogue fosters. Lysimachus had initially made reciprocity central to the advisory process and Socrates' strategy is to expand this dramatically. Now, all parties are not just equally involved, but involved in precisely the same way. Socrates' version elides distinctions between adviser and advisee, and ultimately draws up a scenario which models adviser and advisee as requiring the same moral and intellectual qualities. Ultimately, then, Barker argues that the dialogue works towards a conclusion whereby the ideal advisee must be able to exercise all the same qualities as the ideal adviser. Through learning how to assess advisers and advice, adviceseekers can become advisers themselves. The rather gruelling didactic dialogue they need to conduct in order to be in a position to do this is itself a form of advice-taking - though clearly not what they had in mind. As Barker's discussion ends up by showing, it is one of the central paradoxes of that relationship between adviser and advice-seeker, that in its ideal shape it should be completely redundant. Like Barker, Tim Rood is also interested in what happens when people seek advice - especially from Socrates. Rood's analysis of Xenophon's introduction of Socrates in the Anabasis, and of the figure of the character Xenophon as advice-seeker, suggests a development of the Herodotean



motif of the wise counsellor. In Rood's reading, what matters most to Xenophon is Socrates' role as adviser - not the pragmatic or thematic aspects of his advice (he is right, for instance, but for the wrong reasons). Rood's interest is, once more, in the dynamic of advising - in the implications of reciprocity, but also in the role of obedience, in didacticism, and in the importance of perception and image for ensuring authority. Ultimately though, in both the Cyropaedia and in the Anabasis, it is the character of Xenophon himself who plays the role of adviser, and through whom the dynamics of advice are explored. Rood's argument is that in the Cyropaedia, Xenophon is the man who can give advice; in the Anabasis he models the political, psychological and ethical development that brought Xenophon (with hindsight) to that point. Xenophon's persona as adviser in his texts is especially important as it highlights the role of ethopoeia, and the significance of rhetoric in the literature of advice. As Rood shows, Xenophon's self-casting as adviser allows him to play the parts of both Themistocles - the tactically brave, but not rash, military adviser - and of Pericles, the political strategist and adviser. Behind the characterisation on offer is, Rood suggests, a subtle interrogation of rhetoric in history and rhetoric as history, deployed via Xenophon's selffashioning in public articulations of his own political role as a leader/adviser. By presenting 'his' positive qualities (e.g. maintenance of discipline and morale) using speech, Xenophon highlights them to both the external and the internal audience. He is also doing something else, viz, drawing on his own actions as exempla - demonstrating advicegiving as practised by himself. Catherine Steel's discussion of Cicero's advisory rhetoric in the First Catilinarian explores a situation in which advice is perhaps as much about pragmatic intervention in political process as it is about the establishment of power and position. As Steel points out, it is particularly striking that Cicero chooses to speak as an adviser just when - and this was a rare occasion for Cicero - he has access to real executive power as consul. His deliberate, and overtly rhetorical, tactic in this first speech is not to give orders, but to advise - not the Senate, but Catiline. In advising Catiline to go into exile rather than ordering him to leave, Cicero creates for himself the most powerful position he can, under the circumstances. But of course, there are ramifications: if Catiline can be successfully advised by



Cicero, he must have some of the good qualities of an ideal advisee (as we have seen above). And if Cicero's oratory was powerful enough to persuade Catiline to leave, then perhaps Catiline was not such a great menace after all. Steel's discussion draws out the nuanced dynamics of advice-giving as a political act, and of the crucial part played by the role of the adviser in determining power and position in Roman political life. Literature On Kingship is of course a key locus for the rhetoric and the dynamics of advice, as well as for its pragmatic significance. And the essays by Harry Sidebottom, Andy Fear, and Diana Spencer all approach the relationships between leaders and advisers, and the ways in which advice to kings, of one kind or another, is articulated. Sidebottom makes the crucial (for our interest in the performance of advice) point that Dio's decision to write a speech to be performed before the emperor (instead of the then customary 'letter') reinvents the cultural significance of the genre. Given this reinvention, Sidebottom suggests that we must revisit the whole nature of On Kingship literature, and investigate how 'safely' ceremonial it really is. In refashioning On Kingship literature as spoken oration (or at least as signalling orality), and in referring to previous 'performance', Sidebottom's Dio makes the delivery of advice part of a self-conscious investigation of imperial discourse and the relationship between emperors and advisers and emperors as advisees. Moreover, Sidebottom is interested in the possibility that a more explicit acknowledgement of the Principate as a monarchy (and cultural changes in the 'Second Sophistic') are factors in Dio's work. 'Repeating' his orations in front of a Greek audience allows Dio to model the Roman emperor turning to Greece (and Greek philosophy) to learn how best to rule - a topic that we ourselves discuss in our own essay. This 'repetition' also has a didactic quality, suggesting to his Greek audience that to be the best sort of Greek is to aspire to the qualities that characterise the ideal king. The relationship between Pliny and Trajan is given an interesting twist in Fear's essay, in which once again the seeking of advice is as much at stake as the giving - especially as Fear's discussion focuses on Book 10 of Pliny's Epistles, where Pliny relentlessly badgers the Princeps for advice. Fear's discussion makes it quite clear that in asking for advice -



and in making publicly accessible a persona of himself as advice-seeker Pliny's is a very complex game indeed. At the heart of the dynamic of advice as it is presented are some very central Roman questions regarding the nature of the princeps' authority, the virtue of obedience and the interplay between personal ambition and the greater good of the res publica. The fact that we have, in these letters, a model dialogue between adviser and advice-seeker, a kind of dramatisation of the theoretical positions we see negotiated in other advice literatures, makes this a particularly intriguing relationship. One might for instance investigate the possibility that Pliny's achievement here is to tum the tables on the awkwardness of the adviser's position vis-a-vis the princeps: on the one hand, Pliny appears to be undermining Trajan's authority by allocating to him the inferior role of adviser. On the other hand, his use of the term dominus seems to endow Trajan with more power and authority than he wants. As in the Panegyricus there may be in these letters a contrast between a carefully constructed veneer (that the princeps is first-amongequals) - and a subtle pointing out of the realities of the situation (that ultimate power rests with the princeps only). Spencer's essay examines Seneca's self-fashioning as adviser, and explores the complex dynamics of giving and receiving advice. Once more, the emphasis is on the role of the adviser and on how this role fits into the uneasy power relationships that characterise Roman elite society of the early empire. What Spencer's reading of Epistle 83 suggests is that the process and the dynamics of advice, when real political power is involved, is perpetually, as she puts it, on a knife edge. In setting himself up as the ideal, wise adviser, Seneca has to set a scene in which advice, ideally, is not necessary (as we see in Barker's Laches discussion). But clearly, when dealing with Nero, it is more than necessary - and Neronian Realpolitik hovers around the rhetoric of Seneca's advice all the time. It is also necessary that Seneca, for all his acknowledged, indeed advertised, moral and intellectual superiority over the Princeps, must not seek power for himself - must shirk it in fact. Yet in offering advice and indeed in tutoring the emperor (the lines between the two activities are blurred) Seneca plays out the paradox with which he is faced: either to embrace a total withdrawal from public life, which he guides Lucilius towards in the



Epistles; or the assumption of real political power, which his superior consilium, displayed in his treatises and in the Epistles, would demand. Away from the realm of emperors and advisers, Gideon Nisbet, too, explores the dynamics of advice in the perhaps unexpected context of satirical epigram, or to be more precise, skoptic epigram. Nisbet's approach to these epigrams is, in a sense, to take them at their word - and to come up with a more culturally 'thick' reading. In looking at the advisory situations that the poems in Book 11 of the Palatine Anthology play out (the symposium, friendship - also a rather violent care of the self), Nisbet shows that much might be gained from relating the exhortations and the negative exempla found to ideologies of Greek identity. Nisbet's examples show how fruitful such a new approach can be - and how, surprisingly perhaps, it is the advisory content of the poems that challenges a reading like this. In the context of this collection, Nisbet's essay highlights the importance of the reception as well as the giving of advice. It is after all, as Nisbet makes clear, up to the reader how (or indeed whether) to read the epigrammatists' advice. Perhaps the ideal reader of these epigrams is, once again, someone who has no need of advice. Perhaps, too, in questioning our own reading practices vis-a-vis such texts, we can learn something about our own reception of the Classics: we may be prepared to take advice, indirectly, from the likes of Plato or Cicero - but how do we cope with the hurled abuse of the epigrams in the Anthology? As Nisbet shows, we may choose not to read the poems at all - or to read them with the ironic detachment of the postmodem readers that we are. In this volume's valedictory essay, Desmond Costa surveys a range of real and fictional letters purporting to give advice. What we see in these letters - as we do elsewhere in the collection - is that the creation of the adviser's character and persona is frequently the central concern. So, the letters of Epicurus are read not merely for their moral and didactic value, but also for the picture they may give of the great philosopher. Costa points also to the ways in which, in Christian correspondences, the kind of counsel given in formal sermons is personalised and adapted to the intimacy of a private letter. This interplay between public and private is an important aspect of role of advice in Roman friendships - as described for



instance in De Amicitia, and as performed in Cicero's letters. As we discuss in our essay, De Amicitia offers one important model for all subsequent such projects of self-fashioning, but a model which at the same time is intensely interested in how Rome's prominent maiores can, and indeed must, partake in contemporary consilium. Hence, Ciceronian ethopoeia inclines towards the generation of communities which draw together past and present, and also foreshadow their own position as exemplary maiores in similar future contexts. Cicero's insistence on retrospection when deliberating on amicitia and consilium makes inevitable, in effect, the epistolary communities of Christian self-scrutiny. The other body of letters which Costa explores falls very firmly in this category of ethopoeia: fictional letters by great men (Socrates, Themistocles), offering counsel on real historical events. The interplay between the fictional letter addressed to Xenophon by Socrates, which Costa draws attention to, and its 'real' intertext in Xenophon's Anabasis opens up some intriguing questions about the rhetoric of advice, both fictional and real. Such open questions and further avenues for study are an important aim of this collection as a whole (and the colloquium on which it is based). We are also eager to highlight some less than typical connections which the theme of advice can draw out, not just between the cultural production of different eras, but also between different modes and genres. In our opening essay we outline a story that writes Homer and the world of epic into Cicero's republic, and then finds, in the problematic quality of advice in Virgil's Aeneid, another way of understanding Augustus' selffashioning as innovator and reactionary. Our discussion of the performance of advice in particular foregrounds Seneca's indebtedness to Cicero and at the same time the awkwardness, in Neronian Rome, of that backwards glance. Commencing with Homer, we go on to explore the strategies adopted and adapted during the Second Sophistic to mediate Rome's relationship with Greece. We find, in this, similarities with the model developed by Polybius - in particular his relationship with the young Scipio; it is with the implications of that relationship for future attempts to model the self that we conclude. Costa's final selection shows where these paradigms eventually lead, and offers a series of texts that eventually mark the transition between 'classical' and 'modern' selves.

1 'Good men who have skill in speaking': performing advice in Rome· Diana Spencer and Elena Theodorakopoulos

1. Autonomy, consensus and the performance of advice

At the beginning of the Iliad a famous example of excellent advice, delivered by the best of advisers, falls on deaf ears. In the struggle to be the best, the cultivation of an ideal self gets rather short shrift from the Greek leaders: You are both younger than I, and in my time I struck up with better men than you, even you, but never once did they make light of me. I've never seen such men, I never will again ... men like Pirithous, Dryas, that fine captain, Canaeus and Exadius, and Polyphemus, royal prince, And Theseus, Aegeus' boy, a match for the immortals. They were the strongest mortals ever bred on earth, the strongest, and they fought against the strongest too, shaggy Centaurs, wild brutes of the mountains they hacked them down, terrible, deadly work. and I was in their ranks, fresh out of Pylos,

· We would like to thank this volume's Reader for invaluable advice in shaping this essay, and the whole collection - infelicities that remain are our own. We are also grateful to Niall Livingstone and Gideon Nisbet for commenting on and helping to polish our early drafts, and to Matthew Fox for advice on Cicero. The quotation in the title is Quintilian Inst. Or. 12. l.



( ...)

they took to their heart my counsels, marked my words. So now you listen too, yielding is far better ... don't seize the girl, Agamemnon, powerful as you are leave her, just as the sons of Achaea gave her, his prize from the very first. And you, Achilles, never hope to fight it out with your king, pitting force against his force: No one can match the honours dealt a king, you know, a sceptered king to whom great Zeus gives glory. Strong as you are - a goddess was your mother he has more power because he rules more men. Atrides, end your anger - look it's Nestor! I beg you, cool your fury against Achilles. ( ...)

But King Agamemnon answered him in haste, 'True, old man, all you say is fit and proper but this soldier wants to tower over the armies, he wants to rule over all, to lord it over all, give out orders to ·every man in sight. Well, there's one, I trust, who will never yield to him!' (Iliad 1.259 -91)'

The point of Nestor's advice is that Agamemnon and Achilles should have listened, as their ancestors did before them, that they should have behaved in a way that was worthy of their ancestors ('better men than you'), and that to be persuaded by Nestor is the right thing to do ('yielding is far better'). In following the advice of an older and wiser man, they would be acting as their better selves. Agamemnon at least shows awareness of this ('all you say is fit and proper'), but is nonetheless unwilling to act on the advice. At other times a consensus is reached with Nestor's help - as we will see in a moment. But the initial lack of success is significant - and continues to hover over the poem and its reception. There are two aspects of this initial scene which have a special impact on our views on the performance of advice-giving at Rome. First, the fact that as an adviser Nestor is an 'amateur' - not a professional teacher or

' Translation by Robert Fagles Homer: The Iliad. 1990



philosopher, but someone who fulfils two essential criteria: through his age and experience he has knowledge of virtue, and through his rhetorical skill he has always been able to guide and persuade those around him ('they took to their heart my counsels, marked my words'). Second, that Nestor's unheeded advice aims to instil self-control ('never hope to fight it out', 'end your anger') in two kings who are unable to govern themselves - and thus are ultimately unsuited to governing others. Both factors - the adviser's status and power of persuasion, and the adviser's concern with restraint and control - are central to Roman hortatory or advisory discourse. There are other occasions, of course, when we do see Agamemnon listening to counsel, so boule can sometimes be successful in Homer. Nestor himself, just before the extract from the speech we give above, praises Achilles and Agamemnon as excelling in both fighting and counsel. And euboulia is - despite this initial failure - one of the primary virtues of the Homeric warrior, just as assemblies and councils are part of the very fabric of the poem. 2 Our interest in commencing with Homeric advice, however, is focused on the way in which its partial failure illuminates the relationship between powerful and effective individuals and the groups they lead or represent. Homeric autocrats/aristocrats have the option of getting it wrong, even though their advisers excel in wisdom. The wisdom that Homeric advisers embody is interesting, we suggest, because it is one that ultimately must be ignored or at least not acted fully upon. The failure of the Homeric hero to internalise and execute the good counsel that he receives from his advisers/friends is what leads to his characteristically glorious and disastrous end.3 In effect, as we saw in our initial example, the Homeric hero's adviser/friend is a kind of alter or even superego figure: the self which admonishes. 4 So, it is not only his political or strategic effect which is limited, but also his philosophical effect: the Homeric hero remains at all times free to race towards his

' Schofield 1986: 9-10. On this, see Schofield 1999b: 17. 4 For a detailed discussion of the 'Greek' self, see Padel 1992 passim, and on the self in Homer, see in particular Padel's comments at 1992: 46. 3



inevitable, and catastrophic end - and to take a great many people down with him. 5 Despite, or perhaps because of, the prominence of unsuccessful boule, the Iliad still offers pickings for successive political philosophers. 6 This, we suggest, is because the virtue of being good at consensus is not, alone, enough to ensure successful governance - in addition, a strong oligarchy or autocracy is frequently posited as the framework within which euboulia will thrive. In other words, from Homer through Plato and all the way to Cicero, Agamemnon has to be able to do it his way, too against advice and in spite of consensus. 7 When Cicero's Scipio formulates his ideal state (De Rep. 1.39-42), he begins by defining the republic as not any random gathering of people, but as a large group, brought together by a shared sense of justice, and commonality of purpose. 8 The realisation of both justice and purpose, and indeed the very stability of the state, are down to consilium, the process of making decisions: 9 omnis res publica ... consilio quodam regenda est, ut diutuma sit. id autem consilium primum semper ad earn causam referendum est quae causa genuit ciuitatem. deinde aut uni tribuendum est, aut delectis quibusdam, aut suscipiendum est multitudini atque omnibus. (De Rep. 1.41-42) every state ... must be governed by some form of counsel or deliberation, if it is to be long-lived. That counsel must in the first place always be brought into line with the original reason which brought the state into being. Then it (consilium) may be allocated to one individual, or to a selected group, or it can be taken up by all the people.


On the hero as competitive amateur, see Schofield 1999•: 14. For the idea of the hero as painfully mortal, see Van Nortwick 1996: 12. 6 See Schofield 1999b: 3-4. 1 Other, alternative traditions also exist, e.g. Thucydides' account of Pericles' funeral oration (2.34-46); Epicurean ataraxia; even the kinds of comic utopias that Aristophanes experiments with. ' Cicero De Rep. 1.39 'sed coetus multitudinis iuris consensu et utilitatis communione sociatus'. 9 As Niall Rudd explains, in the notes to his translation (Rudd 1998), consilium here means both policy (or counsel) and the deliberative body that makes the policy.



There are two conditions, according to this, for consilium to function properly. First, it must be related to the state's founding principles (that is, it must serve the common purpose, and adhere to the shared sense of justice, which brought the group together in the first place). Second, the decision-making needs to be entrusted to someone. It becomes clear later on that by far the best way to proceed, in Scipio's (and Cicero's) view, is for the populus to entrust consilium, and so the safety of the state, to a selected aristocracy: certe in optimorum consiliis posita est civitatium salus, 'surely the safety of cities is placed in the deliberation/decisionmaking of the best' (De Rep. 1.51).10 And this, as in Homer, must raise the possibility of the failure of 'the best' to provide the best decisions. Achieving an ideal advisory relationship in practice may be doomed from the outset - it requires the agency of an individual or group which is free to refuse good advice, but never does so. But that leaves a lot of room for negotiating the role of the adviser, and in particular, the kinds of glory available to him. If we look back again to Homer, we can observe something of the backdrop against which the role of the adviser is fashioned. Practical problems are not always solved by Homeric counsel, but this means that the competitive and competitively performative relationships that stratify Homer's society allow another goal for such counsel: the honour accruing to the adviser.11 There is a potential scenario (developed in Stoic advisory practice) in which the prime object of advice-giving is to display (and enjoy the display of) one's excellence as an adviser. Even in such cases the intended result may still be the provision of a practical solution which is acted upon successfully. Scripted in these terms, Cicero's De Republica (1.41-43) looks back to the increased pragmatism


This discussion is substantially informed by Schofield 1999b: 180-194. For the political praxis of cons ilium in Cicero see e.g. Verrines 2.1.4 (only the consilium of the Senate can defend the res publica); Pro Sestio 137; Philippics 3.34 (Cicero's appeal to the Senators makes them authors of consilium for the entire world; cf. Pro Sestio 97 and De Domo Sua 102). In the meantime, Cicero's own consilium liberated (Catiline 3.14; Pro Sulla 33) and even secured (De Domo Sua 93; Post Reditum ad Quirites 16; Pro Milone 36) the res publica. For the relationship between advice and political power at times of crisis, see Steel in this volume. 11 Schofield 1986: 15-16, and again, 1999b:13-14.



of Plato's Laws and to the idealised Homeric performances of boule. The De Republica also, we think, sets up a potentially uncomfortable problem for Romans of the late Republic, viz, how to deal with a professionalization of the advisory role whereby one is forced to be strategic about balancing the actual aim (a magnificent display of advisory prowess and uis) against the ostensible objective (some action taking place resulting in the advisory discourse's intended outcome). Before we tum to analysing the competitive and performative relationships which characterise Roman advice, a look at the Romans' own foundational epic is telling. In the search for models of communal decision-making and wise advisers the reader of Virgil's Roman epic is in for a shock. There are no rhetorically powerful and effective counsellors in the Aeneid; indeed the absence of productive or prolonged debate and advice is a key difference between the 'heroic' societies of Homer and Virgil.12 In fact, Aeneas seems to operate throughout the difficulties he faces in the poem with a striking degree of self-sufficiency, if not impermeability to advice. The main exceptions to this are advice given by gods, and by the dead. For instance, after the burning of the ships, which has left Aeneas in a state of complete aporia, the possibility of counsel is explicitly demonstrated - and annihilated. 13 Aeneas' uncertainty could have been resolved by Nautes, who has excellent Homeric credentials for acting as a Nestor figure (Aeneid 5.704-708) and gives sound advice. However, his advice has no visible effect on Aeneas's anxiety until it is both confirmed and superseded by the subsequent vision of Anchises' ghost (Aeneid 5.724-745). When the advice is reiterated by the dead father and given divine backing, Aeneas immediately acts upon it, editing out Nautes' role, and dispensing with any need for consilium.


Feeney 1983 makes the case for this persuasively. This incident is important in itself as Iris' role in it is one of the ways in which the Aeneid's consistent mistrust of rhetoric - and its incendiary and demagogic powers - is highlighted. 13



Extemplo socios primumque accersit Acesten et louis imperium et earl praecepta parentis edocet et quae nunc animo sententia constet. haud mora consiliis, nee iussa recusat Acestes

Straightaway he calls his friends, Acestes first, and informs them about Jove's command and the counsel of his dear father, and of the decision he had now reached in his mind. There is no delay for deliberation, nor does Acestes refuse the order. (Aeneid 5.746-749)

In this display of autonomy - sanctioned by parental and divine authority - Aeneas comes much closer to operating convincingly as a model for Augustus than he would if he were part of a Homeric council of elders. It is fairly clear from this, given the fragility of the idea of equality between princeps and senators, that an impermeability to outside advice (e.g. from persuasive Greeks or freedmen) must be an essential attribute of the new ruler and his impact on the role of the senate (and position of the consuls) within the res publica. What better way to model this than by distancing Aeneas from his Homeric predecessors with their paradigmatic advisers? Moreover, here we see the role of the human adviser being overwritten by a divinely authorised ancestor, and one who, in effect, speaks as a god. As a blueprint for Augustus, this model suggests that irrespective of who advises him in practice, Rome's destined leader (and diui .filius) channels his real consilium in the form of divine direction. The gap between Aeneas' autonomy and the Homeric boule is not dissimilar to the gap between the principate's effectively authoritarian system and the ideal of consilium envisaged in republican texts such as the De Republica. So, where Cicero wanted to reconcile communal decision-making and advicetaking with a strong personal authority, Virgil's epic rejects the idea of successful collaborative counsel altogether. What matters is that the leader has direct access to both tradition (via the dead - think of Anchises' parade of heroes in the underworld) and to divine authority (via Mercury, for instance). Decisions are made without resort to discussion - and it is telling that one of the few quasi-Homeric debates in the poem is conducted in Aeneas' absence and ends catastrophically. 14 See Feeney 1983: 216, referring to the debate in Book 9 before the expedition of Nisus and Euryalus: 'an undisciplined and excited shambles, which issues in disaster.' 14



Aeneas' lack of mortal counsel is in part to do with the mistrust of rhetoric which pervades the poem. But it is also meant, we suspect, to make him a more plausible model for Augustus - or at any rate for a leader who is free from the taint of Hellenistic kingship. 15 Looking back on Augustan decision-making from a Second Sophistic viewpoint, it appears that Dio Cassius is keen to emphasise, if not Augustus' autonomy, then at least his independence from Greek or any kind of 'professional' advice. For instance, when deliberating on the best way to reconstitute Rome, Augustus is advised, at some lengtp, on forms of government by his close friends Agrippa and Maecenas (52.1). What matters in this scene is the context of amicitia and the trust that Augustus has in these men and in the frankness of their advice (52.41). What qualifies Agrippa and Maecenas to counsel Augustus is their friendship with him, and their integrity as fellow Romans (in effect, as exempla). 16 So, Agrippa is at pains to point out that he is not speaking as the sort of friend who is seeking his own advantage through connection with a powerful man, but that his interest is in the greater good. And Dio ensures that Augustus mentions the frankness of the friends' advice especially (52.43). What is performed in Dio's scene, effectively, is the cooperation of three Roman friends, working out how to run a state without the need for professional, most likely Greek, philosophical help. In staging the deliberations leading to the formation of the 'new' Roman state, Dio also stages the absence of Greek philosophy in its professionalized manifestation (e.g. the adviser to the king). At the same time, knowledge of Greek philosophy clearly informs the advice given, and the way in which Dio presents it. Maecenas, who in fact wins the argument, famously has plenty of the required access to Greek thought and culture - and it is significant that Agrippa, the quintessential Roman man of action, finally agrees to cooperate fully with Maecenas' vision.


Although, like all the prominent late republican political figures, Augustus is often represented as patronising or cultivating members of the Hellenic intellectual community that Rome's imperialising had forced and encouraged to the city and its elite households, he is not seen to have a special adviser or teacher. 16 Cf. Seneca's take on this grouping in De Ben. 6.32.2-4.



There are clear and important differences, then, between the role of Greek teachers and advisers, who are frequently close to their Roman patrons and act as private consultants of a kind, and the advice sought and given between Roman friends. Where advice is part of the give and take of amicitia, it is clearly also subject to the subtle nuances and negotiations of competition and 'social performance' that define the dynamic of Roman friendships. What follows is an initial survey of the range of dynamics and 'positionalities' which inform advice and advising between Greeks and Romans, between Romans and Romans, between philosophers and kings, historians and aristocrats - and between friends, and would-be friends.

2. Advice, the cultivation of the self, and the exemplary performance of virtue Like almost all of the literature of advice, Nestor's advisory aristeia (quoted above) is concerned, broadly, with the governance and control of the self and/or others, and with the figure and performance (and to a degree even the self-scrutiny, in looking back at himself as a fighter) of the adviser himself. Despite the great Homeric paradigm - or perhaps because of its failure - democratic Athens tends to find the processes of internalising advice for adults, outside the framework of education, to be awkward if not impossible. The reason to educate people to the point of self-sufficiency is precisely to make them independent of external advice, however good or useful. 11 So, in the historians, or by Isocrates, advice is dispensed mainly by 'Greek' philosophers to (non- 'Greek') kings. (In tragedy advice to Greek rulers is dispensed - though substantially ignored - by the chorus, by oracles and seers, or, catastrophically, to Euripides' female protagonists, by servants.) All this points to a suspicious or mistrustful attitude vis-a-vis the possibility of (successfully) advising a Greek. (Advising foreigners, and later Romans in particular, is a different matter - as we will see.) Within Athens, the giving of advice, and the

" It seems that Cicero had moments of imagining he had achieved this state: see Ad Q. Fr. 1.1.29.



cultivation of the self in particular, is the province of the philosopher and the educator, and is very much part of paideia (so in Plato and Xenophon we find Socrates advising young men and adolescents to 'attend to themselves'). 18 Greek selves aim to be finished when they grow up - and do not appear to need perpetual scrutiny, unless they are royal. 19 By contrast, Romans are constantly engaged in the creation and perpetuation of moral exempla - and so in the cultivation of the self as exemplum. 20 The difference between moral precept and traditional exemplum is perhaps most clearly stated by Quintilian (An fortitudinem, iustitiam, fidem, continentiam, frugalitatem, contemptum doloris ac mortis melius a/ii docebunt quam Fabricii, Curii, Reguli, Decii, Mucii aliique innumerabiles? Quantum enim Graeci praeceptis valent, tantum Romani, quod est maius, exemplis. 'Who will teach courage, justice, trust, self-control, frugality, and contempt for pain and death better than men like Fabricius, Curius, Regulus, Decius, Mucius and countless others? However good the Greeks are at instruction, Rome can produce exempla, which is a far greater thing.' (Inst. Or. 12.2.30)). It is in the display and the perpetuation of virtue in practice, then, that the best advice is given to Romans - by dead Romans. And the scrutiny of these exempla is clearly responsible for the taste for biography - and autobiography - which is such a distinctive characteristic of Roman intellectual life from the Republic on. 21 Such writings, like the tradition of funerary laudations which underlies them, are all about the display and the cultivation of the self - and Roman identity is formed through the perpetuation and scrutiny

" See Foucault 1986: 48-9. Important here, also, are Demosthenes' position in the tradition of deliberative oratory; ouµl3ouAE'IYtlKTJ; and at Rome - suasoriae. See e.g. Aristotle Rhet. 1.4-8; cf. Quintilian Inst. Or. 8. 1 • As Barker (in this volume) makes clear, Socrates' project in the Laches is extraordinary for this very reason. Sidebottom (in this volume) provides a detailed discussion of Hellenistic and later kingship literature. 20 Livy's formulation of 'Rome' as a parade of super-citizens (9.18.8-19) is a nice illustration, but he sets it up clearly in his Preface. On how this plays out in Seneca's philosophical project, see Habinek 1998: 137-150 and Roller 2001: 88-97. 21 Horsfall 1998: 10-11; Rawson 1985: 229.



of the range of 'lives' on show.22 For Romans the overt soliciting and receiving of advice, along with the publication of self-scrutinising correspondence and other hortatory texts, is a central social and intellectual activity. Moreover, it is (like their obsession with history as exemplary and hortatory) one of the crucial ways of defining and scrutinising Roman (elite) identity.23 Through this practice the models of philosophical (abstract, theoretical) advice on offer in Greek philosophy can be turned into practical exhortation - and feed into the perpetuation of Roman traditional uirtus.24 So, for instance, Nepos describes Atticus as both well-read in Greek philosophy and knowledgeable on antique Roman traditions (Nam principum philosophorum ita percepta habuit praecepta, ut his ad uitam agendam, non ad ostentationem uteretur. moris etiam maiorum summus imitator fuit antiquitatisque amator. 'For he had taken hold of the teachings of the greatest philosophers, so as to use them to lead his life, not merely to show off. He was also the greatest follower of the customs of our ancestors, and lover of antiquity.' Atticus 17.3-18.1 ). Not dissimilarly, Cicero's correspondence, in all its variety, plays out a range of scenarios in which (elite) Romans are advising fellow Romans on practical matters. Correspondingly, Cicero's philosophical works show a world in which Romans have abstract discussions which are at all times justified by the culture and ethos of practice which defines them. 25 Publicising the giving of advice in the late Republic in particular can be in the interests of both parties (adviser and recipient), as long as it is clear that all participants can hope (however tenuously) to undertake each of the two roles at some point - and thereby display the reciprocal qualities of amicitia. 26 On display in the Ad Familiares collection is Cicero's self-


Selden 1992 discusses the link between laudationes, biography, and the culture of rhetorical performance in the late Republic. 23 Foucault 1986: 51-2; Habinek 1998: 54. 24 See Griffin 1989: 12-13, and Habinek 1989. 25 Griffin 1989: 12. 26 Spencer, in this volume, discusses how the potential inequalities in the relationship can play out.



fashioning as part of a collaborative group of advisers/advisees.21 This is overlaid with his moral authority (as author, as correspondent, and as 'Cicero'), and underpinned by his ability to help others in their cultivation of the self; but this cultivation is not embedded in discourses of withdrawal and isolation as Seneca's later version is. In the correspondence with Atticus, Atticus' distance from the executive qualities of political praxis can be seen as an advantage as well as a problem. Atticus' nonparticipation in public life and evident learning qualify him to play the role of Greek philosophical adviser, or even amicus minor. But his inexperience means that he cannot be a practical exemplum nor, therefore, take part in an ideal version of Cicero's consilium. By contrast, while asserting the benefits of Greek philosophy, Cicero's advice to Quintus gives prominence to his own exemplary authority, and his ambition for Quintus to be seen to perform appropriately: Nor will I, so far as in me lies, allow you to be praised without a qualification. For all who come from your province are loud in praise of your ability, integrity, and courtesy, but they make one reservation: your tendency to irascibility. This fault, in everyday and private life, seems to indicate a weak and unstable mind, but nothing looks so ill as the combination of natural acerbity and supreme power. I won't take it upon myself here to expound to you what the philosophers (doctissimi homines) are accustomed to say on the subject of ill temper, since I don't want to take too long and you can easily find it out in the writings of many of them [ ... ] Not so much by any appetite for glory as by accident of circumstance we have been led into a way of life which will make us a theme of conversation (sermones) for all time to come (sempitemus). So let us take care that, if we can possibly help it, it is not said that we had one distinguishing fault (insigne uitium). (Cicero Ad Q. Fr. 1.1.37-38)

What matters here is that both brothers are highly visible, and therefore the impeccable performance of virtue is absolutely necessary. Advising his brother to restrain his anger is one of many gestures Cicero makes in publicly performing the care of the self. This (he hopes) may


Another aspect of Cicero's rhetorical negotiation of his role as adviser and of his authority is the subject of Steel in this volume.



result in his achieving exemplary status and qualifying himself as the adviser par excellence. To this end it is important that Cicero eschews the role of teacher - Quintus already knows the theory, and can access it for himself. What Quintus does not know is how his fellow Romans view him and his actions. What Cicero is going to help him with is the practical task of performing his uirtus to the highest degree, that is, with a practical application of the teaching of the doctissimi homines. In effect, this letter is another example of Roman pragmatism harnessing Greek philosophy for the project of cultivating the perfect and active Roman self. In a letter to Atticus we can see perhaps a more extreme, and more complicated, version of Ciceronian ethopoeia: I now come to January and my 'political attitude' (ad 'fut6crmcrtv' ac '1tOAt'tElcxv'), on which in the Socratics' manner I shall put the case on each side; but in the end, as they are accustomed to do, I shall declare my preference ('tTJV dptcrKoucrcxv). It is, certainly, a matter for careful consideration (consilium). Either I put up a strong resistance to the agrarian law, a course which involves something of a struggle (but a praiseworthy one), or I lie low, which is not dissimilar to heading for Solonium or Antium. Or, finally, I lend my assistance, as they say Caesar confidently expects me to do. Cornelius paid me a visit (Balbus, I mean), Caesar's intimate. He assured me that Caesar will follow my and Pompey's advice in all things, and will try to unite Crassus with Pompey. In this there are the following advantages: a close connexion with Pompey, if I want it, and even with Caesar; a return to gratia with my enemies; peace with the populace, of my third book tranquillity in my old age. But the finale (KtA.tCX., justice, and so on. The Laches, they will also tell you, is about courage or manliness, civSpetcx.;and it is true that the characteristically Socratic question-and-answer conversations occupying the later part of the 'tt dialogue are focussed on attempts to say what this virtue is, civSpetcx. 1t0t' tcn:tv (190d8). But this diagnosis is unsatisfying for several reasons, not least because the notion that this dialogue or any other has one single theme is arguably misconceived. 1 I shall not rehearse all the reasons one

' See Guthrie 1975: 130-1. 'One may as well use this work [the Laches] as any to dispose of the search, which seems to obsess the scholarly world, for a single aim in each and every dialogue, a "chief object", "objet veritable", "fundamental purpose", "real subject", "Hauptzweck", "totius dialogi consilium" and so forth.' He goes on to list nine totally different views on the Laches's 'sujet central' adopted by various reputable scholars youv TJ'tW (I am reminded of a comment by a speaker at ps-Plut. de Musica 113lf: 1tOAAT1 cruV'temx61:wv6ta.cpwvia.),and adds: 'In discussing future dialogues we may spare ourselves references to such single-minded interpretations'. One can only applaud. In his section on the Laches as a whole (124-34) he gives a summary of its 'plot', and some brief but wise observations on philosophical questions which it provokes.



might off er for rejecting courage, in particular, as the central focus of the Laches; I content myself with the observation that by the time this issue is explicitly introduced more than half the dialogue is over; some twelve Stephanus pages have passed and there are only eleven to come. 2 Hence one might argue that if there is an enquiry that runs through the entire work and holds it together, its subject can hardly be courage, even though may provide (by modem standards) more the discussion of cx.vOpEia. meaty fare than the remainder. It has often been noticed, on the other hand, that the early part of the dialogue refers several times to situations and actions which can be construed as illustrations of courage (see e.g. 181a7-b4, and the military scenarios envisaged in the speeches of Nicias and Laches at 181d8184c8). They do something to prepare the reader for the later discussion of this virtue, and it would be idle to deny that - once the text has been read through to the end - one can see that the theme has been implicitly in the air throughout. 3 But it is not the only persisting theme, and it is arguably not the one which runs most strongly and visibly through the work as a whole. A persuasive case can be made for saying, instead, that the all-pervading and unifying topic of the Laches is not a specific virtue, as it is in so many other Platonic works, but a specific nexus of social practices, those involved in the intricate human enterprise of seeking,

' This point is often noted, but commentators have generally seen it in a rather different light from the one proposed here. For a characteristic if rather extreme example see Santas 1969: 433. 'The main conversation in the Laches is about courage. But the main conversation does not begin till the middle of the dialogue. In the first half Plato sets the stage for the serious discussion that follows.' His assumptions are very clearly conveyed in his talk of 'the main conversation' and 'the serious discussion' - as though everything that precedes it is mere frivolity. This approach not only conflicts with my own and e.g. those of Stokes 1986 and Emlyn-Jones 1999, but seems also to fall foul of Guthrie's strictures (n. l above). 3 See especially the admirable study of the Laches in Stokes 1986: 36-113. His perspective on the dialogue is nearer to mine than most others. But his primary concern is to show how the conceptions of courage at work, and the manner in which this virtue is discussed, arise from and are shaped by the depictions of the characters and their attitudes, interactions and situations. For Stokes like so many others, courage is what the Laches is 'about' (36-7). Cf. also Arieti 1991: 55-61.



giving and receiving advice. The dialogue explores the demands that such interactions impose on the participants, the qualities that they need in order to fulfil their roles satisfactorily, the criteria by which those qualities are to be assessed, and more in the same vein. My purpose in this paper is not to argue directly for this approach to the dialogue's interpretation, and I certainly do not wish to suggest that we should substitute 'advice' (or indeed anything else) for 'courage' in the role of its 'sujet central' (cf. n. 1 above). Students of the Laches might well disagree about the ways in which themes to do with advisers and advice are related to the structure and overall aims of the work, but it cannot be disputed that they are prominently present. 4 I shall begin from that plain fact, and I shall restrict myself to an exploration of just one of these themes. It is one that might easily be overlooked, even after one has convinced oneself that issues of this kind are in the air. I shall try to show that it is nevertheless there to be found, that it is important, and that it is developed along a thoroughly Socratic trajectory which deserves serious consideration. I am inclined to think, too, that its gradual enrichment as the dialogue progresses does much to guide the courses both of its philosophical reflections and of its dramatic plot; but an adequate defence of that view would call for a much more wide-ranging examination of the work than I can undertake in one short paper. A few pages into the dialogue, at 18ld8-184c8, the generals Nicias and Laches offer two other characters, Lysimachus and Melesias, the advice they have been seeking about the education of their sons. It comes in the form of a balanced pair of speeches, of a type thoroughly familiar in the literature of the period; and as regularly happens in such cases (in tragedy, for example, or in accounts of legal proceedings or debates in the assembly), the advice formulated in one of the speeches flatly contradicts that given in the other. The main function of the 'paired speeches' format,

• See Kahn 1996 eh. 6, especially 150-57; his comments are valuable whether or not one accepts the unusual views about the relations between Plato's dialogues which his book proposes. (For an outline of them see eh. 2, particularly 38-42, 59-70).



after all, is to give rhetorical structure and emphasis to the expression of opposing views. But this leaves Lysimachus and Melesias with the problem of deciding which piece of advice to follow, and they seem quite incapable of handling it. The best Lysimachus can do is to appeal, feebly, to Socrates for a casting vote ( 184c9-d4 ), and that is a game which Socrates, characteristically, has no intention of playing. We shall consider the passage further in a little while. At this point in the dialogue, then, the impression we get of the person who is seeking advice is entirely negative. All we can say is that he has a problem in the face of which he feels helpless. One adviser says 'Do this' and the other says 'Don't', and he seems to have no resources of his own on which he can draw to decide between them. If we rely simply on the characterisation of Lysimachus here and in later parts of the Laches (since his part~er Melesias is almost wholly silent), this impression of an ethical and intellectual void is likely to be reinforced. But it is an illusion. This neglected and apparently empty figure, the person who seeks advice and receives it, is the 'hidden protagonist' of my title; and there is much more to him than at first meets the eye. We can make a start by going back to the beginning of the dialogue. It opens with a long speech by the advice-seeker Lysimachus, occupying almost two full pages of the Oxford Text (l78al-180a5); it is much the longest contribution he makes at any stage of the conversation. The speech reads a little like a Euripidean prologue, outlining the situation from which the drama begins and setting an agenda for its development. Lysimachus and Melesias, it turns out, have taken Nicias and Laches to watch a display by a man showing off his expertise at fighting in armour; and now that the display is over, Lysimachus is explaining to the generals why he and Melesias asked them to come and watch it with them. The point is that they have sons, and they want them to make the best of themselves. That will not be achieved, they think, if they simply let the boys run wild like most of their contemporaries. Their own situation proves the point, since they put down their own lack of civic distinction to the fact that their eminent fathers, Aristides the Just and Thucydides (the political rival of Pericles, not the historian), were so engrossed in



affairs of state that they neglected the proper upbringing of their children. 5 What they want is to provide their sons with appropriate education and training; and the question on which they are seeking the advice of Nicias and Laches, as substantial statesmen and military officers, is whether, as part of this project, they should send the boys to be trained in the skill displayed by the expert they have been watching. 6 That is the broad scenario; we should now consider some of the details of the speech that sets it out.7 One of the first things that Lysimachus does is to contrast Nicias and Laches with useless advisers who are unwilling to take the business seriously and refuse to say what they really think. He and Melesias have chosen to seek advice from these two people in

' A distinguished recent translator of the dialogue remarks in his introduction that Lysimachus and Melesias are 'telling illustrations of the Socratic claim that the greatest statesmen of Athens were unable to transmit their virtue to others, including their own sons, and they are cited by name for this at Meno 94a-d, as part of an argument against the claim that virtue can be taught. They are, as it were, something in the nature of walking counterexamples' Allen 1996: 49. This comment fits the Meno, but does not match Lysimachus' presentation of the case in the Laches; he has no doubt that good education is conducive to dpei;ri, and that his own and Melesias' failings are due to the fact that they were not properly educated. The conversation as a whole is premised on the assumption that training of the right kind will generate dpe,;ri in their sons; the question is only what kind that is. Neither Socrates nor anyone else in the dialogue (not even Laches at 182d184c) raises doubts about the assumption itself. • The treatment of 'fighting in armour' as a specialised skill to be taught professionally seems to have been something of a novelty; but the exponent mentioned in the Laches, a certain Stesilaos, was not the only person offering to teach it. We hear of others in this dialogue, and it is also the branch of teaching to which the sophists Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, the egregious brothers who take the stage in Plato's Euthydemus, had devoted themselves at an earlier stage of their career (Euthyd. 27ldl-272al, 273c4-7). It belongs, in fact, to the same context of educational free-marketeering as do the more familiar intellectual offerings of fifth-century sophists. The question whether Lysimachus' and Melesias' sons should study armed fighting with Stesilaos is approached here in much the same spirit as the question raised more elaborately in the Protagoras, whether the young Hippocrates should entrust himself to Protagoras for a training in civic excellence (Prot. 3lla8-314c2, 318al-d4). 7 For a very different interpretation of this passage and of Lysimachus' contributions later in the dialogue see Emlyn-Jones 1999: 124-6. This fascinating and perceptive article deserves much closer attention than I can give it here.



particular because, in their opinion, they are Ka\. \1eavo~ yvfu.iat Ka.\. yv611't(Xc; a1t11.fu; dv e\1tetv d OOKEt(178b3-4), both equipped with the relevant knowledge and disposed to speak their minds on the subject freely.8 It is already clear, then, that the role of the advice-seeker makes certain demands on the person who undertakes it; he cannot be merely a moral and intellectual blank. He must at least be prepared to form a judgement about who will be an appropriate adviser, a judgement based on his estimate both of a candidate's experience and mental capacity, and of his social or behavioural dispositions. Such judgements and the foundations on which they should rest become a central talking-point in later parts of the dialogue. Secondly and obviously, the advice-seeker must be committed to some project about whose conduct the advice is sought. I have already outlined what Lysimachus' project is. He has then a definite purpose, and a clearly articulated set of motives underlying it. In that sense he knows exactly what he wants to do, and he is convinced that he is right to attempt it. The difficulty which prompts him to seek advice rather than to act immediately does not arise from any uncertainty about his aims and priorities. It is rather that he believes, rightly or wrongly, that he lacks the qualifications which would entitle him to have confidence in any unaided decision he might make about the means by which his objective will best be pursued. Next, in explaining his purpose to the generals, Lysimachus takes great care to represent it in a positive ethical light; he repeatedly uses language which implicitly commends it. The plan is to 'look after' the boys (t1ttµe11.eicr8at,l 79a5, a8), to 'nurture' them (8epcx.1tE'UEtV, 179b2),

• Compare Socrates' pointedly but only partly ironical praises of Callicles at Gorgias 486d-487b. There is little to be gained from conversation with a person who lacks Though Callicles is Callicles' qualities of bttcr'tiJµTJ11't£ x:a\. dwo1a11 x:a\. 1t0.PPTJcria11. notoriously one of Socrates' most formidable opponents, the situation is not as different from that in the Laches as it might appear; Callicles has just offered Socrates a torrent of advice on the conduct of his life (485e-486d), and although it too has an ironical edge it arises directly from his real convictions, and is a clear example of the outspoken sincerity for which Socrates commends him.



to do what 'ought' (XP'll)to be done (179b4), to make them as 'excellent' as possible (d.ptcr'tOl, 179b2, d7), to promote their development as outstanding citizens, worthy of the distinguished names they bear ( l 79d25), and so on. There is then an ethical dimension to the advice-seeker's project, one that requires him to subscribe, or at least to purport to subscribe, to a set of values that can be paraded as thoroughly admirable. But in depicting the project in this way Lysimachus is also engaging in a particular sort of rhetoric, and it is crucial to the immediate business of his speech. He points out that the two generals also have sons of a similar age, and that Nicias and Laches, surely, have taken thought for those boys' good upbringing. He is daring enough even to suggest that if they have not, then they ought to have done so (179b2-6), and that he is justified in calling on them to work together with himself and Melesias towards an objective which all four fathers must share. His appeals to the ideals of patriotism and the achievement of glory in the service of the city are also well calculated to ring the right bells with these eminent soldiers and statesmen. In short, Lysimachus sees the need and finds the means to persuade the chosen advisers to undertake the task, that is, to fall in with his wishes and give him the advice he requires. He does so through a rhetorical strategy which makes common cause with the potential advisers, grounding the enterprise he is pursuing both in broad ethical values and in particular concerns which all parties to the negotiation are represented as sharing. Words expressing the shared nature of the business in fact proliferate in this opening stretch of the text, cruµj3ouAoc;, cruµf30UAE'l>Etv and cruµJ3ouAE'l>E0"8a.1, cruµf30UAT1,cruµ1tapa.AaµJ36,vE1v,KOlVOOv6c;, KOlVOOvt.a, KOlVOOVEtV and others in the same vein, several of them many times repeated. The motif of sharing is another that we shall eventually have to revisit. We can extract from this first speech, then, a rather elaborate and positive set of attributes attached to the seeker of advice. He has a definite project, but is uncertain about the means by which it can best be accomplished; and he has an acceptable explanation for his incapacity. He is in possession of criteria by which, so he believes, he can distinguish good advisers from useless ones, and he has reasons for believing that the people to whom he is appealing will be advisers of the right sort. The



project is one to which he is seriously committed, on the basis of values that can be cast in a favourable ethical and social light, and which he claims as his own. He can identify aspects of the situation which enable him to treat the potential advisers as sharing his own concerns and commitments, so that his purpose can be represented as one to which they too must subscribe. More generally, he understands that a request for advice imposes a burden on the persons addressed, and that he needs to devise ways of persuading them to fall in with his wishes; he must accordingly be capable of exercising, in speech, persuasion of an appropriate and effective sort. All in all, his role demands the display of a considerable range of positive attributes and capacities, intellectual, verbal and ethical. He is discriminating, socially perceptive, strongly committed to a worthwhile enterprise, self-aware, well motivated and rhetorically resourceful. He seems very far removed from the inanely helpless creature whom I introduced at the beginning.9 In response to Lysimachus' opening speech, Nicias and Laches both agree to help as best they can. But they suggest that Lysimachus should also seek the advice of Socrates, who happens to be with them (180b7c4).10There is more to be learned about this seeker of advice from his reactions to that proposal, and to what he is told about Socrates in the subsequent exchanges. In the first place he is delighted to hear that Socrates is someone who has given serious consideration to the topic of education. Unlike some other conventionally respectable figures in Plato's dialogues, he is not under the illusion that a sound education can be achieved simply by following the norms of tradition; despite his advanced age, as the whole tenor of his quest indicates, he is open-minded about the potential merits of the new-fangled educational products for sale in contemporary Athens, and realises that they need to be studied carefully in order to be properly assessed. He is impressed, also, by Laches' account

• According to the diagnosis offered by Emlyn-Jones (n. 7 above), by contrast, Lysimachus is at the start, and remains, an entirely empty and futile figure. 10 See again Emlyn-Jones 1999: 124, where he points out that Socrates' considerably late entry into the conversation is unique in Plato's dialogues, and discusses this fact's significance.



(181a7-b4) of Socrates' valiant behaviour in the retreat from Delium, recognising his moral stature and sturdy patriotism, as well as his knowledge, as ingredients essential to the make-up of a good adviser. The principal focus of the remarks he addresses to Socrates is quite different, however. He has not met Socrates before; but now that they have been introduced he realises who he is from his own personal point of view. Back in the old days, it turns out, he and Socrates' father were the best of friends, and remained so right up to the latter's death. This, he someone tied to him in a bond says, makes Socrates his 1ta1:ptx:6c;lAoc;, of friendship inherited from their fathers; and on that basis, together with the fact that they are fellow demesmen, he claims it as his right to call on Socrates' services as an adviser. Socrates must come and visit him at home, he says, and get to know him and his family and cement their tAla;and Socrates is inescapably bound by the fact that they are lAot and oiK'.EtOt to help Lysimachus in his present difficulty (180d4-181c9). His effusive speeches read almost like a Homeric appeal to the conventions of guest-friendship, with Lysimachus speaking to Socrates much as Diomedes addresses Glaukos in Book 6 of the Iliad. It is also another resourceful deployment of the strategy he used with Laches and Nicias, that of securing the adviser's help by making common cause with him. To most of us nowadays, I suspect, the common bond identified between him and Socrates will seem quite different in kind from the broad ethical principles uniting Lysimachus and the generals; but I suspect also that to Plato's original readers an appeal based upon it would have appeared at least equally pressing and persuasive. It would be futile to quibble over whether or not it counts as a properly 'moral' consideration, a question that could scarcely be expressed, let alone understood, in the ethical vocabulary of the period. The essential point is that when it is. set out in this way the appeal becomes one that it is socially impossible for Socrates to refuse. The task of seeking advice, like that of giving it, is one which a person may carry through badly or well. In the role of adviceseeker, Lysimachus is nobody's fool. He is in fact a remarkably accomplished performer. But his role does not end there. He must not only seek and secure advice but receive it and know what to do with it when he gets it; and that,



as we have seen, is where his resources seem to run out. It is time to go back to the passage from which we began. When Nicias and Laches disagree in the advice they give, and Lysimachus calls on Socrates for a casting vote, Socrates affects surprise. 'What?', he says, 'Do you intend to follow whichever policy the greater number of us supports?' (184d5-6), obviously implying that to do so would be absurd. On the face of it Lysimachus' reaction is perfectly natural. 'Yes', he says, 'What else could one do?' (184d7); and it is easy for the reader to sympathise. After all, the structure of the scene, with its speeches first on one side and then on the other, followed by the moment when a decision is called for, is plainly based on the procedures of the assembly and the law-courts, where the issue would indeed be decided by a majority vote. But that way of looking at it is misleading. What Lysimachus has elided is the inconvenient fact that in this instance it is to him and Melesias that the opposing pair of speeches has been addressed, and that it is they and no one else who are the counterparts of the jury in the court or the citizen-body in the assembly. It is they themselves who are required to make a decision and to act, on the basis of their own judgement of the merits of the cases that have been made; it would be irrational and irresponsible to accept automatically the majority verdict of some other group of assessors, or to judge merely by the number of speeches that have been made on one side or the other. The person advised still has a crucial positive role to play; it is on his judgement and no one else's that the decision must eventually tum. From this point in the dialogue onwards, Socrates becomes the master of ceremonies, as previously he had not. If he is to help Lysimachus to understand and fulfil his function, what he must apparently do is to show him how to assess the arguments put forward by Nicias and Laches, and to come to a reasoned decision. But in fact he does nothing of the sort. In the whole of the rest of the conversation, not a word is said about the contents of those speeches, or even about the ways in which such pieces of reasoning ought in general to be assessed. What Socrates does is to divert attention away from the advice that has been given onto something quite different, that is, onto the credentials of the adviser. The remainder of the dialogue is devoted almost entirely to an investigation of the



qualities that a reliable adviser must have, and to the question whether either Laches or Nicias possesses them. It is worth recalling that the very first claim made by Lysimachus in his opening speech was that he has identified the qualifications of good advisers in this pair of prominent citizens. In that passage he represented the business of distinguishing good advisers from bad as an essential part of the advice-seeker's task. Socrates seems to agree, and his recapitulation and development of the theme contributes more than anything else to the dialogue's overall coherence. The help he is trying to give apparently consists in equipping the advice-seeker to perform this aspect of his role effectively and appropriately. But in his hands, predictably enough, what seemed at the outset a tolerably straightforward task becomes deeply problematic, even, in the end, one in which it is impossible to succeed. Socrates sets out by contending that if you want to know whose advice to follow, what you should look for is not a representative of majority opinion, as Lysimachus has implied, but someone who is an expert in the relevant field. Hence the question which the person seeking advice must fl ot'>, settle is el tcn:tv i:tc; riµcov i:ex,vtKoc;1tep\ ou J3ou)..eu6µe8cx. 'whether there is among us someone who is an expert on the subject about which we are deliberating, or not' (185al). He proposes various criteria by which a genuine expert may be recognised, but these need not detain us here. What matters for our purposes is the task imposed on the receiver of advice. He must be capable of identifying appropriate criteria of relevant expertise, and of conducting a careful assessment, on that basis, of the credentials of any potential adviser ( 185b l - l 87b7). Let us pause for a moment to consider the way in which the characters are lined up at this moment in the dialogue. Nicias and Laches have agreed to be advisers and have offered pieces of advice which are still on the table. They, then, are cast in the roles of potential advisers whose qualifications are to be assessed; and in another pair of substantial speeches (187e6-189b7), each agrees to submit to Socrates' scrutiny of his credentials. Socrates himself, who was originally cast as an accessory adviser, now lines up on the other side, as one of those who are listening to advice and assessing the credentials of those who give it. At l 89c3-d3 he is directly requested by Lysimachus to conduct the enquiry on his



behalf, since he himself, he says, is too old and forgetful to do it properly. Socrates falls in with his request. Plato thus brings out the nature of the demands made on the receiver of advice both negatively and positively, first by drawing attention twice over to the inadequacy of Lysimachus in that role, and secondly by presenting Socrates as a substitute for him. In Socrates, we must suppose, we shall find all the qualities that the proper performance of the role demands; in effect he is re-cast as the ideal receiver of advice. The speeches in which Nicias and Laches signal their willingness to be tested by Socrates do something to suggest what those qualities might be. Nicias has experienced Socratic debates before, and realises that the enquiry will amount to an assessment of his whole way of life, past and 'tp61tov 'tE ~TI K 19 ciA.T18Eta.. The epigram demands to be read as advisory via its secondperson mode of address and use of imperatives. Both of these features are very rare in Loukillian skoptic epigram, except when engaging in dietetic advice - or vilifying women. 20 The advice is also dietetic, with specifically


Examples include (among many): AP 11.132, 11.134, 11.140, 11.189, 11.191. See also AP 9.572's complex parody of Homer and Hesiod with mock-Callimachean overtones, discussed by Nisbet (n. 9), 37-47. Louk.illian parody of Aratus: AP 11.136. Imitation of Loukillios' technique by Nikarkhos: AP 11.328, discussed by Nisbet (n. 9), 82-5. For a sophisticated second-century elaboration of Louk.illios' technique, enlisting Parthenius and Callimachus along with Homer, cf. Pollianos, AP 11.130. 18 LSJ 6A.A.Uµ1 A II (a usage subsequently picked up by tragedy); to d'tA.TJ'tOlO'lV tv tAlav etµEvoc;· 1t&atyc'x.p civ8prorcotcnv£Acb1t0Ai>KpecrcrovaTJµ\ 'tTJVct>avEpc'x.v tx,8pav 't'lla.Aouc; 1te'tpac;'tOll ct>a vEpOllcr1ttAa.ocov. (AP 11.390: Loukillios)

'If you're my friend, be my friend indeed; don't treat me unjustly, making friendship the basis for harmful behaviour. For I say that for all men honest enmity is better than treacherous friendship. As the saying goes: for ships at sea, hidden reefs are worse than obvious rocks.'

Stylistically, like the preceding epigram, AP 11.390 displays some Loukillian characteristics familiar from the 'satirical' part of the corpus. including modified repetition (e.g. in line 1) as well as the familiar fondness for heavy-handed paradox. The use of multiple short connectives and modifiers, most obvious in lines 1-2, is another common Loukillian trait which this epigram shares with AP 11.389. One 'satirical· characteristic which seems to have been bypassed is literary parody via ironic paraphrase and misquotation. Instead we see Loukillios recycling folk wisdom (cj)a,cr\., line 5) in a bare-bones priamel with unmistakable hortatory force. Again the implicit context is recuperable as, at least, loosely sympotic via its explicit themes of homosociality and socially licensed free speech. J3A.a.1t'tEtv (line 2) in this context is readable either in terms of what happens outside the symposium - the dissembling addressee is a friend to the focaliser's face, but an enemy when his back is turned - or, more intriguingly, to comment reflexively upon appropriate



and inappropriate skoptic behaviour within a sympotic context, an issue of concern to writers on dietetics in the Second Sophistic including Plutarch. 22 Either way, the epigram is as implicitly celebratory of that context as was its predecessor. Whether the symposium is 'live' or construed via the act of reading a structured literary collection, this frank and potentially confrontational admonition does not so much solicit compliance as presuppose enthusiastic endorsement - and flatters via that presupposition. By this choice of reading, and assuming the symposium is not about to fall apart in disarray, the addressee is the one person who definitely doesn't need to hear this advice - and that's why it's given. (Then again, perhaps Loukillios is just very tactless.) So this epigram appears, on first acquaintance, to be far more straightforwardly 'advisory' than its predecessor. It applies a strong normative and perhaps a reflexive force within a familiar, rule-bound social space (or at least within its literary simulation). Its blunt admonition may appear problematic on a surface reading, but this same bluntness both evokes the necessary interpretative context (symposiac frankness, tv olvq> d11,118eta)and scripts the addressee as a like-minded comrade to whom the narrator can freely speak his mind. But can such a reading stand a closer, intratextually-orientated reading? Loukillios' appeal to popular wisdom for his behavioural parable immediately contaminates the advisory seriousness that it is (seemingly) intended to convey. Shipwrecks and leaky boats may sound a recherche theme for humorous treatment, but in fact they are a staple Loukillian 'satirical' topic. Their popularity is suggested by the several extant epigrams in the Anthology and confirmed by Nikarkhos' surviving imitations, which substantially replicate Loukillios' familiar treatment.23 Even the directness of register, which seemed so striking an 'advisory' feature in AP 11.389, is compromised by association. All of Loukillios' extant shipwreck poems feature an explicitly first-person narrating persona, a feature otherwise atypical of this author, and these must in some sense contaminate the advice-giving Quaest. Conviv. 2.1.1. Loukillios' leaky boats: AP 11.245-7. Close imitations by Nikarkhos: AP 11.321-2. One of the new Nikarkhan epigrams from P.Oxy. LXVI 4502 is yet another variation on this Loukillian staple. 22




persona of AP 11.390. (As the joke runs, 'Someone's car is stolen every thirty seconds ... and he's getting pretty annoyed.') Loukillios uses the same mode of direct address within a mock-autobiographical satirical epigram on his own shipwreck experiences (which he may well have scripted as a generic marker to link him to Archilochean invective) - by no means a straightforward poem. 24 More intriguingly, in at least a few surviving epigrams (e.g. AP 11.212), he also seems to develop Braundian self-incriminating 'satirical' personae in the first person. Although this line of speculation can never move beyond the status of mischievous thought-experiment, one might easily imagine a scenario (set up via lostforever sequentiality in an original Loukillian book) where the indignant speaker of AP 11.390 has already been set up for us as a pompous idiot; the joke would then be on them. Is this epigram then advisory, satirical, both, or neither? Small wonder that students of the genre tend to leave these poems alone; but we might wish to consider the possibility that this same problematic ambiguity is, somehow, part of what encouraged successive anthologists to preserve these particular poems.

AP 11.391: of mice, misers and men

Muv 'AcnCA.TJ1ttCX.OTJc; 6 (j>tA.CX.pyupoc; eloev EVollcc.p, IC